As-Salāmu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wabarakathuhu

May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of God be upon you beautiful people

"Truth has (now) arrived, and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish." [Qur'an 17:81]

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Surah 3 verse 178 explained "God gives respite for more sins"


"Let not the unbelievers think that We prolong their days for their own good. We give them respite only so that they may commit more grievous sins. Shameful punishment awaits them." If there is a chance for unbelievers to return to righteousness, why does Allah say he is "only" allowing them to live so they can "commit more grievous sins." It says nothing about giving the unbelievers a chance to become righteous. If they had a chance to become righteous due to their prolonged days, then this by definition would be for their own good.


First of all to make it clear the translations use the word unbelievers which generally implies anyone who does not believe will be treated in so and so manner. The actual word used in arabic is 'kafir' or 'kafiroon' which means one who covers or conceals, in this case conceals the truth. So the harsh nature of the verses are actually referring to those who intentionally lie and conceal the truth as oppose to those who just generally do not believe.

"Wala yahsabanna allatheena KAFARoo annama numlee lahum khayrun li-anfusihim innamanumlee lahum liyazdadoo ithman walahum AAathabunmuheenun"

This difficulty in language is just due the different structures of arabic and english, like I said before there are multiple words to describe the one word in english

The literal translation of the arabic is:

"And (let not) those who disbelieved think/suppose (E) that We extend in time/life/enjoyment/delay goodness for themselves, but We extend in time/life/enjoyment/delay for them to increase (them in) sin/crime, and for them (is) a despised torture"

A more accurate translation is:

YUSUFALI: Let not the Unbelievers think that our respite to them is good for themselves: We grant them respite that they may grow in their iniquity: But they will have a shameful punishment

Now lets look at the verses before and after 3:178:


YUSUFALI: And the Hypocrites also. These were told: "Come, fight in the way of Allah, or (at least) drive (The foe from your city)." They said: "Had we known how to fight, we should certainly have followed you." They were that day nearer to Unbelief than to Faith, saying with their lips what was not in their hearts but Allah hath full knowledge of all they conceal.


YUSUFALI: (They are) the ones that say, (of their brethren slain), while they themselves sit (at ease): "If only they had listened to us they would not have been slain." Say: "Avert death from your own selves, if ye speak the truth."


YUSUFALI: Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord;


YUSUFALI: They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (Martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve.


YUSUFALI: They glory in the Grace and the bounty from Allah, and in the fact that Allah suffereth not the reward of the Faithful to be lost (in the least).


YUSUFALI: Of those who answered the call of Allah and the Messenger, even after being wounded, those who do right and refrain from wrong have a great reward;-


YUSUFALI: Men said to them: "A great army is gathering against you": And frightened them: But it (only) increased their Faith: They said: "For us Allah sufficeth, and He is the best disposer of affairs."


YUSUFALI: And they returned with Grace and bounty from Allah: no harm ever touched them: For they followed the good pleasure of Allah: And Allah is the Lord of bounties unbounded.


YUSUFALI: It is only the Evil One that suggests to you the fear of his votaries: Be ye not afraid of them, but fear Me, if ye have Faith.


YUSUFALI: Let not those grieve thee who rush headlong into Unbelief: Not the least harm will they do to Allah: Allah's plan is that He will give them no portion in the Hereafter, but a severe punishment.


YUSUFALI: Those who purchase Unbelief at the price of faith,- not the least harm will they do to Allah, but they will have a grievous punishment.


YUSUFALI: Let not the Unbelievers think that our respite to them is good for themselves: We grant them respite that they may grow in their iniquity: But they will have a shameful punishment.


YUSUFALI: Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which ye are now, until He separates what is evil from what is good nor will He disclose to you the secrets of the Unseen. But He chooses of His Messengers (For the purpose) whom He pleases. So believe in Allah. And His messengers: And if ye believe and do right, ye have a reward without measure.

The verse you quote therefore is part of a running commentary on the hypocrites and those who concealed the truth. If you look at it as one isolated verse, it gives the impression that God condemns all unbelievers to hell no matter what they do, but no verse was ever revealed with the intention that it alone would be read. The Quran is revealed as a book and should be looked at as a whole.

It is beyond the principle of Allâh to punish a person or a community immediately after a sin is committed (16:61; 35:45). Under the fair system of justice, it is imperative that all sinners are given adequate opportunity, time and resources to arbitrate their case and nobody should be brought to book unless s/he was given proper hearing in the court of justice. Under the divine system of justice, all sinners are allowed enough time in life so that no person or community can express alibi of not getting an opportunity to rectify and amend. Thus, in the history of a nation it is not unusual to see anarchy and transgression continues unabated and sinners keep on averting divine punishment. God's giving respite to the sinners is not necessarily good for them since they are unable to utilize it in rightful manner. Due to their habitual rejection of truth and routine violation of moral, ethical and spiritual standards, the respite of time only increases their share of sin.

And again it links into the principle that all things are within the knowledge and power of the supreme being, and everything happens with his permission. So even though they do it, the ultimate power and creation of the whole system whereby which sins and good deeds take place is created by the designer, and that is God. The we do this and we do that is simply used to illustrate the power of God and that everything is under his control. It is a literary ploy to emphasise Gods greatness more than a malicious personal vendetta against non believers


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