What is Fate and What is Destiny in Islam
Let me ask you a question.
When you woke up this morning, did you know you would be reading this article?
Most likely you did not. Most likely you made a random set of choices that led you to this page. In a small sense, those choices you made, brought forth your destiny which was reading this page.
However, it is your freewill to continue reading. You have the choice to stop reading now and do something else. Whatever you decide to do, will effect your destiny.
Many people, Muslims included, are confused about fate and destiny. They are not sure how much free will they really have. They are not certain if they have the freedom to make their own choices, or if Allah has forced them upon a certain path.
I always believe the best way to tackle any problem is to start with the basics. So first, let’s lay some groundwork.
Here are a few things you should keep in mind.
- Allah is the creator of all things, including our actions.
- Belief in Allah’s power, knowledge and control of all things is one of the six articles of faith in Islam. This is called Qadar, loosely translated as Divine Destiny.
- A person has the freedom, the choice, to do as he/she wants.
- We have no control over the outcome of those choices.
- The outcome of these choices is our destiny. Only Allah knows what this destiny is.
Do You Control Your Destiny? Or Are You A Slave To Fate?
For example, say for instance you decide to go into business for yourself. You do all the necessary research. You consult others in the field. You draw up a sound business plan and line up multiple investors. You do everything possible to ensure that your business is a success.
Does any of this guarantee that your business will be successful? Not at all. The economy may falter. You may have miscalculated certain expenses. A natural disaster might wipe out everything you own. There are innumerable occurrences that could adversely effect your business.
It is vital to the Muslim’s belief that we understand this concept. After all, the word Muslim means “one who submits to the will of Allah.” By accepting Allah’s power, knowledge and control of our destiny, we learn to submit to what He has prescribed for us.
Belief in Qadar, divine destiny, prevents us from becoming too boastful or too despondent. When tragedy strikes us, we must understand that it is the will of Allah, for it to happen. That way, we learn to accept it with patience and humility rather than despair and frustration.
Of course, one may become saddened or upset about unfortunate events in their life. We are only human and it is natural to react a certain way with tragedy befalls us. However, the Muslim understands that no matter how difficult said tragedy is, it was within the will of Allah, and we cannot let it paralyze us.
And if something good happens to us, belief in Qadar will prevent us from becoming too boastful or arrogant. Many successful people believe that they have attained their wealth and status because they are inherently better than others. Or that they are smarter, wiser, stronger, or just more deserving of success than others.
The truth is, they have no control over their success. They may have made certain choices, but it is Allah that made those choices work out well for them. If they had control over their success, then they should be able to control every aspect of their life and never face any sort of adversity. But the reality is that even the most successful individuals face some hardships at some point in their life.
Man may choose a certain path. But it is Allah’s will that controls what destiny that path will lead them.
Fate And Destiny According To The Quran And Sunnah
It is also important to understand that Allah has knowledge over all things. Allah knows what will happen to us before we do. Allah knows the outcome of all of our decisions. And Allah has stated in His book, the Holy Quran, that everything that will happen throughout all creation was already written.
Surah Al-Hadid (The Chapter of Iron) verse 22 states:
“No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but it is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (Al Lawh Al Mahfooz) before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah.”
And Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) has stated:
“Allah wrote down the decrees of creation fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and the earth.”
From these two statements, we understand that Allah has written all things in a Book of Decrees known in Arabic as Al-Lawh Al-Mahfooz, and that this was done 50000 years before He created the heavens and earth.
This does not mean that we are forced to walk upon a certain path, or that we have no freewill. This only means that Allah is already well aware of all actions that we will take, and the outcome of those actions.
At the same time, whatever we choose to do is governed by the will of Allah. If Allah does not will for something to take place, then it will not happen no matter how hard we try. And if He wills for something to happen, it will take place no matter what we do to stop it.
Muslims must believe in destiny, or more accurately, Divine Destiny (Qadar). But we should not believe in Fate. Fate is defined as: “an event (or a course of events) that will inevitably happen in the future.”
Nothing is inevitable as Allah has control over all things. And Allah controls the Divine Destiny. People who accept fate, or that certain things are inevitable, are fatalists, and tend to leave things to whim.
But a Muslim who believes in Qadar (Divine Destiny) will try to live according to the laws of Islam, pray to Allah for guidance when making decisions (Istikhaarah), and put their best effort forward in everything they do. Then, they leave the outcome of these actions to Allah and accept whatever He has decreed.
In summary, Muslim beliefs in Qadar (Divine Destiny) is made up of four things:
- Understanding that Allah’s knowledge encompasses all of creation and He knows everything that His creation will do. Even before they do.
- Believing that Allah has written all that has happen in the Book of Decrees (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfooz).
- Accepting that whatever Allah decrees will take place, and whatever He does not will, does not take place.
- Knowing that Allah has created all things, including the actions of His creation.
Accepting Allah’s Qadar (Divine Destiny) will lead us to a more satisfying and productive life, Inshallah.
And Allah knows best.
For further clarification of this subject, please read the next post in this series: Fate and Destiny Revisited