God is not pleased with misguidance:
He does not approve for His servants disbelief (Quran 39:7).
Instead, He has made faith beloved:
He has endeared to you the faith (Quran 49:7).
Yet, He chooses to misguide whom He wishes. Why would God, the Most Merciful, misguide people if He didn’t like misguidance? Why would He misguide them, then take them into account for their deeds in the hereafter? God has given human beings many opportunities to recognize guidance. Here are some:
The Quran documents a meeting between the Creator and the human race. In this meeting, humans bore witness to their Creator:
And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, we have testified.” [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, “Indeed, we were of this unaware.” (Quran 7:172)
This monumental meeting showcased our souls’ innate recognition of the Creator, the “fitrah”, or spiritual DNA. While we do not have any recollections of this meeting, the spiritual DNA makes us aware of an omnipotent being’s existence or a “higher power”.
Since humans have been granted freewill, a person can either choose to neglect the “fitrah” or respond to it. A person who chooses to neglect the “fitrah” or hide it is called a kafir. The word kafir literally means one who covers something. In the Quran, the word kuffar (plural of kafir) is also used for farmers because they cover up seeds with the earth:
…like the example of a rain whose plant growth pleases the farmers (kuffar) (Quran 57:20)
God created humans with intellectual faculties for thought and reason. The feeling of an omnipotent being’s existence propels one into thought. Were we created by nothing? Who created the heavens and the earth? These thought-based questions lead one to explore the universe, to understand the purpose of existence.
Our surroundings are filled with signs that lead us to confirm intellectually, and not just based on a spiritual-DNA feeling, that there is an eternal Creator.
Every effect must have a cause. The origins of the universe, therefore, must have a cause, and it should be an eternal cause, otherwise, there would be an infinite regress. In addition, our universe has low entropy, high order, laws, and constants which all indicate that our universe was designed with knowledge. It would be a leap of faith to believe the universe came about by accident.
Some people may not be convinced that the signs surrounding them indicate that there’s a Creator. Some may claim that they do not feel or recognize any spiritual DNA.
To resolve this, God sent direct revelations introducing Himself and outlining guidance for humankind. Each revelation encouraged its analysis and challenged the idea that it was man-made or false.
Prophets and Messengers
Communities that received revelation had people who would claim that they did not understand the message. God sent Prophets and Messengers to accompany these revelations so they would explain it and clarify any ambiguities.
These Prophets and Messengers also served as a practical model for how the revelation was to be implemented.
With all these opportunities for guidance, why would God misguide anyone? God has created causes and their effects in this life for the physical and spiritual world. He has made gravity a force that causes attraction, not repulsion.
The spiritual world also comes with its set of laws. A person is misguided if they continue to embark on the causes of misguidance.
What are those causes?
Remaining objective leads one to be guided. Turning away from apparent truths due to bias, pride, prejudice, or any other factor makes one a candidate for misguidance. The polytheists requested from God to make the outcome of the Battle of Badr a judgment for who is on the right side (the battle was against the Prophet Muhammad and his companions).
After losing the battle, the following was revealed for the polytheists:
If you seek a decision – then the decision has come to you. And if you desist [from hostilities], it is best for you; but if you return [to war], We will return, and never will you be availed by your [large] company at all, even if it should increase; and [that is] because Allah is with the believers. (Quran 8:19)
The polytheists, however, refused to accept their loss as a decision on who is on the right side. Instead, they fueled the flames of revenge which lead to the Battle of Uhud. It is after these verses, the Quran stated verses that mandated accepting truths without prejudice:
And do not be like those who say, “We have heard,” while they do not hear. (Quran 8:21).
The text then calls those who pretend not to hear as “deaf” and describes them as neglecting reason:
Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are the deaf and dumb who do not use reason. (Quran 8:22)
The next verse then describes the effect of neglecting reason and objectivity:
Had Allah known any good in them, He would have made them understand. (Quran 8:23)
The submission to bias and the aversion to apparent truths had caused the polytheists to not understand anymore. Even if God caused them to understand, it would not benefit them because they would turn away from evident truths.
And if He had made them understand, they would [still] have turned away, while they were refusing. (Quran 8:23)
Regarding the people of Thamud, God said:
…but they preferred blindness over guidance (Quran 41:17).
The continued preference of bias over objective truths had caused hearts to be sealed, disabling their ability to understand or become guided.
If God were not to misguide such people, it would be an act of injustice. Guiding such people would mean that God would force them to believe when they did not want to.
The Divine compulsive action would contradict the nature of this life, which is a test for humankind that is to be performed with free will. The Quran repeatedly quotes the confessions of those about to enter the Hellfire. Each confession indicates that the person recognized the truth but decided to turn away from it:
Every time a company is thrown into it (the hellfire), its keepers ask them, “Did there not come to you a warner? They will say, “Yes, a warner had come to us, but we denied and said, ‘ Allah has not sent down anything. You are not but in great error.’ And they will say, “If only we had been listening or reasoning, we would not be among the companions of the Blaze. And they will admit their sin, so [it is] alienation for the companions of the Blaze. (Quran 67:8-11)
It is specifically about these people who intentionally continue to cover the truth and their “fitrah” after recognizing them does the Quran say about them:
Indeed, those who disbelieve – it is all the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them – they will not believe. (Quran 2:6)
God prefers humankind to be guided. He has placed many opportunities for humans to receive and recognize guidance.
Humankind’s action towards guidance has consequences. If a person takes a hand’s length towards guidance, God comes towards him an arm’s length. If a person continues to cover and deny evident truths knowingly, God seals their hearts which causes them to be misguided.
And who is more unjust than one who is reminded of the signs of his Lord but turns away from them and forgets what his hands have put forth? Indeed, We have placed over their hearts coverings, lest they understand it, and in their ears deafness. And if you invite them to guidance – they will never be guided, then – ever. (Quran 18:57)
(From Discovering Islam archive)