Dr. Marawan Shahin, Professor of Hadith and its Sciences, Faculty of Usul Ad-Din (Theology),Al-Azhar Univ. states: “It should be clear that Almighty Allah has written everything in our lives but not everything he has written for coercion or that we will be held accountable for it. Almighty Allah knows with His infinite knowledge the past, the present and the future. He knows when such a person will be born and whether he will be a believer or a non-believer. His knowledge is not for coercion because all what we have no control over it, we will not be held accountable for it. For example, we will not be held accountable because we are born in a certain time or for such and such a person. But Almighty Allah will hold us accountable for things that He gave us the free choice to choose between good and evil after He has sent us prophets and messengers to clarify the true path.

Almighty Allah has written every thing before we are born. But this writing or predestination is in the form of registering. There is a difference between Allah’s unconditional predestination with regard to things we have no control over and between things Almighty Allah knows with His infinite knowledge before their occurrence and He has given us the free will to choose. It should be also clear this right to choose is according to Allah’s Will Who in His Wisdom holds us accountable for only what we are
given free will to choose. He has given us the right to choose and clarified for us the right and wrong, the true path and the path of Satan and evil and at the same He knows what will be our behavior.”

Elaborating more on this issue, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
“The fact that all things are already decreed and pre-determined by Allah does not take away from men and women their freedom to choose, for that itself is part of the divine will.
no one can use the excuse of pre-determination for acting irresponsibly. Everyone knows quite well that he has a choice to do certain things, while he has no choice to do certain other things. No one therefore should use the excuse of divine will to justify some evil deed he has committed, for deep inside of him, he knew he had a choice to do it or not to do it.
Allah will punish us only if we have been given the choice. The Qur’an clearly teaches us that we humans are accountable only for such actions that we have control over, and that we would certainly not be accountable for those over which we did not have any control whatsoever.”
Elaborating more on the question of man’s free will, Sheikh Kutty adds:

“It is important that we form a sound notion about this issue, in order to avoid any confusion or misgivings.

The issue you have raised is commonly known as the doctrine of qadaa’ (Divine Decree) and qadar (pre-determination). This issue in so far as it is related to man’s freedom to choose has been a perennial issue that has been contentious in all world religions. The Qur’an provides us the foundations for a balanced approach to this issue. It balances our belief in the divine pre-determination with man’s will and freedom to choose and create his own destiny.

Essentially, the Qur’anic position states that while Allah has decreed all things, and that His Decree is at once all-wise and impeccable, human beings have been granted freedom to choose. The freedom granted to humans, however, does not contradict Allah’s Will or Decree, as it itself is a part of Allah’s Will, since man would not have been able to choose if not for Allah’s Will.

Islam teaches us that Allah is the Creator and Sustainer of this enormous universe and everything it contains in its infinite diversity and multiplicity. He is the Lord of them all, All-Wise, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and All-Aware. Allah has decreed all things in due proportion, balance and harmony. Allah’s creation is immaculately perfect, and there is no discrepancy or disharmony existing in the universe. Almighty Allah says: “(Blessed is He) Who has created seven heavens in tiers. You cannot see any disharmony in the All-Merciful’s creation; look again. Can you see any rift? Then look again, and yet again, your sight will return to you, vanquished and weak.” (Al-Mulk: 3-4)

Stated differently, the Divine Decree or pre-determination is part of the all-embracing knowledge, wisdom, and power of Allah as the Creator. It means that Allah’s Will is supreme, and that Allah is fully in charge of His creation. It teaches us that there is essentially one supreme Will operative in the universe, namely the supreme Will of Allah.

This is on the one hand. On the other hand, we are also taught that Allah, in accordance with His supreme Will, has appointed man as His vicegerent on earth. In His wisdom, Allah has bestowed on man intelligence, moral conscience and revelation. Allah has bestowed on him these resources in order for him to e
xercise freely between what is good and bad. Man is rewarded or punished based on such choices he has made.

Thus, the fact that Allah’s Decree is supreme does not contradict the fact that man has been given choice and freedom. But human freedom is not unlimited; it works within the all pervasive Will of Allah. Man’s choice is granted to him by Allah; man cannot choose without Allah’s Will; in so far he exercises his will, he does so by Allah’s Will. “But you cannot will unless Allah wills; Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Al-Insan: 30).

Let us list a few Qur’anic verses to further illuminate this concept:

“Say: ‘Truth is from your Lord’. Now whosoever will, may believe, and whosoever will, may disbelieve.” (Al-Kahf: 29). “If it had been your Lord’s will, all who are in the earth would have believed. Will you, then, force the people to become believers?” (Yunus: 99).

The above verses clearly establish the fact that human beings have the freedom to choose. So the belief in pre-determination is not opposed to man’s freedom to choose or act in the universe.

It was because of the balanced understanding concerning Divine Will and human choice that the early Muslims were the most active and dynamic in their approach to taking action to improve themselves and the society around them. Their belief in qadaa’ and qadar, instead of making them passive and complacent, acted as a powerful impetus for change. They believed that nothing in the universe could stop them if they believed in Allah and their own power to realize what is beneficial. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘Always entertain positive and beneficial thoughts, and seek the help of Allah in accomplishing your tasks, and never feel helpless or impotent. If, in spite of your best efforts, something does not work out the way you had planned, then simply say: that was Allah’s Will; He does what He wills. But never say to yourself: I wish I had done this or that; if it had been so, it would have been different. For such thoughts (are not constructive at all and) only open the door for Satan to act!’