“…and to believe in the divine decree (al-Qadar), [both] the good and the evil thereof”
The belief in divine decree, or al-Qadar, both the good and the evil thereof, is the final article of faith mentioned by the Prophet (s) in the Hadith of Jibreel, posted in full below.
The doctrine of al-Qadar is based on the belief in Allah’s (swt) Attributes and beautiful Names: Knowledge, Ability and Will. Allah (swt) says:
“He is the All-Knower [Al-Alim] of everything“(Surah Al-Baqarah:29)
“And He is Able to do all things” (Surah Al-Hadeed:2)
“He does what He intends (or Wills).” (Surah Al-Buruj:16)
Allah (swt) has knowledge of everything, and everything happens according to His (swt) decree and Will. He (swt) knows about the universals and particulars of all His (swt) different types of creation. This is true for what is sometimes referred to as the actions of Allah – producing rain, giving life and so forth – as well as the actions of the human beings.
He knows what our actions will be before we perform them. Indeed we can only perform them by His Will, but this does not negate our free will to act. This can be a difficult concept to grasp. A similitude is the example of a teacher, who knows the ability of a student. He can predict before a test what the outcome will be, without influencing the student freely carrying out the test. This concept of the ‘free will’ of the human being is central to our test of the life on this earth. Our choosing freely to believe in Allah (swt) and worship and obey Him (swt), is what raises us in our ranks above the rest of creation.
It is also important to understand that Allah (swt) knew everything about the creation, before it came into existence. Allah (swt) says in one of the most beautiful verses in the Qur’an:
“And with Him are the keys of the Unseen. None knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is on the earth and in the sea; Not a leaf falls, but He knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, [green or withered], but is written in a Clear Record.” (Surah al-Anaam:59)
We can see here the reference to a ‘Clear Record’. We should understand that not only did Allah (swt) have foreknowledge of the creation, He (swt) also recorded this information in the Preserved Tablet (al-Lauh al-Mahfoodh). Allah (swt) says:
“No calamity occurs on the earth or among 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 achieve, nor rejoice because of that which has been given to you.” (Surah al-Hadeed:22)
It is here that we see the beauty of belief in al-Qadar and how it liberates the believer. If we experience a calamity, or trial, we should know that it was already written that it would happen and there was nothing we could have done to avoid it. There should be no bitterness or regrets because everything that comes to us from Allah (swt) is for the best. The test is how we deal with what comes. Every event can be seen as a blessing for the believer. If it is good, then they are grateful to Allah (swt) and are rewarded for that, and if it is a trial, then they are patient and they are rewarded for that also. The Prophet (s) said:
“Strange are the ways of a believer for there is good in every affair of his. This is not the case of anyone except a believer. If he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (Allah), and there is a good for him in it. If he gets into trouble and shown resignation (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it.” (Recorded in Muslim)
This part of the Hadith also mentions the ‘good and the evil thereof’ of al-Qadar. It is important to note that what is ‘evil’ is with respect to the human beings and not with respect to Allah (swt). ‘Evil’ results from the human’s act of ignorance, wrong, oppression or sin. However, it is allowed and brought into being by Allah (swt). In reality, there is wisdom and good in everything that occurs in Allah’s (swt) creation. Allah (swt) says:
“Evil has appeared on the land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned, that Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return [by repenting].” (Surah al-Room:41)
Evil occurs, but the ultimate goal of it is good – that Allah (swt) may make people taste a part of that which they have done in order that they may return to Him repenting. Allah’s (swt) wisdom and nature precludes the existence of acts which are purely evil, without having any benefit or positive results related to them.
When a person realises that all things are under the control and decree of Allah, they should be freed from any associating of partners with Allah (shirk). There is only One Creator and Master of this creation, and nothing occurs except with His permission. This should make us realise that there is no use in turning to anyone except Allah (swt) when we are in need of something.
A correct belief in al-Qadar also shows us the trivialities of our daily worries – money, food, clothes, houses, cars etc. What will come to us is already written, indeed it was written before we were even created. We should therefore be careful not to let these things distract us from matters of true importance – like the prayer, seeking knowledge of His (swt) Deen and striving to put it into practice.