“Shall We Turn Back on Our Heels After Allah has Guided us?”: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Allah strikes a parable in part of surah al-An’aam by saying:

قُلْ أَنَدْعُو مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَنفَعُنَا وَلَا يَضُرُّنَا وَنُرَدُّ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَانَا اللَّهُ كَالَّذِي اسْتَهْوَتْهُ الشَّيَاطِينُ فِي الْأَرْضِ حَيْرَانَ لَهُ أَصْحَابٌ يَدْعُونَهُ إِلَى الْهُدَى ائْتِنَا ۗ قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّهِ هُوَ الْهُدَىٰ ۖ وَأُمِرْنَا لِنُسْلِمَ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Say: Shall we call on others besides Allah who cannot help us or harm us and shall we turn back on our heels after Allah has guided us like one whom the shayaateen have made go astray in the earth in confusion while his friends call him to guidance – “come to us!”. Say: Surely, Allah’s guidance is the guidance, and we have been commanded to submit to our Lord of all creation. [6:71]

Commenting on this in his famous book of tafsir, Imam al-Baghawi wrote:

ـ ( قل أندعو من دون الله ما لا ينفعنا ) إن عبدناه ، ( ولا يضرنا ) إن تركناه ، يعني : الأصنام ليس إليها نفع ولا ضر ، ( ونرد على أعقابنا ) إلى الشرك [ مرتدين ] ( بعد إذ هدانا الله كالذي استهوته الشياطين في الأرض ) ، أي : يكون مثلنا كمثل الذي استهوته الشياطين ، أي : أضلته ، ( حيران ) قال ابن عباس : كالذي استهوته الغيلان في المهامة فأضلوه فهو حائر بائر ، والحيران : المتردد في الأمر ، لا يهتدي إلى مخرج منه . ـ

قُلْ أَنَدْعُو مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَنفَعُنَا

Say: Shall we call on others besides Allah who cannot help us …

if we were to worship them

وَلَا يَضُرُّنَا

… or harm us …

if we were to ignore them. This is in reference to idols, which neither bring about benefit nor harm.

وَنُرَدُّ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِنَا

… and shall we turn back on our heels …

back to shirk, apostatizing from Islam

بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَانَا اللَّهُ كَالَّذِي اسْتَهْوَتْهُ الشَّيَاطِينُ فِي الْأَرْضِ

… after Allah has guided us like one whom the shayaateen have made go astray in the earth …

i.e. if we were to do so, then we would be those one whom the shayaateen seduced – that is, led astray

حَيْرَانَ

… in confusion …

ibn ‘Abbaas said, “Like one whom a ghoul seduced during his quest, so he was led astray and became confused and despondent.”

The word hayran – “in confusion” – going back and forth about an issue, with no clear way forward to resolving it.

ـ  ( له أصحاب يدعونه إلى الهدى ائتنا ) هذا مثل ضربه الله تعالى لمن يدعو إلى الآلهة ولمن يدعو إلى الله تعالى ، كمثل رجل في رفقة ضل به الغول عن الطريق يدعوه أصحابه من أهل الرفقة هلم إلى الطريق ، ويدعوه الغول [ هلم ] فيبقى حيران لا يدري أين يذهب ، فإن أجاب الغول انطلق به حتى يلقيه إلى الهلكة ، وإن أجاب من يدعوه إلى الطريق اهتدى . ـ

لَهُ أَصْحَابٌ يَدْعُونَهُ إِلَى الْهُدَى ائْتِنَا

while his friends call him to guidance – “come to us!”.

This is a parable that Allah struck regarding one who invites others to various false deities and one who invites others to Allah. It is like the situation of a man in a caravan who was led astray from the path by a ghoul and the other members of his traveling group are calling him back to the path. Meanwhile the ghoul is also calling him, saying, “come here”. So he remains in a state of confusion and indecisiveness, not knowing which way to go. If he listens to the ghoul, it will continue to lead him on until he perishes, while if he listens those calling him back to the path he will be guided aright.

ـ ( قل إن هدى الله هو الهدى ) يزجر عن عبادة الأصنام ، كأنه يقول : لا تفعل ذلك فإن الهدى هدى الله ، لا هدى غيره ـ

قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّهِ هُوَ الْهُدَىٰ

Say: Surely, Allah’s guidance is the guidance …

Allah is warning us against worshiping idols, as if he were say, “Don’t do that, for the true guidance is Allah’s guidance – not the guidance of anyone else.”

[Ma’alim al-Tanzil 3/156]

Explore more parables of the Qur’an in our Parables of the Qur’an Article Index

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