This is a minute and scholarly investigation addressing scholars in particular.*

{(*)This Second Topic is the most profound and difficult of the questions of the mystery of Divine Determining. It is held by the all learned scholars to be one of the most important and controversial questions of theology and belief, yet the Risale-i Nur has solved it completely.}

If you say : “How is Divine Determining compatible with the power of choice?”

T h e A n s w e r : In seven ways...

The First:

The All-Just and Wise One, to Whose wisdom and justice the universe testifies with the tongue of order and balance, gave to man a power of choice of unknown nature which would be the means of reward and punishment for him. We do not know many of the numerous aspects of the All-Just and Wise One’s wisdom; our not knowing how the power of choice is compatible with Divine Determining does not prove that it is not so.

The Second:

Of necessity everyone perceives in himself a will and choice; he knows it through his conscience. To know the nature of beings is one thing; to know they exist is something different. There are many things which although their existence is self-evident, we do not know their true nature... The power of choice may be included among these. Everything is not restricted to what we know; our not knowing them does not prove the things we do not know do not exist.

The Third:

The power of choice is not opposed to Divine Determining, indeed, Divine Determining corroborates the power of choice. Because Divine Determining is a sort of Divine knowledge. Divine knowledge is connected with our will and choice, in which case it corroborates it, it does not nullify it.

The Fourth:

Divine Determining is a sort of knowledge. Knowledge is dependent on the thing known. That is, it knows it as it is. The thing known is not dependent on knowledge. That is, the principles of knowledge are not fundamental so that the knowledge directs the thing known with regard to its external existence. Because the essence of the thing known and its external existence look to will and are based on power. Also, pre-eternity is not the tip of a chain reaching into the past which should be considered the end point in the existence of things and a source of compulsion. Rather, pre-eternity holds the past, the present, and the future all at once, looking at them from above like a mirror. In which case, it is not right to imagine an end to past time which stretches back within the sphere of contingency and call it pre-eternity, and to suppose that things enter that knowledge of pre-eternity in sequence, and that oneself is outside it; to reason thus is not right. Consider the following example in order to explain this mystery:

Suppose there is a mirror in your hand and the area to your right is the past and the area to your left, the future; the mirror only holds what is opposite it. Then with a movement it holds both sides, but it cannot hold all of it. However low the mirror is held, less will appear in it, and the higher it rises, the area it encompasses expands, until it can hold both sides in their entirety simultaneously. Whatever occurs in the areas reflected in the mirror in this position cannot be said to precede or follow one another, or to conform to or oppose one another. Divine Determining is part of pre-eternal knowledge, and in the words of the Hadith, pre-eternal knowledge is “at an elevated station which from its lofty view-point encompasses everything that has been and will be from pre-eternity to post-eternity.” We and our reasoning cannot be outside of it so we can be like a mirror to the area of the past.

The Fifth:

Divine Determining has a connection with cause and effect. That is, this effect will occur through this cause. In which case, it may not be said that “Since so-and-so’s death is determined at such-and-such a time, what fault has the man who fired the rifle through his own choice, for if he had not fired it, the other still would have died?”

Question: Why may it not be said?

The Answer: Because Divine Determining specified that so-and-so’s death would occur through the man’s rifle. If you suppose that he did not fire the rifle, then you are supposing that Divine Determining had no connection with it, so with what would you decree his death? If you imagine cause and effect to be separate like the Jabriyya, or you deny Divine Determining like the Mu’tazila, you leave the Sunni School and join the heretics. We people of truth say: “If he had not fired the rifle, we do not know if he would have died.” The Jabariyya say: “If he had not fired it, he still would have died.” While the Mu’tazila say: “If he had not fired it, he would not have died.”

The Sixth:

*{*This is a truth addressing exact scholars in particular.}

According to Maturidi, inclination, the essence of the power of choice, is a theoretical or relative matter and may be attributed to God’s servants. But Ash’ari considered it to have existence, so did not attribute it to them. However, according to Ash’ari, the power of disposal within inclination is a theoretical matter, which makes the inclination and the disposal together a relative matter lacking a definite external existence. Theoretical or relative matters do not require causes through which, for their existence, necessity would intervene and nullify the will and power of choice. Rather, if the cause of the theoretical matters acquires the weight of preference, the theoretical matter may become actual and existent. In which case, at that juncture, it may be abandoned. The Qur’an may say to a person at that point: “This is evil; do not do it.” Indeed, if God’s servants had been the creators of their actions and had had the power to create, then their wills would have been removed. For an established rule in the sciences of religion and philosophy is: “If a thing is not necessary, it may not come into existence of itself.” That is, there has to be a cause for a thing to come into existence. The cause necessarily requires the effect. Then no power of choice would remain.

If you say: Preference without a cause or attribute to cause the preference is impossible. Whereas the theoretical or relative matter we call human acquisition sometimes does a thing and sometimes does not; if there is nothing to cause the preference, preference without something to cause it would necessarily occur, and this demolishes one of the most important bases of theology?

The Answer: A being preferable without something to make it preferable is impossible. That is, a being deemed preferable or superior without a cause or attribute to make it so is impossible. But preference without something to cause it is permissible and occurs. Will is an attribute, and its mark is to perform a work such as that.

If you ask: “Since the one who creates the murder is Almighty God, why do you call me a murderer?”

The Answer: Because according to the rules of grammar, the active participle is derived from the infinitive, which is a relative matter. It cannot be derived from the verbal noun, which is an actual or existent matter. The infinitive is our acquisition; so we are called the murderer. The verbal noun is Almighty God’s creature. Something which gives an inkling of responsibility cannot be derived from the verbal noun.

The Seventh:

For sure, man’s faculty of will and power of choice are weak and a theoretical matter, but Almighty God, the Absolutely Wise One, made that weak and partial will a condition for the connection of His universal will. He in effect says: “My servant! Whichever way you wish to take with your will, I will take you there. In which case the responsibility is yours!” If the comparison is not mistaken, you take a powerless child onto your shoulders and leaving the choice to him, tell him you will take him wherever he wishes. The child wants to go to a high mountain so you take him there, but he either catches cold or falls. So of course you reprimand him, saying, “You wanted to go there,” and you give him a slap. Thus, Almighty God, the Firmest of Judges, makes His servant’s will, which is utterly weak, a condition, and His universal will follows it.

I n S h o r t : O man! You have a will known as the power of choice which is extremely weak, but whose hand in evil acts and destruction is extremely long and in good deeds is extremely short. Give one of the hands of that will of yours to supplication, so that it may reach Paradise, a fruit of the chain of good deeds, and stretch to eternal happiness. And give its other hand to the seeking of forgiveness, so that it may be short for evil deeds and will not reach the Zakkum-tree of Hell, which is one fruit of that accursed tree. That is, just as supplication and reliance on God greatly strengthen the inclination to do good, so repentance and the seeking of forgiveness cut the inclination to do evil, putting an end to its transgressions.