Does qadar (destiny) change?

It is a question that many people have difficulty in answering.

When a person says, “qadar changes”, since qadar is a title of the knowledge of Allah, the change of qadar will mean an increase or decrease in the knowledge of Allah, which is not possible.

For instance, Allah knows that a person will die; He ordained it to be so; if that person does not die, that is, if his qadar changes, it will be regarded as if there was a change in the knowledge of Allah; something that Allah knows will not take place, something He does not know will take place, which means an increase and decrease in Allah’s attribute of ilm (knowledge), which is impossible to think about Allah.

That is, the change of qadar means something that Allah knows does not take place, that is, is not created and something that he does not know takes place, which is impossible. 

Then, we have to believe that qadar does not change and that something that is against the knowledge of Allah cannot take place. As a matter of fact, we dealt with this issue under the heading “pre-eternity”.

When we accept that qadar does not change, the following issue arises: Our Prophet (pbuh) states in his hadiths that the life of a person who gives sadaqah will be lengthened, that sadaqah keeps troubles away that visiting relatives will increase one’s sustenance and will bring about abundance.

When we consider those hadiths in isolation, something like this is understood: For instance, Allah preordained a lifespan of 60 years for a person, and He knows that he will live 60 years through His pre-eternal knowledge. However, that person gave sadaqah and he lived more than what Allah preordained, say, 70 years.

Or, Allah knew through His pre-eternal knowledge that he would suffer a misfortune; however, that person gave sadaqah and that sadaqah prevented the misfortune from happening. In the end, something that seemed to be contrary to the knowledge of Allah took place. Although Allah knew that he would die or he would suffer a misfortune, death and misfortune did not take place; that is, his qadar changed.

In that case, we need to consider those two issues together; that is, the fact that qadar does not change because it is a title of Allah’s endless knowledge and there will be no increase or decrease in the knowledge of Allah and the fact that sadaqah lengthens life and keeps troubles away, as it is stated in hadiths, which imply that qadar can change. After this short explanation, now, we will deal with the answer to the question, “Does qadar change?”

Allah has two different qadar books. One of them is Lawh al-Mahw wal-Ithbat (the Tablet of Erasure and Confirmation). And the other is Lawh al-Mahfuz wal-Azam (the Preserved Tablet).

The qadar book called the Tablet of Erasure and Confirmation is a changeable tablet of Allah Almighty. Everything written in that book depends upon some conditions; if those conditions are not fulfilled, the writing is not realized and it changes.

For instance, it is written in the Tablet of Erasure and Confirmation that a person will live 60 years. However, it is made dependent upon sadaqah given by that person. If he gives sadaqah, he will live 60 years. If not, he will live less. Another example: the following is written in the Tablet of Erasure and Confirmation: A person will live 70 years if he has a heart surgery, if not, he will live 60 years. When that person fulfills a condition, the outcome of that condition is realized and the other writing is deleted. The changes like sadaqah lengthening the life and preventing a misfortune take place in that book of qadar. Allah wrote a misfortune for a person in that book; and He made this misfortune dependent on not giving sadaqah. When that person gives sadaqah, the writing is deleted since the condition for the misfortune was not fulfilled, Thus, that misfortune about that person is not realized.

As a matter of fact, Allah stated the following in the Quran: “Allah doth blot out, or confirm what He pleaseth with Him is the Mother of the Book.” (ar-Ra'd: 39)

This sentence in the verse: “Allah doth blot out what he pleaseth”, that is, the change carried out by cancelling it is carried out in this tablet. That is, the verse informs us about the qadar tablet that is called the Tablet of Erasure and Confirmation.

While some changes take place in this tablet of qadar and the writings in this book depend upon some conditions, no changes take place in the Preserved Tablet, which is the other book of qadar.

LAWH AL-MAHW WAL-ITHBAT: The occurrence of what is written in this book is dependent on some conditions.

LAWH AL-MAHFUZ WAL-AZAM: Allah wrote the last result that would not change in this book.

Since the issues regarding the person in the example, like whether he will give sadaqah, whether he will have a heart surgery, whether he will visit relatives, are known by Allah’s pre-eternal knowledge.  Allah wrote the last result, which will not change, in this tablet. This tablet is the place of manifestation for the endless knowledge of Allah.

However, the rule,  ‘Knowledge is dependent on the thing known’ and the attribute of pre-eternity of Allah, which states that Allah is free from time and space, should not be forgotten. That is, Allah’s knowledge does not force us to do something; on the contrary, Allah knows what we will do using our own will.

Why are there two tablets of qadar?

Now, a question like this can come to the mind: Why are there two tablets of qadar? Why is the book that changes and that depends upon conditions necessary? This question can be answered in 2 ways:

1- Allah arranged this tablet in order to encourage His slaves to do good deeds. Since the slave does not know Allah’s preordination about him and the writing in the unchanging qadar book called the Preserved Tablet, by taking the changeable tablet of qadar into consideration, he will give sadaqah, visit his relatives and do other good deeds in order to have a long, blessed life or to keep away from misfortunes. Thus, he gains rewards.

2- Allah wanted, through this tablet, to make people give up laziness and to encourage them to act in accordance with the rules of cause and effect since they live in a world of wisdom. Thanks to this, a person who does not know what the pre-eternal preordainment of Allah is undergoes a surgery in order to live long, exercises in order to be healthy and works in order to earn his living. That is, he thinks like this: Allah may have attributed the sustenance He will give me to the condition of working, or long life to the condition of undergoing an operation. Therefore, I have to do my duty by acting in accordance with the rules of cause and effect, work to earn my living, do what is necessary for my health and then leave it to Allah to create the outcome and accept what He grants me. Thus, a person gets rid of laziness by acting in accordance with the rules of cause and effect.

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