My question relates to so-called contradictions in the Holy Quran. I have been presented with a number of them, and would be grateful if you can shed some light on some.
Please review the following verses:
32: 12. Say, `The angel of death that has been put in charge of you will cause you to die; then to your Lord will you be brought back.’
47: 28. But how will they fare when the angels will cause them to die, smiting their faces and their backs ?
39: 43. Allah takes away the souls of men at the time of their death; and of those also that are not yet dead, during their sleep. Then HE withholds those against which HE has decreed death, and sends back the others till an appointed term. In that, surely, are Signs for a people who reflect.
Can you please inform us of the explanation of these, as people have attacked the Quran claiming this is a contradiction.
The contradictions you have been presented with are related to the cause of physical death. The presenters’ contention is that in two of the Surahs cited (32:11 & 47:27) angels cause death while in Surah 39:42 it is “Allah that causes death” of people. It will be evident from the following explanation that the presenters have misconstrued the verses, therefore, rendering them “contradictions” in their minds. The following, with God’s will, shall clarify that there is absolutely no foundation to the presenters’ argument and will show that the verses cited do not contradict each other in anyway.
I will humbly adjust the referred verses to their correct citation and quote them below for the purpose of my explanation:
Say: ‘The Angel of Death, put in charge of you, will (duly) take your souls: then shall ye be brought back to your Lord. (Al-Sajadah 32: 11)
But how (will it be) when the angels take their souls at death, and smite their faces and their backs? (Muhammad 47: 27)
It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who reflect. (Al-Zumar 39: 42)
These seemingly contradictory verses are related to the linguistic style of the Qur’an. It should be appreciated that the Qur’an is discussing “death” and how its brought about while informing us about it from different perspectives. To simplify this understanding I will use the analogy of Soccer (a similar analogy was used by Moiz Amjad for a previous query): Let’s say your “friend” watched a match between Brazil versus Germany and he’s telling you about the events. He says, “Brazil drove the ball up the field and scored on Germany.” Later he mentions, again, how beautifully Ronaldo (the Brazilian player) scored on the German team. He then tells you how the Brazilian coach outsmarted the German coach by setting up the play to score the winning goal.
Keeping in mind the analogy we can now better discuss the above mentioned verses.
In the first verse cited, note the words “put in charge of you”. These words clearly imply that different angels may be put in charge of various people. Thus, it would not be incorrect to say that “angels” cause people to die. Here the “Angel” is analogous to Ronaldo in our example.
In the next verse it is the “angels” who cause people to die. If comprehended correctly it should be clear that this verse does not contradict the previous verse as it is reporting the same situation from a different perspective, just as in our analogy. Here, in this verse, the “angels” are analogous to the Brazilian team.
The third verse cited postulates that Allah takes away the souls of the dead. Again, this does not contradict the two cited verses. Here God is analogous to the “coach” who orchestrated the entire win. Getting back to our present contention, it is important to note further that the angels do not make their own decisions (just as the players don’t design the plays) regarding when the particular person that is put in their charge is to die. Only God decides about the timing of each person’s death. From this perspective, it is God, who puts people to death.
Thus, in simple words, the decision regarding the death of each individual is taken by God (the third cited verse) and subsequently, this decision is implemented by the angels (second cited verse), in such a way that, each angel implements God’s decision on the particular person who is put in charge of him (first cited verse).
Clearly the concepts expressed are of a linguistic nature. They mention the process of death and its implementation from different points of references just as your “friend” would tell you the same details of the game from different perspectives. Considering all the points made I see no reason for the claims of contradiction.
I hope I have clarified the issue.
God knows best.