Allah as the Best of Deceivers? Between The Noble Quran and the Bible
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
The term ‘khayru al-makireen‘is first used in Quran (3:54) of the Quran:
وَمَكَرُوا وَمَكَرَ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَاللَّـهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ
“And they schemed [against Jesus] and God schemed [against them], but God is the best schemer.”
This is alternately translated as “deceiver” or “plotter”–the translation of “deceiver” is preferred by anti-Muslim elements, whereas “plotter” by Muslim apologists. The more neutral “schemer” is chosen here being appropriate.
The Translations of Quran verse 3:54 by Non-Muslims [Orientalist]
- Arthur John Arberry : And they devised, and God devised, and God is the best of devisers.
- Edward Henry Palmer: But they (the Jews) were crafty, and God was crafty, for God is the best of crafty ones!
- George Sale: And the Jews devised a stratagem against him; but God devised a stratagem against them; and God is the best deviser of stratagems.
- John Medows Rodwell: And the Jews plotted, and God plotted: But of those who plot is God the best.
- N J Dawood (2014): They contrived, and God contrived; God is the supreme Contriver.
The context of this verse can be found in Tafsir Al-Jalalayn, as follows:
God says: And they, the disbelievers among the Children of Israel, schemed, against Jesus, by assigning someone to assassinate him; and God schemed, by casting the likeness of Jesus onto the person who intended to kill him, and so they killed him, while Jesus was raised up into heaven; and God is the best of schemers, most knowledgeable of him [Jesus].
Some killers schemed against Jesus, and so God schemed against the killers to fool them. God made someone else look like Jesus–a willing martyr, by the way–and the killers murdered him instead (don’t worry, he is promised heaven).
So, that is the context in which God “schemed.”
If Osama bin Ladin tried to kill the President of the United States, but the Secret Service used one of the President’s doubles to “deceive” OBL, would there be anything wrong with this? That’s the exact same situation as appears in the Quran.
The term “khayru al-makireen” is repeated in verse 8:30, again in the context of those who tried to assassinate one of God’s prophets, in this case Muhammad (pbuh) himself. The leaders of Mecca planned to assassinate him, “scheming” against him by deciding to do the ugly deed altogether as one so that nobody could assign blame to any one single tribe. This would prevent any possible retaliation. They also planned on killing Muhammad (pbuh) using the cover of darkness.
The Quran says that God “schemed” against these killers, and fooled the killers by making them think Muhammad was in his bed when in fact it was his younger cousin Ali. When the killers found out it was just Ali, they didn’t kill him since he was just an adolescent. In the meantime, Muhammad (pbuh) slipped away and fled to another city with his life.
So once again, God’s “scheming” involved fooling killers so that they could not murder.
How one could twist this into something negative, it is not understood…but Islamophobes are very adept at twisting things.
The Bible contains numerous verses in it where God “deceives.” Once again, for me the interesting thing about it is the level of pure hypocrisy of anti-Muslim Jews and Christians who vilify Islam and the Quran for what is found in their own religion and holy book.
Zawadi points to the following verse of the Bible, for instance:
Jeremiah 4:10 Then I said, “O Sovereign LORD, the people have been deceived by what you said, for you promised peace for Jerusalem. But the sword is held at their throats!”
Of relevance here is the fact that unlike the two Quranic verses–which show God stopping people from killing by deceiving murderers–the Biblical verse in which God deceives involves him tricking a population into thinking they would have “peace” when in fact “the sword is held at their throats!” The Bible says:
4:16 “Tell this to the nations, proclaim it to Jerusalem: ‘A besieging army is coming from a distant land, raising a war cry against the cities of Judah.’”
God deceived so that a “besieging army” could carry out its war of conquest. Similarly, God will delude people in 2 Thessalonians 2:11 “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false” so that Jesus can kill and destroy them.
Another falsehood is to try to equate Allah with Satan Quran;4:119 is quoted out of context to support the slander, but the context is self-explanatory:سُوۡرَةُ النِّسَاء (Chapter the Women (4:116-121
اِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَا يَغۡفِرُ اَنۡ يُّشۡرَكَ بِهٖ وَيَغۡفِرُ مَا دُوۡنَ ذٰ لِكَ لِمَنۡ يَّشَآءُ ؕ وَمَنۡ يُّشۡرِكۡ بِاللّٰهِ فَقَدۡ ضَلَّ ضَلٰلًاۢ بَعِيۡدًا ﴿۱۱۶﴾ اِنۡ يَّدۡعُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِهٖۤ اِلَّاۤ اِنٰـثًـا ۚ وَاِنۡ يَّدۡعُوۡنَ اِلَّا شَيۡـطٰنًا مَّرِيۡدًا ۙ ﴿۱۱۷﴾ لَّـعَنَهُ اللّٰهُ ۘ وَقَالَ لَاَ تَّخِذَنَّ مِنۡ عِبَادِكَ نَصِيۡبًا مَّفۡرُوۡضًا ۙ ﴿۱۱۸﴾ وَّلَاُضِلَّـنَّهُمۡ وَلَاُمَنِّيَنَّهُمۡ وَلَاٰمُرَنَّهُمۡ فَلَيُبَـتِّكُنَّ اٰذَانَ الۡاَنۡعَامِ وَلَاٰمُرَنَّهُمۡ فَلَيُغَيِّرُنَّ خَلۡقَ اللّٰهِؕ وَمَنۡ يَّتَّخِذِ الشَّيۡطٰنَ وَلِيًّا مِّنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰهِ فَقَدۡ خَسِرَ خُسۡرَانًا مُّبِيۡنًا ؕ ﴿۱۱۹﴾ يَعِدُهُمۡ وَيُمَنِّيۡهِمۡ ؕ وَمَا يَعِدُهُمُ الشَّيۡـطٰنُ اِلَّا غُرُوۡرًا ﴿۱۲۰﴾ اُولٰٓٮِٕكَ مَاۡوٰٮهُمۡ جَهَـنَّمُ وَلَا يَجِدُوۡنَ عَنۡهَا مَحِيۡصًا ﴿۱۲۱﴾
“Verily! Allâh forgives not (the sin of) setting up partners (in worship) with Him, but He forgives whom He wills sins other than that, and whoever sets up partners in worship with Allâh, has indeed strayed far away. (116) They (all those who worship others than Allâh) invoke nothing but female deities besides Him (Allâh), and they invoke nothing but Shaitân (Satan), a persistent rebel! (117) Allâh cursed him. And he [Shaitân (Satan)] said:
“I will take an appointed portion of your slaves; (118) Verily, I will mislead them, and surely, I will arouse in them false desires; and certainly, I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and indeed I will order them to change the nature created by Allâh.”
And whoever takes Shaitân (Satan) as a Walî (protector or helper) instead of Allâh, has surely suffered a manifest loss.  (119) He [Shaitan (Satan)] makes promises to them and arouses in them false desires; and Shaitan’s (Satan) promises are nothing but deceptions. (120) The dwelling of such (people) is Hell, and they will find no way of escape from it. (4:121)
However, Bible describes Devil as “the god of this world” in 2 Corinthians 4:4, Other terms identified with Satan include “the prince of this world” in the Book of John 12:31, 14:30; “the prince of the power of the air” also called Meririm, and “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” in the Book of Ephesians 2:2
Question: Can Allah be described as plotting, deceiving and betraying as in the verses (interpretation of the meaning): “they were plotting and Allah too was plotting” [al-Anfaal 8:30] , “Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them” [al-Nisa’ 4:142]?.
Praise be to Allah. The attributes of Allah are all attributes of perfection, pointing to the best and most perfect of meanings. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):“and for Allah is the highest description. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise” Quran [al-Nahl 16:60]
“His is the highest description (i.e. none has the right to be worshipped but He, and there is nothing comparable unto Him) in the heavens and in the earth. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise”
Quran [al-Room 30:27] Al-Sa’di said in his Tafseer (commentary) – p. 718, 1065:
The highest description means the most perfect attributes.
Attributes are of three types:
1 – Attributes of perfection –
in which there is no shortcoming whatsoever. These attributes apply to Allah in absolute terms and are not limited or restricted in any way. Examples of that include His knowledge, power, hearing, seeing, mercy, etc.
2 – Attributes which imply imperfection and shortcomings.
These can never be ascribed to Allah, such as sleeping, being unable, doing wrong or oppressing, betraying, etc.
3 – Attributes which may be perfect or imperfect, depending on the context.
These cannot be ascribed to Allah in absolute terms, and they cannot be denied in the case of Allah in absolute terms. If the context implies perfection, then they can be ascribed to Allah; if it implies imperfection then they cannot be ascribed to Allah. Examples include plotting, deceiving, and mocking.
Plotting against, betraying, and mocking the Enemy are attributes of perfection, because that is indicative of complete knowledge, power and might, and so on.
But plotting against the sincere believers is an attribute of imperfection.
Hence these characteristics are not ascribed to Allah in absolute terms, rather they are mentioned in such a context as to indicate that these are attributes of perfection.
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them” [al-Nisa’ 4:142]
This is deceiving the hypocrites.
And He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And (remember) when the disbelievers plotted against you (O Muhammad) to imprison you, or to kill you, or to get you out (from your home, i.e. Makkah); they were plotting and Allah too was plotting; and Allah is the Best of those who plot” [al-Anfaal 8:30]
This is a plot against the enemies of Allah who were plotting against the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
Allah says of the hypocrites (interpretation of the meaning):
“And when they meet those who believe, they say: ‘We believe,’ but when they are alone with their Shayatin (devils — polytheists, hypocrites), they say: ‘Truly, we are with you; verily, we were but mocking.’
Allah mocks at them and gives them increase in their wrong-doing to wander blindly” [al-Baqarah 2:14-15]
This is mocking the hypocrites.
These attributes are to be regarded as indicating perfection in this context. Hence, we say that Allah mocks the hypocrites and deceives them, and that He plots against His enemies, and so on. But it is not permissible to describe Allah as mocking or deceiving in absolute terms, because that does not indicate perfection.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: Can Allah be described as plotting and named as such?
Allah cannot be described as plotting except in a limited sense; He cannot be described as such in absolute terms. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Did they then feel secure against the Plan of Allah? None feels secure from the Plan of Allah except the people who are the losers” [al-A’raaf 7:99]
This verse indicate that Allah has a plan or plot, which was to confound them without them realizing it. This is akin to the hadeeth narrated by al-Bukhaari: “War is deceit.”
If it is asked: How can Allah be described as plotting when this seems to be something blameworthy?
The answer is that plotting in the right circumstances may be something praiseworthy that points to the strength of the plotter, and that he is superior to his enemy. Hence Allah cannot be described as plotting in absolute terms, and we cannot say “Allah is a Plotter.” Rather this attribute is mentioned in a context where it is positive, such as the verses (interpretation of the meaning):
“They were plotting, and Allah too was plotting” [al-Anfaal 8:30]
“So, they plotted a plot, and We planned a plan, while they perceived not” [al-Naml 27:50]
And we cannot say in absolute terms that this cannot be ascribed to Allah, rather in contexts where it is something positive it may be ascribed to Him, and in contexts where it is not something positive, it should not be ascribed to Him. So Allah should not be called by a name which refers to this, so we cannot say that one of the names of Allah is “the Plotter”. Plotting is one of His actions, because it has to do with the Will of Allah.
Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 1/170.
He was also asked: Can Allah be described as betraying, or as deceiving, as in the verse (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them” [al-Nisa’ 4:142]?
Regarding betrayal, this is something that can never be ascribed to Allah, because it is something shameful in all circumstances, and it is plotting at a time of trust, which is blameworthy. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“But if they intend to betray you (O Muhammad), they indeed betrayed Allah before. So He gave (you) power over them. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise” [al-Anfaal 8:71]
And He did not say: So, He betrayed them.
Regarding deceiving, it is like plotting. It may be ascribed to Allah when it is something positive, but it cannot be ascribed to Him in absolute terms. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them” [al-Nisa’ 4:142]
Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 1/171
And Allah knows best.
The Biblical God as a Deceiver ( Sadly the Bible had been badly Corrupted)
You won’t hear enough of Christian missionaries arguing that the Qur’an describes Allah as plotting and deceiving (refer above).
So, I think it is only fair if we return them the favor and show how the God of the Bible is a deceiver, thus by the Christian missionary criteria the Biblical God is an immoral God and should not be worshipped.
We read in… Jeremiah 4:10
Then I said, “Ah, Sovereign LORD, how completely you have deceived (nasha) this people and Jerusalem by saying, ‘You will have peace,’ when the sword is at our throats.”
The word for deceived here is nasha, which means…
1) to beguile, deceive
a) (Niphal) to be beguiled
b) (Hiphil) to beguile, deceive
c) (Qal) utterly (infinitive)
John Gill states in his commentary…
surely, thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem:
what the false prophets did, that God is said to do, because he suffered them to deceive the people; (John Gill, The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible, Commentary on Jeremiah 4:10, Source)
The New Bible commentary states…
Jeremiah is not indifferent to the message, which he is called to preach. In v 10 a note is struck to which he will return in relation to himself (15:18). In his distress he accuses the Lord of having deceived the people, presumably by having allowed false prophets to convince them with a message of peace (cf. 6:13-14). The only reply is the Lord’s own confirmation that judgment is sure. (New Bible Commentary)
Even though it was really the false prophets who did the act of deception, the Bible is actually shifting the blame to God for actually allowing the false prophets to do the deception. This is what the “inspired” author Jeremiah said and this is what we got to accept. God deceived innocent people.
It seemed that people were so bothered with Jeremiah’s ascription of deception to God that they had to reword the sentence so that deception is ascribed to the false prophets instead.
Ah, Lord God! surely, thou hast greatly deceived this people
The Targum paraphrases this verse thus: “And I said, receive my supplication, O Lord God; for, behold, the false prophets deceive this people and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace.” The prophet could not reconcile this devastation of the country with the promises already made; and he appears to ask the question, Hast thou not then deceived this people in saying there shall be peace, i.e., prosperity? (Adam Clarke, The Adam Clarke Commentary, Commentary on Jeremiah 4:10, Source)
We have it in…
1 Kings 22:20-22
20 And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’
“One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’
22” ‘By what means?’ the LORD asked.
” ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.
” ‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’
Here we see that the man said that he would resort to lying in order to entice Ahab and God supported the idea and told him to go ahead and do it!
I personally have no moral objections to this since I believe God could at times use means of deception in order to ensure the greater good and to use deception against evil. However, Christians don’t allow this when we talk about Allah deceiving evildoers in the Qur’an. These are double standards.
We even have it in…
9 ” ‘And if the prophet is enticed to utter a prophecy, I the LORD have enticed that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and destroy him from among my people Israel. 10 They will bear their guilt-the prophet will be as guilty as the one who consults him. 11 Then the people of Israel will no longer stray from me, nor will they defile themselves anymore with all their sins. They will be my people, and I will be their God, declares the Sovereign LORD.’”
God is punishing him for a crime that He enticed him to do in the first place. Isn’t that entrapment?
Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard-those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Listen! I am going to put a spirit in him so that when he hears a certain report, he will return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’ ”
God had that spirit spread a rumor so that the King of Assyria can to return to his homeland. In short, that spirit’s purpose was for deception.
Another example from the Bible…
The LORD has poured into them a spirit of dizziness; they make Egypt stagger in all that she does, as a drunkard staggers around in his vomit.
Here we see God deceiving people to the extent that they become absolutely foolish.
Even though I don’t believe the Gospels teach that Jesus taught he was God, however this example is for those who believe that Jesus is God. Jesus admits that he was speaking figuratively all this time…
25″Though I have been speaking figuratively (paroimia), a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my father.
The word paroimia could mean…
1) a saying out of the usual course or deviating from the usual manner of speaking
a) a current or trite saying, a proverb
2) any dark saying which shadows forth some didactic truth
a) esp. a symbolic or figurative saying
b) speech or discourse in which a thing is illustrated by the use of similes and comparisons
c) an allegory
1) extended and elaborate metaphor
Why wasn’t Jesus speaking in a normal and clear way all the time? Why did Jesus then go and say that he won’t ‘use this kind of language’?
Well, here we find out why…
10When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12so that,” ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise, they might turn and be forgiven!’
So here we see that Jesus was deceiving certain people by speaking in parables so that they won’t (and God forbid!) REPENT AND BE FORGIVEN!
2 Thessalonians 2:11
11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie
So God will delude people so that they can believe lies?
Now Christians would argue back and ask us Muslims to understand the context and reasons why God did such a thing. However, when we tell Christians to do the same thing when it comes to analyzing certain Qur’anic verses, they don’t want to do it. So why should us Muslims?
Almighty Allah is the highest and most knowledgeable, and the attribution of knowledge to him is the safest.
Right from Almighty Allah and wrong from me and Satan
Prepared by Mohamad Mostafa Nassar- Australia.
Make sure to copy and email this post for your reference, you might need it later.
Arrogance is not only a sign of insecurity, but also a sign of immaturity. Mature and fully realised persons can get their points across, even emphatically without demeaning or intimidating others.