Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)
Does man have free will or not?
Man’s Creator requests things from him and decrees things to occur by him. Man has a choice in that which is requested from him but he has no choice in that which is decreed to occur by him. Our role in life is thus to perform that which has been requested from us as well as we can using the strength and ability which we have been given.
Anyone who has intellect can distinguish between someone who moves their arm out of choice and someone who has a twitch and whose arm moves without his control. This shows us that some things are within our control and some are not.
A man once stood in front of Sayyiduna `Ali and asked him whether man has free will or not.
Sayyiduna `Ali said: “Lift your foot.” The man did so.
Then he said: “Lift your other foot.”
“I am unable to,” the man said.
“That is your answer,” said Sayyiduna `Ali.
Thus to say that mankind has complete free will is incorrect and to say that he has no free will is also incorrect. In reality man has free will in some things and not in others.