Does guidance and misguidance root from Allah or other than Him?


In several verses the Holy Qur’an discusses the guidance and misguidance of mankind. Some of the verses which discuss this subject are Al-Baqarah: 142, Al-Isrā’: 9, Ibrāhīm: 27, Āl-‘Imrān: 69. The matter within these verses seem to be contradicting; some verses explain how guidance and deviation are in Allah’s hands, whereas, others describe them to be from someone other than Allah.

Detailed explanation of the dubiety

Contradicting verses

Verses which show ‘Guide’ to be an attribute of Allah

The following verse explicitly states that Allah is the guide of whom He wishes:

«سَيَقُولُ السُّفَهاءُ مِنَ النَّاسِ ما وَلاَّهُمْ عَنْ قِبْلَتِهِمُ الَّتي‏ كانُوا عَلَيْها قُلْ لِلَّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَ الْمَغْرِبُ يَهْدي مَنْ يَشاءُ إِلى‏ صِراطٍ مُسْتَقيم»

"The foolish among the people will say, ‘What has turned them away from the qiblah they were following?’ Say, ‘To Allah belong the east and the west. He guides whomever He wishes to a straight path.’" [Al-Baqarah: 142]

And below are some resembling verses:

«كانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً واحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرينَ وَ مُنْذِرينَ وَ أَنْزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فيمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فيهِ وَ مَا اخْتَلَفَ فيهِ إِلاَّ الَّذينَ أُوتُوهُ مِنْ بَعْدِ ما جاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّناتُ بَغْياً بَيْنَهُمْ فَهَدَى اللَّهُ الَّذينَ آمَنُوا لِمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِهِ وَ اللَّهُ يَهْدي مَنْ يَشاءُ إِلى‏ صِراطٍ مُسْتَقيمٍ»

"Mankind were a single community; then Allah sent the prophets as bearers of good news and as warners, and He sent down with them the Book with the truth, that it may judge between the people concerning that about which they differed, and none differed in it except those who had been given it, after the manifest proofs had come to them, out of envy among themselves. Then Allah guided those who had faith to the truth of what they differed in, by His will, and Allah guides whomever He wishes to a straight path." [Al-Baqarah: 213]

«لَيْسَ عَلَيْكَ هُداهُمْ وَ لكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدي مَنْ يَشاءُ وَ ما تُنْفِقُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلِأَنْفُسِكُمْ وَ ما تُنْفِقُونَ إِلاَّ ابْتِغاءَ وَجْهِ اللَّهِ وَ ما تُنْفِقُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَ أَنْتُمْ لا تُظْلَمُون»

"It is not up to you to guide them; rather it is Allah who guides whomever He wishes. And whatever wealth you spend, it is for your own benefit, as you do not spend but to seek Allah’s pleasure, and whatever wealth you spend will be repaid to you in full, and you will not be wronged." [Al-Baqarah: 272]

«رَبَّنا لا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنا وَ هَبْ لَنا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ رَحْمَةً إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْوَهَّابُ»

"[They say,] ‘Our Lord! Do not make our hearts swerve after You have guided us, and bestow Your mercy on us. Indeed You are the All-munificent." [Āl-‘Imrān: 8]

«يُريدُ اللَّهُ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَكُمْ وَ يَهْدِيَكُمْ سُنَنَ الَّذينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ وَ يَتُوبَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَ اللَّهُ عَليمٌ حَكيمٌ»

“Allah desires to explain [the laws] to you, and to guide you to the customs of those who were before you, and to turn toward you clemently, and Allah is all-knowing, all-wise.” [Al-Nisā’: 26]

«فَأَمَّا الَّذينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَ اعْتَصَمُوا بِهِ فَسَيُدْخِلُهُمْ في‏ رَحْمَةٍ مِنْهُ وَ فَضْلٍ وَ يَهْديهِمْ إِلَيْهِ صِراطاً مُسْتَقيماً»

"As for those who have faith in Allah, and hold fast to Him, He will admit them to His mercy and grace, and He will guide them on a straight path to Him." [Al-Nisā’: 175]

«يَهْدي بِهِ اللَّهُ مَنِ اتَّبَعَ رِضْوانَهُ سُبُلَ السَّلامِ وَ يُخْرِجُهُمْ مِنَ الظُّلُماتِ إِلَى النُّورِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَ يَهْديهِمْ إِلى‏ صِراطٍ مُسْتَقيمٍ»

"With it Allah guides those who follow [the course of] His pleasure to the ways of peace, and brings them out from darkness into light by His will, and guides them to a straight path." [Al-Mā’idah: 16]

«قُلْ أَ نَدْعُوا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ ما لا يَنْفَعُنا وَ لا يَضُرُّنا وَ نُرَدُّ عَلى‏ أَعْقابِنا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدانَا اللَّهُ كَالَّذِي اسْتَهْوَتْهُ الشَّياطينُ فِي الْأَرْضِ حَيْرانَ لَهُ أَصْحابٌ يَدْعُونَهُ إِلَى الْهُدَى ائْتِنا قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّهِ هُوَ الْهُدى‏ وَ أُمِرْنا لِنُسْلِمَ لِرَبِّ الْعالَمينَ»

"Say, ‘Shall we invoke besides Allah that which can neither benefit us nor harm us, and turn back on our heels after Allah has guided us, like someone seduced by the devils and bewildered on the earth, who has companions that invite him to guidance, [saying,] “Come to us!”?’ Say, ‘Indeed it is the guidance of Allah which is [true] guidance. and we have been commanded to submit to the Lord of all the worlds," [Al-An’ām: 71]

«وَ حاجَّهُ قَوْمُهُ قالَ أَ تُحاجُّونِّي فِي اللَّهِ وَ قَدْ هَدانِ وَ لا أَخافُ ما تُشْرِكُونَ بِهِ إِلاَّ أَنْ يَشاءَ رَبِّي شَيْئاً وَسِعَ رَبِّي كُلَّ شَيْ‏ءٍ عِلْماً أَ فَلا تَتَذَكَّرُونَ»

"His people argued with him. He said, ‘Do you argue with me concerning Allah, while He has guided me for certain? I do not fear what you ascribe to Him as [His] partners, excepting anything that my Lord may wish. My Lord embraces all things in [His] knowledge. Will you not then take admonition?" [Al-An’ām: 80]

«وَ اللَّهُ يَدْعُوا إِلى‏ دارِ السَّلامِ وَ يَهْدي مَنْ يَشاءُ إِلى‏ صِراطٍ مُسْتَقيمٍ»

"Allah invites to the abode of peace, and He guides whomever He wishes to a straight path." [Yūnus: 25]

«قُلْ هَلْ مِنْ شُرَكائِكُمْ مَنْ يَهْدي إِلَى الْحَقِّ قُلِ اللَّهُ يَهْدي لِلْحَقِّ أَ فَمَنْ يَهْدي إِلَى الْحَقِّ أَحَقُّ أَنْ يُتَّبَعَ أَمَّنْ لا يَهِدِّي إِلاَّ أَنْ يُهْدى‏ فَما لَكُمْ كَيْفَ تَحْكُمُونَ»

"Say, ‘Is there anyone among your partners who may guide to the truth? ’Say, ‘Allah guides to the truth. Is He who guides to the truth worthier to be followed, or he who is not guided unless he is shown the way? What is the matter with you? How do you judge?’" [Yūnus: 35]

Verses which implicate that guidance is not directly from Allah

«أَ لَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذي حَاجَّ إِبْراهيمَ في‏ رَبِّهِ أَنْ آتاهُ اللَّهُ الْمُلْكَ إِذْ قالَ إِبْراهيمُ رَبِّيَ الَّذي يُحْيي‏ وَ يُميتُ قالَ أَنَا أُحْيي‏ وَ أُميتُ قالَ إِبْراهيمُ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْتي‏ بِالشَّمْسِ مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ فَأْتِ بِها مِنَ الْمَغْرِبِ فَبُهِتَ الَّذي كَفَرَ وَ اللَّهُ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمينَ»

"Have you not regarded him who argued with Abraham about his Lord, because Allah had given him kingdom? When Abraham said, ‘My Lord is He who gives life and brings death,’ he replied, ‘I [too] give life and bring death.’ Abraham said, ‘Indeed Allah brings the sun from the east; now you bring it from the west.’ There at the faithless one was dumbfounded. And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing lot." [Al-Baqarah: 258]

From the above verse we can understand that Allah often withholds his guidance from certain individuals or groups of people. There are several verses which portray a similar message:

«يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنُوا لا تُبْطِلُوا صَدَقاتِكُمْ بِالْمَنِّ وَ الْأَذى‏ كَالَّذي يُنْفِقُ مالَهُ رِئاءَ النَّاسِ وَ لا يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَ الْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ صَفْوانٍ عَلَيْهِ تُرابٌ فَأَصابَهُ وابِلٌ فَتَرَكَهُ صَلْداً لا يَقْدِرُونَ عَلى‏ شَيْ‏ءٍ مِمَّا كَسَبُوا وَ اللَّهُ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكافِرين»

"O you who have faith! Do not render your charities void by reproaches and affronts, like those who spend their wealth to be seen by people and have no faith in Allah and the Last Day. Their parable is that of a rock covered with soil: a downpour strikes it, leaving it bare. They have no power over anything of what they have earned, and Allah does not guide the faithless lot." [Al-Baqarah: 264]

«كَيْفَ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ قَوْماً كَفَرُوا بَعْدَ إيمانِهِمْ وَ شَهِدُوا أَنَّ الرَّسُولَ حَقٌّ وَ جاءَهُمُ الْبَيِّناتُ وَ اللَّهُ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمينَ»

"How shall Allah guide a people who have disbelieved after their faith and [after] bearing witness that the Apostle is true, and [after] manifest proofs had come to them? Allah does not guide the wrongdoing lot." [Āl-‘Imrān: 86]

«يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنُوا لا تَتَّخِذُوا الْيَهُودَ وَ النَّصارى‏ أَوْلِياءَ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِياءُ بَعْضٍ وَ مَنْ يَتَوَلَّهُمْ مِنْكُمْ فَإِنَّهُ مِنْهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمين»

"O you who have faith! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for allies: they are allies of each other. Any of you who allies with them is indeed one of them. Indeed Allah does not guide the wrongdoing lot." [Al-Mā'idah: 51]

«يا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ ما أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ وَ إِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلْ فَما بَلَّغْتَ رِسالَتَهُ وَ اللَّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكافِرين»

"O Apostle! Communicate that which has been sent down to you from your Lord, and if you do not, you will not have communicated His message, and Allah shall protect you from the people. Indeed Allah does not guide the faithless lot." [Al-Mā'idah: 67]

«ذلِكَ أَدْنى‏ أَنْ يَأْتُوا بِالشَّهادَةِ عَلى‏ وَجْهِها أَوْ يَخافُوا أَنْ تُرَدَّ أَيْمانٌ بَعْدَ أَيْمانِهِمْ وَ اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَ اسْمَعُوا وَ اللَّهُ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفاسِقين»

"That makes it likelier that they give the testimony in its genuine form, or fear that other oaths will be taken after their oaths. Be wary of Allah and listen, and Allah does not guide the transgressing lot." [Al-Mā'idah: 108]

«وَ مِنَ الْإِبِلِ اثْنَيْنِ وَ مِنَ الْبَقَرِ اثْنَيْنِ قُلْ آلذَّكَرَيْنِ حَرَّمَ أَمِ الْأُنْثَيَيْنِ أَمَّا اشْتَمَلَتْ عَلَيْهِ أَرْحامُ الْأُنْثَيَيْنِ أَمْ كُنْتُمْ شُهَداءَ إِذْ وَصَّاكُمُ اللَّهُ بِهذا فَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرى‏ عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِباً لِيُضِلَّ النَّاسَ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمينَ»

"And two of camels and two of oxen. Say, ‘Is it the two males that He has forbidden or the two females, or what is contained in the wombs of the two females? Were you witnesses when Allah enjoined this upon you?’ So who is a greater wrongdoer than him who fabricates a lie against Allah to mislead the people without any knowledge? Indeed Allah does not guide the wrongdoing lot." [Al-An'ām: 144]

«أَ جَعَلْتُمْ سِقايَةَ الْحاجِّ وَ عِمارَةَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرامِ كَمَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَ الْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَ جاهَدَ في‏ سَبيلِ اللَّهِ لا يَسْتَوُونَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَ اللَّهُ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمينَ»

"Do you regard the providing of water to ḥajj (pilgrimage) pilgrims and the maintenance of the Holy Mosque as similar [in worth] to someone who has faith in Allah and [believes in] the Last Day and wages jihād in the way of Allah? They are not equal with Allah, and Allah does not guide the wrongdoing lot." [Al-Tawbah: 19]

«قُلْ إِنْ كانَ آباؤُكُمْ وَ أَبْناؤُكُمْ وَ إِخْوانُكُمْ وَ أَزْواجُكُمْ وَ عَشيرَتُكُمْ وَ أَمْوالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوها وَ تِجارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسادَها وَ مَساكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَها أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَ رَسُولِهِ وَ جِهادٍ في‏ سَبيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُوا حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ اللَّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ وَ اللَّهُ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفاسِقينَ»

"Say, ‘If your fathers and your sons, your brethren, your spouses, and your kinsfolk, the possessions that you have acquired, the business you fear may suffer, and the dwellings you are fond of, are dearer to you than Allah and His Apostle and to waging jihād in His way, then wait until Allah issues His edict, and Allah does not guide the transgressing lot." [Al-Tawbah: 24]

«إِنَّمَا النَّسي‏ءُ زِيادَةٌ فِي الْكُفْرِ يُضَلُّ بِهِ الَّذينَ كَفَرُوا يُحِلُّونَهُ عاماً وَ يُحَرِّمُونَهُ عاماً لِيُواطِؤُا عِدَّةَ ما حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ فَيُحِلُّوا ما حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ زُيِّنَ لَهُمْ سُوءُ أَعْمالِهِمْ وَ اللَّهُ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكافِرينَ»

"Indeed nasī (a pre-Islamic practice of intercalation), is an increase in unfaith, whereby the faithless are led [further] astray. They allow it in one year and forbid it another year, so as to fit in with the number which Allah has made inviolable, thus permitting what Allah has forbidden. Their evil deeds appear to them as decorous, and Allah does not guide the faithless lot." [Al-Tawbah: 37]

«اسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ أَوْ لا تَسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ إِنْ تَسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ سَبْعينَ مَرَّةً فَلَنْ يَغْفِرَ اللَّهُ لَهُمْ ذلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَفَرُوا بِاللَّهِ وَ رَسُولِهِ وَ اللَّهُ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفاسِقين»

"Whether you plead forgiveness for them or do not plead forgiveness for them, even if you plead forgiveness for them seventy times, Allah shall never forgive them because they defied Allah and His Apostle; and Allah does not guide the transgressing lot." [Al-Tawbah: 80]

«أَ فَمَنْ أَسَّسَ بُنْيانَهُ عَلى‏ تَقْوى‏ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَ رِضْوانٍ خَيْرٌ أَمْ مَنْ أَسَّسَ بُنْيانَهُ عَلى‏ شَفا جُرُفٍ هارٍ فَانْهارَ بِهِ في‏ نارِ جَهَنَّمَ وَ اللَّهُ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمينَ»

"Is he who founds his building on God wariness and [the pursuit of Allah’s] pleasure better-off or he who founds his building on the brink of a collapsing bank which collapses with him into the fire of hell? And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing lot." [Al-Tawbah: 109]

There are many more verses which refer to a similar context; explaining that Allah does not guide certain people to His path.

Verses which attribute guidance to other than Allah

«إِنَّ هذَا الْقُرْآنَ يَهْدي لِلَّتي‏ هِيَ أَقْوَمُ وَ يُبَشِّرُ الْمُؤْمِنينَ الَّذينَ يَعْمَلُونَ الصَّالِحاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ أَجْراً كَبيراً»

Indeed this Qurʾān guides to what is most upright, and gives the good news to the faithful who do righteous deeds that there is a great reward for them. [Al-‘Isrā: 9]

In the above mentioned verse, it is the Qur’an itself which is mentioned to be a guidance for mankind. Similarly, several other verses have mentioned that guidance comes from other than Allah; such as the Prophets or the Qur’an. We shall mention some of these verses below:

«وَ جَعَلْناهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنا وَ أَوْحَيْنا إِلَيْهِمْ فِعْلَ الْخَيْراتِ وَ إِقامَ الصَّلاةِ وَ إيتاءَ الزَّكاةِ وَ كانُوا لَنا عابِدين»

"We made them imams, guiding by Our command, and We revealed to them the performance of good deeds, the maintenance of prayers, and the giving of zakāt, and they used to worship Us." [Al-Anbīyā’: 73]

«فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمُ الْحَقُّ مِنْ عِندِنَا قَالُواْ لَوْ لَا اُوتيَ مِثْلَ مَا اُوتيَ مُوسىَ  أَ وَ لَمْ يَكْفُرُواْ بِمَا اُوتيَ مُوسىَ‏ مِن قَبْلُ  قَالُواْ سِحْرَانِ تَظَهَرَا وَ قَالُواْ إِنَّا بِکُلٍّ كَافِرُونَ(48) قُلْ فَأْتُواْ بِكِتَابٍ مِّنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ هُوَ أَهْدَى‏ مِنهُما أَتَّبِعْهُ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ(49)»

"But when there came to them the truth from Us, they said, ‘Why has he not been given the like of what Moses was given?’ Did they not disbelieve what Moses was given before, and said, ‘Two magicians abetting each other,’ and said, ‘Indeed we disbelieve both of them’?", "Say, ‘Then bring some Book from Allah better in guidance than the two so that I may follow it, should you be truthful.’" [Al-Qaṣaṣ: 48-49]

«وَ جَعَلْنا مِنْهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنا لَمَّا صَبَرُوا وَ كانُوا بِآياتِنا يُوقِنُونَ»

"And amongst them We appointed Imams to guide [the people] by Our command, when they had been patient and had conviction in Our signs." [Al-Sajdah: 24]

«وَ يَرَى الَّذينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ الَّذي أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ هُوَ الْحَقَّ وَ يَهْدي إِلى‏ صِراطِ الْعَزيزِ الْحَميد»

"Those who have been given knowledge see that what has been sent down to you from your Lord is the truth and [that] it guides to the path of the All-mighty, the All-laudable." [Saba’: 6]

«وَ قالَ الَّذي آمَنَ يا قَوْمِ اتَّبِعُونِ أَهْدِكُمْ سَبيلَ الرَّشاد»

"And he who had faith said, ‘O my people! Follow me, I will guide you to the way of rectitude." [Al-Ghāfir: 38]

«وَ كَذلِكَ أَوْحَيْنا إِلَيْكَ رُوحاً مِنْ أَمْرِنا ما كُنْتَ تَدْري مَا الْكِتابُ وَ لاَ الْإيمانُ وَ لكِنْ جَعَلْناهُ نُوراً نَهْدي بِهِ مَنْ نَشاءُ مِنْ عِبادِنا وَ إِنَّكَ لَتَهْدي إِلى‏ صِراطٍ مُسْتَقيمٍ»

"Then We revealed to Moses, [saying], ‘Take My servants on a journey by night, for you will be pursued.’" [Al-Shu’rā’: 52]

«قُلْ أُوحِىَ إليَّ أَنَّهُ اسْتَمَعَ نَفَرٌ مِّنَ الجِنِّ فَقَالُواْ إِنَّا سَمِعنا قُرْءَانًا عَجَباً (1) یَهدي إِلىَ الرُّشْدِ فآمَنّا بِهِ  وَ لَن نُّشْرِكَ بِرَبِّنَا أَحَدًا (2)»

"Say, ‘It has been revealed to me that a team of the jinn listened [to the Qurʾān].’and they said, “Indeed we heard a wonderful Qurʾān,", " which guides to rectitude. Hence we have believed in it and we will never ascribe any partner to our Lord." [Al-Jinn: 1-2]

«هَلْ أَتَئكَ حَدِيثُ مُوسىَ(15) إِذْ نَادَئهُ رَبُّهُ بِالْوَادِ المُقَدَّس طُوىً(16) اذْهَبْ إِلىَ‏ فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُ طَغَى‏(17) فَقُلْ هَل لَّكَ إِلىَ أَن تَزَكىَ‏(18) وَ أَهْدِيَكَ إِلىَ‏ رَبِّكَ فَتَخْشىَ‏(19)»

"Did you receive the story of Moses,", "when his Lord called out to him in the holy valley of Ṭuwā?", "[And said,] ‘Go to Pharaoh, for indeed he has rebelled,", "and say, “Would you purify yourself?", "I will guide you to your Lord, that you may fear [Him]?”’" [Al-Nāziʿāt: 15-19]

Many other verses discuss this same subject and from the tafsīr (exegesis) of these verses, we can conclude that guidance roots from besides Allah. A few of these verses are mentioned below:

«قُلْ مَنْ كانَ عَدُوًّا لِجِبْريلَ فَإِنَّهُ نَزَّلَهُ عَلى‏ قَلْبِكَ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ مُصَدِّقاً لِما بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَ هُدىً وَ بُشْرى‏ لِلْمُؤْمِنينَ»

"Say, ‘Whoever is an enemy of Gabriel [should know that] it is he who has brought it down on your heart with the will of Allah, confirming what has been [revealed] before it, and as a guidance and good news to the faithful.’" [Al-Baqarah: 97]

«هذا بَيانٌ لِلنَّاسِ وَ هُدىً وَ مَوْعِظَةٌ لِلْمُتَّقين»

"This is an explanation for mankind, and a guidance and advice for the God wary." [Āl-‘Imrān: 138]

«إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَا التَّوْراةَ فيها هُدىً وَ نُورٌ يَحْكُمُ بِهَا النَّبِيُّونَ الَّذينَ أَسْلَمُوا لِلَّذينَ هادُوا وَ الرَّبَّانِيُّونَ وَ الْأَحْبارُ بِمَا اسْتُحْفِظُوا مِنْ كِتابِ اللَّهِ وَ كانُوا عَلَيْهِ شُهَداءَ فَلا تَخْشَوُا النَّاسَ وَ اخْشَوْنِ وَ لا تَشْتَرُوا بِآياتي‏ ثَمَناً قَليلاً وَ مَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِما أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولئِكَ هُمُ الْكافِرُونَ»

"We sent down the Torah containing guidance and light. The prophets, who had submitted, judged by it for the Jews, and so did the rabbis and the scribes, as they were charged to preserve the Book of Allah and were witnesses to it. So do not fear the people, but fear Me, and do not sell My signs for a paltry gain. Those who do not judge by what Allah has sent down —it is they who are the faithless." [Al-Mā’idah: 44]

«وَ قَفَّيْنا عَلى‏ آثارِهِمْ بِعيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ مُصَدِّقاً لِما بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ التَّوْراةِ وَ آتَيْناهُ الْإِنْجيلَ فيهِ هُدىً وَ نُورٌ وَ مُصَدِّقاً لِما بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ التَّوْراةِ وَ هُدىً وَ مَوْعِظَةً لِلْمُتَّقينَ»

"And We followed them with Jesus son of Mary, to confirm that which was before him of the Torah, and We gave him the Evangel containing guidance and light, confirming what was before it of the Torah, and as guidance and advice for the God wary." [Al-Mā’idah: 46]

«وَ ما قَدَرُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ قَدْرِهِ إِذْ قالُوا ما أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ عَلى‏ بَشَرٍ مِنْ شَيْ‏ءٍ قُلْ مَنْ أَنْزَلَ الْكِتابَ الَّذي جاءَ بِهِ مُوسى‏ نُوراً وَ هُدىً لِلنَّاسِ تَجْعَلُونَهُ قَراطيسَ تُبْدُونَها وَ تُخْفُونَ كَثيراً وَ عُلِّمْتُمْ ما لَمْ تَعْلَمُوا أَنْتُمْ وَ لا آباؤُكُمْ قُلِ اللَّهُ ثُمَّ ذَرْهُمْ في‏ خَوْضِهِمْ يَلْعَبُونَ»

"They did not regard Allah with the regard due to Him when they said, ‘Allah has not sent down anything to any human.’ Say, ‘Who had sent down the Book that was brought by Moses as a light and guidance for the people, which You make into parchments that you display, while you conceal much of it, and [by means of which] you were taught what you did not know, [neither] you nor your fathers?’ Say, ‘Allah!’ Then leave them to play around in their impious gossip." [Al-An’ām: 91]

«وَ لَمَّا سَكَتَ عَنْ مُوسَى الْغَضَبُ أَخَذَ الْأَلْواحَ وَ في‏ نُسْخَتِها هُدىً وَ رَحْمَةٌ لِلَّذينَ هُمْ لِرَبِّهِمْ يَرْهَبُون»

"And when Moses’ indignation abated, he picked up the tablets whose inscriptions contained guidance and mercy for those who are in awe of their Lord." [Al-A’rāf: 154]

Verses which imply that Allah causes misguidance

The following verses describe Allah to be one who misguides mankind:

«يُثَبِّتُ اللَّهُ الَّذينَ آمَنُوا بِالْقَوْلِ الثَّابِتِ فِي الْحَياةِ الدُّنْيا وَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ وَ يُضِلُّ اللَّهُ الظَّالِمينَ وَ يَفْعَلُ اللَّهُ ما يَشاء»

"Allah fortifies those who have faith with an immutable word in the life of this world and in the Hereafter, and Allah leads astray the wrongdoers, and Allah does whatever He wishes." [Ibrāhīm: 27]

«إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يَسْتَحْيي‏ أَنْ يَضْرِبَ مَثَلاً ما بَعُوضَةً فَما فَوْقَها فَأَمَّا الَّذينَ آمَنُوا فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَ أَمَّا الَّذينَ كَفَرُوا فَيَقُولُونَ ما ذا أَرادَ اللَّهُ بِهذا مَثَلاً يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثيراً وَ يَهْدي بِهِ كَثيراً وَ ما يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلاَّ الْفاسِقينَ»

"Indeed Allah is not ashamed to draw a parable whether it is that of a gnat or something above it. As for those who have faith, they know it is the truth from their Lord; and as for the faithless, they say, ‘What did Allah mean by this parable? ‘Thereby He leads many astray, and thereby He guides many; and He leads no one astray thereby except the transgressors" [Al-Baqarah: 26]

«فَما لَكُمْ فِي الْمُنافِقينَ فِئَتَيْنِ وَ اللَّهُ أَرْكَسَهُمْ بِما كَسَبُوا أَ تُريدُونَ أَنْ تَهْدُوا مَنْ أَضَلَّ اللَّهُ وَ مَنْ يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَلَنْ تَجِدَ لَهُ سَبيلا»

"Why should you be two groups concerning the hypocrites, while Allah has made them relapse because of their deeds? Do you desire to guide someone Allah has led astray? Whomever Allah leads astray, you will never find any way for him." [Al-Nisā’: 88]

«مُذَبْذَبينَ بَيْنَ ذلِكَ لا إِلى‏ هؤُلاءِ وَ لا إِلى‏ هؤُلاءِ وَ مَنْ يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَلَنْ تَجِدَ لَهُ سَبيلاً»

"wavering in between: neither with these nor with those. And whomever Allah leads astray, you will never find any way for him." [Al-Nisā’: 143]

«وَ الَّذينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآياتِنا صُمٌّ وَ بُكْمٌ فِي الظُّلُماتِ مَنْ يَشَأِ اللَّهُ يُضْلِلْهُ وَ مَنْ يَشَأْ يَجْعَلْهُ عَلى‏ صِراطٍ مُسْتَقيم»

"Those who deny Our signs are deaf and dumb, in a manifold darkness. Allah leads astray whomever He wishes, and whomever He wishes He puts him on a straight path." [Al-An’ām: 39]

«فَمَنْ يُرِدِ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَهْدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلامِ وَ مَنْ يُرِدْ أَنْ يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقاً حَرَجاً كَأَنَّما يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّماءِ كَذلِكَ يَجْعَلُ اللَّهُ الرِّجْسَ عَلَى الَّذينَ لا يُؤْمِنُونَ»

"Whomever Allah desires to guide, He opens his breast to Islam, and whomever He desires to lead astray, He makes his breast narrow and straitened as if he were climbing to a height. Thus does Allah lay [spiritual] defilement on those who do not have faith." [Al-An’ām: 125]

«وَ اخْتارَ مُوسى‏ قَوْمَهُ سَبْعينَ رَجُلاً لِميقاتِنا فَلَمَّا أَخَذَتْهُمُ الرَّجْفَةُ قالَ رَبِّ لَوْ شِئْتَ أَهْلَكْتَهُمْ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَ إِيَّايَ أَ تُهْلِكُنا بِما فَعَلَ السُّفَهاءُ مِنَّا إِنْ هِيَ إِلاَّ فِتْنَتُكَ تُضِلُّ بِها مَنْ تَشاءُ وَ تَهْدي مَنْ تَشاءُ أَنْتَ وَلِيُّنا فَاغْفِرْ لَنا وَ ارْحَمْنا وَ أَنْتَ خَيْرُ الْغافِرينَ»

"Moses chose seventy men from his people for Our tryst, and when the earthquake seized them, he said, ‘My Lord, had You wished, You would have destroyed them and me before. Will You destroy us because of what the fools amongst us have done? It is only Your test by which You lead astray whomever You wish and guide whomever You wish. You are our master, so forgive us and have mercy on us, for You are the best of those who forgive." [Al-A’rāf: 155]

«مَنْ يَهْدِ اللَّهُ فَهُوَ الْمُهْتَدي وَ مَنْ يُضْلِلْ فَأُولئِكَ هُمُ الْخاسِرُون»

"Whomever Allah guides is rightly guided, and whomever He leads astray —it is they who are the losers." [Al-A’rāf: 178]

«مَنْ يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَلا هادِيَ لَهُ وَ يَذَرُهُمْ في‏ طُغْيانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ»

"Whomever Allah leads astray has no guide, and He leaves them bewildered in their rebellion." [Al-A’rāf: 186]

«وَ يَقُولُ الَّذينَ كَفَرُوا لَوْ لا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِ قُلْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُضِلُّ مَنْ يَشاءُ وَ يَهْدي إِلَيْهِ مَنْ أَنابَ»

"The faithless say, ‘Why has not some sign been sent down to him from his Lord?’ Say, ‘Indeed Allah leads astray whomever He wishes, and guides to Himself those who turn penitently [to Him]" [Al-Ra’d: 27]

«أَ فَمَنْ هُوَ قائِمٌ عَلى‏ كُلِّ نَفْسٍ بِما كَسَبَتْ وَ جَعَلُوا لِلَّهِ شُرَكاءَ قُلْ سَمُّوهُمْ أَمْ تُنَبِّئُونَهُ بِما لا يَعْلَمُ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَمْ بِظاهِرٍ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ بَلْ زُيِّنَ لِلَّذينَ كَفَرُوا مَكْرُهُمْ وَ صُدُّوا عَنِ السَّبيلِ وَ مَنْ يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَما لَهُ مِنْ هادٍ»

"Is He who sustains every soul in spite of what it earns [comparable to the idols]? And yet they ascribe partners to Allah! Say, ‘Name them!’ Will you inform Him of something He does not know about on the earth, or of [what are] mere words? Rather their scheming is presented as decorous to the faithless, and they have been barred from the [right] way; and whomever Allah leads astray, has no guide." [Al-Ra’d: 33]

«وَ ما أَرْسَلْنا مِنْ رَسُولٍ إِلاَّ بِلِسانِ قَوْمِهِ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَهُمْ فَيُضِلُّ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَشاءُ وَ يَهْدي مَنْ يَشاءُ وَ هُوَ الْعَزيزُ الْحَكيمُ»

"We did not send any apostle except with the language of his people, so that he might make [Our messages] clear to them. Then Allah leads astray whomever He wishes, and He guides whomsoever He wishes, and He is the All-mighty, the All-wise." [Ibrāhīm: 4]

Verses which suggest that misguidance is from someone besides Allah

The following verses indicate that others besides Allah cause people to stray off the path; others such as Satan and other misguided individuals:

«وَدَّتْ طائِفَةٌ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتابِ لَوْ يُضِلُّونَكُمْ وَ ما يُضِلُّونَ إِلاَّ أَنْفُسَهُمْ وَ ما يَشْعُرُونَ»

"A group of the People of the Book were eager to lead you astray; yet they lead no one astray except themselves, but they are not aware." [Āl-‘Imrān: 69]

«أَ لَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذينَ يَزْعُمُونَ أَنَّهُمْ آمَنُوا بِما أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَ ما أُنْزِلَ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ يُريدُونَ أَنْ يَتَحاكَمُوا إِلَى الطَّاغُوتِ وَ قَدْ أُمِرُوا أَنْ يَكْفُرُوا بِهِ وَ يُريدُ الشَّيْطانُ أَنْ يُضِلَّهُمْ ضَلالاً بَعيداً»

"Have you not regarded those who claim that they believe in what has been sent down to you, and what was sent down before you? They desire to seek the judgment of the Rebel, though they were commanded to defy it, and Satan desires to lead them astray into far error." [Al-Nisā’: 60]

«وَ لَوْ لا فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكَ وَ رَحْمَتُهُ لَهَمَّتْ طائِفَةٌ مِنْهُمْ أَنْ يُضِلُّوكَ وَ ما يُضِلُّونَ إِلاَّ أَنْفُسَهُمْ وَ ما يَضُرُّونَكَ مِنْ شَيْ‏ءٍ وَ أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتابَ وَ الْحِكْمَةَ وَ عَلَّمَكَ ما لَمْ تَكُنْ تَعْلَمُ وَ كانَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكَ عَظيماً»

"Were it not for Allah’s grace and His mercy on you, a group of them were bent on leading you astray; but they do not mislead anyone except themselves, and they cannot do you any harm. Allah has sent down to you the Book and wisdom, and He has taught you what you did not know, and great is Allah’s grace upon you." [Al-Nisā’: 113]

«إِن يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِهِ إِلَّا إِنَاثًا وَ إِن يَدْعُونَ إِلَّا شَيْطَنًا مَّرِيدًا(117) لَّعَنَهُ اللَّهُ  وَ قَالَ لأتَّخِذَنَّ مِنْ عِبَادِكَ نَصِيبًا مَّفْرُوضًا(118) وَ لَأُضِلَّنَّهُمْ وَ لَأُمَنِّيَنَّهُمْ وَ لَآمُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُبَتِّكُنَّ آذانَ الْأَنْعامِ وَ لَآمُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُغَيِّرُنَّ خَلْقَ اللَّهِ وَ مَنْ يَتَّخِذِ الشَّيْطانَ وَلِيًّا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ فَقَدْ خَسِرَ خُسْراناً مُبيناً(119)»

"They invoke none but females besides Him, and invoke none but a froward Satan,", " whom Allah has cursed, and who said, ‘I will surely take of Your servants a settled share,", " and I will lead them astray and give them [false] hopes, and prompt them to slit the ears of cattle, and I will prompt them to alter Allah’s creation.’ Whoever takes Satan as a guardian instead of Allah has certainly incurred a manifest loss." [Al-Nisā’: 117-119]

«قُلْ يا أَهْلَ الْكِتابِ لا تَغْلُوا في‏ دينِكُمْ غَيْرَ الْحَقِّ وَ لا تَتَّبِعُوا أَهْواءَ قَوْمٍ قَدْ ضَلُّوا مِنْ قَبْلُ وَ أَضَلُّوا كَثيراً وَ ضَلُّوا عَنْ سَواءِ السَّبيلِ»

"Say, ‘O People of the Book! Do not unduly exceed the bounds in your religion and do not follow the fancies of a people who went astray in the past, and led many astray, and [themselves] strayed from the right path.’" [Al-Mā’idah: 77]

«وَ إِنْ تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يُضِلُّوكَ عَنْ سَبيلِ اللَّهِ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلاَّ الظَّنَّ وَ إِنْ هُمْ إِلاَّ يَخْرُصُونَ»

"If you obey most of those on the earth, they will lead you astray from the way of Allah. They follow nothing but conjectures and they do nothing but surmise." [An’ām: 116]

«وَ ما لَكُمْ أَلاَّ تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَ قَدْ فَصَّلَ لَكُمْ ما حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِلاَّ مَا اضْطُرِرْتُمْ إِلَيْهِ وَ إِنَّ كَثيراً لَيُضِلُّونَ بِأَهْوائِهِمْ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُعْتَدينَ»

"Why should you not eat that over which Allah’s Name has been mentioned, while He has already elaborated for you whatever He has forbidden you, excepting what you may be compelled to [eat]? Indeed many mislead [others] by their fancies, without any knowledge. Indeed your Lord knows best the transgressors." [Al-An’ām: 119]

«وَ مِنَ الْإِبِلِ اثْنَيْنِ وَ مِنَ الْبَقَرِ اثْنَيْنِ قُلْ آلذَّكَرَيْنِ حَرَّمَ أَمِ الْأُنْثَيَيْنِ أَمَّا اشْتَمَلَتْ عَلَيْهِ أَرْحامُ الْأُنْثَيَيْنِ أَمْ كُنْتُمْ شُهَداءَ إِذْ وَصَّاكُمُ اللَّهُ بِهذا فَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرى‏ عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِباً لِيُضِلَّ النَّاسَ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمينَ»

"And two of camels and two of oxen. Say, ‘Is it the two males that He has forbidden or the two females, or what is contained in the wombs of the two females? Were you witnesses when Allah enjoined this upon you?’ So who is a greater wrongdoer than him who fabricates a lie against Allah to mislead the people without any knowledge? Indeed Allah does not guide the wrongdoing lot." [Al-An’ām: 144]

«قالَ ادْخُلُوا في‏ أُمَمٍ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ مِنَ الْجِنِّ وَ الْإِنْسِ فِي النَّارِ كُلَّما دَخَلَتْ أُمَّةٌ لَعَنَتْ أُخْتَها حَتَّى إِذَا ادَّارَكُوا فيها جَميعاً قالَتْ أُخْراهُمْ لِأُولاهُمْ رَبَّنا هؤُلاءِ أَضَلُّونا فَآتِهِمْ عَذاباً ضِعْفاً مِنَ النَّارِ قالَ لِكُلٍّ ضِعْفٌ وَ لكِنْ لا تَعْلَمُونَ»

"He will say, ‘Enter, along with the nations who passed before you of jinn and humans, into the Fire!’ Every time that a nation enters [hell], it will curse its sister [nation]. When they all rejoin in it, the last of them will say about the first of them, ‘Our Lord, it was they who led us astray; so give them a double punishment of the Fire.’ He will say, ‘It is double for each [of you], but you do not know.’" [Al-A’rāf: 38]

«وَ قالَ مُوسى‏ رَبَّنا إِنَّكَ آتَيْتَ فِرْعَوْنَ وَ مَلَأَهُ زينَةً وَ أَمْوالاً فِي الْحَياةِ الدُّنْيا رَبَّنا لِيُضِلُّوا عَنْ سَبيلِكَ رَبَّنَا اطْمِسْ عَلى‏ أَمْوالِهِمْ وَ اشْدُدْ عَلى‏ قُلُوبِهِمْ فَلا يُؤْمِنُوا حَتَّى يَرَوُا الْعَذابَ الْأَليمَ»

"Moses said, ‘Our Lord! You have given Pharaoh and his elite glamour and wealth in the life of this world, our Lord, that they may lead [people] astray from Your way! Our Lord! Blot out their wealth and harden their hearts so that they do not believe until they sight the painful punishment.’" [Yūnus: 88]

«وَ جَعَلُوا لِلَّهِ أَنْداداً لِيُضِلُّوا عَنْ سَبيلِهِ قُلْ تَمَتَّعُوا فَإِنَّ مَصيرَكُمْ إِلَى النَّار»

"They have set up equals to Allah, to lead [people] astray from His way. Say, ‘Enjoy [for a while], for indeed your destination is hellfire!’" [Ibrāhīm: 30]

Conclusion of the mentioned verses

In several verses of the Qur’an, such as Al-Baqarah: 142 and Ibrāhīm: 27, Allah has been described as one who guides and misguides certain individuals. However, in several other verses, such as Isrā’: 9 and Āl-‘Imrān: 69, guidance and misguidance has been attributed to other than Allah. These attributes cannot belong to Allah whilst also belonging to someone other than Him. These two sets of verses are at a clear contradiction to one another.

Brief answer

Guidance is of two kinds: helping one along their path, and leading one to their actual destination. Both kinds of guidance, together, can be given to anyone. It is not necessary that only one kind of guidance should be specified or limited to an individual.

On the other hand, leading one astray could have numerous causes and when someone is misguided, many factors would have come into existence until that individual was misguided. Hence, any one of these factors may result in misguidance.

Detailed answer

Before answering the dubiety, we must firstly study the meaning of guidance within the Qur’an. Secondly, we shall study the verses discussing misguidance and answer the questions revolving around them.

A study of the verses concerning guidance

Types of guidance

Guidance is to advise or lead someone [out of a problem or difficulty] [1] An advisor or guide can be of two types:

1-     It can be such that he guides one in a manner that he shows them the path, meaning the guide’s job is such to only point out the path which is unclear for someone.

2-     It can also be such that the guide takes one’s hand and helps him arrive to his actual destination. So in reality, here the guide is not just pointing out the path but is also leading him step by step along his path. [2]

Imagine a traveler has come into the area and wants to head to the City Centre. If this person was to ask the people of that area to direct him, they could direct him in two ways:

1-     They could simply point out the direction in which he should go or draw out a map which he could follow.

2-      They could lead him to his destination, until the City Centre.

With guidance towards perfection and the path of Allah, one can receive the same two kinds of guidance. Sometimes the prophets and righteous people show the path to the public. They would express that the way to Allah and perfection is to believe in such a way of life and follow a certain set of rulings. This would fall into the first category of guidance. Other times however, certain virtuous individuals, who have reached spiritual elevation, set out to guide mankind through their spiritual difficulties so that they can continue on the path of Allah and ultimately reach perfection. And this would fall into the second category.

In response to the contradiction which appears to exist in the verses, and taking into consideration that which has been mentioned above; the meaning of hidāyat (guidance) in the Qur’an can be described to fall under only one of these three hypothetical statements:

1-     Wherever guidance is mentioned, it comes by the meaning to point out the direction or path at which one must travel.

2-     Wherever it is mentioned, it comes by the meaning of leading someone to their destination.

3-     Sometimes, it comes by the first definition and at others it comes by the latter.

A study of the first hypothesis

If we take the first hypothesis to be true, there is no existing contradiction as ‘showing or directing the way’ to another does not need to be specific to a certain individual at one time. However, several guides can perform this task at a single time and it will not imply a contradiction. In reality, it is not such that if one individual directs or guides the way, a second cannot. It is simple to visualize two or more people guiding one person to reach one destination. For example, it is possible that a nation had two guides to correctly guide them to the path towards Allah, whether those guides be prophets or righteous individuals. This is similar to the example of the traveller looking to get to the City Centre; he may ask directions from several different people before he actually arrives at his destination.

A study of the second hypothesis

Similar to the previous hypothesis, the second would also create no contradiction if true. Here the guide, meaning someone who is leading another to his destination, can also be two or more people. The reason being as the guides could be responsible for guiding their specific individual or people. For instance, a God sent guide would be responsible for his own nation whilst another for his own.

Similarly, it is possible that these two actions of guidance have a longitudinal relationship with one another, and therefore attributing it to two separate guides is correct. Having a longitudinal relationship could be compared to an individual using a pen to write on a paper. Here, one can attribute the action of writing to the pen or to the individual using it. In other words, it could be said that the pen wrote on the paper or that the individual wrote on the paper. Furthermore, the writing of the pen is dependent on the execution of the individual and in reality the actual cause of writing is the individual, not the pen; the pen is only a medium through which this action executed. Nevertheless, attributing the action of writing to the pen is also correct. Returning to our discussion of guidance by the meaning of leading one, the actual cause is exclusively Allah and the mention of anyone else is merely implying that there is a medium between the Guide and the guided.

A study of the third hypothesis

Similar to the first two, this hypothesis does not lead to a contradiction. To prove this we will discuss this in three premises:

1-     If the hypothesis is guiding one by directions and guiding another by leading him to his destination, then contradiction is not possible as they are two separate tasks. It is possible that one person is responsible for one task and another person responsible for different task. For instance, a God-sent guide may direct people to the path whilst God himself would lead people to His path and destination. Taking the example of the traveller, he would ask for directions to his destination but at the same time he would like if someone led him there and therefore he would probably resort to a second guide, who may take him to his destination.

2-     Guidance by the meaning of directing two or more individuals is also correct, and needless to say, no contradiction exists.

3-     Similarly, guidance by the meaning of leading two or more people is correct and again no contradiction exists.

Taking these three premises into consideration, if directing people is attributed to an individual and leading them attributed to another, contradiction will not take place.

In conclusion, if we attribute ‘guide’ to several individuals contradiction does not take place, as the meaning of guidance is only bounded to the above three hypothetical statements.

A study of the verses concerning misguidance

Premise: types of misguidance

There exist several factors which may cause an individual to be misled or misguided, some of which are mentioned below:

1-     Beautifying actions: A very common method, in which an individual is misguided, is by being attracted to the sinful action. Shayṭān (Satan) misleads by using this tactic; he attracts man to sin by beautifying it. Man thinks the action he is executing is a good or beautiful one, and as a result the individual is internally attracted to the deed to the extent that he becomes so fond of the deed, that he does not see the reality of what he is doing [3] For example, if an orphan’s property is usurped or stolen, it is clear that such an action is looked down upon and disliked. However, if we look through the eyes of the thief, he will view this action as a great one, as through it he would become free from the chains of poverty whilst gaining many riches and wealth. It is in this way that man is deceived into being misguided; the horrible actions before him are shown to be beautiful.

2-     Allurement: another way in which man is misled is through allurement which essentially means to hide the truth in such a way that it cannot be seen [4] Sometimes Shayṭān by alluring certain individuals is able to misguide and lead them off the path of Allah [5]  For example, an individual commits a crime and the person affected by this crime, instead of resorting to the law and the court; he takes revenge on the individual. Here, the person taking revenge has been misled through allurement.

3-     An external influence: another way in which man can be misled or kept off the path of guidance is if another helps the individual in his wrongful acts [6]  However, this contribution can come in several forms: Often it can be by misleading one by false reasoning, it can also be through playing on the feelings of the individual, and several other methods. For instance, if a television channel feeds its audience false news or philosophies, it has helped those individuals to stray off the path of truth, hence misguided them.

4-     Imitation: another way in which man can be misled is by following or imitating those around him. This sometimes occurs when the people follow a specific leader of a community or group; they take the leader as their role model. By taking him as a role model, if the leader is misguided and makes a mistake, his followers may imitate that same mistake and tread onto the path of misguidance [7]  

5-     Keeping one busy: another factor which can cause misguidance is when someone’s right is taken or kept away in such a way that they are made to keep busy with themselves. So, instead of searching for the rightful path, they are too busy in their own affairs and they don’t notice their position [8] For example, a computer game which does not encourage brain development which in fact causes a deficiency in the brain activity. If an individual was to be exposed to this game and spend his time and hours playing it, we can call it a misguidance on his behalf.

6-     The individual himself: sometimes, the cause of misguidance is no one but the individual himself. He has full control over his actions and is not led to fall into sin or misguidance; rather, he has the ability to choose his path, right or wrong. Taking the above into consideration, we can conclude that as the individual has been misguided but it was his choice, it was he who caused the misguidance itself [9]  For example, when one is led to become angry and wants to take revenge on the person who caused the anger, but still is in a state that he has control over what he does next. This individual has two choices; either calm down and think rationally, or lose control. The point here is that the individual is responsible for making the choice as to how he would react.

7-     Allah: sometimes, Allah himself can be the cause of misguidance in people. However, Allah does not start the chain of consequences which lead to misguidance.  In other words Allah does not decide for this individual to step towards misguidance. Rather, it is the individual himself which, with his complete free will, chooses the path of misguidance to whose response, Allah pushes him further [10]  If one, who has already found the path of Allah, decides to leave that path and choose an incorrect one, Allah pushes him into misguidance.

In reality, misguidance from Allah actually begins with a chain of consequences originating from one or several factors and due to the fact that Allah has blessed mankind with free will, he is susceptible to be misguided. For this reason, we can connect the action of misguidance to Allah as, if man was not to receive free will from Allah, he would not tread off the correct path. According to the above statement, Allah is the actual cause of misguidance and other causes root back to him and without this cause, man would not be led astray.

So from everything mentioned we can conclude that misguidance can root from several factors.

Answering the contradiction of verses concerning misguidance

As mentioned above, many factors lead to the misguidance of mankind. Any of these factors can be attributed to misguidance and hence any of the factors can be labeled the cause or root of misguidance.

For example, in verse Al-Nisā’: 60 in the Qur’an, describes the role played by Shayṭān in misguiding mankind through beautifying sin and by alluring or attracting man toward the sin. In other verses such as Yūnus: 88, it explains how group is misled but through leaders or elders of a community and we can link this back to the second factor, imitation. And again, in the verse Luqmān: 6, it shows how people are misguided through keeping themselves busy fictional stories and these people fall under the category of those misguided through being kept busy.

On the other hand, taking into consideration how sometimes the individual himself plays a huge role in his own misguidance and that he chooses his own path, we can say that man himself caused his misguidance and this is also what is meant in several verses such as  Āl-‘Imrān: 69.

And as mentioned above, Allah also plays a role in misguidance so therefore, Qur’an has attributed this action to Allah (refer to the fourth group of verses mentioned above).

In conclusion, it becomes very clear that attributing this action of misguidance to several individuals does not result in contradiction

Customary example

An attribute can come about through many factors, and this is common amongst us today. For instance, the traffic police states that accidents are caused by the driver’s inattentiveness. But depending on the situation at hand, they could also state that the car’s technical issues are the cause of accidents. In other instances, the fault would be with the road itself. These statements are not in contradiction with one another and in reality each of these causes play their individual roles in causing the accident. Similarly, the Qur’an discusses misguidance in this manner.


  1. Aḥmad, ‘Ibn Faris, Mu’jam Muqāyyis Al-Lughat, Volume 6 (Qom: Maktab Al-A’lām Al-Islāmī, 1983) 42.
  2. Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabā’ī, Tafsīr Al-Mīzān, Volume 1 (Qom: Daftar Intishārāt Islāmī Jāmi’ah Mudarrisayn Ḥawzah ‘Ilmīyyah Qom, 1996) 267- 279.
  3. Ṭabāṭabā’ī, Tafsīr Al-Mīzān, Volume 12, 164.
  4. ‘Ibn Faris, Mu’jam Muqāyyis Al-Lughat, Volume 4, 399.
  5. Ṭabāṭabā’ī, Tafsīr Al-Mīzān, Volume 4, 403.
  6. Ṭabāṭabā’ī, Tafsīr Al-Mīzān, Volume 8, 114.
  7. Ṭabāṭabā’ī, Tafsīr Al-Mīzān, Volume 6, 77- 78.
  8. Ṭabāṭabā’ī, Tafsīr Al-Mīzān, Volume 16, 209- 210.
  9. Ṭabāṭabā’ī, Tafsīr Al-Mīzān, Volume 3, 254- 255.
  10. Ṭabāṭabā’ī, Tafsīr Al-Mīzān, Volume 12, 336- 337.