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Monday 23rd of May 2022
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GUIDANCE AND MISGUIDANCE ARE IN THE HANDS OF GOD

GUIDANCE AND MISGUIDANCE ARE IN THE HANDS OF GOD

Ninth Lecture
Guidance and Misguidance are in the Hands of God

1. Kinds of Guidance and Misguidance

Suppose a tourist stopped you to ask you for directions. There are two options available to you to show him the way:

The first option for you is to accompany him to his destination, and then to turn back saying good-bye to him.

The second option for you is to show him the way with gestures and body language.

You have definitely shown him the right way, but there are differences between the two methods. The second method is only “showing the direction” but the first method can be entitled “accompanying one to his destination.” Guidance is described in both ways in the Holy Qur’¡n and in the Islamic traditions.

The word “guidance” has been used in the Holy Qur’¡n with two distinct meanings: sometimes it is “legislative,” i.e., “by way of laws and regulations,” and at other times it is “creative,” (genesis), i.e. through the system of creation, such as the guidance of the sperm towards becoming a whole human being.

In many verses, we read that both guidance and misguidance (going astray) are in God’s hands. No doubt, God shows us the right path because it is He Who has sent both the prophets and the heavenly books, to guide mankind.

However, forcibly accompanying someone to his destination against his will is in fact incompatible with the notion of free will. But since it is God Who provides us with all means for the attainment of our objectives, this sense of guidance, too, comes from God.

A crucial and important question

Now we are faced with a problem. In some of the verses of the Holy Qur’¡n we read:

فَيُضِلُّ اللهُ مَن يَشَاء وَيَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ.

Then Allah makes whom He pleases err and He guides whom He pleases, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. [Qur’¡n 14:4]

Reading verses like this one in isolation and ignoring other verses which interpret such a verse makes some individuals jump to the conclusion that God leads those whom He wants and ignores others, and that there is no option left for mankind.

The important point to consider is that we should read the Qur’¡nic verses in conjunction with each other so that we can arrive at a better grasp of their meaning. Here we will present you with some more verses dealing with the topics of guidance and misguidance (going astray) so that you may read them together and arrive at a better understanding of these verses. At one place we read:

وَيُضِلُّ اللهُ الظَّالِمِينَ.

And Allah causes the unjust to go astray. [Qur’¡n 14:27]

Elsewhere we read:

كَذَلِكَ يُضِلُّ اللَّهُ مَنْ هُوَ مُسْرِفٌ مُّرْتَابٌ.

Thus does Allah cause him to err who is extravagant, a doubter. [Qur’¡n 40: 34]

And still at some other place, we read:

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا.

And as for those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways. [Qur’¡n 29:69]

As you see, God’s Determination and Benevolence are well-founded. He will neither guide nor misguide people without the proper considerations.

God has promised to endow with guidance those who take part in holy struggle for Him, those who struggle against their enemies and those who endeavor against their inner selves.

But those who undermine the foundations of justice, those who are involved in extravagance, those who implant temptation in the hearts of others, they will be denied God’s guidance. In this way, their hearts shall become dark and they lose the chance to prosper. This is what we mean by” God letting people go astray” and this is justice.

God’s Eternal Knowledge an Excuse for Justifying Crime:

The last point related to the issue of the determinism/free will controversy is the excuse that some proponents of determinism use to justify the sins they commit. The structure of the argument is as follows: Did God know that a certain person would commit a crime or would drink wine? If one answers negatively, they would have denied God’s knowledge. If one answers positively, then this would be taken to mean that that person should have done that crime or else God’s knowledge would have been negated.

Therefore, in order to maintain God’s knowledge, sinners have to commit their sins.

But those who are involved in rationalizations of this sort in order to hide their criminal tendencies are in fact ignoring one important point and that point is the following: We said from the beginning that God is aware of the fact that we are free either to obey or to disobey Him. This means that God’s knowledge includes his knowledge of our freedom of action. Therefore, if we were forced by our fate to carry out some pernicious act then this would mean that God’s knowledge is changed into Ignorance.

Let us now provide you with some concrete and tangible examples: Suppose a high school teacher knew from the outset that a lazy student would fail the final exams. And suppose that this teacher was certain in his knowledge.

Now if the student failed the exam, could he blame his own failure on the teacher’s knowledge that he would fail?

Let us give you another example: Suppose an innocent person became aware of the time of the occurrence of a crime and found it advisable to interfere. Does this innocent person’s knowledge exonerate the murderer of his crime?

Suppose, as well, that an annotative apparatus was in use which could anticipate the timing of a crime prior to its occurrence by a certain person. Do these mechanical means force the criminal to commit the crime?

In sum, God’s knowledge would never force anybody to carry out a wrong action.


THINK AND ANSWER

How many kinds of guidance are there? Describe them.

Give some of the Qur’¡nic verses which deal with guidance or misguidance.

How would you define God’s guidance or misguidance?

What is meant by God’s eternal knowledge?

Does this eternal knowledge exonerate us from doing our tasks? Give an example.


Tenth Lecture
God’s Justice and Eternal Chastisement (khuld)

We know that the Holy Qur’¡n explicitly speaks about a special kind of permanent and eternal chastisement called khul£d relating to a specific group of infidels and sinners. In one S£rah we read:

وَعَدَ الله الْمُنَافِقِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتِ وَالْكُفَّارَ نَارَ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا.

Allah has promised the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women and the unbelievers the fire of hell to abide therein. [Qur’¡n 9:68]

The question is raised here as to why a person should undergo the chastisement of millions of years when he has lived on earth only eighty years or one hundred years at most.

The Answer: In order to settle this important question, we have to take the following points into consideration:

The punishments and chastisements of the afterlife are in no way similar to those that a person receives in this world, for instance, confinement in prison. Rather, the punishments of the afterlife are the direct consequence of one’s deeds in this world.

In other words, the pain and suffering sinners go through in the other world are the consequences of their actions and deeds in this world.

Regarding this latter point, the Holy Qur’¡n states very clearly:

فَالْيَوْمَ لَا تُظْلَمُ نَفْسٌ شَيْئاً وَلَا تُجْزَوْنَ إِلَّا مَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ.

So this day no soul shall be dealt with unjustly in the least; and you shall not be rewarded aught but that which you did. [Qur’¡n 36:54]

Through a simple example, we may visualize this fact:

Suppose a person resorted to narcotics or alcoholic beverages and suppose he was repeatedly warned against the destructive effects of these items on his stomach, heart, and nervous system. However, imagine he ignored these warnings and continued with his destructive deeds. He would enjoy the temporary satisfaction that these items provided him. However, later on he would be inflicted with ulcers, heart disease and possibly a nervous breakdown. Then, he would have to suffer day and night for the rest of his life. Could we now conclude that this individual should not suffer all his life because he enjoyed the narcotics and wine only for a relatively short period of time?

We would immediately reply that he is facing the consequences of his own deeds. Even if he lived as long as Noah, we would still react with the same remark. We would say he is receiving the consequences of his actions.

The punishments of the day of Resurrection are of this kind. Therefore, it is not related to the issue of justice.

It is an error to imagine that the duration of punishment should be the same as the duration of time spent in self-destructive acts. This is because the relation of a sinful act to the punishment is not based on time; rather, it is based on the consequences of the sin committed.

For instance, it might take a murderer only a minute to kill a person, but, in accordance with the criminal laws of some communities, he might be punished with execution. The duration of the sin was very short but the consequence is very heavy and nobody would consider this punishment as an act of injustice. It is because under such circumstances it is not the matter of minutes, hours, months or years; rather, it is the quality of the sin and its consequences that count.

Perpetuality or “khul£d” in Hell and eternal chastisement belong to those who have closed all the windows of salvation on themselves and have knowingly became involved in corruption, unbelief and hypocrisy. Regarding this, the Holy Qur’¡n has an elegant statement:

بَلَى مَن كَسَبَ سَيِّئَةً وَأَحَاطَتْ بِهِ خَطِيئَتُهُ فَأُوْلَئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ.

Verily, whoever earns evil and his sins beset him on every side, these are the inmates of the fire; in it they shall abide. [Qur’¡n 2:81]

Such people have disconnected themselves from God and have closed on themselves all the windows of salvation.

Such individuals resemble a bird which has knowingly broken all its wings and has to stay on the earth and has been deprived of its flight into the skies.

A cursory look at the above three points will vividly show that the application of eternal punishment for the special group of hypocrites and infidels is not against the principles of justice. What they receive as punishment is nothing more than the consequences of their previous deeds, of which they had already been warned by the prophets.

These kinds of people would not have received such harsh punishments if they had been ignorant of the prophets’ instructions and guidance.

It is also worth mentioning that based on the Qur’¡nic verses and Islamic traditions; God’s Benevolence is so wide that it embraces a great majority of sinners through one of the following means:

Through intercession [Shafa’at];

Through pardoning;

Through the performance of minor good deeds for which God provides them with large rewards;

And finally, a group of sinners who have be come purified after their confinement in Hell and are ready to receive God’s mercy.

There is only one group of sinners left in perpetual punishment due to their obstinacy and their insistence on continuing in their enmity with righteousness and because of their indulgence in injustice, corruption and hypocrisy.


THINK AND ANSWER

How is it that some people have considered “khul£d” or perpetual chastisement as not harmonious with God’s justice?

Are the chastisements of the other world similar to those of this world? If not, how are they?

Does justice imply that the timing of a sin should be equal to the period of punishment?

What kind of people receive perpetual chastisement?

Who will receive God’s pardon?

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