THE TABI’EEN WERE KNOWN FOR THEIR PROFICIENCY IN TAFSIR
By Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen
Taken from his treatise “Usool fee at-Tafseer” (pg. 40)
Those who were well known for their Proficiency in Tafseer amongst the Taabi’een
There were many amongst the Taabi’een who became well known for their proficiency in Tafseer, amongst whom were:
1. The People of Makkah: They are the followers of Ibn ‘Abbaas (radyAllaahu ‘anhumaa), such as Mujaahid, ‘Ikrimah and ‘Ataa bin Abee Rabaah.
2. The People of Madeenah: They are the followers of Ubay bin Ka’ab (radyAllaahu ‘anhu), such as Zayd bin Aslam, Abul-‘Aaliyah and Muhammad bin Ka’ab Al-Qurtubee.
3. The People of Koofah (in ‘Iraq): They are the followers of Ibn Mas’ood (radyAllaahu ‘anhu), such as Qataadah, ‘Alqamah, and Ash-Sha’abee.
We will provide a biography of the lives of two of these individuals, namely Mujaahid and Qataadah:
Mujaahid: He is Mujaahid bin Jabar al-Makkee, the freed slave of as-Saa’ib bin Abee as-Saa’ib al-Makhzoomee. He was born in 21H and learned the tafseer of the Qur’aan from Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him. Ibn Ishaaq reported from him that he said: “I reviewed the entire mus-haf – from its beginning to its end – with Ibn ‘Abbaas on three separate occasions, stopping at each ayah and asking him about it.”
Sufyaan Ath-Thawree said: “If the interpretation (of an ayah) comes to you from Mujaahid, then it is sufficient for you.”
Ash-Shaafi’ee relied on his tafseer (of the Qur’aan), as did Al-Bukhaaree who quoted often from him in his “Saheeh.” In the last part of his biography of him, Adh-Dhahabee said: “The ummah is in unanimous agreement that Mujaahid is an Imaam and that his tafseer is to be relied on as proof.” He died in Makkah while in the state of prostration in the year 104H at the age of 83.
Qataadah: He was Qataadah bin Di’amah as-Sudoosee al-Basree. He was born blind in the year 61H and strove hard in seeking knowledge. He had very strong memory. This was such that he said about himself: “I never told a Muhaddith (narrator of hadeeth): ‘Repeat that (hadeeth) to me again.’ Nor did my two ears hear anything ever, except that my heart retained it (in memory).”
Imaam Ahmad mentioned him and spoke highly of him at great lengths. He would spread his knowledge and understanding of the differences of opinions and tafseer, and he described him as being strong in memory and possessing great understanding. He said about him: “Rarely do you find anybody placed before him.” And he said: “He is the best at memorizing from the people of Basrah. He did not hear anything except that he memorized it.” He died in the middle of the year 117H while 56 years old.
TAFSEER SURAH AL-KAWTHAR BY IBN TAYMIYYAH
Translated by Abu Talhah Dawud ibn Ronald Burbank
In the Name of Allaah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy indeed, We have granted you, O Muhammad (saw), al-Kawthar So turn in Prayer and sacrifice to your Lord (alone) Certainly the one who bears hatred towards you is the one severed from all good. (Surah Al-Kawthar 108:1-3)
al-Imaam, Shaykh al-Islaam, Abul-‘Abbas Ahmad ibn ‘Abdul-Haleem IBN TAYMIYYAH (d.728 ah) raheemahullaahu, said: “What a splendid Surah is Surah al-Kawthar! How abundant are its benefits, even though it is short in length. The reality of its meaning is known from its ending, where Allaah, the One free from all imperfections and the Most High, severs (1) the one having hatred for His Messenger from all good.
So Allaah severs and deprives him of his renown, his family and his wealth, such that he loses all of that in the Hereafter. He also dispossesses him of his life such that he does not benefit from it and does not use it to acquire righteous deeds for his life in the Hereafter. He severs his heart so that it cannot recognise any good, and he does not enable it to come to know Him and to love Him and to truly believe in His Messengers. He severs his deeds such that he does not act in obedience to Allaah. He deprives him of helpers, such that no helper or anyone to assist him is to be found for him. He deprives him of every means of seeking nearness to Allaah, and of all righteous deeds, so he does not taste them, and does not relish their sweetness even if he outwardly performed them — his heart is a fugitive, fleeing and averse to them.
All of this is the recompense for one who has hatred for a part of that which the Messenger (saw) came with, and so refuses to accept it due to desires, or due to his followers, or his shaikh, or his leader or his elders.
Just as is the case with those who have hatred for the aayahs affirming Allaah’s attributes (sifaat) and the ahaadeeth affirming Allaah’s attributes: those who interpret them away with ta’weel to something else other than what Allaah and His Messenger meant by them, or those who take them to mean that which agrees with their own position (madhab), and the position held by their own faction; or those who wish that the aayahs affirming Allaah’s Attributes had never been sent down, and that Allaah’s Messenger (Saw) had not uttered the ahaadeeth affirming Allaah’s attributes.
So from the strongest signs that a person detests and has hatred for these texts is that when he hears them being used as a proof by the People of the Sunnah for the truth that they indicate – he recoils in horro from that, he contends and he flees from it. This is due to the hatred in his heart for them, and his aversion for them (2). So what hatred towards the Messenger (saw) can be greater than this?!
Likewise those who listen to music and singing, those who dance about upon hearing singing, lyrical poems, the beating of the daff, and the playing of the flute. Yet when they hear the Qur’aan recited and read in their gatherings they find it tiresome and a burden. So what hatred can be greater than this?!
Then upon this basis you may gauge the rest of the factions in this regard. Likewise those who give preference to the speech and understandings of men over the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. If it had not been the case that they had hatred for that which the Messenger (saw) came with, they wouldn’t have done this. Their affair reaches the extent that some of them forget the Qur’aan, after having memorised it, and are preoccupied with the saying of so and so, and so and so.
But the most severe in hatred and rejection of it are those who disbelieve in it, deny it wilfully, and declare it to be just stories of the ancients and a form of magic. Such people are worse, and more severely cut off. But everyone who has any hatred or aversion for him (saw) will receive their due share of this severance, in accordance with the level of their hatred and aversion to him (saw). So because of the hatred and enmity of those people towards him (saw), Allaah repaid them by causing everything good to be against them and by cutting them off from it.
Whereas He favoured His Prophet (saw) with the opposite of that, in that He granted Him al-Kawthar – that is the abundant good which Allaah gave to him in this life and in the hereafter.
So from that which He granted him in this life is: guidance, victory, help, coolness of the eyes and the soul, that his breast was expanded for the favourable acceptance of the truth that his heart found such delight in the remembrance of Allaah and in love of Him that no wordly delight could ever resemble it. As for what He grants him in the Hereafter, then it is: the highest place in Paradise (al-Waseelah -3), the praiseworthy position and right to intercede (al-Maqaam al-Mahmood -4), and that He made him the first one for homw, and for whose ummah, the gate of Paradise will be opened, and He will give him the “Banner of Praise” (Liwaa’ul-Hamd -5), and the tremendous lake (al-Hawd -6) — and so on at the time of the Resurrection; and He made all the believers as if they are his children, and he a father to them. Contrary to the state of the one who is severed, the one who hates him and hates that which he came with. So his Saying — “Innaa shaani’aka” — means “He who has hatred towards you…” and –“al-abtar” — “severed/cut off..” is the one whose offspring are severed, the one who does not produce any good, nor any righteous action. So nothing good and no righteous deeds proceed from him.
Footnotes to Part 1
- (1) The verb “batara” – to cut off, sever, amputate; and from it: abtar: one cut off
- (2) See “Usool as-Sunnah” of Imaam Ahmed and its appendices, pp.15-16, ‘Abdullaah ibn Ahmad reports in as-Sunnah (no. 535), “I heard Abu Ma’mar al-Hudhalee say, “Whoever claims that Allaah, azza wa jall, does not speak, nor Hear, nor See, nor become Angry, nor br Pleased (and he mentioned some attributes) — then he is a disbeliever in Allaah, azza wa jall. If you see him standing by a well, throw him into it. This is what I hold as my religion before Allaah, azza wa jall, since those people are disbelievers in Allaah, ta’ala”. (see also pp.114-128 and 172-178 of the same book)(3) al-Bukhaari reports in his Saheeh, in the Book of Adhaan, chapter, The Supplication at the Time of Adhaan (vol.1 no.538). From Jaabir ibn ‘Abdullaah (ra) who said, “Allaah’s Messenger (saw) said, “Whoever after hearing the mu’adhdhin says, “O Allaah! Lord of this perfect call and the prayer that is to be established! Give to Muhammad the highest place in Paradise (al-Waseelah), and the praiseworthy position and right to intercede (al-Maqaam al-Mahmood) which You promised for him on the Day of Resurrection””. And Muslim reports in his Saheeh from ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (ra) that he heard the Prophet (saw) say, “When you hear the mu’adhdhin, then say the same as he says. Then invoke blessings (salaat) upon me — because whoever invokes a single blessing upon me, then Allaah will bless him ten times because of it. Then ask Allaah to grant me al-Waseelah”, because it is a position in Paradise befitting only one of Allaah’s servants, and I hope to be that one. So whoever asks that “al-Waseelah” be given to me, then my intercession will be permitted for him”.
- (4) al-Bukhaari reports in his Saheeh in the Book of Tafseer, Chapter: the Statement of Allah “Your Lord will raise you to a position of praise”. From Ibn ‘Umar (ra) who said, “On the Day of Resurrection, the people will fall upon their knees. Every people will follow their Prophet saying, “O so and so! Intercede!” Until the right to intercede is given to the Prophet (saw). So that is the day when Allaah will raise him to the praise worthy position of al-Maqaama al-Mahmood”. AtTabaree said in his tafseer (15/143-4), “Most of the scholars say that it (al-Maqaama al-Mahmood) is the position that he (saw) will take on the Day of Resurrection to intercede for the people that their Lord relieves them from the terrible condition they are in on that Day”.
- (5) at-Tirmidhee reports in his Sunan (no. 3875) from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (ra) who said, “Allaah’s Messenger (saw) said, “I am the noblest of the children of Aadam on the Day of Resurrection – and that is no boast. And in my hand will be the Banner of Praise (Liwaa’ul-Hamd) — and that is no boast. And there will be no Prophet on that Day, Aadam and everyone besides him, except that they will be under my banner. And I will be the first person for whom the earth will be opened — and that is no boast””. (saheeh by Sh. al-Albaani, see Saheeh Sunan it-Tirmidhee no.2859)
- (6) al-Bukhaari reports in his Saheeh (vol.8, no.58) from ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr (ra) who said, “The Prophet (saw) said, “My Lake is such that it takes a month’s journey to cross it. Its water is whiter than milk. Its smell is better than musk. Its drinking cups are as numerous as the stars of the sky. Whoever drinks from it will be never thirsty”.
It was said to Abu Bakr ibn ‘Ayyaash (7), “There are some people sitting in the mosque, and the people are sitting with them”. So he said, “Whoever sits for the people, then the people will sit with him. But the people of the Sunnah die and their renown lives on, whereas the people of innovation die and their renown dies along with them. Because the people of the Sunnah revive that which the Messenger (saw) came with, so they receive a share of His Saying: Wa rafa3naa laka dhikrak — “We have raised high your renown”. (94:4)
But the people of innovation have hatred for that which the Messenger (saw) came with, so they receive a share of His Saying: Innaa shaani’aka huwa al-abtar — “He who has hatred towards you will be severed” (108:3) So beware! Beware, O man, of having aversion to anything which the Messenger (saw) came with, and of refusing it due to your desires, or due to supporting your madhhab, or your Shaykh, or because of your preoccupation with desires, or with the wordly life. Because Allaah has not obligated obedience to any individual, except for obedience to His Messenger, and that they should accept everything he came with.
So if a servant disobeyed all of the creation, but followed the Messenger (saw) obediently, then Allaah would not ask him about his having disobeyed anybody. Since anyone else who obeys, or is obeyed, is only obeyed subject to and following on from obedience to the Messenger. If he commands anything contrary to what the Messenger commanded he will not be obeyed. Know this, pay attention to it, be obedient and adhere to the way of the Messenger (saw). Do not innovate and so be one severed from good, and so have your deeds rejected.
Indeed there is no good in a deed that is severed from adherence to the way of the Messenger, and there is no good in the one doing it, and Allaah knows best. (8)
The saying of Allaah ta’ala: “Indeed We have granted you, O Muhammad (saw), al-Kawthar” indicated an abundant bestowal given by One Who is Tremendous, Rich and All-Encompassing, and that He is Exalted and Most High, and that His Angels and hosts/army are along with Him.
He began the aayah with “Innaa” that indicated emphasis and that the information conveyed is something certain. The verb occurs in the past tense, indicating the certainty of its coming about and that it is something firmly established and that will happen. The announcement of it will not enable it to be prevented, because the granting of al-Kawthar is something that has preceded in the original Pre-Decree (al-Qadr) when whatever is to occur for the creation was decreed – fifty thousand years before they were created. (9) Then as for that (bestowal) which carries the description of its being abundant, then it is left unspecified in order to emphasise its comprehensiveness. But Allaah, the Perfect and Most High, mentioned its description, saying: “Innaa ‘ataynaaka-l-kawthar”
So He described it as being al-Kawthar (abundant). Then the Kawthar that is well-known is a river in Paradise as is mentioned in the clear and authentic ahadeeth (10). Also Ibn ‘Abbas (11) said, “al-Kawthar is the abundant good which Allaah gave to him”. (12)
So since it is the case that the person with the least out of all the people of Paradise will have therein the like of the whole world ten times over (13), then what do you think that which Allaah has prepared for His Messenger(saw) in it will be??!
So al-Kawthar is an indication of the abundance of good things that Allaah has prepared for him, and of their continuance and increase, and their eminence and elevation, and that the river that is al-Kawthar is the greatest of the rivers of Paradise, and the purest in its water, the most pleasant-tasting, the sweetest and the highest. This is shown by the fact that He introduces it with the definite article (i.e. AL-Kawthar). This indicates perfection and completeness of that which is named, just as you would say, “Zayd AL-Aalim” (ie Zayd THE scholar), and “Zayd Al-Shujaa'” (Zayd THE Brave), meaning “There is no one more knowledgeable nor anyone braver than him”. Likewise His saying, “Innaa ‘ataynaaka al-Kawthar” shows that He granted him all good, granting it fully and abundantly. Then even though some of his Ummah attain a part of that, then what they attain is due to the blessing of their complying with and following him. Yet he (saw) will receive the same reward, without anything been reduced from the reward of the one who followed him. (14) So there lies in this an indication that Allaah, the Most High, will grant him (saw)in Paradise (extra reward) to the degree of the rewards attained by his whole Ummah, without anything being reduced from their rewards. This is because he was the cause for their becoming guided and their becoming saved.
Therefore it is right – indeed it is a binding duty – that the servant complies with and follows him, and adheres to what he commanded, and increases in righteous and correct action, in fasting, prayer, giving sadaqah and tazkeeyah, so that he (saw) should receive similar reward for that. Because if a person falls into committing forbidden acts, then the Messenger (saw) will miss reward equivalent to the reward for that good which the person left. Then if a person commits forbidden acts and along with that leaves what has been commanded, then his burden of sin grows and his salvation becomes harder, due to his taking on the burden of that which he was forbidden from and his leaving what he was commanded. If, however, he performs what he has been commanded with, but also commits what has been forbidden, then he will enter amongst those for whom the Messenger (saw) will intercede. This is because he (saw) will attain a reward equal to that good which the person did.
So it is to Allaah that the creation will return, and their accounting is with Him. And He knows best about their condition – the condition of all His servants. So his (saw) intercession is for those of his Ummah guilty of committing major sins. As for the doer of good, then his righteousness was due to Allaah’s granting him that. And as for the evil doer, then there is no proof for him, nor any excuse.
- (7) He was the Shaykh of Islaam, the faqeeh, the Muhaddith, and he lived in Kufah. Ibn al-Mubaarak said, “I have not seen anyone quicker upon the Sunnah than him”. He died in the year 193AH, see Tadhkiratul-Huffaadh of adh-Dhahabee 1/265
- (8) Muslim reports in his Saheeh, in the Book of Judgements, from ‘A’ishah (ra) that Allaah’s Messenger (saw) said, “Whoever does an action that does not conform to our affair, then it is rejected”.
- (9) Muslim reports in his Saheeh, in the Book of Pre-Decree from ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Aas (ra) who said, “I heard Allaah’s Messenger (saw) say, “Allaah wrote the ordained measure of all created beings, before He created the Heavens and the earth by fifty thousand years.” And he said, “And His Throne was over the water”.
- (10) al-Bukhaaree reports in his Saheeh (vol.8, no. 583) from Anas (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said, “Whilst I was walking in Paradise I came to a river. On its two banks were tents made of hollow pearls. I said, “What is this, O Jibreel?” He said, “This is the Kawthar that your Lord has granted you”. Behold its scent (or its mud) was sweet-smelling musk””.
- (11) ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Abbas (ra) the famous Companion and cousin of the Prophet (saw) known as the “Great Scholar of the Ummaah”, and the “Explainer of the Qur’aan”. The Prophet (saw) supplicated for him, saying, “O Allaah! Grant him knowledge of the Book”. Reported by al-Bukhaaree in his Saheeh in the Book of Knowledge.
- (12) Reported by al-Bukhaaree in his Saheeh, the book of ar-Riqaaq, Chapter 53: Regarding the Lake, eng. trans. vol.8,no. 580
- (13) As narrated by Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (ra) from the Prophet (saw). See Saheeh al-Bukhaaree, eng. trans. vol. 9, no. 532a, and Muslim, Eng. trans. vol.1, no.361 and no.s 359-361.
What is intended is that al-Kawthar is a river in Paradise, and it is also the abundant good that Allaah grants to His Messenger (saw) in this world and the hereafter. And this is other than the reward of his Ummah, right up to the Day of Resurrection. So everybody who recited, learns some knowledge, performs a righteous deed, teaches someone else, gives sadaqah, fights jihaad, guards the frontier, repents, has patience, relies upon Allaah, or attains one of the desirable states of the heart, such as fear, awe, knowledge and awareness of Allaah and so on – then he (saw) will receive the same reward as that person, without anything being reduced from the reward of that individual, and Allaah knows best.
Then in His Saying: Fa-sallee li-rabbika wa-anhar — So Turn in Prayer and Sacrifice to Your Lord (alone). Allaah commands him to gather these two very great types of worship: the Prayer and the Sacrifice. Each of these shows a persons seeking to draw closer to Allaah, his humility, poverty before Him, his good thoughts about Him and the strength of his certain faith. They also show that his heart is at peace with Allaah, and with His promise, His orders, His beneficence and His grant of good.
This is contrary to the state of the people of arrogance, aversion and those who think they have no need of Allaah. Those who feel that they have no need to ask of their Lord by praying to Him and making requests to Him. Those who do not perform sacrifices for Him for fear of poverty, who abandon helping the needy and providing them with food and at the same time bear evil thoughts about their Lord. Therefore Allaah, ta’ala, combined them both in His Saying: “Say All my prayers, sacrifices, my living, and my dying are for Allaah, the Nourisher, and Lord of all of the Creation”. (6:162)
So what is meant is that the Prayer and the Sacrifice are the most excellent means of drawing closer to Allaah, since they are introduced here with the “faa” that shows result or effect. Thus performing Prayer and the Sacrifice is a means of establishing the thanks due to Allaah for that which He granted to him, i.e. for al-Kawthar and the abundant good. The greatest way of giving thanks to the One Who Bestowed that blessing upon him is by performing these two types of worship. Indeed the Prayer is the limit of worship and the highest goal. Thus it is as if He by His saying “Fa sallee li-rabbika wa-anhar” is saying, “We have granted you abundant good, and have blessed you with that cause of your establishing those two forms of worship for Us, out of thanks for Our giving you that blessing. Such that these two are the cause of Our blessing you with that good. Therefore establish them for Us”. So the Prayer and the Sacrifice are encircled by a grant of blessing that precedes them, and a grant of blessing that follows on from them.
Also it is the case that the finest of the types of worship involving the giving of ones wealth is the Sacrifice and the finest of the bodily worships is the Prayer. That which unites together for the servant in his Prayer is such that it does not unite together for him in any other worship, and this will be known by those whose hearts are alive and who have the highest desire. Furthermore that which unites together for the one making the Sacrifice: his giving preference and precedence to Allaah, his good thoughts about Allaah, the strength of his certain faith, and his trusting in that which lies in Allaah’s Hand is a truly amazing affair, if that is combined with correct and true faith (eemaan) and with making one’s worship purely and sincerely for Allaah (al-Ikhlaas).
So the Prophet (saw) carried out the command of his Lord and was one who frequently prayed to His Lord and performed the Sacrifice many times, to the extent that in the Farewell Pilgrimage he sacrificed sixty-three animals with his own hand (15), and he would sacrifice at the time of the ‘eids and at other times.
In His Saying “Fa sallee li-rabbika wa-anhar” there is an indication that you should not grieve over anything from this worldly life, just as is mentioned at the end of Suraah Taa Haa and al-Hijr, and in other places. It also contains an indication that one should abandon having the people as the focus of ones attention and leave off worrying about what you meet with or receive from them. Rather you should pray to your Lord and sacrifice to Him. It also alludes to the state of the one severed from all good, the bearer of aversion and hatred, the one whose Prayers and Sacrifice are performed for other than Allaah.
In His Saying “Innaa shaaniaka huwa al-abtar” There are a number of grammatical forms of emphasis Firstly, that the sentence begins with “innaa”. Secondly, use of the disconnected personal pronoun (i.e. “huwa”, he) which shows the strength for the connection and its being particular to him (i.e., “The one who hated you, HE IT IS, that is the one severed from all good”). Thirdly, the conclusion of the sentance occurs in the superlative form, not just the form of one passively carrying the action of the verb. Fourthly, the concluding word, “al-abtar”, carries the “al” that shows that this is characteristic is his attribute in its entirety, and that he has more right to it (i.e, being severed from all good) than anybody else.
Similar to it in the form of emphasis is the saying of Allaah: La takhaf innaka anta al-‘a3laa — “Fear not, certainly you, O Musa, will be the one who has the upper hand” (20:68)
Also from its fine and delicate points of benefit is the way in which one’s attention is turned by His Saying – Fa sallee li-rabbika wa-anhar – to show that your Lord is the one Who is alone in deserving that, and that it is fully appropriate that you should direct your worship to Him (alone), and should make the Sacrifice for Him. And Allaah Knows Best.”
- (15) Muslim reports in the long hadeeth of Jaabir (ra) about the Hajj of the Prophet (saw) in the Book of Hajj, Chapter 19 “.. then he (saw) went to the place of sacrifice and sacrificed sixty three animals with his own hand. Then he gave the knife to ‘Alee and he sacrificed what remained…”
- (14) Muslim reports in his saheeh in the book of Leadership, from Abu Mas’ud al-Ansaari (ra) that Allaah’s Messenger (saw) said, “Whoever guides to some good will receive the same reward as its doer”.
EXPLANATION OF SURAH KAFIRUN (THE DISBELIEVERS)
Tafseer Ibn Katheer
Translated & Abridged by Sameh Strauch
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful Say: “Oh, you who disbelieve! I do not worship that which you worship, Nor do you worship That Which I worship. Nor will I worship that which you have been worshipping, Neither will you worship That Which I worship. To you your religion and to me mine.”
It is narrated by Muslim that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam used to recite this Soorah with Soorah al-Ikhlaas in two rak`ahs following tawaaf of the Ka`bah; it is also narrated by Muslim that he used to recite them in the two rak`ahs of fajr prayer; and Imam Ahmad narrates that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam used to recite them in the two rak`ahs before fajr prayer and in the two rak`ahs of maghrib prayer.
It has also been narrated that Soorah al-Kaafiroon is equivalent to one quarter of the Qur’aan. The Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, also said: “Read: Say: ‘Oh, you who disbelieve,’, then sleep at the end of it because it is freedom from shirk (associating partners with Allah).” This Soorah is freedom from shirk and it is an order to purify our faith (for Allah only) and the Words
It was said that they proposed that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, worship their gods for a year, then they would worship that which he worshipped (Allah) for a year, and so on. And so this Soorah was revealed containing an order to the Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam to declare his rejection of all that which they worship, and to say:
I do not worship that which you worship, that is, their idols and the partners they associate with Allah.
Nor do you worship That Which I worship, that is, Allah, Alone without partners.
Nor will I worship that which you have been worshipping neither will you worship That Which I worship, that is, I will not follow your mode of worship and I will worship only Allah in the way which pleases Him.
Neither will you worship That Which I worship means, neither will you follow the Commands of Allah and His prescribed way of worship; indeed you have invented a thing for yourselves, as in his Words:
They follow nothing but their own opinions and the [vain] desires of themselves, and Guidance has already come to them from their Lord (Soorah an-Najm 53:23).
And so he rejected all of their shirk, for the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, and all those who follow him worship Allah in the way prescribed by Him; for this reason the testimony of the Muslim is Laa ilaha ill Allah, Muhammadur-Rasoolullah – None is worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
And there is no way to worship Him except that which was brought by the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam. The polytheists worship deities besides Allah in a way not permitted by Allah and so He told the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam to say to them: To you your religion and to me mine, as in His Words:
According to al-Bukhaari [your religion] means kufr (disbelief) and [my religion] means Islaam. Abu `Abdillah Ash-Shaafi`i says that the verse To you your religion and to me mine shows that the disbelievers are one people, because disbelief in all its many manifestations has one thing in common – that is, falsity.
This is the end of the tafseer of Soorah al-Kaafiroon, all praise is due to Allah and from Him proceeds all Grace.
Al-Tirmidhi Hadith – Hadith 2157. Narrated by Ma’qil ibn Yasar: The Prophet said, “If anyone says three times in the morning, ‘I seek refuge in Allah, the Hearer and Knower, from the accursed devil’, and recites three verses at the end of surat al-Hashr, Allah will put in charge of him seventy thousand angels who will invoke blessings on him till the evening, and if he dies that day he will die as a martyr. If anyone says them in the evening he will be in that rank.”
Surah Hashr (The Gathering) 59:22-24
“He is Allah, beside whom none has the right to be worshipped but He, all All-Knower of the seen and unseen. He is the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. He is Allah, beside whom none has the right to be worshipped but He, the King, the Holy, the One Free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, the All-Mighty, the Compeller, the Supreme. Glory is to Allah! High is He above all that they associate as partners with Him. He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor of all things, the Bestower of forms. To Him belong the Best Names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorify Him. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise”
Huwallaa-hullazii laaa’ilaaha ‘illaa Huu. Aalim ul gaybi wa shahaadah. Huwa Rahmaan ur-Rahiim. Huwallaa-hullazii laaa’ilaaha ‘illaa Huu. Al-Malik ul-Qudduusu Salaam ul-Mu’min ul-Muhaymin ul-Aziiz ul-Jabbaar ul-Mutakabbir. Subhaanallaahi ‘ammaa yushrikuun. Huwa laahul Khaaliq ul-Baari ul-Musawwiru lahul Asmaaa ul-Husnaa. Yusabbihu lahuu maa fis-samaawaati wal’arz. Wa Huwa al-Aziiz ul-Hakiim.
Syed Abu-Ala’ Maududi’s Chapter Introductions to the Quran
Name: Hashr (59: 1-24)
The Surah derives its name from the mention of the word al-hashr in verse thereby implying that it is the Surah in which the word al-hashr has occurred.
Period of Revelation
Bukhari and Muslim contain a tradition from Hadrat Sa’id bin Jubair to the effect “When I asked Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas about Surah Al-Hashr, he reptied that it was sent down concerning the battle against the Bani an-Nadir just as Surah Al-Anfal was sent down concerning the Battle of Badr. In another tradition from Hadrat Sa’Id bin Jubair, the words cited from Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) are: Qul: surah an-Nadir: Say, it is Surah an-Nadir.” The same thing has been related also from Mujahid, Qatadah, Zuhri, Ibn Zaid, Yazid bin Ruman, Muhammad bin Ishaq and others. They are unanimous that the followers of the Book whose banishinent has been mentioned in it, imply the Bani an-Nadir. Yazid bin Ruman, Mujahid and Muhammad bin Ishaq have stated that this whole Surah, from beginning to end, came down concerning this very battle.
As for the question as to when this battle took place, Imam Zuhri has stated on the authority of Urwah bin Zubair that it took place six months after the Battle of Badr. However, Ibn Sa’d, Ibn Hisham and Baladhuri regard it as an event of Rabi’ al-Awwal, A.H. 4, and the same is correct. For all traditions agree that this battle took place after the incident of Bi’r Ma’unah, and historically also it is well known that the incident of Bir Ma’unah occurred after the Battle of Uhud and not before it.
In order to understand the subject matter of this Surah well, it is necessary to have a look at the history of the Madinah and Hejaz Jews, for without it one cannot know precisely the real causes of the Holy Prophet’s dealing with their different tribes the way he did.
No authentic history of the Arabian Jews exists in the world. They have not left any writing of their own in the form of a book or a tablet which might throw light on their past, nor have the Jewish historians and writers of the non-Arab world made any mention of them, the reason being that after their settlement in the Arabian peninsula they had detached themselves from the main body of the nation, and the Jews of the world did not count them as among themselves. For they had given up Hebrew culture and language, even the names, and adopted Arabism instead. In the tablets that have been unearthed in the archaeological research in the Hejaz no trace of the Jews is found before the first century of the Christian era, except for a few Jewish names. Therefore, the history of the Arabian Jews is based mostly on the verbal traditions prevalent among the Arabs most of which bad been spread by the Jews themselves.
The Jews of the Hejaz claimed that they had come to settle in Arabia during the last stage of the life of the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him). They said that the Prophet Moses had despatched an army to expel the Amalekites from the land of Yathrib and had commanded it not to spare even a single soul of that tribe. The Israelite army carried out the Prophet’s command, but spared the life of a handsome prince of the Amalekite king and returned with him to Palestine. By that time the Prophet Moses had passed sway. His successors took great exception to what the army had done, for by sparing the life of an Amalekite it had clearly disobeyed the Prophet and violated the Mosaic law. Consequently, they excluded the army from their community, and it had to return to Yathrib and settle there for ever.(Kitab al-Aghani, vol. xix, p. 94). Thus the Jews claimed that they had been living in Yathrib since about 1200 B.C. But, this had in fact no historical basis and probably the Jews had invented this story in order to overawe the Arabs into believing that they were of noble lineage and the original inhabitants of the land.
The second Jewish immigration, according to the Jews, took, place in 587 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzer, the king of Babylon, destroyed Jerusalem and dispersed the Jews throughout the world. The Arab Jews said that several of their tribes at that time had come to settle in Wadi al-Qura, Taima, and Yathrib.(Al-Baladhuri, Futuh al-Buldan). But this too has no historical basis. By this also they might have wanted to prove that they were the original settlers of the area.
As a matter of fact, what is established is that when in A.D. 70 the Romans massacred the Jews in Palestine, and then in A.D. 132 expelled them from that land, many of the Jewish tribes fled to find an asylum in the Hejaz, a territory that was contiguous to Palestine in the south. There, they settled wherever they found water springs and greenery, and then by intrigue and through money lending business gradually occupied the fertile lands. Ailah, Maqna, Tabuk, Taima, Wadi al Qura, Fadak and Khaiber came under their control in that very period, and Banl Quraizah, Bani al-Nadir, Bani Bahdal, and Bani Qainuqa also came in the same period and occupied Yathrib.
Among the tribes that settled in Yathrib the Bani al Nadir and the Bani Quraizah were more prominent for they belonged to the Cohen or priest class. They were looked upon as of noble descent and enjoyed religious leadership among their co-religionists. When they came to settle in Madinah there were some other tribes living there before, whom they subdued and became practically the owners of this green and fertile land. About three centuries later, in A. D. 450 or 451, the great flood of Yaman occurred which has been mentioned in vv. 16-17 of Surah Saba above. As a result of this different tribes of the people of Saba were compelled to leave Yaman and disperse in different parts of Arabia. Thus, the Bani Ghassan went to settle in Syria, Bani Lakhm in Hirah (Iraq), Bani Khuzaah between Jeddah and Makkah and the Aus and the Khazraj went to settle in Yathrib. As Yathrib was under Jewish domination, they at first did not allow the Aus and the Khazraj to gain a footing and the two Arab tribes had to settle on lands that had not yet been brought under cultivation, where they could hardly produce just enough to enable them to survive. At last, one of their chiefs went to Syria to ask for the assistance of their Ghassanide brothers; he brought an army from there and broke the power of the Jews. Thus, the Aus and the Khazraj were able to gain complete dominance over Yathrib, with the result that two of the major Jewish tribes, Bani an-Nadir and Bani Quraizaha were forced to take quarters outside the city. Since the third tribe, Bani Qainuqa, was not on friendly terms with the other two tribes, it stayed inside the city as usual, but had to seek protection of the Khazraj tribe. As a counter measure to this Bani an-Nadir and Bani Quraizah took protection of the Aus tribe so that they could live in peace in the suburbs of Yathrib.
Before the Holy Prophet’s arrival at Madinah until his emigration the following were the main features of the Jews’ position in Hejaz in general and in Yathrib in particular
In the matter of language, dress, civilization and way of life they had completely adopted Arabism, even their names had become Arabian. Of the 12 Jewish tribes that had settled in Hejaz, none except the Bani Zaura retained its Hebrew name. Except for a few scattered scholars none knew Hebrew. In fact, there is nothing in the poetry of the Jewish poets of the pre-Islamic days to distinguish it from the poetry of the Arab poets in language, ideas and themes. They even intermarried with the Arabs. In fact, nothing distinguished them from the common Arabs except religion. Notwithstanding this, they had not lost their identity among the Arabs and had kept their Jewish prejudice alive most ardently and jealously. They had adopted superficial Arabism bccause they could not survive in Arabia without it.
Because of this Arabism the western orientalists have been misled into thinking that perhaps they were not really Israelites but Arabs who had embraced Judaism, or that at least majority of them consisted of the Arab Jews. But there is no historical proof to show that the Jews ever engaged in any proselytizing activities in Hejaz, or their rabbis invited the Arabs to embrace Judaism like the Christian priests and missionaries. On the contrary, we see that they prided themselves upon their Israelite descent and racial prejudices. They called the Arabs the Gentiles, which did not mean illiterate or uneducated but savage and uncivilized people. They believed that the Gentiles did not possess any human rights; these were only reserved for the Israelites, and therefore, it was lawful and right for the Israelites to defraud them of their properties by every fair and foul means. Apart from the Arab chiefs, they did not consider the common Arabs fit enough to have equal status with them even if they entered Judaism. No historical proof is available, nor is there any evidence in the Arabian traditions, that some Arab tribe or prominent clan might have accepted Judaism. However, mention has been made of some individuals, who had become Jews. The Jews, however, were more interested in their trade and business than in the preaching of their religion. That is why Judaism did not spread as a religion and creed in Hejaz but remained only as a mark of pride and distinction of a few Israelite tribes. The Jewish rabbis, however, had a flourishing business in granting amulets and charms, fortune telling and sorcery, because of which they were held in great awe by the Arabs for their “knowledge” and practical wisdom.
Economically they were much stronger than the Arabs. Since they had emigrated from more civilized and culturally advanced countries of Palestine and Syria, they knew many such arts as were unknown to the Arabs; they also enjoyed trade relations with the outside world. Hence, they had captured the business of importing grain in Yathrib and the upper Hejaz and exporting dried dates to other countries. Poultry farming and fishing also were mostly under their controls. They were good at cloth weaving too. They had also set up wine shops here and there, where they sold wine which they imported from Syria. The Bani Qainuqa generally practised crafts such as that of the goldsmith, blacksmith and vessel maker. In all these occupations, trade and business these Jews earned exorbitant profits, but their chief occupation was trading in money lending in which they had ensnared the Arabs of the surrounding areas. More particularly the chiefs and elders of the Arab tribes who were given to a life of pomp, bragging and boasting on the strength of borrowed money were deeply indebted to them. They lent money on high rates of interest and then would charge compound intrest, which one could hardly clear off once one was involved in it. Thus, they had rendered the Arbas economicaIly hollow, but it had naturally induced a deep rooted hatred among the common Arabs against the Jews.
The demand of their trade and economic interests was that they should neither estrange one Arab tribe by befriending another, nor take part in their mutual wars. But, on the other hand, it was also in their interests, that they should not allow the Arabs to be united and should keep them fighting and entrenched against each other, for they knew that whenever the Arab tribes united, they would not allow them to remain in possession of their 1arge properties, gardens and fertile lands, which they had come to own through their profiteering and money lending business. Furthermore, each of their tribes also had to enter into alliance with one or another powerful Arab tribe for the sake of its own protection so that no other powerful tribe should overawe it by its might. Because of this they had not only to take part in the mutual wars of the Arabs but they often had to go to war in support of the Arab tribe to which their tribe was tied in alliance against another Jewish tribe which was allied to the enemy tribe. In Yathrib the Bani Quraizah and the Bani an-Nadir were the allies of the Aus while the Bani Qainuqa of the Khazraj. A little before the Holy Prophet’s emigration, these Jewish tribes had confronted each other in support of their respective allies in the bloody war that took place between the Aus and the Khazraj at Buath.
Such were the conditions when Islam came to Madinah, and ultimately an Islamic State came into existence after the Holy Prophet’s (upon whom be Allah’s peace) arrival there. One of the first things that he accomplished soon after establishing this state was unification of the Aus and the Khazraj and the Emigrants into a brotherhood, and the second was that he concluded a treaty between the Muslims and the Jews on definite conditions, in which it was pledged that neither party would encroach on the rights of the other, and both would unite in a joint defence against the external enemies. Some important clauses of this treaty are as follows, which clearly show what the Jews and the Muslims had pledged to adhere to in their mutual relationship:
“The Jews must bear their expenses and the Muslims their expenses. Each must help the other against anyone who attacks the people of this document. They must seek mutual advice and consultation, and loyalty is a protection against treachery. They shall sincerely wish one another well. Their relations will be governed by piety and recognition of the rights of others, and not by sin and wrongdoing. The wronged must be helped. The Jews must pay with the believers so long as the war lasts. Yathrib shall be a sanctuary for the people of this document. If any dispute or controversy likely to cause trouble should arise, it must be referred to God and to Muhammad the Apostle of God; Quraish and their helpers shall not be given protection. The contracting parties are bound to help one another against any attack on Yathrib; Every one shall be responsible for the defence of the portion to which he belongs” (lbn Hisham, vol. ii, pp. 147 to 150).
This was on absolute and definitive covenant to the conditions of which the Jews themselves had agreed. But not very long after this they began to show hostility towards the Holy Prophet of Allah (upon whom be Allah’s peace) and Islam and the Muslims, and their hostility and perverseness went on increasing day by day. Its main causes were three:
First, they envisaged the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) merely as a chief of his people, who should be content to have concluded a political agreement with them and should only concern himself with the worldly interests of his group. But they found that he was extending an invitation to belief in Allah and the Apostleship and the Book (which also included belief in their own Prophets and scriptures), and was urging the people to give up disobedience of Allah and adopt obedience to the Divine Commands and abide by the moral laws of their own prophets. This they could not put up with. They feared that if this universal ideological movement gained momentum it would destroy their rigid religiosity and wipe out their racial nationhood.
Second, when they saw that the Aus and the Khazraj and the Emigrants were uniting into a brotherhood and the people from the Arab tribes of the surrounding areas, who entered Islam, were also joining this Islamic Brotherhood of Madinah and forming a religious community, they feared that the selfish policy that they had been following of sowing discord between the Arab tribes for the promotion of their own well being and interests for centuries, would not work in the new system, but they would face a united front of the Arabs against which their intrigues and machinations would not succeed.
Third, the work that the Holy Messenger of Allah (upon whom be Allah’s peace) was carrying out of reforming the society and civilization included putting an end to all unlawful methods in business and mutual dealings. More than that; he had declared taking and giving of interest also as impure and unlawful earning. This caused them the fear that if his rule became established in Arabia, he would declare interest legally forbidden, and in this they saw their own economic disaster and death.
For these reasons they made resistance and opposition to the Holy Prophet their national ideal. They would never hesitate to employ any trick and machination, any device and cunning, to harm him. They spread every kind of falsehood so as to cause distrust against him in the people’s minds. They created every kind of doubt, suspicion and misgiving in the hearts of the new converts so as to turn them back from Islam. They would make false profession of Islam and then would turn apostate so that it may engender more and more misunderstandings among the people against Islam and the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace). They would conspire with the hypocrites to create mischief and would cooperate with every group and tribe hostile to Islam. They would create rifts between the Muslims and would do whatever they could to stir them up to mutual feuds and fighting. The people of the Aus and the Khazraj tribes were their special target, with whom they had been allied for centuries. Making mention of the war of Buath before them they would remind them of their previous enmities so that they might again resort to the sword against each other and shatter their bond of fraternity into which Islam had bound them. They would resort to every kind of deceit and fraud in order to harm the Muslims economically. Whenever one of those with whom they had business dealings, would accept Islam, they would do whatever they could to cause him financial loss. If he owed them something they would worry and harass him by making repeated demands, and if they owed him something, they would withhold the payment and would publicly say that at the time the bargain was made he professed a different religion, and since he had changed his religion, they were no longer under any obligation towards him. Several instances of this nature have been cited in the explanation of verse 75 of Surah Al Imran given in the commentaries by Tabari, Nisaburi, Tabrisi and in Ruh al Ma’ani.
They had adopted this hostile attitude against the covenant even before the Battle of Badr. But when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) and the Muslims won a decisive victory over the Quraish at Badr, they were filled with grief and anguish, malice and anger. They were in fact anticipating that in that war the powerful Quraish would deal a death blow to the Muslims. That is why even before the news of the Islamic victory reached Madinah they had begun to spread the rumour that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) had fallen a martyr and the Muslims had been routed, and the Quraish army under Abu Jahl was advancing on Madinah. But when the battle was decided against their hopes and wishes, they burst with anger and grief. Ka’b bin Ashraf, the chief of the Bani an-Nadir, cried out: “By God, if Muhammad has actually killed these nobles of Arabia, the earth’s belly would be better for us than its back.” Then he went to Makkah and incited the people to vengeance by writing and reciting provocative elegies for the Quraish chiefs killed at Badr. Then he returned to Madinah and composed lyrical verses of an insulting nature about the Muslim women. At last, enraged with his mischief, the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) sent Muhammad bin Maslamah Ansari in Rabi al-Awwal, A. H. 3, and had him slain. Ibn Sad, Ibn Hisham, Tabari).
The first Jewish tribe which, after the Battle of Badr, openly and collectively broke their covenant were the Bani Qainuqa. They lived in a locality inside the city of Madinah. As they practised the crafts of the goldsmith, blacksmith and vessel maker, the people of Madinah had to visit their shops fairly frequently. They were proud of their bravery and valour. Being blacksmiths by profession even their children were well armed, and they could instantly muster 700 fighting men from among themselves. They were also arrogantly aware that they enjoyed relations of confederacy with the Khazraj and Abdullah bin Ubbay, the chief of the, Khazraj, was their chief supporter. At the victory of Badr, they became so provoked thaf they began to trouble and harass the Muslims and their women in particular, who visited their shops. By and by things came to such a pass that one day a Muslim woman was stripped naked publicly in their bazaar. This led to a brawl in which a Muslim and a Jew were killed. Thereupon the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) himself visited their locality, got them together and counselled them on decent conduct. But the reply that they gave was; “O Muhammad, you perhaps think we are like the Quraish; they did not know fighting; therefore, you overpowered them. But when you come in contact with us, you will see how men fight.” This was in clear words a declaration of war. Consequently, the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allan’s peace) laid siege to their quarters towards the end of Shawwal (and according to some others, of Dhi Qa’dah) A.H. 2. The siege had hardly lasted for a fortnight when they surrendered and all their fighting men were tied and taken prisoners. Now Abdullah bin Ubayy came up in support of them and insisted that they should be pardoned. The Holy Prophet conceded his request and decided that the Bani Qainuqa would be exiled from Madinah leaving their properties, armour and tools of trade be- hind.(Ibn Sa’d, Ibn Hisham, Tarikh Tabari).
For some time after these punitive measures (i.e. the banishment of the Qainuqa and killing of Ka’b bin Ashraf the Jews remained so terror stricken that they did not dare commit any further mischief. But later when in Shawwal, A. H. 3, the Quraish in order to avenge tbemselves for the defeat at Badr, marched against Madinah with great preparations, and the Jews saw that only a thousand men had marched out with the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) as against three thousand men of the Quraish, and even they were deserted by 300 hypocrites who returned to Madinah, they committed the first and open breach of the treaty by refusing to join the Holy Prophet in the defence of the city although they were bound to it. Then, when in the Battle of Uhud the Muslims suffered reverses, they were further emboldened. So much so that the Bani an-Nadir made a secret plan to kill the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace), though the plan failed before it could be executed. According to the details, after the incident of Bi’r Maunah (Safar, A.H. 4) Amr bin Umayyah Damri slew by mistake two men of the Bani Amir in retaliation, who actually belonged to a tribe which was allied to the Muslims, but Amr had mistaken them for the men of the enemy. Because of this mistake their blood money became obligatory on the Muslims. Since the Bani an-Nadir were also a party in the alliance with the Bani Amir, the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) went to their clan along with some of his Companions to ask for their help in paying the blood money. Outwardly they agreed to contribute, as he wished, but secretly they plotted that a person should go up to the top of the house by whose wall the Holy Prophet was sitting and drop a rock on him to kill him. But before they could execute their plan, Allah informed him in time and be immediately got up and returned to Madinah.
Now there was no question of showing them any further concession. The Holy Prophet at once sent to them the ultimatum that the treachery they had meditated against him had come to his knowledge; therefore, they were to leave Madinah within ten days; if anyone of them was found staying behind in their quarters, he would be put to the sword. Meanwhile Abduliah bin Ubayy sent them the message that he would help them with two thousand men and that the Bani Quraizah and Bani Ghatafan also would come to their aid; therefore, they should stand firm and should not go. On this false assurance they responded to the Holy Prophet’s ultimatum saying that they would not leave Madinah and he could do whatever was in his power. Consequently, in Rabi’ al-Awwal, A.H. 4, the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) laid siege to them, and after a few days of the siege (which according to some traditions were 6 and according to others 15 days) they agreed to leave Madinah on the condition that they could retain all their property which they could carry on thee camels, except the armour. Thus, Madinah was rid of this second mischievous tribe of Jews. Only two of the Bani an-Nadir became Muslims and stayed behind. Others went to Syria and Khaiber.
Theme and Subject Matter
The theme of the Surah as stated above, is an appraisal of the battle against the Bani an Nadir. In this, on the whole, five things have been discussed.
In the first four verses the world has been admonished to take heed of the fate that had just befallen the Bani an-Nadir. A major tribe which was as strong in numbers as the Muslims, whose people boasted of far more wealth and possession who were by no means ill-equipped militarily and whose forts were well fortified could not stand siege even for a few days, and expressed their readiness to accept banishment from their centuries-old, well established settlement even though not a single man from among them was slain. Allah says that this happened not because of any power possessed by the Muslims but because the Jews had tried to resist and fight Allah and His Messenger, and those who dare to resist the power of Allah, always meet with the same fate.
In verse 5, the rule of the law of war that has been enunciated is: the destruction caused in the enemy territory for military purposes does not come under “spreading mischief in the earth.”
In vv. 6-10 it has been stated how the lands and properties which come under the control of the Islamic State as a result of war or peace terms, are to be managed. As it was the first ever occasion that the Muslims took control of a conquered territory, the law concerning it was laid down for their guidance.
In vv. 11-17 the attitude that the hypocrites had adopted on the occasion of the battle against the Bani an-Nadir has been reviewed and the causes underlying it have been pointed out.
The whole of the last section (vv. 18-24) is an admonition for all those people who had professed to have affirmed the faith and joined the Muslim community, but were devoid of the true spirit of the faith. In it they have been told what is the real demand of the Faith, what is the real difference between piety and wickedness, what is the place and importance of the Quran which they professed to believe in, and what are the attributes of God in Whom they claimed to have believed.
THE VIRTUES OF SURAH IKHLAS
From Qutaadah ibn al-Nu’maan (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said that a man stayed up to worship Allaah at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) just before dawn and recited “Qul huwa Allaahu ahad,” but did not recite anything else. In the morning, the man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and told him about this, thinking that perhaps he was not doing enough. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, it is equivalent to one-third of the Qur’aan.” (al-Bukhaari, 4627).
Ahmad reported from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri that a man said, “O Messenger of Allaah, I have a neighbour who prays at night and he only ever recites ‘Qul huwa Allaahu ahad’” – as if he did not think much of this. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, it is equivalent to one-third of the Qur’aan.” (al-Musnad, 10965)
Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to his Companions: ‘Could any one of you not recite one third of the Qur’aan in one night?’ They found the idea too difficult, and said, ‘Who among us could do that, O Messenger of Allaah?’ He said, ‘Allaahu’l-ahad, al- samad [i.e., Soorat al-Ikhlaas] is one third of the Qur’aan.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 4628)
‘Aa’ishah reported that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) went to bed, he would cup his hands together, blow into them and recite into them Qul huwa Allaahu ahad [Soorat al-Ikhlaas], Qul a’oodhu bi Rabbi’l-falaq [Soorat al-Falaq] and Qul a’oodhu bi Rabbi’l-naas [Soorat al-Naas] (these are the last 3 soorahs of the Qur’aan – Translator). Then he would wipe as much of his body as he could with his hands, starting with his head and face, and the front of his body. He would do this three times. (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 4630)
‘Aa’ishah also reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sent a man in charge of a small military campaign, and when he recited Qur’aan whilst leading his companions in prayer, he would always end with Qul huwa Allaahu ahad. When they came back, (his companions) mentioned that to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who told them to ask him why he did that. So they asked him, and he said, “Because it is a description of the Most Merciful, and I love to recite it.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Tell him that Allaah loves him.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 6827)
‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Abzaa reported that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to recite Sabbih isma Rabbik al-A’laa (Soorat al-A’laa, #87), Qul yaa ayyuhaa’l-kaafiroon (Soorat al-Kaafiroon, #109) and Qul huwa Allaahu ahad (Soorat al-Ikhlaas, #112) in his witr prayer, and when he had finished, he would repeat Subhaan al-Malik al-Quddoos (Glory be to the King, the Holy) three times, making the last vowel long on the third recitation. (Reported by al-Nisaa’i, 1721)
‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir said: “I met the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)… and he said to me, ‘O ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir, shall I not teach you some Soorahs the like of which have not been revealed in the Tawraat (Torah) or the Zaaboor (Psalms) or the Injeel (Gospel) or in the Qur’aan? There is no night comes but you should not recite (i.e., every night you should recite) Qul huwa Allaahu ahad [Soorat al-Ikhlaas], Qul a’oodhu bi Rabbi’l-falaq [Soorat al-Falaq] and Qul a’oodhu bi Rabbi’l-naas [Soorat al-Naas].’” ‘Uqbah said: “So every night I would recite them. It became my duty to recite them, because the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had commanded me to do so…” (Musnad Ahmad, 16810)
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) heard a man reciting Qul huwa Allaahu ahad, and said, “It is his right.’ They asked, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, what is his right?’ He said, ‘Paradise is his right.’ (Reported by Imaam Ahmad, 7669)
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever recites Qul huwa Allaahu ahad ten times, Allaah will build for him a house in Paradise.” (Saheeh al-Jaami’ al-Sagheer, 6472).
So recite it as many times as you wish, without sticking to a certain number or time or way that is not prescribed by sharee’ah.
TAFSIR OF SURAL AL-QADER
Ibn jarir reported that there was a man among the children of Israel who use to stand in worship the whole night and fight the enemies of religion the whole day. He did this for a thousand months. This surah refers to this man and his acts of worship and says that the worship on this night by any of his Ummah is better than that man’s thousand month’s of worship
Ayah’s 4 and 5
Describing the merits of this night, Allah says that in this night the angles, and the Ruh (spirit) here refer to Angle Gabriel. However, another view is that Ruh is the name of some particular angels. It is the night of security in which a devil can neither commit an evil act, nor trouble the believer. Sha’bi said that during this night the angles keep praying for the believers till the early hours of morning. The Prophet said “The night of decree is either the 27th or 29th. During this night the angles throng the earth and they are more in number then the pebbles on it.” It is said that no heresy can take place in this night. The Prophet said “The night of decree is one of the last ten night of Ramadan, and whoever spends that night in worship with faith and in hope for reward shall be forgiven all his past sins.” The Prophet said, ” This night is very bright as if it is a moonlit night. It is very pleasant, neither too hot nor too cold. No stars are shot in this night. One of its signs is that the sun shines the following morning not with piercing rays, but it appears like the bright full moon.” During the night of decree Allah calls Gabriel and says “O Gabriel, in the Night of Decree take all the angles to earth. All these angles are full of mercy and affection for the believers.” Soon after sunset, in the noble night of decree they scatter all around the earth, standing and prostrating in worship and supplication for the believing men and women. However they do not go to churches or Jewish or Zoroastrian temples, or shrines of the disbelievers, or places where garbage is dumped, or to houses where a drunkard lives, or to a house where drink is kept or where an idol is kept, or to a place where a bell is hung or a chamber pot is kept. Gabriel shakes hands with all the believers. The sign of this handshake is that one’s skin shudders, heart is softened and eyes shed a tear. On such a moment one should understand that one’s hand is in the hand of Gabriel. The angles remain supplicating until it is time for Dawn prayers then they move closer to earth. Gabriel moves to a spot between earth and heaven were he spreads his wings. He has two green wings, which he unfolds only on this night. Behind these wings the sun becomes dim. Then he calls all the angles to supplicate for believing men and women. After this the angles return to the heavens and tell the other angles and Allah I found such and such a person in the state of prostration, so for give him. Allah says, “I forgive him.”
TAFSIR IBN KATHIR OF SOORAT UL-TAKAATHUR
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
(1. The mutual increase diverts you,) (2. Until you visit the graves.) (3. Nay! You shall come to know!) (4. Again nay! You shall come to know!) (4. Again nay! You shall come to know!) (5. Nay! If you knew with a sure knowledge.) (6. Verily, you shall see the blazing Fire!) (7. And again, you shall see it with certainty of sight!) (8. Then on that Day you shall be asked about the delights!)
The Result of Loving the World and Heedlessness of the Hereafter
Allah says that all are preoccupied by love of the world, its delights and its adornments, and this distracts you from seeking the Hereafter and desiring it. This delays you until death comes to you and you visit the graves, thus becoming its inhabitants. In Sahih Al-Bukhari, it is recorded in the Book of Ar-Riqaq (Narrations that soften the Heart) from Anas bin Malik, who reported that Ubayy bin Ka`b said, “We used to think that this was a part of the Qur’an until the Ayah was revealed which says;
(The mutual increase diverts you.)” He was referring to the Hadith in which the Prophet said,
(If the Son of Adam had a valley of gold, he would desire another like it…) Imam Ahmad recorded from `Abdullah bin Ash-Shikhkhir that he said, “I came to the Messenger of Allah while he was saying,
((The mutual increase diverts you.)” He was referring to the Hadith in which the Prophet said,
(If the Son of Adam had a valley of gold, he would desire another like it…) Imam Ahmad recorded from `Abdullah bin Ash-Shikhkhir that he said, “I came to the Messenger of Allah while he was saying,
((The mutual increase diverts you.)( The Son of Adam says, “My wealth, my wealth.” But do you get anything (of benefit) from your wealth except for that which you ate and you finished it, or that which you clothed yourself with and you wore it out, or that which you gave as charity and you have spent it)” Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i also recorded this Hadith. Muslim recorded in his Sahih from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said,
(The servant says “My wealth, my wealth.” Yet he only gets three (benefits) from his wealth: that which he eats and finishes, that which he eats and finishes, that which he wears until it is worn out, or that which he gives in charity and it is spent. Everything else other than that will go away and leave him for the people.) Muslim was alone in recording this Hadith. Al-Bukhari recorded from Anas bin Malik that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Three things follow the deceased person, and two of them return while one remains behind with him. The things which follow him are his family, his wealth and his deeds. His family and his wealth return while his deeds remain.) This Hadith has also been recorded by Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i. Imam Ahmad recorded from Anas that the Prophet said,
(The Son of Adam becomes old with senility, but yet two things remain with him: greed and hope.) Both of them (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) recorded this Hadith in the Two Sahihs.
The Threat of seeing Hell and being questioned about the Delights
(Nay! you shall come to know! Again nay! you shall come to know!) Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “This is a threat after a threat.” Ad-Dahhak said,
(Nay! you shall come to know!) “Meaning, `O you disbelievers.’
(Again nay! you shall come to know!) meaning, `O you believers.”’ Then Allah says,
(Nay! you shall come to know! Again nay! you shall come to know!) Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “This is a threat after a threat.” Ad-Dahhak said,
(Nay! you shall come to know!) “Meaning, `O you disbelievers.’
(Again nay! you shall come to know!) meaning, `O you believers.”’ Then Allah says,
(Nay! If you knew with a sure knowledge.) meaning, `if you knew with true knowledge, you would not be diverted by rivalry for wealth away from seeking the abode of the Hereafter until you reach the graves.’ Then Allah says,
(Verily, you shall see the blazing Fire! And again you shall see it with certainty of sight!) This is the explanation of the previous threat which was in Allah’s saying,
(Nay! you shall come to know! Again nay! you shall come to know!) Thus, Allah threatens them with this situation, which is what the people of the Fire will see. It is a Fire, which if it exhaled one breath, every angel who is near (to Allah) and every Prophet who was sent would all fall down on their knees due to fear, awe and the sight of its horrors. This is based upon what has been reported in the narrations concerning it. Allah then says,
(Then on that Day you shall be asked about the delights!) meaning, `on that Day you all will be questioned concerning your gratitude towards the favors that Allah blessed you with, such as health, safety, sustenance and other things. You will be asked did you return His favors by being thankful to Him and worshipping Him.’ Ibn Jarir recorded that Al-Husayn bin `Ali As-Suda’i narrated to him from Al-Walid bin Al-Qasim, who reported from Yazid bin Kaysan, who reported from Abi Hazim, who reported from Abu Hurayrah that he said, “Once while Abu Bakr and `Umar were sitting, the Prophet came to them and said,
(What has caused you two to sit here) They replied, `By He Who has sent you with the truth, nothing has brought us out of our houses except hunger.’ The Prophet said,
(By He Who has sent me with the truth, nothing has brought me out other than this.) So they went until they came to the house of a man from the Ansar, and the woman of the house received them. The Prophet said to her,
(Where is so-and-so) She replied, `He went to fetch some drinking water for us.’ So the man came carrying his bucket and he said, `Welcome. Nothing has visited the servants (of Allah) better than a Prophet who has visited me today.’ Then he hung his bucket near a palm tree, and climbed it and returned to them with a cluster of dates. So the Prophet said,
Why didn’t you pick (some of them)) The man replied, `I wanted you to choose with your own eyes.’ Then he took a blade (to slaughter a sheep) and the Prophet said,
(Do not slaughter one that gives milk.) So he slaughtered a sheep for them that day and they all ate. Then the Prophet said,
(You will be asked about this on the Day of Judgement. Hunger caused you to come out of your homes and you did not return until you had eaten this meal. So this is from the delights.)” Muslim also recorded this Hadith. It has been confirmed in Sahih Al-Bukhari and the Sunans of At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah from Ibn `Abbas that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Two favors are treated unjustly by most people: health and free time.) This means that the people are lacking gratitude for these two favors. They do fulfill their obligations to them. Therefore, whoever does not maintain the right that is obligatory upon him, then he is unjust. Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said,
(Allah the Mighty and Majestic says on the Day of Judgement, “O Son of Adam! I made you ride upon the horses and camels, I gave you women to marry, and I made you reside and rule (in the earth). So where is the thanks for that”) Ahmad was alone in recording this Hadith in this manner. This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat At-Takathur, and all praise and blessings are due to Allah.
COMMENTARY ON THE VERSE OF LIGHT
By Imam Ibn ul Qayyim al Jawziyyah
Taken from The Invocation of God – Al-Wabil al-Sayyib min al-Kalim al-Tayyib, © 2000
Translated by Michael Abdurrahman Fitzgerald & Moulay Youssef Slitine
Islamic Texts Society, UK
God strikes a parable about His light within the heart of His servant, which only the learned understand: ‘God is the light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is a niche in which there is a lamp. The lamp is in a Glass, the Glass, like a glistening star, kindled from a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil well nigh glows though no fire has touched it: light upon light. God guides to His light whom He wills, and God strikes parables for human beings, and God knows all things.’ [Qur’an 24:35]
Ubayy ibn Ka`b said, ‘the similitude of His light [takes place in] the Muslim’s heart.’ [Ibn Kathir, 3:464] This light, which He has placed in the heart, comes from gnosis, love, faith and the remembrance of God. It is the light that He has sent down to His servants, by which He gives them life, and by which they walk among people. Its origin is in their hearts, but then He strengthens and increases it until it appears upon their faces, limbs, bodies, even their clothes and dwellings. People of this nature perceive it, while others deny it. On the Day of Judgement, however, it will come forth by their faith, and hasten before them in the darkness of the Bridge, that they might cross it. They will proceed in proportion to either its strength or its weakness in their hearts during their life in the world.
For one person, it will be like the sun, for another like the moon, the stars or a lamp. For yet another, this light will be only at the tips of his toes; it will shine, then go out [then shine, then go out]. For just as his light had been in this world, so he shall be given when crossing the Bridge. In fact, it is the selfsame light that had appeared to him before. However, just as the hypocrite has no real light in this world, or has only an outward light but none within, so shall he be given [on that Day] an outward light which will vanish in the darkness and be lost.
It is about this light-its abode, its bearer and its fuel-that God has coined the parable of the niche, which is like the breast. In this niche lies a globe made of purest glass, like a glistening planet in whiteness and purity-a similitude for the heart, likened to glass inasmuch as it possesses the qualities of the believer’s heart: clarity, fineness and firmness. By its clarity [the believer] sees truth and direction; by its fineness he acquires kindness and mercy; by its firmness he combats God’s enemies, and stands firm in his resistance to them and upholds the truth.
None of these qualities negate another or oppose it. They strengthen and complement each other. ‘[The faithful are] strict against the unbelievers, merciful to each other’ [48:29]; ‘By the mercy of God, you were gentle to them. For had you been harsh, or hard of heart, they would have fled from your presence’ [3:159; the expression translated as ‘hard of heart’ (ghaliz. al-qalb) literally means ‘thick-hearted’]; and ‘O Prophet, strive against the non-believers and the hypocrites and be firm against them.’ [9:73] According to a saying that has been passed down, ‘Hearts are God’s vessels on earth, and most beloved unto Him are the finest, firmest and clearest of them.’ [al-H.akim al-Tirmidhi…It also appears in Ahmad ibn H.anbal’s Kitab al-Zuhd, 1414/1993, and Is.fahani (H.ilya, 6:97), with the wording ‘God, blessed be He, has vessels on earth…’]
In contrast to this heart, there are two other reprehensible types. One is the heart that is hard like stone, devoid of compassion, generosity or social good; devoid, too, of the clarity by which God may be seen-a heart dominated by ignorance, with neither knowledge of the truth, nor compassion for fellow creatures.
The other is the heart that is as weak as water. It is devoid of strength and firmness, accepts any idea, but lacks the strength to stand by what it accepts. It is devoid of the power to affect anyone, but is itself affected by everything it mingles with-be it strong or weak, wholesome or tainted.
In the glass there is a lamp which bears the light. The fuel for this light is oil pressed from an olive tree, [which grows] in a place so medial that the sun reaches it at both the beginning and the end of the day, making its oil the purest and least opaque-so clear it almost glows by itself, without fire.
Such is the fuel for this lamp’s light, and such is the fuel of the lamp in the believer’s heart which comes from the tree of revelation, the greatest in blessing and the farthest removed from extremes. Indeed, it is the most central of all things, the most balanced, the most excellent. It reaches neither the extreme of the Christians nor that of the Jews, but rather seeks a middle way in all things. Such is the fuel for the Lamp of Faith which burns in the believer’s heart.
Because this oil is so limpid that it almost glows by itself, when it is mingled with fire its glow becomes even more intense, its substance is strengthened and there is ‘light upon light’. Similarly, the heart of the believer is so illumined that he could almost know God solely by way of his own God-given nature [fit.ra] and his own intelligence, though he had no fuel. Then the fuel of revelation reaches him, gives glad tidings to his heart and mixes with his own radiance. The light of revelation is added to the light of his own God-given nature, and the two combine to become ‘light upon light’.
He had almost been able to speak of God without ever hearing anything about Him. When he hears utterances which his own nature has already perceived, it becomes ‘light upon light’. Such is the case of the believer who first experiences the truth in a general way through his God-given nature, and then hears the words brought by [the Prophet] which explain the details. His faith is thus founded on the testimony of revelation and the testimony of his God-given nature.
Let a person of insight reflect on this great verse and on how it can be applied according to this noble meaning. God mentions His light in the heavens and on earth, and His light in the hearts of His believing servants. There is intelligible light, perceived by insight, illuminating inner visions and hearts [al-nur al-ma`qul al-mashhud bi 1-bas.a’ir wa 1-qulub]. And there is the physical light [al-nur al-mah.sus], perceived by the faculty of sight, illuminating the upper and the lower regions of the world: two sublime lights, one more sublime than the other. When physical light is absent from some place, no human being or animal can live there. Animal life is engendered only where there is light. It cannot thrive in dark places where no light shines. And so, a people for whom the light of revelation and faith has gone out, and a heart in which this light has gone out, must be dead, no more alive than the most lifeless place on earth.
In His words, God connects life with light: ‘Or is one who was dead, and whom We gave life and made for him a light by which to walk among people, like one who is in a darkness from which he cannot emerge?’ [6:122] Or His words, ‘Thus have We inspired you with a spirit from Our command; you had known neither the Book nor faith, but We made it a light by which We guide those of Our servants whom We Will.’ [42:52]
About this second verse, it has been said that the pronoun ‘it’ refers to command, or to faith, but the correct reading is that it refers to spirit. Thus, ‘We made that spirit with which We inspired you a light.’ In other words, we say spirit when life is brought forth, and light when radiance and illumination are brought together. But the two are inseparable. If life exists through the Spirit, so does light; and where there is light, there is also light. So the heart of one who does not accept this Spirit is dead and benighted, as dead as one whose soul has separated from his body.