Conscious or coerced: Divine decree in Islam
This unit explores a difficult question brought up by Muslim youth and adults alike: if God has knowledge of all things and we are subject to His will and power, then how do we have free will? Students will explore the Qur’anic discourse on predestination and free will to equip them with the tools to navigate and resolve this apparent paradox.
How to use Yaqeen Curriculum
Unit overview and learning objectives
Unit at a glance
Perceiving tension in the qadar doctrine
Thinkers from various faith traditions and philosophies have been vexed by the apparent paradox that humans can have free will when God has already decreed our fate. Unlike others who have shared the same concerns, Islam has not only oﬀered a logical explanation, but one that evokes calmness and serenity in the hearts of its believers. In this lesson, students will explore this explanation and the role of Islamic theology in addressing questions about God.
Understanding qadar: the free will debate
Do we have free will or is everything predetermined? In this lesson, students will recognize that the debates around divine decree are dialectical in nature: opinions emerged through conversations over time that sought to draw nearer to the truth. By exploring some of the social and historical factors that have shaped the debates, students will be able to better understand the various opinions that emerged regarding divine decree and free will.
Acquiring our actions
In this lesson, students will be introduced to the concept of acquisition (kasb or ikitsab), a doctrine that emerged to explain the paradox between divine decree and free will. Students will also recognize the limitations of human language when speaking about God, and the role of theology to help express and resolve apparent tensions they encounter in the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Psycho-spiritual benefits of the qadar doctrine
To wrap up this unit, students will shift their attention from the mind and reﬂect on the state of their inner lives. Students will learn to appreciate how deeply internalizing their belief in al-qadaa’ wal-qadar can nourish their spiritual psyches and, consequently, transform their behavior for the better.
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