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Dear and Beloved Brother in Islam, the all-important question that you have asked have perplexed many amongst mankind and it is of paramount importance to understand and comprehend the reality of the matter of fate or destiny, and the test of the application of the faculty of intelligence and the free will which Allah Subhanah has bestowed on mankind as a test, the outcome or result of which will determine the state of the person in the eternal life of the Hereafter.


Sahih Muslim Hadith 6392 Narrated by Hudhayfah ibn Usayd

The Prophet (saws) said: “When the drop of (semen) remains in the womb for forty (days) or forty nights, the angel comes and says: “My Lord, will he be good or evil?” And both these things would be written. Then the angel says: “My Lord, would he be male or female?” And both these things are written. And his deeds and actions, his death, his livelihood; these are also recorded. Then his document of destiny is rolled and there is no addition to and subtraction from it.


In light of the above authentic narration of the Messenger of Allah (saws) quoted,  four things are predetermined:

  1. Whether the new born will be male or female.
  2. What will be his ‘rizk’ or provision.
  3. What day,  date,  and place he will die.
  4. Whether the person will be an evil or good person.


We would just like to clarify here what is the actual reality of Fate or Destiny.   To get a fuller understanding of Fate, it can be divided into two parts:


Part-1:  One part of Fate is things over which the person has absolutely no control.  For example,  the three points in the above hadith:  Whether one will be born male or female,  what will his provision be,  and what day, date and place he will die.  These are the Decisions and Decrees of Allah Subhanah Alone,  and no matter what a person does, he cannot change his Decreed sex from male to female,  or change his appointment with death,  etc.  On all such Decrees of the Creator where man has absolutely no control, he will neither be questioned regarding these Decrees of Allah, nor will he be held accountable in the least for the fulfillment of any of these Decisions of Allah Subhanah.


Part-2:  The second part of fate is not a Decision or Decree from Allah Subhanah,  but is the Absolute and Perfect Knowledge of the All-Knowing,  All-Wise Lord.   For example,  it is written down before one is born whether he will be a good or evil person: but it is not as if Allah Subhanah (I seek refuge in Allah from saying this) is unjust,  and has already condemned someone to be evil,  so he has to become evil!!!   Because Allah Subhanah is the All Knowing,  He already knows from His Absolute Knowledge and Wisdom,  what the person with the given free will and intelligence will do in the future;  and thus what is written is not a Decision from Allah Subhanah,  but rather a documentation of the Absolute and Perfect Knowledge of Allah Subhanah.


Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 6.473         Narrated by Ali ibn Abi Taalib

While we were in a funeral procession in Baqi Al-Gharqad, the Messenger of Allah (saws) came and sat down, and we sat around him. He had a small stick in his hand and he bent his head and started scraping the ground with it.  He (saws) then said, "There is none among you, and no created soul, but has his place written for him either in Paradise or in the Hell-Fire, and also has his happy or miserable fate (in the Hereafter) written for him."  A man said, "O Messenger of Allah (saws)! Shall we depend upon what is written for us and give up doing (good) deeds? For whoever among us is destined to be fortunate (in the Hereafter), will join the fortunate peoples; and whoever among us is destined to be miserable will do such deeds as are characteristic of the people who are destined to misery."  The Prophet (saws) said, "Those who are destined to be happy (in the Hereafter) will find it easy and pleasant to do the deeds characteristic of those destined to happiness; while those who are to be among the miserable (in the Hereafter), will find it easy to do the deeds characteristic of those destined to misery."  Then he (saws) recited: "As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to Allah and believes in the Best reward from Allah, We will make smooth for him the path of ease.  But he who is a greedy miser and thinks himself self-sufficient, and gives the lie to the best reward from Allah, we will make smooth for him the path for evil." (Quran 92:5-10)


In whatever thing man has absolutely no control or choice to choose, he will not be held accountable for them in the Just and Supreme Court of Allah Subhanah; but in whatever things man has a choice or a free will to choose amongst several options, he will be held accountable for choosing that option.


To understand and comprehend the true concept of Fate and Destiny, one must learn to appreciate the difference between the Lord All-Mighty being All-Knowing and His being the All-Just!  


Fate or Destiny is nothing more than the documentation of the Absolute and Perfect Knowledge of our Lord All-Mighty of the conditions and the choice each in creation will make, which He Commanded to be written and preserved even before the creation of anything in the Heavens and the earth!  Allah Subhanah is not bound by the dimension of time, as His Perfect and Absolute Knowledge comprehends and envelopes everything of the past, the present, and the future!


Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 94 Narrated by Ubadah ibn as-Samit

Allah's Messenger (saws) said: ‘The (absolute) first thing which Allah created was the Pen.  He commanded it to write.  It (the pen) asked: ‘What should I write?’ He said: ‘Write the ‘Al-Qadr’ (Decree, Fate, Destiny).’  So it wrote what had happened and what was going to happen up to eternity!’


Allow us to relate a very simple example to clarify our point:


Just suppose a parent has a small son, and one evening the parent decides to put his son to a test and write down on a piece of paper the options he will give his son the next morning, and from his experience with his son, he determines what options the child will take when they are presented to him. 


Example-1: Parent will give the option to his son to choose to go to school the next morning or skip school; and the parent, with his knowledge and experience, writes down the son would most probably choose the option to skip school!


Example-2: Parent will give the option to his son to choose to memorize the Quran or watch cartoons on TV; and the parent, with his knowledge, determines and writes that the son would most probably choose to watch TV!


Example-3: Parent would give the option to his son to choose to eat a wholesome and healthy diet of whole wheat-grain and vegetables or eat hamburgers and fries;  and the parent, with his knowledge, determines and writes that the son, of his own free will, would most probably choose to eat hamburgers and fries!


Example-4: Parent would give the option to his son to choose to go to the local mosque to offer the dhuhr prayers or spend that time in the video-game arcade; and the parent, with his knowledge, determines and writes that his son, of his own free will, would most probably choose to spend the time in the arcade!


In all the above four examples, the probability is that any normal child, given a free will to choose between the two given options by his parent, would most probably choose the option which the parent had written down before the event took place!  Because the child has been given a free will to choose, he is not bound to follow the option his parent had determined his son will take; but in all probability the child will take the option which his parent has pre-determined because the parent knows the temperament and condition of his child and knows exactly what his child will do in the given circumstances.  The child has absolutely no control over the conditions and options set for him by his parent, nor is he bound to follow what his parent has documented the child would do, if given a free will to choose in the given circumstances.


But if the same parent gives the same options to his child, but promises a huge reward to his child (say, to buy him a brand new bike or the latest computer of his choice!) if he chooses the better of the two options; the smart and intelligent child would sacrifice the short-term gain in choosing what he desires and would opt for the option which would earn him the pleasure of his parents and the fulfillment of their promised rewards! 


Similarly, Allah Subhanah has put mankind to a test by putting him in a set of conditions, and bestowed upon man the faculty of intelligence and a ‘free-will’ for a limited period of one life on this earth, to choose whatever one wishes to do.  If man chooses to sacrifice his desire and of his own free choice, sacrifices his will to the Will of His Lord, he will earn His Pleasure and His Promised Rewards!


Since the Knowledge of the All-Knowing, All-Wise Lord of the Worlds is absolutely Perfect and totally Complete in all respects, He Knows and has documented beforehand what each amongst His creation, if given a free will to choose, would do in a given situation.  Allah Subhanah, in His Perfect and Absolutely Knows beforehand who amongst His slaves will sacrifice their will to earn His Pleasure and His Rewards, and who amongst His slaves will choose to fulfill whatever their hearts desire regardless of the Will and Pleasure of their Creator; and the precise documentation of that Absolute and Perfect Knowledge of the Lord All-Knowing is what is known as Fate or Decree.


Just as in the above related example of the child who is not bound to do what his parent had pre-determined he would choose, but rather the child chose of his own free will to do what he desired to do; man too, has been given a ‘free will’ to choose whatever he wishes to do as a test from His Creator for a test period of one life on this earth! 


The major difference between the knowledge of the parent and the Knowledge of Allah Subhanah is that the Knowledge of our All-Knowing Lord is Absolutely and Totally Perfect.  It is possible that the child would choose something which his parent thought he would not, simply because the knowledge of man is limited; but since the Knowledge of our Lord All-Mighty is Absolutely and Totally Perfect, His Knowledge of what one will do of his own free will, can never ever be wrong or in error.  


Neither the child in the above related examples, nor man in his test of life are bound to do what was pre-determined by the document; but rather, they were allowed to choose whatever they desired to do of their own free will; and therein was their test!  


Dear and Beloved brother in Islam, it is absolutely paramount importance that we understand the true concept of Fate and the bestowed ‘free-will’ to enable each of us to fulfill this test of life.  If our humble and weak efforts have not satisfied your query, we request you in all humility to give us another chance to explain this concept or alternatively you may consult in person a good righteous God-fearing scholar who will be able to address this all-important to your satisfaction. 


There are many amongst mankind who have absolutely misunderstood (or have chosen to misunderstand) this concept of fate and ‘free will’; and live their lives in ignorance and disobedience of the Divine aw in their false hope that they will become righteous if their Lord has Decreed in their Fate to become righteous!  Allah is our witness, their this false hope and belief will bring nothing but misery and perdition upon themselves on that Eventful and Tumultuous Day of Judgment in the Majestic and Supreme Presence of the All-Just Lord of the Worlds!  


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