Quranic Reflection No. 323 Āyat 35:43 – Rebounding of evil plots

وَلَا يَحِيقُ الْمَكْرُ السَّيِّئُ إِلَّا بِأَهْلِهِ
walā yahīqul-makrus-sayyi’u illā bi-ahlih
The evil plot will beset none but the its authors
(Sūrat Fatir, No. 35, Āyat 43)

One of the patterns established in God’s ways is that those who plot evil will suffer the consequences of their plots themselves. This is a reality mentioned in this verse as part of the practices and ways of God which do not change.

To understand the depth of this verse it is necessary to know the meanings of some of the words in it:
Yahīqu  is to surround, encompass, hem in, to come down on. The negative effects of those who plot evil come down on, and surround, the plotters themselves.
Makr means to plan or scheme to prevent a person from carrying out his aim. Makr is of two types. It could be good such as when the plan is to stop a person from carrying out a wrong action. Thus the Quran refers to Allah as the best of those who practice makr (Q 3:54). He prevents and annuls the actions of those who plot against Him and His religion.  Makr is negative when the plan is to stop a person from good actions. Those who do makr for that reason are the plotters of evil.

According to ‘Allāmah Tabātabā’ī in Tafsīr al-Mīzān the evil plot affects the party intended but its effects cannot stay with them for long. However much it hurts them, it does pass on and cannot remain forever. On the other hand, the stigma of an evil plot stays on the soul of the plotter.  The negative consequences rebound and become a part of his own life both in this world and in the Hereafter. It contaminates his mental, emotional and spiritual state. It affects his relationship with others. Most importantly it affects his relationship with his Lord becoming a barrier to spirituality and perfection, the real goals of human life.

This reality has been alluded to in other verses of the Quran. Allah says: O Mankind! Your violations are only to your own detriment (Q 10:23); and whosoever breaks his oath does so to the harm of his own soul (Q 48:10). Any wrong and evil action comes back to haunt the owner of the actions. There is nothing gained from negative actions.

The rebounding of makr to the plotter himself is an important truth to remember. Amīrul Mu’minīn (a) has said: One who schemes is afflicted by his own scheming and Whoever plots against people, Allah, the Glorified, turns his plot back on his neck (Ghurar al-Hikam, p. 962).Those who plot to hurt others and put out the light of virtue and truth will eventually bear the brunt of their own plotting. It will come back to them in ways they had not expected or envisioned. It may take time but it is a reality that will not change. The stories of the Prophets and Imams all show this reality. The story of Nimrod’s desire to burn Prophet Abraham, the plot of Pharaoh to discredit Prophets Moses and Aron, the unbeliever’s plan to expel the Holy Prophet (s) from Makkah, the evil plot of Yazīd to put out the light of the Ahlul Bayt (a) by carrying out massacre in Karbala, the plots of Muslim leaders of the time to stifle the Holy Imams . . . are all part of a pattern. In each case the evil plot rebounded and the one plotted against emerged successful despite all odds.

The reality of the modern day world is also proof of this truth. Despite all the efforts to stigmatize Islam, Muslims are emerging stronger and more vocal than before. Oppression and political plotting is being met with awareness and resistance. New tactics are being used to spread the word and mobilize action. It is a trend that will continue for it is part of the unchanging ways of Allah.

Recite this verse to give yourself hope that evil can never win. That it hurts only the evil doer and plotter himself. Those who conspire against the truth should watch out. It will come back to them and catch them by surprise.

Sources: ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Ghurar al-Hikam, English translation, www.islamquest.net/fa/archive/question/fa8090