“Allah in His infinite knowledge, not being bound by time and space, wrote down in the Preserved Tablet everything that will happen.”
A Fundamental Tenet of Faith
The belief in qada and qadar is an essential part of Islamic creed. The term qada and qadar is normally translated into English as “predestination”. Some Islamic scholars prefer the term, “Divine Decree”, considering the term, “predestination” to be incorrect.
The concept of qada and qadar is taken directly from the Qur’an:
“And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record.” (Qur’an 6:59)
There are many more verses in the Qur’an that detail qada and qadar or the “Divine Decree”, and in addition, there are numerous prophetic hadiths also detailing the same.
As stated in an Islamic aqidah text, The Creed of Imam Tahawi, belief in qada and qadar or “Divine Decree” is one of six parts of the Islamic creed:
“Belief consists of belief in Allah. His angels, His books, His messengers, the Last Day, and belief that the Decree – both the good of it and the evil of it, the sweet of it and the bitter or it – is all from Allah.”
Unpacking Qada and Qadar
So what exactly is meant by the term, qada and qadar or “Divine Decree”? A simple explanation is that it means the Decision and Determination of Allah according to His Knowledge.
Allah in His infinite knowledge, not being bound by time and space, wrote down in the Preserved Tablet everything that will happen. Everything exists in His Pre-eternal Knowledge, before it happens in time. This includes the choices that we make using our free will.
This doesn’t cancel out our human free will because our actions are not caused by what is written by Allah according to His Knowledge of what we will choose, rather our actions are caused by our own free choices. Allah has full knowledge of everything that we will choose without being bound by time and space.
And Allah effects our choices, wills them into being, creates them out of non-existence—based on our choosing. So as humans, our choice is our free will. As the Creator, Allah wills things to happen based on our choices—which He knew about from Pre-eternity and accordingly inscribed on the Preserved Tablet.
The Creed of Imam Tahawi states:
“People’s actions are created by Allah but earned by people.”
So in sum, a person makes a choice through his or her free will to do a certain action, and the qada and qadar or the Decree of Allah is in His Decision or Will for it to be created within time.
Allah creates the action. Since we chose the action, we are considered responsible for our choice. Because Allah has infinite knowledge, not bound by time and space, He already knows everything that will take place in His creation.