Quranic Reflection No. 440. Āyat 35:43 – Plotting hurts the one who plots

وَلَا يَحِيقُ الْمَكْرُ السَّيِّئُ إِلَّا بِأَهْلِهِ
Walā yahīqul-makrus-sayyi’u illā bi-ahlih
Evil schemes beset only their authors
(Sūrat Fatir, No 35, Āyat 43)

This verse talks about the people who rejected the message brought by the Holy Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālhi wasallam and plotted to discredit it. The above phrase from the verse mentions an important truth – those who plot evil will only harm themselves through that evil. It will come back to haunt them and besiege them in ways they had not anticipated.

‘Makr’ is a plan to stop someone from achieving what they want to do through trickery and guise. That can be of two types. One is a positive way in which a person is turned towards good. This type of plotting is attributed to Allah – Allah is the best of Devisers (Q 3:54). The other form is reprehensible, where the plot is to make someone turn towards wrong and evil. The word ‘yahīqu’ means to come down, affect, or surround. This reflects the idea that although in the short term an evil plot might hurt others, in the long run it will affect the plotters themselves.

One may ask: How does a plot bounce back to hurt the schemer himself? Even though the plot may initially hurt the one plotted against, the following effects can in the long run be detrimental to the plotter:
1. The negativity of the plot affects his thinking and inner being, sometimes forming a barrier for a clear vision. It intensifies the inner darkness already present within him.
2. The plot is recorded and becomes a part of him, following him in the Afterlife.
3. It is possible that if God wishes, the plot will eventually unravel while in this world and the schemer will see what he had been trying to prevent.
4. The schemer will have to face retribution from God for the wrong scheme that he perpetrated.

Other verses of the Quran also elucidate this understanding of wrong coming back to hurt the one who wrongs. The Quran says: O mankind! Your rebellion is only to your own detriment, [being merely] the enjoyment of the worldly life; then to Us will be your return, when We will inform you about what you used to do (Q 10:23) and Whosoever breaks his oath breaks it only to his own detriment (Q 48:10).

In the life of the Prophet (s) the enemies plotted to stop him from spreading his message. They attempted to slander the Prophet by accusing him of various things. They used authority, threats, bribery, etc. to prevent people from inclining towards the worship of One God. But eventually their plots failed, and they had to face that which they had plotted against. This can be often seen in history, in the story of Fir‘awn and Hāmān, in that of Namrūd, and in the other tyrants of human civilizations.

We can see many examples of this in the world and in our daily lives. People who wrong others do not get off scot-free completely. The effects of their actions impair them in many ways, even though they may not realize it. Modern day conspiracies against groups of people do not last long and often make the targeted audience bounce back even stronger than before. Let this verse remind you of the gravity of scheming against someone to make them do wrong. It is an action that will have serious consequences for the doer.

Sources: Shaykh Tabarsī, Tafsīr Majma’ al-Bayān; ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh