Central Theme and Relationship with the Previous Surah
This surah is the counterpart of Surah Muzzammil, the previous surah: There is no essential difference between the central themes of both surahs. Even their names share the same meaning. The previous surah directs the Prophet (sws) to prepare for bearing the burden of a heavy word. This surah explicitly explains what is meant by bearing this burden: he should prepare himself to take up the responsibility of indhar (warning people of the Hereafter) and should strongly adhere to his stance even if people violently oppose him. He should leave the matter to God and always remember that his responsibility is solely to remind people through the Qur'an. He is not responsible for making them accept it. Only those will accept it who, in accordance with the law and practice of God, are worthy of this acceptance. Those who are not worthy shall always remain indifferent to it however much the Prophet (sws) tries to guide them.
Analysis of the Discourse
Following is an analysis of the discourse of this surah.
Verses (1-10): The Prophet (sws) is directed to discharge his mission of warning people about the Hereafter with full preparation. He should declare the greatness of His Lord and cleanse and purge his heart from everything which may tarnish it. He should keep himself away from all traces of polytheism and continue with his efforts. For the sake of his Lord, he should hold his ground against all hostilities. The Almighty will make all his efforts bear fruit and the call of Islam will be spread far and wide.
Verses (11-17): The Prophet (sws) should well inform the people about the afflictions of the Day of Judgement. The Day shall be very severe for the disbelievers and they should not consider it to be an easy affair. Those who, inebriated by their riches and status, reckon that on the Day of Judgement, if it comes at all, they shall be given even more than what they presently have, must remember a bare fact: when the Almighty had created them from the wombs of their mothers they were totally alone in this world; they neither had wealth nor status at that time. It was the Almighty who blessed them with wealth and status; but instead of being grateful to their Lord, conceit and vanity overcame them and they held that whatever they had was their right by birth and they would be blessed with even more in the Hereafter. This, it is clear, is a totally false claim. If as a result of this, they rise against the Qur'an, then they should remember that they will have to face a very severe penalty.
Verses (18-25): A depiction of the excuse fashioned by the arrogant leaders of Quraysh to deny the Qur'an and of the disdainful way in which they actually presented this excuse. Sorrow is expressed at this attitude. It is very unfortunate that their estimation about the Qur'an is totally wrong: they reckoned it to be a miracle of a prophet's stirring and eloquent speech and never paid attention to its warning; the fact is that each and every sentence of it is a reality which they will soon encounter.
Verses (26-31): A description of Hell which the disbelievers will encounter. The disbelievers used to indulge in frivolous talk about it. An assertion of the fact that since the disbelievers are overcome by the false claim that they have knowledge of everything, they will make fun of this description and say that such statements are of no use. The truth of the matter is that this description is based on the wisdom of the Almighty. Those who have the desire for the truth will benefit from it, while those who in spite of their ignorant claim of being know-alls will adopt an attitude which shall ruin their fate.
Verses (32-48): An argument on the Hereafter from the manifestations of nature is presented and wonder is expressed at the ignorance of those who are unmindful of the greatest upheaval of the universe. The Qur'an is informing them about it so that all those who want to prepare for it can do so and those who want to evade it are left with no excuse but stubbornness. They should remember that on that Day each person will be held in pledge for his own deeds. Only his deeds will liberate him or lead him to the torment of Hell. No one's deeds or intercession will be of any benefit for any other person. Only the companions of the right hand (ashab al-yamin) will be declared as the victors; they shall live comfortably in Paradise and from there they will inquire from those who will be put in Hell as to what led them to it. In reply, the dwellers of Hell will openly confess the crimes which led them to their state of doom.
Verses (49-52): Wonder is expressed at those who are fleeing from the Message of the Qur'an and the real reason which is making them flee is indicated. The Prophet (sws) is directed to ignore them. His responsibility is only to remind them. Those who do not benefit from this, will see for themselves its dire consequences. Only those shall benefit from it who according to the Almighty's laws deserve to benefit from it.
Text and Translation
بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الۡمُدَّثِّرُ ۙ﴿۱﴾قُمۡ فَاَنۡذِرۡ ۪ۙ﴿۲﴾وَ رَبَّکَ فَکَبِّر۪ۡ﴿ۙ۳﴾وَ ثِیَابَکَ فَطَہِّرۡ ۪﴿ۙ۴﴾وَ الرُّجۡزَ فَاہۡجُرۡ ۪﴿ۙ۵﴾وَ لَا تَمۡنُنۡ تَسۡتَکۡثِرُ ۪﴿ۙ۶﴾وَ لِرَبِّکَ فَاصۡبِرۡ ؕ﴿۷﴾فَاِذَا نُقِرَ فِی النَّاقُوۡرِ ۙ﴿۸﴾فَذٰلِکَ یَوۡمَئِذٍ یَّوۡمٌ عَسِیۡرٌ ۙ﴿۹﴾عَلَی الۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ غَیۡرُ یَسِیۡرٍ ﴿۱۰﴾ذَرۡنِیۡ وَ مَنۡ خَلَقۡتُ وَحِیۡدًا ﴿ۙ۱۱﴾وَّ جَعَلۡتُ لَہٗ مَالًا مَّمۡدُوۡدًا ﴿ۙ۱۲﴾وَّ بَنِیۡنَ شُہُوۡدًا ﴿ۙ۱۳﴾وَّ مَہَّدۡتُّ لَہٗ تَمۡہِیۡدًا ﴿ۙ۱۴﴾ثُمَّ یَطۡمَعُ اَنۡ اَزِیۡدَ ﴿٭ۙ۱۵﴾کَلَّا ؕ اِنَّہٗ کَانَ لِاٰیٰتِنَا عَنِیۡدًا ﴿ؕ۱۶﴾سَاُرۡہِقُہٗ صَعُوۡدًا ﴿ؕ۱۷﴾اِنَّہٗ فَکَّرَ وَ قَدَّرَ ﴿ۙ۱۸﴾فَقُتِلَ کَیۡفَ قَدَّرَ ﴿ۙ۱۹﴾ثُمَّ قُتِلَ کَیۡفَ قَدَّرَ ﴿ۙ۲۰﴾ثُمَّ نَظَرَ ﴿ۙ۲۱﴾ثُمَّ عَبَسَ وَ بَسَرَ ﴿ۙ۲۲﴾ثُمَّ اَدۡبَرَ وَ اسۡتَکۡبَرَ ﴿ۙ۲۳﴾فَقَالَ اِنۡ ہٰذَاۤ اِلَّا سِحۡرٌ یُّؤۡثَرُ ﴿ۙ۲۴﴾اِنۡ ہٰذَاۤ اِلَّا قَوۡلُ الۡبَشَرِ ﴿ؕ۲۵﴾سَاُصۡلِیۡہِ سَقَرَ ﴿۲۶﴾وَ مَاۤ اَدۡرٰىکَ مَا سَقَرُ ﴿ؕ۲۷﴾لَا تُبۡقِیۡ وَ لَا تَذَرُ ﴿ۚ۲۸﴾لَوَّاحَۃٌ لِّلۡبَشَرِ ﴿ۚۖ۲۹﴾عَلَیۡہَا تِسۡعَۃَ عَشَرَ ﴿ؕ۳۰﴾وَ مَا جَعَلۡنَاۤ اَصۡحٰبَ النَّارِ اِلَّا مَلٰٓئِکَۃً ۪ وَّ مَا جَعَلۡنَا عِدَّتَہُمۡ اِلَّا فِتۡنَۃً لِّلَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا ۙ لِیَسۡتَیۡقِنَ الَّذِیۡنَ اُوۡتُوا الۡکِتٰبَ وَ یَزۡدَادَ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اِیۡمَانًا وَّ لَا یَرۡتَابَ الَّذِیۡنَ اُوۡتُوا الۡکِتٰبَ وَ الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ ۙ وَ لِیَقُوۡلَ الَّذِیۡنَ فِیۡ قُلُوۡبِہِمۡ مَّرَضٌ وَّ الۡکٰفِرُوۡنَ مَاذَاۤ اَرَادَ اللّٰہُ بِہٰذَا مَثَلًا ؕ کَذٰلِکَ یُضِلُّ اللّٰہُ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ وَ یَہۡدِیۡ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ ؕ وَ مَا یَعۡلَمُ جُنُوۡدَ رَبِّکَ اِلَّا ہُوَ ؕ وَ مَا ہِیَ اِلَّا ذِکۡرٰی لِلۡبَشَرِ ﴿۳۱﴾کَلَّا وَ الۡقَمَرِ ﴿ۙ۳۲﴾وَ الَّیۡلِ اِذۡ اَدۡبَرَ ﴿ۙ۳۳﴾وَ الصُّبۡحِ اِذَاۤ اَسۡفَرَ ﴿ۙ۳۴﴾اِنَّہَا لَاِحۡدَی الۡکُبَرِ ﴿ۙ۳۵﴾نَذِیۡرًا لِّلۡبَشَرِ ﴿ۙ۳۶﴾لِمَنۡ شَآءَ مِنۡکُمۡ اَنۡ یَّتَقَدَّمَ اَوۡ یَتَاَخَّرَ ﴿ؕ۳۷﴾کُلُّ نَفۡسٍۭ بِمَا کَسَبَتۡ رَہِیۡنَۃٌ ﴿ۙ۳۸﴾اِلَّاۤ اَصۡحٰبَ الۡیَمِیۡنِ ﴿ؕۛ۳۹﴾فِیۡ جَنّٰتٍ ۟ؕۛ یَتَسَآءَلُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۴۰﴾عَنِ الۡمُجۡرِمِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۴۱﴾ مَا سَلَکَکُمۡ فِیۡ سَقَرَ ﴿۴۲﴾قَالُوۡا لَمۡ نَکُ مِنَ الۡمُصَلِّیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۴۳﴾وَ لَمۡ نَکُ نُطۡعِمُ الۡمِسۡکِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۴۴﴾وَ کُنَّا نَخُوۡضُ مَعَ الۡخَآئِضِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۴۵﴾وَ کُنَّا نُکَذِّبُ بِیَوۡمِ الدِّیۡنِ ﴿ۙ۴۶﴾حَتّٰۤی اَتٰىنَا الۡیَقِیۡنُ ﴿ؕ۴۷﴾فَمَا تَنۡفَعُہُمۡ شَفَاعَۃُ الشّٰفِعِیۡنَ ﴿ؕ۴۸﴾ فَمَا لَہُمۡ عَنِ التَّذۡکِرَۃِ مُعۡرِضِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۴۹﴾کَاَنَّہُمۡ حُمُرٌ مُّسۡتَنۡفِرَۃٌ ﴿ۙ۵۰﴾فَرَّتۡ مِنۡ قَسۡوَرَۃٍ ﴿ؕ۵۱﴾بَلۡ یُرِیۡدُ کُلُّ امۡرِیًٔ مِّنۡہُمۡ اَنۡ یُّؤۡتٰی صُحُفًا مُّنَشَّرَۃً ﴿ۙ۵۲﴾کَلَّا ؕ بَلۡ لَّا یَخَافُوۡنَ الۡاٰخِرَۃَ ﴿ؕ۵۳﴾کَلَّاۤ اِنَّہٗ تَذۡکِرَۃٌ ﴿ۚ۵۴﴾فَمَنۡ شَآءَ ذَکَرَہٗ ﴿ؕ۵۵﴾وَ مَا یَذۡکُرُوۡنَ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ یَّشَآءَ اللّٰہُ ؕ ہُوَ اَہۡلُ التَّقۡوٰی وَ اَہۡلُ الۡمَغۡفِرَۃِ ﴿۵۶﴾
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.
O ye enfolded in the shawl! Arise and warn people. And proclaim the greatness of your Lord only, and cleanse the apparel [of your heart] and keep away from impurity and do not discontinue your endeavour regarding it to be more. And show perseverance in the way of your Lord. (1-7)
Thus, when the trumpet is sounded, that Day will be very severe. It will not be easy for the disbelievers. Leave to Me whom I have created alone and bestowed abundant wealth and sons abiding in his presence and fully smoothed out for him the way. Still he expects that I shall give him more. Certainly not! He has turned out to be an enemy of Our revelations. Soon I will make him climb a mounting slope. (8-17)
He pondered and schemed. Cursed be he; what he schemed! Then cursed be he, what a wrong scheme he made. Then he looked about. Then he frowned and made a face. Then he turned away and became arrogant. Then said: "This is nothing but magic which is being handed down from the past! It is nothing but the word of man!" (18-25)
I will soon cast him into Hell. And what have you understood what Hell is? It will neither show mercy nor spare anyone. It scorches the skin. Over it are nineteen angels. (26-30)
And We have appointed none but angels as the keepers of Hell and have mentioned their number only to make it a test for those who have disbelieved. So that the People of the Book receive assurance from this and the believers may increase in their faith and that the People of the Book and the believers have no doubt about it. And so that those who have an ailment in their hearts and those who have disbelieved say: "What can God mean by this mention?" In this way, God leads astray whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases. And no one knows the armies of your Lord except He. And this matter is just a reminder for man. (31)
Certainly not! The moon bears witness and the night also when it turns its back and the morning when it shines forth that this matter is from among the great matters narrated to warn man. For every person among you who wants to advance forward or wants to turn away. Every soul shall be held in pledge for its own deeds. The only exception will be the people of the right hand. They will be in gardens inquiring after the wrongdoers. They will ask: "What has brought you into Hell?" They will reply: "We were not among those who prayed nor did we feed the poor and we used to quibble with these quibblers and used to deny this Day of Reckoning till there came to us this moment of certainty." (32-47)
So, no intercession of the intercessors will be of any use to them. What then is the matter with them that they are turning away from the Reminder, as though they are frightened asses fleeing from a lion? In fact, each one of them desires that he be handed open scrolls. Certainly not! They, in fact, have no fear of the Hereafter. Certainly not! This is just a Reminder. So let him, who wills, take heed – and they will not take heed unless God so wills. He alone is pious and worthy of being forgiven. (48-56)
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الۡمُدَّثِّرُ ۙ﴿۱﴾ قُمۡ فَاَنۡذِرۡ ۪ۙ﴿۲﴾
The words مُدَّثِّر and مُزَّمِّل are synonymous.The former is from دِثَارٌ and refers to a shawl a person that uses to cover himself while sleeping.
As I have explained in the exegesis of the previous surah, covering one's self with a shawl is a symbol of being pensive and worried. The experiences of divine contact which the Prophet (sws) went through at the beginning of his prophethood were in themselves very onerous. When he mentioned these experiences to his family and they started to make fun of them, his worries increased. In these circumstances, he would wear his shawl and mostly remain in seclusion the way a worried person behaves. To alleviate his worries, the Almighty lovingly addressed him as muzzammil and muddaththir so that this address could be a source of comfort for him. It shows that the Almighty is well aware of his circumstances and when He has addressed the Prophet (sws) in such an affectionate manner, He will surely alleviate his worries. Consequently, in the previous surah, he was addressed by the title muzzammil and asked to stand in prayer by night. This of course was meant to be a cure for his worries and also a preparation for a new assignment which would be later spelled out to him.
The wordsقُمۡ فَاَنۡذِرۡ spell out this new assignment which was referred to in the previous verse by the words: (5:73) اِنَّا سَنُلۡقِیۡ عَلَیۡکَ قَوۡلًا ثَقِیۡلًا(soon We shall lay on you the burden of a heavy word, (73:5)). He should arise and with full determination and resolve, warn his people. He should neither worry about the opposition and resistance nor of the adverse and alien circumstances he is facing. If he takes up this task with grit and endurance, the Almighty will ease the way for him and strengthen him with His special divine help. I have already explained in the previous surah under 73:5 quoted earlier that these words refer to the obligation of delivering open warning to his people mentioned in this surah. Generally, people have interpreted the expression قَولٌ ثَقِيْلٌ to mean divine revelation itself. However, divine revelations had already begun; so what was the reason for saying: "I shall soon reveal to you a heavy word." On the other hand, the obligation of indhar (warning) was no doubt a burdensome directive. It was not easy at all to sound the message of tawhid in the ears of the leaders of Makkah and Ta'if and that too with the claim that he was a Messenger of God and that if they denied his open warnings, they would be grievously punished. It was but natural for the Prophet (sws) to become apprehensive of such a heavy responsibility. Consequently, in the initial period, he confined his preaching to his immediate family. To them too, he only communicated certain observations and experiences of his prophethood in order to elicit their reaction. Their reaction in fact was of great animosity. Thus, in this period, he would often remain very anxious and worried. The words مُدَّثِّر and مُزَّمِّل portray this very state of his. The purpose for which the Almighty had sent him had to be fulfilled at all costs. So he was directed first in Surah al-Muzzammil to prepare for this situation and then in this surah, he was directed to fully embark on the mission of extending his sphere of preaching and deliver warnings to all the people around him.
وَ رَبَّکَ فَکَبِّر۪ۡ﴿ۙ۳﴾
This is the first directive of indhar referred to earlier. The belief of tawhid (monotheism) has formed the basic ingredient in the preaching mission of the prophets of God; this means the proclamation of God's greatness and exaltedness alone. Since the object of the verb in this verse has been placed before the verb, it has resulted in specifying this declaration for God only. In other words, whoever other than God claims greatness or whose greatness is claimed by others is all false and the claims are baseless. The Prophet (sws) should only proclaim the greatness of God. In the jahili society of Arabia, this declaration was no less than inviting the wrath and anger of the whole society. However, since the foundation of religion is on tawhid, every prophet was required to openly declare it without showing any hesitation.
وَ ثِیَابَکَ فَطَہِّرۡ ۪﴿ۙ۴﴾
The word ثِيَابٌ is the pluralof ثَوْبٌ andmeans "cloth," However, it can also refer to the heart. In fact, a study of classical Arabic shows that this word also means "the heart's apparel". Imru'u al-Qays has said:
و إن تك قد ساءتك مني خليقة
فسلي ثيابي من ثيابك تنسل
(If any of my actions has upset you, then separate your heart's apparel from mine, and you will be separated from me.)
In this couplet, the poet has used the wordثيابto connote the heart, and this meaning can only be taken when it is metaphorically understood to mean "the heart's apparel."
Imru'u al-Qays has also said:
ثياب بني عوف طهاري نقية
(The hearts of Banu 'Awf are absolutely clean)
While keeping this meaning of the word ثِيَابٌ in mind, the verse would mean that the Prophet (sws) should declare the greatness and oneness of God without any fear. However much as his opponents may force him and make various excuses, he should not let the slightest trace of polytheism contaminate his heart. It should remain clear that the Qur'an in very explicit terms has called the polytheists filthy and polytheism filth. The Prophet (sws) has been given this directive because in the later phases of his mission the leaders of the Quraysh presented a formula of compromise as per which they would accept all what he said on the condition that he agree to regard some status to their deities. However, the Prophet (sws) emphatically rejected this demand and he was also directed by the Almighty that tawhid is the basis of religion and that he should not compromise in any way in this matter. Verses such as(9:68) وَدُّوۡا لَوۡ تُدۡہِنُ فَیُدۡہِنُوۡنَ (they desire that you be flexible, then they will also become flexible, (68:9))and others refer to this very aspect. In the verse under discussion too, the Prophet (sws) has been categorically told to adhere strictly to tawhid. In other words, by addressing the Prophet (sws) and giving him this directive it is actually the Idolaters who are told that polytheism is such filth that a Messenger of God does not even tolerate its slightest trace.
وَ الرُّجۡزَ فَاہۡجُرۡ ۪﴿ۙ۵﴾
The words رُجۡز ,رِجْس and رِجْز have very similar pronunciations and are also similar in meaning. The word رُجْز is used for the filth which makes a person feel abhorrence and disgust. It can refer to every type of filth, but here it specifically refers to the filth of polytheism, and the purpose is to stress upon what is said in the previous verse:وَ ثِیَابَکَ فَطَہِّرۡ (and cleanse your heart's apparel).
This directive was not required to be given to the Prophet (sws) because, God forbid, there was no chance of him being involved in it in any way. Just as he remained a staunch and pure monotheist after becoming a prophet, there was not the slightest trace of polytheism found in his beliefs even before this. The objective was to communicate to the disbelievers and the idolaters that the warner who had come to them had a very definite stance on polytheism and that he had very clear injunctions from his Lord in this matter.
وَ لَا تَمۡنُنۡ تَسۡتَکۡثِرُ ۪﴿ۙ۶﴾
Just as the word مَنٌّ means to do a favour to someone, it also means to cut something. In Surah al-Qalam, it is said:وَ اِنَّ لَکَ لَاَجۡرًا غَیۡرَ مَمۡنُوۡنٍ (3:68) (and indeed for you is a reward unending, (68:3)). The implication of the verse under discussion is that he must continue with the preaching and warning mission he has been asked to undertake, and not discontinue it thinking that he has done it to a great extent and that it was not required any more. He should carry on this divinely assigned task and only discontinue when the Almighty tells him to do so.
Grammatically, the word تَسۡتَکۡثِرُ is not the response to the negative sentence. Had it been so, it would have had a jazm. Though some reciters have read it with a jazm, however since the mutawatir recital is that of dammah, hence, I would prefer to read it thus, and have interpreted it with a dammah. In such a case, the word should either be regarded to be in the capacity of an accusative of state (hal) or an independent sentence. In my opinion, it is the former.
The word اِسْتِكْثَارٌ generally has two meanings. Firstly, to do something a lot or to want something a lot, and secondly, to regard or reckon something to be a lot. It is used in the first meaning in the following verse: وَ لَوۡ کُنۡتُ اَعۡلَمُ الۡغَیۡبَ لَاسۡتَکۡثَرۡتُ مِنَ الۡخَیۡرِ (188:7) (Had I possessed knowledge of what is hidden, I would have availed myself of much that is good, (7:188)) and lexicographers have explained the second meaning thus: استكثر الشيء: رآه كثيرا أو عده كثيرا (the expression استكثر الشيء meansto regard or count something to be a lot). The author of Aqrab al-mawaridhas stated this second meaning first. In my opinion, in the verse under discussion, it denotes this very meaning. The verse, as pointed out earlier, would therefore mean that the Prophet (sws) should continue to discharge the responsibility of warning his people without any break and should never suspend it thinking that he has done a lot and that it was not required any more.
This directive has been given because the divine law about a messenger's responsibility of warning his people is that if his people remain indifferent to it, then after giving them respite for a certain period of time, the Almighty necessarily destroys them. I have explained this law at many places in this exegesis. As per this law, this time is given to them so that the truth is communicated to them to such an extent that they are left with no legitimate excuse to deny it, and only the Almighty knows how much time should be granted to a people for this purpose. The obligation of the messenger is to continue to communicate the truth and warn them of the grave consequences of denying it until the Almighty asks him to stop and tells him that he has completed his task; then he should consign their fate to Him and migrate from that land. If a messenger decides to migrate on the basis of his own assessment that he has completed his assignment, then there is a strong chance that he might end up wrongly assessing the situation and making the same mistake as Jonah (sws) made. He was rebuked by the Almighty for this decision and after putting him through a severe trial he was sent back by the Almighty to his assignment with his people. It was after he resumed his assignment and continued with it that the Almighty blessed all his people with the urge to accept the faith.
In order to protect Prophet Muhammad (sws) from a similar expression of haste, the Almighty in the very first phase, bade him to carry out without any break, his divinely appointed task of warning his people; he was never to decide himself to discontinue this responsibility thinking he had done enough. In other words, this decision was not to be taken by him; it was to be taken by God. Thus verses likeفَاصۡبِرۡ لِحُکۡمِ رَبِّکَ وَ لَا تَکُنۡ کَصَاحِبِ الۡحُوۡتِ (48:68) (so with patience, wait for the judgement of your Lord and be not like the companion of the fish, (68:48)) instruct the Prophet (sws) to exercise patience and here in this surah too, the next verse conveys precisely the same message to the Prophet (sws).
Our exegetes have generally interpreted this verse to mean that the Prophet (sws) was not to do a favour to someone thinking that he would receive a greater favour in return. Although it is possible to interpret this verse in this way, a question arises on this interpretation viz a viz the occasion and context of this verse. In the given context and background, what is the need for such advice for the Prophet (sws)? In my opinion, our exegetes have faltered in ascertaining the correct meaning of both words of this verse. My explanation of the verse has brought forth its true interpretation; there is no need for any further discussion on it.
وَ لِرَبِّکَ فَاصۡبِرۡ ؕ﴿۷﴾
This verse has precisely the same meaning as: وَ اصۡبِرۡ لِحُکۡمِ رَبِّکَ فَاِنَّکَ بِاَعۡیُنِنَا (48:52) (therefore, with perseverance wait the judgement of your Lord: We are watching over you, (52:48)). When the word اصۡبِرۡ is used with the prepositionلِ, it means to wait with patience and perseverance.
The directive given in this verse relates to the previous verse: the Prophet (sws) should not discontinue his endeavour at some stage regarding it to be sufficient; he should continue with it with patience and perseverance and wait for the decision of his Lord. On this perseverance hinges not only his own success but also the communication of the truth to his people to the extent that they are not left with any excuse to deny it.
فَاِذَا نُقِرَ فِی النَّاقُوۡرِ ۙ﴿۸﴾فَذٰلِکَ یَوۡمَئِذٍ یَّوۡمٌ عَسِیۡرٌ ۙ﴿۹﴾عَلَی الۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ غَیۡرُ یَسِیۡرٍ ﴿۱۰﴾
Mentioned in this verse is the real subject of the Prophetic warning. The foundation of every vice is merely showing indifference to it. A big reason for the Quraysh's animosity to the warning of the Prophet (sws) was that they neither believed in the Day of Judgement nor wanted to believe in it. In the first place, they regarded it to be improbable and unlikely, and if they did believe in it to any extent, then they would argue that because they had been blessed with wealth and affluence in this world, on the Day of Judgement too they would be similarly blessed. Moreover, if the Almighty intended to punish them, their deities would save them through their intercession. The verse thus warns them that the Day of Judgement which will be heralded by the sound of a trumpet will be very severe for them.
The words عَلَی الۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ غَیۡرُ یَسِیۡرٍ say that though the disbelievers regard that day to be very for easy them, on the contrary it will be stern and harsh for them.
This verse only states in a negative style what has been said earlier in a positive way and in this way is actually a very subtle sarcasm on the foolish attitude of the disbelievers: they regard it to be improbable and arrogantly express that they will reckon with it when it comes. These verses say that the day will not at all be an easy one to contend with; it will be very tough; hence, whatever is to be done for it, can only be done in this world. He who has lost this opportunity, will be seized forever and seized in such a manner that no one will be able to rescue him.
ذَرۡنِیۡ وَ مَنۡ خَلَقۡتُ وَحِیۡدًا ﴿ۙ۱۱﴾وَّ جَعَلۡتُ لَہٗ مَالًا مَّمۡدُوۡدًا ﴿ۙ۱۲﴾وَّ بَنِیۡنَ شُہُوۡدًا ﴿ۙ۱۳﴾وَّ مَہَّدۡتُّ لَہٗ تَمۡہِیۡدًا ﴿ۙ۱۴﴾ثُمَّ یَطۡمَعُ اَنۡ اَزِیۡدَ ﴿٭ۙ۱۵﴾
These verses admonish the megalomaniac leaders of Makkah and Ta'if. They regarded their affluence to be a sign of correctness of their beliefs and deeds and of them being God's favourites. They would thus contend that even if there was going to be a Day of Judgement there was no danger for them of which they are being warned, and would in fact be blessed with much more. The Almighty has directed the Prophet (sws) to leave the matter of such people to Him and He is sufficient to deal with them alone. The Prophet (sws) should not be worried about them.
The style ذَرۡنِیۡ وَ مَنۡ خَلَقۡتُ وَحِیۡدًا of the verse is very similar to وَ ذَرۡنِیۡ وَ الۡمُکَذِّبِیۡنَ اُولِی النَّعۡمَۃِ وَ مَہِّلۡہُمۡ قَلِیۡلًا (11:73) (and leave the matter of these rejecters who enjoy the comforts of life to Me and give them a little respite, (73:11)) mentioned in the previous surah. I have explained it there.
The expression خَلَقۡتُ وَحِیۡدًا refers to the fact that when man comes into this world, he is without wealth and status and without comrades and confidants. He receives these things only because of God's special favour, and they remain with him as long as the Almighty wishes them to. His obligation towards this favour is that he should become very grateful to God. This favour should not make him arrogantly believe that he is God's favourite and that if ever there is going to be a Day of Judgement, he will receive even more of God's blessings. At another place, this subject is mentioned in the following words:
وَ لَقَدۡ جِئۡتُمُوۡنَا فُرَادٰی کَمَا خَلَقۡنٰکُمۡ اَوَّلَ مَرَّۃٍ (94:6) (and now you have returned to Us alone, as We created you the first time, (6:94)). In other words, the verse is directing the Prophet (sws) to leave such an arrogant and grandiose person to the Almighty; he came into this world alone and when the Almighty gave him wealth and status he became conceited, and now that he is being told to fear the Hereafter, he becomes even more conceited by saying that he will receive even more blessings of God in the Hereafter.
Here the question arises whether the verse is referring to a particular person or is referring to the mentality of the generally affluent people of Makkah and Ta'if. Exegetes are of the opinion that the reference is to Walid ibn Mughirah, a leader of the Quraysh. In my opinion there is no reason for restricting the verse to him. The mentality depicted here is not just that of Walid ibn Mughirah; it is that of all the leaders and affluent people of the Quraysh. And such is the universal nature of this trait that most people who are rich and also have a high status end up with this despicable mentality. Very few people are able to protect themselves from this contagious disease. Thus it would not be proper to believe that these verses have been revealed with regard to Walid ibn Mughirah. Of course the mentality and character they depict also apply to him. I have already explained in the introduction to this tafsir that when our early scholars say that a particular verse has been revealed with regard to a specific person, they do not necessarily imply that the verse was revealed because of that person; at times, they intend to refer to just one application of the verse. The subject discussed here is raised at many other places as well, and at all such places the purpose of the Qur'an is to point out the common mentality of the arrogant people and not to some specific person.
It should also be kept in consideration that the word مَنْ used here which is used for both singular and plural entities, and both types of antecedents can be used for it.
The sentence وَ جَعَلۡتُ لَہٗ مَالًا مَّمۡدُوۡدًا refers to the fact that when he came into this world, he was without any wealth or children; he came without any resources nor helpers or supporters. It was purely a favour of God that He gave him assets which were spread out. This means that at some places he had orchards, at others houses; similarly, if one area housed his sheep and cattle, others boasted his agricultural lands, business ventures and shops. The capitalists of these times have bank accounts in every country and investments in companies found all over the world; they must also be counted among the category of "spread out wealth."
The expression وَ بَنِیۡنَ شُہُوۡدًا refers to the fact that not only did the Almighty bless him with wealth, He also blessed him with sons who were his supporters in every place and front, and who were there to help his widely scattered business ventures. It needs to be appreciated that in a tribal system, the support and help of a family has always occupied a great status. On this depended the survival and defence of a tribe. The person who had the most sons and family members would be made the leader of a tribe, and the sons too had to be so capable and alert that they could stand by the side of their father whenever any need arose. The word شُہُوۡد points to this aspect.
The words وَ مَہَّدۡتُّ لَہٗ تَمۡہِیۡدًا refer to the fact that by blessing him with wealth and sons the path of attaining respect and dignity, leadership and say in the society was paved for him.
The verse ثُمَّ یَطۡمَعُ اَنۡ اَزِیۡدَ implies that the obligation of divine favours bestowed on him was that he be a grateful and obedient person to his Lord. On the contrary, after receiving these divine favours, he became arrogant and haughty. When he was warned that a day is to come which will be very severe for the ungrateful and the disbelievers, he would claim that if ever such a day will come he would receive even more favours than he had received in the present world.
کَلَّا ؕ اِنَّہٗ کَانَ لِاٰیٰتِنَا عَنِیۡدًا ﴿ؕ۱۶﴾
This verse is an emphatic negation of the false claim of such megalomaniacs. Their dream is going to be shattered. The favours bestowed on them by the Almighty were neither because they were entitled to them nor because they had earned them through their own planning; they were given to them purely as a blessing of the Almighty to test whether they remain grateful and obedient to Him or become rebellious towards Him and show arrogance and spread disorder in the land. It became evident from this test that they became enemies of God after receiving these favours. The word "verses" here refer to the verses of the Qur'an in general and in particular to those who warn them of worldly punishment and the one they will face in the next world and are the ones which inform them that in this world it is only the Almighty who runs its affairs and in the next also, only He will be running the affairs as the supreme Lord.
سَاُرۡہِقُہٗ صَعُوۡدًا ﴿ؕ۱۷﴾
The word اِرْهَاقٌ means "to put someone through hardship" and صَعُود refers to a peak or a steep slope which is very difficult to climb.
The verse actually mentions the punishment for showing ingratitude to the favours spelled out in the verse وَ مَہَّدۡتُّ لَہٗ تَمۡہِیۡدًا above. After receiving favours, they started to cherish and worship these favours forgetting the Being Who had given them the favours and started to worship their own desires. Such was the extent of this worship that they could not find in themselves the courage to fight any of their desires. For this reason, they will be made to climb a mounting slope in the Hereafter.
Here one needs to keep in mind the nature of virtue and vice: the Almighty has given man an awareness of the two; at the same time, He has put him through a test that the pleasures of vice are immediate and its pangs have been deferred to the Hereafter; on the other hand, hardships are encountered immediately when a person treads the path of virtue and its benefits are deferred. The result is that when a person adopts the path of virtue, his inner desires oppose him at every step and make him climb steep slopes, and if he adopts the path of vice, then he does gain immediate pleasure and he thinks that the punishment of vice is far-fetched. Because of this attraction, the majority adopts this path. Only those have the courage to adopt the path of virtue who have perseverance and fortitude in them and to inculcate these qualities a person has to really work hard. While pointing to this aspect, Jesus (sws) is reported to have said: "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew, 7:13-14)
In Surah al-Balad, the words used are:
وَ ہَدَیۡنٰہُ النَّجۡدَیۡنِ.فَلَا اقۡتَحَمَ الۡعَقَبَۃَ.وَ مَاۤ اَدۡرٰىکَ مَا الۡعَقَبَۃُ .فَکُّ رَقَبَۃٍ .اَوۡ اِطۡعٰمٌ فِیۡ یَوۡمٍ ذِیۡ مَسۡغَبَۃٍ .یَّتِیۡمًا ذَا مَقۡرَبَۃٍ .اَوۡ مِسۡکِیۡنًا ذَا مَتۡرَبَۃٍ .ثُمَّ کَانَ مِنَ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَ تَوَاصَوۡا بِالصَّبۡرِ وَ تَوَاصَوۡا بِالۡمَرۡحَمَۃِ .اُولٰٓئِکَ اَصۡحٰبُ الۡمَیۡمَنَۃِ .وَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا بِاٰیٰتِنَا ہُمۡ اَصۡحٰبُ الۡمَشۡـَٔمَۃِ .عَلَیۡہِمۡ نَارٌ مُّؤۡصَدَۃٌ .(90: 10-20)
And We have shown man the two ways that lead to good and evil. But he did not surmount the steep path. And what have you understood what this steep path is? Freeing of a slave or feeding, in days of famine, of an orphan near of kin or an indigent [down] in the dust – then he be of those who accepted faith and who counselled one another to be patient and sympathetic. (90: 10-20)
The Qur'an regards only those to be worthy of success in the Hereafter who have the courage to surmount the steep path of virtue in this world. Those who will not show the courage to surmount it in this world will have to face the steep path of Hell. They will be forced to cross it but they will not be able to do so.
اِنَّہٗ فَکَّرَ وَ قَدَّرَ ﴿ۙ۱۸﴾ فَقُتِلَ کَیۡفَ قَدَّرَ ﴿ۙ۱۹﴾ ثُمَّ قُتِلَ کَیۡفَ قَدَّرَ ﴿ۙ۲۰﴾ ثُمَّ نَظَرَ ﴿ۙ۲۱﴾ ثُمَّ عَبَسَ وَ بَسَرَ ﴿ۙ۲۲﴾ ثُمَّ اَدۡبَرَ وَ اسۡتَکۡبَرَ ﴿ۙ۲۳﴾ فَقَالَ اِنۡ ہٰذَاۤ اِلَّا سِحۡرٌ یُّؤۡثَرُ ﴿ۙ۲۴﴾ اِنۡ ہٰذَاۤ اِلَّا قَوۡلُ الۡبَشَرِ ﴿ؕ۲۵﴾
It is said in verse sixteen: "he has turned out to be an enemy of Our revelations." Depicted in these verses is a picture of this animosity, and if one deeply deliberates on these verses, one will conclude that it is a very comprehensive picture.
The words اِنَّہٗ فَکَّرَ وَ قَدَّرَ imply that when the Qur'an was recited to him, instead of showing his reaction immediately, he took some time to ponder so that the onlookers would think that their leader was taking the matter seriously and would express his opinion after pondering over it. The word وَ قَدَّرَ means that after pondering over the matter, he thoroughly weighed the opinion that came to his mind so that what he uttered would find roots in the hearts of people, and everyone would vouch for the veracity of the opinion expressed.
He is cursed twice in the verses فَقُتِلَ کَیۡفَ قَدَّرَ ثُمَّ قُتِلَ کَیۡفَ قَدَّرَ even before his opinion is expressed. The reason for this emphatic disapproval is not only to express the hideous nature of his opinion, but also to make the listeners aware of how foolishly a person talks when he has lost his senses; he tries to convince people that a pebble is a pearl and thinks that there is no one as intellectually gifted as him.
The verses ثُمَّ نَظَرَ ثُمَّ عَبَسَ وَ بَسَرَ ثُمَّ اَدۡبَرَ وَ اسۡتَکۡبَرَ portray the arrogant style he adopted while expressing his opinion. A little deliberation will show that such is the graphic nature of this portrayal by the Qur'an that even if his opinion is not expressed, a connoisseur of such a style will easily understand what opinion this style reflects. First, in a state of deep reflection, he lifted his face assessing the faces of the people in order to judge their moods and see whether it was the right time to express his opinion. He then frowned and made a face so that those who saw him came to know merely through his demeanour that he had formed a very hopeless opinion about the Book of God. He then very arrogantly turned away muttering some words under his breath.
Although there was no further need for any detail after the above mentioned portrayal since his style and demeanour were enough to reveal his opinion, the Qur'an has still gone on to cite the venomous words he said while arrogantly walking away اِنۡ ہٰذَاۤ اِلَّا سِحۡرٌ یُّؤۡثَرُ. اِنۡ ہٰذَاۤ اِلَّا قَوۡلُ الۡبَشَرِ (he said that the Qur'an is mere sorcery and magic and that it is only a human discourse).
I have pointed many times in this exegesis to the reason on account of which the Quraysh often called the Qur'an to be magic: when it no longer was possible for them to deny its miraculous eloquence and its potent influence, they embarked upon a propaganda campaign against it and started calling it magic so that the common masses were led to believe that it was not divine and that they need not be overawed by it in this regard. Thus by calling it magic they wanted to make people believe that the reason for its tremendous efficacy was not that it was divine but that it was mere magic of words and that it was not something unique so as to have come into creation for the first time and be specific to the Qur'an only. It was something which existed from previous times. The implication is that many orators and poets lived in their country whose works had this magic; however, no one regarded them to be messengers of God and nor did they themselves claim to be so and nor did anyone regard their work to be of divine origin, so what then was the characteristic of this discourse that it be regarded divine.
The verse اِنۡ ہٰذَاۤ اِلَّا قَوۡلُ الۡبَشَرِ says that this is merely a human discourse. It may hold its audience spellbound but should not be elevated to the divine.
سَاُصۡلِیۡہِ سَقَرَ ﴿۲۶﴾ وَ مَاۤ اَدۡرٰىکَ مَا سَقَرُ ﴿ؕ۲۷﴾ لَا تُبۡقِیۡ وَ لَا تَذَرُ ﴿ۚ۲۸﴾
Portrayed in these verses is the fate of such an arrogant person. The verse وَ مَاۤ اَدۡرٰىکَ مَا سَقَرُ is an expression of the horrific nature of Hell. It should not be regarded as something ordinary. Its horror cannot be imagined in this world. Only those will have an idea of it who encounter it. Unfortunate is he who spends his life in indifference to it. It needs to be noted that such an address is general in nature and there is no reason to regard it to be directed at the Prophet (sws).
Consider next the verse: لَا تُبۡقِیۡ وَ لَا تَذَرُ. The phrase اَبْقَي عَلَيْهِ means "to show mercy and clemency." Though the preposition is not mentioned here and neither is there any occasion for its mention, however the verb is used here in this very meaning. The implication is that such will be the horrific and oppressive nature of Hell that it will neither show the slightest mercy to anyone by reducing its agony for its dwellers nor will it ignore anyone allowing that person to go free. In other words, one should neither expect mercy from it nor being ignored by it. It will be ruthless to the ultimate extent and also fully vigilant.
. O ye enfolded in the shawl! Arise and warn people.
. And proclaim the greatness of your Lord only.
. And cleanse the apparel [of your heart].
. 'Abd al-Qadir ibn 'Umar al-Baghdadi, Khazanah al-adab wa lubb lubab lisan al-'arab, 1st ed., vol. 2 (Beirut: Dar al-kutub al-'ilmiyyah, 1998), 326.
. Muhammad ibn Mukarram ibn Manzur, Lisan al-'arab, 1st ed., vol. 6 (Beirut: Dar sadir, n.d.), 263.
. And keep away from impurity.
. And do not discontinue your endeavour regarding it to be more.
. Sa'id al-Khuri al-Shartuni, Aqrab al-mawarid fi fusahi al-'arabiyyah wa al-shawarid, 1st ed., vol. 4 (Tehran: Dar al-uswah, 1416 AH), 520.
. And show perseverance in the way of your Lord.
. Thus, when the trumpet is sounded, that Day will be very severe. It will not be easy for the disbelievers.
. Leave to Me whom I have created alone and bestowed abundant wealth and sons abiding in his presence and well smoothed out for him the way. Still he expects that I shall give him more.
. Certainly not! He has turned out to be an enemy of Our revelations.
. Soon I will make him climb a mounting slope.
. He pondered and schemed. Cursed be he; what he schemed! Then cursed be he, what a wrong scheme he made. Then he looked about. Then he frowned and made a face. Then he turned away and became arrogant. Then said: "This is nothing but magic which is being handed down from the past! It is nothing but the word of man!"
. I will soon cast him into Hell. And what have you understood what Hell is? It will neither show mercy nor spare anyone.