Surat Al-Furqān

What is the Qur'an About?

Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma`ani
by
Syed Iqbal Zaheer

تفسير إِشراقُ المَعَاني
سيد إقبال ظهير

PREPARATORY

What is the Qur'an About?
The Qur'an is the Word of Allah and a Book of Guidance. It can be asked, guidance to what? The answer is: “Guidance to Allah Most High, His Attributes, His Will, and the way in which one may conduct oneself to obtain that approval (rida) of Allah after which there is no anger." Imam Shafe`i perhaps had the first part of this statement in mind when he said:

"All that (the scholars of) the Ummah have to say is nothing but the exposition of the Sunnah. All that is in the Sunnah is the exposition of the Qur'an. And the whole of the Qur'an is nothing but the exposition of the Names and Attributes of Allah" (Zarkashi: Al‑Burhan Fi `Ulum al‑Qur'an).

This guidance to Allah, the knowledge of His Attributes and Will, and the guidance to right conduct cannot be obtained by any means other than the Qur'an and its complementary, the Sunnah, (the sayings and practices of Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him).
The Qur'an is also the only source of guidance. Someone who is unaware of its existence, but is a seeker of Truth, (on account of his innate faith in God and disillusionment with the world), will be led to this Book, one way or the other. The Qur'an says (29: 69): "Those who strive in Us, We shall surely guide them unto Our paths."

What is Guidance?
From another angle, it might be said that being on the guidance is to know, acknowledge, and, live by the Truth. In the context of this life, it is
a) the knowledge of what one is required to do, in the right measure, at any particular moment, and
b) the will to live by that knowledge.
In one sense, then, Guidance is knowledge, and in another, the will to act by it. The ‘will to act' is not the same as the ‘power to act.' That is because man has been granted will (or the freedom of choice) in a limited framework, while all power is Allah's. The power, or ability to act ‑ referred to as tawfiq in Islamic terminology ‑ is granted when willingness is demonstrated.
Further, since there is no such thing as half‑guidance, both are essential for salvation: knowledge without the will to act is only an evidence against one's self (hujjah), and deeds (however pretty their appearance), are grains thrown in the sand if they go without the acknowledgement of the Truth.
The Qur'an guides in both the senses. It bestows knowledge (or 'ilm wa 'irfan), giving the seeker the proper concept of the truth, as well as the will‑power and the moral courage to produce a living model of that concept in his own person, overcoming the obstacles he might encounter from within or without.
No other book, writing, philosophy, or person can achieve this. There should be no doubt about it; for any ambiguity in this regard can deprive one of the fruits of study and application.
The above definition illustrates and emphasizes the external, physical, and ephemeral aspect. Guidance has an esoteric, transcendent, and eternal meaning also, which is the fruit and essence of the external aspect. It is that state of mind and soul in which the other world becomes dearer than this one, in which, one eagerly awaits to be transported to the other world in order to heal that pain in the heart, and quench that thirst of the soul which only the company of those on High can heal and quench.
It is when one begins to ‘wait for the next salah after the last one,' when one ‘remembers Allah in his seclusion and the remembrance brings tears to his eyes,' when Allah becomes so dear that one begins to ‘love for Allah and hate for Allah,' and, when ‘the state of sabr and shukr become one and the same,' then it is that a person can said to be, in the words of the Qur'an, "on a guidance from his Lord."

The Path of Knowledge
A hadith of the Prophet (saws) says: "I am leaving behind me two things. So long as you hold fast unto them, you will not be misguided: they are Allah's Book and my practices." Nevertheless, this oft‑quoted hadith is rarely treated seriously. People apply themselves with great fervor to books, writings, speeches and ideologies presented by the scholars of Islam, but not as often do they leave them and their influences aside to turn directly to the Qur'an in complete seriousness. They do not seem to realize that they are not guided by those books and writings but to the extent that they themselves contain the Qur'an and the Sunnah in their pure form and unadulterated meaning.
Further, even when the Qur'an is studied, it is mostly done through the eyes, minds, and explanations of the scholars. The knowledge derived is, therefore, at best second‑hand, vicarious, and not wholly trustworthy. Again, a study of the Qur'an after a lot of other literature has been read has the disadvantage of the earlier readings embossing on the mind impressions that do not allow for the new ones to take place in their pristine form. The result is a jumble of concepts, true, half true, and false.
Alternatively, the Qur'an is read with pre‑conceived ideas. Human ideas are then taken for Divine ideas with citation of Qur’anic verses as evidences.
There are a few other characteristics that distinguish the Qur'an from all other kinds of writings. Firstly, the knowledge that the Qur'an imparts is the true and infallible knowledge. Secondly, the Qur'an succeeds in communicating the ideas it holds. That is, the reader cannot miss the meaning that it intends to communicate. Provided one is sincere, no one can miss its guidance, or, led to a meaning and understanding not intended. That happens with writings other than the Divine; humans say one thing, and the audience understand another thing. Moreover, through its intricate sequencing of the texts, the Qur’an answers to the doubts that arise, so to say, on the spot, and registers its meaning and message without adulteration of doubts menacing the mind, or skeptical notes lying beneath like snakes in the grass.
Therefore, to obtain true knowledge and right guidance from the Qur'an the requirement is to do away with preconceived ideas and study it with the firm intention to live by the meaning as it unfolds itself. With that kind of intention, the student is qualified to receive the true meaning. The meaning obtained is also accompanied by an urge to live by it, which then is the next requirement. That accomplished, that is, the meaning translated into action, the reader demonstrates purity of intention. In consequence, he qualifies to receive a fresh set of true meaning which unfolds themselves with further reading. This goes on until the student reaches that state which has been described in a hadith by Allah (swt) Himself in words, “I become the hands of the slave with which he grips, the feet of the slave with which he walks ... (to the end of the hadith).” But if he fails, that is, he is not true to himself at any given phase, or discontinues the process, then the tawfiq is held back until he amends his ways. The Qur’an has said (7: 146):

{سَأَصْرِفُ عَنْ آيَاتِيَ الَّذِينَ يَتَكَبَّرُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَإِنْ يَرَوْا كُلَّ آيَةٍ لَا يُؤْمِنُوا بِهَا وَإِنْ يَرَوْا سَبِيلَ الرُّشْدِ لَا يَتَّخِذُوهُ سَبِيلًا وَإِنْ يَرَوْا سَبِيلَ الْغَيِّ يَتَّخِذُوهُ سَبِيلًا ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَكَانُوا عَنْهَا غَافِلِينَ} [الأعراف: 146]

“I shall turn away from My signs those who wax proud in the land without cause. If they witnessed all the signs, they will not believe in them, and, if they see the path of righteousness, they will not accept it as a path. But if they see the deviated path, they will accept it as a path. That, because they gave a lie to Our signs and were heedless of them.”

How to Obtain the Right Verbal Meaning?
Intention
It is to seek guidance, in the sense delineated above, that one should read the Qur'an. That should be the intention in every session with it.
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal's father well illustrated this point when he asked his son, who was reciting the Qur'an, as to what he was reading. The young son, knowing that the father was aware what he was reading, responded with an indifferent answer. “Who was it revealed to?” was the next question. The embarrassed son replied that it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace). “This way, my son,” said the father, “you will never profit from the Qur'an. You will only if you read with the belief that the Revelation has just come down, that it has been sent down specifically for you, and that it is you who has been addressed. It is only then that this Book will open itself to you.”
In other words, one should take it as a message unto himself, and allow each verse of the Qur'an free and unhindered access to the mind and heart with the will to be led where it will lead.

Language
In contrast to other revealed Books and religious literatures, in whatever form and language they may exist, the Qur'an should not only be read by oneself, directly, but also in its own language ‑ Arabic. No commentary, however comprehensive, and no exegete, however erudite, can impart what the Qur'an itself can. The following reasons will illustrate the point.

The Miraculous nature of the Qur'an
It is well known that the Qur'an is a miracle. In fact, it is a living miracle; although the true nature of the miracle is not always understood. We cannot elaborate on this point extensively at this juncture. But it might be pointed out that the miracle expresses itself both in its form as well in its content. Both are powerful, unique to the Qur'an, which defy translation. The Prophet said: "Every prophet before me was given a miracle. I have been given the Qur'an. And I hope to have a greater following by its virtue than any prophet of the past."
Consequently, thousands of people from all over the globe are led to Islam every year through their study of the Qur'an. When a non‑Muslim asks a Muslim about Islam, all that he does in most cases is to hand him over a copy of the Qur'an. Invariably, even that mangled thing called ‘the translation of the Qur'an' leads the person to Islam. That is the miracle of the Qur'an. And of course, miracles cannot be translated.
Let us look into a few reasons that make impossible to communicate what the Qur'an itself communicates.

Translations
The Qur'an is in Arabic. It is neither in prose nor in verse but a unique combination of both, unsurpassed in its effect on the mind and soul by any other writing. In the words of John Alden Williams:

"...the Arabic of the Qur'an is by turns striking, soaring, vivid, terrible, tender, and breathtaking ... It is meaningless to apply adjectives such as ‘beautiful' or ‘persuasive' to the Qur'an; its flashing images and inexorable measures go directly to the brain and intoxicate it.
It is not surprising, then, that a skilled reciter of the Qur'an can reduce an Arabic‑speaking audience to helpless tears" (Islam: p.2, Washington Square Press '69).

In the words of Arberry:

"... to produce something which might be accepted as echoing however faintly the sublime rhetoric of the Arabic Koran, I have been at pains to study the intricate and richly varied rhythms which ‑ apart from the message itself ‑ constitute the Koran's undeniable claim to rank amongst the greatest literary masterpieces of mankind" (The Koran Interpreted, Intr. p. x, Oxford Univ. Press '64).

It is this inimitable beauty that challenges mankind to produce its equivalent: in sublimity of language, its instructions, and its sublime effect on the mind and soul. The Qur'anic challenge has remained unanswered by the humans (2: 23, 24):

"O People! If you are in any doubt concerning what We have sent down on Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a piece similar to it (in all its merits). And call (to your aid) your witnesses apart from Allah, if you are true (in your allegation that it is the work of Muhammad). But if you cannot do it ‑ and you can never do it ‑ then beware of the Fire whose fuel is human beings and rocks: prepared for the unbelievers."

The Qur'an then is inimitable and, therefore, untranslatable. Any translation, however accurately done, and however close to the original, cannot reproduce the sense and beauty of the original. Therefore, when one is reading a translation, he is not reading the Qur'an per se. No surprise then that the best effects are lost. No wonder also that the scholars of old would not allow translation of the Qur'an. This is also Ibn Taymiyyah's opinion. In fact there is a consensus of opinion among the scholars that the Qur'an should not be quoted in ‘sense' or ‘meaning' but always in its original textual words. How can then one be allowed to translate the Qur'an and call it the Qur'an?
Accordingly, if permission to translate the Qur'an has been granted due to modern exigencies, it is on condition that sufficient notes are supplied to overcome the deficiencies arising out of the translation. Further, it is required that the new work be called "interpretative translation of the Qur'an" (tarjumah tafsiriyyah), or, "the translation of the meaning of the Qur'an," rather than "the translation of the Qur'an" or, what would be more audacious, "the meaning of the Qur'an," since none of these are within human power (Manahil al `Irfan, Zarqani).

Linguistic Difficulties
There are many linguistic difficulties that make the Qur'an untranslatable. In Arabic one expresses sense rather than meaning. A beautiful Arabic sentence that can enrapture the mind and touch the soul becomes insipid in another language. Not only sentences or words, even single consonant letters are hard to translate. For example, the "fi" of Arabic has a depth that is lacking in the "in" of English. One needs a whole ugly, terse, and unmusical word in English to translate mere letters such as:

و ف إنَّ

Obviously, the complications with the words are far greater than those with the letters. Arabic is a language in which words are based on consonantal roots, from which are derived scores of words in various forms giving out various meanings but remaining, even if loosely and distantly, connected in sense and letter‑content to the root. `Ayn for instance can mean: an eye, a spring, a spy, a group of people, evil‑eye, honor, a flag, a girl, etc. `Afw stands for effacement, obliteration, elimination, forgiveness, amnesty, boon, kindness, favor, surplus, and others. The translated word must on the one hand give out the basic meaning and, on the other, convey several nuances the original carries. Obviously, to achieve that is well‑nigh impossible.
Let us take an example (4: 4):

وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً [النساء : 4]

"Give the women their dowries (as a gift) spontaneous,"
In this example, the word saduqat is derived from the root sadaqa ( صَدَقَ ) which means, with the addition of various suffixes or prefixes: ‘to speak the truth, to be sincere, to prove to be true, to come true, to fulfill one's promise,' and so on. Now, a true translation of the derived term saduqa, (plural: saduqat صَدُقات ), should carry in its overtones the sense of truth and sincerity. That is, ‘a gift that is offered (by the groom to the bride), as an expression of his sincerity toward her and the relationship he is proposing.' To render it as dowry, with the connotation that the language and culture of the readers carry, is to mutilate it.
In addition to the problem of words that yield several meanings, the complex structure of the Qur'anic verses admit of many interpretations (well described by Muhammad Asad as unfolding of "layer upon layer of meaning") from which the translator can choose but one, without necessarily being right in his choice. This means that, granted the translator did not err, the translation conveyed only one meaning out of the several contained in the Qur'an.
As another example, the following is speaking of the unbelievers (11: 20):

يُضَاعَفُ لَهُمُ الْعَذَابُ مَا كَانُوا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ السَّمْعَ وَمَا كَانُوا يُبْصِرُونَ [هود : 20]

"For them the chastisement shall be doubled; (for) they could not hear, neither did they see."
It can be translated in at least six different ways, three of them depending on how the letter "maa" is treated: whether of the same meaning as "lamu kayy," ( لامُ كَي ); as a synonym of "ila," ( إلى ); or as a negative "maa". Obviously such possibilities, which occur quite often, can leave the translator baffled as to his own choice during translation.
Another linguistic difficulty is that many Arabic and Qur'anic terms do not have proper equivalents in other languages, especially the languages of the occident. Allah, al‑Rahman, al‑Rahim, jihad, salah, zakah, sadaqah, `ibadah, al‑ghayb, kufr, nur, fisq, taghut, nabiyy, rasul, ghaniyy, are a few examples from a long list.
If, to the above are added the difficulties of `ijaz (ellipticism), rhetoric, alliteration, resonance and rhythm (all of them present in the Qur'an in their most excellent forms and in the highest degree of expression), then the job of translation becomes a hopeless task.
But the impaired meaning is not the only casualty. The loss in terms of beauty, charm, appeal, elation and the ecstasy that a reader feels on reading the Qur'an in its original is immeasurable.
Therefore, it can be safely said of a person who has always read the Qur'an through translations alone, that he did not read the Qur'an once.

Commentaries
Trying to understand the Qur'an with the help of commentaries is no less hazardous. Some reasons are as follows.
Essentially, commentaries are of two kinds. Those that are based on the Qur'an itself, supported by the hadith and opinions of the Companions, or their next‑generation Followers (tabe`iyyun). These are known as al‑tafsir bi 'l ma'thur ( التفسير بالمأثور ) i.e., interpretation based on report or tradition.
The other category is the one in which the commentator offers an interpretation, based not on a specific accepted source ‑ a Qur'anic verse, a hadith, or a remark of a Companion or one of their Followers ‑ but his personal opinion based on his intellect, knowledge or intuition. This kind of commentary is known as al‑tafsir bi 'l ra'yi ( التفسير بالرأي ). al‑tafsir 'l‑ishari [ التفسير الإشاري ] falls under the same category).
As for the first kind of tafsir, i.e., al‑tafsir bi 'l ma'thur, it can be fully appreciated only when read in Arabic. Many concepts and ideas of the Qur'an are closely tied up with the Arabic language. Further, those concepts and ideas are so subtle that their explanations fall flat and lose their import in another language. The commentaries of Ibn Jarir or Ibn Kathir, for example (which are good examples of the al‑tafsir bi 'l ma'thur) fail to have their impact on the reader in their translated version. Besides, some basic knowledge of hadith classification, fiqh and other disciplines, which in turn require knowledge of Arabic, is necessary to appreciate this kind of commentary.
In short al-tafsir bi ‘l ma’thur does not help much in understanding the core meanings of the Qur’anic texts. The profound part is often missed.
On the other hand, if one tries to understand the Qur'an with the help of the other kind of tafsir, viz. al‑tafsir bi 'l ra'yi, he faces the following hazards.
Firstly, to be able to correctly comment on the Qur'an, one has to have, in addition to the Revealed texts, a thorough knowledge of all the physical and metaphysical sciences and disciplines that have been developed by the humans. The Qur'an deals with history, law, social affairs, morality, worship, economy, psychology, state affairs, spiritual development, eschatology, divinity, and many other disciplines ‑ all in one go. Obviously, since it is beyond one man's capacity to master so many disciplines in a life‑time, it is beyond him also to write a commentary of the Qur'an that conveys the true intent of the Qur’an.
Further, every commentator is a product of his own age, genre, intellectual atmosphere, and cultural background. His problems are the problems of his time ‑ not necessarily of all times. His view of life is from a certain angle ‑ not necessarily the ecumenical and transcendental view of the Qur'an. (So, we often hear from such commentators that “the Qur’an lays down the way of life”: which immediately reduces its message to mundane level. Had they said it lays down the ways to moral and spiritual life, they would have been closer to truth). Such commentators are led, and cannot help but be led, by their personal predispositions and bent of mind, appealing to those of similar dispositions, and not necessarily reaching out to all the inquisitive minds and thirsty souls. Finally, whatever a commentator’s caliber, he remains subjective. True objectivity is not the share of man.
For example, if he is of a sufi bent of mind he detects suggestions that may or may not exist. If he subscribes to a certain philosophy, he may emphasize a certain point, which might be there in the text, but might not be it focal point. Thereby he distorts the overall view. Or, if his interpretation of life is materialistic and earthly, he is quite likely to rush through verses that are, so to say, mawarid al zam'an (watering places for the thirsty), and the hovering grounds of the restless soul, concentrating instead on the wonderful capabilities of Islam to promote material growth and development on earth and bring back to the Muslim Ummah its lost glory!
In short, he is a human dealing with the Word of Allah. To do justice to it is not in his power.
Finally, it is agreed by the scholars of Islam that there are two aspects to the meaning of the Qur'an: the external and the internal. The external or the obvious meaning is that which has come down from the authorities: the hadith, the opinions of the Companions, their next‑generation Followers and the meaning unanimously accepted by the scholars of Islam through and through the ages. The internal, hidden or the secret meaning of the Qur'an comes from deep reflection and a sustained exercise of the mind and soul coupled with righteous living. To take an example, it is reported that the verse (5: 3): "This day I have perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion al‑Islam," brought tears into the eyes of `Umar ibn al-Khattab The Prophet asked him the reason. He replied: "So far we were witnessing a continuous rise of Islam. Now that it has been completed (i.e. it has reached its zenith), it can only follow a downward direction, as it happens with anything that has achieved its zenith." The Prophet (saws) agreed with him.
Imam Ghazali writes in his eighth book of Ihya' `Ulum 'l‑Din:

"The truth is that to everything pertaining to reflective and intellectual matters, which have become ambiguous to men of reflection, and in which people have differed, there are indications and implications in the Qur'an which can be observed by men of understanding. How can these indications and implications be completely conveyed by translations of its outward meanings and its (outward) exegesis?"

Further down he writes:

"The man who imagines that the Qur'an has no meaning except that which the outward exegesis has translated (and described), is acknowledging his own limitations; he is right in his acknowledgement (because he knows only this measure and is not aware of that which lies beyond this), but is wrong in his judgment which places all other people on the same footing as himself." (The Recitation and Interpretation of the Qur'an: Al-Ghazali's Theory by Muhammad Abdul Quasem, p. 87, 88).

Nevertheless, the scholars are also in agreement that the internal meaning can be attained only after a complete mastery of the external has been achieved. Zarkashi writes:

"The Book of Allah: it is the bottomless sea, whose meaning cannot be unfathomed but by the well-versed in (religious) knowledge; he who fears Allah in open and secret, and gives due esteem to Him in places where he comes across the ambiguous. Its subtleties and truths cannot be grasped but by one who (as the Qur’an said) ‘lends his ear and is attentive...'"

He adds a little further,

"All knowledge can be summed up as that of the ‘Acts' and ‘Attributes' of Allah. The Qur'an contains the knowledge of the Acts, Attributes, and the Essence of the Supreme Being. This fact leads us to another, viz., the field of knowledge is immensely vast. There is room for much more than what is obvious to the mind. The exegesis therefore, that has been passed on to us (by the authorities) do not lay down limits for the attainment of knowledge. Yet, it is not possible to jump over to the hidden without mastery of the obvious. Indeed, the knowledge of the external is absolutely essential to step into the internal and the hidden. Whoever claims to have knowledge of the secret part of the Qur'an while lacking a proper understanding of the external and the obvious, is like he who claims manhood at the threshold of his house (to which he has just crawled) although he has not yet stepped out of the door."

In brief, the Qur'an has two levels of meaning: the external and the internal. It should be obvious, therefore, how difficult it can be for a person to get to the second level, while his first level of understanding is suspect due to his ignorance of the language which leads him to take the words of men for the words of God.
These are some of the reasons why neither a translation nor a commentary can be substituted for the original.
It should not be surprising therefore to note that according to Imam Shafe`i, learning of the Arabic language is obligatory on every Muslim. Imam Abu Yousuf and Zufar, both students of Imam Abu Hanifah, went a step further. They stated that it is makruh (undesirable) for two Muslims who can manage some Arabic, to speak with each other in another language. Ibn Taymiyyah is also of the opinion that learning Arabic is a religious requirement since what is necessary to realize an obligation (wajib) is itself obligatory (wajib).

Pre‑conceived Ideas
In contrast, neglect of the language and study and reliance upon a single commentary of the al-tafsir bi 'l‑ra'yi type, can lead a student of the Qur'an to hold questionable opinions despite long study and painful application. Many of those who could become connoisseurs ended up dilettantes. Imam Ghazali writes about this class of people:

"The sufis have said that knowledge (`ilm) is a veil (between man and God), and by this knowledge they have meant those beliefs (`aqa'id) which most people have been firmly holding either by dogmatically following an authority or by mere reliance on casuistic sentences written by zealots of schools of thought and delivered to them. As for the real knowledge which is the uncovering of the actual condition of the thing known and which is a vision by the light of spiritual insight, how can it be a veil, seeing that it is the ultimate object of desire?
Pure dogmatic following of an authority is sometimes false (in itself) and is, therefore, an obstacle to the understanding of the meaning (of the Qur'an). An example of this is a man who has a (purely dogmatic) belief in Allah's istawa' on the Throne as His being settled on it physically. Then in the case of (the divine name) ‘the Holy One' (al-Quddus), for example, there comes to his mind the meaning that He is pure from all that is ascribable to His creation: but that purely dogmatic belief of his does not make it possible for this meaning to be firmly implanted in his mind. Had it become strengthened in his mind it would have led to a second meaning and a third, which could be inter-connected. But he hastens to drive this meaning away from his mind, because it contradicts his false belief which is held purely dogmatically.
Sometimes purely dogmatic following of an authority is true (in itself), but it too becomes an obstacle to understanding (the meaning of the Qur'an) and to unveiling of them. The truth in which man is obliged to believe has stages and grades, and it has an external beginning and an internal end. Concentration of man's nature on the external aspect prevents him from reading the internal end" (source cited above, p.70, 71).

Finally, every commentator is influenced by the ideas of his time that seem to be so powerful, and therefore of great consequence, which could be so during a particular epoch, but prove not to be so with the passage of time. Moved by those ideas or forces, a commentator might try to give the verses of the Qur'an a new meaning, sometimes at the expense of certain basic and universal truths. This can seriously affect the way in which his readers understand the Qur'an.
The conclusion therefore is that anyone who has not done a course of study in the tafsir of the approved type, but, instead, applies himself to the other type ‑ the tafsir bi 'l‑ra'yi ‑ runs the great risk of ending up with ideas that might not be true, half true or altogether wrong.
Therefore, every serious student of the Qur'an must learn enough Arabic to be able to read the Qur'an himself, directly, and without dependence on a translation to an extraordinary degree. It is only after he has spent sufficient time with the Qur'an (and, in addition, the Sunnah), that he can turn his attention to the translations and commentaries as further aids. It is only those for whom it is beyond their capacity to learn the language that might resort to dependence on translations and commentaries alone, although, to remain in consultation with the scholars is a necessary requirement for not getting misled on concepts.

Interpretations
Al-Tafsir bi 'l Ma'thur
The safest way to derive the right meaning of any part of the Qur'an is to seek its explanation within the Qur'an itself. What is stated in brief at one place is detailed at another, and what is ambiguous at one point is supplemented with elaborations elsewhere. Also, the Qur'an deals with a subject in a variety of ways, at different points, and with emphasis on different aspects in different contexts. The complete meaning can only be obtained by collecting together, either on paper or in the mind, all relevant verses, seeking connections that become apparent with contemplation. The Qur'an then should be understood in the first instance with the Qur'an itself.

The Hadith
Next, one should turn to the hadith. The ahadith are in reality a commentary on the Qur'an. Allah (swt) not only revealed the Word to the Prophet but also its meaning. A verse (4:105) says, "Surely We have sent down a Book to you (O Muhammad) with Truth so that you may judge between the people by what Allah shows you (as its true meaning)."
But it is not only the meaning as expressed in the words of the Prophet (saws) that has to be learnt. It is also the meaning as expressed in his actions that should be applied to one’s own life, to gain an understanding of the Qur'an. The Prophet lived according to the Message he received, not deviating from it in the least. In other words his life was the Qur'an interpreted: "Have you not read the Qur'an?!" was the answer given by `A'isha (ra) when asked about the Prophet's conduct in everyday life.
An example will illustrate how well the Prophet understood and lived by the Qur'an.
The Qur'an uses the term rih (in the sense of ‘winds') in two ways. In some places in the singular form as rih, and in others in the plural form as riyah. In all, it has used these terms on 29 occasions. Now a careful study reveals that when the occasion is the announcement of a punishment or chastisement from Allah, the word is used in its singular form (rih). In contrast, when the context is announcement of a glad tiding, it is the plural form that is chosen (riyah). [The odd deviation from the rule can be explained].
Now, keep the Qur'anic rule in mind and consider the prayer‑words of the Prophet, who, with every stormy weather supplicated in the words:

اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْهَا رِيَاحًا وَلا تَجْعَلْهَا رِيحًا

"O Lord! Make it winds (riyah) for us and not wind (rih)."
Another example can be cited. The Qur'an said (9: 103): "Accept (O Muhammad) of their wealth a free-will offering, to purify them and to cleanse them." This injunction came after the declaration that the free-will offering of the hypocrites was not acceptable; and the reference is to the zakah on wealth. The free-will offering, of course, is collected by the State and is distributed following another injunction (9: 60) that cites eight categories of people as the deserving recipients.
However, following the clue that zakah (and sadaqat by implication) purify and cleanse the people ("to purify them and cleanse them"), and, reasoning that the purifying agent cannot itself be clean after its purifying operation (another example is ablution water dropping down a man), the Prophet declared his kinsfolk as undeserving of a share in the zakah (and sadaqat) funds. He told them that the zakah funds were a dirt of the hand and hence unsuitable for them.
The above stray examples demonstrate not only how well the Prophet understood the Qur'an and the extent to which he applied it to himself, but also, how important it is for a reader to gain mastery over the two: the Qur'an and the Sunnah texts, to understand either.

The Companions and their Followers
Any clarification required after the first two sources have been exhausted, should be sought in the opinions of the Prophet's Companions; especially those who were close to him, received his special attention, and specialized in the Qur'an during his life‑time: such as the four khulafa', Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, `Abdullah ibn `Umar, Ubayy b. Ka`ab and others, or those of the Followers who became the pupils of these Companions, such as: Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id ibn Jubayr, Masruq, `Ata' ibn Rabah, Hassan al Busri, Sa`id ibn al Musayyib, Qatadah, Dahhak, Abu al `Aliyyah and others.
The differences in their opinions, however, should not disturb a student. For, as Ibn Taymiyyah has pointed out in his Muqaddimah fi Usul al Tafsir, in most cases they express the same meaning in different words. The word "hafadah" for instance, has been explained as "daughters" by Ibn Mas`ud and Sa`id b. Jubayr; as "grandsons" by Ibn `Abbas; as "in‑laws" by Ibn Mas`ud; while `Ikrimah, Mujahid, and Hasan al‑Basri say it stands for "servants." They are all of course expressing one or the other aspect of the meaning of the word. For "hafadah" is plural of "hafid" and in its singular form it means "he who is made to serve." At the time the verse was revealed, the word was used in all those senses in which it was adopted by different authorities.
Tafsir bi 'l ma'thur derives its basis from ‑ apart from others ‑ a hadith which says that when the Prophet was deputing Mu`adh ibn Jabal to Yemen he asked him how he was going to judge between the people. "With the Book of Allah," replied Mu`adh. "But what if you do not find (a lead) therein?" the Prophet asked. "With the Sunnah of Allah's Messenger," he replied. "But if you do not find (a lead) therein also?" he asked him. "Then," Mu`adh replied, "I will work out my own opinion." The Prophet expressed his approval (Muqaddimah, Ibn Taymiyyah).
A word of caution however, about this kind of tafsir should be in place. What is recommended is the methodology as enumerated above, and not the entire content of the books of tafasir that have followed this methodology. In some of these works massive amount of Jewish material and comments of the early exegetes have been included without verifications of their authenticity. If not read critically, these can have their own pitfalls. Naivety, for instance, can be perceived in those who rely on these alone and have failed to step into the modern age in intellectual terms.

Al-Tafsir bi al Ra'yi (Personal Opinions)
As stated above, sometimes a commentator uses his intelligence, knowledge, intuition or inspiration to bring out a point in language, history, law, etc. Some of such comments are acceptable, while others are not. Take for example verse (2: 102): "Sulayman blasphemed not, but the Satans blasphemed." A question arises. We know that a prophet does not blaspheme. Why then did the Qur'an have to say that Sulayman (asws) did not blaspheme? For an explanation we have to look into the Bible which alleges that Solomon became an idolater during the last days of his life (Majid). Though not based on an athar, it is a valid explanation and also corroborates with what details classical commentators (such as Ibn Kathir) have recorded as coming from Suddi and Sa`id b. Jubayr.
To take another example, the Qur'an says (2: 273): "(Alms are) for the poor who are restrained in the way of Allah, who can not journey in the land (for trade). The ignorant supposes them rich because of their restraint. You will know them by their mark. They do not beg of people with importunity. And whatsoever of good things that you spend, surely, Allah will know it."
Commenting on the verse, Thanwi says that the words, ‘(Alms are) for the poor who are restrained in the way of Allah,' are telling us that those who are working in the way of Allah deserve to receive first priority in aid. Further, the clause ‘who cannot journey in the land' signifies that it is desirable for those engaged in the path of Allah that they may suspend their efforts at livelihood, if need be, although there is no contradiction between the two (i.e. engagement in the path of Allah, and search for livelihood). Finally, the words ‘the ignorant supposes them rich,' implies that it is undesirable to put on appearances that will distinguish a man from the common people.
This is the kind of Tafsir bi 'l ra'yi that is acceptable since such statements can be corroborated in other ways also. What can be proved as valid either directly through deductions from the Qur'an, Sunnah, opinions of the Companions, their immediate Followers, or that which, in the least, does not contradict any of the above, in word or spirit, is valid and acceptable.
The permission for this kind of interpretation is based on the supplication (du`a) which the Prophet made for Ibn `Abbas. He said:

اللَّهُمَّ فَقِّهْهُ فِي الدِّينِ وَعَلِّمْهُ التَّأْوِيلَ

"O Allah, grant him knowledge of the Qur'an and teach him the interpretation."
Contrary to this is the unprincipled interpretation that has its basis neither in the sources cited above, nor does it agree with the spirit of Islam as understood by the scholars at large.
To explain, any opinion with reference to a Qur’anic text that contradicts with that of the Salaf, in matters involving the Shari`ah, values, morals or spiritual affairs, is Tafsir bi al-Ra’yi, and stands rejected outright. It is about such an interpretation that the Prophet remarked: "Whoever speaks about the Qur'an without knowledge, may seek his abode in the Fire."
The Companions and their Followers were quite careful about offering an interpretation that did not have a Qur'anic verse or hadith in its support. Abu Bakr (ra) used to say: "Which heaven will shelter me, and which earth will support me if I said about Allah's Book, that which I have no knowledge of." Abu Yezid said: "We used to ask Sa`id ibn al‑Musayyib about the ‘lawful' and the ‘unlawful' and would find him the most knowledgeable of men. But when we asked him about a verse of the Qur'an as to how it was to be understood, he would be quiet, turning a deaf ear to us."

Al-Tafsir 'l‑Ishari (Allegorical Interpretation)
By nature, man is awed by the mysterious. It is the inexplicable, the symbolical, and the mysterious that engage his attention. The obvious and the clear‑cut escape him. To seek a solution to a riddle or the meaning of an allegory is a task he undertakes with enthusiasm. The allegorical verses of the Qur'an have provided grist to the minds of its scholars and there have been several interpretations proffered to explain them. Some of these are not readily acceptable and raise controversies. The best course of action about them when they are authentically quoted, by authoritative people, but which seemingly contradicts ideas of the Salaf, is to make no judgment about their acceptance or rejection.
In this work the use of Tafsir 'l Ishari has been restricted. It is inadvisable to read them without the guidance of a specialist. Thanwi’s Masa'il al‑Suluk as footnotes to his Urdu Bayan al‑Qur'an, is of this class. So are Alusi’s notes under this heading.
Nevertheless, it should also be borne in mind that every passage whose meaning is not obvious is not necessarily of the allegorical type, nor is the Qur'an entirely without them. There are some portions of the Qur'an whose true meaning the human mind might never be able to unravel. Ibn `Abbas has said: "There are four kinds of meanings: a) that which is apparent to the Arabs because it is in their language, b) that whose meaning no one can deny on the pretext of ignorance, c) the meaning that is the share of the scholars alone, and, d) the meaning that no one knows save Allah and His Messenger."
Further, one may note that there are Qur’anic texts whose meanings would be understood at the time of death, or subsequent to it.

Application
Following the Qur'anic method, we might end with what we started with. Application is part of the study. One will not travel much on the road if he failed to live by the instructions and inspirations that he received with the study. The Qur'an is the Word of Allah. It has been sent to guide the people. But it guides only those who are willing to be guided. As Rumi has said, the Qur’an is a closed book except for the true ardent seeker; to which we might add, ‘those who would care to apply.’
A further condition is to avoid sins of all kinds. The following is reported to have been said by Imam Shafe`i:

شكوت إلى وكيع سوء حفظى * فأرشدنى إلى ترك المعاصى
وأخـبرنى بـأن العـلم نور * ونور الله لايهدى لعاصى

I complained to Waki` of my forgetfulness
He guided me to give up sins
And taught me that knowledge is Light
And Allah’s Light is not shown to the sinner

The student of the Qur'an will have to develop his mind in such a way as to be skeptical of everything that the senses report, doubt every opinion that is formed by the intellect, and question every information that comes from non‑revealed sources. In the next step, he will have to test all of them against the Qur'an and reject any that contradicts it in word or spirit. Ibn Mas`ud (ra) said: "During the life-time of the Prophet, we used to take ten verses of the Qur'an for study and would not move on to the next ten until we had lived by those ten." It is reported of `Umar ibn al‑Khattab (ra) that he finished surah al‑Baqarah in seven years. According to a report he was so happy at its completion that he slaughtered a camel and invited his friends to a feast.
We can conclude with Zarkashi's remarks. He writes in Al‑Burhan fi `Ulum al‑Qur'an:

"In the final analysis, the derivation of the meaning of the Qur'an is largely dependent on a man's own thoughts and reflections. Let it be known, therefore, that the true meaning of the revelation and the secrets of the veiled knowledge will never be the share of a man whose heart is filled with innovations, or who insists on a sin, or in whose heart resides pride or base desires or love of the world, or that he be of an uncertain faith, or poor of discernment, or dependent on the opinions of a mufassir who has knowledge only of the externals (`ilm al-zahir), or gives precedence to his own thoughts and ideas (during the process of thinking). All these are veils and obstacles, some of which are of greater impedance than others.
"(In contrast), if the man pays full attention to the words of His Lord, is receptive to the meaning that the Attributes of the One addressing him unfold themselves, is always aware of His powers, abandons his own self-established conclusions based on reason and intellect, renounces his own powers and abilities, is ever mindful of the greatness of the Speaker, beseeching Him the grant of the meaning: and all this from a personal state of integrity, a good-natured heart, with the power of knowledge, of a calm disposition to gather the meaning, and to wait for the missed meaning seeking (Divine) help through Prayers and Supplications, (the supplications themselves) presented with the weakness (of the human against Powers of the Divine), and observing patience while waiting for the mind to be opened by Him who is the Opener, the Knowing; and he who strengthens these qualities with a recitation during which his mind is fully attentive to the verbal meaning and bears witness to the Attributes of the One addressing him by anxiously waiting for the promises (of the opening of the heart coming true), and fearing the calamities (that may befall him for his failings), and who warns forcefully .. such is the one who has a good voice for the Qur'an and it is about him that Allah Most High has said (2:121): ‘Those to whom we have given the Book, read it in the manner it should be read. It is these who believe in it'" (p. 180-81, vol.2).

The Methodology in this Work
It has been this writer's endeavor to present in this work, principally, the meaning of the Qur'an as understood by the classical scholars. That is, in the light of the Qur'an itself, traditions of the Prophet and statements of the Companions and their followers. To achieve this, the author first consulted Ibn Jarir Tabari. Since Ibn Jarir was a Muhaddith himself, he did not cite sources to the hadith, or to statements of the Companions that he quoted. Citing the sources was done by Ibn Kathir. Therefore, Ibn Kathir was next consulted. However, Ibn Kathir did not cite sources to the statements of the Salaf. This was done, to some degree, by Shawkani. So, he was consulted next. Although Ibn Kathir cited hadith sources, he did not state the authenticity-status of ahadith. In such cases, this author tried to search the opinion of Hadith Doctors, to add a note about their reliability. Further, if there were differences in opinions over the meaning of a certain verse, Ibn Kathir preferred to adopt the opinion of Ibn Jarir, which, this author indicated. Thus, a meaning emerged as of the Salaf. The translation of the verses reflects this meaning. The author suppressed his own opinion, for whose credibility he lacks the qualification, unless it was a scientific issue, historical, geographical or the like.
Thereunto, the author added the opinions of various other commentators, taking care of course, that such opinions did not clash with the opinions of the Salaf, for in matters of Law, morals (Akhlaq), and spiritual matters, the Salaf were the true authority. The way the first three generations understood the Qur’an, was never understood by any after them. It is they who changed the world, the way no generation could. If a headstrong person thinks that someone’s understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah, was, or is, as good as that of the Salaf, and as accurate, he might need a course on how `ilm is defined in Islam. Ibn Sirin, a prominent Tabe`i said, “Knowledge is gone. What’s left of it is bits and pieces, scattered among the scholars.” Hasan al-Basri, his contemporary, was told by someone that the “Fuqaha’ say so and so.” He corrected him, “Have you ever seen a Faqih?”

An additional note about the commentaries made by the Companions and their followers might be in order. The Prophet has said: "The best of epochs is my epoch, then that of the Followers, and then that of the Followers." He was referring to the epoch followed by his own, and that of the Companions and the Tabe`iyyun. There were many Companions of the Prophet who received his special attention and specialized in the Qur'an during his life‑time itself. In turn they tutored many among the Tabe`iyyun. The term Salaf applies mainly to these: i.e., the Companions and the two succeeding generations, plus the third (because of some reports). Their opinion is the approved opinion. If they agree over the meaning of a particular word, or a verse, and the issue is purely of a religious nature as indicated above, then any other opinion that contradicts it and cannot be reconciled with it, stands rejected. Of course, there is no such restriction when the subject concerned is of historical, geographical or scientific nature, for, these disciplines were developed after them. Some contemporary commentaries tend to give new meanings to some Qur’anic terms. If they clash with those of the Salaf, they must be ignored; for, the Salaf knew the ‘Arabic of the Qur’an,’ and not the Arabic of those who refer to dictionaries and literary works developed after them to argue their case. `Umar used to say, “If you are in doubt, refer to the Jahiliyy poetry. The Qur’an was revealed in that language.”

The opinions of the Salaf might sometimes surprise the reader. He might consider them as entirely out of context. But, it is the failure to understand the context that creates the confusion. "Jump the line" is a sentence in English that conveys different meanings to different people in different situations. To a sportsman it has one meaning. When spoken by a motorist complaining of the erratic behavior of another motorist it has another meaning. In contrast, to an electrician working on the power grid, the sentence carries a different sense altogether. What we have to realize about the Companions is that they did not merely understand the context; they were themselves the context, and often spoke from the transcendental level; not from the stand point of the misleading cliché of modern times: ‘reason and logic.’

If the reader wishes to make the most of this work, he or she should allocate an area in his mind wherein he stores information obtained from the Salaf, in this work. This is the principal, the most reliable meaning, and the basis on which he can build on further. He might highlight such passages for ease of later reference.

Nonetheless, in order to keep alive interest and help increase knowledge, I have also included material that has so far been the prerogative of the Arabic‑speaking readers: material without which the Qur'anic spectrum of legitimate meaning loses some of its color.
To the above I have added some useful material from commentaries in Urdu and English. But of course, while selecting material from contemporary works, a critical eye has been kept open for errors of the conceptual type and, to the extent possible, those that contradict with a meaning accepted by the Jumhur al‑Ummah (the great majority). Jumhur al‑Ummah is of course not the same thing as the Ijma` al‑Ummah (the consensus of opinion ‑ the research of which is a difficult task, well beyond the scope of this work). The opinions of the Jumhur give us some idea of how the Qur'an has been understood through the ages. When Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Thanwi or others consider a point from the previous exegetes as worth quoting, then surely that adds up to the weight of the comment.
I have not reproduced from, or cited reference to, the contemporary commentators if they have discussed those matters that the ancients have already done. In most cases the contemporary scholars have changed the form, picking out from the ancients what would suit them most. I have quoted them only if they have a new idea or a fresh point, with the condition, once again, that such ideas do not, in my limited knowledge, contradict a proven opinion held by the Salaf or Jumhu al-Ummah. Anecdotes, poetry, fiqh points, and comparative study material have been added to break the monotony.

A word about quotations from the Sufiya' would be in order. We all know that an unclean person in dirty clothes would hardly improve himself by applying perfume. He first needs to cleanse himself. How can it be any different in matters pertaining to the soul? A heart filled with pride or preferential love of this world will hardly improve through wisdom-words or supererogatory exercises. Something needs to be done first to remove the impurities. Sufism is all about this removal of impurities. This centrist position however, lies between two extremes. It should not be imagined that by quoting the Sufiya' we are approving the extreme positions, practices, or the so‑called "ways of the Gnostic" that have no basis in the Shari`ah.

Hadith Authenticity
The most difficult task has been to present only those ahadith or reports from the Companions or others that are authentic, since no noteworthy work has been done by the hadith experts on Qur'anic commentaries. Mahmud Shakir's attempt at Tabari has remained incomplete. Hussain b. Ibrahim and Sayyid Ibrahim have done some useful, although not exhaustive work on Ibn Kathir and Shawkani. Occasionally, I have either traced the ahadith to their sources, and when not in the Sahih works, have depended on works on the topic by Hadith experts. I have tried not to quote anything less than Hasan in status. If I have quoted some weak reports, it is only those that are not very weak or are strengthened by other, although weak, ahadith, or the personal opinions of the Companion or others.

Ideological Interpretations
Some readers might be surprised to note the lack of a single string of thought in this work, as it is also lacking in classical commentaries: one strand, so to say, that weaves into itself the "philosophy of the whole of the Qur'an." This is a naive idea. To speak of the Qur'an in such terms is to presume a certain meaning, a certain philosophy, a certain ideology, and reduce the Word of Allah to human definitions.
It is common knowledge that this terrestrial existence is too complex to be interpreted in terms of a single philosophy. Life cannot be reduced to equations. Even the inorganic does not render itself to such simplification. At this very moment, scientists at a billion dollar apiece Accelerators (commonly known as atom smashers) are at their wit’s end trying to determine if the building blocks of an atom (which were once thought to be electrons, protons, neutrons and a few other elementary particles) are quarks, those 300 subatomic particles visible for a fraction of a second when the nucleus is smashed with highly accelerated protons, or there is more to it. No one can say for sure if there will be an end to it!! The wave and particle function of the sub-atomic particles is another intriguing issue. If solid matter is proving so complex, what should one think of the uncreated ‘Word’ of Allah?
Moreover, such a demand betrays the failure to understand the very basics of life in terms of human fears, hopes, aspirations, creativity and interactions. At every moment of his existence a man has several options before him, only one of which is the optimum best for him. What can guide him to the right choice but a criterion backed by a vast set of concepts, data and ideas that have their own quality to fuse themselves, in a flash of a second, into one homogenized whole and present a single, synchronized, workable idea or a suggestion ‑ that the man may accept or reject!?
Again, the Qur'an is, from one angle, a long essay in the education of concepts: the divisions are for human convenience. No detail can be missed in any area but at the loss of a concept; sometimes it might be the most valuable concept acting as the central link to a maze of ideas, and, a powerful magnet to iron flakes flying by in every direction. Hence the presentation in the style I have adopted. The reader will have to pick up bits and pieces, and put them together into a homogenous meaningful whole that is pertinent to his situation, and would be useful perhaps to him alone.

Acknowledgment
Rarely has a work of such dimensions and a task so demanding been attempted by a man as poorly qualified as this author. Yet, no efforts were spared to locate material necessary to produce the "aid for understanding the Qur'an" that he has aimed at producing. Although, it must be admitted, that efforts are no substitute for abilities.
The author’s dependence, therefore, on those who are pioneers in similar efforts should be quite evident. In the rendering of the Qur'anic text into English for instance, A.J. Arberry's influence can be easily detected. Yusuf `Ali, Asad and Pickthall have been in constant reference. N.J. Dawood and several others have also been consulted. To make it easier for the beginners and non‑Muslims (and following the recommendation of the fuqaha'), words and phrases have been added in parenthesis while rendering the text into English. Such interpolations are, nonetheless, based on an accepted interpretation.
Without trying to be humble, it can be said with a fair amount of accuracy that for all that is good and useful in this work, the credit is due to someone else, while the shortcomings are the contributions of this author who seeks Allah's forgiveness, and the reader's help in overcoming them.

Syed Iqbal Zaheer
March 2015

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References, abbreviations, and technical terms

Clue to References
Ahmad: Musnad by Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal (d. 241 A.H.).
Albani: Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahiha, Muhammad Nasiruddin Albani, (d. 1420 A.H.).
Albani: Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Da`eefah wa al-Mawdu`ah, Muhammad Nasirudding Albani, , Al-Maktab al-Islami.
Alusi/Ruh: Ruh al Ma`ani Fi Tafsir Qur’an al `Azim Wa al Sab` al Mathani by Shihab al Din Sayyid Mahmood Alusi (d.1291 A.H.)
`Aqidah: `Aqidah Tahawiyyah, commentary Ibn Abi al-`Izz, (tr. By Syed Iqbal Zaheer, as Funamentals of Islamic Creed), World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Dammam, Saudi Arabia
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Hussain: Tafsir ibn Kathir, Hussain b. Ibrahim Zahran, ed.
Ibn Is-haq: Sirah Rasulullah, by Muhammad ibn Ishaq (d. 151 A.H.).
Ibn Jarir/Tabari: Jami` al Bayan Fi Tafsir al Qur’an by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d.310 A.H.)
Ibn Kathir: Tafsir al Qur’an al `Azim by `Imad al Din Abul Fida Isma`il ibn `Amr ibn Kathir (d.774 A.H.)
Ibn Majah, Sunan, Muhammad b. Yazid al-Qazwini, Maktabah al-`Ilmiyyah, Beirut.
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Jami` Saghir: Fayd al-Qadir Sharh Jami` Saghir (of Jalaluddin Suyuti) by Muhammad `Abdul Ra’uf al-Munawi.
Kabir al: Al-Tafsir Al-Kabir, tafsir notes of Imam Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728 A.H) collected by Dr. `Abdul Rahman `Umayrah.
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Ma`arif /Shafi`: Ma`arif al Qur’an by Mufti Muhammad Shafi` Deobandi (d. 1396 A.H.).
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Mughni al, Ibn Qudamah, al-Maqdisi, Ri’asat al-Idaratu al-Buuth al-`Ilmiyyah, Saudi Arabia.
Mulhim: Fath al-Mulhim, Shabbir Ahmad `Uthmani, and, Takmilatu Fath al-Mulhim, Taqiuddin `Uthmani, Dar al-Ulum, Karachi.
Muwatta’: Muwatta’ by Imam Malik ibn Anas (d. 179 A.H.).
Nasa’i, Ahmad b. Shu`ayb, Sunan al-Nasa’i, Dar al-Rayyan li al-Turath, Cairo.
Nawawi: Sharh Sahih Muslim by Imam Sharfuddin al-Nawawi (d. 261 A.H.)
Penrice: A Dictionary and Glossary of the Qur’an, John Penrice, Gaurav Publishing House, 187
Qurtubi: Al-Jam`i Li ‘l Ahkam al Qur’an by Abu `Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahmad al Ansari al Qurtubi (d.671 A.H.)
Raghib: Mu`jam Mufradat al-Qur’an by al-Raghib al-Asfahani (d. 503 A.H.)
Rawa‘e`: Rawa‘e` al-Bayan Tafsir Ayat al-Ahkam by Muhammad `Ali Sabuni.
Razi: Tafsir al Fakhr al Razi by Muhammad al-Razi Fakhr al Din ibn Dia al Din `Umar (d.604 A.H.)
Sabuni: Safwatu al Tafasir by Muhammad `Ali Sabuni.
Sahih ibn Hibban bi-Tarteeb Ibn Balban, `Ala’uddin `Ali b. Balban, , Mu’assasah al-Risalah, Beirut.
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Se`di: Taysir al-Karim al-Rahman, fir Tafsir al-Mannan, `Abdul Rahman b. Nasir Se`id.
Shawkani: Al-Fut-h al-Qadir by Muhammad ibn `Ali Shawkani (d.1255 A.H.)
S. Ibrahim: Ed. Al-Fath al-Qadir, by Shawkani
Sihah: Taj al-Lugha wa Sihah al-`Arabiyyah, Isma`il b. Nasr Hammad al-Jawhari, 393 A.H.
Sirah: Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah fi Daw Masadir al-Athliyyah, Dr. Mahdi Rizqallah, Saudi Arabia 1992.
Sayyid Qutb/Qutb/Zilal: Fi Zilal al Qur’an by Sayyid Qutb (d.1386 A.H.).
Thanwi/Bayan: Bayan al Qur’an by Ashraf `Ali Thanwi (d.1361 A.H.)
Tuhfah: Tuhfah al-Ahwazi bi Sharh Jami` al-Tirmidhi by Muhammad ibn `Abdul Rahman Mubarakpuri.
Yusuf Ali: The Glorious Qur’an, Meaning and Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (d. 1953 A.H.).
Zafar Ahmad `Uthmani, I`la al-Sunan, Idaratu al-Islam wa `Ulum al-Islamiyyah, Karachi, Pakistan.
Zamakhshari/Kashshaf: Haqa’iq al- Tanzil Wa `Uyun al-Aqawil Fi Wujuh at-Ta‘wil by Abu al-Qasim Jarallah Mahmood b.`Umar al-Zamakhshari (d.538 A.H.).
Zarkashi: Al-Burhan Fi `Ulum al-Qur’an by Badruddin Muhammad bin `Abdullah al-Zarkashi (d. 794 A.H.), Dar al-Ma`rifa, Beirut.
Note: The list above is not a complete bibliography, but rather books sort of more often referred.

________________________

Abbreviations as in
Abdul Majid Daryabadi’s English Commentary

(1) BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
Ac. = Acts of the Apostles.
Am. = Amos.
1. Ch. = The First Book of the Chronicles.
2. Ch. = The Second Book of the Chronicles.
1. Cor. = Paul’s First Epistle of the Apostles.
1. Ch. = The First Book of the Chronicles.
2. Ch. = The Second Book of the Chronicles.
1. Cor. = Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.
2. Cor. = Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
Dn. = The Book of Daniel.
Dt. = Deuteronomy: The Fifth Book of Moses.
Ex. = Exodus: The Second Book of Moses.
Ez. = Ezra.
Ezek. = The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.
Ga. = Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.
Ge. = Genesis: The First Book of Moses.
He. = Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews.
Ho. = Hosea.
Is. = Isiah.
Ja. = The General Epistle of James.
Jn. = Gospel according to St. John.
Jo. = Joel.
Job. = The Book of Job.
Jon. = The Book of Jonah.
Josh. = The Book of Joshua.
Judg. = The Book of Judges.
Je. = The Book of Jeremiah.
1. Ki. = The First Book of the Kings.
2. Ki. = The Second Book of the Kings.
La. The Lamentations of Jeremiah.
Lk. = The Gospel according to St. Luke.
Le. = Leviticus: The Third Book of Moses.
Mi. = Micah.
Mk. = Gospel according to St. Mark.
Mt. = Gospel according to St. Matthew.
Na. = Nahum.
Ne. = The Book of Nehemiah.
Nu. = Numbers: The Fourth Book of Moses.
1. Pe. = The First Epistle General of Peter.
2. Pe. = The Second Epistle General of Peter.
Ph. = Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians.
Pr. = The Proverbs.
Ps. = The Book of Psalms.
Re. = The Revelation of St. John.
Ro. = Paul’s Epistle to the Romans
1. Sa. = The First Book of Samuel.
2. Sa. = The Second Book of Samuel.
So. = The Song of Solomon.
1. Thes. = Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians.
2. Thes. = Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians.
1. Ti. = Paul’s First Epistle to Timothy.
2. Ti. = Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy.
Tt. = Paul’s Epistle to Titus.
Ze. = Zechariah.

(2) GENERAL
“Ant.” = Josephus’ ‘Antiquities of the Jews.’ (Routledge London).
Aq. = Shah Abdul Qadir Dehlavi (D. 1241 A.H./1826 C.E.). Urdu translator and commentator of the Holy Qur’an.
ASB. = Asad’s English Translation of Sahih al-Bukhari.
AV. = Authorized Version of the Bible.
AYA. = `Abdullah Yusuf `Ali. English translator and commentator of the Holy Qur’an.
Bdh. = Nasir-ud-Din `Abdullah Baidhavi (D. 685 A.H./1282 C.E.). Commentator of the Holy Qur’an.
BK. = ‘Book of Knowledge,’ 4 Vols. (Educational Book Co., London)
CD. = Pallen and Wynne’s ‘New Catholic Dictionary.’ (New York).
CE. = McDannell’s ‘Concise Encyclopedia,’ 8 Vols. (New York).
C.E. = Christian Era.
DB. = Hastings’ ‘Dictionary of the Bible,’ 5 Vols. (Clarke, London).
DCA. = Smith and Cheetham’s ‘Dictionary of Christian Antiquities,’ 2 Vols. (Murray, London).
DV. = Douay Version of the Bible.
EBi. = Cheyne and Black’s ‘Encyclopedia Biblica,’ 4 Vols. (Black, London).
EBr. = ‘Encyclopedia Britannica,’ 29 Vols. 11th Edition. (London).
Encyclopedia Britannica,’ 24 Vols. 14th Edition. (London and New York). Where no edition is specified, the reference is to 14th edition.
EI. = Houtsma and Wensink’s ‘Encyclopedia of Islam,’ 5 Vols. (Luzac, London).
EMK. = Hammerton’s ‘Encyclopedia of Modern Knowledge,’ 5 Vols. (Waverly, New York).
ERE. = Hastings’ ‘Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics,’ 13 Vols. (Clarke, London).
ESS. = Seligman’s ‘Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences,’ 15 Vols. (Macmillan, London).
FWN = Frazer’s ‘Worship of Nature,’ 2 Vols. (Macmillan, London).
GB. = Ragg’s ‘The Gospel of Barnabas.’ (Oxford).
GRE. = Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,’ 7 Vols. (Methuen, London).
HHW. = ‘Historians’ History of the World,’ 25 Vols. (The Times, London).
HJ. = The Hibbert Journal. (Constable, London).
IA. = Hadhrat `Abdullah Ibn-i-`Abbas. (D. 68 A.H./688 C.E.) (A companion and cousin of the Holy Prophet).
IQ. = Ibn-i-Qutaiba. (D. 276 A.H./890 C.E.) Author of ‘Arabic Glossary of the Holy Qur’an.
JE. = ‘The Jewish Encyclopedia,’ 12 Vols. (Funk and Wagnalls, New York).
LL. = Lane’s ‘Arabic-English Lexicon,’ 8 Vols. (Williams and Norgate, London).
LSK. = Lane and Lane-Poole’s ‘Selections from the Kuran.” (Trubner, London).
M.A. = Maulana Mohammad `Ali: (D. 1349 A.H./1931 C.E.) Indian Muslim leader. (Not to be confused with his namesake of Lahore and a translator of the Qur’an). The references are to his unpublished work, ‘Islam: The Kingdom of God’ (since published as ‘My Life – A Fragment’ by Sh. M. Ashraf, Lahore).
NSD. = ‘New Standard Dictionary of the English Language,’ 4 Vols. (Funk and Wagnalls, New York).
NT. = The New Testament.
OT. = The Old Testament.
PC. = Tyler’s ‘Primitive Culture,’ 2 Vols. (Murray, London).
RV. = Revised Version of the Bible.
RZ. = Imam Fakhruddin Razi. (D. 659 A.H./1209 C.E.). Well-know commentator of the Holy Qur’an.
SOED. = ‘Shorter Oxford English Dictionary,’ 2 Vols. (Oxfor).
SPD. = Sale’s ‘Preliminary Discourse to the Translation of the Kuran,’ prefixed as Introduction to Wherry’s ‘Commentary on the Kuran,’ 4 Vols. (Trubner, London)
Th. = Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanvi. (B. 1280 A.H./1864 C.E.). Translator and commentator of the Holy Qur’an
UHW. = Hammerton’s ‘Universal History of the World,’ 8 Vols. (New York).
VJE. = Vallentine’s ‘One Volume Jewish Encyclopedia.’ (London).
WGAL. = Wright’s ‘Grammar of the Arabic Language,’ 2 Vols. (Cambridge).
Zm. = Jar-ul-lah Zamakhsari (D. 538 A.H./1144 C.E.). Commentator of the Holy Qur’an.

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Abbreviations - General
asws: `Alayhi al‑Salat wa al‑Salam (on him be peace and blessing).
ra: Radi Allahu `anhu/`anha (may Allah be pleased with him/her).
Au.: Author.
Sahihayn: Bukhari and Muslim.
saws: Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam (May Allah send peace and blessing upon him).
swt: Subhanahu wa Ta`ala (glorified be He, the Exalted).

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Technical Terms
Da`if: A weak report but not a fabricated one nor entirely untrustworthy. It has some weakness in its text or in its isnad. A kind of hadith, therefore, before which one can place a question mark.
Gharib: That report in which the isnad has a single narrator after the Companion.
Hasan: A da`if report but above in strength over the one classified as da`if. Several da`if versions (unless too weak) render a hadith hasan.
Isnad: Chain of narrators.
Mawquf: A report whose chain of narration stops at a Companion.
Munkar: A kind of da`if hadith that has no other report through any other chain of narrators for a double check.
Mursal: A hadith which has been transmitted directly from the Prophet (saws) by a tabe`i, without a Companion in between Mutawatir: A report by such a large number of narrators whose agreement upon a lie is inconceivable.
Sahih: A trustworthy report.

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Transliteration
The transliteration method used in this work neither conforms to the international standards, nor it has been applied extensively. It is only where it was thought that some confusion might occur that a few marks have been added. However, the method is as follows:
( ث ) is transliterated as "tha" ; ( ح ) as "ha" ; ( ذ ) as "dhal" ; ( ز ) and ( ظ ) both as "za" ; ( ص ) as "sad" ; ( ض ) as "dad" ; ( ع ) as "`ayn" ; and hamza ( ه ) as “ ' “ e.g. Jibra’il.

______________________

Vowels
Vowels have been expressed in the following manner
( ا ) is expressed as "a", so that ( باب ) is written as "bab" ; (و ) is expressed with "u" , as for example ( نون ) is written as "nun"; ( ي ) is expressed with "i", as in the word (سين ) which is written as "sin".

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  • Surah No. 25

    Relationship
    Yusuf Ali has the following to state as relationship between this and the previous chapter: “This Surah further develops the contrast between Light and Darkness, as symbolical of knowledge and ignorance, righteousness and sin, spiritual progress and degradation. It closes with a definition of the deeds by which the righteous are known in the environment of this world.”
    1. The Sahihayn and several other books have recorded `Umar ibn al-Khattab as saying:

    سَمِعْتُ هِشَامَ بْنَ حَكِيمِ بْنِ حِزَامٍ يَقْرَأُ سُورَةَ الْفُرْقَانِ فِي حَيَاةِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَاسْتَمَعْتُ لِقِرَاءَتِهِ فَإِذَا هُوَ يَقْرَأُ عَلَى حُرُوفٍ كَثِيرَةٍ لَمْ يُقْرِئْنِيهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَكِدْتُ أُسَاوِرُهُ فِي الصَّلَاةِ فَتَصَبَّرْتُ حَتَّى سَلَّمَ فَلَبَّبْتُهُ بِرِدَائِهِ فَقُلْتُ مَنْ أَقْرَأَكَ هَذِهِ السُّورَةَ الَّتِي سَمِعْتُكَ تَقْرَأُ قَالَ أَقْرَأَنِيهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقُلْتُ كَذَبْتَ فَإِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَدْ أَقْرَأَنِيهَا عَلَى غَيْرِ مَا قَرَأْتَ فَانْطَلَقْتُ بِهِ أَقُودُهُ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقُلْتُ إِنِّي سَمِعْتُ هَذَا يَقْرَأُ بِسُورَةِ الْفُرْقَانِ عَلَى حُرُوفٍ لَمْ تُقْرِئْنِيهَا فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَرْسِلْهُ اقْرَأْ يَا هِشَامُ فَقَرَأَ عَلَيْهِ الْقِرَاءَةَ الَّتِي سَمِعْتُهُ يَقْرَأُ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَذَلِكَ أُنْزِلَتْ ثُمَّ قَالَ اقْرَأْ يَا عُمَرُ فَقَرَأْتُ الْقِرَاءَةَ الَّتِي أَقْرَأَنِي فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَذَلِكَ أُنْزِلَتْ إِنَّ هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ أُنْزِلَ عَلَى سَبْعَةِ أَحْرُفٍ فَاقْرَءُوا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنْهُ

    I heard Hisham b. Hakeem reciting Surah al-Furqaan during the life of the Messenger. I paid attention to his recitation and in many words different from what I had been taught by the Prophet. I could hardly hold myself from pounding on him during the Prayers, but decided to be patient until he would finish. When he was finished I wrapped him in my cloak and asked him who had taught him recite the Surah he had recited that way. He answered that it was the Prophet himself who had taught him that way. I denounced him as a liar and took him to the Prophet. I complained to him that he was reciting in a way different from what he had taught me.” He said, “Release him.” Then he said, “Recite to us O Hisham.” He recited in the manner I had heard him recite. The Prophet remarked, “That is how it was revealed.” Then he said, “Recite to us, O `Umar.” “So I recited in the manner he had taught me.” The Prophet remarked, “That is how it was revealed. This Qur’an has been revealed following seven letters. Therefore, recite what of it is easy to you” (Shawkani).
    There is no consensus of opinion over what was meant by “seven letters.” But perhaps the most logical one is that some words of the Qur’an could be read in more than one way, but not more than seven ways. This is Ibn Hajr’s opinion as in Fat-h. To cite an example, the word “tukallimuhum” of Surah Al-Naml, verse 82 has been variously read as “taklimuhum” and “tunabbi’uhum.” Or, “Maalik” of Surah al-Fatiha has also been read as “Malik.” Or the word “khalifah” has also been read as “khaliqah.” In all cases, it hardly matters how they are read because they yield meanings close to each other (Au.).
    2. Reports suggest that this Surah has Makkan and Madinan verses mixed up together (Qurtubi). Dahhak and Muqatil have said that this Surah was revealed 8 years before the revelation of Surah al-Nisa’ (Mawdudid from Tabari and Razi at verse 68). Its date has no significance (Yusuf Ali).

    بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ الْفُرْقَانَ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ لِيَكُونَ لِلْعَالَمِينَ نَذِيرًا (1)

    25|1| Blessed3 is He who sent down4 the Criterion5 upon His slave,6 that he may be a warner7 unto the worlds.8

    3. The meaning of “tabaaraka” as given here reflects the understanding of Ibn `Abbas as in Ibn Jarir, and of Zajjaj as in Qurtubi.
    The report about Ibn `Abbas is in Ibn Abi Hatim also (Shawkani).
    Linguistically however, as Zamakhshari, Razi and others point out, the word in the root is barakah which means increase in (all kinds of) good and beneficence. In this case, tabaaraka would point to overflow of benefits and goodness from Allah. It is outflow of good that resulted in the revelation of the Qur’an, and hence the importance of knowledge (Razi). There have been other explanations, quite philosophic, by Razi (though in greater detail by Alusi) while Qurtubi, as well as others inform us that the root word leads us to another meaning: that of permanence and eternity of Allah’s Attributes.
    Ibn al-Qayyim explains that the attribution of “barakah” to Allah means attribution of the Qualities of mercy, power and honor to Him. In verb form the word becomes “tabaaraka” which is applicable only to Allah and none else. Hence, he on whom He bestowed “barakah” is mubaarak, e.g., the mubaarak Book, the mubaarak Messenger, etc. Here, however, as well as in all other places in the Qur’an, the word “tabaaraka” has been used as an adjective and not as a verb (Badaa’i`).
    Yusuf Ali adds: “Tabaaraka: the root meaning is "increase" or "abundance". Here that aspect of Allah's dealing with His creatures is emphasised, which shows abundant goodness to all His creatures, in that He sent the Revelation of His Will, not only in the unlimited Book of Nature, but in a definite Book in human language, which gives clear directions and admonitions to all. The English word ‘blessed’ hardly conveys that meaning.”
    4. The textual word for “sending down” is “nazzala” which is a verb form used for expressing exaggeration or emphasis. Here it has been used to emphasize the gradual, and therefore, fragmentized sending down of the revelation as against the previous Scriptures that were sent down as one whole (Ibn Kathir). As Allah said (3: 3), points out Razi:

    {نَزَّلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَأَنْزَلَ التَّوْرَاةَ وَالْإِنْجِيلَ} [آل عمران: 3]

    “He has sent down upon you the Book with the truth, confirming that which preceded it (as) He sent down the Tawrah and the Injil.”
    In this ayah, Allah used two different words for two different Revelations. He used nazzala for the Qur’an, while anzala (which is for sending down in one installment) for Torah and Injeel.
    5. Yusuf Ali comments on “al-furqaan”: “That by which we can judge clearly between right and wrong. Here the reference is to the Qur’an, which has already been symbolised by light. This symbol is continued here, and many contrasts are shown, in the midst of which we can distinguish between the true and the false by Allah's Light, especially the contrast between righteousness and sin.þ”
    A second meaning, as most commentators have pointed out, is that of a separator – from faraqa: to separate – in this case, the separator of truth and falsehood.”
    6. `Abd (slave) is an honorific title. The best that one can do is to be an `abd of Allah. When Allah uses the term for a person, it means He holds that person in high repute. Hence, on all important occasions Prophet Muhammad was referred to as an `abd in the Qur`an (Ibn Kathir).
    7. Ibn Zayd has said that the pronoun of li-yakuna is for the Prophet. He was and remains a warner unto the worlds. Allah said (35: 24),

    {وَإِنْ مِنْ أُمَّةٍ إِلَّا خَلَا فِيهَا نَذِيرٌ} [فاطر: 24]

    “And there hasn’t been a nation except a warner had been in it.”
    And (26: 208),

    {وَمَا أَهْلَكْنَا مِنْ قَرْيَةٍ إِلَّا لَهَا مُنْذِرُونَ} [الشعراء: 208]

    “And We did not destroy a town but it had its warners.”
    Initially, there was only one warner: the Messenger. After he had passed away, he became a warner unto everyone who received the message after him. The Qur’an said (6: 19),

    {وَأُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ هَذَا الْقُرْآنُ لِأُنْذِرَكُمْ بِهِ وَمَنْ بَلَغَ} [الأنعام: 19]

    “And this Qur’an has been revealed to me in order that I warn you and those whom it reaches.”
    That is, those that the Qur’an reaches. Hence the Prophet is a warner unto the worlds. The Qur’an told him to announce (7: 158),

    {قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا} [الأعراف: 158]

    “O people. I am indeed Allah’s Messenger unto you all.”
    Ibn Zayd also said that Allah never sent a Messenger to the entire world population except Nuh, with whom He began a new creation, and Muhammad, with whom He ended (the series) – Ibn Jarir.
    Qurtubi also explains the verse in the above manner.
    The Prophet said,

    بُعِثْتُ إِلَى النَّاسِ كَافَّةً الأَحْمَرِ وَالأَسْوَدِ

    “I have been sent to the entire mankind, the reds and the blacks.”
    The above report of Ahmad was evaluated as Hasan by Shu`ayb al-Arna’ud (Au.).
    He also said,

    أُعْطِيتُ خَمْسًا لَمْ يُعْطَهُنَّ أَحَدٌ قَبْلِي … وَكَانَ النَّبِيُّ يُبْعَثُ إِلَى قَوْمِهِ خَاصَّةً وَبُعِثْتُ إِلَى النَّاسِ عَامَّةً

    “I enjoy specialty in five things...and a Prophet used to be raised for his own people alone while I have been raised for the entire mankind.”
    He mentioned as fifth that while others were sent to a particular nation, he was sent to all the peoples (Ibn Kathir).
    Bukhari and Muslim recorded it (Au.).
    8. “The worlds” – i.e., (the worlds of) the Jinn and mankind (Zamakhshari, Razi).
    Sayyid adds: “The words, ‘that he may be a warner unto the worlds’ appearing in a Makkan Surah leave no room that from the first day of revelation this message was meant for all mankind; and not, as some historians state, that originally the message was for the Arabs alone; later, with the subjugation of the Arabs, the Prophet declared it for others too, as a later thought and introduction. This ayah disproves this theory.”

    الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَلَمْ يَتَّخِذْ وَلَدًا وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ شَرِيكٌ فِي الْمُلْكِ وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا (2)

    25|2| He to whom belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth; who did not take a son, nor He ever had any associate with Him in His Kingdom. He created every thing, then He determined its due proportion.9

    9. That is, created every being in form, shape, size, attributes, and potentialities in such a manner that each of them is able to perform its specific function in a precise manner (Zamakhshari).
    Majid writes: “Several pagan philosophers, such as Epicurus, denied in toto the Divine superintendence of human affairs, and this human self-sufficiency was echoed by the latter-day Jews. The Sadducees among them held that there was no such thing as ‘fate’, and that ‘human actions are not directed according to it, but all actions are in our own power, so that we are ourselves the cause of what is good.’ (DB. IV. p. 53) The Holy Qur’an corrects all such misconceptions and makes it clear that every event, big or small, that comes to pass in the universe, is the direct outcome of the All-Wise, All-Righteous, All-Powerful God, and not the subject either to chance or necessity, and that the governing hand of God is visible through every process of nature, through the march of history, and through the fortunes of every individual life, steadily working out His preconceived Plan.”

    وَاتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ آلِهَةً لَا يَخْلُقُونَ شَيْئًا وَهُمْ يُخْلَقُونَ وَلَا يَمْلِكُونَ لِأَنْفُسِهِمْ ضَرًّا وَلَا نَفْعًا وَلَا يَمْلِكُونَ مَوْتًا وَلَا حَيَاةً وَلَا نُشُورًا (3)

    25|3| Yet they have taken besides Him gods who do not create anything: in fact, are themselves created.10 They have no power to harm or benefit themselves, nor have power over death, or life, or resurrection.

    10. The idols of the idolaters are a good case in point. Their worshippers create them giving them forms and shapes, many of which are so terribly ugly, that were the idols given life, they would attack their creators for making them so ugly. The point is, the idols are themselves created beings which have no power over good or bad and yet they are worshipped! (Au., with a point from Zamakhshari).

    وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِنْ هَٰذَا إِلَّا إِفْكٌ افْتَرَاهُ وَأَعَانَهُ عَلَيْهِ قَوْمٌ آخَرُونَ ۖ فَقَدْ جَاءُوا ظُلْمًا وَزُورًا (4)

    25|4| But said those who disbelieved, ‘This is nothing but a slander that he has forged, and other people have helped him in it.’11 Surely, they have brought forth an injustice and an untruth.

    11. Mujahid said that when the Makkan pagans alleged that the Prophet had been assisted by some others in his forgery, their allusion was to the Jews (Ibn Jarir). But there were a few Makkans too who they alleged that they taught Muhammad (Qurtubi, Alusi and others).
    What prevented them, Razi and Qurtubi wonder, from seeking the help of “those others” and produce a similar Qur’an?
    And, what prevented them, wonders Mawdudi, from raiding the house of Muhammad, seize the relevant texts and place them before the public eye!?
    But when such replies are given, their modern counterparts, the Western Orientalists, scholars and scientists pretend not to be listening (Au.).

    وَقَالُوا أَسَاطِيرُ الْأَوَّلِينَ اكْتَتَبَهَا فَهِيَ تُمْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا (5)

    25|5| And they said, ‘Tales of the ancients12 that he has got written down which are dictated upon him morning and evening.’

    12. According to a report attributed to Ibn `Abbas and Ibn Jurayj, it was Nadr b. al-Harith, one of the Quraysh, a widely traveled man who used to say that the Qur’anic revelations were “tales of the ancients.” He would take the Prophet’s place after he had left an assembly, and narrate tales of Rustam, Isfandyar, Persians kings, and others, and ask, “Aren’t my tales better than the tales of the ancients that this man (Muhammad) narrates?” The Qur’an referred to him no less than eight times, and every time the words employed were, “tales of the ancients” – Ibn Jarir.
    Adds Ibn Kathir: This was a foolish and patently wrong statement from the pagans. It was commonly known that Muhammad did not learn how to read and write: neither in his childhood nor any time later in his life. He grew up right before their eyes from the day of his birth until he proclaimed Messengership at forty. They knew very well everything about him: his honesty, trustworthiness, righteousness, and that he was far away from lies, evil deeds and every unbecoming activity. But when Allah bestowed on him the great honor, they took to enmity and began to accuse him of things every reasonable person knew he was innocent of. Sometimes they said he was a magician, at other times that he was a poet, while on other occasions that he was mad, until Allah said, “See how they strike similitudes for you! Thus they went astray and will not be able (to find) a way.”

    قُلْ أَنْزَلَهُ الَّذِي يَعْلَمُ السِّرَّ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا (6)

    25|6| Say, ‘It has been sent down by Him who knows (every) secret of the heavens and the earth. He indeed is ever Forgiving, ever Merciful.’13

    13. That is, Allah, who knows the secrets of the heavens and the earth, also knows the plotting and scheming of the opponents of the Prophet’s call. He could have immediately punished them for their sins, but He is All-forgiving, All-merciful (Ibn Kathir, Zamakhshari, Razi and others).
    Another possibility is that they are being coaxed into seeking forgiveness from One who is All-Merciful (Alusi).
    Yusuf Ali writes: “The answer (to their objections) is that the Qur’an teaches spiritual knowledge of what is ordinarily hidden from men's sight, and such knowledge can only come from Allah, to Whom alone is known the secret of the whole Creation. In spite of man’s sin and shortcomings, He forgives, and He sends His most precious gift, i.e., the revelation of His Will.”

    وَقَالُوا مَالِ هَٰذَا الرَّسُولِ يَأْكُلُ الطَّعَامَ وَيَمْشِي فِي الْأَسْوَاقِ ۙ لَوْلَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مَلَكٌ فَيَكُونَ مَعَهُ نَذِيرًا (7)

    25|7| They (also) said, ‘What is with this Messenger that he eats food and walks about in the markets?14 Why an angel has not been sent down to him to be with him as a warner?

    14. While promising more details later, Qurtubi points out that going about in the markets – for a purpose - is not an impious habit. Thanwi’s penetrating mind brings out the idea that the undesirability reported in the ahaadith is for purposeless sauntering in the markets (today’s window-shopping: Au.). In fact, he adds, if someone doesn’t go into the markets out of pride, then his ‘not going about’ in them is undesirable, while going about would be commendable.
    What he means is that some people never go the markets out of pride, leaving it for the plebian. Also see note 26 below (Au.).
    Sayyid Qutb looks at other aspects: “Allah’s honoring of Man manifests itself in this .. but those who do not appreciate the worth of this creature (Man), nor the true meaning of Allah’s honor that Allah wished for him, refuse that humans should have contacts with Allah through revelation. They refuse that one of the humans should be a Messenger from Allah. They see that angels were more suitable. They ask, ‘Why an angel has not been sent down to him to be with him as a warner?’ ...
    “Allah’s wisdom manifests itself in the fact that one of the humans should appear as a Messenger unto the humans. It can only be one of the humans - who feels like they do, who experiences their emotions, who undergoes their experiences, who shares their hopes and fears, who knows their tendencies and delights, who knows their needs and burdens, and, in addition, is favorably disposed towards understanding their weaknesses and shortcomings, who has hopes in their strengths and their efforts to advance, who walks with them step by step, who understands their motives, sensitivities and responses: for, in the end he is one of them, who explores with them the way to Allah … through the revelations of Allah and seeks Divine help to face the hardships of the way – it can only be such a human who could be raised as a Messenger.
    “On the other hand, they find in him a model possible of imitation. For, he is a man like them, who seeks to raise them little by little. He lives among them bearing values, deeds and burdens about which he informs them that Allah has made obligatory on them and is desirous of them. Thus, he is in his own person a living explanation of the message that he brings to them. His life, his movements and his deeds are meant to be placed in front of them so that they could transfer them (unto themselves) line by line, and put into action, in the truest possible sense. They can aim to imitate him. For, he is a living example. Had he been an angel, they would not have thought of imitating his deeds nor to follow him, for, from the start they would have realized that his nature is different from their own. In that event, it would have been obvious that his behavior should be different from theirs, which would create no desire for imitation, nor any wish to conduct themselves in the light shown by him ...
    “One of naïve objections raised by the unbelievers was that the Messenger went about in the markets, seeking his livelihood… But Allah did not wish that he should possess a treasure or an orchard. He wished that he should be a complete example for them, who bore the responsibilities of messengership, while, at the same time struggled to earn his livelihood, as anyone of his followers did. So, that, no one of his followers who tired himself in earning his sustenance should say, ‘So far as the worldly needs are concerned, the Prophet had been taken care of. He never struggled to earn and hence was able to free himself for his beliefs, his message and his responsibilities thereof. He never faced any of the hardships (as I do).’ But, in actual fact, here was the Prophet, striving, in order to earn while he also struggled for his cause. So, the least that one of his followers can do today is to bear his own meager share of the Prophet’s burden. And he has his example before him. Yes, the Prophet did receive wealth later, toward the end of his life. That was in order that he should be an example of the other extreme also, and so that his example should remain complete. He did not allow the wealth that arrived to prevent him from any of his duties. But rather, he became like a wind unleashed in his generosity and came out the better when tested with wealth. So that, no one could say after him, ‘The Messenger lived in poverty, wealth never distracted him in any way.’ For, there he was, wealth coming to him in abundance, but he carried on as usual with his call, behaving those days as if he was poverty stricken.”

    أَوْ يُلْقَىٰ إِلَيْهِ كَنْزٌ أَوْ تَكُونُ لَهُ جَنَّةٌ يَأْكُلُ مِنْهَا ۚ وَقَالَ الظَّالِمُونَ إِنْ تَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا رَجُلًا مَسْحُورًا (8)

    25|8| Or, a treasure poured down on him,15 or he should have had an orchard he could eat therefrom.’16 The transgressors also said, ‘You follow not but a man bewitched.’

    15. That’s what Fir`awn had said about Musa (43: 53),

    {فَلَوْلَا أُلْقِيَ عَلَيْهِ أَسْوِرَةٌ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ أَوْ جَاءَ مَعَهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ مُقْتَرِنِينَ } [الزخرف: 53]

    “Then why not has he been given golden bangles or came with him angels (in) close company?” (Ibn Kathir).
    16. Qurtubi, Alusi and Shawkani repeat the story narrated by Ibn Is-haq involving `Utbah b. Rabi`ah, Abu Sufyan, Nadr b. al-Harith, Abu al-Bakhtari and several others seeking a compromise solution with the Prophet, during which they made demands of the nature mentioned in this verse. See surah al-Isra’ note 144.
    One can notice how the pagans came down in their demands. First they said “What’s with this Messenger that he eats food and walks about in the markets?” That is, why is he not an angel without the need to eat and drink? Then they scaled down their demand to say that if he could not have been an angel, then, at least there should have been an angel in his company. They said (verse 7), “Why an angel has not been sent down to him to be with him as a warner?” Then they dropped the demand that an angel should accompany him. Yet, some sort of special treatment was, according to them, in order. Therefore they suggested, “A treasure (should have been) poured down on him.” Finally, they scaled down to demanding that he could be a human like them in every sense except that at least economically he should be well off. So they demanded that “he should have had an orchard he could eat therefrom” (Zamakhshari).

    انْظُرْ كَيْفَ ضَرَبُوا لَكَ الْأَمْثَالَ فَضَلُّوا فَلَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ سَبِيلًا (9)

    25|9| Behold how they strike similitudes for you! Thus they went astray and will not be able (to find) a way.17

    17. This because the true path is one single path. Whoever lost it, will never find another, no matter in what direction he heads thereafter (Ibn Kathir).
    Mawdudi sums up: “These objections to the claim of Prophethood are not described here in order to refute them. Rather, they are mentioned simply to show the extent of the opponents’ blindness which arose from their spite and prejudice. Indeed, the charges so made against the Prophet were not even worth refuting. Rather, it was sufficient to mention them in order to demonstrate that they had no logical argument to support their contentions, and that they were opposing a sound and reasonable message with nothing more than vile and stupid statements. When they were told that polytheism, on which their faith and culture rested, was erroneous and devoid of every bias, they made no effort to marshal any rational arguments in support of their beliefs. Instead, they sought to decry the Prophet (peace be on him) by saying that he was a man bewitched. When the Messenger of God (peace be on him) demonstrated that monotheism was the operating principle of the whole universe and when he pointed to the manifest proofs which supported his truth, they merely rebuffed his claim by saying that he was no more than a magician.”

    تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي إِنْ شَاءَ جَعَلَ لَكَ خَيْرًا مِنْ ذَٰلِكَ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ وَيَجْعَلْ لَكَ قُصُورًا (10)

    25|10| Blessed is He who, if He wished, could give you better than all that: gardens underneath which rivers flow, and make for you palaces.

    بَلْ كَذَّبُوا بِالسَّاعَةِ ۖ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِمَنْ كَذَّبَ بِالسَّاعَةِ سَعِيرًا (11)

    25|11| But they have denied the Hour and We have prepared for him who denied the Hour a blazing Fire.18

    18. Sa`id b. Jubayr is reported to have said that Sa`eer of the text, rendered here as Blazing Fire, is thought to be a valley in Hellfire filled with pus (Ibn Kathir).

    إِذَا رَأَتْهُمْ مِنْ مَكَانٍ بَعِيدٍ سَمِعُوا لَهَا تَغَيُّظًا وَزَفِيرًا (12)

    25|12| When it sees them from a distant place, they will hear its raging and roaring.19

    19. Ibn `Abbas has said that a man will be dragged to the Fire, but it will withdraw some of it, folding upon others. The All-Merciful will ask her, “What’s the matter with you?” It will say, “He seeks refuge from me.” He will say, “Release My slave.” And, another man will be dragged to the Fire. He will say, “My Lord! This is not what I had hoped from You.” He will ask, “And what did you hope from Me?” He will say, “That Your mercy should overwhelm me.” He will say, “Release My slave.” And a man will be dragged to the Fire. It will rush towards him like a mule at barley and will let out a roar that will not leave anyone but in fear” (Ibn Jarir). This is a trustworthy report (Ibn Kathir).

    وَإِذَا أُلْقُوا مِنْهَا مَكَانًا ضَيِّقًا مُقَرَّنِينَ دَعَوْا هُنَالِكَ ثُبُورًا (13)

    25|13| And when they are flung into a constricted part of it, bound in chains, they will plead for destruction then and there.20

    20. Anas b. Malik reports that the Prophet said,

    أَوَّلُ مَنْ يُكْسَى حُلَّةً مِنْ النَّارِ إِبْلِيسُ فَيَضَعُهَا عَلَى حَاجِبِهِ وَيَسْحَبُهَا مِنْ خَلْفِهِ وَذُرِّيَّتُهُ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ وَهُوَ يُنَادِي وَا ثُبُورَاهُ وَيُنَادُونَ يَا ثُبُورَهُمْ قَالَ عَبْدُ الصَّمَدِ قَالَهَا مَرَّتَيْنِ حَتَّى يَقِفُوا عَلَى النَّارِ فَيَقُولُ يَا ثُبُورَاهُ وَيَقُولُونَ يَا ثُبُورَهُمْ فَيُقَالُ لَهُمْ { لَا تَدْعُوا الْيَوْمَ ثُبُورًا وَاحِدًا وَادْعُوا ثُبُورًا كَثِيرًا }

    “The first to be cloaked with a cloak of Fire will be Iblis. He will place it over his eyebrows and drag it along at his rear. His progeny will be behind him and he will be saying, ‘O destruction,’ and they will be called out, ‘O their destruction.’ Until, they will be held at the Fire and he will be saying, ‘O destruction,’ and they will be called out, ‘O their destruction.’ At that point it will be said, ‘Do not plead this day for a single destruction, but rather for several destructions’” (Ibn Jarir, Razi).
    The above report is in Ahmed (Ibn Kathir). The report is also in Bazzar, `Abd b. Humayd, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Marduwayh and Bayhaqi which Suyuti declared trustworthy although the credibility of one of the narrators has been questioned (Shawkani). Hence Albani declared it weak (S. Ibrahim).
    Haythamiyy on the other hand expressed his opinion that all the narrators in the chain are trustworthy except one, but even he has been trusted by some scholars (Au.).

    لَا تَدْعُوا الْيَوْمَ ثُبُورًا وَاحِدًا وَادْعُوا ثُبُورًا كَثِيرًا (14)

    25|14| (They will be told) ‘Do not plead this day for a single destruction, but rather plead for several destructions.’

    قُلْ أَذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ أَمْ جَنَّةُ الْخُلْدِ الَّتِي وُعِدَ الْمُتَّقُونَ ۚ كَانَتْ لَهُمْ جَزَاءً وَمَصِيرًا (15)

    25|15| Say, ‘Is that better or the Gardens of Eternity that is promised to the godfearing? That will be their reward and resort.

    لَهُمْ فِيهَا مَا يَشَاءُونَ خَالِدِينَ ۚ كَانَ عَلَىٰ رَبِّكَ وَعْدًا مَسْئُولًا (16)

    25|16| There they will have whatever they desire, dwelling forever: a promise that had been asked for.’21

    21. That is, it is a promise (of reward) that had been pleaded and prayed for in the past. Another possible meaning is “a promise binding upon your Lord” (Ibn Jarir, Razi, Ibn Kathir).
    In view of the popularly accepted opinion that Allah is not “bound” to reward His slaves for good behavior, the second possible meaning expressed above has a question mark before it. But Alusi explains that the reward in this case, has already been promised and, therefore, it becomes “a promise binding upon your Lord.”

    وَيَوْمَ يَحْشُرُهُمْ وَمَا يَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ فَيَقُولُ أَأَنْتُمْ أَضْلَلْتُمْ عِبَادِي هَٰؤُلَاءِ أَمْ هُمْ ضَلُّوا السَّبِيلَ (17)

    25|17| And the day He shall muster them and what they worship, apart from Allah22 and say, ‘Was it you who misled these My servants, or is it they who lost the way?’

    22. Apart from others, among those that would be brought forth as worshipped, would be `Isa, some angels, and a few others of Allah’s slaves (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Kalbi has said that idols will also be given life, which could be the reason, added Zamakhshari, that the article maa (translated as “what” here) has been employed in place of mun (which is for the living) because idols will be greater in number.

    قَالُوا سُبْحَانَكَ مَا كَانَ يَنْبَغِي لَنَا أَنْ نَتَّخِذَ مِنْ دُونِكَ مِنْ أَوْلِيَاءَ وَلَٰكِنْ مَتَّعْتَهُمْ وَآبَاءَهُمْ حَتَّىٰ نَسُوا الذِّكْرَ وَكَانُوا قَوْمًا بُورًا (18)

    25|18| They will say, ‘Glory to You. It did not behoove us that we should take protectors other than You.23 But rather, You bestowed on them and their fathers (temporary enjoyment) until they forgot the Admonition, and became a ruined people.’

    23. That is, how could we ask others to take us as protectors other than Allah, when we did not take protectors for ourselves other than Him? (Zamakhshari).

    فَقَدْ كَذَّبُوكُمْ بِمَا تَقُولُونَ فَمَا تَسْتَطِيعُونَ صَرْفًا وَلَا نَصْرًا ۚ وَمَنْ يَظْلِمْ مِنْكُمْ نُذِقْهُ عَذَابًا كَبِيرًا (19)

    25|19| (Allah will say) ‘Now they have denounced you concerning what you said.’24 So you can neither avert (it now) nor (find any) help.’ And whosoever of you commits injustice,25 We shall make him taste a great chastisement.

    24. That is, `Isa, angels, and all those who were worshipped besides Allah, will disown that their devotees ever worshipped them at their behest. But rather, those worshippers had in fact followed the Devil (Ibn Jarir).
    25. Ibn Jurayj and Hasan have said that it is shirk (Association) that is meant by the zulm of the text (Ibn Jarir).

    وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا قَبْلَكَ مِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ إِلَّا إِنَّهُمْ لَيَأْكُلُونَ الطَّعَامَ وَيَمْشُونَ فِي الْأَسْوَاقِ ۗ وَجَعَلْنَا بَعْضَكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ فِتْنَةً أَتَصْبِرُونَ ۗ وَكَانَ رَبُّكَ بَصِيرًا (20)

    25|20| And We sent not any Messengers before you but they ate food and moved about in the markets.26 And We have made some of you a (source of) trial for others. Will you then remain patient?27 And your Lord is ever All-seeing.

    26. Qurtubi first points out that there is absolutely nothing wrong in going about in the markets if there is a need. Yet, it is not preferable to spend much time there or frequent them. Muslim has a hadith which says,

    أَحَبُّ الْبِلاَدِ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَسَاجِدُهَا وَأَبْغَضُ الْبِلاَدِ إِلَى اللَّهِ أَسْوَاقُهَا

    “The most approved of places in the sight of Allah are mosques while the most despicable of them are market places.” Salman al-Farsi is recorded in Bazzar as reporting the Prophet,

    لاَ تَكُونَنَّ إِنِ اسْتَطَعْتَ أَوَّلَ مَنْ يَدْخُلُ السُّوقَ وَلاَ آخِرَ مَنْ يَخْرُجُ مِنْهَا فَإِنَّهَا مَعْرَكَةُ الشَّيْطَانِ وَبِهَا يَنْصِبُ رَايَتَهُ – (صحيح مسلم 7/ 144)

    “Do not be – if you can – the first to enter the market, nor the last to leave it, for it’s the battlefield of Shaytan. It is the place where he pitches his flag.”
    According to another narration he said,

    لا تَكُنْ أَوَّلَ مَنْ يَدْخُلُ السُّوقَ، وَلا آخِرَ مَنْ يَخْرُجُ مِنْهَا، فَفِيهَا بَاضَ الشَّيْطَانُ وفَرَّخَ

    “Do not be the first to enter the marketplace nor the last to leave it. It is there that Shaytan laid eggs and brought out his chicks.”
    Haythamiyy said: The authenticity of this report depends the identity of one of the narrators, if it was Qasim b. Yezid, he was reliable, but if he was Yezid b. Sufyan, he was weak (Au.).
    27. Muslim has a hadith according to which Allah said to the Prophet,
    إني مُبْتَلِيك، ومُبْتَلٍ بك
    “I shall test you and test (others) through you.”
    And, it is reported that the Prophet said,

    لو شئت لأجرى الله معي جبال الذهب والفضة

    “Had I wished, Allah would have sent me mountains of gold and silver.”
    The above report is in Bayhaqi’s Shu`ab al-Iman, but whose authenticity could not be established (Au.).
    Reports in Sahih works also tell us that the Prophet was given the choice between being a Prophet-king or Messenger-slave and he chose to be a Messenger-slave (Ibn Kathir).
    One of the ways in which the Prophet was tried was through poverty. (That was his personal trial. It had, however, other aspects). Had he been rich, it would have been said that they followed him because of his wealth. Similarly, the early poor converts became a source of trial for the rich of the Quraysh (Kashshaf, Alusi and others).

    وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَرْجُونَ لِقَاءَنَا لَوْلَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْنَا الْمَلَائِكَةُ أَوْ نَرَىٰ رَبَّنَا ۗ لَقَدِ اسْتَكْبَرُوا فِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَعَتَوْا عُتُوًّا كَبِيرًا (21)

    25|21| And said those who have no hope of encounter with Us,28 ‘Why have the angels not been sent down to us or why do we (not) see our Lord?’ Indeed, they have an arrogant conceit of themselves, and behaved insolently in a great insolent manner.

    28. Meeting Allah does not necessarily mean, writes Razi, a face to face meeting with Him. After all, it is said about a blind man that he met the Governor, which does not mean he saw him. In any case, writes Qurtubi, the allusion is to “those who do not believe in the Hereafter, Resurrection, Heaven and Hell.”

    يَوْمَ يَرَوْنَ الْمَلَائِكَةَ لَا بُشْرَىٰ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِلْمُجْرِمِينَ وَيَقُولُونَ حِجْرًا مَحْجُورًا (22)

    25|22| The day they see the angels, no joy there will be to the criminals that day, and they will say, ‘A barrier, forbidden altogether.’29

    29. In classical Arabic the words, “hijran mahjuran” meant, “unlawful and forbidden.” For example, adds Zamakhshari, when someone asked another, “Would you do something like this?” He would reply, “hijr,” (meaning, “God forbid”: Au.). Thus, the words could be attributed to the unbelievers also.
    However, according to Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Hasan, Dahhak, Qatadah, `Atiyyah and `Ataa Khurasani, these are the words of angels who will mean to say that entry into Paradise is entirely forbidden unto anyone who did not say the kalimah (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    وَقَدِمْنَا إِلَىٰ مَا عَمِلُوا مِنْ عَمَلٍ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ هَبَاءً مَنْثُورًا (23)

    25|23| And We shall turn to that which they did of deeds and shall render them floating dust scattered about.30

    30. The “habaa’” of the text is for those ordinarily invisible particles of dust that become visible in a dark room with the penetration of a ray of light. That is how `Ikrimah, Mujahid and Hasan explained it; while others have said that the allusion is to dust. A third opinion is that “habaa’” is spilled water (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir). Another meaning offered by Ibn `Abbas is, “sparks of fire” (Alusi).
    We should be warned however, adds Thanwi, not to depend too much on our deeds, which might look good, but lacking the true spirit hardly worth anything. The Prophet has spoken of some people of this Ummah whose deeds will be turned habaa’ on the Day of Judgment. Thanwi then quotes a hadith from Abu Nu`aym. However, its authenticity could not be traced.
    Nonetheless, there is one in similar words in Ibn Majah which is declared Sahih in Zawaa’id, as noted in Kanz. It says,

    لَأَعْلَمَنَّ أَقْوَامًا مِنْ أُمَّتِي يَأْتُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِحَسَنَاتٍ أَمْثَالِ جِبَالِ تِهَامَةَ بِيضًا فَيَجْعَلُهَا اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ هَبَاءً مَنْثُورًا قَالَ ثَوْبَانُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صِفْهُمْ لَنَا جَلِّهِمْ لَنَا أَنْ لَا نَكُونَ مِنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَا نَعْلَمُ قَالَ أَمَا إِنَّهُمْ إِخْوَانُكُمْ وَمِنْ جِلْدَتِكُمْ وَيَأْخُذُونَ مِنْ اللَّيْلِ كَمَا تَأْخُذُونَ وَلَكِنَّهُمْ أَقْوَامٌ إِذَا خَلَوْا بِمَحَارِمِ اللَّهِ انْتَهَكُوهَا

    “I know a people from among my followers who, on Judgment Day, will come with good deeds like white Tihama mountains. But Allah will turn them to habaa’. Thawban asked, “Messenger of Allah, describe them to us, disclose them to us so that we do not become of them because of our ignorance.” He replied, “Lo! They will be your brothers, of the same skin and would take from the night as you take (your share, [that is, will pray “tahajjud”]) but a people who when they encountered Allah’s forbidden (things), they freely indulged in them.”

    أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ يَوْمَئِذٍ خَيْرٌ مُسْتَقَرًّا وَأَحْسَنُ مَقِيلًا (24)

    25|24| Companions of Paradise that day will be of better resort and (shall have) best places of repose.31

    31. “Mustaqarr” is a place where a man spends most of his time, while “maqeel” where he retires to be with his wife. Altogether however, nine meanings are possible (Alusi). The textual “maqeela” has its root in “Qaala”, of which one of the meaning is to take siesta in the afternoon. Some have speculated – such as Ibn Mas`ud, `Ikrimah and Sa`eed b. Jubayr - that the reckoning for the believers will be all over by the mid-day, after which they will enter Paradise and go for a short nap (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    What is meant however, speculates Zamakhshari, is that they will engage themselves in some very pleasant activities, since, as we know, there will be no sleep in Paradise.
    Alusi says that Ibn Mas`ud’s report has been declared authentic by Hakim.

    وَيَوْمَ تَشَقَّقُ السَّمَاءُ بِالْغَمَامِ وَنُزِّلَ الْمَلَائِكَةُ تَنْزِيلًا (25)

    25|25| And, the day the heaven is rent asunder with clouds32 and angels will be sent down in a (magnificent) descent.

    32. The explanation commonly adopted by the commentators is that the heaven will split open to reveal some special material, of Noor, named clouds here, while another possible understanding according to Zamakhshari and others is that the heavens will split open along with the clouds.

    الْمُلْكُ يَوْمَئِذٍ الْحَقُّ لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ ۚ وَكَانَ يَوْمًا عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ عَسِيرًا (26)

    25|26| True sovereignty that day will belong to the Merciful. And it will be a day hard upon the unbelievers.

    وَيَوْمَ يَعَضُّ الظَّالِمُ عَلَىٰ يَدَيْهِ يَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي اتَّخَذْتُ مَعَ الرَّسُولِ سَبِيلًا (27)

    25|27| The day the wrongdoer will bite his hands saying, ‘O my (woe), would that I had taken a way along with the Messenger.

    يَا وَيْلَتَىٰ لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أَتَّخِذْ فُلَانًا خَلِيلًا (28)

    25|28| O my woe, would that I had not taken so and so for a close friend.33

    33. The verse is open to application to anyone who befriends an evil man who prevents him from taking the path of the Prophet, although, perhaps the first to whom it was applicable was `Uqba b. Abi Mu`ayt. He took Ubayy b. Khalf as his friend to denounce the Prophet after declaring faith in him, to be thus led into apostasy and blasphemy by an unkindly friend (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    A Muslim should be, cautions Shafi, careful about whom he befriends. The Prophet has said in a report preserved by Bukhari, “A man is on the religion of his friend. So, let him see whom he befriends.” And, as Qurtubi cited, someone asked the Prophet, “Which of our acquaintances are the best?” He answered, “He who reminds you of Allah as you see him, who increases your knowledge when he talks, and whose deeds remind you of the Hereafter.”
    Haythami has said that the above Hadith is in Abu Ya`la which has Mubarak b. Hassan as one of the narrators, who has been trusted by some, while the other narrators are those of the Sahih works.
    Shafi` also quotes a Hadith in Ahmed, Tirmidhi and Abu Da’ud which says, “Accept not the company but that of a believer and let not your food be partaken but by a pious person.” (This Hadith does not mean that the impious should not be invited to food, but rather, as scholars have explained, it means one shouldn’t get too close to them to be eating and drinking with them (Au.).
    Qurtubi also writes: (The Prophet has instructed us about having the right type of friends). He said according to a narration preserved by Muslim, “The example of a good companion and an evil companion is like the carrier of musk and the blower in the bagpipe (the ironsmith). As for the carrier of musk, either he will gift you some or one might buy some from him. Or, in the least, you will find fragrance with him. As for the blower into the bagpipe, either he will burn your clothes or you will get from him an evil smell.” Malik b. Dinar has said, “That you haul stones in the company of the pious is better than that you should eat victuals in the company of the impious.”

    لَقَدْ أَضَلَّنِي عَنِ الذِّكْرِ بَعْدَ إِذْ جَاءَنِي ۗ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِلْإِنْسَانِ خَذُولًا (29)

    25|29| Surely, he deviated me from the Admonition after it came to me.’ And (surely) Satan was ever a deserter to man.

    وَقَالَ الرَّسُولُ يَا رَبِّ إِنَّ قَوْمِي اتَّخَذُوا هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ مَهْجُورًا (30)

    25|30| And the Messenger will say, ‘My Lord! Truly, my people treated this Qur’an as a (thing to be) discarded.’34

    34. Another possible rendering for “mahjoor” is “abandoned” while another is “a plaything” (Au.).
    Ibn Kathir comments: Not to believe in the Qur’an is to abandon it. Not to ponder over its verses is to abandon it. Not to put its teachings and instructions to practice is to abandon it. And, to spend time in poetry, music or other pastimes, is to abandon it.

    وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَا لِكُلِّ نَبِيٍّ عَدُوًّا مِنَ الْمُجْرِمِينَ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِرَبِّكَ هَادِيًا وَنَصِيرًا (31)

    25|31| Thus have We appointed to every Prophet an enemy from among the criminals;35 but enough is Your Lord as a Guide and a Helper.

    35. That is, in every age, every Prophet has had his share of enemies to deal with (Au.).
    Asad writes: “Also refer 6: 112 which refers in very similar terms to the evil forces (shayateen) against which every prophet has had to contend with. The ‘glittering half-truths meant to delude the mind’ spoken of in that verse are exemplified in the present passage, prophetically, by the deceptive argument that the Qur’an, having been enunciated fourteen centuries ago, must now be considered ‘obsolete.’”

    وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَوْلَا نُزِّلَ عَلَيْهِ الْقُرْآنُ جُمْلَةً وَاحِدَةً ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ لِنُثَبِّتَ بِهِ فُؤَادَكَ ۖ وَرَتَّلْنَاهُ تَرْتِيلًا (32)

    25|32| Also said those who had disbelieved, ‘Why has the Qur’an not been sent down on him as one whole?’36 That is how, in order to strengthen your heart therewith;37 and We have rehearsed it in gradual rehearsal.38

    36. Asad comments: “Lit., ‘in one piece,’ or ‘as one statement’ – implying, in the view of the opponents of Islam, that the gradual, step-by-step revelation of the Qur’an points to its having been ‘composed’ by Muhammad to suit his changing personal and political requirements.”
    37. Yusuf Ali writes: “Three reasons are given for the gradual revelation of the Qur’an. (1) ‘To strengthen thy heart’: the tremendous task of winning the Arab nation, and through them the whole world, required superhuman patience, constancy and firmness,’ and these qualities were strengthened by the gradual promulgation of solutions for each difficulty as it arose. (2) ‘Slow, well-arranged stages’: though the stages were gradual, as the occasion demanded from time to time, in the course of twenty-three years, the whole emerged, when completed, as a well-arranged scheme of spiritual instruction, as we have seen in following the arrangement of the Suras. (3) Questions put and answers given.”
    Majid quotes: “.. for the Prophet himself these revelations coming as they did provided as Prophet’s sustenance the spiritual food that strengthened his heart and supplied the necessary stimulus throughout a long and arduous mission .. At the most trying movements in his prophetic career it comforted and consoled him, and at no time did it take a surer tone in predicting ultimate triumph than when to all outward appearances the Prophet’s condition was hopeless (MA).”
    38. That is, “We have sent it down gradually, little by little” (Qurtubi).
    Another interpretation, that of Ibn Zayd, is, “We have explained (the revelation) adequately” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Asad has another connotation in mind: “I.e., free of all inner contradictions.. The concise phrase rattalnaahu tarteela comprises the parallel concepts of ‘putting the component parts [of a thing] together and arranging them well,’ as well as ‘endowing it with inner consistency’. Inasmuch as full consistency and freedom from contradiction in a message spread over twenty-three years of a life as full of movement and drama as that of the Prophet does give a clear indication of its God-inspired quality, it is bound to strengthen the faith of every thinking believer; and there lies, according to the Qur’an itself, the reason for its slow, gradual revelation. (When applied to the reciting of the Qur’an – as in 73: 4 – the term tarteel refers to the measured diction and the thoughtful manner in which it ought to be enunciated).”

    وَلَا يَأْتُونَكَ بِمَثَلٍ إِلَّا جِئْنَاكَ بِالْحَقِّ وَأَحْسَنَ تَفْسِيرًا (33)

    25|33| And no similitude will they bring to you, but We bring you the truth and the best explanation.

    الَّذِينَ يُحْشَرُونَ عَلَىٰ وُجُوهِهِمْ إِلَىٰ جَهَنَّمَ أُولَٰئِكَ شَرٌّ مَكَانًا وَأَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا (34)

    25|34| Those who will be mustered to Jahannum upon their faces39 - it is they who are worst in position and most misguided in path.

    39. Anas b. Malik reports that a man went up to the Prophet and asked, “How will they be mustered on their faces?” He answered, “He who makes them walk on their feet has the power to make them walk on their faces.” And Abu Hurayrah said that there will be three kinds of people on the Judgment Day: (i) those riding beasts, (ii) those on their feet, and (iii) those on their faces (Ibn Jarir, Razi). The hadith quoted is in Sahihayn and other books (H. Ibrahim).
    The Sufiya have said, adds Razi, that those whose hearts were stuck in this world, (stuck in the mud: Au.), will be befittingly resurrected with their faces stuck in the mud.

    وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلْنَا مَعَهُ أَخَاهُ هَارُونَ وَزِيرًا (35)

    25|35| Indeed, We gave Musa the Book and appointed with him his brother Harun as an assistant.

    فَقُلْنَا اذْهَبَا إِلَى الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا فَدَمَّرْنَاهُمْ تَدْمِيرًا (36)

    25|36| Then We said, ‘You two go to the people who have laid the lies against Our signs.’ Then We destroyed them (in) utter destruction.

    وَقَوْمَ نُوحٍ لَمَّا كَذَّبُوا الرُّسُلَ أَغْرَقْنَاهُمْ وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ لِلنَّاسِ آيَةً ۖ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا (37)

    25|37| And the people of Nuh - when they cried lies to the Messengers40 – We drowned them, and made them a sign for the people. And We have prepared for the unbelievers a painful chastisement.

    40. How are we to understand the words, “they cried lies to their Messengers” (in plural) when we know that Nuh was the only Messenger sent to his people? The answer is that perhaps they denied Messengers sent to peoples earlier to Nuh, or, that they denied the need for Messengers altogether, as the Brahmins do (Zamakhshari, Razi).

    وَعَادًا وَثَمُودَ وَأَصْحَابَ الرَّسِّ وَقُرُونًا بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ كَثِيرًا (38)

    25|38| And `Aad, Thamud, the people of the Russ,41 and many generations in between.42

    41. For lack of details in the Qur’an and hadith, there are various opinions over who the Companions of the Russ were. Qatadah’s opinion was that it was a town in Yamamah called Falj. `Ikrimah identified them with Companions of Yaaseen in Falj (in Yamamah). Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid simply said that Russ was a well; and the allusion is to Shu`ayb’s people who were largely shepherds (Razi). Doughty wrote in Travels in Arabia Deserta having seen a russ in Qaseem region in Waadiyy Rummah: “Where are seen wide ruins and foundations” (Majid).
    Linguistically, russ is for any hole dug in the ground, such as a grave or a well. Hence Ibn Jarir believes they must be identified with the As-haab al-Ukhdood (Companions of the Trenches). Nonetheless, Ibn Is-haq has a narration from Ka`b al-Qurazi, who attributed his words to the Prophet, (but whose authenticity could not be checked: Au.). The Prophet said, “The first to enter Paradise will be a black slave. That is because Allah sent a Prophet to a town. But none believed but a black man. The townspeople dug a well, threw the Prophet in and sealed it with a stone slab. This (black) man used to carry wood on his back, sell it, buy food and drink and then, sliding the slab by Allah’s help, he would let the victuals down to him. It went on until one day he slept off before he could go to the woods. Allah sent on him seven years of sleep, after which he turned to another side, He sent another seven years of sleep on him. When he finally woke up, he thought he had slept off a few hours. He proceeded to gather the wood, sold it, and as usual went up to the well with the food. But he didn’t find him, for, in the meantime, his people were sorry for what they had done to him, and had brought him out. The Prophet (who was brought out) kept inquiring about the black slave, but nobody knew anything about him, until he (that Prophet) died (Ibn Jarir).
    The above report seems to be pretty weak (Ibn Kathir).
    Further, Allah tells us that the people mentioned here were destroyed, whereas the above report says that they came to believe in their Prophet. If the above report is true then perhaps the Qur’anic verse does not allude to them, or, maybe, they were destroyed thereafter, for some other reason (Qurtubi).
    42. Although one opinion says that qarn is a period – some saying 120 years, others, 100, and yet others 80, etc. – the Prophet at least used the term in the sense of generation. He said, “The best generation is mine (qarni), then those who come after them and then those who come after them” (Ibn Kathir).
    Hakim has a report in his Al-Kuna coming from Ibn `Abbas who said, “Whenever the Prophet counted, he went as far as Ma`d b. `Adnan, at whom he would stop and say, ‘Genealogists lied (when they counted beyond this).’ Then he would recite, ‘and many generations between that’” (Shawkani).

    وَكُلًّا ضَرَبْنَا لَهُ الْأَمْثَالَ ۖ وَكُلًّا تَبَّرْنَا تَتْبِيرًا (39)

    25|39| For each We struck similitude for him,43 and each We annihilated in utter annihilation.

    43. In explanation of the singular pronoun, Qatadah said, “That is, unto each one Allah sent the warning to eliminate his excuse, and then destroyed him because of consistent denial” (Ibn Jarir).

    وَلَقَدْ أَتَوْا عَلَى الْقَرْيَةِ الَّتِي أُمْطِرَتْ مَطَرَ السَّوْءِ ۚ أَفَلَمْ يَكُونُوا يَرَوْنَهَا ۚ بَلْ كَانُوا لَا يَرْجُونَ نُشُورًا (40)

    25|40| And they have already come upon the town which was showered upon with an evil rain.44 Have they not seen it then?45 But they hoped not for resurrection.

    44. That is, the people of Loot.
    45. The allusion is to the Makkan trade caravans passing by the destroyed towns of the people of Loot.

    وَإِذَا رَأَوْكَ إِنْ يَتَّخِذُونَكَ إِلَّا هُزُوًا أَهَٰذَا الَّذِي بَعَثَ اللَّهُ رَسُولًا (41)

    25|41| And when they see you, they take you not but in jest: ‘Is this the one whom Allah has raised as a Messenger?’

    إِنْ كَادَ لَيُضِلُّنَا عَنْ آلِهَتِنَا لَوْلَا أَنْ صَبَرْنَا عَلَيْهَا ۚ وَسَوْفَ يَعْلَمُونَ حِينَ يَرَوْنَ الْعَذَابَ مَنْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا (42)

    25|42| ‘He would have indeed wellnigh led us away from our deities, had we not stayed firm with them.’ But presently they shall know – when they see the chastisement – (as to) who was more astray in respect of the path.

    أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ أَفَأَنْتَ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِ وَكِيلًا (43)

    25|43| Have you seen him who took his own self as his god?46 Will you then be a guardian over him?

    46. Whoever follows his desires in religious matters, blindly going after everything that he receives (from others), seeking neither evidence nor proof, is the one who worships his (lower) self (Zamakhshari).
    Yusuf Ali adds: “The man who worships his own passions or impulses or desires is the most hopeless to teach or lead or guide. If it were anything else the matter with him, the Prophet could argue with him. But Reason cannot prevail over blind passion. It is vain to hope that such a man could be led, until his mad desires are kindled. No one could undertake any responsibility for him, for he obeys no laws and follows no advice. He is worse than brute beasts, which may not understand, but at least follow the wholesome instincts implanted in them by Allah. The lawless man has killed his instincts and is unwilling to submit to guidance.”

    أَمْ تَحْسَبُ أَنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ أَوْ يَعْقِلُونَ ۚ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا كَالْأَنْعَامِ ۖ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا (44)

    25|44| Or, do you think most of them hear or contemplate? They are but as cattle, nay, they are more lost of the way.

    أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ كَيْفَ مَدَّ الظِّلَّ وَلَوْ شَاءَ لَجَعَلَهُ سَاكِنًا ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَا الشَّمْسَ عَلَيْهِ دَلِيلًا (45)

    25|45| Have you not regarded your Lord,47 how He stretches the shadow?48 If He willed, He could have made it stand still; but then, We have made the sun its guide.49

    47. The translation is literal, otherwise, most scholars have understood the construction as meaning, “Have you not regarded the power of your Lord?..” The form employed suggests that all observations of nature and its wonders should ultimately lead to the Lord of the world, His powers and His complete control (Au.).
    Sayyid Qutub prefaces this passage with a few lines that could be profited from: “Time and again, the Qur’an seeks the attention of the minds and hearts to the scenes of nature spread above us, and relates them with the minds and hearts. It awakens the senses in order to be ready to receive the effects in a renewed conscientious manner – receiving its lights and echoes – in order to interact and respond. It takes a journey into the universe so as to pick up during the excursion, signs that are spread all over, abundantly, in every corner, written over every of its page. The soul sees the Hand of the Maker behind them; that of the Planner and the Deliberator. As the mind saunters about, it can feel this Hand in everything over which the eyes fall, everything that it can sense and feel, everything that the ears pick up, and then, uses the information as guidelines to reflect deeper and reach his Lord.
    “When a man learns to live in this world with his eyes and hearts open, when he is awake to his senses and spirit, is well connected with ideas and sentiments, then his life rises up against the allurement of this little earth. His perceptions of life also rise up along with his spirit. Every moment adds to his feeling that the horizons of the universe are far wider than the surface of the earth, that all that he sees is the product of a single Will, and is bound to a single set of laws ..( leading up inexorably to a single Lord).”
    48. The allusion, according to Ibn `Abbas, Sa`id b. Jubayr, Dahhak and others, is to the (lengthening and shortening of the) shadow from dawn to the rise of the sun (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). The report is in Ibn Abi Hatim and others (Shawkani).
    That is, the darkness extends itself from the dawn until the rise of the sun (Au.).
    49. An alternative translation could be, as done by Majid and others, “And then We have made the sun for it an indication.”

    ثُمَّ قَبَضْنَاهُ إِلَيْنَا قَبْضًا يَسِيرًا (46)

    25|46| Then We draw it in toward Us50 - an easy drawing.51


    50. Asad explains the change in pronoun: “As in so many other instances in the Qur’an, the abrupt change from the third-person pronoun ‘He’ to ‘We’ is meant to illustrate the fact that God is undefinable, and that it is only the inadequacy of human speech – and, hence, of the human mind – that makes it necessary to refer to the Supreme Being by pronouns which in reality are applicable only to finite, created ‘persons.’”
    51. That is, every time a part of it is withdrawn, some amount of darkness is placed in its wake, so that it does not disappear altogether, at once (Qurtubi).
    The pronoun in “qabadnaahu” (the “it” of “We draw it”) has been explained by the ancient scholars as referring to the shadow. In other words, “Then We draw in the shadow toward Us..” And the meaning is, “We make the shadow disappear unnoticed and quickly,” where “quickly” is the explanation of “khafiyyah” offered by Ibn `Abbas (Ibn Jarir).
    Yusuf Ali stretches the verse to cover the whole day: “As the sun rises higher and higher, the shadows contract. In regions where the sun gets actually to the zenith at noon, there is no shadow left at that time. Where does it go to? It was but a shadow cast by a substance and it gets absorbed by the substance which produced it.” Further, “The shadows are constantly in a state of flux; so are all things in Creation, all things we see or covet in this life. Allah, if He wills, can give some of them greater fixity or comparative stability.”
    Mawdudi thinks on the same lines. He explains the in-drawing toward Allah in the following words, “.. for, whatever vanishes or becomes extinct returns to God. From Him everything issues and to Him everything ultimately returns.”
    It might be interesting to note that modern science tells us that everything has a shadow of itself, even under a shade. A man for example, has a shadow of himself falling on the earth even when he is standing under a shade. Thermal photography can photograph it even 72 hours after he has left the place. Could this be another implication of the words “stretches the shadow?” - Au.
    Imam Razi and Qurtubi add that the allusion by “in-drawing” could as well be to the darkening of the sun at the approach of the Hour when it will be gradually indrawn, (meaning, shrunk in size), to ultimately go out of existence.
    With the above meaning before us, it might be useful to know that the scientific position is very near to this. Our sun, a medium sized star among the billions of stars in our galaxy, is calculated to be about 5 billion years old. At present it is burning its hydrogen. When its hydrogen is burnt out, it will begin to burn its helium. At that point in time, about 5 billion years from now, it will become a red giant of such size as to enclose the earth in its radius. Obviously, everything on earth will be reduced to ashes. After it has burnt out its helium, the sun will begin to contract, get reduced to a very small size, a white dwarf in scientific jargon, and fade into oblivion. But of course, the Final Day scenario drawn by the Qur’an is quite different from the death of the sun as predicted by modern science (Au.).

    وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ اللَّيْلَ لِبَاسًا وَالنَّوْمَ سُبَاتًا وَجَعَلَ النَّهَارَ نُشُورًا (47)

    25|47| He it is who made for you the night a covering, the sleep a (means of) rest,52 and made the day a (time) to spread around.53

    52. “Sabt” has several meanings such as, e.g., stretching. When a woman lets her tresses down, they say, “sabatat al-mar’atu.” Another meaning is to severe, hence sleep, which severs a man from activities. This is the connotation in the Jewish “sabbat” since they cease from all worldly activities. Khalil (the grammarian) said that “sabt” is used for heavy sleep (Qurtubi).
    53. The word “nushoor (from nashara)” of the text could also mean, a time for people to spread around (looking for sustenance) - Ibn Kathir.

    وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ الرِّيَاحَ بُشْرًا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ رَحْمَتِهِ ۚ وَأَنْزَلْنَا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً طَهُورًا (48)

    25|48| And He it is who sends the winds bearing glad tidings before His mercy.54 And We send down from the sky pure water.55

    54. That is, the rains.
    55. “Tahoor” has a second connotation of “Taahir”, meaning, a purifying agent. Ahmed b. Yahya has said that Tahoor is something that is pure by itself and capable of purifying other things (Zamakhshari). And, according to Imam Abu Hanifah, it is the disappearance of one of the three cardinal qualities of water that renders it impure eliminating its purifying quality: change in its (i) taste, (ii) color and (iii) smell (Qurtubi).

    لِنُحْيِيَ بِهِ بَلْدَةً مَيْتًا وَنُسْقِيَهُ مِمَّا خَلَقْنَا أَنْعَامًا وَأَنَاسِيَّ كَثِيرًا (49)

    25|49| So that We might revive thereby a dead land, and water thereby great many of those We created of livestock and men.

    وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَاهُ بَيْنَهُمْ لِيَذَّكَّرُوا فَأَبَىٰ أَكْثَرُ النَّاسِ إِلَّا كُفُورًا (50)

    25|50| And We have distributed it amongst them so that they might remember.56 But most people are averse except to unbelief.57

    56. The pronoun of “sarrafnaahoo” (We distribute it) alludes to the rain. Ibn Mas`ud and Ibn `Abbas have said that rainfall of any particular year are no different (in quantity) from those of another year. But Allah distributes them the way He wishes. Mujahid, Ibn Zayd and others expressed similar opinions (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    One wonders what was the source of Ibn `Abbas’ opinion about a fact discovered more than a thousand years after him (Au.).
    But another possibility is that the pronoun in sarrafnaahoo is for this Message. That is, the Qur’an has been well-rehearsed in a variety of ways so that people might be reminded and admonished, although most people prefer to disbelieve (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi).
    57. What Allah meant when He said, “But most people are averse except to unbelief,” is, ‘(Although it is Allah who distributes the rains) people say, “it happened because of such and such star-effects’” (Mujahid: Ibn Jarir).
    Hence the hadith of Muslim which says that one morning, after the previous night had rained, the Prophet asked his Companions,

    هل تدرون ماذا قال ربكم ؟ قالوا الله ورسوله أعلم قال أَصْبَحَ مِنْ عِبَادِي مُؤْمِنْ وَكَافِرٌ فَأمَّأ مَنْ قَالَ : مُطِرْنَا بِفَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَبِرَحْمَتِهِ فَذَلِكَ مُؤْمِنٌ بي وَكَافِرٌ بالكواكب . وأمَّأ مَنْ قَالَ : مُطِرْنَا بِنَوْءِ كَذَا مُؤْمِنٌ أَوْ نَوْءِ كَذَا فَذَلِكَ كَافِر بي مُؤْمِنٌ بالكواكب

    “Do you know what your Lord said?” They replied, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “Some of my slaves did their morning in faith, while others in disbelief. He who said, ‘It rained on us by the grace of Allah and His mercy,’ believed in Me and denied the stars. While he who said, ‘It rained on us because of such and such a star,’ he then, is the disbeliever in Me and believer in the stars’” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir). Hakim declared the report Sahih (Alusi).
    Zamakhshari and Imam Razi add: Whoever attributed the falling of rains to stars or planets or to cosmic elements, in the absolute sense, committed kufr. However, it is not kufr to attribute to an external agent the immediate physical cause appointed by Allah.

    وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَبَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ قَرْيَةٍ نَذِيرًا (51)

    25|51| Had We willed We could have raised into every town a warner.58

    58. That is, ‘just like We send down rain to every patch of the earth, We could also send a Warner to every town’ (Qurtubi).

    فَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَجَاهِدْهُمْ بِهِ جِهَادًا كَبِيرًا (52)

    25|52| So, obey not the unbelievers and strive against them therewith59 – a great striving.60

    59. That is, Ibn `Abbas and Ibn Zayd said, strive with the help of this Qur’an (Ibn Jarir).
    60. The Prophet is being directed to put up a “great striving” because Allah did not send a Messenger to every town of his time. He was supposed to, therefore, contribute efforts, equivalent of the combined efforts of several Prophets to achieve the desired results in every town (Zamakhshari, Razi, slightly reworded).

    وَهُوَ الَّذِي مَرَجَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ هَٰذَا عَذْبٌ فُرَاتٌ وَهَٰذَا مِلْحٌ أُجَاجٌ وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَهُمَا بَرْزَخًا وَحِجْرًا مَحْجُورًا (53)

    25|53| It is He who has let forth the two bodies of water: this one palatable and sweet, while the other salty61 and bitter. And He placed between the two a barrier, and a partition unbreachable.62

    61. Although the textual word is “milh” meaning salt, most have understood it as “maalih” or “maleeh.” The latter in fact happens to be a variant reading (Qurtubi). Alusi shows however that linguistically it is perfectly alright to say “maa’un milh” as it is also perfectly alright to say “maa’un maalih” (both meaning, salty water).
    62. Mujahid’s opinion was that the letting forth of the two waters meant letting one of them flow into the other (Qurtubi), as it happens when river water joins with the sea (Au.).
    According to the ancient scholars, the allusion is to the two bodies of water: of the rivers and of the seas. Allah has placed a barrier between them so that one does not spoil the other and both retain their qualities. The barrier between them is the land that prevents the seas from joining with the rivers. Mujahid however added that he was told by someone who had some naval experience that when Dijlah water (Euphrates) falls into the sea it doesn’t mix up with the seawater but rather, a line separating the two remains visible. After reporting the above, Ibn Jarir expresses his own opinion that the land could not be considered as the barrier mentioned. But rather, the allusion is to the invisible barrier that is placed between them that prevents one from mixing with the other when the two waters meet (in the sea). This is because, Ibn Jarir adds, when the two waters are let forth, then, there is no barrier of dry land between them. Further, the aayah is speaking of the Power of Allah, (which is more apparent when the barrier is invisible between two adjacent bodies of waters).
    Yusuf Ali considers both the meanings as possible whom Majid quotes, “Maraja: literally, let free or let loose cattle for grazing. Bahrain: two seas, or two bodies of flowing water; for bahr is applied both to the salty sea and to rivers. In the world taken as a whole, there are two bodies of water, viz.,: (1) the great salt Oceans, and (2) the bodies of sweet water fed by rain, whether they are rivers, lakes or underground springs: their source in rain makes them one, and their drainage, whether above-ground or underground, eventually to the Ocean, also makes them one. They are free to mingle, and in a sense they do mingle, for there is a regular water-cycle .. and the rivers flow constantly to the sea, and tidal rivers get sea-water for several miles up their estuaries at high tide. Yet in spite of all this, the laws of gravitation are like a barrier or partition set by Allah, by which the two bodies of water as a whole are always kept apart and distinct. In the case of rivers carrying large quantities of water to the sea, like the Mississippi or the Yangtse-Kiang, the river-water with its silt remains distinct from sea-water for a long distance out at sea. But the wonderful Sign is that the two bodies of water, though they pass through each other, remain distinct bodies, with their distinct functions.”
    He adds, “Incidentally, this verse points to a fact which has only recently been discovered by science. This fact relates to the oceans of the world: they meet and yet each remains separate for Allah has placed ‘a barrier, a partition’ between them.” [However, this does not adequately explain the present verse which speaks of two bodies of water, one sweet, the other bitter. It could be used to explain another passage of the Qur’an (55: 19-22) which we shall attempt when we arrive at it by Allah’s will (Au.)].
    Mawdudi comments: “This happens whenever a large river flows into the sea. There are springs of sweet water at several locations in different seas where the sweet water remains separate from the salty water of the sea. Sayyidi `Ali Ra’is, a Turkish Admiral of the sixteenth century, mentions in his work, Mir’aat al-Mamalik, one such place in the Persian Gulf. He writes that he found springs of sweet water under the salty waters of the sea and drew drinking water from them for his fellow sailors. In more recent times, when the Arabian American Oil company began drilling oil wells in Saudi Arabia, they used the water of the same springs of the Persian Gulf as drinking water until the wells in the vicinity of Dhahran were dug. Also, near Bahrain, there are springs of sweet water under the sea from which people have drawn upon for ages.
    “This verse identifies the wondrous manifestation of God’s omnipotence as evidence of His Unicity. But there is an additional, albeit more subtle, meaning implicit in the verse too. No matter how bitter and salty the ocean of human society may become, God can always produce a righteous group of people in the same manner that He can produce a spring of sweet water in the depths of a salty ocean.”
    Shabbir remarks, “It is reported that from Arakaan to Chaatgaam (in Bangladesh) one can see two separate and distinct bodies of water: one clear (that of the river) while the other dark (that of the sea). This is visible for miles and miles. One of them remains sweet, while the other bitter. The interesting thing is that while the black body of water shows tempestuous characteristics, the clear water remains calm. “Here at (Gujarat) where I am staying,” adds he, “it is people’s daily experience to watch sea water rush into the land riding over the river water, for quite some distance, at the time of heavy tides. However, even when the river mouth is filled with bitter sea water, at bottom the water remains sweet. The two do not mix.”
    Asad adds: “Some Muslim mystics see in this stress on the two kinds of water an allegory of the gulf – and, at the same time, interaction – between man’s spiritual perception, on the one hand, and his worldly needs and passions, on the other.”

    وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ مِنَ الْمَاءِ بَشَرًا فَجَعَلَهُ نَسَبًا وَصِهْرًا ۗ وَكَانَ رَبُّكَ قَدِيرًا (54)

    25|54| And it is He who created man out of water63 and then made him kindred of blood and marriage.64 And your Lord was ever Able.

    63. “That is, (out of the) seminal fluid” (Majid). But the other meaning, viz., of creation out of water is also possible (Au.).
    64. There are seven kindred through direct lineage and five through marriage both of which are mentioned in the Qur’anic verse 23 of Surah al-Nisa’ which says:

    {حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُمْ وَعَمَّاتُكُمْ وَخَالَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُ الْأَخِ وَبَنَاتُ الْأُخْتِ وَأُمَّهَاتُكُمُ اللَّاتِي أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُمْ مِنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ وَأُمَّهَاتُ نِسَائِكُمْ وَرَبَائِبُكُمُ اللَّاتِي فِي حُجُورِكُمْ مِنْ نِسَائِكُمُ اللَّاتِي دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُونُوا دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَحَلَائِلُ أَبْنَائِكُمُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ أَصْلَابِكُمْ وَأَنْ تَجْمَعُوا بَيْنَ الْأُخْتَيْنِ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَحِيمً} [النساء: 23]

    “Forbidden unto you are your mothers, daughters, sisters, paternal aunts, maternal aunts, brother’s daughters, sister’s daughters, foster mothers who gave you suck, foster sisters by the suck, your mothers in law, step daughters who are in your care - of those women with whom you have consummated the marriage, however, if you have not consummated the marriage, then there is no harm, wives of those of your sons who are of your loins, and that you should bring together (in wedlock) two sisters, save for what is of the past. Surely Allah is All-forgiving, All-merciful.” Thus, the seven kindred of lineage are: (1) mothers, (2) daughters, (3) sisters, (4) paternal aunts, (5) maternal aunts, (6) brother’s daughter, and (6) sister’s daughter.” As for the five kindred through marriage, they are: (1) foster mothers, (2) foster sisters, (3) mothers in law, (4) step daughters, and (5) daughters in-law (Ibn Jarir).
    That said, there is no consensus of opinion over what constitutes kindred of marriage (sahr). When asked, `Umar ibn al-Khattab said that parents in law and wives were the sahr; the report being in `Abd b. Humayd (Shawkani). `Ali (ra) for instance said that “nasab” kindred is that which disallows marriage, whereas “sahr” allows it. According to another opinion coming down from him as well as from Dahhak, “sahr” is that relationship that accrues from suckling (Alusi). In short, sahr is the relationship that develops with marriage, from the woman’s side (Au).

    وَيَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَنْفَعُهُمْ وَلَا يَضُرُّهُمْ ۗ وَكَانَ الْكَافِرُ عَلَىٰ رَبِّهِ ظَهِيرًا (55)

    25|55| But they worship apart from Allah what can neither benefit them nor harm them. And the unbeliever is ever a partisan against his Lord.65

    65. Partisan in the sense that he is a helper to Shaytan against his Lord. This is how many of the Salaf understood it (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا مُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا (56)

    25|56| And We have sent you not (O Muhammad) but as a bearer of glad tiding and a warner.

    قُلْ مَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ أَجْرٍ إِلَّا مَنْ شَاءَ أَنْ يَتَّخِذَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِ سَبِيلًا (57)

    25|57| Say, ‘I ask of you no wage for this, save that whosoever will, might take unto his Lord a way.’66

    66. In his own style and words Ibn Jarir expresses the following: The Prophet does not seek wages for his efforts, he is in no need of it, being provided by Allah, yet, if someone wished to expend and thus take a way to Allah, he could do so by expending his wealth on charity among the needy. That would be taking a way to Allah.
    Or, Imam Razi adds, Ii he wished he could spend in charity after embracing Islam.
    In his translation Asad suggests another possible connotation, and quite a nice one for that: The man who wishes to take a way unto his Lord, could himself be a reward unto the Prophet.

    وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى الْحَيِّ الَّذِي لَا يَمُوتُ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِهِ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِهِ بِذُنُوبِ عِبَادِهِ خَبِيرًا (58)

    25|58| And place your trust in the Ever-Living who will not die,67 and celebrate His Praise. And sufficient is He to be acquainted with the sins of His servants.68

    67. “The epithet .. ‘who dies not,’ or ‘Imperishable’ may have been necessitated by the very widely prevalent custom of deicide or godslaughter. ‘Deicide, once supposed to find its only example in the crucification, has been, in fact, a wide-spread custom, which has left a deep impress on the religious thought of the race.’ (ERE. IV. P. 523). The God of Islam, it required special emphasis, is the Immortal, the Imperishable, the Deathless” (Majid).
    68. The fact that words, “And place your trust in the Ever-Living who will not die,” are followed by “And sufficient is He to be acquainted with the sins of His servants” leads one to believe that to place trust in other than Allah is a kind of sin that the Lord is Aware of (Au.).

    الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ ۚ الرَّحْمَٰنُ فَاسْأَلْ بِهِ خَبِيرًا (59)

    25|59| (He) who created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six periods69 and then attained Istawa’ on the `Arsh:70 Al-Rahman, so ask any well-informed about Him.71

    69. Zamakhshari and Imam Razi point out that Allah was quite capable of creating the universe in one go. But creation in stages is more miraculous than a sudden creation which could have been attributed to an accident.
    As to why six, the answer is, says Zamakhshari, there is no significance attached to them. It could have been any other number. There are nineteen keepers of Hell-fire, the bearers of `Arsh are eight, a week has seven days, there are five Prayers a day, and so on. Allah knows best why in each case He chose those numbers.
    The textual word is “yawm” (day). But what day was it? Obviously not the day and night caused by the sun, for, as Zamakhshari has pointed out, the sun had yet to be created. Therefore, it could only have been “days” of another definition. Imam Razi speculates that perhaps Allah first created “time” and then created the heavens and the earth in six days. He is inclined to believe that those were six earth-days. But of course this is only a guess. For even now the days of the Hereafter are different. Verse 5 of Al-Sajdah tells us that the day of the other world is equal to one thousand years of ours. Another verse says (70: 4),

    { تَعْرُجُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ إِلَيْهِ فِي يَوْمٍ كَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ خَمْسِينَ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ} [المعارج: 4]

    “The angels and the Ruh rise up to him in a day whose measure is fifty thousand years.”
    See detailed discussion at verse 54, note 81 of Surah Al-A`raf.
    70. Imam Razi points out that our knowledge that the `Arsh was created before the heavens and the earth, should teach us caution in fixing the meaning of Allah’s “istawaa’” on it.
    71. “I.e., (questions such as) ‘what is His name? What are His attributes?’” (Majid), etc., maybe addressed to him who has knowledge of Him, such as the Prophet (Alusi and others). Or, in the words of Asad, “Ask God Himself: since He alone holds the keys to the mysteries of the universe, it is only by observing His creation and listening to His revealed messages that man can obtain a glimpse, however distant, of God’s Own reality.”

    وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اسْجُدُوا لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ قَالُوا وَمَا الرَّحْمَٰنُ أَنَسْجُدُ لِمَا تَأْمُرُنَا وَزَادَهُمْ نُفُورًا ۩ (60)

    25|60| And when they are told, ‘Prostrate yourselves to Al-Rahman,’ they ask, ‘And what is Al-Rahman?72 Should we prostrate ourselves to what you bid us?’73 And it increases in them aversion.74


    72. The pagans of the Prophet’s time denied that Allah could be designated as Al-Rahman. They said that the only Al-Rahman they knew was that of Yamamah, (that is, Musaylimah the Liar).
    At Hudaybiyyah, when the Prophet began to dictate the letter of armistice saying, “Write, ‘In the name of Allah, Al-Rahman, Al-Raheem,’” they said, “Neither do we know Al-Rahman, nor Al-Raheem. But rather, write as you used to write, ‘In your name O Allah’” (Ibn Kathir).
    73. This question was asked by the Makkan pagans in the same vein as Fir`awn had done with Musa when he offered him faith in the Lord of the worlds. He asked (26: 23),

    { وَمَا رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ } [الشعراء: 23]

    “And what is (this) Lord of the worlds?” – Razi, Alusi.
    74. That is, the call to prostrate themselves to the All-Compassionate increases only aversion in them.

    تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ فِي السَّمَاءِ بُرُوجًا وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا سِرَاجًا وَقَمَرًا مُنِيرًا (61)

    25|61| Blessed is He who set constellations75 in the heaven and placed therein a lamp76 and a shining moon.77

    75. The translation reflects the understanding of Mujahid and Qatadah as in Ibn Jarir, as also of Sa`id b. Jubayr, Hasan and Abu Saleh as in Ibn Kathir. Alusi attributes it to Ibn `Abbas and even names a dozen constellations that could have been alluded to. He points out further that although it cannot be denied that the heavenly bodies could influence the earth in some way or the other, (a point acknowledged by modern science), but they play no role in such events as births, conceptions, etc.
    However, Ibn Jarir’s own opinion is with `Atiyyah b. Sa`d, Ibn Rafe`, Ibrahim and Abu Saleh, who said that the allusion is to a well-guarded fort in the heaven. They draw strength from another verse of the Qur’an which uses the word ‘buruuj.’ It says (4: 78),

    {أَيْنَمَا تَكُونُوا يُدْرِكْكُمُ الْمَوْتُ وَلَوْ كُنْتُمْ فِي بُرُوجٍ مُشَيَّدَةٍ} [النساء: 78]

    “Death will overtake you even if you were in fortified forts.”
    Ibn Jarir cites some poetical pieces to support this view.
    This second opinion was also that of `Ali, Ibn `Abbas and others, although the first opinion seems to be weightier, unless the stars of reference also happen to be the well-guarded palaces, in which case the two opinions can be reconciled (Ibn Kathir).
    76. That is, the sun. Allah said elsewhere (71: 16),

    {وَجَعَلَ الشَّمْسَ سِرَاجًا} [نوح: 16]

    “And made the sun a lamp.”
    Another reading of the textual siraj has been suruj – meaning, brightly shining stars (which would include the sun: Au.) - Ibn Jarir, Razi, Qurtubi, Alusi.
    77. There has been at least one variant reading – that of Isma`i who was not trusted – who read the word qamar as qumur, meaning, moons (Qurtubi).

    وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ خِلْفَةً لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَنْ يَذَّكَّرَ أَوْ أَرَادَ شُكُورًا (62)

    25|62| He it is who made the night and the day follow each other - for him who desires to remember or desires (to show) gratitude.78

    78. The implication of the textual khilfah of the verse, as stated by Ibn `Abbas and Hasan is that Allah created the night and the day, following each other, so that, (as far as you are concerned) if you missed a good deed of the day, you might follow up and do it at night (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). Accordingly, when a man went to `Umar ibn al-Khattab and said that he had missed the night Prayers, he remarked, “Seek in the day what you missed in the night,” and then he recited this verse, “It is He who made the night and the day follow each other for him who desires to remember or desires (to show) gratitude” (Ibn Jarir, Razi). Hence we have `Umar ibn al-Khattab himself narrating in Muslim that the Prophet said,

    مَنْ نَامَ عَنْ حِزْبِهِ أَوْ عَنْ شَىْءٍ مِنْهُ فَقَرَأَهُ فِيمَا بَيْنَ صَلاَةِ الْفَجْرِ وَصَلاَةِ الظُّهْرِ كُتِبَ لَهُ كَأَنَّمَا قَرَأَهُ مِنَ اللَّيْلِ

    “Whoever missed doing any of his supererogatory of the night, but did it between Fajr and `Asr, will have it written down as if he did it at night” (Qurtubi).
    Qurtubi also quotes Ibn al-`Arabiyy (Abu Bakr) as saying, “I heard the great martyr Sheikh al-Akbar say, ‘Allah created man: living and conscious. This is His perfection (kamaal). However, He imposed on him sleep, the need to attend to nature’s call, and attenuation in his powers (as he advances in age), for, perfection is for the Creator alone. So, if it is possible for a man to cut down on his food and sleep in order to free himself (for devotions), then, let him do so. It is a great loss that a man should live for sixty years, losing half of it sleeping at night, and then resting a sixth of the day, thus losing two thirds of his life, leaving him with just twenty years (of active life). It is certainly ignorance (jahaalah) and foolishness that a man should spend two thirds of his life seeking ephemeral pleasure (of sleep), and not spend his life in wakefulness for the delights of the everlasting world: with the Self-sufficient, the Keeper of His promise, who is neither short (of anything) nor is a wrong-doer.’”
    Another implication of the word khilfah is, (as Razi put it) mukhtalifayn that is, one is bright while the other is dark (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). This was the opinion of Ibn `Abbas as documented by Ibn Abi Hatim (Shawkani), as also that of Mujahid, Qatadah and Kisaa’ee (Razi, Qurtubi).

    وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا (63)

    25|63| And the Rahman’s slaves (are) those who walk on the earth modestly,79 and when the uncouth address them, they say, ‘Peace.’80

    79. Ibn Jarir writes that the textual “hawn” has been explained by Mujahid (through several routes) and `Ikrimah as tranquility (sakinah) and dignity (waqaar) while Ibn `Abbas and others thought it means submission, obedience, and humility. Yet others said it means they do not walk proud or arrogant but humble, and do not spread corruption. A few others thought that the second part of the verse explains the word hawn, viz., when they encounter the ignorant and the uncouth who wish to engage them in unseemly, coarse or indecent behavior, they avoid them gracefully or answer back courteously reminding them of things virtuous. Zayd b. Aslam was reported as saying, “I sought the explanation of this verse, ‘those who walk on the earth modestly’ but did not find it with anyone. Then someone came to me in my sleep and I was told, ‘It is those who do not intend any corruption in the land.’” (Ibn Jarir, Razi, Qurtubi).
    Perhaps the best explanation is provided by Alusi who quotes Abu `Abdullah as having said that to walk in the natural gait on which a man is born – without any artificiality - is hawn. He also quotes Ibn `Atiyyah’s opinion that the verse in fact is not talking of the manner of walking, but rather, the manner of conducting oneself on the earth.
    The structure of the verse lends strong support to this explanation. Further, a Hadith which is found in several collections and which says that “fast pace walking drives out a believer’s dignity,” has been declared weak by Ibn Jawzi in his Jaami` (Au.).
    The manner of the Prophet’s walk has been reported as: ‘Long strides, firm-footed, quick paced, as if going down a slope, dignified but neither lazily stepping forward, nor hurrying up.’ On the other hand `Umar ibn al-Khattab walked fast though in natural gait (Qurtubi and Alusi).
    And when Hasan (al-Busri) was asked about this verse he answered, “Believers are a humble people. Their hearing, sight and limbs of the body are humbled to the extent that the common people think they must be sick. But in fact they are healthy of hearts, but the thing is, a kind of dread has entered into them – a fear that has not entered into the hearts of others. Their knowledge of the Hereafter prevents them from going after this world. So they say, ‘Praise be to Allah who dislodged from us the grief.’ By Allah, their grief is not the grief of this world, nor to them are those things of any great value by which they seek Paradise. It is fear of the Fire that makes them weep. Surely, he who did not take comfort in the comfort (provided) by Allah, will have his heart cut asunder by the grief over this world. And one who does not see Allah’s bestowals but in food and drinks, has, for sure, little knowledge. His punishment has drawn close” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Kathir cautions that hawn certainly does not imply weakness or meekness or that they walk about as if they are sick, pretending humbleness. The Salaf have expressed disapproval of a pretentious walk. In fact, when `Umar b. al-Khattab saw a young man walking meekly, he asked him if he was sick. When he said no, he raised his whip against him and said, “Walk strong and upright.” A poet has well said, adds Qurtubi, about the well-measured walk of the pseudo scholars designed to impress the onlookers:

    كلهم يمشى رويد * * كلهم يطلب صيد

    meaning, “Everyone of them walks slow, everyone of them seeks a kill.”
    Mawdudi adds: “So, what is it in one’s gait that is considered of such importance that it is the first attribute to be mentioned as a prerequisite for a true servant of God? A little reflection reveals that one’s gait is the first indicator of one’s whole character and personality. The gait of the cunning man is different from the gait of a tyrant, which is different from that of a civilized and upright person, which again is different from that of someone who is arrogant or criminal.”
    80. That is, when an ill-mannered, uncouth person speaks to them roughly, they answer back politely, with restraint and control (Ibn Jarir from Hasan).
    The salaam here, Asam has pointed out, is the salaam of goodbye and not a greeting (Razi). Nuhhas however thought that it is a salaam seeking goodly riddance. When the Arabs say, “tasalluman minka” they mean, “I am quit of you.” Hence, some scholars have said, one might use the same word “salaaman” (imparting the same meaning) while departing the company of unbelievers engaged in vain talk, but might say salamun alaykum while leaving the believers similarly engaged (Qurtubi).
    They do not act, Shabbir points out, in the manner a pre-Islamic poet has portrayed:

    ألا لا يجهلن أحد علينا
    فنجهل فوق جهل الجاهلين

    Hey! Let no vulgar treat us in a vulgar way
    For, we will act vulgarly beyond the vulgarity of vulgars.
    That is, the poet promises a vulgarity that would exceed the vulgarity of the most vulgar of his tribe. We might add that at least the vulgar of the past knew a language that surpassed in beauty the language of today’s pretentious top-hats that are as vulgar from within as civilized from without (Au.).

    وَالَّذِينَ يَبِيتُونَ لِرَبِّهِمْ سُجَّدًا وَقِيَامًا (64)

    25|64| And those who spend the night prostrate to their Lord, and standing.81

    81. Hasan al-Busri used to say when he passed over these verses that after describing the behavior of the believers during the day, Allah now describes how they behave at night (Qurtubi, Razi without naming Hasan).
    Many scholars have said that whoever did some Qur’anic recitation at night will be counted as one who spent his night in prostration and standing. Others have said that whoever did two cycles after Maghrib and two after `Isha, will be counted among them (Qurtubi, Alusi and others).

    وَالَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا اصْرِفْ عَنَّا عَذَابَ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ إِنَّ عَذَابَهَا كَانَ غَرَامًا (65)

    25|65| And those who say, ‘Our Lord! Avert from us the chastisement of Jahannum.’82 Surely, its chastisement is a grievous (ever-adhering) torment.83

    82. Hasan has said, “They spent the day humble and the night wearied – in fear of the Fire of Hell” (Razi).
    83. Mawdudi comments: “The worship of these sincere devotees to God does not make them proud. They do not suffer from the illusion that they are God’s favorites and that Fire cannot touch them. On the contrary, in spite of their many virtues and their supplication and devoted worship, they tremble with fear lest any lapse on their part causes them to be condemned to punishment. They do not consider their piety as sure ticket to Paradise. Instead, conscious as they are of their human weaknesses, they deem it sufficient to be able to escape punishment.”
    (Literally, gharaam is for punishment, penalty, distasteful thing, something repulsive, etc.: Au.). Muhammad b. Ka`b, Hasan and Ibn Jurayj have said that the word leads to mean it will be a never-abating grievous punishment (Ibn Jarir).
    But hope lingers in such hopeless situations too. Ibn Kathir quotes a tradition from Ahmed on the authority of Anas b. Malik. The Prophet said,

    إِنَّ عَبْدًا فِي جَهَنَّمَ لَيُنَادِي أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ يَا حَنَّانُ يَا مَنَّانُ قَالَ فَيَقُولُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لِجِبْرِيلَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَام اذْهَبْ فَأْتِنِي بِعَبْدِي هَذَا فَيَنْطَلِقُ جِبْرِيلُ فَيَجِدُ أَهْلَ النَّارِ مُكِبِّينَ يَبْكُونَ فَيَرْجِعُ إِلَى رَبِّهِ فَيُخْبِرُهُ فَيَقُولُ ائْتِنِي بِهِ فَإِنَّهُ فِي مَكَانِ كَذَا وَكَذَا فَيَجِيءُ بِهِ فَيُوقِفُهُ عَلَى رَبِّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فَيَقُولُ لَهُ يَا عَبْدِي كَيْفَ وَجَدْتَ مَكَانَكَ وَمَقِيلَكَ فَيَقُولُ أَيْ رَبِّ شَرَّ مَكَانٍ وَشَرَّ مَقِيلٍ فَيَقُولُ رُدُّوا عَبْدِي فَيَقُولُ يَا رَبِّ مَا كُنْتُ أَرْجُو إِذْ أَخْرَجْتَنِي مِنْهَا أَنْ تَرُدَّنِي فِيهَا فَيَقُولُ دَعُوا عَبْدِي

    “A man will cry out in Jahannum for a thousand years, ‘Ya Hannan, Ya Mannan’ (O the Affectionate, O the Munificent). Allah will say to Jibril: ‘Go and bring Me this slave of Mine.’ Jibril will go down but find the inhabitants of the Fire fallen (on their faces) weeping. He will return to his Lord and inform Him. Allah will say, ‘Bring him to Me. He is in such and such a place.’ So he will bring him and make him stand before Allah. He will ask, ‘My slave, how did you find your station and place of rest?’ He will answer, ‘My Lord! Evil is the station, evil is the place of rest.’ Allah will say, ‘Take him back.’ The man will say, ‘My Lord! This is not what I expected when You got me out – that You will send me back to it.’ So Allah will say, ‘Let alone My slave.’”
    As in Zawaa’id, the above hadith has been declared weak by some, but acceptable to others (Au.).
    This Qur’anic passage is unique among religious Scriptures, the like of which is not found in non-Islamic traditions either. They portray the picture of the Companions, to whom the description fits most, and speak of a massive and miraculous transformation that the Prophet brought: a unique experience in the history of mankind whose echoes still last. They have not therefore, lost their impact entirely on those who normally look only from angles that can afford them opportunity to criticize (Au.).
    Majid quotes a few involuntary statements from a spiritually dead West, preceding them with his own remark:
    “Mark the miraculous change for the better that the Prophet of Islam had almost immediately brought about in his erstwhile ferocious, dissolute and irreligious countrymen: ‘From time beyond memory, Mecca and the whole peninsula had been steeped in spiritual torpor … The people were sunk in superstition, cruelty, and vice … Thirteen years before the Hijrat, Mecca lay lifeless in this debased state. What a change those thirteen years had now produced! A band of several hundred persons had rejected idolatry, adopted the worship of one God, and surrendered themselves implicitly to the guidance of what they believed a Revelation from Him; praying to the Almighty with frequency and fervour, looking for pardon through His mercy, and striving to follow through good works, almsgiving and justice. They now lived under a constant sense of the omnipotent power of God, and of His providential care over the minutest of their concerns. In all the gifts of nature, in every relation of life, at each turn of their new-born hopes; and to Him they yielded an implicit submission.’ (Muir, op. cit., p. 163). ‘But a few years since sunk in superstition and practicing all sorts of vice, they now prostrated themselves five times a day in prayer to an invisible Allah, whom they had before known only imperfectly at best, and were honestly trying to follow the precepts that they believed had been sent directly from Him to them.’ (Gilman, The Saracens, p. 153). ‘Wine, women and war were the only three objects which claimed the love and devotion of the Arab.’ (Kremer, Contributions to the History of Islamic Civilization, Eng. tr. p. 156).”

    إِنَّهَا سَاءَتْ مُسْتَقَرًّا وَمُقَامًا (66)

    25|66| Indeed, evil it is as an abode and as a place of rest.84

    84. Imam Razi raises a question, ‘What’s the difference between the textual mustaqarr and muqaam?’ and answers that perhaps it is a mustaqarr in reference to the sinners who will leave it one day or the other, but a muqaam in reference to those who will abide therein forever.

    وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا أَنْفَقُوا لَمْ يُسْرِفُوا وَلَمْ يَقْتُرُوا وَكَانَ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ قَوَامًا (67)

    25|67| And those who, when they expend, do not act extravagant nor are niggardly85 but rather hold a balance between them.86

    85. There are several interpretations. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Ibn Jurayj and others have said that whatever is spent in Allah’s disobedience – however little – is israf. On the other hand, whatever is held back from being spent in obedience of Allah – however little - is iqtar. Others have said that israf is to cross the bounds and spend more than required while iqtar is to spend less than what is absolutely essential – and piety lies between the two. Ibn Jarir is with this opinion (Ibn Jarir, Razi, Alusi).
    The opinion of Ibn `Abbas is preserved in `Abd b. Humayd, Ibn al-Mundhir and Ibn Abi Hatim who said that the believers are not such spendthrifts as to spend in the way of Allah’s disobedience nor so miserly as not to spend in Allah’s cause.
    Are there clear lines demarcating the two: israf and iqtar? Ibn Jarir answers with an example. If you eat more than the essential, that which weakens your body and prevents you from devotion to Allah, it is israf. On the contrary, if you eat less, despite the availability, weakening your body and affecting your devotional acts to Allah, then that is iqtar. Yes, of course, you can always posses a little more. For example, one might keep an extra pair of clothes. This is following the Prophetic words,

    مَا عَلَى أَحَدِكُمْ لَوْ اشْتَرَى ثَوبَينِ لِيَومِ الْجُمُعَةِ سِوى ثَوبِ مِهْنَتِهِ؟

    “What will harm one of you if he bought a pair of clothes for Friday apart from the pair for work?”
    We have another report by Abu al-Ahwas, who reported his father that,

    عَنْ أَبِي الْأَحْوَصِ عَنْ أَبِيهِ أَنَّهُ أَتَى النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي ثَوْبٍ دُونٍ فَقَالَ لَهُ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَلَكَ مَالٌ قَالَ نَعَمْ مِنْ كُلِّ الْمَالِ قَالَ مِنْ أَيِّ الْمَالِ قَالَ قَدْ آتَانِي اللَّهُ مِنْ الْإِبِلِ وَالْغَنَمِ وَالْخَيْلِ وَالرَّقِيقِ قَالَ فَإِذَا آتَاكَ اللَّهُ مَالًا فَلْيُرَ عَلَيْكَ أَثَرُ نِعْمَةِ اللَّهِ وَكَرَامَتِهِ

    He went to the Prophet in shabby clothes. He asked him, “Do you have any wealth?” He said, “Yes, of all kinds.” He asked, “What sort of wealth?” He answered, “Allah has bestowed on me camels, sheep, horses, and slaves.” He said,“When Allah has bestowed wealth on you, then let the effects of Allah’s blessings, and generosity be seen on you.”
    A part of the report is in Ibn Hibban, and Haythamiyy evaluated it Sahih (Au.).
    Qurtubi quotes a hadith from Ibn Majah which reports the Prophet as having said,

    إنّ مِنَ السَّرَفِ أنْ تأْكُلَ كلَّ ما اشْتَهَيْتَ

    “It is extravaganza that you should eat all that you desire.”
    Suyuti declared this Hadith as weak although there is another version with Hakim who thought it is trustworthy as mentioned by Munawi, perhaps elevating it to the rank of Hasan (Au.).
    86. Thus the textual qawam is explained as what lies between israf and iqtar, that is, justly balanced (Ibn Jarir).
    Ibn Kathir quotes a hadith from Musnad about moderation in spending. The Prophet said,

    مِنْ فِقْهِ الرَّجُلِ رِفْقُهُ فِي مَعِيشَتِهِ

    “Moderate expending is a (sign) of a man’s understanding (of Islam).”
    On the hand, Ibn Kathir quotes Hasan al-Busri as having said, “There is no extravaganza in any amount spent in the way of Allah.”

    وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَدْعُونَ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَٰهًا آخَرَ وَلَا يَقْتُلُونَ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَلَا يَزْنُونَ ۚ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ يَلْقَ أَثَامًا (68)

    25|68| And those who invoke not with Allah any other deity; and slay not such life as Allah has forbidden, except by right; and commit not fornication87 – and, whoever did that, shall meet (the price of) sin.88

    87. These are major sins in Islam. `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud reportedly asked the Prophet about major sins, as in the Sahihayn. He answered,

    أَنْ تَجْعَلَ لِلَّهِ نِدًّا وَهُوَ خَلَقَكَ قُلْتُ ثُمَّ أَيٌّ قَالَ ثُمَّ أَنْ تَقْتُلَ وَلَدَكَ خَشْيَةَ أَنْ يَطْعَمَ مَعَكَ قُلْتُ ثُمَّ أَيٌّ قَالَ أَنْ تُزَانِيَ بِحَلِيلَةِ جَارِكَ

    “That you should suggest an equal unto Allah while He alone created you.” He asked him, “Which one next?” He answered, “That you should kill your child in fear that he will share your food.” He asked him, “Which one next?” He answered, “That you should fornicate with the neighbor’s wife.”
    And Allah revealed, “And those who do invoke not with Allah ..” to the end (Ibn Jarir, Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    The Prophet also emphasized the evilness of fornication by saying, as in a report preserved by Ibn Abi Dunya,

    مَا مِنْ ذَنْبٍ بَعْدَ الشِّرْكِ أَعْظَمَ عِنْدَ الله مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ وَضَعَهَا رَجُلٌ فِي رَحِمٍ لاَ يَحِلُّ لَهُ

    “There is no other sin more heinous in the sight of Allah after shirk than a drop of semen spilled into a womb that is unlawful unto him.”
    He also said to a man, in a narrative recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim,

    إن الله ينهاك أن تعبد المخلوق وتدع الخالق، وينهاك أن تقتل ولدك وتغذو كلبك، وينهاك أن تزني بحليلة جارك

    “Allah forbids you that you should worship His creations and ignore the Creator, and forbids that you kill your child but feed your dog, and also forbids that you fornicate with the neighbor’s wife” (Ibn Kathir).
    Now, says Ibn Kathir, this verse appears to contradict that of Surah al-Nisa’ which says (4: 93),

    {وَمَنْ يَقْتُلْ مُؤْمِنًا مُتَعَمِّدًا فَجَزَاؤُهُ جَهَنَّمُ خَالِدًا فِيهَا وَغَضِبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَلَعَنَهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُ عَذَابًا عَظِيمًا } [النساء: 93]

    “And whoever killed a believer intentionally, then his reward is Jahannum, abiding therein forever.” When asked Ibn `Abbas explained that this ayah is Madinan while that of Al-Furqan is Makkan (with a difference of 8 years between them) and so, the former annuls the latter. In fact, according to Ibn `Abbas this present ayah is referring to the unbelievers. Hence the Hadith which says that once a group of pagans came to the Prophet and inquired whether there was any hope for them seeing that they had killed a lot and had committed several other kinds of transgressions. In response this ayah was revealed. Abu Hurayrah nevertheless held a different opinion. He said, “Once as I reached home I found a woman standing close by. I said salam to her and entered into my house closing the door behind me. Then I began to Pray in my appointed place of Prayers. Then I heard a knock. I allowed her in. She asked, ‘I have come to ask you whether there is repentance for me. I committed sin, became pregnant and then killed the child.’ I replied, ‘There is no blessing in you, nor any dignity.’ She said in grief, ‘Alas! Has this beautiful face been created for the Fire?’ Then she went away. Next day I waited for the Prophet to be alone and then narrated the story to him. He said, ‘Evil was that which you said. Have you not read this verse, ‘Except for him who repented and did righteous deeds such then, Allah will change their evil (deeds) into good (ones).’ I left him and then I did not leave a fort nor housing quarters but I went to it and announced, ‘If you have a woman among you who went to Abu Hurayrah, then, let her come to me again and receive some good news.’ And, there, as I returned from my night Prayers with the Prophet, she was standing at my door. I told her that I had raised the issue with the Prophet and he had said to me, ‘Evil was that which you said.’ And then he recited this verse, ‘Except for him who repented and did righteous deeds such then, Allah will change their evil (deeds) into good (ones).’ The woman fell prostrate and then said, ‘Allah be praised for having shown a way out through repentance. I shall free my slave-girl and her son in Allah’s way. I repent what I have done’” (Ibn Jarir).
    The above report is a weak one, there being narrators whose identities could not be established (Ibn Kathir).
    See Surah al-Nisa’, n. 256 for a detailed discussion concerning the possibility of repentance after a premeditated murder of a Muslim.
    An interesting report in Tabarani is worth quoting. There are three versions of it in Tabarani but Ibn Kathir quoted only one. It says that a person called Al-Mamdud went up to the Prophet and asked,

    أَرَأَيْتَ رَجُلا عَمِلَ الذُّنُوبَ كُلَّهَا، فَلَمْ يَتْرُكْ مِنْهَا شَيْئًا، وَهُوَ فِي ذَلِكَ لَمْ يَتْرُكْ حَاجَةً وَلا دَاجَةً إِلا أَتَاهَا، فَهَلْ لَهُ مِنْ تَوْبَةٍ؟ قَالَ:"فَهَلْ أَسْلَمْتَ؟"قَالَ: أَمَّا أَنَا فَأَشْهَدُ أَنْ لا إِلَهَ إِلا اللَّهُ، وَحْدَهُ لا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، وَأَنَّكَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ، قَالَ: "نَعَمْ , تَفْعَلُ الْخَيْرَاتِ، وَتَتْرُكُ السَّيِّئَاتِ، فَيَجْعَلُهُنَّ اللَّهُ لَكَ خَيْرَاتٍ كُلَّهُنَّ"، قَالَ: وَغَدَرَاتِي وَفَجَرَاتِي؟ قَالَ: "نَعَمْ"، قَالَ: اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ، فَمَا زَالَ يُكَبِّرُ حَتَّى تَوَارَى.

    “What do you say about a man who committed all sorts of sins leaving none uncommitted. In that situation (of sin) he left nothing – small or big – but he did it. Is there any repentance for such a man?” He asked, “Have you embraced Islam?” He answered, “As for me, I bear witness that there is no deity save Allah and that you are Allah’s Messenger.” He said, “Do good deeds, give up the evil ones and Allah will change them into good ones.” He inquired, “And my treacheries and debaucheries?” He answered, “Yes.” He said, “Allah is Great.” He kept repeating until he disappeared.
    Haythami remarked that Bazzar also narrated it slightly differently and the narrators of Bazzar’s report are all transmitters who were accepted by Sahih compilers except for Abu Nashit (through whom they did not narrate), who was trustworthy anyway (Au.).
    88. The translation follows the literal explanation as offered by Zamakhshari who quotes a poetical piece to say that atham is the reward for ithm (sin). He does not close the door for other explanations. Majid writes: “Atham signifies ‘the requital or recompense for ithm.’”
    Ibn `Abbas however, along with `Abdullah ibn `Amr, Mujahid, `Ikrimah and others, is quoted by Ibn Jarir as having said that atham is a vale in Jahannum wherein fornicators and adulterers will be locked up (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn `Amir said, “I went to Abu Umamah Sudayy al-Bahili and said, ‘Narrate to me something you heard from the Prophet.’ He invited me to have dinner with him after which he said,
    لَوْ أَنَّ صَخْرَةً زِنَةَ عَشْر عَشْرَوَاتٍ قُذِفَ بِها مِنْ شَفِيرِ جَهَنَّمَ ما بَلَغَتْ قَعْرَهَا خَمْسِينَ خَرِيفا، ثُمَّ تَنْتَهِي إلى غَيٍّ وأثامٍ
    ‘I heard the Prophet say that if a stone were to be dropped from the edge of Hell, it will not reach the bottom for fifty years until it ends at ghayy and atham. I asked him, ‘And what are ghayy and atham?’ He replied, ‘Two wells right at the bottom of Hell to which flow down pus and blood of the inhabitants of the Fire. It is about these two that Allah spoke when He said (19: 59), “They wasted away the Prayers, followed lust and so will meet with ghayy,” and “.. and do not fornicate. And whoever did that will meet with athama” (Ibn Jarir).
    Haythamiyy does not give full clearance to the report, nor does he reject it (Au.).

    يُضَاعَفْ لَهُ الْعَذَابُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَيَخْلُدْ فِيهِ مُهَانًا (69)

    25|69| Doubled shall be the punishment for him89 on the day of Standing and he will abide therein disgraced.90

    89. Why doubled? The answer is, one for disbelief and the other for evil deeds (Razi).
    90. One question: It is not expected of believers that they will suggest partners unto Allah, or kill or fornicate. How then do we understand the verse? The answer given by Hasan as quoted by Razi is that it is the unbelievers who have been addressed indirectly. It is as though being said to them, “True believers do not suggest partners, but you do. They do not kill, but you do. And they do not fornicate while you do. (Do you see the difference?)”
    And hence the following verse: “Doubled shall be the punishment for him on the day of Standing and will abide therein disgraced,” which fits the unbelievers. Similar thoughts have been expressed by Alusi also (Au.).

    لَّا مَنْ تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَأُولَٰئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا (70)

    25|70| Save him who repented, believed, and worked righteous deeds, such then, Allah will change their evil (deeds) into good (ones);91 for Allah is ever Forgiving, ever Merciful.


    91. One meaning, as expressed by Ibn `Abbas, Sa`id (b. Jubayr) Dahhak and others is that Allah will change the evil deeds of the pre-Islamic days into good ones of the after-Islam days – so that, their sin of association will be changed to belief in One Allah, their murder with cessation, and their fornication with chastity. A second opinion – such as that of Sa`id ibn al-Musayyib - is that evil deeds will be converted into good ones on the Day of Judgment. Ibn Jarir inclines to the first opinion.
    The well-known Hadith might be recalled here: that of the last man to be brought out of Hell-fire and the last to enter Paradise. His minor evil deeds will be recounted before him while the major ignored. He will be asked if he acknowledges them, which he will, since he would have no other option. In fact, he will be fearful that the major sins could be brought to discussion. But he will be told that for each of his sin he shall have a virtue. At that point he will cry out, “My Lord! I had committed some other evil deeds that I do not see here.” The narrator of this Hadith of Muslim says, “I saw the Prophet smile so broadly that his teeth became visible” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi).
    Abu al `Aliyyah was one of those who would say when he did not understand a thing, “I believe in all that Allah has revealed in His book.” And this is what he said over this verse and then recited (3: 30),
    {يَوْمَ تَجِدُ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَا عَمِلَتْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ مُحْضَرًا وَمَا عَمِلَتْ مِنْ سُوءٍ تَوَدُّ لَوْ أَنَّ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَهُ أَمَدًا بَعِيدًا } [آل عمران: 30]
    “The day when every soul will find presented (before it) what it had done of evil and would wish that there was between itself and that (evil) a great distance.”
    Alusi points out that the two verses can be reconciled; of course in several ways but which we will leave to the reader (Au.).

    وَمَنْ تَابَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَإِنَّهُ يَتُوبُ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَتَابًا (71)

    25|71| And whoever repented and worked righteousness, surely he turns to Allah in (full) repentance.92

    92. “And whoever repented and worked righteousness, surely he turns to Allah in (full) repentance”: Imam Razi explains that there is no repetition of repentance. The first (mun taaba) is for repentance over the sin of Association and disobedience, while the second (yatubu) is the return to the Lord in hope of rewards, (since, linguistically taaba means to return, to turn to, etc.: Au.).
    As for a proper understanding of mataabaa, the verse could be paraphrased as, ‘And whoever repents by performing good deeds, then it is surely such a person who repents in the true manner of repentance’ (Qurtubi).

    وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَشْهَدُونَ الزُّورَ وَإِذَا مَرُّوا بِاللَّغْوِ مَرُّوا كِرَامًا (72)

    25|72| And those who witness not falsehood;93 and (who), when they pass by the futile, pass by with dignity.94

    93. Yusuf Ali remarks: “(These words have) .. two significations, both implied in this passage: (1) those who give no evidence that is false; and (2) those who do not assist at anything which implies fraud or falsehood.”
    The textual zur is to believe in the goodness of a thing while it is otherwise. Hence the varying explanations offered by the Salaf as meaning shirk (sin of association), music, or falsehood (Ibn Jarir).
    One report from Ibn `Abbas has it that the allusion is to the festivities of the polytheists (Qurtubi). Abu al-`Aliyyah, Ta’us, Ibn Sirin, Dahhak, Rabi` b. Anas and others have also held the same opinion (Ibn Kathir).
    False testimony is one of the many possible connotations. A report preserved in the Sahihayn and quoted by Ibn Kathir says the Prophet asked,

    أَلَا أُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِأَكْبَرِ الْكَبَائِرِ ثَلَاثًا قَالُوا بَلَى يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ الْإِشْرَاكُ بِاللَّهِ وَعُقُوقُ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَجَلَسَ وَكَانَ مُتَّكِئًا فَقَالَ أَلَا وَقَوْلُ الزُّورِ قَالَ فَمَا زَالَ يُكَرِّرُهَا حَتَّى قُلْنَا لَيْتَهُ سَكَتَ

    “May I not tell you of the greatest of the great (sins)?” He said that three times. Those present said, “Sure do, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “To declare partners to Allah and to mistreat the parents.” Then he straightened himself up from the reclining position and said, “Lo! It is false testimony (zur). Lo! It is false testimony.” He kept repeating until the Companions wished he would stop.
    94. Al-laghw is every word or deed that is of no profit to anyone, which, if the believers happen to encounter, they skirt themselves away from it. Therefore, some of the Salaf have included, by implication, sex talks in al-laghw in which the believers do not indulge, but rather, leave the company graciously (kiraam). However, sometimes passing by in kiraam might involve an action. For example, if they see an undesirable act, they forbid it, or when they see an unlawful act being carried out, they prevent it, using force if required. (Ibn Jarir).
    Ibn Abi Hatim reported that once Ibn Mas`ud passed by a futile thing but did not pause. The Prophet remarked, “Ibn Mas`ud turned a karim” (Ibn Kathir).

    وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِّرُوا بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ لَمْ يَخِرُّوا عَلَيْهَا صُمًّا وَعُمْيَانًا (73)

    25|73| And those who, when reminded of the verses of their Lord, fall not upon them deaf and blind.95

    95. That is, they do not respond when they are reminded of Allah’s signs as if they did not hear, see, or understand anything – Mujahid (Ibn Jarir).
    Asad paraphrases from Kashshaf: “Explaining this verse, Zamakhshari remarks that the average run of the people approach the divine writ with a mere outward show of eagerness, ‘throwing themselves upon it’ for the sake of appearances but, in reality, not making the least attempt to understand the message as such and, hence, remaining deaf and blind to its contents – the truly God-conscious are deeply desirous of understanding it, and therefore, ‘listen to it with wide-awake ears and look into it with seeing eyes.’”
    The allusion is not, as many commentators have pointed out, to literally falling down. One says e.g., qama fulanan yabki, meaning he began to weep (lit., he stood up weeping); and qa`ida fulanan yeshtumuni, meaning, so and so began to reproach me (lit., he sat down reproaching me).
    Furthermore, kharra has several connotations. Yusuf Ali comments: “Kharra may mean: to fall down, to snore, to droop down as if the person were bored or inattentive, or did not wish to see or hear or pay attention.”
    From the above, one can sense the beauty in the choice of words in the Qur’an. A single word covers a variety of ways, and thus, a variety of meanings could be drawn (Au.).
    Ibn Kathir adds a trustworthy report from Ahmed that once some people were sitting with Miqdad b. al-Aswad (the Companion) when somebody said, “Lucky of these two eyes which saw the Prophet.” Miqdad reacted angrily. Then he explained, “Why should anyone say that about the past when he does not know how he would have behaved if he had been present. By Allah, the Prophet came and Allah hurled a people on their faces into the Fire because they refused to acknowledge him, but rather cried lies. Should you not be grateful to Allah that He brought you out of the wombs without knowing any other Lord save Allah, believing in Him, and saved you from the trials that the others went through?” (shortened).

    وَالَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا (74)

    25|74| And those who say, ‘Our Lord! Grant us of our wives and offspring (such) as are a comfort to the eyes96 and make of us a model to the God-conscious.97

    96. Ibn `Abbas, Hasan, Ibn Jurayj and others have said that they see them involved in deeds pleasing to Allah, and so feel the coolness in their eyes (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Mawdudi sums up the explanation offered by several commentators: “This is because a true believer does not draw joy for his eyes by the fact that his or her spouse and offspring are physically attractive, or from the mere fact that they are enjoying a life of ease and luxury. Instead, they are delightful if they are blessed with moral excellence … It is noteworthy that at the time when these verses were revealed, there were none among the Makkan Muslims who would claim their close relatives were not unbelievers. If a husband was a Muslim, his wife was an unbeliever; and if a woman had accepted Islam, her husband was a non-Muslim. In like manner … there were fathers who had become Muslims but whose grown up children were strongly attached to disbelief and Ignorance. Therefore, every Muslim was going through an intense spiritual torment. Their Prayers is best expressed in the present verse.”
    In Hasan al-Busri’s effective words, “No by Allah! There is nothing that will cool the eyes of a believer but that he should see his son or grandson or brother, or a close relative, as obedient to Allah” – Ibn Kathir.
    97. Two meanings are possible. One, as in translation which is the understanding of Ibn `Abbas and Dahhak, and second, ‘make us those who followed the God-conscious (of the past and present).’ This was the opinion of Mujahid, but the former is more appropriate (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi). Ibn Kathir also agrees with the former opinion.
    An implied meaning is that since we are the Imams of our progeny, make our progeny virtuous so that we feel happy at leading them in piety (Shafi`).

    أُولَٰئِكَ يُجْزَوْنَ الْغُرْفَةَ بِمَا صَبَرُوا وَيُلَقَّوْنَ فِيهَا تَحِيَّةً وَسَلَامًا (75)

    25|75| They (are the ones) who will be rewarded with lofty houses98 for what they showed patience (and constancy), and shall receive therein salutation and peace.

    98. The translation of ghurfah as lofty houses agrees with Ibn Jarir’s understanding. However, Ibn Kathir (and earlier to him Razi in brief) notes that Ja`far al-Baqir, Sa`id b. Jubayr, Dahhak and Suddi expressed the opinion that the allusion is to Paradise, which is so called because of its heights.

    خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ حَسُنَتْ مُسْتَقَرًّا وَمُقَامًا (76)

    25|76| Dwelling therein forever - beautiful an abode and a place of rest.99

    99. “Beautiful an abode and a place of rest”: this is in contrast to the reward of the unbelievers, “Evil it is (Jahannum) as an abode and as a place of rest,” but which does not mean that the believers will remain in Paradise for a short or, for that matter, a long while (Au., with a point from Razi).
    Yusuf Ali sums up: “Let us recapitulate the virtues of the true servants of Allah: (1) they are humble and forbearing to those below them in spiritual worth; (2) they are constantly, by adoration, in touch with Allah; (3) they always remember the Judgment in the Hereafter; (4) they are moderate in all things; (5) they avoid treason to Allah, to their fellow-creatures, and to themselves; (6) they give a wide berth not only to falsehood but to futility; (7) they pay attention, both in mind and manner, to the Signs of their Lord; (8) their ambition is to bring up their families in righteousness and to lead in all good. A fine code of individual and social ethics, a ladder of spiritual development, open to all.þ”

    قُلْ مَا يَعْبَأُ بِكُمْ رَبِّي لَوْلَا دُعَاؤُكُمْ ۖ فَقَدْ كَذَّبْتُمْ فَسَوْفَ يَكُونُ لِزَامًا (77)

    25|77| Say, ‘What will my Lord do with you?100 - but for your invocation.101 But now, you have already laid the lie, so it shall surely be inevitable.’102

    100. This is a difficult phrase (Qurtubi) that lends several meanings depending on how the articles are treated (Au.). `Ab’a is at the root of the word ya`ba’u, which is for weight; and “ma” has been treated by some as negative while by others as interrogative (Shawkani and others).
    This how Ibn Zayd and Mujahid understood these words (Ibn Jarir). This was the opinion of Farra’ (Shawkani).
    Ibn Kathir however explains them as meaning: He doesn’t care whether they worship Him or do not, since He is in no need of them or their devotions. According to Zajjaj, the words “ma a`ba’u bihi” contain contempt, scorn and disdain (Razi). It is as if to say, “I don’t care a bit for him” (Au.).
    This is what Khalil thought. And the implication is that you are so unworthy that your existence and non-existence are the same to Him (Shawkani).
    In short, the verse can be paraphrased as, “What will my Lord do with you by punishing you? In fact, He would have done it but for your invocation. But the unbelievers among you have already cried lies to His message and so punishment shall be inevitable.” Or, alternatively, “My Lord does not care for you enough, otherwise He would punish you. However, the unbelievers have cried lies and so shall be inevitably chastised.”
    101. That is, but for your invocation, He should have destroyed you. This of course is one of the several possible implications.
    102. What will surely be inevitable? The great majority of the Salaf such as Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Dahhak, Qatadah and many others believed that the allusion is to the day of Badr when they were annihilated. That however, Allah did not wish to happen – why should He? – but they denied and it became inevitable (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi and others).