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Our fate and destiny

Publishing Date : 30 July, 2019

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM


There are times in our lives when everything seems to go wrong and as mere mortals we go tend to get befuddled and go almost haywire and are left wondering; why me? Why now? What have I done to deserve this? We are all tested with adversity, hardship and pain, but these tribulations are the Almighty’s way of transforming us and help us develop spiritually.

Allah Almighty reminds us: ‘On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear’ (Qur’an 2:286). Also: “Be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are the patient.” [Qur’an 8: 46].As people we all have different reactions when something good or bad happens to us and usually our reactions depend on the strength of our religious belief and of their righteous deeds and actions. One person may receive blessings and goodness with gratitude and accepts the bad patches in his life with perseverance and endurance. This positive attitude brings him peace of mind and happiness, causing his grief, anxiety and misery to ease. Thus, this positivity brings a balance and contentment in his life.


But the bottom line is that as a Muslim we believe in Divine Decree (qadar in Arabic) and also in destiny / fate (Taqdeer). When Allah created all things, He determined when it would come into existence and when it would cease to exist, He also determined its qualities and nature. And everything in the universe, the seen and the unseen, is completely subject to the overriding power of Allah - nothing can take place or happen outside His Will. That is Divine Decree. “Nothing will happen to us except for what Allah has decreed for us, He is our protector” Quran 9 : 51

As a human we have been created by the Almighty with two opposing yet complementary qualities: the spiritual and the physical. On the one hand is our mind, we can think anything we wish; there are simply no boundaries to this thinking.

Yet, in our physical existence, we are extremely limited. We are limited by all kinds of constraints. The greatest limiting factor which a human faces is death. Death nullifies all greatness in our lives.


As human beings, we are not completely masters of our own fate, nor are we mere puppets waiting for our destiny. Allah gave humans limited power and great freedom, including the freedom of choice and of thought. From all of Allah’s creation it is the human being that has been blessed with intellect and the wisdom with the capacity to think and make logical and rational choices. That self-sufficiency places upon us the responsibility to make conscious decisions and choices for which each individual is liable and accountable for.


We will never know what our life or the future holds for us, and, to a large extent, we cannot control it. But we can make decisions within the limits of what we can control, based on our understanding of the way the world works. For example if I choose to bang my fist into a brick wall, I cannot claim any injustice when it hurts. I know that the wall exists and that it is hard and I am liable to get hurt. That is the reality that I have to deal with. Yet the ultimate reality is that Allah could make the wall disappear just before my fist reaches it.


Just as Allah created nature and its laws, He made moral laws, and we cannot claim any injustice if we get punished for disobeying or ignoring those moral laws when we have been blessed with ability to make those choices – good or bad. The concept of faith, therefore, dictates that we must seek harmony with Allah’s rules of human nature and nature at large, and consciously submit to His will. Destiny as perceived in Islam, does not take away our freedom of choice and action. Rather it is how we use those choices and thinking for actions that are in harmony with Allah’s will that earns us our reward from Allah.


When Allah sets certain rules in His decree as to how things change and progress, even these things / events that we may consider impossible and improbable can be changed through prayers. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stressed that only sincere prayers can change the way events unfold, and that true worship and sincere submission to Allah can raise the believer above the normal ways of nature. Prayers can and do result in “personal miracles”


From an Islamic point of view, human beings are free for all practical purposes to use their thinking and logic to make their choices and decisions. A person has no excuse for making the wrong choice and then blaming Decree or destiny/fate, any more than a man slamming his fist into a wall can blame the laws of nature. He knows the consequences of his actions and he shouldn’t expect a miracle!


We should not worry about what Allah has written for us, since we will never be privy to it. But our duty is to strive for the best in this world and more importantly in the next, we therefore have to lead a life that is in harmony with the religious and moral code of behaviour that the Almighty has shown to us. That responsibility rest squarely with us - it is not only the action that is important but the intention in our hearts and minds.


You will hear a Muslim utter the words ‘Insha-Allah’ that means ‘if Allah so wills’. This is the acceptance by Muslims that everything and every action can only happen by the will of the Almighty. However this does not mean that we should resign ourselves to our fate – there are many instances when we are faced with choices - it is how we react to and make those choices that is important.  “Nor say of anything, I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow without adding ‘if Allah Wills’ (Quran 18:24)


As for the question of whether humans are predestined to enter Paradise or Hell, we must remember that Allah transcends the limits of time. He is All-Knowing of the past, present and future. Thus He knows in advance which path — good or evil — each individual will choose and what will be his or her final destination — Paradise or Hell. But such knowledge does not mean that He makes each person choose a certain path.


This is man’s severest test. In all his apparent greatness, he must acknowledge how insignificant his condition is. That means responsibility is upon the believer to ensure that he lives his life according to the laws of his Maker to ensure that the final destination will be of everlasting peace in that Heavenly City promised to us. 


‘If Allah touches you with affliction, none can remove it but He; if He touches you with happiness, He has power over all things’ (Qur’an 6: 17).Therefore the believer prays to his Lord: ‘Our Lord, condemn us not if we forget or fall into error…lay not on us a burden greater than which we have the strength to bear’ (Qur’an 2:286) 


This life is full of ups and downs and uncertainties, but the only certain thing is that from the moment we are born we will be tested with life’s challenges throughout our entire lives, up to and to the final certainty, death. The bottom line is that we are all born…..to die eventually.  During those challenging times you have three choices: either you can let them define you, let them destroy you; or you can let them strengthen you. The choice is yours.

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