“Indeed, those you call upon besides Allah are servants like you. So call upon them and let them respond to you, if you should be truthful.”(Qur’an 7:194)
This is actually quite interesting.
So recently when discussing with a friend of mine he had brought this verse to my attention. What he suggested is that it looks as if Allah (swt) is giving temporary permission to commit shirk in order to prove a point.
The verse is compounded by problems if we pause and reflect for a moment.
What actually was the intention of Allah (swt) to tell people to call upon other deities? What did Allah think would be proved by people doing exactly that?
Let us say for example that I was a Christian and I wanted to prove that Jesus was God. So I say, “Well, Jesus please show these heathen that you are indeed the one true God!” What happens if at that particular moment the ground began to shake? What if a seismic event just so happens to occur at that particular moment? So would the logical conclusion be: “Jesus is God?”
Let us say for example that I believed in Odin. I was tired of all the mockery and I took Allah (swt) up on his challenge. So I say, “Odin give us a sign answer us that you are the true God.” Suddenly the lightning strikes the ground near us, and the thunder clap is so deafening that we almost have a heart attack! What is the logical conclusion? “Odin is God?”
Are these observable evidences coincidence or proofs that these deities are who their followers claim them to be?
The verse in question above seems a rather curious way to go about proving /disproving the rival claims of other faith traditions. In particular the phrase: “So call upon them and let them respond to you..” As no specific period of time is given. For example we also have this statement in the Qur’an:
“Call upon Me, I will respond to you.” (Qur’an 40:60)
So, the Palestinians who get bombed daily by the Israeli military when they call upon Allah (swt) to deliver them from oppression does it happen?
When a simple villager in Syria is held hostage by Al Nusrat/ISIS, Hezbollah, FSA/Syrian Army (pick one) and he watches his 17 year old daughter get raped before him and he beseeches Allah (swt) with tears and long suffering and agony in his heart, “Oh Allah, Ya Latif, I am begging you, I associate no partner with you, please do not allow my daughter to suffer this shame, this indignity.”
Yet, he is forced to watch at gun point as she is raped. So what would we as Muslims say about these instances? We could say that Allah (swt) is not obligated to answer. Allah (swt) heard their prayers and he has a wisdom in what is transpiring.
So if Allah (swt) is not expected to “perform on the spot” than why would Jesus, or Odin, or any other deity that people worship be expected to “perform on the spot” or be obligated to answer at all?
So the challenge does seem a bit strange. Especially in light of the following verses:
“And when they said, “O Allah , if this should be the truth from You, then rain down upon us stones from the sky or bring us a painful punishment.” But Allah would not punish them while you, [O Muhammed], are among them, and Allah would not punish them while they seek forgiveness.” (Qur’an 8:32-33)
So here the disbelievers issue their own challenge to Allah (swt). They ask that stones be sent down upon them from the sky. Yet ,the response seems like an escape clause.
The Prophet Muhammed (saw) is among them.
Allah (swt) will not punish them while they seek forgiveness.
I am not sure that I understand the response, “while you are among them.” because Allah (swt) can do anything. He can send down an entire asteroid upon Madinah and have it destroy everyone and the Prophet Muhammed (saw) and the believers could remain unscathed.
For example we are told that Noah was among his people when the wrath of Allah came down upon them. Noah was saved and the son was overwhelmed by the flood.
“The son replied: “I will betake myself to some mountain: it will save me from the water.” Noah said: “This day nothing can save, from the command of Allah, any but those on whom He has mercy! “And the waves came between them, and the son was among those overwhelmed in the Flood.” (Qur’an 11:43)
“Allah would not punish them while they seek forgiveness.”
This is also curious considering these were haughty people who issuing the same sort of challenges that Allah (swt) issued to them about their gods.
So what my friend was mentioning to me is that if seems that when Allah (swt) was pressed for action the response is evasive and the tone becomes soft and re-conciliatory.
This might be why we have the “wait and see” verses.
“Wait, and I, too, will be waiting with you.” (Qur’an 11:122)
Say, “Wait. Indeed, we [also] are waiting.” (Qur’an 6:158)
Say, “Do you await for us except one of the two best things while we await for you that Allah will afflict you with punishment from Himself or at our hands? So wait; indeed we, along with you, are waiting.” (Qur’an 9:52)