Yasmina returned from vacation and joined last week's conversation in which Grace & Tziporah discussed the topic of God's will. We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Grace, you are absolutely right. The concept of God’s will is one of the central beliefs in Islam, and Tziporah’s explanation of this concept in Judaism describes what it means and entails in Islam, as well. This belief applies to past and future events, and we use the phrases “In Sha Allah” and “Ma Sha Allah” to express it. Believing in God’s will is actually one of the first concepts children learn as they hear their parents respond to their demands: When children ask about going to the park in the afternoon and parents respond, “In Sha Allah,” they wonder if the answer is a "yes" or a "no." Soon they realize that it’s a "yes, unless something happens to interfere with our plans."
The words “Ma Sha Allah” are used when referring to events that have already occurred and when expressing admiration—for someone’s children or home—to ward off the evil eye. More importantly, they are a verbal expression of the heart’s eye that fully accepts and submits. For example, Muslims will say “Ma Sha Allah” when misfortune befalls them, accepting what God has decreed for them. This verse illustrates the point that we must equally accept the good and the bad: “And if God should touch you with adversity, there is no remover of it except Him; and if He intends for you good, then there is no one who repels His bounty. He causes it to reach whom He will of His servants. And He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Yunus, 10:107)
As to the matter of justifying one’s actions by stating that they are God’s will, this demonstrates ignorance or twisted motives. When catastrophes such as the recent shootings occur, the one thing to remember is that although God has allowed the perpetrators to act, this in no way means that He has blessed their deeds. Understanding and accepting the tragedy that befalls us may be a test of our patience and trust in God’s wisdom, but this is a topic for yet another conversation.