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God Does What He Wills

God says:

{Indeed your Lord is the Doer of what He wills} (11: 107)

We know that God created everything. Allah says:

{Allah is the Creator of all things.} (39: 62 and 13: 16)

He says:

{And He created all things and determined them in full determination.} (25: 2)

Therefore, everything that takes place in the universe is according to His decree.

People have a right to ask: Does Allah really want from those of us who do wrong that we do wrong?

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Does He want from us our acts of oppression and injustice?

Is He pleased with these things, and is He pleased when some of us reject Him or disbelieve in Him?

The answer to this is that Allah is not pleased with evil and with unbelief.

When we speak of the will of God, there are two aspects to it.

One is the aspect of what He brings about in Creation – what He decrees in His infinite wisdom to take place.

The other is what He commands of us to carry out of our own freewill and what He is pleased with.

The Will of God

This attribute of Allah is discussed in many verses of the Quran. Each of the two aspects to Allah’s will are addressed by different verses.

Allah says:

{Indeed your Lord is the Doer of what He wills} (11: 107)

{(He is the) Doer of what He wills.} (85: 16)

Here Allah is referring to His existential, creative will. It is existential, since it means that everything in existence occurs because Allah wills it to be.

The other aspect of Allah’s will is His prescriptive or legislative will.

This is His will with respect to what He commands us to carry out and prohibits us from doing. This is referred to in verse like:

{Allah wants ease for you and does not want difficulty for you.} (2: 185)

{They want the provisions of the world, while Allah wants the Hereafter.} (8: 67)

Allah’s existential will is general and absolute. Nothing in existence ever happens that is contrary to it.

Whatever Allah wills must come to pass. Whatever He does not will to be will never happen. Allah says:

{But you will not, except as Allah wills; for Allah is full of Knowledge and Wisdom.} (76: 30)

By contrast, his prescriptive, legislative will, refers to what God loves and what He commands from us.

In other words, it constitutes what He wants and is pleased with the Law, which He set forth in the Quran and Sunnah.

For instance, Allah commands us to: “establish prayer“.

This is a religious injunction for prayer to be established. Allah wants us to carry it out.

However, Allah has made it so people act according to their own freewill. Some of them will obey God and establish prayer while others will disobey Him and refuse to do so.

Therefore, Allah’s legislative will that people carry out their prayers might or might not take place in any given instance.

Though everything that takes place in creation is by Allah’s decree, He does not love everything that takes place.

Allah has given us free will to believe in him or disbelieve. Consequently, it is His will that some people will choose to believe in Him and that others will choose not to.

Therefore, we can rightly say about Abu Lahab that Allah willed for him to die an unbeliever, since his death upon unbelief is confirmed to us by the Quran.

This is with reference to Allah’s existential will. In other words, Abu Lahab’s unbelief is what God willed to actually take place in Creation according to His eternal decree.

At the same time, we can say that Allah wants from an unbeliever to believe in Him, and this command to believe was addressed to Abu Lahab as much as to anyone else. In this case, we are talking about Allah’s prescriptive, legislative will.

We cannot say that it is Allah’s will that all people on Earth will in actually believe, since He says:

{If it had been your Lord’s will, they would all have believed,- all who are on Earth! Would you (O Muhammad) then compel people, against their will, to believe!} (10: 99)

However, with respect to Allah’s legislative will, we can say that Allah wills from each and every person to believe, meaning that Allah commands belief from each and every person.

Allah’s existential will is synonymous with what actually takes place in existence, while His legislative will is synonymous with what He enjoins upon us and commands us to do.

Both aspects of Allah’s will come together in the person of a believer, for indeed Allah has willed for that person to believe with respect to both His predetermined, existential will as well as His prescriptive, legislative will.

These two aspects of Allah’s will part company with respect to an unbeliever – like Abu Lahab – for indeed Allah did not will for him to believe. Abu Lahab’s disbelief was in accordance with Allah’s determination.

All the same, Allah, in accordance with His prescriptive, legislative will, Allah had commanded Abu Lahab to believe.

And Allah knows best.

Republished from Islam Today.

About Sheikh `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Naser al-Barrak
Former Professor at Al-Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University