Free Will - Predestination
Preface and Comparison with the Bible
One subject that the Bible and the Qur'an have in common is that of free will and predestination. The Bible clearly presents both the responsibility of people to believe and the fact that no one can believe without the inspiration and initiation of God (John 6:35-51). It is a paradox with which Christian theologians have wrestled for centuries. Some scholars find ample support in the Bible for a “free will” stand on the issue, while others believe the Bible clearly teaches God’s sovereignty over all things, including salvation. Still others believe the Bible presents these truths as existing simultaneously in a relationship that can only be fully understood by God.
Since the Qur'an was recorded hundreds of years after the Holy Scriptures, it naturally echoes many themes of the Bible and the paradox between “choose” and “chosen” exists in that text as well. In comparison, the Qur'an verses are more extreme than their Biblical counterparts in their bold contrast. The Qur'an verses on the responsibility of people to decide are very emphatic, while the verses for Allah’s control over who believes and who does not believe are also stated strongly.
Christians are used to taking such paradoxes in the same spirit that they view the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. They believe that some truths are beyond understanding because God’s ways are higher than our limited comprehension. Many Muslims, however, struggle with this paradox of free will and predestination. A Muslim reading this collection of twenty-six verses might have a real conflict of faith because they believe everything taught in the Qur'an must be completely logical. They believe the same “logical” standards are innate in all people, which gives them an additional reason to reject the Holy Trinity, but they are left with this illogical yet divine paradox of free will and predestination.
The Qur'an Says ...
DecisionsThe Qur'an is a warning to all men: to those who have the will to walk straight or upright, yet no one can decide to do so except the ones who are given that ability by Allah (81:27-29, 76:29-30).
The TestMan was created from a drop of semen for the purpose of being tested. He is given sight, hearing and instructions to see whether he will be grateful and go to paradise. In paradise there will be drinking of wine flowing from a constant fountain while in Hell there will be chains, harnesses and blazing fire (76:2-6).
GuidanceAllah guides whom he pleases to the straight way (10:25). Allah decides who will be left to stray and who will be guided (35:8). Allah opens or hardens hearts to Islam (39:18-22). He gives some little and others much (39:52).
FaithNo one can have faith unless Allah gives him permission. Allah will severely punish those who do not have the sense to believe (10:100).
Ordained MisfortuneAllah decrees ahead of time every bad thing that happens to the earth or individuals (57:22).
Control over All CreaturesThere is not a living creature whose hair is not in the grasp of Allah (11:56).
Created for HellWhomever Allah guides follows the right way and whoever he causes to be led astray will be the losers. Many men and genies are already created for Hell (7:178,179).
Allah Causes ErrorIt is impossible for a person to correct those who Allah has caused to be in error (4:88).
Personal ResponsibilityThose who reject Allah’s communications are deaf and dumb. They are in utter darkness. Allah misleads some and puts others on the right way (6:39). Apostles give good news and warnings to mankind. Those who believe and mend their ways will have nothing to fear and not regret. But those who deny Allah’s revelations will be punished for their sins (6:48,49).
Evil Leaders Placed and PunishedAllah has placed evil leaders in every town who plot evil. Soon they will be punished for their evil plans (6:123, 124).
Fill HellIf Allah had willed he could have given everyone true guidance, but the word of Allah is that he will fill Hell with men and genies (32:13, 11:119, 7:18).