The Divine Will
Qada’ wa Qadr (roughly, and not accurately: Divine Will and Determination) is a mind boggling issue, but which refuses the mind to come to rest. Having failed to offer a satisfactory answer, philosophy accepted defeat and receded into the background. “It is a problem,” they said, “that promises to stay.” Then came their cousins (the psychologists and their family-members) but gradually they too left, not as cheerfully as they had entered. They thought they could handle at least a part of the issue before proceeding to tackle the question of “freedom” and “pre-destination.” The issue was that of “nature” and “nurture.” A century was spent on the trail of the ghost, following every trail and footprint as meticulously as any Sherlock Holmes would, but it remained as elusive as the Flying Saucers or the Snowman of the Himalayas. Scientists were cleverer than both and so decided to stay mum. But discovery of the encoded information in the DNA of all living bodies, was so exciting that they forgot all about prudence. Here is the information centre, they cried out in exhilaration, of everything that a living organism “is” or “can be.” All you have now to do, is to decode. Complicated as it was, it led the biologists inexorably to a point they had not expected to encounter. At that point they realized that if they continued further, it would once again raise the ugly question of “nature” and “nurture.” Those who crossed that point, and began to air their views concerning “crime,” “homosexuality” and “hypersensitivity,” soon realized that if everything was there in the self-styled arrangement of nucleotides, then, what about human freedom? Their conjectures meant that they were about to declare that the genetic messages – as they understood – would soon announce that humans were not free, and that their actions were pre-determined. Almost everyone cooled down.
The philosophers were not so dumb after all: “The problem of Freedom and Predetermination is here to stay.”
Let us offer a simple example to illustrate the difficulties behind explanation of Qada’ and Qadr, the Divine Will and Determination. And since examples of individuals do not end capturing the imagination, we shall take the example of nations. They are likelier to be understood because of the spread of information through media, discussions, gossip-talk and personal experience.
In some countries the majority decided to lift their lowest classes up and usher another, “not their own,” classes into the slums. They decided that those others should be doing menial jobs: garbage gatherers, porters, barbers, house hold servants, garage mechanics and so on. In some cases, the decisions were taken 200 years back (as about the blacks in America), in others hundred, in some 60-70 years ago.
With a particular community in mind, we may point out that in the manner of execution of the policy stated above(not spoken out but understood through a language of insinuation, given the assent through silent nods), the executive authorities split into two – violent and non-violent: those who believed that the objective should be achieved by employing peaceful means: prevent “them” from higher education, governmental jobs, obtaining licenses for good businesses, keeping their areas of inhabitation unclean etc., as well as bombarding them with propaganda both at the individual as well as national level to make them believe that they are a “no good” people, who should not think high, should not aim at achieving anything noble, but accept the majority as their masters and remain satisfied with menial life.
At the individual level great subtlety is employed. When a colleague belonging to “that” community congratulated his “this” community friend on the birth of a child, he told him, “Congrats. Now that you have a son, in 5-6 years time he will be able to help you financially by working in a cycle workshop or some such place!” In another incident, the Afro-American Malcolm-X relates that in his school days a teacher questioned the students what they would like to be. Someone answered that he will be a pilot, another that he will be a scientist, and so on. When Malcolm-X gave an answer in the same spirit, the white teacher told him, in compassionate tones, sounding reasonable and logical, that he should rather, given his potentials, aim at becoming a carpenter, hairdresser, or whatever profession of that nature.
So, a lot of psychological, economic, social and political pressure is exercised upon the minority to make them accept the role assigned to them: menial labors. This plan of action is agreed upon by both the factions of the majority we wrote above, namely, the plan of action should employ such means as would achieve the objective peacefully and gradually. But the other faction says that if the process is not accomplished fast, time may not allow the accomplishment of the objectives. Therefore, violence may be employed where necessary: use riots to burn, loot, destroy, demoralize, and forcibly push them into slums: the ultimate objective.
Such were the objectives. And all that was planned was very professionally, and diligently, executed. During the coming decades, successes were being reported from all around. Those who were officers became office-boys in the same establishments. Professors became fathers of school drop-out sons. Land owners were tilling the lands for others. Petty criminals were young men of noble lineage. Street hawkers were proud sons of whole-sale dealers. One could easily see how humans are free to plan, execute and see their efforts fructify. Divine Decree and Destination played no role. If it did, then it was a sinister role, executor of an evil drama. But since an evil role could not have a Divine Hand, the natural conclusion was: The humans enjoy freedom. They are free, and you are free. You plan, execute and enjoy the fruits. You choose to sit back, you bear the consequences. Who could disagree?
But, then came the irony: The desperate people began to look outward: first South African countries, then Britain, then USA, then Australia and Newziland, then Canada and so on. Those who escaped to new destinations began to look back and offer monitory help to those left behind. Next came another Divine intervention: discovery of oil in the Middle-east. The most tremendous ever development in the history of humanity after the Abbasid period, that saw millions trekking up there. They boosted the economy of those who could not make it or had to stay put to play other roles. With the flow of wealth, the community, those that were avoiding looking straight up, began to look eye into eye. With confidence regained, they began to make contributions in a variety of fields.
Thus we see that both human freedom and Divine Decree work. Both play their respective roles. In the general scenario, it is difficult to say where ends the role of one and starts the role of another. But, it will be agreed that it is not mere faith that leads to the conclusion that Allah’s Will prevailed over human will without taking away the freedom allowed to the humans. It were humans who decided to go oversees in search of places, in search of peoples, who will benefit from the potentials within them. But it was Divine Will that created the opportunities.
The situation will remain: The humans working their own ways and the Divine Will working its own ways.
To continue with the above illustration, there came, finally, but definitely not the last measure in the Divine Scheme, it came into the heads of the authorities that they need to malign the religion of the minority, their community, and their individuals. This was a huge imported error. It fetched the directly opposite results. When persecuted in the name of religion, when woken up by the attack on their Prophet, the most benevolent single personality in history, they looked down into their forgotten religion to discover that going by reason and logic, it was the best around. They became stronger adherents of their faith. They began to create their own educational institutions, charity organizations, welfare associations, and, Da`wah Houses. A huge number of people, destined for the slums, began to work to bring out the less fortunate ones out of them. More, and amazingly so, armed with Divinely bestowed confidence, they now began to look into the eyes of their challengers with pity for them. Look hard, they began to say in confident undertones, you indeed are the losers. Come, let us offer you – most humbly – moral and spiritual help. We are, at the end of the day, and, at the end of the conflicts, brothers in humanity. We are inheritors of the spirit of those Arabs who used to fight their attackers in the battle-fields by the day, and feed the enemy-soldiers by night. Come, let us build a new world. Look, there are new dangers ahead. Wake up, we will need joint strength to fight off our new enemies: from within, from without. Lift up your eyes to see the clouds gathering at the horizons: unbearable high prices, fuel shortages, lower industrial output, economy cooling down, tension in geographically strategic areas, changing weather patterns, unmanageable mega cities, and, yes, not to forget, the huge slums destined for us, but which we both now share. Look at the horizons. Nay, look beyond the horizons: there is another Reality, up there, up above us, up in Knowledge, up in Grandeur, up in Kindness.
This Ramadan is going to be another moral and morale boosting occasion. Veils will come down, caps will go up, arrogance will be curbed, humbleness will be manifested, the rich will go hungry, the poor will smile, market economy will heat up, mosques will fill up.
The stone that was rejected can still prove to be the corner stone. But, are you ready to build the House? Together? Or, will you choose to go alone, against unknown odds, serving unknown gods? Forget not, the Divine Will shall prevail.