The following is a translation from an Arabic leaflet.
During the time of Rasool Allah (saaw) and the Sahabah, the meaning of Qadr was well understood without any ambiguity and what it meant was very clear. There was no debate. inquiries, or differences in this issue, except the discussion between Abu Ubaidah and Umar (ra), when Umar decided not to proceed in his trip to as-sham, once the news came telling that there was a plague spreading there and decided to go back to Madinah, telling the people '' I'm returning back, thus you should return as well''. In this incident Abu Ubaidah did not attend Umar's consultation with the people and the result of the consultation.
However, when Abu Ubaidah heard of Umar's orders. he came to Umar telling him ''O Umar, are you running away from Allah's Qadr.'' By this he was objecting Umar's decision to return back to Madinah. Umar was amazed by this objection raised by Abu Ubaidah and Umar said to him, ''O Abu Ubaidah. I wish someone other than you would have said this. Yes. I am running away from Allah's Qadr to Allah's Qadr ''. He explained this by saying, if you see a man coming to a place where there are two areas, one area is lush and the other barren. Don't you see that if he takes his cattle to the lush area, he is doing so according the Allah's Qadr and if he take his cattle to the barren area, he is also taking it by Allah's Qadr.
This is the only report which talked about the difference in understanding Al-Qadr, amongst the Sahabah. Otherwise, Muslims in general understood Al-Qadr the way it is in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. This understanding is that everything is written in the preserved tablet (al-Lowh al-Mahfooz), from the very beginning (before creation) and there is no relationship for this in the man's actions or in the obligations Allah orders us to carry. This situation continued all the way till the second half of the second century Hijri or till the middle of the Abbasid era. Due to the translation of the Greek, Persian and Hindu philosophies, some misconceptions accumulated in the minds of some people and the question of al-Qada wal-Qadr emerged and over shadowed the concept of Al-Qadr.
After that, the issue of al-Qadaria al-Ghaibiya (fatalism) became widespread among the people. It influenced them and shaped their behavior. It was one of the declining factor for the Muslim Ummah and when the decline became more obvious (during our time), it was one the most important factor, which prevented the Muslims form working for the revival. This situation continued till the beginning of the second half of the 20th century, Common Era (CE). At that time, a new Islamic culture emerged, clearing the issue of al-Qada wal-Qadr intellectually and presenting the Islamic point of view towards it. This culture also cleared the meaning of al-Qadr based on the Sharii text.
Thus, now the issue of al-Qada wal-Qadr became very clear for those who are involved in the Islamic work or Islam in general. Those who looked up to the western culture and the ones cultured by it, their interest in addressing Islam started decreasing (so they stopped attacking Islam through this perspective). The issue of al-Qada wal-Qadr was no longer an issue which occupied the mind of the Muslims or shaped their behavior. However, this did not affect al-Qadaria al-Ghaybiya (fatalism) and its place in the minds of the Muslims. All of the Muslims kept being influenced by it, the way it was in the past and those who are adhering to the Western culture, they started to get influenced by similar ideas carried by the West, which they call divine destiny. Thus, the issue of the al-Qadaria al-Ghaybiya is not solved and a question emerged about the difference in al-Qadr and al-Qadaria al-Ghaybiya due to the difficulty in distinguishing the difference between them. Before starting to address this question, we would like to pay attention to the fact that al-Qadr is a word which is different than ''al-Qada wal-Qadr'', the combined term.
The Qadr as the word is what Allah knows and wrote in preserved tablet (al-Lowh al-Mahfooz) at the very beginning (of creation). However, al-Qada wal-Qadr means the question of having the actions occur against man's will. This includes the characteristics of objects, which also occur against man's will. Thus, the real meaning of both are different. Although, the meaning which may come to the mind of the people once they hear both terms may be the same, which is the ability of man to stand and face what was written.
Since al-Qadr is different then al-Qada wal-Qadr, then a deep investigation of the issue leads us to realize that what needs to be addressed in al-Qadariya al-Ghaibiya versus al-Qadr. It should not be al-Qadariya al-Ghaibiya versus al-Qadr and al-Qada wal-Qadr. Because the issue is the written actions and not the free choice of man or having man being forced to carry out his actions. Now it is clear that al-Qadariya al-Ghaibiya emerged when people started mixing between al-Qadr and the meaning of al-Qadariya al-Ghaibiya without distinguishing them. In other words, it emerged as a result of mixing between al-Qadr and its results (submitting to it). While forgetting al-Qadr itself and being confined to its submission. Due to this mixing and the failure to define the fine line of separating both, al-Qadariya al-Ghaibiya emerged and spread and even over shadowed al-Qadr. Therefore, we need to understand the reality of both and the difference between them. Al-Qadr is all that Allah (swt) knows which is everything in al-Lowh al-Mahfooz. This taken from many Shani text (which are used as Daleel for the meaning of al-Qadr); for example when Allah (swt) says:
''(All) except the family of Lut. Them all we are surely going to save (from destruction). Except his wife, of whom We have decreed that she shall be of those who remain behind (i.e. she will be destroyed)''. [Al Hijr 15: 59-60]
'..And the Command of Allah is a decree determined.'' [Al-Ahzab 33:38]
Say: ''Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us..'' [At-Tauba 9:51]
And there is nothing hidden in the heaven and the earth, but is in a Clear Book (al-Lowh al-Mahfooz) [Al-Naml 27:75]
And no aged man is granted a length of life, nor is a part cut off from his life, but is in a Book (al-Lowh al-Mahfooz,) [Fatir 35:11]
And with Him are the keys of the Ghaib (all that is hidden), none knows them but he. And he knows whatever there is in (or on) the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but he knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record. [Al-An'am 6:59]
The meaning of all of these Ayat is that Allah knows everything in the universe and Allah wrote it in a clear book. Similarly, this is described in the following Ahadith:
The one which mentions that a woman should not ask for her sister's divorce in order to marry her sister's husband, because she will have what Allah wrote for her.
And the one which says that Musa told Adam, ''O Adam, Allah has chosen you and wrote by His hand for you; how come you blame me for something Allah wrote before He even created me.''
And in the Hadith which mentions that Allah wrote the Qadr of everything 50,000 years before the creation of the universe while His throne was on the water.
And the Hadith which mentions that Allah (swt) created the pen and instructed it to write. The pen asked, ''O Allah, what should I write''. Allah said, ''write the Qadr of everything till the day of judgement.''
And the Hadith which mentions that writing is dried and you will meet what is written.
And the Hadith which mentions that if the Ummah gathered to benefit you in something, they will never be able to benefit you with something other than what Allah wrote for you and if the whole Ummah got together to harm you in something, they will never be able to do it. unless Allah wrote it for you. Pens are laid down, and the ink has dried. (Ibn Abbas)
When Rasool Allah (saaw) says all of this, he means that nothing happens, except what Allah destined and wrote for the human beings and nothing happens against that which Allah knows. This is the meaning of Qadr and this is the meaning which is included in the Sharii text.
The Sharii text gives the meaning in a clear way without any ambiguity. This is what a Muslim should believe in. A Muslim knows that he cannot do anything against what Allah has determined. He knows also that what he can and cannot accomplish are within al-Qadr. A Muslim knows that he cannot succeed, unless Allah determined this success for him (wrote in al-Lowh al-Mahfooz). A Muslim is aware of all this and believes in it, because this is what the different Ayat imply: such as:
''...Nothing will happen to us except for what Allah wrote for us [At-Tauba 9:51]
And what the different Ahadith tell us; such as the one which mentions that the pens are laid down and the ink has dried.
Based upon this understanding, Muslims believed in al-Qadr without any ambiguity. There was no doubt in a Muslim's Aqeedah, so long as no alien ideas were attached to this understanding. However, after Muslims got influenced by alien thoughts, a veil covered their minds, causing them to loose the clarity of their understanding of the Aqeedah. Muslims used to believe in the Qadr and keeping it in the realm of belief (Iman). But now, Muslims started noticing this Iman in the Qadr, before performing any action and they started to carry various actions shaped by this Iman in the Qadr. Thus, they surrounded themselves by what is predetermined. Muslims started to think that whatever Allah predetermined is going to happen, regardless if they became active or passive in carrying out an action. They started believing like this, despite the fact that they know for sure that, it is impossible for anyone to have access to Allah's knowledge. In other words, the Muslims do believe that it is impossible for anyone to know what Allah's knowledge is.
Muslims know all of this, yet they still link their actions with this knowledge of Allah. Thus, al-Qadaria al-Ghaibiya (fatalism) emerged. It became something different than believing in al-Qadr. This is because, believing in the Qadr is to believe conclusively that nothing will happen in this universe, other than what Allah has predetermined everything and wrote in al-Lowh al-Mahfooz. However, al-Qadariya al-Ghaibiya means to surrender to what is predetermined. There is a difference between believing in the Qadr and surrendering to the predetermined. Surrendering to this predetermined is simply the result of believing in the Qadr with the absolute surrender; which is that what is predetermined is going to happen and nothing will happen if Allah did not predetermined it.
By the time, believing in the Qadr was over shadowed and now the Muslims have the total surrender. In other words, the belief in the Qadr is no longer restricted to the realm of belief. Now, the outcome alone (which is the total submission) became the issue. Al-Qadaria al-Ghaibiya, inside ourselves is linked to the combination of Iman in the Qadr and absolute submission to it; but when it comes to the actions of a person who believes in it, it is no longer a combination of Iman in the Qadr and the total submission to it. Now it is just total submission. In the end. Muslims started saying (once they fail), this is Allah's predetermination and it is my Qadr. If he fails many times, and succeeds in the end, he will say, this is the predetermined time for my success and I succeeded just because it came in the time which Allah had decided. Thus, Muslims started linking the success or the failure to the Qadr in most of their actions. Muslims started saying that it is useless to overcome the predetermined because whatever is predetermined is going to happen and no power can stop it.
This is al-Qadaria al-Ghaibiya. It is the absolute surrender to the predetermined without even looking at the belief in the Qadr. In other words, it is moving the issue from the belief to the surrender. As a result, all actions will be linked to the Qadr and to Allah. From this we see that al-Qadaria al-Ghaibiya did not emerged from the belief in the Qadr. Rather, it emerged from surrendering to the Qadr or from observing al-Qadr when performing an action. This observation is the fine line and it is the pit fall. Thus, we have to understand it believing in the Qadr and understand that issue of this observation and recognize the fine line that separates believing the Qadr and al-Qadaria al-Ghaibiya. We must know that believing in the Qadr is just a belief. It is a conclusive belief and must not produce a submission to the predetermined. The danger is from this surrender which was produced by this belief. In other words, it came form observing the Qadr while we perform an action or while we are just about to perform it. This danger cannot be prevented, except by keeping the Qadr totally and completely in the realm of Iman without linking to the actions. It is like any issue of the Aqeedah, we are asked to believe in it, while making it distinct from the actions. Mixing it with the actions and removing this fine line is what causes this pit fall. Al-Qadaria al-Ghaybiya spread amongst the Muslims during the decline era, because of the lack of clarity misunderstanding the Qadr and not separating this Iman in the Qadr from the actions. People started surrendering to the Qadr. Muslims started justifying their failure and successes to the Qadr. They started justifying their obedience and disobedience to Allah on the Qadr.
Consequently. Muslims no longer want to overcome obstacles facing them and no longer want to achieve the great achievements which they are supposed to, because they started surrendering themselves negatively to whatever happened to them, good or bad. Al-Qadaria al-Ghaibiya is to observe the Qadr in everything and in every action: whatever occurred and whatever did not occur. It is to believe and surrender to the Qadr in a negative way. It is one of the most dangerous and harmful dogma the Ummah can carry. It has grave consequences and it annihilates the individual, Ummah and the society, any society. Thus, it has to be countered and separated from the belief in the Qadr. We do believe that Allah knows or predetermined everything. This, however, should not be observed in our actions. We do not have access to Allah's knowledge. No one knows that there is going to be a failure or success. No one knows weather there is going to be obedience or disobedience. We do not have access to Allah's knowledge and consequently Allah's knowledge should not be observed and linked to our actions, because we do not know it and it is impossible for us to know. Thus, we do not surrender to it. Rather, we should put a thick barrier separating it (Allah's knowledge) from our minds. It should not be thought about, imagined or speculated before carrying any action. But, we should restrict ourselves to the issue, the hukm Sharii, causes of success, the factors of failure and keep this alone in mind.
18 Dhul Qidah 1388
5 Feb. 1969