Surah Al-Khaf Ayat 50-64

{50. 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 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.}

The Story of Adam and Iblis

Allah points out to the Children of Adam the enmity of Iblis towards them and their father before them, and rebukes those who follow him and go against their Creator and Master. It is He who created them from nothing and sustains and nourishes them by His kindness, yet they still took Iblis as their friend and declared their enmity towards Allah. So Allah says: “And (remember) when We said to the angels”, meaning all the angels, as was mentioned in the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah. “Prostrate yourselves unto Adam” a prostration of respect and honour, as Allah says: “And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels, “I am going to create a human (Adam) from dried (sounding) clay of altered mud. So, when I have fashioned him completely and breathed into him the soul which I created for him, then fall (you) down prostrating yourselves unto him.” (15:28-29) “So they prostrated themselves except Iblis. He was one of the Jinn” meaning, his original nature betrayed him. He had been created from smokeless fire, whereas the angels had been created from light, as is stated in Sahih Muslim where it is reported that A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“The angels were created from light, Iblis was created from smokeless fire, and Adam was created from that which has been described to you.” (Muslim 4:2294)

When matters are crucial, every vessel leaks that which it contains and is betrayed by its true nature. Iblis used to do what the angels did and resembled them in their devotion and worship, so he was included when they were addressed, but he disobeyed and went against what he was told to do. So Allah points out here that he was one of the Jinn, i.e., he was created from fire, as He says elsewhere: “I am better than he. You created me from fire, and You created him from clay.” (38:76) Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “Iblis was not one of the angels, not even for a second. He was the origin of the Jinn just as Adam, upon him be peace, was the origin of mankind.” This was narrated by Ibn Jarir with a Sahih chain. (At-Tabari 18:506)  “he disobeyed the command of his Lord.” meaning by stepping beyond the bounds of obedience to Allah. Fisq (disobeying) implies going out or stepping beyond. When the date emerges from its flower, the verb used in Arabic is Fasaqat; the same verb is used to describe a mouse coming out of its hole when it comes out to do damage. Then Allah says, rebuking those who follow and obey Iblis: “Will you then take him and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me” meaning, instead of Me. This is why Allah says: “What an evil is the exchange for the wrongdoers.” This is like the Ayah in Surah Ya Sin where, after mentioning the Resurrection and its terrors, and the ultimate end of the blessed and the doomed, Allah then says: “(It will be said): “And O you the criminals! Get you apart this Day (from the believers).” until; “Did you not then understand?” (36:59-62)

{51. They did not witness the creation of the heavens and the earth nor their own creation, nor did I take those who mislead as Adudan.}

 

The gods of the Idolators did not witness the Creation of anything, not even Themselves

Allah says: ‘These whom you take as helpers instead of Me are creatures just like you. They do not possess anything and did not witness the creation of heaven and earth, because they did not exist at that time.’ Allah says, ‘I am the One Who independently and exclusively creates and controls all things, and I have no partner, associate or advisor in that.’ As Allah says: “Say: “Call upon those you claim besides Allah, they possess not even a speck of dust in the heavens or on the earth, nor have they any share in either, nor is there for Him any assistant among them. Intercession with Him profits not except for him whom He permits.” (34:22-23)

Similarly Allah says here: “nor did I take those who mislead as Adudan.” Malik said: “Assistants.”

{52. And (remember) the Day He will say: “Call those (so-called) partners of Mine whom you claimed.” Then they will cry unto them, but they will not answer them, and We shall put Mawbiq between them. 

53. And the criminals shall see the Fire and apprehend that they are to fall therein. And they will find no way of escape from it.}

 

Their Partners are not able to respond and the Criminals are brought to the Fire

Allah tells us how He will address the idolators on the Day of Resurrection before all of creation, rebuking and scolding them, “Call those (so-called) partners of Mine whom you claimed.” meaning, in the world. Call them today to save you from the situation you are in! Allah says: “And truly, you have come unto Us alone as We created you the first time. You have left what you were given behind your backs and We do see not with you your intercessors whom you claimed were your partners. Now all relations between you and them have been cut off, and all that you used to claim has vanished from you.” (6:94) “Then they will cry unto them, but they will not answer them.”

As Allah says: “And it will be said (to them): “Call upon those partners of yours,” then they will call upon them, but they will not answer them.” (28: 64) And the Ayah: “And who is more astray than one who calls others besides Allah, such as will not answer him” (46:5)

Until the end of the two Ayat; “And they have taken gods besides Allah, that they may grant them honor. Nay, but they will deny their worship of them, and become opponents to them.” (19:81-82) “and We shall put Mawbiq between them.”

Ibn Abbas, Qatadah and others said: “Destruction.” (At-Tabari 18:46) The meaning is that Allah is stating that these idolators will have no way of reaching the gods they claimed in this world. He will separate them in the Hereafter and neither party will have any means of reaching the other. There will be devastation, great horrors and other terrible things in between them. Abdullah bin Amr understood the pronoun in the phrase “between them” to refer to the believers and the disbelievers, (At-Tabari 18:46) meaning that the people of guidance and the people of misguidance will be separated. This then is like the Ayat: “And on the Day when the Hour will be established – that Day shall (all men) be separated.” (30:14) “On that Day men shall be divided.” (30:43), “(It will be said), “And O you the criminals! Get you apart this Day (from the believers).” (36:59) “And on the Day when We shall gather them all together, then We shall say to those who joined partners, “Stop in your place! You and your partners.” Then We shall separate between them…” until, “And what they invented will vanish from them.” (10:28-30) “And the criminals shall see the Fire and apprehend that they are to fall therein. And they will find no way of escape from it.” meaning when they see Hell with their own eyes, since it is being dragged forth by seventy thousand reins, each pulled by seventy thousand angels. When, “the criminals shall see the Fire”, they will realize that they cannot escape being thrown into it, and that will only intesify their anxiety and distress, because the anticipation and fear of punishment is in itself a real punishment. “And they will find no way of escape from it.” means, they will have no way of fleeing, it will be inevitable.

{54. And indeed We have given every kind of example in this Qur’an for mankind. But, man is ever more quarrelsome than anything.}

Examples put forth in the Qur’an

Allah says, ‘In this Qur’an, We have explained to mankind and given clear details of matters so that they will not stray from the truth or be misled from the path of guidance. Despite this explanation, man is very quarrelsome and opposes truth with falsehood,’ except for those whom Allah guides to the path of salvation. Imam Ahmad recorded that Ali bin Abi Talib said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, came to visit him and Fatimah, the daughter of Allah’s Messenger at night, and said,

“Are you not going to pray?”

I said, “O Messenger of Allah, our souls are in the Hand of Allah. If He wills to wake us, He will wake us.” When I said that, he went away without returning. Then I heard him as he was walking away, slapping his thigh and saying,

“But, man is ever more quarrelsome than anything.” (Ahmad 1:112)

It was also recorded in the Two Sahihs. (Fath Al-Bari 3:13, Muslim 1:538)

{55. And nothing prevents men from believing, while the guidance has come to them, and from asking forgiveness of their Lord, except that the ways of the ancients be repeated with them, or the torment be brought to them face to face. 

56. And We send not the Messengers except as bearers of good news and warners. But those who disbelieve, argue with falsehood, in order to refute the truth thereby. And they take My Ayat and that which they are warned for jest!}

The Rebellion of the Disbelievers

Allah tells us about the rebellion of the disbelievers in ancient times and in more recent times, and how they rejected the obvious truth even when they witnessed clear signs and proofs. Nothing stopped them from following the truth except their demand to witness with their own eyes the punishment which they were being warned about. As some of them said to their Prophet:

“So cause a piece of the heaven to fall on us, if you are of the truthful!” (26:187), Others said: “Bring Allah’s torment upon us if you are one of the truthful.” (29:29) The Quraysh said: “O Allah! If this is indeed the truth from You, then rain down stones on us from the sky or bring upon us a painful torment.” (8:32)

“And they say: “O you to whom the Reminder has been sent down! Verily, you are a mad man! Why do you not bring angels to us if you are of the truthful” (15:6-7). There are other Ayat refering to the same thing. Then Allah says: “except that the ways of the ancients be repeated with them” meaning, their overwhelming punishment, destroying every last one of them. “or the torment be brought to them face to face.” they see it with their own eyes, being directly confronted with it. Then Allah says: “And We send not the Messengers except as bearers of good news and warners.” before the punishment they give good news to those who believe in them and follow them, and warnings to those who reject them and oppose them. Then Allah tells us about the disbelievers who argue: “with falsehood, in order to refute the truth thereby.” they try to weaken the truth that the Messengers brought, but they cannot achieve that. “And they take My Ayat and that which they are warned for jest!” they take the proof, evidence and miracles sent with the Messengers to warn them, and make them fear the punishment; “as a jest and mockery” and they make fun of them, which is the worst type of disbelief.

{57. And who does more wrong than he who is reminded of the Ayat (signs) of his Lord, but turns away from them, forgetting what his hands have sent forth. Truly, We have set over their hearts Akinnah, lest they should understand this (the Qur’an), and in their ears, deafness. And if you call them to guidance, even then they will never be guided. 

58. And your Lord is Most Forgiving, Owner of mercy. Were He to call them to account for what they have earned, then surely, He would have hastened their punishment. But they have their appointed time, beyond which they will find no escape. 

59. And these towns, We destroyed them when they did wrong. And We appointed a fixed time for their destruction.}

 

The Worst People are Those Who turn Away after being Reminded

Allah says, ”Who among My creatures does more wrong than one who is reminded of the signs of Allah then turns away from them,” i.e., ignores them and does not listen or pay attention to them. “forgetting what his hands have sent forth.” means, bad deeds and evil actions. “Truly, We have set over their hearts” means, the hearts of these people, “Akinnah” means, coverings. “lest they should understand this” means, so that they will not understand this Qur’an and its clear Message “and in their ears, deafness.” means that they will be deaf in an abstract way, to guidance. “And if you call them to guidance, even then they will never be guided.” “And your Lord is Most Forgiving, Owner of mercy.” means, ‘your Lord, O Muhammad, is forgiving and has great mercy.’ “Were He to call them to account for what they have earned, then surely, He would have hastened their punishment.” This is like the Ayah: “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.” (35:45) “But verily, your Lord is full of forgiveness for mankind in spite of their wrongdoing. And verily, your Lord is (also) severe in punishment” (13:6). And there are many Ayat which say the same thing.

Then Allah tells us that He is patient, He conceals faults and forgives sins. He may guide some of them from wrongdoing to true guidance, and whoever continues in his evil ways, then there will come to him a Day when infants will turn grey and every pregnant female will shed her load. He says: “But they have their appointed time, beyond which they will find no escape.” meaning, they will find no way out. “And these towns, We destroyed them when they did wrong.” This refers to earlier nations in times past; ‘We destroyed them because of their stubborn disbelief.’ “And We appointed a fixed time for their destruction.” ‘We appointed for them a set time limit, not to be increased or decreased. The same applies to you, O idolators, so beware or what happened to them will happen to you too, for you have rejected the noblest Messenger and greatest Prophet, and you are not dearer to Us than them, so fear My punishment and wrath.

{60. And (remember) when Musa said to his boy-servant: “I will not give up until I reach the junction of the two seas or a Huqub passes.” 

61. But when they reached the junction of the two seas, they forgot their fish, and it took its way through the sea as in a tunnel. 

62. So when they passed further on, Musa said to his boy-servant: “Bring us our morning meal; truly, we have suffered Nasaban in this, our journey.” 

63. He said: “Do you remember when we betook ourselves to the rock? I indeed forgot the fish; none but Shaytan made me forget to remember it. It took its course into the sea in a strange (way) 

64. [Musa] said: “That is what we have been seeking.” So they went back retracing their footsteps. 

65. Then they found one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed mercy from Us, and whom We had taught knowledge from Us.}

 

The Story of Musa and Al-Khidr

The reason for Musa’s conversation with the boy-servant, Yusha bin Nun, was that he had been told about one of the servants of Allah at the junction of the two seas, who had knowledge which Musa had not been granted, so he wanted to travel to meet him. So he said to that boy-servant of his: “I will not give up” meaning, I will keep on traveling, “until I reach the junction of the two seas” meaning, the place where the two seas met. “or a Huqub passes.” meaning, even if I have to travel for a very long time. Ibn Jarir (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “Some of the scholars of the Arabic language said that Huqub means a year in the dialect of [the tribe of] Qays,” (At-Tabari 18:56) then he narrated that Abdullah bin Amr said, “Huqub means eighty years.” (At-Tabari 18:56) Mujahid said, “Seventy years.” (At-Tabari 18:56) Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said that it means a lifetime. (At-Tabari 18:57) Qatadah and Ibn Zayd said likewise. (At-Tabari 18:57) “But when they reached the junction of the two seas, they forgot their fish,” He had been commanded to carry a salted fish with him, and it had been said to him, when you lose the fish, that will be a sign that you have reached the right place. So they set out and traveled until they reached the junction of the two seas, where there was a spring called Ayn Al-Hayat (the Spring of Life). They went to sleep there, and the fish felt the drops of that water, so it came back to life. It was in a vessel with Yusha, upon him be peace, and it jumped out of the vessel towards the sea. Yusha woke up and the fish fell into the water and started to swim through the water, leaving a track or channel behind it. Allah said: “and it took its way through the sea as in a tunnel.” meaning, like going through a tunnel on land. Ibn Jurayj said, “Ibn Abbas said, ‘It left a trace as if it were a rock.'” (At-Tabari 18:57) “So when they had passed further on” means, past the place where they had forgotten the fish. Forgetfulness is attributed to them both even though it was actually Yusha who forgot. This is like the Ayah: “Out of them both come out pearl and coral.” (55:22), although they come from the salt water, according to one of the two opinions.

When they had passed one stage beyond the place where they had forgotten the fish, “[Musa] said to his boy-servant: “Bring us our morning meal; truly, we have suffered on this, our journey” meaning , their journey beyond the place where they should have stopped. “Nasaban” means exhaustion. “He said: “Do you remember when we betook ourselves to the rock? I indeed forgot the fish; none but Shaytan made me forget to remember it…” Then he said, “It took its course” meaning its path, “…into the sea in a strange (way)!” [Musa] said: “That is what we have been seeking.” meaning, this is what we have been looking for. “So they went back” “their footsteps.” “Then they found one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed mercy from Us, and whom We had taught knowledge from Us.”

This was Al-Khidr, peace be upon him, as is indicated by the authentic hadiths narrated from the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Al-Bukhari recorded that Said bin Jubayr said, “I said to Ibn Abbas: ‘Nawf Al-Bikali claims that Musa, the companion of Al-Khidr was not the Musa of the Children of Israel.’ Ibn Abbas said, ‘The enemy of Allah has told a lie.’ Ubay bin Kab narrated that he heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, say,

“Musa got up to deliver a speech before the Children of Israel and he was asked, “Who is the most learned person among the people?” Musa replied, “I am.” Allah rebuked him because he did not refer the knowledge to Allah. So Allah revealed to him: “At the junction of the two seas there is a servant of Ours who is more learned than you.” Musa asked, “O my Lord, how can I meet him?” Allah said, “Take a fish and put it in a vessel and then set out, and where you lose the fish, you will find him.” So Musa took a fish, put it in a vessel and set out, along with his boy-servant Yusha bin Nun, peace be upon him, till they reached a rock (on which) they both lay down their heads and slept. The fish moved vigorously in the vessel and got out of it and fell into the sea and there it took its way through the sea (straight) as in a tunnel. Allah stopped the flow of water on both sides of the way created by the fish, and so that way was like a tunnel. When Musa got up, his companion forgot to tell him about the fish, and so they carried on their journey during the rest of the day and the whole night. The next morning Musa said to his boy-servant, “Bring us our morning meal; truly, we have suffered much fatigue in this, our journey.”

Musa did not get tired till he had passed the place that Allah had ordered him to look for. His boy-servant then said to him, “Do you remember when we betook ourselves to the rock? I indeed forgot the fish; none but Shaytan made me forget to remember it. It took its course into the sea in a strange way.” There was a tunnel for the fish and Musa and his boy-servant were amazed. Musa said, “That is what we have been seeking.” So they went back retracing their footsteps.” So they went back retracing their steps until they reached the rock. There they found a man covered with a garment. Musa greeted him. Al-Khidr said, “Is there such a greeting in your land?” Musa said, “I am Musa.” He said, “Are you the Musa of the Children of Israel?” Musa said, “Yes,” and added, “I have come to you so that you may teach me something of that knowledge which you have been taught.” Al-Khidr said, “You will not be able to have patience with me.” O Musa! I have some of Allah’s knowledge which He has bestowed upon me but you do not know it; and you too, have some of Allah’s knowledge which He has bestowed upon you, but I do not know it.”

“Musa said, “If Allah wills, you will find me patient, and I will not disobey you in aught.” Al-Khidr said to him, “Then, if you follow me, ask me not about anything till I myself mention it to you.” So they set out walking along the shore, until a boat passed by and they asked the crew to let them go on board. The crew recognized Al-Khidr and allowed them to go on board free of charge. When they went on board, suddenly Musa saw that Al-Khidr had pulled out one of the planks of the ship with an adz. Musa said to him, “These people gave us a free ride, yet you have broken their boat so that its people will drown! Verily, you have done a terrible thing! “Al-Khidr said, “Did I not tell you, that you would not be able to have patience with me?” “Musa said, “Call me not to account for what I forgot and be not hard upon me for my affair (with you).”

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“In the first instance, Musa asked Al-Khidr because he had forgotten his promise. Then a bird came and sat on the edge of the boat, dipping its beak once or twice in the sea. Al-Khidr said to Musa, “My knowledge and your knowledge, in comparison to Allah’s knowledge, is like what this bird has taken out of the sea.” Then they both disembarked from the boat, and while they were walking on the shore, Al-Khidr saw a boy playing with other boys. Al-Khidr took hold of the boy’s head and pulled it off with his hands, killing him. Musa said to him, “Have you killed an innocent person who had killed none! Verily, you have committed a thing Nukr!” He said, “Did I not tell you that you would not be able to have patience with me?” [The narrator] said, “The second blame was stronger than the first one”. “Musa said, “If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company; you have received an excuse from me.” Then they both proceeded until they came to the people of a town. They asked them for food but they refused to entertain them. (Then) they found there a wall on the point of falling down. (Al-Khidr) set it up straight with his own hands. Musa said, “We came to these people, but they neither fed us nor received us as guests. “If you had wished, surely, you could have taken wages for it!” (Al-Khidr) said: “This is the parting between you and I. I will tell you the interpretation of (those) things over which you were unable to be patient.”

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said:

“We wish that Musa was patient so that Allah would have told us more about both of them.”

Said bin Jubayr said: “Ibn Abbas used to recite [Ayah no. 79] “There was a king before them who seized every good-conditioned ship by force” and [Ayah no 80] “As for the boy, he was a disbeliever and his parents were believers.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:262)

Then (in another narration) Al-Bukhari recorded a similar account which says:

“…then Musa set out and with him was his boy-servant Yusha bin Nun, and they had the fish with them. When they reached the rock, they camped there, and Musa lay down his head and slept. At the base of the rock there was a spring called Al-Hayat; its water never touched a thing but it brought it to life. Some of its water touched the fish, so it began to move and jumped out of the vessel and into the sea. When he woke up, Musa said to his boy-servant: “Bring us our morning meal.”

Then he quoted the rest of the Hadith.

Then a bird came and perched on the edge of the ship, and dipped its beak in the sea, and Al-Khidr said to Musa, “My knowledge and your knowledge and the knowledge of all of creation, in comparison to the knowledge of Allah, is like what this bird has taken from the sea.” Then he mentioned the rest of the report. (Fath Al-Bari 8:272)

Tafsir Ibn Kathir Abridged (Vol 6) Pages 169-189

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