Arabic-Turkish term for fate, destiny. The original meaning of the Arabic word qismah, qismat, was distribution; later it came to mean lot, portion; in the third stage, which is a Turkish adaptation, it received the specific meaning of the lot that is destined for every man. The earliest use of the word in English was in 1849 by E. B. Eastwick in Dry Leaves, 46: "One day a man related to me a story of kismet or destiny." In Turkish the word kismet is usually an expression of a practical fatalism that accepts the blows of fate with resignation (see fate and fatalism). Hence it is not to be confused with the word qadar, which is an expression of the theological doctrine concerning predestination. The words charkh and falak in Persian and Turkish literature express almost the same sentiment: irrational and inevitable influence exercised by the spheres. It is interesting to notice that such a doctrine, which might seem to paralyze human endeavor, has had among the Muslims precisely the opposite effect. It has been the chief inspiration of the great courage that won for their religion its early triumphs and made it one of the great spiritual powers of the world.
Bibliography: Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. m. t. houtsma et al. (Leiden 1913–38) 2:1041. For other meanings of the word in Turkish, see e. littmann, Morgenländische Wörter im Deutschen (2d ed. Tübingen 1924), and e. margaurdsen, Das Wesen des Osmanen (Munich 1916) 100. For the interpretation of qadar, see e.e. salisbury, "Muhammadan Doctrine of Predestination and Free Will," The Journal of the American Oriental Society 8 (1864–66) 152.
kis·met / ˈkizmit; -ˌmet/ • n. destiny; fate: what chance did I stand against kismet?