Perseverance: what gives predestination a run for its money

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“It wasn’t destined to happen.”  This is what many Muslims say when they give up pursuing something in life that they are not easily able to grasp.  But in reality, that is the same as saying “sour grapes.”  I used to be one of those people who believed that no matter what we do only Allah SWT can really make our life decisions.  However, certain recent personal experiences, reflection on my past, and exposure to certain books and information have all led me to conclude otherwise.

According to my research, scholar after scholar, imam after imam have all tried to nail the same message: the written destiny with Allah SWT is not formed by Him writing it and you doing it, but rather it is you doing it and Him writing it as a result.  Remember that Allah SWT is all-knowing and is not bound by time, and so He has knowledge of what we do throughout our life.  But unfortunately, this concept of taking responsibility for your own life falls upon deaf ears when it comes to many practicing Muslims.  People confuse Allah’s knowledge of the future as something they have no control or say in.  People often say things such as, “It doesn’t matter what I do, everything is in His control.”  Of course everything is in Allah’s hands, but Allah runs the affairs of this world according to some rules (which He has created).

People sometimes point to others’ success and discover what steps were taken, but then call it simply “God’s will” when they fail to reproduce those same results after following those certain steps.  But besides being God’s will, which by the way, everything that happens is, the reason that different people get different results from engaging in the same types of actions is because every act committed is done so under different circumstances, in different environments, and with different people.  All these factors will almost always differ from person to person and could mean different end results.  Therefore, it is possible to still succeed, but one may have to tweak or maybe even completely revamp their strategy according to one’s own experience or setbacks.

Even scientists in this realm of study have similar theories regarding free will.  Many assert that human beings are indeed co-creators of their destiny.  This means that we are in a partnership with Allah SWT, which puts the burden of responsibility on us, because we are constantly communicating to Allah SWT what we want our life to look like, and based on our thoughts, words, and actions, He delivers us what we deserve.

The other thing people do not realize, is that when you set out to achieve something, and you fail in your attempt, it does not really mean you are not meant to have it in your life. What it most likely means, is that you are not meant to have it at this time in your life.  It is possible that Allah SWT wants you to grow spiritually by facing some hardships.  This means that if you really want it, then you must learn from the errors of your first and possibly subsequent tries, and you may be nudged in this way to come up with different plans to achieve your goal.  There are three levels of difficulty in achieving one’s goals: easy, hard work, and very difficult.  It is also not necessary that everything you cannot achieve easily is bad for you, because there are many things we achieve easily that soon after pose hardship for us.  There is not necessarily a direct link between what is difficult to achieve and what is harmful for us.

Take the example of the Prophet pbuh.  It was extremely difficult for him to initially spread Islam, but that did not mean it was “not meant to be.”  The fact that Islam did indeed spread and was eventually widely embraced happened because the Prophet pbuh and others who followed his example made it their life mission to spread Islam no matter what the cost.  In the process, the Prophet pbuh and his followers (may Allah be pleased with them) learned a lot about life and each person grew stronger in spirituality and wisdom.  Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to go through continuous struggle and perseverance to achieves one’s greatest goals or dreams in life, because Allah SWT wants us to “grow” and expand our minds.

This rule about persevering to achieve one’s goals has been embraced by many people, regardless of their religion, and since it is a rule of Allah SWT, it works for everyone.  All such people state that obstacles are only put there to separate those people who really want something from those who don’t really want it.  This is a profound statement, because it strikes at the core of the reasoning behind why Allah SWT makes some things so difficult for some, while very easy for others.  Life is a test, and Allah SWT has made it clear in the Holy Quran that we will all be tested at different times in different ways.   If you look back at your own life, you will see that whenever you really wanted something badly, you did not stop until you achieved it.  Allah SWT has set up the world in this way, and we must accept that some things in life will not be easy to achieve, but that does not mean they are impossible to achieve.  Even people who choose to do harmful and immoral acts are able to do them because the rule of perseverance is neutral.  If you chooses to engage in shameful acts or embrace an immoral lifestyle, and even if you face obstacles to make them a set reality for yourself, you will probably succeed at some point if you keep going at it.

So I hope that you understand the law of perseverance.  Next time you catch yourself or a loved one moping about their horrible “luck” or wondering why Allah SWT is not giving them something they really want, then you need to correct such thinking by asserting that although Allah is Master of everything, He allows people to achieve unimaginable feats if they have the courage to persevere, which often means working outside their comfort zone.

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