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Written by Ayman

Many people in the past and probably each one of us have asked this question at one point or another. The question is whether human beings are predestined or possess free will. The answer to this question could have profound consequences on how we approach this life and indeed on the very meaning of life. This question has perplexed people and has been on their mind since inhabiting this earth. I believe that, with The God's help, we can use the Quran to shed light on this issue and get closer to the truth.

 

INTRODUCTION

Like most people, I too have been thinking about the question of free will and predestination for a long time. A step forward came when something about verses 18:23-24 made me pause:

Do not say to something, I am doing this tomorrow. Except if The God wills, and remember/mention your Lord if you forget, and say: "Perhaps my Lord guides me to what is nearer in rationality" [18:23-24]

The reason why those verses made me pause is that although I have read them many times in the past, I suddenly realized that, along with most of the Muslims, Sunnis, and Shia in the world, I have not been saying what verse 18:24 is instructing me to say.

What we have been saying about our future actions is "if The God Willed" (In sha'a Allah) instead of "except if The God wills (Illa an yasha'a Allah) and perhaps my Lord guides me to what is nearer in rationality."

Now on the surface, some might see this as a subtle difference that is immaterial. However, from my experience, the language of the Quran is logically precise and there are in fact significant differences between the two sayings:

Linguistically, one is in the past tense while the other is in the present tense.


Logically speaking, one is a conditional proposition while the other is an exception proposition.

Based on this initial observation, I examined the Quranic verses that contain the word "sha'a" or any of its derivatives as relating to The God's will. I specifically started to look at the logical structure of the verses and noted that the word "sha'a" and its derivatives are always accompanied by specific logical propositions.

Interestingly, a distinct pattern started to emerge, but at the same time a problem cropped up when attempting to describe this pattern in English. Clearly distinct logical Arabic propositions were rendered indistinct in English, and were all generally translated by different interpreters as hypothetical IF statements. Unlike the logically precise Arabic of the Quran, English has no easy means of distinguishing a hypothetical IF-condition from a counterfactual IF-condition. Here is an example of each:

Hypothetical conditional example (IF statement in English): I don't know whether or not x occurred, but if x occurred/occurs, then y will occur.

Counterfactual conditional example: I know that x did not occur, but if x had occurred, then y would have occurred.

The most efficient way to overcome this hurdle was to deploy the Arabic logical propositions "as-is" from the Quran for propositions for which no English equivalent was available instead of trying to translate them and perhaps lose the distinct meaning in the process. The different types of logical propositions associated with the various forms of "sha'a" are described in the following section, including the past tense and future tense occurrences of those propositions.

 

LOGICAL ANALYSIS OF VERSES RELATING TO THE GOD'S WILL

Seven distinct types of logical propositions are associated with the various forms of The God "sha'a/yasha'a" (willed/wills) were found:

 

1. "IN": Hypothetical Conditional

Logic: I don't know whether or not x occurred, but if x occurred/occurs, then y will occur.

Those are equivalent to the English IF conditional. The "IN" or "IThA" propositions indicate that the sha'a decision x is uncertain, therefore the outcome y or its complement y' are also uncertain. In this case, we have no idea about which outcome, y or y' (not y) will result. Since the "IN" and "IThA" propositions are equivalent to the English IF proposition, I will use the translation directly.

 

PAST TENSE EXAMPLES:

The God might remove what is inflicting you, enrich you, make you secure, and make you victorious (See 6:41, 9:28, 12:99, 25:10, 48:27)

But (only) Him you call, so He removes/uncovers what you call for, IF He willed, and you forget what you share/take as partners (with The God). [6:41]

We can see that both y and y' are uncertain and we don't know which outcome will happen. In this case, y = "The God removes what you call for" and equally possible is y' = "The God doesn't remove what you call for".

The God might bring punishment to you (see 11:33)

He said: "But The God brings it to you, IF He willed and you are not disabling/frustrating." [11:33]

In this case, y = "The God brings it (punishment) to you" and equally possible is y' = "The God doesn't bring it (punishment) to you".

The God might take the inspiration/transmission away from the Prophet (see 17:86)

And IF We willed We will take away/eliminate what We inspired/transmitted to you, then you do not find for you with it against Us a guardian/protector. [17:86]

y = "The God takes the inspiration/transmission from you (the Prophet)" and equally possible is y' = "The God doesn't take the inspiration/transmission from you (the Prophet)".

The God might make me righteous or patient

This particular proposition is distinctive because relating to righteousness and patience I couldn't find it anywhere in the Quran spoken directly by The God in the past tense. In all past tense occurrences, it is people who said this proposition as we see in 18:69, 28:27, and 37:102:

He said: "That I, I want, that I marry you to one of my two daughters these, on that you hire me yourself for eight debates (years), so if you completed ten, so it is from you, and I do not want to make hardship/difficulty on you, you will find me, IF The God willed from the correct/righteous." [28:27]

He Said: "You will find me IF The God willed patient, and I will not disobey from you an order/command." [18:69]

So when he reached the struggle/endeavor with him, he said: "My son, I see/understand in the sleep/dream that I sacrifice you, so look/wonder about/consider what you see/understand." He said: "You my father, make/do what you are being ordered/commanded, so you will find me, IF The God willed from the patient." [37:102]

So here we have people who have chosen a certain path and are hoping that other people (who have no control over their choice) will find the outcome of this choice favorable (righteousness or patience).

y = "The outcome of my actions will be that I will be righteous/patient" and equally possible is y' = "The outcome of my actions will be that I will not be righteous/patient".

The God might have made us (the descendants of Israel) guided

They said: "Call for us your Lord so He clarifies to us what it is, that the cows looked alike/are unverifiable, to us and we IF The God willed are guided." [2:70]

The only occurrence in the Quran where the "IN" logical operator is used with "sha'a" as related to guidance is in verse 2:70. Moreover, "sha'a" (willed) is in the past tense. Note however, that it is not The God or any of the messengers who say this statement. It is the descendants of Israel who argued with Moses when they were commanded to slaughter a cow. Compare this to what Moses said, for example, in 26:62 and 28:22:

He (Moses) said: "No but truly with me is my Lord, He will guide me." [26:62]

And when he (Moses) aimed/turned towards Madyan, he said: "Perhaps my Lord guides me to the straightness road." [28:22]

Also look at what Abraham said in 6:79, 26:78, 37:99, 43:27:

When he saw the moon rising, he said, "Maybe this is my Lord! Unless my Lord guides me, I will surely be one of the stray people" [6:79]

When it comes to guidance, unlike the descendents of Israel, both Abraham and Moses, did not say "in sha'a Allah" (If The God willed). The God's messengers probably knew better. However, I will wait until I gather more evidence before making any conclusions, so I ask the reader to bear with me while we continue the analysis.

 

PRESENT TENSE EXAMPLES:

The God may do away with or wipe off people (see 4:133, 6:133, 14:19, 34:9, 35:16)

And your Lord, The Rich, The Owner of Mercy, IF He wills He wipes you off, and makes a successor/leader from after you, what He wills, as He created you from another nation's descendants. [6:133]

We can see that both y and y' are uncertain and we don't know which action The God is going to take. In this case, y = "The God wipes you off" and equally possible is y' = "The God doesn't wipe you off". The use of the present tense may indicate that the action that The God will take is not predestined.

The God may have mercy on or torture you

Your Lord is more knowledgeable of you, IF He wills He has mercy upon you, and IF He wills He tortures you, and We did not send you a guardian/protector/keeper on them. [17:54]

In this case, action y = "The God has mercy on you" and equally possible is y' = "The God tortures you". This particular verse's use of "IN" is distinct in that both y and y' are stated.

The God may drown people or make the wind stop

And if We will We drown/sink them, so (there be) no cries for help/assistances for them, and nor they be rescued/saved. [36:43]

If He wills He stops/quietens the wind/breeze, so they continue/remain still/fixed in place on its back/surface, that truly in that (are) evidences/signs to every/each patient/endurer, thankful/grateful. [42:33]

In this case, action y = "The God stops the wind/drowns them" and equally possible is y' = "The God doesn't stop the wind/doesn't drown them".

 

2. "LW": Counterfactual Conditional:

Logic: I know that x did not occur, but if x had occurred, then y would have occurred.

The LW proposition excludes a specific outcome from the set of all possible outcomes. In other words, the only possible outcome is y' (not y). Appropriately, this form of logic excludes the outcome without excluding the fact that The God could have made this outcome possible.

 

PAST TENSE EXAMPLES:

The God did not make their hearing and sight go away and the shade motionless (see 2:20, 25:45)

Do you not see to your Lord how He extended/spread the shade? And LW He willed, He would have made it still/motionless, then We made/put the sun on it as a proof/evidence. [25:45]

In this example, we see that the counterfactual y = "the shade would be made still" while the actual is y' = "The shade is not still".

We are certain that outcome y will not occur because of the use of the counterfactual conditional. The use of the past tense indicates that the exclusion of the counterfactual outcome from the set of possible outcomes has already been decided by The God in the past (i.e. it is predestined).

The God did not cause believers/those who have faith hardship/destruction (see 2:220, 4:90, 7:155):

...and LW The God willed, He would have empowered them on you, so they would have fought/killed you ...[4:90]

In this case, y = "He would have empowered them on you" while the actual is y' = "He didn't empower them on you."

People are not all guided, fight among themselves, and will not be one nation (see 2:253, 5:48, 6:35, 6:149, 10:99, 11:118, 13:31, 16:9, 16:93, 32:13, 42:8)

...and LW The God willed He would have gathered/collected them on the guidance, so do not be from the ignorant/lowly [6:35]

In this example, y = "The God would have gathered everybody on the guidance" while the actual is y' = "not everybody is on the guidance".

It is predestined that not all people will be guided. This is seen in the use of the "LW" counterfactual conditional with the past tense to exclude the outcome that everybody will be guided from the set of possible outcomes.

...and LW The God willed, He would have made you one nation, but to test you in what He gave you, so race/surpass to the good deeds, to God is your return altogether, so He informs you with what you were differing/disagreeing in [5:48]

Here y = "The God would have made us one nation" while the actual is y' = "we are not one nation."

The use of the past tense here indicates that The God excluded this outcome in the past and that even trying to unify all of humanity under one nation is in vain and goes against The God's natural system.

People will take partners with the God (see 6:107, 6:148, 16:35, 43:20)

And LW The God willed, they would not have shared/taken partners (with The God), and We did not make you a protector/observer on them, and you are not on them a guardian. [6:107]

y = "Nobody would have taken partners (with The God)" while the actual is y' = "they took partners with The God."

Interestingly, in the hereafter, the people who took partners acknowledge the fact that the outcome for them specifically already unfolded (see 6:148 and 16:35). While those who are still living in this low life are called liars for doing the same (see 43:20) since they still have a chance to take a different path that may lead to a different outcome. Again, the significance of this will be discussed in more details later after gathering all the evidence.

People who take partners with The God will fabricate and follow religious lies (see 6:112, 6:137)

And like that their partners (with The God) decorated/beautified to many of the takers of partners (with The God) killing/murdering their children, to make them be destroyed/perished, and to confuse/mix on them their religion, and LW The God willed they would not have done it, so leave them, and what they are fabricating [6:137]

y = "Nobody would fabricate religious lies" while the actual is y' = "people who take partners (with The God) will fabricate religious lies."

As we can see, it is predestined and thus inevitable that those who take partners (prophets, idols, mullahs, clerics, mystics, etc.) with The God will fabricate religious lies. So no one should be surprised by the abundance of religious lies such as Hadiths.

The Quran was recited on the Prophet (see 10:16)

Say: "LW God willed I would not (have) read/recited it on you, and He would not (have) informed you of it. I had stayed/remained amongst you a life time from before it, so do you not reason/understand?" [10:16]

y = "The Quran wouldn't have been recited on the Prophet" while the actual is y' = "the Quran was recited on the Prophet."

The God will not send to every village a warner (see 25:51)

And LW We willed, We would have sent in every village/urban city a warner/giver of notice [25:51]

y = "The God would have sent to every village a warner" while the actual is y' = "The God will not send to every village a warner."

The God will not make the people who separated from The God's verses/evidences rise (see 7:176)

And read/recite on them whom We gave/brought him Our verses/evidences, so he broke away/separated from it, so the devil followed him, so he was from the misguided. And LW We willed, We would have risen/honored him with it, but he (wanted to) perpetuate/immortalize/eternalize the earth, and he followed his fantasy, so his example is like the example of the dog, if you burden/load on it, it pants, and if you leave it, it pants, that is the example of the nation of those who lied/denied/falsified with Our verses/evidences, so narrate/relay the narration, perhaps they think. [7:175-176]

y = "The people who separated from The God's verses/evidences would be risen/honored" while the actual is y' = "The people who separated from The God's verses/evidences will not be risen/honored."

Let me stop at those verses, because I believe that they hold the explanation to what is happening to many of the so-called Muslim nations today. As in the example given in those verses, the majority of the people in those nations have indeed separated themselves from The God's verses. They allowed the so-called scholars and their Hadiths to come between them and The God's verses. Due to the fact that The God uses LW (i.e. outcome y is not available) and the past tense (i.e. y' is predestined), it is a physical impossibility for such nations to rise and they will remain debased and humiliated.

PRESENT TENSE EXAMPLES:

The God does not strike, cover their hearts, erase their eyesight, or transform them (the criminals) (see 7:100, 36:66-67)

Or did He not guide to those inheriting the earth after its people, that LW We will, We struck/marked them because of their crimes, and We stamp/cover/seal on their hearts/minds, so they do not hear/listen? [7:100]

The counterfactual y = "The God would have struck them and stamped their hearts" while the actual is y' = "The God does not struck them or stamp their hearts."

The use of the present tense may indicate that The God makes the counterfactual action y currently unavailable.

The God does not make from people angels (see 43:60)

And LW We will, We would have made from you angels in the earth who are in succession/leadership. [43:60]

The counterfactual y = "The God would have made from you angels" while the actual is y' = "The God does not make from you angels".

Contrast this to what the disbelievers/rejecters say in 23:24 and 41:14:

So said the nobles/assembly from those who disbelieved/rejected from his nation: "That is not except a human similar to you he wants to make himself more preferred/favored over you, and LW The God willed He would have descended angels, we did not hear with that in our fathers/forefathers, the primitives." [23:24]

Note that the disbelievers use the past tense instead of the present tense that The God correctly used in 43:60. It is becoming increasingly apparent that we should not use the past and the present tense haphazardly when uttering anything about The God's will.

The God does not get victory directly from those who fought the Messenger

... and LW The God wills He would have gotten victory from them, but to test some of you with others, and those who were killed in The God's way, He will never/not misguide their deeds. [47:4]

y = "The God would have gotten victory directly from them" while the actual is y' = "The God does not get victory directly from them".

The God does not show the hypocrites to the Prophet

And LW We will, We would have shown them to you, so you would have known them by their marks/identifications/expressions, and you will know them through their style of speech/word/opinion, and The God knows your deeds. [47:30]

y = "The God would have shown them to you (the Prophet)" while the actual is y' = "The God does not show the hypocrites to you (the Prophet)."

The God does not make your plants crumbs or your water salty

LW We will, We would have made it debris/crumbs, so you continued/remained regretting/wondering. [56:65]

LW We will, We made it salty and bitter, so if only you thank/be grateful. [56:70]

y = "The God would have made it debris/crumbs/salty" while the actual is y' = "The God does not make it debris/crumbs/salty"

3. "MA": Cause and "what" Effect

Logic: I know that "what" y occurred is/was a result of x.

In this case, what y is/was the effect of The God's will.

 

PAST TENSE EXAMPLES:

The God assembled human beings in whatever shape He willed

In any shape/picture what He willed/intended He assembled/composed you (the human) [82:8]

In this example, outcome y = "What is the human assembled shape/picture" was simply the effect of The God's will.

The God created whatever outcome He willed

And if only when you entered your treed garden, you said: 'What The God willed! No strength/power except by The God,' if you see me, I am less/fewer than you in property/possession/wealth and children [18:39]

In this example, outcome y = "What outcome resulted (the garden is fruitful or barren)" was simply the effect of The God's will.

This verse is instructing us to say "ma sha'a Allah" about the outcomes that already unfolded. Since sha'a is in the past tense, it seems that the outcomes of our actions are predetermined and even though we are free to choose which path to take, we have no control over the outcome that this path leads to.

 

PRESENT TENSE EXAMPLES :

The God creates, rules, be kind to, eliminates, does, hurries, increases in creation, and selects what He wills (see 3:40, 3:47, 5:1, 5:17, 6:133, 12:100, 13:39, 14:27, 17:18, 22:5, 24:45, 28:68, 30:54, 35:1, 39:4, 42:27, 42:49, 42:51).

The God affirms/strengthens those who believed/had faith with the word/opinion the affirmed/strengthened in the low life and the ending, and The God misguides the unjust/oppressive, and The God makes/does what He wills. [14:27]

In this case, the actions y = "strengthening those who believed/had faith and misguiding the unjust/oppressive (what The God does)" is simply the effect of The God's present will.

The God inspires what He wills (see 42:51)

And it was not to a human that The God converses/speaks to him, except by inspiration/transmission or from behind a divider/partition, or He sends a messenger so he (the messenger) is inspired what He wills with His permission, that He truly is high/elevated, wise/judicious. [42:51]

y = "What the messenger is inspired" is the simply the effect of The God's present will. Let me stop here because this verse clearly negates that the Quran has been eternally around since the beginning of creation as some sects claim. The verb "yasha'a" is in the present tense, implying that what the messenger is being inspired has not been predestined by The God long time ago but is being decided by The God at the time the Quran was revealed.

 

4. "KYF": Cause and "How" Effect

Logic: I know that "how" y occurs is a result of x.

In this case, how y occurs is the effect of The God's will.

 

PAST TENSE EXAMPLES:

I couldn't find any examples of "KYF" used with The God "sha'a" in the past tense.

 

PRESENT TENSE EXAMPLES:

The God forms and spends how ("KYF") He wills (see 3:6, 5:64, 30:48)

He is who pictures/forms you in the wombs/uteruses how He wills, no god except He, The Glorious/Mighty, The Wise/Judicious. [3:6]

In this example, y = "How our specific form in the wombs is pictured" is simply the effect of The God's present will.

Note the difference between 3:6 and 82:8 that we saw above in the past tense example of "MA". Verse 3:6 talks about how people are shaped in the womb while 82:8 talked about what shape the human was assembled in. "How" babies are shaped in the womb is a present ongoing action while "what" shape humankind was assembled in (for example we have a head, two arms, two feet, attached to a torso) is a past, predestined outcome. It is getting clearer and clearer that there is a distinct pattern for the use of the present tense and the past tense as relating to The God's will.

 

5. "MN": Cause and "Who" Effect

Logic: I know that "who" y occurs to is a result of x.

 

PAST TENSE EXAMPLES:

Although, as we will see later, there are some past tense occurrences associated with the "ILA MN" (except whom) logical expression, I couldn't find any past tense occurrence in the Quran associated with the simple "MN" (whom) logical expression and The God's will. This may imply that specifically "who" y occurs to is not predestined in the past.

 

PRESENT TENSE EXAMPLES:

The God gives favor, kingship, knowledge, wisdom, victory, purification, permission, and power to whomever He wills (see 2:90, 2:247, 2:251, 2:261, 2:269, 3:13, 3:26, 3:73, 3:179, 4:49, 5:54, 6:83, 7:128, 10:107, 12:76, 14:11, 24:21, 30:5, 53:26, 57:21, 57:29, 59:6, 62:4)

He gives the wisdom to whom He wills, and who is given the wisdom, so he had been given much goodness/wealth, and none mentions/remembers except those with intelligence. [2:269]

In this example, y = "Who The God gives the wisdom to" is simply the effect of The God's present will. The fact that the present tense is used indicates that the action of giving wisdom to a specific person is not predestined and is being determined in the present. At the end of the verse, The God is giving a hint on how one could possibly be from those who are given this wisdom.

The God was not to leave the believers on what you are on it until He distinguishes/separates the bad/malicious from the good, and The God was not to show/inform you on the unseen, and but The God chooses from His messengers, whom He wills, so believe/have faith in The God and His messengers, and if you believe/have faith and be forethoughtful, so for you is a great reward. [3:179]

Here y = "Who The God chooses from His messengers" is simply the effect of The God's present will at the time.

O, you who believed/had faith, do not follow the devil's foot steps, and who follows the devil's foot steps, he orders/commands with the sinful and the atrocious, and where it not for The God's grace/favor/blessing on you and His mercy, there would not be anyone from you who purified/corrected ever, but The God purifies/corrects whom He wills, and The God is hearing/listening, knowledgeable. [24:21]

y = "Who The God purifies/corrects" is simply the effect of The God's present will.

The God extends provision to whom He wills (see 2:212, 3:27, 3:37, 13:26, 17:30, 24:38, 28:82, 29:62, 30:37, 34:36, 34:39, 39:52, 42:12, 42:19)

Say: "Truly my Lord spreads/extends the provision to whom He wills, and He is capable but most of the people do not know." [34:36]

In this case, y = "Who The God extends the provision to" is simply the effect of The God's present will.

Compare the cause and effect expression "MN" that The God is asking us to use against the counterfactual conditional "LW" used instead by the disbelievers in 36:47.

And if it was said to them: "Spend from what The God provided for you." Those who disbelieved said to those who believed/had faith: "Do we feed whom LW The God wills He fed him? That truly you are in except clear/evident misguidance." [36:47]

It is clear that what we say about The God's will reveals our true convictions, even something as small as saying "LW" instead of "MN".

The God descends the soul on whom He wills (see 16:2, 40:15)

He descends the angels with the soul/spirit from His order/command on whom He wills from His servants, that warn/give notice, that there is no god except Me, so be forethoughtful of Me. [16:2]

In this example, y = "Who The God descends the soul/spirit on" is simply the effect of The God's present will.

The God guides, misguides, and makes listen whom He wills (see 2:142, 2:213, 2:272, 6:39, 6:88, 7:155, 10:25, 13:27, 14:4, 16:93, 24:35, 24:46, 28:56, 35:8, 35:22, 39:23, 42:13, 42:52, 73:31)

The ignorant/foolish from the people will say: "What turned them away from their direction, which they were on?" Say: "To The God are the sunrise/east and the sunset/west, He guides whom He wills to a straight path." [2:142]

And those who lied/denied with Our verses/signs/evidences are deaf and mute in the darknesses; whom The God wills He misguides him/her, and whom He wills, He makes him/her on a straight path [6:39]

In the above examples, y = "Who The God guides to a straight/direct path" is simply the effect of The God's present will. Notice the hints that The God gives above about those who are not guided.

As we saw earlier the use of the "LW" counterfactual conditional with the past tense excludes the outcome that everybody will be guided from the set of possible outcomes. On the other hand, the specific of "who" exactly will be guided is not predestined. This is clearly seen here through the consistent use of the present tense of "sha'a" together with the logical expression "MN" as relating to guidance to specific people.

Except for what the descendants of Israel say in verse 2:70 that we saw earlier, all the occurrences that I found of The God's will in the Quran as relating to guidance is in the present tense. As we saw above, this implies that "who" specifically The God guides is not predestined and is dependent on which path one presently chooses.

So why did the descendants of Israel say: "in sha'a Allah we are guided"? They are implying that they are predestined to be either guided or misguided and therefore are not taking responsibility for their freedom of choice. Little did they know that what they said in verse 2:70 would be demonstrated as insincere thousands of years later by this simple logical analysis of the Quran. In fact, what the descendants of Israel said resembles a lot what the people of Pharaoh said in 43:49, for example, by asking Moses to pray to The God for them and the plural form of the verb "guide".

The God forgives, singles out with mercy, tortures, and saves whom He wills (see 2:105, 2:284, 3:74, 3:129, 4:48, 4:116, 5:18, 5:40, 7:156, 9:15, 9:27, 12:56, 12:110, 21:9, 29:21, 42:8, 48:14, 48:25)

He singles out/specializes with His mercy whom He wills, and The God is owner of the great grace/favor. [3:74]

In this example, y = "Who The God singles out with His mercy" is simply the effect of The God's present will (again, implying that it is not predestined).

Indeed The God does not forgive setting up partners/sharers with Him, and He forgives what is other than that, to whom He wills, and who sets up partners/sharers with The God, he fabricated a great sin/crime. [4:48]

Here y = "Who The God forgives for other than setting up partners/sharers with Him" is simply the effect of The God's present will.

The God strikes with lightning and rain whom He wills (see 13:13, 24:43, 30:48)

The God is who sends the winds so it agitates clouds, so He spreads/extends it in the sky how He wills, and He makes it pieces, so you see the rain appears/emerges from in between it, so when He strikes with it whom He wills from His worshippers/slaves, then they are announcing good news/cheerful [30:48]

Here y = "Who The God strikes with the rain" is simply the effect of The God's present will.

The God gives boys/girls and makes infertile who He wills (see 42:49, 42:50)

To The God is the sky's/space's and the earth's ownership/kingdom, He creates what He wills, He grants/presents to whom He wills females, and He grants/presents to whom He wills the males. [42:49]

In this case, y = "Who The God grants female/male children to" is simply the effect of The God's present will.

 

6. "IThA": Cause and "When" Effect

Logic: I know that "when" y occurs is a result of x.

 

PAST TENSE EXAMPLES:

These are the only two verses in the Quran that I could find where the logical proposition "IThA" is used with The God willing something in the past tense (see 76:28, 80:22):

We created them and We strengthened/supported their bone structure/ties and joints/(strengths), and WHEN We willed, We replaced their equivalent by a replacement [76:28]

Then WHEN He willed He revived/resurrected him [80:22]

y = "When The God replace/resurrect them " is simply the effect of The God's past will.

 

PRESENT TENSE EXAMPLES:

Verse 42:29 is the only verse where "IThA" is used with The God wills in the present tense:

And from His verses/evidences/signs are the skies'/space's and the earth's creation, and what He scattered/distributed in them from a walker/creeper/crawler, and He is on gathering/collecting them WHEN He wills capable. [42:29]

y = "When The God gathers the walker/creeper/crawler" is simply the effect of The God's present will.

 

7. "ILA": Hypothetical Exception

Logic: I don't know whether or not x occurred, but if x occurred/occurs, then y will be exempted.

 

PAST TENSE EXAMPLES:

Default: They will be shocked/ frightened.
"ILA MN" Exception: Who The God might cause not to be shocked/frightened.

And a day/time it was blown in the horn, so frightened/panicked were those in the skies/space and those in the earth, except who The God willed, and all came to Him degraded/manipulated [27:87]

And it was blown in the horn, so shocked were those in the skies/space and the earth, except who The God willed, then it was blown in it another, so then they are getting up/standing still, looking [39:68]

In the above examples, y = "Who The God might cause not to be shocked/frightened" were exempted as a result of The God's will.

Default: They will abide immortal in hell/heaven.
"ILA MA" Exception: What The God might cause not to abide immortal in hell/heaven.

...The fire is your residence, you are immortally in it except what The God willed, that your Lord is wise/judicious, knowledgeable. [6:128]

Immortally/eternally in it as long as the skies/space and the earth continued/lasted, except what your Lord willed, that your Lord is a maker/doer, of what He wants. And but those who were made happy/fortunate, so they are in the Paradise, immortally/eternally in it, as long as the skies/space and the earth continued/lasted, except what your Lord willed, a gift/grant not cut/broken/(interrupted). [11:107-108]

In the above examples, y = "What The God might cause not to reside immortally/eternally in heaven/hell" were exempted as a result of The God's will.

Default: I (the Prophet) do not possess outcomes of benefit or harm to myself.
"ILA MA" Exception: What outcomes The God might cause to be benefit or harm.

Say: "I do not own/possess benefit/usefulness and nor harm to myself, except what God The willed, and had I been knowing the hidden, I would have increased from the good/wealth, and the bad/evil/harm would not have touched me, that I am except a warner/giver of notice and an announcer of good news to a nation believing." [7:188]

The above verse indicates that knowledge of the hidden would have enabled one to use information about the future to increase wealth and avoid harm.

Say: "I do not own/possess to myself harm and nor benefit/usefulness except, what The God willed, to every/each nation/generation is a term/time, if their term/time came, so they do not delay/lag behind an hour, and nor advance/precede [10:49]

In the above examples, y = "What outcomes of benefit or harm I have" were exempted as a result of The God's will.

Default: Do not forget.
"ILA MA" Exception: What The God might cause you to forget.

We will make you read, so do not forget. Except what The God willed, that He truly knows the declared/publicized and what hides. [87:6-7]

In this example, y = "What The God might cause you to forget" was exempted as a result of The God's will.

Default: They do not comprehend/envelope a thing from His knowledge.
"ILA BiMA" Exception: With what The God let them comprehend.

... , and they do not comprehend/envelope with a thing from His knowledge, except with what He willed. ...[2:255]

In this example, y = "What thing they comprehend from His knowledge" was exempted as a result of The God's will.

 

PRESENT TENSE EXAMPLES:

All the present tense examples of the hypothetical exception that I found use the "ILA AN" proposition. Although the exception y is not given, the default is understood to be the complement of y (i.e. y').

Default: I do not fear partners that you made (with The God).
"ILA AN" Exception: Except if The God wills other than the default.

And his nation disputed with him, he said: "Do you argue/dispute with me in The God and He had guided me, and I do not fear what you share/make partners (with The God), except that my Lord wills a thing, ..." [6:80]

Default: They were not to believe.
"ILA AN" Exception: Except if The God wills other than the default.

And had We descended to them the angels, and the dead talked to them, and We gathered on them every thing in front, they were not to believe, except that The God wills, but most of them are being ignorant [6:111]

Default: We will not return to your false religion/system.
"ILA AN" Exception: Except if The God wills other than the default.

"We had fabricated on The God lies/falsification, if we returned in your creed/system after The God saved/rescued us from it, and it is not for us to return in it except that The God, our Lord, wills, ..." [7:89]

Default: Joseph would not have been able to take his brother within the king's religion/system.
"ILA AN" Exception: Except if The God wills other than the default.

So he began with their bags/containers, before his brother's bag/container, then he brought it out from his brother's bag/container, like that, We plotted for Joseph, he was not to take his brother in the king's religion/system, except that The God wills, We raise whom We will stages/degrees, and above each owner of knowledge is one more knowledgeable. [12:76]

Default: They do not mention/remember.
"ILA AN" Exception: Except if The God wills other than the default.

And they do not mention/remember except that The God wills, ... [74:56]

Default: You do not will an outcome to occur.
"ILA AN" Exception: Except if The God wills other than the default.

And you do not will except that The God wills, that truly The God was knowledgeable, wise/judicious. [76:30]

And you do not will except that The God wills, Lord of the universes. [81:29]

Those two verses confirm what we have been consistently finding throughout our analysis. We cannot "will" an outcome that we desire to happen. We are only free to choose a path that might lead to a desirable outcome or not. Therefore, we have the freedom to choose which path to take but no control over the outcome that results from choosing this path.

Default: I will do something tomorrow/in the future.
"ILA AN" Exception: Except if The God wills other than the default.

Do not say to something, I am doing this tomorrow. Except if The God wills, and remember/mention your Lord if you forget, and say: "Perhaps my Lord guides me to what is nearer in rationality" [18:23-24]

It is now clear that the default is that The God will let us choose our actions. The exception is that The God might interfere by, for example, making the path that we chose unavailable. Here is an example to illustrate what I mean:

A man decides to drive to a place to commit a sin (path a). He goes out to his car and the minute he starts it, the engine blows up. Unable to go, he gets mad and stays home instead (path b). Path "a" is made unavailable by The God's will.

The default is that The God lets people choose which path to take but may make that path unavailable. However, The God knows the outcome of this choice and all other possible choices ahead of them, even the outcomes of the paths that they left behind and didn't choose as indicated by verse 2:255:

...He knows what is between their hands and what is behind them,... [2:255]

Thus verses 18:23-24 clearly explain what we should say about the actions that we decide to do in the future. We should say: "ila an yasha'a Allah and perhaps my Lord guides me to what is nearer in rationality".

CONCLUSION AND DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

The analysis ended with the same verses 18:23-24 that started this mission. However, now after examining the various logical propositions and their present and past tense occurrences, we have a much better picture of the underlying pattern. Do the majority of people belonging to the sects say what is in 18:23-24 about their future actions? The answer is no, they say "in sha'a Allah" instead. According to the Quran's consistent use of the present and past tense and the logical propositions, they are wrongly saying that the path that they decide to take is predestined and they have no freedom to decide which path to choose. It is not surprising that this sentence is heavily abused and people often use it to escape the responsibility of choosing the correct path. We can only say "in sha'a Allah" about outcomes but not about the paths that we choose (i.e. our own actions). For example, we can say "in sha'a Allah" the outcome of our action will be safety (see 12:99). We should also say "ma sha'a Allah" about outcomes that are unfolding in front of us (see 18:39).

The use of certain propositions and the past and present tense as relating to The God's will is not haphazard. The past tense is consistently used for outcomes that we have no control over. This is due to the fact that The God decided those outcomes in the past (perhaps even at the beginning of creation in some examples) and consequently they are predestined. On the other hand, the present tense is used for The God's actions that are happening in the present and may be dependant on which path one chooses.

We can also conclude that each person has the freedom to choose the path to take but have no control over what outcome this path will lead to. The God knows all the possible paths, the outcome of the path he/she chooses, and the outcomes of all the other paths that were not chosen.

All the future outcomes converge into two major possible outcomes: Heaven or Hell. Thus, when we make choices that matter in our lives, we are in fact only selecting between heaven and hell. For those who chose the path to hell, all the other things that they chose to do will not matter and are wasted (see 25:23). If we were able to see the future, then we would all choose the path that leads to the outcome of heaven. Thus, I believe that the path that we will choose is not predetermined (known in advance) due to our own ignorance of the future. Hence, as foretold in the Quran (7:53), those who take the path leading to the outcome of hell will want to go back and choose a different path (now that they know the future).

Only The God is The Creator and we don't create anything. We don't create outcomes or paths (choices). We only get to choose between some paths (choices). The God presently guides whom he wills to the straight path that leads to heaven. The God's guidance is conditional and depends on what choices we make. For example, if one chooses to forget The God, then The God will make him/her forget him/herself (see 59:19). Also, the Quran contains guidance, but only for those who are forethoughtful of The Creator and try to plan ahead for the day of their account by Him (see 2:2).

In summary, what we say reflects our convictions. Therefore, I should say: "if The God willed (in sha'a Allah)" about future outcomes and "what The God willed (ma sha'a Allah)" about past outcomes. However, when it comes to my own future actions/decisions I should say: "Except if The God wills (ila an yasha'a Allah) and perhaps my Lord guides me to what is nearer in rationality".

To understand this conclusion, one must know the difference between decisions and outcomes. A simple example might help. Consider this, each of us is moving up on a tree. We have freedom of choice at the nodes to decide which branch to take, but we have no control over the branches. So for example, we can't go back and select a different branch if we don't like what we find on that branch. A decision is simply a node (i.e. a point) on the tree where two or more branches emanate, while an outcome is simply a branch. The God created and sees the tree, the whole forest, and us.

I believe that this is a perfectly designed test. Here is what the purpose of the test could be:

Did the people assume/suppose that they be left to say "We believed/had faith" and they are not being tested? And We had tested those who were before them, so The God will know those who were truthful, and He will know the liars/deniers/falsifiers. [29:2-3]

This leads me to the one verse that I have not been able to think of any possible explanation for until now. The verse I am talking about is the one where The God is asking Moses about what is in his hand:

"And what is that with your hand, Moses?" [20:17]

Why is The God, The Knowledgeable, asking Moses such a simple question? Moses' reply and our newly found understanding of "Free Choice" provided some insight that finally helped me solve this mystery.

He said: "It is my cane, I lean on/support myself on it, and I move/shake with it on my sheep, and I have in it other needs/purposes." [20:18]

Note that Moses did not say: "this is my cane, it is made of wood". Moses must have understood very well that The God knows what the cane is and what it is made of. Moses knows that the question is not about the cane but about what he chooses to do with it. The question reveals that Moses and people in general are free to choose which path to take. They can use the resources that The God gave them (the cane) to do good (for example, self support and moving sheep) or to do evil (for example, beating others). This is also evident from verses such as 6:165 and 27:40:

And He is who made you the earth's successors/leaders, and He raised some of you above some by degrees, to test you in what He gave you, indeed your Lord is quick in the punishment and He is forgiving, merciful. [6:165]

When I started this article, I had no idea where this study was going to lead to. This is very exciting but at the same time a little unnerving. It is a little unnerving because for a very brief moment, I asked myself: what if I found a logical inconsistency? I put my faith in The God and proceeded with the analysis knowing that The Quran gives us the following self-reference criteria:

Do they not consider the Quran with care? Had it been from anyone other than The God, it would contain many inconsistencies. [4:82]

Indeed, I did not find any inconsistencies in the Quran. The above analysis confirms that even logical expressions and present and past tense forms of "sha'a" that are dispersed throughout the Quran have been used with amazing consistency. Moreover, as we saw above their use is systematically conveying a coherent message. However, I must caution the reader that while I was conducting the analysis, I did find many inconsistencies in the English translations of the Quran such as present tense verbs being translated into the past tense and many other inconsistencies that would have made the logical analysis impossible without access to the original Arabic Quran. Therefore, translations of the Quran (including my own) do not pass the test for self-reference.

The Quran can be considered as a powerful knowledge base with its own uniform ontology. To try to understand this knowledge, we need to use a logical analysis approach. It is unfortunate that the clergy and their hadith books have separated the various sects from the Quran to such an extent that even the most straightforward logical analysis such as the one presented here has been rarely conducted. Instead, the majority has been trying to interpret the consistent God-given truth encapsulated in the Quran with inconsistent man-made lies.

The Quran explains everything we need to understand our purpose in life logically and consistently. Although, using the Quran we already came closer to the truth in the area of free will and predestination than any previous attempt, we still have a lot of ground to cover. For example:

Is freedom of choice unique to humans?

What is the trust mentioned in 33:72?

What is the forbidden tree?

Those are just some questions that I am putting out so that rational thinking people from diverse disciplines can come together and help improve our understanding of the universe in light of the Quran. I will try to answer some of those questions in the near future, except if The God wills and perhaps my Lord guides me to what is nearer in rationality.

 


IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:

"This is the book, no doubt, in it guidance for the prudent/forethoughtful." [2:2]

Tomorrow, I will try to improve my understanding of the Quran and the universe, except if The God wills and perhaps my Lord guides me to what is nearer in rationality. This article reflects my personal interpretation of the Quranic verses as of November 30th, 2002. Please be humble by following the example set by the angels in 2:32, verify all information within for yourself as commanded in 17:36, and remember that simply "none" is the prudent/forethoughtful answer to 45:6.

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