Summary of the Beliefs of Ahlus-Sunnah wa'l-Jama'ah Pertaining to Al-Qada' and Al-Qadr, A
- Abu 'Abdir-Rahman Mohammad Navaid Aziz
Alhamdulillahi rabbil-'alamin was salatu was salamu 'ala ashrifil anbiya wal-mursalin nabiyina Muhammad wa 'ala alihi wa sahbihi ajma'in
Living in a time where the Muslims have been enthralled by the dunya (the worldly life) and distanced themselves from the scholars, the correct set of beliefs has become something unknown to the average Muslim. From the set of beliefs that many of the Muslims have strayed in, is the belief in predestination, otherwise known as al-Qada' and al-Qadr. So in this short treatise the correct beliefs pertaining to al-Qada' and al-Qadr will become clear to the reader, by the will of Allah, the Most High.
- 1. Definition of Al-Qada' and Al-Qadr
- 2. Belief in Al-Qada' and Al-Qadr
- 3. Principles of Ahlus-Sunnah wa'l-Jama'at in Al-Qada' and Al-Qadr
- 3.1. 1) That Allah, the Most High, has absolute knowledge of all affairs whether it be past, present, or future
- 3.2. 2) That Allah, the Most High, has written all matters that would ever occur in a preserved tablet (al-Lawh ul-Mahfudh)
- 3.3. 3) That nothing occurs except by the Will of Allah, the Most High
- 3.4. 4) That Allah, the Magnificent, created everything
- 4. Sects which have Gone Astray in the Understanding of Actions and Qadr
- 5. The Position of Ahlus-Sunnah in Understanding Qadr and Our Actions
- 6. If Qadr Has Already Been Prescribed for Us do We Need to Make Du'a (Supplication)?
- 7. How to React to that Which Has Been Decreed for You
- 8. Supplications to Make When Struck by Difficulty and Hardship
- 9. Benefits of Believing in Qadr
- 10. Conclusion
Definition of Al-Qada' and Al-Qadr
In order to study any matter properly, one must first be aware of the terminology involved. So in order to properly understand al-Qada' and al-Qadr one must, firstly, understand what it means. When mentioned separately, both al-Qada' and al-Qadr mean the predestination of an action or an event. However if they are combined then al-Qadr means the predestination of an act or event before it occurs and al-Qada' refers to act or event after it takes place.
Belief in Al-Qada' and Al-Qadr
The scholars of Islam are in ijma' (consensus) that the belief in al-Qada' and al-Qadr is mandatory upon every Muslim, and he who rejects it has left the fold of Islam. The proofs of this are many in the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
"We have created all things according to a measure." [Al-Qur'an 54:49]
The famous hadith of Jibril (Gabriel), where he came to the Prophet, upon whom be peace, and asked him, “What is iman (belief)?”, and the Prophet, peace be upon him, replied:
"Iman is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, the Day of Judgment and al-Qadr, the good of it and the evil of it." [Part of a longer hadith that can be found in Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, and in the 40 Hadith of Imam an-Nawawi]
The hadith of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with him:
"No slave of Allah will truly believe until he believes in al-Qadr its good and evil, and until he realizes that what has befallen him was not going to miss him and that which missed him was not going to befall him." [Sahih at-Tirmidhi and it was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albani]
The hadith of Ibn 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, where two men came to him and informed him, "There has appeared before us a people who recite the Qur'an and seek knowledge, and they proclaim that there is no Qadr and verily this affair is scornful," to which Ibn 'Umar responded:
"When you meet these people tell them that I am free from them and that they are free from me, for verily by Him in whose hand is the soul of 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar, were they to give Mount 'Uhud in gold it would never be accepted from them until they believe in Qadr." [Mount 'Uhud is a large mountain from the mountains of Paradise, situated in the outskirts of Madinah. Known for the famous battle that took place there in the 4th year after hijrah, the battle of 'Uhud, the second battle in Islam. This hadith is the first narrated in the Sahih of Imam Muslim]
Principles of Ahlus-Sunnah wa'l-Jama'at in Al-Qada' and Al-Qadr
The scholars of Islam have derived four main principles pertaining to al-Qada' and al-Qadr:
- That Allah, the Most High, has absolute knowledge of all affairs. Whether it be past, present, or future;
- That Allah, the Most High, has written all matters that would ever occur in a preserved tablet (al-Lawh ul-Mahfudh);
- That nothing occurs except by the Will of Allah, the Most High; and
- That Allah, the Magnificent, created everything.
The above 4 points will be briefly explained in the following passages, by the Will of Allah.
1) That Allah, the Most High, has absolute knowledge of all affairs whether it be past, present, or future
Allah's knowledge encompasses all affairs. He knew that which was, He knows what is, and He knows what will be. He knows that which we hide in the midst of our souls and He knows that which we publicize to all of mankind. He knows when we were born, how we will live, and where and when we will die. He knows which of us will be in Jannah (Paradise) and which of us will be in the Nar (Hell-Fire). He is the all knowing and the all aware. Imam al-Ajuri states in his book ash-Shari'ah:
"He (Allah) created for Jannah its inhabitants and for the Nar its inhabitants, before he brought them into this world. No one whom Islam has prevailed and overcome and has tasted the sweetness of iman will differ in this. The Qur'an and the Sunnah have indicated this, and we seek refuge in Allah from the one who rejects this ... "
" ... Indeed, Allah knows all things." [Al-Qur'an 8:75]
" ... so that you may know that Allah has power over all things, and that He has encompassed everything in knowledge." [Al-Qur'an 65:12]
2) That Allah, the Most High, has written all matters that would ever occur in a preserved tablet (al-Lawh ul-Mahfudh)
From the wisdom of Allah is that He wrote everything that would occur before He created the heavens and the earth in a preserved tablet known as al-Lawh ul-Mahfudh. As Muslims it is upon us to believe this whether it agrees with our intellect or not, and to not ask why? When? And how?
"Do you not know that Allah knows what is in the heaven and the earth? This is in a Book. This is easy for Allah." [Al-Qur'an 22:70]
The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said:
"Allah wrote what was ordained for creation, fifty thousand years before the creation of the heavens and the earth and His 'Arsh (Throne) was on the water." [Sahih Muslim]
3) That nothing occurs except by the Will of Allah, the Most High
From the belief of the Muslim pertaining to al-Qadr is that he believes that nothing occurs except by the Will of Allah. If Allah, the Most High, has permitted it to happen it will take place without a doubt. Whether we like it or not.
"But you cannot will unless Allah wills; Allah is Knowing, Wise." [Al-Qur'an 76:30]
The Prophet, peace be upon him, also said:
"If the whole 'Ummah (nation) were to unite and try to benefit you in something, they would never benefit you except by that which Allah has written for you. And if the whole 'Ummah were to unite and try to harm you in something, they would never be able to harm you except that Allah had written it upon you." [Narrated in Sahih at-Tirmidhi, and in Musnad Ahmad (with a different wording). Authenticated by Shaykh al-Albani]
Allah's Will here is of two types, al-Kawni and ash-Shari'. Al-Kawni is all that Allah wills and hasn't given man total control over, the likes of the orbiting of the earth around the sun, the appearance of the stars at night, the waves in the ocean, the ability to ride a bicycle, and kick a football, etc. [Note that the all events are not necessarily pleasing to Allah yet he still allows them to occur. For further reading on this topic please refer to Dr Saleh as-Saleh's article: "Why is it That Allah May Want what He Dislikes?"]
Ash-Shari' is all that Allah is pleased with and has ordered mankind with. It is in the hands of mankind to fulfill. Such as praying five times a day, fasting in Ramadhan, not associating partners with Him, being obedient to our parents etc.
4) That Allah, the Magnificent, created everything
It is upon the Muslim to know and realize that Allah is the Creator of all things, including his (the Muslim's) actions. Not an atom on this earth nor a planet that orbits the sun exists except that Allah is the one who created it.
"Allah is the Creator of everything; and He is the Guardian over all things." [Al-Qur'an 39:62]
"He (Abraham) said: 'Do you worship what you yourselves carve, when Allah has created you and what you make?' " [Al-Qur'an 37:96]
Sects which have Gone Astray in the Understanding of Actions and Qadr
Imam Muslim narrates in the introduction to the first hadith of his sahih that the first person to ever speak about (in a deviant manner) Qadr was a man from al-Basrah by the name of Mu'adh al-Juhni. It was from his deviance that the stray sects started to take their methodology in Qadr. Over the passage of time a lot of sects have strayed in their understanding of Qadr, from them are the Mu'atazilah, the Jahmiyah and some of the Asha'irah, but their deviant understanding goes back to the two main groups of the Qadariyyah and the Jabariyyah.
The Qadarriyah are those people who believe that predestination does not exist, and that we are free to act as we will, and that Allah, the Creator, does not have knowledge of an affair until its occurrence. The Jabariyyah are those people who believe that we have no free will, and that we are forced to do everything.
The Position of Ahlus-Sunnah in Understanding Qadr and Our Actions
The stance of Ahlus-Sunnah pertaining to the understanding our actions and al-Qadr is the middle course between the two sects. We believe that Allah knows everything we do before it happens, and has given us the free will to do as we wish. Whether it be good or bad, and we will be held accountable for that which we used to do. So it is upon us to continue doing good deeds and continue distancing ourselves from sins and evil acts, and not be like those who say that we are compelled to do everything, and that the doing of righteous acts will not make a difference. We seek refuge in Allah from such ignorance.
"Those who ascribe partners [to Allah] will say: 'If Allah had wished, we would not have ascribed partners to Him, nor would our fathers, nor we have forbidden anything.' Thus did those who came before them argue falsely, until they tasted of Our wrath. Say: 'Have you any [certain] knowledge that you can produce before us? You follow nothing but conjecture. You do nothing but guess." [Al-Qur'an 6:148]
In another ayah (verse) Allah warns those who took Qadr as their reason for falling into shirk (polytheism) when He says:
"Messengers of good news and of warning, in order that mankind might have no argument against Allah after the Messengers. And Allah was August, Wise." [Al-Qur'an 4:165]
Such that they cannot say that it was Allah's Will that we committed shirk with Him.
The Messenger of Allah was once sitting with a wooden stick in his hand with which he was scraping the ground. He raised his head and said:
"There is none of you except that his place has been assigned either in the Hell-Fire or in Paradise."
The Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, said: "O Allah's Messenger why should we carry on doing good deeds then? Shall we not be dependent (on al-Qadr) and give up actions?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
"No, but rather carry on doing good deeds, for every person will find easy (to do) the deeds which will lead him to the place he has been created for." [Sahih Muslim]
If Qadr Has Already Been Prescribed for Us do We Need to Make Du'a (Supplication)?
Many people have come to understand that if Qadr has already been written for us, and we will receive that which has been prescribed for us then what is the benefit of making du'a? The answer to this question lies in the understanding of the principle that events will take place if the appropriate steps are taken to make them happen. Thus since we know that Allah is in charge of all affairs and is able to do all things, He is the one we ask when we are in need. He already knew we were going to ask him, but waited till we actually do the act of asking before he answers our du'a. So in order to achieve that final goal (to get what we asked for in our du'a) we have to take the step of actually making du'a.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
"Nothing increases one's life-span except good deeds, and nothing repels divine decree except du'a. And verily, a person may be deprived of sustenance due to a sin that he commits." [Authenticated by Shaykh al-Albani in Sahih ibn Majah]
So if one were to ask how does du'a change decree? We would respond to this with the example of the farmer whose field has gone dry due to the lack of rain (Divine Decree of Allah), so he prays Salatul-Istisqa (a prayer from the Sunnah, that is performed to ask for rain) and thus it rains and his crops cultivate. Thus as a result of his prayer Allah sent down the rain.
Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy upon him, had some wisdom filled words concerning those people who don't take the appropriate steps to make the desired event happen:
"The logical consequences of such a reasoning leads to a rejection of all efforts. It can, therefore, be said to a person who holds this view, if the satisfaction of your hunger and thirst has already been destined for you, then it will be fulfilled, whether you eat or not. On the other hand, if it has not been destined for you, it will never occur, whether you eat or not. And, if a son has been destined for you, then you will be granted one, whether you have intercourse with your wife or not. On the other hand, if a son has not been destined for you, then you will never be granted one. In this case, there is no point in you getting married ... !" [Taken from Ibn al-Qayyim's Jawab al-Kafi]
How to React to that Which Has Been Decreed for You
Allah tells us in many places through out the Qur'an that man will be tested and tried, and will face tribulations that man thinks he will never be able to over come. On the other hand Allah, the Most High, also puts us in times of ease where we think that there isn't a problem in the world. So how is the Muslim to react in these scenarios?
"We shall surely test you with fear and hunger, and loss of property and lives and crops; but give glad tidings to those who have fortitude. Who when struck by misfortune, say: 'We belong to Allah, and surely to Him we shall return.' " [Al-Qur'an 2:155-156]
Allah also says previous to these two ayat:
"O Believers, seek help in patience and in the ritual prayer. Allah is with those that are patient." [Al-Qur'an 2:154]
In the above verses Allah guides us to those actions that should be performed, when faced with trials and tribulations: Firstly, we should be patient. Secondly, we should not get over emotional and forget who created us but rather we should remember that to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return. Lastly, we should seek assistance in salah, which when referred to linguistically means du'a, [refer to Ibn al-Mandhur's Lisan al-'Arab] and ask Allah to relieve us of this trial and reward us for our patience. Like our Salaf (Predecessors) would say, "There is no protection from the Qadr of Allah, except with Allah."
Supplications to Make When Struck by Difficulty and Hardship
"Allahumma la sahla illa ma ja'lta sahlan wa anta taj'alu al-hazna idha shi'ta sahlan."
"O Allah, there is no ease except by that which you have made easy, and you are able to make to change difficulty into ease if you wish." [Sahih ibn Hibban]
"Qaddar Allahu masha'a fa'ala."
"Allah has decreed and He does what He wills." [Sahih Muslim]
"Hasbi Allahu wa ne'mal wakil."
"Allah is sufficient for me and is the best trustee of affairs." [Recorded by Abu Dawud and authenticated by Shaykh al-Albani]
"Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un."
"We belong to Allah, and surely to Him we shall return." [Al-Qur'an 2:156]
"Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un. Allahumma ujurni fi musibati w'ukhluf li khayran minha."
"Truly to Allah we belong and verily to Him we shall return. O Allah, reward me in this calamity and compensate me with something better than it." [Sahih Muslim]
Likewise when one is in times of ease and relaxation he should thank Allah for his blessings and glorify and praise Him for the good that he was granted.
Benefits of Believing in Qadr
- It grants its believer the peace of mind and sense of relaxation to know, that which has befallen him, was never meant to pass him by and that which has passed him was never meant to befall him;
- It gives its believer the will and determination to do righteous deeds and grants him the knowledge of the fact that nothing can harm him or stop him except that which Allah has willed;
- Teaches its believer not to be arrogant and vain but rather to be modest and humble because he realizes that his actions are created by Allah and that such and such an event occurred, not because he was rich or was given beauty and good lineage but rather because it was the Will of Allah; and
- Teaches its believer to do as much as is in his capability and then leave the rest up to Allah, and then to be satisfied with the result as he did as much as his ability permitted him to do so.
I would like to take this opportunity to firstly thank Allah, the Most High, for giving me the ability to complete this work, and secondly to thank Dr Saleh As-Saleh for allowing me to use his works as an aid and a guide.
I end off on this note by asking Allah to accept this work as one of our righteous deeds, and to grant the reader a firm belief and understanding of al-Qada' and al-Qadr, and to send his peace and blessings upon his Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, his family, companions, and those who follow them in righteousness until the last day. Amin.