What is the relation of decree and destiny with divine will?
God registers everything in His Knowledge in a record containing each thing’s
particular characteristics, life span, provision, time and place of birth and
death, and all of its words and actions. All of this takes place by Divine Will,
for it is through Divine Will that every thing and event, whether in the realm
of Divine Knowledge or in this world, is known and given a certain course or
direction. Nothing exists beyond the scope of the Divine Will.
For example, an embryo faces innumerable alternatives: whether it will be
a live being, whether it will exist or not, when and where it will be born and
die, and how long it will live, to mention just a few. All beings are completely
unique in complexion and countenance, character, likes and dislikes, and so
on, although they are formed from the same basic elements. A particle of food
entering a body, whether an embryo or fully developed, also faces countless
alternatives as to its final destination. If a single particle destined for
the right eye’s pupil were to go to the right ear, this might result in an anomaly.
Thus, the all-encompassing Divine Will orders everything according to a miraculously
calculated plan, and is responsible for the universe’s miraculous order and
harmony. No leaf falls and no seed germinates unless God wills it to do so.
Our free will is included in Divine Will. However, our relation with Divine
Will differs from that of other beings, for only we (and the jinn) have the
power of choice; in other words, free will. Based on His knowledge of how we
will act and speak, God Almighty has recorded all details of our life. As He
is not bound by the human, and therefore artificial, division of time into past,
pre-sent, and future, what we consider “predetermination” exists in relation
to us, not to God Himself. For Him, “predetermination" means His eternal knowledge
of our acts. This point is important because Islam does not accept the deist
concept of God, namely, that He created the universe and left it to run itself.
We are contained by time and space, and therefore cannot draw exactly true conclusions
about the relation between the Creator and the creation. Also, we cannot perceive
eternity and have little true information about this world. God is beyond all
time and space, infinite and eternal. He holds the universe in His “hand” and
controls and manages it as He wills. However, so that we might glimpse His actions
and acquire some knowledge of Him and His At-tributes, He allows His manifestations
related to creation to be limited by time and space. If He did not do so, life
could not exist and we could acquire no knowledge of Him and the universe. Therefore,
what we have said about His Will and Destiny should be considered in light of
the fact that we can talk about these matters only from within the bounds of
this life (limited by time, space, and matter) and of our very existence.
In summary: Divine Will dominates creation, and nothing can exist or happen beyond
Its scope. It is also responsible for the universe’s miraculous order and harmony,
and every thing and event is given a specific direction and characteristics.
However, the existence of Divine Will does not mean that we do not have free