15 Nov Questions on Destiny and Human Free Will.Part1
Question: Are we victims of Destiny? Do we have any part in the calamities befalling us?
Answer: As this question has been discussed earlier, I will a summarized account.
No one is a victim of Destiny. God does not destine our acts; rather, He creates whatever we will to do. Destiny’s decrees or verdicts are based on Its consideration of our free will.
We are directly responsible for whatever happens to us. If we experience misfortune, it is either because we have misused our free will or because, as with Prophets, God wills to promote us to higher ranks. For example, the sun is absolutely necessary for and indispensable to life. If we stay outside too long and die of sunstroke, can we blame the sun? Of course not, for we could have gone inside or taken sufficient precautions. In the same way, our free will (not Destiny) is responsible for any misfortune that comes our way. Blaming Destiny only causes the misfortune to worsen.
To cite another example: God Almighty created and endowed us with certain faculties or powers, one of which is lust. If we use this power improperly and thus harm ourselves, it can only be our fault. God gave us this power so that we may reproduce the species in the proper manner and be promoted to higher spiritual ranks by resisting our carnal self’s illicit suggestions. It is the same with anger. God Almighty gave it to us so that we can defend ourselves and our religious and social values, not to hurt others. Therefore, if an uncontrolled burst of anger causes us to kill someone, it is our fault, not Destiny’s.
Destiny relates to both the cause and the effect simultaneously. If we judge only by considering the effect, usually we make mistakes. For example, if we accuse a father of abusing his daughter while he only is trying to discipline her because he likes her or so that she may reform herself and learn how to behave properly, we would be wronging the father. We should consider all related information while judging any event. If we will cannot see any good in it, we should tell ourselves that whatever God does is good either in itself or in its consequences, and never accuse Destiny. This is what is meant by:
It may be that you dislike a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows but you know not (2:216).
In such calamities as earthquakes or floods, God usually does not choose between the good and the evil or the innocent and the guilty. Such calamities fall on everyone, for they are part of the tests and trials prepared for us and serve His purpose. However, in return for undergoing such calamities, good and innocent people will receive a great reward in the Hereafter. Also, it should be pointed out that sometimes God uses calamities to punish such people, because they do not try to enjoin what is good and prevent what is evil.
Whatever God does is the best and most proper. So, we should try to see His wisdom behind the good He bestows on us and the suffering to which He subjects us.
Question: Why does so insignificant a thing as free will cause one to deserve eternal Paradise or Hell?
Answer: When we compare God’s acts and creation with our own function in existence, we see that the role of human free will is really insignificant. As a result, some have denied it. Followers of the middle path in this matter have concluded that human free will is an inclination, something like or inclination, or more of a preference for one or more of our internal inclinations, and then acting upon that inclination. It is actually like flicking a switch to light a house or a city.
Before asking why God Almighty may condemn us to eternal Hellfire if we misuse of our free will during our short lifespan, we should think about whether we really can deserve eternal Paradise by using our free will correctly. Should we not consider whether we ever can thank God enough for the bounties He pours upon us? If we worshipped Him during our entire life without stopping, we could not thank Him enough even for our eyes.
As pointed out earlier, a pomegranate or a cherry has the same cost as the universe, for its growth or production requires the cooperation of air, water, soil, and the sun, none of which we could produce. Furthermore, God Almighty asks us to assign only a small amount of time for worship. We seldom need more than one hour to perform the five prescribed daily prayers. The amount of wealth we are enjoined to give in charity is, in most cases, only one-fortieth of what we have. We have to go on pilgrimage (hajj) only once, and only if we can afford it. The rest of our life and wealth is for worldly things. Despite this, God, the All-Merciful, promises us eternal Paradise, the blessings and beauties of which are beyond imagination. So first of all, we should think about God’s infinite mercy, which enfolds us and invites us to Paradise.