|Kitab-ul-Taqdeer (Book of Destiny)|
It has been stated that, in the second phase of Allah’s creation schedule, His Amr became Law and the universe was created bound to follow it. Also, Allah Himself vowed to keep the LAW constant. This was a big leap in the creation schedule. Now, even a bigger leap came, That was creation of Man. Laws were established for Man, too, but he was not bound to follow them. He was given the freedom of ignoring them. Thus:
- i) An omnipotent Creator bounds Himself to His own laws,
- ii) The Universe is bound to follow His laws
- iii) Man is NOT bound to follow His laws.
Man’s Will and Choice:
Man has the freedom of choice - as opposed to the rest of the Universe which is bound and forced to obey Nature’s laws. The Quran says in (90/10): “ And We showed him two paths”. Also, (in 76/3): “We have guided him to the right path. It is upto him now to accept or reject it.” It is further elaborated in 18/29: “Tell that Right (has arrived) from your Preserver. It is upto you now to accept or reject it”. In Sura An.Najm, it says (53/39): Man can only get what he strives for.” Endeavor springs from Man’s will. Therefore, this point has been made several times in the
Quran. In Sura Bani Israel (17/18-20), it says: “Whoever endeavors to achieve the short-term benefits, get them, and We give the bounties of Future to whoever decides and strives for them. This is a universe of endeavor and We have not sealed our bounties closed.” Also, in 4/134: “Whoever decides to get short-term benefits (should know that) Allah has both short-term and long-term benefits. You’ll get whatever you work for” (Also in 25/62).
As shall be elaborated in the next chapter, ‘Return of Deeds’, Man is created responsible for all his actions which consequently bear results. The entire system of Reward & Punishment rests on Man’s being responsible for his actions. Responsibility has to come from freedom of choice. No freedom of choice, no responsibility. That’s why the Quran says (in 16/75-76) “The subjugated and the free can never be equal. Subsequently, one will be answerable only for actions committed out of free will (16/106). Also (in 33/5): “you won’t be held answerable for (an unintentional) mistake - only for one which you make with your heart’s intention”. The same principle lies under the normal judicial law which distinguishes between intentional (cold-blooded) and unintentional (warm-blooded or accidental) murder, proposing different punishments for them (4/92-93).
Story of Man - Free Will and Enforcement
The Quran has resolved the problem of Freedom & Compulsion through the figurative story of Man. Both Man and Iblis (Devil) were given a command each. Both sinned (disobeyed the command). When Adam (Man) was asked to explain; he responded with a regretful “O our Allah, we have done ourselves harm” (7/23). That is, Adam, by regreting and confessing to the disobedience, admitted the responsibility for the action. This gave him a chance of redemption. He was told not to worry (in 2/38): “ I will be giving guidance to you. Whoever follows it will become free of fear and grief”. This is the potential of regaining the lost Paradise. The Quran calls it ‘repentance to reform after having erred’ (16/119).
On the contrary, Iblis responded by blaming Allah for his action, citing his own lack of free will (7/16 and 15/39). Because he did not assume responsibility, Iblis had no chances of reform (15/34) and was reviled (7/18). He was ‘destined’ to eternal frustration (Iblis literally means frustrated). One who considers himself bound cannot improve his lot and remains frustrated for ever.
The Way of Infidels and Polytheists
The Quran says that the Devilish (Iblis) attitude of “I would not have sinned if You (Allah) had not wished so” is the line always taken by infidels and polytheists. They attribute their way of life to Allah’s will -- ‘we are what we are because Allah wills so’. As it is said in Sura An’aam: “When you question their (erroneous) way of life, the polytheists will say - ‘It is Allah’s will that we are, and our ancestors were, polytheists” (6/149). Allah rebuts that statement with: “Whatever you say (and follow) is nothing but pure conjecture (and ignorance)”. In Sura Zakhraf, it says that when you (the Prophet) question them, they say: ‘We would never have prayed to these idols if God did not will it”. Allah said, “this is just ignorance. They are nothing but conjectures.” (43/20). Sura Yaseen reports that when the rich are asked to let their wealth flown down to the poor, the infidels reply: ‘How can we enrich those who are poor by Allah’s will?”. The Quran’s response to that is : “surely, you are in grave ignorance!” (36/47).
Please pause here for a moment and think about our routine utterances like: ‘This is what Allah wanted’, or ‘It would never have happened if He didn’t want it’, or ‘Whatever takes place in this world is according to Allah’s will. Man cannot intervene in it. In fact, one who recites phrases like ‘Allah’s will is paramount’ and poetry like ‘Please don’t pray for my well-being as it may be against Allah’s will (by Hasrat Mohaany)’ is considered to be most Allah-loving. Please think what the Quran says about this attitude. I am confident of the powers of my reader’s intellect. Therefore, I leave it to you to ponder over.
Man’s Will in Man’s World
The Quran states that the infidels and polytheists (following Iblis) say that God’s will controls all events in Man’s world. But Allah says to men: “Do whatever you will” (41/40).
Restricted in choice But this (41/40) goes further. It says: “Do whatever you wish. Surely, whatever you do (will bear a result, as it) is watched by Him”. That is: your are free to do whatever you wish but not free to alter the natural result of that action. You can’t follow path A and expect to end up at the other end of path B. (or you can’t swallow a pinch of poison and expect it to behave like a lump of sugar. Every action has a set reaction. You can initiate and trigger a law which then follows its natural course.
Actions and Results
This is illustrated in the Quran at various places - Sura Bani Israel says: “When they disgraced, Allah (‘s Law of Return of Deeds) twisted their hearts,” (61/5). They (the children of Israel) were told that if they followed the last messenger of Allah, they would be absolved of their miserable life, but: ‘ If you return (to your previous attitude), We will (also) return (to giving you the same miserable life once again) (17/8). Allah’s law is: “Whoever turns away (from Him), is turned away” (51/9). Sura Tauba reports: “When they turned away, Allah turned their hearts away” (9/127). Sura An-Nisa reports that whoever chooses to turn to other than the Prophet & the convinced, “We group them together”. (4/115). Contrarily, you remember Me, I remember you” (2/152), and “You help Me, I help you” (47/7).
This has so beautifully represented by Iqbal as:
State of Nations
The Quran also tells us that the Law affecting individuals is also applicable to nations (groups of people) to bring about a change in their ‘destiny’. That means that a nation can alter its state according to the change it brings about in its psyche (13/11 and 8/53). In other words, just like individuals, nations are also bound by Allah’s laws of their rise and fall, revival and extinction i.e., whatever a nation does, it produces a result pre-determined by the eternal laws of Nature. This point shall be elaborated in chapter six dealing with rise and fall of nations.
Further explanation of the term ‘Taqdeer’
Please recall what has been said so far about the meaning of the term ‘taqdeer’. As reminder, Sura An’aam reports: “Allah made night for rest and the sun and the moon for calculation (of time). This the taqdeer (destiny) of the Powerful and Knowledgeable Allah,” 6/97). In other words, this is Allah’s law. Similarly, Sura Yaseen reports: “And the sun is on course to its station. This the Powerful and Knowledgeable Allah’s taqdeer,” (36/38). Elsewhere, it says: “And We decorated the world’s sky with bright lamps (stars), and provided you protection through them. This the Powerful and Knowledgeable Allah’s taqdeer,” (41/12). Sura Furqaan reports: “He created all things and then determined taqdeer for them,” (25/2). Obviously, taqdeer means Nature’s laws. Again, Sura AdDahr reports: These goblets will be made of (brilliant) silver and made to special taqdeer (measures),” (76/16).
It should be evident by now that the term ‘taqdeer’ means measures, standards, or laws of Nature running the Universe. Clearly, this is in stark contradiction to the interpretation of the term (under use in Urdu) in the sub-continent of India & Pakistan, viz-a-viz Man’s taqdeer (destiny). Taqdeer, in the Quranic sense, is nothing but Allah’s laws. Therefore, as far as Man is concerned, we say that:
Taqdeer (destiny) is Nature’s law which becomes functional according to the action taken by Man.
For instance, the ‘taqdeer’ of a person who puts a hand in fire is burning. When that burn is treated with a balm, soothing becomes its taqdeer. Iqbal represented it thus:
Omar Farooq’s Illustration
This point is illustrated by a story about Omar (the Second Caliph). When plague broke out, he suggested moving out of the town to a nearby forest. Abu Obaida commented, “You are trying to escape Allah’s law?”. “Yes”, Omar replied, “I am escaping from His (one) law to His (other) law,”. If one stays in a plague-infected area, death comes according to God’s taqdeer (law). But, if one leaves the epidemic-affected environment for cleaner, safer ground, death is avoided according to Allah’s ‘taqdeer’ (law). The choice between the two ‘taqdeers (laws) is entirely Man’s own. Iqbal says:
Therefore, the strong-willed choose their actions in the light of their ‘taqdeer’ (pre-determined results) but the weak become subject to changes in their situation - they are just like vegetation. That, then, is the Quranic meaning of taqdeer.
How did this all change?
A little further in the book, I shall deal with the problem of this shift in view when I shall elaborate upon the causes of the Quranic System (Din) obliterating into Religion (Mazhab). This shift changed the law-enforcing Allah into an absolute dictator and the free-willed Man became a prisoner of ‘taqdeer’. The religious leaders (priests) assumed the guardianship of the jail!.
Belief of Enforcement
The supporters of ‘Mazhab’ (as against ‘Din’) seek to substantiate their views of Enforcement (a bound Man as against free-willed) with certain Quranic verses. Before I deal with it at length later on in the book, I shall now briefly present the argument in principle. They present verses like: “Not a person knows what he (or she) will do tomorrow...” (31/34), and “No one knows the location of one’s death”... (18/24); also, Allah says about Himself: “He knows about their (of people) present and future” (2/255). The conclusion drawn from all this is: If Man is free-willed, it shouldn’t be difficult for him to determine what he will do tomorrow. This verse can hold good only if Man is bound.
This argument has a basic flaw. Man is surely free-willed. But, his freedom is not limitless. It is dependent on various factors beyond his control and/or knowledge. He does not have complete control over his environment and, more importantly so, neither over his fellow men’s actions. Man can be more certain about the physical universe around him when and if his knowledge of it progresses, but he cannot be certain of other (free-willed) men’s actions. In toady’s world, the political change in a super-power (country like the US), affects the entire globe. Therefore, Man, unlike the Sun or the Moon, cannot foretell with certainty the actions he will take in future. Man can only decide his actions in the light of his situation, considering the various factors in play, only upto a point within the boundaries of human capabilities.
Another part of the argument is Allah’s knowledge of people’s future as well as present. It is erroneously concluded that Allah can know Man’s future only if the future is pre-determined - future of a free-willed creation cannot be predicted.
This conclusion has a basic flaw. The question of Allah’s knowledge is linked with the problem of TIME (a very complex philosophic question likes of which I have not set myself to deal with, as mentioned in the preface). Simply, put there is a basic difference between Allah’s knowledge and that of Man. The Quran cites the division of ‘Earth time’ into ‘day and night’ as among His great signs; also mentions the Sun and the Moon as instruments of calculation of time. This ‘time’ splits, for us earthly beings, into past, present and future. In the absolute sense, however these divisions of time do not exist. We lose all sense of time in sleep. As Bergson says: past, present and future are simply knots of human convenience on the thread of time. Time to Allah is an indivisible whole and, in Iqbal’s word, an ‘eternal now’. Since we humans are incapable of perceiving this as an indivisible whole, no example may explain it. However, one may try to explain it, to a limited extent, with reference to SPACE. Sitting inside a house we have no knowledge of the events outside (invisible). But, for someone on the roof of the building, those events are visible. Allah is, in the Quranic words, “Knower of the visible as well as the invisible, i.e., what is invisible to Man is visible to Allah.
As mentioned above, humans cannot rise above the ‘divisible time’. We can only become unaware of it during loss of conscious (sleep or coma). As Ghalib puts it wonderfully:
Allah, however, undergoes no loss of consciousness. He is above all this. Therefore, TIME for Him is one continuous Present.
In simpler words, then, Man is capable of exercising his free will to change his decisions. Allah knows what decisions Man is going to take. Therefore, Man does not know his own future actions whereas Allah does (know man’s future actions).
Predictions and Prophecies are Pure Conjecture
Therefore, it is erroneous to believe that anyone’s future may be predictable. One can’t predict the next spot a common fly is going to settle at, let alone the actions of a free-willed man. Iqbal says:
Fortune- Tellers & Astrologers
The Quran tells us that, during Man’s early (ignorant) days, astrologers and fortune-tellers used to hoodwink people into believing that the future was predictable. But, at the time of the Quran’s revelation - when Man was becoming of age - such people will be ‘flogged with lightening hunters” (72/8-9).
‘Din’ Transformed into Religion
That was when Islam was still ‘Din’. After its transformation into a religion, the Muslim world also saw the emergence of these prophets, fortune-tellers and astrologers. The free-willed Man, who was expected to carve his own destiny, sunk to having his future read by palmists. Iqbal put it thus: