Implication of the Word Zulm
Question asked by .
Answered by Tariq Haashmi

Please explain in depth what is the real implication of the Arabic word ‘Zulm’ in the Holy Qur’ān. A barrister friend of mine wants to comprehend ‘Zulm’ particularly in the Qur’ānic context in sayings like  Allah does not guide the ‘Zālimūn’


The primary meaning of the word ‘Zulm’ is injustice and wrongdoing. The Holy Qur’ān has applied the word to connote different acts because of a common characteristic of these acts. The words ‘Allah does not guide the Zālimūn’ occur in the following verses of the Holy Qur’ān: 2:258, 3:86, 5:51, 6:144, 9:19, 9:109, 28:50, 46:10, 61:7, 62:5. In all the instances, the real implication can only be ascertained after analyzing the context in which these verses occur. For example 2:258 reads:

أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِي حَآجَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ فِي رِبِّهِ أَنْ آتَاهُ اللّهُ الْمُلْكَ إِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّيَ الَّذِي يُحْيِـي وَيُمِيتُ قَالَ أَنَا أُحْيِـي وَأُمِيتُ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ يَأْتِي بِالشَّمْسِ مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ فَأْتِ بِهَا مِنَ الْمَغْرِبِ فَبُهِتَ الَّذِي كَفَرَ وَاللّهُ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ (٢٥٨:٢)

Did you not see him who had an argument with Abraham about his Lord, because Allah had given him the kingdom; how, when Abraham said: my Lord is He who gives life and causes death, he answered: I give life and cause death. Abraham said: lo! Allah causes the sun to rise in the East, so do you cause it to come up from the West. Thus was the disbeliever abashed. And Allah guides not the wrong doing folk. (2:258)

We see that the word here refers to people who behave like the one with whom Abraham had an argument. This man decided to reject the truth and did not even pay heed to such a strong argument that silenced him. But he preferred not to surrender before the truth.

Similarly, the Hoy Qur’ān often uses the word to refer to those who abuse the blessings and abilities bestowed upon them by the Almighty. These people do not recognize the blessings showered upon them as God-given gifts rather they deem it their very right to be blessed with all these things. These people do not express gratitude for what has been given to them rather they are overcome with arrogance and haughtiness like Iblīs (Satan). They do not surrender before the Almighty and force others to venerate them. Such people are often determined to stick to the evil path and thus are not guided to the right no matter how manifestly is the truth unveiled to them. Only those are guided who accept guidance and foster the innate guidance provided to them and surrender to the truth.

A study of all the verses would reveal that the word generally refers to people of this conduct.


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