Chapter Scripts

Surah Al-An’am: 6:121-130

6:121 Hence, eat not of that over which God’s name has not been pronounced: for this would be sinful conduct indeed. And, verily, the evil impulses [within men’s hearts] whisper unto those who have made them their own that they should involve you in the argument [as to what is and what is not a sin]; and if you pay heed unto them, lo! you will become [like] those who ascribe divinity to other beings or forces beside God.


i.e., the fact that they assign a “share” of their devotions to God does not strengthen their belief in Him but, rather, implies a negation of His transcendental uniqueness and, thus, makes them more and more dependent on imaginary divine or semi-divine “mediators”.

6:122 Is Then – he who was dead [in spirit] and whom We thereupon gave life, and for whom We set up a light whereby he might see his way among men- [is then he] like one [who is lost] in darkness deep, out of which he cannot emerge? [But] thus it is: goodly seem all their own doings to those who deny the truth.


Lit., “their [God-]partners make”. As pointed out by Razi, some early commentators were of the opinion that the expression shuraka’uhum (lit., “their associates”) denotes here the “evil beings” or “forces” (shayatin) from among men and jinn referred to in verses 112, 121, 128 and 130 of this surah. It seems to me, however, that what is meant here – as in the preceding verse – is the belief in the existence of anything that could be “associated” with God; hence my rendering of the above phrase as “their belief in beings or powers that are supposed…”, etc.

6:123 And it is in this way that We cause the great ones in every land to become its [greatest] evildoers, there to weave their schemes: yet it is only against themselves that they scheme – and they perceive it not.


This is a reference to the custom prevalent among the pre-Islamic Arabs of burying alive some of their unwanted children, mainly girls, and also to the occasional offering of a boy-child in sacrifice to one or another of their idols (Zamakhshari). Apart from this historical reference, the above Qur’an-verse seems to point out, by implication, the psychological fact that attribution of divinity to anyone or anything but God brings with it an ever-growing dependence on all kinds of imaginary powers which must be “propitiated” by formal and often absurd and cruel rites: and this, in turn, leads to the loss of all spiritual freedom and to moral self-destruction.

6:124 And whenever a [divine] message comes to them, they say, “We shall not believe unless we are given the like of what God’s apostles were given!” [But] God knows best upon whom to bestow His message. Abasement in the sight of God will befall those who have become guilty of evildoing, and suffering severely for all the schemes which they were wont to weave.


i.e., He allows them to behave as they do because He wants them to make use of their reason and of the free will with which He has endowed man.

6:125 And whomsoever God wills to guide, his bosom He opens wide with a willingness towards self-surrender [unto Him], and whomsoever He wills to let go astray, his bosom He causes to be tight and constricted as if he were climbing unto the skies: it is thus that God inflicts horror upon those who will not believe.


The pre-Islamic Arabs falsely claimed that these taboos were ordained by God, as is made clear in the last part of this verse. One of these supposed, arbitrary “ordinances” laid down that only the priests of the particular idol and some men belonging to the tribe could eat the flesh of such dedicated animals, while women were not allowed to do so (Zamakhshari).

6:126 And undeviating is this thy Sustainer’s way. Clearly, indeed, have We spelled out these messages unto people who [are willing to] take them o heart!


i.e., while sacrificing them to their idols It would seem from this allusion that, as a rule, the pagan Arabs did pronounce the name of God – whom they regarded as the supreme deity – over the animals which they slaughtered; in the above-mentioned exceptional cases, however, they refrained from doing so in the belief that God Himself had forbidden it.

6:127 Theirs shall be an abode of peace with their Sustainer, and He shall be near unto them in a result of what they have been doing.


This is the generally-accepted explanation of the term ma’rushat and ghavr ma’rushat (lit., “those which are and those which are not provided with trellises”). The mention of “gardens” serves here to illustrate the doctrine that everything living and growing – like everything else in the universe – owes its existence to God alone, and that it is, therefore, blasphemous to connect it causally or devotionally with any other power, be it real or imaginary.

6:128 And On The Day, when He shall gather them [all] together, [He will say:] “O you who have lived in close communion with [evil] invisible beings! A great many [other] human beings have you ensnared!” And those of the humans who were close to them will say: “O our Sustainer! We did enjoy one another’s fellowship [in life]; but (now that] we have reached the end of our term – the term which Thou hast laid down for us – (we see the error of our ways]!” [But] He will say: “The fire shall be your abode, therein to abide – unless God wills it otherwise.” Verily, thy Sustainer is wise, all-knowing.

6:129 And in this manner do We cause evildoers to seduce one another by means of their (evil) doings.


i.e., by superstitiously declaring as forbidden what God has made lawful to man. All the references to pre-Islamic taboos given in verses 138-140 as well as 142-144 are meant to stress the lawfulness of any food (and, by implication, of any other physical enjoyment) which God has not expressly forbidden through revelation.

6:130 [And thus will God continue:] “O you who have lived in close communion with [evil] invisible beings and [like-minded] humans! Have there not come unto you apostles from among yourselves, who conveyed unto you My messages and warned you of the coming of this your Day [of Judgment]?” They will answer: “We do bear witness against ourselves!” – for the life of this world had beguiled them: and so they will bear witness against themselves that they had been denying the truth.


Lit., “eight [in] pairs – of sheep two and of goats two” (the two other pairs are mentioned in the next verse). This is an outstanding example of the ellipticism often employed in the Qur’an: a mode of expression that cannot be correctly rendered in any other language without the use of explanatory interpolations. The term zawj denotes a pair of things as well as each of the two constituents of a pair: hence my rendering of thamaniyat azwa! (lit., “eight [in] pairs”) as “four kinds of cattle of either sex”. The particular superstition to which this and the next verse refer is probably identical with the one mentioned in 5:103.


The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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