Surah Nahl Ayat 35 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 35
And those who associate others with Allah say, “If Allah had willed, we would not have worshipped anything other than Him, neither we nor our fathers, nor would we have forbidden anything through other than Him.” Thus did those do before them. So is there upon the messengers except [the duty of] clear notification?
The worshippers of false gods say: “If Allah had so willed, we should not have worshipped aught but Him – neither we nor our fathers,- nor should we have prescribed prohibitions other than His.” So did those who went before them. But what is the mission of messengers but to preach the Clear Message?
Those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity say: “Were Allah to will so, neither we nor our forefathers would have worshipped any other than Him, nor would we have prohibited anything without His command.” Their predecessors proffered similar excuses. Do the Messengers have any other duty but to plainly convey the Message?
And those who join others in worship with Allah say: “If Allah had so willed, neither we nor our fathers would have worshipped aught but Him, nor would we have forbidden anything without (Command from) Him.” So did those before them. Then! Are the Messengers charged with anything but to convey clearly the Message?
And the idolaters say: Had Allah willed, we had not worshipped aught beside Him, we and our fathers, nor had we forbidden aught without (command from) Him. Even so did those before them. Are the messengers charged with aught save plain conveyance (of the message)?
And the ones who have associated (others with Allah) have said, “If Allah had so decided, in no way would we have worshiped, apart from Him, anything, neither we nor our fathers; and in no way would we have prohibited, apart from Him, anything (whatsoever).” Thus did the ones before them perform. So are the Messengers (entrusted) with anything except (to deliver) the evident proclamation?
Those who worshipped others alongside God say, ‘If God had willed, we would not have worshipped anything but Him, nor would our fathers. We would not have declared anything forbidden without His sanction.’ Those before them said the same. Are the messengers obliged to do anything other than deliver [their message] clearly?
Quran 16 Verse 35 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Nahl ayat 35, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(16:35) Those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity say: “Were Allah to will so, neither we nor our forefathers would have worshipped any other than Him, nor would we have prohibited anything without His command.” Their predecessors proffered similar excuses. Do the Messengers have any other duty but to plainly convey the Message?
30. In order to understand the significance of this argument the reader should keep in view (Ayats 148-150 and E.N.s 124-126 of Surah Al-Anaam), for this has been cited and answered there.
31. That is, your argument is not a new one but the same old one which had always been offered by erroneous people who went before you. Today you are, like them, excusing yourselves for your deviation and evil conduct, saying that it is the will of God. You know that this is a lame excuse that has been invented to delude yourselves, and to escape from admonition.
This answer also contains a subtle retort to the objection of the disbelievers that the Quran consisted merely of old stories of the ancients (Ayat 24). They meant to imply that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had nothing new to offer. So he was repeating the same old stories that had been repeated over and over again since the time of Prophet Noah (peace be upon him). The retort is this: If the Prophet (peace be upon him) was not presenting anything new but was reciting the old stories of the ancients, you yourselves are not putting forward any new excuse in defense of your evil deeds, but the same old excuse that was put forward by the people who went before you.
35. And those who worshipped others with Allah said: “If Allah had so willed, neither we nor our fathers would have worshipped any but Him nor would we have forbidden anything without (a command from) Him.” Those before them did the same. Then! Are the Messengers charged with anything but to clearly convey the Message 36. And We have indeed sent a Messenger to every Ummah (community, nation) (saying): “Worship Allah (Alone), and shun the Taghut (all false deities). ” Then among them were some whom Allah guided, and among them were some who deserved to be left to stray. So travel through the land and see the end of those who denied (the truth). 37. (Even) if you desire that they be guided, then verily, Allah does not guide those whom He allowed to stray, and they will have no helpers.
Allah tells us about the idolators delusion over their Shirk, and the excuse they claimed for it based on the idea that it is ordained by divine decree. He says:
((They say) “If Allah had so willed, neither we nor our fathers would have worshipped any but Him, nor would we have forbidden anything without (a command from) Him.”) They had superstitious customs dealing with certain animals, e.g. the Bahirah the Sa’ibah and the Wasilah and other things that they had invented and innovated by themselves, with no revealed authority. The essence of what they said was: “If Allah hated what we did, He would have stopped by punishing us, and He would not have enabled us to do it.” Rejecting their confusing ideas, Allah says:
(Are the Messengers charged with anything but to clearly convey the Message) meaning, the matter is not as you claim. It is not the case that Allah did not rebuke your behavior; rather, He did rebuke you, and in the strongest possible terms, and He emphatically forbade you from such behavior. To every nation – that is, to every generation, to every community of people – He sent a Messenger. All of the Messengers called their people to worship Allah (Alone) as well as forbidding them from worshipping anything or anybody except for Him.
(Worship Allah (Alone), and shun the Taghut (all false deities).) Allah continued sending Messengers to mankind with this Message, from the first incidence of Shirk that appeared among the Children of Adam, in the people to whom Nuh was sent – the first Messenger sent by Allah to the people of this earth – until He sent the final Messenger, Muhammad , whose call was addressed to both men and Jinn, in the east and in the west. All of the Messengers brought the same Message, as Allah says:
(And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We revealed to him (saying): None has the right to be worshipped but I (Allah), so worship Me (alone and none else).”) (21:25)
(And ask (O Muhammad) those Messengers of Ours whom We sent before you: “Did We ever appointed to be worshipped besides the Most Gracious (Allah)”) (43:45) And in this Ayah, Allah says:
(And We have indeed sent a Messenger to every Ummah (community, nation) (saying): “Worship Allah (alone), and shun the Taghut (all false deities).”) So how could any of the idolators say,
(If Allah had so willed, we would not have worshipped any but Him,) The legislative will of Allah is clear and cannot be taken as an excuse by them, because He had forbidden them to do that upon the tongue of His Messengers, but by His universal will ﴿i.e., by which He allows things to occur even though they do not please Him﴾ He allowed them to do that as it was decreed for them. So there is no argument in that for them. Allah created Hell and its people both the Shayatin (devils) and disbelievers, but He does not like His servants to disbelieve. And this point constitutes the strongest proof and the most unquestionable wisdom. Then Allah informs us that He rebuked them with punishment in this world, after the Messengers issued their warning, thus He says:
(Then among them were some whom Allah guided, and among them were some who deserved to be left to stray. So travel through the land and see the end of those who denied (the truth).) This means: ask about what happened to those who went against the Messengers and rejected the truth, see how:
(Allah destroyed them completely, and a similar (end awaits) the disbelievers.) (47:10) and,
(And indeed those before them belied (the Messengers of Allah), so then how terrible was My denial (punishment)) (67:18) Then Allah told His Messenger that His eagerness to guide them will be of no benefit to them if Allah wills that they should be misguided, as He says:
(And for whoever Allah wills to try with error, you can do nothing for him against Allah) (5:41). Nuh said to his people:
(“And my advice will not profit you, even if I wish to give you good counsel, if Allah’s will is to keep you astray.”)(11:34). In this Ayah, Allah says:
((Even) if you desire that they be guided, then verily, Allah does not guide those whom He allowed to stray,) As Allah says:
(Whomsoever Allah allows to stray, then there is no guide for him; and He lets them wander blindly in their transgressions.) (7:186)
(Truly! Those deserving the Word (wrath) of your Lord will not believe, even if every sign should come to them – until they see the painful torment) (10:96-97).
(then verily, Allah) meaning, this is the way in which Allah does things. If He wills a thing, then it happens, and if He does not will a thing, then it does not happen. For this reason Allah says:
(Allah does not guide those whom He allowed to stray,) meaning the one whom He has caused to go astray, so who can guide him apart from Allah No one.
(And they will have no helpers.) means, they will have no one to save them from the punishment of Allah,
(Surely, His is the creation and commandment. Blessed is Allah, the Lord of all that exists!) (7:54).
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