Has Allah plotted out different paths for us to follow, and we but choose which one? Or is it that He has chosen only one way for us?
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Thank you for your important question.
From our side of the coin of predestination, the side upon which we do not see our futures and do not feel Fate pushing us around, the future is completely open; it is up to us to earn our livings, develop our relationships, get serious about our religious lives and reap the harvest of our own efforts. This is not the complete reality, but it is practically how we deal with things.
From the other side of the coin, the side upon which Allah’s absolute will, power, and knowledge reign, and where everything is created directly by Him, there is only one future: He has spelled it out in complete detail. This is the reality. However, this is not something that we experience, so we cannot practically deal with it.
Knowing that there is an ultimate plan in everything is however very important. It is important to know that one’s income, abilities, opportunities, and happiness are all completely planned out and designed by Allah. This helps us be patient with Allah’s will, and rest assure that all is going in the right direction.
Practically though, we have to take 100% responsibility for our worldly and religious lives. If things that are within our control are going downhill, we have to stand up to the financial, medical, relational, or moral challenge and do something. We cannot just sit there and blame Fate.
As for the hadith in the question, it reads:
“No one will enter Paradise until he is shown his seat in the Hell-Fire that he would have had if he had done bad, so that he might be even more grateful, and no one will be enter Hell until he is shown his seat in Paradise that he would have had if he had done good, so that he might be even more sorrowful.” [Bukhari]
I pray this helps.
[Ustadh] Farid Dingle
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.