Belief In Divine Will & Predestination
(Qada Wa Qadr)
How to conform our wishes to Allah's will
The simple answer is that first we have to know what is Allah’s will. This can obviously be learned by reading the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. As we learn them we will begin to realize if a thought occurs to us from within our own selves is in conformance to the will of Allah ﷻ or in opposition to it. However, there is also a catch! Every wish of our that agrees to what we generally accept, as Allah’s will (His teachings) does not mean that it is truly His Will at that moment. This fact can be better understood from an account of one of the earliest saints in Islam named Owais Al Qarni (radiAllahu anhu).
Owais (r.a) was living in Yemen with his mother who was very old as well as blind. She had no one to take care of her except Owais (r.a). He was very pious and heard about a man name Muhammad ﷺ in Yathrib (old name of Madinah), who claimed to be a Prophet of Allah ﷻ and was preaching the message of Islam. This appealed to him a lot and he desired and wished to join him in his struggle and become one of his companions. He asked permission from His mother who refused for him to leave her but allowed him to go to Yathrib (where Prophet was at that time) meet him in person and come back without any delays. After promising his mother, he reached the town only to find out that the Prophet ﷺ was away from home. As per promise he immediately left the town and went back to Yemen. The Prophet ﷺ after returning sensed that this honored person had come by. He prayed abundant blessings for him and told his companions how great this man is for serving his mother and that they should honor him when he returns after his death. After the Prophet passed away, Owais (r.a) came to Madinah and was honored by the Prophet’s companions. Despite the fact that he never met the Prophet ﷻ yet his honor was greater in the sight of Allah ﷻ than those who became the Prophet’s companions. The moral of this story is that what could be better virtue than joining a final Messenger of Allah ﷻ sent for humankind, be part of his struggles and help the religion of Allah ﷻ. However, what was apparent virtue was not a real virtue. Indeed Allah’s will was in Owais (r.a) staying with his mother and taking care of her rather than joining the Prophet ﷺ and his companions, even though Quran apparently showers abundant praises on those who help Allah ﷻ and His Messenger ﷺ. The Prophet’s prayers and honor for him was a confirmation of this man’s blessed choice!
Virtues are virtues for all times as taught to us by Allah ﷻ, but what is the real virtue to follow at the very moment is what will determine if your wish is in accordance to the will of Allah ﷻ or no and that is the meaning of His words: “As it is, man [often] prays (and wishes) for things that are bad as if he were praying for something that is good: for man is prone to be hasty [in his judgments].” The hastiness that Allah ﷻ speaks about is part of the weaknesses in human nature that He created us with. Therefore, one has to be careful, as there is a very thin line sometimes between Allah’s Will and our wishes. Our desires may overlook His actual will for the moment, due to it not agreeing to our wishes. This is where usually the very religious people (and even non-practicing ones) stumble when following religious commandments.
Another good example is an incident from life of Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Maryam) (alaihi salaam). One day satan came to Isa (a.s) and ordered him to utter “la ilaha ill-Allah (there is no god but Allah)”. To which Isa (a.s) replied, “No doubt what you said is the truth but why should I do as you want me to?” This is an internal distinction that Allah ﷻ blesses the believers with to distinguish between true thoughts versus false ones, as long as we maintain being conscious of Him in all situations. The Quran reminds the believers to be wary of such a mindset that follows wishes while thinking they are doing everything in accordance to Allah’s will: “Say: ‘Shall We tell you the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds. Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good by their deeds.’” They thought their actions were according to Quran while actually they were following their desires.
Taqwa (consciousness) assists believers in determining whether their wishes are truly in accordance to the will of Allah ﷻ or no, because wishes emerge from our desires which are part of nafs (evil inclinations of soul). It is due to this that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ after returning from the battle said to his companions: “You have returned from jihad asghar (the minor struggle) to the jihad akbar (the major struggle)”, calling the act of opposing the nafs as a major jihad (struggle). Thus our wishes should always be guided by reason, revelation and our decision should be based on consciousness of Allah ﷻ, then by His will, our faith will not falter in determining if our wishes are in accordance to Allah’s will or no.
 Al Quran 17:11 – Asad Translation
 Recorded in Ihya Ulum id Deen of Imam Ghazzali.
 Al Quran 18:103-104 - Asad Translation.
 Consciousness and awareness of the fact that Allah ﷻ is watching one and is present at all times.
 Al-Bayhaqi - al-Zuhd al-Kabir.