Here Allah speaks of the lies and fabrications of the idolaters, when they devoted some of their cattle to their false gods and some to Allah, as He described in Surat Al-An`am where He said:
(And they assign to Allah share of the tilth and cattle which He has created, and they say: "This is for Allah'' according to their claim, "and this is for our partners.'' But the share of their partners reaches not Allah, while the share of Allah reaches their partners! Evil is the way they judge!) (6:136). Similarly, out of the two kinds of offspring, sons and daughters, they assigned to Him the worst and least valuable (in their eyes), i.e., daughters, as Allah says:
(Is it for you the males and for Him the females That indeed is a division most unfair!) (53:21-22) And Allah says here:
(Yet, they assign to some of His servants a share with Him. Verily, man is indeed a manifest ingrate!) Then He says:
(Or has He taken daughters out of what He has created, and He has selected for you sons) This is a denunciation of them in the strongest terms, as He goes on to say:
(And if one of them is informed of the news of that which he sets forth as a parable to the Most Gracious, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with grief!) means, if one of these people is given the news that there has been born to him one of those which he attributes to Allah, i.e., a daughter, he hates this news and it depresses and overwhelms him so much that he keeps away from people because he feels so ashamed. Allah says, so how can they dislike that so much and yet they attribute it to Allah
(A creature who is brought up in adornments, and who in dispute cannot make itself clear) means, women are regarded as lacking something, which they make up for with jewelry and adornments from the time of childhood onwards, and when there is a dispute, they cannot speak up and defend themselves clearly, so how can this be attributed to Allah
(And they make females the angels who themselves are servants of the Most Gracious.) means, that is what they believe about them, but Allah denounces them for that and says:
(Did they witness their creation) meaning, did they see Allah creating them as females
(Their testimony will be recorded,) means, concerning that,
(and they will be questioned!) means, about that, on the Day of Resurrection. This is a stern warning and a serious threat.
(And they said: "If it had been the will of the Most Gracious, we should not have worshipped them.'') means, (they said:) `if Allah had willed, He would have prevented us from worshipping these idols which are images of the angels who are the daughters of Allah; He knows about this and He approves of it.' By saying this, they combined several types of error: First: They attributed offspring to Allah -- exalted and sanctified be He far above that. Second: They claimed that He chose daughters rather than sons, and they made the angels, who are the servants of the Most Gracious, female. Third: They worshipped them with no proof, evidence or permission from Allah. This was based on mere opinion, whims and desires, imitation of their elders and forefathers, and pure ignorance. They used Allah's decree as an excuse, and this reasoning betrayed their ignorance. Fourth: Allah denounced them for this in the strongest terms, for from the time He first sent Messengers and revealed Books, the command was to worship Him Alone with no partner or associate, and it was forbidden to worship anything other than Him. Allah says:
(And verily, We have sent among every Ummah a Messenger (proclaiming): "Worship Allah, and avoid all false deities.'' Then of them were some whom Allah guided and of them were some upon whom the straying was justified. So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied.) (16:36)
(And ask those of Our Messengers whom We sent before you: "Did We ever appoint gods to be worshipped besides the Most Gracious'') (43:45) And Allah says in this Ayah, after mentioning this argument of theirs:
(They have no knowledge whatsoever of that.) meaning, of the truth of what they say and the arguments they put forward.
(They do nothing but lie!) means, they tell lies and fabricate untruths.
(They have no knowledge whatsoever of that. They do nothing but lie!) Mujahid said, "They do not appreciate the power of Allah.''
(21. Or have We given them any Book before this (the Qur'an) to which they are holding fast) (22. Nay! They say: "We found our fathers following a certain way and religion, and we guide ourselves by their footsteps.'') (23. And similarly, We sent not a warner before you to any town (people) but the luxurious ones among them said: "We found our fathers following a certain way and religion, and we will indeed follow their footsteps.'') (24. He said: "Even if I bring you better guidance than that which you found your fathers following'' They said: "Verily, we disbelieve in that with which you have been sent.'') (25. So We took revenge on them, then see what was the end of those who denied.)
Allah condemns the idolaters for worshipping others instead of Allah with no evidence or proof for doing so.
(Or have We given them any Book before this) means, before their idolatry.
(to which they are holding fast) means, with regard to what they are doing. This is not the case. This is like the Ayah:
(Or have We revealed to them an authority (a Scripture), which speaks of that which they have been associating with Him) (30:35) meaning, that did not happen. Then Allah says:
(Nay! They say: "we found our fathers following a certain way and religion (Ummah), and we guide ourselves by their footsteps.'') meaning, they have no grounds for their belief in idolatry apart from the fact that they are imitating their fathers and forefathers who were following a certain Ummah or way, i.e., religion. The word Ummah is used in a similar manner elsewhere, where Allah says:
(And verily, this your religion (Ummah) is one religion) (23:52), and they said;
(and we by their footsteps) means, behind them
(We guide ourselves) This is their claim with no evidence. Then Allah points out that what these people say was already said by those who were like them among the nations of the past who disbelieved in the Messengers. Their hearts and their words are similar.
(Likewise, no Messenger came to those before them but they said: "A sorcerer or a madman!'' Have they transmitted this saying to these Nay, they are themselves a people transgressing beyond bounds!) (51:52-53) And Allah says here:
(And similarly, We sent not a warner before you to any town (people) but the luxurious ones among them said: "We found our fathers following a certain way and religion, and we will indeed follow their footsteps.'') Then He says:
(Say) -- `O Muhammad, to these idolaters --'
("Even if I bring you better guidance than that which you found your fathers following'' They said: "Verily, we disbelieve in that with which you have been sent.'') `Even if they were convinced of the truth of what you have brought to them, they will not follow it, because of their evil intentions and their arrogance towards the truth and its people.'
(So We took revenge on them) means, on the disbelieving nations, by inflicting various kinds of punishments, as Allah has described in the stories of those nations.
(then see what was the end of those who denied) means, see what became of them, how they were destroyed and how Allah saved the believers.
(26. And (remember) when Ibrahim said to his father and his people: "Verily, I am innocent of what you worship,'') (27. "Except Him Who created me; and verily, He will guide me.'') (28. And he made it a word lasting among his offspring, that they may turn back.) (29. Nay, but I gave to these and their fathers to enjoy, till there came to them the truth, and a Messenger making things clear.) (30. And when the truth came to them, they said: "This is magic, and we disbelieve therein.'') (31. And they say: "Why is not this Qur'an sent down to some great man of the two towns'') (32. Is it they who would portion out the mercy of your Lord It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this world, and We raised some of them above others in ranks, so that some may employ others in their work. But the mercy of your Lord is better than what they amass.) (33. And were it not that mankind would have become of one community, We would have provided for those who disbelieve in the Most Gracious, silver roofs for their houses, and elevators whereby they ascend,) (34. And for their houses, doors, and thrones on which they could recline,) (35. And adornments of gold. Yet all this would have been nothing but an enjoyment of this world. And the Hereafter with your Lord is for those who have Taqwa.)