15 Nov Questions on Destiny and Human Free Will.Part3
Even if we all worked together, we could not create even one fruit, one leaf, or one blade of grass. Denying the existence of the One Who can do all of this, and Who created this huge universe and gave us dominion over it, is the worst sin that we can commit, and so deserves the most lasting and severest punishment.
Also, Satan tries to lead us astray by inviting us to unbelief and dissipation. Our evil-commanding soul was given to us so that we could rise to higher ranks by refining it. Our conscience innately feels the existence of God, the Creator and Sustainer of beings, and feelings that long for eternity can be satisfied only with eternity. Followers of Satan, unbelievers who are ruled by their desires and their evil-commanding selves, close their conscience to innumerable signs of God in themselves and the universe, extinguish their feelings related to eternity, and blind themselves to the Creator’s most manifest signs: the Qur’an Prophet Muhammad, and all other Prophets, upon them be peace.
Punishment varies. The punishment for violating a trust is proportional to its significance and its true owner. A child who breaks a window does not receive the same punishment as an aide-de-camp who loses or breaks the king’s crown. If a private and a commander spend the money they received (based on their rank) on petty things and so wasted it, the commander certainly would receive a much greater punishment than the private. If a scientist responsible for carrying out scientific investigations spent the resources entrusted to her on studying trifling things, certainly she would be punished far more severely than a shepherd who spent the resources assigned to her on meeting her own needs instead of those of her animals.
Animals do not misuse or waste the capital of life assigned to them. They do whatever they must: some carry burdens, some give milk and meat, and others produce honey or silk for our use. Only we can spend our resources according to own desires. Given this fact, as well as the earlier-mentioned bounties that God has given us due to our status as His vicegerents on Earth, our misuse of these resources results in a very severe punishment. If we allow ourselves to be dominated by our evil-commanding selves and not our hearts (which must overflow with knowledge and love of the Creator), we are destined to become fuel for the fires of Hell.
Question: The Prophet says that at the sixth week of an embryo’s development, God sends an angel to write whether it will be righteous and prosperous or wicked and condemned. What does this mean, and how can we reconcile it with human free will?
Answer: In addition to what has been said above, we will make the following comments.
Destiny is a of Divine Knowledge. It does not cancel our free will or force us to behave in a preordained way. Since God knows beforehand what we will do and say (as He is not constrained by our concept of time), He has an angel write down our life-history. We behave according to the dictates of our free will, not because God wrote down our future life.
Destiny is related both to the cause and the effect. There are not two separate destinies, one for the cause, the other for the effect. God knows beforehand how we will behave in a given circumstance, and His preknowledge does not negate our free will.
Only God knows whether we will go to Paradise or Hell. Although unbelief deserves eternal punishment, we may not say that unbelievers are going to Hell, for one day they might accept belief and go to Paradise. Many atheists have become Muslims. Islam came to guide unbelievers to faith and worship, and to eternal happiness in Paradise.
Question: What does Islamic fitra (primordial nature) mean?
Answer: In an authentic hadith, the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, says that all infants are born with this Islamic fitra, and then their parents cause them to adopt another faith (or no faith at all).
This hadith means that everyone has the innate potential to become a Muslim. Islam is the natural religion of all creatures, as it means “peace, salvation, and obedience.” Since everything obeys God absolutely and functions according to His laws, all creatures are muslim. Every being’s bodily structure, regardless of religion or lack thereof, whether they are human or jinn, are muslim, for all bodies operate according to the laws God Almighty determined for them. If a new-born could lead a completely monastic life free of environmental effects, he or she would remain a natural Muslim.
This hadith also means that a new-born’s mind is like a tape on which anything can be recorded, a lump of dough that can be shaped in any way, a blank paper on which anything can be written. If you could protect your mind from any external source of corruption, you could receive anything related to Islam easily and become a perfect Muslim. But if your mind becomes impure, or you inject into it the tenets, beliefs, and conduct of another religion (or of atheism), you either will adopt another faith or encounter many problems on your way to becoming a good Muslim.
New-borns resemble seeds that can produce good Muslims, for they are all seeds of future Muslims. Adverse conditions cause these seeds to be deformed or spoiled, and these people eventually adopt another faith or none at all. Therefore, to grow good Muslims, we have to do our best to improve our familial and surrounding social conditions. After children reach puberty, sins are a primary cause of deformed seeds. As every sin has the potential to lead people to unbelief, we must protect ourselves against sin. Family, education, and social environment are also of great importance.