Qur'an Contradiction

The Problem of Divine Sovereignty, Predestination, Salvation and Human Free Will

Sam Shamoun


In this article we will examine the contradictory teachings of the Quran concerning human "free will" and Divine sovereignty. We will show how the Muslim scripture’s teaching that man is capable of believing or rejecting Allah’s revelation is contradicted by passages which expressly and emphatically teach that man cannot believe unless Allah predetermines it. We will present a plethora of verses, as well as Islamic narrations, which state that Allah has predestined who will believe and who will not, and that he has already foreordained all of the very actions that his creatures will commit.

This article will also serve the purpose of refuting the blatant distortions of what Islam actually teaches concerning predestination by Muslim apologists such as Bassam Zawadi (*).

The Quran on human choice

The Muslim scripture is filled with passages that speak of human responsibility, verses where man is commanded and expected to make the choice to believe and do good works, otherwise s/he will suffer the consequences, for example:

Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. S. 2:62

And when My servants question thee concerning Me -- I am near to answer the call of the caller, when he calls to Me; so let them respond to Me, and let them believe in Me; haply so they will go aright. S. 2:186

Say: (It is) the truth from the Lord of you (all). Then whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve. Lo! We have prepared for disbelievers Fire. Its tent encloseth them. If they ask for showers, they will be showered with water like to molten lead which burneth the faces. Calamitous the drink and ill the resting-place! S. 18:29

That no soul laden bears the load of another, and that a man shall have to his account only as he has laboured, and that his labouring shall surely be seen, then he shall be recompensed for it with the fullest recompense, and that the final end is unto thy Lord, S. 53:38-42

An apostle who recites to you the clear communications of Allah so that he may bring forth those who believe and do good deeds from darkness into light; and whoever believes in Allah and does good deeds, He will cause him to enter gardens beneath which rivers now, to abide therein forever, Allah has indeed given him a goodly sustenance. S. 65:11

The Quran further teaches that Allah responds to the actions of his creatures, and that it is up to man to change his condition before Allah will even take the initiative of enabling him/her to make such a change:

That is so because Allah will never change a grace which He has bestowed on a people until they change what is in their ownselves. And verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower. S. 8:53

For each (person), there are angels in succession, before and behind him. They guard him by the Command of Allah. Verily! Allah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves. But when Allah wills a people's punishment, there can be no turning back of it, and they will find besides Him no protector. S. 13:11

The Quran also suggests that Allah will only mislead those who are wicked and ungodly:

Allah is not ashamed to strike a similitude even of a gnat, or aught above it. As for the believers, they know it is the truth from their Lord; but as for unbelievers, they say, 'What did Allah desire by this for a similitude?' Thereby He leads many astray, and thereby He guides many; and thereby He leads none astray save the ungodly. S. 2:26

Allah will then judge mankind for what they have earned:

That Day mankind will proceed in scattered groups that they may be shown their deeds. So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it. Whoever has done an atom's weight of good shall meet with its reward and whoever has done an atom's weight of evil shall meet with its consequences. S. 99:6-8

The Quran on salvation by grace apart from works

The first problem we run into is with the Quran’s repeated claim that a person will receive the just reward or recompense of his/her beliefs and deeds, which presupposes that one’s eternal destiny is determined by one’s actions, since this conflicts with the following verse:

O believers, follow not the steps of Satan; for whosoever follows the steps of Satan, assuredly he bids to indecency and dishonour. But for Allah's bounty to you and His mercy not one of you would have been pure ever; but Allah purifies whom He will; and Allah is All-hearing, All-knowing. S. 24:21

It is not by works that a person is saved but by the grace and mercy of Allah, a point reiterated in the hadith literature:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "The good deeds of any person will not make him enter Paradise." (i.e., None can enter Paradise through his good deeds.) They (the Prophet's companions) said, "Not even you, O Allah's Apostle?" He said, "Not even myself, unless Allah bestows His favor and mercy on me. So be moderate in your religious deeds and do the deeds that are within your ability: and none of you should wish for death, for if he is a good doer, he may increase his good deeds, and if he is an evil doer, he may repent to Allah." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 577)

Narrated Aisha:
The Prophet said, "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and receive good news because one's good deeds will NOT make him enter Paradise." They asked, "Even you, O Allah’s Apostle?" He said, "Even I, unless and until Allah bestows His pardon and Mercy on me." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 474)



Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: None amongst you would attain salvation purely because of his deeds. A person said: Allah's Messenger, even you also. Thereupon he said: Yes. Not even I, but that Allah wraps me in Mercy, but you should act with moderation. This hadith has been transmitted on the authority of Bukair b. al-Ashajj with a slight variation of wording. (Sahih Muslim, Book 039, Number 6760)

The Quran on Allah’s complete sovereignty and preordainment of all actions

This leads us to the second problem which a Muslim faces. According to both the Quran and the so-called sound narratives, to be saved by Allah’s mercy and grace basically means that a person has to be chosen by Allah beforehand for salvation, i.e. predestination; otherwise that individual will never believe and turn to Allah.

In fact, belief in predestination is one of the essential aspects of the Islamic faith and denying its reality is to place oneself outside of the fold of true Islam:

It is narrated on the authority of Yahya b. Ya'mur that the first man who discussed about Qadr (Divine Decree) in Basra was Ma'bad al-Juhani. I along with Humaid b. 'Abdur-Rahman Himyari set out for pilgrimage or for 'Umrah and said: Should it so happen that we come into contact with one of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) we shall ask him about what is talked about Taqdir (Division Decree). Accidentally we came across Abdullah ibn Umar ibn al-Khattab, while he was entering the mosque. My companion and I surrounded him. One of us (stood) on his right and the other stood on his left. I expected that my companion would authorize me to speak. I therefore said: Abu Abdur Rahman! There have appeared some people in our land who recite the Holy Qur'an and pursue knowledge. And then after talking about their affairs, added: They (such people) claim that there is no such thing as Divine Decree and events are not predestined. He (Abdullah ibn Umar) said: When you happen to meet such people tell them that I have nothing to do with them and they have nothing to do with me. And verily they are in no way responsible for my (belief). Abdullah ibn Umar swore by Him (the Lord) (and said): If any one of them (who does not believe in the Divine Decree) had with him gold equal to the bulk of (the mountain) Uhud and then, it (in the way of Allah), Allah would not accept it unless he affirmed his faith in Divine Decree. He further said: My father, Umar ibn al-Khattab, told me: One day we were sitting in the company of Allah's Apostle when there appeared before us a man dressed in pure white clothes, his hair extraordinarily black. There were no signs of travel on him. None amongst us recognized him. At last he sat with the Apostle. He knelt before him placed his palms on his thighs and said: Muhammad, inform me about al-Islam. The Messenger of Allah said: Al-Islam implies that you testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and you establish prayer, pay Zakat, observe the fast of Ramadan, and perform pilgrimage to the (House) if you are solvent enough (to bear the expense of) the journey. He (the inquirer) said: You have told the truth. He (Umar ibn al-Khattab) said: It amazed us that he would put the question and then he would himself verify the truth. He (the inquirer) said: Inform me about Iman (faith). He (the Holy Prophet) replied: That you affirm your faith in Allah, in His angels, in His Books, in His Apostles, in the Day of Judgment, and you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree about good and evil. He (the inquirer) said: You have told the truth… He (the narrator, Umar ibn al-Khattab) said: Then he (the inquirer) went on his way but I stayed with him (the Holy Prophet) for a long while. He then, said to me: Umar, do you know who this inquirer was? I replied: Allah and His Apostle knows best. He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: He was Gabriel (the angel). He came to you in order to instruct you in matters of religion. (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0001)

The Quran itself repeatedly mentions that Allah has prescribed all that will happen and has measured out everything that will occur to every single creature:

Say: ‘Naught shall visit us but what Allah has prescribed for us; He is our Protector; in Allah let the believers put all their trust.’ S. 9:51

Here is how Sahih al-Bukhari interpreted this specific verse:

XIV. "Say: 'Nothing can happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us." (9:51)

Mujahid said, "Bi-fatinina (37:162) means misguided, those for whom Allah has written that they will burn in Hellfire."

"Qaddarra fa-hada" (87:3): He decreed misery and happiness and guided livestock to their grazing pasture." (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 85. Book of the Decree (Qadar); source; underline emphasis ours)

Moving on to other texts:

Surely We have created everything in measure. S. 54:49

Race to forgiveness from your Lord, and a Garden the breadth whereof is as the breadth of heaven and earth, made ready for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers. That is the bounty of Allah; He gives it unto whomsoever He will; and Allah is of bounty abounding. No affliction befalls in the earth or in yourselves, but it is in a Book, before We create it; that is easy for Allah; that you may not grieve for what escapes you, nor rejoice in what has come to you; Allah loves not any man proud and boastful, S. 57:21-23

Allah ordained that mankind should be divided into two camps, e.g. believers and unbelievers, the saved versus the unsaved, and has chosen beforehand to guide and forgive whom he wills

The Islamic scripture testifies that if Allah wanted to he could have caused everyone to believe in Muhammad’s religion; but this is not what he desires since he has determined that many shall never believe in order that they may end up in hell. Hence, Allah chooses whomever he wills to save and forgive while misleading anyone he so desires:

Verily, those who disbelieve, it is the same to them whether you warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe. Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearings, and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be a great torment. S. 2:6-7

... Say: ‘The true guidance is God's guidance -- that anyone should be given the like of what you have been given, or dispute with you before your Lord.’ Say: ‘Surely bounty is in the hand of Allah; He gives it unto whomsoever He will; and Allah is All-embracing, All-knowing. He singles out for His mercy whom He will; Allah is of bounty abounding.’ S. 3:73-74

Why should ye be divided into two parties about the Hypocrites? God hath upset them for their (evil) deeds. Would ye guide those whom God hath thrown out of the Way? For those whom God hath thrown out of the Way, never shalt thou find the Way. S. 4:88 Y. Ali

Say the Jews and Christians, 'We are the sons of Allah, and His beloved ones.' Say: 'Why then does He chastise you for your sins? No; you are mortals, of His creating; He forgives whom He will, and He chastises whom He will.' For to Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and of the earth, and all that is between them; to Him is the homecoming. S. 5:18

Knowest thou not that to Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth? He chastises whom He will, and forgives whom He will; and Allah is powerful over everything… Whomsoever Allah desires to tempt, thou cannot avail him anything with Allah. Those are they whose hearts Allah desires not to purify; for them is degradation in this world; and in the world to come awaits them a mighty chastisement; S. 5:40-41

And if their turning away is distressful for thee, why, if thou canst seek out a hole in the earth, or a ladder in heaven, to bring them some sign but had God willed, He would have gathered them to the guidance; so be not thou one of the ignorant. S. 6:35

With Allah is the argument that reaches home: if it had been His will, He could indeed have guided you all. S. 6:149

Had Allah willed, they had not been idolatrous. We have not set thee as a keeper over them, nor art thou responsible for them. S. 6:107 Pickthall

And We never sent a messenger save with the language of his folk, that he might make (the message) clear for them. Then Allah sendeth whom He will astray, and guideth whom He will. He is the Mighty, the Wise. S. 14:4

Whomsoever Allah guides, he is the guided one, and whomsoever He sends astray, those! They are the losers. And surely, We have created many of the jinns and mankind for Hell. They have hearts wherewith they understand not, they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not (the truth). They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones. S. 7:178-179 Hilali-Khan

And upon Allah is the responsibility to explain the Straight Path, but there are ways that turn aside. And had He willed, He would have guided you all. S. 16:9

And had Allah willed, He could have made you (all) one nation, but He sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. But you shall certainly be called to account for what you used to do. S. 16:93 Hilali-Khan

Verily! You (O Muhammad) guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who are the guided. S. 28:56

If We had so willed, We could have given every soul its guidance; but now My Word is realized – ‘Assuredly I shall fill Gehenna with jinn and men all together.’ So now taste, for that you forgot the encounter of this your day! We indeed have forgotten you. Taste the chastisement of eternity for that you were doing!' S. 32:13-14

If Allah had willed, He would have made them one nation; but He admits whomsoever He will into His mercy, and the evildoers shall have neither protector nor helper… Whatever affliction may visit you is for what your own hands have earned; and He pardons much. You are not able to frustrate Him in the earth; and, apart from Allah, you have neither protector nor helper. S. 42:8, 30-31

And thus have We inspired in thee (Muhammad) a Spirit of Our command. Thou knewest not what the Scripture was, nor what the Faith. But We have made it a light whereby We guide whom We will of Our bondmen. And lo! thou verily dost guide unto a right path, S. 42:51 Pickthall

Thus, not only does Allah mislead the ungodly, he is the one who actually makes them ungodly in the first place and sends them straying from the very beginning! In other words, Allah has already determined beforehand who will be misled and has chosen not to grant certain individuals the ability to follow the guidance, thereby turning them into rebel sinners. Allah then decides to continue to lead these individuals astray for not believing in his message!(1)

In fact, the Quran makes the additional claim that the reason why any one wills or chooses to follow Islam is because Allah willed this for that individual; otherwise s/he would never have made the choice to believe!

And if thy Lord willed, all who are in the earth would have believed together. Wouldst thou (Muhammad) compel men until they are believers? It is not for any soul to believe save by the permission of Allah. He hath set uncleanness upon those who have no sense. S. 10:99-100

Verily! This is an admonition, so whosoever wills, let him take a Path to his Lord (Allah). But you cannot will, unless Allah wills. Verily, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise. He will admit to His Mercy whom He will; But the wrong-doers,- for them has He prepared a grievous Penalty." S. 76:29-31 

To whomsoever among you who wills to walk straight, And you will not, unless (it be) that Allah wills, the Lord of the worlds. S. 81:28-29

Allah also predetermines the actions of every person, whether good or bad

Allah is also said to have breathed into every person both his evil and good:

By a Soul and Him who balanced it, And BREATHED INTO IT ITS WICKEDNESS and its piety, S. 91:8 Rodwell

Here is Muhammad’s purported explanation of this verse:

Abu al-Aswad reported that 'Imran b Husain asked him: What is your view, what the people do today in the world, and strive for, is it something decreed for them or preordained for them or will their fate in the Hereafter be determined by the fact that their Prophets brought them teaching which they did not act upon? I said: Of course, it is something which is predetermined for them and preordained for them. He (further) said: Then, would it not be an injustice (to punish them)? I felt greatly disturbed because of that, and said: Everything is created by Allah and lies in His Power. He would not be questioned as to what He does, but they would be questioned; thereupon he said to me: May Allah have mercy upon you, I did not mean to ask you but for testing your intelligence. Two men of the tribe of Muzaina came to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Allah's Messenger, what is your opinion that the people do in the world and strive for, is it something decreed for them, something preordained for them, and will their fate in the Hereafter be determined by the fact that their Prophets brought them teachings which they did not act upon, and thus they became deserving of punishment? Thereupon, he said: Of course, it happens as it is decreed by Destiny and preordained for them, and this view is confirmed by this verse of the Book of Allah, the Exalted and Glorious: "Consider the soul and Him Who made it perfect, then breathed into it its sin and its piety" (xci. 8). (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6406)

In other words, Allah created the very evil that a person will eventually commit by breathing wickedness into the soul of every individual! This is confirmed by the following Islamic texts:

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:
I did not see anything so resembling minor sins as what Abu Huraira said from the Prophet, who said, "Allah has written for the son of Adam his inevitable share of adultery whether he is aware of it or not: The adultery of the eye is the looking (at something which is sinful to look at), and the adultery of the tongue is to utter (what it is unlawful to utter), and the innerself wishes and longs for (adultery) and the private parts turn that into reality or refrain from submitting to the temptation." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 77, Number 609)

Verily Allah has fixed the very portion of adultery which a man will indulge in, and which he OF NECESSITY MUST COMMIT (or there would be no escape from it). (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6421; see also Number 6422)

'Abdullah b. Mas'ud reported: Evil one is he who is evil in the womb of his mother and the good one is he who takes lesson from the (fate of) others. The narrator came to a person from amongst the Companion of Allah's Messenger who was called Hudhaifa b. Usaid Ghifari and said: How can a person be an evil one without (committing an evil) deed? Thereupon the person said to him: You are surprised at this, whereas I have heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: When forty nights pass after the semen gets into the womb, Allah sends the angel and gives him the shape. Then he creates his sense of hearing, sense of sight, his skin, his flesh, his bones, and then says: My Lord, would he be male or female? And your Lord decides as He desires and the angel then puts down that also and then says: My Lord, what about his age? And your Lord decides as He likes it and the angel puts it down. Then he says: My Lord, what about his livelihood? And then the Lord decides as He likes and the angel writes it down, and then the angel gets out with his scroll of destiny in his hand and nothing is added to it and nothing is subtracted from it. (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6393)

This next report comments on the story found in the Quran (Q. 18:73, 80) concerning a young innocent child that a prophet killed on the grounds that he would grow up to be an infidel:

Ubayy b. Ka'b reported that Allah's Messenger said: The young man whom Khadir killed was a non-believer by his very nature and had he survived he would have involved his parents in defiance and unbelief. (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6434)

The child was an unbeliever by his very nature, which means that Allah purposefully created him for disbelief, just as the following reports affirm!

4705. It was narrated Raqbah bin Masqalah, from Abu Ishaq, from Sa‘eed bin Jubair, from Ibn ‘Abbas that Ubayy bin Ka‘b said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘The boy whom Al-Khadir killed was created a disbeliever; if he had lived, he would have grieved his parents with his obstinate rebellion and ingratitude.’” (Sahih)

4706. It was narrated from Isra’il: “Abu Ishaq narrated to us, from Sa‘eed bin Jubair, from Ibn ‘Abbas, who said: ‘Ubayy bin Ka‘b narrated to us: “I heard the Messenger of Allah say concerning Allah’s saying: And as for the boy, his parents were believers – ‘The day he was created, he was created a disbeliever.’”’” (Sahih) (English Translation of Sunan Abu Dawud, Compiled by Imam Hafiz Abu Dawud Sulaiman bin Ash‘ath – From Hadith no. 4351-5274, ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair ‘Ali Za’i, translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Canada), final review by Abu Khaliyl (USA) [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: July, 2008], Volume 5, Chapter 16. Regarding Al-Qadar (The Divine Decree), pp. 216-217; underline emphasis ours)

And according to this next verse Allah also creates the idols which the people worship:

And he cast a glance at the stars, and he said, 'Surely I am sick.' But they went away from him, turning their backs. Then he turned to their gods, and said, 'What do you eat? What ails you, that you speak not?' And he turned upon them smiting them with his right hand. Then came the others to him hastening. He said, 'Do you serve what you hew, and Allah created you and what you make?' S. 37:88-96

Abraham supposedly claimed that Allah made them and their idols, meaning that it was Allah who moved them to make statues of false gods!

Even a passage such as the following which suggests that Allah helps those who strive to follow the guidance or lead astray those who reject it,

surely your striving is to diverse ends. As for him who gives and is godfearing and confirms the reward most fair, We shall surely ease him to the Easing. But as for him who is a miser, and self-sufficient, and cries lies to the reward most fair, We shall surely ease him to the Hardship; his wealth shall not avail him when he perishes. Surely upon Us rests the guidance, and to Us belong the Last and the First. S. 92:5-13

Is explained in terms of predestination:

‘Ali reported: We were in a funeral in the graveyard of Gharqad that Allah's Messenger came to us and we sat around him. He had a stick with him. He lowered his head and began to scratch the earth with his stick, and then raid: There is not one amongst you whom a seat in Paradise or Hell has not been allotted and about whom it has not been written down whether he would be an evil person or a blessed person. A person said: Allah's Messenger, should we not then depend upon our destiny and abandon our deeds? Thereupon he said: Acts of everyone will be facilitated in that which has been created for him so that whoever belongs to the company of the blessed will have good works made easier for him and whoever belongs to the unfortunate ones will have evil acts made easier for him. He then recited this verse (from the Qur'an): "Then, who gives to the needy and guards against evil and accepts the excellent (the truth of Islam and the path of righteousness it prescribes), We shall make easy for him the easy end and who is miserly and considers himself above need, We shall make easy for him the difficult end." (xcii. 5-10) (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6398)

'Ali reported that one day Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) was sitting with a wood in his hand and he was scratching the ground. He raised his head and said: There is not one amongst you who has not been allotted his seat in Paradise or Hell. They said: Allah’s Messenger, then why should we perform good deeds, why not depend upon our destiny? Thereupon he said. No, do perform good deeds, for everyone is facilitated in that for which he has been created; then he recited this verse: "Then, who gives to the needy and guards against evil and accepts the excellent (the truth of Islam and the path of righteousness it prescribes), We shall make easy for him the easy end…" (xcii. 5-10). (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6400)

The Quran also teaches that when Allah chooses to destroy a community he commands it to commit evil so as to have a basis to wipe it out!

And when We desire to destroy a city, We command its men who live at ease, and they commit ungodliness therein, then the Word is realized against it, and We destroy it utterly. S. 17:16

These texts clearly conflict with the assertion of Q. 16:33-34 that Allah doesn’t wrong a person but that they wrong themselves. Clearly, if everything happens according to Allah’s predetermined purpose and if Allah commands people to commit lewdness and ungodliness then Allah does in fact wrong people, despite statements to the contrary, since these communities are only carrying out the evil that has been foreordained for them.

In fact, the disbelievers themselves knew that the reason why they were worshiping the idols is because this was the express will of Allah for them. The Quran testifies that the unbelievers were aware that they would not be serving these gods had Allah not preordained this!

The worshippers of false gods say: "If Allah had so willed, we should not have worshipped aught but Him – neither we nor our fathers,– nor should we have prescribed prohibitions other than His." So did those who went before them. But what is the mission of messengers but to preach the Clear Message? S. 16:35

And they said: "If it had been the Will of the Most Beneficent (Allah), we should not have worshipped them (false deities)." They have no knowledge whatsoever of that. They do nothing but lie! S. 43:20

Contrary to the assertion of the last passage that the unbelievers were lying, the Quran itself actually confirms that they were right:

If it had been Allah's plan, they would not have taken false gods: but We made thee not one to watch over their doings, nor art thou set over them to dispose of their affairs. S. 6:107

Hence, Allah condemns the idolators for doing what he created them to do, namely, stray from the path by worshiping false gods!

More corroborating evidence from the Hadith literature

Here are some additional ahadith that confirm the fact that it is Allah who determines beforehand who will be saved and who will burn in hell:

'A'isha, the mother of the believers, said that Allah's Messenger was called to lead the funeral prayer of a child of the Ansar. I said: Allah's Messenger, there is happiness for this child who is a bird from the birds of Paradise for it committed no sin nor has he reached the age when one can commit sin. He said: 'A'isha, per adventure, it may be otherwise, because God created for Paradise those who are fit for it while they were yet in their father's loins and created for Hell those who are to go to Hell. He created them for Hell while they were yet in their father's loins. (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6436)

This next one is rather interesting:

He (Ibn Sa‘d) said: Then they said: O Apostle of Allah, our mother Mulaykah Bint al-Hulw used to secure the freedom of prisoners, feed the mendicant and show compassion to the poor. She had died. She had interred alive a daughter of very tender age, so what would be her condition. He said: She who interred her (daughter) alive and she who was interred alive are BOTH in hell fire. Thereupon they got infuriated. He said: Come to me. They came back and he said: My mother is with yours. They rejected it, and went away saying: By Allah! This man who made us eat the heart and thinks that our mother is in hell-fire, is not worthy of being followed. They set out and on the way they confronted one of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah who was bringing camels of sadaqah. They tied him and carried away the camels. This news reached the Prophet. He cursed them along with those whom he was cursing in these words: May Allah curse Ri‘l, Dhakwan, ‘Usayyah, Lihyan, and two sons of Mulaykah–Ibn Harim and Murran. (Ibn Sa'ad's Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, English translation by S. Moinul Haq, M.A., PH.D, assisted by H.K. Ghazanfar M.A. [Kitab Bhavan Exporters & Importers, 1784 Kalan Mahal, Daryaganj, New Delhi - 110 002 India], Volume I, Parts I & II, pp. 383-384; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Not only did the mother who buried her baby daughter alive go to hell, but so did her infant child who died!

And lest a Muslim argue that this is a weak narration here is another report which scholars have classified as sahih or sound that confirms that a woman who buries her daughter and the girl who is buried will both end up in hell:

4717. It was narrated from Ibn Abi Za’idah: “My father narrated to me, from Amir who said: ’The Messenger of Allah said: “The woman who buries her infant daughter alive, and the girl who is buried alive, are both in the Fire.”’” Yahya bin Zakariyya said: “My father said: ‘Abu Ishaq narrated to me, that ‘Amir narrated that to him from ‘Alqamah, from Ibn Mas‘ud, from the Prophet.’” (Sahih) (English Translation of Sunan Abu Dawud, From Hadith no. 4351-5274, Volume 5, Chapter 17. Regarding The Offspring Of The Idolaters, pp. 221-222; underline emphasis ours)

The following "authentic" narrations reiterate the point made by the foregoing Quranic verses which we examined that Allah ordains what a person will do, whether good or bad. Allah will then save or destroy an individual as a consequence of the very actions which were foreordained for him/her to do!

Ibn Abbas reported that Allah's Messenger was asked about the children of the polytheists, whereupon he said: It is Allah alone Who knows what they would be doing according to their creation. (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6433)

Chapter 3. What Has Been Related About Misery And Happiness

2135. ‘Asim bin ‘Ubaidullah said: "I heard Salim bin ‘Abdullah narrating a Hadith from his father who said: ‘‘Umar said: "O Messenger of Allah! Do you see that what we do is a new matter – or a matter initiated – or it is a matter already concluded?" He said: "O Ibn al-Khattab! It is a matter already concluded. For everyone is suited (for that which he is created). As for one who is among the people of happiness, then he works for happiness, and as for one who is among the people of misery, then he works for his misery."’" (Hasan)

[Abu ‘Eisa said:] There are narrations on this topic from ‘Ali, Hudhaifah bin Asid, Anas, and ‘Imran bin Husain. This Hadith is Hasan Sahih.

2136. ‘Ali narrated: "We were with the Messenger of Allah and he was scraping the ground, when he raised his head to the heavens, then said: ‘There is not one of you but (his place) is known’ – Waki‘ said: ‘His place has been decreed (be it) in the Fire, and (or) his place in Paradise.’ They said: ‘Shall we not rely upon this O Messenger of Allah?’ He said: ‘No. Work, for everyone is facilitated for what he created.’" (Sahih)

[Abu ‘Eisa said:] This Hadith is Hasan Sahih.


Everyone of us is being enabled to do what is written for him. There is no getting away from those deeds. But since no one knows what is allotted for him, or whether he is destined to do acts of blessedness or of wretchedness, each one of us is obligated to abide by the dictates of the Shari‘ah and do virtuous deeds, as exhorted to by the Prophets and written in the Holy Books. (English Translation of Jami‘ At-Tirmidhi, Compiled by Imam Hafiz ‘Eisa Mohammad Ibn ‘Eisa At-Tirmidhi, From Hadith no. 1897 to 2605, translated by Abu Khalil (USA), Ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair ‘Ali Za’i, final review by Islamic Research Section Darussalam [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: November 2007], Volume 4, pp. 198-200; underline emphasis ours)

Chapter 7. What Has Been Related About ‘The Hearts Are Between The Fingers Of Ar-Rahman

2140. Anas narrated: "The Messenger of Allah would often say: Ya Muqallibal-qulub, thabbit qalbi ‘ala dinik (‘O Changer of the Hearts! Strengthen my heart upon Your religion).’ So I would say: ‘O Prophet of Allah! We believe in you and what you have come with, but do you fear for us?’ He said: ‘Yes. Indeed the hearts are between two Fingers of Allah’s Fingers, He changes them as He wills.’" (Sahih)

[Abu ‘Eisa said:] There are narrations on this topic from An-Nawwas bin Sam‘an, Umm Salamah, ‘Abdullah, ‘Aishah, and Abu Dharr.

This Hadith is Hasan Sahih. This is how it was reported by more than one narrator from Al-A‘mash from Abu Sufyan, from Anas. And some of them reported it from Al-A‘mash, from Abu Sufyan, from Jabir from the Prophet. The narration of Abu Sufyan from Anas is more authentic.


Allah does have Hands and Fingers but not like those of His creatures. They are as befit His grandeur and glory. He is, thus, above all resemblance and similitude. We believe in them as they are mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadith without coining any similitude, or conjuring up any image, nor denying and explaining them away. (At-Tirmidhi, Volume 4, pp. 203-204)

Chapter 4. What Has Been Related About ‘One’s Deeds Depend Upon One’s End’

2137. ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud said: "The Messenger of Allah narrated to us – and he is the truthful and entrusted one: ‘Indeed the creation of one of you is gathered inside his mother in forty days. Then, for a similar period, he is a clot. Then, for a similar period, he is a piece of flesh. Then Allah sends the angel to him to blow the soul into him, and he is ordered to write four (things): To write his provision, his life-span, his works, and whether he will be wretched or happy. By the One besides Whom there is none other worthy of worship! One of you will do deeds of the people of the Paradise, until there is between him and it but a forearm span, then he is overcome by what is written for him, and he is sealed off with the deeds of the people of the Fire, so that he enters it. And indeed one of you will do deeds of the people of the Fire, until there is between him and it but a forearm span, then he is overcome by what is written for him, and he is sealed off with the deeds of the people of Paradise, so that he enters it.’" (Sahih)

[Abu ‘Eisa said:] This Hadith is Hasan Sahih.

(Another chain, but including Yahya bin Sa‘eed) with similar meaning.

[Abu ‘Eisa said:] There are narrations on this topic from Abu Hurairah and Anas and I heard Ahmad bin Al-Hasan say: "I heard Ahmad bin Hanbal saying: ‘I have not seen the likes of Yahya bin Sa‘eed with my eyes.’" And this Hadith is Hasan Sahih


It is necessary that all of us be constantly supplicating Allah for a good end to our lives, and salvation from an evil end. It is also necessary that we, on the basis of our seeing a person doing what he does, do not jump to judgement on whether he is destined for Hell or Paradise, since we have no means to know how he will behave towards the end of his life. (At-Tirmidhi, Volume 4, pp. 200-201; underline emphasis ours)

These specific narrations,

2142. Anas narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: "When Allah wants good for a slave, He puts him in action." It was said: "How does he put him in action O Messenger of God?" He said: "By making him meet up with righteous deeds before death."

[Abu ‘Eisa said:] This Hadith is [Hasan] Sahih.


Man derives his ability to perform virtuous deeds from Allah. Then again, it is Allah who is the final arbiter and judge of those deeds. We must, therefore, keep on praying to Allah for grant of ability to do such deeds and that He favor them with His approval and acceptance. (Ibid., Chapter 8. What Has Been Related About ‘Allah Wrote A List Of Paradise And The People Of The Fire’, p. 206; underline emphasis ours)

Introduce another problem since they conflict with the following reports which speak of Allah taking out Muslims from hell that had done absolutely no good deed:

2594. Anas narrated that the Prophet said: "Allah will say: ‘Remove from the Fire whoever remembered Me one day, or feared Me while in a state of sinning.’" (Hasan)

[Abu ‘Eisa said:] This Hadith is Hasan Gharib Sahih.


Remembering Allah and fearing Him is the sign of one’s faith. The Hadith confirms that even those persons who have no good in their Register of Deeds expect the weakest form of faith (iman) will ultimately get deliverance from Fire through Allah’s benevolence and mercy. (Ibid., Chapter 9. What Has Been Related About ‘The Fire Has Two Breaths,’ And What Has Been Mentioned About Those Who Will Exit The Fire From The People of Tawhid, p. 572; underline emphasis ours)


2596. Abu Dharr narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: "I know that the last of the people of the Fire depart from the Fire and the last of the people of Paradise to enter Paradise. A man will be brought forth and He will say: ‘Ask about his small sins and hide his large sins.’ So it will be said to him: ‘Did you do this and that on such and such a day, did you do this and that on such-and-such a day?’" He said: "Then it will be said to him: ‘For each of your sins you shall have a reward.’" He said: "So he will say: ‘O Lord! I have done things that I do not see here.’" He (Abu Dharr) said: "I saw the Messenger of Allah laugh until his molars were visible." (Sahih)

Abu ‘Eisa said: This Hadith is Hasan Sahih.


Allah’s benevolence and mercy are boundless. No rules or laws can bind Him, since He is for Whom it is said in the Qur’an: He cannot be questioned as to what He does. (21:23) He will, therefore, change the sins into virtuous deeds for whomever He wills. (Ibid., Chapter 10. Something Else Regarding The Story Of The Last Of The People Of The Fire To Leave it, pp. 573-574; underline emphasis ours)

How could so-called believers end up in hell in the first place if it is Allah who decrees and enables a person to do righteous deeds so as to merit eternal life? And why are they called the people of the Fire when this expression denotes one whom Allah has decreed destruction and wrath? Doesn’t this prove that Allah has ordained that specific Muslims would do no good work at all so he could send them to hell only to later take them out? So it is not the case that all whom Allah has chosen to save are empowered to live righteously and do their best to avoid sinning since many of those who are preordained to enter paradise will have done nothing worthy except for confessing that Allah is the sole deity. Actually, it seems that not all whom Allah has destined to hell will actually remain there since the individuals which are taken out according to the hadith are called the people of the Fire, not the people of Paradise!

Moreover, this further shows how unholy and unjust Allah truly is since he can simply arbitrarily forgive sinners and turn their wicked deeds into righteous ones without demanding that his justice and righteous requirements be satisfied.

For more on the subject of Allah taking Muslims out of hell please consult the following articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

To make matters worse there are specific narrations which claim that Allah deliberately created black skinned people for hell!

Abu Darda' reported God's messenger as saying, "God created Adam when He created him and struck his right shoulder and brought forth his offspring white like small ants. And he struck his left shoulder and brought forth his offspring BLACK as though they were charcoal. Then He said to the party on his right said, 'To paradise, and I do not care', and He said to the party in his left shoulder ‘To hell, and I do not care’." Ahmad transmitted it. (Mishkat Al Masabih, English translation with explanatory notes by Dr. James Robson [Sh. Muhammad Ahsraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters, Lahore-Pakistan, Reprint 1990], Volume I, Chapter IV, Book I.- Faith, pp. 31-32; bold and italic emphasis ours)


Narrated AbudDarda'
Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: Allah created Adam when He had to create him and He struck his right shoulder and there emitted from it white offspring as if they were white ants. He struck his left shoulder and there emitted from it THE BLACK OFFSPRINGS as if they were charcoal. He then said (to those who had been emitted) from the right (shoulder): For Paradise and I do not mind. Then He said to those (who had been emitted) from his left shoulder: They are for Hell and I do not mind. Transmitted by Ahmad. (Al-Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 38; ALIM CD ROM Version)

Hence, black people are condemned to hell for having the very skin color that Allah predetermined for them even before their creation! Is this just to condemn people on the basis of their skin color when they didn’t have a choice in the matter? These people weren’t asked beforehand whether they wanted to be black, white, Arabian, American etc., but this was something already decided beforehand by Allah.

Finally, it is obvious from the next reports that Muhammad believed in the doctrine of Original Sin to some extent since he blames Adam for expelling mankind from Paradise:

Chapter 2. What Has Been Related About The Argument Between Adam and Musa, Peace Be Upon Them

2134. Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet said: "Adam and Musa argued, Musa said: ‘O Adam! You are the one that Allah created with His Hand, and blew into you of His Spirit, and you misled the people and caused them to be expelled from Paradise.’ So Adam said: ‘You are Musa, the one Allah selected with His Speech! Are you blaming me for something I did which Allah had decreed for me, before creating the heavens and the earth?’" He said: "So Adam confuted Musa." (Sahih)

This Hadith is Hasan [Sahih] Gharib from this route, as a narration of Sulaiman At-Taimi from Al-A‘mash. Some of the companions of Al-A‘mash reported from Al-A‘mash from Abu Salih, Abu Hurairah from the Prophet. Some of them said: "From Al- A‘mash, from Abu Salih, from Abu Sa‘eed from the Prophet." This Hadith has been reported through more than one route from Abu Hurairah from the Prophet.


Whatever good or bad a man does was written fifty thousand years (a long time) before the creation of the heavens and earth. So if a man does a bad deed, let him offer his repentance and seek forgiveness from Allah. Once he has offered his repentance, there is no justification to blame him for the deed in question done by him. (At-Tirmidhi, Volume 4, pp. 197-198; underline emphasis ours)

Adam doesn’t deny that his sin caused his descendants to be cast out of heaven, but puts the blame squarely on Allah since he had already foreordained Adam’s fall before creating the heavens and earths!

The Dilemma

Now that we have examined what the Islamic corpus teaches concerning Allah’s preordainment of all things and man’s responsibility to follow the guidance it is apparent that the Muslims are faced with a major problem. They have a huge dilemma on their hands since the Islamic teaching concerning predestination and human "choice" is a contradiction which cannot be reconciled.

In light of what Islam teaches the obvious questions to ask are, how can a person believe in the message at all if Allah doesn’t will it for him/her? What choice does man really have when Allah creates even his very desires, words and actions beforehand? And how can people be condemned for their unbelief when Allah has created them for disbelief and has chosen to send them to hell before creation itself?

Moreover, why command Muslims to fight and kill idolators and/or subjugate the People of the Book for not believing in Allah's message when these individuals were created to be what they are, whether Jews, Christians, Hindus etc., and cannot turn to Islam even if they wanted to? And if any members of these religious communities do convert it is because s/he was predestined to do so which means that coercion, violence and the threat of death are unnecessary and should not be used as means to bring people to Islam.

Finally, why kill apostates when those who turn away from Muhammad's religion were predestined to do so and cannot choose to do otherwise? Are we to assume that it is just for Allah to not only decree that many individuals would turn renegades but also command that Islamic societies where shariah is implemented to kill these persons for doing exactly what Allah decided they would inevitably do even before they were created? As Muhammad is reported to have said concerning Adam's supposed response to Moses when the latter confronted the father of the human race for causing all of mankind to be expelled from paradise: Do you blame these apostates for doing something which Allah decreed even before creating the heavens and the earths?

It is clear from the foregoing that there are no good, rational answers to these objections and major contradictions.

Advice on how not to address and reconcile the problem

Since Muslims are notorious for committing the tu quoque fallacy (*), we therefore expect them to attack the Holy Bible as opposed to solving the problems raised by their own religious scriptures and traditions. And just in case they do we need to kindly remind our Muslim friends that trying to go this route doesn’t help their situation but only complicates matters for the following reasons.

First, pointing to what the Holy Bible teaches concerning Divine sovereignty, predestination, human responsibility etc. will not answer or solve the objections raised by the orthodox Muslim doctrine of predestination. This approach will demonstrate at most that both the Christian and Islamic traditions have major theological, philosophical and logical problems with their teachings concerning predestination and human choice.

Second, even though there may be some similarities between the Christian and Islamic views concerning these issues there are also profound differences which cannot simply be ignored and brushed aside. For instance, according to the Holy Bible God loves all sinners and desires all human beings to repent and be saved. Allah, on the other had, only loves those who love him and arbitrarily chooses whom he wills. The true God of the Holy Bible has even taken the initiative in reconciling man to Himself, and has conclusively proven his love for the world, by sending forth his Son the Lord Jesus Christ to die for the very sinners who hate and despise him. Allah, however, has done no such thing even for those who love him.

Lord Jesus willing, an article will be appearing soon where we will try to provide (by God’s grace) a detailed exposition of John 3:16 and a discussion on the nature and extent of God’s love. Hopefully, that will further highlight the major differences between what the Holy Bible says regarding God’s love, salvation, predestination, human responsibility etc., with what Islam teaches concerning these very same issues.

Related Articles


Appendix A – Predestination in the Creed of al-Tahawi

The following excerpts are taken from Muslim scholar Hamza Yusuf’s translation of The Creed of Imam Al-Tahawi (Al-Aqidah al-Tahawiyyah), published by Zaytuna Institute, 2007 (*). The creed is a summary of orthodox Islamic beliefs written by a renowned Muslim jurist named Imam Abu Ja’far al-Tahawi (853–933 AD). It has long been recognized as one of the most accurate descriptions of the essentials of the Muslim faith. All bold and underline emphasis is ours.

7. Nothing will be except what He wills. Pg. 50

20. He measured out the lots [of all He created].

21. He determined the spans of their lives.

22. None of their actions were concealed from Him before He created them. He knew what they would do before He created them.

23. He commanded them to obey Him and proscribed them from disobeying Him.

24. All things are in accordance with His determination and will, and His will is fulfilled.

25. His servants are without volition except what He wills for them. Thus, what He wills for them will be, and what He does not will for them will not be.

26. He guides, protects, and preserves whomever He wills by grace. And He misguides, forsakes, and afflicts whomever He wills by justice. Pg. 52

52. God has always known the total number of those who will enter Paradise and those who will enter the Fire. Nothing is added to or subtracted from that number.

53. His knowledge includes all of their actions, which He knew they would perform.

54. "Each is facilitated to do that for which he was created." Pg. 58

56. Those saved are ultimately saved by God’s decision, just as those damned are ultimately damned by God’s decision.

57. The essence of the divine decree is God’s secret within creation. No intimate angel or prophetic emissary has ever been privy to it.

58. Delving into the decree is a means to a spiritual loss, a descent into deprivation, and a path toward transgression. So beware, and take every precaution against that, whether through perusal, ideation, or suggestion. God, the Sublime and Exalted, has concealed knowledge of the decree from His creatures and has prohibited them from desiring it. As the Sublime said in His Book, He is not questioned about what He does–it is they who will be questioned (21:23). Hence, anyone who asks, "Why has He done this?" has rejected the judgment of the Book. And whoever rejects the judgment of the Book is among the disbelievers. Pg. 60

63. A servant of God is obliged to know that God’s omniscience preceded everything in His creation. He then measured everything out exactly and decisively. There is none among His creatures either in the heavens or on the earth who can nullify, overrule, remove, change, detract from, or add to His decree.

64. All of the aforementioned is part of the doctrine of faith, the principles of knowledge, and the assent of His unity and sovereignty as God, the Sublime and Exalted, said in His Book, And He created every thing and determined its measure (25:2). And He, the Sublime and Exalted, also said, And the command of God is an ordained decree (33:38). Pg. 62

God, the Sublime and Exalted, created Paradise and the Fire before creating [the world]. He then created denizens for both abodes. He admits to Paradise whomever he wills by His grace and condemns to the Fire whomever He wills by His justice. Pg. 72

107. Human actions are God’s creation but humanity’s acquisitions.

108. God, the Sublime and Exalted, has only obliged human beings to do what they are capable of doing, and they are only capable of doing what He obliged them to do – hence the meaning of "No strength or power exists save by means of God." We assert that no one’s strategy, move, or change can avert anyone from any act of disobedience to God, unless accompanied by God’s providence; nor has anyone the ability to initiate or fulfill duties to God save by the providence of God, the Sublime and Exalted. Pg. 74

The preceding quotations from one of the most authentic and widely recognized Islamic creeds provide further substantiation that orthodox Islam affirms and teaches that Allah has predestined all who will enter paradise or hell, and has also preordained the very actions that all of his creatures will commit by necessity.


(1) This serves to refute Zawadi who writes,

As for Allah making it appear as if the deeds of the evil doers are good, this is how He continues to misguide them. However, does that make it Allah's fault? No, the reason why Allah is misguiding them is because they themselves are corrupted and don't want to be in a relationship with Allah in the first place:


As for Allah saying that He could have willed that everyone be guided, this is only Allah telling us about His Power. It is within Allah's Power to create all of us guided. However, Allah decided to create us with free will and allow us to make the decision ourselves. If He were to force us to be guided then that wouldn't be free will. The same argument could be applied against Shamoun's God. Why the double standards? (Source)

Since the verses and narratives that we presented do not merely highlight the fact that Allah has power to guide us all. The texts expressly claim that Allah could, if he wanted to do, guide everyone to salvation but that this is not his will since he has chosen to save some and condemn others to hell. The sources further prove that Allah doesn’t simply make evil look good to those who are corrupted by their own free will and as a consequence of their rebellion and disbelief; rather, the Muslim scripture and Islamic traditions emphatically attest that the reason why evil seems lively to the disbelievers is because Allah has chosen them for hell and has therefore made them corrupt by nature so that they desire nothing but evil.

What makes this all the more amazing is that Zawadi contradicts himself by quoting the following Islamic source concerning predestination which actually confirms our position!

3. The third level is to have belief in Allaah's executive will and His omnipotence. They necessitate each other with respect to what was and what will be. But they do not necessitate each other with respect to what will not be and what was not. So what Allaah, the Most High, wishes exists by His omnipotence, AND IT COULD NOT BE ANY OTHER WAY, and what Allaah does not wish does not exist, due to the absence of Allaah's wish for it and not due to Allaah's inability to make it exist, may He, Most Great and Glorious, be far removed from that.

4. The fourth level is to have belief that Allaah Most High is the Creator of everything and that there is not a single atom in the heavens nor in the earth, nor that which is between them, that Allaah did not create. He is the creator of their movements and their lack of movements, may He be glorified. There is no creator besides Him and no Lord except Him. (Haafiz Ibn Ahmad Al-Hakamee, Predestination, With Commentary by Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips)

So here we see that when Allah predestines something it means that He must have had knowledge of it, recorded it, willed it (meaning He allowed it to occur) AND CREATED IT. So just because Allah might have predestined something evil to occur that doesn’t mean that this evil is ascribed to Him [why not?]. This only means that He knew that this evil would occur, recorded that it would occur, allowed it to occur AND CREATED IT. That is all. (Capital and underline emphasis and comments within brackets ours)

If Allah created the movements, or lack thereof, of every single thing then doesn’t this clearly establish the fact that a creature's every single action, desire, or word, whether good or bad, was created or foreordained by Allah, otherwise s/he wouldn’t or couldn’t speak, desire, or act in a certain way? Since Zawadi himself admits that Allah actually does create the evil that he wants to occur then how does this not prove that Allah has already decided to create people for both heaven and hell, and even created the very actions that they will do which will lead them to either one of these eternal abodes?

It is rather unfortunate and sad that Zawadi doesn’t bother to take the time necessary to really understand the implications of his own sources.

Finally, please do notice Zawadi's tu quoque fallacy which we warned of in this article.

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