We believe and The Holy Quran tells us that Allah is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent, meaning Allah is all powerful. Allah knows the past, the present and the future. Allah is everywhere. In Islam, belief in divine decree and predestination is an article of faith. How do we reconcile free will and pre-destination?
Allah says in The Holy Quran And He revealed to it what is wrong for it and what is right for it. He, indeed, prospers who purifies it. And he is ruined who corrupts it. (91:9-11) . Meaning it is implanted in man’s nature to discern right from wrong. It is up to him to him on how he/she chooses to act. Allah has given man free will and the tools to act righteously and fend off evil. Man is the only creation that has been given free will. Angels only do what they are told to do by Allah. Animals and insects have been given instincts, or have it embedded in their DNA and they keep doing that over and over without thought. As we read about the honey bees: And thy Lord has inspired the bee…there comes forth from their bellies a drink of varying hues … (16:69-70)
Thus, human beings are endowed with the ability to change, modify their predestination (wealth, health, deeds etc.). It is up to man on how to use it. Man cannot change divine decree (date of birth, date of death, family etc.) Allah also clearly declares Allah has decreed: Most surely, it is I who will prevail, I and My Messengers. Verily, Allah is Powerful, Mighty. (58:22)
Allah’s Power and Knowledge does not mean that He exercises control. He does not micromanage. It is not His practice. He has given us the compass of conscience and free will and He wants us to use it for the beneficence of man. It is like parents having taught their children right and wrong and then letting go when they become adults, hoping, and praying that they will do the right things and seek help and advice when needed… The Promised Messiah (as) says: therefore, it is narrated in a Hadith: Istaff til Qalba. Meaning, seek a verdict from your heart. One has not been instructed to seek a verdict from one’s brain. It is the heart with which the line of divinity is linked.
Within the context of Allah’s grace and mercy, He encourages us to call a Friend . You need Allah’s help to change things, Allah, says “Ud‘uni astajib lakum”-Call Me and I shall respond to you ( 40:61). The Promised Messiah (as) says : Allah hears and accepts the supplication of believers which are offered in humility and sincerity, and that the acceptance of prayer sets in motion its own chain of causes which culminates in the fulfilment of the objective prayed for…it is man’s nature to seek help when in distress, and it is due to this natural faculty that he prays without giving a thought to whether or not his prayer will be granted. He prays because it has been ingrained in his nature to seek everything from God… if we were to take everything to have been predetermined, it would be as ineffectual to use or not to use medicine as it would be to pray or not to pray.
For Allah it is like watching a replay of an event. He knows all that will happen and the end. He may or may not interfere consistent with His design and practice. His grace and mercy may interfere in our favor based on prayers of our elders or we may facilitate and perhaps expedite it by calling on Him and ask Him for help. The more we call on Him, the more He responds and the more we can change our lives and destiny for the better. His mercy trumps all other attributes (7:157). Allah tells The Prophet (sa) to Say, “O My servants who have committed excesses against their own souls! despair not of the mercy of Allah, surely Allah forgives all sins. Verily He is Most Forgiving, Merciful. (39:54)
Free will is God’s grace. It must be sublimated to achieving excellence in worship and service. As Allah says: This grace is from Allah, and sufficient is Allah, the All-Knowing (4:71)