Predestination or Free Will?

It is said that Allah knows about what will happen to me…like 10 years from now…whether i will be a doctor or a murderer. My destiny has been written beforehand by God. Is it true? Can you please give me passages from the Koran or Bible?

An important question. The Qur’an and Bible have rather different perspectives on this. The Qur’an says:

3. God pre-ordains who does bad/disbelieves and goes to hell:(Baqara 2:6-7, Bukhari 8:76:474)

“Verily, those who disbelieve, it is the same to them whether you warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe. Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearings, and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be a great torment.”  (Baqara 2:6-7)

“Would ye guide those whom God hath thrown out of the Way? For those whom God hath thrown out of the Way, never shalt thou find the Way.” (Sura Nisa 4:88)

Had Allah willed, they had not been idolatrous. We have not set thee as a keeper over them, nor art thou responsible for them.”  (6:107)  (see also 6:149, 6:35, 3:73-74, 5:18)

“This is an admonition: whosoever will, let him take a path to his Lord. But ye will not, except as Allah willsHe will admit to his mercy whom He wills. But the wrongdoers – for them has he prepared a grievous penalty.” (76:29-31)  (see also 6:149, 6:35, 3:73-74, 5:18)

In other words, Allah causes people to do either bad or good; this is the doctrine of Qadr or destiny. All our actions are written on a preserved tablet (lawh mahfuz).  Even the sin that expelled Adam from paradise is said to have been planned by God forty years earlier:

“‘You are our father, you did us harm and caused us to get out of Paradise. Adam said to him … ‘You blame me for an act which Allah had ordained for me 40 years before he created me.’ Allah’s Apostle then said (or added): ‘This is how Adam came the better of Moses.”‘ (Muslim, 33:6411)

Even sins such as adultery are predetermined by God:

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: Verily Allah has fixed the very portion of adultery which a man will indulge in, and which he of necessity must commit.  (Muslim 33:6421)

The hadith even admonishes us to be moderate in good deeds because we can’t, by our own effort, change our decreed fate (mercy or condemnation):

Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “The good deeds of any person will not make him enter Paradise.” (i.e., None can enter Paradise through his good deeds.) They (the Prophet’s companions) said, “Not even you, O Allah’s Apostle?” He said, “Not even myself, unless Allah bestows His favor and mercy on me. So be moderate in your religious deeds and do the deeds that are within your ability…” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 577; see also Sura 24:21;)

So you can see the testimony of the Qur’an and Hadith strongly emphasizes total predetermination over free will and choice. Likewise, the Qur’an is quite clear that God loves only those whom he has chosen for good works and not those who are unfaithful, prodigal and transgressors ( see here for verses on this).  So your conclusion would appear correct:

If God knows beforehand what will happen to me..then i don’t have a choice right? because 10 years from now..say I’m a doctor..then all the decisions that I took along those years had already had to be known..only then can somebody make the prediction right? So every decision that I took was already known it’s not my choice right?  God knew i would make those choices because he made me…so even though I think I’m making my own decisions..I’m actually a robot..just following the plan..and so my life is meaningless!

I have wrestled with this issue myself, and here are some observations:

The Bible on Predestination & Free Will

The Bible’s emphasis is quite different. While the Bible acknowledges that God knows the future, it does not say he overwhelms our choices.  He directs history, but he does not determine all our choices.  God is never said to cause people to do evil:

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15)

God sets us up with choices and we are free to decide:

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, (Deuteronomy 30:19)


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