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Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his family and companions.

I have a question about the 28th ayah of the Surah Ar-Rum.

Surah Ar-Rum - 30:28

He presents to you an example from yourselves. Do you have among those whom your right hands possess any partners in what We have provided for you so that you are equal therein [and] would fear them as your fear of one another [within a partnership]? Thus do We detail the verses for a people who use reason.

I would like to have a better understanding of the verse and its context. What does it mean and whom does it refer to and what is its reason for revelation?

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Here a quote from a summary of tafsir ibn Kathir:

This is the parable Allah makes of the idolators, those who worship others besides Him and attribute partners to Him, while at the same time admitting that these so-called partners -- idols and false gods -- are enslaved to and belong to Him. In their Talbiyah (during Hajj and 'Umrah they used to say, "At Your service, You have no partner except the partner that You have, You own Him and whatever he owns.''

(He sets forth for you a parable from yourselves)
"something which you yourselves can see witness, and understand."

(Do you have partners among those whom your right hands possess to share as equals in the wealth We have bestowed on you...)
"None of you would like to have his servant as a partner in his wealth, each of them having an equal share."

(whom you fear as you fear each other.)
"You fear that they will have a share in your wealth with you." Abu Mijlaz said, "You do not fear that your servant will have a share in your wealth, because he has no such right; similarly, Allah has no partner." The point is, that since any one of you would abhor such a thing, how can you attribute rivals to Allah from among His creation At-Tabarani recorded that Ibn 'Abbas said, "The people of Shirk used to say in their Talbiyah, "At Your service, You have no partner except the partner that You have, You own Him and whatever he owns." Then Allah revealed the words:

(Do you have partners among those whom your right hands possess to share as equals in the wealth We have bestowed on you, whom you fear as you fear each other)
If humans have this characteristic, this parable shows that it is even less befitting for Allah to have a partner.

(Thus do We explain the signs in detail to a people who have sense.)
Then Allah points out that when the idolators worship others instead of Him, doing so out of their own folly and ignorance... (Source qtafsir)

Al-Qurtobi -in his tafsir- pointed at three word-expressions related to the preposition "from" (من ) in this verse:

  1. from yourselves
  2. among those whom your right hands possess
  3. any partners

And explained the first (from) was to start, as if Allah wanted to make an example to what is the closest to them (themselves, so that they would clearly understand it as ibn Kathir commented) the third (from) was used for restriction and the second (from or among) is rather dispensable, but helps to emphasize the inquiry (which was used to emphasize a denial as stated by sheikh Taher Benashur in his at-Tahrir wa-Tanwir).

On the reason of revelation

The only transmitted narration for a reason for revelation was mentioned above it is due to the talibiyah -of the disbelievers of Quraish- (in the Jahilya) which included words of shirk and sounds self-contradictory:

At Your service, You have no partner expect the partner that You have, You own Him and whatever he owns"

This was compiled by at-Tabarani as stated above (and ibn Kathir compiled it with a full narrator chain in his tafsir and so did as-Suyuti in his asbab an-Nuzul).
The correct talibyah in Islam is:

"I am at Your service, O Allah, I am at Your service. You have no partner. I am at Your service. Praise and blessing belong to You, and the Kingdom. You have no partner."
(See for example in sahih al-Bukhari and sahih Muslim)

A commentary or second opinion -which IMO is rather an explanation than a opinion about the reason of revelation- was made by Qatadah قتادة which was quoted din different versions in different books of tafsir and a similar one of ibn Zayd (both are quoted by imam at-Tabari in his tafsir while imam al-Qurtobi quoted only a version of Qatadah's statement) here my own translation of the satetment of Qatadah from tafsir at-Tabari:

مثل ضربه الله لمن عدل به شيئا من خلقه ،
This is an example made by Allah for those who made equal to HIM any of HIS creation

يقول : أكان أحدكم مشاركا مملوكه في فراشه وزوجته ؟!
HE said to them: Was (or would) anyone of you share his wives and bed with his (own) slaves ?!

فكذلكم الله لا يرضى أن يعدل به أحد من خلقه . The same apply to Allah HE wouldn't accept making equal to HIM (in adoration and worship) any of HIS creation (or sharing the worship with any of HIS creation).

On the meaning of the verse

One meaning can be concluded from the statement of Qatadah. Al-Qurtobi in his tafsir added an answer if we would answer that our slaves have no right on our other goods and chattels, how would we accept that Allah's creation could have equal rights (in adoration and worship) to HIM this is self-contradictory and concluded from this that Allah is one and that it is impossible that HE might have any associates, as association means the need of each other and while we (humans and Allah's creation in general) need help and are in need of others Allah doesn't.
So people who use reason may come to this conclusion!

At-Tabari discussed two different opinions on the interpretation of:

... you...would fear them as your fear of one another ...

The first via a narrator chain he narrated on the authority of ibn 'Abbas who said this is about deities and explains: you fear them to inherit you as you inherit from each other.
The second -which he considered as stronger and he quoted a narrator chain of one of those who held this opinion- saying that they fear that their slaves would want to share their belongings with them as they -usually- share them (with their partners ) and explains it as follows: one doesn't fear his slave to take a share from his belongings, as it is not his right to do so, likewise Allah has no associate.

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