The following challenge is doing the rounds on social media:
MUSLIMS, REFUTE THIS ANALYSIS OF FREE WILL IN ISLAM.
My comments are preceded by the word “COMMENT“.
- Allah is omniscient.
- Nothing happens except by Allah’s will.
- Allah Himself has free will.
- Allah cannot make a mistake.
COMMENT: Premise 2 is false. Islam informs us that nothing happens except by Allah’s PERMISSION. Allah does not WILL anyone to commit crimes; however He PERMITS them to do so. This is borne out by the following Qur’anic verse:
“And if thy Lord had so willed, surely, all who are on the earth would have believed together. Wilt thou, then, force men to become believers?” (10:99)*
Forcing people to do things is not Allah’s way.
1: Because nothing happens except by Allah’s will, all human beings are created only according to Allah’s will.
COMMENT: As pointed out above, everything happens with God’s permission, but that does not imply that God wants everything to be the way it is.
2: Because Allah is omniscient, Allah knows the eventual fate of every person even before the moment of their creation.
COMMENT: This is correct.
3: Because Allah has free will, he has the free will to create or not create any human being he chooses.
COMMENT: This is correct.
4: Therefore, at the moments of creation, Allah is choosing to create some people that he already knows will be saved, and others that he already knows will be condemned to hell.
COMMENT: This is correct, but incomplete. Allah creates people who He knows will CHOOSE to act in a way that will save them, and others that He knows will CHOOSE to act in a way that will lead them to hell.
5: Therefore, since the results of every lifetime are already known even prior to creation, the “test” for salvation is already complete even before the created individual is born.
COMMENT: This is partially correct. The test results are already known to Allah, but knowledge of the results does NOT mean that God is the one producing these results. As for the test being complete, see below.
Q.E.D. Life on earth cannot be a test for salvation. The test is already complete before life on earth takes place.
COMMENT: This is incorrect. God’s knowledge of future events will only be true if the events take place. The test is only complete when all human choices have been made and all future events have happened.
6: If a human being were capable of doing anything to change his fate from the one Allah already determined, then Allah would have made a mistake.
COMMENT: Allah does NOT determine the fate of anyone. They determine their own fate, and are consequently made by God to carry the burden of that self-chosen fate. The question of a “mistake” does not apply.
7: Since Allah cannot make a mistake, a human being cannot do anything to change his fate from the one Allah already determined.
Q.E.D. Human beings cannot have free will.
COMMENT: Incorrect. See above.
- Life on earth is not a test for salvation. For what is there to test if the results are known ahead of time and there is nothing we can do to change them?
- Qiyamah, the Islamic Day of Judgment, is a farce. For we are not being judged based on our behaviors, but on Allah’s previous decision.
- People are not led to Islam because it is superior message or religion, but because Allah decided that they would become Muslims whether they wanted to or not.
- Since the vast majority of human beings who have ever lived, and who are living today are not Muslim, Allah must have created the vast majority of human beings for the express purpose of condemning them to Jahannam. Therefore the primary purpose of creation must be hell and suffering, not paradise and salvation.
COMMENT: This conclusion is entirely erroneous, due to the false assumption made in premise 2. Certain parameters in life are determined by God, such as the place and date of birth, ethnicity, height, physical abilities, etc., but within these parameters Man creates his own fate. The fact that God already knows what Man will do even before the universe was created, in no way means that God forced Man to make those choices. God sends guidance through His messengers to the whole of mankind. It is entirely their choice whether to arrogantly and viciously oppose it or to accept it with humility and gratitude. Their choices are not forced upon them, and they will have to face the consequences of those choices.
A farmer knowing – even before they hatch – at what time his chickens will come home to roost everyday is not the one making them do it.
*This will be 10:100 in translations where the Basmalah (In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever-Merciful) is counted as verse number 1.