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optimist
09-08-2009, 05:08 PM
Salam,

Sermons on the occasions of Friday’s congressional prayer, and during all the religious occasions, often recite a verse which is translated thus:

“Whoever is guided by Allah cannot go astray, and whoever is misguided by Allah cannot be guided by anyone”

Does the above verse say that Allah (mis) guides people at will and whimsically? One must not take a Quranic verse in isolation to study it. The Quran should be studied under topics --- keeping in view all the verses dealing with a certain subject.

Please consider the followings:

1. Whoever follows My guidance shall have no fear or frustrated depression. And those who reject and deny My signs will be the people with permanent abode in hellfire – (2:38-39).
2. The messengers of Allah would bring divine guidance through Revelation to mankind with (the option): ‘So whoever wishes can accept it, and whoever so desires, may reject it (18:29).



These clear verses stand in stark contrast to the verbal interpretation mentioned above of the verse at the head of this chapter. Obviously, it necessitates a deep examination of the situation from the Quranic perspective.

Divine Guidance (Revelation):

(i) Sura Taha: “Our Preserver is the One who has created all things, then guided them (to their destination)” - (20:50).
(ii) Sura Al-Aala: “The One who created, then gave (all things their) balance, then set standards (for them), and then guided (them to those laws)” – (87:2-3).
(iii) Sura Al-Lail: “Certainly, it is Our responsibility to guide” (92:12).
(iv) Sura Aal-e-Imran: “Tell (them) the (only real) guidance is from Allah” – (3:72); also (2:120 and 6:71).

Obedience of the Messengers:

The modus operandi was for Allah to hand His guidance through Revelation to His messengers who then passed it on to men --- ‘so that, after the messengers, men cannot blame Allah’ – (4:165); ‘Or people may not say “If Allah had guided us, we would have been law-abiding: “ – (13:7). A messenger’s responsibility was to ‘deliver whatever you have received from your Preserver’ (5:67). ‘Whatever received from the Preserver’ was the Book. The last and final Book of Allah is the Quran which is a guide for all humanity: ‘By this (book) Allah guides, whoever follows it, on to the right path and brings people out of darkness into light and guides them onto the straight, right way’ – (5:16). Thus the divine guidance would be delivered to men with: ‘So whoever is guided, does so for their own selves, and whoever decides to go the wrong way shall bear the consequences’ – (10:108); also (39:41).

People who can be guided :

It has already been stated that, with the exception of Man, everything in the universe follows a pattern of existence pre-decided by Allah. Man has the option to follow the pattern of life suggested by Allah or reject it. This choice should be exercised in the light of knowledge and reason and adopted entirely independently of any physical, intellectual or psychological compulsion. This is called Iman (conviction). Acceptance of this Message through conviction (rational reasoning) is a pre-requisite for benefiting from it (obtaining guidance).


This code of guidance (the Quran) can thus lead mankind through life progressively – “Their Preserver guides them because of their conviction” (10:9). Sura Anaam: “People who are convinced (by this message) and keep their conviction free of wrong (ideas and deeds) are guided” (by it) - (6:83); Sura Tauba: “Just following the conventional ‘good deeds’ of one’s society doesn’t bring guidance. It can be obtained by being convinced and following this message (the Quran)” - (9:19-20); Sura Baqara: “Allah’s Book guides by pointing out the right (correct) in case of disputes” - (2:213) - and also: “This book lits the dark path of life and leads the way- ….. to safety” (2:257) – and again: “People who steadfastly face problems, can get guidance (from it)” – (2:157) - the Quran terms it as ‘holding on to the rope of Allah’ – (3:101, 3:102, 4:176). In other words, if one adheres to Allah’s laws against all odds, prosperity and progress open their arms – (4:65-68).

The Quran has summarized the above in Sura Ankaboot: “Those (people) who strive for Us get guided by Us and Our prosperous path” – (26:69); and also: “Allah increases (the facilities) for those who follow the right path --” (19:76).


People who cannot be Guided :

Allah created Man, set an ultimate destination of his life’s journey, guided him to the right path, complete with signposts. Someone who chooses not to read the signposts, or ignores them, cannot be expected to reach his destination. For instance: (i) Sura Younis: “Can you (O Messenger!) guide those who choose to Those who walk blindly be blind and not see?” – (10:43). Elsewhere: “O Messenger! You cannot make the dead listen (to you) nor those who play deaf; nor can you guide the blind. You can only deliver the message to those who are willing to be convinced and accept it” – (27:80-81); (30:52-53). Also: “One cannot talk to those who plug their ears shut” – (31:7). Sura Faater: “The blind and the sighted cannot be the same just as darkness and light are not; sunshine and shade are not the same as not are the dead and the living. O Messenger! You cannot talk to the dead in their graves. Only those will listen who want to” – (35:19-22).

Sura Nahal: “O Messenger! Despite your strong desire, how can Allah guide those who choose to go the wrong way?” – (16:37). Also: “How can Allah guide those who do not accept the truth of His message?” (16:104); “those who reject it and persuade others to de likewise” – (4:107).

Sura Qasas: “O Messenger! These people don’t answer your call because they want to follow their lowly drives. Just imagine, who can be more misguided than the one who follows his drives without the guidance from Allah? The wrong-doers cannot benefit from the divine message” – (28:50); (30:29).

A transgressor (فاسق) is one who breaks the pattern of life required by The Transgressors Allah’s message and loses its protective and preservant environment, much in the way of a decaying fruit. Such people – the transgressors (فاسقين) – cannot hope to be guided by Allah (5:108); (2:26); (9:24). Sura Saff: “When they transgress, Allah (‘s Law of Returns) turns their hearts away; Allah doesn’t guide transgressors” -- (61:5).

Finally, here is the verse which very clearly says it all: “(Just think) How can Allah guide the people who reject His message after having accepted it? They had observed that the Messenger has brought the Truth very clearly; Allah doesn’t guide the unfair people!” –(3:85).

It is important to note that the expression ‘How can Allah guide such people?’ does not refer to an eternally hopeless situation. As long as a group keeps on the wrong path, they cannot hope to arrive at their destination. But when they decide to look for, and choose, Allah’s path, their chances of success increase – (O Messenger) keep reminding them through the Quran that they are following a path of calamities (so that no one is doomed just because nobody invited them to the right path)” – (6:70).

Allah has sealed their hearts:

ختم الله على قلوبهم

The Quran illustrates this in a variety of ways, some of which have already been mentioned. Consequences are natural results of Man’s own actions. Allah attributes them to Himself because they occur according to His Law of Returns. Let us now examine the verses containing such phrases as ‘Allah seals their hearts’.

(i) Among the opening verses of Sura Baqara are (conventionally translated as): “It does not matter to the Rejecters whether you (O Messenger) warn them or not. They will never accept (the Message). Allah has sealed their hearts and ears and covered their eyes. They are in for a big punishment’ – (2:6-7). It naturally leads to the dilemma. If the non-Muslims are not going to accept the Message, why bother? Moreover, it is all done by Allah, so why punish them? The Quran is free of such conflicts because:

i. a: People who wish to embark on a safe journey to life’s destination may, and do, get to the heart of this divine guidance and, therefore, are successful --- (2:2-5).

i. b: But those who resolve not to listen to, or care about the Message, cannot benefit from it. They close their eyes and ‘ignore the Right Book in favor of wrong books’ (2:18); they (play and) become dumb, deaf and blind and just don’t heed the calls for a return to the right path – (2:16); they are like sheep, mindlessly following the one in the front. They reject suggestions to apply reason and logic to review their stance with: ‘but we will follow the path on which we found our ancestors (even if they were wrong!) (2:170).

They are just like sheep ignoring their shepherd – “dumb, deaf, blind and mindless” – (2:171). Such are the ones whose hearts get sealed – “They don’t listen to your invitation to guidance; you can see them staring at you but they are not looking!” -- (7:198); “It is the same to such people if you call them or say nothing!” (7:193).

(ii) “These people stubbornly stick to their decision of rejecting the Message” (10:74); “that is how We seal the hearts of such people” (10:74); “they boast about their ‘draped hearts’ but, actually, Allah has sealed their hearts because of their mentality of rejection” (40:155).

(iii) Then there are those who reject the Message without any reasoning – that is how Allah seals the hearts of the arrogantly stubborn (40:35). They sit to hear the Messenger absent-mindedly and later have to ask other attendees as to what the Messenger was saying. “Such are the people whose hearts are sealed by Allah because they follow their own selfish drives” (47:16). They arrogantly make fun of the warnings of the Messenger dismissing his call as ‘nothing but stories from the past --- “they are the ones whose hearts get wrapped (in ignorance) and their ears plugged shut” (6:25). They very rudely dismiss the call of the Messenger with: “Our hearts are draped and our ears plugged shut, so your call doesn’t get through to us; there is a barrier between you and us; therefore, you do what you have to do while we do what we have to” (41:5), “don’t you worry about us!” Such are the people whose hearts get draped and their ears close shut” (14:57). They not only reject the Message themselves but also try to dissuade others, too: “That is how Allah seals the hearts of those who do not know!” (30:58-59). “Thus Allah seals the hearts of those who do not employ knowledge and reason – an invisible barrier is put up between such people and the Quran! (17:45-46).

(iv) Then there are those who pay lip-service to the cause of the Message but have not intention of really committing themselves. The Quran refers to them as The Hypocrites - منافقين - (the hypocrites). Sura Tauba refers to their evading tactics to avoid having to enter a battlefield in the service of Allah – these are ones who have “Their hearts sealed by Allah because they don’t know (the Truth)” – (9:93; 9:86-87; 47:20-23).

It is important to note that these Quranic pronouncements are by no means restricted in time. Of course, they refer to the hypocrites at the time but they contain eternal truths. People who just say that they accept the Message, but don’t really do it from the bottom of their hearts, are not Momin (convinced): “Have you noticed the one who chooses as his god his own lowly drives? He goes astray despite having knowledge (and reason). (Consequently,) Allah seals his ears and heart, and covers his eyes closed. He can’t find guidance anywhere but with Allah” – (45:23). “Say, who can guide the one who thus rejects Allah’s guidance? Such people ignore their future for shot-term benefits, which blind them. That’s how their ears and hearts are sealed” – (16:106-108).

(v) Sura Younis – verse (36:7-10) are conventionally translated thus:

“Allah’s work has come true for many of them. They will never accepts the Call. We have put high collars (of slavery) on them so that their chins are forced up. We have put up barriers in front of, as well as behind, them. We have blinded them by putting a drape over them. Therefore, it doesn’t matter to them whether you warn them or not. They will never accept (the Message).

We have already discussed this verse except the opening part (لقد حق…. لايؤمنون)
which is said to confound readers because it supports the concept of pre-destiny Allah’s Word Comes True (‘they will never accept the Message’). The confusion arises from the basically erroneous concept of compulsion. The words ‘Allah’s word has come true’ should be interpreted as: Allah’s law is that Truth does not reveal itself to those who do not employ knowledge and reason to look for it. That is why these people will not accept the Message. “Confusion comes to the ones who do not use their intellect” – (10:100). Their condition proves that Allah’s law (word) is true. “Surely, warnings can benefit only the one who follows Allah’s advice and is afraid (watchful) of the hitherto unrealized consequences of (man’s wrong action which result according to the Law of Returns of) Allah” – (36:11).

Sura A’raaf: (Conventionally translated) “And We have created a lot of Jinns (1) and Men for Hell! Supports the concept of pre-destiny? No. The rest of the Created for Hell verse clears the confusion: “They possess hearts but don’t use them for thinking, they have eyes but don’t use them to look, they have ears but don’t use them to hear. They are the ones who are like animals, nay, even worse – they are ignorant (and non-caring about the purpose of life) “ – (7:179).

Elsewhere in the Quran: When such people enter Hell, the overseer will inquire as to their crimes. They will respond: “If only we had listened (to Allah’s messengers) or used our brains, we wouldn’t have been among the people of Hell!” – (67:10).

Sura Mohammed: “Don’t they ponder over the Quran? Have their hearts locked themselves shut?” – (47:24). Please note the very important suffix - ها- (of them) with the word - اقفال - (locks) in this verse. It very clearly shows that men seal Their Hearts Lock Themselves their own hearts shut to calls of reason.

Elsewhere, the same idea is put in other words: “When they went crooked, Allah crooked their hearts” (His law of Returns did it) – (61:5; 51:9; 9:127).

Finally, Sura Al-Tatfeef which clarifies the phrase “Allah has sealed their hearts” beyond any shadow of a doubt. It says:

Men’s own deeds act as result “No, it’s not like that! But (the reality is that) their hearts get rusted because of their own deeds! (83:14).

Whoever So wishes, accept and whoever so wishes, reject

One of the basic principles of the Quranic system is: “there is no compulsion in the matter of ‘ad-Deen’ (adopting a philosophy of life) as guidance has been shown very clearly apart from mis-guidance. So, whoever rejects all else, and accepts Allah’s way, will be adhering to a strong support which will never fail him …….” (2:256).

Man’s freedom of choice is not curbed even by Allah himself. The Messenger used to worry about the future of the people and anxiously wanted them to accept. He was told by Allah that He would have created Man bound to natural law like the rest of the universe. But, it was not His plan (مشيئة). So, people cannot be forced into conviction. It is entirely upto them to accept or reject the Message (10:99). “Tell them that your Preserver has sent down the Truth to you. Whoever chooses the right path, shall benefit; whoever chooses the wrong path, shall bear its consequences. You have not been appointed a foreman over them to force them into submission!” (10:108). Every convinced person (مؤمن) should be aware of this fact (that Allah would have created men to willy-nilly follow His path of if it was His plan (مشيئة) – (11:118; 13:31; 16:9; 16:93; 32:13; 42:13). Even the Messenger’s genuine desire for someone to accept the Message doesn’t change the principle of free choice --- (28:56). Allah has given Man free will. Therefore, the Messenger should deliver the Message to people and say: “Whoever so wishes, accept; whoever so wishes, reject” – (18:29). “We created Man, gave him listening and sight, and showed him the way. Now, it is upto men to accept or reject it” – (76:3). “The Quran is a reminder. So, whoever wishes to, may recall (the Truth through it)” – (80:11-12). “We have showed him both the (good and bad) ways. So, whoever so wishes, should take his Preserver’s way” – (73:19; also: 25:57).

Allah gave Man eyes and provided light (the Quran) to see very clearly both the (right and wrong) paths --- “Whoever looks, will have benefits for his own self; whoever (chooses to) be blind, will bear the consequences of that action ---“ (6:105). “And no one shall carry someone’s load – “ (17:15). “No one shall carry someone else’s load; whoever takes the right path, shall have no fear or frustration ---“ (2:38; 20:123). “If you are on the right course, the wrong-doer won’t be able to hurt you. They will only hurt themselves --- “ (5:105).

The polytheist assert that they are what they are due to Allah’s will was responded by: “Allah does not misguide anyone” – (6:149, 150); 16:35,36; 43:20). “They misguide themselves” – (6:141). The fact is that just as Allah doesn’t misguide anyone, He doesn’t force anyone onto the right course against their will (16:37).

Therefore, it is Man who does it. Allah doesn’t force the right or the wrong on anyone. It is entirely Man’s own free choice (من شاء). (18:29)

Sura Nahal a verse which is the final word on the matter. “If Allah had so desired, He would have created all of you as one group; but He misleads or guides whoever wishes so --- and surely you will be held responsible for your deeds!” – (16:93). Obviously, Man has the freedom of choice; hence his accountability. This is precisely the argument presented by Iblees when he denied his responsibility for disobedience: “You (Allah) have misguided me!” – (7:16; 15:39). That is the stance of Devil not Man!

A Review

It is erroneous to take the position that Allah (mis)guides people at will and whimsically. Therefore, one must not take a Quranic verse in isolation to study it. The Quran should be studied under topics --- keeping in view all the verses dealing with a certain subject. Be reminded that: wherever the Quran, in regards to human social system, mentions Allah the doer, it really mean that occurrences take place according to His laws and plan. (مشيئة) For instance, have another look at some verses:

(i) Sura Beni Israel: (17:97-98)

Conventional Translation: “Only he can be guided whom Allah guides; one who is misled by Allah has not hope but He; On the Judgment Day, We shall raise him face down, deaf, dumb and blind. Hell will be the abode for such people. That is their lot because they denied Our signs.

Suggested Interpretation: Whoever accepts the validity of Allah’s laws is guided; whoever refuses to accept them just cannot find the right path (because guidance to the right path is available nowhere else). Such arrogant and ignorant decisions keep men misguided and hence in a state of hell.

(ii) Sura Al-An’aam: (6:39)

Conventional Translation (of a part of the verse) is: “Allah mis-leads whomever He desires, and guides whomever He wishes onto the right path”.

Suggested Interpretation: ‘(Mis) Guidance occurs according to Allah’s law and plan (مشيئة). It is men’s choice to adopt the right or the wrong path”.

The plan (مشيئة) is mentioned in the earlier part of the verse: “Those who deny our Message remain (in the dark because they choose to be) deaf and dumb”.

(iii) Sura Ar-Rome: (30:29)

Conventional Translation: “Who can guide the one misled by Allah?

Suggested Interpretation: (The earlier part of the verse explains it) “These unfair (people) so ignorantly keep following their own animalistic drives. Now, who can guide such people?

Sura Tauba: “It is not befitting for Allah to mislead people after having sent them His guidance for a watchful life” (9:115) “Those who struggle and strive for Us, We guide them to our ways – “ (29:69). This is the established system of the Quran.

Wassalam
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