(Maketh he the gods One God? Lo! that is an astounding thing…) [38:5-11].
Abu’l-Qasim ibn Abi Nasr al-Khuza‘i informed us> Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Hamdawayh> Abu Bakr ibn Abi Darim al-Hafiz> Muhammad ibn ‘Uthman in Abi Shaybah> his father> Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Asdi> Sufyan> al-A‘mash> Yahya ibn ‘Umarah> Sa‘id ibn Jubayr> Ibn ‘Abbas who said: “When Abu Talib fell ill, the Quraysh and the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, went to visit him. There was, close to the head of Abu Talib, enough room for one man to sit, so Abu Jahl rushed to it to prevent the Prophet from sitting there. They complained to Abu Talib about the Prophet. Abu Talib said to the Prophet: ‘Son of my brother, what is it that you want from your own people?’ He said: ‘O uncle, I want from them one word by means of which all the Arabs will surrender to them and all the non-Arabs will pay exemption tax to them’. ‘What is this word?’ he asked. He said: ‘There is no deity except Allah’. They all exclaimed: ‘Does he make the gods One God?’ The Qur’an was then revealed about them (Sad. By the renowned Qur’an, nay, but those who disbelieve are in false pride and schism…) up to Allah’s words (This is naught but an invention) [38:1-7]”.
The commentators of the Qur’an said: “When ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab embraced Islam, the Muslims were overjoyed while the Quraysh was devastated. Al-Walid ibn al-Mughirah said to the nobles and chiefs of Quraysh: ‘Go to Abu Talib and say to him: you are our elder and chief and you know well what these fools have done. We have come to you so that you judge between us and your nephew’. Abu Talib sent for the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and when he answered his call, he said to him: ‘Son of my brother, these are your own people and they are asking you for fairness, so do not swerve completely from them’. The Prophet asked: ‘What do they want from me?’ They said: ‘Cease mentioning our deities and we will leave you alone with your God’. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said to them: ‘Will you grant me one word by means of which you will rule over the Arabs and subjugate the non-Arabs?’ Abu Jahl said: ‘We will surely grant it and grant you ten like it!’ The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘Say: there is no deity except Allah!’ The Quraysh were repelled and left, saying: ‘Does he make the gods One God? How can One God be sufficient for the whole creation?’ And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed about them these verses, up to His words (The folk of Noah before them denied (their messenger)…) [38:12]”.
Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi , trans. Mokrane Guezzou