Question: Since good and evil are from Allah, what is the place of iradah al-juz’iyyah (partial will)?
Mind cannot understand some of the principles of the religion. If it grasped them, there would be no need for prophets.
It is Allahu ta’ala who creates the deeds and actions of humans, but He does not force humans to do deeds. To call them to account for something they were forced to do would be injustice. However, Allahu ta’ala never acts unjustly.
It is obvious that the actions of humans are not done involuntarily like tremulous motions. Since humans do not have full will and since they are not fully compelled either, their actions come into existence between these two.
The Creator of everything and every action of humans, whether good or evil, is Allahu ta’ala. But He has bestowed partial will upon humans. Partial will emerges from man, but it cannot be said that man has created it. Allahu ta’ala has made man’s will power a cause to create his optional deeds. He can create them even if this condition does not exist, but it is His custom to create with this condition, with this cause. He suspends His custom of causation for His prophets and dear servants and creates something without a cause. As a matter of fact, His creation in this way has been witnessed many times.
It is true that actions of human beings materialize according to the Decree given in the eternal past but, for them to materialize, human beings use their will power first. In other words, a person uses his option of selection and selects and wants to do something or chooses not to do something.
The meaning of the eternal Decree is that Allahu ta’ala knew and willed what man would will. He wrote it in al-Lawh al-Mahfuz. Since this is clearly the case, there is no problem of being forced to do anything.
For example, the times when the sun will rise and set in a year are calculated and written on charts and timetables. The sun rises and sets at those times written on charts and timetables. However, it does not rise or set at those times because they were written beforehand so. Their having been written does not affect its rising or setting.
Similarly, Allahu ta’ala’s knowing with His eternal knowledge whether humans will sin or do good deeds is not forceful interference in the actions of humans.
If someone knows what another person will do during a given day and decrees that he should perform those actions and writes all his knowledge on a piece of paper, the person who will perform those actions cannot claim that he is forced to do them. He cannot complain by saying, “You knew what I was going to do. You wanted me to do those actions. You even wrote them on a piece of paper. Therefore, it is you who did these actions.” For he has done all the actions by using his own will power and he himself did them, not because the other knew them and wanted him to perform them and wrote them on a piece of paper.
Similarly, Allahu ta’ala’s knowledge and decree and His writing them in al-Lawh al-mahfuz does not constitute coercion over His creatures. Yes, Allahu ta’ala knew in the eternal past that a certain person would do a certain action and therefore decreed that he should do those actions and wrote it in al-Lawh al-mahfuz. His knowledge in eternal past depends on the actions that are carried out by the person using his limited will power. So the person’s actions materialize through His knowledge, will, and creation. If a person did not use his will power, Allahu ta’ala would have known in eternal past that he would not use his will power and thus He would not have decreed and would not have created.
If human beings did not have their will power and if their actions were only created by the will of Allahu ta’ala, then one could say that human beings were forced in their actions.
If man, using his partial will, wills goodness to be created, he will earn rewards. If he wills evil to be created, he will be sinful. If he sins, he will be punished in return for it. If he does a good deed, he will be rewarded for it. That is, Allahu ta’ala does not make anyone sin by force.
Man does not create the deeds he does by using his partial will. The Creator of these deeds is Allahu ta’ala, the Creator of good and evil.
The option of man
Question: What is meant by the statement “Man’s option (ikhtiyar) is weak”?
Ikhtiyar means liking, choosing something. When a person is to do an action, first he likes, chooses, wills, and wants it. Then he does it. Therefore, man is not forced to do an action. He does it if he wants to and does not do it if he does not want to. Hadrat Imam-i Rabbani states: “If it is said that man’s ikhtiyar is weaker than Allahu ta’ala’s ikhtiyar, it is right. If it is meant that it is not sufficient to observe the commandments and prohibitions, it is wrong because humans have not been commanded to do anything they are incapable of” (Vol. 1, Letter 266).