What Is Destiny?

Destiny is a title of Divine Knowledge, it is not something that annuls man’s free will and forces him to behave in a pre-ordained way. Since God knows beforehand how man will behave in the world, He has an angel to pre-record his life history. Man behaves according to the dictates of his free will, not because God pre-recorded his future life.

Destiny is related both to the cause and effect. There are not two separate destinies, one for the cause, and the other for the effect. God knows beforehand how His servant will behave in what circumstances and His pre-knowledge does not contradict man’s having free will.

No one except God knows whether a man will go to Paradise or Hell; although unbelief deserves eternal punishment, we may not judge an unbeliever as being destined to Hell. It is possible that one day that unbeliever will accept faith and ultimately go to Paradise.

A Muslim praying

If the one who offers prayer knew how much divine mercy is descending upon him, he would surely not raise his head from prostration. ~ Ali

Summarization of Destiny

1. Divine Destiny, which you may call Divine determination and arrangement, is dominant in the universe, while not excluding man from having a free will.

2. Since God is beyond all time and space and everything is included in His Knowledge, He encompasses time with its past, present and future divisions in a single, undivided point. This subtle point can be made easier to understand also through the following comparison, in addition to the one mentioned above in the argument d:

When you are in a room, your view is restricted to the room. But if you look from high enough, you can see the whole of the city in which you live. As you rise higher and higher, the scope of your vision will gradually be broadened. The world is seen from the moon as small as a blue marble. It is the same with time as it is with space. In some such way, God as a single, undivided point, into which the past, present and future are united, encompasses all time and space.

3. Since all time and space are included in God’s Knowledge as a single point, God (pre-) recorded everything to take place until the Day of Judgment. He copies out this record both as a whole in different ‘books’ and individually for each person.

4. We do not do something because God (pre-) recorded that we should do it, but since God knew beforehand that we would do it, He (pre-) recorded it.

5. There are not two different destinies, one for cause, and the other for the effect. Rather, Destiny is one and relates to both cause and effect at the same time. Man’s free will as a cause of man’s acts, is included in Destiny.

6. God guides us to good things and actions, and allows and advises us to use our will power to good deeds, in return for which He promises us eternal happiness in Paradise.

7. Man possesses free will, which makes almost no contribution to his good acts, although it can cause deadly sins and destruction wherever it operates. Therefore, man should use his free will for his own benefit by praying to God continuously, so that he may enjoy the blessings of Paradise, a fruit of the chain of good deeds, and attain to eternal happiness. Further, man should always seek God‘s forgiveness for his sins in order to refrain from evil deeds and to be saved from the torments of Hell, a fruit of the accursed chain of evil deeds. Prayer and putting one’s trust in God greatly strengthen the inclination to good, and repentance and seeking God’s forgiveness cut the inclination to evil and break its transgressions.

By M. Fethullah Gulen

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