Predestination or free will?

By: A. Muhammad

We read in the Quran that every detail of our lives as well as everything that will ever take place in every corner of the universe is already recorded with God in the "Lawh al-mahfooz" (Preserved Tablet) from before the whole universe was created:

He is the Knower of the unseen. Not an atom's weight escapes Him, be it in the heavens or the earth, nor what is smaller than that or larger. All are but in a clear Record. 34:3

With Him are the keys to the unseen. None knows them except Him. He knows what is on land and in the sea. No leaf falls without Him knowing thereof, nor is there a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor anything wet or dry that is not recorded in a clear Book. 6:59

We have kept count of everything in a Record. 78:29

No disaster falls in the land, or to yours
elves that is not already contained in a Record before We bring it into existence. This is easy for God. 57:22

Many people interpret this as predestination in everything we do or that happens to us without us having any free will!
On first impression it may appear so, for it seems rational to state that anything that has been pre-recorded is already decided, so can we ever have the choice of changing it?
To analyse this issue we need to differentiate between two sets of events:


There are various aspects of our lives which are pre-recorded and which we do not have the power to change. Examples of these events are: Who are our parents? What country we are born in? What do we physically look like? What major illness's will we suffer during our lives? What personality do we have? What is the level of our intelligence? And so on. These aspects are all pre-destined by God and they are designed in such a way so as to constitute part of the test God ordained for each individual.


In contrast, all our deeds, choices in life and personal decisions are not pre-destined. They are pre-recorded by God but not pre-destined.
The question here is how can these matters be left to our own will when they are pre-recorded with God from even before our birth?

All a person's deeds and actions are not decided by what is recorded in the Preserved Tablet, rather, the deeds and actions are recorded in the Preserved Tablet because God already knows all occurrences without the restrictions of

The Time dimension is a bubble we live in and which was created when the universe was created (theory of relativity). For God, Creator of all things, there are no Time restrictions! God, Knower of the unseen, knows everything that happened in the past or will happen in what we call 'the future'.
This is the issue that confuses many people into thinking that there is no such thing as free will.

God knows exactly what every person will do (out of his/her free will) every second of their lives before the whole universe was created. It is we who chose to do everything we have done and it is we who made all the choices we made, but God already knows it and thus it is easy for God to have it all recorded.

It is not becoming of God, who is the Best Judge, to tell us that every person will be accountable to his/her own deeds, then hold us accountable to what we never had any control over! Rather, God holds us accountable to our deeds because it is we who made all the choices and deeds throughout our lives. It follows that God does not hold us accountable to matters which we have no control on.

God knows who among all humans will make good of their second chance (on earth) and who will fail to grasp the second chance (33:72). God knows that the vast majority will come to life on earth and leave without making any amends to their original sin. God also knows that a very small minority will make good of the second chance which God gave all humans. It is thus rational to think that God created this vast universe for the benefit of this very small minority who will be redeemed and admitted into God's mercy.