Thumma lam takun fitnatuhum illa an qaloo waAllahi rabbina ma kunna mushrikeena
The Aya says:
Then their testing was not except that they said: By Allah, our nurturing Lord, we were not polytheists.
My personal note:
The term fintantahum means their test or their testing. This can take two meanings and both apply:
1- That they were tested in that matter.
2- That they made this a test to others, by making them believe as they believe.
The Aya brings about a very important message of monotheism. This is that many people may think that they are monotheists while they are not. The Arabs of Pre-Islam believed that God was the only creator and nurturer and that is why they used the term “our nurturing Lord”. However, they felt that it is either ok or preferred to worship other entities with Allah. The Aya then reiterates that it is not sufficient to believe that there is only one Nurturing Lord, but you also have to worship none but him.
This brings about what does the term worship or Ibada in Arabic mean and how does one become a polytheist? The IBADA means taking an entity in awe including loving it, fearing it’s displeasure and asking for it’s help and protection. Under this definition, one may worry that he or she falls in polytheism often and indeed early muslims were worried about falling into hidden forms of polytheism. Taqwa or acting in consciousness of Allah will help protect us from the hidden or minor forms of it. However, the Aya is addressing the more clear and apparent forms of it that are only hidden through our biases and preconceived notions.
Translation of the transliterated words:
lam takun: it did not happen to be/ it was not
Note: LAM is for negating the next action. TAKUN is derived from the root K-W-N and it means being. KUNTU is an action that is being completed or will be completed that is derived from the root. It means: the action of being is happening or will be happening by the subject (third person singular). This whole sentence then means: it did not happen to be/ it was not. Although the action is in the present tense, but this is a form of past tense because it was preceded by the LAM form of negation.
Fitnatuhum: their test/their testing
Note: the root is F-T-N and it means in concrete form, the melting of Gold or silver in order to know the pure from the impure or the true from the fake. Therefore, in abstract, the word suggests an extreme test with hardship in it, or a burn with fire or even taking someone’s eyes with the glitter of the false Gold and silver. Here, it means the severe test that has hardship in it. FITNATU is the action of severe testing of persecution or hardship that can be imposed on people. HUM means them.
Illa: except/ if not
Qaloo: they said/ they communicated
Note: QALOO is derived from the root Qaf-W-L and it means saying in any way possible. QALOO is an action that is completed that is derived from the root. It means the action of saying happened by the subject (third person plural). This, in turn means: They said/ communicated.
waAllahi: by Allah
rabbina: Our nurturing Lord
Note: RABBINA is derived from the root R-B-B and it means nurturing and Lordship as two components of the meaning that can be present together or one at a time according to the context of the sentence. RABBI is nurturing Lord of. NA means us.
ma kunna: We were not/ We did not happen to be
Note: MA is for negation of the action that comes next. KUNNA is derived from the root root K-W-N and it means being. KUNNA is an action that completed that is derived from the root. It means: the action of being happened by the subject (first person plural). This whole sentence then means: We did not happen to be/ We were not.
mushrikeena ones who make partners (To Allah)/ polytheists
Note: the root SH-R-K and it means partner or partnership and with this partnership is a measure of equality or being on par. MUSHRIKEENA are the ones who make partners to God in worship or in action and that includes the polytheists.
Salaam all and have a great day.