Surat As-Sajdah

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.

_______________________

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).

_______________________

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.

________________________

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".

______________________

  • Surah No. 32

    Merits of the Surah

    1. Bukhari and Muslim have reports that say that the Prophet (saws) used to recite this chapter and chapter “Al-Dahr” (no.76) in the Fajr Prayer of every Friday. On the other hand, Ahmad has a report that the Prophet would not sleep before having recited this chapter and chapter “Al-Mulk” (no.67) – Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani.
    The report about recitation of these two chapters is also in Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, and Hakim, who declared it Sahih (Shawkani).
    2. The unanimous opinion is that this surah is Makkan; although a few have thought that verses 3-5 were revealed after Hijrah.

    بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ الم (1)

    32|1| Alif. Laam. Meem.

    تَنْزِيلُ الْكِتَابِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ مِنْ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (2)

    32|2| The sending down of the Book, wherein there is no doubt, is from the Lord of the worlds.3

    3. The translation reflects the understanding of Qatadah as in Ibn Jarir.

    أَمْ يَقُولُونَ افْتَرَاهُ ۚ بَلْ هُوَ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّكَ لِتُنْذِرَ قَوْمًا مَا أَتَاهُمْ مِنْ نَذِيرٍ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَهْتَدُونَ (3)

    32|3| Or, do they say, ‘He forged it?’4 But rather, it is the truth from your Lord that you might warn a people unto whom no warner came before you,5 haply that they may be rightly guided.6

    4. One has to be a man of poor intellect, who after having read the Qur’an, could hold the opinion that Prophet Muhammad wrote this Book, and started the Islamic movement, depending, for its accomplishment, on his own genius and abilities. It is a matter of common sense, writes Shabbir in effect, that movements are started by men in response to needs and aspirations of the milieu in which they live. When someone presents a new program of action, he does it out of assurance that the public mood – or of a sizable number of them - is with him, that it will provoke an enthusiastic response on the part of a predictable majority. He will never present ideas that go completely against the spirit of his times. The Prophet’s time too, carried its own spirit. His times had been molded by ideas inherited over ages, from generation to generation. This spirit stood entirely in contrast and opposed to the message that the Prophet presented. Not surprisingly, his call was summarily rejected without any serious consideration. Nor did the Arabs contemporary to the Prophet betray any signs of the abilities that the movement required to win good number of followers, and, as it became successful, implement its program of action - such abilities as upon which the Prophet could depend as he launched his movement.
    But the problem with the human beings is the phenomenon as puzzling, as commonly observed, that when it comes to religion, the best minds pack off their intellect and begin to talk, think, argue, and behave in a manner that can only be described as ridiculously irrational, and take a position that is hopelessly irredeemable (Au.).
    5. The address is to the Quraysh among whom no Messenger had been raised. Until the advent of the Prophet, they were required to follow the Shari`ah as revealed to the ancient Prophets Ibrahim and Isma`il. Thus, the allusion by the word “nazir” in this instance is to a Prophet or Messenger, since, after all, there did appear a few non-prophetic warners among the Quraysh who warned them of the consequences of abandoning one True God in preference to idols and deities. (Mawdudi traces no less than 16 such warners: Au.) Asma’ bint Abi Bakr says she had seen Zayd b. `Amr b. Nufayl resting his back on a wall of Ka`ba and saying, “O Quraysh. By him in whose hands is my life, none of you remains on the religion of Ibrahim except me.” Musa b. `Uqba has mentioned in his Maghazi that he used to reproach the Quraysh over their slaughtering of animals in other than Allah’s name. He himself never ate out of such sacrifices. It is in his person that the Qur’anic truth was expressed which said (35: 24),

    {وَإِنْ مِنْ أُمَّةٍ إِلا خَلا فِيهَا نَذِيرٌ} [فاطر: 24]

    “There has not been a nation but there was a warner among them.”
    That is, Zayd and his kind were merely warners, but not Prophets (Alusi). Perhaps the allusion could be to this class of people among the Israelites, when it is said that so many hundreds or thousands of Prophets appeared among them (Au.).
    Nonetheless, Asma’ bint Abi Bakr’s report about Zayd b. `Amr has been judged weak, as stated by Mahdi Rizqallah in his Sirah. But it must also be kept in mind that strict hadith principles of criticism and evaluation cannot be applied to pre-Islamic reports (Au.).
    6. If it is said, writes Zamakhshari, in view of the fact that no Prophet was raised among the Makkans, those who went before our Prophet should be absolved of any responsibility for their worship of false gods, the answer would be, yes, insofar as Divine Laws are concerned, the generations immediately before Prophet Muhammad could be declared absolved of any crime for non-conformation. But, as far as the knowledge of Allah and His Oneness is concerned, they cannot be absolved because man’s own reason and innate nature leads him to these fundamental truths.
    In their case, they were not left to their innate nature alone, but rather, Isma’il was raised among them, whose message of Allah’s Oneness was not entirely obliterated by the tides of time (Au).

    اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ ۖ مَا لَكُمْ مِنْ دُونِهِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلَا شَفِيعٍ ۚ أَفَلَا تَتَذَكَّرُونَ (4)

    32|4| Allah it is who created the heavens and the earth and what is between the two in six periods.7 Then He assumed istawa on the `Arsh.8 You have no protector besides Him, nor an intercessor. Will you not then be admonished?

    7. The rendering of the textual “yawm” as periods is not only following deductive reasoning in the light of several authentic traditions, but also happens to be the direct interpretation by some of the Salaf. Ibn `Abbas for instance, is reported to have said, as in Ibn Jarir, that this and the next verse should be paraphrased in the following manner: ‘Allah created the world in six days, each of which days was equal to a thousand years.’
    At this point Ibn Kathir quotes a hadith that he had quoted earlier from Muslim (see Surah 7, note 81). [He mentions it as found in Nasa’i, but it is not in Nasa’i: Au.]. Nonetheless, it is as follows: Abu Hurayrah (ra) says,

    عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ أَخَذَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِيَدِي فَقَالَ: "خَلَقَ اللّهُ، عَزّ وَجَلّ، التّرْبَةَ يَوْمَ السّبْتِ. وَخَلَقَ فِيهَا الْجِبَالَ يَوْمَ الأَحَدِ. وَخَلَقَ الشّجَرَ يَوْمَ الإِثْنَيْنِ. وَخَلَقَ الْمَكْرُوهَ يَوْمَ الثّلاَثَاءِ. وَخَلَقَ النّورَ يَوْمَ الأَرْبِعَاءِ. وَبَثّ فِيهَا الدّوَابّ يَوْمَ الْخَمِيسِ. وَخَلَقَ آدَمَ، عَلَيْهِ السّلاَمُ، بَعْدَ الْعَصْرِ مِنْ يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ. فِي آخِرِ الْخَلْقِ. فِي آخِرِ سَاعَةٍ مِنْ سَاعَاتِ الْجُمُعَةِ. فِيمَا بَيْنَ الْعَصْرِ إِلَىَ اللّيْلِ". (المسلم)

    “The Prophet (saws) took me by my hand and said, ‘Allah created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days. He created the dust on Saturday; mountains on Sunday; trees on Monday; the Makruh(at) on Tuesday; Nur on Wednesday; beasts on Thursday; and Adam on Friday - in the last hours of the day, after `Asr.”
    Ibn Kathir combines two narratives here to make one. We take the second part from Hakim who declared it Sahih on the conditions set by Bukhari and Muslim. It says,

    خَلَقَ اللَّهُ آدَمَ مِنْ أَدِيمِ الأَرْضِ كُلِّهَا فَخَرَجَتْ ذُرِّيَّتُهُ عَلَى حَسَبِ ذَلِكَ مِنْهُمُ الأَبْيَضُ وَالأَسْوَدُ وَالأَسْمَرُ وَالأَحْمَرُ وَمِنْهُمْ بَيْنَ ذَلِكَ وَمِنْهُمُ السَّهْلُ وَالْخَبِيثُ وَالطَّيِّبُ (الحاكم وقال هذا حديث صحيح الإسناد، ولم يخرجاه).‏

    “Allah created Adam from (various) hues of the earth so that his progeny came out in accordance with it: of them there are whites and blacks, browns and reds, while some of them are in between. Some of them are pliant, while others vicious or yet, decent” (Au.).
    Ibn Kathir also tells us that Bukhari, as also others, was not happy with the chain of narrators that goes with this hadith. Nevertheless, as we have stated at an earlier point in this work, notwithstanding the dissatisfaction with the chain, text-wise it reflects modern understanding of the sequence of creation of life and its various forms, culminating in man. Opinions vary between the scientists over the exact time when man appeared: through whatever process they conjecture it happened. Some say modern man appeared about 100,000 years ago; others say a million years ago, while a few recent findings would lead them to believe that he appeared ten million years ago. Our point is, whatever figure we take, when it is compared with the 4.5 billion years since the creation of earth, man’s appearance is indeed in the last hours of the final phase of creation. A scientific work has remarked that if the time-period is one mile long, we humans appeared at the last inch (Au.).
    8. For a detailed discussion of the issue of “istawa” see Surah al-A`raf, note 82 and al-Qasas, note 23 of this work.

    يُدَبِّرُ الْأَمْرَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ ثُمَّ يَعْرُجُ إِلَيْهِ فِي يَوْمٍ كَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ مِمَّا تَعُدُّونَ (5)

    32|5| He directs the affair from heaven to earth, then it rises up to Him9 in a day whose measure is a thousand years of your reckoning.10

    9. What is it that rises up to Him? It is the affair (taken up by an angel). Hence a possible meaning is that the affair (whatever it is) rises up to Him in one thousand years (Alusi); and not coming down and rising up in one thousand years, although quite a few have believed that the whole affair of coming down and rising up happens within this period (Au).
    Qurtubi sums up: Yahya b. Salam said that the allusion by “it” is to Jibril who goes back to the heaven after delivering the revelation. Naqqash said it is to the angel who organizes the affairs of the earth from the heaven.
    It is also said that the verse is saying that the news of the Earthians is taken up by the angels. This was Ibn Shajarah’s opinion. It is also said that the allusion is to an affair, which, after its execution, will be returned to Him after cessation of life on earth, on a day which will be one thousand years long, namely, the Day of Judgment.
    Thus the ayah is of the “mutashabihat” (uncertain of meaning to most but not to those who possess deep understanding). Hence we have a report in `Abdur Razzaq, Sa`id b. Mansur, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn al-Anbari, and Hakim, who declared it trustworthy, that `Abdullah ibn Abi Mulaykah said, “I entered upon Ibn `Abbas along with `Abdullah b. Fayroze the freed slave of `Uthman. He asked Ibn `Abbas about this ayah. But Ibn `Abbas seemed to be displeased. He asked him in return, ‘So what about the day ‘“whose measure is a thousand years of your reckoning?”’ He (ibn Fayroze) said, ‘I only asked you hoping you would educate me.’ He (Ibn `Abbas) said, ‘These are two days that Allah mentioned in His Book. He knows best what is meant by them. Should I say in reference to the Book of Allah, something I have no knowledge of?’ Some time elapsed after that incident until I found myself in the assembly of Sa`id b. al-Musayyib. Someone asked him about the same two days (a day to come down and another to rise up). But he did not say anything. In fact, he said he did not know. So, I asked him whether I should tell him what I had heard from Ibn `Abbas? He said, yes. I told him the story. He turned to the inquirer and said, ‘Here is Ibn `Abbas who refused to say anything about them although he was more knowledgeable than me’” (Alusi).
    10. Mujahid, Qatadah, Dahhak, `Ikrimah and others are in agreement over the opinion that when Allah (swt) sends down an angel with a command, it takes him, by our reckoning 500 years to descend, and 500 years to ascend back: one day by heavenly measure. This is because (as Prophetic statements tell us: Au.) the distance between the first heaven and the earth is 500 years, by our reckoning.
    Another opinion is that the rising of the angel to the heaven takes a day, which is equivalent of our thousand years (Ibn Jarir).
    Ibn Kathir mentions that whatever the travel time by our reckoning, the angel takes no more than the wink of an eye by our measure to cover the distance.
    A third opinion is that the affair will rise up to Him on the Day of Judgment, which will be one thousand years long for some, while fifty thousand for others.
    At all events, this ayah is a clear reference to the relativity of time, stated fourteen centuries earlier than modern scientific findings, and so close in agreement as to strike a chord of wonder. Modern science tells us that measurement of time – and its passage - depends on the speed of an object: the higher the speed, slower the time-travel. At the speed of light, (300,000 km per second) time comes to a halt, that is, it should register any elapsed time as zero. Accordingly, if someone traveled on the back of a photon, for say a few minutes, those that are stationary on the earth, would experience the elapse of thousands of years during those same few minutes of the traveler saddled on the back of the photon. Little wonder then that a day of the angel, traveling at, perhaps faster than the speed of light, could be a thousand years for us. It is another thing that a day of the angel could as well be an instant, and the thousand years of the earthlings actually a tremendously higher figure, since it is the relativity of time that is intended by the verse, and not the exact ratio (Au.).
    As this writer revises this work in November 2011, news has arrived that several experiments have consistently yielded the result that some sub-atomic particles travel faster than light and that, Einstein’s equations, based on the assumption that nothing can travel faster than light, have a question mark before them (Au.).

    ذَٰلِكَ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ (6)

    32|6| That is the Knower of the unseen and the seen, the Mighty, the Compassionate,

    الَّذِي أَحْسَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ ۖ وَبَدَأَ خَلْقَ الْإِنْسَانِ مِنْ طِينٍ (7)

    32|7| Who perfected everything that He created;11 and who began man’s creation from clay.12

    11. The generally accepted meaning of the words “perfected everything that He created” is that whatever Allah created, created to the greatest degree of perfection (Au.).
    In Asad’s words, “He fashions every detail of His creation in accordance with the functions intended for it, irrespective of whether those functions can be understood by us or are beyond the reach of our perception.”
    Ibn `Abbas (and Mujahid: Qurtubi) had remarked in reference to this verse that surely a monkey’s buttocks are not the best things to look at, but functionally, they are perfectly designed (Ibn Jarir, Shawkani).
    It is reported in Tabarani through Abu Umamah that he said,

    بَيْنَمَا نَحْنُ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، إِذْ لَحِقَنَا عَمْرُو بن زُرَارَةَ الأَنْصَارِيُّ فِي حُلَّةٍ إِزَارٍ وَرِدَاءٍ، قَدْ أَسْبَلَ، فَجَعَلَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَأْخُذُ بناحِيَةِ ثَوْبِهِ، وَيَتَوَاضَعُ لِلَّهِ، وَيَقُولُ:"اللَّهُمَّ عَبْدُكَ، وَابْنُ عَبْدِكَ، وَابْنُ أَمَتِكَ"حَتَّى سَمِعَهَا عَمْرُو بن زُرَارَةَ، فَالْتَفَتَ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَقَالَ: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، إِنِّي أَحْمَسُ السَّاقَيْنِ، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ:"يَا عَمْرَو بن زُرَارَةَ، إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ قَدْ أَحْسَنَ كُلَّ خَلْقِهِ، يَا عَمْرَو بن زُرَارَةَ، إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْبِلِينَ"

    “While we were with the Prophet, we met with `Amr b. Zurarah the Ansari. He had a cloak on him which reached his ankles. The Prophet (saws) picked up one end of his cloak. He said in explanation, “Messenger of Allah, I have very thin legs.” The Prophet told him, “O `Amr b. Zurarah, Allah perfected everything He created. O `Amr b. Zurarah, Allah does not approve of those who let down their clothes below the ankles” (Shawkani).
    Haythamiyy gave his approval to one of the two chains of narrators of this report (Au.).
    12. Within the three or four years that have elapsed since we wrote the lines while discussing verse 26 of Surah Al-Hijr, (note 26 and 27), further biological researches are leading the scientist to the conclusions that add mystery to the question of life’s origins. For example, oxygen is necessary for “continuation” of life. But it is highly unfavorably disposed to “the first formation” of life. Its presence at the origin of life is ruled out because it would have immediately oxidized the newly formed living molecule and disintegrated them into fragments. But, in an oxygen-free atmosphere, ultraviolet-induced radiation would have immediately broken down any DNA molecule, which are highly sensitive to the ultraviolet flux. So, it seems we cannot accommodate (although necessary) oxygen-induced atmosphere at the beginning but cannot do without it later. So we are in a conundrum: we do not want oxygen at the start, but cannot run the life-machine without it later.
    There are further twists. E.g., the protein synthesis apparatus in every cell requires energy. But production of energy depends on properly functioning protein synthesis apparatus. The two are interlocked. We cannot have one without the other. This is true of whatever level of organism that is examined and however back we go in earth’s history. Indeed the whole cell-apparatus is so complicated that we do not know where to begin for a clue to how life could have started. Francis Crick, the famous Nobel Prize winner, co-discoverer of the DNA wrote in his “Life Itself”: “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.” (Evolution, a Theory in Crisis, Michael Denton, Adler and Adler, 1996, p. 268).
    The idea that all life organisms have risen from previous species is also becoming difficult to assert with complete confidence. Fossil evidences show that probably in many earlier epochs several species have appeared on a sudden out of the blue. This does not sit well with the accepted notion that mutations (resulting in alteration of organs and functions) have to be gradual, leading up ultimately to the appearance of new species: from single-celled animal to multiple-celled organisms, culminating through the evolutionary tree in man. Geologists have found rock layers of all divisions of the last 500 million years but no transitional forms were contained in them: meaning, life forms appeared suddenly, just from nowhere. But the story goes beyond 500 million years. Biologists are now admitting that the simplest cell, e.g. that of a bacterium, “have nothing primitive” about them. Although they appeared very early in Earth’s history, they represent fully formed and highly complex machinery – just as a human cell - without any visible trace of a primitive structure. The plot does not end here either. It gets deeper with every new discovery. For example, an Australian group of researchers have recently reported the remains of a simple type of algae (a form of aquatic life) in rocks at least 3.5 billion years old. This means life appeared very early on the primitive earth without a trace of evolution. This sudden appearance of life has no explanation (Au.).

    ثُمَّ جَعَلَ نَسْلَهُ مِنْ سُلَالَةٍ مِنْ مَاءٍ مَهِينٍ (8)

    32|8| Then He made his progeny from the quintessence of a despised liquid.

    ثُمَّ سَوَّاهُ وَنَفَخَ فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِهِ ۖ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ ۚ قَلِيلًا مَا تَشْكُرُونَ (9)

    32|9| Then He proportioned him and blew in him a spirit from Him.13 And He made for you the (faculties of) hearing, sights and hearts.14 Little it is that you thank.

    13. “(This) is a metaphor for the divine gift of life and consciousness, or of a soul..” (Asad).
    “… a spirit from Him” is no more than a spirit from Allah (and not of Him). The Christians fasten a lie upon Allah when they say that `Isa was Allah’s own soul, emanating from Him, forgetting that every soul is from Allah (Razi).
    One wonders whether there is room for understanding that man has a spirit from God in the sense of possessing some of the attributes that are those of Him – although in limited degree? (Au.).
    14. Hearing, sight and heart: the order has been maintained everywhere in the Qur’an, (unless there was some reason to alter it). This is because, a man first hears of a thing, then uses his own sight for confirmation, then he uses faculties of his heart and mind to analyze, deduce, and arrive at his own conclusions and opinions (Razi - paraphrased).

    وَقَالُوا أَإِذَا ضَلَلْنَا فِي الْأَرْضِ أَإِنَّا لَفِي خَلْقٍ جَدِيدٍ ۚ بَلْ هُمْ بِلِقَاءِ رَبِّهِمْ كَافِرُونَ (10)

    32|10| But they said, ‘Is it, when we are lost in the earth, are we in a new creation?’ Nay, but they are disbelievers in the encounter with their Lord.

    قُلْ يَتَوَفَّاكُمْ مَلَكُ الْمَوْتِ الَّذِي وُكِّلَ بِكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ تُرْجَعُونَ (11)

    32|11| Say, ‘The angel of death given charge of you15 draws your souls,16 then to your Lord you will be returned.’17

    15. Shanqiti comments: “Here, mention is made of a single angel. But at several other places in the Qur’an, several angels have been mentioned as participating in the drawing of the soul. E.g. (16: 28),

    الَّذِينَ تَتَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلائِكَةُ ظَالِمِي أَنفُسِهِمْ (النحل - 28)

    “Those, whose lives the angels took while they were wronging themselves..”
    Or (6: 93),

    وَلَوْ تَرَى إِذِ الظَّالِمُونَ فِي غَمَرَاتِ الْمَوْتِ وَالْمَلآئِكَةُ بَاسِطُواْ أَيْدِيهِمْ (الأنعام - 93)

    “If you could see when the wrong-doers are in the agonies of death, angels stretching their hands.." (Adwa’ al-Qur’an).
    A literary implication of the textual word “tawaffa,” as explained by Qurtubi, is: “to reckon (count), and, take (or accept) in full.”
    The apparent meaning is that it is a particular angel that is meant, as a hadith would also lead us to believe. Some reports name him as `Izra’il ( عِزرائيل ) [which name means `Abdullah: Qurtubi].
    Qatadah and others have said that he has assistants (for his task) - Qutrubi.
    A hadith gives us to understand that it is the assistants who draw the soul until it is at the throat, and then `Izra’il takes over (Ibn Kathir).
    16. Razi takes our minds beyond the information we receive and store, without realizing the significance. That our souls are drawn by the angels, and left in their custody is known by all and sundry. But our concern ends with death. What about the time our souls (our selves) will be in the custody of the angels? He writes: The clean and purified soul will remain with the angels like someone among his kinsfolk, for the great consanguinity with them (the pure with the pure). As for the wicked soul, it will remain with them like a prisoner, (lonely), not knowing their language, nor they its language, with nothing common between them and it.
    Some ahadith lead us to believe that there are other angels to draw the souls of the Jinn, animals, insects, etc. (Alusi).
    17. Mujahid has said that the whole earth is no more than a tray for the angel of death from which he picks souls with complete ease (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn `Abbas is also reported to have made the statement as above. In fact, a hadith says the same thing but it is Mursal (Ibn Kathir).
    Those who bear some misgiving about how the angel of death can alone be drawing the souls of the thousands that die every day, may look again at the preceding ayah about relativity of time, although, in this case, in the reverse (Au.).

    وَلَوْ تَرَىٰ إِذِ الْمُجْرِمُونَ نَاكِسُو رُءُوسِهِمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ رَبَّنَا أَبْصَرْنَا وَسَمِعْنَا فَارْجِعْنَا نَعْمَلْ صَالِحًا إِنَّا مُوقِنُونَ (12)

    32|12| And, if you could but see when the criminals will be in the presence of their Lord,18 their heads lowered, (saying), ‘O our Lord! We have seen and we have heard. So, send us back that we may do righteousness. We are now indeed convinced.’

    18. Out of shame and regret (Ibn Zaid: Ibn Jarir).

    وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَآتَيْنَا كُلَّ نَفْسٍ هُدَاهَا وَلَٰكِنْ حَقَّ الْقَوْلُ مِنِّي لَأَمْلَأَنَّ جَهَنَّمَ مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ (13)

    32|13| And, had We so willed, We could give every soul its guidance.19 But the Word from Me came true (that) I shall surely fill Jahannum with the Jinn and mankind, all together.20

    19. What is the connection between these words: “Had We so willed, We could give every soul its guidance,” and the previous verse which said, “And, if you could but see when the criminals will be (in the state of) heads lowered before their Lord, (saying), ‘O our Lord! We have seen and we have heard. So, send us back that we may work righteousness. We are now indeed convinced?’” Imam Razi answers that were Allah to send the criminals back to the world for a retrial, they would still remain unbelievers, such stubborn unbelievers they are. The only way they could be led to guidance would be for Allah to lend guidance to every soul whether it desired it or not, sort of force belief on everyone: “Had We so willed, We could give every soul its guidance.” (But that has not been Allah’s scheme. He willed that they be given the free will to choose: Au.).
    Nonetheless, Imam Razi further elaborates that the unbelief of the unbelievers is the choice of their Lord who desired that they remain unbelievers. This choice was following His decision that He should create a world filled with good, but adulterated with a little evil. His will - to the effect that some people should remain unbelievers – is following this general design, viz., a few disbelieving, by Allah’s decree, among the rest believing by Allah’s decree.
    This however, is a complicated issue, and a controversial one too. A short work of this sort does not afford space for a wholesome discussion (Au.).
    Qurtubi offers us reconciliation. The Jabriyyah (those who denied free will) slipped to one extreme when they claimed that people’s guidance is bound with Allah’s will. They depended on the ayah (76: 30),

    وَمَا تَشَاؤُونَ إِلا أَن يَشَاء اللَّهُ (الإنسان - 30)

    “They do not will except that Allah should will.”
    They concluded that both guidance and error are Allah’s own creation in the people’s hearts. On the other hand, the Qadariyyah (who granted free will to man) claimed that man chooses guidance or error freely, following his own will. They substantiated their claim with the verse (81: 28),

    لِمَن شَاء مِنكُمْ أَن يَسْتَقِيمَ (التكوير - 28)

    “(The Qur’an is a reminder) for whoever of you that wishes to go straight.”
    But the truth lies in between, and they were misled (in their understanding of the issue) because they failed to consider that man is both free as well as bound (by destiny), one and at the same time. His hand – when it vibrates - vibrates without his will. But he also enjoys the power - and free will - to vibrate his hand, as and when he will. Those who did not distinguish between an involuntary vibration of the hand, and the deliberate, fell into error.
    We distinguish between what the humans enjoy as free will, and what they are forced to do against or despite their will. Our contention, writes Qurtubi, and perhaps over which we all agree is that we are not absolutely bound (robots in modern terms: Au.); so that, if we choose guidance, it is because we are forced to it, and are acting against our will. But rather, we deliberately choose guidance, following our free will. Allah (swt) has said,

    لِمَن شَاء مِنكُمْ أَن يَسْتَقِيمَ (التكوير - 28)

    “(The Qur’an is a reminder) for whoever of you that wishes to go straight.”
    Subsequent to our choice, we are helped on by Allah, an act which He rightly attributes to Himself. He said,

    وَمَا تَشَاؤُونَ إِلا أَن يَشَاء اللَّهُ (الإنسان - 30)

    “They do not will except that Allah should will,” and the implication is that the belief which is obtained by the believers is following their free will’s choice, although they could not have willed without Allah’s will agreeing with theirs. This explains why Allah said (2: 286),

    لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ (البقرة - 286)

    “Unto it (the soul) what it earned, and upon it what it earned.”
    20. That is, ‘My rule will prevail that I shall fill Jahannum with those who disobeyed Me’ (Qurtubi).

    فَذُوقُوا بِمَا نَسِيتُمْ لِقَاءَ يَوْمِكُمْ هَٰذَا إِنَّا نَسِينَاكُمْ ۖ وَذُوقُوا عَذَابَ الْخُلْدِ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ (14)

    32|14| Taste then, for that you forgot the encounter of this your day.21 We have indeed forgotten you; 22 and taste the chastisement of eternity for that you were doing.

    21. Imam Razi argues that one can only forget what he knows. How is this applicable to the general lot of the unbelievers (who do not seem to know)? He answers that when the unbelievers were told of the resurrection, reckoning, and retribution, or reward, their minds agreed that the system and the process was reasonable. Thus, they became like those who know. But they chose to forget.
    22. The translation follows the general understanding. However, Qurtubi points out, substantiating with examples from Arabic usage, that the “nasi’” of the text can also be understood in the sense of abandonment. That is, “Verily We have indeed abandoned you (in the torment).”

    إِنَّمَا يُؤْمِنُ بِآيَاتِنَا الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِّرُوا بِهَا خَرُّوا سُجَّدًا وَسَبَّحُوا بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَهُمْ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ ۩ (15)

    32|15| They alone believe in Our signs who, when they are reminded thereof, fall prostrate,23 celebrate the glory of their Lord (with) praise,24 and they do not wax proud.25

    23. Ibn `Abbas was of the opinion that the textual “sujjadan” is for “ruku’” (deep bow). He argued with the verse (38: 24),

    خَرَّ رَاكِعًا وَأَنَابَ (ص - 24)

    “He went into a deep bow, and turned (to Allah)” - Qurtubi, Alusi.
    Accordingly, the rule with the Hanafiyyah is that if an Imam recites a Sajdah-invoking ayah in a Prayer, and feels that the followers might get confused over whether he went into ruku` or sujud, he might as well go into ruku` at that point, since ruku` and sujud are homogenous acts (Au.).
    It is noteworthy that those who receive the reminder go straightaway into prostration, as they stay away from the beds, in devotion to Allah: not in fear and hope, which come later, and whose effects follow afterwards (Razi).
    24. That is, they say these words in prostration, ( سُبحان الله وبحَمدِه ) or words of similar nature (Qurtubi).
    25. “And they do not wax proud”: this gives us the reason why these people believed while those who chose to forget the realities disbelieved: they were arrogant (Au.).

    تَتَجَافَىٰ جُنُوبُهُمْ عَنِ الْمَضَاجِعِ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُمْ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنْفِقُونَ (16)

    32|16| Removed are their sides from the beds, as they invoke their Lord in fear and hope,26 and out of what We have bestowed, they expend.27

    26. Anas thought that the time-allusion by (yad`una rabbahum) is to the `Isha Prayer, while Dahhak thought that it is the time between `Isha and Fajr Prayers (Ibn Jarir). The report about Anas has a good chain attached to it (Ibn Kathir). Tirmidhi in fact declared it Sahih (Shawkani).
    But the preferred opinion, writes Ibn Jarir, is that of Hasan, Ibn Zayd and Mujahid who thought that the allusion by the invocation (yad`una rabbahum) is to voluntary Prayers, offered deep in the night, at which time their sides are removed from the beds. That is, they are in Prayers while rest of the mankind is in sleep. This is supported by a report coming through Mu`adh ibn Jabal and others that the Prophet said,

    أَلا أَدُلُّكَ عَلَى أَبْوَابِ الْخَيْرِ الصَّوْمُ جُنَّةٌ وَالصَّدَقَةُ تُطْفِئُ الْخَطِيئَةَ وَصَلَاةُ الرَّجُلِ فِي جَوْفِ اللَّيْلِ ثُمَّ قَرَأَ قَوْلَهُ تَعَالَى { تَتَجَافَى جُنُوبُهُمْ عَنْ الْمَضَاجِعِ حَتَّى بَلَغَ {يعملون} – (أحمد)

    “Shall I not lead you to the doors of all good? - fasts are a shield, charitable expending atones for sins, and a slave’s standing in the depth of the night.” Then he recited this verse.
    Another report, found in Tha`labi (as also in Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Marduwayh, as noted in Kanz: Au.) comes to us on the authority of Asma’ bint Yezid to the effect that the Prophet said,

    يجمع الله الناس يوم القيامة في صعيد واحد يسمعهم الداعي وينفذهم البصر، فيقوم مناد فينادي: أين الذين كانوا يحمدون الله في السراء والضراء؟ فيقومون وهم قليل فيدخلون الجنة بغير حساب، ثم يعود فينادي: أين الذين كانت {تتجافى جنوبهم عن المضاجع يدعون ربهم خوفا وطمعا ومما رزقناهم ينفقون}؟ فيقومون وهم قليل فيدخلون الجنة بغير حساب، ثم يعود فينادي: ليقم الذين كانوا {لا تلهيهم تجارة ولا بيع عن ذكر الله}! فيقومون وهم قليل فيدخلون الجنة بغير حساب، ثم يقوم سائر الناس فيحاسبون. – (كنز)

    “Allah will gather together the people in one field in a state that a caller will make them hear and the eyes will be able to see all. A caller will rise up and say, ‘Where are those who used to chant Allah’s glory in good and bad times?’ They will rise up – but few they will be – and will enter Paradise without reckoning. The caller will then return (to say), ‘Where are those to whom is applicable: Removed are their sides from the beds, as they invoke their Lord in fear and hope, and they expend out of We bestowed them?’ They will rise up – but few they will be - and will enter Paradise without reckoning. The caller will then return (to say), ‘Let those rise up whom neither commerce nor sale distracted from the remembrance of Allah.’ They will rise up – but few they will be – and entr Paradise without reckoning. It is after this that the rest will rise and taken up for reckoning.”
    Qurtubi has a slightly different version to offer. We have presented the version as in Kanz. Shawkani presented this report while discussing the status of those who were not distracted by commerce or sale at verse 37 of Surah Nur. See ch. 24, note no. 88 of this work (Au.).
    A report in Ahmad comes through Ibn Mas`ud who narrates the Prophet (saws) as having said:

    عَجِبَ رَبُّنَا مِنْ رَجُلَيْنِ رَجُلٍ ثَارَ عَنْ وِطَائِهِ وَلِحَافِهِ مِنْ بَيْنَ حِبِّهِ وَأَهْلِهِ إِلَى صَلاَتِهِ رَغْبَةً فِيمَا عِنْدِى وَشَفَقَةً مِمَّا عِنْدِى وَرَجُلٍ غَزَا فِى سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَانْهَزَمَ فَعَلِمَ مَا عَلَيْهِ فِى الاِنْهِزَامِ وَمَا لَهُ فِى الرُّجُوعِ فَرَجَعَ حَتَّى أُهَرِيقَ دَمُهُ فَيَقُولُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لِمَلاَئِكَتِهِ انْظُرُوا إِلَى عَبْدِى رَجَعَ رَغْبَةً فِيمَا عِنْدِى وَشَفَقَةً مِمَّا عِنْدِى حَتَّى أُهَرِيقَ دَمُهُ (أحمد)

    “Our Lord is pleased with two men: a man who jumped out of his bed to pray, leaving behind a warm blanket and a wife. Allah says to His angels, ‘Look at My slave, he jumped out of his bed to pray, leaving behind a warm blanket and a wife, in search of what is with Me.’ And a man who fought in the way of Allah, but they were defeated. He knew what displeasure awaited him if he fled, so he returned seeking what is with Me and lost his life. Allah says to the angels, ‘Look at My slave. He has returned in hope and fear of Me until his blood was shed.’”
    Abu Da’ud has a shorter version of this in his Sunan whose chain of narrators was not a happy one for Haythamiyy (Au.).
    Imam Ahmad has a report on the authority of Mu`adh ibn Jabal. He said,

    عَنْ مُعَاذِ بن جَبَلٍ، قَالَ: كُنْتُ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي سَفَرٍ، فَأَصْبَحْتُ قَرِيبًا مِنْهُ وَنَحْنُ نَسِيرُ، فَقُلْتُ: يَا نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ، أَلا تُخْبِرُنِي بِعَمَلٍ يُدْخِلُنِي الْجَنَّةَ، وَيُبَاعِدُنِي مِنَ النَّارِ؟ قَالَ: "لَقَدْ سَأَلْتَ عَنْ عَظِيمٍ، وَإِنَّهُ لَيَسِيرٌ عَلَى مَنْ يَسَّرَهُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ، تَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ، لا تُشْرِكُ بِاللَّهِ شَيْئًا، وَتُقِيمُ الصَّلاةَ، وَتُؤْتِي الزَّكَاةَ، وَتَصُومُ شَهْرَ رَمَضَانَ، وَتَحُجُّ الْبَيْتَ"
    ثُمَّ قَالَ: "أَلا أَدُلُّكَ عَلَى أَبْوَابِ الْخَيْرِ؟ الصَّوْمُ جُنَّةٌ، وَالصَّدَقَةُ تُطْفِئُ الْخَطِيئَةَ، وَصَلاةُ الرَّجُلِ مِنْ جَوْفِ اللَّيْلِ"ثُمَّ قَرَأَ:"تَتَجَافَى جُنُوبُهُمْ عَنِ الْمَضَاجِعِ"[السجدة آية 16] حَتَّى قَرَأَ:"جَزَاءً بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ" [السجدة آية 17] ، ثُمَّ قَالَ:"أَلا أُخْبِرُكَ بِرَأْسِ أَمْرِ الإِسْلامِ، وَعَمُودِهِ، وَذُرْوَةِ سَنَامِهِ؟ الْجِهَادِ"
    ثُمَّ قَالَ: "أَلا أُخْبِرُكَ بِمِلاكِ ذَلِكَ؟"، قُلْتُ: بَلَى، يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، قَالَ: فَأَخَذَ بِلِسَانِهِ، فَقَالَ:"اكْفُفْ عَلَيْكَ هَذَا"، فَقُلْتُ: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، وَإِنَّا لَمُؤَاخَذُونَ بِمَا نَتَكَلَّمُ بِهِ؟ قَالَ:"ثَكِلَتْكَ أُمُّكَ يَا مُعَاذُ، وَهَلْ يَكُبُّ النَّاسَ عَلَى وُجُوهِهِمْ أَوْ قَالَ: مَنَاخِرِهِمْ فِي النَّارِ إِلا حَصَائِدُ أَلْسِنَتِهِمْ؟"

    “I was with the Prophet in one of those journeys. On one occasion I came close to him while we were riding. I asked, “Prophet of Allah. Will you not tell me about a deed that will lead me to Paradise, and put me away from the Fire?” He answered, “You have asked about something great. But it is easy for him unto whom Allah renders it easy: Worship Allah without associating anyone with Him; establish the Prayers, offer the zakah, fast the Ramadan and perform the pilgrimage.”
    Then he added, “Should I not lead you to the doors of all good? Fasts are a shield, charity extinguishes the sins, and a man’s Prayers in the midst of the night.” Then he recited this verse, “Removed are their sides from the beds, as they invoke their Lord in fear and hope, and out of what We have bestowed, they expend. No soul knows what comfort of the eyes has been kept concealed for them as a reward for what they were doing.”
    Then he added, “May I not tell you about the apex of the affair, its pillars and its zenith? It is Jihad.”
    He further added, “Should I not tell you about something which overarches all these?” I said, “Yes, do it O Messenger of Allah.” (According to other reports, “At that point a rider or a group of them came up. I feared that they will distract him from the topic. So I asked, ‘Messenger of Allah (you said), Should I not tell you about something which overarches all these?’”).
    In reply he held his tongue and said, “Keep this under your control.” I asked, “Are we going to be held responsible for what we say?” He replied, “Your mother may lose you. Are the people going to be thrust into the Fire by their faces – or he said by their nostrils – but because of what their tongues reap?” This report is also in Nasa’i, Ibn Majah and Tirmidhi, who declared it Hasan Sahih (Ibn Kathir).
    27. One might note how the rights of Allah’s creations always follow the mention of His own rights (Au.).

    فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا أُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ جَزَاءً بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ (17)

    32|17| No soul knows what comfort of the eyes has been kept concealed for them as a reward for what they were doing.28

    28. The pronoun expressed in “them” is for the believers endowed with qualities mentioned earlier, and not the “soul” itself about which Allah said that it does not know what has been concealed for it as rewards for spending the nights away from the beds (Au.).
    A report in this context comes through several chains on the authority of Abu Hurayrah:

    عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ اللَّهُ أَعْدَدْتُ لِعِبَادِي الصَّالِحِينَ مَا لا عَيْنٌ رَأَتْ وَلا أُذُنٌ سَمِعَتْ وَلا خَطَرَ عَلَى قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ فَاقْرَءُوا إِنْ شِئْتُمْ فَلا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا أُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ (البخاري)

    “Allah has prepared what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no close angel has heard and no mind has imagined, for those whose sides stay away from the beds. Read if you wish, 'No soul knows what comfort of the eyes has been kept concealed for them as a reward for what they were doing '” (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud remarked that it is also written in the Tawrah,

    لقد أعدّ الله للذين تتجافى جنوبهم عن المضاجع ما لم تر عين، ولم يخطر على قلب بشر، ولم تسمع أذن، وما لم يسمعه ملك مقرّب.

    “Allah has prepared for those whose sides stay away from the beds, what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no close angel has heard and no mind has imagined" (Ibn Jarir).
    Hasan al-Busri has said, as recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim, that rewards match deeds. Since these people concealed their deeds, they will be rewarded with rewards whose qualities have been concealed (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    We might add that since every rising from the bed late at night causes burning of the eyes, Allah will reward them with what will cool their eyes (Au.).
    (But it seems rewards as promised here will be extended to those too who will remain faithful and on righteous deeds): Bukhari, Muslim and Tirmidhi have on the authority of Abu Hurayrah and others that, Allah said,

    قَالَ اللّهُ عَزّ وَجَلّ: أَعْدَدْتُ لِعِبَادِيَ الصّالِحِينَ مَا لاَ عَيْنٌ رَأَتْ، وَلاَ أُذُنٌ سَمِعَتْ، وَلاَ خَطَرَ عَلَىَ قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ. (المسلم)

    “I have prepared for My righteous slaves what no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no man’s mind has imagined.”
    Another report of Bukhari adds, “.. reserved, quite apart from all that you have known (of the pleasures of Paradise).”
    And Muslim has on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said,

    عنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، عَنِ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: "مَنْ يَدْخُلِ الْجَنّةَ يَنْعَمُ لاَ يَبْأَسُ لاَ تَبْلَىَ ثِيَابُهُ وَلاَ يَفْنَىَ شَبَابُهُ". (المسلم)

    “He who entered Paradise will be in luxuries, will never be deprived, his clothes will not wear out and never will his youth fade."
    It is reported on the authority of al-Mughira b. Shu’ba that the Messenger of Allah said:

    سأَلَ مُوسَىَ رَبّهُ: مَا أَدْنَى أَهْلِ الْجَنّةِ مَنْزلَةً؟ قَالَ: هُوَ رَجُلٌ يَجِئُ بَعْدَ مَا أُدْخِلَ أَهْلُ الْجَنّةِ الجَنّةَ فَيُقَالُ لَهُ: ادْخُلِ الْجَنّةَ. فَيَقُولُ: أَيْ رَبّ كَيْفَ؟ وَقَدْ نَزَلَ النّاسُ مَنَازِلَهُمْ وَأَخَذُوا أَخَذَاتِهِمِ؟ فَيُقَالُ لَهُ: أَتَرْضَىَ أَنْ يَكُونَ لَكَ مِثْلُ مُلْكِ مَلِكٍ مِنْ مُلُوكِ الدّنْيَا؟ فَيَقُولُ: رَضِيتُ، رَبّ فَيُقُولَ: لَكَ ذَلَكَ وَمِثْلُهُ وَمِثْلُهُ وَمِثْلُهُ وَمِثْلُهُ. فَقَالَ فِي الْخَامِسَةِ: رَضِيتُ، رَبّ فَيَقُولُ: هَذَا لَكَ وَعَشَرَةُ أَمْثَالِهِ. وَلَكَ مَا اشْتَهَتْ نَفْسُكَ وَلَذّتْ عَيْنُكَ. فَيَقُولُ: رَضِيتُ، رَبّ قَالَ: رَبّ فَأَعْلاَهُمْ مَنْزِلَةً؟ قَالَ: أُولَئِكَ الّذِينَ أَرَدْتُ غَرَسْتُ كَرَامَتَهُمْ بِيَدِي. وَخَتَمْتُ عَلَيْهَا فَلَمْ تَرَ عَيْنٌ وَلَمْ تَسْمَعْ أُذُنٌ وَلَمْ يَخْطُرْ عَلَى قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ" قَالَ: وَمِصْدَاقُهُ فِي كِتَابِ الله عَزّ وَجَلّ: {فَلاَ تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا أُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرّةِ أَعْيُنٍ} (السجدة الاَية:) - (المسلم)

    “Musa asked his Lord: ‘Who amongst the inhabitants of Paradise will be the lowest in rank?’ Allah said: ‘Of those deserving Paradise, it is he who will be the last admitted into it. It will be said to him: ‘Enter Paradise.’ He will say: ‘O my Lord! How (can I enter) when the people have settled in their places and have taken their shares?”’ It will be said to him: ‘Would it please you, if there is for you a kingdom similar to the kingdom of a king of the world?' He will say: ‘I am pleased my Lord.' He will say: ‘For you is that, and like that, and like that, and like that, and like that.’ At the fifth (time) he will say: ‘I am well pleased my Lord.' He (Allah) will say: ‘It is for you and, ten times like it, and for you is what your heart desires and your eyes are pleased with.' He will say: ‘I am well pleased, my Lord.' (Thereupon) Musa asked: ‘(Which then is) the highest of their ranks?’ Allah said: ‘They are the chosen ones. I shall establish their honor with My own hand and then set a seal over it. (They will be blessed with bounties) that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined.’ This is substantiated by the Book of Allah (which says): ‘No soul knows what comfort of the eyes has been kept concealed for them as a reward for what they were doing’” (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Majid succeeds in searching out similar verses from the Old and New Testaments. He quotes: “For, since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, nor hath the eye seen, O God, besides thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.’ (Is. 64: 4).” And, “But, as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath propounded for them that love him.’ (1. co. 2: 9).”

    فَمَنْ كَانَ مُؤْمِنًا كَمَنْ كَانَ فَاسِقًا ۚ لَا يَسْتَوُونَ (18)

    32|18| Is he then, who has been a believer, like unto him who has been wicked? They are not equal.29

    29. (Although the application is general, the immediate cause of revelation was, in the opinion of: Au.), `Ata b. Yasar, Suddi and others (who) said that the verse was revealed concerning `Ali ibn Abi Talib and Walid b. `Uqbah b. Abi Mu`ayt (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Reports in Abu al-Faraj’s al-Aghani, Ibn `Adiyy, Ibn Marduwayh, Khatib and Ibn `Asakir tell us that when Walid b. `Uqbah b. Abi Mu`ayt boasted his superiority over `Ali (on the day of Badr: Zamakhshari), he retorted by saying, “Shut up. I am a believer, while you are a libertine” (Shawkani).
    It is reported of Hasan b. `Ali that he told Walid b. `Uqbah, “How can you speak ill of `Ali when Allah named him a ‘mu’min’ in ten places in the Qur’an, while He named you ‘fasiq?‘” (Zamakhshari).
    The report however is unconfirmed. And perhaps by ten places he meant ten such places where Allah mentioned the qualities of a believer (Au).
    It might be recalled that this is the same Walid, writes Qurtubi, who was alluded to as “fasiq” (libertine) in the Qur’nic verse of Al-Hujurat (49: 6) which said,

    يا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَأٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَى مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ (الحجرات -6)

    “Believers, if there comes to you a fasiq with news, investigate, lest you harm a people in ignorance and then turn up regretful over what you did.” And, this is the same Walid who was found drunk while leading in Fajr Prayers, during the caliphate of `Uthman.
    Ibn Kathir, however, does not report the row between `Ali and Walid, and is of the opinion that by the word “fasiq” as appearing in this verse, the allusion is to (any) “kafir”.
    That said, some doubt remains about the row between `Ali and Walid because, firstly, this chapter is Makkan, and, secondly, it is reported that at the time of Badr, when the row is reported to have taken place, Waleed was too young, perhaps a boy; although some reports recorded by Ibn Hajr and biographers of the Prophet’s life suggest that he was an adult at the time of Badr (Alusi).

    أَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ جَنَّاتُ الْمَأْوَىٰ نُزُلًا بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ (19)

    32|19| As for those who believed and did righteous deeds, for them are gardens of (eternal) Abode, 30 as hospitality for that they were doing.

    30. Ma’wa of the text is one of the several kinds of Paradise. Allah (swt) said (53: 12-15),

    أَفَتُمَارُونَهُ عَلَى مَا يَرَى. وَلَقَدْ رَآهُ نَزْلَةً أُخْرَى. عِندَ سِدْرَةِ الْمُنْتَهَى. عِندَهَا جَنَّةُ الْمَأْوَى (النجم – 12-15)

    “Do you dispute him over what he saw? Indeed he saw him at the time of another descent: at the Utmost Lote Tree. By it is the Garden of Ma’wa.”
    And, it is said that this Paradise is so named because souls of the martyrs take refuge in this retreat (ma’wa). It is also said that it is by the right side of the `Arsh (Zamakhshari).

    وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فَسَقُوا فَمَأْوَاهُمُ النَّارُ ۖ كُلَّمَا أَرَادُوا أَنْ يَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا أُعِيدُوا فِيهَا وَقِيلَ لَهُمْ ذُوقُوا عَذَابَ النَّارِ الَّذِي كُنْتُمْ بِهِ تُكَذِّبُونَ (20)

    32|20| But as for those who acted wickedly, their abode will be the Fire. Every time they wish to get out of it, they will be returned to it.31 They will be told, ‘Taste the chastisement of the Fire that you used to cry lies to.’

    31. Fudayl b. `Iyad said, “By Allah, their hands will be tied, their feet shackled, flames raising them upwards, and the angels thrusting iron forks into them” and they will be told, ‘taste the torment of the Fire that you were denying’” (Ibn Kathir).

    وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُمْ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ الْأَدْنَىٰ دُونَ الْعَذَابِ الْأَكْبَرِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ (21)

    32|21| And, (in the meanwhile), We shall give them the taste of lesser chastisement before the greater chastisement,32 haply that they will return.

    32. To what is the allusion by “the lesser chastisement?” According to Ibn `Abbas, Ubayy b. Ka`b, Abu al-`Aliyyah, Dahhak, Hasan and others, the allusion is to the sufferings, diseases, and ordeals of life, such as, the defeat at Badr: so that they might repent. As for “the greater chastisement,” the allusion is to that of the Hereafter.
    That was the opinion of Ibn Mas`ud, Mujahid and Hasan also (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنْ ذُكِّرَ بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِ ثُمَّ أَعْرَضَ عَنْهَا ۚ إِنَّا مِنَ الْمُجْرِمِينَ مُنْتَقِمُونَ (22)

    32|22| And who can do greater wrong than he who is reminded of the signs of his Lord, but turns away from them. Surely, We shall take vengeance upon the criminals.33

    33. Ibn Jarir mentions a hadith which reports one of the several ways of defining a “criminal.” It is declared weak by Haythamiyy but differently worded versions are found in other collections also: Mu`adh ibn Jabal reports the Prophet as having said,

    ثَلاثٌ مَنْ فَعَلَهُنَّ فَقَدْ أَجْرَمَ: مَنْ عَقَدَ لِوَاءً فِي غَيْرِ حَقٍّ، أَوْ عَقَّ وَالِدَيْهِ، أَوْ مَشَى مَعَ ظَالِمٍ، فَقَدْ أَجْرَمَ، يَقُولُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: "إِنَّا مِنَ الْمُجْرِمِينَ مُنْتَقِمُونَ (رواه الطبراني وفيه عبد العزيز بن عبيد الله بن حمزة وهو ضعيف – الهيثمي)

    “There are three things that whoever did, committed a crime: He who pitched his flag on what is untruth, or mistreated his parents, or, accompanied a wrongdoer helping him; he committed a crime. Allah says, ‘We shall take vengeance upon the criminals.’”
    Qatadah has said, “Beware of turning away from the remembrance of Allah. Whosoever turns away from remembering Him will be the most misguided, the most in need, and the most guilty of sin. Allah said about such of those who do that, ‘Surely, We shall take vengeance upon the criminals’ (Ibn Kathir).

    وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ فَلَا تَكُنْ فِي مِرْيَةٍ مِنْ لِقَائِهِ ۖ وَجَعَلْنَاهُ هُدًى لِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ (23)

    32|23| Indeed, We gave Musa the Book,34 therefore, be not in any doubt concerning the encounter with him.35 And We made it a guide to the children of Israel.

    34. “With this passage the discourse returns to the theme enunciated at the beginning of this surah – namely, the divine origin of the revelation granted to Muhammad, which, as the present passage points out, proceeds from the same source as that granted to Moses (the last of the great apostles of God accepted as such by all of the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam). Furthermore, the identity of the fundamental truths in all divine revelations, stressed in the above verse, implies an identity of the moral demands made of the followers of those revelations irrespective of the period, race or social environment” (Asad).
    Yusuf Ali comments on the word ‘Book’: "The Book’ is not here coextensive with Revelation. Moses had, revealed to him, a Law, a shari`at, which was to guide his people in all the practical affairs of their life. Jesus, after him, was also inspired by Allah: but his Injil or Gospel contained only general principles and not a Code or shari`at. The holy Prophet was the next one to have a shari`at or ‘Book’ in that sense: for the Qur’an contains both a Code and general principles. This Sura is a Makkan Sura. The Code came later in Madinah. But he is given the assurance that he will also have a Code, to supersede the earlier Law, and complete the Revelation of Allah.”
    35. Ibn `Abbas reported the Prophet as having said that the allusion is to Musa (asws) meeting with his Lord (Ibn Jarir). The hadith is in Tabarani (Ibn Kathir).
    There have been several other interpretations that we have avoided to reproduce because they conflict with the above hadith that Haythami declared trustworthy (Au.).

    وَجَعَلْنَا مِنْهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا لَمَّا صَبَرُوا ۖ وَكَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا يُوقِنُونَ (24)

    32|24| And We appointed from among them leaders guiding by Our command: when they observed patience,36 and continued to have sure faith in Our signs.37

    36. That is, when they showed patience (in the face of difficulties) remaining steadfast in religion, We made them leaders in piety. Or, differently understood, it was because they observed patience against the glamour of the world, and its trappings, shunning them, that they earned the right to leadership (Ibn Jarir).
    Sufyan has said, “It is not deserving of a man to be a leader until he can shun the world.” Some other scholars have said that it is through sure faith and perseverance that one qualifies to be a leader (in piety) - Ibn Kathir.
    37. That is, in a similar manner shall Allah (swt) make followers of this revelation, (who meet with the conditions of perseverance in efforts, and consistency in faith), ‘guides’ for the peoples of the world (Razi).

    إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ يَفْصِلُ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ (25)

    32|25| Surely, your Lord - He will judge between them on the Day of Standing, in matters they were differing between themselves.38

    38. The allusion is to the perennial religious disputes over Divinity, God’s oneness, nature of Prophethood, or of the Hereafter, Resurrection and Reckoning, and the like (Ibn Jarir in effect).

    أَوَلَمْ يَهْدِ لَهُمْ كَمْ أَهْلَكْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ مِنَ الْقُرُونِ يَمْشُونَ فِي مَسَاكِنِهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ ۖ أَفَلَا يَسْمَعُونَ (26)

    32|26| Does it not guide them: how many nations We destroyed before them amid (whose) dwelling-places they walk about? 39 Verily, in that are sure signs. What, will they not hear?

    39. The allusion is to the past communities such as `Ad, Thamud, and others, amidst whose ruins the Quraysh passed by and strolled in, when they journeyed out.

    أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا أَنَّا نَسُوقُ الْمَاءَ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ الْجُرُزِ فَنُخْرِجُ بِهِ زَرْعًا تَأْكُلُ مِنْهُ أَنْعَامُهُمْ وَأَنْفُسُهُمْ ۖ أَفَلَا يُبْصِرُونَ (27)

    32|27| Have they not seen that We drive the water towards dry land devoid of herbage,40 and then bring forth vegetation therewith whereof eat their cattle and they themselves? What, have they not the vision?41

    40. This is how the textual “juruz” has been explained by most commentators (Au.).
    Ibn Jarir however thinks that it refers to a land that lets nothing settle upon itself, but spoils it, hence Qatada’s definition as “dusty.”
    41. “‘The verse begins with ‘do they not see?’ a physical act. It ends with ‘have they not the vision,’ a matter of spiritual insight” (Yusuf Ali).

    وَيَقُولُونَ مَتَىٰ هَٰذَا الْفَتْحُ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ (28)

    32|28| And they say, ‘When will this decision42 be if you are truthful?’

    42. Although the textual word is “fat-h” meaning opening, or victory, the preferred interpretation is that the allusion is to the decision regarding the promised chastisement (Ibn Jarir).

    قُلْ يَوْمَ الْفَتْحِ لَا يَنْفَعُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِيمَانُهُمْ وَلَا هُمْ يُنْظَرُونَ (29)

    32|29| Say, ‘On the day of decision43 their belief shall not profit the unbelievers, nor shall they be respited.’44

    43. That is, the day of Judgment (Mujahid – Ibn Jarir).
    The literal meaning of “yawm al-Fath” as the day of the fall of Makkah, as some have thought, cannot be accurate because Allah followed up with words, “On the day of decision their belief shall not profit the unbelievers, nor shall they be respited.” That is, their assertion of belief on the day Makkah fell should not have been acceptable. But, in actual fact the Prophet accepted those of the Makkans as Muslims who wished to join Islam after the fall of Makkah (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Hakim, who declared the report trustworthy, as well as Bayhaqi, have reported that in the opinion of Ibn `Abbas the allusion was to the victory at Badr, where the faith of the leading pagans did not profit them after their fall (Shawkani).
    44. That is, they will not be allowed a return to previous life to amend their ways (Razi).

    فَأَعْرِضْ عَنْهُمْ وَانْتَظِرْ إِنَّهُمْ مُنْتَظِرُونَ (30)

    32|30| Therefore, turn away from them45 and wait; they are (also) waiting.46

    45. That is, when the tendency to contend is noticed among the opponents, it is better to turn one’s attention away from them (Thanwi).
    46. That is, they are waiting for your demise and destruction.