“Question to Muslims: Allah admits to be the BEST DECEIVER in the Quran (3:54, 7:99, 8:30, 10:21, 13:42). If the Quran is Allah’s words, why would Muslims believe a deceiver’s words?”
The questioner was being sarcastic and attempting what’s known as the argument from absurdity, but nonetheless, we must answer the question. This is an example of how aqida ‘develops’: an opponent to the truth poses a question for the sake of putting doubt in the hearts of Muslims, and the ulama become obligated to answer it and erase these doubts. The correct answer becomes part of Sunni aqida, and the point will be included in future books to pre-empt the student in case he receives this question.
There are two parts to this question:
the truthfulness of Allah’s word
the meaning of The Best of Deceivers (khayr al-makireen).
Both have very simple answers.
As for the truthfulness of Allah’s word, it is the truth by necessity because there is no external force that can verify the Creator. He only verifies Himself through His creation. There is no assessing God’s character and checking up on His track record. It is not possible for the creation to grade the Creator and then decide to trust Him. Reliability is like causation. We’re always leaning on the word of somebody else. But there must be a first source, an absolute source that is truthful by necessity. In sum, we trust regular people because we can assess their track record; we believe prophets because of their miracles; and we believe Allah because His word is inherently true.
From another perspective, Allah’s attributes are all one. His speech and actions are both in accord with His knowledge. Hence, His word is also His actions, which manifests as creation. Truth, after all, is that the spoken word and the observed reality are one and the same.
We’ll now turn to the description “the best of deceivers.”
The major explanations of the Quran make it plainly clear that Divinely ordained “deception” is that deceivers and liars fall into the holes they dig for others.
Deception is only for those who deceive. It is not for the honest.
Ibn Juzay says: It is their own plot which they fall into.
أي لا يحيط وبالُ المكر السيء إلا بمن مكره ودبره، وقال كعب لابن عباس: إن في التوراة من حفر حفرة لأخيه وقع فيها فقال ابن عباس: أنا أجد هذا في كتاب الله: ولا يحيق المكر السيء إلا بأهله
Al-Maturidi: It is His punishment for the people who plot.
هو في الدنيا من أنواع العذاب والقتل الذي نزل بهم، ويحتمل أن يكون ذلك في الآخرة، والله أعلم
Al-Baghawi: The harm of their plots returns upon them.
وبال مكرهم راجع إليهم
Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi quoting Abd Allah al-Razi: You may say many deceivers manage to deceive their enemies and escape without harm. Hence, this verse provides a general principle, not an absolute rule.
وقال أبو عبد الله الرازي: فإن قلت: كثيراً نرى الماكر يفيده مكره ويغلب خصمه بالمكر، والآية تدل على عدم ذلك فالجواب من وجوه: أحدها: أنه عامّ، وهو الأصح، فإنه عليه السلام نهى عن المكر وقال: لا تمكروا ولا تعينوا ماكراً، فإنه تعالى يقول: ولا يحيق المكر السيء إلا بأهله، فعلى هذا يكون ذلك الممكور به أهلاً فلا يزد نقصاً
The one who deceives and gets away with it may have only the appearance of outward success, and may be miserable internally. Lastly, matters are judged by their ending, meaning that the Afterlife is also part of the equation of success and failure.
Since we have established that Allah’s word is always the truth, it is not conceivable that His deception comes in the form of lying. Rather, it comes in the form of the deceiver falling into his own plot or some other plot that he did not account for.
In sum, when it comes to Allah’s word (the Quran), it is an essential part of our belief that there is no shadow of a doubt about its truthfulness, nor is anything otherwise even possible, and that deception is only for liars and those who seek to deceive themselves. The deception itself is in the form of the deceiver falling into his own plot or a harm he did not calculate, as opposed to Allah tricking him through direct misinformation or lying.