Channel: Jamal Badawi
Series: Jamal Badawi - Muslim Beliefs
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In the Name of Allah, the benevolent the Merciful, the creator and Sustainer of the universe. I greet you with the greetings of all the profits from Abraham the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Assalamu Aleikum, which means peace be unto you. I'm your host Humbert Rashid and today's program, we begin the 13th program in our fourth series dealing with Muslim beliefs. Today's topic will deal with the question of freewill and predestination. Joining me on the program is Dr. Jamal Badawi of St. Mary's University. Welcome to Islam and focus, brother Jamal.
Can we start off today's program by perhaps you giving us a brief summary of the nature of the arguments related to this question of freewill and predestination?
Okay, from time immemorial, human beings have always faced a very difficult question, the dilemma Really?
Are we as human beings, free agents? Do we have freewill? Do we really control our destiny to have a choice to select our destiny?
Or are we simply following some predestined path that has been already decreed or predicted before we are even born?
The dilemma here is, in fact,
the result of a question
that if we are truly free agents, and we determine our own destiny, where does God fit? If we believe in God, as any believer would, as the sole and ultimate power
in this universe? If we believe in God as one who possesses perfect knowledge of the past, present, and future, then where he does he? Where does he fit if we claim that we have we control our destiny 100%, that nobody has control of our destiny? There seem to be some contradiction there.
But again, you run into a dilemma. When you take the other assumption.
If we say that we are predestined, that everything we do in this life, is something that we are pushed into, because God decreed that we should do that, because he has the knowledge in the world,
then why isn't white? Why is it then that we are held responsible before God in the day of judgment? See, the main point here is that any believers accepts the notion that the thing that takes place, the take place in this universe do not take place just
as a coincidence, that there's definitely a certain plan, there's certain wisdom that God has
behind the various happenings. But this is the kind of dilemma Why are we to be held accountable? And if not, where does God's? will power knowledge fit into the whole picture? Well, how have the the various philosophers and theologians attempt to answer these these questions? That's one? That's a big question. In fact, you know, the books of philosophy would be full of all decades, I do not purport to go into this confusing details, I think,
at the expense of oversimplification. Let me put it in a way that I hope everybody will be able to follow without too much difficulty.
But basically, they seem to have been to exchange and answering that question.
There are those who held the view that we as human beings are totally free agents.
And that if God has any knowledge of our deeds, it is something that comes after the fact. In other words, we make our choice, we determine exactly what we want to do. And even those people who believe in God among this school, they say, okay, God knows everything but he knows after we do it, but it is we who control our destiny, some go to one extreme even to say that there's nothing even like God or anything. we control our destiny. It's up to us to do or not to do certain things.
This this is one extreme.
On the other hand, you get another
exchange which I call fatalism which has nothing to do with Islam, as some people perhaps mistakenly think.
And that is to adopt exactly the opposite assumption,
to say that if we truly believe in God, if we believe in his absolute will, and perfect knowledge, then we must accept the fact that nothing happens in this universe against his will. Because it is supreme. Power is the Sovereign of the universe. And as such, they say that, whatever we do, whatever happens to us, whatever behavior even we choose to do, is something that we are predestined to do. It's pretty great. And that applies, by the way, not only to believers, even non believers used to hold this kind of fatalistic approach. For example, a person who does not believe in God at all He says, All right, the time
pre determined what I'm going to do, luck,
Destiny, without even believing God, even polytheists, who believed in several gods, they had also the belief that when certain Gods
determine the destiny in this area of life or that area of life, believers in one God like monotheistic faiths, so called,
who adopted also this particular explanation, they also said alright, it is God, or the one and only gods were determined what we are going to do, but basically, they meet all in one particular point. That is the fatalistic approach, there is no sense of trying. In other words, everything is predestined. We are simply doing what we are supposed to do. So the the issue of choice, comparison is not really that significant in this kind of
approach. Well, let's then move on. And I'd like to ask you about the position of Islam on this issue. Many people
have said that Muslims believe in predestination
To start with,
what is the actual term that is used in the Quran to refer to this issue? And what does it mean?
What I'm glad that you bring it thinks through original because there's a great deal of confusion when people depend on English translations, about various concepts and principles of Islam. And many times the errors even is committed by Muslims themselves, who are not totally aware of the full implication of some of the English terms, at least the connotative meaning that goes with the term.
Most often people talk about this as a Muslim belief and put it in the term predestination. predestination. Well, while technically this may be correct, in one sense, but when you talk predestination, most people get the distinct impression of fatalism. Indeed, some writers about Islam, especially among non Muslims, fall into the errors of interpreting this belief as fatalistic fatalism.
As such, it's very useful to go back to the original term that appears in the Quran itself, about that subject, find out what where the word came from, and what exactly does it mean the Islamic term for this subject free will is other
other like k, d or other
and when you go to the
strict meaning of the word, other means measure. That is something in Jew measure, or do proportion it also means judgment.
Let's take the word measure.
If you go back to the
some of the verses that appear in the Quran, using that term, you find that it has no connotation as some people think with fatalism. Example, one verse in the Quran, it says, in kulesza, in Hakuna Matata, God says, everything that's everything in this universe. Have we created in June measures, exact measures.
Okay. In another verse in the Quran, it talks about God's creation, and it says wahala kakula. Say In fact,
that is God created everything in proportion.
There are plenty of other quotations in the Quran that again follows the same kind of line for example, when it says
while Camarata data humanism that God has ordained or determined
The cycle of the moon adara, the same word exactly the same derivative from the same root is used, which means God appointed certain laws or cycles for, for the moon, when you put this together,
it gives a clear understanding then that what the Quran means by other is not really predestination, as some people may think, but rather, that God created this universe in accordance with certain laws.
We may not understand fully all of those laws, but there are certain do proportion as diversity, or do you measure in the creation of God that you measure could apply to physical existence, like you know, the laws that controls the rotation of the Earth, around its axis around the Sun around the moon,
the distance, the number of days that it takes to make these various revolutions. This is a new measure, this is further awesome. But as God created the universe also in accordance with this laws, there are also certain laws in society in behavior, which follows certain rules or certain colors that God has created. No wonder then we find the Quran says that we'll attach it to the Sunnah Tina, the healer. That is the laws of God, tsunamis, the laws or the pattern that God created. Nobody can change, it is not changeable. The Super broad laws that control the universe, as well as social structure is something that God has created already, nobody can change it at, at will. So if you're
asking me as to what English term could best reflect this article of faith, and Islam, I find myself hesitant. Some people, for example, use the term destiny instead of predestination. Like a Muslim scholar by the name of course,
there are some who use the term as Divine Decree that God has certain Divine Decree, before even the creation of the earth, I still feel not fully comfortable with either translations, whether you talk about predestination, Destiny, or
define the cream, I would rather prefer to use the original term and Arabic powder. And for the purpose of communication, are you take measures? Do you measure or do proportion?
I will listen in knowing how you would respond to the people who would suggest that
if our destinies are known to God,
are we punished for our deviations? Why does he punish us for a deviation? I'm sure some people must be would raise that question when we talk about this predictor. So in other words, why are we held accountable? I've got controls everything right? But how would you respond to somebody who would make that statement? Okay. On one hand, it is erroneous to say that anything in this universe happens against the will of God, or as he would not be God is omnipresence, omnipotence would be really negated by this. But on the other hand, it is also erroneous to say that any evil deed that we do with limit on God and say that his will, I think the confusion can be cleared. By making a
distinction between two
separate aspects in our lives. There are certain aspects of our life for which
we have some control, we have some free when there are other aspects of our lives where we don't have any control. And maybe that removes the confusion. You see the mere question when people say, are we free agents? Or are we predestined? The very fact that the question arises, is a result from the fact that in our observation of what happens, we feel that some aspects we don't have freewill, some aspects of our life, we do have a choice or as the question would have not risen to start with.
So that distinction then can be made in this way.
There are aspects of our in our lives, where we don't have any control example.
You don't control.
When you're going to be born.
You don't control what color complexion of your skin will be.
You don't control what your features will look like.
You don't control how your heart is going to beat.
Alright. We don't have any control on these things. But are we held responsible for that? The answer is no.
Got out of His justice does not hold us responsible, it doesn't come to us in the Day of Judgment, why you were born short of tall or
where you were born in this day, your why your features look like this so that we're not responsible for that. So what's the protest? Actually, it's out of the mercy of God, that we didn't have much control over this thing. Because, in one sense,
if we don't control if we do control, for example, the operation of our hearts and livers and in our digestive system, then what happens to us when we are asleep? How can we keep our heart pumping the blood in our bodies. So it's out of the mercy of God that he relieves us from having control over this basic natural functions.
We're not responsible for that. But on the other hand, this does not negate that there are elements in our lives, where we do have control, where we can have a free choice.
Nobody can convince me by any argument, that I don't have a free choice between checking a gun and going and murdering somebody. And between taking a breath and food to somebody who's hungry, I could do good and evil, I do have
freedom of choice. I do have the freedom as a human being to believe in God, or to say, there's nothing like this, it's up to me.
As human beings, we do have the freewill to accept to follow the path of God, his moral laws, the kind of duties and responsibilities he's assigned to us. Or we can say, I don't care, I think only what I liked what I think
only in this second aspects or second spheres
where we have some control or be held accountable. So this distinction, I hope would make it logical and easier to distinguish between the areas of
no control and the areas where we have control. And as such, we are held accountable. Just to this point, or this question a little bit further, some people might still argue that the the Quran itself as they said, it is it's God who guides us. So they'll say if God didn't guide me to be good, why then does he punish me if I'm bad? Okay, I think the question is, is quite common and interesting. But you know, the same people who ask and say, Why?
If God didn't guide me, Why does He punished me? If they are, they happen to be good people and are rewarded in the day of judgment? They don't ask the opposite question.
They don't say for example, why does God rewarded me?
Or put me into paradise? If he knew that I'm going to do that? If that's the reflection of human bias, you know, you want to have your cake and eat it. But okay, let me approach this, again, in terms of explaining what guidance means. Just like we were explaining also two spheres of life, and how they relate. When you talk about guidance, also, it could have two meanings. And I'll give you the evidence also on that, from the Quran itself.
One meaning of guidance is to point out the path to show the path.
The other meaning of guidance is to help someone who has already chosen that path to take him or her, let's say, by the hand, literally, to help you more, once you have made up your mind. Let me give you a very simple example. And I don't mean to make that similar to it, because you shouldn't make similar with God. But just give us in a very approximate sense. What that really means. Suppose you get lost somewhere on the highway, you're looking for a particular destination to go to.
You go to a policeman standing there and say, sir, can you tell me how can I get to x town?
And he says, you, okay? You drive three blocks down the road. There is a stoplight, you turn right. And then you turn left again, at the first stoplight, you go for four blocks and you know you hit highway number x street until you see the sign of that city or town.
Okay, he provided the guidance already. He pointed the way.
Now people could react differently to that setup. Somebody would look at the policeman and say, Hey, what do you know? I don't believe you.
Policeman probably will shrug his shoulder.
More or less say, I've done my duty. I pointed the way. If you don't trust me, or then Believe me. I'm sorry, sir. What can I tell you?
Another person would say thank you very much. I really appreciated that. I just follow the instructions.
So the person really is appreciative of the guidance, the policeman might say, Hey, wait a minute, I'm also going in that direction. Why don't you wait for just a couple of minutes I finished my
ground here, just follow me, I'll take you there, I'm going there, which means that the policeman is going out of his way even to help you more, because you chose to follow his instructions. Now, I hope nobody would mistake me to, like in the policeman with God or anything of that sort. But like I said, early, without meaning to have full analogy. In a way also we can say, that one level of guidance was provided by God, to all human beings, regardless, there is no discrimination or distinction on that basic level. And that is to point the way to us, to show us the path of truth and falsehood have various ways. First of all, within our pure instinctive nature,
God has inculcated in us the knowledge of truth and falsity, good and evil. Like the Quran says, When I've seen my mentor went to Alabama, half with word of mouth, that God has created our souls ourselves in the best possible fashion, and inspired into each soul, the knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong, even before you hear any preacher of profit. We know that from our creation, that's one source of our responsibility. Secondly, God has endowed us also with intellect,
not to consider intellect as the antithesis or the opposite of faith, but to use the intellect as confirmation of faith. We have to use that intellect and that intellect also would show us in addition to instinctive feeling, natural innate nature, which was also the right and wrong.
But beyond that, also, he has given us guidance through prophets and messengers that he has sent throughout history. With those prophets, he sent holy books or scriptures to show us the way. So each human being regardless, has received one or more.
Or I should say, even two or more of those sources of guidance.
There's no distinction there. But it is up to us. There are some people who say, all right, I don't believe in God. I don't accept scriptures. I don't accept this. I don't accept that, and are bent on evil bent on crookedness, bent, unselfishness. Let's say, Well, what can you do? These people did not choose the right path. How could they blame God for their own infractions.
On the other hand, those who choose the path, God would give them additional support, additional help. The Quran put it very succinctly, it says, When Lavina, todo, Zed,
those who are guided or accepted to be guided, God increase them in guidance. That is because they have taken the path of truth, God increased that guidance in the second chapter of the Quran. It also talks about the Quran being hidden, limited guidance to those who are God fearing. So once we develop the attitude of knowledge of God, of fear of God, not fear of being scared, but trying to please God, then
our hearts would be open to the inspiration and benefits of the Scripture, otherwise, we won't get it. So in that sense, then we could say that there's there are two levels of guidance. If you want additional help, you've got to take the step in a beautiful saying that was narrated by Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, it says that when a person gets closer to God by one inch, God will get closer to him by one yard. If a person gets closer to God, by one yard, God will get closest to him one mile.
Which means that once we take the step, we accept the instructions, and try to follow it in our lives, we get additional blessing, but everybody is guided in a sense of being inspired,
regardless of his own response, in the five minutes or so that we have remaining on the program, I have two other questions that I want to touch with you. Firstly, look at this question of suffering in the world. Many people ask the question, you know how? How does with all the suffering in the world? How does that fit in with the notion of God is a merciful God.
The biggest problem that we face here is that we sometimes try to judge God's wisdom by our own human standard. That's where the main problem lies. Let me show you first that as human beings, we are not capable of making judgment on something that is beyond the capacity of our intellect.
As human beings, how do we define evil, we are biased from one individual to the other and from one point of time to the other example.
When the rain falls, it may be regarded as good for a farmer who benefits to get his vegetation grow.
It might be regarded as evil from someone who's intending to go for a picnic.
See, as human beings with a fur even on the very same act as to whether it's good or evil, even at different points of time, we have different views. If you're driving to Halifax International Airport to catch a flight, for example, and there's a traffic jam and you missed the flight, that if you regard that as even because you missed the flight, it's too bad.
Few minutes later, if you hit that the plane that you're supposed to take crashed, you say that was good that I missed it, the evil becomes good, just in a minute. So as human beings, when we judge what is good, and what's even we are biased by our human nature, of course, we cannot get out of this human nature, but you cannot be so haughty, or arrogant, so as to question God, why did you create this? Why did you create that? The Quran puts it very clearly,
Alumni Affairs alone, God is not to be questioned about his decision, his wisdom, but you as human beings are they as human beings are to be questioned on their own deeds. It doesn't mean of course, that we are not supposed to think at all about some of the possibilities of why Good and Evil exist in this world. One possible explanation that some people, for example, give is that if we, if there was no evil, we would have not known the good. If there was no sickness, we'd have not appreciated health, if there is no death, we'd have not appreciated life and so on. So in a way, this could be only partial explanation. But one has to be very honest and frank, that, above all, the ultimate
judgment, about the wisdom of God is not up to us.
But definitely, there must be some higher level of wisdom that exceeds and supersedes our
human wisdom. Many times, we discover the things that we we used to regard as evil for centuries may turn out to have some good many times people say why did God create insects, those ugly things, right. But later on, we discovered that insects do serve certain purpose in terms of polymerization, whatever, other purposes, and this is some benefits that we may not fully understand. But we have to approach it with humbleness to God. In the two minutes that we have left, I wonder if you could just comment on the effect of Muslim belief in Qatar, or measure his or her attitudes and behavior. Okay, first of all, a Muslim belief and cut that does not mean that there's only one cutter or one
measure. As I explained that before, it's kind of law of God. And those actually could be in the plural.
Executive of this sickness could be regarded as, as a destiny. But Islam also regard treatment as a destiny. So choose your destiny.
Good is a destiny. Evil is a destiny. But you can choose your destiny. So there is not only one, Destiny, but there are so many destinies in Florida, from which it is up to the human being to choose.
Okay, so once the Muslim have this belief that God has created all those destinies, then he directs his or her energies and attention to try and understand those destinies and choose what is more appropriate and what is more useful.
The second aspect of that is that the person would not be over anxious, and have much anxiety about what's going to happen to him or her.
The person should try his best, like we said before to select the right destiny among the various destinies available. But if the result, it turns out to be different, contrary to what the person really wanted, or hoped for, then a person would not be brokenhearted and say, Oh, I wish I did this and that, oh, my goodness, if I didn't do this, such and such thing could have happened or could have not happened. Because once you get into this line, you're always in a
self recrimination type of
state which is very difficult to be productive with. That's why the current and conclusion
of the question, for example, in chapter 57, in verse 23, it says that Masada mercy buttons and other dlF he unphysical in Africa, terrible, macabre nebra nothing that happened to any disaster that happens on earth or in yourselves, but it is written in a book before even this earth was created. So that leads the person to accept the decision or the what happens to him after Of course, after trying his best first of all to avoid negative things, and after trying his best also to deal with difficult situation that is facing but leaving the result to God after
exerting effort. Thank you, brother Jamal. That's our time for this time and focus program today. We will invite you back next week when we'll conclude our fourth series on Muslim beliefs and we'll discuss the question of the books revealed by our law. Following that we will start our new series, our fifth series on the Pillars of Islam. Thank you for watching. Assalamu alaikum Peace be upon you.