Polytheists and the Fly

From among these ayat is His statement:

“O mankind! A similitude is coined, so pay you heed to it: Verily those on whom you call besides Allah can never create (even) a fly though they combine together for the purpose. And if the fly took something from them, they could not take it back from it. So weak are both the seeker and the sought! They have not measured Allah His rightful measure. Verily, Allah is All-Strong, All-Mighty.” (Surah al-Hajj:73-74)

Every slave of Allah ought to take heed of this example and contemplate upon it, for it completely removes all sources of shirk from the heart. This is because the least of which the worshipped can do is create that which benefits the worshippers and remove harm from them. In contrast, the idols which the idolators worship cannot create a fly, even if they gather together to do this task.

If this is the case with creating a fly, then it is obvious that they are unable to do that which is greater – the inability to even restore what a fly may take from them. Thus, it is evident that there is nothing weaker or more worthless than idols, who can neither create a fly nor restore what it takes from them, even though it is the weakest of creatures. So how does a sound mind allow the worship of idols? The similitude employed in this ayah is amongst the most eloquent Revelations in which Allah nullified idolatry, condemned idolaters and their reasoning and shows that they are manipulated by the devils like the manner in which a child plays with a ball. For these devils ascribe some attributes of Allah (such as total power, complete knowledge, answering prayers, aiding those in need and being self-sustained) to images and sculptures that have no control over even the tiniest portion of creation, even if they all gathered together to do so. And the fact that this tiny, weak and helpless fly may take something from them – and they are unable to restore it, even if they all gathered together – is enough of an evidence to negate their claims of Lordship. He thus placed the worshipper (idolater) and the worshipped (idols) at the same level in respect of weakness and helplessness when He said: “So weak are (both) the seeker and the sought!”

It was said that the seeker is the worshipper and the sought is the worshipped (idol) to exemplify how a weak thing attaches itself to something weak. It was also said that it is to equate the worshipped idol with the fly in terms of weakness and helplessness and based upon this, the seeker is the worshipped idol and the sought is the fly, i.e. the idolaters seeking the aid of the idol (seeker) to restore what they fly (sought) has taken. It was also said that the seeker is the fly and the sought is the worshipped idol so the fly asks the idol for what took it away. The correct statement is that all these meanings are possible as the words are applicable to the worshipped idol, the worshipper, the seeker and the sought. They are all weak and helpless, therefore he who worshipped these idols besides Allah, Most High, has neither given Allah His rightful measure, nor understood Him in the rightful manner nor glorified Him in a manner befitting His Greatness.

Paragons of the Qur’an by Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyyah Pages 91-93

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s