A mid 14th century manuscript from Grenada offers a theological dilemma posed by an unknown Jewish author to the renown Muslim jurist of Granada Abu Said Faraj ibn Lubb al Shatibi (d 1381). The Jewish questioner assumes the Muslim is a follower of the Asherite doctrine of predestination. The questioner also assumes that the Muslim position is that we have free will to either choose Islam or make the wrong choice. The Jew asks the logical question of Islamic predestination: If all people are to freely choose Islam in order to allow for human responsibility, then if there is also predestination does that not mean that God ultimately determines his religion; and in the questioners case God chose him to be Jewish. The questioner asks: Why is God displeased with his Judaism if it was God’s will? The manuscript was brought to light and translated by Vincent Cornell and Hayat Kara and translated by the former. [i]
Oh scholars of religion, a dhimmi of your religion
Is perplexed. So guide him with the clearest proof:
If my Lord has decreed, in your opinion, my unbelief
But then does not accept it of me, what is my recourse?
He decrees my misguidance and says, “Be satisfied with your fate.”
But how am I to be satisfied with that which leads to my damnation?
He curses me and then shuts the door against me. Is there any
Way out at all for me? Show me the outcome?
For if, oh people, I was satisfied with my fate,
Then my Lord would not be pleased with my evil calamity.
How am I to be satisfied with what does not please my Master?
Thus, I am perplexed. So guide me to the solution of my perplexity.
If my Lord wills my unbelief as a matter of destiny,
How can I be disobedient in following his will?
Do I even have the choice of going against his ruling?
By God, cure my malady with clear arguments!
[i] Vincent Cornell, “Theologies of Difference and Ideologies of Intolerance in Islam” in eds. Jacob Neusner and Bruce Chilton, Religious tolerance in world religions (West Conshohocken, Pa: Templeton Foundation Press, 2008) 274-296.