Is it correct that Allah has fixed everyone's age [lifetime] at the time of their birth?
If the answer is in the affirmative, then on what basis or justification has God decided one person's age to be long and the other's short?
A.2 There are two things that we must keep in mind: one is the Knowledge ('ilm) of Allah and the other is the Decree (kitab or Qadaa' ) of Allah. Allah's Knowledge does not change, but He has the power to change His Decree. In the Qur'an and Hadith we read that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala has written in His Decree every person's age before his or her birth.
Allah says, And Allah did create you from dust, then from a sperm drop, then He made you in pairs. And no female conceives, or lays down (her load) but with His knowledge. Nor is a person granted long life, nor is a part reduced from his life, but it is in a Decree (ordained). All this is easy for Allah. (Fatir 35:11)
The Prophet -peace be upon him- explained this in his famous saying: Verily the creation of each one of you is brought together in his mother's womb for forty days in the form of a seed, then he is a clot of blood for a like period, then a morsel of flesh for a like period, then there is sent to him the angel who blows the breath of life into him and who is commanded about four matters: to write down his mean of livelihood, his life span, his actions and whether happy or unhappy.... (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Thus every person's age is written before his/her birth according to Allah's will and decision. But this does not mean that our age cannot increase or decrease. Muslims are allowed to pray for long life and there are certain deeds that can increase a person's age. This does not change Allah's ultimate knowledge, but it means that by Allah's permission certain factors (asbab) do contribute to increasing or decreasing the length and quality of people's lives. Islam emphasizes Allah's knowledge and power, but it also recognizes the laws of cause and effect and human freedom.
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