Last of all, we come to the Meccans, to whom Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him), was sent as God's Messenger and to whom therefore the Qur'an's message was immediately addressed. What was the nature of their error? Were they ignorant of God, or did they deny His existence, and was the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace), sent as God's Messenger to make them acknowledge His existence? Or did they deny His being the Ilah and the Rabb, and was it therefore the purpose of the Holy Qur'an to persuade them of His godhood and Rububiyyah? Did they hold that He was not worthy of worship and adoration, or did they disbelieve His being able to listen to their prayers and grant their supplications? Did they think that Lat, Manat, and Uzza and Hubal and their other supposed gods were the real creators, masters, planners and organizers and administrators of the universe and the providers for all the creatures in it? Were their gods, according to them, the sources of all law and moral and social codes? When we study the Qur'an, we find all such questions answered in the negative. The pagans of Arabia not only acknowledged the existence of God but they also believed Him to be Creator and Master of the universe as well as of their own gods, and also the Ilah and Rabb. It was to Him that they addressed all their prayers in the last resort, when all else failed, and they acknowledged His right to their worship and adoration. As for their gods, they believed them neither to be their own creators and masters nor of the universe nor able to provide guidance in the social and moral affairs of life, cf.

(i) Say to them O 'Prophet, "Whose is the earth and all who are in it? Tell me, if you know." Their reply will be: "It all belongs to Allah," Ask them then, "And still you do not listen?" Ask, "Who is the Rabb of the seven heavens and of the Mighty Throne," and they will say, "It is Allah." Ask them then, "And still you do not fear?" Ask, "Whose is the Sovereignty over everything, and who is it who grants shelter but against whose displeasure there is no protector? Tell me, if you know." And they will say, "Allah alone has this attribute." Ask them then, "If that is all so, what makes you go astray?" The fact indeed is that We have given them the Truth, but they practice falsehood. (Quran 23:84-90)

(ii) It is He, Allah, Who enables you to travel over the land and the seas; you board your ships and sail on them and rejoice at favorable winds and then, all of a sudden there comes a stormy gale, and the waves buffet the ship from all sides, and you find yourselves caught in a storm; you then pray to Allah, most devoutly, with hearts filled with faith in Him only and say, 'Deliver us from this storm, ('O Lord,) and we shall be Your truly grateful creatures." But when He has delivered you from the storm, there you go again, turning your back upon the Truth and spreading rebellion in the land. (Quran 10:22-23)

(iii) And when disaster overtakes you while on the sea, all those you worship other than God fail you, (and it is certainly He alone who delivers you), but when you are safe again upon the land, you turn away from Him. Truly, man is a rank ingrate! (Quran 17:67)

As to their beliefs about their gods, the Qur'an brings these out in their own words, as follows:

(i) Those who take others than God as protectors say: "We only give them of our worship that they may bring us closer to God (or intercede with Him)." (Quran 39:3)

(ii) And they say, "They (our gods) are our intercessors with God." (Quran 10:18)

That they had no pretensions about their gods being in any way capable of providing guidance in the affairs of life, is clear from the following verse:

Ask them, O' Prophet: "is there any among those you associate with God, who will guide you towards Truth?" (Quran 10:34)

But when the question is asked it begets nothing but silence. None dares answer that Lat, or Manat, or Uzza, or any of the other gods provide guidance to right thinking and conduct, or teach the ways of justice, peace and harmony, or provide knowledge of basic realities of the universe. And so, receiving no reply, the Qur'an makes the Prophet (on whom be peace) add:

(So much then, for you gods. As for) Allah, (He) indeed guides to Truth. And so, who is worthier of being obeyed-He who guides towards Truth, or he who does nothing of the kind? What is wrong with you? Why can't you be sensible, and how do you come to your baseless conclusion? (Quran 10:34)

This being so, we again come up against the question as to what was their real error about rububiyyah which was sought to be removed through the Holy Prophet (on whom be peace), and for which purpose Allah revealed the Holy Qur'an. When we look into the Qur'an for an answer to this, we find that in their case too the basic errors were the same two which had occurred among those before them, viz.,

(i) Insofar as godhood and rububiyyah in the supernatural sense are concerned, they associated others with God, and thought that in some way or other the angels, the men of piety, and the heavenly bodies, had also a share in the realm of cause and effect. And that is why, in matters of worship, and making supplications, and seeking help, etc., they turned not only to God but also to those others they supposed to be gods.

(ii) As for mundane affairs like culture and politics, etc., they did not regard God as the Rabb with regard to such matters, but instead assigned the right to lay down the law to their priests, their chiefs, and the elders of their clans or tribes and followed their dictates.

As to the first, error, here is what the Holy Qur'an says:

And there are among men some who give their 'ibadah to Allah, as it were, on the verge; if good befalls them they are well content; but if it is trying circumstances, they turn away-losers in this life and the next-a sheer and utter loss. Then, having turned away from Allah, they call to those who have no power to do them either harm or good-and this is straying far indeed, for they call those for help whose being thus sought brings more loss than gain. How useless is the (supposed) helper, and how evil a companion! (Quran 22:11-13)

And instead of Allah they give their 'ibadah, to those who cause them neither profit nor harm, and they claim they are their intercessors with Allah. Ask them, O' Prophet, "Do you presume to tell Allah of something of which you think He is not aware either in the heavens or in the earth? Glory be to Him, and He is free of what they associate with Him." (Quran 10:17-18)

Say, (O' Prophet:) "Do you give your 'ibadah to those other than Allah who have power neither to do you aught of harm or of good, while Allah is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing?" (Quran 5:76)

And when in distress man calls to his Rabb whole heartedly, but when He has bestowed His favor upon him, he forgets that which had made him pray to Him, and begins to treat others as co-partners with Him, as if they too had a share in his change of fortune or as if their special powers or at least intercession alone brought it about, thus to mislead others from Allah's (True) Path. (Quran 39:8)

And any good thing of life you have is but the bounty of Allah and when any harm befalls you, it is to Him that you address your prayer, but when He has turned it away from you, there are some among you who begin to assign a share to others in your deliverance, to return ingratitude for Our favor. So be it, and do what you like, for soon will you know the outcome. These are the people who attribute to other, out of ignorance, a share in the granting of bounties which are Ours, wholly and solely. By God, (all) you (who do so) will (one day) certainly be taken to task for the falsehood you commit. (Quran 16:53-56)

As for the second error, this is the charge which the Qur'an makes in proof of it:

And in this wise was for many a pagan the slaying of their own children made to look a worthy act by those they associated with God, to lead them to their Doom and cause confusion in their religion. (Quran 6:138)

Obviously, the `associates' referred to here are not the idols or gods but those leaders and chiefs who had made the killing of one's own children seem like a noble act in the eyes of the pagans, and had thus contaminated this abominable act into the pure faith that had come down from Hazrat Ibrahim and Hazrat Isma'il (may peace be upon both). And, further, these leaders are not characterized here as `associates' in the sense of their being regarded as having a say in the affairs of the universe, nor did the pagans worship or pray to them. Certainly, this was not so. But they are dubbed as associates in rububiyyah and godhood because the pagans treated them as having the absolute right to lay down the law, as they pleased, in cultural and social and moral and religious matters:

Have they taken for themselves supposed associates with God who have given them laws in the way of Deen [The "d" sounds like "th" in" the". Abu Asad], having no sanction from Allah? (Quran 42:21)

We shall discuss the full significance of the term deen later and comment also in detail on this verse, but what is clear here is that laying down of the law by the leaders and chiefs in those matters which formed part of deen, and the pagans' acceptance thereof as binding codes did constitute, in effect, the leaders and chiefs being treated as associates with Allah both in godhood and in rububiyyah.