Three kinds of people, by S N Smith
Allah says in Surah Al-Anaam 6:109-111:
109. And they swear by Allah, with their most solemn oaths, that if a miracle were to come to them, they would believe in it. Say, “Miracles are only with Allah.” And what will make you realize, that even if they were to come, they would still not believe?
110. And We turn away their hearts and their visions, as they refused to believe in it the first time, and We leave them blundering in their rebellion.
111. And even if We sent down the angels to them, and the dead spoke to them, and We gathered all things before them, they still would not believe, unless Allah wills; but most of them do not know.
When presenting the message of Islam, one has to keep in mind that there are essentially three types of people:
1) There are those people who will believe almost immediately with very little convincing. They simply hear the truth and accept it.
2) There are those who are intellectually or academically inclined and require a lot of proof and evidence before they will accept the message. More time and effort are needed with these people, perhaps years.
3) And there are those who will never believe no matter how much proof or evidence is presented to them. Some people may say they will believe if given the proper or convincing evidence, but in fact, they reject everything that are presented with and their request for evidence is not really sincere. It is this latter category of people that the above opening verses are referring to. And they are many examples of such people in the Quran.
The people of Pharoah, for example, said to Prophet Musa in Surah al-Araf 7:132:
وَقَالُواْ مَهۡمَا تَأۡتِنَا بِهِۦ مِنۡ ءَايَةٍ۬ لِّتَسۡحَرَنَا بِہَا فَمَا نَحۡنُ لَكَ بِمُؤۡمِنِينَ — They said (to Moses): “whatever be the signs you bring, to work therewith the sorcery on us, we shall never believe in you.
In addition, Allah addressed Prophet Musa and said in verse 146 of the same surah:
سَأَصۡرِفُ عَنۡ ءَايَـٰتِىَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَتَكَبَّرُونَ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ بِغَيۡرِ ٱلۡحَقِّ وَإِن يَرَوۡاْ ڪُلَّ ءَايَةٍ۬ لَّا يُؤۡمِنُواْ بِہَا وَإِن يَرَوۡاْ سَبِيلَ ٱلرُّشۡدِ لَا يَتَّخِذُوهُ سَبِيلاً۬ وَإِن يَرَوۡاْ سَبِيلَ ٱلۡغَىِّ يَتَّخِذُوهُ سَبِيلاً۬ۚ ذَٲلِكَ بِأَنَّہُمۡ كَذَّبُواْ بِـَٔايَـٰتِنَا وَكَانُواْ عَنۡہَا غَـٰفِلِينَ — Those who behave arrogantly on the earth in defiance of right them― will I turn away from My signs even if they see all the signs, they will not believe in them; and if they see the way of right conduct, they will not adopt it as the way; but if they see the way of error, that is the way they will adopt; For they have rejected Our signs, and failed to take warning from them.
Of course, we have no way of knowing in advance which category a particular individual falls into and thus we cannot say that Allah will never guide a person. And we cannot rely on a person’s current state as an indicator of what they will decide to do later. Many formerly wicked and evil people who were actually hostile to Islam eventually became Muslim.
But we should also be careful to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that if only we possessed the right words or arguments we could convince a person of the truth of what we are saying. The prophets came with direct revelation — and in some cases miracles — from Allah, yet many people who heard them did not accept what these prophets had to say. And our powers of argumentation cannot be better than those of the prophets. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was unable to convince his own uncle Abu Talib to become Muslim and he sadly died a non-believer.
Allah says to the Prophet (pbuh) in Surah Al-Qasas 28:56:
إِنَّكَ لَا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۚ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ
You cannot guide whom you love, but Allah guides whom He wills, and He knows best those who are guided.
Allah futher says in Surah al-Anaam 6:125:
فَمَنْ يُرِدِ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَهْدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ ۖ وَمَنْ يُرِدْ أَنْ يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاءِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَجْعَلُ اللَّهُ الرِّجْسَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
Whomever Allah wills to guide, He expands his chest for submission. And Whomever He wills to lead astray, He makes his chest narrow and constricted, as if he were ascending up the sky. Thus Allah lays defilement upon those who do not believe.
Allah guides whom He wills and we are not responsible for that guidance. And if He does not guide someone there is nothing we can do about that. What we are responsible for is to present the message in the best we can and leave the rest up to Allah. And we must not give up hope if they initially reject what we have to say. And if they die in unbelief then we accept the decree of Allah even if it leaves us with a heavy heart.