If Allah’s decree was any excuse, He would not punish anyone among the rejecters of the prophets such as the people of Nuh, ‘Aad, Thamud, Al-Mu’tafikaat, and the people of Pharaoh. Nor would He have ordered the punishments (Al-Huduud) to be inflicted on those who transgress the boundaries of His law. No one cites the decree of Allah as his argument or excuse except one who is following his hawa (whims) without guidance from Allah.

He who sees Allah’s decree as an excuse for the sinners does not ascribe to them blame nor punishment, thus, it is upon him to blame no one, nor to seek anyone’s punishment no matter what they may do to him (since it is all by Allah’s decree!). In fact, that which causes pleasure and that which causes pain are the same to him, thus, he should not differentiate between those who do good to him and those who do evil to him. This is clearly unacceptable by common sense, reason, and the rule of shari’a! Allah said:

“Or should we treat those who believe and do good works the same as the spreaders of corruption in the earth, or should we make those of pious practice as the transgressors?” Qur’an 38:28

“Should we then treat those who submit (i.e. Muslims) in the same way as as the criminals? What is wrong with you, how do you judge?” 68:35-36

“Did those who practice evil think that we would make them the same as those who believe and do good works, the same in life and in death? How poorly you judge!” Qur’an 45:21

“Do you then think that we created you in jest, and that you would not be returned to us?” Qur’an 23:115

“Does man believe that he is to be left without purpose?”

i.e. neglected, not ordered with anything, not forbidden anything.

It is recorded in the two books of sahih, that the Prophet said:

“Adam disputed with Musa. Musa said to Adam: “O, Adam, you are the father of the human race, Allah created you with His hand, and blew into you of His spirit, and made His angels prostrate to you, why did you expel yourself and us from the garden?” Adam said to him: “You are Musa whom Allah favored with His speech, and wrote for you the Taurah with His hand, so (tell me) by how many years before my creation did you find it written about me: “… then Adam disobeyed his Lord and got lost.” (Qur’an 20:121)? Musa said: “By forty years.” Then, Adam said: “So how do you blame me for something which Allah had decreed for me before my creation by forty years?” The Prophet said: “And so, Adam defeated Musa in the dispute.”

Two groups have gone astray in relation to this hadith. One group rejected it completely (though it is thoroughly authenticated), since it seemed to them to mean the removal of blame and punishment from anyone who disobeyed Allah because of Allah’s decree. Another group fell into something even worse (than rejecting the words of the Prophet ()): They believed that Allah’s decree is an excuse for the disobedience of Allah. Some of them may say: The decree of Allah is an excuse for the people of Al-Haqeeqa (lit. “reality”) who have witnessed it, or those who do not perceive any actions whatsoever originating from themselves, (i.e. who believe they have annihilated themselves “in Allah” – exalted is He above that which they say!). Others say, by way of explanation: Adam won the argument because he is the father of Musa, or because he had repented, or because the sin was in one law, and the blame in another, or because this is in this world only, and not in the next. All of these explanations are false and incorrect.

The meaning of the hadith is that Musa – peace be upon him – did not blame his father Adam except because of the hardship which befell the human race because of Adam’s eating from the tree. Thus, he said to him: “Why did you expel your self and us from the garden?” He did not blame him merely for having committed a sin from which he had already repented, for Musa surely knew that one who repents from a sin is not to be blamed for it. Adam had repented from his sin, and did not believe the decree of Allah was any excuse for him. If he believed that, he would not have said after his sin what is reported in the Qur’an:

“Our Lord, we have oppressed ourselves and if you don’t forgive us and have mercy on us, we will be among those in loss.” Qur’an 7:23

Believers are ordered to be patient in the face of calamities and accept the decree of Allah, and they are ordered to seek forgiveness and repent when they commit any sin. Allah said:

“So be patient, surely the promise of Allah is truth, and seek forgiveness for your sin.” Qur’an 40:55

Here, Allah ordered him to be patient with adversity, and to seek forgiveness from blameworthy actions.

Allah said:

“No calamity strikes except with the permission of Allah. Whoever believes in Allah, He will guide his heart.” Qur’an 64:11

Ibn Masood said about this verse: “He is the man who is afflicted with a calamity which he knows is from Allah, and so he is patient and surrenders.

So the believers, when afflicted with some calamity such as illness, poverty, or oppression are patient for the ruling of Allah, even if that calamity is because of someone else’s sin. For, example, someone whose father spent all of his property in disobedience to Allah such that his children come to poverty must be patient with what has befallen him. If he were to blame his father for what has befallen him, it would be proper to remind him of the decree of Allah.

This type of patience is obligatory in the unanimous opinion of the scholars. Above patience with the decree of Allah is acceptance (ridhaa) of the decree of Allah. It has been said that acceptance is also obligatory, and it has been said that it is commendable, less than obligatory, and this is the correct opinion. Higher still than acceptance of Allah’s decree when afflicted with calamities is to thank Allah for calamities because of what he sees of the beneficence of Allah in giving him that and making it a reason for the expiation of some of his sins, and elevating his rank, and aiding him in turning to Allah and humbling himself before Him, and increasing him in purity of intention and completeness of dependence on Allah and on no one else among His creation.

As for the people of transgression and going astray, you will find them using the decree of Allah as an argument when they sin or follow their lusts and desires, while they attribute their good deeds to themselves when Allah graces them with that. A scholar once said: “When you are obedient you are a qadariy, and when you are disobedient you are a jabriy. You claim to be with whatever philosophy meets the dictates of your whims.” (Note: These are two deviations in thinking which have arisen among the Muslims. A qadariy says that man is the creator of his own actions, and that Allah wills the submission of all of His slaves, but some of his slaves overcome the will of Allah, and sin! A jabriy says that man is not responsible for his actions since all of them have been decreed by Allah.)

As for the people of guidance and right action, when they do something good they are witnesses to the grace of Allah upon them and that He is the one who was generous with them and granted them Islam, made them of those who establish the prayer, inspired them with taqwa, and that there is no power nor strength except from Allah. Their understanding of the decree of Allah prevents them from being overly pleased with themselves, feeling that they deserve praise for their actions, and being injurious to one to whom they have done some good. When they commit some sin, they seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent to Him from their sin.

In Sahih Buhkari, Shaddaad ibn Aws narrates:

“The Prophet () said: The best seeking of forgiveness is for the slave of Allah to say: {O, Allah, You are my Lord, there is not deity other than you. You created me and I am your slave. I am (seeking to) stick to my obligation to you and my promise to you to the extent of my ability. I seek refuge in you from the evil which I may do. I return to You with the goodness which You have bestowed on me, and I return to You (in repentance) with my sin. So forgive me; no one forgives sins except for You.} Whoever says this when he wakes up with certainty and conviction and then dies that night will enter paradise.”

In another sahih hadith, Abu Dharr narrates from the Prophet () of that which he narrated from Allah the Blessed the High that He said:

“O, my slaves, I have forbidden myself oppression, and have made it forbidden among you, so do not oppress one another. O, my slaves surely you commit mistakes by night and by day, and I forgive all sins without problem, so seek my forgiveness, that I may forgive you. O, my slaves, all of your are hungry except the one whom I feed, so seek from me your sustenance that I may feed you. O, my slaves, all of you are naked except  the one whom I have clothed, so seek this from me that I may clothe you. O, my slaves, all of you are lost except the one whom I have guided, so ask me guidance that I may guide you. O, my slaves, you will never be able to harm me, nor will you ever be able to help me. O, my slaves, if the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you were as pious as the most pious one among you, that would add nothing to my wealth. O, my slaves, if the first of you and the last of you and the human of you and the jinn of you were all as evil as the most evil individual among you, that would decrease nothing from my wealth. O, my slaves, if the first of you and the  last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you all gathered in a single plain and asked me for their wishes and I granted every one of you what they asked, they would decrease nothing from that which I possess except as the ocean is decreased by the sticking of a needle into it one time. O, my slaves, it is nothing but your works, I keep track of them for each of you, then I reward you fully for them. So, whoever finds good, let him thank Allah, and whoever finds other than that, let him blame no one except himself.”

Allah here orders us to praise and thank Him for the good which comes to us, and when we find bad to blame no one but ourselves. Many people speak about “reality” or “the real” (Al-haqeeqa) while failing to differentiate between the reality relating to the decree of Allah, His creation of all things and actions, and his determination of events on the one hand, and the reality relating to the orders of Allah, and His deen which are related to His pleasure and displeasure. on the other. They fail to distinguish between one who is steadfast in the reality of the deen in accordance with the orders of Allah on the tongues of His prophets and one who is only steadfast in following his own feelings and intuitive experiences without subjecting that to the criterion of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. In the same way, many people talk about the term Shari’a but fail to differentiate between the shar’ (law) which has been sent down from Allah i.e. the Qur’an and the Sunnah with which Allah sent His Prophet () (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and the rulings of a ruler or judge. No one of Allah’s creation has any right to go out of or against the Law of Allah, whoever does so is a kafir (disbeliever). As for the rulings of the ruler, he is correct sometimes and wrong other times. That is for the case of his being knowledgeable of the law, and righteous and just in his actions. The Prophet said about those who give rulings in the law:

“Judges are three type: two types in the hell fire, and one type in paradise. A man who knows the truth and judges according to it is in paradise. A man who gives rulings for the people though he is ignorant of them is in the fire. And a man who knows the truth but judges with other than it is in the fire.”

The best of the knowledgeable and just judges is the uppermost among the sons of Adam: Muhammad (), may the peace and prayers of Allah be upon him. It is reported in the two books of the sahih, that the Prophet () (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said:

“You come to me with your cases, and some of you may be more eloquent and convincing in expression than others. I only judge according to that which I hear, but whoever has received a favorable judgement from me in which I have awarded him what is rightfully his bother’s, should not take it, for I have merely cut for him a piece of the hell fire.”

The Prophet () here informs us that when he delivers a judgement according to that which he hears, but its reality is other than that, it is not allowed for the one who has been rewarded what is not rightfully his to take it, and that this is nothing more than a piece of the hell fire.

This is a point of consensus among the scholars of Islam in relation to all types of property: If the judge rules according to that which he believes to be a valid legal argument such as evidence or admission, though the reality of the case is other than what it appears, it is not allowed for the one given the reward to accept it. If such a ruling is in the area of contractual obligations or cancellations, it is the opinion of most of the scholars that the one granted his wish though the reality of the case is other than what it appears to be is not allowed to accept the benefits of the ruling. This is the position of Malik, Ash-Shafi’i, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal. Abu Hanifa differentiated in this regard between the two types of cases, applying the ruling only in cases dealing with property rights.