Destiny vs effort


An NED graduate and trainer today asked on Facebook:

“What we talk in trainings is: Human beings are great in themselves, they are limitless, every dream can be a reality, what your mind can conceive you can achieve. All that is required is a firm belief, faith, confidence, persistence, determination, efforts, smart working, etc etc. Then how would you define destiny? And where would this saying by Hazrat Ali go?: Mainay apnay iraaado ke toot janay se apnay rab ko pehchana. Your responses will be highly appreciated.”

My reply:

Thank you for the question.

This is typical in Western (read: secular) success literature.

What Islam says is this:

1) Rizq & success are pre-destined (on the 120th day we are in our mothers’ wombs).

2) We are not told about this in advance so we need to discover with each passing day.

3) Human beings are only responsible for making the effort, although the reward we may get may not be correlated with the effort.

4) Destiny will take you where you belong any way.

5) Our job is to keep working on our readiness so we are ready when the opportunity comes (see Wali’s Will-Skill Readiness Matrix).

What is your take on this? Write in comments, below.

Wallahu Alamu Bissawab


  1. Wali Sab I want to comment on it. I am not a big scholar but this question was also put to me by one of my individuals I counselled. My response was:

    1. Efforts and Destiny go side by side complimenting each other. Allah has defined a level of effort and reward attached to it. For instance If you exert the effort to climb the first stair, this will be your reward (prescribed in your destiny). If you make an effort to climb two stairs together, then the reward will be different but again written in your destiny. So you always get what you strive for which means for which u put effort. If you put an effort to boil an egg instead of making an omelette that’s your decision but egg is written in your destiny. So firm belief and confidence does help u in making an effort which is written in the destiny.

    2. As no culture or religion propagates disharmony so its not just Western philosophy. Its also embedded in our culture and religion only a different perception is required to see it. As Iqbal says:

    Amal se zindagi banti hai jannat bhi jahannum bhi
    Yeh khaaki apni fitrat mein na noori hai na naari hai

    3. Third the most important thing is Humans are the only creatures with freewill which differentiates them from Satan and Angels. Allah has shows then with Good or bad, they have the ability to choose themselves (not forced by destiny) but by their freewill and Allah knows what their decision will be which is prescribed and written.

    4. So its is easy to describe every event of the life happening as controlled by destiny, it is much deeper concept. I hope my comment was elaborative enough to describe this perspective.

  2. Sir,
    3) Human beings are only responsible for making the effort (Laisa lil insani Illa Ma saa), although the reward may not be correlated with effort.

    Above statement-03 is not related for The Umma of Hazrat Muhammad (Sallallahu alie wassalam). we should not relate it with our efforts to get reward in this world or hereafter. This (Laisa lil insani Illa Ma saa) is wrongly quoted to motivate people to make efforts and get reward in this world or hereafter. This ayat of Quarn was only for The Umma of Hazrat Ibrahim Alahisslam as mentioned in ayaat 33-55 of Sura Najam.

    Translation of ayat

    [33-55] Then, O Prophet, have you seen him who turned away from God’s Way, who gave a little and stopped?34 Does he possess the knowledge of the unseen that he sees the reality?35 Has he not heard of those things that have been mentioned in the Books of Moses and in the Books of that Abraham who proved true to his pledge?36

    “That no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another.37 And that there is nothing for man but what he has striven for.38 And that his striving shall soon be seen,39 and then he will be fully rewarded for it; and that to your Lord is the final goal; and that it is He Who made (men) to laugh and to weep.40 And that it is He Who gave death and granted life; and that it is He Who created the pair of male and female from a sperm-drop when it is emitted.41 And that it rests upon Him to grant the second life42 and that it is He Who made rich and bestowed property.43 And that He is the Lord of Sirius.44 And that it is He Who destroyed the former ‘Ad,45 and annihilated Thamud so as to spare none of them. And before them He destroyed the people of Noah because they were a most wicked and rebellious people. And He overthrew the subverted settlements, then there covered them that which (you know well) covered them.46 Then,47 O man, which of your Lord’s bounties will you doubt?”48

    Explanation of ayat

    39 That is, “In the Hereafter the people’s deeds shall be examined and judged in order to see what provisions they have brought with them. ” As this sentence occurs immediately after the preceding sentence, it by itself indicates that the preceding sentence relates to the rewards and punishments of the Hereafter, and the view of those who present it as an economic principle relating to this world is not correct. To interpret a verse of the Qur’an in a way as is irrelevant to the context as well as clashes with the other ordinances of the Qur’an cannot be right. (Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an). Same kind of explanation in all tafaaseer of Quran.

    I thinks Our efforts, rewards, happiness, worries, actions, are the part of destiny. If we want to change destiny, and we did successfully, it is also destiny.

  3. Many thanks for the correction, Masood. Indeed the Surah Najam ayah 39 is about the reward in the Hereafter, so in the edited version, I have removed the reference to Ayah.

  4. We may not suppose to do that work,which we percept that it will happen when ALLAH want, Yes it should, But to cross the one way bridge around the Hill,a person should strive to move towards the destination by putting there effort,,,,and that power to strive to achieve the desire position is given by allah….at last there is always a better plan for ALL human being by Allah…

  5. its always like 6 steps your hard work, works for your success and 4 steps your luck comes your way. So keep on working and leave the result upon Allah

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