The objects of worship strive be 'nearest' in Quran 17:57
Fatwa No: 270019

Question

Salaam alaikum, dear shaikh in this verse ALLAH (Almighty) says: Those whom they invoke seek means of access to their Lord, [striving as to] which of them would be nearest, and they hope for His mercy and fear His punishment. Indeed, the punishment of your Lord is ever feared. (Qur'an 17:57) So does this verse "which of them would be nearest" means the polytheists (striving to be nearest to God) or the objects (or prophets) being worship are striving to be nearest to God. Sir actually I am in India and for Dawah to Hindus I am writing a book on idol worship. Please help me, Jazaak ALLAHU Khair.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

Scholars of Tafseer said that the pronoun (“them”) in the verse: “which of them would be nearest” refers to those who are worshipped of angels, Prophets, righteous people and Jinn. Ash-Shinqeeti  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him explicated the verse saying, “It means, those whom the disbelievers and polytheists worshipped instead of Allaah actually worship Allaah and draw closer to Him by obeying Him and doing whatever leads to His pleasure and achieving His rewards. Those who had worshipped them instead of Allaah should have followed their example!” [Adhwaa’ Al-Bayaan]

This meaning is supported by the tradition reported on the authority of Ibn Mas‘ood  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him as he said, “This verse was revealed in relation to a group of Arabs from the tribe of Khuzaa'ah who were worshipping the Jinn; those Jinns embraced Islam but that group of Arabs continued to worship them; so, this verse was revealed. Thereupon, Allaah, The Exalted, revealed (what means): {Those whom they invoke seek means of access to their Lord.} [Quran 17:57]

Moreover, Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said, “This verse was revealed in relation to those who worshipped ‘Uzayr (Ezra), ‘Eesa (Jesus) and his mother.” It has also been reported on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbaas, Ibn Mas‘ood, Ibn Zayd, and Al-Hasan  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them that this verse was revealed in relation to the worshippers of angels.

Allaah Knows best.

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