If everything is determined in our fate, why did Allah send us down to earth for testing? Does He not already know everything? He could have sent us to Heaven or Hell without testing, too; why did He not do so?

Details of the Question
1. If everything we will do is recorded in our fate, why are we held responsible for what we do? 2. If everything is determined in our fate, why did Allah send us down to earth for testing? Does He not already know everything? He could have sent us to Heaven or Hell without testing, too; why did He not do so? He knew the result of testing in advance anyway.
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The following is reported from Abdullah Ibn   Mas'ud (may Allah be pleased with him):  Allah's Apostle, the true and truly inspired said, "(The matter of the Creation of) a human being is put together in the womb of the mother in forty days, and then he becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar period, and then a piece of flesh for a similar period. Then Allah sends an angel who is ordered to write four things. He is ordered to write down his (i.e. the new creature's) deeds, his livelihood, his (date of) death, and whether he will be blessed or wretched (in religion). Then the soul is breathed into him. So, a man amongst you may do (good deeds till there is only a cubit between him and Paradise and then what has been written for him decides his behavior and he starts doing (evil) deeds characteristic of the people of the (Hell) Fire. And similarly a man amongst you may do (evil) deeds till there is only a cubit between him and the (Hell) Fire, and then what has been written for him decides his behavior, and he starts doing deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise."  . (Buhari)

Explanation: The words of the Messenger of Allah ends with the words shaqiy and said. The part that comes after belongs to Abdullah Ibn-i Mas'ud, the narrator of the hadith.

The meaning conveyed by this Ibn-i Mas'ud hadith is expressed as: “a ‘said’ (blessed) person is ‘said’ in the womb of the mother and a ‘shaqiy’ (wretched) person is ‘shaqiy’ in the womb of the mother”, and it is famous like a proverb.  

This hadith states that some people will go to Paradise and some will go to Hell.

That Allah created some people for Paradise and that they will act accordingly should be understood as follows: Some people will want, in this world, to do deeds that will be worthy of entering Paradise and Allah will create those deeds and as a result, those people will go to Paradise.    

That Allah created some people for Hell and that they will act accordingly should be understood as follows: Some people will want to commit deeds that will necessitate entering Hell and Allah will create those deeds and they will go to hell by committing those deeds.

As a matter of fact, a person can go to a place where sins are committed of his own accord; he may go to places where Allah’s name is mentioned, too. He is free to go to either place. He will reap what he sows. That is what is meant by the hadith.

Are the hands of a person tied when it is decided in the womb of the mother that he will be a blessed or wretched person? If it is claimed to be so, how is it compatible with the divine justice that the person is tested and then a reward or punishment is given to him?

First of all, God Almighty is Wise and Just. He does not do anything without a reason (wisdom) and in vain; He is just. He does not oppress His slaves.

One meaning of fate (Qadar) is that Allah knows the life programs of the beings He created with his pre-eternal knowledge. That is, everything beginning from the moment a person falls into the womb of the mother to coming to the world and every breath that he takes is recorded in his fate and Allah knows it all.

Allah created every person in a clean nature and as a good person in essence. Every person has a tendency towards both the good and evil. A person’s responsibility depends on which one he tends more. Allah created a potential Abu Bakr and Abu Jahl in each person. It is valid for every person except prophets because Allah is just; He does not oppress people.

However, not every man can develop the sapling of belief in them; and some people make it wither. That a person is given inclinations toward the evil and that the soul and satan pester him is good in a sense. Man can be elevated to higher ranks than angels and can go down to lower levels. The main reason why the universe was established and life continues is to bring about perfect man. Man needs to oppose bad tendencies, his soul, and satan in order to be elevated to high ranks. If it were not like that, man would be like angels, with a fixed rank. In fact, there are many angels with fixed ranks.  

Fate (qadar) is a program arranged by science and will. Qada (decree) is the name of the application phase of that program.  

Qada is the manifestation of the power of Allah. Qadar is a reflection of the knowledge of Allah. When it is seen in this light, knowledge (science) is thought of. As a matter of fact, the following verse shows that Qadar means the knowledge of Allah: “And there is not a thing but its (sources and) treasures (inexhaustible) are with Us; but We only send down thereof in due and ascertainable measures..” (al-Hijr, 21).

Since Qadar is a program originating from knowledge, it has no compulsory effect on the acts of man. As a matter of fact, the following rule of the science of kalam relating to Qadar will express the issue more clearly:  “knowledge is subject to what is known”. Let us explain it by giving an example; for instance, the fact that we know when the sun will rise and when it will set has no effect on the rising and setting of the sun.  The sun will not rise and set at those times because we know it; on the contrary, we know that it will rise and set at those times.

The sustenance and deeds of a person, and whether he is blessed or wretched mentioned in the hadith is related to the point of Qadar. In fact, the expression stated in the hadith is used in order to declare that Allah knows what happened, what is happening and what will happen, in short, everything.    

That Allah knows who will go to Hell and who to Paradise with His pre-eternal knowledge is a qualification of His Divinity. The fact that He makes the appointed angel write it when the baby is in the womb of the mother does not change this qualification of His attribute, knowledge, which has no sanction power. That is, there is no compulsion in terms of Qadar.  

Man has properties that are suitable for deeds that will lead him both to Hell and to Paradise. Man can do the deeds that will lead him to Paradise or to Hell with the partial free will given to him. All of the responsibility for it belongs to him. That hadith mentions that property of man.

Qadar has two aspects: One is out of man’s will; they are issues like coming to the world, his father and mother, time of his death, etc. Man is not responsible for them since he cannot decide about them using his own will.

He is responsible for his deeds that he decides to do. Every man knows that one goes to the mosque or to the pub of his own accord. There is no compulsion here.

It is stated in a hadith that every person has the nature of Islam when he is born. One of the meanings of the word Islam mentioned in hadiths is high ethics. That is, every man is created with high ethics in essence and with a property that can approve the fundamentals of belief. However, if man changes this property of his using his own will and adopts a belief that belongs to the people of Hell and commits deeds that are peculiar to the people of Hell, he will definitely be responsible for it.  

Allah did not create some men for Hell. Contrarily, He created Hell for some men. For instance, a state builds a prison but it does not build it to put such and such men in it. It builds it for those who deserve to enter there. Similarly, Allah created Hell. It is not suitable for His wisdom and justice to say, “I prepared Hell for such and such people” because those people will have the right to object to if they have not deserved hell.  

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