There is an Islamic scripture that states:
"And never say of anything,
'I shall do such and such thing tomorrow.
Except (with the saying:
"INSHALLAH" ('God willing').
We hear this phrase in any message of Osama Bin Laden and from the lips of the person on the street in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. It speaks of the recognition of fate and the humility of human understanding and effort in the face of God's will.
In the Muslim world, it is thought that nothing happens except by the will of God. Nothing happens unless it is 'written' by the hand of God. For a person to escape his or her fate is considered to be impossible. To utter the word 'Inshallah' is similar to a prayer or remembrance of God and His supreme power over all creation. This does not mean that everyone in the Middle East does nothing to escape from harm or to attain to their desired good, only that such actions will not bear fruit without the will of God to make it so. Inshallah
Golden Mosque of Samarra (now destroyed)
Here are two stories that I have heard concerning fate and life, morality and understanding that come to us out of the Islamic world.
Recently (2006) the Shiite Golden Mosque in the Iraqi town of Samarra was blown up and totally destroyed. It reminded me of an ancient story that concerns the city of Samarra as well as an interesting consideration of the idea of fate woven into the fabric of life and religion in that part of the world.
The first story is
"An Appointment in Samarra”
as retold by Somerset Maugham(1933):
There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. He looked at me and made a threatening gesture. Now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw Death standing in the crowd and he went to him and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, Death said, it was only a start of surprise on my part. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.
The Second story is:
Khidr and Moses
In the 18th book of the Koran there is a story of the angel Khidr, known as the Green One and the first Angel of God who is met by Moses in the desert. As they walk together, Moses expresses his wish to see and experience what Khidr does as he performs his work in the world. Khidr demurs the offer, telling Moses that he would not understand his work and would only interfere. But, Moses persists in his pleading and Khidr agrees on the condition that if Moses does complain then he will have to be left behind. Moses agrees.
As they go along, the first thing Moses sees Khidr do, is sink the fishing boats of many pious and humble fishermen. Next, he sees Khidr bring about the death of a very handsome young man. Finally, he sees Khidr restore the fallen wall of a city that is populated with unbelievers.
At last, Moses breaks into complaint, and full of moral indignation condemns the work of Khidr as sinful. Khidr tells Moses that he now must go, but before he does, he explains to him the hidden meaning of his actions.
The fishermens boats were sunk as they were to be robbed of their boats that very evening by a band of thieves. Since they were only sunk, they will be able to raise them again and all will not be lost.
The handsome young man was on his way to commit a murder and Khidr killed him to save the honor of his parents who were good and righteous people.
Finally, the fallen wall around the city of the unrighteous hid the treasure of two religious young men who were saved from ruin by the restored wall as their treasure remained safe.
What had appeared to be evil was in fact good.
It is hard, even impossible, to be morally right about things.