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About God's Promise: "...That Is upon your Lord a Binding Promise." (Quran 25:16)

 

About God's Promise: "...That Is upon your Lord a Binding Promise." (Quran 25:16)

 

Published in May 23, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

 

 

Introduction:

 We have received this question via email; we quote it here followed by our reply: (... Of course, God is not to be questioned by human beings about what He does: "He will not be questioned about what He does, but they will be questioned." (21:23). Yet, does this contradict with this verse: "...That is upon your Lord a binding promise." (25:16)?  ... The Quranic contains no contradictions; how would you explain 25:16 to me, then?... What do you think? ... Thank you ...).

 

OUR REPLY

 

Firstly: about this verse:"He will not be questioned about what He does, but they will be questioned." (21:23):

1- No one would dares to question God about His decrees, commands, or deeds. This is impossible to occur; how and when it would take place and by whom?

2- Human beings will meet with the Almighty Lord God on the Day of Resurrection; they will be made to stand before the Dominant Lord God on the Last Day to be judged and questioned by Him.

3- Within this Judgment, no one dares to even speak unless with God's leave: "Lord of the heavens and the earth, and everything between them - The Dominant Lord - none can argue with Him. On the Day when the Spirit and the angels stand in row. They will not speak, unless it be one permitted by the Most Merciful, and he will say what is right." (78:37-38); this applies to all angels and arch-angels, including the Spirit Gabriel, and all human souls of prophets/messengers, good people, and bad people: "In that is a Sign for whoever fears the torment of the Hereafter. That is a Day for which humanity will be gathered together - that is a Day to be witnessed. We only postpone it until a predetermined time. On the Day when it arrives, no soul will speak without His permission. Some will be miserable, and some will be happy." (11:103-105).

4- On the Last Day, each soul will defend itself and argue for itself as all souls will be responsible and will be questioned about their deeds; the human souls will not ask God about His decrees or deeds. "On the Day when every soul will come pleading for itself, and every soul will be paid in full for what it has done, and they will not be wronged." (16:111).

 

Secondly: about this verse:"...That is upon your Lord a binding promise." (25:16):

 Let us examine the entire context about God's promise: God says in the Quran: "Say, "Is this better, or the Garden of Eternity promised to the righteous? It is for them a reward and a destination. They will have therein whatever they desire, forever. That is upon your Lord a binding promise." (25:15-16). We infer here that the phrase (That is upon your Lord a binding promise) refers to the fact that God assures us of the inevitability of fulfilling His promise. We provide some details in the points below.

1- There are Divine Promises that have been fulfilled/realized by God in the ancient eras before the descent/revelation of the Quran.

1/1: God says in the Quran: "Then We save Our messengers and those who believe. It is binding on Us to save the believers." (10:103). This means that the Almighty Lord God has the Absolute Power to fulfill, execute, and realize this promise and He saved believers in the past while He destroyed the disbelievers among the ancient nations in the same time and place, as per several Quranic stories.    

1/2: This is repeated here: "Before you, We sent messengers to their people. They came to them with clear proofs. Then We took revenge on those who sinned. It is incumbent on Us to help the believers." (30:47).

1/3: God has fulfilled His promise to the Israelites by destroying Pharaoh and his unjust people and the Israelites inherited the land of Egypt, temporarily before the exodus. At first, the Israelites complained to Moses about their being persecuted severely by Pharaoh, and he told them the following: "Moses said to his people, "Seek help in God, and be patient. The earth belongs to God. He gives it in inheritance to whomever He wills of His servants, and the future belongs to the righteous ones." They said, "We were persecuted before you came to us, and after you came to us." He said, "Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy, and make you successors in the land; then He will see how you behave."" (7:128-129). This promise has been fulfilled: "So We took vengeance on them, and drowned them in the sea - because they rejected Our Signs, and paid no heed to them. And We made the oppressed people inherit the eastern and western parts of the land, which We had blessed. Thus the fair promise of your Lord to the Israelites was fulfilled, because of their endurance. And We destroyed what Pharaoh and his people had built, and what they had harvested." (7:136-137); "So We drove them out of gardens and springs. And treasures and noble dwellings. So it was. And We made the Israelites inherit them." (26:57-59); "How many gardens and fountains did they leave behind? And plantations, and splendid buildings. And comforts they used to enjoy. So it was; and We passed it on to another people." (44:25-28).

2- There are Divine Promises that were realized and fulfilled during Muhammad's lifetime when the uranic verses were being revealed.

2/1: God says in the Quran: "The Byzantines have been defeated. In a nearby territory. But following their defeat, they will be victorious. In a few years. The matter is up to God, in the past, and in the future. On that day, the believers will rejoice. In God's support. He supports whomever He wills. He is the Almighty, the Merciful. The promise of God-God never breaks His promise, but most people do not know." (30:2-6). In fact, during Muhammad's lifetime, the Byzantines were defeated by the Persians; God predicts and promises here that the Byzantines will defeat the Persians later on within the coming years (i.e., before Muhammad's death) and this has come to pass.

2/2: After Muhammad and the early believers settled in Yathreb, the Qorayish polytheistic aggressors attacked and sieged Yathreb many times, and its dwellers lived in fear. God has promised them to live in security: "God has promised those of you who believe and do righteous deeds, that He will make them successors on earth, as He made those before them successors, and He will establish for them their religion - which He has approved for them-and He will substitute security in place of their fear. They worship Me, never associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that - these are the sinners." (24:55). God has promised them to achieve victory over the Qorayish aggressors in the battle of Badr; God says the following in the Quran while addressing those disgruntled Yathreb dwellers at such a moment in time: "And remember when you were few, oppressed in the land, fearing that people may capture you; but He sheltered you, and supported you with His victory, and provided you with good things-so that you may be thankful." (8:26). 

2/3: This is about the victory within the battle of Badr: "God has promised you one of the two groups - that it would be yours - but you wanted the unarmed group to be yours. God intends to prove the truth with His words, and to uproot the disbelievers. In order to confirm the truth and nullify falsehood, even though the disbelievers dislike it." (8:7-8); "God had given you victory at Badr, when you were weak. So fear God, that you may be thankful." (3:123).

2/4: When the Meccan troops of the confederates sieged Yathreb, God has promised Muhammad and the believers among the Yathreb dwellers; this Divine Promise was ridiculed by the hypocrites: "When the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is sickness said, "God and His Messenger promised us nothing but illusion."" (33:12), whereas this Divine Promise increased the belief/faith of the real believers: "And when the believers saw the confederates, they said, "This is what God and His messenger have promised us; and God and His messenger have told the truth." And it only increased them in faith and submission. Of the believers are men who are true to what they pledged to God. Some of them have fulfilled their vows; and some are still waiting, and never wavering. That God may reward the truthful for their truthfulness; and torment the hypocrites, if He wills, or pardon them. God is Forgiving and Merciful." (33:22-24). God Himself has defeated the troops of the confederates and He reminded the believers of this fact so that they may be grateful and thankful to Him: "O you who believe! Remember God's blessings upon you, when forces came against you, and We sent against them a wind, and forces you did not see. God is Observant of what you do. When they came upon you, from above you, and from beneath you; and the eyes became dazed, and the hearts reached the throats, and you harbored doubts about God. There and then the believers were tested, and were shaken most severely." (33:9-11); "Although they had made a pledged to God, in the past, that they will not turn their backs. A pledge to God is a responsibility." (33:15).   

3- There are Divine Promises concerning the future (i.e., Hell and Paradise), and they will be realized and fulfilled only on the Last Day; they are mentioned in the Quranic text in different styles of assertion and emphasis to make people believe in the Quran. we provide some examples in the following points.

3/1: God assures us in the Quran, using several styles, that His Promises are binding; i.e., they are bound to be fulfilled by Him: "...your duty is to convey, and Ours is the Judgment." (13:40); "To Us is their return. Then upon Us rests their Judgment." (88:25-26); "It is upon Us to guide." (92:12). More points to exemplify this are found below.

3/1/1: This is about Paradise: "They will have therein whatever they desire, forever. That is upon your Lord a binding promise." (25:16); God assures Quran-believing people that His Promises are bound to be fulfilled, realized, and executed.

3/1/2: The same applies to the Divine Promise of Resurrection that will take place on the Last Day to all human souls: "And they swear by God with their most solemn oaths, "God will not resurrect anyone who dies." Yes indeed, it is a promise binding on Him, but most people do not know." (16:38).

3/1/3: he same applies to the Divine Promise that the Last Day will take place and God will certainly fulfill His Promise and execute his Word/Decree: "On the Day when We fold the heaven, like the folding of a book. Just as We began the first creation, We will repeat it-a promise binding on Us. We will act." (21:104).

3/2: No one is as truthful as the Almighty Lord God in promises and pledges.

3/2/1: God promises Paradise to those pious monotheists as per their belief and their deeds and no one is as truthful as the Lord God: "But as for those who believe and do righteous deeds, We will admit them into gardens beneath which rivers flow, where they will abide forever. The promise of God is true - and who is more truthful in speech than God?" (4:122).

3/2/2: The same promise and assurance is repeated here about those killed for God's sake while serving His cause: "God has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties in exchange for Paradise. They fight in God's way, and they kill and get killed. It is a promise binding on Him in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Quran. And who is more true to his promise than God? So rejoice in making such an exchange-that is the supreme triumph." (9:111).

3/3: This means that God never breaks His promises; this meaning is repeated in the Quranic text.

3/3/1: This is mentioned here: "But those who fear their Lord will have mansions upon mansions, built high, with streams flowing beneath them. The promise of God; and God never breaks a promise." (39:20); "...Disasters will continue to strike those who disbelieve, because of their deeds, or they fall near their homes, until God's promise comes true. God never breaks a promise." (13:31).

3/3/2: The Divine Command has been issued about when the Hour takes place and God never breaks His promises; there is difference in time between terrestrial, physical realm and the Metaphysical, Upper Realm: "And they ask you to hasten the punishment. But God never breaks His promise. A day with your Lord is like a thousand years of your count." (22:47); "The command of God has come, so do not rush it. Glory be to Him; exalted above what they associate." (16:1).

3/3/3: Real believers supplicate to the Lord in this way: ""Our Lord, You will gather the people for a Day in which there is no doubt." God will never break His promise." (3:9).

3/4: There are other Quranic verses that mention God's Divine Promises.

3/4/1: This is about Paradise: "The Gardens of Eden, promised by the Most Merciful to His servants in the Unseen. His promise will certainly come true." (19:61).

3/4/2: This is about the Hour: "So how will you, if you persist in unbelief, save yourself from a Day which will turn the children gray-haired? The heaven will shatter thereby. His promise is always fulfilled." (73:17-18).

3/4/3: God threatens the disbelievers who reject the Quran here with the promise of Hell-fire: "And when Our Clear Verses are recited to them, you will recognize disgust on the faces of those who disbelieve. They nearly assault those who recite to them Our Verses. Say, "Shall I inform you of something worse than that? The Fire! God has promised it to those who disbelieve. And what a wretched outcome!"" (22:72).

3/4/4: God predicts what the dwellers of Paradise will say about His Truthful Promises.

3/4/4/1: God says in the Quran: "And they will say, "Praise be to God, who has fulfilled His promise to us, and made us inherit the land, enjoying Paradise as we please." How excellent is the reward of the workers." (39:74).

3/4/4/2: God says in the Quran: "And the inhabitants of the Garden will call out to the inmates of the Fire, "We found what our Lord promised us to be true; did you find what your Lord promised you to be true?" They will say, "Yes." Thereupon a caller will announce in their midst, "The curse of God is upon the unjust ones."" (7:44).

3/4/5: God refutes the myths and distortions of disbelievers who assume that they will get out of Hell if they enter into it; such myth is repeated by the Muhammadans later on: "And they say, "The Fire will not touch us except for a number of days." Say, "Have you received a promise from God-God never breaks His promise-or are you saying about God what you do not know?" Indeed, whoever commits misdeeds, and becomes besieged by his iniquities - these are the inmates of the Fire, wherein they will dwell forever. As for those who believe and do righteous deeds - these are the inhabitants of Paradise, wherein they will dwell forever." (2:80-82).

3/4/6: God asserts and emphasizes the Hell-torment waiting for the unjust ones, especially tyrants; people wish that tyrants are punished and are gone and wonder why this is postponed: "Do not ever think that God is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. He only defers them until a Day when the sights stare. Their necks outstretched, their heads upraised, their gaze unblinking, their hearts void. And warn the humankind of the Day when the punishment will come upon them, and the wicked will say, "Our Lord, defer us for a little while, and we will answer Your call and follow the messengers." Did you not swear before that there will be no passing away for you? And you inhabited the homes of those who wronged themselves, and it became clear to you how We dealt with them, and We cited for you the examples. They planned their plans, but their plans are known to God, even if their plans can eliminate mountains. Do not ever think that God will break His promise to His messengers. God is Strong, Able to Avenge." (14:42-47).

4- God's Promise is sometimes mentioned in the Quranic verses without mentioning the term (promise) itself.

4/1: This is about the God's process of collecting Quranic verses and Chapters an preserving and protecting the entire Quranic text which remains with human beings until the end of days: "Surely We revealed the Remembrance, and We will surely preserve it." (15:9); "Upon Us is its collection and its recitation. Then, when We have recited it, follow its recitation. Then upon Us is its explanation." (75:17-19). 

4/2: This is about God's Signs motioned in the Quran (e.g., miraculous scientific indications): "We will show them Our Signs on the horizons, and in their very souls, until it becomes clear to them that it is the Truth. Is it not sufficient that your Lord is Witness over everything?" (41:53).

4/3: This is about the predicted-in-the-Quran future events that occurred to Arabs later on (as they disbelieved in the Quran) after the death of Muhammad, such as the major Arab civil war, which continues until now in the Sunnite-Shiite conflict: "Say, "He is Able to send upon you an affliction, from above you, or from under your feet. Or He can divide you into factions, and make you taste the violence of one another. Note how We explain the revelations, so that they may understand." But your people rejected it, though it is the truth. Say, "I am not responsible for you." For every happening is a finality, and you will surely know." (6:65-67).

4/4: This is about the Last Day: "What are they asking one another about? About the Great Event. About which they disagree. Surely, they will find out. Most certainly, they will find out." (78:1-5).

4/5: This is about the Quran in general: "It is but a Remembrance to the humankind. And you will know its message after a while." (38:87-88).

 

Lastly:

1- This verse: "...That is upon your Lord a binding promise." (25:16) has nothing to do with the bearing of responsibility by human beings, on the Last Day, regarding their deeds, expressed in these verses: "...And honor your pledge, because the pledge involves responsibility." (17:34); "And do not occupy yourself with what you have no knowledge of. The hearing, and the sight, and the brains-all these will be questioned." (17:36); "Although they had made a pledged to God, in the past, that they will not turn their backs. A pledge to God is a responsibility." (33:15). 

2- This part of the figurative, metaphoric style employed in the Quran to allow our limited human minds to grasp and understand. 

 


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