Responses To Sunni Brothers

First, a Sunni brother made the comment that I am accusing ALL Sunni scholars of being fatalists, when in reality, this is NOT the case. My response was:

First, I did not say that "ALL" the Sunni scholars are fatalists; rather, the MAJORITY. Moreover, most of the scholars preaching in the Mosques share the view of fatalism, and, as such, have contributed to the corruption of the youths, who are the seeds of the future.

It is a betrayal of the scholarly trust when a SCHOLAR BLINDLY accepts tradition and what others say. (NOTE: I emphasize the word "scholar" because I am NOT talking about the layman who CANNOT interpret complex philosophical issues and sophisticated matters of jurisprudence.

But for a scholar, who is in a position to give "Fatwas -- Religious Opinions," to blindly become fatalistic is unacceptable in its entirety.) Indeed, Allah (SWT) challenged the Jews and the Christians by saying: ".....Bring forth your argument (proof) if ye are telling the truth! [27:64]" As such, it is MANDATORY for such scholars to provide proof to support their view of fatalism.

Keep in mind that in Islam, the theory of proofs is as follows: If two proofs are presented, and each proof is strong enough to equal the other proof, they cancel each other out, and new proofs will be sought. However, if one of the proofs is stronger than the other, then the stronger proof prevails and becomes dominant. As far as Free Will vs. Fatalism is concerned, clearly Free Will, as I presented it, wins hands down.

Note also that this article depicts what the MAINSTREAM Sunnis and what the MAINSTREAM Shia believe. Undoubtedly, there are Sunni scholars and individuals who are NOT blind fatalists, and there are Shi'i scholars and individuals who ARE blind fatalists. Neither group represents MAINSTREAM thought within either faction.

Second, another Sunni brother stated that I neglected the following verses in my analysis:

surah 74

  1. Nay this surely is an admonition:

  2. Let any who will keep it in remembrance!

  3. But none will keep it in remembrance except as Allah wills: He is the Lord of Righteousness and the Lord of Forgiveness.

surah 76

  1. This is an admonition: whosoever will let him take a (straight) Path to his Lord.
  2. But ye will not except as Allah wills; for Allah is full of Knowledge and Wisdom.
  3. He will admit to His Mercy Whom He will; but the wrongdoers for them has He prepared a grievous Penalty.

surah 57

  1. No misfortune can happen on earth or in your souls but is recorded in a decree before We bring it into existence: that is truly easy for Allah:

  2. In order that ye may not despair over matters that pass you by nor exult over favors bestowed upon you. For Allah loveth not any vainglorious boaster My response was as follows:

With regards to the above verses, and your claim that I am more in favor of Free Will than Fatalism, thereby neglecting the above verses, I offer the following:

What Allah (SWT) is saying in the above verses, among others, when He (SWT) states: "But ye will not except as Allah wills...." is NOT as you understand it to be. Please remember the following very important sentence:

SOME OF THE WILL OF ALLAH CHENGES BASED ON OUR ACTION. It is not fixed. This serves as Half-Free Will for the human. It is all the Will of Allah, but SOME of His Will are modified by Himself. (We do not modify it. He modifies it based on our actions). Quran gives evidence to this fact:

"Allah removes what He wills, and confirms (what He wills), and with Him is the Essence of the Book. [13:39]"

Also this:

"Allah does not change the situation of any group of people, unless they change what is in themselves. [13:11]"

Also the following two verse in which Allah changed the decision in real time, base on the weakness appeared to the companions:

8:65 "O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty steadfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a hundred steadfast they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the disbelievers) are a folk without intelligence."

8:66 "Now, has Allah lightened your (duty), for He knowes that there is weakness in you. So if there be of you a steadfast hundred they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a thousand (steadfast) they shall overcome two thousand by permission of Allah. Allah is with the steadfast. [8:65-66]"

Also look at this:

"But those who do ill deeds and afterward repent and believe lo! for them, then after that, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. [7:153]"

Note that Allah changes His decision after the action of human (here is repentance). There are many more verses similar to above (see 16:110, 16:119, etc...)

Allah (SWT) has given you the freedom to act and do whatever you want WITHIN the CONFINES of your abilities. Now Allah (SWT) can interfere at ANYTIME to change a matter without any inhibition from ANYONE.

As such, His (SWT) Will to INTERFERE and change a matter prevails over His (SWT) creation's will. So Allah (SWT) Wills in the sense that He (SWT) ALLOWS an event to occur, without Him (SWT) stopping it from happening.

That is His (SWT) Will, NOT that He (SWT) forces you to do something, and then punishes you for it. (Exalted be Allah (SWT) from such an inference!) Given that fact, Allah (SWT) can, for example, intervene to return Palestine to the Muslims, but He (SWT) doesn't.

That DOES NOT mean that Allah (SWT) approves of having Palestine in the hands of the Jews, but rather Allah (SWT) has a more sublime wisdom in not interfering.

Now, the obvious question is: Why doesn't Allah (SWT) interfere, for example, to help the Muslims that are being slaughtered in Bosnia, or elsewhere?

The answer is as follows: Going back to the Free Will argument, you are responsible for your acts. If Allah (SWT) interferes to prevent evil from happening, then who will be held accountable? It is this "Accountability Principle" that precludes the interference of Allah (SWT) in many (not all) situations.

That DOES NOT mean, however, that Allah (SWT) NEVER intervenes or that He (SWT) approves of the matter, but rather Allah (SWT) intervenes only when He (SWT), Himself (SWT), sees a reason to do so, as when He (SWT) intervened and helped the Prophet Abraham (AS) from the fire of the nonbelievers, among other examples.

Why did Allah (SWT) intervene then? That's where your faith in Allah's (SWT) wisdom comes into play. Do you believe in Allah (SWT) to the extent that you trust what He (SWT) does, EVEN if you don't fully understand it? If yes, then you have answered the question for yourself. If not, then you have a weak faith which is in need of some strengthening.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, I (myself, not Dr. al-Tijani) realize that many points presented in this article are NOT easy to comprehend, nor are they meant for the average person; however, I have deeply suffered from the problem of Free Will and Fatalism, and my agony throughout that ordeal is virtually beyond description.

As such, I do not wish anybody to suffer as I have. Let me also assert that my PERSONAL opinion is that Fatalism in Islamic societies is one of THE MOST damaging ideologies around; it fosters a COMPLETE paralysis of intellectual and physical exertions, and promotes decay from within the community.

It is a GREAT SHAME that we should profoundly suffer due to a false ideology. We have been deceived for all these years (1400 or so), while the Shia have always had the answer to this perplexing question. It is the irony of life that we mock those who possess knowledge, while we praise our own ignorance!

Given that, I leave you with the same questions: "Are you realistic when you claim that Allah (SWT) FORCES you into committing evil, and then punishes you for it? If Allah (SWT) has created me a Kafir, why then should I bother and rectify myself? What difference would it make -- I have already been judged?"

Divine Justice and the Problem of Evil

Throughout the history of thought and action, the justice of God has been a problem which has occupied the mind of nearly every philosopher. The most important reason for this attention is that they have been aware of deprivation, poverty, exploitation and tyranny amongst human societies.

Being aware of these bitter facts, some have been led to doubt the justice of God, or even doubt the existence of God. Others have tried to somehow justify this seeming contradiction between God being just and the above mentioned miseries.

This article is a small attempt to prove two points:

  1. God's justice is a reality.
  2. If God is just, it does not mean that individuals have to accept their present social situations; but on the contrary, IT MEANS THAT THEY SHOULD CHANGE IT.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PROBLEM

If there is just God why is there so much evil. There is death, war, earthquake, hunger, bitter conditions of life .....etc. The argument then follows that either there is no God or there is a cruel God, who, like a monster, enjoys seeing us suffer!

This question has been answered in many ways in different ages. Some of them are as follows and we shall have a brief look at them:

  1. God is the Perfect Being, and justice is part of perfection. Therefore, God is just. So whatever of injustice we see in the world, will be rectified eventually. In other words, He has no needs, and injustice is either from ignorance and fanaticism, or from need, and none of these are conceivable for the Perfect Being.

Imam Husain, in the deserts of Arafat, before being martyred by the enemy, said: "O' God! you are so needless that you yourself can not benefit yourself. How then, can we give anything to you?!"

  1. Evil is necessary for the greater good. Refraining from thousand goods for the sake of one evil, is itself a great evil.

  2. Man's freedom is the cause of evil. Here freedom is not in political sense. It means being able to do good or bad. It is only mankind who has this ability. He can be kind or he can be cruel.

He can be a humanist or he can be an oppressive tyrant and killer. Leibniz, the 17th century philosopher, is one of those who believe that man's freedom is the cause of evil. He wrote: "Free will is a great good, but it was logically impossible for God to give freedom and at the same time decree that there should be no sin. So God decided to make man free although sin inevitably brought punishment."

This view can explain wars and social injustices, but can not explain earthquakes, death, illness, etc.

  1. Evil is a negative thing.

SUFFERING AND NOT EVIL

Now, let us go bit deeper in the problem. What we should say at this point is that we commit a mistake by using the term evil. We should rather use: suffering or hardship. By doing this we have not done anything against reality or any logical necessity. In the term evil there is a concept of injustice hidden. We shall avoid using it, because it is a loaded word.

LIMITLESS DESIRES

Now, by looking at concrete experiences and the nature of things, and also looking at our internal and external factors of life, we see that they are not set in manner to always coincide with our desires and wishes.

The limitlessness of our desires from one hand, and the mathematical nature of the universe on the other, is the cause of our illegitimate annoyance. For example, we want to have absolute knowledge. We want to possess absolute ownership of the world without being disturbed. We do not want to get sick.

On the other hand, neither does our existential factors give value to these desires, nor do the natural elements abide to these wishes. And since our internal nature and the world itself do not permit our limitless desires, we raise our hands to the sky and say: O' God! what an evilful universe!

But, somebody who knows that the paraffin in his lamp is limited, will not complain after its extinction. One who knows that this lamp which he has lit, is not safe from winds, will not scream when the wind blows it out. The system of the natural world is the same, and one who lives in it, can not come out of the flow of that system.

So, we are obliged to accept that there is suffering. The question to ask is that, is it logical to say that these sufferings are against justice? (Note that we are not talking about sufferings caused by human: wars, torture, poverty...).

The answer to the question is negative, since we have to understand the various meanings of justice. There is sentimental justice, like a mother offering all her love for her child. There is legal justice. There is also moral and philosophical justice. I will try to define the last two:

Philosophical Justice: Every subject and phenomenon should travel in its appropriate line and flow towards its perfection.

Moral Justice: Do not inflict any suffering on anything else.

Philosophical justice means that even if the sick screams and complains, we should give him the bitter medicine that he needs to take, and do the surgery which is for his good.