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al-Tahwiyyah: Pt 13- His Mighty Will

The Prophet SAW would teach his Companions the pure belief of Divine Decree (qadar). One day, the great Companion Ibn ‘Abbās, who was still a young boy at the time, was sat behind the Prophet SAW on a mount when the Prophet said to him: ‘O boy, I shall teach you some words. Be mindful of Allah and He will take care of you. Be mindful of Allah and He will protect you. If you ask then ask of Allah, and if you seek help then seek help from Allah. Know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you in some way, they would not benefit you except in something that Allah has decreed for you, and if they were to gather together to harm you in some way, they would not harm you except in something that Allah has decreed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.’

وَلا يَكُونُ إِلا مَا يُرِيدُ

Nothing Comes Into Being or Occurs Except What He Wills

The author gives another description of Allāh, this time relating to His Divine Decree (qadar): ‘Nothing comes into being except what He wills’. Of the verses of Qur’ān that allude to this belief is His saying: ‘But you will not will unless Allāh wills. Allāh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.’[1] Also His saying: ‘But you will not will unless Allāh wills, the Lord of all the Worlds.’[2]; meaning that whatsoever Allāh wills will come to be, and whatsoever He does not will not come to be.

Everything in this universe belongs to Him and is part of His kingdom and domain. His complete and absolute ownership of all necessitates that nothing be out of His control, and hence, nothing comes into existence or even occurs except by His Decree or Permission. He creates all, and every single incident and occurrence is under His control. This concept is known in Arabic as qadar, and if often translated as Divine Decree. Believing in Divine Decree is one of the pillars of faith (īmān). This was clearly stated in the famous Prophetic Narration related by Umar b. al-Khattāb wherein the Prophet said about faith (īmān): ‘It is that you believe in Allah and His Angels, His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and in Divine Decree (qadar), both in its good and in its evil aspects’,[3] therefore, to reject the notion of Allah’s Divine Decree (qadar) is tantamount to apostasy.

The Prophet SAW would teach his Companions the pure belief of Divine Decree (qadar). One day, the great Companion Ibn ‘Abbās, who was still a young boy at the time, was sat behind the Prophet SAW on a mount when the Prophet said to him: ‘O boy, I shall teach you some words. Be mindful of Allah and He will take care of you. Be mindful of Allah and He will protect you. If you ask then ask of Allah, and if you seek help then seek help from Allah. Know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you in some way, they would not benefit you except in something that Allah has decreed for you, and if they were to gather together to harm you in some way, they would not harm you except in something that Allah has decreed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.’[4]

The belief in Divine Decree (qadar) provides human beings with one of the most powerful tools that enable them to face the difficulties and calamities of this life with strength and perseverance. In fact, it is impossible for a human being to attain inner peace and contentment without embracing this aspect of belief in Allah. When one is aware that all occurrences bitter and sweet, are part of a divine plan and will, tranquillity enters the soul and helps foster a balanced life. Notwithstanding the fact that all occurrences in this universe are subject to the Decree of Allah, Allah has also granted human beings a level of free will, and thus they conduct themselves based on their own God-given will. They are free to choose most of their affairs as they please, yet it is Allah who created them, their intellect, their will, as well as their ability to exercise it and act upon it. It is with this perspective that the verses: ‘But you will not will unless Allāh wills. Allāh is All-Knowing, All-Wise’ and His saying: ‘But you will not will unless Allāh wills, the Lord of all the Worlds’, should be read. As it is Allah who first created the actions of human beings, yet they are the ones who decide to carry them out and are liable for the consequences thereof.

Despite the clarity of the relationship between the will of people and the Will of Allah, the belief in Divine Decree (qadar) became distorted in the minds of some Muslims as early on as the second Islamic century. Two extreme understandings emerged with one overstating the role of Divine Decree (qadar), marginalising the free will of human beings, whilst the others claimed that human capacity (qudra) would reign supreme even if Allah had willed otherwise. The distortion of both groups in based on a fragmented reading of the Sacred Texts wherein one group focuses on verses that affirm the Supreme Will of Allah whilst overlooking verses that affirm human capacity and free will, whilst the other group focuses solely on verses pertaining to free will.

Verses that affirm the notion of human capacity (qudra) and free will are found throughout the Quran, such as His saying: ‘And say, The truth is from your Lord, so whoever wills – let him believe; and whoever wills – let him disbelieve.’

[5], His saying: ‘So let them laugh a little and [then] weep much as recompense for what they used to earn’[6], which confirms that human beings will be rewarded for whatever they earned. This is similar to His saying: ‘And no soul knows what has been hidden for them of comfort for eyes as reward for what they used to do’[7]. If someone were to read only these verses they may arrive at the incorrect conclusion that Allah’s Will has no impact on human conduct and that human beings are themselves in complete control of their actions, bringing them into existence independently of the Creator.

The reality is that such verses must be read alongside those verses that affirm the Will of Allah, such as His saying: ‘And your Lord creates what He wills and chooses; not for them was the choice. Exalted is Allah and high above what they associate with Him’[8], His saying: ‘Thus does Allah leave astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And none knows the soldiers of your Lord except Him’<[9], and His saying: ‘That is Allah, your Lord; there is no deity except Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He is Disposer of all things’.[10]

A pure understanding of Divine Decree can only be gauged through a holistic reading of the Sacred Texts. The aforementioned Quranic verses indicate that part of one’s belief in Divine Decree (qadar) is that Allāh has a Will (irāda) and that there are two senses to the word ‘will’ of Allāh. The first sense is the ontological will, by which the universe operates in the way it does according to His universal laws. It is this first type of will that the author refers to when he says: ‘Nothing comes into being except what He wills’.The second sense is the legislative sense, in that He wills and loves guidance for His creation and legislates that for them in the form of religion, but Allah has left that matter up to them to submit to His will or not. The fundamental difference here is that the first ontological or universal type of will is always made to occur and exist, whereas the second type may or may not occur. The second main difference is that the legislative will always refers to matters that Allāh condones and loves, in and of themselves; He loves that human beings submit to His commands and worship Him, however not all of mankind comply with this will of His. All of this however, is part and parcel of the Divine Decree (qadar) of Allāh as the above premise states. Hence, we say that Abu Jahl and Abu Lahb were two who disbelieved in Allāh and they were disbelievers by the Will of Allāh- as per His ontological will, but at the same time He willed that they believe and submit to Him according to His legislative will. Therefore, to say that Allāh willed that Abu Jahl was to be a disbeliever is not problematic as it refers to the first sense of the will of Allāh; He did not want nor force him to be a disbeliever but decreed that those who disbelieve in Him are kuffar and will be punished. The alternative would be to say that either Allāh forced him to be a disbeliever or that He was unable to prevent him from disbelieving. The falsity of such alternatives is clear. That is why all of Ahl al-Sunnah affirms that the will of Allāh is of two types: the ontological will, al-Irādah al-Kawniyya, and the legislative will, al-Irādah al-Shar’iyyah.

[11]Those that fail to make such a distinction fell into error in understanding how acts of disobedience, misguidance, and disbelief, are part of the Divine Decree (qadar).

By stating that: ‘Nothing comes into being except what He wills’ the author was refuting the heretical belief of the Qadariyyah, those who affirm human capacity (qudra) over and above the ability (qudra) of Allāh.

The Qadariyyah saw Allāh’s will in only one way. For them, Allāh only has the legislative type of will; He wants that His creation believe in Him, obey Him, and reject evil; but, if the creation wills otherwise, they can oppose His will and assert their own will over His.

Wisdom Behind His Qadar

Though Allāh does not love all that He decrees, in the first ontological sense, there is great wisdom behind evil being present within His creation. It is by the presence of Shaytān that mankind are tested and earn their rank as true believers before Allāh. Without the presence of evil there would be no means to distinguish faith from hypocrisy, truth from falsehood, and believers from disbelievers.

Wisdom is an intrinsic part for Allāh’s will in both senses. There is wisdom behind His religious will and there are wisdoms behind His ontological will. Everything He decrees is based on knowledge and wisdom; as He said: ‘And you do not will except that Allāh wills. Indeed, Allāh is ever Knowing and Wise’[12]; indicating that His Will is inherently full of wisdom and goodness.

Points of Benefit

1) Another term used to describe Allāh’s will is mashī’ah, were mashī’ah refers mainly to the ontological type of Allāh’s will.

2) Allāh’s Will and His Acts necessitate each other. What He wills He does, and what He does occurs because He has willed it. This distinguishes His Will from that of humans who often will what they are not able to do and sometimes do what they did not really intend. Therefore there is none other than Allāh who is truly able to do whatever he wills.

3) The question- how is it that Allāh wills something yet He dislikes it, can be answered in the following way: We all know that there are many medicines prescribed that are disliked for their smell and taste, yet when it is known that there is a cure in them, we take them and appreciate the overweighing benefit in their use. Similarly, if a patient is told that a limb is to be surgically amputated there is of course immediate objection; however, once they come to know that it is necessary in order to save their life, the person begins to understand and accept the idea. Therefore, it is not contradictory to like and dislike one thing; the two are to be seen from different perspectives, based on knowledge and insight. Now, if it is true of created beings, how much more so is Allāh, the Creator of all and from whom there is nothing hidden, entitled of such praise. He possesses infinite knowledge and infinite wisdom and therefore knows the ultimate good and evil in everything. He may hate a matter in and of itself yet, on the other hand, He wills it because of its ability to bring about a greater good, or because it is a means that leads to something He loves. This is why in reality there is nothing which is intrinsically evil.

4) In all of His Acts, Allāh has Perfect Wisdom. We may recognise part of His Wisdom, or the general aspects of it, but not its complete details as that is inconceivable to the limited mind of a human being.

Notes: Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad’s explanation of al-Aqeedah al-Tahawiyyah 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-Tahawiyyah, 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. Edited by Asim Khan

Source: www.islam21c.com

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[1]Q. Al-Insān, 76: 30
[2]Q. Al-Takwīr, 81: 29
[3]H. Muslim
[4]H. Al-Tirmidhi
[5]Q. Al-Kahf,18:29
[6]Q. Al-Tawba,9:82
[7]Q. Al-Sajdah,32:17
[8]Q. Al-Qasas,28:68
[9]Q. Al-Muddathir,74:31
[10]Q. Al-An’ām,6:102

Verses relating to the ontological will of Allāh:
‘For, if God had seen any good in them, He would certainly have made them hear: but [as it is,] even if He had made them hear, they would surely have turned away in their obstinacy’, meaning that Allāh knows what did not occur, what will not occur, and if He were to will it, how exactly it would occur.

‘So whoever Allāh wants to guide – He expands his breast to [contain] Islam’, meaning that if Allāh wills to make something occur, it will surely come to pass and be.

Verses relating to the legislative will of Allāh:
‘God does not will any wrong for His creatures’ meaning that Allāh does not want or desire to do injustice to His creation.
‘God wills that you shall have ease, and does not will you to suffer hardship’ meaning that what Allāh loves is to make matters easy for you by granting you concessions within His religious commands. Concessions such as allowing the sick to postpone the fast of Ramadān until they regain their health.

[12]Q. Al-Insān,76:30

About Shaikh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad

Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Council of Europe. 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 Council of Europe 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.

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