Surah Fussilat Ayat 1-24

Surah Fussilat

(Explained in Detail)

This Surah is also known as Ha Mim As-Sajdah

Chapter 41 

Which was revealed in Makkah

 

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

{1. Ha Mim.

2. A revelation from the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

3. A Book whereof the Ayat are explained in detail — a Qur’an in Arabic for people who know.

4. Giving glad tidings and warning, but most of them turn away, so they hear not.

5. And they say: “Our hearts are under coverings from that to which you invite us; and in our ears is deafness, and between us and you is a screen, so work you (on your way); verily, we are working (on our way).”}

Description of the Qur’an, and what Those Who turn away from it

“Ha Mim. A revelation from the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” means, the Qur’an is revealed from the Most Gracious, Most Merciful. This is like the Ayat: “Say Ruh Al-Qudus (Jibril) has brought it down from your Lord with truth” (16:102). “And truly, this is a revelation from the Lord of all that exists, Which the trustworthy Ruh (Jibril) has brought down upon your heart that you may be (one) of the warners.” (26:192-194). “A Book whereof the Ayat are explained in detail” means, its meanings are clear and its rulings are sound and wise. “a Qur’an in Arabic” means, because it is a clear Arabic Qur’an, its meanings are precise and detailed and its words are clear and not confusing. This is like the Ayah: “(This is) a Book, the Ayat whereof are completed, and then explained in detail from One (Allah), Who is All-Wise Well-Acquainted” (11:1) meaning, it is miraculous in its wording and in its meanings. “Falsehood cannot come to it from before it or behind it, (it is) sent down by the All-Wise, Worthy of all praise.” (41:42). “for people who know.” means, this clear style will be readily understood by scholars who are thoroughly versed in knowledge. “Giving glad tidings and warning,” means, sometimes it brings glad tidings to the believers, and sometimes it brings a warning to the disbelievers. “but most of them turn away, so they hear not.” means, most of the Quraysh did not understand anything of it at all, despite the fact that it was so clear. “And they say: “Our hearts are under coverings…” meaning, they are wrapped and screened, “from that to which you invite us; and in our ears is deafness,” means, ‘we are deaf to the message you bring to us.’ “and between us and you is a screen,” ‘so nothing of what you say reaches us.’ “so work you (on your way); verily, we are working” means, go your way, and we will go our way, and we will not follow you.

{6. Say: “I am only a human being like you. It is revealed to me that your God is One God, therefore take straight path to Him and obedience to Him, and seek forgiveness of Him. And woe to the polytheists.

7. Those who give not the Zakah and they are disbelievers in the Hereafter.

8. Truly, those who believe and do righteous good deeds, for them will be an endless reward that will never stop.}

The Call to Tawhid Allah

“Say” O Muhammad, to these disbelievers and idolators, “I am only a human being like you. It is revealed to me that your God is One God,” ‘not like these idols and false gods which you worship. Allah is one God,’ “therefore take straight path to Him” means, `worship Him Alone sincerely, in accordance with what He has commanded you through His Messengers.’ “and seek forgiveness of Him” means, ‘for your past sins.’ “And woe to the polytheists.” means, doom and destruction is their lot. “Those who give not the Zakah” Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn Abbas that this means those who do not bear witness that there is no God except Allah. (At-Tabari 21:430) This was also the view of Ikrimah. (At-Tabari 21:430) This is like the Ayat: “Indeed he succeeds who purifies himself. And indeed he fails who corrupts himself.” (91:9-10) And; “Indeed whosoever purifies himself shall achieve success. And remembers (glorifies) the Name of his Lord, and prays.” (87:14-15) And; “And say to him: “Would you purify yourself” (79:18) What is meant by Zakah here is purification of the soul, ridding oneself of all bad qualities, the worst of which is Shirk. The Zakah paid on one’s wealth is so called because it purifies wealth, and it is a means of increasing it, blessing it and making it more beneficial, and a means of assisting one to use it in doing good deeds.

Qatadah said, “They withheld the Zakah of their wealth.” This is the apparent meaning according to many of the scholars of Tafsir, and this is the view favored by Ibn Jarir. (At-Tabari 21:431)

But the matter is subject to further examination, because the obligation of Zakah was instituted during the second year after the Hijrah to Al-Madinah, according to what is stated by several scholars. Yet this Ayah was revealed in Makkah. However, it is not unlikely that the principle of giving charity and Zakah was already in place and had been enjoined at the beginning of the Prophet’s mission, as Allah says: “but pay the due thereof on the day of their harvest” (6:141). As for the details of Zakah and how it is to be calculated according to the Nusub, were explained in Al-Madinah. This is how we may reconcile between the two opinions. Similarly, prayer was originally enjoined before sunrise and before sunset at the beginning of the Prophet’s mission; it was only on the Night of the Isra’, a year and a half before the Hijrah, that Allah enjoined upon His Messenger the five daily prayers. The conditions and essential elements of prayer were explained later, in stages. And Allah knows best. Then Allah says: “Truly, those who believe and do righteous good deeds, for them will be an endless reward that will never stop.” Mujahid and others said, “It will never be cut off or decrease.” This is like the Ayat: “They shall abide therein for ever.” (18:3) “a gift without an end” (11:108)

{9. Say: “Do you verily disbelieve in Him Who created the earth in two Days And you set up rivals with Him That is the Lord of all that exists.”

10. He placed therein firm mountains from above it, and He blessed it, and measured therein its sustenance in four Days equal for all those who ask.

11. Then He rose over (Istawa ila) the heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth: “Come both of you willingly or unwillingly.” They both said: “We come willingly.”

12. Then He completed and finished their creation (as) seven heavens in two Days and He made in each heaven its affair. And We adorned the nearest (lowest) heaven with lamps (stars) to be an adornment as well as to guard. Such is the decree of Him, the Almighty, the All-Knower.}

Some Details of the Creation of this Universe

Here denounces the idolators who worship other gods apart from Him although He is the Creator, Subduer and Controller of all things. He says: “Say: “Do you verily disbelieve in Him Who created the earth in two Days And you set up rivals with Him” meaning, ‘false gods whom you worship alongside Him’ “That is the Lord of the that exists.” the Creator of all things is the Lord of all the creatures. Here the Ayah; “Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days” (7:54). is explained in more detail; the creation of the earth and the creation of the heaven are discussed separately. Allah says that He created the earth first, because it is the foundation, and the foundation should be built first, then the roof. Allah says elsewhere: “He it is Who created for you all that is on the earth. Then He rose over (Istawa ila) the heaven and made them seven heavens” (2:29).

With regard to the Ayat: “Are you more difficult to create or is the heaven that He constructed He raised its height, and has perfected it. Its night He covers with darkness and its forenoon He brings out (with light). And after that He spread the earth, And brought forth therefrom its water and its pasture. And the mountains He has fixed firmly, (to be) a provision and benefit for you and your cattle.” (79:27-33) This Ayah states that the spreading out of the earth came after the creation of the heavens, but the earth itself was created before the heavens according to some texts.

This was the response of Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, as recorded by Al-Bukhari in his Tafsir of this Ayah in his Sahih. He recorded that Said bin Jubayr said: “A man said to Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, saying: ‘I find some things in the Qur’an which confuse me: “There will be no kinship among them that Day, nor will they ask of one another” (23:101), “And they will turn to one another and question one another” (37:27), “but they will never be able to hide a single fact from Allah” (4:42), “By Allah, our Lord, we were not those who joined others in worship with Allah” (6:23) But in this Ayah they did hide something. And Allah says: “Are you more difficult to create or is the heaven that He constructed?” until; “And after that He spread the earth.” (79:27-30) So He mentioned the creation of the heavens before the earth, then He said: “Say: “Do you verily disbelieve in Him Who created the earth in two Days…?” until; “We come willingly.”

Here He mentioned the creation of the earth before the creation of the heavens. And He says: “Verily, Allah (Kana) is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (4:23). [Kana literally means ‘was’]“Most Powerful, All-Wise” (4:56). “All-Hearer, All-Seer” (4:58). It is as if He was and is no longer.’ Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, replied: “There will be no kinship among them that Day, nor will they ask of one another” (23:101), this will happen when the Trumpet is blown for the first time. “And all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth will swoon away, except him whom Allah wills” (39:68), and at that time there will be no kinship among them, nor will they ask of one another. Then when the Sur will be blown again, “And they will turn to one another and question one another” (37:27). With regard to the Ayat, “By Allah, our Lord, we were not those who joined others in worship with Allah” (6:23) and “but they will never be able to hide a single fact from Allah” (4:42), Allah will forgive the sincere believers their sins, then the idolators will say, ‘Let us say that we never joined others in worship with Allah.’ Then a seal will be placed over their mouths, and their hands will speak. Then it will be known that not a single fact can be hidden from Allah, and at that point, “those who disbelieved will wish” (4:42). Allah created the earth in two days, then He created the heavens, then He “Istawa ila” the heaven and gave it its shape in two more days. Then He spread the earth, which means that He brought forth therefrom its water and its pasture. And He created the mountains, sands, inanimate things, rocks and hills and everything in between, in two more days. This is what Allah says: “(He) spread (the earth)” (79:30) And Allah’s saying: “(He) created the earth in two Days” So He created the earth and everything in it in four days, and He created the heavens in two days. “verily, Allah (Kana) is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (4:23). This is how He described Himself, and this is how He still is. Whatever Allah wills comes to pass, so do not be confused about the Qur’an, for all of it comes from Allah.”’ This was recorded by Al-Bukhari. (Fath Al-Bari 8:418)

“(He) created the earth in two Days” means, on Sunday and Monday. “He placed therein firm mountains from above it, and He blessed it,” means, He blessed it and gave it the potential to be planted with seeds and bring forth produce. “And measured therein its sustenance” means, what its people need of provision and places in which to plant things and grow crops. This was on Tuesday and Wednesday, which together with the two previous days add up to four days. “in four Days equal for all those who ask.” meaning, for those who want to ask about that, so that they might know. Ikrimah and Mujahid said concerning the Ayah: “and measured therein its sustenance” “He placed in every land that which is not suited for any other land.” (At-Tabari 21:436)

Ibn Abbas, Qatadah and As-Suddi said, concerning the Ayah, “equal for all those who ask” this means, “For whoever wants to ask about that.” (At-Tabari 21:438) Ibn Zayd said: “and measured therein its sustenance in four Days equal for all those who ask.”“According to whatever a person who is need of provision wants, Allah measures out for him what he needs.” (At-Tabari 21:438) This is like what they said concerning the Ayah: “And He gave you of all that you asked for” (14:34). And Allah knows best. “Then He rose over (Istawa ila) towards the heaven when it was smoke,” i.e., steam which arose from it when the earth was created. “and said to it and to the earth: “Come both of you willingly or unwillingly.” meaning, ‘respond to My command and be subjected to this action, willingly or unwillingly.’ “They both said: “We come willingly.” meaning, ‘we will respond to You willingly and everything that You want to create in us — angels, Jinn and men — will all be obedient to You.’ “Then He completed and finished their creation (as) seven heavens in two Days” means, He finished forming them as seven heavens in two more days, which were Thursday and Friday. “and He decreed in each heaven its affair.” means, He placed in each heaven whatever it needs of angels and things which are known only unto Him. “And We adorned the nearest (lowest) heaven with lamps” means, the stars and planets which shine on the people of the earth. “as well as to guard.” means, as protection against the Shayatin, lest they listen to the angels on high. “Such is the Decree of Him, the Almighty, the All-Knower” means, the Almighty Who has subjugated all things to His control, the All-Knower Who knows all the movements of His creatures.

{13. But if they turn away, then say: “I have warned you of a Saiqah [thunderbolt of lightening] like the Saiqah which overtook Ad and Thamud.”

14. When the Messengers came to them, from before them and behind them (saying): “Worship none but Allah,” they said: “If our Lord had so willed, He would surely have sent down the angels. So, indeed we disbelieve in that with which you have been sent.”

15. As for Ad, they were arrogant in the land without right, and they said: “Who is mightier than us in strength” See they not that Allah Who created them was mightier in strength than them. And they used to deny Our Ayat!

16. So, We sent upon them a Sarsar wind in days of calamity that We might give them a taste of disgracing torment in this present worldly life. But surely the torment of the Hereafter will be more disgracing, and they will never be helped.

17. And as for Thamud, We showed them the path of truth but they preferred blindness to guidance; so the Saiqah of disgracing torment seized them because of what they used to earn.

18. And We saved those who believed and had Taqwa.}

A Warning to the Disbelievers and a Reminder of the Story of Ad and Thamud

Allah says: ‘Say, O Muhammad, to these idolators who disbelieve in the message of truth that you have brought: If you turn away from that which I have brought to you from Allah, then I warn you of the punishment of Allah like the punishment that the past nations suffered for disbelieving in the Messengers.’ “a Saiqah like the Saiqah which overtook Ad and Thamud.” and other similar nations who did what they did, “When the Messengers came to them, from before them and behind them” This is like the Ayah: “And remember (Hud) the brother of Ad, when he warned his people in Al-Ahqaf. [Curved sand-hills in the southern part of Arabian Peninsula] And surely, there have passed away warners before him and after him” (46:21). which means that in the neighboring towns and cities, Allah sent Messengers who commanded the people to worship Allah Alone with no partner or associate, and they brought good news as well as warnings. They saw the punishment Allah sent upon His enemies, and the blessings which He bestowed upon His friends, yet despite all of this, they did not believe in them. On the contrary, they denied them and rejected them, and said: “If our Lord had so willed, He would surely have sent down the angels.” meaning, if Allah were to send Messengers, they would be angels sent from His presence. “So, indeed we disbelieve in that with which you have been sent.” means, ‘because you are a mere human; we will not follow you because you are just men like us.’ “As for Ad, they were arrogant in the land without right.” means, they were arrogant, stubborn and disobedient. “and they said: “Who is mightier than us in strength” They boasted of their physical strength, and power; they thought that this would protect them from Allah’s punishment. “See they not that Allah Who created them was mightier in strength than them.” means, do they not realize, when they are showing enmity, that He is the Almighty Who created all things and gave them whatever strength they have, and that His onslaught will be far greater This is like the Ayah: “With Hands did We construct the heaven. Verily, We are able to extend the vastness of space thereof.” (51:47) They openly opposed the Almighty and denied His signs and disobeyed His Messenger. Allah said: “So We sent upon them a Sarsar wind”. Some said that this was a strongly blowing wind; others said that it was a cold wind. It was also said that it is the wind that makes a noise. The truth that it was all of these things, for it was a strong wind that was an apt punishment for their being deceived by their physical strength. It was also intensely cold, as Allah says: “with a Sarsar wind!” (69:6), meaning a very cold wind. It also made a furious sound. Additionally, there is a famous river in the east which is called Sarsar because of the noise it makes as it flows. “in days of calamity” means, consecutive days. “seven nights and eight days in succession” (69: 7). This is like the Ayah: “on a day of calamity, continuous” (54:19) i.e., the punishment began on a day which was of evil omen for them, and this evil omen continued for them, “seven nights and eight days in succession” (69:7) until they were destroyed, every last one of them, and their humiliation in this world was joined to their punishment in the Hereafter. Allah says: “that We might give them a taste of disgracing torment in this present worldly life. But surely the torment of the Hereafter will be more disgracing.” meaning, more humiliating for them. “and they will never be helped.” means, in the Hereafter, just as they were never helped in this world, and they had no one who could protect them from Allah or save them from His punishment. “And as for Thamud, We showed them the path of truth” Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Abu Al-Aliyah, Said bin Jubayr, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd said, “We explained to them. ” (At-Tabari 21:448) Ath-Thawri said, “We called them.” Allah’s saying; “but they preferred blindness to guidance” means, ‘We showed them the truth and made it clear to them through the words of their Prophet Salih, but they opposed him and rejected him, and they slaughtered the she-camel of Allah which He had made a sign for them of the truth of their Prophet.’ “so the Saiqah of disgracing torment seized them” means, Allah sent upon them the Sayhah, earthquake, intense humiliation, punishment and torment. “because of what they used to earn” means, because of their disbelief and rejection. “And We saved those who believed” means, ‘We saved them from among them, and no harm came to them;’ Allah saved them along with His Prophet Salih, peace be upon him, because of their fear of Allah.

{19. And (remember) the Day that the enemies of Allah will be gathered to the Fire, then they will be driven.

20. Till, when they reach it, their hearing (ears) and their eyes and their skins will testify against them as to what they used to do.

21. And they will say to their skins, “Why do you testify against us?” They will say: “Allah has caused us to speak – as He causes all things to speak, and He created you the first time, and to Him you are made to return.”

22. And you have not been hiding yourselves (in the world), lest your ears and your eyes and your skins should testify against you; but you thought that Allah knew not much of what you were doing.

23. And that thought of yours which you thought about your Lord, has brought you to destruction; and you have become of those utterly lost!

24. Then, if they bear the torment patiently, then the Fire is the home for them, and if they seek to please Allah, yet they are not of those who will ever be allowed to please Allah.}

On the Day of Judgement, the Sinners’ Limbs will testify against Them

“And (remember) the Day that the enemies of Allah will be gathered to the Fire, then they will be driven.” means, remind these idolators of the Day when they will be gathered to the Fire and they will be driven, i.e., the keepers of Hell will gather the first of them with the last of them, as Allah says elsewhere: “And We shall drive the criminals to Hell, in a thirsty state” (19:86). “Till, when they reach it,” means, when they stand at its edge, “their hearing (ears) and their eyes and their skins will testify against them as to what they used to do.” means, all their deeds, earlier and later; not a single letter will be concealed. “And they will say to their skins, “Why do you testify against us” they will blame their limbs and their skins when they testify against them, at which point their limbs will answer: “They will say: “Allah has caused us to speak — as He causes all things to speak, and He created you the first time” means, and He cannot be opposed or resisted, and to Him you will return. Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bazzar narrated that Anas bin Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Messenger of Allah laughed and smiled one day, and said:

“Will you not ask about why I laughed?”

They said, “O Messenger of Allah, why did you laugh” He said:

“I was amazed at how a servant will dispute with his Lord on the Day of Resurrection. He will say, “My Lord, did You not promise me that you would not treat me unjustly” Allah will say, “Yes.” The man will say, “I will not accept any witness against me except from myself.” Allah will say, “Is it not sufficient that I and the angels, the noble scribes, are witnesses” These words will be repeated several times, then a seal will be placed over his mouth and his organs (or limbs) will speak about what he used to do. Then he will say, “Away with you! It was only for your sake that I was arguing!” (Al-Hakim 4:601)

It was recorded by him and Ibn Abi Hatim. (At-Tabari 21:452) It was also recorded by Muslim and An-Nasa’i. (Muslim 4:2280, An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:508) Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Burdah said that Abu Musa said, “The disbeliever or the hypocrite will be called to account and his Lord will show him his deeds, but he will deny them and say, ‘O Lord, by Your glory, this angel has written about me something that I did not do.’ The angel will say to him, ‘Did you not do such and such on such and such a day in such and such a place’ He will say, ‘No, by Your glory O Lord, I did not do it.’ When he does that, a seal will be placed over his mouth.” Al-Ashari, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I think that the first part of his body to speak will be his right thigh.” Allah’s saying: “And you have not been hiding yourselves (in the world), lest your ears and your eyes and your skins should testify against you” means, their organs and skins will say to them, when they blame them for testifying against them, ‘you did not hide from us what you used to do, on the contrary, you openly committed disbelief and sin, and you claimed that you did not care, because you did not believe that Allah knew about all your deeds.’ Allah says: “but you thought that Allah knew not much of what you were doing. And that thought of yours which you thought about your Lord, has brought you to destruction” meaning, ‘this evil thought, i.e., your belief that Allah did not know much of what you were doing, is what has caused you to be doomed and has made your losers before your Lord.’ “and you have become of those utterly lost!” means, ‘in the place of Resurrection, you have lost your own selves and your families.’

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I was hiding beneath the covering of the Kabah, and three men came along — a man from the Quraysh and two of his brothers-in-law from Thaqif, or a man from Thaqif and two of his brothers-in-law from the Quraysh. Their bellies were very fat, and did not have much understanding. They said some words I could not hear, then one of them said, ‘Do you think that Allah can hear what we are saying now?’ The other said, ‘If we raise our voices, He will hear it, but if we do not raise our voices, He will not hear it.’ The other said, ‘If He can hear one thing from us, He can hear everything.’ I mentioned this to the Prophet , then Allah revealed the words: “And you have not been hiding yourselves (in the world), lest your ears and your eyes and your skins should testify against you” until; “of those utterly lost!” (Ahmad 1:381) This is how it was recorded by At-Tirmidhi. (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 9:123) A similar report was also narrated by Ahmad (through a different chain), Muslim and At-Tirmidhi, (Ahmad 1:408, Muslim 4:2142) and Al-Bukhari and Muslim also recorded (a different chain). (Fath Al-Bari 8:424)

“Then, if they bear the torment patiently, then the Fire is the home for them, and if they seek to please Allah, yet they are not of those who will ever be allowed to please Allah.” means, whether they bear it patiently or not, they are in the Fire and they will have no escape or way out from it, and even if they try to please Allah and offer excuses, nothing of that will be accepted from them. Ibn Jarir said, “The meaning of the Ayah, “and if they seek to please Allah,” is: They will ask to go back to this world, but this plea will not be answered. This is like the Ayah: “They will say: “Our Lord! Our wretchedness overcame us, and we were (an) erring people. Our Lord! Bring us out of this. If ever we return (to evil), then indeed we shall be wrongdoers.” He will say: “Remain you in it with ignominy! And speak you not to Me!” (23:106-108). (At-Tabari 21:458)

Tafsir Ibn Kathir Vol 8 (Abridged) Pages 511-533

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