It was mentioned that there are some aspects of our life which are beyond our will and power. An example was given of getting treatment and recovering from illness; and it was shown that getting treatment is within our power, but being cured is not within the sphere of our activities.
From birth to death, there are hundreds of such conditions which are beyond our power; which are under the absolute control of Allah. A man is born in a wealthy and educated family; another in a nomad family of primitive civilization. Naturally, the first one has more chances of material well-being and intellectual development than the second one. A man is healthy and strong; another remains chronically sick. One is born blind, another has normal eyesight. Naturally, one can do more work than the other. A man lives up to eighty years, another dies in young age. The first one gets enough time to fulfill his plans, while the second one is not given time even to formulate any plan.
These and many such aspects of life are beyond the control of human beings. These matters are truely subject to "predetermination by God" which is called Qada' (fate) and Qadar (divine decree).
Why Allah chooses a certain condition of life for a certain man? It is a riddle which is beyond any solution. Many groups have tried to find answer to this puzzle. But all in vain. No theory solves the problems involved even partially.
When all is said and done, the only answer is provided by the verse of the Qur an: '' He is not questioned about what He does; but they (the people) shall be questioned." (21:23) It was perhaps for this reason that Amir al-mu'minin Ali bin Abi Thlib (peace be upon him) said about qadar of Allah that "it is a deep ocean; you should not enter it."
However, we can be confident that whatever is decreed is because of some good reason. What is the basis of this assertion? Let us look at those things which we do understand, like the system of universe, co-ordination of different forces of nature, our own biological system and the arrangement which have been made on this earth to make our lives pleasant. All these things convince us that the Creator has done nothing without a good reason. After this manifestation of His wisdom and knowledge if we come across some aspects of life which we are unable to understand, it is not difficult to assume that these things also must have some valid reasons.
Then you will know that Allah does nothing without purpose; that we are not in a position to know every reason of every thing in this world; that Allah does whatever is most beneficial to the mankind; that if we were told the reasons for these aspects of our lives, we would admit that they are most appropriate.
The Predetermined Measure
Allah says in the Qur'an: "Verily We have created every thing to a determined measure." (54:49) . So it is according to His own measure and plan that Allah has created every thing. As I have mentioned previously, we are justified in believing that there is good reason for every aspect of an individual's life as planned by Allah, though that individual may be unable to understand it by himself.
Look at a wrist watch. Some parts are made of gold, others of steel; still others of glass and ruby. There is a flat dial; arrow-like hands; hair-like spring; and axis-like spring-wheel; and various wheels, all of different sizes. The dial is white, the numerals black, the hand of second red and other two hands black. The numbers vary from one to twelve. In short, it takes scores of parts of different type, colour; origin and shape to make an ordinary wrist-watch work.
Could the wrist-watch work if all the components were of the same shape, size and design? Can the minute-and-hour hands complain justifiably why they were coloured black while the hand of second was painted red? Can the number 1 complain why it was not given the position of 12 ? And if all the numerals were put in one and the same position, could anybody know the time from that watch?
If a small ordinary wrist-watch cannot work without different types of parts, is there any reason to believe that the human society could go on without different types of people having various colour; outlook, capacity and ability?
And look at what the critics say. They demand that there should not have been any sickness, any handicap, any financial gaps; people should have been of equal strength, intelligence and wealth. Now let us look at what it envisages. it means that nobody would have depended upon any other person. Nobody would have done any work, because we have already supposed that one person would have as much money as the other. Then why should anybody work when his health, life-span, wealth and social status is guaranteed? The world would have remained as it was when Adam came on this earth. No improvement, not even bark-cloth! It would have been like spoon-feeding little children who have to do nothing for their own needs. But this is not tha purpose for which we were created. We were created for a higher purpose, not just to eat, drink and breed.
If there was to be any test, there was bound to be some hardship. And that hardship differs from person to person. That test varies from one person to another, And it is because of this variety of test that we find variety of problems.
So Where is Equality and Justice?
Question: If what you say is true, then it means that there is no equality between one person and the other. Where is the equality of which Islam is so proud?
Answer: By "equality" we do not mean that all human beings are of equal health and strength; nor that all of them are of equal intelligence; nor that all of them are born with equal eyesight, or hearing capacity; nor do we mean that man and woman are equal in physical capacity and biological functions. What we do mean by "equality" is the equality before the law. Rich and poor; strong and weak, all are equal in the eyes of religion; all have to follow the same rules and all are governed by the same civil, criminal and ethical codes. There is neither high nor low, neither favourite nor neglected in the eyes of law. Another meaning is that anybody in Islam can achieve the highest possible honour and office without any distinction of origin, colour or tribe. The criterion of respect in Islam is neither wealth nor strength, neither birth nor colour The only criterion is the "character" Allah says, "Verily the most honoured before God amongst you is the most pious of you." (49:13)
Question: But where is the justice of God when He gives one person normal eyes and deprives another of both eyes?
Answer: You have been told that we are here for a test. The examiner is Allah. It is His prerogative to decide in which way a person is to be examined. The justice is in the fact that the examiner does not burden any one with a test which might be beyond his or her ability. Allah has not given us wings to fly; and therefore, does not ask of us to fly in the air like birds. This is justice. Had He asked us to fly like birds (without giving us the wings), then it would have been injustice. But can we claim that because He did not give us wings (while birds have got it) we have been wronged by God? No. It is His sole prerogative to decide by which test should a particular person be examined. And it is His justice and mercy that He does not demand from anyone more than his or her ability. If He has created a man without hands, He at the same time has exempted him from jihad, wudu and tayammum. Had such a person been required to wage war without hands, then we could have rightly complained. But as long as the responsibilities of an individual are tailored to his abilities, nobody can say that Allah has done injustice.
We may sum up this topic in the following lines:
1. This world could not work if all people would have been of the Same strength, same ability and same life-span.
2. The working of the world requires people of different calibre, strength and ability
3. All are equal in the eyes of the religion and laws of religion.
4. Everybody's responsibilities are tailored to his abilities. And that is the only thing demanded by justice.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) was asked about qaza (fate) and qadar (divine decree). He said, " When Allah will gather His servants on the Day of Judgement, He will question them about the things which He entrusted them with, i.e., our obedience to the shari'ah which is within our power; but He will not question them about the things which He decreed and predetermined for them, i.e., the conditions of life which are beyond our control."