I am a non-Muslim and interested in Islam. It is just that I do not understand the concept of free will and Allah’s will in Islam. Are humans free to choose what they want, or is it otherwise?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Thank you for your interest to learn more about Islam. For your information, Muslims are divided into three sects upon this issue:
- The Qadarites who believe that humans have free will over everything and Allah have no relation to the choices.
- The Jabarites who believe that humans do not have free will to choose and Allah is the sole decider of these choices.
- The Ahl Sunnah wa al-Jamaah which is the majority sect for Muslims. Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah believes that humans are free to choose their actions, but the outcomes are due to Allah SWT’s will. If the choice is aligned with Allah’s will, then He will make it easy. If not, then He will make it otherwise.
The moderate and harmonize sect between the will of humans and Allah is Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah, which is also the majority sect Muslims believe in. Allah SWT has a right to decide because He know what is best for His slaves. Allah SWT is the All-Knowing and the All-Wise.
Allah SWT state:
وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
“But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.”
Surah al-Baqarah (216)
وَمَا تَشَاءُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّـهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا
“And you do not will except that Allah wills. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.”
Surah al-Insan (30)
وَمَا تَشَاءُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّـهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ
“And you do not will except that Allah wills - Lord of the worlds.”
Surah al-Takwir (29)
We give some examples of circumstances to make it easier to understand.
- Ahmad intends to go to a supermarket to buy groceries. He listed out the stuff to buy and did budget estimation which aligns with his monthly expenses. His choice is in line with Allah’s will, so Allah SWT ease his efforts to get what he wants by easing Ahmad’s journey to get the groceries within his budget and others until the groceries are safe and sound in his house.
- Karim intends to meet his friends at the night club. He already set the location, who he intended to meet, the purpose of his meeting and everything related. However, his choices are not in line with Allah SWT’s will. Hence, Allah SWT made his affairs to the night club hard. His car keys are lost or he cannot start his car, there is no available taxi, there is a sudden disruption for Uber and Grabcar service, his phone stopped working making it impossible for him to call his friends to get a ride. He has no other choice but to cancel the meeting. His choice contradicts with Allah’s will because He know that the meeting is full of ma’siah and sins. And He did that to protect Karim from anything that may lead him towards sins.
As the conclusion, Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah believes that:
- Sometimes, Allah SWT make certain choices of His slaves difficult to train them to be more creative and critical in searching for a solution. Still, when He did not wish for it, it does not mean He will totally forbid it. He still permits His slaves to seek alternatives, such as in Karim’s situation who tried to call for taxi, Uber and his friends after he found out that his car broke down.
- At times, Allah SWT ease certain bad affairs of His slaves enabling them to learn from experience, repent and as guidance for others.
- When an individual chooses something, which is not in line with Allah’s will and it does not work, it can be understood as bad fate. Only those who realize and repent will understand the wisdom behind what has been fated for them. Those who do not realize this will complain and blame what has been fated for them.