If what we are going to do is determined in our fate, what is our fault? If Allah knows whether we are going to enter Heaven or Hell, why did He send us down to Earth?
Submitted by on Mon, 22/03/2010 - 18:01
Dear Brother / Sister,
We will try to answer your question via some questions and answers.
Fate is a part of faith and it is described as follows: “Fate means that Allah knows every feature, situation, place, time, attributions and characteristics of everything that happened and that is going to happen from the pre-eternity to the post-eternity, with His infinite knowledge and He ordains them.”
And qada (decree) means the creation, manifestation and practice of what one’s fate includes.
Every event from the creation of universe in six stages to the formation of humans in wombs in nine months points out to fate!..
Each wise system from the Solar System to atom systems declares the existence of fate. Numbers and characteristics of elements hint fate. Categorization of plants and animals according to species and families and different skills of each species have been possible due to fate…
The fact that positions of angels, animals and lifeless beings are stable and that human beings and the jinn are put through testing is planned in fate…
Creation of Heaven and Hell were determined by Divine wisdom and decision. The ways leading to them were also determined due to fate…
How much reward will be given for which good deed and how much punishment will be given for which evil deed is also determined by fate…
In a science magazine, the wonderful system of human body was described and many nice examples about Divine decision were listed. And the article was concluded as follows:
“Let alone our whole body, if we did not have our thumbs, technique and civilization would not have emerged.”
Frankly, all inventions, discoveries and arts are somewhat bounded to the thumb. And if it was not supported by other fingers, we would neither be able to hold a spoon, nor a pen and nor a hammer. Let alone the whole world of beings, if humankind could look at the thumb carefully, they could see the Divine decision most clearly.
People who keep asking the same memorized questions about fate again and again do not ever think of this essential meaning of fate. They never ponder about how this gorgeous universe was created by stages with an infinite knowledge and decision. They cannot observe these magnificent manifestations of fate; similarly, they cannot evaluate seeds, zygotes, sperms and genes from this point of view. However, those small creatures are like embodied plans and programs… They display Allah’s wonderful decision and fine wisdom to those who use their brains.
And humankind is supposed to believe in fate by disposition!.. Human beings are capable of understanding measures and numbers. They decide on the number of the rooms of the house they decide to build consciously. They build the kitchen, the bathroom and others all in the most appropriate places of the house. They make plans about their future, set goals for themselves and make decisions. And this disposition of theirs makes them responsible for believing in fate.
Let us ponder: What other being amongst all these creatures we see is aware of their own existence and stages of creation? Which one knows what it is, why it is created and where it is going to?.. Birds? Trees? The Sun? The Moon?...
Animals are unaware of the essences of their organs. Plants do not know about their leaves. Seas are unaware of the fishes swimming in them. The Moon does not know what it is rotating around.
Yet is it the same with human beings? They know both the system of their body and the system in their souls. They know the duties of elements, species of animals and heavenly systems. They can understand why every person, every species and every system was created and what kind of wisdom there is in them, at least to some extent. Due to this natural disposition, they can realize the innumerable manifestations of fate in everything to some extent.
Belief in fate is a source of peace
Belief in fate is the greatest source of peace for human beings. A true believer thinks that systems and rules which he sees both in his own body and in universe are full of much wisdom and that all of them result in mercy. He says “Everything is nice about fate” and seeks for mercy and wisdom in everything that happens to him.
He does anything that is necessary both for his life and afterlife happiness and eventually, trusts in Allah’s mercy and kindness, and finds peace. He does not feel sorry when he loses. He does not regret for the opportunities he missed in the past. He knows that saying “If it had been like that, it would not have been so” or “If it had not been like that, it would have been better” does not provide him with any benefits but just causes sorrow to his soul. He gets rid of the burden of the past off his back. He sets out to the future, having trust in Allah, and finds peace…
He does not boast about boons, wealth and skills Allah has endowed upon him and does not behave arrogantly. He knows that everything that is good is a blessing from Allah, and finds peace…
What do those who do not believe in fate suggest to humankind?
Do they suggest not to work and spend days lazily? Or do they suggest depending on causes and then not consenting to outcomes and grieving? What do they expect from it apart from giving people sorrow? What a heavy burden they place on the back of poor people with a sensitive soul and impatient body! Or is there something that they benefit from in restless, aggressive and rebellious souls in order to realize their devastating goals?
Can we blame our faults on fate?
We can divide the fate into two: forced fate and voluntary fate.
“We cannot have any affect on forced fate. It is totally out of our free-will. Our forced fate includes our place of birth, our parents, our shape, and our inborn skills. We cannot determine them. And we are not responsible for that kind of fate.
The second kind of fate is voluntary fate. Allah knows with His infinite knowledge and ordains whatever we will decide and whatever we will do. Your question must be discussed in this category. That is to say, you are deciding on a type of person to marry and look for him/her. And Allah introduces some people who have got the characteristics which you desire to you. You like one of them and accept him/her with your own free-will. The fact that Allah knows whom you will marry is fate and the fact that you choose your spouse with your free-will is a responsibility of human beings, which is called partial freewill.
Our hearts beat, our blood is refreshed, and our cells grow, reproduce and die. Many things which we do not know happen in our bodies. We are not the doers of any of them. Those things continue to happen even when we are asleep.
However, we know very well that there are things which we do of our own accord. It is us to decide to eat, drink, speak, and walk and so on. We have got a free-will though weak, knowledge though little and power though slight.
It is us to decide which way to go at the crossroads. And life is full of crossroads.
In this sense, on whom else but ourselves can we put the blame of the things we choose consciously and decide to do without any enforcement?
As Allah created the things we do, what is our fault?
Human beings’ free-will which is called partial freewill causes many significant things benefiting from the laws ruling in the universe although it seems insignificant.
Imagine that the top floor of an apartment building is full of boons and the bottom floor is full of tormentors; and a person is in the lift of this building. That person was informed about the state of that building before. He will reach the boons if he pushes the up button and he will be tormented if he pushes the down button.
In this case, what the free-will of the person does is only to decide which button to push and then push it. And the lift does not work with that person’s free-will and power, but it works based on certain physic and mechanic laws. So, the person does not go to the top floor or to the bottom floor not with his own power. Nevertheless, he is the one to decide where the lift will go, with his own free-will.
Everything one does with his own free-will can be evaluated according to that criterion. For instance, Allah the Glorious stated that it is sinful to go to a pub and virtuous to go to a mosque. And we are free to go to whichever one we want, just like the lift in the example given above.
Man’s will does not have any role in the occurrences in the universe; similarly, he does not have any role in the activities occurring inside his body. Human body works in accordance with divine rules which are called the universal law. However, wherever he will go is up to his decision. Whichever button he pushes, that is, wherever he wants to go, his body will move towards there and thus, the reward or the punishment of the place where he will go belongs to him.
Does fate treat people cruelly?
Some people are born rich, handsome and healthy; and some are born poor, ugly and handicapped. They are matters of “forced fate” which human beings cannot change with their will.
We hear people complaining about the cruelty of fate putting forward those differences. However, cruelty means depriving one of their personal rights. And servants (human beings) do not have any rights to expect from Allah. Whatever Allah has given to them, He has given them as a kind offer, not as a right.
What we should do is not to think of the boons which are not given to us, but to remember what we are given and be thankful for them. Lacks are for testing servants. The world is a hall of testing and all disfavored situations are questions in the test. Will testees rebel or will they be thankful for what is given and react to what is not given patiently?
Let us imagine a reach tradesman. He wants to do two poor people who enter his shop a favor only because he is merciful. He gives a shirt to one of them and trousers to the other. In addition to them, he gives a jacket and trousers to one of them. Can the man who takes only a shirt and trousers say “Tradesman has been cruel to me; he has given the other man more”? If he says, will it not be rudeness?
And we resemble those poor people. Allah gives us many boons and blessings from His treasury because of His infinite mercy. He is Allah who has created our bodies, minds, dreams, the air that we breathe in, the water that we drink and food that we eat. We did not work to deserve them. He gives them to us only because He is merciful. If the one who is given less waits patiently, he will gain eternal boons.
Worldly life is nothing but a short test… If one who is given less becomes aggressive like the first man in the story and calls it cruelty, it is rudeness. His duty is to be thankful for what he is given. Otherwise, he invites punishment to himself.
Allah is just in all of His works; He is never unjust or cruel. We should evaluate troubles from this point of view too. Troubles are either the results of our faults or means of testing.
A person whose house has been burnt down must look for a fault in himself even though he does not know a certain reason, before complaining about fate. Maybe, he broke someone’s heart! The one who has put the house on fire has committed a crime, but fate treats justly.
Are we leaves drifting with wind?
It can be said that a person who complains saying “what is my fault here?” making the fate his excuse, is indeed ignoring his free will.
If human beings are “leaves blown by the wind”, if they do not have the ability to choose, if they are not responsible for what they do, then what is the significance of crime? Does a person who says “what is my fault” not resort to court when he is wronged?
However, in this sense, that person should have thought like this: “that man put my house on fire. He defamed my honor, killed my child but he has got excuses. It was his fate to do those things, what could he do, he could not have acted otherwise.”
Do people who are wronged really think so?
If man were not responsible for what he did, words like “good” and “bad” would be meaningless. There would be no need to appreciate heroes and to despise traitors. Both of them would have done the things unwillingly. However, nobody can claim like that. Everyone admits in their hearts that they are responsible for what they do and they are not leaves blown by the wind.
Does the fact that Allah knows what we are going to do abolish our responsibility?
Let us imagine a screenplay: a detective is listening secretly to three men planning a robbery. When it is the time, he goes to the place where the robbery will take place. His aim is to arrest them red-handed. However, when starting the robbery, the men change their plan. One of them gives up and the other two act with a different plan. If another person’s knowing the robbery could affect the robbery, the plan would not be changed. The fact that the police knew about it did not affect the robbery at all.
If the plan had not changed, it would not have affected it anyway; they would do so because the police knew they would do so. And, they already did know what the police knew.
If they could put their plan into practice and got arrested; and if the police said that they had known their plan before; would they say “We committed this crime because you knew we would do. The real criminal is you. We are innocent.”? Is committing a sin and then blaming fate for it any different from those robbers?
The number of people, who think “I cannot escape my fate; what is written in your fate will find you one day. So why am I considered faulty because of my sins?” is not very few at all.
It is clear that this mentality belongs to a criminal who wants to get rid of the responsibility of his crime. Here is the formula: put the blame on fate and be relieved! I do not think that conscience which is a just moderator will find peace with this mentality because it is a careful witness of what we do. Doubtlessly, there is a “law of fate” and it puts its rules into practice, nevertheless, “free-will” is also a law. How can we forget that we commit every sin voluntarily? We cannot read what is written in our fate; we do not know our future. What we know is that there are two ways before us, one is good and the other is evil. We choose one of them to follow with our free-will, which we can never deny. We feel it very well that there is not anything else than our lower-self which forces us through that way. We learn our fate not before, but after it all happens.
I think the following example will set light on our way. Let us imagine a perfect cameraman. This man has filmed secretly ten days of our life in the future. That is to say, he knew our ten days’ life before. And we have learnt that there is a film about our life; yet we do not know what is in it. He let us watch the film on the eleventh day. We watched the mistakes we did, sins and crimes we committed. Can we say to the cameraman, “We would not have done all of those if you had not known our ten days’ life and filmed it”?
It is necessary to emphasize that knowing and doing are very different things. We gave an example before. The fact that we know a seed will grow into a tree does not mean that it does not need to grow into a tree.
Moreover, if there is a plan for the construction of a machine or a building, could we say, “there is no need for the building or the machine as there is the plan”?
Let us plan to go somewhere and eat these or those foods tomorrow. In this sense, do we say, “as what we will do is already planned now, we do not need to go and eat those foods”?
We cannot say so for simple daily things; similarly, one cannot say “why did Allah create human beings and why does He try them as He already knows what they will do.”
The true meaning of fate is that Allah knows what happened and what will happen. It does not ignore free-will. To know and to do are different. The one who knows is Allah and the one who does is His servants.
The fine detail here is that we do things not because Allah knows, but Allah knows because we will do them. As a matter of fact, it is impossible that Allah not know the future. If He did not or could not know, He would not be the creator.
Let us give an example for it: think of a teacher from saintly slaves of Allah. He says to one of his students “I will test you tomorrow from this book”. However, as the teacher knows that the student will not study because of playing football, having fun with friends or watching movies; so, he writes “0” point in his report beforehand. The following day, the student comes and he cannot answer the questions and when he realizes that he deserves “0” point, the teacher takes out his notebook from his pocket and says “as I knew you would not study and deserve 0 point from this test, I wrote 0 in my notebook beforehand”. In this case, can the student say “I got 0 from the test because you gave me 0. Otherwise, if you had written a higher point in your notebook, I would get a higher point now.”?
So we can say that we do not do so because Allah wrote it so, but Allah wrote them so because He knows we will do so. That is what we call “fate”.
We can say that Allah records what we do throughout our life with His pre-eternal camera on a tape called “Lawh Mahfuz”. However, we do not know what is recorded on that tape at all. Why should that recording affect out acts? As a matter of fact, we are responsible, of course. We are blamed for nothing else but because we choose bad/evil with out own free-will and commit sins. We do not have the right to say, “What is my fault if it is written in my fate?” If making a fault deliberately is not a fault, what is fault then?
What we should do is to repent for our sins, beg for His forgiveness and try to get rid of punishment by performing good deeds. We can deceive only ourselves, not Allah, by putting the blame on fate.
Questions on Islam
- To what extent do we have power/will on our lives?
- Could you give detailed information about fate?
- Question: How are we supposed to answer the question; Now that Allah Almighty, with His eternal knowledge, knows what I shall do, so what is my fault?
- Are disasters such as earthquakes coincidental? Or are they our fate?
- Can I have a chance to select or change the person whom I am going to marry by praying?
- What does Islam say about Horoscopes? Is it true to believe in their effects? Why were they prohibited?
- Is man doomed to his destiny?
- Is man doomed to his destiny?
- Is one asked if he wanted to be created and tested?
- Are disasters such as earthquakes coincidental, or are they our fate?