Makkan pagans did not believe in resurrection
Fatwa No: 346765

Question

My question is about the beliefs of the pagans of Makkah. In the Quran, we find that Allaah refutes the beliefs of pagans, who believed that the resurrection is not possible. Did all the pagans believe that they would never be resurrected, or just the majority? This implies that they believed that when Allaah is happy with someone, He gives the reward in this world. Also, why did they worship idols if they did not believe in the hereafter?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.

The pagans of Makkah did not believe in the Last Day; rather, they denied the resurrection, as Allah informed us about them in many verses in the Quran. For example, Allah says that they said (what means): {When we have died and have become dust [we will return to life]? That is a distant return.} [Quran 50:3]

Ibn Katheer said, “They say, ‘After we die; disintegrate, with our organs torn apart; and become dust, how can we be brought back to our original shape and bodies; it is not likely that it will ever occur.’ They thought that resurrection was far from happening and would never occur...”

There are many verses in this regard, and we will mention just a few of them; Allah says (what means):

• {Those who disbelieve have claimed that they will never be resurrected. Say: Yes, by my Lord, you will surely be resurrected; then you will surely be informed of what you did. And that, for Allah, is easy.} [Quran 64:7]

• {There is not but our first death, and we will not be resurrected.} [Quran 44:35]

• {Does he promise you that when you have died and become dust and bones that you will be brought forth [once more]. How far, how far, is that which you are promised. Life is not but our worldly life - we die and live, but we will not be resurrected?} [Quran 23:35-37]

• {They are [presently] saying, "Will we indeed be returned to [our] former state [of life]? Even if we should be decayed bones?" They say, "That, then, would be a losing return."} [Quran 79:10-12]

• {And he presents for Us an example and forgets his [own] creation. He says: "Who will give life to bones while they are disintegrated?"} [Quran 36:78]

As regards why they worshiped idols, then they did so because they claimed that the idols fulfilled their worldly benefits of bringing good and repelling evil. Allah informed us that they worshiped idols so that these idols would bring them closer to Him. Allah says (what means): {And those who take protectors besides Him [say]: We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah in position.} [Quran 39:3]

At-Tahreer wat-Tanweer reads, “Nearness means closeness to Allah in a position of honor and protection in this world, because they did not believe in the positions of the Hereafter.”

They also claimed that the idols were intercessors for them with Allah, as in Soorah Yoonus: {...and they say: These are our intercessors with Allah...} [Quran 10:18]; intercessors means mediators in fulfilling needs, such as repelling harm or bringing benefit.

At-Taahir ibn 'Ashoor said in his Tafseer:

“The disbelievers claimed that the idols interceded for them with Allah in worldly matters and used to say: {These are our intercessors with Allah}; by this claim, they followed the same approach of seeking pride that they followed in making allies between tribes and being affiliated to their leaders. It is by the abundance of allies that the tribe becomes glorious, so they compared their affairs with their Lord to their affairs among each other. Comparing the matters of Lordship to the affairs of people is one of the deepest pits of misguidance."

Allah knows best.

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