Allâhu ta’âlâ’s Decree and Preordainment

Question: What does belief in qadar (Allah’s decree and preordainment) mean? Can it be denied?

ANSWER
The sixth fundamental of iman (faith) is belief in qadar and that both khair (good) and sharr (evil) are from Allahu ta’ala. The statement “Wa bil qadari khayrihi wa sharrihi minallahi ta’ala,” which appears in the Amantu, teaches that one must believe in the fact that qadar, good, and evil are all from Allâhu ta’âlâ.

Good and evil, advantage and harm, profit and loss coming upon human beings are all by Allahu ta’ala’s will. The lexical meaning of qadar is to measure a quantity; decision, order; muchness and largeness. Allahu ta’ala’s eternal will for the existence of something is called qadar. The [instance of] occurrence of qadar, that is, the thing willed, is called qada’. Qada’ and qadar are also used interchangeably. Accordingly, qada’ means Allâhu ta’âlâ’s predestination in eternity of things that have been and will be created from eternity in the past to the everlasting future, and qadar means the [instance of] creation of anything just compatibly with qada’, neither less nor more. In eternal past, Allahu ta’ala knew everything that would happen. This knowledge of His is called qada’ and qadar.

All animals, plants, non-living creatures [solids, liquids, gases, stars, molecules, atoms, electrons, electromagnetic waves, every movement of every creature, physical events, chemical and nuclear reactions, relations of energy, physiological events in the living creatures] existence or nonexistence of everything, good and evil deeds of human beings, their punishment in this world and in the next world and everything existed in Allahu ta’ala’s knowledge in eternity. He knew all in eternity. Things that happen from eternity in the past to everlasting future, their peculiarities, movements, and every event are created by Him in accord with what He knew in eternity. All the good and evil deeds of human beings, their belief or disbelief in Islam, all their actions—done willingly or unwillingly—are created by Allahu ta’ala. He alone is the One who creates and makes everything that happens through a sabab (cause, means, intermediary). He creates everything through some means.

For example, fire burns. In reality, Allâhu ta’âlâ is the One who creates burning. Fire does not have anything to do with burning. But His custom (’adat) is such that unless fire touches something He does not create burning. [Fire does nothing except to heat up to the ignition temperature. It is not fire that unites carbon and hydrogen with oxygen in organic substances or that supplies electron movements. Those who cannot realize the truth presume that fire does these. It is neither fire nor oxygen nor heat nor the electron movement that burns or makes this reaction of burning. Only Allahu ta’ala is the One who burns it. He created each of these as means for burning. A person lacking knowledge thinks that fire burns. A boy who finishes elementary school disapproves of the statement “Fire burns.” He says, “The air burns,” instead. A person who finishes junior high school does not accept this. He says, “The oxygen in the air burns.” A person who finishes high school says that burning is not peculiar to oxygen, but any element attracting electron burns. A university student takes into consideration energy as well as matter. It is seen that the more a person knows the closer he gets to the inside of a matter and realizes that there are many causes behind the things regarded as causes. Prophets, who were in the highest degree of knowledge and science and who could see the reality of everything, and the scholars of Islam, who, following in their footsteps, attained drops from their oceans of knowledge, point out that each of the things supposed to be combustive or constructive today is an incapable and poor causal means and creatures and that the real Maker and Creator is not means or causes but Allâhu ta’âlâ.] Allâhu ta’âlâ alone is the One who burns. He can burn without fire as well, but it is His custom to burn with fire. If He wills not to burn, He prevents burning even in fire. He did not burn Ibrahim ’alaihis-salam in fire. Because He loved him very much, He suspended His custom. [As a matter of fact, He created substances preventing fire from burning. Chemists discover these substances.]

If Allâhu ta’âlâ had willed, He could have created everything without means. He could have burnt something without fire, nourished us without us eating, and made us fly without an airplane and hear from a long distance without a radio. But He did humans the favor of creating everything through some means. He willed to create certain things through certain intermediaries. He did His works under intermediaries and concealed His Power behind them. He who wants Him to create something holds on to its means and thus obtains it. [He who wants to light a lamp uses matches; he who wants to extract oil from olive uses crushing tools; he who has a headache takes an aspirin; he who wants to go to Paradise and attain infinite favors adapts himself to Islam; he who shoots himself with a pistol or who drinks poison will die; he who drinks water when in a sweat will lose his health; he who commits sins and loses his faith will go to Hell. Whichever intermediary a person applies, he will obtain the thing for which that intermediary has been made a means. He who reads Islamic books learns Islam, likes it, and becomes a Muslim. He who lives among the irreligious and listens to what they say becomes ignorant of Islam. Most of those who are ignorant of Islam become disbelievers. When a person gets on a vehicle, he goes to the place it has been assigned to go.]

It is fard to believe in qadar. This is established by the Qur’an al-karim and hadith-i sharifs. Allahu ta’ala knows with His eternal knowledge when humans and other creatures will be born, when they will die, and what they will do. A god must know all things and be able to do everything. The one who does not know and who is impotent, needy, and mortal cannot be a god. Allahu ta’ala knows what everybody will do. The Qur’an al-karim says (what means): “Allah knows what they did and what they will do” (Al-Baqarah 255).

All events that will befall humans and all information concerning their birth, death, and deeds are written in a book called al-Lawh al-Mahfuz. The pieces of information in this book are called qadar. There are many Qur’anic verses about qadar, some of which are as follows:

(No disaster takes place in the earth or befalls you, but it is [recorded in al-Lawh al-Mahfuz] in a book before We create it. This is certainly easy for Allah.) [Al-Hadid 22]

(There is no one whose death is not conditional upon Allah’s permission.) [Al-i 'Imran 145]

(It is Allah alone who decrees the time of death.) [Al-An'am 2]

(Everything they did, small or great, is written line by line in the books.) [Al-Qamar 52, 53]

(Every nation has a time of death. When it comes, it neither remains behind nor goes forward by a moment.) [Al-A'raf 34]

(We created everything by qadar [according to a measure].) [Al-Qamar 49]

(Allah knows the place where every living creature stands and where it will be left in the end. All of them are in a clear book [Al-Lawh al-Mahfuz].) [Hud 6]

(Not an atom’s weight of thing in the heavens or on earth remains hidden from Him. Anything smaller or greater than that is in a clear book.) [Saba' 3]

(The lifetime granted to a living being and its being diminished are certainly in a book.) [Fatir 11]

Our Master the Prophet explained the above-mentioned Qur’anic verses. Belief in qadar is one of the six fundamentals of faith. It is stated in hadith-i sharifs: (Iman [faith] is to believe in Allah, angels, books, prophets, the Day of Resurrection [that is, Paradise, Hell, the Reckoning, and the Balance], qadar, that good and evil are from Allah, death, and the Resurrection after death. It is to bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that I am His servant and messenger.) [Bukhari, Muslim, Nasai]

(Belief in qadar is one of the essentials of faith.) [Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi]

(He who does not believe in qadar will not attain the reality of faith.) [Nasai]

(He who denies qadar has no share from Islam.) [Bukhari]

(Belief in qadar is the basis of belief in the existence and oneness of Allah.) [Daylami]

(Wicked people will talk about qadar in the Last Age.) [Hakim]

(Those who deny qadar will appear in the Last Age.) [Tirmidhi]

(I am anxious about these three things that will take place in the Last Age: believing what soothsayers say, the rejection of qadar, and the tyranny of rulers.) [Tabarani, Ibn 'Asakir, Hatib, Ibn Abi Asim]

(Do not reject qadar; Christians reject it.) [Jami-us-saghir]

(My Ummah is firm in the religion unless they reject qadar. They will perish when they deny it.) [Tabarani]

(Whoever denies qadar will not be looked at with a look of mercy in the Hereafter.) [Ibn Adiyy]

(I am afraid of these three things:
1. The slip-up of a scholar,
2. Hypocrites’ getting into a dispute by saying, “The Qur’an says so,”
3. The rejection of qadar.)
[Tabarani]

(Hold your tongue when qadar is mentioned.) [Tabarani]

(All prophets curse him who denies qadar.) [Tabarani]

(No one is considered to have believed until he believes in qadar and that good and evil are from Allah and until he believes that whatever has befallen him would have never missed him and whatever was decreed not to befall him will never befall him.) [Tirmidhi]

(All prophets cursed the following:
1. He who interpolates into the Book of Allah what is not in it
[he who lies by saying "It is written so in the Qur'an" or who interprets the Qur'an according to his/her own opinion],
2. He who denies Allah’s qadar,
3. A cruel ruler who exalts whom Allah has degraded and who degrades whom Allah has exalted.)
[Tabarani] (For example, esteeming a sinner and giving him/her an important position but holding a pious person in low regard and giving him/her a worthless and despicable position.)

It is Allahu ta’ala who creates qadar. Indeed, it is He who creates everything. Some hadith-i sharifs say (what means): (Allahu ta’ala states: “I am the Lord of the worlds. None but I determine good and evil. Woe to him about whom I wrote evil. Happy is he about whom I wrote good.”) [Ibn Najjar] (Allahu ta’ala certainly knows whether His servants will do good deeds or evil deeds and whether they will go to Hell or Paradise. And He writes what He knows. Man is not compelled to do something as He wrote it. The Jabriyyah sect says that Allah makes His servants do something by force. The Mu’tazila sect denies Allah’s qadar.)

(All deeds are from Allahu ta’ala, whether good or bad.) [Tabarani]

(The Qadariyyah has no share from Islam. They say that evil was not predestined.) [Bayhaqi] [The Qadariyyah refers to the Mu'tazilah]

(The Balance is in the hand[1] of Allahu ta’ala, the Compassionate. He exalts some people, and He abases some others.) [Bazzar]

(For whomever Allahu ta’ala wills good, He gives the livelihood of that person with ease. For whomever He wills evil, He gives his livelihood with difficulty.) [Bayhaqi]

(Allahu ta’ala said: “Whoever believes in Me but does not believe in qadar and that good and evil are by My preordainment, let him look for another Rabb besides Me.”) [Shirazi]

(The destruction of my Ummah is caused by three things: racism, denial of qadar, and disregarding narration [to present one's personal views as the religion].) [Tabarani]

(Allahu ta’ala created the Pen first and ordered it, “Write the qadar and what happened and what will happen.”) [Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud]

(Everything was written in the eternal past, and the Pen dried up.) [Tirmidhi] (That is, qadar and preordainment came to an end, and nothing was left for the Pen to write.)

(If all people gathered to benefit you, they could do no more than that which Allahu ta’ala preordained for you. If all people strived to do you harm, they could do no more than that which Allahu ta’ala preordained for you because [the ink of] the Pen writing qadar dried up, and its records have become final in a way that cannot be changed.) [Tirmidhi]

When people asked the Messenger of Allah, “O Messenger of Allah, since the deeds we did and we will do were preordained and written, what is the point in doing a deed?” he answered, “Everybody gets ready for his deed” and “Everybody gets ready for deeds that were preordained” (Muslim, Tirmidhi).

He recited the Shams Sura to another person who asked the same question. The meaning of the verses in question is as follows: (Allahu ta’ala granted ikhtiyar [the right to choose, partial will] to man so that He might teach him good and evil [acts of obedience and sins] and the states of both and so that he might do one of them. He who has purified his nafs [from vices and adorns it with virtues] has been saved. He who has left it in sins, ignorance, and aberration has suffered a loss.) [Ash-Shams 8-10]

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FOOTNOTE
[1]:  Hadrat Imâm-i Ghazâlî writes: Allahu ta’âlâ is free, far from occupying spaces. Since the followers of the false paths did not provide ta’wîl [explaining away, interpretation] for such words as “istiwa,” “yad (hand)”, and “wajh (face),” they deviated into aberrant ways. Allah’s istiwâ over the ‘Arsh means His subjugating it. For example, the meaning of the sentence “The ruler had istiwâ over Iraq without shedding any blood” is “The ruler conquered Iraq without shedding any blood.” Calling this heresy of theirs “the Path of the Salaf,” they slander the Salaf-i Sâlihîn [the Ashâb and the Tâbi’în]. You must not consider the word yad in the phrase yadullah as the hands. For instance, when it is said, “Such and such a city is in the hands of such and such a governor’s hands,” it is understood that that city is not in his hands, but rather he is in control of it. Such words as istiwâ or wajh are made ta’wîl in this manner. (Iljâm-ul-awâm)