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Sura 16
Aya 35
وَقالَ الَّذينَ أَشرَكوا لَو شاءَ اللَّهُ ما عَبَدنا مِن دونِهِ مِن شَيءٍ نَحنُ وَلا آباؤُنا وَلا حَرَّمنا مِن دونِهِ مِن شَيءٍ ۚ كَذٰلِكَ فَعَلَ الَّذينَ مِن قَبلِهِم ۚ فَهَل عَلَى الرُّسُلِ إِلَّا البَلاغُ المُبينُ

Muhammad Asad

Now they who ascribe divinity to aught beside God say, "Had God so willed, we would not have worshipped aught but Him - neither we nor our forefathers; nor would we have declared aught as forbidden without a commandment from Him."1 Even thus did speak those [sinners] who lived before their time; but, then, are the apostles bound to do more than clearly deliver the message [entrusted to them]?2
  • Lit., "apart from Him". See in this connection - 6:148 and the corresponding note 141. (The arbitrary, unwarranted prohibitions and taboos alluded to in that verse as well as in the present one are discussed in 6:136-153 and explained in my notes.) The derision of God's messages by the deniers of the truth is implied in their questioning His grant of free will to man - that is to say, the ability to choose between right and wrong, which is the basis of all morality.
  • I.e., the apostles could not force anyone to make the right choice.