Free will and compulsion in the light of the Qur'an and Sunnah

Q: This question deals with if man has free choice or they are compelled. Please, explain this issue in light of the Qur'an and Sunnah. (Part No. 3; Page No. 518


A: Firstly, it is well-established that the Mercy and Knowledge of Allah encompass everything. Everything that will happen until the Day of Judgment is written in Al-Lawh-ul-Mahfuzh (the Preserved Tablet). He has all encompassing Will and authoritative Power. All the affairs lie in His Hands, and none can prevent what He has granted; none can give what He has prevented and none can prevent what He has decreed for He is Omnipotent. The Qur'an and Sunnah affirm these things in numerous texts and Ayahs which are known to the people of knowledge. Among these Ayahs are the following in which Allah says, Verily, Allâh is the All-Knower of everything. , Allâh is the Creator of all things , Verily, We have created all things with Qadar (Divine Preordainments of all things before their creation as written in the Book of Decrees Al-Lauh Al-Mahfûz). , But you cannot will, unless Allâh wills. Verily, Allâh is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise. , Allâh blots out what He wills and confirms (what He wills). And with Him is the Mother of the Book (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfûz) , No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but it is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfûz) before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allâh. , And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them together. So, will you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) then compel mankind, until they become believers. And And if We had willed, surely We would have given every person his guidance (Part No. 3; Page No. 519) Moreover, there are many authentic reports in the Sunnah affirming this issue, among which is the Hadith that the Prophet (peace be upon him) urged the Sahabah (Companions) to make Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah) after finishing Salah (Prayer); he said, La ilaha illa Allah, wahdahu la sharika lah, lahul-mulku wa-lahul-hamdu, wa-huwa `ala kulli shay’in qadir, Allahumma la mani`a lima a`tayt wa-la mu`tiya lima mana`t, wa-la yanfa`u dhal-jaddi minkal-jadd (None has the right to be worshipped except Allah (alone) Who has no partner, to Him belong all sovereignty and praise and He is Omnipotent over all things. O Allah! None can prevent what You have granted and none can grant what You have willed to prevent, and the riches cannot avail a wealthy person with You.” Also, there is the Hadith narrated by `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) in which Jibril (Gabriel) asked the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) about Iman. The Prophet (peace be upon him) answered saying, Iman (faith) implies that you affirm your faith in Allah, in His angels, in His Books, in His Prophets, in the Day of Judgment, and you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree about good and evil. Therefore, these texts and others like them denote that Allah (Exalted be He) has perfect Knowledge about what has happened and what is going to happen; that He decrees all the affairs of His creation and that He has absolute Will; what He wills happens and what He does not will does not happen. Secondly, it was authentically established that Allah is the All-Wise in His creation, His command and His legislation. Allah is the Most-Merciful to His servants as He sends the messengers to inform their respective Ummahs (nations) about the Books revealed and laws ordained by Allah. Out of His mercy and bounty, no person is charged with more than their capacity. Examples of this mercy include the exemption of the insane people from accountability until they regain their sanity; the minors until they attain puberty; those who are asleep until they wake up; those who forgot until they remember, those who lack the ability to do something until they are able to do it; those whom the message of Islam did not reach until it reaches them. (Part No. 3; Page No. 520) Based on Shari`ah and sound logic, there is a big difference between the movement of two persons: one is going upstairs and the other is falling down from a roof, for example. The first one may be advised to go to a good destination and avoid an evil one. Meanwhile, the other one may not be given that advice. Another example is the difference between the movement resulting from the shivering of a sick person and the usual movement of a healthy one. Knowing that shivering is involuntary, such a person should not be enjoined to do or not do anything concerning his shivering. Rather, people should feel sorry for him and help him get treatment. On the contrary, the movement of a healthy person can be appreciated if performed in the course of the lawful acts of worship, but forbidden if done in an unlawful manner during worship, or in the course of committing injustice and transgression. Therefore, the fact that no person is charged with what is beyond his capacity and the differentiation in legislation and reward between the two cases mentioned above and their like stand as proof that there is free will and choice in the case of the Mukallafs (persons meeting the conditions to be held legally accountable for their actions), but not in the case of those who are not so.Moreover, Allah (Exalted be He) is the Judge, Just, High, All-Wise, Kind, Bestower of Good. He does not oppress anyone to the extent of an atom's weight. He multiplies good deeds and forgives sins. There are explicit transmitted texts and actions affirming all these attributes of Allah. Owing to His perfect Wisdom and Mercy and His vast forgiveness, it is impossible for Allah to make His servants accountable without granting them the ability and the free will and volition of what they take and what they leave. Also, it is impossible for Him - due to His just Judgment and vast Wisdom - to punish His servants for an act into which they are compelled and forced.Hence, belief in the firm and just Divine Decree and the predestination of Allah is (Part No. 3; Page No. 521) among the established pillars of Iman which we must adhere to and accept. Also, it stands as evidence that a Mukallaf has free choice and the ability to do what is required by Shari`ah and sound logic. There is no way out except by abiding to it. If man is capable of realizing the secret of this issue through his intellect, he should thank Allah for granting him success. Meanwhile, if he fails due to his limited mind and comprehension, he should rely on Allah. Since He is the Highest, Omnipotent, All-Aware and All-Wise, Allah cannot be blamed for His predestination, legislation, and reward. Exalted is your Lord, the Lord of might, above what they describe. Peace be upon the Messengers. Praise is to the Lord of the worlds. Man should not engage in thinking about this issue lest he should get confused and commit sins. He should be voluntarily convinced of the Prophet's answer given to the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them) when they raised such issues. They said to the Prophet, shall we rely (on this fact and give up work)? He (peace be upon him) replied, Do perform good deeds, for everyone is facilitated in that for which he has been created. Al-Bukhari narrated through several chains of narrators from Abu `Abdul-Rahman Al-Sulamy from `Aly ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) who said We were in the company of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in a funeral procession at Baqi`-ul-Gharqad. He said, “There is none of you but has his place written for him in Jannah or in Hell-Fire.” They said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Shall we rely (on this fact and give up work)?” He said, “Carry on doing (good deeds), for every body will find it easy to do (what will lead him to his destined place).” Then he recited As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to Allâh and fears Him, And believes in Al-Husnâ. We will make smooth for him the path of ease (goodness). (Part No. 3; Page No. 522) Up to His saying, We will make smooth for him the path for evil. (Also narrated by Muslim and the Compilers of the Sunan (Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Al-Tirmidhy and Al-Nasa'y) ) May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.

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