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triploli

Is Free Will An Illusion?

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Note: U.A. stands for 'unacceptable answer'

 

1. If God created us, certainly He also shaped our brains and the ways we process thoughts. Ultimately, any decision we make is a product of His doing. Is free will then, an illusion? 

 

(U.A: God has shown us all the paths, good or bad, it is up to us which way we choose)

 

1. Everything is 'predetermined' and God is All-Knowing of what we do. Why then, do we participate in a pointless exercise whose outcome is already known and predetermined?

 

(U.A: Even though Allah is all-knowing, it is our choice to do good or bad, and Allah doesn't influence us in any way)

 

3. What is the purpose of our creation? 'Allah has created us to worship Him'. 

Did God already not have countless angels and jinn to worship Him? 

 

(U.A: He created us so we can experience all the good things in the world and have a chance to go to Heaven)

 

4. What then would be the concept of an 'ideal world'? Would it be one in which each and everyone sat down in prayer and nothing else? In that scenario, any effort made for advancement in this world would be contradictory to the sole purpose of human creation. 

 

(U.A: God knew this world would never be perfect) 

 

 

 

 

 

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Freewill vs Predestination

 

We are fully free to choose the choices given to us by Allah swt at every moment.

 

But the next choices we are given are dependent on our previous selections (collectively).

 

You goal is in life is to end on the right side of the Tree of Life :)

 

Please see http://heliwave.com/Soul.and.Spirit.pdf

 
God >

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4. What then would be the concept of an 'ideal world'? Would it be one in which each and everyone sat down in prayer and nothing else? In that scenario, any effort made for advancement in this world would be contradictory to the sole purpose of human creation. 

 

(U.A: God knew this world would never be perfect) 

 

And ideal world would be one where we advanced and learned and enjoyed the world that Allah has put us in, but in everything that we do, we do solely for His sake and for His pleasure and within His rules and boundaries. And in this way, everything that we do would be worship. 

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(bismillah)

 

Salaam alaikum,

 

The free will issue was always a thorny one for me.  I never found an acceptible answer until I discovered Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (AS)'s teachings.  In fact the wisdom attributed to Imam as-Sadiq (AS) played a very big role in helping me to come to the school of the Ahul Bayt (AS).

 

The Imam (AS) handled it like this: When a man asked him whether God coerced his bondsmen to sin. Al-Sadiq replied "Allah is more just than to make them commit misdeeds then chastise them for what they have done." The man further asked, "Has he empowered them with their actions?" al-Sadiq said, "If He had delegated it to them, He would have not confined them to enjoining good and forbidding evil." The man further asked, "Is there a station or a position between the two?" The Imam said, "Yes, wider than [the space] between the heaven and the earth." (History of Islamic Philosophy Nasr & Lehman Feb 1996).

 

(wasalam)

R

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How can you ask a question with unacceptable answers? Whats the philosophy in that? What is the justification? What makes it unacceptable enough to make the answer invalid?

 

I would ask you is this thread a mere illusion? Was it free will? Or your illusion to make a thread and ask questions? Was it an illusion to criteria the answers to a question as unacceptable?

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Let me get back to your first question, suppose God did shape our brains and our thinking. IF that is the case, then why are we "allowed" to go against Him? If He created countless angels to worship Him, and same goes for us, or why would He create beings who go against Him, by God's own creation (supposedly)?

 

Also some of your questions already presuppose things. You claim total predestination in your 2nd question, can you prove it?

 

Your third question, God did not create us to worship Him, HE is the almighty, He does not need our worship. He created us, out of His infinite mercy.

 

An ideal world would be peace and coexistence, where evil exists, but people chose to oppose it, or it is almost non existent.

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1. If God created us, certainly He also shaped our brains and the ways we process thoughts. Ultimately, any decision we make is a product of His doing. Is free will then, an illusion? 

 

(U.A: God has shown us all the paths, good or bad, it is up to us which way we choose)

Yes and no. Free will is an illusion "insofar" as everything other than God is an illusion and only God is the Real! Free will is real insofar as an illusion is to some extent also real. Everything about creation is in between existence and nonexistence, presence and absence, positivity and negativity, real and illusory, knowledge and ignorance etc.. Is a flower really beautiful? Are you really knowledgable? Am I aware? Are you alive? Is a mountain majestic? The answer to everything is yes and no. Because nothing of creation is absolute. Creation is relative. Only God is absolute.

1. Everything is 'predetermined' and God is All-Knowing of what we do. Why then, do we participate in a pointless exercise whose outcome is already known and predetermined?

Perhaps an analogy would help.

I have two lists of friends that I will invite to my party. List A is a special private list (known to me alone) of "specific friends" who are invited to my party. List B is a publicly known list which includes every single one of my friends and this list happens to be known to everyone.

Special List A:

Amr, Jabir, and Khalid

List B:

Zayd, Amr, Sayf, Zubayr, Imran, Sami, Benyamin, Jabir and Khalid.

Out of all the friends from List B some of them show up, and other don't. Out of all the friends from List B, Only Amr, Jabir and Khalid show up. Those people who show up correspond exactly to the special private List A.

God's knowledge is like List A (He has knowledge known to Him alone, of everyone that is a dweller of Hell and a dweller of Paradise). But God also has a List B where he allows people to choose between Hell and Paradise. It turns out that all those people who freely choose either Hell or Paradise are exactly those people on List A who are either dwellers of Paradise or Hell.

 

The whole point of us choosing goodness over badness is because it is for us to discover who we are. God already knows who we are but we don't know that yet!

 

Did God already not have countless angels and jinn to worship Him? 

 

(U.A: He created us so we can experience all the good things in the world and have a chance to go to Heaven)

He created every single thing to worship Him, not only humans and jinns. The reason why God single us (humans and jinns) out is because we are heedless. We need to be taught and reminded. Angels don't need to be reminded.

 

4. What then would be the concept of an 'ideal world'? Would it be one in which each and everyone sat down in prayer and nothing else? In that scenario, any effort made for advancement in this world would be contradictory to the sole purpose of human creation. 

 

(U.A: God knew this world would never be perfect)

Prayer is everything. The problem is many of us don't understand that prayer is everything. And that is why we think it is just about "sitting down". The reality is that prayer done sincerely is what makes the world advance. And no, technology, modernization, globalization, and father monoculture are most certainly NOT advancements of humanity but are in fact a regression and descent of mankind from a very lofty and high position it once had.

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Free will is whatever you want it to be. If you dont believe in free will, then you are a chained person, and if you do, then you are free. 

 

The body Allah has given to us is free. The soul inside of it is HIS slave. 

 

Free will and fate has no answer, its too broad of a topic, it all depends on how you view it. 

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Salam, I'll make a sincere attempt to answer your questions, but God knows best.

1. If God created us, certainly He also shaped our brains and the ways we process thoughts. Ultimately, any decision we make is a product of His doing. Is free will then, an illusion?

(U.A: God has shown us all the paths, good or bad, it is up to us which way we choose)

Although agree with the post above that it is not in the spirit of true inquiry to pose a question and then stipulate answers that you find unacceptable, I guess I am in luck in that my response to this question is not off limits according to you.

Your question takes for granted the assumption that our actions are the product of our brain chemistry. According to you, human action boils down to the output that is spit out by a wholly material biological computer after having processed an input. Where does the soul even come into that picture, let alone God. If you believe your question is valid, case closed; we are all soulless, mindless robots; emotions are not real; spirituality is absurd.

Now, that is clearly not the case. Everyone intuitively knows this. We all know that we have personal agency and can choose things for ourselves. You are not compelled to respond to my post one way or the other. The faculty of imagination alone makes it clear that our minds are not simply the sum of a finite number of neural pulses.

Now for the weighty question: is this perception of free will an illusion? As was stated in an earlier post, the answer to this question is both yes and no (but more so "no" in the areas that interest you the most).

Allah is the only absolute and only His Divine Reality has absolute free agency ( There is no free agent except for The Free Agent). Humans, being made in His image, have free agency to the extent in which they participate in th Divine Reality. To the extent that humans engross themselves in the transient, mundane and illusory trappings of material things, the divine attribute of free agency becomes ever more difficult to see; one feels trapped and ensnared in the laws of cause and effect.

Thus, the closest approximations of truly free agents in our world are those who most completely imbibe and manifest the Divine Reality. The Prophets, Imams and Awliya who act as the locus of manifestation of Allah's divine attributes are the only ones among us who have relatively unfettered free will.

As average human beings struggling in this world, we fall somewhere in between. We exercise freedom in our decisions but are for the most part ensnared by our nafs' attachment to base things. There are things that we have absolutely no freedom in: we cannot choose the time and circumstances of our birth, we cannot disregard the laws of physics, we cannot live forever, we cannot choose the time of our death (leaving aside suicide which is wholly another topic). The hybrid position of man is captured excellently by the anecdote of Hazrat Ali when asked about free will and predestination, in which he first told the questioner the raise his right leg off the ground, to which the questioner complied. Hazrat Ali stated that the mans action was an exercise of free will. He then told the questioner to keep his right leg up and raise his left leg in the air. The questioner obviously could not comply. Hazrat Ali stated that the mans limitations were an exercise of pre-determination.

1. Everything is 'predetermined' and God is All-Knowing of what we do. Why then, do we participate in a pointless exercise whose outcome is already known and predetermined?

(U.A: Even though Allah is all-knowing, it is our choice to do good or bad, and Allah doesn't influence us in any way)

Once again, your question contains some significant assumptions. The primary assumption being that everything is predetermined. Everything is not predetermined if you come to the conclusion that humans do have some form of free will. God's knowledge of what has happened, what is happening and what will happen does not change the fact that you have free will.

The problem I have with this question, it presuppose a very anthropomorphic view of God. The Ultimate Being Beyond Being is not sitting in some Celestial theater room watching the universe progress through time. God is beyond time and for the All-Knowing time is just another form of extension like mass or space. Just like the earth and the sun simultaneously exist into different spatial dimensions, our past, present and future simultaneously exist for a being beyond time. The concept of predetermination only exist when time is viewed in a linear fashion as experienced by human beings; The suffix pre- or post- do not apply to Allah.

Just because God exists beyond being and beyond time and has knowledge of all things, that does not mean that our choices are pointless. Our choices have concrete effects and repercussions on our material and spiritual worlds.

In a way, I guess I am answering with your unacceptable answer. But just because an answer is difficult to swallow, it doesn't make it unacceptable.

3. What is the purpose of our creation? 'Allah has created us to worship Him'.

Did God already not have countless angels and jinn to worship Him?

(U.A: He created us so we can experience all the good things in the world and have a chance to go to Heaven)

God was a hidden treasure and he wanted to be known. Allah has told us that it is in His essence (dhat) and in His nature to be known, to create and to manifest in His creation. Allah is al-Khaliq, al-Mubeen, al-Hazir, al-Zahir and al-Batin. Only Allah truly exists and all other existences are relative and contingent upon the manifestation of The Divine for their continued existence. For Allah to be known as a creator their must be a creation. For him to be known as a sustainer there must be something to sustain, for him to be known as one who covers transgressions there must be people who transgress. The means by which these divine qualities are known in the world is through creation itself, including the sustenance provided by the rain, the soil, an employer and a parent, the kindness shown by animals who serve us and the human kindness shown to friends, family and strangers. These qualities may be more directly experienced after death in a spiritual reality, but they are also mediated through a form of creation.

It is the manifestation of Allah in each of us that recognizes these qualities which are then amplified in the heart of one who is pure. The heart remembers it's origin, laments at its sundering from its origin and rejoices when it encounters a manifestation of the Divine (or in other words, something real). This remembrance is the ultimate reason for human existence. Dhikrullah, is the best of all prayers according to our Prophet and the Imams. Constant dhikr does not mean man should cloister himself; it means that humans are to yearn for a glimpse of the divine, act in a manner so as to bring about a manifestation of the divine qualities in the world and rejoice in remembrance when such manifestations are recognized by their hearts.

4. What then would be the concept of an 'ideal world'? Would it be one in which each and everyone sat down in prayer and nothing else? In that scenario, any effort made for advancement in this world would be contradictory to the sole purpose of human creation.

(U.A: God knew this world would never be perfect)

I don't really understand the question here. Now if by ideal we mean perfect, then I'm going to have to disappoint you with something "unacceptable". Nothing is perfect except for God and if this world was perfect it would be God and therefore would not exist. Since this world is not God, the existence of the world is relative and must be imperfect. When. Light is refracted through a Crystal, The individual colored beams of light that emerge can never approximate the pure unadulterated light which initially passed through the Crystal, either in power or wavelengths. The heart of one with a pure soul which reflects all of the multi-faceted and refracted jewels of Allah's hidden treasure is the closest approximation to perfection in this world.

You may think it is blasphemous to say, but if we were all purified in this manner there would be no need for formal prayer. We would all be in constant remembrance of God; we would nurture, sustain, be kind to, and cover the transgressions of everything and everyone around us. We would see the divine and everything and be content. But such a state has only been reached by a select few in this world, and it is nice and see you hope that we all reach such a state, which surpasses all of the minor forms of heaven, in the Ridwan of Allah.

If humans were to act in such a sanctified manner en mass, what couldn't be accomplished. No one would go hungry. Philosophical and scientific energies would be expended on projects that would sustain the environment and help mankind. The sky's the limit. But once again, such absolute perfection is metaphysically impossible.

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Free will is "our interpretation of event and how we react to it". If our interpretation and action are right, we are rewarded by HIM.  If we are wrong, then we can / allow to "return back to HIM", and the reward still the same (no less).  If we refused to interpret , then we do not exercise our free will.  But nature, we will always interpret and act, meaning we will always exercise our free will.  If we choose Allah swt to interpret to us, the we should follow His approved religion and representatives for our forward actions.

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Freewill to many is an illusion. They think they are acting freely but they have given up spiritual power that all they do is respond to the whispers of Sayateen of Jinn and humans.

 

Ultimately, to be free, we need to untie what Saytan tied, defending ourselves against the blowing of the dark forces, attack by the sword of honor, the sword of God, the honor of God, the might of God, the power of God. We need to awaken spiritually and develop a 6 sense that is very well aware of the attacks of the dark forces. 

 

Without such struggle, we are subject to the whims of Iblis and his forces, used like puppets.  Who we incline to, who we love, who we follow, what we do, our stronger thoughts, to most extent, we have little to no control.

 

You want to be free and will freely, fight back, think, reflect, have some resolve, and seek refuge in God from the evil forces of the Dajjal/Pharaoh and Iblis.

 

Consequently, the help of the obedient spirits (Angels, Prophets, Imams) is necessary to win this war, and their divine swords will help empower yours, but you should ask this help which is divine help,  from God.

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ASAK

I struggled with question of free will for long, especially when thinking how can something be free from the Omnipotent. But at last i found an answer mostly by self reflection and some observation. I don't claim this from theology. Simply we can think of free will as a special property of beings. For some creations like the immoveable no free wil has been bestowed upon it. For example, a stone can't move away even when threatened by a mortal blow like a hammer. However, do this to the sheep he'll move. Similarly, humans have been bestowed with this property alongwith other beings like animals & even insects. However, the realm of free will when combined with intelligence as bestowed to mankind is very big as compared to restrictions on free will to other creations. A carnivore animal can't be held responsible for killing the chickens even when the ecology is destroyed. However, humans can be, if they have a choice to choose out of their "free will". So Allah has bestowed upon us a blessing to which we can be held to account for its usage just as He has given us limbs, senses & intelligence to which we are accountable as well. This is not the case with all other beings.

 

Historically, Banu Umayyad deliberately tried to start the cult of "fatalism" (i.e. you are tied to a fate no matter what you do) in order to absolve themselves off the genocide in Karbala. They argued that the Imam's destiny was such, therefore they were simply actors & not the perpertrators/oppressor they were made out to be. In a way, this view belittles the idea of free will. But naturally you see this view creates problems when judging somebody for a crime. The person can then claim similarity with this convoluted Umayyad thinking & escape punishment.

 

Jazakallah Khair

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Freewill to many is an illusion. They think they are acting freely but they have given up spiritual power that all they do is respond to the whispers of Sayateen of Jinn and humans.

 

 

I think there is some merit in that. There's also increasing evidence for it as well. For those who are interested. here is a lecture given at Yale university by nobel laureate Robert Schiller on prospect theory:

 

https://youtu.be/fyOA2nbjVVQ

 

From 7.00mins onwards he gives a specific example.

 

The basic idea is that individuals hate making losses and we weight the value of such losses more highly than gains of the same amount. Simply having something makes it more valuable to us. So, when we undertake certain actions e.g. insurance policies, we may think we are acting on the basis of "freewill", but actually we may not be.

Edited by Haji 2003

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Imam Reza I think was asked to explain the difference between predetermination and free will

Imam Reza told the man to lift one his right leg. After doing so, imam reza said: that is free will/bada

The he told him to lift his left leg without putting his right leg down, which of course was impossible. Imam reza then said: that is predetermination/qada

I don't have a ref for this though, but it's nice non the less.

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Note: U.A. stands for 'unacceptable answer'

 

1. If God created us, certainly He also shaped our brains and the ways we process thoughts. Ultimately, any decision we make is a product of His doing. Is free will then, an illusion? 

 

(U.A: God has shown us all the paths, good or bad, it is up to us which way we choose)

 

1. Everything is 'predetermined' and God is All-Knowing of what we do. Why then, do we participate in a pointless exercise whose outcome is already known and predetermined?

 

(U.A: Even though Allah is all-knowing, it is our choice to do good or bad, and Allah doesn't influence us in any way)

 

3. What is the purpose of our creation? 'Allah has created us to worship Him'. 

Did God already not have countless angels and jinn to worship Him? 

 

(U.A: He created us so we can experience all the good things in the world and have a chance to go to Heaven)

 

4. What then would be the concept of an 'ideal world'? Would it be one in which each and everyone sat down in prayer and nothing else? In that scenario, any effort made for advancement in this world would be contradictory to the sole purpose of human creation. 

 

(U.A: God knew this world would never be perfect) 

 

Salaam Brother,

Just to say that I'm here :) I'm going to write my own answer. (Since, apparently you have gotten your answer or don't care anymore)

 

[Note: Examples are just examples, they are just to make you understand, they aren't exactly the same as the subject!]

 

1. To make more understandable, take the example of a code-writer who uses the element of Random Number in his code. He has written every part of it, still he has no control on what number the application will use. That is the application's will!

 

2. "God knows what we do" has nothing to with us making the choice. It's like when a man in a helicopter sees that the man in a car will definitely drive into a pit, because he sees what is ahead. Still the choice to drive toward the pit is for the man in the car not the man in the helicopter.

 

3. Human beings are the most advanced creations in the line of worship. Angles and Jinn had some sort of worship, but this type of free will, along with Desire and Anger, was not found in other creations (their creations had different purposes) and these are the tools for true amd deep worship of God.

 

4. To worship ('ibadah) doesn't mean to sit and pray. It means to become the servant ('abd) of God, and that has different aspects. The "Ideal Worshipers" did different things: they spoke to people and fought wars (the Holy Prophet); they planted trees (Imam Ali); they gave away free food to people (Imam Hasan); they worked on farms and made job for many people (Imam Baqir); they taught at schools (Imam Sadiq); they took part in debates (Imam Ridha).

The Ideal World is a place where everybody worships God, but in ways He intends, not just by sitting and repeating Arabic words.

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Continuation from exact script of al kafi :

intelligence and ignorance began to emerge among them. Thereupon Imam abu ‘Abdallah said:

, "You, first, must recognize intelligence and its army and ignorance and its army only then you would find proper guidance.

" I then asked, may Allah make my soul of service to you, we only learn what you teach us."

The Imam (a.s) said, "Allah, the Glorious, the Majestic created intelligence and it was the first creature of spiritual world on the right side of the Throne from His light. He then told him to move backwards and intelligence moved backwards. He then told him to come forwards.

Intelligence came forwards. Allah, the Sacrosanct, the Most High said :

"I have created you a great creature and honored you above all others of my creatures.

The Imam (a.s) continued, "Allah then created ignorance from a salty dark ocean and told it, "move backwards and did move backwards. He then called it to come forwards but it did not come forwards. He then said to it, ‘Did you shun coming forward? He then pronounced it condemnded.

He then assigned seventy five armies for intelligence.

When ignorance saw all the honors Allah has granted to intelligence it bore hidden animosity towards intelligence and said,

" Lord this creature is just like me . You created and honored it and gave it power. But i have no power against it , Give me also likewisr armies. The lord then said , " I will give you also an army but if you disobey Me I will expel you and your army from my mercy.

Ignorance the said , " I agree."

Allah gave it seventy- five armies and it was out of the army of intelligence.

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