A reader requested that I translate the word “destiny” into Arabic. In fact, there are a number of alternative translations that are all correct, but might have slightly different meaning nuances.
The Arabic word المصير al-maSeer can mean both destiny and fate. For example مصير الكون would translate as “the fate of the universe”.
The word القدر al-qadr has a similar meaning, although the difference is probably that al-Qadr already implies that there is some sort of pre-determined goal that will be reached, whereas with al-maSeer this is not as clear. This word would also be used to translate “you are my destiny”, i.e. أنت قدري – anta qadri (or addressing a woman anti qadri).
Al-maktoob (المكتوب) literally means “that what is written” and refers to the idea that everything is pre-determined by God (or in some other sense), because it has been “written” in the book of life already. This concept is wide-spread in the Arab world and is often used to rationalize events ex post, e.g. “كان مكتوب عليه” – “it was written for him” or “that was his fate”.
Which one to choose?
Which translation to go with really depends on the meaning you wish to express. Perhaps the most encompassing of the three alternatives would be al-qadr.