What is The Aim of the Verse: He Deviates Whomsoever He Likes And Guides Whomsoever He Likes?
Question: The Justice of Allah is a principle of our faith and we believe that Allah does everything on the basis of Justice and equity. Then what is the aim of the 93rd verse of Surah Nahl that: He causes to err whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases, and other such ayats and traditions? If guidance and error is from Allah, how for is it related to divine justice that we should be punished for error and rewarded for being guided?
Answer: Some Qur’anic verses explain others. There are many ayats, which should be studied along with other ayats in order to reach the correct interpretation.
The captioned ayat which mentions error and guidance is also this type. Therefore in order to understand it correctly we have to refer to other ayats that also mention error and guidance.
This ayat says that Allah guides whom He likes. In another ayat, for example in the 26th ayat of Surah Baqarah it said:
He does not cause to err by it (any) except the transgressors.
In addition to this the 34th ayat of Surah Mo-min says:
Thus does Allah cause him to err who is extravagant, a doubter.
These two ayats explain how some people become deprived of the mercy and favors of Allah and how they deviate from the straight path of life and righteousness. Keeping in view these two verses we can understand the meaning of the ayat in question. When we study this ayat with other ayats of the same topic we realize that those who are deprived of divine mercy are none but transgressors, extravagant and unjust people.
Therefore we must keep it in mind that the deprivation of sinful people from Divine mercy is a natural thing. The goodness of every person is related to the fact that he must train all his physical and spiritual capabilities in the proper way. According to literary terminology these capabilities are termed as action.
And the best way of achieving this is to act on the law sent by the Almighty on the Holy Prophet (S) for the humanity. Those who ignore these laws and teachings and fall into sinful deeds. They are deprived from goodness. They do not remain eligible that Allah should bestow His mercy on them and that they should be guided. They lose their eligibility for getting Tawfiq (Divine assistance) and in the previous ayats mention that they are left in error due to their sins.
In the 79th ayat of Surah Nisa this is mentioned in another way. The Almighty Allah says:
“Whatever benefit comes to you, it is from Allah, and whatever misfortune befalls you, it is from yourself…”
In other words this means that the deeds of man himself are responsible for his deviation and deprivation from Divine mercy.
The ayat in question mentions the guidance (He guides whom He pleases) in the same sense. This guidance denotes the same favor and mercy of Allah which are for the righteous servants. These people act upon the heavenly laws and teachings and day by day they increase their ability and eligibility for receiving these bounties and they become more and more deserving of them.
The conclusion of this discussion is that divine guidance means divine assistance (Tawfiq) in good actions and righteousness. And it is only for those who tread the path of truth and those who strive in this way.
“And (as for) those who strive hard for Us. We will most certainly guide them in Our ways.”1
Error means depriving from Tawfiq and the breaking off of the Divine help and this is only for the sinful, the oppressors and the faithless people. Otherwise the Almighty Allah neither guides anyone nor deprives anyone of His guidance without any reason.
- 1. Surah Ankabut 29:69
Philosophy of Islamic Laws:Ayatullah Naser Makarem Shirazi, Ayatullah Jafar Subhani