Thursday, June 3, 2010

Does takdir mean "destined" or "predicted"? - I dont know!

If you were to listen to any Muslims (ustaz, politicians and just about anyone) speak publicly, very likely you will hear them end their speech by saying “segala yang baik itu dari Allah, dan yang buruk dari kelemahan diri saya sendiri” , or which basically means that all that's good is from God meanwhile anything bad/less good is my own doing. I am not quite sure I fully understand this…well actually, I am not fully sure I can agree with this. Why do we pick and choose…its either everything good and bad is from God, or everything good and bad is your own doing. Now before you shoot me down or accuse me of being un-Islamic or anything else for that matter, just hear me out. If you say that the good is from God, then even the bad should be from God….but that does not mean to say that God is bad…it just means that God has given you good as well as bad…hence why we are not perfect human beings…we are allowed to be imperfect. Right? No? Do correct me if my logic is amiss… I am just thinking out loud and would be happy to be corrected if I am wrong…

I have been thinking about this for a bit now, and somehow my thinking led me to the idea of fate/destiny..basically “takdir”. What does takdir actually mean? What is the concept of fate?… I have been brought up to understand takdir to mean that our entire path in this life has already been pre-determined by God. So does this mean that everything I do or say has already been pre-determined? To what extent are my actions pre-determined? Do I still have control over what I say and do ? Or maybe fate is not about being pre-determined..maybe it is about being I don’t know…So if i am writing this article now, is this my voluntary action (predicted), or is it an action that I have been set to do (pre-determined)?

Somehow I feel that takdir is not about being is more about being predicted. It should not be about being pre-determined because what being pre-determined says is that I don't have control over my actions. And if I don't have control over my actions, then why should I get penalized on judgment day? No? I think, and I may be wrong here, that takdir is about being predicted. So I have control over my actions, and my action is a result of my own doing…but whatever I do, God knew I would do it. Possible? No?

But I have heard many people saying that takdir is about ketentuan Allah..i.e. destined (I prefer the word pre-determined). Hhmm…I think things that are beyond our control, i.e. the bigger picture is ketentuan Allah. For example, if I were to suddenly jump off the building, then that's my own action (and God knew I would do it). But if a plane hijacked by a terrorist suddenly flew into my building killing me, then I am destined (pre-determined) to die in such manner…but the actions of the terrorists are his own actions (and God knew he would do it and he shall be judged for that!).

I think this is fundamental. If we say that takdir is about being predetermined, then a Muslim is a Muslim because he is destined to be one, meanwhile a non-Muslim is a non-Muslim because he is destined to be one. And I think that is not right. God is fair. I don't think God would punish you for something you have no say or control over. You are a Muslim because you chose to be one, and you are a non-Muslim also because chose not to be one. And you shall be judged for that. No? So if you are born a Muslim (like myself and many other Muslims in the world), it does not necessarily make you a Muslim. Because if it is automatic as such, then that is again destiny. You have to want to be a Muslim to be a Muslim. It must be a conscious decision. And you have to do what a Muslim is supposed to do to be a Muslim. And don't ask me what that is, because I am still trying to understand how you define Islam and what it takes to be one.

What I have written so far is what I think. I admit I have yet to go through the Quran in detail to find the answers. It may be explicitly explained in the Quran and what I say may be a complete nonsense. And if so, please do correct me. I am learning and I still have too many unanswered questions.


  1. Ive had the exact same query about this matter. I always wondered, whatever we do, who ever we turn out to be, whatever religion we practice, it has all been "pre-determined". So, for example, if we kill someone, logically speaking, God has destined that we carry out that particular act. Or if we were to preach about religion in an effort to convert a fellow non-Muslim, if its already meant to be that he would never ever convert, he would never convert! Hence, why would God judge us over something that God himself pre-determined? That's how a logical mind would conclude. Theoretically, this is true. Well atleast according to me lah!

    When i asked my friend (he's quite well versed in religion), he seems to think that we, as humans, can't begin to fathom the logical reasoning behind God's action. (But that doesn't mean we stop trying at all). According to him, we can't put ourselves in God's place, and try to come up with logical reasons and justifications as to why it is what it is.

    While I am a bit skeptical with this explanation, I myself cant seem to come up with another one. To me, it doesnt really make a difference if God has pre-determined or predicted our actions. Why? Assuming God pre-determines, why would God pre-determine that Mona Fendi would become a killer? Why would God pre-determine Kalimuthu's destiny? Why would God selectively decide that these two are condemned to be bad people. Now, assuming God predicts (I'm not too sure what you actually mean by predict, but nevertheless..). He has given us intelligent minds to think and act on our own behalf. Instead, why would God not make us all perfect human beings who don't do wrong at all? Why wouldn't God make this world a happy place? After all, at the end of the day, everyone gets to enjoy being in heaven for all eternity. Why would God allow human beings to err ever so severely? For what purpose? To decide who would be rewarded lavishly and who would be punished? Why? Wouldn't it be a whole lot easier for everyone to just live a happy life in heaven?

    I may be severely wrong in my reasonings, but personally, I think there is some truth to what my friend said, although, I can't seem to justify it logically. Do correct me.

  2. aku pernah tanya soalan yg sama pada bapak aku masa aku darjah darjah sekolah agama. sebenarnya baik dan buruk memang dari Allah, Allah yg cipta, tp itu sebagai ayat drpd seorang manusia yg zuhud, yg menginsafi diri, dan merendah diri. itu je.

  3. farid. when i say predict, what i meant was God allows us to think and decide our own actions...but even before we decided, God knew what our decisions and actions would be. That was what i mean by predict...maybe wrong choice of word..maybe better to say that God knows...! Somehow your friend's explanation is the usual explanation i get from people...but i dont know if that is satisfactory. i am not trying to put logic into everything, but i believe that your actions will determine what you get in the hereafter. You control your actions, but the success of your actions will obviously depend on so many other external factors that are beyond your control. The come together of these factors and your success is God'd will. For example, a car is a complete system to take you from one place to another and it depends on so many things to work together for it to be useful. So if the engine works fine, but the fuel is wrong then it would still not work. Someone has to put it all together and make sure it falls into place perfectly for things to work. Same thing with life. For example the recent Gaza incident. You have many volunteers to deliver aid to Gaza. Some gave money, some gave food and some volunteered to go there. The ship was working. The fuel they used were ok etc. But then they failed because of the Israeli attack. That is an external factor. External to the volunteers so they have no control over it. But it is not external to the Israelis, so they have control over it. In this example, the volunteers were unsuccessful because things didnt go as plan, i.e. their fate. But for the Israelis, their actions are not fate..their actions are due to their own ignorance. fair?

  4. syimi, tapi bukan lagi merendah diri ker kalau kite cakap sume benda datangnya dari Allah..i.e. we are Allah's creation..we are at his mercy? no?

  5. Yup, what you said is true. Our actions would indeed be judged in the hereafter because we get to choose our own fate and destiny, since we are intelligent beings. God, however, already knows what choices we make, which is kind of what my query (i assume yours too) has always been, the "why" behind everything. I am uncertain if we can apply logic to all aspects of religion. The "why" would go on endlessly. We may try, in fact we should try to comprehend the reasoning behind everything and not just be blind followers, and if we are lucky enough, or critical enough, we may be able to justify certain matters. But again, the question of "why" may never be 100% fulfilled.

    My theory of the "2 R's" may apply. Logic may be applied and fully utilized to every single matter or issue that we face, and logic+common sense would most definitely prevail, with the exception of the "2 R's". Religion and Relationship. Agree? =)

  6. depends on perception.

    katalah aku mencuri,dan akhirnya aku rase menyesal dan bertaubat,aku takkan cakap aku mencuri disebabkan ALLAH yang dah cipta sifat mencuri tu, so aku kena mencuri. Sebaliknya aku akan salahkan diri, bahawa aku yang pilih nak mencuri sbb pentingkan diri.

    Tapi kalo aku masih tak sedar yang aku suka mencuri, aku akan cakap ALLAH yang takdirkan aku mencuri dan aku tade mata pencarian lain, so Allah yang dah cipta aku memang akan jadi pencuri selama-lamanya.

    No difference at all?

  7. aku pernah pikir pasal ayat "yg baik tu dari Allah & yg buruk itu kelemahan saya sendiri".I believe the sentence is correct for my own belive. Aku percaya all of us are given choice. Takdir just matter when we don't have choice. And somehow takdir is what Allah control which kita x leh control. Kalau mencuri, ko yg mencuri.. so you do your own choice. Itu bukan takdir. And aku percaya takdir yg Allah kasik kat kita is always the best for us. Ini bukan saja2 cakap but base on my observation in my life. Sometimes it seems to be ugly... but if you takes some minutes not thinking only your obssession, you will always find something beauty behind it. It more beauty than the sadness of having that "fate". So the first sentence " Yang baik itu dari Allah": is fate. While yg buruk itu dari kita is our own choice who always being shadow by selfishness & nafsu. When we want to do bad thing, aku rasa Allah memang tahu our inner struggle between good & evil and he know how each choice will end up... but we are the one WHO make the choice. He might want to help us by giving some hint around us to choose correctly with the hope our heart will weight at good but still the choice is ours.

  8. Melloyz- exactly! i share your views! takdir is when you have no control over things. When you have control, then its your action. For example, if i were to steal, then it is my conscious decision, and therefore my own fault and hence i should be judged. If i am hardworking then it is my conscious decision to work hard which will also be judged in the hereafter. But if i am a genius because of my genes, then it is not my conscious decision and that is fate because it is something God has given me! (contoh je lar..i am no genius!)

    Another example. If i were to study really really hard for my exams, then it is my voluntary actions. My mental ability to learn and my physical strength to walk to the library is given by God (i.e. takdir). If i fail because somehow the lecturer didnt like me and wanted to fail me, then it is takdir that i fail. But for the lecturer to fail me on purpose is his voluntary action which he shall be judged. So in a sequence of events involving lots of people, for some it may turn out to be takdir (because you have no control), but for some it is your own voluntary actions. If you do bad unto others, then others may do bad unto you too.

  9. Syimi- i agree that mencuri is our own action. So in your view, if kelemahan (contohnye mencuri) tu datang dari diri sendiri, mana datangnye kebaikan (contohnye rajin membaca, or peramah or suka menolong orang)? See my comment to Melloyz above for my views on this.

  10. Salam to everyone,

    Very interesting discussions.

    Determinism versus Free Choice is one of the many topics that has been debated from time immemorial up to now and I am sure in the future so long as people have the "religious mindset" in the typical sense. Religion by definition will beget such questions and there are plenty of views, even in the "Islamic" scholarly world.

    I, too have my views which I believe comes from my understanding of the Quran, but I just want to share these:

    a) We read the Al-fatihah 17 times everyday when we pray.

    b) In the Al-fatihah, 17 times per day, we beseech Allah "Ihdinas-siratul-mustakeem". "Show me the straight path". This is a request to God. When we keep asking that question, do we mean it? If we do mean it, arent we supposed to make the EFFORT to find out the answer?

    b) Also in the Al-fatihah, we say :

    "(i) The Way of those on whom you have bestowed your Grace, (ii) not (the way) of those who earned your anger, (iii)nor of those who went astray."

    Clearly 3 classes of people are mentioned. Surely if God intends us to say about these 3 classes of people, he must have given examples of these 3 types of people in the very Quran where Al-Fatihah appears. Have we ever taken the trouble to identify these "models" in the Quran. Who are they? Why are they what they became? If we are given 3 "models" and one role model to follow, does that not imply a choice that can be made? Otherwise, why would we need guidance if we cannot be guided?

    On another note: are we the completely helpless rat with no choice or the completely free rat?

    OR are we the rat in the predetermined maze that has three exits and we are supposed to find the way to THAT one right exit? The rats in the maze will think they are completely free when they are free within the constraints of the maze.

    Outside the contsraints of "religious thinking" (which is by definition restrictive and inhibitive)and with the guidance of the Quran (which liberates the intellect), it is possible to think scientifically.

    Scientifically, we know that ice freezes and water boils at certain temp. We know ice has the sensation of cold, and fire the sensation of heat. Each matter or "groups" of matter acts according to its own charasterictics or disposition as the Quran states clearly. You do not ask why a leopard has spots or why a tree does not walk. Those are thier nature.

    Scientifically and Quranically, that question does not arise. religiously, it does because religion is the realm of speculation, Quran is not.

    On the question of "what is from God", surely when we say that GOd is the creator of all, we mean ALL - irrespective of OUR perception or values that say it is good or bad. That does not necessarily follow that God is "good or bad". That is a separate issue.

    Have we not realised that when it rains, the farmers are happy and rejoice while the pasar malam vendor is sad? To one, the rain is good, to the other it is bad. Both do not understand beyond thier selfish "prayers" which are actually hopes and demands (disguised as prayers). The Quranic view of this is completely different but who cares to read it?

    Suffice for now.


  11. I look at it from a FATE VERSUS DESTINY point of view...
    Muallaq is written on ‘The Preserved Tablet’ (al Lawh al Mahfoodh), and is subject to change and alteration through the omission or commission of certain deeds.
    Mubram is destiny denotes the eternal knowledge of Allah. It encompasses the final result of the Muallaq destiny i.e. our choice of actions, their consequences and every precise detail of our lives. This definite knowledge of Allah is not subject to change or alter even slightly and is exclusive to Allah only.
    Which is fate? Which is destiny?.. I don’t know, but I know that in Islam we differentiate the two... Personally, for my own self-comfort, I look at Destiny as something that’s been pre-ordained and cannot be changed, and Fate as a possible outcome/choice of our own free will...
    I believe that we’re meant to live life to it’s fullest, to be the best we can be, and hopefully in the end we’ll satisfy our Creator...

  12. all i'm saying is the sentence from most ustaz is more likely a methaphore, they doesnt really mean the bad is from human, and good is from God. It's just a way (maybe you have different way), and that way happens to be practiced by major people , a way of expressing how humble we are for not being perfect as He orders us to be. Depends on your perception on tht one.

    Maybe I wasnt really touched the whole context of your entry, just the part of ustazs' usual sentence, so might be gaps here. Anyway, hope that you are not looking for right or wrong view, by requesting me to refer to your answer from one of the comments, seems you actually are!

    Anyway, aku rase ko dingin dgn aku, berbanding ko selalu say hi to other people. oh, yes aku terasa.

  13. God, the creator, has given us life on Earth. Surely, with this life, we are endowed with time, energy and intellect. Without the creation of either one, we won't be here, to make any choices. Now, with these resources, I believe, it is up to us to decide what to make use of them. Here is one example:

    When you pray for rain, you are hoping that by 'fate', God would gather clouds at your area and make it condensed enough to start precipitating. What you might've ignored is that God's system i.e. the Laws of Physics (and Chemistry and Biology) dictates certain phenomenon must occur before it can rain. But you, sitting there, hoping helplessly for rain from God, wouldn't change the Laws of Physics.

    Since it will eventually rain, regardless of anyone's prayer for or against it, rain-prayers are still a norm in certain culture/religion.

    With the advent of Science and Technology (i.e. the exploration of the Laws of Universe), if we want it to rain, we must invest on cloud seeding or any technology to induce raining. Of course, we can't be 100% sure that our effort would be successful - but that's not because God doesn't/does love us.

    When cloud seeding fails, that's because we haven't understood the full process of rain cycle. And that's where our 'intellect' must seek to resolve - because God, the creator, has given us the luxury of being intellectual. Jangan kufur nikmat pula.