Allah's will and His foreknowledge

Q29 :A person who loses his job or money as a result of his negligence may blame Allah for that, saying that it is His will. The total earnings of a person in his lifetime are already determined by Allah. Why should a man work, then? Please explain what powers Allah has given to man. Normally we find hard workers well off while lazy people are poor.


A29 : Sometimes people find it easy to put the blame on Allah's will for what happens to them through their own faults. The example you have mentioned is a typical one. A person may be warned once or twice by his employers about negligence, but pays no heed. Eventually he finds himself out of job. He then starts to justify the whole thing as something that would have happened anyway, because it is Allah's will which cannot be stopped. But what is Allah's will in the matter? What we have to understand is that Allah has placed man on earth and charged him with the task of building human life. He had given him his freedom of choice which makes him able to choose, in any situation, his course of action. This ability of man is part of Allah's will. Hence, it has to operate in human life. If it did not, then man would have been exactly like animals who have no say in how they live and how they are affected by the world around them. Allah has also willed that the law of cause and effect will operate to the full in human life. Thus, if a man exposes himself to severe wintry weather, he gets cold and he feels himself in need of having a fire or a source of heating nearby. It is Allah's will which makes man affected by weather conditions. It is also Allah's will to give man the ability to think about what sort of action he could take to reduce the severity of the situation in which he finds himself. He thus thinks about having some sort of heating. It is Allahs' will to make the man able to decide whether to switch the heating on or not. But whether man chooses to switch it on or not is his own action, determined by his free choice. If he does, he gets warmer. If he does not, he continues to suffer in the cold. There maybe some constraints which motivate man to act in a certain fashion, but it is he who weighs up the possibilities open to him and makes his own decision. If a man decides not to switch his heater on, he cannot blame Allah's will for being cold. You can say the same thing about almost everything in life. A person who stays at home doing nothing will earn no wages from anywhere. He cannot blame Allah or His will for not having enough to live on. It is his own decision not to go out to work and, consequently, not have any wages. Had he sought some employment or started some trade and, having had it, continued to discharge his duties and do his work to the best of his ability, he would have his salary or profit, as the case may be. It is Allah's will to organize human life in such a way as to make work a means to earn a livelihood. But it is a man's choice whether to work or not. We have to differentiate here between what Allah knows beforehand of what will happen to us during our lifetime and what He has predestined for us. He has certainly determined in advance the life duration of every one of us. He has written when and how each one of us dies. According to an authentic Hadith, when a human being is still an embyro in his mother's belly, an angel is sent to him to breathe spirit into him. The angel also writes down his life duration, livelihood and whether he will come out of this life happy or miserable. But this does not mean a predestination with regard to what a person may earn in his life. This is only a reference to Allah's advance knowledge of what will happen to each one of us. As you realize, time, as we know it, does not apply to Allah. The succession of night and day, by which we calculate months, years, etc. is a natural phenomenon caused by the position of the earth in relation to the sun and the fact that the earth is in a continuous movement round itself and, at the same time, moves in orbit around the sun. Hence, time is a very accidental phenomenon. It does not apply to Allah. Allah's foreknowledge of a man's livelihood does not mean that a man will end up having the same amount of money, whether he works or not. To believe this is to take a very naive attitude. The fact is that man's earnings are dependent on his work, but Allah who has full knowledge of everything knows in advance what sort of work every person will do and how much he will earn for it. The knowledge of Allah does not impose on a man a certain level of earnings. We can compare this to the productivity of the earth. Allah has given the earth the ability to be cultivated and to yield all sorts of agricultural produce. If man makes use of this quality which Allah has given to the earth, every one will have enough to eat. However, if man does not cultivate the earth, its surface will be covered with wild plants, few of which are edible and many are not. If man then goes hungry, he cannot put the blame on Allah. If two neighbours share a plot of land and one of them plants apple trees in his part, while the other does not, the latter cannot say that Allah's will has prevented him from having apples in his land. Indeed, it is Allah's will which has given the first one his apples, but the realization of Allah's will has come about through man's effort.


Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )