Taqdeer (also spelled taqdir) is an Arabic word that refers to predestination. While the term has deep roots in pre-Islamic notions of blind fate, within Islam it refers to God's decree of the destiny of all things before they were created. This Islamic teaching has prompted significant debate over its apparent denial of free will, but many Muslims accept it as an expression of God's essential nature.
Taqdeer and God's Decree
As noted in "The Encyclopaedia of the Quran," before the rise of Islam, the understanding of fate in Arabian culture was grim and impersonal. Things happened because they were inevitable, with no explanation or meaning. The Quran, however, describes destiny in terms of God's decree before the creation of the universe. An expression of God's absolute power, the divine decree gives believers the assurance that God is in control of all aspects of their lives, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
The Divine Measure
As "The Quran: An Encyclopedia" explains, the literal meaning of the word "taqdeer" is to fix something's measurement or quantity, such as the number of days in the life of a human being. According to the Quran and the Hadith, collected sayings and incidents from the life of Muhammad, God issued the decree for his creation fifty thousand years before the creation of the universe, writing it in the Mother of all Books, which is also known as the Preserved Tablet. In this respect divine predestination has been likened to an infallible architect drawing up unchanging blueprints.
Taqdeer and Predestination
The relationship of divine predestination to free will has been the subject of significant debate. For Shiite Muslims, God gives human beings the freedom to choose good or evil, and his unchanging decree is grounded in his absolute foreknowledge of the history of his creation. In contrast, Sunni Muslims view God's sovereignty in more absolute terms. God sets the measure of all things before time, with individuals freely choosing to take actions whose outcome God has already determined. As Mufti Ebrahim Desai notes, this absolute predestination even applies to prayer, which can legitimately be said to change a person's fate because that change in fate had already been predestined. As for any logical contradictions this may present, proponents of this doctrine assert that predestination, like God himself, is beyond human comprehension.
Types of Taqdeer
Besides the comprehensive divine decree recorded in the Preserved Tablet, some Muslims speak of other forms of taqdeer. For example, according to Shaykh Saleh es-Saleh, there is also a daily taqdeer, in which God sets the destiny of each day in accordance with the decree made before time. In addition, the Muslim holiday of Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power, also translated as the Night of Destiny) celebrates God's annual transmission of the coming year's destiny to his angels to bring to pass. The Night of Power falls on the same date as the anniversary of the Quran's first revelation to Muhammad, and it is often commemorated with prayers for forgiveness and blessing.
- The Encyclopedia of Islam; Juan E. Campo, ed.
- The Encyclopaedia of the Quran; Jane D. McAuliffe, ed.
- Al-Islam: Outline of Differences Between Shi'ite and Sunnit Schools of Thought
- The Qur'an: An Encyclopedia; Oliver Leaman, ed.
- Islamic Studies: Towards Understanding the Quran, Surah 97, Verses 1-5
- Ask Imam: Fatwa #16483
- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Fatwas of Nur `Ala Al-Darb: 4- Observing Causes Does Not Contradict Tawakkul
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