Surah Al-Ahqaf Ayat 21-35 (end)

{21. And remember the brother of Ad, when he warned his people in Al-Ahqaf. And surely, warners had already passed on before him and after him (saying): “Worship none but Allah; truly, I fear for you the torment of a mighty Day.”

22. They said: “Have you come to delude us from our gods? Then bring us that with which you threaten us, if you are one of the truthful!”

23. He said: “The knowledge (of that) is only with Allah. And I convey to you that wherewith I have been sent, but I see that you are a people given to ignorance!”

24. Then, when they saw it as a dense cloud approaching their valleys, they said: “This is a cloud bringing us rain!” Nay, but it is that which you were asking to be hastened – a wind wherein is a painful torment!

25. Destroying everything by the command of its Lord! So they became such that nothing could be seen except their dwellings! Thus do We recompense the criminal people!}

The Story of Ad

Allah says, consoling His Prophet in regard to the rejection of those who opposed him among his people, “And remember the brother of Ad,” This refers to Hud, peace be upon in him. Allah sent him to the first people of Ad who inhabited Al-Ahqaf. Ahqaf is plural of Haqf. According to Ibn Zayd, it means a sand dune (At-Tabari 22:125) ; and according to Ikrimah, it means a mountain or a cave. Qatadah said: “We were informed that Ad was a tribe in Yemen. They dwelt among sand (hills), and overlooked the sea in a land called Ash-Shihr.” (At-Tabari 22:124)

Under the chapter, “He Who supplicates should first mention Himself,” Ibn Majah recorded that Ibn Abbas narrated that the Prophet said: “May Allah have mercy on us and the Brother of Ad.” Allah then says, “And surely, warners had already passed on before him and after him.” meaning, Allah had sent Messengers and warners to the towns surrounding the land of Ad. This is similar to Allah’s saying, “And We made it a deterrent punishment for those who were present and those who succeeded them.” (2:66) And it is also similar to Allah’s saying, “But if they turn away, then say: “I have warned you of a thunderbolt like the thunderbolt that struck Ad and Thamud. (That occurred) when the Messengers had come to them from before them and after them (saying): “Worship none but Allah.” (41:13-14)

Allah then says, “truly, I fear for you the torment of a mighty Day.” meaning, Hud said this to them (his people), and they responded to him saying, “Have you come to delude us from our gods?” meaning, to prevent us. “from our gods” “Then bring us that with which you threaten us, if you are one of the truthful!” They sought to hasten Allah’s torment and punishment, believing that it will not happen. This is similar to Allah’s saying, “Those who do not believe in it (the Last Hour) seek to hasten it” (42:18). Hud’s response was, “He said: “The knowledge (of that) is only with Allah.” which means, Allah knows best about you. If you deserve the punishment to be hastened, He will do that to you. As for me, my duty is to deliver my message to you.’ “But I see that you are a people given to ignorance!” which means, ‘you have no comprehension or understanding.’ Allah then says, “Then, when they saw it as a dense cloud approaching their valleys,” meaning, when they saw the punishment coming towards them, they thought it to be clouds full of rain. That made them happy and joyful, because they had a drought and needed rain.

Allah then said, “Nay, but it is that which you were asking to be hastened – a wind wherein is a painful torment!” meaning, this is the torment that you called for saying, “Bring to us what you promise us if you should be of the truthful.” “Destroying every thing” meaning, destroying every part of their land that could normally be destroyed. “by the command of its Lord!” meaning, it had Allah’s permission to do that. This is similar to Allah’s saying, “It spared nothing that it reached, but blew it into broken spreads of rotten ruins.” (51:42) meaning, like something dilapidated (or decrepit). Because of this, Allah says, “So they became such that nothing could be seen except their dwellings!” means, all of them were destroyed, and none of them were spared. Allah then says: “Thus do We recompense the criminal people!” which means that this is Our judgement regarding those who reject Our Messengers and disobey Our commands.

Imam Ahmad recorded from A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, that she said, “I never saw Allah’s Messenger fully laughing so that I would see his uvula. He would only smile.” She added that when Allah’s Messenger saw clouds or wind, that would reflect on his face (as discomfort). She asked him: “O Allah’s Messenger! When the people see clouds, they become happy, hoping that they bring them rain. But I notice that when you see them, displeasure appears on your face.” Allah’s Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, replied,

“O A’ishah! What would guarantee to me that they do not bring punishment? Some nations had been punished with wind. On seeing the punishment approaching them, a nation once said: “This is a cloud bringing us rain.” (Ahmad 6:66)

This is also recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

Imam Ahmad recorded that A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said that when Allah’s Messenger saw clouds on any of the horizons, he would leave whatever he was doing — even if he was in prayer — and say: “O Allah! I seek refuge with you from any harm that it (the cloud) contains.” If Allah removed those clouds, the Prophet would praise Allah, and if rain fell, he would say: “O Allah! Make it pouring and beneficent.” (Ahmad 6:190) Muslim also recorded in his Sahih from A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, that when the wind blew, Allah’s Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, would say,

“O Allah! I ask You of its good, the good that it contains, and the good with which it has been sent. And I seek refuge in You from its evil, the evil that it contains, and the evil with which it has been sent.”

She added that if the sky became cloudy, his color would change; he would exit, enter, come, and go. When it rained, his anxiety would be relieved. When A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, noticed that, she asked him about it and he said: “O A’ishah! It could be like what the people of Ad said, “Then, when they saw it as a dense cloud approaching their valleys, they said: “This is a cloud bringing us rain!” (Muslim 2:616) We have previously mentioned the story of the destruction of the people of Ad in both Surat Al-Araf and Surah Hud. Thus, there is no need to repeat it here; and verily Allah is worthy of all praise and gratitude.

{26. And indeed We had firmly established them with that wherewith We have not established you! We also gave them hearing, vision, and hearts. But their hearing, vision, and hearts availed them nothing since they used to deny the Ayat of Allah, and they were completely encircled by that which they used to ridicule!

27. And indeed We have destroyed towns round about you, and We have shown (them) the signs in various ways so that they might return.

28. As for those whom they had taken for gods besides Allah, as the means of approach to Him, why then did they not aid them? Nay, but they vanished completely from them. And that was their falsehood, and what they were fabricating.}

Allah says, ‘We have granted the earlier nations wealth and offspring in the worldly life. That which We granted them, we did not give you anything similar or close to it.’ Furthermore, “We also gave them hearing, vision, and hearts. But their hearing, vision, and hearts availed them nothing when they used to deny Allah’s signs, and they were completely encircled by that which they used to ridicule!” meaning, they were encircled by the torment and exemplary punishment that they denied and whose occurrence they doubted. This means, you listeners must beware of being like them lest a punishment similar to theirs strikes you in this life and the Hereafter. Allah then says, “And indeed We have destroyed towns round about you,” This is addressed to the people of Makkah. Allah destroyed the nations who disbelieved in the Messengers who lived around Makkah, such as Ad who were at Al-Ahqaf in Hadramawt near Yemen, Thamud whose dwellings were between Makkah and Ash-Sham (Greater Syria), Saba’ who were in Yemen, the people of Madyan who were on the route and passage to Ghazzah (Western Palestine), and the people of Lut who dwelt by the lake (the Dead Sea) which they used to pass by (on the way to Jordan) as well. Allah then says, “and We have shown (them) the signs in various ways” meaning, ‘We explained and clarified them.’ “so that perhaps they might return. As for those whom they had taken for gods besides Allah, as the means of approach to Him, why then did they not aid them” meaning, did they help them when they were in the greatest need for them “but they vanished completely from them.” Rather, they completely left them alone when they needed them the most. “And that was their falsehood,” meaning, their lie. “and what they were fabricating.” which means that they fabricated lies by taking them as gods, and they lost and failed in their worship of them and their reliance upon them – and Allah knows best.

{29. And (remember) when We sent toward you a group of the Jinn, to listen to the Qur’an. When they attended it, they said: “Listen quietly!” And when it was concluded, they returned to their people, as warners.

30. They said: “O our people! Verily, we have heard a Book sent down after Musa, confirming what came before it, it guides to the truth and to the straight path.”

31. “O our people! Respond to Allah’s Caller, and believe in him. He (Allah) will forgive you some of your sins, and protect you from a painful torment.”

32. “And whosoever does not respond to Allah’s Caller, he cannot escape on earth, and he will not have besides Allah any protectors. Those are in manifest error.”}

The Story of the Jinns listening to the Qur’an

Imam Ahmad recorded from Az-Zubayr that he commented on the Ayah; “And (remember) when We sent towards you a group of the Jinn, to listen to the Qur’an.” “They were at a place called Nakhlah [a valley between Makkah and Ta’if] while Allah’s Messenger was performing the Isha’ prayer, and “they crowded on top of each other to hear him.” (72:19) Sufyan said, “They stood on top of each other like piled wool.” (Ahmad 1:167) Ahmad was alone in recording this. Imam Ahmad and the famous Imam, Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bayhaqi in his book Dala’il An-Nubuwwah, both recorded that Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Allah’s Messenger never recited Qur’an to the Jinns, nor did he see them. Allah’s Messenger was heading with a group of his Companions towards the Ukaz market. At that time, the devils had been prevented from eavesdropping on the news of the heavens, and they were being attacked by burning flames (whenever they tried to listen). When the devils went back to their people, they asked them what happened to them, and they answered, ‘We have been prevented from eavesdropping on the news of the heavens, and burning flames now attack us.’ Their people told them, ‘You have only been prevented from eavesdropping on the information of the heavens because of something (major) that has happened. So go all over the earth, east and west, and see what is it that has obstructed you from eavesdropping on the news of the heavens.’ Thus they traveled all over the earth, east and west, seeking that which had obstructed them from eavesdropping on the news of the heavens. A group of them went towards Tihamah, [a village about seventy-two miles towards the west of Al-Madinah] and found Allah’s Messenger while he was at a place called Nakhlah along the way to the Ukaz market. He was leading his Companions in the Fajr prayer. When the Jinns heard the recitation of the Qur’an, they stopped to listen to it, and then they said: ‘By Allah! This is what has prevented you from eavesdropping on the news of the heavens.’ Then they returned to their people and told them: ‘Our people! We certainly have heard an amazing recitation (the Qur’an), it guides to the right path. So we have believed in it, and we will join none in worship with our Lord.’ So Allah revealed to His Prophet , “Say: It has been revealed to me that a group of Jinns have listened (to the Qur’an).” (72:19) Thus, what was revealed to him was only the saying of the Jinns.” Al-Bukhari recorded a similar narration, and Muslim recorded it (as it is here). At-Tirmidhi also recorded it, as did An-Nasa’i in his Tafsir. (Bukhari 773)

Abdullah bin Masud reported that the Jinns came down upon the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, while he was reciting the Qur’an at a place called Nakhlah. When they heard him, “They said: “Listen quietly.” meaning, hush! They were nine in number, and one of them was called Zawba’ah. So Allah revealed, “And when We sent toward you a group of Jinns, to listen to the Qur’an. When they attended it, they said: “Listen quietly!” And when it was concluded, they returned to their people as warners.” until His saying: “manifest error.” (Al-Hakim 2:456) Thus, this report along with the above one by Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, indicate that Allah’s Messenger was not aware of the presence of the Jinns at that time. They only listened to his recitation and went back to their people. Later on, they came to him in groups, one party after another, and one group after another. As for Allah’s saying, “they returned to their people as warners.” It means that they went back to their people and warned them about what they heard from Allah’s Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. This is similar to Allah’s saying, “…that they may obtain understanding in religion and warn their people when they return to them, so that they might be cautious (of evil).” (9:122) This Ayah has been used as evidence that the Jinns have warners from among themselves, but no Messengers. There is no doubt that Allah did not send Messengers from among the Jinns, because He says,“And We did not send before you as Messengers any but men, to whom We revealed from among the people of cities.” (12:109) And Allah says, “And We never sent before you any of the Messengers but verily they ate food and walked in the markets.” (25:20) And He says about Ibrahim Al-Khalil, upon him be peace, “…And We placed in his descendants prophethood and Scripture.” (29:27) Thus, every Prophet whom Allah sent after Ibrahim was from his offspring and progeny. As for Allah’s saying in Surat Al-Anam, “O company of Jinns and human beings! Did there not come to you Messengers from among you?” (6:130) It only applies to the two kinds collectively, but specifically pertains to just one of them, which is the human. This is like Allah’s saying, “From both of them (salty and fresh waters) emerge pearl and Marjan.” (55:22) Although He said “both of them” this applies to only one of the two types of water “the salty water”. Allah then explains how the Jinns warned their people. He says, “They said: “O our people! Verily, we have heard a Book sent down after Musa…” They did not mention Isa, peace be upon him, because the Injil that was revealed to him contained admonitions and exhortations, but very few permissions or prohibitions. Thus, it was in reality like a complement to the legislation of the Tawrah, the Tawrah being the reference. That is why they said, “Sent down after Musa.” This is also the way that Waraqah bin Nawfal spoke when the Prophet told him about his first meeting with Jibril, An-Namus, peace be upon him. He said: “Very good, very good! This is (the angel) that used to come to Musa. I wish that I was still a young man (to support you).”

“Confirming what came before it,” meaning, the Scriptures that were revealed before it to the previous Prophets. They then said, “it guides to the truth” means in belief and information. “and to the straight path.” which means, in deeds. For verily, the Qur’an contains two things: information and commandments. Its information is true, and its commandments are all just, as Allah says, “And the Word of Your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice.” (6:115) Allah says, “It is He Who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth.” (9:122) The guidance is the beneficent knowledge, and the religion of truth means the righteous good deeds. Thus, the Jinns said, “it guides to the truth” in matters of belief, “and to the straight path.” meaning, in regard to actions. “O our people! Respond to Allah’s Caller,” This is proof that Muhammad has been sent to both the human beings and the Jinns. Thus, Allah says, “Respond to Allah’s Caller and believe in him.” Then Allah says, “He will then forgive you some of your sins,” Some scholars say that “some” here is auxiliary, but this is questionable since it is rarely used to strengthen an affirmative meaning. Others say that it means partial forgiveness. “and protect you from a painful torment.” meaning, He will protect you from His painful punishment. Then Allah informs that they said, “And whosoever does not respond to Allah’s Caller, he cannot escape on earth,” meaning, Allah’s power encompasses him and surrounds him. “and he will not have besides Allah any protectors.” meaning, no one can protect him against Allah. “Those are in manifest error.” This is a threat and warning. Thus, those Jinns called their people with encouragement and warning. Because of this, many of the Jinns took heed and came to Allah’s Messenger in successive delegations; and verily, Allah is worthy of all praise and gratitude, and Allah knows best.

{33. Do they not see that Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, and was not wearied by their creation, is Able to give life to the dead? Yes, He surely is Able to do all things.

34. And on the Day when those who disbelieve will be exposed to the Fire (it will be said to them): “Is this not the truth?” They will say: “Yes, by our Lord!” He will say: “Then taste the torment, because you used to disbelieve!”

35.Therefore be patient as did those of determination among the Messengers and be in no hurry for them. On the Day when they will see what they are promised, it will be as though they had not remained (in the world) except an hour in a day. (This is) a clear Message. But will any be destroyed except the defiantly rebellious people}

Commanding the Prophet to persevere

Allah then commands His Messenger to observe patience with those who rejected him among his people. He says, “Therefore be patient as did those of determination among the Messengers.” meaning, as they were patient with their people’s rejection of them. “Those of determination” among the Messengers are Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, Isa and the last of all of the Prophets, Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. Allah has specifically mentioned their names in two Ayat: Surat Al-Ahzab (33:7) and Surat Ash-Shura (42:13). “and be in no hurry for them.” which means, ‘do not rush the punishment for them.’ This is similar to Allah’s saying: “And leave Me alone to deal with the rejectors, those who are in possession of good things of life. And give them respite for a little while.” (73:11) “So allow time for the disbelievers, and leave them for a while.” (86:17) Then Allah says: “On the Day when they will see that which they are promised, it will be as though they had not remained (in the world) except an hour in a day.” Which is similar to Allah’s saying, “On the Day they see it (the Hour), it will be as though they had not remained (in the world) except for a day’s afternoon or its morning.” (79:46) and as He says, “And on the Day when He shall gather them together, (it will be) as if they had not stayed but an hour of a day. They will recognize each other.” (10:45) Then Allah says, “A clear message.” meaning, this Qur’an provides a clear concept. “But will any be destroyed except the defiantly rebellious people” Which means that Allah does not destroy anyone except those who choose the way of destruction. It is part of Allah’s justice that He does not punish anyone except those who deserve the punishment – and Allah knows best.

This concludes the explanation of Surat Al-Ahqaf.

And all praise and blessings are due to Allah.

Both success and protection from faults are by His help.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir Abridged (Vol 9) Pages 66-83

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