Allah the Exalted rebukes the idolators for worshipping idols and taking rivals to Him. They built houses for their idols to resemble the Ka`bah built by Prophet Ibrahim, Allah's Khalil.
(Have you then considered Al-Lat,) Al-Lat was a white stone with inscriptions on. There was a house built around Al-Lat in At-Ta'if with curtains, servants and a sacred courtyard around it. The people of At-Ta'if, the tribe of Thaqif and their allies, worshipped Al-Lat. They would boast to Arabs, except the Quraysh, that they had Al-Lat. Ibn Jarir said, "They derived Al-Lat's name from Allah's Name, and made it feminine. Allah is far removed from what they ascribe to Him. It was reported that Al-Lat is pronounced Al-Lat because, according to `Abdullah bin `Abbas, Mujahid, and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, Al-Lat was a man who used to mix Sawiq (a kind of barley mash) with water for the pilgrims during the time of Jahiliyyah. When he died, they remained next to his grave and worshipped him.'' Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Abbas said about Allah's statement,
(Al-Lat, and Al-`Uzza.) "Al-Lat was a man who used to mix Sawiq for the pilgrims.'' Ibn Jarir said, "They also derived the name for their idol Al-`Uzza from Allah's Name Al-`Aziz. Al-`Uzza was a tree on which the idolators placed a monument and curtains, in the area of Nakhlah, between Makkah and At-Ta'if. The Quraysh revered Al-`Uzza.'' During the battle of Uhud, Abu Sufyan said, "We have Al-`Uzza, but you do not have Al-`Uzza.'' Allah's Messenger replied,
«قُولُوا: اللهُ مَوْلَانَا وَلَا مَوْلَى لَكُم»
(Say, "Allah is Our Supporter, but you have no support.'') Manat was another idol in the area of Mushallal near Qudayd, between Makkah and Al-Madinah. The tribes of Khuza`ah, Aws and Khazraj used to revere Manat during the time of Jahiliyyah. They used to announce Hajj to the Ka`bah from next to Manat. Al-Bukhari collected a statement from `A'ishah with this meaning. There were other idols in the Arabian Peninsula that the Arabs revered just as they revered the Ka`bah, besides the three idols that Allah mentioned in His Glorious Book. Allah mentioned these three here because they were more famous than the others. An-Nasa'i recorded that Abu At-Tufayl said, "When the Messenger of Allah conquered Makkah, he sent Khalid bin Al-Walid to the area of Nakhlah where the idol of Al-`Uzza was erected on three trees of a forest. Khalid cut the three trees and approached the house built around it and destroyed it. When he went back to the Prophet and informed him of the story, the Prophet said to him,
«ارْجِعْ فَإِنَّكَ لَمْ تَصْنَعْ شَيْئًا»
(Go back and finish your mission, for you have not finished it.) Khalid went back and when the custodians who were also its servants of Al-`Uzza saw him, they started invoking by calling Al-`Uzza! When Khalid approached it, he found a naked woman whose hair was untidy and who was throwing sand on her head. Khalid killed her with the sword and went back to the Messenger of Allah, who said to him,
(That was Al-`Uzza!)'' Muhammad bin Ishaq narrated, "Al-Lat belonged to the tribe of Thaqif in the area of At-Ta'if. Banu Mu`attib were the custodians of Al-Lat and its servants.'' I say that the Prophet sent Al-Mughirah bin Shu`bah and Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb to destroy Al-Lat. They carried out the Prophet's command and built a Masjid in its place in the city of At-Ta'if. Muhammad bin Ishaq said that Manat used to be the idol of the Aws and Khazraj tribes and those who followed their religion in Yathrib (Al-Madinah). Manat was near the coast, close to the area of Mushallal in Qudayd. The Prophet sent Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb or `Ali bin Abi Talib to demolish it. Ibn Ishaq said that Dhul-Khalasah was the idol of the tribes of Daws, Khath`am and Bajilah, and the Arabs who resided in the area of Tabalah. I say that Dhul-Khalasah was called the Southern Ka`bah, and the Ka`bah in Makkah was called the Northern Ka`bah. The Messenger of Allah sent Jarir bin `Abdullah Al-Bajali to Dhul-Khalasah and he destroyed it. Ibn Ishaq said that Fals was the idol of Tay' and the neighboring tribes in the Mount of Tay', such as Salma and Ajja. Ibn Hisham said that some scholars of knowledge told him that the Messenger of Allah sent `Ali bin Abi Talib to Fals and he destroyed it and found two swords in its treasure, which the Prophet then gave to `Ali as war spoils. Muhammad bin Ishaq also said that the tribes of Himyar, and Yemen in general, had a house of worship in San`a' called Riyam. He mentioned that there was a black dog in it and that the religious men who went with Tubba` removed it, killed it and demolished the building. Ibn Ishaq said that Ruda' was a structure of Bani Rabi`ah bin Ka`b bin Sa`d bin Zayd Manat bin Tamim, which Al-Mustawghir bin Rabi`ah bin Ka`b bin Sa`d demolished after Islam. In Sindad there was Dhul-Ka`bat, the idol of the tribes of Bakr and Taghlib, the sons of the Wa'il, and also the Iyad tribes.
Refuting the Idolators Who appoint Rivals to Allah and claim that the Angels were Females
(Have you then considered Al-Lat, and Al-`Uzza. And Manat, the other third), then Allah said,
أَلَكُمُ الذَّكَرُ وَلَهُ الاٍّنثَى
(Is it for you the males and for Him the females) Allah asked the idolators, `do you choose female offspring for Allah and give preference to yourselves with the males If you made this division between yourselves and the created, it would be,
(a division most unfair!)' meaning, it would be an unfair and unjust division. `How is it then that you make this division between you and Allah, even though this would be foolish and unjust, if you made it between yourselves and others' Allah the Exalted refutes such innovated lies, falsehood and atheism they invented through worshipping the idols and calling them gods,
(They follow but a guess and that which they themselves desire,) they have no proof, except their trust in their forefathers who took this false path in the past, as well as, their lusts and desires to become leaders, and thereby gain honor and reverence for their forefathers,
وَلَقَدْ جَآءَهُم مِّن رَّبِّهِمُ الْهُدَى
(whereas there has surely come to them the guidance from their Lord!), meaning, Allah has sent them Messengers with the clear truth and unequivocal evidence. However, they did not adhere to or follow the guidance that came to them through the Prophets.
Wishful Thinking does not earn One Righteousness
Allah the Exalted said,
أَمْ لِلإِنسَـنِ مَا تَمَنَّى
(Or shall man have what he wishes), asserting that not everyone gets the goodness that he wishes,
(It will not be in accordance with desires (of Muslims), nor those of the People of Scripture.)(4:123) Allah says, not everyone who claims to be guided is truly guided, and not everyone gets what he wishes for himself. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(When one of you wishes for something, let him be careful with what he wishes for, because he does not know what part of his wish will be written for him.)Only Ahmad collected this Hadith. Allah's statement,
فَلِلَّهِ الاٌّخِرَةُ والاٍّولَى
(But to Allah belongs the last and the first.) meaning, all matters belong to Allah and He is the King and Owner of this world and the Hereafter, Who does what He will in both lives. Whatever He wills, occurs and whatever He does not will, never occurs.
(Intercession with Him profits not except for him whom He permits.) (34:23) `If this is the case with the angels who are close to Him, how can you, O ignorant ones, hope for Allah to grant you the intercession of the idols and rivals you worship with Him without having His permission or any divine legislation permitting you to worship them' Rather, Allah has forbidden idol worshipping by the tongues of all of His Messengers and He revealed this prohibition in all of His Books.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
That is, "You regard the teachings being given to you by Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) as erroneous and falsehood, whereas he is being given this knowledge by Allah, and Allah has made him see with his own eyes the verities to which he is testifying before you. Now consider it for yourself as to how irrational are the beliefs that you are following persistently and'' as to whom you arc causing loss by opposing and resisting the person who is guiding you to the Right Way. In this connection, especially the three goddesses that were worshiped generally by the people of Makkah, Ta'if and other parts of Hejaz have been taken as an example. About them, they have been asked: Have you ever considered rationally whether they could have even the slightest role in the affairs of the Godhead of the earth and heavens? Or could they bear any relationship whatever with the Lord of the Universe?
The shrine of Lat was in Ta'if and the Bani Thaqif were so devoted to it that when Abraha was advancing to Makkah with his army of elephants to destroy the Ka'bah, the people only in order to save the temple of their deity had provided the wicked man with guides to lead him w Makkah so that he should spare Lat, whereas like all the Arabs the people of Thaqif also believed that the Ka'bah is Allah's House. Scholars have disputed the meaning of Lat. According to Ibn Jarir Tabari, it is the feminine gender of Allah, i.e. originally this word was allahatun which became al-Lat. According to Zamakhshari, it is derived from hva yalvi,. which means to turn to or bow to somebody. As the polytheists turned to it for worship and bowed to it and circumambulated it, it began to be called Lat. Ibn 'Abbas reads it as left (with a stress on t) and holds it is derived from latt yalittu, which means to churn and mix together. He and Mujahid state that this, in fact, was a man, who lived on a rock near Ta'if, and used to entertain the pilgrims to Makkah with barley drinks and food. When he died the people built a shrine to him on the same rock and began to worship him. But this explanation of Lat, in spite of having been reported on the authority of scholars like Ibn 'Abbas and Mujahid, is not acceptable for two reasons. First, that in the Qur'an it has been called Lat and not Latt; second, that the Qur'an describes all the three as goddesses, and according to this tradition Lat was a man, not a woman.
'Uzza is derived from 'izzat, and it means the one (female) enjoying veneration and respect. This was the special goddess of the Quraish and her shrine was situated at Hurad in the valley of Nakhlah, between Makkah and Ta'if. (For the location of Nakhlah, see E.N. 33 of Surah AL-Ahqaf). The people of Bani Shaiban, who were the allies of the Bani Hashim, were its attendants. The Quraish and the people of other tribes paid visits to it and presented offerings and made sacrifices to it. As for the Ka`bah sacrificial animals were driven to it also and it was held in the highest esteem. Ibn Hisham relates that when Abu Uhaihah was on the point of death, Abu Lahab paid him a visit and found him weeping. Abu Lahab asked, ¦Why do you weep, Abu Uhaihah ? Are you afraid of death ?-and death is the destiny of everybody !" He said, `By God, I do not weep because of the fear of death, but I am grieved to think as to how 'Uzza will be worshipped after me. " Abu Lahab said, "It was neither worshipped for your sake in your lifetime, nor will it be given up after you have left the world." Abu Uhaihah said, 'Now I am satisfied that there are people who will take my place after me."
The shrine of Manat was situated at Qudaid by. the Red Sea between Makkah and Madinah, and the people of Khuza`ah and Aus and Khazraj were in particular its great devotees. People visited it as pilgrims, circumambulated it and made offerings and sacrifices before it. In the Hajj months as soon as the pilgrims became free from their visit to the Ka`bah and the religious services at Mina and 'Arafat, they would start raising cries of ¦Labbaik, labbaik"even there for the purpose of visiting Manat, and the people who intended to go on this second "hajj" did not run between the Safa and the Marwah.
That is, "You held these goddesses as daughters of Allah, Lord of the worlds, and did not consider while inventing this absurd creed that as for yourselves you regarded the birth of a daughter as disgraceful, and desired to have only male children, but as for Allah you assign w Him only daughters!"
That is, "Those whom you call gods and goddesses are neither gods nor goddesses, nor do they possess any attribute of divinity, nor any share whatever in the powers of Godhead. You have of your own whim made them children of God and deities and associates in Godhead. Allah has sent down no authority which you may, produce as a proof in support of your presumptions. "
In other words, the basic causes of their deviation are two: First, that they do not feel any need for the knowledge of reality for the purpose of adopting a creed and religion, but make a supposition on the basis of a mere conjecture and then put belief in it as though it were the reality, Second, that they have, in fact, adopted this attitude in order to follow the lusts of their souls: they desire that they should have such a deity as should help them attain their aims and objects in the world, and if at all there is to be a Hereafter, it should take the responsibility to have them granted forgiveness there too, But it should not impose any restriction of the lawful and the unlawful on them nor should bind them in any discipline of morality. That is why they do not feel inclined to worship One God as taught by the Prophets, and only like to worship these invented gods and goddesses.
That is, in every age the Prophets appointed by Allah have been guiding these wicked people to the Truth, and now Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) has come to tell them as to whom belongs Godhead in reality in the Universe.
Another meaning of this verse can be: "Is man entitled to take anyone he pleases as his god ?" Still another meaning can be: "Can the desire of man to have his prayers answered by these gods ever be fulfilled?"