Surah Al-Muminun Ayat 31-67

{31. Then, after them, We created another generation. 

32. And We sent to them a Messenger from among themselves (saying): “Worship Allah! You have no other God but Him. Will you not then have Taqwa” 

33. And the chiefs of his people who disbelieved and denied the meeting in the Hereafter, and whom We had given the luxuries and comforts of worldly life, said: “He is no more than a human being like you, he eats of that which you eat, and drinks of what you drink.” 

34. “If you were to obey a human being like yourselves, then verily, you indeed would be losers.” 

35. “Does he promise you that when you have died and have become dust and bones, you shall come out alive” 

36. “Far, very far is that which you are promised!” 

37. “There is nothing but our life of this world! We die and we live! And we are not going to be resurrected!” 

38. “He is only a man who has invented a lie against Allah, and we are not going to believe in him.” 

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

40. (Allah) said: “In a little while, they are sure to be regretful.” 

41. So, the Sayhah [loud cry] overtook them in truth, and We made them as rubbish of dead plants. So, away with the people who are wrongdoers.}

The Story of Ad or Thamud

Allah tells us that after the people of Nuh, He created another nation. It was said that this was Ad, because they were the successors of the people of Nuh. Or it was said that they were Thamud, because Allah says:“So, the Sayhah overtook them in truth.” Allah sent to them a Messenger from among themselves, and he called them to worship Allah Alone with no partner or associate, but they belied him, opposed him and refused to follow him because he was a human being like them, and they refused to follow a human Messenger. They did not believe in the meeting with Allah on the Day of Resurrection and they denied the idea of physical resurrection. They said:“Does he promise you that when you have died and have become dust and bones, you shall come out alive (resurrected) Far, very far is that which you are promised!” meaning, very unlikely. “He is only a man who has invented a lie against Allah,” meaning, ‘in the Message he has brought to you, and his warnings and promise of resurrection.’ “and we are not going to believe in him. He said: “O my Lord! Help me because they deny me.”) meaning, the Messenger prayed against his people and asked his Lord to help him against them. His Lord answered his prayer: “(Allah) said: “In a little while, they are sure to be regretful.” meaning, ‘for their opposition towards you and their stubborn rejection of the Message you brought to them.’ “So, The Sayhah overtook them in truth,” meaning, they deserved that from Allah because of their disbelief and wrongdoing. The apparent meaning is that the Sayhah was combined with the furious cold wind, “Destroying everything by the command of its Lord! So they became such that nothing could be seen except their dwellings!” (46:25) “and We made them as rubbish of dead plants.” means, they are dead and destroyed, like the scum and rubbish left by a flood, i.e., something insignificant and useless that is of no benefit to anyone. “So, away with the people who are wrongdoers.” As Allah’s statement: “We wronged them not, but they were the wrongdoers.” (43:76) means, who are wrongdoers because of their disbelief and stubborn opposition to the Messenger of Allah, so let those who hear this beware of disbelieving in their Messengers.

{42. Then, after them, We created other generations. 

43. No nation can advance their term, nor can they delay it. 

44. Then We sent Our Messengers in succession. Every time there came to a nation their Messenger, they denied him; so, We made them follow one another, and We made them as Ahadith. So, away with a people who believe not!}

Mention of Other Nations 
Allah says:“Then, after them, We created other generations.” meaning, nations and peoples.“No nation can advance their term, nor can they delay it.” means, they are taken at the appropriate time, as decreed by Allah in His Book that is preserved with Him, before they were created, nation after nation, century after century, generation after generation, successors after predecessors. “Then We sent Our Messengers in succession.” Ibn Abbas said, “(This means) following one another in succession.” (At-Tabari 19:34) This is like the Ayah: “And verily, We have sent among every Ummah a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah, and avoid Taghut (all false deities).” Then of them were some whom Allah guided and of them were some upon whom the straying was justified” (16:36). “Every time there came to a nation their Messenger, they denied him” meaning the greater majority of them. This is like the Ayah: “Alas for mankind! There never came a Messenger to them but they used to mock at him.” (36:30) “so We made them follow one another,” means, ‘We destroyed them,’ as Allah says:“And how many generations have We destroyed after Nuh!” (17:17) “and We made them as Ahadith” meaning, stories and lessons for mankind, as Allah says elsewhere:“so, We made them as tales (in the land), and We dispersed them all totally” (34:19).

{45. Then We sent Musa and his brother Harun, with Our Ayat and manifest authority, 

46. To Firawn and his chiefs, but they behaved insolently and they were people self-exalting (by disobeying their Lord). 

47. They said: “Shall we believe in two men like ourselves, and their people are obedient to us with humility!” 

48. So, they denied them both and became of those who were destroyed. 

49. And indeed We gave Musa the Scripture, that they may be guided.}

The Story of Musa, Peace be upon Him; and Firawn

Allah tells us that He sent Musa, peace be upon him, and his brother Harun to Fir`awn and his chiefs with decisive evidence and definitive proof, but Fir`awn and his people were too arrogant to follow them and obey their commands because they were human beings, just as previous nations had denied the Message of the human Messengers. They were of a similar mentality, so Allah destroyed Firawn and his chiefs, drowning them all in one day. He revealed the Book to Musa, i.e., the Tawrah, in which were rulings, commands and prohibitions, after He had destroyed Firawn and the Egyptians and seized them with a punishment of the All-Mighty, All-Capable to carry out what He wills. After Allah revealed the Tawrah, Allah did not destroy any nation with an overwhelming calamity; instead, He commanded the believers to fight the disbelievers, as He says: “And indeed We gave Musa – after We had destroyed the generations of old – the Scripture as an enlightenment for mankind, and a guidance and a mercy, that they might remember.” (28:43)

{50. And We made the son of Maryam and his mother as a sign, and We gave them refuge on a Rabwah, Dhat Qarar, and Ma`in.}

Isa and Maryam

Allah tells us about His servant and Messenger Isa bin Maryam, peace be upon them both, and that He made them as a sign for mankind, i.e., definitive proof of His ability to do what He wills. For He created Adam without a father or a mother, He created Hawwa’ from a male without a female, and He created Isa from a female without a male, but He created the rest of mankind from both male and female. “and We gave them refuge on high ground, a place of rest, security and flowing streams.” Ad-Dahhak reported that Ibn Abbas said: “Ar-Rabwah is a raised portion of land, which is the best place for vegetation to grow.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:100) This was also the view of Mujahid, Ikrimah, Said bin Jubayr and Qatadah. (At-Tabari 5:536, 537) Ibn Abbas said, “Dhat Qarar” “A fertile place. “and main” means water running on the surface.” (At-Tabari 19:38) This was also the view of Mujahid, Ikrimah, Said bin Jubayr and Qatadah. (At-Tabari 19:39) Mujahid said: “A level hill.” (At-Tabari 19:38) Said bin Jubayr said that “Dhat Qarar and ma`in”  means that water was flowing gently through it. Mujahid and Qatadah said: “and Ma`in “ “Running water.” (At-Tabari 19:39) Ibn Abi Hatim recorded from Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib: “and We gave them refuge on a Rabwah, Dhat Qarar and Ma`in.” “It is Damascus.” (At-Tabari 19:37) He said; “Something similar was also narrated from Abdullah bin Salam, Al-Hasan, Zayd bin Aslam and Khalid bin Ma`dan.” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded from Ikrimah from Ibn Abbas that this Ayah referred to the rivers of Damascus. (Al-Qurtubi 12:126) Layth bin Abi Sulaym narrated from Mujahid that the words; “and We gave them refuge on a Rabwah,” referred to Isa bin Maryam and his mother when they sought refuge in Damascus and the flatlands around it. (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:100)

Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Abu Hurayrah said: “on a Rabwah, Dhat Qarar and Ma`in.”, “It is Ramlah in Palestine.”

The most correct opinion on this matter is that which was reported by Al-Awfi from Ibn Abbas, who said; “and We gave them refuge on a Rabwah, Dhat Qarar and Main.” “Main refers to running water, and is the river of which Allah mentioned: “your Lord has provided a water stream under you.” (19:24)Ad-Dahhak and Qatadah said; “on a high ground, a place of rest, security and flowing streams.” refers to Jerusalem. This – and Allah knows best – is the most apparent meaning, because it is mentio- ned in the other Ayah, and parts of the Qur’an explain other parts, so it is more appropriate to interpret it by another Ayah, then the Sahih Hadiths, then other reports.

{51. O Messengers! Eat of the Tayyibat and do righteous deeds. Verily, I am Well-Acquainted with what you do. 

52. And verily, this your religion is one religion, and I am your Lord, so have Taqwa.” 

53. But they have broken their religion among them into sects, each group rejoicing in what is with it. 

54. So, leave them in their error for a time. 

55. Do they think that in wealth and children with which We prolong them 

56. We hasten unto them with good things. Nay, but they perceive not.}

The Command to eat Lawful Food and to do Righteous Deeds

Allah commands His servants and Messengers, peace be upon them all, to eat lawful food and do righteous deeds, which indicates that eating what is lawful helps one to do righteous deeds. The Prophets, peace be upon them, did this in the most perfect manner, and did all kinds of good deeds in words, actions, guidance and advice. May Allah reward them with good on behalf of the people. “Eat of the Tayyibat” Said bin Jubayr and Ad-Dahhak said, “This means lawful. In the Sahih it says:

“There is no Prophet who was not a shepherd.”

They asked, “And you, O Messenger of Allah?” He said,

“Yes, I used to tend the sheep of the people of Makkah for a few Qirats.” (Al-Bukhari no.2226) 

In the Sahih, it says:

“Dawud, upon him be peace, used to eat from the earnings of his own hand.” (Fath Al-Bari 4:355) It was recorded in Sahih Muslim, Jami At-Tirmidhi and Musnad Al-Imam Ahmad – from whom this version comes – that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“O people, Allah is Tayyib and only accepts that which is Tayyib, and Allah commands the believers as He had commanded the Messengers by saying:“O Messengers! Eat of the Tayyibat and do righteous deeds. Verily, I am Well-Acquainted with what you do.” (23:51) and “O you who believe! Eat of the Tayyibat that We have provided you with” (2:172). Then he mentioned how a man may travel on a long journey, dusty and unkempt, “and his food, drink and clothing are unlawful, and he has nourished himself with what is unlawful, and he extends his hands towards the sky, saying, `O Lord, O Lord!’ – how can his prayer be answered.” (Muslim 1:703) At-Tirmidhi said that it is “Hasan Gharib.”

The Religion of all the Prophets is Tawhid; and the Warning against splitting into different Groups
“And verily, this your religion is one religion,” means, ‘your religion, O Prophets, is one religion and one group, which is the call to worship Allah Alone with no partner or associate.’ Allah said: “and I am your Lord, so have Taqwa.” We have already discussed this in Surat Al-Anbiya’. The phrase “one nation” is descriptive.“But they have broken their religion among them into sects,” the nations to whom Prophets were sent.“each group rejoicing in what is with it.” means, they rejoice in their misguidance because they think that they are rightly-guided. Allah says, threatening and warning: “So, leave them in their error” meaning their misguidance, “for a time.” means, until the appointed time of their destruction comes. This is like the Ayah:“So give a respite to the disbelievers; deal gently with them for a while.” (86:17) And Allah says: “Leave them to eat and enjoy, and let them be preoccupied with (false) hope. They will come to know!” (15:3) “Do they think that in wealth and children with which We prolong them, We hasten unto them with good things. Nay, but they perceive not.” means, ‘do these deceived people think that what We give them of wealth and children is because they are honored and precious in Our sight No, the matter is not as they claim when they say, “We are more in wealth and in children, and we are not going to be punished.” (34:35) But this thinking is wrong, and their hopes will be dashed. We only give those things to them in order to make them go further (in sin) and to give them more time.’ Allah says: “but they perceive not.” as He says elsewhere: “So, let not their wealth nor their children amaze you; in reality Allah’s plan is to punish them with these things in the life of this world…” (9:55) “We postpone the punishment only so that they may increase in sinfulness” (3:178). “Then leave Me Alone with such as belie this Qur’an. We shall punish them gradually from directions they perceive not. And I will grant them a respite.” (68:44-45) “Leave Me Alone (to deal) with whom I created lonely.” until His saying: “opposing” (74: 11-16) “And it is not your wealth, nor your children that bring you nearer to Us, but only he who believes, and does righteous deeds…” (34:37) And there are many other Ayat which say similar things. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said, “The Messenger of Allah said:

“Allah has distributed your behavior to you just as He has distritbuted your provision. Allah gives the things of this world to those whom He loves and those whom He does not love, but He only gives religious commitment to those whom He loves. Whoever is given religious commitment by Allah is loved by Him. By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, no servant truly submits until his heart and his tongue submit, and he does not truly believe until his neighbor is safe from his harm.”

They said, ‘What is his harm, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said,

“His wrongdoing and misbehavior. No person who earns unlawful wealth and spends it will be blessed in that; if he gives it in charity, it will not be accepted from him and if he leaves it behind (when he dies), it will be his provision in the Fire. Allah does not wash away an evil deed with another, but he washes away evil deeds with good deeds, for impurity cannot wash away with another impurity.” (Ahmad 1:387) [The authentic narration of this text is from Ibn Masud, not the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him]

{57. Verily, those who live in awe for fear of their Lord; 

58. And those who believe in the Ayat of their Lord; 

59. And those who join not anyone as partners with their Lord; 

60. And those who give that which they give with their hearts full of fear, because they are sure to return to their Lord. 

61. It is these who hasten in the good deeds, and they are foremost in them.}

Description of the People of Good Deeds 
“Verily, those who live in awe for fear of their Lord” means, even though they have reached the level of Ihsan and have faith and do righteous deeds, they are still in awe of Allah and fear Him and His hidden plans for them, as Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “The believer combines Ihsan with awe, while the disbelievers combine evil deeds with a sense of security.” (At-Tabari 19:45)
“And those who believe in the Ayat of their Lord” means, they believe in His universal and legislative signs, as Allah says about Maryam, peace be upon her: “and she testified to the truth of the Words of her Lord, and His Scriptures” (66:12), meaning that she believed that whatever existed was by the will and decree of Allah, and that whatever Allah decreed, if it was a command, it would be something that He liked and accepted; if it was a prohibition, it would be something that He disliked and rejected; and if it was good, it would be true. This is like the Ayah: “And those who join not anyone (in worship) as partners with their Lord” meaning, they do not worship anyone or anything else besides Him, but they worship Him Alone and know that there is no god except Allah Alone, the One, the Self-Sufficient Master, Who does not take a wife or have any offspring, and there is none comparable or equal unto Him. “And those who give that which they give with their hearts full of fear, because they are sure to return to their Lord.” means, they give in charity, fearing that it may not be accepted from them because of some shortcoming or failure to meet the required conditions of giving. This has to do with fear and taking precautions, as Imam Ahmad recorded from `A’ishah: I said: “O Messenger of Allah,“And those who give that which they give with their hearts full of fear…” Are these the ones who steal and commit Zina and drink alcohol while fearing Allah” The Messenger of Allah replied:

“No, O daughter of Abu Bakr. O daughter of As-Siddiq, the one who prays, fast and gives in charity, fearing Allah.” (Ahmad 6:159)

This was recorded by At-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Abi Hatim recorded something similar in which the Prophet said:

“No, O daughter of As-Siddiq, they are the ones who pray and fast and give in charity while fearing that it will not be accepted from them, “It is these who hasten in the good deeds.” 

This is also how Ibn Abbas, Muhammad bin Kab Al-Qurazi and Al-Hasan Al-Basri interpreted this Ayah. (At-Tabari 19:45,46)

{62. And We task not any person except according to his capacity, and with Us is a Record which speaks the truth, and they will not be wronged. 

63. Nay, but their hearts are covered from this, and they have other deeds, besides which they are doing. 

64. Until when We seize those of them who lead a luxurious life with punishment; behold, they make humble invocation with a loud voice.  

65. Invoke not loudly this day! Certainly you shall not be helped by Us. 

66. Indeed My Ayat used to be recited to you, but you used to turn back on your heels. 

67. In pride, talking evil about it by night.}

The Justice of Allah and the Frivolity of the Idolators

Allah tells us of His justice towards His servants in this world, in that He does not task any person except according to his capacity, i.e., He does not burden any soul with more than it can bear. On the Day of Resurrection He will call them to account for their deeds, which He has recorded in a written Book from which nothing is omitted. He says: “and with Us is a Record which speaks the truth,” meaning, the Book of deeds “and they will not be wronged.” means, nothing will be omitted from their record of good deeds. As for evil deeds, He will forgive and overlook many of them in the case of His believing servants.

Then Allah says, denouncing the disbelievers and idolators of the Quraysh: “Nay, but their hearts are covered”, meaning because of negligence and misguidance, “from this.” means, the Qur’an which Allah revealed to His Messenger .”and they have other deeds, besides which they are doing.” Al-Hakam bin Aban narrated from Ikrimah, from Ibn Abbas that “and they have other deeds,” means, evil deeds apart from that, i.e., Shirk, “which they are doing.” means, which they will inevitably do. (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:107) This was also narrated from Mujahid, Al-Hasan and others. (At-Tabari 19:49)

Others said that this phrase means:“And they have other deeds, besides which they are doing.” It was decreed that they would do evil deeds, and they will inevitably do them before they die, so that the word of punishment may be justified against them.

A similar view was narrated from Muqatil bin Hayyan, As-Suddi and Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam. (At-Tabari 19:50) This is a clear and appropriate meaning. We have already quoted from the Hadith of Ibn Masud: “By Him besides Whom there is no other God, a man 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, then he will enter Hell…” (Ahmad 1:382)

“Until when We seize those of them who lead a luxurious life with punishment; behold, they make humble invocation with a loud voice.” means, when the punishment and vengeance of Allah comes to those who are living a happy life of luxury in this world and overtakes them, “behold, they make humble invocation with a loud voice.” means, they scream their calls for help. This is like the Ayat:“And leave Me Alone (to deal) with the beliers, those who are in possession of good things of life. And give them respite for a little while. Verily, with Us are fetters, and a raging Fire.” (73:11-12) “How many a generation have We destroyed before them! And they cried out when there was no longer time for escape.” (38:3) “Invoke not loudly this day! Certainly you shall not be helped by Us.” means, no one is going to save you from what has happened to you, whether you scream aloud or remain silent. There is no escape and no way out. It is inevitable: the punishment will surely come to you. Then Allah mentions the greatest of their sins: “Indeed My Ayat used to be recited to you, but you used to turn back on your heels.” meaning, when you were called, you refused and resisted.“This is because, when Allah Alone was invoked, you disbelieved, but when partners were joined to Him, you believed! So the judgment is only with Allah, the Most High, the Most Great!” (40:12) “In pride, talking evil about it by night.” refers to the arrogant pride which the Quraysh felt because they believed themselves to be the guardians of the Kabah, when in fact this was not the case. As An-Nasai said in his Tafsir of this Ayah in his Sunan: Ahmad bin Sulayman told us that Ubaydullah told us from Israil, from Abdul-Ala that he heard Sa`id bin Jubayr narrating that Ibn `Abbas said, “Talking by late night became disapproved of when this Ayah was revealed: “In pride, talking evil about it by night.” He said, “They boasted about the Ka`bah and said, `We are its people who stay up talking at night.’ They used to boast and stay up and talk at night around the Ka`bah. They did not use it for the proper purpose, and so in effect they had abandoned it.” (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:412)

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 6 Pages 649-669