Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Whither the Nation-States?

Sharique Naeem 

The Law of a land governs the relationship of individuals within that Society; therefore, the law is central to any society as it is the yardstick for decisions. In the west, the secular law has found general acceptance as the premises for governing the society, and while there are debates on reforms, ethical values, and policies, etc. every now and then, the undertone is set within the context of the secular law.

In the Muslim societies, however, this general acceptance never materialized. And it is for this reason that the very notion of validity of secular law is contested so often.  In fact, a close scrutiny of many of the Political trends in the Muslim world show that the underlying challenge is of identifying and accepting the source of law; for example, whether it is to be derived from Faith or Secular premises. With the advent of the Islamic awakening, labeled as the Arab Spring, this debate has become even more prominent.

While the model of Nation-states and Democratic governance finds a stable premise on the secular viewpoint, in the Muslim world on the contrary, this model faces a persistent dilemma primarily due to its incompatibility with the viewpoint of the common man—that Laws are to be sourced from Islam.

A number of observations are to be noted in this regard. The fact today is that, constitutionally, Secular Turkey has a ruling party that deliberately seeks to benefit from displaying some tenants of Faith.  Also, while Turkey has reverence for Mustafa Kemal, it simultaneously owns its Ottoman Legacy.  Another example is Pakistan where the debate on its founder, Jinnah—whether he was secular or religious—is still disputed by some even to date; whereas, its revered National Poet Dr. Muhammad Iqbal was a strong advocate of pan-Islamic unity and categorically negated democracy and nation-state models. In many Muslim nations, it can be observed that Political parties recognize the sizeable faith-based vote; hence, liberal and religious democratic parties continue to realign themselves to optimize access to seat of authority. Likewise, in the OIC, we find a consensus of States with secular constitutions, Monarchs, and those claiming to be faith-based agreeing in principal to attempt to act in proposition to Laws and policies sourced from faith.

In the wake of the Arab Spring in the middle-east and North African states, the debate as to what would succeed the fallen dictators has become the center of world attention.  Before evaluating as to what the future holds, a brief historical perspective is essential.  A Century ago, most of the nation-states we see today did not exist. The Muslim world had a core state, i,e. the Ottoman Caliphate.

The model of State of the Ottoman Caliphate was fundamentally unique and different from the Nation-State models based on secular creed. Edward A. Freeman in his book Ottoman Power in Europe (1877) highlights this fact:

“We have seen now what the Turk is, and we have seen that it is mainly his religion that has made him what he is. From all this another point follows. A system of this kind, a system under which the bond-age of the mass of the people of a country is enforced by their rulers as a matter of religious duty, is in-capable of reform. It can be got rid of ; it cannot be reformed…The only means of putting an end to the state of things which necessarily follows on Mahometan rule is to put an end to the Mahometan rule itself.”

The model of state based on western law in the west stood in an uneasy ideological confrontation with the Caliphate based on Islamic Faith. And this confrontation sourced the prioritized objective of putting an end to the Rule based on Islamic Law.

Amidst World War I, practical plans were put forth for dismantling the Caliphate. The Sykes-Picot agreement in 1916 between the French and British Government laid down the plan to divide the Ottoman Caliphate into regions of respective influence and control. Subsequently, on March 3rd, 1924 when Mustafa Kamal destroyed the Caliphate, Lord Curzon, when speaking in the British House of Commons, said, “The point at issue is that Turkey has been destroyed and shall never rise again, because we have destroyed her spiritual power: the Caliphate and Islam.”

Foreign occupation by Imperialists by virtue of its oppression and exploitative nature could not persist long and had to be rolled back. In doing so, they ensured that the subsequent geopolitics of the Muslim world would operate within nation-state construct. And for that purpose, they left behind a trail of loyal Rulers.
In the recent context of Arab spring, while the sudden surge and resilience of the common folk in accounting the rulers came as surprise, the oppressive response of the Dictators was certainly not. The very dictators who presided over their nation-states had for decades enjoyed the blessings and support from Capitals in West—from Paris, London, to Washington.

The fall of dictators is being seen in some political circles and international media as a triumph that will ‘naturally’ lead to prevalence of democracy.  This expectation is primarily built on the premises that just like in the west where Democracies and Nation-state models are accepted notions, likewise, the Muslims too will gladly embrace Democracies while continuing to adhere to the already existing nation-state models in place.  However, the fallacy of this premise becomes evident when analyzed in the context of history and the belief of the populous.

There are primarily two wrong assumptions made in this generalization.

Firstly, it is assumed that Muslims look up to democracy just like the people in the west look up to democracy. The west adheres to the creed of capitalism whereas Muslims adhere to the creed of Islam. The west ideologically adheres to the notion of secular law and separation of church and state. The Muslims by belief reject the notion of separation of faith and state, and believe that Islam has a role to play in the sourcing of laws and policies. Similarly, the terms ‘Freedom’ and ‘Rights’ have entirely different meanings and implications in the viewpoint of the westerners and the Muslims.

Secondly, it is assumed that the Nation-state model is a natural product achieved by the host population. In the west, the legacy of church-controlled states was ideologically rejected and resisted, which then lead to indigenous movements that materialized into formation of nation states. In the Muslim world, however, it was foreign intervention that sought to terminate centuries of an already existing model of governance, i.e. Caliphate; and it did so by occupation and stroking divisions. The indigenous movements which subsequently followed were geared towards removal of imperial occupation. And the West ensured that upon its retreat, it passed authority to loyal dictators to ruler over nation-state models that it had crafted. Therefore, the Muslims had not intellectually rejected their centuries old state model, i.e. the Caliphate, in the way the westerners had struggled in their own lands.

And it is this difference that puts the suitability of Democracy and nation-state models in the Muslim lands in question.  For the west, its model of governance, i.e. Democracy, is a manifestation of its secular creed and a means to address its own issues related to society and governance, whereas for the Muslims, the manifestation of their creed has historically been an altogether different system, one which they had referred to for over 1200 years to manage and govern their societies.

Today, democracy may seem to be taking shape in the immediate aftermath of fallen dictators. The enthusiastic response and participation in elections might be seen by some as indicators that the region is now on the path towards adopting democracy.  However, there are other growing indicators which point into a different path. Yemen, for instance, is gripped in a multitude of problems, and despite Saleh’s resignation, there are minimal signs that the trust of the people will be restored in the present regime to the extent of channelizing their loyalties.  And if trust cannot be won through reforms, then the conflict it faces is likely to persist and further weaken the hold of present regime. In Libya, the recent protests against the Federation show the similar trust deficit that the existing regime faces.  In Egypt, there is a growing realization that even though Hosni Mubarik has been removed, the present rule under SCAF is a mere reincarnation of the former dictator. Several Protests have taken place, and have met similar brutal response from the regime.  The Bedouin populous has also been emboldened, and the recent calls by some of its tribes—to resort to resistance if their rights were not met—shows the loyalty crises faced by the present regime. Moreover, the disruption of the Gas pipeline to Israel, and the common trend witnessed in Protests—calls for rejection of ties with Israel—goes to show that concern of the masses are not limited within their nation-states. In Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab spring, the common man, a year on, still faces the same economic hardships. In Syria, the uprising continues in the face of brutal oppression unleashed by Bashar Assad. Given the growing numbers of defectors, Assad’s fall is very likely.

The fact that the Arab Spring, starting from Tunisia, quickly moved into the neighboring states shows how closely knit the region is despite the divisions into nation-states.  Just like the negation of existing political construct, i.e. Dictatorship, reaching a peak in one state resulted in the domino effect. Likewise, the affirmation of a new political construct in one of these states has the potential to spill over if it emanates from the ideology of the masses and carries appeal. Whether or not this new political construct is democracy within the confinements of nation-states remains questionable. For, the underlying factors which had propelled the masses to stand up remain predominately in place with the exception of change of a Face.  And a mere display of democratic institution may not be able to solve those factors, such as economic hardships, access to justice, heath care, education, alignment of foreign policy, etc.

The new political construct, which may find more acceptance and appeal, is the pan-Islamic state model, i.e. the Caliphate, since this model has a historically significant context which gives it trans-national appeal. In it, the sources of law are based on faith, hence, this state model is not characterized with the confused and conflicting politics that we find in some Muslim states today where the regimes try to maintain a blend of both secular law and Islamic law.

An interesting observation in this regard is made by Samuel P. Huntington in The Clash of Civilizations (1996) where he states, “The structure of political loyalty among Arab and Muslims generally has been the opposite of that in the modern West. For the latter the nation state has been the apex of political loyalty”. He further explains, “Throughout Islam, the small group and the great faith, the tribe and the Ummah, have been the principal foci of loyalty and commitment. And the nation state has been less significant.” On the other hand, “In the Arab world, existing states have legitimacy problems because they are for the most part the arbitrary, if not capricious, products of European Imperialism”. Interestingly, he makes a significant deduction that “the idea of sovereign nation states is incompatible with belief in the sovereignty of Allah and the primacy of the Ummah”.

Today, this ‘less significant factor’ of nation-states—that once required dictators to keep in place—will only further lose its credibility.   As the new indicators show, the post-Arab Spring’s political landscape is more likely to move in the direction of pre-imperial political construct, i.e. a Caliphate.

Sharique Naeem, is a politcal writer & analyst. His writings have been published in newspapers in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Yemen, Libya & Iran. He can be reached at  Twitter: @shariquenaeem


[1] Edward Freeman Quote:
[2]Lord Curzon Quote:
[3]Samuel P. Huntington Quote:
‘The Clash of Civilization and the remaking of world order’ pg 174-175.


How the Issue of al-Qadaa’ wa ‘l-Qadar Emerged

The following is the draft English translation of a chapter from the masterpiece'Shaksiya Islamiya' (The Islamic Personality) volume 1 by Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani. For exact meanings please refer to the original Arabic.

With the exception of the issue of the perpetrator of a kabīrah [major sin], over which Wāsil Ibn Atā’, the head of the Mu’tazilah, withdrew from the circle of al-Hasan al-Basrī, we scarcely find any issue from the issues of ‘Ilm al-Kalam which had not originated from an issue that was discussed by the Greek philosophers. The issue of al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar by this name and with the referent which they discussed had been discussed by Greek philosophers, and they had differed in it. This issue is referred to as the issue of al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar and as al-jabr wa ‘l-ikhtiyār, and as hurriyat al-irādah, all of which have the same referent, namely: the actions that man does, is he free to do them or not, or is he compelled? It never occurred to the minds of the Muslims - before the translation of the Greek philosophy - to inquire into this subject matter. It was the Greek philosophers who inquired into it and differed in it. The Epicureans opined that the will is free in choice and that man does all of his actions according to his will and choice, without any compulsion. As for the Stoics, they opined that the will is compelled to take the path it takes, incapable of departing from it. Man, according to them, does nothing in accordance with his will; he is compelled to do whatever he does and does not have the ability to do or not to do.

After the advent of Islam and the infiltration of philosophical thoughts, one of the major issues was the attribute of justice with regards to Allah (swt). Allah (swt) is Just; from the proposition of this Justice follows the issue of punishment and reward, from which arises the issue of the servant’s commission of his actions, all of which were inquired into, in line with the method of inquiry which they adopted of inquring into an issue as well as into all its offshoots, and due to the influence of the inquisitions of the philosophers, that is, the philosophical thoughts they had studied in relation to the topics they were refuting. The most prominent of these was the discussion by the Mu’tazilah, being the original discussion in this matter; the discussions of the other Mutakallimīn come only as a response to refute the views of the Mu’tazilah. Thus the Mu’tazilah are considered the pioneers in discussing the issue of al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar, nay in all the topics of ‘Ilm al-Kalam.

The Mu’tazilah’s view of the Justice of Allah (swt) was one of subliming Him (swt) above injustice. Regarding the issue of punishment and reward, they took a stance which was consistent with the subliming of Allah (swt) and with His Justice. They postulated that the Justice of Allah (swt) would be meaningless without the affirmation of the freedom of the will of man and the affirmation that he creates his actions and that he is capable of doing or refraining from doing; thus if he does (an action) voluntarily or refrains from doing (it) voluntarily, his punishment or reward will be understandable and just. But if Allah (swt) creates man and compels him to act in a certain way by compelling the obedient toward obedience and the disobedient toward disobedience and then punishes him and rewards him, this would not be just in the least. Thus they drew analogy between the unseen and the seen, comparing Allah (swt) to man. They subjected the laws of this world to Allah (swt) precisely as a group of the Greek philosophers had done. Thus they obligated justice upon Allah (swt), as it was envisaged by man.

The origin of the discussion is the punishment and reward from Allah (swt) for the servant’s action. This is the subject matter of the discussion which was given the name ‘al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar’ or as ‘al-jabr wa ‘l-ikhtiyār or ‘hurriyat al-irādah. Their approach to the discussion was that of the Greek philosophers: they discussed volition [irādah] and the creation of acts. On the issue of volition, they said: we see that the one who wills good is himself good and the one who wills evil is evil, the one who wills justice is just and one who wills injustice is unjust. Thus if the Will of Allah (swt) were associated to all good and evil in the world, good and evil would be willed by Allah (swt), and thus the one who willed would merit the description of good and evil, just and unjust, and this is an impossibility with regard to Allah (swt). They also said that if Allah had Willed the kufr of the kāfir and the disobedience of the disobedient, he would not have prohibited them from kufr and disobedience, and how can it be thinkable that Allah willed for Abu Lahab that he be a kāfir and then ordered him to have imān and prohibited him from kufr? If any one of the creation did this, he certainly would be (deemed) foolish; Exalted is Allah high above such. Further, if the kufr of a kāfir and the disobedience of the disobedient were willed by Allah (swt), they would not be deserving the punishment; their acts would be in obedience to his (swt) Will…

Thus they proceeded with logical propositions, and then they followed this up with textual proofs from the Noble Quran, citing the saying of Allah (swt),

وَمَا اللَّهُ يُرِيدُ ظُلْماً لِلْعِبَادِ

And Allah does not wish injustice for His Servants” [TMQ Ghāfir: 31],

And His (swt) saying,

سَيَقُولُ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا لَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ مَا أَشْرَكْنَا وَلاَ آبَاؤُنَا وَلاَ حَرَّمْنَا مِنْ شَيْءٍ كَذَلِكَ كَذَّبَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِم

“Those who associate partners with Allah will say: ‘If Allah had willed, we whould not have associated partners with Him, nor would our fathers; nor would we have forbidden aught.’ Thus did those before them reject…” [TMQ An’ām: 148],

And His (swt) saying,

قُلْ فَلِلَّهِ الْحُجَّةُ الْبَالِغَةُ فَلَوْ شَاءَ لَهَدَاكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

“Say:Then Allah's is the conclusive argument; had He Willed, He would certainly have guided you all [TMQ-An’ām: 149],


يُرِيدُ اللّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلاَ يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ..

“Allah intends for you facility; He does not intend for you difficulty” [TMQ Baqarah: 185]

and His (swt) saying,

وَلاَ يَرْضَى لِعِبَادِهِ الْكُفْرَ

“He likes not ingratitude from His Servants” [TMQ-Zumar: 7].

They interpreted away the ayāt that contradict their viewpoint, for example the saying of Allah (swt),

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ سَوَاءٌ عَلَيْهِمْ أَأَنذَرْتَهُمْ أَمْ لَمْ تُنذِرْهُمْ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ

“As to those who reject, it is the same to them whether you warn them or you do not warn them; they will not believe” [TMQ-Baqarah: 6],

And His saying,

خَتَمَ اللّهُ عَلَى قُلُوبِهمْ وَعَلَى سَمْعِهِمْ وَعَلَى أَبْصَارِهِمْ غِشَاوَةٌ..

“Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing; and on their eyes is a veil” [TMQ Baqarah: 7],

And His saying,

بَلْ طَبَعَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهَا بِكُفْرِهِمْ

“Nay Allah has set the seal on their hearts for their blasphemy” [TMQ-Nisā’: 155]

They concluded from this the opinion that they held and advocated, namely their well-known view that man has the freedom of will to do an act or refrain from it. Thus if he acts, it is according to his will and if he refrains, it is also according to his will. As for the issue of the creation of acts, the Mu’tazilah said that the acts of the servants are created by them and are of their own doing not of Allah’s (swt); it is in their power to do these acts or refrain from them without any intervention of the power of Allah (swt). The proof of this is the difference which man feels between the voluntary and the involuntary movement, such as the movement of a person who voluntarily moves his hand and the movement of a trembling person, and such as the difference between the movement of someone going up a lighthouse and another falling from it. Thus the voluntary movement is in the power of man: it is he who creates it; but he has no role in the involuntary movement. Also, if man was not the creator of his acts, the taklīf (obligation to comply with the Sharī’a) would certainly be invalidated, since if he was not capable of acting or refraining from acting, it would not be rational to ask him to act or to refrain from acting, and this would not have been the subject of praise, reproach, reward or punishment. Thus did they proceed with the proof of this opinion of theirs via logical propositions, and then they annexed to this textual proofs, citing many ayāt, like the saying of Allah (swt),

فَوَيْلٌ لِّلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَابَ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَـذَا مِنْ عِندِ اللّهِ..

“Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say: ‘This is from Allah’” [TMQ -Baqarah: 79],

And His (swt) saying,

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ

“Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves” [TMQ-Ra’d: 11],

And His (swt) saying,

مَنْ يَعْمَلْ سُوءاً يُجْزَ بِهِ

“Whoever works evil, will be requited accordingly” [TMQ-Nisā’: 123],

And His (swt) saying,

الْيَوْمَ تُجْزَى كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ

“The Day every soul shall be requited for what it earned” [TMQ Ghāfir: 17],

And His (swt) saying,

قَالَ رَبِّ ارْجِعُونِ، لَعَلِّي أَعْمَلُ صَالِحاً

“He says: ‘O my Lord! Send me back, so that I may work righteousness” [TMQ-Mu’minūn: 99-100].

They interpreted away the ayāt which contradicted this opinion of theirs, like the saying of Allah (swt),

وَاللهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

“And Allah has created you and your handiwork!” [TMQ-Sāāfāt: 96],

And His (swt) saying,

اللَّهُ خَالِقُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ

“Allah is the Creator of all things” [TMQ Zumar: 62]

They concluded with the opinion which they held regarding the issue of the creation of acts, namely the view that man creates his own actions by himself and that he is capable of doing an act or refraining from it. In pursuance of the methodology of inquiry of the Mutakallimīn in discussing the issue as well as its offshoots, one of the offshoots of the issue of the creation of acts was the issue of causality. After the Mu’tazilah had determined that the acts of man are created by him, a question arose from this: what about the acts that result from his action? Are they created by him as well? Or are they created by Allah (swt)? For example the pain felt by a person who has been hit, the taste that a thing comes to have as a result of the action of man, the cutting that occurs from a knife, pleasure, health, lust, heat, cold, humidity, solidity, cowardice, courage, hunger, satisfaction, etc. They said that all these are part of the action of man because it is man who causes them when he performs his acts. Thus they are ensuing from his act and as a result are created by him.

This is the issue of al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar and the view of the Mu’tazilah regarding it. The essence of it is that it is the issue of the volition of the act of the servant and the attributes that occur in things as a result of the action of man. The essence of their view is that the servant has free will in all of his acts and that it is he who creates his acts and the attributes that occur in things as a result of his action.

This view of the Mu’tazilah provoked the Muslims and it was a view unfamiliar to them; it was a impudent view in the prime basis of the deen, namely, the aqeedah. Thus they addressed themselves to refute it. A group called the Jabriyyah emerged; among the most famous of them was al-Jahm ibn Safwān. They said: man is compelled and he does not have free will, nor does he have the capability of creating his acts; he is just like a feather in the wind or like a piece of wood floating upon waves. Indeed, Allah (swt) creates the actions upon the hands of man. They said: if we say that man is the creator of his own acts, what follows is the limiting of Allah’s (swt) capability and (the implication) that it does not cover all things: that the servant is a partner of Allah’s (swt) in the formation of what is in this world. A single thing cannot be affected by two capabilities. If the capability of Allah (swt) created it, then man has no role in it, and if the capability of man created it then Allah (swt) has no role in it. It is impossible that part of it the result of the capability of Allah (swt) and another part is the result of the capability of the servant. Thus Allah (swt) is the Creator of the act of the servant, and it is according to His (swt) will that man performs an act. They opined that the acts of the servants occur only through Allah’s (swt) capability and that the servant has no influence whatsoever in it; man is merely the subject of what Allah (swt) conducts at his hands, he is compelled absolutely. He and the inanimates are equals, differing only in appearance. Thus did they proceed in the proof of their view, citing ayāt of the Quran to support it, like the saying of Allah (swt),

وَمَا تَشَاءُونَ إِلاَّ أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّه

“And you will not, except as Allah Wills.” [TMQ-Insān: 30],

And His (swt) saying,

وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ رَمَى

“You threw not, when you did threw, but it was Allah who threw” [TMQ-Anfāl: 17],

And His (swt) saying,

إِنَّكَ لاَ تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاء

“You do not guide whom you love (O Muhammad), but Allah guides whom He Wills” [TMQ-Qasas: 56],

and His (swt) saying,

وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

“And Allah has created you and your handiwork!” [TMQ-Sāāfāt: 96],

and His (swt) saying,

اللَّهُ خَالِقُ كُلِّ شَيْء

“Allah is the Creator of all things” [TMQ Zumar: 62].

They would interpret away the ayāt indicating the free will of the servant and his creation of acts. Accordingly, they said that the attributes of things that result from the action of the servant such as pleasure, hunger, courage, cutting and burning etc. are from Allah (swt).

Ahl ul-Sunnah wa‘l-Jama’ah (also) emerged and addressed themselves to refute the Mu’tazilah. Ahl ul-Sunnah said that the acts of the servants are all by the Will and Volition of Allah (swt). Will and volition, they said, mean the same thing, namely, an eternal attribute of al-Hayy [the Alive, i.e. Allah], which dictates the opting for the occurrence of one of two practicables at one specific time while the capability is uniform with regard to all. The acts of the servants are according to his ruling [hukm] - when He (swt) Wills something He says ‘Be!’ and it is – and His qadiyyah, that is, His qadā’, which is a denotation of the act plus conditions; Allah (swt) says,

فَقَضاهُنَّ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ

“So He completed [qadā] them as seven firmaments” [TMQ Fussilat: 12],

وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ

“Your Lord has decreed [qadā]” [TMQ-Isrā’: 23];

The intent of qadā’ here being the subject affected by the qadā’ not an attribute from amongst the attributes of Allah (swt). The act of the servant is according to the arrangement [taqdīr] of Allah (swt): the characterisation of every created entity with its own specification as regards goodness, badness, usefulness, harmfulness and the time and place that contain it, and the consequent punishment and reward. The intention here is to affirm the generality of the Will and Capability of Allah (swt) because all (things) are created by Allah (swt). (This dictates the Capability and the Will (of Allah) for no compulsion or imposition.) They said: if it is said that according to your view a kāfir is compelled in his kufr and a fāsiq is compelled in his fisq and thus their obligation to have imān and be obedient would not be valid, our reply is that Allah (swt) wanted from them kufr and fisq according to their own volition, thus there is no compulsion; this is just as (swt) foreknew their voluntary kufr and fisq, thus the incumbency of the impossible does not follow. About the acts of the servants, they said in response to the Mu’tazilah and the Jabriyyah: the servants have voluntary acts for which they are rewarded in the case of obedience and are punished in the case of disobedience. They explained how they termed it voluntary whilst holding that Allah (swt) is the sole creator and effector of acts; thus they said: the creator of the act of the servant is Allah (swt). The capability and will of the servant have a role in certain acts, such as the movement of striking, but not in others, such as the movement of (involuntary) trembling; Allah is the Creator of all things; the servant is an acquirer. They clairifed this and said: the directing by the servant of his capability and will to the act is acquisition [kasb] and the effecting by Allah (swt) of the act thereafter is creation. The same accomplishment is under the two capabilities but in two different directions. The act is accomplished by Allah (swt) in the direction of effecting and accomplished by the servant in the direction of acquisition. In other words, Allah (swt) has consistently created the act upon the capability and willing of the servant but not through the servant’s capability and will; this combination is acquisition. They evidenced their view with the same ayāt that the Jabriyyah cited to prove Allah’s (swt) creation of acts and His control on them, and they evidenced acquisition by the servant by the saying of Allah (swt),

جَزَاءً بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

“As a reward for what they used to do (of good deeds).” [TMQ-Sajdah: 17],

And His (swt) saying,

فَمَنْ شَاءَ فَلْيُؤْمِنْ وَمَنْ شَاءَ فَلْيَكْفُر

“Let him who will, believe, and let him who will, reject (it)” [TMQ-Kahf: 29],

And His (swt) saying,

لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ..

For It is what it earns, and upon it is what it earns.” [TMQ-Baqarah: 286].

They considered themselves as having repudiated the views of the Mu’tazilah and the Jabriyyah. In reality their view and that of the Jabriyyah is one and the same. Their notion of acquisition was a complete debacle. It is neither in accordance with the intellect since there is no rational proof for it, nor is it in accordance with the texts since there is no textual proof for it among the shar’i texts. It is no more that a failed attempt to reconcile the views of the Mu’tazilah and the Jabriyyah.

In summation, the issue of al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar was a major issue amongst the Mutakallimīn, and all of them focused their inquiry on the act of the servant and the attributes resulting therefrom, that is, the attributes which the servant effects in things as result of his actions. Their basis for the inquiry was the act of the servant and the attributes which he affects as result of his action: is it Allah (swt) who created both (the act and the attributes) or it the servant, and does this occur via the will of Allah (swt) or via the will of the servant? The cause which gave rise to this inquiry is the adoption of the issue of ‘al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar’ or ‘al-jabr wa ‘l-ikhtiyār or ‘hurriyat al-irādah’ from the Greek philosophy by the Mu’tazilah, and their discussion of it from a perspective that they deemed consistent with the attribute of Justice neccisitated upon Allah (swt). This led to the emergence of the Jabriyyah and Ahl ul-Sunnah to refute the views of the Mu’tazilah, which they did according to the same precepts and on the same basis. All of them discussed the issue from the perspective of the attributes of Allah (swt) not from the perspective of the subject alone. They applied the Will of Allah (swt) and His Capability to the act of the servant and to the attributes which the servant affects in things; their subject of inquiry became: are these through the capability and will of Allah (swt)  or are they via the capability and will of the servant?

Al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar is, thus, the acts of the servant and the attributes of things which man effects in things as a result of his action. Thus qadā’ is the act of the servants and qadar is the attributes of things. The fact that the qadā’ is the acts of the servants is evident from their discussion and divergence with regards to it, that is, their saying that the servant carries out the act through his own capability and will, and the saying of those who refuted them that the act is affected by the capability and will of Allah (swt), not the capability and will of the servant, and the saying of those who refuted both groups that the act of the servant is effected through the creation of the act by Allah (swt) at the time of the capability and will of the servant for the act, not by means of the capability and will of the servant. This indicates that the meaning of qadā’ is the acts of the servants. The fact the qadar is the attributes effected by the servant in things is evident from their discussion and divergence with regards to it: when they discussed what results from the acts of the servant, they discussed the attributes that he effects; thus they said: if we add starch to sugar and cook the twain, pudding results: is the taste and the colour of pudding of our creation or is it of the creation of Allah (swt)? Is the exiting of the rūh upon slaughter, the movement of a stone upon pushing, our vision upon opening our eyes, the breakage of a leg upon falling down and it health upon healing etc.: are all these of our creation or of the creation of Allah (swt)?

This discussion is a discussion of the attributes, a fact also indicated by their divergence regarding the resultants. Bishr ibn al-Mu’tamir, the chief of the Mutakallimīn of Baghdad, said, whatever results from our action is of our own creation. Thus if I opened the eye of a person and he saw a thing, then his sighting of the thing is my action because it is resultant from my action. Also the colour of the foodstuffs that we make and their taste and aroma are our actions. Similarly, pain, pleasure, health, lust, etc. are all from the action of man. Abu al-Hudhayl al-Allāf, one of the prominent Mu’atazilah, said, there is a difference between resultants: every thing that results from the action of man and whose process is known is from his action; otherwise it is not. Thus the pain which results from beating and the ascent of a stone when thrown upwards and the descent of it when thrown downwards, and the like are from the action of man. But colours, flavours, heat, coldness, humidity, hardness, cowardice, courage, hunger and satisfaction are all from the actions of Allah (swt). Al-Nadhām said that what man does is only the movement and thus whatever is not a movement is not from his action. Man does not perform movement except in himself; he does not perform it in others. Thus if one moved his hand this would be his action, but if he threw a stone and it went upwards or downwards, the movement of the stone it not from the action of man but from the action of Allah (swt), which means that He made it intrinsic in the stone to move if pushed by someone, and so forth. Thus the formation of colours, flavours, odours, pain and pleasure are not from the action of man because they are not movements. Thus this divergence with regards to the issue of causality indicates that in reality it is the controversy is regarding the attributes of things: are they from the action of man or are they from Allah (swt)?

The discussion thus and the controversy in this discussion is indeed in the attributes effected by man in things. Thus was the discussion carried out on one and the same topic and according to the same precepts by all of the Mutakallimīn. Due to the fact that the discussion on the resultants from actions, that is, on the attributes affected in things by man, was branchial, being built on the discussion of the acts of the servant; it was marginal in the controversy between the Mu’tazilah, Ahl ul-Sunnah and the Jabriyyah. The discussion over the act of the servant was predominant amongst the Mutakallimīn. Debate and discussion were focused on it more than they were on the attributes. Since al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar is one name of one referent, albeit a composite of two words which are amalgamated, one of them being a subordinate of the other, the discussion of the al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar later on focused more on the acts of the servant than it did on the attributes effected by man. The discussion on al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar continued and each came to understand it in a way different from the others. After the key scholars of the Mu’tazilah and the key scholars of Ahl ul-Sunnah came with their disciples and their followers; the discussion continued and was renewed in every era. Due to the diminution of the Mu’tazilah and the dominance of Ahl ul-Sunnah, the debate tilted to the views of Ahl ul-Sunnah. Debaters, who disagreed over al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar, continued to ascribe to it conceived meanings of their own, and to attempt to apply to it linguistic or shar’i terminology. Thus some of them said that al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar is one of the secrets of Allah that no one knows (its true meaning); others said that discussing al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar was absolutely impermissible because the Messenger prohibited this, evidencing this with the hadīth, “If qadar is mentioned, leave it”; others came to differentiate between al-qadā’ and al-qadar: they said that al-qadā’ was the general rulings in the general and the al-qadar was the specific rulings in the particulars and their details. Others said that al-qadā’ was the planning and al-qadar was the execution; according to this view Allah (swt) plans the act, that is, He draws it up, produces it design and thus proportions the act with is attributes, and this is al-qadar; He (swt) then executes the act and accomplishes it, and this is al-qadā’. Some others said that the meaning of qadar is taqdīr and the meaning of al-qadā’ is creation. Some considered the two words inseparable and said al-qadā’ and al-qadar are two associated matters which are inseparable because one of them represents the basis, namely the qadar and the other represents the building, namely the qadā’; anyone who seeks to separate them, in doing so seeks to cause the downfall of the building. Some others differentiated between them and said that al-qadā’ was one thing and al-qadar was another.

Thus the discussion continued on the issue of al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar as a specific entity, whether be it amongst those who treated them as separate or those who held them to be inseparable. Yet it had only one referent for all of them, irrespective of the interpretation of it, namely, the act of the servant with regard to its creation: is it created by Allah (swt) or is it created by the servant, or is it created by Allah (swt) at the same time the servant performs it? The discussion crystallised and focused on this referent and continued according to the same precepts. After this discussion began, the issue of al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar came to be classified as a topic of aqeedah. It was made as a sixth matter of aqeedah because it dealt with an issue pertaining to Allah (swt), with regard to His (swt) Creation of the acts and His (swt) Creation of the attributes of things, irrespective of whether the act or the attributes are good or evil.

It thus becomes evident that al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar considered as one term referring to one referent, or in their own words considered as ‘two concomitant matters’, never existed in the discussions of the Muslims except after the emergence of the Mutakallimin. It also becomes evident that there are only two viewpoints in this regard, that is, concerning al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar: first, freedom of choice, which is the viewpoint of the Mu’tazilah, and second, compulsion, which is the viewpoint of the Jabriyyah and Ahl-us-Sunnah, with the difference between them being only is the use of different conceptions and words. The Muslims settled on these two views and were diverted from the position of the Quran and the Hadīth and what the Sahābah understood from these, to a discussion of a new term: ‘al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar’ or ‘al-jabr wa ‘l-ikhtiyār or ‘hurriyat al-irādahand to a new referent: are the actions created by the servant and according to his will or are they created by Allah (swt) and according to His Will? Are the attributes that man effects in things from the action of the servant and his will or are they from Allah (swt)? After the presence of this discussion, the issue of al-qadā’ wa ‘l-qadar came to be included under the realm of aqeedah and was made the sixth matter of aqeedah.