Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Speaking Tree Blog | September 19, 2022
The Quran sets forth the concept that God Almighty is the Lord of the Universe; He is the Sustainer and the Controller of the whole world. Man cannot do anything without God’s permission (76:30).
These Quranic verses lay emphasis on the supremacy of God Almighty.
But this does not mean that in this world everything is pre-determined and man has no choice of his own.
Everyone enjoys freedom and everyone is living with his or her freedom. The way one feels about what one does, or chooses not to do, is in itself testimony to there being no compulsion; everyone does as he or she pleases. In the light of one’s own experience, one feels oneself to be a free person. Human beings do, in fact, enjoy complete freedom, but this freedom is a matter of their own sense of free-will. It is everyone’s own feeling or experience that he or she is not living under any compulsion or constraints.
Then what is the equation between man and God? In this world everything was created by God, and if man wants to do anything, he needs many or all of the components of the human life support system, such as sunlight, water, air, minerals, oxygen, etc. All these things are part of the earthly infrastructure and this infrastructure is under the total control of God. So, while freedom of choice is man’s privilege, the required infrastructure is provided by God.
So, it is a fifty-fifty situation. Man has every right to think or plan but, when he tries to execute his planning, he has no other option than to use the divine infrastructure. In terms of free-will, he enjoys complete freedom, but in terms of infrastructure, he is completely under God’s command.
There are three categories of Muslim scholars, each of whom thinks differently on this subject—Qadriya, Jabriya and Wasatiya. Wasatiya scholars believe in the above equation, that is, in terms of intention and planning, man is completely free, but in terms of implementation or actualization, man has no freedom. He is compelled to find support from God.
According to the Quran, man is accountable before God. This means that this accountability is confined to his intention or free-will. His reward or punishment will be commensurate with his intention and his right or wrong exercise of free will.
The above equation is a completely rational one. Man enjoys free-will in the complete sense of the word, but he has no power to create an infrastructure such as the life-support system or any of the other things needed for the execution of his plans. So, God Almighty has provided him with everything that is required in a good infrastructure. Man has total liberty to exercise his free-will in exploiting this infrastructure and, in doing so, experiences no restriction whatsoever.
Man’s every action is being recorded by the angels of God and according to this record, a person will be either rewarded or punished on the Day of Judgement. As regards man’s accountability, only one criterion will apply: whether man exercised his freedom in a proper manner or he misused his freedom.