This Ayah is one of many Ayahs which are used to indicate a meaning different from the meaning of Allah, and is used by many callers in inappropriate position where it is used for exhorting to change and that it begins first from people then it is done by Allah. They say in their lectures and sermons: Verily, Allah does not change the weakness, difference, and the defeat by enemy unless the people change the evil and the deviation from the Shari`ah in themselves. So, the meaning is: Allah does not change the conditions of people to the better and moving them from a worse condition to a satisfactory one is bound by the change of people to their conditions first.
The referred to Ayah does not mean this and this is not the meaning meant by Allah. It is enough to mention that most commentators do not say this, only Ibn Kathir mentioned that when he mentioned the Hadith of Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) that indicates this meaning, but Ibn Kathir said after mentioning this Hadith: This is Hadith is weird and some narrators are not known to me. (3: 504).
At-Tabary mentioned in his exegesis (Tafsir) Jami` Al Bayan: (13: 81) that the meaning of the Ayah is: Allah does not take away a blessing which He granted to people until they change the obedience which they used to perform. This meaning is mentioned by Ash-Shawkany in Fathul-Qadir (3: 69)
and also was mentioned by Al Alusy in Rawh Al M`any (13: 196).
Moreover, Al Fakhr Ar-Razy reported in his Tafsir (5: 188) the consensus of commentators about this meaning and said: This is the most correct.
Al Amin Ash-Shanqity mentioned in his Tafsir Adwa' Al Bayan (3: 98) conclusive words about the meaning of this Ayah: "The meaning is: Allah does not take away a blessing from some people until they change obedience and righteous act and explained that in other positions such as Allah's Saying: "That is so because Allâh will never change a grace which He has bestowed on a people until they change what is in their ownselves. And verily, Allâh is All-Hearer, All-Knower."
[Surat Al Anfal: 53]
And Allah's Saying: "And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much."
[Surat Ash-Shura: 30].
As for Allah's Saying: "Until they change what is in themselves," the change may occur from some of people as happened on the Battle of Uhud that some archers changed obedience and the chaos took place. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked: Shall we be perished while we have the pious people among us? He said: Yes, if evil pervails. This saying, which many callers repeat is contrary to most commentators' view, is refuted by the context of the Ayah itself. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "But when Allâh wills a people's punishment, there can be no turning back of it."
[Surat Ar-Ra`d: 11].
This indicates that the meaning is: The change from better to worse. The laws of Allah in His Servants refute this meaning because Allah (Glory be to Him) is Merciful with His Creature because whenever they started to deviate from the right course, He sent them Messengers to fix their conditions, as it is a saying that spreads despair in souls. And Allah knows best.
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