Does God choose to guide people or do we have free will?
“I did not create Jinn and Men except that they may worship me” [Qur’an 51:56].
Also in a Hadith, generally cited by the Sufis, Allah says, “I was a hidden treasure and wished to be known, so I created the people to know me and to worship me”.
Upon this recognition depends our chance to enter the paradise. Failing to recognize Allah would bring eternal damnation and the hellfire. This is very important to Allah. He does not like to be ignored and has no mercy on those who do so. This belief is not exclusive to Islam. The Bible also presents a vengeful and a jealous God.
The problem is that being able to pass this test of faith and to gain admittance to paradise is not in our hand. It is again Allah who chooses those whom he pleases to guide and lead astray those whom he wants.
In one verse, the Qur’an affirms that if Allah so willed, he could certainly have brought every soul its true guidance. But that won’t happen as he makes it clear that he does not want to guide everyone and vows to “fill the Hell with Jinns and men all together.”
” If We had so willed, We could certainly have brought every soul its true guidance: but the Word from Me will come true, “I will fill Hell with Jinns and men all together.”(Q.32.13)
The first question that comes to mind is “why”? Why should a loving God not guide his own children (or as Muslims put it “slaves”)? Why should he leave them to themselves and then come upon them with such a wrath filling the Hell with those whom he purposefully did not guide? This defies logic.
In response Muslims say that we have free will to accept God or reject him. But this is not what the above verse is saying. As this verse clearly explains, if Allah wanted to guide people, he certainly could have done it. Yet, he decided not to guide some and then fill the Hell with all those who he did not guide.
This verse tells that human beings have no control over being guided at all. It all depends on God’s pleasure or whim.
Some verses in the Qur’an indicate that even if one wants to be guided, he cannot, because Allah has sealed his heart.
”….Such are men whose hearts Allah has sealed.” (Q.47.16)
This is reminiscent of the bargaining of Moses with Pharaoh for the release of the Israelites. Each time Pharaoh conceded and let Moses take away the Jews, God intervened and “made his heart stubborn” then he kept sending a new calamity to the poor people of Egypt who had nothing to do with Pharaohs decisions, until Pharaoh accepted the departure of the Jews, but again God made his heart stubborn and sent upon the wretched innocent people, another calamity.
In another verse Allah curses his creatures and instead of giving them insight makes them blind and deaf.
”Such are the men whom Allah has cursed for He has made them deaf and blinded their sight.” (Q47.23)
This behavior is not befitting of the creator of this universe. Even if these people whom Allah chose to mislead, did something wrong why he, instead of opening their hearts should seal them? Why he made them deaf and blind, instead of giving them sight and hearing and then punish them? Is this justice? What would you say of a king that cuts the feet of his subjects and orders them to run and then burns them for not running. Wouldn’t you say such a king is a psychopath? Would the almighty God act like a psychopath?
The riddle becomes more confusing when in the next verse the responsibility is shifted on the people themselves who “lock” their own hearts!
“Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Qur’an, or are their hearts locked up by them?” (Q.47.24)
Is it God that seals the hearts of the people or they do it themselves? Obviously these two statements don’t add up.
Sometimes the Qur’an contradicts itself in the same verse.
“This is an admonition: whosoever will, let him take a path to his Lord. But ye will not, except as Allah wills … He will admit to his mercy whom He wills. But the wrongdoers – for them has he prepared a grievous penalty.” (Q.76:29-31)
The first part of this verse gives the idea that people have free will to choose between taking the path or not. Then immediately that is contradicted and it says that Allah “will admit to his mercy whom HE wills.” Either we choose to be guided or Allah chooses. Only one of these statements can be true.
The next question is how can Allah punish people with a “grievous penalty” if He has chosen not to guide them?
If the choice of being guided is made by us, then the verse 32:13, 47:16 and 47:23 are wrong. But if they are right and indeed it is Allah who chooses to guide anyone that he pleases, then there is a tremendous injustice in the way Allah deals with his servants. If being guided or not entirely depends on Allah’s will, then what is our fault? He assigned to us our destiny and he cannot punish us for what he has willed for us. This is clearly unjust, which belies another claim of the Qur’an that says Allah is a just god.
”… And Allah means no injustice to any of His creatures.”(Q.3.108)
Why a god who is able to guide people chooses to lead them astray, and then fill the Hell with those whom he himself has misled?
Muslims criticize the Christians for the irrationality of their belief in trinity. However with some degree of imagination, one can make sense of this Christian dogma. Yet with no stretch of imagination one can make any sense of this puzzle.
By. Ali Sina