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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Belief in Destiny (Qadar)

Belief in Qadar (destiny) is the sixth pillar of Iman. The understanding of this pillar has lead to great divisions amongst the Muslims, and hence the formation of deviant sects. The Prophet (SAW) repeated the word ‘believe in’ when explaining ‘Qadar’ in the hadith of Jibril, highlighting the importance of this pillar of iman.

In the Qur'an the following verses speaks about Qadar.

1. Verily, We have created all things with Qadar (divine preordainments) of all things before their creation, as written in the Book of Decrees (Al Lawhul Mahfuz). [Surah Al Qamar 54:49]
2. “And the command of Allah is a decree determined [qadran maqdooran]” [Surah Al Ahzaab 33:38]
3. He surely is able to do all things. [Surah Al-Ahqaf 46:33]

In the Sunnah the following hadiths refer to Qadar.

1. On the authority of Abdullah bin Masoud, who said, the Messenger of Allah, and he is the truthful, the believed narrated to us: "Verily the creation of each one of you is brought together in his mother's belly for forty days in the form of seed, then he is a clot of blood for a like period, then a morsel of flesh for a like period, then there is sent to him the angel who blows the breath of life into him and who is commanded about four matters: to write down his means of livelihood, his life span, his actions, and whether happy or unhappy. By Allah, other than whom there is no God, verily one of you behaves like the people of Paradise until there is but an arm's length between him and it, and that which has been written over takes him and so he behaves like the people of Hell-fire and thus he enters it; and one of you behaves like the people of Hell-fire until there is but an arm's length between him and it, and that which has been written over takes him and so he behaves like the people of Paradise and thus he enters it." [Related by Bukhari and Muslim]
2. On the authority of Abdullah bin Abbas: Who said one day I was behind the prophet and he said to me: "Young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice]: Be mindful of Allah, and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of Allah; if you seek help, seek help of Allah. Know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that Allah had already prescribed for you, and that if they gather together to harm you with anything, they would harm you only with something Allah had already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried." [Related by Tirmidhi]


Linguistic Definition

1. The word Qada’ means perfection and completion.
2. The word Qadar means evaluating and planning. It implies the measuring out of something or fixing a limit to it. The Salaf would simply define destiny as knowledge that what hits you was not going to miss you, and that what misses you was not going to hit you.

Shariah Definition

1. Qadar means Allah’s Divine Decree: This is belief that all things are decreed by Allah (SWT) from eternity. Things will come to pass at the times that are known to Him and in the specific manner that He has decreed and willed. They will happen in the way they are meant to and the way they are created.
2. Qada’ means Allah’s Divine Will: This is to have certain belief that everything that happens in this universe happens by the will and decree of Allah.

Those Who Deny Qadar

Some people came to Abdullah Ibn Umar and said there are some people who do not believe in Qadar, to which Abdullah ibn Umar replied, “When you meet such persons, tell them that I have nothing to do with them, and they have nothing to do with me. And verily they are in no way responsible for my belief”. Then he went on to swear by Allah (SWT) “If any of them were to have gold equivalent to Mount Uhud with them and they were to spend it in the path of Allah (SWT), Allah (SWT) would not accept it from him unless he affirms his faith in divine decree”. He then related the hadith of Jibril which he related from his father Umar bin Al Khattab.

The Correct Understanding of Qadar

The scholar Ibn Qayyim Al Jawziyyah said “for the Muslims to understand Qadar correctly they must relate it to four aspects”.

1. Allah’s knowledge of everything before its existence
2. Allah’s recording of everything before the creation of the heavens and the earth
3. Allah’s willing everything into existence
4. Allah’s creating of everything that exists

1. Belief in Allah’s (SWT) knowledge of everything before its existence

This is to say Allah (SWT) knows the unseen before it happens, such as the knowledge of when there will be rainfall, the lifespan of the baby, whether a person will be obedient or disobedient.

“And with Him are the keys of the unseen, none knows them but He” [EMQ 6:59]

2. Belief in Allah’s (SWT) recording of all things before he created the heavens and the earth

Allah (SWT) not only knows the past but knows what is yet to come, and has recorded this information in the Preserved Table (Lawhul Mahfuzh).

“Don’t you know that Allah knows all that is in the heavens and on earth? Verily it is all in the Book, verily that is easy for Allah” [EMQ 22:70]

Allah (SWT) further says, “No calamity occurs on the earth or among yourselves but it is inscribed in the Book” [EMQ 57:22]

Sahih Muslim records that the Prophet (SAW) said “Allah (SWT) recorded all that will happen 50 thousand year before the creation, and Allah's (SWT) throne is over the water”

The recording takes place as follows:

1. Preserved Tablet
2. On each individuals forehead whilst in the womb; rizq (provision), ajal (lifespan), amal (deeds), successful or miserable
3. On the night of Lailatul Qadar
4. Daily by the angels – reports go to Allah (SWT) twice a day (Fajr and Asr)

3. Belief in Allah’s (SWT) decreeing everything that is in existence

If Allah (SWT) does not will something, it can never come into existence. It includes the acts performed by human beings. A person may intend and try for example to kick a ball, but if Allah (SWT) does not will it to occur, it will not occur, so that person may stumble and fall or totally fail to strike the ball at all. Allah (SWT) says, “If Allah had willed they would not have fought against one another, but Allah does what He likes” [Qur'an 2:253]

4. Belief in Allah’s (SWT) creating of everything that exists

“He created everything and measured everything according to its due measurements” [EMQ 25:2]

Even the deeds of mankind are the creation of Allah (SWT). Man has been given free will to do what he wants, but not free choice. So when he goes against the commands of Allah (SWT) he is punished, even though the wrong action of this person is created by Allah (SWT), the person is punished for making the choice and willingness to commit it.

“The Good and the Evil Thereof”

Ibn Qayyim points out what is meant by evil here is with respect to human beings and not with respect to Allah (SWT). The evil act is the result of man’s ignorance, wrongdoing, oppression and corruption; brought into existence by Allah (SWT) according to His wisdom and knowledge. Allah (SWT) would not create something that is pure evil.

“Evil has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned. That Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done in order that they may return (by repenting)” [EMQ 30:41]

Even in this verse Allah (SWT) states the cause of the evil, yet Allah (SWT) says so they can taste it and return to Allah (SWT). Pure evil on the other hand would have no benefit or positive result.

The proper understanding of Qadar will benefit the Muslims; as it will make them realize that Allah (SWT) is the only one to rely on, giving people tranquility and peace of mind. If a Muslim is tested or a calamity befalls them, they will know it has occurred in Allah’s (SWT) wisdom.

Statements like “If I didn’t come to work today, I would not have had this accident” are contradictory to the belief in Qadar. On the other hand, if someone was to lose their job or house they should know that Allah (SWT) is the provider of everything. They should accept that their loss was already decreed for them and no person could affect or change that.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) has explained some of the practical implications of this belief in his sayings.

“If something befalls you, don’t say: If only I would have done such and such, rather say: Allah foreordained this, and whatever He wishes, He does; for verily the phrase ‘if only I would have’ makes way for the work of Satan” [Reported by Muslim]

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) asked one of his Companions, “Shall I not guide you to words that are a treasure from the treasures of Paradise?” He said, “Of course, O Messenger of Allah!” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “There is no ability or power except through Allah” [Reported by Bukhari and Muslim]

Deviation in the Understanding of Qadar

Qadariyah (Qadaris) is a Muslim sect which believes that man produced his own actions, which meant that they make man (khaliq al-af'al) creator of actions, thus giving Allah a partner in creating.

Applied to the Mu'tazilah. Adherents maintained that Allah had given man free will. Without it, one could not be fully accountable for ones actions. Free will also meant that Allah could not know a man's actions in advance

Jabriyah is the name given to those who, in opposition to the Qadariyah, deny the freedom of the will, and on this point make no distinction between man and inanimate nature, in as much as his actions are subordinate to the compulsion (jabr) of God. The most prominent champion of this view is Jahm Ibn Safwan and many other small sects.

The Jahmis are the followers of Jahm Ibn Safwan Abu Muhriz, a (mawla) client of Banu Rasib, called at-Tirmidhi by some and as-Samarqandi by others, a Muslim theologian, who attached himself to al-Harith Ibn Suraij, the "man with the black banner", during the rising in Khurasan towards the end of the 'Umayyad period and was therefore put to death in 128 H.:745-6 C.E. by Salm Ibn Ahwaz. As a theologian he occupies an independent position in as much as he agreed with the Murji'ah on the one hand in teaching that belief is an affair of the heart, and with the Mu'tazilah in denying the anthropomorphic attributes of God, but on the other hand he was one of the strongest defenders of Jabr. He only allowed that Allah is all-powerful and the creator because these are the things which can not be predicated of any created being. He further denied the eternity of Paradise and Hell. His followers called jahmiyah after him, survived down to the fifth century of the Hijrah: eleventh century C.E., around Tirmidh but then adopted the doctrines of the Ash'aris.

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