The Meaning of the Attribute 'Makr'
Fatwa No: 417037

Question

Is Allah Subhanahu wa ta'ala referred to in Quran 3:54 and Quran 8:30 as "the best of planners" or "best of deceivers"? I'm debating a christian and they say it should be translated best of deceivers not planners. Is this true? What does it mean that Allah Subhanahu wa ta'ala deceives others when he is the truth? Christians argue that the God of the bible doesn't personally deceive others, and instead has demons or angels deceive on his behalf. How do we as muslims respond to these common arguments against Islam? Jaz?k All?hu Khayran

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The trait of Makr (translated as plotting, planning, or deceiving) is not a dispraised trait in all contexts; rather, it is dispraised only when directed against someone who does not deserve it. Ibn Al-Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his book I‘laam Al-Muwaqqi‘een: "Makr is defined as causing something to others in a hidden manner, and it also conveys the meanings of plotting and deceit. However, it is of two types: blameworthy Makr, which means causing harm to someone who does not deserve it, and praiseworthy Makr, which means causing harm to someone who deserves it as a punishment. The first type is dispraised, and the second is praised. What is attributable to Allah, The Exalted, is the praiseworthy Makr, which is indicative of His justice and wisdom. He punishes and destroys the oppressors and transgressors whence they never expected it, unlike blameworthy Makr, which is practiced by the unjust oppressors against His slaves." [End of quote]

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: "These qualities are indicative of perfection when they counter the opponents’ evil schemes with their like, because they point to the doer’s strength, and his being superior to his enemy, and the ability to overcome him and counter his evil acts with their like or even more severe acts. They are indicative of imperfection in any other context. This is why Allah, The Almighty, never attributes such qualities to Himself in their absolute or broader sense. Rather, He only attributes Makr to Himself to mean a counterplot to frustrate the evil plots of those scheming against Him and His messengers  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). For instance, He Says (what means):

• {And the disbelievers planned, but Allah planned. And Allah is the best of planners.} [Quran 3:54]

• {Indeed, they are planning a plan,  But I am planning a plan.} [Quran 86:15-16]

• {But those who deny Our signs – We will progressively lead them [to destruction] from where they do not know.} [Quran 7:182]

• {Indeed, the hypocrites [think to] deceive Allah, but He is deceiving them.} [Quran 4:142]

• {… they say, “We believe,” but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say, “Indeed, we are with you; we were only mockers.”  [But] Allah mocks them…} [Quran 2:14-15]

This is why Allah does not state that He betrayed those who betrayed Him. He Says (what means): {But if they intend to betray you – then they have already betrayed Allah before, and He empowered [you] over them. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.} [Quran 8:71] The term used was: "He empowered [you] over them," not, "He betrayed them" because betrayal means violation of trust, and it is an absolutely blameworthy quality in all contexts." [End of quote]

Finally, we would like to alert you, dear brother, to an important matter; if you do not have adequate religious knowledge to refute the misconceptions and malicious allegations raised by the enemies of Islam, then you should not read about such misconceptions and malicious allegations and rather distance yourself from them completely lest something thereof settles in your heart and it would be difficult for you to get rid of them later on. The texts of the Sharee‘ah indicate that the Muslims are urged to avoid misconceptions and to distance themselves from them for fear of getting affected by them. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said in an authentic Hadeeth: "Let him who hears of the Dajjaal (Antichrist) go far from him, for I swear by Allah that a man will come to him thinking himself to be a believer and end up following him because of the misconceptions he (the Dajjaal) would rouse in him." [Abu Daawood]

Allah Knows best.

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