mā lakum lā tarjūna lillāhi waqāra
What is the matter with you that you are not in awe of the Majesty of Allah?
(Sūrat Nūh No.71, Āyat 13)
Nabī Nūh (a) draws the attention of his people to the reason for their polytheism by asking them a question. Why do they not look upon Allah with veneration and have hope in His greatness? If they realized that Allah is all-Powerful and was in charge of the affairs of the world, they would not turn to other gods. They accepted that Allah is the Creator but believed that other forces looked after them after creation. This was the foundation of their polytheism.
In understanding this verse two words are important:
Tarjūna comes from the word rajā, to hope. It is the opposite of khawf, to fear. Rajā means to have hope about something that will be pleasing to the self while khawf is the fear about something that will be painful for the self. What is expected of believers is a strong hope in Allah. Not just an assumption but a conviction based on an understanding of His power. There is hope that One who has such power will look after us.
Waqāra means dignity and grandeur. Here it denotes the realization of the Omnipotent greatness and power of Allah. This understanding leads the human being to worship and submit to Allah subhānahu wa-ta‘ālā.
According to Tafsīr al-Mīzān the question asked here is what has made you unaware of the greatness of Allah and His Lordship over creation? That He is the Lord, the Cherisher, the Nurturer, the Rabb of the worlds? The Rububiyat (Lordship) of Allah is evident in the world around us. The seven verses that follow this verse talk about creation as well as the nurturing and looking after creation. Why then don’t human beings put their hope in Him and know that He is great enough to look after all their needs? They don’t need anyone else.
When human beings are not convinced about the Lordship of Allah and His complete control and power over all things, they turn away from sincere worship of Him alone. They look to other ‘gods’ for help. It is a form of despair in the greatness of Allah. True worship is to believe that Allah is sufficient for all human needs.
The words in the question ‘what is the matter with you’ shows that the natural way would be to understand God’s greatness and have hope in Him. When human beings don’t do that there must be some reasons for this unnatural behavior. It is a reproach to show that man has deviated when he is unable to have complete veneration for the greatness of Allah. The consequences for such deviation are very serious and affect his life in the world and the Hereafter.
Recite this verse to remind yourself to have awe of Allah always. It should be based on a realization of His greatness and conviction in His ability to fulfill all your needs. Such an awe will bring a trust and hope that creates peace of mind. It makes you strong and independent of all others.
Sources: ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān;