First of all, we’d like to make it clear that Islam ordains Muslims to make use of the available means and do their best to bring themselves benefits and ward off evils and harm, all the while believing, heart and soul, that this all cannot be achieved without Almighty Allah’s will. Allah’s foreknowledge of man’s actions doesn’t contradict making use of the available means, as Allah has predestined the outcomes of events and predetermined the means leading to them. Thus, Allah’s support to someone does not mean not making use of the means to bring benefits and ward off evil while putting one’s trust in Allah Who only knows the past, the present and the future.
Elaborating more on this issue, we’d like to cite the fatwa issued by the eminent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi who states the following:
“The issue has been debated for years. Islam has given a complete answer to it, as illustrated in the following points:
1. Everything in this universe is predestined and registered with Almighty Allah. This is an established principle in Islam, though we do not know the kind or nature of this registering. All what Muslims should know in this regard is that Almighty Allah has created this universe and everything therein according to a predetermined measurement with Him and that He is All-Knowing over everything and keeps count of all things. Everything taking place in this universe happens within His knowledge and will. He Almighty says:
(And not an atom’s weight in the earth or in the sky escapes your Lord, nor what is less than that or greater than that, but it is (written) in a clear Book.) (Yunus 10:61)
(Not a leaf falls but He knows it, not a grain amid the darkness of the earth, naught of wet or dry but (it is noted) in a clear record. ) (Al-An`am 6:59).
Naught of disaster befalls in the earth or in yourselves but it is in a Book before We bring it into being. Lo! That is easy for Allah.) (Al-Hadid 57:22)
2. This foreknowledge of Almighty Allah and His keeping count of all things and registering them before they happen do not contradict working hard and making use of the available means. Almighty Allah has predetermined the outcomes of events. He has also predetermined the means leading to these outcomes. For instance, He Almighty does not predetermine a student’s success haphazardly; in order for a student to succeed, he or she is to undertake the available means leading to success such as hard work, attention in class, and perseverance. One’s acting according to the available means does not contradict predestination; on the contrary, it is part of this predestination. That is why when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked whether medical treatments and protective statements of dhikr might ward off Allah’s predestination, he (peace and blessings be upon him) decisively answered, “They are (part) of Allah’s destination” (Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and At-Tirmidhi).
When plague was widespread in the Levant during the caliphate of `Umar, he, after consulting the other Companions with him, decided not to enter it. Some people said to him, “Do you flee from Allah’s predestination?” He (may Allah be pleased with him) answered, “Yes, I flee from Allah’s predestination to Allah’s predestination too. Suppose that there are two pieces of land, one fertile and the other barren. If I farmed the fertile one, would I not be doing so according to Allah’s predestination? and if I farmed the barren one, would this not be too according to Allah’s predestination!” (Bukhari and Muslim)
3. Predestination is a matter of the Unseen. We know that something is predestined only after it takes place. Before its occurrence we are ordained to follow the natural laws of doing things and the teachings of sharia so that we bring about benefits in both this world and the Hereafter. This requires us to make use of the lawful available means of doing things, as did the person who most believed in Allah’s predestination, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). In the beginning of the Islamic call, he advised the Muslims under persecution in Makkah to migrate to Abyssinia. In the Hijrah to Madinah, he took all the required precautions and preparations for guaranteeing a safe journey.
For example, he prepared the camels that would take him and his companion Abu Bakr to Madinah, changed the route [to throw off pursuit], hired the guide that would show them that route, hid in a cave during the journey, arranged someone to bring them food and water [while they hid in the cave], and provided his family with means of sustenance that would suffice them for about a year. Mind that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not leave his family without sustenance, depending on Providence alone in this regard.
In the battles against the disbelievers, he would take all the required precautions too: He would send scouts to bring him information about the enemy, wear armor and a helmet, distribute archers, etc. When a person asked him whether he could untie his camel and depend on Allah to protect it for him or he had to tie it, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) answered him, “Tie it and depend on Allah (in all your affairs after making use of all the required means)” (Ibn Hibban, Ibn Khuzaimah and At-Tabarani).
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also said, “One should run away from the leper as one runs away from a lion” (Al-Bukhari) and, “The cattle suffering from a disease should not be mixed with healthy cattle (as a precaution)”(Al-Bukhari).
4. Lazy and sinful people should not attribute their failure and sins to predestination. Doing so is a sign of inability and denial of responsibility. May Allah have mercy upon Dr. Muhammad Iqbal who said, “A Muslim of weak faith does nothing and attributes his failure to predestination; while a Muslim of strong faith does his best and if he then fails, he says this is Allah’s predestination that cannot be avoided.” The early Muslims were of this latter type. In one of the battles of the Islamic conquests, Al-Mughirah bn Shu`bah entered unto a Roman leader who asked, “Who are you?” Al-Mughirah answered, “We are Allah’s predestination that has befallen you, so had you been on a cloud, we would have ascended to you or you would have descended to us!”
Hence, a person should not attribute his failure to predestination until he has spared no effort to avoid this failure. Two Muslims were wrestling before the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). The defeated person said at the end of wrestling, “Allah suffices me.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saw this statement as reflecting the man’s failure and laziness to resist his opponent in the game; hence the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to him, “Almighty Allah blames His servants for laziness, so you are to do your best and if, after this, you are overcome, you can then say ‘Allah suffices me.'”
5. There are multiple fruits for truly believing in Almighty Allah’s predestination. He who does his best in all fields and carries out all his duties while putting all trust in Almighty Allah, will be granted hope when he is faced with disappointment, courage and perseverance when struggling and facing danger, patience on being afflicted with calamities, and satisfaction with his licit gains even if they are small.”
Having clarified the above, it becomes clear that there is no conflict between making use of the available means to attain something good or to ward off evil and Allah’s support or Predestination and Will.