Surah Az-Zukhruf Ayat 1-35

Surah Az-Zukhruf

(Ornaments of Gold) 

Chapter 43

Which was revealed in Makkah

 

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

{1. Ha Mim.

2. By the manifest Book.

3. Verily, We have made it a Qur’an in Arabic that you may be able to understand.

4. And verily, it is in the Mother of the Book with Us, indeed exalted, full of wisdom.

5. Shall We then take away the Reminder from you, because you are a people excessive?

6. And how many a Prophet have We sent amongst the men of old.

7. And never came there a Prophet to them but they used to mock at him.

8. Then We destroyed men stronger (in power) than these and the example of the ancients has passed away.}

 

“Ha-Mim. By the manifest Book.” means, plain and clear in both wording and meaning, because it was revealed in the language of the Arabs, which is the most eloquent language for communication among people. Allah says: “a Qur’an in Arabic” meaning, in the language of the Arabs, eloquent and clear; “that you may be able to understand.” means, that you may understand it and ponder its meanings. This is like the Ayah: “In the plain Arabic language.” (26:195) “And verily, it is in the Mother of the Book with Us, indeed exalted, full of wisdom.” This explains the high status of the Qur’an among the hosts on high “the angels”, so that the people of earth will respect it, venerate it and obey it. “And verily, it” means, the Qur’an, “is in the Mother of the Book” meaning, Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz (the Preserved Tablet). This was the view of Ibn Abbas and Mujahid. (Ar-Razi 27:167) “with Us,” means, in Our presence. This was the view of Qatadah and others. (Al-Baghawi 4:133) “indeed exalted” means, occupying a position of honor and virtue. This was the view of Qatadah. (At-Tabari 21:567) “full of wisdom.” means, clear, with no confusion or deviation. All of this indicates its noble status and virtue, as Allah says elsewhere: “That (this) is indeed an honorable recitation. In a Book well-guarded. Which none can touch but the pure. A revelation from the Lord of the all that exists.” (56:77-80) “Nay, indeed it is an admonition. So whoever wills, let him pay attention to it. (It is) in Records held (greatly) in honor, exalted, purified, in the hands of scribes (angels), honorable and obedient.” (80:11-16) “Shall We then take away the Reminder (this Qur’an) from you, because you are a people excessive.” means, ‘do you think that We will forgive you and not punish you, when you do not do as you have been commanded?’ This was the view of Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Abu Salih, Mujahid and As-Suddi, and was the view favored by Ibn Jarir. (At-Tabari 21:567, 568)

“Shall We then take away the Reminder (this Qur’an) from you?” Qatadah said, “By Allah, if this Qur’an had been taken away when the first generations of this Ummah rejected it, they would have been doomed, but Allah by His mercy persisted in sending it and calling them to it for twenty years, or for as long as He willed.” (At-Tabari 21:568) What Qatadah said is very good, and his point is that Allah, by His grace and mercy towards His creation, did not stop calling them to the truth and to the wise Reminder, i.e., the Qur’an, even though they were heedless and turned away from it. Indeed, He sent it so that those who were decreed to be guided might be guided by it, and so that proof might be established against those who were decreed to be.

Consolation to the Prophet for the Disbelief of Quraysh

Then Allah consoles His Prophet for the disbelief of his people, and commands him to bear it with patience. “And how many a Prophet have We sent amongst the men of old.” meaning, among the sects (communities) of old. “And never came there a Prophet to them but they used to mock at him.” means, they disbelieved him and mock at him. “Then We destroyed men stronger than these” means, ‘We destroyed those who disbelieved in the Messengers, and they were stronger in power than these who disbelieve in you, O Muhammad.’ This is like the Ayah: “Have they not traveled through the earth and seen what was the end of those before them They were more in number than them and mightier in strength?” (40:82). And there are many similar Ayat. “and the example of the ancients has passed away.” Mujahid said, “The way of their life.” (At-Tabari 21:571) Qatadah said, “Their punishment.” Others said, “Their lesson,” i.e., ‘We made them a lesson for those disbelievers who came after them, that they would suffer the same end as them,’ as in the Ayah at the end of this Surah: “And We made them a precedent, and an example to later generations.” (43:56); “this has been the way of Allah in dealing with His servants” (40:85). “and you will not find any change in the way of Allah.” (33:62)

{9. And indeed if you ask them: “Who has created the heavens and the earth?” They will surely say: “The All-Mighty, the All-Knower created them.”

10. Who has made for you the earth like a bed, and has made for you roads therein, in order that you may find your way?

11. And Who sends down water from the sky in due measure, then We revive a dead land therewith, and even so you will be brought forth.

12.And Who has created all the pairs and has appointed for you ships and cattle on which you ride,

13. In order that you may mount on their backs, and then may remember the favor of your Lord when you mount thereon, and say: “Glory to Him Who has subjected this to us, and we could have never had it.”

14. And verily, to Our Lord we indeed are to return!”}

The Idolators’ admission that Allah is the Sole Creator, and Further Evidence of that

Allah says: ‘If you, O Muhammad, were to ask these idolators who associate others with Allah and worship others besides Him,’ “Who has created the heavens and the earth” They will surely say: “The All-Mighty, the All-Knower created them.” In other words, they will admit that the Creator of all that is Allah Alone, with no partner or associate, yet they still worship others – idols and false gods – alongside Him. “Who has made for you the earth like a bed?” means, smooth, stable and firm, so that you can travel about in it, and stand on it and sleep and walk about, even though it is created above water, but He has strengthened it with the mountains, lest it should shake. “and has made for you roads therein,” means, paths between the mountains and the valleys. “in order that you may find your way.” means, in your journeys from city to city, region to region, land to land. “And Who sends down water from the sky in due measure,” means, according to what is sufficient for your crops, fruits and drinking water for yourselves and your cattle. “then We revive a dead land therewith,” means, a barren land, for when the water comes to it, it is stirred (to life), and it swells and puts forth every lovely kind (of growth). By referring to the revival of the earth, Allah draws attention to how He will bring bodies back to life on the Day of Resurrection, after they have been dead. “and even so you will be brought forth.” Then Allah says: “And Who has created all the pairs” meaning, of everything that grows in the earth, all kinds of plants, crops, fruits, flowers, etc., and all different kinds of animals. “and has appointed for you ships” or vessels, “and cattle on which you ride.” means, He has subjugated them to you and made it easy for you to eat their meat, drink their milk and ride on their backs. Allah says: “In order that you may mount on their backs” meaning, sit comfortably and securely, “on their backs” means, on the backs of these kinds of animals. “and then may remember the favour of your Lord” means, whereby these animals are subjugated to you. “when you mount thereon, and say: “Glory to Him Who has subjected this to us, and we could have never had it.” means, if it were not for the fact that Allah has subjugated these things to us, we could never have done this by our own strength.’ Ibn Abbas, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd said: “We could not have done this ourselves.” (At-Tabari 21:576, 577) “And verily, to Our Lord we indeed are to return.” means, ‘We will return to Him after our death, and our ultimate destination is with Him.’ In this Ayah, mention of earthly journeys draws attention to the journey of the Hereafter, just as elsewhere, mention of earthly provision draws attention to the importance of ensuring provision for the Hereafter, as Allah says: “And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is the Taqwa” (2:197). And mention of earthly garments is also used to draw attention to the raiment of the Hereafter: “and as an adornment; and the raiment of the Taqwa, that is better” (7:26).

{15. Yet, they assign to some of His servants a share with Him. Verily, man is indeed a manifest ingrate!

16. Or has He taken daughters out of what He has created, and He has selected for you sons

17. And if one of them is informed of the news of that which he sets forth as a parable to the Most Gracious, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with grief!

18. A creature who is brought up in adornments, and who in dispute cannot make itself clear

19. And they make females the angels who themselves are servants of the Most Gracious. Did they witness their creation Their testimony will be recorded, and they will be questioned!

20. And they said: “If it had been the will of the Most Gracious, we should not have worshipped them.” They have no knowledge whatsoever of that. They do nothing but lie!”}

Condemnation of the Idolators’ attribution of Offspring to Allah

Here Allah speaks of the lies and fabrications of the idolators, when they devoted some of their cattle to their false gods and some to Allah, as He described in Surah Al-Anam where He said: “And they assign to Allah share of the tilth and cattle which He has created, and they say: “This is for Allah” according to their claim, “and this is for our partners.” But the share of their partners reaches not Allah, while the share of Allah reaches their partners! Evil is the way they judge!” (6:136). Similarly, out of the two kinds of offspring, sons and daughters, they assigned to Him the worst and least valuable (in their eyes), i.e., daughters, as Allah says: “Is it for you the males and for Him the females That indeed is a division most unfair!” (53:21-22) And Allah says here: “Yet, they assign to some of His servants a share with Him. Verily, man is indeed a manifest ingrate!” Then He says: “Or has He taken daughters out of what He has created, and He has selected for you sons” This is a denunciation of them in the strongest terms, as He goes on to say: “And if one of them is informed of the news of that which he sets forth as a parable to the Most Gracious, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with grief!” means, if one of these people is given the news that there has been born to him one of those which he attributes to Allah, i.e., a daughter, he hates this news and it depresses and overwhelms him so much that he keeps away from people because he feels so ashamed. Allah says, so how can they dislike that so much and yet they attribute it to Allah “A creature who is brought up in adornments, and who in dispute cannot make itself clear” means, women are regarded as lacking something, which they make up for with jewellery and adornments from the time of childhood onwards, and when there is a dispute, they cannot speak up and defend themselves clearly, so how can this be attributed to Allah “And they make females the angels who themselves are servants of the Most Gracious.” means, that is what they believe about them, but Allah denounces them for that and says: “Did they witness their creation?” meaning, did they see Allah creating them as females “Their testimony will be recorded,” means, concerning that, “and they will be questioned!” means, about that, on the Day of Resurrection. This is a stern warning and a serious threat. “And they said: “If it had been the will of the Most Gracious, we should not have worshipped them.” means, (they said:) ‘if Allah had willed, He would have prevented us from worshipping these idols which are images of the angels who are the daughters of Allah; He knows about this and He approves of it.’ By saying this, they combined several types of error: First: They attributed offspring to Allah – exalted and sanctified be He far above that. Second: They claimed that He chose daughters rather than sons, and they made the angels, who are the servants of the Most Gracious, female. Third: They worshipped them with no proof, evidence or permission from Allah. This was based on mere opinion, whims and desires, imitation of their elders and forefathers, and pure ignorance. They used Allah’s decree as an excuse, and this reasoning betrayed their ignorance. Fourth: Allah denounced them for this in the strongest terms, for from the time He first sent Messengers and revealed Books, the command was to worship Him Alone with no partner or associate, and it was forbidden to worship anything other than Him. Allah says: “And verily, We have sent among every Ummah a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah, and avoid all false deities.” Then of them were some whom Allah guided and of them were some upon whom the straying was justified. So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied.” (16:36) “And ask those of Our Messengers whom We sent before you: “Did We ever appoint gods to be worshipped besides the Most Gracious?” (43:45) And Allah says in this Ayah, after mentioning this argument of theirs: “They have no knowledge whatsoever of that.” meaning, of the truth of what they say and the arguments they put forward. “They do nothing but lie!” means, they tell lies and fabricate untruths. “They have no knowledge whatsoever of that. They do nothing but lie!” Mujahid said, “They do not appreciate the power of Allah.” (At-Tabari 21:583)

{21. Or have We given them any Book before this (the Qur’an) to which they are holding fast?

22. Nay! They say: “We found our fathers following a certain way and religion, and we guide ourselves by their footsteps.”

23. And similarly, We sent not a warner before you to any town (people) but the luxurious ones among them said: “We found our fathers following a certain way and religion, and we will indeed follow their footsteps.”

24. He said: “Even if I bring you better guidance than that which you found your fathers following” They said: “Verily, we disbelieve in that with which you have been sent.”

25. So We took revenge on them, then see what was the end of those who denied.}

The Idolators have no Proof

Allah condemns the idolators for worshipping others instead of Allah with no evidence or proof for doing so. “Or have We given them any Book before this?” means, before their idolatry. “to which they are holding fast” means, with regard to what they are doing. This is not the case. This is like the Ayah: “Or have We revealed to them an authority (a Scripture), which speaks of that which they have been associating with Him” (30:35) meaning, that did not happen. Then Allah says: “Nay! They say: “we found our fathers following a certain way and religion (Ummah), and we guide ourselves by their footsteps.” meaning, they have no grounds for their belief in idolatry apart from the fact that they are imitating their fathers and forefathers who were following a certain Ummah or way, i.e., religion. The word Ummah is used in a similar manner elsewhere, where Allah says: “And verily, this your religion (Ummah) is one religion” (23:52), and they said; “and we by their footsteps” means, behind them “We guide ourselves” This is their claim with no evidence. Then Allah points out that what these people say was already said by those who were like them among the nations of the past who disbelieved in the Messengers. Their hearts and their words are similar. “Likewise, no Messenger came to those before them but they said: “A sorcerer or a madman!” Have they transmitted this saying to these? Nay, they are themselves a people transgressing beyond bounds!” (51:52-53) And Allah says here: “And similarly, We sent not a warner before you to any town (people) but the luxurious ones among them said: “We found our fathers following a certain way and religion, and we will indeed follow their footsteps.” Then He says: “Say” – ‘O Muhammad, to these idolators -‘ “Even if I bring you better guidance than that which you found your fathers following?” They said: “Verily, we disbelieve in that with which you have been sent.” ‘Even if they were convinced of the truth of what you have brought to them, they will not follow it, because of their evil intentions and their arrogance towards the truth and its people.’ “So We took revenge on them” means, on the disbelieving nations, by inflicting various kinds of punishments, as Allah has described in the stories of those nations. “then see what was the end of those who denied” means, see what became of them, how they were destroyed and how Allah saved the believers.

{26. And (remember) when Ibrahim said to his father and his people: “Verily, I am innocent of what you worship,”

27. “Except Him Who created me; and verily, He will guide me.”

28. And he made it a word lasting among his offspring, that they may turn back.

29. Nay, but I gave to these and their fathers to enjoy, till there came to them the truth, and a Messenger making things clear.

30. And when the truth came to them, they said: “This is magic, and we disbelieve therein.”

31. And they say: “Why is not this Qur’an sent down to some great man of the two towns?”

32. Is it they who would portion out the mercy of your Lord? It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this world, and We raised some of them above others in ranks, so that some may employ others in their work. But the mercy of your Lord is better than what they amass.

33. And were it not that mankind would have become of one community, We would have provided for those who disbelieve in the Most Gracious, silver roofs for their houses, and elevators whereby they ascend,

34. And for their houses, doors, and thrones on which they could recline,

35. And adornments of gold. Yet all this would have been nothing but an enjoyment of this world. And the Hereafter with your Lord is for those who have Taqwa.}

Ibrahim’s Declaration of Tawhid

Here Allah tells us about His servant, Messenger and close Friend, the leader of the monotheists and the father of all subsequent Prophets, from whom Quraysh were descended and claimed to have taken their religion. He disowned his father’s and his people’s worship of idols and said: “Verily, I am innocent of what you worship, except Him Who created me; and verily, He will guide me.” And he made it a Word lasting among his offspring,” The Word means the worship of Allah Alone with no partner or associate, and the denunciation of all gods apart from Him, i.e., La ilaha illallah. He left this word as an example to be followed by those of his progeny who were guided by Allah. “that they may turn back.” means, come back to this word. Ikrimah, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, As-Suddi and others commented on the Ayah: “And he made it a Word lasting among his offspring,” “This means, La ilaha illallah, and there are still those among his offspring who say it.” (At-Tabari 21:589) A similar view was narrated from Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him. Ibn Zayd said, “The word of Islam,” (Al-Qurtubi 21:77) which refers to the same thing suggested by the group.

How the People of Makkah turned away from the Messenger and opposed Him, and His Response

Allah further says: “Nay, but I gave to these” means, the idolators, “and their fathers” means, they lived a long life in their misguidance. “till there came to them the truth, and a Messenger making things clear.” means, his message is clear and his warning is clear. “And when the truth came to them, they said: “This is magic, and we disbelieve therein.” means, they were arrogant and stubborn, and they pushed him away out of disbelief, envy and transgression. “And they say” means, objecting to that which Allah has revealed to him, “Why is not this Qur’an sent down to some great man of the two towns?” meaning, why was this Qur’an not revealed to some man who was great and prominent in their eyes, from the two towns, i.e., Makkah and At-Ta’if. This was the view of Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Ikrimah, Muhammad bin Kab Al-Qurazi, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd. (At-Tabari 21:592, 593)

Several scholars of Tafsir stated that by this, the Quraysh meant Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah and Urwah bin Masud Ath-Thaqafi. The apparent meaning is that what they meant was a great man from either of the two towns. Allah responded to their rejection by saying: “Is it they who would portion out the mercy of your Lord?” meaning, the matter has nothing to do with them; it is for Allah to decide. Allah knows best where to direct His Message, and He does not reveal it except to the one who is the purest in heart and soul, and of the noblest descent.

Then Allah points out that He differentiates among His creation in terms of what He gives them of wealth, provision, intellect, understanding and other visible and hidden strengths: “It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this world…so that some may employ others in their work.” It was said that this means that some employ others in their work, because one needs the other, and vice versa. This was the view of As-Suddi and others. (At-Tabari 21:595) “But the mercy of your Lord is better than which they amass.” means, the mercy of Allah towards His creation is better for them than the wealth and conveniences of this world which they possess.

Wealth is not a Sign of Divine Pleasure

“And were it not that mankind would have become of one community,” means, ‘were it not for the fact that many ignorant people would think that Our giving them wealth was a sign that We love the person to whom We give it, and thus they would have agreed upon disbelief for the sake of wealth.’ This is the view of Ibn Abbas, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi and others. (At-Tabari 21:597) “We would have provided for those who disbelieve in the Most Gracious, silver roofs for their houses, and elevators” means, ladders and staircases of silver. This was the view of Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah, As-Suddi, Ibn Zayd and others. (At-Tabari 21:600) “whereby they ascend,” means, go up. And their houses would have doors, i.e., locks on their doors, “and thrones on which they could recline,” means, all of that would be made of silver. “And adornments” means, and gold. This was the view of Ibn Abbas, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd. (At-Tabari 21:601, 602) “Yet all this would have been nothing but an enjoyment of this world.” means, all that belongs to this transient world which is insignificant before Allah. He hastens their reward for good deeds in the form of luxuries in this world, so that when they reach the Hereafter, they will have no good merits with Allah for which they may be rewarded, as was reported in the Sahih Hadith. (Muslim 4:2162) It was reported in another Hadith:

“If this world were worth a gnat’s wing before Allah, He would not give a disbeliever a drink of water.” (At-Tirmidhi 6:611)

Al-Baghawi narrated its chain of narration. (Al-Baghawi 4:138) “And the Hereafter with your Lord is (only) for those who have Taqwa.” means, it is exclusively for them, and no one else will share it with them. When Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, visited the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in seclusion, when he was keeping away from his wives, and he saw him resting on a rough mat which had left marks on his side, his eyes filled with tears and he said, “O Messenger of Allah, look at this Chosroes and this Caesar with all that they have, and you are the best of Allah’s creation. ” The Messenger of Allah was reclining, but he sat up and said:

“Are you in doubt, O son of Al-Khattab?”

Then he, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“Those are people for whom the enjoyments are hastened in this world.” (Muslim 2:113)

According to another report:

“Does it not please you that this world is for them and the Hereafter is for us?” (Muslim 2:110)

In as the Two Sahihs and elsewhere, it is reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“Do not drink from vessels of gold and silver, and do not eat from plates of the same, for these things are for them in this world and for us in the Hereafter.” (Fath Al-Bari 9:465)

Allah has granted these things to them in this world because it is insignificant, as was reported by At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah via Abu Hazim from Sahl bin Sad, who said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“If this world were worth a gnat’s wing before Allah, He would never give a disbeliever a drink of water.”

At-Tirmidhi said: “Hasan Sahih.”

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 8 Pages 615-636

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