One issue related to God’s justice is the topic of determinism and free will.
The proponents of the philosophy of determinism contended that man is not free in his deeds, behavior and speech and that even the movement of his limbs and organs is performed as obligatorily as the movement of parts of a car.
This raises the question: How is this opinion compatible with the issue of God’s justice? For this
very reason, the Muslim group called the Ash’arites to whom we referred previously, and who deny the concept of logical good and evil, have accepted determinism and have denied justice. By accepting determinism, one no longer has to accept the issue of justice.
To clarify this issue, we should first discuss some other topics.
THE ORIGIN OF THE BELIEF IN DETERMINISM
Every body feels deep inside himself that he has freedom of choice. For instance, he can decide to help his friends financially or not; he can drink water when he is thirsty or decide not to do so. He is free to forgive or take revenge on anybody who has wronged him.
۱۱۸ Ü Fifty Lessons on the Principles of Faith for Youth Every one can distinguish between the shaking of the hands of a sick or old person and someone shaking their hands of their own free will. So how is it that some people accept the philosophy of determinism when everyone intuitively feels that man is free in his nature?
There are several reasons for this orientation, one of which is presented here: When one sees that the environment influences everybody, that training affects everyone, that culture and indoctrination influence man’s soul and mind, that economic factors sometimes elicit reactions in people and that the influence of heredity is inevitable, one naturally jumps to the conclusion that man cannot act freely, and that all internal and external factors influence his decisions and that these behaviors would not have been manifested had these factors not existed before hand.
These states of affairs are referred to as environmental determinism, hereditary determinism and the philosophy of determinism in general.
The Basic Error of the Proponents of Determinism:
These people, however, have neglected one fundamental point: it is not the issue of “stimuli” and
“minor causes;” rather, it is the issue of the ultimate cause. In other words, nobody could deny the role of the environment, culture or economic factors on human thinking and activity. The point is, despite the influence of all these stimuli, it is we who arrive at decisions in the final analysis.
This is because in an oppressive social environment, such as a tyranny, in which everybody could engage in corruption, one does not have to become corrupt. In that type of social situation, one could decide to avoid receiving bribes or not to frequent centers of corruption and decide to remain intact, healthy and whole.
Thus, environmental circumstances should be distinguished from the ultimate cause.
We have instance of individuals raised in a corrupt family environment or culture, or who have inherited something inappropriate, but who have followed the right path and have even risen up against the corrupt environment. If everybody had to be the immediate product of his own time and environment then no fundamental revolution could have been created or produced. Under such conditions, everybody would have had to adapt himself to the status quo and no one
could have hoped for any improvement in the social order.
All this indicates the fact that none of the aforementioned factors are vital to our destiny. Rather, each one only sets the background for our activity. The main decision is arrived at by one’s own determination.
This resembles the situation when we decide to fast on a hot summer’s day. Every part of our body craves for a drop of water. However, we ignore such a desire in order to obey God’s commands. Under similar conditions, another person could yield to his wants and
consequently break his fast.
We shall conclude, therefore, that beyond all stimuli, there lies a vital factor called man’s power to make decisions.
The Politico-Social Factors Involved in the Philosophy of Determinism:
The issues of free will and determinism have always been misused during man’s history. There have been a few peripheral factors that have given rise to supporting the issue of determinism and denying free will: Among them are the following:
Political Factors To carry on with their illegitimate governments and in order to suppress the fires of revolution arising among the oppressed classes of society, most tyrants and despotic statesmen have spread the illusory thought that we are not free to decide on our own and
that the hand of destiny and the determinism of history write our fate. They erroneously conclude then, that it is one’s destiny that makes a prince or a beggar.
It is obvious that such a philosophy could easily stupefy the masses and set the stage for the
continuation of colonial policies. In accordance with wisdom and the Shariah however, our destiny lies in our own hands and fate, in its deterministic sense does not exist. Divines decrees depend to a large degree on our will, faith, and endeavor.
Psychological Factors There are some losers who are unwilling to accept the fact that the real cause for their failure has been their laziness and lethargy. In order to justify their laziness, they resort to the philosophy of determinism which they blame for their laziness. In this way, they
arrive at a pseudo-peaceful state of mind. They claim that they have been wretched from the very start and that nothing could alter their destiny. They pretend that they are extremely intelligent and talented but fate has not been kind to them, however.
Social Factors Some people prefer to be free to engage in libertinism and pleasure-seeking activities. They somehow convince themselves that they are innocent and they usually deceive the society into believing that they really are innocent.
For this purpose, they resort to the philosophy of determinism in order to justify their own sensual and whimsical behavior.
However, we are well aware of the fact that all of these are lies. Even those who present these baseless excuses know that they are not telling the truth. But they are hindered from expressing the truth by their whimsical and transient desires.
Thus, in order to purify our society, we should combat the very notion of determinism, which has been a tool in the hands of colonialists in order to carry out their plans and in the hands of losers in order to justify their failures.
THINK AND ANSWER
What is the difference between the schools of determinism and free will?
What sorts of proofs do the proponents of determinism rely on?
How would you explain the effects of environment, culture, and heredity?
What political, mental, and social factors lie behind the school of determinism?
What should our position be vis-à-vis such factors?