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Belief in Qadar

In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

By Dr. Ja`far Sheikh Idris

The original meaning of the word Qarlar is specified measure or amount whether of quantities or qualities. It has many other usages which branch out from this core. Thus yuqad-dir means, among other things, to measure or decide the quantity, quality, position, etc. of something before you actually make it. And it is this latter sense which interests us here.

"God is the creator of everything, but whatever He creates, He creates with qadnr. [Qamar, LIV: 49]

He knows before creating it, that He is going to create it and that it shall be of such and such magnitude, quality or nature etc. and specifies the time of its coming into being and passing away, and the place of its occurrence. If so, then one who believes in the true God should believe that there are no accidents in nature. If something disagreeable happens to him, he should say "God qad-dara (ordained), and He did what He willed" and not waste himself over wishing that it had not occurred, or worrying why it should occur. If on the other hand something agreeable happens to him he should not boast of it, but thank God for it.

"No affliction befalls in the earth or in yourselves, but it is in a Book, before We create it; that is easy for God; that you may not grieve for what escapes you, nor rejoice (vaingloriously) in what has been given to you, God loves not any man proud and boastful." [Hadid, LVII: 23].

If God yuqad-dir (predestines, predetermines etc.) everything, that includes our so called free actions. But if so in what way can they be said to be free, and how are we responsible for them? This question occasioned the appearance, at a very early history of Islam,of two extreme theological sects. One of them, called the Qadariya, asserted man's free will and responsibility to the extent of denying God's foreknowledge, and claiming that God knows our free made actions only after we have performed them. The other, called the Jabriyya, did just the opposite and claimed that there was no difference between the motions of inanimate things and our movements in performing so-called free actions, and that when we use intentional language we speak only metaphorically.

But there is no need to go to such extremes, since it is not difficult to reconcile Divine Qadar and human responsibility. God decided to create man as a free agent, but He knows (and how carl He not know!) before creating every man how he is going to use his free will; what, for instance, his reaction would be when a Prophet clarifies God's message to him. This foreknowledge and its registering in a 'Book' is called Qadar.'But if we are free to use our will' a Qadari might say,'We may use it in ways that contradict God's will, and in that case we would not be right in claiming that everything is willed or decreed by God.' The Qur'an answers this question by reminding us that it was God who willed that we shall be wilful, and it is He who allows us to use our will.

"Surely, this is a Reminder; so he who will, takes unto his Lord a way, but you will not unless God wills." [lnsan, LXXVI: 29-30].

'If so', says a Qadari, 'He could have prevented us from doing evil.' Yes indeed He could.

"Had God willed, He would have brought them all together to the guidance; if thy Lord had willed whoever is in the earth would have believed, all of them, all together." [Yunus, X: 99].

"Had God willed, they were not idolaters; and we have not appointed thee a watcher over them neither art thou their guardian." [An'am, VI: 107]

But He had willed that men shall be free especially in regard to matters of belief and disbelief.

Say: "The truth is from your Lord; so let whosoever will believe, and let whosoever will disbelieve." [Kahf, XVIII: 29].

But men would not be so free if whenever any of them wills to do evil God prevents him from doing it and compels him to do good.

"II our actions are willed by Cod," someone might say, "then they are in fact His actions." This objection is based on a confusion God wills what we will in the sense of granting us the will to choose and enabling us to execute that will i.e. He creates all that makes it possible for us to do it. He does not will it in the sense of doing it, otherwise it would be quite in order to say, when we drink or eat or sleep for instance that God performed these actions. God creates them, He does not do or perform them. Another objection, based on another confusion, is that if God allows us to do evil, then He approves of it and likes it. But to will something in the sense of allowing a person to do it is one thing; and to approve of his action and commend it, is quite another Not everything that God wills He likes. He has, as we have just read in the Qur'an, granted man the choice betwen belief and disbelief, but He does not, of course, like men to disbelieve (to be thankless).

"If you art unthankful, God is independent of you. Yet He anpproves not unthankfulness in His servants; but if you are thankful, He will approve it in you." [Zumar, XXXIX: 7].

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