Muhammad the Prophet of Mercy


  • bookcover

  • Muhammad the Prophet of Mercy


  • 5. Prostrate before our gods
    to prostrate
    before your God!

    The disbelievers tried to bargain with the Prophet r, saying:

    O Muhammad! Come, let us worship what
    you worship and you worship what we worship so that you and we share the
    matter. If what you worship is better than what we worship, we will take a
    share of it. And if what we worship is better than what you worship, you will
    take a share of it
    .”

    The answer came
    down in Ayat revealed from heaven
    1:

    (Say: “O disbelievers! I do not worship what you
    worship. Nor are you worshipers of what I worship. Nor will I be a worshiper of
    what you worship. Nor will you be worshipers of what I worship. For you is your
    religion, and for me is my religion.”
    )2

    The Arabs before Islam did not deny Allah U,
    but at the same time they did not know Him in the true essence He described
    Himself with: The One God, The Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need.
    They set up partners with Allah in worship and did not make a just estimate of
    Allah such as is due to Him, nor worship Him such as is due to Him.

    They worshipped idols besides Him, which they made to symbolize
    their pious ancestors, great figures of the past or the angels whom they claimed
    to be the daughters of Allah. Or else they just forgot the symbols and
    worshiped them as gods. In all cases, they used these idols as mediators
    between themselves and Allah U, as the Noble Qur’an
    quotes them as saying: (“We
    worship them only that they may bring us near to Allah.”
    )3

    They admitted that it is Allah Who created the heavens and the
    earth, controls the sun and the moon, and sends down rain from the sky, as
    quoted in Surat Al-‘Ankabut: (If
    you asked them, “Who created the heavens and earth and subjected the sun and
    the moon?” they would surely say, “Allah.”
    )4 And: (If you asked
    them, “Who sends down rain from the sky and thereby gives life to the earth
    after its lifelessness?” they would surely say, “Allah.”
    )5 Moreover, Allah superseded their gods in
    their oaths and supplications (i.e. they said, “by Allah” and “O
    Allah
    ”).

    But in spite of their faith in Allah, their Shirk
    corrupted their beliefs, as well as their traditions and rites, to the
    extent that they assigned to their alleged
    gods a portion of their harvest, their cattle, and even their offspring. This
    portion often obliged them to sacrifice their own children.

    The Arabs also believed that they were the true followers of
    the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham r); that they were more
    rightly guided than the People of the Scripture (the Jews and Christians)
    inhabiting the Arabian Peninsula at that time.

    The Jews and Christians preached respectively that Ezra r
    and ‘Isa (Jesus r)
    were the sons of Allah, whereas they, the Arabs, worshiped the angels and jinn
    – the true offspring of Allah as they alleged. Therefore, they considered
    themselves more rightly guided because (as they alleged) the kinship of the
    angels and jinn with Allah was closer than that of Ezra r
    and ‘Isa r,
    which is all absolute Shirk: (They
    join the jinn as partners in worship with Allah, although He has created them
    (the jinn), and they falsely attribute sons and daughters to Him without
    knowledge. Be He Glorified and Exalted above (all) that they attribute to Him.
    )6

    Therefore, when Prophet
    Muhammad
    r came to them and declared his religion to be
    that of
    Ibrahim r, they argued that there was no reason for them to forsake their beliefs and follow Muhammad’s instead.

    At the same time, they
    tried a plan for a middle ground between them and the Messenger of Allah
    r. They suggested to him that he should
    prostrate himself before their gods in return for their prostration before his
    God! And that he should stop censuring
    their
    gods and their manner of worship in return for whatever he stipulated!

    The confusion in their beliefs and their worshiping various
    gods while acknowledging Allah made them feel that the gap between them and
    Prophet Muhammad r
    was not unbridgeable. They believed that an agreement was somehow possible by splitting into two camps that would meet in
    the middle and grant him some personal
    concessions.

    To clear up this
    muddle in their minds and block any future attempts, and to firmly distinguish
    between one worship and another, one doctrine and belief and another, this
    Surah was revealed to the Prophet
    r
    in
    such a decisive, assertive, repetitive tone to demarcate Tawhid7 from Shirk, and to establish a true
    criterion, allowing no bargaining or vain arguments
    .8


    1 Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyyah:
    Circumstances of the revelation of Surat Al-Kafirun, vol. 2; Safi-ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, Ar-Rahiq Al-Makhtum; Second Phase (Open Preaching): Compromises and Concessions.

    2
    Translated meanings of Al-Kafirun 109: 1-6.

    3
    Translated meanings of Az-Zumar 39: 3.

    4
    Translated meanings of Al-‘Ankabut 29: 61.

    5
    Translated meanings of Al-‘Ankabut 29: 63.

    6 Translated meanings of Al-An‘am 6: 100.

    7
    Monotheism; belief in the Oneness of Allah
    U.

    8 Sayyid Qutb, In the Shade of the
    Qur’an
    , interpretation of Surah Al-Kafirun [109], thirty-sixth
    edition, Dar Al-Shorouk.

     

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