Yesterday I posted on WhatsApp a famous Arabic phrase which is repeated every week in Friday sermons and on other occasions. The post said: “Man yahdillahu fala mudhillalahu, wa man yudhlillahu fala hadiyalahu. Translation: “Whoever is guided by Allah cannot be led astray by anyone; and whoever is left astray by Allah, no one can guide him”. This phrase can be traced to Chapter 18 Verse 17 of the Holy Quran which reads:
ذَلِكَ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ مَن يَهْدِ اللَّهُ فَهُوَ الْمُهْتَد وَمَن يُضْلِلْ فَلَن تَجِدَ لَهُ وَلِيًّا مُّرْشِدًا
Translation: “…That’s from the signs of Allah. He whom Allah guides is the [rightly] guided, but he whom Allah leaves astray – never will you find for him a protecting guide.” [18:17].
After seeing my post, a friend wrote back to me saying: “If Allah is Rahman (Most Merciful) and Raheem (Most Beneficent) who has sent 124,000 prophets for the guidance of mankind, why should he misguide someone and send him to hell? Is this not a contradiction?”
The question is undoubtedly very telling, especially if you consider that Allah has created man in the best of stature [95:4]. It then throws you back thinking yes why God who loves His servants so much and is always prepared to shower His mercy on them and forgive their sins is saying: “We will reduce (man) to the lowest of the low in Hell” [95:5]. A knock out question, you would say!
The beauty of Quran is that it answers any question that arises in the mind of a believer in regard to Allah’s attributes. So with this firm belief that I should be able to find the answer to this question in the Quran, I came across this verse which perfectly explains how one ends up earning the wrath of God instead of receiving His mercy and kindness. In Surah Al-Zukhruf [Chapter 43] Allah says:
وَمَن يَعْشُ عَن ذِكْرِ الرَّحْمَنِ نُقَيِّضْ لَهُ شَيْطَانًا فَهُوَ لَهُ قَرِينٌ
وَإِنَّهُمْ لَيَصُدُّونَهُمْ عَنِ السَّبِيلِ وَيَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُم مُّهْتَدُون
حَتَّى إِذَا جَاءنَا قَالَ يَا لَيْتَ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكَ بُعْدَ الْمَشْرِقَيْنِ فَبِئْسَ الْقَرِينُ
Translation: “And whoever forgets the remembrance of the Most Merciful, We appoint for him a devil to become his companion. And indeed, the devil averts (him) from (guidance) while (he thinks that he is rightly) guided; until, when (he) comes to Allah (on Judgement Day), he says (to the devil who was his companion in life), ‘Oh, I wish there was between me and you (as much as) distance as is between the east and west – how wretched a companion (he is).” [43:37].
Those persons who refuse to acknowledge the existence of God or obey His commandments, Allah assigns a devil to each one of them as a companion in life. The job of their companion is to misguide them until they meet their final end (death). That appointment, one might say is kind of Allah leading someone astray whom no one can bring to the right path except Allah. There are many instances in Islamic history when the enemies of Islam who were clearly on the wrong path embraced Islam and became strong supporters and practitioners of their newly embraced faith because of Allah’s guidance. This guidance cannot be predicted nor acquired. It comes with one’s own change of heart and decision, and of course with Allah’s help to support their resolve.
A misguided person can be both a non-Muslim or a Muslim if he is a hypocrite or a fasiq, i.e. someone who says he is a Muslim but his deeds are quite the opposite of what a Muslim is commanded to do. A misguided person follows his desires (28:50); he loves doing what he wills and is proud of his bad deeds because Allah makes these attractive in his eyes (35:8); he does not fear Allah (39:23); he refuses to see the Truth because he trusts only his limited knowledge based on what his mind, eyes, ears and heart dictate (45:23); and, he is incapable of seeing the signs of Allah and in fact he questions these when he comes across them but can’t understand them (74:31).
With this explanation, the argument of pre-destination takes a tumble and we go back to the basic premise that the final outcome of our life is essentially a matter of one’s choice.
You choose your path and you are facilitated by Allah in your endeavour. If you ask for success in this world you get success in this world [2:200]. If you want success in the hereafter, you earn greater reward in the hereafter [16:122]. But the best are those who say:
وِمِنْهُم مَّن يَقُولُ رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
Translation: “Our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire!” [2:201].
May Allah always keep us included among His guided servants. Ameen.