Interpreting Al-Baqarah:26, “God misguides many thereby and He guides many thereby”
I was reading the second chapter of the Quran last night and came across this verse:
“God does not disdain to coin the similtitude even of a gnat or of aught above it. Those who believe know that it is the truth from their Lord; but those who disbelieve say: What does Allah wish (to teach) by such a similtitude? He misguides many thereby, and He guides many thereby; and He misguides thereby only the transgressors”. (2:26)
What does this verse mean?
The understanding of this passage that I can offer is this: God Almighty, in order to explain to us certain truths sometimes uses analogies in the Quran. If there is a need in the analogy to mention words like mosquito or fly, for instance, then a serious-minded reader would readily understand the idea in the right context. However, for someone who is inclined to reject the message without considering it properly, examples like these provide opportunities to make fun of it. Thus God Almighty says that the same message guides some and misguides others. However, the message doesn’t misguide anyone but those who are transgessors: those who have spoilt their innate goodness by doing what their nature requires them to stay away from. For example, man’s inner nature (given to him by God Almighty) requires him to maintain good relations with relatives and not sever his ties with them. However, those who are ultimately misguided by the Quran instead of being guided by it, don’t bother to maintain their relations with them.
Let me give you an example of a passage where a fly has been mentioned in an illustration. The Quran mentions an example to illustrate the foolishness of those who worshipped statues instead of God Almighty in surah al-Hajj. (22:73) It says:
“O mankind! A similtitude is coined, so pay heed to it: Those on whom you call beside Allah will never be able to create even a fly though they combine together their abilities for the purpose. And if the fly took something from them, they could not rescue it from it. So weak are both the seeker and sought.”
In this verse the Quran has effectively used the example of a fly to help the reader understand the weakness of the polytheistic position of worshipping statues. However, those who are to be misguided by this passage might claim that there was no reason why there should be a mention of a creature as mean as a fly in God’s message.
Obviously anyone who says that has missed the point completely. However, he has missed the point not because there was anything wrong in the idea of mentioning a fly in the example, but because he didn’t want to understand it, and in order to justify his position, he uses the mention of fly in the passage as an excuse. The Quran claims people who are thus misguided are those who have contaminated the innate goodness of their pristine nature by transgressing against Allah’s will (which they clearly knew instinctively).
I hope you have understood my answer.