Muslim Fatalism and its consequences

Muslims believe that Allah’s moral character is ultimately unknowable, and Allah’s ways are beyond all understanding. One result of this is that even practising Muslims lack assurance of Allah’s forgiveness simply because they are not certain about God’s ultimate attitude or will towards them. This is known as Muslim Fatalism.

If God wills – Fatalism

Spend even a short time around Muslims and you will become aware that they continually use the Arabic phrase “In sha Allah”, which means “if God wills”. This phrase is used in a multitude of circumstances. In practice, it often means “whatever happens is God’s will” – fatalism.

Muslims worldwide often live in a cloud of fatalism and uncertainty about their future. Muslims affirm with the Qur’an that Allah leads astray whom He wills, and guides whom He wills (Qur’an, Surat 35:8). While the Qur’an also lays great emphasis on the free choice and moral conduct of individuals and communities, popular Islamic thinking and practice are often very fatalistic. For example, several years ago a Muslim woman in Paris told some Christians about the death of her son. Even though she knew that her son actually died of a drug overdose, she insisted that this was Allah’s destiny for him. She was deeply grieved by the loss of her son, despite affirming her conviction that her son died according to God’s will. This event affected her entire vision of God.

The Love of God

We can see similar manifestations of fatalism even in events which have international importance. In July 1990, a total of 1,426 Muslim pilgrims in Mecca died when a tunnel collapsed during the Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) at the end of the Muslim pilgrimage or Hajj. Many of the pilgrims died as a result of suffocation or were trampled to death in a frantic effort to escape as thousands of other pilgrims poured into the tunnel area. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia caused additional news coverage of the disaster by his remark that it was “God’s will” and “had the victims not died in the tunnel they would have died elsewhere at the same predestined moment.” (From the report of a debate in the UK Parliament.)

All Christians around the world agree that God’s will has been supremely manifested in Jesus. The death and resurrection of Christ are God’s means for dealing with sin, death and the devil. “Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38). While our sovereign Lord’s will may be mysterious, it is also very clear in many respects.

Prayer Guide

* Pray that Muslims will be set free from ideas which cause them to think of God in a fatalistic and manipulative way.

* Pray for God to give Christians understanding in helping Muslims to come out of fatalism. New converts especially need to see God in a new light and understand the consequences about God’s ultimate attitude or will and love for them.

* Fatalism has an impact in all aspects of Muslim society. From healthcare to economics, all is governed by the “In sha Allah” mentality, which often means simply to submit oneself to whatever happens. Pray for a healthy change of perspective.

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