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Predestination and free-will from the Quran

Updated: May 30

 

Predestination, also known as divine predestination or predetermination, is the belief that all events and actions are predetermined by God or another higher power. In Islamic belief, this concept is referred to as al-qadar.


The concept of predestination is discussed in several verses of the Quran, including the following:

  • "And no disaster strikes upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before We bring it into being - indeed that, for Allah, is easy." (Quran 57:22)

  • "And every person's fate We have fastened to his neck, and We will produce for him on the Day of Resurrection a record which he will find wide open." (Quran 17:13)

  • "And to Allah belongs the unseen [aspects] of the heavens and the earth. And the matter of the Hour is not but as a twinkling of the eye or even nearer. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent." (Quran 31:34)

 

Let us examine each of the above verses in a little more detail:

  • "And no disaster strikes upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before We bring it into being - indeed that, for Allah, is easy." (Quran 57:22)

This verse suggests that God has predetermined all events and outcomes, including disasters that may occur on the earth or among people. The phrase "before We bring it into being" implies that these events have been recorded or predestined by God before they come to pass.


  • "And every person's fate We have fastened to his neck, and We will produce for him on the Day of Resurrection a record which he will find wide open." (Quran 17:13)

This verse suggests that each person's fate is predetermined by God and will be revealed to them on the Day of Judgment. The phrase "fastened to his neck" may indicate that this fate is inescapable or cannot be changed.


  • "And to Allah belongs the unseen [aspects] of the heavens and the earth. And the matter of the Hour is not but as a twinkling of the eye or even nearer. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent." (Quran 31:34)

This verse suggests that God has control over all aspects of the universe, including those that are unseen or unknown to humans. The phrase "the matter of the Hour" refers to the end of the world or the Day of Judgment, which is described as being imminent or very near. This implies that God has predetermined the timing and events of this final day.

 

However, the concept of free will is also emphasized in the Quran. For example:

  • "And say, "The truth is from your Lord, so whoever wills - let him believe, and whoever wills - let him disbelieve." (Quran 18:29)

  • "And if your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one community; but they will not cease to differ." (Quran 11:118)

  • "And We have certainly presented to the people in this Quran from every [kind of] example. But, [O Muhammad], if you should bring them a sign, the disbelievers will surely say, "You [believers] are but falsifiers." (Quran 17:89)

These verses suggest that although God has predetermined certain events and outcomes, individuals still have the ability to make choices and decisions, and are ultimately responsible for their actions.

 

Let us examine each of the above verses in a little more detail:


  • "And say, "The truth is from your Lord, so whoever wills - let him believe, and whoever wills - let him disbelieve." (Quran 18:29)

This verse suggests that individuals have the ability to make their own choices and decisions, including the choice to believe or disbelieve in God. The use of the phrase "whoever wills" implies that individuals have free will and are not compelled to believe or disbelieve in a particular way.


  • "And if your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one community; but they will not cease to differ." (Quran 11:118)

This verse suggests that God has the power to bring about unity among people, but has chosen not to do so. The phrase "but they will not cease to differ" implies that individuals have the ability to think and act independently, and are not compelled to agree or conform to a particular belief or perspective.


  • "And We have certainly presented to the people in this Quran from every [kind of] example. But, [O Muhammad], if you should bring them a sign, the disbelievers will surely say, "You [believers] are but falsifiers." (Quran 17:89)

This verse suggests that God has provided various examples or signs in the Quran to guide and instruct people, but that individuals still have the ability to choose whether or not to believe in and follow these teachings. The phrase "if you should bring them a sign" suggests that Muhammad (peace be upon him) has the ability to present evidence or arguments, but that individuals have the freedom to accept or reject this evidence.

 

It is important to note that the concept of predestination and free will in Islam is complex and multifaceted, and scholars have offered various interpretations and understandings of these concepts. This is just a brief overview, and further study and contemplation may be necessary to gain a deeper understanding of these concepts in Islam.

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