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The laws of Islam seem sufficiently detailed so as to preclude any possibility of "bad behavior," assuming that a person has made the "first choice" to follow Islam and live their life by the ways of Islam.

So how does choice fit into that equation? Is there enough latitude within the laws of Islam that a person can choose the shape of his or her life within the Islamic framework? Or does the framework itself more or less dictate the shape of one's life?

Note: I am not Muslim, so if you're going to quote scripture, please explain what that scripture means in layman's terms. Also note that I'm not looking simply for opinions, but also reasoning.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

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    Just to clarify and confirm: What choice are you talking about? Choice of religion? or About choices in daily life of muslims ? – Abdullah Jul 14 '12 at 17:59
  • In the first paragraph: "...assuming that a person has made the 'first choice' to follow Islam." Daily life choices, in other words. – Robert Harvey Jul 14 '12 at 23:00
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    It seems to me that "free will" is not really what you want to ask. Your questions seems more like "It seems that there are detailed rules for everything in every situation in Islam. Does this mean that the lives of every Muslim who follows Islam's rules will be similar? What is the role of personal decisions after one has decided to follow the rules of Islam?" The issue of "free will" is a separate issue that is debated among Muslim scholars for centuries. – Kaveh Jul 15 '12 at 22:29
  • @Kaveh: Which is essentially the same thing as "Do Muslims have free will?" – Robert Harvey Jul 15 '12 at 22:30
  • No, it is not. "Free will" is typically used for referring to whether everything is determined by God in a philosophical sense. You don't seem to be asking that but whether there are different ways of living as a Muslim after one decided to follow the rules of Islam. For example, a person can choose to stop following those rules. – Kaveh Jul 15 '12 at 22:32
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The islamic commandments can be divided into several categories in this aspect:

  • Obligatory: No scope of choice in Islam. These are- Fardh(mandatory/ implies greater obligation), Wajib(obligatory), Haram(strictly prohibited).
  • Recommended: Little scope of choice. Like- Sunnah(practices of our prophet, peace be upon him, and graetly recommended), Mustahab(recommended), Makhruh(abstaining is recommended).
  • Mubah or neither obligatory nor recommended- doing or abstaining. These are normally not included directly in commandments. Mubah is the status of all other actions.

Though the first two, specially the second covers a large area, there are many other things that fall in the last category which is done according to individual free will.

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The following is a rough outline (lacking details and several degrees in-between), just to give you a basic idea.

Islam is:

  • At zero degree, learning about Islam.
  • At first degree, fulfilling your servitude by obedience to all requirements set by your Lord. So that you may be free from everlasting Hell fire and enter Paradise.
  • At second degree, desiring entry to Paradise and working towards it (by doing good deeds). Here, you are trying to guarantee your reward.
  • At third degree, losing interest in the material world. Now you realize that what you gain here will stay here, so you focus on afterlife.
  • At fourth degree, working on your spiritual development and Enlightenment. Here you want to develop the one and only thing that you will carry with yourself to the afterlife: Divine Knowledge.
  • At fifth degree, becoming a good servant. Here all your actions are bounded by the love bond between you and your Creator. Everything you do is to strengthen this bond.
  • At sixth degree, realizing your servitude. Here you have realized that there is no free will; it is all His will. So you move with the flow willingly and submit completely.
  • At seventh degree, living as a true servant. So that what is expected of you (serving God as stated in Quran) is achieved and you are successful.

Every degree encompasses the others before it. So the more you enter Islam the more you lose from what you value now. But the real question is, "Do things you value are in fact worthy?" Knowledge makes difference by defining values. And what book may be more accurate on that than the book of God?

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    What is the source of this seven degrees (e.g who said it, how do we know)? Some references would be good. – user44 Jul 17 '12 at 17:31
  • @yasar11732 As I say at the beginning of the post, there are more than 7. In fact every Muslim is a degree of Islam, Muhammad (May Salat and Salam be upon him) being the highest. This is just a brief summary of changes in view of life of a person throughout his/her journey to the Truth as stated by various 'Kamil' (Perfect) men. – user73 Jul 17 '12 at 18:26
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Well yes, Islam does give you choices to make, for instance if you want to work as an employee instead of owning a business that is your choice. If you prefer to be a teacher instead of a physician that is your free will etc.
Up to four wives are allowed, but if you prefer to keep only one or none for that matter, chances are Islam is ok with that.
I think the most interesting one is about the death penalty i.e if someone close to you has been murdered by a person, you can either seek death penalty, make a financial arrangement, or simply forgive (it is a detailed topic I must warn).
However in some cases there are no choices when it comes to praying, fasting unless genuine health concerns are there.

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    Hi there, welcome to the site! We generally recommend for this site that people post some proofs (Qur'an, hadith, fatwa, etc.) to back up their claims. – ashes999 Jul 16 '12 at 15:09
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According to some sufist, one should give up his/her own will in order to fill your hearth with gods will. Here are some quotes from different writings of Rumi

If they ask what Love is,
say: the sacrifice of will.
If you have not left your will behind,
you have no will at all.

(Masnavi)

I am the lover of Love, and Love is my lover as well.
The body has become the lover of the soul, and the soul
the lover of the body.
Sometimes I embrace its neck with my two arms,
and sometimes it pulls me by the hem of my robe, like beloveds will

(Quatrain)

More info on Mevlevi Order.

PS: Tasawwuf is inner dimension of Islam. It is about your personal journey to reach God. Islam doesn't require you to give up your free will as long as you do your obligatory ibadah and stay away from unlawfull acts.

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