What Does It Mean That Allah Guides Whom He Wills And Misguides Whom He Wills?
Here is an example of a very misunderstood verse in the Quran...
And We never sent a messenger save with the language of his folk, that he might make (the message) clear for them. Then Allah sendeth whom He will astray, and guideth whom He will. He is the Mighty, the Wise.
People will tend to argue that Allah misguides people and therefore when the people are misguided they don't have free will and that it is actually Allah's fault for them being misguided and that Allah would be unjust for punishing them.
However, let's read the Quran in context so that we can better understand what this verse is saying. I won't be appealing to any commentaries because once someone reads the Quran in context he could easily understand what the verse is saying.
Say: (It is) the truth from the Lord of you (all). Then whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve. Lo! We have prepared for disbelievers Fire. Its tent encloseth them. If they ask for showers, they will be showered with water like to molten lead which burneth the faces. Calamitous the drink and ill the resting-place!
Say: I ask of you no reward for this, save that whoso will may choose a way unto his Lord.
Lo! This is a Reminder. Let him who will, then, choose a way unto his Lord.
Nay, but verily it is an Admonishment, So let whosoever will pay heed to it,
Here we clearly see that people have a FREE WILL to believe or disbelieve in God and to choose the straight path unto the Lord.
As for those who strive in Us, We surely guide them to Our paths, and lo! Allah is with the good.
Allah is clearly telling us that we need to struggle hard in order to find the path to Him. Allah will only guide those who actually struggle to be guided. If Allah had already predetermined who would go to hell and heaven without giving us free will then it would be useless for Allah to tell us to strive to be good. So here, it is clear that Allah guides those who strive and put an effort and who want to be guided.
If ye are thankless, yet Allah is Independent of you, though He is not pleased with thanklessness for His bondmen; and if ye are thankful He is pleased therewith for you. No laden soul will bear another's load. Then unto your Lord is your return; and He will tell you what ye used to do. Lo! He knoweth what is in the breasts (of men).
Allah is saying that He is not pleased with those who are thankless to Him. It would not make sense for God to misguide those people intentionally without giving them free will so that they can go and do what He does not like.
And Allah hath created the heavens and the earth with truth, and that every soul may be repaid what it hath earned. And they will not be wronged.
God will judge those people according to the deeds that they have done and according to what they earned. They will not be judged unfairly.
So God judging them by what they earned shows that human beings have free will to do evil if they are judged to be evil and therefore it is no one's fault but theirs.
Those who deny Our revelations and the meeting of the Hereafter, their works are fruitless. Are they requited aught save what they used to do? And the folk of Moses, after (he left them), chose a calf (for worship), (made) out of their ornaments, of saffron hue, which gave a lowing sound. Saw they not that it spake not unto them nor guided them to any way ? They chose it, and became wrong-doers.
And whoso bringeth an ill-deed, such will be flung down on their faces in the Fire. Are ye rewarded aught save what ye did ?
Lo! (now) verily ye taste the painful doom - Ye are requited naught save what ye did -
Whoso doeth right, it is for his soul, and whoso doeth wrong, it is against it. And afterward unto your Lord ye will be brought back.
The day when they are thrust with a (disdainful) thrust, into the fire of hell (And it is said unto them): This is the Fire which ye were wont to deny. Is this magic, or do ye not see ? Endure the heat thereof, and whether ye are patient of it or impatient of it is all one for you. Ye are only being paid for what ye used to do. Lo! those who kept their duty dwell in gardens and delight, Happy because of what their Lord hath given them, and (because) their Lord hath warded off from them the torment of hell-fire. (And it is said unto them): Eat and drink in health (as a reward) for what ye used to do,
Again, clearly we see that sinners are punished for what they did. It is their fault and no one else's.
And on the day when He shall gather them together, (when it will seem) as though they had tarried but an hour of the day, recognising one another, those will verily have perished who denied the meeting with Allah and were not guided.
Await they aught say that the angels should come unto them or thy Lord's command should come to pass ? Even so did those before them. Allah wronged them not, but they did wrong themselves, So that the evils of what they did smote them, and that which they used to mock surrounded them.
Whoso doeth right it is for his soul, and whoso doeth wrong it is against it. And thy Lord is not at all a tyrant to His slaves.
Again we see that Allah is not to be held responsible but the sinners are for their own sinful actions that they willingly chose to commit.
So Who Are The People That Are Misguided?
Lo! Allah disdaineth not to coin the similitude even of a gnat. Those who believe know that it is the truth from their Lord; but those who disbelieve say: What doth Allah wish (to teach) by such a similitude ? He misleadeth many thereby, and He guideth many thereby; and He misleadeth thereby only miscreants;
Say: I am forbidden to worship those on whom ye call instead of Allah. Say: I will not follow your desires, for then should I go astray and I should not be of the rightly guided.
If thou obeyedst most of those on earth they would mislead thee far from Allah's way. They follow naught but an opinion, and they do but guess.
A party hath He led aright, while error hath just hold over (another) party, for lo! they choose the devils for protecting supporters instead of Allah and deem that they are rightly guided.
Allah confirmeth those who believe by a firm saying in the life of the world and in the Hereafter, and Allah sendeth wrong-doers astray. And Allah doeth what He will.
Whoso is blind here will be blind in the Hereafter, and yet further from the road.
Against him it is written down that whoever takes him (the devil) for a friend, he shall lead him astray and conduct him to the chastisement of the burning fire.
Or deemest thou that most of them hear or understand ? They are but as the cattle - nay, but they are farther astray ?
And it becometh not a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His messenger have decided an affair (for them), that they should (after that) claim any say in their affair; and whoso is rebellious to Allah and His messenger, he verily goeth astray in error manifest.
And they say: Our Lord! Lo! we obeyed our princes and great men, and they misled us from the Way.
So when they turned away (from the Path of Allah) Allah turned their hearts away (from the Right Path) and Allah guides not the people who are fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah)."
So we see that Allah misguides those wrongdoers who are truly misguided by their own actions that they willingly chose to commit. Allah is omniscient and therefore knows in advance what their FREE WILLED actions will be. Therefore, Allah misguides them. HOWEVER, Allah only misguides those who WILLINGLY commit wrong and have earned to be labeled as disbelievers and go to Hell.
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