Just as Allah Ta'ala is the creator of human beings, so too is He the Creator of their characters, habits, qualities and actions. These actions, be they good or bad, are all in the Taqdir, control and knowledge of Allah Ta'ala. Nevertheless, He is pleased with good and displeased with evil. One must remember this and remember well, that to attribute only evil to Allah Ta 'ala is contrary to respect and etiquette. It is inappropriate to ONLY say that Allah Ta'ala is the Creator of evil. It will only be correct to say that Allah is the Creator of good and evil.
Similarly, one should say that Allah Ta'ala is the Creator of everything. One should never only say that Allah Ta 'ala is the Creator of filth and pigs, etc. It is wholly disrespectful and sacrilegious to attribute such things alone to Allah Ta'ala, Who is a Pure Being. In short, just as the servants are the creation of Allah Ta'ala, so too are their actions the creation of Allah Ta'ala.
However, some actions of man are voluntary, which come into being with the order of Allah Ta'ala, and others are involuntary, which occur without man's intention or will, and without his intervention, like the hand of a person who shakes from shaking palsy. In this shaking there is no intention, nor desire of the person for it, hence this is known as an involuntary action. When the doer desires for an action and he initiates it, then it is known as a voluntary action, for example, when one stretches the hand to make musafahah (handshake), or one lifts his hand to strike someone out of anger. These are voluntary actions.Just like how a person sees with the eyes given to him by Allah Ta'ala, and he hears with the ears given to him by Allah Ta'ala, so too does he carry out actions by the power and ability given to him by Allah Ta'ala. All these actions of man, although they are created by Allah Ta'ala, and they come into existence by His Will and Decree, however, since they are voluntary by man, and through these actions he carries out good actions, therefore he is compensated for it. If he does any evil action, then he will be punished for it.
The Mu'tazilahs and Qadariahs (deviant sects), hold this belief, that man has the full control of his actions and man is the creator of the same. On the contrary, the Jabariah (another deviant sect) hold this belief, that man has absolutely no control of his actions, whatever man does is not out of his own choice, just like how the movements of a tree or stone occur, so too do the actions of man. Hence, their belief is that man will not be taken to task or punished for any evil actions, but he will be compensated for good actions. According to them the sinners and the Kuffaar are all excusable and they will not be questioned (na'udzubillah).
The Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah say that both these beliefs are wrong and incorrect. The belief of the Qadariahs and Mu'tazilahs is incorrect because man does not have the ability to create his own actions. It is impossible for man to, bring a non-existent thing into existence. Also, the Pure Being of Allah Ta'ala, Who has no partner is also free from this that there can be partners to His exclusive Quality of creating. Allah Alone has the quality of creation - as Allah Ta'ala says:
"...Do they ascribe partners to Allah, that they (can) create like how He creates. They are equating the creation to Him; Say! Allah is the Creator of everything. He is One, Most Powerful." (Surah Ar-Rad: Ayat 16)
The helplessness of man is such that he cannot even utter the letter "meem" or the letter "ain" from the throat without Allah's permission. With such a profound debility, how can the quality of creation be attributed to man? The belief of the Jabariah sect is incorrect because it is contrary to common sense and logic. Therefore, all intellectuals are unanimous on this point that actions are of two categories; voluntary and involuntary. They also agree on this point that whoever carries out a voluntary good action, he will receive a reward, and whoever carries out a voluntary evil action, should be punished. The Jabariah sect oppose this differentiation and categorisation of actions. According to them all actions are involuntary and no action is voluntary.
Let us ponder for a while. The trustworthy, protectors and protagonists of any land are rewarded and the rebels are imprisoned and punished. The thieves and evil people are imprisoned for a while and have to undergo a trail of suffering. If there was no system of reward or punishment in this world for good and evil actions then this world would have been absolutely destroyed and devastated long ago. When this system of rewarding the good and punishing the evil is acceptable and commended as being justice by the temporary governments of this world, then how come there is a doubt and objection to this system with regards to Allah Ta'ala, Who is the Best Judge amongst judges. Can we say that it is an involuntary action to come out at night and break someone's lock or break down his door? If man can be subservient to the temporary justice of man, how can he not be subservient to the eternal and perfect Justice of Allah Ta'ala?
The Ahlus Sunnat Wal Jama'ah say that these two views, that man is completely in control and that he is completely helpless, are unacceptable and incorrect, and they are contrary to common sense and logic. The Straight Path is the one that goes between the excesses. That is that man is neither completely in control of his actions nor is he completely helpless; in fact we are in between being forced and having full choice. Logically as well, this is the Truth, because the view of the Jabariah that man is completely helpless and incapable of intention and choice, is contrary to common sense and real life. Who does not know that man has the quality of choice and intention? Every person knows that his/her actions are not like that of a stone. The movements of a stone are done without its choice and intervention, whereas a person has a choice and intention in his/her actions.
Now that it is established that man has choice and intention, then there are now two possibilities. Either this choice is fixed and unshakeable or it is fixed to only this level that Allah Ta'ala's Will has no play in a person's kufr and Imaan. This is the Madhab of the Qadariahs. The second possibility is this that man has choice and intention. But this intention and choice is not fixed and firm, rather it is subservient to the Desire and Will of Allah Ta 'ala. This is the Madhab of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah. Logically and rationally, this is the truth. Because for a person to have such full and fixed control over his choice, that is not subservient to Allah Ta'ala, is impossible. When the mere existence, qualities and character of man is not fixed but completely subservient to the Will and Desire of Allah Ta'ala, then how can the quality of power and choice be fixed in man?
Allah Ta'ala says -
"And you do not desire, except that which Allah Ta'ala, Rabbul Aalameen, Desires." (Surah At-Takwir: Ayat 29)
From this we deduce that man has desire and choice, but this is limited to and under the control of Allah Ta'ala. Therefore, the Ahlus Sunnat Wal Jama'ah say that man is in between being totally in control or under control. In a way, he has a choice, therefore he is able to carry out actions by choice and intention. He is not totally helpless, but he also has no choice in this choice. Just like how a person has the choice to see and listen, however, he has no choice in the ability of hearing and seeing. In the same way, man has choice in his actions, but he has no choice in this choice, in fact he is helpless in himself having a choice. When a person carries out an action through this Allah given choice, then in the Shari'ah we say it is "Kasab" (earned).
Allah Ta'ala is the Creator of actions and He brings it into existence. Man is the earner, actor and doer of the actions. This earning and acting is sufficient to warrant reward or punishment. For the weak, a weak choice is appropriate, and a full and complete choice is appropriate for The Creator and not the created. The difference between the Qadariahs and the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah is this that the Qadariahs claim that man has fixed and total choice over his actions, and we say that this choice is not full or fixed. We take the middle path and say that man's choice is between full choice and no choice, and this is what we call in the Shari'ah earning and acting.
In the Al-Qur'an, Allah Ta'ala has in all places attributed the quality of creation exclusively to Himself, and earning and acting i.e. carrying out actions to His servants.
"And Allaah created you and what you make." (Surah As-Saffat: Ayat 96)
In this Ayat, Allah Ta'ala attributes the quality of creation to Himself and the carrier out of the actions is man. There is absolutely no doubt that every action of man comes into being by the Knowledge and Will of Allah Ta'ala. However, Allah Ta 'ala has also granted a certain amount of power and ability to man, whereby man carries out actions and he becomes worthy of reward for it or punishment in this world. Similarly, he will be rewarded or punished for his actions in the Hereafter.