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Towards Understanding the Quran
With kind permission: Islamic Foundation UK
Introduction to Tafheem | Glossary | Verbs
Other resources: Maarif | Dawat 

 Surah An-Nisa 4:116-120 [18/24]
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Verse Summary -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
لَاdoes not
يُشْرَكَpartners be associated
بِهِۦwith Him,
وَيَغْفِرُbut He forgives
دُونَother than
لِمَنfor whom
يَشَآءُ‌ۚHe wills.
وَمَنAnd whoever
يُشْرِكْassociates partners
بِٱللَّهِwith Allah
فَقَدْthen surely
ضَلَّhe lost (the) way,
بَعِيدًاfar away.
يَدْعُونَthey invoke
مِن دُونِهِۦٓbesides Him
إِنَـٰثًاfemale (deities)
وَإِنand not
يَدْعُونَthey invoke
شَيْطَـٰنًاShaitaan -
لَّعَنَهُ ٱللَّهُ‌ۘAllah cursed him
وَقَالَand he said,
لَأَتَّخِذَنَّ`I will surely take
عِبَادِكَyour slaves
نَصِيبًاa portion
وَلَأُضِلَّنَّهُمْ`And I will surely mislead them
وَلَأُمَنِّيَنَّهُمْand surely arouse desires in them,
وَلَأَمُرَنَّهُمْand surely I will order them
فَلَيُبَتِّكُنَّso they will surely cut off
ءَاذَانَ(the) ears
ٱلْأَنْعَـٰمِ(of) the cattle
وَلَأَمُرَنَّهُمْand surely I will order them
فَلَيُغَيِّرُنَّso they will surely change
خَلْقَ(the) creation
ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ(of) Allah.`
وَمَنAnd whoever
ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنَthe Shaitaan
وَلِيًّا(as) a friend
مِّن دُونِbesides
فَقَدْthen surely
خَسِرَhe (has) lost -
خُسْرَانًاa loss
يَعِدُهُمْHe promises them
وَيُمَنِّيهِمْ‌ۖand arouses desires in them
وَمَاand not
يَعِدُهُمُpromises them
ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُthe Shaitaan -

اِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَا يَغۡفِرُ اَنۡ يُّشۡرَكَ بِهٖ وَيَغۡفِرُ مَا دُوۡنَ ذٰ لِكَ لِمَنۡ يَّشَآءُ​ ؕ وَمَنۡ يُّشۡرِكۡ بِاللّٰهِ فَقَدۡ ضَلَّ ضَلٰلًاۢ بَعِيۡدًا‏   اِنۡ يَّدۡعُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِهٖۤ اِلَّاۤ اِنٰـثًـا​ ۚ وَاِنۡ يَّدۡعُوۡنَ اِلَّا شَيۡـطٰنًا مَّرِيۡدًا ۙ‏  لَّـعَنَهُ اللّٰهُ​ ۘ وَقَالَ لَاَ تَّخِذَنَّ مِنۡ عِبَادِكَ نَصِيۡبًا مَّفۡرُوۡضًا ۙ‏  وَّلَاُضِلَّـنَّهُمۡ وَلَاُمَنِّيَنَّهُمۡ وَلَاٰمُرَنَّهُمۡ فَلَيُبَـتِّكُنَّ اٰذَانَ الۡاَنۡعَامِ وَلَاٰمُرَنَّهُمۡ فَلَيُغَيِّرُنَّ خَلۡقَ اللّٰهِ​ؕ وَمَنۡ يَّتَّخِذِ الشَّيۡطٰنَ وَلِيًّا مِّنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰهِ فَقَدۡ خَسِرَ خُسۡرَانًا مُّبِيۡنًا ؕ‏  يَعِدُهُمۡ وَيُمَنِّيۡهِمۡ​ ؕ وَمَا يَعِدُهُمُ الشَّيۡـطٰنُ اِلَّا غُرُوۡرًا‏  
(4:116) Truly it is only associating others with Allah in His divinity that Allah does not forgive,144 and forgives anything besides that to whomsoever He wills. Whoever associates others with Allah in His divinity has indeed strayed far away. (4:117) Rather than call upon Him, they call upon goddesses, and call upon a rebellious Satan145 (4:118) upon whom Allah has laid His curse. He said (to Allah): 'I will take to myself an appointed portion of Your servants146 (4:119) and shall lead them astray, and shall engross them in vain desires, and I shall command them and they will cut off the ears of the cattle,147 and I shall command them and they will disfigure Allah's creation.'148 He who took Satan rather than Allah for his guardian has indeed suffered a man-ifest loss. (4:120) Satan makes promises to them and fills them with vain hopes,149 but whatever he promises them is merely delusion.

144. In this and the following verses we are asked to consider coolly, the end result of obsession with rage and anger, and what kind of people one chooses to identify with in place of the righteous people from whom one foolishly dissociates oneself.

145. No one sets up Satan as his 'god' in the sense that he makes him the object of his ritual worship and declares him to be God in so many words. The way to make Satan one's god is to entrust one's reins to him and let oneself be drawn helplessly in whichever direction he wants; the relationship between the two is, then, that of worshipper and worshipped. This shows that either absolute, unreserved obedience to or blind following of anybody is tantamount to 'worshipping' him, so that whoever indulges in this kind of absolute obedience is guilty of worshipping a 'god' other than the One True God.

146. This shows that Satan is determined to lay his claim to a portion of men's time, to their effort and labour, to their energies and capacities, to their material belongings, and to their offspring, and would somehow trick them into devoting a sizeable portion of all these in his cause.

147. The reference here is to a superstitious Arabian custom. It was customary among the Arabs that after a camel had given birth to five or ten young to slit her ears and let her go in the name of their deity; they considered it forbidden to put her to any work. Likewise, the male camel that had caused the birth of ten camels was consecrated to some deity. The slitting of ears symbolized this consecration.

148. To alter God's creation in some respect does not mean changing its original form. If that was meant, human civilization would have to be considered Satanic in its entirety. For civilization consists essentially of man's putting to use the resources endowed by God. Hence the alteration of God's creation, which is characterized as Satanic, consists in using a thing not for the purpose for which it was created by God. In other words, all acts performed in violation either of one's true nature or of the intrinsic nature of other things are the result of the misleading promptings of Satan. These include, for instance, sodomy, birth control, monasticism, celibacy, sterilization of either men or women, turning males into eunuchs, diverting females from the functions entrusted to them by nature and driving them to perform the functions for which men were created. These and numerous similar measures are enacted by Satan's disciples in this world, which amounts on their part, to saying that the laws of the Creator were faulty and that they would like to 'reform' them.

149. Satanic operations are based on making attractive promises and raising high hopes. Whenever Satan wants to mislead men, whether individually or collectively, he tries to inspire them with Utopian expectations. In some he inspires expectations of ecstatic pleasure and outstanding success in their individual lives. He inspires others with prospects for achieving national glory. To still others he promises the well-being of mankind. He makes people feel confident that they can arrive at the ultimate truth without the aid of revealed knowledge. He deludes others into believing that God neither exists nor that there is any Life-after-Death. He comforts others with the belief that even if there is an After-life, they will be able to escape punishment through the intercession of certain persons. In short, Satan extends to different groups of people different promises and expectations with a view to seducing them.