On Asnam

Traditionally, Muslims have always been told to believe that Al-Asnam are pagan gods almost always built or carved from stone, wood or sometimes even date fruit that can be consumed as edible food later on.

Muslims have also been told that people would set these statues up and worship them daily in rituals. I have a mind to believe otherwise since “to worship” is “to serve”, in my opinion. I do not see how you can serve a piece of stone unless, of course, you also image it giving orders or having expectations and desires.

There are only five occurrences of the word As-nam in the Quran, those being in 6:74, 7:138, 14:35, 21:57 and 26:71.

Chapter 26 is a long way off, and it’s essential to understand it’s “air” before diving into the meaning of Asnam. Yet, it’s interesting to point out that 26:77 lists Allah as one of those “asnam” worshiped by the people of Ibrahim.

26:75 – He said, “Then do you see what you have been worshipping,

26:76 – You and your ancient forefathers?

26:77 – Indeed, they are enemies to me, except the Lord of the worlds,

In fact, chapter 26 contains a detailed comparison between God and (I won’t say pagan) useless spiritual approaches.

Verse 26:71 also mentions an interesting word: ‘akafa, meaning that these people’s method of serving (because worshiping is to admire, and chanting for God won’t exactly save the world) these asnam is al-‘tikaf. Another interesting word used in the same verse is “nathalla”, and if I recall correctly, “thill (or dhill)” means “shade”.

The only connection that can be found between shade and “remaining” (with the help of Lane’s Lexicon) is protection: you shade something to protect it from sunlight or exposure, or becoming “clear”. This thing that is being sheltered from sunlight is obviously intolerant to heat or becoming clear, justified or valid. It’s to plainly say that these asnam they serve all day have no proof of existence, thus would melt when exposed to the sun: when we shine light on them, their faults, flaws and contradictions will be manifest to the eye.

(To be continued.)