On the Prohibition on Discussions Regarding the Predestination of Allah - Shaykh Said Afandi al-Chirkawi
The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “If people are talking about the predestination of The Most High Allah - you be quiet, if they talk about astrology (the science of predicting by the stars) - be quiet, if they talk about my companions - likewise, be quiet”.
In other words, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) commands us not to say anything bad about the companions, neither to criticize nor judge them. The hadeeth also says, that we are not to discuss the predestination of the Most High Allah, nor argue about it. It also says that we are to be quiet when others are speaking about astrology. It is not our business, to speak about these things is not included in our obligations. Undoubtedly, it is better for us to observe the commands and prohibitions of The Most High Allah placed upon us, as the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) taught and spoke.
The prophet Uzair (peace be upon him) asked Allah the Most High about predestination saying “Oh Lord, you have preordained good and evil, but for the commission of evil You subject the wrongdoers to torment.” The Most High Allah said to him in a revelation “Oh Uzair! Never ask about that again. If you ask again, I will cross you out from the list of prophets”.
From this story, it is clear, that predestination itself (Qazaun Mubram), which after specification and confirmation became definitive, and about which people say is not subject to change, in actuality may change, if the Lord so wants. For example, we know from the Qur’an that Uzair was a prophet and died a prophet. We can’t not acknowledge that such was the predestination of Allah. However, notice that Allah the Most High said to the prophet Uzair (peace be upon him): “If you ask about predestination again, I will cross you out from the list of prophets”. After that, he didn’t ask about predestination anymore, and was left in the list of prophets. From this it follows, that predestination, even if it is Mubram, will be changed by the Lord if He so pleases.
I will reiterate: Who can obstruct the Most High Allah to change his decision by his own will? Who can reproach Him for that? Such is the meaning of the following Ayahs: “They don’t ask the Most High Allah about that which He does; those whom they ask are the slaves of God.”
And how can one question the Most High Allah about what he does? After all, He is the King of kings, whose eternal knowledge is limitless, He created everything in existence other than Himself, in His power is the management of all existence and the direction of order between all creations and mercy to them. Ignorant slaves who acquire knowledge only by being taught have no right to speak about their Master, who is perfect in all respects. Namely, they have no right to ask why He created something or how He did it. It is the Master who asks the slaves about their affairs and why they behaved a certain way, since they don’t have knowledge and often make mistakes.
It further says in this ayah that on the day of judgment no one will speak nor intercede without the permission and command of Almighty Allah. On that day, people will be divided into two groups: the miserable and the joyous.
As far as the miserable are concerned, that is, those whom Almighty Allah in His eternal knowledge assigned to be amongst the miserable, they will be in hell. It is said, that their terrible cries and shrieks in hell, born of panic, fear, and unbearable suffering, will be like the braying of asses. Imagine the state of a person, who is drowning in water, burning in fire, and is being hung or subjected to other painful experiences of this world. The torture of hell is 1,000 times more intense in comparison to any torture in this life. May the Umma of Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) be protected from the tortures of hell by the mercy of the Most High Allah.
People of the aforementioned category will be in hell, as long as the heavens and earth exist, in other words, continuously, forever. The ayah, where it says “as long as the heavens and earth are in existence” is interpreted to mean as long as the heavens and earth exist in the Akhirah. The following ayah serves as the basis for this understanding: “On the day of judgment the heavens and the earth will be replaced with different heavens and a different earth”.
It says that these changes will take place twice. The first time the earth and sky will change only externally, that is to say, they will stay as they are, but their appearance will change. This will take place before the demise of the world with the coming of the day of judgment. From the sky, stars will begin to fall or hang, there will be an eclipse of the sun and moon, that is, they will fade, first turning red, then black. Thus will the appearance of the sky be changed. The earth will spout forth what is under the earth’s surface, mountains and hills will float in the air as if they were clouds, the forests will come crashing down, the canyons will become full, and the entire earth will become a flat plain. Thus will the appearance of the earth be changed.
The second change of the sky and the earth will take place after the coming of the day of judgment when people, after having been resurrected, will gather on the Mahshar (the Grand gathering ground in the Hereafter). At this time the earth will be turned into silver, so that its surface will be clean and the children of Adam wouldn’t sin on it. Allah will then turn the heavens into gold, as Ali Ashab (may Allah be pleased with him) spoke about.
From those miserable people, described in the aforementioned ayah as “forever abiding in hell”, the Most High Allah set aside one group, having said about them that “other than those whom your Lord had wanted to exclude”. These are the fasiqs.
In one person there may be a mix of joy and misery, in as much as the miserable ones are of two categories: the lost, in other words, the miserable, and the even more lost. That is why people of monotheism due to their disobedience to the Most High are miserable, though by virtue of their monotheism, are joyous. Their disobedience will lead them to hell, but no matter the length of time proportionate to their sins they will have to spend there, ultimately their monotheism (tauhid) will bring them out of hell, that is, they will be saved.
The people of kufr belong to the category of the especially lost. Disbelief in Allah and his Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) will put them in hell, and they will have no way out of it, they will stay there forever. May Allah protect us from such people!
In a hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) it says “A time will come when hell, which will be full for a long time, will empty out, not one person will remain in it (editor’s note - of those who believe in the One God)”. Monotheists who wound up in hell because of their sins in time will get out of there, and the place that had been designated for them will be left empty. The kafirs’ places in hell will always be full. In this manner, the Most High Allah truly does what He wants: He leaves in hell forever and takes out of hell who He pleases from the evildoers, and there is none who can oppose Him nor anyone who can argue with Him about it.
Thus it says in the ayah. Further, the Most High Allah says (close meaning): “The possessors of joy will abide in paradise, while the heavens and the earth are in existence, that is, for all time by My mercy and by My pleasure, in the same way the miserable kafirs by My justice will eternally stay in hell”.
From amongst the joyous Allah the Most High will set aside one category of people, about which it was said earlier “except for those whom I please.”
About that category of people, whom the Most High Allah set aside it says: “And amongst the possessors of joy there are two categories. One of them - the joyous, the other - the especially joyous.”
The joyous will stay in paradise in places corresponding to their worship and deeds, on different levels all the way to `Illiyun. They are not able to raise any higher. As far as the especially joyous are concerned, they will enter into heaven, pass by all of its levels onto a level very high and close (editor’s note: not physically but spiritually) to the Most High Allah called Maqam Al Qurbah, in accordance with their own God consciousness, God fearingness, and love for Allah.
About these, whom Allah has set aside from those who are joyous, it is says in another way that: “those thrown into hell for their disobedience, then having been taken out of hell and put into paradise, they are not those about whom it is said ‘will forever abide in paradise’”. In another hadeeth it is said “The Lord of the `Arsh, the One whom no one can hinder in the accomplishment of whatever He wills (i.e. the Most High Allah).” When Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) became ill, those who had come to visit him asked him “Maybe we should take you to the doctor?” He answered “The doctor has already seen me”. “What did he say?” they asked. Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) answered saying “He said ‘I do what I please’”.
We are talking about the predestination of the Most High in accordance with the creed of the Sunnis (Ahlu as Sunna wal Jama`a). Following in their path, remember this!
Prayer which is Undoubtedly Accepted by Allah
The Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) said “There are three prayers which the Most High Allah accepts without a doubt: the prayer of a traveler (if the travel is allowed by the sharia), the prayer of the oppressed and the prayer of the parents for their children”. In another hadeeth to these three is added the prayer of one who is fasting. In another hadeeth it is said “the prayer of a father for his son is like the prayer of a prophet for his Umma”.
An Explanation of the Predestination of Allah
The explanation of predestination given below is accurate. The meaning of faith in the predestination of the Most High Allah lies in the conviction that everything that happens in this world, whether it be good or bad, happens in accordance with the predestination and will of the Most High Allah.
None the less, God’s slaves have the right to choose. The dictate comes from the Most High Allah, and the actualization of His dictate - is from the slave of God in accordance with this right granted to him. The predestination of Allah and the deeds of His slave are carried out together. Even so, the predestination of Allah follows the deeds of His slave. This means that the Most High Allah, in His infinite knowledge, knows which deeds His slave will decide to do after his entrance into this world, and records them.
If the slave did not have this right to choose, then the sending of Allah’s prophets and the revelation of the holy books would have been pointless. This is because the purpose of the sending of Allah’s prophets and the holy books is the explanation to God’s slaves of the way of Islam, so that they followed the path, did good, and renounced stupidity. If the slave did not have this right, then following the sharia, the observance of faith, and good and bad deeds would all be pointless. The prophets and books would turn out to be as if they had been sent for lifeless inanimate things without the right to choose.
Therefore, the Most High Allah commands His slaves: do this, and don’t do that. Would the Most High Allah command to do or not to do something if His slaves did not have the choice to do it or not do it?
The Most High Allah does not force a single person into disbelief. He does not forcefully instill in anyone either faith or disbelief. Faith and disbelief is placed into the heart of a person only after that person has made his choice on the matter.
Consequently, although a person’s tenure on the true path or in misguidance, his good and bad deeds, are all done by the will of the Most High Allah, it is tied to the choice of that person.
Everything takes place by the will and desire of the Most High Allah, in this there is no doubt. However, the fact that the disbelief of the polytheists and the sins of those who are lost materialize by the will and knowledge of the Most High Allah, does not mean that the polytheists are forced into disbelief, or that the sinners are forced into sin. This is because the will of Allah follows His knowledge, and His knowledge follows the deeds which a person will choose when he appears in this world. The following ayah speaks about this saying “If Allah the Most High had wanted the polytheists to follow monotheism, i.e., that they accepted monotheism, then the polytheists would not have assigned any partner to Allah.”
For the one who limits himself to reading this ayah alone, the ayah will become the reason for thinking that the Most High Allah does not want to direct polytheists to the right path. But in the tafseers it says “the fact that the Most High Allah does not want to direct a polytheist to the path of truth does not mean that the disbeliever wanted to accept faith and chose that path but he is being rejected - no, it means that the polytheist, not utilizing the definite right to choose provided to him by the Most High Allah for the benefit of faith, chose disbelief and stayed in disbelief forever.”
Therefore, the reason for the Most High Allah’s unwillingness to direct the disbeliever to the path of truth became that that kafir chose disbelief.
From this ayah its clear that the polytheists fell into shirk by the will of Allah the Most High, and not contrary to His will. And if they say that they fell into shirk by the will of the Most High Allah, then isn’t that their fault?
If the Most High Allah had found them in His eternal, ever lasting knowledge to have chosen faith, He would guide them to the path of faith. Even so, the Most High Allah, knowing that they had chosen shirk, willed to leave them in polytheism. In other words, the will of Allah was tied to the choice of the slave or came as a consequence of those actions, which the slave chose. And then, by the will of Allah, the polytheists fell into shirk.
Therefore we say “Didn’t I do such and such thing by the will of Allah?” - though we don’t realize, that the will of Allah follows the deeds chosen by our zaras (primordial essences).
The followers of Imam Ash`ari say: everything that is in the character and behavior of a slave of the Most High Allah follows after His knowledge. His knowledge follows after the deeds which the slave chose, the path chosen by the slave. That is why the Most High Allah punishes the slave in accordance with his affairs - for good behavior, a goodly reward, for bad behavior, a harsh punishment. This is because the slave himself committed his own actions by his own choice and desire, Allah did not forcibly make him do the one deed, nor forcibly prevent him from doing the other. That is why the Ash`arites simply say “The Most High Allah created both bad and good, but does not agree with bad”.
For example, a saint, by means of kashfu (miracles), knows what some person will do tomorrow, but doesn’t say anything to that person about it, no matter how displeased he may be with what said person is getting ready to do, adhering to the saying by the Most High Allah “I created death and life in order to test you and your sincerity, in order to find out which of you are the best in doing good deeds and abstaining from what is not allowed”. The Most High Allah, having created good and bad, gave man free will, availing him the right to choose either of the two. The Most High Allah in the Qur’an says many times (close meaning): “Do you what you have been commanded to do”. Could the words of the Most High Allah have been in vain?! Would He have addressed the slave or commanded him to do something if the slave was deprived of the right to choose?!
Here is another example for the one who criticizes religion, and in particular, criticizes the predestination of the Most High Allah. If some professor predicts in a calendar or in a newspaper that on such and such day of such and such month there will be a solar eclipse, knowing from astronomy that the moon on that day will sit exactly between the sun and earth and a solar eclipse takes place, and it takes place in the stated time as the professor predicted, does it really follow from that that the eclipse took place because the professor predicted it? Think about it, would someone reasonable, or even a fool, argue that? Still, if we were to judge by the reasoning of some, then the eclipse took place for that very reason. A reasonable person understands, how and when the professor predicted the eclipse of the sun. Would the Most High Allah command His slave: do this and don’t do the other if the slave was not given at least some kind of opportunity to choose? In other words, isn’t it clear from the fact that the Most High Allah commands us that He gave His slave the definite right to choose? And would the slave avoid punishment by insisting that he would not have committed a sin had the Most High Allah not preordained it, and therefore how could he have committed the sin by his free will?
Another Example of the PreDestination of Allah and the Actions of the Slave
Predestination - is from the Most High Allah, deeds - are from the slave, time-wise they materialize together. Deeds are the basis for predestination, and by their very essence surpass it. In other words, deeds are like a finger, and predestination is like a ring being worn on that finger. If the finger wiggles, then simultaneously the ring will move along with it. The ring does not force the finger to wiggle. In this fashion, the predestination of the Most High and the deeds of the slave are actualized together.
In this same way, the Most High Allah, knowing by His eternal knowledge what the slave chooses, predestines an action and records it after the slave has chosen it. Otherwise, the Most High Allah does not predetermine for His slave any kind of deed - neither good nor bad, forcing the slave to do something if he did not choose it. If the Most High Allah did not give the slave at least a small opportunity to choose, then the sending of prophets and the revelation of holy books would turn out to be pointless. This is because the Most High Allah does not force His slave to do that to which the slave has no right. So, for example, in the Qur’an it says: “perform namaz”, “observe the fast”, “don’t slander”, “don’t lie”.
If they ask what is the use of prayer, afterall, nothing can thwart the predestination of the Most High Allah, then say the aversion of harm is also His predestination. Prayer is a means of averting harm and attracting mercy, like the way a shield is the means of defending a warrior from arrows or how water is a condition for the growth of grass. Likewise, the refusal to carry a weapon is not a condition of the pleasure nor is it the predestination of the Most High Allah, He Himself teaches us to carry a weapon and be vigilant in relation to our enemies.
One time a thief argued with Omar ibn Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) saying “Didn’t I steal because it was predestined by the Most High Allah?” Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) answered him saying “Your hand will also be cut off by the predestination of the Most High Allah”. One of the great saints by the name of Wahb says “I was thinking about predestination and, reflecting on it, I got amazed. I thought about it further, and like before, got amazed all over again. Ultimately, I discovered that those who are most knowledgeable about predestination refrain from discussions about it and keep silent more than anyone concerning it. On the other hand, those who are most uninformed about predestination turn out to be those who talk about it the most.”
There is a hadeeth of the prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him): “Be silent when others speak about predestination”, in other words, refrain from figuring out its essence, but not from believing in it. In summation, we are told not to walk into a sea, the depth of which we can’t even measure, and it is demanded of us that we believe in the predestination of the Most High Allah, be it good or bad. I also doubted whether or not I should write about predestination, whether or not there would be any use from writing about it. Twice I did istikharah and both times the istikhara showed that it would be good to write about it, that is why I went ahead and wrote about it. May the Most High Allah make this useful for the truly faithful brothers! Amin! Amin! Amin!
From the book “Motivation to Give Heed to the Call of the Qur’an”, by the venerable Shaykh Said Afandi.