These verses are meant to prove the falsity of three different types of idol-worshippers. The first group among them, and the most absurd of all, was of the people who believed that these idols, made of stones are the partners of Allah and His associates in all His powers. The beginning part of the verse 22 refutes their presumption by saying, "They do not possess (anything) even to the measure of a particle...". The second group of them used to believe that these idols are the helpers of Allah in managing affairs of the universe. The last part of Verse 22 deals with this group by saying, "And He (Allah) has no helper from among them." There was a third group of people who did not hold the idols as gods or helpers of god, but they maintained that these idols are so close to Allah that their intercession is always approved by Him, and whoever has the advantage of their intercession, his desires may well be fulfilled. Verse 23 has refuted this belief by saying, "And intercession before Him is of no benefit, but for the one whom He has permitted." The sense is that their assumption that idols are close to Allah is not correct. They are neither close to Allah, nor do they have any power of intercession before Him. Then the text clarifies that even angels who are close to Allah cannot intercede for anyone without Allah's permission, and even if they are allowed to intercede, it is not easy for them to do that, because of Allah's awe they' have in their hearts. The usual way in which they receive a command from Allah is that they become nervous, due to Allah's awe, when they receive it. Then once they return to their normal condition, they ask each other about the command to ensure its correct nature. This is the sense of the later part of Verse 23 where it is said, "Until when fear is removed from their hearts, they will say (to each other), "What did your Lord say?" They say, "the Truth".] l ]
[ 1] This part is abridged from Khulasa-e-tafsir.(` Uthmani)
As for angels becoming nervous out of awe referred to in verse 22, its full description is given in a report from Sayyidna Abu Hurairah ؓ appearing in the Sahih of al-Bukhari. Says the relevant part of the long Hadith report: When a command from Allah Ta’ ala issues forth through the heavens, all angels start flapping their wings in humility and emotional readiness to obey (as if dazed or benumbed of consciousness). When that effect of nervousness, awe and majesty recedes from their hearts, they say: 'What did your Lord say?' Others tell them that He has spoken the truth and that such and such command has come from Him.
And it appears in the Sahih of Muslim that Sayyidna Ibn ` Abbas ؓ reports from some Sahabi that the Holy Prophet ﷺ said, 'When our Rabb, may His name be exalted, gives a command, the angels hold in the Divine Throne start reciting tasbih (saying glory) for Him. Hearing the tasbih done by them, angels of the next lower level of the heavens follow suit until this chain of glorification reaches the lowest level that is the firmament of the world (making it a simultaneously recited tasbih by angels from all heavens). Then, they ask the angels who are close to the Throne, 'What did your Lord say?' This they tell them. Then, in the same manner, those of the lower heavens ask those of the upper the same question until this chain of question and answer extends up to the firmament of the world' - excerpt from a long Hadith. (Mazhari)