Question: in Islamic beliefs, is there a place for human accountability? If so, what does human accountability mean or entail in light of the doctrine of predestination?
Answer: Accountability is connected to the voluntary acts that one performs every day. These acts, however, while performed by us with our bodies and minds, are predestined and created by Allah.
It must be kept in mind that Allah could have created me and you in the Hellfire to begin with, without any actions from our side. This would be mere torture, and not punishment. As a grace to us, He did not do that, but created us in this world and gave us rules to follow. He has willed for some of us to follow and some of us not, as you can observe. Those that follow are rewarded with pleasure in Paradise, while those who do not will be tortured, unless they are forgiven. Being forgiven happens only if one believed prior to death that there is only one god and that Muhammad is his Prophet and Messenger.
Torture in the next life correlating with voluntary acts of disobedience to Allah in this life is called punishment, unlike the imaginary case of someone being created in the Hellfire to begin with, which is just torture, and not punishment. There are many articles on predestination and justice that you can peruse, and I won’t repeat it all here. One article is this one.
Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji