Are the deeds, provision and livelihood of every human already decided?
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.
Based on the above question, indeed, there is Sahih hadith on that matter. In the hadith, there is the also the story of creation of man.
إِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ يُجْمَعُ خَلْقُهُ فِي بَطْنِ أُمِّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ يَوْمًا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ فِي ذَلِكَ عَلَقَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ يَكُونُ فِي ذَلِكَ مُضْغَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ يُرْسَلُ الْمَلَكُ فَيَنْفُخُ فِيهِ الرُّوحَ وَيُؤْمَرُ بِأَرْبَعِ كَلِمَاتٍ بِكَتْبِ رِزْقِهِ وَأَجَلِهِ وَعَمَلِهِ وَشَقِيٌّ أَوْ سَعِيدٌ فَوَالَّذِي لاَ إِلَهَ غَيْرُهُ إِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ لَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ حَتَّى مَا يَكُونَ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهَا إِلاَّ ذِرَاعٌ فَيَسْبِقُ عَلَيْهِ الْكِتَابُ فَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ النَّارِ فَيَدْخُلُهَا وَإِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ لَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ النَّارِ حَتَّى مَا يَكُونَ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهَا إِلاَّ ذِرَاعٌ فَيَسْبِقُ عَلَيْهِ الْكِتَابُ فَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ فَيَدْخُلُهَا
Verily your creation is on this wise. The constituents of one of you are collected for forty days in his mother's womb in the form of blood, after which it becomes a clot of blood in another period of forty days. Then it becomes a lump of flesh and forty days later Allah sends His angel to it with instructions concerning four things, so the angel writes down his livelihood, his death, his deeds, his fortune and misfortune. By Him, besides Whom there is no god, that one amongst you acts like the people deserving Paradise until between him and Paradise there remains but the distance of a cubit, when suddenly the writing of destiny overcomes him and he begins to act like the denizens of Hell and thus enters Hell, and another one acts in the way of the denizens of Hell, until there remains between him and Hell a distance of a cubit that the writing of destiny overcomes him and then he begins to act like the people of Paradise and enters Paradise.
Sahih Muslim (2643)
At the end of this hadith, it states on the qadar or the writing of destiny for each human which have already been decided by Allah SWT since a person is in his mother’s womb. However, the issue of qadar should be understood properly so that we may not become like the Qadarites and Jabarites. Both groups comprehend the concept of qadar with false comprehension that both of them are ruled out from ahl Sunnah wa al-jama’ah.
Upon understanding this hadith, it is wajib for us to believe in Allah SWT who is the All-Knowing. Allah SWT is the All-Knowing of the conditions of each human even before He creates them. This is in accordance with a saying of the Prophet PBUH narrated by Ali bin Abi Thalib RA where the Prophet PBUH said:
مَا مِنْ نَفْسٍ مَنْفُوسَةٍ إِلاَّ كُتِبَ مَكَانُهَا مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ وَالنَّارِ، وَإِلاَّ قَدْ كُتِبَ شَقِيَّةً أَوْ سَعِيدَةً
“…and not a created soul, but has place either in Paradise or in Hell assigned for him and it is also determined for him whether he will be among the blessed or wretched.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (1362)
It seems as though the lives of humans are already stated by Allah SWT and they have no will whatsoever. They only accept and apply the destiny written for them. However, Allah SWT is the Most Just to give His servants their own will to choose their own paths either towards the Paradise or Hellfire, but at the same time, He SWT knows what will be choices made by humans as He is the All-Knowing. This is stated in the Quran:
فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا
And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness,
Surah al-Shams (8)
This verse clearly states that Allah SWT gives humans willpower to choose their own path. Besides, among other signs that Allah SWT gives humans willpower to choose their life is His commandment to believe in Him and His prohibition of the practice of shirk upon Him. If humans are not given any choices, then this prohibition will mean nothing. [See: al-Wafi fi Syarh al-Arbain al-Nawawiyyah, 27-28]
Besides, in understanding the qadar, it may be divided into two which are qadar mubram (مبرم) and qadar mu’allaq (معلق). Qadar mubram is an absolute qadar written in the Luh Mahfuz. This type of qadar does not decrease, increase or change. While qadar mu’allaq is what is written by the angels. By the will of Allah, this type of qadar may be either be absolute or changeable depends on the effort made by humans like consistently make du’a or connect the silaturrahim as stated in the hadith where these deeds may lengthen one’s lifespan. However, all of the deeds are already known by Allah according to His knowledge.
A man once asked the Prophet PBUH when he knows that Allah SWT has already decided the place for humans in the hereafter. The man said, if everything is decided by Allah SWT, then wouldn’t it enough (just follow) with what is written in our book (which is our destiny) and there is no need to do good deeds (as everything is decided). The Prophet PBUH answered the question with his saying:
مَنْ كَانَ مِنْ أَهْلِ السَّعَادَةِ فَسَيَصِيرُ إِلَى عَمَلِ أَهْلِ السَّعَادَةِ وَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الشَّقَاوَةِ فَسَيَصِيرُ إِلَى عَمَلِ أَهْلِ الشَّقَاوَةِ " . فَقَالَ " اعْمَلُوا فَكُلٌّ مُيَسَّرٌ أَمَّا أَهْلُ السَّعَادَةِ فَيُيَسَّرُونَ لِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ السَّعَادَةِ وَأَمَّا أَهْلُ الشَّقَاوَةِ فَيُيَسَّرُونَ لِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ الشَّقَاوَةِ
Acts of everyone will be facilitated in that which has been created for him so that whoever belongs to the company of the blessed will have good works made easier for him and whoever belongs to the unfortunate ones will have evil acts made easier for him
Sahih Muslim (2647)
Imam al-Nawawi when commenting on this hadith said, this hadith forbids us from abandoning our deeds and feel that it is enough with what is written in the qadar only. In fact, it is wajib for us to do good deeds as well as fulfilling our duty set by syarak. It will be made easy for each person (to do good deeds) according to what is already created for him and not according to others’ destiny. Hence, the blessed people will be made easier for him to do the deeds of blessed people and vice versa. [See: al-Minhaj ‘ala Syarh Sahih Muslim, 196/16]
In conclusion, all things that are happening is bound to the will of Allah SWT and it is wajib for humans to accept them with sabr (patience) or shukr (gratefulness) as well as search for the wisdom behind everything that takes place. At the same time, humans should strive for their future by practising good deeds and abandoning evil doings forbidden by syarak.
Hence, we are commanded to always do good so that our deeds will free us from the hellfire. And this world is a place of seeking provision to be brought to the hereafter as stated in the saying of Allah SWT:
مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ حَرْثَ الْآخِرَةِ نَزِدْ لَهُ فِي حَرْثِهِ ۖ وَمَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ حَرْثَ الدُّنْيَا نُؤْتِهِ مِنْهَا وَمَا لَهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِن نَّصِيبٍ
Whoever desires the harvest of the Hereafter - We increase for him in his harvest. And whoever desires the harvest of this world - We give him thereof, but there is not for him in the Hereafter any share.
Surah al-Shura (20)
In addition, there is a hadith where the Prophet PBUH always make du’a for him to be steadfast in this faith:
يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِي عَلَى دِينِكَ " . فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ آمَنَّا بِكَ وَبِمَا جِئْتَ بِهِ فَهَلْ تَخَافُ عَلَيْنَا قَالَ " نَعَمْ إِنَّ الْقُلُوبَ بَيْنَ أَصْبُعَيْنِ مِنْ أَصَابِعِ اللَّهِ يُقَلِّبُهَا كَيْفَ يَشَاءُ
Ya Muqallibal-qulub, thabbit qalbi 'ala dinik('O Changer of the Hearts! Strengthen my heart upon Your Religion.)' So I said: 'O Prophet of Allah! We believe in you and what you have come with, but do you fear for us?' He said: 'Yes. Indeed the hearts are between two Fingers of Allah's Fingers, He changes them as He wills
[Riwayat al-Tirmizi (2140)][This hadith is hasan according to the evaluation of Imam al-Tirmizi]
Lastly, may Allah SWT make us from among those who love knowledge as well as bestow us with correct understanding in this religion. And may Allah SWT make us from among His blessed servants in this world and the hereafter. Amin.