In Islam, it is a fundamental tenet of our belief that all people have been given free will to choose between the paths of right and wrong. Sometimes we stumble between the two, but eventually the true nature of our intentions will dominate and by the time of our death it will be quite clear, to ourselves at least, which path we have chosen.
|`This belief clearly beckons the question at hand: if God already knows what is to happen, then how can we have free will? How can we choose our own destiny? Are we merely actors in a play? Has our end already been decided? Has God created us as characters? For surely He knows all our characteristics and personalities, just as a writer knows about the characters he has imagined for his play.'
This belief furthers into the belief that God, as the Divine, knows which path each and everyone is to choose and how we will stumble or walk upon that path, even before we have learnt how to walk!
This belief clearly beckons the question at hand: if God already knows what is to happen, then how can we have free will? How can we choose our own destiny? Are we merely actors in a play? Has our end already been decided? Has God created us as characters? For surely He knows all our characteristics and personalities, just as a writer knows about the characters he has imagined for his play.
But the thing which strikes me about these arguments is that they are too logical or, rather, they are void of any adequate logic. These are perfectly logical and reasonable questions if we are thinking of a person writing a play. The problem with these arguments however is that these suppose God as just that, as a person.
God is not a person; He is the Real the cause which was not caused. To think of God as a person defies logic and so these arguments are not applicable.
In my attempt to answer those less convinced by the general thrust of the above argument, I use an analogy which makes clear that free will and the ability to choose our own destiny are mutually exclusive to the belief that our end is already determined.
I try to explain this by saying that, if someone were to invent a time-machine and travel to the future to examine in the fate of their best friend say, they would find out what would become of their best friend and how the end was reached. However, his knowledge of the events has not marred his friend's free will or his ability to choose his destiny. He has not been barred in anyway into choosing a fixed route; it is just that now, his time-traveller friend knows which route he will take.
Though to Muslims this explanation often holds little weight, as God the Exalted, has no need to travel back and forth in time machines in order to know about the fates of those He has created, it at least provides a way in which to see that these two ideas are mutually exclusive, and one is not invalidated by the existence of the other. Free will and the ability to choose our own destiny and God's knowledge of our ends are capable of existing simultaneously.
When examining the question in the context of Islam, we can presume that it all comes down to a matter of faith. If we have enough faith to believe God's promise of free will, you will try to form your own destiny. If, however, we lack faith, we will most likely let life pass by and not take the opportunities on offer, preferring
`destiny comes to you; you do not go to destiny.'
Well, it all depends on faith do we have enough?