Everything that exists in Divine Knowledge in an individualized form according to a certain measure, or, if we may say so, as a plan or project, is in a Record, called, in one respect, the “Supreme Preserved Tablet” (85:21) and, in another, the “Manifest Record” (36:12). The Qur’an states that nothing befalls us save that which God has decreed or preordained for us (9:51) and there is not a moving creature on the earth, nor a flying creature flying on two wings, but they are communities like mankind, and that God has neglected nothing in the Record (6:38).
This Record (or original Register) is a title for Divine Knowledge in relation to creation. During the “process” of creation, this Register is duplicated. Its first, most comprehensive duplication—all of creation—is the “Tablet of Effacement and Confirmation” (or the “Manifest Book.”) While the Supreme Preserved Tablet (or the Manifest Record) contains the originals of everything in Divine Knowledge, as well as the principles and laws of creation, the Tablet of Effacement and Confirmation is the reality and, metaphorically, a page of the stream of time. Divine Power transfers things from the Supreme Preserved Tablet onto the Tablet of Effacement and Confirmation, arranges them on the page of time and, in turn, attaches them to the string of time. Nothing changes on the Supreme Preserved Tablet, for everything there is fixed, but during the process of creation, God effaces what He wills, and confirms and establishes what He wills (13:39).
After birth, everyone is registered in a Registry of Births. Then, based on this information, everyone receives an identity document. Similarly, everyone’s complete personal characteristics, particularities, and future life-history are registered on the Supreme Preserved Tablet, which then is copied by angels. These beings record all the information related to one’s body, and encode it in cells as information or laws. For this information to work and come to life, however, the spirit must be breathed into the body.
The other part of this copy is fastened around our neck as an invisible book (17:13). We enact whatever is in that book until it is our time to die. This does not mean that Destiny or predetermination compels us to act in a certain way, for Destiny is no more than a sort of knowledge. For example, you send someone somewhere to do a job. Having already procured whatever is needed for the journey, you brief the man and send him on his way. Since you know in advance how he will behave, you record all of the journey’s details in a notebook and hide it in a secret pocket in his jacket. Unaware of the notebook, this fellow behaves as he wants to while traveling. You also dispatch two of your most reliable men to follow him in order to observe and videotape secretly whatever he says and does. When he returns, you compare the videotapes with the notebook and see that they are exactly the same. Afterwards, you interview him to see if he followed your instructions, and then either reward, punish, or forgive him accordingly.
As in the example above, God, Who is beyond all time and space and therefore has comprehensive knowledge, records our life-history in the original Register. Angels copy this information and fasten a personal register, which we call destiny or fate, around each person’s neck. God’s apparent foreknowledge and recording of our deeds and words do not compel us to perform them, for whatever we say or do is the result of using our free will. Here we should point out that such “foreknowledge” and “pre-recording” are apparent, because past and future time are only relevant to us; they cannot, and do not, apply to God. As He “sees” everything at one and the same time, there is no such thing as “fore-” or “pre-” when speaking of Him. Our complete life is recorded by two angels, called Kiramun Katibun (noble scribers). On the Day of Judgment, our record will be presented to us, and we will be told to read it:
Every man’s book of life-history (fate) have We fastened around his neck, and We shall bring forth for him on the Day of Resurrection a book which he will find wide open. (It will be said unto him): “Read your book. Your own self suffices as a reckoner against you this day.” (17:13–4)
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.