Clarifying “Allah does not guide the wrong-doers”: Imam al-Sa’di

In a book of assorted benefits from the Qur’an which Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di authored over the course of one Ramadan, he mentioned the following point of clarification on a topic of great importance:

إن قلت : إن الله أخبر في غير موضع أنه لا يهدي القوم الظالمين ، ولا يهدي القوم الفاسقين والقوم الكافرين والمجرمين ء ونحوهم والواقع أنه هدى كثير من الظالمين والفاسقين والقوم الكافرين والمجرمين مع أن قوله صدق وحق، لا يخالفه الواقع أبداً ؟! ـ

If one were to say: Allah has informed us in more than one place that He does not guide the wrongdoing people, nor does he guide those people who cross all limits, nor the disbelieving people, nor the criminal wrongdoers and so on, while the reality is that He has in fact guided many of these wrongdoing people, ruler-breakers, disbelievers and criminals. However Allah’s Word is true and correct, and never is at odds with reality. [So what is the resolution to this issue?!]

فالجواب : أن الذي أخبر أنه لا يهديهم هم الذين حقت عليهم الشقوة وكلمة العذاب، فإنها إذا حقت وتحققت وثبتت ووجبت فإن هذا لا يتغير ولا يتبدل، قال تعالى: (وَكَذَٰلِكَ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّهُمْ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ) [الغافر 6] ، (كَذَٰلِكَ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ فَسَقُوا أَنَّهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ ) [يونس 33] ، ( إِنَّ الَّذِينَ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِمْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ * وَلَوْ جَاءَتْهُمْ كُلُّ آيَةٍ حَتَّىٰ يَرَوُا الْعَذَابَ الْأَلِيمَ) [يونس 96-97]. الذين اقتضت حكمة الله تعالى أنه لا يهديهم لكونهم لا يصلحون للهداية ولا تليق بهم، ( وَلَوْ عَلِمَ اللَّـهُ فِيهِمْ خَيْرًا لَّأَسْمَعَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ أَسْمَعَهُمْ لَتَوَلَّوا وَّهُم مُّعْرِضُونَ) [الأنفال 23] وهم الذين مردوا على أسباب الشقاء ورضوها واختاروها على الهدى . ـ

The response would be that what He has told us is that He does not guide those who are deserving of punishment and ultimate sorrow. So when this is deserved, its causes are enacted, set firmly in place and must take place. In that case there can be no change or alteration. Allah said:

وَكَذَٰلِكَ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّهُمْ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ

And thus has the word of your Lord come into effect upon those who disbelieved, that they are eternal dwellers of the Fire. [40:6]

كَذَٰلِكَ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ فَسَقُوا أَنَّهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

Thus the word of your Lord has come into effect upon those who defiantly disobeyed that they will not believe. [10:33]

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِمْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ * وَلَوْ جَاءَتْهُمْ كُلُّ آيَةٍ حَتَّىٰ يَرَوُا الْعَذَابَ الْأَلِيمَ

Truly! Those, against whom the Word of your Lord has been justified, will not believe * even if every sign should come to them, – until they see the painful torment. [10:96-97]

These are the people whom Allah’s wisdom necessitates that He does not guide due to them not being deserving of guidance nor fit for it.

وَلَوْ عَلِمَ اللَّـهُ فِيهِمْ خَيْرًا لَّأَسْمَعَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ أَسْمَعَهُمْ لَتَوَلَّوا وَّهُم مُّعْرِضُونَ

Had Allah known of any good in them, He would indeed have made them listen, and even if He had made them listen, they would but have turned away, averse (to the truth). [8:23]

And these are the people who turn to the causes of ultimate sorrow and are pleased with them, and choose such things instead of guidance.

وأما من سبقت لهم من الله الحسنى فإلن الله تعالى يهديهم ولو جرى منهم ما جرى فانه تعالى هدى كثيرا من أثمة الكفر المحاربين له ولرسوله وكتبه فصاروا من المهتدين والله عليم حكيم . ـ

But as for those for whom Allah has sent forth goodness, then Allah does indeed guide them despite whatever they may have done. For Allah has guided many of the leaders of disbelief who had previously fought against Allah, His Messenger and His Book but then became guided. And Allah is the All-Knowing, Most Wise.

  فالذين أخبر عنهم أنه لا يهديهم هم الذين حقت عليهم الشقوة، والذين هداهم هم الذين سبقت لهم منه الحسنى . فصار النفي واقعا على شيء  ووقوع الهداية واقع على شيء آخر فلم يحصل تناقض ولله الحمد. ـ

So those whom Allah has informed us that He does not guide are those who are deserving of ultimate sorrow, while those whom He does guide are those for whom He has sent forth good. So this negation [of guidance for the wrongdoers, disbelievers, etc] applies to one category of people while the actual occurrence of guidance applies to another category. So there is no contradiction, and Allah is the One deserving of praise.

[Mawaahib al-Rabbaaniyyah pg. 50-51]

Later in the same work, Imam al-Sa’di followed this point up by writing:

فائدة : وهي في الحقيقة تابعة للايراد السابق في إخبار الله أنه لا يهدي الظالمين والكافرين ونحوهم، مع أنه وقع منه هداية لمن اتصف بذلك الوصف، وجوابه السابق: وهو أن النفي واقع على من حق عليه أنه مجرم من أهل النار، وأن الهداية الحاصلة لمن لم يكن كذلك . ـ

A Benefit: – and in fact this is a follow-up to the previous point regarding Allah’s informing us that He does not guide the wrong-doers, the disbelievers, and so on despite the fact that Allah does grant guidance to some of those who can be characterized by these descriptions. And the answer that we had previously mentioned was that this negation of guidance applies to those whom He has decreed to be criminal sinners of the people of the Hell-fire, while the guidance which does occur goes to those who are not like that.

ثم تبين لي في يومي هذا وتوضح معنى ما زال مشكلا علي حتى وضّحه الله وله الحمد، وهو حل هذه الآية الكريمة: (وَإِذَا وَقَعَ الْقَوْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَخْرَجْنَا لَهُمْ دَابَّةً مِّنَ الْأَرْضِ تُكَلِّمُهُمْ أَنَّ النَّاسَ كَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا لَا يُوقِنُونَ) [النمل 82 ] وانها تقرير للآية التي قبلها فإن الله تعالى قال لرسوله مسليا بعدم إيمان المعاندين، وأن هذا لا يضر الحق شيئا ( إِنَّكَ لَا تُسْمِعُ الْمَوْتَىٰ وَلَا تُسْمِعُ الصُّمَّ الدُّعَاءَ إِذَا وَلَّوْا مُدْبِرِينَ * وَمَا أَنتَ بِهَادِي الْعُمْيِ عَن ضَلَالَتِهِمْ ۖ إِن تُسْمِعُ إِلَّا مَن يُؤْمِنُ بِآيَاتِنَا فَهُم مُّسْلِمُونَ) [النمل 80-81] ـ

Then, today, something became clear to me. It was a meaning which had not ceased to perplex me until Allah clarified it for me, and to Allah belongs the praise! And that is the solution of this noble ayah:

وَإِذَا وَقَعَ الْقَوْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَخْرَجْنَا لَهُمْ دَابَّةً مِّنَ الْأَرْضِ تُكَلِّمُهُمْ أَنَّ النَّاسَ كَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا لَا يُوقِنُونَ

And when the punishment becomes incumbent upon them, We will bring forth a beast from the earth, speaking to them, because the people were not certain of our signs. [27:82]

This ayah acts an affirmation of the ayah that preceded it:

إِنَّكَ لَا تُسْمِعُ الْمَوْتَىٰ وَلَا تُسْمِعُ الصُّمَّ الدُّعَاءَ إِذَا وَلَّوْا مُدْبِرِينَ * وَمَا أَنتَ بِهَادِي الْعُمْيِ عَن ضَلَالَتِهِمْ ۖ إِن تُسْمِعُ إِلَّا مَن يُؤْمِنُ بِآيَاتِنَا فَهُم مُّسْلِمُونَ

Indeed, you cannot make the dead hear, nor can you make the deaf hear the call when they have turned their backs retreating. * And you cannot guide the blind away from their error.  You will only make those who believe in Our verses hear, for they are those who submit. [27:80-81]

for Allah said this to His Messenger as a form of consolation for the lack of belief among the obstinate disbelievers and that this does not harm the truth at all.

فلما بين له أن اجتهاده صلى الله وسلم في هداية الضالين إنما ينتفع به ويسمعه سمع قبول وانقياد (مَن يُؤْمِنُ بِآيَاتِنَا فَهُم مُّسْلِمُونَ) ، وأما الموتى الذين ليس في قلوبهم أدنى حياة لطلب الحق فكما أن صوتك لا تُسمع به الأموات موتا حسيا- فصوتك أيضا في الدعوة والارشاد لا تسمع به موتى القلوب، ولا الصم المعرضون المدبرون عن الحق، ولا الذين صار العمى لهم وصفا، والغي هم نعتا، فهؤلاء هم الذين ختم الله على قلوبهم وسمعهم وأبصارهم، وأولئك هم الغافلون، وهؤلاء هم الذين حق عليهم القول، ـ

So Allah made it clear to His Messenger (ﷺ) that his efforts to guide the misguided people will not benefit them. Those who will benefit and listen with acceptance and compliance are only

 مَن يُؤْمِنُ بِآيَاتِنَا فَهُم مُّسْلِمُونَ

 those who believe in Our verses, for they are those who submit. [27:81]

But as for the dead ones who do not have even the smallest amount of life in their hearts to seek out the truth, then just as your voice will not be heard by those who are physically dead, likewise your voice calling to guidance will not be heard by those whose hearts are dead, nor by those who are deaf towards the truth and reject it, nor by those who have become characterized by blindness and deviation. Those are the ones whose hearts, hearing, and sight Allah has sealed, they are the heedless ones, those for whom punishment is merited.

واذا حق القول على الأشقياء لم تنفعهم الآيات المسمومعة والتذكير، كما لا تنفعهم الآيات التي يصير الإيمان عندها اضطراريا وهي الآيات الكبار التي تكون مقدمة الساعة ، فإنها إذا طلعت الشمس من مغربها (لَا يَنفَعُ نَفْسًا إِيمَانُهَا لَمْ تَكُنْ آمَنَتْ مِن قَبْلُ أَوْ كَسَبَتْ فِي إِيمَانِهَا خَيْرًا) [الأنعام 158] حينئذ حق القول على الأشقياء أنهم لا يزالون على شقائهم، فيخرج لهم دابة من الأرض تكلمهم، وتبين المسلم من الكافر فالقول إذا حُق لا يتغير ولا يتبدل ويحصل اليأس من إيمان الكافرين ولو كانت الآيات أكبر الآيات ـ

So once the punishment is justified for those of ultimate sorrow, they will not benefit from the verses which they hear and are meant to remind them, nor will they benefit from the signs which leave no other option than to believe, i.e. those major signs which will come as a precursor to the Final Hour. For when the sun rises up from the west then

لَا يَنفَعُ نَفْسًا إِيمَانُهَا لَمْ تَكُنْ آمَنَتْ مِن قَبْلُ أَوْ كَسَبَتْ فِي إِيمَانِهَا خَيْرًا

 no soul which had not believed previously or earned good from its faith will benefit from its faith then. [6:158]

When that occurs, Allah’s decree will be enacted that these people of eternal sorrow shall forever be in that miserable state of theirs. Then a beast will come to them from out of the earth, speak to them and distinguish the Muslim from the disbeliever. When Allah’s decree is set it will not be subject to any change or alteration and so all hope of the disbelievers coming to true faith will be given up, even if the greatest signs were to occur.

فالآية تقرر ما قبلها، وتدل على العلة الجامعة، وهي أن من حق عليه القول لو جاءته كل آية لم يؤمن حتى يرى العداب الأليم، والله أعلم. ـ

So this ayah [27:82] is affirming the ayaat that preceded it [27:80-81] and points towards an underlying explanation for these behaviors, which is that even if they were to be shown every single sign, those who merit punishment will not believe until they see the painful torment [c.f. 10:96-97]. And Allah knows best.

[Mawaahib al-Rabbaaniyyah pg. 84-85]

See also: “Except the people of Yunus”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: “We will bring forth a beast out of the earth, speaking to them”: Tafsir al-Sa’di [forthcoming, inshaAllaah]

See also: A Clarification on Warnings in the Qur’an: Imam al-Shinqitee

3 thoughts on “Clarifying “Allah does not guide the wrong-doers”: Imam al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: “Except the people of Yunus”: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: A Clarification on Warnings in the Qur’an: Imam al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Levels of Explanation Needed for the Qur’an: al-Zarkashi | Tulayhah

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