Does Allah Predestine Disobedience?

It is not correct for a Muslim to use Allah’s predestination to claim that he has no hand in committing evil, because Allah has granted him the power to choose between good and bad. However, it is permissible to evoke predestination in case one is stricken by calamity, because this will be a sign of showing surrender to the will of Allah and acceptance of His decree.

Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Muslim scholar and lecturer, states: “The fact that Allah knows what we will do from eternity and has written that down is not an excuse, because His all-encompassing knowledge means that He knows what His creation will do, but that does not imply any kind of compulsion. Citing predestination as an excuse for committing sin or for not doing obligatory duties is a false excuse, according to Shari`ah, common sense, and reality. Rather, predestination may be blamed when calamities such as poverty, sickness, loss of a loved one, destruction of crops, loss of wealth, accidental killing, and so on befall a person. This is a sign of full acceptance of Allah as one’s Lord. In this case blaming predestination is only valid when it has to do with calamities, not faults.

The following example will help to explain this further: If a man is speeding in his car and fails to drive safely and causes an accident, then he is blamed for that and called to account. If he gives predestination as an excuse, that excuse will not be accepted from him. Whereas if a person’s car is struck while it is stationary and another person blames him and he responds by referring to predestination, this will be acceptable, unless he was parked in the wrong place. The point is that whatever a person does and whatever choices he makes cannot be excused by referring to predestination, but whatever is beyond his will and control may correctly be attributed to predestination.

Hence Adam and Moses (peace be upon them) disputed, as is described in the hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who said: “Adam and Moses disputed. Moses said to him: ‘You are Adam whose sin caused you to be expelled from Paradise.’ Adam said to him: ‘You are Moses whom Allah chose to convey His message and to speak to; are you blaming me for something that Allah decreed for me before I was created?’ So Adam won the argument with Moses.” (Muslim). Adam (peace be upon him) did not cite qadar (destiny) as an excuse for his sin as those who do not think about the meaning of the hadith may imagine; and Moses (peace be upon him) did not blame Adam for his sin because he knew that Adam had asked his Lord for forgiveness and repented, and his Lord had accepted his repentance and guided him, and the one who repents from sin is like one who did not sin.

If Moses had blamed Adam for his sin, he would have replied, “I sinned but then I repented, and Allah accepted my repentance,” or he would have said, “You, Moses, also killed a soul, and you threw down the Tablets,” and so on. Rather Moses referred to the calamity and Adam responded by referring to predestination. (See Al-Ihtijaj bil-Qadar by Sheik Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah.). Whatever calamities are divinely decreed, we must accept them, for that is part of full acceptance of Allah as one’s Lord. With regard to sins, no one has the right to sin; if he does commit sin then he has to seek forgiveness and repent, so he should repent from sin and be patient in the face of calamity (Sharh At-Tahawiyyah). Some of the scholars said that one of those who are justified in citing predestination as an excuse is the one who repents from sin, so if anyone blames him for a sin from which he has repented, he may refer to predestination in this case. If it is said to one who has repented, “Why did you do such and such?” and he responds by saying, “That happened by the will and decree of Allah, but I have repented and asked forgiveness,” this excuse is acceptable in his case, because in his case the sin is like a calamity that befell him, and he did not cite predestination as an excuse for his negligence; rather he is referring to the calamity that befell him, which is disobedience towards Allah. Undoubtedly sin is a kind of calamity, and he is referring to predestination after the sin took place, and he is admitting his sin. So no one has the right to condemn the one who has repented from sin. What matters is how a person ends up, not the shortcomings that he may commit in the beginning.