The last pillar of the Islamic faith in which every Muslim must believe is the concept of Al-Qadr, which closely translates to pre-ordainment (or predestination/ Divine Decree, destiny, fate). When one believes in the tenet of Al-Qadr, which we’ll translate as ‘Divine Decree,’ he or she affirms that everything good or bad that happens in his or her life comes from God the Almighty; something He Willed to happen. Al-Qadr in Arabic linguistically means to measure, to determine, to assess, to decide, to judge. In the context of Religion, the term translates to ‘Divine determined measurements and sustenance for everyone and everything, in accordance with His Wisdom and Power.’ God states in his Book:
Indeed, all things We created with predestination (Quran 54:49)
God the Almighty, being All-Knowing and All-Wise, knows of what we have done in the past, what we are doing now, and what we will do—even before the time of our birth. After all, can God truly be God if He didn’t know everything, including the future? Whereas mankind has the free will to make their own choices in life, everything that occurs in life occurs only with the Will and Power of God.
Al-Qadar comprises four components. The first component is the belief that God is All-Knowledgeable of and instigates all things and events—whether major or minor—at all times and places and regardless of their occurrence. The Almighty’s foreknowledge is infallible and complete.
“And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the Earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record” (Quran 6:59)
The second component of Divine Decree is the belief that Allah has recorded everything from the beginning of time to the Day of Judgment, in a Tablet He has kept known as the ‘Lawh Al-Mahfooth’ (The Preserved Tablet). Each’s lifespan, amount of substance, deeds, happiness, sorrow, and more is written and recorded in this Tablet. In fact, according to a narration of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, Allah, the Glorious, had recorded the measurements of all matters pertaining to His creation fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and earth.
“Do you not know that Allah knows what is in the Heaven and Earth? Indeed, that is in a Record. Indeed that, for Allah, is easy” (Quran 22:70)
The third component of Divine Decree is the belief that nothing can occur without the Will and Power of Allah, whether the event stems from the action of the Almighty or actions of humanity. Nothing Occurs Haphazardly; the Almighty has planned everything.
“And your Lord creates what He Wills and Chooses…” (Quran 28:68)
A Muslim acknowledges that whatever has touched or afflicted him, was meant to afflict him, and could not have been avoided or prevented. And whatever has not reached or afflicted him, was not meant to touch or afflict him, and he can avoid nothing unless God has willed it. Our Prophet peace be upon him narrated, ‘Know if all of humanity gathered to harm you, they could not harm you unless Allah had decreed. The Pen has been lifted, and the pages have dried.’
The fourth and last component of Divine Decree is the belief that Allah is the Creator and Originator of all things.
“…and has created each thing and determined it with [precise] determination ” (Quran 25:2)
Whereas Allah, the Merciful, has bestowed on every human being the free will to make his or her own decisions, that does not provide an excuse for one to sin or abandon the tasks and responsibilities they are obligated to do. The fact that God has predestined everything does not change the fact that human beings have the free will to choose their course of actions. Just because each’s choices are known to God beforehand, doesn’t mean that they will not be held accountable on the Day of Judgment for the decisions they make and actions they take. God forces nothing upon anyone. It’s also important to note that God will hold no one accountable for things out of their control, or for things they cannot do.
Allah is All-Just, All-Wise, and He tests humanity according to their strength and what their soul can bear. A Muslim acknowledges the fact that whatever difficulty they are facing will be made easy for them and that they will have a way to resolve it.
“God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear” (Quran 2:286)
A Muslim acknowledges that whatever befalls him or her, is in accordance with God’s Will and Plan, whether or not they understand and accept this fact. A Muslim place his trust and reliance in God, as God brims with Wisdom in all matters. A Muslim affirms that God is All-Loving and loves His servants over one’s parents do; and a Muslim affirms that whatever God does must have a good motive, so a believer always assumes good and does not lose faith.
The topic of Divine Decree will never fully be understood and comprehended by humans, as this concept deals with the essence of God’s Power and Will—which is beyond what our finite minds can comprehend.
A Muslim benefits from the act of learning, believing, and understanding in Divine Decree in several ways. Amongst the benefits is the peace of mind and contentment in the heart that a Muslim attains as he or she acknowledges that nothing happens without a purpose. A Muslim is confident that whatever afflicted him could not have escaped him, and whatever missed him could not have reached him, as God is in full control of all happenings and events, and he predestines everything. This recognition would help a believer endure difficulties and hardships. A believer would not grieve about what could have happened if things had taken a different course, and a believer would not worry about the future because he knows that the events of tomorrow are written and predetermined already.
The act of learning and believing in Divine Decree increases one’s belief in, the trust of, and reliance on God, and increases one’s likelihood of performing good deeds. Faith in Divine Decree decreases one’s pride and arrogance, as he acknowledges that his intelligence and actions did not emanate from him and that God is the source of all that comes his way. Belief in Divine Decree makes a person refrain from fearing anyone else; inspiring his bravery as he acknowledges that no one can afflict harm on him without the Permission and Will of God. Without a strong belief in God, the human learns, life would not be worth living.