What are the factors effective in one’s choices? Why do we choose what we choose to do? Why does one choose to be good or to be bad?

Freewill means the ability to choose good or bad. Your question can be answered by understanding the real meaning of freewill. Freewill means the ability to choose good or bad without any influence from anybody or any factor or reason but out of one’s own decision. The choice to be good or to be bad is a result of many factors, all of them directly related to the one who decides and not to anybody or anything else. Some of these factors are:

1. The state of mind of the person and how he/she looks at life. Those who think in a wrong way usually choose bad thoughts and bad deeds. The mind that acknowledges the main facts of life is a clear mind and usually leads to rightful thoughts and deeds, while the person who insists on denying the main facts of life or tries to bypass them, fails in achieving peace and success. The biggest fact in life is ‘The Creator of life’, Who has put a discipline of harmony between man and himself, man and others, and man and his Creator. Acknowledging this central fact makes one’s life in harmony, while denying or ignoring the discipline of life put by The Creator will definitely lead to bad life. So, understanding or misunderstanding life is crucial in shaping a man’s course of life as good or bad. It is his own decision which takes him by his own freewill to good or to bad.

2. One’s aims in life and how he/she wants to achieve them. As a result of his or her understanding or ‘misunderstanding’ of life, the aims of life are set by every person. Wrong aims like material, desires, lust, fame, power, etc. naturally deviate man from right towards wrong, while right aims like gaining useful knowledge, doing good, helping others etc., make the person closer to success as far as he/she is focusing on and trying to achieve the noble aims. Sometimes some people have good aims but choose wrong ways to achieve their aims. That is why we need to be sure that not only are our aims noble, but so are our means.

3. The result of the conflict between intellect (Aql) and excessive desires – as this conflict is a reality in the life of every human being. Those who give their desires more than the balanced share, fall into bad actions, while those who have a control over their desires succeed in getting more freedom, dignity and self and others respect. It is altogether for the person himself or herself to choose, and there is no power whatsoever, in any inner or outer factor to compel or enforce human behavior. No doubt, the instinct (Fitrah) which is inside every human being, always guides him/her towards good, but many people insist on going against it in favour of their excessive desires or misguided goals of life. As an example of the freewill, look at one of the greatest prophets, Noah (a.s.), who had his own son and wife going astray? On the hand, look at one of the worst evil doers, Pharaoh, whose wife chose to be good. It is after all the human being’s own freewill, as Allah (s.w.t.) says in the Holy Qur’an:

Verily, We have shown him the way, be he grateful, or ungrateful.”

Please explain the reasons for the originality, independence and subsistence of the spirit.

1. A Great World Cannot Be Placed Within a Small One

Assume that you are seated beside the sea and behind it are extremely high mountains. The roaring waves and the shaking of the water against the shore and with great strength, return to the sea. We look at this scene for a moment. Then we close our eyes and see this scene in our minds with all of its greatness. This shows that other than a body and cells of the brain, another jewel exists which can reflect any design no matter how great and at any scale. Clearly, this jewel must be something which is beyond the material world because we find nothing like it in the material world.

2. The External Particularity of the Spirit

We have many chemical and physical properties in our bodies, the motion of the heart has a physical quality but the effects on food is a chemical substance and examples like this are many in our body. If the spirit, thought and reflection were all material and had physical and chemical quantities of the brain cells then why among them and our other physical properties is there a great deal of difference? Our thoughts, ideas and spirit relate and connect us to the external world and make us aware of that which passes outside but the chemical particularities of the stomach and the physical motion of our eyes and tongue and heart never has such a state.

3. Experienced Proof of the Originality and Independence of the Spirit

Fortunately, today scholars by various scientific and experimental means have proven the originality and independence of the spirit and permanently answered those who deny the truth of the independence of the spirit and all people who believe it to be material. Hypnotism is among the clear reasons for this which the experiments have proven this. We see dreams and scenes appear in our dreams which sometimes speak of the future and sometimes they clarify something which had been ambiguous in such a way that it cannot be called chance or accident which is a further proof for the independence of the spirit. These examples show that the spirit is not material and that it is not the result of special physical or chemical properties of the human brain but rather it is a metaphysical truth which does not end when the body dies but, instead, prepares itself for the Day of Resurrection and the Hereafter.

Ref: Fifty Lessons of Principles of Belief for Youths; Ayt. Makarem Shirazi; Translated by: Bahador Shirazian; Published by: Ahlul Bayt World Assembly

What is the relationship between Divine will and human will?

The human being is a contingent existent who derives his existence and existential qualities from Allah. Allah has, by His generative will (irada takwini), created him as a volitional creature and has thus distinguished him from all other creatures. Hence, the human being is the highest being addressed by Allah’s legislative will (irada tashri’i) and as such, has been given permission to choose between obedience and disobedience, to determine his way of life, and to mould his own fate.
The human being is the chosen creature who is able, by making the right choice, to obey the injunctions of Allah; to ascend the levels of perfection by conforming to the legislative will of Allah, and submitting his desire to the generative will of Allah thereby reaching the station of Divine regency – that level which in paradise, entitles him to receive whatever he wishes. Because he has chosen Divine satisfaction, Allah is satisfied with him and will provide for him so profoundly that he will in return be pleased with Him and satisfied with his own conduct.
But the human being can also make the wrong choice by taking up the path of disobedience and aversion to Divine injunctions, descending to the pits of saqar. This would be the result of not making his will conform to the legislative will of Allah (awj). However, this disobedience does not signify that he has overcome the Divine will, for the Divinity Himself has willed that he should choose his path.
In other words, Divine will encompass the entire world of existence – including the human being and his actions – and as such, transcends the human will, hierarchically. This is not the same as the concurrence of two independent, complete, and parallel causes in generating a single effect, which is impossible. Rather, in accordance with the principle of “unity of Divine Acts”, the only independent agent in the cosmos is Allah, and thus all other existents are dependent on Allah in their existence and their agency. Thus, their will, which is an aspect of their agency, is not independent or detached of the Divine will. Therefore, we [as Shi’ites] neither approve of determinism as the Ash’arites do – who believe that the only will at work is the Divine will, thus considering all other agents sterile and merely tools for Allah . Neither do we accept the concept of delegation which is held by the Mu’tazilites, who assumes that Divine will should be abstracted from human will, thereby considering the human being a sovereign agent in his volitional acts. Rather, we, in following the teachings of the Qur`an and the infallible Imams, consider the human being to be a willing and volitional agent, but at the same time we know him to be under the dominion of Divine will and governed by the authority of Allah – being essentially in need of the will and power of Allah.

Human will is vertically inferior to Divine will and as such is dependent on Divine will and cannot exist independently and without need of Allah. This is confirmed by many Qur’anic verses, among them the following:

…but you do not wish unless it is wished by Allah, the Lord of all the worlds” 1

But this in no way contradicts the human being’s volition and his accountability for his thoughts, intentions, and actions. For it is he who is the direct agent of his will, choice, and conduct, but this is possible only through the power and permission that Allah (awj) has granted him in making his choices.

Thus, in many verses [seemingly contradicting the aforementioned verse which reserves authority solely for Allah] the actions of natural agents, including human beings, are attributed to themselves, thereby considering the human being responsible for his own conduct. And it is in this light that the Qur`an established certain responsibilities for him, giving him various encouragements and warnings. Two such verses read:

…and that nothing belongs to man except what he strives for” 2


Whoever acts righteously does so for himself; and whoever works evil does so against himself. Your Lord is not unjust to the servants. 3

Accordingly, on the one hand, the issue concerns the assumption that the human being’s independence is in contrast to the principle of unity of Divine Acts and also to the essential need of existents for Allah. On the other hand, there is the supposition that the human being is totally predetermined and hence powerless, undermining the rationale for all Divine injunctions, encouragements, warnings, and consequently negating Divine justice and wisdom. Hence, the seemingly contradictory verses of the Qur`an must be reconciled by realising that some of those verses merely clarify the meaning of the others (and do not contradict them) so that we are able to avoid being entrapped by either determinism or delegationism.

For a better understanding of this matter, attention must be paid to two points:

1. The different ways in which various causes concur in creating an effect.

2. The various ways in which the Divine will can be conceived of.

The concurrence of causes in generating an effect can transpire in two ways:

1. One possibility is that in the occurrence of a phenomenon only one cause is responsible; such as the Divine Act of creation in which Allah (awj) produces directly and without the mediation of any other existent, or like the dependency of human conceptions on the mind [in which case, it is solely the mind that generates the mental concepts and images without the mediation of any other agent].

2. The other possibility is that several causes are responsible in the creation of a phenomenon. This possibility can itself be conceived in several ways:

a. The various causes are responsible in a collective manner. In this case, each cause is referred to in technical terms as an “incomplete cause” and all of them considered collectively are referred to as the “complete cause.” An example is the interaction of water, light, heat, seed, soil, farmer’s work, etc. in the growth of a plant. In this case, not only is the concurrence of multiple causes not impossible, it is a necessary prerequisite for the production of the effect.

b. The various causes are responsible in an alternating manner. Such as if a certain machine had three motors, but they had to operate one at a time, hence one motor would come into operation only after the previous one had stopped, thereby providing the machine with a constant and uninterrupted movement. [Hence, the constant motion being the effect of three alternating causes.] In this case also, the cooperation and combination of all the causes is necessary for sustaining the effect. However, in this case, there is no particular dependency between the causes as there is in the third case.

c. Certain causes are dependent on other ones in efficacy but without such a dependency in their existences such as the roles that human volition, the motion of the hand, etc. play in producing writing [in which case the will to write propels the hand into motion, which in turn moves the pen, and which in turn makes ink marks on the paper that constitute the writing] or such as the soldier’s obeying his superior [in which case, the soldier’s will to perform a certain action depends on the superior giving an order but the soldier’s existence itself does not depend on the superior’s existence].

d. Two sets of causes are at work in generating one effect in the same mode (haythiyyah) and from the same aspect (jahah)-which is technically referred to as “the concurrence of two complete causes in generating one effect.” An example of this would be a single piece of writing on one specific corner of a sheet of paper, written by two writers writing simultaneously. Or if one particular plant were to grow by the work of two [distinct and independent] groups of causes-e.g. soil, farmer, seed, etc.-simultaneously. In this case, “mutual exclusion” would result, and thus [the actualization of] this case is impossible. For, the agency [i.e. the work, the acting] of each set would bar the agency of the other set, resulting in either one rendering the other ineffective (which would mean that two complete causes have not actually concurred and only one has produced the effect unilaterally) or both mutually hindering the agency of one another (which would mean that neither of the complete causes has been actualized so as to take part in creating an effect). Therefore, as this case is impossible, there is no actual instance of it.
e. Several sets of causes, vertically associated, generate a single effect, in such a manner that the inferior cause is dependent upon the superior in its existence as well as in its agency [or efficacy]; such as, the relation between the grandparents and the parents in the procreation of the latter’s children.

Considering the above-mentioned classification, it must be clarified under which of the aforementioned categories the concurrence of Divine causation, agency, and will with those of His creatures-including human beings-falls.

If this concurrence were of the first, second, or third types, the result would be the existential independence of the human being and the rest of the creatures from Allah (awj), which would contradict the unity of the Divine Acts. Thus on careful examination, the possibility of such instances would prove unacceptable. It cannot be of the fourth category either, as this does not have any occurrence in reality. Furthermore, it is erroneous to consider the concurrence of human will with Divine will impossible as the human being would not even exist without his connection to Allah (awj), and thus his complete agency as parallel to Allah (awj) is not possible 4 so to give rise to the potentiality of parallel and simultaneous concurrence in generating one effect.5

Thus the only category plausible is the last one; that is, the human will and agency be vertically inferior to Divine will and agency. However to understand how the concurrence of Divine and human will in such a vertical manner does not contradict man’s free will, attention must be paid to the different types of Divine will.

In a general classification, Divine will is understood in two ways:
1. The will of essence;
2. The will of action.

The latter is subdivided into the generative will and the legislative will.

The Will of Essence: It is the Divine will that is assigned to Him without the need to consider the creatures or Allah’s (awj) relation to them. Hence, it is identical with the Divine Essence and is the necessary requirement of Divine volition, of His not being restrained by any other agent, of His not being overpowered by anything, and of His needlessness in relation to all creatures. The human being and his relation to Allah (awj) have no role in this sense of Divine will.

The Generative Will of Action: This is Allah’s (awj) will in establishing the objective destiny and portion; that is, it pertains to the systems governing the cosmos, how things come about and operate, and their certain and definite ends This is manifested in the creation of creatures in different shapes, different ways, and in different times.
In the world of being, the Divine generative will governs the entire corpus of existents, including human beings, and as such, no creature has the will or choice to violate it, as is pointed out in the following verses:

Then He turned to the heaven, and it was smoke, and He said to it and to the Earth, ‘Come! Willingly or unwillingly!’ They said, ‘We come heartily.” 6


There is none in the heavens and the earth but he comes to the All-beneficent as a servant” 7

The human being has been created as a willing and volitional creature based on the Divine generative will of action and thus cannot divest himself of free choice and will. So whether he likes it or not, he must act on his own accord, choose the path he desires to follow and determine his own fate. He has no choice in being a volitional creature, just as he has no say in choosing his parents, his gender, or his appearance.

The Legislative Will of Action. This will is identical with Divine legislation for the willing and volitional human being. 8 In the very act of lawmaking for humanity, no one can share the authority with Allah (awj) and no one is capable of changing the laws before they reach the people.

Therefore, the angels, prophets, and successors to the prophets are duty bound to convey to the people the exact rules revealed to them without the slightest change and to interpret and clarify them only in the framework designated by Allah (awj). It is in the stage of implementing these injunctions that the human being has been given the capacity to obey or disobey [on his own accord].

Hence, by making the right decision, the human being can conform his will to the will of Allah (awj), the Supreme, and being satisfied with the Divine generative will, can decide to abide unconditionally by the Divine legislative will thereby securing his final felicity and meriting the leisure and serenity of Paradise-to such an extent that Allah (awj) will satisfy his wishes, whatever they may be, very quickly:

…but those who have faith and do righteous deeds will be in the gardens of paradise: they will have whatever they wish near their Lord. This is the greatest grace.” 9

As they preferred Divine satisfaction over their own, Allah (awj) will in return be pleased with them and will reward them so abundantly that they would be happy with what they have done and with their Lord. 10

Therefore, the human being can, on his own accord, will that which Allah (awj) wills and be satisfied with Allah’s (awj) existential and legislative satisfaction-refusing to want or to seek anything but that which Allah (awj) wants from him and that which He pleases. 11 In so doing, the human being has willed in accordance to the Divine generative and legislative wills, although the human will and potency themselves have been bestowed to the human being by this same Divine generative will, and as such his existence and will is an extension of the will and existence of Allah (awj). This concurrence entails no contradiction and thus is not impossible for it is not the concurrence of two complete causes in the generation of one effect. At the same time, the human will and volition has not been denied to him. Rather, because Allah (awj) has given him the permission to will and choose, he determines what path he wants to follow and in doing so ends up willing what Allah (awj) has willed.

If the human being disobeys and violates the legislative will of Allah (awj), doing what Allah (awj) dislikes, he has done so on his own accord and as such, has headed towards an awful fate. But this disobedience is not a violation of Allah’s (awj) generative will, for He has, through His own generative will, created the human being willing and volitional, and as such has given him the capacity to defy His legislative will. Accordingly, this defiance does not signify the human being’s overcoming the will and power of Allah (awj). He can deprive the hopeless human being of his will and power whenever He desires and it is concerning this that He says:

Do those who commit misdeeds suppose that they can out-manoeuvre Us? Evil is the judgment that they make.” 12

To sum up: In the realm of generative will and the act of Divine legislation itself, the human will cannot exert any influence whatsoever, and hence the question of the concurrence of Divine will and human will does not arise at this stage.

When it comes to the level of abiding by the legislative will, the human will is ontologically an extension of Divine will. If he obeys the Divine injunctions, he has on his own accord aligned his desire to what Allah (awj) desires and as such, is pleased with the Divine generative will, and with this correct decision, has secured a felicitous end for himself. If he disobeys, if he does not make Allah’s (awj) desire his own desire, he has acted only to his own disadvantage, without in any way damaging the creation or harming Allah (awj) for Allah (awj) has through His generative will, granted him the capacity to defy and disobey but has at the same time, through His legislative will, warned him of the consequences.

Thus by making the wrong decision of disobeying Allah (awj), he has incurred Allah’s (awj) wrath. Although, he might arrogantly think that in doing so he has overcome Allah’s (awj) will, the reality of the matter is that the creature can never, even while disobeying, escape the Divine domain, power, and will. The creature is always in need of that Most Sacred Essence. It is to this that the following verse speaks:

“Whatever good befalls you is from Allah; and whatever ill befalls you is from yourself.” 13

Although in essence, everything is from Allah (awj) for nothing can occur without His consent, but the issue is that He does not deem misdeeds and evil appropriate for the human is, and it is the human being himself who, in misusing his free will, chooses evil. 14

However we do admit that to conceive and comprehend the relationship of human volition to Divine will- i.e. the immutable cosmological system- is difficult. It is precisely for this reason that those who are not in touch with Divine revelation and the school of Ahlul Bayt (a.s) have strayed to antipodal extremes in this regard.

One group, the Mu’tazilites, concluded that the human being has been granted absolute autonomy, and as such is the only agent involved in his actions-and for this they have been termed The Delegators15; another group, the Ash’arites, saw the human being as lacking any role in conducting his actions, hence being compelled in his actions, without free will and the right to choose- and for this they have been termed The Compelled Ones. But the truth and the right path is the intermediate path, that is, neither the theory of compulsion nor delegation.

The generative will of Allah (awj) concurs with human will in a vertical manner. If the human being obeys, the Divine legislative will and the human will are in harmony, but if he disobeys, his will and action are despised by Allah (awj). But the latter does not imply liberation from Divine dominion and sovereignty or the overcoming of the will and power of Allah (awj). Such disobedience only signifies being removed from Divine mercy as a result of the individual’s own misuse of volition and free will.

[1] Surat al-Takwir (81), Verse 29:
وَمَا تَشَآءُونَ إِلاَّ أَنْ يَشَآءَ اللٌّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ
also see Surat al-Insan (76), Verses 30-31:
وَمَا تَشَاءُونَ إِلاَّ أَنْ يَشَآءَ اللٌّهُ إِنَّ اللٌّهَ کَانَ عَلِيماً حَکِيماً. يُدْخِلُ مَنْ يَشَآءُ فِي رَحْمَتِهِ وَالظَّالِمِينَ أَعَدَّ لَهُمْ عَذَاباً أَلِيماً
[2] Surat al-Najm (53), Verse 39:
وَ أَنْ لَّيسَ لِلإِنْسَانِ إِلاَّ مَا سَعـى
[3] Surat al-Fussilat (41), Verse 46:
مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحاً فَلِنَفْسِهِ وَ مَنْ أَسَآءَ فَعَلَيْهَا وَ مَا رَبُّکَ بِظَلاَّمٍ لِلْعَبِيدِ
[4] For this would mean that the human being is independent of Allah (awj) in his existence. (Tr.)
[5] The reason why this is being said here is that those who have refuted the concurrence of Divine will with human will have first assumed that the only manner in which two causes can concur is if they were parallel in their agency and causation. And because this type of concurrence is obviously impossible, they concluded that the human being is independent in his will. While their mistake stems from their lack of conceiving two or more causes related in a vertical and hierarchical manner; i.e. cause B receiving its existence and efficacy from cause A; and cause C in turn receiving its existence and efficacy from cause B, and so on. (Tr.)
[6] Surat al-Fussilat (41), Verse 11:
ثُمَّ اسْـتَوَى إِلـى السَّمَآءِ وَهِيَ دُخَانٌ فَقَالَ لَهَا وَلِلأَرْضِ اِئْـتِـيَا طَوْعاً أَوْ کَرْهاً قَالَـتَا أَتَـيْـنَا طَائِعِينَ
[7] Surat Maryam (19), Verse 93:
إِنْ کُلُّ مَنْ فِي السَّمٌوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ إِلاَّ آتِي الرَّحْمٌنِ عَبْداً
[8] That is, this concept is abstracted from the act of legislation itself and externally has no instance but the legislation itself. However, the human mind abstracts it from the concept of legislation itself and treats it as a different entity, although externally both concepts refer to the same thing. (Tr.)
[9] Surat al-Shura (42), Verse 22:
وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فِي رَوْضَاتِ الْجَنَّاتِ لَهُمْ مَا يَشَآءُونَ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ ذٌلِکَ هُوَ الْفَضْلُ الکَبِيرُ
Also see: Surat Qaf (50), Verse 35; Surat al-Nahl (16), Verse 31; Surat al-Zumar (39), Verse 34; Surat al-Furqan (25), Verse 16
[10] Surat al-Bayyinah (98), Verse 8:
جَزَاؤُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَداً رَضِيَ اللٌّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ ذٌلِکَ لِمَنْ خَشِيَ رَبَّهُ
Also see: Surat al-Mujadalah (58), Verse 22; Surat al-Tawbah (9), Verse 100; Surat al-Ma’idah (5), Verse 119
[11] Surat al-Insan (76), Verse 30; Surat al-Takwir (81), Verse 29:
وَمَا تَشَآءُونَ إِلاَّ أَنْ يَشَآءَ اللٌّهُ
[12] Surat al-’Ankabut (29), Verse 4:
أَمْ حَسِبَ الَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السَّـيِّـئَاتِ أَنْ يَسْبِقُونَا سَآءَ مَا يَحْکُمُونَ
Also see: Surat al-Zumar (39), Verse 51:
فَأَصَابَهُمْ سَيِّـئَاتُ مَا کَسَبُوا وَالَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْ هٌؤُلاَءِ سَيُصِيبُهُمْ سَيِّئَاتُ مَا کَسَبُوا وَمَا هُمْ بِمُعْجِزِينَ
[13] Surat al-Nisa` (4), Verse 79:
…مَا أَصَابَکَ مِنْ حَسَنَةٍ فَمِنَ اللٌّهِ وَمَا أَصَابَکَ مِنْ سَيِّـئَّةٍ فَمِنْ نَفْسِکَ
[14] Surat al-Nisa` (4), Verses 78-79:
…وَإِنْ تُصِبْهُمْ حَسَنَةٌ يَقُولُوا هٌذِهِ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللٌّهِ وَإِنْ تُصِبْهُمْ سَيِّـئَّةٌ يَقُولُوا هٌذِهِ مِنْ عِنْدِکَ قُلْ کُلٌّ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللٌّهِ … مَا أَصَابَکَ مِنْ حَسَنَةٍ فَمِنَ اللٌّهِ وَمَــا أَصَابَکَ مِنْ سَيِّئَّةٍ فَمِنْ نَفْسِکَ…الخ
[15] The name arises from the fact that they assume that Allah (awj) has delegated His authority to the human being in the realm of his volitional actions and so He does not take part in human actions. (Tr.)

How is there a contradiction between the logic of predestination and free will?

The fine point to recognize is here, that we not imagine that there is a contradiction between the two. The fact is that we both accept God’s justice as well as the freedom and responsibility of His servants as well as unity and His rule over the entire universe of existence and this is that very thing which is known as the ‘middle way’ (something which is between two extremes).

Let us clarify this with an example as the issue is a very complicated one. Let us assume that you are traveling on an electric train and you are the driver of the train. A strong electric cable has been placed along the line of the train and the train is connected with a link to this electric cable and moves and moment after moment the electricity is passed to the locomotive in such a way that if for just one moment, the electricity to the locomotive stops, the whole train will stop. Without doubt, you are free. You can stop wherever you want and you can move at your own speed. But in spite of all of this freedom, the person who is sending the electricity can, at any moment, make you stop because all of your power and strength is that very electricity and he holds the key.

When we note this example with care, we see that even though one has such freedom, choice and responsibility, one is completely at the disposal of the power of another and these two do not contradict each other.

Now let us return to the main point. God has given us physical power or strength and from moment to moment, it continues and if it is cut off for even a moment, and our connection with Him be cut off, we would be destroyed. If we can do anything it is because we have strength which He has given us and it continues moment by moment and even our freedom and choice is also from Him. That is, He willed that we be free and by making use of this great Divine kindness, one can transform one’s self.

Thus, at the same time that we have free choice and a free will, we are in His grasp and we will never move beyond His realm. At the same time that we have strength and power, we are dependent upon Him and without Him, we will be destroyed and this is what ‘the middle way’ means because neither have we recognized any creature to be equal to God, which would bring multitheism nor do we believe creatures are obliged to act as they do which would bring oppression.

We have learned this lesson from our pure Imams, peace be upon them. Whenever they were asked, “Does anything exist between fatalism and conferring?” They said, “Yea. More extensive than the distance between heaven and earth.” 1

[1] See Usul Kafi, vol. l, p. 121
Ref: Fifty Lessons of Principles of Belief for Youths; Ayt. Makarem Shirazi; Translated by: Bahador Shirazian; Published by: Ahlul Bayt World Assembly

How is there a contradiction between the logic of predestination and free will?

Religious belief can never agree with fatalism, religious programs, as well, are all altered by accepting this school of thought.

How can we reconcile the justice of God with the school of fatalism? How is it possible that God oblige someone to do an evil deed? Then punish him because he did it. This does not agree with any kind of logic!

Thus, by accepting the school of fatalism, spiritual rewards, punishments, heaven and hell are meaningless as well as ‘scroll of deeds’, ‘questioning’, ‘Divine reckoning’, ‘reprimanding the evil doers in the Quran’, ‘encouragement and praise for those who do good’, all of these lose their meaning. Because according to this school, neither do the good doers or the evil doers have a choice.

In addition, in religion, one of the first issues we encounter is ‘duty’ or ‘responsibility’, but does ‘duty’ or ‘responsibility’ make any sense if a person has no choice?
Can we tell a person whose hands involuntarily shake, not to shake their hands? Or tell a person who is falling down a steep mountain to standstill?

Does Darwin’s evolution theory contradict religious propositions?

There are two theories among biologists regarding the creation of the living beings including plants and animals.
A) Transformism: The doctrine that living organisms have evolved from previously existing forms of unicellular beings that existed in oceans or in the mud deep underwater. This change is also called mutation. That is to say lifeless beings were put to special condition which led to emergence of living organisms. These living organisms gradually evolved and changed from one form of animal into another. The most perfect of the instance of evolution are the present human beings who emerged out of monkeys or animals that resembled monkeys.
B) Fixism: The theory that the species alive today were identical to those of the past and that evolution does not happen. According to fixism, no species turned into a variant form of animals. Naturally, human beings had an independent existence ever since it was created.[1]
Darwin’s evolution theory has been one of the most controversial and very much debated topics in late centuries with some opposing it and others favoring it. In addition to separate books written for and against the theory, some others have also touched this subject on various occasions.
Among Muslim scholars who have discussed this subject is the author of Tafsir al-Manar and Maraghi etc. who subscribe to the theory and seems to be so much influenced by it that he considers it to be one of the divine traditions. He has even tried to interpret some verses in such a way as to signify evolution. He has assumed it as being one of the innovative views of the Quran rather than Darwin’s initiative.[2]

Origin of evolution

Natural scholars such as Lamarck, Darwin and their followers consider evolution to be a natural requirement, struggle for survival, adaptation to the environment and survival of the fittest. They have concluded that these factors have led to variation of the forms and physical features of the animals. The capable is perfected and the incapable is doomed to destruction. Since these animals have started their motion and perfection from need and struggle, therefore they were able to make a choice and to adapt to the environment.[3]

Proponents’ arguments

The arguments put forth by proponents of evolution can be easily summed up in three parts:

1. Arguments they have brought forth from paleontology (study of fossils) i.e. the petrified skeletons of living things in the past. They believe that the study of various layers of earth show that living beings have changed from simpler forms into more perfect and complex ones. The evolution theory is the only way to interpret this variation and difference of the fossils.

2. There are evidences gathered from “comparative anatomy” which shows a lot of resemblances between the bones and skeletons of animals. These bones and structures, when compared with one another, show that they have been taken from the same origin.

3. There are evidences which they have obtained from embryology and they believe that if the animals are put together whilst they are in the embryonic state, then we will come to know that the embryos are, when they are mother’s uterus or in eggs, very similar to one another before evolution. This is also affirming that all of them are derived from the same origin.

Answers given by proponents of fixism

The fixists or those, who believe that the species alive today were identical to those of the past, have given a general answer to all the arguments and that is, none of those arguments are convincing. In fact, we cannot deny the fact that these three evidences justify the possibility of evolution as a mere “probability” but the evidences are never assuring.In other words, to prove the evolution theory and turn it from a mere theory into a scientific and decisive law, there is a need for rational proof or else the theory must be proved through experiments and sense and there is not a third way.
However, there is no room for any rational and philosophical reasons to be presented here in connection with evolution, not to mention the fact that experiment does not have access to things which existed millions of years ago. What we feel through the senses and experimentation are superficial changes which take place as “mutations” in animals and plants. For example, a sheep is born to a generation of sheep whose wool is quite different from the wool of ordinary sheep i.e. its wool is more delicate and softer. That change is the cause of the birth of a generation of sheep called “Merinos Sheep”. That is because of the wool.
Perhaps, some animals have different eye colors or finger or skin and the likes due to mutation but no one has seen mutation in a metamorphic way in the sense that substantial change may have occurred with the main organs of animal or that a species may have ended up becoming a completely variant form of animal.
Therefore, we can simply guess that the accumulation of mutations might one day lead to a metamorphic change and result in a variant form such as a reptile becoming a bird but this is never a decisive guess and it is only a conjecture because we have never encountered such mutations in the concrete external world.
We conclude from the foregoing explanation that transformists cannot take this theory farther than a simple theory. It is for the same reason that those discussing this issue continues to term it as a theory, not as an established law or principle.[4]

It appears from the outward meaning of the verses of the Quran about creation of Adam that he was first made of mud. After completion of his body, soul was blown into it whereupon all angels except Iblis prostrated themselves in front of him. The Quran’s explanation in this regard shows that there had not been other genre or kinds of animals in between the creation of man and his present form. [5]
For further information in this regard, refer to the following books:
1. Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Tafsir Numunah.
2. Taleqani, Sayyid Mahmood, Pertowi az Quran.
3. Tusi, Muhammad bin Hasan, Al-Tebyan fi Tafsir al-Qur’an (Introduction to the Book).
4. Najafi Khomeini, Muhammad Jawad, Tafsir Asaan.
5. Fazlullah, Sayyid Muhammad Hussein, Tafsir min Wahy al-Qur’an
6. Behzad, Mahmoud, Darwinism.
7. Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Akharin Farziyah Takamul (The Last Theory of Evolution).
8. Musavi Sabzevari, Sayyid Abdul A’laa, Mawahib al-Rahman fi Tafsir al-Qur’an.
9. Najafi, Muhammad Reza, A Criticisms of Darwin’s Philosophy (Arabic).
10. Balaghi Najafi, Muhammad, Alaa al-Rahman fi Tafsir al-Qur’an.

[1] Adapted from index No.731 (site: 911).
[2] See: Al-Manar and Maraghi, under verse 251, Surah al-Baqarah.
[3] Taleqani, Sayyid Mahmood, Pertowi az Quran, vol.1, p. 35, Shirkat Sahami Intishar (Stock Company Publications), Tehran, 1362 (Persian calendar).
[4] Tafsir Numuneh, vol.11, p. 84 -90.
[5] Adapted from index 731 (site: 911).

Will there be a new life in the world after the Day of Judgment or will the world be destroyed completely?

It is gathered from the evidences and proofs in the verses of the Quran that the Day of Judgment is in fact not the continuation of this world. This world shall turn into a mess completely because great explosions and horrific quakes will destroy everything. Thereupon, the world will emerge with a new design on the mess and ruins of this world. According to the same evidences, the resurrection of human beings shall take place in that new world.
Nonetheless, it has been reported in the traditions that God, the Almighty, will create a new world after the destruction of this world and following the Day of Judgment when the people of Paradise will settle in Paradise and the People of Hell in Hell. Then, God shall create a world which will be different from the present world and creatures.

An answer to this question depends squarely on an appropriate understanding of the Day of Judgment, resurrection and its signs. We will therefore elaborate on some of the signs of the Day of Judgment and then an answer will follow to the foregoing question:

First: What is inferred from the verses of the Holy Quran is that the world ends with the arrival of the Day of Judgment and that a new world will come into being after the day of Resurrection. 1 The Holy Quran has made mention of some signs which we shall mention under three categories:

A) Incidents which take place before the end of the world: One of the pre-resurrection signs is the coming of the last Messenger. Another sign of the end of this period is a smoke that will appear in the sky. The Quran says:

Then watch thou for the Day that the sky will bring forth a kind of smoke (or mist) plainly visible.” 2

It is narrated that a companion of the Holy Prophet (s.a) asked him, “What is this smoke?” The Holy Prophet (s.a) recited the above verse and then said:

This is such a smoke that will envelope the entire world from east to west, and it will remain for 40 days and 40 nights. A believer will experience the uneasiness of cold (like hay fever), whereas the smoke will come out of the nose, ears and rear of a disbeliever”. 3

B) Incidents which take place on the verge of the end of the world:

1. The mountains will be crushed following a few other incidents. They will be shaken by quakes, 4 lifted up 5 and then they will be moved 6 and crushed at one stroke 7. Then they will turn into a heap of 8 sands and then they turn into dust and disperse. 9

2. The seas will become turbulent and will explode. The Quran says:

And when the seas are made to flow forth.” 10 “When the oceans boil over with a swell.” 11

3. Devastating quakes: On the Day of Judgment, an ear-shattering sound will follow the sounding of the trumpet, and an unequalled tremor will rock Earth. Massive mountains, trees -in fact every place on Earth- will begin to rock at the same time. People will panic and be gripped by great fear. The most fear-inspiring aspect is that no one can escape it or find any sort of refuge, for this tremor is not like the ones with which we are familiar; rather, this tremor will continue until Earth has been flattened:

Mankind, heed your Lord! The quaking of the Hour is a terrible thing.” 12

4. On the Day of Judgment, the Sun and the Moon, the Earth’s two sources of light, will be darkened one after the other:

When the sun (with its spacious light) is folded up; When the stars fall, losing their luster.” 13

5. The sky and other planets are rent asunder:

When the heaven is split asunder.” 14

6. The incidents which will be created at the start of the Day of Judgment and resurrection: The last stage of the Judgment Day involve incidents which take place following the two preceding stages:

On the day when the earth shall be changed into a different earth, and the heavens (as well), and they shall come forth before Allah, the One, the Supreme.” 15 , 16

It can be concluded from the above that the Day of Judgment is not the continuation of this world. This world shall turn into a mess completely because great explosions and horrific quakes will destroy everything. Thereupon, the world will emerge with a new design on the mess and ruins of this world. The resurrection of human beings shall take place in that new world. 17

Second: There are also other evidences in the Quran which somehow substantiate the temporariness of this world. For example, the Holy Quran says:

We created not the heavens and the earth and all between them but for just ends, and for a Term Appointed.” 18

That appointed day or term is the Day of Judgment when the skies and the earth are folded up and the earth will go through a metamorphic change. Not only the earth but also the sun, moon and other planets will not be in this system for ever. Their movement and the system in which they operate are for a temporary period of time. When the appointed time expires, then they will be overthrown and rent asunder. 19

Scientific predictions made about the world and the existing system also accord, to a great extent, with the revelation and religious underpinnings. If there is a view opposing the revelation, it is, according to us, nothing but a conjecture which is soon or late perfected or modified by other scholars and drawn closer and nearer to the realities of the Quran. 20

Third: As for whether or not God will create a new creature following the Day of Resurrection and upon people’s going to Paradise and Hell, it is a question which has been touched by some traditions:

Jabir bin Yazeed says that he asked Imam Baqir, peace be upon him, about this verse:

“Were We then weary with the first Creation, that they should be in confused doubt about a new Creation?” 21

He (Imam al-Baqir) said:

O Jabir, the explanation of that verse is that when Allah, the Exalted, will destroy this creation and this world, and doom people to living in paradise and in hell then Allah, the Sublime, will create a new cosmos from the beginning, and will create a new creature without male or female that will worship Him and accept the oneness of Him. Further, He will create a new earth without this earth for that creature, which will carry the burden of it. And He will create a new sky/heaven other than this sky that will spread its shadow on them.
Perhaps you think God has created only one universe and you think God has not created any man except you. Yes by Allah, the Sublime, who has created thousands of universes and thousands of Adams, you are in the last of the worlds and you are the last descendants of those Adams” 22

Late Allamah Muhammad Hussein Tabatabai (may his soul rest in peace) quote this meaning and considers it as one of the possible (not the only) meanings of this verse. 23

Therefore, this world with its sky and earth will be overthrown after the Day of Judgment. And if a world is also created, it will have different features and would be beyond our imagination and perception.

For further information, see the following indexes:
1. The Nature of the Relationship of Action with Temporal Incidents, question 2229 (site: 2525)
2. The Age of Mankind, 637 (site: 701).
3. The creation of Adam and the Findings of Scientists, 2999 (site: 3297)

[1] Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Payam-e Qur’an (The Message of the Quran), vol.6, p. 21, Amirul Momeneen School Publications, 1374 (1995).
[2] Dukhan, 10
[3] Payam-e Qur’an (The Message of the Quran), vol.6, p. 27, Amirul Momeneen School Publications, 1374 (1995)
[4] Al-Muzzammil, 14
[5] Al-Haqqah, 14
[6] Tur, 10
[7] Al-Haqqah, 14
[8] Al-Muzzammil, 14
[9] Al-Waqeah, 5 and 6.
[10] Al-Infitar, 3
[11] Al-Takwir, 6.
[12] Al-Hajj, 1.
[13] Al-Takwir, 1 and 2.
[14] Al-Inshiqaq, 1.
[15] Ibrahim, 48
[16] See: question 1946 on our website.
[17] Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Payam-e Qur’an (The Message of the Quran), vol.6, p. 40
[18] Al-Ahqaf, 3.
[19] Qira’ati, Mohsen, Resurrection, p. 200, Jame’ah Islamic Modarresin Publications, Qom, 3rd edition.
[20] Ibid, p. 201.
[21] Quran, Qaf 50, 15
أَ فَعَيِينا بِالْخَلْقِ الْأَوَّلِ بَلْ هُمْ فِي لَبْسٍ مِنْ خَلْقٍ جَدِيد
[22] Faiz Kashani, Tafsir al-Saafir, vol.5, p. 60, Tehran, Sadr, 1415 A.H.
[23] Tabatabai, Muhammad Hussein, translation by Muhammad Baqir Musavi Hamedani, vol.18, p. 534, Jame’ah Modarresin Publications, Qom, 1374 (1995).

What is Shirk?

Literally, shirk means to allocate; technically, in Quranic terminology, shirk – in contrast to hanif – signifies the process of allocating someone/thing as the Almighty Allah’s partner or equal. Hanif means being inclined towards righteousness and moderation; hence, the term has been coined onto those who have disassociated themselves from shirk, abiding by pure tawhid. Shirk may be broadly classified into (a) shirk relating to beliefs (‘doctrinal’ shirk) and (b) shirk relating to acts of worship/obedience (‘submissive’ shirk). Doctrinal shirk may be divided into:

(i) ‘divine’ shirk: believing in an existent, other than Allah, who independently beholds all divine attributes
(ii) ‘creationist’ shirk: believing that the universe has more than one origin and more than one independent creator
(iii) ‘sovereign’ shirk: believing that the universe is managed by more than one independent Lord

Submissive shirk is categorized into overt and covert divisions. All divisions of shirk are deemed aberrant, before Allah, and are regarded as a great injustice to the Almighty. Today, one observes some sects abusing the concept of shirk in order to fault the beliefs of others; whenever they fall short of demonstrating proof, they accuse others of shirk. Such behaviour is entirely un-Islamic, immoral and improper. Nevertheless, Islamic scholars have, indeed, replied to all their deviating thoughts and accusing outbursts.

The word itself, Shirk, means to give a portion or share, or the involvement of two partners 1. The Quranic term has been used in face of “Hanif” (orthodox Muslim), and what is meant by shirk is – to associate a partner or an equal for God (Exalted be his praise). The term Hanif means to have inclination towards truth and righteousness from misguidance. And since the followers of Towhid wholly oppose the idea of shirk and instead are inclined towards this fundamental principal [of Towhid], they are called Hanif. And this is why one of the meanings of Hanif is “straight” and “clear”. 2

In the generous Quran, Allah The Most High has said to the Prophet:

Say, “Indeed, my Lord has guided me to a straight path – a correct religion – the way of Abraham, inclining toward truth (hanif). And he was not among those who associated others with Allah.”3

God has also stated:

Dedicate yourself to the religion as a Hanif, and never be one of the polytheist.” 4

Hence from a Quranic standpoint; in religion shirk is the opposite of Hanif, and in order to recognize shirk one must recognize Hanif, identifying an entity by its contrary, meaning that one can distinguish something by distinguishing its opposite. In brief, it can be said that shirk is the opposite of Towhid, and just like Towhid has different types, so does shirk. In a general categorization, shirk can be divided into two types: shirk in ‘Amal’ or actions (such as; obedience and worship), and shirk in ‘Aqideh’ (belief). Shirk in belief is divided into three parts:

Shirk in Deity: Believing in an existence other than God, which independently has all of the divine qualities. Such a belief will be the cause of kufr 5 , which is why Allah states in the Generous Quran:

They are certainly faithless who say, ‘Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary.’ Say, ‘Who can avail anything against Allah should He wish to destroy the Messiah, son of Mary and this mother and everyone upon the earth?’ To Allah belong the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them. He creates whatever He wishes and Allah has power over all things.” 6

Shirk in Creatorship: Believing in two independent origins and creators for the world in such a way that they control creation and modifications made to creation. Like the Mazdakians (Zoroasters) who believe in two originators, one of good “Yazdan” (God), and one of evil “Ahruman” (the devil). Shirk in Lordship: To believe that there are multiple lords and that God is the Lord of lords. Meaning that managing the affairs of the world has been delegated to each of the independent and individual lords. Just like the polytheist of Hazrat Ibrahim’s (Peace be upon him) time who practiced this type of shirk. A group of them recognized the stars as the governor of the world and a group of others recognized the moon and another group the sun.

Shirk in stage of “Amal” (action): This is known as “shirk in worship and obedience”, Meaning that a person’s humility and humbleness arises from belief in the deity, creatorship or Lordship of those whom he respects and has humility and humbleness for. These are the criterion and standards of shirk as it has been mentioned in the Holy Quran. However, there are some people who make up standards and criteria for shirk, and then commence to accuse other Muslims of practicing polytheism. These views that some have taken it upon themselves to gather have no type of credibility, as their criteria contradicts the ayats of the Holy Quran, the Seereh (Way and life) of the dear Prophet of Islam (Peace be upon him), and his successors (The Twelve Saint Imams).

Here we will mention some of the ‘made-up’ standards for shirk:

Believing in a super naturalistic sovereignty for other than Allah; they say: If someone were to implore the Prophet or any of the Allah’s Saints for assistance, and if he believes that they can hear this supplication or have knowledge of his situation or are able to grant what he needs, then this is an eminent type of shirk.” 7

Requesting a need from the deceased. They have said that: Requesting things from the deceased, seeking their help, and favouring the deceased are all types of shirk, and these are the principals and basis for polytheism.” 8

Dua and imploration are types of worship; they say that: Worship is only for Allah and Dua is a type of worship; therefore asking for something from other than Allah is also shirk.” 9

Visitation of tombs or graves is shirk. Seeking blessing and sacring through the effects of the prophets and righteous persons is shirk.

Celebrating the birthday of the prophet is shirk.

Building a dome above a grave is shirk.

These made-up standards and beliefs can be broken into two parts:

One part of these actions and standards are called polytheist actions, because they recognize them as being shirk in belief. In rebuttal to this part of their beliefs, it can be said that if believing in super naturalistic sovereignty, believing in intercession, and believing in granting of needs, etc. is such that all of these matters are related to Allah, and all that anyone has is from Allah, The Most High, then this is not shirk, because no type of sovereignty other than that of Allah’s has been taken into consideration. In the definition of shirk in Deity, shirk in Lordship and shirk in Creation, we said that these various types of shirk take place when one believes that someone other than Allah independently has the [divine] attributes of glory and perfection or can be an independent creator or can independently manage the affairs of this world. However, if one’s power or authority was dependent upon Allah, then that would no longer be shirk. We and all other Muslims that request needs from the Noble Prophet and his successors and or that believe that they have mystical strengths, also believe that this position and status has been bestowed upon them from The One Lord, The Most High. Considering this description can we still call this shirk?

As for the other section of actions that they regard as shirk; this is because they recognize these actions as being a kind of worship; i.e. Celebrating the birth of the Prophet (pbuh), Building a dome or cupola over a grave or kissing a shrine. Worship has certain mannerisms, and those mannerisms are specific to Allah. Worship denoted by humbleness and humility which comes from one’s belief in Deity, Creatorship or Lordship. However, if humility and humbles did not arise from such beliefs then by no means will that be ‘worship’. This is why in Sura Yusuf, Allah does not recognize the prostration that Prophet Yusuf’s brothers made before him as shirk, for the reason that they never had a belief of Deity, Creatorship or Lordship towards Hazrat Yusuf (Peace be upon him). Fortunately, scholars of Islam and other conscious scholars have given rebuttals to all of these cases and fabricated principles. For more information you can make reference to “Quranic Discussions in Towhid and Shirk”, written by Dr. Allama Jafar Subhani.

[1]- Majma’ul Bahrain – Vol.5, Pg.274; Al-Ain – Vol.5, Pg.293
[2-The word ‘Hanif’ comes from the word ‘Hanafa’ meaning – inclination towards truth and righteousness form misguidance. However ‘Hanafa’ actually means -inclination from truth to falsehood. Since the followers of pure Towhid, have turned away from that misguidance and have embraced this basic principal (Towhid) then they are called ‘Hanif’. This is also why one of the meanings of Hanif is straight and clear.
[3]- Sura An’aam -Verse 161
[4]- Sura Yunus – Verse 105
[5]- It is necessary to mention that all of these different types of shirk cause kufr. What is meant by kufr here is more general that what legal authorities and theologians recognize as kufr.
[6]- Sura Ma’edeh – Verse 17
[7]-Collection of the Fatwas of Ibn Baz – Vol.2, Pg.552
[8]- Fathul Majid – Pg.68
[9]- Arrad Ala Rafezah – According to the Shia narration – Ali Asghar Rezwani – Pg.135 – 143

Are there laws in heaven? If so, what kind?

The point must be noted that information on issues regarding the hereafter, the conditions of Heaven and Hell, can only be obtained through revelation and the words of the infallible religious leaders.

The answer to the above question has not been clearly given in religious sources, but it can be stated (from the points that will be mentioned) that there are no special rulings in Heaven, and if there are they are different from religious rulings. The reason behind this is that the philosophy behind the rules that Allah legislated and forced man to follow is the growth and perfection of man which is obtained through following these rules. The levels of paradise that are given to man are obtained through righteous deeds performed in this world before death or through righteous children or other believers who give the rewards of righteous deeds to his soul. In more precise words; Heaven and Hell are the realities of actions that were performed in the world. This has been mentioned in many traditions which state:

Today is the day of action where there is no accountability and tomorrow is the day of accountability where there is no action.” 1

So, in the hereafter there is no action which would cause a need for accountability and have a ‘reality’ which would appear in another place.

In addition to this, religious rulings are normally legislated in places where the rights of others can be transgressed on, or at least the possibility is there. But, this is not the case in Heaven because:

1. There is no groundwork or basis for transgression or oppression; crime usually happens in places where there is a small amount of goods and services and where the demand is greater than the supply. There is so insufficiency in Heaven and according to the words of the Quran whatever the people of Heaven desire or see will be is given them. 2

2. Another reason for the need of law is when man can be influenced by Satan, carnal desires, or spiritual sicknesses, such as envy, to commit unsuitable actions and oppress oneself or others. These issues are not in Heaven either because those who reach Heaven are pure people who were able to control their carnal desires and spiritual sicknesses in the world. In addition to this, the Quran says:

All forms of ‘spiritual defects’ will be taken out of the hearts of those in Heaven; everyone will be brothers to one another.” 3

All words spoken in Heaven will be rejected except words of peace. 4

Therefore, it seems that there is no opportunity for transgression in Heaven and the possibility of fighting is out of the question, hence there is no need for the legislation of laws. Quranic verses can be used to show that the people of Heaven do not have evil inclinations and that they have reached the highest levels of humanity and perfection, in such a way that they do not like something unless it is really likeable 5 and they do not like anything unless Allah likes it. 6 In conclusion, there is no need for the legislation of laws.

Some commentators on the Quran have raised the following question regarding the verse:

Gold dishes and cups will be passed amongst those in Heaven and they will take pleasure in whatever they desire and whatever they see,” 7

that does the generality of this verse include things that were forbidden in this world as well? If a person in Heaven wants a forbidden item would it be given to him? They answered these questions in the following way: these questions are asked without paying attention to the point that forbidden food, for example, in reality, is food that is unsuitable for man’s spirit and a healthy spirit would not have an appetite for such a food. Sick spirits are those that go after unsuitable food, or even poison, from time to time. There are some sicknesses where one feels the urge to eat dirt, but when cured the false urge disappears. People in Heaven never have desires for such unclean items because their spirit is being taken in the direction of purity and overall goodness. 8

[1] Al-Kāfī, v.8, p.58
[2] Quran, 15: 47
[3] Quran, 15:47
[4] Quran, 56:26
[5] Al-Mīzān (Farsi edition), v.29, p.272
[6] Ibid, v.34, p.154
[7] Quran, 43:71
[8] Tafsīr Namūnah, v.21, p.116

Are the heavenly Hurs a blessing allocated only to men, or they are for women as well? Is there any consensus about this topic as a result of Quranic and hadithic proof?

One of the blessings that Allah (s.w.t) grants to people who do good deeds and have faith in Him is paradise and the blessings therein. For entering into heaven there isn’t any difference between men or women; and one of the rewards that Allah (s.w.t) gives to people in heaven is that of the Huris (Hurul ‘In) and this is something that has been mentioned in hadiths and the Quran.
According to the majority of Mufassireen (Commentators of the Quran), marriage doesn’t have the same meaning in heaven as it does here in this world. According to this tafsir, marriage to the Huris comes to mean being matched with them and receiving them as a gift from Allah (s.w.t) (not that an actual marriage contract is executed between them and they become their spouses like how marriages take place in this world).

One of the great blessings that Allah (s.w.t) has prepared for his pious and believing servants is heaven, and all the abundant and never-ending blessings that are contained therein. Of course the pleasure and contentedness of Allah (s.w.t) towards them is the greatest reward. The only thing that grants entrance to paradise is faith and good deeds in this current world. However much the faith and good deeds are greater, that person’s status and position in paradise will likewise be higher; in this regard there are no differences between men and women and every human being can reach such a position. Allah (s.w.t) has said:

Every human being, either from men or women, who does good deeds and also has faith will enter heaven and will be given freely from the bounties of heaven.” 1

Of course, expecting the future world to have the same rules and way of life of this world is totally incorrect and baseless. Sometimes in the verses of the Quran and in Hadith we hear of such concepts like the pleasure of eating and drinking and having beautiful and young wives or being next to streams and lush trees, but these are only for us to be able to somewhat comprehend the realities of the next world and we have to understand that they are not just duplicates of this worlds pleasures. 2

From the collection of Quranic verses and hadiths it is understood that whatever the people of heaven want will be given to them freely,3 and one of these mentioned blessings are the Huris of paradise.

Numerous hadiths and Quranic verses refer to heavenly mates as “Hurul ‘In” 4.
The word Hur is the plural of Howra’ which means a women whose whiteness of the eye is exceedingly white and the blackness of her eyes is exceedingly black or it can be taken to mean a women who has very dark eyes like the eyes of a deer, and ‘In is the plural of the word Ainaa’, which means large eyed (in a good-looking sense).The Quran has mentioned the Huris as the ‘Pearls of Paradise’ 5 and it seems that they are a creation that is separate and distinct from the women of this world.6

Allah (s.w.t) says about them:

We will give them in marriage to the Hurul ‘In”.7

Many verses 8 are found that describe the heavenly companions:

Beautiful angels in the form of youthful men and women at the peak of beauty and vigor.”

According to the opinion of most commentators (mufassirs), marriage does not have the same worldly connotation when speaking about this subject. So here the real aim is the giving of a gift from Allah (s.w.t) of these Huris and matching them with the believers.9

We should pay attention to the point that Hur and ’In apply to both the masculine and the feminine; thus covering both male and female heavenly mates; female ones for male believers and male ones for the female believers. 10

Another interesting point is that for the purpose of serving those in heaven, there are Ghilmans who have been explained to be very beautiful heavenly servants; it is said that when people see these Ghilman they think they are looking at a carved jewel 11 or a round natural pearl.12 The verses that speak of them apparently say that they have been created for the sole purpose of serving those in heaven.

What can be concluded from all the above is that: All of the blessings of Allah (s.w.t) in heaven are for all pious and faithful men and women living there, the Huris as beautiful companions and the Ghilman as handsome servants being no exception.

[1] Ghafir:40.
[2] Husein Eskandari, Ayehaye Zendegi, vol. 5, p. 302.
[3] Fussilat:31.
[4] Dukhan:54; Tur:22; Waqi’ah:22 and 23.
[5] و حور عين؛ کامثال اللؤلؤ المکنون
(And there will be maidens with large Black eyes [to be their wives], They are like pearls preserved In shells) Waqi’ah:23-24.
[6] Translation of Al-Mizan, vol. 18, p. 228.
[7] Dokhan:54.
[8] Saffat:47; AlRahman:58, 70 and 72; Insan:19; Tur:24.
[9] Biharul-Anwar, vol. 8, p. 99; Translation of Al-Mizan, vol. 18, p. 228.
[10] Didare Yar (Ma’ad dar Kalame Vahy9), Ibid.
[11] يطوف عليهم ولدان، مخلدون اذا رأيتهم حسبتهم لولوءً منثوراً
[12] يطوف عليهم غلمان لهم کانهم لولوء مکنون