Surah Ya-Sin Ayat 20-44

{20. And there came a man running from the farthest part of the town. He said, “O my people! Obey the Messengers.”

21. “Obey those who ask no wages of you, and who are rightly guided.”

22. “And why should I not worship Him Who has created me and to Whom you shall be returned.”

23. “Shall I take besides Him gods? If the Most Gracious intends me any harm, their intercession will be of no use for me whatsoever, nor can they save me.”

24. “Then verily, I should be in plain error.”

25. “Verily, I have believed in your Lord, so listen to me!”}

Quoting what reached him from Ibn Abbas, Kab Al-Ahbar and Wahb bin Munabbih – Ibn Ishaq reported that, “The people of the city resolved to kill their Messengers, then a man came running to them from the farthest part of the town, i.e., to help them against his people. They said, his name was Habib, and he used to work with ropes. He was a sickly man who suffered from leprosy, and he was very charitable, giving half of his earnings in charity, and his Fitrah (natural inclination) was sound.” (At-Tabari 20:504) Shabib bin Bishr said, narrating from Ikrimah, from Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, that the name of the man mentioned in Ya Sin was Habib An-Najjar, and he was killed by his people. “He said: “O my people! Obey the Messengers.” – he urged his people to follow the Messengers who had come to them. “Obey those who ask no wages of you,” means, ‘for the Message which they convey to you, and they are rightly-guided in what they are calling you to, the worship of Allah Alone with no partner or associate.’ “And why should I not worship Him Who has created me” means, ‘and what is there to stop me from sincerely worshipping the One Who has created me, and worshipping Him Alone, with no partner or associate’ “and to Whom you shall be returned.” means, ‘on the Day of Resurrection, when He will requite you for your deeds: if they are good then you will be rewarded and if they are evil then you will be punished.’ “Shall I take besides Him gods?” This is a rhetorical question intended to rebuke and chastise. “If the Most Gracious intends me any harm, their intercession will be of no use for me whatsoever, nor can they save me.” means, ‘these gods whom you worship instead of Him possess no power whatsoever, if Allah wills me some harm,’ “none can remove it but He” (6:17). ‘These idols can neither cause any harm nor bring any benefit, and they cannot save me from the predicament I am in.’ “Then verily, I should be in plain error.” means, ‘if I were to take them as gods instead of Allah.’ “Verily, I have believed in your Lord, so listen to me!” Ibn Ishaq said, quoting from what had reached him from Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Kab and Wahb, “He said to his people: “Verily, I have believed in your Lord” in Whom you have disbelieved, “so listen to me!” means, listen to what I say.” (At-Tabari 20:507) Or it may be that he was addressing the Messengers when he said: “Verily, I have believed in your Lord,” meaning, ‘Who has sent you,’ “so listen to me!” meaning, ‘bear witness to that before Him.’ This was narrated by Ibn Jarir, who said, “And others said that this was addressed to the Messengers, and he said to them: ‘Listen to what I say and bear witness to what I say before my Lord, that I have believed in your Lord and have followed you.’ This interpretation is more apparent, and Allah knows best. Ibn Ishaq said, quoting from what had reached him from Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Kab and Wahb, ‘When he said that, they turned on him as one, and killed him at once, and he had no one to protect him from that.”’ (At-Tabari 20:508) Qatadah said, “They started to stone him while he was saying, ‘O Allah, guide my people for they do not know, and they kept stoning him until he died a violent death, and he was still praying for them.’ May Allah have mercy on him.” (At-Tabari 20:501)

{26. It was said: “Enter Paradise.” He said: “Would that my people knew.”

27. “That my Lord (Allah) has forgiven me, and made me of the honored ones!”

28. And We sent not against his people after him an army from the heaven, nor was it needful for Us to send (such a thing).

29. It was but one Sayhah and lo! they (all) were still.}

Muhammad bin Ishaq reported from some of his companions from Ibn Masud, may Allah be pleased with him, that they stamped on him until his intestines came out of his back passage. Allah said to him: “Enter Paradise.” so he entered it with all its bountiful provision, when Allah had taken away from him all the sickness, grief and exhaustion of this world. (At-Tabari 20:508) Mujahid said, “It was said to Habib An-Najjar, ‘Enter Paradise.’ This was his right, for he had been killed. When he saw the reward, “He said: “Would that my people knew…” Qatadah said, “You will never find a believer but he is sincere and is never insincere. When he saw with his own eyes how Allah had honoured him, he said: “He said: “Would that my people knew that my Lord has forgiven me, and made me of the honored ones!” He wished that his people could know about what he was seeing with his own eyes of the honour of Allah.” (At-Tabari 20:509) Ibn Abbas said, “He was sincere towards his people during his lifetime by saying, “O my people! Obey the Messengers”, and after his death by saying: “Would that my people knew that my Lord (Allah) has forgiven me, and made me of the honored ones!” This was recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim. Sufyan Ath-Thawri narrated from Asim Al-Ahwal from Abu Mijlaz: “That my Lord has forgiven me, and made me of the honored ones!” “Because of my faith in my Lord and my belief in the Messengers.” He meant that if they could see the great reward and everlasting blessings that he had attained, this would lead them to follow the Messengers. May Allah have mercy on him and be pleased with him, for he was so keen that his people should be guided. “And We sent not against his people after him an army from the heaven, nor was it needful for Us to send.” Allah tells us that He took revenge on his people after they had killed him because He, may He be blessed and exalted, was angry with them, for they had disbelieved in His Messengers and killed His close friend. Allah tells us that He did not send an army of angels, nor did He need to send them, to destroy these people; the matter was simpler than that. This was the view of Ibn Masud, according to the reports of Ibn Ishaq from some of his companions concerning the Ayah: “And We sent not against his people after him an army from the heaven, nor was it needful for Us to send.” He said: “We did not seek to outnumber them, for the matter was simpler than that.” “It was but one Sayhah and lo! they (all) were still.” He said, “So Allah destroyed that tyrant king, and destroyed the people of Antioch, and they disappeared from the face of the earth, leaving no trace behind.” (At-Tabari 20:510)

It was said that the words “nor was it needful for Us to send (such a thing).” mean, ‘We did not send the angels against the nations when We destroyed them; all We did was to send the punishment to destroy them.’ It was said that the words: “And We sent not against his people after him an army from the heaven,” mean, another Message to them. This was the view of Mujahid and Qatadah. (At-Tabari 20:510) Qatadah said, “Allah did not rebuke his people after they killed him, “It was but one Sayhah and lo! they (all) were still.” (At-Tabari 20:510) Ibn Jarir said, “The former view is more correct, because the Message does not need to be brought by an army.” (At-Tabari 20:511) The scholars of Tafsir said, “Allah sent Jibril, peace be upon him, to them, and he seized the pillars at the gate of their city, then he hurled one Sayhah upon them and lo! they (all) were still, to the last man among them, and no soul was left in any body.”

We have already referred to the reports from many of the Salaf that this city was Antioch, and that these three Messengers were messengers sent from the Messiah Isa bin Maryam, peace be upon him, as Qatadah and others stated. This is not mentioned by any of the later scholars of Tafsir besides him, and this issue must be examined from a number of angles.

The first is that if we take this story at face value, it indicates that these men were Messengers from Allah, may He be glorified, not from the Messiah, peace be upon him, as Allah says: “When We sent to them two Messengers, they denied them both; so We reinforced them with a third, and they said: “Verily, we have been sent to you as Messengers.” up to: “Our Lord knows that we have been sent as Messengers to you. And our duty is only to convey plainly (the Message).” If they had been from among the Disciples, they would have said something to indicate that they had come from the Messiah, peace be upon him. And Allah knows best. Moreover, if they had been messengers sent by the Messiah, why would the people have said to them, “You are only human beings like ourselves’‘ The second is that the people of Antioch did believe in the messengers sent by the Messiah to them. Antioch was the first city to believe in the Messiah, and it is one of the four cities in which there are Christian patriarchs. These cities are: Jerusalem, because it is the city of the Messiah; Antioch, because it was the first city where all of the people believed in the Messiah; Alexandria, because it was in that city that they agreed to reform the hierarchy of patriarchs, metropolitans (archbishops), bishops, priests, deacons and monks; and Rome, because it is the city of the Emperor Constantine who supported and helped to establish their religion. When he adopted Constantinople as his city, the Patriarch of Rome moved there, as has been mentioned by several historian, such as Said bin Batriq and others, both People of the Book and Muslims. If we accept that, then the people of Antioch were the first to believe, but Allah tells us that the people of this town rejected His Messengers and that He destroyed them with one Sayhah and lo! they (all) were still. And Allah knows best.

The third is that the story of Antioch and the Disciples of the Messiah happened after the Tawrah had been revealed. Abu Said Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, and others among the Salaf stated that after revealing the Tawrah, Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, did not destroy an entire nation by sending a punishment upon them. Rather, He commanded the believers to fight the idolators. They mentioned this when discussing the Ayah: “And indeed We gave Musa — after We had destroyed the generations of old – the Scripture” (28:43). This implies that the city mentioned in the Qur’an is a city other than Antioch, as also stated by more than one of the Salaf. Or, if we wish to keep the same name, it is possible that it is another Antioch, not the one which is well-known, for it is not known that it **the famous Antioch” was destroyed, either during Christian times or before. And Allah knows best.

{30. Alas for mankind! There never came a Messenger to them but they used to mock at him.

31. Do they not see how many of the generations We have destroyed before them? Verily, they will not return to them.

32. And surely, all – everyone of them will be brought before Us.}

Woe to the Disbelievers!

Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas commented on the Ayah: “Alas for mankind!”, this means, woe to mankind! (At-Tabari 20:512) Qatadah said: “Alas for mankind!” means, “Alas for mankind, who have neglected the command of Allah.” (At-Tabari 20:512)

The meaning is that they will feel regret and sorrow on the Day of Resurrection. When they see the punishment with their own eyes; they will regret how they disbelieved the Messengers of Allah and went against the commands of Allah, for they used to disbelieve in them in this world. “There never came a Messenger to them but they used to mock at him.” means, they disbelieved him and made fun of him, and rejected the message of truth with which he had been sent.

The Refutation of the Belief in the Transmigration of Souls

Then Allah says: “Do they not see how many of the generations We have destroyed before them Verily, they will not return to them.” meaning, ‘do you not learn a lesson from those whom Allah destroyed before you of those who disbelieved in the Messengers They came to this world only once, and will not return to it.’ It is not as many of those ignorant and immoral people claim that “There is nothing but our life of this world! We die and we live!” (23:37). This was the belief in the cycle of reincarnation; in their ignorance they believed that they would come back to this world as they had been before. But Allah refuted their false belief and said: “Do they not see how many of the generations We have destroyed before them Verily, they will not return to them.” Allah’s saying: “And surely, all — everyone of them will be brought before Us.” means, all of the past nations and those that are yet to come, will be gathered and brought to account before Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, on the Day of Judgement, and they will be requitted according to their good and evil deeds. This is like the Ayah: “And verily, to each of them your Lord will repay their works in full.” (11:111).

{33. And a sign for them is the dead land. We give it life, and We bring forth from it grains, so that they eat thereof.

34. And We have made therein gardens of date palms and grapes, and We have caused springs of water to gush forth therein.

35. So that they may eat of the fruit thereof — and their hands made it not. Will they not then give thanks

36. Glory be to Him Who has created all the pairs of that which the earth produces, as well as of their own kind, and of that which they know not.}

Proof of the Creator of the Universe and of Life after Death

Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says: “And a sign for them” means, evidence for them of the existence of the Creator and His perfect power and ability to resurrect the dead, “is the dead land.” means, when it is dead and arid, with no vegetation, then Allah sends water upon it, it is stirred “to life”, and it swells and puts forth every lovely kind “of growth”. Allah says: “We give it life, and We bring forth from it grains, so that they eat thereof.” meaning, `We have made it a provision for them and their cattle.’ “And We have made therein gardens of date palms and grapes, and We have caused springs of water to gush forth therein.” means, ‘We have created therein rivers which flow to the places where they are needed, so that they may eat of their fruits.’ When Allah reminds them of the blessing that He bestows upon His creation by creating crops and plants, He mentions the different types and kinds of fruits. Allah says: “and their hands made it not.” means, all of that could only come about by the mercy of Allah towards them, not by their own efforts and labor and strength. This was the view of Ibn Abbas and Qatadah. Allah says: “Will they not then give thanks?” meaning, will they not then give thanks for the innumerable blessings that He has bestowed upon them. Ibn Jarir, however, understood the word Ma to mean Alladhi (i.e., a relative pronoun). In this case the meaning of the Ayah would be that they eat from the fruits provided by Allah’s bounty and from what their own hands have done, i.e., by planting the seeds and tending the plants. Ibn Jarir mentioned other possible interpretations in his Tafsir, but this is the interpretation that he favored. This interpretation also fits with the recitation of Ibn Masud: “So that they may eat of the fruit thereof – and from what their own hands have done.” Then Allah says: “Glory be to Him Who has created all the pairs of that which the earth produces,” meaning, of crops and fruits and plants. “as well as of their own (human) kind”, means, He made them into male and female. (and of that which they know not.) means, different kinds of creatures of which they know nothing. This is like the Ayah: (And of everything We have created pairs, that you may remember.) (51:49)

{37. And a sign for them is the night. We withdraw therefrom the day, and behold, they are in darkness.

38. And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term (appointed). That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing.

39. And the moon, We have decreed for it stages, till it returns like the old dried curved date stalk.

40. It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. They all float, each in an orbit.}

 Among the Signs of the Might and Power of Allah are the Night and Day, and the Sun and Moon

“He brings the night as a cover over the day, seeking it rapidly” (7:54). Allah says here: “And a sign for them is the night. We withdraw therefrom the day,” meaning, ‘We take it away from it, so it goes away and the night comes.’ Allah says: “and behold, they are in darkness.” As it says in the Hadith: “When the night comes from here, and the day departs from here, and the sun has set, then the fasting person should break his fast.” This is the apparent meaning of the Ayah. (Fath Al-Bari 4:231)

Allah’s saying: “And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term (appointed). That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing” There are two views over the meaning of the phrase “on its fixed course for a term (appointed).” The first view is that it refers to its fixed course of location, which is beneath the Throne, beyond the earth in that direction. Wherever it goes, it is beneath the Throne, it and all of creation, because the Throne is the roof of creation and it is not a sphere as many astronomers claim. Rather it is a dome supported by legs or pillars, carried by the angels, and it is above the universe, above the heads of people. When the sun is at its zenith at noon, it is in its closest position to Throne, and when it runs in its fourth orbit at the opposite point to its zenith, at midnight, it is in its furthest position from the Throne. At that point it prostrates and asks for permission to rise, as mentioned in the Hadiths. Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I was with the Prophet in the Masjid at sunset, and he said: :

“O Abu Dharr! Do you know where the sun sets?”

I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said:

“It goes and prostrates beneath the Throne, and that is what Allah says: “And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:402)

It was also reported that Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I asked the Messenger of Allah about the Ayah: “And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term.” He said:

“Its fixed course is beneath the Throne.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:402)

The second view is that this refers to when the sun’s appointed time comes to an end, which will be on the Day of Resurrection, when its fixed course will be abolished, it will come to a halt and it will be rolled up. This world will come to an end, and that will be the end of its appointed time. This is the fixed course of its time. Qatadah said: “on its fixed course for a term (appointed).” means, “It has an appointed time and it will not go beyond that.” It was also said that this means, it keeps moving in its summer orbit for a certain time, and it does not exceed that, then it moves to its winter orbit for a certain time, and it does not exceed that. This was narrated from Abdullah bin Amr, may Allah be pleased with him. Ibn Masud and Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them, recited this Ayah as: “And the sun runs with no fixed course for a term,” meaning that it has no destination and it does not settle in one place, rather it keeps moving night and day, never slowing down or stopping, as in the Ayah: “And He has made the sun and the moon, both constantly pursuing their courses, to be of service to you” (14:33). which means, they will never slow down or stop, until the Day of Resurrection. “That is the decree of the Almighty,” means, which none can oppose or prevent. “the All-Knowing.” Who knows every movement and every cessation of movement, Who has decreed that and Who has set it in motion following a pattern in which there are no differences or inversions, as Allah says: “(He is the) Cleaver of the daybreak. He has appointed the night for resting, and the sun and the moon for reckoning. Such is the measuring of the Almighty, the All-Knowing.” (6:96) And this is how this Ayah ends: “That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing.” Then Allah says: “And the moon, We have decreed for it stages,” meaning, ‘We have caused it to run in a different orbit, from which passing of the months can be deduced, just as night and day are known from the sun.’ This is like the Ayah: “They ask you about the crescent moons. Say: “These are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage (Hajj). ” (2:189), “It is He Who made the sun a shining thing and the moon as a light and measured out for it stages that you might know the number of years and the reckoning” (10:5), and “And We have appointed the night and the day as two Ayat (signs). Then, We have obliterated the sign of the night while We have made the sign of the day illuminating, that you may seek bounty from your Lord, and that you may know the number of the years and the reckoning. And We have explained everything with full explanation.” (17:12) So, He has given the sun its own light, and the moon its (reflection of) light, and has given each its own orbit. So the sun rises each day and sets at the end of the day, giving one kind of light all the time, but it moves, rising and setting at different points in the summer and winter, thus making the days and nights longer or shorter alternatively according to the season. Its authority is in the daytime, for it is the heavenly body that dominates the day. As for the moon, Allah has decreed that it should pass through different phases.

At the beginning of the month, the moon appears small when it rises. It gives off little light, then on the second night its light increases and it rises to a higher position, and the higher it rises the more light it gives – even though it is reflected from the sun – until it becomes full on the fourteenth night of the month. Then it starts to wane until the end of the month, until it appears like the old dried curved date stalk. Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “This is the original stem (which connects the bunch of dates to the tree).” (At-Tabari 20:518)

The Arabs have a name for each set of three nights in a month, according to the phases of the moon. They call the first three nights Ghurar; the next three nights Nufal; the next three nights Tusa (nine) – because the last of them is the ninth. The next three nights are called Ushar (ten) – because the first of them is the tenth. The next three nights are called Al-Bid (white) – because of the light of the moon which shines brightly throughout these three nights. The next three nights are called Dura, the plural of Dara, because on the first of them the night is dark from the moon rising late. Dara refers to the black sheep, i.e., the one whose head is black; the next three nights Zulam; then Hanadis, then Da’adi; then Mihaq, because of the absence of moonlight at the beginning of the month. Abu Ubayd did not recognise the names Tusa and Ushar, in the book Gharib Al-Musannaf. “It is not for the sun to overtake the moon,” Mujahid said, “Each of them has a limit which it does not transgress or fall short of. When the time of one comes, the other goes away, and when the time for one to prevail comes, the time of the other ceases.” (At-Tabari 20:520) Ikrimah said concerning the Ayah, “It is not for the sun to overtake the moon,” this means that each of them has its time when it prevails. So it is not appropriate for the sun to rise at night. “nor does the night outstrip the day.” means, after night has passed, it is not right for another night to come until it has been day. The authority of the sun is during the day and the authority of the moon is at night. Ad-Dahhak said, “The night does not depart from here until the day comes from here – and he pointed to the east.” (At-Tabari 20:520) Mujahid said: “nor does the night outstrip the day.” “They seek one another rapidly.” (At-Tabari 20:519) The meaning is that there is no gap between night and day; each of them follows the other with no interval, because they have been subjugated and are both constantly pursuing one another. “They all float, each in an orbit.” means, night and day, the sun and the moon, all of them are floating, i.e., revolving, in their orbits in the heaven. This was the view of Ibn Abbas, Ikrimah, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and Ata’ Al-Khurasani. (At-Tabari 20:520)

Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, and others among the Salaf said, “In an orbit like the arc of a spinning wheel.”

{41. And an Ayah for them is that We bore their offspring in the laden ship.

42. And We have created for them of the like thereunto, on which they ride.

43. And if We will, We shall drown them, and there will be no shout for them, nor will they be saved.

44. Unless it be a mercy from Us, and as an enjoyment for a while.}

Among the Signs of Allah is that He carried Them in the laden Ship

Allah tells us: another sign for them of His might and power is that He has subjugated the sea to carry ships, including – most significantly – the ship of Nuh, peace be upon him, in which Allah saved him and the believers, apart from whom none of the descendants of Adam were left on the face of the earth. Allah says: “And an Ayah for them is that We bore their offspring” means, their forefathers, “in the laden ship.” means, in the ship which was filled with luggage and animals, in which Allah commanded him to put two of every kind. Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Laden means filled.” (At-Tabari 20:522) This was also the view of Said bin Jubayr, Ash-Shabi, Qatadah and As-Suddi. (At-Tabari 20:522) Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah and Ibn Zayd said, “This was the ship of Nuh peace be upon him.” (At-Tabari 20:522) “And We have created for them of the like thereunto, on which they ride.” Al-Awfi said, narrating from Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, “This means the camel, for it is the ship of the land on which they carry goods and on which they ride. ”(At-Tabari 20:524) Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Do you know what the Ayah: “And We have created for them of the like thereunto, on which they ride.” refers to” We said, “No.” He said, “This refers to the ships which were made after the ship of Nuh, peace be upon him, which was similar to it.” (At-Tabari 20:523) This was also the view of Abu Malik, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, Abu Salih and As-Suddi, that the Ayah “And We have created for them of the like thereunto, on which they ride.” refers to ships. (At-Tabari 20:522) “And if We will, We shall drown them,” means, those who are on board the ships. “and there will be no shout for them” means, there will be no one to save them from their predicament. “nor will they be saved.” means, from what has befallen them. “Unless it be a mercy from Us,” means, ‘but by Our mercy We make it easy for you to travel on land and sea, and We keep you safe until an appointed time.’ Allah says: “and as an enjoyment for a while.” meaning, until a time that is known to Allah, may He be glorified and exalted.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 8 Pages 183-203

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Surah Ya Sin Ayat 1-19

Surah Ya Sin 

Chapter 36

Which was Revealed in Makkah 

 

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful 

{1. Ya Sin.

2. By the Qur’an, full of wisdom,

3. Truly, you are one of the Messengers,

4. On the straight path.

5. Sent down by the Almighty, the Most Merciful,

6. In order that you may warn a people whose forefathers were not warned, so they are heedless.

7. Indeed the Word has proved true against most of them, so they will not believe.}

 

The Messenger was sent as a Warner

We have already discussed the individual letters at the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah. “By the Qur’an, full of wisdom” means, Al-Muhkam “perfect” which falsehood cannot come to from before it or behind it. (Surah Fussilat 41:42)  “Truly, you” means, O Muhammad, “are one of the Messengers, on the straight path.” means, following a straight methodology and religion, and an upright Law. “Sent down by the Almighty, the Most Merciful.” means, this path which you have brought is a revelation from the Lord of might Who is Most Merciful to His believing servants. This is like the Ayah: “And verily, you are indeed guiding (mankind) to the straight path. The path of Allah to Whom belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth. Verily, to Allah all matters return.” (42:52-53). “In order that you may warn a people whose forefathers were not warned, so they are heedless.” This refers to the Arabs, for no warner had come to them before him. The fact that they alone are mentioned does not mean that others are excluded, just as mentioning some individuals does not mean that all others are excluded. We have already mentioned the Ayat and Mutawatir Hadiths which state that the mission of the Prophet is universal, when we discussed the meaning of the Ayah: “Say: “O mankind! Verily, I am sent to you all as the Messenger of Allah.” (7:158). “Indeed the Word has proved true against most of them” Ibn Jarir said, “The punishment has become inevitable for most of them, because Allah has decreed in the Mother of the Book (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz) that they will not believe. “so they will not believe.” in Allah, or in His Messengers. (At-Tabari 20:492)

{8. Verily, We have put on their necks iron collars reaching to the chins, so that their heads are raised up.

9. And We have put a barrier before them, and a barrier behind them, and We have covered them up, so that they cannot see.

10. It is the same to them whether you warn them or you warn them not, they will not believe.

11. You can only warn him who follows the Reminder, and fears the Most Gracious unseen. Bear you to such one the glad tidings of forgiveness, and a generous reward.

12. Verily, We give life to the dead, and We record that which they send before (them), and their traces and all things We have recorded with numbers in Imam Mubin (a Clear Book).}

The State of Those Who are decreed to be among the Doomed

Allah says: ‘In the case of those who are decreed to be among the doomed, when it comes to the matter of being guided, We have made them like a person who has a chain around his neck and whose hands are tied together beneath his chin so that his head is lifted up.’ As Allah says: “so that their heads are raised up.” Mentioning the chains around the neck is sufficient and there is no need to mention the hands, although they are referred to by implication. Al-Awfi said, narrating from Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, concerning the Ayah: “Verily, We have put on their necks iron collars reaching to the chins, so that their heads are raised up.”

This is like the Ayah: “And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck” (17:29). meaning that their hands are tied to their necks and they cannot stretch them forth in order to do any good deeds. (At-Tabari 20:494) “so that their heads are raised up.” according to Mujahid it means their heads are raised, and their hands are placed over their mouths, so they are restrained from doing anything good. “And We have put a barrier before them,” Mujahid said, “Between them and the truth.” “and a barrier behind them,” Mujahid said, “Between them and the truth, so they are confused.” (At-Tabari 20:494) Qatadah said, “They move from one form of misguidance to another.” (At-Tabari 20:495) “and We have covered them up,” means, ‘We have blinded their eyes to the truth.’ “so that they cannot see.” means, they cannot benefit from goodness or be guided to it. Ibn Jarir said, “It was narrated from Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, that he used to recite “Fa a`shaynahum” instead of “Fa’aghshaynahum”, from Al-Asha “weakness of the sight, blindness”, which is a complaint of the eye.” (At-Tabari 20:495)

Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said, “Allah placed this barrier between them and Islam and Iman, so that they will never reach it,” and he recited: “Truly, those, against whom the Word (wrath) of your Lord has been justified, will not believe, Even if every sign should come to them, until they see the painful torment.” (10:96-97). Then he said, “Whoever has been prevented by Allah, will never be able.” (At-Tabari 20:495)

Ikrimah said, “Abu Jahl said, ‘If I see Muhammad, I will do such and such.’ Then Allah revealed: “Verily, We have put on their necks iron collars…” up to: “so that they cannot see.” He said, “They used to say, ‘Here is Muhammad,’ and he would say, ‘Where is he Where is he?’ And he would not be able to see him.” Ibn Jarir also recorded this. (At-Tabari 20:495) “It is the same to them whether you warn them or you warn them not, they will not believe.” means, Allah has decreed that they will be misguided, so warning them will not help them and will not have any effect on them. Something similar has already been seen at the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah, and Allah also says: “Truly, those, against whom the Word (wrath) of your Lord has been justified, will not believe, Even if every sign should come to them, until they see the painful torment.” (10:96-97). “You can only warn him who follows the Reminder,” means,’only the believers will benefit from your warning, those who follow the Reminder,’ which is the Qur’an. “and fears the Most Gracious unseen.” means, even when no one sees him except Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, he knows that Allah is watching him and sees what he does. “Bear you to such one the glad tidings of forgiveness,” i.e., of his sins, “and a generous reward.” means, one that is vast and great and beautiful. This is like the Ayah: “Verily, those who fear their Lord unseen, theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward.” (67:12). “Verily, We give life to the dead,” means, on the Day of Resurrection. This also indicates that Allah gives life to the heart of whomever He wills among the disbelievers, those whose hearts have died in misguidance, by guiding them after that to the truth. As Allah says after mentioning hardness of the heart: “Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its death! Indeed We have made clear the Ayat to you, that you may understand.” (57:17) “and We record that which they send before (them)” means, their deeds. “and their traces” means, ‘We write down the deeds which they used to do themselves, and the legacy they left behind, so We will requite them for that: if it is good, then We will reward them, and if it is evil, then We will punish them.’ This is like the Hadith:

“Whoever starts (or sets an example of) something good in Islam, will have a reward for it, and a reward equal to that of everyone who does it after him, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest. Whoever starts (or sets an example of) something evil in Islam, will bear the burden for that, and a burden equal to that of everyone who does it after him, without that detracting from their burden in the slightest.”

This was recorded by Muslim from Jarir bin Abdullah Al-Bajali, may Allah be pleased with him in which is detailed a story of the people from the Mudar tribe, who were wearing woollen rags. (Muslim 2:704) Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this Hadith in full from Jarir bin Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him. In it the Prophet then recited: “and We record that which they send before (them), and their traces” Muslim also recorded it with a different chain of narration. (Muslim 2:706)

There is also another Hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim from Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, who said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him, said:

“When the son of Adam dies, all his deeds come to an end except three: knowledge which is beneficial to others, a righteous child who prays for him, or ongoing charity which he leaves behind.” (Muslim 3:1255)

Sufyan Ath-Thawri reported that Abu Said said, “I heard Mujahid say concerning the Ayah: “Verily, We give life to the dead, and We record that which they send before (them), and their traces” ‘What they left behind of misguidance.”’ Ibn Abi Najih and others said, narrating from Mujahid: “that which they send before (them),” “Their deeds.” “and their traces”. He said, “Their footsteps.” (At-Tabari 20:499) This was also the view of Al-Hasan and Qatadah. “and their traces” means their footsteps. (At-Tabari 20:499) Qatadah said, “If Allah were to have neglected anything with regard to you, O son of Adam, He would have neglected what the wind could remove of these footsteps.” (At-Tabari 20:499) But He takes into account the footsteps of the son of Adam and all his deeds; He even takes into account these footsteps and whether they are for the purpose of obeying Allah or disobeying Him. So, whoever can have his footsteps recorded for the purpose of obeying Allah, let him do that.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir bin Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “There was an empty area around the Masjid, and Banu Salamah wanted to move to be closer to the Masjid. When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, heard about that, he said to them:

“I have heard that you want to move close to the Masjid.”

They said, ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah, that is what we want.’ He said:

“O Banu Salamah, stay where you are, and your footsteps will be recorded, stay where you are, and your footsteps will be recorded.” (Ahmad 3:332) 

This was also recorded by Muslim from Jabir, may Allah be pleased with him. (Muslim 1:462)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abdullah bin Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “A man died in Al-Madinah and the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, prayed over him, and said,

“Would that he had died somewhere other than in his place of birth!”

A man among the people said, ‘Why, O Messenger of Allah?’ The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“When a man dies somewhere other than in his place of birth, it will be measured for him from where he was born to where his footsteps no longer appear, (and this is the space that will be allocated for him) in Paradise.” (Ahmad 2:177)

It was also recorded by An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah. (An-Nasai 4:7, Ibn Majah 1:515)

Ibn Jarir narrated that Thabit said, “I was walking with Anas and I began to walk quickly. He took my hand and we walked slowly, and when we had finished praying, Anas said, ‘I walked with Zayd bin Thabit and I was walking quickly, and he said: ‘O Anas! Do you not feel that your footsteps are being written down?” (At-Tabari 20:498)

There is no contradiction between this and the first report, on the contrary, this indicates the same thing somewhat more forcefully. Because these footsteps are being recorded, then those which are setting an example, whether good or bad, are more likely to be recorded. And Allah knows best. “and all things We have recorded with numbers (as a record) in Imam Mubin (a Clear Book).” means, everything that exists is precisely dictated in a record in Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz. Al-Imam Al-Mubin here refers to the source of all records. This was the view of Mujahid, Qatadah and Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam. (At-Tabari 20:499) Similarly, Allah also says: “(And remember) the Day when We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imam (record of good and bad deeds)” (17:71). meaning the Book of their deeds which will testify as to their deeds, whether they were good or bad. This is like the Ayat: “and the Book will be placed (open), and the Prophets and the witnesses will be brought forward” (39:69), and “And the Book (one’s Record) will be placed, and you will see the criminals, fearful of that which is (recorded) therein. They will say: “Woe to us! What sort of Book is this that leaves neither a small thing nor a big thing, but has recorded it with numbers!” And they will find all that they did, placed before them, and your Lord treats no one with injustice.” (18:49).

{13. And put forward to them a similitude; the Dwellers of the Town, when there came Messengers to them.

14. When We sent to them two Messengers, they denied them both; so We reinforced them with a third, and they said: “Verily, we have been sent to you as Messengers.”

15. They said: “You are only human beings like ourselves, and the Most Gracious has revealed nothing. You are only telling lies.”

16.The Messengers said: “Our Lord knows that we have been sent as Messengers to you,”

17. “And our duty is only to convey plainly.”}

 

The Story of the Dwellers of the Town and Their Messengers, a Lesson that Those Who belied Their Messengers were Destroyed

Allah says, ‘O Muhammad, tell your people who disbelieve in you,’ “a similitude; the Dwellers of the Town, when there came Messengers to them.” In the reports that he transmitted from Ibn Abbas, Kab Al-Ahbar and Wahb bin Munabbih – Ibn Ishaq reported that it was the city of Antioch, in which there was a king called Antiochus the son of Antiochus the son of Antiochus, who used to worship idols. Allah sent to him three Messengers, whose names were Sadiq, Saduq and Shalum, and he disbelieved in them. (At-Tabari 20:500) It was also narrated from Buraydah bin Al-Husayb, Ikrimah, Qatadah and Az-Zuhri that it was Antioch. (At-Tabari 20:500) Some of the Imams were not sure that it was Antioch, as we shall see below after telling the rest of the story, if Allah wills. “When We sent to them two Messengers, they denied them both” means, they hastened to disbelieve in them. “so We reinforced them with a third,” means, ‘We supported and strengthened them with a third Messenger. Ibn Jurayj narrated from Wahb bin Sulayman, from Shuayb Al-Jaba’i, “The names of the first two Messengers were Shamun and Yuhanna, and the name of the third was Bulus, and the city was Antioch (Antakiyah). “and they said” means, to the people of that city, “Verily, we have been sent to you as Messengers.” meaning, ‘from your Lord Who created you and Who commands you to worship Him Alone with no partners or associates.’ This was the view of Abu Al-Aliyah. Qatadah bin Diamah claimed that they were messengers of the Messiah, peace be upon him, sent to the people of Antioch. “They said: “You are only human beings like ourselves…” means, ‘so how could you receive revelation when you are human beings and we are human beings, so why do we not receive revelation like you If you are Messengers, you should be angels.’ This is like what many of the nations said who disbelieved, as Allah has told us in the Ayah: “That was because there came to them their Messengers with clear proofs, but they said: “Shall mere men guide us” (64: 6) meaning that they were amazed by that and they denied it. And Allah says: “They said: “You are no more than human beings like us! You wish to turn us away from what our fathers used to worship. Then bring us a clear authority.” (14:10). And Allah tells us that they said: “If you were to obey a human being like yourselves, then verily, you indeed would be losers.” (23:34). And Allah says: “And nothing prevented men from believing when the guidance came to them, except that they said: “Has Allah sent a man as (His) Messenger” (17:94). These people said: “You are only human beings like ourselves, and the Most Gracious has revealed nothing. You are only telling lies.” The Messengers said: “Our Lord knows that we have been sent as Messengers to you.” This means that the three Messengers answered them saying: “Allah knows that we are His Messengers to you. If we were lying, He would have taken the utmost vengeance against us, but He will cause us to prevail and will make us victorious against you, and you will come to know whose will be the happy end in the Hereafter.” This is like the Ayah: “Say: “Sufficient is Allah for a witness between me and you. He knows what is in the heavens and on earth.” And those who believe in falsehood, and disbelieve in Allah, it is they who are the losers.” (29:52) “And our duty is only to convey plainly.” means, ‘all we have to do is to convey to you the Message with which we have been sent; if you obey, then happiness will be yours in this world and the Hereafter, and if you do not respond, you will soon know the consequences of that.’ And Allah knows best.

{18. They (people) said: “For us, we see an evil omen from you; if you cease not, we will surely stone you, and a painful torment will touch you from us.”

19. They (Messengers) said: “Your evil omens be with you! Because you are admonished, Nay, but you are a people mischievous.”}

Then the people of the city said to them, “For us, we see an evil omen from you” meaning, ‘we do not see in your faces any sign of good for our lives.’ Qatadah said, “They were saying, ‘if something bad befalls us, it will be because of you.”’ (At-Tabari 20:502) Mujahid said, “They were saying: People like you never enter a town, but its people are punished.” “if you cease not, we will surely stone you,” Qatadah said, “By throwing stones at you.”(At-Tabari 20:502)  “and a painful torment will touch you from us.” means, a severe punishment. Their Messengers said to them: “Your evil omens be with you!” meaning, ‘they are thrown back at you.’ This is like the Ayah where Allah describes the people of Firawn: “But whenever good came to them, they said: “Ours is this.” And if evil afflicted them, they ascribed it to evil omens connected with Musa and those with him. Be informed! Verily, their evil omens are with Allah” (7:131). And the people of Salih said: “We augur ill omen from you and those with you.” He said: “Your ill omen is with Allah.” (27:47) And Allah said: “And if some good reaches them, they say, “This is from Allah,” but if some evil befalls them, they say, “This is from you.” Say: “All things are from Allah,” so what is wrong with these people that they fail to understand any word” (4:78) “Do you call it ”evil omen”) because you are admonished Nay, but you are a people mischievous.” means, ‘because of us, because we admonished you and told you to worship Allah Alone and with all sincerity, and in return you said what you said and threatened us. Nay, but you are a mischievous people.’ Qatadah said, “This means, ‘Because we reminded you about Allah, you saw an evil omen in us. Nay, but you are a mischievous people’. ” (At-Tabari 20:504)

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 8 Pages 167-183

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Surah Fatir Ayat 19-45 (end)

{19. Not alike are the blind and the seeing.

20. Nor are (depths of) darkness and light.

21. Nor are the shade and the sun’s heat.

22. Nor are the living and the dead. Verily, Allah makes whom He wills to hear, but you cannot make hear those who are in graves.

23. You are only a warner.

24. Verily, We have sent you with the truth, a bearer of glad tidings and a warner. And there never was a nation but a warner had passed among them.

25. And if they deny you, those before them also denied. Their Messengers came to them with clear signs, and with the Scriptures, and with the Book giving light.

26.Then I took hold of those who disbelieved, and how terrible was My denial!}

The Believer and the Disbeliever are not equal

Allah says that these antonyms are clearly not equal, the blind and the seeing are not equal, there is a difference and a huge gap between them. Darkness and light are not equal, neither are shade and the sun’s heat. By the same token, the living and the dead are not equal. This is the parable Allah makes of the believers who are the living, and the disbelievers who are the dead. This is like the Ayat: “Is he who was dead and We gave him life and set for him a light (of belief) whereby he can walk amongst men – like him who is in the (depths of) darkness from which he can never come out?” (6:122), “The parable of the two parties is as that of the blind and the deaf and the seer and the hearer. Are they equal when compared?” (11:24) The believer sees and hears, and walks in the light upon a straight path in this world and the Hereafter, until he comes to settle in Gardens (Paradise) wherein is shade and springs. The disbeliever is blind and deaf, walking in darkness from which he cannot escape, he is lost in his misguidance in this world and the Hereafter, until he ends up in fierce hot wind and boiling water, and shadow of black smoke, neither cool nor good. “Verily, Allah makes whom He wills to hear” means. He guides them to listen to the proof and accept it and adhere it. “but you cannot make hear those who are in graves.” means, ‘just as the dead cannot benefit from guidance and the call to truth after they have died as disbelievers and ended up in the graves, so too you cannot help these idolators who are decreed to be doomed, and you cannot guide them.’ You are only a warner means, all you have to do is to convey the Message and warn them, and Allah leaves astray whomsoever He wills and guides whomsoever He wills. “Verily, We have sent you with the truth, a bearer of glad tidings and a warner.” means, a bearer of glad tidings to the believers and a warner to the disbelievers. “And there never was a nation but a warner had passed among them.” means, there was never any nation among the sons of Adam but Allah sent warners to them, and left them with no excuse. This is like the Ayat: “You are only a warner, and to every people there is a guide” (13:7). “And verily, We have sent among every Ummah a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah, and avoid all false deities.” Then of them were some whom Allah guided and of them were some upon whom the straying was justified” (16:36). And there are many similar Ayat. “And if they deny you, those before them also denied. Their Messengers came to them with clear signs,” means, clear miracles and definitive proofs. “and with the Scriptures,” means, the Books. “and with the Book giving light.” means, clear and obvious. “Then I took hold of those who disbelieved,” means, ‘despite all of this, they denied the Messengers and the Message they brought, so I seized them, i.e., with My punishment.’ “and how terrible was My denial!” means, ‘how great and intense and terrible do you think My punishment was?’ And Allah knows best.

{27. See you not that Allah sends down water from the sky, and We produce therewith fruits of various colors, and among the mountains are Judad, white and red, of varying colors and (others) Gharabib black.

28. And likewise, men and moving creature and cattle are of various colors. It is only those among His servants who have knowledge that fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Almighty, Oft-Forgiving.}

The Perfect Power of Allah

Allah tells us of His complete and perfect power of creation. He tells us how He makes different kinds of things from one thing, which is the water that He sends down from the heaven. From water He brings forth fruits of various colors, yellow, red, green, white and other colors, as we can see in the immense variety of their colors, tastes and scents. This is like another Ayah where Allah says: “And in the earth are neighbouring tracts, and gardens of vines, and green crops, and date palms, growing into two or three from a single stem root, or otherwise, watered with the same water; yet some of them We make more excellent than others to eat. Verily, in these things there are Ayat for the people who understand.” (13:4) “and among the mountains are Judad, white and red, of varying colours” means, He created the mountains like this, with different colours, as we also see that there are indeed white and red mountains, and in some of them there are streaks which are also of varying colors. Ibn Abbas said Al-Judad means pathways. This was also the view of Abu Malik, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and As-Suddi. And there are some mountains which are very black. Ikrimah said, “Al-Gharabib means mountains which are high and black. This was also the view of Abu Malik, Ata’ Al-Khurasani and Qatadah. (At-Tabari 20:461) Ibn Jarir said, “When the Arabs describe something as being very black, they say Ghirbib. “And likewise, men and moving creatures and cattle are of various colours.” means, the same is true of living creatures too, humans and animals, all creatures which walk on their feet, and cattle. Here something general is followed by something specific. These are all different too, for among mankind there are Berbers, Ethiopians and some non-Arabs who are very black, and Slavs and Romans who are very white, and the Arabs who are in between, and the Indians. Allah says in another Ayah: “and the difference of your languages and colours. Verily, in that are indeed signs for men of sound knowledge” (30:22). Similarly, animals and cattle vary in their colors, even within one species, and a single animal may have patches of different colors. Blessed be Allah, the Best of creators. Allah then says: “It is only those who have knowledge among His servants that fear Allah.” meaning, only those who have knowledge truly fear Him as He should be feared, because the more they know about the Almighty, All-Powerful, All-Knowing Who has the most perfect attributes and is described with the most beautiful Names, the more they will fear Him. Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas commented on the Ayah: “It is only those who have knowledge among His servants that fear Allah.” those who know that Allah is able to do all things. (At-Tabari 20:462) Ibn Abbas said, “The one among His servants who knows about Ar-Rahman, is the one who does not associate anything in worship with Him; the one who accepts as lawful that which He has permitted and accepts as unlawful that which He has prohibited. He obeys His commands and is certain that he will meet Him and be brought to account for his deeds. Said bin Jubayr said, “Fear is what stands between you and disobeying Allah, may He be glorified.” Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “The knowledgeable person is the one who fears Ar-Rahman with regard to the Unseen, who likes that which Allah wants him to like, and who shuns that which angers Allah.” Then Al-Hasan recited: “It is only those among His servants who have knowledge that fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Almighty, Oft-Forgiving.” Sufyan Ath-Thawri narrated from Abu Hayyan At-Taymi from a man who said, “It used to be said that the knowledgeable are of three types: (first) one who knows Allah and the command of Allah, (second) one who knows Allah but does not know the command of Allah, and (third) one who knows the command of Allah but does not know Allah. The one who knows Allah and the command of Allah is the one who fears Allah and knows the limits (Hudud) and the obligatory duties (Fara’id). The one who knows Allah but does not know the command of Allah is the one who fears Allah but does not know the limits (Hudud) and the obligatory duties (Fara’id). The one who knows the command of Allah but does not know Allah is the one who knows the limits (Hudud) and the obligatory duties (Fara’id) but does not fear Allah.”

{29. Verily, those who recite the Book of Allah, and perform the Salah, and spend out of what We have provided for them, secretly and openly, they hope for a (sure) trade-gain that will never perish.

30. That He may pay them their wages in full, and give them (even) more, out of His grace. Verily, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Ready to appreciate.}

 

The Muslims will be the Ones Who gain in the Hereafter

Here Allah tells us that His believing servants, who recite and believe in His Book, and do the deeds prescribed in it such as establishing regular prayer at the prescribed times, night and day, spending (in charity) out of that which Allah has provided for them secretly and openly, “they hope for a (sure) trade-gain that will never perish.” means, they hope for a reward from Allah which will inevitably be theirs. Allah says: “That He may pay them their wages in full, and give them (even) more, out of His grace.” meaning, that He may give them a reward for what they have done, and multiply it by adding more, such as has never occurred to them. “Verily, He is Oft-Forgiving,” means, He forgives their sins, “Most Ready to appreciate.” means, He appreciates even a little of their good deeds.

{31. And what We have revealed to you of the Book, it is the (very) truth confirming that which was (revealed) before it. Verily, Allah is indeed All-Aware and All-Seer of His servants.}

The Qur’an is The true Book of Allah

And what We have revealed to you – O Muhammad, of the Book, i.e., the Qur’an, “it is the (very) truth confirming that which was (revealed) before it.” means, of the previous books. It confirms them just as they bore witness to the coming of the Qur’an and that it would be sent down from the Lord of the worlds. “Verily, Allah is indeed All-Aware and All-Seer of His servants.” means, He is All-Aware of them and knows who deserves to receive the blessing which He may give to him and not to others. the Prophets and the Messengers are favored above the rest of mankind, and some of the Prophets were given more than others and given higher status than others. The position given to Muhammad is higher than that of all the others, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon them all.

{32. Then We gave the Book as inheritance to such of Our servants whom We chose. Then of them are some who wrong themselves, and of them are some who follow a middle course, and of them are some who are, by Allah’s leave, foremost in good deeds. That – that is indeed a great grace.}

 

The Inheritance of the Qur’an is of three kinds

Allah says: ‘Then We made those who uphold the Book confirming what came before, the one whom We have chosen from among Our servants. They are this Ummah, who are divided into three types.’ Allah says: “Then of them are some who wrong themselves,” these are the ones who are careless about doing some obligatory actions, and who commit some forbidden actions. “and of them are some who follow a middle course,” these are the ones who fulfill their obligations and avoid things that are forbidden, but they may neglect some good deeds and do some things which are disliked. “and of them are some who are, by Allah’s leave, foremost in good deeds.” these are the ones who do obligatory actions and things which are encouraged, and who avoid doing unlawful and disliked actions, and avoid some actions which are permissible. Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas commented on the Ayah: “Then We gave the Book as inheritance to such of Our servants whom We chose.” “This refers to the Ummah of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Allah caused it to inherit every Book that He had revealed; those who wrong themselves will be forgiven, those who follow a middle course will have an easy accounting, and those who are foremost in good deeds will enter Paradise without being brought to account.” (At-Tabari 20:465) Abu Al-Qasim At-Tabarani reported from Ibn Abbas that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said one day:

“My intercession will be for those among my Ummah who commit major sins.”

Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Those who are foremost in good deeds will enter Paradise without being brought to account; those who follow a middle course will enter Paradise by the mercy of Allah; and those who wrong themselves and Ashab Al-Araf will enter Paradise by the intercession of Muhammad .” (At-Tabarani 11:189)

It was also reported from a number of the Salaf that those among this Ummah who wrong themselves are still among those whom Allah has chosen, even though they are imperfect and fell short [by not adhering to the straight path]. Others said that those who wrong themselves are not part of this Ummah and are not among those whom Allah has chosen and who inherited the Book. The correct view is that they are also part of this Ummah.

The Virtues of the Scholars

The scholars are the most fortunate of people with regard to this blessing, and the most entitled to this mercy. Imam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy on him, recorded that Qays bin Kathir said, “One of the people of Al-Madinah came to Abu Ad-Darda’, may Allah be pleased with him, when he was in Damascus. [Abu Ad-Darda’] said, ‘What brought you here, my brother?’ He said, ‘A Hadith which I heard that you narrate from the Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘Have you come for trade?’ He said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Have you come for any other reason?’ He said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Have you come only to seek this Hadith?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He, may Allah be pleased with him, said, ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah say:

“Whoever follows a path to seek knowledge, Allah will show him the way to Paradise. The angels lower their wings being pleased with the one who seeks knowledge. Whoever is in the heavens and on earth, even the fish in the sea, ask for forgiveness for the scholar. The superiority of the scholar over the worshipper is like that of the moon over all other heavenly bodies. The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets, for the Prophets did not leave behind Dinars and Dirhams, but they left behind knowledge; and whoever receives it, receives an abundance of good fortune.”’ (Ahmad 5:196)

It was also reported by Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah. (Abu Dawud 4:157)

{33. Adn (Gardens) will they enter, therein will they be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls, and their garments therein will be of silk.

34. And they will say: “All praise and thanks be to Allah, Who has removed from us (all) grief. Verily, our Lord is indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Ready to appreciate.”

35.”Who, out of His grace, has lodged us in a home that will last forever, where toil will touch us not nor weariness will touch us.”}

Allah tells us that those whom He chose among His servants, those who inherited the Book which was revealed from the Lord of the worlds, will, on the Day of Resurrection, have an abode in Everlasting Gardens which they will enter on the Day when they are raised anew and meet Allah.“therein will they be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls,” It was recorded in the Sahih from Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“The ornaments of the believer will reach as far as his Wudu’.” (Muslim 1:219)

“and their garments therein will be of silk.” For this reason it is forbidden for them (the males) in this world, but Allah will permit it for them in the Hereafter. It was recorded in the Sahih that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Whoever wears silk in this world, will not wear it in the Hereafter.” (Fath Al-Bari 10:296)

And he said:

“It is for them in this world, and for you in the Hereafter.” (Fath Al-Bari 10:296)

“And they will say: “All the praises and thanks be to Allah, Who has removed from us (all) grief…” which means fear of everything that is feared; it has been lifted from us and we have been relieved of all that we used to fear of the anxieties of the world and the Hereafter. Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, and others said, “He forgives them for their major sins, and appreciates even the smallest of their good deeds.” “Who, out of His grace, has lodged us in a home that will last forever?” means, ‘Who has given us this position and status out of His grace and blessing and mercy, for our good deeds are not equivalent to this.’ It was reported in the Sahih that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“None of you will enter Paradise by virtue of his good deeds.”

They said, “Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?” He said,

“Not even me, unless Allah encompasses me with His mercy and grace.” (Fath Al-Bari 10:132)

“where toil will touch us not nor weariness will touch us.” means, neither hardship nor exhaustion will touch us. The words translated here as “toil” and “weariness” both mean exhaustion, as if what is meant by the negation of both is that neither their bodies nor their souls will become exhausted; and Allah knows best. They used to exhaust themselves in worshipping this world, but their obligations will come to an end when they enter Paradise, where they will enjoy eternal rest and repose. Allah says: “Eat and drink at ease for that which you have sent on before you in days past!” (69:24)

{36. But those who disbelieve, for them will be the fire of Hell. Neither will it have a complete killing effect on them so that they die nor shall its torment be lightened for them. Thus do We requite every disbeliever!

37. Therein they will cry: “Our Lord! Bring us out, we shall do righteous good deeds, not that we used to do.” (Allah will reply) “Did We not give you lives long enough, so that whosoever would receive admonition could receive it And the warner came to you. So taste you. For the wrongdoers there is no helper.”}

 

The Punishment of the Disbeliever and what Their State will be in Hell

Having told us how the blessed will be (in Paradise), Allah now starts to tell us what the state of doomed will be. He says: “But those who disbelieve, for them will be the fire of Hell. Neither will it have a complete killing effect on them so that they die” This is like the Ayah: “Wherein he will neither die nor live” (20:74). It was reported in Sahih Muslim that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“As for the people of Hell who will dwell therein, they will neither live nor die there.” (Muslim 1:172)

And Allah says: “And they will cry (to the keeper of Hell): “O Malik! Let your Lord make an end of us.” He will say: “Verily, you shall abide forever.” (43:77). When they are in this state, they will think that if only they could die, it would be a time of rest for them, but that can never happen to them. Allah says: “Neither will it have a complete killing effect on them so that they die nor shall its torment be lightened for them.” This is like the Ayat: “Verily, the criminals will be in the torment of Hell to abide therein forever. (That) will not be lightened for them, and they will be plunged into destruction with deep regrets, sorrows and in despair therein.” (43:74-75). “whenever it abates, We shall increase for them the fierceness of the Fire” (17:97), and “So taste you. No increase shall We give you, except in torment.” (78:30). Then Allah says: “Thus do We requite every disbeliever!” meaning, this is the recompense of everyone who disbelieved in his Lord and denied the truth. “Therein they will cry” means, they will call out in the Fire, beseeching Allah with their voices: “Our Lord! Bring us out, we shall do righteous good deeds, not that we used to do.” which means, they will ask to go back to the worldly life so that they can do something different to the first deeds they did. But Allah, may He be glorified, knows that if He sent them back to this world, they would go back to what they had been forbidden to do, and He knows that they are lying, so He will not respond to their plea. This is like the Ayah where Allah tells us that they will say: “Then is there any way to get out (of the Fire). (It will be said): “This is because, when Allah Alone was invoked you disbelieved (denied), but when partners were joined to Him, you believed!” (40:11,12) i.e., ‘there will be no response for you because you were like that; if you were to return to this world, you would just go back to that which you had been forbidden to do.’ Allah says here: “Did We not give you lives long enough, so that whosoever would receive admonition could receive it? And the warner came to you.” meaning, ‘did you not live for long enough in the world that if you were to be among those who would benefit from the truth, you would have benefited from it during your lifetimes’ Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Allah has left no excuse for the person who lives to be sixty or seventy years old; Allah has left no excuse for him; Allah has left no excuse for him.” (Ahmad 2:275) 

Imam Al-Bukhari also recorded, in the Book of Riqaq in his Sahih, that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Messenger of Allah said:

“Allah has left no excuse for a man who reaches the age of sixty.” (Fath Al-Bari 11:243) 

Ibn Jarir recorded that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Messenger of Allah said:

“Whoever is granted a long life until the age of sixty, Allah has left no excuse for him.” (At-Tabari 20:478) 

This was also recorded by Imam Ahmad and An-Nasa’i in Ar-Riqaq. (Ahmad 2:417) Because this is the age at which Allah removes any excuse from His servants, this is the usual age of people in this Ummah, as was reported in the Hadith of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, who said, “The Messenger of Allah said:

“The usual life span in my Ummah is between sixty and seventy years, and only a few pass this age.”

This was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah in the Book of Zuhd [of his Sunan]. (At-Tirmidhi no.3550) “And the warner came to you.” It was reported that Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Ikrimah, Abu Jafar Al-Baqir, may Allah be pleased with him, Qatadah and Sufyan bin Uyaynah said, “This means grey hair.” (Al-Baghawi 3:573) As-Suddi and Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said, “This means the Messenger of Allah ” and Ibn Zayd recited, “This is a warner of the (series of) warners of old.” (53:56). (At-Tabari 20:478) This is the correct view according to Shayban who narrated that Qatadah said, “Proof will be established against them by the fact that they lived long enough and that Messengers came to them.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 7:32) This is also the view favoured by Ibn Jarir, and it is the apparent meaning of the Ayah: “And they will cry (to the keeper of Hell): “O Malik! Let your Lord make an end of us.” He will say: “Verily, you shall abide forever.” Indeed We have brought the truth to you, but most of you have a hatred for the truth.” (43:77-78) meaning: ‘We showed you the truth clearly through the Messengers, but you rejected it and opposed it.’ And Allah says: “And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger” (17:15). “Every time a group is cast therein, its keepers will ask: “Did no warner come to you” They will say: “Yes, indeed a warner did come to us, but we denied him and said: ‘Allah never sent down anything; you are only in great error’.” (67:8-9). “So taste you. For the wrongdoers there is no helper.” means, ‘taste the punishment of the Fire, as a recompense for your going against the Prophets in all your deeds, for today you will have no helper to save you from your fate of punishment and chains.’

{38. Verily, Allah is the All-Knower of the Unseen of the heavens and the earth. Verily, He is the All-Knower of that is in the breasts.

39. He it is Who has made you successors generations after generations in the earth, so whosoever disbelieves, on him will be his disbelief. And the disbelief of the disbelievers adds nothing but hatred of their Lord. And the disbelief of the disbelievers adds nothing but loss.}

Here Allah tells us that He knows the unseen in the heavens and earth, and that He knows all that is hidden and the secrets of the hearts. And He tells us that He will reward or punish everyone according to his deeds. Then Allah says: “He it is Who has made you successors generations after generations in the earth,” meaning, all people succeed one another, generation after generation. This is like the Ayah:  “and makes you inheritors of the earth, generations after generations” (27:62). “so whosoever disbelieves, on him will be his disbelief.” means, he and no one else will have to bear the consequences of that. “And the disbelief of the disbelievers adds nothing but hatred of their Lord.” means, the longer they persist in their disbelief, the more Allah hates them, and the longer they persist in it, the more they and their families will lose on the Day of Resurrection. This is in contrast to the believers, for the longer they live and do good deeds, the higher their status in Paradise will be, the greater their reward, and the more beloved they will be to their Creator.

{40. Say: “Have you considered your partners whom you call upon besides Allah? Show Me, what they have created of the earth. Or have they any share in the heavens? Or have We given them a Book, so that they act on clear proof therefrom? Nay, the wrongdoers promise one another nothing but delusions.”

41. Verily, Allah grasps the heavens and the earth lest they should move away from their places, and if they were to move away from their places, there is not one that could grasp them after Him. Truly, He is Ever Most Forbearing, Oft-Forgiving.}

 

The Helplessness of the false gods and the Power of Allah

Allah tells His Messenger to say to the idolators: “Have you considered your partners whom you call upon besides Allah?” the idols and rivals. “Show Me what they have created of the earth. Or have they any share in the heavens?” meaning, they have nothing at all of that, they do not possess even the membrane covering the stone of a date. “Or have We given them a Book, so that they act on clear proof therefrom?” meaning, ‘have We revealed to them a Book on which they base their Shirk and disbelief’ This is not the case at all. “Nay, the wrongdoers promise one another nothing but delusions.” means, they are merely following their own whims, opinions and wishes which are their personal desires, and they are no more than misguidance and falsehood. Then Allah tells us of His mighty power, by which the heavens and the earth stand by His command, and the forces that He has placed between them to hold them. He says: “Verily, Allah grasps the heavens and the earth lest they should move away from their places” means, lest they should shift from where they are. This is like the Ayat: “He withholds the heaven from falling on the earth except by His leave” (22:65), and “And among His signs is that the heaven and the earth stand by His command” (30:25). “and if they were to move away from their places, there is not one that could grasp them after Him.” means, no one can make them stay and preserve them except Him. He is Ever Most Forbearing and Oft-Forgiving because He sees His servants disbelieving in Him and disobeying Him, yet He is patient and gives them time, He waits and does not hasten the punishment, and He conceals the faults of others and forgives them. He says: “Truly, He is Ever Most Forbearing, Oft-Forgiving.”

{42. And they swore by Allah their most binding oath that if a warner came to them, they would be more guided than any of the nations; yet when a warner came to them, it increased in them nothing but flight (from the truth).

43. (They took to flight because of their) arrogance in the land and their plotting of evil. But the evil plot encompasses only him who makes it. Then, can they expect anything (else) but the Sunnah (way of dealing) of the peoples of old? So, no change will you find in Allah’s Sunnah, and no turning off will you find in Allah’s Sunnah.}

 

They longed for a Warner to come, but when He came, They disbelieved in Him

Allah tells us how Quraysh and the Arabs swore by Allah their most binding oath before the Messenger came to them, “that if a warner came to them, they would be more guided than any of the nations” i.e., than any of the nations to whom Messengers had been sent. This was the view of Ad-Dahhak and others. This is like the Ayat: “Lest you (pagan Arabs) should say: “The Book was sent down only to two sects before us, and for our part, we were in fact unaware of what they studied.” Or lest you should say: “If only the Book had been sent down to us, we would surely have been better guided than they.” So, now has come unto you a clear proof from your Lord, and a guidance and a mercy. Who then does more wrong than one who rejects the Ayat of Allah and turns away therefrom” (6:156-157) “And indeed they (Arab pagans) used to say: “If we had a reminder as had the men of old, We would have indeed been the chosen servants of Allah!” But they disbelieve therein, so they will come to know!” (37:167-170) Allah says: “yet when a warner came to them” – meaning, Muhammad with the Book revealed to him, i.e., the Clear Qur’an, “it increased in them nothing but flight (from the truth).” means, they only increased in their disbelief. Then Allah explains this further: “(They took to flight because of their) arrogance in the land” means, they were too arrogant to follow the signs of Allah. “and their plotting of evil.” means, they plotted to prevent people from following the path of Allah. “But the evil plot encompasses only him who makes it.” means, the evil consequences of that will come back upon them and not on others. “Then, can they expect anything (else) but the Sunnah (way of dealing) of the peoples of old?” meaning, the punishment of Allah for disbelieving in His Messengers and going against His command. “and no turning off will you find in Allah’s Sunnah.” means, it does not change or alter, and this is what happens to every disbeliever. “and no turning off will you find in Allah’s Sunnah.” means, “But when Allah wills a people’s punishment, there can be no turning back of it” (13:11). This means, no one can remove that from them or ward it off from them. And Allah knows best.

{44. Have they not traveled in the land, and seen what was the end of those before them – though they were superior to them in power Allah is not such that anything in the heavens or in the earth escapes Him. Verily, He is All-Knowing, All-Able.

45. And if Allah were to punish men for that which they earned, He would not leave a moving creature on the surface of the earth; but He gives them respite to an appointed term, and when their term comes, then verily, Allah is Ever All-Seer of His servants.}

Remember the Bad Consequences of disbelieving in the Prophets

Allah says: ‘Say, O Muhammad, to these people who disbelieve the Message you have brought: travel in the land and see what was the punishment of those who disbelieved the Messengers, how Allah destroyed them completely, and a similar (end awaits) the disbelievers. See how their homes were emptied of them and how they lost everything after living in luxury and being so numerous and so well equipped, and having so much wealth and so many children. All of that was of no avail to them and could not protect them in the slightest from the punishment of Allah when the command of the Lord came. Nothing is impossible for Him when He wants it to happen in the heavens or on earth.’ “Verily, He is All-Knowing, All-Able.” means, He knows all that exists and is able to do all things.

The Wisdom behind delaying the Punishment

Then Allah says: “And if Allah were to punish men for that which they earned, He would not leave a moving creature on the surface of the earth” meaning, if He were to punish them for all of their sins, He would destroy all the people of the earth and all that they own of livestock and crops. Said bin Jubayr and As-Suddi commented on the Ayah: “He would not leave a moving creature on the surface of the earth” “This means, He would have stopped sending rain to them, and all the animals would have died as a result.” “but He gives them respite to an appointed term,” means, but He is delaying until the Day of Resurrection, when He will bring them to account and will reward or punish each one according to his deeds: He will reward those who obeyed Him and will punish those who disobeyed Him. He says: “and when their term comes, then verily, Allah is Ever All-Seer of His servants.”

This is the end of the Tafsir of Surah Fatir.

All praise and gratitude is due to Allah.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir Vol 8 (Abridged) Pages 140-165

 

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Surah Fatir Ayat 1-18

Tafsir of Surah Fatir

Originator

Chapter 35

Which was revealed in Makkah

{1. All praise is due to Allah, Fatir of the heavens and the earth, Who made the angels messengers with wings, two or three or four. He increases in creation what He wills. Verily, Allah is Able to do all things.}

 

The Power of Allah

Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I did not know what Fatir As-Samawati wal-Ard meant until two bedouins came to me disputing over a well. One of them said to his companion, ‘Ana Fatartuha,’ meaning, ‘I started it.”’ (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 7:3) Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, also said, “Fatir of the heavens and the earth,” means, “The Originator of the heavens and the earth.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 7:3) Ad-Dahhak said, “Every time the phrase Fatir As-Samawati wal-Ard is used in the Qur’an, it means the Creator of the heavens and the earth.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 7:3) “Who made the angels messengers” means, between Him and His Prophets. “with wings” means, with which they fly to convey quickly that which they have been commanded to convey. “two or three or four.” means, among them are some who have two wings, some have three and some who have four. Some have more than that, as stated in the Hadith mentioning that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, saw Jibril, peace be upon him, on the Night of the Isra with six hundred wings. Between each pair of wings was a distance like that between the east and the west. (Fath Al-Bari 6:361) Allah says: “He increases in creation what He wills. Verily, Allah is Able to do all things.” As-Suddi said, “He increases their wings and creates them as He wills.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 7:4)

{2. Whatever of mercy, Allah may grant to mankind, none can withhold it; and whatever He may withhold, none can grant it thereafter. And He is the Almighty, the All-Wise.}

None can withhold the Mercy of Allah 

Allah tells us that what He wills, happens, and what He does not will, does not happen. None can give what He withholds, and none can withhold what He gives.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Warrad, the freed slave of Al-Mughirah bin Shubah, said, “Muawiyah wrote to Al-Mughirah bin Shubah, saying, ‘Write for me what you heard from the Messenger of Allah.’ So Al-Mughirah called me and I wrote for him: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah say when he finished praying,

“There is no god (worthy of worship) except Allah alone, with no partner or associate. To Him be praise and dominion, and He is able to do all things. O Allah, there is none who can withhold what You give, and none can give what You withhold, and good fortune and richness in anything cannot benefit one against Your will.”

And I heard him forbid gossiping, asking too many questions and wasting money, burying girls alive, disobeying one’s mother, and withholding from others while asking from them.”’ (Ahmad 4:250) This was also recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, with several chains of narration. (Fath Al-Bari 2:378)

It was recorded in Sahih Muslim that Abu Said Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “When the Messenger of Allah raised his head from bowing, he would say:

“Allah hears those who praise Him. O Allah, our Lord, to You be praise, filling the heavens and the earth, and filling whatever You wish besides. O Allah, the One deserving praise and glory. The truest words that any servant says – and all of us are Your servants – are: O Allah, there is none who can withhold what You give, and none can give what You withhold, and no wealth or majesty can benefit anyone against Your will.” (Muslim 1:347)

This Ayah is like the Ayah: “And if Allah touches you with harm, there is none who can remove it but He; and if He intends any good for you, there is none who can repel His favour” (10:107). And there are many similar Ayat.

{3. O mankind! Remember the grace of Allah upon you! Is there any creator other than Allah who provides for you from the sky (rain) and the earth La ilaha illa Huwa. How then are you turning away (from Him)?}

The Evidence of Tawhid

Allah shows His servants that they should worship Him Alone, for just as He is Independent in His power of creation and provision, so He should be worshipped Alone with no partners or associates such as idols and false gods. So Allah says: “La ilaha illa Huwa. How then are you turning away (from Him)?” meaning, ‘how can you turn away from Him after this has been made clear and this proof has been made obvious, but you still worship idols and false gods?’ And Allah knows best.

{4. And if they deny you, so were Messengers denied before you. And to Allah return all matters.

5. O mankind! Verily, the promise of Allah is true. So, let not this present life deceive you, and let not the chief deceiver deceive you about Allah.

6. Surely, Shaytan is an enemy to you, so take (treat) him as an enemy. He only invites his followers that they may become the dwellers of the blazing Fire.}

Consolation in the fact that the previous Messengers were denied, and a reminder of the Resurrection

 

Allah says: ‘Even if these idolators who associate others with Allah disbelieve in you, O Muhammad, and go against the Message of Tawhid that you have brought, you have an example in the Messengers who came before you.’ They also brought a clear Message to their people and told them to worship Allah alone, but their people denied them and went against them. “And to Allah return all matters (for decision).” means, ‘We will requite them for that in full.’ Then Allah says: “O mankind! Verily, the promise of Allah is true.” meaning the Resurrection will undoubtedy come to pass. “So, let not this present life deceive you,” means, ‘this life is as nothing in compare to the great good that Allah has promised to His close friends and the followers of His Messengers, so do not let these transient attractions distract you from that which is lasting.’ “and let not the chief deceiver deceive you about Allah.” This refers to Shaytan, as stated by Ibn Abbas, (At-Tabari 20:438) may Allah be pleased with him. Meaning, do not let the Shaytan tempt you and divert you away from following the Messengers of Allah and believing what they say, for he is the chief deceiver and arch-liar. This Ayah is like the Ayah that appears at the end of Surah Luqman: “let not then this (worldly) present life deceive you, nor let the chief deceiver deceive you about Allah” (31:33). Then Allah tells us of the enmity of Iblis towards the sons of Adam: “Surely, Shaytan is an enemy to you, so take (treat) him as an enemy.” meaning, ‘he has declared his enmity towards you, so be even more hostile towards him, oppose him and do not believe the things with which he tries to tempt you.’ “He only invites his followers that they may become the dwellers of the blazing Fire.” means, ‘he only wants to misguide you so that you will enter the blazing Fire with him.’ This is a manifest enemy, and we ask Allah, the All-Powerful and Almighty to make us enemies of Shaytan and to make us followers of the Book of Allah and of the way of His Messengers. For He is able to do whatever He wills and He will respond to all supplication. This is like the Ayah: “And (remember) when We said to the angels: “Prostrate yourselves unto Adam.” So they prostrated themselves except Iblis. He was one of the Jinn; he disobeyed the command of his Lord. Will you then take him (Iblis) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me while they are enemies to you? What an evil is the exchange for the wrongdoers.” (18:50)

{7. Those who disbelieve, theirs will be a severe torment; and those who believe and do righteous good deeds, theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward.

8. Is he, then, to whom the evil of his deeds is made fairseeming, so that he considers it as good? Verily, Allah sends astray whom He wills, and guides whom He wills. So destroy not yourself in sorrow for them. Truly, Allah is the All-Knower of what they do!}

The Punishment of the Disbeliever and the Reward of the Believer on the Day of Resurrection

Having stated that the ultimate destiny of the followers of Iblis will be the blazing Fire, Allah then tells us that for those who disbelieve there will be a severe punishment. This is because they obeyed the Shaytan and disobeyed Ar-Rahman. And He tells us that those who believed in Allah and His Messengers “and do righteous good deeds, theirs will be forgiveness” meaning, from whatever sins they did, and a great reward. for the good deeds that they did. Then Allah says: “Is he, then, to whom the evil of his deeds is made fairseeming, so that he considers it as good?” meaning, ‘such as disbelievers or immoral persons who do evil deeds and believe that they are doing something good, i.e., a person who is like that has been misguided by Allah, so what can you do for him You cannot help him at all.’ “Verily, Allah sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills.” means according to His decree. “So destroy not yourself in sorrow for them.” means, do not grieve about that, for Allah is Wise in His decree and He leaves astray whomsoever He leaves astray, and He guides whomsoever He guides, and in doing so He has perfect knowledge and wisdom. Allah says: “Truly, Allah is the All-Knower of what they do!”

{9. And it is Allah Who sends the winds, so that they raise up the clouds, and We drive them to a dead land, and revive therewith the earth after its death. As such (will be) the Resurrection!

10. Whosoever desires Al-Izzah then to Allah belongs Al-Izzah. To Him ascend the good words, and the righteous deeds exalt it, but those who plot evils, theirs will be a severe torment. And the plotting of such will perish.

11. And Allah did create you from dust, then from Nutfah, then He made you pairs. And no female conceives or gives birth but with His knowledge. And no aged man is granted a length of life nor is a part cut off from his life, but is in a Book. Surely, that is easy for Allah.}

Evidence of Life after Death

Often Allah refers to the Resurrection by using the analogy of the earth coming back to life after it has died, as in the beginning of Surat Al-Hajj, where He urges His servants to draw the lesson of the former from the latter. For the earth is dead and lifeless, with nothing growing in it, then He sends to it clouds which bring water, which He sends down upon it, “it is stirred (to life), and it swells and puts forth every lovely kind (of growth)” (22:5). So too, when Allah wishes to resurrect the bodies, He will send rain from beneath the Throne which will cover the whole earth, and the bodies will grow in their graves like seeds grow in the earth. It says in the Sahih:

“Every part of the son of Adam will disintegrate apart from the coccyx, from which he was created and from him he will be made anew.” (Muslim 4:2271)

Allah says: “As such (will be) the Resurrection!” According to the Hadith of Abu Razn: ‘I said, O Messenger of Allah, how will Allah bring the dead back to life? What is the sign of that in His creation?’ He said:

“O Abu Razin, do you not pass through the valley of your people (and see it) arid and barren, the you pass through it (and see it) stirred (to life) and green?”

I said, ‘Yes.’ He, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Thus will Allah bring the dead back to life.” (Ahmad 4:12)

Honour, Power and Glory in this World and in the Hereafter come only by obeying Allah

“Whosoever desires Al-Izzah then to Allah belongs all Al-Izzah.” means, whoever desires honor, power and glory in this world and the next, let him be obedient towards Allah, may He be exalted. This will help him reach his goal, for Allah is the Sovereign of this world and the Hereafter, and to Him belong all honour, power and glory. This is like the Ayat: “Those who take disbelievers for protectors instead of believers, do they seek Al-Izzah with them Verily, then to Allah belongs all honour, power and glory.” (4:139) “And let not their speech grieve you, for all Al-Izzah belongs to Allah” (10:65). “But Al-Izzah belongs to Allah, and to His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites know not” (63:8). Mujahid said: “Whosoever desires Al-Izzah” means, by worshipping idols, “then to Allah belongs Al-Izzah”“Whosoever desires Al-Izzah then to Allah belongs Al-Izzah.” (At-Tabari 20:443) means, let him seek honor, power and glory through obeying Allah, may He be glorified. (At-Tabari 20:444)

Righteous Deeds Ascend to Allah

“To Him ascend the good words,” means, words of remembrance, recitation of Qur’an, and supplications. This was the view of more than one of the Salaf.

Ibn Jarir recorded that Al-Mukhariq bin Sulaym said that “Abdullah bin Masud, may Allah be pleased with him, said to them, “If we tell you a Hadith, we will bring you proof of it from the Book of Allah. When the Muslim servants says, ‘Glory and praise be to Allah, there is no god worthy of worship except Allah, Allah is Most Great and blessed be Allah,’ an angel takes these words and puts them under his wing, then he ascends with them to the heaven. He does not take them past any group of angels but they seek forgiveness for the one who said them, until he brings them before Allah, may He be glorified.” Then Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, recited: “To Him ascend the good words, and the righteous deeds exalt it”. (At-Tabari 20:444) Imam Ahmad recorded that An-Numan bin Bashir, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Messenger of Allah said:

“Those who remember Allah and glory Allah by saying, ‘Glory be to Allah, Allah is most Great, all praise is due to Allah and La ilaha illallah, these words go around the Throne buzzing like bees, mentioning those who said them. Would one of you not like to have something with Allah mentioning him?” (Ahmad 4:268)

This was also recorded by Ibn Majah. (Ibn Majah 2:1252) “and the righteous deeds exalt it.” Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, ‘The good word is the remembrance of Allah, may He be exalted, which is taken up to Allah, and the righteous deed is the performance of obligatory duties. Whoever remembers Allah when doing an obligatory duty, his deed carries his remembrance of Allah and takes it up to Allah, may He be exalted. Whoever remembers Allah and does not perform the obligatory duties, his words will be rejected, as will his deed’. (At-Tabari 20:445) “but those who plot evils,” Mujahid, Sad bin Jubayr and Shahr bin Hawshab said, This refers to those who show off by their actions, (At-Tabari 20:447) i.e., they deceive the people by giving the impression that they are obeying Allah, when in fact they are hated by Allah for showing off. Allah says: “theirs will be severe torment. And the plotting of such will perish.” meaning, it will fail and vanish, for their reality is apparent from up close to those who have insight and wisdom. No one conceals a secret but Allah will cause it to become known, on his face or by a slip of the tongue, or He will cause the person to wear it like a cloak “so that everyone will see it”. If it is good, then the consequences will be good, and if it is bad, then the consequences will be bad. The person who shows off cannot continue to deceive anyone but the fool, but the believers who have insight are not deceived by that; from up close, they soon discover it. And nothing at all can be hidden from the Knower of the Unseen (Allah).

Allah is the Creator and Knower of the Unseen 

“And Allah did create you from dust, then from Nutfah,” means, He initiated the creation of your father Adam from dust, then He created his offspring from semen of worthless water. “then He made you pairs.” means, male and female, as a kindness and a mercy from Him, He gave you partners from your own kind, that you may find repose in them. “And no female conceives or gives birth but with His knowledge.” means, He knows about that and nothing is hidden from Him at all, but, “not a leaf falls, but He knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record.” (6:59) We have already discussed in this respect in the Ayah: “Allah knows what every female bears, and by how much the wombs fall short or exceed. Everything with Him is in (due) proportion. All-Knower of the unseen and the seen, the Most Great, the Most High.” (13:8-9). “And no aged man is granted a length of life nor is a part cut off from his life, but is in a Book.” means, some of those sperm are granted a long life, which He knows and it is recorded with Him in the First Book. “nor is a part cut off from his life,” Here the pronoun (his) refers to mankind in general, not to a specific person, because the long life which is recorded in the Book and is known by Allah will not be cut off. It was reported via Al-Awfi that Ibn Abbas said concerning the Ayah, “And no aged man is granted a length of life nor is a part cut off from his life, but is in a Book. Surely, that is easy for Allah.” There is no one for whom Allah has decreed a long life but he will reach the age that has been decreed for him. When he reaches the time that has been decreed for him, he will not surpass it. And there is no one for whom Allah has decreed a short life but it will end when he reaches the age that has been decreed for him. Allah says: “nor is a part cut off from his life, but is in a Book. Surely, that is easy for Allah.” He said, “That is recorded in a Book with Him.” (At-Tabari 20:447) This was also the view of Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim. On the other hand, some of them said, “The phrase “And no aged man is granted a length of life” means, what He decrees for him of life, and nor is a part cut off from his life means, his time is constantly decreasing. All of this is known to Allah year after year, month after month, week after week, day after day, hour after hour. Everything is written with Allah in His Book. This was reported by Ibn Jarr from Abu Malik, (At-Tabari 20:447) and was also the view of As-Suddi and Ata Al-Khurasani. In the Tafsir of this Ayah, An-Nasa’i recorded that Anas bin Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say:

“Whoever would like to have ample provision and a long life, let him uphold the ties of kinship.” (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:438)

It was also recorded by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawud. (Fath Al-Bari 4:553) Surely, that is easy for Allah. means, that is very easy for Him, and He has detailed knowledge of all His creation, for His knowledge encompasses all things, and nothing at all is hidden from Him.

{12. And the two seas (kinds of water) are not alike: this is palatable, sweet and pleasant to drink, and that is salty and bitter. And from them both you eat fresh tender meat (fish), and derive the ornaments that you wear. And you see the ships cleaving, that you may seek of His bounty, and that you may give thanks.}

The Blessings and Signs of Allah

Allah says, pointing out His mighty power in creating different things, how He has created the two seas (kinds of water). The fresh, palatable sea (kind of water) refers to the rivers which flow among people, rivers great and small according to people’s needs in all regions and areas and lands. This water is sweet and palatable for whoever wants to drink it. “and that is salty and bitter.” means, unpalatable. This is the ocean in which the big ships sail, and is salty and undrinkable. Allah says: “and that is salty and bitter.” Then Allah says: “And from them both you eat fresh tender meat” meaning, fish. “and derive the ornaments that you wear.” This is like the Ayah: “Out of them both come out pearl and coral. Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you both (Jinn and men) deny” (55:22-23). And you see the ships cleaving, means, they travel through it, plowing through the water with their beak-shaped bows. Mujahid said, ‘The wind drives the ships, and the wind cannot drive any ships except the big ones.’ “that you may seek of His bounty,” means, through your journeys to engage in trade from one land to another. “and that you may give thanks.” means, that you may give thanks to your Lord for subjugating this mighty creation – the sea – to you, so that you can travel through it as you wish and go wherever you want, and nothing stops you; His power has subjugated for you whatever is in the heavens and on earth, and all of this is by His grace and mercy.

{13. He merges the night into the day, and He merges the day into the night. And He has subjected the sun and the moon, each runs its course for a term appointed. Such is Allah, your Lord; His is the kingdom. And those, whom you invoke or call upon instead of Him, own not even a Qitmir.

14. If you invoke them, they hear your call; and if (in case) they were to hear, they could not grant it to you. And on the Day of Resurrection, they will disown your worshipping them. And none can inform you like Him Who is the All-Knower.}

The gods of the Idolators do not even own a Qitmir

Another aspect of His perfect power and might is that He has subjugated the night with its darkness and the day with its light. He takes from the length of the one and adds it to the shortness of the other, until they become equal. Then He takes from the latter and adds to the former, so one becomes long and the other becomes short, so they take from one another in summer and in winter. “And He has subjected the sun and the moon,” and the stars and planets, with their light. All of them run in their appointed courses and in the manner prescribed for them, as decreed by the Almighty, All-Knowing. “each runs its course for a term appointed.” means, until the Day of Resurrection. “Such is Allah, your Lord?” means, the One Who has done all this is the Almighty Lord besides Whom there is no other true God. “And those, whom you invoke or call upon instead of Him,” means, ‘the idols and false gods whom you claim to be in the form of angels who are close to Allah,’ own not even a Qitmr. Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Mujahid, Ikrimah, Ata , Atiyah Al- Awfi, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and others said, This is the thread that is attached to the pit of a date. (At-Tabari 20:453) In other words, they do not possess anything in the heavens or on earth, not even anything equivalent to this Qitmr. Then Allah says: “If you invoke them, they hear not your call” means, ‘the gods upon whom you call instead of Allah, do not hear your supplication, because they are inanimate and have no soul in them.’ “and if (in case) they were to hear, they could not grant it to you.” means, ‘they are not able to do any of the things that you ask them for.’ And on the Day of Resurrection, they will disown your worshipping them means, `they will disown you.’ This is like the Ayat: “And who is more astray than one who calls on besides Allah, such as will not answer him till the Day of Resurrection, and who are (even) unaware of their calls to them And when mankind are gathered, they (false deities) will become their enemies and will deny their worshipping.” (46:5-6), and “And they have taken gods besides Allah, that they might give them honor, power and glory. Nay, but they will deny their worship of them, and become opponents to them.” (19:81-82) “And none can inform you like Him Who is the All-Knower.” means, no one can tell you about the consequences of things and how they will end like the One Who is the All-Knower of them. Qatadah said, “He is referring to Himself, may He be blessed and exalted, for He undoubtedly tells the truth.” (At-Tabari 20:454)

{15. O mankind! It is you who stand in need of Allah. But Allah is the Rich, Worthy of all praise.

16. If He willed, He could destroy you and bring about a new creation.

17. And that is not hard for Allah.

18. And no bearer of burdens shall bear another’s burden; and if one heavily laden calls another to (bear) his load, nothing of it will be lifted even though he be near of kin. You can warn only those who fear their Lord unseen and perform the Salah. And he who purifies himself (from all kinds of sins), then he purifies only for the benefit of himself. And to Allah is the Return (of all).}

Mankind is in need of Allah, and each Person will carry His own Burdens on the Day of Resurrection

Allah tells us that He has no need of anyone or anything else, but all of creation is in need of Him and is in a position of humility before Him. He says: “O mankind! it is you who stand in need of Allah.” meaning, they need Him in all that they do, but He has no need of them at all. Allah says: “But Allah is the Rich, Worthy of all praise.” meaning, He is unique in His being Free of all needs, and has no partner or associate, and He is Worthy of all praise in all that He does, says, decrees and legislates. “If He willed, He could destroy you and bring about a new creation.” means, if He wanted to, He could destroy you and bring forth another people, and this is not difficult or impossible for Him. He says: “And that is not hard for Allah.” Allah’s saying: “And no bearer of burdens shall bear another’s burden” means, on the Day of Resurrection. “and if one heavily laden calls another to (bear) his load,” means, if the person who is carrying a heavy burden calls someone else to help him carry his load, all or part of it, “nothing of it will be lifted even though he be near of kin.” means, even if he is closely-related to him, even if he is his father or son, for each person will be preoccupied with his own self and his own situation. Then Allah says: “You can warn only those who fear their Lord unseen and perform the Salah.” means, ‘the only ones who will draw a lesson from what you have brought are those who are possessed of insight and wisdom, who fear their Lord and who do as He commands.’ “And he who purifies himself, then he purifies only for the benefit of himself.” means, who does righteous deeds, the benefit of that will come back to him, “And to Allah is the Return.” means, to Him everything will ultimately return, and He is swift in bringing to account. He will reward or punish everyone according to his deeds: if they are good, then the end will be good, and if they are bad, then the end will be bad.

Tafsir ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 8 Pages 119-140

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Surah Saba Ayat 34-54 (end)

{34. And We did not send a warner to a township but those who were given the worldly wealth and luxuries among them said: “We believe not in what you have been sent with.”

35. And they say: “We are more in wealth and in children, and we are not going to be punished.”

36. Say: “Verily, my Lord expands the provision to whom He wills and restricts, but most men know not.”

37. And it is not your wealth, nor your children that bring you nearer to Us, but only he who believes, and does righteous deeds; as for such, there will be multiple rewards for what they did, and they will reside in the high dwellings (Paradise) in peace and security.

38. And those who strive against Our Ayat, to frustrate them, they will be brought to the torment.}

How Those Who lived a Life of Luxury disbelieved in the Messengers and were misled by Their pursuit of Wealth and Children

Allah is consoling His Prophet and commanding him to follow the example of the Messengers that came before him. He tells him that no Prophet was ever sent to a township but those among its people who lived a life of luxury disbelieved in him, and the weaker people of the town followed him. The people of Nuh, peace be upon him, said to him: “Shall we believe in you, when the weakest (of the people) follow you?” (26:110) “nor do we see any follow you but the meanest among us and they (too) followed you without thinking” (11:27). The leaders among the people of Salih said: “to those who were counted weak – to such of them as believed: “Know you that Salih is one sent from his Lord.” They said: “We indeed believe in that with which he has been sent.” Those who were arrogant said: “Verily, we disbelieve in that which you believe in.” (7:75-76). And Allah said: “Thus We have tried some of them with others, that they might say: “Is it these (poor believers) that Allah has favored from among us” Does not Allah know best those who are grateful?” (6:53), “And thus We have set up in every town great ones of its wicked people to plot therein” (6:123), and “And when We decide to destroy a town (population), We (first) send a definite order to those among them who lead a life of luxury. Then, they transgress therein, and thus the Word (of torment) is justified against it (them). Then We destroy it with complete destruction” (17:16). And Allah says here: And We did not send a warner to a township meaning a Prophet or a Messenger, “but those who were given the worldly wealth and luxuries among them” means, those who enjoyed a life of riches and luxury, and positions of leadership. Qatadah said, “They are their tyrants, chiefs and leaders in evil.” (At-Tabari 20:409) “We believe not in the (Message) with which you have been sent.” means, ‘we do not believe in it and we will not follow it.’ Allah tells us that those who enjoyed a life of luxury and who disbelieved the Messengers said:

“And they say: “We are more in wealth and in children, and we are not going to be punished.”

meaning, they were proud of their great wealth and great numbers of children, and they believed that this was a sign that Allah loved them and cared for them, and that if He gave them this in this world, He would not punish them in the Hereafter. This was too far-fetched. Allah says: “Do they think that in wealth and children with which We enlarge them We hasten unto them with good things. Nay, but they perceive not.” (23:55-56) “So, let not their wealth nor their children amaze you; in reality Allah’s plan is to punish them with these things in the life of this world, and that their souls shall depart while they are disbelievers.” (9:55), and “Leave Me Alone (to deal) with whom I created lonely. And then granted him resources in abundance. And children to be by his side. And made life smooth and comfortable for him. After all that he desires that I should give more. Nay! Verily, he has been opposing Our Ayat. I shall oblige him to face a severe torment!” (74:11-17) And Allah has told us about the story of the owner of those two gardens, that he had wealth and crops and children, but that could not help him at all when all of that was taken from him in this world, before he reached the Hereafter. Allah says here: “Say: “Verily, my Lord expands the provision to whom He wills and restricts…” meaning, He gives wealth to those whom He loves and those whom He does not love, and He makes poor whom He wills and makes rich whom He wills. He has complete wisdom and clear proof, “but most men know not.” Then Allah says: “And it is not your wealth, nor your children that bring you nearer to Us,” meaning, ‘these things are not a sign that We love you or care for you.’ Imam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy on him, recorded that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Allah does not look at your outward appearance or your wealth, rather He looks at your hearts and your deeds.” (Ahmad 2:539)

Muslim and Ibn Majah also recorded this. (Muslim 4:1987, Ibn Majah 2:1388) Allah says: “but only he who believes, and does righteous deeds” meaning, ‘only faith and righteous deeds will bring you closer to Us.’ “as for such, there will be multiple rewards for what they did,” means, the reward will be multiplied for them between ten and seven hundred times. “and they will reside in the high dwellings in peace and security.” means, in the lofty dwellings of Paradise, safe from all misery, fear and harm, and from any evil they could fear.

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“In Paradise there are lofty rooms whose outside can be seen from the inside and whose inside can be seen from the outside.”

A bedouin asked, “Who are they for?” He said:

“For those who speak well, feed the hungry, persist in fasting and pray at night while people are asleep.” (Ibn Abi Shaybah 8:437)

“And those who strive against Our Ayat, to frustrate them,” means, those who try to block people from the path of Allah and from following His Messengers and believing in His signs, “they will be brought to the torment” means, they will all be punished for their deeds, each one accordingly.

{39. Say: “Truly, my Lord expands the provision for whom He wills of His servants, and (also) restricts (it) for him…”}

means, according to His wisdom, He gives a lot of provision to one, and gives very little to another. He has great wisdom in doing so, which cannot be comprehended by anyone but Him. This is like the Ayah: “See how We favor one above another, and verily, the Hereafter will be greater in degrees and greater in favour.” (17:21). This means that just as there are differences between them in this world – where one may be poor and in straitened circumstances while another is rich and enjoys a life of plenty – so they will be in the Hereafter. There one will reside in apartments in the highest levels of Paradise, whilst another will be in the lowest levels of Hell. As the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, describing the best of people in this world:

“He truly succeeds who becomes Muslim and is given just enough provision and Allah makes him content with what He has given.”

It was recorded by Muslim. (Muslim 2:730) “and whatsoever you spend of anything, He will replace it.” means, ‘whatever you spend in the ways that He has commanded you and permitted you, He will compensate you for it in this world by giving you something else instead, and in the Hereafter by giving you reward.’ It was reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Allah says: “Spend, I will spend on you.”

In another Hadith it is reported that every morning, two angels come, and one says, “O Allah, bring destruction upon the one who withholds (does not spend).” The other one says, “O Allah, give compensation to the one who spends.” (Muslim 1:700) And the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Spend, O Bilal, and do not fear that the One Who is on the Throne will withhold from you.” (At-Tabarani 10:191)

{40. And (remember) the Day when He will gather them all together, then He will say to the angels: “Was it you that these people used to worship?”

41. They (the angels) will say: “Glorified be You! You are our Protector instead of them. Nay, but they used to worship the Jinn; most of them were believers in them.”

42. So Today, none of you can profit or harm one another. And We shall say to those who did wrong: “Taste the torment of the Fire which you used to deny.”}

 

The Angels will disown Their Worshippers on the Day of Resurrection

Allah tells us that on the Day of Resurrection, He will rebuke the idolators before all of creation. He will ask the angels whom the idolators used to worship, claiming that their idols were in the form of these angels and that they could bring them nearer to Allah. He will ask the angels: “Was it you that these people used to worship?” meaning, ‘Did you command them to worship you?’ Allah says in Surat Al-Furqan: “Was it you who misled these My servants or did they (themselves) stray from the (right) path?” (25:17). And He will say to Isa, peace be upon him: “Did you say unto men: “Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah,’ He will say: “Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say).’‘ (5:116). Similarly, the angels will say: ”Glorified be You!” meaning, exalted and sanctified be You above the notion that there could be any god besides You. “You are our Protector instead of them.” means, we are Your servants and we disown these people before You. “Nay, but they used to worship the Jinn” meaning, the Shayatin, because they are the ones who made idol worship attractive to them and who misguided them, most of them were believers in them. This is like the Ayah: “They invoke nothing but females besides Him, and they invoke nothing but Shaytan, a persistent rebel! Allah cursed him” (4:117-118). Allah says: “So Today, none of you can profit or harm one another.” means, ‘none of those idols and rivals whom you hoped would benefit you, will be of any avail to you, those whom you worshipped in the hope that they would help you at times of stress and calamity. Today they will have no power either to benefit you or to harm you.’ And We shall say to those who did wrong: – meaning the idolators – “Taste the torment of the Fire which you used to deny.” meaning, this will be said to them by way of rebuke.

{43. And when Our Clear Verses are recited to them, they say: “This is naught but a man who wishes to hinder you from that which your fathers used to worship.” And they say: “This is nothing but an invented lie.” And those who disbelieve say of the truth when it has come to them: “This is nothing but evident magic!”

44. And We had not given them Scriptures that they could study, nor sent to them before you any warner.

45. And those before them denied; these have not received even a tenth of what We had granted to those (of old) yet they denied My Messengers. Then how (terrible) was My denial!}

 

The Saying of the Disbelievers about the Prophets, and its refutation

Allah tells us that the disbeliever deserve to be severely punished by Him, because when His clear Verses were recited to them, and they heard them fresh from the lips of His Messenger , they said: “They say: “This is naught but a man who wishes to hinder you from that which your fathers used to worship.” meaning, that the religion of their fathers was the truth and that what the Messenger brought to them was false — may the curse of Allah be upon them and their fathers! “And they say: “This is nothing but an invented lie.” referring to the Qur’an. “And those who disbelieve say of the truth when it has come to them: “This is nothing but evident magic!” Allah says: “And We had not given them Scriptures that they could study, nor sent to them before you any warner” meaning, Allah did not reveal any Book to the Arabs before the Qur’an, and He did not send any Prophet to them before Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. They used to wish for that and say, ‘if only a warner comes to us or a Book is revealed to us, we would be more guided than others,’ but when Allah blessed them with that, they disbelieved him and stubbornly rejected him. Then Allah says:  (And those before them denied;) meaning, other nations. “these have not received even a tenth of what We had granted to those (of old)” Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Of the power of this world.” (At-Tabari 20:416) This was also the view of Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd. (At-Tabari 20:416) This is like the Ayat: “And indeed We had firmly established them with that wherewith We have not established you! And We had assigned them the hearing, seeing, and hearts; but their hearing, seeing, and their hearts availed them nothing since they used to deny the Ayat of Allah, and they were completely encircled by that which they used to mock at!” (46: 26) “Have they not traveled through the earth and seen what was the end of those before them? They were more in number than them and mightier in strength” (40:82). But that did not protect them from the punishment of Allah, and Allah destroyed them because they denied His Messengers. Allah says: “yet they denied My Messengers. Then how (terrible) was My denial!” meaning, ‘how severe was My wrath and how great was My avenging of My Messengers.’

{46. Say: “I exhort you to one (thing) only, that you stand up for Allah’s sake in pairs and singly, and reflect, there is no madness in your companion. He is only a warner to you in face of a severe torment.”}

Refutation of Their Accusation that the Prophet was Insane

Allah says: ‘Say, O Muhammad, to these disbelievers who claim that you are crazy,’ “I exhort you to one (thing) only,” meaning, I am only telling you to one thing, and that is: “that you stand up for Allah s sake in pairs and singly, and reflect, there is no madness in your companion.” meaning, ‘stand sincerely before Allah, without being influenced by your own desires or tribal feelings, and ask one another, is Muhammad crazy Advise one another,’ “and reflect” means, let each person look within himself concerning the matter of Muhammad , and ask other people about him if he is still confused, then let him think about the matter. Allah says: “that you stand up for Allah’s sake in pairs and singly, and reflect, there is no madness in your companion.” This meaning was stated by Mujahid, Muhammad bin Kab, As-Suddi, Qatadah and others. (At-Tabari 20:418) This is what is meant by the Ayah. “He is only a warner to you in face of a severe torment.” Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, commented on this Ayah: “One day, the Prophet climbed up As-Safa’ and shouted,

“O people!”

The Quraysh gathered around him, and said, ‘What is the matter with you?’ He said,

“What do you think If I told you that the enemy were approaching and will reach us in the morning or in the evening, would you believe me?”

They said, ‘Of course.’ He said:

“I am a warner to you in the face of a severe punishment.”

Abu Lahab said, ‘May you perish! You have called us together only to tell us this’ Then Allah revealed: “Perish the two hands of Abu Lahab and perish he!” (111:1) We have already discussed this in our Tafsir of the Ayah: “And warn your tribe of near kindred” (26:214) (Fath Al-Bari 8:400)

{47. Say: “Whatever wage I might have asked of you is yours. My wage is from Allah only, and He is a Witness over all things.”

48. Say: “Verily, my Lord sends down the truth, the All-Knower of the Unseen.”

49. Say: “The truth has come, and the falsehood can neither create anything nor resurrect.”

50. Say: “If (even) I go astray, I shall stray only to my own loss. But if I remain guided, it is because of the Revelation of my Lord to me. Truly, He is All-Hearer, Ever Near.”}

I do not ask for any Reward for conveying the Message

Allah commands His Messenger to say to the idolators: “Whatever wage I might have asked of you is yours.” meaning, ‘I do not want anything for conveying the Message of Allah to you, advising you and telling you to worship Allah.’ My wage is from Allah only, means, rather I will seek the reward for that with Allah. “and He is a Witness over all things.” means, He knows all things, and He knows everything about me and the manner in which I am conveying the Message to you, and He knows all about you. “Say: “Verily, my Lord sends down the truth, the All-Knower of the Unseen.” This is like the Ayah: “He sends the Revelation by His command to any of His servants He wills” (40:15). meaning, He sends the angel to whomsoever He wills of His servants among the people on earth, and He is the All-Knower of the Unseen; nothing whatsoever is hidden from Him in the heavens or on earth. “Say: “The truth has come, and the falsehood can neither create anything nor resurrect.” means, truth and the great Law have come from Allah, and falsehood has gone and has perished and vanished. This is like the Ayah: “Nay, We fling the truth against the falsehood, so it destroys it, and behold, it is vanished” (21:18). When the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, entered Al-Masjid Al-Haram on the day of the conquest of Makkah, and found those idols standing around the Kabah, he started to hit the idols with his bow, reciting, “And say: “The truth has come and the falsehood has vanished. Surely, the falsehood is ever bound to vanish.” (17:81), and: “Say: “The truth has come, and the falsehood can neither create anything nor resurrect.” This was recorded by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i. (Fath Al-Bari 8:252, Muslim 3:1409, Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 8:573, An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:483) “Say: “If (even) I go astray, I shall stray only to my own loss. But if I remain guided, it is because of the Revelation of my Lord to me…” means, all good comes from Allah, and in what Allah sends down of revelation and clear truth there is guidance and wisdom. So whoever goes astray, does so by himself, as Abdullah bin Masud, may Allah be pleased with him, said when he was asked about some issue. He said, “I will say what I think, and if it is correct, then it is from Allah, and if it is wrong, then it is from me and from the Shaytan, and Allah and His Messenger have nothing to do with it.” (Abu Dawud 2:589) “Truly, He is All-Hearer, Ever Near.” means, He hears all the words of His servants, and He is always near to respond to them when they call on Him. An-Nasai recorded the Hadith of Abu Musa which also appears in the Two Sahihs:

“You are not calling upon one who is deaf or absent; you are calling upon One Who is All-Hearer, Ever Near and Responsive.” (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:438, Fath Al-Bari 9:157, Muslim 4:2076)

{51. And if you could but see, when they will be terrified with no escape, and they will be seized from a near place.

52. And they will say: “We do believe (now);” but how could they receive (Tanawush) from a place so far off.

53. Indeed they did disbelieve before (in this world), and they (used to) conjecture about the Unseen, from a far place.

54. And a barrier will be set between them and that which they desire, as was done in the past with the people of their kind. Verily, they have been in grave doubt.}

Here Allah says: ‘if only you could see, O Muhammad, when these deniers are terrified on the Day of Resurrection, and they have no way of escape and nowhere to run to and no refuge.’“and they will be seized from a near place.” means, they will not even be given the slightest chance of escape, but they will be seized from the first instant. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said: “When they come forth from their graves.” (At-Tabari 20:423) “And they will say: “We do believe (now)” means, on the Day of Resurrection, they will say, ‘we believe in Allah and His angels, Books and Messengers.’ This is like the Ayah: “And if you only could see when the criminals shall hang their heads before their Lord (saying): “Our Lord! We have now seen and heard, so send us back that we will do righteous good deeds. Verily, we now believe with certainty.” (32:12) Allah says: “but how could they receive from a place so far off” meaning, how could they attain faith now that they are so far removed from the place where it could be accepted from them, and they have entered the realm of the Hereafter which is the realm of reward and punishment, not the realm of trial and testing. If they had believed in this world, that would have been good for them, but now they have entered the Hereafter, there is no way that their faith can be accepted, just as there is no way a person can get a thing if he is far away from it. Mujahid said: “but how could they At-Tanawush?” means, ‘How could they attain that?’ (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:714)  Az-Zuhri said, They will wish to attain faith when they have reached the Hereafter and are cut off from this world. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, They will seek something when they have no way of attaining it, they will seek faith from a distant place. Indeed they did disbelieve before, means, how can they attain faith in the Hereafter when in this world they disbelieved in the truth and denied the Messengers “and they (used to) conjecture about the Unseen from a far place.” Malik narrated from Zayd bin Aslam that he said: “and they (used to) conjecture about the Unseen,” means, “By guessing.” as Allah says, “guessing at the Unseen” (18:22). Sometimes they said he was a poet, sometimes they said he was a soothsayer, or a sorcerer, or a mad man, or other baseless comments. They denied the idea of resurrection and said: “we do not think it but as a conjecture, and we have no firm convincing belief.” (45:32). Qatadah and Mujahid said, “Their belief that there would be no resurrection, no Paradise and no Hell was based on mere conjecture.” (At-Tabari 20:429) “And a barrier will be set between them and that which they desire,” Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Ad-Dahhak and others, ‘This means faith.” (At-Tabari 20:430) As-Suddi said: “And a barrier will be set between them and that which they desire,” means “Repentance.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:715) This was also the view of Ibn Jarir, may Allah have mercy on him. Mujahid said: “And a barrier will be set between them and that which they desire,” means, “This world and its wealth, luxuries and people.” (At-Tabari 20:431) Something similar was narrated from Ibn Umar, Ibn Abbas and Ar-Rabi bin Anas, may Allah be pleased with him. It is also the opinion of Al-Bukhari and the Group. The correct view is that there is no contradiction between the two views, for a barrier will be set between them and what they desire in this world, and what they seek in the Hereafter will be denied from them. “as was done in the past with the people of their kind.” means, as happened to the nations of the past who disbelieved in the Messengers; when the punishment of Allah came upon them, they wished that they had believed, but this was not accepted from them. “So, when they saw Our punishment, they said: “We believe in Allah Alone and reject (all) that we used to associate with Him as (His) partners. “Then their faith could not avail them when they saw Our punishment. (Like) this has been the way of Allah in dealing with His servants. And there the disbelievers lost utterly.” (40:84-85). “Verily, they have been in grave doubt.” means, in this world they had doubts, so their faith will not be accepted from them when they behold the punishment with their own eyes. Qatadah said, ‘Beware of doubt. For whoever dies doubting, will be raised doubting, and whoever dies believing, with certainty will be raised believing with certainty.’

This is the end of the Tafsir of Surah Saba.

Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, is the Guide to the right way.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 8 Pages 99-118

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Surah Saba Ayat 18-33

{18. And We placed, between them and the towns which We had blessed, towns easy to be seen, and We made the stages (of journey) between them easy (saying): “Travel in them safely both by night and day.”

19. But they said: “Our Lord! Make the stages between our journey longer,” and they wronged themselves; so We made them as tales (in the land), and We dispersed them all totally. Verily, in this are indeed signs for every steadfast, grateful (person).}

The Trade of Saba’ and Their Destruction

Allah tells us about the blessings which the people of Saba’ enjoyed, and the luxuries and plentiful provision which was theirs in their land, with its secure dwellings and towns which were joined to one another, with many trees, crops and fruits. When they traveled, they had no need to carry provisions or water with them; wherever they stopped, they would find water and fruits, so they could take their noontime rest in one town, and stay overnight in another, according to their needs on their journey. Allah says: “And We placed, between them and the towns which We had blessed,” Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Said bin Jubayr and Malik, who narrated it from Zayd bin Aslam, and Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, As-Suddi, Ibn Zayd and others – all said that this means the towns of Syria. It means they used to travel from Yemen to Syria via towns easy to be seen and connected to one another. (At-Tabari 20:386) Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas said, ” The towns which We had blessed by putting Jerusalem among them.” (At-Tabari 20:386) towns easy to be seen, meaning, clear and visible, known to travelers, so they could take their noontime rest in one town and stay overnight in another. Allah says: “and We made the stages (of journey) between them easy” meaning, ‘We made it in a way that met the needs of the travelers.’ “Travel in them safely both by night and day” means, those who travel in them will be safe both by night and by day. “But they said: “Our Lord! Make the stages between our journey longer,” and they wronged themselves;” They failed to appreciate this blessing, as Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Al-Hasan and others said: “They wanted to travel long distances through empty wilderness where they would need to carry provisions with them and would have to travel through intense heat in a state of fear.” “So We made them as tales (in the land), and We dispersed them all totally.” means, ‘We made them something for people to talk about when they converse in the evening, how Allah plotted against them and dispersed them after they had been together living a life of luxury, and they were scattered here and there throughout the land.’ So, the Arabs say of a people when they are dispersed, “They have been scattered like Saba’,” in all directions. “Verily, in this are indeed signs for every steadfast, grateful.” In the punishment which these people suffered, the way in which their blessings and good health were turned into vengeance for their disbelief and sins, is a lesson and an indication for every person who is steadfast in the face of adversity and grateful for blessings. Imam Ahmad recorded that Sad bin Abi Waqqas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“I am amazed at what Allah has decreed for the believer; if something good befalls him, He praises his Lord and gives thanks, and if something bad befalls him, he praises his Lord and has patience. The believer will be rewarded for everything, even the morsel of food which he lifts to his wife’s mouth.” (Ahmad 1:173)

This was also recorded by An-Nasa’i in Al-Yawm wal-Laylah. (An Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:263) There is a corroborating report in the Two Sahihs, where a Hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, says:

“How amazing is the affair of the believer! Allah does not decree anything for him but it is good for him. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks, and that is good for him; if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him. This is not for anyone except the believer.” (Fath Al-Bari 10:107)

It was reported that Qatadah said: “Verily, in this are indeed signs for every steadfast, grateful.” It was Mutarrif who used to say: “How blessed is the grateful, patient servant. If he is given something, he gives thanks, and if he is tested, he bears it with patience.” (Muslim 4:1992)

{20. And indeed Iblis did prove true his thought about them, and they followed him, all except a group of true believers.

21. And he had no authority over them, – except that We might test him who believes in the Hereafter, from him who is in doubt about it. And your Lord is Watchful over everything.}

How Iblis’ thought about the Disbeliever proved True

Having mentioned Saba’ and how they followed their desires, and the Shaytan, Allah tells us about their counterparts among those who follow Iblis and their own desires, and who go against wisdom and true guidance. Allah says: “And indeed Iblis did prove true his thought about them,” Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, and others (At-Tabari 20:392) said that this Ayah is like the Ayah where Allah tells us about how Iblis refused to prostrate to Adam, peace be upon him, then said: “See this one whom You have honored above me, if You give me respite to the Day of Resurrection, I will surely seize and mislead his offspring all but a few!” (17:62) “Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones.” (7:17) And there are many Ayat which refer to this matter. “And he (Iblis) had no authority over them,” Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him said, “This means, he had no proof.” “except that We might test him who believes in the Hereafter, from him who is in doubt about it.” means, ‘We gave him power over them only to show who believes in the Hereafter and that it will come to pass.’ The people will be brought to account and rewarded or punished accordingly, so that he will worship his Lord properly in this world – and to distinguish these believers from those who are in doubt about the Hereafter.

“And your Lord is a Watchful over everything.” means, despite His watching, those who follow Iblis go astray, but by His watching and care, the believers who follow the Messengers are saved.

{22. Say: “Call upon those whom you assert besides Allah, they possess not even the weight of a speck of dust, either in the heavens or on the earth, nor have they any share in either, nor there is for Him any supporter from among them. ”

23. Intercession with Him profits not except for him whom He permits. So much so that when fear is banished from their hearts, they say: “What is it that your Lord has said” They say the truth. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.}

The Helplessness of the gods of the Idolators Here

Allah states clearly that He is the One and Only God, the Self-Sufficient Master, Who has no peer or partner; He is independent in His command and there is no one who can share or dispute with Him in that, or overturn His command. So, He says: “Say: “Call upon those whom you assert besides Allah…” meaning, the gods who are worshipped besides Allah. “they possess not even the weight of a speck of dust, either in the heavens or on the earth,” This is like the Ayah: “And those, whom you invoke or call upon instead of Him, own not even a Qitmir [the thin membrane over a date stone]” (35:13). nor have they any share in either, means, they do not possess anything, either independently or as partners. “nor there is for Him any supporter from among them.” means, nor does Allah have among these rivals any whose support He seeks in any matter; on the contrary, all of creation is in need of Him and is enslaved by Him. Then Allah says: “Intercession with Him profits not except for him whom He permits.” meaning, because of His might, majesty and pride, no one would dare to intercede with Him in any matter, except after being granted His permission to intercede. As Allah says: “Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His permission?” (2:255), “And there are many angels in the heavens, whose intercession will avail nothing except after Allah has given leave for whom He wills and is pleased with.” (53:26) “and they cannot intercede except for him with whom He is pleased. And they stand in awe for fear of Him” (21:28). It was reported in the Two Sahihs through more than one chain of narration that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who is the leader of the sons of Adam and the greatest intercessor before Allah, will go to stand in Al-Maqam Al-Mahmud (the praised position) to intercede for all of mankind when their Lord comes to pass judgement upon them. He said:

“Then I will prostrate to Allah, may He be exalted, and He will leave me (in that position), as long as Allah wills, and He will inspire me to speak words of praise which I cannot mention now. Then it will be said, “O Muhammad, raise your head. Speak, you will be heard; ask, you will be given; intercede, your intercession will be accepted…” (Fath Al-Bari 8:248, Muslim 1:185) 

“So much so that when fear is banished from their hearts, they say: “What is it that your Lord has said?” They say the truth.” This also refers to the great degree of His might and power. When He speaks words of revelation, the inhabitants of the heavens hear what He says, and they tremble with fear (of Allah) so much that they swoon. This was the view of Ibn Masud, may Allah be pleased with him, Masruq and others. (At-Tabari 20:396) “So much so that when fear is banished from their hearts,” means, when the fear leaves their hearts. Ibn Abbas, Ibn Umar, Abu Abdur-Rahman As-Sulami, Ash-Shabi, Ibrahim An-Nakhai, Ad-Dhahhak, Al-Hasan and Qatadah said concerning the Ayah, “So much so that when fear is banished from their hearts, they say: “What is it that your Lord has said?” They say the truth.”“When the fear is lifted from their hearts.” When this happens, some of them say to others, “What did your Lord say?” Those (angels) who are carrying the Throne tell those who are next to them, then they in turn pass it on to those who are next to them, and so on, until the news reaches the inhabitants of the lowest heaven. Allah says, “They say the truth,” meaning, they report what He said, without adding or taking away anything. “And He is the Most High, the Most Great.” In his Tafsir of this Ayah in his Sahih, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him said, “The Prophet of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“When Allah decrees a matter in heaven, the angels beat their wings in submission to His Words, making a sound like a chain striking a smooth rock. When the fear is banished from their hearts, they say, “What is it that your Lord has said?” They say the truth, and He is the Most High, the Most Great. Then the one who is listening out hears that, and those who are listening out are standing one above the other” – Sufyan [one of the narrators] demonstrated with his hand, holding it vertically with the fingers outspread. – “So he hears what is said and passes it on to the one below him, and that one passes it to the one who is below him, and so on until it reaches the lips of the soothsayer or fortune-teller. Maybe a meteor will hit him before he can pass anything on, or maybe he will pass it on before he is hit. He tells a hundred lies alongside it, but it will be said, “Did he not tell us that on such and such a day, such and such would happen?” So they believe him because of the one thing which was heard from heaven.”

This was recorded by Al-Bukhari, not by Muslim. (Father Al-Bari 8:398) Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah also recorded it. (Abu Dawud 4:288) And Allah knows best.

{24. Say: “Who gives you provision from the heavens and the earth?” Say: “Allah. And verily, (either) we or you are rightly guided or in plain error.”

25. Say: “You will not be asked about our sins, nor shall we be asked of what you do.”

26. Say: “Our Lord will assemble us all together, then He will judge between us with truth. And He is the Just Judge, the All-Knower of the true state of affairs.”

27. Say: “Show me those whom you have joined with Him as partners. Nay! But He is Allah, the Almighty, the All-Wise.”}

Allah has no partner in anything whatsoever

Allah tells us that He is unique in His power of creation and His giving of provision, and that He is unique in His divinity also. As they used to admit that no one in heaven or on earth except Allah gave them provision, i.e., by sending down water and causing crops to grow, so they should also realize that there is no god worthy of worship besides Him. “And verily, (either) we or you are rightly guided or in plain error.” ‘One of the two sides must be speaking falsehood, and one must be telling the truth. There is no way that you and we could both be following true guidance, or could both be misguided. Only one of us can be correct, and we have produced the proof of Tawhid which indicates that your Shirk must be false.’ Allah says: “And verily, (either) we or you are rightly guided or in plain error.” Qatadah said, “The Companions of Muhammad said this to the idolators: ‘By Allah, we and you cannot be following the same thing, only one of us can be truly guided.” (At-Tabari 20:401) Ikrimah and Ziyad bin Abi Maryam said, “It means: we are rightly guided and you are in plain error.” (At-Tabari 20:401)

“Say: “You will not be asked about our sins, nor shall we be asked of what you do.” This indicates disowning them, saying, ‘you do not belong to us and we do not belong to you, because we call people to Allah, to believe that He is the Only God and to worship Him alone. If you respond, then you will belong to us and we to you, but if you reject our call, then we have nothing to do with you and you have nothing to do with us.’ This is like the Ayat: “And if they deny you, say: “For me are my deeds and for you are your deeds! You are innocent of what I do, and I am innocent of what you do!” (10:41) “Say: “O disbelievers! I worship not that which you worship, Nor will you worship that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping. Nor will you worship that which I worship. To you be your religion, and to me my religion.” (104:1-6). “Say: “Our Lord will assemble us all together…” means, ‘on the Day of Resurrection, He will bring all of creation together in one arena, then He will judge between us with truth, i.e., with justice.’ Each person will be rewarded or punished according to his deeds; if they are good, then his end will be good, and if they are bad, then his end will be bad. On that Day they will know who has attained victory, glory and eternal happiness, as Allah says: “And on the Day when the Hour will be established — that Day shall (all men) be separated. Then as for those who believed and did righteous good deeds, such shall be honored and made to enjoy luxurious life (forever) in a Garden of Delight. And as for those who disbelieved and denied Our Ayat, and the meeting of the Hereafter, such shall be brought forth to the torment.” (30:14-16). Allah says: “And He is the Just Judge, the All-Knower of the true state of affairs.” “Say: “Show me those whom you have joined with Him as partners…” means, ‘show me those gods whom you made as rivals and equals to Allah.’ Nay means, He has no peer, rival, partner or equal. Allah says: But He is Allah, meaning, the One and Only God Who has no partner. “the Almighty, the All-Wise.” means, the Owner of might with which He subjugates and controls all things, the One Who is Wise in all His Words and deeds, Laws and decrees. Blessed and exalted and sanctified be He far above all that they say. And Allah knows best. (At-Tabari 20:405)

{28. And We have not sent you except as a giver of glad tidings and a warner to all mankind, and most of men know not.

29. And they say: “When is this promise if you are truthful?”

30. Say: “The appointment to you is for a Day, which you cannot put back for an hour nor put forward.”}

The Prophet was sent to all of Mankind

Allah says to His servant and Messenger Muhammad: “And We have not sent you except as a giver of glad tidings and a warner to all mankind,” i.e., to all of creation among those who are accountable for their deeds. This is like the Ayah: “Say: “O mankind! Verily, I am sent to you all as the Messenger of Allah.” (7:158) “Blessed be He Who sent down the Criterion to His servant that he may be a warner to the all creatures.” (25:1) a giver of glad tidings and a warner means, to bring the glad tidings of Paradise to those who obey you and to warn of the fire of Hell to those who disobey you. This is like the Ayat: “and most of men know not.” “And most of mankind will not believe even if you desire it eagerly.” (12:103) “And if you obey most of those on the earth, they will mislead you far away from Allah’s path” (6:116). Muhammad bin Kab said concerning the Ayah: “And We have not sent you except to all mankind” meaning, to all the people. Qatadah said concerning this Ayah, “Allah, may He be exalted, sent Muhammad to both the Arabs and the non-Arabs, so the most honored of them with Allah is the one who is most obedient to Allah.” (At-Tabari 20:405)

In the Two Sahihs it was reported that Jabir, may Allah be pleased with him said, “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“I have been given five things which were not given to any of the Prophets before me. I have been aided by fear (the distance of) a month’s journey. The entire earth has been made a Masjid and a means of purification for me, so that when the time for prayer comes, any man of my Ummah should pray. The spoils of war have been made permissible for me, whereas they were not permitted for any before me. I have been given the power of intercession; and the Prophets before me were sent to their own people, but I have been sent to all of mankind.” (Fath Al-Bari 1:519, Muslim 1:370)

It was also recorded in the Sahih that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“I have been sent to the black and the red.”

Mujahid said, “This means to the Jinn and to mankind.” (Ahmad 5:145) Others said that it meant the Arabs and the non-Arabs. Both meanings are correct.

How the Disbelievers asked about when the Resurrection would happen, and the Response to Them

Allah tells us how the disbelievers believed it unlikely that the Hour would ever come to pass: “And they say: “When is this promise if you are truthful” This is like the Ayah: “Those who believe not therein seek to hasten it, while those who believe are fearful of it, and know that it is the very truth…” (42:18) Then Allah says: “Say: “The appointment to you is for a Day, which you cannot for an hour move back nor forward.” meaning, ‘you have an appointed time which is fixed and cannot be changed or altered. When it comes, you will not be able to put it back or bring it forward,’ as Allah says: “Verily, the term of Allah when it comes, cannot be delayed” (71:4). “And We delay it only for a term (already) fixed. On the Day when it comes, no person shall speak except by His leave. Some among them will be wretched and (others) blessed.” (11:104-105).

{31. And those who disbelieve say: “We believe not in this Qur’an nor in that which was before it.” But if you could see when the wrongdoers are made to stand before their Lord, how they will cast the (blaming) word one to another! Those who were deemed weak will say to those who were arrogant: “Had it not been for you, we should certainly have been believers!”

32. And those who were arrogant will say to those who were deemed weak: “Did we keep you back from guidance after it had come to you? Nay, but you were criminals.”

33. Those who were deemed weak will say to those who were arrogant: “Nay, but it was your plotting by night and day, when you ordered us to disbelieve in Allah and set up rivals to Him!” And each of them (parties) will conceal their own regrets, when they behold the torment. And We shall put iron collars round the necks of those who disbelieved. Are they requited aught except what they used to do?}

How the Disbelievers have Agreed in this World to Deny the Truth, and How they Will Dispute with One Another on the Day of Resurrection

Allah tells us about the excessive wrongdoing and stubbornness of the disbelievers, and their insistence on not believing in the Holy Qur’an and what it tells them about the Resurrection. Allah says: “And those who disbelieve say: “We believe not in this Qur’an nor in that which was before it.” Allah threatens them and warns them of the humiliating position they will be in before Him, arguing and disputing with one another: “how they will cast the (blaming) word one to another! Those who were deemed weak” this refers to the followers – to those who were arrogant – this refers to the leaders and masters – “Had it not been for you, we should certainly have been believers!” meaning, ‘if you had not stopped us, we would have followed the Messengers and believed in what they brought.’ Their leaders and masters, those who were arrogant, will say to them: “Did we keep you back from guidance after it had come to you?” meaning, ‘We did nothing more to you than to call you, and you followed us without any evidence or proof, and you went against the evidence and proof which the Messengers brought because of your own desires; it was your own choice.’ They will say: “…Nay, but you were criminals.” Those who were deemed weak will say to those who were arrogant: “Nay, but it was your plotting by night and day…” meaning, ‘you used to plot against us night and day, tempting us with promises and false hopes, and telling us that we were truly guided and that we were following something, but all of that was falsehood and manifest lies.’ Qatadah and Ibn Zayd said: “Nay, but it was your plotting by night and day,” means, “You plotted by night and day.” (At-Tabari 20:408) Malik narrated something similar from Zayd bin Aslam. (At-Tabari 20:408) “When you ordered us to disbelieve in Allah and set up rivals to Him!” means, ‘To set up gods as equal to Him, and you created doubts and confusion in our minds, and you fabricated far-fetched ideas with which to lead us astray.’ “And each of them (parties) will conceal their own regrets, when they behold the torment.” means, both the leaders and the followers will feel regret for what they did previously. “And We shall put iron collars round the necks of those who disbelieved.” This is a chain which will tie their hands to their necks. “Are they requited aught except what they used to do?” means, they will be punished according to their deeds: the leaders will be punished according to what they did, and the followers will be punished according to what they did. “He will say: “For each one there is double (torment), but you know not.” (7:38). Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“When the people of Hell are driven towards it, it will meet them with its flames, then the Fire will burn their faces and the flesh will all fall to their hamstrings.”

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 8 Pages 80-99

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Surah Saba Ayat 1-17

Surah Saba

Chapter 34

Which was revealed in Makkah

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

{1. All praise is due to Allah, to Whom belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth. His is all praise in the Hereafter, and He is the All-Wise, the All-Aware.

2. He knows that which goes into the earth and that which comes forth from it, and that which descends from the heaven and that which ascends to it. And He is the Most Merciful, the Oft-Forgiving.}

All Praise and the Knowledge of the Unseen belong to Allah Alone

Allah tells us that all praise belongs to Him alone in this world and in the Hereafter, because He is the Giver and Bestower who gives to the people of this world and the Hereafter, the Sovereign and Controller of all. Allah says: “And He is Allah; none has the right to be worshipped but He, all praise is due to Him (both) in the first (i.e., in this world) and in the last (the Hereafter). And for Him is the decision, and to Him shall you (all) be returned.” (28:70). Allah says: “All praise is due to Allah, to Whom belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth.” meaning, all of it is His dominion and is enslaved by Him and subject to His control, as Allah says: “And truly, unto Us (belong) the last (Hereafter) and the first (this world)” (92:13). Then Allah says: “His is all praise in the Hereafter,” for He is the One Who will be worshipped forever and praised for eternity. “and He is the All-Wise” means, in all that He says and does, legislates and decrees. “the All-Aware.” from Whom nothing at all is hidden or concealed. Malik narrated that Az-Zuhri said, He is All-Aware of His creation, All-Wise in His commands. Allah says: “He knows that which goes into the earth and that which comes forth from it,” meaning, He knows the number of raindrops that sink into the depths of the earth, and the seeds that have been sown, and the things that are hidden in it, and He knows what comes forth from that, how many they are, how they grow and what they look like. “and that which descends from the heaven” means, of raindrops and provision, and what ascends into it, i.e., righteous deeds and other things. “And He is the Most Merciful, the Oft-Forgiving.” means, He is Most Merciful to His servants; He does not hasten to punish them, and He forgives the sins of those who repent to Him and put their trust in Him.

{3. Those who disbelieve say: “The Hour will not come to us.” Say: “Yes, by my Lord, the All-Knower of the Unseen, it will come to you; not even the weight of a speck of dust or less than that or greater escapes His knowledge in the heavens or in the earth but it is in a Clear Book.”

4. That He may recompense those who believe and do righteous good deeds. Those, theirs is forgiveness and generous provision.

5. But those who strive against Our Ayat to frustrate them — those, for them will be a severe painful torment.

6. And those who have been given knowledge see that what is revealed to you from your Lord is the truth, and that it guides to the path of the Exalted in might, Owner of all praise.}

The Hour will come so that each Person will be rewarded or punished in accordance with His Deeds

This is one of three Ayat – there is no fourth – where Allah commands His Messenger to swear by His Almighty Lord that the resurrection will surely come, because the stubborn followers of disbelief denied that it would happen. One of these Ayat is in Surah Yunus, where Allah says: “And they ask you to inform them (saying): “Is it true?” Say: “Yes! By my Lord! It is the very truth! and you cannot escape it!” (10:53). The second of these Ayat is this one: “Those who disbelieve say: “The Hour will not come to us.” Say: “Yes, by my Lord, it will come to you…”. And the third of them appears in Surat At-Taghabun, where Allah says: “The disbelievers pretend that they will never be resurrected (for reckoning). Say: “Yes! By my Lord, you will certainly be resurrected, then you will be informed of what you did; and that is easy for Allah” (64:7). And Allah says here: “Say: “Yes, by my Lord, it will come to you…” Then Allah is described in a manner that affirms that: “the All-Knower of the Unseen, not even the weight of a speck of dust or less than that or greater escapes His knowledge in the heavens or in the earth but it is in a Clear Book.” Mujahid and Qatadah said, “Nothing is hidden or concealed from Him.” (At-Tabari 20:350) In other words, everything is encompassed by His knowledge, and nothing is hidden from Him. Even though bones may be scattered and disintegrate, He knows where they have gone and where they have dispersed, then He will bring them back just as He created them in the first place, because He has knowledge of all things. Then Allah tells us of His wisdom in re-creating bodies and bringing about the Hour, as He says: “That He may recompense those who believe and do righteous good deeds. Those, theirs is forgiveness and generous provision. But those who strive against Our Ayat to frustrate them” meaning, those who try to turn others away from the path of Allah and who disbelieve His Messengers, “those, for them will be a severe painful torment.” This means, He will bestow His favor upon the blessed, who are the believers, and will punish the doomed, who are the disbelievers. This is like the Ayah: “Not equal are the dwellers of the Fire and the dwellers of the Paradise. It is the dwellers of Paradise that will be successful.” (59:20) “Shall We treat those who believe and do righteous good deeds like those who cause mischief on the earth? Or shall We treat those who have Taqwa as the evildoers?” (38:28) “And those who have been given knowledge see that what is revealed to you from your Lord is the truth,” This is another kind of wisdom, following on from the one before, which is that when those who believed in what was revealed to the Messengers see the onset of the Hour and how the righteous and the wicked will be rewarded and punished respectively, which they knew of beforehand in this world from the Books of Allah and which they are now seeing with their own eyes, they will say: “Indeed, the Messengers of our Lord did come with the truth.” (7:43). And it will be said: “This is what the Most Gracious had promised, and the Messengers spoke truth!” (36:52) “Indeed you have stayed according to the decree of Allah, until the Day of Resurrection; so this is the Day of Resurrection” (30:56), “And those who have been given knowledge see that what is revealed to you from your Lord is the truth, and that it guides to the path of the Exalted in might, Owner of all praise.” The Exalted in might is the One Who is All-Powerful, Whom none can overwhelm or resist, but He subjugates and controls all things. The Owner of All praise is the One Who, in all His words, deeds, laws and decrees, is deserving of praise, may He be glorified and exalted.

{7. Those who disbelieve say: “Shall we direct you to a man who will tell you (that) when you have become fully disintegrated into dust with full dispersion, then you will be created (again) anew?”

8. Has he invented a lie against Allah, or is there a madness in him? Nay, but those who disbelieve in the Hereafter are (themselves) in a torment, and in far error.

9. See they not what is before them and what is behind them, of the heaven and the earth? If We will, We shall sink the earth with them, or cause a piece of the heaven to fall upon them. Verily, in this is a sign for every servant who turns (to Allah) in repentance.}

The Disbelievers’ Denial of Life after Death, and the Refutation of Their View

Here Allah tells us how the disbelievers and heretics denied that the Hour will come, and mocked the Messenger for speaking of it. “Those who disbelieve say: “Shall we direct you to a man who will tell you (that) when you have become fully disintegrated into dust with full dispersion…” means, when your bodies have disintegrated into the earth and dispersed without a trace, “then you” means, after this has happened, “will be created (again) anew” means, you will be restored to life and will receive provision anew. ‘By telling us this, he is doing one of two things: either he is deliberately fabricating something and saying that Allah has revealed it to him, or he is not doing it deliberately, but he is deluded as crazy and insane people are.’ They said: “Has he invented a lie against Allah, or is there a madness in him?” Allah said, refuting their words: “Nay, but those who disbelieve in the Hereafter are (themselves) in a torment, and in far error.” meaning, the matter is not as they claim or as they think; on the contrary, Muhammad is the one who is telling the truth, and is righteous and wise; he is the one who has brought the truth, and they are the foolish and ignorant liars. “are themselves in a torment”, means, their disbelief, which will lead them to the torment of Allah. “and in far error.” far from the truth in this world. Then Allah warns them of His power in the creation of heavens and earth, as He says: “See they not what is before them and what is behind them, of the heaven and the earth?” meaning, wherever they go, in whatever direction, the heavens are above them and the earth is beneath them. This is like the Ayah: “With Hands did We construct the heaven. Verily, We are Able to extend the vastness of space thereof. And We have spread out the earth; how Excellent Spreader (thereof) are We!” (51:47-48) “If We will, We shall sink the earth with them, or cause a piece of the heaven to fall upon them.” means, ‘if We wished, We could do that to them because of their wrongdoing and Our power over them, but We delay it because We are Patient and Forgiving.’ Then Allah says: “Verily, in this is a sign for every Munib servant.” Mamar narrating from Qatadah, said that Al-Munib means every one who repents. (Abdur-Razzaq 3:126) Sufyan narrated from Qatadah, that Al-Munib is the one who turns to Allah. (At-Tabari 20:356) This means that in looking at the creation of the heavens and the earth, there is a sign for every servant who is intelligent and wise and who turns towards Allah. There is a sign of the Allah’s ability to recreate bodies and bring about the Resurrection, because the One Who was able to create these heavens – with their vast reaches of space, and this earth, as deep and vast as it is – is able to recreate bodies and revive decayed bones. This is like the Ayat: “Is not He Who created the heavens and the earth, Able to create the like of them Yes, indeed!” (36:81) “The creation of the heavens and the earth is indeed greater than the creation of mankind; yet, most of mankind know not.” (40:57)

{10. And indeed We bestowed grace on Dawud from Us (saying): “O you mountains! Glorify with him! And you birds (also)! And We made the iron soft for him.”

11. Saying: “Make you perfect coats of mail, and balance well the rings of chain armour [Sard], and work you (men) righteousness. Truly, I am All-Seer of what you do.”}

The Favours which Allah bestowed upon Dawud

Here Allah tells us how He blessed His servant and Messenger Dawud (David), peace be upon him, and what He gave him of His great bounty, giving him both prophethood and kingship, and huge numbers of troops. And He blessed him with a mighty voice. Such that when he glorified Allah, the firm, solid, high mountains joined him in glorifying Allah, and the free-roaming birds, who go out in the morning and come back in the evening, stopped for him, and he was able to speak all languages.

In the Sahih it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah heard the voice of Abu Musa Al-Ashari, may Allah be pleased with him, reciting at night, and he stopped and listened to his recitation, then he said:

“This man has been given one of the sweet melodious voices of the Prophet Dawud.” (Muslim 1:546)

Abu Uthman An-Nahdi said, “I never heard any cymbal, stringed instrument or chord that was more beautiful than the voice of Abu Musa Al-Ashari, may Allah be pleased with him.” (Fadail Al-Qur’an by Abu Ubayd p79) “Glorify” means, glorify Allah. This was the view of Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and others. (At-Tabari 20:357) The root of this word [Ta’wib] means to repeat or respond, so the mountains and birds were commanded to repeat after him. And We made the iron soft for him. Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Qatadah, Al-Amash and others said, He did not need to heat it in the fire or beat it with a hammer; he could simply twist it in his hands, like a thread. (At-Tabari 20:359) Allah said: “Saying: Make you perfect coats of mail...”  which means chain mail. Qatadah said, “He was the first person ever to make chain mail; before that, they used to wear plated armour.” (At-Tabari 20:359) “and balance well the rings of chain armor [Sard],” This is how Allah taught His Prophet Dawud, peace be upon him, to make coats of mail. Mujahid said concerning the Ayah: “and balance well the rings of chain armor [Sard],” “Do not make the rivets too loose that the rings (of chain mail) will shake, or make them too tight that they will not be able to move at all, but make it just right.” (At-Tabari 20:361) Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said, “Sard refers to a ring of iron.” Some of them said, “Chain mail is called Masrud if it is held together with rivets.” “and work you (men) righteousness.” means, with regard to what Allah has given you of blessings. “Truly, I am All-Seer of what you do.” means, watching you and seeing all that you do and say; nothing of that is hidden at all.

{12. And to Sulayman (We subjected) the wind, its morning was a month’s (journey), and its afternoon was a month’s (journey). And We caused a fount of Qitr to flow for him, and there were Jinn that worked in front of him, by the leave of his Lord. And whosoever of them turned aside from Our command, We shall cause him to taste of the torment of the blazing Fire.

13. They worked for him as he desired on Maharib, Tamathil, large basins like Jawab and Qudur Rasiyat. “Work you, O family of Dawud, with thanks!” But few of My servants are grateful.}

The Favours which Allah bestowed upon Sulayman

Having mentioned the blessings with which He favored Dawud, Allah follows this by mentioning what He gave to Dawud’s son Sulayman (Solomon), may peace be upon them both. He subjugated the wind to him, so that it would carry his carpet one way for a month, then back again the next month. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “He set out from Damascus in the morning, landed in Istakhar where he ate a meal, then flew on from Istakhar and spent the night in Kabil.” (At-Tabari 20:362) Between Damascus and Istakhar is an entire month’s travel for a swift rider, and between Istakhar and Kabul is an entire month’s travel for a swift rider. “And We caused a fount Qitr to flow for him,” Ibn Abbas, may Allah be plased with him, Mujahid, Ikrimah, Ata’ Al-Khurasani, Qatadah, As-Suddi, Malik from Zayd bin Aslam, Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam and others said, “Qitr means copper.” (At-Tabari 20:363, 364) Qatadah said, “It was in Yemen.” (At-Tabari 20:363) Allah brought forth all the things that people make for Sulayman, peace be upon him. “and there were Jinn that worked in front of him, by the leave of his Lord.” means, ‘We subjugated the Jinn to work in front of him,’ by the permission of his Lord, i.e., by Allah’s decree and subjugation, they built whatever constructions he wanted, and did other work as well. “And whosoever of them turned aside from Our command,” means, whoever among them tried to rebel and disobey, “We shall cause him to taste of the torment of the blazing Fire.” which means, burning. “They worked for him as he desired on Maharib, Tamathil,” Maharib refers to beautiful structures, the best and innermost part of a dwelling. Ibn Zayd said, “This means dwellings.” (At-Tabari 20:365) With regard to “Tamathil,” Atiyah Al-Awfi, Ad-Dahhak and As-Suddi said that Tamathil means pictures. (At-Tabari 20:366) “large basins like Jawab and Qudur Rasiyat.” Jawab, the plural form of Jabiyah, refers to cisterns or tanks in which water is held, and Qudur Rasiyat are cauldrons that stay in one place and are not moved around because of their great size. This was the view of Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak and others. (At-Tabari 20:367) “Work you, O family of Dawud, with thanks!” means, ‘We said to them: Work with thanks for the blessings that We have bestowed upon you in this world and the Hereafter.’ This indicates that thanks may be expressed by actions as much as by words and intentions.

Abu Abdur-Rahman Al-Hubuli said, “Prayer is thanks, fasting is thanks, every good deed that you do for the sake of Allah is thanks, and the best of thanks is praise.” This was recorded by Ibn Jarir. (At-Tabari 20:369) In the Two Sahihs, it is reported that the Messenger of Allah said:

“The most beloved of prayer to Allah is the prayer of Dawud. He used to sleep for half the night, stand in prayer for a third of it and sleep for a sixth of it. The most beloved of fasting to Allah is the fasting of Dawud. He used to fast for a day then not fast for a day, and he never fled the battlefield.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:525, Muslim 2:816)

Ibn Abi Hatim narrated that Fudayl said concerning the Ayah: “Work you, O family of Dawud, with thanks!” Dawud said, “O Lord! How can I thank you when thanks itself is a blessing from You?” He said: “Now you have truly given thanks to Me, for you have realized that it is a blessing from Me.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:680) “But few of My servants are grateful.” This is a reflection of reality.

{14. Then when We decreed death for him, nothing informed them (Jinn) of his death except a little worm of the earth which kept (slowly) gnawing away at his stick. So when he fell down, the Jinn saw clearly that if they had known the Unseen, they would not have stayed in the humiliating torment.}

The Death of Sulayman

Allah tells us how Sulayman, peace be upon him, died and how Allah concealed his death from the Jinn who were subjugated to him to do hard labour. He remained leaning on his stick, which was his staff, as Ibn Abbas may Allah be pleased with him, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and others said. (At-Tabari 20:370) He stayed like that for a long time, nearly a year. When a creature of the earth, which was a kind of worm, ate through the stick, it became weak and fell to the ground. Then it became apparent that he had died a long time before. It also became clear to Jinn and men alike that the Jinn do not know the Unseen as they (the Jinn) used to imagine and tried to deceive people. This is what Allah says: “nothing informed them (Jinn) of his death except a little worm of the earth which kept (slowly) gnawing away at his stick. So when he fell down, the Jinn saw clearly that if they had known the Unseen, they would not have stayed in the humiliating torment.” meaning, it became clear to the people that they (the Jinn) were lying.

{15. Indeed there was for Saba a sign in their dwelling place — two gardens on the right and on the left; (and it was said to them) “Eat of the provision of your Lord, and be grateful to Him.” A fair land and an Oft-Forgiving Lord!

16. But they turned away, so We sent against them flood released from the dam, and We converted their two gardens into gardens producing bitter bad fruit, and Athl, and some few lote trees.

17. Like this We requited them because they were ungrateful disbelievers. And never do We requite in such a way except those who are ungrateful (disbelievers).}

The Disbelief of Saba (Sheba) and Their Punishment

Saba refers to the kings and people of the Yemen. At-Tababaah (Tubba) surname of the ancient kings of Yemen were part of them, and Bilqis, the queen who met Sulayman, peace be upon him, was also one of them. They lived a life of enviable luxury in their land with plentiful provision, crops and fruits. Allah sent them messengers telling them to eat of His provision and give thanks to Him by worshipping Him alone, and they followed that for as long as Allah willed, then they turned away from that which they had been commanded to do. So they were punished with a flood which scattered them throughout the lands around Saba in all directions, as we will see in detail below, if Allah wills. In Him we put our trust.

Ibn Jarir recorded that Farwah bin Musayk Al-Ghutayfi, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “A man said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Tell me about Saba – what was it, a land or a woman?’ He said:

“It was neither a land nor a woman. It was a man who had ten children, six of whom went Yemen and four of whom went Ash-Sham. Those who went Ash-Sham were Lakhm, Judham, Amilah and Ghassan. Those who went south were Kindah, Al-Ashariyyun, Al-Azd, Madhhij, Himyar and Anmar.”

A man asked, ‘Who are Anmar?’ He said:

“Those among whom are Khatham and Bajilah.” (At-Tabari 20:375)

This was recorded by At-Tirmidhi in his Jami [Sunan] in more detail than this; then he said, “This is a Hasan Gharib Hadith.” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 9:88)

The genealogists – including Muhammad bin Ishaq – said, “The name of Saba was Abd Shams bin Yashjub bin Yarub bin Qahtan; he was called Saba because he was the first Arab tribe to disperse. He was also known as Ar-Ra’ish, because he was the first one to take booty in war and give it to his people, so he was called Ar-Ra’ish; because the Arabs call wealth Rish or Riyash.

They differ over Qahtan, about whom there were three views. (The first) he descended from the line of Iram bin Sam bin Nuh, then there were three different views over how he descended from him. (The second) was that he was descended from Abir, another name for Hud, peace be upon him, then there were also three different views over exactly how he descended from him. (The third) was that he was descended from Ismail bin Ibrahim Al-Khalil, peace be upon him, then there were also three different views over exactly how he descended from him. This was discussed in full detail by Imam Al-Hafiz Abu Umar bin Abdul-Barr An-Namari, may Allah have mercy on him, in his book Al-Musamma Al-Inbah Ala Dhikr Usul Al-Qaba’il Ar-Ruwat. The meaning of the Prophet’s words, “He was a man among the Arabs.” (At-Tabari no.28782) means that he was one of the original Arabs, who were before Ibrahim, peace be upon him, and were descendants of Sam bin Nuh (Shem, the son of Noah). According to the third view mentioned above, he descended from Ibrahim, peace be upon him, but this was not a well-known view among them. And Allah knows best. But in Sahih Al-Bukhari, it is reported that the Messenger of Allah passed by a group of people from (the tribe of) Aslam who were practicing archery, and he said, “Shoot, O sons of Ismail, for your father was an archer.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:261) Aslam was a tribe of the Ansar, and the Ansar – both Aws and Khazraj – were from Ghassan, from the Arabs of Yemen from Saba, who settled in Yathrib when Saba was scattered throughout the land when Allah sent against them the flood released from the dam. A group of them also settled in Syria, and they were called Ghassan for the name of the water beside which they camped – it was said that it was in the Yemen, or that it was near Al-Mushallal, as Hassan bin Thabit, may Allah be pleased with him, said in one of his poems. The meaning of his words: “If you ask, then we are the community of the noble descendants, our lineage is Al-Azd and our water is Ghassan.” “He had ten sons among the Arabs.” (At-Tabari no.28782) means that these ten were of his lineage, and that the origins of the Arab tribes of the Yemen go back to him, not that they were his sons born of his loins. There may have been two or three generations between him and some of them, or more or less, as is explained in detail in the books of genealogy. The meaning of the words, “Six of whom went south and four of whom went north.” (At-Tabari no.28782) is that after Allah sent against them the flood released from the dam, some of them stayed in their homeland, whilst others left to go elsewhere.

The Dam of Ma’arib and the Flood

The story of the dam is about the water which used to come to them from between two mountains, combined with the floods from rainfall and their valleys. Their ancient kings built a huge, strong dam and the water reached a high level between these two mountains. Then they planted trees and got the best fruits that could ever be harvested, plentiful and beautiful. A number of the Salaf, including Qatadah, mentioned that a woman could walk beneath the trees, carrying a basket or vessel – such as is used for gathering fruit – on her head. And that the fruit would fall from the trees and fill the basket without any need for her to make the effort to pick the fruit, because it was so plentiful and ripe. (At-Tabari 20:376)

This was the dam of Ma’arib, a land between which and Sana was a journey of three days. Others said that in their land there were no flies, mosquitoes or fleas, or any kind of vermin. This was because the weather was good and the people were healthy, and Allah took care of them so that they would single out and worship Him alone, as He says: “Indeed there was for Saba (Sheba) a sign in their dwelling place” Then He explains this by saying: “two gardens on the right and on the left” meaning, the two sides where the mountains were, and their land was in between them. “(and it was said to them) “Eat of the provision of your Lord, and be grateful to Him.” A fair land and an Oft-Forgiving Lord!” means, ‘He would forgive you if you continue to worship Him alone.’ “But they turned away,” means, from worshipping Allah alone and from giving thanks to Him for the blessings that He had bestowed upon them, and they started to worship the sun instead of Allah, as the hoopoe told Sulayman, peace be upon him: “I have come to you from Saba (Sheba) with true news. I found a woman ruling over them, she has been given all things, and she has a great throne. I found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allah, and Shaytan has made their deeds fair seeming to them, and has barred them from the way, so they have no guidance.” (27:22-24) “so We sent against them flood released from the dam,” Some, including Ibn Abbas, Wahb bin Munabbih, Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak said that when Allah wanted to punish them by sending the flood upon them, he sent beasts from the earth to the dam, large rats, which made a hole in it. (At-Tabari 20:378) Wahb bin Munabbih said, “They found it written in their Scriptures that the dam would be destroyed because of these large rats. So they brought cats for a while, but when the decree came to pass, the rats overran the cats and went into the dam, making a hole in it, and it collapsed.” (At-Tabari 20:381) Qatadah and others said, “The large rat is the desert rat. They gnawed at the bottom of the dam until it became weak, then the time of the floods came and the waters hit the structure and it collapsed. The waters rushed through the bottom of the valley and destroyed everything in their path — buildings, trees, etc.” (At-Tabari 20:381)

As the water drained from the trees that were on the mountains, to the right and the left, those trees dried up and were destroyed. Those beautiful, fruit-bearing trees were replaced with something altogether different, as Allah says: “and We converted their two gardens into gardens producing bitter bad fruit (ukul khamt),” Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ikrimah, Ata’ Al-Khurasani, Qatadah and As-Suddi said, “It refers to Arak (Zingiber officinale) and bitter bad fruit.” (At-Tabari 20:382) “and Athl”, Al- Awfi and Ibn Abbas said that this means tamarisk. Others said that it means a tree that resembles a tamarisk, and it was said that it was the gum acacia or mimosa. And Allah knows best. “and some few lote trees.” Because the lote trees were the best of the trees with which the garden was replaced, there were only a few of them. “and some few lote trees.” This is what happened to those two gardens after they had been so fruitful and productive, offering beautiful scenes, deep shade and flowing rivers: they were replaced with thorny trees, tamarisks and lote trees with huge thorns and little fruit. This was because of their disbelief and their sin of associating others with Allah, and because they denied the truth and turned towards falsehood. Allah said: “Like this We requited them because they were ungrateful disbelievers. And never do We requite in such a way except those who are ungrateful.” meaning, ‘We punished them for their disbelief.’ Mujahid said, “He does not punish anyone except the disbelievers.” (Al-Baghawi 3:555)

Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “Allah the Almighty has spoken the truth: no one will be punished in a manner that befits the sin except the ungrateful disbelievers.”

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 8 Pages 59-80

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