In the fourth verse (136), the disbelievers of Arabia have been admonished for a particular error in their behaviour. The custom was that they would take out from the produce of their lands and from the income of their businesses a portion for Allah and a portion for their idols. The portion taken out for Allah they would spend on the poor and the needy while the portion taken out in the name of their idols they would spend on the priests and keepers of the temple of idols.
To begin with, enough was their injustice in that everything was created by Allah Ta` ala, and the produce which came from them was bestowed by Him, yet they went ahead and made idols to share in what was given by Him. On top of this, they would add insult to injury when, should there be a drop in produce, they would apply this shortfall against the portion they meant for Allah saying that Allah was Independent and did not need their things. Thus, they would exact the portion of their idols in full, as well as that of their own. On some occasion, if it so happened that something from the portion taken out for the idols, or from that of their own, went into the portion reserved for Allah, they would pick it up and take it out of there to keep their accounting straight! And if came the occasion when things were the reverse of it, that is, if anything belonging to the portion of Allah was thrown in their own portion, or in the portion of their idols, it was left where it was saying that Allah is need-free, therefore, any shortage in His share will not make any difference! The Holy Qur'an, taking notice of this crooked conduct of theirs, has said: سَاءَ مَا يَحْكُمُونَ (Evil is what they judge -136). It means that their judgment is evil and crude because they are not realizing that it is Allah who created them and created everything that appears to belong to them, yet they go about equating others with Him, and to top it all, they find excuses to shift elsewhere what, according to their own intention, was supposed to belong to Allah.
The Admonition for Disbelievers - A Lesson for Muslims
This is an admonition directed against the waywardness of the disbelievers of Arabia. However, by implication, it holds a sharp lesson for Muslims as well - Muslims who devote their full potential, their life given by Allah, their body and mind, into different sections. They would reserve part of their years and time in life for Allah and His worship - though the right of Allah demanded that all time frames of their living years should have been reserved to obey and worship Him alone. May be, they could have taken out some time for themselves too to take care of human compulsions - and even then, the truth is that the right of Allah that we be grateful to Him would have still remained unfulfilled! But, here we are, in our time and in our places, doing unbelievable things. If, in the twenty four hours of a day and night of our lives, we do get around to fix some time to be devoted to remember Allah and engage ourselves in what we know as His essential ` Ibadah, then strange things start happening. There comes an urgent need, a call or an appointment or something like that, and we be-come pragmatic all of a sudden. The function, the business, the need comes first. No postponement is made in what is pragmatic or personal. The urgency of work stays. The inevitability of rest time stays. The axe falls on nothing but the time which had been fixed for devotion to Allah through prayers and recitation of the Qur'an. This happens most of the time - emergency, urgency, sickness or any other call - what is the first casualty in this rush is nothing but the time that we had ear-marked for our Dhikr and ` Ibadah. We just cannot say how wrong, how ungrateful and how right-compromising this attitude is. May Allah Ta` ala keep us and all Muslims protected from it.