To what extent do we have power/will on our lives?

Details of the Question
To what extent do we have power/will on our lives?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It will be useful to summarize the issue in a few items:

a. Allah has a universal will that is valid everywhere. It is the indispensable condition of being the Creator, Lord and divinity.

He is Allah who creates both good and evil in terms of fate. However, those who are tested are not puppets. They also play a role in the bad events that they experience. What one should be careful about is this: there are two aspects in every event which interest people:

First: Points related to Allah’s creation. That is to say; both good and evil are the creations of Allah. That is what Allah’s Oneness requires.

Second: Points related to occurrences and inclinations which are related to people’s earning and in which there is no act of creating and things which are reasons for Allah’s creation. That partial free will must be given to human beings so that they can be tried with their free will and they can be held responsible of the consequences. Therefore, it has been given to human beings so that justice can be practiced.

When we evaluate the issue from that perspective, we will realize that it is not as it is seen. For instance, if there is an illness, its creator is Allah. However, its aspects which do not indicate creation belong to human beings. For example, drinking cold water while one is in sweat is a fault of the person and he is responsible for being ill as a result. He is responsible for having sore throat and catching cold. Nevertheless, He is Allah who creates the illness. A virtuous person, like Prophet Abraham, thinks that badness belongs to him in terms of being a reason and goodness belongs to Allah in terms of being a creation; and says: “And when I am ill, it is He Who cures me.” (ash-Shu’ara, 26:80).

We can divide the fate into two: forced fate and voluntary fate.

“We cannot have any effect 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.

The true meaning of fate is the fact that Allah knows what happened and what will happen. We should pay attention that 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 servant. Let us give an example regarding the issue:

Our Prophet informed us and gave the good news about the conquest and the conqueror of Istanbul hundreds of years ago. When the time came for it, it happened as he had told us. Now, was Istanbul conquered because the Prophet said it would be or did the Prophet said it would be conquered because he knew it would? Then, would it still have happened if Mehmet the Conqueror had not worked and had not prepared the army for it? So, it can be said that Allah knew that Mehmet the Conqueror would work and conquer Istanbul and informed His Messenger about it.

Human beings’ free-will which is called partial control causes many significant things benefiting from the laws ruling in 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. This person was informed about the state of this 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 according to certain physic and mechanic laws. So, the person goes 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 this 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 whichever one we want, just like the lift in the example given above.

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.

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