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Bayesian Predestination

One of the fruit of aqidah is believing in qadha’ and qadar. It is believing that anything that happen to us is already pre-destined from the very start. It is said that “Things that are destined for you will never miss you, and things that are not destined for you will never get to you”

Then, why work so hard if everything has already been decided before it even begins?

Prophet Muhammad was asked that exact question.

عَنْ عَلِىٍّ – رضى الله عنه – قَالَ كَانَ النَّبِىُّ – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فِى جَنَازَةٍ فَأَخَذَ شَيْئًا فَجَعَلَ يَنْكُتُ بِهِ الأَرْضَ فَقَالَ « مَا مِنْكُمْ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلاَّ وَقَدْ كُتِبَ مَقْعَدُهُ مِنَ النَّارِ وَمَقْعَدُهُ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ » . قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَفَلاَ نَتَّكِلُ عَلَى كِتَابِنَا وَنَدَعُ الْعَمَلَ قَالَ « اعْمَلُوا فَكُلٌّ مُيَسَّرٌ لِمَا خُلِقَ لَهُ ، أَمَّا مَنْ كَانَ مِنْ أَهْلِ السَّعَادَةِ فَيُيَسَّرُ لِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ السَّعَادَةِ ، وَأَمَّا مَنْ كَانَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الشَّقَاءِ فَيُيَسَّرُ لِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ الشَّقَاوَةِ » . ثُمَّ قَرَأَ ( فَأَمَّا مَنْ أَعْطَى وَاتَّقَى * وَصَدَّقَ بِالْحُسْنَى ) الآيَةَ

A very interesting point is his reply on this part:

« اعْمَلُوا فَكُلٌّ مُيَسَّرٌ لِمَا خُلِقَ لَهُ »
Which roughly translates to: “Do! Each of you will be eased for what you are destined for”

This reminds me of Bayes’ Theorem, which describes the probability of an event based on prior knowledge of conditions that might be related to the event. I am not attempting any tafsir here, but I can’t help but wonder: is it possible that these are somewhat related?

To demonstrate Bayes’ Theorem, consider this. Let’s say that chance of event A is happening, given no additional information, is 0.5. Let’s also say that if some event B happen, the chance of event A happening becomes 0.75. Let’s say too that if some event C happen, the chance of event A happening becomes 0.10. To give a concrete example, let’s say that event A is that “this afternoon will be raining”, event B is “this morning has been cloudy”, and event C is “yesterday has been raining”. I am not too familiar with how valid the relationship between these events are in the actual meteorology, but let’s just say that this make sense, for the sake of the example. This afternoon has equal chance of sunny or raining if we have additional information. But if this morning has been cloudy, there’s a big chance that this afternoon will be raining. But if it has been raining yesterday, there is a low chance that there would be any rain today.

The given example gives no control for human to intervene; one cannot exactly make it raining using human powers. But what if Bayes’ Theorem is also true for things that humans have some control over? (Of course it’s true!)

Let’s say that the chance of winning an election is 1/N where N is the number of candidate assuming each of the candidate has equal chance of winning. But this assumption is not true in the real world. Some candidate has bigger chance than other candidate. What makes it so? If A is the event that a strong candidate will win, can we identify the event B, C, D, …, Z that will influence the outcome A? If we can identify the full set (or at least the partial set) of the influential parameters, and also figure out how to mimic (if not surpass) the performance of each parameters in the winning candidate, wouldn’t it mean that we have an equal, if not bigger, chance of winning?

The thought experiment can also extend to applying to top university, climbing the corporate ladder, and, the biggest prize of them all, entrance to paradise?

Thus by fulfilling the preconditions of success and avoiding its opposites, one might find one’s destiny by making effort to make it easier for one to tread the destined path.

But this is not a foolproof method. After all, we are creatures, not the creator. We are neither clairvoyant nor almighty. But we can at least do what we can do, we can work hard, and hopefully we can be eased for what we are destined for. And we hope that our destiny is a good one.

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