Surah An-Nahl Ayat 1-44

Surah An-Nahl 

(The Bees)

Chapter 16

Which was Revealed in Makkah

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

{1. The Event ordained by Allah has indeed come, so do not seek to hasten it. Glorified and Exalted be He above all that they associate as partners with Him.}

Warning about the approach of the Hour

Allah is informing about the approach of the Hour in the past tense [in Arabic] in order to confirm that it will undoubtedly come to pass. This is like the following Ayat, in which the verbs appear in the past tense in Arabic: “Mankind’s reckoning has drawn near them, while they turn away in heedlessness.” (21:1) ”The Hour has drawn near, and the moon has been cleft.” (54:1) “so do not seek to hasten it.” means, what was far is now near, so do not try to rush it. As Allah said, “And they ask you to hasten the torment (for them), and had it not been for a term appointed, the torment would certainly have come to them. And surely, it will come upon them suddenly while they are unaware! They ask you to hasten on the torment. And verily! Hell, of a surety, will encompass the disbelievers” (29:53-54). Ibn Abi Hatim reported from Uqbah bin Amir that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“When the Hour approaches, a black cloud resembling a shield will emerge upon from the west. It will continue rising in the sky, then a voice will call out, ‘O mankind!’ The people will say to one another, ‘Did you hear that?’ Some will say, ‘yes’, but others will doubt it. Then a second call will come, ‘O mankind!’ The people will say to one another, ‘Did you hear that?’ And they will say,’Yes.’ Then a third call will come, ‘O mankind!’ The Event ordained by Allah has indeed come, so do not seek to hasten it.”

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, two men will spread out a cloth, but will never refold it; a man will prepare his trough, but will never water his animals from it; and a man will milk his camel, but will never drink the milk.” Then he said, “The people will be distracted.” (Al-Hakim 4:539)

Then Allah tells us that He is free from their allegations of partners to their worship of idols, and making equals for Him. Glorified and exalted be He far above that. These are the people who deny the Hour, so He says: “Glorified and Exalted be He above all that they associate as partners with Him.”

{2. He sends down the angels with the Ruh (revelation) of His command to those servants of His whom He wills (saying): “Warn mankind that none has the right to be worshipped but I, so have Taqwa of Me.”}

Allah send Whomever He wills with the Message of Tawhid

“He sends down the angels with the Ruh” refers to the revelation. This is like the Ayat: “And thus We have sent to you a Ruh (revelation) by Our command. You knew not what is the Book, nor what is the faith. But We have made it a light by which We guide whomever We will among Our servants.” (43:52) “to those servants of His whom He wills” meaning the Prophets, as Allah says: “Allah best knows where to place His Message.” (6:124) “Allah chooses Messengers from angels and from men.” (22:75) “He sends the Ruh (revelation) by His command to whoever among His servants He wills to, that he may warn of the Day of Meeting. The Day when they will (all) come out, nothing about them will be hidden from Allah. Whose is the kingdom this Day: It is Allah’s, the One, the Irresistible!” (40:15-16) “(saying): “Warn…” meaning that they should alert them. “that none has the right to be worshipped but I, so have Taqwa of Me.” means, ‘fear My punishment, if you go against My commands and worship anything other than Me.’

{3. He has created the heavens and the earth with truth. High is He, Exalted above all that they associate as partners with Him. 

4. He has created man from a Nutfah, then behold, this same (man) becomes an open opponent.}

Allah is the One Who has created the Heavens, the Earth, and Man

Allah tells us about His creation of the upper realm, which is the heavens, and the lower realm, which is the earth, and everything in them. They have been created for a true purpose, not in vain, so that “He may requite those who do evil with that which they have done (i.e. punish them in Hell), and reward those who do good, with what is best (i.e. Paradise).” (53:31)

Then He declares Himself to be above the Shirk of those who worship others besides Him. He is independent of His creation, alone with no partner or associate. For this reason He deserves to be worshipped Alone, without partners. Then He mentions how man has been created from a Nutfah, i.e., something that is insignificant, weak and has no value – but when man becomes independent and is able to fend for himself – then he begins to dispute with his Lord, may He be exalted, and disbelieves in Him and fights His Messengers. But man was created to be a servant, not an opponent, as Allah says: “And it is He Who has created man from water, and gave him descendants, and made Him kindred by marriage, and your Lord is capable (of all things). And they worship besides Allah, that which can neither profit them nor harm them; and the disbeliever is ever a helper (of Shaytan) against his Lord” (25: 54-55). And; “Does not man see that We have created him from Nutfah? Yet, behold he stands as an open opponent. 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 the first time! And He is the knower of every creature!” (36:77-79).

Imam Ahmad and Ibn Majah reported that Busr bin Jahhash said: “The Messenger of Allah spat in his palm, then he said,

“Allah, may He be exalted, says: “O son of Adam, how could you be more powerful than I when I have created you from something like this, and when I have fashioned you perfectly and made you complete, you walk wearing your two garments and the earth makes a sound (beneath your feet). You collect money but do not give anything to anyone, then when the soul of a dying person reaches the throat, you say, ‘I want to give in charity’, but it is too late for charity.” (Ahmad 2:410, Ibn Majah 2:903)

{5. And the cattle, He has created them for you; in them there is warmth (warm clothing), and numerous benefits, and you eat from them. 

6. And there is beauty in them for you, when you bring them home in the evening, and as you lead them forth to pasture (in the morning). 

7. And they carry your loads to a land that you could not reach yourselves except with great trouble. Truly, your Lord is full of kindness, Most Merciful.}

The Cattle are part of the Creation of Allah and a Blessing from Him

Allah reminds His servants of the blessing in His creation of Anam, this term includes camels, cows and sheep, as was explained in detail in Surat Al-Anam where the “eight pairs” are mentioned. [See Tafsir of Surat Al-Anam 6:143-144] The blessings include the benefits derived from their wool and hair, from which clothes and furnishings are made, from their milk which is drunk, and their young which are eaten. Their beauty is a kind of adornment, thus Allah says, “And there is beauty in them for you, when you bring them home in the evening.” which is when they are brought back from the pasture in the evening. This is a reference to how their flanks become fat, their udders fill with milk and their humps become bigger. “and as you lead them forth to pasture (in the morning).” meaning when you send them out to the pasture in the morning. “And they carry your loads” meaning the heavy burdens that you cannot move or carry by yourselves “to a land that you could not reach except with great trouble to yourselves” meaning journeys for Hajj, Umrah, military campaigns, and journeys for the purpose of trading, and so on. They use these animals for all kinds of purposes, for riding and for carrying loads, as Allah says: “And verily, there is indeed a lesson for you in the An’am (cattle). We give you to drink (milk) of that which is in their bellies. And there are numerous (other) benefits in them for you. Of them you eat, and on them and on ships you are carried.” (23:21-22) “Allah, it is He Who has made cattle for you, so that some you may ride, and some you may eat. And you find (many other) benefits in them; you may reach by their means a desire that is in your breasts (i.e. carry your goods, loads), and on them and on ships you are carried. And He shows you His Ayat. Which, then of the Ayat of Allah do you deny” (40:79-81).

Thus here Allah says, after enumerating these blessings, “Truly, your Lord is full of kindness, Most Merciful.” meaning, your Lord is the One Who has subjugated the Anam (cattle) to you. This is like the Ayat: “Do they not see, that of what Our Hands have created, We created the An’am (cattle) for them, so that they may own them, and We subdued them so that they may ride some and they may eat some.” (36:71-72). “And He made mounts for you out of ships and cattle. In order that you may ride on their backs, and may then remember the favor of your Lord when you mount upon them, and say: “Glory be to the One Who 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) Ibn Abbas said, “In them there is warmth” refers to clothing; “and numerous benefits” refers to the ways in which they derive the benefits of food and drink from them.” (At-Tabari 17:168)

{8. And (He has created) horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride, and as an adornment. And He creates (other) things of which you have no knowledge.}

This refers to another category of animals that Allah has created as a blessings for His servant; horses, mules and donkeys, all of which He made for riding and adornment. This is the main purpose for which these animals were created. It was reported in the Two Sahihs that Jabir bin Abdullah said: “The Messenger of Allah forbade us to eat the meat of domestic donkeys, but he allowed us to eat the meat of horses.” (Fath Al-Bari 9:570, Muslim 3:1541)

Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawud reported with two chains of narration, each of which meet the conditions of Muslim, that Jabir said: “On the day of Khaybar we slaughtered horses, mules and donkeys. The Messenger of Allah forbade us from eating the mules and donkeys, but he did not forbid us from eating the horses.” (Ahmad 3:356, 362, Abu Dawud 4:149, 151)

According to Sahih Muslim, Asma bint Abi Bakr (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: “At the time of the Messenger of Allah we slaughtered a horse and ate it when we were in Al-Madinah.” (Muslim 3:1541)

{9. And it is up to Allah to show the right way. But there are ways that stray. And had He willed, He would have guided you all.}

Explanation of the Different Religious Paths

When Allah mentioned the animals which may be used for the purpose of physical journeys, He also referred to the moral, religious routes that people may follow. Often in the Qur’an there is a shift from physical or tangible things to beneficial spiritual and religious matters, as when Allah says, “And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is Taqwa (piety, righteousness).” (2:197) And, “O Children of Adam! We have granted clothing for you to cover yourselves, as well as for adornment; but the raiment of righteousness, that is better.” (7:26)

Since Allah mentioned cattle and other such animals in this Surah, all of which are ridden or can be used in any way necessary, carrying people’s necessities for them to distant places and on difficult journeys – then He mentions the ways which people follow to try to reach Him, and explains that the right way is the one that does reach Him. He says: “And it is up to Allah to show the right way.” This is like the Ayat, “And verily, this is My straight path, so follow it, and do not follow the (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His path.” (6:153) and, “(Allah) said: “This is the way which will lead straight to Me.” (15:41) “And it is up to Allah to show the right way.” Mujahid said: “The true way is up to Allah.” (At-Tabari 17:175)

“And it is up to Allah to show the right way.” Al-Awfi said that Ibn Abbas said: “It is up to Allah to clarify, to explain the guidance and misguidance.” This was also reported by Ali bin Abi Talhah, and was also the opinion of Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak.

Hence Allah said: “But there are ways that stray.” (At-Tabari 17:176) meaning they deviate from the truth. Ibn Abbas and others said: “These are the different ways,” (At-Tabari 17:176) and various opinions and whims, such as Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. Ibn Masud recited it as “But among you are those who stray. ” (At-Tabari 17:176)

Then Allah tells us that all of that happens by His will and decree. He says: “And had He willed, He would have guided you all.”

And Allah says: “If your Lord had willed, then all who are in the earth would have believed.” (10:99)

“And if your Lord had so willed, He could surely, have made humanity one Ummah, but they will not stop disagreeing. Except those for whom your Lord has granted mercy. And it is for this that He did create them; and the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled (i.e. His saying): “Surely, I shall fill Hell with Jinn and men all together.” (11:118-119).

{10. He it is Who sends water down from the sky; from it you drink and from it (grows) the vegetation on which you send your cattle to pasture.  

11. With it He causes crops to grow for you, the olives, the date palms, the grapes, and every kind of fruit. Verily, in this there is indeed an evident proof and a manifest sign for people who give thought.}

The Blessings of rain, and explaining how it is one of the Signs

When Allah mentions the blessings of cattle and other animals that He has granted mankind, He then mentions how He has blessed them by sending rain down from the sky above, which has been fulfilling the needs and bringing joy to people and their cattle. Allah says: “from it you drink” meaning, He made it fresh and pure so that they can drink it, not salty and undrinkable. “and from it (grows) the vegetation on which you send your cattle to pasture.” meaning, from it He raised plants on which your cattle graze. Ibn Abbas, Ikrimah, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah and Ibn Zayd, all said that this refers to grazing animals including camels. (At-Tabari 17:178)  “With it He causes crops to grow for you, olives, date palms, grapes, and every kind of fruit.” meaning, with this one kind of water, He makes the earth sprout plants with different tastes, colors, scents and shapes. For this reason He says, “Verily, in this there is indeed an evident proof and a manifest sign for people who give thought.” meaning, this is a sign and a proof that there is no god besides Allah, as He says: “Is not He (better than your gods) Who created the heavens and the earth, and sends water down for you from the sky, from which We cause wonderful gardens full of beauty and delight to grow? You are not able to cause the growth of their trees. Is there any ilah (god) with Allah Nay, but they are a people who make equals (to Him)!” (27:60).

{12. And He has subjected the night and the day for you, and the sun and the moon; and the stars are subjected by His command. Surely, in this are proofs for people who understand. 

13. And all He has created of varying colors on the earth for you. Verily, in this is a sign for people who reflect.}

Signs in the Subjection of Night and day, the Sun and the Moon, and in that which grows on Earth

Allah mentions the mighty signs and immense blessings to be found in His subjection of night and day, which follow one another; the sun and moon, which revolve; the stars, both fixed and moving through the skies, offering light by which people may find their way in the darkness. Each of (these heavenly bodies) travels in its own orbit, which Allah has ordained for it, and travels in the manner prescribed for it, without deviating in any way. All of them are under His subjugation, His control and His decree, as Allah says: “Indeed, your Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and then He rose (Istawa) over the Throne. He brings the night as a cover over the day, seeking it rapidly, and (He created) the sun, the moon, the stars (all) subjected to His command. Surely, His is the creation and commandment. Blessed is Allah, the Lord of all that exists!” (7:54)

Thus Allah says; “Surely, in this are proofs for people who understand.” meaning, they are indications of His immense power and might, for those who think about Allah and understand His signs. “And whatsoever He has created of varying colors on the earth for you.”

When Allah points out the features of the skies, He also points out the wondrous things that He has created on earth, the variety of its animals, minerals, plants and inanimate features, all having different colors and shapes, benefits and qualities. “Verily, in this is a sign for people who reflect.” meaning (those who remember) the blessings of Allah and give thanks to Him for them.

{14. And He it is Who subjected the sea (to you), that you may eat from the fresh tender meat, and that you bring forth out of it ornaments to wear. And you see the ships plowing through it, that you may seek from His bounty and that you may perhaps be grateful. 

15. And He has driven firm standing mountains into the earth, lest it should shake with you; and rivers and roads, that you may guide yourselves. 

16. And (by the) landmarks; and by the stars, they guide themselves. 

17. Is then He Who creates the same as one who creates, not? Will you not then reflect? 

18. And if you would try to count the favors of Allah, you would never be able to count them. Truly, Allah is Forgiving, Most Merciful.}

Signs in the Oceans, Mountains, Rivers, Roads and Stars

Allah tells us how He has subjected the seas, with their waves lapping the shores, and how He blesses His servants by subjecting the seas for them so that they may travel on them, and by putting fish and whales in them, by making their flesh permissible to eat – whether they are caught alive or dead – at all times, including when people are in a state of Ihram. He has created pearls and precious jewels in the oceans, and made it easy for His servants to recover ornaments that they can wear from the ocean floor. He made the sea such that it carries the ships which plow through it. He is the One Who taught mankind to make ships, which is the inheritance of their forefather Nuh. He was the first one to travel by ship, he was taught how to make them, then people took this knowledge from him and passed it down from generation to generation through the centuries, so that they could travel from country to country and from place to place, bringing goods from here to there and from there to here. Thus Allah says: “that you may seek from His bounty and that you may perhaps be grateful.” – for His bounty and blessings.

Then Allah mentions the earth and how He placed in it mountains standing firm, which make it stable and keep it from shaking in such a manner that the creatures dwelling on it would not be able to live. Hence Allah says, “And the mountains He has fixed firmly.” (79: 32). “and rivers and roads” meaning He has made rivers which flow from one place to another, bringing provision for His servants. The rivers arise in one place, and bring provision to people living in another place. They flow through lands and fields and wildernesses, through mountains and hills, until they reach the land whose people they are meant to benefit. They meander across the land, left and right, north and south, east and west – rivers great and small – flowing sometimes and ceasing sometimes, flowing from their sources to the places where the water gathers, flowing rapidly or moving slowly, as decreed by Allah. There is no god besides Him and no Lord except Him. He also made roads or routes along which people travel from one land or city to another, and He even made gaps in the mountains so that there would be routes between them, as He says: “And We placed broad highways for them to pass through.” (21:31) “And landmarks” meaning, signs like great mountains and small hills, and so on, things that land and sea travelers use to find their way if they get lost. “and by the stars (during the night), they (mankind) guide themselves.” meaning, in the darkness of the night. This was the opinion of Ibn Abbas. (At-Tabari 17:185)

Worship is Allah’s Right

Then Allah tells us of His greatness, and that worship should be directed to Him alone, not to any of the idols which do not create but are rather themselves created. Thus He says “Is then He, Who creates, the same as one who does not create? Will you not then reflect?” (16:17). Then He shows His servants some of the many blessings He granted for them, and the many kinds of things that He has done for them. He says; “And if you would try to count the favors of Allah, you would never be able to count them. Truly, Allah is Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (16:18) meaning that He pardons and forgives them. If He were to ask you to thank Him for all of His blessings, you would not be able to do so, and if He were to command you to do so, you would be incapable of it. If He punishes you, He is never unjust in His punishment, but He is Forgiving and Most Merciful, He forgives much and rewards for little. Ibn Jarir said: “It means that Allah is Forgiving when you fail to thank Him properly, if you repent and turn to Him in obedience, and strive to do that which pleases Him. He is Merciful to you and does not punish you if you turn to Him and repent.” (At-Tabari 17:187)

{19. And Allah knows what you conceal and what you reveal.

 20. Those whom they invoke besides Allah have not created anything, but are themselves created. 

21. (They are) dead, not alive; and they do not know when they will be resurrected.}

Allah tells us that He knows what is hidden in people’s hearts as well as what is apparent. He will reward or punish everyone for their deeds on the Day of Resurrection. If their deeds are good then they will be rewarded, and if their deeds are evil, then they will be punished.

The gods of the Idolaters are Created, they do not create

Then Allah tells us that the idols which people call on instead of Him cannot create anything, they are themselves created, as Al-Khalil (Ibrahim) said: “Do you worship that which you (yourselves) carve? While Allah has created you and what you make!” (37:-96). “(They are) dead, not alive” means, they are inanimate and lifeless, they do not hear, see, or think. “and they know not when they will be resurrected.” meaning, they do not know when the Hour will come, so how can anyone hope for any benefit or reward from these idols They should hope for it from the One Who knows all things and is the Creator of all things.

{22. Your god is one God. But for those who believe not in the Hereafter, their hearts are in denial, and they are proud. 

23. Certainly, Allah knows what they conceal and what they reveal. Truly, He does not like the proud. }

None is to be worshipped except Allah

Allah tells us that there is none to be worshipped besides Him, the One, the Unique, the Lone, the Self-Sufficient. He tells us that the hearts of the disbelievers deny that and are astonished by that: “Has he made the gods (all) into One God! Verily, this is a curious thing!” (38:5). “And when Allah alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter are filled with disgust, and when those besides Him are mentioned, behold, they rejoice!” (39:45). “and they are proud” meaning they are too proud to worship Allah, and their hearts reject the idea of singling Him out, as Allah says: “Verily! Those who scorn My worship they will surely enter Hell in humiliation!” (40:60) So here, Allah says; “Certainly”, meaning truly, “Allah knows what they conceal and what they reveal.” meaning He will requite them for that in full. “Truly, He does not like the proud.”

{24. And when it is said to them: “What is it that your Lord has revealed?” They say: “Tales of the men of old!” 

25. They will bear their own burdens in full on the Day of Resurrection, and also the burdens of those whom they misled without knowledge. Evil indeed is that which they shall bear!}

The Destruction of the Disbelievers and Intensification of their Punishment for rejecting the Revelation

Allah informs us that when it is said to those liars, “What is it that your Lord has revealed?” They say,” not wanting to answer, “Tales of the men of old!” meaning nothing is revealed to him, what he is reciting to us is just tales of the men of old, taken from the previous Books. As Allah says, “And they say: “Tales of the ancients, which he has written down, and they are dictated to him morning and afternoon.” (25:5) i.e., they tell lies against the Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and say things contradicting one another, but all of it is false, as Allah says, “Look at the parables they make of you, so they have gone astray, and they are not able to find the right way.” (17:48)

Once they have gone beyond the bounds of the truth, whatever they say will be in error. They used to say that he (the Prophet) was a sorcerer, a poet, a soothsayer, or a madman, then they settled on an idea proposed by their leader, an individual known as Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah Al-Makhzumi, when: “He thought, and plotted. So let him be cursed, how he plotted! And once more let him be cursed, how he plotted! Then he thought. Then he frowned and he looked in a bad tempered way; then he turned back, and was proud. Then he said: “This is nothing but the magic of old.’‘ (74:18-24) meaning something that had been transmitted and passed down. So they dispersed having agreed on this opinion, may Allah punish them. “They will bear their own burdens in full on the Day of Resurrection, and also of the burdens of those whom they misled without knowledge.” meaning, ‘We decreed that they would say that, so they will carry the burden of their own sins and some of the burden of those who followed them and agreed with them,’ i.e., they will be held guilty not only for going astray themselves, but also for tempting others and having them follow them. As it says in a Hadith:

“Whoever invites people to guidance, he will receive a reward like that of those who follow him, without diminishing their reward in the least. And whoever invites people to misguidance, he will bear a burden of sin like that of those who follow him, without diminishing their burden in the least.” (Muslim 4:2060)

Allah says; “They shall bear their own loads, and other loads besides their own; and they shall be questioned about their false allegations on the Day of Resurrection.” (29:13) Al-Awfi reported from Ibn Abbas that it is like the Ayah: “That they may bear their own burdens in full on the Day of Resurrection, and also of the burdens of those whom they misled without knowledge.” (16:25)

Allah says, “They shall bear their own loads, and other loads besides their own” (29:13). (At-Tabari 17:191) Mujahid said: “They will bear the burden of their own sins, and they will bear the sins of those who obeyed them, but that will not lessen the punishment of those who obeyed them at all.” (At-Tabari 17:190)

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 5 Pages 429-449

{26. Those before them indeed plotted, but Allah struck at the foundation of their building, the roof fell down upon them from above them, and the torment overtook them from directions they did not perceive. 

27. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, He will disgrace them and will say: “Where are My (so-called) partners, those over which you caused so much discord?” Those who have been given the knowledge will say: “Indeed it is a Day of disgrace and misery for the disbelievers.”}

Discussion about what the previous Peoples did, and what was done to Them

“Those before them indeed plotted” Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas said: “This refers to Namrud (Nimrod), who built the tower.” (At-Tabari 17:193) Others said that it refers to Bukhtanassar (Nebuchadnezzar). The correct view is that this is said by way of example, to refute what was done by those who disbelieved in Allah and associated others in worship with Him. As Nuh said, “And they have hatched a mighty scheme.” (71:22) meaning, they used all sorts of ploys to misguide their people, and tempted them to join them in their Shirk via all possible means. On the Day of Resurrection their followers will say to them: “Nay, but it was your plotting by night and day, when you ordered us to disbelieve in Allah and set up rivals to Him!” (34:33) “but Allah struck at the foundation of their building.” meaning, He uprooted it and brought their efforts to naught. This is like the Ayah: “Every time they kindled the fire of war, Allah extinguished it.” (5:64) and “But Allah’s (torment) reached them from a place where they were not expecting it, and He cast terror into their hearts so that they destroyed their own dwellings with their own hands and the hands of the believers. So then take admonition, O you with eyes (to see).” (59:2) Allah says here: “but Allah struck at the foundation of their building, and then the roof fell down upon them, from above them, and the torment overtook them from directions they did not perceive. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, He will disgrace them” (16:26-27) meaning, He will expose their scandalous deeds and what they used to hide in their hearts, and He will bring it out in the open. As He says, “The Day when all the secrets will be (exposed and) examined.” (86:9)

They will be displayed and made known, as found in the Two Sahihs, where Ibn Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“On the Day of Resurrection a banner will be set up by his backside for every deceitful person, (whose size is) in accordance with the amount of his deceit. It be said, “This is the one who deceived so-and-so, the son of so-and-so.” (Fath Al-Bari 10:578)

Thus, what they used to plot in secret will be made public. Allah will humiliate them before all of His creation, and the Lord will say to them, in rebuke and reprimand; “Where are My (so-called) partners, those over which you caused so much discord?” meaning, you fought and made enemies for their sake, so where are they now to help and save you “Can they help you or (even) help themselves?” (26:93) “Then will (man) have no power, nor any helper.” (86:10) When evidence and proof is established against them, and the Word (of Allah) is justified against them, and they will be unable to give any excuse, realizing that escape is impossible, then “Those who have been given the knowledge will say” who are the leaders in this world and the Hereafter and who know about the truth in this world and the Hereafter – will say, “Indeed it is a Day of disgrace and misery for the disbelievers.” meaning, today those who disbelieved in Allah and worshipped others who have no power either to benefit or to harm them are now surrounded by disgrace and punishment.

{28. Those whose lives the angels take while they are doing wrong to themselves. Then, they will (falsely) submit (saying): “We did not do any evil.” (The angels will reply): “Yes! Truly, Allah is Most Knowing of what you did.” 

29. “So enter the gates of Hell, to abide therein, and indeed, what an evil abode there is for the arrogant.”}

The Condition of the Disbeliever during and after Death

Allah informs us of the state of the idolators who are doing wrong to themselves when death approaches and the angels come to seize their evil souls. “Then, they will (falsely) submit” meaning, they will make it appear as if they used to listen and obey by saying, “We did not do any evil.” Similarly, on the Day of Resurrection, they will say, “By Allah, our Lord, we were not idolators.” (6:23) “On the Day when Allah will resurrect them all together; then they will swear to Him as they swear to you.” (58:18) Allah says, rejecting what they say, “Yes! Truly, Allah is Most Knowing of what you did. So enter the gates of Hell, to abide therein, and indeed, what an evil abode there is for the arrogant.” (16:28-29), meaning, a miserable position in the abode of humiliation for those who were too arrogant to pay attention to the signs of Allah and follow His Messengers. They will enter Hell from the day they die with their souls, and their bodies will feel the heat and hot winds of their graves. When the Day of Resurrection comes, their souls will be reunited with their bodies, to abide forever in the fire of Hell, and “It will not be complete enough to kill them nor shall its torment be lightened for them.” (35:36) As Allah says, “The Fire, they are exposed to it morning and afternoon. And on the Day when the Hour will be established (it will be said to the angels): “Cause Fir’awn’s people to enter the severest torment!” (40:46).

{30. And (when) it is said to those who had Taqwa (piety and righteousness), ”What is it that your Lord has revealed?” They say: “That which is good.” For those who do good in this world, there is good, and the home of the Hereafter will be better. And excellent indeed will be the home (i.e. Paradise) of those who have Taqwa. 

31. Adn (Eden) Paradise (Gardens of Eternity) which they will enter, under which rivers flow, in it they will have all that they wish. Thus Allah rewards those who have Taqwa. 

32. Those whose lives the angels take while they are in a pious state saying (to them) “Salamun Alaikum (peace be on you!). Enter Paradise because of what (good) you used to do (in the world).”}

What the Pious say about the Revelation, their Reward and their Condition during and after Death

Here we are told about the blessed, as opposed to the doomed, who, when they are asked, “What is it that your Lord has revealed?” they will reluctantly answer, “He did not reveal anything, these are just the fables of old.” But the blessed, on the other hand, will say, “That which is good,” meaning – He revealed something good, meaning mercy and blessings for those who followed it and believed in it. Then we are told about Allah’s promise to His servants which He revealed to His Messengers. He says: “For those who do good in this world, there is good” This is like the Ayah, “Whoever works righteousness – whether male or female – while being a true believer verily, to him We will give a good life, and We shall certainly reward them in proportion to the best of what they used to do.” (16:97), which means that whoever does good in this world, Allah will reward him for his good deeds in this world and in the next. Then we are told that the home of the Hereafter will be better, i.e., better than the life of this world, and that the reward in the Hereafter will be more complete than the reward in this life, as Allah says, “But those who were given (religious) knowledge said: “Woe to you! The reward of Allah (in the Hereafter) is better” (28:80) and, “and what is with Allah for the righteous is better.” (3:198) and: “Although the Hereafter is better and enduring” (87:17). Allah said to His Messenger: “And indeed the Hereafter is better for you than the present” (93:4). Then Allah describes the abode of the Hereafter, saying, “And excellent indeed will be the home (i.e. Paradise) of those who have Taqwa.” “Adn (Eden) Paradise (Gardens of Eternity)”  refers to the home of the Muttaqun, i.e., in the Hereafter they will have Gardens of Eternity in which they will dwell forever. “under which rivers flow” meaning, between its trees and palaces. “in it they will have all that they wish” this is like the Ayah: “in it (there will be) all that souls could desire, and all that eyes could delight in, and in it you will live forever.” (43:71) “Thus Allah rewards those who have Taqwa.” meaning, this is how Allah rewards everyone who believes in Him, fears Him, and does good deeds.

Then Allah tells us about their condition when death approaches them in a good state, i.e., free from Shirk, impurity and all evil. The angels greet them and give them the good news of Paradise, as Allah says: “Verily, those who say: “Our Lord is Allah (alone),” and then behave righteously, on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death) (saying): “Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the good news of Paradise as you have been promised! We have been your friends in the life of this world and are (so) in the Hereafter. In it you shall have (all) that your souls desire, and in it you shall have (all) that you ask for. An entertainment from (Allah), the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (41:30:32)

We have already referred to the Hadiths that have been reported on the taking of the soul of the believer and the soul of the disbeliever, when we discussed the Ayah, “Allah will keep firm those who believe, with the word that stands firm in this world (i.e. they will keep on worshipping Allah Alone and none else), and in the Hereafter. And Allah will cause the wrongdoers to stray, and Allah does as He wills.” (14:27)

{33. Are they but waiting for the angels to come to them, or there comes the command of your Lord? Thus did those before them. And Allah did not wrong them, but they were wronging themselves. 

34.Then, they were afflicted by their evil deeds, and they were surrounded by that which they used to mock.}

The Disbelievers’ Refrain from Faith means that They were simple awaiting Punishment

Threatening the idolators for their persistence in falsehood and their conceited delusions about this world, Allah says: Are these people waiting only for the angels to come and take their souls? Qatadah (At-Tabari 17:199) said: “Or there comes the command of your Lord?” means the Day of Resurrection and the terror that they will go through.” “Thus did those before them.” means, thus did their predecessors and those who were like them among the idolators persist in their Shirk, until they tasted the wrath of Allah and experienced the punishment and torment that they suffered. “And Allah did not wrong them.” because by sending His Messengers and revealing His Books He gave them enough warning and clearly demonstrated His proofs to them. “but they were wronging themselves.” meaning, by opposing the Messengers and denying what they brought. For this reason Allah’s punishment tormented them. “they were surrounded” meaning, they were overwhelmed by the painful torment. “by that which they used to mock.” meaning, they used to make fun of the Messengers when they warned them Allah’s punishment, and for this it will be said to them on the Day of Resurrection: “This is the Fire which you used to belie.” (52:14).

{35. And those who worshipped others with Allah said: “If Allah had so willed, neither we nor our fathers would have worshipped any but Him nor would we have forbidden anything without (a command from) Him.” Those before them did the same. Then! Are the Messengers charged with anything but to clearly convey the Message? 

36. And We have indeed sent a Messenger to every Ummah (community, nation) (saying): “Worship Allah (Alone), and shun the Taghut (all false deities). ” Then among them were some whom Allah guided, and among them were some who deserved to be left to stray. So travel through the land and see the end of those who denied (the truth). 

37. (Even) if you desire that they be guided, then verily, Allah does not guide those whom He allowed to stray, and they will have no helpers.}

The Idolaters Argument that their Shirk was Divinely decreed, and the Refutation of this Claim

Allah tells us about the idolators delusion over their Shirk, and the excuse they claimed for it based on the idea that it is ordained by divine decree. He says: “(They say:) “If Allah had so willed, neither we nor our fathers would have worshipped any but Him, nor would we have forbidden anything without (a command from) Him.” They had superstitious customs dealing with certain animals, e.g. the Bahirah [See Tafsir of Surah Yunus no. 59-60] the Sa’ibah and the Wasilah and other things that they had invented and innovated by themselves, with no revealed authority. The essence of what they said was: “If Allah hated what we did, He would have stopped by punishing us, and He would not have enabled us to do it.” Rejecting their confusing ideas, Allah says: “Are the Messengers charged with anything but to clearly convey the Message?” meaning, the matter is not as you claim. It is not the case that Allah did not rebuke your behavior; rather, He did rebuke you, and in the strongest possible terms, and He emphatically forbade you from such behavior. To every nation – that is, to every generation, to every community of people – He sent a Messenger. All of the Messengers called their people to worship Allah (Alone) as well as forbidding them from worshipping anything or anybody except for Him. “Worship Allah (Alone), and shun the Taghut (all false deities).”

Allah continued sending Messengers to mankind with this Message, from the first incidence of Shirk that appeared among the Children of Adam, in the people to whom Nuh was sent – the first Messenger sent by Allah to the people of this earth – until He sent the final Messenger, Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, whose call was addressed to both men and Jinn, in the east and in the west. All of the Messengers brought the same Message, as Allah says: “And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We revealed to him (saying): None has the right to be worshipped but I (Allah), so worship Me (alone and none else).” (21:25) “And ask (O Muhammad) those Messengers of Ours whom We sent before you: “Did We ever appointed to be worshipped besides the Most Gracious (Allah)?” (43:45) And in this Ayah, Allah says: “And We have indeed sent a Messenger to every Ummah (community, nation) (saying): “Worship Allah (alone), and shun the Taghut (all false deities).” So how could any of the idolators say, “If Allah had so willed, we would not have worshipped any but Him”

The legislative will of Allah is clear and cannot be taken as an excuse by them, because He had forbidden them to do that upon the tongue of His Messengers, but by His universal will [i.e., by which He allows things to occur even though they do not please Him] He allowed them to do that as it was decreed for them. So there is no argument in that for them. Allah created Hell and its people both the Shayatin (devils) and disbelievers, but He does not like His servants to disbelieve. And this point constitutes the strongest proof and the most unquestionable wisdom.

Then Allah informs us that He rebuked them with punishment in this world, after the Messengers issued their warning, thus He says: “Then among them were some whom Allah guided, and among them were some who deserved to be left to stray. So travel through the land and see the end of those who denied (the truth).”

This means: ask about what happened to those who went against the Messengers and rejected the truth, see how: “Allah destroyed them completely, and a similar (end awaits) the disbelievers.” (47:10) and, “And indeed those before them belied (the Messengers of Allah), so then how terrible was My denial (punishment)” (67:18) Then Allah told His Messenger that His eagerness to guide them will be of no benefit to them if Allah wills that they should be misguided, as He says: “And for whoever Allah wills to try with error, you can do nothing for him against Allah” (5:41). Nuh said to his people: “And my advice will not profit you, even if I wish to give you good counsel, if Allah’s will is to keep you astray.” (11:34). In this Ayah, Allah says: “(Even) if you desire that they be guided, then verily, Allah does not guide those whom He allowed to stray” As Allah says: “Whomsoever Allah allows to stray, then there is no guide for him; and He lets them wander blindly in their transgressions.” (7:186) “Truly! Those deserving the Word (wrath) of your Lord will not believe, even if every sign should come to them – until they see the painful torment” (10:96-97). “then verily, Allah” meaning, this is the way in which Allah does things. If He wills a thing, then it happens, and if He does not will a thing, then it does not happen. For this reason Allah says: “Allah does not guide those whom He allowed to stray” meaning the one whom He has caused to go astray, so who can guide him apart from Allah No one. “And they will have no helpers.” means, they will have no one to save them from the punishment of Allah, “Surely, His is the creation and commandment. Blessed is Allah, the Lord of all that exists!” (7:54).

{38. And they swear by Allah with their strongest oaths, that Allah will not raise up one who dies. Yes, (He will raise them up), a promise (binding) upon Him in truth, but most of mankind know not. 

39. In order that He may make clear to them what they differed over, and so that those who disbelieved may know that they were liars. 

40. Verily, Our Word to a thing when We intend it, is only that We say unto it: “Be!” – and it is.}

The Resurrection after Death is true, there is Wisdom behind it, and it easy for Allah

Allah tells us that the idolators swore by Allah their strongest oaths, meaning that they made oaths swore fervently that Allah would not resurrect the one who died. They considered that to be improbable, and did not believe the Messengers when they told them about that, swearing that it could not happen. Allah said, refuting them: “Yes”, meaning it will indeed happen, “a promise (binding) upon Him in truth” – meaning it is inevitable, “but most of mankind know not.” means, because of their ignorance they oppose the Messengers and fall into disbelief. Then Allah mentions His wisdom and the reason why He will resurrect mankind physically on the Day of Calling (between the people of Fire and of Paradise). He says, “In order that He may make clear to them” means, to mankind, “what they differed over” means, every dispute. “that He may requite those who do evil with that which they have done (i. e. punish them in Hell), and reward those who do good, with what is best (i.e. Paradise).” (53:31) “and so that those who disbelieved may know that they were liars.” meaning that they lied in their oaths and their swearing that Allah would not resurrect those who die. Thus they will be pushed down by force to the Fire with horrible force on the Day of Resurrection, and the guards of Hell will say to them: “This is the Fire which you used to belie. Is this magic or do you not see? Taste its heat, and whether you are tolerant of it or intolerant of it – it is all the same. You are only being requited for what you have done.” (52:14-16). Then Allah tells us about His ability to do whatever He wills, and that nothing is impossible for Him on earth or in heaven. When He wants a thing, all He has to do is say to it “Be!” and it is. The Resurrection is one such thing, when He wants it to happen, all He will have to do is issue the command once, and it will happen as He wills, as He says: “And Our commandment is but one as the twinkling of an eye” (54:50) and, “The creation of you all and the resurrection of you all are only as (the creation and resurrection of) a single person.” (31:28)

And in this Ayah, Allah says: “Verily, Our Word to a thing when We intend it, is only that We say to it: “Be!” – and it is.” meaning, We issue the command once, and then it happens.

Allah does not need to repeat or confirm whatever He commands, because there is nothing that can stop Him or oppose Him. He is the One, the Compelling, the Almighty, whose power, might and dominion have subjected all things. None has the right to be worshipped except Him, and there is no Lord other than Him.

{41. And as for those who emigrated for the cause of Allah, after they had been wronged, We will certainly give them good residence in this world, but indeed the reward of the Hereafter will be greater; if they but knew! 

42. (They are) those who remained patient, and put their trust in their Lord.}

The Reward of the Muhajirin

Allah tells us about the reward of those who migrated for His sake, seeking His pleasure, those who left their homeland behind, brothers and friends, hoping for the reward of Allah. This may have been revealed concerning those who migrated to Ethiopia, those whose persecution at the hands of their own people in Makkah was so extreme that they left them and went to Ethiopia so that they would be able to worship their Lord. Among the most prominent of these migrants were Uthman bin Affan and his wife Ruqayyah, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, Jafar bin Abi Talib, the cousin of the Messenger, and Abu Salamah bin Abdul-Asad, among a group of almost eighty sincere and faithful men and women, may Allah be pleased with them. Allah promised them a great reward in this world and the next. Allah said: “We will certainly give them good residence in this world,”

Ibn Abbas, Ash-Shabi and Qatadah said: (this means) “Al-Madinah.” (At-Tabari 17:205, 206) It was also said that it meant “good provision”. This was the opinion of Mujahid. (At-Tabari 17:206) There is no contradiction between these two opinions, for they left their homes and wealth, but Allah compensated them with something better in this world. Whoever gives up something for the sake of Allah, Allah compensates him with something that is better for him than that, and this is what happened. He gave them power throughout the land and caused them to rule over the people, so they became governors and rulers, and each of them became a leader of the pious. Allah tells us that His reward for the Muhajirin in the Hereafter is greater than that which He gave them in this world, as He says: “but indeed the reward of the Hereafter will be greater” meaning, greater than that which We have given you in this world. “if they but knew!” means, if those who stayed behind and did not migrate with them only knew what Allah prepared for those who obeyed Him and followed His Messenger . Then Allah describes them as: “those who remained patient, and put their trust in their Lord.” (16:42), meaning, they bore their people’s persecution with patience, putting their trust in Allah Who made their end good in this world and the Hereafter.

{43. And We sent not (as Our Messengers) before you (O Muhammad) any but men, whom We sent revelation. So ask Ahl Adh-Dhikr, if you know not. 

44. With clear signs and Books (We sent the Messengers). And We have also revealed the Dhikr to you so that you may clearly explain to men what was revealed to them, and that perhaps they may reflect.}

Only Human Messengers have been Sent

Ad-Dahhak said, reporting from Ibn Abbas: “When Allah sent Muhammad as a Messenger, the Arabs, or some of them, denied him and said, Allah is too great to send a human being as a Messenger.’ Then Allah revealed: “Is it a wonder to people that We have sent Our Inspiration to a man from among themselves (saying): “Warn mankind…” and He said, “And We sent not (as Our Messengers) before you (O Muhammad) any but men, whom We sent Revelation. So ask Ahl Adh-Dhikr, if you know not.”. meaning, (ask) the people of the previous Books, were the Messengers that were sent to them humans or angels? If they were angels, then you have the right to find this strange, but if they were human, then you have no grounds to deny that Muhammad is a Messenger.

Allah says: “And We sent not before you (as Messengers) any but men to whom We revealed, from among the people of townships.” (12:109) and not from among the people of heaven as you say.” (At-Tabari 17:208) It was reported by Mujahid from Ibn Abbas that what is meant by Ahl Adh-Dhikr is the People of the Book. (At-Tabari 17:208) This is as Allah says: “Say: “Glorified be my Lord! Am I anything but a man, sent as a Messenger” And nothing prevented men from believing when the guidance came to them, except that they said: “Has Allah sent a man as (His) Messenger?” (17:93-94) “And We never sent before you (O Muhammad) any of the Messengers but verily, they ate food and walked in the markets.” (25:20) “And We did not create them (the Messengers, with) bodies that did not eat food, nor were they immortals.” (21:8) “Say (O Muhammad): “I am not a new thing among the Messengers. ” (46:9), “Say (O Muhammad): “I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me.” (18:110) Then Allah informs those who doubt that a Messenger can be a human to ask those who have knowledge of the previous Scriptures about the Prophets who came before: were their Prophets humans or angels? Then Allah mentions that He has sent them, “with clear signs”, meaning proof and evidence, and “and Books [Zubur]”, meaning Scriptures. Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak and others (At-Tabari 17:211) said: Zubur is the plural of Zabur, and the Arabs say, Zaburtul-Kitab meaning, “I wrote the book.” Allah says: “And everything they have done is noted in (their) Records (of deeds) [Zubur]” (54:52) “And indeed We have written in Az-Zabur* after the Dhikr^ that My righteous servant shall inherit the land (i.e. the land of Paradise).” (21:105) [*Here the meaning includes all the revealed Holy Books the Tawrah (Torah), the Injil (Gospel), the Zabur (Psalms), the Qur’an, as it is interpreted by the scholars of Tafsir. See explanation of Surat Al-Anbiya, no. 105 for details.] [^In this Ayah, Adh-Dhikr is explained by the scholars with the same meaning as Al-Lawl Al-Mahfuz, the Preserved tablet upon which all of the divine decree has been recorded. See the previous reference.]

Then Allah says: “And We have also revealed the Dhikr to you”, meaning the Qur’an, “so that you may clearly explain to men what was revealed to them” meaning, sent down from their Lord, because you know the meaning of what Allah has revealed to you, and because of your understanding and adherence to it, and because We know that you are the best of creation and the leader of the Children of Adam. So that you may explain in detail what has been mentioned in brief, and explain what is not clear. “so that perhaps they may reflect.” meaning, they should examine themselves and be guided by it, so that they may attain the victory of salvation in this world and the next.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 5 Pages 450-471

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