Shirk Shall Not Be Forgiven
Though, the mention of jihad in preceding ayaat includes all forces hostile to Islam, yet the actual description was limited to Jews and the hypocrites. Out of the larger group of antagonists there were the pagans who were much more in numbers. The ayaat that follow take up their beliefs and point out to the punishment they will face. This has a coherence of its own at this place. It will be recalled that the thief mentioned earlier became an apostate. The lasting punishment he thus earned for himself becomes evident. [Bayan-ul-Qur’an].
In this ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذلِكَ لِمَن يَشَآءُ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَـلاً بَعِيداً
“Indeed, Allah does not forgive that you associate partners with Him, but He forgives other than that for whom He wills. And whoever associates partners with Allah, then surely he has lost the way, straying far away.”
The words appearing in ayah 116 are similar to those that appeared earlier in ayah 48. However, there is a slight difference in the way they end. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ends ayah 48 by saying, “And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin.” On the other hand, ayah 116 ends in these words, “And whoever associates partners with Allah, then surely he has lost the way, straying far away.”
The mufasirs explain that this is because ayah 48 was addressed to the Jews who knew all about the truth of tawheed (Oneness of Allah), the falsity of shirk and the veracity of the mission of the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam through the Torah. Despite that, they got involved in shirk. Thus, through their own conduct, they pretended that it was the very teaching of the Torah which is total forgery and false accusation. The addressees in ayah 116 were the pagans of Makkah who did not have the background of any Book or Prophet before that time, but the rational arguments in support of the Oneness of Allah were all too clear. Taking stones crafted with their own hands as their objects of worship was something ineffectual, false and erroneous even in the sight of someone with ordinary common sense. Therefore, ayah 116 ends at
ضَلَّ ضَلَـلاً بَعِيداً
i.e. “then surely he has lost the way, straying far away.”
When Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
this makes His forgiveness conditional. Now no one can claim that as long as he is not doing shirk he will be forgiven. No, that is not true. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has clearly through this ayah and at other places in the Qur’an mentioned that He forgives whom “He wills” and not the one who wishes to be forgiven while continuing to live a sinful life.
Anyone who associates partners with Allah has deviated from the true path or righteousness. He has destroyed his dunya as well as the akhirah.
For example, when we are going somewhere and we get lost on the way we realize after a long time that we have gone astray. Sometimes we have reached so far and so much time has been wasted that we give our journey and do not change our direction. We rather return back to where we started. Same happens with shirk. When people commit shirk they go so far away that there’s no hope left for them to return.