Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verses 165, 166 & 167
Verses 165, 166 & 167
Yet there are among humankind those who take to themselves objects of worship as rivals to God, loving them with a love like that which is the due of God only – while those who truly believe are firmer in their love of God. If only those who do this wrong could see – as they will see when they behold the punishment – that the power altogether belongs to God, and that God is severe in punishment. (Chapter 2: Verse 165)
In the previous verse, Allah presented ample evidence of His Lordship to the thoughtful mind; from celestial objects, to the alternation of day and night, rain and much more. All these signs transcend our capabilities as humans, yet they serve us and provide support to our comfortable existence. All these signs point in one direction: to God the Creator of the universe. In this verse, Allah talks about those who ignore His signs, entertain disbelief and create Gods for themselves.
The word ‘rivals’ means someone who is equal, or at least similar. A disbeliever is the one who takes equals to God. The polytheist, on the other hand, does not attribute divinity to God alone; rather he or she ascribes partners to Him. Each loves these Gods or partners with the same love and devotion he or she feels to God. In other words, the disbelievers and polytheists love the one they appointed as their deity as if it were a true deity. However, God says: “While those who truly believe are firmer in their love of God” why are the believers firmer in their love, you may ask? We answer that a disbeliever or polytheist may treat his or her multiple Gods as equals on a day to day basis, however, when distress or calamity strikes, the love for the false deities wavers. You will find that a disbeliever struck with adversity would instinctively call to God and God alone. The Almighty says:
When trouble befalls man he cries out to Us, whether lying on his side, sitting, or standing, but as soon as We relieve him of his trouble he goes on his way as if he had never cried out to Us to remove his trouble. In this way the deeds of such reckless people are made attractive to them. (10:12)
A person may deceive him or herself and overcome instinct at the time of comfort. However, at the time of real need, he or she clearly sees through this self-deception and supplicate to the one true God who can relieve this trouble. Even an atheist naturally calls “O Lord save me” at the time of real adversity. God says:
When man suffers some affliction, he prays to his Lord and turns to Him penitently. But once he has been granted a favour from God, he forgets the One he had been praying to and sets up rivals to God, to make others stray from His path. Say, ‘Enjoy your ingratitude for a little while: you will be one of the inhabitants of the Fire.’ (39:08)
In contrast, a true believer loves Allah equally in both adversity and prosperity. Thus, those who believe are stronger in their love for God because they never waiver in good times or in hardship.
Sadly for the disbelievers and the polytheists, a false God can neither benefit them in good times, nor help in bad times. By sanctifying other deities, they only wrong themselves. God says “If only those who do this wrong could see – as they will see when they behold the punishment – that the power altogether belongs to God, and that God is severe in punishment.’ In fact, those who commit this grave sin will be startled on the Day of Judgment when they see their false Gods as fuel for hellfire. Why would Allah cast these stone idols and false Gods in hellfire for no fault of their own? We answer that if the idolater does not see his or her false God in hellfire; he or she may think that it is just a matter of time till the false Gods come to the rescue. But Allah, as an increase in punishment, will show them that those false Gods are not only sharing the punishment, but they are also the fuel by which the disbeliever will burn. God explains:
You and all the things you deify and worship apart from God are but firewood for Hell. You are bound to be cast in it (21:98)
and in another verse:
If you fail to do that – and you will most certainly fail – then guard yourselves against the Fire whose fuel is human beings and stones, prepared for the unbelievers. (02:24)
Allah has warned all against the punishment of the hereafter. Sadly, those who ignored these warnings will only come to believe when they see the punishment on that dreadful day. God says: If only those who do this wrong could see – as they will see when they behold the punishment that the power altogether belongs to God, and that God is severe in punishment.’ Allah further illustrates their condition in the next verse of ‘The Cow.’ He says:
When those who have been followed disown their followers, when they all see the suffering, when all bonds between them are severed (Chapter 2: Verse 166)
Those who make disbelief and disobedience attractive to others will disassociate themselves from all their followers on the Day of Judgment. Even Satan, the most infamous misleader, will disassociate himself for all his followers. God says:
When everything has been decided, Satan will say, ‘God gave you a true promise. I too made promises but they were false ones: I had no power over you except to call you, and you responded to my call, so do not blame me; blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I reject the way you associated me with God before.’ A bitter torment awaits such wrongdoers (14:22)
Satan will not be able to save any his followers when they call for help. Nor will his call for help will be answered by anyone. Each of them will want nothing to do with the other. Every soul will be confined to what it has earned.
Keep in mind that Satan does not possess the authority to compel any person to do anything he or she does not want to do. Neither does he have the power to make one feel comfortable with any sin. In fact, Satan does not have any power or authority over any human being. Authority is of two types: first, forcing one to do an act he or she does not want to do, this is known as the power of compulsion. And second: convincing a person to voluntarily do an act while he or she is content; this is known as the power of persuasion. Satan does not have the authority of compulsion nor the power of persuasion. Sadly, the whisper of Satan often finds an inclination and a desire within us and thus we lend it an attentive ear and pursue it. However, we should always keep in mind the end result of this struggle: On the Day of Judgment Satan will confess that all he did, and all he could do, was to call on people to sin. Whoever responded to this call has only him or herself to blame. And that is the case for anyone who invites others towards sin and disbelief. God says:
When We gather them all together and say to the polytheists, ‘Where are those you claimed were partners with God?’ in their utter dismay "By God, our Lord, we were not of those who associated partners with You." Look! – How they lie against themselves, and how what they fabricated as partners to God have deserted them! (6:22-24)
So what happens when all these relationships are cut off? God answers in the next verse of ‘The Cow’:
and when the followers will say, ‘If only we could have another chance at life, we would disown them as they disowned us!’ Thus shall Allah show them their deeds as regrets for themselves, and they shall never leave the Fire. (Chapter 2: Verse 167)
Regret is the feeling you get when you know that you will not have another chance to correct what you had done. This is the feeling of the disbeliever on the Day of Judgment. And the wish to return to this world for another try will not be granted. Neither regret, nor hope will bring them out of hellfire.