The Difference between Fate and Destiny; and which One do we Control?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The topic of the Qadr has long been one which when people dive deep into go astray. Hence the only way for the servant of Allah to be successful regarding it is to simply have faith in it; as it is from the secrets of Allah, by which He tests people. In this discussion I’d like to address some of the principles which have caused some people to become atheists, or even stop doing actions with the belief that their place in the Hereafter has already been decided, so why bother. Moreover, another group of people go to another extreme saying the Qadr justifies their evil actions. All of these doubts will be refuted in detail by the time you get to the end of this page.

The Qadr of Allah or in this case we will use the word fate ,fate as used by the English speakers is that which has been predetermined and doesn’t change. In other words this is what has been written in the Preserved Tablet with Allah;  “ Al-Lahwul Mahfuth”  As Muslims we believe that everything written in the Preserved Tablet which includes,  one’s happiness, sadness, one’s life and death, and one’s provisions and life span doesn’t and will not change. However, that which is written and recorded with Angels will and can change based on the servants’ actions. Therefore, we can refer to this as the destiny. One’s destiny which includes, happiness, sadness, life, death, provisions and life expectancy can be rewritten.

What Allah wrote in the Preserved Tablet wont change as that is connected to His Knowledge, and what He knows cannot be changed; as everything has been written until the Last Day.  If what Allah wrote with Himself could change then this would mean His awareness of things changes; hence that would imply a deficiency in Allah’s Ilm.

Abu Hazm said: “ Allah knew everything before it was written and before creation came about. The creation of Allah has been preceded by Allah’s knowledge and His pen.[1]

Abu Huraira:(radi Allahu anhu) narrated :

I said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! I am a young man and I am afraid that I may commit illegal sexual intercourse and I cannot afford to marry.” He kept silent, and then repeated my question once again, but he kept silent. I said the same (for the third time) and he remained silent. Then repeated my question (for the fourth time), and only then the Prophet said, “O Abu Huraira! The pen has dried after writing what you are going to confront. So (it does not matter whether you) get yourself castrated or not.”[2]

All of these matters are related to the fate. Now the matters of the destiny are recorded with Allah Angels and are divided in 2 categories;

1-Prior . this is what agrees with what Allah has written in the Al-Lahwul Mahfuth and is also referred to as the inescapable fate. (القضاء المبرم )

2- Later- This is written by the Angels after the person does an action. These actions aren’t final and can be altered. They are referred to as the connected destiny. (القضاء المعلق )

For example, it’s said to the Angel. Umar’s will live for 100 years provided that he maintains family ties otherwise he will die at the age of 60. Both of these things are written with the angels. However only one will occur. Whether or not if Umar will maintain the ties of kinship or not is already known to Allah, but not to the Angels.

Consequently, there are 4 major differences between fate and destiny.

  1. Fate has been recorded with the pen and destiny is recorded by the angels.
  2. Fate has been determined before creation and destiny happens later on.
  3. Fate is based on Allah’s knowledge which doesn’t change and destiny is based on the knowledge of the angels which can change.
  4. Fate has to happen as written or not , but this is based on a condition that has already been prerecorded.

There is an issue about the tablet the angels record our deeds in. Some say only certain things can be erased while others differ and say everything can be erased, and this is the most correct view. This is based on the verse. He says:

“Allah eliminates and confirms what He wills, and with Him is the Master Record.” [3]

Salman al-Farisi reported God’s messenger as saying, “Nothing but supplication averts the decree, and nothing but righteousness increases life.” [4]

The word “ Decree “ in this hadith is general, thus implies everything.

Assim ibn Abi An-Najood said: “Our companions used to say Allah removes things as He wills through supplication.”[5]

Another evidence of the possibility of change is the Dua the Salaf used to make and hence we should follow their footsteps by learning it and saying it also.

اللَّهُمَّ إنْ كُنْتَ كَتَبْتَنا أَشْقِيَاءَ فامْحُنا وَاكْتُبْنا سُعَدَاءَ ، وَإِنْ كُنْتَ كَتَبْتَنا سُعَدَاءَ فَأَثْبَتْنَا ، فَإِنَّك تَمْحُو مَا تَشَاءُ وَتَثْبُت وَعِنْدَك أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ .

Oh Allah if You have written us among those miserable then erase it and write us about the happy and if You have recorded us among the happy then leave it as it is. Without a doubt You erase what You will and leave written what you will as You have the Preserved Tablet.[6]

 Taken from ( قواعد أهل الأثر في الإيمان بالقدر ) by Shaykh Dr. Ahmed An-Najjar pg 68-81.

Prepared and arranged by

Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle

Doha, Qatar ©

The Argument between Adam and Moosa : The Abu Aaliyah Gazette

[1] Ibn Battah , Al-Ibannah 2/229

[2] Al-Bukhari 5076

[3] Quran 13:39

[4] At-Tirmithi 2139, graded as being Hasan by Imam At-Tirmithi

[5] Ibn Battah , Al-Ibannah (2/35)

[6] Tafsir At-Tabari vol 16/pg 481

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