Surah Al-Muminun Ayat 1-30

Introduction to Muminun
Chapter 23
 
Which was Revealed in Makkah
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

{1. Successful indeed are the believers. 

2. Those who with their Salah are Khashiun. 

3. And those who turn away from Al-Laghw.

 4. And those who pay the Zakah. 

5. And those who guard their private parts. 

6. Except from their wives or their right hand possessions, for then, they are free from blame. 

7. But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors. 

8. Those who are faithfully true to their Amanat and to their covenants are Raun. 

9. And those who strictly guard their Salawat. 

10. These are indeed the heirs.  

11. Who shall inherit Firdaws. They shall dwell therein forever.}

The Success is for the believers whose qualities are described here 
“Successful indeed are the believers” means, they have attained victory and are blessed, for they have succeeded. These are the believers who have the following characteristics: “Those who with their Salah are Khashiun.” Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said:“Khashiun” means those with fear and with tranquillity.” (At-Tabari 19:9) This was also narrated from Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and Az-Zuhri. (At-Tabari 19:8,9) It was reported from Ali bin Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, that Khushu means the Khushu of the heart. This was also the view of Ibrahim An-Nakhai. (At-Tabari 19:9) Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “Their Khushu was in their hearts.” So they lowered their gaze and were humble towards others. Khushu in prayer is only attained by the one who has emptied his heart totally, who does not pay attention to anything else besides it, and who prefers it above all else. At that point it becomes a delight and a joy for eyes, as in the Hadith recorded by Imam Ahmad and An-Nasa’i from Anas, who said that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:

“Fragrance and women have been made dear to me, and Salah was made the joy of my eye.” (Ahmad 3:199)

“And those who turn away from Al-Laghw.” refers to falsehood, which includes Shirk and sin, and any words or deeds that are of no benefit. As Allah says:“And if they pass by Al-Laghw, they pass by it with dignity” (25:72). Qatadah said: “By Allah, there came to them from Allah that which kept them away from that (evil).” (Az-Zuhd by Ibn Mubarak 55) “And those who pay the Zakah.” Most commentators say that the meaning here is the Zakah that is paid on wealth, even though this Ayah was revealed in Makkah, and Zakah was ordained in Al-Madinah in the year 2 AH. The apparent meaning is that the Zakah that was instituted in Al-Madinah is the one based upon the Nusub [The minimum level of wealth which dictates a person’s obligation to pay zakah] and the specific amounts, apart from which it seems that the basic principle of Zakah was enjoined in Makkah. As Allah says in Surat Al-Anam, which was also revealed in Makkah:“but pay the due thereof on the day of their harvest,” (6:141) It could be that what is meant here by Zakah is purification of the soul from Shirk and filth, as in the Ayah:“Indeed he succeeds who purifies himself (Zakkaha). And indeed he fails who corrupts himself.” (91:9-10) It could be that both meanings are intended, purification of the soul and of one’s wealth, because that is part of the purification of the soul, and the true believer is one who pays attention to both matters. And Allah knows best.

“And those who guard their private parts. Except from their wives and their right hand possessions, for then, they are free from blame. But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors.” means, those who protect their private parts from unlawful actions and do not do that which Allah has forbidden; fornication and homosexuality, and do not approach anyone except the wives whom Allah has made permissible for them or their right hand possessions from the captives. One who seeks what Allah has made permissible for him is not to be blamed and there is no sin on him. Allah says: “they are free from blame. But whoever seeks beyond that” meaning, other than a wife or slave girl,“then those are the transgressors.” meaning , aggressors. “Those who are faithfully true to their Amanat and to their covenants” When they are entrusted with something, they do not betray that trust, but they fulfill it, and when they make a promise or make a pledge, they are true to their word. This is not like the hypocrites about whom the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks he lies, when he makes a promise he breaks it, and when he is entrusted with something he betrays that trust.” (Fath Al-Bari 10:522)

“And those who strictly guard their Salawat.” means, they persistently offer their prayers at their appointed times, as Ibn Masud said: “I asked the Messenger of Allah , ‘O Messenger of Allah, which deed is most beloved to Allah?’ He said,

“Prayer at the appointed time.” I said, ‘Then what?’ He said,

“Kindness to one’s parents.” I said, ‘Then what?’ He said,

“Fighting in the way of Allah.” 

It was recorded in the Two Sahihs. (Fath Al-Bari 10:414, Muslim 1:89) Qatadah said: “At the fixed times, with the proper bowing and prostration.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:89) Allah begins and ends this list of praiseworthy qualities with Salah, which is indicative of its virtue, as the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Adhere to righteousness, you will never be able encompass it all. Know that the best of your deeds is Salah. None will preserve his Wuddu’ except the believer.” (Ibn Majah 2:101)

Having described them with these praiseworthy characteristics and righteous deeds, Allah then says: “These are indeed the heirs. Who shall inherit Firdaws. They shall dwell therein forever.” It was recorded in the Two Sahihs that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said:

“If you ask Allah for Paradise, then ask him for Al-Firdaws, for it is the highest part of Paradise, in the middle of Paradise, and from it spring the rivers of Paradise, and above it is the (Mighty) Throne of the Most Merciful.” (Fath Al-Bari 13:415)

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“There is not one among you who does not have two homes, a home in Paradise and a home in Hell. If he dies and enters Hell, the people of Paradise will inherit his home, and this is what Allah said: “These are indeed the heirs.” (Ibn Majah 2:1453)

Ibn Jurayj narrated from Layth from Mujahid: “These are indeed the heirs.” “The believers will inherit the homes of the disbelievers because they were created to worship Allah Alone with no partner or associate. So when these believers did what was enjoined on them of worship, and the disbelievers neglected to do that which they were commanded to do and for which they had been created, the believers gained the share that they would have been given if they had obeyed their Lord. Indeed, they will be given more than that as well.” This is what was reported in Sahih Muslim from Abu Burdah, from his father, from the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who said:

“Some of the Muslims will come on the Day of Resurrection with sins like mountains, but Allah will forgive them and put (their burden of sin) on the Jews and Christians.” (Muslim 4:2120)

According to another version: the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“When the Day of Resurrection comes, Allah will appoint for every Muslim a Jew or Christian, and it will be said, “This is your ransom from the Fire.”

Umar bin Abd Al-Aziz asked Abu Burdah to swear by Allah besides Whom there is no other God, three times, that his father told him that from the Prophet , and he swore that oath. (Muslim 4:2119) I say: this Ayah is like Allah’s saying:“Such is the Paradise which We shall give as an inheritance to those of Our servants who have had Taqwa.” (19:63) “This is the Paradise which you have been made to inherit because of your deeds which you used to do.” (43:72)

{12. And indeed We created man out of an extract of Tin [sounding clay]. 

13. Thereafter We made him a Nutfah in a safe lodging. 

14. Then We made the Nutfah into a clot, then We made the clot into a little lump of flesh, then We made out of that little lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We brought it forth as another creation. So Blessed is Allah, the Best of creators. 

15. After that, surely you will die. 

16. Then (again), surely you will be resurrected on the Day of Resurrection.}

The Sign of Allah in the progressive creation of Man from Clay then from Nutfah and thereafter

Allah tells us how He initially created man from an extract of Tin. This was Adam, peace be upon him, whom Allah created from sounding clay of altered black smooth mud. Ibn Jarir said, “Adam was called Tin because he was created from it.” (At-Tabari 19:15) Qatadah said, “Adam was created from Tin.” (At-Tabari 19:14) This is the more apparent meaning and is closer to the context, for Adam, upon him be peace, was created from a sticky Tin, which is a sounding clay of altered black smooth mud, and that is created from dust, as Allah says:“And among His signs is this that He created you (Adam) from dust, and then – behold you are human beings scattered!” (30:20) Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Musa that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Allah created Adam from a handful which He picked up from throughout the earth, so the sons of Adam came forth accordingly, red and white and black and in between, evil and good and in between.” (Ahmad 4:400)

Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi recorded something similar. (Abu Dawud 5:67) At-Tirmidhi said, “It is Sahih Hasan. ” “Thereafter We made him a Nutfah.” Here the pronoun refers back to humankind, as in another Ayah:“and He began the creation of man from clay. Then He made his offspring from semen of despised water.” (32:7,8) meaning, weak, as He says:“Did We not create you from a despised water Then We placed it in a place of safety.” (77:20-21) meaning the womb, which is prepared and readily equipped for that,“For a known period. So We did measure; and We are the Best to measure” (77:22-23) meaning, for a known period of time, until it is established and moves from one stage to the next. Allah says here,“Then We made the Nutfah into a clot,” meaning, ‘then We made the Nutfah, which is the water gushing forth that comes from the loins of man, i.e., his back, and the ribs of woman, i.e., the bones of her chest, between the clavicle and the breast. Then it becomes a red clot, like an elongated clot.’ Ikrimah said, “This is blood.” “then We made the clot into a little lump of flesh,” which is like a piece of flesh with no shape or features.“then We made out of that little lump of flesh bones,” meaning, ‘We gave it shape, with a head, two arms and two legs, with its bones, nerves and veins.’ “then We clothed the bones with flesh,” meaning, ‘We gave it something to cover it and strengthen it.’“and then We brought it forth as another creation.” means, ‘then We breathed the soul into it, and it moved and became a new creature, one that could hear, see, understand and move.“So Blessed is Allah, the Best of creators.” “and then We brought it forth as another creation.”

Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas said, “We change it from one stage to another until it emerges as an infant, then it grows up through the stages of being a child, adolescent, youth, mature man, old man and senile man.” (At-Tabari 19:18) Imam Ahmad recorded in his Musnad that Abdullah – Ibn Masud – said, “The Messenger of Allah , the Truthful One, told us:

“The creation of anyone of you is gathered for forty days in his mother’s stomach as a Nutfah, then he becomes a clot for a similar period of time, then he becomes a little lump of flesh for a similar length of time. Then the angel is sent to him and he breathes the soul into it, and four things are decreed: his provision, his life-span, his deeds, and whether he will be wretched or blessed. By the One besides Whom there is no other god, one of you may do the deeds of the people of Paradise until there is no more than a forearm’s length between him and it, then the decree will overtake him and he will do the deeds of the people of Hell and thus enter Hell. And a man may do the deeds of the people of Hell until there is no more than a forearm’s length between him and it, then the decree will overtake him and he will do finally the deeds of the people of Paradise and thus enter Paradise.” (Ahmad 1:382)

This was recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim. (Fath Al-Bari 6:418, Muslim)

“So Blessed is Allah, the Best of creators.” means, when Allah mentions His ability and subtlety in creating this Nutfah and taking it from stage to stage until it takes the shape of a perfectly formed human being, He says,“So Blessed is Allah, the Best of creators.” “After that, surely you will die.” means, after first being created from nothing, you will eventually die. “Then (again), surely you will be resurrected on the Day of Resurrection.” means, you will be created anew.“and then Allah will bring forth the creation of the Hereafter” (29:20) means, the Day of Return, when the souls will be restored to their bodies and all of creation will be brought to account. Everyone will be rewarded or punished according to his deeds – if they are good then he will be rewarded, and if they are bad then he will be punished.

{17. And indeed We have created above you seven Tara’iq, and We are never unaware of the creation.}

His Sign in the creation of the Heavens

After mentioning the creation of man, Allah then mentions the creation of the seven heavens. Allah often mentions the creation of the heavens and earth alongside the creation of man, as He says elsewhere: “The creation of the heavens and the earth is indeed greater than the creation of mankind” (40:57). A similar Ayah appears at the beginning of Surat As-Sajdah, which the Messenger of Allah used to recite on Friday mornings. At the beginning it mentions the creation of the heavens and earth, then it says how man was created from semen from clay, and it also discusses the resurrection and rewards and punishments, and other matters.“seven Tara’iq.” Mujahid said, “This means the seven heavens.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:94) This is like the Ayat: “The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein, glorify Him” (17:44) “See you not how Allah has created the seven heavens one above another” (71:15) “It is Allah Who has created seven heavens and of the earth the like thereof. His command descends between them (heavens and earth), that you may know that Allah has power over all things, and that Allah surrounds all things in (His) knowledge” (65:12)

Similarly, Allah says here: “And indeed We have created above you seven Tara’iq, and We are never unaware of the creation.” meaning, Allah knows what goes into the earth and what comes out of it, what comes down from heaven and what goes up into it. He is with you wherever you are, and Allah sees what you do. No heaven is hidden from Him by another and no earth is hidden from Him by another. There is no mountain but He knows its features, and no sea but He knows what is in its depths. He knows the numbers of what is in the mountains, the hills, the sands, the seas, the landscapes and the trees. “And not a leaf falls, but He knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record.” (6:59)

{18. And We sent down from the sky water in measure, and We gave it lodging in the earth, and verily, We are able to take it away. 

19. Then We brought forth for you therewith gardens of date palms and grapes, wherein is much fruit for you, and whereof you eat. 

20. And a tree that springs forth from Tur Sinai, that grows oil, and relish for the eaters. 

21. And verily, in the cattle there is indeed a lesson for you. We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies. And there are, in them, numerous benefits for you, and of them you eat. 

22. And on them, and on ships you are carried.}

Allah’s Signs and Blessings in the Rain, Vegetation, Trees and Cattle

Allah mentions His innumerable blessings to His servants, whereby He sends down rain in due measure, meaning, according to what is needed, not so much that it damages the lands and buildings, and not so little to be insufficient for crops and fruits, but whatever is needed for irrigation, drinking and other benefits. If there is a land that needs a lot of water for its irrigation but its fertile soil would be carried away if rain fell on it, then Allah sends water to it from another land, as in the case of Egypt, which is said to be a barren land. Allah sends the water of the Nile to it, which brings red soil from Ethiopia when it rains there. The water brings the red soil which is used to irrigate the land of Egypt, and whatever of it is deposited is used for agriculture, because the land of Egypt is infertile, and most of it is sand. Glory be to the Subtle One, the All-Knowing, the Most Merciful, the Forgiving.

“and We gave it lodging in the earth,” means, ‘when the water comes down from the clouds, We cause it to settle in the earth, and We cause the earth to absorb it and the seeds etc. in the earth to be nourished by it.’ “and verily, We are able to take it away.” means, ‘if We wanted to cause it not to rain, We could do so; if We wanted to divert it towards the wilderness and wastelands, We could do so; if We wanted to make it salty so that you could not benefit from it for drinking or irrigation, We could do so; if We wanted to cause it not to be absorbed by the earth, but to remain on the surface, We could do so; if We wanted to make it go deep underground where you would not be able to reach it and you could not benefit from it, We could do so.’ But by His grace and mercy, He causes sweet, fresh water to fall on you from the clouds, then it settles in the earth and forms springs and rivers, and you use it to irrigate your crops and fruits, and you drink it and give it to your livestock and cattle, and you bathe and purify yourselves with it. To Him is due the praise and thanks.“Then We brought forth for you therewith gardens of date palms and grapes,” means, `from that which We send down from the sky, We bring forth for you gardens and orchards which look beautiful.’ “of date palms and grapes,” These were the kinds of gardens that were known to the people of the Hijaz, but there is no difference between a thing and its counterpart. The people of each region have fruits which are the blessing of Allah given to them, and for which they cannot properly thank Allah enough. “wherein is much fruit for you,” means, of all fruits. As Allah says elsewhere:“(With it [the rain] He causes to grow for you the crops, the olives, the date palms, the grapes, and every kind of fruit” (16:11).“and whereof you eat.” This implies that you look at its beauty, wait for it to ripen, then eat from it.“And a tree that springs forth from Tur Sinai,” means the olive tree. Tur means a mountain. Some of the scholars said, “It is called Tur if there are trees on it, and if it is bare it is called Jabal, not Tur. And Allah knows best. Mount Sinai is the same as Tur Sinin, and it is the mountain on which Allah spoke to Musa bin Imran, peace be upon him, and in the surrounding mountains there are olive trees.“that grows oil,” Some scholars think it ﴿linguistically﴾ means that it brings forth oil. Others say it [linguistically] means “comes forth with oil.” Allah said, “and relish” meaning a condiment according to Qatadah. (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:95) “for the eaters.” means, it contains a beneficial oil and condiment.

Abd bin Humayd recorded in his Musnad and Tafsir from Umar that the Messenger of Allah said:

“Eat (olive) oil as a condiment and apply it as oil, for it comes from a blessed tree.” 

It was recorded by At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah. (Al-Muntakhab by Abd bin Humayd 13)

Allah’s saying;“And verily, in the cattle there is indeed a lesson for you. We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies. And there are, in them, numerous benefits for you, and of them you eat. And on them and on ships you are carried”, Here Allah mentions the benefits He has given to His servants in cattle, for they drink their milk which comes out from between dung and blood, they eat their meat and clothe themselves with their wool and hair, they ride on their backs and carry heavy burdens on them to far away lands, as Allah says: “And they carry your loads to a land that you could not reach except with great trouble to yourselves. Truly, your Lord is full of kindness, Most Merciful.” (16:7) “Do they not see that We have created for them of what Our Hands have created, the cattle, so that they are their owners. And We have subdued them unto them so that some of them they have for riding and some they eat. And in them there are benefits for them, and drink. Will they not then be grateful?” (36:71-73)

{23. And indeed We sent Nuh to his people, and he said: “O my people! Worship Allah! You have no other God but Him. Will you not then have Taqwa” 

24. But the chiefs of his people who disbelieved said: “He is no more than a human being like you, he seeks to make himself superior to you. Had Allah willed, He surely could have sent down angels. Never did we hear such a thing among our fathers of old.” 

25. “He is only a man in whom is madness, so wait for him a while.”}

The Story of Nuh, Peace be upon Him; and his people

Allah tells us about Nuh, peace be upon him, whom He sent him to his people to warn them of the severe punishment of Allah and His severe vengeance on those who associated partners with Him, defied His commands and disbelieved His Messengers: “and he said: “O my people! Worship Allah! You have no other God but Him. Will you not then have Taqwa” Meaning, “Do you not fear Allah when you associate others in worship with Him” The chiefs or leaders of his people said: “He is no more than a human being like you, he seeks to make himself superior to you.” meaning, ‘he is putting himself above you and trying to make himself great by claiming to be a Prophet, but he is a human being like you, so how can he receive revelation when you do not’ “Had Allah willed, He surely could have sent down angels.” meaning, `if Allah had wanted to send a Prophet, He would have sent an angel from Him, not a human being. We have never heard of such a thing – i.e., sending a man to our forefathers’ – their predecessors in times past. “He is only a man in whom is madness,” means, ‘he is crazy in his claim that Allah has sent him and chosen him from among you to receive revelation.’ “so wait for him a while.” means, ‘wait until he dies, put up with him until you are rid of him.’

{26. He said: “O my Lord! Help me because they deny me.” 

27. So, We revealed to him: “Construct the ship under Our Eyes and under Our revelation. Then, when Our command comes, and (water) gushes forth from the oven, take on board of each kind two, and your family, except those thereof against whom the Word has already gone forth. And address Me not in favor of those who have done wrong. Verily, they are to be drowned.” 

28. “And when you have embarked on the ship, you and whoever is with you, then say: `All the praise be to Allah, Who has saved us from the people who are wrongdoers.” 

29. “And say: `My Lord! Cause me to land at a blessed landing place, for You are the Best of those who bring to land.”’ 

30. Verily, in this, there are indeed Ayat, for sure We are ever putting (men) to the test.}

Allah tells us that Nuh, peace be upon him, invoked his Lord to help him against his people, as Allah mentions in another Ayah:“Then he invoked his Lord (saying): “I have been overcome, so help (me)!” (54:10). Here he says: “O my Lord! Help me because they deny me.” At that point, Allah commanded him to build a boat and to make it strong and firm, and to carry therein of every kind two, i.e., a male and a female of every species of animals, plants and fruits etc. He was also to carry his family, “except those thereof against whom the Word has already gone forth.” meaning, those whom Allah had already decreed were to be destroyed. These were the members of his family who did not believe in him, such as his son and his wife. And Allah knows best.

“And address Me not in favor of those who have done wrong. Verily, they are to be drowned.” means, ‘when you witness the heavy rain falling, do not let yourself be overcome with compassion and pity for your people, or hope for more time for them so that they may believe, for I have decreed that they will be drowned and will die in their state of disbelief and wrongdoing.’ The story has already been told in detail in Surah Hud, and there is no need to repeat it here. “And when you have embarked on the ship, you and whoever is with you, then say: `All the praise be to Allah, Who has saved us from the people who are wrongdoers.” This is like the Ayah: “and has appointed for you ships and cattle on which you ride: 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 never have it (by our efforts). And verily, to Our Lord we indeed are to return!” (43:12-14) So, certainly, Nuh adhered to what he was commanded, as Allah says elsewhere: “And he said: “Embark therein: in the Name of Allah will be its (moving) course and its (resting) anchorage…” (11:41) So Nuh mentioned Allah at the beginning of his journey and at the end, and Allah said: “And say: `My Lord! Cause me to land at a blessed landing place, for You are the Best of those who bring to land.” “Verily in this, there are indeed Ayat,” means in this event, which is the saving of the believers and the destruction of the disbelievers there are signs, i.e., clear evidence and proof that the Prophets speak the truth in the Message they bring from Allah, may He be exalted, and that Allah does what He wills, and He is able to do all things and knows all things. “for sure We are ever putting (men) to the test.” means, ‘We try Our servants by means of sending the Messengers.’

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 6 Pages 628-648