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Surah Balad’s Connection with the Previous Surah (Fajr):
Allah says in the first ayah of this surah;
لَا أُقْسِمُ بِهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ
Laa (No!) I swear by the sacred city (Makkah).
1 – When you go to Makkah, the first feeling you get when you go there is the feeling of tranquility (mutma’innah) and your trouble’s disappearing.
The last ayah of the previous Surah [Fajr] was; يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ – Oh you tranquil soul (mutma’innah).
So Allah starts this surah with mentioning the most tranquil of places on Earth – the city of Makkah.
2 – He also says in the previous Surah; ارْجِعِي إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً – Irji’ee il-laa Rabbika Raaddiyatan marddiyah (return to your Lord, pleased and well pleased with).
This is the same when people go to Allah in Hajj and ‘Umrah.
Even the clothes we wear in Hajj and ‘Umrah signify returning to Allah in death, since the two white cloths we wear are similar to the two white cloths we wear when being buried.
RaaDiyah – Pleased – they are satisfied, when they see the house of Allah. And when they have completed their Hajj.
MarDiyah – well pleased with. If Allah is pleased with your Hajj, part of the pleasure is that your sins will be forgiven.
3 – فَادْخُلِي فِي عِبَادِي – Fadkhulee fee ‘ibadee (enter amongst My slaves) – In Hajj / ‘Umrah – you enter amongst the slaves of Allah who are also striving to earn His pleasure.
4 – وَادْخُلِي جَنَّتِي – wadkhulee jannatee (enter My garden/paradise) – The closest thing to Paradise in this world is the Haramain (the 2 Holy Mosques of Makkah and Medinah.) And there is a location there called Rawd al Jannah/Garden of Paradise.
The above beautiful lessons of the previous surahs are reminded in this surah.
5 – al Bica’i: In surah at-Teen 95:3;وَهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ الْأَمِينِwa hadhal balad al ameen (this Peaceful/Entrusted city).
The safety of the city of Makkah is highlighted there, but it is not mentioned in this surah because this surah has a Theme of Conflict occurring by the disbelievers against Allah’s Messenger and his companions.
Oaths can have different Prefixes. I.e.;
Wa (ie. Wa-shams – [I swear] And the sun)
Bi (i.e. Billahi – [I swear] By Allah/God)
The word Uqsimu [‘oath’] can also be used. I.e. I Uqsimu [oath/swear] by…
لَا أُقْسِمُ بِهَٰذَا الْ بَلَد
Laa oqsimu bihadha al balad
No, I swear by this city, [Makkah]
UQsimu = I Swear (qasm)…
But Allah never says Uqsimu alone, He only says; La Uqsimu (No! I swear..)
So why is La used?
It is not used in the literal sense – this is the opinion of the majority of scholars. (Otherwise it would not make sense to say; I do NOT swear by this city).
1 – “I do NOT [La] swear by this city”
Someone who held the opinion that it does was:
Mufti Thanaullah Uthmani Panipati, in his Tafseer Madh-hari: This statement which I am going to say is so powerful, that I do not even need to swear by this City.
The majority opinion and the stronger opinion is;
2 – The La signifies a counter argument.
Allah is about to say No to something, to something which the disbelievers believe on the contrary.
So Allah is rejecting and silencing all their false beliefs by just saying La! No! Then He will tell what is the reality in the upcoming aayaat/verses.
This is common useage in most languages. (i.e. No no no, let me tell you.)
3 – Negation of Falsehood:
Allah is saying La (No) to negate all the negative characteristics and thoughts mentioned in the previous Surah. (I.e. When man thinks bad thoughts about Allah, if Allah limits his rizq [provisions] etc.)
بِهَٰذَا الْ بَلَدِ
..bi haadha al balad:
by this city
Allah has mentioned in the previous surah; [Fajr 89:11] الَّذِينَ طَغَوْا فِي الْبِلَادِ‘aladhee taghaw fil bilaad’ – those who rebelled in the cities.
The nations that caused corruption and rebelled in the cities – they were destroyed. So relate yourself to them – if you do the same as them – you will face a similar end like them.
By Swearing/doing an Oath by something, Allah has;
1 – Elevated and honored this city.
2 – Got the attention of the people.
The Response to the Oath [Jawab al Qasm] – which will discuss Man being created in hardship – will have some form of relationship to the original Oath (of Allah swearing by this City)
We will see how they are related later in the Tafseer insha’ Allah [God willing].
وَأَنتَ حِلٌّ بِهَٰذَا الْ بَلَدِ
Wa anta hillun bihadha al balad
And you, [O Muhammad], are Hil/Permitted in this city –
al Bica’i: The oath began with the chief of all cities, and then the leader of all the slaves of Allah (Prophet Muhammad [sal Allah alayhi wasalam/peace and blessings of Allah upon him]).
And you are Hil in this city.
Opinion 1 – The Disbelievers want to Kill you [O Messenger of Allah]:
Variations in the word Hil include;
mustaHal – you (O Muhammad) have become permissible in this city.
The Sacredness of Makkah:
The city of Makkah is a Sacred sanctuary – which even the polytheists recognised [due to the sacredness of the city being passed on through the teachings of their forefather Prophet Ibraheem/Abraham]. So they would not even kill an animal in that city (of Makkah) out of its sacredness. If they needed to hunt – they would leave the city and hunt outside it.
Allah is telling His Messenger that the polytheists are soon making you permissible in this city. They are wanting to harm you – even though this is a sacred city.
A time is coming when they will make it Halal (permissible) to kill you, even though they recognise that it is Haraam (forbidden) to kill anyone in this city.
The Breaking of Ethical Principles exclusively against Muslims:
This shows that the forces of disbelief against the forces of belief have certain ethics / principles / laws which they take pride in [طَرِيقَتِكُمُ الْمُثْلَىٰ tareeqatukum ul muthlaa– Exemplary way – Taha 20:63]. But when it comes to the Muslims’ and Messengers’ of Allah, these disbelieving forces are willing to break their own ethical standards and rules which they take pride in – they are willing to break them against Islam.
– So when there is a rule of ‘all equal before the law’ – when it becomes a challenge against the Muslims, they are portrayed as evil ones so that the people do not percieve them as humans who should be equal in the sight of the law.
– Similarly, in the time of the Pharoahs’. The family of the Pharoah was not allowed to be harmed by anyone, but Moses/Musa and the wife of Pharoah – ‘Aasiya were harmed and fought against and tortured – so that they would leave their religion.
– Similarly, The Arabs would attack anyone in the world, but they would not attack their own tribe. However, Allah’s Messenger was harmed by his own tribes people (of Quraysh) – with his main offenders being his own uncles (Abu Lahab etc.)
We learn that; When we stand up for this religion of Allah and for Justice – we will face opposition, Allah is mentally preparing us for that opposition. So even by the standards of those who oppose us, they will break their own standards in opposition to those who believe. This is the history of ALL the Prophets’ before us. Because the true believers are calling against injustice, and these leaders fear to lose their authority. So the people will try to eliminate them by any means possible.
The 2nd opinion of Hil – Conquest of Makkah;
Something has been exclusively permissible (Hil/Halal) for you (O Muhammad), which was not made permissible to anyone before you.
This implies that on the Conquest of Makkah, Allah allowed His Messenger to punish certain war criminals within the sacred city of Makkah. This was not allowed to anyone before him.
عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال: [إن الله حرم مكة يوم خلق السموات والأرض،
فهي حرام إلى أن تقوم الساعة، فلم تحل لأحد قبلي، ولا تحل لأحد بعدي، ولم تحل لي إلا
ساعة من نهار
Surely Allah made Makkah Sacred/haram the day He created the skies and the Earth, and it will remain Holy/sacred until the establishment of the final Hour. It was not made permissible (Hil) to anyone before me or to anyone after me, and it was not made permissible to me except for an hour in a day.
The day being referred to is the Day of Fat-h al Makkah (the Opening/Conquest of Makkah).
By consensus this is a Makki surah (revealed in Makkah). And we know that Allah’s Messenger had no power in Makkah. So we realise that Allah is promising a future victory to His Messenger by saying for certain – that this city will be made halal/permissible for him (to punish the war criminals).
Qatadah, Hasan al Basri held this view.
The believers’ conflict is being shown through one word (Hil), and the believers’ upcoming victory is also being guaranteed through the same one word (Hil).
3rd Opinion – Your Future Return to this City [O Muhammad]:
Hil also means Arriving or Descending. (since some Arabs would descend from mountains and arriveand settle at Makkah)
The Arabs would say; I’m going toHil in this city = I am going to arrive and stay permanently in this city.
So Allah is telling His Messenger that you are in this city, and you are going to remain firm in this city.
So even when they expel you from this city (O Muhammad) – you will arrive again to this city, and rule over it. This is another guarantee of a future victory by Allah to His Messenger.
4 – Allah’s Messenger honored the Sacred City of Makkah with his Presence:
Literally Hil comes from – Hal-la = to untie.
The Du’a (prayer) of Prophet Musa/Moses was; وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِّن لِّسَانِي – waHLul ‘uqda tamil-lisaani (and Untie the knot in my tongue) [Taha 20:27]
When a traveller descends from a Mountain into a city – he unpacks (Hil) his bags.
Allah’s Messenger descended from the Mount Hira with guidance (revelation/wahy) from Allah, and he descended to the city of Makkah.
So Allah honored this city twice in these 2 aayaat:
Ayah 1 – Allah swears by this city = an honor for it.
Ayah 2 – Allah honors the city by mentioning that Allah’s Messenger has descended in it with a message from Allah. So Allah has honored this city (of Makkah) – that a man from that town has recieved a message from Allah, and has descended in the city to convey the message to its people.
ما أوذي أحد مثل ما أوذيت في الله
No-one has been tortured/annoyed/hurt for the sake of Allah the way I have been tortured. [Mentioned in Tafseer ibn Katheer, and by Abu Na’eem. Classed as Hasan/Good by al-Albani].
Conclusion of Hil
Hil has alot of heavy context implying constant struggle. Thetranquility (muttma’aan) mentioned at the end of Surah Fajr will only be achieved through this struggle facedfor the sake of Allah in this life.
وَوَالِدٍ وَمَا وَلَدَ
Wa waalidin wa maa walad
And [by] the father and that which was born [to him],
And by the father and what he gave birth to.
Maa – What.
Maa – also for ta’ajjub [amazement] – what an Amazing son he fathered.
Some say it refers to Adam, and others had a stronger view who said Ibraheem/Abraham and his amazing son Isma’eel/Ishmael, through which Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah descended (sal Allah alayhi wasalam).
This is the stronger view because the city mentioned at the beginning was ‘this city’ [Makkah], and Isma’il was the first male in this city of Makkah.. (with his mother Hajar), and
through his descendants came the amazing son Muhammad, the final Messenger of Allah.
The reason why it can be any of these in the Oath is because there is no ‘AL‘ [the] mentioned before walid and walad. So it is general in meaning and not specific.
By mentioning Walid [father] – the arabs would think of Ibraheem/Abraham – their forefather.
Prophet Ibraheem, Musa, and ‘Eesa were the 3 main Messengers’ mentioned in the Makkan era. This is because the 3 main groups listening to the Qur’an were the;
– Arabs who claimed to follow Ibraheem/Abraham.
– Jews who claimed to follow Musa/Moses.
– Christians who claimed to follow ‘Eesa/Jesus.
By referring to the Walid – Allah makes the Arabs remember their forefather (Ibraheem) who made this city. He was the one who requested Allah;
رَبَّنَا وَابْعَثْ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ ۚ إِنَّكَ
أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِي
Our Lord, and send among them a messenger from themselves who will recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book and wisdom and purify them. Indeed, You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” [Baqarah 2:129]
..wa maa walad – and what he gave birth to.
includes Prophet Muhammad, it also includes the rest of the descendants of Prophet Isma’il bin [son of] Prophet Ibraheem.
Allah is showing the amazement of the Messenger of Allah who is staying true to the message of his father Ibraheem, and the rest of the polytheists who claim to follow their misguided forefathers, but they are not staying true to the religion of their true forefather – Ibraheem himself.
Allah is showing amazement at the polytheist Arabs who are intending to kill the Messenger of Allah – who is simply calling to the religion of their father Ibraheem.
How could they do such an evil thing?
What do these Oaths lead to? The oath’s need a response. This response is the central message of the Surah.
لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي كَبَدٍ
la qad khalaqna al insana fee kabad
We have certainly created man into hardship.
kabad – intense, laboursome, difficult, toil which is overwhelming you from all sides. An exhausting / endless / laboursome struggle.
The human has been created in intense struggle.
Mufti Muhammad Shafee‘: Humans are never free from worry. The richest one is worried about their relationship with their family members, and it might not be worrying to you – but it is extremely worrying to them.
The worries in the world are contrasting and scaled in many ways. Some people might be worried that they will be tortured in the next few minutes like many Muslims in the secret prisons, whereas another worries about why their carpet and curtains do not match.
Each person has their own form of enormous struggle.
There are 2 paths discussed in this surah;
– Allah’s path.
– a path which distances from Allah.
Whatever path you choose – will have many different struggles. However, one struggle will bring Allah’s Mercy and reward, and the other path will lead to Allah’s anger and punishment.
People runaway from Allah’s commands out of fear that they will face alot of hardship. But they don’t realise – even if they turned away from the guidance – they would still face hardship and stress by other obstacles in life.
يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ أَن يُخَفِّفَ عَنكُمْ ۚ وَخُلِقَ الْإِنسَانُ ضَعِيفًا
Allah wishes to lighten (the burden) for you; and man was created weak. [Nisa 4:28]
Allah’s commands’ bring ease / comfort and relaxation for you.
kabad – the middle of the day (the hardest / hottest part of the day for the ‘arabs).
It also means to be immersed in the middle of a Sand Dune, since it is really hard to walk out of that if you are stuck there.
Kibd – when the Liver gets injured. There is alot of pain and hardship.
Some Sahaaba (companions of Prophet Muhammad) had the view that Kabad is the different stages of life;
When you come out of the womb (when you are born) – there is hardship.
When you grow up – you struggle and go through the different stages of learning how to eat, walk, talk, etc.
Each stage of life brings a form of hardship, and we continue to face different struggles in life till death.
But some said that all animals even go through these stages, so why did Allah say He created Insan (humans) in Kabad?
The human suffers from exhaustion;
Mufti Thanaullah Uthmani Panipati, in his Tafseer Madh-hari said;
– Muhammad Shafee’ said – the covenant which Allah took with the children of Adam at the beginning of creation (mentioned in surah al A’raf 7:172)
وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِن بَنِي آدَمَ مِن ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا
بَلَىٰ ۛ شَهِدْنَا ۛ أَن تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَٰذَا غَافِلِينَ
And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, we have testified.” [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, “Indeed, we were of this unaware.” [A’raf 7:172]
This is the burden mankind carries – of accepting that Allah is their Rab/Master, so they have to persevere to obey Him.
The burden is upon them, and if they deny their duty to Allah – Allah will give them hardships in life. But if they recognise and obey Allah – the obstacles they face in life will raise them in ranks in the sight of Allah.
– Other scholars of tafseer say that the Insan (human) mentioned in this ayah is someone called Abul Asht. The great strong disbeliever who would i.e. get a piece of leather and place it under his foot, and would say to the people that ‘I will give you all sorts of wealth, if you can pull this leather from under my foot.’ (like a gamble or bet). This man would be so strong that they would not be able to pull the leather from under his feet until the leather tore.
Some Sahaaba said that this Kabad meant enormous Strength due to the character of Abul Asht. This man was very wealthy and he spent alot of money to oppose the Muslims.
But most scholars said al Insan is generally referring to all humans going through different hardships.
al Aloosi: By Allah emphasising that humans are meant for struggle, in it there is confirmation that Allah’s Messenger is not the only one going through struggle. Other humans are also going through struggle.
أَيَحْسَبُ أَن لَّن يَقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ أَحَدٌ
Ayahsabu an lan yaqdira AAalayhi ahad
Does he think that never will anyone overcome him?
Allah describes the Psychological human condition, which involves two conflicts; Conflict of worry, but at the same time he has to maintain a reputation that he is not stressed.
This is well shown through celebrities who show that they are confident, but they are really stressed out behind the scenes [this is why they take drugs etc].
Does he think that none has power over him?
yaHsab – he assumes..
He thinks he’s the one above everything else. He think’s that none can overpower only him (this specificness is due to the Taqdeem of ‘He’ being mentioned earlier in the sentence structure.)
You have genocidal maniacs who will command war and kill thousands, thinking – who is going to stop me?
Nobody will have control over him.
ahad – (mentioned in previous surah where Allah’s punishment is equal to none [ahad])
In this ayah, by ahad being placed here – it signifies that this person thinks no-one, not even Allah can overcome/overpower him.
LaN – Not (Future tense)
The previous parts of the surah are past tense, this part of the surah is future tense. This implies that someone who is not aware of the past (and how Allah has dealt with the arrogant people before him) – this person will cause his own destruction due to his ignorance.
[callout font_size=”27px” style=”cherry”]Ayah 6:[/callout]
يَقُولُ أَهْلَكْتُ مَالًا لُّبَدًا
Yaqoolu ahlaktu malan lubada
He says, “I have destroyed [wasted] wealth in abundance.”
YaQoolu – he is saying
his (wrong) assumptions make him become arrogant enough to say;
I have destroyed (ahlak) enormous amounts of wealth.
Lubad / Libda – liquid and sticky and you can pile things on top of it due to its stickiness.
Lubd – he has gathered wealth upon wealth and destroyed it.
Like the english saying;
“I blew alot of money on that car”
A means by which arrogance is shown.
He didn’t say I spent (anfaktu – spent) alot of wealth. No, he wants to show that he has wasted that wealth out of arrogance.
He wants to make sure that people know that he is so rich, he doesn’t even count the amount he has wasted – a sign of arrogance to build his self esteem in society.
This person in the previous surah would say My Lord has belittled me, if Allah restricted his wealth. So he thinks that the only way to get self respect in society is through having alot of wealth and showing off about how he destroyed it worthlessly.
He just wants to show how much money he wasted; “Man, i destroyed 2million on that house” – he wants to show off to see that shocked expression on your face.
al Islahi in Tadabur al Qur’an:
People who are not mature in their thinking think that spending alot of wealth on cars, homes etc. to have people staring at them is amazing. They get a joy feeling out of it.
اعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَزِينَةٌ وَتَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُمْ وَتَكَاثُرٌ فِي الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَوْلَادِ ۖ
كَمَثَلِ غَيْثٍ أَعْجَبَ الْكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ ثُمَّ يَهِيجُ فَتَرَاهُ مُصْفَرًّا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَامًا ۖ وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ
شَدِيدٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانٌ ۚ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ
Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion. [Hadeed 57:20]
But when the call to give to the needy is mentioned, these people make excuses so they don’t have to give anything in charity.
Insan can also mean that in the struggle against the Messenger of Allah, Abul Asht would say that ‘you should make me the leader of you because I spent the most money against the Messenger of Allah and the Muslims’.
In the previous surah, he said, – Oh if only I had invested for my life. [Fajr 89:24]
So Allah is telling us in the previous surah that the disbeliever will be regretful on Judgment Day for wasting his money worthlessly when He could have been investing for it for his real life of the next world.
[callout font_size=”27px” style=”cherry”]Ayah 7:[/callout]
أَيَحْسَبُ أَن لَّمْ يَرَهُ أَحَدٌ
A yaHsabu an lam yaRahu ahad
Does he think that no one SAW him?
Lam – past tense No
If you are not willing to know of the previous nations;
The Quraysh thought they had a natural born right to the honors and riches they had in Makkah. Allah is telling them that He is watching the evils they do and the way they earn and spend their money against His Messenger.
Does he assume that none SAW him?
Allah gave this barren desert city a life, only through the du’a (prayer) of Ibraheem who was a monotheist and sincere to Allah. So you polytheists don’t have to have these honors, or wealth, Allah can take it away from you whenever He wants.
Has he assumed that no-one ever saw him?
أَلَمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُ عَيْنَيْنِ
Alam najAAal lahu AAaynayn
Have We not made for him two eyes?
Didn’t He give you (ja’al – install for you) two eyes?
The One who gave you these two eyes, isn’t He able to see you and what you do of wastefulness and evil?
Wa lisaanan wa shafatayn
And a tongue and two lips?
this tongue you used to boast about how you waste your wealth.
and two lips to control and silence your tongue.
According to a hadith; the lips are a means by which you control your tongue.
The arrogance shown through his tongue is evil and will be a witness against him on Judgment Day.
The blessing of the tongue;
What we see processes immediately, you are thinking of something – then it comes out of your mouth – in the form of understandable words – in the fractions of a second. This system works continuously without freezing for around 80 years non stop.
Wa hadaynaa hu al-najdayn
And have guided him to the two elevated ways?
najd – wide path, clear of vegetation, heading up a mountain.
al Bica’i quotes a hadith;
Allah’s Messenger said;
–يا أيها الناس هلموا إلى ربكم ، فإن ما قل وكفى خير مما كثر وألهى . يا أيها الناس
إنما هما نجدان نجد خير ونجد شر ، فما جعل نجد الشر أحب إليكم من نجد الخير ؟
الراوي: أبو أمامة – خلاصة الدرجة: [إسناده صحيح أو حسن أو ما قاربه] –
المحدث: المنذري – المصدر: الترغيب والترهيب – الصفحة أو الرقم:4/155
ya ayuhan-naas ina ma hum najadaan. najadu khayrin wa najd ul sharr, fa ma ja’ala najda sharri ahabba ilaykum min najdin khayr?
Rush towards your Lord people, because what is little is better than alot which deludes you and decieves / distracts.
People – there are only two paths, the path of good and the path of evil, so what makes you love the path of evil more than the good path? [al-Targheeb wa al-Tarheeb 4/155]
Now on this context, let’s look at the aayaat to come;
hadaa – to guide someone.
The majority tafseer of this ayah is that the two paths are; good and evil.
لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ ۖ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ ۚ فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ
اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ لَا انفِصَامَ لَهَا ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things. (Baqarah 2:256)
We clearly showed him the right and wrong.
The Makkan Qur’an – especially – guides to all that is morally good; helping the orphan, needy etc. So we see universal morality in most of Makkan Qur’an.
Allah has placed in human nature to do acts of good.
Studies in Social Psychology show that someone who lies for the first time; their blood pressure increases, their voice pitch increases uncontrollably etc. All this shows that Allah has placed in the human to incline to the truth. And this is why ALL cultures and societies love truthfulness and dislike lying as a trait in people.
We showed him the two paths.
A Preposition is removed, which makes the meaning more comprehensive.
i.e. Allah says; We guided him two paths.
He did not say ‘We guided him TO two paths’.
Since a removal of a preposition (i.e. The removal of the word ‘to’ can mean that Allah guided him TO the two paths, and also ALONG (‘ala) the two paths.
When someone chooses the path of good sincerely – Allah guides him along that path of good.
When someone chooses the path of evil sincerely – He will make that path achievable for him. (see surah Layl 92: 4-10)
Najadayn – Najd – a mountain which is bare rock with no vegetation or plants. A clear path that is leading uphill.
So the image is of someone going uphill, with two paths going different ways. Pathways whose destinations are known.
There is a good pathway, and a bad pathway. Each pathway has its own hardships because they both require struggle.
(We have created man in hardship/toil/struggle). [Surah Balad 90:4]
Najd – general word for mountain. One of these ranges is easy going up, but when you reach a certain distance – it becomes difficult.
The other range is difficult to get up on from the beginning, but when you reach a certain distance – it becomes easy.
So one is easy in the beginning, the other is hard. The other is easy at the end, and the other is hard at the end.
Humans are hasty/always in a rush. We want what is easier – sooner, if we get a problem, we say – “I will deal with it later.” because we hate hardship being near us.
فَلَا اقْتَحَمَ الْعَقَبَةَ
Fala iqtahama alAAaqaba
But he has made no effort to pass on the path that is steep.
‘aqabah – also means a path going up a mountain range. EXCEPT it is a path which is very difficult to climb. It is steep.
then he didn’t jump right onto ‘aqabah.
‘iqtahama – ‘Iqtihaam – jump into and get involved into something without giving it any thought.
A task which involves alot of hard work, and when you get involved – you realise how hard it is.
Like you might carry a burden for a person and realise how hard it really was once you get involved.
After Allah showed him the two paths;
he did not get himself involved in the ‘aqabah (steep high path).
fa La iqtahama al aqabah.
Grammatically, La is not supposed to be there. Rather ‘Ma‘ is supposed to be there.
This shows a linguistic riddle.
La necessitates that multiple things are being negated. There are many things in ‘aqabah (the steep path).
Multiple things are categorised in ‘Aqabah (the steep path), and this is why La is used instead of Ma (Ma would signify one thing only).
We will see how ‘Aqabah (the steep path) covers alot of different areas. This will be explained in the coming aayaat.
az-Zamakshari: La also implies a du’a (why didn’t he? Why didn’t he climb the ‘aqabah? [Li ma dha?] Allah has given him eyes, and the ability to do so, so why didn’t he climb the steep path?).
It is like Allah is complaining about why the person did not jump into this struggle of the steep path?
Al Bica’i and other scholars said; This is the path to slave ones self, the path to Salvation.
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْعَقَبَةُ
Wa maa adraka maalAAaqaba
And what will make you know the path which is steep?
ibn al Uyayna:
wa ma adraaka [past tense] – what wouldgive you any clue / idea, what that high cliff is?
wa ma yudreeka [present-future] tense – what will give you an idea.
Whenever Allah says it in the present-future tense, He does not tell us. (i.e. When the final hour will be).
When He says it in the past tense (wa ma adraaka) – He gives us more detail.
adraaka – adr [know] Allah will teach us to know what this cliff is. He tells us so we can attempt to climb it.
(It is) Freeing a neck (slave, etc.)
Rescuing someone from slavery
Ikrimah (bin Abi Jahl) had a unique opinion:
Freeing yourself from the slavery of sins by means of tawbah (through repentance and turning back to Allah).
The majority tafseer of this ayah;
Ankada أنقد (with a daal at the end) – to rescue someone from a fire etc.
Fakah فكه [in this ayah] – rescue someone from prison or slavery.
Raqabah – back of the neck. Unuq is the neck. Which shows the image of a chain tied around the neck.
If this chain is at the front, if it is pulled – the slave will go forward. But if it is pulled from the back – the person will choke/suffocate.
This shows the pain of being a slave.
Slavery is defined in 2 ways;
– Physical slavery, and
– Slavery of debt.
Both are a chokehold on you.
Other words used in the Qur’an for neck are; wateen, unuq, raqabah, jeed.
The first word is not used in verbal form (fa qaf qaf – faqqa فَكّ[without dots qaf]). It is not in verb form (which would mean you’ve freed a slave once). Rather, it is in nominal [noun] form = you are committed to freeing slaves and the ones imprisoned continuously etc.
So even in early Makkan Qur’an – Allah is calling people to free slaves. This is a reply to those who question why Islam endorses slavery.
Allah is telling us to commit ourselves to free the slaves, to help the imprisoned (i.e.who are imprisoned unjustly), and the oppressed.
أَوْ إِطْعَامٌ فِي يَوْمٍ ذِي مَسْغَبَةٍ
Aw itAAamun fee yawmin dhee masghaba
or in addition – feeding in a day which is identified with hunger (masghabah)
masghabah – hunger
Other words in the Qur’an to describe hunger are;
– juuw’ (mentioned in surah Quraysh)
Arabic phrase; “asghabal qawmu” – when a whole nation is hungry because of famine.
Everyone is hungry (i.e. ‘bad economic times‘).
IT’aam – infinitive form [not verbal form] – which shows this person is Committed to feeding the hungry in times of national hunger.
In the previous surah we learnt that the ungrateful people are very selfish and they don’t encourage the feeding of the poor etc. (see Fajr 89:17-20)
So Allah is telling that these people have not climbed the steep path.
All these are Commitments during times of hardship. Allah is telling us that you have to be a true Humanitarian. A selfless person.Preferring others over yourself.
In the previous surah; Allah told us the disbelievers caused corruption in the cities. So He is now telling us to oppose this corruption by being selfless and helping the weak and oppressed (the people most affected by this corruption.)
يَتِيمًا ذَا مَقْرَبَةٍ
yateeman dhaa maqrabah
(Feeding an) orphan that possesses closeness.
Allah told us in the previous surah that they did not treat the orphan with generosity:
كَلَّا ۖ بَل لَّا تُكْرِمُونَ الْيَتِيمَ
No! But you do not honor the orphan. [Fajr 89:17]
dha maqrabah – of closeness (qurb) orphan relatives.
But it also encourages the help of the orphan close (qurb) to your neighbourhood.
So Allah encourages the kind treatment of relative orphans, and orphans in your locality by the word Maqrabah.
We need to know the orphans of our community.
أَوْ مِسْكِينًا ذَا مَتْرَبَةٍ
Aw miskeenan dhaa ma-trabah
or a needy person in misery (matraba: [literally means] ‘clinging to the dust [turāb]’ because of his poverty
miskeen – maskan-na – someone who rarely has bare essentials to survive.
I.e. If you see someone and wonder; ‘how is he surviving?‘ This person is a miskeen.
dha Matrabah – possessing dust.
Raaghib al Isfahani: The Meem Masdariyyah shows he is overwhelmed with dust. His bed is dust, he is dirty, bankrupt.
وَلَا تَحَاضُّونَ عَلَىٰ طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ
And you do not encourage one another to feed the poor. [Fajr 89:19]
He walks around without any real home, and he is just about surviving in life.
So Allah encourages the kind treatment of the miskeen.
All these are universal duties mankind should be doing, based on the blessings Allah has given him.
So Allah says;
ثُمَّ كَانَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْمَرْحَمَةِ
Then he became one of those who believed, and recommended one another to perseverance and patience, and (also) recommended one another to pity and compassion.
Thereafter he became of those who believed.
Eman (belief) is mentioned after all these humanitarian causes. So Allah is telling us that those who saw problems in society – there is only 1 real solution.
Charity; a hopeless situation without Islam:
Imagine people give money to the poor and the charities tell that they have fed 1000 poor people.
The next year they tell they have fed 5000 poor people.
But these charities recognise that no real positive progress has been made because even more people have lost their homes in the 2nd year due to the demolition of their homes and farms.
The charities will then admit that they have not achieved much progress, because even more people are hungrier now than the first year.
So you made little progress in helping, but the amount of harms that occured within that time period outweigh the benefit.
So alot of people working in charities later on realise they are working for a helpless cause. Since the problems only increase. The efforts seem endless and tiring.
This is why the charities say; “help an orphan for just $1 every day.” this way – they can get continuous funding without showing an image of helplesness.
These are the problems (fasaad/corruptions) we see in society. And their cause is mentioned in the previous surah;
(those who rebelled in the town). (Fajr 89:11)
Rebelling against Allah was the cause of the corruption, and these people who climbed the high steep path (of ‘aqabah) realised that the only true way of ending this corruption (fasaad) was through believing in Allah and.. (the complete description in ayah 17).
So the person who has Eman (belief in Allah’s guidance) gains more patience in his efforts of good, because he knows that Allah will reward him for his efforts, even if he does not see 100% positive results.
They also believe that Allah will replace their fear and sadness into safety and joy;
وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ
مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَىٰ لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّن بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا ۚ يَعْبُدُونَنِي
لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا ۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ
Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession [to authority] upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will surely establish for them [therein] their religion which He has preferred for them and that He will surely substitute for them, after their fear, security, [for] they worship Me, not associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that – then those are the defiantly disobedient. [Noor 24:55]
When Guidance was Established on Earth;
Emaan (Belief/contracting with Allah) and Amn (safety) are connected together.
And this city of Makkah is meant to be a city of peace and safety.
So if you turn to Allah – He will send justice from the skies (wahy/revelation).
So when the guidance of Allah was established on Earth – justice was established and everyone was dealt with fairly and the poor were enriched. This is proven through the lifes of the famous Khulafa’ [Caliphs] like Umar bin al Khattab, Umar bin Abdul Azeez, and even through the likes of the Mahdi and ‘Eesa [Jesus son of Mary] who will come in the future. All this justice and enrichment of society was due to one thing; Emaan – guidance from Allah and its implementation.
And then after – he became of those who believed, and they enjoined patience/perseverance and recommended each other to pity and compassion.
Allah is telling us that he became of those who believe, and then THEY enjoined each other in perseverence and recommended each other to pity and compassion.
This signifies that when he became a believer – he joined with the Muslims’ who all worked together in perseverance, pity and compassion.
waaSaw – waSiyya – to leave a will or legacy.
taWaasi – to try to advise / motivate / encourage / council one another.
So they advise each other and remain motivated in Sabr [perseverance];
Sabr – patience / perseverance / consistency / constancy.
So no matter how hard something might be, they advise each other in persevering in this cause.
It is with commitment/consistency they keep counselling each other.
Because the task of climbing this steep path is difficult. “Come on, we can do this. Let’s stay firm, the reward is great”.
The disbelievers did not have control and patience in sharing wealth or recommending each other to supporting the weak. They just thought about keeping wealth and boasting about how they wasted it. They were too lazy to climb the steep ‘aqabah/path.
So Allah is telling us that he can only be a true humanitarian [Preferring others over himself constantly] with perseverance – if he has Emaan (Belief/a Contract with Allah).
wa tawaaSaaw bi al – and they encouraged / counselled upon each other;
maRHamah – this is not mercy (since mercy is Rahmah). Rather marhamah is Pity.
mercy which extends to many, everyone and everything.
Having Emaan means you have mercy for mankind as a whole. The same way the Prophets’ would feel saddened when their people would not become Muslim, because they feared their peoples’ sins would destroy them in this life, or destroy them in the hellfire.
أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ
Ulaaa-ika aS-haab al maymanah –
it is those who are companions of the FAR on the right path.
This is a strong ‘far right’ [closer to Allah’s Mercy] in comparison to just ‘aS-haab al yameen’ (those of the right hand).
O Allah make us of them. ameen.
Switch of Sequencing in surah Fajr and Balad:
In the previous surah – the people of hell are mentioned first, and after the people of Jannah/paradise are mentioned.
In this surah – the people of Paradise are mentioned first, then the people of hell are mentioned after.
In this surah; Miskeen is mentioned first, and then Yateem second.
The previous surah had Yateem first and Miskeen second.
In this surah; Jannah is mentioned first, and hell after.
In the previous surah; Hell is mentioned first, and Paradise second.
وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِنَا هُمْ أَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ
Wallazheena kafaroo bi-ayatina hum as-habu almash-ama
And those who disbelieved in our miraculous signs, those are the people associated with the curse.
Ayah: – Sign and miracle.
Something which points to the Oneness of Allah.
mash-amah – overwhelming curse.
Ash-shu’oom – vile and disgusting.
Also means the left side.
The Arabs would associate evil and disgusting things with the left hand.
They would associate the right hand side with good and blessed things.
And this tradition continued with the way of Prophet Muhammad (and it may be that the Arabs originally got this belief/tradition from the religion of their father Prophet Ibraheem/Abraham).
The disbelievers would reject all the aayaat/signs of Allah; of Qur’an [Qur’aniyyah] (Divine Revelation) and also Aayaat al Kawniya (of Existence.)
Allah looks at the psyche of the human without the human even saying it. Allah’s Messenger hears what the people say, but Allah tells him what they even think when they recieve the aayaat from him. They’re refusing to care, to think, and to have mercy on the creation of Allah.
Islam will only guide those who have a will for Decency and goodness. The easiest transition to Emaan (belief in Allah’s religion) is for those who have care for humanity, and they do not engulf themselves in false pleasures which are forbidden. These are the people who are most likely to come to Islam.
When Allah spoke about the good people – He never mentioned a description of Jannah/Paradise.
He did in that in the previous surah.
as-Sabooni: Every Surah has a jawh (climate) – and the climate of this surah is Very Tough (shiddah).
The surah starts with; La, ‘najdayn, ‘aqabah, iqtahama.
The people of Paradise are mentioned a little [with alot of Paradise mentioned in the previous Surah (Fajr)], and the people of hell are mentioned in more detail in this surah – due to the Tough theme of this surah.
عَلَيْهِمْ نَارٌ مُّؤْصَدَةٌ
alayhim naarun mu’ssadah
[Especially] upon them – a fire which has been sealed up.
Ibn al Faris:
waSad is to seal something on top of another thing.
I.e. I put a lid on top of the stew on the cooking pot.
On them is a fire whose heat does not escape. Because a lid is on. So there is no escape, no doorway – just a closing lid.
The Beginning of the Surah’s Connection with it’s End:
Fadil Hassaan Salih ar-Ra’i:
In the beginning of the surah – Allah says; We created man in toil.
If the man does not do the toil for Allah’s sake, he will struggle for other than Allah. (beginning of surah)
So Allah will give him the toil of hell as a result – which will last forever and forever without end. (end of surah).