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Salam. I have been facing problems trying to inteprt The following verse. Surah 3:54 which states “Then they schemed (against the Messiah), and Allah countered their schemes by schemes of His own. Allah is the best of schemers” What troubles me was the part in bold. Schemers and deceivers can be seen as the same thing. God can’t be deceiving. There are other verses similar to that as well like surah 7:99. But of course like all things in Islam it requires a bit thinking to what is truely meant by this verse. Perhaps you guys may help. Thanks in advance.

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Allah (ﷻ) is Perfect. Part of His Perfection is that He cannot be undermined by those who take Him as their enemy (ie, the disbelievers). He thwarts their plots against Him and His followers, and implements counter plots to prevent further transgressions.

The problem in your understanding is your implied premise that scheming/deceiving is immoral thereby concluding that Allah (ﷻ) cannot scheme/deceive. But it's a false premise. Reality is that plotting/planning/scheming/deceiving (makr) can be good or bad. Anything 'good', Allah (ﷻ) is at the forefront on and the best at. Everything Allah (ﷻ) does is good, including His plots against evildoers and deceiving which stops evil in its tracks.

(Note: This even applies to humans. Do we say that a good person's plot/scheme against criminals which saves numerous lives is "wrong"? No, we do not. Even disbelievers cannot argue with this point. We all understand the greater good that results. But sometimes humans cannot see the greater good in Allah's (ﷻ) decisions or commands. That is their own issue; has nothing to do with Allah or His Attributes).

On the other hand, plots can be used for evil. When the evildoers plot, they do so in order to cause chaos and harms in society.. in which case it is bad. Per the Quran's example, they plotted to shed the blood of an innocent person (ie, Isa). -- Alhamdulillah, their plot was foiled by Allah's (ﷻ) plot, whose plots are for the good of society. In this case, his plot saved that innocent person (Isa).

(Note: Personally I believe His plot stopped further turmoil.. because really, if the disbelievers believed Jesus hadn't been killed, they would consider the "threat" to still exist, thereby causing more chaos in society just to stay in control/power. Because they were deceived into thinking he was killed by them, they thought the threat was neutralized. In this way, Allah's (ﷻ) scheme against the evildoers saved the Messiah and likely the people too. -My personal independent reasoning).

So the bottom line is that Makr (plotting/scheming/etc) can be good or bad. Thus, Allah's (ﷻ) plotting is good, praiseworthy and part of His Perfection; He always is the Most High. All that said, He said He is the best of those who plan/scheme... but he never called himself 'The Deceiver' (Al Makir) because of exactly that reason ie Makr can be good or bad, whereas His attributes don't go both ways.

For more scholarly sources please read IslamQA's explanation or Islamweb's explanation.

  • Good answer. This is actually a very interesting response. – Damion Nov 27 '17 at 22:19

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