"O people, eat of what is in the earth, permissible and good, and do not follow in the footsteps of Satan; indeed, for you he is an open enemy. He only orders you evil and immodesty, and that you allege about Allah what you do not know."
[The previous verses refuted beliefs held by the mushrikeen; the present verses take up the ill effects of some of their pagan practices.
One of these was to release animals dedicated to their idols, whom they treated as sacred, refusing to derive any benefit from them. They took it to be unlawful.
Straying further on, they even took this act of theirs as obedience of the divine will, a source of pleasing their Creator through the intercession of their idols.
It is in this background that Allah Almighty has given the right guidance in the present verse. Eating or using what Allah has provided on this earth - all that is good, pure and permissible - is the best rule. Avoiding something permissible on the assumption that doing so will please Allah is a Satanic thought. So, do not follow in the footsteps of Satan' who is an open enemy and what can you hope from an enemy but that he would keep pushing you towards the evil and the immodest, and that you attribute to Allah something for which you have no authority.]
The Meaning Of The Words
The real meaning of the root word
(halla) in (halalan tayyiban:
permissible and good) is 'to open a knot'. In that sense, what has been made halal means that a knot has been opened and the restriction has been removed. The blessed Companion Sahl ibn 'Abdullah Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him has said: "Salvation depends on three things - eating halaal, fulfilling (divine) obligations and following the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him."
(tayyib) means 'good' as inclusive of the clean and the pure and covers the twin aspects of being lawful, permissible or halal and being naturally desirable.
(khutuwat) is the plural form of
(khutwah) which is the distance between the two feet when striding. Here the khutuwat of Shaytaan means Satanic deeds.
The word su' in
means something which bothers somebody good and reasonable. The word fahsha' covers what is immodest. Some commentators have said that su' here signifies sin as such, and fahsha' signifies major sins.
(innama ya'murukum: 'he only orders you') means instigating a suggestion in the heart. The meaning can be seen more clearly in a hadith from the blessed Companion 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him who said that the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has said: "The son of Adam is influenced by a suggestion from the Shaytaan and a suggestion from the angel. The Satanic suggestion has the effect of bringing forth the expedient gains in evil deeds and thereby opening the avenues of negating the truth, while the angelic suggestion promises reward and success for good deeds and leaves the happy effect of a heart in peace at its attestation of the truth."