يَآ أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ ضُرِبَ مَثَلٌ فَاسْتَمِعُوا لَهُ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ لَن يَخْلُقُوا ذُبَاباً وَلَوِ اجْتَمَعُوا لَهُ وَإِن يَسْلُبْهُمُ الذُّبَابُ شَيْئاً لاَّ يَسْتَنقِذُوهُ مِنْهُ ضَعُفَ الطَّالِبُ وَالْمَطْلُوبُ
مَا قَدَرُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ قَدْرِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَقَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ
73. “O people! A parable is struck; so listen to it. Verily, those whom you call upon besides Allah can never create (even) a fly, though they should all gather for it; and should the fly snatch away anything from them, they could not take it back from it. Feeble are (both) the seeker and the sought!”
74. “They have not estimated Allah with the estimation that is due to Him. Verily Allah is Strong, Mighty.”
We must always take the parables of the Qur’an under careful consideration.
The person who is helpless when he confronts a single fly is not eligible to be worshipped.
This verse illustrates an interesting and lively picture of the situation of the artificial idols and deities and explains their weakness and inability. It makes manifest the falsehood of the pagans’ belief very clearly.
It addresses the common people and says:
If all their idols, all the objects of their worship, and even all the scientists, the mindful ones, and inventors from among human beings gather with together and try to create a fly they will not be able to create it.
Thus, how can you consider them in a row with the Great Lord Who is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and thousands of thousand living creatures in the seas and on the lands, in forests, and in the depths of the ground; the Lord Who has assigned the life and living in different shapes and various kinds, each of which causes man to wonder and to admire them.
How far and different are those weak objects of worship and this Almighty Wise Creator!
Then the Qur’an adds that not only they are not able to create a fly, but also they are unable to stand against a fly, because as the verse says:
A weak and feeble being that fails even in standing against a fly, how is it worthy that they consider it as a manager of their fate and remover of their difficulties?
Yes, both ‘the seekers’, and the worshippers, and those objects of worship, ‘the sought’ are feeble!
The verse says:
Some Islamic narrations indicate that the idolaters of Quraysh used to plaster the idols that they had gathered and arranged around the Ka‘bah, with musk, ambergris and saffron mixed with honey, and around them they used to loudly say some words similar to the term ‘labbayk’ (here am I) of the monotheists which indicated their polytheism and idolatry as well as the distortion of the saying of monotheists, and they used to imagine these worthless and low objects as the partners of Allah.
But flies came sitting on them, ate the honey, saffron, musk and ambergris thereover while the idolaters had not the power to take them back from the flies.
Taking this scenery as an example, the Qur’an reiterates the feebleness and inability of the idols and the weakness of the logic of the polytheists and implies that the idolaters can see carefully how their objects of worship are under the feet of flies and they are not able to show the least defence from themselves.
These are some worthless and incapable objects of worship that the polytheists demanded them to solve their various problems!
By the way, the objective of the Arabic words /talib/ (the seeker) and /matlub/ (the sought) is just the same thing which was said in the above: the former is the worshippers of the idols and the latter is the idols themselves both of which are weak and incapable.
Some commentators have also said that probably here the term /talib/ refers to ‘fly’ and /matlub/ refers to ‘idols’, (since the flies seek the idols in order to enjoy of the food stuff over them).
After stating the above lively parable, in the next verse the Qur’an concludes that they have not recognized Allah so that they must know Him.
The verse says:
They are so weak and feeble in knowledge of Allah and theology that they degraded Allah, the Exalted, to the level of their weak and worthless objects of worship, those that they counted as partners of Allah.
If they had the least amount of knowledge about Him they would certainly laugh at their own comparison.
At the end of the verse, the Qur’an states:
Allah is not like the idols that are not able to create a small creature such as a fly, and they are not able even to defend themselves against a fly. Allah is powerful over everything, and none is able to resist before Him.
If we deal with the books written about physiology of the living creatures and study carefully the biological activities of a small insect, such as a fly, we will see that the structure of the mind of a fly, its system of nerves, and its digestion organs are more complicated than the structure of the most equipped aeroplanes, or they can not be comparable with each other at all.
In principle, the problem of life and the senses and the motion of the living creatures, as well as their growth and procreation, have remained as a secret before the scientists; and the details and delicacy used in the structure of these creatures are in turn some other secrets, the ones which have not been answered yet.
According to the statements of the scientists of natural science, the extraordinary small eyes of some of these insects are composed by about one hundred eyes. That is, the same eye that we can hardly see, and perhaps is as small as a needlepoint, is made up of several smaller eyes, the collection of which is called ‘a compound eye’.
Supposing that man can produce a living cell from some lifeless substance, who can arrange hundreds of small eyes, each of which in turn has a delicate camera, layers, and systems, beside each other and join their branches and lines of communication to the brain of the insect and transfer the outward information to the brain of the insect by them so that the insect can react unto the events happen around it?
If all human beings gather and assist, can they create such an apparently small being which is in fact very complicated and mysterious?
Again, if supposedly a man can solve all these problems, can this be called as creation? Or it is a combination of the existing means and tools in this very world of creation. Are those persons who mount the ready-made parts of a car called as inventors, and can their action be called invention?
اللَّهُ يَصْطَفِي مِنَ الْمَلآَئِكَةِ رُسُلاً وَمِنَ النَّاسِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ بَصِيرٌ
يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَإِلَي اللَّهِ تُرْجَعُ الاُمُورُ
75. “Allah chooses messengers from among the angels and from among the men. Verily Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.”
76. “He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and unto Allah are returned all affairs.”
As some of the commentators have said: when the Prophet of Islam (S) was appointed, a group of pagans, such as ‘walid-ibn-Muqayrah’, (who was counted as their minded one), with wonder and denial said:
“Was the Reminder sent down to him (Muhammad, the poor and orphan one) from among us?”
Then the first abovementioned verse was revealed and answered them that choosing the prophets and angels for His messengership is based on their eligibility and spirituality.1
The Arabic term /’istafa/ is derived from /safwah/ which means: pure and noble, and choosing the pure and clear ones shows that some of persons and angels have the eligibility and they are pure and noble.
Regarding the fact that in the previous verses the speech was about monotheism, polytheism, and the imaginary deities of polytheists, and regarding the fact that there were some people who chose the angels and some of the prophets for worshipping, the Qur’an, through verses under discussion, implies that the Divine messengers entirely are the obedient servants of Allah.
Yet, as the verse says:
There are some messengers among the angels, like Gabriel, and there are some messengers from among human beings; like the great Divine messengers.
The application of the word /min/ (some) in this verse, indicates that the entire Divine angels were not the messengers toward humankind, but some of them were given this rank to. This meaning does not contrast the content of the verse which says:
because the purpose in this verse is the statement of ‘gender’ not the statement of the generality of members.
Then, at the end of the verse, the Qur’an adds:
This means that it is not such that, like human being, Allah is unaware of His Messengers in their absence, on the contrary, He is always aware of their circumstances, He hears their words and sees their deeds.
Then, in the next verse, the noble Qur’an points to the responsibility of the messengers in conveying their prophecy, from one side, and the Divine protections due to them, on the other side. The verse says:
Allah is aware of both their future affairs and those of their past that they have put in behind.
Then, the verse continues:
This fact has been stated in order that people know that the angels and Divine prophets are also some obedient servants who have responsibilities before Him, and they have nothing from their own selves except for what Allah has bestowed on them, and they should not be taken as gods and objects of worship besides Allah.
Therefore, the above sentence which says:
in fact is an indication to the duty and responsibility of the Divine messengers and that their deeds will be controlled from the side of Allah. It is similar to what Surah Al-Jinn, No. 72, verses 27 and 28 say.
However, it became clear that the purpose of the Qur’anic phrase: /mabayna ’aydihim/ is the future events, and the purpose of /maxalfahum/ is the past events, and, in any case, the knowledge of Allah does not increase or decrease. He has been aware of all the creatures and their deeds, whether they are exterior and interior.
The noble Qur’an, in this regard, says:
Of course, the cognizance to this vast knowledge of Allah has an extraordinary educational effect in man. It warns him that whoever he may be and whatever rank and position the one may gain He knows, and He is aware of the belief we have in our minds and the intentions we bear in our hearts and whatever kind of manner we are qualified by.
All of these are manifest in His infinite knowledge. It is certain that taking note to this fact is very effective in man’s training. These are some instructions that make man prepared for reaching the goal of creation and the law of development.
يَآ أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا ارْكَعُوا وَاسْجُدُوا وَاعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمْ وَافْعَلُوا الْخَيْرَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
77. “O you who believe! Bow down and prostrate yourselves and worship your Lord, and do good; that you may be prosperous.”
The ritual acts of ‘bowing’ and ‘prostration’ are among the examples of worship, yet in this holy verse these two acts are mentioned beside the Qur’anic word /wa‘budu/ (worship) which indicates both the importance of prayer and these two elements of prayer.
By the way, divine salvation or prosperity is the last stage of perfection of which we must be hopeful when we have fulfilled our duties of worships and benefactions.
This holy verse, addressing the believers, states some general and inclusive instructions which protect their religion, worldly affairs, and succession in all circumstances, and by this beauty of conclusion Surah Al-Hajj ends.
At first, the verse points to four important instructions by saying:
Stating the bowing and prostration, two elements from among all elements of prayer, is for the sake of their extraordinary importance in this great worship. The instruction of absolute servitude, which has been stated after these two elements, encompasses every worship and devotion.
The application of the word /rabbakum/ (your Lord) is, in fact, an indication to His eligibility for being worshipped and the lack of eligibility of other than Him, because He is the only Owner, Master and Lord.
The instruction of ‘doing good’ envelops any good deed without any condition and reservation. It has been narrated from Ibn-Abbas who said its objective is ‘union of kindred’ and ‘nobility of character’.4
Tafsir-ul-Burhan narrated from Hadrat Musabn-i-Ja‘far, the seventh Imam, who said that the purpose of the Qur’anic phrase /waf‘al-ul-xayr/ (and do good) is the act of obedience from Imam Amir-ul-Mu’mineen Ali (as) next to the Prophet (S), and it is, indeed, the statement of a lively aspect from this general concept.
وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ مّـِلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِن قَبْلُ وَفِي هَذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيداً عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَآءَ عَلي النَّاسِ فَاَقِيمُوا الصَّلاَةَ وءَاتُواْ الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّهِ هُوَ مَوْلاَكُمْ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَي وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ
78. “And strive hard in (the way of) Allah as you ought to strive for him. He has chosen you and has not laid upon you any hardship in religion; the faith of your father Abraham (is yours). He named you Muslims, both before and in this (Book), that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people; therefore establish prayer and pay the poor-rate and hold fast to Allah! He is your Guardian, how excellent the Guardian and how excellent the Helper!”
We know that bearing witness needs awareness and justice, while the totality of people as a whole are neither just nor aware so that they can be witnesses over others.
Therefore, the purpose of Muslims being witness, mentioned in this holy verse, refers to some of the Muslims who not only are aware of the deeds and behaviour of people but also are both just and trust-worthy, and, as the Islamic traditions indicate, such persons can be the Prophet’s Ahl-ul-Bayt, the Immaculate Imams, to whom our deeds and behaviour are exposed.
This verse issues a command in the field of Holy Struggle with the vast meaning of the word when it says:
The majority of the Islamic commentators have not taken the concept of Holy Struggle here in the particular sense of fighting with gun against the enemy.
On the contrary, as it is understood from the lexicographical concept of the word itself, they have considered it with the meaning of any struggle and effort in the way of Allah and doing benefactions, combating against low desires (the greater warfare), and striving against the cruel unjust enemies (the lesser warfare).
The Late Tabarsi, in Majma‘-ul-Bayan, narrates from the majority of the commentators that the purpose of the Qur’anic phrase /haqqa jihadihi/ (as you ought to strive for Him) is the sincere intention and accomplishing the acts for the cause of Allah.
There is no doubt that the Qur’anic phrase /haqqa jihadihi/ has a vast meaning which envelops all the concepts from the viewpoint of quality, quantity, place, time and the like.
But since the stage of sincerity is the most difficult stage in struggling against one’s self, the Qur’an has emphasized on this stage. The penetration of evil thoughts and motivations into man’s heart (mind) and deeds are so hidden, narrow, and concealed that none can relieve him from them save the selected servants of Allah.
In these five instructions, in fact, the Qur’an has begun from the simple stage up to the last and highest stages of servitude. The beginning words are about bowing and then, superior to it, about prostration, and next to it the statement is about any worship in general.
The fulfilment of good deeds, irrespective of worships and other than them, comes later, and in the last stage, the Qur’an refers to Holy Struggle and effort and endeavour, whether they are done individually or socially, interior or exterior and related to behaviour, speech, ethics, and intention.
This is a conclusive instruction which, no doubt, leads to salvation and prosperity as its consequence.
1- Amir-ul-Mu’mineen Ali (as) said:
“Now then, surely Holy Struggle is one of the doors of Paradise which Allah has opened for His chief friends. It is the dress of piety and the protective armour of Allah and His trustworthy shield.…”5
2- Imam Sadiq (as) said:
“Holy Struggle is the most superior things next to the canonical obligations.”6
3- The same Imam (as) said:
“The alms (zakat) of the body is Holy Struggle and fasting.”7
4- Again, he (as) said:
“The alms (zakat) of bravery is Holy Struggle in the way of Allah.”8
5- Imam Sadiq (as) said:
“Holy Struggle accompanied with a just leader is obligatory.”9
6- The Messenger of Allah (S) said:
“The peak of Islam is Holy Struggle in the way of Allah which is not gained save by the best of them (Muslims).”10
7- The Messenger of Allah (S) also said:
“Fighting in the way of Allah is more beloved with me than forty Hajj pilgrimages.”11
8- The holy Prophet (S) said:
“Verily Holy Struggle in the way of Allah is of the best deeds of the believers.”12
9- The Messenger of Allah (S) in his testament to Ali (as) said:
“O’ Ali! The best Holy Struggle (for a striver) is that he spends the time while he does not try to be unjust to any one.”13
10- The Messenger of Allah (S) again said:
“Verily a believer strives with his sword and his tongue.”14
In view of the fact that there may arise this thought that how it is that these heavy commandments, each of which is vaster and more conclusive than the other, have been laid upon us, the weak servants, there are some other statements in the continuation of the verse which indicate that these things are some evidences for the Grace of Allah unto the believers, and also they are the signs of the grandeur of the rank of their personality, the believers, with Him.
The verse continues saying:
If you were not chosen by Allah you would not be given so many responsibilities.
Then, in the next sentence, the Qur’an says:
That is, if you think properly these commandments are not some hard duties. On the contrary, they adapt to your pure nature and are consistent to it, and principally, since they are as some means for your perfection and every one of them has a philosophy and some clear benefits which finally reach you, they will not be bitter in your soul’s taste, and they are completely sweet and wholesome.
In the third stage of statement, it implies that this is the same religion of your father, Abraham.
The verse says:
The reason why Abraham has been called ‘father’ is either because the Arabs and Muslims of that day were mostly from the seed of Ishmael (as), or it is for the sake that they all considered Abraham very great and they respected him as a spiritual father, though his pure religion had been polluted by kinds of superstitions.
Then the Qur’an gives another idea in this field when it says:
And a Muslim is the one who has this honour that he is submissive to the whole commandments of Allah.
The commentators are divided in defining the antecedent of the Arabic pronoun /huwa/. Some of them have said that it returns to Allah. In this case it means that Allah has called you by this honourable name both in the former books and in the Qur’an.
Some others believe that it returns to Abraham, because we recite in Surah Al-Baqarah, No. 2, verse 128 that, after finishing the structure of Ka‘bah, Abraham asked Allah for some things, including this:
But the first interpretation seems more correct, because it adapts the words next to it in the verse, where it says:
and this meaning does not fit Abraham but it concerns Allah.15
At last, the fifth and the last encouraging meaning about the Muslims has been stated here, when it introduces them as the example and paradigm of nations.
The Arabic word /šahid/, in the sense of witness, is derived from /šuhud/ with the meaning of ‘cognizance accompanied with presence’.
This statement means that the Messenger (S) being witness over all Muslims refers to his cognizance about the deeds of his Ummah. This commentary quietly adapts to the Islamic narrations concerning the ‘exposition of deeds’, and some verses of the Qur’an which refer to it.
According to these narrations the deeds of all the members of Ummah are exposed to the Prophet (S) during every week, and his pure soul will be informed of all these things. Therefore, he is the witness over this Ummah.
And this Ummah being witness, according to some Islamic narrations, means the Immaculate ones of this Ummah, the Imams, who are also the witnesses over the deeds of people.
A tradition narrated from Ali-ibn-Mus-ar-Rida (as) indicates that he said:
“We are Allah’s authorities among His servants and we are the witnesses of Allah and His signs among people.”16
In fact, the addressee in the Qur’anic phrase /li takunu/ is apparently the whole Ummah, but, indeed, they are some of the chiefs and nobles of them. Addressing ‘the whole’ for a part of them is very common in the daily applications.
For example, we recite in Surah Al-Ma’idah, No. 5, verse 20 that, Allah, counting His blessings upon the Children of Israel, addresses them:
while we know that only a few of them were bestowed on this rank.
The Arabic term /šuhud/ has also another meaning which is a ‘practical witness’; viz. the criterion of measurement for the deeds of others is an example person’s actions.
In this case all the true believing Muslims are of this kind, because they are an ‘example Ummah’, or a model, with the best religion, Islam, who can be a measure and an example for measuring the personality and virtue among all nations.
A tradition from the holy Prophet (S) indicates that Allah has bestowed several virtues and superiorities on the Ummah of Islam. One of them is that in each of the former nations, their prophet was a witness over his own people, but in Islam, He has appointed all the Ummah as a witness over people.
The verse says:
This means that: as the Prophet (S) is an example for his own Ummah, you are also examples for the people of the world.17
In the meanwhile, this commentary does not contradict the former interpretation. It is also possible that all Ummah to be witnesses and the Immaculate Imams to be some model and outstanding witnesses.
At the end of this verse again the five former duties, as an emphasis, are reiterated in three concise expressive sentences, where it implies: now that the case is as such, and you have these privileges and honours, you should keep up prayer and give alms (zakat) to the due people and hold fast the religion of truth under the grace of Allah, because He is your Master, your Guardian, and the One Who succours you.
The verse says:
Then the Holy Qur’an adds:
In fact, the Qur’anic phrase which says:
is a reason on the Qur’anic sentence which says:
That is, you have been commanded to hold fast the truth only under the grace of Allah, and this is for the sake that He is the Supreme and the best Guardian, the worthiest Helper.
Concerning the phrase:
in another occurrence the Qur’an says:
There is a tradition narrated from Ali-ibn-Abitalib (as) who said:
“In all your affairs hold fast to Allah. It is in this case that you can protect yourself by Him, the Pure, through a Strong Power.”18
Amir-ul-Mu’mineen Ali (as) also said:
“Whoever holds fast to Allah, He will save him.”19
Again, it is narrated from the same Imam (as) who said:
“Whoever holds fast to Allah, never can Satan harm him.”20
O’ Lord! Give us success and felicity so that to be an example people by means of holding Your Pure Essence and associating with people in a manner that we can be considered as models and witnesses to others.
O’ Lord! As You called us Muslims in the holy Qur’an and in Your former Heavenly Books, bestow on us success to be submissive to Your Command thoroughly.
O’ Lord! Make us victorious over the enemies who, here and there, try to attack the Qur’an and Islam, and do set us among those who do not rely on the mere name of Islam and Muslim alone, but help us to guard this honour by establishing prayer, paying the poor-rate, Holy Struggle, and holding fast to You, because You are the Excellent Guardian, the Excellent Helper.
- 1. Tafsir-i-Qartabi, Tafsir-i-’Abul-Futuh-i-Razi, Tafsir-i-Fakhr-i-Razi, and Tafsir-i-Rauh-ul-Ma‘ani, following the verse
- 2. Surah Fatir, No. 35, verse 1
- 3. Surah Saba, No. 34, verse 3
- 4. Jawami‘-ul-Jami‘, following the verse; and Tafsir-ul-Burhan, vol. 3, following the verse.
- 5. Nahj-ul-Balaqah, Sermon 27
- 6. Sahih-I-Muslim, No. 1910
- 7. Qurar-ul-Hikam, No. 5452
- 8. Ibid, 5455
- 9. Wasa’il-ush-Shi‘ah, vol. 11, p. 35
- 10. Kanz-ul-‘Ummal, vol. 4, p. 298
- 11. Ibid, p. 304
- 12. Ibid, p. 286
- 13. Wasa’il-ush-Shi‘ah, vol. 6, p. 123
- 14. Kanz-ul-‘Ummal, vol. 4, p. 357
- 15. In the Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Ma’idah, verse 3 He has explicitly called this religion Islam, where it says:
“… and completed My favour on you, and I have chosen for you Islam as a religion, …”
- 16. Taken from the book by Kamal-ud-Din, Saduq, according to the quotation of Nur-uth-Thaqalayn, vol. 3, p. 526. There have also been narrated other narrations with the same content in this field.
- 17. Tafsir-i-Burhan, vol. 3, p. 105
- 18. Qurar-ul-Hikam, No. 2390
- 19. Qurar-ul-Hikam, No. 7826 and, Mizan-ul-Hikmah, vol. 8, p. 3802
- 20. Qurar-ul-Hikam, No. 8035, and Mizan,ul-Hikmah, vol. 8, p. 3803