Surah Al-Anbiya Ayat 68-90

{68. They said: “Burn him and help your gods, if you will be doing.” 

69. We said: “O fire! Be you cool and safety for Ibrahim!” 

70. And they wanted to harm him, but We made them the worst losers.}

How Ibrahim was thrown into the Fire and how Allah controlled it

When their arguments were refuted and their incapability became clear, when truth was made manifest and falsehood was defeated, they resorted to using their power and strength, and said: “Burn him and help your gods, if you will be doing.” So they gathered together a huge amount of wood.

As-Suddi said, “If a woman was sick, she would make a vow that if she recovered she would bring wood to burn Ibrahim. Then they made a hole in the ground and set it aflame, and it burned with huge sparks and immense flames. There had never been a fire like it. They put Ibrahim, peace be upon him, into a catapult, at the suggestion of a nomadic Kurdish man from Persia.” (Al-Qurtubi 11:303) Shuayb Al-Jabai said, “His name was Hayzan, and Allah caused the earth to swallow him up, and he will remain sinking into it until the Day of Resurrection. When they threw him he said, ‘Sufficient for me is Allah, and He is the best disposer of affairs.'” (At-Tabari 18:465)  This is similar to what Al-Bukhari recorded from Ibn Abbas that Ibrahim said, “Sufficient for me is Allah, and He is the best disposer of affairs,” when he was thrown into the fire, and Muhammad said it when they said: “Verily, the people have gathered against you, therefore, fear them. But it increased them in faith, and they said: “Allah is sufficient for us, and He is the best disposer of affairs.” (3:173). (Fath Al-Bari 8:77)

Said bin Jubayr reported that Ibn Abbas said: “When Ibrahim was thrown into the fire, the keeper (angel) of the rain said: ‘When will I be commanded to send rain’ But the command of Allah was more swift. Allah said: “O fire! Be you cool and safety for Ibrahim!”, and there was no fire left on earth that was not extinguished.” (At-Tabari 18:466)

Ibn Abbas and Abu Al-Aliyah said: “Were it not for the fact that Allah said, “and safety”, Ibrahim would have been harmed by its coldness. (At-Tabari 18:466)

Qatadah said: “On that day there was no creature that did not try to extinguish the fire for Ibrahim, except for the gecko.” (At-Tabari 18:467) Az-Zuhri said: “The Prophet commanded that it should be killed, and called it a harmful vermin.” (At-Tabari 18:467) “And they wanted to harm him, but We made them the worst losers.” they were defeated and humiliated, because they wanted to plot against the Prophet of Allah, but Allah planned against them and saved him from the fire, and thus they were defeated.

{71. And We rescued him and Lut to the land which We have blessed for the nations. 

72. And We bestowed upon him Ishaq, and Yaqub Nafilatan. Each one We made righteous. 

73. And We made them leaders, guiding by Our command, and We revealed to them the doing of good deeds, performing Salah, and the giving of Zakah, and of Us (Alone) they were the worshippers. 

74. And (remember) Lut, We gave him wisdom and knowledge, and We saved him from the town who practised Al-Khaba’ith*. Verily, they were a people given to evil, and were rebellious. 

75. And We admitted him to Our mercy; truly, he was of the righteous.}

[*Meaning filthy, evil behaviour]
The Migration of Ibrahim to Ash-Sham (Greater Syria), accompanied by Lut

Allah tells us that He saved Ibrahim from the fire lit by his people, and brought him out from among them, migrating to the land of Ash-Sham, to the sacred regions thereof. “And We bestowed upon him Ishaq, and Yaqub Nafilatan.” Ata and Mujahid said, “Nafilatan means as a gift.” (At-Tabari 18:471)  Ibn Abbas, Qatadah (ibid) and Al-Hakam bin Uyaynah (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 5:643) said, “The gift of a son who has a son,” meaning that Yaqub was the son of Ishaq, as Allah says: “But We gave her glad tidings of Ishaq, and after Ishaq, of Yaqub” (11:71). Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said, “He asked for one (son), and said, “My Lord! Grant me from the righteous.” So Allah gave him Ishaq, and gave him Yaqub in addition. “Each one We made righteous.” means, both of them were good and righteous people. “And We made them leaders” means, examples to be followed. “guiding by Our command” inviting to Him by His leave. Allah says: “and We revealed to them the doing of good deeds, performing Salah, and the giving of Zakah,” Here the general is followed by the specific. “and of Us (Alone) they were the worshippers.” means, they did what they enjoined others to do.

The Prophet Lut

Then Allah mentions Lut, whose full name was Lut bin Haran bin Azar. He believed in Ibrahim and followed him, and migrated with him, as Allah says: “So Lut believed in him. He (Ibrahim) said: “I will emigrate for the sake of my Lord” (29:26). Allah gave him wisdom and knowledge; He sent Revelation to him, made him a Prophet and appointed him to Sadum (Sodom) and its vicinity, but they rejected him and resisted him, so Allah utterly destroyed them, as He tells us in several places in His Book. Allah says; “and We saved him from the town who practised Al-Khaba’ith. Verily, they were a people given to evil, and were rebellious. And We admitted him to Our mercy; truly, he was of the righteous.”

{76. And (remember) Nuh, when he cried (to Us) aforetime. We answered to his invocation and saved him and his family from the great distress. 

77. We helped him against the people who denied Our Ayat. Verily, they were a people given to evil. So We drowned them all.}

Nuh and His People

Allah tells us how He responded to His servant and Messenger Nuh, peace be upon him, when he prayed to Him against his people for their disbelief in him: “Then he invoked his Lord (saying): “I have been overcome, so help (me)!” (54:10) “And Nuh said: “My Lord! Leave not any inhabitant of the disbelievers on the earth! If You leave them, they will mislead Your servants, and they will beget none but wicked disbelievers” (71:26-27). So Allah says here,

﴿إِذْ نَادَى مِن قَبْلُ فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ فَنَجَّيْنَـهُ وَأَهْلَهُ﴾

(And (remember) Nuh, when he cried (to Us) aforetime. We answered to his invocation and saved him and his family) meaning, those who believed with him, as Allah says elsewhere: “…and your family – except him against whom the Word has already gone forth – and those who believe. And none believed with him, except a few” (11: 40). “from the great distress.” meaning, from difficulty, rejection and harm. For he remained among them for one thousand years less fifty, calling them to Allah, and no one had believed in him except for a few. His people were plotting against him and advising one another century after century, generation after generation, to oppose him. “We helped him against the people” means, ‘We saved him and helped him against the people,’ “who denied Our Ayat. Verily, they were a people given to evil. So We drowned them all.” meaning, Allah drowned them all, and not one of them was left on the face of the earth, as their Prophet had prayed would happen to them.

{78. And (remember) Dawud and Sulayman, when they gave judgement in the case of the field in which the sheep of certain people had Nafashat; and We were witness to their judgement. 

79. And We made Sulayman to understand (the case); and to each of them We gave wisdom (Hukm) and knowledge. And We subjected the mountains and the birds to glorify Our praises along with Dawud. And it was We Who were the doer (of all these things). 

80. And We taught him the making of metal coats of mail (for battles), to protect you in your fighting. Are you then grateful 

81. And to Sulayman (We subjected) the wind strongly raging, running by his command towards the land which We had blessed. And of everything We are the All-Knower. 

82. And of the Shayatin were some who dived for him, and did other work besides that; and it was We Who guarded them.}

Dawud and Sulayman and the Signs which They were given; the Story of the People whose Sheep pastured at Night in the Field

Abu Ishaq narrated from Murrah from Ibn Masud: “That crop was grapes, bunches of which were dangling.” (At-Tabari 18:474) This was also the view of Shurayh. (At-Tabari 18:475) Ibn Abbas said: “Nafash means grazing.” (At-Tabari 18:477) Shurayh, Az-Zuhri and Qatadah said: “Nafash only happens at night.” (At-Tabari 18:477)  Qatadah added, “(and) Al-Haml is grazing during the day.” (At-Tabari 18:477) “And (remember) Dawud and Sulayman, when they gave judgement in the case of the field in which the sheep of certain people had pastured at night” Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn Masud said: “Grapes which had grown and their bunches were spoiled by the sheep. Dawud (David) ruled that the owner of the grapes should keep the sheep. Sulayman (Solomon) said, ‘Not like this, O Prophet of Allah!’ (Dawud)said, ‘How then?’ (Sulayman) said: ‘Give the grapes to the owner of the sheep and let him tend them until they grow back as they were, and give the sheep to the owner of the grapes and let him benefit from them until the grapes have grown back as they were. Then the grapes should be given back to their owner, and the sheep should be given back to their owner.’ This is what Allah said: “And We made Sulayman to understand (the case).” (At-Tabari 18:475) This was also reported by Al-Awfi from Ibn Abbas. (At-Tabari 18:475)

“And We made Sulayman to understand (the case); and to each of them We gave wisdom and knowledge.” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that when Iyas bin Muawiyah was appointed as a judge, Al-Hasan came to him and found Iyas weeping. Al-Hasan said, “Why are you weeping?” Iyas said, “O Abu Said, What I heard about judges among them a judge is he, who studies a case and his judgment is wrong, so he will go to Hell; another judge is he who is biased because of his own whims and desires, so he will go to Hell; and the other judge he who studies a case and gives the right judgement, so he will go to Paradise.” Al-Hasan Al-Basari said: “But what Allah tells us about Dawud and Sulayman (peace be upon them both) and the Prophets and whatever judgements they made proves that what these people said is wrong. Allah says: “And (remember) Dawud and Sulayman, when they gave judgement in the case of the field in which the sheep of certain people had pastured at night; and We were witness to their judgement.” Allah praised Sulayman but He did not condemn Dawud. Then he – Al-Hasan – said, “Allah enjoins three things upon the judges: not to sell thereby for some miserable price; not to follow their own whims and desires; and not to fear anyone concerning their judgements.” Then he recited: “O Dawud! Verily, We have placed you as a successor on the earth; so judge you between men in truth and follow not your desire – for it will mislead you from the path of Allah.” (38:26) “Therefore fear not men but fear Me” (5:44) “and sell not My Ayat for a miserable price.” (5:44) (Tahdhib Tarikh Dimashq 3:184) I say: with regard to the Prophets (peace be upon them all), all of them were infallible and supported by Allah. With regard to others, it is recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari from Amir bin Al-As that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“If the judge does his best, studies the case and reaches the right conclusion, he will have two rewards. If he does his best, studies the case and reaches the wrong conclusion, he will have one reward.” (Fath Al-Bari 13:330)

This Hadith refutes the idea of Iyas, who thought that if he did his best, studied the case and reached the wrong conclusion, he would go to Hell. And Allah knows best.

Similar to story in the Qur’an is the report recorded by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad from Abu Hurayrah, who said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“There were two women who each had a son. The wolf came and took one of the children, and they referred their dispute to Dawud. He ruled that the (remaining) child belonged to the older woman. They left, then Sulayman called them and said, “Give me a sword and I will divide him between the two of you.” The younger woman said, “May Allah have mercy on you! He is her child, do not cut him up!” So he ruled that the child belonged to the younger woman”. (Recorded in Ahmad 2:322)

This was also recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim in their Sahihs. (Recorded in Al-Bukhari 6769) An-Nasa’i also devoted a chapter to this in the Book of Judgements. (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 5958) “And We subjected the mountains and the birds to glorify Our praises along with Dawud.” This refers to the beauty of his voice when he recited his Book, Az-Zabur. When he recited it in a beautiful manner, the birds would stop and hover in the air, and would repeat after him, and the mountains would respond and echo his words.

The Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, passed by Abu Musa Al-Ashari while he was reciting Qur’an at night, and he had a very beautiful voice, he stopped and listened to his recitation, and said: “This man has been given one of the wind instruments (nice voices) of the family of Dawud.” He said: “O Messenger of Allah, if I had known that you were listening, I would have done my best for you.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:711) “And We taught him the making of metal coats of mail, to protect you in your fighting.” meaning, the manufacture of chain-armor. Qatadah said that before that, they used to wear plated armor; he was the first one to make rings of chain-armor. (At-Tabari 18:480) This is like the Ayah: “And We made the iron soft for him. Saying: “Make you perfect coats of mail, and balance well the rings of chain armour.” (34:10-11), meaning, do not make the pegs so loose that the rings (of chain mail) will shake, or make it so tight that they will not be able to move at all. Allah says: “to protect you in your fighting.” meaning, in your battles.“Are you then grateful?” means, ‘Allah blessed you when He inspired His servant Dawud and taught him that for your sake.’

The Power of Sulayman is unparalleled
“And to Sulayman (We subjected) the wind strongly raging,” means, ‘We subjugated the strong wind to Sulayman.’ “running by his command towards the land which We had blessed.” meaning, the land of Ash-Sham (Greater Syria). “And of everything We are the All-Knower.” He had a mat made of wood on which he would place all the equipment of his kingship; horses, camels, tents and troops, then he would command the wind to carry it, and he would go underneath it and it would carry him aloft, shading him and protecting him from the heat, until it reached wherever he wanted to go in the land. Then it would come down and deposit his equipment and entourage. Allah says: “So, We subjected to him the wind; it blew gently by his order whithersoever he willed.” (38:36) “its morning was a month’s (journey), and its afternoon was a month’s” (34:12) “And of the Shayatin were some who dived for him” means, they dived into the water to retrieve pearls, jewels, etc. for him. “and did other work besides that” This is like the Ayah: “And also the Shayatin, every kind of builder and diver. And also others bound in fetters.” (38:37-38).“and it was We Who guarded them.” means, Allah protected him lest any of these Shayatin did him any harm. All of them were subject to his control and domination, and none of them would have dared to approach him. He was in charge of them and if he wanted, he could set free or detain whomever among them he wished. Allah says:“And also others bound in fetters.” (38:38)

{83. And (remember) Ayyub, when he cried to his Lord: “Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy.” 

84. So We answered his call, and We removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his family to him, and the like thereof along with them as a mercy from Ourselves and a Reminder for all those who worship Us.}

The Prophet Ayyub Allah tells us about Ayyub (Job), and the trials that struck him, affecting his wealth, children and physical health.

He had plenty of livestock, cattle and crops, many children and beautiful houses, and he was tested in these things, losing every thing he had. Then he was tested with regard to his body, and he was left alone on the edge of the city and there was no one who treated him with compassion apart from his wife, who took care of him. It was said that it reached the stage where she was in need, so she started to serve people (to earn money) for his sake. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“The people who are tested the most severely are the Prophets, then the righteous, then the next best and the next best”. (At-Tabarani 24:245)

According to another Hadith:

“A man will be tested according to his level of religious commitment; the stronger his religious commitment, the more severe will be his test.” (Ahmad 1:180)

The Prophet of Allah, Ayyub, upon him be peace, had the utmost patience, and he is the best example of that. Yazid bin Maysarah said: “When Allah tested Ayyub, upon him be peace, with the loss of his family, wealth and children, and he had nothing left, he started to focus upon the remembrance of Allah, and he said: ‘I praise You, the Lord of lords, Who bestowed His kindness upon me and gave me wealth and children, and there was no corner of my heart that was not filled with attachment to these worldly things, then You took all of that away from me and You emptied my heart, and there is nothing to stand between me and You. If my enemy Iblis knew of this, he would be jealous of me. ‘ When Iblis heard of this, he became upset. And Ayyub, upon him be peace, said: ‘O Lord, You gave me wealth and children, and there was no one standing at my door complaining of some wrong I had done to him. You know that. I used to have a bed prepared for me, but I forsook it and said to myself: You were not created to lie on a comfortable bed. I only forsook that for Your sake.” This was recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim.

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“When Allah healed Ayyub, He sent upon him a shower of golden locusts, and he started to pick them up and gather them in his garment. It was said to him, “O Ayyub, have you not had enough” He said, “O Lord, who can ever have enough of Your mercy?” (Ibn Abi Hatim 8:2461) 

The basis of this Hadith is recorded in the Two Sahihs, as we shall see below. “and We restored his family to him (that he had lost) and the like thereof along with them” It was reported that Ibn Abbas said: “They themselves were restored to him.” (At-Tabari 18:506) This was also narrated by Al-Awfi from Ibn Abbas. (At-Tabari 18:506) Something similar was also narrated from Ibn Masud and Mujahid, and this was the view of Al-Hasan and Qatadah. (At-Tabari 18:506) Mujahid said: “It was said to him, ‘O Ayyub, your family will be with you in Paradise; if you want, We will bring them back to you, or if you want, We will leave them for you in Paradise and will compensate you with others like them.’ He said, ‘No, leave them for me in Paradise.’ So they were left for him in Paradise, and he was compensated with others like them in this world.” “as a mercy from Ourselves” means, ‘We did that to him as a mercy from Allah towards him.’“and a Reminder for all those who worship Us.” means, ‘We made him an example lest those who are beset by trials think that We do that to them because We do not care for them, so that they may take him as an example of patience in accepting the decrees of Allah and bearing the trials with which He tests His servants as He wills.’ And Allah has the utmost wisdom with regard to that.

{85. And (remember) Ismail, Idris and Dhul-Kifl: All were from among the patient. 

86. And We admitted them to Our mercy. Verily, they were of the righteous.}

Ismail, Idris and Dhul-Kifl Ismail was the son of Ibrahim Al-Khalil, peace be upon them both. He has already been mentioned in Surah Maryam, where mention was also made of Idris. From the context and the fact that Dhul-Kifl is mentioned alongside Prophets, it appears that he was also a Prophet. Others say that he was a righteous man, a just king and a fair judge. Ibn Jarir refrained from making any decisive comment. (At-Tabari 18:507) And Allah knows best.

{87. And (remember) Dhun-Nun, when he went off in anger, and imagined that We shall not punish him! But he cried through the darknesses (Zulumat) (saying): “There is no God but You, Glorified be You! Truly, I have been of the Zalimin wrongdoers.” 

88. So We answered his call, and delivered him from the distress. And thus We do deliver the believers.}

Yunus

This story is mentioned here, and in Surat As-Saffat and Surah Nun. Yunus bin Matta, upon him be peace, was sent by Allah to the people of Nineveh, which was a town in the area of Mawsil [in northern Iraq]. He called them to Allah, but they rejected him and persisted in their disbelief. So he left them in anger, threatening them with punishment after three days. When they realized that he was telling the truth and that a Prophet never lies, they went out to the desert with their children and cattle and flocks. They separated the mothers from their children, then they beseeched Allah and pleaded to Him, with the camels and their young groaning, the cows and their calves mooing, and the sheep and their lambs bleating, so Allah spared them from the punishment. Allah says: “Was there any town that believed (after seeing the punishment), and its faith saved it Except the people of Yunus; when they believed, We removed from them the torment of disgrace in the life of the world, and permitted them to enjoy for a while” (10:98).

Yunus, meanwhile, went and traveled with some people on a ship, which was tossed about on the sea. The people were afraid that they would drown, so they cast lots to choose a man whom they would throw overboard. The lot fell to Yunus, but they refused to throw him overboard. This happened a second and a third time. Allah says: “Then he (agreed to) cast lots, and he was among the losers.” (37:141) meaning, the draw went against him, so Yunus stood up, removed his garment and cast himself into the sea. Then Allah sent from the Green Sea – according to what Ibn Masud said – a large fish which cleaved the oceans until it came and swallowed Yunus when he threw himself into the sea. Allah inspired that large fish not to devour his flesh or break his bones, (as if He said) Yunus is not food for you, rather your belly is a prison for him. “And (remember) Dhun-Nun,” Here Nun refers to the fish; it is correct for it to be attributed to him here.“when he went off in anger,” Ad-Dahhak said: “Anger towards his people.” “and imagined that We shall not punish him!” meaning, constrict him in the belly of the fish. Something similar to this was reported from Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak and others. (At-Tabari 18:514) This was the view favored by Ibn Jarir, and he quoted as evidence for that the Ayah: “and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. Allah will grant after hardship, ease” (65:7).“But he cried through the depths of darkness (saying): “There is no God but You, Glorified be You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers.” Ibn Masud said regarding the ‘depths of darkness’: “The darkness of the belly of the fish, the darkness of the sea and the darkness of the night.” (Al-Qurtubi 11:333)  This was also narrated from Ibn Abbas, Amr bin Maymun, Said bin Jubayr, Muhammad bin Kab, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan and Qatadah. (At-Tabari 18:516) Salim bin Abu Al-Jad said: “The darkness of the fish in the belly of another fish in the darkness of the sea.” (At-Tabari 18:517) Ibn Masud, Ibn Abbas and others said: “This was because the fish took him through the sea, cleaving it until it reached the bottom of the sea. Yunus heard the rocks at the bottom of the sea uttering glorification of Allah, at which point he said: “There is no God but You, Glorified be You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers” (Ibn Abi Shaybah 11:541) Awf Al-Arabi said: “When Yunus found himself in the belly of the fish, he thought that he had died. Then he moved his legs. When he moved his legs, he prostrated where he was, then he called out: ‘O Lord, I have taken a place of worship to You in a place which no other person has reached.” (At-Tabari 18:518) “So ‘We answered his call, and delivered him from the distress.” means, ‘We brought him forth from the belly of the fish and from that darkness.’ “And thus We do deliver the believers.” means, when they are in difficulty and they call upon Us and repent to Us, especially if they call upon Us with these words at the time of distress.

The leader of the Prophets encouraged us to call upon Allah with these words. Imam Ahmad recorded that Sad bin Abi Waqqas, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “I passed by Uthman bin Affan, may Allah be pleased with him, in the Masjid, and greeted him. He stared at me but did not return my Salam. I went to Umar bin Al-Khattab and said: ‘O Commander of the faithful, has something happened in Islam’ I said that twice. He said, ‘No, why do you ask?’ I said, ‘I passed by Uthman a short while ago in the Masjid and greeted him, and he stared at me but he did not return my Salam.’ Umar sent for ‘Uthman and asked him, `Why did you not return your brother’s Salam?’ He said, ‘That is not true.’ Sad said, `Yes it is.’ It reached the point where they both swore oaths. Then `Uthman remembered and said, `Yes, you are right, I seek the forgiveness of Allah and I repent to Him. You passed by me a short while ago but I was preoccupied with thoughts of something I had heard from the Messenger of Allah , which I never think of but a veil comes down over my eyes and my heart.’ Sa`d said: `And I will tell you what it was. The Messenger of Allah told us the first part of the supplication then a bedouin came and kept him busy, then the Messenger of Allah got up and I followed him. When I felt worried that he would enter his house, I stamped my feet. I turned to the Messenger of Allah , who said,

“Who is this Abu Ishaq?”

I said, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” He said,

“What is the matter?”

I said, “Nothing, by Allah, except that you told us the first part of the supplication, then this bedouin came and kept you busy.” He said,

“Yes, the supplicaton of Dhun-Nun when he was in the belly of the fish:“There is no God but You, Glorified be You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers.” “No Muslim ever prays to his Lord with these words for anything, but He will answer his prayer.” (Ahmad 1:170)

It was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi, and by An-Nasa’i in Al-Yawm wal-Laylah. (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 9:479)

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Sad said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Whoever offers supplication in the words of the supplication of Yunus, will be answered.” 

Abu Said said: “He was referring to:“And thus We do deliver the believers.” (Al-Hakim 2:584)

{89. And (remember) Zakariyya, when he cried to his Lord: “O My Lord! Leave me not single (childless), though You are the Best of the inheritors.” 

90. So We answered his call, and We bestowed upon him Yahya, and cured his wife for him. Verily, they used to hasten on to do good deeds, and they used to call on Us with hope and fear, and they were Khashi`in before Us.}

Zakariyya and Yahya

Allah tells us of His servant Zakariyya, who asked Allah to grant him a son who would be a Prophet after him. The story has already been given in detail at the beginning of Surah Maryam and also in Surah Imran. Here an abbreviated version is given. “when he cried to his Lord” means, in secret, hiding it from his people. “O My Lord! Leave me not single,” means, with no child and no heir to stand among the people after me. “though You are the Best of the inheritors.” This is a supplication and form of praise befitting the topic. Allah says:“So We answered his call, and We bestowed upon him Yahya, and cured his wife for him.” Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and Said bin Jubayr said: “She was barren and never had a child, then she gave birth.” (At-Tabari 18:520)

“Verily, they used to hasten on to do good deeds,” means, acts of worship and acts of obedience towards Allah. “and they used to call on Us with hope and fear,” Ath-Thawri said, “Hoping for that (reward) which is with Us and fearing that (punishment) which is with Us.” “and they were Khashi`in before Us.” (Tafsier Ath-Thawri 204) Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn Abbas that this means, sincerely believing in that which was revealed by Allah. Mujahid said: “Truly believing.” (At-Tabari 16:2) Abu Al-Aliyah said: “Fearing.” (At-Tabari 16:2) Abu Sinan said: “Khushu means the fear which should never leave our hearts.” It was also reported from Mujahid that the Khashi`in are those who are humble.” Al-Hasan, Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak said, “The Khashi`in are those who humble themselves before Allah.” (Al-Kashshaf 3:133) All of these suggestions are close in meaning.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir Vol 6 (Abridged) Pages 465-487