The Shia and the Question of Destiny

Now, for the Shia's opinion on Free Will and Fatalism:

Dr. al-Tijani has met with the Great Scholars of the Twelver Shi'ite in Iraq. Among those he talked to are: The Martyr Muhammad Baqr al-Sadr, al- Khoie, Muhammad Ali al-Tabatabai, al- Hakim, and many others (May Allah (SWT) have mercy on those that have passed away, and on those that remain). Dr. al-Tijani narrates what these great scholars explained to him:

When al-Imam Ali (AS) was asked about Free Will and Fatalism, he (AS) said: (NOTE: This is a VERY hard quote to translate; thus, this translation is ROUGH at best, but it does convey the point):

"Woe to you! Did you think that it was a mandatory destiny, and a final will? If it was as such, then reward and punishment would have no value, and admonition and exhortation would totally fail!

Allah (SWT) has ordered His (SWT) servants to obey Him (SWT) voluntarily, and asked them to cease doing evil as a warning to them (from punishment); and He (SWT) has ordained easy (simple) things in religion, and He (SWT) has not ordained difficult (hard) duties.

He (SWT) has given for the small amount of good deeds you do, a great reward; and He (SWT) is never disobeyed as a sign of His (SWT) defeat (or lack of power and ability); and He (SWT) is not obeyed [or worshipped] through coercion and force, rather voluntarily.

He (SWT) has not sent Prophets and Messengers as part of a game He (SWT) is playing; nor did He (SWT) send down the Books (revealed scripture) for no reason. And He (SWT) did not create the Heavens and the Earths as a falsehood (triviality); That, indeed, is the belief of the nonbelievers: Woe to the nonbelievers from the hellfire..."

NOTE: The latter part of the speech: "That, indeed, is the belief of the nonbelievers: Woe to the nonbelievers from the hellfire......" is a verse from the Quran that al-Imam Ali (AS) concluded with.

Dr. al-Tijani, when he first heard this, was filled with joy to know that it is HE who controls his actions, and it is HE who is responsible for doing good deeds to enter heaven. And it is not, as the Sunni scholars claim, the Will of Allah (SWT) for him to enter hell.

Dr. al-Tijani says: al-Imam Ali (AS) struck the nail on the head when he (AS) said: "...and He (SWT) is never disobeyed as a sign of His (SWT) defeat (or lack of power and ability);..." For if Allah (SWT) wanted to force ANYBODY into doing something, NOTHING can stop Him (SWT). Rather it is a corroboration by al- Imam Ali (AS) to what Allah (SWT) said:

"Say, `The Truth is from your Lord` Let him who will, believe (it); and let him who will, reject (it)...[18:29]"

Then al-Imam Ali (AS) strikes the inner workings of the mind and consciousness by asserting that if EVERYTHING was the Will of Allah (SWT), then the function of the Prophets and Messengers would be a total waste of time. Again, if EVERYTHING was the Will of Allah (SWT), Revealed Scripture would have no value either; this would clearly violate the verses of the Quran:

"Verily this Quran doth guide to that which is most right (or stable), and giveth the glad tidings to the believers who work deeds of righteousness, that they shall have a magnificent reward. [17:9]"

So the Quran IS a book that guides people (which means that It was revealed for the purpose of guiding mankind), and the believers are AT LIBERTY to "...work deeds of righteousness..."

The contention is that if EVERYTHING was the Will of Allah (SWT), why would Allah (SWT) send Messengers to warn us, when He (SWT) has already judged us? What good is it to do any kind of deeds (good or bad), when the judgment for these deeds has already been rendered, regardless of what you do?

We have seen many sects in Islam that have either said: EVERYTHING is the Will of Allah (SWT) --This is Jabriyyah; or those who said: EVERYTHING is Free Will --This is Qadariyyah. Both views are wrong, because they are not realistic.

Can you control to which parents you are born to, for example? Or is it realistic to believe that Allah (SWT) FORCES you to drink alcohol, and then punishes you for it? The answer to both questions is: OBVIOUSLY NOT!

The Shia, however, have struck it right: al-Imam Ja'far al- Sadiq (AS) said:

"It is not TOTAL Free Will, nor is it TOTAL Fatalism; rather, it is a matter between [those] two matters."

When a man asked al-Imam al-Sadiq (AS) what he (AS) meant by the above quote, al-Imam al-Sadiq (AS) answered: "To walk on the ground is not the same as to fall on it!" What a response!!! (My comment!) Here's what it means: You walk on the ground voluntarily, but it may happen to you that you fall because something unexpected happened to you (for instance, some body hit you from the back).

Who among you wants to fall on the ground on purpose? Such is the wisdom of the Imams, the progeny of the Seal of Prophecy (PBUH&HF). So Qada Wa Qadr is a matter between two matters: Some things we can control, and others we can't; it is a mixture of Free Will and Allah's (SWT) Will.

This belief is closer to reason than what all the other schools say. Moreover, a human being is ONLY liable for that which he has a will [and control] over; and Allah (SWT) will judge him on those deeds that he voluntarily committed, NOT the ones that he has no control over. Allah (SWT) says:

"By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it; and its inspiration as to its wrong and its right;-- Truly he succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it. [91:7-10]"

Indeed, he who purifies his soul is destined to succeed, and he who corrupts it is destined to failure. That is where your choice comes in.

Again, things like the operation of the Universe, the movement of the planets, ones own sex at birth, one's color of skin, one's parents, and so on,

we have no will or control over, and we will NOT be held responsible for; but whether or not to be believers, killers, hypocrites, commit adultery, feed our children, and so on, we do have control over, and we WILL be held accountable for them.

As a conclusion to the matter, and a final display of the superior knowledge of the Imams, I quote the following: al-Imam Ali Ibn Musa al-Rida (AS), the Eighth Imam, was 14 years old when he (AS) was asked about what al- Imam al-Sadiq (AS) meant by "a matter between [those] two matters?" At 14 years of age, al-Imam Ali Ibn Musa al-Rida (AS) said:

"He who says that Allah (SWT) FORCES us to do our actions, subscribes to the school of Fatalism (Jabriyyah). He who says that Allah (SWT) has left the matter of birth, creation, and wealth to the Hujjahs, subscribes to the school of Free Will (Qadariyyah)."

[NOTE: Hujjah means "Proof." It includes Prophets, Messengers, and the Imams. The significance of the word is that the Prophets, Messengers, and Imams command what Allah (SWT) wants, and serve as a proof against the people they have been sent to; as such, they are Allah's (SWT) "Proofs" on Earth.] Then Imam (AS) continues...

"He who subscribes to Fatalism (Jabriyyah) is a Kafir (Nonbeliever), and he who subscribes to Free Will (Qadariyyah) is a Mushrik (Polytheist)."

"As for the matter between two matters, it is the seeking of the path that leads to the fulfillment of Allah's (SWT) orders. Allah (SWT) has given man the ability and freedom to do good (deeds) or not to do good (deeds); and, Allah (SWT) has given man the ability and freedom to do evil (deeds) or not to do evil (deeds), then He (SWT) ordered him to do good (deeds), and prohibited him from doing evil (deeds)."

Such is the great knowledge of the Imams, may Allah (SWT) bless them all. It is no surprise that even at the age of 14, they are so knowledgeable; for it only confirms what the Prophet (PBUH&HF) said about them:

"Don't get too far ahead of them, or you'll be destroyed. Nor stay far behind them, or you'll also be destroyed. And don't try to teach them, for they are far more knowledgeable than you are."

This tradition is mentioned in: Usd al-Ghabah, by Ibn Athir, v3, p137; al- Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah by Ibn Hajar, p148; Majma' al-Zawa'id, v9, p163; Yanabee' al-Mawada, p41; al-Durr al-Manthoor by al-Suyuti, v2, p60; Kanz al- 'Umal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, v1, p168; and `Aqabat al-Anwar, v1, p184.

The Caliphate and The Question of Qada Wa Qadar

The strange thing about the Sunni belief is that while they believe that EVERYTHING is the Will of Allah (SWT), they stubbornly attach themselves to the contention that the Prophet (PBUH&HF) left the matter of the Caliphate (Succession) for them to decide upon.

The Shia believe the exact opposite of what the Sunnis believe with regards to this issue (i.e., succession). While it is true that the Shia ardently support the concept of Half-Free Will, they will NOT apply it to the concept of the Caliphate (Succession).

The Shia believe that the Successor to a ANY Prophet or Messenger is a matter that ONLY Allah (SWT) decides upon; and they can have NO say in the matter. As such, it is the belief of Twelver Shi'ite that al-Imam Ali (AS) was chosen by Allah (SWT) to succeed the Prophet (PBUH&HF).

Prima Facie (superficially), this appears to be a contradiction on the part of both parties, but the truth is otherwise.

The Sunnis when they claim that EVERYTHING is the Will of Allah (SWT), they make Allah (SWT) the ACTUAL EXECUTOR of His (SWT) Will; and they are left with an IMAGINARY WILL of their own.

So it was the Companions (along with `Umar) that chose Abu Bakr after the death of the Prophet (PBUH&HF); but, in actuality, they were only executing Allah's (SWT) Will (i.e., the companions were only instruments used by Allah (SWT) to execute His (SWT) Will.). That is the Sunnis's interpretation of the events.

The Shia, however, when they assert that Allah (SWT) has given His (SWT) servants the freedom of choice, they DO NOT contradict themselves by stating that ONLY Allah (SWT) chooses the Chaliph (Successor). For Allah (SWT) states in the Quran:

"Thy Lord does create and CHOOSE AS HE PLEASES: NO CHOICE have they (in the matter)...[28:68]"

"And We made them Imams, guiding (men) by Our command, and We inspired them to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and to give Zakat; and they constantly served Us (and Us only). [21:73]"

"And We appointed from among them, Imams, giving guidance under Our command, so long as they persevered with patience and continued to have faith in Our Signs. [32:24]"

[NOTE: In the above two verses A.Yusuf Ali uses the term "Leaders" instead of "Imams;" however, the Arabic Quran uses the word IMAMS -- Check for yourselves.]

"And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands, which he fulfilled: He (Allah) said: I will make thee an Imam to the people. He (Abraham) pleaded: And also (Imams) from my offspring! He (Allah) answered: But My Promise is not within the reach of evil-doers. [2:124]"

So, as we see from the above verses, the matter of Succession (Chaliphate) is just like that of Prophethood -- People have NO SAY in it. Allah (SWT) is the One who chose Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and the rest of the Prophets, Messengers, and Imams; and there's NOTHING people can do about it.

However, the Free Will component lies in the fact that you AT LIBERTY to believe in or reject ANY Prophet sent to you, as has happened throughout the history of mankind (i.e., some people believed, while others rejected the Prophets.). A true believer will accept Allah's (SWT) orders, and attain felicity; while a nonbeliever will reject Allah's (SWT) Signs, and suffer the consequences. Indeed, Allah (SWT) says:

"...whosoever follows My guidance, will not lose his way, nor fall into misery. But whosoever turns away from My message, verily for him is a life narrowed down, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Judgment. He will say: O my Lord!

Why hast thou raised me up blind, while I had sight (before)? (Allah) will say: Thus didst thou, when Our Signs came unto thee, forgot them: so wilt thou, this day, be forgotten. [20:123-126]"

Now, if we objectively analyze both viewpoints: that of the Sunnis, and that of the Shia, we will discover that the Sunnis's viewpoint literally holds Allah responsible (SWT) for EVERYTHING in the Universe, whether it be good or bad.

Whereas, the Shia have clearly vindicated Allah (SWT) from such impurities, and have proved that EACH Soul shall reap what it has sown. Which viewpoint is closer to reason? One that blames Allah, THE Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, or one that makes YOU responsible for your own actions? I leave the answer for the enlightened reader to provide.