Slender bodies and slimmer waists – Is it DNA or Taqdeer?

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13 November 2018| 05 Rabi ul Awwal 1440| Ustaadh Muhammad Faheem Francis

A prevalent notion today is that science and predestination as taught in Islam have nothing in common, hence no atheist scientist wants to be told that the human traits written in the DNA strings of human genes are ‘predestined’ or ‘fate’ in any religious sense.

The simple reason for this is because the One who predestines anything is either a god or ‘The One and true God (Allah)’.

Islam in its essence is a religion which clearly and unapologetically teaches pre-destination, as Allah Ta’ala says in the following verses:
مَا أَصَابَ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي أَنْفُسِكُمْ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ نَبْرَأَهَا ۚ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ

“No disaster strikes upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before We bring it into being – indeed that, for Allah, is easy” AlHadid verse 22.

وَعِنْدَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لَا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ ۚ وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِنْ وَرَقَةٍ إِلَّا يَعْلَمُهَا وَلَا حَبَّةٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْأَرْضِ وَلَا رَطْبٍ وَلَا يَابِسٍ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مُبِينٍ

“And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record.” Al An’aam Verse 6

The clear record here is the ‘lawh al mahfudh’ or the preserved tablet, on which everything has already been written before time. This is a concept which Allah mentions numerous times in the quran, a ‘clear record’ or a ‘book’.

To clarify the concept of Qadaa and Qadr according to the Islamic Scholars of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah:
• Qadaa is the command of Allah, which He had already written or recorded in pre-history (al-azali).
• Qadr is Allah’s ability to bring into fruition His Qadaa (command) or pre-historical commands (which have already been written); at its appointed time.

To a Muslim, it seems quite contradictory that atheist scientists can believe in a concept of genetically ‘predetermined’ traits and genetic ‘predisposition’ to certain diseases ‘written’ in the Genes or DNA strands of a human being or animal; but they cannot believe in ‘predestination’ or ‘predetermination’ or a ‘preserved tablet/record’.

Try to imagine trying to explain genes to people more than a hundred years ago; they would not understand the concept.

For many years we have been told by scientists that our intellect, eye and skin colour, height, hair colour, every possible trait we have is ‘predetermined’ or ‘written’ in our genetic code. What’s more; our predisposition to certain diseases are also encoded in our DNA and that parents can pass these defective genes on to our children.

Thus the concept of ‘DNA is Destiny’ is abhorrent to any self-respecting atheist in the scientific community, yet appealing to a Muslim or believer in an All Powerful Creator God.

The latest argument against ‘DNA is destiny’ is that it is not our parents or genetic code which determines ‘who we are’, but rather ‘how we are’ determines ‘what we are’.

Case in point: a group of ‘Agouti’ mice which carried the defective Agouti genes pre-disposing them to cancer and obesity were put on a healthier diet. It was found that the healthy diet reduced their chances of being affected by cancer and obesity. Hence scientists say it’s down to ‘how’ you live which determines your quality of life, not just your genetics.

If scientists are trying to explain away ‘predestination’ or ‘fate’, then their findings with the Agouti mice have already been addressed by Islam!

يُنَادُونَهُمْ أَلَمْ نَكُنْ مَعَكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ وَلَٰكِنَّكُمْ فَتَنْتُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَتَرَبَّصْتُمْ وَارْتَبْتُمْ وَغَرَّتْكُمُ الْأَمَانِيُّ حَتَّىٰ جَاءَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ وَغَرَّكُمْ بِاللَّهِ الْغَرُورُ

“The hypocrites will call to the believers, “Were we not with you?” They will say, “Yes, but you afflicted yourselves and awaited [misfortune for us] and doubted, and wishful thinking deluded you until there came the command of Allah . And the Deceiver deceived you concerning Allah.” Al Hadid Verse 14.

There are also numerous hadith which support the concept if predestination as well as free will; as is mentioned in the hadith where Rasulullah ﷺ was sitting with a wooden stick in his hand with which he was scratching the ground. He raised his head and said:

“There is none of you, but has his place assigned either in the Fire or in Paradise.” They (the Companions) inquired, “O Allah’s Messenger! Why should we carry on doing good deeds, shall we depend (upon Qadar) and give up work?” Muhammad said: “No, carry on doing good deeds, for everyone will find it easy (to do) such deeds that will lead him towards that for which he has been created.” Then he recited the verse: “As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to Allah and fears Him, and believes in al-Husna, We will make smooth for him the path of Ease (goodness) (Surah al-Lail 92:5-7). Narrated in Sahih Muslim

Thus, science can only be a tool to find the truth, but the words of Allah and His Messenger are always the truth.

No matter what we may have been predestined for cancer or good health, obesity or slenderness, heaven or hell; we cannot stop working towards health, slenderness or heaven; this is what the beautiful words of Allah and His Messenger had already taught us 1400 years ago!

WRITTEN BY: USTAADH MUHAMMAD FAHEEM FRANCIS

Ustādh Muhammad Faheem Francis studied in Cape Town and Yemen.  He currently presents ‘Al Fiqh as Shaamila’, ‘Wonders of the Quran’ and translates the weekly Arabic Khutbah from Makkah al Mukarrama.