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وَمَن يُشَاقِقِ ٱلرَّسُولَ مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ ٱلْهُدَىٰ وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّىٰ وَنُصْلِهِ جَهَنَّمَ وَسَآءَتْ مَصِيراً
And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows other than the way of the believers - We will give him what he has taken and drive him into Hell, and evil it is as a destination.
Qur'an 4:115

There seems to be two possible interpretations of "after guidance has become clear to him" here:

  1. "after guidance has become clear to the Messenger" and
  2. "after guidance has become clear to the person who opposes the Messenger".

The first means after Allah has made the message clear to Muhammad, whereas the second means after the message has reached the person, and it is clear to that person.

I'm not sure which is correct.

Question: Who is "him" in "whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him" in Qur'an 4:115?

The Arabic doesn't seem to make this clear; (his لَه "belonging to a man or boy who you have already talked about"). I didn't find the answer at altafsir.com.

  • Do you mean whom the person was which this verse (or the revelation) refer to? – Medi1Saif Feb 10 '18 at 15:03
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If you mean whom is meant or addressed by this revelation then al-Baghawi in his tafsir says it was To'ama ibn Ubayriq طُعْمَةَ بْنِ أُبَيْرِقٍ (my translation take it with care):

( ومن يشاقق الرسول ) نزلت في طعمة بن أبيرق وذلك أنه لما ظهرت عليه السرقة خاف على نفسه من قطع اليد والفضيحة فهرب إلى مكة وارتد عن الدين

(And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger) ... has been revealed on To'ama ibn Ubayriq, who when it appeared that he has stolen feared from himself and from cutting his hand and the scandal and fled to Mecca and apostatized from the religion (Islam)

In al-Bahr al-Moheet the author pointed at the fact that at first a Jew was falsely accused for robbery (maybe by the monafiqeen among whom Toa'ma was) until the revelation showed off the true culprit.

This is also to some extent covered by at-Tabari who said that To'ama was one of those referred to in (4:105) by:

... And do not be for the deceitful an advocate.

You may also read about his story or his tribe in Jami' at-Tirmdihi.

Scholars therefore also say that among the verses revealed on To'ama and or his tribe you may find:

  • [As for] the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands in recompense for what they committed as a deterrent [punishment] from Allah . And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. (5:38)

and

  • Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly gone far astray. (4:116

as he died as a polytheist, however there are different stories of his death (some say he was stoned after stealing again, some say he died as a stone wall fall on him, some say he found refuge with a tribe and started worshiping their Idole etc.

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It means the person who opposes the Messenger and the way of the believers after being guided i.e an apostate.

إن الذين ارتدوا على أدبارهم من بعد ما تبين لهم الهدى الشيطان سول لهم وأملى لهم

Indeed, those who reverted back [to disbelief] after guidance had become clear to them - Satan enticed them and prolonged hope for them.

Quran 47:25

إن الذين كفروا وصدوا عن سبيل الله وشاقوا الرسول من بعد ما تبين لهم الهدى لن يضروا الله شيئا وسيحبط أعمالهم

Indeed, those who disbelieved and averted [people] from the path of Allah and opposed the Messenger after guidance had become clear to them - never will they harm Allah at all, and He will render worthless their deeds.

Quran 47:32

Regarding the events surrounding the revelation of the verse:

قال العلماء : هاتان الآيتان نزلتا بسبب ابن أبيرق السارق ، لما حكم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عليه بالقطع وهرب إلى مكة وارتد ، قال سعيد بن جبير : لما صار إلى مكة نقب بيتا بمكة فلحقه المشركون فقتلوه ؛ فأنزل الله تعالى : إن الله لا يغفر أن يشرك به إلى قوله : فقد ضل ضلالا بعيدا . وقال الضحاك : قدم نفر من قريش المدينة وأسلموا ثم انقلبوا إلى مكة مرتدين فنزلت هذه الآية ومن يشاقق الرسول .

The Ulema say: Both these verses [4:115 - 4:116] were revealed about Ibn Ubayriq the thief. When the Prophet sentenced him to have his hand cut, he ran off to Mecca and became an apostate. Saeed bin Jubair said: when he came to Mecca he tried to break into a house by scaling a wall, the polytheists caught him and killed him and next verse was revealed. Zihak said: Some people from the Quraish came to Medinah and accepted Islam. Then they became apostates and returned to Mecca, and so this was revealed.

وقال الكلبي ؛ نزل قوله تعالى : نوله ما تولى في ابن أبيرق ؛ لما ظهرت حاله وسرقته هرب إلى مكة وارتد ونقب حائطا لرجل بمكة يقال له : حجاج بن علاط ، فسقط فبقي في النقب حتى وجد على حاله ، وأخرجوه من مكة ؛ فخرج إلى الشام فسرق بعض أموال القافلة فرجموه وقتلوه

Kalbi said: This was revealed about Ibn Ubayriq. When his theft was caught he ran off to Mecca and became an apostate. He tried to scale the wall of a person's house and the wall fell on him. The people found him in this state and exiled him, and he went to Syria. He stole from the caravan and they stoned him to death.

Tafsir Qurtubi

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Rebecca. Within context (of both this particular verse and greater Islamic texts), the second interpretation makes sense because it's establishing that the person being sent to Hell knew what the truth was and opposed anyway and thus that being the reason of being sent to Hell. That's conditional in Islam.

"..never would We punish until We sent a messenger" - Qur'an 17:15

This is not established if you interpret it the first way; guidance becoming clear to the Prophet doesn't mean it has become clear to the person (eg, message didn't reach him yet); and if it hasn't become clear to him (the person) then Allah (ﷻ) wouldn't punish with Hell until it was clear to him. Yet the ayah is saying that person would be driven to Hell. Meaning it must be the first interpretation, that guidance was clear to the person being sent to Hell.

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