Surah Ash-Shurara Ayat 1-51

Surah Ash-Shurara

Chapter 26 

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

{1. Ta Sin Mim. 

2. These are Ayat of the Book Mubin. 

3. It may be that you are going Bakhi yourself, that they do not become believers. 

4. If We will, We could send down to them from the heaven a sign, to which they would bend their necks in humility. 

5. And never comes there unto them a Reminder as a recent revelation from the Most Gracious, but they turn away therefrom. 

6. So, they have indeed denied, then the news of what they mocked at will come to them. 

7. Do they not observe the earth – how much of every good kind We cause to grow therein 

8. Verily, in this is an Ayah, yet most of them are not believers. 

9. And verily your Lord, He is truly the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful.}

The Qur’an and the Disbelievers turning away

They could be compelled to believe if Allah so willed At the beginning of the explanation of Surat Al-Baqarah we discussed the letters which appear at the beginning of some Surahs. Allah’s saying: “These are the Ayat of the Book Mubin.” means, these are the verses of the Clear Qur’an, i.e. the clear and unambiguous Book which distinguishes between truth and falsehood, misguidance and guidance. “It may be that you are going Bakhi yourself” means, destroy yourself – because of your keenness that they should be guided and your grief for them. “that they do not become believers.” Here Allah is consoling His Messenger for the lack of faith of those among the disbelievers who do not believe in him. This is like the Ayat: “So destroy not yourself in sorrow for them” (35:8). “Perhaps, you would Bakhi yourself, over their footsteps, because they believe not in this narration” (18:6). Mujahid, Ikrimah, Qatadah, Atiyyah, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan and others said that: “It may be that you are going Bakhi yourself,” means, ‘kill yourself.’ (At-Tabari 19:330)

Then Allah says: “If We will, We could send down to them from the heaven a sign, to which they would bend their necks in humility.” meaning, `if We so willed, We could send down a sign that would force them to believe, but We will not do that because We do not want anyone to believe except by choice.’ Allah says: “And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them together. So, will you then compel mankind, until they become believers.” (10:99) “And if your Lord had so willed, He could surely, have made mankind one Ummah…” (11:118) But Allah’s will has acted, His decree has come to pass, and His proof has been conveyed to mankind by mission of Messengers and the revelation of Books to them. Then Allah says: “And never comes there unto them a Reminder as a recent revelation from the Most Gracious, but they turn away therefrom.” meaning, every time a Scripture comes from heaven to them, most of the people turn away from it. As Allah says: “And most of mankind will not believe even if you desire it eagerly.” (12:103) “Alas for mankind! There never came a Messenger to them but they used to mock at him.” (36:30) “Then We sent Our Messengers in succession. Every time there came to a nation their Messenger, they denied him…” (23:44). Allah says here: “So, they have indeed denied, then the news of what they mocked at will come to them.” meaning, they denied the truth that came to them, so they will come to know the news of the consequences of this denial after a while. “And those who do wrong will come to know by what overturning they will be overturned” (26:227).

Then Allah tells those who dared to oppose His Messenger and disbelieve in His Book, that He is the Subduer, the Almighty, the All-Powerful, Who created the earth and caused every good kind of crop, fruit and animal to grow therein. Sufyan Ath-Thawri narrated from a man from Ash-Sha`bi that people are a product of the earth. So whoever enters Paradise is good and noble, and whoever enters Hell is base and vile. (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:289)

“Verily, in this is an Ayah,” meaning an evidence of the power of the Creator of all things. He spread out the earth and raised the canopy of the heavens, yet despite that the majority of people do not believe, rather they deny Him, His Messengers, and His Books, and they go against His commands doing the things He had prohibited.

His saying: “And verily your Lord, He is truly the All-Mighty,” means, the One Who has power over all things, to subdue and control them, “the Most Merciful.” means, towards His creation, for He does not hasten to punish the one who sins, but He gives him time to repent, and if he does not, then He seizes him with a mighty punishment. Abu Al-`Aliyah, Qatadah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Ibn Ishaq said: “He is Almighty in His punishment of those who went against His commands and worshipped others besides Him.” (At-Tabari 33:304) Said bin Jubayr said: “He is Most Merciful towards those who repent to Him and turn to Him.”

{10. And (remember) when your Lord called Musa (saying): “Go to the people who are wrongdoers.” 

11.”The people of Firawn. Will they not have Taqwa?” 

12. He said: “My Lord! Verily, I fear that they will deny me,” 

13. “And my breast straitens, and my tongue expresses not well. So send for Harun.” 

14.”And they have a charge of crime against me, and I fear they will kill me. ” 

15. (Allah) said: “Nay! Go you both with Our signs. Verily, We shall be with you, listening.” 

16. “And go both of you to Firawn, and say: `We are the Messengers of the Lord of Al-Alamin,’ 

17. ‘So allow the Children of Israel to go with us.”’ 

18. (Firawn) said (to Musa): “Did we not bring you up among us as a child And you did dwell many years of your life with us.” 

19. “And you did your deed, which you did. While you were one of the ingrates.” 

20. Musa said: “I did it then, when I was in error.” 

21. “So, I fled from you when I feared you. But my Lord has granted me Hukm, and made me one of the Messengers.” 

22. “And this is the past favor with which you reproach me, – that you have enslaved the Children of Israel.”}

 

Between Musa and Firawn

Allah tells us what He commanded His servant, son of Imran and Messenger Musa, peace be upon him, who spoke with Him, to do, when He called him from the right side of the mountain, and conversed with him, and chose him, sent him, and commanded him to go to Fir`awn and his people. Allah says: “And when your Lord called Musa: “Go to the people who are wrongdoers. The people of Firawn. Will they not have Taqwa?” He said: “My Lord! Verily, I fear that they will deny me, And my breast straitens, and my tongue expresses not well. So send for Harun. And they have a charge of crime against me, and I fear they will kill me.” So, Musa asked Allah to remove these difficulties for him, as he said in Surah Ta Ha: “Musa said: “O my Lord! Open for me my chest. And ease my task for me.” (20:25-26) until: “You are granted your request, O Musa!” (20:36) “And they have a charge of crime against me, and I fear they will kill me.” because he had killed that Egyptian, which was the reason that he left the land of Egypt. “(Allah) said: “Nay!…” Allah told him: do not be afraid of anything like that. This is like the Ayah, “Allah said: “We will strengthen your arm through your brother, and give you both power” meaning, proof; “so they shall not be able to harm you, with Our signs, you two as well as those who follow you will be the victors” (28:35), “Go you both with Our signs. Verily, We shall be with you, listening.” This is like the Ayah, “I am with you both, hearing and seeing” (20:46). Meaning, ‘I will be with you by My protection, care, support and help.’ “And go both of you to Fir`awn, and say: `We are the Messengers of the Lord of the all that exists.” This is like the Ayah, “Verily, we are both Messengers of your Lord” (20:47). which means, ‘both of us have been sent to you,’“So allow the Children of Israel to go with us.” Meaning, ‘let them go, free them from your captivity, subjugation and torture, for they are the believing servants of Allah, devoted to Him, and with you they are in a position of humiliating torture.’ When Musa said that to him, Fir`awn turned away and ignored him completely, regarding him with scorn and thinking little of him. Saying: “Did we not bring you up among us as a child?” meaning, we brought you up among us, in our home and on our bed, we nourished you and did favors for you for many years, and after all that you responded to our kindness in this manner: you killed one of our men and denied our favors to you.’ So he said to him: “While you were one of the ingrates.” meaning, one of those who deny favors. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas and `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam, and was the view favored by Ibn Jarir. (At-Tabari 19:340)

“(Musa) said: “I did it then…” meaning, at that time, “when I was in error.” meaning, `before revelation was sent to me and before Allah made me a Prophet and sent me with this Message.’ “So, I fled from you when I feared you. But my Lord has granted me Hukm, and made me one of the Messengers.” means, `the first situation came to an end and another took its place. Now Allah has sent me to you, and if you obey Him, you will be safe, but if you oppose Him, you will be destroyed.’ Then Musa said: “And this is the past favor with which you reproach me, – that you have enslaved the Children of Israel.” meaning, `whatever favors you did in bringing me up are offset by the evil you did by enslaving the Children of Israel and using them to do your hard labor. Is there any comparison between your favors to one man among them and the evil you have done to all of them? What you have mentioned about me is nothing compared to what you have done to them.’

{23. Firawn said: “And what is the Lord of Al-Alamin?” 

24. (Musa) said: “The Lord of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, if you seek to be convinced with certainty.” 

25. (Firawn) said to those around: “Do you not hear (what he says)?” 

26. (Musa) said: “Your Lord and the Lord of your ancient fathers!” 

27. (Firawn) said: “Verily, your Messenger who has been sent to you is a madman!” 

28. (Musa) said: “Lord of the east and the west, and all that is between them, if you did but understand!”}

 

Allah tells us about the disbelief, rebellion, oppression and denial of Firawn, as He says: “(Firawn said:) “And what is the Lord of the Alamin?” This is because he used to say to his people: “I know not that you have a god other than me.” (28:28) “Thus he fooled his people, and they obeyed him.” (43:54) They used to deny the Creator, may He be glorified, and they believed that they had no other lord than Firawn. When Musa said to them: “I am the Messenger of the Lord of the worlds,” Firawn said to him, “Who is this who you are claiming is the Lord of Al-Alamin other than me?” This is how it was interpreted by the scholars of the Salaf and the Imams of later generations. As-Suddi said, “This Ayah is like the Ayah, “(Fir`awn) said: “Who then, O Musa, is the Lord of you two” He said: “Our Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then guided it aright.” (20:49-50) Those among the philosophers and others who claimed that this was a question about the nature or substance [of Allah] are mistaken. Fir`awn did not believe in the Creator in the first place, so he was in no position to ask about the nature of the Creator; he denied that the Creator existed at all, as is apparent from the meaning, even though proof and evidence had been established against him. When Fir`awn asked him about the Lord of Al-Alamin, Musa said:“(Musa) said: “The Lord of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them…” meaning, the Creator, Sovereign and Controller of all that, their God Who has no partner or associate. He is the One Who has created all things. He knows the higher realms and the heavenly bodies that are in them, both those that are stationary and those that move and shine brightly. He knows the lower realms and what is in them; the oceans, continents, mountains, trees, animals, plants and fruits. He knows what is in between the two realms; the winds, birds, and whatever is in the air. All of them are servants to Him, submitting and humbling themselves before Him.“if you seek to be convinced with certainty.” means, if you have believing hearts and clear insight. At this, Fir`awn turned to the chiefs and leaders of his state around him, and said to them – mockingly expressing his disbelief in Musa: “Do you not hear?” meaning, ‘are you not amazed by what this man is claiming – that you have another god other than me?’ Musa said to them: “Your Lord and the Lord of your ancient fathers!” meaning, the One Who created you and your forefathers, those who came before Fir`awn and his time. “He said” that is, Fir`awn said: “Verily, your Messenger who has been sent to you is a madman!” meaning, there is no sense in his claim that there is any god other than me!’ “(Musa) said)” – to those in whose hearts Fir`awn had planted doubts: “Lord of the east and the west, and all that is between them, if you did but understand!” ‘He is the One Who made the east the place where the heavenly bodies rise, and made the west the place where they set; this is the system to which He has subjugated all the heavenly bodies, stationary and moving. If what Firawn claims is true, that he is your lord and your god, then let him turn things around so that the heavenly bodies set in the east and rise in the west.’ This is similar to the Ayah,“who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord, because Allah had given him the kingdom When Ibrahim said: “My Lord is He Who gives life and causes death.” He said, “I give life and cause death.” Ibrahim said, “Verily, Allah brings the sun from the east. So cause it to rise from the west.” (2:258) So when Firawn was defeated in debate, he resorted to the use of his force and power, believing that this would be effective in dealing with Musa, peace be upon him, so he said, as Allah tells us:

{29. He said: “If you choose a god other than me, I will certainly put you among the prisoners.” 

30. He said: “Even if I bring you something manifest?” 

31. He said: “Bring it forth then, if you are of the truthful!” 

32. So he threw his stick, and behold, it was a serpent, manifest. 

33. And he drew out his hand, and behold, it was white to all beholders! 

34. He said to the chiefs around him: “Verily, this is indeed a well-versed sorcerer.” 

35. “He wants to drive you out of your land by his sorcery: what is it then that you command” 

36. They said: “Put him off and his brother (for a while), and send callers to the cities;” 

37. “To bring up to you every well-versed sorcerer.”}

 

After the Rational Proof, Firawn resorts to Force

When proof had been established against Firawn, clearly and rationally, he resorted to using force against Musa, thinking that after this there would no further room for discussion. So he said:“If you choose a god other than me, I will certainly put you among the prisoners.” To this, Musa responded:“Even if I bring you something manifest?” meaning, clear and definitive proof. “Fir`awn said: “Bring it forth then, if you are of the truthful!” So he threw his stick, and behold, it was a serpent, manifest.” meanig, it was very clear and obvious, with a huge body and a big mouth, terrifying in appearance.“And he drew out his hand,” meaning, from his sleeve, “and behold, it was white to all beholders!” It was shining like a piece of the moon. Since Fir`awn was already doomed, he hastened to stubborn denial, and said to the chiefs around him: “Verily, this is indeed a well-versed sorcerer.” One who knows a great deal of magic or witchcraft. Firawn was trying to convince them that this was sorcery, not a miracle. Then he provoked them against Musa, trying to make them oppose him and disbelieve in him, and said: “He wants to drive you out of your land by his sorcery…” meaning, ‘he wants to capture the people’s hearts and win them over by doing this, so that they will support him, and help him and follow him, and he will defeat you in your own land and take the land from you. So advise me, what should I do with him?’ “They said: “Put him off and his brother, and send callers to the cities; to bring up to you every well-versed sorcerer.” meaning, ‘delay him and his brother until you gather together all the sorcerers from every city and region of your kingdom so that they may confront him and produce something like he produces, then you will defeat him and have the victory.’ So Firawn did as they suggested, which is what Allah decreed would happen to them, so that all the people would gather in one place and the signs and proof of Allah would be made manifest before them all in one day.

{38. So, the sorcerers were assembled at a fixed time on a day appointed. 

39. And it was said to the people: “Are you (too) going to assemble” 

40. “That we may follow the sorcerers if they are the winners.” 

41. So, when the sorcerers arrived, they said to Fir`awn: “Will there surely be a reward for us if we are the winners” 

42. He said: “Yes, and you shall then verily be of those brought near (to myself).” 

43. Musa said to them: “Throw what you are going to throw!” 

44. So, they threw their ropes and their sticks, and said: “By the might of Fir`awn, it is we who will certainly win!” 

45. Then Musa threw his stick, and behold, it swallowed up all that they falsely showed! 

46. And the sorcerers fell down prostrate. 

47.Saying: “We believe in the Lord of Al-Alamin.” 

48. “The Lord of Musa and Harun.”}

Between Musa, peace be upon him, and the Sorcerers
Allah describes the actual encounter between Musa, peace be upon him, and the Egyptians in Surat Al-Araf, Surah Ta Ha, and in this Surah. The Egyptians wanted to extinguish the Light of Allah with their words, but Allah insisted that His Light should prevail even though the disbelievers disliked that. This is the issue of disbelief and faith; they never confront one another but faith always prevails: “Nay, We fling the truth against the falsehood, so it destroys it, and behold, it disappears. And woe to you for that which you ascribe.” (21:18) “And say: “Truth has come and falsehood has vanished.” (17:81) The sorcerers of Egypt were the most skilled in the art of illusion, but when a huge group of them gathered from all corners of the land, and the people came together on that day whose exact numbers are known to Allah Alone, one of them said: “That we may follow the sorcerers if they are the winners.” They did not say: `we will follow the truth, whether it rests with the sorcerers or with Musa;’ the people were followers of the religion of their king. “So, when the sorcerers arrived,” means, when they reached the court of Fir`awn, and a pavilion had been erected for him. There he gathered his servants, followers, administrators, and provincial leaders, and the soldiers of his kingdom. The sorcerers stood before Fir`awn, asking him to treat them well and bring them closer to him if they prevailed in this matter which he had brought them together for. They said: “Will there surely be a reward for us if we are the winners” He said: “Yes, and you shall then verily be of those brought near.” meaning, `and you will be given more than what you are asking for; I will make you among those who are close to me, those who sit with me.’ So they went back to their places: “They said: “O Musa! Either you throw first or we be the first to throw” (Musa) said: “Nay, throw you (first)!” (20:65-66). Here the incident is described more briefly. Musa said to them: “Throw what you are going to throw!” So, they threw their ropes and their sticks, and said: “By the might of Fir`awn, it is we who will certainly win!” This is what the ignorant masses say when they do something: `this is by the virtue of So-and-so!’ In Surat Al-A`raf Allah mentioned that they: “They bewitched the eyes of the people, and struck terror into them, and they displayed a great magic” (7:116). And in Surah Ta Ha He said: “Then behold! Their ropes and their sticks, by their magic, appeared to him as though they moved fast.” until Allah saying: “and the magician will never be successful, whatever the amount (of skill) he may attain” (20:69). And here Allah says:“Then Musa threw his stick, and behold, it swallowed up all that they falsely showed!” by snatching up and catching them from every corner and swallowing them up, and it did not leave any of them untouched. Allah says:“Thus truth was confirmed, and all that they did was made of no effect.” until “The Lord of Musa and Harun.” (7:118-122) This was a very serious matter, furnishing decisive proof leaving no room for any excuse. Fir`awn’s supporters, who sought and hoped that they would prevail over Musa, were themselves defeated. At that moment they believed in Musa and prostrated to Allah, the Lord of Al-Alamin Who sent Musa and Harun with the truth and an obvious miracle.
Firawn was defeated in a manner the likes of which the world had never seen, but he remained arrogant and stubborn despite the clear evidence, may the curse of Allah and the angels and all of mankind be upon him. He resorted to arrogance and stubbornness and propagating falsehood. He began to issue threats against them, saying: “Verily, he is your chief who has taught you magic” (20:71). “Surely, this is a plot which you have plotted in the city” (7:123).

{49. He said: “You have believed in him before I give you leave. Surely, he indeed is your chief, who has taught you magic! So verily, you shall come to know. Verily, I will cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will crucify you all.” 

50. They said: “No harm! Surely, to our Lord we are to return.” 

51. “Verily, we really hope that our Lord will forgive us our sins, as we are the first of the believers.”}

Between Firawn and the Sorcerers

His threats against them resulted only in an increase in their faith and submission to Allah, for the veil of disbelief had been lifted from their hearts and the truth became clear to them because they knew something that their people did not: that what Musa had done could not have been done by any human being unless Allah helped him, making it proof and an evidence of the truth of what he had brought from his Lord. Then Firawn said to them: “You have believed in him before I give you leave.” meaning, ‘you should have asked my permission for what you did, and you did not consult with me; if I had given you permission you could have done it, and if I did not allow you, you should not have done it, for I am the ruler and the one to be obeyed.’ “Surely, he indeed is your chief, who has taught you magic!” This is stubborn talk, and anyone can see that it is nonsense, for they had never met Musa before that day, so how could he have been their chief who taught them how to do magic No rational person would say this. Then Firawn threatened to cut off their hands and feet, and crucify them. They said: “No harm!” meaning, ‘no problem, that will not harm us and we do not care.’“Surely, to our Lord we are to return.” means, ‘the return of us all is to Allah, may He be glorified, and He will never allow the reward of anyone who has done good to be lost. What you have done to us is not hidden from Him, and He will reward us in full for that.’ So they said: “Verily, we really hope that our Lord will forgive us our sins” ‘the sins we have committed and the magic you forced us to do.’ “as we are the first of the believers” means, because we are the first of our people, the Egyptians, to believe. So he killed them all.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 7 Pages 211-230

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