Surat Al-'A`rāf

What is the Qur'an About?

Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma`ani
by
Syed Iqbal Zaheer

تفسير إِشراقُ المَعَاني
سيد إقبال ظهير

PREPARATORY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the words of Arberry:

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

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

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

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

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

و ف إنَّ

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

وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً [النساء : 4]

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

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

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

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

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

Further down he writes:

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

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

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

He adds a little further,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْهَا رِيَاحًا وَلا تَجْعَلْهَا رِيحًا

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

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

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

اللَّهُمَّ فَقِّهْهُ فِي الدِّينِ وَعَلِّمْهُ التَّأْوِيلَ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syed Iqbal Zaheer
March 2015

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References, abbreviations, and technical terms

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

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Abbreviations as in
Abdul Majid Daryabadi’s English Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Surah No. 7


    Merits of the surah

    IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE KIND, THE COMPASSIONATE

    [1] Alif. Lam. Mim. Saad.2 [2] A Book sent down to you (O Muhammad), so let there be no constriction3 in your heart thereof so that you might warn thereby, and (so that it be) a reminder for the believers. [3] Follow (O people) what has been sent down to you from your Lord, and follow not patrons besides Him. (Yet) Little do you receive admonition. [4] How many townships We have destroyed? Our chastisement descended on it at night or while they were in their afternoon rest.4 [5] Then they had no other assertion when Our chastisement descended upon them except to admit,5 ‘Surely, we were the wrong doers.'6 [6] We shall most certainly question those to whom (a Message) was sent7 and We shall most certainly question the Messengers.8 [7] We shall most certainly recount to them with knowledge; for We were not absent.9 [8] The weighing of that Day is true.10 Therefore, he whose scales (of good deeds) weighed down,11 they it is who shall be successful.12 [9] As for he whose scales are light, they it is who lost their souls for what wrongful treatment they accorded Our signs.13 [10] Surely, We established you in the earth14 and placed therein for you your livelihood. Little it is that you give thanks. [11] Verily, We created you,15 then gave you the form (and shape)16 and ordered the angels, ‘Prostrate yourselves before Adam.'17 They prostrated themselves, save Iblis.18 He was not of those that prostrated themselves.19 [12] He asked, ‘What prevented you that you should not prostrate yourself when I ordered you?' He answered, ‘I am better than he. You created me of fire, and him You created of clay.'20 [13] He ordered, ‘Go down out of this (place). It is not for you to wax proud here. Verily, you are of the belittled ones.'21 [14] He requested, ‘Allow me respite until (the day) they are resurrected.' [15] He relented, ‘You are of those granted respite.'22
    [16] He said, ‘Now that You have misguided me,23 I shall most certainly sit in ambush for them all along Your Straight Path.24 [17] Then I shall come to them from their front, their rear, their right and their left,25 and You will not find many of them grateful (to You)’.26 [18] Said He, ‘Go forth from here, despised and driven away (from mercy). Whosoever followed you, I shall most certainly fill Jahannum with you all.27 [19] As for you O Adam, dwell you and your spouse in Paradise, and eat thereof whatever you wish, but approach not this tree, lest you become of the wrong doers.’ [20] Thereupon Satan whispered unto the two, so that he might lay bare to them what was kept hidden from them of their shameful parts.28 He told them, ‘Your Lord did not forbid you that tree except that the two of you should become angels or attain eternity.' [21] And he swore to the two, ‘I am of the sincere counselors to you.'29 [22] Thus he brought them down by deceit.30 Then, when the two tasted the tree, their shameful parts became apparent to them,31 and they began to patch upon themselves the leaves of Paradise.32 Their Lord called out to them, ‘Did I not prohibit you from that tree, and say to you "Verily, Shaytan is your avowed enemy?"' [23] The two cried out, ‘Our Lord! We have wronged our souls. If You do not forgive us and show us mercy, most certainly we shall be of the losers.'33 [24] He ordered, ‘Get down some of you enemies unto others. You shall have in the earth an abode and a livelihood unto an (appointed) time.34 [25] He said, ‘Therein you shall live, therein you shall die, and therefrom you shall be brought forth (for Reckoning).'35
    [26] Children of Adam! We have bestowed on you a raiment36 that covers your shame37 and is a (source of) adornment.38 Nonetheless, the garment of piety that is better.39 This is one of the signs of Allah, haply they will take it to heart. [27] Children of Adam! Let not Shaytan seduce you in the manner he got your parents leave Paradise, stripping them of their garments so as to reveal to them their shame.40 Surely he sees you, he and his tribe, from where you see them not.41 Verily We have made the Satans patrons of those who do not believe.42 [28] Whenever they commit an indecency they claim, ‘Verily, we found our forefathers upon this. And (in fact), Allah has ordered us to do it.'43 Say, ‘Allah does not order any indecency.' Do you fasten such things upon Allah as which you have no knowledge of?' [29] Say, ‘My Lord has ordered me justice.'44 And set your faces (toward Him)45 at every (time of) prostration; and call upon Him making the religion sincerely His;46 even as He began you, you shall return:47 [30] A group He guided, but a group deserved for themselves error. (Because) They took Satans as their patrons apart from Allah, and assume that they are rightly guided.
    [31] Children of Adam! Take your adornment at every Prayer;48 and eat and drink but do not commit excesses.49 Surely, He does not approve of those who commit excesses. [32] Say, ‘Who has forbidden the ornaments of Allah's creation that He brought out for His slaves, and the good things of provision?'50 Say, ‘They are for the believers during the tenure of this world, (but) exclusively for them on the Day of Judgment.'51 Thus We expound Our revelations for a people who know. [33] Say, ‘Verily, my Lord has only forbidden indecencies be they open or concealed sin, high handedness52 without justice, that you should associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down an authority, and that you should fasten upon Allah what you have no knowledge of.53 [34] And for every nation is an appointed term.54 Then, when its term arrives, they cannot remain behind for a moment nor can they hasten (it).55 [35] Children of Adam!56 If there should come to you Messengers from among yourselves, narrating to you Our verses, then, whosoever feared and reformed himself, then, such, they shall have nothing to fear nor shall they grieve. [36] As for those who rejected Our revelations, and waxed proud against them, they are the companions of the Fire, abiding therein forever. [37] Who then can do greater wrong than he who fastened a lie upon Allah or gave the lie to His messages? They: a portion of the Book (of Decree) shall reach them,57 till, when Our messengers (of death) arrive withdrawing their souls, they ask, ‘Where are those you were calling upon besides Allah?' They reply, ‘They are lost from us.' They testified against themselves that they were unbelievers. [38] He will say, ‘Enter then, along with other nations that passed before you of the Jinn and men: into the Fire.' Whenever a nation enters therein, it curses its sister nation; till, when they have all successively arrived therein, the last of them will say about the first of them,58 ‘Our Lord. These are the ones who misled us. Therefore, assign to them double the punishment of Fire.' He will say, ‘For everyone is the double (punishment), but you realize not.'59 [39] The last of them will say to the first ones, ‘Then you do not enjoy any advantage over us.'60 ‘Taste then the punishment because of what you were earning.'61
    [40] Surely, those who rejected Our revelations and waxed proud against them, the gates of Heaven shall not be opened for them62 and they shall not enter Paradise until the camel63 passes through a needle's eye. That is how We recompense the criminals. [41] Jahannum shall be a cradle for them, and from above them covering (of fire). That is how We recompense the wrong doers. [42] As for those who believed and did righteous deeds We do not charge a soul beyond its capacity64 they are the companions of Paradise, dwelling therein forever. [43] And We shall have removed from their hearts any hard feeling,65 rivers flowing from beneath them. They will say, ‘Praise to Allah for having guided us to this. We would have never found our way if we were not guided by Allah.66 Indeed, our Messengers brought the truth.' And (a voice) will call out to them,67 ‘This is the Paradise that you have been allowed to inherit68 by virtue of what you were doing.'69 [44] And the people of Paradise will call out to the people of the Fire, ‘We have found what our Lord promised us to be true. Have you also found what your Lord promised to be true?'70 They will reply, ‘Yes;' whereupon a herald from their midst will proclaim, ‘Allah's curse be upon the wrong doers. [45] Those who hinder the people from the Way of Allah, and seek to make it crooked, and (in addition), they are disbelievers in the Hereafter.' [46] And between the two will be a partition.71 And, (yonder over) there on the Heights72 will be a people73 who will know each by their mark.74 They will call out to the companions of Paradise, ‘Peace be upon you' they will not have entered it yet, although very eager.75 [47] When their eyes are turned toward the inmates of the Fire they will say, ‘Our Lord! Do not place us among a wrong doing people.' [48] And the people of the Heights will call out to those (in the Fire) they know by their marks, ‘Your numbers76 availed you nothing, nor your proud attitude.'77 [49] ‘Are these (of the Heights) the ones about whom you swore that Allah’s mercy will not reach them?' (They will be told), ‘You may enter Paradise. There is no fear upon you nor should you grieve.'78 [50] The inmates of Fire will plead to the companions of Paradise, ‘Throw (down) upon us some water, or some of what Allah has provided you.' They will reply, ‘Allah has forbidden both to the unbelievers,'79 [51]80 those who treated their religion as sport and pastime, and the life of this world deceived them.’ (Allah will say) ‘Today We shall forget them as they forgot the encounter of this their Day, and, as they were wont to argue against Our revelations.'
    [52] We have brought them a Book which We have expounded with knowledge: a (source of) guidance and mercy unto a people that believe. [53] Are they waiting but for its fulfillment? (But) the day its fulfillment comes, those who had discarded it earlier to oblivion will say, ‘Surely, messengers of our Lord brought the truth. Have we then any intercessors to intercede for us? Or, can we be returned so that we can do differently from what we were doing?' Surely, they squandered their own souls and lost unto them were all that they were forging.
    [54] Surely, your Lord is Allah who created the heavens and the earth in six eons.81 Then He assumed istawa' over the `Arsh.82 He throws the veil of night over the day, seeking it in swift pursuit;83 and the sun, the moon, the stars rendered subservient by His command. Lo! His are the creation and the command.84 Hallowed is Allah, the Lord of the worlds.85 [55] Call on your Lord86 humbly and in secret.87 Verily, He does not approve of the transgressor.88 [56] And spread not corruption in the land after its ordering89 and call on Him in fear and hope.90 Surely, Allah's mercy is near to those who excel.91 [57] He it is who sends forth the winds as heralds of His coming grace until, when they are charged with heavy clouds, We drive them to a dead land and send down water therewith. Then We bring forth therewith all manners of fruits. Even so We shall bring forth the dead, haply you will understand.92 [58] As for the good land, it brings forth its vegetation by the leave of its Lord. But that which is corrupt, it does not bring forth but scantily.93 Thus do We give many facets to Our messages for a people who give thanks.94
    [59] Indeed, We sent Nuh to his people.95 He said, ‘My people. Worship Allah. You have no god other than He. I fear for you the punishment of a Great Day.'96 [60] Said the elites97 of his people, ‘Surely, we see you in a manifest error.'98 [61] He answered, ‘My people. There is no error in me. Rather, I am a Messenger from the Lord of the worlds. [62] I convey to you the messages of my Lord and I advise you sincerely;99 for I know from Allah what you know not. [63] Do you think it strange that a reminder should come to you from your Lord by (the mouth) of one of your own men?100 So that he might warn you, that you may learn to be Godfearing, and that haply you might be shown mercy!?'101 [64] But they gave him the lie, so We delivered him and those with him in the ship, and drowned those who gave the lie to Our signs. Surely, they were a blind people.102 [65] And unto `Aad (We sent) their brother Hud.103 He said, ‘My people. Worship Allah (alone). You have no god other than He. Will you not fear?' [66] Said the elites of the unbelievers of his people, ‘Surely, we observe in you a (kind of) foolishness. Indeed, we reckon you of the liars.'
    [67] He replied, ‘My people. There is no foolishness in me, rather, I am a Messenger from the Lord of the worlds. [68] I convey to you the messages of my Lord. And I am a faithful adviser unto you. [69] Do you think it strange that a reminder should come to you from your Lord by (the mouth) of one of your men; so that he might warn you!? Remember that He made you the successors after the nation of Nuh and granted you an increase in stature among the creations.104 Remember then Allah's blessings haply you will prosper.' [70] They replied, ‘Have you come to us that we worship Allah alone and abandon those that our forefathers worshipped? Bring then upon us that which you threaten us with, if you are truthful.' [71] He said, ‘A punishment has already settled upon you from your Lord and anger (too). Do you argue with me over some names that you have devised you and your forefathers105 - for which Allah did not send down any authority? Wait then, I am also – along with you - of those who are waiting.' [72] Therefore, We delivered him and those that were with him by Our mercy and We cut down the roots of those who gave the lie to Our signs,106 and who would not believe.107
    [73] And to Thamud108 (We sent) their brother Salih. He said, ‘My people. Worship Allah alone. You have no god other than He. A clear sign has come to you from your Lord: this is Allah's own she camel:109 a sign for you.110 So leave her alone to graze in Allah's land, and touch her not in harm, lest a painful chastisement seizes you. [74] Remember that He made you the successors after `Aad and allowed you to prevail in the land in whose plain fields you build castles and whose mountains you carve for homes.111 Remember then Allah's blessings and commit not in the earth corruption.' [75] The arrogant elites of his people said to those of the weakened believers, ‘Do you think Salih has been sent by His Lord?' They answered, ‘We believe in that which he has been sent with.'112 [76] Said those who were arrogant, ‘As for us, we are, indeed, in what you believe unbelievers.'113 [77] Then they hamstrung the she camel,114 and insolently defied the order of their Lord. And they said, ‘Salih. Bring down upon us that which you were threatening us with if you are one of the envoys.' [78] So an earthquake seized them, so that by morning they lay fallen on their faces. [79] He turned away from them saying, ‘My people. Surely, I conveyed to you the messages of my Lord and sincerely counseled you but you do not seem to appreciate sincere counsellors.'115
    [80] And (recall) when Lut said to his people, ‘Do you commit a lewdness that no creation committed before you?116 [81] You go into men out of lust in preference of women. You are indeed a transgressing people.'117 [82] His people had no answer but to say, ‘Expel them from your town. These are a puritanical folk. [83] So We delivered him and his kinsfolk save for his wife: she was of those who lagged behind.118 [84] Thereafter We rained upon them a shower (of brim stones).119 See then, what was the end of the criminals!120
    [85] And to Madyan121 (We sent) their brother Shu`ayb.122 He said, ‘My people! Worship Allah, you have no god other than He.123 Surely, there has come to you a clear sign from your Lord.124 So give full measure and weight, and defraud not the people of their commodities.125 And spread not corruption in the land after its ordering.126 That is better for you if you will believe. [86] And squat not in every path, threatening127 and hindering from Allah's way those who believe in Him,128 seeking to make it crooked.129 And recall when you were few, then He multiplied you; yet behold, what was the end of the corrupt people. [87] And, if there be some among you, who have believed in what I have been sent with, while some others do not believe, then have patience until Allah judges between us. Indeed, He is the best of judges.' [88] Said the chiefs of those of his people who waxed proud, ‘We shall surely expel you O Shu`ayb and your fellow believers from our town, or you should return to our religion.'130 He asked, ‘Even though we detest? [89] We would have forged a lie against Allah if we returned to your religion after Allah delivered us from it. It is not for us to return to it131 unless our Lord were to so will.132 Our Lord embraces all things in His knowledge.133 In Allah we place our trust. O our Lord! You decide between us and our people by truth. You indeed are the best of those who decide.'134 [90] Said the chiefs of those of his people who had disbelieved, ‘If you follow Shu`ayb, surely, you will be the losers.'135 [91] Whereupon an earthquake seized them and by morning they lay fallen prostrate in their dwellings.136 [92] As if those who had rejected Shu`ayb never flourished therein. Those who rejected Shu`ayb, they were the losers.137 [93] He turned away from them saying, ‘My people. Surely, I conveyed to you the messages of my Lord and sincerely counseled you. How should I then grieve for an unbelieving people?'138
    [94] And We sent no Prophet to a city but We seized its inhabitants with suffering and adversity, that haply they might learn to be humble.
    [95] Then We substituted evil with good, till they multiplied (in numbers)139 and said, ‘Surely, adversity and happiness visited our forefathers (too).'140 So We seized them on a sudden,141 unawares.142 [96] Yet, had the inhabitants of the cities believed and feared (Allah), surely, We would have opened blessings of the heaven and earth upon them; but they cried lies, so We seized them for what they were earning.143 [97] Do the inhabitants of the city feel secure that Our punishment shall come upon them at night, while they are asleep? [98] Do the people of the city feel secure that Our punishment shall come upon them in broad daylight while they are in their playful activities?144 [99] Do they feel secure against Allah's devising?145 Lo, none feels secure against Allah's devising but a people (destined to be) the losers.146
    [100] Does it guide not those who inherit the earth after its inhabitants, that if We willed We could afflict them for their sins?147 But We set a seal upon their hearts, so that they do not hear. [101] Those are cities of which We narrate to you their tidings. Messengers brought them clear signs.148 But they were not such as to believe in what they had rejected earlier.149 That is how Allah seals the hearts of the unbelieving folks. [102] And, We did not find in most of them (any regard for) the covenant.150 Indeed, We found most of them defiantly disobedient. [103] Then, after them,151 We sent Musa with Our signs to Fir`awn152 and his chiefs. But they acted wrongfully therewith. Therefore, see what was the end of those who were corrupt. [104] Musa said, ‘O Fir`awn! I am indeed a Messenger of the Lord of the worlds. [105] It is right (of me) that I should not speak on behalf of Allah except the truth. I have brought you a clear sign from your Lord.153 Therefore, let go with me the Children of Israel.'154 [106] He replied, ‘If you have brought a sign, produce it, if you are truthful.' [107] So he cast down his staff and lo, it was a serpent155 plain (to sight).156
    [108] And he drew out his hand and lo, it was shining bright to the onlookers.157
    [109] Said the chiefs of the people of Fir`awn,158 ‘This indeed is a skilled magician. [110] He plans to drive you out of your kingdom.159 So, what do you recommend?'160 [111] They suggested, ‘Keep him and his brother (Harun) in waiting; and send across the cities musterers,161 [112] To summon every knowledgeable magician to your presence.'162 [113] (When they had gathered), the magicians went up to Fir`awn and asked, ‘Shall we have a reward if we should be the victors?'163 [114] He replied, ‘Yes, indeed, and you shall be amongst those nearest (to me).'164 [115] They said, ‘Musa. Either you cast (your staff) or we shall (be the first to) cast.'165 [116] He said, ‘You cast.' So, when they cast, they cast a spell on the people's eye and struck terror into them. Indeed, they produced a mighty work of magic.166 [117] We revealed to Musa, ‘Cast your staff.' And lo! It began to swallow what they had faked.167 [118] Thus the truth came to pass and of no effect was that which they were doing. [119] Vanquished then and there, they turned back humbled.168
    [120] And the magicians were thrown into prostration. [121] They cried out, ‘We believe in the Lord of the worlds.169 [122] Lord of Musa and Harun.'170
    [123] Fir`awn asked, ‘Have you believed in him before I gave you leave?171 Surely, this is a conspiracy that you devised together in the city in order to expel its people from it.172 But you shall soon know. [124] I shall at once cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides and then I shall crucify you all together.'173 [125] They replied, ‘Surely, to our Lord we shall be returning.174 [126] You do not wish to wreak vengeance on us save for the fact that we have believed in the signs of our Lord when they came to us. ‘O our Lord! Pour out perseverance on us and draw our souls as those in submission.'175
    [127] Said the chiefs of the people of Fir`awn, ‘Will you let Musa and his people spread mischief in the land and abandon you and your deities?'176 He replied, ‘We shall slaughter their sons and let live their women. Surely, we have irresistible power over them.' [128] Musa consoled his people, ‘Seek Allah's help and be patient. The land belongs to Allah. He bestows it as heritage on whom He will of His slaves. But the ultimate end belongs to the righteous.' [129] They said, ‘We have been persecuted both before and after you came to us!' He replied, ‘Maybe your Lord will destroy your enemy and grant you succession in the land to see how you will conduct yourselves.'177 [130] Then We seized Fir`awn's folk178 with years of drought and scarcity of fruits179 that haply they might be admonished. [131] But, whenever a good (thing) came to them, they said, ‘This is our due.' But when an evil touched them they would augur ill by Musa and those with him.180 Nay! Rather their ill augury was with Allah;181 but most of them realized not.182 [132] And they said, ‘Whatever sign you may bring us to cast a spell upon us therewith, we are not going to believe in you.'
    [133] So, We let loose on them flood,183 the locusts,184 the lice,185 the frogs,186 and (water turning into) blood:187 signs distinct.188 But they waxed proud. They were indeed a criminal people. [134] Whensoever a wrath fell upon them they cried out: ‘O Musa. Supplicate to your Lord by what He has promised you: If you release us from this wrath, we shall believe in you and shall let go with you the Children of Israel.' [135] But when We relieved them of the wrath until a term they were to achieve, behold, they went back (on their word).189 [136] So We took vengeance on them and drowned them in the sea190 for that they cried lies to our signs and were heedless of them.
    [137] And We bequeathed upon the people that were reduced weak,191 the eastern and western parts of the land in which We have placed Our blessings.192 And thus was fulfilled the good word from your Lord upon the Children of Israel for what they endured patiently;193 and We destroyed the works of Fir`awn and his people, and what they had been building.194 [138] And We led the Children of Israel across the sea. They came upon a people zealously devoted to their idols.195 They said, ‘O Musa. Assign for us a deity as they have deities.'196 He said, ‘Verily, you are an ignorant people.197 [139] As for these people, bound to destruction is all that they indulge in, and wasteful all that they have been doing.' [140] He asked, ‘Shall I seek for you a god other than Allah when He preferred you over the worlds?' [141] (Recall) when We delivered you from Fir`awn's folks who afflicted you with the worst kind of torture, slaughtering your sons and letting your women live. And, indeed, in that was for you a severe trial from your Lord.
    [142] And We appointed198 with Musa thirty nights199 completing them with ten.200 Thus was completed the term201 of his Lord of forty nights.202 And Musa said to his brother Harun, ‘Be my deputy in my people203 and set things right; and follow not the ways of the corrupt.'204 [143] When Musa came to Our appointed time, and His Lord spoke with him,205 he said, ‘My Lord! Show (Yourself) to me that I may behold You.'206 He replied, ‘You can never207 see Me. But behold the mountain, if it remains firm in its place then you might be able to see Me.'208 Then, when He manifested Himself to the mountain, He made it dust.209 And Musa fell down unconscious.210 When he recovered, he said, ‘Glory to You. I turn to You in repentance and I am first of the believers.'211 [144] He said, ‘O Musa, I have chosen you above all men for My Messages and my talk (to you). Therefore, take what I have given you and be of the thankful.' [145] And We wrote down for him on the Tablets212 everything (concerning guidance): an admonition and the explanation of all things. (We said), ‘Hold it with firmness, and order your people to hold fast unto the best of precepts (therein).213 I shall soon show you the abode of the corrupt.214
    [146] I shall turn away from My signs those who wax proud in the land without cause.215 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.' [147] Those who gave a lie to Our signs and to the encounter in the Hereafter lost are their deeds. Shall they be recompensed but for what they were doing?
    [148] And in Musa's absence his people made from their jewelry216 a calf a mere body that had a lowing sound.217 Did they not notice that it did not speak to them218 nor could lead them to a path? Yet they took it (for worship): they were transgressors.219 [149] When they felt ashamed220 and realized that they had erred they cried out, ‘If our Lord does not show us mercy and forgive us, surely, we shall be of the losers.' [150] When Musa returned to his people angry and sorrowful, he said, ‘You have been poor successors after me. Did you (try to) outstrip Your Lord's commandment?'221 He cast down the Tablets222 and seizing his brother by his head,223 dragged him toward himself. He protested, ‘Son of my mother.224 My people overpowered me, and were close to murdering me.225 Give not my enemies (a chance) to gloat over me, nor count me among the transgressing people.'226
    [151] He said, ‘My Lord! Forgive me and my brother; and admit us into Your grace. Surely, you are the most Merciful of those who show mercy.'227 [152] Surely, those who took the calf (for worship) will soon have their Lord's anger reaching them228 and ignominy in the life of this world.229 That is how We recompense the inventers (of falsehood).230 [153] As for those who worked evil deeds, but repented thereafter and believed, then, after that your Lord is All forgiving, All compassionate.231 [154] And when Musa's anger abated in him, he picked up the Tablets232 and in the inscription there was guidance, and mercy for those who fear their Lord. [155] And Musa chose from his people seventy men for Our appointed time. But when the violent quaking seized them, he said, ‘My Lord! Had you willed, You could have destroyed them before me – and me too. Will you destroy us all for what the foolish ones of us have done?233 Surely, this is Your trial: You lead astray whom You will thereby, and guide whom you will. You are our Protector, therefore, forgive us and show us mercy. And, surely, You are the best of those who forgive. [156] And, write for us in this world good, as also in the world to come. We have repented to You.'234 He responded, ‘My chastisement I smite therewith whom I will. But My mercy embraces all things.235 I shall write it down for those who fear, pay the alms, and those who truly believe in Our signs.
    [157] Those, who follow the unlettered236 Messenger Prophet237 about whom they find written with them in Tawrah and Injil.238 He commands them good (and honorable) things, forbids them the repugnant,239 declares the clean things lawful, prohibits them the unclean, and removes from them their burdens and the fetters that were upon them.240 Therefore, those who believed in him, strengthened him,241 helped him and followed the Light that was sent down with him,242 they such indeed are the prosperers. [158] Say, (O Prophet), ‘O people. Verily, I am Allah's Messenger unto you all,243 He to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no god but He. He gives life and deals death. Therefore believe in Allah and His unlettered244 Messenger Prophet who himself believes in Allah and His words. And obey him, haply you will be (rightly) guided.' [159] And, of the people of Musa, there are some who guide to the truth and by it they judge.245 [160] And We cut them up into twelve246 nation tribes. And We revealed to Musa when his people sought water from him that, ‘you strike the rock with your staff.' And lo, gushed forth therefrom twelve springs. Every people knew their watering place. And We hung upon them the clouds, and sent down upon them Mann and the quails? ‘Eat of the good things that We have provided you. And they wronged Us not, but rather, they were wronging themselves.
    [161] And when they were told, ‘Dwell in this town and eat from wheresoever you will, and say, "Hittatun," and enter at the gate prostrating. We shall forgive you your sins, (and) increase (the rewards of) those who excel.' [162] But those of them who transgressed, substituted the word with other than that they were told. So We sent upon them a scourge from the heaven for their (repeated) transgressions.247
    [163] Ask them concerning the township which overlooked the sea whose (inhabitants) were transgressing the Sabbath248 when their fish came to them on the day of their Sabbath swarming on the surface, while on the day they did not observe Sabbath, they did not come.249 That is how We tested them because of their corruptions.250 [164] When a group of them said, ‘Why do you admonish a people whom Allah is wont to destroy, or will chastise them with a terrible chastisement (in the Hereafter)?' They replied, ‘As an excuse to your Lord. And (who knows?) they might be godfearing.' [165] So, when they forgot all about what they were reminded, We rescued those who forbid them the evil251 and seized those who transgressed with a severe chastisement because of what corruptions they indulged in.252 [166] When they treated with disdain that which they were forbidden, We ordered, ‘Be apes, disgraced.'253
    [167] And (remember) when your Lord declared that He shall send upon them until the Day of Judgment those who will afflict them with an evil chastisement.254 Surely, your Lord is swift in retribution although He is very Forgiving, very Kind. [168] And We cut them up into (small) communities in the lands: some of them righteous, while others among them are otherwise. And We tried them with good things and evil, that haply they will return. [169] Then came after them evil successors who inherited the Book, who accept chance goods of this lower world saying, ‘We shall be forgiven.'255 But, when similar chance commodity comes their way, they accept it.256 Had not the compact of the Book taken from them that they shall not utter about Allah but the truth? while they had studied what was in it?257 The abode of the Hereafter is better for those who are godfearing. Will you not then contemplate? [170] As for those who hold fast unto the Book, perform the Prayer (regularly and properly), surely, We do not let go waste reward of the reformers.
    [171] And (recall) when We suspended258 the mountain over them, as if it was a canopy, and they were apprehensive that it would fall on them. (We said then), ‘Accept what We have given you and remember what is therein, haply you will (learn to) fear (Allah).259 [172] And when Your Lord took from the loins of Adam's children their offspring and made them testify concerning themselves,260 ‘Am I not your Lord?' They replied, ‘Yes. We261 do testify,'262 lest you should say on the Day of Judgment, ‘We were completely in dark over this.'
    [173] Or you should say, ‘Verily, it was our forefathers before us who set up partners. We were their descendants after them. Will You then destroy us for what the followers of falsehood did?' [174] That is how we expound the signs that haply they will return.263 [175] And recite to them the tiding of him whom We gave Our signs.264 But he went right through them (without profiting). Wherefore Shaytan followed after him. Eventually, he went (completely) astray. [176] Had We willed, We could have elevated him thereby.265 But he inclined toward the earth266 and followed his lust.267 Therefore, his example is like that of a dog: You load him up, he lolls his tongue out. You let him off, he lolls his tongue out. That is the example of those who laid the lies against Our signs.268 Narrate then the narrations, haply they will reflect.269 [177] Evil is the example of the people who laid the lies against Our signs, it was themselves they were wronging.
    [178] Whomsoever Allah guides, he is rightly guided. And whomsoever He leads astray, they indeed they are the losers. [179] Indeed We have created for Hell many of the Jinn and men.270 They have hearts271 but wherewith they understand not, they have eyes but wherewith they see not, and they have ears but wherewith they hear not.272 They are like cattle. Indeed, worse misguided.273 They indeed they are completely unheeding.274 [180] Allah's are the most excellent Names;275 so call Him by them,276 and let alone those who work distortion in His Names.277 Soon they will be recompensed for what they are doing. [181] And, of those We have created, there are people who guide by the truth and act justly therewith.278 [182] As for those who lay the lies against Our signs, We shall gradually lead them (to their destruction), in a manner they do not know.279 [183] And I grant them respite. Surely, My scheme is strong.280
    [184] Have they not reflected? Their companion is not seized with madness.281 He is not indeed but a plain warner.282 [186] Have they not observed in the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and in whatever Allah has created, that their end is perhaps close.283 After what manner of discourse then, will they believe?284 [187] Whomsoever Allah leads astray, there is no guide unto him. He abandons them wandering blindly in their insolence.285 [187] They question you concerning the Hour (as to) when it shall berth.286 Say, ‘Verily, its knowledge is with my Lord alone.287 None shall reveal it at its appointed time but He. It weighs heavy on the heavens and the earth. It will not come on you but suddenly.'288 They ask you as if you are well informed of it.289 Tell them, ‘Its knowledge is with Allah alone but most people know not.290 [188] Say, ‘I have no power over any good or evil for myself, save for what Allah will. Had I knowledge of the Unseen, surely, I would have acquired much good (for myself) and no evil would have touched me.291 I am not but a warner and a bearer of good news for a people who believe.'292
    [189] He it is who created you from a single living being293 and then out of him brought out his spouse294 so that he might find repose in her. Then, when he295 covered her, she conceived a light burden, going about with it (in ease).296 (But) When she grew heavy, the two supplicated to Allah their Lord, ‘If You gave us a sound297 (child) we shall be of the grateful ones.'298 [190] But when He gave them a sound child the two assigned Him associates in what He (alone) had given them.299 Exalted high is Allah, above what they associate (with Him).300 [191] (Why?!) Do they associate that which creates nothing, rather, are themselves301 created? [192] They have no power to help them nor can they help themselves.302 [193] If you call them to guidance, they will not follow you. It is all the same to you whether you call them or hold your peace. [194] Surely, those you call upon other than Allah, are slaves like yourselves.303 Therefore, call them. They should respond to you, if you be true. [195] Do they have feet wherewith they walk? Or, do they have hands wherewith they grasp? Or, do they have eyes wherewith they see? Or, do they have ears wherewith they hear? Say, call upon your associate( gods) and then lay down a scheme against me, and give me no respite.304 [196] Surely, my Protector is Allah who sent down the Book, and He protects the righteous. [197] As for those whom you call upon besides Him, they have no power to help you, nor can they help themselves. [198] If you call them to guidance, they do not hear. You see them looking at you. But they do not perceive.305
    [199] Therefore, take to forgiving,306 bid to what is right, and ignore the ignorant.307 [200] And, if a provocation from Satan should provoke you,308 seek refuge in Allah.309 Verily, He is All hearing, All knowing.310 [201] Surely, when a thought originating from Satan assaults those who have gained piety, they remember (Allah),311 and lo, they begin to perceive.312 [202] (As for) their brothers, they lead them into error. And they never let them relax.313 [203] When you do not bring them a miracle, they ask, ‘Why did you not choose one?'314 Say, ‘I only follow that which is revealed to Me by my Lord.315 This (Qur'an) is nothing but evidences316 from your Lord, a guidance and a mercy unto a people who believe. [204] Therefore, when the Qur'an is recited, listen to it,317 and stay silent listening in attention, haply so you might be shown mercy. [205] And, remember your Lord within yourself in humility and awe, without saying the word aloud, morning and evening.318 And be not of the heedless. [206] Verily, those who are with your Lord,319 are not too proud to worship Him. They extol His glory and to Him they prostrate themselves.320

    بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ المص (1)

    7|1| Alif. Lam. Mim. Saad.2

    1. By consensus the surah is Makkan. However, according to Qatadah, a single verse, no. 163, is Madinan. According to reports (Sahih, in Nasa'i: S. Ibrahim) the Prophet (saws) often recited this surah in the first two rak`ah of the maghrib prayers (Shawkani).
    2. Although the consensus is that no one knows the meaning of these letters (huruf al muqatta`at), Ibn `Abbas and Sa`id b. Jubayr are reported to have said that these particular letters mean: "Allah is Supreme" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). Qadi (`Ayad) strongly disagrees with this meaning, objecting that this kind of interpretation, without the backing of a principle behind it, opens up the way for the Batiniyyun (the Esotericists) to interpret the Qur'an whimsically (Razi).

    كِتَابٌ أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ فَلَا يَكُنْ فِي صَدْرِكَ حَرَجٌ مِنْهُ لِتُنْذِرَ بِهِ وَذِكْرَىٰ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ (2)

    7|2| A Book sent down to you (O Muhammad), so let there be no constriction3 in your heart thereof so that you might warn thereby, and (so that it be) a reminder for the believers.

    3. "Constriction" is the literal translation of the textual word "haraj." However, Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah and Suddi have all said that it is "doubt" that is meant; to which Ibn Jarir adds that constriction comes from doubts. Zamakhshari, the grammarian, supports him.
    Muslim has a hadith which says,


    وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ أَمَرَنِي أَنْ أُحَرِّقَ قُرَيْشًا ، فَقُلْتُ : رَبِّي إِذًا يَثْلَغُوا رَأْسِي


    "Allah ordered me to set the Quraysh on fire (with my preaching). I said, ‘My Lord, they will break my head into pieces'" (Qurtubi).
    Alternatively haraj could be rendered as ‘to be disheartened.' The verse then would mean that the Prophet (saws) is being told not to be disheartened in his mission, unmindful of the poor response (Thanwi, Shabbir and others).
    As Allah (swt) said elsewhere (15: 97):


    وَلَقَدْ نَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَ يَضِيقُ صَدْرُكَ بِمَا يَقُولُونَ [الحجر : 97]


    "We are aware that what they say constricts your heart."
    At another place it said (16: 127):


    وَاصْبِرْ وَمَا صَبْرُكَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ وَلَا تَحْزَنْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا تَكُ فِي ضَيْقٍ مِمَّا يَمْكُرُونَ [النحل : 127]


    "Be patient. And your patience is not but for Allah. And do not feel sorry for them, nor feel constricted over what they plot."
    If this meaning is accepted, then the whole verse could be rendered as: "Let there be no constriction in your heart that you have to warn them thereby" (Rashid Rida).

    اتَّبِعُوا مَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ ۗ قَلِيلًا مَا تَذَكَّرُونَ (3)

    7|3| Follow (O people) what has been sent down to you from your Lord, and follow not patrons besides Him. (Yet) Little do you receive admonition.

    وَكَمْ مِنْ قَرْيَةٍ أَهْلَكْنَاهَا فَجَاءَهَا بَأْسُنَا بَيَاتًا أَوْ هُمْ قَائِلُونَ (4)

    7|4| How many townships We have destroyed? Our chastisement descended on it at night or while they were in their afternoon rest.4

    4. Az hari has said that siesta (qaylulah) with the Arabs is the mid afternoon cessation of activities, not necessary accompanied by sleep. The implication simply is that the chastisement visited them unawares (Razi, Qurtubi).

    فَمَا كَانَ دَعْوَاهُمْ إِذْ جَاءَهُمْ بَأْسُنَا إِلَّا أَنْ قَالُوا إِنَّا كُنَّا ظَالِمِينَ (5)

    7|5| Then they had no other assertion when Our chastisement descended upon them except to admit,5 ‘Surely, we were the wrong doers.'6

    5. The translation of the textual "qalu" as "admit" has the backing of Zamakhshari and Ibn al Anbari (as in Razi).
    6. A hadith (of Ibn Mas`ud in Ibn Humayd: Ibn Kathir) says that no community was destroyed before it had admitted its sins (Ibn Jarir).
    That is, when they saw that the chastisement was about to overtake them, they admitted that they were sinners (Au.).

    فَلَنَسْأَلَنَّ الَّذِينَ أُرْسِلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَنَسْأَلَنَّ الْمُرْسَلِينَ (6)

    7|6| We shall most certainly question those to whom (a Message) was sent7 and We shall most certainly question the Messengers.8

    7. The statement that Allah will question the nations to which Messengers were sent, seems to contradict with another Qur'anic statement which says (28: 78):


    وَلَا يُسْأَلُ عَنْ ذُنُوبِهِمُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ [القصص : 78]


    "And the criminals will not be questioned about their crimes."
    The answer is, in the Hereafter people will pass through several stages and phases. In some places they would be questioned about their deeds, in others they would not (Qurtubi).
    The first thing that a Muslim would be questioned about on the Day of Judgment is his five daily prayers. Says a hadith:


    أول ما يحاسب العبد يوم القيامة الصلاة فإن صلحت صلح سائر عمله وإن فسدت فسد سائر عمله


    "The first thing a man would be questioned on the Day of Judgment is concerning his Prayers. If on examination they are found acceptable, he will be successful. If found wanting, rest of his deeds will fail him."
    Tirmidhi has recorded a Hasan Sahih hadith which says:


    لا تزول قدما عبد يوم القيامة حتى يسئل عن عمره فيم أفناه وعن علمه فيم فعل وعن ماله من أين اكتسبه وفيم أنفقه وعن جسمه فيم أبلا


    "A man's feet ill not move until he is questioned about four things: his life, as to where he exhausted it; his knowledge, as to how he acted by it; his wealth, as to how he earned it and how he spent it; and, his youth, as to how he spent it." Hence another Sahih hadith in Jami` Saghir, which says:


    الْكَيِّسُ مَنْ دَانَ نَفْسَهُ وَعَمِلَ لِمَا بَعْدَ الْمَوْتِ


    "Intelligent is he who took account of his self and worked for what he is to face after death (Rashid Rida).
    8. Hence the Prophet's question at the end of the last sermon at `Arafat:


    وأنتم مسؤولون عني فما أنتم قائلون قالوا نشهد أن قد بلغت وأديت ونصحت فقال بإصبعه السبابة يرفعها إلى السماء ويسلتها إلى الأرض اللهم اشهد اللهم اشهد ثلاثا


    "You will be asked on the Day of Judgment whether I delivered the message to you; how will you answer? The Companions answered: ‘We shall say that you delivered the message, that you did justice (to Allah's trust entrusted to you), and that you strived in all seriousness and sincerity.’ Thereupon, the Prophet pointed to the heavens and then down to the earth and said: ‘O Allah, be witness. O Allah, be witness,’ three times" (Shafi`).

    فَلَنَقُصَّنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ بِعِلْمٍ ۖ وَمَا كُنَّا غَائِبِينَ (7)

    7|7| We shall most certainly recount to them with knowledge; for We were not absent.9


    9. Imam Razi uses this opportunity to refute the notion that Allah is in a particular direction or place. He does not agree with those who interpret Allah's "presence" as His "knowledge," since, according to him, when the apparent meaning is possible, tafsir rules do not allow for a metaphorical meaning.

    وَالْوَزْنُ يَوْمَئِذٍ الْحَقُّ ۚ فَمَنْ ثَقُلَتْ مَوَازِينُهُ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ (8)

    7|8| The weighing of that Day is true.10 Therefore, he whose scales (of good deeds) weighed down,11 they it is who shall be successful.12

    10. The rendering here follows one of the several possible interpretations. The word "wazn" of the text has also been interpreted as "judgment" by Mujahid. The whole verse would then mean, "that day's judgment is a true (event)," or, "that day's weighing is a true (event)." `Ubayd b. `Umayr and Mujahid have reported that a man of massive size would be brought forth that Day, but he will weigh no more than the weight of the wing of a mosquito (Ibn Jarir). A hadith of similar meaning is in the Sahihhayn (Ibn Kathir: H. bin Ibrahim).
    A hadith about `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud (whose thin legs were exposed when he climbed a tree) reports the Prophet as having said:


    مَا تَعْجَبُونَ، فَوَ الَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَهُوَ أَثْقَلُ فِي الْمِيزَانِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مِنْ أُحُدٍ


    "Are you surprised (at his thin legs)? By Him in whose Hands is my soul, they will weigh in the Scales heavier than Mount Uhud" (Ibn Kathir).
    The hadith is in Ahmad (H. bin Ibrahim).
    Ibn Kathir also writes that it is possible that sometimes deeds would be weighed and at others, those men who committed those deeds. And, adds Shafi`, sometimes words would be weighed while at others the records themselves.
    Mawdudi comments: "This means that when the Balance is fixed on the Day of Judgment, ‘truth' and weight will be identical. The more truth one has to one's credit, the more the weight in one's scale; and vice versa. One will be judged solely on the basis of this weight. In other words, no consideration other than truth will enter into calculation. A life of falsehood, however long it lasted, and however full of worldly achievements, will carry no weight at all. Weighed in the Balance, the devotees of falsehood will discover that their life long deeds do not weigh so much as a bird's feather."
    11. Although deeds are insubstantial things, they would be given substantial forms in order to be weighed. That would happen in the same manner as the chapters al Baqarah and Aal `Imran, which would appear in the form of birds, interceding on behalf of those who recited them, or good deeds appearing in the form of a beautiful person, etc. (Ibn Kathir).
    12. A hadith preserved in Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban and Hakim (who declared it Sahih), says:


    يصاح برجل من أمتي على رؤوس الخلائق يوم القيامة فينشر له تسع و تسعون سجلا كل سجل مد البصر ثم يقال له أتنكر من هذا شيئا فيقول : لا يا رب فيقول ألك عذر أو حسنة فيهاب الرجل فيقول : لا يا رب فيقول بلى : إن لك عندنا حسنات و أنه لا ظلم عليك فيخرج له بطاقة فيها اشهد أن لا إله إلا الله و أن محمدا عبده و رسوله فيقول : يا رب ما هذه البطاقة مع هذه السجلات فيقول : إنك لا تظلم قال فيوضع السجلات في كفه و البطاقة في كفه فطاشت السجلات و ثقلت البطاقة - هذا حديث صحيح الإسناد و لم يخرجاه - المستدرك - (1 / 710)


    "A man from my Ummah will be brought up before the creations on the Day of Judgment and his 99 volumes (of evil deeds), each of length as far as the sight goes, would be laid before him. He will be asked, ‘Can you deny any of these? Did the recorders do you any wrong?' He will reply, ‘No, my Lord.' He will be asked, ‘Do you have a good excuse or a good deed?' The man, much depressed will reply, ‘No my Lord.' Allah will say, ‘Rather, We have for you good things, and you shall not be wronged.' Then a little card would be brought out which would have the words written on it: ‘I bear witness that there is no deity save Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger.' The man will cry out, ‘My Lord, of what use this little card against the 99 volumes?' He will be told, ‘You shall not be wronged.' The card will be placed in one pan and the 99 books in the other, and lo, the pan would prove heavier than those volumes" (Shawkani).
    It is possible, adds Alusi, that the testimony that will outweigh the 99 registers would be the last thing the man had said before he was overtaken by death.
    In fact, the chapter heading under which Tirmidhi mentions this hadith also implies this. The title there is: "Chapter on: ‘Whoever died bearing the testimony that there is no deity worthy of worship save Allah.'" In other words, the man of the hadith was an unbeliever who embraced Islam just before his death, and, therefore, did not have any other good deed in his account save the testimony, but the testimony over weighed his 99 volumes of evil deeds (Rashid Rida).

    وَمَنْ خَفَّتْ مَوَازِينُهُ فَأُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا يَظْلِمُونَ (9)

    7|9| As for he whose scales are light, they it is who lost their souls for what wrongful treatment they accorded Our signs.13

    13. Rashid Rida writes: This part of the sentence implies that – not only the deeds of the believers – but the deeds of the unbelievers would also be weighed. This is supported by other verses; e.g. (23: 103 105):


    وَمَنْ خَفَّتْ مَوَازِينُهُ فَأُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ فِي جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدُونَ (103) تَلْفَحُ وُجُوهَهُمُ النَّارُ وَهُمْ فِيهَا كَالِحُونَ (104) [المؤمنون : 103 ، 104]


    "Then, those whose scales go down, they it is who incurred a loss unto themselves; abiding in Jahannum. Fire will eat their faces and they shall (abide) therein with disfigured faces.
    Ibn Taymiyyah seems to have committed an error, continues Rashid Rida, in saying that there will be no weighing of deeds of the unbelievers. They will be ushered into Hell straightaway. After all, are there not kinds and kinds of unbelievers? Were Abu Jahal and Abu Talib unbelievers of the same class? In every age there are unbelievers who are quite close to Islamic way of life against those who are the most corrupt. Can they both be consigned to the same compartment in Hell? Allah has said: "Verily, Allah shall not do injustice by a mustard seed." True, a hadith says that they are rewarded for their deeds in this world itself. But, it does not mean that their deeds will not be weighed at all. Rather, it is quite possible that the exact level in Paradise or Hell should be determined by the weight of the deeds of the believers and the unbelievers alike.
    Probably Rashid Rida means that some unbelievers' exact level in Jahannum would be determined from the weight of their deeds. But, there would be many who will enter Hell fire before the weighing, is a fact supported by several Qur'anic verses. Perhaps he also believed that there are some among the unbelievers who have a little amount of faith in their hearts, and who, as a result of it, perform some good deeds (Au.).

    وَلَقَدْ مَكَّنَّاكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَجَعَلْنَا لَكُمْ فِيهَا مَعَايِشَ ۗ قَلِيلًا مَا تَشْكُرُونَ (10)

    7|10| Surely, We established you in the earth14 and placed therein for you your livelihood. Little it is that you give thanks.

    14. That is, We gave you various mental faculties and physical powers to build, control and dispose the material world around you in the manner it suits you (Au.).

    وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَاكُمْ ثُمَّ صَوَّرْنَاكُمْ ثُمَّ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ لَمْ يَكُنْ مِنَ السَّاجِدِينَ (11)

    7|11| Verily, We created you,15 then gave you the form (and shape)16 and ordered the angels, ‘Prostrate yourselves before Adam.'17 They prostrated themselves, save Iblis.18 He was not of those that prostrated themselves.19

    15. The words that follow lend the sense that man was "created" at one go and that he did not emerge out of an evolutionary process, even if changes in individuals or species by mutation are not ruled out. We shall have more to write on this topic later, Allah willing. Yet, we might point out here that to many scientists appearance of man in his present form and shape is quite a mystery. The theory of evolution is far from satisfactory (Au.).
    16. According to Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Dahhak and Rabi` b. Anas, the act of creation refers to the creation of Adam and that of shaping and forming to his progeny in the wombs of their mothers (Ibn Jarir, Shawkani).
    17. The prostration was that of honor and not of worship.
    18. Iblis is the other name of Shaytan. See surah al Baqarah, note 36 for some more details.
    19. The text can be understood in two ways. First, Iblis was one of those who did not prostrate themselves, that is, there were other creations too who did not prostrate themselves, perhaps because they were not required to. Second, (as Alusi has said) Iblis was never of those who prostrated themselves, neither on that occasion nor at any other time (Au.).
    Ibn al `Arabiyy has said that not all angels prostrated themselves. Those in the higher level were not addressed by the command to prostrate and hence they were "of those who did not prostrate themselves." Imam Razi is also of the opinion that it is only the angels of the earth who prostrated themselves before Adam (Rashid Rida).

    قَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ إِذْ أَمَرْتُكَ ۖ قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِنْ نَارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِينٍ (12)

    7|12| He asked, ‘What prevented you that you should not prostrate yourself when I ordered you?' He answered, ‘I am better than he. You created me of fire, and him You created of clay.'20

    20. A hadith in Muslim says:


    خُلِقَتِ الْمَلاَئِكَةُ مِنْ نُورٍ وَخُلِقَ الْجَانُّ مِنْ مَارِجٍ مِنْ نَارٍ وَخُلِقَ آدَمُ مِمَّا وُصِفَ لَكُمْ


    "Allah created the angels from Light (nur), the Jinn from the flame of fire (marij), and Adam from what He described to you" (Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Sirin and Hasan have said that Shaytan was the first to employ analogy (to a false end). Hasan has added that the worship of the Sun and the Moon has nothing but false analogy behind it (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani). The above does not rule out analogy as a useful scientific or Fiqh tool. In science analogy is widely employed to test a hypothesis. In Fiqh matters, analogy is used to arrive at a workable solution, rather than to reject a command as Iblis did (Au.).

    قَالَ فَاهْبِطْ مِنْهَا فَمَا يَكُونُ لَكَ أَنْ تَتَكَبَّرَ فِيهَا فَاخْرُجْ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الصَّاغِرِينَ (13)

    7|13| He ordered, ‘Go down out of this (place). It is not for you to wax proud here. Verily, you are of the belittled ones.'21

    21. The textual word saghir implies someone who accepts his low nature or position (Alusi).
    Alusi mentions the following ahadith: Bayhaqi has recorded a hadith narrated by `Umar ibn al Khattab. The Prophet said:


    من تواضع لله في الدنيا رفعه الله يوم القيامة


    "Whoever humbled himself for Allah, Allah will raise him in esteem; and whoever waxed proud shall be brought low."
    But this seems to be the statement of Salman (al-Farsi) – Au.
    Tirmidhi has recorded the Prophet (saws) as having said:


    يُحشرُ المُتكَبِرون يَوم القِيامةِ أَمثالَ الذَّر فِي صُورة الرِّجال ، يَغشاهُم الذُّل مِن كُل مَكان ، يُساقُون إِلى سِجنِ مِن جَهنَّم يُسمَّى : بُوْلَس تَعلُوهُم نَار الأنْيَار ، ويُسقَون مِن عُصارَة أَهلِ النَّار ، طينةَ الخَبال


    "People who acted arrogantly (during this life) would be resurrected in the size of ants, although in human form; humiliation covering them from all sides. They will be dragged into a prison inside Jahannum called ‘Bolus.' Fire of the fires will be rising over them, and they will be fed with the wastes of the people of the Fire called teenatu al-khabaal."

    قَالَ أَنْظِرْنِي إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ (14)

    7|14| He requested, ‘Allow me respite until (the day) they are resurrected.'

    قَالَ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الْمُنْظَرِينَ (15)

    7|15| He relented, ‘You are of those granted respite.'22

    22. Mujahid has said that although Iblis asked for respite until the Day of Judgment, he was granted the respite but not until the Day of Judgment, rather until an appointed time as in verse (15: 38) which said:


    إِلَى يَوْمِ الْوَقْتِ الْمَعْلُومِ [الحجر : 38]


    "(Respite) Until the Day of the appointed time" (Ibn Jarir, Razi).
    The words, ‘You are of those given respite" suggest that there are others who are given respite. Who are they? Ibn Jarir answers that those who will not die when the Trumpet is blown could be the ones alluded to.
    Thanwi adds: That the supplication of Iblis was accepted proves that the positive response to a supplication is not the sign of Allah's Pleasure as the ignorant ones assume.

    قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ (16)

    7|16| He said, ‘Now that You have misguided me,23 I shall most certainly sit in ambush for them all along Your Straight Path.24

    23. The interpretation that has come from Ibn `Abbas is that it was Allah who misguided him (Ibn Jarir). (Perhaps meaning, He allowed Iblis to take the path of error: Au.).
    Another interpretation is that Iblis attributed his own error to Allah since it is Allah who in the first place created "error" (Alusi).
    24. A hadith (in Ahmad narrated by Sabrah ibn al Fakih: Ibn Kathir) says he heard the Prophet say:


    إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ قَعَدَ لِابْنِ آدَمَ بِأَطْرُقِهِ فَقَعَدَ لَهُ بِطَرِيقِ الْإِسْلَامِ فَقَالَ لَهُ أَتُسْلِمُ وَتَذَرُ دِينَكَ وَدِينَ آبَائِكَ وَآبَاءِ أَبِيكَ قَالَ فَعَصَاهُ فَأَسْلَمَ ثُمَّ قَعَدَ لَهُ بِطَرِيقِ الْهِجْرَةِ فَقَالَ أَتُهَاجِرُ وَتَذَرُ أَرْضَكَ وَسَمَاءَكَ وَإِنَّمَا مَثَلُ الْمُهَاجِرِ كَمَثَلِ الْفَرَسِ فِي الطِّوَلِ قَالَ فَعَصَاهُ فَهَاجَرَ قَالَ ثُمَّ قَعَدَ لَهُ بِطَرِيقِ الْجِهَادِ فَقَالَ لَهُ هُوَ جَهْدُ النَّفْسِ وَالْمَالِ فَتُقَاتِلُ فَتُقْتَلُ فَتُنْكَحُ الْمَرْأَةُ وَيُقَسَّمُ الْمَالُ قَالَ فَعَصَاهُ فَجَاهَدَ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَمَنْ فَعَلَ ذَلِكَ مِنْهُمْ فَمَاتَ كَانَ حَقًّا عَلَى اللَّهِ أَنْ يُدْخِلَهُ الْجَنَّةَ أَوْ قُتِلَ


    "Shaytan sat in the path of Adam's son at various points. He sat by the path of Islam and said, ‘Will you embrace Islam and abandon your ancestral religion?' The man disobeyed him and embraced Islam. Then he sat by the path of hijrah saying, ‘Will you emigrate abandoning your land and your sky?' The man opposed him and emigrated. Then he sat by the path of jihad in person and with the wealth and said, ‘Will you fight to be killed, so that your wife marries another man and your wealth distributed?' The man did not give him an ear and participated in jihad. The Prophet added, "Whoever achieved this of them and died, or was killed, will have a right on Allah to admit him into Paradise” (Zamakhshari). The hadith here is Ibn Kathir's version.

    ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُمْ مِنْ بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَنْ شَمَائِلِهِمْ ۖ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ (17)

    7|17| Then I shall come to them from their front, their rear, their right and their left,25 and You will not find many of them grateful (to You)’.26

    25. Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah and others have said that the word "front" alludes to this world, the "rear" to the Hereafter, the "right" to good deeds and the "left" to evil deeds. Yet, he will not be able to come from above to veil a man from Allah's mercy (Ibn Jarir).
    Most of the commentators however have said that the meaning simply is that Iblis promised that he would attack man from all sides. Thanwi has added that the verse neither denies his coming from above nor confirms it.
    But see hadith under note 31 of this chapter which confirms the need for protection from above (Au.).
    26. Abu Muslim has said that when Satan discovered Adam possessed of so many physical senses and powers pulling him down to the earth against a single power of intellect trying to raise him up toward the spiritual world, he made a fair guess that his kind would succumb to temptations (Razi).
    The following ayah confirms the above note (34: 20):


    وَلَقَدْ صَدَّقَ عَلَيْهِمْ إِبْلِيسُ ظَنَّهُ فَاتَّبَعُوهُ إِلَّا فَرِيقًا مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ [سبأ : 20]


    “Iblis’ conjecture came true so that most followed him, except for a group of believers” (Au.).

    قَالَ اخْرُجْ مِنْهَا مَذْءُومًا مَدْحُورًا ۖ لَمَنْ تَبِعَكَ مِنْهُمْ لَأَمْلَأَنَّ جَهَنَّمَ مِنْكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ (18)

    7|18| Said He, ‘Go forth from here, despised and driven away (from mercy). Whosoever followed you, I shall most certainly fill Jahannum with you all.27

    27. He has no power however over the people. All he can do is to provoke them. The decision to accept his bidding or not, lies with the people themselves. A verse says (15: 42):


    إِنَّ عِبَادِي لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانٌ إِلَّا مَنِ اتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ [الحجر : 42]


    "Verily you have no power over My slaves, except for the misguided ones who follow you" (Rashid Rida).

    وَيَا آدَمُ اسْكُنْ أَنْتَ وَزَوْجُكَ الْجَنَّةَ فَكُلَا مِنْ حَيْثُ شِئْتُمَا وَلَا تَقْرَبَا هَٰذِهِ الشَّجَرَةَ فَتَكُونَا مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ (19)

    7|19| As for you O Adam, dwell you and your spouse in Paradise, and eat thereof whatever you wish, but approach not this tree, lest you become of the wrong doers.’

    فَوَسْوَسَ لَهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ لِيُبْدِيَ لَهُمَا مَا وُورِيَ عَنْهُمَا مِنْ سَوْآتِهِمَا وَقَالَ مَا نَهَاكُمَا رَبُّكُمَا عَنْ هَٰذِهِ الشَّجَرَةِ إِلَّا أَنْ تَكُونَا مَلَكَيْنِ أَوْ تَكُونَا مِنَ الْخَالِدِينَ (20)

    7|20| Thereupon Satan whispered unto the two, so that he might lay bare to them what was kept hidden from them of their shameful parts.28 He told them, ‘Your Lord did not forbid you that tree except that the two of you should become angels or attain eternity.'

    28. This shows that revealing one's private parts is one of the most serious acts (Zamakhshari).
    "[The abomination of the act] .. is an integral part of human nature" (Mawdudi).

    وَقَاسَمَهُمَا إِنِّي لَكُمَا لَمِنَ النَّاصِحِينَ (21)

    7|21| And he swore to the two, ‘I am of the sincere counselors to you.'29


    29. Accordingly, some scholars have said that if someone tried to deceive us "in the name of God," we might be deceived at his hands (Ibn Jarir). That is to say that God is the weakness of the humans who are prone to be deceived in His name (Au.).
    Zamakhshari adds: It is said that when `Abdullah ibn `Umar noticed piety in one of his slaves, he would free him. He was warned, ‘Your slaves feign piety and good behavior only to deceive you.' He replied, ‘If someone deceives in the name of Allah, we are ready to be deceived.'

    فَدَلَّاهُمَا بِغُرُورٍ ۚ فَلَمَّا ذَاقَا الشَّجَرَةَ بَدَتْ لَهُمَا سَوْآتُهُمَا وَطَفِقَا يَخْصِفَانِ عَلَيْهِمَا مِنْ وَرَقِ الْجَنَّةِ ۖ وَنَادَاهُمَا رَبُّهُمَا أَلَمْ أَنْهَكُمَا عَنْ تِلْكُمَا الشَّجَرَةِ وَأَقُلْ لَكُمَا إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَكُمَا عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ (22)

    7|22| Thus he brought them down by deceit.30 Then, when the two tasted the tree, their shameful parts became apparent to them,31 and they began to patch upon themselves the leaves of Paradise.32 Their Lord called out to them, ‘Did I not prohibit you from that tree, and say to you "Verily, Shaytan is your avowed enemy?"'

    30. The textual words "dalla" implies letting down a thing in slow steps, gradually. It implies that Iblis brought them to the point of his own obedience in a gradual manner, gaining their hearing little by little, and convincing them in steps (Rashid Rida).
    31. Wahab b. Munabbih has said that earlier to the eating of the forbidden tree the two had a cover of light on their private parts and so neither of them could see the other's. When they ate of the tree, their private parts became visible to them (Ibn Jarir). The chain of narrators of this report is trustworthy (Ibn Kathir).
    Majid remarks: "This completely negatives the Biblical version: ‘And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed' (Gi., 2: 25)."
    According to a report preserved by Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban and Hakim, who declared it Sahih, the Prophet never missed to say these prayer words any morning or evening:


    اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الْعَفْوَ وَالْعَافِيَةَ فِي دِينِي وَدُنْيَايَ وَأَهِلِّي وَمَالِي , اللَّهُمَّ اسْتُرْ عَوْرَاتِي وَآمِنْ رَوْعَاتِي , اللَّهُمَّ احْفَظْنِي مِنْ بَيْنِ يَدَيَّ وَمِنْ خَلْفِي وَعَنْ يَمِينِي وَعَنْ شِمَالِي وَمِنْ فَوْقِي , وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أُغْتَالَ مِنْ تَحْتِي


    "O Lord, I seek, Your pardon, and protection in my religion, my life, my household and in my property. O Lord, cover my shameful parts and give peace to my apprehensions. O Lord, protect me from my front, my rear, my right, my left and from above me. I seek Your protection that I should be taken away unaware from underneath."
    Waki` explained that by "from underneath" he meant caving in of the earth (Ibn Kathir).
    Mawdudi comments: "The very first stratagem adopted by Satan in his bid to lead man astray from the Right Path consisted in undermining man's sense of modesty, to direct him towards lewdness and make him sexually deviant. In other words, the sexual instincts of man were taken by Satan as the most vulnerable aspect of human nature. Accordingly, he sought to weaken man's natural instincts of modesty and bashfulness. This devilish stratagem is still followed by the disciples of Satan in our time. For them, progress is inconceivable without exposing woman to the gaze of all.."
    32. `A'isha, the Prophet's wife, said:


    ما رأيت منه ولا رأى مني


    "Neither I saw of him nor he saw of me" (Zamakhshari).
    The statement is Mursal (Munawi); and it is not a hadith, but a point of note from `A’isha (Au.).

    قَالَا رَبَّنَا ظَلَمْنَا أَنْفُسَنَا وَإِنْ لَمْ تَغْفِرْ لَنَا وَتَرْحَمْنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ (23)

    7|23| The two cried out, ‘Our Lord! We have wronged our souls. If You do not forgive us and show us mercy, most certainly we shall be of the losers.'33

    33. The supplication was in the spirit of the awliya' who think big of their minor sins and treat major good deeds as worth nothing (Zamakhshari).
    It is reported of some of the earliest scholars that it was Hawwa' who recommended to Adam the eating of the tree. There is no hadith to this effect. But, as Rashid Rida points out, there is a hadith Sahih which says: "If not for Hawwa' a woman would never deceive her husband."
    That said, the above hadith has not been adequately explained by the scholars (Au.).

    قَالَ اهْبِطُوا بَعْضُكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ ۖ وَلَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مُسْتَقَرٌّ وَمَتَاعٌ إِلَىٰ حِينٍ (24)

    7|24| He ordered, ‘Get down some of you enemies unto others. You shall have in the earth an abode and a livelihood unto an (appointed) time.34

    34. The order to leave Paradise and dwell on the earth was not by way of punishment, since Adam and Eve were already pardoned, but a consequence of the act of disobedience. It also became the means to achieve the purpose of man's creation. See also note 100 of surah al Baqarah (Au.).

    قَالَ فِيهَا تَحْيَوْنَ وَفِيهَا تَمُوتُونَ وَمِنْهَا تُخْرَجُونَ (25)

    7|25| He said, ‘Therein you shall live, therein you shall die, and therefrom you shall be brought forth (for Reckoning).'35


    35. Conjectures about what exact spot of the earth it was where Adam descended, with none being closer to truth than another have been wide and varied. Moreover, there is no religious profit in knowing such details (Ibn Kathir).

    يَا بَنِي آدَمَ قَدْ أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْآتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا ۖ وَلِبَاسُ التَّقْوَىٰ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ (26)

    7|26| Children of Adam! We have bestowed on you a raiment36 that covers your shame37 and is a (source of) adornment.38 Nonetheless, the garment of piety that is better.39 This is one of the signs of Allah, haply they will take it to heart.

    36. The allusion is to the sending down of rains, bringing forth of plants, and to man's ability to weave material for his clothing (Au.).
    37. The word in the text is "saw`ah" which is for shameful parts. What does it exactly cover? Qurtubi explains that here it has been used in the sense of `awrah, which, according to Imam Abu Hanifah is from the navel to the knees, both included. Some others have not included the navel and the knees. As for a woman, her `awrah is the whole of her body except her face and hands. But Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal has said that whole of the woman is `awrah, including her nails.
    Although a detailed discussion will in sha Allah follow in surah Nur and al Ahzab, it might be pointed out at this point that Imam Abu Hanifah's opinion is not always the opinion of the Hanafiyyah. When the later day mujtahids (muta'akhkhirin) differ with Imam Abu Hanifah, it is their opinion that prevails as the Hanafiyy position. In this particular case, the Hanafiyy opinion is no different from that of the Hanabilah and the rest of the great majority (Au.).
    38. The textual word rish is, literally, "plumage" a metaphorical expression derived from the beauty of birds' plumage (Asad). To the Arabs it has several connotations such as wealth, property, as well as those things that are spread, such as beds, carpets etc. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Suddi and others have said that at this point it implies wealth. But Ibn Zayd has said that it alludes to things of adornment (Ibn Jarir).
    39. Ibn `Abbas has interpreted the "libas of taqwa" as righteous deeds. And Hasan al Busri has reported that he saw `Uthman on the pulpit saying, "People! Fear Allah in your secret. I have heard the Prophet say,


    والذي نفس محمد بيده، ما عمل أحدٌ قط سرًّا إلا ألبسه الله رداءَ علانيةٍ، إن خيرًا فخيرًا، وإن شرًّا فشرًا


    ‘By Him in whose hands is my life, no one ever did a thing secretly but Allah dressed him up in that dress visible to everyone: good (dress), if good, and evil if evil.'" Then he quoted this verse (Ibn Jarir, Rashid Rida).

    يَا بَنِي آدَمَ لَا يَفْتِنَنَّكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ كَمَا أَخْرَجَ أَبَوَيْكُمْ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ يَنْزِعُ عَنْهُمَا لِبَاسَهُمَا لِيُرِيَهُمَا سَوْآتِهِمَا ۗ إِنَّهُ يَرَاكُمْ هُوَ وَقَبِيلُهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا تَرَوْنَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا الشَّيَاطِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ لِلَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ (27)

    7|27| Children of Adam! Let not Shaytan seduce you in the manner he got your parents leave Paradise, stripping them of their garments so as to reveal to them their shame.40 Surely he sees you, he and his tribe, from where you see them not.41 Verily We have made the Satans patrons of those who do not believe.42

    40. Although, Rashid Rida writes, `A'isha has said that she and the Prophet "never saw of each other," legally speaking, it is permissible for a husband and wife to see other's private parts, even if not the best thing to do.
    41. Basing their opinion on this verse, some people have denied that the Shayatin and Jinn can be seen by the humans. (In fact, Imam Shafe`i has ruled that he would not allow the testimony in the courts of the man who claimed that he could see the Jinn. But, it seems what he meant is that he would reject the testimony of someone who claimed that he saw the Jinn in the form in which they have been created: Alusi, Rashid Rida). But, if they appear in another form and state, they could be seen. For instance, Abu Hurayrah saw Shaytan on the occasion he was asked to guard over the zakah goods. (Ibn Mas`ud saw him twice: Alusi). We also have the Sahih report which says that when Satan tried to distract the Prophet in his Prayer, he said he could have caught Satan and tied him to the mosque column for the children of Madinah to play with, but did not do it remembering Sulayman's supplication (Qurtubi, Rashid Rida, Alusi). That is, it confirms that humans can see the Jinn – Shaytan being one of them (Au.).
    Rashid Rida adds that while it is true that the common people are often fooled by those who claim they control the Jinn or have contacts with them, or can cure those who have been overpowered by them, and although most are liars and are out to monetarily exploit the ignorant masses, yet, it is not right to adopt the other extreme attitude to say that the Jinn cannot be seen at all, in any form, or contacted. True, they stay away from the humans, being, as Ibn `Abbas has said, "more fearful of the humans than the humans are of them" but there is some truth in the claim of countless people who have reported encounters. Not everyone has been lying. Indeed, we have no less a figure than Ibn Taymiyyah himself reporting his contacts.
    "Why should I not at this point," writes Rashid Rida, (who was better known in his times as a modernist and rationalist), "narrate my personal experience? Once it so happened that in our town Qalmun (formerly) a part of Syria, a fisherman threw his net into the sea. Following that, he instantly fainted. He reported that a whole group of Jinns had attacked him on the accusation that he had kidnapped one of their women. The man also said that he saw me at his subconscious level in the posture I used to adopt in my solitary retreats of devotion in an inner chamber specially marked for that. I had a little black cane over which I used to lean, although no other man had ever seen it in my place ... he saw that I was trying to drive away the Jinn with it. His friends reported the matter to me and requested me to visit him and pray for him. Accordingly, I repaired to him. He was kind of unconscious, unaware of anything around him. But he began to say, ‘Sheikh Rashid has arrived.' When I saw him in that state, I turned my attention to Allah in all sincerity and humbleness. Then I placed my hand on his head and uttered:


    بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ. فَسَيَكْفِيكَهُمُ اللَّهُ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ


    ‘In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful: Allah will suffice you against them. Verily, He is the Hearer, the Knower.' The man immediately opened his eyes and stood up as if he had been through nothing. Then, after quite some time, the same ailment came back to him and he was treated in the same manner. However, personally I never saw any Jinn that he said I was chasing away from him. Although, I would not say with certainty that it were the Jinn alone that he saw. After all, the incident can be explained in a variety of ways. Nevertheless, the scholars of my town recounted several stories to relate of my grandfather."
    Human encounters with the Jinn are so numerous, and their descending upon those of weak faith is so common that any denial would be unreasonable. People of integrity have heard young girls speaking out in the voice of a male, or vice versa, when under the spell of a Jinn and regaining their selves when they left them (Au.).
    42. When these people acted dishonestly, to take the Satans as their friends, as a verse of the following passage says: "They took the Satans as their patrons apart from Allah," (verse 30) then, Allah too did not intervene in their choice. He let them have patrons as they chose (Shabbir).

    وَإِذَا فَعَلُوا فَاحِشَةً قَالُوا وَجَدْنَا عَلَيْهَا آبَاءَنَا وَاللَّهُ أَمَرَنَا بِهَا ۗ قُلْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَأْمُرُ بِالْفَحْشَاءِ ۖ أَتَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ (28)

    7|28| Whenever they commit an indecency they claim, ‘Verily, we found our forefathers upon this. And (in fact), Allah has ordered us to do it.'43 Say, ‘Allah does not order any indecency.' Do you fasten such things upon Allah as which you have no knowledge of?'

    43. Ibn Jarir writes: Certain Arab tribes (but not the Quraysh) circumambulated the Ka`bah naked. When asked why they did that, they replied that thus they had found their forefathers doing, and that they had been ordered by Allah. Some women too circumambulated naked placing a patch of cloth on their shameful parts and singing out:

    Today some or all of it is exposed
    But I do not make lawful what goes exposed.

    Ibn Kathir writes: The rule prevalent among the pre Islamic Arabs was that they would not circumambulate the Ka`bah in the clothes they were wearing except the Quraysh, who called themselves "Hummas" and could circumambulate in their ordinary clothes. Others had to either put on a new pair of clothes, or borrow a used one from one of the Quraysh. But, if someone could not do either, then he or she circumambulated naked. However, in that event women circumambulated at night. Then, after the rituals they threw away the clothes and no one touched them (Ibn Kathir). Sayyid points out that there is a hadith to this effect in Muslim.

    قُلْ أَمَرَ رَبِّي بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَأَقِيمُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ عِنْدَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَادْعُوهُ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ ۚ كَمَا بَدَأَكُمْ تَعُودُونَ (29)

    7|29| | Say, ‘My Lord has ordered me justice.'44 And set your faces (toward Him)45 at every (time of) prostration; and call upon Him making the religion sincerely His;46 even as He began you, you shall return:47

    44. Mujahid and Suddi have said that the textual word "qist" alludes to "justice" (Ibn Jarir). But the opinion of Ibn `Abbas is that it alludes to the formula of faith, i.e., "There is no deity save Allah." He recited the verse (3: 18):


    شَهِدَ اللَّهُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَأُولُو الْعِلْمِ قَائِمًا بِالْقِسْطِ [آل عمران : 18]


    "Allah is witness that there is no god save He, and (so are) the angels and the men of learning upholding justice" (Razi).
    Mujahid, Suddi and most of the commentators have however said that the allusion is to justice and firm adherence to Islam (Alusi).
    45. The words in parenthesis are based on Ibn Jarir's understanding who quotes Rabi` of the same opinion (Au.).
    The meaning however is, be attentive within your Prayers, and do not let yourselves be distracted (Alusi). In the words of Asad: "The term wajh (lit. "face") occurring here is often used, in the abstract sense, to denote a person's entire being or entire attention as, for instance, in the phrase (3: 20) aslamtu wajhiya li'llahi, (meaning: "I have surrendered my whole being unto God").
    The above explains Asad's rendering of the phrase above as: "put your whole being into every act of worship."
    46. Thanwi writes: In just three little phrases the whole of the Shari`ah has been outlined: The rights of others in "justice," the acts of devotion and worship in "set your faces," and, purity of faith and beliefs in "make the religion sincerely His."
    47. The opinion of Ibn `Abbas is: As you were created as believers and unbelievers, so will you be raised: believers and unbelievers (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). The statement is in Ibn Abi Hatim (Shawkani).
    Ibn `Abbas also reports the Prophet (saws) as having said:


    يحشر الناس يوم القيامة عراة غرلا وأول الخلائق يكسى إبراهيم


    "Mankind will be resurrected naked, uncircumcised. The first of the creations to be dressed would be Ibrahim." Then he recited this verse (Ibn Jarir). The hadith is in the Sahihayn (Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Kathir quotes: Muhammad b. Ka`b al Qurazi is reported to have said in explanation of this verse that whosoever Allah created on wretchedness (shaqawah) will end up what he was created to be even if he did the deeds of the blessed ones (ahl al sa`adah). And whomsoever Allah created as the blessed one will end up as that, even if he committed the deeds of the wretched ones. A good example is that of Fir`awn’s court magicians who acted wretchedly all their lives but ended up as the blessed ones. A report attributes this opinion to Ibn `Abbas also; and can be substantiated with a hadith in Bukhari which says:


    فَوَاللَّهِ إِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ أَوْ الرَّجُلَ يَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ النَّارِ حَتَّى مَا يَكُونُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهَا غَيْرُ بَاعٍ أَوْ ذِرَاعٍ فَيَسْبِقُ عَلَيْهِ الْكِتَابُ فَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ فَيَدْخُلُهَا وَإِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ حَتَّى مَا يَكُونُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهَا غَيْرُ ذِرَاعٍ أَوْ ذِرَاعَيْنِ فَيَسْبِقُ عَلَيْهِ الْكِتَابُ فَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ النَّارِ فَيَدْخُلُهَا


    "By Him besides whom there is no God, one of you might do the deeds of the people of the Fire until there does not remain between him and the Fire but the distance of a span of hand. But then the decree overtakes him and he begins to do the deeds of the people of Paradise and he enters therein. And, one of you might do the deeds of the people of Paradise until there remains no more than a distance of a span of hand between him and the Paradise when the decree overtakes him and he begins to do the deeds of the people of the Fire and he enters into in."
    (For a proper understanding of the above hadith the words "in what appears to be" must be added in reference to the deeds committed , as in the following report: Au.).
    Baghawi has a hadith narrated by Sahl b. Sa`d. It says:

     

    إِنَّ الْعَبْدَ لَيَعْمَلُ فِيمَا يَرَى النَّاسُ عَمَلَ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ وَإِنَّهُ لَمِنْ أَهْلِ النَّارِ وَيَعْمَلُ فِيمَا يَرَى النَّاسُ عَمَلَ أَهْلِ النَّارِ وَهُوَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ وَإِنَّمَا الْأَعْمَالُ بِخَوَاتِيمِهَا


    "A man might do in what appears to the people the deeds of the people of Paradise, although he could be of the people of the Fire. And, another man might do in what appears to the people the deeds of the people of Fire, although he could be of the people of Paradise. Verily, deeds go by how things end."
    The above hadith is in Bukhari also (Au.).
    However, Ibn Kathir adds, if this interpretation is true then it needs to reconcile with Allah's words (30: 30):


    فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَتَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا [الروم : 30]


    "Then set your face to the religion, upright, the nature of Allah upon which He created the people."
    The interpretation also runs in contradiction with the hadith in the Sahihhayn which says:


    كُلُّ مَوْلُودٍ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ أَوْ يُنَصِّرَانِهِ أَوْ يُمَجِّسَانِهِ


    "Every new born is given birth on nature. Then, it is his parents who Judaize him or Christianize him, or Zoroastrize him." Another hadith in Muslim says:


    وَإِنِّي خَلَقْتُ عِبَادِي حُنَفَاءَ كُلَّهُمْ فَأَتَتْهُمُ الشَّيَاطِينُ فَاجْتَالَتْهُمْ عَنْ دِينِهِمْ


    "I created My slaves on monotheism (hunafa'). But Satan came to them and deviated them from their religion." After quoting these texts, Ibn Kathir attempts a reconciliation by saying that the original creation is indeed on Tawhid, as the Qur'anic verse and the ahadith quoted say, but perhaps the one about Divine Decree is talking about the second nature, or second phase of creation.
    None the less, the weakness in Ibn Kathir's reconciliation effort is apparent. Hence his qualification: "If this interpretation is true."
    Sayyid Qutb has another point, viz., as the affair began, so it will end. They began as two groups: Adam and his wife and Satan and his tribe. Those who will follow the Prophets will return to Paradise while those who follow the Satans will return to Hellfire: "Even as He began you, you shall return."

    فَرِيقًا هَدَىٰ وَفَرِيقًا حَقَّ عَلَيْهِمُ الضَّلَالَةُ ۗ إِنَّهُمُ اتَّخَذُوا الشَّيَاطِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَيَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ مُهْتَدُونَ (30)

    7|30| A group He guided, but a group deserved for themselves error. (Because) They took Satans as their patrons apart from Allah, and assume that they are rightly guided.

    يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِنْدَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا وَلَا تُسْرِفُوا ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ (31)

    7|31| Children of Adam! Take your adornment at every Prayer;48 and eat and drink but do not commit excesses.49 Surely, He does not approve of those who commit excesses.

    48. Qurtubi writes that in pre Islamic days the Arabs circumambulated the Ka`bah naked, would not eat anything fatty, and consumed as little as possible. Allah revealed this verse to remove the taboos.
    Sayyid quotes from Kalbi that when the Muslims circumambulated the Ka`bah with their clothes on, the pagans objected to the act and so Allah (swt) revealed this verse. Then he remarks: "This is what every pagandom, including the modern Western one, does to its people: bring them down to the level of animals and strip them of their clothes all in the name of culture and civilization."
    Muslim scholars on their part have, writes Ibn Kathir, pointed out, with this verse as the clue and in the light of the traditions of the Prophet on this subject, that one ought to put on nice clothes, use miswak and some perfume before every Prayer, but especially for the Friday and `Eid Prayers. Accordingly, it is reported of Tamim al Dari that he had purchased a mantle costing a 1000 coins that he would put on for every Prayer. And the best of colors in clothes is white as said in Sahih ahadith such as:


    عليكم بثياب البياض فالبسوها فإنها أطهر وأطيب وكفنوا فيها موتاكم


    "Use white clothes, for they are cleanest and neatest, and wrap your dead too therewith."
    49. "Israf" of the text could mean "wastage," "over indulgence," or "excesses." The Salaf have said that Allah has summarized the advice for good health in three (textual) words: "Eat and drink but do not commit excesses." The Prophet has said in a Hasan or Hasan Sahih report of Tirmidhi:


    مَا مَلأَ آدَمِيٌّ وِعَاءً شَرًّا مِنْ بَطْنٍ، حَسَبُ ابْنِ آدَمَ أُكُلاتٍ يُقِمْنَ صُلْبَهُ، فَإِنْ كَانَ لا مَحَالَةَ، فَثُلُثًا طَعَامًا، وَثُلُثًا شَرَابًا، وَثُلُثًا لِنَفْسِهِ


    "A man did not fill any vessel more evil than his stomach. It is enough for the son of man to eat a few mouthfuls that keep his back straight. But, if he has to perforce eat more, then, one third for food, one third for water and one third for breathing" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    The Prophet has also said:


    الْكَافِرُ يَأْكُلُ فِي سَبْعَةِ أَمْعَاءٍ ، وَالْمُؤْمِنُ يَأْكُلُ فِي مِعًى وَاحِدٍ


    "An unbeliever fills his seven intestines when he eats, while the Muslim fills only one."
    Qurtubi explains that although this is the general rule, there could be exceptions: a believer eating a lot and an unbeliever eating little.
    Other scholars have explained that the unbeliever is never satiated even if he ate a lot, while a believer is satiated with little (Au.).
    Shafi` remarks: There is nothing wrong then in eating, drinking and dressing well, so long as excesses are not committed. As for the Sufiya's personal renunciation, or enjoining their followers the same, that has been by way of training, not because they thought that such abstention was a necessary demand of the Shari`ah.

    قُلْ مَنْ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي أَخْرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِ وَالطَّيِّبَاتِ مِنَ الرِّزْقِ ۚ قُلْ هِيَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا خَالِصَةً يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ (32)

    7|32| Say, ‘Who has forbidden the ornaments of Allah's creation that He brought out for His slaves, and the good things of provision?'50 Say, ‘They are for the believers during the tenure of this world, (but) exclusively for them on the Day of Judgment.'51 Thus We expound Our revelations for a people who know.

    50. Ibn `Abbas and Qatadah have said that the verse has to be understood in the background of the Arabs declaring Bahirah, Saa'ibah, Haammah etc., as unlawful unto themselves. Allah revealed: "Say, ‘Who has declared unlawful .." (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Qurtubi writes: Muslim has preserved a report according to which when the Prophet said:


    « لاَ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ مَنْ كَانَ فِى قَلْبِهِ مِثْقَالُ ذَرَّةٍ مِنْ كِبْرٍ ». قَالَ رَجُلٌ إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ يُحِبُّ أَنْ يَكُونَ ثَوْبُهُ حَسَنًا وَنَعْلُهُ حَسَنَةً. قَالَ « إِنَّ اللَّهَ جَمِيلٌ يُحِبُّ الْجَمَالَ الْكِبْرُ بَطَرُ الْحَقِّ وَغَمْطُ النَّاسِ


    "Whoever had an atom of pride in his heart will not enter Paradise," someone asked, "A man wishes that his clothes and shoes be of good quality?!" The Prophet replied, "Verily, Allah is beautiful. He approves of the beautiful. Pride is to take a stand against the truth and look down upon the people."
    The Prophet (saws) himself used to travel with a comb, mirror, hair oil, miswak and kohl (antimony) in his outfit. However, Qurtubi adds, partaking of the good things in life is surely not of the "qurubat" those things that take one nearer to Allah. `Umar ibn al Khattab has been reported as saying, "We could have gone for the good gourmet, but the verse (46: 20): "You have already had your good things in the life of this world," restrained us. `Umar also wrote to his governors to avoid adopting the ways of the people of the conquered territories, rather, maintain a frugal life. Some scholars have said though that if they come one's way, without great effort on his part, then there is nothing wrong in partaking of the good things of life. The Prophet is not reported to have refused any food. He ate honey, sweets, water melon, and the sort, but did not go after them, did not get them prepared, and wasted no time on them. He said,


    مَنْ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عَلَيْهِ نِعْمَةً فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يُحِبُّ أَنْ يُرَى أَثَرُ نِعْمَتِهِ


    "When Allah bestows a favor upon His slave, He wishes to see its happy effects on him."
    Thus, that indulgence is frowned upon which takes time off preparations for the Hereafter.
    Ibn Jarir quotes Hasan (al Busri): "When Allah sent His chosen Messenger, he did not lock his door (to discourage anyone from seeing him), he did not appoint a guard for himself, who was not oppressive in the least, who sat on the ground, and ate food from that position, he licked his fingers, wore coarse cloth, rode a donkey, and accepted his slave as his pillion rider. He used to say, ‘Whoever spurned my Sunnah is not of me.' And now we have," continues Hasan, "people, most of whom have given up his Sunnah. They are the perverts who devour usury and other forbidden things, fools, befooled and hated by their Lord. They believe there is no harm in eating the best of food they can lay their hands on, beautifying their homes with expensive decorations and then claim that all that is in line with this verse: ‘Say, "Who has forbidden the ornaments of Allah's creation that He brought out for His slaves? And the good things of provision?"' "They do not realize," continues Hasan, that these things are for the friends of Satan" (slightly shortened).
    It should be obvious that Hasan’s criticism is directed at those who go after the good things of life in sin, disobedience and excesses (Au.).
    51. Ibn `Abbas, Dahhak, Hasan, Qatadah, Suddi and others have said that the ornaments of the world have been created for the believers in Allah which the unbelievers share with them in this world, but which will be denied to them in the Hereafter (Ibn Jarir).

    قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالْإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَنْ تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَنْ تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ (33)

    7|33| Say, ‘Verily, my Lord has only forbidden indecencies be they open or concealed sin, high handedness52 without justice, that you should associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down an authority, and that you should fasten upon Allah what you have no knowledge of.53

    52. The word "baghyu" of the original has the connotations of overdoing things, seizing upon what is not one's own, or crossing the bounds in corruption (Rashid Rida).
    Mufti Shafi` adds: The difference between ithm and baghyu is that the former involves the sinner alone and affects none but himself. In contrast, the effects and repercussions of the latter touch upon others' lives.
    53. Rashid Rida quotes Ibn al-Qayyim from Madarij al Salikin: It is one of the most serious crimes to fasten something upon Allah. In this verse Allah first said that He has forbidden all that is indecent be they open or concealed. Then He mentioned what happens to be more serious than that: sin and rebellion without cause. Then, in the third ascending order, He spoke of what is more serious than that: association with Allah that for which He has not sent down an authority. Finally, in the fourth step, Allah declared the most serious of all: that one should fasten upon Allah what one has no knowledge of. This fastening upon Allah then is the most serious of crimes committed by man, and the root of all innovations in religion. Indeed, the root of association and disbelief is in the attribution to Allah what He did not command.

    وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ أَجَلٌ ۖ فَإِذَا جَاءَ أَجَلُهُمْ لَا يَسْتَأْخِرُونَ سَاعَةً ۖ وَلَا يَسْتَقْدِمُونَ (34)

    7|34| And for every nation is an appointed term.54 Then, when its term arrives, they cannot remain behind for a moment nor can they hasten (it).55

    54. This interjection is to answer the doubt that if people commit such serious crimes as those in the previous verse, why are they not destroyed? Why does one see them flourishing? (Shafi`)
    55. Asad writes: "In Arabic usage, the term sa`ah (lit. "hour") signifies not merely the astronomical hour i.e., the twenty fourth part of a mean solar day but also "time" in an absolute sense, or any fraction of it, whether large or small. In the above context, it has been used in the sense of "a least fraction of time" or "a single moment."
    Rashid Rida discusses in detail how and when the term appointed for nations ends, and adds that he had asked his mentor, Sheikh Muhammad `Abduh asked the question: "How come the rule of the British, who commit all kinds of wrongs, excesses and injustice upon their colonies, manages not merely to survive, but also shows all signs of growth and development?" He answered that no established rule or system is changed without an alternative being available. No sooner will the Muslims offer a better system of rule, than the older will be discarded.

    يَا بَنِي آدَمَ إِمَّا يَأْتِيَنَّكُمْ رُسُلٌ مِنْكُمْ يَقُصُّونَ عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِي ۙ فَمَنِ اتَّقَىٰ وَأَصْلَحَ فَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ (35)

    7|35| Children of Adam!56 If there should come to you Messengers from among yourselves, narrating to you Our verses, then, whosoever feared and reformed himself, then, such, they shall have nothing to fear nor shall they grieve.

    56. Abu Yasar Sulami has said that Allah brought out the progeny of Adam in the Spiritual World and addressed them in words as in the verse in question: "Children of Adam. Whenever there come to you Messengers (raised) from among yourselves, narrating to you Our verses, then, whosoever feared, reformed himself, such, they shall have nothing to fear nor will they grieve." Then He addressed the (would be) Messengers and said (23: 51, 52):


    يَا أَيُّهَا الرُّسُلُ كُلُوا مِنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَاعْمَلُوا صَالِحًا إِنِّي بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ عَلِيمٌ (51) وَإِنَّ هَذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاتَّقُونِ [المؤمنون : 51 ، 52]


    "O Messengers! Eat of the good things and do righteous deeds. Verily, I am aware of what you do. And, this, your religion (of monotheism) is one religion. And I am your Lord, so fear Me (alone)" (Ibn Jarir).

    وَالَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَاسْتَكْبَرُوا عَنْهَا أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ (36)

    7|36| As for those who rejected Our revelations, and waxed proud against them, they are the companions of the Fire, abiding therein forever.

    فَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِبًا أَوْ كَذَّبَ بِآيَاتِهِ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ يَنَالُهُمْ نَصِيبُهُمْ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُنَا يَتَوَفَّوْنَهُمْ قَالُوا أَيْنَ مَا كُنْتُمْ تَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ ۖ قَالُوا ضَلُّوا عَنَّا وَشَهِدُوا عَلَىٰ أَنْفُسِهِمْ أَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا كَافِرِينَ (37)

    7|37| Who then can do greater wrong than he who fastened a lie upon Allah or gave the lie to His messages? They: a portion of the Book (of Decree) shall reach them,57 till, when Our messengers (of death) arrive withdrawing their souls, they ask, ‘Where are those you were calling upon besides Allah?' They reply, ‘They are lost from us.' They testified against themselves that they were unbelievers.

    57. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Abu Salih, Suddi, Hasan and others have said that the textual words "nasibun min al kitab" (a portion of the Book) allude either to what has been pre destined for the unbelievers by way of good or evil deeds, sustenance, the term of life, etc., or, alternatively, to what they have been promised (as punishment for evil deeds) Ibn Jarir.
    Ibn Kathir however quotes Ibn `Abbas as of opinion that the allusion by "a portion of the Book" is to the writing (in the Lawh al Mahfuz) that whoever did good would be rewarded therewith, and whoever did evil will be recompensed therewith. (In other words, he understood the word ‘kitab’ as the command written in the Preserved Tablet (Au.).

    قَالَ ادْخُلُوا فِي أُمَمٍ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ مِنَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنْسِ فِي النَّارِ ۖ كُلَّمَا دَخَلَتْ أُمَّةٌ لَعَنَتْ أُخْتَهَا ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا ادَّارَكُوا فِيهَا جَمِيعًا قَالَتْ أُخْرَاهُمْ لِأُولَاهُمْ رَبَّنَا هَٰؤُلَاءِ أَضَلُّونَا فَآتِهِمْ عَذَابًا ضِعْفًا مِنَ النَّارِ ۖ قَالَ لِكُلٍّ ضِعْفٌ وَلَٰكِنْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ (38)

    7|38| He will say, ‘Enter then, along with other nations that passed before you of the Jinn and men: into the Fire.' Whenever a nation enters therein, it curses its sister nation; till, when they have all successively arrived therein, the last of them will say about the first of them,58 ‘Our Lord. These are the ones who misled us. Therefore, assign to them double the punishment of Fire.' He will say, ‘For everyone is the double (punishment), but you realize not.'59

    58. The later ones would be late in arriving at Hell as against the earlier ones who would have arrived earlier because they would have been criminals of a more serious order to be condemned to the Fire earlier (Ibn Kathir).
    59. Yusuf Ali comments: "The earlier generations committed a double crime: (1) their own sin, (2) the bad example they set for those who followed. We are responsible not only for our own misdeeds, but for those also which our example and our teaching to our juniors may induce them to commit. But it does not lie in the mouth of the juniors to ask for a double punishment for seniors: the motive is not justice, but pure spite, which is itself a sin. Further, later generations have to answer for two things: (1) their own sins and (2) their failure to learn from the past, from the experiences of those who preceded them."

    وَقَالَتْ أُولَاهُمْ لِأُخْرَاهُمْ فَمَا كَانَ لَكُمْ عَلَيْنَا مِنْ فَضْلٍ فَذُوقُوا الْعَذَابَ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَكْسِبُونَ (39)

    7|39| The last of them will say to the first ones, ‘Then you do not enjoy any advantage over us.'60 ‘Taste then the punishment because of what you were earning.'61

    60. That is, ‘today we both share the same punishment, none enjoying an advantage over the other.' Nonetheless, another implication is that although ‘you acted superior to us in the previous life, though in truth you were not superior to us at all. Today, the equal treatment meted out to each of us is a proof of that' (Au.).
    61. The verse here presents the same scene as elsewhere in the Qur'an, with somewhat greater clarity (34: 31 33):


    وَلَوْ تَرَى إِذِ الظَّالِمُونَ مَوْقُوفُونَ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ يَرْجِعُ بَعْضُهُمْ إِلَى بَعْضٍ الْقَوْلَ يَقُولُ الَّذِينَ اسْتُضْعِفُوا لِلَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا لَوْلَا أَنْتُمْ لَكُنَّا مُؤْمِنِينَ (31) قَالَ الَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا لِلَّذِينَ اسْتُضْعِفُوا أَنَحْنُ صَدَدْنَاكُمْ عَنِ الْهُدَى بَعْدَ إِذْ جَاءَكُمْ بَلْ كُنْتُمْ مُجْرِمِينَ (32) وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ اسْتُضْعِفُوا لِلَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا بَلْ مَكْرُ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ إِذْ تَأْمُرُونَنَا أَنْ نَكْفُرَ بِاللَّهِ وَنَجْعَلَ لَهُ أَنْدَادًا [سبأ : 31 ، 33]


    "If you were to see the transgressors held before their Lord, some of them exchanging words (of abuse) with the others; the weak ones saying to the arrogant ones, ‘If not for you we would have been believers;' and those who had waxed proud replying to the weaker ones, ‘Did we prevent you from guidance when it reached you? Rather you were criminals yourselves;' the weak ones replying to the arrogant ones, ‘Rather, it was your machinations by day and night by which you ordered us that we disbelieve in Allah and that we suggest partners.'" (Ibn Kathir).

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَاسْتَكْبَرُوا عَنْهَا لَا تُفَتَّحُ لَهُمْ أَبْوَابُ السَّمَاءِ وَلَا يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ حَتَّىٰ يَلِجَ الْجَمَلُ فِي سَمِّ الْخِيَاطِ ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُجْرِمِينَ (40)

    7|40| Surely, those who rejected Our revelations and waxed proud against them, the gates of Heaven shall not be opened for them62 and they shall not enter Paradise until the camel63 passes through a needle's eye. That is how We recompense the criminals.

    62. Abu Hurayrah has reported the Prophet as having said:


    إِنَّ الْمَيِّتَ تَحْضُرُهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ فَإِذَا كَانَ الرَّجُلُ الصَّالِحُ قَالُوا اخْرُجِي أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الطَّيِّبَةُ كَانَتْ فِي الْجَسَدِ الطَّيِّبِ اخْرُجِي حَمِيدَةً وَأَبْشِرِي بِرَوْحٍ وَرَيْحَانٍ وَرَبٍّ غَيْرِ غَضْبَانَ قَالَ فَلَا يَزَالُ يُقَالُ ذَلِكَ حَتَّى تَخْرُجَ ثُمَّ يُعْرَجَ بِهَا إِلَى السَّمَاءِ فَيُسْتَفْتَحُ لَهَا فَيُقَالُ مَنْ هَذَا فَيُقَالُ فُلَانٌ فَيَقُولُونَ مَرْحَبًا بِالنَّفْسِ الطَّيِّبَةِ كَانَتْ فِي الْجَسَدِ الطَّيِّبِ ادْخُلِي حَمِيدَةً وَأَبْشِرِي بِرَوْحٍ وَرَيْحَانٍ وَرَبٍّ غَيْرِ غَضْبَانَ قَالَ فَلَا يَزَالُ يُقَالُ لَهَا حَتَّى يُنْتَهَى بِهَا إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الَّتِي فِيهَا اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَإِذَا كَانَ الرَّجُلُ السَّوْءُ قَالُوا اخْرُجِي أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْخَبِيثَةُ كَانَتْ فِي الْجَسَدِ الْخَبِيثِ اخْرُجِي ذَمِيمَةً وَأَبْشِرِي بِحَمِيمٍ وَغَسَّاقٍ وَآخَرَ مِنْ شَكْلِهِ أَزْوَاجٍ فَلَا يَزَالُ حَتَّى تَخْرُجَ ثُمَّ يُعْرَجَ بِهَا إِلَى السَّمَاءِ فَيُسْتَفْتَحُ لَهَا فَيُقَالُ مَنْ هَذَا فَيُقَالُ فُلَانٌ فَيُقَالُ لَا مَرْحَبًا بِالنَّفْسِ الْخَبِيثَةِ كَانَتْ فِي الْجَسَدِ الْخَبِيثِ ارْجِعِي ذَمِيمَةً فَإِنَّهُ لَا يُفْتَحُ لَكِ أَبْوَابُ السَّمَاءِ فَتُرْسَلُ مِنْ السَّمَاءِ ثُمَّ تَصِيرُ إِلَى الْقَبْرِ


    "When a man is about to die, angels appear before him. If he happens to be a righteous person they say, ‘Come out O clean soul. You were in a clean body. Come out praised. And for you be the glad tidings of fragrance and a Lord not angry with you.' With these words they take it to the heavens. When they knock (at the gates), it is asked, ‘Who is this?' They reply that it is so and so. The guards say, ‘Welcome to the clean soul. You were in a clean body. Come in praised. And for you be the glad tidings of fragrance and a Lord not angry with you.' That is how it is received until it arrives at the heavens where Allah is. But, if it is an evil person the angels of death say, ‘Come out you wicked soul. You were in an unclean body. Come out blameworthy. And receive the glad tidings of boiling water and puss; and other types of punishments.' They repeat these words until they reach the gates of the first heaven. The guards ask, ‘Who is it?' They say it is so and so. They respond, ‘Unwelcome! You are a wicked soul. You were in an unclean body. Go back, blameworthy. The gates of heaven shall not be opened for you.' It is returned to the grave" (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi). Imam Ahmad has preserved a longer version of this tradition. And shorter versions are in Nasa'i and Ibn Majah (Ibn Kathir).
    63. Some of the Salaf, such as Ibn `Abbas, Sa`id ibn Jubayr and Mujahid have read the textual word "jamal" as "jummal" meaning "a thick twisted rope," the kind used for anchoring boats or for climbing trees. According to Ibn `Abbas, this meets more with the requirement of rhetoric, since, normally camels do not pass through the needle's eye. However, Ibn Mas`ud, Hasan, Abu al `Aliyyah and Dahhak have said that the word is "jamal” i.e., camel – as it happens to be written in the Qur’an. In fact, that also happens to be a second opinion of Ibn `Abbas himself (Ibn Jarir).
    Incidentally, the same usage has been employed in the New Testament. See e.g., Matthew, 19: 24; Mark, 10: 25; and Luke 18: 25, but it is for the rich while the Qur'an has drawn the simile for those who associate with God. The words of Luke are: "For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God."

    لَهُمْ مِنْ جَهَنَّمَ مِهَادٌ وَمِنْ فَوْقِهِمْ غَوَاشٍ ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الظَّالِمِينَ (41)

    7|41| Jahannum shall be a cradle for them, and from above them covering (of fire). That is how We recompense the wrong doers.

    وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَا نُكَلِّفُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ (42)

    7|42| As for those who believed and did righteous deeds We do not charge a soul beyond its capacity64 they are the companions of Paradise, dwelling therein forever.

    64. This is a parenthetical remark brought in to stress that if some people did not believe, it was not because they were asked something beyond their capacity (Razi, Thanwi).

    وَنَزَعْنَا مَا فِي صُدُورِهِمْ مِنْ غِلٍّ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهِمُ الْأَنْهَارُ ۖ وَقَالُوا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي هَدَانَا لِهَٰذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لِنَهْتَدِيَ لَوْلَا أَنْ هَدَانَا اللَّهُ ۖ لَقَدْ جَاءَتْ رُسُلُ رَبِّنَا بِالْحَقِّ ۖ وَنُودُوا أَنْ تِلْكُمُ الْجَنَّةُ أُورِثْتُمُوهَا بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ (43)

    7|43| And We shall have removed from their hearts any hard feeling,65 rivers flowing from beneath them. They will say, ‘Praise to Allah for having guided us to this. We would have never found our way if we were not guided by Allah.66 Indeed, our Messengers brought the truth.' And (a voice) will call out to them,67 ‘This is the Paradise that you have been allowed to inherit68 by virtue of what you were doing.'69

    65. That is, any hard feeling that some of those in Paradise might have for others, would be removed before they enter Paradise so that none will bear grudge against any other. `Ali has been reported as saying that the allusion could also be to what happened between him, `Uthman, Talha and Zubayr. According to another version from him, the allusion is to those who participated in the battle of Badr. And, Suddi and Abu Nadrah have said that when the believers are allowed entry into Paradise, they will find a tree right at the entrance. Two founts would be springing forth from its roots. They will drink from one of them. It will remove any hard feeling they would have had for any other in their breasts. Then they will bathe in the waters of the second spring and that will cleanse them physically, never to be dirty again (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). The report is in Ibn Abi Hatim also (Alusi).
    And a hadith in Bukhari says:


    يَخْلُصُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مِنْ النَّارِ فَيُحْبَسُونَ عَلَى قَنْطَرَةٍ بَيْنَ الْجَنَّةِ وَالنَّارِ فَيُقْتَصُّ لِبَعْضِهِمْ مِنْ بَعْضٍ مَظَالِمُ كَانَتْ بَيْنَهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَتَّى إِذَا هُذِّبُوا وَنُقُّوا أُذِنَ لَهُمْ فِي دُخُولِ الْجَنَّةِ


    "When the believers would have escaped the Fire, they would be held up on a bridge between Heaven and Hell. There they would settle their accounts with each other for the wrongs they would have done to each other in the life of this world. It is only after they have thus been cleansed and purified that they would be allowed to enter Paradise" (Ibn Kathir).
    Zamakhshari and Imam Razi point out that the allusion could also be to the lack of any envy in the hearts of inhabitants of Paradise living at various levels thereof, entirely in contrast to those in various levels of the Fire who will be cursing each other.
    Yusuf Ali adds: "A man who may have suffered or been disappointed may have a lurking sense of injury at the back of his mind, which may spoil his enjoyment on account of past memory intruding in the midst of felicity. In such cases memory itself is pain. Even sorrow is intensified by memory."
    66. A report has come to the effect that `Ali reported `Umar as saying: When the people will arrive at the gates of Paradise they will find therein a tree from whose roots two springs would be sprouting. They will take a bath in one of them. With that they will feel enwrapped in blessings. After that their hair will never get unruffled again, and their faces never dusty again. Then they will drink from the other spring. That will remove any dirt or impurity they had within them. Then the gates of Paradise will be opened for them and it will be said (39: 73): "Peace upon you. You have done well. So enter herein, to abide forever." (As soon as they enter), the first thing, they would be greeted by children. They will surround them as children surround a dear one when he returns home from a journey. The children will leap back to their spouses and announce to them about their arrival. They will give them their full name and identity tracing their fathers and grandfathers. The women will ask: "Did you see him yourself?" They will be in great joy. The women will hurry up to the doors and wait there for them to arrive. As they enter they will find their abodes built of pearls and jewels of all kinds and colors: raised couches, ranged cups, lined up cushions and spread out carpets. They will hug their spouses and relax on the couches. It is then that they will utter these words: "Praise be to Allah for having guided us to this. We would have never found our way if we were not guided by Allah. Indeed, our Messengers brought the truth" (Ibn Jarir).
    67. A hadith (in Muslim: Shawkani) says:


    يُنَادِى مُنَادٍ إِنَّ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَصِحُّوا فَلاَ تَسْقَمُوا أَبَدًا وَإِنَّ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَحْيَوْا فَلاَ تَمُوتُوا أَبَدًا وَإِنَّ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَشِبُّوا فَلاَ تَهْرَمُوا أَبَدًا وَإِنَّ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَنْعَمُوا فَلاَ تَبْتَئِسُوا أَبَدًا


    "A caller will call out in Paradise, ‘Be of good health never to be sick again, be alive never to die again, be young never to be old again, be in blessings never to be in despair again'" (Ibn Jarir).
    68. That is, your belief in Prophets, and your good deeds led you to this Paradise (Ibn Jarir). Ibn Kathir adds: That is, your good deeds invoked the mercy by which you entered Paradise since a hadith of the Sahihhayn says,


    صحيح البخاري ت - (14 / 287)
    لَنْ يُدْخِلَ أَحَدًا عَمَلُهُ الْجَنَّةَ قَالُوا وَلَا أَنْتَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ لَا وَلَا أَنَا إِلَّا أَنْ يَتَغَمَّدَنِي اللَّهُ بِفَضْلٍ وَرَحْمَةٍ


    "No one will ever enter Paradise on the strength of his deeds." The Companions asked, "Not even you O Messenger of Allah?" He replied, "No. Not even me, unless Allah covers me with His mercy and grace." So, the entry depends upon Allah's mercy. But, it is good deeds that invoke His mercy.
    69. Suddi has said that there will be no one in Hellfire who would not be shown his place in Paradise, which he would have obtained if he had been of the righteous. Then his place will be given away to the believers. This is the inheritance the verse is talking about (Ibn Jarir). There is a hadith too in Muslim which saysm


    لاَ يَمُوتُ رَجُلٌ مُسْلِمٌ إِلاَّ أَدْخَلَ اللَّهُ مَكَانَهُ النَّارَ يَهُودِيًّا أَوْ نَصْرَانِيًّا


    “N no Muslim dies but Allah admits into Hell fire in his place either a Jew or a Christian (Qurtubi).
    The hadith of Muslim is numbered 4969 under Kitab al Tawbah (Au.).

    وَنَادَىٰ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ أَصْحَابَ النَّارِ أَنْ قَدْ وَجَدْنَا مَا وَعَدَنَا رَبُّنَا حَقًّا فَهَلْ وَجَدْتُمْ مَا وَعَدَ رَبُّكُمْ حَقًّا ۖ قَالُوا نَعَمْ ۚ فَأَذَّنَ مُؤَذِّنٌ بَيْنَهُمْ أَنْ لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ عَلَى الظَّالِمِينَ (44)

    7|44| And the people of Paradise will call out to the people of the Fire, ‘We have found what our Lord promised us to be true. Have you also found what your Lord promised to be true?'70 They will reply, ‘Yes;' whereupon a herald from their midst will proclaim, ‘Allah's curse be upon the wrong doers.

    70. This is how the Prophet addressed the corpses of the Quraysh at Badr when they had been dumped into a heap in a pit. He asked them,


    « يَا أَبَا جَهْلِ بْنَ هِشَامٍ يَا أُمَيَّةَ بْنَ خَلَفٍ يَا عُتْبَةَ بْنَ رَبِيعَةَ يَا شَيْبَةَ بْنَ رَبِيعَةَ أَلَيْسَ قَدْ وَجَدْتُمْ مَا وَعَدَ رَبُّكُمْ حَقًّا فَإِنِّى قَدْ وَجَدْتُ مَا وَعَدَنِى رَبِّى حَقًّا ». فَسَمِعَ عُمَرُ قَوْلَ النَّبِىِّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ كَيْفَ يَسْمَعُوا وَأَنَّى يُجِيبُوا وَقَدْ جَيَّفُوا قَالَ « وَالَّذِى نَفْسِى بِيَدِهِ مَا أَنْتُمْ بِأَسْمَعَ لِمَا أَقُولُ مِنْهُمْ وَلَكِنَّهُمْ لاَ يَقْدِرُونَ أَنْ يُجِيبُوا »


    "O Abu Jahl b. Hisham, O Umayyah b. Khalf, O `Utbah ibn Rabi`ah, and O Shaybah b. Rabi`ah, have you found true the promises of your Lord made to you? I have found true the promises my Lord made to me." `Umar heard him and asked, "Messenger of Allah, how can they hear and how will they answer when they have become corpses?" He replied, "By Him in whose Hands is my life, they hear better than you to what I am saying but are unable to answer" (Ibn Kathir).

    الَّذِينَ يَصُدُّونَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَيَبْغُونَهَا عِوَجًا وَهُمْ بِالْآخِرَةِ كَافِرُونَ (45)

    7|45| Those who hinder the people from the Way of Allah, and seek to make it crooked, and (in addition), they are disbelievers in the Hereafter.'

    وَبَيْنَهُمَا حِجَابٌ ۚ وَعَلَى الْأَعْرَافِ رِجَالٌ يَعْرِفُونَ كُلًّا بِسِيمَاهُمْ ۚ وَنَادَوْا أَصْحَابَ الْجَنَّةِ أَنْ سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ لَمْ يَدْخُلُوهَا وَهُمْ يَطْمَعُونَ (46)

    7|46| And between the two will be a partition.71 And, (yonder over) there on the Heights72 will be a people73 who will know each by their mark.74 They will call out to the companions of Paradise, ‘Peace be upon you' they will not have entered it yet, although very eager.75

    71. Mujahid and Suddi have interpreted the "hijab" of the text as a partition or a wall between Paradise and Hell (Ibn Jarir).
    72. Ibn `Abbas has said that A`raf is any tall construction or an elevated place. Hence a cock's crown (which is called `Urf). Here, the reference is to a high wall (obviously, wide enough: Au.) between Heaven and Hell (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi). According to another report he said that A`raf is the plural of "tull" (pronounced in the same way as "dull") which is for sand dunes (Ibn Kathir).
    Shafi` adds: Tafsir Maz hari states that this would be the end piece of the Bridge (Sirat). Suyuti is also inclined to this opinion.
    But the above is not substantiated with a hadith or a statement of the Salaf (Au.).
    73. Hudhayfah (b. al Yaman), Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah and Dahhak have said that these are a people whose good and evil deeds weigh equal: deserving neither Paradise nor Hellfire. They would be retained on the high wall for some time but will ultimately enter Paradise by Allah's grace (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). There are several other opinions about the identity of those on the Heights, there being no less than a dozen, such as, angels, Prophets and Messengers, chosen men of Allah, etc. But the above opinion is the most widely accepted one (Qurtubi).
    That they could be those who, in the words of Hasan and Zajjaj, are "possessors [or men] of knowledge," is possible. But Asad's extension of that meaning as "those who in their lifetime were able to discern between right and wrong .. but did not definitely incline to either: in brief, the indifferent ones," expresses an opinion that is not found anywhere in the commentary books, nor has Razi adopted it (Au.).
    74. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and others have said that from those heights they would be able to perceive everyone and know from their faces those of Heaven and those of Hell (Ibn Jarir).
    75. That is, the people at the heights would not have entered Paradise, although hoping that they would, by Allah's grace (Ibn Jarir).

    وَإِذَا صُرِفَتْ أَبْصَارُهُمْ تِلْقَاءَ أَصْحَابِ النَّارِ قَالُوا رَبَّنَا لَا تَجْعَلْنَا مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ (47)

    7|47| When their eyes are turned toward the inmates of the Fire they will say, ‘Our Lord! Do not place us among a wrong doing people.'

    وَنَادَىٰ أَصْحَابُ الْأَعْرَافِ رِجَالًا يَعْرِفُونَهُمْ بِسِيمَاهُمْ قَالُوا مَا أَغْنَىٰ عَنْكُمْ جَمْعُكُمْ وَمَا كُنْتُمْ تَسْتَكْبِرُونَ (48)

    7|48| And the people of the Heights will call out to those (in the Fire) they know by their marks, ‘Your numbers76 availed you nothing, nor your proud attitude.'77

    76. Another possible rendering of "jam`" is wealth and richness.
    77. Ibn `Abbas and Suddi have said that as the people on the Heights recognize some of the coxcomb unbelievers and important men in the Fire, they would address them in these words (Ibn Jarir).

    أَهَٰؤُلَاءِ الَّذِينَ أَقْسَمْتُمْ لَا يَنَالُهُمُ اللَّهُ بِرَحْمَةٍ ۚ ادْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْكُمْ وَلَا أَنْتُمْ تَحْزَنُونَ (49)

    7|49| ‘Are these (of the Heights) the ones about whom you swore that Allah’s mercy will not reach them?' (They will be told), ‘You may enter Paradise. There is no fear upon you nor should you grieve.'78

    78. Ibn `Abbas has explained that Allah will address the haughty ones and ask them about the people of the Heights: "Are these the ones about whom you swore that Allah will not show them His mercy?'" Then He will turn to the people on the Heights and say: "You may enter Paradise. There is no fear upon you nor should you grieve" (Ibn Jarir). But some commentators have thought that these are the words of the people of the Heights (Au.).

    وَنَادَىٰ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ أَصْحَابَ الْجَنَّةِ أَنْ أَفِيضُوا عَلَيْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ أَوْ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ ۚ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ حَرَّمَهُمَا عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ (50)

    7|50| The inmates of Fire will plead to the companions of Paradise, ‘Throw (down) upon us some water, or some of what Allah has provided you.' They will reply, ‘Allah has forbidden both to the unbelievers,'79

    79. "The trialogue between the people of Paradise, the people of the Fire, and the people of the Heights gives some indication of the tremendous range of human faculties in the Next World. These faculties would increase to such an extent that the people of the Paradise, the people of the Fire and the people of the Heights will be able to see, hear and talk to one another. Other Qur'anic statements about the Hereafter enable us to realize that the laws operating in the Next World will be altogether different from those in the present. Notwithstanding this, men's personalities will not undergo any such change" (Mawdudi).

    الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا دِينَهُمْ لَهْوًا وَلَعِبًا وَغَرَّتْهُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا ۚ فَالْيَوْمَ نَنْسَاهُمْ كَمَا نَسُوا لِقَاءَ يَوْمِهِمْ هَٰذَا وَمَا كَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا يَجْحَدُونَ (51)

    7|51| 80 those who treated their religion as sport and pastime, and the life of this world deceived them.’ (Allah will say) ‘Today We shall forget them as they forgot the encounter of this their Day, and, as they were wont to argue against Our revelations.'

    80. What follow are Allah's words.

    وَلَقَدْ جِئْنَاهُمْ بِكِتَابٍ فَصَّلْنَاهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ هُدًى وَرَحْمَةً لِقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ (52)

    7|52| We have brought them a Book which We have expounded with knowledge: a (source of) guidance and mercy unto a people that believe.

    هَلْ يَنْظُرُونَ إِلَّا تَأْوِيلَهُ ۚ يَوْمَ يَأْتِي تَأْوِيلُهُ يَقُولُ الَّذِينَ نَسُوهُ مِنْ قَبْلُ قَدْ جَاءَتْ رُسُلُ رَبِّنَا بِالْحَقِّ فَهَلْ لَنَا مِنْ شُفَعَاءَ فَيَشْفَعُوا لَنَا أَوْ نُرَدُّ فَنَعْمَلَ غَيْرَ الَّذِي كُنَّا نَعْمَلُ ۚ قَدْ خَسِرُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ وَضَلَّ عَنْهُمْ مَا كَانُوا يَفْتَرُونَ (53)

    7|53| Are they waiting but for its fulfillment? (But) the day its fulfillment comes, those who had discarded it earlier to oblivion will say, ‘Surely, messengers of our Lord brought the truth. Have we then any intercessors to intercede for us? Or, can we be returned so that we can do differently from what we were doing?' Surely, they squandered their own souls and lost unto them were all that they were forging.

    إِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ يُغْشِي اللَّيْلَ النَّهَارَ يَطْلُبُهُ حَثِيثًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ وَالنُّجُومَ مُسَخَّرَاتٍ بِأَمْرِهِ ۗ أَلَا لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَالْأَمْرُ ۗ تَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ (54)

    7|54| Surely, your Lord is Allah who created the heavens and the earth in six eons.81 Then He assumed istawa' over the `Arsh.82 He throws the veil of night over the day, seeking it in swift pursuit;83 and the sun, the moon, the stars rendered subservient by His command. Lo! His are the creation and the command.84 Hallowed is Allah, the Lord of the worlds.85

    81. Ibn Kathir once again quotes a hadith here from Muslim about the creation of the heavens and the earth in six periods with man's creation taking place in the last hours of the seventh day. The hadith is as follows: Abu Hurayrah (ra) says,


    خَلَقَ اللَّهُ التُّرْبَةَ يَوْمَ السَّبْتِ وَخَلَقَ فِيهَا الْجِبَالَ يَوْمَ الأَحَدِ وَخَلَقَ الشَّجَرَ يَوْمَ الاِثْنَينِ وَخَلَقَ الْمَكْرُوهَ يَوْمَ الثَّلاَثَاءِ وَخَلَقَ النُّورَ يَوْمَ الأَرْبَعَاءِ وَبَثَّ فِيهَا الدَّوَابَّ يَوْمَ الْخَمِيسِ وَخَلَقَ آدَمَ بَعْدَ الْعَصْرِ مِنْ يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ آخِرَ الْخَلْقِ فِى آخِرِ سَاعَةٍ مِنْ سَاعَاتِ الْجُمُعَةِ فِيمَا بَيْنَ الْعَصْرِ إِلَى اللَّيْلِ


    "Allah created the dust on Saturday. He created the mountains in it on Sunday. He created the trees in it on Monday. He created the makruh on Tuesday. He created "Nur" (according to another version, "Nun": Nawawi) on Wednesday. He created the beasts on Thursday. And He created Adam in the afternoon of Friday, as the last creation, in the last hours of Friday between late afternoon hours and nightfall.'"
    Apparently, the hadith has led some to misunderstandings. Ibn Kathir, and following him Rashid Rida, have expressed misgivings about the authenticity of this hadith since it speaks of the creation in seven days whereas the Qur'an has stated that Allah created the world in six days. Both missed to see that the hadith starts with the creation of the universe, but subsequently switches on to the phases through which the earth has passed in its formation. It is not speaking of the phases through which the universe has passed.
    As for the word "yawm" rendered eons by us here, it is generally agreed that it alludes to periods. For example, ayyam al harb, (lit. war days but actually ‘years of war’), ayyam al khayr wa barakah (days of plenty) etc., are common usage in the Arabic language. In fact, in English too, it is common to hear ‘good old day,’ etc. The above hadith also removes any doubt that might linger about the meaning of the term "yawm" as used in the Qur'an in reference to creation. The hadith says that man was created in the last hours of Friday, between late afternoon and the nightfall. Obviously, the Prophet was aware that man has been here on the earth for thousands of years. When he said, "between late afternoon and the nightfall" he gave the indication that he was not speaking of 24 hour cycles. See al An`am, note 4, for a fuller discussion of this hadith.
    Qurtubi adds Qushayri's remark that the allusion could not be to the 24 hour day since, after all, there was no earth and no sun before the creation of the heavens and the earth. Rather, it is the days of the pre creation phase that are meant (Au.).
    Asad writes: "The word yawm, commonly translated as "day" ... is used in Arabic to denote any period, whether extremely long ("eon") or extremely short ("moment"): its application to the earthly "day" of twenty four hours in only one of its many connotations."
    There are verses in the Qur'an also which support the generally held view that it is not the 24 hour cycle which is meant. E.g.,


    وَإِنَّ يَوْمًا عِنْدَ رَبِّكَ كَأَلْفِ سَنَةٍ مِمَّا تَعُدُّونَ [الحج : 47]


    "Verily, a day in the sight of your Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning" (22: 47).
    And,


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


    "The angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him on a day the measure of which is fifty thousand years" (70: 4) Au.
    A doubt has been raised. Why did Allah take six days (eons or periods) to create when He is capable of creation in an instant? This can be answered in several ways. But the most appealing is that Allah's power of creation is better expressed in gradualness. If it was done in one go, chance would have been ascribed as a factor playing its role. But when things come into being gradually, systematically, in steps, then there is no denying a Creator and His Power behind them (Alusi).
    82. The word `Arsh, literally throne, immediately suggests two connotations with reference to a place: (a) that which is elevated and (b) that from where commands are issued (Thanwi).
    Thus, in his characteristic brevity coupled with accuracy, Thanwi has managed to state the sum and substance of a verse that has intrigued many and has been the subject of heated discussions down through the ages: Allah is high above everything, high above all imagination; and He is the One Who issues the command none else.
    Yet, in the face of a tendency by the people to seek a literal meaning, it is safer to assert that the opinion of the Salaf to the effect that this is one of the mutashabihat of the Qur'an. It has to be understood exactly as found: without any further explanation, without committing anthropomorphism, without assigning Allah a form and without stripping Him of His Qualities. That is how the great majority of the pious predecessors expressed themselves. That is, whatever else that they understood, they safely kept to themselves. Majid's piquant remark should wake up many of the so called puritanical beliefs: "It is not as the vulgars hold, the seat or throne of God" (Au.).
    Asad comments: "It is noteworthy that in all the seven instances where God is spoken of in the Qur'an [as istawa' ala al `Arsh: Au.] (7: 54, 10: 3, 13: 2, 20: 5, 25: 59, 32: 4, and 57: 4), this expression is connected with a declaration of His having created the universe."
    And, to the above, we might add that the root meaning of the term "istawa'" is to turn attention to. The Qur'an has used it in this sense in several places, such as (2: 29):


    هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مَا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى إِلَى السَّمَاءِ فَسَوَّاهُنَّ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ [البقرة : 29]


    "He it is who created for you all that is in the earth, then He turned to the heavens and levelled them into seven firmaments " (Au.).
    Qurtubi writes: There are no less than twelve opinions concerning the words "istawa `ala al `Arsh" which ‘we have discussed in detail in another work of ours, "Al Kitab al Asna fi Sharh Asma' 'l Husna wa Sifatihi al `Ula."' Hasan has said that by the term `Arsh the allusion is to dominion and authority. That is, Allah assumed authority over the creation after the act of creation. (Shabbir Uthmani almost endorses this in pointing out that since Allah does not share any of His Qualities with His creation in the absolute sense, any meaning attributed to istawa' would be illegal). Literally speaking though, one of the connotations of the word `Arsh is dominion and authority: they say, ‘So and so lost his `Arsh,' meaning he lost his kingdom and authority.
    The reader is recommended at this point to see Imam Ghazali's cautionary note as quoted in the Preparatory, of this work.
    Alusi writes: Qaffal has also been of the opinion that it is the authority and dominion that is meant. And Bayhaqi has reported Abu al Hasan Al Ash`ari [the founder of Ash`arism, to whose opinions most of the Ahl al Sunnah refer when discussing details of their doctrines: Au.] was of the opinion that Allah dealt with `Arsh in a manner it could be called "istawa'" just as He dealt with so many other creations in certain ways, calling those acts "nourishing," "providing," etc.
    Rashid Rida comments: (The famous lexicon "Misbah") says that one would say "istawa' `ala al sarir al mulk" (literally, "he settled upon the throne of his kingdom) meaning he assumed authority over his kingdom, even if the man never settled on the throne once.
    Qurtubi also writes: Nevertheless, the great majority of the scholars have refused to interpret the words in any other way except what they apparently say: without addition, deletion, or qualification. (This is the opinion of the great majority of the Sufiya as well: Alusi). The pious predecessors have neither said that Allah is in a specific direction, nor have denied He being in any particular direction. (Ibn Abi al `Izz has said in his commentary on `Aqidah al Tahawiyyah that what does not exist in any direction, enjoys no existence: Au.). None of the pious predecessors have said that Allah is settled on the `Arsh. Imam Malik and Umm Salamah have said: "istawa' is known that is linguistically but the ‘how' of it is unknown, belief in it is a religious requirement, and seeking further details is innovation." Hence our rendering: "He assumed istawa' on the `Arsh."
    As for other details of the `Arsh, little else is known about it beyond that it is the earliest of Allah's creation, created even before the Pen, carried by angels and that it has qawa'im (posts) Au.
    83. That is, the night seeks the day in swift pursuit.
    We do not know the source of Razi's statement issued in the 6th century A.H., but it is certainly curious. He wrote to the effect that by the time a man raises his foot and puts it down, the upper heaven would have moved by 5000 miles. Modern information is that the earth rotates on its axis at the speed of 1000 km an hour, goes around the sun at the speed of a 100,000 km an hour, while the sun itself goes around the axis of the Milky Way galaxy at the speed of 800,000 km an hour; and the universe itself is expanding almost at the speed of light. So, even if the statement that the cosmos would have moved 5000 miles by the time a man moves a foot may not be accurate, it remains scientific.
    Imam Razi also states that some ignorant people have objected to the preponderance of statements concerning cosmology and astronomy in his commentary. He replies that, (i) Allah's Book is replete with evidences drawn from celestial bodies and phenomenon, (ii) He has ordered us to think over the creation of the heavens and the earth saying (50: 6),


    أَفَلَمْ يَنْظُرُوا إِلَى السَّمَاءِ فَوْقَهُمْ كَيْفَ بَنَيْنَاهَا وَزَيَّنَّاهَا وَمَا لَهَا مِنْ فُرُوجٍ [ق : 6]


    "Have they not seen the heaven above them how We built it, adorned it, and that it has no void in it" (in modern terms: it is homogenous: Au.), (iii) Allah also said (40: 57):


    لَخَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ أَكْبَرُ مِنْ خَلْقِ النَّاسِ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ [غافر : 57]


    "Surely the creation of the heavens and the earth is a greater feat than the creation of mankind, but most people know not," and, (iv) Allah praised those who ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth. He said (3: 191):


    الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَى جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذَا بَاطِلًا [آل عمران : 191]


    "They ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth, (concluding), Our Lord, You did not create them in vain."
    84. Ibn Jarir reports a hadith. The Prophet said:


    من لم يحمد الله على ما عمل من عمل صالح وحمد نفسه فقد كفر وحبط عمله ومن زعم أن الله جعل للعباد من الأمر شيئاً فقد كفر بما أنزل الله على أنبيائه" لقوله: أَلا لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَالْأَمْرُ


    "Whoever did not thank Allah for whatever good deed he performed, rather, took the credit for it himself, committed disbelief, and will have his deeds wasted. And, whoever thought that any of the creation has any say in the affairs, committed disbelief. For Allah said: ‘Lo! His are the creation and the command.'"
    The above hadith, which Ibn Jarir declares trustworthy, as does Ibn Kathir, is not found in popular Hadith collections (Au.).
    Qurtubi states that this verse proves that the Qur'an is an uncreated word of Allah. For, it consists of commands (amr) and prohibitions (nahyu). These are of the same nature as the command (amr) in the verse under discussion. If we suppose that the Qur'an is created, then it would mean that "amr" is a created entity. Now, if it is supposed that "amr" is a created entity, then, it would require another "amr" to create that "amr," leading us into a vicious circle. This demonstrates that the "amr," viz., Allah's Speech, is an uncreated, eternal Word of Allah (with the Speech itself defined as one of the Attributes of Allah, inseparable from Him: Au.). Consequently, Sufyan b. `Uyaynah said that ‘Allah spoke of the "creation" and the "command" in this verse separately. Whoever thought they are one and the same, committed unbelief’ (Qurtubi, Alusi).
    85. The textual word for what has been rendered as "hallowed" is "tabaraka." "Barakah" has two aspects of meaning. Firstly, that of continuance and stability. Secondly, that of abundance of good effects. Now, if the first aspect is considered, it would mean Allah is eternal and subsisting. If the second connotation is kept in mind then it would mean Allah possesses copious amounts of all good and beneficial things and qualities (Alusi). Manar has the same thing to say in fewer words.

    ادْعُوا رَبَّكُمْ تَضَرُّعًا وَخُفْيَةً ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ (55)

    7|55| Call on your Lord86 humbly and in secret.87 Verily, He does not approve of the transgressor.88

    86. Calling upon Allah and addressing Him in supplications is indicative of the suppliant's admission that he is in need of bestowals, that he himself is powerless, and that all power belongs to Allah alone. A man will not apply to Allah unless he knew that Allah hears supplications and that He has the power to respond. This recognition is the essence of faith and hence a hadith which says that supplication is the best kind of worship (Alusi, slightly re worded).
    In contrast, Majid writes, "The Hindus believe that mantras, or magic formulae, if enchanted punctiliously by a Brahmin, ‘will constrain the gods to gratify the worshipper's wishes' (EBr. III, p. 1012)."
    87. Ibn Jarir and Zamakhshari explain the "khufyah" of the text as: "sincerity, concentration and secret devotion." They quote Hasan as saying: "There were people who memorized the Qur'an but their neighbor's did not know about it. There were people who gained great knowledge but others did not know them as scholars. There were people who stood for Prayers for a great part of the night but their guests never came to know about it. We have had the chance to know people who, if they had the power to do something secretly, would not do it openly. Earlier Muslims used to supplicate in total devotion but no one heard their voices: it used to be a secret whisper between them and their Lord. That is because Allah said: ‘Call upon your Lord in humility and in secret (devotion).'" And He said about Zakariyyah (19: 3): "When he called upon his Lord in secret" (Qurtubi).
    It is reported that during one of the campaigns the Companions of the Prophet did not ascend a hill nor descend it but glorified Allah loudly. The Prophet told them:


    يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ ارْبَعُوا عَلَى أَنْفُسِكُمْ ، إِنَّكُمْ لاَ تَدْعُونَ أَصَمَّ وَلاَ غَائِبًا ، إِنَّمَا تَدْعُونَ سَمِيعًا قَرِيبًا وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ


    "People. Take it easy upon yourselves. You are not addressing someone deaf or who is away. You are calling upon One who is All hearing, close to you; and He is with you" (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    The hadith is in the Sahihhayn. And Ibn Jurayj has said that raising the voice in supplication is a disapproved act (Ibn Kathir).
    Ahmad, the annotator of Kashshaf's commentary, has the following to say: "These days you will notice people shouting and shrieking in their supplications especially in the Friday mosques. The suppliant pierces your ears with his loud voice without realizing that he is committing two innovations: first, raising his voice in supplications, and second, raising voice inside a mosque. You will also notice that these supplications move the people in a manner that sober supplications do not. But such softening is not from the heart. It is the kind which affects women and children. Had the supplications truly touched their hearts, they would react in the same way even if the supplications were not pronounced so loudly."
    The above is a complete picture of the noisy and long supplications after Tarawih Prayers conducted all over the Gulf and now gradually spreading into the rest of the Islamic world. Some 30 years ago it was never this long, nor this noisy (Au.).
    On the basis of this verse (apart from other evidences) Imam Abu Hanifah has ruled that saying "Amin" loudly is not preferable since it is a word of supplication (Razi, Qurtubi).
    Mufti Shafi` Deobandi criticizes the ways of the Imams in the Indian sub continent who have made it a habit of saying supplications loudly after each of the five daily Prayers. They indulge in a "ceremonial ritual" called "du`a" which, apart from being a non Sunnah, disturbs the late comers trying to complete their Prayers. Were they to do that once in a while, as a way to teach the congregation the method and manner of supplication, there would be no harm. As for the common people, since they do not know the meaning of the words of supplications, their act can best be described as merely "reading out" the words of supplication, rather than seeking Allah's favors.
    Qurtubi adds the following: Some people have said that the hands may not be raised in supplication. It is enough to raise a finger. They said so perhaps because several reports originating from the Prophet did not reach them. The majority of Companions and their Followers have declared it lawful. Bukhari has a report narrated by Abu Musa al Ash`ariyy to the effect that the Prophet raised his hands in supplications until the whiteness of his arm pits became visible. Ibn `Umar has reported that when Khalid ibn al Walid committed the error of killing an unknown Muslim the Prophet raised his hands and supplicated in words: "O Lord. I am quit of what Khalid has done." This report is also in Bukhari. Ibn Majah has reported the Prophet as having said in effect that Allah feels shy to disappoint a man who raises his hands to Him in supplication. Another well reported incident is that of Badr. When faced with superior man power and arms, the Prophet raised his hands and supplicated facing the Qiblah. However, facing the Qiblah is not a necessary requirement. The Prophet supplicated during Friday sermons with his back to the Qiblah. Further, Tirmidhi has reported in a hadith evaluated Sahih Gharib that the Prophet did not raise his hands during supplication but rubbed his face with them before bringing them down. Finally, one should avoid rhymes and meters of poetical kind, or punning of the words, etc., rather, use hadith words in supplications.
    Some other supplication etiquettes are: To be in a state of ablution, vacuity of the heart from other than Allah, beginning and ending with the formula of peace to the Prophet, inclusion of the common Muslims, sincerity, and being vigilant of the right hour for supplications (Alusi).
    Also see note 379 of surah al Baqarah of this work.
    As regards raising of the hands during supplications, there are a few other reports in Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi while a report in Abu Da'ud adds that the Prophet rubbed his face with his hands after the supplications. This last report is, according to the author of Tuhfah, of Hasan status (Au.).
    88. Such as one who aspires to achieve the rank of Prophets Abu Mijlaz; or such as to say, ‘O Allah give me a place on the right hand side of Paradise as one enters the gate,' etc. Similarly, to supplicate against the Muslims is also a transgression. Ibn Jurayj has said that to supplicate in a loud voice is transgression too (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi, and others).
    Ibn Jurayj has said that it is reproachable to raise the voice, shout, and lament during supplications. They must be done in low tones and in humility (Ibn Kathir).

    وَلَا تُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ بَعْدَ إِصْلَاحِهَا وَادْعُوهُ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا ۚ إِنَّ رَحْمَتَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ مِنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ (56)

    7|56| And spread not corruption in the land after its ordering89 and call on Him in fear and hope.90 Surely, Allah's mercy is near to those who excel.91

    89. An alternative rendering could be, as done by Dawood: "Do not corrupt the land after it has been purged of evil."
    When Abu Bakr b. `Ayyash was enquired about this verse, he said: Allah raised Muhammad when the earth was in a state of chaos. He helped him ordered at his hands. Therefore, whoever invited to anything in opposition to what Muhammad brought, strove to corrupt the land (Manar). However, Mufti Shafi` adds, by implication, material corruption of the land could also be included. And, obviously, indiscreet utilization of the resources of the land is to corrupt it (Au.).
    Mawdudi writes: "The command not to make mischief in the earth means not to vitiate the right order of life. What basically constitutes ‘mischief making' is to surrender oneself to one's lusts, to commit acts in subservience to other human beings and to subscribe to base moral, social orders, civilizations, principles and laws derived from sources other than God's Guidance. This is the essential mischief from which innumerable evils issue and which the Qur'an seeks to eradicate."
    Mufti Shafi` adds: In consequence of the corruption in morals engulfing the human society and extending to the corruption in the lands, the reality that we witness today is that despite the abundance of all kinds of materials as well as nonmaterial means of comfort and pleasure, far in excess of the human needs, dissatisfaction, unhappiness and miseries rule the day. Everyone, right from the top of the human social and economic hierarchy to the bottom most person, complains of depression, hardships and loss of peace. This situation cannot be turned around without man's return to a life guided by Revelation.
    90. “This demonstrates the significance of the expression ‘mischief making'. It consists in man turning to other than God as his guardian, patron, and helper, and calling them to his aid and support. To bring about reform, therefore, consists in man turning exclusively to God as his guardian and helper" (Mawdudi).
    Qurtubi writes: Hope and fear should be properly balanced allowing none of the scales to tilt far too much on one side. Indeed, it is said that if at all one of them has to tilt, it is fear. That is, one's fear may be greater than hope during the life time. But, the scale of hope should start tilting as one approaches the end of life. The Prophet has said in a report of Muslim:


    لاَ يَمُوتَنَّ أَحَدٌ مِنْكُمْ إِلاَّ وَهُوَ يُحْسِنُ الظَّنَّ بِاللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ


    "Let not one of you die but in a state of good hope with Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted."
    91. Ibn Jarir and Qurtubi devote several lines explaining with examples from Arabic literature why "qarib" has been used although masculine, (instead of feminine "qaribatun") despite its noun "rahmah" being feminine. It would be good for those who are confronted by this kind of doubts to refer to this section. Texts of this kind also deal with the reasons of singular adjectives for plural nouns and vice versa. Alusi in fact goes to a great length in discussions that run through several pages. As these lines are being written doubts of this sort are being loaded in dozens on the Internet by the Jews and Christians (Au.).

    وَهُوَ الَّذِي يُرْسِلُ الرِّيَاحَ بُشْرًا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ رَحْمَتِهِ ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا أَقَلَّتْ سَحَابًا ثِقَالًا سُقْنَاهُ لِبَلَدٍ مَيِّتٍ فَأَنْزَلْنَا بِهِ الْمَاءَ فَأَخْرَجْنَا بِهِ مِنْ كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نُخْرِجُ الْمَوْتَىٰ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ (57)

    7|57| He it is who sends forth the winds as heralds of His coming grace until, when they are charged with heavy clouds, We drive them to a dead land and send down water therewith. Then We bring forth therewith all manners of fruits. Even so We shall bring forth the dead, haply you will understand.92

    92. The translation follows the understanding of Shah `Abdul Qadir and Thanwi (Au.).
    Qurtubi comments: That is, if Allah is capable of giving life to the plants through rains, He is capable of giving life to the dead also. Abu Hurayrah said: "When, with first blow of the Sur people will die, Allah will send down rains from under His `Arsh. It would be called ‘the life giving rain.' It would rain for forty years. With that they would start growing, just like plants grow when watered. Until, when their bodies are complete, their souls will be sent back to them. Thereafter, sleep will descend upon them. They would be asleep in their graves when the Sur will be blown a second time. With that they would wake up, with slumber still on them, rubbing their eyes. It is then that they will say (36: 52):


    قَالُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا مَنْ بَعَثَنَا مِنْ مَرْقَدِنَا [يس : 52]


    "Woe unto us. Who woke us up from our places of sleep?" A caller will reply,


    هَذَا مَا وَعَدَ الرَّحْمَنُ وَصَدَقَ الْمُرْسَلُونَ [يس : 52]


    "This is what the Merciful had promised. And the Messengers spoke the truth."
    Mujahid has something similar to say but in a shorter form (Ibn Jarir). Muslim too has a report near about this.

    وَالْبَلَدُ الطَّيِّبُ يَخْرُجُ نَبَاتُهُ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِ ۖ وَالَّذِي خَبُثَ لَا يَخْرُجُ إِلَّا نَكِدًا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نُصَرِّفُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَشْكُرُونَ (58)

    7|58| As for the good land, it brings forth its vegetation by the leave of its Lord. But that which is corrupt, it does not bring forth but scantily.93 Thus do We give many facets to Our messages for a people who give thanks.94

    93. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah and others have said that in this manner a similitude of the believers and unbelievers has been drawn, comparing them with the good and the corrupt lands (Ibn Jarir).
    We have a hadith of the same meaning. The Prophet said in a report preserved by the Shaykhayn and Nasa'i:


    مَثَلُ مَا بَعَثَنِي اللَّهُ بِهِ مِنْ الْهُدَى وَالْعِلْمِ كَمَثَلِ الْغَيْثِ الْكَثِيرِ أَصَابَ أَرْضًا فَكَانَ مِنْهَا نَقِيَّةٌ قَبِلَتْ الْمَاءَ فَأَنْبَتَتْ الْكَلَأَ وَالْعُشْبَ الْكَثِيرَ وَكَانَتْ مِنْهَا أَجَادِبُ أَمْسَكَتْ الْمَاءَ فَنَفَعَ اللَّهُ بِهَا النَّاسَ فَشَرِبُوا وَسَقَوْا وَزَرَعُوا وَأَصَابَتْ مِنْهَا طَائِفَةً أُخْرَى إِنَّمَا هِيَ قِيعَانٌ لَا تُمْسِكُ مَاءً وَلَا تُنْبِتُ كَلَأً فَذَلِكَ مَثَلُ مَنْ فَقُهَ فِي دِينِ اللَّهِ وَنَفَعَهُ مَا بَعَثَنِي اللَّهُ بِهِ فَعَلِمَ وَعَلَّمَ وَمَثَلُ مَنْ لَمْ يَرْفَعْ بِذَلِكَ رَأْسًا وَلَمْ يَقْبَلْ هُدَى اللَّهِ الَّذِي أُرْسِلْتُ بِهِ


    "The example of what Allah has sent down of the guidance and knowledge is similar to the rains which fell on the earth. A patch of the earth was good. It accepted the water and threw out good amount of vegetation. There was another kind which was hard (and impenetrable). It preserved the water so that Allah proved it of benefit to the people. They drank and drew its water for plantation. It also fell on a rocky patch of earth. It neither held water nor sent out vegetation. This is the example of someone who understood the religion of Allah so that what is sent to me proved to be of profit to him, he learnt and he taught; and of him who did not raise his head and did not accept the guidance that was sent to me by Allah " (Ibn Kathir, Alusi).
    And Bukhari has the famous hadith which says:


    مَا مِنْ مَوْلُودٍ إِلَّا يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ أَوْ يُنَصِّرَانِهِ


    "There is not a new born but which is born on nature (fitrah). It is his parents who Judaize him or Christianize him" (Alusi).
    Rashid Rida adds: In the light of this verse, it is desirable that one should give preference to a pious and religious woman as a wife over another, beautiful, but lacking these qualities. For, good comes out of the good without much effort while one has to struggle hard to get the bare minimum out of the sterile.
    Thanwi writes: This proves that aptitudes and potentials of the humans vary.
    94. We have adopted Asad's rendering for better expression. Otherwise, literally the textual words can be rendered as: "That is how We turn about the verses for a people who give thanks" (Au.).
    Qurtubi adds that it is the thankful who (think, ponder and) profit from the messages of Allah, hence the words, "for a people who give thanks."

    لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ فَقَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مَا لَكُمْ مِنْ إِلَٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ إِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ (59)

    7|59| Indeed, We sent Nuh to his people.95 He said, ‘My people. Worship Allah. You have no god other than He. I fear for you the punishment of a Great Day.'96

    95. According to a hadith in Hakim (Sahih: S. Ibrahim) Nuh (asws) was the first Prophet ever to be raised. Ibn `Abbas has said that he was raised ten centuries after Adam (Shawkani). Some scholars have thought that Idris was the first Prophet. If that is correct, then perhaps he was sent to a single nation, while Nuh was a universal Prophet (Ibn Kathir).
    Mawdudi writes: "Traditions similar to the story of Noah are also found in classical Greek, Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese literature. Moreover, stories of identical import have been popular since time immemorial in Burma, Malaya, the East Indies, Australia, New Guinea and various parts of Europe and America. This shows clearly that the event took place at some point in the dim past when men lived together in one region and it was after Noah's Flood that they dispersed to different parts of the world. This is why traditions of all nations mention the Flood of the early time. This is notwithstanding the fact that the actual event has increasingly been shrouded in mystery, and the authentic elements of the event overlaid with myth and legend."
    96. "This refers either to the Day of Judgment or to the approaching deluge" (Asad).

    قَالَ الْمَلَأُ مِنْ قَوْمِهِ إِنَّا لَنَرَاكَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ (60)

    7|60| Said the elites97 of his people, ‘Surely, we see you in a manifest error.'98

    97. The textual word "mala'" is for an assembly of men without a woman among them (Ibn Jarir). It has its root in "mala'a" meaning "to fill," and the connotation is the picture of a group of people (the nobles, chiefs, princes, principal persons, persons whose opinion is respected: Majid), who, by their upkeep, smart and impressive appearance, fill the eyes of the beholder (Alusi).
    98. This then is the way of the world that has not changed since the Prophets of old. The religious people of today will hear the same thing from their adversaries. Patience and forbearing should alone be their resort (Thanwi).

    قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ لَيْسَ بِي ضَلَالَةٌ وَلَٰكِنِّي رَسُولٌ مِنْ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (61)

    7|61| He answered, ‘My people. There is no error in me. Rather, I am a Messenger from the Lord of the worlds.

    أُبَلِّغُكُمْ رِسَالَاتِ رَبِّي وَأَنْصَحُ لَكُمْ وَأَعْلَمُ مِنَ اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ (62)

    7|62| I convey to you the messages of my Lord and I advise you sincerely;99 for I know from Allah what you know not.

    99. The textual word for "advice" has its root in nasihah which could also be rendered as "admonition." In addition, it has the connotation of “sincerity” (Au.).

    أَوَعَجِبْتُمْ أَنْ جَاءَكُمْ ذِكْرٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ عَلَىٰ رَجُلٍ مِنْكُمْ لِيُنْذِرَكُمْ وَلِتَتَّقُوا وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ (63)

    7|63| Do you think it strange that a reminder should come to you from your Lord by (the mouth) of one of your own men?100 So that he might warn you, that you may learn to be Godfearing, and that haply you might be shown mercy!?'101

    100. That is to say, someone who was born and raised before your eyes who is not a stranger to you (Alusi).
    Imam Razi points out that what the unbelievers meant by this statement is that since in the final analysis, it was their own reason that helped in making decisions, they were in no need of a Messenger who was one of them. If there was a need for an external agency to guide, it should have been an angel.
    101. Allah's mercy depended upon the unbelievers' fear of Allah; and that in turn depended on they accepting the warning of punishment. And, delivery of the warning required the sending down of a Messenger (Alusi).
    Referring to the words, “haply you might be shown mercy,” Imam Razi reports Jiba'i, Ka`bi and Qadi `Ayad as of opinion that in view of the verse saying, "So that he might warn you and you may learn to be godfearing and you may be shown mercy," it can be concluded that Allah intended belief, godfearing and mercy for those who were addressed through Prophets, as against the belief held by many that He desired of the unbeliever unbelief and that He created them for no other purpose but to fill the Hell fire. After quoting the above statement, Imam Razi replies that, if deeds are not dependent upon the causes, then it is necessary that we incline to the "possible" rather than to the "preferable." But if the deeds depend on causes, then it means one is forced to do them, which would mean that Allah wished unbelief of the unbelievers, which goes against the opinion they hold.

    فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَأَنْجَيْنَاهُ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ فِي الْفُلْكِ وَأَغْرَقْنَا الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَوْمًا عَمِينَ (64)

    7|64| But they gave him the lie, so We delivered him and those with him in the ship, and drowned those who gave the lie to Our signs. Surely, they were a blind people.102

    102. The brevity of the account may lead some people to guess that the episode was a short one: a Prophet arose, presented his message, some arguments took place, his nation remained firm on rejection, and were consequently destroyed. Mawdudi clears the doubt: "The fact of the matter, however, is that the Qur'an has narrated in just a few lines a story that was worked out over a long period of time. The brevity of the Qur'anic description owes itself to the fact that the Qur'an is not interested per se in story telling; that its narration and purpose are didactic. Hence, while recounting an historical event, the Qur'an mentions only those fragments of the event which are relevant, ignoring those details which are irrelevant to Qur'anic purposes (at that point: Au.). Again, at different places in the Qur'an the same event is mentioned for a variety of reasons. On every occasion only those fragments of the story which are relevant to a specific purpose are mentioned and the rest left out."

    وَإِلَىٰ عَادٍ أَخَاهُمْ هُودًا ۗ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مَا لَكُمْ مِنْ إِلَٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ ۚ أَفَلَا تَتَّقُونَ (65)

    7|65| And unto `Aad (We sent) their brother Hud.103 He said, ‘My people. Worship Allah (alone). You have no god other than He. Will you not fear?'

    103. Asad writes: "Hud is said to have been the first Arabian prophet. He may be identical with the Biblical Eber, the ancestor of the Hebrews (`Ibrim) who like most of the Semitic tribes had probably originated in South Arabia. (Reference to Eber are found in Genesis x, 24 25 and xi, 14ff.) The ancient Arabian name Hud is still reflected in that of Jacob's son Judah (Yahudah in Hebrew), which provided the subsequent designation of the Jews. The name `Eber both in Hebrew and in its Arabic form `Abir signifies "one who crosses over" (i.e., from one territory to another), and may be a Biblical echo of the fact that this tribe "crossed over" from Arabia to Mesopotamia in pre Abrahamic times. The tribe of `Ad, to which Hud belonged ("their brother Hud"), inhabited the vast desert region known as Al Ahqaf, between `Uman and Hadramawt, and was noted for its great power and influence (see 89: 8) "the like of whom has never been reared in all land"). It disappeared from history many centuries before the advent of Islam, but its memory always remained alive in Arabian tradition."
    Mawdudi adds: "James R. Wellested, a British naval officer, discovered an ancient inscription in 1937 in a place called Hisn al Ghurab which contains a reference to the Prophet Hud."

    قَالَ الْمَلَأُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ قَوْمِهِ إِنَّا لَنَرَاكَ فِي سَفَاهَةٍ وَإِنَّا لَنَظُنُّكَ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ (66)

    7|66| Said the elites of the unbelievers of his people, ‘Surely, we observe in you a (kind of) foolishness. Indeed, we reckon you of the liars.'

    قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ لَيْسَ بِي سَفَاهَةٌ وَلَٰكِنِّي رَسُولٌ مِنْ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (67)

    7|67| He replied, ‘My people. There is no foolishness in me, rather, I am a Messenger from the Lord of the worlds.

    أُبَلِّغُكُمْ رِسَالَاتِ رَبِّي وَأَنَا لَكُمْ نَاصِحٌ أَمِينٌ (68)

    7|68| I convey to you the messages of my Lord. And I am a faithful adviser unto you.

    أَوَعَجِبْتُمْ أَنْ جَاءَكُمْ ذِكْرٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ عَلَىٰ رَجُلٍ مِنْكُمْ لِيُنْذِرَكُمْ ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا إِذْ جَعَلَكُمْ خُلَفَاءَ مِنْ بَعْدِ قَوْمِ نُوحٍ وَزَادَكُمْ فِي الْخَلْقِ بَسْطَةً ۖ فَاذْكُرُوا آلَاءَ اللَّهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ (69)

    7|69| Do you think it strange that a reminder should come to you from your Lord by (the mouth) of one of your men; so that he might warn you!? Remember that He made you the successors after the nation of Nuh and granted you an increase in stature among the creations.104 Remember then Allah's blessings haply you will prosper.'

    104. This piece of the verse should lead us to believe that material benefits are favors of Allah. It is not asceticism to belittle them or treat them with scorn, as some ignorant Sufis do (Thanwi).

    قَالُوا أَجِئْتَنَا لِنَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ وَحْدَهُ وَنَذَرَ مَا كَانَ يَعْبُدُ آبَاؤُنَا ۖ فَأْتِنَا بِمَا تَعِدُنَا إِنْ كُنْتَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ (70)

    7|70| They replied, ‘Have you come to us that we worship Allah alone and abandon those that our forefathers worshipped? Bring then upon us that which you threaten us with, if you are truthful.'

    قَالَ قَدْ وَقَعَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ رِجْسٌ وَغَضَبٌ ۖ أَتُجَادِلُونَنِي فِي أَسْمَاءٍ سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنْتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُمْ مَا نَزَّلَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ ۚ فَانْتَظِرُوا إِنِّي مَعَكُمْ مِنَ الْمُنْتَظِرِينَ (71)

    7|71| He said, ‘A punishment has already settled upon you from your Lord and anger (too). Do you argue with me over some names that you have devised you and your forefathers105 - for which Allah did not send down any authority? Wait then, I am also – along with you - of those who are waiting.

    105. The words, "some names that you have devised," are meaningful. In the absence of any historical evidence of their existence, what is the reality behind the pagan deities but that they are some names that have been devised by their followers (Au.)?

    فَأَنْجَيْنَاهُ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ بِرَحْمَةٍ مِنَّا وَقَطَعْنَا دَابِرَ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۖ وَمَا كَانُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ (72)

    7|72| Therefore, We delivered him and those that were with him by Our mercy and We cut down the roots of those who gave the lie to Our signs,106 and who would not believe.107

    106. It is reported that when the Prophet alighted at Hijr on his way to Tabuk he addressed the people in words:


    لَا تَسْأَلُوا الْآيَاتِ وَقَدْ سَأَلَهَا قَوْمُ صَالِحٍ فَكَانَتْ تَرِدُ مِنْ هَذَا الْفَجِّ وَتَصْدُرُ مِنْ هَذَا الْفَجِّ فَعَتَوْا عَنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّهِمْ فَعَقَرُوهَا فَكَانَتْ تَشْرَبُ مَاءَهُمْ يَوْمًا وَيَشْرَبُونَ لَبَنَهَا يَوْمًا فَعَقَرُوهَا فَأَخَذَتْهُمْ صَيْحَةٌ أَهْمَدَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ مَنْ تَحْتَ أَدِيمِ السَّمَاءِ مِنْهُمْ إِلَّا رَجُلًا وَاحِدًا كَانَ فِي حَرَمِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ قِيلَ مَنْ هُوَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ هُوَ أَبُو رِغَالٍ فَلَمَّا خَرَجَ مِنْ الْحَرَمِ أَصَابَهُ مَا أَصَابَ قَوْمَهُ


    "Do not ask for signs. The people of Salih asked for signs. Allah sent them a camel. She would drink off and empty their wells every second day. On the next day they drank from its milk. It used to enter the town by this gorge. They transgressed the commandment of their Lord and hamstrung her. Allah promised them a chastisement that was to descend after three days. Allah's promise was not to be broken so a huge cry was heard which killed everyone save for a single man who had gone to Makkah for a visit." He was asked: "Who was this man O Messenger of Allah?" He replied: "That was Abu Rughal. Ultimately, when he left the Haram, he was overtaken by what the others had been overtaken" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    The report is in Ibn Abi Hatim, Tabrani and Hakim who declared it trustworthy (Shawkani).
    The Prophet also prohibited that a Muslim should visit the sites of destruction of previous nations, unless one went there weeping (Ibn Jarir).
    The hadith is in Ahmad (Ibn Kathir, Shawkani).
    It is also reported that the Prophet (saws) told `Ali:


    أُحَيْمِرُ ثَمُودَ الَّذِي عَقَرَ النَّاقَةَ وَالَّذِي يَضْرِبُكَ يَا عَلِيُّ عَلَى هَذِهِ يَعْنِي قَرْنَهُ حَتَّى تُبَلَّ مِنْهُ هَذِهِ يَعْنِي لِحْيَتَهُ


    "(The most wretched of men) was Uhaymar, the one who hamstrung Thamud's camel, and he who will strike you here O `Ali (i.e., at the neck)" (Zamakhshari).
    The wordings of the above report are from Ahmad (Au.).
    107. It is reported that once `Ali (ra) asked a Hadrami: "Have you seen the red dune heaped with crimson stones with Arak tree growing on it and plenty of lote trees by the sides in such and such area of Hadramawt? Have you seen it?" The man replied: "You have described it as if you have seen the place." `Ali said: "I have not. But it was described to me." The Hadrami asked: "So what about it?" `Ali replied: "Hud's grave is thereunder" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    The report is in the Tarikh of Bukhari (Shawkani).

    وَإِلَىٰ ثَمُودَ أَخَاهُمْ صَالِحًا ۗ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مَا لَكُمْ مِنْ إِلَٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ ۖ قَدْ جَاءَتْكُمْ بَيِّنَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ ۖ هَٰذِهِ نَاقَةُ اللَّهِ لَكُمْ آيَةً ۖ فَذَرُوهَا تَأْكُلْ فِي أَرْضِ اللَّهِ ۖ وَلَا تَمَسُّوهَا بِسُوءٍ فَيَأْخُذَكُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ (73)

    7|73| And to Thamud108 (We sent) their brother Salih. He said, ‘My people. Worship Allah alone. You have no god other than He. A clear sign has come to you from your Lord: this is Allah's own she camel:109 a sign for you.110 So leave her alone to graze in Allah's land, and touch her not in harm, lest a painful chastisement seizes you.

    108. Asad writes: "The Nabataean tribe of Thamud descended from the tribe of `Ad mentioned in the preceding passage, and is, therefore, often referred to in pre Islamic poetry as the "Second `Ad". Apart from Arabian sources, "a series of older references, not of Arabian origin, confirm the historical existence of the name of the people Thamud. Thus the inscription of Sargon of the year 715 B.C. mention the Thamud among the people of the eastern and central Arabia subjected by the Assyrians. We also find the Thamudaei, Thamudenes mentioned in Aristo, Ptolemy, and Pliny" (Encyclopedia of Islam IV, 736). At the time of which the Qur'an speaks, the Thamud were settled in the northernmost Hijaz, near the confines of Syria. Rock inscriptions attributed to them are still extant in the region of Al Hijr. As in the case of `Adite prophet Hud and the prophet Shu`ayb spoken of in verse 85 93 of this surah Salih is called the "brother" of the tribe because he belonged to it."
    109. It was called Allah's own camel out of reverence. Other examples are "House of God," "Allah's Fire," etc. (Ibn Kathir).
    Thanwi adds: It is perhaps in this vein that the words "`ala suratihi" (lit., in His own image) of the famous hadith should be taken.
    The hadith alluded to by Thanwi is:


    خَلَقَ اللَّهُ آدَمَ عَلَى صُورَتِهِ - صحيح البخاري


    "Allah created Adam in His own image."
    110. Majid quotes: "Near the summit of Jebel Musa is a peculiar mark in the stone which has a strong resemblance to the imprint of a camel's foot. It is regarded by the Bedawin with great veneration, and the girls, when tending their flocks on the mountain, often milk their goats into it as a sure means of obtaining increase and prosperity. This is called Athar Naqat en Nabi, "the footprint of the Prophet's she camel" ... I should therefore conclude that the Nabi Salih of the tomb in the Wady es Sheikh, the prophet of the camel's footprints, and the Salih of the Qur'an are identical" (Palmer, Desert of the Exodus, p. 50)"

    وَاذْكُرُوا إِذْ جَعَلَكُمْ خُلَفَاءَ مِنْ بَعْدِ عَادٍ وَبَوَّأَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ تَتَّخِذُونَ مِنْ سُهُولِهَا قُصُورًا وَتَنْحِتُونَ الْجِبَالَ بُيُوتًا ۖ فَاذْكُرُوا آلَاءَ اللَّهِ وَلَا تَعْثَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ (74)

    7|74| Remember that He made you the successors after `Aad and allowed you to prevail in the land in whose plain fields you build castles and whose mountains you carve for homes.111 Remember then Allah's blessings and commit not in the earth corruption.'

    111. "A reference to the elaborate rock dwellings or tombs to be seen to this day which the Thamud carved out of the cliffs west of Al Hijr, in northern Hijaz, and embellished with sculptures of animals as well as many inscriptions attesting to the comparatively high degree of their civilization and power. In popular Arabic parlance, these rock dwellings are nowadays called Mada'in Salih (The Towns of Salih)" Asad.

    قَالَ الْمَلَأُ الَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا مِنْ قَوْمِهِ لِلَّذِينَ اسْتُضْعِفُوا لِمَنْ آمَنَ مِنْهُمْ أَتَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّ صَالِحًا مُرْسَلٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِ ۚ قَالُوا إِنَّا بِمَا أُرْسِلَ بِهِ مُؤْمِنُونَ (75)

    7|75| The arrogant elites of his people said to those of the weakened believers, ‘Do you think Salih has been sent by His Lord?' They answered, ‘We believe in that which he has been sent with.'112

    112. "The contents of this message .. appeared to them justification enough to accept it on its own merits, without the need of any esoteric "proof" of Salih's mission. In a subtle way, this statement of faith has a meaning which goes far beyond the story of the Thamud. It is an invitation to the skeptic who is unable to believe in the divine origin of a religious message, to judge it on its intrinsic merit and not to make his acceptance dependent on extraneous, and objectively impossible, proofs of its origin: for only through the contents of a message can its truth and validity be established” (Asad).

    قَالَ الَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا إِنَّا بِالَّذِي آمَنْتُمْ بِهِ كَافِرُونَ (76)

    7|76| Said those who were arrogant, ‘As for us, we are, indeed, in what you believe unbelievers.'113

    113. What the rejecters meant to ask the lowly believers was: ‘So far as our big and important people are concerned, they are not able to figure out whether Salih is a Messenger or not. But have you, O people of low intellect, already reached the conclusion that he has been commissioned? The wise answer that the believers gave was: It is not the question of knowing or not knowing, being able to figure it out or not being able to figure it out. It is beyond doubt both to us as well as to you, that Salih has been commissioned. The contention is not, therefore, over the fact of he being commissioned. The contention is over whether we should declare our belief in him or should we not. Well, you have taken your stand, and we have taken ours, viz., we have declared our belief that He is a Messenger of God.’ At this point the unbelievers were forced to admit that they had decided to disbelieve in Salih as a matter of policy, irrespective of what the facts spoke. And, therefore, they meant to say to the lowly unbelievers that ‘in view of our big-time fellows making that decision, your belief, O the lowly ones, is of no consequence to us' (based on Shabbir).

    فَعَقَرُوا النَّاقَةَ وَعَتَوْا عَنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّهِمْ وَقَالُوا يَا صَالِحُ ائْتِنَا بِمَا تَعِدُنَا إِنْ كُنْتَ مِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ (77)

    7|77| Then they hamstrung the she camel,114 and insolently defied the order of their Lord. And they said, ‘Salih. Bring down upon us that which you were threatening us with if you are one of the envoys.'

    114. The verb `aqara primarily denotes "he hamstrung (an animal)" i.e., before slaughtering it, so that it might not run away. This custom was widely practiced in pre Islamic Arabia, so that `aqr ("hamstringing") gradually became synonymous with slaughtering. The term hamstring itself is defined as: "the great tendon at the back of the hock of a four footed animal," i.e., what corresponds to the tendon at the back of the knees among the humans (Au.).
    Here, the act of hamstringing the camel has been attributed to the whole nation while it was only a group of people, led by an individual, who had done that. The commentators have pointed out in explanation that the rest of the people did not object to the crime. In fact, Rashid Rida points out, that according to reports those who did the hamstringing actually sought everyone's assent: entering every house for consultation. Therefore, the scourge came on all. Allah has said elsewhere (8: 25):


    وَاتَّقُوا فِتْنَةً لَا تُصِيبَنَّ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْكُمْ خَاصَّةً [الأنفال : 25]


    "And beware of a tribulation that will not specifically strike the transgressors alone among you."
    The story behind the camel is that the Thamudians asked for a sign. A camel was given to them as the sign. She was a huge animal that came out with the split of a rock. They were told to respect her and allow her to drink from the town-well once every second day. She drank off all the water of the well on the day of her turn. The Thamudian unbelievers did not like it and formed a team to hamstring her. When one of them did that, the nation was overtaken by Allah’s scourge. It destroyed them all (Au.).

    فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ الرَّجْفَةُ فَأَصْبَحُوا فِي دَارِهِمْ جَاثِمِينَ (78)

    7|78| So an earthquake seized them, so that by morning they lay fallen on their faces.

    فَتَوَلَّىٰ عَنْهُمْ وَقَالَ يَا قَوْمِ لَقَدْ أَبْلَغْتُكُمْ رِسَالَةَ رَبِّي وَنَصَحْتُ لَكُمْ وَلَٰكِنْ لَا تُحِبُّونَ النَّاصِحِينَ (79)

    7|79| He turned away from them saying, ‘My people. Surely, I conveyed to you the messages of my Lord and sincerely counseled you but you do not seem to appreciate sincere counsellors.'115

    115. The address was made after they were destroyed. As to the question of effectiveness of the statement, there could be several answers. First, it could have been a remark uttered in half sarcasm, half pity (Au.). Second, it could be in the same vein as that of the Prophet to the slain chieftains at Badr. He said, "O so and so, so and so, we found the promise made to us by our Lord true. Have you also found the promises made to you true?" `Umar asked: "Are you speaking to the corpses?" The Prophet replied: "You do not hear better than they do. But they have no power to reply" (Razi, Ibn Kathir). Third, it could be in the same style as a poet's poetical piece on seeing a castle or a historical town in ruin (Shabbir).

    وَلُوطًا إِذْ قَالَ لِقَوْمِهِ أَتَأْتُونَ الْفَاحِشَةَ مَا سَبَقَكُمْ بِهَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ مِنَ الْعَالَمِينَ (80)

    7|80| And (recall) when Lut said to his people, ‘Do you commit a lewdness that no creation committed before you?116

    116. `Amr b. Dinar has said that the nation of Lut was the first to indulge in homosexuality (Ibn Jarir). That is, perhaps as a people (not individuals) and at the national level (Au.).
    Thanwi has written that by the words "a lewdness that no creation committed before you," the implication is that sometimes the fact that an evil was practiced by previous generations gives suggestion to the later people that it might not be an evil. But, in this case, the abominable act was entirely an innovation. Another implication is that laying the foundation of an evil is worse than being a practitioner of another's invention.

    إِنَّكُمْ لَتَأْتُونَ الرِّجَالَ شَهْوَةً مِنْ دُونِ النِّسَاءِ ۚ بَلْ أَنْتُمْ قَوْمٌ مُسْرِفُونَ (81)

    7|81| You go into men out of lust in preference of women. You are indeed a transgressing people.'117

    117. Yusuf Ali writes: "Lut is the Lot of the English Bible. His story is biblical, but freed from some shameful features which are a blot on the biblical narrative, (e.g., see Gen. xix, 30 36). He was a nephew of Abraham, and was sent as a Prophet and warner to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, cities utterly destroyed for their unspeakable sins. (Ibrahim asws also sometimes visited them to admonish them: Thanwi). They cannot be exactly located, but it may be supposed that they were somewhere in the plain east of the Dead Sea. The story of their destruction is told in the 19th chapter of Genesis. Two angels in the shape of handsome young men came to Lot in the evening and became his guests by night. The inhabitants of Sodom in their lust for unnatural crime invaded Lot's house but were repulsed. In the morning, the angels warned Lot to escape with his family. "Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt" (Gen. xix. 24 26).

    وَمَا كَانَ جَوَابَ قَوْمِهِ إِلَّا أَنْ قَالُوا أَخْرِجُوهُمْ مِنْ قَرْيَتِكُمْ ۖ إِنَّهُمْ أُنَاسٌ يَتَطَهَّرُونَ (82)

    7|82| His people had no answer but to say, ‘Expel them from your town. These are a puritanical folk.

    فَأَنْجَيْنَاهُ وَأَهْلَهُ إِلَّا امْرَأَتَهُ كَانَتْ مِنَ الْغَابِرِينَ (83)

    7|83| So We delivered him and his kinsfolk save for his wife: she was of those who lagged behind.118

    118. Yusuf Ali also comments: "In the biblical narrative she looks back, a physical act ... Here she is a type of those who lag behind, i.e., whose mental and moral attitude, in spite of their association with the righteous, is to hark back to the glitter of wickedness and sin."

    وَأَمْطَرْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ مَطَرًا ۖ فَانْظُرْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُجْرِمِينَ (84)

    7|84| Thereafter We rained upon them a shower (of brim stones).119 See then, what was the end of the criminals!120

    119. It is said that the people of Lut lived in five major towns. Sodom was their capital. However, remains of none of them could be located till today despite intensive searches. Either they are under the Dead Sea, or, they were turned upside down so nothing remained. Commentators and Muslim historians have generally reported that when the time for punishment came, Jibril scooped up the whole of the nation with one of his wings, lifted them to the Heavens where their cries could be heard, and then banged them against the ground (ref. 11: 82). That could explain why their remains could not be found. The Dead Sea itself, the site of Lut's nation (also known as Transjordan), about 1000 sq. km, is the lowest land level on the earth. It is even below the sea level by about 400 meters. The Dead Sea is so called because nothing ever lives in it (except brime shrimp) because of its high salt content. Its water is the saltiest collection of liquid on earth, being nine times as salty as the oceans. In fact, nothing grows on the shore around (Au.).
    Abu Hamza says he asked Muhammad b. `Ali: "Did Allah punish the nations' women because of the crime of their men?" He answered: "Allah is more just than that. Their women committed lesbianism (Alusi). That was of course in addition to their denial – by men and women - of the Prophet sent to them, which was the primary cause of punishment (Au.).
    120. There is consensus of opinion that punishment for homosexuality is death for the married, and lashes for the unmarried Muslim (Ibn Kathir). The Prophet said in a hadith of Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Musnad Ahmad that the active and the passive both be killed. However, there are differences over the form of punishment. Imam Abu Hanifah has said that a criminal of this kind should be thrown down a cliff and then stoned to death, in keeping with the punishment meted out to the nation of Lut (Ma`arif).
    Mawdudi writes: "Now, the crime of the person who commits sodomy ... is not limited to that act alone. In fact he commits along with it a number of other crimes. First, he wages war against his own nature, against his inherent psychological predilection. This causes a major disorder which leads to highly negative effects on the lives of both the parties involved in that unnatural act effects which are physical, psychological as well as moral. Second, he acts dishonestly with nature since while he derives sexual pleasure he fails to fulfil the social obligations of which this pleasure is a recompense. Third, such a person also acts dishonestly with human society. For, although he avails himself of the advantages offered by various social institutions, when he has an opportunity to act, he uses his abilities in a manner which not only fails to serve that society but positively harms it. Apart from neglecting the obligations he owes to society, he renders himself incapable of serving the human race and his own family. He also produces effeminacy in at least one male and potentially pushes at least two females towards sexual corruption and moral depravity...
    "It should also be made clear that it is altogether unlawful for the husband to perpetrate this act on his wife. The Prophet (peace be on him), according to a tradition in Abu Da'ud said: ‘Cursed be he who commits this act with a woman.'"

    وَإِلَىٰ مَدْيَنَ أَخَاهُمْ شُعَيْبًا ۗ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مَا لَكُمْ مِنْ إِلَٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ ۖ قَدْ جَاءَتْكُمْ بَيِّنَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ ۖ فَأَوْفُوا الْكَيْلَ وَالْمِيزَانَ وَلَا تَبْخَسُوا النَّاسَ أَشْيَاءَهُمْ وَلَا تُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ بَعْدَ إِصْلَاحِهَا ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ (85)

    7|85| And to Madyan121 (We sent) their brother Shu`ayb.122 He said, ‘My people! Worship Allah, you have no god other than He.123 Surely, there has come to you a clear sign from your Lord.124 So give full measure and weight, and defraud not the people of their commodities.125 And spread not corruption in the land after its ordering.126 That is better for you if you will believe.

    121. Several commentators have reported that Madyan was the name of one of the sons of Ibrahim by his third wife Qaturah. The place of his settlement acquired his name. Majid writes: "Now known as Maghair Shu`aib, the city was situated on the Red Sea coast of Arabia, south east of Mount Sinai. ‘Madyan was a station of the pilgrim route from Egypt to Mecca, the second beyond Aila (Elath) ... the place is still known as the "cave of Sho`aib." It had considerable rivers, which have been described by Sir R. Burton' (EBr. XVIII, p. 419, 11th ed.). It is bounded on the north by Lat. 290 29' and on the south by Lat. 270 39'. In other words it extends from the bed of the Gulf of Akaba, and down the eastern shore of the Red Sea for about two hundred miles in all' (Marston, The Bible is True)."
    Yusuf Ali writes: "Madyan" may be identified with "Midian". Midian and the Midianites are frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, though the particular incident here mentioned belongs to Arab rather than to Jewish tradition. The Midianites were of Arab race though, as neighbors of Canaanites, they probably intermixed with them. They were a wandering tribe: it was Midianite merchants to whom Joseph was sold into slavery, and who took him to Egypt. Their principal territory in the time of Moses was in the north east of the Sinai Peninsula, and east of the Amalekites. Under Moses the Israelites waged a war of extermination against them: they slew the kings of Midian, slaughtered all the males, burnt their cities and castles, and captured their cattle (Num. xxxi, 7 11). This sounds like total extermination. Yet a few generation afterwards, they were so powerful that the Israelites for their sins were delivered into the captivity of the Midianites for seven years: both the Midianites and their camels were without number: and the Israelites hid from them in "dens ... caves, and strongholds" (Judges vii. 1 6). Gideon destroyed them again, (Judges vii. 1 25), say about two centuries after Moses. As the decisive battle was near the hill of Moreh, not far south of Mount Tabor, we may localize the Midianites on this occasion in the northern parts of the Jordan valley, at least 200 miles north of the Sinai Peninsula.
    "This and the previous destruction under Moses were local, and mention no town or Midian. In later times there was a town Madyan on the east side of the Gulf of `Aqaba. It is mentioned in Josephus, Eusebius, and Ptolemy: (Encyclopedia of Islam). Then it disappears from geography. In Muslim times it was a revived town with quite a different kind of population, but it never flourished. The Midianites disappeared from history."
    Nonetheless, there is no hadith to lend certainty to above statements.
    122. Shihab has said that two different Shu`aybs have been mentioned in the Qur'an; one the Prophet, and the other, the father in law of Musa (Alusi).
    Ibn Hibban has a long hadith narrated by Abu Dharr which says that "Four (prophets) were from the Arabs: Hud, Salih, Shu`ayb and Muhammad" (Manar).
    Yusuf Ali writes: "Shu`aib belongs to the Arab rather than to Jewish tradition, to which he is unknown. His identification with Jethro, the father in law of Moses, has no warrant, and I reject it. There is no similarity either in names or incidents, and there are chronological difficulties... If, as the commentators tell us (rather, some of them: Au.), Shu`aib was in the fourth generation from Abraham, being a great grandson of Madyan (a son of Abraham), he would be only about a century from the time of Abraham, whereas the Hebrew Bible would give us a period of four to six centuries between Abraham and Moses. The mere fact that Jethro was Midianite and that another name, Hobab, is mentioned for a father in law of Moses in Num x. 29, is slender ground for identification. As the Midianites were mainly nomad tribes, we need not be surprised that their destruction in one or two settlements did not affect their life in wandering sections of the tribe in other geographical regions. Shu`aib's mission was apparently in one of the settled towns of the Midianites, which was completely destroyed by an earthquake (vii. 91). ... The name of the highest mountain in Yemen, Nabi Shu`aib (11,000 ft.) has probably no connection with the geographical territory of the nomad Midianites, unless we suppose that their wanderings extended so far south from the territories mentioned (earlier)."
    123. Sayyid Qutb writes: "The humans started on their journey as those rightly guided believing in One God. Soon they lost their moorings, to stumble into ignorance, misguidance and polytheism. This happened, and keeps happening all the time, because of the fact that complex dispositions have been placed in their souls; as well as because of factors external to them, which they encounter as they interact with each other. Then come the Messengers confirming the very truths on which they were, before they lost their orientation. As a result of the Messengers coming to them, those who must meet with their destruction are destroyed and those who have to thrive, thrive. Those who thrive are the ones who return to the original truth. They are the ones who have known that their god is One God. To this One God they surrender themselves wholly. They are the people who treated their Messenger's call in all seriousness:
    ‘My people! Worship Allah, you have no god other than He:' This is the first layer of truth over which the rest of the religion of Allah is laid, and the truth which every Messenger repeated throughout the ages. Every Messenger who was commissioned, started off with this Word, addressing the people who had been put off the Word, so that they forgot it, lost it, and declared partners to Allah despite differences in the kind and class of deities (they devoted themselves to) and despite the differences in the nature of the ignorance they succumbed to. However that be, it is on the basis of this Word that the struggle ensues between truth and falsehood. It is on the basis of this Word that Allah either seizes those who disbelieve in it or delivers those who believe in it... And the Qur'an uses the same words to express what the countless Messengers said, despite the differences in dialects: ‘My people! Worship Allah, you have no god other than He.' This is to impress the universality of the truth, expressed through the ages, a truth so universal that it could be expressed in very simple words."
    He continues down the lines:
    "The central point of emphasis of every call to the Truth was a single, simple statement: Man's submission to his Lord alone, the Lord of the Worlds and to none else. That is because this declaration of submission to Allah, and the denial of all other false claimants to divinity, is the first principle and the foundation stone without which nothing in the life of the human beings can be set aright. We can notice that after making this statement, the Qur'an did not mention much of what else the call of the Messengers constituted. That is because every detail of the religion after the statement of this cardinal principle is traced back to this principle. It cannot be extrapolated over it. The importance of this foundation rule has been expressed by the Qur'an which dealt with it first and foremost, singling it out for mention while speaking about the caravan of faith .. rather, through and through the Qur'an. We might also remind ourselves, as we said in the note on the chapter Al `Imran, that this is the main subject of the Makkan revelations, as it has been the subject of the Madinan revelations whenever legal points or details of the guidance were to be enacted.
    "This religion holds a basic truth, and it follows a specific method that it adopts to present that basic truth. And the method it adopts has no lack of clarity in its presentation. It is upon us therefore, to know the basic truth which this religion has presented to us, as it is also important that we adhere to the method that was adopted to present this religion. This method consists in presentation, emphasis, repetition, prominence, and singling out of the truth concerning the Oneness of Divinity.
    "The stories that are presented in these passages depict for us the nature of faith and of unfaith residing in the human soul. Consequently, repeatedly it depicts through examples those hearts that are susceptible to belief. It also depicts repeatedly the examples of those hearts that are prone to disbelief. Those who believed in their Messengers had no pride in their selves against submission to Allah and obedience to His Messengers. They were not surprised at all that one of their own men was chosen to warn them or give them glad tidings. In contrast, those who disbelieved in their Messengers did that out of pride that they harbored in their hearts. They were too arrogant to give up the authority they had usurped and hand it over back to the One it belonged Allah, whose is the Creation, and whose is the Command. They were not ready to listen and obey to someone who happened to be no more than ‘just one of them.' They were the top brasses, the ruling classes, the eminent men of authority in their nations. This solves the enigma: the root cause of rejection. It involves the central question concerning the ‘rule' and the ‘authority.' The elites of the nations that were addressed knew immediately upon receiving the message, what ultimately was the demand contained in the simple sentence: ‘O my people. Worship Allah. You have no god besides He,' and, ‘I am a Messenger from the Lord of the Worlds.'
    “They realized that submission to the idea of Oneness of Divinity, and comprehensiveness of Lordship meant, first and foremost, revocation of their own authority and its restoration to none other than the true Law giver, the Lord of the Worlds. This is what they opposed tooth and nail, until they met with their destruction. The love of power led them to the situation that neither the first nor the last of them would profit from the call, to the extent that they should run headlong into destruction ... headlong into Hell fire. The attitude of those who rejected the call as the following stories tell us follow a law that does not alter: people's heedlessness to Allah's signs and deviation from His path .. Allah's warning through His Messenger, their arrogance against submission to Him, and Him alone .. deceptions caused by the material well being .. making fun of the warnings delivered and arrogantly seeking the hastening of punishment .. rebellion, threatening of the believers and targeting them with oppression... and, in contrast, the patience of the believers and their consistency in holding fast unto the faith.
    "To be sure, falsehood cannot tolerate the existence of truth, even if truth decided to live in a corner away from any contact with falsehood, waiting for Allah's intervention and victory. Falsehood does not accept this situation. Rather, it will follow the truth, chase it across, and challenge it to a duel. Shu`ayb had said, ‘If there be some among you who have believed in what I have been sent with, while some who do not believe, (yet no punishment descends) then have patience (and wait) until Allah judges between us. And He is the best of judges.' But they would not accept to wait. They could not bear to see the truth in existence and a group of people living by its light, not ruled by their authority and beyond the authority of the false gods. Therefore: ‘Said the chiefs of those of his people who waxed proud, ‘We shall surely expel you O Shu`ayb and your fellow believers from our city, or you should return to our religion.' At this point Shu`ayb voiced his decision, refusing to accept what falsehood was offering. He asked, ‘Even though we detest (the return)? We would have forged a lie upon Allah if we returned to your religion after Allah delivered us from it.'
    "This detail we offer, in order that those who are engaged in inviting to the truth should realize that their struggle with falsehood has certain repercussions and consequences that cannot be avoided, and that they would gain nothing from avoiding contacts with it. Falsehood will not let them in peace, until they have given up their religion wholly and returned to their religion after Allah delivered them from it. And, noticeably, they were delivered from the punishment merely by virtue of their rejection of the Lordship of false gods, and submission to One Allah... Thus, (for those of the older times) there was no escape from the struggle, from patience in its face, from the endurance until victory, and their re assertion – time and again - of trust in Allah, worded by Shu`ayb as: ‘In Allah we place our trust. O our Lord! You decide between us and our people by truth. You indeed are the best of those who decide.' Thereafter, the Sunnah of Allah took over, as has the Sunnah of Allah always been taking over .. through and through human history."
    Quotation from Sayyid Qutb ends here.
    124. The words, "Surely, a clear sign has come to you from your Lord" imply that Shu`ayb presented them a miracle as a sign. Every Prophet is given a miracle specific to him as a proof of his authenticity. If he does not present any miracle, then he is a false Prophet, although, in this instance the Qur'an did not tell us what that miracle was (Zamakhshari).
    The miracle that our Prophet was given was the Qur'an. The Prophet said:


    مَا مِنَ الأَنْبِيَاءِ مِنْ نَبِىٍّ إِلاَّ قَدْ أُعْطِىَ مِنَ الآيَاتِ مَا مِثْلُهُ آمَنَ عَلَيْهِ الْبَشَرُ وَإِنَّمَا كَانَ الَّذِى أُوتِيتُ وَحْيًا أَوْحَى اللَّهُ إِلَىَّ فَأَرْجُو أَنْ أَكُونَ أَكْثَرَهُمْ تَابِعًا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ


    "There has not been a Prophet but he was given a miracle on the strength of which people could believe in him. I have been given the Revelation revealed to me as the miracle, and, consequently, I hope to have the largest number of followers on the Day of Judgment" (Manar).
    125. The textual word "bakhs" would include not only weighing less, but, by implication, all kinds of fraud such as theft, deceit, and various kinds of commercial and other malpractices (Razi).
    Alusi and Thanwi have pointed out that "bakhs" would also include withholding from a man of status what is rightfully due to him, of the nature of respect he deserves to be shown, concealment of his religious merits, and so forth, neglected because of a disease suffered by many "men of knowledge."
    126. Razi thinks that the "ordering" referred to is that of abundant provision made available to them by Allah. But Zamakhshari thinks the allusion is to the ‘order’ established by the previous Prophets.
    Also see note 89 above.

    وَلَا تَقْعُدُوا بِكُلِّ صِرَاطٍ تُوعِدُونَ وَتَصُدُّونَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ مَنْ آمَنَ بِهِ وَتَبْغُونَهَا عِوَجًا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا إِذْ كُنْتُمْ قَلِيلًا فَكَثَّرَكُمْ ۖ وَانْظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُفْسِدِينَ (86)

    7|86| And squat not in every path, threatening127 and hindering from Allah's way those who believe in Him,128 seeking to make it crooked.129 And recall when you were few, then He multiplied you; yet behold, what was the end of the corrupt people.

    127. There are two interpretations of the words, "And squat not on every road threatening:" First, it refers to those who rejected Shu`ayb, threatening to assault anyone who believed in him. Second, the reference is to their crime of waylaying people, for, they were robbers too (Ibn Jarir).
    128. The words, "And squat not on every road threatening and hindering from Allah's path those who have believed in Him," were perhaps never so well applicable to anyone, as they are applicable in our times to the anti Islamic forces within Muslim polity, who hold a pervert pen in their hand, and to the forces in non-Muslim polity, who hold a gun in their hand (Au.).
    129. These are the three ways by which the spread of truth is hindered: (i) threatening those who have embraced the truth with violence, (ii) preventing fresh ones from embracing it (e.g., by rewarding them for non acceptance), and (iii) endeavoring to prove it crooked unto the rest (Razi).

    وَإِنْ كَانَ طَائِفَةٌ مِنْكُمْ آمَنُوا بِالَّذِي أُرْسِلْتُ بِهِ وَطَائِفَةٌ لَمْ يُؤْمِنُوا فَاصْبِرُوا حَتَّىٰ يَحْكُمَ اللَّهُ بَيْنَنَا ۚ وَهُوَ خَيْرُ الْحَاكِمِينَ (87)

    7|87| And, if there be some among you, who have believed in what I have been sent with, while some others do not believe, then have patience until Allah judges between us. Indeed, He is the best of judges.'

    قَالَ الْمَلَأُ الَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا مِنْ قَوْمِهِ لَنُخْرِجَنَّكَ يَا شُعَيْبُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَكَ مِنْ قَرْيَتِنَا أَوْ لَتَعُودُنَّ فِي مِلَّتِنَا ۚ قَالَ أَوَلَوْ كُنَّا كَارِهِينَ (88)

    7|88| Said the chiefs of those of his people who waxed proud, ‘We shall surely expel you O Shu`ayb and your fellow believers from our town, or you should return to our religion.'130 He asked, ‘Even though we detest?

    130. The address was to Shu`ayb as well as his followers, of whom the latter had been on the religion of their people. However, if it is assumed that it was Shu`ayb alone who had been addressed, then, in the words of Majid: "A reference to the old faith in the case of the Prophet Shu`aib can only mean that he, before he began to preach, was taken for an infidel by his countrymen, and not that he was really so; for a Prophet according to the teachings of Islam can, at no period of his life, be an infidel."

    قَدِ افْتَرَيْنَا عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِبًا إِنْ عُدْنَا فِي مِلَّتِكُمْ بَعْدَ إِذْ نَجَّانَا اللَّهُ مِنْهَا ۚ وَمَا يَكُونُ لَنَا أَنْ نَعُودَ فِيهَا إِلَّا أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ رَبُّنَا ۚ وَسِعَ رَبُّنَا كُلَّ شَيْءٍ عِلْمًا ۚ عَلَى اللَّهِ تَوَكَّلْنَا ۚ رَبَّنَا افْتَحْ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَ قَوْمِنَا بِالْحَقِّ وَأَنْتَ خَيْرُ الْفَاتِحِينَ (89)

    7|89| We would have forged a lie against Allah if we returned to your religion after Allah delivered us from it. It is not for us to return to it131 unless our Lord were to so will.132 Our Lord embraces all things in His knowledge.133 In Allah we place our trust. O our Lord! You decide between us and our people by truth. You indeed are the best of those who decide.'134

    131. Sayyid Qutb writes: "So what has the contemporary jahiliyyah to say about the rightly guided ones? ... What has it to say about the woman who will not display her flesh? What has it to say about the young man who turns away in disgust from cheap flesh? The Jahiliyyah actually refers to the purity and chastity of the two as reactionary, backwardness, and stagnancy! It does everything possible through its media, press, and all means of communication, to bring them back and sink their purity and chastity into the mire in which it itself has sunk."
    132. Suddi has said that since Allah (swt) does not approve of shirk, there was no chance that they should be returned to paganism (Ibn Jarir).
    Some others have said that the words in question are in the same vein as someone saying: "I will not do it unless the raven turns white," meaning, since the raven will not turn white, I am not going to do it.
    Another implication is: "Our faith in Allah is so strong that there is no power unless it was the power of Allah Himself that can force us abandon our religion" (Au.).
    133. Jiba'i has been reported as explaining the meaning as: "If Allah willed, He could place some wisdom in the devotion to the deities since ‘our Lord embraces all things with His knowledge,' and, following that, He would order us to serve them, in which case, of course, we would comply" (Razi).
    134. Sayyid Qutb heavily comes down on non Islamic systems. Here are a few selected passages: "The pain and suffering that accompany an exit from the submission to false gods and entry into that of the true God, however enormous it may be, is yet much lesser and lighter in comparison to the pain and suffering that one has to undergo remaining submitted to the false gods. The pain and suffering contained in submission to the false gods are simply monstrous however attractive the apparent peace, security and tranquility in life, and however abundant the material means. Those pains and sufferings are slow, but long and continuous. The pain is that of the loss of the human ness of humanity, for, in this system, a man is a slave of another man. And what slavery can be worse than that of a man bending down to the laws made for him by another man? What slavery is worse than that of a man whose wishes have to follow the wishes of another man? Of someone who is dependent upon approval and disapproval of another man? What slavery is worse than that a man's reins be in control of another who makes him dance to his tunes?
    "The matter does not rest there. People in this kind of slavery sink to greater and greater depths. The powers over them extends with time to, ultimately, some people controlling the finances of another people so that there is no law and no fence by which wealth could be kept out of their reach. The system also takes over the children, bringing them up the way it will devoid of character, morals, values, traditions, and the right concepts, apart from its hegemony over their souls and their everyday lives. It slaughters them at the altars of its carnal desires. Then it lays the foundations of its own power and glory over their skulls and corpses. Ultimately, it becomes the sole master of their honor too so that a father cannot prevent his daughter being sexually exploited by the administrators and perpetrators of the ungodly system: either through outright abduction, as has been happening throughout human history, or, through corruption of their moral values so that they are readily available for everyone's pleasure, preparing them for prostitution under some disguise... Whoever imagines that he, his wealth, his honor, his life and the life of his children are safe under the Satanic system he lives in, is either in a state of delusion, or has lost his sensibilities."
    Sayyid's criticism of the non Divine systems as those in which even people's honor is not safe, is, going by historical facts, quite mild. What has actually happened throughout human history would require coinage of new words to describe the horrors. As recently as at the end of the 20th century, 50,000 women were systematically raped by the Christians in Bosnia. Muslim girls as young as thirteen were made to dance naked on table tops to the guffaws of the Christian soldiers around. It might not be said, in reply, that it was an abnormal situation. Far from that, it was a perfectly normal situation for the rest of the Christian world watching the systematic humiliation over the T.V. screens. The normalcy is recorded by the fact that they did nothing to stop it. In fact, the British diplomat sent to work out a peace formula was widely believed to have intentionally delayed it, if not made it impossible to happen. So, it was a perfectly normal situation for them. And, the victims in this case were not foreign to the Western culture. They related themselves to the West and Western culture. So, what the West did to them, was not because they were Muslims, although that was one of the factors, but because women are no worthier than that in its value system.
    That was followed by inhuman behavior towards women in Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq. A sixteen year old girl was brought in, and systematically rented for 50 dollars to the American soldiers until she committed suicide. Some British soldiers made horses of women of advanced age, and rode on them in the prison corridors. They have a clever way of doing things. First they do what they want, until exposed. As soon as they are exposed, they say they are sorry about it, and transfer a couple of soldiers away from the crime scenes. Then, after a time, they are back at it.
    However, apart from these glorious events in the annals of Western civilization, going back just a century, we come across other horrors practiced in the name of religion. The practice of the Hindu priestly class in the Indian sub continent is a case in point. The Brahmin class had sexual access to every Sudra woman in certain regions of the state of Kerala until the turn of this century. According to some social scientists, the practice of offering a Sudra girl to a Brahmin, for a few nights immediately after marriage, before her nuptial relationship with her husband begins, still survives in certain remote areas of the Southern Indian state: "Another custom peculiar to the Nayar community is ‘sambandam.' Sambandam is cohabitation of Nayar women with Namboodri Brahmins without marriage. A Namboodri being the direct representation of God, his ‘sambandam' with Nayar women is considered to be sacred and divine. If the Namboodri is pleased, God is pleased..." ('Matrilineal System Among Malayalis,' by K.T.Parampil, Caravan, New Delhi, Sept. '67). These practices can be traced back to religious commandments. Manu Shastra, for instance, the most authoritative Law Book of the Hindus, states: "The Brahmin (the priestly caste) can misappropriate the property of the Shudra (low caste Hindus) without hesitation because the latter owns nothing. All his property belongs to his master, that is, the Brahmin" (Manu, 8: 417). The teachings in fact can be traced back to thousands of years old Hindu Scriptures: "Vishnu has said, ‘If a Shudra offers his life, property and wife to the Brahmin, it can be accepted'" (Vishnu, 5:11). Refer to article "Priesthood Holds Progress to Ransom" by Ratan Lal Bansal, Caravan, Jan. 67. Our point here, however, is not the mere criticism of the systems in question, rather to point out, firstly, that in their entire history, if in their wars the Muslims remained quite humane, in peace time too they allowed their populations, Muslim and non Muslim alike, fair amount of freedom to shape their own lives, without coercing them, directly or indirectly, into subservience and slavery to the political or religious classes. Although far from being truly Islamic, the systematic exploitation of the masses has never been the working principle of the states the Muslims set up anywhere in the globe, anytime in history. Secondly, it is to assert that Sayyid Qutb was not at all being an extemist when he criticized the jahiliyy systems in harsh terms (Au.).

    وَقَالَ الْمَلَأُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ قَوْمِهِ لَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتُمْ شُعَيْبًا إِنَّكُمْ إِذًا لَخَاسِرُونَ (90)

    7|90| Said the chiefs of those of his people who had disbelieved, ‘If you follow Shu`ayb, surely, you will be the losers.'135

    135. Mawdudi comments: "One should not pass cursorily over the short sentence without reflection. What the leaders of Midian in effect told their people was that Shu`ayb's exhortations to practice honesty and righteousness, and to strictly adhere to moral values, would spell their disaster. They implied that they could not succeed in the business carried on by the people of Midian if they were totally honest and straightforward in their dealings...
    "Such attitudes have not, however, been confined to the tribal chiefs of Shu`ayb. People who stray away from truth, honesty, and righteousness, regardless of their age and clime, have always found in honesty a means of great loss. People of warped mentalities in every age have always believed that trade, politics, and other worldly pursuits can never flourish unless resorted to dishonest and immoral practices. Their main objection to the Message of truth in all ages has been that the pursuit of truth spells material doom."

    فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ الرَّجْفَةُ فَأَصْبَحُوا فِي دَارِهِمْ جَاثِمِينَ (91)

    7|91| Whereupon an earthquake seized them and by morning they lay fallen prostrate in their dwellings.136

    136. The Qur'an has reported several kinds of punishments that visited the people of Madyan. Here it is said that they were destroyed by an earthquake. At another place (11: 94) it is stated that they were destroyed by a huge cry. In yet another place (26: 189) it said that they were seized by the "chastisement of the Day of Shadow." In explanation, some commentators have said that the allusion is to separate instances, involving two people: one, of Madyan and the other, of Aykah. Others have thought that it was one nation destroyed by several kinds of chastisement descending upon them together. For example, Ibn `Abbas has said that before their destruction Allah sent down severe heat that left the unbelievers restless in their homes. Then, after a couple of days a piece of cloud appeared in the sky casting its cooling shadow on the land. People gathered under it for relief. When they had all gathered thereunder, the earth shook and a huge cry seized them so that, moments later, they all lay dead. If this version is accepted then Thanwi points out the textual word "Dar" would have to be understood (not in the sense of dwellings, rather) in the sense of "the land," as in the Arabic terms, "Dar al Islam," "Dar al Harb," etc. It cannot also be ruled out, adds Shafi`, that various tribes (spread over a vast area) received various kinds of punishments.

    الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا شُعَيْبًا كَأَنْ لَمْ يَغْنَوْا فِيهَا ۚ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا شُعَيْبًا كَانُوا هُمُ الْخَاسِرِينَ (92)

    7|92| As if those who had rejected Shu`ayb never flourished therein. Those who rejected Shu`ayb, they were the losers.137

    137. According to Thanwi, the verse should be rendered as: "As if those who had rejected Shu`ayb (and threatened to expel him from the town, had themselves) never flourished in those (towns). Those who rejected Shu`ayb, (and had told the believers that they would be the losers) ... (themselves) ended up the losers."
    (Although some commentators believe that the people of Madyan and the As hab al Aykah were one and the same: Au.), Ibn `Asakir and Ibn Is haq have reported `Ikrimah and Suddi of the opinion that Shu`ayb was the only Prophet to be sent to two nations. He was first sent to the people of Madyan. When they rejected they were destroyed by a terrible cry. Thereafter, he was sent to the people of Aykah (the word means "forest": Shafi`), who also rejected him and were destroyed when Allah (swt) seized them on the "day of the shelter (yawm al zullah)" Shawkani.
    Ibn `Asakir has another report from Ibn `Abbas to the effect that the Masjid al Haram has no more than two graves: one that of Isma`il, which is in Hijr and the other of Shu`ayb which is in front of the Hajr al Aswad (Shawkani). However, to the writer's knowledge, the authenticity of the report has not been checked, nor it is there in any known hadith collection (Au.).

    فَتَوَلَّىٰ عَنْهُمْ وَقَالَ يَا قَوْمِ لَقَدْ أَبْلَغْتُكُمْ رِسَالَاتِ رَبِّي وَنَصَحْتُ لَكُمْ ۖ فَكَيْفَ آسَىٰ عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ كَافِرِينَ (93)

    7|93| He turned away from them saying, ‘My people. Surely, I conveyed to you the messages of my Lord and sincerely counseled you. How should I then grieve for an unbelieving people?'138

    138. The choice of the phrase "an unbelieving people" (in the words "How should I then grieve for an unbelieving people"), instead of the simpler, "How should I grieve for the unbelievers," have the message hidden that the mass of the unbelievers in question did not deserve to be shown any mercy (Alusi, Thanwi).

    وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِي قَرْيَةٍ مِنْ نَبِيٍّ إِلَّا أَخَذْنَا أَهْلَهَا بِالْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَضَّرَّعُونَ (94)

    7|94| And We sent no Prophet to a city but We seized its inhabitants with suffering and adversity, that haply they might learn to be humble.

    ثُمَّ بَدَّلْنَا مَكَانَ السَّيِّئَةِ الْحَسَنَةَ حَتَّىٰ عَفَوْا وَقَالُوا قَدْ مَسَّ آبَاءَنَا الضَّرَّاءُ وَالسَّرَّاءُ فَأَخَذْنَاهُمْ بَغْتَةً وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ (95)

    7|95| Then We substituted evil with good, till they multiplied (in numbers)139 and said, ‘Surely, adversity and happiness visited our forefathers (too).'140 So We seized them on a sudden,141 unawares.142

    139. The rendering of the word "`afaw" herewith is based on the understanding of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Suddi and others as in Ibn Jarir.
    140. This is in contrast to a believer's attitude about whom the Prophet said:


    عَجَبًا لأَمْرِ الْمُؤْمِنِ إِنَّ أَمْرَهُ كُلَّهُ خَيْرٌ وَلَيْسَ ذَاكَ لأَحَدٍ إِلاَّ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ إِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ سَرَّاءُ شَكَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ ضَرَّاءُ صَبَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُ


    "It is delightfully amazing of a Muslim that all his affairs turn out to be good for him – and this is for none but a true believer. If he is bestowed with good he gives thanks and it proves good for him. If he is struck with adversities, he observes patience and it proves good for him." (Ibn Kathir).
    The hadith is in Muslim (Hussain b. Ibrahim).
    141. A hadith says:


    موت الفجأة رحمة للمؤمن وأخذة أسف للكافر


    "Sudden death is mercy for the believer and a grievous seizing for the unbeliever" (Ibn Kathir).
    The hadith is in Abu Da'ud and Ahmad (Hussain b. Ibrahim).
    142. That is, they were totally unaware of the measures that Allah (swt) takes against the corrupt (Alusi, modified).
    Mawdudi adds: "It should be noted that the above rule (of ease and adversity: Au.) which was applied to the nations of the previous Prophets, was also applied in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). When this surah was revealed the Quraysh displayed exactly the same characteristics and attitudes as those nations which had earlier been destroyed. According to a tradition narrated by both `Abd Allah b. Mas`ud and `Abd Allah b. `Abbas (Bukhari), as the Quraysh grew in defiance to the Prophet's call, he prayed to God that he might be assisted by inflicting famine on the Quraysh, as in the days of the Prophet Joseph. Accordingly, God subjected the Quraysh to such a severe famine that they took to subsisting on carcasses, the skins of animals, bones , and wool. Unnerved by this the Quraysh, led by Abu Sufyan, implored the Prophet (peace on him) to pray to God on their behalf. But when the Prophet's prayer helped to improve the situation somewhat, the Quraysh reverted to their arrogant and ignorant ways."

    وَلَوْ أَنَّ أَهْلَ الْقُرَىٰ آمَنُوا وَاتَّقَوْا لَفَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ بَرَكَاتٍ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَلَٰكِنْ كَذَّبُوا فَأَخَذْنَاهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ (96)

    7|96| Yet, had the inhabitants of the cities believed and feared (Allah), surely, We would have opened blessings of the heaven and earth upon them; but they cried lies, so We seized them for what they were earning.143

    143. The verse proves by implication that obedience to Allah's commands has a say in the descending down of worldly blessings and, conversely, sinning against Him, has a say in the descending down of worldly tragedies (Thanwi).

    أَفَأَمِنَ أَهْلُ الْقُرَىٰ أَنْ يَأْتِيَهُمْ بَأْسُنَا بَيَاتًا وَهُمْ نَائِمُونَ (97)

    7|97| Do the inhabitants of the city feel secure that Our punishment shall come upon them at night, while they are asleep?

    أَوَأَمِنَ أَهْلُ الْقُرَىٰ أَنْ يَأْتِيَهُمْ بَأْسُنَا ضُحًى وَهُمْ يَلْعَبُونَ (98)

    7|98| Do the people of the city feel secure that Our punishment shall come upon them in broad daylight while they are in their playful activities?144

    144. Their engagement in useless pursuits has been equated with playful acts (Zamakhshari).
    Sayyid Qutb writes: "Allah's scourge is too harsh to make any difference, whether it took the people while they were awake or asleep, playing or in useful activities. But the Qur'an presents it in a manner as to touch upon the soul, in order that the warning reaches home."

    أَفَأَمِنُوا مَكْرَ اللَّهِ ۚ فَلَا يَأْمَنُ مَكْرَ اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ (99)

    7|99| Do they feel secure against Allah's devising?145 Lo, none feels secure against Allah's devising but a people (destined to be) the losers.146

    145. "’Makrallah’ signifies God's granting a man respite or delay, and enabling him to accomplish his worldly aims ... or His taking men little by little, so that they do not reckon upon it (LL)" Majid.
    Hasan al-Busri has said: "A believer devotes himself to good deeds but is fearful that they might not be accepted of him. In contrast, a corrupt person commits sins but feels himself secure" (Ibn Kathir).
    According to the Shafe`iyyah, to feel secure from Allah's makr and to be despondent of His mercy are both major sins (Alusi). Thanwi adds: Some others have said that the two are kufr (and not simply major sins). Perhaps what is meant is, taking them in the sense of believing Allah incapable of punishment on a sudden, or sending down His mercy at will. That would amount to kufr (Au.).
    146. In addition to the opinions in the above note, a hadith in Bazzar and Ibn Abi Hatim counts "feeling of security from Allah's devising" as the greatest of the great sins. The explanation is, if one feels secure because he thinks that Allah is incapable of punishing him, then that is the greatest of the Great Sins (Alusi).
    Rashid Rida laments the contemporary Muslim situation: "With the Book of Allah in their hands, it would have been proper for the Muslims to fear Him in the manner deserving of Him and give some thought to the reasons of destruction of nations and their empires before them. That would have led them to the point that as against the transgressions of a few individuals, those of nations are not so easily forgiven. But, unfortunately, Muslims do not, to start with, accord these kind of verses, dealing with these kind of truths, the right interpretation. Their another failure is to draw proper inferences and lessons from the rules laid down in such verses. If they read them at all, they indulge its grammar, or syntax, or use them as a platform for debating the superiority of this or that school of law. Alternatively, they believe that these verses are specifically dealing with the unbelievers. They denounce those who tell them that these verses are equally applicable to Muslims. That is what the people of the Book used to say about other nations of their time. They thought that Allah would defend some nations simply because He had raised Prophets among them and that He would bestow upon them successes of this as well as the next world because of their special "position" among the nations, and not because of their obedience to their Prophets. This belief is now strongly saddled in the psyche of the Muslims too. Have these Muslims not given any thought to our Prophet's words, ‘(Surah) Hud and its sisters have hastened old age on me.'"
    The following appears in the footnote of Al Manar: The hadith referred to above is a Sahih report that can be found in Tabarani, Tirmidhi and Hakim. Ibn `Asakir has the Prophet's additional words, "And what was done to the nations before me."
    That is, the thought that his nation could be punished in a manner similar to the nation of Hud and other Prophets, weighed so heavily on the Prophet that it hastened old age on him. How fearful not then, should his Ummah be (Au.)?

    أَوَلَمْ يَهْدِ لِلَّذِينَ يَرِثُونَ الْأَرْضَ مِنْ بَعْدِ أَهْلِهَا أَنْ لَوْ نَشَاءُ أَصَبْنَاهُمْ بِذُنُوبِهِمْ ۚ وَنَطْبَعُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ فَهُمْ لَا يَسْمَعُونَ (100)

    7|100| Does it guide not those who inherit the earth after its inhabitants, that if We willed We could afflict them for their sins?147 But We set a seal upon their hearts, so that they do not hear.

    147. As Allah said elsewhere (6: 6):


    أَلَمْ يَرَوْا كَمْ أَهْلَكْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ مِنْ قَرْنٍ مَكَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَا لَمْ نُمَكِّنْ لَكُمْ وَأَرْسَلْنَا السَّمَاءَ عَلَيْهِمْ مِدْرَارًا وَجَعَلْنَا الْأَنْهَارَ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهِمْ فَأَهْلَكْنَاهُمْ بِذُنُوبِهِمْ وَأَنْشَأْنَا مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ قَرْنًا آخَرِينَ [الأنعام : 6]


    "Do they not see how many generations We destroyed before them whom We had established in the earth in a manner that We have not established you; We made the heavens pour down upon them rains (in torrents) and set rivers rolling beneath them. Yet, We destroyed them because of their sins and gave rise to other epochs after them" (Ibn Kathir).

    تِلْكَ الْقُرَىٰ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ مِنْ أَنْبَائِهَا ۚ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُمْ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَمَا كَانُوا لِيُؤْمِنُوا بِمَا كَذَّبُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَطْبَعُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِ الْكَافِرِينَ (101)

    7|101| Those are cities of which We narrate to you their tidings. Messengers brought them clear signs.148 But they were not such as to believe in what they had rejected earlier.149 That is how Allah seals the hearts of the unbelieving folks.

    148. This is another confirmation that every Prophet was given a miracle specific to him. As for the statement of the unbelievers (11: 53) to the effect "You have not brought us, O Hud, a clear sign," it was by way of rejection of the Sign that had actually been sent (Thanwi).
    149. There have been various speculations about whom the reference is to, and when was it that the rejection took place? Suddi believes it was at the time when Allah brought out the souls of Adam's progeny and asked them whether they believed in Him as their Lord. Some rejected Him then. Ubayy b. Ka`b and Rabi` believe they were in Allah's knowledge: unbelievers from the beginning. Yet Allah sent them Messengers in order that they are left with no excuse. Mujahid has said that the meaning is that, ‘had those nations returned to the earth for a second time, after their destruction, they would have still not believed.’ Ibn Jarir prefers this last opinion.
    However, Ibn Kathir's preference is Ibn `Atiyyah's statement to the effect that the reference is to the rejection that the unbelievers committed whenever their Prophets appeared among them. A hadith in Sahih Muslim reports Allah as saying:


    وَإِنِّي خَلَقْتُ عِبَادِي حُنَفَاءَ كُلَّهُمْ فَأَتَتْهُمُ الشَّيَاطِينُ فَاجْتَالَتْهُمْ عَنْ دِينِهِمْ


    "I created My slaves Hunafa' (believing in One God) but Shaytan deviated them from their religion and forbid them what I had made lawful unto them."
    Another hadith in the Sahihhayn says:


    كُلُّ مَوْلُودٍ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ أَوْ يُنَصِّرَانِهِ أَوْ يُمَجِّسَانِهِ


    "Every child is born on nature. It is its parents who Judaize it, Christianize it or Zoroastrize it."

    وَمَا وَجَدْنَا لِأَكْثَرِهِمْ مِنْ عَهْدٍ ۖ وَإِنْ وَجَدْنَا أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَفَاسِقِينَ (102)

    7|102| And, We did not find in most of them (any regard for) the covenant.150 Indeed, We found most of them defiantly disobedient.

    150. While Ibn `Abbas thinks that the textual word "`ahd" is in the sense of being able to respond to admonitions in the right spirit, Ubayy b. Ka`b's preference is that it refers to the covenant that was taken from them at the beginning of the affair, before creation, that is, in the world of Spirits (Ibn Jarir).
    Rashid Rida writes: Raghib has said that Allah's covenant sometimes refers to what resides in our minds, sometimes to what the Qur'an and Sunnah command us, and sometimes to what one imposes upon himself, although not declared obligatory by the Shari`ah, such as to vow to do something. And when he says, Rashid Rida adds, that Allah's covenant resides in our minds, he is referring to the nature on which every human being is created (believing in one God).
    Mawdudi adds: "The statement that ‘We did not find most of them true to their covenants' signifies the general propensity of the people not to honor their commitments. They are neither faithful to the primordial covenant which they made with God (see al A`raf: 172) which is binding on every mortal as God's servant and creature, nor faithful to the collective covenant which is binding on every human being as a member of the human fraternity. Nor are men generally faithful to the commitments which they make to God in hours of distress or in moments when their moral instincts are awake and astir. Violation of any of these covenants has been termed fisq (transgression)."

    ثُمَّ بَعَثْنَا مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ مُوسَىٰ بِآيَاتِنَا إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ وَمَلَئِهِ فَظَلَمُوا بِهَا ۖ فَانْظُرْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُفْسِدِينَ (103)

    7|103| Then, after them,151 We sent Musa with Our signs to Fir`awn152 and his chiefs. But they acted wrongfully therewith. Therefore, see what was the end of those who were corrupt.

    151. "The stories narrated in the Qur'an bring home unmistakably the point that people who reject God's Message are not spared; rather they are destroyed. In narrating at length the story of Moses, Pharaoh and the Israelites, the Qur'an provides some important lessons for the unbelieving Quraysh, the Jews, and also the believers.
    "The Quraysh are advised that the apparently large differences in the numerical strength of the forces of truth and falsehood in the early phase of the Islamic movement should not lead them to entertain any kind of illusion. History provides ample testimony that the Message of truth has always had a very humble beginning. That its proponent, initially, is in the hopelessly small minority of one; in fact, one in the whole world. He then proceeds, despite his resourcelessness, to challenge the hegemony of falsehood, to declare war against it, despite the fact that falsehood is backed by powerful states and empires. And ultimately the truth triumphs. The Quraysh are also reminded that all conspiracies hatched against the Prophet and all the means employed to suppress the Message of truth are ultimately foiled. They are further told that God grants long terms of respite to the evil doing nations so that they might mend their ways and reform themselves. But when they persistently disregard all warnings and learn no lesson from instructive events, He smites them with an exemplary punishment" (Mawdudi).
    152. Like Najashi for the king of Habasha, Kisra for the king of Persia, Tubba` for the king of Yemen, or Qaysar for the king of Rome, Fir`awn was the title of the king of the Amalekites who once ruled Egypt (Alusi and others).
    Majid writes: "It is to be observed that the holy Qur'an never mentions the Egyptian king (or kings) by name. It only uses his general designation, viz., Pharaoh. Now the fact is, as ‘it has long ago been noted by many Egyptologists that in the Egyptian literature it was customary to speak of the king as "Pharaoh" without mentioning his name. By a great number of examples from the Egyptian literature it can be found that it was precisely in the New Kingdom (1500 945 B.C.) that the proper name of the king was given only in solemn inscriptions or in purely historical records...even in royal edicts, in judicial reports and in general records, the king is simply alluded to as "Pharaoh"' (Yehuda, Accuracy of the Bible, p. 42)."
    Rashid Rida writes: Musa (asws) was primarily sent to the Children of Israel, and secondarily to Fir`awn and his nation. You might say that the sending to the Children of Israel was the main objective, while to Fir`awn and his hosts, a means of accomplishment of that objective.

    وَقَالَ مُوسَىٰ يَا فِرْعَوْنُ إِنِّي رَسُولٌ مِنْ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (104)

    7|104| Musa said, ‘O Fir`awn! I am indeed a Messenger of the Lord of the worlds.

    حَقِيقٌ عَلَىٰ أَنْ لَا أَقُولَ عَلَى اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْحَقَّ ۚ قَدْ جِئْتُكُمْ بِبَيِّنَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ فَأَرْسِلْ مَعِيَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ (105)

    7|105| It is right (of me) that I should not speak on behalf of Allah except the truth. I have brought you a clear sign from your Lord.153 Therefore, let go with me the Children of Israel.'154

    153. "Mark the words ‘your Lord.' The Qur'anic God is the Universal God, the God of Egyptians as well as of the Israelites, and not the Biblical God ‘the Lord God of the Hebrews'" (Majid).
    154. Yusuf Ali writes (under verse 136): "Where was the Council of Pharaoh held in which Moses addressed Pharaoh? Egypt's primary capital in the XVIIIth Dynasty was Thebes (=Not Ammon), but that was more than 400 miles to the south of the Delta, in whose corner Israel dwelt. Memphis, on the apex of the Delta, a little south of where Cairo is now, was also over 100 miles from Israel's habitations. The interview must have been either in a Palace near Goshen, where the Israelites dwelt, or in Zoan (=Tanis), the Deltaic capital built by a former dynasty, which was of course still available for the reigning dynasty, and which was not far from the Israelite settlement."

    قَالَ إِنْ كُنْتَ جِئْتَ بِآيَةٍ فَأْتِ بِهَا إِنْ كُنْتَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ (106)

    7|106| He replied, ‘If you have brought a sign, produce it, if you are truthful.'

    فَأَلْقَىٰ عَصَاهُ فَإِذَا هِيَ ثُعْبَانٌ مُبِينٌ (107)

    7|107| So he cast down his staff and lo, it was a serpent155 plain (to sight).156

    155. Tho`ban of the original is for a very large snake, a python. But, although it was so huge, its movements were as fast as that of a slender snake. Hence its description elsewhere as "jaann" which is for a small, fast moving snake. It is also possible that with each throw Musa's staff acquired different shapes, sizes, and forms (Alusi).
    Majid writes: "Wrong and confused as usual, the Bible attributes this miracle, when performed before Pharaoh, not to Moses but to Aaron. The serpent has a special prominence in Egyptian mythology and symbolism. ‘Of all the animals receiving the homage of the people' none were so numerous or were so universally feared and venerated as the snakes. The serpent was adored where Amon was but a name, and where Ra was looked upon as belonging, like fine horses and clothes, to the rich and the mighty.' (Syce, Religion of Ancient Egypt, p. 208)."
    Yusuf Ali adds: "The serpent played a large part in Egyptian mythology. The great sun god Ra won a great victory over the serpent Apophis, typifying the victory of light over darkness. Many of their gods and goddesses took the forms of snakes to impress their foes with terror. Moses' rod as a type of a serpent at once appealed to the Egyptian mentality. The concept which the Egyptians had entertained in their minds before was converted into terror. Here was one who could control the reptile which their great god Ra himself had such difficulty in overcoming!"
    156. (The word "plain [to sight]” was added to emphasize that it was not a make believe thing): rather, something real to the observers (Zamakhshari).
    Mawdudi comments: "Those who tend to play down the supernatural character of such signs or miracles, and who try to explain them in terms of natural laws of causation, in fact attempt to build mid way house between the believing and disbelieving in the statements of the Qur'an. Such an approach can hardly be considered reasonable. What it does demonstrate, however, is how such people can be pulled in two opposite directions. On the one hand, they are not inclined to believe in a Book which abounds in narrations of a supernatural kind. On the other hand, being born followers of their ancestral religion, they are not inclined to reject the Book which carries supernatural narrations.
    "With regard to miracles, there are two basic questions that people should ask themselves. Did God, after creating the universe and establishing a system of natural causation therein, suspend Himself such that it is no longer possible for Him to interfere in the workings of the universe? Or does He still hold the reins in His own Hands so that His command is enforced every moment, and He retains the power to alter the shape of things and the normal course of events either partially or fully as and when He wills?"

    وَنَزَعَ يَدَهُ فَإِذَا هِيَ بَيْضَاءُ لِلنَّاظِرِينَ (108)

    7|108| And he drew out his hand and lo, it was shining bright to the onlookers.157

    157. It is reported that Musa (asws) would draw out his hand from his breast pocket and it would be shining bright but not as the hand of a leper (as in Exodus vi, 6: Asad). And when he re inserted it in his pocket, it would regain its normalcy (Ibn Kathir and others).
    The word "onlookers" implies that the hand attracted attention of the onlookers, who thronged around to have a closer look at its splendor, especially so because Musa himself was dark brown complexion (Zamakhshari).
    Yusuf Ali writes: "... the second Sign displayed by Moses was even more puzzling to the Egyptians. Moses drew out his hand from the fold of the garments on his breast, and it was white and shining ... This was to counter any suggestion of evil, which the serpent might have created. This was no work of evil, of black magic, or a trick or illusion. His hand was transfigured with a light which no Egyptian sorcerer could produce."

    قَالَ الْمَلَأُ مِنْ قَوْمِ فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَسَاحِرٌ عَلِيمٌ (109)

    7|109| Said the chiefs of the people of Fir`awn,158 ‘This indeed is a skilled magician.

    158. Majid quotes: ‘The priests and military men held the highest position in the country after the family of the King, and from them were chosen his ministers and confidential advisers,' "the wise counsellors of Pharaoh" (HHW: I. p. 200).

    يُرِيدُ أَنْ يُخْرِجَكُمْ مِنْ أَرْضِكُمْ ۖ فَمَاذَا تَأْمُرُونَ (110)

    7|110| He plans to drive you out of your kingdom.159 So, what do you recommend?'160

    159. Sayyid Qutb comments: "This was the fear that Fir`awn and his counselors felt in the wake of the message .. and this is how the rebels of every age feel threatened. We might at this point recall what a bedouin had remarked in a set of neat words when he heard the Prophet invite the people to bear testimony to Allah's oneness and to his own messengership. He had said: ‘These are words that the kings despise.' Another bedouin also in a neat set of words quipped: ‘If that is so then the Arabs and the non Arabs will declare war on you.' The two Arabs knew the implication of the call. They knew that the testimony: ‘there is no god save Allah,' falls like a hammer-blow on the heads of the kings and rulers who rule not by the Law of Allah be they Arabs or non Arabs. The testimony touched the Arabs' psyche with gravity, for they knew their language well enough. There was not one among them who thought that the testimony ‘there is no god save Allah,' and rule by the laws of other than Allah, could be brought to dwell together in the heart of a man, or on any single piece of land ... that there could be any other deity where belief in Allah was established. There was not anyone then who would understand the meaning and implication of the testimony ‘there is no god save Allah' as understood today by those who call themselves Muslims."
    160. It has been said that this sentence is from Fir`awn. That is, when they expressed their concern, he asked them for advice on the course of action (Ibn Jarir).
    Mawdudi comments: "The above account raises the question as to how a destitute member of the slave Israeli nation could pose such a serious threat to an emperor as mighty as Pharaoh. This is especially so when one considers that Pharaoh was not only an absolute ruler over the territory which stretched in one direction from Syria to Libya and in the other direction from the Mediterranean coast to Ethiopia, but was even considered a deity deserving of worship... The answer lies in the fact that Moses's claim to prophethood implied the call to total change, obviously including political change. For, if a person lays claim to be God's Messenger, it implies that people obey him unreservedly. For God's Messengers are not sent to the world to obey other human beings and live in subordination to them... It is this which explains why Pharaoh and his coterie felt threatened by an all out revolution political, economic and social when Moses came forth with his call."
    The immediate threat, of course, was to their economy. The Israelites were in tens of thousands, deployed in homes, farms, fields and industries. Their sudden freedom or departure from the Kingdom, spelled doom to its economy. Pharaoh and his counselors could not have failed to imagine the impact (Au.).

    قَالُوا أَرْجِهْ وَأَخَاهُ وَأَرْسِلْ فِي الْمَدَائِنِ حَاشِرِينَ (111)

    7|111| They suggested, ‘Keep him and his brother (Harun) in waiting; and send across the cities musterers,161

    161. The words "send across the cities musterers" suggest that every magician of some merit was brought to the capital, implying that several thousands of them must have gathered (Razi).

    يَأْتُوكَ بِكُلِّ سَاحِرٍ عَلِيمٍ (112)

    7|112| To summon every knowledgeable magician to your presence.'162

    162. Majid quotes once again: "Egypt was then ‘the true home of all kinds of magic' (EBi.c. 1221)."
    Yusuf Ali writes: "The advice of the Council to Pharaoh shows a misreading of the situation. They were in a panic about what the magic of this evidently powerful sorcerer could do against them. So they advised the Pharaoh to summon their most powerful sorcerers from all over the country, and in the meantime to hold Moses and Aaron to suspense, neither to yield to them nor definitely oppose them."

    وَجَاءَ السَّحَرَةُ فِرْعَوْنَ قَالُوا إِنَّ لَنَا لَأَجْرًا إِنْ كُنَّا نَحْنُ الْغَالِبِينَ (113)

    7|113| (When they had gathered), the magicians went up to Fir`awn and asked, ‘Shall we have a reward if we should be the victors?'163

    163. Asad writes: "The particle la preceding the noun ajr ("reward") indicates an emphasis which gives to this combination the meaning of "great reward."
    Yusuf Ali comments: "Their (the magicians') art was built on trickery and imposture, and the first thing they could think of was to make a selfish bargain for themselves. The Pharaoh and his Council would in their state of panic agree to anything. And so they did."

    قَالَ نَعَمْ وَإِنَّكُمْ لَمِنَ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ (114)

    7|114| He replied, ‘Yes, indeed, and you shall be amongst those nearest (to me).'164

    164. Ibn `Abbas has been reported as saying that when the magicians were collected from all over the kingdom, they enquired about the kind of magic Musa performed. When they learnt that his rod became a snake, they repaired to a city called "Furma" which housed an institute of magic. There they received special training in converting rods to snakes. When they returned they assured Fir`awn that, unless a miracle from God Himself intervened, there was no one in the earth who could beat them in turning rods into snakes (Ibn Jarir).

    قَالُوا يَا مُوسَىٰ إِمَّا أَنْ تُلْقِيَ وَإِمَّا أَنْ نَكُونَ نَحْنُ الْمُلْقِينَ (115)

    7|115| They said, ‘Musa. Either you cast (your staff) or we shall (be the first to) cast.'165

    165. The Sufiya have said that the magicians showed respect to Musa by asking him this question and were duly rewarded by Allah who led them to faith (Razi).

    قَالَ أَلْقُوا ۖ فَلَمَّا أَلْقَوْا سَحَرُوا أَعْيُنَ النَّاسِ وَاسْتَرْهَبُوهُمْ وَجَاءُوا بِسِحْرٍ عَظِيمٍ (116)

    7|116| He said, ‘You cast.' So, when they cast, they cast a spell on the people's eye and struck terror into them. Indeed, they produced a mighty work of magic.166

    166. It is said that they turned up in thousands, everyone armed with ropes, rods, staffs, and so forth. They threw in all that they had and lo, they appeared to the people as snakes, the whole ground teeming with them in a dreadful sight (Ibn Jarir).

    وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ مُوسَىٰ أَنْ أَلْقِ عَصَاكَ ۖ فَإِذَا هِيَ تَلْقَفُ مَا يَأْفِكُونَ (117)

    7|117| We revealed to Musa, ‘Cast your staff.' And lo! It began to swallow what they had faked.167

    167. When Musa's snake had systematically swallowed their snakes, one after another, he picked it up and it turned back into his staff (Ibn Jarir).

    فَوَقَعَ الْحَقُّ وَبَطَلَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ (118)

    7|118| Thus the truth came to pass and of no effect was that which they were doing.

    فَغُلِبُوا هُنَالِكَ وَانْقَلَبُوا صَاغِرِينَ (119)

    7|119| Vanquished then and there, they turned back humbled.168

    168. The verse is speaking of Fir`awn and his folk (and not of the magicians) Ibn Jarir.

    وَأُلْقِيَ السَّحَرَةُ سَاجِدِينَ (120)

    7|120| And the magicians were thrown into prostration.

    قَالُوا آمَنَّا بِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (121)

    7|121| They cried out, ‘We believe in the Lord of the worlds.169

    169. (Skilled magicians themselves) they realized that what Musa had performed could only have heavenly power behind it (since, otherwise, the ropes, staffs, etc., should not have disappeared altogether: Zamakhshari). Therefore, they were involuntarily thrown into prostration and belief in the Lord God to whom Musa had invited them Ibn `Abbas (Ibn Jarir).
    Compare them, Hasan al Busri has said, with those born and brought up as Muslims, who sell their religion for a paltry price (Zamakhshari).
    Imam Razi has said that the verse demonstrates, as many commentators have pointed out, the superiority of knowledge. Had not the magicians been fully knowledgeable, they would have never embraced the faith. Incomplete in the knowledge of magic, they would have remained doubting Musa's miracle as another kind of magic, albeit a superior one. How virtuous not then, asks Razi, the knowledge of Tawhid?

    رَبِّ مُوسَىٰ وَهَارُونَ (122)

    7|122| Lord of Musa and Harun.'170

    170. It is said that when they said, "We believed in the Lord of the worlds," Fir`awn asked, "Do you mean I?" They replied, "(Not you, but) the Lord of Musa and Harun" (Razi).

    قَالَ فِرْعَوْنُ آمَنْتُمْ بِهِ قَبْلَ أَنْ آذَنَ لَكُمْ ۖ إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَمَكْرٌ مَكَرْتُمُوهُ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ لِتُخْرِجُوا مِنْهَا أَهْلَهَا ۖ فَسَوْفَ تَعْلَمُونَ (123)

    7|123| Fir`awn asked, ‘Have you believed in him before I gave you leave?171 Surely, this is a conspiracy that you devised together in the city in order to expel its people from it.172 But you shall soon know.

    171. Sayyid Qutb writes: "Such then was the response... ‘Have you believed in him before I gave you leave?' .. As if they were bound to take his permission before opening their hearts to the truth. As if they did not own their hearts... Did he think that they should seek his permission for their hearts to tremble? when they themselves had no control over them? .. Should they have sought his leave that their hearts be filled with light? .. when they themselves had no power over their hearts? .. Or, were they required to suppress the faith that was growing in their hearts? .. Or trample down upon a conviction rising from the depths of their souls? Or, were they required to veil the light that was radiating from their faith?
    "But the problem is that those who rebel against God are ignorant, idiotic, and abstruse while at the same time they are presumptuous, proud, and conceited."
    172. Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas and several others have said that back in the city, before the contest, Musa had asked the chief of the magicians whether he would embrace the truth if he lost the contest. The man irritably replied, "By God. I will put forward a feat of magic tomorrow that no one will be able to overcome. Yes, to be sure. If you can overcome, I will believe in you." Fir`awn was a witness to the conversation and was referring to it when he alleged that the two had conspired against him (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    لَأُقَطِّعَنَّ أَيْدِيَكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ مِنْ خِلَافٍ ثُمَّ لَأُصَلِّبَنَّكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ (124)

    7|124| I shall at once cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides and then I shall crucify you all together.'173

    173. "Pharaoh and his Court were doubly angry: first because they were made to look small when confronted by the power of Allah, and secondly, because their dupes and instruments were snatched away from them" (Yusuf Ali).

    قَالُوا إِنَّا إِلَىٰ رَبِّنَا مُنْقَلِبُونَ (125)

    7|125| They replied, ‘Surely, to our Lord we shall be returning.174

    174. Sayyid comments: "This was a decisive point in the history of humankind when the impoverishment of materialism was demonstrated. This little group ... a moment ago looking for rewards from Fir`awn, and seeking nearness to power .. this little group has now risen above Fir`awn .. it belittles the threats of violence against it .. accepts the news of crucifixion with cool courage .. and, the interesting point is, nothing has altered in their lives .. nothing has changed around them – that is, in the physical world. But a subtle contact took place, the contact that relates the lone star to the galaxy, and pulls back a flying particle to place it in a fixed orbit .. that connects the mortal with the Eternal .. That specific touch took place which works upon the indicator, after which the heart begins to work in a rhythm .. the inner self begins to hear the echoes of guidance .. and the sight begins to pick up the radiance of light. That contact took place which does not wait for any change in the physical world, rather, it causes changes to it, and raises Man from the physical world to those horizons that the mind had not envisaged earlier."

    وَمَا تَنْقِمُ مِنَّا إِلَّا أَنْ آمَنَّا بِآيَاتِ رَبِّنَا لَمَّا جَاءَتْنَا ۚ رَبَّنَا أَفْرِغْ عَلَيْنَا صَبْرًا وَتَوَفَّنَا مُسْلِمِينَ (126)

    7|126| You do not wish to wreak vengeance on us save for the fact that we have believed in the signs of our Lord when they came to us. ‘O our Lord! Pour out perseverance on us and draw our souls as those in submission.'175

    175. Mujahid, Qatadah and others have said that Fir`awn accomplished what he had threatened with, so that those who were magicians in the morning turned martyrs by the evening (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Ibn Kathir).

    وَقَالَ الْمَلَأُ مِنْ قَوْمِ فِرْعَوْنَ أَتَذَرُ مُوسَىٰ وَقَوْمَهُ لِيُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَيَذَرَكَ وَآلِهَتَكَ ۚ قَالَ سَنُقَتِّلُ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَنَسْتَحْيِي نِسَاءَهُمْ وَإِنَّا فَوْقَهُمْ قَاهِرُونَ (127)

    7|127| Said the chiefs of the people of Fir`awn, ‘Will you let Musa and his people spread mischief in the land and abandon you and your deities?'176 He replied, ‘We shall slaughter their sons and let live their women. Surely, we have irresistible power over them.'

    176. Of the textual word "aalihatak," another reading, as reported of Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid, has been "ilahatak" meaning "your divinity." But others have said that the original word is, as it is now in the text meaning "your deities," since Fir`awn had his own deity whom he worshipped apart from a few he had ordered his subjects to worship such as, e.g., the cow, the heifer, and a pearl that hung by his neck to which they had to bow down (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). Hence, add Zamakhshari, Razi and Qurtubi, Fir`awn's words elsewhere: "I am your highest Lord," implying that lesser gods received his sanction.
    It is not imaginable too, adds Razi, that an intelligent person like Fir`awn should have said the words, "I am your highest Lord" in the sense of "I am your Lord God." Rather, he would have meant to claim that he was the sustainer of the world of his subjects, and, consequently, sanctioned the worship of a few other deities besides himself.

    قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِ اسْتَعِينُوا بِاللَّهِ وَاصْبِرُوا ۖ إِنَّ الْأَرْضَ لِلَّهِ يُورِثُهَا مَنْ يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ ۖ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ (128)

    7|128| Musa consoled his people, ‘Seek Allah's help and be patient. The land belongs to Allah. He bestows it as heritage on whom He will of His slaves. But the ultimate end belongs to the righteous.'

    قَالُوا أُوذِينَا مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ تَأْتِيَنَا وَمِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جِئْتَنَا ۚ قَالَ عَسَىٰ رَبُّكُمْ أَنْ يُهْلِكَ عَدُوَّكُمْ وَيَسْتَخْلِفَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَيَنْظُرَ كَيْفَ تَعْمَلُونَ (129)

    7|129| They said, ‘We have been persecuted both before and after you came to us!' He replied, ‘Maybe your Lord will destroy your enemy and grant you succession in the land to see how you will conduct yourselves.'177

    177. As understood by Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and `Ikrimah, this verse takes us right to the end of the episode involving Fir`awn and the Israelites: that is, at the shores where the Israelites had the sea before them and Fir`awn and his army at the horizon. They cried out, "Musa, we have been tortured both before and after you came to us." Musa re assured them that Allah will find a way out of the situation, destroy Fir`awn and his army, and give them the land in inheritance to see how they would behave in their turn. So that, with the next verse another phase of the episode is being narrated, although not in the order a common reader might expect (based on Ibn Jarir).
    Yusuf Ali adds: "There is a slight note of quarrelsomeness in the people's answer. But Moses allays it by his own example and courage, and his vision of the future."
    Zamakhshari writes that once `Amr b. `Ubayd happened to visit Mansur. He was having dinner with a bread or two in front of him. He invited ibn `Ubayd to join in and asked for some more bread to be brought. But they could not find any in the house. It so happened later that ibn `Ubayd once again visited Mansur when he had become an (Abbasi) Caliph. Ibn `Ubayd recited this verse: "... to see how you will act."

    وَلَقَدْ أَخَذْنَا آلَ فِرْعَوْنَ بِالسِّنِينَ وَنَقْصٍ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ (130)

    7|130| Then We seized Fir`awn's folk178 with years of drought and scarcity of fruits179 that haply they might be admonished.

    178. Rashid Rida comments on the textual word "'al" (tr. as folks), that originally, the word stood for a nation's individuals of grace and honor such as, Prophets, kings and elders. Eventually, it came to be used for distinctive individuals and, subsequently, for the common people too. This is the basis of the opinion of the scholars of Islam that "'aal al Nabiyy" would include all those who follow him. It is in this sense that the word "'aal al Nabiyy" has been used in the tashahhud viz.,


    اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ ، وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ


    “O Allah, send peace upon Muhammad and upon the folks of Muhammad.”
    However, not every follower of the Prophet is included in the term by default. Imam Ja`far al Sadiq was told: "People say that the whole of the Ummah of the Prophet is included in the term "'aal al Nabiyy. Is that correct?" He replied: "They lied while they spoke the truth. They lied when they said that the whole of his Ummah is included in the term. But they spoke the truth if they meant to include those who follow the Shari`ah closely."
    179. A stricter meaning of "thamaraat" would include all kinds of produce, be they agricultural or industrial (Au.).
    Sayyid Qutb writes: "When a man's true nature is disfigured then he cannot see Allah's hand behind the events happening around him. He severs the links between events and events, bereft of any relationship with the One who runs and controls the universe. So that, the only thing that a Khrushchev, (former Russian President) could say when faced up with years of crop failure, was, "Nature seems to be against us!"

    فَإِذَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْحَسَنَةُ قَالُوا لَنَا هَٰذِهِ ۖ وَإِنْ تُصِبْهُمْ سَيِّئَةٌ يَطَّيَّرُوا بِمُوسَىٰ وَمَنْ مَعَهُ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّمَا طَائِرُهُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (131)

    7|131| But, whenever a good (thing) came to them, they said, ‘This is our due.' But when an evil touched them they would augur ill by Musa and those with him.180 Nay! Rather their ill augury was with Allah;181 but most of them realized not.182

    180. Whenever something good happened at the national level, they would take the credit for it themselves. But when an ill fortune struck them they would say, ‘Since the time Musa has appeared we have been facing one problem after another' (Ibn Jarir).
    Asad adds: "The phrase tatayyara bihi signifies ‘he attributed an evil omen to him’ or ‘he augured evil from him.’ It is based on the pre Islamic Arab custom of divining the future or establishing an omen from the flight of birds. Thus, the noun tair (lit. ‘a flying creature’ or ‘a bird’) is often used in classical Arabic to denote ‘destiny’ or ‘fortune’, both good and evil."
    The drawing of omen from the flight of birds consisted in disturbing a bird in its nest or perched on a branch. If it flew off toward the right, it was taken as a good sign. But if it flew towards the left, it was taken as an evil sign (Sayyid). The Prophet has said in a Sahih hadith

    :
    لَا طِيَرَةَ وَلَا عَدْوَى


    "There is no such thing as drawing an omen from the birds, nor any such thing as contagion" (Au.).
    Islam has rather left the outcome to proper application, good intention, hard work, etc., that result in the manifestation of Allah's Decree (Sayyid).
    This author has had the experience in his childhood in a north-Indian village of some Muslims clapping their hands to make a bird fly to decide whether one of them should travel or not.
    181. That is, whatever visited them, whether good or adversity, was all from Allah Ibn `Abbas (Ibn Jarir).
    182. Qurtubi writes: The Prophet has said:


    الطِّيَرَةُ شِرْكٌ وَمَا مِنَّا إِلاَّ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يُذْهِبُهُ بِالتَّوَكُّلِ


    "Drawing bad an omen is a (kind of) shirk, and each of us has (something of it in his heart). But Allah cures it with trust in Him."
    The report is in Abu Da'ud. According to another report, if someone finds that in his heart, he should say:


    اللَّهُمَّ لاَ يَأْتِى بِالْحَسَنَاتِ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ وَلاَ يَدْفَعُ السَّيِّئَاتِ إِلاَّ أَنْتَ وَلاَ حَوْلَ وَلاَ قُوَّةَ إِلاَّ بِكَ


    "O Allah. None comes with the good but You, and none removes the evil but You. There is no power but with You." Then, after that, let the man proceed with whatever he wishes to do, with faith and trust in Allah.

    وَقَالُوا مَهْمَا تَأْتِنَا بِهِ مِنْ آيَةٍ لِتَسْحَرَنَا بِهَا فَمَا نَحْنُ لَكَ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ (132)

    7|132| And they said, ‘Whatever sign you may bring us to cast a spell upon us therewith, we are not going to believe in you.'

    فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ الطُّوفَانَ وَالْجَرَادَ وَالْقُمَّلَ وَالضَّفَادِعَ وَالدَّمَ آيَاتٍ مُفَصَّلَاتٍ فَاسْتَكْبَرُوا وَكَانُوا قَوْمًا مُجْرِمِينَ (133)

    7|133| So, We let loose on them flood,183 the locusts,184 the lice,185 the frogs,186 and (water turning into) blood:187 signs distinct.188 But they waxed proud. They were indeed a criminal people.

    183. The textual word "tufan" has been variously interpreted by Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and others as death, floods, plague, or any general calamity resulting in wide scale death and destruction (Ibn Jarir).
    184. Ibn Kathir quotes several ahadith to prove that consumption of locusts is lawful in Islam, although the Prophet did not eat it, just as he avoided eating meat of the dubb. His wives, however, used to send across platefuls of it as gift. `Umar ibn al Khattab too seems to have been fond of locusts.
    Locusts were apparently lawful for the Jews. Ch. 1, verse 6 of Luke says: "And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey" (Au.).
    185. The textual word "qummal" is for any little wingless insect. It would include lice, pests that attack the grain, fleas, bed-bugs, etc. According to a statement of Sa`id b. Jubayr, it was a little insect that ate off the wheat from within, so that when ground, they got nothing out of it. Suddi however has said that it were insects that filled everything: their grain, food, clothes kind of omnipresent (Ibn Jarir).
    Majid comments: "This particular plague was eminently fitted to work upon the Egyptian abhorrence of impurity and defilement. ‘The Egyptians had an intense hatred of lice, and looked upon them as so impure that the priests were required to shave their entire bodies in order that no louse or other impure creature might adhere to them' (Rawlinson, Moses: His Life and Times)."
    186. In trustworthy reports preserved by Abu Da'ud, Ibn Majah and others, the Prophet has forbidden killing of: "Sarad (a kind of bird that preys on sparrows), frogs, ants and hoopoe" (Qurtubi).
    Majid quotes from Rawlinson's Moses, His Life and Times: "One of the Egyptian divinities, Hika, has the head of a frog, and we may presume therefore, that the head of a frog was a sacred animal which it was not lawful to destroy... How could those creatures be Divine which had aroused such hatred and loathing in the hearts of the entire people? How could they henceforth be looked upon without detestation? The whole theory of sacred animals must have suffered a shock when Hika's sacred sign, the emblem of fecundity and productiveness, became an object of hatred and abhorrence."
    187. Sa`id Ibn Jubayr and Suddi have said that as soon as fetched by Pharaoh's folk, water turned into blood. Ka`b al Qurazi has said that the trial lasted full seven days (Ibn Jarir).
    Majid writes: "This plague coming out of the sacred river Nile must have caused a severe shock to the Nile worshipping Egyptians. ‘That sacred stream, so fondly worshipped as the giver of all good, was the generator of this great evil. Nile, wont to bestow nothing but blessings, brought forth this curse' (Rawlinson, Moses: His Life and Times)."
    188. The textual word "mufassilat" can both be rendered as "self evident" as well as "distinct" (Zamakhshari). Their self evidence was strengthened by the fact that they touched only Fir`awn and his subjects. The Israelites did not suffer from them. For example, water remained water for the Israelites but turned into blood once poured out from an Israelite's pitcher into an Egyptian’s pitcher (Ibn Jarir).
    Although no detail has come down from the Prophet regarding these signs all being reports of Israeli origin yet, that the signs had to be of the specific kind, was necessary because magic and its effects were nothing new for the Egyptians. Nothing less than "distinct signs" appearing on the national level and disappearing at Musa's supplications, could convince the least skeptic of them that they were miracles of heavenly origin.
    How long did Musa tarry in Egypt? We have no authentic reports to this effect. However, Qurtubi has said that Musa lived in Egypt for 20 years from the date of the magicians falling into prostration until the drowning of Fir`awn. This should also explain why Fir`awn and his folks would not believe despite the distinct signs they experienced. That was perhaps because firstly, the signs appeared at long intervals and, secondly, they appeared and disappeared gradually, almost in a natural manner to allow skepticism to play its role in leading the disbelievers to disbelief (Au.).

    وَلَمَّا وَقَعَ عَلَيْهِمُ الرِّجْزُ قَالُوا يَا مُوسَى ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ بِمَا عَهِدَ عِنْدَكَ ۖ لَئِنْ كَشَفْتَ عَنَّا الرِّجْزَ لَنُؤْمِنَنَّ لَكَ وَلَنُرْسِلَنَّ مَعَكَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ (134)

    7|134| Whensoever a wrath fell upon them they cried out: ‘O Musa. Supplicate to your Lord by what He has promised you: If you release us from this wrath, we shall believe in you and shall let go with you the Children of Israel.'

    فَلَمَّا كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُمُ الرِّجْزَ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ هُمْ بَالِغُوهُ إِذَا هُمْ يَنْكُثُونَ (135)

    7|135| But when We relieved them of the wrath until a term they were to achieve, behold, they went back (on their word).189

    189. Majid writes: "Nakatha (of the text) is to undo the threads of a garment, or to undo, or untwist a rope."

    فَانْتَقَمْنَا مِنْهُمْ فَأَغْرَقْنَاهُمْ فِي الْيَمِّ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَكَانُوا عَنْهَا غَافِلِينَ (136)

    7|136| So We took vengeance on them and drowned them in the sea190 for that they cried lies to our signs and were heedless of them.

    190. The word in the original "al yamm" is for a deep sea (Zamakhshari).

    وَأَوْرَثْنَا الْقَوْمَ الَّذِينَ كَانُوا يُسْتَضْعَفُونَ مَشَارِقَ الْأَرْضِ وَمَغَارِبَهَا الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا ۖ وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ الْحُسْنَىٰ عَلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ بِمَا صَبَرُوا ۖ وَدَمَّرْنَا مَا كَانَ يَصْنَعُ فِرْعَوْنُ وَقَوْمُهُ وَمَا كَانُوا يَعْرِشُونَ (137)

    7|137| And We bequeathed upon the people that were reduced weak,191 the eastern and western parts of the land in which We have placed Our blessings.192 And thus was fulfilled the good word from your Lord upon the Children of Israel for what they endured patiently;193 and We destroyed the works of Fir`awn and his people, and what they had been building.194

    191. The Orientalists have framed an objection against the Prophet by saying that he had no knowledge of history and, therefore, while copying material from the Torah, committed errors. One of such errors is his claim that the Israelites inherited the Egyptian soil after the destruction of Fir`awn and his hosts, although, as Torah tells us, the Israelites actually travelled eastward to settle into Palestine, their promised land, and never went back to Egypt. The scholars of Islam have generally replied that the Qur'an never stated explicitly that the Israelites went back to Egypt. In fact, the present verse does not even give the meaning by implication of a return to Egypt. Yes, there is another passage of the Qur'an that implies that. It says, "So We expelled them from gardens and springs, and treasures and a noble station; even so, and We bequeathed them upon the Children of Israel" (26: 57 59). Nevertheless, on close inspection it will be seen that the Qur'an is talking of the inheritance of "the gardens, springs, treasures and a noble station," and not of those lands that were formerly owned by the Egyptians. Nevertheless, admitted that the allusion is to those that were formerly owned by Egyptians, there is still nothing wrong with the statement since the Israelites, as stated by the Torah, returned to Syria and parts of Syria was then under the Pharaohnic rule.
    Again, what is the basis on which it is assumed that the Bible is infallible? Can a single line be quoted that can withstand a historical test?
    Regardless of the above, Rashid Rida points out that historical research tells us that there is room for taking the term "inheritance" in the literal sense, viz., of the Israelites going back to Egypt. The most ancient Jewish historian Josephus has been quoted by Lang in his book "Human Origins" as having quoted from another historical work, that of the ancient historian Manetho, who wrote the following words: "After his defeat at the hands of Moses, Pharaoh escaped to Abyssinia and Moses ruled over Egypt for 13 years. Later, Pharaoh and his son returned with a huge army in their command. They overcame the resistance put up by Moses who had to ultimately relinquish (Egypt) and migrate to Syria." This historian Manetho, Rashid Rida adds, whose words have been quoted here, appeared 300 years before Jesus Christ. On Ptolemy Philadalphus's behest, he wrote one of the most accurate histories of the world, relying upon very authentic sources of his time. The book itself is lost. It was burned along with thousands of other manuscripts preserved in the Alexandrian Library leaving its traces only as quotes in other works.
    Rashid Rida also writes that it has been speculated by some historians that possibly the death of Fir`awn (contemporary to Moses) was covered up by the Egyptian ruling class who might have told the general populace that he had migrated to Abyssinia and would soon return reinforced with Abyssinian forces. The succeeding Fir`awn (the next in line of succession) might have returned from there after preparations lasting 13 years to wage war against Musa and retake the bulk of the lost kingdom.
    192. Hasan and Qatadah have been reported as saying that the allusion by the words ‘the land in which We have placed Our blessings' is to Syria (Ibn Jarir).
    Rashid Rida adds: The above is strengthened by several verses of the Qur'an, one of them being (17: 1):


    سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ [الإسراء : 1]


    "Glorified is He who took His slave by night from the Holy Mosque to the Furthest Mosque the surroundings of which We have blessed."
    Alusi points out that the allusion is to the spiritual blessing, as it has been the land of the Prophets. He quotes a hadith from Ahmad. `Abdullah ibn Khawla al Azadi says:


    خِرْ لِي يَا رَسُولَ اللَّه ... قال ِعَلَيْكَ بِالشَّامِ فَإِنَّهُ خِيرَةُ اللَّهِ مِنْ أَرْضِهِ يَجْتَبِي إِلَيْهِ خِيرَتَهُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ


    "I asked the Prophet, ‘Messenger of Allah, choose for me a land to which I could migrate.' He replied, ‘You might go to Syria, for Allah chose it from His lands to which the best of men are attracted.'"
    Shu`ayb Arna’ut declared it trustworthy (Au.).
    Another hadith in Ibn `Asakir narrated by Wathilah b. al Asqa` reports the Prophet as having said:


    عَلَيْكُمْ بِالشَّامِ، فَإِنَّهَا صَفْوَةُ اللَّهِ مِنْ بِلادِهِ يَسُوقُ إِلَيْهَا صَفْوَتَهُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ


    "Let Syria be your destination for it is the best of Allah's lands in which the best of his slaves live."
    (Accordingly, Wathilah ultimately settled and died in Syria (Au.).
    Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Tabarani, Ibn Hibban and Hakim (who declared it Sahih) have preserved the following words of the Prophet (saws):


    طُوبَى لِلشَّامِ


    "Blessedness for Syria."
    Hakim has preserved the following words of `Abdullah ibn `Umar, declaring it Sahih: "A time will come upon the people when no Muslim would remain, but would have migrated to Syria."
    However, Alusi (himself a Syrian) warns, many ahadith that are quoted about the virtues of Syria are fake, and then discreetly adds that it is not the Syrians who are the subject of these ahadith, who might not be found in Alusi's times – to match up with the desired standards of behavior!
    193. Mujahid has said that the allusion is to the advent of Musa and destruction of Fir`awn and his hosts (Ibn Jarir).
    Alusi writes: Hasan al Busri has said (in reference to the Muslims’ struggle against their corrupt rulers) that had the people observed patience in the face of their corrupt rulers and sought Allah's succor, they would have had a better chance of getting rid of them. But they took to the sword and depended on it (with no results). To this statement of Hasan al Busri, Alusi adds his own remark: It is my own observation that their 1248 years of resort to the sword (against their rulers) never brought them any good.
    The above of course is when Muslims are faced up with corrupt Muslim rulers who have the majority behind them. If they have the support of a minority, or, are non Muslims altogether, then, as Ashraf `Ali wrote under verse 129 above: "Seeking Allah's help and observing patience in the face of the power of the unbelievers, does not necessarily mean resort to asceticism and surrender" (Au.).
    194. "The story of the suffering of the Israelites during their bondage in Egypt, their deliverance through Moses, their crossing of the Red Sea (or, more probably, of what today is known as the Gulf of Suez) and the destruction of Pharaoh and his hosts is narrated in considerable detail in the Bible (Exodus i xiv). The Qur'an, on the other hand, does not give us a consecutive narrative: for historical narrative as such is never its purpose. Whenever the Qur'an refers to past events whether recorded in the Bible or alive in Arabian tradition it does so exclusively with a view to bringing out elements that are relevant to the ethical teachings which it propounds" (Asad).

    وَجَاوَزْنَا بِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْبَحْرَ فَأَتَوْا عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ يَعْكُفُونَ عَلَىٰ أَصْنَامٍ لَهُمْ ۚ قَالُوا يَا مُوسَى اجْعَلْ لَنَا إِلَٰهًا كَمَا لَهُمْ آلِهَةٌ ۚ قَالَ إِنَّكُمْ قَوْمٌ تَجْهَلُونَ (138)

    7|138| And We led the Children of Israel across the sea. They came upon a people zealously devoted to their idols.195 They said, ‘O Musa. Assign for us a deity as they have deities.'196 He said, ‘Verily, you are an ignorant people.197

    195. Most commentators have said that these people were either Amalekites, or the Lakhm tribe. Majid adds: "Their idols, anyway, were images of oxen, which gave to the Israelites the impetus to the making of the golden calf."
    196. In other words, the Israelites sought Musa to suggest a few deities and idols through whose worship they could reach out God better than without (Razi).
    197. Baghawi has written that the request for a deity was not because the Israelites were in doubt about the Oneness of God. Their objective was to seek the Lord One God with the help and intercession of something tangible, and was under the belief that the worship of other than Allah with such objectives would do them no harm. This explains Musa's words: "Verily, you are an ignorant people" (Manar, slightly reworded).
    Abu Waqid al Laythi reports:


    خَرَجْنَا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قِبَلَ حُنَيْنٍ ، فَمَرَرْنَا بِالسِّدْرَ ةِ ، فَقُلْتُ : أَيْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ اجْعَلْ لَنَا هَذِهِ ذَاتَ أَنْوَاطٍ كَمَا لِلْكُفَّارِ ذَاتُ أَنْوَاطٍ ، وَكَانَ الْكُفَّارُ يَنُوطُونَ سِلاحَهُمْ بِسِدْرَةٍ وَيَعْكُفُونَ حَوْلَهَا ، فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : " اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ ، هَذَا كَمَا قَالَتْ بنو إِسْرَائِيلَ لِمُوسَى : {اجْعَلْ لَنَا إِلَهًا كَمَا لَهُمْ آلِهَةٌ}، إِنَّكُمْ سَتَرْكَبُونَ سَنَنَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ "


    "Once we were with the Prophet in a journey (between Tayif and Hunayn: Rashid Rida) when we came across a huge, green, lote tree. We said, ‘Assign to this lote tree, O Prophet, a merit of honor (Dhat Anwat), for our (religious needs) just as the pagans had assigned merit of honor to a lote tree by which they hung their arms and squat around it.' He replied, ‘Allah is Great. This is similar to the Israelites asking their Prophet: "O Musa. Assign for us a deity as they have deities." Surely, you will follow those who were before you in every little detail'" (Ibn Jarir).
    The hadith is in Ahmad (Ibn Kathir). It is also in Tirmidhi, who declared it Sahih, Nasa'i, Ibn Abi Hatim, Tabarani and others (Shawkani).
    Arab pagans used to declare certain lote trees as sacrosanct, suspend their arms by its branches seeking blessings, and squatted around it for shorter or longer period. They called it Dhat Anwat: one by which (arms) are hung (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and others).

    إِنَّ هَٰؤُلَاءِ مُتَبَّرٌ مَا هُمْ فِيهِ وَبَاطِلٌ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ (139)

    7|139| As for these people, bound to destruction is all that they indulge in, and wasteful all that they have been doing.'

    قَالَ أَغَيْرَ اللَّهِ أَبْغِيكُمْ إِلَٰهًا وَهُوَ فَضَّلَكُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ (140)

    7|140| He asked, ‘Shall I seek for you a god other than Allah when He preferred you over the worlds?'

    وَإِذْ أَنْجَيْنَاكُمْ مِنْ آلِ فِرْعَوْنَ يَسُومُونَكُمْ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ ۖ يُقَتِّلُونَ أَبْنَاءَكُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيُونَ نِسَاءَكُمْ ۚ وَفِي ذَٰلِكُمْ بَلَاءٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ عَظِيمٌ (141)

    7|141| (Recall) when We delivered you from Fir`awn's folks who afflicted you with the worst kind of torture, slaughtering your sons and letting your women live. And, indeed, in that was for you a severe trial from your Lord.

    وَوَاعَدْنَا مُوسَىٰ ثَلَاثِينَ لَيْلَةً وَأَتْمَمْنَاهَا بِعَشْرٍ فَتَمَّ مِيقَاتُ رَبِّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةً ۚ وَقَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِأَخِيهِ هَارُونَ اخْلُفْنِي فِي قَوْمِي وَأَصْلِحْ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ (142)

    7|142| And We appointed198 with Musa thirty nights199 completing them with ten.200 Thus was completed the term201 of his Lord of forty nights.202 And Musa said to his brother Harun, ‘Be my deputy in my people203 and set things right; and follow not the ways of the corrupt.'204

    198. The form employed for the textual word waa`ada, (lit., to promise each other), requires participation by two parties in an act. In this case, the promise from Musa was that he would devote forty days to worship at Mount Sinai, and from Allah that He would bestow Torah to him (Shafi`).
    199. "Nights" instead of days has been mentioned since as Ibn `Arabiyy has been quoted in Qurtubi: "Reckoning by the sun is for this worldly affairs, while reckoning by the moon is for the other worldly affairs (lit., for devotional affairs)" Shafi`.
    200. Just as the Muslims needed the Law only after migration to Madinah, the Jews also felt its need only after their exodus from Egypt. Although revelations had been coming to Musa since much earlier, he was called to the Tur at that point so that he could be given the Law to meet needs of the Israelites (Manar).
    As for appointing thirty days and then completing them with ten, there has been no satisfactory explanation. Some reports that have come from the earlier scholars are not trustworthy. Of the many explanations forwarded that of Shabbir sounds the most plausible which says that the choice of the words is to imply that it were 30 days of one month (Dhu al Qa`idah) and 10 of another (Dhu al Hijjah).
    Qushayri says that the appointment at Tur was with the understanding that Musa would hear his Lord’s voice once again, since, after all, the first time it was completely unexpected, while this time it was in full expectation of spiritual joy and bliss.
    201. The difference between "waqt" (time) and "miqat" (pl. mawaaqit) is that the former simply denotes time, while the latter is for that period at which an affair has been scheduled such as, for instance, the mawaqit of Hajj (Manar).
    202. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Ibn Jurayj have said that the forty nights covered the whole of Dhu al Qa`idah and the first ten days of Dhu al Hijjah (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). The opinion of Ibn `Abbas is in Ibn Abi Hatim, Abu al Sheikh and Ibn al Mundhir (Shawkani).
    The above opinion would imply that Musa was given the Torah on the 10th of Dhu al Hijjah (Qurtubi, Shafi`).
    Yusuf `Ali adds: "The forty nights' reclusion of Moses on Mount may be compared with the forty days fast of Jesus in the wilderness before he took up his ministry (Matt. vi, 2). In each case the Prophets lived alone apart from their people, before they came into the full blaze of the events of their Ministry."
    203. It was for the same functional and administrative reasons that the Prophet once appointed `Ali a deputy to himself before leaving Madinah for a campaign. When `Ali sort of protested at being left behind, the Prophet (saws) asked him: "Are you not satisfied that you should be with respect to me, what Harun was with respect to Musa?" Those who are poor of knowledge deduce from that appointment that `Ali was the Prophet's deputy for good and for all times, deserving the khilafah after his death. Eventually, some of these ignorant people declared `Ali an apostate for not demanding his right when Abu Bakr was appointed caliph after the Prophet by consensus; while some others declared the Companions apostates for usurping `Ali's right. Apart from other things, those people forgot that the Prophet had appointed several others as his deputies, such as Ibn Umm Maktum, whenever he went out of Madinah in a campaign (Qurtubi).
    204. The words imply that Musa (asws) was apprehensive of trouble from his people; a fear that coming events proved true (Au.).

    وَلَمَّا جَاءَ مُوسَىٰ لِمِيقَاتِنَا وَكَلَّمَهُ رَبُّهُ قَالَ رَبِّ أَرِنِي أَنْظُرْ إِلَيْكَ ۚ قَالَ لَنْ تَرَانِي وَلَٰكِنِ انْظُرْ إِلَى الْجَبَلِ فَإِنِ اسْتَقَرَّ مَكَانَهُ فَسَوْفَ تَرَانِي ۚ فَلَمَّا تَجَلَّىٰ رَبُّهُ لِلْجَبَلِ جَعَلَهُ دَكًّا وَخَرَّ مُوسَىٰ صَعِقًا ۚ فَلَمَّا أَفَاقَ قَالَ سُبْحَانَكَ تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (143)

    7|143| When Musa came to Our appointed time, and His Lord spoke with him,205 he said, ‘My Lord! Show (Yourself) to me that I may behold You.'206 He replied, ‘You can never207 see Me. But behold the mountain, if it remains firm in its place then you might be able to see Me.'208 Then, when He manifested Himself to the mountain, He made it dust.209 And Musa fell down unconscious.210 When he recovered, he said, ‘Glory to You. I turn to You in repentance and I am first of the believers.'211

    205. Ibn Abi Hatim and Hakim (who evaluated the report Sahih) have reported `Abdul Rahman b. Mu`awiyyah as saying that Allah did not speak to Musa with the full force of His Speech. Had He done that, Musa would not have been able to bear it. Rather, He employed a very much weakened tone and pitch (Shawkani).
    Suddi and Ibn Is haq have said: It was a direct effect of Allah speaking to him that aroused the desire in Musa for the Beatific Vision (Ibn Jarir).
    206. Most scholars have deduced from this part of the verse that the Beatific Vision is possible. If it was impossible, surely, a great Prophet like Musa would not have requested it. To this the Mu`tazilah, who deny that Allah can ever be seen, in this world or the next, have replied that Musa made the request out of ignorance. That is, it was not in his knowledge that Allah cannot be sighted. To this Imam Razi replies that if that be true, then surely Musa was less knowledgeable than the most ignorant of the Mu`tazilah who seem to know what Musa did not!
    Shabbir sums up the argument in the following manner: Beatific Vision is not possible in this world because of the physical laws laid out for that to take place. But, reason says that it should be possible. That explains why Musa (asws) requested it. He was not asking for the impossible. And, when it was denied to Musa but made manifest to the mountain, what was meant to communicate was: ‘You are made of two elements, the physical and the spiritual. Now, your spiritual element might be able to withstand the Vision, since, from that aspect you are stronger than the mountains ("But they refused to bear them ... and Man accepted to bear" [33: 72], and "Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, you would have seen it crumbling ..." [59: 21]). But your physical being would not be able to bear it. If you think it can, then, "behold the mountain if it remains firm in its place, then you might be able to see Me."'
    207. The article "lun" lends great emphasis to the denial. The scholars have therefore concluded that no one can ever see Allah (swt) in this earthly life (Ibn Kathir).
    208. Alusi points out that so far as the famous "Hadith al Manam" is concerned, (where the Prophet said: "I saw my Lord [in my sleep] in the best form imaginable), the seeing there is that of an image. This was the opinion of Kamal ibn al Hammam. That in fact, is the "tajalli" that the Sufiya talk of. Suyuti has further elaborated that the (appearance of Allah in dreams) can take any form. That is what the leading shuyukh have also said. However, the subject remains controversial. But, if what Suyuti and other shuyukh have said is true, then, Allah be praised, adds Alusi, that "I have had the opportunity to see my Lord thrice in my dreams. Once I saw Him engulfed in an ineffable radiance of Light, looking toward the East. He spoke to me in words that I could not recall when I woke up. Another time I saw Him in a long dream, finding myself in Paradise, with a kind of barrier of pearls of a variety of colors between me and my Lord. He ordered me to be taken to `Isa’s Station, and then to that of our Prophet in which places I saw what I saw. Allah's is the Bestowal and Allah's is the Grace."
    It is reported of Imam Abu Hanifah that he saw his Lord several times in his dreams.
    And, if this writer wished he could add the experience of another person who saw in his early morning dream the Face of his Lord filling the whole of the azure, of indescribable beauty, radiating down a smile engulfing the space below (if there was any space below between the Perceived and the perceiving person), belittling but exhilarating, awesome but tranquilizing a vision that would not allow the beholder's sight to stray (Au.).
    209. Anas b. Malik reported the Prophet (saws) as having recited this verse and then:


    قَالَ هَكَذَا يَعْنِي أَنَّهُ أَخْرَجَ طَرَفَ الْخِنْصَرِ قَالَ أَبِي أَرَانَا مُعَاذٌ قَالَ فَقَالَ لَهُ حُمَيْدٌ الطَّوِيلُ مَا تُرِيدُ إِلَى هَذَا يَا أَبَا مُحَمَّدٍ قَالَ فَضَرَبَ صَدْرَهُ ضَرْبَةً شَدِيدَةً وَقَالَ مَنْ أَنْتَ يَا حُمَيْدُ وَمَا أَنْتَ يَا حُمَيْدُ يُحَدِّثُنِي بِهِ أَنَسُ بْنُ مَالِكٍ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَتَقُولُ أَنْتَ مَا تُرِيدُ إِلَيْهِ


    “Showed the tip of his little finger to indicate that it was that much that Allah had manifested Himself to the mountain at which it became a heap of dust). Mu`adh (the narrator) demonstrated it (i.e., showed the tip of his little finger). At that Humayd questioned his immediate narrator Thabit: ‘What do mean by that?’ Thabit struck hard Humayd on his breast and retorted: "Who are you O Humayd? Just who are you O Humayd? Anas b. Malik narrates to me from the Prophet and you ask me ‘What do you mean by that’?" (Ibn Jarir).
    The version above is Musnad Ahmad (Au.).
    Ibn Kathir adds: The hadith of Anas is in Ahmad, Tirmidhi (who rated it as Hasan Sahih Gharib) and, by another route, in Hakim (who said it is a Sahih hadith on the criteria of Muslim although the Sheikhayn did not narrate it), as well as in other hadith collections. Tirmidhi's additional words are: "The Mountain sunk to the earth and will continue sinking until the Judgment Day.”
    Shawkani adds: The hadith of Tirmidhi is Sahih of status and meets the criteria of the hadith collector Muslim.
    210. Ibn Kathir writes: A hadith in the Sahihayn that Bukhari has narrated at several points has Abu Sa`id al Khudri reporting that:


    بَيْنَمَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ جَالِسٌ جَاءَ يَهُودِيٌّ فَقَالَ يَا أَبَا الْقَاسِمِ ضَرَبَ وَجْهِي رَجُلٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِكَ فَقَالَ مَنْ قَالَ رَجُلٌ مِنْ الْأَنْصَارِ قَالَ ادْعُوهُ فَقَالَ أَضَرَبْتَهُ قَالَ سَمِعْتُهُ بِالسُّوقِ يَحْلِفُ وَالَّذِي اصْطَفَى مُوسَى عَلَى الْبَشَرِ قُلْتُ أَيْ خَبِيثُ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَأَخَذَتْنِي غَضْبَةٌ ضَرَبْتُ وَجْهَهُ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لَا تُخَيِّرُوا بَيْنَ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ فَإِنَّ النَّاسَ يَصْعَقُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَأَكُونُ أَوَّلَ مَنْ تَنْشَقُّ عَنْهُ الْأَرْضُ فَإِذَا أَنَا بِمُوسَى آخِذٌ بِقَائِمَةٍ مِنْ قَوَائِمِ الْعَرْشِ فَلَا أَدْرِي أَكَانَ فِيمَنْ صَعِقَ أَمْ حُوسِبَ بِصَعْقَةِ الْأُولَى


    “While the Prophet was seated, a Jew came to him and said, ‘O Abu al-Qasim, one of your companions slapped me.’ He asked, ‘Who was it?’ He said, ‘One of the Ansar.’ He said, ‘Let him be brought here.’ (When he came), he asked him, ‘Did you hit him?’ He said, ‘I was passing in the market when I heard him swear saying, “By Him who preferred Musa over the people.” I asked him, “Dirty man; over Muhammad too?” Then, anger got the better of me and I slapped him.’ The Prophet said, ‘Do not differentiate between Prophets. When the people swoon on the Day of Judgment, I would be the first for whom the earth will split, and lo, I will find Musa holding on to one of the qawaa'im (posts) of the `Arsh. I would not know whether he never fainted, or was spared because he had fainted earlier (on Mount Tur).’"
    Now, Ibn Kathir adds, as to everyone fainting on the Day of Judgment, either an event of great impact would cause it, or it may happen when Allah comes down for Judgment.
    211. Ibn `Abbas, Abu al `Aliyyah and Mujahid have said that what Musa meant when he said "I am the first of the believers" is, "I am the first of those who believe that you cannot be sighted by the human beings in this world" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir and others).

    قَالَ يَا مُوسَىٰ إِنِّي اصْطَفَيْتُكَ عَلَى النَّاسِ بِرِسَالَاتِي وَبِكَلَامِي فَخُذْ مَا آتَيْتُكَ وَكُنْ مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ (144)

    7|144| He said, ‘O Musa, I have chosen you above all men for My Messages and my talk (to you). Therefore, take what I have given you and be of the thankful.'

    وَكَتَبْنَا لَهُ فِي الْأَلْوَاحِ مِنْ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مَوْعِظَةً وَتَفْصِيلًا لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ فَخُذْهَا بِقُوَّةٍ وَأْمُرْ قَوْمَكَ يَأْخُذُوا بِأَحْسَنِهَا ۚ سَأُرِيكُمْ دَارَ الْفَاسِقِينَ (145)

    7|145| And We wrote down for him on the Tablets212 everything (concerning guidance): an admonition and the explanation of all things. (We said), ‘Hold it with firmness, and order your people to hold fast unto the best of precepts (therein).213 I shall soon show you the abode of the corrupt.214

    212. Differences in opinion prevailed among the scholars over the Tablets: whether they contained the whole of the Tawrah, or, something in addition to the Tawrah which was separately revealed later (Ibn Kathir).
    213. Imam Razi comments on the use of the textual word "ahsan" (better or best): Of the commandments that were in the Tawrah, some were good, while some better. E.g., to retaliate in an equal measure, or to fight out (for one's rights), were commandments that were good by themselves. But, to forgive or observe patience was better than to retaliate.
    Alusi thinks that the word "ahsan" is not an easy term to explain. Dimamini has written in his commentary on the Masabih that any term on this pattern can convey four kinds of meanings, of which the first itself can again be branched out to denote three more kinds of meanings.
    214. Some scholars believe that by these words the allusion is to the lands of the Amalekites and other pagans who inhabited the holy land. But Ibn Kathir's preference is that the allusion is to the final abode meant for the corrupt ones - Hellfire.

    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 ۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَكَانُوا عَنْهَا غَافِلِينَ (146)

    7|146| I shall turn away from My signs those who wax proud in the land without cause.215 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.'

    215. That is, I will turn their minds away from a full understanding of the Revelation (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    In other words, the first consequences of a people's arrogance in the face of commandments based in revelation, is that they are denied further understanding. They are beset with doubts about the nature of the commandments, and further down in their lives, about the nature of revelation itself, ending in wanderings on the craggy terrain of atheism (Au.).
    Ibn Kathir writes: One of the Salaf has said, "A person who does not humble himself for knowledge will remain suffering the humiliation of ignorance for the rest of his life."
    With reference to the words: "those who wax proud in the land without cause," the question that arises is, is pride justified for any reason? Imam Razi points out that, "to be proud when faced with falsehood would amount to being ‘proud with a just cause.’ Indeed, it is commonly said that to act proud when dealing with a proud person is a charitable act.

    وَالَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَلِقَاءِ الْآخِرَةِ حَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ ۚ هَلْ يُجْزَوْنَ إِلَّا مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ (147)

    7|147| Those who gave a lie to Our signs and to the encounter in the Hereafter lost are their deeds. Shall they be recompensed but for what they were doing?

    وَاتَّخَذَ قَوْمُ مُوسَىٰ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ مِنْ حُلِيِّهِمْ عِجْلًا جَسَدًا لَهُ خُوَارٌ ۚ أَلَمْ يَرَوْا أَنَّهُ لَا يُكَلِّمُهُمْ وَلَا يَهْدِيهِمْ سَبِيلًا ۘ اتَّخَذُوهُ وَكَانُوا ظَالِمِينَ (148)

    7|148| And in Musa's absence his people made from their jewelry216 a calf a mere body that had a lowing sound.217 Did they not notice that it did not speak to them218 nor could lead them to a path? Yet they took it (for worship): they were transgressors.219

    216. It is reported that the Israelites borrowed jewelry from the Egyptians a night prior to their exodus from Egypt. Samiri, who molded the calf, gathered that gold and while melting it added a handful of dust that he had scooped out from the spot at which Jibril's horse had set its foot on the land. The molded calf acquired a lowing sound on account of that handful of dust (Razi).
    217. See note 131 of surah al Baqarah of this work for explanation.
    Sufi commentator Thanwi adds: This implies that one should not be over impressed by supernatural acts.
    218. That is, the fact that it had a lowing sound should not have led the Israelites to believe in its supernatural qualities, because they could have noticed that it was not capable of speaking to them, especially when, later, they would have learned from the seventy men testifying that their Lord had spoken to Musa. But, as Ibn Kathir quotes the hadith of Ahmad and Abu Da'ud:


    حُبُّكَ الشَّىْءَ يُعْمِى وَيُصِمُّ


    "Your love of a thing blinds and deafens you." (But it is perhaps the words of Abu Darda’: Arna’ut). Further, the fact that it had a lowing sound, might have led them to believe that the calf was transformed into a living one.
    That does not seem to be plausible, since, transformation of that sort would shake down the strongest in faith. However achieved, it was perhaps a mechanical device, learnt from the technologically fairly advanced Egyptians, placed in the hollow of the stomach, and covered with ornamental cloth, which would have done the trick (Au.).
    Asad adds: "The golden calf of the Israelites was obviously a result of centuries old Egyptian influences. The Egyptians worshipped at Memphis the sacred bull, Apis, which they believed to be an incarnation of the god Ptah. A new Apis was supposed always to be born at the moment when the old one died, while the soul of the latter was believed to pass into Osiris in the Realm of the Dead, to be henceforth worshipped as Osiris Apis (the "Serapis" of the Greco Egyptian period)."
    219. That is, they had no basis in reason or revelation to worship the calf, rather, were merely imitating the Egyptians whose deity it was (Rashid Rida).

    وَلَمَّا سُقِطَ فِي أَيْدِيهِمْ وَرَأَوْا أَنَّهُمْ قَدْ ضَلُّوا قَالُوا لَئِنْ لَمْ يَرْحَمْنَا رَبُّنَا وَيَغْفِرْ لَنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ (149)

    7|149| When they felt ashamed220 and realized that they had erred they cried out, ‘If our Lord does not show us mercy and forgive us, surely, we shall be of the losers.'

    220. The translation is based on Ibn Jarir's understanding.

    وَلَمَّا رَجَعَ مُوسَىٰ إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ غَضْبَانَ أَسِفًا قَالَ بِئْسَمَا خَلَفْتُمُونِي مِنْ بَعْدِي ۖ أَعَجِلْتُمْ أَمْرَ رَبِّكُمْ ۖ وَأَلْقَى الْأَلْوَاحَ وَأَخَذَ بِرَأْسِ أَخِيهِ يَجُرُّهُ إِلَيْهِ ۚ قَالَ ابْنَ أُمَّ إِنَّ الْقَوْمَ اسْتَضْعَفُونِي وَكَادُوا يَقْتُلُونَنِي فَلَا تُشْمِتْ بِيَ الْأَعْدَاءَ وَلَا تَجْعَلْنِي مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ (150)

    7|150| When Musa returned to his people angry and sorrowful, he said, ‘You have been poor successors after me. Did you (try to) outstrip Your Lord's commandment?'221 He cast down the Tablets222 and seizing his brother by his head,223 dragged him toward himself. He protested, ‘Son of my mother.224 My people overpowered me, and were close to murdering me.225 Give not my enemies (a chance) to gloat over me, nor count me among the transgressing people.'226

    221. Perhaps Musa meant to say, ‘Have you tried to work out the Law by yourself through other than God, instead of waiting for Revelations from Allah?’ (Au.)
    222. The Prophet (saws) has said in a hadith recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim:


    لَيْسَ الْخَبَرُ كَالْمُعَايَنَةِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَخْبَرَ مُوسَى بِمَا صَنَعَ قَوْمُهُ فِي الْعِجْلِ فَلَمْ يُلْقِ الْأَلْوَاحَ فَلَمَّا عَايَنَ مَا صَنَعُوا أَلْقَى الْأَلْوَاحَ فَانْكَسَرَتْ


    "Seeing is not the same as hearing. Musa was informed by his Lord about what his people had committed (behind him), but he did not cast the Tablets. But when he saw it with his own eyes, he cast them down and they broke" (Razi, Ibn Kathir).
    The report is treated as Sahih by Shu`ayb Arna’ut (Au.).
    The casting of the Tablets requires some clarification. One could imagine that Musa threw them down. But such an action is unbecoming of a Messenger as great as Musa, on whom be peace. Probably, when he saw what had happened behind him, he flew into a rage in the face of a crime of that nature. He hurriedly placed down the Tablets, but not as ceremoniously as they deserved, turned to Harun (to vent his anger), and began to pull him by his hair. His action of not disposing the Tablets in a manner deserving of an article demanding the greatest of care in handling, has been, (in keeping with the slightest error committed by Prophets counted as serious) as "casting down" (Alusi, slightly reworded).
    The Qur'an has other instances of the use of the word "cast" but not in the sense of throwing. It tells us that Allah (swt) ordered Musa's mother (28:

    7):
    فَإِذَا خِفْتِ عَلَيْهِ فَأَلْقِيهِ فِي الْيَمِّ [القصص : 7]


    "When you fear for him, cast him into the river" (Thanwi).
    Obviously, if she had done that, the infant would have been drowned. She would have laid him in water with the greatest of care (Au.).
    223. That is, he pulled him toward himself by his hair and beard as stated elsewhere in the Qur'an (20: 94) Alusi.
    224. Although pre Islamic poetry has examples of this kind of usage, Ibn Jarir explains that Harun employed the term "Ibn Ummi" instead of "Ibn Abi" out of tenderness.
    There are other examples in contemporary Arabic language. For instance, during an argument an Arab might say to another, "Ya ibn al Halal" (O legitimate one) to cool him down and not by way of any insinuation (Au.).
    But Majid has a better explanation: "The phrase also makes it clear that Aaron and Moses were brothers both on their father's and their mother's side and not half brothers or step brothers."
    225. Majid writes: "According the Jewish sources, when Hur stepped in to rebuke the Israelites for their blasphemy, ‘he was at once put to death, and Aaron was threatened with the same fate' (JE. III. p. 509)."
    226. Rashid Rida points out, that there are many reasons why the Qur'an is a guardian (muhaymin, ref. 5: 47) over the older revelations. One of them is that it offers corrections to what has been introduced into them by the humans. The Tawrah puts the blame on Harun (asws) for worship of the calf. It says in Exodus: ‘When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, "Up, make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." And Aaron said to them, "Take off the rings of gold which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me." So all the people took off the rings of gold which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold at their hand, and fashioned it with graving tool, and made a molten calf; and they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt' (32: 1 4).

    قَالَ رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِأَخِي وَأَدْخِلْنَا فِي رَحْمَتِكَ ۖ وَأَنْتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ (151)

    7|151| He said, ‘My Lord! Forgive me and my brother; and admit us into Your grace. Surely, you are the most Merciful of those who show mercy.'227

    227. In these words Musa sought forgiveness for whatever he had done in his anger (Shabbir).

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا الْعِجْلَ سَيَنَالُهُمْ غَضَبٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَذِلَّةٌ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُفْتَرِينَ (152)

    7|152| Surely, those who took the calf (for worship) will soon have their Lord's anger reaching them228 and ignominy in the life of this world.229 That is how We recompense the inventers (of falsehood).230

    228. The anger Allah spoke of here was not abated until some of the Israelites slaughtered others of those who had worshipped the golden calf. The Qur'an said (2: 54):


    فَتُوبُوا إِلَى بَارِئِكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ عِنْدَ بَارِئِكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِنَّهُ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ [البقرة : 54]


    "Turn to your Lord in repentance, and slay one another. This indeed will be better for you in the sight of your Lord. Then He relented toward you. Indeed He is very Relenting, very Kind" (Ibn Kathir).
    229. Many of the Salaf have said that this is how every innovator (Sahib al bid`ah) will be treated: ignominy in this life itself (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    230. Majid comments: "Compare the Jewish view of the enormity of the sin... ‘There is not a misfortune that Israel has suffered which is not partly a retribution for the sin of the calf' (JE. III. pp. 508, 509)."

    وَالَّذِينَ عَمِلُوا السَّيِّئَاتِ ثُمَّ تَابُوا مِنْ بَعْدِهَا وَآمَنُوا إِنَّ رَبَّكَ مِنْ بَعْدِهَا لَغَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (153)

    7|153| As for those who worked evil deeds, but repented thereafter and believed, then, after that your Lord is All forgiving, All compassionate.231

    231. Ibn Abi Hatim has recorded a report that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud was asked about a man who fornicates with a woman and then marries her. He recited this verse in reply. They repeated the question some ten times, but his only answer was this verse: "As for those who worked evil deeds, but repented thereafter and believed, then, after that your Lord is All forgiving, All compassionate." He said nothing else by way of approval or disapproval (Ibn Kathir).

    وَلَمَّا سَكَتَ عَنْ مُوسَى الْغَضَبُ أَخَذَ الْأَلْوَاحَ ۖ وَفِي نُسْخَتِهَا هُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِلَّذِينَ هُمْ لِرَبِّهِمْ يَرْهَبُونَ (154)

    7|154| And when Musa's anger abated in him, he picked up the Tablets232 and in the inscription there was guidance, and mercy for those who fear their Lord.

    232. Majid comments: "`Tablets', not their fragments, which implies that the tablets were whole, not broken into pieces" (as in reports originating from Jewish sources: Au.).

    وَاخْتَارَ مُوسَىٰ قَوْمَهُ سَبْعِينَ رَجُلًا لِمِيقَاتِنَا ۖ فَلَمَّا أَخَذَتْهُمُ الرَّجْفَةُ قَالَ رَبِّ لَوْ شِئْتَ أَهْلَكْتَهُمْ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَإِيَّايَ ۖ أَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ السُّفَهَاءُ مِنَّا ۖ إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا فِتْنَتُكَ تُضِلُّ بِهَا مَنْ تَشَاءُ وَتَهْدِي مَنْ تَشَاءُ ۖ أَنْتَ وَلِيُّنَا فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا ۖ وَأَنْتَ خَيْرُ الْغَافِرِينَ (155)

    7|155| And Musa chose from his people seventy men for Our appointed time. But when the violent quaking seized them, he said, ‘My Lord! Had you willed, You could have destroyed them before me – and me too. Will you destroy us all for what the foolish ones of us have done?233 Surely, this is Your trial: You lead astray whom You will thereby, and guide whom you will. You are our Protector, therefore, forgive us and show us mercy. And, surely, You are the best of those who forgive.

    233. For an explanation refer to surah al Baqarah, note 136 of this work.

    وَاكْتُبْ لَنَا فِي هَٰذِهِ الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ إِنَّا هُدْنَا إِلَيْكَ ۚ قَالَ عَذَابِي أُصِيبُ بِهِ مَنْ أَشَاءُ ۖ وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ ۚ فَسَأَكْتُبُهَا لِلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ بِآيَاتِنَا يُؤْمِنُونَ (156)

    7|156| And, write for us in this world good, as also in the world to come. We have repented to You.'234 He responded, ‘My chastisement I smite therewith whom I will. But My mercy embraces all things.235 I shall write it down for those who fear, pay the alms, and those who truly believe in Our signs.

    234. The translation is based on the understanding of Ibn `Abbas, Sa`id ibn Jubayr, Dahhak and others as in Ibn Jarir.
    235. Anwar Shah Kashmiri has pointed out that the intent of the statement is that it is "the Attribute" of Mercy that circumscribes everything. It does not mean it should touch everyone, such as for instance, Satan, who will be shown no mercy (Shafi`).

    الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الرَّسُولَ النَّبِيَّ الْأُمِّيَّ الَّذِي يَجِدُونَهُ مَكْتُوبًا عِنْدَهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنْجِيلِ يَأْمُرُهُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَائِثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ فَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِهِ وَعَزَّرُوهُ وَنَصَرُوهُ وَاتَّبَعُوا النُّورَ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ مَعَهُ ۙ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ (157)

    7|157| Those, who follow the unlettered236 Messenger Prophet237 about whom they find written with them in Tawrah and Injil.238 He commands them good (and honorable) things, forbids them the repugnant,239 declares the clean things lawful, prohibits them the unclean, and removes from them their burdens and the fetters that were upon them.240 Therefore, those who believed in him, strengthened him,241 helped him and followed the Light that was sent down with him,242 they such indeed are the prosperers.

    236. Ummi is someone who cannot read and write.
    Imam Razi brings out the point that learning to read and write is one of the simplest things in life. In contrast, the knowledge that the Prophet (saws) gave to the world is of a sort that no mortal has ever presented. It is curious to note, therefore, that the Prophet was not capable of the easiest, but capable of the most difficult.
    Majid writes: "Even according to the Christian writers not altogether blinded by their hatred of Islam: ‘As to acquired learning, it is confessed he had none at all: having had no other education than what was customary in his tribe, who neglected, and perhaps despised, what we call literature' (Sale). ‘It is probable that he could neither read nor write, and it is almost certain that he could not have done so sufficiently' (Palmer). ‘There is no evidence that he was able to read' (EBr. XIII, p. 483)."
    Yusuf `Ali adds: "All organized human knowledge tends to be crystallized, to acquire a partial bias or flavor of some "school" of thought. The highest Teacher had to be free from any such taint, just as a clean slate is necessary if a perfectly clear and bold message has to be written on it."
    The verse offers a puzzle to the skeptics of all times. This is a Makkan chapter. During this period the Prophet was entirely in the limelight. His every movement was looked at with suspicion and carefully monitored. He had no contacts with the Jews and Christians, who were not part of the Makkan population. To add to the puzzle, he was unlettered, notwithstanding the fact that being able to read and write would not have meant much because there were no books around. How then was he able to narrate the Jewish episodes to such details as here and else where in the Qur’an? (Au.).
    237. What is the difference between a Messenger and a Prophet? There seems to be no consensus except that a Messenger is more specific than a Prophet; so that, every Messenger is also a Prophet, while every Prophet is not a Messenger too. Shah Abdul Qadir seems to have put it quite succinctly when he said: "Anyone who received revelation was a Prophet, but, of them, whoever was sent to a people or given a Book, was a Messenger" (Muhammad Abdul Rashid No`mani).
    238. Ibn Kathir quotes several reports from several hadith and non hadith works to prove that the people of the Book had fore knowledge of the Prophet's advent, and knew his description. But most of those reports leave a question mark before them over their authenticity. The following is in Ahmad which, as Ibn Kathir himself has pointed out, has its equivalent in the Sahihayn. A bedouin reports:


    جَلَبْتُ جَلُوبَةً إِلَى الْمَدِينَةِ فِي حَيَاةِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَلَمَّا فَرَغْتُ مِنْ بَيْعَتِي قُلْتُ لَأَلْقَيَنَّ هَذَا الرَّجُلَ فَلَأَسْمَعَنَّ مِنْهُ قَالَ فَتَلَقَّانِي بَيْنَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ يَمْشُونَ فَتَبِعْتُهُمْ فِي أَقْفَائِهِمْ حَتَّى أَتَوْا عَلَى رَجُلٍ مِنْ الْيَهُودِ نَاشِرًا التَّوْرَاةَ يَقْرَؤُهَا يُعَزِّي بِهَا نَفْسَهُ عَلَى ابْنٍ لَهُ فِي الْمَوْتِ كَأَحْسَنِ الْفِتْيَانِ وَأَجْمَلِهِ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنْشُدُكَ بِالَّذِي أَنْزَلَ التَّوْرَاةَ هَلْ تَجِدُ فِي كِتَابِكَ ذَا صِفَتِي وَمَخْرَجِي فَقَالَ بِرَأْسِهِ هَكَذَا أَيْ لَا فَقَالَ ابْنُهُ إِنِّي وَالَّذِي أَنْزَلَ التَّوْرَاةَ إِنَّا لَنَجِدُ فِي كِتَابِنَا صِفَتَكَ وَمَخْرَجَكَ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّكَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ فَقَالَ أَقِيمُوا الْيَهُودَ عَنْ أَخِيكُمْ ثُمَّ وَلِيَ كَفَنَهُ وَحَنَّطَهُ وَصَلَّى عَلَيْهِ


    "Once I went to Madinah during the Prophet's time to sell my camel. After I had accomplished that, I said to myself that I should visit this man also (meaning the Prophet) and see what he has to say. I found him heading to some place. He was between Abu Bakr and `Umar. I followed them until we came to a Jew's house who was reading the Torah upon his beautiful but dying son. The Prophet asked him, ‘I adjure you by Him who revealed the Tawrah, do you find me described therein, and the place of my advent?" The man shook his head in negation. But his son spoke out, ‘By Him who sent the Torah, we do find in our Book your description and of the place of your advent. And I testify that there is no god save one Allah and that you are His Messenger.' The Prophet said, ‘Separate the Jew from your brother.' Later, he ordered the preparation of the lad's funeral and Prayed over him."
    Qurtubi and Shawkani point out that Bukhari has a hadith (2125) concerning the Prophet's description in the previous Scriptures. `Ata' b. Yasar says:


    عَنْ عَطَاءِ بْنِ يَسَارٍ قَالَ لَقِيتُ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عَمْرِو بْنِ الْعَاصِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا قُلْتُ أَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ صِفَةِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ قَالَ أَجَلْ وَاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لَمَوْصُوفٌ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ بِبَعْضِ صِفَتِهِ فِي الْقُرْآنِ {يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ شَاهِدًا وَمُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا} وَحِرْزًا لِلْأُمِّيِّينَ أَنْتَ عَبْدِي وَرَسُولِي سَمَّيْتُكَ المتَوَكِّلَ لَيْسَ بِفَظٍّ وَلَا غَلِيظٍ وَلَا سَخَّابٍ فِي الْأَسْوَاقِ وَلَا يَدْفَعُ بِالسَّيِّئَةِ السَّيِّئَةَ وَلَكِنْ يَعْفُو وَيَغْفِرُ وَلَنْ يَقْبِضَهُ اللَّهُ حَتَّى يُقِيمَ بِهِ الْمِلَّةَ الْعَوْجَاءَ بِأَنْ يَقُولُوا لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَيَفْتَحُ بِهَا أَعْيُنًا عُمْيًا وَآذَانًا صُمًّا وَقُلُوبًا غُلْفًا.


    "I met `Abdullah ibn `Amr b. al `As. I asked him, ‘Will you tell me how the Prophet has been described in the Tawrah?' He said, ‘I will. By Allah, he is described in the Tawrah in words that are also in the Qur'an: O Messenger. We have sent you a witness, giver of glad tidings, a warner and a means of security for the unlettered ones. You are My slave and Messenger. I have named you "Mutawakkil." You are neither severe nor hard hearted, nor one shouting out in the markets... He does not respond with an evil for an evil. Rather, he forgives and overlooks. Allah will not complete his term without straightening up a crooked nation by making them believe in "There is no god save Allah." He will open blind eyes, deaf ears and sealed hearts.'
    Majid on a lesser scale, but Rashid Rida in greater measure, deal with the subject of the prophecy concerning the Prophet in the Old and the New Testaments. Majid quotes from the Scriptures and then offers his own comments. However, wherever it was felt that the comment was not fully relevant, this writer has taken the liberty to insert his own comments:
    Here are a few references with a running commentary by Majid:
    1. ‘I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth: and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him' (Dt. 18: 17, 18).
    Comments: The word ‘their' is referring to the Israelites, ‘their brethren; must clearly be the Ismailites; and thus the promised prophet must be an Ismailite. ‘Like unto thee' obviously means ‘like unto Moses' in having a Law of his own.'
    2. ‘The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousand of saints; from his right hand went a fiery law for them' (Dt. 33: 2).
    Comments: Coming after Moses (‘from Sinai') and Jesus (‘from Seir') the allusion in ‘from mount Paran', which is in Makkah, is clearly to the prophet born in Makka. It was he who entered that city as a victor at the head of 10,000 saintly companions and holding in his hand ‘a fiery law.'
    3. ‘And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him truthful, and will multiply him exceedingly: twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation' (Ge. 17: 21).
    Comments. This promise to bless Ismail found its complete fulfillment in the person of Muhammad (on him be peace) an Ismailite being appointed the prophet for the entire world.
    4. The scepter shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruler from his thigh, till he come that is to be sent, and he shall be the expectation of nations' (49: 10 DV).
    Comments: It was the advent of the Ismailite ‘sent one' that prophecy in Israel ceased, and it was he under whom the nations of the world gathered.
    5. ‘I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever' (Ps. 45: 17).
    Comments: ‘Muhammad' is literally ‘the praised one.' And it is his name coupled with that of his Creator, which is being proclaimed from the mosque minarets five times every day throughout the world.
    6. ‘Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, ... he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles ... And the isles shall wait for his law' (Is. 42: 1, 4).
    Comments: It is precisely Muhammad, the ‘servant of God' and His ‘elect' (Mustafa) who brought judgment to the Gentiles, and whose law has been awaited by the distant ‘isles.'
    7. ‘Yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend' (Ps. 5: 16).
    Comments: The word ‘lovely' used in the English Bible is a substitute for the Hebrew one, "Mohammadin." As this name of our Prophet is noun adjective, the sacred poet uses it in a manner answering both the interpretation of a proper noun and an adjective' (Syed Ahmad Khan).
    Majid continues: As further reference, the following may be cited: Hab. 3: 3; Hag. 2: 7 9; Mal. 3: 1.
    (As for the Gospels) Even in the manipulated and mutilated New Testament of the present day the allusions are neither too scanty nor too enigmatic.
    1. ‘Did ye never read in the scripture, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner; this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? Therefore I say unto you, The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder' (Mt. 21: 42 44).
    Comments: It was the very Prophet who was rejected by the Jews and Christians who became the corner stone of Religion. Without Muhammad's appearance, there would have remained no such thing as Religion on the face of the earth except for practices of the forest cultures. The Prophet said about himself in a hadith of Bukhari and others: "My example and that of other Prophets is like that of a man who built a house. He completed it and did a good job of it except for leaving the space of a brick blank. People began to enter and go around the house admiring it, but saying, ‘Had this gap been filled with a brick!' Lo. I am that brick, and I am the seal of the Prophets" (Au.).
    2. ‘Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high' (Lk. 24: 49).
    3. ‘Who art thou? And he confessed and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, what then? Art thou Elias? And he said, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. ... And they asked him, and said unto him, why baptizes thou then, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias neither that prophet' (Lk. 24: 49).
    Comments: The questions were put by the learned among the Jews to John the Baptist, which indicate that besides Christ and Elias, they expected another prophet, who was so well known as the awaited one that instead of designating him by name, a mere pronoun, ‘that prophet' was deemed sufficient.
    4. ‘Many of the people, therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ' (Jn. 7: 40 41).
    Comments: Another clear reference to the advent of the well known prophet, ‘the Prophet.'
    5. ‘And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever' (Jn. 14: 16).
    6. ‘But when the Comforter is come, when I shall send unto you from the Father even the spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me' (Jn. 15: 26).
    Note by Rashid Rida: The Comforter of English is Farqalit of Arabic.
    7. ‘And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.... Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will shew you things to come' (Jn. 16: 8 13).
    Comments (on 5, 6 and 7): These descriptions of the Comforter exactly fit the holy Prophet. He it is who, as the Final Prophet, brought an abiding Message (`abiding with you for ever'), who testified to the truth of Jesus (`he shall testify to me'), and who ‘reproved the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.' And he, above all, was the Divine mouthpiece, reproducing the words of God precisely as he received them (`he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak')." The Qur'an said about him (53: 3): "He does not speak on his own. It is nothing but a revelation being sent down" (Au.).
    239. To mention 'amr bi al ma`ruf wa al nahyu `an al munkar immediately after mentioning the sending of the revelation is perhaps to impress upon the minds the importance of this institution (Rashid Rida).
    240. The reference here is to the tough measures imposed on the Israelites because of their rebellious attitudes, as in the verse (3: 160, 161):


    فَبِظُلْمٍ مِنَ الَّذِينَ هَادُوا حَرَّمْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ طَيِّبَاتٍ أُحِلَّتْ لَهُمْ وَبِصَدِّهِمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ كَثِيرًا (160) وَأَخْذِهِمُ الرِّبَا وَقَدْ نُهُوا عَنْهُ وَأَكْلِهِمْ أَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ مِنْهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا [النساء : 160 ، 161]


    "Therefore, because of the transgressions of those who Judaized themselves, We made some of those good things unlawful to them that were (originally) lawful; and because of their hindering many from the path of Allah; and, because of their acceptance of usury, although they were prohibited; and (their) consuming people's wealth without right."
    The new measures spoken of here include those that were declared prohibited but made lawful by the priestly class, such as usury (Shabbir).
    241. Shafi` points out that the textual word for "strengthen" is `azzara which in its root signifies "preventing (something from someone) and protecting him, out of love." Its extended meaning is to respect and honor someone to a high degree.
    242. To state in the beginning of the verse: "those, who follow the unlettered Messenger Prophet," and at the end, "followed the Light that was sent down with him," is to emphasize that both the Sunnah and the Qur'an have to be essentially followed for salvation (Shafi`).

    قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ النَّبِيِّ الْأُمِّيِّ الَّذِي يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَكَلِمَاتِهِ وَاتَّبِعُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ (158)

    7|158| Say, (O Prophet), ‘O people. Verily, I am Allah's Messenger unto you all,243 He to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no god but He. He gives life and deals death. Therefore believe in Allah and His unlettered244 Messenger Prophet who himself believes in Allah and His words. And obey him, haply you will be (rightly) guided.'

    243. With regard to the universality of the Prophet the following hadith can be quoted:


    أُعْطِيتُ خَمْسًا لَمْ يُعْطَهُنَّ أَحَدٌ قَبْلِى : نُصِرْتُ بِالرُّعْبِ مَسِيرَةَ شَهْرٍ ، وَجُعِلَتْ لِىَ الأَرْضُ مَسْجِدًا وَطَهُورًا ، فَأَيُّمَا رَجُلٍ مِنْ أُمَّتِى أَدْرَكَتْهُ الصَّلاَةُ فَلْيُصَلِّ ، وَأُحِلَّتْ لِىَ الْغَنَائِمُ وَلَمْ تَحِلَّ لأَحَدٍ قَبْلِى ، وَأُعْطِيتُ الشَّفَاعَةَ ، وَكَانَ النَّبِىُّ يُبْعَثُ إِلَى قَوْمِهِ خَاصَّةً وَبُعِثْتُ إِلَى النَّاسِ عَامَّةً


    "I have been bestowed with five things that no Prophet was bestowed before me. (i) I have been helped with awe from the distance of a month. (ii) The whole of the earth has been declared clean for me. Therefore, wherever a man might be, he can pray right there when the time arrives. (iii) War spoils have been made lawful unto me. They were unlawful before me unto everyone. (iv) I have been gifted with the (general) ‘Intercession.' Finally, (v) Prophets before me used to be sent to their own people. I have been sent to the entire humankind" (Razi).
    Ibn Kathir adds: The above report is in the Sahihayn narrated by Jabir b. `Abdullah. Another hadith of Muslim says:


    وَالَّذِى نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ لاَ يَسْمَعُ بِى أَحَدٌ مِنْ هَذِهِ الأُمَّةِ يَهُودِىٌّ وَلاَ نَصْرَانِىٌّ ثُمَّ يَمُوتُ وَلَمْ يُؤْمِنْ بِالَّذِى أُرْسِلْتُ بِهِ إِلاَّ كَانَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ النَّارِ


    By Him in whose hand is my soul, no Jew nor Christian of this Ummah will hear of me and die off, without believing in what I have brought, but he will be a companion of the Fire."
    Sayyid Qutb writes, in effect: This verse in which the Prophet (saws) has been ordered to confront the whole of the mankind with his message, belongs to a chapter that is wholly Makkan. It thus confronts those dilettantes of the Western world who allege that the Prophet initially intended no more than to seize power from the Makkans. It was only when he had subdued the Makkans that he thought of extending his power to the rest of the Arabian Peninsula. Eventually, it was only after his successes in the previous ventures that he began to dream of extending his domain over the rest of the world. This allegation is one of the several slanders that they hurled against the Prophet and the universal message that he brought.
    244. The repetition of the epithet "the unlettered" seems to be to emphasize that he remained unlettered to the end (Au.).

    وَمِنْ قَوْمِ مُوسَىٰ أُمَّةٌ يَهْدُونَ بِالْحَقِّ وَبِهِ يَعْدِلُونَ (159)

    7|159| And, of the people of Musa, there are some who guide to the truth and by it they judge.245

    245. The allusion by these words could be to those Jews who believed in `Isa (asws) when he appeared as well as those who believed in Prophet Muhammad at his advent (Razi).

    وَقَطَّعْنَاهُمُ اثْنَتَيْ عَشْرَةَ أَسْبَاطًا أُمَمًا ۚ وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ مُوسَىٰ إِذِ اسْتَسْقَاهُ قَوْمُهُ أَنِ اضْرِبْ بِعَصَاكَ الْحَجَرَ ۖ فَانْبَجَسَتْ مِنْهُ اثْنَتَا عَشْرَةَ عَيْنًا ۖ قَدْ عَلِمَ كُلُّ أُنَاسٍ مَشْرَبَهُمْ ۚ وَظَلَّلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ الْغَمَامَ وَأَنْزَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَنَّ وَالسَّلْوَىٰ ۖ كُلُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ ۚ وَمَا ظَلَمُونَا وَلَٰكِنْ كَانُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ (160)

    7|160| And We cut them up into twelve246 nation tribes. And We revealed to Musa when his people sought water from him that, ‘you strike the rock with your staff.' And lo, gushed forth therefrom twelve springs. Every people knew their watering place. And We hung upon them the clouds, and sent down upon them Mann and the quails? ‘Eat of the good things that We have provided you. And they wronged Us not, but rather, they were wronging themselves.

    246. The break has been placed at this point following the explanation of Ibn Jarir of the word "asbat" being in plural and the figure "ithnatay `ashara" feminine.

    وَإِذْ قِيلَ لَهُمُ اسْكُنُوا هَٰذِهِ الْقَرْيَةَ وَكُلُوا مِنْهَا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمْ وَقُولُوا حِطَّةٌ وَادْخُلُوا الْبَابَ سُجَّدًا نَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ خَطِيئَاتِكُمْ ۚ سَنَزِيدُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ (161)

    7|161| And when they were told, ‘Dwell in this town and eat from wheresoever you will, and say, "Hittatun," and enter at the gate prostrating. We shall forgive you your sins, (and) increase (the rewards of) those who excel.'

    فَبَدَّلَ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْهُمْ قَوْلًا غَيْرَ الَّذِي قِيلَ لَهُمْ فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ رِجْزًا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ بِمَا كَانُوا يَظْلِمُونَ (162)

    7|162| But those of them who transgressed, substituted the word with other than that they were told. So We sent upon them a scourge from the heaven for their (repeated) transgressions.247

    247. For an explanation of this passage, see surah al Baqarah of this work, notes 137 144 (verses 160 162).

    وَاسْأَلْهُمْ عَنِ الْقَرْيَةِ الَّتِي كَانَتْ حَاضِرَةَ الْبَحْرِ إِذْ يَعْدُونَ فِي السَّبْتِ إِذْ تَأْتِيهِمْ حِيتَانُهُمْ يَوْمَ سَبْتِهِمْ شُرَّعًا وَيَوْمَ لَا يَسْبِتُونَ ۙ لَا تَأْتِيهِمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَبْلُوهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ (163)

    7|163| Ask them concerning the township which overlooked the sea whose (inhabitants) were transgressing the Sabbath248 when their fish came to them on the day of their Sabbath swarming on the surface, while on the day they did not observe Sabbath, they did not come.249 That is how We tested them because of their corruptions.250

    248. The allusion by "the transgression" is to the habitual violation of Sabbath taboos. The words, "on the day they did not observe Sabbath," further substantiate this (Zamakhshari).
    249. Husayn b. al Fadl was asked: "Do you find anywhere in Allah's Book that the lawful comes to you in quantities just enough, whereas the unlawful comes in abundance?" He answered, "Yes. It is in Allah's words: ‘When their fish would come to them on the day of their Sabbath swarming on the surface, while on the day they did not observe Sabbath, they would not'" (Qurtubi).
    Sayyid Qutb comments on the nature of the phenomenon enunciated in this passage. He writes, in effect: As to how did such a strange thing occur, so that the fishes danced before their eyes to provoke them? The answer is, it is a miracle that comes into force by the command of Allah and by His will. Those who lack knowledge believe that things have to follow the ‘laws of nature' and have to happen in a preset pattern. But Islamic concepts, the true concepts, suggest to us different notions. They tell us that it is Allah who created this universe and set it in motion following in the normal run of the course a set of physical laws. But these physical laws are not free to act independently. They are bound to the will of Allah. They do not bind the will of Allah. His will imposes itself upon every other will. Whenever He wishes to move things on another pattern, He abrogates the rule of the ‘physical laws' to impose what His will decrees. In other words, nothing happens mechanically, automatically, on a rigid pattern, rather, is completely dependent on the Will of Allah, in its details, and in its aggregate, following either the physical laws laid down, or another, abrogating set of laws. In the final analysis, it is Allah's Active Will that prevails.
    250. (The Israelites failed the test and tried to play with the rules. They would build barges on Saturdays to trap the fish and collect them on Sundays. Or they would lay traps and baits on Saturday pulling out the fish only on Sunday: Au.). Or they, "cut canals from the sea for the fish to enter, with sluices, which they shut on the day of Sabbath, to prevent their return to the sea" (Majid).
    The Prophet has warned his nation of trickery against Allah's commandments. He said in a hadith which can be graded as trustworthy:


    لا ترتكبوا ما ارتكبت اليهود، فتستحلوا محارم الله بأدنى الحيل


    "Do not attempt to do what the Jews did: making the unlawful, lawful by playing with the rules" (Ibn Kathir).
    Thanwi clarifies an issue: As for the heelah (roughly, a stratagem) that the jurists have allowed, they cannot be equated with what is described as the "playing with the rules" as mentioned in the above hadith because it is not the going round a commandment, or nullification of an objective that is intended or achieved by heelah.

    وَإِذْ قَالَتْ أُمَّةٌ مِنْهُمْ لِمَ تَعِظُونَ قَوْمًا ۙ اللَّهُ مُهْلِكُهُمْ أَوْ مُعَذِّبُهُمْ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا ۖ قَالُوا مَعْذِرَةً إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ (164)

    7|164| When a group of them said, ‘Why do you admonish a people whom Allah is wont to destroy, or will chastise them with a terrible chastisement (in the Hereafter)?' They replied, ‘As an excuse to your Lord. And (who knows?) they might be godfearing.'

    فَلَمَّا نَسُوا مَا ذُكِّرُوا بِهِ أَنْجَيْنَا الَّذِينَ يَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ السُّوءِ وَأَخَذْنَا الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا بِعَذَابٍ بَئِيسٍ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ (165)

    7|165| So, when they forgot all about what they were reminded, We rescued those who forbid them the evil251 and seized those who transgressed with a severe chastisement because of what corruptions they indulged in.252

    251. Although conflicting opinions have come down from the earliest commentators in Tabari and others, it seems they were inclined to believe that the third group, which neither violated the Sabbath nor forbid the transgressors, were among those who were rescued. Further, as Zamakhshari has hinted, the group that prevented others from admonishing them could only be those who had already tried on their own and failed to convince the Sabbath violators of the consequences of their crime. Hence, they could be counted as those who forbade. The point that `Ikrimah brought out for a worried Ibn `Abbas who said that "we too on many occasions do not forbid the wrong that we see committed before us" was that the Qur'an itself confirms that the group which did not forbid, disapproved of the Sabbath violators and were opposed to them, hence could not be punished along with the violators. In the end Ibn `Abbas felt convinced and gifted `Ikrimah a pair of clothes for relieving him (Au). That is also the opinion of Hasan (Zamakhshari).
    252. Imam Razi and Shabbir have stated that this verse implies that the transgressors were first punished with a lower order punishment before the final, transformation into apes.

    فَلَمَّا عَتَوْا عَنْ مَا نُهُوا عَنْهُ قُلْنَا لَهُمْ كُونُوا قِرَدَةً خَاسِئِينَ (166)

    7|166| When they treated with disdain that which they were forbidden, We ordered, ‘Be apes, disgraced.'253

    253. Ibn `Abbas has said that some people have conjectured that the young were transformed into apes while the old ones into swine (Ibn Jarir).
    For details of this episode see surah al Baqarah of this work, note no. 159.
    It is interesting to see how close modern developments in Science have come to solving some of the enigmatic statements of the Qur'an. Modern research in the field of molecular biology reveals that the script for the entire human body is written in a coded form, concealed in every cell of the body. They are in the form of chromosomes composed of nucleic acid arranged in a certain fashion and packed into the nucleus of the cells. The coded messages involving anything from hundreds to thousands of molecules are called genes. The alteration of a single molecule out of the 4 billion base pairs in which the genetic message is concealed (in biological terms a single mutation), can mean a completely different message being issued to the cell machinery. It can even spell out death for the organism. An example is that of the sickle cell disease which is caused by a single mutation. It would have, therefore, taken no more than a few mutations, or perhaps just one, at the genetic level an operation lasting a few seconds to convert the Israelites from humans into apes or even swine. We do not assert however, that the transformation of the Israelites into apes and swine would have necessarily been brought about through mutations at the cellular level. Allah has power over all things. A command would have been sufficient without any mutational obligation. But this kind of information may offer relief to those who feel uncomfortable at the idea of transmutation (Au.).
    Answering the question whether the present day swine and apes are the progeny of those transformed Jews, the Prophet said no. See hadith under note 170 of Surah al-Ma’idah (Au.).

    وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكَ لَيَبْعَثَنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ مَنْ يَسُومُهُمْ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ ۗ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَسَرِيعُ الْعِقَابِ ۖ وَإِنَّهُ لَغَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (167)

    7|167| And (remember) when your Lord declared that He shall send upon them until the Day of Judgment those who will afflict them with an evil chastisement.254 Surely, your Lord is swift in retribution although He is very Forgiving, very Kind.

    254. Accordingly, they have always remained subservient to one power or the other (Ibn Kathir).
    A highly influential American Jew has said during an interview that if USA withdraws its support to Israel, it cannot last more than five years (Au.).
    Majid quotes the Torah: "And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies; they that hate you shall reign over you; and you shall flee when none pursueth you" (Le. 26: 17). "And thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed away." (Dt. 28: 33)
    Writing about 150 years earlier, Alusi stated: "They shall ever remain until the Day of Judgment under the domain of others; the fact being not contradicted by what will happen at the time of `Isa's second advent, since that will be very close to the end of the world."
    Sayyid Qutb quotes this verse at an earlier point (verse 152) and offers the following comment: "Whenever it happened in a historical phase that they rebelled in the land, imposing their authority over non Jews or, as the Talmud has termed them: the Goyim they came to possess power, wealth, means of the media, dictating their oppressive terms and conditions to achieve their objectives, humiliating Allah's creations, throwing them out of their homes into the deserts, with the backing of the misguided nations of the world, all of which we once again witness in our own times .. all of that did not contradict the promise made to them by Allah, nor what is written as their ultimate fate. Today, they are indeed hoarding hatred into the breasts of the people by their acts, and stockpiling frustration and anger against themselves .. If they happen to be so overbearing in Palestine today, it is only because their opponents have not prepared themselves religiously .. they have not yet returned to Islam; they are a divided lot, a people who get together under the banner of nationalism. They do not assemble under the banner of Islam. Therefore, they fail and Israel eats them up. Nevertheless, this situation will not last. It is a period of stupor and neglect of the great weapon: unity, a single strategy, a single banner with the help of which they overcame them for over a thousand years, with which alone they shall overcome them again, and without which they in turn shall be overcome."

    وَقَطَّعْنَاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أُمَمًا ۖ مِنْهُمُ الصَّالِحُونَ وَمِنْهُمْ دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ ۖ وَبَلَوْنَاهُمْ بِالْحَسَنَاتِ وَالسَّيِّئَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ (168)

    7|168| And We cut them up into (small) communities in the lands: some of them righteous, while others among them are otherwise. And We tried them with good things and evil, that haply they will return.

    فَخَلَفَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ وَرِثُوا الْكِتَابَ يَأْخُذُونَ عَرَضَ هَٰذَا الْأَدْنَىٰ وَيَقُولُونَ سَيُغْفَرُ لَنَا وَإِنْ يَأْتِهِمْ عَرَضٌ مِثْلُهُ يَأْخُذُوهُ ۚ أَلَمْ يُؤْخَذْ عَلَيْهِمْ مِيثَاقُ الْكِتَابِ أَنْ لَا يَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْحَقَّ وَدَرَسُوا مَا فِيهِ ۗ وَالدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ ۗ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ (169)

    7|169| Then came after them evil successors who inherited the Book, who accept chance goods of this lower world saying, ‘We shall be forgiven.'255 But, when similar chance commodity comes their way, they accept it.256 Had not the compact of the Book taken from them that they shall not utter about Allah but the truth? while they had studied what was in it?257 The abode of the Hereafter is better for those who are godfearing. Will you not then contemplate?

    255. Yusuf Ali writes what is applicable to many Muslim nations of today, especially those who talk about Islam the loudest whose bodies are in the east, but hearts in the West: "Merely inheriting a Book, or doing lip service to it, does not make a nation righteous. If they succumb to the temptations of the world, their hypocrisy becomes all the more glaring."
    256. That is, they would sell their religion (by misinterpreting the Law) for a paltry price; subsequently, realizing that it was not allowed, they would repent and seek forgiveness; but when a similar opportunity showed up, they grabbed it again (Ibn Kathir).
    257. This kind of behavior can be seen as prevalent in this Ummah also. Mu`adh ibn Jabal had said: "The Qur'an will get worn out in the hearts just as clothes get worn out. They will recite it but will not find any pleasure therein. They will wear sheep's clothes to cover the hearts of wolves. Their deeds would spring entirely from their avarice, with no fear (of Allah). If they fall short they will say, ‘We shall soon make up.' If they commit evil, they will say, ‘We shall be forgiven; (after all) We do not associate partners with Allah'" (Qurtubi).
    It seems that if Yusuf Ali foresaw the rulers, Mu`adh ibn Jabal foresaw the masses of our times (Au.).

    وَالَّذِينَ يُمَسِّكُونَ بِالْكِتَابِ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّا لَا نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُصْلِحِينَ (170)

    7|170| As for those who hold fast unto the Book, perform the Prayer (regularly and properly), surely, We do not let go waste reward of the reformers.

    وَإِذْ نَتَقْنَا الْجَبَلَ فَوْقَهُمْ كَأَنَّهُ ظُلَّةٌ وَظَنُّوا أَنَّهُ وَاقِعٌ بِهِمْ خُذُوا مَا آتَيْنَاكُمْ بِقُوَّةٍ وَاذْكُرُوا مَا فِيهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ (171)

    7|171| And (recall) when We suspended258 the mountain over them, as if it was a canopy, and they were apprehensive that it would fall on them. (We said then), ‘Accept what We have given you and remember what is therein, haply you will (learn to) fear (Allah).259

    258. The word nataqa signifies pulling up a thing and lifting it, while rafa`a only implies lifting or raising it (Shafi`).
    259. See surah al Baqarah, note no. 157 for its explanation.

    وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِنْ بَنِي آدَمَ مِنْ ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَىٰ أَنْفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ ۛ شَهِدْنَا ۛ أَنْ تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَٰذَا غَافِلِينَ (172)

    7|172| And when Your Lord took from the loins of Adam's children their offspring and made them testify concerning themselves,260 ‘Am I not your Lord?' They replied, ‘Yes. We261 do testify,'262 lest you should say on the Day of Judgment, ‘We were completely in dark over this.'

    260. One opinion is that the allusion is to the birth of Adam's progeny, generation after generation, and rising of Prophets among them. The testimony in this case, by the progeny, would be to the signs of Allah's oneness that are spread all over. The preferred meaning however is as follows (Shanqiti).
    Tirmidhi has a hadith that he has narrated as a commentary over this verse. Abu Hurayrah says the Prophet (saws) said:


    لَمَّا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ آدَمَ مَسَحَ ظَهْرَهُ فَسَقَطَ مِنْ ظَهْرِهِ كُلُّ نَسَمَةٍ هُوَ خَالِقُهَا مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِهِ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَ عَيْنَيْ كُلِّ إِنْسَانٍ مِنْهُمْ وَبِيصًا مِنْ نُورٍ ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى آدَمَ فَقَالَ أَيْ رَبِّ مَنْ هَؤُلَاءِ قَالَ هَؤُلَاءِ ذُرِّيَّتُكَ فَرَأَى رَجُلًا مِنْهُمْ فَأَعْجَبَهُ وَبِيصُ مَا بَيْنَ عَيْنَيْهِ فَقَالَ أَيْ رَبِّ مَنْ هَذَا فَقَالَ هَذَا رَجُلٌ مِنْ آخِرِ الْأُمَمِ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِكَ يُقَالُ لَهُ دَاوُدُ فَقَالَ رَبِّ كَمْ جَعَلْتَ عُمْرَهُ قَالَ سِتِّينَ سَنَةً قَالَ أَيْ رَبِّ زِدْهُ مِنْ عُمْرِي أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً فَلَمَّا قُضِيَ عُمْرُ آدَمَ جَاءَهُ مَلَكُ الْمَوْتِ فَقَالَ أَوَلَمْ يَبْقَ مِنْ عُمْرِي أَرْبَعُونَ سَنَةً قَالَ أَوَلَمْ تُعْطِهَا ابْنَكَ دَاوُدَ قَالَ فَجَحَدَ آدَمُ فَجَحَدَتْ ذُرِّيَّتُهُ وَنُسِّيَ آدَمُ فَنُسِّيَتْ ذُرِّيَّتُهُ وَخَطِئَ آدَمُ فَخَطِئَتْ ذُرِّيَّتُهُ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ


    "When Allah had created Adam He stroked his back. His entire progeny that He was to create fell out. He placed a bright spot of Light between the two eyes on everyone's face. Then He presented them to Adam. Adam enquired: "Who are these O my Lord?" He told him that they were his progeny. Adam spotted one among them whose spot of bright light attracted his attention. He asked: "Who is this my Lord?" He answered: "This is one of your progeny to appear close to the end who'd be called Da'ud." He asked: "What age have you determined for him my Lord?" He was told that it was sixty years. Adam said: "My Lord! I gift forty years of my life to him." When Adam had completed his term and the angel of death appeared before him, he asked him whether another forty years of his age were still not in store. The angel reminded him that he had gifted away forty years of his life to his son Da'ud. Thus, (the Prophet added), Adam contested and his progeny contests. Adam forgot and his progeny forgets. Adam committed an error and his progeny commits errors."
    Hakim has also narrated this hadith by another route grading it as Sahih by the criterion of the Sheikhayn although they did not narrate it themselves (Ibn Kathir).
    The above hadith, although brought by Tirmidhi as a commentary on the verse under discussion does not mention the compact taken from Adam's progeny. There are other ahadith that do, but they are, as pointed out by Ibn Kathir, weak of narrators. Nevertheless, there is one in the Musnad narrated by Imam Ahmad's son, as well as in Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Marduwayh reported by Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id b. Jubayr, Hasan, Qatadah, Suddi and others that speaks of the compact. Yet another hadith is in Ahmad, reported by Ibn `Abbas, as well as in Nasa'i and Hakim, who declared it as of the same quality as one of the Sahihayn. It says the Prophet said:


    أَخَذَ اللَّهُ الْمِيثَاقَ مِنْ ظَهْرِ آدَمَ بِنَعْمَانَ يَعْنِي عَرَفَةَ فَأَخْرَجَ مِنْ صُلْبِهِ كُلَّ ذُرِّيَّةٍ ذَرَأَهَا فَنَثَرَهُمْ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ كَالذَّرِّ ثُمَّ كَلَّمَهُمْ قِبَلًا قَالَ { أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ قَالُوا بَلَى شَهِدْنَا .. إلى .. أَفَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ الْمُبْطِلُونَ }


    "Allah took the compact from Adam's progeny in (a place called) No`man on the day of `Arafah bringing out everyone who was to take birth, like ants, assembling them before Himself and taking the compact speaking to them directly." Then the Prophet recited this verse (Ibn Kathir, Manar and others).
    As for the difference between the Qur'anic passage (which says Allah took compact from the offspring brought out from Adam's progeny) and the traditions (that speak of Allah bringing out Adam's progeny from his back), the difference is of no consequence, because, as Jurjani has pointed out (Ibn al-Qayyim, Manar), both give different details and complete the narration when taken together.
    Hasan's interpretation of the verse, however, with Ibn Kathir himself inclined towards it, is that a direct speech between Adam's progeny and Allah might not have taken place, rather, the episode might be expressive of a condition obtained, viz., an instinctive cognition of the fact of Allah's Lordship being placed in them. Zamakhshari is of the opinion that the episode is in essence metaphorical (e.g., "When We wish a thing to come into being We say to "it", ‘Be' and it is" in this verse "the thing to be created" is addressed although, non existent). [Qadi Baydawi was also of the same opinion: Alusi].
    In this instance the allegory expresses the truth that belief in Allah as the Lord of the worlds is implanted in the very nature of man. So that, the Prophet said:


    كُلُّ مَوْلُودٍ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ


    "Every new soul is born on fitrah."
    Another hadith says:


    وَإِنِّي خَلَقْتُ عِبَادِي حُنَفَاءَ كُلَّهُمْ فَأَتَتْهُمُ الشَّيَاطِينُ فَاجْتَالَتْهُمْ عَنْ دِينِهِمْ


    "(Allah says), ‘I created My slaves hunafa' on pure Tawhid. Then came the Satans who broke them away from their religion.'"
    A third hadith in the Sahihayn says

    ,
    يُقَالُ لِلرَّجُلِ مِنْ أَهْلِ النَّارِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَرَأَيْتَ لَوْ كَانَ لَكَ مَا عَلَى الْأَرْضِ مِنْ شَيْءٍ أَكُنْتَ مُفْتَدِيًا بِهِ قَالَ فَيَقُولُ نَعَمْ قَالَ فَيَقُولُ قَدْ أَرَدْتُ مِنْكَ أَهْوَنَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ قَدْ أَخَذْتُ عَلَيْكَ فِي ظَهْرِ آدَمَ أَنْ لَا تُشْرِكَ بِي شَيْئًا فَأَبَيْتَ إِلَّا أَنْ تُشْرِكَ بِي


    "A man of the people of the Fire will be asked on the Day of Judgment, ‘Do you think you would ransom anything from the earth to escape punishment?' He will answer, ‘Yes.' Allah will say, ‘I asked you for something simpler. I took compact of you while you were still in Adam's loins that you will not suggest partners unto Me. But you would not accept less than suggesting partners unto Me.'" Manar).
    Mufti Shafi` adds: The system of bay`ah resorted to by the Sufis has its justification in this verse as well as several others such as verse 10 of surah al Fath, as also in a few traditions.
    261. According to some commentators, the preceding "Yes" is from the souls but "We" stands for Allah in which case the sentence would be rendered as "We took the covenant" (Au.).
    262. Thanwi clearly displays his impatience with the rationalists when he writes: If it is asked, ‘How could so many (billions) be placed anywhere?' The answer is, ‘They might have been reduced to the size of ants.' And if it is asked, ‘How could such tiny ones be endowed with reason and intelligence?' The answer is, ‘Are not the ants intelligent enough?.'
    If the placement of billions on a single platform is incredible, more incredible is that a single cell invisible to the human eye has a tiny nucleus within it, which contains (apart from other things) the DNA strands made up of some 3-4 billion molecules called nucleotides (Au.).

    أَوْ تَقُولُوا إِنَّمَا أَشْرَكَ آبَاؤُنَا مِنْ قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا ذُرِّيَّةً مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ ۖ أَفَتُهْلِكُنَا بِمَا فَعَلَ الْمُبْطِلُونَ (173)

    7|173| Or you should say, ‘Verily, it was our forefathers before us who set up partners. We were their descendants after them. Will You then destroy us for what the followers of falsehood did?'

    وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ (174)

    7|174| That is how we expound the signs that haply they will return.263

    263. Majid writes: "Thus was the covenant of Monotheism inscribed, not like the covenant of Israel upon the tablets of stone but impressed upon the heart, the soul, of man. That this will to acknowledge and obey the One God forms part of man's rational nature has at long last been recognized by the anthropologists who have now come to believe that instead of monotheism being a development of primitive polytheism the latter itself is a degeneration of the former... ‘Evolutionary' ethnologists and anthropologists of the nineteenth century presupposed the primeval human culture as utterly barbaric and bewilderingly polytheistic or animistic. Later ethnological researches have, however, completely reversed this conclusion. ‘The startling reports of Andrew Lang on the original monotheism of these Pygmies and related tribes, belonging, like them, to Primeval culture, marked a new epoch in ethnological research. The Viennese ethnologist, Prof. Father W. Schmidt (now working at the Ethnographic museum of the Vatican) collected all data and reports, referring to the subject. The result of this undertaking supported Andrew Lang's ideas on the broadest basis. Monotheism appears to be really a the very beginning of religious thought ... The point which mostly concerns us in these studies is the fact that monotheism is found to have been the original form of religion.' (Ehrenfels, The Islamic Culture, Hyderabad, Deccan, Oct. 1940, pp. 436, 437)."

    وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا فَانْسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ (175)

    7|175| And recite to them the tiding of him whom We gave Our signs.264 But he went right through them (without profiting). Wherefore Shaytan followed after him. Eventually, he went (completely) astray.

    264. (Although obviously general in application: Au.) speculations abound over whom the verse could allude to. Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah and others have said that the reference is to an Israeli called Bal`am although `Abdullah ibn `Amr and Kalbi have said that it is Umayyah ibn abi Salt who has been referred to (Ibn Jarir).
    "Balam (was) of the Canaanite race... (His) story occurs in the Bible (Nu. 22 24)" Majid.
    Ibn Kathir adds: Perhaps what was meant when Umayyah ibn abi Salt was named is that the example fitted him well. It is said that the man had obtained a good amount of knowledge of the previous religions which he expressed in his poetry to the extent that when the Prophet heard some of his poetical pieces he said: "His poetry believed but his heart denied." When offered Islam he deferred the decision until his death (Ibn Kathir, Alusi).
    A third person, No`man has also been named who had adopted asceticism before the Prophet's advent. When the Prophet told him about his mission, he asked him what his religion was. The Prophet told him: "It is that of unadulterated Oneness, that of Ibrahim." The man replied that he too was on that religion. The Prophet told him: "You are not. You have introduced some new elements and left out some." But the man would not believe. Instead, he travelled to Syria to seek military aid from the Roman emperor for a campaign against the Prophet. He failed in securing the aid and so, chose to remain there for 8 long years before giving up his ghost (Ibn Kathir, Alusi and others).
    Imam Razi points out that, this is one of the toughest verses for those who posses a good knowledge of Islam.

    وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَرَفَعْنَاهُ بِهَا وَلَٰكِنَّهُ أَخْلَدَ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ ۚ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ الْكَلْبِ إِنْ تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْهِ يَلْهَثْ أَوْ تَتْرُكْهُ يَلْهَثْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۚ فَاقْصُصِ الْقَصَصَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ (176)

    7|176| Had We willed, We could have elevated him thereby.265 But he inclined toward the earth266 and followed his lust.267 Therefore, his example is like that of a dog: You load him up, he lolls his tongue out. You let him off, he lolls his tongue out. That is the example of those who laid the lies against Our signs.268 Narrate then the narrations, haply they will reflect.269

    265. The meaning is, had he lived up to his knowledge, We would have surely raised him, in conformity with Our will and Law, to spiritual eminence.
    266. "Love of this world is the source of all errors" (Alusi).
    267. Majid writes: "`Hawa' is not simple desire, but ‘blamable or evil inclination.'"
    268. Asad writes: "Because his attitudes are influenced by what his earth bound desires represent to him as his immediate "advantages" or "disadvantages", the type of man alluded to in this passage is always whatever the outward circumstances a prey to a conflict between his reason and his base urges and, thus, to inner disquiet and imaginary fears, and cannot attain that peace of mind which a believer achieves through his faith."
    269. At this point Sufi commentators Alusi and Thanwi come down heavily upon the pseudo Sufis who have made a profession of the discipline, following their lust.
    Sayyid expands upon the subject. He writes: "This is the example of him whose knowledge (of Islam) does not free him from overburdening material inclinations and carnal desires. The man clings to the earth and is unable to free himself from its pull. He follows his desires, so Satan follows him, accompanying him wherever he goes .. in fact, leading him up by the halter of his carnal desires...
    "The Qur'anic method does not consist in the description of ‘doctrines and beliefs' in the fashion of a few concepts for easy chair study. This kind of knowledge will never succeed in the growth and development (of an individual). This cold knowledge will not be able to hold its ground against carnal desires...
    "The Qur'anic method of presentation of this religion is also not as an ‘Islamic System' that can be studied as a discipline is studied nor as a ‘System of Law,’ nor as an ‘Economic System,’ nor any ‘ism’ of that sort. It presents this religion as a faith that is dynamically progressing, living and life giving, raising and elevating. It prompts to action for the fulfillment of its demands immediately as it settles in the hearts. It awakens dead hearts, prompting them to action. It re awakens the faculties of response to the nature on which it has been created so that the soul becomes conscious of the covenant made in its pre natal existence. It raises high his aims and objectives, not letting him incline toward the earth in the least."

    سَاءَ مَثَلًا الْقَوْمُ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَأَنْفُسَهُمْ كَانُوا يَظْلِمُونَ (177)

    7|177| Evil is the example of the people who laid the lies against Our signs, it was themselves they were wronging.

    مَنْ يَهْدِ اللَّهُ فَهُوَ الْمُهْتَدِي ۖ وَمَنْ يُضْلِلْ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ (178)

    7|178| Whomsoever Allah guides, he is rightly guided. And whomsoever He leads astray, they indeed they are the losers.

    وَلَقَدْ ذَرَأْنَا لِجَهَنَّمَ كَثِيرًا مِنَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنْسِ ۖ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ أَعْيُنٌ لَا يُبْصِرُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ آذَانٌ لَا يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْغَافِلُونَ (179)

    7|179| Indeed We have created for Hell many of the Jinn and men.270 They have hearts271 but wherewith they understand not, they have eyes but wherewith they see not, and they have ears but wherewith they hear not.272 They are like cattle. Indeed, worse misguided.273 They indeed they are completely unheeding.274

    270. Alusi's comments running over several pages can be shortened in a word: The allusion is to those who will (throughout human life on this planet) insist on disbelief, which happens to be in the knowledge of Allah.
    Some leading scholars have said that (in the light of another verse, which is clear of meaning [51: 56], "And We have not created the Jinn and the mankind but that they should worship Me"), the allusion here could only be to those who in Allah's knowledge choose to disbelieve not because they are forced to do that, rather because they make a decision that way.
    Shabbir adds: The laam of this verse [in li ya`budun] could be understood as the laam al ghaayah [laam of purpose], whereas the laam of the verse under discussion [in li jahannum] as laam al `aqibah [the laam of consequence]. Although the majority of scholars have said that both the lams are for ghaayah [purpose] but that of li ya`budun is tashri`i [legal], whereas that of li jahannum is takwini [creative universal].
    [The above was a parenthetical remark introduced by us from Shabbir (Au.)].
    Nevertheless, Alusi continues, most commentators have believed in the apparent words, adding ahadith, (as in the notes that follow), that speak of pre destination of things. However, this is a very difficult topic that requires a lengthy discussion, shortened to one sentence by some of the Masha'ikh who said: "A man is free to choose by his free will, that which has been pre ordained." Alusi concludes with Imam Ghazali's words: "If you say, ‘With reference to myself I find that if I willed to perform a deed, I could, or, if I willed to drop it off, I could drop it off; then, that would make the deed my own earning without an outside intervention' if you say that, then the answer would be, ‘Admitted you find that kind of feeling in your heart. But, do you also find in your heart that if you willed you could will, but if you did not wish to will, you would not will?' In other words you have no choice when it comes to your own will. It acts entirely independent of you. And, since your acts follow your will, which itself is free to act on you, it amounts to you being forced to act by a choice which [only] apparently enjoys freedom" (Slightly reworded). This of course, Alusi hastens to add, does not simplify the issue, and accordingly, he states that he has devoted a whole book to this subject.
    271. Rashid Rida writes: When the word "heart" is used with reference to the physical body, it stands for the piece of flesh in the breast of a man. Otherwise it refers to a man's understanding, knowledge, perceptive faculty, or the seat of emotions.
    Confirmed latest findings are that the heart has a mind of its own within it (Au.).
    272. Rashid Rida lends his support to Alusi's commentary above (no. 270) and adds his own explanation that could be abridged as follows: They have hearts that are incapable of understanding that which should be understood, including, by default, that which should get priority, viz., the demonstrative proofs leading to Truth. They have eyes with which they do not see things that need to be recorded, including, by default, what should get priority, viz., the outspread evidences that lead to Truth. They have ears with which they hear nothing of the revealed knowledge in the manner they deserve to be heard. Eventually, they will admit that they were on the wrong in not employing their faculties of the mind to good purposes. They will say on Judgment Day (67: 10):


    لَوْ كُنَّا نَسْمَعُ أَوْ نَعْقِلُ مَا كُنَّا فِي أَصْحَابِ السَّعِيرِ [الملك : 10]


    "Had we heard and contemplated, we would not have been among the companions of the Fire." Although, to be fair, the verse is equally applicable to those Muslims who do not use their faculties diligently and so are quick to consign non Muslims to Hell, and themselves to Paradise, even if they are steeped in evil deeds, and, consequently, forced to bank on the dead for salvation through intercession.
    273. Asad comments: "... animals follow only their instincts and natural needs and are not conscious of the possibility or necessity of a moral choice."
    Majid adds: "Cf. the OT: ‘The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider' (Is. ‘: 3)."
    274. The Prophet said in a hadith recorded by Muslim:


    كَتَبَ اللَّهُ مَقَادِيرَ الْخَلاَئِقِ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَخْلُقَ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ بِخَمْسِينَ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ - قَالَ - وَعَرْشُهُ عَلَى الْمَاءِ


    "Allah decreed the decrees of the creations fifty thousand years before their creation. His `Arsh was then on water."
    Another hadith of Muslim reports `A'isha (ra) as saying:


    تُوُفِّىَ صَبِىٌّ فَقُلْتُ طُوبَى لَهُ عُصْفُورٌ مِنْ عَصَافِيرِ الْجَنَّةِ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « أَوَلاَ تَدْرِينَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ خَلَقَ الْجَنَّةَ وَخَلَقَ النَّارَ فَخَلَقَ لِهَذِهِ أَهْلاً وَلِهَذِهِ أَهْلاً


    "A child died and I said, ‘Good luck for it: a bird among the birds of Paradise.’ He said, ‘Are you not aware that Allah created Paradise and the Fire and then created a people for this and a people for that?’”
    (Ibn Kathir has a longer version, but we have taken from Muslim: Au.).
    The Sahihayn have another report which says (about the embryo):


    ثُمَّ يُبْعَثُ إِلَيْهِ مَلَكٌ فَيُؤْمَرُ بِأَرْبَعِ كَلِمَاتٍ فَيُكْتَبُ رِزْقُهُ وَأَجَلُهُ وَعَمَلُهُ ثُمَّ يُكْتَبُ شَقِىٌّ أَوْ سَعِيد

     


    "... Then Allah sends an angel to it who decrees four things: His sustenance, age, deeds and whether he will be a lucky one or wretched" (Ibn Kathir).
    Rashid Rida however strongly disagrees with the standard opinion stated by Imam Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and others. He says that their destiny to Hell would be entirely dependent on their choice in this world. Allah gave them intellectual powers, but they refused to employ them to good purposes. The Qur'an has said at another place about them (46: 26):


    وَلَقَدْ مَكَّنَّاهُمْ فِيمَا إِنْ مَكَّنَّاكُمْ فِيهِ وَجَعَلْنَا لَهُمْ سَمْعًا وَأَبْصَارًا وَأَفْئِدَةً فَمَا أَغْنَى عَنْهُمْ سَمْعُهُمْ وَلَا أَبْصَارُهُمْ وَلَا أَفْئِدَتُهُمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِذْ كَانُوا يَجْحَدُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَحَاقَ بِهِمْ مَا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ [الأحقاف : 26]


    "We established them in (those lands) just as We have established you in (this land). And We made for them the power of hearing, sight and heart. But of no use for them were their hearing, sight and hearts when they disputed the signs of Allah."
    Eventually they would admit that the fault was theirs. Once in the Fire they will cry out (67: 10, 11):


    وَقَالُوا لَوْ كُنَّا نَسْمَعُ أَوْ نَعْقِلُ مَا كُنَّا فِي أَصْحَابِ السَّعِيرِ (10) فَاعْتَرَفُوا بِذَنْبِهِمْ فَسُحْقًا لِأَصْحَابِ السَّعِيرِ [الملك : 10 ، 11]


    "Had we given the ear, or used our heads, we would not have been the companions of the Fire. Thus they would admit their error."
    We have dealt with the question of Qada' and Qadr largely as the commentators have done at various points in this work. The view point of the Ahl al Sunnah lies between the two extremes of the Mu`tazilah and the Jabriyyah. Admitting freedom to choose would imply denial of Allah's fore knowledge. Consequently, it would mean Allah does not know what's going to happen at any given time in the future. That obviously is unthinkable. In that event the universe cannot run on an ordered pattern: if it would run at all. On the other extreme, admitting pre destination (in the absolute sense) would mean reducing the humans to automats and the universe to a clock work. The truth lies in between which happens to be the position adopted by the Ahl al Sunnah. Yet, difficulties remain. We shall therefore, Allah willing, attempt a fuller explanation later in this work (Au.).

    وَلِلَّهِ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ فَادْعُوهُ بِهَا ۖ وَذَرُوا الَّذِينَ يُلْحِدُونَ فِي أَسْمَائِهِ ۚ سَيُجْزَوْنَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ (180)

    7|180| Allah's are the most excellent Names;275 so call Him by them,276 and let alone those who work distortion in His Names.277 Soon they will be recompensed for what they are doing.

    275. Asad comments: "This passage connects with the mention, at the end of the preceding verse, of ‘the heedless ones’ who do not use their faculty of discernment in the way intended for it by God, and remain heedless of Him who comprises within Himself all the attributes of perfection and represents, therefore, the Ultimate Reality. As regards the expression al asma al husna (lit. "the most perfect [or "most goodly names"), which occurs in the Qur'an four times – i.e. in the above verse as well as in 17: 110, 20: 8, and 59: 24 it is to be borne in mind that the term ism is, primarily, a word applied to denote the substance or the intrinsic attributes of an object under consideration."
    But Shabbir sees a deeper connection: After the mention of the "heedless" unbelievers, the Qur'an warns the believers that they should beware of heedlessness. And the best cure for heedlessness is Allah's remembrance. Therefore He should be called, and called by the best of Names, while the callers shun the company of those who dispute His Names.
    The Prophet has said:


    لِلَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ تِسْعَةٌ وَتِسْعُونَ اسْمًا مِائَةً إِلاَّ وَاحِدًا مَنْ أَحْصَاهَا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ


    "Allah has ninety nine Names a hundred, less one. Whoever comprehended them entered Paradise" (Ibn Jarir).
    However, Ibn Kathir adds, His Names are not limited to ninety nine.
    [What is meant by the hadith then is that, of the many names that Allah has, if someone comprehended ninety-nine, he will be rewarded with Paradise: Au.].
    That Allah has more than ninety-nine Names is supported by a hadith in Ahmad narrated by Ibn Mas`ud and declared Sahih by Ibn Hibban, which says that the Prophet said:


    مَا أَصَابَ مُسْلِمًا قَطُّ هَمٌ أَوْ حُزْنٌ، فَقَالَ: اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي عَبْدُكَ، وَابْنُ عَبْدِكَ، وَابْنُ أَمَتِكَ، نَاصِيَتِي بِيَدِكَ، مَاضٍ فِيَّ حُكْمُكَ، عَدْلٌ فِيَّ قَضَاؤُكَ، أَسْأَلُكَ بِكُلِّ اسْمٍ هُوَ لَكَ، سَمَّيْتَ بِهِ نَفْسَكَ، أَوْ أَنْزَلْتَهُ فِي كِتَابِكَ، أَوْ عَلَّمْتَهُ أَحَدًا مِنْ خَلْقِكَ، أَوِ اسْتَأْثَرْتَ بِهِ فِي عِلْمِ الْغَيْبِ عِنْدَكَ، أَنْ تَجْعَلَ الْقُرْآنَ رَبِيعَ قَلْبِي، وَنُورَ بَصَرِي، وَجِلاءَ حُزْنِي، وَذَهَابَ هَمِّي، إِلا أَذْهَبَ اللَّهُ هَمَّهُ، وَأَبْدَلَهُ مَكَانَ حُزْنِهِ فَرَحًا هَذِهِ الْكَلِمَاتِ؟ قَالَ:بَلْ بَلَى، يَنْبَغِي لِمَنْ سَمِعَهُنَّ أَنْ يَتَعَلَّمَهُنَّ.


    "No one was ever struck with an affliction or grievous affair, and he said, ‘O Allah, I am Your slave, the son of a slave father and slave mother, my forehead lock of hair is in Your hand, You are the Doer of Your command, just in Your judgment, I beseech You by every Name that is Yours, by which You named Yourself, or revealed it in a Scripture, or taught anyone of Your creations, or retained it in Your knowledge of the Unknown ... that You should make the Exalted Qur'an the spring of my heart, the Light of my breast, the dispeller of my sorrow, the remover of my affliction,' (no one said these words) but Allah will remove his affliction and grief replacing it with tranquility.’ It was asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah. Why should we not learn this (supplication)?’ He replied, ‘Indeed, everyone who heard of it ought to learn it.’”
    The hadith is also recorded by Ibn Hibban. (Ahmad Shakir has graded it Sahih: S. Ibrahim). In fact Abu Bakr ibn al-`Arabiyy has written in his commentary on Tirmidhi that some scholars have worked out a thousand Names for Allah from the Qur'an. Some have said that no limits can be imposed (Ibn Kathir, Shawkani, Manar).
    Allah's Names, as pointed out by Rashid Rida and others, are tawqifi: that is, they can be known only through revelation. Hence, unless proven by the Qur'an or hadith, they cannot be relied upon as authentically His Names. Tirmidhi and others have listed the ninety nine Names, but as pointed out by several scholars, not all of them are from the Qur'an and hadith (Au.).
    276. Such as to say,


    يَا حَيُّ يَا قَيُّومُ

    "O the Living One, the Self existing by Whom all exist," or,


    يَا حَنَّانُ يَا مَنَّانُ


    "O the Gracious, the Bestower without end," etc. (Au.).
    277. Asad comments: "I.e., by applying them to other beings or objects or, alternatively, by to trying to "define" God in anthropomorphic terms and relationships, like "father" or "son" (Razi)."

    وَمِمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا أُمَّةٌ يَهْدُونَ بِالْحَقِّ وَبِهِ يَعْدِلُونَ (181)

    7|181| And, of those We have created, there are people who guide by the truth and act justly therewith.278

    278. It is generally believed that the verse is alluding to the Prophet's followers, especially the first generation Muslims, which makes the passage that follows equally applicable to the later day believers (Au.).

    وَالَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا سَنَسْتَدْرِجُهُمْ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (182)

    7|182| As for those who lay the lies against Our signs, We shall gradually lead them (to their destruction), in a manner they do not know.279

    279. As Allah said elsewhere (6: 44, 45):


    فَلَمَّا نَسُوا مَا ذُكِّرُوا بِهِ فَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ أَبْوَابَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ حَتَّى إِذَا فَرِحُوا بِمَا أُوتُوا أَخَذْنَاهُمْ بَغْتَةً فَإِذَا هُمْ مُبْلِسُونَ (44) فَقُطِعَ دَابِرُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ [الأنعام : 44-45]


    "When they had clean forgotten what they were reminded of, We opened unto them the gates of everything (of the nature of material prosperity) until, when they were mighty pleased with what they were given, We seized them suddenly and they slipped into a quiet despair. Uprooted thus were the last remnants of those who transgressed. And (it was said) ‘All praise to Allah, the Lord of the worlds'" (Ibn Kathir).
    Also see note 70 of Surah al An`am.

    وَأُمْلِي لَهُمْ ۚ إِنَّ كَيْدِي مَتِينٌ (183)

    7|183| And I grant them respite. Surely, My scheme is strong.280

    280. The textual word for "scheme" is kayd. It is a contrivance aimed at something not perceptible to the eye. Here it means to say that Allah gives the unbelievers respite, providing, in the meanwhile, material means, which misleads them to believe that they are on the right course, until, they are trapped on a sudden as (a prey) in a net (based on Manar).

    أَوَلَمْ يَتَفَكَّرُوا ۗ مَا بِصَاحِبِهِمْ مِنْ جِنَّةٍ ۚ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا نَذِيرٌ مُبِينٌ (184)

    7|184| Have they not reflected? Their companion is not seized with madness.281 He is not indeed but a plain warner.282

    281. It is said that the Prophet (saws) once climbed Mount Safa and called out every Quraysh tribe by name to warn them. When it was over, they muttered: "This man seems to have gone mad." Allah (swt) revealed this verse.
    Majid writes: "The Prophet's almost incredible achievements are still the wonder and admiration of an unbelieving world. ‘The success of Mahomet as a law giver, ... and the stability of his institutions during a long series of generations, and in every condition of social polity, proved that this extraordinary man was formed by the rare combination of the qualities both of a Lycurgus and Alexander.' (Finlay, p. 352) Savary, who as ‘an enlightened Westerner' of course, refused to ‘call Mohammed a prophet,' is ‘nevertheless forced to recognize him as one of the greatest men who ever lived,' and finds himself bound to concede that ‘his political and military ability and his capacity to governing men were extraordinary,' and to regard him ‘as one of those unusual personalities occasionally appearing in history, who remake their environment and enlist men in their triumphant train' (Andrae, pp. 245, 249).
    Although we do not intend to present at this point, all that has been said by the more objective observers, concerning the Prophet and his achievements, one or two might be necessary. Back in the nineteenth century Lamartine had said: "If the greatness of purpose, smallness of means and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad? .. Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images, the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is Muhammad... As regards all the standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?" (Historire de la Turquie, Paris 1954, pp. 276 77).
    During the same century he was followed by Thomas Carlyle (d. 1881), who, in his famous lectures titled "On Heroes, Hero worship and the Heroic in History," evaluated Muhammad as the most influential of men in history. Finally, the twentieth century was not to pass without paying its own tribute to the Prophet. An American, Michael H. Hart, published a book on the lives of 100 great men entitled: "The 100: A Ranking of Most Influential Persons in History," (Carol Publishing Company, New York). Muhammad once again topped the list as the greatest ever (Au.).
    The book has mysteriously disappeared from the shelves.
    282. As Allah said elsewhere (34: 46):


    قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَعِظُكُمْ بِوَاحِدَةٍ أَنْ تَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ مَثْنَى وَفُرَادَى ثُمَّ تَتَفَكَّرُوا مَا بِصَاحِبِكُمْ مِنْ جِنَّةٍ إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا نَذِيرٌ لَكُمْ بَيْنَ يَدَيْ عَذَابٍ شَدِيدٍ [سبأ : 46]


    "Say, ‘I exhort you to one thing, that you should get together for the sake of God in twos and singles, and reflect, there is no madness in your Companion. He is no more than a plain warner before (your are overtaken by) an impeding severe chastisement" (Ibn Kathir).

    أَوَلَمْ يَنْظُرُوا فِي مَلَكُوتِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ مِنْ شَيْءٍ وَأَنْ عَسَىٰ أَنْ يَكُونَ قَدِ اقْتَرَبَ أَجَلُهُمْ ۖ فَبِأَيِّ حَدِيثٍ بَعْدَهُ يُؤْمِنُونَ (185)

    7|185| Have they not observed in the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and in whatever Allah has created, that their end is perhaps close.283 After what manner of discourse then, will they believe?284

    283. This verse is connected with the passage that follows (verses 187 188) which reports the pagans enquiring about the end of the world. They are told here that there is no point in seeking its news, since they do not know when their own term will end, which, in fact, might be closer than that final event (with a point from Shabbir).
    284. Asad writes: "Apart from a reminder of man's utter dependence on God, the implication of the above passage is this: Since everything in the observable or intellectually conceivable universe is obviously caused, it must have had a beginning and, therefore, must also have an end. Furthermore, since the universe is not eternal in the sense of having had no beginning, and since it cannot possibly have evolved "by itself" out of nothing, and since "nothingness" is a concept devoid of all reality, we are forced to predicate the existence of a Primary Cause which is beyond to the limits of our experience and, hence, beyond the categories of our thought that is, the existence of God."

    مَنْ يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَلَا هَادِيَ لَهُ ۚ وَيَذَرُهُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ (186)

    7|186| Whomsoever Allah leads astray, there is no guide unto him. He abandons them wandering blindly in their insolence.285

    285. Asad again: "As in verse 178 above and in many other places in the Qur'an the expression "he whom God lets [or "causes to"] go astray," indicates the natural law instituted by God (sunnat Allah), whereby a willful neglect of one's inborn, cognitive faculties results in the loss of all ethical orientation: that is, not an act of "predestination" but a result of one's own choice."

    يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ السَّاعَةِ أَيَّانَ مُرْسَاهَا ۖ قُلْ إِنَّمَا عِلْمُهَا عِنْدَ رَبِّي ۖ لَا يُجَلِّيهَا لِوَقْتِهَا إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ ثَقُلَتْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ لَا تَأْتِيكُمْ إِلَّا بَغْتَةً ۗ يَسْأَلُونَكَ كَأَنَّكَ حَفِيٌّ عَنْهَا ۖ قُلْ إِنَّمَا عِلْمُهَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (187)

    7|187| They question you concerning the Hour (as to) when it shall berth.286 Say, ‘Verily, its knowledge is with my Lord alone.287 None shall reveal it at its appointed time but He. It weighs heavy on the heavens and the earth. It will not come on you but suddenly.'288 They ask you as if you are well informed of it.289 Tell them, ‘Its knowledge is with Allah alone but most people know not.290

    286. The use of the word "berth" (first employed in the translation by Arberry, although Pickthall is very close to it), for a moment which will bring all things - now on a mad run - to a halt (as a ship berths on the dock) a usage never before employed in the Arabic language embodies a high standard of rhetoric (with a point taken from Manar).
    287. In answering why the information concerning the end of the world has been held back, Rashid Rida brings out a point: There was no point in giving the people the knowledge of when the world would end. They would have only made a jest of it, while the believers would have unnecessarily suffered anxiety.
    288. The Prophet is reported to have said that the Hour will surprise the people. A man might be repairing his cistern, another husbanding his cattle, another selling his products in the market, and another with a scale in his hand" (Ibn Jarir).
    A hadith in Bukhari of Abu Hurayra's narration says:


    ولتقومن الساعة وقد نشر الرجلان ثوبهما (8) بينهما، فلا يتبايعانه ولا يطويانه. ولتقومَنّ الساعة وقد انصرف الرجل بلبن لقْحَته فلا يَطْعَمُه. ولتقومَنّ الساعة وهو يَلِيط حوضه فلا يسقي فيه. ولتقومَنّ الساعة والرجل قد رفع أكلته إلى فيه فلا يطعمها


    "The Hour would be called even as two people would have stretched a piece of cloth between themselves, but they would not be able to complete the deal or fold up the cloth; the Hour would be struck when a man would have milked an animal but he would not be able to drink thereoft; the Hour would be struck when a man would have just repaired his cistern but before he would have watered thereof; and the Hour would be struck when a man would have raised food to his mouth but would not be able to put it in" (Ibn Kathir).
    The above hadith is also in Bayhaqi’s Shu`ab al-Iman (Au.).
    289. The use of the textual word "hafiyy" would imply that the inquirers had sought knowledge of the Hour as a kind of a right arising out of kinship with the Prophet or, as friends divulging secrets to each other, implying, in turn, that the Prophet knew all about it, and, being closely related to many of the Quraysh, he should, out of love, share the secret with them (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Asad throws light on another aspect of the meaning: "The verb ahfa means ‘he did [a thing] in an excessive measure’ or ‘he exceeded the usual bounds in doing [something]’. In connection with an inquiry, and especially when followed by `anhu or `anha (‘about it’), it signifies ‘he tried hard to gain insight [into something] by persistently enquiring about it’. Thus, used as a participle, it means ‘one who has gained insight [into something] through persistent inquiry’. In the above context, the implication is that no amount of inquiry or speculation can reveal to man the prophets included the coming of the Last Hour before its actual manifestation."
    290. Accordingly, whenever the Prophet was enquired about the Hour he always said he did not know when it would be. In the famous Hadith Jibril when he was asked when the Hour would be, he replied,


    مَا الْمَسْئُولُ بِأَعْلَمَ بِهَا مِنَ السَّائِلِ


    "The one enquired does not know any more than the one enquiring."
    Once a bedouin addressed him in a harsh tone asking when the Hour would be.


    ويحك أن الساعة آتية فما أعددت لها" قال ما أعددت لها كثير صلاة ولا صيام، ولكنني أحب الله ورسوله، فقال له رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "المرء مع من أحب" فما فرح المسلمون بشيء فرحهم


    The Prophet also replied to him in the same tone: "Woe unto you man. The Hour has to strike. But what preparations have you made for it?" The man replied: "Well, not much by way of Prayers and fasts. But I love Allah and his Messenger." The Prophet told him: "A man will be with those he loved." It is said that the Companions were never pleased with anything before as with this statement. Recorded by the Sahihayn, the report is of mutawatir status.
    At other times whenever visiting tribesmen enquired about the Hour, the Prophet would point to the youngest of them and say:


    إِنْ يَعِشْ هَذَا لَمْ يُدْرِكْهُ الْهَرَمُ قَامَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ سَاعَتُكُمْ


    "Well. If this boy lives up to his old age your Hour would have struck," meaning, by then you would be dead and that would be your Hour.
    According to another report in Ahmad, reported by Abu Hudhayfah, when the Prophet was asked about the Hour, he replied:


    "علمها عند ربي عز وجل لا يجليها لوقتها إلا هو، ولكن سأخبركم بمشاريطها وما يكون بين يديها، أن بين يديها فتنة وهرجاً" قالوا: يا رسول الله الفتنة قد عرفناها فما الهرج ؟ قال: "بلسان الحبشة القتل" قال: "ويلقى بين الناس التناكر، فلا يكاد أحد يعرف أحداً"


    "My Lord has the knowledge of it. No one will make it appear at its time except He. However, let me tell you some of the signs and some of the conditions. Of its conditions is that you will experience a lot of tribulations and quite good amount of ‘haraj'. They asked, "We understand tribulations, but what is ‘haraj (an Abyssinian word)?'" He replied: "Lots of killings. And," (he continued), "a kind of estrangement, so that no one would seem to know any one else."
    The Prophet also said:


    بُعِثْتُ أَنَا وَالسَّاعَةَ كَهَاتَيْنِ


    "I have been sent with the Hour as close to me as this," and demonstrated with his two fingers together in a V shape (Ibn Kathir).
    Rashid Rida adds: It is not the closeness of the Hour that the Prophet meant by showing his two fingers. Rather, as Ibn Hajr has explained, he meant that there is not going to be a Prophet between him and the Day of Judgment, just as there was a gap between the two fingers. As for the statements in some of the reports that the total lifespan of this earth is 7000 years, none of them is trustworthy. Most of them are of Jewish origin.
    The figure also figures in Hindu philosophy (Au.).

    قُلْ لَا أَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِي نَفْعًا وَلَا ضَرًّا إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ ۚ وَلَوْ كُنْتُ أَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ لَاسْتَكْثَرْتُ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ وَمَا مَسَّنِيَ السُّوءُ ۚ إِنْ أَنَا إِلَّا نَذِيرٌ وَبَشِيرٌ لِقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ (188)

    7|188| Say, ‘I have no power over any good or evil for myself, save for what Allah will. Had I knowledge of the Unseen, surely, I would have acquired much good (for myself) and no evil would have touched me.291 I am not but a warner and a bearer of good news for a people who believe.'292

    291. Shabbir comments: Despite the fact that the Prophet was endowed with great blessings, he did not know what was in the Unseen. How many days did he not wait for revelation to tell him the truth of the matter in the case of slander involving `A'isha? Similarly, during his Hajj he remarked: "Had I known what was going to happen, I would not have brought the sacrificial animal with me." The most glaring is the statement he made after the famous Hadith-Jibril. He said it was the first time that he failed to recognize Jibril until the very end. It was only after Jibril had left that he knew who he was speaking to, although, as the biographers have pointed out, this incident happened almost at the end of his mission. This of course does not apply to the Shari`ah, which he knew down to every detail.
    292. Asad writes: "The repeated insistence in the Qur'an on the humanness of the Prophet is in tune with the doctrine that no created being has or could have any share, however small, in any of the Creator's qualities or powers. In logical continuation of this argument, the next passage (verses 189 198) stresses the uniqueness and exclusiveness of God's creative powers."

    هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَجَعَلَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا لِيَسْكُنَ إِلَيْهَا ۖ فَلَمَّا تَغَشَّاهَا حَمَلَتْ حَمْلًا خَفِيفًا فَمَرَّتْ بِهِ ۖ فَلَمَّا أَثْقَلَتْ دَعَوَا اللَّهَ رَبَّهُمَا لَئِنْ آتَيْتَنَا صَالِحًا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ (189)

    7|189| He it is who created you from a single living being293 and then out of him brought out his spouse294 so that he might find repose in her. Then, when he295 covered her, she conceived a light burden, going about with it (in ease).296 (But) When she grew heavy, the two supplicated to Allah their Lord, ‘If You gave us a sound297 (child) we shall be of the grateful ones.'298

    293. Majid comments: "I.e., Adam. The implication of which fact is, that all men belonging to one species, and that racial variations notwithstanding, there is no essential difference between man and man. If the modern world had only kept this elementary truth in mind, there would have been no occasion for it to lament that ‘the progress of civilization is threatened by the serious danger of racial conflict and the still more serious evil, the demoralization caused by inter racial and color prejudice' (EBr. VI, p. 571). The time must come when it will seem absurd that French and Germans, Americans and Japanese, French and English, can even have been divided by imaginary barriers no less absurd than the recollection that the people of Burgandy and Artoris, of Mecklangbourg and Hanover, of Wessex and Nothumberland were once taught to believe themselves natural enemies.' (Fyfe, The Illusion of National Character."
    294. Qatadah has said: Allah brought out Hawwa' out of one of Adam's ribs (Ibn Jarir). It does not imply however, that Adam had one rib less. A hadith in Muslim says:


    إِنَّ الْمَرْأَةَ خُلِقَتْ مِنْ ضِلَعٍ لَنْ تَسْتَقِيمَ لَكَ عَلَى طَرِيقَةٍ فَإِنِ اسْتَمْتَعْتَ بِهَا اسْتَمْتَعْتَ بِهَا وَبِهَا عِوَجٌ وَإِنْ ذَهَبْتَ تُقِيمُهَا كَسَرْتَهَا وَكَسْرُهَا طَلاَقُهَا


    "Verily, woman has been created from the rib. She will never straighten up to your ways. Therefore, if you make use of her, you will have to do that while she remains in her bent state. But, if you undertake to straighten her up, you will break her up. And breaking her up is to divorce her" (Au.).
    Thus the Qur'an rejects the theory of evolution. We shall have a few things to say about this theory later in this work, in sha Allah (Au.).
    295. The words in parenthesis follow Hasan's interpretation as in Ibn Jarir and traced as trustworthy by Ibn Kathir. Qaffal also explains this passage along these lines (Razi).
    296. Another reading is "maarrat" with its root in "miryah", i.e., initially she was in doubt if she was carrying or not, until she grew heavy (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi).
    297. The textual "salehan" can only be interpreted as embodying all that is good and wholesome (Ibn Jarir).
    298. Yusuf Ali writes: "The mystery of the physical birth of man, as it affects the father and the mother, only touches the imagination of the parents in the later stages when the child is yet unborn and yet life stirs within the body of the expectant mother. The coming of the new life is a solemn thing, and is fraught with much hope as well as much unknown risk to the mother herself. The parents in their anxiety turn to Allah. If this feeling of solemnity, hope, and looking towards Allah were maintained after birth, all would be well for the parents as well as for the rising generation. But the attitude changes, as the verses following show."

    فَلَمَّا آتَاهُمَا صَالِحًا جَعَلَا لَهُ شُرَكَاءَ فِيمَا آتَاهُمَا ۚ فَتَعَالَى اللَّهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ (190)

    7|190| But when He gave them a sound child the two assigned Him associates in what He (alone) had given them.299 Exalted high is Allah, above what they associate (with Him).300

    299. The interpretation, as reported in some older works, concerning Hawwa' being misled by Satan at the time of the first birth is completely unacceptable, since, no one with any common sense could be misled that way, far from Hawwa' (Razi).
    Further, the ahadith quoted in this regard are untrustworthy (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Alusi vigorously defends the above opinion and states that Abu Muslim and al Amidi held the same view, viz., Allah started with the species and then came down to its members. In simpler words, Hawwa' is not the subject of this verse. Rashid Rida re narrates all the ahadith on the subject and demonstrates the weaknesses in their chains of narration.
    Indeed, the use of plural form in "Exalted high is Allah, above what they associate," after attributing the previous acts to the two, is another indication that it is a switch from the specific in the early part of the passage, to the general, in its later part (Au.).
    300. Asad comments: "Many of them (i.e., the parents) look up to the contributing factors of sound childbirth (like personal care during pregnancy, medical assistance, eugenics, etc.) as something independent of God, forgetting that all these contributing factors are like the birth of the child itself but an outcome of God's will and grace: a manifestation of what the Qur'an calls "the way of God" (sunnat Allah). Since this kind of mental association of "other" factors with God is not really intentional, it does not amount to the unforgivable sin of shirk ("the ascribing of divine qualities to powers other than God"); but it is close enough to it to warrant the subsequent discourse on shirk in the real meaning of the term."

    أَيُشْرِكُونَ مَا لَا يَخْلُقُ شَيْئًا وَهُمْ يُخْلَقُونَ (191)

    7|191| (Why?!) Do they associate that which creates nothing, rather, are themselves301 created?

    301. Note the switch from the particle "ma" (which is) used for the non living to the "hum" (they) which is used for the living. This is following the logic of the idol worshippers who consider the non living as the living (Razi).

    وَلَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ لَهُمْ نَصْرًا وَلَا أَنْفُسَهُمْ يَنْصُرُونَ (192)

    7|192| They have no power to help them nor can they help themselves.302

    302. The Qur'an thus invites the people to appeal to their simple logic. But human folly knows no limits. There are hundreds of millions even in our times who are devoted to the worship of hand made idols. People of high governmental profiles beat up their chests before T.V. cameras to proudly claim the worship of idols. It is perhaps only crude iconoclastic measures something disapproved by Islam that would demonstrate to the ardent devotees the powerlessness of their idols, although, expectedly, not all. Ibn Kathir reports that two young lads Mu`adh ibn `Amr b. al Jamuh and Mu`adh ibn Jabal, had to resort to this coarse strategy to convince `Amr b. Jamuh of their worthlessness and his own senselessness. In the darkness of the nights, the two lads would defile a deity very dear to `Amr b. al Jamuh. Initially shocked to find his beloved god in that state, he would wash it, clean it, and perfume it. But, come the night, the two would repeat their performance in its darkness. Finally, he hung a sword by the deity cajoling it to defend itself. But, when they hung the carcass of a dog by its neck, and threw it down a pit, sword, carcass, and all, it was then that `Amr b. al Jamuh's woke up to his stupidity and embraced Islam (Au.).
    Rashid Rida comments: How strange that people refused to believe in the Prophet on the grounds that, as the Qur'an has put it, (23: 33, 34):


    مَا هَذَا إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِثْلُكُمْ يَأْكُلُ مِمَّا تَأْكُلُونَ مِنْهُ وَيَشْرَبُ مِمَّا تَشْرَبُونَ (33) وَلَئِنْ أَطَعْتُمْ بَشَرًا مِثْلَكُمْ إِنَّكُمْ إِذًا لَخَاسِرُونَ [المؤمنون : 33 ، 34]


    "This (man) is nothing but a human being like you who eats of what you eat and drinks of what you drink. If you follow a human like yourselves, surely, you will be in a loss."
    Yet, they had no problem in believing in lifeless idols.

    وَإِنْ تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَى الْهُدَىٰ لَا يَتَّبِعُوكُمْ ۚ سَوَاءٌ عَلَيْكُمْ أَدَعَوْتُمُوهُمْ أَمْ أَنْتُمْ صَامِتُونَ (193)

    7|193| | If you call them to guidance, they will not follow you. It is all the same to you whether you call them or hold your peace.

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ عِبَادٌ أَمْثَالُكُمْ ۖ فَادْعُوهُمْ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ (194)

    7|194| Surely, those you call upon other than Allah, are slaves like yourselves.303 Therefore, call them. They should respond to you, if you be true.

    303. Asad comments: "I.e., (they are) created beings subservient to God's will. This refers to saints, living or dead, as well as to inanimate objects of every description, including idols, fetishes and representational images physical or mental of saints or deified persons."

    أَلَهُمْ أَرْجُلٌ يَمْشُونَ بِهَا ۖ أَمْ لَهُمْ أَيْدٍ يَبْطِشُونَ بِهَا ۖ أَمْ لَهُمْ أَعْيُنٌ يُبْصِرُونَ بِهَا ۖ أَمْ لَهُمْ آذَانٌ يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا ۗ قُلِ ادْعُوا شُرَكَاءَكُمْ ثُمَّ كِيدُونِ فَلَا تُنْظِرُونِ (195)

    7|195| Do they have feet wherewith they walk? Or, do they have hands wherewith they grasp? Or, do they have eyes wherewith they see? Or, do they have ears wherewith they hear? Say, call upon your associate( gods) and then lay down a scheme against me, and give me no respite.304

    304. Hasan has said that the pagans used to threaten the Prophet that if he did not give up reviling their deities, the deities would take out revenge on him. This verse was sent in answer to that (Razi).

    إِنَّ وَلِيِّيَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ الْكِتَابَ ۖ وَهُوَ يَتَوَلَّى الصَّالِحِينَ (196)

    7|196| Surely, my Protector is Allah who sent down the Book, and He protects the righteous.

    وَالَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِهِ لَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ نَصْرَكُمْ وَلَا أَنْفُسَهُمْ يَنْصُرُونَ (197)

    7|197| As for those whom you call upon besides Him, they have no power to help you, nor can they help themselves.

    وَإِنْ تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَى الْهُدَىٰ لَا يَسْمَعُوا ۖ وَتَرَاهُمْ يَنْظُرُونَ إِلَيْكَ وَهُمْ لَا يُبْصِرُونَ (198)

    7|198| If you call them to guidance, they do not hear. You see them looking at you. But they do not perceive.305

    305. There have been several explanations to this passage, but the nearest to being right is that it is the Prophet who has been addressed. He is being told that ‘you will see them looking at you but in truth they do not see you, since they perceive not the several signs in your person' (Alusi).
    Rashid Rida adds: (How could they be considered as seeing what they were seeing when) one of them had looked at the Prophet and remarked, "This is not the face of a liar," yet they rejected him?

    خُذِ الْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْجَاهِلِينَ (199)

    7|199| Therefore, take to forgiving,306 bid to what is right, and ignore the ignorant.307

    306. It is reported that the Prophet reacted to the word "`afw" and asked Jibril as to what it stood for. Jibril replied:


    أَنْ تُعْطِيَ مَنْ حَرَمَكَ، وَتَصِلَ مَنْ قَطَعَكَ، وَتَعْفُوَ عَمَّنْ ظَلَمَكَ


    "That you should join (the relationship with) one who severs it off you, give him who denies you, and forgive him who oppresses you" (Ibn Jarir, Razi, Ibn Kathir, and others).
    Zamakhshari, Alusi and others write: The textual word `afw has various implications. The foremost would imply that the Prophet should accept the people on their face value, as also their deeds whatever they can manage to come up with in good grace, rather than be inquisitive about their lives and manners, or too demanding on them, or reacting harshly to their errors.
    The Prophet compressed the Islamic morals in a nut shell for Jabir b. Sulaym. Jabir said, "I mounted my camel and went to the Prophet's city. I enquired about him. They led me to the mosque. He was sitting there clad in a woolen striped cloak. I said, ‘Peace be upon you O Messenger of Allah.' He replied, ‘On you be peace.' I said, ‘We are of the deserts and are a harsh people. So teach me a few profitable words.' He said,


    آدن " ثلاثا، فدنوت فقال: " أعد علي " فأعدت عليه فقال: (اتق الله ولا تحقرن من المعروف شيئا وأن تلقى أخاك بوجه منبسط وأن تفرغ من دلوك في إناء المستسقي وإن أمرؤ سبك بما لا يعلم منك فلا تسبه بما تعلم فيه فإن الله جاعل لك أجرا وعليه وزرا ولا تسبن شيئا مما خولك الله تعالى


    ‘Get closer.' He said that three times. Then he said, ‘Repeat the question.' So I repeated. He said, ‘Be conscious of Allah and do not belittle any good deed. Meet your brother with a cheerful countenance. Empty your bucket in that of someone seeking water. If a man finds fault in you for what is not in you, do not find fault in him for what is in him. Allah will reward you for it, while he will earn the punishment. And do not curse anything that Allah has bestowed on you.'" Jabir said, ‘By him in whose hands is my life, after that I did not find fault even with a camel' (Qurtubi).
    307. It is reported in Bukhari that once Salim b. `Abdullah ibn `Umar passed by a camping Syrian caravan. He heard the sounds of bell. He remarked that it was prohibited. They responded, "We know better than you. It is the large bells that are prohibited, not these little ones." Salim only said in reply: "Ignore the ignorant," and moved on (Ibn Kathir).

    وَإِمَّا يَنْزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ نَزْغٌ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ (200)

    7|200| And, if a provocation from Satan should provoke you,308 seek refuge in Allah.309 Verily, He is All hearing, All knowing.310

    308. It is widely reported that when the Prophet was asked to forbear, he asked Jibril about the situation in which he gets angry (out of frustration). How should he act then? In response this verse was revealed.
    309. Since Shaytan is invisible, there is no way to fight off his influence and avoid his presence save by seeking Allah's help (Au.).
    Bukhari has a report which says that once two persons argued over something in the Prophet's presence. One of them got so angry that his face swelled up. The Prophet remarked that he knew words which, if the man could say, could cure him of his anger:


    أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ


    "I seek Allah's refuge from Shaytan the accursed." But the man was too angry for that. When someone went across and told him that, he retorted: "Am I mad?" (Ibn Kathir)
    Qurtubi adds: None can be in refuge from a dog but with the help of its master. It is reported of one of the pious predecessors that he asked his disciple, ‘What will you do when confronted by a Satanic impulse?' He answered, ‘I will fight it off.' He asked, ‘If he returned (with another)?' He answered, ‘I will fight it off too.' He said, ‘That will prolong the affair. What do you do when you have to cross a valley grazed by goats but a dog prevents you?' He answered, ‘Well, I suppose I'll have to chase it away.' He said, ‘That will take long. Rather, seek the help of its master. That would do.'
    That is, the best way of chasing Satan is to seek its Master's help, i.e., Allah's.
    310. Razi warns: A resort to refuge without belief well-seated in the heart that Allah is the All hearing, the All knowing, may not fetch the desired result.

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا إِذَا مَسَّهُمْ طَائِفٌ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ تَذَكَّرُوا فَإِذَا هُمْ مُبْصِرُونَ (201)

    7|201| Surely, when a thought originating from Satan assaults those who have gained piety, they remember (Allah),311 and lo, they begin to perceive.312

    311. The Prophet (saws) has explained in a hadith of Muslim:


    إِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ يَأْتِيهِ الشَّيْطَانُ فَيَقُولُ مَنْ خَلَقَكَ فَيَقُولُ اللَّهُ فَيَقُولُ فَمَنْ خَلَقَ اللَّهَ فَإِذَا وَجَدَ ذَلِكَ أَحَدُكُمْ فَلْيَقْرَأْ آمَنْتُ بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ فَإِنَّ ذَلِكَ يُذْهِبُ عَنْهُ


    "Satan comes to one of you and asks, ‘Who created you?’ He answers, ‘Allah.’ Then he asks, Who created Allah?” When that happens to one of you, let him recite, ‘I believe in Allah and His Messengers,’ for that will chase him away from you" (Qurtubi).
    Qurtubi’s quote is different from ours, though of the same meaning. We have chosen the above from Ahmad because Shu`ayb Arna’ut declared it Sahih (Au.).
    312. A good example of this was provided by Hasan b. `Ali b. Talib. `Isam b. Mustaliq says: "I entered Madinah and came across Hasan b. `Ali. I was impressed by his personality and carriage. That evoked envy in me because of the hatred I bore for his father. I asked, ‘Are you Hasan b. `Ali?' He replied, ‘Very much so.' I began to call him names and curse his father. He looked up at me, as if in pity. Then he said, ‘I seek Allah's refuge from Satan the accursed and I begin in the name of Allah, the Kind, the Merciful. "Take to forgiving, bid to what is (just and) right, and ignore the ignorant" ... reading out until ... "those who have gained piety, when a thought originating from Satan assaults them, they recall (Allah), and lo, they begin to perceive." Then he said, ‘Cool down man. Seek Allah's forgiveness for yourself and for me. If you need our help, we shall offer you help; if you seek a companion we shall provide you one; if you seek to know the way, we shall guide you to it.' Those words went down into my body spreading remorse. He added, ‘There is no blame on you man. May Allah forgive you. Verily, He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.' Then he asked, ‘Are you from Syria?' I said, ‘Yes.' He recited a piece of poetry and then added, ‘Welcome to you and may Allah lead you to a good resort and protect you. If you need anything just call us, you will find us responding in a manner better than what you thought if Allah will.'" `Isam says, ‘The earth became narrow for me despite its vastness. I wished it would swallow me. I escaped fast from him in a state that there was none in my heart dearer to me than he and his father' (Qurtubi).

    وَإِخْوَانُهُمْ يَمُدُّونَهُمْ فِي الْغَيِّ ثُمَّ لَا يُقْصِرُونَ (202)

    7|202| (As for) their brothers, they lead them into error. And they never let them relax.313

    313. Some commentators have explained this piece as: There is no let up from either side. Neither the devils let them escape, nor their followers abandon their company (Shawkani).

    وَإِذَا لَمْ تَأْتِهِمْ بِآيَةٍ قَالُوا لَوْلَا اجْتَبَيْتَهَا ۚ قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَتَّبِعُ مَا يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ مِنْ رَبِّي ۚ هَٰذَا بَصَائِرُ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ (203)

    7|203| When you do not bring them a miracle, they ask, ‘Why did you not choose one?'314 Say, ‘I only follow that which is revealed to Me by my Lord.315 This (Qur'an) is nothing but evidences316 from your Lord, a guidance and a mercy unto a people who believe.

    314. Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Suddi and others have said that unbelievers meant to say, why do you not choose one for yourself, and produce it all by yourself, if your God failed you (Ibn Jarir).
    315. That is, I have not been sent to work up miracles. I have been commissioned to demonstrate to you that the message I am propounding is livable, practicable (Au.).
    Majid writes: "That is the gist of prophethood in Islam. Prophets are only the faithful Messengers of God. No prophet is empowered to perform miracles on his own accord in order to please the infidels. It is only God who, in His infinite wisdom and power, can, and does sometimes, alter the working of His usual, ordinary, normal laws, and bring about what to the limited, finite, intelligence of men appears miraculous. He alone is the Author, equally of the ordinary, everyday events, of natural, extra ordinary, and ‘super' natural events, known in human language as miracles."
    316. ‘Evidences,' or ‘evident arguments’ is perhaps the closest to how one can understand the textual word basa'ir (Au.).

    وَإِذَا قُرِئَ الْقُرْآنُ فَاسْتَمِعُوا لَهُ وَأَنْصِتُوا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ (204)

    7|204| Therefore, when the Qur'an is recited, listen to it,317 and stay silent listening in attention, haply so you might be shown mercy.

    317. `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, Abu Hurayrah and others have reported that the Muslims used to speak out a few necessary words to each other during Prayers until this verse came down. According to Zuhri, it proscribed the recitation of the Qur'an while the Imam is engaged in recitation during congregational Prayer. Another report comes from Ibn Kurayz who says (referring to this verse) that once he objected to the conversation between `Ubayy b. `Umayr and `Ata ibn Abi Rubah pointing out that someone around there was addressing another group of people on a religious topic. The two looked at him, but continued with their conversation without a word to him. The third time he objected to them, they said the verse was primarily revealed for maintaining silence when the Imam recited the Qur'an in the congregational Prayers. This is also the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah, Sa`id b. Jubayr, Ibn Musayyib and others. Ibn `Abbas has added that one is free to listen or not to listen to the Qur'anic recitation, if recited outside of the Prayers. Mujahid, Sa`id b. Jubayr and Hasan have extended the prohibition to the time Friday sermon is delivered (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    However, if a person asks another to recite the Qur'an for him, then it is obligatory on him to listen and remain silent (Au.).
    Muslim has a report of Abu Musa al Ash`ari that the Prophet said:


    إِنَّمَا جُعِلَ الإِمَامُ لِيُؤْتَمَّ بِهِ ، فَإِذَا كَبَّرَ فَكَبِّرُوا ، وَإِذَا قَرَأَ فَأَنْصِتُوا


    "The Imam has been appointed to be obeyed. Therefore, when he says Allahu Akbar, you too say Allahu Akbar, and when he recites (the Qur'an) stay silent and listen carefully."
    Others (Nasa'i, Ibn Majah and Ahmad: Hussain b. Ibrahim) have also recorded this hadith as coming from Abu Hurayrah with Muslim declaring it Sahih although he himself did not report it.
    Once Ibn Mas`ud led in Prayers. Some people began to recite behind him. After the Prayers Ibn Mas`ud said (in an irritated tone: Au.) that there ought to be no recitation behind the Imam, "rather, you should ponder over what is being recited."
    In fact, according to a report in Ahmad, the Prophet himself disapproved that his followers should recite behind him. Zuhri has added that one might not recite even if he does not hear the Imam's recitation, being at a distance. This happens to be the rule prescribed by Imam Abu Hanifah, Ahmad b. Hanbal, Malik, and the older opinion of Imam Shafe`i who do not think that even al Fatiha need to be recited in jahri Prayers (Fajr, Maghrib and `Isha) - Ibn Kathir.
    Alusi points out in defense of the above opinion that in fact there is a hadith in Hakim that tells us that the Prophet even disapproved of recitation of the Qur'an behind the Imam in Zuhr and `Asr Prayers saying, "Imam's recitation is the follower's recitation." Non recitation behind the Imam was the practice of `Umar, Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Ibn `Umar, Zayd b. Thabit and others. Sha`bi has said that he met 70 of those who participated in Badr campaign, who objected to the recitation behind the Imam.

    وَاذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ فِي نَفْسِكَ تَضَرُّعًا وَخِيفَةً وَدُونَ الْجَهْرِ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ وَلَا تَكُنْ مِنَ الْغَافِلِينَ (205)

    7|205| And, remember your Lord within yourself in humility and awe, without saying the word aloud, morning and evening.318 And be not of the heedless.

    318. "Morning and evening": i.e., at all times (Razi).
    The Sahihayn have a report of Abu Musa al Ash`ari that in one of the campaigns the Companions would not go up a hill or climb down into a valley but chant glories of Allah loudly. The Prophet told them:


    َيا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ ارْبَعُوا عَلَى أَنْفُسِكُمْ ، إِنَّكُمْ لاَ تَدْعُونَ أَصَمَّ وَلاَ غَائِبًا ، إِنَّمَا تَدْعُونَ سَمِيعًا قَرِيبًا وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ وَالَّذِى تَدْعُونَهُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَى أَحَدِكُمْ مِنْ عُنُقِ رَاحِلَةِ أَحَدِكُمْ


    "People. Show mercy to yourselves. You are not calling upon a deaf, or someone absent. The One you are calling upon is the Hearer, close (to you). He is with you. The One you are calling is closer to one of you than the neck of the beast he is riding" (Ibn Kathir).
    Commenting on the dhikr al lisani recommended by the verse, Razi writes: It should be understood that the body and soul have mutual relationship with each other. Whatever happens to the soul is reflected back on the body and whatever happens to the body is reflected back on the soul. When a man spells out Allah's name by his tongue in a way that he hears his own words, the effects reach the mind and heart, from where they are reflected back on to the soul. In turn, the irradiated soul reflects back its light on the body. Thus each strengthens the other, steering the man to the course of elevation, to greater and greater spiritual heights.

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ عِنْدَ رَبِّكَ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِهِ وَيُسَبِّحُونَهُ وَلَهُ يَسْجُدُونَ ۩ (206)

    7|206| Verily, those who are with your Lord,319 are not too proud to worship Him. They extol His glory and to Him they prostrate themselves.320

    319. The allusion is not to physical nearness, rather to spiritual status (Razi).
    320. This is the first Prostration verse of the Qur'an. The Prophet used to prostrate himself at the end of this verse (Au.).
    "It is also on record that while delivering a sermon from the pulpit the Prophet (peace be on him) came down from the pulpit to offer prostration and resumed the sermon thereafter" (Mawdudi).
    When in prostration one might say, as in a report of Ibn `Abbas in Ibn Majah:


    اللَّهُمَّ اكْتُبْ لِى بِهَا عِنْدَكَ ذِكْرًا ، وَاجْعَلْ لِى بِهَا عِنْدَكَ ذُخْرًا ، وَأَعْظِمْ لِى بِهَا عِنْدَكَ أَجْرًا


    "O Allah, write it down with You as words of remembrance, place it for me with You as a treasure, and enlarge for me its reward.”
    Tirmidhi declared it Hasan, but Hakim treated it as Sahih (Au.).
    Another report in Ahmad, Abu Da'ud and Tirmidhi, who graded it Sahih, narrates `A'isha as saying that in his night Prayers the Prophet always said the following words at the Prostration verses:


    اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ سَجَدْتُ ، وَبِكَ آمَنْتُ ، وَلَكَ أَسْلَمْتُ سَجَدَ وَجْهِي لِلَّذِي خَلَقَهُ وَصَوَّرَهُ فَشَقَّ سَمْعَهُ وَبَصَرَهُ تَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ


    "O Allah, I have prostrated for You. In You I have believed. My face prostrates itself unto Him Who created it and who split open its hearing and sight by His force and power. Exalted is Allah the best of creators" (Alusi).
    According to the Hanafiyyah, one who did not intend to listen to the Qur'an, but hears the Prostration verse, has also to prostrate himself (Au.). Accordingly, Mufti Shafi` adds, it is not desirable to recite the Qur'an aloud in an assembly where the people are not listening, but obligatory for an individual to listen when someone starts to recite, or plays a tape recorder.

    Fiqh Points
    1. According to the Hanafiyyah, prostration at the prostration verse is obligatory (Au.).
    2. There is no difference of opinion among the scholars that Qur'anic prostrations go with the same conditions as the prostrations within the Salah, viz., major and minor ablution, cleanliness of the clothes, the right intention, and orientation toward the Qiblah (Qurtubi).
    3. Imam Shafe`i, Ahmad and Is haq have ruled that one might if he will raise his hands and say the takbir, as in Prayers.
    4. There is no salam after the prostration (Qurtubi).
    5. One might not prostrate oneself during the forbidden hours.

    According to a hadith in Muslim and Ibn Majah, as reported by Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet said:


    إِذَا قَرَأَ ابْنُ آدَمَ السَّجْدَةَ فَسَجَدَ اعْتَزَلَ الشَّيْطَانُ يَبْكِى يَقُولُ يَا وَيْلَهُ - وَفِى رِوَايَةِ أَبِى كُرَيْبٍ يَا وَيْلِى - أُمِرَ ابْنُ آدَمَ بِالسُّجُودِ فَسَجَدَ فَلَهُ الْجَنَّةُ وَأُمِرْتُ بِالسُّجُودِ فَأَبَيْتُ فَلِىَ النَّارُ


    "When Adam’s son recites a Prostration verse and prostrates himself, Shaytan retreats weeping, saying, ‘Woe unto me. Adam's son was commanded to prostrate, he obeyed, and will get Paradise. I was also commanded to prostrate, but I refused, and for me is the Fire" (Qurtubi, Alusi).