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Last Updated: 2008/11/23
Summary of question
Why doesn’t Allah (swt) guide the fasiqs (wrongdoers/transgressors)?
Why doesn’t Allah (swt) guide the fasiqs (wrongdoers/transgressors)?
Concise answer

Guidance can be divided into the following types:

1- Existential (takwini) guidance (guidance that has to do with man’s creation), which is the nature embedded in all humans by Allah (swt), causing them to have the tendency to follow tawhid and believe in one God and in other words, it is the initial guidance that Allah (swt) has bestowed upon all. According to Quranic teachings, in the beginning, Allah (swt) gave all people a share of His guidance and grace by firstly giving them this monotheistic nature and secondly, showing them the path to salvation and eternal prosperity through the legislation of Islamic laws.

2- Existential (takwini) “bonus” guidance which exclusively belongs to the believers and the pious and has nothing to do with the disbelievers, transgressors and oppressors.

What the believers have done to deserve this second type of guidance, is that they have preserved the first and primary one that Allah (swt) has granted them, while the disbelievers and transgressors have lost it as a result of their disobedience to Allah (swt) thus ending in them being deprived of the latter.

Detailed Answer

 (الهدایة) derives from the root word (هدی) which means to guide, show and lead.[1] Guidance is a theological and gnostic term which means to lead and show one the right and straight path.[2] Fisq is a moral and fiqhi (jurisprudential) term which literally means to disobey divine law which covers both the kafirs (disbelievers) and Muslims who commit sins; In Islamic law or fiqh, anyone who commits a “great” (kabirah) sin or insists on committing “small” (saghirah) sins (meaning that he/she commits them a lot)nis called a fasiq.[3]

According to what was mentioned, the fasiq individual is one who disobeys divine laws. Allah (swt) is the origin of all guidance and has embedded the nature of monotheism in man, the inner tendency that pulls him towards qualities such as being just, discovering the truth etc. All of those who have a pure intention and have the spirit of submission to Allah (swt) have His guidance. He deprives no one of His grace; even Shaytan who is the leader of all of the misguided and bad-doers of this world, was created with the abovementioned nature, yet was expelled from the mercy of Allah (swt) as a result of refusing to prostrate towards Prophet Adam (pbuh).

In order to answer the question and learn why Allah (swt) does not guide the fasiqs (والله لایهدی القوم الفاسقین) (Allah does not guide the bad-doers)[4], we must first discuss about guidance and its different types.

الهدایة”, meaning guidance, is the opposite of “الضلالة” (misguidance) and is of different types:

1- General guidance that embraces all creatures (general existential guidance) “الذی خلق فسوی و الذی قدر فهدی” “(He) who created and proportioned, who determined and guided”[5].

قال رب الذی اعطی کل شیء خلقه ثم هدی” “He said," Our Lord is He who gave everything its creation (and all the things their creation calls for and necessitates) and then guided”[6].

In this stage, Allah (swt) has endowed all of His creatures with His guidance without any exceptions. This general guidance reaches everyone in two ways; the first having to do with man’s nature (fitrah) meaning that deep down inside, man finds a tendency towards tawhid (monotheism) that draws him towards qualities such as justice etc. “...فطرت الله التی فطر الناس علیها...[7] (the nature in which Allah (swt) has created man with). This existential guidance is a prerequisite to a second general guidance which is referred to as tashri’i (legislative) guidance. This type of guidance calls for Allah (swt) to send the prophets to the people and encourage them to give a positive response to their fitrah’s call to tawhid.

فبعث فیهم رسله، و واتر الیهم انبیاءه، لیستادوهم میثاق فطرته” (…as a result, He [Allah (swt)] sent His messengers to them, and sent His prophets to them one after another in order for them to fulfill the pledge their fitrahs had made (which was to follow tawhid)…”[8]

This type of guidance is also one that encompasses all and in other words, the messengers of Allah (swt) are addressing everyone when inviting to eternal prosperity and salvation on Allah’s (swt) behalf. According to the verse “ان علینا للهدی” (indeed guidance is our responsibility)[9], Allah (swt) announces that the guidance of man is His own duty, the only thing is that people can be divided into two groups; some give a positive answer to His call and guidance and are grateful for it, while others don’t, resulting in their kufr and disbelief: “انا هدیناه السبیل اما شاکراً و اما کفوراً” (Indeed We have guided (shown) him to the straight pathway, be he grateful or ungrateful)[10].

2- Allah’s (swt) special guidance for man (“bonus”existential guidance)

This guidance proceeds general guidance and solely belongs to the pious and believers. Islamic scholars have three viewpoints on why this is so. These three viewpoints can be found in their interpretations of the verse: “ذالک الکتاب لاریب فیه هدی للمتقین” (It is a great book in which there is no doubt in, and is a means of guidance for the pious)[11].

a) One group of scholars believes that the guidance of the Quran is a general and all-embracing one, and the verses that sometimes name the pious and speak of a special guidance that only belongs to them are speaking of the believers who will listen to and make use of them (the verses) and in other words, what the verses are saying is that the only ones who will make true use of them are the pious.[12] According to this viewpoint, general guidance belongs to everyone, yet those who hear it can have one of two reactions regarding it; they can either act as if they haven’t heard anything “و ان تدعوهم الی الهدی لایسمعون…” (and even if you call them to the right path and guidance, they will still not hear)[13], or they can be pious and accept it; this group is the one whom this verse and the like (verses that mention a special guidance that only belongs to the pious) are speaking of.

2- Allamah Tabatabai believes that what is meant by the phrase “a means of guidance” in the abovementioned verse is the “bonus” existential guidance, not the initial legislative guidance. The reason he believes, behind why this guidance belongs to the pious is that they have maintained the nature that has been embedded in them by Allah (swt) since the beginning of their creation through obedience, causing them to be able to receive this bonus guidance.[14]

3- Others believe that Allah’s (swt) special guidance is existential guidance (which here means “taking one to his/her planned destination”) which comes after general Quranic legislative guidance (showing one the way to his/her planned destination) and what is meant by “the pious” are those who have both achieved what their fitrah calls for (which is believing in tawhid), and covered some of “the way” by practicing Quranic teachings. These individuals are then rewarded a “bonus” guidance which is that Allah (swt) helps them the rest of the way by taking them to their destination (in a nutshell, Allah (swt) shows the way [legislative guidance], the individual believes in Allah (swt) and tawhid and practices what Allah (swt) has taught him, thus covering some of the way by himself, then Allah (swt) steps in and rewards him for this effort and “takes his hand” and takes him the rest of the way).[15]

Therefore, what is meant by the verse: “و الله لایهدی القوم الفاسقین …” (and Allah does not guide the fasiq (wrongdoing) lot)[16] is the secondary “bonus” guidance, not the general legislative one because fisq and wrongdoing deprive one of Allah’s (swt) secondary guidance.[17]

Since Allah (swt) has expressed religion for all people and hasn’t deprived anyone of His never-ending grace, His help and guidance solely depends on them accepting it and nothing else.

Clearly, when there are no grounds for receiving guidance and it has no effect on the individual, there is no longer any need to send it and the verse: “و لو علم الله فیهم خیراً لاسمعهم و لو اسمعهم لتولوا و هم معرضون” (Had Allah known any good in them, surely He would have made them hear, and were He to make them hear, surely they would turn away, being disregardful)[18] might be pointing to this same fact.[19]

In addition to this, the verse is also pointing to another matter which is that those who don’t have the necessary grounds for receiving Allah’s (swt) guidance, even if Allah (swt) were to send them guidance it would do them no good and they would still turn away from it.[20]

One more point which must be noted is that many of these verses[21] are speaking of the hypocrites and kafirs in which the Quran refers to as transgressors, disbelievers, sinners, wrongdoers etc. These people are surely deprived of Allah’s (swt) guidance and help as a result of them forgetting and disregarding Allah (swt).[22]

[1] Sihahullughah, vol.6, pg. 2533.

[2] Seyyid Jafar Sajjadi, Farhange Ma’arefe Islami, vol.4, pg.622.

[3] Ibid, pg.446.

[4] Saff:5.

[5] A’la:2-3.

[6] Taha:50.

[7] Rum:30.

[8] Abdulmajid Ma’adbekhah, Khorshide bi Ghoroub (translation of the Nahjul-Balaghah), sermon1.

[9] Leil:2.

[10] Insan:3.

[11] Baqarah:2.

[12] Tabarsi, Majma’ul-Bayan, vol.1, pg.118.

[13] A’raf:198.

[14] Seyyid Mohammad Hosein Tabatabai, Al-Mizan, vol.1, pg.45.

[15] Abdullah Javadi Amoli, Tafsir Tasnim, vol.2, pg.140.

[16] Saff:5.

[17] Seyyid Mohammad Hosein Tabatabai, Al-Mizan, vol.1, pg.72.

[18] Anfal:23.

[19] Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Tafsir Rahanama, vol.6, pg.454.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Verses that say that Allah (swt) does not guide the liars, fasiqs, the profligate etc.

[22] Seyyid Muhsin Mir Bagheri, Simaye Ensane Mukhtar dar Quran, pg. 152.

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