Quranic Reflection No. 533. Ayat 3:176 – Being affected by Disbelief.

وَلَا يَحْزُنكَ الَّذِينَ يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْكُفْرِ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ لَن يَضُرُّوا اللَّهَ شَيْئًا
Walā yahzunkal-ladhīna yusāri‘ūna fil-kufr, innahum lan yadurrul-lāha shay’ā
Do not grieve for those who are active in disbelief; they will not hurt Allah in the least.
(Sūrat Āli Imrān, No 3, Āyat 176)

This verse is part of a passage that was revealed about the battle of ‘Uhud. It reassures the Prophet (s) and tells him not to be grieved at the disbelief and hypocrisy of the people. It is also a reminder for all believers not to be affected by the forces of disbelief that seem to be advancing and getting stronger in society.

Tafsīr Majma’ al-Bayān
 states that this verse consoled the Prophet sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam who was dejected at the lack of faith of the people around him. Perhaps he thought their refusal to accept belief in Allah ‘azza wajall, reflected a deficiency in how he conducted his mission. But this verse reassures him that the disbelief of people is related to themselves and not to him.

Every person with faith is affected by the rise and strength of the forces of disbelief. Seeing people join hands to put out the light of Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā and apparently succeed in it is grievous to the believer. One who loves Allah wishes to see His name uppermost and wants people to have awe for Almighty Allah. They think of the victory of disbelievers over believers as a blow against the will of Allah (swt). It is hurtful to the believer. Truth should overcome falsehood, not the other way around.

This verse reminds believers that the disbelievers do not hurt Allah through their disbelief. It is they themselves who stray from the path of perfection. It is also a sign of the free will given to them. They can choose to believe or disbelieve.

The will of Allah (swt) will always be victorious. His light cannot be put out by the forces of disbelief. He says: They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light though the faithless should be averse (Q 61:8). He also says: and He made the word of the faithless the lowest; and the word of Allah is the highest; and Allah is All-mighty, All-wise (Q 9:40). Amīrul Mu’minīn Imam Ali has said: Every victor other than Allah, is vanquished (Ghurar, H 7707)

Believers need not go through unnecessary anxiety and should preserve their emotional health through thinking correctly. Let this verse remind us that we should not feel overcome by the rise in disbelief. All control is in the hands of Allah and the forces of disbelief cannot eliminate the religion of Allah. People cannot hurt Allah or change His plan through their disbelief.

Sources: Shaykh Tabarsī, Tafsīr Majma‘ al-Bayān; ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Agha Muhsin Qarā’atī, Tafsīr Nūr