Skip to main content

The Three Types of Rulings of Allāh

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim

A discussion regarding the three rulings of Allāh: legislated, universal order and divine predestination and existence.

The following collection of benefits describe and teach the three different rulings of Allāh.

If your strength [of understanding] is deficient to where you cannot comprehend these words, then contemplate the words of ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb [رضي الله عنه] when he was reprimanded for fleeing from a plague [that had consumed a people in his time]. It was said to him: ‘Do you seek emancipation from the ordainment of Allāh?’ to which he replied: ‘We flee from the ordainment of Allāh to another of His ordainments.’

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim

The Three Types of Rulings of Allāh and the State of a Submissive Sound Heart:

  1. The Legislated Religious Rulings
  2. The Rule of Universal Order and Divine Preordainment
  3. The Rule of Divine Predestination and Existence

The Legislated Religious Rulings

The rulings [of Allāh] are divided into three types. [The first of these] are legislated, religious rulings. It is the right of such rulings to be met with complete, wholehearted, submission, free from opposition of any kind. Rather, with outright obedience. Such is true, unadulterated, submission that remains unwavered by the depravity of the subjective inclinations [of men], or their [claimed] breakthroughs, bureaucracy, [invalid] analogies, or blind imitation. Neither can one ever hope to seek a path of contrariness [to such rulings]; for only unblemished, willful obedience, submission, rapid compliance, and acceptance [is appropriate]. If [these rulings] are met with this unwavering submission, satisfaction, and belief in their truthfulness, there is but one other submission and another type of obedience for which there belongs an implemented desire, and action.

[It is] to possess no desire that is contradictory in nature to the implementation of the rule of Allāh, congruent with His intent [for His slaves]. Just as [the slave of Allāh] should be free of doubts that plague his īmān and the satisfaction [he derives from the rule of Allāh]. Such is the true state of the sound heart; free from doubts that would contest the truth, unadulterated by desires that oppose the command [of Allāh]. Deriving no enjoyment from incongruency [from the orders of Allāḥ] like the ones who delight in [leaving His command through] following their [evil] desires. Neither does [the sound heart] occupy itself with searching [religious texts] for obscure, hidden meanings like the ones who opt to follow the unspecific, indefinite articles [of the Qurʾān and the Sunnah]. Rather, his very being has assimilated completely to the command [of his Lord], he loses himself, ensconced deep in the knowledge of Him with truth [the Qurʾān and the Sunnah]. Thus, he derives tranquillity of the utmost stature borne only out of his knowledge of Allāh, his love for Him, his acute awareness of His orders, desiring only His [eternal] pleasure. This is the true [nature] of the religious rulings [of Allāh].1

The Rule of Universal Order and Divine Preordainment

The second category of [Allāh’s] rule is the rule of universal order and divine predestination for which the slave [of Allāh] possesses a degree of personal acquisition, free will, and desire. Its state is such that should a ruling [of this type] befall [the slave of Allāh], it may be from among the occurrences that inspire anger, hatred, and that for which he exacts blame. The right [of such rulings] is opposition; [the slave of Allāh] must defend himself from the likeness of such rulings with everything in his power. He must never surrender to it. Rather, he must oppose it with another of [Allāh’s] rulings of universal order and existence. Thus is the ruling of the Manifest Truth [Allāh] opposed with the truth for the sake of the truth; defended with His [other rulings] for His sake alone. As the leader of the knowledgeable ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlī said: ‘Whenever mankind happens upon [the subject of] divine ordainment or predestination, they withhold [discourse]. As for myself, a window into its reality has opened for me. Thus, I am able to oppose the ordainments of the Manifest Truth using the truth for the sake of the truth. For the knowledgeable ones [in these matters] are those who oppose these divine preordainments, rather than acquiesce to them.’

If your strength [of understanding] is deficient to where you cannot comprehend these words, then contemplate the words of ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb [رضي الله عنه] when he was reprimanded for fleeing from a plague [that had consumed a people in his time]. It was said to him: ‘Do you seek emancipation from the ordainment of Allāh?’ to which he replied: ‘We flee from the ordainment of Allāh to another of His ordainments.’ How could one whose very existence is dependent on [Allāh], for whom no goodness is achieved except by Him ever be in objection to such words.

For if hunger, thirst, or feelings of chilliness should occur, [the slave of Allāh] will attempt to stave them off. He does not simply meet them with mindless submission or surrender. Rather, he meets them with another ordainment [of Allāh] from eating, drinking, or clothing himself [seeking warmth]. He has defended himself from the ordainment of Allāh with another ordainment. Such is the case if a fire should start in his dwellings by the ordainment of Allāh. So what is the condition [of the slave] that he does not submit himself to this fire in willful obedience, submission, and wholehearted surrender? Rather, he opposes it with water, soil, and other than it such that the ordainment of Allāh can be extinguished with but another of His ordainments; the situation never excluding what is already the ordainment of Allāh. Such is the case if the [slave of Allāh] is afflicted with sickness by the ordainment of Allāh, he opposes this ordainment with another one from remedies known to defend his affliction. Thus, it is the right of this category of rulings that it be opposed with everything in the slave’s power. If the ordainment should overtake and exhaust his abilities, he should aspire to minimise its effects and outcomes using only the avenues which Allāh has put forth for that purpose. Consequently, he defends ordainments with other ordainments, rulings with other rulings. For such has [the slave of Allāh] been commanded. This is the true essence of legislation and divine ordainment.

Hence, lacking true understanding of this issue will inevitably lead to complete negation of divine ordainments or divine legislation, whether this occurs willingly with aforethought or otherwise. So what is wrong with the slave of Allāh that he would oppose the ordainments of Allāh to achieve happiness, to make a living, and fulfill worldly aspirations but he would leave opposition when it concerns the rights of his Master, His commands, or His dīn? Is this nought but excluding oneself from true servanthood, a true deficiency in knowledge of Allāh, His attributes, and rulings? For if the enemy of Allāh should attack him, it would only be by Allāh’s ordainment. It would still be obligatory on every Muslim to defend himself from this ordainment with another ordainment that is beloved to Allāh which is jihād whether it be physical, monetary, or with the heart, opposing the ordainment of Allāh with the ability [given by Him]. Here, there exists no submission or surrender in [this form] of worship except should the slave [of Allāh] exert everything in his power for the purpose of opposition and defense but it becomes clear that the matter is above his own abilities.2

Predestination and Existence

Should the slave [of Allāh] implement his utmost ability in opposition to the [catastrophe] that has befallen him, executing everything in his power by way of defence but the matter surpasses his ability, he will be from the among the people of the third type of Allāh’s rule: the rule of divine predestination and existence. [This rule] happens upon the slave [of Allāh] without his choosing it, but he lacks the ability to defend [its occurrence], or the machinations to oppose it.

The right of this [type of rule] is that it is met with true, wholehearted, submission; free of dispute. Rather, his condition with it should be like a corpse being washed, or one whose ship is critically fractured in the depths of the sea who lacks the ability to swim or bring himself to that which would bring about his salvation. It is here that true, willful, wholehearted submission is appropriate. However, [the slave of Allāh] possesses acts of worship specific to this situation that precludes simple submission and surrender. It is to bear witness to the magnificence of the Most Wise in His rulings, the unerring justice of His ordainments, the wisdom of the sequence of events. For whatever has befallen the [slave] could never have been averted, and what has missed him could never have been achieved by him.

The Book [al-Lawḥ al-Maḥfūẓ] already held a record of the proceedings before the start of creation itself. The pens have dried concerning what each slave [of Allāh] will have, so whomsoever is pleased [with what has been written for him], his pleasure is only for himself. While whoever allows it to cause him grief, annoyance, and anger then these things are only to his own [detriment]. The [true slave of Allāh] bears witness that the divine predestination that has befallen him has not occurred save for a divine purpose and wisdom stipulated by His name of the Most Wise, the Magnificent in Exaltation, delineated by His attribute of wisdom. That the divine predestination in question has happened upon its appropriate place, descended unerringly upon the station it was meant to descend upon. This is the stipulation of [Allāh’s] justice, wisdom, greatness, knowledge, and just rule. It is the very culmination of His great names and most high attributes for which He is deserving of only the most complete and exhaustive of praise, just as He is deserving of the same praise for all of His actions and orders.

Even if the [slave of Allāh] can fathom only blame [from his condition], Allāḥ remains deserving of praise and commemoration. For it is the very demonstration of His perfection, His names of greatness, and His most high attributes. Simultaneously, it is a demonstration of the deficiency of the slave [of Allāh], his ignorance, oppression [of himself], and carelessness [that he meets his situation with negativity]. Thus, this type of divine preordainment has been divided in two between the Lord and His slave. For the Lord the Exalted He has only praise, bounties, generosity of favours, and the best of commemoration. For the slave, he has nought but blame, negativity, misdeeds, and well-deserved punishment.3


    1. Ṭarīq al-Hijratayn 37
    2. Ṭarīq al-Hijratayn 37-38
    3. Ṭarīq al-Hijratayn 37-38

Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: August 21, 2022
Edited: September 8, 2022


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Events & Activities

Most Popular: Last 30 Days

Imām ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz
Imām Ibn al-Qayyim
Al-ʿAllāmah Ṣāliḥ al-Fawzān
Imām ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Nā…
Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah
Imām ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Nā…
Imām Ibn al-Qayyim
Imām ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz
Imām Ibn al-Qayyim
Al-ʿAllāmah Ṣāliḥ al-Fawzān