Surah al-An`am (The Cattle) 6 : 56

قُلْ إِنِّى نُهِيتُ أَنْ أَعْبُدَ ٱلَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ ۚ قُل لَّآ أَتَّبِعُ أَهْوَآءَكُمْ ۙ قَدْ ضَلَلْتُ إِذًا وَمَآ أَنَا۠ مِنَ ٱلْمُهْتَدِينَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
Say, "Indeed, I have been forbidden to worship those you invoke besides Allāh." Say, "I will not follow your desires, for I would then have gone astray, and I would not be of the [rightly] guided."

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

This passage is particularly inspiring. It seeks to influence the addressees by stating the true nature of Godhead, explaining its different aspects, using varying cadences and a most effective style. One particularly inspiring feature is the use of the address form, “Say... Say... Say...” making it profoundly clear that this is an address to God’s Messenger (peace be upon him). He is required to deliver his Lord’s message as it is revealed to him. We are told with absolute clarity that the Messenger does not have or follow anything other than this message and seeks none other than its guidance.

This statement makes it clear that the Prophet must tell the unbelievers that he is forbidden to worship any of their idols or any other beings they worship. This applies to whatever being is invoked besides God. However, the rules of Arabic grammar indicate that use of the relative pronoun ‘whom’ in this statement is significant. Normally, its usage is limited to beings with minds of their own. Had the prohibition only meant idols and similar inanimate objects, the relative pronoun `what’ would have been used instead. The reference here must, then, include some intelligent beings to justify the use of the relative pronoun ‘whom’. This interpretation is consistent with the practical facts and with general Islamic terminology in this respect.

God commands His Messenger to declare to the unbelievers that his Lord forbids him to worship those beings on whom they call instead of God and whom they make partners with God. He is forbidden to follow their whims. The fact is that they invoke those beings, giving them a divine status, as a result of their whims and caprice. This cannot be the outcome of any certain knowledge or any truth. If he responded to their whims, he too would then go astray and find no guidance whatsoever. Their whims can only cause him and them to deviate from the path of the truth and to lose their way altogether.

2. Linguistic Analysis

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Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *


3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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According to Ibn Abbas, the whole of the Surah was revealed at one sitting at Makkah [during the night]. Asma bint Yazid says, ‘During the revelation of this Surah the Prophet was riding on a she-camel and I was holding her nose-string. The she-camel began to feel the weight so heavily that it seemed as if her bones would break under it.’ We also learn from other narrations that it was revealed during the last year before the migration (Hijrah) and that the Prophet dictated the whole of the Surah the same night that it was revealed. [Mawdudi]

8. Reasons for Revelation

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After determining the period of its revelation it is easier to visualize the background of the Surah. Twelve years had passed since the Prophet had been inviting the people to Islam. The antagonism and persecution by the Quraysh had become most savage and brutal and the majority of the Muslims had to migrate to Abyssinia. Additionally, the two great supporters of the Prophet, Abu Talib and his wife Khadijah were no longer there to help him, so he was deprived of all worldly support. In spite of this he carried on his mission. As a result of this all the good people of Makkah and the surrounding clans gradually began to accept Islam but there the community as a whole was still bent on obstinacy and rejection. Therefore if anyone showed an inclination towards Islam they were subjected to taunts and derision, physical violence and social boycott.

It was in these dark circumstances that a ray of hope gleamed from Yathrib, where Islam began to spread freely by the efforts of some influential people of the tribes of Aws and Khazraj, who had embraced Islam at Makkah. At that time, none but God knew the great hidden potential in this.

To a casual observer it appeared as if Islam was a weak movement, with no material backing, except for some limited support from the Prophet's own family and a few poor followers. Obviously the latter could not give much help because they themselves were being persecuted.

9. Relevant Hadith

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10. Wiki Forum

Comments in this section are statements made by general users – these are not necessarily explanations of the Ayah – rather a place to share personal thoughts and stories…

11. Tafsir Zone

 

12. External Links

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