This is a continuation of a series titled -'It Is Written: Understanding Qadr'. Read Part 2 here
Did Allah Decree Evil and Disasters?
- Did Allah Will evil?
- Why did Allah allow evil to happen?
- If people sin because of it being written as per Qadr, then why will Allah punish them?
Before we even delve into this, it needs to be understood that the confusion some people fall into here, is with regards to Allah’s actions or not understanding the divine wisdom. Hence, it should not make one doubt the existence of Allah itself. These are two separate issues that should not be conflated. This point is highlighted as this is a very common argument brought up by atheists, agnostics, and ex-Muslims.
What Is Evil?
Evil could be described as the absence of good. We could define good and evil on a surface level as:
- Good: That which agrees with human nature such that it causes happiness and pleasure.
- Evil: That which conflicts with human nature such that it causes harm and displeasure.
“Evil” is usually understood in this context as either moral evil or natural evil. Moral evil refers to the misuse of free will by moral agents. This is the evil caused by humans in our context. Natural evil, on the other hand, refers to the occurrences of evil brought about by natural laws and processes such as natural disasters.
It needs to be understood without doubt that - Allah is the only Creator of all things and He created that which is good as well as that which is bad because Allah does what He Wills. Allah cannot be questioned for what He does.
ٱللَّهُ خَلِقُ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ ۖ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ وَكِيلٌۭ
Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is, over all things, Disposer of affairs. [Surah az-Zumar, 62]
From a good adab towards Allah is that we do not say that Allah created crime and sinning. We say that Allah created the will and ability for the creation that indulges in this evil.
ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَنِى فَهُوَ يَهْدِينِ
وَٱلَّذِى هُوَ يُطْعِمُنِى وَيَسْقِينِ
وَإِذَا مَرِضْتُ فَهُوَ يَشْفِينِ
وَٱلَّذِى يُمِيتُنِى ثُمَّ يُحْيِينِ
(It is Allah) Who created me, and He (it is who) guides me. And it is He who feeds me and gives me drink. And when I am ill, it is He who cures me. And who will cause me to die and then bring me to life. [Surah ash-Shu’ara, 78-81]
Learn from the adab of Prophet Ibrahim. He attributed all the naturally occurring phenomena to Allah. Even though Allah created illness as a test, out of adab, Prophet Ibrahim did not directly attribute it to Allah by saying that Allah is the one who makes him ill. Rather, with grace and adab, he did not mention and attribute that to Allah.
أَيْنَمَا تَكُونُوا۟ يُدْرِككُّمُ ٱلْمَوْتُ وَلَوْ كُنتُمْ فِى بُرُوجٍۢ مُّشَيَّدَةٍۢ ۗ وَإِن تُصِبْهُمْ حَسَنَةٌۭ يَقُولُوا۟ هَذِهِۦ مِنْ عِندِ ٱللَّهِ ۖ وَإِن تُصِبْهُمْ سَيِّئَةٌۭ يَقُولُوا۟ هَذِهِۦ مِنْ عِندِكَ ۚ قُلْ كُلٌّۭ مِّنْ عِندِ ٱللَّهِ ۖ فَمَالِ هَٓؤُلَآءِ ٱلْقَوْمِ لَا يَكَادُونَ يَفْقَهُونَ حَدِيثًۭا
مَّآ أَصَابَكَ مِنْ حَسَنَةٍۢ فَمِنَ ٱللَّهِ ۖ وَمَآ أَصَابَكَ مِن سَيِّئَةٍۢ فَمِن نَّفْسِكَ ۚ وَأَرْسَلْنَكَ لِلنَّاسِ رَسُولًۭا ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِٱللَّهِ شَهِيدًۭا
Wherever you may be, death will overtake you, even if you should be within towers of lofty construction. But if good comes to them, they say, "This is from Allah "; and if evil befalls them, they say, "This is from you." Say, "All (things) are from Allah ." So what is (the matter) with those people that they can hardly understand any statement?
What comes to you of good is from Allah , but what comes to you of evil, (O man), is from yourself. And We have sent you, (O Muhammad), to the people as a messenger, and sufficient is Allah as Witness. [Surah an-Nisa, 78-79]
All the disasters and bad that befall a person happen only by the Permission of Allah. He says,
مَآ أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ ٱللَّهِ ۗ وَمَن يُؤْمِنۢ بِٱللَّهِ يَهْدِ قَلْبَهُۥ ۚ وَٱللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍ عَلِيمٌۭ
No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah . And whoever believes in Allah - He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things.[Surah at-Taghabun, 11]
Another important point that needs to be remembered is that there is Divine Wisdom behind everything that Allah does irrespective if that is made clear to us or not. We don’t even have the pixel whereas Allah has the complete picture and more. Allah says,
وَمَا خَلَقْنَا ٱلسَّمَوَتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَعِبِينَ
مَا خَلَقْنَهُمَآ إِلَّا بِٱلْحَقِّ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
And We did not create the heavens and earth and that between them in play. We did not create them except in truth, but most of them do not know [Surah ad-Dukhan, 38-39]
Allah is Most Just. So we can define injustice or evil as - to place things at other than their appropriate place. And as the Quran is very clear, Allah is Perfect. Looking at Allah’s Names and Attributes makes it clear that evil, wrong, injustice cannot be attributed to him.
If Allah had Created us without any due measure, purpose or without planning of good and evil, then He would not be a deity worthy of worship. Allah makes no mistakes, doesn’t forget, doesn’t overlook, and doesn’t oppress. Far above is Allah from such imperfections.
The Problem of Evil
George Bΰchner, a German atheist and poet, calls the problem of evil as the “immovable boulder of atheism.” Have you heard of Epicurus Dilemma? The existence of evil is an ancient argument, which was philosophically manifested by Epicurus (died 270 BC). And here is his pretension:
If God wills to prevent evil, and He is able to, then why is there evil?
If He wills to prevent evil, but He is not able to, then He is not omnipotent.
If He does not will to prevent evil, and He is able to, then He is malevolent (evil).
If He does not will to prevent evil, and He is not able to, then why call Him God?
Based on these premises he concluded that there is no god!
This is what happens when someone oversimplifies a matter and thinks everything is black and white. Just because evil exists, and Allah Allows it to happen, doesn’t necessarily mean that Allah is unknowing, uncaring, or incapable of removing it.
The biggest issue here is:
- Firstly - the assumption that a capable entity, who has complete power, should always stop evil of all and any degree to occur. A person may allow some form or degree of evil to take place for a greater good or some other wisdom.
- Secondly, asking “why” implies the assumption there should be an explanation or that we are entitled to an explanation.
- Thirdly, assuming that what one perceives to be an evil as an abnormality and what they perceive as good to be the prevalent norm.
Ex: A father willingly carries his own child to a surgeon to perform an open heart surgery. The surgeon has “stabbed and torn open” the child's body. Here, both the father and the surgeon collaborated in doing this “evil”. Everyone with a sound mind knows that this small element of difficulty was undertaken to prevent a greater evil. No sane person will question or deny the father’s and the doctor’s behavior or accuse them of being evil towards the child. The father or the doctor don’t have to explain the surgery to the child before saving his life. Also, out of wisdom, if the father would have told the child all the details of the surgery and how he is to be operated upon, that would have scared and harmed the child even more.
Ex: A person paints the most beautiful painting in the world that is the size of a wall. A person standing right in front of the wall is viewing only that part of the painting that is in front of him that shows the use of dark colors and dark themes. This person has not seen the whole painting and he cannot do so because of his limited capability. He cannot see how certain dark colors were needed to complement and amplify the much larger and brighter theme used across the painting. Would it be right to blame the entire painting just by observing one minute part of it?
If this is the case at the human level, then what about at the level of Divine. Does it make sense for a human being that doesn’t even understand how his own body functions or how his sustenance reaches him, to question the All Knowing, the Most Just, the Most Powerful, the All Wise, the Most Merciful.
C. S. famously said, “A man does not call something crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.”
Who decides what is good and what is bad? Allah.
Who has the most complete knowledge of any matter from every dimension? Allah.
A major point to highlight here is that of arrogance, ego, and self-amazement that plagues the human mind. We think that because of our advancements and discoveries in modern science, we assume that we can fully understand everything in the universe, determine with absolute certainty what does and does not exist, and subsequently not hesitate to deny there is any wisdom to many of the phenomena around them. Allah doesn’t tell us what we want to know. Allah tells us what we need to know.
Is there something that is pure evil? Imam Ibn al-Qayyim writes, “Evil, as an independent phenomenon whereby no dimension of good is involved, has no existence in this world. There is nothing in our existence that can be called pure evil, because every evil in this world is good from one angle or another. For instance, sickness harms the body from one angle, while from other angles tests patience, evokes resilience, and may even strengthen immunity. Most disliked things are usually this way; never void of some benefit or another for the human being.” [Shifā’ al-‘Alīl fī Masā’il]
We need to remember that we do not attribute evil to Allah. The Prophet said: “All good is in Your Hands and evil is not attributable to You.” [Muslim]
All the Actions of Allah are purely good by way of His Attribution to them and their emanating from Him, they have no relation to evil. For He, the Most High, is Most Wise, Most Just, and all His Actions contain Wisdom and Justice. He puts everything in the places suitable for them, as is known to Him, the One free from all imperfections, the Most High. Thus, whatever evil is in the ordainment, it would be from the perspective of its attribution to the slave due to the destruction which might afflict him as a result of what he has earned himself, in just and full measure.
Furthermore, Imam Ibn Abil-‘Izz explained this concept as follows: “Allah never created anything one hundred percent evil without any good aspects to it. His wisdom prevented that. It is inconceivable for Allah to desire something that is evil in all its aspects that has no benefit whatsoever in its creation. All good is in His hands and no evil proceeds from Him. In fact, everything that comes from Him is good. Evil occurs because of its lack of being related or attributed to Him. If it had proceeded from Him, it would not have been evil. Thus the severance of this relation with Allah makes a thing evil.”
Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said, “So the created being, on the basis of the purpose for which it was created, is good and proper, even if it has some evil aspects, because the evil is secondary and partial, and it is not pure evil; rather the evil that is intended for a good purpose, that outweighs the evil, is something good on the part of the Doer, the Most Wise, even though it is bad on the part of the one who did it.
With regard to the one who thinks that the intended purpose that is based on wisdom could be achieved if the bad thing was not there, he only said that because he does not know the real nature of things and how things are interconnected. For when the Creator creates a thing, He must inevitably create the requirements thereof, because for something to exist or be created without its requirements is not possible.” [Majmu‘ al-Fatawa]
Apparent Evil and Divine Wisdom
If we look at the story of Prophet Musa and Khidr in Surah al-Kahf, it is clear that there are things that only Allah Knows and we cannot comprehend the wisdom and justice behind it a lot of the time. In all the cases that are highlighted below, the reasons were revealed by Allah to Khidr, and not something he merely observed or deduced.
Apparent: Khidr made a hole in the boat of the people that helped them. From what is apparent, Khidr harmed the boat of the very people that helped them
Divine Wisdom: The boat belonged to a group of people who were poor and oppressed. Doesn’t it make the situation worse? No. An evil king was seizing all the boats for himself. By damaging the boat, Khidr actually safeguarded it from being seized by the evil king and helped the poor family from dying out of poverty and hunger.
Apparent: Khir killed a young boy that they met. From what is apparent, this was cold blooded murder of an innocent soul.
Divine Wisdom: The boy was to grow up to become an oppressive man that would rebel, harm his parents, and make them leave the fold of Islam. Allah informed Khidr of the boy’s state and caused him to know the end of the boy’s affair. With the boy dying young, he would be admitted to Jannah. His parents were also protected and lived life as Muslims and had more children that were good and upon the true religion of Islam.
Apparent: Khidr fixed a wall that was about to collapse in a city whose people had been mean to them and had shut their doors in their faces.
Divine Wisdom: The wall that Khidr fixed belonged to two orphaned boys in the city. Under it was a hidden treasure. If the wall had collapsed, the evil people of the city would have snatched it away from the orphans and left them with nothing as the orphans were still young children. By repairing the wall, Khidr made sure that the property of the orphans was protected till they came of age and decided to do what they wanted with their property.
Just because we don’t understand the wisdom behind it, just like the child doesn’t understand its own father allowing him to be cut open, doesn’t mean that we question or deny Allah. To further understand this, look at this beautiful hadith.
Umar ibn Al-Khattab reported: Some prisoners were brought to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ amongst whom there was a woman who was running (searching for her child). When she saw a child among the captives, she took hold of it, pressed it against her chest and nursed it. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, "Do you think this woman would ever throw her child in fire?" We said, "By Allah, she would never throw the child in fire." Thereupon the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, "Verily, Allah is more merciful to His slaves than this woman is to her child". [Bukhari and Muslim]
All the disasters and tribulations that happen on earth, or happen to the individual, or to his wealth or family, etc., were known to Allah before they happened, He has written them in Al-Lawh Al-Mahfoodh (the Preserved Tablet).
مَآ أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍۢ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِىٓ أَنفُسِكُمْ إِلَّا فِى كِتَبٍۢ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن نَّبْرَأَهَآ ۚ إِنَّ ذَلِكَ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ يَسِيرٌۭ
“No disaster strikes upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before We bring it into being — indeed that, for Allah, is easy.” [Surah al-Hadid, 22]
كُلُّ نَفْسٍۢ ذَآئِقَةُ ٱلْمَوْتِ ۗ وَنَبْلُوكُم بِٱلشَّرِّ وَٱلْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةًۭ ۖ وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ
“Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as a trial, then to Us you will all be returned” [Surah al-Anbiya, 35]
أَحَسِبَ ٱلنَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوٓا۟ أَن يَقُولُوٓا۟ ءَامَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ
وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۖ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا۟ وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ ٱلْكَذِبِينَ
“Do the people think that they will be left to say, ‘We believe’ and they will not be tried? But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars” [Surah al-Ankabut, 2-3].
The evil we see in natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, plagues and the like, we know that Allah allowed it to happen for a reason and there is definitely goodness behind it, whether it was observable to us or not. Likewise with the evil perpetrated by human beings. We ought to understand that when Allah created this world, it was not intended to be free from evil. He, the Exalted, declared clearly that this life is full of trials.
A person’s evil actions may harm him and a few around him, but it may benefit others and have an indirect form of good over an extended duration of time that is not visible to us. The end outcome of everything that happens eventually is good irrespective of how bad or evil the original action was. Why? No matter what disasters befall a person, it is good for him, whether he realizes that or not, because Allah does not decree anything but it is good. Also,because it has to be in line with Allah’s Perfect Justice and Wisdom.
قُل لَّن يُصِيبَنَآ إِلَّا مَا كَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَنَا هُوَ مَوْلَىٰنَا ۚ وَعَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ
“Say, “Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector.” And upon Allah let the believers rely.” [Surah at-Tawbah, 51]
The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said: “Verily, Allah does not decree anything for the believer except what is good for him.” [Ahmad]
ظَهَرَ ٱلْفَسَادُ فِى ٱلْبَرِّ وَٱلْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِى ٱلنَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ ٱلَّذِى عَمِلُوا۟ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ
Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by (reason of) what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of (the consequence of) what they have done that perhaps they will return (to righteousness). [Surah ar-Rum, 41]
Here we see that corruption is an evil that is a product of human action. But in the long run, there is an ultimate good to the corruption that people may return to the right path.
Every disaster happens only by Allah's leave. If He had not willed it, it would not have happened, but Allah permitted it to happen and decreed it, and so it happened and there is always some good in it. Allah says,
مَآ أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ ٱللَّهِ ۗ وَمَن يُؤْمِنۢ بِٱللَّهِ يَهْدِ قَلْبَهُۥ ۚ وَٱللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍ عَلِيمٌۭ
No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah . And whoever believes in Allah - He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things [Surah al-Taghabun, 11]
Imam Ibn Kathir writes - this means that whoever suffered an affliction and knew that it occurred by Allah’s judgment and decree, and he patiently abides, awaiting Allaah’s reward, then Allah will guide his heart, and will compensate him for his loss in this life by granting guidance to his heart and certainty in faith. Allah will replace whatever he lost with something similar or something better. [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]
Once a person knows that all calamities happen by the will and decree of Allah, then he has to believe and submit and be patient. The reward for patience is Paradise, as Allah Says (what means): “And will reward them for what they patiently endured [with] a garden [in Paradise] and silk [garments].” [Quran 76:12]
When people die in a war or a natural disaster, then the one who dies is deemed to be one of three:
First: He is either a devoted righteous person; therefore, this is the most perfect time for him to die. Allah Knows, if he had lived longer he could not have been as good and righteous as when he died. So, Allah wanted him to die in his greatest state of belief. Additionally, any harm, which afflicts him and he bears patience, Allah makes it as an expiation for whatever sins he has committed.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “No calamity befalls a Muslim but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn.” [Bukhari]
Second: He could be a Muslim who is indulged in sins and Allah Knows that if he lived longer he could have become more evil. Thus, this is the best time for him to die, in order to meet Allah with lesser sins.
Third: He could be a disbeliever or an evil person and Allah Knows that if he had lived longer, he would not get any better, so his death is a relief for the community from his evil.
All these we have seen in the interaction of Prophet Musa and Khidr mentioned in Surah al-Kahf as highlighted above.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “The example of this worldly life in comparison to the Hereafter is nothing but the example of one of you dipping his finger in the sea; let him see what he brings forth.” [Muslim]
All the suffering that we see around us, disasters, killing of innocent children, and so much more can lead one to claim - “life is unfair”. This is only legitimate if there was no Day of Judgement to bring all the evildoers to account and no Hereafter as a recompense and reward for those that were tested. Indeed Allah is Most Just.
What good is there in the killing of children? We have shown in the story of Khidr how what seemed apparent to us by the cold blooded murder of the child was in reality good for the child as well as the family. Out of the vast ocean of wisdom, another point that could be highlighted on this topic is the hadith where the Prophet ﷺ narrated:
“It will be said to children on the Day of Resurrection: Enter Paradise. They will say: Our Lord, (we can’t) unless our fathers and mothers enter. Allah Almighty will say: Why do I see them hesitant to enter Paradise? They will say: O Lord, our fathers and mothers. Allah will say: Enter Paradise, all of you and your parents. [Ahmad]
The ‘untimely’ and ‘unfair’ death of the child has now become a source of eternal success for not just the child but also its parents.
What is the fate of these children who died? Indeed Allah is Most Just and All Knowing.
Aisha, the Mother of the Believers, said: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was invited to a funeral of a child from among the Ansar and I asked: O Messenger of Allah! Give glad tidings for this nightingale among the nightingales of Paradise. He didn’t do any evil nor did it touch him. He replied, “That is not the case, O Aisha. Indeed, Allah created some people for Paradise while they were in the loins of their fathers, and he created some people for the Hell-Fire while they were in the loins of their fathers.” [Muslim]
Allah will not Judge anyone according to His Knowledge of the actions that they would have done in the future before they actually did those deeds. That would be unfair and injustice. Allah gives everyone a fair and just opportunity to act and prove or disprove themselves. As for those that did not get a proper chance in this world, they will be given that chance in the Hereafter and then will be Judged accordingly. As per a long hadith in Bukhari - For the children that died before puberty, irrespective of if they were born to believers or disbelievers, they will be in a temporary garden in the Barzakh. On the Day of Judgement, they will be tested and then accorded their place in either Jannah or Jahannam.
Imam Ibn al-Jawzi said, “The mind has come to recognize the Creator’s Wisdom, and that it has no flaw or defect. This recognition obligates it to forgo (objecting to) whatever of this (wisdom) is hidden from it. Whenever a specific matter is unclear to it, it would hence be incorrect to then determine that the principle itself is invalid.” [Talbis Iblis]
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim mentions that when we speak of qadr then this is with respect to the human being and not with respect to Allah. Evil is a result of humans' evil, wrongdoing, his oppression, his sins. However it was allowed and brought into being by Allah. Evil is not attributed to Allah. Even though this act has some wisdom in it, it's not entirely evil.
He further mentions, “If Allah puts a person under certain tests and trials and the person recognizes that he must resort to Allah alone seeking His help, then this is a good sign for him; the trials turn to purification and mercy. If on the other hand, he rejects, complains, and turns away from Allah and seeks help from human beings like himself, then this is a bad sign for him; the trials turn to punishment and misery for him.” [Tareeq Al-Hijratain]
The Evil of Iblees
There is no such thing as pure evil. Even the creation of Iblees isn’t pure evil. Shaitan is the epitome of evil that we know of from the creation. His mission is to spread evil and deviate us from the right path. There is wisdom in his creation as he would be a test for the believers. Let's see how.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “If Allah did not want to be disobeyed, He would not have created Shaitan” [al-Bayhaqi]
We deduce from this that Shaitan’s creation has more overall benefit than his apparent harm. Allah Alone can encompass the full wisdom behind His creation. Remember, we don’t even have the pixel, while Allah has the complete picture and more.
Imam Ibn Abil Izz writes, “He (Iblees) is the being of wickedness in ways of life, actions, beliefs and volitions. He is the cause of many human beings' unhappiness and for their actions that are displeasing to Allah. He is the deliverer of the acts that are in opposition to what Allah loves and is pleased with. At that same time, though, he is a means for many things that Allah will love to bestow on His creatures. Therefore, his existence is more beloved to Allah than his non-existence. This is true for many reasons, including the following:
- Firstly, by creating Iblees, Allah demonstrates to His servants His ability to create opposites and contraries. He has created a being that is the wicked and the cause of every wickedness. Yet, at the same time, He created his opposite, the Angel Jibreel. Jibreel is one of the most noble of all creatures and a source of only good. Blessed be the Creator of the latter and the former. Similarly, this Power of Allah is demonstrated in His Creation of night and day, disease and cure, life and death, right and wrong, good and evil. This is part of the detailed evidence of His perfect power, absolute authority, dominion and rule, for He has Created those opposites. They are set up against one another. He has used them for meeting His goals. If the world were devoid of these opposites, we would not have witnessed the faultless wisdom, the absolute power and the perfect rule He has over all things.
- Secondly, Iblees enables the manifestation of such Names (and Attributes) of Allah as the Dominant, the Avenger, the Just, the One Who chastises, Who is strict in punishment, Who is quick to judge, Whose grip is strong, Who brings low, and Who humiliates. These names and actions are all part of Allah’s Perfection. Their objects, therefore, have to exist. If the jinns and humans were similar in nature to the angels, none of these names would have become manifest.
- Thirdly, Iblees makes possible the manifestation of such Names of Allah that show that He forbears, forgives, overlooks and forgoes the violations of His rights, and sets sinners free. If He had not created things which He detests but which makes possible the manifestation of these names, these benefits and wisdom would have been lost. The Prophet ﷺ referred to this point when he said, “If you did not sin, Allah would have removed you and put in your place a people who will sin and then ask Him to forgive them, so that He may forgive them.” (Muslim)
- Fourthly, Iblees makes possible the manifestation of the wisdom and knowledge of the One Who is wise and knowing, Who places things in their proper places, and nothing in the wrong place, as is dictated by His wisdom and knowledge. He knows to whom He should give His message. He knows who is fit for it and who will receive it gratefully and who is not fit for it. If undesirable causes were removed because they produced evil consequences, the good things that outweigh these evils would have never been realized. Look at the sun, the moon and the wind. They produce good as well as evil but their good greatly outweighs their evil.
- Fifthly, if Iblees had not been created, a number of things by which men affirm their servitude to Allah would not have occurred. The act of worship by jihad is one of the most beloved acts of worship to Allah. If all people were Believers, that act of worship would be nullified as well as its consequences of having loyalty and enmity for the sake of Allah. Similarly, the worship in the acts of commanding good and eradicating evil, in having patience, in going against one’s desires, in sacrificing out of love for Allah, in repentance and asking forgiveness, in seeking refuge in Allah from being overtaken by his enemy, and being protected from the evil one's plots, and so on, are all part of the wisdom that the human mind would not have been able to discover (if it had not been for the creation of Iblees).
Someone might ask if it would be possible to achieve those good things without that cause? This question itself is invalid. It supposes that one can have an outcome without a cause, a consequence without having an antecedent. It is like hypothesezing a son without a father, movement without a moving object, repentance without one to repent, and so on.
One may ask if those things that one must have in order to produce these good things are desirable for that reason or are undesirable and evil in every respect? This question is responded to in two ways. First, from the point of view of Allah, should Allah love these acts because they are conducive to other things He holds dear, even though He dislikes them in themselves? And, second, from the point of view of the human being, is it permissible for him to be pleased with those things on that account? These are basically two different questions.
The first thing to note is that evil is always traced to non-existence, that is, the non-existence of good. The factors that lead to evil are evil on this account. But as for them simply existing, they have nothing evil in them. For example, evil souls as existing beings are good but they become evil by losing any goodness in them. They have been created as moving beings. When they are given knowledge or inspiration for the good, they move to the good. But when they are not given it, they move by themselves in the opposite direction. Movement, from the standpoint of being simply movement, is good. It can become evil in a relative sense or in relation to something else but not simply from the point of view that it is movement. All evil is wrongdoing, which means placing a thing in a wrong place. If it were put in its proper place, it will not be evil. This means that its evil character is something relative.
This is why punishments that are properly meted out are good in and of themselves, although they are evil with respect to the person being punished due to the pain that it inflicts that goes against the natural disposition for pleasure. That is, pain is evil with respect to him. But the act is good with respect to the one inflicted upon when it is meted out properly.” [Sharh al-Tahawiyyah]
Another benefit on the creation of Iblees or the evil suffered by us is noted by Imam Ibn al-Qayyim who said, ”For a believer, an affliction is like a medicine: it removes from him diseases that, were they to remain, would destroy him or lower his status of Iman. Affliction extracts such diseases and prepares the believer for receiving full rewards and a high status… Therefore, affliction and trials are required for a believer so as to achieve victory, honour, and well being” [Zaad al-Ma’ad]
Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah writes, “Allah does not create pure evil. Rather, in everything that Allah creates is a wise purpose by virtue of which it is good. However, there may be some evil in it for some people, and this is partial (or) relative evil. As for total evil or absolute evil, Allah is free of that. [Majmu’ al-Fatawa]
Allah says in the Quran:
ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ
Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness]. [Surah Ar-Rum, Ayah 41]
Because the person doing the evil act had a choice he will be held responsible for the action. You cannot say that Allah willed him to do that evil deed. Rather Allah knew that that would come to be.
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim said, “A person would be doing evil and wrong by committing a loathsome act, but the Lord is the One who enabled him to do it. This enabling is an act of justice, wisdom, and correctness. In other words, making the person capable of doing (evil) is good, but the person’s doing is evil and loathsome. By allowing this, Allah has placed a thing in its appropriate place, because of the great and praiseworthy underlying wisdom. This )from Allah) constitutes goodness, wisdom, and benefit, even though its occurrence from the person is abuse, incompetence, and evil.
It is possible to understand this in daily life. For example, an experienced builder may place a bent piece of wood, a broken rock, or an incomplete brick in a suitable location (of a wall). His action would be considered proper, correct, and praiseworthy even though the parts that he used have blameworthy deficiencies.” [Shifā’ al-‘Alīl fī Masā’il]
To summarize, we can say that:
- There is no such thing as pure evil.
- Man has complete free will to engage or disengage in evil.
- Understanding evil is necessary for man to protect himself, and recognize and carry out the good that he is commanded to do.
- What we perceive as evil is not necessarily evil in the wrong run.
- Some evil is necessary to humble the creation and help them in recognizing Allah and submitting to Him alone.
- Some evil is necessary to showcase and recognize the huge amount of good.
- Some evil is necessary for people to be tested or shake them awake to the reality of life as a mirage and test.
- Some evil is necessary for people to be cleansed of their sins or elevate their ranking.
- Some evil is necessary to differentiate between the believers and disbeleievrs.
- Understanding the reality and purpose of life and also the importance of the Day of Judgement and the life of the Hereafter clarifies doubts with regards to evil.
Benefits of Belief in Qadr
Some fawaid from belief in Qadr is that if your belief in Qadr is strong then your Tawheed of Rububiyyah is in order. Who Gives? Who Takes? Who Provides – Only Allah.
Along With this even your Tawheed Uluhiyyah will be in order as there is no other place to go to save Allah. Anything and everything is from Allah. Reliance is from Allah alone while we take advantage of the means and resources provided by Allah. There are certain cause and effects set out in play by Allah.
One doesn’t become arrogant if one has strong faith in qadr. Who gave you all your success if not Allah? Looking at guidance and misguidance, guidance (hidayah) is a gift (rahmah) from Allah. It is Allah who created us and gave us the mind so we can distinguish between right and wrong to a certain capacity. It is Allah who equipped us with fitrah to like the truth and good and to dislike the wrong and evil. It is Allah who gave us the ability and power to do things and it is Allah who sent the Messenger with the Message to guide us in things, which are beyond the reach of our conception.
Imam Ibn Abil-‘Izz wrote, “When (Allah) guides someone to faith, it is from His grace, so praise is due to Him for that. When He leaves another to wander, it is from His justice, so praise is also due to Him for it.” [Sharh Aqeedah al-Tahawiyyah]
So when it comes to guidance it is a bounty from Allah. Those who turn away from guidance do so because they want to turn away, i.e. they choose not to be guided. They have been misguided because they are arrogant - they refuse to listen. And so when they swerved from the right way, Allah let their hearts swerve from the truth. [Surah As-Saff (61): ayat 5] Nevertheless there are people who have not received the Message of Islam/guidance at all or the Message has not reached them in the clearest form, i.e. it is incomplete or distorted. These people are called Ahlul Fatrah and will be excused and not be punished, even though they are misguided.
The belief that whatever happens is preordained and that one’s lifespan is already written gives the believer in Qadr confidence to face perilous situations with a firm heart. This becomes especially relevant as a motivation for those engaged in difficult tasks to be fearless, for those seeking reform to confront tyrants, and for those reforming to speak out when they are able.
One doesn’t become super depressed and sad. You understand that this is a test from Allah. What has reached you was never meant to miss you and what has missed you was never meant to reach you. Know that if the whole world were to gather together in order to help you, they would not be able to help you except if Allah had written so. And if the whole world were to gather together in order to harm you, they would not harm you except if Allah had written so. The pens have been lifted, and the pages are dry. It gives you strength and belief.
Not believing in Qadr makes one a selfish person. You start believing in survival of the fittest. This leads to so much corruption. You should understand that Allah the All Wise is in complete control. If not, then either you’ll believe that life is so unfair or you’ll become super selfish to attain what you desire by any means possible.
Imam Ibn Hajar quotes Al-Sam’ani as saying: “The way of knowledge in this topic (of providence) is to suspend judgment (al-tawqif) at the Book and the Sunnah without resorting to pure analogy or reason. Whoever turns away from stopping (at the texts) will be misled and will stray into a sea of confusion. He will not achieve what heals the mind, nor what satisfies the heart, for providence is a secret among the secrets of Allah Almighty.” [Fath al-Bari]
Restrict the questions to what the Prophet spoke about. Delving too much into this matter is a recipe for disaster. Ask rather, what you need to do to attain success and what Allah has legislated you to do, and what Allah has prohibited you from doing. If you’re going to dig deep into the matter of taqdeer, you will eventually find it difficult to go forward. There will come a point where you have to say “سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا” – We Hear and We Obey. There is always going to be some part of it that you will never completely completely understand and comprehend. End of the day, the human mind cannot independently come to understand al-Qadr, because it is one of the mysteries of Allah in His creation; whatever Allah has disclosed to us in His Book or on the lips of His Messenger we know, accept and believe in, and whatever our Lord has not told us, we believe in and we believe in His perfect justice and wisdom, and that He is not to be questioned about what He does, but we will be questioned.
This is a continuation of a series titled -'It Is Written: Understanding Qadr'. Read Part 2 here
- Believing in Qadr by Sheikh Muhammad Jibaly
- Divine Will and Predestination In the Light of Quran and Sunnah by Sheikh Dr. Umar al-Ashqar
- Predestination (Qadar) by Sheikh Dr. Bilal Philips
- Faith in Predestination by Sheikh Dr. Suhaib Hassan
- The Divine Pre-Decree and Ordainment of Allah by Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Salih al-Uthaymeen
- Commentary on the Creed of al-Tahawi by Imam Ibn Abi al-Izz