Pearl of Wisdom
'Islam is submission, submission is conviction, conviction is attestation [to the truth], and attestation is testifying, and testifying is fulfilment [of one's obligations], and fulfilment is action.'
Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib [as]
Nahj al-Balagha, Saying 125
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"Therefore do not think Allah (to be One) failing in His promise to His prophets; surely Allah is Mighty, Lord of retribution" (Qur’an, 14:47).
Al-Muntaqim, the Avenger, splits the spines of those who deviate from His path, Who increases the penalty of those who oppress in the land, after alerting them and repeatedly warning them, and after enabling them to amend, giving them a respite. It implies a much more severe penalty than merely an immediate one.
The word "al-Muntaqim" is derived from the noun intiqam, avenging or seeking revenge against someone. A penalty is not called as such unless the following conditions are met:
1. Clemency reaches the limit of extreme outrage. Allah has said, "On the Day when We seize them with the most violent of seizing; surely We will (then) inflict retribution" (Qur’an, 44:16).
2. A punishment is affected after a period of respite. The Glorified and Exalted One has said, "... and whoever returns to (committing) it, Allah will inflict retribution on him, and Allah is the Mighty, the Lord of Retribution" (Qur’an, 5:95).
3. Such a punishment must require a sort of feeling of spiteful gratification upon seeing one being hurt, something which never happens in the case of the Creator, but it does happen in the case of vicious and spiteful humans. The intiqam, revenge, of a servant of Allah is held commendable only if it is inflicted on His foes (those who deny or disbelieve in Him). The worst of all foes of mankind are their own insinuating selves, the nafs, which is within each and every one of us.
There is no doubt that he has to seek revenge against such nafs.
The Attribute "al-Muntaqim" manifests itself in the body: in the means for its natural defense system when a germ violates the sanctity of the body. These means will then kill the germ as a penalty for such a violation, and they will then purge the body from it. Al-Muntaqim, then, facilitates getting rid of what is bad, harmful, or dangerous.
The discussion of "revenge" occurs in the Holy Qur’an: In Surat al-Ma'ida we read: "O you who believe! Do not kill (any) game while you are on pilgrimage, and whoever among you kills it unintentionally, the compensation (for it) is the like of what he killed from the cattle, as two just persons among you shall judge, as an offering to be brought to the Ka`ba, or the expiation (of it) is the feeding of the poor or the equivalent in fasting, so that he may taste the unwholesome result of his deed; Allah has pardoned what is gone by, and whoever returns (to it), Allah will inflict retribution on him, and Allah is the Mighty, the Lord of Retribution" (Qur’an, 5:95).
The "We" in the phrase "We inflicted retribution" is meant, of course, as a reference to Allah Almighty. It also occurs in several other places throughout the text of the Holy Qur’an such as the following:
We, therefore, inflicted retribution on them and drowned them in the sea... (7:136) So We inflicted retribution on them, and they are both, indeed, on an open road (still) pursued. (15:79) ... then We punished those who were guilty, and helping the believers is ever incumbent upon Us. (30:47) So We inflicted retribution on them then see how the end of those who rejected was. (43:25) Then when they displeased Us, We inflicted retribution on them. (43:55) He has revealed to you the Book with the truth, verifying what is before it, and He revealed the Torah and the Gospel aforetime, guidance for people, and He sent the Furqan (Qur’an). Surely those who disbelieve in the signs of Allah shall have a severe chastisement, and Allah is the Mighty, the Lord of retribution. (3:3-4)
... and Allah is the Mighty, the Lord of retribution. (5:95) Do not, therefore, think Allah (to be) failing in His promise to His Messengers; surely Allah is the Mighty, the Lord of Retribution. (14:47) And whoever Allah guides, there is none that can lead him astray; is not Allah the Mighty, the Lord of Retribution? (39:37) And who is more unjust than one who is reminded of the signs of his Lord then he turns away from them? Surely We will punish the guilty. (32:22) But if We should take you away, still We shall inflict retribution on them. (43:41) On the Day when We seize them with the most violent of seizing, surely We will (then) inflict retribution. (44:16)
Al-Muntaqim intensifies His penalty against the oppressors, causing the criminals to be subjected to His retribution. He sends His messengers supported by His signs and miracles to warn people; so, if warning does not benefit someone, He will surely then inflict His penalty and revenge against him.
Once a person comes to realize that there is nothing small nor big except that there is a penalty for it equal in size and kind, he will certainly fear his Lord and remain alert regarding his wishes and desires for fear of falling into transgression.