3

I have discovered that many Muslims shy away from any appearance of guessing at God's mind. I can understand this perfectly. But surely Muslims know God's character well enough to speculate about God's response to a hypothetical?

I saw a question on a different site, something like: would God have compromised with the Quraysh if they had asked for less? Maybe, instead of asking permission to keep their idols, what if they had asked for four daily prayers instead of five? Or something minor like that.

But I knew that no one would answer that question, because of the stigma about guessing at God's mind.

I understand, it's a kind of taboo to presume to know what God is thinking. Is there any way to encourage Muslims to answer such questions? Some way of phrasing the question, maybe?

Is there a way that Muslims could answer such questions without crossing the taboo? Could they say, "I'm just speculating" or the like? Is there really just no way? I mean, if I asked "Will God do this or that", well, if you know "this" is good and "that" is evil, then won't you definitely say, "God will do this, I'm sure of it"? Is even that considered taboo?

  • 1
    There's a certain tabu on telling what God would do about something. As we are told not to scrutinize about Allah's decisions. But on the other hand it might be pretty find to ask about the goals of shari'a on a certain topic. I'm not sure whether that helps in your case. – Medi1Saif Jun 27 '18 at 6:16
  • It really feels like there's a solid main-site question in here somewhere about asking hypotheticals, but I'm not quite sure how to tease it out. – goldPseudo Jul 4 '18 at 5:04
5

This is problematic on a few levels.

First of all, from a Stack Exchange perspective, such questions are eminently unanswerable insofar as the only authority that can actually answer what Allah would do in a hypothetical situation is Allah himself (and as far as I know, He has not signed up for an account here). Any answers to such questions would end up being pure speculation and opinion which are very difficult to keep constructive using the Stack Exchange model.

As for a religious perspective, I would recommend you check out the story of Moses and al-Khidr. It's too long to quote here, but in short Moses follows al-Khidr who performs a number of seemingly random — and to Moses' eyes inappropriate — acts. The relevant point of the story is that, without the knowledge that Allah had bestowed on al-Khidr, Moses was unable to recognize the wisdom of these actions. If even Moses — one of the great prophets — had trouble with this, how so then can common laymen even begin to speculate on Allah's response to any hypothetical situation?

And as for deeds that have already passed, questioning what might've happened if things had unfolded differently dismisses the fact that Allah has already decreed that events turn out as they had. There is a hadith to this effect where the prophet is reported as saying "If anything befalls you, do not say, "if only I had done such and such" rather say "Allah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does." Saying 'if' opens one to the deeds of Satan.'" It is difficult to ask such questions without also questioning the truth of Allah's divine decree and predestination, which is considered one of the six articles of faith

There are handfuls of situations where there is direct revelation from Allah about what He would do or would've done, but other than those any such answers would necessarily involve speaking on things on which the answerer simply has no knowledge.

(Of course, it's not like there's any shortage of people (Muslims or otherwise) who are perfectly comfortable speaking about things on which they have no knowledge, and more than happy to do so. They just…shouldn't. And the value of any such answers would be questionable at best.)

About the only way that I can see such a question getting a useful answer is if it's a situation where there's already been significant scholarly study and asking about the results of that.

  • Thank you! This answer illuminates so much, I even feel a little better about never being able to ask hypotheticals. Muslims are an intriguing lot. Cheers – SaganRitual Jun 30 '18 at 22:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .