The Recording Of Allah’s Knowledge
We’re going to discuss the second level of belief in Qadr, predestination. This is part of the series on Fate and Destiny in Islam.
- Belief in Allah’s knowledge.
- Belief in the writing or recording of that knowledge.
- Belief in Allah’s will.
- Belief that Allah is the creator of everything.
In the previous article, we learned that Allah’s knowledge is complete and encompasses everything. Nothing escapes His knowledge.
- He knows that which has happened, that which is happening, and that which will happen.
- He knows the major things that happen.
- He knows the small things that happen, to the extent that He even knows when a leaf falls from a tree.
The next level is belief in the writing of Allah’s knowledge. That is, that everything that is to take place throughout the universe has been written thousands of years before the creation of the universe.
The first thing which Allah created was the pen. Then, He said to it: Write. It asked: My Lord, what should I write? He said: Write the proportions of all things up until the Hour.
Narrated in At-Tirmidhi.
The recording of everything that will happen symbolizes the finality of all that will occur in the universe. That is, nothing can change this recorded knowledge. It is in a permanent record and cannot be altered.
There are different levels to this writing or recording. Understanding each level of writing will help us better understand Qadr (destiny) as a whole, Inshallah.
The Preserved Tablet
The first level of the recording of Allah’s knowledge is the preserved tablet, which was alluded to in the hadith above. When Allah ordered the pen to write, it wrote all that would happen in this preserved tablet.
As mentioned, this recording is permanent and fixed; it cannot be changed.
No disaster strikes upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before We bring it into being – indeed that, for Allah , is easy. In order that you not despair over what has eluded you and not exult [in pride] over what He has given you. And Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.
Chapter 57, verses 22-23.
To some, this may sound as if we do not have any choice about what we do. This may sound as if Allah has forced us to do certain things and then we’ll be punished or rewarded for being forced to do these things.
But in fact, Allah has given us the choice to make our own decisions. This is both logical and obvious. You certainly can make the choice to pray or not to pray.
You make conscious decisions everyday. You have little if any control over the outcome of those decisions. But you definitely make them using your own powers of deduction and choice.
However, you should know that Allah is well aware of everything you’re going to do and it has all been recorded. It does not mean that the choice has been made for you; just that your choice is known to Allah (even before it’s know to you) and it has been recorded.
2. The Decree of Life
The decree of life is made when the individual is still in the womb of his or her mother. This is the decree that determines the following things for that person:
- His sustenance and wealth.
- How long he or she will live.
- The deeds he or she will do.
- Whether he or she will be miserable or successful.
The proof for the writing of this decree comes from the following hadith and several others like it:
“Verily, each one of you is formed in his mother’s womb forty days as a drop, then he is something suspended for a similar period, then he is a piece of flesh like a chewed piece of meat for another period of forty days, then the angel is sent to insert the soul. This angel is ordered to record four things: the sustenance which he will receive during his lifetime, the length of his life, all actions that he will do, and whether he will end up miserable (in hell) or joyous (in paradise). I swear by the One other than whom there is no deity, one of you may do the works of the people of paradise right up until there is only an arm’s length between him and paradise, but his destiny overtakes him, so he does the actions of the poeple of the fire and enters it. And, verily, one of you may do the works of the people of hell until there is nothing between them and hell except for one arm’s length, but his destiny overtakes him, and so he does the works of the people of paradise, and enters it.”
Sahih Muslim, Book 33, 6390
This hadith may make you think that once again, you have no control over your actions. In fact, you do have that choice.
If it is easier for you to do good deeds, then you will do more good deeds and be successful in the next life.
But if it is easier for you to do evil deeds, then you will do more evil deeds and will be amongst those who are doomed.
It is also incorrect to think that a person will devoutly do good deeds throughout his life and suddenly, because of this decree, begin doing bad deeds and wind up in hell.
If a person was doing good deeds and suddenly does evil deeds, then there must have been a flaw somewhere in his or her faith.
Perhaps they were doing the good deeds for show or to gain praise. Perhaps they were not doing the good deeds according to the method taught by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) thus their deeds were devoid of good.
This is a reminder to make sure that all good deeds are done according to the following formula:
- First, they are done for the pleasure of Allah.
- Second, that they are done according to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
3. The Yearly Decree
This decree is made every year on Laylatul Qadr, The Night of Power.
On the Night of Power, the decree for the following year is sent down. This fact is proven in two different chapters in the Quran.
By the manifest Book that makes things clear. We sent it down on a blessed night. Verily, We are ever warning. Therein (that night) is decreed every matter with wisdom.
Chapter 4, verses 1-4.
Therein descend the Angels and the Spirit with the permission of their Lord, with every matter.
Chapter 97, verse 4.
4. The Daily Decree
This is the decree that is determined on a daily basis. The proof for this decree is in Surah Ar-Rahman.
Whoever is within the heavens and earth asks Him; every day He is bringing about a matter.
Chapter 55, verse 29.
How To Understand the Recording Of Allah’s Knowledge
Consider the following hadith:
Nothing can avert the decree of Allah except supplication…
Dua is beneficial regarding calamities that have fallen and calamities that have not fallen. So, servants of Allah, devote yourself to dua.
Narrated in Tirmidhi.
What is the point, you may ask, of making dua or supplication, if the decree of Allah has already been written.
And doesn’t it seem that this hadith contradicts the verses of the Quran that were mentioned above?
Just understand that nothing can change the recording in the Preserved Tablet. That is permanent.
But say for instance that in your yearly or daily decree, you were to be involved in a horrible accident that would have left you crippled.
On the day that this calamity was supposed to befall you, you made the dua for Allah to protect you while in the vehicle.
If made with sincerity and if accepted by Allah, this dua will then go forward and meet that calamity before it falls upon you.
Perhaps your car will break down preventing you from going on your trip.
Or perhaps you’ll get stuck in traffic, and unknowingly be saved from the calamity.
What seemed bad to you (your car breaking down or getting stuck in traffic), was actually a good thing yet you may never know it.
Which is why you should be patient when things go wrong in life. You should not curse or get upset when your car breaks down or any other misfortune happens.
It may very well be that it happened in order to protect you from an even greater disaster.
So when something bad happens to you, put your trust in Allah and be patient.
And remember that what ultimately happens to you, was already recorded in the Preserved Tablet.
And Allah knows best.