Surah Al-Hajj Ayat 1-16

Surah Al-Hajj

Which was revealed in Makkah

{1. O mankind! Have Taqwa of your Lord! Verily, the earthquake of the Hour is a terrible thing. 

2. The Day you shall see it, every nursing mother will forget her nursling, and every pregnant one will drop her load, and you shall see mankind as in a drunken state, yet they will not be drunk, but Allah’s torment is severe.}

The Hour
Allah commands His servants to have Taqwa of Him, He informs them of the terrors of the Day of Resurrection which will come to them with its earthquakes and other horrors, as He says: “When the earth is shaken with its (final) earthquake. And when the earth thrown out its burdens.” (99:1-2) “And the earth and the mountains shall be removed from their places, and crushed with a single crushing. Then on that Day shall the (Great) Event befall.” (69:14-15) And; “When the earth will be shaken with a terrible shake. And the mountains will be powdered to dust.” (56:4-5) It was said that this earthquake will come at the end of the life span of this world, at the outset of the Hour.
Ibn Jarir recorded that Alqamah commented on Allah’s saying, “Verily, the earthquake of the Hour (of Judgement) is a terrible thing.” “Before the Hour” (At-Tabari 18:57) Others said that this refers to the terror, fear, earthquakes and chaos that will happened on the Day of Resurrection, in the arena (of Judgement), after the resurrection from the graves. This was the view favoured by Ibn Jarir, who took the following Hadiths as evidence:
Imam Ahmad recorded that Imran bin Husayn said that when the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was on one of his journeys and some of his Companions had fallen behind, he raised his voice and recited these two Ayat: “O mankind! Have Taqwa of your Lord! Verily, the earthquake of the Hour is a terrible thing. The Day you shall see it, every nursing mother will forget her nursing, and every pregnant one will drop her load, and you shall see mankind as in a drunken state, yet they will not be drunken, but Allah’s torment is severe.”
When his Companions heard that, they hastened to catch up with him, because they knew that he wanted to say something. When they reached him, he said:
“Do you know what Day that is? That is the day when Adam will be called. His Lord will call him and will say: “O Adam, send forth (those of your progeny) who are to be sent to the Fire?” He will say, “O Lord, how many are to be sent to the Fire?” He will say, “”From every thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine will be in the Fire and one will be in Paradise.” 
His Companions were filled with despair and stopped smiling. When he saw that, he said:
“Be of good cheer and strive hard, for by the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, you will be counted with two creations who are of immense number, Yajuj and Majuj, and those who have already died of the progeny of Adam and the progeny of Ibis.”
Then they felt happier, and he said: “Strive hard and be of good cheer, for by the One on Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, in comparison to mankind you are like a mole on the flank of a camel or a mark on the foreleg of a beast.” (Ahmad 4:435)
This was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi and by An-Nasai in the Book of Tafsir in their Sunans. At-Tirmidhi said, “It is Hasan Sahih.” (Tihfat Al-Ahwadhi 9:12)
Another Version of this Hadith

At-Tirmidhi recorded from Imran bin Husayn that when the words,“O mankind! Have Taqwa of your Lord.” Until His saying,“but Allah’s torment is severe” were revealed, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was on a journey, and he said:

“Do you know what Day that is?” 

They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said:

“That is the Day on which Allah will say to Adam, “Send forth (those of your progeny) who are to be sent to the Fire.” He will say, “O Lord, how many are to be sent to the Fire?” He will say, “From every thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine will be in the Fire and one will be in Paradise.” The Muslims started to weep, then the Messenger of Allah said:

“Be close in your rank and be straight forward, for there was never any Prophet but there was a time of ignorance just before his advent, so the number will be taken from that time of ignorance, and if that is not enough, it will be made up from the hypocrites. A parable of yours in comparison to the other nations is that, you are like a mark on the foreleg of an animal, or a mole on the flank of a camel.”

Then he said,“I hope that you will be a quarter of the people of Paradise.” They said, “Allahu Akbar!” Then he said,

“I hope that you will be a third of the people of Paradise.” 

They said, “Allahu Akbar!” Then he said,

“I hope that you will be half of the people of Paradise.”

They said, “Allahu Akbar!” Then he [the narrator] said, “I do not know if he said two-thirds or not.” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 9:9)

This was also recorded by Imam Ahmad. (Ahmad 4:432) Then At-Tirmidhi also said, “This is a Hasan Sahih Hadith.”

In his Tafsir, under this Ayah, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Sa`id said, “The Prophet said:

“On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will say: “O Adam.” He will say, “At Your service, O Lord.” Then a voice will call out: “Allah commands you to send forth from your progeny those who are destined for the Fire.”He will say, “O Lord, who is destined for the Fire?” He will say, “From every thousand” – I think he said – “nine hundred and ninety-nine.” At that time every pregnant female will drop her load and children will turn grey. “and you shall see mankind as in a drunken state, yet they will not be drunken, but Allah’s torment is severe.”

That will be so difficult for mankind to bear that their faces will change. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Nine hundred and ninety-nine from Ya’juj and Ma’juj, and one from you. Among mankind you are like a black hair on the side of a white bull, or a white hair on the side of a black bull. I hope that you will be one quarter of the people of Paradise.” We said “Allahu Akbar!” Then he said, “A third of the people of Paradise.” We said, “Allahu Akbar!” Then he said, “One half of the people of Paradise.” We said: ‘Allahu Akbar!” (Fath Al-Bari 8:295) 

Al-Bukhari also recorded this elsewhere. (Fath Al-Bari 6:440) It was also recorded by Muslim, and An-Nasa’i in his Tafsir. (Muslim 1:201)

The Hadiths and reports about the terrors of the Day of Resurrection are very many, and this is not the place to quote them all. “Verily, the earthquake of the Hour is a terrible thing.” means, a serious matter, a terrifying crisis, a horrendous event. This earthquake is what will happen to people when they are filled with terror, as Allah says:“There, the believers were tried and shaken with a mighty shaking.” (33:11). Then Allah says:“The Day you shall see it, every nursing mother will forget her nursling” means, she will be distracted by the horror of what she is seeing, which will make her forget the one who is the dearest of all to her and to whom she shows the most compassion. Her shock will make her neglect her infant at the very moment of breastfeeding, Allah says,“every nursing mother”, and He did not say a mother who has an infant of breastfeeding age. “her nursling” means, her nursing infant that has not yet been weaned. “and every pregnant one will drop her load,” means, before the pregnancy has reached full term, because of the intensity of the horror.“and you shall see mankind as in a drunken state” means, because of the severity of their situation, when they will lose their minds, so that whoever sees them, will think, that they are drunk,“yet they will not be drunken, but Allah’s torment is severe.”

{3. And among mankind is he who disputes about Allah, without knowledge, and follows every rebellious Shaytan. 

4. For him (the devil) it is decreed that whosoever follows him, he will mislead him, and will drive him to the torment of the Fire.}

Condemnation of the Followers of the Shaytan

Allah condemns those who deny the Resurrection and who deny that Allah is able to restore life to the dead, those who turn away from that which Allah has revealed to His Prophets and, in their views – denial and disbelief – follow every rebellious Shaytan among men and Jinn. This is the state of the followers of innovation and misguidance, who turn away from the truth and follow falsehood, following the words of the leaders of misguidance who call people to follow innovation and their own desires and opinions. Allah says concerning them and their like, “And among mankind is he who disputes about Allah, without knowledge” meaning, without sound knowledge.“and follows every rebellious Shaytan. For him it is decreed.” Mujahid said, “This refers to that Shaytan.” (Al-Muharrar Al-Wajiz 4:107) meaning that is a matter written in the decree. “that whosoever follows him” and imitates him, “he will mislead him, and will drive him to the torment of the Fire.” means, he will mislead him in this world, and in the Hereafter he will drive him to the torment of the Fire, which is unbearably hot, painful and agonizing. As-Suddi reported that Abu Malik said, “This Ayah was revealed about An-Nadr bin Al-Harith. (Ad-Darr Al-Manthur 6:8) This was also the view of Ibn Jurayj. (At-Tabari 18:566)

{5. O mankind! If you are in doubt about the Resurrection, then verily, We have created you from dust, then from a Nutfah, then from a clot then from a little lump of flesh – some formed and some unformed – that We may make (it) clear to you. And We cause whom We will to remain in the wombs for an appointed term, then We bring you out as infants, then (give you growth) that you may reach your age of full strength. And among you there is he who dies (young), and among you there is he who is brought back to the miserable old age, so that he knows nothing after having known. And you see the earth Hamidatan, but when We send down water on it, it is stirred (to life), and it swells and puts forth every lovely kind (of growth). 

6. That is because Allah: He is the Truth, and it is He Who gives life to the dead, and it is He Who is able to do all things. 

7. And surely, the Hour is coming, there is no doubt about it; and certainly, Allah will resurrect those who are in the graves.}

Evidence of the Resurrection in the creation of Man and of Plants

When Allah speaks of disbelief in the Resurrection, He also mentions the evidence of His power and ability to resurrect that is evident from the way He initiates creation. Allah says:“O mankind! If you are in doubt about the Resurrection,” which means the time when souls and bodies will be raised up on the Day of Resurrection,“then verily, We have created you from dust” meaning, ‘you were originally created from dust’, which is what Adam, peace be upon him, was created from. “then from a Nutfah,” (32:8) meaning, then He made his offspring from semen of despised water.

The Development of the Nutfah and Embryo in the Womb
”then from a clot then from a little lump of flesh” if the Nutfah establishes itself in the woman’s womb, it stays like that for forty days, then more material is added to it and it changes into a red clot, by the leave of Allah, and it remains like that for forty days. Then it changes and becomes a lump of flesh, like a piece of meat with no form or shape. Then it starts to take on a form and shape, developing a head, arms, chest, stomach, thighs, legs, feet and all its members. Sometimes a woman miscarries before the fetus is formed and sometimes she miscarries after it has formed. As Allah says:“then from a little lump of flesh – some formed and some unformed” meaning, as you see.“that We may make (it) clear to you. And We cause whom We will to remain in the wombs for an appointed term,” meaning that sometimes the fetus remains in the womb and is not miscarried. “some formed and some unformed,” Mujahid said, “This means the miscarried fetus, formed or unformed. When forty days have passed of it being a lump of flesh, then Allah sends an angel to it who breathes the soul into it and forms it as Allah wills, handsome or ugly, male or female. He then writes its provision, its allotted length of life and whether it is to be one of the blessed or the wretched.”
It was recorded in the Two Sahihs that Ibn Masud said, “The Messenger of Allah , who is the true and truly inspired one, told us:“Every one of you is collected in the womb of his mother for the first forty days, and then he becomes a clot for another forty days, and then a lump of flesh for another forty days. Then Allah sends an angel to write four words: He writes his provision, his deeds, his life span, and whether he will be blessed or wretched. Then he blows the soul into him.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:418)
Man’s Development from Infancy to Old Age 
His saying;“then We bring you out as infants,” means, weak in his body, hearing, sight, senses, stamina and mind. Then Allah gives him strength, gradually and causes his parents to treat him with tender kindness night and day. Allah says:“then (give you growth) that you may reach your age of full strength.” meaning, his strength increases until he reaches the vitality and handsomeness of youth.“And among you there is he who dies,” means, when he is young and strong.“and among you there is he who is brought back to the miserable old age,” meaning advanced old age with its weakness in mind and body, in steady decline in comprehension, and disability to grasp. As Allah says:“so that he knows nothing after having known.” “Allah is He Who created you in (a state of) weakness, then gave you strength after weakness, then after strength gave (you) weakness and grey hair. He creates what He wills. And it is He Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Powerful.” (30:54)
Another Parable of the Resurrection from Plants
“And you see the earth Hamidatan,” This is another sign of the power of Allah to bring the dead back to life, just as He brings the dead, barren earth back to life, the lifeless earth in which nothing grows. Qatadah said, “(This means) the eroded, dusty earth.” As-Suddi said, “Dead.” “but when We send down water on it, it is stirred (to life), and it swells and puts forth every lovely kind (of growth).” When Allah sends the rain upon it, it is stirred to life, that is, vegetation begins to grow and it comes alive after it was dead. Then it rises after the soil had settled, then it puts forth its different kinds of fruit and crops with all their varied colours, tastes, fragrances, shapes and benefits. Allah says:“and puts forth every lovely kind (of growth).” meaning, beautiful in appearance and with delightful fragrances.“That is because Allah: He is the Truth,” means, the Creator, the Controller, the One Who does as He wills. “and it is He Who gives life to the dead,” means, just as He gives life to the dead earth and brings forth from it all these kinds of vegetation. “Verily, He Who gives it life, surely is able to give life to the dead. Indeed He is able to do all things.” (41:39) “Verily, His command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, “Be!” – and it is!” (36:82).“And surely, the Hour is coming, there is no doubt about it” meaning, it will inevitably come to pass.“and certainly, Allah will resurrect those who are in the graves.” means, He will bring them back to life after they have become dust; He will create them anew after they have become nothing.“And he puts forth for Us a parable, and forgets his own creation. He says: “Who will give life to these bones after they are rotten and have become dust” Say: “He will give life to them Who created them for the first time! And He is the All-Knower of every creation!” He Who produces for you fire out of the green tree, when behold you kindle there- with.” (36:78-80). And there are many similar Ayat.

{8. And among men is he who disputes about Allah, without knowledge or guidance, or a Book giving light (from Allah). 

9. Bending his neck in pride, and leading (others) too (far) astray from the path of Allah. For him there is disgrace in this worldly life, and on the Day of Resurrection We shall make him taste the torment of burning. 

10. That is because of what your hands have sent forth, and verily, Allah is not unjust to servants.}

Clarifying the State of the Leaders of the Innovators and Those Who lead People astray

Allah has already told us about the ignorant imitators who are led astray:“And among mankind is he who disputes about Allah, without knowledge, and follows every rebellious Shaytan.” And here He tells us about those who call others to misguidance, the leaders of disbelief and innovation: “And among men is he who disputes about Allah, without knowledge or guidance, or a Book giving light (from Allah).” meaning, with no correct rational thought, and no clear transmitted text; what they say is based only on their opinions and whims.

Allah’s saying,“Bending his neck in pride,” Ibn Abbas and others said, “Too proud to follow the truth when he is called to it.”(At-Tabari 18:573)

Mujahid, Qatadah and Malik said, narrating from Zayd bin Aslam:“Bending his neck in pride,” means, twisting his neck, i.e., turning away from the truth to which he is called, bending his neck out of pride and arrogance. This is like the Ayat: “And in Musa, when We sent him to Firawn with a manifest authority. But (Firawn) turned away along with his hosts” (51:38-39), “And when it is said to them: “Come to what Allah has sent down and to the Messenger,” you see the hypocrites turn away from you with aversion.” (4:61), “And when it is said to them: “Come, so that the Messenger of Allah may ask forgiveness from Allah for you,” they twist their heads, and you would see them turning away their faces in pride.” (63:5), And Luqman said to his son:“And turn not your face away from men with pride” (31:18) meaning, do not turn away from them in an arrogant manner. And Allah says:“And when Our verses are recited to him, he turns away in pride” (31:7). “and leading (others) too (far) astray from the path of Allah.” This either refers to those who are stubborn, or it means that the person who does this has been created like this so that he will be one of those who lead others astray from the path of Allah. Then Allah says:“For him there is disgrace in this worldly life,” meaning, humiliation and shame, such as when he is too arrogant to heed the signs of Allah, so Allah will send humiliation upon him in this world and will punish him in this world, before he reaches the Hereafter, because this world is all he cares about and all he knows. “and on the Day of Resurrection We shall make him taste the torment of burning. That is because of what your hands have sent forth,” means, this will be said to him by way of rebuke.“and verily, Allah is not unjust to the servants.” This is like the Ayah:“(It will be said: ) “Seize him and drag him into the midst of blazing Fire, Then pour over his head the torment of boiling water. Taste you (this)! Verily, you were (pretending to be) the mighty, the generous! Verily, this is that whereof you used to doubt!” (44:47-50)

{11. And among mankind is he who worships Allah as it were upon the edge: if good befalls him, he is content therewith; but if a Fitnah strikes him, he turns back on his face. He loses both this world and the Hereafter. That is the evident loss. 

12. He calls besides Allah unto that which can neither harm him nor profit him. That is a straying far away. 

13. He calls unto him whose harm is nearer than his profit; certainly an evil Mawla and certainly an evil `Ashir!}

The meaning of worshipping Allah as it were upon the edge

Mujahid, Qatadah and others said:“upon the edge” means, in doubt. (At-Tabari 18:576) Others said that it meant on the edge, such as on the edge or side of a mountain, i.e., (this person) enters Islam on the edge, and if he finds what he likes he will continue, otherwise he will leave. Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn Abbas said: “And among mankind is he who worships Allah as it were upon the edge.”“People would come to Al-Madinah [to declare their Islam] and if their wives gave birth to sons and their mares gave birth to foals, they would say, ‘This is a good religion,’ but if their wives and their mares did not give birth, they would say, ‘This is a bad religion.”’ (Fath Al-Bari 8:296)

Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas said, “One of them would come to Al-Madinah, which was a land that was infected with a contagious disease. If he remained healthy there, and his mare foaled and his wife gave birth to a boy, he would be content, and would say, ‘I have not experienced anything but good since I started to follow this religion.” “but if a Fitnah strikes him”, Fitnah here means affliction, i.e., if the disease of Al-Madinah befalls him, and his wife gives birth to a babe girl and charity is delayed in coming to him, the Shaytan comes to him and says: `By Allah, since you started to follow this religion of yours, you have experienced nothing but bad things,’ and this is the Fitnah.” (At-Tabari 18:575) This was also mentioned by Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, Ibn Jurayj and others among the Salaf when explaining this Ayah. (At-Tabari 18:576) Mujahid said, concerning the Ayah:“he turns back on his face.” “(This means), he becomes an apostate and a disbeliever.” (At-Tabari 18:576)

“He loses both this world and the Hereafter.” means, he does not gain anything in this world. As for the Hereafter, he has disbelieved in Allah the Almighty, so he will be utterly doomed and humiliated. So Allah says: “That is the evident loss.”, i.e., the greatest loss and the losing deal. “He calls besides Allah unto that which can neither harm him nor profit him.” means, the idols, rivals, and false gods which he calls upon for help, support and provision – they can neither benefit him nor harm him. “That is a straying far away.”“He calls unto him whose harm is nearer than his profit” means, he is more likely to harm him than benefit him in this world, and in the Hereafter he will most certainly cause him harm.“certainly an evil Mawla and certainly an evil Ashir!” Mujahid said, “This means the idols.” (At-Tabari 18:579) The meaning is: “How evil a friend is this one upon whom he calls instead of Allah as a helper and supporter.” “and certainly an evil Ashir!” means the one with whom one mixes and spends one’s time.

{14. Truly, Allah will admit those who believe and do righteous good deeds to Gardens underneath which rivers flow. Verily, Allah does what He wills.}

The Reward of the Righteous

The mention of the misguided who are doomed is followed by mention of the righteous who are blessed. They are those who believe firmly in their hearts and confirm their faith by their actions, doing all kinds of righteous deeds and avoiding evil actions. Because of this, they will inherit dwellings in the lofty ranks of the gardens of Paradise. So Allah tells us that He sends those astray and guides these, and says: “Verily, Allah does what He wills.”

{15. Whoever thinks that Allah will not help him in this world and in the Hereafter, let him stretch out a rope to the ceiling and let him strangle himself. Then let him see whether his plan will remove that whereat he rages!

16. Thus have We sent it down as clear Ayat, and surely, Allah guides whom He wills.}

Allah will definitely help His Messenger

Ibn Abbas said, “Whoever thinks that Allah will not help Muhammad in this world and the Hereafter, let him stretch out a rope “to the ceiling” to the ceiling in his house, “and let him strangle himself.” let him hang himself with it. (At-Tabari 18:581) This was also the view of Mujahid, Ikrimah, Ata’, Abu Al-Jawza’, Qatadah and others. (At-Tabari 18:580-583) The meaning is: whoever thinks that Allah will not support Muhammad and His Book and His Religion, let him go and kill himself if it annoys him so much. For Allah will most certainly help and support him. Allah says: “Verily, We will indeed make victorious Our Messengers and those who believe in this world’s life and on the Day when the witnesses will stand forth.” (40:51). Allah says here: “Then let him see whether his plan will remove that whereat he rages!” As-Suddi said, “Meaning, in the case of Muhammad” (Ar-Razi 13:15) Ata’ Al-Khurasani said, “Let him see whether that will cure the rage he feels in his heart.” “Thus have We sent it down” the Qur’an.“as clear Ayat” clear in its wording and its meaning, evidence from Allah to mankind.“and surely, Allah guides whom He wills.” He sends astray whomsoever He wills and He guides whomsoever He wills, and He has complete wisdom and definitive proof in doing so. “He cannot be questioned about what He does, while they will be questioned.” (21:23). Because of His wisdom, mercy, justice, knowledge, dominion and might, no one can overturn His ruling, and He is swift in bringing to account.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 6 Pages 516-537

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