Surah Kafirun >> Currently viewing Surah Kafirun Ayat 3 (109:3)

Surah Kafirun Ayat 3 in Arabic Text

وَلَآ أَنتُمْ عَـٰبِدُونَ مَآ أَعْبُدُ
Wa laaa antum ‘aabidoona maaa a’bud

English Translation

Here you can read various translations of verse 3

Sahih International
Nor are you worshippers of what I worship.

Yusuf Ali
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.

Abul Ala Maududi
neither do you worship Him Whom I worship;

Muhsin Khan
“Nor will you worship that which I worship.

Pickthall
Nor worship ye that which I worship.

Dr. Ghali
Nor are you worshiping what I worship,

Abdel Haleem
you do not worship what I worship,

Quran 109 Verse 3 Explanation

For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Kafirun ayat 3, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.

Ala-Maududi

(109:3) neither do you worship Him Whom I worship;[3]


3. The words used are: ma abudu. The word ma in Arabic, is generally used for lifeless or unintelligent things, and the word mun for intelligent and rational beings. The question arises why has ma abudu been used here instead of man abudu? The commentators generally give four answers to it:

(1) That ma here is in the meaning of mun.

(2) That ma here is in the meaning of alladhi (i.e. which or who).

(3) That in both the sentences ma is in the meaning of a noun of action (masdar) and it means: I do not perform the kind of worship that you perform, i.e. polytheistic worship, and you do not perform the kind of worship that I perform, i.e. worship of One God.

(4) That since in the first sentence ma tabuduna has been used, in the second ma abudu has been used to keep the style; in both places there is only the uniformity of the word, there is no uniformity of meaning; instances of this are found elsewhere also in the Quran. For example, in (Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayat 194), it has been said: Therefore, if anyone transgresses a prohibition by attacking you, you may do likewise. Obviously, to transgress likewise in retaliation is no transgression, but the word transgression (in retaliation) has been used only for the sake of uniformity in style. In (Surah At-Taubah, Ayat 67), it has been said: They forgot Allah, so Allah forgot them. Whereas Allah does not forget. What is meant to be said is that Allah ignored them. The word nisyan in respect of Allah has been used corresponding to their nisyan (forgetfulness) only to keep the uniformity of the study.

Although all these four interpretations are correct in their own way, and there is room in Arabic to take all these meanings, yet none of these explains the real object for which ma abudu has been used instead of mun abudu. As a matter of fact, when mun is used for a person in Arabic, it is meant to say or ask something about his person, and when ma is used, it is meant to ask or express something about his characteristics and traits. This can be explained in English by the questions: who is he, and what is he, about a person. When it is asked, who is he, the object is to know something about his person. But when it is asked, what is he, the object is to know whether, for example, he belongs to the army, and if so, what is his rank, or whether he belongs to some teaching organization, and if so, whether he is a lecturer in it, or a reader, or a professor, what science or art subject he teaches, what are his qualifications, etc.

Thus, if in this verse, it was said: La antum abiduna mun abud, it would mean: You are not worshippers of the being whom I worship, and in response, the disbelievers and the polytheists could have said that they too believed in the Being of Allah and also worshipped Him. But when it was said: La antum abiduna ma abud, it meant: You are not worshippers of the deity who has the attributes of the deity whom I worship.

And this is the real point on the basis of which the religion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is absolutely distinguished from the religions of all kinds of disbelievers, besides the deniers of God, for his God is utterly different from the God of all of them. The God of some of them is such that He stood in need of rest on the seventh day after having created the world in six days, Who is not God of the universe but God of Israel, Who stands in a special relationship to the people of one particular race, which is not shared by other men, Who wrestles with the Prophet Jacob and cannot throw him, Who has also a son, named Ezra. The God of some others is father of an only son, called Jesus Christ, and He causes His son to be crucified in order to make him an atonement for the sins of others. The God of some has wife and children, but begets only daughters. The God of some assumes human form and shape and living in a human body on the earth works like men. The God of some is merely an Essence, or Cause of causes, or the First Cause, Who after giving the system of the universe the initial push is sitting aside unconcerned, the universe is working by itself according to some relentless laws, and now He and man have nothing to do with each other. In short, even the unbelievers who acknowledge God do not, in fact, acknowledge the God, Who is the Creator, Master, Disposer, Administrator and Ruler of the entire universe, Who has not only set the system of the universe but is running and controlling it by Himself every moment, Who is above every defect, fault, weakness and error, Who is free from every similitude, every physical limitation, every likeness, Who is Self- Sufficient of every companion and associate, Who has no partner in His Being, attributes, powers and entitlement to worship, Who is far too Holy that He should have children, or should take some one for a son, or should have an exclusive relationship with a community or race, Who is directly related to each individual creature of His as its Providence, Sustainer and Guardian, Who hears the prayers and answers them, Who alone possesses all the powers to give life and death, to cause profit and loss, and to make and mar destinies, Who not only sustains His creatures but also guides each according to its nature and need, Who is not only our God Whom we worship but also enjoins commands and prohibitions through His Prophets and His Books, which we have to obey, before Whom we are accountable for our deeds, Who will resurrect us after death, call us to account and reward and punish us accordingly. No one in the world except for Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his followers are worshipping the God with these attributes. If at all some others also are worshipping God, they are not worshipping the real and true God but the God who is their self-invented, imaginary God.

Ibn-Kathir

The tafsir of Surah Kafirun verse 3 by Ibn Kathir is unavailable here.
Please refer to Surah Kafirun ayat 1 which provides the complete commentary from verse 1 through 6.

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