Choice and Al-Takleef
Our discussion about Al-Qadda wa Al-Qadar and the Choice has reached a limited point. You have no choice except for what you actually do, and even in that you do not have ultimate choice. Still your choice in what you do is limited and not everything you want to do is subject to your choice. Actually there are few things that you do and are subject to your choice.
Before we go further, we should understand the meaning of the deed. There are three terms the saying, the work and the deed and each of the three has a different meaning. The saying is the work of the tongue whose role is to speak. And the work is the role of the senses that execute what man wants and the doing is the coordination of the talk and the work. For that Al-Haqq (SWT) says:
<<O, you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do. >>
Ayat 2,3 from Surat As-Saff
So there are sayings, work and doings. Man can own the saying but he cannot own the doing. Why? Because the deed has conditions, that are not subject to his choice. The first two of those conditions are the time and the place for each action needs time and place to take part at. Time is measured by the events or actions that take place.
And for anything to happen in manâ€™s life he needs time which can be at least few seconds. In our worldly life we measure our life by time, a task can take a year while another can take two years. An event could have happened a year ago and another could have passed for thousands of years. Something could happen tomorrow or the day after or even after a year. The man is 20 years of age and that other man is 70 or 80 years old.
Therefore the events of life for man are measured by time that is owned by Allah who created the time. We do not own the time on the contrary it is time that owns us. For man cannot stop the time, he does not have the power to remain a kid and not to grow up. He cannot remain a youth without aging and he cannot have the power to return to the past and go back in time for a year or more.
Also no one of us owns the future so that he can go twenty years ahead in one day. So if we cannot control the time, then we will not be able to control its events. By that anything that we do is beyond our power of choice with respect to time because we do not own except the moment that we are currently living.
Deeds â€¦ by Whom?
If you say that you will do something tomorrow, we will tell you that you are saying what you cannot or do not own to fulfill because you might not live till that day. And if you are still alive by that day you might have an illness that prevents you from doing what you wanted to do. You might not have the strength or power to carry it out. You might have a reason to stop you, for example one of your kids might get ill or die and by that you will not complete what you have planned to do.
The same thing could happen to the other partner that is sharing the same deed with you. For example, you have decided with another person to meet tomorrow at a specific place. Then that man had an urgent incident or a sudden illness or he had passed away. The meeting would never take place and so the act of meeting would not be executed.
Every action requires time and place. That is the measures of earth and the Worldly life, Al-Hayat Al-Donya. If Allah gave you the factor of time, He might not give you the place. If for example you want to build a building, you could wake up in the morning and find out that the piece of land had been marked by the city for public use or as a historical area. You could also have someone stopping you and claiming the ownership of the land. You could not find the engineer to monitor the construction or you might not find the contractors needed to get the work done. You might not find the products to use in constructing the building. You do not own all that for you do not own the elements of the deed, but Allah (SWT) owns them. And for that Allah (Jalla Jallaloh) says:
<< And never say of anything, â€œI shall do such and such thing tomorrowâ€, Except (with the saying), â€œIf Allah will!â€ And remember your Lord when you forget and say: â€œIt may be that my Lord guides me unto a nearer way of truth than this.â€>>
Ayat 23, 24 from surat Al-Kahf
That is you should behave in what you say and relate the deed to Allah who owns it. You should not relate it to yourself and say that you are going to do this or that, but you should always relate it to Allah (SWT) because He is the one that owns the true elements of the deed. He (SWT) owns your life, He keeps you till you finish what you wanted to do or He ends your life before you can do anything. He (Jalla Jallaloh) owns the strength and provides it to you to be able to do what you want or He takes your strength away so you are not able to do anything. He owns the elements of place, He keeps it in a good state for you to go on with doing what you want or He makes it impossible for you to complete the task. And He has the power to make whoever He wants from his servants subject to you, to execute what you want. Or He does not make them subject to you and by that you cannot even start what you want to do. So if all the elements of action is in the hands of Allah (SWT), you should relate it all to Him and say â€œIf Allah willsâ€.
So for the deed to happen and get completed, it is only in the hands of Allah. No one of us has the power to do what he wants except if Allah wills or if Al-Haqq (SWT) gave him the life and energy to do it.
The Deed and Al-Qadar
Even with the things that are subject to you, that Allah (SWT) have apparently submitted to your will, still nothing happens without the will of Allah. The feet do not move one step except if Allah gave them the power to step and the hand will not move without Allah giving it the power to move. There are a lot of people who try to question that, and we tell them to look at themselves and to the movements that they choose to do. They know that it all happens with the power of Allah (SWT). For when you are sitting, all what you do to stand up is that you feel you would like to get out of your chair and then Allah gives you the power to do that. And if you claim that you do this with your own power, then tell us how many muscle moves as you move from your chair? How many muscle contracts and how many expands to get you stand up?
The answer is that most of us does not know. The specialists in that area would probably know the answer, but yet even the specialists move instantaneously. And if man moves with his own power he will have to give orders to specific muscles to contract and relax. He would of course in this case take more time before he could stand up and that would be the time needed to give orders to the muscles.
Also when man walks he does not know anything about the movement that takes place inside his body. There are many processes that take place inside his body when he wants to jog or run. The heart beats faster to provide the body with more oxygen needed for running. The circulatory system also goes faster and so does the rate of inhaling and exhaling. The muscles move differently from the case of walking. All those changes do not happen with oneâ€™s own choice, it happens with the will of Allah (SWT). For it is He (TWT) who gives the body the energy to do all that with out any intervention from man. And if that is not the case, it would have been very hard for the people to move and their movement would have been very slow.
Will and Movement
So the type of movements that we call voluntarily or mechanical movements, happen very fast and they do not deal with the human choice. Man does not tell the movement to start or to stop.
It is actually an energy that Allah (SWT) provided you with its power. No one can claim that it is an internal power or that it happens by manâ€™s own choice. Allah (SWT) placed this energy in you, the energy to move and then he made you free to direct it.
For you can direct the energy inside you, that is created by Allah, to good or evil. You can walk to the mosque or you can walk to the bar, Allah forbids. That move you made is not of your own power, but the power of moving is from Allah and you directed that power to good or to evil.
Your hands can hold the knife to cut the food to pieces small enough for you to eat. You can also hold the same knife to kill someone with it. You did not bring the energy in your hands to do what you did, but that energy has been provided to you from Allah. You only directed that energy that is provided from Allah to the hands that are also created by Allah, to do the good or evil.
And the tongue could say the truth or it could lie, it could witness the right or it could be wrong about it. It could say a good word or an evil word, but still you do not own any internal power to make your tongue talk. You only directed that talking energy that Allah (SWT) provided to your tongue to obey or disobey.
The same with all other organs of your body, that appears to submit to your choice. That choice is actually not from within yourself, because all those organs do not move according to your choice, but it moves by the power of Allah (SWT) that He put in them and you only direct that power to the good or bad.
That is the scope of choice that Allah gave you. It is limited to directing the energy to the good or evil, and that is the responsibility that we are accounted for. It is the Amanah that man bore. Allah (SWT) wanted to create us free to choose and if it were that Allah did not create us free to choose, we would have not owned to choose anything. Yet we are only free to choose in the scope of our duty and from among the divine gifts that Allah (SWT) wanted us to enjoy in our life. For example we can choose what we like of food, drinks, clothes and other blessings. But other than that we do not have any power of choice.
Choice in the Law
So we are free to choose in applying the law of Allah, the right approach to do and not to do. That law is actually the straight path that we are accounted for in the Hereafter because the meaning of â€œTakleefâ€œ is to follow that straight path and get away from what is forbidden. That is strictly to do and not to do. And man by law should not move what Allah ordered him to do to the scope of what is forbidden. Also man by the divine law of Allah should not move what is forbidden to the scope of what should be done. For that would be mere disobedience. For you disobey Allahâ€™s decree if you do what He forbids you from doing and if you do not do what He orders you to do. So that is the scope of your choice, and you will be accounted for it in the Hereafter.
By that we reach the real scope of choice for man in the worldly life <AlHayat Al-Donia>, or to the area that Allah (SWT) has created and within which He granted us the ultimate freedom so that choice takes place with the free will of man.
But why do we disobey the law of Allah and do what He asked us not to do? And why do we refuse doing what He orders us to do? Because Allah (Jalla Jallaloh) in that specific part made us free to choose. And if He did not make us free to choose, we would not own the power to do or not to do. For we do what conflicts with the will of Allah according to His law, from the concept that He gave us the freedom to choose. So the will of Allah to make us free to choose comes first and that is what gives us the power to choose.
The meaning of (Al-Takleef)
If we reach that point then we should know by now the meaning of (Takleef) and what is the choice with regards to humans. We should also know that manâ€™s choice is according to the decree of Allah in what to do and what not to do and that it is the basics upon which we will be accounted for in the Hereafter.
But there might be some inevitable power that might interfere with manâ€™s choice. We might be forced to do things and by that we are not free to choose the right path (Manhaj).
In that case, we say that the burden of duty (Takleef) is raised and you are not accounted for what you do. That is the Fairness of Allah for He will not make you accounted for something when you are prevented to freely direct your energy to do good or evil.
For example, imagine that a man came and tied me with some chains so that I could not pray. Would I be accounted for not praying? Or would I not be accounted for it? Consider that someone came and ordered me to prostrate to someone other than Allah? Would I be accounted for that? Of course not because Allah (TWT) says:
<<Whoever disbelieved in Allah after his belief, except him who is forced thereto and whose heart is at rest with Faith.>>
Ayah 106 from Surat An-Nahl
So the force is not accounted for when Allah (SWT) gave us the choice in applying His law. He gave us the freedom to choose under the condition that we choose with our own free will. For Allah (SWT) wants us to approach Him lovingly and willingly. By that He (Jalla Jallaloh) wants us to prove the lovingness to the great essence of His Highness. So whoever did any sin unwillingly or by force is not accounted for his sin. Similarly anyone who obeys Allah by force or without his own free choice is not rewarded for the good deeds that he committed. For worship should be done to truly prove the lovingness of Allah (TWT). If there is no true love for Allah in the believerâ€™s heart and if there is no sincere devotion to Allah, then none of our deeds will be accepted. For example, if a man gives some charity to get praised as the most generous and the most religious or to be called the man of righteousness, he will not be praised by Allah and will not be rewarded for his deed as he did not do it out of love to Allah but actually out of love to celebrity and to get praised by people.
And if someone goes to a charity that is organized by the wife of someone in power and donates a big amount of money to get some favor done to him at work, he will not be rewarded for it because he has chosen to get an advantage in the worldly life (Al-Hayat Al-Donya) and he did not do it out of his love to Allah. Same as with whoever prays to get people to say that he is praying and whoever goes to do the Hajj procedure to be called â€œHajjâ€, he will not be rewarded for it as he headed for celebrity and he had no true love in his heart for Allah. In that the prophet of Allah (PBUH) says:
((â€œAll the deeds are according to oneâ€™s intention and everyone will get what he intended to do. For that who immigrated to Allah and his messenger will have his immigration to Allah and his messenger and that who immigrated for a life that he wanted or a wife that he married will have his immigration to what he wantedâ€.))
So ultimate freedom of using oneâ€™s mind in directing the energy created by Allah to obey or to disobey is a main condition for Account in the Hereafter.
Also forcing people to do grievous sins of adultery is not accepted in Islam and Allah (TWT) says about that:
<<And force not your maids to prostitution, if they desire chastity, in order that you may make a gain in the (perishable) goods of this worldly life. But if anyone compels them (to prostitution), after such compulsion, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most merciful (to those women, i.e. He will forgive them because they have been forced to do this evil act unwillingly). >>
Ayah 33 from Surat An-Nur
And so we see that even with the grievous sins like disbelief and adultery, if it is practiced by force than there is no punishment for it. All deeds should be completed by freely choosing to use our minds to direct the energy created for us by Allah (SWT). That energy should be directed to do good deeds or to do evil deeds. That is why the Fairness of Allah (SWT) ruled that the â€œTakleefâ€ should be raised from the insane whose mind is unable to direct the energy freely to good or evil. That is because the insane could not distinguish between what is useful and what is harmful. The same with the child because his mind is not yet mature enough to direct him to the scope of correct choice.
Willing and Unwilling
Some people question how Al_Haqq (Jalla Jallaloh) gave man the ultimate freedom in the scope of â€œTakleefâ€ in what is permitted and what is prohibited and yet He made us accounted for our true intensions and not the apparent intensions. This is complying with what (TWT) says about the day of Resurrection
<<The Day when all the secrets (deeds, prayers, fasting, etc.) will be examined (as to their truth). Then he will have no power, nor any helper. >>
Ayat 9,10 from surat At-Tariq
If this is the case and if man is given the choice in the divine law â€œAl_Manhajâ€, so how does Al-Haqq (SWT) says:
<<And unto Allah (Alone) falls in prostration whoever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly, and so do their shadows in the mornings and in the afternoons. >>
Ayah 15 from surat Ar-Raâ€™d
We say that this Ayah is referring to the worldly life and the Hereafter. For whoever is in the heavens and the earth willingly bow down in worship for Allah (SWT). They do it â€œTawâ€™annâ€ with their own choice in this worldly life. Everything in the universe except for man and the Jann bow down in worship for Allah â€œTawâ€™annâ€ as they have chosen the oppression â€œAl-Qhahrâ€. They are oppressed with their own choice. But for man and the Jann whoever of them chose to bow down in worship will do it willingly in this worldly life. But after this life, in the Hereafter there is no more choice for man or Jann and they become oppressed. If Al-Haqq (SWT) wants them to bow down in worship they will do it against their will, none of them can disobey. And if Al-Haqq (SWT) wants them to be unable to bow they will unwillingly not be able to do it, complying with His saying (â€˜Azza wa Jall)
<<(Remember) the Day when the Shin shall be laid bare (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) and they shall be called to prostrate themselves (to Allah), but they (hypocrites) shall not be able to do so. Their eyes will be cast down and ignominy will cover them; they used to be called to prostrate themselves (offer prayers), while they were healthy and good (in the life of the world, but they did not). >>
Ayatan 42, 43 from surat Al-Qalam
So bowing down in worship â€œProstrationâ€ is done willingly in this life and then it is done unwillingly in the Hereafter because choice ends by death and all become oppressed to Allah (SWT).
Choice and Deprivation of Choice
We should be aware of an important point to which Allah (SWT) wanted to draw our attention and that is the choice we are granted in life is with the power of Allah and is according to His will. And if He wanted to deprive us that choice, He would do it because it is granted to us with His own will. That is why Al-Haqq (SWT) says about Abu Lahab, the uncle of Rasoul Allah (PBUH) and one of the chiefs of infidelity who had vigorously fought the religion of Allah:
<<Perish the two hands of Abu Lahab (an uncle of the Prophet) and perish he! His wealth and his children will not benefit him! He will be burnt in a Fire of blazing flames! And his wife, too who carries wood (thorns of Saâ€™dan which she used to put on the way of the Prophet (PBUH) or use to slander him). In her neck is a twisted rope of Masad (palm fibre).>>
Al-Haqq (SWT) announces in the Qurâ€™an â€“ which is never changed or replaced and that is brought down upon His messenger (PBUH) to worship Allah by reading it till the day of Resurrection - that Abu Lahab will die as an infidel and that he will go to Hell.
So what would be the case if Abu Lahab have gathered the people and said â€œMohammed mentions in the Qurâ€™an - that he claims to be brought upon him from Allah - that I will die as an infidel and will then go to hell and here I am saying in front of you that I witness that there is no God but Allah and that Mohammed is His messenger so that you all know that there is nothing sent to Mohammed from Heaven. Abou Lahab could have said that even out of hypocrisy to destroy the whole case of the religion.
But Allah (SWT) defies Abu Lahab in something that is within the scope of choice. And yet it never occurred to the mind of Abu Lahab, to use this defiance in destroying the religion that he strongly hated and opposed.
Actually a lot of the main chiefs of infidelity like Abu Soufyan , Khaled ibn Al-Waleed, Amro ibn Al_â€™Ass and others fought Islam strongly but after that they had strong faith in Islam, except for Abu Lahab who rejected Faith till the last moment of his life.
Al-Haqq (SWT) wants to draw our attention to the fact that He (Jalla Jallaloh) provided man with choice and that if He wills to take it away, man will have no power of choice. That is what happened with Abu Lahab, Allah (SWT) took away choice partly from him and then placed in his hands a case by which he can destroy the religion of Allah but he could not do it and it never hit his mind to use it because in that specific point he did not own the choice.
And so we find out with the definite proof that Allah gave man the freedom to choose in what to do and what not to do and that if Allah wills, He can take it away partly or fully from man.
By that we reach the point that the deed is from Allah (SWT) nothing happens without His consent and His will because He (Jalla Jallaloh) alone owns all the elements of deed. Manâ€™s choice is only in directing the energy that Allah created for him to do the good or evil. Allah (SWT) gave man complete freedom within the scope of â€œTakleefâ€ to do and not to do. Man can be able to go for what Allah forbids and he can get away from what Allah orders him to do and only within that scope there is reckoning. Even that freedom of choice is subject to the will of Allah (SWT), He can take it away fully or partially whenever He wants. So we should understand that the freedom of choice is from Allah not from man and that Allah (SWT) wanted to make man free to choose.