Monday 30 September 2019

Surah Maryam - Mary: 19th Chapter of Quran - Exegesis Part II

Sürah Maryam " مريم " is the 19th sūrah of the Qur'an. It has 98 verses (āyāt), 6 ruku and is part of the 16th Juz of the Holy Quran. A "Meccan sūrah" that is named after Mary, Mother of Prophet Eesa (Jesus, peace be upon him), the mention of which appears in verse 16. It was revealed before the first ever Muslim migration to Habash, for as per authentic Traditions that Hadrat Ja'afar recited verses 1-40 of this sūrah in the court of Negus when the latter called the migrants to his court.

As already mentioned in the Overview of this surah, the exegesis of the surah has been divided into three parts as per the theme and the subject matter discussed therein as under:
  • Part I  : Ruku 1-2 [Verses 1-40] - Mention of Prophets Zechariah, John and Jesus
  • Part II : Ruku 3-4 [Verses 41-65] Mention of Prophets Abraham, Moses, Ishmael and Idris
  • Part III: Ruku 5-6 [Verses 66-98] The concluding passages
Let us now read the translation and exegesis / tafseer in English of the Part II of the Surah 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"

Ruku / Section 3 [ 41-50 ]
Section 4 of the surah is dedicated to the mention of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham, peace be upon him) who gently reminds his father not to worship idols that cannot hear, see, or benefit themselves.  Threatened by physical violence and expelled from home, Abraham, vows to pray for his father. Leaving home with continued prayers for his father and others, Abraham is later gifted with two prophets by God - Isaac and Jacob.
( 41 )   And mention in the Book [the story of] Abraham. Indeed, he was a man of truth and a prophet.
From here the address is directed towards the people of Makkah, who had forced their own near and dear relatives to emigrate from their homes, just as Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) had been exiled by his own father and brethren. The story of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) has been selected for this purpose because the Quraish professed to accept him as their religious leader and were proud of being his descendants.
( 42 )   [Mention] when he said to his father, "O my father, why do you worship that which does not hear and does not see and will not benefit you at all?
The reference to Abraham here is in relation to his tender solicitude for his father, who had not received the light of Unity, and to whom Abraham wanted to be a guide and friend.

يٰۤـاَبَتِ اِنِّىۡ قَدۡ جَآءَنِىۡ مِنَ الۡعِلۡمِ مَا لَمۡ يَاۡتِكَ فَاتَّبِعۡنِىۡۤ اَهۡدِكَ صِرَاطًا سَوِيًّا‏ 
( 43 )   O my father, indeed there has come to me of knowledge that which has not come to you, so follow me; I will guide you to an even path.
Some are more receptive of Light than others. It is their duty and privilege to guide and point to the right Way.

Sawiyan-right, smooth, even; complete, perfect; hence the derived meaning: in xix. 10, in full possession of all the physical senses; in that context, 'not dumb': in xix. 17, when the angel appears in the form of a man, 'completely like' a man, a man 'in all respects.'
( 44 )   O my father, do not worship Satan. Indeed Satan has ever been, to the Most Merciful, disobedient.
It should be noted that the literal translation of the Arabic text is: “Do not worship Satan”, though Abraham’s father and the other people did not worship Satan in the same sense as they worshiped idols. But as they followed and obeyed Satan, he accused them of worshiping Satan. Thus it is clear that if somebody follows and obeys Satan, he virtually worships him. For Satan has never been a deity in the sense that people have made him an object of worship; nay, they have always been cursing him and following him at the same time.

This thing has been asserted to impress on the disbelievers that the satans were not entitled to their submission and worship, for they had no share at all in the creation of the heavens and the earth, nay, they themselves were the creation of Allah: therefore Allah alone was worthy of worship.
( 45 )   O my father, indeed I fear that there will touch you a punishment from the Most Merciful so you would be to Satan a companion [in Hellfire]."
To entertain a feeling of friendliness, instead of aversion, to Evil, is in itself a degradation of our nature, a Penalty which Allah imposes on our deliberate rejection of the Truth. And the friendliness to Evil also implies the sharing of the outlawry of Evil.
( 46 )   [His father] said, "Have you no desire for my gods, O Abraham? If you do not desist, I will surely stone you, so avoid me a prolonged time."
Note the gentle persuasive tone of Abraham in his speeches in xix. 42-45 (for we may suppose those sentences to sum up a long course of arguments) and in xix. 47-48, contrasted with the brusque and repellent tone of the father's reply in this verse. The one was the outcome of the true Light which had come to Abraham from Allah, as the other was the outcome of Pagan arrogance and the worship of brute force. The spiritual lesson from this episode of Abraham's life may be stated in four propositions: (1) the pious son is dutiful to his father and wishes him well in all things, material and spiritual, (2) if the father refuses Allah's Light, the son will do his utmost to bring such Light to the father; (3) having received the Light, the son will never renounce that Light, even if he has to forfeit his father's love and renounce his home; (4) even if the father repels him and turns him out, his answer will be a soft answer, full of love and forgiveness on the one hand, but firmness on behalf of Truth on the other.
( 47 )   [Abraham] said, "Peace will be upon you. I will ask forgiveness for you of my Lord. Indeed, He is ever gracious to me.
The reference is to what Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) said when he broke off all connections with his father:
(1) “Peace be upon you. I will pray to my Lord to forgive you: for He is very kind to me”. (Surah Maryam, Ayat 47).
(2) “And forgive my father: indeed he is of those who have gone astray. And disgrace me not on the Day, when mankind shall be brought back to life; when neither riches nor children shall avail anyone, and none shall obtain salvation except the one who comes before his Lord with a sound and pure heart”. (Ash-Shuara Ayats 86-89).
(3) “I will pray for your forgiveness, but I have no power to rescue you from Allah”. (Al-Mumtahina Ayat 4).
In the first place it should be noted that even the wording and the tone of the prayer for his father were very guarded, but when Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) realized that the person for whom he was praying was an open rebel against Allah and a bitter enemy of His Way, he refrained himself from saying even such a guarded prayer for him and declared in clear words that he would have nothing to do with him in future, even though the rebel was his father who had brought him up with love and care.
( 48 )   And I will leave you and those you invoke other than Allah and will invoke my Lord. I expect that I will not be in invocation to my Lord unhappy."
Abraham left his father and the home of his fathers (Ur of the Chaldees) and never returned. He left because he was turned out, and because it was not possible for him to make any compromise with what was false in religion. In return for abuse, he spoke gentle words. And he expressed his fervent hope that at least he (Abraham) would have Allah's blessing in reply to his prayers. Here was a prefigurement of another Hijrat many centuries later! In both cases the prayer was abundantly fulfilled.
( 49 )   So when he had left them and those they worshipped other than Allah, We gave him Isaac and Jacob, and each [of them] We made a prophet.
Isaac and Isaac's son Jacob are mentioned here as carrying on one line of Abraham's traditions. The other line was carried on by Isma'il, who is mentioned independently five verses lower down, as his line got special honour in the Holy Prophet of Islam. That is why his mention comes after that of Moses.
( 50 )   And We gave them of Our mercy, and we made for them a reputation of high honor.
This is to give comfort to the migrants who had been forced to migrate from their homes. They were told that they would be honored and blessed with true renown just as Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) had been blessed with true renown after his migration.

Abraham and his son and grandson Isaac and Jacob, and their line, maintained the banner of Allah's truth for many generations, and they won deservedly high praise-the praise of truth-on the tongues of men. Abraham prayed that he should be praised by the tongue of truth among men to come in later ages: [Surah 26. Ash-Shu'araa 84 "and grant me an honourable reputation among posterity,"]. Ordinary praise may mean nothing: it may be due to selfish flattery on the part of others or artful management by the person praised. Praise on the tongue of sincere truth is praise indeed!

Ruku / Section 4 [ 51-65 ]
Verses 51-57 are about the prophethood of Prophets Musa, Isma'il and Idris (peace be upon them all).

In that Verses 51-55 mention characteristics of Moses and Ishmael. Moses was a chosen prophet called into close communion by God next to Mt. Tur (the burning bush).  Ishmael was also a sincere prophet and messenger of God who was true to his word and cared for his family’s spiritual well-being; he reminded them to pray and be charitable.

وَاذۡكُرۡ فِى الۡكِتٰبِ مُوۡسٰٓى​ اِنَّهٗ كَانَ مُخۡلَصًا وَّكَانَ رَسُوۡلًا نَّبِيًّا‏ 
( 51 )   And mention in the Book, Moses. Indeed, he was chosen, and he was a messenger and a prophet.
The word used is mukhlasan, which means purified. In other words, Allah had specially chosen Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) for the mission of Prophethood.

Moses was (1) especially chosen, and therefore prepared and instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, in order that he might free his people from Egyptian bondage; there may also be a reference to Moses's title of Kalimullah, the one to whom Allah spoke without the intervention of angels: see [(Surah 4. An-Nisaa: 164) "We revealed to the Messengers We have already told you of, and to the Messengers We have not told you of; and to Moses Allah spoke directly"]; (2) he was a prophet (nabi), in that he received inspiration; and (3) he was a messenger (rasul) in that he had a Book of Revelation, and an Ummat or organised Community, for which he instituted laws.

Rasul literally means the one who is sent; therefore it is used for an ambassador, envoy, messenger and representative. The Quran has used this title for angels, who are sent by Allah on a special mission, or for the human beings who brought His Message to mankind.

As regards the word Nabi, it literally means the one who brings news, or the one who is high in rank, or the one who shows the way. This title is used for the Prophets in all the three senses. Thus Moses was a Messenger Prophet because he was a Messenger of high rank who gave news from Allah and showed the right way to the people.

The Quran does not necessarily differentiate between the use of the two titles, for sometimes it uses the title Rasul for one person at one place and the title Nabi for the same person at another place, and sometimes uses both the titles together for one and the same person. However, at some places each title has been used in a way as to show that there is some technical distinction between the two, though that has not been precisely marked out, except that every Rasul (Messenger) is a Nabi (Prophet) as well, but every Nabi may not be a Rasul, and that a Rasul has a special and more important mission to perform. This is supported by a tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which has been reported by Imam Ahmad from Abu Umamah and by Hakim from Abu Zarr. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked how many Messengers and Prophets had been sent to the world, he said that the number of the Messengers was 313 or 315 and of the Prophets 124,000
( 52 )   And We called him from the side of the mount at [his] right and brought him near, confiding [to him].
“The right side of the Mount” means the eastern side of the mountain. As Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), on his way from Midian to Egypt, was passing from the southern side of Mount Toor, the eastern side would lie on his right and the western on his left if he faced the mountain, otherwise a mountain by itself cannot have a right or a left side.

Another view point by Yousaf Ali: The right side of the mountain may mean that Moses heard the voice from the right side of the mountain as he faced it; or it may have the figurative meaning of "right" in Arabic, i.e., the side which was blessed or sacred ground.

Revelation in the case of other Prophets meant either that they heard a voice or received a message from an angel. The privileged treatment accorded to Moses was that God communicated with him directly. This communication was similar to one that takes place between two persons, as is fully illustrated by the conversation reported in (Surah Ta Ha 20: 11 ff). This unique privilege of Moses is mentioned in the Bible as well, and in much the same manner. It mentions that the Lord used to speak to Moses 'face to face, as a man speaks to his friend' (Exodus 33: 11).

The incident here refers to the incidents described more fully in Surah 20. Ta Ha: 9-36; a reference may also be made to Exod. iii. 1-18 and iv. 1-17. The place is somewhere near Mount Sinai (Jabal Musa). Moses sees a Fire in the distance, but when he goes there, he hears a voice that tells him it is sacred ground. Allah asked him to put off his shoes and to draw near, and when he went near, great mysteries were revealed to him. He was given his commission, and his brother Aaron was given to him to go with him and aid him. It is after that, that he and Aaron went and faced Pharaoh in Egypt, as narrated in Surah 7. Al-A'raf: 103-144.
( 53 )   And We gave him out of Our mercy his brother Aaron as a prophet.
Moses was diffident, and reluctant to go to Pharaoh as he had an impediment in his tongue, and he asked that his brother Aaron should be associated with him in his mission. Allah in His Mercy granted his request; Surah Ta Ha 20: 25-36.
( 54 )   And mention in the Book, Ishmael. Indeed, he was true to his promise, and he was a messenger and a prophet.
Isma'il is known as Az-zabih i.e., the chosen sacrifice for Allah in Muslim tradition. When Abraham told him of the sacrifice, he voluntarily offered himself for it, and never flinched from his promise, until the sacrifice was redeemed by the substitution of a ram under Allah's commands. He was the fountain-head of the Arabian Ummat, and in his posterity came the Prophet of Allah. The Ummat and the Book of Islam reflect back the prophethood on Isma'il.
( 55 )   And he used to enjoin on his people prayer and zakah and was to his Lord pleasing.
( 56 )   And mention in the Book, Idrees. Indeed, he was a man of truth and a prophet.
Idris is mentioned twice in the Qur-an, viz.; here and in Surah 21. Al-Anbiya: 85, where he is mentioned among those who patiently persevered. His identification with the Biblical Enoch, who "walked with God" (Gen. v. 21-24), may or may not be correct. Nor are we justified in interpreting verse 57 here as meaning the same thing as in Gen. v. 24 ("God took him"), that he was taken up without passing through the portals of death. All we are told is that he was a man of truth and sincerity, and a prophet, and that he had a high position among his people. It is this point which brings him in the series of men just mentioned; he kept himself in touch with his people, and was honoured among them. Spiritual progress need not cut us off from our people, for we have to help and guide them. He kept to truth and piety in the highest station.

There is a difference of opinion as to who Prophet Idris (peace be upon him) was. Some commentators opine that he was a Prophet from among the Israelites, but the majority of them are inclined to the view that he was a Prophet before Noah (peace be upon him). There is no authentic tradition which may help determine his identity. The next (verse 58), however, supports the view that he appeared before Prophet Noah (peace be upon him). For of all the Prophets mentioned, he alone was the one who may be said to be from the descendants of Adam.

The commentators are of the opinion that Idris was Enoch of the Old Testament, about whom it is said:
* And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years.... and he was not; for God took him. (Gen. 5: 21-24).
* In Talmud, there are greater details about Enoch, which are briefly as follows: Before Noah when the descendants of Adam began to degenerate, the angel of God called to Enoch, who led a pious life away from the people, and said: O Enoch, arise, come out from seclusion, and go about among the people of the earth, guiding them to the path which they should follow and the ways which they should adopt.
* Receiving this Divine Command, Enoch left his seclusion and gathered the people together and preached to them what he had been commanded, with the result that they listened to him and adopted the worship of God. Enoch ruled over mankind for 353 years: his rule was based on justice and truth, and consequently God favored mankind with all kinds of blessings." (H. Polano: The Talmud Selections, pp. 18-21) 
( 57 )   And We raised him to a high station.
The plain meaning is that God had favored Idris with a high rank, but according to the Israelite traditions, God took up Idris (Enoch) to heavens. The Bible says: And he was not; for God took him, but the Talmud has a long story to tell, which ends with the words: Enoch ascended to heaven in a whirlwind, with chariot and horses of fire.

In verses 58-65 it is emphasized that all prophets of Allah were Divine Guided and chosen, and conditions of the successors that came after the prophets have been discussed. A distinctive attribute of those whose character is molded by the teachings of the prophets, is that they are no longer slaves of their base desires, but rise above them.  They turn into people who remember God, the organized expression of which is prayer (salah).

The generations that came after the prophets became negligent of God and started following their base desires.  Being affiliated to a prophet shall be of no use to them.  They shall receive what they deserve.  Of them, only those shall be spared who return to the original religion and adopt a life of faith and virtuous deeds.
( 58 )   Those were the ones upon whom Allah bestowed favor from among the prophets of the descendants of Adam and of those We carried [in the ship] with Noah, and of the descendants of Abraham and Israel, and of those whom We guided and chose. When the verses of the Most Merciful were recited to them, they fell in prostration and weeping.
The earlier generations are grouped into three epochs from a religious point of view: (1) from Adam to Noah, (2) from Noah to Abraham, and (3) from Abraham to an indefinite time, say to the time when the Message of Allah was corrupted and the need arose for the final Messenger of Unity and Truth. Israel is another name for Jacob.

The original is in the Aorist tense, implying that the "Posterity" alluded to includes not only the messengers but their worthy followers who are true to Allah and uphold His standard.
( 59 )   But there came after them successors who neglected prayer and pursued desires; so they are going to meet evil
It appears that the degenerate people totally discarded Salat, or they had become neglectful and careless in its observance. This is the first evil that is committed by a degenerate people. For, after this there remains no connection whatever between them and God. Here it has been stated as a universal principle that the degeneration of the people of all the former Prophets started with the abandonment of Salat by them.

This was the inevitable result of the loss of the connection with Allah. As they became more and more neglectful of their Salat, their lusts took complete hold of them and they fell to the lowest depths of moral depravity and began to follow their whims instead of the divine commands.
( 60 )   Except those who repent, believe and do righteousness; for those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged at all.
( 61 )   [Therein are] gardens of perpetual residence which the Most Merciful has promised His servants in the unseen. Indeed, His promise has ever been coming.
That is, the promised gardens which are yet unseen by His servants.

لَّا يَسۡمَعُوۡنَ فِيۡهَا لَـغۡوًا اِلَّا سَلٰمًا​ؕ وَلَهُمۡ رِزۡقُهُمۡ فِيۡهَا بُكۡرَةً وَّعَشِيًّا‏ 
( 62 )   They will not hear therein any ill speech - only [greetings of] peace - and they will have their provision therein, morning and afternoon.
The word used is salam, which means free from defect and fault. It implies to mean that the greatest blessing that man will enjoy in Paradise will be that there he will hear no idle, vile or indecent talk. All the dwellers of Paradise will be neat and clean and pure people and every individual will be gentle and right minded by nature. Everybody will be secure against backbiting, slander and indecent songs and other ugly sounds. Whatever men will hear will be good, sensible and right.

This is indeed a great blessing which only that person can fully appreciate, who possesses a neat and fine taste, because only such a one can feel the misery of living among a dirty society, where his ears are never immune against lies, backbiting, slander, and mischievous and sensual talk.

Yousaf Ali interprets the verse as under:
Salam, translated "Peace", has a much wider signification. It includes (1) a sense of security and permanence, which is unknown in this life; (2) soundness, freedom from defects, perfection as in the word salim; (3) preservation, salvation, deliverance, as in the word sallama, (4) salutation, accord with those around us; (5) resignation, in the sense that we are satisfied and not discontented; besides (6) the ordinary meaning of Peace, i.e., freedom from any jarring element. All these shades of meaning are implied in the word Islam.

Rizq: literally sustenance or means of subsistence, the term covers all the means of perfect satisfaction of body and soul. Morning and evening, i.e., early and late, all the time, always.
( 63 )   That is Paradise, which We give as inheritance to those of Our servants who were fearing of Allah.
( 64 )   [Gabriel said], "And we [angels] descend not except by the order of your Lord. To Him belongs that before us and that behind us and what is in between. And never is your Lord forgetful
This paragraph is a parenthesis, which has been inserted at the end of one theme and before the commencement of the other. It is obvious from this that this Surah was sent down after a long delay. At that time the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions were passing through very hard times and were always expecting a revelation to guide and comfort them. When Angel Gabriel came with other angels with this revelation, he at first delivered that part of the message which was immediately needed. Then before proceeding further, he said these words by the leave of Allah as an explanation for the delay and to give them comfort from Allah and counsel of fortitude. This interpretation is not only borne out by the wording of the passage but also by some traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which have been cited by Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, and the author of Ruh-ul-Maani in their commentary on this passage.

We are apt to be impatient of the evils we see around us. We may give of our best service to Allah, and yet see no results. In our human short-sightedness we may complain within ourselves. But we must not be impatient. The angels of Grace come not haphazard, but by command of Allah according to His Universal Will and Purpose. Allah does not forget. If things are delayed, it is in accordance with a wise providence, which cares for all. Our plain duty is to be patient and constant in His service.

رَّبُّ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ وَمَا بَيۡنَهُمَا فَاعۡبُدۡهُ وَاصۡطَبِرۡ لِـعِبَادَتِهٖ​ؕ هَلۡ تَعۡلَمُ لَهٗ سَمِيًّا‏ 
( 65 )   Lord of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them - so worship Him and have patience for His worship. Do you know of any similarity to Him?"
That is, you should not only follow strictly the way of service and face all the obstacles and afflictions with patience, but also should not get uneasy, if there is a delay in revelation and help. You should rest content with His service as an obedient servant and perform persistently the duties and responsibilities entrusted to you as a servant and Messenger.

The word Samiya literally means a name sake. Here it implies: Allah is the only Deity. Do you know of any other deity besides Him? If there is none, and you know that there is none, then you do not have any alternative but to serve Him and obey His commands.

The more we taste of the truth and mystery of life, the more do we realise that there is no one to be mentioned in the same breath as Allah. He is above all names. But when we think of His beautiful qualities, and picture them to ourselves by names which give us some idea of Him, we can search the whole wide world of our imagination, and we shall not find another to be compared with Him in name or quality. He is the One: praise be to Him!

Here we come to the end of Part II of the exegesis of Surah Maryam. In Part III we will cover Ruku 5-6 [Verses 66-98] The concluding passages.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sürah Maryam 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 | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |
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. [1]
  • 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. [2] 
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources:
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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