Category Archives: Arabic

All things that aid you in your quest to learn Qur’anic Arabic (fusha).

Tafseer Surah Nazi’at, Part 1


This is post #42 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

In this post, insha’Allah we will take a whirlwind tour of the first third or so of Surah Naazi’aat, a great and powerful surah of the Qur’an. Then insha’Allah we will go back and dive into more details (particularly in the Arabic side of things).

Allah says:

وَالنَّازِعَاتِ غَرْقًا
وَالنَّاشِطَاتِ نَشْطًا
وَالسَّابِحَاتِ سَبْحًا
فَالسَّابِقَاتِ سَبْقًا
فَالْمُدَبِّرَاتِ أَمْرًا

Translation: By those [angels] who extract with violence, and [by] those who remove with ease, and [by] those who glide [as if] swimming, and those who race each other in a race, and those who arrange [each] matter, … [Surah Nazi’at, verses 1-5]

These ayaat describe attributes of angels:

  • Ripping Out: Gharq (غَرْق) means to rip out, to yank out, to extract harshly. If you had a tree and you uprooted it, roots and all, that would be gharq. This refers to the angels who remove the souls of the corrupt and the evil-doers.
  • Gently Pulling: Verse two contrasts verse one by mentioning nasht (نَشْط), which is like a gentle pulling. This refers to the angels that remove the souls of the righteous believers.
  • Swimming: Verse three refers to angels who swim through the air; they are described as swimming.
  • Racing: Verse four refers to angels who are racing; racing the souls of the righteous to Jannah.
  • Al-Mudabiraat: Al-Mudabiraat are those angelswho settle the affairs of deen and dunya, in the dunya. They take care of floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters, among other things. Their name, al-mudabiraat, also implies that they are thorough planners and executers of those plans.

All of these are aqsaam (oaths), which is typical in Mecci surahs. What is Allah (‘azza wa jal) swearing to?

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Arabic Analysis of Surah Balad

This is post #35 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

Arabic Calligraphy/Art

In this post, we will insha’Allah do a word-for-word breakdown of each surah, as space permits.

In the first ayah, Allah (subhannahu wa ta’ala) says:

لَا أُقْسِمُ بِهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ

The first two words, laa uqsimu (لَا أُقْسِمُ) literally means “I do not swear.” Uqsimu is mudaari’ mutakallim waahid, i.e. the single, gender-non-specific first person “I.” It appears to be on Baab I, but there’s a hint that it’s not–the dumma on the first letter. Check the comments insha’Allah for more clarification; the mudaari’ is yuqsimu; it’s a four-letter root (aqsama اقسم) in maadi’ (past-tense).

And–as we mentioned in the tafseer–knowing the tafseer, we know this is not literal; it’s best translated as an oath (which it is).

The latter part of the ayah, bi haadhal-balad (بِهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ) has a badal in it–the clue is that you see that al-balad is majroor (with kasra) without any apparent reason for it; then you notice haadhaa (ismul-ishaara bil qareeb), and the alif-lam before balad, which is the recipe for badal: one part common noun preceeded by alif-lam, and one part ismu-ishaarah (demonstrative pronoun) preceeding it.

And as you probably remember, badal means that the haadha passes on the kasra from the bi (which is a harf–jarr or preposition) onto the balad.

Precisely the same badal occurs in ayah #2–“anta hillun bi haadhal-balad.”

In ayah four, Allah says:

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي كَبَدٍ

I harped on this ayah quite a bit in the tafseer. Notice the linguistic emphasis–the use of lam (one emphasis), plus qad (another emphasis). This, from the words of Allah themselves (something we should pay attention to), makes us realize just how important it is to understand this ayah.

In ayah five, Allah says:

أَيَحْسَبُ أَن لَّن يَقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ أَحَدٌ

A bit of more advanced grammar here — Allah says “lan yaqdira (لَّن يَقْدِرَ).” It’s not “lan yaqdiru” because lan modifies a mudaari’ (present-tense) verb to become mansoob (with fatha) instead of it’s usual marfoo’ (with damma). If you know this rule, it’s easier to remember the last vowel!

Then, in verses eight to ten, Allah (‘azza wa jal) says:

أَلَمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُ عَيْنَيْنِ
وَلِسَانًا وَشَفَتَيْنِ
وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِ

If you notice, all the final words of all these verses end with -ayn, the majroor/mansoob form of the dual (eg. kitabaani–two books–becomes kitabayni). Regardless of why, listen to these three ayaat–they actually rhyme. Aside from the miracle of how Allah (‘azza wa jal) made it rhyme and made the meaning impressively impressive, shaykh Nouman Khan mentioned that this is how you can identify one discourse (discussion on one topic) from another in the Qur’an–by the use of rhyme schemes. Subhanallah, this is just one part of the Qur’an that you cannot ever grasp purely through translation.

Skipping forward, in verse 14, Allah says:

أَوْ إِطْعَامٌ فِي يَوْمٍ ذِي مَسْغَبَةٍ

The word dhiy (ذِي) is actually the majroor form of dhuw (ذو). Dhuw is one of those “five” weird words that change their form to show the case–dhuw (owner of), fuw (mouth), akhun (brother), abu (father), and one more, if I recall. The marfoo’ form is dhuw, the majroor is dhiy, and the mansoob is dhaa (ذا).

Here, it’s dhiy because it’s an adjective (na’at) of yawm, which is majroor.

And with that, insha’Allah we will close on the Arabic analysis. If you have any questions or comments–on this in particular, or on any part of the surah in terms of meaning and grammar–insha’Allah post it in the comments or on twitter, and we’ll try to respond with the right answer, bi idhnillah.

References:

  • Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.
  • Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Nouman Ali Khan – Bayyinah. 2009.
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Benefits of Tawbah

Tawbah: returning to Allah

Bismillah

This is a translation from the original article in Arabic.

1- It is a cause to receive the Love of Allah azza wa jal. The Most High says:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ

Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves. (2:222)

2- It is a cause of success. The Most High says:

وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

And all of you beg Allah to forgive you, O believers, that you may be successful. (24:31)

3- It is a cause of the acceptance of the deeds of a slave and pardoning of his sins. The Most High says:

وَهُوَ الَّذِي يَقْبَلُ التَّوْبَةَ عَنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَعْفُو عَنِ السَّيِّئَاتِ

And He it is Who accepts repentance from His slaves, and pardons sins. (42:25)

and The Most High says:

وَمَن تَابَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَإِنَّهُ يَتُوبُ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَتَابًا

And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds; then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance. (25:71)

4- It is a cause of entrance into Jannah and safety from the Hell-Fire. The Most High says:

فَخَلَفَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ أَضَاعُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَاتَّبَعُوا الشَّهَوَاتِ ۖ فَسَوْفَ يَلْقَوْنَ غَيًّا

إِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَأُولَـٰئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَا يُظْلَمُونَ شَيْئًا

But there came after them successors who neglected prayer and pursued desires; so they are going to meet evil. Except those who repent, believe and do righteousness; for those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged at all. (19:59-60)

5- It is a cause of forgiveness and mercy. The Most High says:

وَالَّذِينَ عَمِلُوا السَّيِّئَاتِ ثُمَّ تَابُوا مِن بَعْدِهَا وَآمَنُوا إِنَّ رَبَّكَ مِن بَعْدِهَا لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

But those who committed evil deeds and then repented afterward and believed, verily, your Lord after (all) that is indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (7:153)

6- It is a cause in the changing of evil deeds into good deeds. The Most High says:

وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ يَلْقَ أَثَامًا يُضَاعَفْ لَهُ الْعَذَابُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَيَخْلُدْ فِيهِ مُهَانًا إِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَأُولَـٰئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

And whoever does this shall be thrown the punishment. The torment will be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein in disgrace; Except those who repent and believe, and do righteous deeds; for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (25:68-70)

7- It is a cause of [receiving] every good. The Most High says:

فَإِن تُبْتُمْ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ

So if you repent, it is better for you. (9:3)

and The Most High says:

فَإِن يَتُوبُوا يَكُ خَيْرًا لَّهُمْ

If then they repent, it will be better for them. (9:74)

8- It is a cause of emaan and [receiving] a great reward. The Most High says:

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا وَأَصْلَحُوا وَاعْتَصَمُوا بِاللَّهِ وَأَخْلَصُوا دِينَهُمْ لِلَّهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ مَعَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۖ وَسَوْفَ يُؤْتِ اللَّهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

Except those who repent, do righteous good deeds, hold fast to Allah, and purify their religion for Allah, then they will be with the believers. And Allah will grant the believers a great reward. (4:146)

9- It is a cause of the sending of blessings from the sky and an increase in strength. The Most High says:

وَيَا قَوْمِ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ ثُمَّ تُوبُوا إِلَيْهِ يُرْسِلِ السَّمَاءَ عَلَيْكُم مِّدْرَارًا وَيَزِدْكُمْ قُوَّةً إِلَىٰ قُوَّتِكُمْ وَلَا تَتَوَلَّوْا مُجْرِمِينَ

“And O my people! Ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him, He will send you (from the sky) abundant rain, and add strength to your strength, so do not turn away as criminals. (11:52)

10-It is a cause of [receiving] the supplication of the Angels for those who repent. The Most High says:

الَّذِينَ يَحْمِلُونَ الْعَرْشَ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهُ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَيُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا رَبَّنَا وَسِعْتَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ رَّحْمَةً وَعِلْمًا فَاغْفِرْ لِلَّذِينَ تَابُوا وَاتَّبَعُوا سَبِيلَكَ وَقِهِمْ عَذَابَ الْجَحِيمِ

Those (angels) who bear the Throne (of Allah) and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe (saying): “Our Lord! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who repent and follow Your Way, and save them from the torment of the blazing Fire! (40:7)

11- It is obeying the Will of Allah, azza wa jal. The Most High says:

وَاللَّهُ يُرِيدُ أَن يَتُوبَ عَلَيْكُمْ

And Allah desires that He should turn to you (in repentance). (4:27) So the one who repents is doing what Allah loves and Pleases Him.

12- Allah becomes happy with the repentance of His slave. The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Truly, Allah is happier with the repentance of His slave than one of you who is on his mount, and upon his mount is his drink and food; then he loses his mount in the desert, and he searches for it until he loses hope; so he sleeps and then wakes up to find that his mount is beside him, and he says, ‘O’ Allah, you are my slave and I am your Lord’. He pronounced this mistake as a result of extreme happiness.” [Muslim]

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Arabic Analysis of Surah Qaari’ah

A faraash, a moth.

A faraash–a moth.

This is post #31 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

As per the poll on our twitter account, there was consensus on their being a post on grammatical analysis of Surah Qaari’ah. So here you go insha’Allah.

Standard Disclaimer: I am not an Arab (as in, fluent in Arabic) nor have I double-checked this in books of ‘ulama discussing grammar; there is sometimes difference of opinion in grammar, as well; so take it as such insha’Allah.

Let’s go word-by-word insha’Allah.

  • Al-Qaari’ah (الْقَارِعَةُ): (verse 1) Notice that it ends with ta-marbuwta, the little funny face-like letter. This means that if you stop on that letter, it’s pronounced as a haa; and if you keep going, it’s pronounced as a taa. So you can say “Al-Qaari’ah” or “Al-Qaariatu … [continuing on].” I know in Indo-Pak lands, they always pronounce it as a ta; but that’s not correct.
  • Wa Maa Adaraaka Maa Al-Qaari’ah (وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْقَارِعَةُ): (verse 3) This phrase occurs often enough in the Qur’an; let’s dissect it more insha’Allah.
  • Wa (وَ): And. Shortest word in the Arabic language!
  • Maa (مَا): Maa can have lots of meanings. Here, it’s ismu-istifhaam, aka the interrogative particle, aka the question-mark. In English, we put a question-mark at the end of a sentence; in Arabic, we use maa, or a (أ), or hal (هَل).
  • Adraaka (أَدْرَاكَ): Adraa is a verb; the maf’ool (recipient of the verb) is “ka,” which means “you” (singular, second-person, masculine). Even though it’s masculine, in Arabic, if you don’t know the person you’re speaking to, you can refer to them in the masculine gender, singular or plural. (Plural is more respectful.)
  • Maa (مَا): The second maa in this phrase is also ismu-istifhaam (the question-mark); if we just chopped the phrase before this word, we would get: maa Al-Qaariah? What is Al-Qaari’ah?
  • Yawma (يَوْمَ): Yawmun means “a day.” Al-Yawm, means the day. Yawma is definite (with single tanween–yawma, not yawman) but it eludes me why it’s definite and mansoob (with fatha). It looks like it might be mudaaf, but where’s the mudaaf ilayh?
  • Yakuwnu (يَكُونُ): (verse 4) Yakuwnu is the third-person, singular, masculine, present-tense form of kaana. Kaana means “he was,” and yakuwnu is “he is.” What does it refer to? See the next word.
  • An-Naas (النَّاسُ): An-Naas is an interesting word. It’s a singular word, but refers to a plural (humankind); some scholars say it comes from the root nasiya/yansaa, to forget–because human nature is to forget. Here, it’s marfoo’ (with dumma: an-naasu) so we know it’s the faa’il (doer) of yakuwnu. By the way, this is the norm in Arabic–to put the verb before the doer, unlike in English.
  • Ka (كَ): Not “you,” but ka here is the particle of comparison–you can translate it as “is like” or “as like (the example of)” or something similar. The thing that it’s comparing to (eg. the “you” in “like you”) is always majroor (with kasra).
  • Al-Faraash (الْفَرَاشِ): Faraash means moths–those butterfly-like beings; see the picture at the top of the post. We know it’s the thing that An-Naas is compared to, because it’s majroor (with kasra).
  • Al-Mabthooth (الْمَبْثُوثِ): Scattered. Notice it has the same a) number, b) gender, c) case (kasra) and d) definitivity (alif-lam) as Al-Faraashi; this marks it as an adjective. Again, unlike English, in Arabic, the adjective comes after the word it describes.
  • Takuwnu (تَكُونُ): (verse 5) In Arabic, the mudaari’ (present-tense verb) has the same form for “you” (masculine singular 2nd-person) and “she” (feminine singular 3rd-person). That form is–you guessed it–takuwnu. How do you know what it refers to? By the context, of course–this is why Arabs (as in, those fluent in Arabic) must constantly apply their brains when reading, writing, speaking, and listening in (Classical/Fushaa) Arabic. It’s not like English!
  • Al-Jibaalu (الْجِبَالُ): That was easy. Al-Jibaal is the plural of jabal (mountain). It’s marfoo’, and it’s obviously the faa’il (because it’s marfoo’ with damma). But wait a minute–we said takuwnu is for she and you. But Al-Jibaal is neither–it’s a masculine plural! What’s going on? The answer is, Arabic treats the non-human plural as feminine singular. Read all about it at Arabic Tree (if you’re interested). It’s complicated, I know. That’s why Al-Jibaal works with takuwnu.
  • Ka Al-‘ahni Al-Manfooshi: Same structure as ka al-faraashi al-mabthooth.
  • Fa (فَ): Fa has a couple of meanings that I know of; one is to indicate something that happens immediately after something else; the other meaning is the one used here–to section out a group into sections. Eg. if you have two people, Muhammad and Musa, you can say “fa Muhammad, he is a doctor; and fa Musa, he is a teacher.” Translated usually as “as for.” The rest of this verse gives you the section–the one who is heavy in deeds.
  • Man (مَن): Who. It’s ismu-istifhaam (question-mark–eg. “who are you?”) but not here. Man, since it means “who,” can also mean “anyone” or “the person who.”
  • Thaqulat (ثَقُلَتْ): Heavy. The commonly-used form is thaqeel.
  • Mawaaziynu (مَوَازِينُ): Mawaaziyn is the plural of mizaan. Mizaan is like a weighing scale with two ends that you can use to compare two things; mawaaziyn is plural. Al-Mizaan refers to the scale that will weigh our good and bad deeds on the Yawm-ul-Qaari’ah. Notice also it’s definite with single tanween (mawaazeenu), which is a hint it might be mudaaf (possessed object in a possessive case construct).
  • Hu (هُ): The mudaaf ilayh. Hu is the majroor/mansoob version of huwa; so together with mawaazeen, we get the translation “his scales.” And the “he” refers to “man” earlier in the verse.
  • Fa (فَ): (verse 7) This is the other meaning of fa–something that happens immediately after something else. Subhanallah it’s like the one who is heavy in his mawaazeen, fa huwa fiy ‘ishaat ar-raadi’a.
  • Fiy (فِي): In. Standard harf-ul-jarr, where’s the majroor?
  • ‘Iyshatin (عِيشَةٍ): It’s majroor because of fiy. It means life. It’s indefinite, so it means “a life.”
  • Raadiyah (رَّاضِيَةٍ): Pleasant. You can see the root verb–radiya, to be pleased with (as in: radiallahu ‘anhu, Allah is pleased with them). Notice it’s the same a) number (singular) b) gender (feminine) c) case (majroor) d) definitivity (indefinite) as ‘ishaat–making it an adjective.
  • Fa amma man khaffat mawaaziynuhu (وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَفَّتْ مَوَازِينُهُ): (verse 8) Exactly the same construct as verse 6; except Allah uses khaffat, light; the commonly-used word is khafeef.
  • Fa ummuhu (فَأُمُّهُ): (verse 9) Fa is the same particle of immediately-following as in verse 7. Ummun means a mother; Ummu is definite (single tanween), and it is, as you might guess, mudaaf; the mudaaf ilayhi is “hu.” Ummuhu, therefore, means “his mother.”
  • Haawiyah (هَاوِيَةٌ): An abyss. If you’re non-Arab like me, you might say, “what IS this haawiyah thing?”
  • Wa maa adraaka maa hiya (وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا هِيَ): Precisely the question posed in our minds. What is haawiyah?
  • Naarun haamiyah (نَارٌ حَامِيَةٌ): Naarun means “a fire.” Haamiyatun means, intensely hot; note that these two match in the number, gender, case, and (in)definitiveness; they are na’at and man’oot, the adjective case. This is, of course, a glimpse of what is haawiyah; as we mentioned in the tafseer, we can never know fully what it is.

Wallahu ta’ala a’lam.

References:

  • Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.
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Tafseer Surah Qadar: What’s Better Than 1000 Months?

This is post #25 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

Reason of Revelation

The Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) told the companions about a man of the previous nations; a man who lived and fought jihad for over 1000 months (roughly 83 years, 4 months). (In case you didn’t know, the previous nations lived longer than us–like Prophet Nuh (alayhi salaam), who did da’wah for nearly 1000 years.)

The companions were amazed, and they said: how can we compete with him?

And subhanallah, this is a gem. Look at the companions. They prioritized and competed for the akhirah. Subhanallah to the point that, they don’t just try to do “some good deeds before I die;” not enough. They competed with each other–but even that was not enough. Rather, they competed with all of the Muslims, ever, starting from the time of Prophet Adam, until the Day of Judgment.

We need to really look at ourselves and see, how much are we like them? Or are we just vying for bigger houses, better cars–more dunya?

Continue reading

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Tafseer of Surah Tawheed

a hand with the shahada finger pointing

This is post #23 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

Allah says, in Surah Tawheed, also known as Surah Ikhlas:

قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ
اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ
لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ
وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ

Translation: Say, “He is Allah , [who is] One, Allah , the Eternal Refuge [As-Samad], He neither begets (gives birth to) nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent.” [Surah Ikhlas]

The tafseer of this great surah, Surah Ikhlas is very, very extensive; volumes of books have been written on it. One of our writers, Abdul-Ahad, may Allah bless him and increase him in his nearness to Allah, has written very extensively about this surah. Therefore, I will suggest to you some great readings about this great surah, and instead, break down the Arabic grammar word by word.

Tafseer of Surah Ikhlas

Grammatical Analysis

  • Qul (قُلْ): Say. It is a command (fi’l amr), both to the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam), in response to the question of the mushrikeen “tell us the lineage of your Lord,” and to us. There are four surahs that begin with qul–surah Ikhlas, Surah Naas, Surah Falaq, Surah Kafiroon. (We completed tafseer of all these surahs already, walhamdulillah.)
  • Huwa (هُوَ): He, or it. One of the most common words you’ll come across. It’s technically third-person, singular, and masculine. In this case, it refers to Allah.
  • Allah (اللَّهُ): This word is called laf dhuw jalaala (the honorable name) when we refer to it. Because it’s not proper to say “Allah is mansoob (having fatha on the last letter)” or “Allah is marfoo’ (having damma on the last letter)” when we speak about grammar.
  • Ahad (أَحَدٌ): Ahad means “one.” Then again, wahid also means one; the difference is that, if I said I have wahid books, it means I have one book. Or two books. Or more books–“I have one book.” On the other hand, if I said I have ahad books … that means I have one and only one book. Not two. Not three. Just one. So here, he is Allah, Al-Ahad–the one, the unique (perhaps unique is a better translation of ahad).
  • As-Samad (الصَّمَدُ): This is one of the names of Allah. It means the one who everybody depends on, but the one who doesn’t depend on anyone. Like if there was a fund-raiser and there’s only one person in the community who has the money, and he pays it–he can be described as samad. Allah is AS-Samad, THE samad, who we all depend on.
  • Lam (لَمْ): Lam is a particle of negation similar to laa or maa or other negations. Lam makes mudaari’ (present/future-tense) verbs majzoom (having sukoon on the last letter).
  • Yalid (يَلِدْ): Yalidu is mudaari’ (present/future-tense), singular, and masculine. It’s from the verb walada, which means to give birth to. It’s majzoom (yalid and not yalidu) because of lam.
  • Wa (وَ): Wa by itself, means “and.”
  • Yuwlad (يُولَدْ): This is the passive form of yalid (evidenced by the damma and fatha on the first and second letters). So “yalidu” means “he gives birth to,” and yuwladu means “he was given birth to.” It’s also majzoom, with sukoon, because of lam (it’s connected by the wa, which carries over the grammatical case, too).
  • Yakun (يَكُن): Yakunu is the mudaari’ of kaana (he was). It means “he is.” Again, it’s majzoom because of lam.
  • Lahu (لَّهُ): Lahu is the preposition “li” (for), and hu is the majroor version of huwa. So li + huwa = lahu, roughly translated as “for him.”
  • Kufuwan (كُفُوًا): If you look in the fiqh books about the chapter of orphan girls, they must be married to someone of the same “kufwan,” someone of the same level and status and rank as she is. So here, it’s saying that there’s nobody at the same level as Allah–because he is Al-Ahad.

Wallahu ta’ala ‘alam.

Action Items:

  • Memorize This Surah. If you haven’t already, memorize it; it’s very short and easy (and it rhymes!). And if you feel lazy, remember–there are literally thousands of children under the age of 7 who have done this. It’s that easy.
  • Share Some Tafseer. If you have links to other (authentic) tafseer of this great surah, post a comment insha’Allah and share it with the world.

References:

  • Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.
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Arabic Explanation of Surah Takweer

Note: This is post #17 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma.

When the sun is kuwwirat

We’re going to digress a bit and jump back to Surah Takweer. This post is based on Shaykh Nouman Khan’s tafseer, which heavily emphasizes the Arabic language. I hope you will find, as I found it, as a glimpse of a previously-unseen world, a depth of knowledge that just drips from the Arabic language.

Allah says, in surah Takweer:

إِذَا الشَّمْسُ كُوِّرَتْ

Translation: When the sun is kuwwirat … [verse 1]

There are a lot of gems that we learn even from this first ayah:

  • Idhaa + Past-Tense: Idhaa is an indicator of future-tense “when (something will happen).” Yet, kuwwirat is past-tense; why? This combination means something is so certain, it’s like past-tense. So Allah is saying “when this happens,” yet it’s certain that it WILL happen; as certain as the past is past.
  • Nominal Sentence: The default in Arabic is to put the verb first–“kuwwirat ash-shamsu.” To reverse this into “ash-shamsu kuwwirat,” shows emphasis, and makes it a tougher, stronger sentence. This hints at the audience–Mushrikeen in Mecca, the worst and most obstinate of them, who are listening to this revelation.
  • Passive Voice: Allah could have said, “When I wrap up the sun,” but He didn’t. Why? If you’re biased against someone (say a political party), no matter what they say, even before they open their mouth, you say, “psshh.” But here, passive-voice highlights the maf’ool, the recipient of the action–the sun, the stars–instead of the doer.

As for the meaning of kuwwirat, kawwara means to wrap something around something; it’s used in the context of a turban, something long, that’s wrapped around your head.

Allah is applying the same meaning here–that the light of the sun, something that’s long, will be kuwwirat, wrapped up. Wrapped up meaning, something will cover it, and it will no longer be visible; and it will be wrapped slowly, part by part disappearing–the same way that Allah described the day as wrapping around the night and the night wrapping around the day.

This is something scary–that you see the sun wrapped up, and losing its light. But there’s more

Continue reading

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Tafseer of Surah Lahab

Note: This is post #7 in our series of Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma.

A blazing inferno. Who wants to end up like that?

Most of us know Surah Lahab. It’s one of the first one Muslim children learn these days. We’re going to breeze through the tafseer, then dive into one of the miracles, and finish up with some Arabic analysis.

Allah says:

تَبَّتْ يَدَا أَبِي لَهَبٍ وَتَبَّ
مَا أَغْنَى عَنْهُ مَالُهُ وَمَا كَسَبَ
سَيَصْلَى نَاراً ذَاتَ لَهَبٍ
وَامْرَأَتُهُ حَمَّالَةَ الْحَطَبِ
فِي جِيدِهَا حَبْلٌ مِّن مَّسَدٍ

Translation:
May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined is he.
His wealth will not avail him or that which he gained.
He will [enter to] burn in a Fire of [blazing] flame
And his wife [as well] – the carrier of firewood.
Around her neck is a rope of [twisted] fiber. [Surah Lahab, verses 1-5]

Reason of Revelation

This verse was one of the first revealed in Mecca. You can find the full details in Tafsir ibn Kathir. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) was told to proclaim the message; so he went up on a mountain.

In those days, when the Arabs attacked, they attacked right at Fajr time, when the most people were sleeping. If anyone saw this, they would get up on a mountain and say “waaaaaaaaaaaah subaaaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaah,” like “woe to you from an evil that’s coming in the morning.”

So the Prophet got up on the mountain, and he called each of the tribes, one by one, by name. And when they had all gathered–check this out–he said “If I told you all that the enemy was going to attack you in the morning, or in the evening, would you all believe me?” and they said “we’ve never experienced a lie from you.”

So he (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Verily, I am a warner (sent) to you all before the coming of a severe torment.”

And this was it! The chance for everyone to become Muslim, Mecca becomes conquered, Islam gets an established base and spreads out of Arabia …

… and Abu Lahab, the uncle of the Prophet, said: “Have you gathered us for this? Tabba lak (may you perish).”

And Allah revealed Surah Lahab.


Points to Consider

  • Syed. Abu Lahab was “syed,” (in the broad sense), that is, from the family and clan of the Prophet (not that he was a direct descendant of the Prophet). And he is doomed to Hellfire! So what does that mean for all the syeds out there? Are you still so sure you’ll be saved just for being a relative of the Messenger of Allah? Wake up! You need to pray and fast and pay zakah and make Hajj, just like anyone else.
  • Tabbat is a curse. It appears twice in the first ayah–at the beginning, as if it’s a curse, and at the end, as if it’s a statement of reality–that he is cursed.
  • Carrier of Firewood. There are two opinions on what this means: One is that the wife of Abu Lahab used to enflame people. “Oh did you hear what so-and-so said about you?” “Oh do you know what that other person did?” To make them hate each other; like she carries the wood to fan the fire. The other opinion is that she used to carry thorns and put them in what pathways the Messenger of Allah used to walk, so he’d be harmed.
  • A Necklace of Fire. Hellfire is enough of a punishment–but on top, she’ll be given a necklace of fire. Why? Because she had a beautiful necklace, and she pawned it at a fundraiser so she could use the wealth to harm the Messenger of Allah. So glad tidings O you people who donated for the sake of Allah! Insha’Allah for sure you will get something good, if Allah rewarded giving something bad with something in Hellfire.

The Miracle in Surah Lahab

If you notice, Allah dooms Abu Lahab to Hellfire in this surah. Now, the mufassireen point out an interesting point–at any time, Abu Lahab could have accepted Islam–even as a fake-out. And he could have said “Hey guys, I’m Muslim now, how come the Qur’an is claiming I’m in Hellfire?” And that would’ve caused great fitnah.

But he never did.

And Allah knew that he wouldn’t.

And so, we see even in this small, oft-repeated surah, one of the miracles of the Qur’an.

Some Arabic Analysis

  • Tabba/Tabbat (تَبَّتْ) is a curse. It means “may you lose everything and perish.”
  • Abi Lahab? Just like we discussed in the second post about rabbuka and rabbika, whether you say “Abu Lahab” or “Abi Lahab” or “Aba Lahab,” it’s the same name. Just different grammatical tense.
  • Triple Possessive Case: Yahd is mudaaf; abi is mudaf ilayh (hence it’s majroor), and also mudaaf to lahab (which is mudaf ilayh and majroor). If you didn’t understand that, don’t worry.
  • Kasaba (كَسَبَ) means “what he accumulated.” Ibn Abbas (radiallahu ‘anhu) says that he accumulated is wealth, and children, and honour, and status; but none of those will help him in the Hereafter.
  • Sayaslaa (سَيَصْلَى) is future-tense; it means he (Abu Lahab) will be thrown into.
  • Naaran thaata lahab: This construct is difficult to explain, so forgive me if it’s not the easiest thing to understand. If I said “I saw a man dhuw lihyatin,” it means I saw a man who has a beard; or literally, “the owner of a beard.” If I said “I saw a man dhaa lihyatin,” i.e. an adjective construct, it means “I saw a bearded man.” Here, Allah says: naaran thaala lahab, meaning “the fire possessing flame,” or “the flaming fire.” It’s a description of the qualities of that fire. Tafseer ibn Katheer mentions a fire of blazing flames, painful and severe.

Wallahu ta’ala ‘alam, that’s Surah Lahab in a nutshell. If there are any questions, comments, or corrections, please post them in the comments.

Also, I cannot think of any action items related to this surah; so it’s up to you! Whatever you think of, post it in the comments! Insha’Allah you will get a copy of the ajar of anyone else who performs that action.

Action Items Contributed

Try and do at least one of the following:

  • Donate something small for the sake of Allah. Buying gifts for family members is sadaqah too; so why not buy something nice–a watch, a necklace, etc. for your family member. Insha’Allah you’ll get one, too, in Jannah! (Even more motivation to buy what you’d love for yourself!)

References:

  • Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.
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Arabic Analysis for First Revelation

This is the second post in our series of Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma.

trees sway in the sunlight

The first five ayaat of Surah Iqraa are:

اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ
خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ
اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُ
الَّذِي عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ
عَلَّمَ الْإِنسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ

Word-for-word translations are pretty common these days (like this one, which has Surah Iqraa), so I’m going to touch lightly on that, and do a bit more grammar. Ready? Here goes!

  • Iqraa (اقْرَأْ): Arabic has three types of verbs: past tense (he recited), present tense (he recites), and commands (recite!) Iqraa is a command to recite. (For all you nerds, it’s in baab one.) So Allah is COMMANDING us to read and recite.
  • Rabbuka or rabbika? In verse 1, Allah says “rabbika”; and in verse 3, Allah says “rabbuka.” What’s the difference between these two, in meaning? Nothing! Rabbuka, rabbika, and rabbaka all mean the exact same thing. (They’re just different cases of grammar.)
  • Rabbika (رَبِّكَ): Rabb in Arabic means the one who created you, who sustains you, who provides for you; the definition of this word takes pages! The “ka” hear means you (single person, male); so rabbuka means “your Rabb,” kitaabuka means “your book,” masjiduka means “your masjid,” etc.
  • Khalaqa (خَلَقَ): Khalaqa means “he created;” In fact, khalaqa means created from nothing. Only Allah can create out of nothing–humans just take existing “stuff” and recompose it. That’s not khalaqa; only ALLAH can create from nothing.
  • Wa (وَ): Wa means and. Occasionally, you may see am (أم), which is the same as wa, except am is used in questions.
  • ‘Allama (عَلَّمَ): ‘Allama means “he taught.” It appears in quite a few places in the Qur’an, so it’s a good word to know. The words ‘ilm (knowledge), mu’allim (teacher), ‘aalim (scholar), ‘ulamaa (scholars) all come from the same root–the letters ‘ayn, laam, and meem.

That should shed some light, insha’Allah, on the meaning of this verse.

Action Steps:

  • Memorize these five ayaat! With this word-for-word translation, and some of the material above, you have no excuse left! Just memorize by meaning.
  • Comment when you’ve memorized these five. When you’ve completed memorizing the ayaat, walhamdulillah, post a comment and share it with the community! Together, insha’Allah, we’ll build up our knowledge + understanding + action + memorization of these surahs.
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Qur’anic Oath: Tallahi!

Bismillah

Aqsaam (oaths) in the Qur’an are a very fascinating subject that we should study and focus on more. There are a few components needed for a qasm (oath) to occur. One of them is the harf qasm, a letter that shows there is an oath being taken.

There are a few letters in the Qur’an that are used as harf qasm, for example, Allah ta’ala says “wal ‘aadiyaati dhabhaa”. The harf qasm in this oath is the letter wow (و).

Another harf qasm which does not appear very much in the Qur’an is the letter ‘taa’ (ت). The unique aspect of this letter is that it is only used for Ismul Jalaalah. You will never see the letter ‘taa’ being used to swear by other than Allah azza wa jal.

What is the difference between the harf wow and taa?

The harf taa is only used in very unusual circumstances, while harf wow is the standard harf qasm–the one that appears most in the Qur’an, and harf wow is used to swear by things other than Allah ta’ala.

The harf taa is used in a state of strong and overwhelming emotion, such as astonishment, anger, frustration and amazement.

Harf taa appears a total of nine times in the Qur’an: twice used by Allah azza wa jal (to swear by Himself), once in the speech of Ibrahim alayhi salaam, four times used by the brothers of Yusuf alayhi salaam, and twice in the speech of people in the hereafter.

Here are some examples:

When Ibrahim alayhi salaam was so angered and upset by his people worshipping the idols, he said:

تَاللَّهِ لَأَكِيدَنَّ أَصْنَامَكُم بَعْدَ أَن تُوَلُّوا مُدْبِرِينَ

“by Allah! I will definitely plot a plan (to destroy) your idols after you have gone away and turned your backs.” (21:57)

When the brothers of Yusuf alayhi salaam were just shocked that their father alayhi salaam would not forget and “get over” the alleged death of their brother–in their amazement they said:

تَاللَّهِ تَفْتَأُ تَذْكُرُ يُوسُفَ حَتَّى تَكُونَ حَرَضًا أَوْ تَكُونَ مِنَ الْهَالِكِينَ

“By Allah! You will never cease remembering Yusuf until you become weak with old age, or until you die!” (12:85)

The people of hell-fire, in their complete regret and anger with themselves say:

تَاللَّهِ إِن كُنَّا لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ  إِذْ نُسَوِّيكُمْ بِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“By Allah! We were truly in a manifest error, when we held you (false gods) as equals with the Rabb of all that exists!” (26:97-98)

The Qur’an tells us of a future event, when a companion of Jannah begins to reminisce about a friend he had in the dunya that did not believe in the resurrection. Then a voice calls out and says:

هَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُطَّلِعُونَ

‘Will you look down? ‘ (37:54)

فَاطَّلَعَ فَرَآهُ فِي سَوَاءِ الْجَحِيمِ

“So he looked down and saw him in the midst of the fire,(37:55)

In his gratefulness to Allah, his happiness and relief he says:

تَاللَّهِ إِنْ كِدتَّ لَتُرْدِينِ وَلَوْلَا نِعْمَةُ رَبِّي لَكُنْتُ مِنَ الْمُحْضَرِينَ

“By Allah! You have nearly ruined me! Had it not been for the Blessing of my Rabb, I would certainly have been among those brought forth (to Hell).” (37:56-57)

SubhanAllah.

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