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Free Will - Article

Free Will - Article

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Published by Saeed AbdulRahim
An Article on Free Will drawing from the Islamic Texts, Writings and Anecdotes.
An Article on Free Will drawing from the Islamic Texts, Writings and Anecdotes.

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Published by: Saeed AbdulRahim on Jan 21, 2010
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Raising my Hand up.
Let me be the first to raise my hand up to say that I really don’t know what the academic definition of Free Will is. I thought I knew, but in reality there are so many different facets of it that no body can say with any degree of certainty that they know of one definitive definition. And, anyone who claims to know one has perhaps not reflected on the subject for long enough. It is said that one of the signs of knowledge is in Knowing what you don’t know. There is an interesting story about the time when Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w.) first went to Madina His Grace Ayoub Ansari was his host, in the evening as they retired with the guest in the ground floor room the host went to the first floor room, and as he put his foot into that room a thought occurred to him that his foot may be above the spot where the Messenger of Allah was, so as a mark of respect he stepped away from that spot, but then as he moved to a new spot, another thought came to him that perhaps it was that new spot which was above the spot where the Messenger of Allah was, so he moved yet again to another spot, and the same thought came to him about that new spot as well, in this way he kept on moving from one spot to another all through the night not wishing to stand above the area where the Messenger of Allah was. Working out the definition of Free Will is some what like that, that you keep on moving from one definition to another not knowing when to stop with each definition looking as valid as all others.


Not as Simple as it appears to an un-reflecting mind.
Although it sounds as if it is something fairly mundane and simple to understand, some people may think that it is simple to the point that they don’t even recognize it when they are implementing free Will in their thought or decision making process. In reality, the concept of Free Will is fairly complex. Often people will reach a conclusion in trying to understand it, but then something else goes through their mind, and the thought process is thrown back to where one started from, and you try again to understand it in the context of the new dimension that surfaced recently. It is a commonly held Islamic Creed which says that Human Beings are Superior to Angels, an indication of which is given by God’s commandment to Angels to bow down to Adam following his creation. Amore potent manifestation of this superiority is explained in the belief that Human Beings use their God given gift of Free Will to choose to worship Him – Indeed; God praises and makes mention of worshipping believing human beings to the assembly of Angels for this very reason, and on special occasions God is said to descend to the lowest paradise to receive reverence from such human beings which he then extols in front of the Angels. Angels on the other hand are a creation which does not possess Free Will, so choice is not a factor in their worship of God.

Another creation of God that has been granted this gift of Free Will are the Genies which include, as the human race does, the believing ones as well as the non-believing ones the


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compliant ones and the disobeying ones, and it was one such infamous non-compliant Genie known by the name Iblees who used his Free Will to arrogate himself and disobeyed God by refusing to bow down to Adam when insytructed to do so by God. The difference between Satan’s status in Islam and that of other faiths where he is thought of as a fallen Angel arises due to the fact that whilst he resided in paradise and lived amongst the Angels, he was nevertheless of a different creation being a Genie.1

Divine and Human Will.
It will be useful, if at the outset, we clearly see in our in our minds the difference between the two Wills, one being the Divine Will and the other being the Human Will. In terms of Divine Will, it will help further if we pare deeper and look at the difference between Divine “Ordainment” and Divine “Permission.” To ordain some thing as we all know, means to issue an order. And, if Allah Ordains it for someone to believe in Him, has that person’s Human Will got any choice? In this sense, Free Will has no part to play in who worships God. The Quran states in one of several verses dealing with the subject that it is up to Allah whom He Guides to His path.2 Here we see very clearly that it is up to the Will of God whosoever He wishes to guide to himself, hence God is very much a determining factor in deciding who gets his guidance, Free Will on it’s own on the part of human beings isn’t the sole criteria in this, as some would like to believe. So, who are those whom Allah guides? These include those who turn to Him believing in Him and therefore this is where Free Will is applied where one makes a conscious decision to turn to God and to turn to Him in the hope of receiving his guidance, and it is still a hope, because eventually it is up to God whom he accepts as his worshipper- much like when you decide as your own prerogative ,who will be your friends. Miracles do happen, and many an Aethists have been brought to the path after a Vision. Contrastingly, We see from some other verses in the Quran that, those who are unfortunate to the extent that they do not get God’s guidance? include those who are unjust, those who are given to wrong doing and those who are rebellious transgressors. Thus, Whilst Free Will plays only a partial role in worshipping God, Human Will on the other hand is a Prime Factor in the turning away from God.

Divine “Will” and Divine “Wish”
A statement that is often found in religious texts across different religions is that “Whatsoever God Wills happens and whatsoever He does not Wills does not happen”. I therfore wonder if Will is the right word to use when referring to the commission of sins by people, because if God Wills people to sin then how can he punish them? Confusion often occurs when translating text from one language into another resulting in the loss of contextual meaning. For instance, one verse of the Quran, if taken literally, would mean that Allah Wills for people to go astray3 the use of the Word Will in the translation of this verse seems in contradiction with the Divine attribute of being The Frequent Forgiver, The Most
1 2

Quran 18:50 Quran 24: 46 3 Quran 6:17


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Beneficent and the Most Merciful and the Prophetic descri that Allah loves people more than a mother loves her new born nursing child. Contrastingly, the use of the same word Will when used in a different context and carrying a different meaning than the above understood meaning of Command and Ordainment appears to convey the message correctly when in another verse the Quran uses the same word Will but this time it has been used to mean Choice or Free Will rather than a Command or a Compulsion, leaving people to decide who will believe and who will disbelieve.4 In terms of retribution, the Quran clearly states that Indeed Allah does not wrong people at all; it is people who wrong themselves5, in terms of misfortune the Quran states that whatever misfortunes befalls us it is the consequence of what our own hands have sent ahead of us and Allah forgives many of our sins6

Divine “Wish” rather than Will
I therefore wonder, if we could not do better, that in cases where disbelief and commission of sins take place, instead of using the word Will we use instead the word “Wish” to indicate Divine displeasure. Because, when we use the word Wish we are merely indicating a desire rather than stating an objective, and so, when we wish, we are expressing a desire of what we would like to see happen not that we have any intention of ensuring that it happens. However, when we “Will” for something to happen, then in the normative sense of the word we are doing more than just wish, but are backing that wish with an implied intention to either facilitate or cause that will to happen. How often do we hear people say “Oh! I wish that so and so goes away”, and in some cases people will go to great lengths to hide from those that they do not wish to see. Contrastingly, when we wish for someone to come and visit us, then we don’t just wish for that to happen but we “will” it in the sense that we take steps to invite that person and do our best to ensure that they are coming.Divine Will and Divine Wish work in a similar fashion. For those who have earned God’s displeasure He merely “Wishes” for them to go-away without actually causing their straying. However, to those who deserve the Grace He “Wills” it for them to be drawn towards himself and actually implements that. He favours them by making their path towards Him easy inviting them through revelation of Scriptures or by inspiration or as in the case of Moses by direct conversation.7 In many cases though, Divine “Will” is the determining factor by way of a command, decree or ordainment as in the creation of the cosmos, the alteration of the night and day, the orbital movements of the sun, moon and planets, the changing of the weather, life and Death etc etc.

Divine Permission.
I suggest that people turning to God can do so in one of two ways, one by Divine Ordainment, and the conversion of Omar Bin Khattab to Islam and that of Paul to Christianity are cases in point. Both were sworn enemies of their respective faiths before their conversion, so their decision to convert could not have come about as an exercise of Free Will, both were drawn in by Divine Ordainment (as they perceived it). However many conversions take place because people are already on a journey seeking the truth, though not knowing what that is. God is then so pleased with their desire to
4 5

Quran 18:29 Quran 10:44 6 Quran 26:30 7 Quran : 4:164


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seek the truth that He in His Grace Permits and allows them to come to Him making their Path towards Himself easy for them. These people can be described as those who used their Free Will to access God. If God Permits for something to happen, be it a good action of a gentle soul or a bad action of a misguided soul, then both happen because of a joint and coincidental occurrence of the Divine and Human Wills, Divine will in Permitting it to happen and human will in endeavouring for it. Divine permission is essential in order for anything to occur, whilst on the other hand human will and effort may not always reach a desired result.

Soul – Nafs
There are many, many scenarios in which Free Will can be used, but the directions in which it is used and the outcomes resulting from it’s employment depend almost entirely on the Quality of one’s Soul (Nafs in Quranic language). Therefore before we delve further into Free Will it will be useful to understand what Soul is and what different kinds of Souls are we likely to encounter. God created human beings with many faculties, NAFS being one of them. Generally this term NAFS is understood as meaning the Soul or the Self-Will which give us our various propensities. Allah is the one who has created our NAFS and He has also sworn by it which is an indication of it’s serious nature, further, that, it is He who has proportioned it, inspiring it with it’s wickedness and it’s righteousness. Therefore, anyone who has purified it has succeeded, and anyone who instils it with corruption has failed.8 There are Three Kinds of NAFS.9 (a) NAFS-e-AMMARAH. Blameworthy NAFS(Soul) which has the propensity to nudge us towards wrong deeds and evil thoughts and actions, and it is this kind of NAFS that needs to be kept under very strict control. Prophet Yousuf (Joseph) referred to this lower soul when he admitted that he could not totally absolve himself for it (NAFS) he said incites to evil.10 (b) NAFS-e-LAWWAMAH. This is the kind of NAFS(Soul) which is aware of the evil nature of the whisperings of the blameworthy soul, is conscious of the nature of evil and recognizes it as something bad that has to be avoided, and if it find’s it possessor indulging in such thoughts or deeds gives rise to self reproaching within that individual with sincere repentance, and tries to make mends in his thought processes and actions, and due to this ever present desire to repent the person tries to reach salvation. Allah even swears by this self-reproaching NAFS in order to assign weightiness to it.11 (c)NAFS-e-MUTMA’INAH. This is the best and highest kind of NAFS (Soul) which is satisfied in whatever it’s Lord has ordained for it. The satisfaction is usually selfassured, but it can also come as a Gift of Mercy from Allah who is so pleased with it’s nature that He invites it and it’s possessor to Paradise12.

Different Kinds of Free Will

8 9

Quran: Chapter Ash-Shams : 7 - 9 www.islamonline.net :Wail Shihab 10 Quran: Yousuf : 53 11 Quran : Qiyahmah : 1-2 12 Quran : Al-Fajr : 27-30


Saeed AbdulRahim e: islamic_wisdom@yahoo.co.uk w: http://islamicwisdom7.wordpress.com/ A Computer Game Analogy.
When you look at a Computer or an Arcade game you see that the Analyst and Programmers have thought of all the various possibilities and have built them into the game. The graphics, the sound, the colours the displays, the icons and the logic have all been comprehensively pre-programmed. However, despite this comprehensiveness, there is still a large amount of freedom for the players. The players have to use their own skills and abilities which are unknown factors that could not have been predicted by the game’s designers. What the Programmers have done is to work out all the possible combination and permutations of skills and abilities that players might bring to the game and then assign ranks according to a pre-set criteria, but what the Programmers cannot predict is who will play at what skill level. Thus, all the parameters and the criteria for judging the performances of various players are pre-determined. However, no player is forced to play in a certain way as each player will bring a different skill level to the game. Challenges are also built into the various games, but how to respond to those challenges is entirely a matter for the player, and here again, there is no physical coercion on any player. Most games will also have built into them a range of skill levels to play at which increasingly challenge the players, again, it is up to the Free Will of every player to choose the level at which each one plays. Many games will also offer the choice whether a player wishes to play severally or as part of a team or even choose to compete with other players which also is left to the choice of each player. At the end of a game, a “roll of honour” is displayed which shows how well each player has played the game, even this is not dictated by the Original Programmers and Analysts and is solely based on the performance of each player.

A Motor Car Analogy. Look at the Motor Car, The Manufacturer has built the Chassis, Beautified it with gleaming Body works, decorated it with comfortable upholstery, Put in an Engine, Provided the dash Board with an ignition system that turns the engine which runs on fuel that comes in from a fuel tank, added the electronics which get energy from a battery, supplemented with a hybrid system of dual fuel. Then provided it with a Steering Wheel which turn the 4 wheels of the car. The car has also been provided with both, an Accelerator and a Break Pedal, highlighting the choices available to choose between driving very, very fast or to restrain the speed by applying the breaks. There being No compulsion on the driver to choose one at the exclusion of the other between these two pedals, he has to choose according to his needs and decide on the right balance between them in order to ensure a safe and enjoyable driving experience. The Car Manufacturer has no say in how each person will drive the car that he has manufactured. It is the driver who is behind the steering wheel, not the Manufacturer. With all these things having been pre-manufactured or Pre-Ordained for him, the Driver still has Free Will how to drive it. Even when a car is used, or whether it is used at all is also not dictated by the manufacturer but is a matter entirely for the owner of the car. When a person gets behind the steering wheel, no manufacturer is forcing him to do so, therefore it is entirely up to that person when he turns the ignition on to decide which direction will he turn the steering wheel in and then further decide whether he wishes to drive on the road or to drive the car off a cliff, no compulsion here, just loads of Free Will.
Divine Will and Human Will work in much the same manner as the Games and Car Analogy. God the Creator has created the “Game of Life” having thought of, and therefore


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possessing the fore knowledge, all the various possibilities and has then written down the Programme of Life and Stored it on a Protected Tablet called the “Law-him-Mahfooz”. Having pre-programmed most comprehensively the entire parameters of the Game of Life, God has still left room for Free Will for human beings to play the game according to their own skills and abilities and will not question us about matters and events that were beyond the players’ capabilities. Criteria for Judgement has also been set by God and announced through various scriptures just like a computer games’ manual which may be updated or upgraded from time to time. Having set the Criteria for Judgement, God has left us, the players, Free to decide for ourselves how we measure up to that criteria, and just as in the Computer Games, there is no physical coercion by God. God also sets us many challenges, tests, trials and tribulations never physically conducting anyone on how to cope with them. How eventually some one will deal with disasters and calamities is entirely up to them. People use their Free Will and then shape their thinking and propensities by the nature of their inner self (Nafs) which then directs their responses to distressing situations.

Free Will that is Magnetically Attracted.
Let me illustrate this kind of Free Will by using a temporal example, and this is a case in point which very clearly manifests the Complex nature of Free Will. Imagine that you fall in love with the “heart” of a very gentle soul, and when I say love, I don’t mean the Romeo and Juliet type of “visible” love, but rather a highly dignified “inner” love. This may, in the first instance appear as an exercise of Free Will, because you may think that it is you who have chosen to fall in love with the other heart. But when you analyse the situation deeply, you are most likely to conclude, that you would not have done so had it not been because of the sheer exquisite “beauty” of that other heart. In this sense, it was the gorgeousity of that other heart that “drew” you towards itself and what you think was your Free Will was merely a flowing in that other hearts stream. Thus, was your Free Will really Free? or were you in a situation where it was beyond your volitional control and that you were merely allowing yourself to flow with the tide and be pulled by the magnetism of that other heart? Conversely, you may wonder why the beauty of that other heart chose you to draw towards it rather than just anybody. Was it not because you yourself possess some qualities that the beauty of that other heart found resonance with. A It takes one to know one sort of situation perhaps. A beautiful poetic couplet from the east says: The Eye of Divine Grace does not look at worldly robes It scans the heart instead, looking for sincerity of the seeker. I therefore suggest that this may be one way of viewing our relationship with God that, whilst we claim to use our God given gift of Free Will to choose to worship God is it not God’s Glorious Divinity and His Unbounded Grace that drew our attention in the first place, and if so, then are we really using our Free Will in moving towards Him or are we being pulled in God’s direction as a matter of reward and gift for thinking of Him. With a scenario such as above, we can begin to derive a definition of Free Will as some kind of a 7th sense present in some people and not present in others which enables us to be alive to recognize sheer beauty of God and then slip into the stream allowing ourselves to flow with the tide towards it.


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We were Created Once before.
There is an interesting Islamic Creed which holds that all creation with souls were created once before in another time and plane and assembled together before God who took a pledge asking “Am I not your Lord?” and everybody on that day acknowledged the Lordship of Allah by replying “Yes, indeed You are our Lord! Who cherishes and sustains us.13 Thereafter, when each one is Recreated for a life in this world for an appointed time, what makes some of us to go against this earlier pledge and recognition of Divinity of Allah and start to worship almost anything that glitters? But, since not everything that glitters is Gold, then those of us who have been blessed with “Gold Dust” like friendships will envelope themselves and their friends with Exclusivity. Binding with God in an exclusive way is some thing similar.

For Some Free Will is as natural as Breathing.
Let us now examine this phenomenon whereby we know that some people start associating partners with Allah by worshipping other people or things despite them having given the pledge in that earlier creation of recognizing His sole Lordship, it most probably was Free Will that caused them to arrogate themselves to disbelief. These non sensing non-perceptive people may use their self assumed thought process to move away from God. For these people, Free Will is a Poisoned Chalice from which their intellect drinks. But what about those who in this life on earth worship God as their Lord, are they also acting on Free Will? Or are they merely implementing and confirming their acknowledgement given earlier in that previous creation of assemblage. Based on the previous line of thought that they are drawn by the Grace of God, one could argue that to this second group belief in God is so natural that they don’t even notice it – rather like their breathing.

Divine Will as Hidden ForeKnowledge.
Whilst analysing the concept of Divine Will, there is a very interesting dimension of soome of the Divine Knowledge being hidden, which due to it’s very nature some times goes un-noticed. This is the concept of Hidden Divine Knowledge which is beyond human perception. It is said that the first thing that God Created was the Pen which was then instructed to write down all His knowledge of everything about everything. Not a leaf falls that is not in his knowledge nor is there a bearing by a womb that is not in his knowledge. It is then Allah’s prerogative to decide which part of His hidden knowledge He reveals to whom, when and how, which then gives rise to the term “Revealed Scriptures”. The parts of this knowledge that are not revealed or for whom the time for their revelation has not come as yet, is what we call Hidden Knowledge. As far as people are concerned, hidden knowledge about them comprise the choices that people will make, the decisions that they will arrive at, the courses of actions that they will embark on, the thoughts they will entertain be they expressed or concealed etc. all un-known to creatures but known to the Creator from before and recorded in the sacred tablet Lawhay Mahfooz, and it is this recorded form of knowledge about them that people mistakenly term as their Destiny as if it is God who has written it down for them as an ordainment, whereas God has merely recorded what He knows about them.


Quran 7:172


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Supplication (Dua’a in Arabic terminology) may, if approved by Allah (s.w.t.), become a cause for a change to occur in the information recorded about us. Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w.) said that when a servant supplicates to Allah, one of three things can happen. At the very lowest level, the suppliant is granted by Allah what ever he / she asked for, or at the next higher level, a misfortune that was heading his way is kept away from the suppliant, or at the very highest level a reward is reserved for him in the hereafter, and if people could perceive the supreme magnificence of “that” reward, they would not ask for anything in this life”

Divine Will defined as Forgiving:
Whilst God is aware even of our innermost thoughts whether we choose to reveal them or not. However, some times he checks us out through a question and answer episode which he then causes to be recorded and revealed through inspiration to Prophets who then pass it on to others as anecdotal guidance for the rest of humanity. This story is about a man who had lead a secret life of transgressions and indiscretions concealed even from his own family. When he was on his death bed he summoned his sons and asked them how had he been to them as a father? The sons were full of praise for him as their father. However, as he had lead this secret life in which he had committed major errors of judgement in his personal life, he instructed his sons that upon his death he should be incinerated and when the fire of his pier cools down, they should ground his ashes into a very fine powder, and on a windy day they should throw that into the air so that every tiny particle of his dust is spread as widely as possible. The sons did as they had been asked to do. However, God used the command of Be as a result of which his dust was put back together and he was re-created. God then asked him “Why did he have himself grounded to a fine powder in that manner?” to which the man answered: “Oh! Allah, I had it done, because I was afraid to come before you what with all the sins on my back” It is said that Allah (s.w.t.) was so pleased with this man’s feeling of remorse, that he forgave him and ordered a place reserved for him in paradise. But then, what role did Free Will played in this instance? The answer could be that, whilst this man had Free Will, he used that to commit Errors, indiscretions and sins, however, Free Will does not means a guarantee of full and complete knowledge of everything, and the knowledge that was hidden from this man was of God’s ALL Pervasive DESIRE to FORGIVE when some one strongly feels remorse about their errors and have a very strong sense of sincerity in repentance and a massive degree of being afraid of God and these are the people that God Forgives again and again as long as they keeping coming back to Him. Indeed, Allah (s.w.t.) has said that His Mercy preceeds His wrath. Above we saw a case where Divine Will Forgave on seeing remorse on the part of an offender. However, Divine Will can also forgive in cases where the person has not felt remorse over their sins but showed kindness towards a fellow creature simply out of the goodness of their heart, for instance, as a reward for kindness shown to an animal. This other story is about a woman of the night profession who, as you can imagine, lived a life time in sin. However, one day she saw a thirsty dog but she could not find any water to give it except a well nearby, where also there was no bucket. So, this woman went down the well and brought water in her shoe and gave it to the thirsty dog. The dog was still thirsty, so, she went down the well again and brought water up in her shoe giving it to the thirsty dog – she did this three or four times. And, just because of the act of kindness to a dog, God forgave all her sins and granted her forgiveness with a place in paradise for her.


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In another Prophetic Tradition, Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w.) said that “Allah is more pleased with a repentant servant, than would one of you be if you suddenly find your camel after having lost it in the desert. Thus, whilst such people use their Free Will to commit many errors, indiscretions and sins, their Free Will could not perceive the knowledge of God’s all pervasive powers to forgive depending on the inner feelings of sincerity of repentance, of remorse or even on a simple act of kindness to another creature. Thus amongst the many manifestations of Divine Will is included the definition of Divine Will as Forgiving. One of the 99 attributes of Allah recognized in Islam is that of “Ghafoor” i.e. one who Forgives, a deeper meaning of which is that one who Forgives not just once but Forgives again and again.

Free Will does Not Always Lead to Inner Knowledge.
There are many, and there will be many with PhD(s) but there have been very few Einsteines, Newtons, Abdus Sallams, and Neil Armstrongs, and this is because Free Will does not always leads to Inner Knowledge. We saw earlier the case of a man who had himself incinerated because he was afraid to face God however, his Free Will did not imbue him with the inner knowledge of God’s ability to Forgive. Let us now examine in some detail, some stories that illustrate this point.

Moses and his Guide Khidr:
Khidr(Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon Him) is described as one of the favoured servants of Allah who was blessed with knowledge. 14. Although not mentioned by name in the Quran, Prophetic statements and statements of latter day scholars have given indication of him by name and some even suggest that he had the rank of a Prophet The fact that knowledge had been taught to Khidr suggests that knowledge is not always concealed. There are methods other than by revelation through Angel Gibra’eel (Gabriel) that God can reveal knowledge to Prophets as well as to other chosen servants perhaps through intuition, premonition, de-jas-vous etc. the Arabic word for this way of Divine Communication is “Ahlaam” whereby God implants knowledge into the deep recesses of the minds of chosen ones. There has been a tradition of old that to acquire knowledge you seek the company of the knowledgeable observing every action of theirs minutely, this could be in the form of visiting them and staying with them or accompanying them on a journey. Khidr had become legendary for his knowledge and wisdom. So, Moses sought permission to accompany him on his travels with the objective of learning right conduct and wisdom.15 Khizr was a bit reluctant in the beginning as he was not sure if Moses had either the construct or the background knowledge to bear without questioning every experience that they might have on their travels. Thus whilst Moses had the Free Will in wanting to acquire knowledge from Khizr, possessing that did not avail him much in terms of deeper understanding of matters without the necessary background knowledge. Moses then sought permission from Khidr to accompany him with the view of learning right conduct and wisdom. Khidr was a bit reluctant at first because he felt that Moses
14 15

Quran 18:65 Quran 18:66


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may not be able to bear each experience with fortitude due to lack of Diviney Assigned back ground knowledge necessary to fully appreciate or understand each event. In this case we see that whilst Moses used the option of Free Will in seeking to accompany Khidr on his travels, application of this Free Will did not avail him much when it came to the acquisition of deeper knowledge often so necessary in understanding the context of events. Thus, human beings are gifted in one sense by the grant of the gift of Free Will, but the fruits accruing from the exercise of this gift may be limited till such time that God through Divine Will combines the gift of Free Will with a much superior gift of Knowledge of the unseen and the combination of these two gifts leads to a better understanding of events. Notwithstanding, Moses persisted in his request to Khidr to allow him to accompany him, promising not to query Khidr if he did not understand an event, saying, If Allah Wills he shall find him patient.16 Here, referring back to the Divine Will by the use of the words. “If Allah Wills….” Is quite significant as it illustrates 2 very important Principles, namely, (a) Human knowledge is limited to the extent that God allows it to occur, whilst God’s knowledge is aware also of the interplay of all other factors not usually privy to us. Therefore, we should not be making promises without making their outcome Conditional that Divine Will allowing that outcome to emerge. (b) Also, human beings should realise that if Divine Will withholds a success then we should not become despondent, and realise that we are just one spoke amongst the myriad of spokes that connect to the wheel of life, a life that concerns not just us but has to take into consideration all other creatures around us in order to strike a balance between occurances. Thus, occasionally, when Divine Will withholds something it could be for our own benefit which we may not be privileged to perceive. Therefore, we should view our successes and our failures too in the context of God’s overall Definitive Master Plan. Let us pick up the story of Moses and his Guide Khidr from the point where we left it last time when they were debating whether Moses was equipped to go on the journey. Moses tried to convince Khidr by assuring him that he would not question anymore about what Khidr did. Khidr laid steadfastly maintaining that he would explain his actions only at the end of their journey, and so, off they went together. They were sailing in a boat when the first of the incidents took place which horrified Moses. Khidr had drilled a hole in the bottom of the boat with the purpose of sinking it. As they scrambled to the shore, Moses demanded an explanation for what appeared to be a senseless act of wilful damage. Khidr reminded Moses about the condition for the journey which Moses had wilfully agreed. So, Moses had to swallow his utter perplexity. Next, they came upon a young lad whom Khidr immediately slew. The earlier feeling of horror revisited Moses, but he had to contain his anger because of the condition that they had agreed to for the journey. Thereafter, they reached a village where Khidr voluntarily built a wall without taking any payment for his labour. Moses was perplexed once again and wondered why Khidr did not charge anything for his services. This time Khidr decided that it was time for the parting of ways between them. Before they said goodbye to each other, Khidr explained the interpretation of the three incidents as follows:

1. For the incident of drilling of a hole into the boat, Khidr explained that there was
a usurper King on the land who would have taken the boat by force, and Khidr figured that by damaging the boat in that way he would render it useless to the


Quran 18:69


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King, but the poor people who owned the boat could repair it and continue to use it afterwards.

2. And as for the young lad he slew, Khidr was inspired by Allah to know that the
parents of that lad were believers, and so Khidr feared that because of the parents belief in God their rebellious son would persecute them and by slaying the rebellious son, Khidr had removed the danger for the believing parents in the hope that God will grant them another son who would be pious and caring towards the parents.

3. Regarding the building of a wall for which Khidr did not charge anything for his
labour explaining that beneath that spot where the wall was built, there was a buried treasure which belonged to two orphans youths, and by building a wall over that spot, Khizr had meant to conceal the spot of the buried treasure in the hope that when the youths came to age, that God out of His Mercy will guide them to their buried treasure. The moral of this anecdotal story is that we may often desire or wish for things or strive for some goal but we may not be aware of what factors lie beyond our imagination some of which may even harm us or nullify our aims and objectives. Thus, although we utilise our Free Will to aspire for some thing we may not realise that what lies beyond the pale of our limited human perceptions may not necessarily be a good thing for us. Divine Plans are some times implemented “Generations in Advance”. 1. Story of the birth of Her Holiness Mary. Let us recall the story when a woman from the Tribe headed by a person called Imran desired to have a child. She cried to her Lord, promising, as the tradition was in those days, to dedicate the first born “male child” to the service of God in the temple. However, contrary to her expectations, when she delivered, it turned out that the child was a “female”. She rhetorically expressed surprise to God stating that the child was a female? God knew best what she had delivered. The woman decided to name the child Mary craved Allah’s protection for that child and her progeny. Little did that woman from the tribe of Imran knew that the Divine plan worked out from 2 generations before was that, that female child would in turn give birth to a Holy Son by way of a Miracle with Allah’s Command to “Be” working in her resulting in the birth of the famous son Jesus. What we see here is that the unexpected female, whose gender was a surprise to the human will of her mother, was in perfect harmony with the overall Divine Plan, for when that female child grew up to be a lady, God sent down an Angel to give her the glad tidings of the birth of a pious son and thus came about his holiness Prophet Jesus son-of-Mary (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him).Divine will therefore on occasions operates over generations.17 Divine Will often works even in some of the “Most Inhospitable of Circumstances.” A very oppressive tyrant Pharaoh King was oppressing the people of the tribe of Israel and making their life miserable. When there seemed to be no hope at all for the people, right at the very heart of repression, Divine Will sprang and took hold. A belief that had taken hold amongst the oppressed people of the Tribe of Israel was, that within them, a son will be born who will grow up to be the cause of the destruction of the Tyrant King.

Quran 3: 35-36


Saeed AbdulRahim e: islamic_wisdom@yahoo.co.uk w: http://islamicwisdom7.wordpress.com/
The Omnipotence of Divine Will was so stunning that the child heralding the destruction of the King was actually brought up and raised right inside the palace under the supervision of the King’s own wife. This belief that was so prevalent amongst the people some how reached the ears of the King, fearing for his throne, the King ordered that all male children to be born amongst that tribe should be destroyed. This began to harm the Kingdom itself as masculine labour started to decline. To rectify this, the King ordered a reprieve, and ordered that the slaughter of male children should be implemented only every alternate year. There was one family, whose older son was spared because he was born during a year when the slaughter policy was under suspension, but then they had another son in the following year in which the policy of destruction of male children was back in operation. This second child was called Musa (Moses) whilst his elder brother born the year before was called Haroon (Aaron). Divine Will had planned It such that, the pregnancy of Moses’ mother went unnoticed as was the birth of the child. Another Historical pregnancy that went completely un-noticed was that of Her Holiness Mary. If the pregnancy of Moses’ mother was amazing because it went un-noticed for the full term, then the pregnancy of Her Holiness was a Miracle because that had lasted for only an hour, and an even bigger miracle was that it came about without the intervention of a man. Prophet Musa’s mother was inspired by ALLAH (swt) was to prepare a basket leaving it in the river that flowed near their home and to tether that to the house. This way, whenever the male child was at risk of being discovered, the mother would hide him by placing the child in the basket till such time that any danger had passed. One day, the basket got loose and flowed away with the river which distressed Moses’ mother tremendously. But, miracle of miracles...! Guess where the basket laded up? Right at the foothills of Kings’ palace. There it was picked up by the staff at the palace and then the basket with it’s most unusual cargo was presented to the Queen who was pleasantly surprised to find the cute little baby boy in the basket. Her motherly instincts quickly drew het to take a liking for the child. Thus it was Divine Will in the form of a plan that first inspired Moses’ mother to devise the method of the basket in the river and tether that to the house, and it was also Divine Will as part of that overall plan that caused that basket to come loose and land at the foothills of the very palace which was issuing orders for the slaughters.

MISUNDERSTOOD WORDS and TERMINOLOGY. Fatalist View IS that DESTINY is Written Down For Us. ? Fatalists state that they could not help it if they did some thing wrong, believing that whatever they did was “written down FOR them” and that they were forced by the Command of that Writing into doing that bad deed. Their misunderstanding arises probably due to the misinterpretation of the words “written down FOR them”. The fact of this matter is that Allah(s.w.t.) with His foreknowledge has written down information “of and about us” rather than information “For” us. Thus we are charged with the responsibility of making our own rational choices and taking our decisions using Free Will, and, depending on how we discharge this responsibility determines our ultimate fate. Even when God commands us to do good and avoid evil, He is not physically forcing us to obey his commandments, He leaves the doing to us.


Saeed AbdulRahim e: islamic_wisdom@yahoo.co.uk w: http://islamicwisdom7.wordpress.com/
What is however “written down” for us are God’s commandments through His various scriptures revealed to us from time to time through a succession of Prophets. Here also, Prophets are guides and warners not physical enforcers. They may lay down the law and enforce punishments under those laws but these will apply only to the people who “chose” to follow them.


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