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When/how are the fates determined? "The night of power is better than a thousand months. The angels and spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees." [97:3,4] "Lo! We revealed it on a blessed night." [44:3] To Muslims, the "Night of Power" is a blessed night on which fates are settled and on which everything relating to life, death, etc., which occurs throughout the year is decreed. It is said to be the night on which Allah's decrees for the year are brought down to the earthly plane. In other words, matters of creation are decreed a year at a time. Contradicting this, Sura 57:22 says, "No affliction befalls in the earth or in your selves, but it is in a Book before we create it." This means it is written in the Preserved Tablet, being totally fixed in Allah's knowledge before anyone was created. All of the above is contradicted by "And every man's fate We have fastened to his own neck." This says that man alone is responsible for what he does and what happens to him. [17:13]
You have managed to mix two different topics together. First of all, Al-Dukhan(44):3 speaks about the descent of the Qur'an, not about God's decrees. It is well known to all Muslims that the Qur'an was sent down to the lowest heaven (sky) in "Bayt Al-Izzah" on the "Night of Decree" (not "the night of power" as it is often erroneously translated). From there it was revealed to Muhammad (pbuh) piecemeal, a bit at a time, as the situation warranted. This continued until it was completed. Anyone who would simply back up to the previous verse would see that this verse is speaking about the Qur'an since that verse says: "[God swears by] the manifest book (the Qur'an) that makes things clear. Indeed We sent it down in a blessed night...."
This is once again confirmed in Al-Baqarah(2):185: "The month of Ramadan in which was sent down the Qur'an, a guidance for mankind ......"
The Qur'an was revealed a piece at a time in response to the allegations and challenges of the disbelievers and in order to strengthen the Prophet (pbuh). The Qur'an says in Al-Furqan(25):32: "And those who disbelieved said: 'Why is not the Qur'an revealed to him all at once?' Thus, that we may strengthen your heart thereby, .."
In other words, this method is more conducive of your experiencing the support of your Lord for you so that you can be confident of your message. When you need His support He brings it to you at that time and He is always close by. This method is a little more intimate and closer in support to the prophet (pbuh) than to simply hand him the Qur'an and say "You are on your own. If they ask you something then look it up."
The next verse continues in this theme with the words: "...and they do not bring you a similitude but We reveal to you the Truth and a better explanation thereof."
This issue is dealt with in sufficient detail in such books as "Tafser ibn Katheer" with the relevant supporting sayings of prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in this regard, so there is no need to get into further detail here.
Once again, in Al-Qadar(97):1, the verse is speaking about the descent
of the Qur'an to "Bayt Al-Izzah" in the lowest heaven, from where it was later
slowly revealed to the prophet. All of this is very basic information which can be found
in any number of fundamental Islamic references. They do not require a whole lot of
Now, regarding a Muslim's belief with regard to God's decrees, they are as follows:
A Muslim is told that God forces no one to do anything. They are given a free will as well as the faculties and facilities needed to implement that will. Thus, they are the only one's responsible for their actions. However, God is also Omniscient. He knows everything before it happens and He forgets nothing. He has complete and perfect knowledge. "And with Him are the keys of the unknown, none knows them but He. And He knows what is in the land and the seas, and no leaf falls but He knows it, nor is there a grain in the darknesses of the earth nor anything fresh nor dry but is in a Clear Record" Al-Anaam(6):59
Thus, just as one of us, if he were able to go back in time, would be able to write about the future exactly as it would occur but without himself having forced anyone into any action, similarly, God knows everyone and everything perfectly and has recorded all things but without having Himself forced anyone to perform actions of belief or disbelief.
Now, after God wrote all things in the Preserved Tablet, then He gave
all human two angels to accompany them throughout their lives. These two angels were given
this man's book of deeds and decrees. In it is written his provision, and his life span,
etc., and then his deeds too are recorded as he performs them. The book of deeds continues
to be updated until this human dies. It is then closed and on the day of Judgment it is
handed to him so that he can see the complete record of his actions, however, God's
perfect knowledge as preserved and recorded in the Preserved Tablet never changes.
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