How to understand the verse "If We had so willed

Details of the Question
How to understand the verse “(That is no more than a vain desire. ) If We had so willed, We would have given every soul its guidance (the route to salvation particular to it); but (many choose unbelief, and) the word from Me has proven true that I would most certainly fill Hell with jinn and humankind, all together. “ ( the Qur’an, as-Sajdah, 32:13) How to understand the verse "If We had so willed, We would have given every soul its guidance but the word from Me has proven true that I would most certainly fill Hell with jinn and humankind, all together. “ ( the Qur’an, as-Sajdah, 32:13)
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The interpretation of the related verse:

“If we had wanted it so, we could have led everyone to the right path. But, this word of Mine will definitely come into reality : ‘ I will fill Hell with some of the jinns and the humans’.” ( the Qur’an, as-Sajdah, 32:13).

Before and after this verse and the verse itself, a scene from the hereafter is portrayed vividly and people are strongly warned for the hereafter: After the deadline of the test, which is the very wisdom in the creation of this world, ends, beginning to believe and feeling remorseful will be of no use. For this reason, before death arrives, everyone must make up their minds and utilize the opportunity granted to them before facing the reality of Allah’s infinite knowledge.

If Allah, the Almighty had willed, He could have definitely got people to follow the right path in their worldly lives. However, He desired to make this life meaningful by making it a place for testing of conscious beings and He informed them whom He held responsible of this wisdom. For this reason, God’s informing that He will fill Hell with some of the jinn and humans bears the meaning of not a sentencing in advance but on the contrary, a reminding of the opportunity they have been granted. In the same way, in the following fourteenth verse, the statement taste the punishment because you acted in oblivious heedlessness of (the appointment I gave you for) this Day” defines that the punishment for the sinners is bound to a reason and this punishment is definitely a reprisal for what they have committed. Moreover, in a number of verses and hadiths, it is stated that a person will not be punished for a sin which he/she has not committed and even sins can be forgiven based on a suitable way of repentance and similar reasons and on the other hand, they will be rewarded for any good deed he/she has committed.

If Allah, he Almighty had willed, He could have kept people away from the factor which is called nafs (soul) and which mostly suggests evil to them and leads them to that destination. He also could have granted it the nature of an angel and brought it to a level which would have become an obedient servant for Him in all aspects. Or with the inspiration of the angels, He could have raised the soul to very supreme levels with the manifestation of His power that way and by making bad desires of the soul ineffective, He could have made man an angel in a sense.

Yes, If Allah had willed so, He would have determined one path for all the humans and that would have been the right path. As a matter of fact, Allah, the Almighty has determined one route for the creatures who find their ways with the help of instincts and inspiration installed in their inborn nature. Insects, birds and other sorts of animals follow only one path during their life times. Creatures like angels do nothing but obey God. Nevertheless, God’s will wants this creature called human to possess a special nature and ability to choose either the right path or the wrong paths, and also He wants him to choose either guidance for the right path or keep away from it if he wants to do so. Allah has provisioned people to carry out their duties they have taken on in the universe thanks to this special nature Allah bestowed on their innateness according to the purpose and the wisdom Allah has installed in the project of all of the beings. For this reason, Allah, the Almighty determined filling Hell with jinn and humans who have chosen deviation and the path that leads to Hell as an unchangeable decree.

Then why did He not create like this; What would have happened, what kind of drawbacks would have occurred?

As already known, divine power is at the level of perfection; that is, it has no limits and an end. For this reason, He is able to do what He wishes. For Him, concepts like difficulty, distress, obstruction etc are out of question. He is clean and free from deficient attributes. However, when He willed to create man in the best appearance and with the best features, He also created things for him in order to get him to know his Creator and to worship Him. Allah created man like neither  angels nor animals, bestowing on him features between these two kinds; He desired man to experience both worldly life and life in the hereafter. Therefore, both of those lives complete each other and one reflects the wisdom and the purpose with the help of the other.


Worldly life is completely a period of action, struggle, working hard and meeting needs. In order to provide them, man is given the soul and emotions like wish, will and desire related to the soul. Yet, books and prophets were sent to help us keep these emotions within legal and acceptable limits.

If man had been created like angels, there would have been no need for the present order; in fact, there would have been no need for man to be created on the earth and this would have been against the divine wisdom.

Because of the reasons and wisdom like these, Allah did not create human as an angel or like an angel but equipped him with both angelic and animal features and placed him in the plan and after that by informing him about the good and the bad and explaining their advantages and disadvantages, He set man free. Therefore, man has been held responsible for whatever he will do in this world and been informed that he will be called to account for his deeds in their second lives ( in the hereafter).

 

And about the divine word in the verse :

The divine word that emerged from Allah, is a decree based on how humans will spend their lives according to present resources and environment, whether they can enter the right path by means of their mind and perception, if they can see the divine seal on things and see the traces of divine art on them and whether they leave the right one and follow evil. Also, this decree is based on whether they are defeated by their will and they will let it control them, and if they will make use of the prophet’s guidance and preaching. As His knowledge will not fail, His decree based on His knowledge will not change.

Here is the meaning of His promising to fill Hell with jinn and humans. Otherwise, it is not that Allah will deliver these two different creatures to Hell regardless of their deeds and inclinations of their wills. So then, in that case, testing and trial would be meaningless, prayers would lack wisdom and good and bad deeds would be but deception. Allah is free from setting such an order.

It is understood from the clear statement of the verse that jinn are also held responsible with divine proposals as humans are. For this reason, Our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is called Rasul ath-Thaqalayn (Prophet of humans and jinn), which shows He is the prophet of humans and jinn and the prophet of this world and the hereafter.

As a matter of fact, in the 56th verse from the surah Adh-Dhariyat, the following is stated :

“I have not created the jinn and humankind but to (know and) worship Me (exclusively).” ( the Qur’an, adh-Dhariyat, 51:56)

So, in that case, from the 13th verse of the surah As-Sajdah, we must conclude the following : Paradise and Hell should not be deemed as  components of symbolic expression but should be understood as information that has been sent down by means of divine inspiration on the life in the hereafter and as truths that make us keep constantly in mind the consciousness of responsibility. ( see Tabari, Razi, Shawkani, Ibn Ashur, Department of Religious Affairs, Celal Yildirim, the interpretation of the related verse).

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