Jabr & Qadr

A lot of very interesting questions and issues of theology have come up in the comments of my last post. I begin in the name of Allah and seek refuge in Him, and pray that the answers I give are based on truth. Anything good or correct I may write is from the Grace and Mercy of Allah, anything bad or incorrect is from my own ignorance or the influence of Shaitain, from whom I seek refuge.

Wayfarer said:

See, people always say “make dua for me or pray for me” and i do but in the end i don’t think it matters because Allah’s plan is set right? Like one friend said “make dua for me when you are having your baby because women are most sinless at that point.” She is unable to have children and madly wants one. In my head i’m thinking yeah i can make dua but perhaps this is Allah’s test for you. He doesn’t want you to have children. So going with your thinking…chappati’s, ropes around the neck and all that jazz, how is prayer different? Hasn’t Allah already decided these things for us so why supplicate except for forgiveness – and other things He hasn’t decided on yet if that is the case? Same with asking for protection of our loved ones. To what degree can we ask for? If their lives will be taken when it is set as the Qur’an says, what good does it do to ask for their safety?

This has been a big question of mine since i converted to Islam and I’m glad you spoke of it because no one ever answers my inquiry with a serious thought. I’d like to hear your position on prayer as it relates though…

It was a big question of mine too, and I think it was only recently resolved for me. A few weeks ago I attended a lil Islamic mini-lecture. The topic was dua, and the woman who spoke did an amazing job, MashaAllah.

The question of Jabr & Qadr (free will & predetermination) has existed for as long as man has, in his free will, wondered about it. Alhamdulillah, because scholars have been writing about it for such a long time, there is a rich body of work on the subject. Most of us simply don’t know that it exists and don’t know that we can access it though. But yeah, as I was saying, because people with real knowledge have addressed the topic, I don’t have to write my own shpiel. I can simply convey what has already been said:

The first principle which Islam lays down in regard to Taqdir is that man is neither completely the master of his fate nor is he bound to the blind law of predestination.

The idea that Allah has a foreknowledge of everything that He created and the events unfold themselves exactly according to it, does not imply that human beings have been completely deprived of the freedom of action. The foreknowledge of God is an acknowledged fact, but it should not be interpreted in the sense of predestination, for if we do so we shall have to conceive of eternity as a storehouse of ready-made events, from which they drop one by one like particles of sand in a glass hour. MSA-USC Intro to translation of Sahih Muslim, Book 33

The companions of the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, asked him why, if their final destinations (hell vs. heavan) were written, should they bother doing good deeds? Why not just rely on what was written in their destiny? The Prophet’s response was, “Act, for everyone is facilitated what he intends to do.” This hadith has been transmitted on the authority of Jabir b. Abdullah with the same wording (and includes these words): “Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Every doer of deed is facilitated in his action.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab-ul-Qadr)

Other times the Prophet answered this question with the following verse from the Qur’an:

Then, who gives to the needy and guards against evil and accepts the excellent (the truth of Islam and the path of righteousness it prescribes), We shall make easy for him the easy end and who is miserly and considers himself above need, We shall make easy for him the difficult end”. (XCii. 5-10).

Obviously, what we think of as Qadr is not “predestination” in the restrictive, binding sense that we have no freedom of action. Otherwise, what would be the point of giving us rules? Of giving us a test if we had no hand in our own results?

We do have a will of our own, and Allah refers to it many, many times in the Qur’an.

…So he who wills may take to his Lord a way of return by obeying his commandments. Quran: 78:39

So fear Allaah as much as you are able and listen and obey… Quran: 64:16

Allaah does not charge a soul except with that within its capacity. It will have the consequence of what good it has gained, and it will bear the consequence of what evil it has earned… Quran: 2:286 -IslamWeb

The will of man does exist, and yet the will of Allah is all-encompassing. How do we explain the co-existence of both wills simultaneously? Man’s limited free will exists because Allah has allowed it, and it is limited in the sense that man’s will is subject to God’s. You may ‘will’ to sprout wings and fly, but good luck buddy. Allah wills for His creations what He wants, and since His supersedes yours, you may never get off the ground.

Or more realistically, you may ‘will’ to take your car from point A to point B, and you may do everything in your abilities (your abilities also being allowed to you by the will of God) but God willed that someone else should crash into you somewhere in the middle and you never make it to your destination.

There’s a difference between your will and God’s. You’re only judged on what you do, not what happens to you. It’s the difference between poking yourself in the eye with a fork deliberately or having a fork fly at you in a freak accident. No one will call you self-destructive in the second case, because it’s not like it was your fault or will.

Belief in Al-Qadr …does not provide an excuse for mankind to sin or abandon what they are obligated to do. This excuse can be refuted by the following seven arguments…

Allaah says: “Those who associated with Allaah will say: ‘If Allaah had willed, we would not have associated [anything] and neither would our fathers, nor would we have prohibited anything.’ Likewise did those before deny until they tasted Our punishment. Say: ‘Do you have any knowledge that you can produce for us?’ You follow not except assumption, and you are not but falsifying.” [Quran 6:148]

The disbelievers did not have a valid excuse when they said that what they did was according to Al-Qadr. If this excuse was valid, then why will Allaah punish them for their sins?

“The future certainly pre-exists in the organic whole of God’s creative life, but it pre-exists as an open possibility, not as a fixed order of events with definite outlines.”

So now that we know we’re not limited by the fact that Allah already knows what we’re going to do, we have the freedom to ask for things, don’t we?

“And your Lord says: Pray unto me: and I will hear your prayer” -Qur’an 40:60

We can petition God, as God has told us to, for our needs and wants, for guidance, for security, for peace. For a new shoelace even. Allah has said that He hears all prayers, and even the ones we don’t consider to be “answered” according to our limited knowledge of what we think is good for us are not “wasted.”

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said: Any Muslim who supplicates to Allah in a Du’a which contains no sin breaking of kinship, Allah will give him one of three things: either his Du’a will be immediately answered or, it will be saved for him in the hereafter, or it will turn away an equivalent amount of evil (from him)” The companions said “so we will ask for more” he replied, “Allah is more [generous].” at-Tirmidhi, Ahmad

So there’s always a point to making dua, and because not only does it bring you closer to Allah, it also benefits you in ways that you simply may not be able to understand or see.

…’protection’ and ‘predestination’, both are the doings of the Almighty, as He alone does as He wills. As far as the slave of Allah is concerned, his responsibility is to make du’a, and then proceed in the direction of his choice, as that will be best for him.

Wayfarer said: btw…hope that didn’t sound like i don’t believe prayer and supplication duas work because i do. I’m just talking about things that are predetermined like pregnancy, death, safety etc. It also doesn’t stop me from praying for the safety and health of all my loved ones and even the other stuff – just in case.

All things are ‘predetermined,’ not just pregnancy, death, safety, etc if you translate predetermination as being within Qadr- as being within the will and knowledge of Allah. And yet, we make dua because Qadr is not a limitation on man, it is simply another proof of God’s magnificence and the completeness of His knowledge and power.

(It was reported that a man who was caught stealing was brought to ‘Umar bin Al-Khattaab, may Allaah be pleased with him, who ordered that this man’s hand be cut off. The man said: “Wait, O leader of the believers! I only stole because this was in the Qadr of Allaah.” ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, replied “And we are amputating your hand because it is in the Qadr of Allaah.” Ha ha.)

I hope that answers your questions Wayfarer. As for the pregnant women being without sin or having reduced sin, I looked but was unable to find any hadith mentioning that. I could be wrong, and Allah knows best, but as a pregnant woman m’self, I don’t feel too terribly holy. I slept in and missed Fajr more than once this week alone. It was my fault entirely, it had nothing to do with pregnancy. The Bebe I carry is sinless, not me, and I don’t know that the act of carrying a child itself is enough to wipe my slate clean or excuse any sin I indulge in.

Although it is true that suffering, borne with patience and faith in Allah’s will, serves to erase sin (by virtue of said patience), I’m not that much inconvenienced, even if I am starting to look like I’ve swallowed a basketball, heh. So about being ‘most sinless’ at this point, I’m pretty sure I had less sin when I was a Bebe m’self. Allah knows best.


Abez is a 50% white, 50% Pakistani, and 100% Muslim. She is also chronically ill and terminally awesome. She is the ever-lovin Momma of: - Khalid, a special little boy with autism - Iman, a special little girl with especially big hair -Musfira, an especially devious baby Spoiler, Abez is also Zeba Khan on Muslimmatters.org.

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