Surah al Ma’un (small kindnesses) [107]

Asalaam alaikum warahmatulah wabarakatuh
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Surah al Ma’un (small kindnesses) [107]

Miracle Dream Tafseer – Nouman Ali Khan

..also known as surah al-Deen [Payback].

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[callout font_size=”27px” style=”cherry”]Introduction:[/callout]

Relationship of this Surah [Ma’un] with the Previous Surah (Quraysh)

The previous surah Quraysh concludes on a demand on Quraysh;
they should enslave themselves fully and worship the Master of this house (the Ka’bah).

Allah tells them what they should be doing (enslaving themselves to Him.)

In this surah Ma’un, Allah tells us what they are doing presently without Emaan (Belief). A contrast between what they should be doing, and what they are doing instead.


By majority count, this is a Makki surah (revealed in Makkah). Although some say it is Madani (revealed in Medina). We will discuss the opinions later insha’ Allah (God willing).

This surah is a sharp, intelligent, uncompromising, unapologetic, you can even argue controversial depiction of social corruption in that society.

Allah’s Messenger is not in social or political power in Makkah, and for him to criticize and point direct fingers at the leaders who have power to harm – requires full trust in Allah.

One type of people who face injustice in society are the Yateem (orphans). They have no tribe or clan to support them, so they are all alone and weak. People can abuse, beat up on him/her, hit them – and if no-one is there to support them, nothing will happen against the oppressor.

In the previous surah Quraysh;
Allah mentions His favours on Quraysh, and due to His favours upon them – they should enslave themselves and submit to their Merciful Master. (positive reinforcement).
However, they did not become Muslim – so Allah criticized them (negative reinforcement) in this surah for their evil acts. He comments on the reality of their behaviour without Islam.

This surah looks like it is discussing 2 distinct groups, because the surah seems divided into two parts: Aayaat: (Part 1: [ayahs’; 1-3]) (Part 2: [ayahs; 4-7]).

But in reality – we will learn that it is referring to 1 group only. And we will reconcile the confusion as to why people originally think it is referring to 2 groups.

The first half of the surah is clearly talking about a disbeliever.
The second half of the surah is talking about someone who is praying, although being cheap in that.

Some opinions are that the 2nd half of the surah is revealed in Madinah about the hypocrites because there were no hypocrites in Makkah.

Although that it is a legitimate opinion, we will take the opinion that the entire surah is a description of the Quraysh as we will see insha’ Allah (God willing).

A few surahs ago;

In surah at-Teen 95:7, Allah mentioned –

فَمَا يُكَذِّبُكَ بَعْدُ بِالدِّينِ

–  (so what will after this, make them lie against You (O Muhammad) after this religion?)

It seems that even the most powerful of arguments are not enough.
So Allah says at the beginning of this surah;

أَرَأَيْتَ الَّذِي يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ

have You (O Muhammad) seen the one who lies against the religion? [Ma’un 107:1]

In both aayaat – Allah is speaking to His Messenger.
What kind of low state has this person reached that they still lie against this religion?

ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ

  – (then We rejected him to the lowest of the low) – surah at-Teen 95:5.

This surah will explain the characteristics this person had, so Allah rejected him and lowered him to the lowest of levels.

Surah at-Teen
was talking about Insan (the people/humans). But this surah comes right after Surah Quraysh, so it is directly about the polytheists of Quraysh. This is further supported by the statement aRa’ayTa (did You see? [O Muhammad] – and Allah’s Messenger saw the Quraysh in these acts of lying against the religion, and repulsing the orphan, and not urging the feeding of the poor etc.

So it goes from general criticism in surah at-Teen of humanity, to specific critique of the disbelieving leaders of Quraysh in this surah.

[callout font_size=”27px” style=”cherry”]Ayah 1:[/callout]

أَرَ‌أَيْتَ الَّذِي يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ

Ara’ayta alladhee yukadhdhibu bid-deen

Have you seen the one who lies against the Recompense?

aRa’ayt –  did you See?

Allah uses this to honor His Messenger and his morality, in comparison to the disbelievers who have stooped to such a low level.
So this is used to show the strength of His Messenger, and to show the corruption of those who oppose his way.

(I.e. It is like a teacher says to the best student, “have you seen why all them people have failed?” – the teacher is honoring the best student by talking to him only, and humiliating those who purposelly failed.)

Differences in Useage of
; a lam taRa [Did you not see?], and aRa’ayt [Did you see?]

a lam taRa – did you not See?

Allah says this when His Messenger is overwhelmedand he is extremely saddened that the leaders have power and media against the message, whereas he does not have such power.

So Allah reminds him; Did you not See [alam taRa] – how your Lord dealt (kayfa fa’ala Rabbuka) with; ‘Aad, Thamood, Fir’awn, as-hab al Feel – the companions of the Elephant etc.)

So this “a lam taRa” is used when Allah’s Messenger was in distress.

But; aRa’ayta – Have you seen – is used when Allah is empowering His Messenger in confidence.

al Mutawali ash-Sha’rawi: Allah continuously asks and repeats questions in the Qur’an to get the hearer involved, just like a teacher will continuously ask questions – even though he knows that the students know the answers. Just so the students stay awake, and the lessons taught are emphasised.

Allah is teaching. (‘alam-ma al Qur’an – He taught the Qur’an – surah Rahman 55:2)

ash-Shawkani: everyone with an intellect (‘aql) is being asked.

aRa’ayt: “Have you seen?”

So we need to think; have I seen anyone who lies against the religion?

aladhee – “the one who..”

There are two opinions on who this ayah is about:

1 – mukhtas/khas – some specific/particular Enemy (‘aas bin wa’il, akhnas bin shuraiq, some said Abu Lahab because he is wealthy and will be discussed in the next surah Lahab 111).

Allah may be Targetting them one at a time since they were enemies of the message of Islam.

2 – ‘aam General to anyone who fits that description.

The person who has a guilty conscience, will think it is referring to him; have you seen the one who lies against the religion? Who repulses the orphan? Who doesn’t encourage the feeding of the poor?

Anyone who fits that description will actually think it is referring to him. Because of the guilty conscience.

Allah makes them start thinking too. So a friction is being caused in society where individuals who fit that description think they are being humiliated by this Qur’an.

Remember that the Qur’an is not revealed and being recited in a Dars (lesson), rather – Allah’s Messenger would recite this Qur’an in the presence of the people, and each ayah could cause offence to the leaders of that society – who would harm the believers as a result.

But this was the reality of society, and Allah criticized those who did evil to show their corrupt and flawed ideas.

What is the difference between:

aladhee yakfuru bid-deen – the one who rejects the religion.

outright denial and rejection.

aladhee yukazibu bid-deen – the one who lies against the religion.

The one who is doing takzeeb/yukazibu – they are lying against the religion, saying it is a lie.

– he knows that something is true – but he is rejecting it and saying it is a lie. (he is lying against the religion – whilst knowing the religion is true).
He kills his conscience, chokes it, and rejects it.

Allah is telling us that it is the ego and arrogance and criminal addictions of sins which are making you lie against the religion, even though you fully know it is the truth. So you lie against it to fool others, so that you can feel
satisfied and justified in the sins that you are continuously doing.

So Allah is telling us the pscyhe/mindset of this person.

yukazibu (Present tense) – he lies against (the religion). By using the present tense, Allah is showing us that this person persists in lying against the religion.

He hears more aayaat – they make sense to him – but he continues to lie against them so he can continue his own sinful ways.

Deen –

Can be in 2 forms:
General term and Specific term.

– Technical term (al istilah) – when a word is used generally and used for a particular science.

i.e. Journal means Diary. But if you are an Editor or a Publishing business – you are thinking about a specific print edition for your magazine.

The exact same word Journal in the accounting industry will have a totally different meaning, and will refer to the Accountants book with Credit and Debit balances.
So the same word can have a general meaning and a technical meaning.

Same way the word Site has different meanings in different contexts.

Islam came and gave general words specific meanings. I.e. Salah originally referred to prayer/invocation/du’a. But this word got a more specific meaning of Prayer which we pray 5 times a day.

ad-Deen – Generally it has a meaning.
But after Islam, it refers to the religion of Islam itself.

Have you seen the one who lies against the religion of Islam? (Prophethood, Tawheed, the hereafter etc)

Others said this refers to the General meaning of Deen.

Deen: Daana/yadeenu – literally – to give a loan.

Hiba – to give a gift (without expecting a gift back).

Dayn – you give and you expect it back. (And it is so disgusting to the arabs that you take back a gift – that it is like taking back your own vomit.) So a Dayn is a Loan.

But when it refers to Dayn – it is a loan which the other person is expected to give back at a certain date/time.

Arabic saying; ‘kama tudeena ta daanu’ – the same way you give, you will be payed back.

so Deena can refer to Payback.

So Deen refers to Payback.

: Deen refers to Payback and being Accounted for.

Have you seen the one who lies against the Deen/Payback (on Judgment Day)?

The people who have weak belief that a Payback will occur – then it will be easy for them to engage in criminal behaviour, even if you are religious, even if you pray. (as will be mentioned in tafseer of Ayah 4,5,6 of this surah.)

The first thing that stops criminals is the fear of consequence. If you know for certainty that someone in authority is watching you, and that they will give you punishment as a payback for your evil – you will stop your criminal acts out of fear for your own-self.

There is a red traffic light WITH a camera on it. You will not drive past out of losing your license or paying a fine. Sometimes we even have belief in the unseen – we don’t pass a red traffic light because there MIGHT be a police officer there around the corner. (lol)

الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ

aladheena yu’minoona bil ghayb – those who believe in the unseen (Baqarah 2:3)

Something in his heart tells him that he will have to Payback for his evils. But he lies against it any way (‘so you’re afraid of hell huh?’)

Somewhere in the back of their mind – there is a thought that the afterlife might be real. But they ignore that thought and move on. They don’t care. And this is the attitude of these people described in this surah; They Don’t Care.

In this speech – part of the rhetoric is that they are in a mission (Hadhf).

What did the scholars say about this ayah?

– Have you not seen the one who lies against the Payback?

have you seen such people (literally)?
Have you seen such people (figuratively) [i.e. how they act etc.]?

If you say ‘I see’ [Ra’aa] – it can mean ‘I literally see with my eyes’ [literally], and it also means ‘I understand’ (figuratively).

ar-Razi – have you recognised the one who lies against the final Payback (on Judgment Day)?
Allah is establishing that Denial of the Ressurection is the essence of all forms of disbelief and of rebellion.

This is because people do not normally want to change themselves.
So they deny and rebel and lie against the religion (Deen) and the Day of Payback (Deen).

بَلْ يُرِيدُ الْإِنسَانُ لِيَفْجُرَ أَمَامَهُ

Nay! [man] he desires to continue committing sins violently (against Allah’s sacred limits). [Qiyamah 75:5]

When reality is too hard – the human tries to deny it, and tries to find a way out. This is why these people do not submit to and accept the Deen.
(the religion and the Payback on Judgment Day).

Usually you are supposed to answer the question, atleast in your heart or mind. So Allah is asking His Messenger firstly, but also the people of intellect (‘aql).

Have you seen the one who lies against the religion and final Payback – even after all the evidences came to him?

But this time, Allah will answer for us;

[callout font_size=”27px” style=”cherry”]Ayah 2:[/callout]

فَذَٰلِكَ الَّذِي يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ

Fadhalika alladhee yadu’u al yateem

That is he who repulses the orphan (harshly),

Fa – then the sign (of their disbelief is) that they are the one who pushes the orphan around.

Yateem – someone who lost their parents in childhood.
They feel depressed, hopeless, like there is no ground to stand on.

These people are most in need of pity and courtesy. Which disgusting person would repulse and oppress this innocent orphan?

When you deny the Judgment Day and the next life, you deny a reality that Allah placed in your Fitrah (natural disposition). If you deny the reality – you lie against yourself, so your heart contradicts and contradiction in the self makes one at unease, making the heart feel harden and closed.

When the heart goes hard – you lose your mercy. And that is when you oppress the weak.

تَوَاصَوْا بِالْمَرْحَمَةِ

– tasaww bil marhamah
 [the believers] enjoin/encourage upon each other extreme mercy.

(Balad 90:17)

Da/’a push someone far away, without expecting that they will push you back. Push someone afar.

to intimidate someone by ‘kicking them out’ of a gathering. I.e. “get out of here!” = da/’a.

Allah is Extremely sensitive about the Orphan;

1 – Surah an-Nisa [the Women] – we would think begins discussing women. But no, Allah first starts the surah talking about the orphans, then women are mentioned later.

2 – Allah tells His Messenger in surah Duha; فَأَمَّا الْيَتِيمَ فَلَا تَقْهَرْ  – as for the orphan, do not oppress him (Duha 93:9) He mentioned the orphan before the beggar!

3 كَلَّا ۖ بَل لَّا تُكْرِمُونَ الْيَتِيمَ  – no! But you do not treat the orphan, with honor and kindness and generosity. (Fajr 89:17)

4 – So this surah is harsher, you don’t honor the orphan but instead you push him far away?!

Dhalika – that is the one
(ba’eed – distanced). This shows Allah distancing Himself from this person who pushes the orphan away, and it is also a humiliating way of mentioning someone; ‘That one who pushes the orphan away!?’

Allah could have said; fa Hadha aladhee yadu’u al yateem (then this is the one who pushes the orphan away.)

But He said; fa Dhalika aladhee yadu’u al yateem (That one who pushes the orphan away!?’)

But dhalika is more powerful in Allah distancing him from Himself and degradation and humiliation for such a character.

1 – Fa – when the Fa (then) – is used, it is a cause and effect from Ayah 1 to Ayah 2;

Have you seen him who lies against the Deen (religion and Payback Day?)..
Fa – he is that person who pushes / repulses the orphan far away.

2 – The one who lies against the religion and payback day.
Then he pushes the orphan away too.

This is a subtle difference to point 1, but it implies that crimes against Allah will most likely bring crimes against the creation too.

Criminal behaviour against Allah is most likely to bring you to criminal behaviour against the people, and vice versa (if you do criminal behaviour against the people – you are most likely committing crimes against Allah too).

ash-Shawkani: If he lies against the Deen (and disbelieves), it is easy for him to do that oppression against the orphan.

The one who denies the next life, then it is expected of him that he will do such immoral and horrible crimes against the creation. This surah chooses to highlight one area (of oppressing and pushing away the orphan because it is one of those big sins).

Allah is always in support of the orphans who are weak.
And we know this because Allah’s Messenger Muhammad (sal Allah alayhi wasalam) was even a Yateem (orphan). And Allah chose him, helped him, and supported him over all mankind.

Yadu’u – push someone violently with animosity and intimidation. Push the orphan even away from his own rights (i.e. Of wealth which his parents might have left behind).

Its not just a stranger, even his own neighbours and relatives, and society – the people push him away from what is his.

Da’a – also used  in the Qur’an to describe people who will be pushed into the hellfire.

يَوْمَ يُدَعُّونَ إِلَىٰ نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ دَعًّا

yawma yuda/’una fee naari jahannam da/’a!
(the day they will be pushed into the fire of the torture chamber of hell, a forceful violent push) [at-Toor 52:13]

O Allah protect us from being pushed into the fire, ameen.

: the Quraysh were people who did not give inheritence to women and children. They pushed them away if they asked for any wealth.

Their reason was that men require wealth for warfare, whereas what do women and children need money for?
So they did not give the right of wealth to women and children which really belonged to them.

This is why Allah gave people their rights by allowing inheritance for women and children. (with the male getting twice as much as the female because he has an obligation to spend his wealth on the females and children of the household, whereas women do not have that duty and can spend their wealth on whatever good they wish.)

That is he who repulses the orphan (harshly),

Another Qira’ah
(recitation style) of the Qur’an states;

fa dhalik aladhee yad’u al yateem; he is the one who calls the Yateem [orphan]

He calls the orphan.
I.e. He calls him, uses and abuses him, then pushes (yadu’u) him away.

He has turned him into a slave or servant.

So the one who he should really be honoring (see surah Fajr 89:17) – he has turned him into a slave / servant who does his chores for him.

ar-Razi: he does not feed him, he only calls him to make use of him or to make fun of him.

This Connection between Denial of the Next life and Bad Behaviour
has been mentioned many times in the Qur’an before: i.e.

1 – وَيْلٌ لِّلْمُطَفِّفِينَ – Destruction for those who cheat/fraud in business… [Mutaffifeen 83:1]

2 –   كَلَّا إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَيَطْغَىٰ. أَن رَّآهُ اسْتَغْنَىٰ – No man goes past all limits, because he thinks himself self sufficient. [‘Alaq 96:6-7]

All these are direct blows and offensive to the Quraysh’s honour in society. The most powerful of these blows is in the next ayah:

[callout font_size=”27px” style=”cherry”]Ayah 3:[/callout]

وَلَا يَحُضُّ عَلَىٰ طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ

Wa laa yahuddu ‘alaa taAAami almiskeen

and he does not encourage on feeding the poor.

The previous aayaat was in regard to their personal lives.

But this ayah is directly affecting their public reputation that they’ve took so long to build up.

These people who are being criticized – are the leaders of the Quraysh (i.e. Abu Lahab who is the treasurer) – who have the duty and role of feeding and supporting the weak (atleast at an official level). However, they do not fulfill this role.

Leaders should be at the forefront of feeding the poor
, serving the public, and helping the weak. But instead, these leaders are wasting the money they are entrusted with to the other rich men in society, whereas this money is public money. Thus showing their corruption and lack of responsibility in their role as leader.

They had the mentality that they needed to protect the agenda of the rich instead of protecting the weak. Because the rich support their high position, and keep their support in place. If they helped the poor – they would not get such benefits.
So they didn’t help the poor, neither enjoin people to help them – so that they would keep their power and position in society.

Why doesn’t he encourage people to give to the poor?

If he encourages people to feed the poor – people will ask him why he doesn’t feed the orphan and poor himself?
Allah is exposing this corrupt rich persons psyche – you don’t want to encourage people to spend on the poor, otherwise you won’t be able to use this money in corruption and dealings with other rich people.

This is all over the world. The leaders trample over the rights of the weak.
So they can keep their power.

هض – similar to Hattha هث

to make something rise and push it forward. i.e. a horse.

I.e. If you sit on a horse and say ‘giddyup‘ (come on, let’s go!) – the horse rises and pushes its speed forward. This is Hattha.

Anything else is Hadda – i.e. To rise and push an agenda forward.

Hadda – can also mean to; Encourage people to move forward, on something good.

wa la yaHuddu ‘ala ta’am al miskeen
and he does not push and rise others to feed the poor.

If he does not even feed the orphan relative, it’s obvious that he will not even encourage the feeding of the poor.

Allah said he does not encourage others to feed the Miskeen.

miskeen – singular.

masaakeen – plural.

Forget many poor people, he doesn’t even encourage the feeding of one poor person (miskeen).

Another reason for these singulars (instead of plurals) is because it makes the criminal remember the particular poor orphan and poor person they treated badly.

Allah is telling them that He knows what specific crime you did today against that poor orphan, and that poor person). This makes the criminal guilty about the specific crime he did lately against someone specific,instead of generally thinking about all orphans and poor people).

This has more of a guilty personal effect on the criminal.

These politicians and leaders have the power and influence to yuhadd (rise and speed people to feed the orphan and needy) – but they do not out of their own stinginess and greed.

فَقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ لَا تُكَلَّفُ إِلَّا نَفْسَكَ ۚ وَحَرِّضِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۖ عَسَى اللَّهُ أَن يَكُفَّ بَأْسَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا ۚ وَاللَّهُ

أَشَدُّ بَأْسًا وَأَشَدُّ تَنكِيلًا

So fight, [O Muhammad], in the cause of Allah ; you are not held responsible except for yourself. And encourage/incite [Harridd] the believers [to join you] that perhaps Allah will restrain the [military] might of those who disbelieve. And Allah is greater in might and stronger in [exemplary] punishment. [an-Nisa’ 4:84]

– Encourage.

This type of inciting is caused to prevent a harm from occurring. I.e. If you do not do this – you will face harm from others.
Let’s do it – otherwise there are negative consequences.

He doesn’t encourage himself, his family, or friends or society, all because of his stinginess, and his utter denial of thinking he will have to pay society back. ‘whose going to do a lawsuit against me? I am the leader.’ (such a psychological mindset.)
He doesn’t know that the angels are writing his every deed. But he has denied the Deen (Day of Payback).

ta’am al miskeen (muddaaf and muddaf ‘alay) – food of the needy.

maskana – who cannot help themselves.
Sak-kana – they are stuck/still in a place and they cannot leave their place/situation [of hardship].

Unless you help them – they cannot come out of their hard situation
. They can’t help themselves, you need to help them.

ta’am al miskeen [food (of) the orphan] – it shows that the food belongs to him, it is his right.

Allah did not say that they did not give food for him. (ta’am LI al miskeen – food FOR the orphan).

Rather He said; ta’am al miskeen (the food OF the Miskeen).

Allah is telling that; the food – which the corrupt leaders are keeping for themselves – is really the food which belongs to the orphan and the miskeen/poor, but you are not encouraging others to give -what is theirs – to them.

These people are corruptly consuming that charity wealth themselves – wealth which belongs to this poor orphan and poor miskeen.

This illustrates the hard heartness of his corrupt politician, and shows how cheap he is. He is not even encouraging others to give food to the needy – when this food actually is theirs to begin with!

Allah did not say Itt’aam (feeding). He said;

طعام  – food.

Feeding (itt’aam
إطعام ) – you are doing something for someone. This is not mentioned in the ayah.

But Ta’am is mentioned in this ayah; which implies that this person does not even do a good favour of feeding, rather – he doesn’t even give the food which belongs to the poor – to them.

He’s not even standing up for the rights of the one who has the right to it.

Now Allah has explained this persons terrible and evil situation and relationship with the people. He will now tell us His relationship with Allah in his Salah (prayer) to Allah.

[callout font_size=”27px” style=”cherry”]Ayah 4:[/callout]

فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّينَ

Fa waylun li al musalleen

Then – as a consequence – the worst form of destruction and curse (wayl) for the ones who pray.

mussali – one who prays.

فَوَيْلٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِّلْمُكَذِّبِينَ

–  (Destruction and curse on That Day for the liars [against the religion]). [at-Toor 52:11]

Because the curse and destruction in this ayah is ON THAT DAY (yawma idhin). Whereas the curse mentioned in this surah is Ultimate Destruction without any specificness, so it is a destruction coming soon.

Whereas this curse in surah Ma’un is not saying ‘yawma idhin’ (on that Day). Rather, it has no restriction – so it is a direct curse and destruction which is going to fall on those who pray…

Immediately right now – they are in a state of destruction..

Ayah 4 roughly translated in meaning:

Then as a consequence – the worst form of destruction and curse (wayl) upon the ones who pray…

Anyone who prays – is now alerted.
Even the word salah used to mean ‘prayer/invocation’ before the Qur’an was revealed – alerts the non Muslim arabs and Muslims.

Allah has cursed those who pray!?
(what comes next is going to be really important now that it has got your full attention).

Allah said; Musalleen (those who pray). He could have said; waylun lil munafiqeen (curse / destruction on the hypocrites.. Who are lazy in their prayers.)

But Allah said Musalleen (those who pray). So everyone is terrified. It makes us read and reflect on the ayah again.
So we cannot read the ayah upto here in Salah and finish, we will have to continue onto recite the rest.

But it also makes you think to yourself; Am I going to be described next? Because I pray. You fear you are not of the hypocrites.

This is why some scholars thought this ayah referred to the hypocrites.

O Allah, please do not make us of the hypocrites.

[callout font_size=”27px” style=”cherry”]Ayah 5:[/callout]

الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَن صَلَاتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ

Alladheena hum AAan salaatihim saahoown

Those who in regard to their prayers are heedless.

Allah could have connected these 2 ayah and made them as one without mentioning prayer twice. But He mentioned prayer/salah twice for emphasis.

What connects these aayaat with the aayaats of Passage 1

ash-Shawkani and ar-Razi: hurting the creation, and not giving them their own right, then it’s only natural that you will not give the rights of the Creator fully.

If you have bad behaviour with the creation, then it’s only natural your heart will not be strong in worship and prayer to Allah.

Doesn’t Allah say;

إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ – surely prayer protects against shameful and evil acts. [al Ankabut 29:45]

So if prayer protects against evil – then why is this person doing this really harmful evil to others?

musalleen (noun – showing long term) – those who always pray

aladheena yusalloon
– those who pray (verb – showing temporary i.e. Sometimes they pray). However, musalleen is used.

Allah says these people who pray often and are committed to that (musalleen) – those who are heedless of their prayers – curse and destruction be on them.

aRa’ayta aladhee – singular – have you seen the one..

Musalleen – plural – those who pray. These people would pray in public together – to show off (as will be explained in ayah 6).

Allah has cursed many

وَيْلٌ لِّكُلِّ هُمَزَةٍ لُّمَزَةٍ waylun li kuli humaz-zati lumaza – curse/destruction upon every backbiter and slanderer. [Humazah 104:1]

وَيْلٌ لِّلْمُطَفِّفِينَ waylin lil mutafiffeen – woe to every fraud. [Mutafiffeen 83:1]

Allah cursed those who go against the rights of humans.

So what then about the rights of Allah?

Allah said;

فَوَيْلٌ لِّلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَابَ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَٰذَا مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ لِيَشْتَرُوا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۖ فَوَيْلٌ لَّهُم مِّمَّا

كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَوَيْلٌ لَّهُم مِّمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ

  – (destruction to those who write the book (i.e. falsehood) with their own hands and say this is from Allah in order to exchange it for a small price. Curse to them for what their hands have written and Curse to them for what they earn.) [surah al Baqarah 2:79]

These are bad crimes which Allah is cursing destruction for.

And in the list of these cursed criminals are also those who are heedless and show off in the prayer – that He is putting them along with those who do such major crimes.

What is the description of the Prayer
mentioned in these aayaat?;

1 – Some say it was the prayer of the hypocrites – who only showed off so they could be seen by the people praying.

2 – Other scholars say it was the prayer of the Quraysh leaders;

Brief History

Prophet Ibraheem [Abraham] settles in this city Makkah and prays to Allah;

وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هَٰذَا الْبَلَدَ آمِنًا وَاجْنُبْنِي وَبَنِيَّ أَن نَّعْبُدَ الْأَصْنَامَ. رَبِّ إِنَّهُنَّ أَضْلَلْنَ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ

النَّاسِ ۖ فَمَن تَبِعَنِي فَإِنَّهُ مِنِّي ۖ وَمَنْ عَصَانِي فَإِنَّكَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ. رَّبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنتُ مِن ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ

ذِي زَرْعٍ عِندَ بَيْتِكَ الْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ فَاجْعَلْ أَفْئِدَةً مِّنَ النَّاسِ تَهْوِي إِلَيْهِمْ وَارْزُقْهُم مِّنَ

الثَّمَرَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ.رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ تَعْلَمُ مَا نُخْفِي وَمَا نُعْلِنُ ۗ وَمَا يَخْفَىٰ عَلَى اللَّهِ مِن شَيْءٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ

وَلَا فِي السَّمَاءِ. الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي وَهَبَ لِي عَلَى الْكِبَرِ إِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي لَسَمِيعُ الدُّعَاءِ. رَبِّ

اجْعَلْنِي مُقِيمَ الصَّلَاةِ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِي ۚ رَبَّنَا وَتَقَبَّلْ دُعَاءِ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيَّ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَوْمَ يَقُومُ


And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham said, “My Lord, make this city [Makkah] secure and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols.
My Lord, indeed they have led astray many among the people. So whoever follows me – then he is of me; and whoever disobeys me – indeed, You are [yet] Forgiving and Merciful.
Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful.

Our Lord, indeed You know what we conceal and what we declare, and nothing is hidden from Allah on the earth or in the heaven.
Praise to Allah , who has granted to me in old age Ishmael and Isaac. Indeed, my Lord is the Hearer of supplication.
My Lord, make me an establisher of prayer, and [many] from my descendants. Our Lord, and accept my supplication.

Our Lord, forgive me and my parents and the believers the Day the account is established.”

[Surah Ibrahim 14: 35-41]

In surah Maryam 19: 54-55 – Allah tells us Isma’il/Ishmael commanded his family to pray.

وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ إِسْمَاعِيلَ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ صَادِقَ الْوَعْدِ وَكَانَ رَسُولًا نَّبِيًّا. وَكَانَ يَأْمُرُ أَهْلَهُ بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ

وَكَانَ عِندَ رَبِّهِ مَرْضِيًّا

And mention in the Book, Ishmael. Indeed, he was true to his promise, and he was a messenger and a prophet. And he used to enjoin on his people prayer and zakah and was to his Lord pleasing.

That prayer was passed on from generation to generation. The original prayer which was given to you [O Quraysh] through your father Ibrahim’s prayer, through to Isma’il – which was originally full of sincerety to Allah, it became altered –  passed on with innovations, and became a thing of showing off.

aladheena ‘an salatihim saahoown
– those who are – in regard to their prayer – Saahoown (ayah 5).

sahw – to forget something out of neglectfulness because something – of a greater thought to you – was on your mind.

i.e. sajdah sahw – prostration of forgetfulness (because your mind was thinking about something else).

sahw also includes: If you caught the prayer, well and good. But if you never – you think it doesn’t matter.

Or if you keep your plans to do a certain thing while not worrying if you miss the prayer in the process.

Meaning: You don’t mind if you miss the prayer =  Being Neglectful = Saahoown

The worst destruction (wayl) if you have such an attitude.

How Important is Salah/prayer to Allah

1 – Allah introduces Himself to Moses

نَّنِي أَنَا اللَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدْنِي وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِذِكْرِي

(Surely, no doubt I am Allah – there is no god but Me, so enslave yourself to Me/worship me and establish the prayer for my remembrance). [Taha 20:14]

To Really remember Allah – you have to establish prayer.

2 –

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah , Lord of the worlds. [An’am 6:162]

Salah is mentioned first, life and death are mentioned in the end.

3 –

وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ

–  Allah will not waste your Eman [Baqarah 2:143]) eman = prayers.

The muslims changed their Qiblah (direction of prayer from Jerusalem/bayt al Maqdis to Makkah. And the jews said to the Muslims that your prayers will be wasted, so Allah said the above. And He referred to the prayers as Eman.

– Eman rests in our hearts, and so does Salah. These people have salah, but is not in their hearts. So not caring for salah = eman is not strong in their hearts.


– You pray some time and other times you don’t,
– you don’t fulfill the prerequisites/conditions of the Salah,
– you pray like a bird picking up pebbles off the ground (i.e. Pecking on the ground and getting back up quickly from sajdah),
– you wait till the end of the finish of salah (i.e. you want it to end quick).

Falling into any of these makes you of the Saahoown.

This is the person – it doesn’t bother him if he prays or not. He doesn’t make a fuss about if he does not pray.

ۚ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَّوْقُوتًا

Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours. [Nisa’ 4:103]

so we as Muslims have to schedule our daily activities around the Salah.

Sa’d bin Abi Waqas
; (Recorded in al-Bayhaqi) –
those who are heedless – who are they? (ayah 5)

hum aladheena yu akhir-roona salata ‘ala waqtiha they delay the prayer from it’s actual time. (i.e. They wait near the end of the time of prayer and quickly read it then, or they perform all the prayers all at once [i.e. qadha]

[callout font_size=”27px” style=”cherry”]Ayah 6:[/callout]

الَّذِينَ هُمْ يُرَ‌اءُونَ

Alladheena hum yuraa’oon

Those who (do good deeds) only to be seen (of men),

The ayah is perfectly correct without the word Hum (them) being mentioned [because Allah says ‘aladheena’ in the beginning of the ayah, and He also said Yuraa’oon.]

So why is it mentioned?

For strong emphasis 3 times on them. This is Allah’s anger at them.

Aladheena Hum Yuraa’oon.

“You want attention? I’ll give you attention!”
It is extreme anger associated with a curse from before.

Not are they only heedless, but even when they do pray (reluctantly), they show off so they are seen by the people.

The Hum (them) also emphasises ikhtisas (specificness) – that those who are careless in salah/prayer – then their prayer will be abit more ‘proper and correct’ when others are watching them. Maybe abit more slower, more accurate in movements etc.

The disease started in ayah 5 – they did not care about their prayer, they were forgetful of it, and this is why Allah had cursed them and threatened them with approaching destruction.

Advice: Don’t sleep late. Pray on time.

إِنَّ قُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ كَانَ مَشْهُودًا

–  (surely the Qur’an recited at Fajr is witnessed). [Isra’ 17:78]

O Allah, please do not make us of the Saaheen (neglectful of our prayers). Ameen.

salatihim sahoon in regard to their prayers – they are heedless.

Allah said ‘an عن (in regard to), He did not say; fee في  salatihim sahoon (in their prayers they are heedless). This is a mercy from Allah because we are all heedless sometimes within our prayers, and if that was mentioned – we would all be destroyed.

sahwah fis-salah – heedless in the prayer – this would be examples like forgetting how much raka’ah you prayed,or how much sajdahs you performed, or what your wife made for dinner etc.

Salatihim ‘AN sahoon  (which is criticized) is when you’re not sure if you should pray or not. You think you have other plans.

وَإِذَا رَأَوْا تِجَارَةً أَوْ لَهْوًا انفَضُّوا إِلَيْهَا وَتَرَكُوكَ قَائِمًا ۚ قُلْ مَا عِندَ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ مِّنَ اللَّهْوِ وَمِنَ التِّجَارَةِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ

خَيْرُ الرَّازِقِينَ

Say “That which Allah has is better than any amusement or merchandise!
And Allah is the Best of providers.” [Jumu’a 62:11]

And these are the 2 things which mainly distract us from salah/prayer – our job, or our activities for fun.

yuraa’oon – ra’ato see
aRa –  see

Raa’a (mufa’ala) – of two parties to struggle against the other.
They’re trying really hard to be seen while praying.

muRa’aat = show off to show yourself as righteous and pious, but in contrast to what you really are (i.e. you are really; unsincere, showing off etc.) Allah is exposing the Quraysh and their roles in their acts of worship to gain respect by other tribes.

The Quraysh who lookaftered the Ka’bah had to show off in praying – they had to show their spiritual guardianship of the Ka’bah – so they would show off in acts of worship to show others we are the true guardians of this House of worship.

This includes the hypocrites who pretend to be pious, and also the mockery of the prayer of the Quraysh.

إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ وَإِذَا قَامُوا إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ قَامُوا كُسَالَىٰ يُرَاءُونَ النَّاسَ وَلَا

يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

Indeed, the hypocrites [think to] deceive Allah , but He is deceiving them. And when they stand to  pray, they stand lazily, showing [themselves to] the people and not remembering Allah except a little, [Nisa’ 4:142]

Advice on how not to Show Off

: Advice to Muslims for Prayer: Do not leave the nawafil/optional prayers out of shame (of showing off). But don’t show off either.

Other scholars said; Pray the Fard (obligatory prayers) in the Masjid, and the Nawafil (optional) at home. Because you are not showing off at home – you are being a good example to your family.

This is why Allah said; Al Musalleen – everyone is scared and tries to be sincere in their prayers.

Ibn Abbas
said; Minor Shirk [in showing off] which is less apparent than a black ant crawling on a black stone in the darkness of the night.


[callout font_size=”27px” style=”cherry”]Ayah 7:[/callout]

وَيَمْنَعُونَ الْمَاعُونَ

WayamnaAAoona almaAAoon

And refuse Al-Ma’un (small kindnesses)

this ayah is connected to ayah 3 in context.

This surah began with crimes against people, then about crimes against Allah, then again – crimes against people.
People try to separate these things, although they are intertwined – that’s why Allah has placed them together and inseparatable.

you have to be good to the people and good to Allah.
You have to have a balance of a good relationship with Allah and the people.

and they forbid al Ma’oon:

al Ma’oon
some companions of Allah’s Messenger and many scholars said it refers to the obligatory charity of Zakat (2.5% of your wealth per lunar year).

ma’oon – ma’an – something small and insignificant. A loss of it would not harm you.

a thing which people share with each other like a bucket, or a pen. Small things which you do not suffer from or lose if you were to give them.

zakat is so little of our income – it is ma’oon. This is how the sahaba/companions of Prophet Muhammad viewed it.

Ma’oon: That which you cannot possibly be cheap in it I.e. Water.

they are extremely cheap – they forbid even ma’oon. They can’t see a smile on someones face. They think; why should i help you?  i just don’t want to help you.

this is a harsh and hard heart. So even if someone asks you for something small, they say no!

this is how someone can go so low.

are you the leaders who – Allah mentioned in the previous surah – He who gave you food (at’amahum min joo’). Are you not going to give even a little when Allah gave you everything you have?

[callout font_size=”27px” style=”cherry”]Dua:[/callout]

Finally a Du’a/Prayer to Allah:

made a beautiful du’a at the end of this surah’s tafseer;

illaahana (our God who we obey and serve), hadhihi surah fee dhikril munafiqeen, wa soorat alatee ba’da ha fee sifati Muhammadin (sal Allah alayhi wasalam) [and the surah after it which describes the beautiful characteristics of Muhammad (saws) (kawthar),  fanahnu wa in lam naslee fit-taa’ati Muhammad (so if we cannot reach the level of obedience of Muhammad (saws), wa ilaa as-habihee (nor his companions), lam naslee fee al af’ali al qabeeha ilaa ha ulaa ila al munafiqeen. (then do not let us fall so low as the actions of the hypocrites – i.e. Do not let us drop so low as to their disgusting level).

fa’fu anna bi fadlik – ya ar-ham arRahimeen. (so pardon us by your Favour oh Merciful of those who show Mercy).

wa sal Allah ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala aalihi wa sahbihi wasalam.

One of the core teachings in this Deen

The 2 things which will keep your heart soft:

how much you pray (rights of Allah)
how much you give people. (rights of the people).

Measure your Eman (belief) with these measurements. If you are lacking in any of these – especially the prayer/salah – make it a life project.

If our dealings with the orphans, then that should be our project. Maybe we have orphans in the family, or cousins, relatives who you might not even like – but give them if they are in need – to prove to yourself that you are truly doing it for Allah’s sake alone.

O Allah, make our prayers pleasing to you, and do not make us of the Sahoon (heedless in our prayers). O Allah make us the best of people to humanity, and perfect in giving our rights to Allah. Ameen oh Merciful of those who show Mercy.