“And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allah as Rivals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. And if only the oppressors would consider [that] when they see the punishment, [they will be certain] that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is severe in punishment. (165) [And they should consider that] when those who have been followed disassociate themselves from those who followed [them], and they [all] see the punishment, and cut off from them are the ties [of relationship] (166) Those who followed will say, ‘If only we had another turn [at worldly life] so we could disassociate ourselves from them as they have disassociated themselves from us.’ Thus will Allah show them their deeds as regrets upon them. And they are never to emerge from the Fire (166)”
(Surah Al Baqarah 2: 165-167)
Allah (swt) clarifies in these Ayaat the following:
1- There are those amongst the people who make partners and Equals (Andaad) to Allah the Almighty. They make them as equals to Allah (swt) and love them like the love of Allah (swt). However, the love based on the absence of guidance is not equal to the love of the believers for Allah (swt) because that is based on the Taqwah and Imaan in Allah (swt). So, the love of the believers for Allah (swt) is the strongest of all. It reassures the hearts and enters one through it into Paradise and pleasure of Allah (swt), the Greatest.
However, as for those who take Rivals instead of Allah, making them equal to Him, there is a painful punishment for them on the Day of Resurrection. Their fate is a painful punishment on the Day of Resurrection. Then on that day, they will be clear that Allah (swt) is the Strongest and the Strongest alone and there is no power for any other than Him. Indeed, His punishment for the oppressors is very painful, for they are those who falsely claim Rivals, even though they are but creations and have no power for themselves nor strength. Allah (swt) said,
“And if only the oppressors would consider [that] when they see the punishment.”
Regarding Luw (لو If) and Idh (إذ when) they both allude to the past tense, though they are also here with the present tense. This is so as to achieve two matters together:
The present tense is to affirm the future, because the subject is related to their vision on the Day of Resurrection.
And the past tense is to denote upon Definite Confirmation of its realization in the Knowledge of Allah (swt), as if it has already happened in the past and the matter is concluded.
The answer to “if” is omitted to indicate that it is a great matter that is almost indescribable i.e. if they saw what was prepared for them from the punishment on the Day of Resurrection and its horrors, they would fall into anguish and regret at the situation and consequences that are almost indescribable.
The use of Luw (لو If) and Idh (إذ when) and the omission of the answer in the mentioned context conveys strength in Expression (بلاغة Balaagah) and indication (بيان Bayaan).
Allah (swt) said,
“[it is] a revelation from a [Lord who is] Wise and Praiseworthy.”
“that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is severe in punishment.”
أَنَّالْقُوَّةَلِلَّهِجَمِيعًا“that all power belongs to Allah” includes within it وَأَنَّاللَّهَشَدِيدُالْعَذَابِ“that all power belongs to Allah” yet, its re-mention and addition gives intensity in the intimidating speech, such that there is no pardon whatsoever for them on the Day of Resurrection. Whereas أَنَّالْقُوَّةَلِلَّهِجَمِيعًا“that all power belongs to Allah” does not require intensification of punishment for the probability of leaving him without pardon from Allah (swt), though He has the capability for that, nonetheless, Allah (swt) mentioning that “that all power belongs to Allah” is added, so as to remove any hope they have in Allah’s (swt) granting them a pardon.
2- The enormity of the situation, the watching of the painful punishment and all the power of Allah (swt), reveal the reality of matters:
A- It conveys the severity of the anguish and regret of those who instead of Allah (swt) have taken others as gods – both idols and non-idols – when they see that these Rivals are without strength and power and that punishment surrounds them from everywhere.
B- Their anguish, regret and pain increase when they see their superiors, whom they followed and who led them to this oblivion, disown them. The enormity of the situation and the punishment is painful, leaving no room for the leaders to recognize the followers, for everyone is busy with one’s self. All forms of ties between the followed and followers are broken, as if they never were.
C- The anguish, regret and pain of these followers will increase when it becomes clear that they cannot leave Hellfire to return to the world to take revenge on those whom they followed, disassociating themselves from them as they disowned them in the Hereafter. When they see the enormity of the evil of their deeds in following those leaders who led them to oblivion, it will become clear to them that their bad deeds were through commitment to submit to their leaders. Their anguish overwhelms them, for these deeds are those through which they took their places in Hellfire, which is the worst of all fates.
3- The Literal Meaning (منطوق Mantooq) of these verses are related to those who have taken, instead of Allah (swt), Rivals, loving them as Allah (swt) alone is loved. Allah (swt) has described them as oppressors because they have placed the creations of Allah (swt) in place of the Creator, thus placing a matter in the wrong place for it.
These verses establish that they were punished and also how their leaders disowned them, when they saw the punishment and that all power belongs to Allah (swt). However, these verses did not explicitly address the extent of the punishment and shame that afflicts those leaders, who have done evil to their followers.
However, this Literal Meaning (منطوق Mantooq) carries with it the Consistent Conception (مفهوم موافقة Mafhoom Mawaafiqah), from the angle of the warning to the lesser for the greater, such that the terrible punishment prepared by Allah (swt) to the followers indicates the enormity of the dark fate of those who led the followers to Hellfire. Thus, their punishment and their fate is more severe and grievous. Such is the state of the tyrannical leaders that lead their followers to oblivion! They will precede them on the Day of Resurrection, like the Pharaoh who leads his people to the Hellfire. Allah (swt) said,
“To Pharaoh and his establishment, but they followed the command of Pharaoh, and the command of Pharaoh was not [at all] discerning. (97) He will precede his people on the Day of Resurrection and lead them into the Fire; and wretched is the place to which they are led. (98)”
Moreover, there is great wisdom within the focus in these verses upon the followers alone. It removes what may be imagined by some followers that there is no sin on themselves, but only upon their superiors and leaders. The verses make clear that the sin is also on the followers, and that they are in the group in the Hellfire and the worst of all fates.
The verses are a declaration from Allah (swt) to those who follow the heads of disbelief in this world, making clear that these heads will lead them to the fiery Abyss and will renounce them on the Day of Resurrection.