Is Manner and Moment of Every Death Predestined?
Like every other kind of event, the manner and time of death are predestined. In other words, what happens and is true of the natural world is likewise true of man. The process of coming into existence, of developing, and passing away, is inevitable for each and every being. It occurs within the framework of the widest and most comprehensive plan, a Divine Decree, and also within an individual plan for each being. Such plans are always in harmony with one another. This is a system established by God in the future eternity, and never changes and will continue in the past eternity.
The established and universally acknowledged principles of the positive sciences confirm that everything, from microcosm to macrocosm, has been made and runs in accordance with such a design and determination. It is, indeed, never possible to understand or explain the order, harmony and magnificence in the universe without such predestination. Even great advances in sciences would not have been achieved if there had not been such predestination. It is because of such a preordained, mathematical and geometrical design in the universe that we conduct research in the laboratories following reliable principles and that we are able to explore both humanity and space.
We cannot conceive of any branch of science in a universe without harmony, in a world without a plan and program, and in a nature without order. In fact, all sciences become a means to reflect and make commonly known what already exists in the whole creation. They only give some names and titles to the principles governing it.
We do not, in saying that, somehow diminish scientific discoveries or technological inventions. By pointing out their place and weight, we mean only to recall the significant fact that order and harmony prevailed in the universe long before all such discoveries and inventions were made. How honored and how revered is the All Mighty and All Knowing Creator who predestined such an order and harmony as the foundation of the universe by His Divine Decree.
In today’s world, there are some sociologists who attempt to apply to human communities the principles, which seem to prevail for all other beings in the universe. This is extreme fatalism, which really deserves strong criticism. And yet, it may be helpful to the extent that it acknowledges predestination on which the universe and its order depend.
Each and every fact related to faith and creed is so because it is so. Such facts do not need any support, acceptance, or admission by man, because they come from God; they are sublime and exalted; and they do not want any acknowledgment or ascertaining from man simply to be seen as reasonable. However, while trying to call some people whose hearts and minds have been led astray, back to the right path, we assume that it would be useful to counter the claims of those who have deviated. That’s why we engage in such a discourse. Otherwise, it is obvious that everything, from atoms to galaxies, runs excellently in balance, harmony, and order, and this suffices to prove the fact that they are absolutely predestined by an All-Mighty Sovereign; since the very beginning of existence all have been acting in full obedience and submission to His Will, Power and Preordaining.
But, although the creation of these beings, which have will and freedom is by necessity and they were created at the same time as the other creatures, the ones with free will are later distinguished from the others regarding their actions carried out through their free will. God gave man the moral freedom to think, reason, form opinions, and make choices. Otherwise there could have been no personality, individuality, or character. That’s why predestination has a different essence for beings like man. Indeed, the question only arises because some people cannot perceive the different character of man’s creation from that of others, and consider it to be just the same as the creation of things. Thus, to understand the difference between man and other beings may, in part at least, solve the matter. The rest is to acknowledge that the knowledge of God encompasses all.
Man is granted freedom of will together with a power of choice and inclination that is real. In consequence of his use of this real freedom of will and choice, he earns good or evil, reward or punishment. Whatever the weight of a man’s choosing is in relation to the particular consequences of his choice, if the Creator judges his will to be a sufficient condition and reason for those particular consequences to flow from that choice, his guilt or innocence depend on how he used his choice and inclination towards evil or good. Even though what results from his willing or inclination may seem heavier than the man himself foresaw or thinks he can bear, the responsibility or blame belong wholly to himself because he brought about those results through the exercise of his choice and inclination. The Supreme Being who foreknows, preordains, and creates that responsibility or blame (in the sense that He enables it to be real) is absolutely free and exempt from it.
Let’s suppose that God decreed that a change of climate would be determined by our breathing; that He said: ‘If you breathe more than a certain amount, I will change the condition of the place where you live’. As we did not see any direct relationship between the number of our breaths and changes in the climate we breathed more than we were told and so did what was forbidden. Then, He changed the climate as He promised. Now, though such a change is beyond our power would we not be accountable for it because we caused it to happen?
In the same way, regarding the consequences of what a man causes to happen through use of his free will, he is found either guilty and therefore chastised or found faithful and therefore rewarded. For this reason, one who causes another to die is guilty and if he is not forgiven on the Divine Day of Justice he will certainly be chastised.
Now, let us look at the second aspect of the matter, that is, how the free will of man is reconciled with the All Encompassing knowledge of God.
In the knowledge of God, existence and all that is beyond it are bound up with their causes and consequences, and they are one within the other. In His knowledge, before-after, cause-effect, become two sides of the same coin. Within that knowledge, after and before, effect and cause, are known at the same time, before they come about. They are foreknown and decreed accordingly. Since all these who will have what sort of an inclination towards what, and who will use his will for what and how are foreknown, to determine the consequences of the causes does not bind, force or restrict one’s free will. Rather the contrary: since the preordaining is accomplished by taking a man’s inclination into account, it means that his free will is acknowledged and importance attached to it. For instance, if a great master tells his servants that they will be rewarded when they control their coughs, but they will not only lose the reward but also be reproached when they cough unnecessarily, this means that their free will is acknowledged, and supported. Similarly, if God reveals to one of His servants that He will create whatever that individual inclines towards and, as He foresees the consequences of his inclination, He accordingly predetermines those consequences, it means that He has accorded full importance to that individual’s will. Therefore, predetermining means neither binding nor forcing a man to do something he does not want to; nor prejudgment nor pre-condemnation. There is no forcing of individuals to pursue a prescribed course. But there is accountability for what one does.
Fate and predetermination are programs which run on the basis of God’s knowledge: that is, they are plans and programs, which are the combination of what He foreknows about the inclinations of man and what He is going to create in relation to them. To foreknow something does not determine or cause it to be or to happen as it does. Divine Will and Power make things come into existence on the basis of man’s inclination. Therefore, the things that happened and came into existence are not so because they were foreknown. On the contrary, they are known as they are. The same is true of predestination. A weather forecaster may predict the weather with a great degree of accuracy but it does not mean that he causes it. Similarly, on the basis of what is observed, God’s All-Mighty Power to foreknow and foresee the out-comes of one’s choices and inclinations and thus to assure that these will be fulfilled does not mean that He causes them.
To sum up: through His knowledge, which encompasses the past and the future, God foreknows all causes and all effects. He foreknows who will have inclinations towards what, and who will attempt to realize their inclinations, and He accordingly ordains what He is going to create in respect of those inclinations. When the time of an event arrives, He creates as He decrees and wills in respect of one’s free will, choice, and inclinations. Of course, God foreknows the manner and the moment of a person’s death, including if the person was killed. That foreknowledge does not exempt the killer from guilt or responsibility for the crime. Because Divine Will is made taking the killer’s will into account, the killer will be chastised.
By M. Fethullah Gulen