The issue of Allah’s guidance in light of the verse 36:V10: “It is the same to them whether you warn them or you don’t warn them, they will not believe”
Written by Asim Nazir
Student of Master in Islamic Studies
Islamic University Qatar
In this verse Allah is explaining to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that it will be same if you warn them (the people of Makkah) or not they will not believe. The phrase “they will not believe” refers that Allah has decreed that they will not accept the message of truth and their destiny has been written by Allah that they will be misguided. This scenario also can be observed in previous verse where Allah is explaining that “I have put a barrier in front of them, and behind them, and I have covered them in darkness so that they cannot see.” Similar description also can be found in various places of the Quran, where Allah is clarifying that He has sealed their hearts and made them blind and deaf so that cannot see and hear, like Quran says, “Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and there is a covering on their eyes.” Also on other place, “They are those upon whose hearts, hearing and sight Allah has stamped a seal. Those are the heedless!”
Literally meaning of guidance is “Advice or information aimed at resolving a problem or difficulty, especially as given by someone in authority.” In Arabic the word for guidance is Hidayah which is derived from the Arabic verb Hada هدى which means to guide, to direct, lead, to show the way.
Concept of Guidance
Islamically guidance means to show or to lead to the right path as following verse of the Quran explains, “…He guides whom He wills to a straight path." We can conclude from this verse and all above mentioned verses that guidance comes from Allah, and He only gives guidance whom He wills. Islamically every human being is born with the natural belief in Allah due to the convenient made between Allah and all human souls in their Pre-Creation stage, this natural belief is called Fitra in Arabic. This means if child is left alone, he will grow up with the awareness of God, but environment affect him directly or indirectly and this pressure forced him to choose particular ideologies as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) reported that Allah said, “I created my servants in the right religion but the devils made them go astray.” In another hadith Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) explained that “Each child is born in a state of Fitra, but his parents make him a Jew or a Christian. It is like the way an animal gives birth to a normal offspring. Have you noticed any (young animal) born mutilated before you mutilate them.”
Allah has created humankind for purpose and sent down guidance in the shape of revelation and Messengers to call them to the truth and warn them against evil. Then He completely left them to make their own choice as Allah explained in the Quran, “And Say, ‘The truth is from your Lord, then whosoever wills, let him believe, and whosoever wills, let him disbelieve.” Which means every human being on this earth has free will to believe in anything because Allah does not force anyone to believe in something, as Allah said, “And If I had willed, indeed I could have given guidance to every person…” On another place Allah explains that “Say: ‘With Allah is the perfect proof and argument (i.e. the Oneness of Allah, the sending of His messengers and His books, to mankind ), had He so willed, He would indeed have guided you all.” Allah has explained this phenomena on many places in the Quran so, if Allah had willed already then the concept of judgment would not make any sense.
So, when human beings choose the wrong path out of their own choice/will and when guidance is brought in front of them in the shape of revelation or Messengers, they should be able to recognize it but if they deny it repeatedly due to their stubbornness or any other factors (i.e. family pressures etc) then Allah put a seal on their hearts, as Allah said, “So when they turned away (from the path of Allah), Allah turned their hearts away (from the right path).” All the verses mentioned in the first paragraph and particular this verse that “It is the same to them whether you warn them or you don’t warn them, they will not believe”are refereeing to this stage where they constantly rejected the message of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUM) due to their stubbornness and then as a punishment Allah sealed their hearts and said, they will not believe you whether you warn them or not, Allah mentioned it in the Quran, “Even if I had sent down to them angels, and the dead had spoken to them, and I had gathered together all of creation before their very eyes, they would not have believed, unless Allah willed, but most of them behave ignorantly.” On another place in the Quran, Allah is clearly stating that this punishment is because of their disbelief, Quran says, “Instead Allah has set a seal upon their hearts because of their disbelief.” And then said, “That is because they believed, then disbelieved, therefore their hearts are sealed, so they would not understand.”
This punishment was decreed from Allah because they rejected the true message of the Prophet (PBUH) and they were persistence in clinging on disbelief. All the aforementioned verses (i.e. Allah put seal on their hearts, Allah make them blind & deaf, Allah put barrier in front of them etc) are in reference to this divine punishment which meant that they cannot find the true faith now, because they have turned away from the right path and have gone astray to the point where there is no return. This was their state which Allah already knew because of His knowledge as being a creator, as He mentioned it in the Quran, “And if I had willed, indeed I could have given guidance to every person, but the word from Me proved true that I would fill hell with Jinn and humankind together.”
It will also be worth mentioning that it does not mean that we should stop warning them because they will not believe. As our beloved Prophet (PBUH) warned them until the last minute even though he had lost hope in their conversion. We should also follow the practice of our Prophet (PBUH) that give them true message again and again because no human being knows whose hearts have been sealed by Allah and whose hearts are still searching for truth.
We can conclude that guidance is from Allah only, we have it in form of revelation and practical life of messenger. Every human being on this earth has free will to choose any path, but after persistently rejecting the true path, as a punishment Allah deprive them of guidance by putting seal on their hearts and making blind or deaf so that they could not recognize it. We also should not stop spreading the true divine message because we don’t know who consider this darkness (disbelieve) as a light and who is searching for true light to illuminate himself.
Quran (2:V7) mentioned in Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, Tafseer Soorah Yaa Seen, IOU TAF201, p.26
Dr. Rohi Baalbaki, Al-Mawarid: A Modern Arabic-English Dictionary, Dar El-Ilm Lilmalayin, 7th Edition 1995, p.1203
Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philip, The Fundamentals of Tawheed, International Islamic Publishing House, Riyadh, English edition 2, 2005. P.65
Ibid [Shahee Muslim (English version), vol 4, p.1488, hadith no 6859]
Ibid [Shahee Bukhari (Arbic –Eng), vol 8, p.389-90, hadith no 597 & Shahee Muslim (English version), vol 4, p.1398, hadith no 6423]
Quran (61:V5) mentioned by Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, Tafseer Soorah Yaa Seen, IOU TAF201, p.22