Is guidance a matter of destiny? Is it in man’s power to believe?

The Details of the Question

- What does guidance being from Allah only mean?
- What does the servant have to do so that Allah will guide the servant?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Hidayah (guidance/belief) is a light that Allah puts in the heart of that servant after the servant uses his will.

Since good and evil are from Allah, He is the only One who guides and misleads people. People only cause each other’s guidance and aberration. Some people who misunderstand God Almighty’s creation of guidance and aberration say, “Guidance is from Allah; a person cannot enter the right path unless He grants it.” By saying so, they both block the way of warning and guiding others, and they want to excuse themselves for their faults.

We should state the following first: It is permissible for God Almighty to guide whomever He wills. He is the only one who makes people attain happiness and who leads them to aberration. However, the fact that Almighty Lord creates aberration in a servant is due to that servant’s misuse of his own partial free will. Otherwise, God Almighty will not lead His servant to that path unless he directs his abilities to the path of aberration. The same holds true for guidance. A person expects the result from Allah after making all the necessary attempts for sustenance because only Allah is ar-Razzaq (the Sustainer).

We cannot guarantee obtaining sustenance by acting in accordance with causes perfectly. Similarly, a person who conveys the commandments and prohibitions of Allah to some people in the best way cannot be sure that those people will be guided to the true path because only Allah is Hadi (the Guide).

Allah’s granting guidance to whomever He wishes means that He grants guidance to a person who abides by the conditions of guidance. Otherwise, it does not mean that “observance of any reason necessary for guidance is not required”. This way of thinking is like expecting crops without sowing seeds in the field.

At this point, an issue needs to be explained. It is certain that he who does not sow seeds in his field will not get crops. However, a person who does everything properly to get crops will have a ninety-nine percent chance of getting the crops. There might be a disaster such as flood and drought with a chance of one percent. The reason for the possibility of not getting results, even if it is a small percentage, is based on the wisdom of a person’s need to take refuge in Almighty Allah and to beg Him. This fact, which we have explained with an example, is also valid for the issue of guidance.

- If guidance is in Allah’s power, what is the fault of those who go astray?

Guidance: “To show the true path. To teach. To guide, to follow the right path by seeing the truth as the truth and the wrong as the wrong, to stay away from the wrong and aberration.”

Two young people came to me the other day. Mentioning a discussion they had with their friends, they asked me a question. The question was about qadar (predestination). The same narrow thinking and the same vicious quarrel again... Those who confuse people deliberately and want to fish in troubled waters were disguised as ignorant people again managed to hide their intentions masterfully; and they thoroughly confused those two young people. They mentioned that there were verses in the Quran stating that Allah guided whomever He wished to the right path and misled whomever He wished, and dared to deny the will of man.

I was faced with a strange situation:

Those men sought a suitable ground to confuse the minds of those young people and led the conversation up to predestination; they did all this insidiously and deliberately based on a plan; finally, they dared to deny the will of man and dared to claim that man was not guilty of sins and disobedience.

I want to leave aside those people, who do not even believe what they themselves say, and examine the issue in a scientific way. I will delay the analysis of the problem a bit and briefly touch upon the duty of the believer in the face of such questions and similar ones.

Take the Quran in your hand. Find all the verses about “Allah’s giving guidance and aberration to whomever He wills” one by one. Turn the leaves toward the beginning of the chapter in which each verse occurs. When you reach the beginning of the chapter, you will see that “bismillah” appears all the time. As you know, three divine names are mentioned in the phrase “bismillahirrahmanirrahim”: Allah, Rahman (the Compassionate) and Rahim (the Merciful). Many of our scholars stated that the name Allah is the greatest name (ism al-azam)... That is, all names are included in this name... That is, Allah is compassionate, merciful, omnipotent, subduer, sustainer, etc... I want to attract your attention to this point: Why are the names Rahman and Rahim mentioned instead of the names expressing majesty and glory such as the Subduer, the Compelling and the Mighty? With this question, a holy hadith flashes in your mind like lightning: “My mercy has surpassed My wrath.”

No matter what chapter of the Quran a Muslim reads, he should not forget that fact, and if divine favors are mentioned in a chapter, he should praise Allah, who is Rahman (the Compassionate) and Rahim (the Merciful). If the bitter end of the polytheists, unbelievers and hypocrites is narrated, he should not forget that they fall into that end with their own free will, and that Allah, who is Rahman and Rahim, is free from oppressing them.

Let us read together the following verse, which guides us regarding the issue:

“To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: He forgives whom He wills, and He punishes whom He wills: but Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (al-Fath, 48/14)

Allah is the sole creator, owner and possessor of the heavens and the earth... No one can punish those whom He forgives and no one can forgive those whom He punishes. The existence of another will to oppose His absolute will is impossible.

And by ending with the words “Allah is Ghafur and Rahim”, the verse gives the following message to the believer:

If Allah, who is Ghafur and Rahim, punishes a servant whom He has created by His grace and whom He has allowed to benefit from the heavens and the earth, that punishment is definitely due to that servant’s unbelief and disobedience.

After this short reminder, I would like to focus on the “tawhid (oneness)” aspect of the issue first. The greatest lesson that the Quran gives to people is tawhid. Tawhid, that is, the oneness of Allah... He has no partners in terms of His personality, attributes, property and actions. Those who listen to this lesson of the Quran abandon idols, turn to Allah, discard Trinity (the nonsense of three gods) and attain tawhid.

It is stated in the first verse of al-Fatiha that “Allah is the Lord of all the realms”. Just as the sky and the earth are realms, the world and the hereafter, night and day, living and non-living beings are also separate realms... Likewise, every human, every animal and every plant are small realms. It is Allah Who created the beginnings and the first seeds of all those realms and brought them to their final and perfect form by gradually developing them with His mercy and wisdom, will and power. All those realms are His property and He is the one who created all kinds of events that occur in them, whether good or bad.

Just as He created night and day on the earth, He also created sleep and wakefulness in the eyes, and aberration and guidance in the human heart because there is no creator other than Him.

Just like basar, that is, eyesight, basirah (foresight) is also a great gift from Allah. With the former, man’s material eye is opened, and man establishes a relationship with mountains, plains and stars. With the latter, man’s eye of the heart is opened. With that immaterial eye, the existence of Allah, who is free from matter, is seen and believed in. And the heart attains a size, a width that will leave the universe far behind. It is peculiar to Allah to create vision in the eye; similarly, it is peculiar to Him to create belief and guidance in the heart.

In that case, when we read the verses stating that Allah will guide whomever He wishes, we will first consider the tawhid aspect of the issue, and believe that guidance is in His hand like all good deeds.

“... All bounties are in the hand of Allah. He granteth them to whom He pleaseth: And Allah careth for all, and He knoweth all things.” (Aal-i Imran, 3/73)

It is significant that the names Wasi’ and Alim are mentioned at the end of the verse. Yes, Allah is Wasi’... That is, His mercy, knowledge, and grace are too wide for human comprehension to comprehend and cover everything... And He is the Knower of all things.  In that case, He knows to whom to give grace, grant, generosity and guidance. This giving is not by chance, but by knowledge and wisdom.

Another verse that teaches that fact is as follows:

“It is true thou wilt not be able to guide every one, whom thou lovest; but Allah guides those whom He will and He knows best those who receive guidance.” (al-Qasas, 28/56)

Yes, our knowledge of other beings is very limited... Everything, living and nonliving, carries out all their activities under the knowledge and control of Allah.

Let us watch that flying bird. Who knows with what feeling it left its nest... What pleasure and peace does it feel now as it floats in the air? How does it watch other flying birds? How does it consider the buildings, people and cars on the ground? How full or hungry is its stomach?

As evening approaches, what feelings will it be filled with as it makes her way home? What will it feel when it sees the roof on which it has built a nest? How will its little and pure heart be filled with pleasure as it takes the last few laps in the air with the other birds who have finished their daily activities? They and many similar things have surrounded the soul of that bird. The bird, with all the subtleties of its inner world, can only be under the gaze, protection, mercy and supervision of its Lord...

Is a gazelle, a butterfly or an ant any different from this bird? Each of them leads a separate life in their own realm... While its body is in contact with the universe, its soul and feelings, in a way we cannot know, turn to Allah and rely on Allah...

Let us think about that taxi driver. Who knows where he is going?.. What problems does he have? What goal is he pursuing? What does he plan to buy in the future? Or is he suffering due the installments of the car he drives?..

How is body health? What is his peace of mind like? Is his heart hard or soft towards the poor? To what extent does he turn to his Lord? To what extent does he trust his soul? Since man constantly thinks, what did he think in the past and what is he thinking now?

Such innumerable issues, which are unknown to us, constitute his private world. We are ignorant of that world, and Allah is its owner and knower.

Allah, who knows His servants in all their aspects, informs His beloved Prophet (pbuh) in the above verse that He knows best who will be guided.

The verses related to guidance and aberration are about the spiritual training of the believer. As it is known, the spirit of the believer continues its progress within the borders of fear (khawf) and hope (raja). When he violates those borders, he will be harmed or destroyed. Khawf is the state of being afraid of Allah and not being sure of His punishment. Raja, on the other hand, is the state of hoping for the mercy of Allah all the time, not falling into despair by thinking that his sins will never exceed His forgiveness.

The Quran advises the believer not to boast of his good deeds and not to trust them, by stating that “Allah can mislead whomever He wishes”. On the other hand, He reminds the believer that he should not despair for his bad deeds and sins, and that “Allah can guide whomever He wishes to the right path”.

There is also the aspect of predestination. Let’s touch upon it briefly: A verse:

“The worshippers of false gods say: If Allah had so willed, we should not have worshipped aught but Him - neither we nor our fathers,- nor should we have prescribed prohibitions other than His. So did those who went before them. But what is the mission of apostles but to preach the Clear Message?” (an-Nahl, 16/35)

We understand from the verse above that the issue that is brought to us as a new question is actually a document of reactionism, and that this Satanic question was asked in the Age of Bliss and even before it. Those who ask this question show qadar in the sense of compulsion, ignore the partial will of man, and try to confuse their addressees related to divine justice. They mean this: “Since Allah wills who will be guided and misguided, what is the point of the will of the servant?”

It is a fact that “everything is predestined by qadar”. However, one of the things that is predestinated is that man is given a partial free will and he is free to carry out orders and prohibitions... It is also a predestination... Accordingly, whether a person worships or follows the path of disobedience, in both cases, he is in the scope of qadar. This subtlety is often overlooked or not sufficiently understood.

God Almighty wanted stones to be nonliving and plants to be half-living; He gave feeling to the animal kingdom. All of them are within the scope of qadar... As for man, He created man in the best way possible among His creatures... He gave man many gifts such as mind, heart and conscience, and put him to a test... He gave some orders to him and imposed some prohibitions. He made people free to obey or not to obey those orders and prohibitions. Within this freedom, He wants to give His servants who do not fall into heedlessness and do not forget their Lord degrees higher than the angels and give them eternal bliss, and to punish those who forget their Lord by following the soul and the devil. That is also predestination. It does not fit a servant to interfere with that predestination.

Other questions follow the question “If Allah had willed, He would have guided all people.” For example;

- If Allah had willed, He could have made all nonliving beings half-living.
- If Allah had willed, He could have given all trees sight and hearing.
- If Allah had willed, He could have created all animals as intelligent beings, etc...

Of course, Allah could have done all this if he had wished. However, He did not wish to... He wanted to create the human species in a different nature from the angels, all of whom were obedient, and created them that way.

The following verse is also included in the same chapter where the claims of the polytheists are mentioned:

“If Allah so willed, He could make you all one people: But He leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides whom He pleases: but ye shall certainly be called to account for all your actions.” (an-Nahl, 16/93)

Many lessons are given together in the verse above:

– Allah did not want to create humans as a single ummah like angels.
– Allah’s will is absolute...
– And man is responsible for all his actions...

Instead of trespassing his limits by complaining about and criticizing the predestination of Allah, man should try to do the things left to his will in the right direction because he will be held responsible only for them...

“… For Allah leaves to stray whom He wills, and guides whom He wills. So let not thy soul go out in (vainly) sighing after them: for Allah knows well all that they do!” (Fatir, 35/8)

Allah knows best who will attain guidance or deviate... “Hadi” is a name of God Almighty. It means “creator of guidance, the one showing the right path and making people successful on that path”. Like every name, the manifestation of this name is also through knowledge and wisdom.

Allah, who does not place eyes on stones, does not create guidance in hard hearts.

“...Woe to those whose hearts are hardened against celebrating the praises of Allah. They are manifestly wandering (in error)!” (az-Zumar, 39/22)

When the servant directs his own partial will to good or evil, guidance or aberration is created in his heart. A verse that teaches that fact so clearly that it does not allow any delusion:

“…Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls)...” (ar-Ra’d, 13/11)

Another verse:

“These are they who have bartered Guidance for error: But their traffic is profitless, and they have lost true direction.” (al-Baqara, 2/16)

We clearly understand from the verse above that the servant seeks misguidance by his own will. We can see this fact in each of the verses about guidance and aberration. Let me quote some of them:

“... Allah does not give guidance to unjust people.” (al-Baqara, 2/258)
“…Allah does not give guidance to unbelieving people.” (al-Baqara, 2/264)
“…Allah does not give guidance to wicked people.” (at-Tawba, 9/24)

We learn from those three verses about three reasons for the creation of aberration in the heart. They are all about one’s own will: cruelty, denial, and wickedness.

Another verse:

“...Those who believe know that it is truth from their Lord; but those who reject Faith say: ‘What means Allah by this similitude?’ By it He causes many to stray, and many He leads into the right path; but He causes not to stray, except those who forsake (the path). Those who break Allah’s Covenant after it is ratified, and who sunder what Allah Has ordered to be joined, and do mischief on earth...” (al-Baqara, 2/26-27)

We learn the three attributes of sinners who deviate from the verses above.

As for guidance, it is a great favor of Allah but attaining it depends on certain conditions.

“This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah.” (al-Baqara, 2/2)

The first one of those conditions is expressed “ittiqa”, that is, “being afraid of opposing Allah” in the verse above.

“Say, verily, Allah leads astray whom He wills, and guides those who love him.” (ar-Ra’d, 13/27)

It is laid as a condition in the verse above that the servant has to be loyal to Allah and use his partial free will for good deeds to attain guidance.

When all the verses about guidance and aberration are considered based on the fact that Allah is Rahman and Rahim, that the Quran was revealed to guide the pious people who fear Allah, and that our Prophet (pbuh) was sent as a mercy to the worlds, it will be clearly seen that the issue is in no way objectionable or suitable for abuse.

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