A human will, however strong it is, can never pierce through the veils of destiny.

We started our spiritual journey to God with a word of wisdom that guides us to put our hope in God’s Mercy and that our hope should not be affected by committing mistakes. God is so merciful that He forgives any sin as long as there is a sincere repentance. Sometimes when one starts a new leaf he is full of aspiration and enthusiasm. He tries to change himself, his society, and the whole universe over one night. He may also do his best to acquire knowledge or do something good without paying attention to what Ibn `Ata’illah called “the veils of destiny”.

In his well-known book, Al-Hikam (Words of Wisdom), sheikh Ahmad Ibn `Ataa’illah As-Sakandari says: “People’s will, however strong it is, can never pierce through the veils of destiny.” What does this mean?

The Arabic word himam is the plural form of himma which means “will, activity, energy, and the determination to do something”. This will, however strong it is, should not pierce through the destiny decreed by God:
{Behold, everything have We created in due measure and proportion.} (Al-Qamar 54:49)

Despite our strong will, we cannot pierce through God’s destinies. These destines are Universal laws of God. God says:

{Thus [it is]: no change will you ever find in God’s way; yea, no deviation will you ever find in God’s way! }(Fatir 35:44)

Among God’s laws is that He created life according to a certain system and created certain conditions leading to certain results. Neither a Muslim nor a non-Muslim can pierce through the veils of destiny nor can they reach conclusions without taking reasons, necessary steps, circumstances, and universal laws into consideration.

For instance, God says:

{Do men think that on their [mere] saying, “We have attained to faith”, they will be left to themselves, and will not be put to a test?} (Al-`Ankabut 29:2)

This is the law of testing people. If you claim that you believe in God, He will test you. You cannot skip this test even you have a strong determination because this is one of Universal laws of God.
Also among God’s laws are the two issues of time and gradual progress. Time has been created by God for people so that everyone recognizes its importance based on his knowledge. However, God is not bound by time. Nothing existed before God and nothing will exist after God. Time is a human characteristic not a divine characteristic. God decreed that goals should take time to be achieved. We cannot change the status of the world or change yourself in a moment. Things around you cannot be changed in a moment. This will never happen. Jurists say: ” Any person who hastens the accomplishment of a thing before its due time, is punished by being deprived thereof.” Therefore, one should work hard believing in the gradual progress and giving everything its due time.

One who wants to change himself or change the world around him in a few moments might have a feeling of despair because he does not acknowledge this Divine law, i.e. God has decreed some destines like the veils that cannot be pierced through by human beings.
Among the veils of destiny that every Muslim should take care of is what scholars call “duty of the time”. Throughout one’s life, there are different stages. At one stage, you have to look after your kids and take care of their affairs. This might take much of your time and require from you much effort. At another stage, you have to work hard to earn money so that you can, for example, get married.

At a third stage, you have to travel. Duty of the time requires you to find some time to gain knowledge. You might be required to take rest when you feel sick. In all these cases you cannot pierce through the veils of destiny. After recovery you cannot do the things you used to do before. After reaching the age of seventy, you cannot do the things you used to do when you were forty.

You have to pay attention to the duty of the time according to your understanding. At a certain stage, you have to gain knowledge. Therefore, you have to free yourself and focus on achieving this goal. If it happens that your kids are facing some difficulty, you have to put your heart and soul into helping them. This is because the duty of the time requires you to help your brother, your father, your mother, and your sister. After completing such duties, you have to free yourself to perform some acts of worship. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was commanded by God in the Qur’an:

{Behold, We have bestowed upon you good in abundance:–– hence, pray unto your Sustainer [alone], and sacrifice [unto Him alone].} (Al-Kawthar 108:1-2)

In this case, you will not pierce through the veils of destiny. You may say “I have much time so that I can learn the Qur’an by heart.” But you will not memorize the Qur’an in  a day or a month. If you commit it to memory in a month, you will forget it also in a month. What is needed is to let things take their necessary time and you have to abide by God’s destiny.
You cannot break those Divine decrees and universal laws because they have the dominance if you try to oppose them. The Prophet is reported to have said, “Surely this religion [Islam] is firm.” Then he said: “…so apply it with tenderness.” (Al-Bayhaqi) This means that even embracing religion in one’s daily life should be attained step by step. You cannot learn all the rules of religion or practice it in a day. In a weak hadith, the Prophet is reported to have said: “The one who is too harsh on his riding animal, he will not reach his destination and the riding animal will die.” If you travel by a horse, for example, without taking rest and without abiding by God’s decrees, the horse will die even you have strong aspirations, and you will not reach you destination.

If the previous word of wisdom urges us strike a balance between awe and hope, the word of wisdom under discussion teaches us how to strike a balance between our will and the Divine destiny, i.e., between what we aspire for or want to do in the universe and the veils of destiny, universal laws, and the duty of the time as explained above.

We implore God the Almighty to grant us strong will, and to grant us wisdom so that we can strike a balance in our actions. By being wise we will not pierce through the veils of destiny and will not overburden those animals until they die. This is because “people’s will, however strong it is, can never pierce through the veils of destiny.” A balanced start, accompanied with a strong will, will continue and last.


ٍSource: www.onislam.net — Ibn Ataa’s Pearls of Wisdom — Jasser Auda