Guidance Is In Allah's Hand
How can we reconcile between the ayat: “Verily, you (O Muhammad) guide not whom you like” [Al-Qasas 28:56] and “And verily, you (O Muhammad) are indeed guiding (mankind) to the Straight Path” [Al-Shura, 42:52]?
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-'ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger.
Allāh has created man and given him reason, undoubtedly as his Khalifah on the earth and He has sent down to him Revelation and sent to him Messengers to call him to the truth and warn him against falsehood. Then He has left him to make his own choice.
“And say: ‘The truth is from your Lord.’ Then whosoever wills, let him believe; and whosoever wills, let him disbelieve” [Al-Kahfi, 18:29]
Allāh commanded His Messenger Muhammad (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to convey the truth to all of mankind which they have the choice to do as they wish. If a person obeys, he benefits himself, and if he disobeys, he harms himself, as Allāh says:
“Say: ‘O you mankind! Now truth (i.e. the Qur’ān and Prophet Muhammad), has come to you from your Lord. So whosoever receives guidance, he does so for the good of his own self; and whosoever goes astray, he does so to his own loss; and I am not (set) over you as a Wakil (disposer of affairs to oblige you for guidance)’”[Yunus, 10:108]
Islam is the religion of the natural state of man (fitrah), the religion of reason and thought. Allāh has distinguished the truth from falsehood. He has enjoined all that is good and forbidden all that is evil. He has permitted good things and forbidden evil things. There is no compulsion in religion because the benefits or harms come back upon the created being, not upon the Creator. Allāh says:
“There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Tāghūt (false gods) and believes in Allāh, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break” [Al-Baqārah, 2:256]
And Allāh says: “Whosoever does righteous good deed, it is for (the benefit of) his own self; and whosoever does evil, it is against his own self. And your Lord is not at all unjust to (His) slaves” [Fussilat 41:46]
Guidance is in the hand of Allāh. If Allāh willed, He could guide all of mankind, for there is nothing that He cannot do on this earth or in the heavens. Nothing happens in His Dominion except that which He wills.
“Say: ‘With Allāh is the perfect proof and argument, (i.e. the Oneness of Allāh, the sending of His Messengers and His Holy Books, to mankind); had He so willed, He would indeed have guided you all’” [Al-An’am, 6:149]
But in His Wisdom, Allāh has created us with the ability to choose, and He has sent down to us guidance and the Criterion. So whoever obeys Allāh and His Messenger will enter Paradise and whoever disobeys Allāh and His Messenger will enter Hell, as Allāh says:
“Verily, proofs have come to you from your Lord, so whosoever sees, will do so for (the good of) his own self, and whosoever blinds himself, will do so to his own harm, and I (Muhammad) am not a watcher over you”[Al-An’am, 6:104]
The Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) has no part in guidance; all that he and the Muslims have to do is to explain and convey the message, and show them guidance but they cannot force people to follow it, as Allāh said to His Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam):
“And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them together. So, will you (O Muhammad) then compel mankind, until they become believers” [Yunus 10:99]
And Allāh says: “And the duty of the Messenger is only to convey (the Message) plainly” [Al-‘Ankabut, 29:18]
Guidance to the truth is in the hand of Allāh alone and no human being has any share in that, as Allāh said to His Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam): “Verily, you (O Muhammad) guide not whom you like, but Allāh guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who are the guided” [Al-Qasas, 28:56]
Allāh guides whomsoever He wills and sends astray whomsoever He wills. He has told us that He guides those who obey Him and turn to Him, as He says: “While as for those who accept guidance, He increases their guidance and bestows on them their piety” [Muhammad, 47:17]
But whoever disobeys Allāh and turns away from Him, Allāh will not guide him, as He says: “Truly, Allāh guides not him who is a liar and a disbeliever” [Al-Zumar, 39:3]
Allāh is Omniscient and knows what has happened and is happening and what is yet to come. Allāh knows the believers and the disbelievers, and what they will do, and He knows what their fate will be in the Hereafter. He has written all that in al-Lawh al-Mahfouz (the Preserved Tablet), as He says: “And all things We have recorded in a Book” [Al-Naba’, 78:29]
Allāh has created man with the ability to choose, and He has created him able to do both, either believer or disbelieve, as He says: “Verily, We showed him the way, whether he be grateful or ungrateful” [Al-Insan, 76:3]
Man has the choice in terms of his reason only; if he loses his reason by which he is able to distinguish between the alternatives of good and evil, truth and falsehood, then he is not accountable. Hence according to Islamic syari’ah, the pen is lifted from the insane person (i.e., he is not accountable) until he recovers his senses, and from the child until he reaches the age of understanding, and from the sleeper until he wakes up. None of these people are accountable until they gain or recover the reason by which they may distinguish between the alternatives of faith and disbelief, truth and falsehood, and so on.
Whatever direction a person takes, there will be reward and punishment, if he obeys, and there will be Paradise: “Indeed he succeeds who purifies his own self (i.e. obeys and performs all that Allāh ordered, by following the true Faith of Islamic Monotheism and by doing righteous good deeds” [Al-Shams, 91:9]
And if he disobeys, there will be Hell: “And indeed he fails who corrupts his own self (i.e. disobeys what Allāh has ordered by rejecting the true Faith of Islamic Monotheism or by following polytheism, or by doing every kind of evil wicked deeds” [Al-Shams, 91:10]
The choice of one of these two ways is something about which a person will be questioned by the Lord of the Worlds. Hence it is clear that faith or disbelief, obedience or disobedience, is the matter of personal choice. Allāh has made reward and punishment dependent upon this choice:
“Whosoever does righteous good deed, it is for (the benefit of) his own self; and whosoever does evil, it is against his own self. And your Lord is not at all unjust to (His) slaves” [Fussilat, 41:46]
Whoever loves Allāh and His Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)and desires good in this world and in the Hereafter, let him enter Islam, and whoever turns away from that and is content with this world and has no interest in the Hereafter and does not submit, and then his abode will be Hell. The individual is the one who will benefit or harm himself. There is no compulsion to choose either. Allāh says: “Verily, this (Verses of the Qur’an) is an admonition, so whosoever wills, let him take a Path to his Lord (Allāh)” [al-Insan, 76:29]
Allāh Almighty Knows best.
Allāh Almighty Knows best.
[See: Usul al-Deen al-Islami by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Tuwaijri]
[Via Islam Online]