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Asking People to Repent and Postponing Judgment till the Day of Resurrection

Asking People to Repent and Postponing Judgment till the Day of Resurrection

Written by Ahmed Subhy Mansour

Edited by Ahmed fathy


  Is it acceptable that a human being demand from another person or any group of people to repent under threat of being punished or under duress, otherwise known in Arabic as the Sunnite term ''estetaba''? The term 'repent' and its derivatives are mentioned in the Quran 87 times, the word estetaba (i.e., in Arabic: asking someone to repent) is never mentioned. Repentance is a special relationship between human beings and God, and no human being, not even Prophet Muhammad himself, may interfere between human beings and God in matters of repentance. Whoever makes himself or herself a mediator, as far as repentance is concerned, and demands from people to repent has clearly misunderstood Islam. We ask this person to provide us with the proxy or authorization he/she has obtained from God to receive people's repentance  or to demand from others to repent on His behalf. In the Quran, repentance is fully explained in detail, with no room for any additions. We provide below some of those verses concerning that topic.

1- In matters of faith and the secrets of the hearts which no one knows but God, repentance is to God alone. God commanded Muhammad to announce the following: "Say: "He is my Lord; there is no God save Him. In Him I put my trust and unto Him is my recourse" (13:30). This means that to Him alone we direct our repentance, and in Him alone we trust and believe. This is what Muhammad has said and what every believer should say as he/she repents and returns to God alone.

2- Because Muhammad was a human being who did not know the secrets of the hearts, and because God alone knows what the hidden looks from eyes and what is hidden in human chests, repentance should be directed to God alone: "But the one who repents after his wrongdoing and make amends, Allah will accepts his repentance. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful" (5:39). Who could know the truthfulness of such repentance but He alone who knows the unknown?

3- Because repentance concerns God alone, one of His Holy Epithets is that he is the Forgiver. This is repeated eleven times throughout the Quranic text. Because repentance is only to God and no one may join Him in accepting it, it is closely related to His will, as we read in the Quran: "…Allah accepts the repentance of whom He wills…" (9:15). "That Allah may reward the true people for their truth, and punish the hypocrites if He will, or accept their repentance if He wills…" (33:24). No human being is therefore allowed to interfere in God's will and make someone repent or punish someone for not repenting.

4- All people are equal in the field of imploring God the Merciful for accepting their repentance and attaining His pardon, whether they are ordinary people or prophets, even hypocrites and wrongdoers. God says about Abraham and Ishmael that they lifted the foundation of the Holy House while pray to God saying the following: "Our Lord! And make us submissive unto You and of our seed a nation submissive unto You, and show us our ways of worship and accepts our repentance. For only You Who are the Acceptor of Repentance, the Merciful" (2:128). God says the following about Muhammad concerning the Immigrants (the Muhajirin) and the Supporters (the Ansar) during the battle of Zat al Asra: "Allah hath turned in mercy to the Prophet, and to the Muhajirin and the Ansar who followed him in the hour of hardship. After the hearts of a party of them had almost swerved aside, then He pardoned them. He is Full of Pity, Merciful for them" (9:117). Hence, mercy and accepting repentance are confined to God alone, for He alone knows people's hearts and knows the truthfulness of their repentance. Asking others to repent therefore is a divine command in the Quran, so how are some people  reserve to themselves the right to issue commands in religion like God? They are indeed playing the role of God; shame on them.

Postponing judgment till the Day of Resurrection:

  The Quranic sharia (i.e., jurisprudence) does not give human beings the right to judge others concerning their beliefs. It clearly tells us about postponement of judgment till the Day of Resurrection. God's will ordained to create people who have different opinions, beliefs and trends, except for those who abide by the Divine Book. "And if your Lord had willed, He verily would have made humankind one nation, yet they cease not differing" (11:118). The history of humankind is a series of nonstop differences among religions and their adherents, within each religion and within every sect. Jews and Christians differ, and each claim to have the sole absolute truth while the other party is wholly in the wrong. God will judge among them and settle their differences during the Day of Judgment: "…Allah will judge among them during the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they differ" (2:113). There are still differences among Jews even after the Torah revelation was finished, so God has said the following about Jews: "…and they differed not until the knowledge came unto them. Your Lord will judge between them during the Day of Resurrection concerning wherein they used to differ" (10:93). Concerning their differences around the Sabbath, God will judge among them also. Similarly, Christians have differed where there are those who have the absolute truth and those who are wholly in the wrong. God has said in the Quran that He will postpone their judgment till the Day of Resurrection: "…And I shall judge among you as to that wherein you used to differ." (3:55). Concerning the differences among those who believe in God alone and those who believe in other deities beside God, we read the following in the Quran: "…You will judge between Your slaves concerning wherein they used to differ." (39:46). Regarding the relationship between Muslims and People of the Book, we read the following in the Quran: "…So vie one with another in good works...He will then inform you of that wherein you differ" (5:48).

  Concerning the relationship between Muhammad and those who fight against him, God has said the following: "Surely you will die, and they will die; and during the Day of Resurrection, before your Lord you will dispute" (39:30-31). This means that Muhammad himself will dispute with his enemies before the Almighty. That is why God commanded him to tell them: "…Allah will judge among them during the Day of Resurrection…" (22:17). Therefore, judgment and settlement of religious conflicts or disputes have been postponed till the Day of Resurrection. God says the following about all people: "…Each soul earns only its own account, nor does any laden bear another's load. Then unto your Lord is your return and He will tell you that wherein you differed" (6:164).

  Concerning judgment among people during the Day of Judgment, God commanded Muhammad to announce this truth: "Say: O Allah! Creator of the heavens and the earth! Knower of the Invisible and the visible! You will judge among Your slaves concerning that wherein they used to differ" (39:46). Those many verses are enough to show that religious differences among people are only left for God to settle during the Day of Resurrection, and this applies to prophets as well. After explaining all this, are Muslims who love their religion allowed to give themselves the right to assume the role of God by asking people to repent?! Matters of faith are God's concern alone that will be judged during the Day of Resurrection. As for rights of people, they have the right to live, to own property, and to have human dignity, and when crimes violating these rights are perpetrated, penalties are exacted in this world. This is God's jurisprudence in controlling society. This is the field where the human judiciary system interferes to protect people and society while abiding by the divine jurisprudence. As for what is deemed as God's due or God's rights in religious matters, this is for God alone to judge in the Hereafter, to reward and punish people as per their deeds and beliefs.  

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