Freewill means the ability to choose good or bad. Your question can be answered by understanding the real meaning of freewill. Freewill means the ability to choose good or bad without any influence from anybody or any factor or reason but out of one’s own decision. The choice to be good or to be bad is a result of many factors, all of them directly related to the one who decides and not to anybody or anything else. Some of these factors are:
1. The state of mind of the person and how he/she looks at life. Those who think in a wrong way usually choose bad thoughts and bad deeds. The mind that acknowledges the main facts of life is a clear mind and usually leads to rightful thoughts and deeds, while the person who insists on denying the main facts of life or tries to bypass them, fails in achieving peace and success. The biggest fact in life is ‘The Creator of life’, Who has put a discipline of harmony between man and himself, man and others, and man and his Creator. Acknowledging this central fact makes one’s life in harmony, while denying or ignoring the discipline of life put by The Creator will definitely lead to bad life. So, understanding or misunderstanding life is crucial in shaping a man’s course of life as good or bad. It is his own decision which takes him by his own freewill to good or to bad.
2. One’s aims in life and how he/she wants to achieve them. As a result of his or her understanding or ‘misunderstanding’ of life, the aims of life are set by every person. Wrong aims like material, desires, lust, fame, power, etc. naturally deviate man from right towards wrong, while right aims like gaining useful knowledge, doing good, helping others etc., make the person closer to success as far as he/she is focusing on and trying to achieve the noble aims. Sometimes some people have good aims but choose wrong ways to achieve their aims. That is why we need to be sure that not only are our aims noble, but so are our means.
3. The result of the conflict between intellect (Aql) and excessive desires – as this conflict is a reality in the life of every human being. Those who give their desires more than the balanced share, fall into bad actions, while those who have a control over their desires succeed in getting more freedom, dignity and self and others respect. It is altogether for the person himself or herself to choose, and there is no power whatsoever, in any inner or outer factor to compel or enforce human behavior. No doubt, the instinct (Fitrah) which is inside every human being, always guides him/her towards good, but many people insist on going against it in favour of their excessive desires or misguided goals of life. As an example of the freewill, look at one of the greatest prophets, Noah (a.s.), who had his own son and wife going astray? On the hand, look at one of the worst evil doers, Pharaoh, whose wife chose to be good. It is after all the human being’s own freewill, as Allah (s.w.t.) says in the Holy Qur’an:
Verily, We have shown him the way, be he grateful, or ungrateful.”