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pete laplace
07-16-2020, 03:24 PM
hello there, I feel drawn towards Islam but cannot reconcile what seem to me to be contradictions in the faith. For example, how does one resolve an all knowing, all powerful God with human free will? I have asked both Muslims and Christians about this but have never felt intellectually satisfied with their answers. Thank you!
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'Abdullah
07-16-2020, 06:46 PM
Hello there & welcome to the forum,

Thanks for joining the forum and asking this question. This is the question not only many non-Muslims ask but is also asked by some Muslims.
Let me try to explain by a simple example.
Suppose there are 100 students in a class. Some students come to class & do all the home work where as some students rarely come to class and do their home work. Before the final exam, teacher predicts that students who were no regular in the class and did not do their home work, will fail the exam. The teacher also predicts that those who were regular to the class and did their homework will pass the class. Now should the students who did not come to class and end up failing the class, blame themselves or the teacher? Hope this explains the idea of having knowledge of something before hand and free will.

Now we know that Allah is All knowing & He knows what has happened in the past and what will happen in future. He already knows which path a person will take based on His knowledge. Now suppose you have to go to a place and four different people tell you four different ways to go to that place. You have never been to this place but you know that only one of the path will take you to the destination. Let's call them path A, B, C & D. You are free to choose any path you like, Let's say you choose path A. Path A could be the right path and it is also possible that it is the wrong path. You choose a path based on your free will after looking at all the signs and after making an educated decision - that's your free will. But guess what Allah has already written that you will take path A because He has the absolute knowledge of the everything. But did Allah force you to choose path A? The answer is NO.
Next question is why? Why did not Allah guide you? The answer is this world is a test for all of us. No teacher gives an answer to a question during the test ( using this language for explain it in easy terms). But once the test is over, we will all see the answers.

No Allah has given you all the ability to think, see, hear and make an educated analysis of things around you. You have all the tools to find Allah. You can call out to Him for help with sincere heart and He will respond. He will show you His signs and make them clear to you but at the end of the day, it is your decision to accept Islam or not to accept Islam. You have the free will to do whatever you like. Does Allah know what will you choose? Of course, but He will not force His decisions on you until your test is over.

To wrap it up, if I ask you what is 2+2 and give you four choices to answer the question. A)1 B)2 C)3 D)4
You can pick whatever answer you like but you know that the correct answer is only one which is D. Similarly the correct answer to your search is only one and that's Islam and submission to Allah.

Feel free to ask any more questions you may have & we will be happy to answer.
All the best!
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pete laplace
07-16-2020, 07:39 PM
Thank you, Habib! A couple follow ups if you don't mind, to answer at your leisure:

In the first example you give,

— did God choose which students would come to class and do their homework and which ones wouldn't?

— when he made the universe and saw in advance which students would behave in those ways, did He have the power to make the universe differently so that they would behave in different ways?

— The word "test" implies that one does not know the outcome in advance. If I know a lightbulb works, there's no need to test it. If this life is a test and God knows in advance what we're going to do, how is it a test? What exactly is being tested?

thanks again, Pete
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'Abdullah
07-16-2020, 08:22 PM
Originally Posted by pete laplace
Thank you, Habib! A couple follow ups if you don't mind, to answer at your leisure:

In the first example you give,

— did God choose which students would come to class and do their homework and which ones wouldn't?


Its the choice student made, teacher never forced anyone to come to the class or miss it. In other words it is your free will.
— when he made the universe and saw in advance which students would behave in those ways, did He have the power to make the universe differently so that they would behave in different ways?
Would it be fair if Allah would have thrown people directly into Jannah and in hell fire without testing them just based on His own knowledge?
People going to hell fire, would have questioned why we are going to the hell fire? That's why, we are tested in this world. Quran tells us that our body parts will be witness against us, earth on which we committed sins will be witness against us. Everything we are doing is being recorded by angels, just like a video film and on that day we can't deny anything because proofs against us will be so clear. After all these proofs, when we will be thrown into hell fire we will have no one to blame but ourselves. Just like a student who failed the class for not doing his home work and for not attending the class, he has no one to blame but himself.To understand this let's say you have a court case. Would this be fair for judge to give you punishment without any trial and proving that you are guilty?

— The word "test" implies that one does not know the outcome in advance. If I know a lightbulb works, there's no need to test it. If this life is a test and God knows in advance what we're going to do, how is it a test? What exactly is being tested?
Simple answer to that is God knows but you & I don't. Since we don't know, we work towards the unseen in a cautious way. Just like if you are left in a dark room and you don't know what exists in that room and outside the room. How would you act? Would you be careful or careless? I am sure you would try to be cautious and you will wish to get some sort of guidance which can show help you see in this darkness.

Allah has given us all the natural instincts which we need to make rational decisions along with that He has also given us the guidance to see in this pitch darkness. That guidance is Islam. That guidance is through His own words in the form of Quran. Now if some one refuse to use that, he has only himself to blame.

You gave the example of the light bulb, it will turn on with a switch, imagine there are few switches right next to you in that dark room. But you refuse to use those switches, the bulb will not turn on by itself. You have to take an action to push the right switch. If you press the wrong switch, bulb will not turn on. Does this mean the outcomes of pressing all switches will be same? No, you will try to switch all of them to find a way out. Similarly here, you may have looked into Christianity and other religions, if those did not turn the light on for you then may be you should switch on the "Islam" button and perhaps that will turn the light on for you.

The test is for a higher purpose which is to seek the pleasure of our creator by submitting to Him alone. How we can seek His pleasure? By submitting to Him and following what he has revealed to us through revelation. A creator knows what is best for His creation and we have that preserved in the form of Quran and Sunnah for more than 1400 years.

Now let me ask you few question, so that you can reflect more deeply and use these connection to connect the dots.
Do you think we came into being by chance?
If someone created us, there would be a purpose of our creation, right?
That's the purpose of your life?
Do you think someone has control over us?
Why you and I go through difficulties?
Why we can never achieve happiness and eternity?
How do you explain death?
Do you think Justice is served in this world? If it is not, don't you think there should be a place where Justice should be served?
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pete laplace
07-16-2020, 08:48 PM
Thanks again Habib, I will think on your questions and return tomorrow. In the meantime, I can perhaps express the essence of my confusion in the following way: does God control human behavior? Your answers imply that He does not. Why say, then, that He is all powerful? Would it not be more accurate to say that he has power over everything except human beings? Else there is a disconnect between power and responsibility.
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'Abdullah
07-16-2020, 09:07 PM
Allah is indeed all powerful. One can't even breath if Allah does not permit it. The example of this can be found in your daily life. For example, if Allah has no power then why do humans die? Why can't they bring back their dead relatives? The reality is that we don't even have power over our own body parts. Think about it!!! Think how a small creation - Coronavirus has stopped the whole world. Super powers can't do anything and they are helpless against something which is so small that can't even be seen by a naked eye.

Allah has the power but He does not use those to influence our free will. You & I are absolutely free to make whatever choice we want to make, consequences of these choices will definitely be seen in the life after death & to some extent we do see in this world. This brings another question in my mind which is very important and I have added that to my previous post.

Do you think Justice is served in this world? If it is not, dont you think there should be a place where Justice should be served?
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keiv
07-16-2020, 09:49 PM
Originally Posted by pete laplace
hello there, I feel drawn towards Islam but cannot reconcile what seem to me to be contradictions in the faith. For example, how does one resolve an all knowing, all powerful God with human free will? I have asked both Muslims and Christians about this but have never felt intellectually satisfied with their answers. Thank you!
What exactly do you feel is contradictory about the topic?
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Ümit
07-17-2020, 06:13 AM
Great answers Habib. Thanks for sharing. I just have something to add to this conversation about our basic instincts to look for God:

I will use the next example for this.
suppose suddenly you wake up and find yourself in a speeding train. you look around and the people in that train are behaving normal, talking to each other about stuff, laughing, making telephone calls, reading, listening to music, etc, etc.
None of them feels concerned about who put them on that train, why are they on that train, where is that train headed to, who even controls the train?

These are basic questions that would automatically pop up in our heads when we would find ourself in a similar situation right?

I know this is a kind of an absurd example, but wait...is the life on Earth not just like that speeding train?
We do not remember choosing to be on this Earth, we do not know who put us on Earth and why, we do not know where the life on Earth takes us to, what happens when we die (when the train reaches its destination), etc etc.

Suddenly, the example of the train does not sound so absurd anymore.
(at least, that was my experience when I was confronted with this the first time.)
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happymuslim
07-17-2020, 07:52 AM
This book does an amazing job at answering all your questions.
https://www.allahsword.com/ebooks/Is...a-wa-qadar.pdf
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pete laplace
07-17-2020, 05:09 PM
thanks for all the feedback! Unfortunately I'm having a family medical problem (my dad is very ill) so I haven't yet been able to give your responses the thought they deserve. Perhaps I will be able to reply again in a week.

In the meantime, the essence of my confusion is that it appears that Islam claims that God is all powerful yet not all responsible, and to me it is only reasonable that power and responsibility go together.

Okay, will hopefully return next week ~ thank you again!
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'Abdullah
07-17-2020, 05:18 PM
Originally Posted by pete laplace
thanks for all the feedback! Unfortunately I'm having a family medical problem (my dad is very ill) so I haven't yet been able to give your responses the thought they deserve. Perhaps I will be able to reply again in a week.

In the meantime, the essence of my confusion is that it appears that Islam claims that God is all powerful yet not all responsible, and to me it is only reasonable that power and responsibility go together.

Okay, will hopefully return next week ~ thank you again!
With further discussions, we will be able to sort out these confusions. I will hope to see you in a week or so.
Right now it is important for you to be with your father. We pray that may he recover soon! Ameen!

All the best!
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peaceandlove
10-12-2020, 10:25 AM
Asalam O Alikum

i was also too much confused on free will question and then when i came to one scholar example and that almost clear me every thing, ofcourse still this concept can never be 100% as only Allah knows best but atleast i get a satisfactory answer. The scholar says some thing like (i try to explain in my own word)

"One day , I was sitting in a room and a man came to me and show me a pieace of paper with almost 40-50 images on it (like chair, sun, moon,fruits etc etc) and ask me to choose one of it and he can tell me which one i am going to choose, as scholar first i refused to do so but then man forced so i accepted it.

Now , man take a piece of paer and writed some thing on it and then asked me to choose a thing, Now i tried one but then refused as might be men writed the same on his paper but after several tries i just picked one and when i see the paper the thing the mem writed before is that what i chooses"

Then scolar says , this leads to him to understand the free will question, Allah is so greate and he know future peferctly , Allah has given us free will but still Allah knows what we will do , if a person can predict what i am going to choose in future Allah Knowledget is perfect to write every thing we are going to do.

Now, imagen same person, Did he force you to do pick any picture from sheet, NO, You choose it from you own will but still person know what you are going to choose

i think once you take this example , your question will be much clear.

Allah Knows the best.
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M.I.A.
01-19-2021, 07:38 PM
Originally Posted by pete laplace
hello there, I feel drawn towards Islam but cannot reconcile what seem to me to be contradictions in the faith. For example, how does one resolve an all knowing, all powerful God with human free will? I have asked both Muslims and Christians about this but have never felt intellectually satisfied with their answers. Thank you!
imagine you make the decision to go to university. thats free will.

so you wake up one day while at university.

you still have free will, but now you have to go to lectures, make notes, do exams.

you still have free will, but you have now made choices that impact on your life and behaviour day after day.

its a very crude example because many choices are beyond us in comprehension, we dont think about them.

but going to university could effect your every thought and the process by which you make decisions in the future.

this example is one that is purely material and tangible, but many choices seem to be beyond us.

what goes on in the mind, the heart and what comes out through the tongue and the hand, is often overlooked.. if you had to think twice before doing any of those then maybe a clear contradiction would be present.

and yet, tomorrow is a new day..

leading on from the previous.

so technically your free will is compromised and yet it was a choice of action on your own behalf.


..im so glad this wasn't a rant post. iv been good today by my own estimation.

i hope to one day rectify my own soul, and get what im just not getting.


because you can only blame the world and the people in it for so long, before you acknowledge the power of personal responsibility and what holds dominion over it.


im sure that when we talk about free will or god, we we can barely imagine the complexity or scale of such things. so its a throwaway post and should be taken as such.


..you would drive yourself crazy thinking you were responsible for others, nevermind yourself.
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wayfarer91
01-20-2021, 12:21 AM
This isn't that hard to grasp.
Allah is All Knowing. He always knows what we are going to do or not. For instance,
God knows whether u will choose path A, or path B, and alll the outcomes resulting from it.but we dont know it. Thats our free will. Freedom to choose. However, the problem arises when we begin to think Allah as per our limited human understanding

For us God must have to work a certain way. That's what confuses most of us. There have been a billion people before us, many prophets of whom we know nothing about, but Allah knows. His knowledge is limitless.
He has given us freedom to choose our paths, but knows what will happen if we choose A or B.
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Ümit
01-20-2021, 11:43 AM
Originally Posted by wayfarer91
This isn't that hard to grasp.
Allah is All Knowing. He always knows what we are going to do or not. For instance,
God knows whether u will choose path A, or path B, and alll the outcomes resulting from it.but we dont know it. Thats our free will. Freedom to choose. However, the problem arises when we begin to think Allah as per our limited human understanding

For us God must have to work a certain way. That's what confuses most of us. There have been a billion people before us, many prophets of whom we know nothing about, but Allah knows. His knowledge is limitless.
He has given us freedom to choose our paths, but knows what will happen if we choose A or B.
I think the complicated part is that many people do not understand how all powerful, all knowing Allah can give humans with free will. The idea of humans having free will, while Allah knew from the beginning which choices they were going to make and still created them that way sound contradicting...How can someone have free will if he is created in a certain way and the future is fixed?
That is the question a lot of people struggle with.

The answer is mentioned several times in this thread but here a brief summary:
Future is not fixed. Allah being able to know your future, does not mean it is fixed. Depending your effort you put in and dua's you make, you can change your Qadr and with that your future.
and to have a free will requires the existence of evil and the ability to choose for that.
If no one chose to be evil, and somehow everyone chose the right way...do we then really have free will?

The value of this everything is choosing for the good, despite having the more attractive bad choice.
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Flos
01-20-2021, 05:09 PM
I would love to add something here.

There's a huge distinction on how Christians see god and how we see Him.

Correct me if I'm wrong - Christians see god as an old human being with white beard and family. When you add all power to this image you get super confused.

Islam explains god - Allah much beyond this. Allah (The God) is nothing like anything you ever seen. We are also forbidden to imagine Allah because of attachment to anything He created. Who is Allah, It's best explained in this video: https://youtu.be/Bj62vrD6k-0

Next, the essence of both religions is prayer. The Almighty created us to worship Him only and alone. He created unbelievable number of other creatures: Angels, Jinn, animals and Allah knows what else and the minor number of humans.

Humans and Jinn are the only creations with free will. He sent both types of creatures to Dunya (this world) and Dunya is not just Earth since Earth plays a role in Akhirah (Judgment Day). And Dunya life lasts as blink of an eye compared to eternity of our soul and hereafter existence. Only Judgment day is supposed to last for 50.000 years. This life is ONLY test and this isn't real life. Just a test, just a blink of an eye.

Yes sure, He wrote everything long before created humans about what's going to happen. But we are given one major lifepath and so many micro paths. The beginning of the major path is our birth and the end is our death. In between are our choices which depend on us. And, if we choose wrong micro path we have power of prayer.

As an example to decision is next: You have a very poor or hungry neighbor, but you're given wealth. The wealth you're given consists of risk (provision) for your neighbor. It's his, not yours. If you choose to give that portion of provision to poor neighbor that's your good choice and your micro path goes in that direction. This is where we use term "guided", since Islam tells us all of this. In Islam there's zekat, obligation same as fasting during Ramadan or our 5 time prayers. Zekat means giving portion of your overall provision to the poor, actually to the community and the community shares it with those in need and this makes whole community materially satisfied. - You wonder why there are so many poor Muslims in Islamic countries - it's because of hypocrisy and corruption of Muslims nowadays, especially those in charge (authorities).

If something is about to happen and you can feel it (doesn't matter is it spiritual or material) you can change it through prayer - and now we're back to the essence of both religions and our worshipping purpose in this world/life. God is super powerful. He can do whatever He wants. He already created angels - unknown huge number of them. Angels don't have free will. Allah wants to share and show His superpower with those who do have free will. Ask Him whatever and He'll give it to you (not really everything, never bad things, evil things and sometimes He prolongs acceptance of what you're asking for). This is the point. You can be facing severe hardships and it wont change unless you ask Him to change it or the time for its end.
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wayfarer91
01-21-2021, 10:16 AM
Yes that's the thing, we need to think beyond our human capacity. Qadr is Allah's knowledge. Then we considr time is linear, for Allah it isnt. Like consider the example of tahajjud. We are told that Allah comes down to the lowest heaven at last third of the night.. Whereas it is always night somewhere in the world. So just have faith
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