Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Chapter 2, Verse 119
We have sent you with the truth, bearing good news and warning. You will not be responsible for the inhabitants of the Blaze. (Chapter 2: Verse 119)
The verse starts with the pronoun 'We.' The plural pronoun is used in many verses of the Quran where Allah refers to Himself. Why plural, you may ask? Because it implies majesty and grandeur. This sort of expression is also used by leaders, kings and royals. It is as if the majesty of a person harnesses the different talents of many people, and qualifies him or her for making decisions as head of state. Then, these decisions are implemented jointly by the police, judicial authorities, state, the armed forces and so on.
God Almighty possesses absolute perfection in all attributes necessary for the execution of a task. Hence, when God discuses a matter which requires the totality of talents, He refers to himself as ‘We.’ Here is an example of a verse about revealing the Quran:
Indeed it is We, We Who send down the Reminder in parts, and it is indeed We Who are its Guardian. (15:09)
But when He Almighty talks about His Oneness in worship, He uses the singular pronoun as the following verse illustrates:
Assuredly, it is I, I am Allah, there is no deity except Me. So worship Me, and establish the Prayer for My remembrance. (20:14)
Note that, in such verses, Allah does not say ‘worship us.’ rather, He employs the singular pronoun. When the discussion relates to God's worship and oneness it is singular, and it is plural in verses that reflect His greatness and grandeur. The use of the plural so we understand that an action is not the result of God’s power alone, knowledge alone, wisdom or mercy alone. In fact, the action is the result of all God's attributes of perfection.
‘We have sent you with the truth’ What is the truth? It is that which is verified and confirmed; it does not change and cannot be contradicted. Say, for example, that you witnessed a car accident; the police may come and ask you about the details of what you saw. If you are truthful, you can repeat your story with all its details regardless of how many times you are asked. But if you lie, then your statement will change with time and your story will start to breakdown. A famous adage goes: “If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) was sent with the truth. His task was to convey it to mankind, and the truth will remain until the day of resurrection.
The verse continues: 'bearing good news and warning.' good news means information about an upcoming event that will make you happy; its opposite 'a warning' refers to information about an upcoming unpleasant event, so you may plan to avoid it. But what is the Good news God is referring to? and more importantly what is the warning about? The messenger of God gives good tidings to the believers about the pleasures of paradise, and warns the disbelievers of the punishment of hellfire. However, before you bring good news and before you warn people, you must convey God’s teachings. In other words, in order to be fair, you have to present your case, and lay the rules first; Then, whoever believes and follow God's teachings will expect good news, and whoever disbelieves and strays away is forewarned. God says:
Whoever accepts guidance does so for his own good; whoever strays does so at his own peril. No soul will bear another’s burden, nor do We punish until We have sent a messenger.(17:15)
Allah addresses His messenger Muhammad with ‘You will not be responsible for the inhabitants of the Blaze.' God is comforting the prophet (peace be upon him) that he will not be questioned about the actions of those who end up in hellfire. The prophet's mission is to deliver God's message, not to make sure that every person is guided. God says to Muhammad:
Yet it may be that you will torment yourself with grief, chasing after them, if they do not believe in this Message. (18:6)
and in another chapter:
Perhaps you will destroy yourself with grief because they will not become believers. If We had wished, We could have sent them down a sign from heaven, at which their necks would stay bowed in utter humility. (26:3-4)
If God wanted to force you to believe in Him, then neither you -nor anyone else- would have had a choice. But the Lord wants you to turn to Him with your heart and mind, not out of fear or subjugation. He gave you the freedom of choice either to believe in Him or disbelieve. Thus, it is not the duty of a Muhammad -or any of God's messengers- to compel anyone to accept faith. Allah, with all His love and mercy, comforts the prophet not to preoccupy his heart with the disbelievers, because once he delivers the message and warns them, his duty is done. We testify that he, peace be upon him, has carried out his task to perfection.
The last part of the verse refers to ‘the inhabitants of the Blaze' The blaze, or hellfire is translated from the Arabic origin 'Jaheem', which is derived from the verb ‘Jamaha.’ It refers to something that is irate and uncontrollable. It is used to describe a bucking horse, or an uncontrollable fire with flames spread so far that it devours and burns everything in its way.