Marriage: Partners are chosen by Allah or by our will?

Q362 :People say that our names together with the names of our marriage partners have been written down long before we are born. How much of this is true? Is every one's marriage partner chosen by Allah's will or do people's efforts play any part in that?

A362 : People are often confused with regard to the meaning of predetermination of Allah's will and His prior knowledge of matters. Sometimes they think that no matter how they behave in particular circumstances, what is preordained will come to pass. This may lead some people to say that there is no need to work hard in order to earn their living and to be able to look after their families because they will only get what Allah has predetermined, whether they work or not. If we were to take this simple view, a fundamental question arises which must be answered: Why does Allah hold us to account for our deeds? Before we answer this question, let us define some essential terms. Predetermination means that something has been fixed in advance by Allah and man cannot change it in any way and by whatever means he employs, unless Allah Himself wishes to change it. Examples of these are the times when the person dies or when he is born, the fact that human beings are subject to the laws of nature which Allah has operated in the universe, and on earth in particular. Allah's knowledge is absolute and free of the restrictions of time and place. This means that this knowledge has always been with Him. Nothing is added to it and nothing is deleted or omitted. In other words, it is not possible to imagine a point in time when Allah did not know something or when a particular piece of information has been added to His knowledge. Time is the result of the succession of day and night according to the 24-hour cycle. Since the succession of day and night occurs as a result of the movement of the earth, it applies to earth only. Our days, weeks, months and years are only relevant to this planet on which we live. Other planets have their own years and days according to their position in relation to the sun. On the basis of these definitions, Allah has always known long before He created man, how many human beings would be on the face of the earth at any particular moment in time, their ages, names, living places, work, families, etc. As far as your question is concerned, Allah certainly knew before you were born at what point in time you will get married and to whom you will be married and how long your marriage would last and how many children would be born to you and what names you will give them, etc. As I have already mentioned, nothing is added to Allah's knowledge as a result of any particular incident or development. Does this mean that the marriage of a particular person is preordained in this sense that the choice is made for him or her by Allah? The answer is no. The marriage of a person takes place as the culmination of efforts which have been made by him or his family or his friends, etc. We look at it in the same way as we look at any event in our life. Allah has set certain laws which operate in human life and these affect marriages as they do affect other matters in our lives. There is a basic law which applies to all things in our lives, namely, the law of cause and effect. You may take a decision today to travel from the city in which you live to another. That decision is taken freely by you at your own behest, for a particular purpose. When you have arrived in the city, suppose you meet a person who learns that you are skillful in a particular field. He happens to know someone who is keen to find a person with your skills. He makes the introduction and you enter into a contract by which you pledge to do a certain service to the other person in return for an agreed fee. If you did not go to that city, or if you did not meet that person, the whole thing would not have taken place. Here we have the law of cause and effect operating. Now Allah has known long before you or the other person were born that this will take place. Does it mean that you moved toward it blindly without any choice on your part? If you look at the circumstance, you will answer in the negative because you felt the terms offered were tempting or reasonable or whatever. The same applies to marriage and to all other activities in human life. Allah knows those activities before they take place, but that does not mean that we are simply moved along like pawns. Allah has given us our free will and the ability to choose between alternatives. It is Allah's will that we make use of what He has given us of ability to choose and freedom of choice. It is also His will that we are affected by the choice we make.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )