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.
Lesson 1: 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.
Lesson 2: 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.
Lesson 3: 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.
Lesson 4: 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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The case for Allah’s existence
Is Allah real? How do we know God exists? Belief in God and the quest for existential truth is not always easy, especially in a social environment where faith is derided as superstition, wishful thinking, or even a dangerous fantasy. This unit begins by challenging this mindset before exploring a number of arguments that establish the existence of God in a way that speaks to both the heart and mind.
Why does God ask to be worshipped? (Coming soon)
This unit is in the process of being updated. Stay tuned!
The proofs of prophethood
Believing in prophets and messengers is a key pillar of faith in Islam. This unit unpacks the nature and necessity of these individuals by first exploring the ethical need for guidance facilitated by prophets. Students then go on to examine two types of proofs of prophethood in detail: mind-based or cognitive proofs (e.g., miracles) and heart-based proofs (e.g., prophetic character traits).
Qur’an: The living literary miracle
The greatest miracle in Islam is the Qur’an. It is divine in nature and irreplicable, having been preserved over millennia. This unit will guide students through some major concepts that illustrate the Qur’an’s miraculous nature and why it is the word of God. By the end of the unit, students will find that the Qur’an’s revelation and compilation fit the highest markers of historical accuracy.
How can evil coexist with a merciful God?
The ‘problem of evil’ is a major point of contention in philosophical and religious circles. To address the topic, this unit first clarifies the terms of the debate by explaining that human knowledge can never encompass the reality of ‘goodness’ or ‘evil.’ It then surveys how Islamic theodicies have responded to the problem of evil. The unit concludes by inviting students to explore how the prophetic model allows them to find meaning and be inspired to act positively in a world where ‘evil’ exists.