Sūrah Rahmān (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Rahmān (Part 2/2)


Qur'ānic Exegesis

(Tr. by Shehzad Saleem)

يَخْرُجُ مِنْهُمَا اللُّؤْلُؤُ وَالْمَرْجَانُ (22) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (23)[1]

This verse points to a common collective benefit which is obtained in spite of this discord: both produce pearls and corals.

Some exegetes have raised the question that pearls and corals only come out of bitter water, while the Qur'ān has claimed here that they come out of both types of water. In my opinion, our exegetes have made a baseless claim. I am citing below the relevant portion from the entry "pearl" found in the Encylopaedia Britannica. It will become evident from it that pearls and corals come out from sweet water as well:

Freshwater mussels in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere have produced pearls of great value. The freshwater pearls of the US have come principally from the Mississippi river. Pearling has declined greatly in Great Britain, but pearls from the Scottish rivers and from the Conway river in Northern Wales were once in great demand. Pearling is still a carefully fostered industry in central Europe, and the forest streams of Bavaria, in particular, are the source of choice pearls. Freshwater pearling in China has been known before 1000 BC.[2]

Even if it is supposed that the pearls and corals only come out of bitter water, this would not make a difference to the statement of the Qur'ān. It is the law of nature that things are created from the collaboration of opposites. A child is born from a mother and a father. Even though he is nourished in the womb of the mother but in reality he comes into being through both the father and the mother. Similarly, pearls are produced by the interaction of both types of water even though they were nourished in bitter water.

After this, occurs the repetitive verse. Its context and placement is evident.

وَلَهُ الْجَوَارِ الْمُنشَآتُ فِي الْبَحْرِ كَالْأَعْلَامِ (24) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (25)[3]

Attention is directed to another sign which in spite of conflict shows harmony: it is a marvel of God's power that ships which are as huge and hefty as mountains slide on seas whilst the lightest of objects drowns in water. It is a manifestation of God's wisdom and power that an object as heavy as a ship loaded with thousands of tons of cargo sails on water and does not drown. The word لَهُhere means that creating such harmony between discordant elements is only in the authority of God the one and only. It is only because of His power and wisdom that such marvels come into being and man witnesses them at every place, so which of the marvels of his Lord will he deny? This subject is discussed in Sūrah Fātir in the following words:

وَمَا يَسْتَوِي الْبَحْرَانِ هَذَا عَذْبٌ فُرَاتٌ سَائِغٌ شَرَابُهُ وَهَذَا مِلْحٌ أُجَاجٌ وَمِن كُلٍّ تَأْكُلُونَ لَحْمًا طَرِيًّا وَتَسْتَخْرِجُونَ حِلْيَةً تَلْبَسُونَهَا وَتَرَى الْفُلْكَ فِيهِ مَوَاخِرَ لِتَبْتَغُوا مِن فَضْلِهِ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ (12:35)

And the two seas are not alike. The one is fresh, sweet, and pleasant to drink from, while the other is saltish and bitter. And from both you eat fresh meat, and from both you bring out ornaments to wear. And see how the ships plough their course through them so that you sail away to seek His bounty and so that you remain grateful. (35:12)

In Sūrah Shūrā too this subject has been brought up. For more details, it can be consulted.

كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ (26) وَيَبْقَى وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ (27) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (28)[4]

The antecedent of the genitive pronoun in عَلَيْهَا is the earth which is under discussion since verse ten. The way the Almighty has arranged for the sustenance of man in the earth, the marvels and wisdom He has showed in his creation, the way He reigns supreme in every nook and corner of the universe and the way His singularity is evident from the harmony between conflicting elements necessitates that one day all these things will be destroyed. Only the exalted and revered person of God will remain. Everyone will be gathered before Him one day and He will deal with everyone in the manner that person is worthy of. No one has the slightest authority to contest His decisions or open his mouth to intercede for someone without His permission.

The words ذُو الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ also occur in the last verse of the sūrah. The purpose of mentioning both these words is that only He is exalted in His being and thus only He is worthy of being respected and revered by all. No one else shares these attributes with Him. The word وَجْهُ (face) here signifies the person of God. Face is the most lofty portion of a being; for this reason, at times, it signifies the whole person.

In the end occurs the repetitive verse. It means that whether they hear the warnings of the Prophet or not, one day everyone will be destroyed and only the person of God the Almighty will remain; so which of the signs of their Lord do they deny?

يَسْأَلُهُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ هُوَ فِي شَأْنٍ (29) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (30)[5]

The implication of this verse is that God is the real person to whom everyone turns. Whoever received anything received it from Him. The word سوال (sawāl) is used here with regard to its consequences: since everyone who asks receives from God alone, hence irrespective of whom he asks, he in reality asks God for it. Asking from others is useless and ineffective. No one other than God can give him something or take away anything from him. Hence, presenting one's wishes to someone while regarding him to be the granter of wishes is mere foolishness. Whatever a person receives in this world, he receives from God alone and whatever he will receive in the Hereafter, he will receive from God only.

This word also means "needs" as in سَوَاء لِّلسَّائِلِينَ (10:41) (equal for all those in need, (41:10). If the verse is interpreted while keeping in view this meaning, it would mean that all those in the heavens and the earth are needy and dependent on God.

The implication of the words كُلَّ يَوْمٍ هُوَ فِي شَأْنٍ is that people should not remain under the misconception that after creating this world, the Almighty has consigned its administration to their alleged deities and Himself has absolutely no role to play in this regard. Those who are under this delusion are absolutely unaware of God's majesty. God Himself is running all the affairs of this world. He alone controls the movements of the sun and the moon and He alone fulfils the needs of His people on this earth. Hence, at every moment of time He is doing something. The word يَومٌْ here means "time", and it is used in this meaning at many places in the Qur'ān. The implication is that when the Almighty Himself is running the affairs of this world, what need remains of any intercessor? Hence whatever a person wants, he should ask God for it.

After this occurs the repetitive verse and means that the Almighty has not isolated Himself from the affairs of this world; He is continuously involved in managing and controlling them. His majesty and grandeur is evident from every nook and corner of this universe. So which of these majesties will they deny?

سَنَفْرُغُ لَكُمْ أَيُّهَا الثَّقَلَانِ (31) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (32)[6]

The word ثَقَلَانِ refers to both jinnkind and mankind. Since in their collective capacity both become heavy, the word ثَقَلَانِ has been used. Its usage points to the gravity of the challenge which has been thrown in this verse to both man and jinn at the same time. The implication is that however weighty and hefty they may be in their collective capacity, the Almighty will soon confine all His attention to dealing with them. Confining attention to them here refers to the fact that at the moment this world is functioning, and God's wisdom too requires that it complete its term; however, not far off is the time when this term will reach its completion. At that time, the Almighty will be free from running this world and direct all His attention to man's accountability. He will hold each and every person responsible for his deeds and after judging him shall accordingly reward or punish him. The style and words used also show that the Almighty will not attempt this task in a superficial manner; He will do it with full devotion. This is because it is this task which is the real objective of creating this world. Without it, this world is purposeless.

After this occurs the repetitive verse. Here it means that they have rejected all the obvious signs of this world which point to their accountability; however, what will they do when they will see the Day of Judgement and the court of God with their very eyes. Will they deny that at that time too? If they deny, then how many signs of their Lord will they deny?

Section II (Verses 31-45)

In the succeeding verses, the Day which people are being warned of is portrayed. The coherence and sequence in the discourse is obvious. Readers may now proceed to read these verses.

سَنَفْرُغُ لَكُمْ أَيُّهَا الثَّقَلَانِ (31) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (32) يَا مَعْشَرَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنسِ إِنِ اسْتَطَعْتُمْ أَن تَنفُذُوا مِنْ أَقْطَارِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ فَانفُذُوا لَا تَنفُذُونَ إِلَّا بِسُلْطَانٍ (33) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (34) يُرْسَلُ عَلَيْكُمَا شُوَاظٌ مِّن نَّارٍ وَنُحَاسٌ فَلَا تَنتَصِرَانِ (35) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (36) فَإِذَا انشَقَّتِ السَّمَاء فَكَانَتْ وَرْدَةً كَالدِّهَانِ (37) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (38) فَيَوْمَئِذٍ لَّا يُسْأَلُ عَن ذَنبِهِ إِنسٌ وَلَا جَانٌّ (39) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (40) يُعْرَفُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ بِسِيمَاهُمْ فَيُؤْخَذُ بِالنَّوَاصِي وَالْأَقْدَامِ (41) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (42) هَذِهِ جَهَنَّمُ الَّتِي يُكَذِّبُ بِهَا الْمُجْرِمُونَ (43) يَطُوفُونَ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَ حَمِيمٍ آنٍ (44) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (45)

Both you groups! We are about to find time for you! So which of your Lord's majesties would you deny? Mankind and jinn, if you have power to escape from the confines of the heavens and earth, then try to escape! You shall not be able to do so without permission. So which of your Lord's authorities would you deny? Flames of fire shall be hurled at you and molten brass. Then you would not be able to shield yourself. So which of your Lord's powers would you deny? (31-36)

So remember the time when the sky splits asunder, and reddens like leather. So which of the wonders of your Lord would you deny? Thus on that day, there will be no need to ask either man or jinn of his sins. So which of your Lord's majesties would you deny? The wrongdoers will be known by their signs; thus they shall be seized by their forelocks and their feet [and thrown in Hell]. So which of your Lord's powers would you deny? This is the Hell which the sinners had kept denying. They shall circle between it and its boiling water. So which of your Lord's majesties would you deny? (37-45)

Explanation

يَا مَعْشَرَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنسِ إِنِ اسْتَطَعْتُمْ أَن تَنفُذُوا مِنْ أَقْطَارِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ فَانفُذُوا لَا تَنفُذُونَ إِلَّا بِسُلْطَانٍ (33) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (34)[7]

If they think that they are accountable before no one and have absolute authority, they should just attempt to cross the boundaries of the heavens and the earth created by God so that it can be proven that they are beyond God's control or can be beyond His control.

The word سُلْطَان means "authority" as well as "permission". Here it is used in the second of these meanings. However much they may want to cross the boundaries of the heavens and the earth, they cannot do so. This is only possible when they have the passport to do so and obviously it is only God who can grant this to them.

Then occurs the repetitive verse. Here it would mean that if they are not being able to comprehend even this sign of being helpless and powerless before God, then what other signs and majesties of their Lord will they continue to deny?

يُرْسَلُ عَلَيْكُمَا شُوَاظٌ مِّن نَّارٍ وَنُحَاسٌ فَلَا تَنتَصِرَانِ (35) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (36)[8]

The implication is that if anyone from among them tries to exceed the bounds and limits set by God, he shall be pelted with flames of fire and molten brass, and such shall be the profuse nature of this bombardment that that they will not be able to save themselves from it.

The word شُوَاظٌ مِّن نَّارٍ refers to shooting stars about which the Qur'ān has specified that they are pelted at the devils among the jinn who try to penetrate to the higher heavens and eavesdrop on the matters of the unseen. The Qur'ān has cited this admission of the jinnfolk through their own words:وَأَنَّا ظَنَنَّا أَن لَّن نُّعجِزَ اللَّهَ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَن نُّعْجِزَهُ هَرَبًا (72: 12) (and that we acknowledge that we cannot escape God's grasp by setting off to some place in this earth or by running away somewhere in the heavens,(72:12)).

Our exegetes have generally regarded the word نُحَاسٌ to mean "smoke"; however, this word is not conventionally used in this meaning. Some lexicographers have mentioned it as its rare meaning and have also corroborated this meaning by a couplet of the poet Nābighah Dhubyānī. However, in the first place, the provenance of the couplet itself is debatable and secondly, it is not comprehensible why the Qur'ān would leave the common Arabic word دُخَانٌ which means smoke and which it itself has used and use an unconventional word instead whereas the Qur'ān has been revealed in eloquent Arabic. For this reason, I have my reservations in accepting this meaning of the word. In my opinion, the word نُحَاسٌ is used in its conventional meaning and it is a type of shooting star mentioned by the words شُوَاظٌ مِّن نَّارٍ.

The reason for this is that scientific research has shown that most shooting stars (also called meteors) dissolve in air as soon as they fall. They fall in the shape of huge balls of siderites and stones; however, the kinetic energy of the objects transforms into heat as soon as it enters the layers of the atmosphere. This dissolves the shooting stars and they get converted into fire-balls and while falling to the earth, most of their metallic and rocky material is lost or they are transformed into gaseous clouds because of the process of condensation. However, the meteors which have been found on earth can be grouped into three categories:

1. Siderites

2. Aerolites

3. Siderolites

Just as ingredients of iron and stone have been found in these meteors, similarly ingredients of bronze and brass are also found in it. The latter have been referred to in this verse by the word نُحَاسٌ. Most of these metallic components dissolve because of heat intensity; however, their presence in the meteors which fall to the earth substantiates the statement of the Qur'ān.[9]

فَإِذَا انشَقَّتِ السَّمَاء فَكَانَتْ وَرْدَةً كَالدِّهَانِ (37) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (38)[10]

Though people have interpreted the word ِّدِهَانِ to mean the sediment of oil, however, this word is also commonly used for skin. Since in this meaning, the word is more appropriate to be qualified by redness, I have preferred it. At another place, the words used are: وَإِذَا السَّمَاءُ كُشِطَتْ (83: 11) (and when the skies are stripped bare, (83:11)). In other words just as by stripping the skin, the flesh of the body appears red, similarly, the sky too would appear red. Here this redness is compared with the skin, and this comparison is very apt. It is a description of the arrival of the Day of Judgement. The implication is that today they are denying this day; however, the day will come when the sky shall be rent asunder, and this blue roof will appear like red skin; so what will they do at that time? So which of the majesties of their Lord will they deny? The marvels of His power will keep manifesting themselves.

فَيَوْمَئِذٍ لَّا يُسْأَلُ عَن ذَنبِهِ إِنسٌ وَلَا جَانٌّ (39) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (40) يُعْرَفُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ بِسِيمَاهُمْ فَيُؤْخَذُ بِالنَّوَاصِي وَالْأَقْدَامِ (41) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (42)[11]

They should not remain under the misconception that on that day God and His angels will have to work hard to investigate their crimes. It would not even be required to ask someone of his crime, not to speak of hard work. On that day, each criminal will be recognized by his face; it will be known from his very face the extent of his crimes and the punishment he will deserve.

There are many types of questions. Here the questioning which is refuted relates to investigation and scrutiny. At other places, the Qur'ān has stated the reason why this would not be required: on that day, not merely the limbs of the criminals will bear witness; even the roots of each and every hair will bear witness to his crimes. As far as the questions which relate to rebuke, reprimand and sarcasm are concerned, they are not negated here. The questions which are mentioned in the Qur'ān regarding the criminals are of this second type. Thus there is no contradiction in the Qur'ān in this regard; both types of questions are of distinct nature.

The words فَيُؤْخَذُ بِالنَّوَاصِي وَالْأَقْدَامِ depict how these criminals will be thrown into Hell: they shall be brought before the sentinels of Hell with the sign of their crime who will seize them by their forelocks and feet and just as logs of wood are thrown into raging fire, these people shall be thrown into Hell. Here them being thrown into Hell is not stated in words because the way these criminals will be seized signifies this. In the presence of such an indication, such a mention is not required.

The placement of the repetitive verse is very evident: this phase is soon to come before such people; so which of the signs of their Lord will they deny?

هَذِهِ جَهَنَّمُ الَّتِي يُكَذِّبُ بِهَا الْمُجْرِمُونَ (43) يَطُوفُونَ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَ حَمِيمٍ آنٍ (44) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (45)[12]

These verses say that this is the very Hell which the criminals have been denying: the time will finally come when they will circle between its fire and its boiling water. The word آنrefers to water whose heat has reached its ultimate temperature. These verses depict their extreme helplessness: when the fire of Hell burns them, they will run in search of water but the water too will be boiling at its ultimate degree. Their life will be spent going to and fro between these two. In Surah Ghāshiyah, the words used are: تَصْلَى نَارًا حَامِيَةً تُسْقَى مِنْ عَيْنٍ آنِيَةٍ (88: 4-5) (they will enter the blazing fire and they will be made to drink from a sizzling spring.(88:4-5)).

The placement and context of the repetitive verse is evident: today they are denying the Hereafter and the punishment with great stubbornness; however, when they experience all this, what will they do? How many of God's manifestations will they continue to deny?

Section III (Verses 46-78)

After a mention of the fate of the criminals, the forthcoming verses mention the details of reward which the God-fearing will receive in the Hereafter. This comparison brings to light the complete picture of both groups. The coherence in the discourse is very evident. The only thing that needs to be kept in mind is that verses 46-61 mention the details of the Paradise of the muqarrabīn (the near ones to God) and the subsequent verses mention the details of the Paradise of the ashāb al-yamīn (companions of the right hand). The details of the difference of status between both these groups is mentioned in the next sūrah: Sūrah Wāqi'ah which forms a pair with the current sūrah.

Readers may now proceed to read the coming verses in the light of this background.

وَلِمَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ جَنَّتَانِ (46) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (47) ذَوَاتَا أَفْنَانٍ (48) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (49) فِيهِمَا عَيْنَانِ تَجْرِيَانِ (50) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (51) فِيهِمَا مِن كُلِّ فَاكِهَةٍ زَوْجَانِ (52) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (53) مُتَّكِئِينَ عَلَى فُرُشٍ بَطَائِنُهَا مِنْ إِسْتَبْرَقٍ وَجَنَى الْجَنَّتَيْنِ دَانٍ (54) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (55) فِيهِنَّ قَاصِرَاتُ الطَّرْفِ لَمْ يَطْمِثْهُنَّ إِنسٌ قَبْلَهُمْ وَلَا جَانٌّ (56) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (57) كَأَنَّهُنَّ الْيَاقُوتُ وَالْمَرْجَانُ (58) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (59) هَلْ جَزَاء الْإِحْسَانِ إِلَّا الْإِحْسَانُ (60) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (61) وَمِن دُونِهِمَا جَنَّتَانِ (62) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (63) مُدْهَامَّتَانِ (64) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (65) فِيهِمَا عَيْنَانِ نَضَّاخَتَانِ (66) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (67) فِيهِمَا فَاكِهَةٌ وَنَخْلٌ وَرُمَّانٌ (68) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (69) فِيهِنَّ خَيْرَاتٌ حِسَانٌ (70) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (71) حُورٌ مَّقْصُورَاتٌ فِي الْخِيَامِ (72) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (73) لَمْ يَطْمِثْهُنَّ إِنسٌ قَبْلَهُمْ وَلَا جَانٌّ (74) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (75) مُتَّكِئِينَ عَلَى رَفْرَفٍ خُضْرٍ وَعَبْقَرِيٍّ حِسَانٍ (76) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (77) تَبَارَكَ اسْمُ رَبِّكَ ذِي الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ (78)

And for those who feared being brought into the presence of their Lord, there shall be two orchards. So which of your Lord's blessings would you deny? Both will have abundant branches. So which of your Lord's mercies would you deny? Each will be watered by two springs. So which of your Lord's favours would you deny? In them, each fruit will be of a unique type. So which of your Lord's blessings would you deny? They shall recline on couches lined with thick brocade, and the fruits of both gardens will hang over their heads. So which of your Lord's favours would you deny? Therein will be bashful houris whom neither man nor jinn will have touched before. So which of your Lord's gifts would you deny? Houris like rubies and corals. So which of your Lord's blessings would you deny? The reward of piety will after all be goodness? So which of your Lord's goodness would you deny? (46-61)

And besides these, there shall be two other orchards. So which of your Lord's blessings would you deny? Both will be greenish black. So which of your Lord's mercies would you deny? A gushing fountain shall flow in each. So which of your Lord's mercies would you deny? Each will have fruits, dates and pomegranates. So which of your Lord's favours would you deny? In each there shall be houris, noble and gorgeous. So which of your Lord's blessings would you deny? Houris, living in tents. So which of your Lord's graces would you deny? Whom neither man nor jinn will have touched before. So which of your Lord's blessings would you deny? They shall recline on green sheet cloths and splendid carpets. So which of your Lord's favours would you deny? Blessed is the name of your Lord, the Lord of majesty and glory! (62-78)

Explanation

وَلِمَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ جَنَّتَانِ (46) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (47)[13]

After the previous verses mention of the fate of the criminals, these refer to the fate of the righteous. Their quality mentioned here is that they fear being brought into the presence of God. A similar allusion to the Day of Judgement is found in the following verse as well: (83: 6) يَوْمَ يَقُومُ النَّاسُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ(the day when men will rise to stand up before the Lord of the worlds,(83:6)). It needs to be kept in mind that the only thing which keeps a person on the right path is this fear of facing his Lord. If his heart becomes devoid of this fear, then nothing can stop a person from becoming the greatest of criminals.

The verse says that people who fear standing before their Lord will be given two orchards. The word جَنَّتَ of the Qur'ān is a comprehensive expression of all the successes of the Hereafter and two orchards/paradises are mentioned as a completion of favour: they will receive two orchards. Surah Kahf mentions two orchards in the incident of the companions of the orchards thus: جَعَلْنَا لِأَحَدِهِمَا جَنَّتَيْنِ مِنْ أَعْنَابٍ وَحَفَفْنَاهُمَا بِنَخْلٍ (32:18) (to one of them We gave two vineyards surrounded with palm-trees, (18:32)). While explaining this verse, I have written that the two orchards it mentions is for completion of favour: God, due to His favour and grace had blessed them with two orchards, but these favours led them to be ungrateful instead of being grateful.

After this occurs the repetitive verse and later after every mention of a favour of Paradise, it will occur. In order to understand the eloquence of its placement and occasion, one must keep in mind the fact that people who are addressed here, in the first place, regard the Hereafter to be improbable; and if as a hypothetical supposition they were ready to accept it, they were never ready to accept the fact that the destitute Muslims would have a share in the favours received in the Hereafter. They were of the opinion that if Paradise is a reality, then just as they have been blessed with all the favours of this world, they will be blessed with all the favours of the Hereafter as well. In order to quash this mentality and to crush their pride each and every favour of Paradise is singled out and it is stressed that they are specifically for the pious people of God and at the same time these rejecters are asked: Which of God's favours will they deny? Today, they might summarily dismiss the favours of the Hereafter, but how will they deny them when God grants them to His people and they will end up yearning for them?

ذَوَاتَا أَفْنَانٍ (48) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (49)[14]

This is an expression of the luxuriance and lushness of the two orchards being abundant in trees and vegetation. They will not be desolate and barren: each and every tree will have branches in abundance. After this occurs the repetitive verse. The reason is that the Arabs relished orchards the most and took pride in owning them. How fortunate is a person who possesses a lush green orchard in a dry and hot country! While keeping in view this taste of theirs, it is said that God will bless the righteous with such orchards: so which of God's blessings will they deny?

فِيهِمَا عَيْنَانِ تَجْرِيَانِ (50) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (51)[15]

As a guarantee for the luxuriance of these orchards, each will have a fountain running in it. So they should speak up as to which of God's favours will they deny. Thus the occasion and placement of this repetitive verse is very evident.

فِيهِمَا مِن كُلِّ فَاكِهَةٍ زَوْجَانِ (52) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (53)[16]

Both orchards will not have the same types of fruit. Each will have its own unique repertoire of fruits. The word زَوْج is used here in a specific meaning which I have explained earlier at an appropriate place. After this, occurs the repetitive verse of which the occasion and placement is very evident.

مُتَّكِئِينَ عَلَى فُرُشٍ بَطَائِنُهَا مِنْ إِسْتَبْرَقٍ وَجَنَى الْجَنَّتَيْنِ دَانٍ (54) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (55)[17]

These companions of Paradise will recline against cushions on couches of which the cloth will be lined with thick brocade. In other words, who can imagine the outer lining of cloths which are internally lined with brocade? Moreover, the fruits in both orchards will be hanging close to the heads: reaching out to them will be of no bother. After this, occurs the repetitive verse of which occasion and placement is very evident.

فِيهِنَّ قَاصِرَاتُ الطَّرْفِ لَمْ يَطْمِثْهُنَّ إِنسٌ قَبْلَهُمْ وَلَا جَانٌّ (56) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (57) كَأَنَّهُنَّ الْيَاقُوتُ وَالْمَرْجَانُ (58) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (59)[18]

The antecedent of the pronoun in فِيهِنَّ is all the favours mentioned earlier as well as all the gardens, orchards and castles of Paradise which may not have been mentioned in words but which are understood to be obviously implied. Such use of pronouns is very common in Arabic, and example of this can be seen in the previous pages of this tafsīr.

The verses further say that among the eternal bliss of these orchards and their resources, there will also be bashful and modest maidens. Such is the nature of a man that unless he has his wife with him he is not able to fully enjoy all these favours. God has made her his partner who shares his joys and sorrows with him. Thus while praising them, the verse says that they shall be bashful and modest. Bashfulness is not only the greatest beauty of a woman, it is also the greatest guard of her morality. Women who are not bashful are unfaithful, those who are unfaithful can be sincere to none, and when this is so then as a woman there is no purpose to her existence because she cannot contribute as a building block of a family even though this is the very purpose of her existence.

The words لَمْ يَطْمِثْهُنَّ إِنسٌ قَبْلَهُمْ وَلَا جَانٌّ are an expression of their virginity and chastity. The comparison with rubies and corals is to bring out their beauty and chastity.

After this, occurs the repetitive verse and its occasion and placement is very evident.

هَلْ جَزَاء الْإِحْسَانِ إِلَّا الْإِحْسَانُ (60) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (61)[19]

After mentioning the features of the Paradise of the near ones, here at the end, the addressees are very subtly asked why they are surprised to hear that the Almighty will grant all these favours to His pious people! What else should be the reward of piety and purity except blessings and favours? If the Creator of this universe does not bring forth a day in which the wicked are punished for their sins and the pious are rewarded for their virtue, then this would mean that He does not distinguish between vice and virtue. In fact, what can even be concluded from this is that, God forbid, He likes vice more because after giving the wicked all the resources of life, He has set them free to do whatever they want to and work whatever mischief they desire. A man's intellect and nature can never tolerate such an evil estimation about his Lord. His nature bears witness that the Lord of this universe is very just and merciful. He will punish those who commit sins and greatly reward the pious for their virtues. Since this is something very clearly grounded in human nature and no sensible person in his senses can deny it, it has been stated in a manner which reflects it being an obvious reality. The word إِحْسَان is used for piety as well as for the reward of piety. In this verse, it is used very eloquently in both these meanings.

After this, occurs the repetitive verse: its occasion and placement is that when this reality is certain and all-acknowledged, then the Almighty shall definitely reward a person for each of his pious deeds, so which of His favours will man and jinn deny?

وَمِن دُونِهِمَا جَنَّتَانِ (62) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (63)[20]

After a mention of the two orchards, a mention of two more orchards comes up. These two orchards are broadly similar to the previous ones and in some aspects are distinct from one another. The question which arises is: will the same people be worthy of both these types of orchards or will they be different? The correct answer to this question is stated in the next sūrah. In it, the believers have been divided into two groups: ashāb al-maymanah (companions of the right hand) and al-sābiqūn (the foremost) and mentions two separate orchards for the two which are similar to one another in some aspects and dissimilar in some others. Hence, what is more probable is that in this sūrah too, the earlier two orchards are meant for the ashāb al-maymanah or the muqarrabīn (the near ones). Now with this verse begins the mention of the orchards of the ashāb al-maymanah. Obviously, just as there is a difference in the status of the two groups, there is a difference in the orchards of the two groups as well, which discerning minds can appreciate. I will also allude to some of the differences in the coming paragraphs. The words مِن دُونِهِمَا can be translated as "besides these two" and "in contrast with these two" as well as "lesser than these two".

After this is the repetitive verse which occurs after the mention of each favour. It would mean that the favours will not end with these two orchards; there will be other orchards as well; so which of the orchards of God will man deny?

مُدْهَامَّتَانِ (64) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (65)[21]

Such will be the state of greenness of these orchards that they will appear to be blackish. This is the most gorgeous of colours of a lush orchard. After this, occurs the repetitive verse of which the occasion and placement is very evident.

فِيهِمَا عَيْنَانِ نَضَّاخَتَانِ (66) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (67)[22]

The word نَضْخٌ means something which is "forceful and steaming". This is a portrayal of mountain springs. For springs which occur on level ground, the word is تَجْرِيَان used earlier which means that they only flow; however, mountainous springs flow with force and vigour. After this, occurs the repetitive verse and its occasion and placement is very evident.

فِيهِمَا فَاكِهَةٌ وَنَخْلٌ وَرُمَّانٌ (68) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (69)[23]

A mention of نَخْلٌ (dates) and رُمَّانٌ (pomegranate) after فَاكِهَةٌ (fruit) is a mention of the specific after the general. Both these are cherished fruits of Arabia. In the mention of earlier orchards, the words were مِن كُلِّ فَاكِهَةٍ زَوْجَانِ ie each of the two orchards will have different fruits. The difference between these two styles needs to be appreciated. After this, occurs the repetitive verse of which the occasion and placement is very evident.

فِيهِنَّ خَيْرَاتٌ حِسَانٌ (70) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (71) حُورٌ مَّقْصُورَاتٌ فِي الْخِيَامِ (72) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (73) لَمْ يَطْمِثْهُنَّ إِنسٌ قَبْلَهُمْ وَلَا جَانٌّ (74) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (75)[24]

The expression خَيْرَاتٌ حِسَانٌ means pretty and pious. The expression حُورٌ مَّقْصُورَاتٌ فِي الْخِيَامِ has a special tinge of Arabic taste in it. Living in tents was something very cherished in Arabia. The tents of the affluent people of Arabia were even more classy than their castles and palaces and here the tents are those found in orchards. It was mentioned that there will be bashful maidens in the earlier two orchards and they were compared with corals and rubies. The readers should keep in mind the difference in qualities of the maidens in both sets of the two orchards. After every feature of the maidens, occurs the repetitive verse of which the occasion and placement is very evident.

مُتَّكِئِينَ عَلَى رَفْرَفٍ خُضْرٍ وَعَبْقَرِيٍّ حِسَانٍ (76) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاء رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبَانِ (77)[25]

The people of these orchards will be reclining on large cushions on green sheets and beautiful rare carpets. The word عَبْقَرِيٌّ is used for rare and expensive things and it can refer to various things keeping in view the context and occasion. Keeping in view this context and occasion, in my opinion, it qualifies carpets. After this, occurs the repetitive verse of which the occasion and placement is very evident.

تَبَارَكَ اسْمُ رَبِّكَ ذِي الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ (78)[26]

Just as earlier on when after mentioning arguments to substantiate reward and punishment, it was said: كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ (26) وَيَبْقَى وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ, in a similar manner, after elaborating upon some other details of reward and punishment, the same verse is repeated here. The purpose of this repetition is that since blessed is the Lord of the Prophet – the Lord of Majesty and Glory, hence all these favours and blessings will necessarily manifest themselves. Foolish are the people who think that the Almighty after creating this world has no concern with its good and evil. Just as in the earlier verse, the word وَجْهُ (face) was used to signify the being of God, in this verse the word اسْمُ (name) is used for this purpose. The name signifies the entity it stands for.

If the features of the orchards mentioned in the previous verses are deliberated upon, it will become evident that the favours pointed out in the orchards mentioned earlier reflect more the taste of the non-Arabs, while those mentioned later reflect more the taste of the Arabs. Though these favours are stated in the form of simile, their real form is known to God alone. The purpose of this mention is that this comparison to some extent brings a broad picture of these favours before us.

I am grateful to God that today on the 24th of Ramadān al-Mubārak 1397 AH, I am able to complete the tafsīr of this sūrah. فَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلَى إِحْسَانِهِ (gratitude be to God for His favours).

Lahore,

10th September 1977 AD

24th Ramadān al-Mubārak 1397 AH




Articles by this author


Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (10)

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (9)

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (8)

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (7)

Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (6)

Responsibilities of Muslim Youth

Mawlana Muhammad ‘Ali Jawhar

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (6)

The Source of Jarh and Ta‘dil in the Qur’an

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (5)

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (4)

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (3)

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik (2)

Mu’atta’ Imam Malik

Surah Hujurat (3/3)

Surah Hujurat (2/3)

Surah Hujurat (1/3)

Surah al-Qiyamah (2)

Surah al-Qiyamah (1)

Surah Muddaththir part (2)

Surah Muddaththir part (1)

Surah al-Muzzammil

Gleanings from Tadabbur-i Qur’an

Some Difficulties in Surah Rahman

Collection of the Qur’an: Amin Ahsan Islahi’s View

Sūrah Muhammad (Part 3/3)

Sūrah Muhammad (Part 2/3)

Sūrah Muhammad (Part 1/3)

Sūrah Dukhān (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Dukhān (Part 1/2)

Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws)

Sūrah Hujurat (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Hujurat (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Tūr (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Tūr (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Najm (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Najm (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Qamar (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Qamar (Part 2/2)

Surah Waqi‘ah (Part 1/2)

Surah Waqi‘ah (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Rahmān (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Rahmān (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Mujādalah (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Mujādalah (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Tahrīm (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Tahrīm (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Qalam (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Qalam (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Jumu‘ah

Sūrah Ma‘ārij (Part 1/2)

Sūrah Ma‘ārij (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Taghābun

Sūrah Munāfiqūn

Sūrah Hāqqah

Interrelation between the Qur’ān,  the Sunnah and the Ḥadīth

Sūrah Nuh

Difference between Hadith and Sunnah

Sūrah Jinn

Authoritativeness of the Akhbar-i Ahad

Sūrah Muzzammil

Sūrah Qiyāmah (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Qiyāmah (Part 1/2)

Causes of Hadith Fabrication

Surah Balad

Riwayah bi al-Ma‘na (Transmission by Meaning)

Surah Mursalat (Part 2/2)

Surah Mursalat (Part 1/2)

Primary Sources of Hadith Study

Sūrah Dahr (Part 2/2)

Sūrah Dahr (Part 1/2)

Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws)

Sūrah ‘Abas (Part 2/2)

Sūrah ‘Abas (Part 1/2)

Excellence and Inherent Limitations of the Isnād

Surah Takwir

Surah Infitar

Basic Criteria to Sift the Sound from the Unsound Ahadith

Sūrah Mutaffifīn

Sūrah Fajr

Fundamental Principles of Understanding Ahadīth

Sūrah Tāriq

Sūrah Burūj

Sūrah A‘lā

Sūrah Shams

Surah Duha

Surah Tin

Sūrah Bayyinah

Sūrah ‘Alaq

Surah ‘Asr

Surah ‘Adiyat

Surah Kafirun

Surah Nasr

Sūrah Lahab

Sūrah Falaq

Qurayshite Descent: A Condition for the Khalīfah

Conditions and Limits of Obedience to the Rulers

Principles of Interpreting the Qur’ān (Part 2/2)

Principles of Interpreting the Qur’ān (Part 1/2)

The Institution of Consultation during the Reign of Rightly Guided Caliphs

Heads for Zakah Spending

Surah Baqarah (1-39)

Surah Tariq

Purification of Deeds

Usage of some Qur’anic Terms (1)

Surah Qadr

Bismillahi’l-Rahmani’l-Rahim

Surah Kawthar

Understanding the Qur’an: Some Initial Conditions

Surah Fil

Surah Quraysh

Surah Alam Nashrah

Surah Humazah

Surah Ma‘un

Surah Nas

The Philosophy of Prayer Timings

Surah Ikhlas

Surah Zilzal

Good and Evil (Part 1/2)

Good and Evil (Part 2/2)

Difference Between Hadith and Sunnah

Errors in the Current Mode of Preaching

An Analysis of the Meanings of the Surahs of Group six (Part 2/2)

An Analysis of the Meanings of the Surahs of Group six (Part 1/2)

Surah Takathur

Surah Qariah

The Concept of Equality Between Man and Woman

Man’s Place in the Universe

Man’s Place in the Universe

A Summary and Analysis of The Meanings of Surah Takveer

A Summary and Analysis of The Meanings of Surah Muddaththir

A Summary and Analysis of The Meanings of Surah Muzzammil

A Summary and Analysis of The Meanings of Surah Ma‘arij

A Summary And Analysis Of The Meanings Of Surah Mulk

A SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS OF THE MEANINGS OF SURAH TEHREEM

A Summary and Analysis of The Meanings of Surah Talaaq

A Summary And Analysis Of The Meanings Of Surah Taghaabun

A Summary And Analysis Of The Meanings Of Surah Jum`Ah

A Summary And Analysis Of The Meanings Of Surah Mumtahinah

A Summary and Analysis of the mansings of Surah Hashr

Difference Between Hadith And Sunnah

A Summary And Analysis Of The Meanings Of Surah Mujaadalah

A SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS OF THE MEANINGS OF SURAH HADEED

A Summary and Analysis of The Meanings of Surah Waaqiyah

Good and Evil (2): View of the Quran

A Summary And Analysis Of The Meanings Of Surah Rahmaan

Good And Evil (1): Views Of The Philosophers

A Summary And Analysis Of The Meanings Of Surah Qamar