Tuesday 23 July 2019

Surah Al-Qasas - The Story: Exegesis / Tafseer of 28th Chapter of Holy Quran (Part II)

Sūrah Al-Qaṣaṣ "The Story" is the 28th chapter (sūrah) of the Qur'an with 88 verses (āyāts) and nine rukus, part of the 20th Juz'. The Surah takes its name from verse 25 in which the word Al-Qasas occurs. Lexically, qasas means to relate events in their proper sequence. Thus, from the viewpoint of the meaning too, this word can be a suitable title for this Surah, for in it the detailed story of the Prophet Moses has been related.

The Sūrah is also known as the (The) History, The Narrations, or the Narrative. The Sūrah is also known as the (The) History, The Narrations, or the Narrative. Sūrah Al-Qaṣaṣ can conveniently be broken down in two parts, owing to the subject matter, and there its exegesis / tafseer is being given in following two parts separately:
  • Part I:  (Rukku 1-4, verses 1-42) narrates the remaining part of story of Prophet Musa (Moses, peace be upon him) that has been spanned on three surahs, that is Surah Ash Shu`ara', Surah An-Naml and this surah, as mentioned in the Overview.
  • Part II: (This Part - Rukhu 5-9, verses 43-88) Polytheism is condemned, and Prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him) is reminded that he cannot make the people believe but nevertheless he must remain steadfast in his mission.
Having deliberated upon the first four rukhus of the surah in Part I, let us now continue to read the remaining part of the Surah (Rukhu 5-9)  and its exegesis / tafseer in English segmented into portions as per the subject matter. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

Rukhu 5 [Verses 43-50]

In verses 43-50 Allah tells Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), that he was not present there on the mountain when He (Allah) gave Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) the law, nor was he among the people of Midian.  Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was also not there when Allah spoke to Moses on the side of Mount Sinai.  You (Prophet Muhammad) had no direct means of obtaining the information of earlier nations; all this is being revealed to you.   You were sent as an act of grace and mercy to warn a people that had never been warned before, that they must take heed and never be able to say that a warner did not come to them.  Now that the truth has come to them they ask why Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not given a law like Moses’ law.  They call the Torah and the Quran sorcery and refuse to accept either of them.  Ask these disbelievers to bring forth a scripture that is more guiding.  If they do not respond you will know that they only follow their own desires.  God does not guide the wrongdoers.
( 43 )   And We gave Moses the Scripture, after We had destroyed the former generations, as enlightenment for the people and guidance and mercy that they might be reminded.
That is, “When the former generations met with the evil consequences of turning away from the teachings of the Prophets, and they met the doom that was experienced by Pharaoh and his hosts, then Moses was granted the Book so as to usher in a new era for mankind.”

After the destruction of the Pharaonic Tyranny and other similar Tyrannies before them, Allah began a new age of Revelation, the age of Moses and his Book. Humanity began as it were with a clean slate again. It was a full Revelation (or Shari'at) which may be looked at from three points of view: (1) as Light or Insight for men, so that they should not grope in darkness; (2) as a Guide to show them the Way, so that they should not be misled into wrong Paths; and (3) as a Mercy from Allah, so that by following the Way they may receive Allah's Forgiveness and Grace. In vi. 91, we have a reference to Light and Guidance in connection with the Revelation of Moses, and in vi. 154 we have a reference to Guidance and Mercy in the same connection. Here all three are combined, with the substitution of Basair for Nur. Basair is the plural of Basirat, and may also be translated Proofs.
( 44 )   And you, [O Muhammad], were not on the western side [of the mount] when We revealed to Moses the command, and you were not among the witnesses [to that].
“Western side”: Mount Sinai, which lies to the west of the Hijaz and on which the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was given the Divine Law. “The witnesses”: the seventy of the elders of Israel who had been summoned along with Moses for the covenant to follow the Law. See (Surah Al-Aaraf: Ayat 155).
( 45 )   But We produced [many] generations [after Moses], and prolonged was their duration. And you were not a resident among the people of Madyan, reciting to them Our verses, but We were senders [of this message].
That is, “You had no direct means of obtaining this information. All this is being revealed to you by Allah. That is how you have been enabled to relate these two thousand years old events, in a manner as if you were an eye witness.”

That is, “You did not exist at the time when the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) reached Midian, passed ten years of his life there, and then left for Egypt. You were not preaching in the habitations of Midian that which you are preaching in the streets of Makkah. You are not relating those events as an eye witness, but because you have been given the knowledge of these by Us through revelations.”
( 46 )   And you were not at the side of the mount when We called [Moses] but [were sent] as a mercy from your Lord to warn a people to whom no warner had come before you that they might be reminded.
These things have been presented as a proof of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) prophethood. At the time when these were cued, all the chiefs of Makkah and the common disbelievers were bent upon somehow proving him as a non prophet, and, God forbid, a false claimant to prophethood. To help and assist them in their campaign, there were the Jewish scholars and the Christian monks also, who were living in the habitations of the Hijaz. Besides, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had not appeared all of a sudden from somewhere and started reciting the Quran to the people, but he was a resident of the same city of Makkah, and no aspect of his life was hidden from the people of his city and clan.

That is why when these three things were presented like an open challenge as a proof of his prophethood, not a single person from Makkah and Hijaz and the entire land of Arabia could stand up to say the absurd thing which the modern orientalists say, although those people were no less efficient in fabricating falsehood than these so called scholars. But how could they utter an unprofitable lie that could not survive for a single moment? How could they say, “O Muhammad, you have attained this information from such and such a Jewish scholar and a Christian monk?” For, this purpose, they could not mention any name in the entire land. For whatever name they mentioned, it would become manifest there and then that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had not obtained any information from him. How could they say, “O Muhammad, you possess a full-fledged library containing all sorts of books on ancient history and sciences and literature, from which you take help to prepare all your discourses?” For not to speak of a library, no one could seize even a scrap of paper from his house containing such information. Everyone in Makkah knew that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was unlettered and no one could also say that he had had some translators at his disposal, who supplied him with translations from Hebrew and Assyrian and Greek books.

Then, none of them could be so shameless as to dare claim that he had obtained this information during the trade journeys to Syria and Palestine, for he had not performed those journeys alone, but had traveled in company with trade caravans of Makkah. Had somebody made any such assertion, hundreds of living witnesses would have refuted this and testified that he had received no such instruction from anyone there. Then, within two years of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) death, war started between the Romans and the Muslims. If he had any sort of discussion anywhere in Syria and Palestine with any Christian monk or Jewish rabbi, the Roman Empire would not have hesitated to launch a propaganda campaign, saying, that Muhammad (peace be upon him), God forbid, had learned everything from them and gone back to Makkah and proclaimed himself a Prophet. In short, at that time when the challenge of the Quran was the knell of the disbelieving Quraish and the polytheists and the need of those people to refute it was far greater then of the modern orientalists, no one could discover any material by which he could prove that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had some other means than revelation for obtaining that information.

One should also know that the Quran has not given this challenge only here, but also at several other places in connection with different stories. After narrating the story of the Prophet Zacharias (peace be upon him) and Mary, it was said: “These are of the “unseen” things We are revealing to you: you were not present there when the priests of the Temple were casting lots by throwing their quills to decide which of them should be the guardian of Mary: nor were you there with them when they were arguing about it.” (Surah Aal-Imran: Ayat 44). At the end of the Prophet Joseph’s (peace be upon him) story it was said: “This story which We are revealing to you is of those things that were not known to you: for you were not with the brothers (of Joseph), when they had conspired together a plot against Joseph.” (Surah Yusuf: Ayat 102). Similarly, after relating the full story of the Prophet Noah (peace be upon him), it was said: “These are some of the tidings of the unseen which We are revealing to you. You did not know these before nor did your people.” (Surah Hud: Ayat 49). That, this thing has been reiterated several times, shows that this was one of the main arguments that the Quran gave to prove its being Allah’s Word and the Prophet (peace be upon him) being a Messenger of Allah. For there was no perceptible means of knowledge available to the Prophet (peace be upon him) who was an unlettered person, apart from revelation, through which he could narrate so accurately the events that had happened hundreds and thousands of years in the past.

And this was one of the important reasons why the contemporaries of the prophet (peace be upon him) were coming to believe, in larger and still larger numbers, that he was really a Prophet of Allah and has received Allah’s revelations. Now one can easily imagine how important it must have been for the opponents of the Islamic movement at that time to meet this challenge, and what efforts they must have made to collect arguments and proofs against it. One can also see that if, God forbid, there was the slightest weakness in this challenge, it would not have been at all difficult for the contemporary people to provide evidence for its refutation.

No prophet had been born especially in Arabia after the Prophets Ishmael and Shuaib (peace be upon them), during the past two thousand years or so, though teachings of the Prophets like Moses and Solomon and Jesus (peace be upon them) had reached the people of that land.
( 47 )   And if not that a disaster should strike them for what their hands put forth [of sins] and they would say, "Our Lord, why did You not send us a messenger so we could have followed Your verses and been among the believers?"...
This very thing has been presented at several places in the Quran as the reason for sending the messengers, but it will not be correct to conclude from this that a messenger should be sent on every occasion at every place for this purpose. As long as the message of a prophet remains intact in the world and the means of conveying it to others exist, there is no need for a new prophet, unless need arises to supplement the previous message, or to supplant it by a new message, Nevertheless, when the teachings of the prophets are forgotten, or become mixed up with errors and deviations and can no longer be relied upon as means of guidance, then the people do get a chance to make the excuse that there existed no arrangement whatsoever to make them aware of the distinction between the truth and the untruth and guide them to the right way: so they could not be guided aright. To meet such an excuse, Allah sends the prophets in such conditions so that any one who follows a wrong way after that may himself be held responsible for his going astray.
( 48 )   But when the truth came to them from Us, they said, "Why was he not given like that which was given to Moses?" Did they not disbelieve in that which was given to Moses before? They said, "[They are but] two works of magic supporting each other, and indeed we are, in both, disbelievers."
That is, “Why has not Muhammad (peace be upon him) been given all those miracles which had been given to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him)? He also should have shown us the miracle of the staff; his hand also should have shone like the sun; his deniers also should have been struck with storms and plagues from the earth and heaven; and he also should have brought them commandments written on stone tablets.” AS for the works of magic, here they meant the Quran and the Torah both.

Now here is the Divine reply to their objection, which implies: “The disbelievers of Makkah had not believed in Moses (peace be upon him) either, nor followed his teachings. Therefore they had no right to say: Why has the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) not been given the same miracles that were given to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him)?” In (Surah Saba: Ayat 31), this saying of the disbelievers of Makkah has been related: “We shall never believe in this Quran, nor in any other Book which came before it.”
( 49 )   Say, "Then bring a scripture from Allah which is more guiding than either of them that I may follow it, if you should be truthful."
That is, “I have to follow the guidance in any case, provided that it is not forged but is real guidance from Allah. If you possess a divine Book which gives better guidance than the Quran and the Torah, you should produce it: I shall follow it without any hesitation.”
( 50 )   But if they do not respond to you - then know that they only follow their [own] desires. And who is more astray than one who follows his desire without guidance from Allah? Indeed, Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.
They were challenged to produce something better, to be a guide in life. But as they could not, it was evident that their objections were fractious. They were only following their own selfish lusts of power, monopoly, and exploitation of the poor and ignorant. How can such people receive guidance?

Rukhu 6 [Verses 51-60]
The disbelievers of Makkah had repeatedly been given the words of the Quran.  Some of those who were given the scripture before the Quran had no trouble believing in it (the Quran), and said that they already believed in One God and were sincerely responding to His commands even before the Quran came.  They will be given their reward twice because they have endured.  They repel evil with good, give in charity from what has been provided for them, and turn away when they hear frivolous speech.  Oh Muhammad you do not decide who will be guided; Allah guides whoever He pleases and knows which people will accept guidance.  They do not wish to be guided.  They say that if they accept guidance they will be driven from the land.  But Allah has already given them a sanctuary (Mecca) and provided everything they could possibly need. 

In your travels you (Meccans) have seen the cities that God destroyed.  And Allah would never destroy a city or its people without first sending a messenger.  Whatever you have in this world is temporary and that which is with Allah is better and more lasting.  So why not use your power of reasoning? Is the person who strives for the Hereafter and is rewarded with eternal bliss like the one who merely enjoys a few days of this life and is then punishment in the next?

In verses 51-55 it is said that righteous Jews and Christians can recognize the truth of Al-Quran and feel that they were Muslims even before hearing it
( 51 )   And We have [repeatedly] conveyed to them the Qur'an that they might be reminded.
Before this the Quraish might have said that the Word of Allah had come to the Hebrews in their tongue or in Greek, which was used by the Hebrews in the time of Jesus. Now that Word is brought to their own doors, in their own Arabic tongue, by a man of their own race and family. Surely they have no excuse now for remaining strangers to the higher moral and spiritual law.
( 52 )   Those to whom We gave the Scripture before it - they are believers in it.
This does not mean that all the people of the Book (the Jews and the Christians) affirm faith in it. This, in fact, contains an allusion to the event that occurred during the period when this Surah was revealed, and was meant to put to shame the people of Makkah, as if to say, “You are denying and rejecting a blessing that has been sent in your own city, whereas the people from far off places, when they hear of it, come to recognize its worth and benefit from it.”

This event has been related by lbn Hisham, Baihaqi and others on the authority of Ibn Ishaq, thus: “After the migration to Habash when the news about the Prophet's (peace be upon him) advent and message spread in that land, a deputation of about twenty Christians came to Makkah to find out the truth, and they met the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the Masjid-al-Haram A crowd of the Quraish also gathered around them to watch what happened. The members of the deputation asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) some questions, which he answered. Then he invited them to accept Islam and recited some verses of the Quran before them. When they heard the Quran, tears came down from their eyes and they confirmed its being Allah’s Word and believed in the Prophet (peace be upon him). When the meeting was over and the people left, Abu Jahl and some of his men overtook them on the way, and rebuked them severely, saying, “Never has a more stupid company come here before: O foolish men you were sent here by your people with a view to inquiring about this man, but no sooner did you meet him, you gave up your own faith!” Those gentle people answered, “Peace be to you! We have no wish to enter an argument with you: you are responsible for your faith and we are for ours: we cannot afford to deprive ourselves knowingly of goodness.”

Also see Surah Ash Shu'ara Chapter 26: verses 52-55.
( 53 )   And when it is recited to them, they say, "We have believed in it; indeed, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed we were, [even] before it, Muslims [submitting to Allah]."
Verse 54 needs a little deliberation. “Even before this we were believers in the Prophets and the divine Books. Therefore, we had no other faith than Islam and we have believed in that Book too, which this Prophet has brought from Allah. Thus, no change has occurred in our religion: we were Muslims before even as we are Muslims now.”

This saying clearly indicates that Islam is not the name of the faith brought by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the term Muslim is not only applicable to his followers, but Islam has been the faith of all the prophets since the very beginning and their followers were Muslims in every age. These Muslims became disbelievers only when they refused to acknowledge a true prophet who came afterwards. But no interruption occurred in the Islam of those people who believed in the former prophet and also affirmed faith in the prophet who succeeded him. They continued to be Muslims as they had been Muslims before.

It is strange that even some learned men also have failed to comprehend this fact, and this clear verse also could not satisfy them. Allama Suyuti wrote a treatise on the subject that the term Muslim was only reserved for the followers of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Then, as he further says, when this verse came before him, he was stunned: he prayed to God to guide him in the matter. At last, instead of revising his opinion he stuck to it even more firmly and gave several interpretations of the verse, each to which is more meaningless than the other. For example, one of his interpretations is: “We were Muslims even before this” means: We intended to become Muslims even before the revelation of the Quran, because we had been foretold by our Scriptures that it would come, and we had the intention that when it came we would accept Islam.” Another interpretation is: “In this sentence, the word bi-hi after muslimin is omitted, implying: We believed in the Quran beforehand, because we expected it would come, and had believed in it in anticipation. Therefore, we were Muslims, not because we believed in the Torah and the Gospels, but because we had believed in the Quran as Allah”s Word even before its revelation.” The third interpretation is: “It had been divinely destined for us that we would accept Islam on the advent of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the revelation of the Quran; therefore, we were Muslims even before this.” None of these interpretations bears any impress that divine help had become available for the right understanding of this verse.

The fact is that the Quran has expressed this fundamental principle not only here, but also at scores of other places that the real way of life is only Islam (submission to Allah), and in God’s universe there can be no other way of life than this for His creatures. Since the beginning of the creation every Prophet who came for the guidance of mankind brought this very way of life: the Prophets themselves have always been Muslims, and they impressed upon their followers also to live as Muslims, and all their followers who submitted to the divine command brought by the Prophets, were also Muslims in every age. Consider the following few verses for instance:

  1. Indeed, Islam is the only right way of life in the sight of Allah. (Surah Aal-Imran: Ayat 19).
  2. Whoever adopts any other than this way of submission (Islam), it will not be accepted from him. (Surah Aal- Imran: Ayat 85).
  3. My reward is with Allah, and I have been commanded to believe like a Muslim. (Surah Yunus: Ayat 72). About Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and his descendants it has been said:
  4. When his Lord said to him, “Surrender”, he promptly responded, “I have surrendered to the Lord of the universe (and become a Muslim)”. He also enjoined on his children to follow the same way. Jacob (peace be upon him) also did the same and his last will to his sons was: “O my children, Allah has chosen the same way of life for you. Hence, remain Muslims up to your last breath.” Were you present at the time when Jacob (peace be upon him) was on the point of death? He asked his children, “Whom will you worship after me?” They all answered, “We will worship the same One Allah Whom you, your forefathers Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac (peace be upon them) acknowledged as their Allah and to Him we all surrender as Muslims.” (Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 133).
  5. Abraham (peace be upon him) was neither a Jew, nor a Christian, but he was a Muslim, sound in the Faith.” (Surah Aal-Imran: Ayat 67). Prophets Abraham and Ishmael (peace be upon them) prayed:
  6. Lord, make us Thy Muslims and raise from our offspring a community which should also be Muslim (submissive to Thy will). (Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 128). In connection with the story of the Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) it has been said:
  7. “We did not find in it any house of the Muslims except one.” (Surah Adh-Dhariyat: Ayat 36). The Prophet Joseph (peace be upon him) prayed to Allah:
  8. Let me die as a Muslim, and join me with the righteous in the end. (Surah Yusuf: Ayat 101). Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) said to his people:
  9. O my people, if you sincerely believe in Allah, put your trust in Him, if you are Muslims. (Surah Yunus: Ayat 84). The real religion of the Israelites was not Judaism but Islam as was known to their friends and foes alike. That is why the last words that Pharaoh said while drowning were:
  10. I have believed that there is no god but the real God in Whom the children of Israel have believed, and I am of the Muslims.” (Surah Yunus: Ayat 90). Islam was the Way of life of all the Israelite prophets:
  11. Indeed, We sent down the Torah wherein was guidance and light: thereby all the prophets, who were Muslims, judged the cases of those who had become Jews.” (Surah Al-Maidah: Ayat 44). The same was the Prophet Solomon’s (peace be upon him) way of life. So when the queen of Sheba believed in him, she said.
  12. I submit myself (as a Muslim) with Solomon (peace be upon him) to Allah, Lord of the worlds.” (Surah An-Naml: Ayat 44). And the same was the religion of the disciples of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him):
  13. And when I inspired the disciples to believe in Me and My Messenger, they said: We believe and bear witness that we are Muslims.” (Sura Al-Maidah: Ayat 111).

In this connection, if somebody expresses the doubt that the Arabic words “Islam” and “Muslims” could not have been used in different languages and countries, it would not obviously be a justified objection. For the real thing is not the Arabic words but the meaning in which they are used in Arabic. In fact, what has been stressed in the above cited verses is that the real way of life sent by God was neither Christianity, nor Mosaicism, nor Muhammadanism, but to surrender to the divine commands taught by the prophets and the scriptures, and whoever adopted this way anywhere and at any time in the world, is the follower of the same universal, eternal and everlasting true way of life. For those who have adopted this way consciously and sincerely, it is no change of the faith to believe in Jesus after Moses and in Muhammad after Jesus(peace be upon them), but a natural and logical demand following the same real way of life (Islam). Contrary to this, those people who got into the Prophets’ communities without due understanding or were born in them, and for whom nationalistic and racial and tribal prejudices were the religion, became mere Jews or Christians, and on the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) their ignorance was exposed. For by refusing to believe in the last Prophet of Allah, they not only refused to remain Muslims in the future but also proved that they were not “Muslims” even before: they had been charmed by the personality of a Prophet or Prophets, or had taken blind conformity to their forefathers for religion.
( 54 )   Those will be given their reward twice for what they patiently endured and [because] they avert evil through good, and from what We have provided them they spend.
Their credit is twofold, in that before they knew Islam, they followed the earlier Law in truth and sincerity, and when they were offered Islam, they readily recognised and accepted it, suffered in patient perseverance for its sake, and brought forth the fruits of righteousness. When, on the advent of the new prophet, they were confronted by a hard test, they proved by their conduct that they were not Christ worshipers but God worshipers: they were not charmed by Christ's personality but were followers of “Islam”. That is why when the new Prophet after Christ brought the same Islam that Christ had brought, they adopted the way of Islam under his leadership; without any hesitation, and gave up the way of those who remained stuck to Christianity.”
( 55 )   And when they hear ill speech, they turn away from it and say, "For us are our deeds, and for you are your deeds. Peace will be upon you; we seek not the ignorant."
The righteous do not encourage idle talk or foolish arguments about things sacred. If they find themselves in some company in which such things are fashionable, they leave politely. Their only rejoinder is: "We are responsible for our deeds, and you for yours; we have no ill-will against you; we wish you well, and that is why we wish you to know of the knowledge we have received; after that knowledge you cannot expect us to go back to the Ignorance which we have left."

Verses 56-60 clearly say that prophets cannot give guidance, it is Allah who gives guidance
( 56 )   Indeed, [O Muhammad], you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the [rightly] guided.
The context shows that the object of addressing this sentence to the Prophet (peace be upon him), after mentioning the affirmation of the faith by this Christians from Habash, was to put the disbelievers of Makkah to shame, as if to say. “O unfortunate people, what wretches you are! People from far off places are coming to benefit from the fountainhead of blessings that has been made available in your own city, but you are willfully depriving yourselves of it.” But the same thing has been said like this: “O Muhammad, you wish that your clansmen and your kinsfolk; and your near and dear ones should benefit from this life-giving nectar, but your willing alone cannot avail. To give guidance is in the power of Allah: He favors with it only those whom He finds inclined to accept guidance. If your kinsfolk lack this inclination, how can they be favored with this blessing?”

According to Bukhari and Muslim, this verse was sent down with regard to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) uncle, Abu Talib. When he was about to breathe his last, the Prophet (peace be upon him) tried his utmost that he should affirm faith in La ilaha illallah, so that he might die as a Muslim, but he preferred to die on the creed of Abdul Muttalib; that is why Allah said: “You cannot give guidance to whom you please.” But this is a well known method of the traditionalists and commentators that when they find that a particular verse applies to an event of the Prophet's time, they regard it as the occasion of the verse's revelation. Therefore, it cannot be necessarily concluded from this and the other similar traditions that have been related in Tirmidhi, Musnad Ahmad, etc. on the authority of Abu Hurairah, Ibn Abbas, Ibn Umar, etc. that this verse of Surah Al-Qasas was revealed on the occasion of Abu Talib’s death. This only shows that the truth of its meaning became most evident only on that occasion. Though the Prophet (peace be upon him) sincerely wished that every man should be blessed with guidance, the person whose dying on disbelief could cause him the greatest anguish and of whose guidance he was most desirous on account of personal bonds of love and affection, was Abu Talib. But when he was helpless in affording guidance even to him, it became evident that it did not lie in the power of the Prophet to give guidance to one or withhold it from another, but it lay wholly in the power of Allah. And Allah bestows this favor on whomever He wills not on account of a family or tribal relationship, but on the basis of one’s sincerity, capability and inclination of the heart.
( 57 )   And they say, "If we were to follow the guidance with you, we would be swept from our land." Have we not established for them a safe sanctuary to which are brought the fruits of all things as provision from Us? But most of them do not know.
This was the most important excuse which the unbelieving Quraish made for not accepting Islam. To understand fully we shall have to see what was the position of the Quraish historically which they feared would be affected if they accepted Islam.

The importance that the Quraish gained initially in Arabia was due to them being genealogically the descendants of the Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him), and therefore, the Arabs looked upon them as the children of the Prophets. Then, when they became the custodians of the Kaabah through Qusayy bin Kilab’s sagacity, and Makkah became their home, their importance grew, because they were the attendants of the most, sacred shrine of Arabia, and its priests too. Therefore, every Arab tribe had to have relations with them on account of the annual pilgrimage. Taking advantage of this central position the Quraish started gaining prominence as a commercial people, and to their great good fortune, the political conflict between the Eastern Roman Empire and Iran helped them to gain an important place in the international trade. Iran in those days had blocked entrance to all the trade routes between Rome, Greece, Egypt, and Syria in the north, and China, India, Indonesia and eastern Africa in the southeast. The only exception was the Red Sea route. This also was blocked when Yemen fell to Iran. After this, no way of the transit of trade goods remained except that the Arab merchants should transport merchandise of the Roman territories to the harbors of the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, and then lift trade goods of the eastern countries from these harbors and transport them to the Roman territories. This sort of arrangement made Makkah an important center of the international trade, and the Quraish were its monopolists. But the chaotic conditions prevailing in Arabia did not allow smooth transit of the trade goods unless the Quraish had pleasant relations with the tribes through whose territories the trade caravans passed. For this the religious influence of the Quraish was not enough; they had to enter into treaties with the tribes concerned, pay them dividends from their profits, and make gifts to the tribal chiefs and other influential people. Besides, they also traded in money lending on a vast scale, which had ensnared the merchants and the chiefs of almost all the neighboring tribes.

Such were the conditions when the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave his message of Tauhid. More than the prejudice of ancestral religion what caused the Quraish the greatest provocation against it was that in it they saw their own interests in jeopardy. They thought that even if polytheism and idol worship were proved wrong and Tauhid right by rational arguments and reasoning, it was ruinous for them to accept Tauhid. For as soon as they did so the whole of Arabia would rise in revolt against them. Then, they would be ousted from the custodianship of the Kaabah, and all their bonds and pacts of friendship with the polytheistic tribes would be severed, which alone guaranteed the safe transit of their trade caravans through their territories. Thus, the new faith would not only put an end to their religious influence but also to their economic prosperity, and they might even be forced by the Arabs to quit Makkah.

This presents a strange phenomenon of the lack of insight on the part of the world worshipers. The Prophet (peace be upon him) tried his best to make them believe that if they accepted his Message, the whole world would yield and submit to them. But they saw their death in it. They thought that the change of the faith would not only deprive them of their wealth and prosperity and influence but would render them so completely helpless in the land. They could not foresee the time when a few years afterwards the whole of Arabia was going to be ruled by a central government under the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself. Then even during the lifetime of their own generation Iran and Iraq and Syria and Egypt were going to fall, one after the other, to the same central authority and within a century of this utterance by them Caliphs from the clan of the Quraish itself were to rule over vast territories, from Sindh (coastal region of Pakistan) to Spain and from Caucasus to the coasts of Yemen.

This is the first reply to their excuse by Allah. It means this: It is all due to the sacredness and the central position of this Sanctuary that the merchandise of the entire world is being drawn and attracted to this barren and uncultivated valley, for your benefit and use. You should know that you are in no way responsible for giving it the central position it enjoys and for the state of security that prevails in the areas around it. 2,500 years ago a servant of Allah came to this barren valley in the bare mountains with his wife and suckling child. Here he built a small room with stone and mud, proclaimed that Allah had made it a Sanctuary, and that the people should come to visit it and go round it in worship and adoration. Now this is only due to Allah’s blessing that this Sanctuary has been the center of Arabia for the past 25 centuries. Peace reigns here even when there is chaos all around. It is held in the highest esteem by every Arab, and thousands of people are drawn to it every year for going round it in worship. It is only by virtue of this blessing that you are looked upon as the spiritual leaders of Arabia and a large part of the international trade is under your control. Now, do you think; that if you turned and revolted against that God Who has favored you with this blessing, you will prosper, but as soon as you followed His faith you would he ruined?
( 58 )   And how many a city have We destroyed that was insolent in its [way of] living, and those are their dwellings which have not been inhabited after them except briefly. And it is We who were the inheritors.
This is the second answer to their excuse. It means to imply this: The worldly wealth and prosperity of which you are so proud and whose probable danger of loss makes you stick to falsehood and turn away from the truth. This was also possessed once by Aad and Thamud and Saba and the people of Lot. Then, did it save them from destruction? After all, a high standard of living is not the only aim in life that man should endeavor to pursue it regardless of every consideration for truth and falsehood, and refuse to accept the right way only because there was a risk of losing it if one did so. Do you have any guarantee that if you persisted in the errors and evils that ruined the prosperous peoples of the past, you would remain safe and never meet the doom that they met?
( 59 )   And never would your Lord have destroyed the cities until He had sent to their mother a messenger reciting to them Our verses. And We would not destroy the cities except while their people were wrongdoers.
This is the third answer to their excuse. It means: The nations which were destroyed before you had become wicked. To warn them Allah sent His messengers, but when they took no notice of their warnings and persisted in their evil ways, they were destroyed. The same is the case with you now. You have also become wicked, and a Messenger has come to you to warn you. Now if you persist in your disbelief and denial, you will not be safeguarding your prosperity and comforts of life but endangering them. The destruction that you are afraid of will overtake you not because of believing but on account of refusal to believe.
( 60 )   And whatever thing you [people] have been given - it is [only for] the enjoyment of worldly life and its adornment. And what is with Allah is better and more lasting; so will you not use reason?
The good things of this life have their uses and serve their convenience. But they are fleeting and their value is infinitely lower than that of Truth and Justice and Spiritual Well-being, the gifts which come as it were from Allah. No wise soul will be absorbed in the one and neglect the other, or will hesitate for a moment if it comes to be a choice between them.

Rukhu 7 [Verses 61-75]

Verses 61-70: A Day will come when Allah will ask, where are the ones you called My partners? Those waiting for punishment will point them out, but the accused will say we did not compel them to obey; they followed their own desires and inclinations.  They will try to invoke their gods but they will not respond, and then they will see the punishment and wished they had followed guidance.  Allah will ask them how they responded to the messengers but all their previous arguments will seem obscure and they will not be able to talk with one another.  However, those who repented, believed, and acted righteously will be successful.  Allah creates and chooses, you do not choose for yourselves. 

Glory to Allah, He is far above the partners ascribed to Him.  And Allah knows what their hearts conceal and what they reveal.  He is Allah; there is no deity except Him.  All praise in this life and in the Hereafter belongs to Him.  His is the Judgement and everyone will be brought back to Him.
( 61 )   Then is he whom We have promised a good promise which he will obtain like he for whom We provided enjoyment of worldly life [but] then he is, on the Day of Resurrection, among those presented [for punishment in Hell]?
This is the fourth answer to their excuse. To understand it fully one should bear in mind two things:
  • First, the present life which is no more than a few years for anyone is only the temporary phase of a journey. The real life which will be everlasting is yet to come. In this life man may amass as much provision as he may please and live the few years at his disposal as comfortably as he can, it will in any case come to an end, and man will depart from the world empty handed. No sensible person will like to make the bad bargain of suffering the everlasting distress and affliction in the Hereafter in exchange for the pleasures and comforts of his brief sojourn in the world. As against this, he would rather prefer to face a few years of hardships here and earn the goodness that may earn him everlasting bliss and comfort in the eternal life of the next world.
  • Secondly, Allah’s religion does not demand that man should totally refrain from seeking and enjoying the good things of life and discard its adornments in any case. Its only demand is that he should prefer the Hereafter to the world, for the world is perishable and the Hereafter everlasting; and the pleasures of the world are inferior and of the Hereafter superior. Therefore, man must try to attain those provisions and adornments of the world that may enable him to fare well in the everlasting life of the next world, or at least protect him from the eternal loss there. But in case there is a question of a comparison between the two, and the success of the world and of the Hereafter oppose and contradict each other, the faith demands, and this is the demand of man’s good sense too, that he should sacrifice the world to the Hereafter, and should never adopt the way of only seeking the transitory provisions and adornments of this world, which inevitably lead to his ruin in the Hereafter forever.
Keeping these two things in view let us see what Allah says to the disbelievers of Makkah in the foregoing sentences. He does not tell them to wind up their business, stop their trade and follow His Prophets and become mendicants. What He says is that the worldly wealth of which they are so enamored, is very meager and they can utilize it only for a few days in this worldly life. Contrary to this, that which is with Allah is much better both in quality and in quantity and is also everlasting. Therefore, they would be foolish if for the sake of benefiting by the limited blessings of this transitory life, they adopted the way whose evil results they will have to suffer in the form of everlasting loss in the next world. They should judge for themselves as to who is successful: He who exerts himself in the service of his Lord and then is blessed with His favors for ever, or he who will be produced as a culprit in His court, only after having had an opportunity of enjoying unlawful wealth for a few days in the world.
( 62 )   And [warn of] the Day He will call them and say, "Where are My 'partners' which you used to claim?"
This discourse is in continuation of the fourth answer, and is linked with the last sentence of the preceding verse. It means to imply this: Those who persist in the evil of shirk and idol worship and refuse to believe in the Prophet only for the sake of their worldly interests, will meet with such and such evil consequences in the eternal life of the Hereafter. They should, therefore, carefully judge for themselves whether it would be a good bargain if they were to be doomed to such an end, after they had enjoyed fully the provisions and adornments of the short worldly life, even if no calamity befell them in the world.
( 63 )   Those upon whom the word will have come into effect will say, "Our Lord, these are the ones we led to error. We led them to error just as we were in error. We declare our disassociation [from them] to You. They did not use to worship us."
This verse is important to understand: This implies those satans from among jinns and men, who had been set up as associates of God in the world, whose teachings had been followed in preference to divine commandments, and dependence on whom had made the people give up the right way and adopt the wrong ways of life. Such persons may not have been called gods and lords as such, but since they were worshiped and obeyed as one should worship and obey only God, they were inevitably made partners in Godhead.

They would say “We did not lead them astray forcibly. We neither deprived them of their powers of seeing and hearing nor of their powers of thinking, nor there ever arose a situation when they wanted to follow the right way but we might have forcibly pulled them to the wrong way. But just as we ourselves had gone astray of our own free will, so they also of their own free will accepted the wrong way when we presented it before them. Therefore, we are not responsible for what they did: we are responsible for our acts and they are responsible for theirs.”

There is a subtle point to be noted here. Allah, in fact, will question those who had set up others as associates with Him, but before they make an answer, those who had been set up as associates will speak up. The reason is: When the common polytheists will be questioned thus, their leaders and guides will feel that their doomsday had come, for their followers will certainly blame them for their deviation. Therefore, even before the followers say something in response, the leaders will forestall them and start pleading their innocence.

The end of the verse means: “They did not serve us but served their own selves alone.”
( 64 )   And it will be said, "Invoke your 'partners' " and they will invoke them; but they will not respond to them, and they will see the punishment. If only they had followed guidance!
That is, “Invoke them for help. In the world you had relied on them and rejected Our commandments. So invoke them to come to your rescue here also and save you from the punishment.”
( 65 )   And [mention] the Day He will call them and say, "What did you answer the messengers?"
Now we come to the examination of those who rejected or persecuted Allah's Messengers on the earth. It may be the same men as those mentioned in 62-64 above, but this is a different count in the charge.
( 66 )   But the information will be unapparent to them that Day, so they will not [be able to] ask one another.
In their utter confusion and despair their minds will be blank. The past will seem to them unreal, and the present unintelligible, and they will not even be able to consult each other, as every one's state will be the same.
( 67 )   But as for one who had repented, believed, and done righteousness, it is promised by Allah that he will be among the successful.
( 68 )   And your Lord creates what He wills and chooses; not for them was the choice. Exalted is Allah and high above what they associate with Him.
This, in fact, is a refutation of shirk. Allah objects to the setting up of countless gods from among His creatures by the mushriks / nonbelievers and assigning to them from themselves of attributes and ranks and offices, and says: “We Ourselves bless with whatever attributes, capabilities and powers whomever We like from among the men, angels, jinns and other servants whom We have created, and employ whomever We will for whatever service We will. But, how and where from have the mushriks gotten the authority that they should make whomever they like from among My servants remover of hardships, bestower of treasures and answerer of prayers? That they should make someone the lord of rain, another the giver of jobs and children, still another bestower of health and ill-health? That they should look upon whomever they please as the ruler of a part of My Kingdom and assign to him whichever of My powers they like? Whether it is an angel or a jinn, or a prophet, or saint, or anybody else, he has been created by Us. Whatever excellence he has, have been granted by Us, and whatever service We willed to take from him, We have taken. Therefore, the selection of someone for a particular service does not mean that he should be raised from the position of a servant to godhead and be worshiped instead of Allahd, invoked for help, prayed to for fulfillment of needs, taken as maker or destroyer of destinies and possessor of divine attributes and powers.
( 69 )   And your Lord knows what their breasts conceal and what they declare.
The object for which this thing has been said in this context is: A person can make a claim before the people in this world that he is fully satisfied on rational grounds that the deviation he has adopted is sound and right. And the arguments that are given against it are not convincing; that he has adopted the deviation not due to any evil motive but with the sincerest and purest intentions; that he has never been confronted by anything that might have proved him to be in the wrong. But he cannot advance such an argument before Allah, for Allah is not only aware of the open, but also of the hidden secrets of the mind and heart. He knows directly what kind of knowledge and feelings and sentiments and desires and intentions and conscience a certain person has. He is aware of the occasions and the means and the ways through which a person was warned, through which the truth reached him, through which falsehood was proved to be false to him, and also the real motives for which he preferred his deviation to the right way.
( 70 )   And He is Allah; there is no deity except Him. To Him is [due all] praise in the first [life] and the Hereafter. And His is the [final] decision, and to Him you will be returned.
Verses 71 – 75 Who can create other than Allah? Oh Prophet Muhammad, ask them what would happen if God made the night perpetual.  Who other than God could bring light? If God were to make the day perpetual who other than God could bring night? Out of His Mercy God made the night for rest and the day a time in which to seek bounty.  The Day of Judgement will come, and God will ask about the whereabouts of the partners you ascribed to Him.  A witness from every nation will be asked to produce proof of the false deities.  And then they will know that the truth belongs to God and the gods they invented have forsaken them. 
( 71 )   Say, "Have you considered: if Allah should make for you the night continuous until the Day of Resurrection, what deity other than Allah could bring you light? Then will you not hear?"
In the physical world the Night and the Day are both blessings, the one for rest and the other for work, and the alternation itself is one of the mercies of Allah, and none but He can give us these blessings. If we were perpetually resting, or screened from the light, our faculties would be blunted and we should be worse than dead. If we were perpetually working, we should be tired, and we should also be dead in another way. This daily miracle keeps us alive and prepares us, in this our probationary life, for our final destiny in the Hereafter. In the same way our spiritual striving requires periodical alternations of rest in the form of attention to our temporal concerns: hence the justification of a good and pure life on the plane of this earth also. Also, in the world's history, there are periods when a living messenger stimulates intense spiritual activity, and periods when it is comparatively quiescent (the so-called Dark Ages); but both are examples of the working of Allah's Plan of wisdom and mercy. But this applies only up to the Day of Judgment. After that we shall be on another plane altogether.

The true meaning of this verse can be understood by those people where for six months there is no night and people have to live in daylight, which is very inconvenient.
( 72 )   Say, "Have you considered: if Allah should make for you the day continuous until the Day of Resurrection, what deity other than Allah could bring you a night in which you may rest? Then will you not see?"
In verse 71 was mentioned a "perpetual Night," for which the faculty of "hearkening" was appropriate, as all light was shut out. In this verse a perpetual Day is mentioned, for which the faculty of "seeing" is appropriate. Through many doors can the higher knowledge enter our souls. Shall we not use each of them as the occasion demands?
( 73 )   And out of His mercy He made for you the night and the day that you may rest therein and [by day] seek from His bounty and [that] perhaps you will be grateful.( 74 )   And [warn of] the Day He will call them and say, "Where are my 'partners' which you used to claim?"
Reference verse 62 above. The reminiscence of the words closes and rounds off the argument of this Section.
( 75 )   And We will extract from every nation a witness and say, "Produce your proof," and they will know that the truth belongs to Allah, and lost from them is that which they used to invent.
“A witness”: the prophet who had warned that community, or a rightly guided person from among the followers of the prophets, who had performed the duty of preaching the truth in the community, or a means through which the message of the truth had reached the community.

The Prophet from each People or Nation will bear testimony that he preached the true gospel of Unity, and the People who rejected him will be asked to show the Proof or authority on which they rejected him.

“Present a cogent argument in your defense so that you are pardoned. You should either prove that the shirk and the denial of the Hereafter and prophet hood in which you persisted were the correct creed. And you had adopted it on rational grounds. Or, if you cannot do that, you should at least prove that no arrangement had been made by God to warn you of this error and guide you to the right path.”

Rukhu 8 [Verses 76-82]

Verses 76 – 82 explain the story of Qārūn, Hebrew Qōraḥ (Korah). It is being said that Qārūn was one of Moses’ people but he rebelled against them.  Allah gave him so many treasures that even the keys to open the containers the treasures were kept in would have been heavy for strong men to carry.  The people said to him do not gloat because Allah does not like those people who gloat.  Use what Allah has given you to attain a good abode in the Hereafter.  Be good to others as Allah has been good to you, and do not cause mischief; Allah does not love the mischief makers.  But Qārūn replied all that I have is only because of my own knowledge and ability.  Did he not understand that God has destroyed many people before him, many that were mightier in strength and richer in wealth? But criminals are not always called immediately to account.

One day he came out of his house in all his worldly adornment.  Some people wished they had what he had while others said the reward from Allah is better but we can only attain it with patience and gratitude.  Allah caused the earth to swallow him and his house.   There was nobody to help him and he was unable to defend himself.  Then the same people who had envied Qārūn changed their minds.  They said, we had forgotten that it is Allah who enlarges provision and it is Allah that can take it away.  If it was not for Allah’s graciousness He could have caused the earth to swallow us all.  Those who deny the truth will never prosper.
( 76 )   Indeed, Qārūn was from the people of Moses, but he tyrannized them. And We gave him of treasures whose keys would burden a band of strong men; thereupon his people said to him, "Do not exult. Indeed, Allah does not like the exultant.
This fact also is being related in continuation of the answer to the excuse which has been the theme of the discourse from (verse 57) onward. In this regard, one should bear in mind the fact that the people who feared that the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) message would affect the overall national interests adversely were, in fact, the big money owners, money lenders, and capitalists of Makkah, who by virtue of their international trade and money lending business had become the Korahs of their time. These were the people who thought that the real truth was to earn and amass maximum wealth. Anything that seemed to vitiate this object was an untruth which could not be accepted in any case. On the other hand, there were the common people who looked with longing eyes at these magnates and earnestly desired that they should also attain the same heights as those people had attained. In an atmosphere charged with the love of money, as it was, people considered it to be a weighty argument that if the invitation of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) towards Tauhid and the Hereafter and the moral code was accepted, it would spell ruin for the Quraish not only commercially but economically too.

According to the account of descent given in Exodus, the fathers of the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) and Korah were real brothers. At another place in the Qur'an it has been stated that this man had joined with Pharaoh in spite of being an Israelite and become one of his favorites; so much so that one of the two ring leaders of opposition to Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) after Pharaoh was this same Korah: “We sent Moses to Pharaoh and Haman and Korah with Our signs and a clear authority of appointment, but they said: He is a sorcerer, a liar.” (Surah Al-Mumin: Ayats 23-24).

From this it follows that Korah had rebelled against his own people and become a supporter of the hostile forces which were bent upon wiping out the Israelites. On account of this rebellion against his own people he had attained a high place with Pharaoh. The two persons, besides Pharaoh, to whom the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) had been sent were Pharaoh’s minister Haman, and this Israelite capitalist, Korah. All other chiefs and couriers were of inferior status, who were not worth mentioning. The same position of Korah has been alluded to in (Surah Al-Ankabut: Ayat 39).

In the story related of him in the Bible, there is no mention of this man’s wealth. But according to the Jewish traditions, he possessed immense wealth, so much so that three hundred mules were required to carry the keys of his treasures. Though greatly exaggerated, this statement shows that even according to the Israelite traditions, Korah was a very wealthy man of his time.
( 77 )   But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like the corrupter."
That is, 'spend your wealth in charity and good works. It is Allah Who has given it to you, and you should spend it in Allah's cause. Nor should you forget the legitimate needs of this life, as misers do, and most people become misers who think too exclusively of their wealth'. If wealth is not used properly, there are three evils that follow: (1) its possessor may be a miser and forget all claims due to himself and those about him; (2) he may forget the higher needs of the poor and needy, or the good causes which require support; and (3) he may even misspend on occasions and cause a great deal of harm and mischief. Apparently Qārūn had all three vices.
( 78 )   He said, "I was only given it because of knowledge I have." Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him of generations those who were greater than him in power and greater in accumulation [of wealth]? But the criminals, about their sins, will not be asked.
The words of the text can have two meanings: (1) “Whatever I have obtained is by virtue of my own ability. It is not a bounty which somebody else might have given me as a favor without my deserving it as a right, and now I may have to render thanks for it by giving a portion of it to those who have not been given anything, as a favor, or give some of it in charity so that the bounty is not withdrawn from me.” (2) “I think God has given me this wealth in view of my qualities and excellences. Had I not been a likable person, He would not have given me all this. That He has bestowed on me all kinds of blessings is a proof that I am His favorite and he approves of the way of life that I am following.”

That is, “Did this person who was proud of being so knowledgeable and wise and well informed and capable never know that people with greater wealth and grandeur and power and might than him had lived before him in the world, and Allah at last, had annihilated them completely? If capability and skill and competence are the only factors conducive to worldly progress, then why didn’t these virtues avail them when they were destroyed? And if the worldly progress of a person is a sure proof that Allah is pleased with him and approves of his deeds and qualities, then why were those people doomed to destruction at all?”

The criminals have always been claiming to be the best people, who are free from every evil, but their punishment is not dependent on their own confessions. Whenever they are seized; they are not seized on the basis of their own confessions of sins, etc.
( 79 )   So he came out before his people in his adornment. Those who desired the worldly life said, "Oh, would that we had like what was given to Qarun. Indeed, he is one of great fortune."
When he was in the hey-day of his glory, worldly people envied him and thought how happy they would be if they were in his place. Not so the people of wisdom and discernment. They knew a more precious and lasting wealth, which is described in the next verse.
( 80 )   But those who had been given knowledge said, "Woe to you! The reward of Allah is better for he who believes and does righteousness. And none are granted it except the patient."
That is, “This kind of character and the way of thinking and the bounty of Allah’s reward falls to the lot of only those who stick firmly and steadfastly and patiently to the lawful ways in life, whether by so doing they are able to earn only a bare living, or are enabled to become millionaires, but are never inclined to follow the unlawful ways even if they are promised all the benefits and wealth of the world.

In this verse, “Allah’s reward” means the bounteous provision that is gained by man in the world and the Hereafter as a result of labor and toil undertaken within the bounds set by Allah; and “patience” means to have control over one’s emotions and desires, to stick to honesty and righteousness as against greed and lust, to bear the losses that one may have to incur on account of the truth and justice, to spurn the gains that might accrue from employing unlawful devices, to remain content and satisfied with the lawful earning even if it is meager and insufficient, to eschew feelings of envy and jealousy at the splendor of the corrupt people and avoid, even casting a glance at it, and to be satisfied with the thought that for an honest man the colorless purity that Allah has granted him by His grace is better than the lustrous filth of evil and corruption.

As for “fortune”, it implies Allah’s reward as well as the pure mentality by virtue of which a believing and righteous person finds it easier to suffer hunger and starvation than become a multi millionaire by adopting dishonest and corrupt ways and means.”
( 81 )   And We caused the earth to swallow him and his home. And there was for him no company to aid him other than Allah, nor was he of those who [could] defend themselves.
Besides the obvious moral in the literal interpretation of the story, that material wealth is fleeting and may be a temptation and a cause of fall, there are some metaphorical implications that occur to me. (1) Material wealth has no value in itself, but only a relative and local value. (2) In body he was with Israel in the wilderness, but his heart was in Egypt with its fertility and its slavery. Such is the case of many hypocrites, who like to be seen in righteous company but whose thoughts, longings, and doing are inconsistent with such company. (3) There is no good in this life but comes from Allah. To think otherwise is to set up a false god besides Allah, Our own merits are so small that they should never be the object of our idolatry. (4) If Qārūn on account of his wealth was setting himself up in rivalry with Moses and Aaron, he was blind to the fact that spiritual knowledge is far above any little cleverness in worldly affairs. Mob-leaders have no position before spiritual guides.
( 82 )   And those who had wished for his position the previous day began to say, "Oh, how Allah extends provision to whom He wills of His servants and restricts it! If not that Allah had conferred favor on us, He would have caused it to swallow us. Oh, how the disbelievers do not succeed!"
That is “The extension or the restriction of provisions is always according to the will of Allah, and Allah’s will is determined by His own reasons and considerations. His favoring somebody with generous provisions does not necessarily mean that Allah is well pleased with him and is honoring him with gifts. Mostly it so happens that a person is under Allah’s wrath, but He goes on favoring him with more and more wealth till, at last, the same wealth causes Allah’s torment to descend on him. Contrary to this, if somebody is being given restricted provisions, it does not necessarily mean that Allah is displeased with him and is punishing him. Mostly the righteous live in hardship although they are Allah’s favorites, and in many cases the same hardship becomes a cause of Allah’s mercy for them. Consequently, a person who does not understand this reality looks with envious eyes at the prosperity of those who actually deserve Allah’s wrath.”

That is, “We had the misconception, that worldly prosperity and wealth by themselves constituted real success. Therefore, we thought that Korah was highly successful, but now we have come to know that real success is an entirely different thing, and it is never attained by the disbelievers.”

This moral of the story of Korah has been mentioned only in the Quran. The Bible and the Talmud are without it. However, according to the details given in these books, when the Israelites left Egypt, Korah also accompanied them along with his men, and then conspired against the Prophets Moses and Aaron (peace be upon them) and was joined in this by 250 of his followers. At last, Allah’s wrath descended on him, and the earth opened up and swallowed him and his followers together with their possessions.”

Rukhu 9 [Verses 83-88]

Verses 83-88 are reassuring for those who seek neither glory nor spread corruption.  The best outcome is for those who are mindful of Allah.  Those who come to Allah on the Day of Judgment with good deeds will be rewarded with what is better.  Those who come with bad deeds will be recompensed only to the extent of their bad deeds.  Prophet Muhammad is reassured that he will be brought to the best destination.  Allah knows that Prophet Muhammad brought guidance to those who were in manifest error.  Prophet Muhammad did not expect the Quran to be revealed but it is a mercy.  Do not help the disbelievers by giving them concessions in their religion and do not let any of them try to turn you away from what has been revealed to you.  Call the people to Allah and never become one of those who ascribe partners to Him.  Do not call out to any other deity besides Him; none has the right to be worshipped except Allah. Everything will be destroyed except Him.  The Judgment belongs to God and you will be returned to Him. 
( 83 )   That home of the Hereafter We assign to those who do not desire exaltation upon the earth or corruption. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous.
High-handedness or arrogance, as opposed to submission to the Will of Allah, Islam. Mischief, as opposed to doing good, bringing forth fruits of righteousness. It is the righteous who will win in the end, who are “God fearing”: those who refrain from His disobedience.
( 84 )   Whoever comes [on the Day of Judgement] with a good deed will have better than it; and whoever comes with an evil deed - then those who did evil deeds will not be recompensed except [as much as] what they used to do.
A good deed has its sure reward, and that reward will be better than the merits of the doer. An evil deed may be forgiven by repentance, but in any case will not be punished with a severer penalty than justice demands.
( 85 )  (O Prophet), surely He Who has ordained the Qur'an on you will bring you to the best end. Say to them: "My Lord knows best who has brought true guidance and who is in clear error."
That is, “He has placed on you the responsibility of conveying the Quran and teaching it to the people, and reforming the world according to the guidance contained in it.”

As for the best end,  context requires that it should be looked upon as a promise to bestow the highest glory and eminence on the Prophet (peace be upon him) not only in the Hereafter, but in this world also. In the saying of the disbelievers of Makkah, which has been the theme of the discourse from (verse 57) until now, they had said, “O Muhammad (peace be upon him), do you want us also to be doomed with you? If we join you and adopt this faith, it will become hard for us to live in Arabia.” In response to this, Allah tells His Prophet: “O Muhammad, that God Who has placed the burden of conveying the message of the Quran on you, will not destroy you: rather He will exalt you to the rank which these people cannot even imagine today.” And, in fact, in a few years after this, even in this world, Allah granted the Prophet (peace be upon him) complete authority over the whole of Arabia, and there was no power to resist him, and no religion to stand its ground. There had been no precedent in the history of Arabia that the whole peninsula might have come under the sway of one man so completely that no opponent might be there to challenge him and no soul to dare disobey his orders. Then it was not only a political domination but religious too, for the whole population had been won over to Islam.
( 86 )   And you were not expecting that the Book would be conveyed to you, but [it is] a mercy from your Lord. So do not be an assistant to the disbelievers.
This thing is being presented as a proof of the Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) prophet hood. Just as the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was unaware that he was going to be appointed a Prophet, and sent on a grand mission, when he had never even expected or wished for such a thing, but had been suddenly called upon while on a journey and made a Prophet and assigned a mission which had no relevance with his previous life. So was precisely the case with the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The people of Makkah knew well what kind of life he was leading till a day when he came down from the cave of Hira with the message of prophet hood.

There was no one among his most intimate friends and relations and neighbors, who could say that he had already been preparing to become a Prophet. No one had heard him employing the kind of diction and words and terms, which the people started hearing from him in the shape of the Quran. He had never stood up for preaching, had never given a message or started a movement, and none of his activities had ever indicated that he was anxious to undertake a program for the solution of the social problems or for religious or moral reformation. Until the day before this revolutionary moment, he was leading the life of a trader, who earns his living by fair and lawful means. Who lives a happy life with his family, receives his guests, helps the poor and treats his relatives well, and at times retires from society into seclusion for the sake of worship.

For such a person it would be a great change if he started making, all of a sudden, world moving orations, preaching a revolutionary message, producing a sublime literature and propounding an enduring philosophy of life and a profound system of thought and morality and social life. For psychologically too, such a change is not possible through any kind of preparation and conscious effort. Any such effort and preparation, in any case, has to pass through certain evolutionary stages, which cannot remain hidden from the people among whom a person is passing his life. Had the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) life passed through any such stages of gradual development, hundreds of the people in Makkah would have come out to say, “Did we not tell you beforehand that this man would one day make a tall claim?” But history bears evidence that no one in Makkah ever made such an objection although the disbelievers of Makkah raised all sorts of other objections against the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Then another thing: the Prophet (peace be upon him) never wished for or expected or awaited his appointment to prophet hood, but he came across this experience all of a sudden quite unexpectedly. This is supported by the event that has been reported in the traditions in connection with the beginning of revelation. After his first meeting with the Angel Gabriel and the revelation of the initial verses of Surah Al-Alaq he rushes back home from Hira trembling with fear, and says to his wife, “Cover me with a cloak! Cover me with a cloak!” After a while when he recovers a little from the state of anxiety, he relates what he had experienced to his wife and says, “I feel there is danger to my life!” She responds, “No, never! Allah will never bring you to grief: you render the rights of your kindred, you support the indigent, help the poor, treat your guests well, and are ever ready to contribute to a good cause.” Then she takes him to Waraqa bin Naufal, who was her cousin and a righteous and knowledgeable person from among the people of the Book. Hearing from him what had happened, Waraqa says without any hesitation, “The one who came to you is the same Namus (the specially appointed divine messenger), who used to come to Moses (peace be upon him). I wish I were a young man and could live till the time when your people will expel you.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) asks, “Will my people expel me?” He replies, “Yes; no one has passed before, who brought same thing that you have brought, and his people did not turn hostile to him.”

This whole event depicts the state which a simple man will naturally undergo when he is confronted unexpectedly by a most extraordinary experience all of a sudden. If the Prophet (peace be upon him) had already been anxious to become a prophet and thinking that a man like him ought to be a prophet, and had been meditating and straining his mind and awaiting the arrival of an angel with a message, he would have been filled with delight at the experience in the cave, and descending from the mountain would have gone straight before his people and proclaimed Prophethood. But, quite to the contrary, he is confounded at what he had seen, reaches home trembling and lies in bed fully covered up. When he is composed a little, he tells his wife quietly what had happened in the solitude of the cave, and expresses feelings of anxiety and insecurity. How different is this state from the state of a candidate for prophet hood! Then, who can be better aware of the husband’s life, his ambitions and thoughts, than the wife? If she had perceived before-hand that the husband was a candidate for prophet hood and had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the angel, her reply would have been different from what Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) said. She would have answered, “Dear husband! Why are you so agitated? You have got what you have been longing for long. Now, flourish as a saint: I too shall get ready for collecting gifts and offerings.” But on the basis of what she had seen of her husband during her 15 years long companionship, she did not take more than a moment to understand that Satan could not have come to a righteous and selfless man like him, nor could Allah have put him to a severe test. Therefore, whatever he had seen was the very truth and reality.

The same is also true in the case of Waraqa bin Naufal. He was not an outsider, but a member of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) own clan and a brother in law by a close relationship. Then being a knowledgeable Christian he could discriminate the prophethood and book and revelation from fabrication and fraud. Being the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) senior by many years his whole life since childhood had been spent before him. Therefore, when he heard what the Prophet (peace be upon him) had to say about his experience in the cave, he at once said that it was most surely the same Angel who used to bring divine messages to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him). For in this case also precisely the same thing had happened as in the case of the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him). He also was a pure and righteous person, simple in thought and without any preconceived notions about prophethood, he also had experienced the same thing unexpectedly in full consciousness. Therefore, without the least hesitation, he was led to the firm conclusion that there was no self deception or satanic insinuation involved, but whatever the honest man had seen, without any will or desire on his own part, was in fact, an experience of the reality.

This is such a clear proof of the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) prophethood that a realistic person can hardly deny it. That is why it has been presented as a proof of prophethood at several places in the Quran. For example, in Surah Yunus it has been said: “O Prophet, say to them: Had Allah willed so, I would never have recited this Quran to you, nor would He have told you anything (about its existence). I have already lived a lifetime among you before its revelation. Do you not use common sense?” (Ayat 16). And in Surah Ash-Shura it has been said: “O Prophet, you did not know at all what was the Book and what was the faith but We made that revelation a light by which We show the way to any of Our servants We will.” (42: Ayat 52).

“When Allah has granted you this blessing without your asking for it, you are under an obligation to exercise all your energies and spend all your efforts in upholding it conveying it to others and promoting its cause. Any slackness in this regard would mean that you helped the disbelievers. This does not mean that, God forbid, there was any chance of such slackness on the part of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Allah, in fact, is exhorting the Prophet (peace be upon him), as if to say, you should go on doing your mission in spite of the disbelievers’ opposition and their uproar, and do not at all mind what fears the enemies of the truth express regarding your message's being harmful to their national interests.”
( 87 )   And never let them avert you from the verses of Allah after they have been revealed to you. And invite [people] to your Lord. And never be of those who associate others with Allah.
This sums up the lesson of the whole Surah. The only Eternal Reality is Allah. The whole phenomenal world is subject to flux and change and will pass away, but He will endure for ever.
( 88 )   And do not invoke with Allah another deity. There is no deity except Him. Everything will be destroyed except His Face. His is the judgment, and to Him you will be returned.
Allah's greatness and infinitude are such that He can create and cherish not only a whole mass, but each individual soul, and He can follow its history and doings until the final Judgment. This shows not only Allah's glory and Omniscience and Omnipotence: it also shows the value of each individual soul in His eyes, and lifts individual responsibility right up into relations with Him.

Here we come to the end of second part of the Surah Al Qasas. In nutshell, besides giving detailed story about Prophet Moses, its main theme is the punishment that comes to those who are arrogant and spread corruption.  This chapter and the two preceding it go together to tell the complete story of Prophet Moses.  Polytheism is condemned, and Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, is reminded that he cannot make the people believe but nevertheless he must remain steadfast in his mission.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrah Al-Qaṣaṣ with English subtitles:

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

Photo | References1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. 
  • In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites. 
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