- Sharh Riyadh-us-Salihin, by Shaikh Muhammad Bin Salih Al-’Uthaimeen
- Kitab At-Tawhid, by Shaikh Muhammad Bin Salih Al-’Uthaimeen.
’Umar ibn al-Khattab (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) related that, “Once while we were sitting with the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam), all of a sudden a man appeared whose clothes were very white, whose hair was very black, who bore no mark of travel and who was not known to any of us. He sat down beside the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) with his knees touching those of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam). Placing his hands on the Prophet’s thigh he said: ‘Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam), enlighten me about the reality of Islam.’ The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said, ‘Islam is that you should bear witness that there is none deserving to be worshipped but Allah Alone, and that Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) is His Messenger, Iqamat As-Salat [offering of Salat (prayer) perfectly], to pay the Zakat, to observe Saum [fasting (according to Islamic teachings)] during the month of Ramadan, and to perform Hajj (the pilgrimage) to the House of Allah (in Makkah) for the one who can afford it.’ The man said: ‘That is right.’ We were surprised that he made enquiries (as if he knew nothing) and also confirmed the correctness of the answer. He then said: ‘Tell me about Faith (Iman).’ The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: ‘That you should believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Prophets, and the Day of Judgment; and that you should believe in preordainment, the good of it and the bad of it.’ He said, ‘You have spoken the truth.’ He then enquired: ‘Tell me about Ihsan (perfection-performance of obligations in the best possible manner).’ Allah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) replied, ‘To worship Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) as if you see Him*, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He sees you. ** Then, he further asked, ‘When will the Hour be established?’ Allah’s Messenger (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) replied, ‘The answerer has no better knowledge than the questioner. But I will inform you about its portents (signs): 
1- When a slave (lady) gives birth to her master. ***
2- When the bare-footed, naked, poor shepherds start competing with each other in the construction of high buildings.’
Then that man left and I stayed there for a while. The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said to me, ‘Umar, do you know who the questioner was?’ I said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He then said: ‘That was Jibril (Gabriel) (‘Alayhissalaam), who came to teach you the principles of your religion.’” [Muslim]
This Hadith is known as “the Hadith of Jibril”. It mentions the basics of Islam, the details of which are known (or should be known) to every Muslim.
Al-Qadar (Divine Preordainment) means that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) has already determined and written everything that will happen until the Day of Resurrection. When Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) created the pen, He said to it: “Write!” It said: “O my Lord! What shall I write?” Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said: “Write all that will happen.” In that hour, all that will happen till the Judgment Day was written. [Reported by al-Bukhari]
So, whatever Allah has ordained, must come to pass. That which one missed, was not to come to him; and that which one gets, he was not to be deprived of.
In another Hadith, the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The pens have been lifted and the ink on the book of fate has become dry.” [Reported by at-Tirmidhi]
No one has the power to change the Decision of Allah. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) mentioned the matter of writing and al-Qadar in His Book. In Surat al-Hajj (22:70):
أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي السَّمَاء وَالْأَرْضِ إِنَّ ذَلِكَ فِي كِتَابٍ إِنَّ ذَلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ
“Know you not that Allah knows all that is in the heaven and on earth? Verily, it is (all) in the Book (al-Lawh al-Mahfoudh). Verily! That is easy for Allah.”
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) also said in Surat al-Hadid (57:22):
مَا أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن نَّبْرَأَهَا إِنَّ ذَلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ
“No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (al-Lawh al-Mahfoudh), before we bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah.”
“Before We bring it into existence,” means before its creation, i.e. “before We created the earth and before We created you and the calamity.” This means that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) wrote (the matter) before the creation of the heavens and earth by 50,000 years.
’Abdullah bin ’Amr bin al-’Aas (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) saying, ‘Allah ordained the destiny for the creations fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and the earth, and His Throne was upon water.’” [Muslim]
Ahl-ul-Ilm (the Scholars) said: “Believing in al-Qadar requires from one to believe in its four categories:
1- The first category:To believe that Allah is All-Knower of everything (عليم بكل شيء). There are many verses in the Book (Qur’an) which mention that Allah’s Knowledge comprehends everything, as He (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat at-Talaq (65:12)
لِتَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَحَاطَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عِلْماً
“That you may know that Allah has power over all things, and that Allah surrounds (comprehends) all things in (His) Knowledge.”
And in Surat al-An’aam (6:59):
وَعِندَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لاَ يَعْلَمُهَا إِلاَّ هُوَ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِن وَرَقَةٍ إِلاَّ يَعْلَمُهَا وَلاَ حَبَّةٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الأَرْضِ وَلاَ رَطْبٍ وَلاَ يَابِسٍ إِلاَّ فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ
“And with Him are the keys of the ‘Ghaib’ (all that is hidden), none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is on the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but He knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth or anything fresh or dry, but is written in a clear Record.”
2- The second category: To believe that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) wrote the measurements of everything (i.e. has measured it exactly according to its due measurements) till the establishment of the Hour, before the creation of the heavens and earth by 50,000 years.
Whatever happens is in accordance with that knowledge and writing (decree). If something (a calamity, a misfortune) befalls you, do not say, “Had not I done such a thing, this would not have happened to me.” Because this thing had already been decreed and written, and it will necessarily happen and occur according to Allah’s Writing. You cannot escape from it no matter what you do. The matter will occur; it will not change.
One may ask (say): Did not Prophet Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) say in a Hadith (narration):
من أحب أن يبسط له في رزقه ويُنسأ له في أثره فليصل رحمه
“Whoever desires an increase in his sustenance and age, should keep good relations with his kith and kin.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
The answer is: Yes. It is mentioned that age and sustenance are increased by maintaining good relations with kith and kin. You have to understand that it has been written for him that he will maintain good relations with his relatives and accordingly his sustenance will be increased for him because of that and his age also will be prolonged.
But Prophet Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “من أَحَبَّ” “Whoever desires …..” in order to encourage us and that we hasten towards maintaining good relations with our kith and kin.
Sheikh bin ’Uthaimeen (Rahimahullaah) then added: “You have to understand that the writing in al-Lawh al-Mahfoudh (the Preserved Tablet) is followed by other writings:
(i) When the embryo (foetus), in his mother’s womb, has completed four months, an angel is sent to him (an angel appointed to the wombs), and he will blow the soul into him and he (the angel) is ordered (by Allah) to write four things: he is ordered to write down his (i.e. the new creature’s) deeds, his livelihood, his (date of) death, and whether he will be blessed or wretched (in the Hereafter). This writing is other than the writing in the Preserved Tablet. This writing is at the beginning of man’s life, therefore, the scholars call it al-Kitabah al-Umuriyyah (life or age writing) related to the life or the age of man.
(ii) Therefore, you see the embryo moving after completing four months (120 days), because the soul has been breathed into him. There is also another writing which is every year in the Night of al-Qadr. Laylat-ul-Qadr (the Night of Decree) is a night in which Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) writes (decrees) what will happen in the coming year, as Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat ad-Dukhan (44:3-4):
إنّا أنزلناه في ليلة مباركة . إِنّا كنا منذرين فيها يُفْرَقُ كُلُّ أَمرٍ حكيم
“We sent it (this Qur’an) down on a blessed Night [i.e. Night of Qadr, in the month of Ramadan]. Verily, We are ever warning [mankind that Our Torment will reach those who disbelieve in Our Oneness of Lordship and in Our Oneness of Worship]. Therein (that Night) is decreed every matter of ordainment [i.e. the matters of deaths, births, provisions, calamities, etc. for the whole (coming) year as decreed by Allah].”
This is why it is called the Night of Decree.
3- The third category: To believe that everything happens or occurs by Allah’s Will. Nothing can escape from His Will. There is no difference between that which happens and belongs to Allah Alone, such as rainfall and giving life or death etc., and that which He (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) teaches to His creation such as prayer; fasting, etc. All these are by Allah’s Will, according to Allah’s Statement in Surat at-Takwir (81:28-29):
لِمَن شاء منكم أن يستقيم . وما تشاءون إلا أن يشاء الله رَبُّ العالمين
“For whomsoever among you who wills to walk straight, and you do not will, unless (it be) that Allah wills, the Lord of the Alamin (Mankind, Jinns and all that exists).”
And Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat al-Baqarah (2:253):
وَلَوْ شَاء اللّهُ مَا اقْتَتَلَ الَّذِينَ مِن بَعْدِهِم مِّن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ وَلَـكِنِ اخْتَلَفُواْ فَمِنْهُم مَّنْ آمَنَ وَمِنْهُم مَّن كَفَرَ وَلَوْ شَاء اللّهُ مَا اقْتَتَلُواْ وَلَـكِنَّ اللّهَ يَفْعَلُ مَا يُرِيدُ
“If Allah had willed, succeeding generations would not have fought against each other after clear Verses of Allah had come to them, but they differed – some of them believed and others disbelieved. If Allah had willed, they would not have fought against one another, but Allah does what He likes.”
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) ascertained to us that we have no will except that which Allah wills, and our deeds or actions occur by Allah’s Will: “If Allah had willed, they would not have fought.” Everything occurs by Allah’s will, nothing in His dominion occurs without His Will. Therefore, all the Muslims agree upon this great word:
ما شاء الله كان وما لم يشأ لم يكن
“Whatever Allah willed, will happen, and whatever He willed not, will not happen.”
4- The fourth category:To believe that there is nothing in the heavens and the earth but that which Allah has created, according to His statement in Surat az-Zumar (39:62):
الله خالق كل شيء وهو على كل شيء وكيل
“Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the ‘Wakil’ (Trustee, Disposer of affairs, Guardian, etc.) over all things.”
And in Surat al-Furqan (25:2):
وخلق كل شيء فقدرّه تقديراً
“He has created everything, and has measured it exactly according to its due measurements.”
So everything that occurs is created by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala). Man is a creation of Allah, his (man’s) action or deed is a creation of Allah. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala)
said about Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (‘Alayhissalaam)when talking to his people:
والله خلقكم وما تعملون
“While Allah has created you and what you make!” (As-Saffat 37:96)
So, the action (deed) of the slave is created by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala), but the slave is the one who performs it and not Allah. Allah is the One Who created this action, and the slave did it. It is attributed to Allah as His creation and attributed to the slave as his earning and performance. Everything that occurs is created by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala), but what is related to Allah’s Attributes is not created. For example, the Qur’an, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) has sent it down upon Prophet Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) and it is not created, because the Qur’an is Allah’s Word and Allah’s Word is one of Allah’s Attributes which is not created.
These are the four categories of belief in al-Qadar! One should believe in them all, otherwise he does not believe in al-Qadar correctly.
The Fruits (benefits) of believing in al-Qadar
The fruits of believing in al-Qadar are great and numerous. If one knows that nothing occurs except as Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) ordained or ordered, then he will be relieved. If a calamity befalls him, he becomes patient and says, ‘This is from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala),’ and if he experiences something pleasant (good times come to him), he is grateful to Allah, and says, ‘This is from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala).’ It is affirmed in a Hadith, reported by Muslim, that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “How wonderful is the case of the believer. All of his affairs are good, unlike anybody else. When he experiences a joyful occasion, he is grateful; and it will be good for him. And if he suffers misfortune and endures it patiently, then it will also be good for him.” Because the believer believes that everything is by Allah’s preordainment, he is always happy and satisfied. He knows that what befalls him is from Allah; if it is adversity (misfortune) he is patient and waits for prosperity (relief) from Allah, and returns to Allah in Du’aa asking Him to remove this adversity. And if it is a pleasant or joyful matter, then he is grateful to Allah and knows it is not a result of his strength or might but by Allah’s Grace and Mercy.
To believe in preordainment, the good of it and the bad of it (or its goodness and badness)
Good is all that benefits man and suits him, such as useful knowledge, abundant and lawful wealth, good health, having children and family, tranquility, prosperity, etc., while evil is the opposite of that, such as ignorance, sickness, loss of children and family, famine, calamities, troubles, etc. All these (the good and the bad) are from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala).
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) decrees good with Wisdom and decrees evil with Wisdom as He (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat al-Anbiyaa’ (21:35):
وَنَبْلُوكُم بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ
“And We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good, and to Us you will be returned.”
Every action of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) is attributed with Wisdom and expedience (having benefits) which are known to Him Alone. When Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) Knows, in His Wisdom, that it is good to decree a certain evil, then He decrees it for the great interest and purpose that results from it, as it is stated in Surat ar-Rum (30:41):
ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ
“Evil (sins and disobedience of Allah, etc.) has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned (by oppression and evil deeds, etc.), that Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return (by repenting to Allah, and begging His Pardon).”
One may ask, “How can you reconcile between the statement of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) “And to believe in al-Qadar, the good of it and the bad of it,” and his statement: “And evil is not from You.” [a part of a Hadith reported by Muslim]
Shaikh Bin ’Uthaimeen (Rahimahullaah) answered with the following: “The absolute (pure) evil which is not mixed with good, can never be traced back to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) or found in Allah’s action, this is from one side. Because even the evil which Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) has decreed as an evil, surely it has a good end (or result). So it can be an evil for certain people and good for others.
For example, if Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) descended heavy rain and drowned the plants of one man, but (at the same time) this rain benefited the land and many others benefited from it. Therefore, the rain was good for those who benefited from it and on the other hand, it was evil for the one who was harmed. So the rain was good (from one side) and evil (from another side).
Second: Even the evil which Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) has decreed for a man, is good in its reality. Because if he is patient and hopes the reward from Allah, then he will be rewarded with abundant reward, more than the harm or the evil that touched him.
It is mentioned about one of the female worshippers, that she was afflicted with an injury on her finger or her hand, so she was patient and grateful to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) for that and she kept saying, “The sweetness of its reward made me forget the bitterness of its patience!”
Thus we say: ‘Actually evil is not in Allah’s action, but in the creatures’. The creatures have in them good and evil, but Allah’s action (act of creating) is good, therefore, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said:
قل أعوذ برب الفلق من شر ما خلق
“Say, I seek refuge with (Allah) the Lord of the Day-break, From the evil of what He has created.” (Surat al-Falaq 113:1-2)
For example, if you had a sick person, and you were told that one means of curing him is to brand him (cauterizing him). So you did cauterize (brand) him. Undoubtedly, the fire was painful, but your action was not evil, as it was good for the sick person, because you were expecting a good result from branding him.
His is the highest description and nothing is comparable unto Him, and we say the same about the action of Allah with regards to the hateful things and the things which have in them evil, because Allah’s action and creation is good because what results from it is abundant good.
Shaikh al-Albani (Rahimahullaah) in his book ‘Sifat Salat al-Nabiy’ said regarding the statement “And evil is not from You,” i.e., evil cannot be traced back to Allah because there is nothing bad in His Actions, for they are all good, ranging from Justice to Grace to Wisdom, all of which are good with no bad in them. But evil is evil because it cannot be traced back to Allah. (الشر أصبح شراً لانقطاع نسبته وإضافته إلى الله).
Ibn al-Qayyim (Rahimahullaah) said: “He is the Creator of good and evil, but the evil exists in some of His creatures, neither in His act of creating nor in His actions. Hence, the Exalted is cleared of any Dhulm (oppression), which is fundamentally to put something in other than its proper place. He does not put anything except in its suitable place, so that it is all good. Evil is to put something in other than its proper place: when it is put in its proper place, it is not evil, so be sure that evil is not from Him. But if it is said: ‘Why did He create something which is evil?’ I would say: “He did the creating, and His action is good not evil, for creation and action is with Allah, and it is impossible for evil to be with, or attributed to, Allah. Anything evil in the created cannot be traced back to Allah, but His actions and His creation can be attributed to Him, so they are good.”
If one asked, how you reconcile between this and Allah’s Statement:
ما أصابك من حسنة فمن الله وما أصابك من سيئة فمن نفسك
“Whatever of good reaches you, is from Allah, but whatever of evil befalls you, is from yourself.” Surat An-Nisa (4:79)
The answer is: We say, “Whatever of good reaches you is from Allah,” means that is out of Allah’s Grace that He has bestowed upon you that good in the beginning and at the end. “But whatever of evil befalls you is from yourself,” means, that you are the cause of this evil, although Allah has decreed it but you were the cause as He (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat ash-Shura:
وَمَا أَصَابَكُم مِّن مُّصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَيَعْفُو عَن كَثِيرٍ
“And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned, and He pardons much.” (42:30)
The people are divided into three sects with regards to al- Qadar:
1- Al-Jabriyyah al-Jahamiyya: They affirmed the preordainment of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala), but in an extreme way. They affirmed it to the extent that they claim that the slave has no choice or will.
2- Al-Qadariyyah al-Mu’tazilah: They affirmed the will and the choice for the slave in his actions, but they denied Allah’s Will with regards to the action of the slave. They even denied Allah’s Knowledge of any event before its occurrence. They claimed that Allah does not know anything until it occurs.
3- Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah: They affirmed that the slave has a will and ability, but the slave’s will is joined with (depending on) the will of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala), as Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said in Surat at-Takwir (81:29):
وما تشاءُون إِلاّ أن يشاءَ الله
“And you will not, unless (it be) that Allah wills.”
In conclusion, everything occurs by Allah’s decree whether it is good or evil. Clearly it must be known that the good is from Allah, but we say that evil is not Allah’s action, but His creatures’. Even the creatures which have in them evil could be good from another angle, either for the afflicted person or for other than him. Or we say that it is evil for him from one side and good for him from another side, because whenever an evil afflicts a person, he will get great reward and it may be a reason (a cause) for his firmness on the religion and a way to know Allah’s bounties on him, so the result is good.
*For example, you offer prayer as if you see Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala), you pay Zakat as if you see Him, you observe fast as if you see Him, and so on with the rest of deeds.
Worshipping Allah as if we see Him indicates sincerity to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) and the perfection of the deed in performing it in accordance to the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam). Whoever worships Allah in this way, surely, loving Allah and magnifying Him will occur (and have effect) in his heart which will prompt (induce) him to perfect the performance of the deed.
** i.e. You worship Allah with fear of Him and meditation and knowing that Allah is All-Watcher over you. Of course, worshipping Allah according to the first state is more perfect/better than the second state.
*** According to Imam Nawawi, the handmaid giving birth to her master means that the number of handmaids in the Harams of Sultans will be much increased: they may give birth to their master’s children including their daughters who may be called in the tradition as of noble descent; or children may rebel against their parents and such children may consider their mothers as handmaids.
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