Al-Anaam · Juz 7 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Anaam Ayah 17 and 18

Allah is the Irresistible, Able to Bring Benefit and Protect from Harm

In this ayah, a basic article of faith in Islam has been described. It is Allah in reality Who is the Master – Dispenser of all gain and loss. He Alone brings benefit or harm, and that He does what He wills with His creatures, none can resist His judgment or prevent what He decrees.

He says,

وَإِن يَمْسَسْكَ اللَّهُ بِضُرٍّ فَلاَ كَـشِفَ لَهُ إِلاَّ هُوَ وَإِن يَمْسَسْكَ بِخَيْرٍ فَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَىْءٍ قَدُيرٌ

“And if Allah touches you with harm, none can remove it but He, and if He touches you with good, then He is able to do all things.”

The word yamsaska [يَمْسَسْكَ] is from the root letters meem-seen-seen, and it is means “to meet or touch, strike or smite, afflict or befall, be distressing or difficult of accomplishment”.

The word dur [ضُر], appearing as bidurrin in the ayah, is a very comprehensive word which includes everything that a person can suffer from. It can be poverty, health or depression. The word is derived from the root letters daad-ra-ra and it means “to harm, hurt, injure or afflict, adversity, famine, tribulation, hardship”.

No one can ‘really’ bring the least benefit to anyone, nor cause the least harm. As for the outward manifestation of gain or loss, benefit or harm, seen coming from one person to the other, is no more than a matter of appearances. Seen in the full flash of reality, this does not hold out any more than a ready-to-vanish curtain.

This belief too is one of the revolutionary beliefs of Islam, a belief which made Muslims shed the dependence on the created and rely on their Creator alone. It was this belief which put together a large group of unprecedented charmers of the soul on the map of the world, who were, despite their meager means and haunting hunger, weightier and worthier than a whole world – for they would not bow their heads before anyone.

The Qur’an has taken up this subject at many places with different approaches, out of which, quoted here is an ayah from Surah Fatir:

مَّا يَفْتَحِ اللَّهُ لِلنَّاسِ مِن رَّحْمَةٍ فَلاَ مُمْسِكَ لَهَا وَمَا يُمْسِكْ فَلاَ مُرْسِلَ لَهُ مِن بَعْدِهِ

“Whatever mercy, Allah may grant to mankind, none can withhold it, and whatever He may withhold, none can grant it thereafter.” [35:2]

It is recorded in the Saheeh that the Messenger of Allah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam used to supplicate,

اللَّهُمَّ لَا مَانِعَ لِمَا أَعْطَيْتَ وَلَا مُعْطِيَ لِمَا مَنَعْتَ، وَلَا يَنْفَعُ ذَا الْجَدِّ مِنْكَ الْجَد

“O Allah, there is none Who can avert what You grant or give what You deprive, and no fortune ever helps the fortunate against You.”

Under his comments on this ayah, Imam al-Baghawi has reported from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas that there was an occasion when the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam and I mounted a ride, he asked me to sit behind him. After having covered some distance, he turned towards me and said, You young man.’ I said: ‘Here I am, Ya Rasool Allah. Can I do something?’ He said: ‘You remember Allah. Allah will remember you. If you will remember Allah, you will find Him before you under all circumstances. You recognize Allah when you are in peace and comfort,

Allah will recognize you when you are in trouble. When you have to ask, only ask Allah. When you need help, seek help only from Allah. Whatever is going to happen in this world has already been written by the writer of destiny. If all those created were to combine and try to bring a benefit to you in which Allah has kept no share for you, they would never be able to do that. And if they all come together and try to inflict a harm on you which is not in your lot, they would never become capable of doing that. If you are sure of being able to act patiently, then, do just that, by all means. If you do not have the strength and ability to do so, observe patience – because there is great good and

barakah in remaining patient against what does not go well with your temperament. And understand it very clearly that the help of Allah is with patience, and comfort with hardship, and prosperity with adversity.” [Tirmidhi and the Musnad of Ahmad with sound chains of authority]

Despite this clear declaration of the Qur’an and the age long teachings of the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam this Ummah has started going off course in this critical matter when they have handed out what lies in the exclusive domain of Allah to His created beings.

Today, there is a very large number of Muslims who would, rather than call upon Allah and pray to Him in their hour of distress, cry for help in all sorts of names, but do not seem to remember the name of Allah. Calling on or praying to a created being directly for the removal of one’s need or solution of problem is an open rebellion against this Qur’anic injunction. May Allah keep all Muslims on the straight path, aameen.


– When we are blessed we should not ignore or forget Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Whether we are passing through distress or happiness we should always remember Allah.

– When we are distressed or some blessing has been withheld we should not hold grudges against people, we should not put the blame on them because it is Allah Who withheld it may be due to one of our sins or because it is not good for us.

– Similarly, people can try their best to hold the khair from us but when Allah wishes to give it to us no one can intervene and stop that blessing from reaching us.

Ayah 18

In Ayah 18, it was said,

وَهُوَ الْقَاهِرُ فَوْقَ عِبَادِهِ وَهُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْخَبِيرُ

“And He is the Irresistible, above His servants, and He is the All-Wise, Well-Acquainted with all things.”

The word qahir [قَاهِر] is from the root letter qaf-ha-ra and it means “to overpower someone, to subjugate, gain mastery over or to have the upper hand”.

It means that the mastery of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala prevails over His servants in the absolute sense and that everyone remains under His power and control all the time. To Him the necks are subservient, the tyrants humble before Him and He has complete control over all things. The creatures have all bowed to Allah and are humbled before His grace, honor, pride, greatness, highness and ability over all things. The creatures are insignificant before Him, for they are all under His irresistible decision and power.

This is the reason why no human being, no matter how great or how close to Allah he is none can come out successful in everything they do, nor is every wish of theirs granted.

He is Wise in His Decrees and also All-Aware. Sometimes we want something but we don’t get it. It is Allah Who knows what’s best for us. He is Al-Hakeem. He is also Al-Khabeer meaning He is aware of what happening to us.

Thus, by the word, Al-Qahir (the Dominant) pointed to is the perfect power of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala .and, by the word, al-Hakeem (the All-Wise), His all-encompassing knowledge – and the two tell us that perfection in knowledge and power are the attributes of Almighty Allah and it is only Him that they belong to.

Download PDF: Al Anaam Ayaat 17 and 18

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