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Offline Reader Questions

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Predestination, Afflictions and Trials
« on: January 17, 2012, 02:43:02 PM »
Salaamun Alaikum Br. Joseph,

Brother, I need to ask a question to you. Is EVERYTHING comes from God and EVERYTHING happens according to God's plan or permission. I do not believe in destiny nor I think everything comes from God, good or bad. It's our actions that produce results and Allah (SWT) gave us power to do good or bad and as such we are responsible for our actions. There is no destiny.

Some even suggest that ANYTHING bad happen to us is a reminder from God. I don't believe in it. Please advise of your thoughts.

God bless.

Offline Joseph Islam

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    • The Quran and its Message
Re: Predestination, Afflictions and Trials
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2012, 02:51:15 PM »
Dear Brother,

Salamun Alaikum.

First of all I think it is important to grasp a very important concept that will assist us to deal with your question more comprehensively from a Quranic perspective, God willing.


God is not dependant on time nor does He exist 'in time' that He Himself has created. We exist in time and space. God transcends space, time and His creation. He is not dependant on the laws He Himself has created for His servants. A lot of difficulties in our understandings are resolved if we remove God from our linear perception of time and space which God is simply not restricted to. Many verses and theological inferences in the Quran indicate that He is timeless and governs affairs from outside His universal creational scope.

For God, you and I have already died as He is omnipresent in all time spheres past, present and future. For example, when you pray for a dead relative today in your linear space of time, although for you that person has died, for God the knowledge of your prayer was present before He even created the person you are praying for. He took account of that prayer before the Universe was created and before He set his master-plan in action for me, for you and the whole Universe.

This does not mean that He forces our choices. We make the choices and are responsible for them, but He has knowledge of them before we make them.


We will be led into situations and afflictions in two main ways.

               (1) Some that our own hands cause (Cause and effect)
               (2) Those that are specifically created to test us.

Let us look at the first one:

(1) Some that our own hands cause (Cause and effect)

This is due to our own ill deeds and transgressions.

"Say: He has the power that He should send on you a chastisement from above you or from beneath your feet, or that He should throw you into confusion, (making you) of different parties; and make some of you taste the fighting of others. See how We repeat the communications that they may understand"

"And (both) the Jews and the Christians say: "We are the children of God and His loved ones." Say: "Why then does He punish you for your sins?"

Punishment will be also be afflicted to humble us and make us ponder about the error of our ways:

"Before thee We sent (messengers) to many nations, and We afflicted the nations with suffering and adversity, that they might learn humility'

"Whatever good, (O man!) happens to thee, is from God; but whatever evil happens to thee, is from thy (own) soul and We have sent thee as a messenger to (instruct) mankind. And enough is God for a witness"

However, it is also important to remember that sometimes a whole people are chastised collectively and when this difficulty comes it is inevitable that those who are not wrong-doers may also suffer. However, the righteous always have patience during any collective trial.

'And guard yourselves against a chastisement which cannot fall exclusively on those of you who are wrong-doers, and know that God is severe in punishment"

(2) Those trials that are specifically created to test us.

'And We shall try you until We make evident those who strive among you and persevere in patience; and We shall test your affairs"

Sometimes the tests will be very severe.

'Or do you think that you shall enter the Garden (of bliss) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? they encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: "When will the help of God come?" Ah! Indeed, the help of God is (always) near!"

We will be tested with wealth, children and health.

"And know that your wealth and your children are but a trial; and that it is God with Whom lies your highest reward"

"Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your wealth and in yourselves; and ye shall certainly hear much that will grieve you, from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if ye persevere patiently, and guard against evil, then that will be a determining factor in all affairs"

"And surely We will test you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere"

Please see related article:

To say God has no active involvement in the affairs of the Universe is incorrect from a Quran's perspective. God is fully cognizant of His creation and remains actively involved, but not in a 'linear' time / space sense as we understand it and are subject to. He can govern His affairs from outside the time-space creation as we previously discussed. This is very important to ponder, understand and appreciate.

If we note verse 7:54 of the Quran and read 'istawa ala 'larsh' (ascended the throne) in context to the establishment of God creating the universe and the laws and taking power over it, we see it further elaborated in verse 13:2 along with the term 'yudabbiru l-amra' (governing / disposing the affairs). This gives us a strong indication of 'active involvement'.

When something is 'written' for the future, indeed God makes it to come into being. But this is not independent of the past or present or His active involvement given His wisdom.

So in summary:

At times, there will be a direct consequence to our actions. Some will indeed suffer the consequences of their actions in this world. Other's will not (Like Pharaoh 40:46) and their punishment will be reserved for the Hereafter. In other cases, trials will have been prepared specifically for us to encounter.

Some try endlessly with a task, but their efforts are not perceived to be rewarded. Others try comparatively little, but achieve much. Many times things seem easy to accomplish and at other times the simplest of task seems so difficult to complete due to one problem after another. In these circumstances, one simply cannot escape from the conclusion that man is not completely responsible for everything and there is a Master governing affairs and controlling them.

This can even be noted in the following verse where if God had not had active involvement in controlling the affairs (withholding one hand from the destruction of another), the whole planet would have been in chaos. (part 2:251 "And if God had not repelled some men by others the earth would have been corrupted"). Those who remember the cold war can best appreciate this verse and its underlying wisdom.

The complexity and variables of why something may happen is beyond human comprehension due to the infinite permutations that may be involved. That is where the phrase 'God knows best' is better appreciated.

However, we must always bear afflictions with patience and ponder whether there are any lessons to be learnt from them. There is always a cue for self reflection.

At times, we think ill is happening, but there is much good in it. For this, I always refer people to the story of Prophet Moses and the servant of God, where he marred a boat, killed a young boy and where the refusal of hospitality was met with an act of grace with the construction of a wall. (18:65-82). Prophet Moses also found it difficult to maintain patience given the extent of the circumstances and what he was witnessing. But there was much wisdom behind it. We too must have faith in God's wisdom.

"And how can you have patience about things about which your understanding is not complete?"

I hope this helps.

Your brother in faith,
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell