Question: Does ajal (one's appointed time of death) change?
Shaik-ul-Islam Ahmad bin Sulaiman bin Kamal Pasha states:
The Qur'anic verse, "Allahu ta'ala erases what He wishes. And He does not change what He does not wish to. Umm al-Kitab is kept by Him," which is in Surah ar-Ra'd, denotes al-Lawh al-Mahfuz. Umm al-Kitab is the name of the Kalam-i ilahi (Divine Word), which is eternal. Angels cannot understand it. It is not with time. No one but Allahu ta’ala knows it. It never ceases to exist. As for the al-Lawh al-Mahfuz, there are changes in it. A person’s lifetime and sustenance (rizq) may be changed on account of his deeds. The good may be changed into evil and the evil into good. Accordingly, a person may perform good deeds towards his death, thus dying with faith. And some other person may commit evil deeds, thus dying without faith. For this reason, our Master the Messenger of Allah would often say the Arabic prayer, “Allahumma yaa muqallib al-quloob, thabbit qalbee ’alaa deenik.” A hadith-i qudsi states, "Men's hearts are in the power of the Compassionate. He changes the hearts as He wishes. That is, He changes them to evil or to good with His attributes of Jalal and Jamal. All the people that will come to the world until Doomsday were registered in al-Lawh al-Mahfuz, the good ones as the blessed and the bad ones as the wretched.
Qadar does not change. Qada' happens compatibly with qadar. Qada' changes a number of times every day and is created when it is suitable with qadar at last. Something which was recorded to be created as qada' al-mu’allaq [conditional divine predestination] is changed on account of the slave’s good deeds and is not created. Hadrat Imam-i Ghazali said, "Qada' al-mu'allaq is recorded in al-Lawh al-Mahfuz. If a person performs good deeds and his prayers [du'a] are accepted, the qada' will change." As a matter of fact, a hadith-i sharif states, "Qadar does not change by taking precautions or avoiding. But a du'a that is accepted protects one against an approaching catastrophe" [Tabarani].
The du'a's repelling the catastrophe is also within qada' and qadar. As a shield is a rampart against arrows and an umbrella against rain, so du'a is a shield against catastrophes. A hadith-i sharif says, "Nothing can change qada' al-mu'allaq. Only du'a can change it; and only favors, goodness can lengthen one's lifetime" [Hakim].
The recording of Allah’s predestination, that is, qadar, in al-Lawh al-Mahfuz is qada'. If the disaster predestined for a person is qada' al- mu’allaq, that is, if it has been predestined also that the person would pray, he prays and, when the prayer is accepted, it prevents the disaster. Doing favors delays the ajal al-qada' [conditional time of death]. But the ajal al-musamma [fixed, never-changing time of death] does not change.
Let us give an example for ajal al-qada':
The ajal al-qada' is a person's lifetime which, for example, was predestined as 60 years if he performs some good deeds or gives alms or performs pilgrimage and 40 years if he does not perform them. When the time is up, his death is not delayed even for one moment. While a person has, for example, 3 days left to live, 30 years may be added to his lifetime when he visits one of his relatives for Allah's sake. Another person may have, for example, 30 years more to live, but the rest of his lifetime may be reduced to 3 days because he neglects his relatives.
It is stated in a hadith-i sharif:
(Silat ar-rahm [keeping the ties of kinship] lengthens one's lifetime.) [Tabarani]
Two people came to Dawud ‘alaihis-salam and complained about each other. Hadrat Azrail (Angel of Death) came to him and said, “One of these two people has one week before his death. The other’s lifetime was over a week ago, but he did not die.”
When Hadrat Dawud was astonished and asked the reason why, Hadrat Azrail said, “The latter had a relative who was offended with him. He visited him and reconciled himself with him. For this reason, Allahu ta’ala decreed to add twenty years to his lifetime.” (Al-Lawh al-Mahfuz and Umm al-Kitab)
Predestination was recorded in al-Lawh al-Mahfuz in the eternal past. In other words, the changes that would happen in al-Lawh al-Mahfuz and the lengthening or shortening of lifetimes were recorded in eternity as well; this case is called qada' al-mu'allaq. (Lubab-ut-ta'wil)
The changes in al-Lawh al-Mahfuz take place suitably with Allah's qadar, that is, His knowledge in eternity.
When Hadrat ’Umar was wounded, Ka'b al-Ahbar said, “If ’Umar wanted to live more he would pray, for his prayer would certainly be accepted.” Those who heard this were surprised and said, “How dare you say so? Allahu ta’ala declares, ‘Death is never late, nor does it come before time is up.’” Upon this, he said, “Yes, death is not delayed when the time is up. But before the time is up, one’s lifetime is lengthened owing to one’s alms, prayers, or pious deeds. It is declared in Surah Fatir , ‘Lifetimes of all and the shortening of lifetimes are all recorded.’” [Al-Lawh al-Mahfuz and Umm al-Kitab]
It is declared in hadith-i sharifs:
(Times of deaths of all animals are subject to their tasbihs. When their tasbihs are over, Allahu ta'ala takes their souls.) [Bayhaqi]
(Everything has a fixed time of death.) [Bukhari]
It is written in "Qasidat al-Amali", "The lifetime of a person killed is not cut. His life has not been cut in the middle at that moment." Ahmad Asim Effendi explains it as follows:
(The time of death of a person who has been killed [or who has committed suicide] has arrived at that moment. His lifetime has not been cut in the middle. Each person has one time of death.)
A person who is killed dies because his time of death has come. however, the killer is punished. In the same way, the one who commits suicide dies because his time of death has arrived. Everybody dies when his/her appointed time of death comes. As a matter of fact, the 34th verse of Surah al-A'raf declares, "When their time of death comes, they can neither delay it nor hasten it for a single moment." The lifespan of a person had been foreordained before he/she was born. Where he will live, whether he will die with repentance or without repentance, what disease will cause his death, whether he will die a Believer or a disbeliever are all recorded in al-Lawh al-Mahfuz. (Miftah-ul-janna)
He whose time of death has come dies
Question: When a person kills someone, is it correct to think that if he had not killed him he would still have lived or he would have died for some other reason?
Both are wrong. As Allahu ta'ala knows with His eternal knowledge why and how the killer will murder him by his own free will, He has created his destiny that way. This does not change. Secondly, it is wrong as well to say that he has killed him simply because Allahu ta'ala wrote it so. But the truth is that Allahu ta'ala wrote it in his destiny because He had known that he would kill him. Hadrat Sayyid Abdulhakim Arwasi stated, "Qadar is Allahu ta'ala's foreknowing with His eternal knowledge. It is not His compelling [a person to do a certain action]."
Can man change his qadar?
Question: Some people say, "Being killed in a traffic accident, committing suicide, or removing a patient from a life-support machine means to change the relevant person's qadar because his breaths are fixed. He would have lived longer if he had not committed suicide or had not been killed in the traffic accident or had not been removed from the life-support machine." Can man change his qadar?
Committing suicide or removing a patient from life-support machine is not permissible. However, it has nothing to do with changing qadar. Qadar means Allah's foreknowing how people will live, how they will die, whether they will go to Paradise or Hell. This means to say that qadar is Allahu ta'ala's knowing in the eternal past the events that will take place, not His compelling humans to do certain actions. As for qada', it is His creating whatever exists in qadar when the time comes. The following is written in dependable Islamic books:
No one dies before his appointed time of death (ajal) arrives. Every kind of death takes place when the time foreordained comes. That is, the lifetime of a person who has been killed or has committed suicide is not cut in the middle. His time of death came at that moment. His lifetime was over and he died. Each human has one appointed time of death.
Humans do not create their deeds. The Creator of deeds that are done by partial free will, that is, the Creator of good and evil, is Allahu ta'ala. Denying the fact that good and evil are from Allah and saying "He who commits suicide changes divine decree" take one out of the fold of Islam. Allahu ta'ala definitely knew that he would commit suicide. He says, "Is it conceivable that the One who creates should not know?" No one can change the lifespan given by Him. The Qur'an al-karim says (what means):
(When the term [death] appointed by Allah comes, it cannot be delayed.) [Nuh 4]
(No one can ever die except by Allah's leave.) [Al-i Imran 145]
(It is He alone who created you and then decreed the time of death.) [Al-An'am 2]
(Every nation has a time of death. When it comes, it cannot be postponed for a moment or advanced.) [Al-A'raf 34]
This means to say that it is wrong to say, "He would have lived longer if had not committed suicide or had not died in the traffic accident or had not been removed from the life-support machine."
Taking medicine and death
Question: Does taking medicine, saying prayers, or undergoing an operation prevent death? Do they elongate one's lifespan?
Taking medicine or reciting Qur'anic verses or prayers and breathing them on someone or carrying them on oneself does not lengthen one's lifespan or prevent death. Nor do they delay one's appointed time of death. They only cause someone whose appointed time of death has not come yet to get rid of afflictions and pain and to live healthily, comfortably, and happily. Cardiac transplants, brain, kidney, or liver operations, vaccine and IV therapy do not prevent death. They do good only to those whose lifespans have not come to an end yet. It is well known that many people whose appointed time of death came died during surgery.
Appointed time of death and rizq
Question: Do one's rizq (sustenance) and appointed time of death change? For example, does the sustenance of a person who has found buried treasure increase? Or does a person who commits suicide or who is shot dead die before his appointed time of death comes?
No, neither one's appointed time of death nor one's sustenance changes. They were foreordained in the eternal past. In other words, Allahu ta'ala knows with His eternal knowledge everybody's sustenance and time of death. If he finds buried treasure, it was foreordained in the eternal past that he would find buried treasure and become rich. Nothing will be more or less than the foreordained amount. So is the case with sustenance. If he commits suicide or is killed in a traffic accident, it was foreordained in the eternal past that way. One cannot go outside of qadar. There is no death except that it has a time preordained. Such statements as "He died at the preordained time" or "He did not die at the preordained time" are very wrong. Everyone, regardless of his form of death, dies when his appointed time of death comes. As a matter of fact, a Qur'anic verse says:
(The time of death is neither delayed for a moment nor comes before its due time.) [Al-A'raf 34]
The case is exactly the same with sustenance. No one dies until he consumes the sustenance foreordained for him. Just as it is Allahu ta'ala who foreordained the time of death, so it is He who sends sustenance. The following Qur'anic verses say:
(The sustenance of every living being on earth is on Allah.) [Hud 6]
(There is many a living being that cannot provide itself with sustenance. It is Allah who gives sustenance both to you and to it.) [Al-'Ankabut 60]
Even if a poor person finds buried treasure or a rich person goes bankrupt, his foreordained sustenance does not change.