|Kitab-ul-Taqdeer (Book of Destiny)|
The question of Destiny (1) - be it religion or philosophy - is considered to be the most difficult, complex and unexplained. The great deal that has been written on this problem has not only been unable to solve it, but also it leaves one ever more confused. After having published Jahane-Farda (2) - the last volume of my Ma’aareful Quran series (3) (the voluminous and extensive Lughatul Quran (4) and Mafhoomul-Quran (5) ) - I saw as having completed a large part of my sacred mission of promoting & publicizing the Quranic thought. I was looking forward to devoting the rest of my days to compiling & editing Tabweebul Quran.(6) But, I noticed that nearly 90% of the queries received to seek further explanation of the Quranic teachings dealt - directly or indirectly - with the problem of destiny. Such questions, nay objections, were mostly from the young. Briefly, they said that a religion which proclaims that Man’s destiny is pre-determined and unchangeable, cannot be an effective tool in a competitive life and world. Others, who had started pondering over the Quran, found several contradictions in it. For example, they said, it (the Quran) says that it is Man’s choice to pick the right or wrong path of life. Yet, at other places, it says Man has no choice in the matter since righteousness is given by Allah alone. Such queries and objections made me see as inadequate whatever I had already written on the subject. Since it is scattered in various books, I felt a special treatise was needed to answer this enigma. Otherwise, all my efforts to get the educated young interested in the Quran would be rendered futile. They could even grow distrustful of Din (7) (Islam). That has been the promoting force behind this treatise you have in your hands.
The Quran has clearly, and satisfactorily, explained this most complex problem like it has so eloquently, yet simply, dealt with other problems regarding human life and the universe. But, it requires a deep study of the Quran, for which one must consider the following:
1. Normally, a book deals with one subject and is divided into chapters. Each chapter deals with one particular aspect of the subject and is self-contained. All chapters chain the various aspects together to give a coherent view of the subject. The Quran has a different style. It deals - not with one subject - but with crucial problems of human existence and those of the universe at large. Obviously, a book of normal proportions, when dealing with such complex and numerous issues, just cannot discuss them in detail. Therefore, it has dealt in great detail, with the issues of human life but only touches upon the realities of the universe and human existence. It expects Man to discover the secrets of the universe. Also, the Quran does not deal with a topic fully at one time. Instead, it spreads it throughout the book through its method of repetition (tasreef-e-ayaat), - the principle, the explanation of it, illustration through examples, the exception(s) - all sprinkled all over. It is out of scope of the book you are reading to explain this particular style of the Quran and its aptness in its role of a complete and permanent eternal code of life for all mankind for ever to come. For the moment, it is suffice to state that the best approach to comprehend the Quran is to keep in view all the relevant verses throghout the book about a particular question. Isolated verses do not, and cannot, present a true picture. That has been my own approach, and, on this very basis, after a life-long toil, have managed to compile my ‘Lughaatul Quran’ and ‘Mafhoomul Quran’. In this book, too, I have adopted the same technique.
2. Another obstacle in the way of understanding the Quranic teaching is the traditional approach of translation. The fact of the matter is that the Quran cannot be translated into any language. This is true, though amazing. No other language has the vocabulary synonymous with the Quran. I have dealt with it in detail in the introductory chapter to ‘Mafhoomul Quran’. Those interested may well read it there to discover that the fact of the Quranic ‘untranslatability’ (being untranslatable) has been acknowledged by Muslim as well as non-Muslim scholars. The Quran can be interpreted but not translated. This very fact prompted me to author ‘Mafhoomul Quran’ which, thanks to Allah, has been very well received with a wide-spread voluntary acclaim that it has helped tremendously in comprehending the Quran.
In this book I have quoted the Quranic verses (8) in the following manner: ‘this verse is traditionally translated like this, but its interpretation is ...’ . This is not to say that the translation is erroneous. The question of err does not arise in an untranslatable situation. For example, verse 93, Sura (9) 16 is translated thus: “Allah misleads whosoever He wishes and guides whosoever He wishes.” The same mode of translation can be found in all publications - even when it is translated into Arabic! Nonetheless, a careful look, in the light of the principle of ‘tasreef-e-ayat’ mentioned above, reveals that this translation conveys an erroneous - rather opposing - view of the Quranic teachings in this regard. Therefore, “ من يشاء “ must be correctly interpreted in view of various Quranic verses in this connection before this particular verse can be understood. This is the approach I have taken - interpreting the Quranic vocabulary through Quranic verses on the basis of recognized Arabic lexicon - in interpreting the entire Quran in ‘Mafhoomul Quran’. I have made use of this technique in this book, too.
In regards to understanding the Quran, one must keep in view the point that the Quran’s claim of being divine is supported by, among others, the fact that it contains no self-contradiction at all (verse 4, Sure 82). Therefore, an interpretation of a verse cannot be correct if it is contradictory to another. One must be mindful of this while reading the Quran. This is exactly what I have done. The Quran has no contradictory statements. If one is noticed, the fault lies not with the book but with the reader. Such confusion can be removed by deeper consideration, spurred by curiosity.
4. One more fundamental requirement is for the reader to shed off all the pre-conceived concepts and beliefs before reading the Quran. Otherwise, you may psychologically look for evidence in support of your views. This will render comprehending the Quran impossible. This is why the Quran puts the condition of “ لااله “ before “ الا الله “., i.e., to ‘get to Allah’ one must clear one’s mind of all ‘non-Allah’ concepts. Allah will not enter the Kaaba unless it is cleared of idols. (10) This is really hard to do but there is no other way to comprehending the Quran.
I have also stated in this book thus: “When ‘Din’ changes to Religion (مذهب ).... (11) ”. The difference between the two must be made clear. ‘ Ad Deen’ is the code of life handed down from God to mankind through his messengers by means of the process of revelation. This obliterates into ‘mazhab’ (religion) by human alterations. Religion, though devised by man, is attributed to God. Common man is thus hoodwinked into their submission by the religious priesthood. When a voice of dissent is raised against a covenant of ( religious ) faith, the priests whip up popular opinion against it by accusations of digression from the established norms of the earlier generations (the respected forefathers). Thus, they make sure that that voice is muted. Their efforts succeed with help from the fact that religious beliefs, however wrong, are one’s most precious possession and are extremely hard to part with.
Islam, too, has gone through this process. The ‘Deen’ had been given to man by God through the Messenger. Soon after, it was infiltrated by human concepts and beliefs, gradually descending to the level of religion. That very religion is our current ideology. But there is one basic difference between us (Muslims) and other religions. That very difference has the potential of reconverting religion into ‘Ad-Deen’. That fundamental difference is that we have the Book of God. It contains ‘Ad-Deen’ in its original and un-obliterated form. This situation is unique to Islam. Today the Quran is the only original divine book under the sun. (12) Therefore, should we wish to transform our current religion into ‘Ad-Deen’, we have to weigh and test our current religious beliefs and practices against the Quran - keeping those which agree with it and discarding the ones which don’t. The whole point of my efforts is to bring back to light the divine ‘Ad-Deen’. Hence this book is a very important link in a long chain of my publications. It shows that one of the fundamental causes of our downfall through history is the non-Quranic belief of Destiny. This is an anti-Deen and illogical belief which has reduced a lively people to a mere heap of dust. I request the reader to ponder deeply over my presentations. This is highly desirable as the current concept of the problem of Destiny has been with us for centuries and has become an article of faith. To replace it with the correct Quranic concept one needs deep pondering as well as exemplary patience and rare perseverance.
This book is intended for those who wish to understand the problem of Destiny through the Quran. Hence, it contains no philosophic or linguistic discussions. I have tried to explain one of the most complex problems in a simple way, through the Quran. Also, I have tried to keep its style as simple as possible, though it is difficult to change one’s writing style, especially during one’s twilight years. The extent of my success can only be judged by the reader.
The Quranic verses have been referred to by the verse number above the Sura (chapter) number. For Example, 3/15 means: the fifteenth verse of the 3rd Sura (Aal-e-Imraan). If you don’t find a particular verse printed here, please look it up in a copy of the Quran - keeping in mind that numbering of a particular verse may differ from one copy of the Quran to another.
Finally, I must state (as I always do) that this presentation is the result of human deliberations to comprehend the Quran. As such, it may not be perfect. I have presented, to the best of my faculties, what I have come to conclude as true and correct. I will consider myself successful if you agree with it. Otherwise, you are free to deliberate over the Quran yourself. I, as a rule, avoid argumentation. I will consider myself duly rewarded if my efforts succeed to reveal the Quran in its true light, even to a single reader.
- 25-B Gulberg, Lahore
- September, 1971
- (1) Refers to the age-old debate on whether events in the human world are pre-determined or not by a super-human being.
- (2) Literally, Persian for ‘Tomorrow’s World’ - a treatise on the Hereafter (Life after death).
- (3) A series of books explaining the teachings of the Quran on the origin of the universe as well as that of Man; also the Quran’s versions of the life-stories and teachings of prophets like Abraham, Moses, Christ & Mohammad.
- (4) A dictionary of the Quranic vocabulary.
- (5) A paraphrasing of the meanings of the Quran.
- (6) Classification of the Quranic verses under topics.
- (7) ‘Ad-Deen’ (الدين ) in Arabic is referred to the entire socio-politico-economic - and beyond system the Quran proposed for mankind. The author prefers this term for referring to ‘ISLAM’ against the popularly used ‘Mazhab’ (مذهب ) which he contends refers to a shallow & superficial representation of only a part of ‘Ad-Deen’
- (8) A ‘verse’ is one unit of speech (not necessarily a complete sentence in the English sense) ending with a circular mark (o)
- (9) A ‘Sura’ is one chapter of the Quran (there are 114 in all).
- (10) Refers to the historical event of the Kaaba (the cubical structure in the courtyard of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Saudi Arabia) cleared of all idols when Prophet Mohammad triumphantly entered Makkah to reclaim the Kaaba to monotheism.
- (11) See (7)
- (12) Today the books universally acknowledged and accepted as divine are: The Bible (containing the old testament - especially The Torah of Moses - the New Testament and the Psalms of David) and the Quran. It has been universally established and accepted that the Quran still exists - unchanged - exactly in the form as given by Mohammad.