Understanding Fate from Three Perspectives: God, Angels, and Humans

Understanding Fate from Three Perspectives: God, Angels, and Humans

In the science of monotheism, destiny is a term that refers to qadla’ or Allah’s decision which has been written in the law of mahfudz since before the world was created. Allah alludes to this in many verses, for example: 

No calamity has befallen on earth or in yourselves except that it is in a Book, before We bring it forth. Indeed, that is easy for God.

“Every calamity that befalls the earth and that befalls you, it is all written in the Book (Lauh Mahfuzh) before We bring it to pass. Truly, that is easy for God” (QS. Al-Hadid: 22).

The discussion of destiny is a relatively complicated theme because the postulates that come to us at first glance contradict each other. Some of the propositions of the Qur’an and hadith say that all events in this world have been recorded in Lauh Mahfudz and the pen that recorded them has dried up so it is impossible to change. Some other propositions emphasize that human prayer can change destiny, as well as friendship can extend life beyond a predetermined time. 

Several other propositions order us to do various good deeds so that we can achieve a happy life in this world and the afterlife. These all suggest that human endeavor has a big role in determining the path of destiny that he will take. Actually, what is destiny?

Fate with all its perceptions, some scholars then divide destiny ( qadla’ ) into two types, namely: First , mubram destiny , namely destiny that is patent and cannot be changed in any way. For example, it is destiny to be born from which parents, on what date and so on, which there is absolutely no option for humans to choose. Second , mu’allaq destiny , namely destiny that is still conditional so that it can be changed by human endeavor. For example, the destiny of poverty can be changed with prayer and hard work, the destiny of illness can be changed with prayer and medical treatment, and so on which involve a lot of effort for humans. 

At first glance, the division of destiny into two categories, mubram and mu’allaq , is enough to solve the problem. But the facts are not that simple. The problem is, there is absolutely no information from the hadith that states what things fall into the categories of mubram and mu’allaq . The belief of some ordinary people that there are only three types of destiny for Mubram, namely fortune, soul mate and death, is a completely baseless assumption.

This classification of mubram and mu’allaq is still not applicable. For example, poverty, is it considered mubram or mu’allaq? We see a poor person who prays all his life and tries hard to get out of poverty, but until the end of his life he remains poor. This incident shows that the person’s poverty has faded.

However, we also see poor people who with their efforts can drastically change their fate to become rich people, even very rich. This incident shows that the person’s poverty is still mu’allaq . The same thing applies to all cases in this world, from illness, luck, accidents to even death. Which part of all this is mubram and which part is mu’allaq? We will never know before it happens.

In fact, all the complexity above can be unraveled and easily understood if we look at destiny ( qadla’ ) from three different perspectives. This complexity and confusion only occurs as a result of these three perspectives being mixed together, even though they should be clearly differentiated. The three perspectives in question are God’s perspective, angel’s perspective, and human perspective.

Destiny in Allah’s Perspective

The Qur’an, hadith and rational arguments have confirmed that Allah is All-Knowing. The nature of al-‘ilmu that Allah possesses can reach anything without limits, both things that have happened and things that will happen. There is not a single event, even the smallest such as an event in the atomic nucleus, that God does not know. Allah says:

And with Him are the keys of the unseen. No one knows them except Him. And He knows what is on land and sea. Not a leaf falls but He knows it, not a grain in the darkness of the earth. Neither wet nor dry except in a clear Book.

“And with God are the keys of all the unseen; no one knows it except He Himself, and He knows what is on the land and in the sea, and not a single leaf falls but He knows it (also), and not a grain of seed falls in the darkness of the earth, and not anything that is wet or dry, but written in a real book (Lauh Mahfudz).” (QS. al-An’am: 59) 

In this perspective of Allah, all destiny ( qadla’ ) is mubram without exception. Everything is known in advance and will turn into reality ( qadar ) in time. This side cannot possibly experience any change at all because changes at this level are tantamount to the existence of things that God does not know. This ignorance of God is impossible.  

Fate in the Perspective of Angels

Angels have diverse tasks, according to the will of God who created them. Among the tasks of the angels that we know are: distributing sustenance, this is Michael’s task; some are tasked with taking lives, this is the task of the Angel of Death ( Izra’il ); some are in charge of recording good deeds and bad deeds, this is the duty of Raqib and Atid . And, there are many angels whose information about their duties does not reach us.

In this angelic perspective, the destiny of every human being recorded in Lauh Mahfudz is that some are already mubram (patents cannot be changed) and some are still mu’allaq (conditional). They can see whether Fulan’s fortune is a patent thing that cannot be contested or whether it still depends on several conditions that Fulan chooses, for example, if Fulan works hard, then her destiny is to be rich, whereas if she chooses to be lazy then her destiny is to be poor. Likewise with guidance, illness, age or whatever happens to Fulan.

Imam Ibnu Hajar al-Asqalani explained:

Erasure and confirmation, with regard to what is in the knowledge of the angel and what is in the Mother of the Book, is what is in the knowledge of God Almighty, so there is no erasure in it at all, and it is called the The final judgment, and the first is called the suspended judgment.

“The elimination and determination of destiny is in the perspective of what the angels know and what is recorded in Lauh Mahfudz (Ummul Kitab). As for God’s knowledge, then there is no erasure at all. This knowledge of God is called destiny mubram, and the knowledge of angels is called destiny mu’allaq.” (Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Fath al-Bâri, vol. X, page 416)  

Destiny in Human Perspective.

If angels can see the mubram and mu’allaq side of fate, humans can only fully know the mu’allaq side until the time for it to happen. In this context, Imam Ibnu Hajar explained:

And that which has preceded in the knowledge of God does not change or change, and that what is permissible for Him to change and alter is what the work of the worker appears to people to be, and it is not far-fetched that This relates to what is in the knowledge of the guardians and those entrusted with human beings, in which erasure and confirmation occur, such as an increase in lifespan and a decrease. As for what is in the knowledge of By God, there is no erasure in Him Proof.

“Indeed, what Allah knows does not change or change at all. What can change and change are a person’s actions which are visible to humans and which are visible to the guardian angels (Hafadhah) and those tasked with interacting with humans (al-Muwakkilîn). So in this case, destiny is determined and erased, such as increasing or decreasing age. As for Allah’s knowledge, there is no erasure or determination.” (Ibnu Hajar al-Asqalani, Fath al-Bâri, juz XI, page 488).

Humans can only know that there is a terrible fate that has befallen them only when something has happened. For example, things related to his birth, what he has or has not achieved at his current age and everything that has happened in the past and cannot be changed.

Humans can only know how old a person is when they have died. If the person is still alive, then his age is still fully visible so he is required to take care of himself and seek treatment if he is sick. He is prohibited from drinking poison or doing anything that will harm his soul and shorten his lifespan (from a human perspective, of course). Likewise, he is required to live a healthy life and take care of himself so that he can live longer (from a human perspective). The same rule applies to everything else.

By understanding these three perspectives, all confusion about destiny will be easily answered. A Muslim is required to believe that everything has been known by Allah for a long time and will definitely happen according to His knowledge, but he must not use that as an excuse to remain silent or use destiny as an excuse because he does not know what his destiny is. What humans must do is just try to welcome their future. It is in this context that the Prophet said:

Work, for everything is easy.

“Work hard, everything will be easy.” (HR. Bukhari – Muslim).

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