Islam and Fatalism

by Maulana Mustafa Khan

The Light (Pakistan), 16th February 1922 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 5, pp. 2–3)

A seeker-after-truth writes:

“We, the Mussalmans [Muslims], are called Fatalists by the non-Muslims, especially by the Christian writers. Some of them do not hesitate to say that the religion of Islam is a religion of fatalism, which makes the Mussalmans depend upon their fate and thereby the followers of Islam are going to be idle…. Please explain the Islamic doctrine about it.”

It is well-known that the Christian writers are very glib [smooth talking, but deceptive] in making unfounded charges against Islam. But the pity is they do not think seriously over the dog­mas as of their own religion. Take for in­stance the present question of Fatalism. It will perhaps be readily admitted that the whole superstructure of Christianity is raised upon the assumption that man is bound to commit sin. He has got a sinful nature. He has inherited sin from Adam and therefore cannot possibly avoid it. These are the catch words of every Christian. Is it not Fatalism? God has made human nature incapable of obeying the law, and therefore the old dispensation of Law was done away with by Jesus who came with a new dispensa­tion of Atonement. This is the funda­mental principle of Christianity, and to every thinking man it is fatalism pure and simple.

Nay, the case of our Chris­tian friends is rather worse. If the Mussalmans “are gradually going to be idle” because “they depend upon their fate”; if it is cruel on the part of Merciful God to predestine the “fate” of every man, and thus to make him “idle”, it is still more horrible to think that the All-Knowing God, knowing perfectly well that He has made man sinful and incapable of observing law, has been sending His Messengers with some sort of Law. It is indeed fatalism plus mockery.

As regards the Islamic doctrine, it may be noted that Islam has nothing to do with the erroneous notion of “Fatalism” which signifies that the “fate” of every man is prescribed and therefore he should sit still and wait. On the contrary, there is an explicit verse of the Holy Quran to the effect that one cannot get anything unless one strives for it. According to Islam, “man is created in the best of make.” He has been gifted with enormous capacities and capabilities and his progress, both phy­sical and spiritual, depends upon the culti­vation of the various faculties with which he is endowed.

The idea of predestination or more pro­perly, pre-measurement, in Islamic literature is with regard to the forces or elements of nature. The sun and the moon, for instance, are the most well-known luminaries of our solar system, and ac­cording to the Quran their courses are pre-measured by Providence. Simil­arly, there are other laws of nature which are unchangeable. As a matter of fact, our scientific, discoveries, our material progress, and our worldly prosperity entirely depend upon these Divine laws, which are predetermined.