Surah al-An`am (The Cattle) 6 : 74
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to his father
Do you take
[I] see you
and your people
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
This is a splendid scene which the surah uses to portray healthy human nature initially rejecting all ignorant concepts of idolatry. To undistorted nature, idolatry is no more than an unfounded and totally unacceptable superstition. Rejecting it without hesitation, human nature begins to seek its true Lord with vigorous activity. It has an innate feeling of the Lord, although it has no well-formulated concept of Him. Hence, it looks up to anything that presents itself as a possible manifestation of God. Soon it discovers that such an object cannot be the true Lord. It does not correspond to what is deeply implanted within human nature of the reality and nature of God and His attributes.
It then experiences the truth revealing itself and shining within. This gives man his greatest joy. He declares his unshakeable belief as he realizes the complete and total correspondence between his innate picture of the Lord and the reality he has consciously discovered. All this is shown in the splendid scene of Abraham and his search for his Lord. In a few short verses, the great experience of Abraham is outlined. As faith establishes its firm roots within him, he declares his belief, fearing no opposition or objection. He is not prepared to make any compromise with his father, family, clan or nation. Every believer must, then, adopt the same attitude as Abraham who faced up to his father and his people with undeniable firmness: “Thus Abraham said to his father Azar: ‘Do you take idols for gods? I see that you and your people have obviously gone astray'.“
This is the instinctive argument of nature voiced by Abraham who had not yet consciously recognized his true Lord. When human nature is free of deviation and perversion, it simply cannot accept that those idols worshipped by Abraham’s people were gods. It should be remembered here that the ancient Chaldeans, who lived in Iraq at that time, used to worship idols as well as the stars and planets. To Abraham, the deity to be worshipped, to whom people turn for help in all situations, and who has created all living things, cannot be an idol made of stone or wood. It is obvious that those idols cannot create, listen, respond or provide sustenance. Hence, they are not worth worshipping. Indeed, they cannot be considered as deities even if they are given the limited role of being intermediaries between the Lord of the universe and human beings. Such a set-up and practices are, then, all erroneous. Abraham (peace be upon him) recognized this instinctively at the first instant. Indeed, he provides a complete example of human nature as created by God: pure, and free of perversion. It confronts error and deviation with clarity and decisiveness, stating the whole truth, since the matter is one of faith.
Abraham, the best natured of all people, forbearing, tolerant and fine-mannered, as we gather from his frequent descriptions in the Qur’an, makes a clear and strong declaration to his father. It would have been expected that his attitude towards his father would be rather different but the question here is one of faith. This supersedes all ties of parenthood and the duties of a son towards his father. It simply overrules the dictates of parenthood and generosity. We should not forget that Abraham is the example that God orders Muslims to follow. This story is related here in the Qur’an so that it should be followed by Muslims for all generations to come.
2. Linguistic Analysis[ edit ]
4. Miscellaneous Information[ edit ]
5. Connected/Related Ayat[ edit ]
6. Frequency of the word[ edit ]
7. Period of Revelation[ edit ]
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[ edit ]
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.