Surah Ash-Shura Ayat 1-18

Surah Ash-Shura 

The Consultation

Chapter 42

Which was revealed in Makkah

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

{1. Ha Mim.

2. Ain Sin Qaf.

3. Likewise Allah, the Almighty, the All-Wise sends revelation to you as to those before you.

4. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and He is the Most High, the Most Great.

5. Nearly the heavens might be rent asunder from above them, and the angels glorify the praises of their Lord, and ask for forgiveness for those on the earth. Lo, Verily, Allah is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.

6. And as for those who take as protecting friends others besides Him – Allah is Hafiz over them, and you are not a trustee over them.}

The Revelation and Allah’s Might

We have previously discussed the individual letters. “Likewise Allah, the Almighty, the All-Wise sends revelation to you as to those before you.” means, ‘just as this Qur’an has been revealed to you, so too the Books and Scriptures were revealed to the Prophets who came before you.’ “Allah, the Almighty” means, in His vengeance. “the All-Wise” means, in all that He says and does. Imam Malik, may Allah have mercy on him, narrated that A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “Al-Harith bin Hisham asked the Messenger of Allah , ‘O Messenger of Allah, how does the revelation come to you?’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Sometimes it comes to me like the ringing of a bell, which is the most difficult for me; then it goes away, and I understand what was said. And sometimes the angel comes to me in the image of a man, and he speaks to me and I understand what he says.”

A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “I saw him receiving the revelation on a very cold day, and when it departed from him, there were beads of sweat on his forehead.” (Muwatta 1:202)

It was also reported in the Two Sahihs, and the version quoted here is that recorded by Al-Bukhari. (Fath Al Bari 1:25, Muslim 4:1816)

“To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth,” means, everything is subject to His dominion and control. “and He is the Most High, the Most Great.” This is like the Ayat: “the Most Great, the Most High” (13:9), and “He is the Most High, the Most Great” (22:62). And there are many similar Ayat. “Nearly the heavens might be rent asunder from above them,” Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Kab Al-Ahbar said, “Out of fear of His might.” (At-Tabari 21:501) “and the angels glorify the praises of their Lord, and ask for forgiveness for those on the earth.” This is like the Ayah: “Those who bear the Throne and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe (saying): “Our Lord! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge,” (40:7) “Lo! Verily, Allah is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.” This is a reminder, to take heed of this fact. “And as for those who take as protecting friends others besides Him” This refers to the idolators, “Allah is Hafiz over them.” meaning, He is Witness to their deeds, recording and enumerating them precisely, and He will requite them for them in full. “and you are not a trustee over them.” meaning, ‘you are just a warner, and Allah is the Trustee of all affairs.’

{7. And thus We have revealed to you a Qur’an in Arabic that you may warn the Mother of the Towns and all around it, and warn (them) of the Day of Assembling of which there is no doubt, a party will be in Paradise and a party in the blazing Fire.

8. And if Allah had willed, He could have made them one nation, but He admits whom He wills to His mercy. And the wrongdoers will have neither a protector nor a helper.}

The Qur’an was revealed to serve as a Warning

Allah says, ‘just as We sent revelation to the Prophets before you,’ “thus We have revealed to you a Qur’an in Arabic” meaning, plain, clear, and manifest “that you may warn the Mother of the Towns”, i.e., Makkah, “and all around it,” means, all the lands, east and west. Makkah is called Umm Al-Qura “the Mother of the Towns” because it is nobler than all other lands, as indicated by much evidence that has been discussed elsewhere. Among the most concise and clear proofs of that is the report recorded by Imam Ahmad from Abdullah bin Adi bin Al-Hamra’ Az-Zuhri, who heard the Messenger of Allah say, as he was standing in the market place of Makkah;

“By Allah, you are the best land of Allah, the most beloved land to Allah; were it not for the fact that I was driven out from you, I would never have left you.” (Ahmad 4:305)

This was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah; At-Tirmidhi said, “Hasan Sahih. ” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 10:426) “and warn (them) of the Day of Assembling” i.e., the Day of Resurrection, when Allah will assemble the first and the last in one plain. “of which there is no doubt,” means, there is no doubt that it will happen and will most certainly come to pass. “a party will be in Paradise and a party in the blazing Fire.” This is like the Ayah: “(And remember) the Day when He will gather you (all) on the Day of Gathering, – that will be the Day of mutual loss and gain” (64:9). which means that the people of Paradise and the people of Hell will gain and lose, respectively. And it is like the Ayah: “Indeed in that (there) is a sure lesson for those who fear the torment of the Hereafter. That is a Day whereon will be gathered together, and that is a Day when all (the dwellers of the heavens and the earth) will be present. And We delay it only for a term fixed. On the Day when it comes, no person shall speak except by His leave. Some among them will be wretched and (others) blessed.” (11:103-105) Imam Ahmad recorded that Abdullah bin Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, came out to us, holding two books in his hand. He said,

“Do you know what these two books are?”

We said, “We do not know unless you tell us, O Messenger of Allah.” Concerning the book in his right hand, He said:

“This is a book from the Lord of the worlds, containing the names of the people of Paradise and of their fathers and tribes; all of them are detailed, down to the last one of them, and nothing will be added or taken away from it.”

Then concerning the book in his left hand, he said:

“This is the book of the people of Hell, containing their names and the names of their fathers and tribes, all of them are detailed down to the last one of them, and nothing will be added or taken away from it.”

The Companions of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “Why should we strive if it is something that is already cut and dried?” The Messenger of Allah said:

“Strive with your deeds as hard as you can for middle course or close to it, for the person who is destined for Paradise will die doing the deeds of the people of Paradise, regardless of what he did before, and the person who is destined for Hell will die doing the deeds of the people of Hell, regardless of what he did before.”

Then he made a gesture with his fist and said,

“Your Lord has settled the matter of His servants”

and he opened his right hand as if throwing something;

“A party in Paradise.”

and he made a similar gesture with his left hand;

“And a party in the blazing Fire.” (Ahmad 2:167)

This was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi, and An-Nasa’i; At-Tirmidhi said, “Hasan Sahih Gharib.”

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Nadrah said, “One of the Companions of the Prophet, whose name was Abu Abdullah, was visited by some of his friends, and they found him weeping. They asked him, ‘What has caused you to weep? Didn’t the Messenger of Allah say to you,

“Trim your moustache and adhere to that practice until you meet me?”

He said, ‘Yes, but I heard the Messenger of Allah say;

“Allah picked up a handful in His Right Hand and another in His other Hand, and said, “This is for this and this is for this, and I do not care.”

‘And I do not know in which of the two handfuls I am.” (Ahmad 4:176)

There are several Hadiths about Al-Qadr (the Divine Decree) in the books of Sahih, Sunan and Musnad. Including those narrated by Ali, Ibn Masud, A’ishah and a large number of Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all. “And if Allah had willed, He could have made them one nation,” means, either all following guidance or all following misguidance, but He made them all different, and He guides whomsoever He wills to the truth and He sends astray whomsoever He wills, and He has complete wisdom and perfect proof. Allah says: “but He admits whom He wills to His mercy. And the wrongdoers will have neither a protector nor a helper.”

{9. Or have they taken protecting friends besides Him But Allah – He Alone is the protector. And He Who gives life to the dead, and He is Able to do all things.

10. And in whatsoever you differ, the decision thereof is with Allah. Such is Allah, my Lord in Whom I put my trust, and to Him I turn in repentance.

11. The Creator of the heavens and the earth. He has made for you mates from yourselves, and for the cattle (also) mates. By this means He creates you. There is nothing like Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.

12. To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth. He enlarges provision for whom He wills, and straitens. Verily, He is the All-Knower of everything.}

Allah is the Protector, Ruler and Creator

Here Allah denounces the idolators for taking other gods instead of Allah, and declares that He is the True God, and it is not right to worship anyone except Him Alone. He is the One Who is able to bring the dead back to life and He is Able to do all things. Then He says: “And in whatsoever you differ, the decision thereof is with Allah.” means, in whatever issue you differ. This is general in meaning and applies to all things. “the decision thereof is with Allah.” means, He is the Judge of that, according to His Book and the Sunnah of His Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. This is like the Ayah: “(And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger” (4:59). “Such is Allah, my Lord” means, “He is” the Judge of all things. “in Whom I put my trust, and to Him I turn in repentance.” means, ‘I refer all matters to Him.’ “The Creator of the heavens and the earth.” means, the Maker of them both and everything in between. “He has made for you mates from yourselves,” means, of your own kind. As a blessing and a favor from Him, He has made your kind male and female. “and for the cattle (also) mates.” means, and He has created for you eight pairs of cattle. “By this means He creates you.” means, in this manner He creates you, male and female, generation after generation of men and cattle. “There is nothing like Him,” means, there is nothing like the Creator of these pairs, for He is the Unique, the Self-Sufficient Master, Who has no peer or equal. “He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.” “To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth.” We have already discussed the interpretation of this phrase in Surat Az-Zumar (39:63), the conclusion of which is that He is the One Who is controlling and governing them. “He expands provision for whom He wills, and straitens.” means, He gives plentiful provision to whomsoever He wills and He reduces it for whomsoever He wills, and He is perfectly Wise and Just. “Verily, He is the All-Knower of everything.”

{13. He (Allah) has ordained for you the same religion which He ordained for Nuh, and that which We have revealed to you, and that which We ordained for Ibrahim, Musa and Isa saying you should establish religion and make no divisions in it. Intolerable for the idolators is that to which you call them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills, and guides unto Himself who turns to Him in repentance.

14. And they divided not till after knowledge had come to them, through transgression between themselves. And had it not been for a Word that went forth before from your Lord for an appointed term, the matter would have been settled between them. And verily, those who were made to inherit the Scripture after them, are in grave doubt concerning it.}

The Religion of the Messengers is One

Allah says to this Umma: “He (Allah) has ordained for you the same religion which He ordained for Nuh, and that which We have revealed to you,” Allah mentions the first Messenger who was sent after Adam, that is, Nuh, peace be upon them, and the last of them is Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Then He mentions those who came in between them who were the Messengers of strong will, namely Ibrahim, Musa and Isa bin Maryam. This Ayah mentions all five, just as they are also mentioned in the Ayah in Surat Al-Ahzab, where Allah says: “And (remember) when We took from the Prophets their covenant, and from you, and from Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, and Isa son of Maryam.” (33:7). The Message which all the Messengers brought was to worship Allah Alone, with no partner or associate, as Allah says: “And We did not send any Messenger before you but We revealed to him (saying): None has the right to be worshipped but I, so worship Me.” (21:25). And according to a Hadith (the Prophet said):

“We Prophets are brothers and our religion is one.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:550)

In other words, the common bond between them is that Allah Alone is to be worshipped, with no partner or associate, even though their laws and ways may differ, as Allah says. “To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way” (5:48). Allah says here: “saying you should establish religion and make no divisions in it.” meaning, Allah enjoined all the Prophets, peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all, to be as one and He forbade them to differ and be divided. “Intolerable for the idolators is that to which you call them.” means, ‘it is too much for them to bear, and they hate that to which you call them, O Muhammad, i.e., Tawhid.’ “Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills, and guides unto Himself who turns to Him in repentance.” means, He is the One Who decrees guidance for those who deserve it, and decrees misguidance for those who prefer it to the right path. Allah says here; “And they divided not till after knowledge had come to them,” means, their opposition to the truth arose after it had come to them and proof had been established against them. Nothing made them resist in this manner except their transgression and stubbornness. “And had it not been for a Word that went forth before from your Lord for an appointed term,” means, were it not for the fact that Allah had already decreed that He would delay the reckoning of His servants until the Day of Resurrection, the punishment would have been hastened for them in this world. “And verily, those who were made to inherit the Scripture after them,” means, the later generation which came after the earlier generation which had rejected the truth. “are in grave doubt concerning it.” means, they do not have any firm conviction in matters of religion; they merely imitate their forefathers, without any evidence or proof. So they are very confused and doubtful.

{15. So unto this then invite (people), and stand firm as you are commanded, and follow not their desires but say: “I believe in whatsoever Allah has sent down of the Book and I am commanded to do justice among you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord. For us our deeds and for you your deeds. There is no dispute between us and you. Allah will assemble us (all), and to Him is the final return.”}

This Ayah includes ten separate and independent ideas, each of which is a ruling on its own. They (the scholars) said that there is nothing else like it in the Qur’an, apart from Ayat Al-Kursi (2:255), which also includes ten ideas. “So unto this then invite (people),” means, ‘so call people to this which We have revealed to you and which We enjoined upon all the Prophets before you,’ the Prophets of major ways [of Shariah] that were followed, such as the Messengers of strong will, and others. “and stand firm as you are commanded,” means, ‘adhere firmly, you and those who follow you, to the worship of Allah as He has commanded you.’ “and follow not their desires” means, the desires of the idolators, in the falsehoods that they have invented and fabricated by worshipping idols. “but say: “I believe in whatsoever Allah has sent down of the Book…” means, ‘I believe in all the Books that have been revealed from heaven to the Prophets; we do not differentiate between any of them.’ “and I am commanded to do justice among you.” means, when judging according to the commands of Allah. “Allah is our Lord and your Lord.” means, ‘He is the One Who is to be worshipped, and there is no true God but He. We affirm this willingly, and even though you do not do so willingly, everyone in the universe prostrates to Him obediently and willingly.’ “For us our deeds and for you your deeds.” means, ‘we have nothing to do with you.’ This is like the Ayah: “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) “There is no dispute between us and you.” Mujahid said, “This means, no argument.” (At-Tabari 21:518) As-Suddi said, “This was before Ayah of the sword was revealed.” This fits the context, because this Ayah was revealed in Makkah, and Ayah of the sword (22:39-40) was revealed after the Hijra. “Allah will assemble us (all),” means, on the Day of Resurrection. This is like the Ayah: “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.” (34:26). “and to Him is the final return.” means, the final return on the Day of Reckoning.

{16. And those who dispute concerning Allah, after it has been accepted, of no use is their dispute before their Lord and on them is wrath, and for them will be a severe torment.

17. It is Allah Who has sent down the Book in truth, and the Balance. And what can make you know that perhaps the Hour is close at hand

18. 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. Verily, those who dispute concerning the Hour are certainly in error far away.}

A Warning to Those Who dispute concerning Matters of Religion

Here Allah warns those who try to hinder those who believe in Allah, from following His path. “And those who dispute concerning Allah, after it has been accepted,” means, those who dispute with the believers who have responded to Allah and His Messenger, and try to stop them from following the path of guidance. “no use is their dispute before their Lord” means, it is futile before Allah. “and on them is wrath,” means, from Him. “and for them will be a severe torment.” means, on the Day of Resurrection. Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, and Mujahid said, “They disputed with the believers after they responded to Allah and His Messenger, and tried to prevent them from following the path of guidance, hoping that they would return to Jahiliyyah.” (At-Tabari 21:518, 519) Qatadah said, “These were the Jews and Christians who said to them, ‘Our religion is better than your religion, our Prophet came before your Prophet, and we are better than you and closer to Allah than you.” (At-Tabari 21:519) This was nothing but lies.

Then Allah says: “It is Allah Who has sent down the Book in truth,” referring to all the Books which were revealed from Him to His Prophets. “and the Balance.” means, justice and fairness. This was the view of Mujahid and Qatadah. (At-Tabari 21:520) This is like the Ayat: “Indeed We have sent Our Messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance that mankind may keep up justice” (57:25). “And the heaven He has raised high, and He has set up the Balance. In order that you may not transgress (due) balance. And observe the weight with equity and do not make the balance deficient.” (55:7-9) “And what can make you know that perhaps the Hour is close at hand” This is encouragement (to strive) for its sake, a terrifying warning, and advice to think little of this world. “Those who believe not therein seek to hasten it,” means, they say, ‘when will this promise be fulfilled, if you are telling the truth’ But they say this by way of disbelief and stubbornness, thinking that it is unlikely to happen. “while those who believe are fearful of it” means, they are afraid of it happening. “and know that it is the very truth.” means, that it will undoubtedly come to pass, so they prepare themselves for it and strive for its sake. It was reported through various chains of narration, a number reaching the level of being Mutawatir, in Sahih and Hasan narrations, in the Books of Sunan and Musnad.

According to some versions, a man addressed the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in a loud voice, when he was on one of his journeys, calling out to him, “O Muhammad!” The Messenger of Allah replied in a similar manner,

“Here I am!”

The man said, “When will the Hour come?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Woe to you! It will most certainly come. What have you done to prepare for it?”

He said, “Love for Allah and His Messenger.” He, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“You will be with those whom you love.”

According to another Hadith:

“A man will be with those whom he loves.” (Muslim 4:2034)

This is Mutawatir beyond a doubt. The point is that he did not answer his question about when the Hour would happen, but he commanded him to prepare for it. “Verily, those who dispute concerning the Hour” means, who dispute whether it will happen and think it is unlikely ever to come, “are certainly in error far away.” means, they are clearly ignorant, because the One Who created the heavens and the earth is even more able to give life to the dead, as Allah says: “And He it is Who originates the creation, then He will repeat it; and this is easier for Him” (30:27).

Tafsir Ibn Kathir Vol 8 (Abridged) Pages 561-580

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