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  Belief in Destiny  

Many people in this age would pay a lot to know their future. High-flying politicians and wealthy businessmen would give away everything to gain a much bigger fortune, if it is predicted by some soothsayer. Some even have in-house astrologers whom they consult prior to making major decisions.

The daily newspapers and periodicals, too, publish horoscopes for the 'benefit' of readers. Besides gazing at the stars, fortune-tellers also attempt to read one's fate and destiny from tarot cards, crystal balls, and coffee cups, and even consult canaries.

Islam as a complete religion did not ignore issues of fate and destiny. Indeed, the subject is covered under the sixth Article of Faith. Islam teaches that Fate (qadhaa) and destiny (qadr) can be divided into two types: Mubram and Mu'allaq.

Mubram means that everything originates from Almighty Allah and occurs according to his specified fate, which cannot be changed, such as one's ethnic grouping at birth, natural disasters and so forth.

Mu'allaq, on the other hand, means that the human being is given freedom of choice. He has the free will of attempting to improve himself, his family and community; strive to avoid tragedy; and transform himself/herself from being a disobedient person into an obedient one.

This state of man's free will is exemplified in the following verse:

"Indeed, We showed him the way, it is for him whether he is grateful or ungrateful." [Al-Insaan: 3]

Man has been shown the Way by means of Revelations through men of the highest spiritual standing, that is the Prophets. If he is grateful, he will accept Guidance, be one of the Righteous and join the company of the Blessed. If not, he rejects his destiny and gets thrown into the blazing fire of punishment. His choice rests on his will.

In the powerful qadhaa and qadr equilibrium, Almighty Allah knows about everything such as magnitude, quality and nature, before he even creates it. He knows to the minutest detail of its coming into being and passing away, and the place of its occurrence. His Divine Will encompasses all things and events that occur, whether they be good or evil, and indeed He has recorded every event that will occur to His creation.

In a hadeeth (sayings of Prophet Muhammad - pbuh) narrated by Abdullah ibn Amr al-As, he reported that he heard the Prophet say:

"Allah ordained the destiny of the creation fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and the earth." [Muslim]

In another hadeeth narrated by Anas bin Maalik, the Prophet said :

"Allah puts an angel in charge of the uterus and the angel says,
'O Lord, (it is) semen!'
'O Lord, (it is now ) a clot!'
'O Lord, (it is now) a piece of flesh.' And then, if Allah wishes to complete its creation, the angel asks,
'O Lord, (will it be) a male or a female?'
'A wretched (an evil doer) or a blessed (doer of good)?'
'How much will his provisions be?'
'What will his age be?'
So all that is written while the creature is still in the mother's womb." [Bukhari]

Questions are normally raised that if the actions of a person are already decreed or ruled by Allah, why should He punish us for the evil deeds we do in our lives. To understand this one must comprehend the following point. Man is given a free will, according to which he acts in his life. He will be held responsible on the day of judgement for whatever option, whether good or bad, that he adopted. It is a prescribed way of Allah that He makes the path of doing good easier for a person if the person opts for this path. Similarly if the man chooses the path of evil, Allah makes following this path easier for him. A verse from the Holy Qur'an will amply describe this issue.

"So he who gives (in charity) and fears (Allah) and (in all sincerity) testifies to the best, We will indeed make smooth for him the path to bliss. But he who is a greedy miser and thinks himself self-sufficient, and gives the lie to the best, We will indeed make smooth for him the path to misery." [Al-Lail: 5-10]

The option that the person will ultimately choose is known to Allah because He created Man and is fully aware of the nature of each individual.

An example will demonstrate this:

A man lives in the neighbourhood of a naughty and disobedient child. The man warns the boy that if he continues like this, he may end up in the gallows. The boy takes no notice and continues with his bad habits. Years later he becomes and established criminal, and one day he is eventually caught, prosecuted and found guilty, and so condemned to death by hanging. As he is being led to the gallows, will the boy be justified in saying that his neighbour should be held responsible for his crimes because years previously, he had predicted what was now actually happening? Obviously there is no logic in this argument being put forward by this criminal.

This is how a man can speculate with his limited knowledge. What then about Allah Almighty whose knowledge is so vast that nothing can escape Him.

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