fate - مكتوب


New Member
English - U.S.
Hi again,
Back with another question, and perhaps a roundabout way of asking it.
The poet W.E. Henley wrote "I am the master of my fate"
Which, by the way, I don't believe. And having lived in Saudi Arabia, I was told there that 'caution is not stronger that fate' - that we are not in control, that all is pre-destined.
And that the Arabic word 'Mektoub' means this. I believe literally, 'it is written', but as a way of saying that all is pre-determined.
Just wondering if this the the correct word and meaning. And sorry if the way I worded this question is confusing.
  • ayed

    Senior Member
    Welcome to the Arabic forum.

    Yes, you are right of this word.
    It means that your own fate is predestined by Allah , the Exalted is He.

    I often recite the following colloquial poetic line saying
    Ala kaffi el Qadar numshi wa la nudri 'An elMaktoob
    على كف القدر نمشي ولا ندري عن المكتوب
    Literal translation:
    On the palm of fate we walk and do not what is written(predestined).

    I hope this could help you

    Abu Bishr

    Senior Member
    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Hi Guys

    Just two points on the issue of “Maktoob”:
    (1) the root (k-t-b) from which the word “maktoob” is derived is a homonym that is used to mean different things:
    (a) to simply write or record
    (b) to predestine, decree or ordain (but this meaning can also be reduced to the first since what is predestined, decreed or ordained is actually what God has written out for you)
    (c) to prescribe, make incumbent or compulsory e.g. كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَام (Fasting has been prescribed for you)

    (2) “k-t-b” in the sense of decreeing or ordaining has been used several times in the Quran. According to Islamic Belief, God created a Pen which He then ordered to write down and record in a Book everything that is to happen, in other words, God has decreed or ordained what is to happen in the future. We, thus, have three things: Pen, Book & Act of Recording. The Pen is referred to as “Qalam”, the Book as “Umm al-Kitab” or just “Kitab” or sometimes "al-Lauh al-Mahfuth" (Guarded Tablet) and the Act of Recording as “kataba” (كتب) or “satara” (سطر) . It therefore follows that “Maktoob” (being the passive participle of “kataba”) would mean what has been written or recorded in the Book by the Pen as ordered by God.

    The following are some Quranic verses bearing out what I have just said, and observe the use of the three things (Pen, Book & & Act of Recording) in these verses:

    قُل لَّن يُصِيبَنَا إِلاَّ مَا كَتَبَ اللّهُ لَنَا هُوَ مَوْلاَنَا وَعَلَى اللّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ
    Say: "Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allâh has ordained for us. He is our Maulâ (Lord, Helper and Protector)." And in Allâh let the believers put their trust. (9:51)

    يَمْحُو اللّهُ مَا يَشَاء وَيُثْبِتُ وَعِندَهُ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ
    Allâh blots out what He wills and confirms (what He wills). And with Him is the Mother of the Book (13:39)

    مَا أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن نَّبْرَأَهَا إِنَّ ذَلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ
    No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfûth), before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allâh. (57:22)

    كَانَ ذلِكَ فِي الْكِتَابِ مَسْطُوْرًا
    ... That was written in the (Eternal) Record (17:58)

    وَالْقَلَمِ وَمَا يَسْطُرُوْنَ
    By the Pen and that which they write therwith (68:1)

    I thought that this would add some perspective to the discussion.


    New Member
    English - U.S.
    Thank you, Ayed. You are a great help, and I really enjoy the poetry.
    Josh, thank you for filling in the missing word.
    And, Abu Bishr, I appreciate you giving me the perspective on the word.
    I find this site to be a pleasure to read - I learn a great deal. Arabic is a beautiful language, and very complex. A perfect language for poetry!

    djamal 2008

    Senior Member
    In North Africa darija; el mektoub is someone's destiny. Everything in somebody's life is thought to be already determined from birth, thereby opening a great debate as whether Man is in control of his destiny or God decides as to everything for him.

    الإنسان مخير أو مسير؛