Friday 9 November 2018

Surah Al-Jinn "The Jinn" : Summary of 72nd Chapter of Holy Quran

Sūrat al-Jinn, the 72nd surah with 28 verses and two rukuh was revealed in the later part of Prophet of Allah's stay in Makkah and is part of 29th Juz / part of the Holy Qur'an. As is evident form its name, the surah specifically attributed to Jinns, the unseen inhabitants of the earth made from the smokeless fire. Like human beings, they too are good or bad and Muslim and Non Muslim creatures. However, jinns and demons (shayāṭīn) are different entities in Islamic traditions and should not be taken as one and the same thing.

In this surah the event of the Jinn's hearing the Qur'an and returning to their people to preach Islam to them, has been related in detail. It has been quoted on the authority of Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas that once while the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was going to visit the Fair of Ukaz with some of his Companions, he led the Fajr Prayer at Nakhlah. At that time a company of the jinn happened to pass that way. When they heard the Qur'an being recited, they stopped and listened to it attentively. 

Here it would be pertinent to clear a misunderstanding about the time and space of happening of the incident mentioned above. As asserted by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi in his book "Tafhim al-Qur'an" most of the commentators believe that this incident relates to the Holy Prophet's well known journey to Taif, which had taken place three years before the Hijrah in the 10th year of the Prophet hood. But this is not correct for several reasons: [1]
  • The jinn's hearing the Qur'an during the journey to Taif has been related in Al-Ahqaf 29-32. A cursory reading of those verses shows that the jinn who had believed after hearing the Qur'an on that occasion were already believers in the Prophet Moses and the previous scriptures. 
  • On the contrary, verses. 2- 7 of this surah clearly show that the jinn who heard the Qur'an on this occasion were polytheists and deniers of the Hereafter and Prophet hood. 
  • Then, it is confirmed historically that in his journey to Taif none accompanied the Holy Prophet except Hadrat Zaid bin Harithah. On the contrary, concerning this journey Ibn Abbas says that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was accompanied by some of his Companions.
  • Furthermore, the traditions also agree that in that journey the jinn heard the Qur'an when the Holy Prophet had stopped at Nakhlah on his return journey from Taif to Makkah, and in this journey, according to the traditions of Ibn Abbas, the event of the jinn's hearing the Qur'an occurred when the Holy Prophet was going to Ukaz from Makkah. 
  • Therefore, in view of these reasons what seems to be correct is that in Surah Al-Ahqaf and Surah Al Jinn, one and the same event has not been narrated, but these were two separate events, which took place during two separate journeys.
Let us now read explanation of the Surah segmented into portions for better understanding:
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

The first fifteen verses of this surah deliberate on the impact of the Qur'an on the company of the jinn when they heard it and what they said to their fellow jinn when they returned to them. Allah, in this connection, has not cited their whole conversation but only those particular things which were worthy of mention. If one studies these sentences spoken by the jinn carefully, one can easily understand the real object of the narration of this event of their affirming the faith and or mentioning this conversation of theirs with their people in the Qur'an. 

The first verse shows that the jinn at that time were not visible to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace), nor he knew that they were hearing the Qur'an being recited, but Allah informed him of the incident afterwards by Revelation.  The words at the end of the first verse are "Quran-un-ajaba," Ajab is a superlative, which is used in Arabic for a wonderful thing. So, what the jinn said means: We have heard such a wonderful recital which is unique both in its language and in its subject-matter.
1) Say, (O Prophet), it was revealed to me that a band of jinn attentively listened to (the recitation of the Qur'an) and then (went back to their people) and said:
The verse 2 below shows that  jinn not only hear what human beings say but also understand their language. The exclamation by the jinns thus clearly shows that the jinn who listened to the Quran at that time were so conversant with the Arabic language that they not only appreciated the matchless eloquence of the divine word but also understood its sublime subject-matter.
2) “We have indeed heard a wonderful Qur'an which guides to the Right Way; so we have come to believe in it, and we will not associate aught with Our Lord in His Divinity”;
This verse also highlights three things: (1) That the jinn do not deny Allah’s existence and His being Lord and Sustainer. (2) That among them there are polytheists also, who like polytheistic human beings ascribe divinity to others than Allah: thus, the community of the jinn whose members heard the Quran was polytheistic. (3) That the Prophethood and revelation of divine scriptures does not exist among the jinn, but whoever of them believe, they believe in the Prophets raised among human beings and in the Books brought by them. This same thing is confirmed by Surah Al-Ahqaf, verses 29-30, where it has been stated that the jinn who had then heard the Quran, were from among the followers of the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), and they after having heard the Quran, had invited their people to believe in the revelation that had been sent down by Allah confirming the previous scriptures.  Surah Ar-Rahman (Chapter 55) also points to the same, for its whole subject-matter shows that the audience of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) invitation are both the men and the jinn.
3) and that “He – exalted be His Majesty – has not taken to Himself either a wife or a son”;
It is evident from the verse 3 above that those jinn were either from among the Christian community of jinn, or they were followers of a different religion in which Allah was regarded as having children and families. And thus they realized the error of their creed and knew that it was sheer ignorance and impudence to ascribe wife and children to the High and Exalted Being of Allah.
4) and that “the foolish among us have been want to say outrageous things about Allah”;
In verse 4, the Arabic word  "safihuna" has been used, which can be spoken for an individual as well as for a group. If it is taken for a foolish individual, it would imply Iblis and if for a group, it would imply a group of foolish jinn who said such things.
5) and that “we had thought that men and jinn would never speak a lie about Allah”,
As for explanation of verse 6, it has been attributed to Ibn Abbas who said: In the pre-Islamic days of ignorance when the Arabs had to spend a night in some uninhabited, desolate valley, they would shout out: We seek refuge of the jinn, who is owner of this valley. And if wandering Bedouins ran short of water and fodder, they would send one of their men to some other place to see if water and fodder were available; and when they reached the new site under his direction, they would shout out before they halted to pitch the camp: We seek refuge of the sustainer of this valley so that we may live here in peace from every calamity. They believed that every un-inhabited place was under the control of one or another jinn and if someone stayed there without seeking his refuge, the jinn would either himself trouble the settlers, or would let others trouble them. These believing jinn are referring to this very thing.
6) and that “some from among the humans used to seek protection of some among the jinn, and thus they increased the arrogance of the jinn”;
7) and that “they thought, even as you thought, that Allah would never raise anyone (as a Messenger)”; 8) and that “we tried to pry (the secrets of) the heaven, but we found it full of terrible guards and shooting meteors”;
The Judgement in verse 7, and the Punishment in verse 25 below, are both references to the Yaum al Qiyamah or the Day of Resurrection.
9) and that “we would take up stations in the heaven to try to hear but anyone who now attempts to listen finds a shooting meteor in wait for him”;
Verse 9: This is the reason why these jinn were now out searching as to what particularly had happened or was going to happen on the earth, which had necessitated strict security measures against eavesdropping so that they were driven away from wherever they tried to eavesdrop in any way.
10) and that “we do not know whether evil is intended for those on the earth, or whether their Lord intends to direct them to the Right Way”;
The verse 10 above means that such extraordinary measures were adopted in the heavens only on two kinds of occasions.
  • First, when Allah might decide to inflict the dwellers of the earth with a torment, and the divine will might be that before it was actually inflicted the jinn might not know and convey its news to warn their friendly human beings of the impending disaster. 
  • Second, that Allah might appoint a Messenger on the earth, and strict security measures might be adopted so that neither the messages being conveyed to him be interfered with by the satans nor should they be able to know beforehand what instructions were being given to the Messenger. 
  • Thus, the saying of the jinn means: When we noticed that strict security measures had been adopted in the heavens for the safeguard of the news, and the meteorites were being showered profusely, we wanted to know which of the two things had happened. And we were on the lookout for the same when we heard the wonderful revelation, which guides to the right path, and we came to know that Allah had not sent down a torment but had raised a Messenger to show the right way to the people. 
11) and that “some of us are upright and some of us are otherwise for we follow widely divergent paths”; 12) and that “we thought that we will neither be able to frustrate Allah on earth, nor frustrate Him by flight”; 13) and that “when we heard the teaching of the Right Way we came to believe in it; he who believes in His Lord shall have no fear of suffering loss or being subjected to any injustice”;
The verses 11-14 above can be explained as under:
  • 11) That is there are also good and bad jinn, and all do not follow one and the same religion, but we (jinn) are divided into different groups. With these words the believing jinn want to convince the other jinn of their community that they certainly stood in need of finding out the right way and could not dispense with this need.
  • 12) That is we were not fearless of Allah and we believed that we would not be able to avoid His punishment if we disobeyed Him. So when we heard the divine revelation that had been sent to show the right way, we could not have the courage and boldness to persist in the beliefs that our foolish people had spread among us after we have known the truth.
  • 13) Fear of deprivation: Fear of being given a lesser reward than what one actually deserves for one’s good deeds. Injustice: That one may be deprived of the reward for the good deeds done but duly punished for the errors committed or punished innocent; no believer has any fear of such an injustice from Allah. 
14) and that “among us some are Muslims (Those who have submitted to Allah), and some of us are deviant. So those who became Muslims found the Right Course; 15) but those who deviated from the Truth, will be the fuel for Hell.”
In verses 16-l8, the people have been admonished to the effect:"If you refrain from polytheism and follow the way of righteousness firmly, you will be blessed; otherwise if you turn away from the admonition sent down by Allah, you will meet with a severe punishment." 
16) If people were to keep firmly to the Right Way, We would have vouchsafed them abundant rain. 17) so that We might try them through this bounty.17 Whoso turns away from the remembrance of his Lord,18 He will cause him to suffer a grievous chastisement; 18) and that “mosques belong to Allah, so do not invoke anyone with Him”;
In verses 19-23, the disbelievers of Makkah have been reproached, as if to say: When the Messenger of Allah calls you towards Allah, you surround and mob him from every side, whereas the only duty of the Messenger is to convey the messages of Allah. He does not claim to have any power to bring any gain or cause any harm to the people." 
19) and when Allah's servant [that is the Prophet (peace be upon him)] stood up to call on Him, they well-nigh swarmed him.
Verses 20-22 are especially important as Monotheism (tawhid) among the Jinn is reaffirmed and the inescapable wrath of God is emphasized.
20) Say, (O Prophet): “I call on my Lord alone, and I do not associate aught with Him in His Divinity.” 21) Say: “Surely neither it is in my power to hurt you nor to bring you to the Right Way.” 22) Say: “None can protect me from Allah, nor can I find a refuge apart from Him.
23) (My task is no more than) to deliver Allah's proclamation and His messages. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, surely the Fire of Hell awaits him; therein he will abide in perpetuity.”
In verses 24-25 the disbelievers have been warned to the effect: "Today you are trying to overpower and suppress the Messenger seeing that he is helpless and friendless, but a time will come when you will know who in actual fact is helpless and friendless. Whether that time is yet far off, or near at hand, the Messenger has no knowledge thereof, but it will come to pass in any case." 
24) (They shall not change their ways) until they see that against which they had been warned, and then they will know whose helpers are weaker and whose supporters are fewer in number. 25) Say: “I know not whether what you are promised is near or whether my Lord will prolong its term.
Verses 25-28 establish that Qiyamah is known only to God, and that God takes into account all the deeds of a man when judging him. 

In conclusion, the people have been told: The Knower of the unseen is Allah alone. The Messenger receives only that knowledge which Allah is pleased to give him. This knowledge pertains to matters connected with the performance of the duties of Prophethood and it is delivered to him in such security which does not admit of any external interference whatever.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrat al-Jinn with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Part backwards for chapters in 30th Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
An effort has been made to gather explanation of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic souses and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. However, those wanting detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to sites the references of which are given above.

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