Thursday, December 6, 2018

Surah al Hadid - The Iron: Summary of 57th Chapter of the Holy Quran

Surah al-Ḥadīd is the Fifty Seventh surah with 29 ayats with four rukus, part of the 29th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an. It is one of those five undisputed surah which is known as "Al-Musabbihat," that is surahs begin with the glorification of Allah. The other four surahs are (1) Al-Hashr; (2) As-Saff; (3) Al-Jumu’ah; and (4) At-Taghabun. 

Most exegeses are  unanimous in declaring Surah al-Ḥadīd a Madani Surah as a study of its subject matter shows that it was probably sent down some time during the interval between the Battle of Uhud and the Truce of Hudaibiyah. This was the time when the handful of Muslims were entrenched against the might of the disbelievers of Makkah, supported by all disbelievers from the entire Arabia. Thus to prepare to contest the onslaught of the pagans of Makkah, Muslims were badly in need of monetary assistance. 

Thus the main theme of the Surah al-Ḥadīd hinges on the well to do few Muslims to come forward and strengthen the hands of the emerging Muslim power. Allah has thus addressed the believers to the effect "Those of you who would spend and fight after the victory can never be equal to those who have spent and fought before the victory." It is stressed that love for Islam did not merely consist in verbal affirmation and some outward practices but its essence and spirit is sincerity towards Allah and His Religion. The faith of the one who was devoid of this spirit and who regarded his own self and wealth as dearer to himself than Allah and His Religion, was hollow and therefore of little worth in the sight of Allah. 

Let us now read explanation of the Surah segmented into portions as per the subject matter:
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

سَبَّحَ لِلّٰهِ مَا فِى السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ​ۚ وَهُوَ الۡعَزِيۡزُ الۡحَكِيۡمُ‏ 
1. Whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Allah, and He is the All-Mighty, All-Wise. 
2. His is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, It is He Who gives life and causes death; and He is Able to do all things. 
Allah: The First, the Last, Most High and Most Near 

3. He is the First (nothing is before Him) and the Last (nothing is after Him), the Most High (nothing is above Him) and the Most Near (nothing is nearer than Him). And He is the All-Knower of every thing. 
The verse 3 is said to have made this surah to fall in the category of Al-Musabbihat. For here four attributes of Allah have been revealed at one place. This is the Ayah indicated in the Hadith of `Irbad bin Sariyah that is better than a thousand Ayats.  For details, please read our earlier post on 99 Attributes of Allah. [6]
4. He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days and then rose over the Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty). He knows what goes into the earth and what comes forth from it, what descends from the heaven and what ascends thereto. And He is with you (by His Knowledge) wheresoever you may be. And Allah is the All-Seer of what you do. 5. His is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. And to Allah return all the matters (for decision). 6. He merges night into day (i.e. the decrease in the hours of the night is added into the hours of the day), and merges day into night (i.e. the decrease in the hours of the day is added into the hours of the night), and He has full knowledge of whatsoever is in the breasts.
In verse 7 and onward  below, The addressees here are not the non-Muslims, but, as is borne out by the whole subsequent discourse, the Muslims who had affirmed the faith and joined the ranks of the believers, but were not fulfilling the demands of the faith and conducting themselves as true believers should.
7. Believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad ), and spend of that whereof He has made you trustees. And such of you as believe and spend (in Allah's Way), theirs will be a great reward. 8. And what is the matter with you that you believe not in Allah! While the Messenger (Muhammad ) invites you to believe in your Lord (Allah), and He (Allah) has indeed taken your covenant, if you are real believers. 9. It is He Who sends down manifest Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) to His slave (Muhammad ) that He may bring you out from darkness into light. And verily, Allah is to you full of kindness, Most Merciful. 10. And what is the matter with you that you spend not in the Cause of Allah? And to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth. Not equal among you are those who spent and fought before the conquering (of Makkah) (with those among you who did so later). Such are higher in degree than those who spent and fought afterwards. But to all, Allah has promised the best (reward). And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.
And then those who support Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him) are promised the reward of Jannah, Paradise:
11. Who is he that will lend to Allah a goodly loan, then (Allah) will increase it manifold to his credit (in repaying), and he will have (besides) a good reward (i.e. Paradise). 12. On the Day you shall see the believing men and the believing women their light running forward before them and by their right hands. Glad tidings for you this Day! Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever! Truly, this is the great success!

But for those who outwardly supported him but mocked the Prophet of Allah inwardly, there will be punishing hell awaiting them: 
13. On the Day when the hypocrites men and women will say to the believers: "Wait for us! Let us get something from your light!" It will be said: "Go back to your rear! Then seek a light!" So a wall will be put up between them, with a gate therein. Inside it will be mercy, and outside it will be torment." 14. (The hypocrites) will call the believers: "Were we not with you?" The believers will reply: "Yes! But you led yourselves into temptations, you looked forward for our destruction; you doubted (in Faith); and you were deceived by false desires, till the Command of Allah came to pass. And the chief deceiver (Satan) deceived you in respect of Allah." 15. So this Day no ransom shall be taken from you (hypocrites), nor of those who disbelieved, (in the Oneness of Allah Islamic Monotheism). Your abode is the Fire, that is the proper place for you, and worst indeed is that destination.
In the verse 16 below, the word believers is general, but it does not apply to all the Muslims; it refers to those particular Muslims who had professed the faith verbally and joined the followers of the Prophet (peace be upon him) though their hearts were devoid of any concern for Islam. 
16. Has not the time come for the hearts of those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah - Islamic Monotheism) to be affected by Allah's Reminder (this Qur'an), and that which has been revealed of the truth, lest they become as those who received the Scripture [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] before (i.e. Jews and Christians), and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened? And many of them were Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).
That is, the Jews and the Christians seem to have lost fervor and degenerated spiritually and morally hundreds of years after the passing away of their Prophets. But have you already become so depraved that while the Prophet (peace be upon him) is still present among you, and the Book of God is still being revealed, and not much time has passed over you since you affirmed the faith, and you have started behaving like the Jews and the Christians who have reached this state through centuries of playing and tempering with the Book of Allah and its verses.
17. Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its death! Indeed We have made clear the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) to you, if you but understand.
In verse 18 below the Arabic word Sadaqah has been used which means the charity given sincerely and with a pure intention only with a view to seek Allah’s good pleasure without making any show of it, and without the intention of doing any favor to the recipient. The donor should give it only because he has a true feeling of the service of his Lord. No charity and no spending of the wealth can be a sadaqah unless it springs from a sincere and pure motive of spending only for the sake of Allah.
18. Verily, those who give Sadaqat (i.e. Zakat and alms, etc.), men and women, and lend to Allah a goodly loan, it shall be increased manifold (to their credit), and theirs shall be an honourable good reward (i.e. Paradise). 19. And those who believe in (the Oneness of) Allah and His Messengers, they are the Siddiqun (i.e. those followers of the Prophets who were first and foremost to believe in them), and the martyrs with their Lord, they shall have their reward and their light. But those who disbelieve (in the Oneness of Allah - Islamic Monotheism) and deny Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they shall be the dwellers of the blazing Fire.
In verse 19 above, the believers imply those people of true faith whose attitude and conduct was absolutely different from that of the people of weak faith and the false claimants to Islam, and who were at that time vying with one another in making monetary sacrifices and were struggling with their lives in the cause of the true faith.

To understand the theme of verse 20 below, please understand the message contained in (Surah Aal-Imran, Ayats 14-15); (Surah Younus, Ayats 24-25); (Surah Ibrahim, Ayat 18); (Surah Al-Kahf, Ayats 45-46); (Surah An-Noor, Ayat 39). In all these verses the truth that has been impressed on the mind is: The life of this world is a temporary life to allure man with its pleasures. But the means of pleasure and enjoyment are indeed insignificant and confined to a few years of temporary life and can be destroyed by just one turn of fate. 
20. Know well that the life of this world is merely sport and diversion and adornment and an object of your boasting with one another, and a rivalry in the multiplication of riches and children. Its likeness is that of rain: when it produces vegetation it delights the tillers. But then it withers and you see it turn yellow, and then it crumbles away. In the Hereafter there is (either) grievous chastisement (or) forgiveness from Allah and (His) good pleasure. The life of this world is nothing but delusion.
Contrary to this, the life in Hereafter is a splendid and eternal life. Its benefits are great and permanent and its losses too are great and permanent. The one who attains Allah’s forgiveness and His goodwill there, will indeed have attained the everlasting bliss beside which the entire wealth of the world and its kingdom become pale and insignificant. And the one who is seized in God’s torment there, will come to know that he had made a bad bargain even if he had attained all that he regarded as great and splendid in the world.

So believers should vie for a reward which is permanent and never ending in paradise the magnitude of which is unimaginable:
21. Race one with another in hastening towards Forgiveness from your Lord (Allah), and towards Paradise, the width whereof is as the width of heaven and earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers. That is the Grace of Allah which He bestows on whom He pleases. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty.
22. No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz), before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah. 23. In order that you may not be sad over matters that you fail to get, nor rejoice because of that which has been given to you. And Allah likes not prideful boasters. 24. Those who are misers and enjoin upon people miserliness (Allah is not in need of their charity). And whosoever turns away (from Faith Allah's Monotheism), then Allah is Rich (Free of all wants), Worthy of all praise.
Verse 25 below contains the word Al Hadeed (The Iron), on which this surah has been so named:
25. Indeed We sent Our Messengers with Clear Signs, and sent down with them the Book and the Balance that people may uphold justice. And We sent down iron, wherein there is awesome power and many benefits for people, so that Allah may know who, without even having seen Him, helps Him and His Messengers. Surely Allah is Most Strong, Most Mighty.
There is lot of discussion and thus many variation on the part of the verse that concerns the Al Hadeed. 
  • One interpretation is simply that iron was literally sent down like in the form of meteorites. This is a very simple and straightforward interpretation.
  • Second interpretation is that since the Quran also says in other places that “we sent down messengers” or “we sent down rain” or “we sent down cattle” etc meaning things weren't literally sent down they already existed on the earth but rather the commandment for these things to exist was sent down since it has to comes from above.
  • Third interpretation is that since Muslims were the minority in Arabia they were constantly persecuted by the non Muslim majority. They would mock Muslims by saying if God truly is on your side then why are you so few in number and how come you are so weak militarily, We could destroy you all in less than half a day if we wanted. If only you had the guts to retaliate and fight.
So the sending down of iron is used as a metaphor which is conveying that Allah actually blessed the Muslims with military might. As the best swords, shields and armor were made of iron. And in the end the Muslims ended up winning most of their battles despite being a minority and being ridiculously outnumbered. 

The verses 26-29  explain that Prophets Nuh, Ibrahim and Isa (Jesus) were sent for the guidance to the Right Path, as for the monasticism, people instituted it themselves. It is being told here what corruptions appeared among those who believed in the Prophets who came to the world before the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) with the signs and the Book and the criterion. That is, whichever Messenger came with Allah’s Book, was from the progeny of the Prophet Noah (peace be upon him) and, after him, from the progeny of the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). But their followers became transgressors and disobedient.
26. And indeed, We sent Nuh (Noah) and Ibrahim (Abraham), and placed in their offspring Prophethood and Scripture, and among them there is he who is guided, but many of them are Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah). 27. Then, We sent after them, Our Messengers, and We sent 'Iesa (Jesus) - son of Maryam (Mary), and gave him the Injeel (Gospel). And We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him, compassion and mercy. But the Monasticism which they invented for themselves, We did not prescribe for them, but (they sought it) only to please Allah therewith, but that they did not observe it with the right observance. So We gave those among them who believed, their (due) reward, but many of them are Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah). 
For the explanation of verse 28, The commentators differ in the explanation of this verse, One group says that the address here is directed to the people who believed in the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him). It is being said to them: Believe in the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) now; for this you will be given a double reward, one reward for believing in the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) and the other reward for believing in the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This commentary is supported by (verses 52-54 of Surah Al-Qasas), and furthermore by the tradition reported by Abu Musa al-Ashari, according to which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: There are three men who will get a double reward, one of them is a person from among the followers of the earlier Books who believed in this earlier Prophet and then believed in the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). (Bukhari Muslim). 
28. Believers, have fear of Allah and believe in His Messenger, and He will grant you a two-fold portion of His Mercy, and will appoint for you a light whereby you shall walk;56 and He will forgive you.57 Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Compassionate.
The second group says that the followers of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are being addressed. They are being admonished to the effect: Do not rest content with your verbal affirmation of the faith only, but you should believe sincerely and truly. For this you will be given a double reward: one reward for giving up disbelief and turning to Islam, and the second reward for believing sincerely in Islam and remaining steadfast to it. 

The second commentary is supported by( verse 37 of Surah Saba), which says that the righteous believers will have a double reward. From the point of view of argument both the commentaries are equally weighty. However, considering the theme that follows, one feels that the second commentary is more in keeping with the context here; and in fact the whole theme of this Surah, from beginning to end, supports this very commentary. From the beginning of this Surah the addressees are the people who had entered Islam after affirming the Prophethood of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and it is they whom the Surah invites to believe sincerely and truly and not merely verbally with the tongue.
29. (You should do this) so that the People of the Book know that they have no control over Allah's Bounty, and that all bounty is in Allah's Hand; He bestows it on whomsoever He pleases. Allah is the Lord of abounding bounty.
Please do consult following references to clearly understand this surah for a lot of explanation is required to understand its actual magnitude.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Surah al-Ḥadīd 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 | 5 | 6 | 7 |
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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