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Destiny or Willpower?

Nursi, at the end of his magnum opus “Words,” wrote that destiny can be applied to the past, but willpower must be applied to the present and future.[i] The idea of destiny removes pains of the past, and the idea of willpower helps to concentrate on the opportunities and options of the present and future.

Believing in destiny is not denial and refutation of willpower, and it is not whitewashing and validating the crimes, errors, sins, and mistakes of the past. Willpower is not outside of destiny, but willpower is inside of destiny, and Covey wrote about it as a Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.[ii] Crimes and errors of the past are the results of disuse and misuse of willpower.

Destiny is about making peace with the past and not allowing demons of the past to stifle and strangle the present and future. Destiny is about a sober (not sentimental) look at the past.

Willpower is about the sober (not sentimental) look in the future.

The balance, complementariness, and compatibility of destiny and willpower is the recipe of happy life and afterlife. The imbalance between destiny and willpower either shackles and chains a person to the immovable load of the past pains or puts a crushing load of future expectations on the shoulders of a person. I prefer to cut down the chains that shackle me to the past pains, and I choose to drop down a load of future expectations because I want to be free from pains and expectations.

The present is here and now, and I want to be present in the present, and I choose to live in the present. I do not want to be absent in the present or to be lost either in the past or future. In the past, I cried a lot about the past, and I worried a lot about the future, but my worries and cries did not change the future and past, and my worries and cries caused me to miss the present.

 Past is the set of data points for extrapolation and analysis. The future is an empty set of data points. The present is putting one data point on the graph. Human concentration and attention are limited and finite. Worries about the future and cries for the past discharge and finish the reserves of attention and concentration, and, as a result, inattentive and unconcentrated people make more mistakes in the present.

In Islam, there are six articles of faith: God, Prophets, Angles, Books, Destiny, and Afterlife. This means Muslims must “believe in destiny,” and the word “believe” is an act of willpower. Thus, willpower is not divorced and separated from destiny, and they are components and parts of a whole, not antagonistic or mutually exclusive items, i.e., Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern of Covey.

Defying willpower and deifying destiny is called fatalism (Jabariyya, Nursi, Twenty-Sixth Word). Defying destiny and deifying willpower is called determinism (Mu’tazila, Nursi, Twenty-Sixth Word). Fatalists deny the willpower of humans, and determinists deny the willpower of God, and they both are theoretical extremists.

Humans do have willpower, and God does have willpower (81:29).[iii] Humans’ willpower is short and weak, and God’s willpower is ever-reaching and ever-strong (omnipresent and omnipotent). Humans do have power and freedom of choice, but it is limited and bounded by the constraints of time, space, energy, and entropy.

Destiny and willpower are not roadblocks or traps, but they are two wings. Their intelligent and calculated use produces a smooth and soothing flight. Their ignorant and capricious misuse produces bitter, resultless, and never-ending fights.

I chose, and I am choosing the balance of destiny and willpower.

2:111 … Say: “Produce your proof if you are truthful!” [iv]

 25:30. And the Messenger says: “My Lord! Surely my people have made this Qur’an something worthy of no attention.” [v]

-İman isteyen münafık


[i] Said Bediuzzaman Nursi, The Words: On the Nature and Purposes of Man, Life, and All

Things, trans. Şükran Vahide, vol. 1, Risale-i Nur Collection, 2008, http://www.sozler.com.tr.

[ii] Patricia Buhler, “Becoming More Effective - Lessons from Covey,” Supervision, July 1996,

Gale Academic OneFile.

[iii] Ali Ünal, The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English, n.d.,

www.mquran.org www.theholybook.org.

[iv] Ünal.

[v] Ünal.


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