Taqdir, meaning the absolute decree of good and evil by God, an idea with which the word is now indissolubly connected by the popular mind as well as thinking writers, is neither known to the Koran, nor even to Arabic lexicology. There is only one occasion in the Koran on which a derivative of taqdir is used to indicate the fate of a person. Speaking of the wife of Lot, the Koran says, “We ordained (qaddarna) that she shall be of those who remain behind” (15:60, 27:57). But even here it does not mean that God had ordained that she should be a doer of evil. There is mention here of an ordinance, which holds good in the case of all evil-doers that they should suffer the evil consequence of what they have done; she was not one of the faithful, but disbeliever, so that when divine punishment overtook the evil-doers, she was ordained to be with them.
The doctrine of predestination is of later growth, and seems to have been the result of the clash of Islam with Persian religious thought. The doctrine that there are two creators, a creator of good and a creator of evil, had become the central doctrine of the Magian religion. Islam taught the purest monotheism, and it was probably in controverting the dualistic doctrine of the Magian religion, that the discussion arose as to whether or not God was the creator of evil. This discussion grew very hot and many side-issues sprang up. All this was due only to a misunderstanding of the nature of good and evil. Imam Ali bin Abu Talib said, “This (doctrine of predestination) is a dark path, do not traverse it; a deep ocean, do not enter it; and a divine mystery, do not try and unveil it” (Nahj al-Balagha, saying 287). He also said on another occasion, “The meaning of qada and qadr pertains to commanding obedience and forbidding disobedience; the bestowing of power upon man to perform good works and renounce evil works; the provision of grace to increase nearness to God; delivering up the sinners to their own states; the making of promises and threats” (Bihar al-Anwar, 5:96). God created man with certain powers, which he could exercise under certain limitations, and it is the exercise of these powers in one way or another that produces good or evil. For instance, God has gifted man with the power of speech, which he can use either to do good or evil to humanity, either to tell a truth and say a good word, or to utter falsehood and slander. Similarly man has been endowed with numerous other powers which may be used either for good or for evil. Imam Jafar Sadik said, “Neither compulsion (jabr) nor complete freedom (tafwid), rather, something between the two” (Kitab al-Tawhid, 59:8). Hence the controversy, as to whether God was the Creator of good and evil, arose simply out of a misconception of the nature of good and evil. The same act may be virtue on one occasion and evil on another. A blow struck in self-defence or in defence of a helpless man is right, and a blow struck aggressively is wrong. Hence, evil is also called zulm, which means the placing of a thing in a place other than that which is meant for it, either by falling short or by excess or by deviation from its time, or its place. Thus, the use of a power in the right manner, or at the right moment, or in the right place is a virtue, and its use in a wrong manner, or at a wrong moment, or at the wrong place is a vice. The Koran, therefore, has not dealt with the question of the creation of good and evil at all. It speaks of the creation of heavens and earth and all that is in them; it speaks of the creation of man; it speaks of endowing him with certain faculties and granting him certain powers; it tells us that he can use these powers and faculties within certain limitations, just as all other created things are placed within certain limitations