Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Neither those who disbelieve from among the People nor those who associate partners with God would like anything good to be sent down to you from your Lord, but God chooses for His mercy whoever He will: His bounty has no limits. (Chapter 2: Verse 105)
In the previous verse, we learned how the disbelievers and some of the people of the book went out of their way to mock and harm the prophet (peace be upon him). In this verse, Allah reveals to us the true animosity and hatred they hold towards all the believers. They wish no good for Muslims whatsoever, and based on this knowledge, we should be critical and watchful regarding any matter that they bring to us.
The word 'like' is translated from the Arabic origin ‘ζΟ’ which means the inclination of the heart towards a loved one. If you like someone, you do not treat them the same as a normal person. You may be courteous towards anyone you know, whether you like them or not. However, you usually go out of your way to help someone you like and show him or her affection. To make this clearer, take the example of the following two verses: God Says:
You never find a people who truly believe in God and the Last Day liking those who oppose God and His Messenger, even if they be their parents, or their children, or their brothers and sisters, and their clan. Those in whose hearts God has inscribed faith and has strengthened them with a spirit from Him. And He will admit them into Gardens through which rivers flow, therein to abide. God is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Him. Those are the party of God. Be aware: the party of God are those who are the prosperous. (58:22)
In another verse, He says in regards to parents:
If they strive to make you associate with Me anything about which you have no knowledge, then do not obey them. Yet keep their company in this life correctly and courteously according to what is right, and follow the path of those who turn to Me. You will all return to Me in the end, and I will tell you everything that you have done. (31:15)
At first glance there seems to be a contradiction between the two verses. The first one prohibits you from having any affection for those who oppose God and His Messenger. Yet, in the second verse, Allah advises you to treat your parents courteously with kindness even if they are pushing you to associate partners with God. It is clear that such parents are opposing God and His Messenger, so according to the first verse shouldn't you treat them with contempt? We answer that treating someone courteously can be done regardless if you like them or not. For example, you meet a stranger who is in hardship and you give him or her some money. You have done this act without even knowing the person. But as for those you like, you show them affection, love and treat them with kindness. If your parents are pushing you abandon your faith, Allah is asking you to treat them with respect and courtesy -but not love-.
This brings us back to the verse, the disbelievers and polytheists do not like any good for the believers from God. More specifically, they hate the fact the believers were blessed with revelations, scripture and prophethood. Note that the phrase ‘anything good’ means that they did not wish for any good of any type whatsoever for the believers.
God answers those ill wishes with the phase: 'but God chooses for His mercy whoever He will: His bounty has no limits' Allah left most worldly affairs for people to sort out among themselves. However, the disbelievers want God to subject His scripture and teachings to their whims and desires too. God answers:
They say, ‘Why was this Qur’an not sent down to one of the great men of the two cities?’ Are they the ones who hand out your Lord’s grace? We are the ones who give them their share of livelihood in this world and We have raised some of them above others in rank, so that some may take others into service: your Lord’s grace is better than anything they accumulate. (43:31-32)
The disbelievers, and some people of the book, objected to the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad and questioned why it wasn't sent to one of the societies elites. Allah replied that you do not distribute God’s mercy, rather it is God who distributes among you your livelihood and rank in life. He, the all knowledgeable, the all wise, puts His message and mercy where He sees fit.
In fact, the verb 'chooses' means that there is selection. One party is selected while all others are excluded. Allah grants His mercy to whoever He wills, and the disbelievers have no say or influence on this decision. Their jealousy and hatred only distances them further from God. He says:
They seek to extinguish God’s light with their mouths. Whereas God refuses but to complete His light, even if though the unbelievers detest it. He it is Who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the Religion of truth that He may make it prevail over all religions, however hateful this may be to those who associate partners with God. (9:32,33)
The verse ends with ‘His bounty has no limits.’ Bounty is translated from the Arabic origin ' έΦα ' which is anything in excess of your basic needs. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “whoever has an extra bounty of a ride should offer it to the one who has no ride, and whoever has surplus bounty of food should give it to him who has nothing.'' This concept of bounty, however, applies to humans only. You have basic needs that have to be met in order for you to survive. Moreover, you may have some extra things beyond your immediate needs, but you save them for the future. Allah, on the other hand, is all sufficient and has no needs. So whatever exists in the universe now and in the hereafter are God's bounties, because He is not in need of anything. Allah is no need of His creations. He is the true owner of all great bounties and blessings. Allah is the first who was there before the existence of anything, and He is the last that will remain after all things perish.