Is it predetermined what (how much) people will receive as sustenance?

The Details of the Question

Is it predetermined how much money people will obtain for their sustenance, can it change?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

No one knows what he will do tomorrow. Indeed, what a person will do in the future is regarded as ghayb (unknown). No one can say something definite about the future. One cannot say anything about what he will do tomorrow, whether something good or bad. This fact is pointed out in the Quran and the following is stated regarding a person’s decision to do something tomorrow depending on Allah’s will:

“Nor say of anything, ‘I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow’ without adding, ‘So please Allah (inshaallah)’” (al-Kahf, 18/24)

Man does things based on his own free will. However, if Allah Almighty does not bestow success and does not put causes under his command, he cannot do them. In other words, although man has a partial will, it cannot be certain that he will perform a task in the future. As a matter of fact, we decide to do something many times and we attempt it, but we cannot realize it. Therefore, man does not dominate the future. The time he has is the present time. It is also a very short ephemeral moment. The future is not in the hands of man. Therefore, he cannot know what good or bad things he will do in the future.

Yes, some of the work that a person will do depends on his own will. He can do the things that are based on his own free will. There are also many things that are not based on his will.

“It is not possible for man to know with certainty the things that he does not like; similarly, what he is determined to do often does not happen at unexpected times.” (Tecrid-i Sarih Tercemesi, 3/311)

There are many examples of the occurrence of an unexpected obstacle when we decide to do something and think we will certainly do it. It is stated with the tongue of the Messenger of Allah in the Quran that a person cannot know what he will face in the future:

“…Nor do I know what will be done with me or with you.” (al-Ahqaf, 46/9)

Elmalılı states that a person cannot have definite knowledge of what he will do in the future, whether good or bad things:

“Because the will of man is not a sufficient reason for the occurrence of something.” (Hak Dini Kur’an Dili, V / 3243)

Therefore, one cannot say with certainty what he will do tomorrow. The information, decisions and opinions he puts forward about what he will do tomorrow can be nothing but guesses; they cannot express certainty.

What a person will earn and how much property he will possess are certain in Allah’s knowledge. On the other hand, tawakkul (reliance on Allah) does not mean not to work. Tawakkul means to work in accordance with causes, take all necessary measures and then to consent to what Allah Almighty gives. Such a person lives in peace; he does not cause pain to his spirit by worrying about his livelihood. The following hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) becomes a hope of source for him:

“If you relied on Allah truly, He would give you sustenance as He gives sustenance to birds.”

Tawakkul never prevents one from working and acting in accordance with causes. Allah Almighty states the following in the Quran:

“That man can have nothing but what he strives for.” (an-Najm, 53/39)

Once, a man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said, “Should I tie my camel and rely on Allah, or should I leave it untied and rely on Allah?” The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Tie your camel and then rely on Allah.” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 60) Thus, he showed the criterion of tawakkul in the best way.

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