Belief in Destiny and Predestination

Translated by : A.J. Kassem

   To believe in destiny is to have certainty that Allah knows and has written in the protected heavenly record everything that will happen in His creation before He created them.  Everything that is written in this record is unknown to us except for what is observable and what is revealed by revelation. No one has knowledge of anything except for what Allah, from His wisdom, has allowed them to know.


Believing in Allah’s decree, however, should not prevent any of us from striving to do our best in this life, with respect to our plans, intentions and behavior.  This is because Allah’s knowledge of all things that have occurred and will transpire does not negate the fact that he has given humans free will to make our own choices and to choose between believing in Him and living accordingly and ignoring Him and following our own desires. 


}وَقُلِ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ فَمَن شَاءَ فَلْيُؤْمِن وَمَن شَاءَ فَلْيَكْفُرْ{


{And say, “The truth is from your Lord, so whoever wants to can believe (it), and whoever wants to can deny (it)} (The Quran 18:29)


To further elucidate the fact that every person should try his or her best to leave all evil actions and live righteously for the sake of their eternal salvation, even if this involves temporary discomfort, while maintaining a belief in Allah and His decree, consider the following hadith:


We were accompanying a funeral procession in Baqi` Al-Gharqad (graveyard in Al-Madinah) when the Messenger of Allah () proceeded towards us and sat down. We sat around him. He had a small stick in his hand. He was bending down his head and scraping the ground with the stick. He said, "There is none among you but has a place assigned for him either in the Jannah or in the Hell." The Companions said: "O Messenger of Allah, should we not depend upon what has been written for us (and give up doing good deeds)?'' The Messenger of Allah () said, "Carry on doing good deeds. Everyone will find it easy to do such deeds (as will lead him to his destined place) for which he has been created." (Narrated by AlBukhari, Hadith # 4949)


So, whoever has a correct belief in destiny and predestination will find solace in the knowledge that everything that exists and occurs in the universe is a result of Allah’s knowledge and nothing escapes His justice.  If a person experiences anything good or pleasing, then he will remember to be thankful, and if he experiences any loss or anything displeasing, then he will know that it is limited and temporary and that there is a divine wisdom behind everything, so he will be patient.  If a person who believes in destiny and predestination sees someone who seems to have more than him or her, whether it is more money, health, power, beauty, or knowledge, he will know that this is a part of Allah’s plan, that person is being tested with these bounties, and that there is no need to feel any type of envy or jealousy for something that we have no power to control.


{مَا أَصَابَ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي أَنْفُسِكُمْ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ نَبْرَأَهَا إِنَّ ذَلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ لِكَيْلا تَأْسَوْا عَلَى مَا فَاتَكُمْ وَلَا تَفْرَحُوا بِمَا آَتَاكُمْ وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ{


{No loss occurs on the earth or amongst yourselves except that it is in a register before We bring it into being - indeed, for Allah, that is easy - in order that you not despair over what has eluded you and not be overjoyed with what He has given you, and Allah does not love all self-deluded and boastful (people)} (The Quran 57:22-23)


In order to properly understand the issue of destiny and free will, we should realize that our awareness cannot encompass the details of the nature of Allah’s decree, because it is something unique to Him alone and no one else is similar to Him in this attribute. The fact the He has given human beings a relative degree of autonomy in their decisions while having known everything should be accepted as described in the Quran and by the Prophet, peace be upon him, without attempting to put ourselves in to the mind of God. It is enough that we accept the facts as they are while realizing that any perceived contradiction is only due to the finite nature of our perception.

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