Surat Al-Muddaththir

What is the Qur'an About?

Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma`ani
by
Syed Iqbal Zaheer

تفسير إِشراقُ المَعَاني
سيد إقبال ظهير

PREPARATORY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the words of Arberry:

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

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

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

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

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

و ف إنَّ

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

وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً [النساء : 4]

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

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

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

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

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

Further down he writes:

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

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

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

He adds a little further,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْهَا رِيَاحًا وَلا تَجْعَلْهَا رِيحًا

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

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

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

اللَّهُمَّ فَقِّهْهُ فِي الدِّينِ وَعَلِّمْهُ التَّأْوِيلَ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syed Iqbal Zaheer
March 2015

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References, abbreviations, and technical terms

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

________________________

Abbreviations as in
Abdul Majid Daryabadi’s English Commentary

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

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

_______________________

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

_______________________

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

________________________

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

______________________

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

______________________

  • Surah No. 74

    Merits of the Surah

    1. “After the Prophet’s earliest revelation – consisting of the first five verses of surah 96 – a period elapsed during which he received no revelation at all. The length of this break in revelation (fatratu al-wahy) cannot be established with certainty; it may have been as less as six months or as much as three years. It was a time of deepest distress for the Prophet: the absence of revelation almost led him to believe that his earlier experience in the cave of Mount Hira was an illusion; and it was only due to the moral support of wife Khadijah and her undaunted faith in his prophetic mission that he did not entirely lose his courage and hope. At the end of this intermission the Prophet had a vision of the Angel Gabriel ‘sitting between heaven and earth’. Almost immediately afterwards, the present surah was revealed, and then on, in Muhammad’s own words, ‘revelations became intense and continuous’” (Asad).

    بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُدَّثِّرُ (1)

    74|1| O the one shrouded (in a mantle).2

    2. We can start with Yusuf Ali’s soothing remarks: “In these wonderful early verses there is a double thread of thought: (1) A particular occasion or person is referred to; (2) a general spiritual lesson is taught. As to (1), the Prophet was now past the stage of personal contemplation, lying down or sitting in his mantle; he was now to go forth boldly to deliver his Message and publicly proclaim the Lord: his heart had always been purified, but now all his outward doings must be dedicated to Allah, and conventional respect for ancestral customs or worship must be thrown aside; his work as a Messenger was the most generous gift that could flow from his personality, but no reward or appreciation was to be expected from his people, but quite the contrary; there would be much call on his patience, but his contentment would arise from the good pleasure of Allah. As to (2), similar stages arise in a minor degree in the fife of every good man, for which the Prophet's life is to be a universal pattern.”
    From among the Salaf, `Ikrimah said that by enwrapment the allusion is to the shrouding of the Prophet with the Prophetic mission (Ibn Jarir). The above has usage in the Arabic language for its support (Razi). However, the majority have believed that the revelation came when the Prophet was enwrapped in a mantle. Details are in hadith collections. A report of this context says that Jabir b. `Abdullah said,

    (عن) جَابِرُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ ثُمَّ فَتَرَ عَنِّي الْوَحْيُ فَتْرَةً فَبَيْنَا أَنَا أَمْشِي سَمِعْتُ صَوْتًا مِنْ السَّمَاءِ فَرَفَعْتُ بَصَرِي قِبَلَ السَّمَاءِ فَإِذَا الْمَلَكُ الَّذِي جَاءَنِي بِحِرَاءٍ قَاعِدٌ عَلَى كُرْسِيٍّ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالأَرْضِ فَجُئِثْتُ مِنْهُ حَتَّى هَوَيْتُ إِلَى الأَرْضِ فَجِئْتُ أَهْلِي فَقُلْتُ زَمِّلُونِي زَمِّلُونِي فَأَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُدَّثِّرُ قُمْ فَأَنْذِرْ إِلَى قَوْلِهِ وَالرُّجْزَ فَاهْجُرْ قَالَ أَبُو سَلَمَةَ وَالرِّجْزُ الأَوْثَانُ.‏

    He heard the Prophet say, “Thereafter the revelation ceased coming to me for a while. Then, as I was walking, I heard a voice from the heaven. I raised my eyes up and lo, the angel that had come to me in Hira was seated in a chair (spread over) between the heaven and the earth. I felt scared of him and fell down. I went back to my homefolk and said, ‘Cover me up, cover me up,’ and Allah revealed, ‘O the one shrouded (in a mantle). Arise, and warn. Your Lord, magnify. Your clothes purify. And defilement shun.’”
    Abu Salamah (one of the narrators) added: “Rijz is for idols.” (Ibn Jarir).
    The report is in Muslim. And Bukhari’s report adds that when the Prophet returned he asked to be covered and cold water poured on him, which was done; and Allah revealed this Surah (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    In other words, as Zuhri said, this Surah was revealed immediately after the first revelation which were five verses of Surah al-Iqra’ (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir and others).

    قُمْ فَأَنْذِرْ (2)

    74|2| Arise, and warn.

    وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ (3)

    74|3| Your Lord, magnify.3

    3. That is, your Lord alone, and none else should you magnify (Alusi).

    وَثِيَابَكَ فَطَهِّرْ (4)

    74|4| Your clothes purify.4

    4. The great majority of the Salaf, who cited poetical pieces, said the allusion is to cleansing oneself of sins (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Arabic usage allows us to include cleansing of the clothes as well as purification of the heart (Razi, Ibn Kathir).
    Asad sums up: “.. almost all the classical commentators point out that the noun thawb and its plural thiyab is often metonymically applied to that which a garment encloses, i.e., a person’s ‘body’ or, in a wider sense, his ‘self’ or his ‘heart’ or even his ‘spiritual state’ or ‘conduct’ (Taj al-`Arus). Thus, commenting on the above verse, Zamakhshari draws the reader’s attention to the well-known idiomatic phrase tahir ath-thiyab (lit., ‘one who is clean in his garments’) and danis ath-thiyab (‘one who is filthy in his garments’), and stresses their tropical significance of ‘free from faults and vices’ and ‘vicious and perfidious’, respectively. Razi states with approval that ‘according to most of the [earlier] commentators, the meaning of the verse is, “purify thy heart of all that is blameworthy.””

    وَالرُّجْزَ فَاهْجُرْ (5)

    74|5| And the abomination shun.5

    5. The translation is literal, but the majority has thought that the allusion is to idols (Ibn Jarir, Razi, Ibn Kathir).

    وَلَا تَمْنُنْ تَسْتَكْثِرُ (6)

    74|6| Bestow not (in charity) to gain increase.6

    6. That is, offer not a gift in the hope of getting better than that (Ibn Jarir from the Salaf); but many other explanations have come. Qurtubi offers some 11 of them.

    وَلِرَبِّكَ فَاصْبِرْ (7)

    74|7| And, observe patience for your Lord.7

    7. That is, for the sake of your Lord.

    فَإِذَا نُقِرَ فِي النَّاقُورِ (8)

    74|8| When it is blown into the Trumpet.8

    8. The Prophet is reported to have said,

    عَنْ أَبِى سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِىِّ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « كَيْفَ أَنْعَمُ وَقَدِ الْتَقَمَ صَاحِبُ الْقَرْنِ الْقَرْنَ وَحَنَى جَبْهَتَهُ وَأَصْغَى سَمْعَهُ يَنْتَظِرُ أَنْ يُؤْمَرَ أَنْ يَنْفُخَ فَيَنْفُخَ ». قَالَ الْمُسْلِمُونَ فَكَيْفَ نَقُولُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ « قُولُوا حَسْبُنَا اللَّهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ تَوَكَّلْنَا عَلَى اللَّهِ رَبِّنَا ».

    “How should I relax when the one in charge of the Trumpet has placed his mouth on the Trumpet, has bent his forehead forward, and is waiting in all-attention to be ordered to blow, so that he may blow.” They asked, “What shall we say, O Messenger of Allah?” He answered, “Say, (see the Arabic text)” – meaning, “Allah is sufficient for us, He is the best of those on whom one can rely. Upon Him we have placed our trust, our Lord” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    The hadith is in Tirmidhi who declared it weak, but Hafiz (ibn Hajr) thought it is strong (Sami).

    فَذَٰلِكَ يَوْمَئِذٍ يَوْمٌ عَسِيرٌ (9)

    74|9| That Day will be a hard day.

    عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ غَيْرُ يَسِيرٍ (10)

    74|10| Upon the unbelievers9 - not (at all) easy.10

    9. Asad writes: “(Kafir) is one who denies [or ‘refuses to acknowledge’] the truth, in the widest, spiritual sense of this latter term, i.e., irrespective of whether it relates to a cognition of the supreme truth – namely, the existence of God – or to a doctrine or ordinance enunciated in the divine writ, or to a self-evident moral proposition, or to an acknowledgement of, and therefore, gratitude for, favors received.”
    10. It is reported to us that Zurarah b. Awfa – the Qadi of Basrah – led in the Prayers at Fajr. He recited this Surah. When he reached this verse, he gave out a cry and fell down dead (Ibn Kathir).

    ذَرْنِي وَمَنْ خَلَقْتُ وَحِيدًا (11)

    74|11| Leave Me alone with him I alone created.11


    11. That is, he came into the world alone, will die alone and will be raised alone (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir). Alternatively, (or additionally) it could mean “He, whom I alone have created, none partnering Me in creation” (Zamakhshari, Razi, Qurtubi).
    Although the address is open to anyone who so qualifies, the immediate reference was to al-Walid b. al-Mughirah (Ibn Jarir).
    Interestingly, the man was unique in terms of wealth, children, and status among the Quraysh, although he was not one of them, but who attributed himself to them for the honor, and referred to himself as unique (waheed); and, consequently, was nicknamed “Waheed” by his compatriots. There have been differences in opinion over how he ended. Some say he was killed by Najashi of Abyssinia for a murder he had committed (there); others that he was killed at Badr, and, strangely, yet others that he became a Muslim, which idea Ibn Hajr refuted (Alusi). It is possible that the confusion has arisen from the fact that one of his sons was also named Walid, who had become Muslim (Au.).

    وَجَعَلْتُ لَهُ مَالًا مَمْدُودًا (12)

    74|12| And appointed for him extensive wealth.

    وَبَنِينَ شُهُودًا (13)

    74|13| And sons, present.12

    12. That is, sons who stood by him to serve him. It is said that Walid had 10 or 13 sons, who never left his company. Khalid b. Walid was one of them. Two others of his sons who embraced Islam were Hisham and Walid b. Walid.

    وَمَهَّدْتُ لَهُ تَمْهِيدًا (14)

    74|14| And prepared for him ample comfort.

    ثُمَّ يَطْمَعُ أَنْ أَزِيدَ (15)

    74|15| Yet he is eager that I should grant (him) more.

    كَلَّا ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ لِآيَاتِنَا عَنِيدًا (16)

    74|16| By no means!13 He has been hostile to Our revelations.14

    13. It is said that thereafter he suffered losses all around (farms, cattle, business across continents, etc.) and died poor (from most commentators).
    14. Asad explains: “The noun anid, derived from the verb `anada, denotes one who opposes or rejects something that is true, knowing it to be true (Lisan al-`Arab). The element of human contrariness and stubbornness is implied in the use of the auxiliary verb kana, which indicates here a permanently recurring phenomenon despite its past-tense formation.”

    سَأُرْهِقُهُ صَعُودًا (17)

    74|17| Soon I shall force him to a hard ascent.15

    15. (Though literally it means to subject someone to an arduous task), here it means he will be subjected to harsh punishment (Ibn Jarir).

    إِنَّهُ فَكَّرَ وَقَدَّرَ (18)

    74|18| Lo, He reflected, and determined.

    فَقُتِلَ كَيْفَ قَدَّرَ (19)

    74|19| So, he be killed, how he determined!

    ثُمَّ قُتِلَ كَيْفَ قَدَّرَ (20)

    74|20| Again, he be killed, how he determined!

    ثُمَّ نَظَرَ (21)

    74|21| Then he looked.

    ثُمَّ عَبَسَ وَبَسَرَ (22)

    74|22| Then he frowned and scowled.

    ثُمَّ أَدْبَرَ وَاسْتَكْبَرَ (23)

    74|23| Then he turned and waxed proud.

    فَقَالَ إِنْ هَٰذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ يُؤْثَرُ (24)

    74|24| And said, ‘This is nothing but magic16 handed down (from the past).

    16. “The term sihr, which usually denotes ‘sorcery’ or ‘magic’, primarily signifies ‘the turning of something from its proper [or “natural”] state of being into another state’, hence, it is often applied to the fascination or enchantment caused by exceptional, ‘spell-bounding’ eloquence (Taj al-`Arus)” – Asad.

    إِنْ هَٰذَا إِلَّا قَوْلُ الْبَشَرِ (25)

    74|25| This is nothing but words of a human being.’17

    17. The following is reported as the cause of revelation of these verses:

    (روي أنه) الْوَلِيدَ بْنَ الْمُغِيرَةِ اجْتَمَعَ إلَيْهِ نَفَرٌ مِنْ قُرَيْشٍ ، وَكَانَ ذَا سِنّيهِمْ وَقَدْ حَضَرَ الْمَوْسِمَ فَقَالَ لَهُمْ يَا مَعْشَرَ قُرَيْشٍ ، إنّهُ قَدْ حَضَرَ هَذَا الْمَوْسِمُ وَإِنّ وُفُودَ الْعَرَبِ سَتَقْدَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيهِ وَقَدْ سَمِعُوا بِأَمْرِ صَاحِبِكُمْ هَذَا ، فَأَجْمِعُوا فِيهِ رَأْيًا وَاحِدًا ، وَلا تَخْتَلِفُوا فَيُكَذّبَ بَعْضُكُمْ بَعْضًا ، وَيَرُدّ قَوْلُكُمْ بَعْضُهُ بَعْضًا ؛ قَالُوا : فَأَنْتَ يَا أَبَا عَبْدِ شَمْسٍ ، فَقُلْ وَأَقِمْ لَنَا رَأْيًا نَقُولُ بِهِ قَالَ بَلْ أَنْتُمْ فَقُولُوا أَسْمَعْ قَالُوا : نَقُولُ كَاهِنٌ قَالَ لا وَاَللّهِ مَا هُوَ بِكَاهِنِ لَقَدْ رَأَيْنَا الْكُهّانَ فَمَا هُوَ بِزَمْزَمَةِ الْكَاهِنِ وَلا سَجْعِهِ قَالُوا : فَنَقُولُ مَجْنُونٌ قَالَ مَا هُوَ بِمَجْنُونِ لَقَدْ رَأَيْنَا الْجُنُونَ وَعَرَفْنَاهُ فَمَا هُوَ بِخَنْقِهِ وَلا تَخَالُجِهِ وَلا وَسْوَسَتِهِ قَالُوا : فَنَقُولُ شَاعِرٌ قَالَ مَا هُوَ بِشَاعِرِ لَقَدْ عَرَفْنَا الشّعْرَ كُلّهُ رَجَزَهُ وَهَزَجَهُ وَقَرِيضَهُ وَمَقْبُوضَهُ وَمَبْسُوطَهُ فَمَا هُوَ بِالشّعْرِ قَالُوا : فَنَقُولُ سَاحِرٌ قَالَ مَا هُوَ بِسَاحِرِ لَقَدْ رَأَيْنَا السّحّارَ وَسِحْرَهُمْ فَمَا هُوَ بِنَفْثِهِمْ وَلا عَقْدِهِمْ قَالُوا : فَمَا نَقُولُ يَا أَبَا عَبْدِ شَمْسٍ ؟ قَالَ وَاَللّهِ إنّ لِقَوْلِهِ لَحَلاوَةً ، وَإِنّ أَصْلَهُ لَعَذِقٌ وَإِنّ فَرْعَهُ لَجُنَاةٌ وَمَا أَنْتُمْ بِقَائِلِينَ مِنْ هَذَا شَيْئًا إلا عُرِفَ أَنّهُ بَاطِلٌ وَإِنّ أَقْرَبَ الْقَوْلِ فِيهِ لأَنْ تَقُولُوا سَاحِرٌ جَاءَ بِقَوْلٍ هُوَ سِحْرٌ يُفَرّقُ بِهِ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَأَبِيهِ وَبَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَأَخِيهِ وَبَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَعَشِيرَتِهِ . فَتُفَرّقُوا عَنْهُ بِذَلِكَ فَجَعَلُوا يَجْلِسُونَ بِسُبُلِ النّاسِ حِينَ قَدِمُوا الْمَوْسِمَ لا يَمُرّ بِهِمْ أَحَدٌ إلا حَذّرُوهُ إيّاهُ وَذَكَرُوا لَهُمْ أَمْرَهُ . فَأَنْزَلَ اللّهُ تَعَالَى فِي الْوَلِيدِ بْنِ الْمُغِيرَةِ وَفِي ذَلِكَ مِنْ قَوْلِهِ { ذَرْنِي وَمَنْ خَلَقْتُ وَحِيدًا وَجَعَلْتُ لَهُ مَالا مَمْدُودًا وَبَنِينَ شُهُودًا وَمَهّدْتُ لَهُ تَمْهِيدًا ثُمّ يَطْمَعُ أَنْ أَزِيدَ كَلا إِنّهُ كَانَ لآيَاتِنَا عَنِيدًا } - سيرة ابن هشام (1/ 269)

    It is reported that when the Hajj season arrived, some of the Quraysh gathered around Walid b. al-Mughira. He was the most senior of them. He told them, “O Quraysh, the season has arrived and the Arabs will enter on you. They will hear about your man (meaning Muhammad). So, come around to one opinion about him. If you differ, you will end up contradicting each other.” They said, “O `Abd Shams, you decide about what we should say.” He said, “Rather, you suggest and I’ll hear.” They said, “We shall say he is a soothsayer.” He said, “That will not do. He is not a soothsayer. We have seen plenty of soothsayers. Neither there is any rumbling nor any murmuring.” They said, “So we will say he is mad.” He objected, “He is not mad. We have seen plenty of mad men. He neither suffers choking, nor any discomfiture, nor yet any vacillation.” They said, “Let us then say that he is a poet.” He responded, “But he is not a poet. We know all classes of poetry… (His material) does not resemble any kind of poetry.” They said, “Then let us say he is a magician.” He disagreed by saying, “He is no magician. We have experienced magicians and their magic. He neither blows nor does he tie knots.” They asked, “Then what shall we say, O Abu `Abd Shams?” He answered, “By Allah what he says has a kind of sweetness; it is fertile; all its branches are fruitful. So, you will not be able to say anything but it will be immediately realized that it is not true. I suppose the nearest of what you can think of is to say that he is a magician who separates a father and his son, a brother from his brother, and a man and his family.”
    So they dispersed and thereafter each of them assigned a path to himself, so that when the Hajj season arrived, no one passed by but they warned him about him (the Prophet) and explained to him about his affair. So Allah revealed about Walid b. al-Mughira saying: Leave Me alone with him I alone created ...”
    Verse 18 seems to be referring to the above incident when it said, “So, he be killed, how he determined!” And, verse 19, which says, “Again, he be killed, how he determined!”
    seems to be referring to the following incident, thus, two incidents required two threats of death:

    عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا ، أَنَّ الْوَلِيدَ بْنَ الْمُغِيرَةِ جَاءَ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَرَأَ عَلَيْهِ الْقُرْآنَ ، فَكَأَنَّهُ رَقَّ لَهُ فَبَلَغَ ذَلِكَ أَبَا جَهْلٍ ، فَأَتَاهُ فَقَالَ : يَا عَمُّ ، إِنَّ قَوْمَكَ يَرَوْنَ أَنْ يَجْمَعُوا لَكَ مَالاً . قَالَ : لَمَ ؟ قَالَ : لِيُعْطُوكَهُ فَإِنَّكَ أَتَيْتَ مُحَمَّدًا لِتُعْرِضَ لِمَا قِبَلَهُ قَالَ : قَدْ عَلِمَتْ قُرَيْشٌ أَنِّي مِنْ أَكْثَرِهَا مَالاً . قَالَ : فَقُلْ فِيهِ قَوْلاً يَبْلُغُ قَوْمَكَ أَنَّكَ مُنْكِرٌ لَهُ أَوْ أَنَّكَ كَارِهٌ لَهُ قَالَ : وَمَاذَا أَقُولُ فَوَاللَّهِ مَا فِيكُمْ رَجُلٌ أَعْلَمَ بِالأَشْعَارِ مِنِّي ، وَلاَ أَعْلَمَ بِرَجَزٍ وَلاَ بِقَصِيدَةٍ مِنِّي وَلاَ بِأَشْعَارِ الْجِنِّ وَاللَّهِ مَا يُشْبِهُ الَّذِي يَقُولُ شَيْئًا مِنْ هَذَا وَوَاللَّهِ إِنَّ لِقَوْلِهِ الَّذِي يَقُولُ حَلاَوَةً ، وَإِنَّ عَلَيْهِ لَطَلاَوَةً ، وَإِنَّهُ لَمُثْمِرٌ أَعْلاَهُ مُغْدِقٌ أَسْفَلُهُ ، وَإِنَّهُ لَيَعْلُو وَمَا يُعْلَى وَإِنَّهُ لَيَحْطِمُ مَا تَحْتَهُ قَالَ : لاَ يَرْضَى عَنْكَ قَوْمُكَ حَتَّى تَقُولَ فِيهِ . قَالَ : فَدَعْنِي حَتَّى أُفَكِّرَ ، فَلَمَّا فَكَّرَ قَالَ : هَذَا سِحْرٌ يُؤْثَرُ يَأْثُرُهُ مِنْ غَيْرِهِ فَنَزَلَتْ {ذَرْنِي وَمَنْ خَلَقْتُ وَحِيدًا}. - المستدرك - هَذَا حَدِيثٌ صَحِيحُ الإِسْنَادِ عَلَى شَرْطِ الْبُخَارِيِّ وَلَمْ يُخَرِّجَاهُ. (وتعليق الذهبي قي التلخيص : على شرط البخاري)

    Ibn `Abbas reported that Walid b. al-Mughira visited the Prophet. He recited some Qur’an to him. (Or he heard him recite the Qur’an in the Grand Mosque). It seems it struck chord with him to soften him. Abu Jahl came to know about it. He went up to him and said, “Uncle. Your people intend to gather together some money for you.” When he asked why, he said, “In order to gift you. It seems you went to Muhammad for financial gains.” He retorted, “The Quraysh know that I am the richest of them.” Abu Jahl said, “Say something about him so that your people know that you reject him.” He answered, “What can I say? By God there is none among you who knows poetry and its various genre’s better than me – nor yet it is the poetry of the Jinn. By Allah, what he says has no resemblance with these. By Allah, what he says has a sweetness, it is covered by brightness, its upper is fruitful while its bottom is watery; and that it will overcome and will not be overcome; and that it will crush what is below it.” Abu Jahl said, “Your people will not be satisfied with you until you can criticize him.” He replied, “Wait, until I think about it.” Then, having done some thinking he said, “This is nothing but magic handed down; being handed down by others.” So, it was revealed, “Leave Me alone with him I alone created; and appointed for him extensive wealth; and sons, present…”
    Other reports suggest that he had gone to Abu Bakr and not to the Prophet (Ibn Jarir, Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    To explain further, two incidents took place where Walid b. al-Mughira acted arrogantly against the Prophetic revelation, apart from being dishonest to himself. This was perhaps the reason why it was said twice, “He be killed ..” He did great damage to the cause of Islam. Its spread among the Bedouin was seriously impaired, which explains why Allah used strong words in reference to him viz. “He be killed ..” (Au.)

    سَأُصْلِيهِ سَقَرَ (26)

    74|26| I shall roast him18 in Saqar.19

    18. Or, “I shall take him (to Saqar).”
    19. Saqar is one of the names of Hell.

    وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا سَقَرُ (27)

    74|27| And what will make you know what is Saqar?

    لَا تُبْقِي وَلَا تَذَرُ (28)

    74|28| It spares not, nor leaves alone.

    لَوَّاحَةٌ لِلْبَشَرِ (29)

    74|29| Scorching the skin.

    عَلَيْهَا تِسْعَةَ عَشَرَ (30)

    74|30| Over it are nineteen.20

    20. It could be that these 19 are the angels in charge, with others under their command (Zamakhshari, Razi).
    In reference to the figure 19, although not in the context, we have a report:

    َعن جَابرِ بن عبد الله قَالَ "قَالَ نَاسٌ مِنَ اليَهُودِ لاِنَاسٍ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ النبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم: هَلْ يَعْلَمُ نَبِيّكُمْ كَمْ عَدَدُ خَزَنَةِ جَهَنّمَ؟ قَالُوا لا نَدْرِي حَتّى نَسْألَ نَبِيّنَا، فَجَاءَ رَجُلٌ إلى النّبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ يَا مُحَمّدُ غُلِبَ أصْحَابُكَ اليَوْمَ، قَالَ: وَبِمَا غُلِبُوا؟ قَالَ سَأَلَهُمْ يَهُودُ هَلْ يَعْلَمُ نَبِيّكُمْ كَمْ عَدَدُ خَزَنَةِ جَهَنّمَ، قالَ: فَمَا قالُوا؟ قالَ قالُوا لا نَدْرِي حَتّى نَسْألَ نَبِيّنَا، قالَ: أَيُغْلَبُ قَوْمٌ سُئِلُوا عَمّا لا يَعْلَمُونَ فقالُوا: لا نَعْلَمُ حَتّى نَسْألَ نَبِيّنَا، لَكِنّهُمْ قَدْ سألُوا نَبِيّهُمْ فقالُوا أَرِنَا الله جَهْرَةً، عَلَيّ بِأعْدَاءِ الله إِنّي سائِلُهُمْ عَن تُرْبَةِ الْجَنّةِ وَهِيَ الدَرْمَكُ، فَلَمّا جاؤُوا قالُوا يَا أَبَا القاسِمِ كَمْ عَدَدُ خَزَنَةِ جَهَنّمَ؟ قالَ: هَكَذَا، وَهكَذَا في مَرّةٍ عَشرَةٌ وَفي مَرّةٍ تِسْعَةُ، قالُوا نَعَمْ، قالَ لَهم النبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ما ترْبَةُ الجَنّةِ؟ قالَ فَسَكَتُوا هُنَيْهَةً ثُمّ قالُوا أخُبْزَةٌ يا أبَا القاسِمِ؟ فقالَ النبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم: الخُبْزُ مِنَ الدّرْمَكِ." قال أبو عيسى: هَذا حديثٌ إِنّمَا نَعْرِفُه مِنْ هَذَا الوَجْهِ مِنْ حَديثِ مُجَالِدٍ.‏

    Some Jews said to the Companions of the Prophet: “Does your Prophet know the number of keepers of Hell?” They said, “We have no idea until we ask him.” So, a man went up to the Prophet and said, “Muhammad. Today your Companions were overcome.” He asked, “In what manner?” He said, “The Jews asked them whether their Prophet knew the number of keepers of Hell.” He asked, “And how did they answer?” He said they did not know until they ask their Prophet. The Prophet remarked, “Are a people overcome when they are asked a thing they do not know and so they say, ‘We have no idea and shall ask our Prophet?’ In fact, the others are a people who asked their Prophet that he show them God, openly. (In any case) bring me those enemies of Allah. I will ask them about the constituent of the surface of Paradise, which, in any case, is made up of fine flour powder.”
    When they came they said, “O Abu al-Qasim, what is the number of keepers of Paradise?” He answered them by showing them all the fingers of the two hands, and then once again, all of them, concealing one. They said, “You are right.” The Prophet asked them, “What is the constituent of the surface of Paradise?” They were quiet for a while and then said, “Bread, O Abu al-Qasim.” He said, “Bread from fine flour-powder” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    The hadith was preserved by Tirmidhi (who declared it weak), Ahmad, Bazzar, but is not too weak (Sami).
    Although the following would not receive the approval of the Salaf, who did not look for the abstract when the concrete raised no problems for them, which, indeed, afforded them concrete ideas, we reproduce here a note from Razi through Asad, to give our readers an idea of how much of Razi (or even Alusi) is not represented in this work of humbler – though practical – objectives. Asad skillfully translates what this writer could not do: “Whereas most of the classical commentators are of the opinion that the ‘nineteen’ are the angels that act as keepers or guardians of hell, Razi advances the view that we may have here a reference to the physical, intellectual and emotional powers within man himself; powers which raise man potentially far above any other creature, but which, if used wrongly, bring about a deterioration of his whole personality, and, hence, intense suffering in the life to come. According to Razi, the philosophers (ashab al-kalam) identify these powers or faculties with, firstly, the seven organic functions of the animal – and therefore also human – body (gravitation, cohesion, repulsion of noxious foreign matter, absorption of beneficial external matter, assimilation of nutrients, growth, and reproduction); secondly, the five ‘external’ or physical senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste); thirdly, the five ‘internal’ or intellectual senses, defined by Ibn Sina – on whom Razi probably relies – as (1) perception of isolated sense-images, (2) conscious apperception of ideas, (3) memory of sense-images, (4) memory of conscious apperceptions, and (5) the ability to correlate sense-images, and higher apperceptions; and lastly, the emotions of ‘internal’ sense-categories – thus bringing the total of the powers and faculties which preside over man’s spiritual fate to nineteen. In their aggregate, it is these powers that confer upon man the ability to think conceptually, and place him, in this respect, even above the angels.”
    We may add the following: Sometime back a person called Rashad Khalifah (perhaps of Swiss origin, though this is not certain) presented a computer-based hypothesis that number 19 is mysteriously related to the Qur'an. He pointed out that there are 19 letters in the basmalah, and, although a difficult number to divide any other number roundly, the number of chapters of the Qur'an, i.e., 114, is divisible by 19, yielding an exact figure of 6. In a 300-page book, full of computer prints and charts, he presented dozens of examples of how 19 could be used to roundly divide the total number of letters, words, verses and other divisions of the Qur'an. For example, since ancient times, Arabic alphabets have been grouped in the following manner:

    أبجد / هوز / حطي / كلمن / سعفص / قرشت / ثخذ / ضظغ

    And each letter is allotted a specific number; such as, alif = 1, baa = 2, jeem = 3, daal = 4, haa = 5, waaw = 6, zaa = 7, haa = 8, taa = 9, yaa = 10, kaaf = 20, laam = 30, meem = 40, noon = 50, seen = 60, `ayn = 70, faa = 80, saad = 90, faa = 100, raa = 200, sheen = 300, taa = 400, thaa = 500, khaa = 600, dhall = 700, daa = 800, zaa = 900 and ghayn = 1000.
    (Following the above system, the total gematric value of basmalah is 786. That is why, in olden times people placed 786 at the top of their letters to each other, to avoid writing the basmalah that could be desecrated).
    Now, the Qur’an has 114 chapters. This figure is divisible by 19, yielding a round figure of 6. The basmalah has 19 letters. Working out the gematric value of Surah al-Fatiah (including the basmalah as the first ayah) gives a figure of 10143. The total number of verses is 7. The total of seven numbers (1+2+3+4+5+6+7) is 28. The total number of letters in the Surah is 139. Summing up, 7 + 28 + 139 + 10143, yields the figure 10317. Now, this 10317, a very odd number, is yet roundly divisible by 19 yielding the round number 543.
    His book sold like hot cakes until it was discovered that he had perhaps done some manipulations in determining the numbers before dividing them with the number 19, to obtain round figures. It was also discovered that he was perhaps a Bohri (or Ismaili?), with whom the number 19 has some sort of religious significance. It is said that he opened his own Church in the USA, announced his messengership, and some time later was found murdered.
    Nonetheless, it may be of interest to note that the number nineteen is in some ways a curious figure. E.g., it is a prime number (i.e., it cannot be divided by any number except itself). It is composed of the first digit (1) and last digit (9). The sum of 91 and 101 is 19. If you subtract the second power of 9 from the second power of 10, you get 19. (102 = 100, and 92 = 81; and 100-81= 19). Its compliment is 81. Now, when 1 is divided by 81, it yields the following result (1/81 = 0.01234567890,1234567890,1234567890, .. you can go on endlessly with the repetition of 1234567890). Another example: Take any two-digit number whose total is 100 (but where no digit carries a 0) and add up the digits. They will yield the number 19. E.g. 42+58 = 100 and adding up 4+2+5+8 gives us the figure 19. Or, 55+45 = 100; and 5+5+4+5 = 19.
    Many examples of strangeness can be quoted. Some examples have been quoted from biology also. For example, proteins in the human body are made up of 20 amino acids. No more, no less. Now, 19 of them are left-handed, whereas one is neither left-handed nor right-handed. Chemists on the other hand point out that the number 19 appears significantly in the periodic table. (Details are complicated to explain without a chart).
    It may also be pointed out that for some religious denominations, number 19 holds a special value, and hence, it is possible that with number 19 in the mind, people have searched for strange occurrences, and found them. Perhaps, if another figure is taken and its strange occurrences searched out, similar remarkable results would be discovered (Au.).

    وَمَا جَعَلْنَا أَصْحَابَ النَّارِ إِلَّا مَلَائِكَةً ۙ وَمَا جَعَلْنَا عِدَّتَهُمْ إِلَّا فِتْنَةً لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِيَسْتَيْقِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ وَيَزْدَادَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِيمَانًا ۙ وَلَا يَرْتَابَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ ۙ وَلِيَقُولَ الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ وَالْكَافِرُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِهَٰذَا مَثَلًا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُضِلُّ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ جُنُودَ رَبِّكَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ وَمَا هِيَ إِلَّا ذِكْرَىٰ لِلْبَشَرِ (31)

    74|31| And, We have not appointed keepers of the Fire except angels. And We have not appointed their numbers but a trial for the unbelievers;21 so that those who were given the Book may feel convinced,22 and those that have believed, may experience increase in faith;23 and so that those that were given the Book as well as the believers, may not fall in doubt; and in order that those in whose heart is a sickness24 and the unbelievers, may ask, ‘What did Allah mean by such an illustration?’ That is how Allah leads astray whom He will and guide whom He will. And no one knows the forces of your Lord save He.25 And it26 is not but a reminder to mankind.

    21. When Abu Jahl heard of this verse he spoke to the Quraysh, “Your companion says that there are 19 keepers of Hell. Now, we are a big group. Can ten of us not handle an angel each?” (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Razi, Ibn Kathir).
    22. Ibn `Abbas and others said that it is stated in the Bible also that Hell has nineteen keepers (Ibn Jarir).
    23. When the believers hear about the number of keepers being 19 in the revelation, they believe therein without questioning. This leads to increase in their faith (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari).
    24. That is, the sickness of hypocrisy (Ibn Jarir). They may not have been hypocrites per se, that is, the kind that appeared later in Madinah, but some of the Makkans could have borne doubts about the Prophet and his mission, which has been termed here as “sickness” (Zamakhshari, Razi).
    25. With reference to the forces of Allah, that none has the knowledge of but He, we have the Night Journey report in Bukhari and Muslim a part of which says,

    يُصَلِّى فِيهِ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ سَبْعُونَ أَلْفَ مَلَكٍ ، إِذَا خَرَجُوا لَمْ يَعُودُوا إِلَيْهِ آخِرَ مَا عَلَيْهِمْ

    “Thereat (i.e. at Bayt al-Ma`mur) seventy thousand angels offer prayers every day. After they leave they will never be able to come back again.”
    Another report preserved by Ahmad and Tirmidhi, although the latter declared it weak, says,

    عَنْ أَبِى ذَرٍّ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « إِنِّى أَرَى مَا لاَ تَرَوْنَ وَأَسْمَعُ مَا لاَ تَسْمَعُونَ أَطَّتِ السَّمَاءُ وَحُقَّ لَهَا أَنْ تَئِطَّ مَا فِيهَا مَوْضِعُ أَرْبَعِ أَصَابِعَ إِلاَّ وَمَلَكٌ وَاضِعٌ جَبْهَتَهُ سَاجِدًا لِلَّهِ لَوْ تَعْلَمُونَ مَا أَعْلَمُ لَضَحِكْتُمْ قَلِيلاً وَلَبَكَيْتُمْ كَثِيرًا وَمَا تَلَذَّذْتُمْ بِالنِّسَاءِ عَلَى الْفُرُشِ وَلَخَرَجْتُمْ إِلَى الصُّعُدَاتِ تَجْأَرُونَ إِلَى اللَّهِ »

    On the authority of Abu Dharr, the Prophet said, “I see what you do not see, and hear what you do not hear. The heaven is creaking, and it is right of it that it should creak. There is not a space of four fingers but there is an angel with his forehead on the ground, in prostration before Allah. If you knew what I know, you would have laughed less and cried more, and you would not have laid with women in your beds, but rather you would go out into the open spaces, supplicating to Allah” (Ibn Kathir).
    Albani trusted the tradition as trustworthy (Au.).
    Thanwi points out that there are other reports that tell us something about the number of angels. One of them preserved by Muslim says,

    عن عبدالله، قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم "يؤتى بجهنم يومئذ لها سبعون ألف زمام. مع كل زمام سبعون ألف ملك يجرونها

    The Prophet said, “Hell will be brought forth with seventy thousand reins, each rein pulled by seventy thousand angels.”
    26. Qatadah and Mujahid have said that by the pronoun “it” the allusion is to Saqar of verse 34 (Ibn Jarir), being one of the levels of Hell (Razi).
    “Hiya” is feminine (rendered here as “it”), that is applicable to Saqar which is also feminine.

    كَلَّا وَالْقَمَرِ (32)

    74|32| Nay! By the moon.

    وَاللَّيْلِ إِذْ أَدْبَرَ (33)

    74|33| And by the night as it retreats.

    وَالصُّبْحِ إِذَا أَسْفَرَ (34)

    74|34| And by the morning as it brightens.27

    27. Ibn `Ashur comments that the allusion by the three verses above is to the gradual rise of the light of Islam and ultimate fading away of the jahiliyyah.
    Sayyid's comment is worth noting:
    "The scenes of the moon, of the night when it begins to retreat, and the morning when it brightens up, are scenes that by themselves whisper meanings. They speak several things directly to the human heart; pouring down many secret thoughts into the depth of it; giving rise to several feelings within it. The Qur'an alludes to the secret whisperings and deep feelings of the hearts that it addresses – quite aware of what lies there, deep in its ravines.
    Seldom it is that a heart should be conscious of the moon when it appears, when it travels in the azure, and when it disappears … but it should not been affected at all by the scenes, by what they whisper into the hearts, while a little time spent observing the moon can give the feeling of one's heart being bathed by its soothing shine.
    Seldom it is that a heart should be conscious of the departing hours of the night, at the quiet hours when the full brightness of the dawn is still away, when the whole of existence opens the eyes to the cures (of the heart), but the heart should not be affected by any feeling at the scene and fail to receive at its depth, flamboyant thoughts and ideas.
    Seldom it is that a heart should be conscious of the morning when the brightness has spread, without perceiving a radiance and the feeling of movement from a state to state, preparing him (at the spiritual level) for the glittering blaze that is about to spread in the outside world, as it first enters into the heart.
    The Lord who created the human heart is aware of the profound effects that these sceneries have on it, He touches upon it directly, alluding to what thoughts the shining moon, the retreating night, the brightness of the dawn, have on it – bringing it closer to realities of life and existence, and causing awareness of the truths of Revelation."

    إِنَّهَا لَإِحْدَى الْكُبَرِ (35)

    74|35| It28 is one of the mighty ones.29

    28. Once again, the pronoun is for Saqar (Ibn Jarir from the ancients).
    29. That is, Saqar is one of the mighty ones, others being Sa`eer, Jaheem, Hutamah, etc. (Razi).

    نَذِيرًا لِلْبَشَرِ (36)

    74|36| A warning to mankind.

    لِمَنْ شَاءَ مِنْكُمْ أَنْ يَتَقَدَّمَ أَوْ يَتَأَخَّرَ (37)

    74|37| To whosoever of you choosing to press forward or lag behind.

    كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ رَهِينَةٌ (38)

    74|38| Every soul, for what it has earned, is a hostage.30

    30. That is, everyone is hostage to his or her deeds. But since the Day of Reckoning will not be the time to pay back with good deeds, the person concerned will have to move on to Hellfire (Au.).

    إِلَّا أَصْحَابَ الْيَمِينِ (39)

    74|39| Except the companions of the right hand.31

    31. That is, except for those of the right hand, who will not be subjected to reckoning. And who are the ones on the right side? `Ali is reported to have said that the allusion is to children (Ibn Jarir).
    Hakim judged Ali’s report as trustworthy (Shawkani).
    But the allusion could be to those who were on the right side of Adam when the Prophet visited him in the heaven, or those who will be given their Records in their right hands, which of course does not contradict other opinions (Alusi).
    Asad adds: “.. an expression based on the tropical significance of yamin as ‘righteous’, and, consequently, ‘blessedness.’”

    فِي جَنَّاتٍ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ (40)

    74|40| In gardens, inquiring each other.

    عَنِ الْمُجْرِمِينَ (41)

    74|41| About the criminals.

    مَا سَلَكَكُمْ فِي سَقَرَ (42)

    74|42| What thrust you into Saqar?

    قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّينَ (43)

    74|43| They will say, ‘We were not of those who Prayed.

    وَلَمْ نَكُ نُطْعِمُ الْمِسْكِينَ (44)

    74|44| And were not of those who fed the poor.

    وَكُنَّا نَخُوضُ مَعَ الْخَائِضِينَ (45)

    74|45| But we would indulge along with those who indulged.32

    32. That is, indulged in such things as prohibited by Allah (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari); or indulged in the Prophet’s person discussing how he could be condemned and his efforts thwarted (Qurtubi).

    وَكُنَّا نُكَذِّبُ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ (46)

    74|46| And would deny the Day of Reckoning.

    حَتَّىٰ أَتَانَا الْيَقِينُ (47)

    74|47| Until the Certainty came to us.33

    33. That is, death, which is a certainty.

    فَمَا تَنْفَعُهُمْ شَفَاعَةُ الشَّافِعِينَ (48)

    74|48| So, the intercession of the intercessors shall profit them not.34

    34. This confirms the validity of intercession (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari).
    The usage of the words, “intercession of the intercessors” gives rise to the question as to who are the intercessors. In this writer’s knowledge, no commentator dealt with this question. I decided therefore to recount the intercessors, however, in connection with the Hereafter alone. Ahadith explain that the believers, martyrs, Prophets, angels, and Allah Himself will intercede to bring out some of those condemned to Fire. The following hadith mentions a few classes of intercessors, while also touching upon the overarching mercy of Allah. It is from Muslim. It says:

    عَنْ أَبِى سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِىِّ أَنَّ نَاسًا فِى زَمَنِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ هَلْ نَرَى رَبَّنَا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « نَعَمْ ». قَالَ « هَلْ تُضَارُّونَ فِى رُؤْيَةِ الشَّمْسِ بِالظَّهِيرَةِ صَحْوًا لَيْسَ مَعَهَا سَحَابٌ وَهَلْ تُضَارُّونَ فِى رُؤْيَةِ الْقَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ صَحْوًا لَيْسَ فِيهَا سَحَابٌ ». قَالُوا لاَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ. قَالَ « مَا تُضَارُّونَ فِى رُؤْيَةِ اللَّهِ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِلاَّ كَمَا تُضَارُّونَ فِى رُؤْيَةِ أَحَدِهِمَا إِذَا كَانَ يَوْمُ الْقِيَامَةِ أَذَّنَ مُؤَذِّنٌ لِيَتَّبِعْ كُلُّ أُمَّةٍ مَا كَانَتْ تَعْبُدُ. فَلاَ يَبْقَى أَحَدٌ كَانَ يَعْبُدُ غَيْرَ اللَّهِ سُبْحَانَهُ مِنَ الأَصْنَامِ وَالأَنْصَابِ إِلاَّ يَتَسَاقَطُونَ فِى النَّارِ حَتَّى إِذَا لَمْ يَبْقَ إِلاَّ مَنْ كَانَ يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ مِنْ بَرٍّ وَفَاجِرٍ وَغُبَّرِ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ فَيُدْعَى الْيَهُودُ فَيُقَالُ لَهُمْ مَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْبُدُونَ قَالُوا كُنَّا نَعْبُدُ عُزَيْرَ ابْنَ اللَّهِ. فَيُقَالُ كَذَبْتُمْ مَا اتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ مِنْ صَاحِبَةٍ وَلاَ وَلَدٍ فَمَاذَا تَبْغُونَ قَالُوا عَطِشْنَا يَا رَبَّنَا فَاسْقِنَا. فَيُشَارُ إِلَيْهِمْ أَلاَ تَرِدُونَ فَيُحْشَرُونَ إِلَى النَّارِ كَأَنَّهَا سَرَابٌ يَحْطِمُ بَعْضُهَا بَعْضًا فَيَتَسَاقَطُونَ فِى النَّارِ. ثُمَّ يُدْعَى النَّصَارَى فَيُقَالُ لَهُمْ مَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْبُدُونَ قَالُوا كُنَّا نَعْبُدُ الْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ اللَّهِ. فَيُقَالُ لَهُمْ كَذَبْتُمْ. مَا اتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ مِنْ صَاحِبَةٍ وَلاَ وَلَدٍ. فَيُقَالُ لَهُمْ مَاذَا تَبْغُونَ فَيَقُولُونَ عَطِشْنَا يَا رَبَّنَا فَاسْقِنَا. - قَالَ - فَيُشَارُ إِلَيْهِمْ أَلاَ تَرِدُونَ فَيُحْشَرُونَ إِلَى جَهَنَّمَ كَأَنَّهَا سَرَابٌ يَحْطِمُ بَعْضُهَا بَعْضًا فَيَتَسَاقَطُونَ فِى النَّارِ حَتَّى إِذَا لَمْ يَبْقَ إِلاَّ مَنْ كَانَ يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى مِنْ بَرٍّ وَفَاجِرٍ أَتَاهُمْ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى فِى أَدْنَى صُورَةٍ مِنَ الَّتِى رَأَوْهُ فِيهَا.
    قَالَ فَمَا تَنْتَظِرُونَ تَتْبَعُ كُلُّ أُمَّةٍ مَا كَانَتْ تَعْبُدُ. قَالُوا يَا رَبَّنَا فَارَقْنَا النَّاسَ فِى الدُّنْيَا أَفْقَرَ مَا كُنَّا إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَمْ نُصَاحِبْهُمْ. فَيَقُولُ أَنَا رَبُّكُمْ. فَيَقُولُونَ نَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنْكَ لاَ نُشْرِكُ بِاللَّهِ شَيْئًا - مَرَّتَيْنِ أَوْ ثَلاَثًا - حَتَّى إِنَّ بَعْضَهُمْ لَيَكَادُ أَنْ يَنْقَلِبَ. فَيَقُولُ هَلْ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُ آيَةٌ فَتَعْرِفُونَهُ بِهَا فَيَقُولُونَ نَعَمْ. فَيُكْشَفُ عَنْ سَاقٍ فَلاَ يَبْقَى مَنْ كَانَ يَسْجُدُ لِلَّهِ مِنْ تِلْقَاءِ نَفْسِهِ إِلاَّ أَذِنَ اللَّهُ لَهُ بِالسُّجُودِ وَلاَ يَبْقَى مَنْ كَانَ يَسْجُدُ اتِّقَاءً وَرِيَاءً إِلاَّ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ ظَهْرَهُ طَبَقَةً وَاحِدَةً كُلَّمَا أَرَادَ أَنْ يَسْجُدَ خَرَّ عَلَى قَفَاهُ. ثُمَّ يَرْفَعُونَ رُءُوسَهُمْ وَقَدْ تَحَوَّلَ فِى صُورَتِهِ الَّتِى رَأَوْهُ فِيهَا أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ فَقَالَ أَنَا رَبُّكُمْ. فَيَقُولُونَ أَنْتَ رَبُّنَا. ثُمَّ يُضْرَبُ الْجِسْرُ عَلَى جَهَنَّمَ وَتَحِلُّ الشَّفَاعَةُ وَيَقُولُونَ اللَّهُمَّ سَلِّمْ سَلِّمْ ». قِيلَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَمَا الْجِسْرُ قَالَ « دَحْضٌ مَزِلَّةٌ. فِيهِ خَطَاطِيفُ وَكَلاَلِيبُ وَحَسَكٌ تَكُونُ بِنَجْدٍ فِيهَا شُوَيْكَةٌ يُقَالُ لَهَا السَّعْدَانُ فَيَمُرُّ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ كَطَرْفِ الْعَيْنِ وَكَالْبَرْقِ وَكَالرِّيحِ وَكَالطَّيْرِ وَكَأَجَاوِيدِ الْخَيْلِ وَالرِّكَابِ فَنَاجٍ مُسَلَّمٌ وَمَخْدُوشٌ مُرْسَلٌ وَمَكْدُوسٌ فِى نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ. حَتَّى إِذَا خَلَصَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ مِنَ النَّارِ فَوَالَّذِى نَفْسِى بِيَدِهِ مَا مِنْكُمْ مِنْ أَحَدٍ بِأَشَدَّ مُنَاشَدَةً لِلَّهِ فِى اسْتِقْصَاءِ الْحَقِّ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ لِلَّهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ لإِخْوَانِهِمُ الَّذِينَ فِى النَّارِ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا كَانُوا يَصُومُونَ مَعَنَا وَيُصَلُّونَ وَيَحُجُّونَ. فَيُقَالُ لَهُمْ أَخْرِجُوا مَنْ عَرَفْتُمْ. فَتُحَرَّمُ صُوَرُهُمْ عَلَى النَّارِ فَيُخْرِجُونَ خَلْقًا كَثيرًا قَدْ أَخَذَتِ النَّارُ إِلَى نِصْفِ سَاقَيْهِ وَإِلَى رُكْبَتَيْهِ ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا مَا بَقِىَ فِيهَا أَحَدٌ مِمَّنْ أَمَرْتَنَا بِهِ. فَيَقُولُ ارْجِعُوا فَمَنْ وَجَدْتُمْ فِى قَلْبِهِ مِثْقَالَ دِينَارٍ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَأَخْرِجُوهُ. فَيُخْرِجُونَ خَلْقًا كَثِيرًا ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا لَمْ نَذَرْ فِيهَا أَحَدًا مِمَّنْ أَمَرْتَنَا. ثُمَّ يَقُولُ ارْجِعُوا فَمَنْ وَجَدْتُمْ فِى قَلْبِهِ مِثْقَالَ نِصْفِ دِينَارٍ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَأَخْرِجُوهُ. فَيُخْرِجُونَ خَلْقًا كَثِيرًا ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا لَمْ نَذَرْ فِيهَا مِمَّنْ أَمَرْتَنَا أَحَدًا. ثُمَّ يَقُولُ ارْجِعُوا فَمَنْ وَجَدْتُمْ فِى قَلْبِهِ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَأَخْرِجُوهُ. فَيُخْرِجُونَ خَلْقًا كَثِيرًا ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا لَمْ نَذَرْ فِيهَا خَيْرًا ». وَكَانَ أَبُو سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِىُّ يَقُولُ إِنْ لَمْ تُصَدِّقُونِى بِهَذَا الْحَدِيثِ فَاقْرَءُوا إِنْ شِئْتُمْ (إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَظْلِمُ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ وَإِنْ تَكُ حَسَنَةً يُضَاعِفْهَا وَيُؤْتِ مِنْ لَدُنْهُ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا) « فَيَقُولُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ شَفَعَتِ الْمَلاَئِكَةُ وَشَفَعَ النَّبِيُّونَ وَشَفَعَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَلَمْ يَبْقَ إِلاَّ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ فَيَقْبِضُ قَبْضَةً مِنَ النَّارِ فَيُخْرِجُ مِنْهَا قَوْمًا لَمْ يَعْمَلُوا خَيْرًا قَطُّ قَدْ عَادُوا حُمَمًا فَيُلْقِيهِمْ فِى نَهْرٍ فِى أَفْوَاهِ الْجَنَّةِ يُقَالُ لَهُ نَهْرُ الْحَيَاةِ فَيَخْرُجُونَ كَمَا تَخْرُجُ الْحِبَّةُ فِى حَمِيلِ السَّيْلِ أَلاَ تَرَوْنَهَا تَكُونُ إِلَى الْحَجَرِ أَوْ إِلَى الشَّجَرِ مَا يَكُونُ إِلَى الشَّمْسِ أُصَيْفِرُ وَأُخَيْضِرُ وَمَا يَكُونُ مِنْهَا إِلَى الظِّلِّ يَكُونُ أَبْيَضَ ». فَقَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ كَأَنَّكَ كُنْتَ تَرْعَى بِالْبَادِيَةِ قَالَ « فَيَخْرُجُونَ كَاللُّؤْلُؤِ فِى رِقَابِهِمُ الْخَوَاتِمُ يَعْرِفُهُمْ أَهْلُ الْجَنَّةِ هَؤُلاَءِ عُتَقَاءُ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ أَدْخَلَهُمُ اللَّهُ الْجَنَّةَ بِغَيْرِ عَمَلٍ عَمِلُوهُ وَلاَ خَيْرٍ قَدَّمُوهُ ثُمَّ يَقُولُ ادْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ فَمَا رَأَيْتُمُوهُ فَهُوَ لَكُمْ.
    فَيَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا أَعْطَيْتَنَا مَا لَمْ تُعْطِ أَحَدًا مِنَ الْعَالَمِينَ. فَيَقُولُ لَكُمْ عِنْدِى أَفْضَلُ مِنْ هَذَا فَيَقُولُونَ يَا رَبَّنَا أَىُّ شَىْءٍ أَفْضَلُ مِنْ هَذَا. فَيَقُولُ رِضَاىَ فَلاَ أَسْخَطُ عَلَيْكُمْ بَعْدَهُ أَبَدًا ». (صحيح مسلم)
    On the authority of Abu Sa`id al-Khudri, the Prophet was asked, “Messenger of Allah, shall we be able to see our Lord on the Day of Judgment?” He answered, “Very much so.” Then he added, “Do you doubt sighting the sun at noon in a clear sky? Do you doubt seeing the full moon in a cloudless sky?” They said no. He said, “You will not doubt seeing Allah on the Day of Judgment any more than you doubt seeing one of the two (mentioned above).
    A caller will call on the Day of Judgment, ‘Let every people follow that which they were worshipping.’ No one will be left of those who worshipped other than Allah of the worshippers of idols and graven images but they would fall upon each other into the Fire (following their deities leading them), until none is left but those who worshipped Allah alone comprising of the pious and the impious. The People of the Book will be left too.
    The Jews will be asked, ‘Who is it that you were worshipping?’ They will reply, ‘We were worshipping `Uzayr, the son of God.’ They will be told, ‘You have lied. Allah did not take a spouse, nor a son. In any case, what is it that you want now?’ They will say, ‘We are thirsty Our lord. Give us a drink.’ They will be pointed (to a drink and told), will you not go to that source of drink?’ They will be gathered together near a Fire that will appear as a mirage, waves upon waves. They will fall into the Fire one upon another.
    Then the Christians will be called and asked, ‘Who is it that you were worshipping?’ They will reply, ‘We were worshipping Jesus Christ, the son of God.’ They will be told, ‘You have lied. Allah did not take a spouse, nor a son. In any case, what is it that you want now?’ They will say, ‘We are thirsty our Lord. Give us a drink.’ They will be pointed (to a drink and told), will you not go to that source of drink?’ They will be gathered together near a Fire that will appear as a mirage, waves upon waves. They will fall into the Fire one upon another.
    When none is left but those who had been worshipping Allah alone, the pious and the impious, the Lord of the worlds, the Blessed, the Exalted, will appear in a form other than the form in which they had known Him. He will ask, ‘What are you waiting for? Let every nation follow what it worshipped.’ They will reply, ‘Our Lord. We parted company with those in the world at a time we needed their company most, yet never took their company.’ He will say, ‘I am your Lord.’ They will answer, ‘Allah’s refuge from you. We shall not associate aught with Allah’ – twice or thrice, until some of them would be close to turning back. He will ask, ‘Is there a sign between you and Him by which you could recognize Him?’ They will answer, ‘Yes.’ At that point the shank will be bared. Then none will remain who had prostrated himself to Allah by his free will, but will be allowed prostration; and none will remain who prostrated to show off, or in hypocrisy, but Allah will transform his back into a single plate. Every time he wishes to prostrate, he would fall backward. Then they will raise their heads. In the meanwhile, He would have changed to the form in which they saw Him the first time and will say, ‘I am your Lord.’ They will say, ‘Yes, You are our Lord.’
    Then the Bridge will be laid on Jahannum, intercession will be allowed, and people will say, ‘O Allah, save (us), save (us).’ The Companions asked, ‘Messenger of Allah, what is the Bridge?’ He replied, ‘A slippery (thing) on which are spikes, snatchers, pincers, and tough thorny thistle (plant) of the type that grows in Najd known there as Sa`dan. The believers will cross it in the blink of an eye, like lightning, like the wind, like the birds, like fast horses, like the mounted ones. Thus, (there would be the) escapee unhurt, the spiked but who crossed, and the one pushed into the Fire of Jahannum.
    When the believers have escaped the Fire, then, by Him in whose hands is my life, none of you will be less than any other believer in seeking to release their brothers from the Fire. They will say, ‘O our Lord. They used to fast with us, offer Prayers, and perform Hajj!’ They will be told, ‘Take out those you know.’ Their faces will be prohibited to the Fire, so they will remove many of such people whom the Fire would have eaten up to half of their calves, or their knees. They will say, ‘O Lord, none is left as described by You.’ He will say, ‘Return and bring out any one with any good of the weight of a Dinar in his heart.’ So they will remove a huge number of creation and say, ‘O Lord, we have left none there whom You described us.’ He will say, ‘Return and whomsoever you find who has an atom-weight of good in him – remove him.’ So they will remove a lot of creation and say, ‘Our Lord, we have left none who had any good in him.’
    At this point Abu Sa`id al-Khudri used to say, ‘Read if you feel like, Allah’s words (4: 40), “Surely, Allah does not wrong (anyone) even so much as by an atom. Rather, if there were to be a good (deed) He shall double it up and shall bestow from Himself a great reward.”
    Allah will say, ‘Angels, prophets and believers have interceded, and none is left but the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.’ Then He will scoop out a handful and bring out a people who never did any good, ever. They would have become charcoals. He will dip them in the springs at the entrances to Paradise, called the Spring of Life. They will start growing like the grain grows in the passages of the floods; you might have seen them by the side of a stone or a tree, that which faces the sun yellowish green, while that which is in the shade is whitish.’ (They remarked, ‘Messenger of Allah, as if you were brought up in the deserts’). He continued, ‘So, they will emerge as if they are pearls, with rings in their necks. The dwellers of Paradise will know them as Allah’s freed ones whom Allah admitted into Paradise without they ever attempting any virtue, nor sending forward any good.’
    He will tell them, ‘Enter Paradise, and whatever you can see there, is yours.’ They will say, ‘Our Lord. You have given us what You have not given anyone else in the worlds.’ He will say, ‘I have for you something better than this.’ They will ask, ‘Our Lord, what can be better than this?’ He will answer, ‘My rida (approval). I shall never be angry with you anytime again.’

    Our Prophet will enjoy the Great Intercession (see Surah al-Isra’ note 133 for the concerned hadith). Here are two ahadith in reference to our Prophet’s intercession.

    عَنْ .. أَنَسًا - رضى الله عنه - قَالَ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِىَّ - صلى الله عليه وسلم - يَقُولُ « إِذَا كَانَ يَوْمُ الْقِيَامَةِ شُفِّعْتُ ، فَقُلْتُ يَا رَبِّ أَدْخِلِ الْجَنَّةَ مَنْ كَانَ فِى قَلْبِهِ خَرْدَلَةٌ . فَيَدْخُلُونَ ، ثُمَّ أَقُولُ أَدْخِلِ الْجَنَّةَ مَنْ كَانَ فِى قَلْبِهِ أَدْنَى شَىْءٍ » . (البخاري)

    Anas says he heard the Prophet say, "I shall intercede and say, 'My Lord. Admit into Paradise any one who has a grain of (of faith).' So, they will be admitted. Then I will say, '(My Lord). Admit into Paradise any one who has the littlest (of faith) in his heart" (Bukhari).

    عَنْ أَنَسٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- شَفَاعَتِى لأَهْلِ الْكَبَائِرِ مِنْ أُمَّتِى (صحيح - سنن الترمذى)

    Anas reported the Prophet as having said, "My intercession will be for those who committed major sins."
    Here is a hadith pertaining to Ibrahim’s intercession (peace upon him):

    عَنْ حُذَيْفَةَ ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ، قَالَ : يَقُولُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ : يَا رَبَّاهُ ، فَيَقُولُ الرَّبُّ جَلَّ وَعَلاَ : يَا لَبَّيْكَاهُ ، فَيَقُولُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ : يَا رَبِّ حَرَّقْتَ بَنِيَّ ، فَيَقُولُ : أَخْرِجُوا مِنَ النَّارِ مَنْ كَانَ فِي قَلْبِهِ ذَرَّةٌ أَوْ شَعِيرَةٌ مِنْ إِيمَانٍ. (صحيح ابن حبان)

    Hudhayfa reports the Prophet, “Ibrahim (asws) will say on the Day of Judgment, ‘My Lord.’ The Lord the Most High will answer, ‘Here I am.’ Ibrahim will say, ‘My Lord. You have burned my progeny.’ He will order, ‘Bring out of the Fire every one who has the littlest of faith in his heart.’”
    Martyrs will also intercede:

    المقدام بن معدي كرب - رضي الله عنه - أن رسولَ الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قال : «لِلشَّهيد عندَ الله ستُّ خِصال : يَغْفِرُ الله له في أول دُفْعَة ، ويُرَى مَقْعَده من الجنة ، ويُجارُ من عذاب القبر ، ويأمَنُ مِنَ الفزَعِ الأكبر ويُوضَعُ على رأسه تاج الوقار، الياقُوتةُ منه خير من الدنيا وما فيها ، ويزوَّج ثنتين وسبعين زوجة من الحور العين ، ويُشفَّع في سبعين من أقاربه». أخرجه الترمذي.[ إسناده صحيح]

    Miqdam b. Ma`di Karab (ra) reported the Prophet as having said, "The martyr enjoys six advantages: Allah forgives him in the very first instance (of martyrdom); he is shown his place in Paradise and is rescued from punishment in the grave; he will be in peace at the time of the Great Terror (when the Trumpet is blown); a crown of Reverence will be placed on his head, whose pearl will be better than the world and what it contains; he will be paired with seventy wide, black eyed spouses; and he will intercede for seventy of his kinsfolk."
    Renowned individuals will also be allowed to intercede. We have a hadith in this connection. The Prophet said,

    « يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ بِشَفَاعَةِ رَجُلٍ مِنْ أُمَّتِى أَكْثَرُ مِنْ بَنِى تَمِيمٍ ». قِيلَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ سِوَاكَ قَالَ « سِوَاىَ ». قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى (الترمذى) هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ غَرِيبٌ

    “By the intercession of a person of my Ummah, more people will enter Paradise than the population of Banu Tameem.” He was asked, “(Will he be) other than you?” He answered, “Other than me.”
    Those will be allowed to intercede whose Hajj was accepted:

    فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى .. فَيُبَاهِي بِكُمُ الْمَلائِكَةَ (يوم العرفة و) ، يَقُولُ: عِبَادِي جَاءُونِي شُعْثًا مِنْ كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ يَرْجُونَ جَنَّتِي ، (وفيه) أَفِيضُوا عِبَادِي مَغْفُورًا لَكُمْ وَلِمَنْ شَفَعْتُمْ لَهُ .. وقال الهيثمي في "المجمع": رواه البزار ورجاله موثقون.

    It is reported in connection with Hajj that Allah says on the day of `Arafah, "My slaves have come from every deep ravine hoping for My Paradise .. scatter now My slaves, forgiven, and whoever you intercede for …"
    The Qur’an will also intercede, especially Surah al-Baqarah and Aal-`Imran:

    أَبُو أُمَامَةَ الْبَاهِلِىُّ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- يَقُولُ « اقْرَءُوا الْقُرْآنَ فَإِنَّهُ يَأْتِى يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ شَفِيعًا لأَصْحَابِهِ اقْرَءُوا الزَّهْرَاوَيْنِ الْبَقَرَةَ وَسُورَةَ آلِ عِمْرَانَ فَإِنَّهُمَا تَأْتِيَانِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كَأَنَّهُمَا غَمَامَتَانِ أَوْ كَأَنَّهُمَا غَيَايَتَانِ أَوْ كَأَنَّهُمَا فِرْقَانِ مِنْ طَيْرٍ صَوَافَّ تُحَاجَّانِ عَنْ أَصْحَابِهِمَا اقْرَءُوا سُورَةَ الْبَقَرَةِ فَإِنَّ أَخْذَهَا بَرَكَةٌ وَتَرْكَهَا حَسْرَةٌ وَلاَ تَسْتَطِيعُهَا الْبَطَلَةُ ». قَالَ مُعَاوِيَةُ بَلَغَنِى أَنَّ الْبَطَلَةَ السَّحَرَةُ. (صحيح مسلم)

    Abu Umama al-Bahili reported the Prophet as having said, "Recite the Qur'an because it is going to appear on the Judgment Day as an intercessor for those who recite it. Read the two roses: Al-Baqarah and Aal-`Imran, for they will appear on the Judgment Day as clouds or as two flight of birds with outspread wings, arguing in favor of those who recited them. Recite surah al-Baqarah for holding on to it is a source of barakah, ignoring which is a matter of remorse, and the magicians have no power over it."
    Muslim children who died before attaining puberty will also intercede for their parents:

    عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَا مِنْ مُسْلِمَيْنِ يَمُوتُ لَهُمَا ثَلَاثَةُ أَوْلَادٍ لَمْ يَبْلُغُوا الْحِنْثَ إِلَّا أَدْخَلَهُمَا اللَّهُ وَإِيَّاهُمْ بِفَضْلِ رَحْمَتِهِ الْجَنَّةَ وَقَالَ يُقَالُ لَهُمْ ادْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ قَالَ فَيَقُولُونَ حَتَّى يَجِيءَ أَبَوَانَا قَالَ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ فَيَقُولُونَ مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ فَيُقَالُ لَهُمْ ادْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ أَنْتُمْ وَأَبَوَاكُمْ - مسند أحمد بن حنبل، تعليق شعيب الأرنؤوط : إسناده صحيح على شرط الشيخين

    On Abu Hurayrah's authority, the Prophet said, "There are no two Muslims (parents) whose three sons die before maturity but they will admit them and the two into Paradise by His grace. They will be told, 'Enter the Paradise.' They will say, "(Not) until our parents arrive.' They will be told that three times, with they replying in the same manner, until they are told, 'Enter the Paradise, you and your parents.'"
    Here is another of the above class and a beautiful one:

    عَنْ مُعَاوِيَةَ بْنِ قُرَّةَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ أَنَّ رَجُلًا كَانَ يَأْتِي النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَمَعَهُ ابْنٌ لَهُ فَقَالَ لَهُ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَتُحِبُّهُ فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَحَبَّكَ اللَّهُ كَمَا أُحِبُّهُ فَفَقَدَهُ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ لِي مَا فَعَلَ ابْنُ فُلَانٍ قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ مَاتَ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لِأَبِيهِ أَمَا تُحِبُّ أَنْ لَا تَأْتِيَ بَابًا مِنْ أَبْوَابِ الْجَنَّةِ إِلَّا وَجَدْتَهُ يَنْتَظِرُكَ فَقَالَ الرَّجُلُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَلَهُ خَاصَّةً أَمْ لِكُلِّنَا قَالَ بَلْ لِكُلِّكُمْ - مسند أحمد بن حنبل - تعليق شعيب الأرنؤوط : إسناده صحيح

    Mu`awiyyah b. Qurrah reports his father that a man used to come to the Prophet along with his son. On one occasion the Prophet asked him, "Do you love your son?" He replied, "Messenger of Allah, may Allah love you the way I love him." Then the Prophet missed him after a while and so asked, "Whatever happened to the son of so and so?" They said, "Messenger of Allah he died." He told his father (when he came), "Do you not approve of it that you do not arrive at any door to Paradise but you find him waiting for you there?" The man asked, "Messenger of Allah, is it especially for me, or common to all?" He replied, "Common to you all."
    However, certain class of believers will not be allowed to intercede:

    عَنْ أَبِى الدَّرْدَاءِ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- يَقُولُ « إِنَّ اللَّعَّانِينَ لاَ يَكُونُونَ شُهَدَاءَ وَلاَ شُفَعَاءَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ». (صحيح مسلم)

    Abu Darda' said that he heard the Prophet say, "Those who curse a lot will never be of the witnesses on Judgment Day nor will they be intercessors.”

    فَمَا لَهُمْ عَنِ التَّذْكِرَةِ مُعْرِضِينَ (49)

    74|49| So, what is the matter with them that they turn away from the admonition?

    كَأَنَّهُمْ حُمُرٌ مُسْتَنْفِرَةٌ (50)

    74|50| As if they are affrighted donkeys.

    فَرَّتْ مِنْ قَسْوَرَةٍ (51)

    74|51| Fleeing from a lion.35

    35. Although a few scholars have explained “qaswarah” as archers, or hunters, Abu Hurayrah and others said that the allusion is to lions (Ibn Jarir).
    Since there were no forests in Arabia, nor the Arabs ever went to Africa to hunt, it might be assumed with fair amount of accuracy that the allusion is to donkeys wildly fleeing a lion, a sight not visible to man until photography was developed. This is but a beautiful description of donkeys fleeing away from the Prophet, then, as even now into later times. It is also a proof of his authenticity since neither he nor any of the Arabs could have witnessed a pack of donkeys fleeing a lion (Au.).

    بَلْ يُرِيدُ كُلُّ امْرِئٍ مِنْهُمْ أَنْ يُؤْتَىٰ صُحُفًا مُنَشَّرَةً (52)

    74|52| But rather, every man of them desires to be given scrolls unrolled.36

    36. That is, each one of the Quraysh chieftains demanded that if the Prophet was truly addressed, they too should be addressed, individually, confirming that he was indeed a Messenger, and that they too have been forgiven their sins, if any, inscribed in a parchment, to be discovered under their pillows, one fine morning; the parchment so fresh from heaven, and so raw, as not even rolled (Alusi).

    كَلَّا ۖ بَلْ لَا يَخَافُونَ الْآخِرَةَ (53)

    74|53| Nay, but rather, they fear not the Hereafter.

    كَلَّا إِنَّهُ تَذْكِرَةٌ (54)

    74|54| Nay, this surely is an exhortation.37

    37. That is, this Qur’an (Ibn Jarir).

    فَمَنْ شَاءَ ذَكَرَهُ (55)

    74|55| So, whosoever wished, may remember it.

    وَمَا يَذْكُرُونَ إِلَّا أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ ۚ هُوَ أَهْلُ التَّقْوَىٰ وَأَهْلُ الْمَغْفِرَةِ (56)

    74|56| But, they will not remember, except that Allah should will.38 He is worthy of fear, Lord of forgiveness.39

    38. None has the power to do anything of his choice, except that Allah should allow him first. It is He who confers the power to man to do what he wills, before he can successfully accomplishes it (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, and others); and the word dhikr as used here, is for Divine inducement (tawfiq) which is granted by Allah to him who deserves it, for the hearts are between the two Fingers of the All-merciful, He turns them as He will. When He knows of the sincerity of a slave, He turns him to obedience. Of course, the slave himself does not know what Allah has willed for him. This is of the Unseen, which remains invisible to him (throughout his life). But he knows what is it that his Lord requires of him. This is something that has been made clear to him. When pure intentions are adopted by the heart, intending to do what Allah has made incumbent on the individual, Allah helps the individual and guides him in accordance with His unrestricted will (Sayyid).
    We might add the following verses (4: 78-79) which explain very well the subject:

    {وَإِنْ تُصِبْهُمْ حَسَنَةٌ يَقُولُوا هَذِهِ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ وَإِنْ تُصِبْهُمْ سَيِّئَةٌ يَقُولُوا هَذِهِ مِنْ عِنْدِكَ قُلْ كُلٌّ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ فَمَالِ هَؤُلَاءِ الْقَوْمِ لَا يَكَادُونَ يَفْقَهُونَ حَدِيثًا (78) مَا أَصَابَكَ مِنْ حَسَنَةٍ فَمِنَ اللَّهِ وَمَا أَصَابَكَ مِنْ سَيِّئَةٍ فَمِنْ نَفْسِكَ [النساء: 78، 79]

    "If a good thing happens to them, they say, ‘This is from Allah.’ But when an evil befalls them they say, ‘This is from you (O Muhammad). Tell them, ‘Everything is from Allah.’ What then is the matter with these people that they come nowhere near to understanding the discourse? Whatever good happens to you, it is from Allah. And whatever evil befalls you, it is from your own self" – (Au.).
    Another possible meaning is that the decision of the Makkan unbelievers not to believe is so firm that nothing will make them believe except that Allah Himself should force them to it (Zamakhshari).
    39. Ibn `Ahsur offers a nice poetical stanza here which he says he took from Kashshaf. It says:

    أَلا يَا ارْحَمُونِي يَا إله مُحَمَّد
    فإن لم أكُنْ أهْلاً فأنت له أهل

    Lo! Show me mercy O the Lord of Muhammad
    If I am not deserving of it, You are deserving of (exercising) it.