Taqdir (predestination) forms part of the fundamental beliefs of Islam. This is the sixth article of faith. Taqdir in Arabic is also called Al-Qadha-o-al Qadr, which means to “measure out” or “pre-ordering.”
Taqdir means belief in God’s having, for all eternity, predetermined and decreed all things, good as well as bad. Nothing can happen of itself in the world, whether good or evil. God has created this universe with His power, His knowledge, His wisdom and His will and has set a certain course for it. Then He has ordained a law, which may be called the law of nature, for the physical, animal and human world, and for everything else in this universe.
The Quran says:
“The Lord has created and balanced all things and has fixed their destinies and guided them.” (87:2)
Nothing can befall us but what God has destined for us.
“We have created all things according to a fixed decree.” (54:49)
For all of His creation God has set a course to follow. Nothing can deviate from the path set by God. In this respect the movements of the sun and moon, the stars and planets, the rotation of the earth, the laws of cause and effect working behind the growth and function of all natural phenomena, the existence of all living creatures including human beings, their life and death—all are governed by natural laws. In religious terminology this is the divine taqdir.
The belief in taqdir is to acknowledge that God’s power is limitless. His Decree is eternal. No one can obstruct the fulfillment of His decrees. His knowledge is eternal. That is, whatever happens, is happening, or is to happen in future, does so with the prior knowledge of God. Nothing pertaining to the past, present or future is concealed from His view. He is abreast of all the minutest details of this universe. Everything that has been or will be depends entirely on His foreknowledge and sovereign will.
There is some misunderstanding about this belief in taqdir. There are certain people who believe that man is totally helpless. This is not true. There is no doubt about it that it is what God decrees, which takes place. No one can change His taqdir. But it is also true that man has been granted wisdom, freedom and will power by God. This is quite exceptional, for none of the other entities in the universe have been granted any free will; they have to follow the path set for them by God. But the case of man is different. He has been given the power of discrimination between good and bad. Then he has also been granted the freedom to choose one course over another. For instance, according to Islam, just as disease is a taqdir of God, so is its remedy. Therefore, if one falls ill, he may counter it with the other taqdir of God, that is, he may take medicine for it. Similarly, both good and evil are God’s taqdir. Now man has the freedom to opt for whatever taqdir he thinks fit.