Allow me to answer it in my own words. This is an original research.
The question of predestination and/or Predeterminism and it's various cousins, the one fixed time of death and the guaranteed rizq (food) notion in Islam, needs a closer look. I will leave the larger debate between free will and determinism or predestination and free will for others to bicker over but will bring it up when needed when focusing on the isolation of one recognizable event. I will also leave the nuances to others as to how Predestination implies Predeterminism, but not the other way around etc.
Let's see if we can settle this age-old argument through the verses of the Quran. At least for those who believe and/or have verified Quran as the very word of God. However, the conclusions will also contribute to the overall free will vs predestination debate. A bit long but please bear with me.
The key lies in the isolation of one or more elements and to follow their progress. After all, if everything is predetermined then the time of the death of each individual is also predetermined. When we take this universally recognized certainty, death, it can be shown that the free will arguments will trounce the one fixed fate any day, even after the introduction of quantum randomness into the debate. For starters, our free will is not absolute, we had no say in our birth. But now that we are here we must analyze how we work and everything around us works, hence the questions.
Everything starts with a premise (s) and ends up with a model. A model without God or a model with God. Almost all questions probing fundamental truths will circle back to free will and the issue of how much value must be attached to it. The part about God being omniscient can be explained in different ways; although it is a bit presumptuous to try and explain the possibilities of what God is capable of but we humans love to offer explanations. Besides ejecting the time dimension from the equation, one possible answer is Processing Power, a supercomputer is able to keep track of billions of variables, process their interaction and finally predict outcomes, God can do it infinitely better. This is one way to explain how God knows our future or the future
Similarly, the notion of God knowing and at the same time we being responsible for our actions is pretty straightforward. Given God's infinite powers, it is easy for God to know every single permutation of our actions. In fact it is easy for God to even know which one of the various permutation on offer we are going to go for and it being written down, that is every different version of it or the one that we will ultimately choose, does not change the fact that we will still be responsible for choosing the one out of the almost infinite number of permutations and the resulting outcome. Any other way and the value of free will (even if it is not 100% free) and in turn, our own existence will be reduced to exactly zero. God says He did not create us uselessly (عَبَثًا).
It is clear that God's reality is separate from our reality. We make our own way with the help of God-given faculties. God's knowing should never be confused with our "predestination." This patently un-Islamic notion is a very useful tool for those hellbent on subjugating the Ummah. It is a catch-all fallback for corrupt and incompetent rulers who can blame their incompetence and everything else on God. The notion has always proved very useful for brainwashing and then sending soldiers on suicide missions. The non-state actors of late have grabbed it with both hands and run amok with it. The resulting mayhem is there for all to see.
As I said, the objective of this write-up is to approach the debate from an Islamic (Quranic) perspective and try to determine if the "fixed" time of death, one fixed time and the related guaranteed rizq notion, essentially another way of fixing the time of death, have any merit. Both from an individual's perspective and a nation as a whole. In the case of nations, the individual life spans take a back seat but even then we have examples in the Quran where a party escapes the fate of the rest of the community. Once again let us leave out the larger fixed fate aspect of the discussion because God clearly says our fate is in our own hands. So either it is or it is not. Quran 2:195, 42:30, 8:51,3:182, 42:48
If one were to sit down and think this through, the Quranic term Qadir, around which the notion revolves, is not a difficult concept at all, in spite of the seemingly contradictory elements, one may encounter at first. With all due respect to those with a different understanding, allow me to very briefly comment on the sectarian-driven predestination as a whole. How is creation, in a certain measure (قدر) translates into predestination? If it is then we will have to ignore the use of the word over a hundred times in the Quran in different contexts, including a "saucepan" or "large pot" in order to mean it to be "predestination". Clearly, an alien notion which was deliberately slipped into the narrative and even in the later day dictionaries by the usual suspects. If God wanted us to know everything is predestined then true to the nature of God He would have said "everything in your lives are predestined", perhaps with the use of words like"Jabr (جبر) or even مسبق or مصير.
If everything was predetermined, there is a good chance somebody would have figured out the future by now
How does all this fit into our reality? One sure sign is that there is no absolute destiny that can be deduced from the large discrepancies found in the distribution of our experiences. Why do people in Okinawa for instance, a relatively tiny geographical area, live to be hundred in their hundreds, while lifespan in much larger geographical areas drops more than half of that. Why is the infant mortality high in Angola and not in Denmark?
When we compare factors like vaccinations or advancement in medicine as a whole, water treatment, waste management, general sanitation, we find a very strong cause and effect strings in play. Similarly, why is it that over 200,000 people died in Haiti's earthquake but only a few hundred in Chile where the earth quick was even more severe. Not only that but in the same geographic location, more people died previously when the building code was not enforced aggressively. Why would destiny be tied to man-made building code or the quality of the first responders and/or medical aid? I know the determinist could argue it was all destined that way in the general notion of predestination but the interaction of variables draw a different picture. And in the Islamic perspective, it makes even less sense. That leaves us to focus on the specific notion of a fixed time of death and food resources associated with it. In doing so we will see that predestination of an isolated element is not possible without dragging in all the other related elements around it to make it work, if at all.
Before strengthening my case, let us first quickly familiarize ourselves with some stats, there will be some variations in the estimates but since we will be comparing very small numbers to very large numbers the difference will have minimal effect on our conclusions. Of course, it is always advisable to verify the numbers for yourself but the idea is to present everything in one place so that we can focus on the arguments based on them.
Aggregated death and birth rates from around the world, 2013 data:
131.4 million births per year
55.3 million people die each year
360,000 births per day
151,600 people die each day
15,000 births each hour
6,316 people die each hour
250 births each minute
105 people die each minute
Four births each second of every day Nearly two people die each second
Average life expectancy at birth is approximately 67 years. Sources: Population Reference Bureau & The World Factbook (Central Intelligence Agency)
Population Estimates in millions: Year 1940 through 2020 A.D in order to normalize the perspective
1940 AD -2,300
1950 AD -2,557
1960 AD -3,042
1970 AD -3,712
1980 AD -4,453
1990 AD -5,291
2000 AD -6,094
2010 AD -6,868
2020 AD -7,656
"The under-5 mortality rate is the number of children who die by the age of five, per thousand live births per year. In 2013, the world average was 46 (4.6%), down from 90 (9.0%) in 1990.The average was 6 in developed countries and 50 in developing countries, including 92 in Sub-Saharan Africa. The highest rate in the world was 167, in Angola. Likewise, there are disparities between wealthy and poor households in both the developing countries and the developed ones. According to a Save the Children paper, children from the poorest households in India are three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than those from the richest households. Please go here to see the how the trends have been affected by active programs to influence the outcome."
The number of total casualties has been estimated at various times since the bombings with wide discrepancies. The Manhattan Engineer District's best available figures are:
TABLE A: Estimates of Casualties
Pre-raid population - 255,000 - 195,000
Dead - 66,000 - 39,000
Injured - 69,000 - 25,000
Total Casualties - 135,000 - 64,000
The relation of total casualties to distance from X, the center of damage and point directly under the air-burst explosion of the bomb, is of great importance in evaluating the casualty-producing effect of the bombs. This relationship for the total population of Nagasaki is shown in the table below, based on the first-obtained casualty figures of the District:
TABLE B: Relation of Total Casualties to Distance from X
Distance from X,
Feet Killed Injured Missing Total Casualties Killed per square mile
0 - 1,640 7,505 960 1,127 9,592 24,7OO
1,640-3,300 3,688 1,478 1,799 6,965 4,040
3,300-4,900 8,678 17,137 3,597 29,412 5,710
4,900-6,550 221 11,958 28 12,207 125
6,550-9,850 112 9,460 17 9,589 20
So let us see now. The argument often given is that if a given person had not died because of abc cause they would have died of xyz cause. Fair enough this argument seems to work for individual cases. Especially when these incidences are distributed over different geographical areas and time-lines in a normalized pattern. But it doesn't work for large numbers in a very small geographical area in a given instant of time.
And that is a huge problem because it is near impossible to reconcile all the events surrounding the instant of death (s).
When was the last time we heard that 220,000 people died in their sleep at 3:31 am on a given night in New York or Mumbai? Never is the answer. The world average per minute death is 105 worldwide or just two per second. In 1945 it was around one per second in the entire world. In order to mirror the death of 66,000 people, over 10,000 of which in the space of a few seconds when the atom bomb was dropped in Japan, we must be able to identify similar numbers dying in their sleep or simply dropping dead in a given geographical area, without a natural disaster or a man-made catastrophe at least once, Needless to say not even close.
Let us put up some more numbers to see how far we are. The population of Hiroshima in 1945 was estimated to be 255,000. Almost 26% of the entire population died in one go. The population of Hiroshima today is over 1,100,000 inhabitants. The death rate is around 1% over a year. reducing it to that one fateful hour even, let alone seconds will give us a grand number of 1.2 people dying on an average day within a period of one hour. That gap in percentage terms is computationally insignificant and not worth a look even. BTW which has been the running average for the last 50 years. The 66,000 deaths were never repeated in the entire city of Hiroshima and not just restricted to those few square miles, since then. In fact, the 66,000 deaths within a very short period were never repeated in any city with either more than or less than 255,000 inhabitants anywhere in the world, ever.
For tens of thousands of deaths to occur in a predetermined way, God would then also had to decree all those exact people to move to those few square miles patch within Hiroshima and those not decreed to die move out of that area, far far out and just like that we are not only talking about the time of death but the movement of people, the unfinished food on their plates, the transportation means to get to a designated place, the interaction between hundreds of thousands of people required to achieve it, in short, the suspension of free will of an entire city and by extension, the very act of dropping the atomic bomb as a predetermined event will have to be introduced for it to make any sense.
Which if true, needless to say, will be in direct contradiction to the several verses where God not only assures us that He neither changes His laws nor takes our destiny out of our hands. Granted God in His infinite mercy does interfere but He has attached defined constraints to such interventions. Angels are sent to aid in our struggles and even individuals are assigned tasks to perform. The servant of God who was accompanied by Moses in the Quran is a clear example. In addition, we are supposed to ask for God's help or then there is the case when God finds an entire nation gone past the point of no return destroyed etc
In the case of child mortality, the scenario becomes even more baffling. We can easily show the improbability of events with much smaller numbers. When was the last time even a hundred healthy three-year-olds just dropped dead one afternoon in Paris for no apparent reason, again, never. When was the last time even a dozen newly born healthy babies died within a few minutes of each other in Stockholm, again, never. And then there that distinction made between those who die and those being killed in the Quran. In the case of stillbirth which one is it? Furthermore, since Angel (s) of death is supposed to inform us at the time of death as to our likely destination Quran 16:32 and Quran 47:27 based on what we used to do, what is the Angel supposed to say to a stillborn baby?
We don't need to fret over all this and we certainly don't need to assume that God needs a man-made event or is dependent on our degree of preparedness for natural disasters to cause someone to die, We don't need to because God has actually explained how it all works in a number of verses and once the time of death issue is resolved the accompanying fixed rizq resolves itself.
First, let us think through the argument against the concentration of people in a given geographical location where the risk of death is either too high or too low. According to the Quran, in both cases, it is also in our hands to decide as opposed to God pulling the strings as to where we must live to avoid risk. Actually, we are free both to emigrate away from danger or go head first into danger.
Indeed, those whom - take them (n death) the Angels (while) they (were) wronging themselves they say, "In what (condition) were you?" They said, "We were oppressed in the They said, "Not was (the) earth (of) Allah spacious (enough) so that you (could) emigrate in it?" Then those (will have) their abode (in) Hell - and it is an evil destination. Quran 4:97
The above verse makes it obligatory on those with means to move away from danger. Not only that but the following verse rewards us for doing so. In the verse, God is actually telling us that by moving away from a place of torment God will reward us, in this world and in the hereafter, the aim seems to be to protect us from harm and possible immature death.
And those who emigrated in (the way) (of) Allah after [what] they were wronged, surely We will give them position in the world good, but surely the reward (of) the Hereafter (is) greater, if they know. Quran 16:41
Now let us focus on the distinction of just to die or be killed. Remember God only talks about the time of our death decreed when we die and not us being killed.
And if you die or are killed, surely to Allah you will be gathered. Quran 3:158
Notice the distinction made between dying and be killed in the verse above.
In fact, not even the messenger of God is spared from the possibility of being killed
And not (is) Muhammad - except a Messenger, certainly passed away before him [the] (other) Messengers. So if he died or is slain will you turn back on your heels? And whoever turns back on his heels then never will he harm Allah (in) anything. And Allah will reward the grateful ones. Quran 3:144
And this fits into the narrative, God has detailed the normal life cycle based on our general development and medical science and has in fact drawn our attention to its various stages, not only that but has informed us of the age of maturity to be around forty years. But here is the biggest clue that let us in on the way our life term is determined, in fact, it opens the possibility that it happens every night or every time we lose consciousness. I will post a few translations and recommend that you look up the original Arabic of verse 39:42 to get a better sense of what it means:
Quran 39:42 a few translations Allah takes the souls (at the) time (of) their death, and the one who (does) not die in their sleep. Then He keeps the one whom, He has decreed for them the death, and sends the others for a term specified. Indeed, in that surely (are) signs for a people who ponder.
It is God [alone that has this power - He] who causes all human beings to die at the time of their [bodily] death, and [causes to be as dead], during their sleep, those that have not yet died: thus, He withholds [from life] those upon whom He has decreed death, and lets the others go free for a term set [by Him]. In [all] this, behold, there are messages indeed for people who think!
Allah takes up the selves at the time of their death and the ones which have not died, in their sleeping. Then He holds back the ones against which He has decreed death, and sends (forth) the others till a stated term. Surely in that are indeed signs for a people who meditate.
The later of the three is more accurate because the word used is (الْأَنْفُسَ) and not Soul (روح). Correct me if I am wrong but nowhere is death associated with the Soul in the Quran.
Once again in Quran verse 6:60 the same thing is repeated but with another qualifier,
Quran 6:60 a few translations
And He it is who causes you to be [like] dead at night, and knows what you work in daytime; and He brings you back to life each day in order that a term set [by Him] be fulfilled. In the end, unto Him you must return: and then He will make you understand all that you were doing [in life].
And He (is) the One Who takes your (soul) by the night and He knows what you committed by the day. Then He raises you up therein, so that is fulfilled (the) term specified. Then to Him will be your return then He will inform you about what you used to do.
And He is (The One) Who takes you up by night, and He knows whatever you indulge in by daytime; thereafter He makes you rise again therein that a stated term may be decreed; thereafter to Him will be your return; thereafter He will fully inform you of whatever you were doing.
We have to count ourselves, those who take Quran to be the very word of God, fortunate to be able to take advantage of the inductive truths found in it. If one were to debate the issue at hand even without these truths then the only logical conclusion will have to be a free-willed individual in action. The reason for that is pretty straightforward and pointed out by many commentators when we claim to be making a truth statement, either way, we rise above the determinist reality and become a free-willed one, thus violating determinism.
The only verse, if not properly rendered that could have pointed us towards a specific place of death and hence in the introduction of yet another predetermined event would have been Quran 3:154. But on closer scrutiny we find it syncs perfectly with the verses above where the death other than being killed happens during a state of sleep. Quran 39:42 and 6:60. In this case, death could come in as a result of the nafs not returned to the person causing death. Furthermore, Quran 4:78 points to the fact that place is irrelevant.
Now notice in the verse below how the sectarians have managed to distort even the literal translation. by introducing the notion of a place of death which is to be reached by leaving the houses. The Arabic text of course points squarely to a bed and/or a place where one would normally go to sleep, literally their beds (مَضَاجِعِهِمْ). Fortunately, some translators did get it right and in other translations, even the literal ones, the wrong insertions reflect the sectarian angle.
Quran 3:154 a few translations
Literal: Then He sent down upon you after the distress security - slumber overcoming a group of you, while a group certainly worried [them] (about) themselves thinking about Allah other than the truth - (the) thought (of) [the] ignorance. saying, "Is (there) for us from the matter any thing?" Say, "Indeed the matter all (of) it (is) for Allah." They hide in themselves what not they reveal to you, They say, "If was for us from the matter anything not we would have been killed here." Say, "If you were in your houses, surely (would have) come out those who - was decreed upon them [the] death towards their places of death. And that Allah might test what (is) in your breasts and that He may purge what (is) in your hearts. And Allah (is) All-Aware of what (is in) the breasts.
Muhammad Mahmoud Ghali: Thereafter He sent down upon you, even after suffering, secure (reassurance), a drowsiness enveloping a section of you; and a section already (became) anxious, surmising other than the truth about Allah, the surmise (s) of (pagan) ignorance. They say, "Have we anything to do with the Command?" Say, "Surely the Command is entirely to Allah." They conceal within themselves what they do not display to you; they say, "If we had had anything to do with the Command, we would not have been killed here now." Say, "If you had been in your homes, the ones for whom killing was prescribed would indeed have gone forth to their recumbencies." And that (is so that) Allah might try whatever was in your breasts, and that He might prove whatever is in your hearts; and Allah is Ever-Knowing of whatever is within the breasts (Literally: what the breasts own). Let us examine the following verse.
Quran 6:60 a few translations
Literal: And He (is) the One Who takes your (soul) by the night and He knows what you committed by the day. Then He raises you up therein, so that is fulfilled (the) term specified. Then to Him will be your return then He will inform you about what you used to do.
Muhammad Mahmoud Ghali: And He is (The One) Who takes you up by night, and He knows whatever you indulge in by daytime; thereafter He makes you rise again therein that a stated term may be decreed; thereafter to Him will be your return; thereafter He will fully inform you of whatever you were doing.
The mention of what we were up to during the day in the later verse points to a timeline of the issuing of the decree to possibly less than a 24-hour cycle. And it would make sense. God gives us every opportunity to preserve our body in such a state that it can support life. It is not the time of death which is in focus but the extension of life by continuous decrees. At the same time, God reminds us in Quran 56:60 that death is ever present among us. Here the word used is the all-inclusive (مَوْت), irrespective of how it may happen and in the case of getting killed could be at any time. One may be killed because of God's decree as was the case in the story of Moses or due to natural or man-made disasters/accidents or another animal or human may kill him or her. Yes, granted we don't know the full extent of the variables at play but all the above facts take us away from the one fixed time of death or indeed a particular place of death.
And then there is this:
Quran 6:2 He (is) the One Who created you from clay then He decreed a term - and a term specified with Him, yet you doubt.
This obviously has more to do with giving us a heads up that the clay's ability to hold form is finite and that only God knows the true terms of its utility. God has mentioned that Noah lived to be 950 years, so we have a long way to go but it is clear that our ever increasing life expectancy have an upper limit, known only to God.
In light of the easily observable data, the very premise of determinism without the God model falls apart. These patterns can only be influenced by either man's intervention or God's intervention. The discrepancy of a large number of deaths occurring only when accompanied by a disaster, especially man-made disasters, in a relatively tiny geographical area, points to the fact that it is other than random cause and effect. Besides doing away with the position that choice is not an effect, the biggest argument propping determinism, the pattern of directed causes brings the whole thing crashing down. From an Islamic perspective, it makes it impossible to argue for an isolated prefixed time of death while at the same time leaving all the other events surrounding it to remain free will based.
I apologize for the post being a bit ranty but the conclusion for anyone who believes that Quran is the very word of God should be clear. As for those who don't believe in God, some food for thought. For me it comes down to this, determinism and God are mutually exclusive. Determinism with God in the mix doesn't add up. Prefixing the time of death in isolation doesn't add up.
If anyone of you has a better argument where one can isolate the time of death from other deterministic events, please let's hear it, I am all ears :)