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Tafsir Surat an-Nur, al-Mulk, al-Maun

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Category: Religion - Islam
Forum Name: Quran & Sunnah
Forum Discription: Understanding Quranic ayat and Sunnah
Printed Date: 22 December 2014 at 2:15pm

Topic: Tafsir Surat an-Nur, al-Mulk, al-Maun
Posted By: rami
Subject: Tafsir Surat an-Nur, al-Mulk, al-Maun
Date Posted: 01 April 2006 at 7:26pm
Bi ismillahir rahmanir raheem

assalamu alaikum

The following is also translated By Aisha Bewely.

From Surat an-Nur (Light)

Ayats 35-39 (Warsh)

Ayats 35-40 (Hafs)


In the tafsir, or Qur'anic commentary below, the various tafsirs are coloured coded as follows:

Ibn Juzayy: at-Tashil fi 'ulum al-Qur'an

Jalalayn: Tafsir al-Jalalayn

As-Sawi: Hashiya (gloss) on the Jalalayn

Ibn Kathir: Mukhtasar Tafsir Ibn Kathir

Al-Qurtubi: Jam' li-Ahkam al-Qur'an

Al-Burusawi: Tafsir Ruh al-Bayan

35 Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.

       The metaphor of His Light

           is that of a niche

       in which there is a lamp,

          the lamp inside a glass,

       the glass like a brilliant star,

           lit from a blessed tree, an olive,

       neither of the east nor of the west,

             its oil all but giving off light

               even if no fire touches it.

           Light upon Light.

    Allah guides to His Light whoever He wills

       and Allah makes metaphors for mankind

         and Allah has knowledge of all things.

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.

Ibn Juzayy:

Light both designates a reality - the light which the eyes perceive, and is also a metaphor for the meanings which are perceived by the hearts. "Nothing is like Allah." So the interpretation of the ayat is that Allah possesses the light of the heavens and the earth, and He has described Himself as being Light as you say, "Zayd is generosity" when you want to stress the fact that he is generous. If He means the light which is perceived by the eyes, then the meaning of the "light of the heavens and the earth" is that He created the light which they contain - the sun, the moon and the stars, or He created them both and brought them into existence from non-existence. So they appear by Him as things appear by light. In this meaning, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib recited the verse as, "Allahu nawwara" (Form II) meaning He put light in them.

If by light He means the light which is perceived by the hearts, the meaning of the light of the heavens and the earth is that He placed the light in the hearts of the people of the heavens and the earth. This is why Ibn 'Abbas said, "The meaning is the Guide of the people of the heavens and the earth."


In a metaphorical senses, the Arabs say that "the words have light" and "an illuminating (lit. light-giving) Book." It is permissible to say that Allah is Light in order to praise Him because He brought things into existence, and He began and originated the light of all things, but He is not one the physical lights that can be perceived by the senses. Nonetheless, the Prophet was asked, "Have you seen your Lord?" and he said, "I saw him as a Light."

As for it being guidance, Ubayy ibn Ka'b and others said, "He adorned the heavens and the earth with the sun, the moon, and the stars, and He adorned the earth with the Prophets, scholars and believers."

Ibn Kathir:

Anas ibn Malik said that Allah says, "My light is guidance." Ubayy ibn Ka'b said that it refers to the believer in whose breast Allah has put belief and the Qur'an.


Allah illuminates it by the sun and the moon.

[as-Sawi: Know that the reality of light, whether it is perceived by the eye or visible things are perceived by means of it, resembles the quality which emanates from the two light sources onto dense objects. This meaning cannot be applied to Allah. It is also said that the ayat means that Allah is the Creator of the light in the heavens by the sun, moon, stars, the Throne and the angels, and in the earth by lamps, lights, candles. Prophets, scholars and the righteous. This means that He illuminates them. It is said that it means that He manifests the heavens and the earth because the term "light" implies manifestation. In such a meaning, it can be applied to Allah Almighty, since He makes things appear in existence out of non-existence.Ibn 'Ata' says in the Hikam, "Phenomenal being is utter and total darkness. It is only the manifestation of the Real in it that gives it light." So the universe exists because Allah grants it existence. If it were not that Allah existed, none of the universe would have existed."]

The metaphor of His Light is that of a niche in which there is a lamp,

Ibn Juzayy:

The niche is an opening in a wall which is not a window, and the lamp in it gives off a strong light. It is said that the niche is the post on which the lamp sits. The first is sounder and more well-known. The meaning is that the attribute of the light of Allah in its clarity is like that of the niche in which there is a lamp since it is the greatest of what the mortal can conceive of light and illumination. It is likened to the niche, even though the light of Allah is greater still because that is the limit of what people can perceive of lights. He made the example for them according to what they can perceive.

It is said that the pronoun in "His light" refers to Sayyiduna Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and it is said to refer to the Qur'an, and to the believer. These statements are weak because nothing precedes to which the pronoun could be referred. If it is asked: How can it be valid that Allah be called 'the Light of the heavens and the earth' while He reports that He is Light and then He ascribes light to Himself in His words, "the metaphor of His light" thus making the related the same as the one related to? The answer is that that is valid with the interpretation which we already mentioned about Allah being the Possessor of the light of the heavens and the earth, or as you say, "Zayd is generosity," and then you say that people are refreshed by His generosity.


He means the quality of His proofs which He casts into the heart of the believer, and these proofs are called "light". Allah calls His Book a light when He says, "We sent down a clear Light to you," (4:174) He also called His Prophet light where He says, "A Light has come to you from Allah and a clear Book." (5:15) This is because the Book guides and makes clear, as does the Messenger. One reason that it is related to Allah is because He makes the proof firm and clarifies it.

There is another possible meaning for this ayat which is that the second sentence resembles the first if light is taken to mean guidance and the perfection of the brilliant evidence and proofs of Allah in His creation.

The pronoun in "his light" can also refer to the believer.


"The metaphor of His light" means the quality of light in the heart of the believer.

the lamp inside a glass,

The lamp is the wick with its fire. The meaning is that it is in lamp made of glass because the light in it is more radiant because it is a transparent body.

Ruh al-Bayan: The purpose of the lamp in the glass and the glass in the niche is that when the place is more constricted, the light is more intense. If the place where the lamp is placed is an open area, then the light disperses.

the glass as though it were a dazzling star

Ibn Juzayy:

The metaphor of the glass in giving light is like a dazzling star. That can have two meanings. Either He means that it gives light because of the lamp which is in it, or He means that it in itself is strong in light because of its purity and the fineness of its body. This is more eloquent because it joins its light to the light of the lamp.

By "dazzling star," He means one of the luminous bodies like Jupiter, Venus, Suhayl and the like. It is said that He means Venus, but there is no indication of this specification. Nafi' reads it as durriyyun. That reading has can mean that the star is ascribed to durr (pearls) by its whiteness and purity. It is also read with hamza which is derived from dar', meaning being pushed [i.e. stars that are pushed from one place to another].


Ka'b al-Ahbar makes the entire ayat refer to Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, i.e. the metaphor of the light of Muhammad. The Messenger of Allah is the niche, the lamp is prophethood, the glass is his heart, the blessed tree is the revelation and the angels who brought it, the oil are the proofs and evidence which contain the revelation. If it is taken to mean the believer, as Ubayy says, then the niche is his chest, the lamp is belief and knowledge, the glass is his heart, and the oil are the proofs and evidence it contains.


"Dazzling" means that it drives away the darkness. The word is derived from "pearls" because of its purity.

lit from a blessed tree, an olive,

Ibn Juzayy:

It is read as yuqadu and tawaqqada in the past tense. The verb refers to the lamp. If it is read as tuqdau in the present tense, then it refers to the glass. It means that it is kindled from the oil of a blessed tree. It is described as "blessed" because of the great number of its benefits or because it grows in a blessed land, which is Syria.


This can also be taken to refer to the Prophets, in which case Adam would be the blessed tree, or Ibrahim because Allah called him "blessed".

neither of the east nor of the west,

Ibn Juzayy:

It is said that it means it in Syria, so it is neither of the east of the land nor the west. The best olives are the olives of Syria. It is said that it is exposed and the sun strikes it all day, so it is not purely of the east so as to be called eastern, nor of the west so as to be called western. Rather it is eastern-western because the sun revolves around it from the east to the west. It is said that it is a central tall tree which is neither to the direction of the east of the tree nor the direction of the west. It is is said that it is from a tree of the Garden which, had it been in this world, would have eastern or western.

its oil all but giving off light even if no fire touches it.

To stress the description of its purity and excellence.

Ibn Kathir:

Ibn 'Abbas went to Ka'b al-Ahbar and said, "Tell me about His words, 'its oil all but giving off light even if no fire touches it.'" He said, "Muhammad almost makes things clear to people without even saying that he is a Prophet, even as the oil almost shines."

Or the proofs of the Qur'an almost make things clear before they are recited.

Light upon light

Ibn Juzayy:

i.e. joining the light of the lamp, the excellence of the glass and the excellence of the oil. By that He means the perfection of the light used as the example.

Ibn Kathir:

Ibn 'Abbas says that it means the belief and actions of the slave of Allah. Ubayy ibn Ka'b said, "The believer is transformed into five lights: his words are light, his actions are light, his going in is light, his going out is light, and he will go to light on Day of Rising to the Garden."

It is also said that "light upon light" is the light of the Quran and the light of belief when they are joined together.


The light itself with the light of the fire. Allah's guidance of the believers is light on top of the light of faith.

[As-Sawi: The proofs of Allah in the heart of the believer are proof on top of proof. If you were to ask why did He use the light of olive oil as a metaphor here and not the light of the sun,the moon, and cangles, the answer is that oil contains many uses and is easy for everyone. In the same way the perfect believer finds many uses in faith. There is some disagreement about whether this metaphor is a compound one, including what is mentioned at the beginning of the ayat and thus describes guidance, or whether it is one in which each image corresponds to something, e.g. the believer is the niche, the glass his heart, his knowledge the oil, and his faith the lamp.]

Ruh al-Bayan: al-Qushayri says that they obtain one light by their effort and investigation and reflection while they find the other light by Allah's grace in this words and actions. Allah says, "As for those who do jihad in Our Way. We will guide them to Our Paths." (29:69)


Allah guides to His Light whoever He wills

i.e. Allah gives success to whomever He will in finding the truth, i.e. Islam.

Ibn Kathir:

It has come in hadith, "Allah Almighty created creation in darkness and then on that day He cast to them some of His light. Whoever got some of His light on that day is guided, and whoever missed is misguided." So it is said that He knows the one who deserves to be guided from the one who deserves misguidance.

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah said, "There are four kinds of hearts: a divested heart which is like the lamp and shines; a covered heart which is tied up in its covering; an inverted heart, and a doubled heart. The divested heart is the heart of the believer which is his lamp in which is his light. The covered heart is the heart of the unbeliever. The inverted heart is the heart of the hypocrite who recognised and then denied. The doubled heart is the heart which contains both belief and hypocrisy. The likeness of belief in it is like the plant which good water extends, and the example of hypocrisy in it is like the wound which is spread by blood and pus. It is dominated by whichever of them is dominant."

Ruh al-Bayan: the source of control and direction of guidance is divine will, even though other causes appear to be involved.

and Allah makes metaphors for mankind


He makes things clear for them so that they reflect and believe.

[as-Sawi: Thus no doubt will affect the believer. He will see with insight as he sees with his actual eyes. Allah makes both bear witness. In hadith, "Fear the perspicacity of the believer. He sees by the light of Allah."

36 In houses which Allah has permitted to be built

       and in which His name is remembered,

    there are men who proclaim His glory

       morning and evening,

   not distracted by trade or commerce

       from the remembrance of Allah

         and the establishment of salat

            and the payment of zakat;

       fearing a day when all hearts and eyes will be in turmoil

In houses which Allah has permitted to be built

Ibn Juzayy:

i.e. mosques. It is said to mean the houses of the people of belief - mosques or dwellings. The first is sounder. The genitive is connected to what is before it: i.e. like a niche in houses, or kindled in houses. It is said that it is what is counted, and is glorification (tasbih). The genitive is repeated after that for stress. It is said that it is by an elision, i.e. they glorify in houses which Allah has permitted to be raised up. What is meant by idhn (permission) is the command. Its structure makes it nominative. It is said it is to esteem them.


Five things are said about "houses". The first is that they are the mosques dedicated to the worship of Allah and that they give light to the people of heaven as the stars give light to the people of the earth. Ibn 'Abbas, Mujahid and al-Hasan said that. The second is that they are the houses of Jerusalem, and al-Hasan stated that. The third is that they are the houses of the Prophet, and Mujahid said that. The fourth is that they are all houses, and 'Ikrima stated that. The first statement is strengthened by that fact that He says, "they proclaim his glory morning and evening." The fifth is that they are four mosques which were built by Prophets: the Ka'ba, Jericho, the mosque of Madina, and the mosque of Quba'.

Anas ibn Malik related from the Messenger of Allah said, "Whoever Allah loves should love me. Whoever loves me should love my Companions. Whoever loves my Companions should love the Qur'an. Whoever loves the Qur'an should love the mosques, for they are the courtyards of Allah which were built with the permission of Allah that they be raised up and He has blessed them what is in them. Its people are are blessed, and its people are protected while they are in their prayers. Allah is seeing to their needs while they are in their mosques and Allah is before them."

As-Sawi: Physical esteem for the mosques is to purify them of filth and impurities. Al-Qurtubi mentioned that some people dislike teaching children in the mosques because they are not careful about dirt and impurity and that would lead to the mosques not being clean The Prophet commanded that they be clean. He said, "Keep away from the mosques your small children, mad people, unsheathing swords in them, carrying out the hadd-punishments, raising voices and quarrelling. Burn incense in all and put wash-rooms at their doors." Spiritual respect involves no playing or games, or worldly talk and the like.

and in which His name is remembered,

    there are men who proclaim His glory


"Glorification" means the prayer as it contains glorification.

It is related from Abu Umama that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Whoever leaves his house in a state of purity for a prescribed prayer has the reward of the hajji in his ihram." Burayda said that the Prophet said, "Give the good news to those who walk in the darkness to the mosques of complete light on the Day of Rising." Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet said, "If anyone goes to the mosque in the morning or the evening, Allah will prepare for him hospitality in the Garden."

Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab was asked, "Which do you prefer, attending the funeral or sitting in the mosque?" He replied, "Whoever prays the funeral prayer has one qirat. Whoever is present at the burial has two qirats. I prefer sitting in the mosque because the angels say, 'O Allah, forgive him! O Allah, show mercy to him! O Allah! turn to him!'"

Al-Hakim ibn 'Umayr reported that the Prophet , may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Be like guests in this world and take the mosques as houses. Make your hearts accustomed to gentleness. Reflect often and weep often. Do not allow passions to make you disagree, You are building that in which you will not live, and gathering that which you will not consume and hoping for that which you will not obtain." Abu'd-Darda' said to his son,"Let the mosque be your house for I heard the Messenger of Allah say, 'The mosques are the houses of those who fear of Allah.'"

It is related that the Prophet said, "At the end of time will be men who come to the mosques and sit in circles discussing this world and its love. Do not sit with them. Allah has no need of them." Ibn al-Musayyab said, "Whoever sits in the mosque, sits with his Lord, so he must only seek what is good."

"Men" are mentioned because they have to attend the group prayers and Jumu'a.

morning and evening

i.e. morning and evening. It is said that He means Subh and 'Asr, and it is said the prayers of Duha and 'Asr.

[NOTE: Ayat numbering differs from the point in Warsh and Hafs.]

not distracted by trade or commerce

   from the remembrance of Allah

Ibn Juzayy:

i.e. it does not distract them. The ayat was sent down about the people of the markets who, when they heard the call to prayer, would leave off all business and set out to it. Bay' is part of commerce, but it was singled out to be mentioned alone like His words, "fruits" for palm-trees and pomegranates. By commerce he means buying.

as-Sawi: "remembrance of Allah" means its duties like the prayer or other things.

and the establishment of salat

            and the payment of zakat;


Ibn 'Abbas said that "zakat" here means obeying of Allah and sincerity since not every believer has wealth.

as-Sawi: He means performing the prayer at its times with all its preconditions and essential elements.

fearing a day when all hearts and eyes will be in turmoil

Ibn Juzayy:

i.e. agitated due to the intensity of terror and fear. It is said that the hearts will understand and the eyes will see after haveing been blind because the realities will be unveiled at that time. The first is sound by His words, "When your eyes rolled and your hearts rose to your throats." (33:10)


That is the Day of Rising. The hearts will be physically in the throats due to intense terror, and blind eyes made to see. It is said that the hearts will be moving between desire for salvation and fear of destruction, and the eyes will be looking about to see from which side they will receive their books which contain the record of their actions. It is said that the doubts will be removed as Allah says, "We have stripped you of your covering and today your sight is sharp." (50:22)

It is said that they will be turned over on the coals in Jahannam as it says, "On the day when their faces are rolled over (tuqallibu) in the Fire." (33:66)

as-Sawi: Even though those men do a lot of dhikr and pious actions, they still fear Allah Almighty because they know that they have not worshipped him as he should be worshipped. On the Day of Rising, they will be in absolute, not knowing where to turn.

Ruh al-Bayan: This continues the description of the men mentioned in the ayat. Fear is the opposite of security. Taqallub is to change from one state to another. Qalb (heart) is derived from this verb, because of the changeability of the heart.. Basar is used for the the eye itself and the faculty of sight. When the heart is agitated and distressed like this, it feels like it is rising to the throat. People are like this because they do not know where they will be saved or destroyed.

37 so that Allah can reward them for the best of what they did

      and give them more from His unbounded favour.

  Allah provides for anyone He wills without reckoning.

so that Allah can reward them for the best of what they did 

"Rewar" is connected to what is before it, or to a verb in the meaning of what is before it. "The best of what they did" implies the repayment of the best of what they were doing.

as-Sawi: He will repay them for their good actions, but will not be paid back for their ugly deeds.

and give them more from His unbounded favour.

i.e. increase beyond the reward they deserve for their actions, one good action being counted ten or more.

as-Sawi: His giving is not confined to repaying their actions, but He gives them things which had never occurred to their minds.

  Allah provides for anyone He wills without reckoning.


i.e. without reckoning what He gives since there is no limit to His giving.

as-Sawi: This is a promise that He will give to them beyond the wages for their actions. This alludes to the fact that Allah will give them "what the eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and what has not occurred to the heart of man."

Ruh al-Bayan: Many of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, said that this ayat was revealed about the people of the markets who, went they heard the call to prayer, left their work and went to the prayer. It was not revealed about the Ahl as-Suffa and those like them who had abandoned trade and clung to the mosques.

This ayat does not forbid work and trade or dislike it, but it forbids being distracted by it so that one forgets the prayers and other acts of worship.

If it is asked why men are mentioned here and not women, the answer is that the Jumu'a prayer and group prayers in the mosques are not obligatory for women.

38 But the actions of those who are kafir

       are like a mirage in the desert.

   A thirsty man thinks it is water

       but when he reaches it,

           he finds it to be nothing at all,

       but he finds Allah there.

   He will pay him his account in full.

      Allah is swift at reckoning.

But the actions of those who are kafir

       are like a mirage in the desert.

Ibn Juzayy:

After Allah mentioned the state of the believers, He followed that with two examples of the actions of the unbelievers. The first necessitates that their actions in the Next World they will not benefit them. Indeed, their reward will vanish like the mirage vanishes. The second refers the state of their actions in this world where they are in extreme of corruption and misguidance, like darknesses one on top of another. Here the mirage is what is seen in the deserts from the light of the sun in the heat so that it seems as if it were flowing over the land. Qi'a is the plural of q', which is land which is stretched out, and it is said that it means qa' and is not plural.

Ruh al-Bayan: He mentions their good actions like freeing slaves, giving to relatives, giving water to pilgrims and those in distress: these actions will vanish like the mirage.

A thirsty man thinks it is water

Zam'an means thirsty, i.e. the thirsty man supposes that the mirage is water and so he comes to bring it. When he comes to it, his hopes are dashed and what he thought proves false. It is like that with the unbelievers who think that their actions will benefit them. On the Day of Rising they will not benefit them. They are like the mirage which fades away.

  but when he reaches it,

           he finds it to be nothing at all,

The pronoun of the subject refers to the thirsty man and the pronoun of the object to the mirage, or the pronoun of the subject to the unbeliever and the pronoun of the object to his action.

(he finds it to be nothing) i.e. nothing to help him because it is non-existent. It is possible that the pronoun of the subject refers to the thirsty man and the pronoun of the object to the mirage, or the pronoun of the subject to the unbeliever and the pronoun of the object to his action.


Allah makes this a metaphor for the rejectors who rely on their actions, and when they come to Allah, they find the reward of their actions is nothing because of their disbelief.

as-Sawi: just as the thirsty man is desperately disappointed when he find that there is no water, so the unbeliever will be full of regret when he does not find the reward he expected on the Day of Rising, but rather finds a painful punishment.

  but he finds Allah there.

The pronoun in "he finds" refers to the unbeliever and the pronoun in "'indahu" to his action. The meaning is that He finds Allah there with the repayment, or he finds the Zabaniyya of Allah.


"He finds Allah there" means that he finds Allah's promise to repay him for his actions. It is said that that he finds the command of Allah when he is gathered, and this is close to the other meaning.

Ruh al-Bayan: He finds Allah's judgement and Decree.

39 Or they are like the darkness of a fathomless sea

      which is covered by waves

          above which are waves

             above which are clouds,

         layers of darkness,

            one upon the other.

    If he puts out his hand,

       he can scarcely see it.

    Those Allah gives no light to,

      they have no light.

Or they are like the darkness

Ibn Juzayy:

This is the second metaphor. It is joined to His words, "like a mirage." The actions of the unbeliever are likened to darkness, i.e. they are part of misguidance and confusion in the darkness gathered together in the sea under a wave under the cloud.


Al-Jurjani said that the first ayat is about the actions of rejectors, and the second is about their disbelief.


This ayat is about their evil deeds.

As-Sawi: The first ayat about the mirage refers to their righteous actions and this ayat refers to their evil actions.

of a fathomless sea

   which is covered by waves

    above which are waves

     above which are clouds,

   layers of darkness,

    one upon the other.

Ibn Juzayy:

Related to lujj, which is an immense expanse of water. Some of them believe that the parts of this example refer the parts of that to which it is likened, so the darkness are the actions of the unbeliever, the sea is his breast and the wave is his ignorance and the cloud is the covering which is over his heart. Some of them believe that it a simple example which these qualities do not correspond to the description of the clouds for stress, as He described light before this for emphasis.


Lujja is that whose bottom cannot be reached, and it is an immense body of water. The verb is used for a sea when its waves crash together. It also conveys a sense of turmoil and confused noise.

There is a wave above that great sea, and another wave above that wave, and above this second wave is a cloud, and so there is combined fear of the wave, fear of the wind and fear of the cloud. It is said to be wave on top of wave, or wave after wave. There is fear because the stars are blotted out and there is no guidance, and there is fear because of the wind is moving everything.

There is the darkness of the cloud, the darkness of the wave, the darkness of the night and the darkness of the sea, so that one cannot see a thing.

It is said that what is meant by these darknesses are the actions of the unbeliever, and the bottomless sea is his heart. The wave over wave which covers his heart is ignorance, doubt and confusion. The cloud is dust and the seal on his heart.

Ubayy ibn Ka'b said, "The unbeliever is transformed into five darknesses: his words are darkness, his actions are darkness, his going in is darkness, his going out is darkness, and he will go to darkness on Day of Rising to the Fire, an evil end."

If he puts out his hand,

       he can scarcely see it.

Ibn Juzayy:

The meaning is to stess the intensity of the darkness. The pronoun "he" and what follows it refers to the man who falls into the darkness described. They disagree about the interpretation of the words. It is said that the meaning is: when he puts out his hand, he can not see it. So He negated seeing and its approximation. It is said that he sees it after great difficulty because "he can scarcely" negates the positive. If it is positive, it demands the negation. Ibn 'Atiyya said: that is when the letter of negation enters the verb after it.

Those Allah gives no light to,

      they have no light.

Ibn Juzayy:

i.e. the one whom Allah does not guide is not guided. Light is an allusion to guidance and belief in this world. It is said that He means in the Next World, i.e. the one to whom Allah shows no mercy has no mercy. The first is more in keeping with what preceded it.


Ibn 'Abbas said, "The one for whom Allah does give a deen has no deen, and the one for whom Allah does not make a light by which he will walk on the Day of Rising will not be guided to the Garden." As He says, "He will grant you a light by which to walk" (57:28). Az-Zajjaj said that that is in this world, so that one whom Allah does not guide is not guided.

Anas said that the Prophet said, "Allah created me from light and He created Abu Bakr from my light, and He created 'Umar and 'A'isha from the light of Abu Bakr, and He created the male believers of my community from the light of 'Umar and He created the female believers of my community from the light of 'A'isha, Whoever does not live me or love Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'A'isha has no light."

As-Sawi: one can infer from this that light is not by strength nor power, but it is a blessing which Allah grants to whomever He wishes. It means that whoever Allah does not appoint a deen for and faith has no deen. -

Rasul Allah (sallah llahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord" and whoever knows his Lord has been given His gnosis and nearness.

Posted By: rami
Date Posted: 01 April 2006 at 7:27pm
Bi ismillahir rahmanir raheem

67. Surat al-Mulk (The Kingdom)


The tafsir of this sura is a compilation derived from the sources mentioned in Surat at-Tawba and Surat an-Nur, as well as a few additions.

This is a Makkan sura which was sent down after at-Tur (52) and before al-Haqqa ( 69). It has various names. As well being called al-Mulk, it is also called al-Waqiya (the Protector), al-Munjiyya (the Rescuer), and al-Mni'a (the Defender) because it protects the one who knows it and rescues him from the punishment and defends him during the Rising. It is also called al-Mujadila (the Arguer) because it argues on behalf of the one who knows it when he is the grave. Numerous hadiths have mentioned its excellence.

It is related in a hadith from Jabir that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to recite this sura every night when he went to bed and he said, "It rescues people from the punishment of the grave."

The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "There is a sura of the Book which only has thirty ayats which will intercede for a man on the Day of Rising and will bring him out of the Fire and make him enter the Garden. It is Surat Tabarak (meaning al-Mulk)."

Ibn 'Abbas said, "One of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah pitched his tent on a grave without knowing that it was a grave, and it contained a man who was reciting 'Blessed is He who has the Kingdom in His hand.' He went and told the Prophet who said, 'It is the defender. It is the protector which is protecting him from Allah's punishment.' The Messenger of Allah further said, "I wish that 'Tabarak' could be in the heart of every believer."

It is related that if someone recites it every night, he will not be harmed by the tempter (fattn). "Fattn" is used for various things. It means Shaytans who tempts people and makes disobeying Allah attractive. It is used for the dirham and the dinar, meaning money, which tempts people. It is used for the angels Munkar and Nakir who question the dead in the graves. It is also used for a highwayman who attacks travellers on the road.

1 Blessed be He who has the Kingdom in His Hand!

     He has power over all things.

"Blessed" (tabaraka) is a verbal form derived from a word meaning blessing (baraka). It is said that it means something which is exalted, holy or lasting. Allah is the Lasting (d'im) whose existence has no beginning and whose everlastingness has no end. This expression, "tabaraka" is particular to Allah Almighty and it is not used in the present tense, but only in the past. Allah is exalted above all the attributes of creatures who are located in time and exalted above all else in His Essence, Attributes and Actions. As He says, "There is nothing like Him." Some commentators say that this means that He is beyond annihilation or alteration. The form "tabaraka" indicates His perfection and immensity. Another example of this verb form which is only used for Allah is ta'ala, "Exalted is..."

We can look at the root of this verb and its meaning in two ways. There is the root burk which means continuance or remaining. It is used to refer to birds remaining at water, to someone being firm and ready for fighting, and to someone who does not move where he is. This quality of being permanent reflects Allah's everlastingness. The other root is blessing or baraka. It is a blessing, either physical or spiritual, which continues, increases and abounds. So there is blessing which abides and ever increases. So Allah is abundant in good and exceeds everything in His continual goodness . As He says elsewhere: "All favour is in the Hand of Allah. He gives it to anyone He wills. Allah 's favour is indeed immense." (57:28)

"He who has the Kigndom in His hand" means the sovereignty or kingdom of the heavens and the earth, this world and the Next. It is said that it means the King of kings in this world, as you say, "the master of the kingdom." The first is more general and encompassing. He abases or exalts whomever He wills, He gives life and makes die, enriches and makes poor, gives and withholds. It is also said by some that He has the dominion of prophethood by which He exalts those who follow it and abases those who oppose it. He has the control of affairs. As He says elsewhere: "They do not measure Allah with His true measure. The whole earth will be a mere handful for Him on the Day of Rising, the heavens folded up in His right hand." (39:64)

In Arabic "hand" (yad) designates authority and power. Allah has the power to bless and take revenge. Commentators say that yad refers to Allah's power (qudra) which is His attribute without interpretation or qualification. His power is beyond description or limitation. In this context, Abu Hurayra reported in a sound hadith that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah's hand is full, undiminished by any expenditure since He created the heaven and the earth, for what His hand holds has not decreased. His Throne was upon the water, and in His hand the scale which He lowers and raises."

Mulk means sovereignty, kingship, dominion, and it is means ownership. It usually refers to this world, the physical world of bodies, whereas Malakut refers to the dominion of the unseen as He says, "Glory be to Him who has the Dominion (malakt) of all things in His Hand." (36:83)

"He has power over all things" defines His power - it extends to all things without limit. It reinforces the first sentence.

2 He who created death and life

      to test which of you is best in action.

  He is the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving.

Then Allah begins to go into the details of some aspects of His power and dominion over His subjects. "He who created death and life" can be taken to refer to the death and life of creatures. It is also said that it refers to the death of this world because its people will die while the life of the Next World will endure, as Allah says, "The Abode of the Next World is the Living." Death is lifelessness.

Allah begins by detailing some of the judgements of the kingdom and the consequences of power. Death and life are also part of His creation. There is an indication of the disparity between His everlastingness and creature's in-timeness. The use of "tabaraka" in the previous ayat indicates Allah's abiding and everlasting life whereas here He says, "He created life" which is the life of the creatures, which is temporal and dependent on Him. His life is not subject to end. The life and death of creatures is an event located in time.

Death is mentioned before life because death is older. In their beginnings things were under the jurisdiction of death, as sperm or the earth is initially lifeless. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah Almighty abased the sons of Adam by death and made this world an abode of life and then an abode of death. He made the Next World an abode of repayment and then an abode of abiding."

Abu'-d-Darda' said, "If it had not been for three things, the sons of Adam would not have bowed their heads: poverty, illness and death. But in spite of that, he leaps up." Or it can refer to death in this world and eternal life in the Next.

It is also said that death precedes life because the strongest of people in seeking action is the one who keeps death before his eyes. He concentrates on immediate action because he knows that the domain of action will soon end and the Reckoning will take place. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet said, "Remember the cutter-off of delights, death." He also said, "In the evening do not expect to see the evening, and morning do not expect to se the evening, but take something when in health to serve you in time of illness and something in your life to serve you in your death."

Scholars state that the definition of death is not pure non-existence nor the obliteration of action. Death is the severance of the connection of the spirit to the body and a transference from one abode to another abode. So death is not the final end, but a transformation. The means of death is the Angel of Death. But in reality, it is Allah who makes die.

"To test which of you" means test you while you are alive. Allah's testing of His slaves is done in order to establish the proof against them by their own actions, although Allah knows beforehand what they will do. The meaning of the ayat is: "He will try you in order to repay you for what you do". A person is tested by the death of those who are dear to him to see whether he will be steadfast and by life to see whether he will be thankful for Allah's blessings. He says elsewhere: "We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits. But give good news to the steadfast: the people who, when disaster strikes them, say, 'We belong to Allah and to Him we will return.' They are the people who will have blessings and mercy from their Lord. They are the ones who are the guided." (2:155-157)

He also tests your resolve, as He says elsewhere: "We will test you until We know the true fighters among you and those who are steadfast and test what is reported of you." (47:31)

It is said that He created death for resurrection and repayment, and life for testing. The noun from which "test" is derived is "balwa" which is a test or a trial with either something good or evil or ascertain what the quality of the thing tested. Allah knows what is inside His slaves, but this testing brings it out into the open so that there can be no argument about it.

"Which of you is best in action." It is related that the Messenger of Allah recited it and said, "It refers to which of you is the best in action, strongest in fear of Allah, most scrupulous about the forbidden things of Allah and swiftest in obeying Allah."

The use of the Divine Names, the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving reflects the two results - might used against those who reject and forgiveness towards those who believe.

3 He who created the seven heavens in layers.

     You will not find any flaw

         in the creation of the All-Merciful.

  Look again do you see any gaps?

Allah continues to mention aspects of His power and the creation in which life and death are found. He mentions "the seven heavens in layers" or in strata, meaning on top of one another. The word "tibaq" is a verbal noun which describes the heavens, or it is related to something elided, implying: "with levers." It is said to be the plural of tabaqa. The Throne lies beyond them. Traditionally this is said to refer to the seven heavens of the Greeks, but could equally apply to the layers of the atmosphere. The verb reflects covering, and can be used for clouds covering the sky and rain covering the earth, It also has to do with things being adjacent and touching.

"You will not find any flaw in the creation of the All-Merciful" means any lack of proportion or any weakness. The meaning is that He created the heavens in the limit of perfection. It is said that He means the creation of all created things. There is no doubt that all creatures are perfect, but the ayat is particular to the creation of the heavens which is more evident since it comes after His words, "He created the seven heavens in layers." So it is clear that His words, "You will not find any flaw in the creation of the Merciful" clarifies and completes what is before it. It means that nothing is neglected or beyond His reach. It is said that this means something about which a person could say, "If it were thus, it would have been better." You cannot improve upon creation. Nothing in it is discordant. "Do you see?" and "Look again" is addressed to the Prophet, or to everyone who is addressed to take note.

"Look again - do you see any gaps?" Discordance is gaps, and it is the plural of fatr, which is a split. "Look again" is literally "return the look". The meaning of the ayat is to look at that heaven. No gaps or rifts will be seen in it. "Gaps" is futr, the plural of fatr. It is level and connected. Now that you have this information, then look again. It also infers to reflect after you have looked and investigated.

4     Then look again and again.

   Your sight will return to you

       dazzled and exhausted!

"Then look again and again" means investigate after looking so as to confirm and realise the consequences of what you see. Az-Zamakhshari said that the doubling means to do it a lot, not just twice, as they say, "Labbayk" which is answering a lot. The words used is basar which means both the eye and the faculty of seeing and understanding what is seen.

"Your sight will return to you dazzled and exhausted." "Dazzled" means to be far from the thing which is sought. It is used of a dog which is driven off in contempt. It is also used of the Jews who violated the Sabbath and were transformed into apes: "When they were insolent concerning what they had been forbidden to do, We said to them, 'Be apes, despised, cast out!'" (7:166)

"Exhausted" refers to a weary person who is overcome by exhaustion. The meaning of the ayat is that if you look at the heaven time after time to seek out gaps in it or imperfection, your glance will return not having seen any of that, and so it will be worn out because it has not obtained what you sought of locating gaps and imperfections. In addition, it will be tired from looking often and reflecting often. It carries a sense of grief because of having missed something. An animal is in this state when it becomes so tired that it cannot go on and so it must be left behind. But the Prophet said, "Supplicate to Allah and do not become weary." It implies smallness and abasement and regret as hasra means grief or regret for the loss of something.

5 We have adorned the lowest heaven with lamps

       and made some of them stones for the shaytans

  for whom We have prepared the punishment of the Blaze.

Allah goes on to describe the heaven which we see, which is the lowest heaven. "We have beautified the lowest heaven with lamps." The lowest heaven is the nearest one to us. The lamps which adorn it are the stars. If all the stars are in the lowest heaven, there is no confusion. If there are in other heavens, then the lowest heaven is adorned because they are manifest to us in it. no matter how far they are away. It is possible that it means adorning the lowest heaven with the stars which are above it in other heavens according to the statement based on the position of the stars, and in whichever heaven which is not refuted in the Shari'a. The stars are called "lamps" because they give off light and are beautiful..

"We made some of them stones for the shaytans" means: We made some of the stars stones because the fixed stars are not used to stone the Shaytans. It is like your words, "I honoured the Banu so-and-so" when you honoured some of them.

Rujm is the plural of rajm, which is a verbal noun naming that which is used for stoning. Az-Zamakhshari said that it means the stars which are used to stone of shaytans, and the meteors fall from the stars to stone the shaytans who try to eavesdrop to the heaven, as mentioned in 37:10. Stoning meteors are separate from the fire of the stars because the stones are the stars themselves because they are fixed in the heavens. Qatada said that Allah created the stars for three reasons: to adorn the heaven, to stone the shaytans and to guide people in the darkness of the land and sea.

"For whom We have prepared the punishment of the Blaze" meaning for the shaytans. This is when the unbelievers are thrown into it. "Blaze" (Sa'ir) is a blazing fire which burns. It is used for fire itself and for a fire which is made to burn by other fire. The root of this word is which means madness, demonical possession, affliction, and punishment. We see this elsewhere in the Qur'an: "The evildoers are indeed misguided and insane (su'r ) on the Day that they are dragged face-first into the Fire: 'Taste the scorching touch of Saqar!'" (54:47-48) Some commentators say that this can be mean: "misguided and in punishment." Another word from the same root, su'r, means heat and evil or mischief. The Fire that will burn them is thus a result of their own evil, which is a kind of madness.

6 Those who reject their Lord will have

      the punishment of Hell.

        What an evil destination!

Jahannam is the Fire of Hell. Some people say that this comes from Jahinnm which is a deep well; anyone who falls into it perishes. This indicates that the People of the Fire are far from the beauty of Allah Almighty and the bliss of the Garden, burning in the fire of separation and distance from Allah. It is also ascribed to the root jahuma, which signifies frowning and grinning sternly.

Here Allah refers to those "who reject their Lord". It is a deeper existential rejection than simply rejecting the idea of a deity. Everyone has a Lord to whom he owes his allegiance and whom he obeys.

"What an evil destinatiion!" It is an evil masr. The root means to reach a state or condition, or to attain to a place, as Allah says, "The final destination is to Allah." (3:37) This is the final state where people find themselves. So it could also be read as "What an evil final state of being!" They will remain in this condition forever.

7 When they are flung into it

       they will hear it gasping harshly as it seethes.

They are flung into it as wood is thrown into a fire either because it is so hot that they do not want to get near it or because Jahannam is so deep. "They will hear it gasping." Shahq is the ugliest possible noise which a donkey makes. Here it means what is heard of the sound of Jahannam due to the intensity of its boiling and terror, or the sighing of its people. Shahq is used of the people in the Fire, who "sigh and moan" (11:106). Shahq is the sound made in the breast and zafir is made in the throat.

"When it seethes" means its boils with its people as the cauldron boils fiercely with its contents when there is a little grain in a lot of water.

8 It all but bursts with rage.

     Each time a group is flung into it

         its custodians will question them:

     'Did no warner come to you?'

"It all but bursts apart out of its rage" meaning Jahannam nearly splits part due to the intensity of its rage against the unbelievers. It is possible that it is rage itself. It is possible that it means the rage of the Zabaniyya, the custodians of the Fire (as mentioned as the Guards of Hell in 96:18). The first is more evident because the state of the Zabaniyya is mentioned after this. The rage of the fire can be real since Allah will create that rage for it, or it metaphorically designates its intensity. "Rage" (ghayth) means either a more intensive form of anger (ghadab) or it is latent because the person feeling the anger does not have the power to exercise it. It conveys a sense of heat.

"Each time a group is flung into it" meaning whenever a group of unbelievers is flung into Jahannam, the Zabaniyya will ask, "Did no warner come to you?" meaning any Messenger. This question is a form of rebuke and establishing the proof against them. They will admit that and said, "Indeed a warner did come to us." His word, "Whenever" demands that it be said to each group when it is cast into the Fire. The custodians are Malik and his helpers, the Zabaniyya.

9 They will say, 'Yes indeed,

     a warner did come to us

          but we denied him and said,

     "Allah has sent nothing down.

        You are just greatly misguided"'

The use of qad in "he did come" stresses their confession, particularly when it follows bala (Yes indeed). The Prophet said, "I am the Warner and the death is that which undoes."They rejected the idea of a message and thought that it was nonsense. They said that there was no revelation, no Book, no Messenger. They use the plural "you" (antum) meaning that they reject all the Messengers, not just the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.

It is also possible that "You are just greatly misguided" are part of the words of the angels to the rejectors, or part of the words of the rejectors to the Messengers in this world.

10 They will say, "If only we had really listened and used our intellect,

        we would not have been Companions of the Blaze."

"They will say..." The pronoun refers to the unbelievers, i.e. if we have listened to the words of the Messengers when we were alive and understood the evidence of Allah's oneness, we would not have been among the people of the Blaze. He uses the unlikely "if" (law). This is not going to happen. They admit to their ignorance only when they are in the Fire, saying, "If only we had listened to the Messengers or understood their message."

11 Then they will acknowledge their wrong actions.

      Away with the Companions of the Blaze!

"They will acknowledge their wrong actions." This confession of theirs comes at a time when acknowledgement not help them. This is an admission based on knowledge (ma'rifa). Now they understand. Here "their wrong actions" means their denial of the Messengers.

"Away with the Companions of the Blaze!" "Away" (suhqan) is a noun in the accusative case based a hidden verb which carries the meaning of a curse on them: "May they be far from the mercy of Allah!" It means to be put far from prosperity, for a person to not be pitied for what has happened to him. The root, sahaqa, has other connotations as well: to bruise or pound; to pulverise by pounding. It is said that this is what the fierce wind does to the earth when it wears it down, and hence it also means to wear something out and destroy it. Something which is termed "sahiq" can be either remote or bruised by pounding. It is even said by some commentators to be a valley in Jahannam called as-Sahq.

12 Those who fear their Lord in the Unseen

     will have forgiveness and an immense reward.

They fear Allah and fear His punishment which they do not see. They fear their Lord, His punishment on the Day of Rising, on the day when one dies, and when they are questioned in the grave. As Allah says in Surat Qaf (50):

33 Those who fears the All-Merciful in the Unseen

      and come with a contrite heart.

34          Enter it in peace.

     This is the Day of Timeless Eternity.

35  They will have everything they want

      and with Us there is still more.

Fear has certain causes. The first of them is sound intellect which makes a person abandon acts of disobedience to Allah. It is only a weak intellect which has no fear of Allah.

Al-Hakim at-Tirmidhi speaks of fear as follows:

"Fear arises from knowledge of Allah. When the heart knows Him, it fears Him. Knowledge is obtained by opening. When Allah gives him an opening, he witnesses things with the eye of his heart and knows Him and so fears Him. When the heart clings to fear, Allah fills it with love. So by fear the heart is protected from what Allah detests, however great or small, and by love, it is cheerful and courageous in matters. If Allah were to leave the slave with fear alone, he would be constricted and unable to act in many matters. If He were to leave him with love alone, he would become presumptive and transgress because the self is aroused by the energy of love. But He - may His name be blessed! - was kind to him and made fear his inner part and love his outward so that his heart would go straight. So smiles and cheerfulness is seen in his face and business and that is due to the manifestation of love in the heart. Nevertheless, inwardly he has mountains of fear!"

Two things are said about what is meant by "in the Unseen". One is that it means they are not seen by people and thus describes their sincerity because they obey Allah where people do not see them. The second statement is that the Unseen is what is not seen by them in the affairs of the Next World It is reflected in His words, "they believe in the Unseen." They are not like the hypocrites who are described by Allah as: "When they meet those who believe, they say, 'We believe.' But then when they go aparts with their shaytans, they say, 'We are really with you. We were only mocking.'" (2:13)

Forgiveness is for their wrong actions. The "immense reward" is the Garden.

13 Whether you keep your words secret

       or say them out loud

   He knows what the heart contains.

Then Allah addresses all people. "Whether you keep your words secret or voice them out loud." The meaning is that Allah knows all. Nothing can be concealed from Him. He knows whatever good and evil is in the hearts. Jibril told the Prophet that the idolaters were saying to one another, "Conceal what you say so that the Lord of Muhammad does not hear." Then this ayat was revealed.

14 Does He who created not then know?

     He is the All-Pervading, the All-Aware.

"Does He who created not then know?" This is a proof that Allah Almighty knows everything because the Creator must necessarily know His creatures.

Various names are used to describe Allah's knowledge: He is the All-Knowing, al-'Alm, who knows things in the most complete and perfect manner; the Aware, al-Khabr, who has perfect knowledge of even the most hidden things; the Wise, al-Hakm, who knows and acts well; the Witness, ash-Shahd, who possesses knowledge of outward things; the Preserver, al-Hafz, who remembers all; and the Enumerator, al-Muhsi, who knows the quantities of things and comprehends all. The All-Pervading, al-Latif, knows the fine points of things so that He can see the small black ant on the black stone in the deepest darkness.

15 It is He who made the earth submissive to you,

       so walk its broad trails and eat what it provides.

          The Resurrection is to Him.

In "the earth subservient (dhalul)". here the form of the adjective means the passive tense, meaning made abased or subservient. This form is usually used for an animal which is manageable or tame, as He describes the cow in Surat al-Baqara (2:71) It means that the earth is easy for you to walk on and and cultivate. Its surface remains steady. So when there is an earthquake, we realise how merciful Allah is by generally keeping the earth firm and steady for us. It is neither too hot nor too cold to walk on it nor made of stone so that we slip on it and cannot cultivate nor made of quicksand so that we cannot stand on it. It is such that we can dig wells in it. The root, dhalla, also means to become subservient after having been difficult, which indicates that were it not for Allah's mercy, the earth could easily have been difficult for habitation.

Ibn 'Abbas said that "walk its trails" refers the mountains, and it is said that it refers to the slopes and it is said that it is paths. The word "trails" (manakib) is used to continue the metaphor of an animal. It literally means "shoulders" as if the earth were the back of an animal. It is related that Bashir ibn Ka'b had a slavegirl and he said to her, "If you can tell me what is meant by 'the shoulders of the earth' you are free." She replied, "Its shoulders are its mountains," and so she was free. It further shows the blessing in making it easy to walk on the earth. "Walk" is a command which indicates the permission to do so. "Eat what it provides" which was created for your sake and made lawful for you.

"The Resurrection is to Him" refers the resurrection and the return to Allah on the Day of Rising. "Nushr" refers to the rising from the graves and the return to life of the dead . It is said that it means that the One who has the power to make the earth subservient and provide provision is able to bring you back from the graves. The verb nashara also means "land becoming green with rain after having dried up, spreading out, charming away the effects of enchantment, possession or insanity, scattering a flock after they were confined in their night shelter, all reflectin the arising to a new state of existence." This quickening from death is then waking after spent a night. Allah provides another metaphor of this in 35:9:

It is Allah who sends the winds which raise the clouds

    which We then drive to a dead land

and by them bring back the earth to life after it was dead.

That is how the Rusurrection will be.

The sojourn in the graves is clearly short in relation to eternity. We also recall this in the supplication we make when we wake up from sleep, "Praise be to Allah who brought us to life after death and to Him is the Resurrection."

16 Do you feel secure against Him Who is in heaven

       causing the earth to swallow you up

    when suddenly it rocks from side to side?

After enumerating His blessings to you in a stable and frutiful earth, Allah calls attention to its fragility. "Do you feel secure?" If you rebel against Allah, are you safe? The aim of the ayat is to threaten and alarm the unbelievers, as is the case with the ayat after it. It is important to note that the word belief or iman and security (aman) come from the same root. It is only belief that gives security.

"Him who is in heaven" is the One who has power and authority in heaven. He made the earth stable for you, but He can equally make it shake and split apart and so engulf you. The power to do both is in His hands. You have no security apart from Him.It is also possible that "Him" (man) refers to the angels who are entrusted with managing this world, and so it would be translated as, "those who are in heaven". This indicates the actual fragility of the stability of the earth. Al-Qurtubi says that it could mean: "Are you secure that the Creator of those in heaven..." It is important not to think of "who is in heaven" spatially, but rather it refers to His authority and power. Spatiality cannot be attributed to Allah. He is described by height and immensity which has no relation to defined quantities of physical beings. People stretch their hands towards heaven because the Revelation descended from it, the actions of human beings ascend to it and beyond it is the Throne of Allah and His Garden. It is taken as a direction as the Ka'ba is used for the qibla. Allah created places and has no need of them. Before them, He was before time and space when there was neither time nor space, "And He is now as He was."

Elsewhere the Qur'an gives us the example of Qarun (28:76-82) who was a man of the tribe of Israel who had vast wealth which he thought he had obtained because of his superior knowledge. In spite of this, he and his house were swallowed up by the earth to provide an example. This should certainly be a warning to people today who think that their wealth and position is based on their superior technological knowledge. It is an illusion.

"When it rocks" mentioned in Surat at-Tur. Mawr means to shake from side to side.

17 Or do you feel secure against Him Who is in heaven

        releasing against you a sudden squall of stones,

    so that you will know how true My warning was?

There is a second avenue by which punishment can come - from the heaven because His Sovereignty embraces all and He can send destruction from which direction He wills. "A sudden squall of stones" (hasib) can mean pebbles or a strong wind which contains small stones, and hence destruction. This is what happened to the people of Lut when Allah rained down stones on them, and to Abraha and when he invaded Makka and birds came bearing stones in their beaks. It also refers to destruction of crops by a such a wind.

"Warning (nadhr)" means warning (indhar) as nakr (denial) in the next ayat means inkar. It means warning about the punishment. If Allah were to send this to you, you would immediately know the truth of the punishment. It is also said that nadhr also means "mundhir" (warner), in which case it refers to Muhammad. Then it means: you will know the truth of what he says. Warsh has "nadhr " (My warning) rather than "nadhr " in Hafs, as in the next ayat it also has "nakr" (My denial) rather than the "nakr" in Hafs.

18 Those before them also denied

     but then how great was My denial!

Nations before them, meaning before the Quraysh, denied the message as Allah says elsewhere in the Qur'an:

   If they deny you, the people of Nuh before them denied him

       and those of 'Ad and of Thamud

41  and the people of Ibrahim and the people of Lut

42     and the companions of Madyan;

            and Musa was denied as well.

     I allowed time to the rejectors

            but then I seized them.

     How terrible was My denial!" (22:40-42)

This is to console the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, by the fact that the same denial was experienced by Prophets before him. "Denial" (nakr ) can mean the manifestation of disapproval of their behaviour, by changing life into destruction, favour into trial, and prosperity into ruin. The verb nakkara has to do with changing a state, in this case by destruction being visited upon them.

19 Have they not looked at the birds above them,

       with wings outspread and folded back?

    Nothing holds them up but the All-Merciful.

      He sees all things.

Then Allah gives a metaphor of something very beautiful, but at the same time very fragile, the the flight of birds in the air without anything to hold them up. "Have they not looked at the birds above them with wings outspread?" The way the question is asked implies that they are heedless of this sign. As the earth is subject to man, so the air is subject to the birds. But we can see how fragile it is while we forget how fragile we are on the surface of the earth.

"Outspread" (sfft) is the plural of sffa. They are the birds who spread their wings out and hold them open. Qabd refers to folding the wings to the sides. "Folded back" is in a verbal form and is joined to "outspread" because the verb has the meaning of the noun, and it implies the noun, qbidt. It can also refer to birds in formation as "sfft" also refers to ranks.

It is only the power of the All-Merciful which holds them up. "He sees all things," even each individual bird so that He keeps them suspended in the air.

20 Who is there who could be a force for you,

      to come to your support,

         apart from the All-Merciful?

   The kafirun are only living in delusion.

Having recounted all these aspects of Allah's power, He then says: "Who is there whoocould to be a force for you?" This is addressed to the unbelievers to rebuke and threaten them and to establish the proof against them. The form of the question implies a negative answer. Ibn 'Abbas says that "force" (jund) means a party and a defence or helpers. This is negating their false assumption of power. Only Allah possesses power.

The shaytans delude them that there will be neither punishment nor reckoning nor afterlife. "Delusion" (ghurr) is a verbal noun. The root, gharra, means to be deceived or beguiled into desiring what is false and made to be bold against something, to follow a course without being rightly guided. The verb, gharra, also means to expose a person to destruction by deceit. Another noun from this root, gharar, means peril or jeopardy or risk, which is a type of sale which is forbidden.

21 Who is there who could provide for you

       if He withholds His provision?

    Yet still they obstinately persist in insolence and evasion.

"Provision" can refer to the rain or the crops. Who will make it rain if He withholds it? Furthermore, if He makes it impossible for you to eat, who will enable you to eat? provision is not just material goods, but it is everything a person makes use of. Provision includes the air we breathe, the water, the food we eat, the gifts and talents and character Allah has given us. All of this is provision - speech, sight, touch, taste, blood cells, internal organs, osmosis, photosynthesis, etc. Allah gives us an excellent parable of his absolute control over provision in Surat al-Kahf:

32  Make an example for them of two men.

      To one of them We gave two gardens of grape-vines

        and surrounded them with date-palms,

      putting between them some cultivated land.

33  Both gardens yielded their crops and did not suffer any loss,

      and We made a river flow right through the middle of them.

34  He was a man of wealth and property

      and he said to his companion, debating with him,

   'I have more wealth than you and more people under me.'

35    He entered his garden and wronged himself by saying,

    'I do not think that this will ever end.

      I do not think the Hour will ever come.

   But if I should be sent back to my Lord,

     I will definitely get something better in return.'

36  His companion, with whom he was debating, said to him,

     'Do you then disbelieve in Him who created you from dust,

   then from a drop of sperm, and then formed you as a man?

37      He is, however, Allah, my Lord,

      and I will not associate anyone with my Lord.

38  Why, when you entered your garden, did you not say,

      "It is as Allah wills, there is no strength but in Allah?

  Though you see me with less wealth and children

      than you possess,

39  it may well be that my Lord will give me

     something better than your garden

   and send down on it a fireball from the sky

     so that morning finds it a shifting heap of dust,

40  or morning finds its water drained into the earth

     so that you cannot get at it.'

41 The fruits of his labour were completely destroyed

    and he woke up wringing his hands in grief,

       rueing everything that he had spent on it.

  It was a ruin with all its trellises fallen in.

     He said, 'Oh, if only I had not associated

        anyone with my Lord!'

42  There was no group to come to his aid, besides Allah,

    and he was not given any help.

43  In that situation the only protection is from Allah, the Real.

    He gives the best reward and the best outcome.

"To be obstinate" means to be stubborn and continue and persist in "disdain and insolence" and "evasion" to belief and the Truth. "Insolence" ('atw) means to be proud and excessive and immoderate in disbelief, to recoil and revolt from obedience. It also means to become dried up and rigid, which reflects the state of the unbelievers who persist in their disbelief. They are rigid and cannot move from their entrenched position. It also implies a threat because it is a term which is used elsewhere to refer to the insolence of the unbelievers before divine punishment befalls them. It is used of Thamud when they hamstrung the camel (7:77; 51:44), and when those who broke the Sabbath were transformed into apes. (7:166) They are much like Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost, "that fixed mind and high disdain, from sense of injured merit." (1.94) and "Vaunting aloud, but racked with despair." (1.16)

"Evasion (nufr)" means shying away. This is the refractoriness of an unbroken horse or camel which shies and breaks away from something, refusing to be compliant and obedient. This is something that animals do. We might deduce that the first refers to their leaders and the second to their followers. Allah also describes this elsewhere in the Qur'an (35:40-43):

40 Say: 'Have you thought about your partner gods,

       those you call upon besides Allah?

 Show me what they have created of the earth;

      or do they have a partnership in the heavens?'

 Have We given them a Book whose Clear Signs they follow?

     No indeed! The wrongdoers promise each other

        nothing but delusion.

41 Allah keeps a firm hold on the heavens and earth,

      preventing them from vanishing away.

  And if they vanished no one could then keep hold of them.

     Certainly He is Most Forbearing, Ever-Forgiving.

42 They swore by Allah with their most earnest oaths

     that if a warner came to them

         they would be better guided

           than any other community.

 But then when a warner did come to them,

      it only increased their aversion,

43 shown by their arrogance in the land and evil plotting.

     But evil plotting envelops only those who do it.

  Do they expect anything

      but the pattern of previous peoples?

  You will not find any changing in the pattern of Allah.

     You will not find any alteration in the pattern of Allah.

22 Who is better guided:

       he who goes grovelling on his face

    or he who walks upright on a straight path?

"Who is better guided?" What is meant by this is to rebuke the unbelievers. Two things are said about what it means. One is that walking is a metaphor about travelling the path of guidance and misguidance in this world. The other is that it is real and refers to the form of walking in the Next World because the unbeliever will be made to crawl to Jahannam on his face.

In the case of the first statement, it is said that the one who walks grovelling was Abu Jahl and the one who walked upright was Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and it is said that it is Hamza, and it is said that it is general to every believer and unbeliever.

"Grovelling (mukibb) is to walk with head bowed without looking forward or to the right or the left, not being safe from stumbling or falling on his face. The one who walks upright can look to the right and left. Someone who is blind is like this. He will be gathered in the Next World on his face. The Straight Path is Islam. Qatada said that the unbeliever is bent (akabb) on acts of disobedience in this world and so Allah will gather him on his face in the Fire in the end. As Allah says, "Those who perform bad actions will be thrown head first into the Fire." (27:90)

The believer was straight in following Allah's command in this world, and so Allah gathers him on his feet to the Garden. The Prophet was asked, "How can they walk on their faces?" He said, "The One who enabled them to walk on their feet is able to make them walk on their faces." Al-Qashani said that walking with face down is to incline to what is low, to sensual pleasures and to walk on the Straight Path is to follow the Path of tawhid.

23 Say: 'It is He who brought you into being

       and gave you hearing, sight and hearts.

   What little thanks you show!'

"Brought you into being" (nasha') refers to originating something from nothing. He has given you all these blessings and yet you do not show your gratitude to Him! You have hearing so that you can hear the signs of Allah and eyes so that you can see His signs and the things He has created and hearts so that you can reflect on them. This and the following ayat are also found in 23:78-79, and so it is a command to be grateful.

Various definitions have been given for thankfulness or shukr. They can be summarised as the heart being joyful at receiving the blessing and inclining to love the one who bestowed it, the limbs being disposed to obey the Giver, and the tongue to praise and mention Him. And, as Allah says, "He has given you everything you have asked Him for. If you tried to number Allah's blessings, you could never count them. Man is indeed wrongdoing, ungrateful." (14:34) Allah's blessings are infinite and start with existence itself, as He says: "Allah brought you out of your mothers' wombs knowing nothing at all, and gave you hearing, sight and hearts so that perhaps you would show thanks." (16:77) It is impossible to be adequately grateful to the Creator. It is reported that Prophet Da'ud said, "O Lord, how can I be grateful to You when my gratefulness to You is a blessing to me for which I must be grateful?" Allah said, "Now you have been grateful to me, Da'ud."

Thankfulness involves the use of the tongue, to praise the Giver; the use of the limbs to act to serve Him; and that the heart should acknowledge the Giver. Thankfulness itself gives increase, as Allah says, "If you are grateful, I will certainly give you increase, but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe." (14:8) Thankfulness is nothing but benefit for you.

24 Say: 'It is He who scattered you about the earth

       and you will be gathered to Him.'

All you see comes from Him and you will be returned to Him for the reckoning. The verb dhara'a (scatter) also means to create and to multiply. Dhurriya () means created beings or children, offspring. The verb also refers to the winnowing of wheat, and the casting of grain for planting. So the previous ayat refers to the initial creation of man from nothing and this ayat refers to the increase in the numbers. It also means to sow. So this is the propagation of mankind. Allah further describes this scattering in 42:11: "The Bringer-into-being of the heavens and earth. He has given you mates from among yourselves, and given mates to the livestock, in that way multiplying you."

25 They say, 'When will this promise come about

      if you are telling the truth?'

"They say, 'When will this promise come about?'" The pronoun refers to the unbelievers. The promise means the resurrection and the gathering, or their punishment in this world. They say this in mockery and denial. "If you are telling the truth" means the believers. The unbelievers do not believe that this will come about.

26 Say: 'The knowledge is with Allah alone

       and I am only a clear warner.'

This is what the Prophet is to say in answer to them. Only Allah knows when the Last Hour will come. He tells them that he has only come to warn them and alarm them about what their behaviour. Allah describes this interrchange further in Surat al-A'raf: "They will ask you about the Hour: when is it due? Say: 'Knowledge of it is rests with my Lord alone. He alone will reveal it at its proper time. It hangs heavy in the heavens and the earth. It will not come upon you except for suddenly.' They will ask you as if you had full knowledge of it. Say: 'Knowledge of it is with Allah alone. But most people do not know that.'" (7:187)

27 When they see it right up close,

       the faces of those who are kafir

           will be appalled

        and they will be told,

   'This is what you were calling for.'

Then it will inevitably come. "When they see it" is when the unbelievers see the promised punishment. They will see it with their own eyes. Al-Hasan said that it is eye-witnessing. It is said that it is the punishment of the Next World or the punishment inflicted on the unbelievers in the Battle of Badr. Or it could be when they see the Gathering. "Close" (zulfa) is a verbal noun meaning physically near or immediate.

"The faces of those who reject will be appalled" or "blackened" or "clouded over", meaning that the evil of what befalls them will be seen in them. Their faces will show their evil because they will become black. It will be physically seen in them. Allah says, "On the day when faces are whitened and faces are blackened." (3:106) The effects of what is being felt is seen in the faces.

"They will be told, 'This is what that you were calling for." This is what they were seeking and trying to hasten. Those who say that will be the angels, or it is a metaphor for the situation becoming evident to them. It is their words, "Our Lord, advance our share to us before the Day of Reckoning." (38:16)

28 Say: 'What do you think?

       If Allah destroys me and those with me,

            or if He has mercy on us,

     who can shelter the kafirun

       from a painful punishment?'

The reason for the revelation of this ayat is that the unbelievers used to wish for the destruction of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the Muslims. Allah commanded him to say to them, "If Allah destroys me and those with me, or he has mercy on us, you still will not be saved from the painful punishment." Destruction here can refer to death or some disaster. "Those with me" are the believers.

The meaning of "who can shelter the rejectors from a painful punishment?" is: who will prevent their punishment. "Shelter" (yajru) means to protect, help and deliver from evil. It is said of Allah, "He protects, but none is protected against Him." The verb involves giving shelter from something, in this case, the punishment.

29 Say: 'He is the All-Merciful.

     We have iman in Him

          and trust in Him.

       You will soon know

          who is clearly misguided.'

It is the All-Merciful to whom he calls them to worship. Here we have belief and trust (tawakkul). As He says elsewhere: "The believers are those whose hearts tremble when Allah is mentioned, whose belief is increased when His Signs are recited to them, and who put their trust in their Lord." (8:2)

Trust or tawakkul, means that the heart relies on Allah and not on creatures. This trust is one of the fruits of belief and knowledge. The greater the belief and knowledge of Allah, the greater the trust, hence Allah says: "Put your trust in Allah if you are believers." (5:23)

Trust also entails being content with Allah's decree. Hence Bishr al-Hafi said, "One of you says, 'I trust on Allah,' and he lies. If he had truly trusted in Allah, he would have been content with what Allalh Almighty does to him."

The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, recommended trust in Allah in every instance. He said, "If, when he leaves the hourse, a person says, 'In the name of Allah. I have put my trust in Allah and there is no power nor strength except by Allah,' he will be told, 'You are guided, sufficed, protected, and saved from Shaytan.' Then one shaytan will say to another, 'How can you have any power over a man who has been guided, sufficed and protected?'" (Abu Dawud, an-Nasa'i & at-Tirmidhi)

Trusting in Allah produces calmness and tranquillity in the hearts, exspecially in trials and tribulations. As Allah says elsewhere:

     Those to whom people said,

          "The people have gathered together against you, so fear them."

     But it increased them in belief and they said,

          "Allah is enough for us and the Best of Guardians."

174 So they returned with blessing and bounty from Allah

          and no evil touched them.

     They pursued the pleasure of Allah.

   Allah's favour is indeed immense." (3:173-174)

30 Say: 'What do you think?

      If, one morning, your water disappears into the earth

          who will bring you running water?'

"Say: 'What do you think? If, one morning, your water disappears into the earth...'" This ayat is an argument against the idolaters. "Disappears" (ghawr) is a verbal noun which is used as an adjective, meaning vanishing into the earth. "Running"(ma'n) is abundant. The meaning is: if your water which you drink vanishes, will other than Allah bring you running water? This hearkens back to the example from Surat al-Kahf given under ayat 21, when one of the two men with a garden has his water disappear.

This is a further question addressed to Quraysh to show their lack of power. Their water was well water and wells can go dry. A spring which is ma'ana has ample water. Ibn 'Abbas says that it means: who will bring you sweet water? In reference to the people of Makka, whose water came from two wells, Zamzam and Maymun al-Hadrami, this is a telling point. What happens if Allah were to make the wells go dry? Zamzam itself was a miracle which appeared the middle of the desert. -

Rasul Allah (sallah llahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord" and whoever knows his Lord has been given His gnosis and nearness.

Posted By: rami
Date Posted: 01 April 2006 at 7:28pm
Bi ismilahir rahmanir raheem

Surat al-Ma'un

[Tafsir of al-Ma'un taken from a number of traditional sources]


Al-Ma'un Helping Others

In the name of Allah, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

1 Have you seen him who denies the deen?

2 He is the one who harshly rebuffs the orphan

3 and does not urge the feeding of the poor.

4 So woe to those who pray,

5 and are forgetful of their prayer.

6 Those who show off

and deny help to others.

Al-Iklil of as-Suyuti:

He only has one page on this sura. This is very much a tafsir bi'r-riwaya. As-Suyuti (d. 911/1505) was a famous Egyptian Shafi'i scholar. He takes a very simple approach, looking for any judgements contained in the ayats or any hadiths about it. He starts with the meaning

2. "Harshly rebuffs" means "he is hard to him and wrongs him," according to Ibn Abi Hatim.

4. "those who are forgetful of their prayer." The Prophet said that "they are those who delay the prayer beyond its time." (at-Tabari, at-Tabarani and Abu Ya'la from the hadith of Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas. Al-Firyabi has it mawquf and al-Hakim and al-Bayhaqi considered it sound.) Mus'ab, Sa'd's son, asked him about this, "Which of us does not forget? Which of us does not have his self speak to him?" He replied, "That is not what it is about. It is about missing the time." (Ibn Abi Hatim) Abu'l-'Aliyya said, "It is reciting this and that, looking to his right and his left."

6 "those who show off" criticises showing off.

7. "deny help to others." This is encouragement for making the 'ariyya - the loan of the use of something. An-Nasa'i transmitted from Ibn Mas'ud, "We considered the ma'un in the time of the Messenger of Allah to be the lending of a bucket or pot." Al-Bazzar added, "Or an axe." Ibn Abi Hatim transmitted it with "Loans means pots, scales, and buckets." Ibn Jarir said, "We said that denying help was to refuse to lend a bucket and the like." Ibn Abi Hatim transmitted from the hadith of 'A'id ibn Rabi'a an-Namiri said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "So not deny help." They asked, "And what is denying help?" He said, "It is in [lending] stones, iron and water." Sa'id ibn Mansur reported that Ibn 'Abbas said, "That it is the lending of things." It is, however, reported from 'Ali that it is refusing to pay zakat. Ibn 'Umar said, "Ma'un is the property whose right is paid." 'Ikrima said, "The head of ma'un is the zakat on property and the least of it is a shovel, bucket and needle.' Muhammad ibn Ka'b said that is an act of charity (ma'ruf).

Ibn Juzayy

Ibn Juzayy is a little earlier than as-Suyuti. He was from Granada and a Maliki (d. 741/1340). His tafsir is entitled at-Tahsil fi 'Ulum at-Tafsir (Making Things Easy in the Sciences of Tafsir). Instead of immediately starting with the meanings, he begins by telling us when it was sent down, and then deals with each individual ayat:

The first three ayats are Makkan and the rest Madinan. It has 7 ayats. and it was sent down after al-Takathur.

"Have you seen him who denies the deen?" It is said that this was sent down about Abu Jahl and Abu Sufyan ibn Harb. It was said that it is general. Here the deen can mean the religion or the repayment.

"He is the one who rebuffs the orphan" i.e. repels him with harshness. This repelling can be in not feeding him and not being good to him or about his property and rights. This is stronger criticism than "and does not urge feeding the poor". He does not feed him "properly". This sentence is the apodosis of "Have you seen?" because its meaning is: "Inform me". It is as if it is a question. The meaning is: look at the one who denies the deen and you will find these ugly questions and evil actions. That is because the deen moves the one who has it to do good actions and abandoning evil actions. So the aim of the words is to censure the rejectors and their states, who were doing all of these things.

"So woe to those who pray, who are forgetful of their prayer" It is said that this was sent down about 'Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul, the famous hypocrite in Madina. According to this, half of the sura is Makkan and half of it is Madinan. Abu Zayd as-Suhayl said that. That is because that the mention of Abu Jahl and other rejectors comes mostly in the Makkan suras. Unmindfulness in the prayer and showing off in it are part of the attributes of those who were in Madina, especially according to the words of the one who says that it is about 'Abdullah ibn Ubayy. It is also said that it is all Makkan, which is the most well known view. According to this, the end of it was sent down about a man who became Muslim in Makka and did not have sound belief. It is also said that it is Madinan and that unmindfulness of the prayer means abandoning it and delaying it beyond its time. 'Ata' ibn Yasar said, "Praise be to Allah who said, 'unmindful of their prayer' and did not say 'in their prayer.'"

"those who show off"  It comes from showing off, i.e. their prayer is to show off to people, not for Allah.

"and deny help" He describes them as being miserly and not helping people. Four things are said about ma'un. The first is that it is zakat. The second is that it means wealth in the dialect of Quraysh. The third is that it is denying water. The fourth is that it refers to what people give to one another, like vessels, axes, buckets and scissors. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was asked, "What is it lawful to refuse to give?" He replied, "Water, fire, salt," and it adds in some versions, "needles and yeast."

Ahkam al-Qur'an: Qadi Ibn al-'Arabi

"The Judgements of the Qur'an" This is clearly about legal rulings as is the casee with many tafsirs. Qadi Ibn al-'Arabi (d. 543/1148) came from Seville and was qadi there for the Murabitun, and finished his life in Morocco after the Muwahhidun came to power where he eventually died.

There are three points in "those who are forgetful of their prayer".

1. Forgetfulness is abandoning, and that can be either intentional or unintentional. It is is intentional, that is deliberate, If it is unintentional, it is forgetfulness (sahw) for which there is no responsibility.

2. It is impossible for the forgetful person to be responsible because he does not understand the requirement. If it is asked, "How can the one who does not understand criticism be criticised or the one who is not responsible be charged with responsibility?" there are two aspects to the answer. One is that if the person had an intention to leave the prayer, he is censured when the time of the prayer comes, whether if he was heedless at that actual moment or if it is simply his habit to omit it. Then censure is always connected to him. This does not include the one who overlooks something in his prayer.

3. It is impossible to be completely free of forgetfulness. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forgot in his prayer as did the Companions. If someone does not ever forget in his prayer, that is a person who does not reflect and does not understand his recitation. His concern is for the number of rak'ats. This is a man who eats the husk and leaves the core. The only thing that made the Prophet forget in his prayer was reflecting on what was greater than it. O Allah, may a person who forgets in his prayer not be the one who turns to the whispering of shaytan when he tells him, "Remember this. Remember that," until he does not remember how much he has prayed.

"Those who show off and deny help to others."

Ibn Wahb said that Malik said that these are the hypocrites who make a show of their prayer. A hypocrite shows people that he is praying in obedience to Allah, but he is praying out of taqiyya (dissimulation). A fasiq prays so that he will be accepted as someone who prays.

The reality of riya' is to seek this world by worship. Its basis is to seek to enjoy a position in people's hearts. The beginning of it is good reputation, and he desires to obtain rank and praise by that. The second level is showing off by wearing short clothes and coarse clothes to give an appearance of asceticism in this world. The third is to show off by verbal expression by displaying anger against the people of this world and admonition while he actually regrets not having wealth and their worship. The fourth is making a public display of the prayer and sadaqa or making the prayer appear good so that people will see it. It is also making the prayer long.

"deny help to others" has 3 points.

1. The first is the definition of the word. Ma'n is derived from the verb help (a'ana). It means to assist with strength, tools and means to make something easy.

2. The second point refers to the positions of scholars on it. Scholars have 6 views on the meaning of ma'n.

1. Malik says that it refers to zakat, and that it means that the hypocrite refuses to pay it. Abu Bakr ibn 'Abdu'l-'Aziz reported that Malik said, "I have heard that this is meaning of the words of Allah, 'So woe to those who pray, who are forgetful of their prayer. Those who show off and deny help to others.' The hypocrite is the one who, when he prays, does so to show off. If he misses the prayer, he feels no regret. They refuse to pay the zakat which Allah has obliged on them." Zayd ibn Aslam said, "If the prayer had been lightened for them like zakat, they would not have prayed."

2. Ibn Shihab says that it means wealth.

3. Ibn 'Abbas said that it is what people lend to one another.

4. It is pots, buckets, axes and the like.

5. It is water and pasturage.

6. It is water alone.

3. The third point is that since it is clear the ma'un is part of help, that is why the commentators have mentioned all types of help. The greatest of them is zakat. The level of censure is compensurate with the extent of refusal to pay. Lending something is not a personal obligation, but a general one, and Allah knows best.

"Woe" can only be used for someone who denies the obligation, and that is how they define it.


Al-Qurtubi (d. 671/1273), as his name shows, was from Cordoba. He is a famous mufassir and his 20 volume tafsir is called al-Jami' li-Ahkam al-Qur'an. He delights in the meanings of the various qira'at and the diversity of views of different commentators which produce layered meanings. As the title implies, he particularly concentrates on the legal rulings in the text.

He says that there are six points in this sura.

"The one who denies the deen" is the one who denies that there will be repayment and reckoning in the next World. There is disagreement about whom it was revealed. It is reported from Ibn 'Abbas that it was revealed about al-'As ibn Wa'il as-Sahmi. Al-Kalbi and Muqatil also said that. It is reported that ad-Dahhak said, "It was revealed about a man of the hypocrites." As-Suddi said that it was revealed about al-Walid ibn al-Mughira. It is also said that it was revealed about Abu Jahl. Ad-Dahhak also said that it was revealed about 'Amr ibn A'idh. Ibn Jurayj said it was about Abu Sufyan who used to slaughter a camel every week. When an orphan asked him for some of it, he hit him with a stick, Ibn 'Abbas says that it means he drives the orphan away from what is his right. Qatada said he wrongs him. The Prophet said about the orphan, "If someone takes care of a Muslim orphan until he becomes independent, the Garden is mandatory for him."

2. "He does not does not urge the feeding of the poor" because of his miserliness and denying the final repayment in the Next World. That is like the words of Allah, "nor did he urge the feeding of the poor." (69:34). Censure is not general and so it does not apply to someone who is unable to do it. Rather it is those who were miserly and made excuses for themselves. They say, as in Yasin (36:47), "Why should we feed someone whom, if He willed, Allah would feed Himself?" This ayat was revealed about those people. It means: They do not do it when they are able to do, and they do not urge if when they are unable to do it.

3. Then about "woe to those who pray" ad-Dahhak reported from Ibn 'Abbas that this is about the one who prays without hoping for a reward, and if he leaves off doing it, he does not fear a penalty for not doing it. He also said that it is those who delay the prayer beyond its time." Ibrahim said that it is delaying it beyond the time, saying that "sahun" means "missing the moment". Abu'l-'Aliyya said that they do not pray the prayer at its time and do not fully complete the ruku' and prostration."

This also refers to the words of Allah, "An evil generation succeeded them who neglected the prayer." (19:59) Ibrahim also said that it refers to someone who, when he prostrates, moves his head as if he were turning. Qutrub says, "He does not recite nor remember Allah." The reading of 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud had "those who are diverted from their prayer" (lahn instead of sahn). Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas said that it refers to delaying it beyond its time because they think little of doing so.

Ibn 'Abbas said that it is the hypocrites who abandon the prayer secretly while they pray it openly. They are described in "When they get up to pray, they get up lazily, showing off to people, and only remembering Allah a little." (4:142) This indicates that the hypocrites are meant here. Ibn Wahb reported that from Malik. Ibn 'Abbas pointed out that if it had been about the believers, Allah would have said, "those who are heedless in their prayer." 'Ata' said, "Praise be to Allah! He said 'of their prayer' and not 'in their prayer!'" Az-Zamakhshari discussed this difference and says that "of" means about doing it, and lack of concern for it, which is the action of the hypocrites or the impious Muslims. "In' is forgetfulness which occurs due to the whispering of shaytan or the chatter of the self of which no one is free. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forgot in his prayer and this is why fuqaha' have established the topic of the prostration of forgetfulness.'

[Then he quotes Ibn al-'Arabi in the Ahkam, already mentioned.]

4. The fourth point is on "those who show off." This is the point of Ibn al-'Arabi about the reality of showing off. He points out that he already mentioned the reality and rules of hypocrisy in other suras.

5. The fifth point is that a man is not showing off by displaying righteous action if it is obligatory. It is part of the right of obligations to made public and well known since the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "There is no veiling in the obligations of Allah" because they are the signs of Islam and hallmarks of the deen, and because someone who abandons them deserves to be censured and hated. So one removes suspicion by making them public. If the actions are voluntary, then a person should conceal those actions because he is not censured for leaving them or suspect in that. If he displays them with the intention that he will be imitated, then it is good. Showing off is when he intends to show them so that people will see him and praise him for righteousness. It is reported from one of them that he saw a man in a mosque who performed the prostration of thankfulness and made it long. He remarked, "How much better this would be if it had been done in your house!" He said this because he noticed in him the showing off and the desire for reputation.

The sixth point is about ma'un, and he says that there are 12 views about it:

1. Zakat on property as related by Ibn 'Abbas, 'Ali and Malik. What is meant is that the hypocrite refuses to pay it. Malik said, "I have heard that the words of Allah (quoting the ayat) mean that when the hypocrite prays, he prays to show off. If he misses the prayer, he does not regret it. Their denial of help means the zakat which Allah has obliged on them."

2. It means "wealth" in the dialect of Quraysh. Ibn Shihab and Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab stated that.

3. It is a generic noun for all household tools, like axes, pots, fire and the like. Ibn Mas'ud said that and it is also reported from Ibn 'Abbas.

4. Az-Zajjaj, Abu 'Ubayd and al-Mubarrad said that in the Jahiliyya ma'un designated all that contains some use, even an axe, pot, bucket and flint, and anything else which has a use, small or large. They said that ma'un in Islam is obeidence and zakat.

5. It is a loan ('ariyya). That is also reported from Ibn 'Abbas.

6. It is all forms of charity (ma'ruf) which people give to one another. Muhammad ibn Ka'b and al-Kalbi said that.

7. It is water and pasturage.

8. It is just water. Al-Farra' said that he heard some Arabs use ma'un to mean water.

9. It is refusing hand over to someone his right. 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar said that.

10. It is the yield from the use of property, derived from ma'n (scarce) which means what is scarce. At-Tabari related that as did Ibn 'Abbas. Qutrub said that the root of ma'n is scantness, ma'n. The Arabs say, "His property is ample, not scant (ma'na)." Allah referred to zakat, sadaqa and similar charity as ma'un becaue it is a little taken from a lot. Some people say that the root of ma'un is ma'na, as al-Jawhari says. Ibn al-'Arabi says that ma'n is a passive form from a'ana, yu'in, and 'awn means helping with strength, tools and the means to bring something about.

11. It is obedience and submission. Al-Akhfash reported a verbal usage of it when referring to a camel.

12. It is said that it is what unlawful to refuse, like water, salt and fire because 'A'isha said, "I said, 'Messenger of Allah what is it unlawful to refuse?' He replied, "Water, fire and salt." I said, "Messenger of Allah, I understand water, What about fire and salt?' He said, ''A'isha, if someone gives fire, it is as if he were giving as sadaqa all that is cooked with that fire. If someone gives salt, it is as if he is giving as sadaqa for all that is made tasty by that salt. If someone gives a drink of water when there is water available, it is as if he had set free sixty souls. If he gives a drink of water where there is no water available, it is as he gave life to soul. Whoever gives life to a soul, it is as if he had given life to all mankind." Ath-Tha'labi mentioned this in his tafsir and Ibn Majah transmitted it in the Sunan. There is some looseness in its isnad.

Al-Mawardi said that it is possible that it is helping with what is easy to do but which Allah has made heavy. Allah knows best. 'Ikrima was asked, "Will someone who refuses any goods to use have woe?" "No," he replied, but whoever combines all three will have woe: abandoning the prayer, showing off, and being miserly with help."

That is more applicable to the hypocrites because they have all three of these attributes. Allah says, "When they get up to pray, they get up lazily, showing off to people, and only remembering Allah a little." (4:142) and He says, "They only give reluctantly." (9:54) These are their states. It is unlikely that all of these will exist in a true Muslim. If some of them exist, he is rebuked: denying help when he is asked and abandoning the prayer, and Allah knows best. It is an ugly denial in good character when that is not necessary. Allah knows best.

Ruh al-Bayan

This Ruh al-Bayan is not the famous one, by one by a Turkish Shaykh, Isma'il Baqqi al-Burusawi, (d. 1123/1711). This is more of a Sufi tafsir.

"He does not urge": He does not encourage his family and other wealthy people. If he does not encourage others, how can be himself do it? "Feeding of the poor" ascribes "feeding" to the poor and indicates that the poor have a right and share in the property of the wealthy and that he is denying the poor his right to which he is entitled: this is extreme miserliness and hard-heartedness. If someone says, "A person may not encourage in many states and that is not considered a sin, so how can he be blamed for it?" The answer is, "Because his lack of urging it is due to his lack of belief in the reward. So his lack of urging indicates his miserliness and denying charity to the needy. This is why it is followed by "woe", because it denotes denial of the deen.

Forgetfulness is negligence. There are two types of that. One is that it does not have a cause and is not a result of something else, like a madman cursing a person. The second is that it is due to a cause, like someone drinking wine and then doing something objectionable which he did not intend to do. The first is overlooked but he is punished for the second. Part of it is what Allah has censured in this ayat. By "being forgetful of their prayer," what is meant is abandoning it, lack of concern for it, and paying little attention to it. That is the action of the hypocrites and believers who are fasiq. Anas said, "Praise be to Allah who said, 'unmindful of their prayer'and did not say 'in their prayer.'" If He had said, "in their prayer", forgetfulness afflicts them while they are praying, either by the whispering of Shaytan or the chatter of the nafs, and a Muslim is not free of that and it is extremely difficult to be free of it. When this ayat was revealed, the Prophet said, "This is better for you than each of you being given the equivalent of the entire world."

Was there any forgetfulness (sahw) on the part of the Prophet? Yes, as he said, "They distracted us from the 'Asr prayer," meaning on the day of the Battle of the Ditch. "May Allah fill their hearts with fire!" He also forgot the Fajr prayer on the night when he overslept. He prayed Dhuhr with two rak'ats and then said the salam. Abu Bakr said to him, "You prayed two rak'ats." He stood and prayed two rak'ats. His forgetting in what we mentioned was not like the forgetfulness of the rest of people. The Prophet was constantly in absorption and attraction. He said, "My eyes sleep but my heart does not sleep." In it he indicates forgetfulness due to witnessing the subtle meanings of the prayer and heedlessness to its secrets and knowledges, Ibn Mas'ud recited lahun in place of sahun. If an intelligent person misses the prayer inasmuch as it is part of ascent and intimate conversation, he must not be careless in it by fiddling with the beard and clothes nor yawning a lot and looking about and the like. Some of those who pray do not how how much they have done or recited.

"Show off" They show off their actions to people so that they see them and are praised for them. Then one must combine the reality and the metaphor because praise is not connected to simply seeing something. It is applied to metaphors in general or to gnosis. It says in al-Kashshaf: "If a righteous action is fard, part of the right of obligations is that they are made public and known since the Prophet said, "There is no veiling in the obligations of Allah" because they are the signs of Islam and hallmarks of the deen, and because someone who abandons them deserves to be censured and hated. So he removes suspicion by making them public. If it is voluntary, then he should conceal them because he is not censured for leaving them or suspect in it. If he displays them with the intention that he will be imitated, then it is good. Showing off is when he intends to show them so that people will see him and praise him for righteousness." [Qurtubi]

It is difficult to avoid showing off because it is more hidden than the tiny black ant in a dark night on a black stone. The difference between the show off and the hypocrite is that the hypocrite conceals disbelief and makes a show of faith. The show off displays increased humility and the signs of righteousness so that those who see him will believe that he is one of the people of righteousness. The reality of showing is to seek this world through worship. It indicates that a person who attributes his actions and advancement to himself shows off.

"Denies help" From ma'n, which is the scant thing. Zakat is called ma'un because it is 2.5% of property which is little from a lot. Abu'l-Layth said, "Ma'un means wealth in the dialect of the Abyssinians."

The meaning is: they refuse to pay zakat, as is indicated because it follows mention of the prayer. Or it refers to what people normally lend to one another. If there is lack of concern for orphans and the poor, that comes from lack of belief in the reward and as such deserves censure and rebuke. Even more worthy to rebuke is lack of concern for the prayer which is the pillar of the deen and showing off which is a branch of kufr and refusing zakat which is the supporting arch of Islam and constitutes bad behaviour with people. How many do you see among those call themselves Muslim? Indeed, there are scholars among them who are like this. What a misfortune!

What is meant by what people normally lend to one another is what they lend to help one another, lending things like axes, pots, buckets, needles, plates, spindles, fire, water, and salt and the like, even if your neighbour asks to cook in your oven or leave his goods with you for a day and a half. 'A'isha said, "Messenger of Allah, what is it unlawful to refuse?' He replied, "Water, fire and salt." I said, "Messenger of Allah, I understand water, What about fire and salt?' He said, 'Humayra', if someone gives fire, it is as if he were giving as sadaqa all that is cooked with that fire. If someone gives salt, it is as if he is giving as sadaqa for all that is made tasty by that salt. If he gives a drink of water where there is no water, it ia as he gave life to soul. " This is in the Kashf al-Asrar. It is forbidden to refuse thee things in the Shari'a when they are borrowed because of need. It is ugly in good character when it is not a case of need. -

Rasul Allah (sallah llahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord" and whoever knows his Lord has been given His gnosis and nearness.

Posted By: hat2010
Date Posted: 22 September 2007 at 7:45am
Just got to the bottom of this page...I feel twenty times richer for it...

shukran, Bro Rami wa Ramadan M'Barak...


Posted By: number41
Date Posted: 22 September 2007 at 4:33pm
Just to say...JazakAllah Khair for sharing this...please post more...

Ramadan Kareem Bro!

'When one bright intellect meets another bright intellect, the light increases and the Path becomes clear' Rumi

Posted By: rememberallah
Date Posted: 23 November 2010 at 1:45pm
Allah has been good to me, surely one day i will post what sura nur ayat 35 actually mean.inshalla.h

The whole world is like Hazrat Umar but no one is like his sister and brother in law.

Posted By: Viki Carter
Date Posted: 13 July 2011 at 1:34am
thank you, very good translation
full of sence 

Posted By: QuranofAllah
Date Posted: 07 August 2011 at 6:05am
Very nice commentary, brother. I just joined this forum recently and it's so nice to learn so much from all of you. Thank you!

The most beautiful Surah of the Quran, - Surah Yasin

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