There are some people who claim that belief in qadar does not exist in the Quran and that it was added to hadiths afterwards. What is the source of belief in qadar?

The Details of the Question

- Does qadar eliminate our will and preference?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The existence of qadar (destiny/predestination) is definite based on the Quran, the Sunnah and the consensus (ijma) of the ummah.

The issue of qadar is indicated in the verses below:

“There can be no difficulty to the Prophet in what Allah has indicated to him as a duty. It was the practice (approved) of Allah amongst those of old that have passed away. And the command of Allah is a decree determined.” (al-Ahzab, 33/38; see Tabari, Mawardi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Ashur, the interpretation of the verse in question)

“Remember ye were on the hither side of the valley, and they on the farther side, and the caravan on lower ground than ye. Even if ye had made a mutual appointment to meet, ye would certainly have failed in the appointment: But (thus ye met), that Allah might accomplish a matter already enacted; that those who died might die after a clear Sign (had been given), and those who lived might live after a Clear Sign (had been given). And verily Allah is He Who heareth and knoweth (all things).” (al-Anfal, 8/42; see Abus-Suud, Alusi, Ibn Ashur, the interpretation of the verse in question)

“Verily, all things have We created in proportion and measure.” (al-Qamar, 54/49)

The word qadar (proportion and measure) mentioned in the verse above is interpreted as “qadar/predestination” by scholars. It is emphasized in verses 52 and 53 of the same chapters that this qadar is written as follows: “All that they do is noted in (their) Books (of Deeds): Every matter, small and great, is on record.” (see Shawkani, the interpretation of the verse in question)

According to what Ibn Kathir states, Ahl as-Sunnah scholars show the verses “al-Furqan, 25/2; al-Qamar, 54/49; al-A’la, 87/1-3” and similar ones as evidence that everything existed in the knowledge of Allah before they were created and as evidence for the existence of “qadar”, which means everything is recorded in Lawh al-Mahfuz (The Preserved Tablet). (Ibn Kathir, the interpretation of verse 49 of the chapter of al-Qamar)

The word “ajal”, which determines the lifespan of both individuals and ummahs, indicates qadar clearly.  (see Aal-i Imran, 3/145; al-Araf, 7/34; Yunus, 10/49, al-Hijr, 15/5; al-Muminun, 23/43; ash-Shura, 42/14)

The claim that qadar included in Bukhari and Muslim hadiths was added later by Umayyads has no scientific basis.

That the same sources accept the narrations that do not include “qadar” and do not accept those that include “qadar” is a subjective and arbitrary act of the soul.

For, as it is known by those who know hadith methodology, it is acceptable for reliable narrators to include something extra – different from other narrations. For instance, according to Imam Nawawi, the hadith narration reported by Ibn Masud accepted by Hanafi scholars related to the issue of tashahhud in prayer is the soundest one. However, that the word “al-Mubarakat” is mentioned as extra in the hadith narration accepted by Shafiis caused this narration to be accepted because this narration is also sound and “the addition by a reliable person” is acceptable. (see Nawawi, al-Majmu’, 3/457)

“QADAR” is mentioned in the Jibril hadith too:

Yahya Ibn Ya'mar narrates:

"The first person to speak about qadar (to say that qadar does not exist) (Khattabi, the explanation of the hadith) in Basra was Ma'bad al-Juhani. I set off with Humayd Ibn Abdirrahman al-Himyari for umrah or hajj. We wished to meet someone from the Companions and to ask him about the statements uttered by that person about qadar. God Almighty enabled us to meet Abdullah Ibn Umar in Masjid an-Nabawi. We approached Umar, one of us from the left and the other from the right. I guessed that my friend wanted me to speak and I started to talk:

"O Abu Abdirrahman! Some people emerged in our hometown. They read the Quran and try to deduce some very subtle issues." I added the following to describe their thought: "They claim that there is no qadar and everything happens on its own and that Allah does not know them beforehand." Abdullah said:

When you happen to meet them again, say to them that I have nothing to do with you and they have nothing to do with me. Abdullah Ibn Umar completed his statement by strengthening it with a vow: ”I swear by Allah that if any one of them had with him gold equal to the bulk of the mountain Uhud and spent it in the way of Allah, Allah would not accept it unless he affirmed his faith in qadar.

Then, Abdullah said, “My father Umar Ibnul-Khattab told me this. And he narrated the hadith known as the Jibril hadith. According to what is mentioned in that hadith, Jibril asked the Prophet (pbuh),

- "What is belief?" he answered as follows:

- "To believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His prophets, the Day of Judgment and in qadar with the good and evil." (see Muslim, "Iman", 1; Abu Dawud, "Sunnah", 15; Ibn Majah, "Muqaddima", 9).

Bukhari himself had a chapter called “Qadar” in his book. He proved the existence of qadar in that chapter through various narrations. We can give the following hadith as an example:

Abdullah ibn Umar narrates: “The Prophet forbade vowing and said, ‘In fact, vowing does not prevent anything (from qadar), but it makes a miser to spend his property.’“ (Bukhari, Qadar, 6)

A mind that has the consciousness of belief also witnesses the existence of qadar. For, belief in Allah includes believing in His names and attributes. One of Allah’s attributes is His infinite, pre-eternal knowledge. The existence of this attribute makes it necessary to encompass everything that happened in the past, is happening now and will happen in the future.  Qadar is a type of knowledge. In that case, to believe in Allah’s pre-eternal and infinite knowledge also means belief in qadar. Muslims believe that Allah knows everything that is in the past according to us, at present and in the future.

The meaning of Qada and Qadar

Qadar lexically means “amount, quantity and to do something based on a certain measure and to determine it”. As a term, it means “Allah’s, knowing, limiting and predestinating with His pre-eternal knowledge what will happen and when, where and how they will happen from pre-eternity to post-eternity”. Qadar, which is a concept related to Allah’s attribute of knowledge and will, expresses the divine law that arranges all beings and incidents in the universe based on a certain system and measure.

Qada, which lexically means “command, decree, ending and creating”, is God Almighty’s creating the things that He had willed and predestinated in pre-eternity when their times are due in accordance with His pre-eternal knowledge, will and predestination. Qada is a concept related to Allah's attribute takwin (creating).

Belief in Qada and Qadar

Belief in qadar and qada means belief in Allah's attributes of knowledge, will, power and creation. In other words, a person who believes in those attributes believes in qadar and qada too. In that case, to believe in qada and qadar means to believe that everything, goodness and evil, good and bad, hard and sweet, living and non-living, useful and harmful, occurs based on Allah's knowing, willing, power, predestination and creation, and that there is no creator other than Allah.

Everything that happened and that will happen in the world occur based on Allah's knowledge, will, predestination and creation. Everything has a qadar. Its meaning is as follows: Allah Almighty knows what humans will choose with their freewill where and how with His pre-eternal knowledge, that is, His absolute knowledge that is not limited with time and He wishes based on this knowledge; Allah determines based on this will and creates things in accordance with the choice of the slave when its time is due. In that case, Allah's knowledge is based on the preference of the slave; Allah's knowing something pre-eternally has no compelling effect on the will and choice of the slave.

In fact, people are unaware of the knowledge that Allah has about them and they act with their will without being under the effect of that knowledge in daily life. In other words, we do things not because Allah knows. He knows pre-eternally and absolutely that we will do those things. Allah created the slave as a being who chooses and is held responsible for what he chooses; He made the slave responsible for the commands and prohibitions. In addition, Allah Almighty determined a divine law that the deed would be created based on the choice of the slave.

Another point to be known about the issue of qadar is as follows: Qadar is a divine secret whose inside can be known only by Allah and that is not possible to solve absolutely and exactly. Human mind, which is subject to the concepts of time and space, does not have the power and talent to understand the divine knowledge, will and power, about which the dimensions of time and space are not in question. To try to solve the issue of qadar definitely for a person means to force his capacity and to demand what is impossible.   

To believe in qadar and qada are among the principles of belief. However, people cannot get rid of the responsibility by using qadar as an excuse. A person cannot commit a sin by saying, "Allah wrote it like that. That is my fate. Allah predestinated it like that. What can I do?" He cannot declare himself innocent after committing a crime and cannot present qadar as an excuse. For, such deeds were created by Allah because people preferred them. In addition, the inside of qadar, which is a secret, can be known by nobody but Allah.

Thus, it does not comply with Islam’s understanding of qadar to give up working by relying on qada and qadar, not to act in accordance with causes and not to take measures in order to attain a positive result or to prevent negative results. Allah attributes everything to some causes. If man acts in accordance with those causes, Allah will create the results (effects) of those causes. That is a divine law and qadar.   

Man’s deeds based on his will and their creation

a) Allah's will and man’s will

Will (iradah), which lexically means "to choose, to want, to turn toward, to prefer and to decide" is terminologically defined as "Allah's or man’s choosing one of the alternatives and determining it".

Allah's will is pre-eternal, infinite and boundless; it is not related to anything and it is absolute. Man’s will is finite, limited and related to things like time and space. Every incident and being that occur in the universe occur based on Allah’s will of creation. The slave chooses his deed within the boundaries determined for him by Allah. The slave’s being free means believing in his freedom and accepting that he is not under any pressure when he does a deed.  

Ash’aris and Maturidis, which are two important branches of Ahl as-Sunnah, basically hold the same view related to man’s will and the role of this will in deeds. However, Ash’aris calls Allah's will universal (general) considering that it encompasses everything; they wanted to distinguish it from man’s will by describing it like that. Maturidis call Allah's will divine and pre-eternal will and they use the terms universal will and partial will in order to describe the two aspects of man’s will. Universal will is the ability to choose to do or not to do something, given to the slave by Allah. Partial free will is the universal will’s turning toward one side actively. Therefore, Maturidis also name partial free will as final decision, choosing and turning toward.

b) Man’s will and its role in deeds

Man has a real freedom of will because he feels this reality inside him all the time and feels that he is free in what he does.

Allah Almighty determined and predestinated that man would be a being with a will and could do whatever he wished; He created man with the power to do so. Therefore, man has the power to do or not to do something based on his own request and will; he can choose one of them. Man deserves reward and penalty and is held responsible for certain deeds due to his free will.  

The free will of man has a role in the occurrence of a deed but the creator of deeds is Allah Almighty. Allah creates the deeds of the slaves related to will based on their will. Allah is not obliged to do so but He arranged the divine law called adatullah or sunnatullah, that is, qadar in this way. In that case, man chooses the deed and Allah creates it. Allah creates whatever the slave chooses and wills, whether good or bad. The slave has the responsibility since he has freedom to choose. If he does a good deed, he will be rewarded and if he does a bad deed, he will be punished.

There are verses indicating that man has a free will and that he will be held responsible due to that will:

"By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right." (ash-Shams, 91/7-8)

"We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will)." (al-Insan, 76/3)

"Whoever works righteousness benefits his own soul; whoever works evil, it is against his own soul: nor is thy Lord ever unjust (in the least) to His Servants." (Fussilat, 41/46).

In that case, people should know their responsibilities as slaves of Allah, do good and righteous deeds and avoid wrong, bad, ugly and evil deeds; thus, they should try to attain nice rewards in the hereafter.  

c) The creation of man’s deeds

Man’s deeds are divided into two as obligatory deeds and voluntary deeds. Compulsory and reflex deeds like breathing, beating of the heart and digestion in the stomach are called obligatory deeds. Man’s will has no role in the formation of them. Therefore, man is not held responsible for those deeds.

The deeds that man makes based on free will like writing, sitting, standing, performing prayers or not performing prayers and doing good or bad deeds are voluntary deeds. Man is not under any pressure or compulsion in the formation of voluntary deeds. No matter what kind of deeds we do, it is Allah who creates both kinds of deeds since He creates us and what we do.  

According to Ahl as-Sunnah, since it is Allah who creates the deeds of the slaves based on their will, the attribute of creation cannot be ascribed to any being other than Allah. Therefore, it cannot be claimed that a slave creates his own deed. For the following is stated in a verse: "Allah is the Creator of all things..." (az-Zumar, 39/62). Man’s deed is also included in "thing". "Thing" means the concrete being. Then, the creator of man’s deed is Allah Almighty.

Accordingly, man chooses a deed with his free will and makes an effort; Allah knows with His pre-eternal knowledge what he will choose. He wills and determines based on that knowledge and creates it based on that will.  

d) Tawakkul (Reliance on Allah)

Tawakkul, which lexically means "to rely on; to depend on, to refer a task to someone else, etc., terminologically means "to depend and rely on Allah after taking all material and spiritual measures and leave the rest to Allah when there is nothing else to do."

For instance, a farmer first should plow the field on time and prepare it for sowing; then, he should spread seeds, remove the weeds and use pesticides; after that he should sprinkle fertilizer if necessary and then rely on Allah for good crops; he should expect the result from Allah. If a person does not do any of them and say, "Whatever is written in qadar will take place" is nothing but laziness; it does not comply with Islam’s understanding of tawakkul.

Tawakkul is a natural result of the Muslims’ belief in qadar. A person who practices tawakkul is a person who surrenders to Allah unconditionally. However, to believe in qadar and to rely on Allah do not mean laziness and sluggishness and they do not prevent working and development. For, every Muslim is aware of the fact that incidents take place within the framework of the divine system and laws and in accordance with cause-effect relationship. That is, crops are not harvested without sowing seeds. Treatment without medication is not in question. Allah’s consent and hence Paradise is not attained without righteous deeds. In that case, tawakkul means to work hard, not to forget that Allah is with us while working hard and to leave the result to Allah.

Allah Almighty states the following in a verse:  

 "... Then, when thou hast Taken a decision put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him)." (Aal-i Imran, 3/159)

Thus, He orders believers to rely only on Him, not any other beings, and states that Allah is enough for a person who relies on Him. (see Aal-i Imran, 3/122, 160; al-Maida, 5/11; at-Tawba, 9/51; Ibrahim, 14/11; at-Taghabun, 64/13; at-Talaq, 65/3). When a Bedouin said, he relied on Allah by releasing his camel, the Prophet (pbuh) said to him,

 "First tie you camel, then rely on Allah." (Tirmidhi, "Qiyamah", 60)

Thus, he warned the Bedouin to take measures before tawakkul.

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