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[al-Taḥawiyyah Pt 23 Sec2] Using Qadar As An Excuse

وَكُلُّ شَيْءٍ يَجْرِي بـِقُدْرَتِهِ وَمَشِيئَتِهِ. وَمَشِيئَتُهُ تَنْفُذُ، وَلا مَشِيئَةَ لِلْعِبَادِ إِلاَّ مَا شَاءَ لَهُمْ، فَمَا شَاءَ لَهُمْ كَانَ وَمَا لَمْ يَشَأْ لَمْ يَكُنْ

Things occur as He ordains and wills them. His will is always carried out. There is no will for His servants except for what He wills for them. Whatever He wills for them happens and what He does not will for them does not happen.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE JABRIYYA

As the philosophy the Qadariyyah gained momentum through the increasingly popular Mu’tazilite sect, it elicited the predictable human phenomena of a counter reaction. The counter group that emerged in opposition to the Mu’tazilites were known as the Jabriyya. However, in response to the contention of the Mu’tazilites they adopted a belief which diametrically opposed to that of the Qadariyya and was thus also extreme. One sought to affirm that human will reigns supreme whereas the other claimed that there is in reality no freedom of choice or free will. The Jabriyya had a fatalistic outlook and believed that man has no free will in his actions; that man is under compulsion (jabr), just as a feather is at the mercy of the wind, and that he has no choice even in his intentional actions. This is why they were called al-Jabriyya, which can be translated as the Fatalists.

The belief of the Jabriyya was that no one acts except Allāh. Man in reality does not have any choice in life and is compelled to do whatever he does. Man is not any different to lifeless objects that are moved about by other beings; he is like the feather in the wind, it goes wherever the wind takes it.

As for being rewarded or punished in the Hereafter, then they claim that his deeds play no role in his fate. Just as he was compelled to act in this world, Allāh will dictate where he ends up in the Hereafter. If He wishes He will throw him into the Fire, and if He wishes He will enter him into Paradise.

The first to propose this newly-innovated doctrine was Jahm b. Ṣafwān (128 AH) in the 2nd century. He would remark: ‘No one acts or can claim that they have done a deed except Allāh.’ He claimed that man did not possess the capability to act nor did he have a will to choose. Allāh was controlling man just as He controls the orbit of the celestial bodies.

For them, Allāh would only decree matters which He likes in and of themselves. He cannot decree things which He hates and dislike, such as sins, disbelief, and so on. If He has decreed something it must mean that He likes it. This corrupt doctrine led them to cancel out all of Allāh’s religious commandments, for how can God command man to believe and do righteous deeds when he is not even capable of choosing to do them in the first place. And how could God prohibit man from something which he is unable to stay away from.

Such a doctrine necessarily dictates that one draw no distinction between good and evil, between belief and disbelief, and between vice and virtue. It also follows that man is inherently incapable of discerning right from wrong, or more accurately, that there is no such thing as right or wrong.

Both sects failed to recognise that Allāh’s Will (irāda) is of two types. The first being the Ontological Will of Allāh (al-Irāda al-Kawniyya) by which creation as we know it comes to exist; including the limited free will that every human is born with. The second being the Legislative Will of Allāh (al-Irāda al-Shar‘īyyah) which relates to all of Allāh’s religious commands. It is all those things that He loves, and which are embodied in what he has legislated for us in His commands and prohibitions [1]. The Jabriyya simply superimposed the second onto the first and hence fell into a grievous error by claiming that everything in existence in inherently loved by Allāh.

Those who followed this doctrine went to such extremes claiming that the essence of all created things is Allāh Himself and that nothing happens except by the Will of Allāh, therefore even my sins are like acts of obedience if I come to this realisation of Allāh’s Lordship! They called this the reality of Allāh’s Lordship (rubūbiyyah) and began using it to justify their sins.

THE REASONING BEHIND THE INNOVATION

Despite the clarity of the relationship between the will of people and the Will of Allāh, the matter of Divine Decree (qadar) was grossly misunderstood by some. A group of Muslims focused on the will of the human beings and ignored the Will of Allāh and concluded that Allāh has no control over the actions of human beings and hence their sinning occurs autonomously from Allāh’s Decree. There are Quranic verses, when read in isolation to the verses that speak about the will of  Allāh, do seem to support this understanding, such as Allāh’ saying: ‘And say, “The truth is from your Lord, so whoever wills – let him believe; and whoever wills – let him disbelieve”’ [2]. Other verses which confirm that human beings will be rewarded for whatever they earned were also cited by such groups of Muslims, such as His saying: ‘So let them laugh a little and [then] weep much as recompense for what they used to earn.’[3] and: ‘And no soul knows what has been hidden for them of comfort for eyes as reward for what they used to do.’[4]

This doctrine originated from the worry of these people to attribute to Allāh the creation of anything evil and reprehensible. They believed that it is impossible that Allāh knows that evil will occur in his dominion and yet He allows it to occur. Hence they claimed that Allāh only knows about evil deeds when human beings do them. Ultimately, they claimed that human beings have full control over what they want to do and in fact they create their deeds and bring their actions into existence independently. This group later on became known later as the Qadariyyah.

On the other hand, the opposite extreme focused on the Will of Allāh and ignored the will that Allāh gave to human beings, but for the very same reason. They too thought it impossible to ascribe evil occurrences to Allāh through Divine Decree (qadar) and thus created a doctrine which fundamentally negates the existence of good and evil. Thus they claimed that Allāh dictates everything and compels human beings to act and therefore human beings have no free will. This group of Muslims focused exclusively on Quranic verses that speak of Allāh’s Will in isolation to those that speak of the free will of human beings. Verses such as Allāh’s saying: ‘That is Allāh, your Lord; there is no deity except Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He is Disposer of all things [5] .’ and His saying: ‘And your Lord creates what He wills and chooses; not for them was the choice. Exalted is Allāh and high above what they associate with Him.’[6]

What is apparent is that each group focused on certain Quranic verses whilst neglecting other verses that speak of the same subject, in this case: Divine Decree (qadar). While the Qadariyyah focused on the verses that confirm the will of human beings, the Jabriyya focused on the Quranic verses that confirm the will of Allāh. Neither group adopted the right approach. However, their discourse regressed even further as they later went on to claim that there is a contradiction between the Quranic verses that speak of Allāh’s Will. While some verses confirm an unconditional and unrestricted Will of Allāh that cannot be outdone, such as His saying: ‘Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees (qaā) a matter, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is”, [7] other verses confirm that the Will of Allāh may not come into existence unrestrictedly, such as His saying: ‘And your Lord has decreed (qaā) that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment’ [8] as many do not believe. There is no contradiction between such verses as what is evident from this verse is that Allāh sometimes speaks of decree in the sense of legislation and religious commandments, such commandments may or may not be adhered to by human beings based on their free will. This is why the scholars identified this type of decreeing as being  Allāh’s Legislative Will of Allāh (al-Irāda al-Shar‘īyyah).

IBN TAYMIYYA’S SUMMARY OF THE TWO EXTREME VIEWS ON QADAR

‘Whoever affirms Divine Decree (qadar) but uses it as evidence and pretext to cancel out the commandments and prohibitions [i.e., to excuse one’s sins on the grounds of Divine Decree], is worse than one who affirms the commandments and prohibitions, but denies Divine Decree (qadar). There is consensus among the Muslims and the followers of other religions that whoever uses Divine Decree (qadar) as evidence and pretext and recognises that Allāh is the Lord of all created beings, but does not differentiate between what is permitted and what is forbidden, between a believer and a disbeliever, between one who is obedient and one who is disobedient, does not believe in any of the Messengers or in any of the Books. In this person’s view, Adam and Iblīs are the same, as are Nūḥ and his disbelieving people, Mūsā and Fir‘awn, the Companions and the disbelievers.’ [9]

The position of Ahl Sunnah is to say that although Allāh is the creator of everything, we have been created with free will and Allāh allows human beings to make decisions. Once we have made a decision, Allāh creates what they have decided and Allāh knew beforehand what we would decide and is therefore able to take our decision into account in recording what would happen. Our will is therefore encompassed by Him and is within the knowledge and will of Allāh who facilitates our will. This free will does not create our actions and therefore we are not creators alongside Allāh.

Points of Benefit:

The true concept of Divine Decree (qadar) as related by the Qur’ān and the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) lays down a strong foundation for other dimensions of faith such as proactive reliance (tawakkul) in Allāh, Exalted is He. This is because it prevents a believer from viewing the world from a fatalistic lens as he is not compelled to act, but rather be responsible for his own action (i.e., His Ontological Will). Moreover it encourages him to pursue life’s noble endeavours as they are matters wherein Allāh’s Pleasure lies and have all been clarified in His religion (i.e., His Legislative Will). There is also a sense of empowerment as Allāh’s Decree is expressive of His perfect power and mastery over all that exists. If a believer was to pursue His pleasure through noble deeds, Allāh would become his patron and grant him success in his worldly and future affairs.

Based on their doctrine of Divine Decree, the Jabriyya also came up with a fatalistic understanding of Reliance upon Allāh (tawakkul). They claimed that since everything we do is dictated by Allāh, there is therefore no need to strive and seek out the means to do good in one’s life, as whatever Allāh Wills will come to pass anyway.

Whether simple or complex, private or public, decisions are an essential part of your life. A correct understanding of Divine Decree helps a believer become more adept in making critical decisions. This is because the realisation that Allāh has complete and perfect mastery over the whole universe, that every affair is unfolding as He intended, and that the absence of incidents is also intended by Him just as its presence is (i.e., relating to His Ontological Will), helps instil a sense of god-consciousness in one’s mind (i.e., relating to His Legislative Will). Indeed, the ability to make wise, educated decisions is essential to living a successful and fulfilled life. Without exception, the best decisions in a believer’s life are those grounded in god-consciousness.

No creatures is aware of what Allāh has willed for him until it comes to pass. A person will never know what deeds have been decreed for him nor his fate in the Hereafter until that time comes to pass. It makes sense, therefore, not to use Divine Decree to justify past wrongs or future mistakes. Moreover, simply because Allāh has foreknowledge of our actions it does not mean He is responsible for them. Shayṭān tried to justify his wickedness by using Divine Decree as an excuse when he said to Allāh: ‘O Lord! Because You misled me…’ yet Allāh condemned him for such. Ādam also erred but behaved very differently and instead turned back to Allāh in repentance saying: ‘Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves…’ and so Allāh forgave him and honoured him as the father of mankind.

4) The fact that Allāh allowed us to do something does not imply that he wanted us to do it; we must distinguish between two types of will of Allāh:

i. Irāda Kawniyyah: the will of Allāh which results in creation; this includes Allāh giving effect to human free will where approved.

ii. Irāda Sharīyyah: the will of Allāh in terms of what he loves; which is embodied in what He has legislated for us in his commands and prohibitions.

5) The Prophetic Narration wherein Mūsa (‘Alayhisalām) tells Ādam (‘Alayhisalām) that it was the result of his sin that mankind lost their heavenly abode and where Ādam replies that it was the will of Allāh, has been misinterpreted to mean that Ādam was justifying his sin through Divine Decree. However, Ādam had in fact been referring to the expulsion from the garden as being the will of Allāh as this had been part of the punishment decided upon by Allāh. The calamity of being taken out of paradise was being referred to in Adam’s words: ‘Are you blaming me for doing something that Allāh had decreed I would do before I was created?’, meaning we lost our place in paradise by Allāh’s Decree; and that calamity was something I had no influence over. As for the sin, he was not justifying it by using Divine Decree (qadar), neither was Mūsā enquiring as to why Adam had committed that sin.

6) Our will is encompassed within the will of Allāh and therefore we cannot will something which Allāh does not also will for us. We take the decision to commit a good or bad deed and it is Allāh who allows us to follow-through with that decision and gives effect to it.

7) According to Ibn Taymiyyah, the Mu’tazilites first claimed that humans were themselves bringing their actions into existence; later some of them began to claim that Allāh does not know of humans acts except after they have taken place and that they are not fore-ordained.

8) The ideology of the Qadariyya is fundamentally shared by the Shī‘a and the Mutazilites.

9) The Jabriyya have also been referred to as Qadariyyah because they affirm Divine Decree (qadar) in an exaggerated sense.

10) In modern times, elements of the Jabriyya belief are being manifest as people seek to justify homosexual tendencies based on  genetic predisposition, citing evidence of a “homosexual gene”. To claim that homosexuality is part of a person’s genetic makeup is similar to the classical Jabri opinion that claims that man has no free will in his actions. More to the point, the essence of the belief is that no one can be blamed for a committed sin as they cannot avoid doing it. Indeed the Quraysh of Makkah would justify their idol-worship by saying: ‘If Allāh had willed we would not have associated anything with Him’. However ridiculous such a claim may be, even if accepted for the sake of argument it still does not justify the criminal act. Many scientists have argued a genetic basis for a disposition to commit crimes such as burglary, theft and sexual abuse, yet the law rightly condemns and punishes these acts. Some scientists have claimed that it is programmed into men’s genetics to be unfaithful to their partners, yet society does not deem such behaviour morally acceptable. Take for instance the case of Stephen Mobley the affluent American who, at the age of 25, walked into a pizza store and casually shot the manager in the neck after robbing the till. His lawyer pleaded that the murder was not the evil result of free will but the tragic consequence of a genetic predisposition.

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes: Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad’s explanation of al-’Aqeedah al-Ṭaḥāwiyyah, edited by Asim Khan, will soon be published as a hardback book. Islam21c have exclusive rights to share extracts from the book for its readers, and will be posting certain sections of the book on a weekly basis. The book: al-’Aqeedah al-Ṭaḥāwiyyah, is a short text outlining the ‘aqeedah of Ahl al-Sunnah in short statements. Each extract posted is a complete explanation of any one of those statements.

[1]  A detail discussion on the two types of Allāh’s Will can be found in point 13, http://www.islam21c.com/theology/al-tahwiyyah-pt-13-his-mighty-will/

[2] Q. Al-Kahf, 18: 29.

[3] Q. Al-Tawbah, 9: 82.

[4] Q. Al-Sajdah, 32: 17.

[5] Q. Al-An’ām, 6: 102.

[6] Q. Al-Qaṣaṣ, 28: 68.

[7] Q. Al-Baqarah, 2:117.

[8] Q. Al-Israa, 17: 23.

[9] Majmū al-Fatāwā Shaykh al-Islām, 8/100

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About Shaikh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad

Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Sharia Council (UK & Eire). He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom's Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari'ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Sharia Council as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.

3 comments

  1. Salam Syed. What I am uncomfortable with is generalisation and using labels. It is the lazy man’s way of forming an understanding but it is not the correct method. It is as ontologically invalid to group Mu’tazillah and Shia together as much as it is wrong to group Sunnis and Mu’tazillah together and I have witnessed people doing both before. It is non-constructive and leads to misunderstanding. The Mut’azillah do not really exist any more in order for them to defend their position so here they are displayed as a people who took a belief to one extreme while the Jabriyyah took it to the other extreme. What I’m saying is Ahlul-Sunnah who followed the theology and fiqh of the Imams of the 4 schools and the Shia who followed the theology and fiqh of the Jaafari school of thought came to the same result, the middle path.

  2. Syed Nameer Ahmed

    Why does it seem troubling to you that the Shiites and Mutazilites are grouped together in this instance when it is widely known that while Shiite theology was being formed in thee 9th century they basically adopted most of the views of Mutazilism as the basis of their theological formulations.

    The only reason I can think of as to why you find this comparison unsettling is that perhaps you are pursuing some sort of syncretist agenda between Sunni and Shiites?

  3. Shadow Caster

    Salam. You are saying the Mu’tazilites adopted a belief in absolute free-will independent of God (Qadriyyah) and that the Jabriyyah innovated the belief in absolute compulsion from God. Then you say that the Shia and Mu’tazilah share the same Qadrriyyah beliefs? They definitely do not. The Shia put an emphasis on free-will in response to the Jabriyyah. Amusingly, just like you grouped the Shia and Mu’tazilah together and said they share the same beliefs, the Shia group Ahlul-Sunnah and the Jabriyyah together and state they hold the same beliefs. From my reading into this subject from both sects, the mainstream from the Shia and the Sunnis believe in exactly the same thing!

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