An-Nisa · Juz 5 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah an-Nisa Ayah 117

Idol Worship is in Reality Servitude to Shaytan

In ayah 117, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala talks about the sin that was rampant among the pagans of Makkah.

إِن يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِهِ إِلاَّ إِنَـثاً وَإِن يَدْعُونَ إِلاَّ شَيْطَـناً مَّرِيداً

“They invoke besides Him none but female (deities)…”

They here refers to those who commit shirk.

The word yadAAoona is from du’a, over here it is used for both invoking and worship. Someone would invoke deities to ask for help or seek some support. Through this ayah we learn that the mushrikeen were both invoking their false deities and worshiping them as well.

The word inathan means females. In the pre-Islamic Arabia most of the deities that the mushrikeen had were given female names such as Laat, Mannat, Uzza, Nyla. Moreover, the statue was crafted and dressed up such that it had semblance to a female.

Their calling upon female goddesses was very strange because the Arabs considered females to be the weakest segment of the society; even weaker than a small male child. Young boys who had reached puberty were given sword to participate in a battle but when it came to a woman, she was instructed to stay at home. She was considered an unproductive part of the society who had no wisdom or important role to play.

So, in a way Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is criticizing the idolators that they consider women to be very weak yet they have created their own female goddesses? Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is questioning that someone you consider very weak is eligible to be a God? He is mocking them that you consider women to be insignificant to be consulted in matters of importance or to be allowed to participate in discussions or any other productive work, but when it comes to worshiping you have made female deities? It was quite odd.

Juwaybir quotes that Ad-Dahhak said, “The idolators claimed that the angels are Allah’s daughters saying, ‘We only worship them so that they bring us closer to Allah.’ So, they took the angels as gods, made the shapes of girls and decided, ‘These (idols) resemble the daughters of Allah (i.e. the angels), whom we worship.’

Their this belief has been questioned later on in the Qur’an when Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala asks [interpretation of the meaning], “You have chosen sons for yourself but for Me you chose daughters?”

Allah’s statement,

وَإِن يَدْعُونَ إِلاَّ شَيْطَـناً مَّرِيداً

“… and they (actually) invoke none but the rebellious Shaytan.”

This means that their worshiping of the false deities is actually a submission to Shaytan’s command. It is he who makes the sin beautiful in the eyes of people. Therefore, people persist in the sin that they are into and do not revert to the correct path. When someone goes astray he is worshiping Shaytan.

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