Istidraj means that God constantly gives blessings to some sinful people, and these blessings cause them to be more heedless and closer to damnation. According to the rules of creation and the principle of free will, incorrigible sinners are left to their own devices, and they are even given more blessings until they reach the last stage of downfall and deserve the maximum punishment. Istidraj is considered to be only for those who are drowned in sins, those who are utterly rebellious and disobedient to God that no warning will be effective for them.
Meaning of Istidraj
Lexically, istidraj means to go up or down to or from a place step by step or gradually. Technically, istidraj means that one who is immersed in sins and transgressions and does not get awake by the hardships and calamities is given more blessings and comfort by God instead of calamities and misfortunes so that he will be more heedless and will consequently refrain from self-improvement and reaching perfection. This divine tradition is called “istidraj.” A derivative of this word is used in the Qur’an, although the exact word of istidraj is not: “As for those who deny Our signs, We will draw them gradually [into ruin], whence they do not know.” (7:182)
According to the verses of the Qur’an, God awakens the sinners if they are not immersed in sin; He does that by various means – sometimes by worldly punishments proportionate to their deeds so that they repent and come back to the right path. These are the ones who are still worthy of guidance and are subject to the grace of God, and in fact, their punishments and sorrows are counted as a blessing for them.
People for whom istidraj happens
According to the exegetes of the Qur’an, this divine tradition, istidraj, is for those people who are drowned in sins, those who are utterly rebellious and disobedient to God that no warning will be effective for them. According to the rules of creation and the principle of free will, incorrigible sinners are left to their own devices, and they are even given more blessings until they reach the last stage of downfall and deserve the maximum punishment. This is called the punishment of istidraj.
Based on some verses of the Qur’an and considering the punishment of istidraj, some exegetes of the Qur’an believe that sometimes God bestows abundant blessings upon some individuals, and when they are overwhelmed with the joy of victory and glory, He suddenly takes everything from them, so that they suffer maximum punishment in their life in this world: “So when they forgot what they had been admonished of, We opened for them the gates of all [good] things. When they rejoiced in what they were given, We seized them suddenly.” (6:44)
Another harm for sinners
Based on the verses of the Qur’an, the exegetes believe that the grace period given to some sinners is harmful to them. The Qur’an says, “Let the faithless not suppose that the respite that We grant them is good for their souls: We give them respite only that they may increase in sin, and there is a humiliating punishment for them.” (3:178) It also reads, “As for those who deny Our signs, We will draw them gradually [into ruin], whence they do not know.” (7:182)
Istidraj is a general warning to sinners who are immersed in all kinds of blessings. Istidraj teaches us that the delay of punishment is not a reason for the purity and righteousness of a sinner nor the weakness and inability of God. It is always possible that victories and blessings that come to an individual are the preludes to God’s gradual punishment.
- This article is mainly taken from "استدراج" on Persian Wikipasokh.