Q & A: Someone asked, “Is there a place for human accountability in Islamic beliefs?

June 12, 2008

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

Answers regarding the issue of predestination

June 11, 2008

A long answer to several arguments against predestination have been posted as a comment here.

Q & A: Someone asked, “Is it just for Allah to make one a Muslim and reward him and one a Hindu and punish him?”

June 2, 2008

Rashid wrote: Consider this. A person is born in a purely Islamic environment, he has been taught Islam from the very start of his life and he has been brought up in the same atmosphere. There is another person who is born in a pure Hindu/Christian environment (say in a pandit’s home), he has been taught Hinduism/Christianity from the very start of his life and he has been brought up in the same atmosphere.

Now, there are people who argue that it is in the psychology of a person that it is very difficult for him to deny and take a stand against something he has been believing from his childhood. And it is also a fact that there are greater number of born Muslims than revert Muslims similarly there are a greater number of born Hindus/Christians than converts. If this is the case, the Hindu/Christian is put into hell for eternity and Muslim into Heaven for eternity, if they die with the same faith. Is this justice with both of them? What was the fault of Hindu/Christian for not being born in an Islamic environment and what had the Muslim done for he got such a big prize!

Answer: Al-Bukhari narrated through Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said: “Your deeds will not put you in Paradise.” They asked: “Not even for you, O Messenger of Allah?” He answered: “No, not even for me,
except that Allah will cover me with grace and mercy.” (Şahih Al-Bukhaariy No 5349, 5/2147; `Umdat-al-Qaari 21/227)

What this means is that Allah is not obliged to do anything, and thatyour deeds do not influence Allah. Good deeds do not earn you the right to go to Paradise; it is a grace from Allah to enter. It means also that if you do not do good deeds, then this indicates that Allah has not willed good for you, and this is a sign that you are heading for loss in the Hereafter. For some people He has made it easier to do good than others. For some people he has created the ability to overcome difficult obstacles to do good, others not. Aļļaah has created some people to go to Hell, and some to go to Paradise. This is not injustice, for Allah does not have a creator or a judge that He is accountable to, and what He creates is fully His to do with as He wills. Allah said:

لا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُون
Meaning: “He is not asked about what He does to creation, but the creation is asked.” (Al-Anbiya, 23).

I have mentioned it elsewhere, but it is useful to recount the debate between Al-Qadi `Abdul Jabbaar of the Mu`tazilite sect, and the great Imam of the Sunnis of the time, Abu Ishaq Al-Isfaraayini . When the two met, `AbdulJabbaar said, “Exalted is Allah, who transcends the obscene.” (While this is a sound expression, what he meant to say was that Allah does not create evil. This is blasphemous, because Muslims must believe that Allah is the only creator, as it is stated in the Quran that He created everything, and that no one wills anything except by His Will.)

Imam Al- Isfaraayini (418 AH) realized what he had implied and responded, “Exalted is Allah, who nothing happens in His dominion but by His Will.” The Mu`tazilite then made another attempt and said, “Does our Lord like to be disobeyed?” Al-Isfaraayini quickly replied, “Could He be disobeyed against His Will?” Upon that `Abdul Jabbaar tried again to defeat his adversary and said, “If God denied me guidance, then ruled that I be destroyed for it, has He treated me fairly?” Al-Isfaraayini calmly answered, “If He denied you something that was yours, then He would have been unfair, but if it was not rightfully yours, then Allah does with His creation what He wills.” `Abdul Jabbaar fell silent, and could not argue further. After all, Allah is the true owner of all creation. (V.4/ P. 261-262. Tabaqaat-al-Shafi`iyyat-al-Kubra).

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji

Qadari Contenion: Allah does not control our actions

May 14, 2008

Qadari Contention: Allah, of course, created all from the beginning and actively sustains that creation. But that does not mean that He controls the creation as if it were a robot or a mechanical toy.

Sunni Response: You are drawing an analogy between the Creator and the created. This is one of the principles of the Mu`tazila in these issues. In any case, a robot or a mechanical toy is different from a human in many ways, such as having a feeling of self, and a created perception of free choice. You can build all the robots you like, but these things will always be missing. About this issue, At-Tahaawi said {in brackets}:

{The reality of predestination is a secret of Allah pertaining to His creation. Neither a favored angel, nor a prophet sent has ever been given knowledge of it.} This is because predestination is not something observable, and only Allah has complete knowledge of what is not observable. {To become deeply absolved in and pondering about this} matter of the reality of predestination {is a means to failure} in religion, {a ladder to deprivation and a staircase to transgression} against what Allah has prescribed. {So beware, beware} and avoid this {by} busying yourself with {pondering, thinking and} even {random ideas,} concerning other matters, {for verily Allah has hidden the knowledge of} the reality of {predestination from mankind, and forbade them from seeking it. As Allah said in his book:

لا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُونَ

Meaning: “Allah is not questioned about what He does, but the created beings are.”(Al-‘Anbiyaa’, 23) {So whoever asked} in scorn or objection, {“Why did He do that?” has rejected the judgment of the Book} of the Quran {and whoever rejects the judgment of the Book has become a blasphemer.}

Authored by Shaikh Abu Adam al Naruiji

Qadari Contention: Human will is not pre-destined because there are many verses and hadiths to that effect

May 12, 2008

Qadari Contention: Many verses and hadiths state that humans are responsible and act according to what is inside of them, which means that human will is not predestined. An example:

Say: (It is) the truth is from your Lord. Then whomsoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve.” 18:29

Sunni Response: None of these statements conflict with the fact that Allah has created all acts and predestined them. None of them say that the will and action of creation is not created by Allah, and it is made even clearer as follows:

The statement “Then whomsoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve.” If this is indeed the meaning of the aayah, is a threat, and not an order or a permission. This is the saying of the linguist Az-Zajjaaj. Another interpretation is that the belief and blasphemy of creation does not benefit or harm Allah. Yet another saying of the scholars is that it means Then whomsoever Allah wills, let him believe, and whosoever Allah wills, let him disbelieve.” In any case, if the first interpretation is meant, then this simply means that the human being has the created ability to choose to commit the forbidden blasphemy, or the obligated belief. This presumed ability however is created by Allah and according to His Will, just as the actual choice made in the end. In this regard, it is mentioned in tafsiir books that when this was revealed:

إِنْ هُوَ إِلا ذِكْرٌ لِلْعَالَمِينَ * لِمَنْ شَاءَ مِنْكُمْ أَنْ يَسْتَقِيمَ

Meaning: “Verily this is a warning to the worlds, so the one who wills will take the path of fearing and obeying Aļļaah” (Al-Takwiir, 27-28).

…then the idolaters said, “so it is up to us, if we want, we will.” So Allah revealed:

وَمَا تَشَاءُونَ إِلا أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Meaning: “You do not will anything unless Allah has willed it.”

Note that you cannot separate between Allah’s Will and His Creating, because Allah said:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

The conclusion is that humans have a choice and a will, but their choices and will are creations of Allah. The difference between this and being forced is the difference between what we feel are voluntary acts, such as standing up to walk into another room, and involuntary acts, such as sleepwalking. We are accountable for the former, but not the latter.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji