To determine as to what is by free will, and what is by Divine Decree, can be difficult to judge, but, only sometimes. Most of the times you are free to act one way or the other, and you are responsible for choosing this or that, writes SYED IQBAL ZAHEER.
Today’s Indian Muslim youth is much disturbed by the question of Qada’ and Qadr, in simpler words, predestination, and its role in their lives. Why does it set them thinking so hard about it and so often?
There can be several reasons. But it appears that to them the strongest is the consequence of sociology-political-economic situation in which they find themselves. They discover that jobs are denied to them. “We don’t take Muslims,” he is told point-blank when he meets with the employment manager of an industry or business house. His third attempt at getting into any governmental job does not even receive an acknowledgment. There is no making a breakthrough in business because the market is over-subscribed, and his file is the last when he applies for Startup scheme. The immigration officer makes faces when he is handed over the documents by a NiqabiMuslimah. His stamping is like the judge hammering for order in the court. He casts the document back at her and signals for the next, receiving the next with a chin-to-chin smile. His friend of yesterday – who passed with a mighty third class distinction, but now an officer–gives him a dead-cold hand at the handshake. All these things and the stories that are narrated and re-narrated, depress him. And, finding himself a victim, he looks for who he could blame.
Since the youth of today is cut off from his elders from the time he matured, who could as well be passing through the same trauma, he thinks that they cannot be blamed for his woes. After cursing his enemies, real or virtual, he is left with God alone who could take the blame. It is He, he thinks, the Glorious, who has brought him to this point, this position, this tragedy. He brought him to this situation through His weapon calledQada’ and Qadr. This is the conclusion of the youth’s mind. This, in part, explains why his notion of Qada’ and Qadr is disturbing him.
There is some injustice involved here, he ever fails to admit. Parents need to take the blame first. After all, they did not teach their children to climb mountains, cycle through fields and valleys, to map the slum streets, to jump into cold waters, to learn Karate at home, to do a hundred sit-ups every morning, to walk up to school five kilometers away, etc. They placed them on their laps until late hours of the night watching films. They made them misfits for a difficult life, getting more difficult by the day. They did not inform their children that their enemies – supposed and real –are gunning after them for the very characteristics that they refused to imbibe in them: Firm belief in God, step-to-step imitation of His Messenger’s manner of living and dying, and absolute abandonment of the Book he brought. They had their children’s destination in their hands but taught them inaction, yet blame pre-destination.
A healthy home economy is based on three principles: living within one’s means, desist from show-off, and self-reliance. Their parents taught by their personal example to disregard the three. And three qualities assure acceptance by those you deal with: knowledge, efficiency, and honesty. Their parents never ever said a word about them. In fact, they themselves never learned these rules of life.
As regards the concept of Qada’ and Qadr, the following might help to clear the minds a little.
Referring to the Qur’anic words: “Allah has set a seal on their hearing and on their hearts. And, on their eyes is a covering. For them is a mighty chastisement”(2: 7), common people assume that it is the ‘sealing’ and ‘covering’ which is the cause of disbelief. This is a reverse deduction. Rather, it is their refusal to believe that is the cause of the sealing and covering.
Abdul Majid Daryabadi wrote in his Tafseer:
“All this is the natural and inevitable sequel to the rejecters’ obstinate refusal to open their hearts to receive, their ears to hear, and their eyes to see the good and true, and is only ascribable to God, as all acts, as such, are ultimately bound to be ascribed to Him. It is those who will not believe that are condemned to judicial blindness which portends the more awful punishment of Hell.”
And, a hadith says:
“When a believer commits a sin, it leaves a black mark on his heart. If he repents, gives up the sin, and seeks forgiveness, his heart is cleansed. But if he adds (sins), then the black marks add up until they cover the entire heart. This is the raan that Allah, the Praiseworthy, spoke of in verse (14: 83): “No indeed; but that which they have been earning has rusted their hearts.”
Thus, what happens to a man of the spiritual blindness is brought on by himself, his own behavior and his own choices. It is not the other way around: first blindness, therefore, wrong choices. But rather, first, wrong choices, which results in blindness.
Every individual is free to make his choices and, therefore, earns the consequences: heaven or hell. At this instance, for example, you are free to browse through your mobile during the next hour, or spend the time reading say, Riyad al-Saleheen. The reward, or punishment, will follow your choice. In choosing to read Riyad al-Saleheen, you are as free as choosing to scratch your nose, or, having a glass of water, or, ringing up a friend for a chat. The force of predestination is not acting on your hand to scratch your nose, or, have a glass of water, etc. You can always decide not to.
This is at the individual level. It is freedom most of the time. However, you cannot browse the mobile continuously for seven days, 24 hours a day, no matter how much, and how strongly you wish to do so, because you must sleep, and attend to the affairs of life. You are bound to eat, and sleep, etc. This is predetermined. Thus, you dwell between free will and Divine Decree. In your sphere of choice, you are absolutely free, but in the sphere of Divine Decrees, you are bound. You can raise your arm and bring it down – if you so wish. But you cannot do that at the speed of 230 times a second, as the honeybee does. So, while you are bound by Qada’ and Qadr in this regard, the honeybee enjoys free will.
At the personal level then, you enjoy freedom of choice most of the times. To give an example, when Americans were slaughtering Iraqis by the millions with the help of their forces, it was by their choice. They had been preparing for that day for 20 years. They were not bombing, for instance, because they were predestined to do so. Their political leaders and field commanders were free not to bomb, and their pilots were free to refuse to fly and not to kill the innocents. For Iraqi civilians, on the other hand, being bombed was predestination, because they were not free to choose ‘not to be bombed.’ Yet, those who could move out of the range of bombers were free to move out. If they stayed back, despite the ability to get out, it was by choice, and not predestination.
Not to ignore other facts, it were their choices in life that had encouraged their coward enemies to choose to kill. Had the Iraqis built a strong nation, instead of aping the West, their weaponry would have discouraged the Americans from killings. For those of the Iraqis, who had been warning their people for decades that your imitation, bordering to love, and throwing to winds the demands of Islam, could bring upon you evil days; for such of the warners, the bombing and killing was Qada’ and Qadr.
To determine then, as to what is by free will, and what is by Divine Decree, can be difficult to judge, but, only sometimes. Most of the times you are free to act one way or the other, and you are responsible for choosing this or that: e.g., between getting up for Fajr, or sleeping out the time.
You are fully rewarded, or punished, for you choices. But for what befalls you by the Divine Decree, you are gracefully and magnanimously rewarded – if you are a believer – with martyrdom. Your sins are forgiven before the first drop of blood reaches the ground, and you enter Paradise, before your body is cold. To suffer a stroke, is not by your choice. It is by Divine Decree. Therefore, if you are a believer, a true one, your sins are forgiven and you are allowed entry into Paradise with death, provided you stayed patient through and through. Someone saw Abdul Majid Daryabadi, who died paralyzed (in 1977), in his dream the next day of his death, and he asked him, “Aren’t you dead?” He laughed and pointing to his grave said, “That’s my memorial? I am alive.”
“The pagans laid blame on Allah’s will for their idol-worship: a false argument. Had it been true, Allah would not have chastised them. Allah commanded them (tawhid) and prohibited them (the idols). He gave them powers to choose and act. And, this is something that every human being has a natural cognizance of: that he, indeed, has the power to do something if he wills it. There is no difference in opinion over this issue at all. So, they used the issue of ‘Qada’ and Qadr’ only to argue…” (16: 37)
The issue requires discussion of other details. But that’s not the issue for the moment. It is the fashionable habit of the youth blaming their Lord for their failures.
If you come across a man who is laying the blame on Qada’ and Qadr for the failure of his business, you will discover that he opens the shop only after the market has begun to cool, that is, by noon. He sits before the television until after midnight, hits the bed close to the first call of the rooster, gets out of bed as early as 11 am, and opens the shop after 12.
If you meet another man, blaming Qada’ and Qadr for failure of business, you will find that he just married off his daughter, at a small cost of 25-30 lakhs, much of which was borrowed on interest.
If you meet a third man blaming Qada’ and Qadr for failure of his business, you will discover that his shop hardly holds stocks worth 10,000, while his neighboring shops would be found filled with stocks in lakhs.
If you enquire the woman at the steps of a mosque appealing for help, you discover that the husband is an auto rickshaw driver, or a street hawker, or a laborer who give one-fifth of their earning to their wives and children, spending off the rest on themselves: daily biryani, mutton masala, lassi, paan and cigarettes. When other Muslims pass by where they live – slums, they are overtaken by grief and move on by remarking in feigned sympathy, “This is the work of Qada’ and Qadr. Yesterday, they were rulers, trying to remove slums, today they are in slums!”
So you know the role played by Qada’ and Qadr.
With reference to the youth, about 1% of them who did well, are employed in big business joints, and earn goodly salaries. They do not give credit for their success to Qada’ and Qadr. They take the credit for themselves. “You know,” he says, “I passed my electronic course with distinction, and work hard now in my job. My boss loves me.”
Below them are another 9% who managed to finish a graduation course, most of them in commerce. They can be identified as those who hate Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics; in particular Chemistry. They don’t mind arithmetic, although they need a calculator to find out how much is 8×7 is. They love only that science which can prove ‘the Qur’an is true,’ and approve of the only Islam which is theoretical, not practical, and approve of that speaker and preacher who can demonstrate that, ‘science confirms Islam;’although they know neither science nor Islam, but a little.
Those who couldn’t make to this second level, the 90%, they blame Qada’ and Qadr for whatever situation they finds themselves in. They share certain characteristics as a class. They are nominal Muslims. But for Friday, they do not enter mosques. The last time they read the Qur’an was when eight years old. If asked, they cannot define the Hadith. They think the Prophet was born in Makkah-Madinah. They believe of the rich, Muslim or non-Muslim, as the wrong men at the right time. They consider themselves as the right men at the wrong time. So the right men are waiting for the right time.
Other characteristics are: They hate hard work. If put to hard work, they mutter that there is definitely something wrong with the world. They are lethargic and love gossip. They can engage themselves in gossip for hours at any time of the day, any day of the year. Give them a task and see how they are out of sight for next few weeks. They do not want to be praised. But they do not want to be criticized either. They think that a man is judged by his hairstyle.
What could clear the issue better than Allah (swt) Himself, and set the rule? He said in the Qur’an (42: 30): “Whatever strikes you, of evil, is what your hands have wrought; although He forgives a lot.