Divine Destiny and Decree

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Divine Decree & Destiny

Divine decree, the belief that everything good or seemingly bad, comes from God Almighty is the sixth article of faith (iman) in the Islamic faith. Divine decree is defined as divine measure, determination, and judgment in the creation of things. Islamic scholars define destiny (qadr) as something that is preordained or predetermined. In other words, destiny means to predetermine or preordain, while decree means to implement or put into effect in perfection, without error. Belief in destiny is the belief that everything in existence, from the smallest particle to the universe as a whole is known by God-Almighty. While His knowledge includes all space and time, He Himself is unequivocally free from both. (1)

God-Almighty is Wise and Loving and is not indifferent to the world and the people in it. This is important to remember because one should never “give up” or think, “what’s the point, why should I even try?” when discussing divine decree and destiny. God-Almighty will hold us accountable for what we can do, but He is Just and Compassionate and will judge us only according to our capabilities. The Holy Qur’an tells us:

(O believers, if you are worried that God will take every soul to account even for what the soul keeps within it of intentions and plans, know that) God burdens no soul except within its capacity: in its favor is whatever (good) it earns, and against it whatever (evil) it merits. (So, pray thus to your Lord:) “Our Lord, take us not to task if we forget or make mistakes. Our Lord, lay not on us a burden such as You laid on those gone before us. Our Lord, impose not on us what we do not have the power to bear. And overlook our faults, and forgive us, and have mercy upon us. You are our Guardian and Owner (to Whom We entrust our affairs and on Whom we rely) so help us and grant us victory against the disbelieving people!” (2:186) (2)

What is the Difference Divine Decree & Destiny?

“With Him are the keys of the Unseen. None but He knows them. He knows what is in the land and the sea. Not a leaf falls but He knows it, not a grain amid the darkness of the soil, naught of wet or dry but it is in a Manifest Book” (6:59). (2)

The overall relationship between divine decree and destiny is best expressed in the following verse from the Holy Qur’an “There is not a thing but with us are the stores (for its life and sustenance) are with Us. We do not sent it down except in due, determined measure” (15:21). God-Almighty knows things, things exist in His Knowledge, His Will determines all of their specific and general characteristics, and His Power gives them material existence.

“The sun and the moon are made punctual according to a calculation. The stars and the trees adore, in subservience to Him. And the sky He has uplifted; and He has set the balance that you exceed not the balance, but observe strictly, nor falls short thereof (55:5-9). (2)

 

In other words, God-Almighty did not create universe and then leave it on its own. The order in which everything works, in perfect harmony, each containing its own characteristics and capabilities is the divine decree of God-Almighty. Distinctly, the presence of divine decree does not invalidate the free will humans were given.

Why Does Free Will Exist?

There are several reasons for the existence of free will. We choose to move our hands, speak, or stand up to go somewhere. We decide to read a book, watch television, or pray to God-Almighty. We are not forced to do anything, nor are we somehow remotely controlled by an invisible power. Consider the feeling of remorse. When we do something we know to be wrong, we feel remorse, even as children. This feeling leads us to repent and correct our behaviors, or we choose not to repent and continue on the path of lesser good. Divine decree or divine determination dominates the universe, but it does not negate the free will of the person. We do not do something because God-Almighty recorded it. He knew beforehand what we would do and recorded it.

Does God-Almighty Will Evil?

Shortly, no, the Holy Qur’an is clear on this subject.

“O human being! Whatever good happens to you, it is from God; and whatever evil befalls you, it is from yourself. We have sent you (O Messenger) to humankind as a Messenger, and God suffices for a witness.” (4:79)(2)

God-Almighty allows grief and adversity to materialize in the life of a person for two reasons:

  1. To forgive their sins
  2. Promote that person to higher ranks

God-Almighty also overlooks many of the sins of a person without punishing them.

Six Points to Take Away

  1. In his book, Essentials of the Islamic Faith, Fethullah Gulen states the following:

“Since God-Almighty is beyond time and space and everything is included in His Knowledge, He encompasses the past, present, and future as one undivided, united point. For example, if you are in a room, your view is restricted to the room. If you look higher and higher, your vision continues to broaden. The Earth, when seen from the moon, appears to be a small blue marble. It is the same with time” (3)

God-Almighty, unbound by time and space, recorded everything that will happen until the Day of Judgment and appointed the angels to use this record to prepare a smaller record for each individual.

  1. There are not two destinies: one for the cause and one for the effect. Destiny is one, relating to both cause and effect at the same time. Our free will, which causes our acts, is included in destiny.
  1. God-Almighty always guides us to good, and advises us to use our will power for good.
  1. We should use our free will to benefit ourselves by praying to God-Almighty. When not used properly, our free will can destroy us.
  1. We should always seek forgiveness from God-Almighty. Steadfast prayer and trust in God-Almighty will strengthen our inclination toward good and our repentance will weaken our inclination toward evil.
  1. Finally, It is important to remember that any points made here, must be taken into light that we are only able to approach this topic via the lens of this temporary world, limited by time and space.

Nursi, Bediuzzaman Said. The Rays: From the Risale-i Nur Collection. Light, 2006. Print.

Unal, Ali. “The Miraculous Quran.” The Miraculous Quran.

Gulen, Fethullah. Essentials of the Islamic Faith. Somerset, NJ: Light, 2005. Print