The Arabic word “Qadar” means the Divine Measure1 with which Allah has ordained and decreed with exact calculations for everything in creation according to His Eternal Omniscience and His Sublime Wisdom that encompasses eternity.

Faith and belief in Qadar comprises four aspects:

  1. The belief that Allah has knowledge of everything in the universe with all the minute details of its occurrences in time and space. This perfect and complete knowledge encompasses all of Allah’s own acts and all actions of the creatures.
  2. Everything that is preordained is written on “al-Lawh-al-Mahfoodh” (The Preserved Tablet) which is with Allah. Allah the Most Exalted said:
    Do you not know that Allah knows all that is in heaven and on earth? Verily it is all in the Book. Verily that is easy for Allah. [Surah al-Hajj (22):70]
    In Saheeh Muslim we find the report of Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas () who narrated that he heard the Messenger of Allah () say:
    Allah recorded the measurement of all matters pertaining to creation fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and earth.
  3. The belief that nothing can exist or happen except by the Will and Permission of Allah and this includes what pertains to His Actions as well as to the actions of all that He created. Allah the Most Exalted said concerning His own actions:
    And your Lord Creates whatsoever He wills and chooses. [Surah al-Qasas (28):68]
    And He said:
    And Allah does what He wills. [Surah Ibraaheem (14): 27]
    And He said:
    It is He Who shapes you in the wombs as He pleases. [Surah Aali ‘Imraan (3):6]
    Concerning the actions of the creatures Allah the Most Exalted said:
    Had Allah willed indeed He would have given them power over you and they would have fought you. [Surah an-Nisaa’ (4):90]
    And He said:
    And if Allah had willed they would not have done so. So leave them alone with their fabrications. [Surah al-An’aam (6):137]
  4. The belief that Allah created all the creation and creatures and all their actions characteristics and movements.2 Allah the Most Exalted said:
    Allah is the Creator of all things and He is the Guardian over all things. [Surah az-Zumar (39):62]
    And He said:
    He has created everything and has measured it exactly according to its due measurements. [Surah al-Furqaan (25):2]
    And Allah told us that Ibraheem said to his people [about them carving their idols]:
    And Allah has created you and your making. [Surah as-Saaffaat (37):96]
    Qadar as explained above is not contradictory to the reality that humans have the freedom to act as they will and choose and are capable of doing so since this is proven by both ash-Sharee’ah (revelation and scripture) and by al-Waqi’ (the reality that we observe around us).
    As for the proof of the religious scriptures on this we can cite the words of Allah when He the Most Exalted said:
    So whosoever wills let him take a return to his Lord.[Surah an-Naba’ (78):39]
    And He said:
    So go to your tithe when and how you will. [Surah al-Baqarah (2):223]
    And concerning the proof of one having his own ability He said:
    So keep your duty to Allah as much as you can; listen and obey. [Surah at-Taghaabun (64):16]
    And He said:
    Allah does not burden a person beyond his scope. He receives reward for that (good) which he has earned and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. [Surah al-Baqarah (2):286]
    As for the proof of reality we observe around us everybody knows that a person has his own will and ability by which he acts and moves. He can positively differentiate between what happens by his own will like walking and talking and what happens to him involuntarily without his will like shuddering with a sneeze or fever etc. But all that happens - action by man’s will and ability or without it - only happens by the Supreme Will of Allah the Most Exalted. Allah the Most Exalted said:
    For whosoever among you wills shall walk straight. And you will not want to walk straight unless it is what Allah wills the Lord of the worlds. [Surah at-Takweer (81):28-29]
    Allah owns the entire universe and nothing happens in His Kingdom and Sovereignty without His Knowledge and Will.

Nevertheless the reality of Qadar as explained above should not encourage one to think that he can use the excuse of Qadar to commit sins by leaving his obligations i.e. that he is absolved of his responsibilities by blaming it on Qadar. Any attempt to argue along these lines is false and invalid for the following reasons:

  1. The saying of Allah:
    Those who took partners in worship with Allah will say “If Allah had willed we would not have taken partners in worship with Him nor would our fathers have and we would not have forbidden anything (against His Will).” Those that went before likewise belied till they tasted of Our Wrath. Say “Have you any knowledge that you can produce before us? Verily you follow nothing but guesses and you say nothing but a lie.” [Surah al-An’aam (6):148]
    These disbelievers did not have any valid excuse when they claimed that whatever they did was according to Qadar. If this excuse was acceptable and true then why would Allah punish them for their sins?
  2. The saying of Allah:
    Messengers as bearers of good news as well as of warning (came) in order that mankind should have no plea against Allah after the Messengers (have been sent for their guidance). And Allah is forever All-Powerful All-Wise. [Surah an-Nisaa’ (4):165]
    If there were a legitimate excuse for these disbelievers by arguing with Qadar Allah wouldn’t have negated that excuse by the fact that He sent His Messengers according to His Qadar. Thus the disbelievers cannot use Qadar as an excuse for their disbelieving because their disobedience after receiving the message is also by Allah’s Qadar i.e. they could have avoided Allah’s punishment by following His Messengers and yet they chose the path of disobedience by their will.
  3. Al-Bukhari and Muslim report and this version is al-Bukhari’s that Ali ibn Abi Talib () said that the Prophet () said:
    One’s final destination in Hell or Paradise is already determined for each one of you.
    A man said:
    Should we depend (on this fact) O Messenger of Allah?
    He said
    No! Perform deeds because everyone will be helped (to do as he will and reach his destiny). Then he read the verse of the Qur’an:
    As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to Allah and fears Him and believes in Goodness We will make smooth for him the path of ease. But he who withholds and thinks himself self-sufficient denies Goodness We will make smooth for him the path of evil. [Surah al-Lail (92):5-10]
    And in the version of Muslim the Prophet () said in completion:
    Everyone is helped to that for which he was created.
    Thus we see that the Messenger of Allah () commanded us to continue striving to do the good deeds and forbade us to depend upon (misconceptions about) Qadar.
  4. Allah commanded mankind to obey Him by observing the laws and regulations. He did not order them to do anything beyond their capacity. Allah the Most Exalted said:
    So keep your duty to Allah (and fear Him) as much as you can. [Surah at-Taghaabun (64):16]
    And He said:
    Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. [Surah al-Baqarah (2):286]
    If man was compelled and forced to do something this would mean that he is required to do what is beyond his capacity. This is a false mistaken belief [which cannot be ascribed to Allah since He commands man and has made him responsible only for what is within his power and by his own free will]. Upon this principle Allah forgives those sins that take place because of the legitimate excuse of ignorance forgetfulness or compulsion.
  5. Qadar is the exclusive secret preserved with Allah. Man’s willful action only takes place by his own volition and will. Thus what he does is built on his own will to act and not upon previous knowledge about Allah’s Qadar. It follows by necessity that seeking to excuse oneself by the pretext of Qadar is not a valid excuse because he had no knowledge of that Qadar. Man cannot use as an argument that which is outside his scope of knowledge.
  6. We see that man is very anxious to benefit himself with what pleases him and makes him feel good and to avoid what causes pains. We do not find anybody leaving these worldly benefits and pleasures to what causes pain with the excuse that Qadar made him do it so why does he leave the religious commandments of Allah which bring him benefit and pleasures and go to what causes harm using this feeble excuse of Qadar? Are not the two situations analogous and similar?
    An example will illustrate this point here. If somebody had two roads in front of him to choose from one leading to a place of chaos murder killing looting rape insecurity and hunger and the other leading to a place of proper order excellent security luxurious standard of living and respect for one’s own self family and property: which road would he choose? No sane person would take the road to the first place arguing that Qadar made him do it. Why does someone choose in these matters of the Hereafter what leads him to Hellfire rather than Paradise claiming that Qadar made him do it when he would never make the same argument in mundane affairs?
    Another example is that the sick and diseased take medicine when they are ordered to even though they dislike the taste. They leave foods that harm them seeking to cure themselves and get better. It will not happen that these sick people refuse their medicines and take the harmful foods arguing that Qadar made them do it so why would one abandon obeying Allah and His Messenger and instead disobey Allah and His Messenger claiming that Qadar made him do it? [Certainly this is the most foolish of Satan’s tricks and the feeblest of excuses.]
  7. Suppose the person who takes Qadar as a pretext to justify leaving responsibilities and committing sins is attacked by someone who takes his property violates his honor or commits some other similar crime and then the attacker says to him “Hey! Don’t blame me! My attack on you was only because of Allah’s Qadar.” The victim would never accept this excuse from the criminal. How can it be that he won’t accept Qadar as an excuse to justify somebody else’s attack on him while he takes it as an excuse for his own attack against the rights of Allah? [How amazing are his double standards!]
    It has been reported that a man who had been caught stealing was brought to Umar ibn al-Khattab (). Umar ordered that his hand be cut off. The man said: “Wait O leader of the believers. I only stole because this was by the Qadar of Allah.” Umar said “And we are cutting your hand off by the Qadar of Allah.”

The great benefits of believing in the Qadar of Allah include the following:

  1. To trust in Allah in accomplishing your actions. When someone performs actions according to their causes and effects he doesn’t depend on the causes and effects only since he knows that ultimately nothings happens except by the Will of Allah.
  2. To protect oneself from becoming arrogant and haughty when he accomplishes his goals because he knows that his accomplishment was only by the Blessings of Allah Who made it possible for him to achieve his goals. Self-aggrandizement is a kind of ingratitude that makes one forget the obligation of thanking Allah.
  3. To receive from Allah a sense of satisfaction tranquility and security since he realizes that nothing happens except by the Qadar of Allah. He does not become anxious about losing things that please him or receiving things that displease him because he knows that he will only get what the Owner and Master-Sovereign of the heavens and earth has written for him. Allah the Most Exalted said:
    No calamity befalls on the earth or upon yourselves but it is inscribed in the Book of Decrees before We bring it into existence. Verily that is easy for Allah. In order that you may not be sad over matters that you fail to get nor rejoice because of that which has been given to you. And Allah likes not prideful boasters. [Surah al-Hadeed (57):22-23]
    The Prophet () said:
    How amazing is the matter of the believer! There is good in every affair of his and this is not the case with anyone else. If any joy befalls him he gives thanks (to Allah) thus there is good for him in it. If a calamity befalls him he endures it patiently and thus there is a good for him in it. (Reported by Muslim)

Two groups have fallen into misguidance with regard to belief in the Qadar of Allah:
The first group is the Jabriyyah who say that man is compelled to do whatever he does and that he has no power of his own or free will to act.

The second group is the Qadariyyah who say that man’s actions are independent in will and power from Allah’s Will and Power and that Allah’s Will and Power has no influence on his actions.
The first group’s claim is refuted by both ash-Sharee’ah (revelation and scripture) and by al-Waqi’ (the reality that we observe around us).

Proving the invalidity of the Jabriyyah claim by ash-Sharee’ah (revelation and scripture):
Allah the Most Exalted had affirmed that we humans have a will and power of our own. Allah has given us these qualities in the possessive form.
Allah the Most Exalted said:
Among you are some that desire this world and some that desire the Hereafter. [Surah Aali ‘Imraan (3):152]
And He said:
And say: “The Truth is from your Lord.” Then whosoever wills let him believe and whosoever wills let him disbelieve. Verily We have prepared for the unjust a Fire whose walls will be surrounding them. [Surah al-Kahf (18):29]
And He said:
Whosoever does righteous deeds it is for (the benefit of) his own self and whosoever does evil deeds it is against his own self and your Lord is not at all unjust to (His) slaves. [Surah Fussilat (41):46]
Proving the invalidity of the Jabriyyah claim by al-Waqi’ (the reality that we observe around us):
Everybody knows instinctively the difference between his willful actions like when he eats drinks sells and buys and between those acts that fall outside his willpower like shuddering involuntarily and falling off a roof accidentally. The first kind of action is definitely his because he chooses them on his own will and power whereas the second kind is beyond his choice and power.
The Qadariyyah’s claim is refuted by ash-Sharee’ah (revelation and scripture) and by al-Aql (reason and analysis).

Proving the invalidity of the Qadariyyah claim by ash-Sharee’ah (revelation and scripture)
Allah the Most Exalted created everything by His Will and He has made it perfectly clear that all of man’s actions happen only by His Will. Allah the Most Exalted has said:
If Allah had willed succeeding generations would not have fought against each other after clear Verses of Allah had come to them but they differed some of them believed and others disbelieved. If Allah had willed they would not have fought against one another but Allah does what He likes. [Surah al-Baqarah (2):253]
And He said:
And if We had willed surely We would have given every person his guidance but the Word from Me took effect (about evil­doers) that I will fill Hell with Jinn and mankind together. [Surah as-Sajdah (32):13]

Proving the invalidity of the Qadariyyah claim by al-‘Aql (reason and analysis)
The entire universe belongs to Allah. It is His domain. Man is part of this universe and belongs to Allah as His slave and servant. It is not the right of the slave and servant to dispose of the property of the Master and Owner except by His Permission and Will.

By the Late Eminent Scholar Sheikh Muhammad ibn Salih Al-Uthaymeen Translation by Abu Salman Diya ud-Deen Eberle