Surat Al-Wāqi`ah

What is the Qur'an About?

Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma`ani
Syed Iqbal Zaheer

تفسير إِشراقُ المَعَاني
سيد إقبال ظهير


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?
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


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
Arba`ahal, Kitab al-Fiqh `ala Madhahib al-Arba`ah by Abdul Rahman al-Jaziri
Asad: The Message of the Qur’an by Muhammad Asad (d. 1412 A.H.)
`Awn al-Ma`bud: Sharh Sunan Abi Da’ud, Muhammad Shams al-Haq al-`Azimabadi.
`Ayni, `Umdatu al-Qari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, Badruddin `Ayni, Ihya al-Turath al-Islami, Beirut.
Bada’i`: Bada’i` al-Tafsir, Al-Jami` al-Tafsir al-Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, collected by Yusri Sayyid Muhammad, Dar Ibn Jawzi, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 1993
E.I.: Encyclopedia of Islam, E.J. Brill, Leiden 1991
Fath-h/Fath/Ibn Hajr: Fut-h al-Bari bi Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, by Hafiz Ahmed b. Ali ibn Hajr al-`Asqalani (d.852 A.H.)
Haythami, , Majma`u al-Zawa’id wa Manba` al-Fawa’id, Nuruddin `Ali b. abi Bakr, Mu’assasatu al-Ma`arif, Beyrut.
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.
Ibn Qayyim: Al-Tafsir Al-Qayyim, by Shamsuddin Muhammad b. Abi Bakr Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (d.751 A.H.) collected by Muhammad Uways Al-Nadwi.
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.
Kanz: Kanz al-`Ummal,by Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi.
Lane: An Arabic-English Lexicon, by Edward Willian Lane, Librarie Du Luban, 1968
Lisan: Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manzur, (d. 711 A.H.).
Lughat: Lughat al-Qur’an (Urdu) by Mawlana Abdul Rashid No`mani & Mawlana Sayyid Abdud-Da’im Al-Jalali.
Ma`arif /Shafi`: Ma`arif al Qur’an by Mufti Muhammad Shafi` Deobandi (d. 1396 A.H.).
Majid: Holy Qur’an Translation and Commentary (English) by `Abdul Majid Daryabadi (1397).
Majidi: Holy Qur’an Translation and Commentary by `Abdul Majid Daryabadi (Urdu).
Manar, Tafsir al-Manar, Rashid Rada Misri, Dar al-Ma`rifa, Beirut.
Mawdudi/Tafhim: Tafhim al-Qur’an by Sayyid Abul A`la Mawdudi (d.1979 C.E.)
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.
Shabbir/`Uthmani: Al-Qur’an al-Karim, Commentary by Shabbir Ahmed `Uthmani (d. 1370 A.H.).
Shanqiti: Adwa‘ al-Bayan, Fi Idahi Al-Qur’an bi ‘l-Qur’an by Muhammad Al-Amin b.Muhammad Al-Mukhtar Al-Jakani Al-Shanqiti.
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

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.

“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.


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 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. 56

    Merits of the Surah

    1. There are several ways in which this Surah is connected with the previous one. One, the previous Surah repeatedly warned in words, “So, how were My chastisement and My warnings?” So, as a complimentary, this Surah repeatedly asks, “So which of the favors of your Lord will you two deny?“ Two, the previous Surah ended by mentioning, “a Sovereign, Omnipotent.” The question arose: who is this Sovereign, Omnipotent? The answer is in the first word of this present Surah: He is “the All-merciful.” That is, He is the One whose primary Quality is mercy: He who, out of His mercy, sent down the Qur’an, the gateway to all kinds of blessings (Au. with points from Razi).
    `Ali is reported to have said that everything has its bride. The Qur’an’s bride is Surah al-Rahman (Qurtubi).
    The report has been treated as of Hasan status by the author of Fayd al-Qadir (Au.).
    2. Some scholars have thought that this is a Makkan revelation, while others that it is Madinan. Yet others say it has both Makkan and Madinan revelations (Zamakhshari, Shawkani).
    3. That is, gave man the power of speech (Razi and others). After having spent millions of dollars and dedicating decades of research, the scientists have finally concluded that these dumb animals will not learn how to speak (Au.).
    4. That is, they follow a well computed fixed course. Alusi, who died some 150 years ago, mentions at this point that the earlier belief of the scientists was that the sun is stationary. However, recently they have changed their opinion and begun to say that the sun is also on the move. This demonstrates that Alusi kept himself abreast of modern knowledge, because, although scientists knew of the sun’s movement around the orbit since around a century ago, it was not in common knowledge until last few decades.
    5. The translation follows the understanding of Mujahid, Qatadah (and many late commentators: Au.). “Najm” is used for a stem-less plant that cannot stand tall on its own, such as, for instance, vegetable plants. This was the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Sa`id b. Jubayr and Suddi. Ibn Jarir prefers this opinion. But a few others have understood it in the sense of “star” which is the more popularly known meaning. Commentators are equally divided between the two meanings.
    6. That is, they are submitted to Allah’s commands.
    7. That is, He established justice (Mujahid: Ibn Jarir); without which the universe could not have existed in its present organized form (Alusi).
    The second mention of “mizan” in the verse which follows, indicates that the “mizan” of this reference, in this context of cosmic objects, refers to the balance of things noticeable in nature.
    It is widely believed that the universe originated with a big bang. Calculations show that had the explosive strength of the big bang been smaller by one in 1060 the Universe would have collapsed upon itself due to gravitational pull. Had it been bigger by one in 1060 galaxies would not have formed.
    There are four forces of nature: the gravitational, the strong (nuclear) force, the weak force and the electromagnetic force. Among these, the gravitational force is the weakest. It is a trillion times weaker than the strong force that keeps the protons in an atom’s nucleus together. Yet, it is said that if the gravitational force was stronger by one in 1040 the universe would have collapsed upon itself during the first few microseconds of its formation and there would have been no stars or galaxies. On the other hand, if it was weaker by the same amount, matter would have been flung far and wide and no stars or galaxies would have come into existence. (This balance of forces is different from the balance between them as a combination of four forces, and the power of explosion of the big bang stated above).
    On the other hand, if the nuclear force (strong force) was slightly weaker, the nucleus of an atom would disintegrate. So, we would have no atom. Deuterium has one proton stuck to one neutron. Now the sun and other stars use Deuterium as a necessary link in a chain of nuclear reaction to keep shining. In contrast, if the strong force was slightly stronger, there would be virtually no hydrogen left in the universe, because two protons would then stick to each other, overcoming the repelling force of the electrical charge, and annihilate one proton to reduce it to a neutron. Thus, only Helium would have existed and no Hydrogen, and, therefore, no water and no other elements.
    The balance of forces has been critically managed. If gravity was slightly weaker, or electromagnetism slightly stronger, or the electron slightly less massive compared to the proton, all stars would be red dwarfs (temp. 6000 deg.), not allowing for life to develop. A correspondingly tiny change the other way, and the stars would be blue giants (of about 60,000 deg. temp): also not allowing life to develop. Similarly if the sun was 1.2 times larger, the light output would have not have allowed life to develop. Also, had it been 1.2 times larger, it would have burned up all its fuel and become a red giant in about 4 billion years. The sun is now 5 billion years old, which means there could have been no life without the above balance of forces. Again, if the sun was 20% smaller, it would not produce enough blue light for plants to make sugar and oxygen efficiently.
    The temperature of the sun has also been critically maintained. Its surface temperature is 6000 deg. C. If it is reduced by 1%, life will freeze on earth. If it is increased by 1%, the earth will be too hot for life. In fact, the position of the sun in the Galaxy has itself been precisely determined. At its two-third distance from the galaxy center, it allows for life to exist: closer, and the radiation from the cosmic center would destroy life.
    To add to the Design idea, the earth is now in a sphere around the sun called as the Ecosphere. Life can exist only in this sphere. If the earth was closer or at greater distance from the sun, life could not survive.
    The entire planetary system around the sun is precariously balanced. Every planet has its function from the position at which it has been placed. Change the position, and you end up in chaos. A scientist, Jacques Lasker, applied a technique called Chaos Mathematics, in which each of the planetary gravitational effects in the solar system is written in an equation called a differential equation to include many variables. 150,000 such algebraic terms fed to a computer say that they account for the stability and consistency of the orbits of the planets.
    The earth’s own size is critical. If it was more massive, its core would be too hot. The transfer of heat from the core to the crust would not allow plant life to flourish. Further, the atmospheric pressure would increase, and would not allow for the heart to pull up the blood from the legs, unless the size of the heart was doubled. On the other hand, if the size of the earth is reduced, the gravitational pull would be weaker and the earth would not be able to retain its atmosphere: it would fly off into space. Also, a thinner atmosphere would not be able to protect life on earth from the dangerous radiation of the sun. In fact, there is not a single phenomenon in nature, but whose existence depends precariously balanced on laws and forces of nature (Au.).
    8. Although the word is “mizan,” the meaning is “mawzun”, that is, the thing that is weighed (Razi).
    9. This is how Ibn `Abbas, Hasan, Mujahid and others understood the word “anam” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    10. Although “provision” is another meaning of the word “rayhan,” most have understood it to mean fragrance or fragrant plants (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Thus, four kinds of means of sustenance have been mentioned: fruits that are eaten for pleasure, staple food for diet, a fruit (date) which is both fruit as well as a staple food, and, finally, fragrance, which is the need of every cultured man (Au.).
    11. There is no disagreement among the commentators that by “you two” the allusion is to mankind and Jinn (Au.). The repetitive refrain “So which of the favors of your Lord will you two deny” points to several favors. Of them some are material, others spiritual, a few apparent, others unapparent, some virtual, others real, a few others both virtual as well as real – in short, each repetition alludes to a new and different favor (Thanwi).
    12. Summing up the various statements in the Qur’an concerning man’s creation, it can be said that he was created – in stages - from,

    تراب- طين الازب – حمأٍ مسنون – صلصلة كالفخار
    “Dust, then a sticky clay, turned into a putrid sticking substance, and that to dried clay like pottery that makes sound when tapped” (Zamakhshari and Qurtubi, slightly modified).
    13. Another meaning of “marij” that Ibn `Abbas and some others gave is, “the best of fires.” A third meaning is, “pure fire” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Lit., “marij” is for a mixture, and could as well be meaning “a mixture of flames” (Au.).
    14. That is, the two easts and two wests of summer and winter (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    15. Ibn `Abbas, Sa`id b. Jubayr and others thought that the allusion by “bahar” is to waters, and by “two waters” it is to the waters in the heaven and waters in the earth, that meet together (once every year) - Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir.
    16. That is, the two waters preserve their qualities, despite the fact that they meet. But there have been other interpretations. Qatadah and Ibn Zayd however said that the two: sweet and sour do not meet with each other (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). See Surah Al-Furqan, ayah 53 for further details.
    This non-mixing however, is for a while, long or short. Ultimately of course, if the two waters are side by side, sweet water has to get submerged into the salty water of the sea (Razi).
    Knowing, as we do, that the Jinn live on water as well, (where Shaytan spreads his throne), there is possibility that the sweet water, (which maintains its characteristics far across into the sea to be visible for several miles), is useful for the Jinn (Au.).
    17. “Lu’lu’” is for big pearls while “marjan” is for the small ones. But Ibn Mas`ud said the latter stands for coral (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir). Ibn `Abbas said that when it rains on the seas, the drop of rain water that falls into the mouth of a sea-shell becomes a pearl (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir). The opinion of Ibn `Abbas is in Ibn Abi Hatim and others (Shawkani), and of course there have been other opinions about the identity of “marjan.”
    Of knowledge that the pearls come from the sea and not rivers, Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir explain that although the pronoun “minhuma” covers both sea as well as fresh water, the allusion is only to one, just as in verse (71: 15-16) which says,
    أَلَمْ تَرَوْا كَيْفَ خَلَقَ اللَّهُ سَبْعَ سَمَوَاتٍ طِبَاقًا وَجَعَلَ الْقَمَرَ فِيهِنَّ نُورًا

    “Have they not observed how Allah has created the seven heavens in layers and placed among them the moon as a light.” Here too, Allah used the plural pronoun, lending the meaning that Allah placed a moon in each of the seven firmaments, while, as we know, the moon is found in our firmament alone. There are other examples of such usage. Even the usually well-informed Razi and Alusi offer the same explanation, while the latter uses a whole page to discuss why Allah used a noun in dual to include both sea as well as freshwater as sources of pearls and coals while they are extracted from seas alone. Mawdudi adds the possibility that since the sea water contains both alkaline as well as fresh water, the usage is literally correct.

    But the Qur’an comes on top. Perhaps, until recent times pearls were obtained from seas alone. However, latest information tells us that pearls are found in fresh water also. The Grzimek’s Animal Encyclopedia has the following to state (under Unionideas): “Freshwater mussels in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere have produced pearls of great value, as for example those from the Mississippi River.” And, “Members of the marine Pteriidae and freshwater Unionoidea have been sources of natural pearls and mother-of-pearl shell for centuries.” The Encyclopedia Britannica states the following under “pearls”: “Pearls are characterized by their translucence and luster and by a delicate play of surface colour called orient. The more perfect its shape (spherical or drop like) and the deeper its luster, the greater its value. Only those pearls produced by mollusks whose shells are lined with mother-of-pearl (e.g., certain species of both saltwater oysters and freshwater clams) are really fine pearls; pearls from other mollusks are reddish or whitish, porcellaneous, or lacking in pearly luster. Jewelers commonly refer to saltwater pearls as Oriental pearls and to those produced by freshwater mollusks as freshwater pearls” (Au.).
    As always, the Shi`ah have a queer explanation. According to one of their reports, `Ali and Fatimah are two waters (bahran) from whom issued Hasan and Hussain who are pearl and coral (lu’lu and marjan). After noting above, Alusi adds that although to him Hasan and Hussain are dearer than lu’lu’ and marjaan, the interpretation is a piece of nonsense.
    18. It is said that once `Ali was by the shore of River Furat when a ship passed by. He remarked, “By Him who makes this ship plough through the water, neither did I kill `Uthman nor did the thought ever occur to me (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    19. “On it,” i.e., on the earth.
    20. There is isn’t any difference in opinion that by “the Face” the allusion is to the Person of Allah, Most High.
    21. “Ikram: two ideas are prominent in the word, (1) the idea of generosity, as proceeding from the person whose attribute it is, and (2) the idea of honour, as given by others to the person whose attribute it is. Both these ideas are summed up in ‘nobility’. To make the meaning quite clear, I have employed in the translation the two words ‘Bounty and Honour’ for the single word ikram. The same attributes recur in the last verse of this Surah. In the Fact of Allah’s Eternity is the Hope of our Future” (Yusuf Ali).
    The Prophet has told us to appeal in supplications by these Attributes of Allah (Kashshaf, Qurtubi):
    أَلِظُّوا بِيَا ذَا الْجَلالِ وَالإِكْرَام

    The report has been preserved by many, including Ahmad and Hakimو the latter treating it as trustworthy following the conditions laid down by Bukhari and Muslim. However, Tirmidhi declared it weak (Au.).
    22. Qatadah said: None can regard himself as free of Him and His bestowal, whether in the heavens or on the earth. Everyone depends on Him and seeks His help and support, the source of all good (Ibn Jarir). Hence the reported supplicatory words (du`a ma’thura):
    يا حي، يا قيوم، يا بديع السموات والأرض، يا ذا الجلال والإكرام، لا إله إلا أنت، برحمتك نستغيث ، أصلح لنا شأننا كله، ولا تكلنا إلى أنفسنا طرفة عين، ولا إلى أحد من خلقك

    “O the Living, the Self-subsisting by whom all subsist, O the Originator of the heavens and the earth, O the Majestic, the Splendid, there is no deity save You, by Your mercy do we seek Your aid: set right our affairs; do not leave (our affair) to depend on ourselves for a moment, nor upon anyone of Your creation” (Ibn Kathir).
    For example, if Allah had so designed the human tongue that it moved only on specific commands, they would eat off their tongues, placing it between the teeth at the wrong moment. If the tongue moves around a hundred times during a minute, shifting material to be chewed, but never getting hurt it is because Allah has not left us dependent upon ourselves in this regard (Au.).
    23. It is said (Muqatil: Alusi) that this was revealed in response to Jewish claims that Allah takes rest on Saturdays (Kashshaf).
    Mujahid and `Abd b. `Umayr remarked: Every day He is in a new affair: feeding the creations, removing their affliction, curing the sick and answering to the call of the callers. Qatadah added: Adding new creations, dealing death to others, and giving shape to new creations.
    A hadith is also quoted in this regard:
    عنْ أَبِى الدَّرْدَاءِ عَنِ النَّبِىِّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فِى قَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى (كُلَّ يَوْمٍ هُوَ فِى شَأْنٍ ). قَالَ « مِنْ شَأْنِهِ أَنْ يَغْفِرَ ذَنْبًا وَيُفَرِّجَ كَرْبًا وَيَرْفَعَ قَوْمًا وَيَخْفِضَ آخَرِينَ ».

    Abu Darda’ reports that when the Prophet was asked about the meaning of this verse he said, “It is part of His affairs that He forgives the sin, removes the affliction, allows ascendancy to a people, and brings down others” (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    However, Bukhari treated the above words as those of Abu Darda’ (Ibn Kathir). But a shorter version has been treated as Sahih by Albani (S.Ibrahim).
    Majid looks at a wider aspect: “God is thus not only the Creator of the universe but also its Sustainer every moment of its existence. The entire cosmic order is ever dependent on His will, incapable of sustaining and developing itself and performing its works, without His aid, in virtue of its own inherent energies, and creation is not an act of the past combining automatically: His creative activity is incessant. This refutes the Hindu doctrine that Brahma, having performed his legitimate past in the mundane evolution by his original creation of the universe has retired into the background.’ (EBr. xi. P. 577) This also repudiates the mechanistic concept of deism, which limits the divine activity to creation of the world and denies to Him any direct contact with His creation and also the Greek idea which states that God is static, and aloof from the world. A Christian scholar sums up the position of the orthodox Muslim theologian thus: - ‘He regards the world and all the events in the world as a perpetual miracle – a miracle always and consistently going on. It is not only that, by a creative miracle, the world was brought into existence... but all through the existence of the world – from moment to moment – there is this miraculous creation going on... When fire burns or when a knife cuts, that is not by any nature in the fire, or a quality of the knife. The cutting and the being cut, the burning and the being burned, are all by Allah. The burning and its direct effects are the direct creations of Allah.’ (Macdonald, Aspects of Islam, pp. 137-139).”
    Zamakhshari’s following note should set a few minds at rest. `Abdullah b. Tahir sent for Husayn b. al-Fadl and said to him: Three verses worry me and I have called you to help me out. (i) Allah’s words:
    فأَصْبَحَ مِنَ النَّادِمِينَ [المائدة/31]

    “Then he became of those remorseful.” (This is about Habil who murdered Qabil: Au.).
    Now, said `Abdullah b. Tahir, remorse is nothing but repentance, so why was he punished?
    Then again, (ii) His words,
    وَأَنْ لَيْسَ لِلإِنْسَانِ إِلا مَا سَعَى [النجم/39]
    “There is nothing for man but that for which he strives.”
    But, said `Abdullah b. Tahir, if there is nothing for man in the Hereafter, beyond what he earned, then, what is the meaning of Allah’s words which promise several-fold rewards?
    Again, (iii) His words,
    كُلَّ يَوْمٍ هُوَ فِي شَأْنٍ [الرحمن/29]
    “Everyday He is in an endeavor.”
    Now, asked `Abdullah b. Tahir, is it not true that all that has to be until the Day of Judgment has been penned down. So, how do we understand Allah being in any fresh endeavor?
    Husayn al-Fadl answered him: As for the verse,
    فَأَصْبَحَ مِنَ النَّادِمِينَ [المائدة/31]

    - the remorse was not over the death of his brother, but over the fact that he had attacked him at all.
    (Imam Razi points out that his remorse was on account of the fact that after he had left his brother’s corpse in the open, he witnessed the fight of the two ravens, one killing another, and burying it. He felt remorseful that he hadn’t been as considerate with his brother’s corpse as the raven had been for the dead raven).
    Another explanation is that “nadamah” had different requirements and connotations in different nations of the past. This was not the “nadamah” of repentance which could wipe out sins. In some ways Allah has treated this Ummah as a special people: a status others do not share with it. As regards the words,
    وَأَنْ لَيْسَ لِلإِنْسَانِ إِلا مَا سَعَى [النجم/39]

    - the reward of “one for one” is following Allah’s “`adl” (justice), while a thousand times more reward is following His “fadl” (grace). Finally, with regard to the words,
    كُلَّ يَوْمٍ هُوَ فِي شَأْنٍ [الرحمن/29]

    - the allusion is not to beginning of the affairs or endeavors, but to bringing them to light, in Arabic:
    فإنها شؤون يبديها لا شؤون يبتدئها
    24. The allusion is to mankind and Jinn (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf and others). The word has been used for men and Jinn in ahadith also (Ibn Kathir). Ja`far al-Sadiq is reported to have said that they have been so called because they are heavily loaded with sins. Further, this Surah and Surah al-Ahqaf, supported by a few other Qur’anic verses, prove that the Jinn have also been addressed by the Prophet. They are just like the humans in this regard (Qurtubi).
    They could have been so called because (i) both men and Jinn can attempt and achieve what no other creation can, and (ii) both have been given freedom of choice and are, therefore, difficult to move out of their opinions, especially in matters related to their Lord, where their adamancy runs to a supreme degree (Au.).
    To help understand the meaning of the word “thaqal”, Mufti Shafi` writes: A hadith says,
    إِنِّى تَارِكٌ فِيكُمُ الثَّقَلَيْنِ أَحَدُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِنَ الآخَرِ كِتَابُ اللَّهِ حَبْلٌ مَمْدُودٌ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ إِلَى الأَرْضِ وَعِتْرَتِى أَهْلُ بَيْتِى وَإِنَّهُمَا لَنْ يَفْتَرِقَا حَتَّى يَرِدَا عَلَىَّ الْحَوْضَ
    “I am leaving behind me two weighty things, one of which is heavier than the other: (i) Allah’s Book which is the rope extended from the heaven to the earth, and (ii) my kinsfolk. And the two will never part until they come to the Pond.”
    Sho`ayb al-Arna’ut remarked that although the narrative is week (so said Tirmidhi himself), but it draws strength from other reports of similar meaning. However, the part which says, “And the two will never part until they come to the Pond,” is definitely weak (Au.).
    There are other ahadith that speak of the importance of the Qur’an and Sunnah that the Prophet left behind, although he did not employ the word “thaqal” in them. At all events, “thaqal” is used for anything heavy, important, or prominent (Au.).
    25. Ibn `Abbas said that this is only a manner of threat, otherwise, Allah is never occupied (in such a way as not to be free for another affair) – Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir.
    Bukhari said that being engaged in an affair does not prevent Him from taking up another (Ibn Kathir).
    26. Dahhak’s opinion was that the allusion is to the Day of Judgment when the criminals would like to flee but will find seven rows of angels on the horizons stationed as barriers. But Ibn `Abbas preferred the simpler meaning that men and Jinn can never escape out of Allah’s domain, hold, and power (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi); which includes heavens and the earth, as well as His decrees: Zamakhshari); and His punishment (Razi).
    Mufti Shafi` points out that the verse cannot be related to space travel either in negative or in positive.
    A major problem in space is the distance. Traveling at the speed at which they do in space, about 10 km per second, humans will need 135,000 years to reach the next star; which, by cosmic standards, is as close to the sun as two bacterium within a dot. To cross their own Milky Way Galaxy, humans will need 3,000,000,000 (3 billion) years. And how many galaxies are there? Billions. What is the space between galaxies? It is, in terms of travel distance, billions of years. And, finally, there are areas that humans can never reach, even if they travel at the speed of light, because those areas are receding at the same rate at which light travels. Thus, humans can never pass through the confines of the heavens. Far from that, they will never know where those confines are. Now, that was about the borders of the heavens. The situation with the confines of the earth is not any brighter since its confines are ultimately the confines of the Solar system – its own confines being inseparable. To cross the Solar system’s gravitational pull will need several decades of travel, for which, (apart from length of human life, repair and maintenance of the craft, food supply, etc.), carrying the fuel is an insurmountable problem (unless a huge nuclear reactor is lifted into space: an impossibility by any measure). But, more importantly, the address is to the entire humanity, not to a few individuals, ready for suicide, sent into deep space. Humanity in general, is shackled to this earth (Au.).
    27. Most of the scholars have said that “shuwaz” is used for that blue flame that breaks out of a fire while a few others have thought that it is used for smoke (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    28. Regarding “nuhas” the opinion is split. The Arabs use it for “smoke that is not accompanied by flame” as well as for “copper” (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    29. (Alternatively, or perhaps additionally), the two: men and Jinn will not be able to help each other (Qurtubi).
    30. Actually, the heavens will undergo several changes in appearance: appearing red, blue, yellow and so on in different phases of destruction (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    The Prophet has also informed us, as in a report preserved by Ahmad,
    يُبْعَثُ النَّاسُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَالسَّمَاءُ تَطِشُّ عَلَيْهِمْ (رواه أحمد وأبو يعلى وفيه عبد الرحمن بن أبي الصهباء ذكره ابن أبي حاتم ولم يذكر فيه جرحا وبقية رجاله ثقات – الهيثمي في الزوائد)

    “People will be raised on the Day of Standing while the heaven sends down a drizzle (for a little while)” – Ibn Kathir.
    Haythami treated the report as somewhat trustworthy (Au.).
    31. There are two opinions about “dihan.” (i) “Shining bright” and (ii), “leather” (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    32. That is, they will not be questioned about their sins: did you do this? Or, did you do that? But rather, they would be questioned as to why did they ever do it (Shawkani quoting Ibn Abi Hatim).
    33. The angels (as well as others) will know the unbelievers from their eyes turned blue (out of fear) and faces turned dark (Ibn Jarir from the earliest commentators).
    34. Suddi said that the criminals will have their heads bound together close to their feet (Kashshaf, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    35. But what’s the favor in being bound, cast into Hell, and treated with boiling water? The answer is, it consists in mankind and Jinn being warned beforehand. The favor also consists in the virtuous ones informed that the criminals will be locked up away from them, and punished for the wrong they freely and sadistically committed upon them during the earthly life (Au.).
    36. The word used here is “khawf” which is for fear arising from one’s feeling of powerlessness against another, while “khashyah” is for fear arising out of the greatness of him that one fears or is overawed by. Both “khawf” as well as “khashyah” have been fittingly used in reference to man’s fear of Allah (Razi).
    Raghib has said: When khawf is used in reference to Allah, it does not refer to the kind of fear that one feels against, say, a lion, but rather, it amounts to abstaining from sinful deeds and inclination towards good deeds. Hence it is said:
    لا يعد خائفاً من لم يكن للذنوب تاركاً
    One is not counted as fearful, if he does not give up sins (Alusi).
    37. Note that in the previous verse two kinds of torture were mentioned for the sinners. Here they are contrasted with two gardens for the faithful (Razi).
    A report has been preserved which says,
    عَنْ أَبِى الدَّرْدَاءِ أَنَّه سَمِعَ النَّبِىَّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- وَهُو يَقُصُّ عَلَى الْمِنْبَرِ (وَلِمَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ جَنَّتَانِ) فَقُلْتُ وَإِنْ زَنَى وَإِنْ سَرَقَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ فَقَالَ رسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- الثَّانِيَةَ (وَلِمَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ جَنَّتَانِ) فَقُلْتُ الثَّانِيَةَ وَإِنْ زَنَى وَإِنْ سَرَق يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ فَقَالَ النَّبِىُّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- الثَّالِثَةَ (وَلِمَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ جَنَّتَانِ) فَقُلْتُ الثَّالِثَةَ وَإِنْ زَنَى وَإِنْ سَرَقَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ « نَعَمْ وَإِنْ رَغِمَ أَنْفُ أَبِى الدَّرْدَاءِ ». - ورجال أحمد الصحيح: مجمع الزوائد ومنبع الفوائد

    Abu Darda’ reports that he heard the Prophet speak from the pulpit quoting this verse, ‘And for him who feared standing before his Lord, are two gardens.’ I asked, ‘Messenger of Allah, even if he fornicated and stole?’ He answered, ‘And for him who feared standing before his Lord, are two gardens.’ I repeated a second time, ‘Even if he fornicated and stole?’ He said a third time, ‘And for him who feared standing before his Lord, are two gardens.’ I repeated a third time, ‘Even if he fornicated and stole, O Messenger of Allah?’ He answered, ‘Yes, even if Abu Darda dislikes it.’
    Nevertheless, it is also reported as a statement of Abu Dardaa’ who added his personal note that, “If someone feared he will certainly not fornicate or steal” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    The report is in Ahmad treated trustworthy by Haythami (Au.).
    On another occasion when this statement “even if he fornicated and stole” was made before Zuhri, he remarked, “This was in the early stages before the obligations (fara’id) were revealed. After they were revealed, the statement has become defunct.” (Shawkani).
    But the main part is also in Sahihayn, Ahmad, and others, coming through Abu Dharr, but without reference to the “two gardens.” Abu Hurayrah also reported something similar; and the majority is of the opinion that a believer could be ushered into Paradise despite his sins – by Allah’s special grace; but the general rule is that he is likely to face punishment for his sins before entry, especially, sins against his own kind (Au.).
    38. “Two kinds:” i.e., different in shape, color, smell and taste.
    39. If the inner lining is brocade, what do you think of the beauty of the outer material? (Ibn Jarir from the Salaf).
    40. Mujahid, Qatadah and Ibn Zayd explained “qaasirat ut-tarfi” as meaning those who will not look up to anyone but their spouses (Ibn Jarir – and most commentators); i.e., they are chaste, virtuous ones (Razi).
    41. Majid comments and quotes: “Christian writers look askance, and almost in horror, at passages like this. And quite naturally. For in the system of Christian morals sex life is conceived as something inherently evil, at best only to be tolerated. This morbid attitude to life ‘has appeared only with the advent of the black Christian era.’ Islam has reversed this diseased outlook. It holds, freely and frankly, with the modern scientific knowledge that sexual life is ‘the source of the highest joy for which there is no substitute. It is the supreme and incomparable physiological happiness, which should be nursed and treasured, and not persecuted.’...Sex life is not at all a tolerated evil, difficult to escape, but... a great blessing, without which life is colorless. The sexual element in human existence must be valued and treasured.’ (Nemilov, opp. cit. pp. 200-201).”
    This ayah has been used as evidence that the Jinn will enter the same Paradise as humans (Ibn Jarir).
    42. The Prophet is reported by Ibn Mas`ud as having said,
    عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مَسْعُودٍ عَنِ النَّبِىِّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قَالَ « إِنَّ الْمَرْأَةَ مِنْ نِسَاءِ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ لَيُرَى بَيَاضُ سَاقِهَا مِنْ وَرَاءِ سَبْعِينَ حُلَّةً حَتَّى يُرَى مُخُّهَا وَذَلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ يَقُولُ (كَأَنَّهُنَّ الْيَاقُوتُ وَالْمَرْجَانُ) فَأَمَّا الْيَاقُوتُ فَإِنَّهُ حَجَرٌ لَوْ أَدْخَلْتَ فِيهِ سِلْكًا ثُمَّ اسْتَصْفَيْتَهُ لأُرِيتَهُ مِنْ وَرَائِهِ ».

    “The whiteness of the shank of women of the dwellers of Paradise will be visible from behind seventy shrouds. Even the bone-morrow will be visible. This is following Allah’s words, ‘As if they are rubies and corals.’ As for rubies, they are precious stones. If you inserted a thread through it, and then cleansed it, you will see it from the other side,’” (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi); i.e. it is transparent.
    However, Tirmidhi reports it as a statement of Ibn Mas`ud (Ibn Kathir).
    The Prophet is also reported to have said, as in Muslim and other works that,
    « إِنَّ أَوَّلَ زُمْرَةٍ تَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ عَلَى صُورَةِ الْقَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ وَالَّتِى تَلِيهَا عَلَى أَضْوَإِ كَوْكَبٍ دُرِّىٍّ فِى السَّمَاءِ لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مِنْهُمْ زَوْجَتَانِ اثْنَتَانِ يُرَى مُخُّ سُوقِهِمَا مِنْ وَرَاءِ اللَّحْمِ وَمَا فِى الْجَنَّةِ أَعْزَبُ ».

    “The first group to enter Paradise will have faces like the full moon. Those who follow them will shine like the brightest star in the heaven. Each of them will have two spouses. The bone-marrow of their legs will be visible from beyond the flesh. And, there will be no bachelors in Paradise” (Ibn Kathir).
    43. Imam Razi points out that this ayah, along with two others, is so rich of meaning that it can be explained in a hundred ways. The other two verses of the same nature are:
    فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ [البقرة/152]

    وَإِنْ عُدْتُمْ عُدْنَا [الإسراء/8]

    To further explain the ayah, we take the following from Bayhaqi’s Shu`ab al-Iman for its brevity. Abu Sa`d al-Khazzaz is reported to have said in explanation of this verse:
    عن أبي سعيد الخزاز: ( هل جزاء الإحسان إلا الإحسان) « هل جزاء من انقطع عن نفسه إلا التعلق بربه ؟ وهل جزاء من انقطع عن أنس المخلوقين إلا الأنس برب العالمين ؟ وهل جزاء من صبر علينا إلا الوصول إلينا ؟ .. وهل جزاء التعب في الدنيا والنصب فيها إلا الراحة في الآخرة ؟ وهل جزاء من صبر على البلوى إلا التقرب إلى المولى ؟ وهل جزاء من سلم قلبه إلينا أن نجعل توليته إلى غيرنا ؟ وهل جزاء من بعد عن الخلق إلا التقرب إلى الحق ؟ » - شعب الإيمان للبيهقي - (ج 1 / ص 493)

    “Is the reward for him who severed himself from his own self, but a connection with his Lord? Is the reward of him who cut himself from the created beings, anything but affinity with his Lord? Is the reward of him who bore patience for Our sake, but that he should reach Us?.. Is the reward of hardships in the world and difficulties in it except rest and comfort in the Hereafter? Is the reward for him who bore in patience the tribulations, but closeness with his Lord? Is the reward of him who submitted his heart that he should be handed over to other than Us? And, is the reward of distancing oneself from the creations but proximity with the Truth?” (Au.)
    44. “Besides the two,” i.e., more illustrious than the two (Zamakhshari, Razi).
    45. (Bukhari, Muslim and others have preserved) a tradition in this context:
    عَنْ أَبِى بَكْرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ قَيْسٍ عَنْ أَبِيهِ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ - صلى الله عليه وسلم - قَالَ « جَنَّتَانِ مِنْ فِضَّةٍ ، آنِيَتُهُمَا وَمَا فِيهِمَا وَجَنَّتَانِ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ آنِيَتُهُمَا وَمَا فِيهِمَا ، وَمَا بَيْنَ الْقَوْمِ وَبَيْنَ أَنْ يَنْظُرُوا إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ إِلاَّ رِدَاءُ الْكِبْرِ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ فِى جَنَّةِ عَدْنٍ »
    The Prophet said, “Two gardens made of silver, along with the utensils and all that there is; and two gardens of gold with their utensils and all that there is. And, there will not be anything between their Lord and them seeing Him except His shroud of Greatness on His Face, in the everlasting Paradise” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Hajr has traced another version in which the words are as follows:
    جَنَّتَانِ مِنْ ذَهَبَ لِلْمُقَرَّبِينَ وَمِنْ دُونهمَا جَنَّتَانِ مِنْ وَرِق لأَصْحَابِ الْيَمِين " (أَخْرَجَهُ الطَّبَرِيُّ وَابْن أَبِي حَاتِم وَرِجَاله ثِقَات)

    “Those will be two gardens of gold for those ‘brought nigh,’ and two gardens of sliver for those of the ‘right hand side’” (Au.).
    46. Aren’t dates and pomegranates included in fruits that they should be mentioned separately? Alusi answers that the two are different from the rest. Although date is a fruit, it is also used as a staple diet. On the other hand, pomegranates are fruits as well as useful for their medicinal value. Alusi adds later that one of them is warm for the body (dates) while the other is cold; one of them is always sweet while the other sweet-sour, one’s tree is tall but less branched while the other short, well spread.
    47. (In his “Al-Nihayah fi Gharib...” Ibn al-Athir has defined “howra’” (pl.: “hur”) as a maiden with extremely white eye-ball, and an extremely dark iris (Alusi).
    48. That is, they are concealed behind curtains. In other words, those who remain within their bridal canopies, do not look at anyone other than their spouses, and have no wish to be loitering around in the streets (Ibn Jarir from the Salaf).
    49. Those will be huge pearls chipped hollow (Ibn Jarir from the Salaf such as `Umar ibn al-Khattab, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and others).
    There is a hadith to this effect. It is in the Sahihayn and other collections. It says,
    « إِنَّ فِى الْجَنَّةِ خَيْمَةً مِنْ لُؤْلُؤَةٍ مُجَوَّفَةٍ ، عَرْضُهَا سِتُّونَ مِيلاً ، فِى كُلِّ زَاوِيَةٍ مِنْهَا أَهْلٌ ، مَا يَرَوْنَ الآخَرِينَ يَطُوفُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ »

    “There is a tent in Paradise of width 60 miles, made of hollow pearl. In its every corner are (a believer’s) family-folk – none able to see others. The believer will visit them in rounds” (Shawkani, Alusi).

    50. The original word “tamatha” is used for deflowering a virgin. A second meaning is that it is those who have never experienced menstruation (Qurtubi). And, the ayah leads us to believe that sexual intercourse is part of the life of the Jinn (Zamakhshari, Razi, Qurtubi). Some scholars contend that the verse opens the possibility of Jinn’s intercourse with humans in this life (Qurtubi).
    It is reported that some people wrote to Imam Malik that there was a Jinn who wished to marry a Muslim woman. He answered that he did not see anything wrong in it except that he would not like to encourage such an arrangement for the reason that if a woman is found pregnant and asked who the father was, she would reply, “A Jinn.”
    That apart, the majority of scholars – such as Abu Yusuf, Muhammad, Ibn Abi Layla, Awzaa`ee, have said that they are also liable to rewards and punishments and will enter Paradise or Hellfire (Alusi).
    51. “Before them,” i.e., before the dwellers of Paradise (Zamakhshari).
    52. The Prophet has said about the women in Paradise:
    "إن أزواج الجنة ليغنين أزواجهن بأحسن أصوات سمعها أحد قط، إن مما يغنين: نحن الخيرات الحسان، أزواج قوم كرام. ينظرن بقرة أعيان. وإن مما يغننين به: نحن الخالدات فلا نمتنه، نحن الآمنات فلا يخفنه، نحن المقيمات فلا يظعنه".
    رواه الطبراني في الصغير والأوسط ورجاله رجال الصحيح. (مجمع الزوائد ومنبع الفوائد)

    “Women in Paradise sing with the best of voices ever heard by anyone. Of what they sing: ‘We are the most splendid beautiful ones, spouses of the honored ones.’ They look around with cooling sights. And of the things they sing, ‘We are everlasting’ – so they will not die. ‘We are the peaceful ones’ – so they will not disappoint him. ‘We are stayers’ – so they will not go away.”
    Haythami declared the above trustworthy (Au.).
    Alusi quotes a shorter form of the following hadith as found in Ahmad, Hakim and Sahih of Ibn Hibban (in varying words) through Abu Sa`eed al-Khudri. The Prophet said,
    عَنْ أَبِى سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِىِّ عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قَالَ « إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَتَّكِئُ فِى الْجَنَّةِ سَبْعِينَ سَنَةً قَبْلَ أَنْ يَتَحَوَّلَ ثُمَّ تَأْتِيهُ امْرَأَتُهُ فَتَضْرِبُ عَلَى مَنْكِبَيْهِ فَيَنْظُرُ وَجْهَهُ فِى خَدِّهَا أَصْفَى مِنَ الْمِرْآةِ وَإِنَّ أَدْنَى لُؤْلُؤَةٍ عَلَيْهَا تُضِىءُ مَا بَيْنَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ فَتُسَلِّمُ عَلَيْهِ. قَالَ فَيَرُدُّ السَّلاَمَ وَيَسْأَلُهَا مَنْ أَنْتِ وَتَقُولُ أَنَا مِنَ الْمَزِيدِ. وَإِنَّهُ لَيَكُونُ عَلَيْهَا سَبْعُونَ ثَوْباً أَدْنَاهَا مِثْلُ النُّعْمَانِ مِنْ طُوبَى فَيَنْفُذُهَا بَصَرُهُ حَتَّى يَرَى مُخَّ سَاقِهَا مِنْ وَرَاءِ ذَلِكَ وَإِنَّ عَلَيْهَا مِنَ التِّيجَانِ إِنَّ أَدْنَى لُؤْلُؤَةٍ عَلَيْهَا لَتُضِىءُ مَا بَيْنَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ »

    “A man will remain resting in one position for seventy years in Paradise before making another move. Then his spouse will come and touch him on the shoulder. He will look into her cheek, clearer than a mirror; and the simplest of pearl on her will make the east and west shine. She will greet him. He will return her greeting and ask her, ‘Who could you be?’ She will say, ‘I am the “more [mazid]” (that had been promised).’ She will have seventy clothes on her. The simplest of them will be like a very special cloth. Then the man will cast a glance at her and see the bone-marrow of her leg through them. She will have a crown on her head of which the simplest of pearl will make the east and the west shine.”
    Majid quotes Gibbon: “This description of physical pleasures in Paradise,” says Gibbon, “has provoked the indignation, perhaps the envy, of the monks: they declaim against the impure religion of Mahomet; and his modest apologists are driven to the poor excuses of figures and allegories. But the sounder and the more consistent party adhere, without shame, to the literal interpretation of the Koran; useless would be the resurrection of the body, unless it were restored to the possession and exercises of its worthiest faculties; and the union of sensual and intellectual enjoyment is requisite to complete the happiness of the double animal, the perfect man.” (GRE, V. p. 351).
    53. The word “`abqariyy” is made up of two words: “`abqar” (meaning: a place where the Jinn were supposed to live) and “qaryah” (meaning: village or town). Combining the two, it became synonymous with every person who is highly powerful, talented, and able, evoking wonder; or a thing of remarkably high qualities (Kashshaf, Razi, Qurtubi, Shawkani, in different words).
    However, there are several other explanations for the word “`abqariyy” – as, naturally, of most of the adjectives used in connection with Paradise or the Fire, in this Surah (Au.).
    54. Ibn Kathir notes: All the six hadith works except Bukhari have a hadith to this effect:
    عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ كَانَ النَّبِىُّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- إِذَا سَلَّمَ لَمْ يَقْعُدْ إِلاَّ مِقْدَارَ مَا يَقُولُ

    On the authority of `A’isha, “After the Prophet had finished his Prayers, he would hardly tarry except for the time required to say:
    « اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ السَّلاَمُ وَمِنْكَ السَّلاَمُ تَبَارَكْتَ ذَا الْجَلاَلِ وَالإِكْرَامِ ». وَفِى رِوَايَةِ ابْنِ نُمَيْرٍ « يَا ذَا الْجَلاَلِ وَالإِكْرَامِ ».

    That is, these were the words the Prophet invariably said after the Prayers, before rising.