Does the date and time of death never change; or can life be lengthened through prayers (duas)?

The Details of the Question
Does the date and time of death never change; or can life be lengthened through prayers (duas)?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The date of death does not change in the divine knowledge. Allah knows that a person will pray, and He allocates a life to him accordingly.


One of the debatable issues about the future is the issue of “Mughayyabat al-Khamsa”, that is, “five unknown things”. The five issues mentioned in verse 34 of the chapter of Luqman are described as “the keys to the unknown” by the Prophet (pbuh). The relevant verse is as follows:

“Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah (alone). It is He Who sends down rain, and He Who knows what is in the wombs. Nor does anyone know what it is that he will earn on the morrow: nor does anyone know in what land he is to die. Verily with Allah is full knowledge and He is acquainted (with all things).” (Luqman 34)

We can summarize these five issues as follows:

1. The knowledge about Doomsday
2. Rain
3. The properties of the fetus
4. How much a person will earn tomorrow
5. Where a person will die.

Among these five issue, there is no disagreement about number 1, 4 and 5. Nobody says, “We know those issues. Then, they are not unknown.”

As for the issues “He sends down rain” and “He knows what is in the womb”, they are subject to evaluations like, “Does only Allah know about them? Can some people know about them?”

The cause of these discussions is the fact that the weather condition is estimated more or less by the sophisticated weather forecast equipment and the gender of the fetus in the womb is known beforehand through x-ray and ultrasound. Before these instruments were invented, interpreters evaluated these two issues in the scope of “absolute ghayb”; some researchers say, “they are included in relative ghayb and they can be known.”

We regard it useful to mention the following points regarding the issue:

1. The verse “He sends down rain” attributes the rain’s coming down to Allah. The meaning of the verse is not “He knows when it will rain.” When some interpreters explained this verse, they said, “Only Allah knows when it will rain.” Therefore, this meaning became famous among people. That is, the objection at this point is not an objection to the verse but to the interpretation of the verse.

2. The attempts to have rain with cloud seeding does not mean “man can cause rain to fall”. These attempts consist of finding the necessary laws for the formation of rain and making use of them. It does not mean to make rain fall out of nothing. Besides, it is not a method that is not used very often because it has a great risk.

3. What meteorologists do is to determine the conditions that occur in the atmosphere and forecast. Therefore, this determination is not the determination of something unknown but determination of something visible. Something similar to it has been done by rheumatoid patients for centuries; they feel one day before that rain is coming.

4. The verse shows that rain is not based on a certain law. Many changeable conditions and effective causes interfere in the law that it is based on. The divine will, which shows us the sun based on a certain law, did not make rain dependent on such a law. He sends it abundantly to places that He wishes and very little amounts to places that He wishes. He sometimes sends it as mercy and sometimes as flood based on His wish.

5. The verse “He knows what is in the wombs” does not say, “Allah knows whether the fetus in the womb is male or female.” However, some tafsir scholar wrote this in the explanation. Therefore, the verse is understood as follows among people: “Only Allah knows whether the fetus in the womb is male or female.”

6. The interpretation made by tafsir scholars is not only about gender; they say Allah knows “whether he/she will be a good or bad person, one baby or twins, ill or healthy, etc.” As it is seen, these issues include a comprehensive explanation about the qadar of the child. For, being male or female is only one of the characteristics of the fetus in the womb. However, its qadar program includes billions of possibilities. Even the features of the face of the fetus cannot be known through x-ray and ultrasound; it is impossible to know its abilities that are different from other people.

Under the light of these views, we do not regard it wrong to include the issues “the falling of rain” and “the characteristics of the fetus” in the issue of ghayb. Instead of rejecting the hadith that include these two issues in ghayb by saying “it is not sahih (sound)”, we accept it as the translator of a sound meaning.

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