I had an argument with a friend who wanted me to logically or with a reference tell him, that if Allah has decided everything for us. E.g, if I pick a glass and put it at another place, if that is decided (as Qur'an says, that our life has been written), then where is the free will because our fate has been decided, i.e., if Allah has given us free will, then how can we say that everything we do in life is already written?

In the same context, why do we have angels on our shoulders writing down every thing wrong and good, if Allah knows our intention and already decided our fate even before we were born
Is there any reference or Ayah or Hadith regarding it?


7 Answers 7


For me the answer to this question is made of three parts:

Knowledge of something happening has no effect on what is to happen

e.g. I see two cars coming straight towards one another. I know they will hit. Because both of them are driving without their headlights on.

My knowledge isn't the root cause of them hitting each other. Same with Allah's knowledge. I can choose to either eat or not. But Allah's knows because he is my creator, he the creator of our wisdoms, he is the creator of world.

Allah's knowledge is unique and there is nothing like it

As mentioned Allah is the creator of the entire universe. Yet he doesn't create things like how we do. When we want to create a car, we start architecting it, then buy material, mold them, then create it, then try it, then we try it over and over again, until we have a model zero, then we ship it, then we try it again, fix the previous bugs, we do this over and over.

Allah created this universe without try-error and without any aid and he created it beautifully. The kind of his knowledge is not like ours. It's above and beyond ours.

We should not try to solve this question from an absolute logical way. Rather we should use our 'heart'/'Aql'.

Islam does recommend that we intellect, but many things is Islam are the action of the heart.

Have we ever seen Allah with our own eyes? No. Yet we know he exists. His existence is more obvious that the sun. His existence is known to people with PhDs and the nomad shepard.

I really get your question but do you really think we live in a restricted, pre-determined world? When you look into yourself. I really mean look into yourself. Do you think you're a puppet/robot? Or you feel you're in absolute control? Even we as his creators, don't like simulation. We don't like to watch a game where we know its end result. Allah's creation of is not a dumb simulation. It's proof so if he puts me in hell he can use my actions, tongue, hand, etc. against me as evidence.

If Allah's knowledge or anything in that matter were a cause of our actions then Allah is to be punished with us as well.

If it's all Allah then it's not condign of him to punish a servant for the doing of Allah himself. If it's the sin of them together then again Allah it's not condign of him to punish a weaker partner. Leaving the only possible conclusion that it's our action only--happening in the realm that Allah has gifted us freewill + commanded us to follow right...yet we may choose to sin. <-- This was the gist of a QA between Abu-Hanifa and Ja'far al-Sadiq. (Abu-Hanifa was the OP) ^__^.


This is something we might never understand because it is the will of Allah, but I will do my best to give an allegory to try to make it understandable to some extent.

Firstly, I want to make sure that no one is under the impression that this contrast between human free will and qadr is an "accident" or "mistake" by Islam; that it was unintended, and the only reason this problem appeared is because of two unrelated verses in the Quran giving contrary meanings.

In fact, this contrast was intended. Allah mentions the two (free will and Allah's will) together in back to back verses multiple times, so it wasn't as if it is some unintended contradiction. But, rather it was an intended contrast.

Allah says in one instance of these verses:

This is a reminder. Let whoever wills, take the way to his Lord.

But you will only will to do so if God wills- God is all knowing, all wise. (76:29-30)

These verses show the basic belief of Islam about this. A person chooses in his own free will. But the person only wills if Allah wills. Meaning, Islam's belief is that the two things are compatible.

How exactly are they compatible? I can only try my best to explain, but the fact is that they are compatible. We believe in it because it was revealed in Allah's book. The question of how does not exactly benefit anyone.

Even if someone cannot understand how it is compatible, he would still want to come to the right path and go to paradise right? Because as most people realize pain is bad and pleasure of Paradise is good. So, he would still work towards that goal regardless of whether he understands whether his working towards it is because of Allah's decision or his own decision.

This is the allegory I will use:

Imagine there is a computer with infinite memory and infinite processing power. There is a program put into it capable of free will regardless of however much memory or processing power that might take. As in, that program chooses for itself with its own decision.

Now, imagine the program is given a choice between:

A) press the button

B) not press the button

The program chooses option A and pressed the button. But, after that, the program starts blaming the computer for its actions saying: "I didn't chose to press it, it is the computer who made the final decision!"

"After all, the computer's processor is the one that actually clicked the button, and actually he executed every line of code inside me. So, it must be his decision."

The question is: who choose to press the button? The computer because it literally computed every line of code in the program? Or the program itself?

The answer is that it was both of them. Computer is the one that controlled the decision literally implementing and calculating it, and the program decided.

The question of free will and qadr is very similar.

Qadr, in fact, comes from the meaning of "calculation" or computation. Allah's qadr is in a way his calculation and computation of everything that will happen.

The universe, as a whole, only moves forward every second because Allah calculates and tells it exactly how to move forward. Otherwise nothing would happen and nothing would exist.

Allah created humans to have free will inside this qadr. They choose what they choose, but He calculates everything. Everything they decided was through his decision, through his qadr, or through his calculation. But, they still decided it with their own will just like the program still chose to press the button.


I would like to share some points which I learned through my coarse of learning and I believe these points may help you reach the answer by working as a catalyst.

As far as I have learned, I came to know that Quran never answers to all the questions we had. For example if you analyze the very first verse of Surah Al-Baqara i.e, Alif Laam Meem.. Most of the scholars explains that only Allah and his Messenger knows the meaning of this Ayah or what it really meant.

So I believe from the very first verse of the second chapter, we were made to wonder that we will only know what we were meant to know and we will never know what we could never comprehend with our minds.

So whenever we try to comprehend the idea of free will and predetermined fate, we do need to know that by raising this question or by trying to understand this, we are actually trying to understand Allah's creation plan or the work frame of his plan. When we can't even comprehend how his creations work, trying to understand this work frame will only be more complex than that. This question of free will and fate is similar to the paradoxical question which most people asks, that is "Can God create a legendary stone which no one can lift? If he can create such a stone then can he lift it?"

Well if we try to answer this question then we will fall in their pit. But please do know that we raised this question which is paradoxical in nature to us. Raising questions are easy. But how can we even try to answer this question when we can't even comprehend the idea of a legendary stone or the infinite power of God? How can we even try to answer these questions when the answerer should be God alone?

So I believe even trying to make a correct logic to your question is more like answering these paradoxical question whose real answerer is Allah alone.

So from these points what I am trying to say is that, even if you don't understand after your research then know that there is nothing problematic in that. And I believe there may be some reasons behind Allah not disclosing these details/knowledge fully.

But as far as I have learned about free will and predetermined fate, even though there are not much details available to comprehend this idea fully, I don't think we can't have an intuitive picture of this. I believe that even if we look at our life we can see both predetermined fate and free will, for example, let's consider that you want to go to the moon using your free will which no one forced you not to have this will. Do you think you can just flip your hand fastly and reach there?

I believe no humans can! Because even if we wish so, we are still limited by the laws of nature which are predetermined by our creator even before we were born! So do you think you can change this predetermined laws which Allah made? But even if you built one rocket and reach the moon then know that you reached there because Allah willed you to reach there or else these laws would have restricted you reaching there. So know that no one is beyond or excluded from Allah's predetermined will but still me and yiu do have our free will. And if we could predict when the next solar eclipse could occur? Don't you think that the one behind all these creations could know where, when and how you will be?

And whatever we do on earth, if we look upon the universe we live, we will know that our technology or anything would have only made a minor alterations in our universe. Instead if we look upon earth we will know that we adapted our life based upon its change. So I believe we humans never shaped our own lives fully instead we only made choices what this world put to us and shaped it to what we call it as our life. Some scholars usually even try to explain this concept with the help of Mario game that we have the joy stick we can either leap over the obstacles to reach the queen or else we can fall in the pit or get bitten by the monsters that come through but still the joystick or the right to chose is with you.

My intuitive explanation may not fully address the issues but I believe this will help people in some means. Jazakallah 😇

(...) as Qur'an says, that our life has been written

I would like to know which ayat you are refeering, so I can clarifly my answer.

then where is the free will because our fate has been decided, i.e., 
if Allah has given us free will, then how can we say that everything 
we do in life is already written?

When one goes to school to have exams you are doing exactly what your teacher wants you to do. You do the exam to pass it. If you take it serious or not is your choice; You cannot change or defraud the test. The teacher can also predict which students will potentially pass or not, they will not write the answers for you nor decide for you, despite potentially knowing which students will do better, they also usually prefer some students in relation to others.

Those were the ones upon whom Allah bestowed favor from among the prophets of the descendants of Adam and of those We carried [in the ship] with Noah, and of the descendants of Abraham and Israel, and of those whom We guided and chose. When the verses of the Most Merciful were recited to them, they fell in prostration and weeping. 19|58

A person can choose to be a dedicated student, or not, in that moment the objective is common, to pass it. You don’t have free will for doing whatever you want to do, the main reason is to not having escuses for not having done what you should have done - That’s in the Al-Quran, Sunnah, and authentic Hadith, transmited by Allah and His Mensenger(s); You must be a muslim (which means one is submited to Allah).

It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error. 33|36

The Creator will judge you based on your actions and you will know if you passed the test or not (in the judgement day) - and you’ll get your reward, that’s what I consider us and jinn a better creation than the angels, we have free will - you are doing a test that your creator wants you to do, and determined, and is everything as He planned. Allah learned a new thing about his creation (he didn't determined that for us or for the jinn).

And we had thought that mankind and the jinn would never speak about Allah a lie. 72|5

Allah knows everything we do. He gave us the opportunity to choose, between evil and good - Unlike angels, their actions are commanded by Allah. But our death is determined by Allah, not by us, unlike our actions.

And it is not [possible] for one to die except by permission of Allah at a decree determined. And whoever desires the reward of this world - We will give him thereof; and whoever desires the reward of the Hereafter - We will give him thereof. And we will reward the grateful. 3|145

And it is He who accepts repentance from his servants and pardons misdeeds, and He knows what you do. 42|25

Allah clearly doesn't repent for you, according to Islam, it was given Jinns and humans free will to do so. Allah gave them (Jinn) and us the power to influence one or another.

And thus We have made for every prophet an enemy - devils from mankind and jinn, inspiring to one another decorative speech in delusion. But if your Lord had willed, they would not have done it, so leave them and that which they invent. 6|112

We can finish saying that the main reason He gave us free will is for us to have the opportunity to submit ourselfs to Him (following the religion He prescribed - Islam).


Allah swt wrote our destiny accordingly to "what our decision" will be. So for example you have two road infront of you. You choose which road you go. Road A brings you to a nightclub, road B brings you to a mosque. You choose Road B, elhamdulillah.

Allah swt knew that you will choose Road B - therefore He wrote Road B in the book.

  • 1
    Try adding little more details to your answer
    – Seeker
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 14:46
  • what kind of details are you looking for? Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 15:52
  • hmm, try adding some references with better examples.
    – Seeker
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 17:53

It is important to note, we are never judged based on our actions, this is the key to this supposed puzzle.

We make this huge assumption that we control our actions, if that was the case, we would be judged based on our actions, but since that's not the case, we are judged based on our intentions.

“All actions are judged by motives, and each person will be rewarded according to their intention...." (Bukhari)

The idea of "free will" is foreign to Islam, it states clearly in the Quran:

And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record.

Everything is recorded, and everything is controlled by the creator, there is no exceptions. Even current scientific theories back this up, read on "determinism" for more detail.

So what is our purpose then?

“I have created the jinn and humankind only for My worship.” (Quran 51:56)

How can one worship without free will? It comes back to "intention", even our prayers are not accepted if we don't intend to pray hence, Allah (swt) can make us pray, even if we intend not to pray.

It all leads to the idea of "intention", the question is, does intention equate to "free will"? I think not, we can intend for something to happen, but that will only happen when Allah (swt) wills it, that's why Muslims say "Insha Allah", hence "God Willingly", which is derived directly from the belief that we are not in control of anything really, bur rather just have intentions/hopes/dreams, what ever you want to call it, and those are only manifested by the will of the creator.

Allah Knows Best

  • "we are not in control of anything" doesn't that apply to our intentions? And aren't intentions "wills" in their own right? That's to say, I can will not to intend something and therefore not do it! So intention is a form of will! Now either it is that God doesn't control our intentions or that we can never be judged on our intentions since it is God who dictates them and therefore bears the responsibility! Right?
    – infatuated
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 15:16
  • @infatuated That was in reference to actions (not intention), if you read my whole answer again, it is repeated over and over again. Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 10:58
  • I reread your answer and I don't think I had missed any point. My point was that to account for judgement based on intention brings forth the same problem with actions. How can our intentions be free from God and if they are not free how can we be judged?
    – infatuated
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 3:58
  • There is a clear distinction between intention and action in my answer. I did not say anywhere that our intentions are "not" free from God, in fact I reiterated multiple times that we are free to intend. Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 9:21
  • 1
    But all I was arguing is that how you can exclude intentions from Allah's domination? If we are not controlling our actions how are we then controlling our intentions? What makes the difference?1
    – infatuated
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 9:38

Beside what you actually asking for . I think it's a logical argument rather than religious one ..

Logically you know for sure 100% that you can do what ever you want , and as a Muslim you know for sure 100% that Allah Knows Every Thing You Did , Doing ,Will Do

Did Allah's knowledge about you forced you for any thing that you've tried to not do it , but you was forced about it ??

of course not !

Even That Allah knows what you are going to do , you -as a human- will not feel any thing different .. it's How Allah created us .. he knows , but that will not change you pure Will

Questions like this not likely to be asked in Islam , as they are something of "How Allah Created us" It's some thing that Humans Brains Barely Understand it (if they did)

I hope I've Explained some thing

  • 1
    I would need a reference of Quran that, rather than just explanation.
    – localhost
    Commented Jan 4, 2014 at 16:22
  • I suppose your friend request is a logically explanation more than Ayat or Hadith. Commented Jan 4, 2014 at 16:27

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