Divine Will and Human Will 2

Divine Will and Human Will 2

c. Certain causes are dependent on other ones in efficacy but without such a dependency in their existences such as the roles that human volition, the motion of the hand, etc. play in producing writing [in which case the will to write propels the hand into motion, which in turn moves the pen, and which in turn makes ink marks on the paper that constitute the writing] or such as the soldier’s obeying his superior [in which case, the soldier’s will to perform a certain action depends on the superior giving an order but the soldier’s existence itself does not depend on the superior’s existence].

d. Two sets of causes are at work in generating one effect in the same mode (haythiyyah) and from the same aspect (jahah)—which is technically referred to as “the concurrence of two complete causes in generating one effect.” An example of this would be a single piece of writing on one specific corner of a sheet of paper, written by two writers writing simultaneously.

Or if one particular plant were to grow by the work of two [distinct and independent] groups of causes—e.g. soil, farmer, seed, etc.—simultaneously. In this case, “mutual exclusion” would result, and thus [the actualization of] this case is impossible.

For, the agency [i.e. the work, the acting] of each set would bar the agency of the other set, resulting in either one rendering the other ineffective (which would mean that two complete causes have not actually concurred and only one has produced the effect unilaterally) or both mutually hindering the agency of one another (which would mean that neither of the complete causes has been actualized so as to take part in creating an effect). Therefore, as this case is impossible, there is no actual instance of it.

e. Several sets of causes, vertically associated, generate a single effect, in such a manner that the inferior cause is dependent upon the superior in its existence as well as in its agency [or efficacy]; such as, the relation between the grandparents and the parents in the procreation of the latter’s children.

Considering the above-mentioned classification, it must be clarified under which of the aforementioned categories the concurrence of Divine causation, agency, and will with those of His creatures—including human beings—falls.

If this concurrence were of the first, second, or third types, the result would be the existential independence of the human being and the rest of the creatures from Allah (awj), which would contradict the unity of the Divine Acts. Thus on careful examination, the possibility of such instances would prove unacceptable. It cannot be of the fourth category either, as this does not have any occurrence in reality. Furthermore, it is erroneous to consider the concurrence of human will with Divine will impossible as the human being would not even exist without his connection to Allah (awj), and thus his complete agency as parallel to Allah (awj) is not possible(1) so to give rise to the potentiality of parallel and simultaneous concurrence in generating one effect.(2)

Thus the only category plausible is the last one; that is, the human will and agency being vertically inferior to Divine will and agency.

However to understand how the concurrence of Divine and human will in such a vertical manner does not contradict man’s free will, attention must be paid to the different types of Divine will.

In a general classification, Divine will is understood in two ways:

1. The will of essence;

2. The will of action.

The latter is subdivided into the generative will and the legislative will.

The Will of Essence

 It is the Divine will that is assigned to Him without the need to consider the creatures or Allah’s (awj) relation to them. Hence, it is identical with the Divine Essence and is the necessary requirement of Divine volition, of His not being restrained by any other agent, of His not being overpowered by anything, and of His needlessness in relation to all creatures. The human being and his relation to Allah (awj) have no role in this sense of Divine will.

The Generative Will of Action

This is Allah’s (awj) will in establishing the objective destiny and portion; that is, it pertains to the systems governing the cosmos, how things come about and operate, and their certain and definite ends This is manifested in the creation of creatures in different shapes, different ways, and in different times.

In the world of being, the Divine generative will governs the entire corpus of existents, including human beings, and as such, no creature has the will or choice to violate it, as is pointed out in the following verses:

“Then He turned to the heaven, and it was smoke, and He said to it and to the Earth, ‘Come! Willingly or unwillingly!’ They said, ‘We come heartily.’;(3)


“There is none in the heavens and the earth but he comes to the All-beneficent as a servant.”(4)

The human being has been created as a willing and volitional creature based on the Divine generative will of action and thus cannot divest himself of free choice and will. So whether he likes it or not, he must act on his own accord, choose the path he desires to follow and determine his own fate. He has no choice in being a volitional creature, just as he has no say in choosing his parents, his gender, or his appearance.


The Legislative Will of Action

This will is identical with Divine legislation for the willing and volitional human being.(5) In the very act of lawmaking for humanity, no one can share the authority with Allah (awj) and no one is capable of changing the laws before they reach the people.

Therefore, the angels, prophets, and successors to the prophets are duty bound to convey to the people the exact rules revealed to them without the slightest change and to interpret and clarify them only in the framework designated by Allah (awj). It is in the stage of implementing these injunctions that the human being has been given the capacity to obey or disobey [on his own accord].

Hence, by making the right decision, the human being can conform his will to the will of Allah (awj), the Supreme, and being satisfied with the Divine generative will, can decide to abide unconditionally by the Divine legislative will thereby securing his final felicity and meriting the leisure and serenity of Paradise—to such an extent that Allah (awj) will satisfy his wishes, whatever they may be, very quickly:


“…but those who have faith and do righteous deeds will be in the gardens of paradise: they will have whatever they wish near their Lord. This is the greatest grace.”(6)

As they preferred Divine satisfaction over their own, Allah (awj) will in return be pleased with them and will reward them so abundantly that they would be happy with what they have done and with their Lord.(7)

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1. For this would mean that the human being is independent of Allah (awj) in his existence. (Tr.)

2. The reason why this is being said here is that those who have refuted the concurrence of Divine will with human will have first assumed that the only manner in which two causes can concur is if they were parallel in their agency and causation. And because this type of concurrence is obviously impossible, they concluded that the human being is independent in his will. While their mistake stems from their lack of conceiving two or more causes related in a vertical and hierarchical manner; i.e. cause B receiving its existence and efficacy from cause A; and cause C in turn receiving its existence and efficacy from cause B, and so on. (Tr.)

3. Surat al-Fussilat (41), Verse 11.

4. Surat Maryam (19), Verse 93.

5. That is, this concept is abstracted from the act of legislation itself and externally has no instance but the legislation itself. However, the human mind abstracts it from the concept of legislation itself and treats it as a different entity, although externally both concepts refer to the same thing. (Tr.)

6. Surat al-Shura (42), Verse 22. Also see: Surat Qaf (50), Verse 35; Surat al-Nahl (16), Verse 31; Surat al-Zumar (39), Verse 34; Surat al-Furqan (25), Verse 16.

7. Surat al-Bayyinah (98), Verse 8. Also see: Surat al-Mujadalah (58), Verse 22; Surat al-Tawbah (9), Verse 100; Surat al-Ma’idah (5), Verse 119.