The divine decree means that Allaah has decreed all things from eternity, and He knows that they will happen at the times that are known to Him, in specific ways as He has written and willed. They will happen as He has decreed them and created them.
Belief in the divine decree is one of the pillars of faith without which a person’s faith is not valid, and belief in the divine decree is not valid unless the Muslim believes in the four principles of the divine decree which are:
1 – Belief that Allaah knows all things in general and in details from eternity, and not even an atom is hidden from Him in heaven or on earth.
2 – Belief that Allaah wrote all that in al-Lawh al-Mahfooz, fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and the earth.
3 – Belief in the effective will of Allaah and His all-encompassing power. Nothing happens in this universe, good or bad, except by His will, may He be glorified.
4 – Belief that everything is created by Allaah; He is the Creator of all things and the Creator of their attributes and actions.
These details will explain to you that Allaah has decreed from eternity who will be your family, who will be your wife, and who will be your children. Everything that has happened and will happen in the universe is decreed by Allaah. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, We have created all things with Qadar (Divine Preordainments of all things before their creation as written in the Book of Decrees __Al‑Lawh Al‑Mahfooz)”
This does not mean that a person has no will in this world, or that a person should not strive to apply the means of attaining happiness and soundness. Allaah has created a means to reach every objective. Whoever wants to have a child has to get married. Whoever wants to be happy in the Hereafter has to strive hard for it, and follow the path of guidance. Whoever wants wealth has to work hard.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Know that everyone will be guided to do that for which he was created. Whoever is meant to be one of the people of happiness will be guided to do the deeds of the people of happiness, and whoever is meant to be one of the people of doom will be guided to do the deeds of the people of doom.” Agreed upon.
Allaah does not tell anyone the details of what will happen to him, good or bad. Hence everyone has to strive to bring goodness to himself and ward off harm from himself. It is not wise to travel a path that leads to the opposite of what he wants and then say, “I will never get anything but that which has been decreed for me.” No one should sit in his house and then say: “I will never get any provision but that which has been decreed for me.” No one should eat rotten food and then say: “Nothing will happen to me but that which Allaah has decreed for me.” These are things which if anyone does them or says them, he would be regarded as insane and he is indeed insane.
With regard to marriage in particular, the Muslim knows that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) encouraged marriage to one who is religiously committed. This means that he should look for and seek out one who is religiously committed. No wise man would say “I will never try to do that” because if he is offered a woman who is insane or ugly or old or of bad character, he would never accept her as a wife. He will never say that he will marry the first woman he sees or the first woman who is offered to him. This supports what we have said, that he will turn away from some women and will think about others and will hesitate about some of them, and so on. If, after looking, thinking, consulting others and praying istikhaarah, he chooses a woman who is suitable for him, he will know that what Allaah decrees happens and what He does not decree does not happen, so he should hope that his Lord will guide him and decree for him that which is best for him and dearest to Allaah. Then if it happens, and his Lord decrees that he be given it or it be withheld, and whether it is in accordance with his desires or not, he has to think positively of his Lord and realize that Allaah does not decree anything for His grateful, patient, believing slave but that which is good. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for all his affairs are good and this does not apply to anyone except the believer. If something good happens to him he is grateful, and that is good for him, and if something bad happens to him he is patient, and that is good for him.” Narrated by Muslim (2999).
See also the answer to question no. 1804.
With regard to the effect of obedience and sin on changing the divine decree, you know that that which is in al-Lawh al-Mahfooz can never be changed. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” Narrated and classed as saheeh by al-Tirmidhi (2516), from the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Abbaas. As for the pages which are in the hands of the angels, Allaah may command His angels to change it because of an act of worship that a Muslim does or because of a sin that he commits, but in the end it will not be anything other than that which was decreed from eternity. This is indicated by the verse in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Allaah blots out what He wills and confirms (what He wills). And with Him is the Mother of the Book (Al‑Lawh Al‑Mahfooz)”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) urged us to do some acts of worship which have an effect of increasing a person’s lifespan, such as upholding ties of kinship, and he said that du’aa’ can repel the divine decree. What this means is that Allaah knew from the beginning that His slave So and so would do this act of worship, so He decreed for him a long life or a blessed provision, and au contraire a person may commit a sin because of which he is deprived of provision, and Allaah knew that and decreed it from eternity and decreed it according to His knowledge. Allaah does not compel anyone to obey Him or disobey Him.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) summed this up in one hadeeth:
It was narrated that Thawbaan said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Nothing increases one’s lifespan except righteousness and nothing repels the divine decree except du’aa’, and a man may be deprived of provision by a sin that he commits.”
Al-Busayri said in Misbaah al-Zujaajah (no. 33)
I asked our Shaykh Abu’l-Fadl al-‘Iraaqi (may Allaah have mercy on him) about this hadeeth and he said: This is a hasan hadeeth. End quote.
It was also classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah.
It was narrated from Anas ibn Maalik that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever would like his rizq (provision) to be increased and his life to be extended, should uphold the ties of kinship.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5640) and Muslim (2557).
Al-Tabaraani narrated with his isnaad from Abu ‘Uthmaan al-Nahdi, that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab said when he was circumambulating the Ka’bah and weeping: “O Allaah, if You have decreed that I should be doomed or commit sin, then erase it, for You erase whatever You will, and You confirm (whatever You will), and with You is the Mother of the Book, so make it happiness and forgiveness.”
The Taabi’i Abu Waa’il Shaqeeq ibn Salamah often used to supplicate with these words: “O Allaah, if You have decreed that we be doomed, then erase it and decree that we be blessed. If You have decreed that we be blessed, then confirm it for us, for You erase whatever You will and You You confirm (whatever You will), and with You is the Mother of the Book.” (Tafseer al-Tabari, 7/398).
See also the answer to question no. 43021.
Your love for a girl who is of good character and religiously committed means that you must beware of falling into anything that is forbidden in sharee’ah, such as corresponding with her, speaking to her or being alone with her. We do not advise you to pray to Allaah to make her like you, rather we advise you to pray that Allaah will bless you with a righteous wife. If you see a woman to whom the description of a righteous woman applies, then go ahead and propose marriage to her. There is no need to specify a particular woman who may reciprocate your love and then you may both do something that is contrary to sharee’ah but it may not be easy for you to get married. Asking Allaah to help you to find a righteous wife is better for you, in our opinion.
To be honest with you, we think that forming an attachment to that girl is a sign of idleness. What we mean is that you are not keeping yourself busy with important things, so the Shaytaan is filling your heart with things that will harm you and affect your religious commitment, or things that go against your best interests.
Ibn al-Jawzi narrated that Ibn ‘Aa’ishah said: I said to a doctor who was highly proficient: What is love? He said: The occupation of an empty heart. [Dhamm al-Hawa 290].
But tell me, by Allaah, are you seriously looking for a suitable wife right now?
If you are serious about it, would you really go ahead and get married now?
If you are serious about getting married now, are your circumstances suited for that?
It was narrated that Muhammad ibn Maslamah said: I proposed marriage to a woman, then I hid and waited to see her until I saw her among some date palm trees that belonged to her. It was said to him: Do you do such a thing when you are a companion of the Messenger of Allaah (S)? He said, “When Allaah causes a man to propose to a woman, there is nothing wrong with him looking at her.”
Narrated by Ibn Maajah (1864); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani.
Look at how the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) made permission to look conditional upon the intent to marry.
The scholars said: This is an exception to the prohibition on looking at a non-mahram woman. Hence it is only justified in cases of necessity when it is hoped that the marriage will go ahead.
Ibn al-Qattaan (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: If the one who is proposing marriage to a woman knows that she will not marry him, and that her guardian will not agree to it, then it is not permissible for him to look at her, even if he has already asked her family for her hand in marriage, because looking is only permitted so that it might be a cause of the marriage going ahead. If he is sure that it will not happen, then the basic principle that looking is not allowed remains in effect.
Al-Nazr fi Ahkaam al-Nazr, 391.
It is well known that wanting to get married on the part of one who cannot afford it or whose circumstances do not permit it at the present time is a kind of fooling about and wasting time, which distracts the heart from useful things, and may even cause harm.
When you are serious, then seek the help of Allaah and ask Him to guide you. If she remains as she is, and you have prayed istikhaarah asking your Lord for guidance, then go ahead and propose to her. Otherwise, there are many other women like her, so seek one who is religiously committed, may your hands be rubbed with dust!
We ask Allaah to guide you to that which will please Him, and to help you to do that which He loves and which pleases Him, and to bless you with a righteous wife and good offspring.
And Allaah knows best.