A review of verses linked together

The second verse of the Surah 'Al-Baqarah' provides the answer to the prayer made in the Surah Al-Fatihah, اهْدِنَا الصِّرَ‌اطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ "Guide us in the straight path"- that is to say, the guidance man has prayed for is present in this book, for the Holy Qur'an is from the beginning to the end a detailed account of the straight path. Then, the Surah proceeds to divide men into three groups according to whether they accept the guidance of the Holy Qur'an or not. Three verses speak of the true and God-fearing Muslims, who not only accept but also act upon the guidance, and the next two verses of those disbelievers who oppose it openly.

Then come thirteen verses dealing with the hypocrites who are hostile to this guidance, but, for the sake of petty worldly interests or in seeking to harm the Muslims, try to keep their disbelief concealed and to present themselves as Muslims. Thus, the first twenty verses of the Surah, in dividing men into three groups on the basis of their acceptance or rejection of the guidance, indicate that the proper criterion for dividing men into groups is neither race or colour, nor language nor geography, but religion. Hence those, who believe in Allah and follow the guidance He has provided in the Holy Qur'an, form one nation, and those who disbelieve form a different nation - the Holy Qur'an calls the former the 'party of Allah' and the latter - the party of Satan شیطان ' (58:19-22)

Then, the present verses (21 and 22), addressing the three groups together, present the message for which the Holy Qur'an has been revealed. In asking men to give up the worship of created beings and to worship Allah alone, they adopt a mode of expression which not only makes an affirmation but also supports it with arguments so clear that even an average man, only if he uses his common sense, cannot help being convinced of the Oneness of God.


In starting the address, verse 21 uses the Arabic word An-nas, الناس which signifies man in general, or man as such - so, the word covers all the three groups we have just mentioned. And the message delivered by the verse is:' اعْبُدُوْا رَبَّكُمُ "Worship your Lord." The Arabic word عبادہ ` Ibadah (worship) connotes expending all energies one has in total obedience to somebody, and shunning all disobedience out of one's awe and reverence. (Ruh-al-Bayan) We have earlier explained the meaning of the word Rabb رَبّ (one who gives nurture). Let us add that the choice of this particular name from among the Beautiful names of Allah is very meaningful in the present context, for the affirmation has thus been combined with the argument in a very short sentence. The word Rabb رَبّ indicates that only He is, or can be, worthy of being worshipped, He is the final and absolute Cause of nurturing man - Who changes man through gradual stages of development from a drop of water into healthy, sentient and rational being, and Who provides the means for his sustenance and growth. This truth is so obvious that even an ignorant or intellectually dull man would, on a little reflection, not fail to see and admit that such a power of nurturing can belong only to Allah, and not to a created being. What can a creature do for man, when it owes its very existence to the Creator? Can a needy one come to the help of another? And if it appears to be doing so, the act of nurturing must in reality and ultimately belong to the One Being on whom both have to depend in order to exist at all. So, who else but the Rabb رَبّ can be worthy of adoration and worship?

The sentence is addressed to all the three groups of men, and for each it has a different meaning. اعْبُدُوْا رَبَّكُمُ "Worship your Lord": the phrase calls upon the disbelievers to give up worshipping created beings and to turn to the Creator; it asks the hypocrites to be sincere and true in their faith; it commands the sinning Muslims to change their ways and try to be perfect in their obedience to Allah; and it encourages the God-fearing Muslims to be steadfast in their worship and obedience, and to make a greater effort in the way of Allah (Ruh-al-Bayan).

The two verses proceed to enlarge upon the theme by specifying certain special qualities of the Rabb: الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ ''Who created you and those before you." This is a quality which one cannot even imagine to belong to a created being, for it can pertain only to the Creator - that is, the quality of giving existence to what did not exist before, and of producing from the darkness and filth of the mother's womb a creature as lovely and noble as man.

In adding to the phrase: الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ :"who created you" the words, الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ ; and those before you," the verse shows that Allah alone is the Creator of all mankind. It is also significant that the verse mentions only "those before you" and not "those who will come after you", and through this omission suggests that there will not be any Ummah (a traditional community formed by all the followers of a prophet) to succeed the Ummah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، for no prophet will be sent down after the Last Prophet ﷺ ، and hence no new ` Ummah' will arise.

The final phrase of verse 21 لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ has been translated here as "so that you may become God-fearing". It may also be translated to mean "So that you may save yourselves from hell", or "So that you may guard yourselves against evil." But the point is that one can hope to attain salvation and paradise only when one worships Allah alone, and does not associate anyone else with Him.

Before we proceed, we must clarify a very important doctrinal point. The phrase (لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ ) which has been translated here as "so that you may become God-fearing"

The Doctrine Of Tauhid توحید : A source of peace in human life

Tauhid توحید ، the most fundamental doctrine of Islam, is not a mere theory, but the only effective way of making man a man in the real sense of the term - it is his first and last refuge and the panacea for all his ills. For the essence of this doctrine is that every possible change in the physical universe, its very birth and death is subject to the will of the One and Only Being, and a manifestation of His wisdom. When this doctrine takes hold of a man's mind and heart, and becomes his permanent state, all dissension ceases to exist and the world itself changes into a paradise for him, as he knows that the enmity of the foe and the love of the friend equally proceed from Allah who rules over the hearts of both. Such a man lives his life in perfect peace, fearing none and expecting nothing from anyone: shower him with gold, or put him in irons, he would remain unmoved, for he knows where it comes from.

This is the significance of the basic declaration of the Islamic creed, لَا الٰہَ الا اللہ (there is no God but Allah). But, obviously, it is not enough to affirm the Oneness of God orally; one must have a complete certitude, and must also have the truth always present close to one's heart, for Tauhid توحید is to see God as one, and not merely to say that He is one. Today, the number of those who can respect this basic formula of the Islamic creed runs to millions all over the world - far more than it ever did, but mostly it is just an expense of breath: their lives do not show the colour of Tauhid توحید ; or otherwise, they should have been like their forefathers who were daunted neither by wealth nor by power, awed neither by numbers nor by pomp and show to turn their back upon the Truth - when a prophet could all by himself stand up against the world, and say: ثُمَّ كِيدُونِ فَلَا تُنظِرُ‌ونِ :"So try your guile on me, then give me no respite" (7 :195). If the blessed Companions and their successors came to dominate the world in a few years, the secret lay in this Tauhid توحید ، correctly understood and practised. May Allah bless all the Muslims with this great gift!