It's a very old thought, a concept that travels freely across time; all the way back to the first sin. It begs the question, "do we have free will?" Were Adam and Eve meant to disobey God? Was the decision their own, or was the deception of the serpent "written, in the card, meant to be, fate?" We often face such questions in the harshest of situations, such as the death of a baby regardless of the reason. Is it dangerous to pray "Thy will be done?" What if His will is not what we want, and how can it work alongside our free will, assuming we have it?
I would love to sit here and dive into the philosophical topic. But I'm a simple person and I want my simplicity in this to communicate with other simple people who are asking the hard questions about free will. There are more schools of thoughts about the topic than I care to list here in this article. And when we narrow it down to what we believe about God things should become clearer. And just as they become clearer we are faced with the different takes other religions have on free will, or lack thereof.
From a Christian stand point, free will resonates throughout scripture. It begins with God's own free will in creation all the way to the last verses in the book of Revelation. The Law in its entirety is void if we, as God-fearing people, have no free will. There is no point of Paul's exhortations if we cannot change the "decisions" we make. Jesus rebuking the Pharisees would've been senseless if God had already determined our actions and decisions. We are responsible for the decisions we make. That makes salvation all-the-more sweeter, that even while we decide to be stupid and choose to sin God loves us! If we did not have free will then we might as well strip God of His trait of being just, since He would be forcing people to sin. Furthermore, salvation would have no meaning since God would've already decided who will sin and who won't. When Jesus died on the cross He paid the same price for those who will follow Him and those who won’t. Our free will in Christianity is one of the most beautiful things.
Although as Christian, in the broader sense of the term, we believe in free will, we are caught often with a "fate" attitude towards things. That is because as Arabs we live among a Muslim majority that does believe in fate. Islam is such a weird religion when it comes to fate because one would never know if Allah's will for him is to go to the “garden of Eden", as the eternal destination, or hell. From the moment a Muslim is born his path is set. As if his life is nothing but a chemical chain reaction that hopefully hits the jackpot. There is no assurance of salvation in Islam. Muslims live their lives hoping that the life they are leading is pleasing enough to Allah to allow them into the Eden. Whatever good happens to them is Allah's will. Whatever evil happens to them is Allah's will.
The thought of fate may seem harmless, however, it brings forth a set of complications. We are currently experiencing a wave of violence and many in the Arab community are being murdered. While the reason behind the murders is most likely feud between criminal organizations, sometimes those affected by it have no affiliation with it. And when I listen to interviews with the families of the victims on the radio they say "it's fate, it's Allah's will" and it bothers me. It removes the fault from man and casts it upon a deity. Yet, they choose to follow such an unjust deity that is so powerless towards his own will, because it seems like that deity's fate is pre-determined as well.
While Muslims live by fate we, Christians, live by faith. Their fate is that things happen as Allah decides. Our faith is that God's plans for us are for "welfare and not calamity," to give us "future and hope." Our faith is in a just God who will act according to His character and not deny Himself. When we live by faith then we can truly proclaim, "Thy will be done," because we know He wants peace for us, and we know when we ache He aches. We love Him because He loved us first, and we practice our free will daily by choosing to live a life that honors Him.