The Punishment for Contradicting and Opposing the Messenger
In this ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala talks about people who possess knowledge yet deny the Message of Rasoolullah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam. He says,
وَمَن يُشَاقِقِ الرَّسُولَ
“And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger …”
The word waman means whosoever. In the ayah it refers to anyone whether a Muslim or a non-Muslim, whether he is a scholar who thinks he is quite knowledgeable or an ordinary person.
Yushaqiq is from the root letters sheen-qaf-qaf, i.e. shaq which means to split, to doubt/waver, a thing/case/affair that became dubious/confused or difficult, uncertainty, state of commotion or disturbance of the heart and mind. Mushaqa is to split away from something and oppose. For example, there is a group of people among them a few of them say we can’t work together anymore so they split. This is mushaqa, meaning to split and go against someone.
So, Waman yushaqiqi alrasoola is going against the Messenger of Allah or what he has brought (i.e. his Message).
The next part of the ayah states that the person is not opposing the Messenger out of ignorance, but after the truth has been made clear to him.
مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الْهُدَى
“… after the right path has been shown clearly to him…”
The word tabayyana is from the root letters ba-ya-noon and it means to become evident, apparent, manifest, clear, known or distinguished from another.
The word alhuda which is from the root letters ha-dal-ya means guidance, taking or following the way/course, rightly directed.
So, min baAAdi ma tabayyana lahu alhuda means after guidance has become evident to him. Here, huda means the ilm or knowledge that the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam brought. He taught us the Qur’an, the Sunnah, the Hikmah. This is ilm-naf’eh i.e. the beneficial knowledge.
How does guidance become evident? It happens after one witnesses its truthfulness. For example, a person studies the Qur’an. He comes across the words “yuqeemoona alssalata”, i.e. establish Salah. He opens up a dictionary to find the meaning of Salah and sees it translated as “prayer”. So now would he just make du’a to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala wherever he may be or would he be offering Salah, the five obligatory prayers in a day? If he takes Salah as a du’a, he is ignoring the ayaat on Salat-ul-Khawf (we read previously). Those ayaat clearly mention Salah, as the five obligatory prayers in a day which is not just du’a but it comprises of rukuh, sujud and cannot be performed without facing the qiblah, or without ablution or tayyamum.
If this person insists that Salah means du’a then either he has not read the entire Qur’an or he is deliberately ignoring a few ayaat.
Next, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala mentions that this person not only intentionally opposes the truth after it has become clear to him, but he also deviates from the path of the believers.
وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
“…and follows other than the believers’ way…”
What is the way of the believers? That which has been taught by Rasoolullah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam. Any deviation will indicate contradicting the teachings of the Messenger.
Going back to our previous example (cited above), the Companions were the best of the believers. They were masters of the Arabic language, but did any one of them interpret Salah as du’a? No, they did not. So how can someone now get up and say Salah means du’a and there’s no need to offer the ritual of five obligatory prayers?
The way of the believers is the way they practice the deen i.e. the way sahabahs understood and practiced without opposing the Qur’an or Sunnah.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala warned against the evil of contradicting the Messenger sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam when He said,
نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّى وَنُصْلِهِ جَهَنَّمَ وَسَآءَتْ مَصِيراً
“We will turn him to what he has turned to and We will burn him in Hell; and evil it is as a destination.”
The words nuwallihi and tawalla both have the same root letters waw-lam-ya which indicate to be close, near, follow, to be. The word nuwallihi means We will turn him and tawalla means he has turned.
This part of the ayah means that when one goes on the wicked path, he will be punished by making the evil path appear good in his heart, and beautifying it for him so that he is tempted further. This means that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will let the person stay in his deviated path. He doesn’t force hidayah on anyone. It doesn’t mean that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala likes it, but that’s how He punishes the deviated. Allah made the Fire the destination of such people in the Hereafter. Indeed, the path of those who avoid the right guidance will only lead to the Fire on the Day of Resurrection. Allahumma ajirni min’nan naar.