Index

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an

 

By Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

1. Al Fatiha (The Opening)

2. Al Baqarah (The Cow)

3. Al i Imran (The Family of Imran)

4. An Nisa (The Women)

5. Al Maidah (The Table Spread)

6. Al Anaam (The Cattle)

7. Al Aaraf (The Heights)

8. Al Anfal (The Spoils of War)

9. At Taubah (The Repentance)

10. Yunus (Jonah)

11. Hud

12. Yusuf (Joseph)

13. Ar Ra’ad (The Thunder)

14. Ibrahim (Abraham)

15. Al Hijr (The Rocky Tract)

16. An Nahl (The Honey Bee)

17. Al Isra (The Night Journey), also known as Bani Israil (The Children of Israel)

18. Al Kahf (The Cave)

19. Maryam (Mary)

20. Ta Ha

21. Al Anbiyaa (The Prophets)

22. Al Hajj (The Hajj)

23. Al Muminoon (The Believers)

24. An Noor (The Light)

25. Al Furqan (The Criterion)

26. Ash Shuaraa (The Poets)

27. An Naml (The Ant)

28. Al Qasas (The Story)

29. Al Ankabut (The Spider)

30. Ar Rum (The Romans)

31. Luqman

32. As Sajdah (The Prostration)

33. Al Ahzab (The Clans)

34. Saba (The Sabaeans)

35. Fatir (The Originator), also known as Al Malaika (The Angels)

36. Ya Sin

37. As Saaffat (Those who set the ranks)

38. Saad

39. Az Zumar (The Troops)

40. Al Mu’min (The Believer), also known as Al Ghafir (The Forgiver)

41. Ha Mim As Sajdah, also known as Fussilat (Explained in Detail)

42. Ash Shura (The Consultation)

43. Az Zukhruf (The Ornaments of Gold)

44. Ad Dukhan (The Smoke)

45. At Jathiya (The Kneeling)

46. Al Ahqaf (The Wind Curved Sand Dunes)

47. Muhammad (The Praised One)

48. Al Fath (The Victory)

49. Al Hujaraat (The Private Apartments)

50. Qaf

51. Adh Dhariyat (The Winds)

52. At Tur (The Mount)

53. An Najm (The Star)

54. Al Qamar (The Moon)

55. Ar Rahman (The Most Merciful)

56. Al Waqia (The Inevitable Event)

57. Al Hadid (The Iron)

58 Al Mujadilah (The Pleading Woman)

59. Al Hashr (The Banishment)

60. Al Mumtahina (The Woman Under Questioning)

61. As Saff (The Ranks)

62. Al Jumuah (The Friday Congregation)

63. Al Munafiqoon (The Hypocrites)

64. At Taghabun (Mutual Loss and Gain)

65. At Talaq (Divorce)

66. At Tahrim (The Prohibition)

67. Al Mulk (The Kingdom)

68. Al Qalam (The Pen)

69. Al Haaqqa (The Inevitable)

70. Al Maarij (The Ascending Steps)

71. Nuh (Noah)

72. Al Jinn (The Jinn)

73. Al Muzzammil (The One Who is Covered Up)

74. Al Muddaththir (The Cloaked One)

75. Al Qiyama (The Resurrection)

76. Al Insan (Man), also known as Ad Dahr (Time)

77. Al Mursalat (The Winds Which Are Sent)

78. An Naba (The News)

79. Naziat (Those Who Tear Out)

80. Abasa (He Frowned)

81. At Takwir (The Folding Up)

82. Al Infitar (The Cleaving)

83. Al Mutaffifin (Those Who Deal in Fraud)

84. Inshiqaq (The Splitting)

85. Al Burooj (The Constellations)

86. Al Tariq (The Morning Star)

87. Al Ala (The Most High)

88. Al Ghashiya (The Overwhelming Event)

89. Al Fajr (The Dawn)

90. Al Balad (The City)

91. As Shams (The Sun)

92. Al Lail (The Night)

93. Ad Dhuha (The Morning Light)

94. Al Inshirah (The Opening Up)

95. At Tin (The Fig)

96. Al Alaq (The Clot)

97. Al Qadr (Power)

98. Al Bayyina (The Clear Evidence)

99. Az Zalzala (The Earthquake)

100. Al Adiyat (Those That Run)

101. Al Qaria (The Disaster)

102. At Takathur (The Mutual Rivalry)

103. Al Asr (The Declining Day, The Time)

104. Al Humaza (The One Who Slanders)

105. Al Fil (The Elephant)

106. Quraish

107. Al Ma’un (The Small Kindnesses)

108. Al Kauthar (The Abundance)

109. Al Kafirun (The Disbelievers)

110. An Nasr (The Help)

111. Al Lahab (The Flame)

112. Al Ikhlas (The Purity)

113. Al Falaq (The Daybreak)

114. An Nas (Mankind)

Translator’s Preface

 

112. Surah Al Ikhlas (The Purity)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an

 

112. Surah Al Ikhlas (The Purity)

Name

Al-Ikhlas is not merely the name of this Surah but also the title of its contents, for it deals exclusively with Tauhid. The other Surahs of the Quran generally have been designated after a word occurring in them, but in this Surah the word Ikhlas has occurred nowhere. It has been given this name in view of its meaning and subject matter. Whoever understands it and believes in its teaching, will get rid of shirk (polytheism) completely.

Period of Revelation

Whether it is a Makki or a Madani Surah is disputed, and the difference of opinion has been caused by the traditions which have been related concerning the occasion of its revelation. We give them below ad seriatim:

    Hadrat Abdullah bin Masud has reported that the Quraish said to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be be peace): “Tell us of the ancestry of your Lord.” Thereupon this Surah was sent down. (Tabarani). Abul Aliyah has related on the authority of Hadrat Ubayy bin Kab that the polytheists said to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace): “Tell us of your Lord’s ancestry.” Thereupon Allah sent down this Surah. (Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Abi Harim, Ibn Jarir, Tirmidhi, Bukhari in At-Tarikh, Ibn al-Mundhir, Hakim, Baihaqi). Tirmidhi has related a tradition on the same theme from Abul Aliyah, which does not contain any reference to Hadrat Ubayy bin Kab, and has declared it to be more authentic. Hadrat Jabir bin Abdullah has stated that a bedouin (according to other traditions, some people) said to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace): “Tell us of your Lord’s ancestry.” Thereupon Allah sent down this Surah.(Abu Yala, Ibn Jarir, Ibn al-Mundhir, Tabarani in Al-Ausat, Baihaqi, Abu Nuaim in Al-Hilyah). Ikrimah has related a tradition form Ibn Abbas, saying that a group of the Jews, including Kab bin Ashraf, Huyayy bin Akhtab and other, came before the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) and said: “O Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings), tell us of the attributes of your Lord, who has sent you as a Prophet.” Thereupon Allah sent down this Surah. (Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Adi, Baihaqi in Al-Asma was-Sifat).

In addition to these, some other traditions also have been cited by Ibn Taimiyyali in his commentary of Surah Al-Ikhlas, which are as follows;

    Hadrat Anas has stated that some Jews of Khaiber came before the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) and they said: “O Abul Qasim, Allah created the angels from light, Adam from rotten clay, Iblis from the flame of fire, the sky from smoke, and the earth from the foam of water. Now tell us about your Lord (of what He is made).” The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) did not give any reply to this question. Then Gabriel came and he said: “O Muhammad, say to them: Huwa Allahu ahad.” Amir bin at-Tufail said to the Holy Prophet: “O Muhammad, what do you call us to?”The Holy Prophet replied: “To Allah.” Amir said, “Then, tell us of what He is made, whether of gold, silver, or iron?” Thereupon this surah was sent down. Dahhak, Qatadah and Muqatil have stated that some Jewish rabbis came before the Holy Prophet, and they said: “O Muhammad, tell us what is your Lord like, so that we may believe in you. Allah in the Torah has sent down His description. Kindly tell us of what He is made, what is His sex, whether He is made of gold, copper, brass, iron, or silver, and whether He eats and drinks. Also tell us from whom He has inherited the world, and who will inherit it after Him.” Thereupon Allah sent down this Surah. Ibn Abbas has reported that a deputation of the Christians of Najran along with seven priests visited the Holy Prophet upon whom be peace), and they said: “O Muhammad, tell us what is your Lord like and of what substance He is made.”The Holy Prophet replied, “My Lord is not made from any substance. He is unique and exalted above everything.” Thereupon Allah sent down this Surah.

These traditions show that different people on different occasions had questioned the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) about the essence and nature of the God to Whose service and worship he invited the people, and on every occasion he recited by Allah’s command this very Surah in response. First of all, the pagans. of Quraish asked him this question in Makkah, and in reply this Surah was sent down. Then, at Madinah, sometimes the Christians, and sometimes the other people of Arabia, asked him questions of this nature, and every time Allah inspired him to recite this very Surah in answer to them. In each of these traditions, it has been said that this Surah was revealed on this or that occasion. From this one should not form the impression that all these traditions are mutually contradictory. The fact is that whenever there existed with the Holy Prophet a verse or a Surah previously revealed in respect of a particular question or matter, and later the same question was presented before him, Allah inspired him to recite the same verse or Surah to the people as it contained the answer to their question. The reporters of Hadith describe the same thing, saying: When such and such a question or matter was presented before the Holy Prophet, such and such a verse or Surah was revealed. This has also been described as repetition of revelation, i. e. the revelation of a verse or Surah several times.

Thus, the fact is that this Surah is Makki, rather in view of its subject matter a Surah revealed in the earliest period at Makkah, when detailed verses of the Quran dealing with the essence and attributes of Allah Almighty had not yet been revealed, and the people hearing, the Holy Prophet’s invitation to Allah, wanted to know what was his Lord like to whose worship and service he was calling them. Another proof of this Surah’s being one of the earliest Surahs to be revealed is that when in Makkah Umayyah bin Khalaf, the master of Hadrat Bilal, made him lie down on burning sand and placed a heavy stone on his chest, Bilal used to cry “Ahad, Ahad!” This word was derived from this very Surah.

Theme and Subject Matter

A little consideration of the traditions regarding the occasion of the revelation of this Surah, shows what were the religious concepts of the world at the time the Holy Prophet began to preach the message of Tauhid. The idolatrous polytheists were worshiping gods made of wood, stone, gold, silver and other substances. These gods had a form, shape and body. The gods and goddesses were descended from each other. No goddess was without a husband and no god without a wife. They stood in need of food and drink and their devotees arranged these for them. A large number of the polytheists believed that God assumed human form and there were some people who descended from Him. Although the Christians claimed to believe in One God, yet their God also had at least a son, and besides the Father and Son, the Holy Ghost also had the honor of being an associate in Godhead: so much so that God had a mother and a mother-in-law too. The Jews also claimed to believe in One God, but their God too was not without physical, material and other human qualities and characteristics. He went for a stroll, appeared in human form, wrestled with a servant of His, and was father of a son, Ezra. Besides these religious communities, the Zoroastrians were fire worshipers, and the Sabeans star worshipers. Under such conditions when the people were invited to believe in Allah, the One Who has no associate, it was inevitable that questions arose in the minds as to what kind of a God it was, Who was one and Only Lord and invitation to believe in Whom was being given at the expense of all other gods and deities. It is a miracle of the Quran that in a few words briefly it answered all the questions and presented such a clear concept of the Being of Allah as destroyed all polytheistic concepts, without leaving any room for the ascription of any of the human qualities to His Being.

Merit and Importance

That is why the Holy Messenger of Allah (upon whom be peace) held this Surah in great esteem, and he made the Muslims realize its importance in different ways so that they recited it frequently and disseminated it among the people. For it states the foremost and fundamental doctrine of Islam (viz. Tauhid) in four such brief sentences as are immediately impressed on human memory and can be read and recited easily. There are a great number of the traditions of Hadith, which show that the Holy Prophet on different occasions and in different ways told the people that this Surah is equivalent to one third the Quran. Several ahadith on this subject have been related in Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud; Nasai, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Musnad Ahmad, Tabarani and other books, on the authority of Abu Said Khudri, Abu Hurairah, Abu Ayyub Ansari, Abu ad-Darda, Muadh bin Jabal, Jabir bin Abdullah, Ubayy bin Kab, Umm Kulthum bint Uqbah bin Abi Muait, Ibn Umar, Ibn Masud, Qatadah bin an-Numan, Anas bin Malik, and Abu Masud (may Allah be pleased with all of them).

The commentators have given many explanations of the Holy Prophet’s saying. But in our opinion it simply means that the religion presented by the Quran is based on three doctrines: Tauhid, Prophethood and the Hereafter. This Surah teaches Tauhid, pure and undefiled. Therefore, the Holy Prophet (upon whom he Peace) regarded it as, equal to one-third of the Quran.

A tradition on the authority of Hadrat Aishah has been related in Bukhari, Muslim and other collections of the Ahadith, saying that the Holy Prophet sent a man as leader of an expedition. During the journey he concluded his recitation of the Quran in every Prayer with Qul Huwa-Allahu ahad. On their return him companions mentioned this before the Holy Prophet. He said: “Ask him why he did so.” When the man was asked, he replied: “In this Surah the attributes of the Merciful God have been stated; therefore, I love to recite it again and again.” When the Holy Prophet heard this reply, he said to the people: “Inform him that Allah holds him in great love and esteem.”

A similar incident has been related in Bukhari, on the authority of Hadrat Anas. He says: “A man from among the Ansar led the Prayers in the Quba Mosque. His practice was that in every rak`ah he first recited this Surah and then would join another Surah to it. The people objected to it and said to him:”Don’t you think that Surah Ikhlas is by itself enough? Why do you join another Surah to it? You should either recite only this surah, or should leave it and recite some other Surah. He said: “I cannot leave it, I would rather give up leadership in the Prayer, if you so desired.” The people did not approve that another man be appointed leader instead of him. At last, the matter was brought before the Holy Prophet. He asked the man, “What prevents you from conceding what your companions desire? What makes you recite this particular Surah in every rak`ah?” The man replied: “I have great love for it.” The Holy Prophet remarked: “Your this love for this Surah has earned you entry into Paradise.”

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In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

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[1-4] Say:1 “He is Allah,2 the One and Only.3 Allah is Independent of all and all are dependent on Him.4 Neither has He an offspring nor is He the offspring of anyone.5 And none is equal with Him in rank.”6

1The first addressee of this Command is the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) himself for it was he who was asked: “Who is your Lord and what is He like? Again it was he who was commanded to answer the question in the following words. But after him every believer is its addressee. He too should say what the Holy Prophet had been commanded to say.

2That is, “My Lord to Whom you want to be introduced is none but Allah.” This is the first answer to the questions, and it means: “I have not introduced a new lord who I want you to worship beside all other gods, but it is the same Being you know by the name of Allah.” “Allah” was not an unfamiliar word for the Arabs. They had been using this very word for the Creator of the universe since the earliest times, and they did not apply this word to any of their other gods. For the other gods they used the word ilah. Then their beliefs about Allah had become fully manifest at the time Abraha invaded Makkah. At that time there existed 360 idols of gods (ilahs) in and around the Ka`bah, but the polytheists forsaking all of them had invoked only Allah for protection. In other words, they knew in their hearts of hearts that no ilah could help them on that critical occasion except Allah. The Ka`bah also was called Bait-Allah by them and not Bait-ilahs after their self-made gods. At many places in the Qur’an the polytheistic Arabian belief about Allah has been expressed, thus:

In Surah Az-Zukhruf it has been said: “If you ask them who created them, they will surely say, ‘Allah’.” (v. 87)

In Surah Al-`Ankabuu: “If you ask them, `Who has created the earth and the heavens and Who has subjected the moon and the sun?’ they will surely say: Allah … And if you ask them, `Who sent down rainwater from the sky and thereby raised the dead earth back to Iife?’ they will surely say: `Allah’.” (vv. 61-63)

In Surah Al-Mu’minun: “Say to them, `Tell me, if you know, whose is the earth and all who dwell in it?’ They will say, `Allah’s’… say to them, `To Whom do the seven heavens and the Glorious Throne belong?’ They will say, `To Allah’… Say to them, `Tell me, if you know, Whose is the sovereignty over everything? And Who is that Being Who gives protection while none else can give protection against Him?’ They will surely reply, `This power oolongs to Allah’.” (vv. 8489).

In Surah Yunus: “Ask them: Who provides for you from the heavens and the earth? Who has power over the faculties of hearing and sight? Who brings forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living? Who directs the system of the universe? They will surely reply, `Allah’.” (v. 31)

Again in Surah Yunus at another place: “When you set sails in ships, rejoicing over a fair breeze, then all of a sudden a strong wind begins to rage against the passengers and waves begin to surge upon them from every side and they realize that they have been encircled by the tempest. At that time they pray to Allah with sincere faith, saying: `If thou deliverest us from this peril, we will become Thy grateful servants.’ But when He delivers them, the same people begin to rebel on the earth against the Truth.” (w. 22-23)

The same thing has been reiterated in Surah Bani Isra’il, thus: “When a misfortune befalls you on the sea, all of those whom you invoke for help tail you but He (is there to help you), yet when He brings you safe to land, you turn away from Him.” (v. 67)

Keeping these verses in view, let us consider that when the people asked: “Who is your Lord and what is He like to Whose service and worship you call us?” the answer given was “Huwa Allah: He is Allah.” This answer by itself gives the meaning: “My Lord is He Whom you yourself acknowledge as your own as well as the whole world’s Creator, its Master, Sustainer and Administrator, and He Whom you invoke for help at critical times beside all other deities, and I invite you to His service alone.” This answer comprehends all the perfect and excellent attributes of Allah. Therefore, it is not at all conceivable that the Creator of the universe, its Administrator and Disposer of its affairs, Sustainer of all the creatures living in it, and the Helper of the servants in times of hardship, would not be living, hearing and seeing, that He would not be an All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Wise, All-Merciful and All-Kind Sovereign.

3The scholars have explained the sentence Huwa-Allah Ahad syntactically, but in our opinion its explanation which perfectly corresponds to the context is that Huwa is the subject and Allahu its predicate, and Ahad-un its second predicate. According to this parsing the sentence means: “He (about Whom you are questioning me) is Allah, is One and only one. Another meaning also can be, and according to language rules it is not wrong either: “He is Allah, the One.”

Here, the first thing to be understood is the unusual use of ahad in this sentence. Usually this word is either used in the possessive case as yaum ul-ahad (first day of the week), or to indicate total negative as Ma ja a a-ni ahad-un (No one has come to me), or in common questions like Hal `indaka ahad-un (Is there anyone with you?), or in conditional clauses like Inja’a-ka ahad-un (If someone comes to you), or in counting as ahad, ithnan, ahad ashar (one, two, eleven). Apart from these uses, there is no precedent in the pre-Qur’anic Arabic that the mere word ahad might have been used as an adjective for a person or thing. After the revelation of the Qur’an this word has been used only for the Being of Allah, and for no one else. This extraordinary use by itself shows that being single, unique and matchless is a fundamental attribute of Allah; no one else in the world is qualified with this quality: He is One, He has no equal.

Then, keeping in view the questions that the polytheists and the followers of earlier scriptures asked the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) about his Lord, let us see how they were answered with ahad-un after Huwa-Allah.

First, it means: “He alone is the Sustainer: no one else has any share or part in providence. and since He alone can be the Itch (Deity) Who is Master and Sustainer, therefore, no one else is His associate in Divinity either.”

Secondly, it also means “He alone is the Creator of the universe: no one else is His associate in this work of creation. He alone is the Master of the universe, the Disposer and Administrator of its system, the Sustainer , of His creatures, Helper and Rescuer in times of hardship; no one else has any share or pan whatever in the works of Godhead, which as you yourselves acknowledge, are works of Allah.

Thirdly since they had also asked the questions: of what is your Lord made? what is His ancestry? What is his sex? From whom has He inherited the world and who will inherit it after Him? -all these questions have been answered with one word ahad for Allah. It means:

(1) He alone has been, and will be, God for ever; neither was there a God before Him, nor will there be any after Him;

(2) there is no race of gods to which He may belong as a member: He is God, one and single, and none is homogeneous with Him;

(3) His being is not merely One (wahid) but ahad, in which there is no tinge of plurality in any way.

He is not a compound being, which may be analyzable or divisible. which may have a form and shape, which may be residing somewhere, or may contain or include something, which may have a color, which may have some limbs, which may have a direction, and which may be variable or changeable in any way. Free from every kind of plurality He alone is a Being Who is Ahad in every aspect. (Here, one should fully understand that the word wahid is used in Arabic just like the word “one” in English. A collection consisting of great pluralities is collectively called wahid or one, as one man, one nation, one country, one world, even one universe, and every separate part of a collection is also called one. But the word Ahad is not used for anyone except Allah. That is why wherever in the Qur’an the word wahid has been used for Allah, He has been called itah wahid (one Deity), or Allah-ulWahid-al-Qahhar. (One Allah Who is Omnipotent), and nowhere just wahid, for this word ‘ is also used for the things which contain pluralities of different kinds in their being. On the contrary, for Allah and only for Allah the word Ahad has been used absolutely, for He alone is the Being Who exists without any plurality in any way, Whose Oneness is perfect in every way.

4The word used in the original is samad of which the root is smd. A look at the derivatives in Arabic from this root will show how comprehensive and vast this word is in meaning. (Lexical discussion of the meanings of the derivatives is omitted).

On the basis of these lexical meanings the explanations of the word asSamad in the verse Allah-us-Samad, which have been reported from the Companions, their immediate successors and the later scholars are given below:

Hadrat ‘AIi. ‘Ikrimah and Ka’b Ahbar: “Samad is he who has no superior. ”

Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin Mas`ud, Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Abbas and Abu Wail Shaqiq bin Salamah: “The chieftain whose chieftancy is perfect and of the most extraordinary kind.”

Another view of Ibn ‘Abbas: “Samad is he to whom the people turn when afflicted with a calamity.” Still another view of his: “The chieftain who in his chieftaincy, in his nobility and glory, in his clemency and forbearance,. in his knowledge and wisdom is perfect. ”

Hadrat Abu Hurairah: “He who is independent of all and all others are dependent upon him. ”

Other views of ‘Ikrimah: “He from whom nothing ever has come out, nor normally comes out:” “Who neither eats nor drinks.” Views containing the same meaning have been related from Sha’bi and Muhammad bin Ka’b al-Kurazi also.

Suddi: “the one to whom the people turn for obtaining the things they need and for help in hardships. ”

Sa’id bin Jubair: “He who is perfect in all his attributes and works.”

Rabi’ bin Jubair: “He who is immune form every calamity.”

Muqatil bin Hayyan: “He who is faultless.”

Ibn Kaysan: “He who is exclusive in his attributes.”

Hasan Basri and Qatadah: “He who is ever-living and immortal.”

Similar views have been related from Mujahid, Ma’mar and Murrat alHamadani also.

Munat al-Hamadani’s another view is : “he who decides whatever he wills and does whatever he wills, without there being anyone to revise his judgment and decision.”

Ibrahim Nakha’i: “He to whom the people turn for fulfillment of their desires.”

Abu Bakr al-Anbari “There is no difference of opinion among the lexicographers that samad is the chief who has no superior and to whom the people turn for fulfillment of their desires and needs and in connection with other affairs.” Similar to it is the view of Az-Zajjjaj, who says “Samad is he in whom leadership has been perfected, and to whom one turns for fulfillment of one’s needs and desires.”

Now, let us consider why Allahu-Ahad has been said in the first sentence and why Allah-us-Samad in this sentence. About the word ahad we have explained above that it is exclusively used for Allah, and for none else. That is why it has been used as ahad, in the indefinite sense. But since the word samad is used for creatures also, Allah-us-Samad has been said instead of Allah Samad, which signifies that real and true Samad is Allah alone. If a creature is samad in one sense, it may not be samad in some other sense, for it is mortal, not immortal; it is analyzable and divisible, is compound, its parts can scatter away any time; some creatures are dependent upon it, and upon others it is dependent; its chieftaincy is relative and not absolute; it is superior to certain things and certain other things are superior to it; it can fulfill some desires of some creatures but it is not in the power of any creature to fulfill all the desires of all the creatures, On the contrary, Allah is perfect in His attributes of Samad in every respect; the whole world is dependent upon Hun in its needs, but He is ,not dependent upon needs; everything in the world turns to Him, consciously or unconsciously, for its survival and for fulfillment of the needs of everyone; He is immortal and Ever-living; He sustains others and is not sustained by anyone; He is Single and Unique, not compound so as to be analyzable and divisible; His sovereignty prevails over entire universe and He is Supreme in every sense. Therefore, He is not only .Samad but As-Samad, i e. the Only and One Being Who is wholly and perfectly qualified with the attribute of samad in the true sense.

Then, since He is As-Samad, it is necessary that He should be Unique, One and Only, for such a being can only be One, which is not dependent upon anyone and upon whom everyone else may be dependent; two or more beings cannot be self-sufficient and fulfiller of the needs of all. Furthermore, His being As-samad also requires that He alone should be the Deity, none else, for no sensible person would worship and serve the one who had no power and authority to fulfill the needs of others.

5The polytheists in every age have adopted the concept that like men, gods also belong to a species, which has many members and they also get married, beget and are begotten. They did not even regard Allah, Lord of the universe, as supreme and above this concept of ignorance, and even proposed children for Him. Thus, the Arabian belief as stated in the Qur’an was that they regarded the angels as daughters of Allah. The Prophetic communities too could not remain immune from this creed of paganism. They too adopted the creed of holding one saintly person or another as son of God. Two kinds of concepts have always been mixed up in these debasing superstitions. Some people thought that those whom they regarded as Allah’s children, were descended from him in the natural way and some others claimed that the one whom they called son of God, had been adopted by Allah Himself as a son. Although they could not dare call anyone as, God forbid, father of God, obviously human mind cannot remain immune against such a concept that God too should be regarded as a son of somebody when it is conceived that He is not tree from sex and procreation and that He too, like man, is the kind of being which begets children and needs to adopt a son in case it is childless, That is why one of the questions asked of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was: what is the ancestry of Allah? and another was: from whom has He inherited the world and who will inherit it after Him?

If these assumptions of ignorance are analyzed, it becomes obvious that they logically necessitate the assumption of some other things as well.

First, that God should not be One, but there should be a species of Gods, and its members should be associates in the attributes, acts and powers of Divinity. This not only follows from assuming God begetting children but also from assuming that He has adopted someone as a son. for the adopted son of somebody can inevitably be of his own kind. And when, God forbid, he is of the same kind as God, it cannot be denied that he too possesses attributes of Godhead.

Second, that children cannot be conceived unless the male and the female combine and some substance from the father and the mother unites to take the shape of child. Therefore, the assumption that God begets children necessitates that He should, God forbid, be a material and physical entity, should have a wife of His own species, and some substance also should issue from His body.

Third, that wherever there is sex and procreation, it is there because individuals are mortal and for the survival of their species it is inevitable that they should beget children to perpetuate the race. Thus, the assumption that God begets children also necessitates that He should, God forbid, Himself be mortal, and immorality should belong to the species of Gods, not to God Himself. Furthermore, it also necessitates that like all mortal individuals, God also, God forbid, should have a beginning and an end. For the individuals of the species whose survival depends upon sex and procreation neither exist since eternity nor will exist till eternity.

Fourth, that the object of adopting some one as a son is that a childless person needs a helper in his lifetime and an heir after his death. Therefore, the supposition that Allah has adopted a son inevitably amounts to ascribing all those weaknesses to His sublime Being which characterize mortal man.

Although all these assumptions are destroyed as soon as Allah is called and described as Ahad and As-Samad, yet when it is said: “Neither has He an offspring nor is He the offspring of another”, there remains no room for any ambiguity in this regard. Then, since these concepts are the most potent factors of polytheism with regard to Divine Being, Allah has refuted them clearly and absolutely not only in Surah Al-Ikhlas but has also reiterated this theme at different places in different ways so that the people may understand the truth fully. For example let us consider the following verses:

“Allah is only One Deity: He is tar too exalted that He should have a son: whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth belongs to Him.” (AnNisa’: 171)

“Note it well: they, in fact, invent a falsehood when they say, `Allah has children’. They are utter liars,” (As-Saaffat: 151-152)

“They have invented a hood-relationship between Allah and the angels, whereas the angels know full well that these people will be brought up (as culprits)” (As-Saaffat: 158)

“These people have made some of His servants to be part of Him. The fact is that man is manifestly ungrateful. ” (Az-Zukhruf: l 5 )

“Yet the people have set up the Jinn as partners with Allah, whereas He is their Creator; they have also invented for Him sons and daughters without having any knowledge, whereas He is absolutely free from and exalted far above the things they say. He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth: how should He have a son, when He has no consort? He has created each and every thing.” (Al An’am: 100-102)

“They say: the Merciful has offspring. Glory be to Allah! They (whom they describe as His offspring) are His mere servants who have been honored.” (AI-Anbiya: 26)

“They remarked: Allah has taken a son to himself. Allah is AII-pure: He is Self Sufficient He is the Owner of everything that is in the heavens and the earth. Have you any authority for what you say? What, do you ascribe to Allah that of which you have no knowledge?” (Yunus: 68)

“And (O Prophet,) say: praise is for Allah Who has begotten no son nor has any partner in His Kingdom nor is helpless to need any supporter.” (Bani Isra’il:111)

“Allah has no offspring, and there is no other deity as a partner with Him.” (Al-Mu’minun: 91)

In these verses the belief of the people who ascribe real and adopted children to Allah, has been refuted from every aspect, and its being a false belief has also been proved by argument. These and many other Qur’anic verses on the same theme explain Surah Al-Ikhlas fully well.

6The word kufu’ as used in the original means an example, a similar thing, the one equal in rank and position. In the matter of marriage, kufu’ means that the boy and the girl should match each other socially. Thus, the verse means that there is no one in the entire universe, nor ever was, nor ever can be, who is similar to Allah, or equal in rank with Him, or resembling Him in His attributes, works and powers in any degree whatever.

 

111. Surah Al Lahab (The Flame)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an

 

111. Surah Al Lahab (The Flame)

Name

The Surah takes its name from the word Lahab in the first verse.

Period of Revelation

Although the commentators have not disputed its being a Makki Surah, yet it is difficult to determine in which phase of the life at Makkah precisely it was revealed. However, in view of Abu Lahab’s role and conduct against the Holy Prophet’s message of Truth, it can be assumed that it must have been revealed in the period when he had transgressed all limits in his mad hostility to him, and his attitude was becoming a serious obstruction in the progress of Islam. It may well have been revealed in the period when the Quraish had boycotted the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) together with the people of his clan and besieged them in Shi’b Abi Talib, and Abu Lahab was the only person to join with the enemies against his own relatives. The basis of this assumption is that Abu Lahab was the Holy Prophet’s uncle, and public condemnation of the uncle by the tongue of the nephew could not be proper until the extreme excesses committed by the uncle had become visible to everyone. If the Surah had been revealed before this, in the very beginning, the people would have regarded it as morally discourteous that the nephew should so condemn the uncle.

Background

This is the only place in the Quran where a person from among the enemies of Islam has been condemned by name, whereas in Makkah as well as in Madinah, after the migration, there were many people who were in no way less inimical to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) than Abu Lahab. The question is, what was the special trait of the character of this person, which became the basis of this condemnation by name? To understand that it is necessary that one should understand the Arabian society of that time and the role that Abu Lahab played in it.

In ancient days since there prevailed chaos and confusion, bloodshed and plunder throughout Arabia, and the condition for centuries was that a person could have no guarantee of the protection of life, honor and property except with the help and support of his clansmen and blood relations, therefore silah rehmi (good treatment of the kindred) was esteemed most highly among the moral values of the Arabian society and breaking off of connections with the kindred was regarded as a great sin. Under, the influence of the same Arabian tradition when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) began to preach the message of Islam, the other clans of Quraish and their chiefs resisted and opposed him tooth and nail, but the Bani Hashim and the Bani al-Muttalib (children of al-Muttalib, brother of Hashim) not only did not oppose him but continued to support him openly, although most of them had not yet believed in his Prophethood. The other clans of Quraish themselves regarded this support by the blood relations of the Holy Prophet as perfectly in accordance with the moral traditions of Arabia. That is why they never taunted the Bani Hashim and the Bani al-Muttalib in that they had abandoned their ancestral faith by supporting a person who was preaching a new faith. They knew and believed that they could in no case hand over an individual of their clan to his enemies, and their support and aid of a clansman was perfectly natural in the sight of the Quraish and the people of Arabia.

This moral principle, which the Arabs even in the pre-Islamic days of ignorance, regarded as worthy of respect and inviolable was broken only by one man in his enmity of Islam, and that was Abu Lahab, son of Abdul Muttalib. He was an uncle of the Holy Prophet, whose father and he were sons of the same father. In Arabia, an uncle represented the father especially when the nephew was fatherless. The uncle was expected to look after the nephew as one of his own children. But this man in his hostility to Islam and love of kufr trampled all the Arab traditions under foot.

The traditionists have related from Ibn Abbas with several chains of transmitters the tradition that when the Holy Prophet was commanded to present the message of Islam openly, and he was instructed in the Quran to warn first of all his nearest kinsfolk of the punishment of God, he ascended the Mount, Safa one morning and called out aloud: Ya sabahah (O, the calamity of the morning!). This alarm in Arabia was raised by the person who noticed early at dawn an enemy tribe advancing against his tribe. When the Holy Messenger made this call, the people inquired as to who had made the call. They were told that it was Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace). There the people of all the clans of Quraish rushed out. Everyone who could, came. He who could not, sent another one for himself. When the People had assembled, the Holy Messenger calling out each clan by name, viz. O Bani Hashim, O Bani Abdul Muttalib, O Bani Fihr, O Bani so and so, said: “If I were to tell you that behind the hill there was an enemy host ready to fall upon you, would you believe me?” The people responded with one voice, saying that they never had so far experienced a lie from him. The Holy Prophet said: “Then I warn you that you are heading for a torment.” Thereupon, before anyone else could speak, Abu Lahab, the Holy Prophet’s uncle, said: “May you perish! Did you summon us for this?”Another tradition adds that he picked up a stone to throw at the Holy Prophet. (Musnad Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ibn Jarir, and others).

According to Ibn Zaid, one day Abu Lahab asked the Holy Prophet: “If I were to accept your religion, what would I get?” The Holy Prophet replied: “You would get what the other believers would get.” He said: “Is there no preference or distinction for me?” The Holy Prophet replied: “What else do you want?” Thereupon he said: “May this religion perish in which I and all other people should be equal and alike!” (Ibn Jarir).

In Makkah Abu Lahab was the next door neighbor of the Holy Prophet. Their houses were separated by a wall. Besides him, Hakam bin As (Father of Marwan), Uqbah bin Abi Muait, Adi bin Hamra and Ibn al-Asda il-Hudhali also were his neighbors. These people did not allow him to have peace even in his own house. Sometimes when he was performing the Prayer, they would place the goat’s stomach on him; sometimes when food was being cooked in the courtyard, they would throw filth at the cooking pot. The Holy Prophet would come out and say: “O Bani Abdi Manaf, what kind of neighborliness is it?”Abu Lahab’s wife, Umm Jamil (Abu Sufyan’s sister), had made it a practice to cast thorns at his door in the night so that when he or his children came out of the house at dawn, they should run thorns in the foot. (Baihaqi, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Asakir, Ibn Hisham).

Before the proclamation of Prophethood, two of the Holy Prophet’s daughters were married to two of Abu Lahab’s sons, Utbah and Utaibah. After his call when the Holy Prophet began to invite the people to Islam, Abu Lahab said to both his sons:”I would forbid myself seeing and meeting you until you divorced the daughters of Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings).”So, both of them divorced their, wives. Utaibah in particular became so nasty in his spitefulness that one day he came before the Holy Prophet and said: “I repudiate An-najmi idha hawa and Alladhi dana fatadalla” and then he spat at him, but his spital did not fall on him. The Holy Prophet prayed: “O God, subject him to the power of a dog from among Your dogs.”Afterwards, Utaibah accompanied his father in his journey to Syria. During the journey the caravan halted at a place which, according to local people, was visited by wild beasts at night. Abu Lahab told his companions, the Quraish: “Make full arrangements for the protection of my son, for I fear the curse invoked by Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace) on him.” Accordingly, the people made their camels sit all around Utaibah and went to sleep. At night a tiger came which crossed the circle of the camels and devoured Utaibah tearing him to pieces. (Ibn Abdul Barr: Al-Istiab; Ibn Hajar: Al- Isabah; Abu Nuaim al-Isfahani: Dalail an-Nubuwwat; As-Suhaili: Raud al-Unuf. Here there is a difference of opinion. Some reporters say that the divorce took place after the Holy Prophet’s proclamation of Prophethood and some say that it took place after the revelation of Tabbat yada Abi Lahab. There is also a difference of opinion about whether Abu Lahab’s this son was Utbah or Utaibah. But this much is confirmed that after the conquest of Makkah, Utbah embraced Islam and took the oath of allegiance at the Holy Prophet’s hand. Therefore, the correct view is that it was Utaibah).

Abu Lahab’s wickedness can be judged from the fact that when after the death of the Holy Prophet’s son Hadrat Qasim, his second son, Hadrat Abdullah, also died, this man instead of joining with his nephew in his bereavement, hastened to the Quraish chiefs joyfully to give them the news that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) had become childless that night. This we have already related in the commentary of Surah Al-Kauthar.

Wherever the Holy Prophet went to preach his message of Islam, this man followed him and forbade the people to listen to him. Rabiah bin Abbad ad- Dill has related: “I was a young boy when I accompanied my father to the face of Dhul-Majaz. There I saw the Holy Messenger (may peace be upon him) who was exhorting the people, saying: ‘O people, say: there is no deity but Allah, you will attain success.’ Following behind him I saw a man, who was telling the people, `This fellow is a liar: he has gone astray from his ancestral faith.’ I asked; who is he? The people replied: He is his uncle, Abu Lahab.” (Musnad Ahmad, Baihaqi).

Another tradition from Hadrat Rabiah is to the effect; “I saw that the Holy Prophet went to the halting place of each tribe and said: `O children of so and so, I have been appointed Allah’s Messenger to you. I exhort you to worship only Allah and to associate none with Him. So, affirm faith in me and join me so that I may fulfill the mission for which I have been sent.’ Following close behind him there was a man who was saying: `O children of so and so, he is leading you astray from Lat and Uzza and inviting you to the religion of error and innovation which he has brought. Do not at all listen to what he says and do not follow him.’ I asked my father: who is he? He replied: he is his uncle, Abu Lahab.” (Musnad Ahmad, Tabarani).

Tariq bin Abdullah al-Muharibi’s tradition is similar. He says: “I saw in the fare of Dhul-Majaz that the Holy Messenger (upon whom be peace) was exhorting the people, saying: `O people, say La ilaha ill-Allah, you will attain success’, and behind him there was a man who was casting stones at him, until his heels bled, and he was telling the people: ‘Do not listen to him, he is a liar.’ I asked the people who he was. They said he was his uncle, Abu Lahab.” (Tirmidhi).

In the 7th year of Prophethood, when all the clans of Quraish boycotted the Bani Hashim and the Bani al-Muttalib socially and economically, and both these clans remaining steadfast to the Holy Prophet’s support, were besieged in Shib Abi Talib, Abu Lahab was the only person, who sided with the disbelieving Quraish against his own clan. This boycott continued for three years, so much so that the Bani Hashim and the Bani al-Muttalib began to starve. This, however, did not move Abu Lahab. When a trade caravan came to Makkah and a besieged person from Shib Abi Talib approached it to buy some article of food, Abu Lahab would shout out to the merchants to demand a forbidding price, telling them that he would make up for any loss that they incurred. Thus, they would demand exorbitant rates and the poor customer had to return empty handed to his starving children. Then Abu Lahab would purchase the same articles from them at the market rates. (Ibn Sa’d, Ibn Hisham).

On account of these very misdeeds this man was condemned in this Surah by name, and there was a special need for it. When the Holy Prophet’s own uncle followed and opposed him before the Arabs who came for hajj from outside Makkah, or gathered together in the fares held at different places, they regarded it as against the established traditions of Arabia that an uncle should run down his nephew without a reason, should pelt stones at him and bring false accusations against him publicly. They were, therefore, influenced by what Abu Lahab said and were involved in doubt about the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace). But when this, Surah was revealed, and Abu Lahab, filled with rage, started uttering nonsense, the people realized that what he said in opposition to the Holy Prophet was not at all reliable, for he said all that in his mad hostility to his nephew.

Besides, when his uncle was condemned by name, the people’s expectation that the Holy Messenger (upon whom be peace) could treat some relative leniently in the matter of religion was frustrated for ever. When the Holy Messenger’s own uncle was taken to task publicly the people understood that there was no room for preference or partiality in their faith. A non-relative could become a near and dear one if he believed, and a near relation a non-relative if he disbelieved. Thus, there is no place for the ties of blood in religion.

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In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

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[1-5] Broken were the hands of Abu Lahab and he was doomed to utter failure.1 His wealth and whatever he earned did not avail him anything.2 Certainly he shall be cast into a blazing Fire. And his wife, too,3 the bearer of slander.4 Round her neck will be a rope of palm-fibre.5

1His real name was ‘Abd al-‘Uzza, and he was called Abu Lahab on account of his glowing, ruddy complexion. Lahab means the flame of fire, and Abu Lahab the one with a flaming, fiery face. His being mentioned here by his nickname (Kunyat), instead of his real name, has several reasons. First, that he was better known by his nickname than by his real name; second, that the Qur’an did not approve that he should be mentioned by his polytheistic name `Abd al ‘Uzza (slave of ‘Uzza); third, that his kunyat goes well with the fate that has been described of him in this Surah.

Some commentators have translated tabbat yada Abi Lahab to mean: “May the hands of Abu Lahab be broken”, and tabby to mean: “may he perish” or “he perished”. But this, in fact, was not a curse which was invoked on him, but a prophecy in which an event taking place in the future, has been described in the past tense, to suggest that its occurrence in the future is certain and inevitable.

In actual fact, at last the same thing happened as had been foretold in this Surah a few years earlier. Breaking of the hands obviously does not imply breaking of the physical hands, but a person’s utterly failing in his aim and object for which he has exerted his utmost. And Abu Lahab indeed had exerted his utmost to defeat and frustrate the message of Islam presented by the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace). But hardly seven or eight years after the revelation of this Surah most of the big chiefs of Quraish, who were a party with Abu Lahab in his hostility to Islam, were killed in the Battle of Badr. When the news of the defeat reached Makkah, he was so shocked that he could not survive for more than seven days. His death occurred in a pitiable state. He became afflicted with malignant pustule and the people of his house left him to himself, fearing contagion. No one came near his body for three days after his death, until the body decomposed and began to stink. At last, when the people began to taunt his sons, according to one tradition, they hired some Africans, who lifted his body and buried it.

According to another tradition, they got a pit dug out and threw his body into it by pushing it with wood, and covered it up with earth and stones. His utter failure became manifest when the religion which he had tried his utmost to impede and thwart, was accepted by his own children. First of all, his daughter, Darrah, migrated from Makkah to Madinah and embraced Islam; then on the conquest of Makkah, both his sons, `Utabh and Mu`attab, came before the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) through the mediation of Hadrat `Abbas, believed and took oath of allegiance to him.

2Abu Lahab was a stingy, materialistic man. Ibn Jarir has stated that once in the pre-Islamic days he was accused of having stolen two golden deer from the treasury of the Ka’bah. Though later the deer were recovered from another person, the fact that he was accused of stealing indicates the opinion the people of Makkah held of him. About his riches Qadi Rashid bin Zubair writes in his Adh-Dhakha’ir wat-Tuhaf. He was one of the four richest men of the Quraish, who owned one qintar (about 260 oz) of gold each. His love of wealth can be judged from the fact that when on the occasion of the battle of Badr the fate of his religion was going to be decided for ever, and all the Quraish chiefs had personally gone to fight, he sent `As bin Hisham to fight on his own behalf, telling him: This is in lieu of the debt of four thousand dirhams that you owe to me. Thus. he contrived a plan to realize his debt, for ‘As had become bankrupt and there was no hope of the recovery of the debt from him.

Some commentators have taken ma kasaba in the meaning of the earning, i.r. the benefits that accrued to him from his wealth were his kasab(earning), and some other commentators have taken it to imply children, for the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) has said that a man’s son also is his kasab (earning). (Abu Da’ud, Ibn Abi Hatim). Both these meanings fully correspond to the fate met by Abu Lahab. For when he was afflicted with the malignant pustule, his wealth availed him nothing, and his children also left him alone to die a miserable, wretched death. They did not even bury him honorably. Thus, within a few years the people witnessed how the prophecy which had been made in this Surah about Abu Lahab was literally fulfilled.

3Her name was Arwa’ and her nickname (kunyat) Umm Jamil. She was sister of Abu Sufyan and was no less bitter than her husband, Abu Lahab, in her enmity to the Holy Messenger (upon whom be peace) Hadrat Abu Bakr’s daughter, Hadrat Asma’, has related that when this Surah was revealed, and Umm Jamil heard it, she was filled with rage and went out in search of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace). She carried a handful of stones and she was crying some verses of her own, satirizing the Holy Prophet. She came to the Ka`bah, where the Holy Prophet was sitting with Hadrat Abu Bakr. The latter said: “O Messenger of Allah, there she comes and I fear lest she should utter something derogatory to you.” The Holy Prophet replied: “She will not see me.” The same thing happened. She could not see the Holy Prophet although he was there. She said to Hadrat Abu Bakr: “I hear that your Companion has satirized me.” Hadrat Abu Bakr replied: “No, by the Lord of this house, he has not satirized you.” Hearing this she went off. (lbn Abi Hatim, Ibn Hisham; Bazzar has related an incident on the authority of Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin `Abbas also, which closely resembles this). What Hadrat Abu Bakr meant was that she had not been satirized by the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace), but by Allah Himself.

4The words in the original are hammalat al-hatab, which literally mean: “carrier of the wood”. The commentators have given several meanings of it. Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Abbas, Ibn Zaid, Dahhak and Rabi` bin Anas say: She used to strew thorns at the Holy Prophet’s door in the night; therefore, she has been described as carrier of the wood. Qatadah, Ikrimah Hasan Bari, Mujahid and Sufyan Thauri say: She used to carry evil tales and slander from one person to another in order to create hatred between them; therefore, she has been called the bearer of wood idiomatically. Sa`id bin Jubair says: The one who is loading himself with the burden of sin, is described idiomatically in Arabic as: Fulan-un Yahtatibu ala zahri bi (so and so is loading wood on his back); therefore, hummalat al-hatab means: “The one who carries the burden of sin.” Another meaning also which the commentators have given is: she will do this in the Hereafter, i.e. she will bring and supply wood to the fire in which Abu Lahab would be burning.

5The word used for her neck is jid, which in Arabic means a neck decorated with an ornament. Sa`id bin al-Musayyab, Hasan Basri and Qatadah say that she wore a valuable necklace and used to say: “By Lat and `Uzza, I will sell away this necklace and expend the price to satisfy my enmity against Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him).” That is why the word jid has been used here ironically, thereby implying that in Hell she would have a rope of palm-fibre round her neck instead of that necklace upon which she prides herself so arrogantly. Another example of this ironical style is found at several places in the Qur’an in the sentence: Bashshir-hum bi-`adhab-in alima “Give them the good news of a painful torment.”

The words babl-um min-masad have been used for the rope which will be put round her neck, i e. it will be a rope of the masad kind. Different meanings of this have been given by the lexicographers and commentators. According to some, masad means a tightly twisted rope; others say that: masad is the rope made from palm-fibre; still others say that it means the rope made from rush, or camel-skin, or camel-hair. Still another view is that it implies a cable made by twisted iron strands together.

 

110. Surah An Nasr (The Help)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an

 

110. Surah An Nasr (The Help)

Name

The Surah takes its name from the word nasr occurring in the first verse.

Period of Revelation

Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas states that this is the last Surah of the Quran to be revealed, i. e. no complete Surah was sent down to the Holy Prophet after it. (Muslim Nasai, Tabarani, Ibn Abi Shaibah, Ibn Marduyah).

According to Hadrat Abdullah bin Umar, this Surah was sent down on the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage in the middle of the Tashriq Days at Mina, and after it the Holy Prophet rode his she camel and gave his well known Sermon. (Tirmidhi, Bazzar, Baihaqi, Ibn Abi Shaibah, Abd bin Humaid, Abn Yala, Ibn Marduyah). Baihaqi in Kitab al- Hajj has related from the tradition of Hadrat Sarra bint-Nabhan the Sermon which the Holy Prophet gave on this occasion. She says:

“At the Farewell Pilgrimage I heard the Holy Prophet say: O people, do you know what day it is? They said: Allah and His Messenger have the best knowledge. He said: This is the middle day of the Tashriq Days. Then he said: Do you know what place it is? They said: Allah and His Messenger have the best knowledge. He said: This is Masharil-Haram. Then he said: I do not know, I might not meet you here again. Beware, your bloods and your honors are forbidden, until you appear before your Lord, and He questions you about your deeds. Listen: let the one who is near convey it to him who is far away. Listen: have I conveyed the message to you? Then, when we returned to Madinah, the Holy Prophet passed away not many days after that.”

If both these traditions are read together, it appears that there was an interval of three months and some days between the revelation of Surah An-Nasr and the Holy Prophet’s death, for historically the same was the interval between the Farewell Pilgrimage and the passing away of the Holy Prophet.

Ibn Abbas says that when this Surah was revealed, the Holy Prophet said that he had been informed of his death and his time had approached. (Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Jarir, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Marduyah). In the other traditions related from Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas, it has been stated that at the revelation of this Surah the Holy Prophet understood that he had been informed of his departure from the world.(Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Jarir, Tabarani, Nasai, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Marduyah).

Mother of the Believers, Hadrat Umm Habibah, says that when this Surah was revealed the Holy Prophet said that he would leave the world that year. Hearing this Hadrat Fatimah wept. Thereat he said: “From among my family you will be the first to join me.” Hearing this she laughed.(Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Marduyah). A tradition containing almost the same theme has been related by Baihaqi from Ibn Abbas.

Ibn Abbas says: “Hadrat Umar used to invite me to sit in his assembly along with some of the important elderly Companions who had fought at Badr. This was not liked by some of them. They complained that they also had sons who were like the boy. Why then was he in particular invited to sit in the assembly? (Imam Bukhari and Ibn Jarir have pointed out that such a thing was said by Hadrat Abdur Rahman bin Auf).

Hadrat Umar said that the boy enjoyed the position and distinction because of his knowledge. Then one day he invited the Companions of Badr and called me also to sit with them. I understood that he had invited me to the assembly to prove his contention. During the conversation Hadrat Umar asked the Companions of Badr: “What do you say about Idha jaa nasrullahi wal- fath?” Some said: “In it we have been enjoined to praise Allah and ask for His forgiveness when His succor comes and we attain victory.”Some others said that it implied the conquest of cities and forts. Some kept quiet. Then Hadrat Umar said: “Ibn Abbas, do you also say the same?”I said no. He asked: “What then is your view?”I submitted that it implied the last hour of Allah’s Messenger (upon whom be peace); in it he was informed that when Allah’s succor came and victory was attained, it would be a sign that his hour had come; therefore, he should praise Allah and ask for His forgiveness. Thereat Hadrat Umar said “I know naught but what you have said.”

In another tradition there is the addition that, Hadrat Umar said to the Companions: “How can you blame me when you yourselves have seen why I invite this boy to join the assembly?” (Bukhari, Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Marduyah, Baghawi, Baihaqi, Ibn al-Mundhir).

Theme and Subject Matter

As is shown by the above traditions, Allah in this Surah had informed His Messenger (upon whom be peace) that when Islam attained complete victory in Arabia and the people started entering Allah’s religion in great numbers, it would mean that the mission for which he had been sent to the world, had been fulfilled. Then, he was enjoined to busy himself in praising and glorifying Allah by Whose bounty he had been able to accomplish such a great task, and should implore Him to forgive whatever failings and frailties he might have shown in the performance of the service. Here, by a little consideration one can easily see the great difference that there is between a Prophet and a common worldly leader. If a worldly leader in his own lifetime is able to bring about a revolution, which has the aim and objective of his struggle, this would be an occasion for exultation for him. But here we witness quite another phenomenon. The Messenger of Allah in a brief space of 23 years revolutionized an entire nation as regards its beliefs, thoughts, customs, morals, civilization, ways of living, economy, politics and fighting ability, and raising it from ignorance and barbarism enabled it to conquer the world and become leader of nations; yet when he had accomplished this unique task, he was not enjoined to celebrate it but to glorify and praise Allah and to pray for His forgiveness, and he busied himself humbly the implementation of that command.

Hadrat Aishah says: “The Holy Messenger (upon whom be peace) often used to recite Subhanak-Allahumma wa bi-hamdika astaghfiruka wa atubu ilaika (according to some other traditions, Subhan Allahi wa bi hamdi-hi as- taghfirullaha wa atubu ilaihi) before his death. I asked: O Messenger of Allah, what are these words that you have started reciting now? He replied: A sign has been appointed for me so that when I see it, I should recite these words, and it is: Idha jaa nasrullahi wal-fathu.” (Musnad Ahmad, Muslim, Ibn Jarir, lbn al-Mundhir, Ibn Marduyah).

In some other traditions on the same subject Hadrat Aishah has reported that the Holy Prophet often recited the following words in his ruku and sajdah: Subhanak-Allahumma wa-bi hamdika, Allahumma- aghfirli. This was the interpretation of the Quran (i. e. of Surah An-Nasr) that he had made.(Bukhari, Muslim Abu Daud, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Ibn Jarir).

Hadrat Umm Salamah says that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) during his last days very often recited the following words sitting and standing, going out of the house and coming back to it: Subhan Allahi wa-bi hamdi-hi. I one day asked: “Why do you recite these words so often? O Messenger of Allah”. He replied: I have been enjoined to do so. Then he recited this Surah.” (Ibn Jarir).

According to Hadrat Abdullah bin Masud, when this Surah was revealed, the Messenger of Allah (upon whom be peace) frequently began to recite the words Subhanak-Allahumma wa bi-hamdika, Allahumm-aghfirli, subhanaka Rabbana wa bi-hamdika, Allahumm-aghfirli, innaka anta at- Tawwab al-Ghafur.(Ibn Jarir, Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Abi Hatim).

Ibn Abbas has stated that after the revelation of this Surah the Holy Messenger (upon whom be peace) began to labor so intensively and devotedly hard for the Hereafter as he had never done before.

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In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

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[1-3] When Allah’s help comes and victory is attained.1 And (O Prophet,) you see that the people are entering into Allah’s Religion in crowds.2 Then glorify your Lord with His praise,3 and pray for His forgiveness.4 Indeed, He is ever inclined to accept repentance.

1Victory here does not imply victory in any one particular campaign but the decisive victory after which there remained no power in the land to resist and oppose Islam, and it became evident that Islam alone would hold sway in Arabia Some commentators have taken this to imply the Conquest of Makkah. But the conquest of Makkah took place iu A.H. 8, and this Surah was revealed towards the end of A.H.10, as is shown by the traditions related on the authority of Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Umar and Hadrat Sarra’ bint Nabhan, which we have cited in the Introduction. Besides, the statement of Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Abbas that this is the last Surah of the Qur’an to be revealed, also goes against this commentary. For if the victory implied the conquest of Makkah, the whole of Surah at-Taubah was revealed after it then it could not be the last Surah. There is no doubt that the conquest of Makkah was decisive in that it broke the power of the Arabian pagans, yet even after this, they showed clear signs of resistance. The battles of Ta’if and Hunain were fought after it, and it took Islam about two years to attain complete control over Arabia.

2“You see … in crowds”: “When the time for the people to enter Islam in one’s and two’s comes to an end, and when whole tribes and people belonging to large tracts start entering it in crowds, of their own free will, and without offering battle or resistance.” This happened from the beginning of A.H. 9, because of which that year has been described as the year of deputations. Deputations from every part of Arabia started coming before the Holy Messenger (upon whom be peace), entering Islam and taking the oath of allegiance to him, until when he went for the Farewell Pilgrimage to Makkah, in A.H. 10, the whole of Arabia had become Muslim, and not a single polytheist remained anywhere in the country.

3Hamd implies praising and hallowing Allah Almighty as well as thanking and paying obeisance to Him; tasbih means to regard Allah as pure and free from every blemish and weakness. The Holy Prophet was enjoined to do hamd and tasbih of Allah when he witnessed this manifestation of His power. Here, hamd means that in respect of his great success he should never entertain even a tinge of the idea that it was the result of any excellence of his own, but he should attribute it to Allah’s favor and mercy, thank Him alone for it, and acknowledge with the heart and tongue that praise and gratitude for the victory and success belonged to Him alone. And tasbih means that he should regard Allah as pure and free from the limitation that exaltation of his Word stood in need of his effort and endeavor, or was dependent on it. On the contrary, his heart should be filled with the faith that the success of his effort and struggle was dependent upon Allah’s support and succor. He could take this service from any of His servants He pleased. and it was His favor that He had taken it from him, and made His religion meet success through him. Besides, there is an aspect of wonder also in pronouncing the tasbih, i.e. Subhan Allah. When a wonderful incident takes place, one exclaims subhan-Allah, thereby implying that only by Allah’s power such a wonderful thing had happened; otherwise no power of the world could have caused it to happen.

4“Pray for His forgiveness”: “Pray to your Lord to overlook; and pardon whatever error or weakness you might have shown inadvertently in the performance of the service that He had entrusted to you,” This is the etiquette that Islam has taught to man. A man might have performed the highest possible service to Allah’s Religion, might have offered countless sacrifices in its cause, and might have exerted himself extremely hard in carrying out the rites of His worship, yet he should never entertain the thought that he has fulfilled the right his Lord had on him wholly. Rather he should always think that he has not been able to fulfill what was required of him, and he should implore Allah, saying: “Lord, overlook and forgive whatever weakness I might have shown in rendering Your right, and accept the little service that I have been able to perform.” When such an etiquette was taught to the Holy Messenger (upon whom be peace), none in the world conceivably has toiled and struggled so hard in the cause of Allah as he did, how can another person regard his work as superb and be involved in the misunderstanding that he has fulfilled the right Allah had imposed on him? Allah’s right, in fact, is so supreme that no creature can ever fulfill and render it truly and fully.

Allah in this command has taught Muslims an eternal lesson: “Do not regard any of your worship, devotion or religious service as something superb; even if you have expended your entire life in the cause of Allah, you should always think that you could not do all that was required of you by your Lord. Likewise, when you attain some victory, you should not regard it as a result of some excellence in yourselves but as a result of only Allah’s bounty and favor. Then bowing humbly before your Lord, you should praise and glorify Him, and should repent and beg for His forgiveness instead of boasting and bragging of your success and victory.”

 

109. Surah Al Kafirun (The Disbelievers)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an

 

109. Surah Al Kafirun (The Disbelievers)

Name

The Surah takes its name from the word al-kafirun occurring in the first verse.

Period of Revelation

Hadrat Abdullah bin Mas’ud, Hadrat Hasan Basri and Ikrimah, say that this Surah, is Makki, while Hadrat Abdullah bin Zubair says that it is Madani. Two different views have been reported from Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas and Qatadah, first that it is Makki, and second that it is Madani. However, according to the majority of commentators, it is a Makki Surah, and the subject matter itself points to its being a Makki revelation.

Historical Background

There was a time in Makkah when although a storm of opposition had arisen in the pagan society of Quraish against the message of Islam preached by the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace), yet the Quraish chiefs hall not yet lost hope that they would reach some sort of a compromise with him. Therefore, from time to time they would visit him with different proposals of compromise so that he accepted one of them and the dispute between them was brought to an end. In this connection, different traditions have been related in the Hadith.

According to Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas, the Quraish proposed to the Holy Prophet; “We shall give you so much of wealth that you will become the richest man of Makkah. We shall give you whichever woman you like in marriage. We are prepared to follow and obey you as our leader, only on the condition that you will not speak ill of our gods. If you do not agree to this, we present another proposal which is to your as well as to our advantage.”

When the Holy Prophet asked what it was, they said that if he would worship their gods, Lat and Uzza, for a year, they would worship his God for the same space of time. The Holy Prophet said: “Wait awhile; let me see what my Lord commands in this regard.”

Thereupon the revelation came down: Qul ya-ayyuhal- kafirun… and: Qul afa-ghair Allahi… (Az-Zumar: 64): “Say to them: ignorant people, do you bid me to worship others than Allah?” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Tabarani). According to another tradition from Ibn Abbas, the Quraish said to the Holy Prophet: “O Muhammad, if you kiss our gods, the idols, we shall worship your God.Thereupon, this Surah was sent down. (Abd bin Humaid).

Said bin Mina (the freed slave of Abul Bakhtari) has related that Walid bin Mughirah, As bin Wail, Aswad bin al-Muttalib and Umayyah bin Khalaf met the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) and said to him: “O Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings), let us agree that we would worship your God and you would worship our gods, and we would make you a partner in all our works. If what you have brought was better than what we possess, we would be partners in it with you, and have our share in it, and if what we possess is better than what you have brought, you would be partner in it with us and have your share of it.”At this Allah sent down: Qul ya-ayyuhal-kafirun (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Hisham also has related this incident in the Sirah).

Wahb bin Munabbih has related that the people of Quraish said to Allah’s’ Messenger: “If you like we would enter your faith for a year and you would enter our faith for a year.”(Abd bin Humaid, Ibn Abi Hatim).

These traditions show that the Quraish had proposed such things to the Holy Prophet not once, in one sitting, but at different times and on different occasions; and there was need that they should be given a definite, decisive reply so that their hope that he would come to terms with them on the principle of “give and take” was frustrated for ever.

Theme and Subject Matter

If the Surah is read with this background in mind, one finds that it was not revealed to preach religious tolerance as some people of today seem to think, but it was revealed in order to exonerate the Muslims from the disbelievers religion, their rites of worship, and their gods, and to express their total disgust and unconcern with them and to tell them that Islam and kufr (unbelief) had nothing in common and there was no possibility of their being combined and mixed into one entity. Although it was addressed in the beginning to the disbelieving Quraish in response to their proposals of compromise, yet it is not confined to them only, but having made it a part of the Quran, Allah gave the Muslims the eternal teaching that they should exonerate themselves by word and deed from the creed of kufr wherever and in whatever form it be, and should declare without any reservation that they cannot make any compromise with the disbelievers in the matter of Faith. That is why this Surah continued to be recited when the people to whom it was addressed as a rejoinder, had died and been forgotten, and those Muslims also continued to recite it who were disbelievers at the time it was revealed, and the Muslims still recite it centuries after they have passed away, for expression of disgust with and dissociation from kufr and its rites is a perpetual demand of Faith.

As for the esteem in which the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) held this Surah, it can be judged from the following few ahadith:

Hadrat Abdullah bin Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) has related that on many an occasion he heard the Holy Prophet recite Surahs Qul Ya- ayyuhal- kafirun and Qul Huwu-Allahu ahad in the two rakahs before the Fajr obligatory Prayer and in the two rakahs after the Maghrib obligatory Prayer. Several traditions on this subject with a little variation in wording have been related by Imam Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, Ibn Marduyah from Ibn Umar.

Hadrat Khabbab says: “The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) said to me: when you lie down in bed to sleep, recite Qul ya-ayyuhal kafirun, and this was the Holy Prophet’s own practice also; when he lay down to sleep, he recited this Surah.” (Bazzar, Tabarani, Ibn Marduyah).

According to Ibn Abbas, the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) said to the people: “Should I tell you the word which will protect you from polytheism? It is that you should recite Qul ya-ayyuhal kafirun when you go to bed.”(Abu Ya’la, Tabarani).

Hadrat Anas says that the Holy Prophet said to Hadrat Mu’adh bin Jabal; “Recite Qul ya-ayyuhal-kafirun at the time you go to bed, for this is immunity from polytheism.” (Baihaqi in Ash-Shu’ab).

Both Fardah bin Naufal and Abdur Rahman bin Naufal have stated that their father, Naufal bin Muawiyah al-Ashjai, said to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace): “Teach me something which I may recite at the time I go to bed.” The Holy Prophet replied: “Recite Qul ya-ayyuhal kafirun to the end and then sleep, for this is immunity from polytheism.” (Musnad Ahmad, Aba Da’ud, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ibn Abi Shaibah, Hakim, Ibn Marduyah, Baihaqi in Ash-Shuab). A similar request was made by Hadrat Jabalah bin Harithah, brother of Hadrat Said bin Harithah, to the Holy Prophet and to him also he gave the same reply. (Musnad Ahmad, Tabarani).

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In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

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[1-6] Say: “O disbelievers!1 I do not worship those whom you worship.2 Nor are you worshipers of Him Whom I worship.3 Nor am I a worshiper of those whom you have worshiped. Nor are you worshipers of Him Whom I worship.4 For you is your religion and for me is mine.”5

1A few points in this verse are particularly noteworthy:

(1)Although the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) has been commanded to tell this to the disbelievers plainly, the theme that follows makes it explicit that every believer should tell the disbelievers plainly what has been said in the following verses; so much so that the person who has just believed and repented of kufr is also bound to express similarly his disgust with and disapproval of the creed and rites of worship and gods of kufr. Thus, though the first addressee of the word qul (say) is the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) himself, the command is not restricted to him alone but it reaches every believer through him.

(2)The word “kafir’ is no abuse, which might have been used for the addressees of this verse, but it implies the one who refuses to believe, or is an unbeliever. As against it the word “mu min” is used for the believer. Therefore, the Holy Prophet’s saying, by Allah’s command, “O disbelievers, … ‘, in fact, means: “O you, who have refused to believe in my apostleship and in the teachings brought by me.” Likewise. when a believer uses this word, it will imply those who do not believe in the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings),

(3) The word used is “O kafirs” and not “O mushriks”; therefore, the addressees are not only the mushriks but all those people who do not acknowledge Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) as Allah’s Messenger and the teachings and guidance brought by him as the teaching and guidance given by Allah Himself, whether they be Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians or the disbelievers, polytheists and pagans of the entire world. There is no reason why this address be restricted to the pagans of Quraish or of Arabia only.

(4) To address the deniers with the word “O kafirs” is just like addressing certain people as “O enemies”, or “O opponents”. Such an address is not, in fact, directed to the person of the addressee but it is made on the basis of their characteristic of enmity and opposition, and lasts only until they are so characterized. If one of them gives up enmity and opposition, or turns a friend and supporter, he no longer remains the addressee of this word. Likewise, the address of “O kafirs” to the people also is in view of their characteristic of kufr and not their person. This address would be perpetual for him who continues to be a kafir till death, but the one who believes will no longer be its addressee.

(5) Many scholars from among the commentators have expressed the opinion that in this Surah the address of “O disbelievers” applied only to a few persons of Quraish, who were visiting the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) with proposals of compromise regarding religion and about whom Allah had informed His Messenger than they would not believe. They have formed this opinion for two reasons. First, that it is followed by La a `budu ma to `budun: “I do not worship him or those whom you worship” . They say that this does not apply to the Jews and Christians, for they worship Allah. Second, that this is also followed by: wa la antum `abiduna ma a`bud “Nor are you worshipers of Him Whom I worship”. Their reasoning is that this statement does not apply to the people who at the revelation of this Surah were disbelievers but later believed. Both these arguments are incorrect. As for these verses, their explanation that follows will show that they do not bear the meaning which has been understood from them. Here, to point out the error of the reasoning it would be enough to say that if the addressees of this Surah were only these people, why then does this Surah still continue to be recited when they are dead and gone from the world long long ago? And what was the need of making this Surah a part of the Qur’an permanently so that the Muslims should continue to read it for ever afterwards?

2This includes all those deities whom the disbelievers and the polytheists have been, and are still, worshiping everywhere in the world, whether they are the angels, the jinn, prophets, saints, spirits of the living or dead men, or the sun, the moon, stars, animals, trees, rivers, idols and imaginary gods and goddesses. One may say that the pagans of Arabia acknowledged Allah also as a Deity and the other pagans of the world also have never disacknowledged Allah as a Deity till today. As for the followers of the earlier scriptures, they also acknowledge Allah alone as the real Deity. How then can it be correct to exonerate oneself froth the worship of all the deities of all those people, without’ exception, when Allah too is included among them?

The answer is that if Allah is worshiped along with others regarding Him as a Deity among other deities, the believer in Tauhid will inevitably express his immunity from this worship, for in his sight Allah is oat a Deity out of a collection of deities, but He alone is the real Deity, and the worship of the collection of deities is no worship of Allah, although worship of Allah also is included in it. The Qur’an has clearly stated that Allah’s worship is only that which does not have any tinge of the worship of another and in which man makes his worship exclusively Allah’s. “And the only Command they were given, was to worship Allah, making their religion sincerely His, turning all their attention towards Him.” (Al-Bayyinah: 5).

This subject has been explained at many places in the Qur’an forcefully; for example, see Au-Nisa’: 145-146, AI-A`raf :29, AzZumar: 2, 3, 11, 14, 15, A1-Mu’min: 14, 64-66. It has been further explained in a Hadith Qudsi (i.e. Divine Word revealed through the mouth of the Prophet) in which the messenger of Allah says: “Allah says: I am Self-Sufficient of the association of every associate most of all. Whoever performed an act in which he associated another also with Me, 1 am free of it, and the entire act is for him who was associated.” (Muslim, Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Majah). Thus, acknowledging Allah as one of the two, three or many gods and serving and worshiping others along with Him is, in fact, the real kufr, declaration of immunity from which is the object of this Surah.

3The words used are: ma a’budu. The word ma in Arabic, is generally used for lifeless or unintelligent things, and the word man for intelligent and rational beings. The question arises why has ma a `budu been used here instead of man a `budu? The commentators generally give four answers to it:

(1) that ma here is in the meaning of man;

(2) that ma here is in the meaning of alladhi (i.e. which or who);

(3) that in both the sentences ma is in the meaning of a noun of action (masdar) and it means: “I do not perform the kind of worship that you perform, i. e. polytheistic worship, and you do not perform the kind of worship that I perform, i.e. worship of One God;”

(4) that since in the first sentence ma ta’buduna has been used, in the second ma a `budu has been used to keep the style; in both places there is only the uniformity of the word, there is no uniformity of meaning; instances of this are found elsewhere also in the Qur’an. For example, in AI-Baqarah: 194, it has been said: “Therefore, if anyone transgresses a prohibition by attacking you, you may do likewise.” Obviously, to transgress likewise in retaliation is no transgression, but the word transgression (in retaliation) Gas been used only for the sake of uniformity in style. In Surah At-Taubah: 67, it has been said: “They forgot Allah, so Allah forgot them”, whereas Allah does not forget. what meant to be said is that Allah ignored them. The word nisyan in respect of Allah has been used corresponding to their nisyaa (forgetfulness) only to keep the uniformity of the study.

Although all these four interpretations are correct in their own way, and there is room in Arabic to take all these meanings, yet none of these explains the real object for which ma a’budu has been used instead of man a `budu. As a matter of fact, when man is used for a person in Arabic, it is meant to say or ask something about his person, and when ma is used, it is meant to ask or express something about his characteristics and traits. This can be explained in English by the questions: who is he? and what is he? about a person. When it is asked, who is he? the object is to know something about his person. But when it is asked, what is he? the object is to know whether, for example, he belongs to the army, and if so, what is his rank, or whether he belongs to some teaching organization, and if so, whether he is a lecturer in it, or a reader, or a professor, what science or art subject he teaches, what are his qualifications, etc.

Thus, if in this verse, it was said: La antum abiduna man a `bud, it would mean: “You are not worshipers of the being whom I worship, and in response, the disbelievers and the polytheists could have said that they too believed in the Being of Allah and also worshiped Him. But when it was said: La antum ‘abiduna ma a`bud, it meant: “You are not worshipers of the Deity who has the attributes of the Deity whom I worship.”

And this is the real point on the basis of which the religion of the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) is absolutely distinguish-ed from the religions of all kinds of disbelievers, besides the deniers of God, for his God is utterly different from the God of all of them. The God of some of them is such that He stood in need of rest on the seventh day after having created the world in six days, Who is not God of the universe but God of Israel, Who stands in a special relationship to the people of one particular race, which is not shared by other men, Who wrestles with the Prophet Jacob and cannot throw him, Who has also a son, named Ezra. The God of some others is father of an only son, called Jesus Christ, and He causes His son to be crucified in order to make him an atonement for the sins of others. The God of some has wife and children, but begets only daughters. The God of some assumes human form and shape and living in a human body on the earth works like men. The God of some is merely an Essence, or Cause of causes, or the First Cause, Who after giving the system of the universe the initial push is sitting aside unconcerned, the universe is working by itself according to some relentless laws, and now He and man have nothing to do with each other. In short, even the unbelievers who acknowledge God do not, in fact, acknowledge the God, Who is the Creator, . Master, Disposer, Administrator and Ruler of the entire universe, Who has not only set the system of the universe but is running and controlling it by Himself every moment, Who is above every defect, fault, weakness and error, Who is free from every similitude, every physical limitation, every likeness, Who is Self-Sufficient of every companion and associate, Who has no partner in His Being, attributes, powers and entitlement to worship, Who is far too Holy that He should have children, or should take some one for a son, or should have an exclusive relationship with a community or race, Who is directly related to each individual creature of His as His Providence, Sustainer and Guardian, Who hears the prayers and answers them, Who alone possesses all the powers to give life and death, to cause profit and loss, and to make and mar destinies, Who not only sustains His creatures but also guides each according to its nature and need, Who is not only our God Whom we worship but also enjoins commands and prohibitions through His Prophets and His Books, which we have to obey, before Whom we are accountable for our deeds, Who will resurrect us after death, call us to account and reward and punish us accordingly. No one in the world except for Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) and his followers, is worshiping the God with these attributes. If at all some others also are worshiping God, they are not worshiping the real and true God but the God who is their self-invented, imaginary God.

4A section of the commentators is of the view that both these sentences are a repetition of the theme of the first two sentences and the repetition is meant to strengthen the statement in the first two sentences. But many commentators do not regard it as a repetition. They say that a new theme has been expressed in these which is different from the theme of the first two sentences. In our opinion they arc correct in so far as there is no repetition in these sentences, for in these only “nor are you worshipers of Him Whom I worship” Gas been repeated, and this repetition also is not in the sense in which this sentence was used first. But after negating the repetition the meanings that this section of the commentators has given of these two sentences are very different from each other. There is no occasion here to take up and discuss each of the meanings given by the commentators. Avoiding details we shall only discuss the meaning which is correct in our opinion.

In the first sentence, it has been said: “Nor am I a worshiper of those whom you have worshiped.” Its theme is absolutely different from the theme of verse 2, in which it was said: “I do not worship those whom you warship,” These two things widely differ in two aspects. First, that although there is denial, and a forceful denial, in saying that “I do not, or shall not, do such and such a thing”, yet there is much greater force in saying that “1 am not a doer of such and such a thing”, for it means: “It is such an evil thing that nothing to say of committing it; it is not possible that I would even think of it, or have intention of doing it.” Second, that the sentence “whom you worship” applies to only those gods whom the disbelievers are worshiping now. On the contrary, the sentence “whom you have worshiped” applies to all those gods whom the disbelievers and their forefathers have been worshiping in the past. Now, it is a well known fact that the gods of the polytheists and disbelievers have always been changing and their number increasing and decreasing. In different ages different groups of them have been worshiping different gods and the gods of all the disbelievers have never always been the same everywhere. Therefore, the verse means: “I exonerate myself not only from your gods of today but also from the gods of your forefathers, and I am not a person who would even think of worshiping such gods.”

As for the second sentence, although its words in verse 5 are the same as in verse 3, yet its meaning at the two places is different. In verse 3, it follows this sentence: “I do not worship those whom you worship.” Therefore, it means: “Nor are you worshipers of the God having the attributes of the One God Whom I worship.” And in verse 5, it follows this sentence: “Nor am I a worshiper of those whom you have worshiped.” Therefore, it means: “Nor does it seem you would become worshipers of the One God Whom I worship.” Or, in other words, “It is not possible that I should become a worshiper of each of those gods whom you and your forefathers have worshiped, and on account of your aversion to adopting worship of One God, instead of many gads, it cannot be expected that you would desist from this wrong worship and will become worshiper of Him Whom I worship.”

5That is, “My religion is entirely distinct and separate from your religion. I am not a worshiper of your gods and you are not worshipers of my God. I cannot worship your gods and you are not prepared to worship my God, Therefore, you and I can never follow and walk one and the same path together.” This is not a message of tolerance to the disbelievers, but a declaration of immunity, disgust with and dissociation from them as long as they are disbelievers. Its object is to disappoint them absolutely and finally that in the matter of religion the party of Allah’s Messenger and his followers would ever come to terms with them. This same declaration of immunity and expression of disgust has been made in the Makki Surahs revealed after this Surah successively.

Thus, in Surah Yunus, it was said: “If these people deny you, say to them: 1 am responsible for my deeds and you are responsible for yours: you are not accountable for what I do, and I am not accountable for what you do.” (v. 41). Then further on in the same Surah it was said: “O Prophet, say: O mankind, if you are still in doubt concerning my Faith, know that I do not worship those whom you worship beside Allah, but I worship that Allah alone, Who has the power to cause your death.” (v. 104).

In Surah Ash-Shu’ara it was said: “If they disobey you, tell them: I am not responsible for what you do.” (v. 216).

In Surah Saba it was said: “Say to them: you will not be questioned for the errors we have committed, nor shall we be answerable for what you are doing. Say, our Lord will gather us together, then He will judge between us rightly.” (w. 25-26).

In Surah az-Zumar: “Tell them plainly: O my people, do whatever you will, so shall I. Soon you shall come to know as to whom comes the disgraceful torment and who gets the enduring punishment.” (w. 39-40).

Then the same lesson was taught in Madinah to all the Muslims: “There is indeed an excellent example for you in Abraham and his companions when they said to their people plainly: `We have nothing to do with you and your gods, whom you worship beside God: we have renounced you and there has arisen between us and you enmity and hatred for ever, until you believe in Allah, the One.” (Al-Mumtahinah: 4).

These continuous explanations of the Qur’an do not leave any room whatever for the doubt that the verse Lakum dims kum wa liya din dces not mean: “You may go on following your religion and allow me to follow mine”, but it is the kind of declaration made in Surah Az-Zumar: 14: “O Prophet, say to them: I shall serve Allah alone, making my religion sincerely His. As for you, you may serve whomever you please beside Him.” (v. 14).

From this verse lmam Abu Hanifah and Imam Shafe`i have deduced that kufr (unbelief ), as a whole, is one community, however discordant and different from each other be the religions of the unbelievers; therefore, a Jew can inherit a Christian, and a Christian a Jew, and likewise the unbeliever of one religion can inherit the un-believer of another religion, if there exists between them a relationship by descent or marriage, or some other connection, which necessitates the passage of inheritance of one to another. On the contrary, Imam Malik, Imam Auza`i and Imam Ahmad hold the view that the followers of one religion cannot inherit the followers of another religion. They deduce this from the Hadith which has been related on the authority of Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-As, saying that Allah’s Messenger (upon whom be peace) said: “The people of two different communities cannot inherit each other.” (Musnad Ahmad, Abu Da’ud, Ibn Majah, Daraqutni).

A Hadith with almost the same content has been related by Tirmidhi from Hadrat Jabir, by Ibn Hibban from Hadrat `Ahdullah bin `Umar, and by Bazzar from Hadrat Abu Hurairah. Dealing with this legal problem comprehensively, the well known Hanafi Imam; Shamsul-A’immah Sarakhsi, writes: “The unbelievers can inherit each other mutually for all those reasons for which the Muslims inherit each other mutually, and they can also inherit each other in certain other cases in which the Muslims do not inherit each other … The fact is that Allah recognizes only two ways of life, the religion of Truth and the religion of falsehood; that is why He has declared: Lakum dine-kum wa liya din. And He has classified the people also into two groups, one group will go to Paradise and this consists of the believers, and the second group will go to Hell and this consists of the disbelievers collectively. And He has declared the two groups only as the potential opponents of each other: “These are the two parties who have disputed about their Lord.” (AI-Hajj: 19).

That is, one group comprises all the disbelievers collectively and they are opposed to the believers … We do not admit that they are separate and distinct communities according to their beliefs, but as against the Muslims they all form one community. For the Muslims affirm faith in the prephethood of Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) and in the Qur’an and they refuse to affirm faith. For this very reason they have been declared to be unbelievers and are one community as opposed to the Muslims … The Hadith, La yata-warith ahl millatain, points to the same thing as explained above. For the Holy Prophet has explained the word millatain (two communities) by his saying: La yarithul Muslim al-kafir wa lal-kafir al-Maslim: “The Muslim cannot inherit the disbeliever, nor the disbeliever can inherit the Muslim.” (AIMabsut vol. 30, pp. 30-32). The Hadith cited here by Imam Sarakhsi has been related by Bukhari, Muslim, Nasa’i, Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Abu Da’ud on the authority of Hadrat Usamah bin Zaid.

108. Surah Al Kauthar (The Abundance)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an

 

108. Surah Al Kauthar (The Abundance)

Name

The Surah has been so designated after the word al-kauthar occurring in the first verse.

Period of Revelation

Ibn Marduyah has cited Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas, Hadrat Abdullah bin az-Zubair and Hadrat Aishah as saying that this Surah is Makki. Kalbi and Muqatil also regard it as Makki, and the same is the view held by the majority of commentators. But Hadrat Hasan Basri, Ikrimah, Mujahid and Qatadah regard it as Madani. Imam Suyuti in Al-Itqan has confirmed this same view, and Imam Nawawi in his commentary of the Sahih of Muslim has also preferred the same. The reason for this assumption is the tradition which traditionists of the rank of Imam Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Daud, Nasai, Ibn Abi Shaibah, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Marduyah, Baihaqi and others have related from Hadrat Anas bin Malik, saying: “The Holy Prophet was among us. In the meantime he dozed; then he raised his head, smiling, according to some traditions, the people asked what for he was smiling, according to others, he himself told them that a Surah had just been revealed to him. Then, with Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim, he recited Surah Al-Kauthar; then he asked the people whether they knew what Kauthar was. When they said that Allah and his Messenger had the best knowledge, he said; It is a river which my Lord has granted me in Paradise.” (The details follow under “Kauthar“). The basis of the reasoning from this tradition for this Surah’s being Madani is that Hadrat Anas belonged to Madinah, and his saying that this Surah was revealed in his presence is a proof that it was Madani.

But, in the first place, from this same Hadrat Anas, Imam Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi and Ibn Jarir have related the traditions which say that this river of Paradise (Al-Kauthar) had been shown to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) on the occasion of the mi`raj (ascension) and everyone knows that mi`raj had taken place at Makkah before the hijrah. Secondly, when during the mi`raj the Holy Prophet had not only been informed of this gift of Allah Almighty but also shown it, there was no reason why Surah Al-Kauthar should have be revealed at Madinah to give him the good news of it. Thirdly, if in an assembly of the Companions the Holy Prophet himself had given the news of the revelation of Surah Al-Kauthar which Hadrat Anas has mentioned in his tradition, and it meant that that Surah had been revealed for the first time then, it was not possible that well-informed Companions like Hadrat Aishah, Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas and Hadrat Abdullah bin Zubair should have declared this Surah to be a Makki revelation and most of the commentators also should have regarded it as Makki. If the matter is considered carefully, there appears to be a flaw in the tradition from Hadrat Anas in that it does not say what was the subject under discussion in the assembly in which the Holy Prophet gave the news about Surah Al-Kauthar. It is possible that at that time the Holy Prophet was explaining something. In the meantime he was informed by revelation that that point was further explained by Surah Al-Kauthar, and he mentioned the same thing, saying that that Surah was revealed to him just then. Such incidents did take place on several occasions, on the basis of which the commentators have opined about certain verses that they were revealed twice. This second revelation, in fact, meant that the verse had been revealed earlier, but on some later occasion the Holy Prophet’s attention was invited to it by revelation for the second time. In such traditions, the mention of the revelation of a certain verse is not enough to decide whether it was revealed at Makkah or Madinah, and when precisely it was revealed.

Had this tradition of Hadrat Anas not been there to cause doubt, the whole content of the Surah Al-Kauthar by itself bears evidence that it was revealed at Makkah, and in the period when the Holy Prophet was passing through extremely discouraging conditions.

Historical Background

Before this in Surahs Ad-Duha and Alam Nashrah we have seen that when in the earliest phase of Prophethood the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was passing through the most trying conditions when the whole nation had turned hostile, there was resistance and opposition on every side, and the Holy Prophet and a handful of his Companions did not see any remote chance of success. Allah in order to console and encourage him at that time had sent down several verses. In Surah Ad- Duha it was said: “And surely the later period (i.e. every later period) is better for you than the former period, and soon your Lord shall give you so much that you shall be well pleased”. In Surah Alam Nashrah: “And We exalted your renown for you.”That is, “Though the enemies are trying to defame you throughout the country, We, on the contrary, have arranged to exalt your name and fame.”And: “The fact is that along with every hardship there is also ease.”That is, “You should not be disheartened by the severity of conditions at this time; this period of hardships will soon pass, and the period of success and victory will follow.”

Such were the conditions in which Allah by sending down Surah Al-Kauthar consoled the Holy Prophet as well as foretold the destruction of his opponents. The disbelieving Quraish said: “Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace) is cut off from his community and reduced to a powerless and helpless individual. According to Ikrimah when the Holy Prophet was appointed a Prophet, and he began to call the people to Islam, the Quraish said: “Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) is cut off from his people as a tree is cut off from its root, which might fall to the ground any moment.” (Ibn Jarir). Muhammad bin Ishaq says: “Whenever the Prophet (upon whom be peace) was mentioned before As bin Wa’il as-Sehmi, the chief of Makkah, he used to say: Let him alone for he is only a childless man (abtar) with no male offspring. When he dies, there will be no one to remember him.” Shamir bin Atiyyah says that Uqbah bin Abi Mu’ait, also used to say similar things about the Holy Prophet, (Ibn Jarir). According to Ibn Abbas, once Ka’b bin Ashraf (the Jewish chief of Madinah) came to Makkah and the Quraish chiefs said to him: “Just see this boy, who is cut off from his people; he thinks he is superior to us, whereas we manage the Hajj, look after the Ka’bah and water the pilgrims.” (Bazzar). Concerning this very incident Ikrimah reports that the Quraish had used the words as-sunbur al-munbatir min qaumi-hi (a weak, helpless and childless man who is cut off from his people) for the Holy Prophet. (Ibn Jarir) Ibn Sa’d and lbn Asakir have related that Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas said; “The eldest son of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was Qasim; next to him was Zainab, next to her Hadrat Abdullah and next to him three daughters, viz. Umm Kulthum, Fatimah and Ruqayyah. Of them first Hadrat Qasim died and then Hadrat Abdullah. Thereupon As bin Wail said: “His line has come to an end: now he is abtar (i. e. cut of from root).”Some traditions add that As said “Muhammad is abtar: he has no son to succeed him. When he dies, his memory will perish and you will be rid of him.”The tradition from Ibn Abbas, which Abd bin Humaid has related, shows that Abu Jahl also had said similar words on the death of the Holy Prophet’s son, Abdullah. Ibn Abi Hatim has related on the authority of Shmir bin Atiyyah that the same kind of meanness was shown by Uqbah bin Abi Mu’ait by rejoicing at this bereavement of the Holy Prophet. Ata says that when the second son of the Holy Prophet died, his own uncle, Abu Lahab (whose house was next to his) hastened to the pagans and gave them the “good news”: Batira Muhammadun al-lail:”Muhammad has become childless this night, or he is cut off from root.”

Such were the disturbing conditions under which Surah Al-Kauthar was sent down. The Quraish were angry with him because he worshiped and served only Allah and repudiated their idolatry publicly. For this very reason he was deprived of the rank, esteem and honor that he enjoyed among his people before Prophethood and was now as cut off from his community. The handful of his Companions also were helpless, poor people who were being persecuted and tyrannized. Furthermore, he was bereaved by the death of two sons, one after the other, whereat the near relatives and the people of his clan, brotherhood and neighborhood were rejoicing and uttering such words as were disheartening and disturbing for a noble person who had treated even his enemies most kindly. At this Allah just in one sentence of this brief Surah gave him the good news, better news than which has never been given to any man in the world, besides the decision that it will be his opponents who will be cut off from their root and not he.

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In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

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[1-3] (O Prophet,) We have granted you the Kauthar1 (Abundance). So pray only for your Lord and sacrifice.2 Indeed, your enemy3 alone is cut off from the root.4

1The full meaning of the word kauthar, as used here, cannot perhaps be expressed in one word in any language of the world. This is an intensive form of the noun kathrat which literally means abundance, but the context in which it has been used does not give the meaning of mere abundance but abundance of good, of spiritual benefits and blessings, and of such abundance which is unbounded and limitless, and it does not imply any one good or benefit or blessing but abundance of countless benefits and blessings.

Have a look again at the background of this Surah given in the Introduction. The enemies thought that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) had been completely ruined: he was cut off from the community and had become utterly helpless and powerless; his trade was ruined; his male children who could perpetuate his name were dead; the message that he presented was such that except for a handful of the people no one in entire Arabia, not to speak of Makkah, was prepared to listen to it therefore, failure and disappointment would be his lot as long as he lived and there would be no one in posterity to remember him when he died. Under such conditions when Allah said: “We have granted you the Kauthar,” it by itself gave the meaning: Your foolish opponents think that you are ruined and deprived of the good things that you enjoyed before Prophethood, but the fact is that We have favored you with unbounded good and countless blessings.” This included the matchless moral qualities which the Holy Prophet was blessed with; this included the great blessings of Prophethood and the Qur’an, the knowledge and wisdom that were granted to him; this included the blessing of Tauhid and also of such a system of life, whose simple and intelligible, rational and natural, and comprehensive principles had the potential to spread throughout the world and of continuing to spread for ever afterwards. This also included the blessing of the exaltation of renown because of which the holy Prophet’s blessed name continues to be exalted throughout the world since 1400 years and will continue to be so exalted till Resurrection.

This also included the blessing that by his preaching eventually such a world-wide community came into being, which became the standard-bearer of Truth in the world for ever, which can claim to have produced the greatest number of the pious, virtuous and noble charactered men in any one nation, and which even when corrupted and deprived has the highest good in it as against every other nation of the world. This also included the blessing that the Holy Prophet during his very lifetime witnessed his invitation and message attaining to the highest success and the preparation of a community which had the power to dominate the world. This also included the blessing that although on his being deprived of the male offspring the enemies thought he would be lost to posterity, yet Allah not only blessed him with the spiritual offspring in the form of Muslims, who will continue to exalt his name in the world till Resurrection but also granted him from his one daughter, Hadrat Fatimah, the natural progeny, who have spread throughout world and whose only mark of distinction and pride is that they trace their descent from him.

These are the blessings which the people have seen and witnessed as to how abundantly Allah has blessed His Holy prophet within the world. In addition, Kauthar also implies two other great blessings which Allah will bestow on him in the Hereafter. We had no means of knowing these; therefore the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) himself gave us news of them, and told us that Kauthar also implied them. First, the Fountain of Kauthar, which he will be granted on the Resurrection Day in the Plain of Assembly; second, the River Kauthar, which he will be granted in Paradise. About both such a large number of the Ahadith have been reported from him through such a large number of the reporters that there remains no doubt about their authenticity.

What the Holy Prophet said about the fountain of Kauthar is as follows:

(1) This Fountain will be granted to him on the Resurrection Day when there will be the cry of al-atash, al-atash (thirst, thirst!) on every side. The Holy Prophet’s community will gather together before him at it and will be watered thereby. He himself will be the first to arrive at it and will be occupying the central position.

He has said: “This is a Fountain at which my Ummah will assemble on the Resurrection Day.” (Muslim: Kitab as- Salat Abu Da’ud: Kitab as-Sunnah).

“I shall have arrived at the Fountain before you. ” (Bukhari: Kitab ar-Riqaq and Kitab al-Fitan; Muslim: Kitab al-Fida and Kitab at-Taharah; lbn Majah,: Kitab al Manasik and Kitab az-Zuhd. Musnad Ahmad: Marwiyyat `Abdullah bin Mas’ud `Abdullah bin `Abbas, Abu Hurairah.)

“I shall be there before you and shall bear witness on you, and by God, I am seeing my Fountain even at this time.” (Bukhari: Kitab al-jana-iz Kitab al-Maghazi, Kitab ar-Riqaq).

Addressing an assembly of the Ansar, the Holy Prophet once said: “After me you will meet with selfishness and nepotism, endure it patiently until you meet me at the Fountain. ” (Bukhari: kitab Manaqib al-Ansar and Kitab al-Maghazi; Muslim: Kitab al-Iman; Tirmidhi:Kitab al-Fitan).

“I shall be near the middle of the Fountain on the Resurrection Day.” Muslim: Kitab al-Fada’il).

Hadrat Abu Barzah Aslami was asked: “Have you heard something about the Fountain from the Holy Prophet? He replied: Not once, or twice, or thrice, or four or five times, but over and over again. May Allah deprive of its water the one who be lies it.” (Abu Da’ud: Kitab as-Sunnah).

Ubaidullah bin Ziyad thought that the traditions about the Fountain were false; so much so that he belied all the traditions reported by Hadrat Abu Barzah Aslami, Bara’ bin ‘Azib and `A’idh bin ‘Amr. At last, Abu Sabrah brought out a writing which he had written down after hearing it from Hadrat `Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-`As, and it contained this saying of the Holy Prophet: “Beware! your place of meeting me will be my Fountain.” (Musnad Ahmad: Marwiyyat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘As).

(2) Different dimensions of the Fountain have been given in different traditions, but according to a large number of the traditions it will extend from Aylah (the present Israeli seaport of Ilat) to Sana’a of Yemen, or from Aylah to Adan, or from ‘Amman to `Adan in length, and from Aylah to Juhfah (a place between Jeddah and Rabigh) in breadth. (Bukhari: Kitab ar-Riqaq; Abu Da’ud at Tayalisi: Hadith No. 995; Musnad Ahmad: Marwiyyat Abu Bakr Siddiq and `Abdullah bin `Umar; Muslim: Kasab al-Taharah and Kitab al-Fads il; Tirmidhi Abwab Sifat al-Qiyamah; Ibn Majah: Kitab az-Zuhd). From this it appears that on the Resurrection Day the present Red Sea itself will be turned into the Fountain of Kauthar. And the correct knowledge is only with Allah!

(3) About this Fountain the Holy Prophet has told us that water will be supplied to it from the River Kauthar of Paradise (which is being mentioned below). “Two channels from Paradise will flow into it and supply water to it.” (Muslim: Kitab al-Fada il). According to another tradition: “A canal from the River Kauthar of Paradise will be opened towards this Fountain. ” (Musnad Ahmad Marwiyyat `Abdullah bin Mas`ud).

(4) According to the description of it given by the Holy Prophet its water will be whiter than milk (according to other traditions whiter than silver, and according to still others, whiter than snow), cooler than snow, sweeter than honey; the earth of its bed will be more fragrant than musk; the water jugs set at it will be as numerous as the stars in the sky; the one who drinks from it would never thirst; and the one who is deprived of it will never have his thirst satisfied. These things with a little variation in wording have been reported in numerous Ahadith (Bukhari: Kitab ar-Rigaq; Muslim: Kitab at-Taharah and Kitab al-Fada’il; Musnad Ahmad: Marwiyyat Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Umar, `Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-`As; Tirmidhi: Abwab Sifat al-Qiyanmah: Ibn Majah: Kitab az-Zuhd; Abu Da’ud: Tayalisi, Ahadith No. 995, 2135).

(5) Concerning it the Holy Prophet warned the people of his time again and again, saying: “after me those from among you who would effect changes in my Way, will be removed from the Fountain and will be disallowed to approach it. I shall say: they are my companions, but it will be said: “Don’t you know what they did after you? Then I too shall discard them and tell them to keep away.” This subject too has been expressed in many traditions. (Bukhari: Kitab ar-Rigaq, Kitab al-Fitan; Muslim: Kitab al-Tahara and Kitab al-Fada’it Musnad Ahmad: Marwiyyat !bn Mas`ud, Abu Hurairah; Ibn Majah: Kitab al-Manasik. The Hadith which Ibn Majah has related in this connection contains very pathetic words. The Holy Prophet said: “Beware! I shall have arrived at the Fountain before you and shall pride myself by your means upon the greater numbers of my Ummah as against other ummahas Do not at that time cause my face to be blackened. Beware: I shall have some people released, and some people shall be separated from me. I shall say: O my Lord, they are my companions. He will reply: Don’t you know what innovations they introduced after you?” According to Ibn Majah, these words were said by the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) in his Sermon at `Arafat.

(6) Likewise, the Holy Prophet has also warned the Muslims coming after him till Resurrection, saying: “Whoever from among you will swerve from my Way and effect changes in it, will be removed from the Fountain. I shall say: O Lord, they belong to me, they are the people of my Ummah. In response it will be said: “Don’t you know what changes they effected after you and then turned back on their heels?” Then I too shall turn them away and shall not allow them to approach the Fountain.” Many traditions on this subject are found in the Hadith. (Bukhari: Kitab al-Musaqat, Kitab ar-Rigaq, Kitab al-Fitan; Muslim: Kitab at-Taharah. Katab as-Salat, Kitab al-Fada il; Ibn Majah: Kitab az-Zuhd; Musnad Ahmad: Marwiyyat Ibn `Abbas).

Traditions about this Fountain have been related by more than 50 companions, and the earliest scholars generally have taken it to mean the Fountain of Kauthar. Imam Bukhari has named the last chapter of his Kitab ar-Rigaq as Babun fil hawd wa qual-Allahu inna a `tainak al-Kauthar, and in a tradition from Hadrat Anas there is the explanation that the Holy Prophet said about Kauthar: “It is a Fountain at which my Ummah shall alight. “

The River Kauthar which the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) shall be granted in Paradise, also has been mentioned in a large number of the traditions cf Hadith. Many traditions have been related on the authority of Hadrat Anas in which he says (and in some he explains that he is reporting the exact words of the Holy Prophet himself) that on the occasion of mi’raj; the Holy Prophet was taken round Paradise and shown a river on the banks of which there were vaults of pearls or precious stones carved from within; the earth of its bed was of the strong scented musk. He asked Gabriel, or the angel who took him round, what it was. He replied that it was the River Kauthar, which Allah had granted him. (Musnad Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi, Abu Da’ud Tayalisi, Ibn Jarir)

Again, according to Hadrat Anas, the Holy Prophet was asked (or a person asked him): “What is the Kauthar?’ He replied; “It is a River which Allah has granted me in Paradise. Its earth is musk: its water is whiter than milk and sweeter than honey ” (Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhi, lbn Jarir)

According to another tradition of Musnad Ahmad, describing the merits of the River Kauthar the Holy Prophet said that at its bottom there are pearls instead of pebbles. Ibn `Umar says that the Holy Prophet said: “The Kauthar is a river in Paradise the banks of which are golden; it flows on pearls and diamonds (i.e. its bed has diamonds instead of pebbles); its earth smells sweeter than musk; its water is whiter than milk (or snow), cooler than snow and sweeter than honey.” (Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ibn Abi Hatim, Darimi, Abu Da’ud Tayalisi, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Marduyah, Ibn Abi Shaibah).

Usamah bin Zaid says that the Holy Prophet once went to visit Hadrat Usamah; he was not at home; his wife entertained him and during the conversation said “My husband has told me that you have been granted a river in Paradise, which is called the Kauthar.” The Holy Prophet replied “Yes, and its bed is of rubies and corals and emeralds and pearls” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Marduyah. Though the sanad of this tradition is weak, the presence of a large number of traditions dealing with this subject strengthens it).

Besides these marfu traditions, a great many sayings of the Companions and their successors have been related in the Hadith to the effect that the Kauthar implies a river in Paradise. These traditions describe its qualities as have been mentioned above. For instance, the sayings of Hadrat ‘Abdullah bin `Umar, Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Abbas, Hadrat Anas bin Malik, Hadrat `A’ishah, Mujahid and Abul `Aliysh are found in Musnad Ahmad, Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i’; and the books of Ibn Marduyah, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Shaibah and other traditionists.

2Different commentaries of it have been reported from different scholars. Some of them take the Prayer to mean the five times obligatory Prayer (salat); some take it to imply the Prayer of `Id al-Adha, and some say that it implies the Prayer itself. Likewise, the meaning of wanhar and sacrifice according to some illustrious scholars, is to place the right hand over the left hand and to fold them on the chest in the Prayer; some say that it implies raising both hands with Allahu Akbar at the commencement of the Prayer; some say that it implies raising both hands at the commencement of the Prayer, at bowing for Ruku ` and after rising from Ruku `; and some say that it means performing the `Id al-Adha Prayer and then offering the animal sacrifice. But if the context in which this command has been enjoined, is considered, its meaning clearly seems to be: “O Prophet, when your Lord has granted you so many and so splendid blessing, then you should perform the Prayer only for His sake and offer sacrifice only for His sake.” This Command was given in the environment when not only the pagans of Quraish but the pagans of entire Arabia and the world worshiped their self-made gods and offered sacrifices at their shrines. Therefore, the intention of the Command is “Contrary to the polytheistic practice, you should remain steadfast to your creed: your Prayer is only for Allah and your sacrifice also is for Him alone, as it has been said at another place: `Declare, O Prophet, my salat and my sacrifice and my life and my death are all for Allah, Lord of the universe, Who has no partner with Him. This is what I have been enjoined, and I am the first to surrender to Him.'(Al-An`am:162-163). This same meaning has been explained of it by Ibn ‘Abbas. `Ata`, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Hasan Bari, Qatadah, Muhammad bin Ka`b al-Kurzi, Dahhak, Rabi` bin Anas, `Ata` al-Khurasani and many other major commentators (may Allah bless them all) (Ibn Jarir). However, this by itself is correct that when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) enforced by Allah’s command the practice of the `Id al-Adha Prayer and the offering of animal sacrifice at Madinah, he himself gave the first place to the Prayer (salat and the second to the sacrifice, as commanded in the verses: Inna salati wa nusuki and fa-salli li-Rabbika wanhar, and enjoined an the Muslims also to do the same, i.e. they should first perform the Prayer and then offer the sacrifice. This is neither the explanation of this verse nor the occasion of its revelation but a deduction made by the Holy Prophet from these verses and his deduction of injunctions also is a kind of Divine inspiration.

3The word shani’ as used, in the original is derived from sha ‘n, which means the hatred and spite because of which a person may start ill-treating another. At another place in the Qur’an it has been said: “(And O Muslims,) the enmity of any people should not so provoke you as to turn you away from justice.” (AI-Ma’idah: 8). Thus, shani aka implies every such person who blinded by his enmity of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) should bring false accusations against him, slander and defame him and vent his personal spite against him by taunting and scoffing at him in every possible way.

4Huwal abtar: “He himself is abtar”, i.e. though he calls you abtar he in fact himself is abtar. Some explanations of abtar have already been given in the Introduction to the Surah. It is derived from batar which means to cut off, but idiomatically it is used in a comprehensive meaning. In the Hadith, the rak ah of the Prayer which is not coupled with another rak’ah is called butaira’, i.e. the lonely rak ah. According to another Hadith “Every piece of work, which is in any way important, is abtar if it is started without the glorification and praise of Allah”, implying that it is cut off from the root, It has no stability, and it is doomed to failure. A man who fails to achieve his object is abtar as also the one who is deprived of all means and resources. A person who is left with no hope of any good and success in life is also abtar. A person who has been cut off from his family, brotherhood, associates And helpers is also abtar. The word abtar is also used for the man who has no male child, or whose male child or children have died, for after him there remains no one to remember him and he is lost to posterity . after death. In almost all these meanings the disbelieving Quraish called the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) abtar. At this, Allah said: “O Prophet, not you but your enemies are abtar.” This was not merely a “reprisal”, but a prophecy out of the most important prophecies of the Qur’an, which literally proved true. when it was made, the people regarded the Holy Prophet as abtar, and no one could imagine how the big chiefs of the Quraish would become abtar, who were famous not only in Makkah but throughout Arabia, who were successful in life, rich in worldly wealth and children, who had their associates and helpers everywhere in the country, who enjoyed intimate relations with all the Arabian tribes, being monopolists in trade and managers of Hajj. But not long afterwards the conditions altogether changed. There was a time when on the occasion of the Battle of the Trench (A.H. 5) the Quraish had invaded Madinah with the help of many Arabian and Jewish tribes, and the Holy Prophet being besieged had to resist the enemy by digging a trench around the city. After only three years, in A.H. 8, when he attacked Makkah, the Quraish had no helper and they had to surrender helplessly. After this within a year or so the whole Arabia came under his control, deputations of tribes from all over the country began to visit him to take the oaths of allegiance and his enemies were left utterly helpless and resourceless. Then they were so lost to posterity that even if their children survived, none of them today knows that he is a descendant of Abu Jahl, Abu Lahab, As bin Wail, or `Uqbah bin Abi Mu`ait, the enemies of Islam, and even if he knows it, he is not prepared to claim that his ancestors were those people. On the contrary, blessings are being invoked on the children of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) throughout the world; millions and millions of Muslims take pride in bearing relationship to him; hundreds of thousands of people regard it as a mark of honor and prestige to have descended not only from him but from his family and even the families of his Companions. Thus, some one is a Sayyid, another an ‘Alavi, and `Abbasi, a Hashmi, a Siddiqi, a Faruqi, an `Uthmani, a Zubairi, or an Ansari, but no one is an Abu Jahli or Abu Lahabi. History has proved that not the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) but his enemies were, and are, abtar. ”

 

107. Surah Al Ma’un (The Small Kindnesses)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an

 

107. Surah Al Ma’un (The Small Kindnesses)

Name

The Surah has been so designated after the word al-ma`un occurring at the end of the last verse.

Period of Revelation

Ibn Marduyah has cited Ibn Abbas (may Allah bless them both) as saying that this Surah is Makki, and the same also is the view of Ata and Jabir. But Abu Hayyan in Al-Bahr al-Muhit has cited Ibn Abbas, Qatadah and Dahhak as saying that this Surah was revealed at Madinah. In our opinion there is an internal piece of evidence in the Surah itself which points to its being a Madani Revelation. It holds out a threat of destruction to those praying ones who are unmindful of their Prayers and who pray only to be seen. This kind of hypocrites were found only at Madinah, for it was there that Islam and the Muslims gained such strength that many people were compelled to believe from expedience, had to visit the Mosque, join the congregational Prayer and prayed only to be seen of others, so as to be counted among Muslims.

Contrary to this is, at Makkah conditions were altogether different. No one had to pray to be seen. There it was difficult even for the believers to pray in congregation; they prayed secretly and if a person prayed openly he did so only at the risk of his life. This kind of hypocrites found in Makkah did not comprise those who believed and Prayed to be seen but those who in their hearts had know, and acknowledged the Holy Messenger of Allah (upon whom be peace) to be on the true path, but were avoiding to accept Islam in order to maintain their Position of leadership and authority, or were not prepared to take the risk of being afflicted with the kind of hardships with which they found the believers afflicted in the society around them. This condition of the hypocrites at Makkah has been described in vv. 10-11 of Surah Al- Ankabut. (For explanation, see E.N.’s 13 to 16 of Surah Al-‘Ankabut).

Theme and Subject Matter

Its theme is to point out what kind of morals a man develops when he refuses to believe in the Hereafter. In vv. 2-3 the condition of the disbelievers who openly belie the Hereafter has been described, and in the last four verses the state of those hypocrites who apparently are Muslims but have no idea of the Hereafter, its judgment, and the meting out of rewards and punishments accordingly has been described. On the whole, the object of depicting the attitude and conduct of two kinds of people is to impress the point that man cannot develop a strong, stable and pure character in himself unless he believes in the Hereafter.

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In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

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[1-7] Have you seen him1 who belies the rewards and punishments2 of the Hereafter?3 He it is4 who drives away the orphan5 and does not urge6 giving away the food of the poor.7 Then woe to the praying ones,8 who are careless of their Prayer,9 who do good to be seen,10 and withhold small kindnesses11 (from the people).

1The words “have you seen”, apparently, are directed to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace), but the Qur’anic style is that on such occasions it generally addresses every intelligent and thinking person. And “seeing” means seeing with the eyes, for what has been described in the succeeding verses can be seen by every seer with his eyes, as well as knowing, understanding and considering something deeply. If the word ara’aita is taken in the second meaning, the verse would mean: “Do you know the kind of man who belies the rewards and punishments.” Or: “Have you considered the state of the person who belies the Judgment?

2The word ad-din as Qur’anic term is used for the rewards and punishments of the Hereafter as .well as for the religion of Islam. But the theme that . follows is more relevant to the first meaning, although the second meaning also is not out of the context: Ibn ‘Abbas has preferred the second meaning, while a majority of the commentators have preferred the first. In case the first meaning is taken, the theme of the Surah would mean that denial of the Hereafter produces such and such a character in man; in case the second meaning is taken, the object of the Surah would be to highlight the moral importance of Islam, to stress that Islam aims at producing an altogether different character in its adherents from that found in its deniers.

3The style shows that the object of asking this question at the outset is not to ask whether he has seen the person or not, but to invite the listener to consider as to what kind of character is’ produced in man when he denies the judgment of the Hereafter, and to urge him to know the kind of the people who belie this creed so that he tries to understand the moral significance of belief in the Hereafter.

4The letter fa in the sentence fa-dhalika-alladhi expresses the meaning of a whole sentence, which is to this effect: “If you do not know, then know that it is indeed he who…” Or, it gives the meaning: “Because of his this very denial of the Hereafter he is the kind of man who…”

5The sentence yadu `ul yatim as used in the original, has several meanings:

(1) That he deprives the orphan of his rights and evicting him from his father’s heritage thrusts him away;

(2) that if an orphan comes to ask him for help, he repulses him instead of showing him any compassion, and if he still persists in his entreaties in the hope for mercy, he drives him away and out of sight;

(3) that he ill-treats the orphan.

For example, if in his own house there is a closely related orphan, it is the orphans lot to serve the whole house, to receive rebuffs and suffer humiliation for trivial things. Besides, this sentence also contains the meaning that – the person does not behave unjustly and tyrannically only occasionally put this is his habit and settled practice. He does not have the feeling that it is an evil which he must give up, but he persists in it with full satisfaction, thinking that the orphan is a helpless, powerless creature; therefore, there is no harm if his rights are taken away wrongfully, or he is made the target of tyranny and injustice, or he is repulsed and driven away whenever he asks for help.

In this connection, Qadi Abul Hasan al-Mawardi has related a strange incident in his Alam an-Nubuwwat. Abu Jahl was the testator of an orphan. The child one. day came to him in the condition that he had no shred of a garment on his body and he implored him to be .given something out of his father’s heritage. But the cruel man paid no attention to him and the poor child had to go back disappointed. The Quraish chiefs said to him out of fun: “Go to Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) and put your complaint before him. He will recommend your case before Abu Jahl and get you your property.” The child not knowing any background of the nature of relationship between Abu Jahl and the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) and not understanding the motive of the mischief-mongers, went straight to the Holy Prophet and apprised him of his misfortune. The Holy Prophet immediately arose and accompanied the child to the house of Abu Jahl, his bitterest enemy. Abu Jahl received him well and when the latter told him to restore to the child his right, he yielded and brought out whatever he owed to him. The Quraish chiefs were watching all this earnestly m the hope that an interesting altercation would take place between them. But when they saw what actually happened they were astounded and went to Abu Jahl and taunted him saying that he too perhaps had abandoned his religion. He said: “By God, I have not abandoned my religion, but I so felt that on the right and left of Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) there was a spear which would enter my -body if I acted against what he desired. ” This incident not only shows what was the attitude and conduct of the principal chiefs of the most civilized and noble tribe of Arabia towards the orphans and other helpless people in those days but it also shows what sublime character the Holy Prophet possessed and what impact it had even on his bitterest enemies. A similar incident we have already related in E.N. 5 of Surah Al-Anbiya’ above, which points to the great moral superiority of the Holy Prophet because of which the disbelieving Quraish branded him as a sorcerer.

6La yahuddu means that the person neither persuades his own self, nor tells the people of his household, to provide the poor man with his food, nor does he urge others to recognize the rights of the poor and needy people of society who are starving and do something to satisfy their hunger.

Here, by giving only two conspicuous examples, Allah has pointed out what kind of evils are produced in the people who deny the Hereafter: The real object is not to point out only these two evils-that the people drive away the orphans and do not urge giving away the food of the poor as a result of the denial of the Hereafter. But of the countless evils which are thus produced, two evils have been presented as an example, which every noble and sound-natured person will regard as hateful. Besides, another thing meant to be impressed is that if this very man had believed at he would have to go before God to render an account of his deeds, he would not have committed such evils as to deprive the orphan of his rights, tyrannize him, repulse him, neither feed the poor man himself nor urge others to give him his food. The characteristics of the believers in the Hereafter which have been described in Surah Al-`Asr and Surah Al-Balad are that they exhort one another to mercy, and they exhort one another to the truth and to render the rights of others.

7The words used are to `am-il-miskIn and not it am-il-miskin If to am-il-miskin were the words, the meaning would be that he does not urge (others) to feed the poor. But ta’am -il-miskin means that he does not urge (others) to give away the food of the poor. In other words, the food that is given to the poor man is not the food of the giver but of the poor man himself; it is his right which is enjoined on the giver, and the giver is not doing him any favor but rendering him his right. This same thing had been said in Surah Adh-Dhariyat above: “And in their possessions is a due share of him who asks and of him who is. needy.” (v. 19).

8The fa in fa-wail-ul -lil-musallin signifies that such was the condition of the open deniers of the Hereafter. One may then consider the condition of the hypocrites who are included among the praying ones (i e. Muslims). Since, despite being Muslims they regard the Hereafter as a falsehood, one may note what path of ruin they are following.

Though “musallin” means “the praying ones”, in view of the context in which this word has been used and the characteristics of these people that follow, this word, in fact, does not have the meaning of “the praying ones” but of “the people of salat”, i.e. of those included among Muslims.

9The words used are an-salat-i him sahun and not fi salat-i-him lahum. In case the words fi salat-i him had been used, the meaning would be that they forget in the course of their Prayer.’ But forgetting in the course of the Prayer is no sin in the eyes of the Shari `ah, nothing to say of its being hypocrisy, nor is it a fault or anything blameworthy. The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) himself sometimes forgot in the Prayer and to compensate for it he prescribed the method of sajdah sahv. On the contrary, `an salat-i-him sahum means that they are neglectful of their Prayer. Whether they perform the Prayer, or do not perform it, it is of little importance to them. They are not regular at the Prayers. When they perform it, they do not observe the prescribed times, but offer it carelessly at the eleventh hour. Or, when they rise up for the Prayer, they rise up soullessly and perform it with an unwilling heart, as if it were a calamity imposed on them. They play with their garments, yawn and betray absence of every trace of Allah’s remembrance in their hearts. Throughout the Prayer they show no feeling at all that they are performing the Prayer, nor of what they are reciting; their minds wander and they perform articles of the Prayer without due attention; they somehow perform a semblance of the Prayer and try to be rid of it as soon as ,possible. And there are many people who would perform the Prayer only when they must, otherwise the Prayer has no place in their lives. The Prayer time comes but they show no concern that it is the Prayer time; they hear the call to the Prayer but do not understand what the caller is calling to, whom he is calling and for what purpose. These in fact are the signs of absence of faith in the Hereafter. The claimants to Islam believe thus only because they do not believe that they would be rewarded for performing the Prayer, nor have the faith that they would be punished for not performing it. On this very basis, Hadrat Anas bin Malik and `Ata bin Dinar say: “Thanks to God that he said ‘an salat-i-him and not fi salat-i -him. That is, we do forget in the course of the Prayer but we are not forgetful and neglectful of it; therefore, we shall not be counted among the hypocrites.”

The Qur’an at another place has described this state of the hypocrites, thus: “They come to offer their Prayer but reluctantly, and they expend in the way of Allah with unwilling hearts.” (At-Taubah: 54). The Holy Messenger of Allah has said: “This is the Prayer of the hypocrite; this is the Prayer of the hypocrite; this is the Prayer of the hypocrite ! He watches the sun at the `Asr time until when it reaches between the two horns of Satan (i.e. when the time of sunset ‘approaches), he gets up and performs the Prayer carelessly, in which he remembers Allah but little.” (Bukhari, Muslim, Musnad Ahmad) Mus’ab bin Sa`d has related from his father, Hadrat Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas: “When I asked the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) about the people who are neglectful of their Prayer, he said: “These are the people who perform their Prayers when the prescribed time for it has passed.” (Ibn Jarir, Abu Ya’la, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn abI Hatim, Tabarani in Ausat; Ibn Marduyah, Baihaqi in As-Sunan. This tradition has been related as a statement of Hadrat Sa`d himself also as a mauquf hadith and its sanad is stronger. Its being a marfu’ narration of the saying of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace). has been regarded as weak by Baihaqi and Hakim). Another tradition from Hadrat Mus’ab is that he asked his father: “Have you considered this verse? Does it mean giving up the Prayer, or wandering of one’s attention in the course of the Prayer?-Who among us has not his attention divided? He replied: No, it implies wasting the prescribed time of the Prayer and performing it when its time has elapsed.” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Shaibah, Abu Ya`la, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Marduyah, Baihaqi in As-Sunan):

Here, one should understand that coming of other thoughts in the mind in the course of the. Prayer is one thing and bing unmindful of the Prayer and thinking other things during it quite another. The first state is a natural human weakness. Other thoughts do interfere without intention, and as soon as a believer feels that his attention is wandering from the Prayer. he gathers it and brings it back to the Prayer. The other state is of being neglectful of the Prayer, for in it man only goes through an exercise of the Prayer mechanically, he has no intention of the remembrance of God in his heart. From the commencement of the Prayer till its completion his heart is not turned towards God even for a moment, and he remains engrossed in the thoughts with which he entered the Prayer.

10This can be an independent sentence as well as one relating to the preceding sentence. In the first case, it would mean that they do not perform any act of goodness with a pure intention for the sake of God, but whatever they do , they do to be seen of others so that they are praised, are considered righteous, their good act is publicized and its advantage and benefit accrues to them here in the world. In the second case, the meaning would be that they pray to be seen. The commentators generally have preferred the second meaning, for at first sight it appears that it relates to the preceding sentence. Ibn `Abbas says: “It implies the hypocrites who prayed to be seen. They performed the Prayer if there was somebody to see them, but did not perform it if there was nobody to see them.” In another tradition his words are to the effect: “If they were alone they did not pray; but if there were others, they prayed. “. (Ibn Jarir, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim , Ibn Marduyah, Baihaqi , in Ash-Shu ab). In the Qur’an too the hypocrites have been described thus: “When they rise up for the salat, they go reluctantly to it, merely to be seen of people and they remember Allah but little.” (An-Nisa’: 142).

11The word used is ma’un. The view held by Hadrat `Ali, Ibn `Umar, Sa`id bin Jubair, Qatadah, Hasan Basri, Muhammad bin Hanafiyyah, Dahhak, Ibn Zaid, `Ikrimah, Mujahid, `Ata’ and Zuhri (may Allah show them mercy) is that it implies the zakat while Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, Ibrahim Nakha`i, Abu Malik and many other scholars have expressed the opinion that it implies items of common use; for example, cooking-pot, bucket, hatchet, balance, salt, water, fire, flint (now its successor, the match-stick), etc. which the people generally borrow from each other. A statement of Sa’id bin Jubair and Mujahid also supports it. Another view of Hadrat ‘Ali also is that it implies the zakat as well as the little courtesies and kindnesses of daily Iife. Ibn Abi Hatim has related from `Ikrimah that ma’un of the highest form is zakat and of the lowest lending of a sieve, bucket, or needle to a barrrower. Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas`ud says: “We, the Companions of Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace), used to say (and according to other traditions, in the time of the Holy Prophet, used to say) that ma’un implies lending of the cooking pot, hatchet. bucket, balance, and such other things.” (Ibn Jarir. Ibn Abi Shaibah, Abu Da’ud, Nasa’i, Bazzar, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Tabarani in AI-Ausat, Ibn Marduyah, Baihaqi in As-Sunan). Sa`d bin ‘Iyad without specifying any names has related almost the same view from the Companions of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace), which shows that he had heard this from several Companions. (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Shaibah). Dailami, Ibn `Asakir, and Abu Nu`aim have related a tradition from Hadrat Abu Hurairah in which he says that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) himself explained this verse saying that it implies the hatchet, bucket and other such things. If this tradition is genuine it probably did not come to the notice of other scholars; otherwise it was not possible that other people should have given any other commentary of this verse.

Ma`un in fact is a small, little thing useful to the people. Accordingly, zakat also is ma’un, for it is a little amount out of much wealth, which one has to give away in order to help the poor, and the other small items of common use also are ma’un as mentioned by Hadrat `Abdullah.Ibn Mas`ud and the scholars who share his viewpoint. The majority of the commentators say that ma `un applies to all those small things which the neighbors usually ask each other for, and asking for these is not in any way blameworthy, for the rich and the poor, all stand in need of these at one time or another. However, to show stinginess in lending these is regarded as mean behavior morally. Generally these things by themselves last and the neighbor returns them in the original form after he has used them. It would also be maim if a neighbor asks the other for a bed or bedding items on the arrival of guests, or asks the neighbor’s permission to have loaves baked in his, oven, or wants to leave some valuables in the neighbor’s custody when going out of his house for some days. Thus, the verse means to impress that denial of the Hereafter renders a man so narrow-minded and niggardly that he is not even prepared to make a most minor sacrifice for the sake of others.

 

106. Surah Quraish

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an

 

106. Surah Quraish

Name

The Surah has been so entitled after the word Quraish in the very first verse.

Period of Revelation

Although Dahhak and Kalbi regard it as a Madani Surah, yet a great majority of the commentators are agreed that it is Makki, and a manifest evidence of this are the words Rabba hadh-al-Bait (Lord of this House) of this Surah itself. Had it been revealed at Madinah, the words “this House” for the Ka’bah could not be relevant. Moreover, its subject matter so closely relates to that of Surah Al-Fil that probably it was revealed immediately after it, without any other Surah intervening between them. On the basis of this very relevance, some of the earliest scholars regard the two Surahs as one entity. This view is strengthened by the traditions which say that in the Quran copy belonging to Hadrat Ubayy bin Ka’b these two were written as one Surah, i.e. without the insertion of the Bismillah between them. Furthermore, Hadrat Umar had once recited the two Surahs as one in the Prayer. But this view is not acceptable because in the Quran copy which Hadrat Uthman (may Allah bless him) had got written down officially by the cooperation of a large number of the Companions and sent to the centers of Islamic lands, the Bismillah was written between these two Surahs, and since then these two have been written as separate Surahs in all the copies of the Quran everywhere in the world. Moreover, the style of the two Surahs is so different that they manifestly appear as two separate Surahs.

Historical Background

To understand the Surah well it is essential that one should keep the historical background relevant to the contents of this Surah and of Surah Al-Fil in view.

The tribe of Quraish was scattered throughout Hijaz until the time of Qusayy bin Kilab, the ancestor of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace). First of all, Qusayy gathered it in Makkah and this tribe was able to gain authority over the Ka’bah. On that very basis Qusayy was called mujammi (uniter, assembler) by his people. This man by his sagacity and wisdom founded a city state in Makkah and made excellent arrangements for the welfare of the pilgrims coming from all over Arabia, with the result that the Quraish were able to gain great influence among the Arabian tribes and lands. After Qusayy the offices of the state of Makkah were divided between his sons, Abdi Manaf and Abd ad-Dar, but of the two Abdi Manaf gained greater fame even during his father’s lifetime and was held in high esteem throughout Arabia. Abdi Manaf had four sons: Hashim, Abdi Shams, Al-Muttalib, and Naufal. Of these Hashim, father of Abdul Muttalib and grandfather of the Holy Prophet, first conceived the idea to take part in the trade that passed between the eastern countries and Syria and Egypt through Arabia, and also to purchase the necessities of life for the Arabians so that the tribes living by the trade route bought these from them and the merchants living in the interior of the country were attracted to the,market of Makkah. This was the time when the Sasanian kingdom of Iran had captured the international trade that was carried out between the northern lands and the eastern countries and Byzantine empire through the Persian Gulf. This had boosted up the trade activity on the trade route leading from southern Arabia to Syria and Egypt along the Red Sea coast. As against the other Arabian caravans, the Quraish had the advantage that the tribes on the route held them in high esteem on account off their being keepers of the Ka’bah. They stood indebted to them for the great generosity with which the Quraish treated them in the Hajj season. That is why the Quraish felt no fear that their caravans would be robbed or harmed any where on the way. The tribes on the way did not even charge them the heavy transit taxes that they demanded from the other caravans. Hashim taking advantage of this prepared the trade scheme and made his three brothers partners in it. Thus, Hashim obtained trade privileges from the Ghassanide king of Syria, Abdi Shams from the Negus, Al-Muttalib from the Yamanite nobles and Naufal from the governments of Iraq and Iran, and their trade began to flourish. That is how the four brothers became famous as traders and began to be called ashab al-ilaf (generators of love and affection) on account of their friendly relations with the tribes and states of the surrounding lands.

Because of their business relations with Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Yaman and Abyssinia, the Quraish came across such opportunities and their direct contact with the culture and civilization of different countries so enhanced the level of their knowledge and wisdom that no tribe in Arabia could match and equal them. As regards wealth and worldly goods they became the most affluent tribe, and Makkah became the most important commercial center of the Arabian peninsula. Another great advantage that accrued from these international relations was that they brought from Iraq tile script which later was used for writing down the Quran. No other Arabian tribe could boast of so many literate people as Quraish. For these very reasons the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) said: “Quraish are the leaders of men.” (Musnad Ahmad: Marwiyat Amr bin al As). And according to a tradition from Hadrat Ali in Baihaqi, the Holy Prophet said: “First the leadership of the Arabians was in the hands of the people of Himyar, then Allah withdrew it from them and gave it to Quraish”.

The Quraish were thus prospering and flourishing when the event of Abrahah’s invasion of Makkah took place. Had Abrahah at that time succeeded in taking this holy City and destroying the Ka’bah, the glory and renown of not only the Quraish but of the Ka’bah itself, would have faded away, the belief of the pre-Islamic Arabia that the House indeed was Allah’s House would have been shattered, and the high esteem in which Quraish were held for being keepers of the House throughout the country would have been tarnished. Then, after the Abyssinian advance to Makkah, the Byzantium also would have taken the initiative to gain control over the trade route between Syria and Makkah: and the Quraish would have been reduced to a plight worse than that in which they were involved before Qusayy bin Kilab. But when Allah showed this manifestation of His power that the swarms of birds destroyed 60,000 Abyssinian troops brought by Abrahah by pelting then, with stones, and from Makkah to Yaman they went on falling and dying by the wayside, the faith of the Arabs that the Ka’bah indeed was Allah’s House increased manifold, and the glory and renown of Quraish too was enhanced considerably throughout the country. Now the Arabs were convinced that they were under Allah’s special favor; therefore, they visited every part of Arabia fearlessly and passed through every land with their trade caravans unharmed. No one could dare touch them with an evil intention. Not to speak of touching them, even if they had a non-Quraishite under their protection, he too was allowed to pass unharmed.

Theme and Substance

As all this was well known in the time of the Holy Prophet’s appointment to Prophethood, there was no need to mention them. That is why in the four brief sentences of this Surah, Quraish were simply asked to consider:”When you yourselves acknowledge this House (i. e. the Ka’bah) to be Allah’s House, and not of the idols, and when you fully well know that it is Allah alone Who has granted you peace by virtue of this House, made your trade and commerce flourish and saving you from destitution favored you with prosperity you should then worship and serve Him alone.”

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In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

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[1-4] As the Quraish become accustomed.1 Accustomed to their journeys in the winter and the summer.2 So they should worship the Lord of this House.3 Who has fed them against hunger,4 and made them secure against fear.5

1The word ilaf, as used in the original is from alf which means to be habituated and accustomed to be reunited after breaking up, and to adopt something as a habit. About the lam that is prefixed to ilaf, some Arabists have expressed the opinion that it is to express surprise and wonder. Thus, Li-ilaf-i Quraish in means: “How surprising is the conduct of Quraish! It is only by virtue of Allah’s bounty that they are reunited after their dispersion and have become accustomed to the trade journeys which have brought them their prosperity,. and yet from Allah’s worship and service they are turning away.” ‘This is the opinion of Akhfash, Kisa’i and Farra’, and holding this opinion something after this lam, the same thing itself is regarded as sufficient to show that the attitude and conduct a person has adopted in spite of it, is surprising and amazing”. On the contrary, Khalil bin Ahmad, Sibawaih and Zamakhshari say that this is the lam of to `lil and it relates to the following sentence: Fa! ya `budu Rabba hadh a!-Bait, which means: “Allah’s blessings on the Quraish are countless. But if for no other blessing, they should worship Allah at least for this blessing that by His bounty they became accustomed to the trade journeys, for this by itself is indeed a great favor of Allah to them. ”

2That is, the trade journeys. In summer the Quraish traveled northward to Syria and Palestine, for they are cool lands, and in winter southward to Yemen, etc. for they are warm.

3“This House”: the Holy Ka’bah. The sentence means that the Quraish have attained to this blessing only by virtue of the House of Allah. They themselves acknowledge that the 360 idols, which they worship, are not its lord, but Allah alone is its Lord. He alone saved them from the invasion of the army of elephants. Him alone they had invoked for help against Abrahah’s army. ‘It was His House the keeping of which enhanced their rank and position in Arabia, for before that they were dispersed and commanded no position whatever. Like the common Arab tribes they too were scattered factions of a race. But when they rallied round this House in Makkah and began to serve it, they became, honorable throughout Arabia, and their trade caravans began to visit every part of the country fearlessly. Therefore, whatever they have achieved, it has been possible only by the help of the Lord of this House; therefore, they should worship Him alone.

4The allusion implies that before the Quraish came to Makkah, they were a scattered people in Arabia and living miserable lives. After their gathering together in Makkah they began to prosper, and the Prophet Abraham’s prayer for them was literally fulfilled when he had prayed: “Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in a barren valley near Thy sacred House. Lord, I have done this in the hope that they will establish salat there. So turn the hearts of the people towards them, and provide fruits for their food.” (Ibrahim: 37)

5“Secure against fear” : secure from the fear from which no one anywhere in Arabia was, safe. There was no settlement anywhere in the country the people of which could sleep peacefully at night, for they feared an attack any time from any quarter by some unknown enemy. No one could step out of the bounds of his tribe for fear of life or of being taken prisoner and made a slave. No caravan could travel safely from fear of attack, or without bribing influential chiefs of the tribes’ on the way for safe conduct, But the Quraish were immune from every danger; they had no fear of an attack from an enemy. Their caravans, small or big, freely passed on the trade routes everywhere in the country. As soon as it become known about a certain caravan that it belonged to the keepers of the Ka`bah, no one could dare touch it with an evil intention, so much so that even if a single Quraishite was passing on the way, he was allowed to pass unharmed and untouched as soon as the word haram ” or “ana min haramillah ” was heard from him.

 

105. Surah Al Fil (The Elephant)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an

 

105. Surah Al Fil (The Elephant)

Name

The Surah derives its name from the word ashab al fil in the very first verse.

Period of Revelation

This is unanimously a Makki Surah; and if it is studied against its historical background it appears that it must have been sent down in the very earliest stage at Makkah.

Historical Background

As we have explained in E. N. 4 of Surah Al-Buruj above, in retaliation for the persecution of the followers of the Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be on him) in Najran by the Jewish ruler Dhu-Nuwas of Yemen, the Christian kingdom of Abyssinia invaded Yemen and put an end to the Himyarite rule there, and in 52S A. D. this whole land passed under Abyssinian control. This happened, in fact, through collaboration between the Byzantine empire of Constantinople and the Abyssinian kingdom, for the Abyssinians at that time had no naval fleet. The fleet was provided by Byzantium and Abyssinia sent 70,000 of its troops by it across the Red Sea to Yemen. At the outset one should understand that all this did not happen under the religious zeal but there were economic and political factors also working behind it, and probably these were the real motive, and retaliation for the Christian blood was just an excuse. Since the time the Byzantine empire had occupied Egypt and Syria, it had been trying to gain control over the trade going on between East Africa, India, Indonesia, etc., and the Byzantine dominions: from the Arabs, who had been controlling it for centuries, so as to earn maximum profits by eliminating the intermediary Arab merchants. For this purpose, in 24 or 25 B. C., Caesar Augustus sent a large army under the Roman general, Aelius Gallus, which landed on the western coast of Arabia, in order to intercept and occupy the sea route between southern Arabia and Syria. (See map of this trade route on p. 111 of The Meaning of the Qur’an, vol. iv). But the campaign failed to achieve its objective on account of the extreme geographical conditions of Arabia. After this, the Byzantines brought their fleet into the Red Sea and put an end to the Arab trade which they carried out by sea, with the result that they were left only with the land route. To capture this very land route they conspired with the Abyssinian Christians and aiding them with their fleet helped them to occupy Yemen.

The Arab historians statements about the Abyssinian army that invaded Yemen are different. Hafiz Ibn Kathir says that it was led by two commanders, Aryat and Abrahah, and according to Muhammad bin Ishaq, its commander was Aryat, and Abrahah was included in it. Then both are agreed that Aryat and Abrahah fell out, Aryat was killed in the encounter, and Abrahah took possession of the country; then somehow he persuaded the Abyssinian king to appoint him his viceroy over Yemen. On the contrary, the Greek and Syrian historians state that when after the conquest of Yemen, the Abyssinians started putting to death the Yamanite chiefs, who had put up resistance, one of the chiefs, named As-Sumayfi Ashwa (whom the Greek historians call Esymphaeus) yielded to the Abyssinians and promising to pay tribute obtained the Abyssinian king’s warrant to be governor over Yemen. But the Abyssinian army revolted against him and made Abrahah governor in his place. This man was the slave of a Greek merchant of the Abyssinian seaport of Adolis, who by clever diplomacy had come to wield great influence in the Abyssinian army occupying Yemen. The troops sent by the Negus to punish him either warned him or were defeated by him. Subsequently, after the death of the king, his successor was reconciled to accept him as his vice regent of Yemen.(The Greek historians write him as Abrames and the Syrian historians as Abraham. Abrahah perhaps is an Abyssinian variant of Abraham, for its Arabic version is Ibrahim).

This man through passage of time became an independent ruler of Yemen. He acknowledged the sovereignty of the Negus only in name and described himself as his deputy. The influence he wielded can be judged from the fact that after the restoration of the dam of Marib in 543 A. D. he celebrated the event by holding a grand feast, which was attended by the ambassadors of the Byzantine emperor, king of Iran, king of Hirah, and king of Ghassan. Its full details are given in the inscription that Abrahah installed on the dam. This inscription is extant and Glaser has published it.(For further details, see E. N. 37 of the commentary of Surah Saba).

After stabilizing his rule in Yemen Abrahah turned his attention to the objective which from the very beginning of this campaign had been before the Byzantine empire and its allies, the Abyssinian Christians, i. e. to spread Christianity in Arabia, on the one hand, and to capture the trade that was carried out through the Arabs between the eastern lands and the Byzantine dominions, on the other. The need, for this increased because the Byzantine struggle for power against the Sasanian empire of Iran had blocked all the routes of the Byzantine trade with the East.

To achieve this objective, Abrahah built in Sana, the capital of Yemen, a magnificent cathedral, called by the Arabian historians al-Qalis, al-Qullais, or al-Qulais, this word being an Arabic version of the Greek word Ekklesia, church. According, to Muhammad bin Ishaq, after having completed the building, he wrote to the Negus, saying: “I shall not rest until I have diverted the Arabs pilgrimage to it.”Ibn Kathir writes that he openly declared his intention in Yemen and got it publicly announced. He, in fact, wanted to provoke the Arabs into doing something which should provide him with an excuse to attack Makkah and destroy the Ka’bah. Muhammad bin Ishaq says that an Arab, enraged at this public proclamation somehow went into the cathedral and defiled it. Ibn Kathir says this was done by a Quraishite and according to Muqatil bin Suleman, some young men of the Quraish had set fire to the cathedral. Either might have happened, for Abrahah’s proclamation was certainly provocative and in the ancient pre-Islamic age it cannot be impossible that an Arab, or a Quraishite youth, might have been enraged and might have defiled the cathedral, or set fire to it. But it may well also be that Abrahah himself got this done secretly by his own agent so as to have an excuse for invading Makkah and thus achieving both his objectives by destroying the Quraish and intimidating the Arabs. In any case, whatever happened, when the report reached Abrahah that the devotees of the Ka’bah had thus defiled his cathedral, he swore that he would not rest until he had destroyed the Ka’bah.

So, in 570 or 571 A. D., he took 60,000 troops and 13 elephants (according to another tradition, 9 elephants) and set off for Makkah. On the way, first a Yamanite chief, Dhu Nafr by name, mustering an army of the Arabs, resisted him but was defeated and taken prisoner. Then in the country of Khath’am he was opposed by Nufail bin Habib al-Khath’am, with his tribe, but he too was defeated and taken prisoner, and in order to save his life he accepted to serve him as guide in the Arab country. When he reached near Ta’if, Bani Thaqif felt that they would not be able to resist such a big force and feeling the danger lest he should destroy the temple of their deity Lat, too; their chief, Mas’ud. came out to Abrahah with his men, and he told him that their temple was not the temple he had come to destroy. The temple He sought was in Makkah, and they would send with him a man to guide him there. Abrahah accepted the offer, and Bani Thaqif sent Abu Righal as guide with him. When they reached al-Mughammas (or al- Mughammis), a place about 3 miles short of Makkah, Abu Righal died, and the Arabs stoned his grave and the practice survives to this day. They cursed the Bani Thaqif too, for in order to save the temple of Lat they had cooperated with the invaders of the House of Allah.

According to Muhammad bin Ishaq, from al- Mughammas Abrahah sent forward his vanguard and they brought him the plunder of the people of Tihamah and Quraish, which included two hundred camels of Abdul Muttalib, the grandfather of the Holy Messenger of Allah (upon whom be His peace). Then, he sent an envoy of his to Makkah with the message that he had not come to fight the people of Makkah but only to destroy the House (i. e. the Ka’bah). If they offered no resistance, there would be no cause for bloodshed. Abrahah also instructed his envoy that if the people of Makkah wanted to negotiate, he should return with their leading chief to him. The leading chief of Makkah at that time was Abdul Muttalib. The envoy went to him and delivered Abrahah’s message. Abdul Muttalib replied:”We have no power to fight Abrahah. This is Allah’s House. If He wills He will save His House.” The envoy asked him to go with him to Abrahah. He agreed and accompanied him to the king. Now Abdul Muttalib was such a dignified and handsome man that when, Abrahah saw him he was much impressed; he got off his throne and sat beside him on the carpet. Then he asked him what he wanted. Abdul Muttalib replied that he wanted the king to return his camels which he had taken. Abrahah said: “I was much impressed when I saw you but your reply has brought you down in my eyes: you only demand your camels but you say nothing about this House which is your sanctuary and the sanctuary of your forefathers.” He replied: “I am the owner of my camels and am requesting you to return them. As for the House, it has its own Owner: He will defend it.” When Abrahah said that He would not be able to defend it against him, Abdul Muttalib said that that rested between Him and him. With this Abdul Muttalib left Abrahah and he restored to him his camels.

Ibn Abbas tradition is different. It does not mention the demand for the camels at all. According to the traditions related from him by Abd bin Humaid, Ibn al-Mundhir, lbn Marduyah, Hakim, Abu Nuaim and Baihaqi, he states that when Abrahah reached As-Sifah (a place situated between Arafat and Taif in the mountains near the sacred bounds of Makkah), Abdul Muttalib went to him and said: “There was no need for you to come so far. You should have ordered us and we would have brought before you whatever you needed.” He said: “I hear that this House is the House of peace: I have come to destroy its peace.”Thereupon, Abdul Muttalib said: “This is Allah’s House. He has not allowed anyone so far to dominate it.”Abrahah replied: “We will not return until we have destroyed it.”Abdul Muttalib said:”You may take whatever you like from us and return.”Abrahah refused to budge and ordered his troops to advance, leaving Abdul Muttalib behind.

Leaving the two traditions as they are, one thing which becomes evident is that the tribes living in and around Makkah did not have the power to fight such a big force and save the Ka’bah. Therefore, obviously, the Quraish did not try to put up any resistance. The Quraish on the occasion of the Battle of the Trench (Ahzab) had hardly been able to muster & strength numbering ten to twelve thousand men in spite of the alliance with the pagan and Jewish tribes; they could not have resisted an army 60,000 strong.

Muhammad bin Ishaq says that after returning from the camp of Abrahah Abdul Muttalib ordered the Quraish to withdraw from the city and go to the mountains along with their families for fear of a general massacre. Then he went to the Ka’bah along with some chiefs of the Quraish and taking hold of the iron ring of the door, prayed to Allah Almighty to protect His House and its keepers. There were at that time 360 idols in and around the Ka’bah, but on that critical moment they forgot them and implored only Allah for help. Their supplications which have been reported in the books of history do not contain any name but of Allah, the One. Ibn Hisham in his Life of the Prophet has cited some verses of Abdul Muttalib, which are to the following effect:

“O God, a man protects his house, so protect Your House; Let not their cross and their craft tomorrow overcome Your craft. If You will to leave them and our qiblah to themselves, You may do as You please.”

Suhail in Raud al-Unuf has cited this verse also in this connection: “Help today Your devotees against the devotees of the cross and its worshipers.”

Ibn Jarir has cited Abdul Muttalib’s these verses also, which he had recited in his supplication; “O my Lord, I do not cherish any hope from anyone against them except You. O my Lord, protect Your House from them. The enemy of this House is Your enemy. Stop them from destroying Your settlement.”

After making these supplications Abdul Muttalib and his companions also went off to the mountains. Next morning Abrahah prepared to enter Makkah, but his special elephant, Mahmud, which was in the forefront, knelt down. It was beaten with iron bars, goaded, even scarified, but it would not get up. When they made it face south, north, or east, it would immediately start off, but as soon as they directed it towards Makkah, it knelt down. In the meantime swarms of birds appeared carrying stones in their beaks and claws and showered these on the troops. Whoever was hit would start disintegrating. According to Muhammad bin Ishaq and Ikrimah, this was smallpox, which was seen in Arabia for the first time in that year. Ibn Abbas says that whoever was struck by a pebble, would start scratching his body resulting in breaking of the skin and falling off of the flesh. In another tradition Ibn Abbas says that the flesh and blood flowed like water and bones in the body became visible. The same thing happened with Abrahah too. His flesh fell in pieces and there arose bores on his body emitting pus and blood. In confusion they withdrew and fled towards Yemen. Nufail bin Habib, whom they had brought as guide from the country of Khatham, was searched out and asked to guide them back to Yemen, but he refused and said: “Now where can one flee when God pursues? The split nose (Abrahah) is the conquered; not the conqueror.”

As they withdrew they were continually falling by the bay and dying. Ata bin Yasar says that all the troops did not perish at the spot; some perished there and others perished by the wayside as they withdrew. Abrahah died in the country of Khath’am.

This event took place at Muhassir by the Muhassab valley, between Muzdalifah and Mina. According to the Sahih of Muslim and Abu Da’ud, in the description of the Holy Prophet’s farewell pilgrimage that Imam Jafar as-Sadiq has related from his father, Imam Muhammad Baqir, and he from Hadrat Jabir bin Abdullah, he says that when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) proceeded from Muzdalifah to Mina, he increased his speed in the valley of Muhassir. Imam Nawawi has explained it saying that the incident of the people of the elephant had occurred there; therefore, the pilgrims have been enjoined to pass by quickly, for Muhassir is a tormented place. Imam Malik in Mu’atta has related that the Holy Prophet said that the whole of Muzdalifah is a fit place for staying but one should not stay in the valley of Muhassir.

In the verses of Nufail bin Habib, which Ibn Ishaq has cited, he describes this event as an eye witness: “Would that you had seen, O Rudaina, but you would not see, What we saw by the valley of Muhassab. I praised God when I saw the birds, and I feared lest the stones should fall upon us. Everyone was asking for Nufail As though I owned the Abyssinians a debt.”

This was such a momentous event that it soon spread throughout Arabia and many poets made it the subject of their laudatory poems. In these poems one thing is quite evident that everyone regarded it as a manifestation of Allah Almighty’s miraculous power, and no one, even by allusion, said that the idols which were worshiped in the Ka’bah, had anything to do with it. For example, Abdullah ibn Az-Zibara says: “The sixty thousand returned not home, Nor did their sick man (Abrahah) survive on return. Ad and Jurham were there before them, And there is Allah, above the servants, Who sustains it.”

Abu Qais bin Aslat says: “Rise and worship your Lord and anoint The Corners of the House of Allah between the Mountains of Makkah and Mina. When the help of the Owner of the Throne reached you, His armies repulsed them so that they were lying in dust, pelted with stones.”

Not only this, but according to Hadrat Umm Hani and Hadrat Zubair bin al-Awwam, the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) said:”The Quraish did not worship anyone but Allah, the Only and One, for ten years (and according to others, for seven years. Umm Hani’s tradition has been related by Imam Bukhari in his History and by Tabarani, Hakim, Ibn Marduyah and Baihaqi in their collections of Ahadith. Hadrat Zubair’s statement has been related by Tabarani, Ibn Marduyah and Ibn Asakir, and this is further confirmed by the mursal tradition of Hadrat Sa’id bin al Musayyab, which Khatib Baghdadi has recorded in his History.

The Arabs describe the year in which this event took place as Am al-Fil (the year of the elephants), and in the same year the Holy Messenger of Allah (upon whom be His peace) was born. The traditionists and historians almost unanimously state that the event of the people of the elephant had occurred in Muharram and the Holy Prophet was born in Rabi al-Awwal. A majority of them states that he took birth 50 days after the event of the elephant.

Theme and Substance

If Surah al-Fil is studied in the light of the historical details as given above, one can fully well understand why in this Surah only Allah’s inflicting His punishment on the people of the elephant has been referred and described so briefly. It was an event of recent occurrence, and everyone in Makkah and Arabia was fully aware of it. The Arabs believed that the Ka’bah had been protected in this invasion not by any god or goddess but by Allah Almighty Himself. Then Allah alone had been invoked by the Quraish chiefs for help, and for quite a few years the people of Quraish having been impressed by this event, had worshiped none but Allah. Therefore, there was no need to mention the details in Surah al-Fil, but only a reference to it was enough so that the people of Quraish, in particular, and the people of Arabia, in general, should consider well in their hearts the message that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) was giving. For the only message that he gave was that they should worship and serve none but Allah, the Only and One. Then, they should also consider that if they used force to suppress this invitation to the truth, they would only be inviting the wrath of God, Who had so completely routed and destroyed the people of the elephants.

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In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

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[1-5] Have you not seen1 how your Lord dealt with the people of the elephant?2 Did He not cause their plan3 to end in vain?4 And sent down on them swarms of birds,5 which pelted them with stones of baked clay.6 Then He rendered them like straw eaten up by cattle.7

1Though the address apparently is directed to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace), its real addressees are not only the Quraish but all the people of Arabia, who were well aware of the event. At many places in the Qur’an the words alam tara (have you not seen?) have been used, and they are meant not to address the Holy Prophet but the people in general. (For example, see Ibrahim: 19, AI-Hajj: 18, 65, An-Nur: 43, Luqman: 29, 31, Fatir: 27, Az-Zumar: 21). Thee, the word ‘seeing’ has been used here to signify that in and around Makkah and in the vast country of Arabia, from Makkah to Yaman, there were many such people still living, who had witnessed with their own eyes the event of the destruction of the people of the elephant, for it had occurred only about forty to forty-five years earlier, and the people of Arabia had continually heard it described by the eye-witnesses themselves so that they had become so certain of it as though they had seen it with their own eyes.

2Here, Allah has not given any detail as to who were the people of the elephant, where from they had come and what was the object of their march, for all these things were well known among the people.

3The word kayd is used for a secret plan meant to harm somebody. The question is, what was secret in this case? Sixty thousand troops together with several elephants had openly come from Yemen to Makkah, and they had kept no secret that they had come to destroy the Ka`bah. Therefore, there was nothing secret about this plan. However, what was secret was the motive of the Abyssinians. They by destroying the Ka`bah, crushing down the Quraish and intimidating the Arabians, wanted to take control of the trade route that led from south Arabia to Syria and Egypt. This motive they kept hidden, and instead proclaimed their intent that they wanted to destroy the Ka`bah., the principal House of Arab worship, in retaliation for the pollution of their cathedral by the Arabs.

4Literally, fi tadlil means: “led their plan astray”, but idiomatically leading a plan astray means bringing it to naught and rendering it fruitless. At one place in the Qur’an, it has been said: “But the disbelievers plot (kayd) ended in vain.” (Al-Mu’min: 25), At another: “And that Allah does not lead to success the plan (kayd) of deceivers.” (Yusuf: 52). The Arabians described Imra’ ul-Qais by the epithet of “al-malik ad-dalil ” (the king who lost and wasted), for he had lost the kingdom left by his father.

5Ababil means many separate and scattered groups whether of men or other creatures, which come from different sides successively. ‘Ikrimah and Qatadah say that these swarms of birds had come from the Red Sea side. Sa`id bin Jubair and ‘Ikrimah say that such birds had neither been seen before nor ever after; these were neither birds of Najd, nor of Hijaz, nor of Timamah (the land between Hijaz and the Red Sea). lbn ‘Abbas says that their beaks were like those of birds and claws like the dog’s paw. ‘Ikrimah has stated that their heads were like the heads of the birds of prey, and almost all the reporters are agreed that each bird carried a stone in its beak and two stones in its claws. So the people of Makkah had these stones preserved with them for a long time. Thus, Abu Nu`aim has related a statement of Naufal bin Abi Mu`awiyah, saying that he bad seen the stones which had been thrown on the people of the elephant; they equaled a small pea seed in size and were dark red in color. According to Ibn `Abbas’s tradition that Abu Nu`aim has related, they were equal to a pine kernel, and according to Ibn Marduyah, equal to a goat’s dropping. Obviously, all the stones might not be equal but differing in size to some extent.

6Literally, bi hijarat-im-min sijjil means “stones of sijjil type.” Ibn `Abbas says that sijjil is the Arabic version of the Persian sang and gil, and it implies the stones made from clay and become hard when baked. The Qur’an also confirms the same. In Surah Hud :82 and Al-Hijr: 74, it has been said that stones of baked clay (sijjin were rained on the people of Lot, and about the same stones in Adh-Dhariyat: 33, it has been said that they were the stones made from clay (hijarat-im min tin).

Maulana Hamid-ad-Din Farahi, who in the present age has done valuable work on the research and determination of the meaning and content of the Qur’an regards the people of Makkah and other Arabians as the subject of tarmihim in this verse, who are the addressees of alam tara. About the birds he says that they were not casting stones but had come to eat the dead bodies of the people of the elephant. A resume of the arguments he has given for this interpretation is that it is not credible that `Abdul Muttalib should have gone before Abrahah and demanded his camels instead of pleading for the Ka`bah, and this also is not credible that the people of Quraish and the other Arabs who had come for Hajj, did not resist the invaders and leaving the Ka`bah at their mercy had gone off to the mountains. Therefore, what actually happened was that the Arabs pelted the army of Abrahah with stones, and Allah by sending a stormy wind charged with stones, destroyed it completely; then the birds were sent to eat the dead bodies of the soldiers. But, as we have already explained in the Introduction, the tradition does not only say that `Abdul Muttalib had gone to demand his camels but it says that he did not demand the camels at all but tried to dissuade Abrahah from attacking the Ka`bah. We have already explained that according to all reliable traditions, Abrahah’s army had come in Muharram when the pilgrims had gone back and also it was beyond the power of Quraish and other Arab tribes living in the surrounding areas to resist and fight an army 60,000 strong. They had hardly been able to muster a force ten to twelve thousand strong on the occasion of the Battle of the Trench (Ahzab) with the help of the Arab pagans and Jewish tribes then how could they have mustered courage to encounter an army, 60,000 strong? However. even if all these arguments are rejected and the sequence of the verses of Surah Al-Fil only is kept in view, this interpretation is seen to go against it. If it were so that the stones were cast by the Arabs and the people of the elephant were rendered as chaff, and then the birds came to eat their dead bodies, the order would be this: “You were pelting them with stones of baked clay, then Allah rendered them as chaff eaten up, and then Allah sent upon them swarms of birds. ” but here we see that first Allah has made mention of sending swarms of birds; this is immediately followed by tarmihim bi-hijarat-im min-sijjil (which were pelting them with stones of baked clay); and then at the end it is said that Allah made them as straw eaten up.

7The word asfas used in the original has already occurred in verse 12 of Surah Ar-Rahman above: dhul-‘asf war-raihan: “and corn with husk as well as grain”. This shows that asf means the outer covering of seeds, which the farmer throws away after the grain has been separated from it. Then the animals eat it, and some of it falls down in the chewing and some is trampled under the hoofs.

 

104. Surah Al Humaza (The One Who Slanders)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an

 

104. Surah Al Humaza (The One Who Slanders)

Name

The Surah takes its name from the word humazah occurring in the first verse.

Period of Revelation

All commentators are agreed that it is a Makki Surah; a study of its subject matter and style shows that this too is one of the earliest Surahs to be revealed at Makkah.

Theme and Subject Matter

In it some of the evils prevalent among the materialistic hoarders of wealth in the pre-Islamic days have been condemned. Every Arab knew that they actually existed in their society; they regarded them as evils and nobody thought they were good. After calling attention to this kind of ugly character, the ultimate end in the Hereafter of the people having this kind of character has been stated. Both these things (i.e. the character and his fate in the Hereafter) have been depicted in a way which makes the listener automatically reach the conclusion that such a man fitly deserves to meet such an end. And since in the world, people of such character do not suffer any punishment, but seem to be thriving instead, the occurrence of the Hereafter becomes absolutely inevitable.

If this Surah is read in the sequence of the Surahs beginning with Az-Zilzal, one can fully well understand how the fundamental beliefs of Islam and its teachings were impressed on the peoples minds in the earliest stage in Makkah. In Surah Az-Zilzal, it was said that in the Hereafter man’s full record will be placed before him and not an atom’s weight of good or evil done by him in the world will have been left unrecorded. In Surah Al-Adiyat, attention was drawn to the plunder and loot, bloodshed and vandalism, prevailing in Arabia before Islam; then making the people realize, that the way the powers given by God were being abused, was indeed an expression of sheer ingratitude to Him, they were told that the matter would not end up in the world, but in the second life after death not only their deeds but their intentions and motives too would be examined, and their Lord fully well knows which of them deserves what reward or punishment. In Surah Al-Qariah after depicting Resurrection the people were warned that in the Hereafter a man’s good or evil end will be dependent on whether the scale of his good deeds was heavier, or the scale of his evil deeds was heavier:In Surah At-Takathur the people were taken to task for the materialistic mentality because of which they remained occupied in seeking increase in worldly benefits, pleasures, comforts and position, and in vying with one another for abundance of everything until death overtook them. Then, warning them of the evil consequences of their heedlessness, they were told that the world was not an open table of food for then to pick and choose whatever they pleased, but for every single blessing that they were enjoying in the world, they would have to render an account to their Lord and Sustainer as to how they obtained it and how they used it. In Surah Al-Asr it was declared that each member, each group and each community of mankind, even the entire world of humanity, was in manifest loss, if its members were devoid of Faith and righteous deeds and of the practice of exhorting others to truth and patience. Immediately after this comes Surah Al-Humazah in which after presenting a specimen of leadership of the pre-Islamic age of ignorance, the people have been asked the question: “What should such a character deserve if not loss and perdition?”

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In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

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[1-9] Doomed (to ruin) is every such person who slanders others (in their face) and backbites them habitually,1 who gathers wealth and counts it over and over again.2 He thinks that his wealth will remain with him for ever.3 Nay. never! He will be cast4 into the crushing place5 And what do you know what the crushing place is? It is the Fire of Allah,6 kindled brightly, which shall rise up to the hearts.7 It will be covered down on them8 (in a way that ) they shall be (enclosed) by tall columns.9

1The words used in the original are humazat il-lumazah. In Arabic hamz and lamz are so close in meaning that they are sometimes used as synonyms and sometimes with a little difference in the shade of meaning. But this difference is not definite and clear, for the meaning given to lamz by some Arabic speaking people themselves is given to lamz by other Arabic speaking peoples. On the contrary, the meaning given to harm by some people is given to hamz by others. Here, since both the words appear together and the words humazat il-lumazat have been used, they give the meaning that it has become a practice with the slanderer that he insults and holds others in contempt habitually. He raises his finger and winks at one man, finds fault with the lineage and person of another, taunts one in the face and backbites another; creates differences between friends and stirs up divisions between brothers; calls the people names and satirizes and defames them.

2This second sentence after the first sentence by itself gives the meaning that he slanders others because of his pride of wealth. The words jama `a malan for collecting money suggest the abundance of wealth; then the words “counting it over and over again” depict the person’s miserliness and his selfish hoarding of wealth.

3Another meaning also can be: “He thinks that his wealth will make him immortal.” That is, he is so engrossed in amassing wealth and counting it over and over again that he has forgotten death and he never bothers to consider that a time will come when he will have to depart from the world empty-handed, leaving everything behind.

4The word in the original is la yrtnbadhanna. Nabdh in Arabic is used for throwing away a thing regarding it as worthless and mean. This by itself indicates that because of his wealth he thinks that he is a great man but on the Day Of Resurrection he will be hurled into Hell as a mean and contemptible object.

5The word hutamah in the original is from hatm, which means to smash, crush and break into pieces. Hell has been described by this epithet because it will crush and break to pieces whatever is thrown into it because of its depth and its fire.

6Nowhere else in the Qur’an has the fire of Hell been called the fire of Allah. Here, its ascription to Allah not only expresses its dreadfulness but it also shows how the wrath and contempt of Allah envelops those who become proud and arrogant with the worldly wealth. That is why Allah has described that fire as His own Fire into which they will be hurled.

7Tattali’u is from ittala a, which means to climb and mount to the top, and also to be aware and informed. Afidah is plural of fuwad, which means the heart. But this word is not used for the organ which throbs in the breast, but for the seat of man’s understanding and consciousness, his’feelings and desires, beliefs and thoughts, motives and intentions, Thus, one meaning of the rising of the fire to the hearts is that this. fire will reach the place which is the center of man’s evil thoughts, false beliefs, impure desires and feelings, and wicked motives and intentions. The second meaning is that the Fire of Allah will not be blind like the tire of the world, which burns up the deserving and the non-deserving alike, but it will reach the heart of every culprit and discover the nature of his crime and then punish him according to his guilt.

8That is, after the culprits have been thrown into it, Hell will be closed in upon them without leaving any slit or opening anywhere, in order to choke and suffocate them.

9Fi amad-im-mumaddahah can have several meanings

(1) That the gates of Hell will be closed and tall columns will be erected on them;

(2) that the culprits will be tied to the tall columns;

(3) according to Ibn `Abbas, the flames of the fire shall be rising high like tall columns.