“What God grants to people out of His mercy, no one can withhold, and what He withholds no one can grant apart from Him. And He is the Powerful the Wise.” (35:2)
“No misfortune can befall on earth or in yourselves but is recorded in a Book (of God’s decrees) before God brings it into existence.” (57:22)
The final article of faith in Islam is belief in God’s decree. This is known in Arabic as qada wa qadar, meaning the “measure” of what is ordained by God and His “plan.”
Since the entire scheme and plan of creation is under the direction and control of the Almighty Creator and Sustainer, everything that is or that happens in the universe, from the smallest to the greatest events, is governed by God’s will, an integral part of His eternal plan. Nothing can take place without His ordaining it, nor is there such a thing as a random, chance event.
Perhaps the meaning of this can best be illustrated by an example. To many people the miraculous events which are reported in the Quran or the Bible, or the possibility of revelation from God to mankind may seem unimaginable, mere superstition or fables because, according to their understanding of Reality, “God does not intervene in human affairs;” the same sort of argument is often used – and has been since the beginning of time to justify the human being’s disbelief in the guidance brought by the prophets the afterlife, and so on. The Muslim, on the other hand, possesses the clear certainty that God is absolutely real and that He is continuously active in all of His creation including the world of people.
All that exists or takes place, therefore, is the expression of His will, from the behavior of each atom of matter to the large-scale occurrences of human history to events of cosmic proportions. And since all of it is His, determined by His permission and decree, nothing that happens can ever be understood as “intervention” or “supernatural,” or as a random, chance event devoid of meaning and purpose, whether it happens in the world of nature or in the world of human beings. In human life, ease and suffering alike, and the events which produce them, equally have a purpose and meaning, and are equally a part of God’s infinitely wise plan for His creation.
Such a belief gives the Muslim a tremendous degree of inner certainty, confidence and peace of heart especially in the face of afflictions, for he knows that since everything is under the control of the All-Wise, Most-Merciful God, the circumstances of his life are likewise under His control and direction, and hence are not without a reason and a purpose. Moreover, he lives with the assurance that whatever is to come to any individual, including death, cannot fail to come at its appointed time nor is it to be withheld by any means, while conversely, nothing which God has not decreed for him can be brought about by any means whatsoever.
This inner certainty frees the Muslim from fear of anyone or anything other than Gods for he knows that no one has the slightest power either to injure or to benefit him without His leave. If God decrees some good for him, no one can keep it away, and at the same time. if He decrees some harm for one, no one has the power to avert it except Him. The Quran expresses this very succinctly:
“Say: ‘Who guards you in the night or in the day from the Merciful?’… Or do they have gods who can shield them from Us? They cannot help themselves nor can they be defended from Us.” (21:42-43)
And the Prophet (peace by on him) said:
“When you ask anything ask it from God, and if you seek help seek help in God. Know that if the people were to unite to do you some benefit they could benefit you only with what God had recorded for you, and that if they were to unite to do you some injury they could injure you only what God had recorded for you.” (hadith)
For God alone is the source of benefit or harm, and turning to anyone or anything other than Him for protection and help when everything “other” is itself dependent on His will is not only utterly futile but wrongfully attributes to others powers which God alone possesses, thereby distorting the accurate perception of Reality. In any situation, Islam teaches the task of a human being is to make a sincere effort, to strive, to do his bestnot, as is so often incorrectly stated, simply to sit back and let things take their course in blind resignation to some supposed “fate” or “destiny”; for a human being does not know and cannot know wherein his destiny lies, and until he has exhausted all possible means and what is inevitable occurs, he cannot be said to have encountered that destiny. But then whatever God decides, whatever comes to one after all his efforts have been made, should be received with patient and trusting acceptance of what He in His infinite wisdom has seen fit to send, and with the expectation that it may prove to be a source of good and of ultimate blessing in the broader perspective of the life-to-come.
Belief in the divine decree is thus a statement of belief in the meaningfulness and purposefulness of all that is, an essential part of the Muslim’s sense of total trust, dependence and submission in relation to his Creator. On these basic beliefs, then, the Islamic faith rests: the Oneness of God (Allah); the scriptures revealed by Him for the guidance of mankind; God’s messengers, the prophets; the angels, His emissaries and agents; the hereafter: the day of judgment, the resurrection and the states of heaven and hell; and God’s all-wise, all-powerful decree.
“The Prophet believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord and so do the believers. They all believe in God, His angels, His scriptures and His messengers, making no distinction among His prophets. And they say, ‘We hear and we obey. Grant us Your forgiveness, our Lord, and unto You is the (ultimate and final) journeying.'” (2:285)
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