Tafseer Surah Nazi’at, Part 2

This is post #43 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

Continuing into our foray of tafseer of Surah An-Nazi’aat, we reach the story of Musa (alayhi salaam). Allah (‘azza wa jal) says:

هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ مُوسَىٰ

Translation: Has there reached you the story of Moses? [Surah Naazi'aat, verse 15]

One of the interesting aspects of Qur’an you don’t get from the translation is discourse. (A discourse is a single discussion on a single topic.) In the Qur’an, Allah (‘azza wa jal) used rhyming to distinguish different discourses. This means that when the rhyming changes (look at the form of the last word), you can tell that the topic, too, is changing.

And here we see that — the word changes from “as-saahirah” to “Musaa,” with alif-maqsuwr. The next eleven verses keep with this type of rhyming, until the end of the story of Musaa (alayhi salaam).

Allah (subhannahu wa ta’ala) says:

هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ مُوسَىٰ
إِذْ نَادَاهُ رَبُّهُ بِالْوَادِ الْمُقَدَّسِ طُوًى
اذْهَبْ إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُ طَغَىٰ

Translation: Has there reached you the story of Moses? – When his Lord called to him in the sacred valley of Tuwa, “go to Fir’awn (Pharaoh). Indeed, he has transgressed. [Surah An-Nazi'at, verses 15-17]

Allah (‘azza wa jal) uses the word “hadith” to describe the story of Musa. In Arabic, one of the meanings of hadith is a tale that is so old that it has become forgotten, and now seems new again. Because the story of Musa (alayhi salaam) is an old story, one from the time of Bani Isra’eel at least.

Another interesting point is that, from hadith, we hear that when Musa (alayhi salaam) was called to Tuwa, he came running full-speed to get there. He did not delay or come at his leisure. You can also see this in the qualities of Abu Bakr (radiallahu ‘anhu), that he would hasten to good deeds. This is a quality we should all engender in our lives. As one scholar said, “Live for dunya like you’re going to live forever (i.e. put things off because there’s always tomorrow), and live for akhirah like you’re going to die tomorrow.”

Notice also the reason that Allah sent Musa to Fir’aun — because he transgressed. Taghaa (طَغَىٰ) means going beyond the boundaries and limits, like water overflowing from a cup.

And then:

فَقُلْ هَل لَّكَ إِلَىٰ أَن تَزَكَّىٰ
وَأَهْدِيَكَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ فَتَخْشَىٰ

Translation: And say to him, ‘Would you [be willing to] purify yourself, and let me guide you to your Lord so you would fear [Him]?’” [Surah An-Nazi'aat, verses 18-19]

The wording here of Musa is very eloquent and polite. You can translate it as would you care to purify yourself? A very nice, pleasant, respectful addressing.

To Fir’awn. The one who claimed godhood. The one who slaughtered legions of children from Bani Isra’eel.

Surely this is what Allah (‘azza wa jal) meant when He said:

ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ ۖ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ ۚ

Translation: Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. [Surah An-Nahl, verse 125]

Many are those of us Muslims who start becoming practicing (or become Muslim) and don’t apply this ayah! Musa (alayhi salaam) could’ve called Fir’awn a mass-murderer, a child-killer, and worse; but he didn’t. Instead, he asked very politely:

Would you care to purify yourself?

The story continues:

فَأَرَاهُ الْآيَةَ الْكُبْرَىٰ
فَكَذَّبَ وَعَصَىٰ
ثُمَّ أَدْبَرَ يَسْعَىٰ
فَحَشَرَ فَنَادَىٰ
فَقَالَ أَنَا رَبُّكُمُ الْأَعْلَىٰ

Translation: And he showed him the greatest sign, but Pharaoh denied and disobeyed. Then he turned his back, striving. And he gathered [his people] and called out, and said, “I am your most exalted lord.” [Surah An-Nazi'aat, verses 20-24]

“Kathhaba” (كَذَّبَ) with shadda on the thal is a more intense version of kathaba (كَذَبَ — no shadda). Kathaba means to lie, and to deny the truth.

Note in Fir’awn’s claim, he said that he is Al-A’laa (الْأَعْلَىٰ). Aside from being one of Allah’s names, Al-A’laa is in the form of the superlative (the highest degree) of a description; it means “the highest” (literally), from the same root as the names ‘Ali (the masculine form) and ‘Aaliya (the feminine form).

Shaykh Noman (from Bayyinah) mentions that this is not the first time Fir’awn made this claim; indeed, in other surahs, we see that in other places in the story he claimed similar things.

You can’t just make a claim like that and get away with it. Allah says:

فَأَخَذَهُ اللَّهُ نَكَالَ الْآخِرَةِ وَالْأُولَىٰ
إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَعِبْرَةً لِّمَن يَخْشَىٰ

Translation: So Allah seized him in exemplary punishment for the last and the first [transgression]. Indeed in that is a warning for whoever would fear [Allah]. [Verses 25-26]

Notice that khashiya (simply translated as “fear”) is mentioned here again. What did Musa (alayhi salam) call Firawn to? To having khashiyah of Allah — “And let me guide you to your Lord so you would fear [Him]?’” (verse 19).

Truly, this is the fruit of eman in Allah: that you have fear (and hope) in Allah, and that you do (more) good deeds and stay away from sins and evil deeds.

Here, the rhyme scheme changes (new discourse). And so here, we will stop, until next week insha’Allah where we conclude this great surah. May Allah (‘azza wa jal) give us the tawfique to learn from these great lessons and implement them in our lives, ameen!

References:

  • Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.
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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?

Read More »

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Tafseer Surah Naba’, Part 3: Contemplate

This is post #41 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

In the previous two posts, we discussed the first three quarters of this juz; now, we move into the final quarter. After describing some of the punishments of Hellfire, Allah says:

إِنَّ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ مَفَازًا
حَدَائِقَ وَأَعْنَابًا
وَكَوَاعِبَ أَتْرَابًا
وَكَأْسًا دِهَاقً
لَّا يَسْمَعُونَ فِيهَا لَغْوًا وَلَا كِذَّابًا

Translation: Indeed, for the righteous is attainment/success – gardens and grapevines, and full-breasted [companions] of equal age, and a full cup. No ill speech will they hear therein or any falsehood. [Surah An-Naba', verses 31-35]

This is the fire-escape that you almost always see in the Qur’an — the balance of fear and hope. You rarely hear about Hellfire without Paradise, or vice-versa.

What is the benefit of knowing about these pleasures of paradise — pleasures that are not just physical, but spiritual (not hearing any false speech?) Isn’t it enough just to escape Hellfire?

The answer is that you should contemplate them and use them to motivate yourself to do more good deeds. We rarely do this; but the same way that certain punishments in the grave, on the Day of Resurrection, and in Hellfire motivate us, we should use specific rewards of Jannah to motivate us, too.

And who’s promising this? Imagine if you get a cheque in the mail (or an unsolicited email) saying “You just won $10M dollars!” Right away, you know from the sender that this couldn’t possibly be true.

But in this case?

جَزَاءً مِّن رَّبِّكَ عَطَاءً حِسَابًا
رَبِّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا الرَّحْمَٰنِ ۖ لَا يَمْلِكُونَ مِنْهُ خِطَابًا

Translation: – [As] reward from your Lord, [a generous] gift [made due by] account, [From] the Lord of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them, the Most Merciful. They possess not from Him [authority for] speech. [Surah Naba, verses 36-37]

The reward is coming from no other than the Lord of the heavens and the Earth. The One who created all these things can surely deliver what He promised in these ayaat — this, and so much more.

يَوْمَ يَقُومُ الرُّوحُ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ صَفًّا ۖ لَا يَتَكَلَّمُونَ إِلَّا مَنْ أَذِنَ لَهُ الرَّحْمَٰنُ وَقَالَ صَوَابًا

Translation: The Day that the Spirit and the angels will stand in rows, they will not speak except for one whom the Most Merciful permits, and he will say what is correct. [Surah Nabaa, verse 38]

But to get there — you have to go through the Day of Judgement first. Every single human being will go through that great and terrible day; a day when even the angels, who did not sin once, and Ar-Ruh (Jibreel), will stand in silence. Nobody will speak that day out of turn.

ذَٰلِكَ الْيَوْمُ الْحَقُّ ۖ فَمَنْ شَاءَ اتَّخَذَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِ مَآبًا

Translation: That is the True Day; so he who wills may take to his Lord a [way of] return. [Surah Naba', verse 39]

That IS the promised day — Al-Yawm Al-Haqq. Subhanallah, when you recite this with tajweed, you really feel that hard stop on the shaddah of the qaaf in haqq.

And the choice is yours — “fa man shaa,” so whoever wishes, they can go back to their Lord. And finally, the surah concludes with:

إِنَّا أَنْذَرْنَاكُمْ عَذَابًا قَرِيبًا يَوْمَ يَنْظُرُ الْمَرْءُ مَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاهُ وَيَقُولُ الْكَافِرُ يَا لَيْتَنِي كُنْتُ تُرَابًا

Translation: Indeed, We have warned you of a near punishment on the Day when a man will observe what his hands have put forth and the disbeliever will say, “Oh, I wish that I were dust!” [Surah Naba', verse 40]

All this is just a warning of a punishment that’s close, very close — as close as your own death. A warning of things to come, and a day where every human will see what their hands sent forth to the Hereafter.

And this final, curious statement of the kaafir — what does it mean, that he wishes he’ll be dust? Abu Hurayrah mentions that the Messenger of Allah said:

On Resurrection Day, the rights will be paid to those to whom they are due so much so that a hornless sheep will be retaliated for by punishing the horned sheep which broke its horns. [Saheeh Muslim]

That is to say, imagine two sheep, one of which has horns and one doesn’t. In the dunya, the one without horns harmed the one with horns; and in the akhirah, they will be resurrected, and justice will be metted out to both.

After this, all the animals will turn to dust; and the kafir, who did worse than this, who wronged more than this, will wish that his punishment was this light — dust, and to be nothing more.

May Allah allow us to understand this great day and implement the many, many great lessons of this amazing surah.

References:

  • Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2010.
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Tafseer Surah Naba’, Part 2

This is post #40 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

In the previous post, we discussed the first 16 verses of Surah Naba’. The remaining 24 verses discuss the Day of Judgment, Paradise, and Hellfire; you should read them to extract the details. Insha’Allah we’re going to touch on a few points that are interesting.

First, a recap–verse 16 talked about (a continuing discussion of) some of the blessings of Allah (‘azza wa jal) in the dunya on the people. Then–WHAM!–verse 17 says:

إِنَّ يَوْمَ الْفَصْلِ كَانَ مِيقَاتًا

Translation: Indeed, the Day of Judgement is an appointed time. [Surah An-Naba', verse 17]

Suddenly, the topic shifts seamlessly into the Hereafter. Some gems to extract from this verse:

  • Yawm Al-Fasl: The Day of Judgment is called Yawmul Fasli. What’s the meaning of fasl? Arabic students will say “aha! it means class!” But what does it really mean? The root verb is (I believe) fasala, which means to differentiate, to distinguish, to split apart into levels; this, class–students of different levels. And Yawmul-Fasl? The day that the people will be divided into groups and nations and successful and unsuccessful.
  • An Appointment: Meeqat is a word familiar to all the hujjaaj–it means an appointed place (in the context of Hajj), i.e. the points at which Ihram must go on. It can also mean an appointed time; here, Allah (‘azza wa jal) is saying, the Day of Judgment is scheduled at an appointment. It won’t run late. It won’t surprise you early; if anything, it’s already decided when it will happen, down to the nanosecond …

Then Allah (subhannahu wa ta’ala) continues:

يَوْمَ يُنفَخُ فِي الصُّورِ فَتَأْتُونَ أَفْوَاجًا

Translation: The Day the Horn is blown and you will come forth in multitudes. [Surah Naba, verse 18]

The phrase “yunfakhu fis-soor,” might confuse you; yunfakhu is clearly a Baab I word in the passive form (it was done); but with a harf-ul-jarr? In English, we don’t really say things like “the balloon was blown into,” but this is precisely the Arabic construct.

As-Soor means, well, a trumpet; what kind of trumpet is not important. The Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said to the meaning of: “How can I enjoy myself anything, when the angel has already put the trumpet (As-Soor) into his mouth and has taken a breath and stands with his eyes fixed on the throne of Ar-Rahman, waiting for the instant that the command will be given, to blow?” So the sahaba said, “What should we say O Messenger of Allah (since the end of the world is so close)?” He said: “Say: hasbunallaha wa ni’ma al-wakeel,” Allah is sufficient for us and he is Al-Wakeel (the one who takes care of all your affairs).” [Source unknown]

After describing more of the horrors of the Day of Judgment, Allah says:

إِنَّ جَهَنَّمَ كَانَتْ مِرْصَادً

Translation: Indeed, Hell has been lying in wait. [Verse 21]

Mirsaad is a word known very well by the Arabs of that time — and by anyone who plays first-person shooter games. If you’re riding down a road, and people spring out of nowhere and ambush you — that’s mirsaad. Ambush. So we see that Hellfire is a creature; it’s not just some passive flames — but rather, it will ambush those who are walking through life, unaware, that it’s just waiting around the corner.

A couple of verses later, describing the fare of the people of Hellfire, Allah says:

لَّابِثِينَ فِيهَا أَحْقَابًا
لَّا يَذُوقُونَ فِيهَا بَرْدًا وَلَا شَرَابًا
إِلَّا حَمِيمًا وَغَسَّاقًا
جَزَاءً وِفَاقًا

Translation: In which they will remain for ages [unending]. They will not taste therein [any] coolness or drink, Except scalding water and [foul] purulence – An appropriate recompense. [Surah An-Naba', verses 23-26]

We already discussed the food of the people of Hellfire — long, spiky, poisonous fare; and their drink — boiling water, and the juices of the roasting people of Hellfire. And then Allah says: “Jazaa’an wifaaqaa,” an exact and perfect repayment for them.

And this shows that they are the most evil people — that Allah does not wrong them anything or give them more or less than they deserve; and this is what they deserve.

We seek Allah’s refuge in being from among those people.

If you could interview those people now and ask them, “why are you here?” Or, statistically, what trend or trait lead to these people being in Hellfire? Wouldn’t you want to know, so you could avoid that trait?

Allah (‘azza wa jal) explains:

إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا لَا يَرْجُونَ حِسَابًا

Translation: Indeed, they were not expecting an account. [Verse 27]

Hisaab is the taking-to-account that every human being will go through on the Day of Judgment. It’s referred to as “reckoning,” “taking to account,” or similar phrases in translations.

One of the things we learn from studying the verses addressing ahlul-kitaab, is that the verses don’t just address them; they address anyone who has the same characteristics that they have. So if you’re Muslim, and you’re not worried about your hisaab … that’s a very dangerous place to be; Allah (‘azza wa jal) says to these people who denied the truth:

فَذُوقُوا فَلَن نَّزِيدَكُمْ إِلَّا عَذَابًا

Translation: “So taste [the penalty], and never will We increase you except in torment.” [Surah An-Naba', verse 30]

This is a very scary verse. Think about it. Punishment only gets more intense in Hellfire. The easiest part is the beginning; it gets progressively worse and worse and worse. You ask for food? You have to choke down poisonous spikes. You ask for water? You get hameem and ghassaq. You ask for a lighter punishment? You get more punishment.

May Allah protect us all from the punishment of Hellfire.

Insha’Allah we will wrap up Surah Naba’ in our next post, and then on to other suraat in this juz.

References:

  • Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.
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Tafseer Surah Naba’, Part 1

This is post #39 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

The tafseer of Surah Naba’ really speaks for itself; it talks about the Day of Judgment, Paradise, and Hellfire–three strong, recurring themes in the last juz. And this is, of course, the first surah in Juz ‘Amma.

Therefore, we’re going to focus mostly on the linguistic meaning of the words in the verses, and some gleams of tafseer you might not extract from just reading the verses in Arabic.

Allah (‘azza wa jal) says:

عَمَّ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ

Translation: About what are they asking one another? [Surah An-Naba', verse 1]

The first word, ‘amma, is actually a compound of two words; ‘an (عن), which is an interrogative particle (indicates a question) and roughly means “about,” and maa (ما), which means, “what.” They are combined into ‘amma–about what? This is what gives the juz it’s name.

Yatasaa’aloon comes from sa’ala/yas’alu, which means to ask. There’s an additional fourth letter here, the ta (ت), which changes the meaning from the expected “what are they asking” (‘amma yasaluwna) to “what are they asking each other.”

Verse two continues:

عَنِ النَّبَإِ الْعَظِيمِ

Translation: About the great news – [Surah Naba, verse 2]

An-Naba (النَّبَإِ) means news; this is the word that gave the surah it’s name. Atheem means great, just like the name of Allah, Al-Atheem; here, it’s an adjective to naba’.

Allah (‘azza wa jal) continues:

الَّذِي هُمْ فِيهِ مُخْتَلِفُونَ

Translation: That over which they are in disagreement. [Verse 3]

This verse hints at a reality–that people disagree about the Day of Judgment. Muslims believe in it, but non-Muslims don’t; and we argue over it. Then Allah says:

كَلَّا سَيَعْلَمُونَ
ثُمَّ كَلَّا سَيَعْلَمُونَ

Translation: No! They are going to know.Then, no! They are going to know. [Verses 4-5]

Kalla is an emphatic, strong no; in the Qur’an, it negates something before it (which may be deleted); in this case, it’s negating their denial of the Day of Judgment; it WILL come to pass.

This looks similar to Surah At-Takaathur, where we saw two “sa-ya’lamuwn” (or in that case, sawfa ta’lamoon); the first indicated the realization when the person dies, and the second, when they are resurrected.

The difference between ya’lawmuwn and ta’lamuwn is that the former is third-person (they), while the latter is second-person (you). And as for the addition of sa (س) or sawfa (سوف), it makes it certainly future-tense (the mudaari’ verb indicates present or future tense).

Then Allah (subhannahu wa ta’ala) continues:

أَلَمْ نَجْعَلِ الْأَرْضَ مِهَادًا

Translation: Have We not made the earth a resting place? [Verse 6]

The first part of this verse is interesting; it has an alif, which is an interrogative particle (i.e. a question-mark), followed by a negation (lam). It’s almost calling the person to contemplate and say, yes, you did.

Then Allah says:

وَالْجِبَالَ أَوْتَادًا
وَخَلَقْنَاكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا
وَجَعَلْنَا نَوْمَكُمْ سُبَاتًا
وَجَعَلْنَا اللَّيْلَ لِبَاسًا
وَجَعَلْنَا النَّهَارَ مَعَاشًا
وَبَنَيْنَا فَوْقَكُمْ سَبْعًا شِدَادًا

Translation: And the mountains as stakes? And We created you in pairs. And made your sleep [a means for] rest. And made the night as clothing. And made the day for livelihood. And constructed above you seven strong [heavens] [verses 7-12]

Here, we see an enumeration of the many blessings of Allah upon us. Among them are:

  • Mountains that keep the earth pegged in place (tectonic plates), so that continents don’t slide around too much
  • Sleep refreshes and rejuvenates you; get rest out of it.
  • Night time. Can you imagine sleeping in daylight all the time?

A couple of Arabic words to bring to your attention–jibaal is the plural of jabal (جبل), which means mountain. And ma’aash (معاش) means something that everybody has to go out and do; earn a livelihood. Work for a living.

Also, the seven heavens which are implicitly mentioned — all of the scholars are in consensus that the first heaven includes everything in the known universe. What’s beyond it, we don’t know; but we know there are seven samawaat.

Then, Allah (‘azza wa jal) says:

وَجَعَلْنَا سِرَاجًا وَهَّاجًا

Translation: And made [therein] a burning lamp. [Verse 13]

This is where the famous da’ee, Siraaj Wahhaj, picked his name out of. This “burning lamp” refers to none other than the sun; how do we know? Because siraaj means “has light,” and wahhaaj means “gives light.” The moon gives light, but it doesn’t have light–it’s just reflected light from the sun.

Then, Allah says:

وَأَنزَلْنَا مِنَ الْمُعْصِرَاتِ مَاءً ثَجَّاجًا
لِّنُخْرِجَ بِهِ حَبًّا وَنَبَاتًا
وَجَنَّاتٍ أَلْفَافًا

Translation: And sent down, from the rain clouds, pouring water, That We may bring forth thereby grain and vegetation. And gardens of entwined growth. [Verses 14-16]

In verse 14, anzalnaa (أَنزَلْنَا) is the “we form of anzala (أَنزَلَ), which is originally from nazala (نزل). Nazala means to descend; anzala means to cause something to descend. And anzalnaa? “We caused to descend.”

And a point of advanced grammar: in verse 15, Allah says, “li-nukhrija,” (لِّنُخْرِجَ) and not li-nukhriju. Why is nukhriju mansoob, showing fatha instead of damma? The answer is, because it’s lam-ut-ta’leel, the lam of explaining, which turns a mudaari verb into the mansoob case.

And finally–what’s the point of all these verses? Why send down verse after verse after verse, explaining and pointing out the different blessings of Allah?

So that we can think, and contemplate, and understand. These are verses that really illustrate a fragment of Allah’s power. That’s Allah–the one who created the mountains. And the clouds. And rain. And green growth. For us.

Think about it.

Wallahu a’lam.

References:

  • Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.
  • Tafsir ibn Katheer, summarized version, online.
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Tafseer Surah Ghashiyah: Heaven and Hell

This is post #38 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

Allah (‘azza wa jal) says in Surah Al-Ghaashiyah:

هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ الْغَاشِيَةِ

Translation: Has there reached you the report of the Overwhelming [event]? [Surah Ghashiya, verse 1]

The surah starts with a question, to make you think. The companions would say: Allahu wa rasuluhu a’lam (know better), out of humbleness, even know they had an answer in mind. So humble yourself and listen.

Al-Ghashiyah is, of course, “The Overwhelming” — one of the names of the Day of Judgment. Have you heard of it? Sure. But listen:

وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ خَاشِعَةٌ

Translation: [Some] faces, that Day, will be humbled. [Surah Ghashiyah, verse 2]

Khaashiyah is from the same root as khushoo–humility.All these people who never humbled themselves to Allah with khushoo’, on that day, will be humbled with khushoo’.

And the indefinitivity of “wujoohun,” some faces, gives us hope–it won’t be everybody.

But it’s too late for them.

عَامِلَةٌ نَّاصِبَةٌ

Translation: Working [hard] and exhausted. [Surah Ghaashiyah, verse 3]

This verse is hard to translate; it means you will see, on their faces, tiredness. Have you ever seen someone who didn’t sleep for two days? Or someone working at McDonalds/Popeyes/etc, standing all day?

Or try going to Walmart at 11pm. You see the tiredness in the faces of people. On the Day of Judgment, there will be no respite from tiredness, no “here’s a lunch break, come back for more punishment in 15 minutes.”

Then Allah says:

تَصْلَىٰ نَارًا حَامِيَةً
تُسْقَىٰ مِنْ عَيْنٍ آنِيَةٍ
لَّيْسَ لَهُمْ طَعَامٌ إِلَّا مِن ضَرِيعٍ
لَّا يُسْمِنُ وَلَا يُغْنِي مِن جُوعٍ

Translation: They will [enter to] burn in an intensely hot Fire. They will be given drink from a boiling spring. For them there will be no food except from a poisonous, thorny plant (dariy’), which neither nourishes nor avails against hunger. [Surah Ghashiyah, verses 5-8]

“Aynun aaniyah,” a spring of boiling hot water, so hot, that it would kill a person. Nobody would ever think about drinking such a thing normally–but they will be so intensely thirsty, that they will drink anything that they see. Even this.

But they won’t die.

And for food? Dariy’, which was known to the Arabs of that time, is a thorny plant. When it’s soft, camels eat it; but when it ripens, big, long, HUGE thorns erupt out of it–thorns which can choke you. And on top of that, it’s poisonous and can kill. Nobody would ever think about eating such a thing normally–but they will be so intensely hungry, that they will eat anything they see. Even this.

But they won’t die.

And all that eating and drinking, you’d think they’d slack their thirst or hunger; but Allah says, no, it won’t help you anything.

Then Allah says:

وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ نَّاعِمَةٌ
لِّسَعْيِهَا رَاضِيَةٌ

Translation: [Other] faces, that Day, will show pleasure. With their effort [they are] satisfied. [Surah Ghaashiyah, verses 9-10]

When you really understand and recite these verses, it’s almost like a breath of fresh air after all the verses of Hellfire. Others on that day, will have brightness, softness–naa’imah. And they will be pleased with the reward that Allah dispenses them.

So what do they get? What is this exclusive reward, for those who avoid Hellfire? Let’s take a quick peek at some of the things waiting for them and us, insha’Allah:

فِي جَنَّةٍ عَالِيَةٍ
لَّا تَسْمَعُ فِيهَا لَاغِيَةً
فِيهَا عَيْنٌ جَارِيَةٌ
فِيهَا سُرُرٌ مَّرْفُوعَةٌ
وَأَكْوَابٌ مَّوْضُوعَةٌ
وَنَمَارِقُ مَصْفُوفَةٌ
وَزَرَابِيُّ مَبْثُوثَةٌ

Translation: In an elevated garden, wherein they will hear no unsuitable speech. Within it is a flowing spring. Within it are couches raised high. And cups put in place. And cushions lined up. And carpets spread around. [Surah Ghashiyah, verses 10-16]

When you read these verses, verse after verse, you get a sense of preparation. An elevated, penthouse suite with a spring in it. High, elevated couches. Cups all set out for drinking, and cushions sitting in a row, and the carpet rolled out.

Because when it comes down to it, it’s either this, or hameem and dariy’. The choice is yours. Choose wisely … because Hellfire is not really a choice at all.

References:

  • Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.
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Tafseer Surah Tariq: You Will Be Recreated

This is post #37 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

Allah says, in Surah Tariq:

وَالسَّمَاءِ وَالطَّارِقِ
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الطَّارِقُ
النَّجْمُ الثَّاقِبُ

Translation: By the sky and the night comer (At-Tariq), And what can make you know what is the night comer? It is the piercing star. [Surah At-Taariq, verses 1-3]

As we mentioned before, one of the characteristics of early and Mecci surahs, like this one, is that they begin with a qasam — an oath, a testification. And this shows the greatness of that thing, that Allah (‘azza wa jal) is testifying by it.

As we mentioned before, we should always ask yourself — why is Allah testifying? Of all books, this book is the Qur’an, the most important book; and of all speakers, the speaker is Allah, the Rabb of creation. AND on top, Allah is testifying.

Why?

Allah continues (skipping a verse):

فَلْيَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ
خُلِقَ مِن مَّاءٍ دَافِقٍ
يَخْرُجُ مِن بَيْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَائِبِ
إِنَّهُ عَلَىٰ رَجْعِهِ لَقَادِرٌ

Translation: So let man observe from what he was created. He was created from a fluid, ejected, Emerging from between the backbone and the ribs. Indeed, Allah , to return him [to life], is Able. [Surah Tariq, verses 5-8]

Allah then talks about the creation of man, and how man was created from virtually nothing; from this, a full, functional human being emerges. And then Allah (‘azza wa jal) mentions–as was mentioned in many other verses–that He is able to bring them back to life.

This is an aspect that the mushrik Arabs had a very hard time grasping; they would be resurrected, after becoming bones and then dust? And not only that, Allah mentions elsewhere, that He will recreate us down to our fingertips–every detail, perfectly recreated, as it was originally created.

And we intuitively understand this. If you think about manufacturing, what’s the hardest part? Coming up with a product or idea the first time! Once it’s been done, it’s usually much less effort to recreate and redo it over and over–and in bulk!

And then, Allah says:

يَوْمَ تُبْلَى السَّرَائِرُ
فَمَا لَهُ مِن قُوَّةٍ وَلَا نَاصِرٍ

Translation: The Day when secrets will be put on trial, Then man will have no power or any helper. [Verses 9-10]

That’s where we are going — resurrection on a day when all the secrets will be exposed publicly, on a day when we will have no strength, no power, and nobody to help us.

Everyone stands alone on that day.

We discussed prior verses about the day when graves will be dumped open, and that hearts will be peeled; here, we see another aspect — secrets will be exposed publicly.

Ibn Katheer mentions in his tafseer a hadith from Bukhari and Muslim regarding this verse:

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: The Prophet said, “For every betrayer (perfidious person), a flag will be raised on the Day of Resurrection, and it will be announced (publicly) ‘This is the betrayal (perfidy) of so-and-so, the son of so-and-so.’” [Recorded in Bukhari here, here, here, and here with slight variations.]

Imagine that! That person who you betrayed secretly, whom nobody saw you plan against … that day, not only will it be publicly announced in front of the entire human race that you did so, but to make sure that people know who’s being mentioned, you’ll have a big flag pointing you out.

That’s Allah–the one who sees everything, hears everything, and knows everything, down to the most minute, unimaginably small level. And that is the day that we should prepare for, a day that has no doubt in it.

Thus, tafseer of Surah Tariq.

References:

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Tafseer Surah Humazah: The Crusher

This is post #36 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

In Surah Humazah, Allah (‘azza wa jal) says:

وَيْلٌ لِّكُلِّ هُمَزَةٍ لُّمَزَةٍ

Translation: Woe to every scorner (humazah) and mocker (lumazah). [Surah Al-Humaza, verse 1].

As we mentioned many, many times before in this series, wayl is a curse. And when Allah says wayl about someone, it’s not a curse, but a statement of reality–because He, ‘azza wa jal, is not in need of cursing anyone. Ibn Abbaas (radiallahu ‘anhu) says, wayl is a valley in Hellfire; in this sense, it’s almost as if the person is saying, for what I did, this is what I deserve–come to me, o wayl.

Humazah and lumazah are translated in very similar ways, so we’re going to dive deep into some of the meanings and benefits we can learn from these two words.

Humazah and lumazah are both on the pattern of fu’alah (فُعَلَة); this pattern means that a person does something so excessively that it becomes a characteristic of that person. Someone who does it over and over and over again.

Generally, people mock others for one of three reasons:

  1. Fear: People mock out of fear of being mocked. Muhammad Alshareef mentioned a story of a guy who had some disability, Allahu a’lam what it was, maybe he was missing an arm or something. And you would expect that he’s the kindest person, because so many people make fun of him that he would never do that to another person knowing how it feels–but in fact, he was one of the biggest mockers of others, so that they wouldn’t mock him.
  2. Fame: People mock famous people in order to get some fame; because when you make fun of someone famous, it becomes a tabloid issue and everyone pays more attention to you.
  3. Lack of Understanding: You see often in children, if they don’t understand something, they mock it; they might be sitting in a math class, not understanding second derivatives, and instead, they make fun of the teacher, the class, the topic, everything, as a reaction.

As for the difference between humazah and lumazah, humazah is verbal actions–to backbite, or to cut into someone’s honour or verbally make fun of them. Lumazah, on the other hand, is to use gestures and signs to make fun of the person.

For example, if there’s someone with really big ears, someone who’s humuzah might say “hahahaha look at Mr. Elephant-Ears!” and someone who’s lumazah might put their hands together and make wing-flapping motions.

Then Allah (subhannahu wa ta’ala) mentions two more qualities of the humazah and lumazah individual:

الَّذِي جَمَعَ مَالًا وَعَدَّدَهُ
يَحْسَبُ أَنَّ مَالَهُ أَخْلَدَهُ

Translation: (The one) Who collects wealth and [continuously] counts it. He thinks that his wealth will make him immortal. [Suratal-Humazah, verses 2-3]

We see again and again in Juz ‘Amma, the theme of wealth, and the idea of human beings that wealth will somehow make them live forever.

Yahsabu anna maalahu akhladahu.

alladhiy jama’a maalan, wa ‘addadahu.

Allah says, about this mentality–the people who are humazah, and lumazah, and spend all their time collecting and counting their money, who think that they will live forever:

كَلَّا ۖ لَيُنبَذَنَّ فِي الْحُطَمَةِ

Translation: Kalla (no)! He will surely be thrown into the Crusher. [Verse 4]

Kalla is an emphatic (strong) negation; it negates a mentality or thought or mindset mentioned before it, or after it, or implicit; in this case, the mentality of people mentioned in the past two verses.

Allah says, this person will be thrown into … The Crusher. And not just thrown; but flung into The Crusher. It shows the humiliation and degradation of this person.

Which begs the question: what is The Crusher?

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْحُطَمَةُ
نَارُ اللَّهِ الْمُوقَدَةُ

Translation: And what can make you know what is the Crusher? It is the fire of Allah , [eternally] fueled. [verses 5-6]

Here, we see–it is naarullah, Allah’s fire. As we mentioned previously, Allah associating anything to himself, shows the great nobility and status and grandeur and majesticness of that thing. It’s not just any fire; it’s the fire of Allah!

One of the ‘ulama, rahimahullah, mentioned that, in modern days, what do you do with a car that doesn’t work, that has no use anymore? You can’t sell it, you can’t fix it. What do you do with it?

Throw it into a car-crusher.

And it’s almost like, this human being spent their entire life, and at the end, they’re useless and worthless. So they, too, are thrown into The Crusher.

Then Allah (‘azza wa jal) mentions something terrifying about The Crusher. Something that should cause you wonder and sleepless lights of worry. Allah says:

الَّتِي تَطَّلِعُ عَلَى الْأَفْئِدَةِ

Translation: Which mounts directed at the hearts. [verse 7]

This is not just passive fire. If you read up about Hellfire, it’s almost like a beast; it roars. It speaks. It ambushes. And here, we see that it attacks–it leaps upon the hearts. It attacks. What’s more:

إِنَّهَا عَلَيْهِم مُّؤْصَدَةٌ
فِي عَمَدٍ مُّمَدَّدَةٍ

Translation: Indeed, it (Hellfire) will be closed down upon them, In extended columns. [verses 8-9]

Hellfire is not a wide, open field as many of us imagine; rather, it is closed down. You can imagine being in a car in a car-crusher, looking to the left and right and top and bottom, and seeing the walls move closer and closer, closing down on you.

As Muhammad Alshareef says … if we really understand Hellfire, we know that there is no choice. Hellfire is death upon death, from the food to the air to the water, everything about it; but people never die after the death of dunya.

May Allah, Ar-Rahman, give us all the tawfeeq to avoid The Crusher, out of His infinite mercy–ameen ya rabbil-alameen!

References:

  • Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.
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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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Tafseer Surah Balad, Part 2: Iqtahamaa

This is post #34 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

Picture of the top of the CN tower, as seen from below.

The CN Tower, 150 stories high. Fa laa iqtahamaa al-aqabah.

Continuing our discussion of Surah Balad, Allah (‘azza wa jal) says:

أَلَمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُ عَيْنَيْنِ
وَلِسَانًا وَشَفَتَيْنِ
وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِ

Translation: Have We not made for him two eyes? And a tongue and two lips? And have shown him the two ways?[Surah Al-Balad, verses 8-10]

The word used for ways or paths is “najd.” Najd means a clear path, one where you can see where it’s going. Upward.

Then Allah says:

فَلَا اقْتَحَمَ الْعَقَبَةَ
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْعَقَبَةُ

Translation: But he has not broken through the difficult pass. And what can make you know what is [breaking through] the difficult pass? [verses 10-11]

When you read verse 10, the natural question that pops into your mind is “what is this ‘aqabah, this difficult mountain pass? And verse 11 says, as we discussed very similar verses before, Allah is saying that you will never understand what al-’Aqabah is.

And Iqtahamaa means … if you’ve ever seen Sumo wrestling, the real part is when the two wrestlers (big muscular guys) slam into each other with full power, at full force.

So Allah is giving us a clue. There’s Al-’Aqabah, the mountain pass; and you have to iqtahamaa, climb it at full-force with no holding back. If you’ve ever had to climb tons and tons of stairs–like the CN tower (pictured above, literally thousands of stairs)–you know that to make it to the top, you need to gather your strength and rush, all at once. You don’t climb stairs one by one and stop every few steps.

That‘s iqtahamaa.

So we need to do iqtahamaa of Al-’Aqabah. And we’ll never understand Al-’Aqabah.

But here’s a glimpse:

فَكُّ رَقَبَةٍ
أَوْ إِطْعَامٌ فِي يَوْمٍ ذِي مَسْغَبَةٍ
يَتِيمًا ذَا مَقْرَبَةٍ

Translation: It is the freeing of a slave. Or feeding on a day of severe hunger, An orphan of near relationship. [verse 13-15]

Freeing a slave is something that’s not possible anymore; verse 14 says, feeding a poor person on a day of severe hunger. To feed someone poor when you yourself are hungry, that’s the best sadaqah you can do!

And an orphan of near kin (aka a relative of yours) is someone who has the rights of an orphan, AND the rights of near relatives; so that’s twice the rights of a regular orphan (or a regular relative).

Allah (‘azza wa jal) continues:

أَوْ مِسْكِينًا ذَا مَتْرَبَةٍ

Translation: Or a needy person in misery. [verse 16]

In the phrase “dhaa matraba,” we see in the latter word, turaab (dirt), from taraba (the verb). This eloquently describes a person out in the elements–out with the wind and the rain, with no shelter; someone homeless, clinging to the dirt out of misery.

And the final remark on Al-’Aqabah? The last thing mentioned to do?

ثُمَّ كَانَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْمَرْحَمَةِ
أُولَئِكَ أَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ

Translation: And then being among those who believed and advised one another to patience and advised one another to compassion. Those are the companions of the right. [verses 17-18]

Nothing surprising here–a verse very similar to what we find in Surah Al-’Asr: believe, and call to patience, and call to rahmah (mercy, compassion). These are the winners, the ones who have conquered Al-’Aqabah, the people of the right.

Sounds difficult, right? Well, what’s the alternative?

وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِنَا هُمْ أَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ
عَلَيْهِمْ نَارٌ مُّؤْصَدَةٌ

Translation: But they who disbelieved in Our signs – those are the companions of the left. Over them will be fire closed in. [verses 19-20]

As shaykh Muhammad Alshareef says, if a person really, truly understands Hellfire, there is no choice. Allah (‘azza wa jal) describes His fire as “mu’sadah.” Mu’sadah means that the fire will close down on you.

People often think Hellfire is like a big plain, and there will be people running around. It’s not. It’s described as dark, with chained people, and with fire that is mu’sadah–closes down on you.

May Allah (‘azza wa jal) protect us from it and help us to understand and implement this great surah.

Really, the lesson here is that social services are from the core values of Islam. Praying and fasting and paying zakah and going for Hajj are what Muslims generally think about when you talk about Islam. But it’s more than just that; it’s social services, too.

Wallahu ta’ala a’lam.

References:

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