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Begging the Helpless for Help

Man is innately coded desiring to submit to a grander entity. The religion-less or atheists are no exception to this, but rather, they look to satiate this innate craving by deifying other animate or inanimate entities by the dictates of servitude or what defines it. This ranges from excessive love to blind following, idolisation or boundless admiration that influences one’s heart and action. The ultimate heartbreaker is to be shunned by the one you expended a life admiring, or let down when you need them most…

Yā Sīn Series

Part 36 – Begging the Helpless for Help

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وَاتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ آلِهَةً لَعَلَّهُمْ يُنْصَرُونَ

74) They have taken gods besides Allah so that perhaps they may be helped.

Imam al-Tabari explains that the polytheists of Makkah took deities beneath Allah and worshiped them in the hope that they would save them from Allah’s punishment.[1] Ibn Kathir adds that they also hoped that these deities would be their intermediaries to Allah so they could draw closer to Him through them and believed that these idols would provide for them on some level.

Despite all of these signs that Allah listed, signifying His inimitable ability, as al-Qurtubi mentions, you still take lesser, incapable gods, recognising that they have no ability.[2]

Ibn ‘Āshūr mention in his Tafsir that after the previous verses that spoke about Allah’s great favours upon man, this verse speaks in amazement at the audacity of the Quraysh to do shirk with Him in spite of recognising how much Allah has given them. They saw the Signs pointing to Allah’s Oneness but acted in complete contradiction to them.[3] Much of this emanated from the bad suspicion they harboured about Allah. 

لَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ نَصْرَهُمْ وَهُمْ لَهُمْ جُنْدٌ مُحْضَرُونَ 

75) They cannot help them even though they are an army mobilised in their support.

Al-Tabari states that had Allah wanted harm to come their way these deities could not help them nor repel harm away from them.[4] As such, these Mushrikūn will be brought together along with their idols like one army and this will happen during the accountability or on the Day of Hisāb.[5] Others said that these Mushrikūn act like a mobilised army (Jund) for them by protecting them, fighting for them and becoming enraged with anyone who speaks against them. Al-Tabari states that this latter view is more sound as in the Hereafter the Mushrikūn will want to flee from their idols (as Allah states in other places in the Qur’an) thus not becoming like a Jund on that day,[6] who otherwise stay together tightly.

The first view, however, can be understood in light of remembering how idols will be brought during the accountability of those who worshipped them, thus the polytheists will see them, serve as a clear evidence against them. It is also said that these idols will become a Jund for Allah in the fire and come back to exact punishment on those who worshipped them in order to prove that they had absolved themselves of the people’s polytheism.

Another view is that they will be brought altogether for accountability as one group or they will follow one another in a line, into the Fire of Hell. This is expounded upon in the Hadith of the Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam:

يجمع الله الناس يوم القيامة في صعيد واحد ثم يَطَّلِع عليهم ربُّ العالمين فيقولُ أَلاَ لِيتبعْ كلُّ إنسانٍ ما كان يعبد فيُمثَّل لصاحب الصليب صليبه ولصاحب التصاوير تصاويره ولصاحب النار ناره فيتبعون ما كانوا يعبدون ويبقى المسلمون.

“Allah will gather together mankind on the Day of Resurrection on a single plane, then the Lord of the Worlds will come to them and say: ‘Let every person follow what they used to worship.’ So to the worshipper of the cross, his cross shall be symbolised to him, and to the worshipper of images his images, and to the worshipper of fire his fire. They will follow what they used to worship, and the Muslims will remain.” [7] [8]

Ibn ‘Āshūr mentions that the fact these idols will be present during the accountability of those who worshipped them, yet incapable of helping them against Allah’s punishment should cause the Quraysh to lose hope in them.

فَلَا يَحْزُنْكَ قَوْلُهُمْ ۘ إِنَّا نَعْلَمُ مَا يُسِرُّونَ وَمَا يُعْلِنُونَ 

76) So do not let their words distress you. We know what they keep secret and what they divulge.

Allah then consoles the Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam (Tasliyah), according to Imam al-Tabari by telling him not to grieve over what the polytheists say about him, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam, being a poet or merely reciting poetry. Nor should he grieve over their belying the Ayat of Allah and rejection of his Prophethood.[9] Allah knows that the reason they are saying this is out of envy (Hasad), moreover knowing deep within themselves that the Qur’an is far from being poetry, or anything like it. They intrinsically know that you are not a liar. We know that they recognise and see the truth of what you call to and He also knows what they say in public, openly rejecting the call with their tongues.[10] Ibn Kathir adds that We know what they are up to and We will take them to task for that, bringing before their eyes every small and great misdeed they did.

Ibn ‘Āshūr explains that the request of Allah to not grieve; Lā Yahzunk was linked to the reason for his grievance; specifically his worry over them for rejecting the message and making themselves liable for punishment.[11] Allah then gives the ‘illah, or reasoning as to why the Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam, should not grieve: We will deal with them for everything they did against you.[12]

Linguistic Gems

  • The use of the term Yastatī’ūn, in plural form that indicates intelligence of that being pluralised (Jam’ al-‘Āqil) is because these idols were named with the names of people and were thought to possess life and a responsive ability.
  • Jund in its most basic meaning refers to a great number and Muḥḍar refers to the one who came to attend and witness.
  • The Waw of Wahum Lahum is that of Hāl or for defining circumstance, meaning they “cannot help them whilst they are present with them i.e., the idols cannot help you not because they are in a distant place and cannot hear your cries, but could not help even if they were present. This breaks their false hopes in these idols by reinforcing the absence of their abilities, also implicitly affirming to the Quraysh that the punishment is impending without there being escape.
  • Allah first mentions their concealed matters and then their public statements. This is because knowing the internal thoughts of others is a far more pertinent sign of possessing all-encompassing knowledge of that individual. Then He said ‘Yu’linūn‘, referring to things said in open, showing us that His knowledge is complete without anything escaping it.[13]

Pearls of Wisdom

According to Imam al-Qurtubi, the Quraysh were like a force for their idols as they would actively protect them, ward off any harm coming to them and make a stand for them. It is as if Allah is saying to look at how they behave towards them in such a protective manner when they themselves cannot help you in the first place. You worship them in order to be helped but instead you are the ones helping them.

Reflecting over the incapacity of these idols, inanimate when they were worshipped, protected by their followers and incapable of providing any help on the Day of Judgement, one begins to appreciate the extent of the depression of their subjects. Today, many are less familiar with bowing and prostrating to stone sculptures, but idol-worship is rampant in less tangible ways. Religious figures and celebrities are idolised, many to the extent of worship with all its dictates. Depression is when those who humble their own honour and status to a deity find out that the deity is impoverished to the mercy of another, let alone able to help anyone else.

Even the great Prophet Jesus ‘alayhi al-Salām, one Day will himself long for Allah’s pleasure and mercy and will testify against those who deified him, and this comprises almost a third of humanity. Eventually, he will go to the highest abodes of Paradise, indifferent to the abode of those who devoted their lives to deifying him rather than obeying him. They will find themselves separated from him for flouting his command that they should worship Allah:

“I said to them nothing but what You ordered me to say: ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.’ I was a witness against them as long as I remained among them, but when You took me back to You, You were the One watching over them. You are Witness of all things.”[14]

Source: www.islam21c.com


[1] Tafsīr Tabari, Vol 19 pg 484

[2] Tafsīr Qurtubi, Vol 17 pg 487

[3] Tafsir ibn ‘Ashur

[4] Tafsīr Tabari, Vol 19 pg 484

[5] Tafsīr Tabari, Vol 19 pg 484

[6] Tafsīr Tabari, Vol 19 pg 484-485


[7] Sunan al Tirmithi on the authority of Abu Hurairah

[8] Tafsīr Qurtubi, Vol 17 pg 488

[9] Tafsīr Tabari, Vol 19 pg 485

[10] Tafsīr Tabari, Vol 19 pg 485

[11] Tafsīr Ibn ‘Āshūr, Vol 23 pg 72

[12] Tafsīr Ibn ‘Āshūr, Vol 23 pg 72

[13] Tafsīr Ibn ‘Āshūr, Vol 23 pg 73

[14] Qur’an 5:117

About Ustadh Asim Khan

Ustadh Asim Khan is a published author of 3 books, including the Simple Seerah & the best-selling “The Heart of the Qur’an”, a commentary on Surah Yasin. He is a Hafiz of Qur’an, has gained a Masters in Pharmacy from the University College London UK, and studied Arabic and Quranic Sciences in Cairo, Egypt. His true passion lies in Tafsir studies where you can find numerous online lectures of his on Qur'ān related topics.

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