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Sura 76
Aya 3
إِنّا هَدَيناهُ السَّبيلَ إِمّا شاكِرًا وَإِمّا كَفورًا

Ali Unal

And We have shown him the right way, whether he be grateful (and follow this way) or ungrateful (and follow the way opposed to the right one).1
  • God has created each human being with a disposition and capacity to believe in God and follow His way, and endowed him or her accordingly with the necessary faculties. This is His guidance based on, or originating in, His creation, as pointed out in 30: 30: So set your whole being upon the true religion (of Islam) as one of pure faith (free from unbelief, polytheism, and hypocrisy). This is the original pattern belonging to God on which He has originated humankind. No change can there be in God’s creation. This is the upright, ever-true Religion, but most of the people do not know. (See also Appendix 13.) Out of His special compassion, He also sent us Messengers and showed us His way. Further than that, He made following His way very easy for humankind through the character and leadership of those Messengers. He declares: Messengers (have been sent as) bearers of glad tidings and warners, so that people might have no argument against God after the Messengers (had come to them). And God is All-Glorious with irresistible might, All-Wise (4: 165). This is His showing of His right way. However, He has created humankind as distinct from other creatures and endowed us with free will; and so, He does not compel us to choose or follow His way. He has left it to free choice – such that we can be grateful and choose His way, or be ungrateful and choose our own way. But He has also informed humankind explicitly of the consequence of our choices.
    So, humankind divides into two main groups after God’s guidance is conveyed to them: those who accept God’s guidance and follow it, and those who reject it. Every one of them will be treated in the Hereafter according tohis or her choice. However, there is another group made up of those to whom the Divine guidance has not been conveyed or who have not been able to find it due to certain circumstances. They are the ones mentioned in 4: 98: Except those truly oppressed among the men, and the women, and the children altogether without means and not guided to a way (to emigrate, and including those who, in their lifetime, have not had a means to be guided to faith.) For those (while their circumstances are unchanged, it is expected that) God will not hold them accountable and will excuse them. Assuredly God is One Who excuses much, All-Forgiving (4: 98–99).
    God will treat them in the Hereafter as He wills. However, it is greatly hoped that He will not punish particularly those among them who believe in God and do not oppress others, nor commit certain major sins such as murder, adultery, and the usurpation of others’ rights, such as are abhorrent to human conscience.