Will Allah throw people into Hell for nothing? How should we understand the following verse: "If We had so willed, We could certainly have brought every soul its true guidance: but the Word from Me will come true, ..." (as-Sajda, 32/13)?

The Details of the Question

Will Allah throw people into Hell for nothing?  How should we understand the following verse: "If We had so willed, We could certainly have brought every soul its true guidance: but the Word from Me will come true, ‘I will fill Hell with Jinn and men all together!’" (as-Sajda, 32/13)?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The answer to your question about verse 13 of the chapter of as-Sajda is given clearly in the verses that follow. If we read verse 14 of the same chapter, which comes immediately after verse 13, we will see that the Creator does not punish people “for nothing” as you put it.

“Taste ye then - for ye forgot the Meeting of this Day of yours, and We too will forget you - taste ye the Penalty of Eternity for your (evil) deeds.” (as-Sajda, 32/14)

The following statements mentioned in verses 18-20 of the chapter of as-Sajda indicate that the only reason why man goes to Hell is the deeds that he prefers to do with his own will and that he forgets Allah by deviating from the true path:

“Is then the man who believes no better than the man who is rebellious and wicked? Not equal are they.”

First of all, we should state that it is not a reasonable, scientific and well-meant method but a useless effort to try to understand a sacred text by isolating the verses of the Quran from their context and the message given by the basic principles expressed in the Quran and by disconnecting them from the other verses. As a matter of fact, if you had not made that mistake, you would not have overlooked that the Creator states the following in many verses of the Quran:

“That man can have nothing but what he strives for; he will be held responsible for what he does with his partial free will.”

On the other hand, even if we deal with that verse by isolating it from its context and its relationship with the other verses regarding the issue, will see the following:

We see that in some verses in the Quran, Allah Almighty uses a style: “to indicate the effect without showing the causes”; this style is valid in this verse too. There are many wisdoms behind the use of this principle. Let us have a brief look at how and why “the effect is emphasized without indicating the causes” in this verse: the verse tells us the following:

“If We had wanted all of the creatures to attain guidance, we would have done it but it is contrary to our wisdom. For, we want them to believe using their own will, not through forcing and pressure. However, our promise related to punishing the sinners and the following threat were realized: I will fill Hell with disobedient Jinn and men.” (Muhammed Ali as-Sabuni, Safwatut-Tafasir; the interpretation of the verse in question)

That is, in several verses before and after verse 13 of the chapter of as-Sajdah, the reasons for man’s deserving penalty are mentioned but in this verse, the effect is emphasized without mentioning the causes. For, the first purpose of the verse is to show the Prophet (pbuh) and other people that men will not attain guidance just because they want and that only Allah can make them attain guidance. Besides, both the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and other believers are warned not to destroy them with sorrow because people do not want guidance; they are reminded that Allah knows pre-eternally who will remain as believers and who as unbelievers. This fact is expressed as follows: “I will fill Hell with some of them.”

We should also remind this: That Allah knows what will happen in the future, who will attain guidance and who will deviate from the right path does not mean that He will affect people’s partial free will.

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