There is a more detailed treatment of this question here http://free-minds.org/does-god-lead-people-astray , but I wish to add some thinking on the question…
The citation link I provided above offers many verses relevant to the issue. I can add one extract from the Quran, from chapter 36, verses 7-10:
- The truth has already been manifested to most of them, but they continue to fail to be secure in it
- We have made their necks braced, up to their chins, so their heads cannot turn
- We obstructed their front and their rear, and covered them, so they cannot see.
- It is the same whether you alert them or not, they will not be secure in belief
Does this mean God misguided these folks, and then will go on to punish them?
Firstly, there are numerous verses that state that each soul shall get what it deserves, such as Quran 41.46: “Whoever does good, it is for his own soul, and whoever does evil, it is against it; and your Lord is not in the least unjust to his servants.”
So let me explain…
It is not God’s will to lead astray and then to punish people, but it is God’s law to maintain and uphold the immutability, i.e. unchangeability of the laws of nature.
This is perhaps difficult, but let me try a bit more, at the hand of an example.
In the book “Our Godly Struggle”, down-loadable from this site, an explanation is given of how smaller actions and thoughts inevitably leads to greater consequences. For example, if you feed yourself a constant diet of pornography, you will cross healthy sexual practice, and end up crossing boundaries. Carry on feeding yourself sexual imagery and arousal mechanisms, and you may cross into sexual obsession, then sexual deviancy, and then even sexual sadism. Eventually, the natural form of healthy sexual fulfillment will make way for criminal predatory or self-destructive behavior.
When God states that he has blinded you to the truth, or misguided you, what He is saying is that, due to the path you have chosen to stick to, he has made that reality incumbent or inevitable to you. HE HAS MADE THE CONSEQUENCES OF REJECTING THE HEALTHY PATH YOUR DESTINY. In my example, the sexual deviant or predator is blinded or misguided by God, because he or she is rejecting the original healthy course of development, and choosing a shady and murky alternative that is based on satisfying narrow urges.
Now lets read the verses above again:
- We have made their necks braced, up to their chins, so their heads cannot turn (i.e. We have made them immune to the truth, because of their failure to reason)
- We obstructed their front and their rear, and covered them, so they cannot see. (i.e. They are frozen in a state of evil, and blinded to anything else, because they refuse to accept reason)
- It is the same whether you alert them or not, they will not be secure in belief (i.e. as long as they are in this state, nature will take its course, and they will not believe)
God certainly does not do the illogical and sadistic thing to create people, misguide them, and then throw them in hell for being misguided. Instead God creates people, then offers them the best possible way to end up successfully, and also points out that, should we choose the low road of failure, that His natural law will take its course.