Muslim ummah is divided into three groups with respect to Allaah’s Pre-Decree – Shaykh Uthaymeen

O Brothers, know that the Muslim ummah is divided into three groups with respect to Allaah’s Pre-Decree:

The First Group:

They went overboard in their affirmation of Allaah’s Pre-Decree, denying that the human being has any ability or choice in the matter. They hold that “A person has no ability or choice – he is controlled and has no free will, just like a tree when it is blown by the wind.” They do not distinguish between a person’s action that occur as a result of his choice and an action of his that occurs without him choosing so. No doubt, these people are astray, because what is known from the Religion by necessity, and from the intellect and customs, is that a human being knows the difference between an action he chooses to do and an action he is forced into doing.

The Second Group:

They went to extremes in their affirmation of a person’s ability and choice, such that they negated Allaah having any part in Willing or Choosing or Creating what action a person does. And they claimed that a person is independently responsible for producing his action. This is such that a group amongst them went too far, saying: “Allaah does not know what actions His servants will do until after it occurs from them.” These people have also gone to extremes and shown great radicalism in affirming a human being’s ability and choice.

The Third Group:

These are the ones who truly believe, and so Allaah has guided them concerning that which is disagreed upon from the truth. They are Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah. They have treaded the moderate path and the middle course, which is based on religious and logical proofs and evidences.

And they say: The actions that Allaah introduces into existence are divided into two types:

First: The actions from Allaah that He causes to occur in His Creation. No one has any choice in regard to these actions, and they are such as when rain descends, when the earth produces vegetation, when life or death occurs, when health or sickness befalls and so on and so forth – from the many things that can be observed occurring within the creation. Without doubt, no one has any part in choosing or willing for these things to transpire, but rather it is only Allaah who wills that to happen.

Second: The actions that the creation, i.e. all of the various types of creatures that possess a willingness, do. These actions occur as a result their choosing and wanting to do them, since Allaah gave them the ability to do that, as He says:

“To whoever amongst you wills to go straight.” [Surah At-Takweer: 28]

And He says:

“Among you is he who desires the worldly life and among you is he who desires the Hereafter.” [Surah Aali ‘Imraan: 152]

And He says:

“So whoever wishes, then let him believe, and whoever wishes then let him disbelieve.” [Surah Al-Kahf: 29]

A human being knows the difference between what occurs from him as a result of his own free will and what occurs from him as a result of being compelled and forced. So for example, when a human being climbs a ladder to get to the roof of a house, he ascends the ladder out of his own free will, and while knowing that he freely chose to do so. But when he trips and falls down from the roof, he knows that he did not choose to do that. So he can tell the difference between these two actions – that he freely chose to do the former, while he was compelled to do the latter. Every human being knows this.

Likewise, when a person is stricken with a sickness in which his urine constantly flows out, this urine comes out from him without his desiring or choosing that. But when he is in a healthy state and free from this sickness, the urine comes out from him when he wills and chooses. So he knows the difference between this and that. No one can deny the difference between the two.

And the same goes with everything else that occurs to a person – he can tell the difference between what occurs due to his free will and what occurs due to his being coerced and forced. As a matter of fact, due to Allaah’s Mercy there are some actions a person may do on his own free will, yet not be held accountable for any of them, as is the case with a person when he sleeps or forgets. In the story of the people of the Cave, Allaah tells us:

“And you would have thought them to be awake whereas they were asleep. And We turned them on their right and on their left sides.” [Surah Al-Kahf: 18]

They were the ones who turned around in their sleep, yet Allaah ascribes the action to Himself. This is because when a person sleeps, he has no choice or free will in his actions, and he will not be held accountable for actions done in this state, so the act is attributed to Allaah. The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever forgets while fasting, and eats or drinks, then he should complete his fast because it was only Allaah who fed him and gave him to drink.” [2] So he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) attributed this act of feeding and quenching thirst to Allaah, because the action occurred from the individual without him being aware of it, so it is as if it happened without him choosing to do it.

All of us know the difference between when a person experiences pain or joy within himself at times without choosing so, and not knowing the reason why and between him experiencing these pains or these joys as a result of an act that he did himself. This matter, all praise be to Allaah is clear and there is no confusion over it.

O brothers: If we were to take the view of the first group (i.e. the Jabariyyah) who went to extremes in affirming the Divine Pre-Decree, the Religion would be invalidated from its very foundation. This is since the belief that a person has no choice or free will in his actions necessitates that he not be praised for a praiseworthy act or that he be blamed for a blameworthy act, since in reality they were not done by his choice or free will. So then this would mean that Allaah, may He be far removed from it, is oppressing those who sin when He punishes and recompenses them for their acts because He has punished them for something they had no free choice or free will in! This no doubt clearly contradicts the Qur’aan. Allaah says:

“And his companion (angel) will say: ‘Here is (his record) ready with me!’ (Allaah will say to the angels): ‘Both of you, throw into the Hellfire every stubborn disbeliever, hinderer of good, transgressor, doubter, he who set up another god with Allaah. So both of you cast him into the Severe Torment.’ His (devil) companion will say: ‘Our Lord! I did not push him to transgress, but rather it was he himself who was in error, far astray. Allaah will say: ‘Do not dispute in front of Me, I had already sent the threat to you in advance. The Word (Ordainment) that comes from Me cannot be changed, and I am not unjust to the slaves.’” [Surah Qaaf: 23-29]

So Allaah clarifies that this punishment is not oppression from Him, but rather that it is complete justice since He had previously given them a warning and clarified to them the various paths and explained the truth and falsehood to them, but they chose for themselves the path of falsehood. So there didn’t remain any proof for them before Allaah.

And if we were to take this false view, it would invalidate Allaah’s statement:

“Messengers, bearing glad tidings and warning in order that mankind would not have any argument (i.e. proof) against Allaah after the (coming of) Messengers.” [Surah An-Nisaa: 165]

Allaah denies that mankind should have any excuses after the sending of Messengers because the proof has been established against them with that. So if the Divine PreDecree was an excuse for them, this excuse would be infinite even after the advent of the messengers since Allaah’s Pre-Decree did not cease and will not cease to exist before and after the sending of messengers. So therefore, this view is invalidated by the religious texts, and it is invalidated by reality, as we have explained in the previous examples.

As for those who hold the second view, then the religious texts and reality also refute them since the texts clearly state that a person’s will is subject to Allaah’s Will:

“To whoever amongst you wills to go straight. However, you cannot will unless Allaah, Lord of the Universe, wills.” [Surah At-Takweer: 28-29]

“And your Lord creates whatever He wills and chooses.” [Surah Al-Qasas: 68]

“And Allaah calls (you) to the Abode of Peace, and guides whomever He wills to the Straight Path.” [Surah Yoonus: 25]

Those who hold this view (i.e. the Qadariyyah) are in reality invalidating one of the aspects of Allaah’s Lordship, and they are also claiming that there can be found in Allaah’s dominion that which Allaah did not will or create, when in fact Allaah wills everything, creates everything and has pre-decreed everything. They also contradict that which is known by necessity, which is that everything that is created belongs to Allaah, their essence as well as their attributes, there being no distinction between the attribute and the essence. Therefore, everything belongs to Allaah so it is not possible for there to be anything in His dominion that He did not desire. So what path should a person take and what is his solution if Allaah has pre-decreed that He go astray and not be guided?

We say: The answer to this is that Allaah only guides those who deserve to be guided, and He leads astray only those who deserve to be led astray. Allaah says: “So when they turned away, Allaah turned their hearts away.” [Surah As-Saff: 5] And He says:

“So because they breached their covenant, We cursed them and made their hearts grow hard. They change the words from their (right) places and have abandoned a good part of the Message that was sent to them.” [Surah AlMaa’idah: 13] So Allaah clarified that what caused the person to go astray was himself. A person, as we have explained previously, doesn’t know what Allaah has pre-decreed for him since he doesn’t know what has been pre-decreed until after it occurs. So he doesn’t know if Allaah has decreed for him to be astray or guided. So if this is the case, how can he take the path of misguidance, then use as an excuse the argument that this is what Allaah willed for him? Wouldn’t it be more befitting for him to tread the path of guidance and then say that Allah has guided me to the Straight Path?

Is it right for him to be a Jabaree, i.e. claim that he is forced, when he is misguided, and a Qadaree, i.e. that Allaah has no part in his deeds, when he obeys?! Never! II does not befit a person to claim that he was forced when he finds himself upon misguidance and sin. So when he goes astray and disobeys Allaah, he says: “This is something that has been written and pre-decreed for me, and I am not able to remove myself from what Allaah has ordained for me.” Yet when he does good deeds and Allaah grants him obedience and guidance, he claims that this came solely from himself, saying: “I attained this by myself.” So he becomes a Qadaree when it comes to guidance and a Jabaree when it comes to disobedience. This is not possible ever. So in reality, a person has ability and will. The door to guidance is not any more hidden than the door to sustenance and the door to seeking knowledge. A person, as is well known to everybody, has pre-decreed for him whatever he has from sustenance. But yet in spite of this, he strives for the means of sustenance in his country and outside of it, on the right and on the left. He doesn’t just sit at home and say: “Provision has been pre-decreed for me and it will come to me.” On the contrary, he strives for the means of sustenance.

Yet sustenance itself goes hand and hand with actions/works, as has been authentically reported on the Prophet, in the narration of Ibn Mas’ood, who said that he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Verily, the creation of each of you is brought together in his mother’s womb for forty days in the form of a seed. Then he becomes a clot of blood for the same amount of time, then a morsel of flesh for the same amount of time. Then an angel is sent to him and commanded with four things: to record his sustenance, his lifespan, his actions, and whether he will be miserable or happy.” [3]

So this sustenance is written just as the good and evil actions are written. So how is it that you can go here and there, traversing land and sea, seeking the sustenance of the world and yet you don’t perform any righteous deed seeking the sustenance of the Hereafter or the success of Paradise? Indeed, these two aspects are one and the same. There is no difference between the two of them. So likewise, you strive for your sustenance and you strive for your livelihood and to prolong your lifespan.

But when you become ill with a sickness, you travel through all the regions of the world looking for a skilled doctor who will cure your sickness. This is even though whatever has been pre-decreed for you as your lifespan will come to be and it will not increase or decrease. Yet you do not rely on this and say: “I will remain sick and bedridden at home, and if Allaah has decreed that my lifespan will be prolonged, then it will be prolonged.” Rather, we will find you striving with all of your might and energy to find a doctor whom you regard will be the best one at whose hands Allaah will ordain your recovery. So why don’t you do acts for the Hereafter and righteous deeds the same way you do acts for this worldly life?

We stated previously that: The Divine Pre-Ordainment is a hidden secret, you have no way of finding out about it. So right now, you are between two paths – a path that will take you to salvation and success, and a path that will take you to destruction and regret. So right now, you are standing between these two paths with a free choice. There is no one in front of you preventing you from taking the right path or the left path. If you wish, you can go here, and if you wish, you can go there. So how can you take the left path and say: “This has been pre-decreed for me!” Isn’t it more befitting for you to take the right path and say: “This has been pre-decreed for me?!”

And if you want to go on a journey to some other country and before you lies two roads, one of which is paved, short and safe, while the other is unpaved, long and dangerous, we would find you choosing the short, paved and safe road and not the other one. So this figurative road is similar to it and doesn’t differ from it at all. However, it is the souls and desires that sometimes govern and take over the mind. The believer must take over and control his desires. And when his mind judges, the mind, according to its correct meaning, should prevent a person from what harms it and lead it to what benefits and pleases it.

With this it becomes clear that people have a free choice when it comes to their actions, and that they are not coerced. And just as he has a free choice in the acts of his worldly affairs, if he wills he will put out this product or make that his business, then likewise he has a free choice with regard to the affairs of the Hereafter. In fact, the paths of the Hereafter are clearer by far than the paths of this worldly life, because the One who clarifies the paths of the Hereafter is Allaah, in His Book and upon the tongue of His Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). So the paths of the Hereafter are clearer and more lucid than the paths of the worldly life. But in spite of this, people still tread the paths of the worldly life, which have no guaranteed results and abandon the paths of the Hereafter, whose results are guaranteed and known since they are affirmed by Allaah’s promise, and Allaah does not break His promises.

Having said this, we say that Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah affirm all of this and make it their Creed and Belief that: A person acts on his own free will and says what he wants. However, his desire and choosing are subject to Allaah’s Will and Desire. Furthermore, Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah believe that Allaah’s Will is subject to His Wisdom, and that it is not a pure and absolute Will, but rather a will that is dependent on His Wisdom. This is because one of Allaah’s Names is Al-Hakeem (The MostWise), and the Most-Wise is the One who judges matters precisely realistically and religiously.

And based on His Wisdom, He decrees guidance for the one who desires it and for the one whom He knows wants the truth and whose heart is upon steadfastness. And He decrees misguidance for the one who is not like this – the one who when Islaam is presented to him, his heart becomes constricted as if he were being forced to ascend to the sky. So Allaah’s Wisdom refuses to let this person be from among the guided, unless Allaah renews his determination for him and changes his desire to another desire. And Allaah is Able to do all things. However, Allaah’s Wisdom insists that the causes be closely linked to the effects.

[2] Saheeh Muslim: Book of Fasting (1155)
[3] Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: Book of the Beginning of Creation (3208) and Saheeh Muslim: Book of Divine Pre-Decree (2643)

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The Divine Pre-Decree and Ordainment of Allaah (Al-Qadaa wal-Qadar) – Shaykh Uthaymeen

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