Introduction to 'Ilm-al-Kalam
Martyr Murtada Mutahhari
10. Retribution (al-wa’d wa al-wa’id)
“Wa’d” means promising award and “wa’id” means threat of punishment. The Mu’tazilah believe that God does not break His own promises (all Muslims unanimously accept this) or forego His threats, as stated by the Qur’anic verse regarding Divine promise:
“Indeed God does not break the promise.” (13:31)
Accordingly (the Mu’tazilah say), all threats addressed to the sinners and the wicked such as the punishments declared for an oppressor, a liar or a wine imbiber, will all be carried out without fail, except when the sinner repents before death. Therefore, pardon without repentance is not possible.
From the viewpoint of the Mu’tazilah, pardon without repentance implies failure to carry out the threats (wa’id), and such an act, like breaking of promise (khulf al-wa’d),is “qabih”, and so impossible. Thus the Mu’tazilite beliefs regarding Divine retribution and Divine forgiveness are interrelated, and both arise from their belief in inherent good and evil of deeds determinable by reason.