The Maturidi understanding is that those who are born without revelation (i.e those on a desert island), it is still required of them to find God through their 'Aql. Does anyone know how classical Maturidi scholars have squared this with Quran (17:15), which states that God does not punish until sending a messenger?

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Maturidi says in his tafsir of the verse:

وقوله: (وما كُنّا مُعَذِّبِينَ حَتّى نَبْعَثَ رَسُولًا). التعذيب يكون على وجوه ثلاثة:

أحدها: يعذبهم في الدنيا ابتداء بتعذيب؛ امتحانًا وابتلاء بلا جريمة كانت منهم؛ كقوله: (ونَبْلُوكُمْ بِالشَّرِّ والخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً)، وقوله: (وبَلَوْناهُمْ بِالحَسَناتِ والسَّيِّئاتِ)، ونحوه؛ فيكون تنبيهًا وتذكيرًا لهم لا تكفيرًا.

والثاني: يعذب تعذيب العناد والمكابرة، وهو تعذيب إهلاكِ استئصالٍ؛ فهو عقوبة لهم، وموعظة للمتقين، وعبرة لغيره، وهو الذي يأتي على أثر وعيد.

والثالث: عذاب الموعود في الآخرة؛ يقول: وما كنا معذبين في الآخرة حتى نبعث رسولًا في الدنيا.

والأشبه أن يكون ما ذكر من التعذيب هو تعذيب استئصال، واللَّه أعلم.

My translation:

And Allah says ⟪And never would We punish until We sent a messenger.⟫

"Punishment" could be one of three:

  1. He punishes (i.e. causes them pain) in this world from the beginning to test them without any crime they committed. It is like ⟪And We test you with evil and with good as trial⟫ (21:35) and ⟪And We tested them with good [times] and bad that perhaps they would return [to obedience].⟫ (7:168) etc. So, it would be a warning and reminder to them, not as retribution.

  2. He punishes them for stubbornness and arrogance i.e. the punishment of destruction and extermination. It is retribution for them, a reminder for the believers, and a lesson for others. [...]

  3. The punishment promised in the afterlife. He says: We would not punish in the afterlife until we sent a messenger in the world.

It is mostly likely that what He mentions of punishment [here] is the punishment of extermination. And Allah knows best.

So, it seems they interpret the punishment in the verse as the punishment of the world and think this verse is similar to the following verses:

And We did not destroy any city except that it had warners (26:208)

And never would your Lord have destroyed the cities until He had sent to their mother a messenger reciting to them Our verses. And We would not destroy the cities except while their people were wrongdoers. (28:59)

  • Jazakallah khair - thank you, this answers my question & makes sense.
    – ahmedj
    Aug 30, 2022 at 14:23

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