Surahs Kafirun-Nasr

Surahs Kafirun-Nasr


Qur'anic Exegesis

Both these surahs form a pair with regard to their subject-matter. The first is a declaration of the Prophet's renunciation of the Quraysh while the second gives glad tidings of divine help and victory to him. It is evident from their subject-matter that they were revealed in Makkah at the end of the phase of migration and acquittal of the Prophet Muhammad's (sws) preaching mission.

Surah al-Kafirun is directed at the Quraysh, and its theme is to declare renunciation by the Prophet (sws) from the leadership of the Quraysh. Such renunciation, in accordance with the Almighty's law about His messengers, necessarily becomes a prelude to the dominance of the truth.

Surah al-Nasr is addressed to Prophet Muhammad (sws), and its theme is to give glad tidings to him about the supremacy of Islam in the Arabian peninsula, and, consequently, to direct him to prepare for his meeting with the Almighty.

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Explanation

Surah al-Kafirun

بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ

قُلۡ یٰۤاَیُّہَا الۡکٰفِرُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۱﴾لَاۤ اَعۡبُدُ مَا تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۲﴾وَ لَاۤ اَنۡتُمۡ عٰبِدُوۡنَ مَاۤ اَعۡبُدُ ۚ﴿۳﴾وَ لَاۤ اَنَا عَابِدٌ مَّا عَبَدۡتُّمۡ ۙ﴿۴﴾وَ لَاۤ اَنۡتُمۡ عٰبِدُوۡنَ مَاۤ اَعۡبُدُ ؕ﴿۵﴾

لَکُمۡ دِیۡنُکُمۡ وَلِیَ دِیۡنِ ﴿۶﴾

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.

Declare [O Prophet!]:"O Disbelievers![1]I will not worship those you worship.[2] And you will also never worship [alone][3] whom I worship. And [before this,] never was I prepared to worship those you have worshipped.[4] And you also were never prepared to worship [alone] those I have been worshipping.[5] (1-5)

[So, now] to you your religion and to me mine."[6](6)

Surah Nasr

بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ

اِذَا جَآءَ نَصۡرُ اللّٰہِ وَ الۡفَتۡحُ ۙ﴿۱﴾وَ رَاَیۡتَ النَّاسَ یَدۡخُلُوۡنَ فِیۡ دِیۡنِ اللّٰہِ اَفۡوَاجًا ۙ﴿۲﴾فَسَبِّحۡ بِحَمۡدِ رَبِّکَ وَ اسۡتَغۡفِرۡہُ ؕؔ اِنَّہٗ کَانَ تَوَّابًا ﴿۳﴾

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.

When[7] comes the help of God and victory[8] and you see people embrace the religion of God in multitudes,[9] glorify the name of your Lord while praising Him[10] and seek His forgiveness. Indeed, He is ever disposed to mercy.[11] (1-3)

Kuala Lumpur

16 March 2010

(Translated from Al-Bayan by Dr Shehzad Saleem)

[1]. This is an address to the leaders of the disbelievers among the Quraysh. It is evident from subsequent words that the blatant words "O Disbelievers" used in this address were uttered when the severing of ties from them had been finally and emphatically declared. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… This declaration is in accordance with the law of the Almighty regarding His messengers, as is explained in the previous surahs: Messengers first call their people towards the primary aspects of religion which are belief in monotheism and in the Hereafter. In this preaching, they address their people by saying "O my People!" and keep addressing them in these words as long as the pundits and leaders among their people do not make them lose hope. When all hope is lost from them and it becomes evident that they will not let go of their stubbornness, the Almighty directs His messenger to migrate and he then pronounces his acquittal and renunciation of them and migrates with his followers. The migration of a messenger is like a very final warning for his people. If, after this event also, they do not mend their ways, the Almighty after giving them limited respite destroys all the blatant rejecters. This destruction may take place in the life of a messenger or it may take place after him; it may also happen through some natural calamity or through the swords of the followers of the messengers. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 9, 601)

Here it needs to be borne in mind that the Quraysh are called disbelievers by God and have been called so because they rejected the messenger of God even after the truth had been conclusively communicated to them. Thus it is known that the lack of hope expressed later came to be true. None from these rejecters accepted faith. All of them were inflicted with conceit and egotism and as a result faced the punishment of God. No person or group after the messengers of God can conclusively communicate the truth in this manner nor can receive permission from the Almighty about the disbelief of a people except if they themselves declare their disbelief. What best the preachers of the truth can do today is that they continue to explain the nature of disbelief and polytheism to people and refrain from participating in the matters of people that are incriminated with polytheism and religion innovation.

[2]. The actual words are: لَاۤ اَعۡبُدُ مَا تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ. The particle of negation before the indefinite verb shows that these words state an absolute decision which ended any future hope of compromise between monotheism and polytheism. Thus it is stated through the Prophet's tongue that no one should expect any such compromise from him in worshipping God. If anyone has any such desire, it should be put to rest forever. There can be no reconciliation between monotheism and polytheism. He will not show any flexibility in this regard. Hence he has declared his acquittal from all their deities.

[3]. The words مَا اَعْبُدُ used for the Almighty are on the principle of mujanasah. Their occurrence after لَاۤ اَعۡبُدُ مَا تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ shows that no hope is left from the addressees of the Prophet (sws) that they will worship the Almighty while cleansing themselves of every filthy trace of polytheism, the way the Prophet (sws) was doing. It was clearly evident from their attitude that they were not prepared to give up their idols and deities. This meant that they could not become true worshippers of the Almighty because He never accepts any partners in worshipping Him.

[4]. The previous verses were related to the future; here evidence of it is presented from the past and present. The verse وَلَا اَنَا عَابِدٌ مَّا عَبَدتُّمْ is a noun sentence. The negation in it relates to the past. This is clearly indicated by the words مَّا عَبَدتُّمْ. It has in fact further stressed the declaration of acquittal. The implication is that when Muhammad (sws) did not care about their deities before he became a prophet, how could he be led astray by accepting them once God had directly communicated with him? His message was before them and they were seeing him even after he had become a prophet. They very well knew that he was never prepared to go near the filth of polytheism; how then did they expect that he would be ready to accept it in future.

[5]. The preceding sentence has transformed this sentence into the past as well. Thus an incomplete verb should be considered to be suppressed before the words مَاۤ اَعۡبُدُ (ie. مَا كُنْتُ اَعْبُدُ). It will express in the past continuous tense the continuity of his worship extending from the past to the present. The implication is that his addressees did not worship the God who was worshipped by him either in the past or in the present. If they worshipped him while associating partners with Him, then in fact it was no worship at all.

[6]. This verse does not convey any message of tolerance. It, in fact, expresses extreme aversion and eternal separation from the disbelievers. In other words, what the Prophet (sws) is communicating to them is that he has announced his acquittal from them and they in turn have sounded acquittal from him; no chance of any reconciliation or compromise remains; if they adhere to their stance, he adheres to his with full perseverance; there was never any relationship between polytheism and monotheism in the past nor can it be established now; so they should wait and the Prophet (sws) will wait with them; soon the Almighty will decide who among the two is on the right path.

[7]. The previous surah signified a declaration of acquittal from the leaders of the disbelievers of the Quraysh. This surah is an embodiment of glad tidings and as the counterpart of the previous surah has been placed adjacent to it so that the link between migration and acquittal and between triumph and divine help in the preaching mission of messengers becomes fully evident. History bears witness to the majestic way in which these glad tidings materialized. These were not the words of a human being that they may have dissipated in thin air without being fulfilled. They were the words of God which were spoken by His Messenger. When they were uttered, nothing seemed more far-fetched and improbable than them to come true; yet, in a few days, they became historic and created such history that stands unrivalled in the annals of mankind.

[8]. This is the same help and victory which God had promised His messenger, and which was awaited by the Muslims even in the toughest of phases of the preaching mission of Muhammad (sws). They are referred to by verse 13 of Surah al-Ṣaff thus: وَ اُخۡرٰی تُحِبُّوۡنَہَا ؕ نَصۡرٌ مِّنَ اللّٰہِ وَ فَتۡحٌ قَرِیۡبٌ (And will give you another thing which you desire: help from God and a conquest in the near future, (61:13)). Obviously, nothing but the conquest of Makkah is implied here. The help mentioned here is the help that was provided to the Prophet (sws) for its conquest – its last episode manifested itself when the people of Makkah surrendered to ten thousand noble companions of the Prophet (sws). According to the established practice of God, this divine help was necessarily provided to messengers of God once they had conclusively communicated the truth to their people and migrated from them after showing their acquittal. This conquest and help in the time of the Prophet (sws) is immediately understood to be implied if not mentioned by name. For this very reason, the Qur'an has mentioned it rather concisely by merely appending an alif lam to it.

[9]. This is the most conspicuous aspect of the glad tidings mentioned above. It meant that the Almighty would bless the nation of the Prophet (sws) with the treasure of faith. They would not be wiped out like the 'Ād and the Thamud but would be blessed with faith by God's grace, and once free from the shackles of coercion would vehemently venture forward to accept the call of the Prophet. This is a further corroboration of the fact that the victory mentioned is the conquest of Makkah. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

This conquest changed the entire complexion of Arabia to the extent that people were suddenly afforded with the liberty to choose their own religion and the wave of coercion and terror let loose by the Quraysh on the basis of which they had become virtual masters of the faith and destiny of people was brought to an end. Veiled in these glad tidings was the news to the Prophet (sws) that soon the time would come when the people of the Quraysh would rush towards Islam with total freedom from the shackles of the Quraysh. No one would dare to stop them. This is a very strong testimony that the victory referred to here is the conquest of Makkah. There is no other victory which produced such results.(Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 9, 622)

[10]. Ie., they should keep God in remembrance while being fully aware of tawhid because the true concept of tawhid is based on absolving God from all negative traits and acknowledging all positive ones in Him. It is essential to accept that God is free from all traits that are against the majesty of a deity and that He possesses all traits that are in accordance with His majesty.

[11]. This is the same directive which was mentioned in Surah Alam Nashrah in the words: فَاِذَا فَرَغۡتَ فَانۡصَبۡ وَ اِلٰی رَبِّکَ فَارۡغَبۡ (94: 7-8) (So, when you are free [from this task], labour hard [in worship] and seek your Lord with all fervour, (94:7-8)). The implication is that when these things manifest themselves, it will be a sign of completion of the Prophet's mission, and a fulfillment in a very honourable way of the great responsibility God placed on his shoulders. Hence, he should now prepare to meet his Lord. Thus it is said that after completion of his mission he should now turn to worship God with full devotion and glorify Him at every instant and keep His attributes in remembrance. If He exceeds the bounds of preaching imposed on him, he should seek God's forgiveness. He is merciful on His people and forgives their mistakes.

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