How can believers of god believe in free will? Doesn't whatever happens happen because of god?
The whole idea of free will is a little muddied in most monotheistic religions ( not that polytheistic religions deal with it all that well).
What you've just asked has no logical answer I'm sure a theists will quote scripture from his/her religion and try to explain the whole idea of free speech. The gist of it would be god has given us free speech but he nudges us to do the right thing all the time and if we don't do it he damns us to hell. This explanation gives rise to the question why give us free will at all? just make us do what you want. Nobody wants to spend eternity in hell.
End of the day religions deal with fundamentalism. Anything that their god terms good is good. Anything termed as a sin will forever be bad.
The contradiction in the all good part -
Religions claim god to be all powerful and all good, what they fail to do is define the word good. Free will comes in as a way for religions to explain why we deserve to be punished or rewarded by God. We are free to do what we want but we're only supposed to do what the specific religion claims is good.
The contradiction to the all powerful part -
If god is all powerful and everything is according to god's plan then the sins I have done wasn't up to me. It was part of god's plan. I have been created by God to sin and am being punished in hell for eternity for doing what he made me to do. In order for people to not take this stance religion introduces free will and says you have free will so you chose to sin, not god.
Free will and god's plan have and always will contradict each other.
Yes believers of God can believe we have free will as it is to experience free will that God put us on earth. So our lives are a mix of free will (ability to choose) and facing our karma.
According to the Vedic scriptures, we were all a part and parcel of God. Think of our spirit soul being a drop of consciousness and God being an ocean of consciousness and the drop being a part of the ocean- qualitatively the same but quantitatively vastly different.
Just how a hand serves the body, being a part of God meant we serve the Lord. We used to be a spirit soul, reside in his abode and serve him. Somewhere we desired we wanted an independent existence. We wanted autonomy, control and the ability to make choices independently also know as free will and God who is our father and cares about our desires, put us on earth to taste the free will we once desired.
We transmigrated through lakhs and lakhs of species, went through many lives, accumulated good and bad karma and has now been given human existence in which life is basically a blend of free will and suffering karma (good/bad).
Clearly we are not happy because we can't be happy being detached from the whole we were once a part of. It is as if your hand demands an independent existence and because you love it you give it an independent existence but will it really be happy alone? Will it feel complete alone? Will it feel like it is serving its purpose alone without serving you ? No
Similarly, we are not completely blissful without serving and surrendering to God. But we do have the free will to do that while we also have to face our karma.
If our devotion is pure and if we complete our karma we can certainly break the cycle of birth and death and go back to Godhead.
It depends on your definition of free will. It isn't obvious, and there are several definitions which contradict each other. The most common definition among philosophers and laypeople is compatibilism: you act freely if you do so without coercion. Compatibilist free will is, as the name suggests, compatible with determinism, and therefore also compatible with an omniscient God.
Incompatibilism is the position you are assuming in the question. The main problem with this is that it would not be possible to function if your actions were not caused by antecedents (which includes all internal and external factors). Normally, your actions are determined by your preferences, values, fears, anticipated consequences and so on. Think about what would happen if your actions were NOT so determined, or were only partly determined. It might not mattter if you were choosing a flavour of ice cream, but it would be a disaster if you were doing something as simple as crossing the road, or trying to feed yourself.
I am not a scholar, but from my very limited knowledge.
I have never heard or learned that god can control your actions rather he has knowledge about everything you do and your intention of doing it.
For example, God gives you a financial crisis and suddenly your wife needs an operation. You can decide and choose what you will do, you may take a loan (it is forbidden in islam) and don't care about god, your course of life will change. if you choose not to take a loan and just lend from someone because you fear him, your course of life will change.
You don't think what God wants you to think, you are independent in your thought but a point come in life where how you choose and act becomes a problem. Your girlfriend dumped you and you can either choose to drink and suffer and you can move on its on you what you do, but the consequences because of it comes from him.
God will give you remainders about him, his rewards, his punishment but your mind how it reflects on it is all you. You can hold on to it or you can deny it but your course of life after that is from him.
AND ALSO fate is changed through calling out to him and pleading to him, your disease going away may become sooner, your debt finishing faster etc.
This is what I have understood from my learning.
Believers when become strong believers (devotees) in God's will, they do not use their free will. They act according to the will of the parents, the elders in the family and the Guru.
They use their free will only to obey and serve the parents, the elders and the Guru. They just use it to act according to the instructions of their Guru. They do not use their free will for selfish purposes, for worldly things, etc.