We should note here that, in these Ayat, Ibrahim, peace be upon him, was debating with his people, explaining to them the error of their way in worshipping idols and images. In the first case with his father, Ibrahim explained to his people their error in worshipping the idols of earth, which they made in the shape of heavenly angels, so that they intercede on their behalf with the Glorious Creator. His people thought that they are too insignificant to worship Allah directly, and this is why they turned to the worship of angels as intercessors with Allah for their provisions, gaining victory and attaining their various needs. He then explained to them the error and deviation of worshipping the seven planets, which they said were the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The brightest of these objects and the most honored to them was the Sun, the Moon then Venus. Ibrahim, may Allah's peace and blessings be on him, first proved that Venus is not worthy of being worshipped, for it is subservient to a term and course appointed that it does not defy, nor swerving right or left. Venus does not have any say in its affairs, for it is only a heavenly object that Allah created and made bright out of His wisdom. Venus rises from the east and sets in the west where it disappears from sight. This rotation is repeated the next night, and so forth. Such an object is not worthy of being a god. Ibrahim then went on to mention the Moon in the same manner in which he mentioned Venus, and then the Sun. When he proved that these three objects were not gods, although they are the brightest objects the eyes can see,
(he said: "O my people! I am indeed free from all that you join as partners in worship with Allah.'') meaning, I am free from worshipping these objects and from taking them as protectors. Therefore, if they are indeed gods as you claim, then all of you bring your plot against me and do not give me respite.
(Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth, Hanifan, and I am not one of the idolators.) meaning, I worship the Creator of these things, Who originated and decreed them, and Who governs their affairs and made them subservient. It is He in Whose Hand is the dominion of all things, and He is the Creator, Lord, King and God of all things in existence. In another Ayah, Allah said,
(Indeed your Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days, and then He Istawa (rose over) the Throne. He brings the night as a cover over the day, seeking it rapidly, and (He created) the sun, the moon, the stars, subjecting them to His command. Surely, His is the creation and commandment. Blessed be Allah, the Lord of all that exists!) (7:54). Allah described Prophet Ibrahim,
(And indeed We bestowed aforetime on Ibrahim his (portion of) guidance, and We were well-acquainted with him. When he said to his father and his people: "What are these images, to which you are devoted'') (21:51-52). These Ayat indicate that Ibrahim was debating with his people about the Shirk they practiced.
(80. His people disputed with him. He said: "Do you dispute with me about Allah while He has guided me, and I fear not those whom you associate with Allah in worship. (Nothing can happen to me) except when my Lord wills something. My Lord comprehends in His knowledge all things. Will you not then remember) (81. And how should I fear those whom you associate in worship with Allah, while you fear not that you have joined in worship with Allah things for which He has not sent down to you any Sultan.(So) which of the two parties has more right to be in security If you but know.'') (82. It is those who believe and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong), for them (only) there is security and they are the guided.) (83. And that was Our proof which We gave Ibrahim against his people. We in degrees raise whom We will. Certainly your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing.) Allah states that His Khalil, Prophet Ibrahim, said when his people mentioned various doubts and disputed with him about the Tawhid that he called to:
(Do you dispute with me about Allah while He has guided me). The Ayah means, do you argue with me about Allah, other than Whom there is no god worthy of worship, while He has guided me to the Truth and made me aware of it Therefore, how can I ever consider your misguided statements and false doubts Ibrahim said next,
(and I fear not those whom you associate with Allah in worship. (Nothing can happen to me) except when my Lord wills something.) Ibrahim said, among the proofs to the falsehood of your creed, is that these false gods that you worship do not bring about any effect, and I do not fear them or care about them. Therefore, if these gods are able to cause harm, then use them against me and do not give me respite. Ibrahim's statement,
(except when my Lord wills something.) means, only Allah causes benefit or harm.
(My Lord comprehends in His knowledge all things.) meaning, Allah's knowledge encompasses all things and nothing escapes His complete observation,
(Will you not then remember) what I explained to you, considering your idols as false gods and refraining from worshipping them This reasoning from Prophet Ibrahim is similar to the argument that Prophet Hud used against his people, `Ad. Allah mentioned this incident in His Book, when He said,
(They said: "O Hud! No evidence have you brought us, and we shall not leave our gods for your (mere) saying! And we are not believers in you. All that we say is that some of our gods have seized you with evil.'' He said: "I call Allah to witness - and bear you witness - that I am free from that which you ascribe as partners in worship with Him (Allah). So plot against me, all of you, and give me no respite. I put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving creature but He has grasp of its forelock. Verily, my Lord is on the straight path (the truth).'') (1:53-56) Ibrahim's statement,
(And how should I fear those whom you associate...) means, how should I fear the idols that you worship instead of Allah,
(while you fear not that you have joined in worship with Allah things for which He has not sent down to you any Sultan.) meaning, proof, according to Ibn `Abbas and others among the Salaf. Allah said in similar Ayat;
(Or have they partners who have instituted for them a religion which Allah has not allowed) (42:21), and,
(They are but names which you have named, you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority.) (53:21) His statement,
((So) which of the two parties has more right to be in security If you but know.) means, which of the two parties is on the truth, those who worship Him in Whose Hand is harm and benefit, or those who worship what cannot bring harm or benefit, without authority to justify worshipping them Who among these two parties has more right to be saved from Allah's torment on the Day of Resurrection Allah said,
(It is those who believe and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong), for them (only) there is security and they are the guided.) Therefore, those who worship Allah alone without partners, will acquire safety on the Day of Resurrection, and they are the guided ones in this life and the Hereafter.
Al-Bukhari recorded that `Abdullah said, "When the Ayah,
(and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong).) was revealed, the Companions of the Prophet said, `And who among us did not commit Zulm against himself' The Ayah,
(Verily! Joining others in worship with Allah is a great Zulm (wrong) indeed.) (31:13), was later revealed.'' Imam Ahmad recorded that `Abdullah said, "When this Ayah was revealed,
(It is those who believe and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong),) it was hard on the people. They said, `O Allah's Messenger! Who among us did not commit Zulm against himself' He said,
(It is not what you understood from it. Did you not hear what the righteous servant (Luqman) said,
(O my son! Join not in worship others with Allah. Verily! Shirk is a great Zulm (wrong) indeed.)) (31:13). Therefore, it is about Shirk. Allah's statement,
(And that was Our proof which We gave Ibrahim against his people.) means, We directed him to proclaim Our proof against them. Mujahid and others said that `Our proof' refers to,
(And how should I fear those whom you associate in worship with Allah (though they can neither benefit nor harm), while you fear not that you have joined in worship with Allah things for which He has not sent down to you any Sultan. (So) which of the two parties has more right to be in security) Allah has testified Ibrahim's statement and affirmed security and guidance, saying;
(It is those who believe and confuse not their belief with Zulm, for them there is security and they are the guided.) Allah said,
(And that was Our proof which We gave Ibrahim against his people. We raise in degrees whom We will.) And;
(Certainly your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing.) He is All-Wise in His statements and actions, All-Knower of those whom He guides or misguides, and whether the proof was established against them or not. Allah also said,
(Truly! Those, against whom the Word (wrath) of your Lord has been justified, will not believe. Even if every sign should come to them -- until they see the painful torment.) (10:96-97) This is why Allah said here,
(Certainly your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing.)
(84. And We bestowed upon him Ishaq and Ya`qub, each of them We guided, and before him, We guided Nuh and among his progeny Dawud, Sulayman, Ayyub, Yusuf, Musa, and Harun. Thus do We reward the good-doers.) (85. And Zakariyya, and Yahya and `Isa and Iliyas, each one of them was of the righteous.) (86. And Isma`il and Al-Yasa`, and Yunus and Lut, and each one of them We preferred above the `Alamin (mankind and Jinns, of their times).) (87. And also some of their fathers and their progeny and their brethren, We chose them, and We guided them to a straight path.) (88. This is the guidance of Allah with which He guides whomsoever He wills of His servants. But if they had joined in worship others with Allah, all that they used to do would have been of no benefit to them.) (89. They are those whom We gave the Book, Al-Hukm, and prophethood. But if they disbelieve therein, then, indeed We have entrusted it to a people who are not disbelievers therein.) (90. They are those whom Allah had guided. So follow their guidance. Say: "No reward I ask of you for this (the Qur'an). It is only a reminder for the `Alamin (mankind and Jinns).''