The Predetermination of Death


يٰأَيُّهَا الَّذينَ ءامَنوا لا تَكونوا كَالَّذينَ كَفَروا وَقالوا لِإِخوٰنِهِم إِذا ضَرَبوا فِى الأَرضِ أَو كانوا غُزًّى لَو كانوا عِندَنا ما ماتوا وَما قُتِلوا لِيَجعَلَ اللَّهُ ذٰلِكَ حَسرَةً فى قُلوبِهِم ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحيۦ وَيُميتُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِما تَعمَلونَ بَصيرٌ﴿١٥٦﴾‏ وَلَئِن قُتِلتُم فى سَبيلِ اللَّهِ أَو مُتُّم لَمَغفِرَةٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرَحمَةٌ خَيرٌ مِمّا يَجمَعونَ﴿١٥٧﴾‏​

O you who have believed! Do not be like those who disbelieved and said about their brothers when they travelled through the land or went out to fight, “If they had been with us, they would not have died or have been killed.” So Allah makes that (misconception) a regret within their hearts. And it is Allah who gives life and causes death, and Allah is watchful of what you do. And if you are killed in the path of Allah or die – then forgiveness from Allah and mercy are better than whatever they accumulate (in this world). (Surah Aal ‘Imraan v156-157)

The belief of taqdeer – that everything, good and bad, is predetermined by Allah Ta‘ala – is a basic tenet from the beliefs of Islam, and accepting it is essential for one to be regarded as a believer.

Among the beliefs of taqdeer is that each and every person’s moment and manner of death has been predetermined. Hence, no matter what a person may do, he cannot escape his death which is inevitable. Allah Ta‘ala says in the Quraan Majeed, “When their appointed time of death comes, they are unable to delay for even a moment, nor are they able to advance it by a moment.” (Surah Nahl v61)

Before the battle of Uhud, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had consulted the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) regarding whether they should face the enemy from Madeenah Munawwarah or they should march out to face the enemy. Many Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) proposed going out to face the enemy, and Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) accepted their suggestion. However, there were certain hypocrites who were displeased with this.

Thereafter, when the Muslims suffered a setback in Uhud, and some of the Muslims were martyred, these hypocrites began to say, “If we had any say in the matter (i.e. if our suggestion of fighting from Madeenah Munawwarah was accepted), we would not have been killed here.” Allah Ta‘ala responded to this saying, “Even if you had been inside your houses, those decreed to be killed would have come out to their death beds.” (Surah Aal ‘Imraan v154

In the verses above, Allah Ta‘ala explains that when every person can only pass away at his predetermined time, then there is no such thing as ‘untimely demise’. Furthermore, one should not be ensnared in the trap of Shaitaan and commence saying “If only…”, thinking that there was some way that he could have averted the calamity and bypassed the tragedy. Rather, what was meant to be came to pass, and it could have been no other way.

Sharee‘ah has permitted us to plan and adopt various means in order to secure our safety and safeguard ourselves from harm. However, we must remember that the plan of Allah Ta‘ala is ultimate and His decision is supreme. Hence, His plan will overcome all our plans and measures and His decree will definitely unfold according to His wish.

It is reported that the Angel of Death once came to Nabi Sulaimaan (‘alaihis salaam), and after entering, began to stare at one of the people seated in the gathering. After the Angel of Death departed, the man asked Nabi Sulaimaan (‘alaihis salaam), “Who was that person (who was staring at me)?” Nabi Sulaimaan (‘alaihis salaam) replied, “That was the Angel of Death.”

The man said, “I saw him staring at me, as though he intends to take my life!” The man then requested Nabi Sulaimaan (‘alaihis salaam) to instruct the wind to carry him to India, (where he felt that he will be safe, far from the Angel Death). Nabi Sulaimaan (‘alaihis salaam) obliged, and soon thereafter, the man arrived in India.

Later on, the Angel of Death came to Nabi Sulaimaan (‘alaihis salaam) who asked him why he had been staring at the man in the gathering. The Angel of Death replied, “I was looking at him in surprise, as I was instructed to take his life in India, whereas I found him here, seated with you.” (Musannaf Ibni Abi Shaibah #35409)

The entire world and all its systems are in the control of Allah Ta‘ala. There is no way that we can ‘beat’ the system to avoid or escape our death, as the decision of Allah Ta‘ala is ultimate.