Monday 11 November 2019

Surah Hud: 11th Chapter of Quran - Exegesis Part I

Sūrah Hūd " هود‎ " is the 11th chapter of the Qur'an with 123 āyāts (verses) with 10 ruku / sections, part of the 11th-12th Juz'. This Surah has been named after Prophet Hud (peace be upon him) whose story has been related in verses 50-60.

For the chronological place of this Sūrah and the general argument of Sūrahs x to xv, please read Overview of Sūrah 10 Yunus  (Jonah).

The Surah deals with the same subject as Sūrah Yunus, in which the stress was laid on the side of Allah's dealing with man which leans to Mercy. Here in this sūrah the invitation to the Message, admonition and warning is though the same but with this difference that the warning is sterner when all Grace is resisted.

As already mentioned in the Overview that owing to the length of the Sūrah, it has been divided into four parts as under:
  • Part I    : Ruku / Sections 1-2 [Verses 1-24]
  • Part II   : Ruku / Sections 3-4 [Verses 25-49]
  • Part III  : Ruku / Sections 5-7 [Verses 50-83] 
  • Part IV : Ruku / Sections 8-10 [Verses 84-123] 
This First Part of the exegesis of the surah will cover the Ruku / Sections 1-2 [Verses 1-24] in which varied subjects like Quran and the attitude of the polytheists towards it and resurrection, Polar attitude towards God’s favors, Prophet Muhammad’s dealing with pagans, Authenticity of the Quran, Future consequences of present behavior and ends with a mention of Those who have faith and do good deeds will reside in Paradise.

The translation and exegesis / tafseer is in English. 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 1 [1-8]
Verses 1-5: Teachings of Al-Quran

الٓر كِتٰبٌ اُحۡكِمَتۡ اٰيٰـتُهٗ ثُمَّ فُصِّلَتۡ مِنۡ لَّدُنۡ حَكِيۡمٍ خَبِيۡرٍۙ‏ 
*Alif, Lam, Ra[This is] a Book whose verses are perfected and then presented in detail from [one who is] Wise and Acquainted. (1) 

"Alif Lam Ra" are *The Muqaṭṭaʿāt (Arabic: حُرُوف مُقَطَّعَات‎ ḥurūf muqaṭṭaʿāt, "mysterious letters"), a combination of between one and five Arabic letters figuring at the beginning of 29 out of the 114 chapters (surahs) of the Quran just after the opening Bismillāh, thus also called the or occasionally called Fawatih (openers). Alif, Lam, Ra here in this sūrah are also part of these letters, the meaning of which is not known.

In the verse above, the Arabic word kitab has been translated into Book because of the context. For its meaning is not confined to book or something written but it includes command and sovereign decree as well and has been used in several places in the Quran in the same sense.

The contents of this Book are firm, strong, and unchangeable: they are well balanced and measured. There is no tinge of verbosity, pedantry, volubility, poetic fancy and rhetorical exaggeration. The truth has been stated accurately, and there is nothing more and nothing less than the truth. Moreover, the contents have been given in detail and everything has been made so clear and plain that there is neither confusion nor complication nor ambiguity in it.

Tafsir Mufti Muhammad Shaffi / Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani:
After Alif Lam Ra, it is said about the Holy Qur'an that it is a book the verses of which are made 'muhkam' (firm). The word: (muhkam is from: "ihkam" which means a perfectly correct and balancing of meaningful speech as would not leave the probability of any error or disorder in word or meaning. Based on this definition, the making of these verses 'muhkam,' firm or established would mean that Allah has made these verses such as do not admit of any likelihood and probability of any error in words, or disorder in meanings, or defect, or falsity. 

It has been attributed to 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas that 'muhkam' (firm) at this place stands in contrast to 'mansukh' (abrogated). And the sense is that Allah has made the verses of the Qur'an as a whole firm, non-abrogated - that is, the way earlier Books, Torah, Injeel etc. were abrogated after the revelation of the Qur'an. But, after the revelation of this Book, since the very chain of the coming of prophets and revelations came to an end, therefore, this Book will not be abrogated until the last day of Qiamah / the Day of Judgement. 

In the same verse, given there was another standing feature of the Qur'an: ثُمَّ فُصِّلَتۡ (thumma fus--lat) that is, 'then these verses were elaborated'. The real meaning of tafsir or elaboration is to separate two things and make them distinct from each other. For this reason, different sections in ordinary (Arabic) books bear the heading of 'Fasl'. At this place, the elaboration of verses could also mean that the verses concerning beliefs, acts of worship, dealings, social living, morals etc. have been separated from each other and described clearly. 

And it could also mean that, as far as Allah's will is concerned, the entire Qur'an had already been embedded in the Preserved Tablet (al-lawh al-mahfuz). But, later it was revealed bit by bit in many installments as necessitated under different conditions prevailing among peoples and countries, so that its preservation could become easy and acting in accordance with it also turns out to be functionally convenient. 

After that, it was said: that is, all these verses have +* come from a Sacred Being who is absolutely and simultaneously Wise and Aware. In other words, there are so many considerations of wisdom ingrained in everything that issues forth from Him. It is impossible for human beings to encompass them all. Then He is fully aware of every particle, present now or to be present in the future, of this multi- faceted universe. He knows all states of their existence as it is and as it will be and releases His commands keeping all this in sight. This is not like what human beings do. No matter how intelligent, smart and experienced they may be, their reason and vision are still cordoned by a limited frame of reference. Their experience is the product of what is around them. And this, mostly, proves to be unsuccessful, even wrong, especially when it concerns what would happen in the future under different times and conditions. (Interestingly enough, the observations of the commentator apply to what we now know as the intellectual phenomena of Futurology with its pundits, fellow travelers and dabblers all over the world. 

اَلَّا تَعۡبُدُوۡۤا اِلَّا اللّٰهَ​ ؕ اِنَّنِىۡ لَـكُمۡ مِّنۡهُ نَذِيۡرٌ وَّبَشِيۡرٌ ۙ‏ 
( 2 )   [Through a messenger, saying], "Do not worship except Allah. Indeed, I am to you from Him a warner and a bringer of good tidings,"
Tafsir Mufti Muhammad Shaffi / Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani:
From the second verse begins the delineation of one of the most important and foremost themes, that of Tauhid, the Oneness of Allah.  It is said: you worship none but Allah. It means that among things stated in these verses the most important and foremost is that no one else should be worshiped except the One Allah.

After that, it was said: I am for you a warner from Him, and a bearer of glad tidings). It means that the noble messenger of Allah has been commanded to tell the whole world through these verses that he was for them a carrier of warning (against disobedience) and a bearer of glad tidings (of blessings in this life and in the life to come) from Allah.

The word: نَذِيۡرٌ (nadh'ir) is usually taken to mean a person who puts the fear of something into someone's heart. But, this word is not used to denote a fear-generating enemy or beast or others that harm. Instead of that, nadh'ir is applied to a person who, out of his love and affection to someone, warns him against and saves him from some harmful things. These could be things that harm in this world and might as well could be those that bring harm in the Hereafter.
( 3 )   And [saying], "Seek forgiveness of your Lord and repent to Him, [and] He will let you enjoy a good provision for a specified term and give every doer of favor his favor. But if you turn away, then indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a great Day.
The assurance that “He will let you enjoy a fair provision for a term appointed” has been given to remove the misunderstanding which Satan has imbued in the heart of every foolish worshiper of the world that piety ruins one’s worldly life, though it might lead to one’s success in the Hereafter. Allah has reassured the true believers that He will shower His blessings on God fearing people and they will live happy and peaceful lives and will be honored and respected everywhere. The same thing has been stated in a different manner in (Surah An-Nahal, Ayat 97): “Whoso will do good deeds, whether a man or a woman, provided the one is a believer, We will surely make such a one lead a pure and clean life in this world.” Allah has refuted this theory of Satan and his disciples that piety inevitably brings poverty, distress and affliction and ignominy to the person who adopts truth, righteousness and virtue. He has assured that He will make the life of the one who will believe in Him and adopt a righteous life truly successful both in this world and in the Hereafter. And it is common experience that only those people enjoy real peace of mind and are honored and respected who are God fearing and possess a pure character, who are fair and generous in all their affairs and dealings and who are free from evil. For they are trusted by all and none fears any wrong or wickedness from them.

According to the Quran, the provisions of life are either mataul-hasana meaning good provisions or mataul-ghuroor meaning deceptive provisions. Here those, who return to Allah, have been assured that they will be given good provisions of life and not deceptive ones. The provisions are good if their recipient becomes even more grateful to Allah than before and uses these for fulfilling His rights and the rights of mankind and of his own self. Such good provisions make his life truly successful in this world and also in the next world. On the contrary, the provisions are deceptive, if they become a temptation for the recipient, and get him involved in the worship of the things of this world more than before. Though the deceptive provisions might appear to be a blessing and a favor, these are, in fact, a curse and means of some future torment.

This verse enunciates a fundamental divine principle. The higher a person rises in character and conduct, the higher is the rank he obtains in the sight of Allah. That is to say that Allah does not let go waste the good deed of anyone. He does neither appreciate any evil deed, nor detracts from any good deed. Everyone will be given the honor which he deserves for his deeds.

Tafsir Mufti Muhammad Shaffi / Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani:
Out of the instructions given in these verses of the Qur'an, the second one appears in the third verse in the words: وَّاَنِ اسۡتَغۡفِرُوۡا رَبَّكُمۡ ثُمَّ تُوۡبُوۡۤا اِلَيۡهِ (and that you seek forgiveness from your Lord). It means that, in these verses of firm and established meaning, Allah has also instructed His servants to ask for forgiveness and pardon from their Lord, and make their Taubah before Him. Forgiveness (maghfirah) relates to past sins and Taubah (repentance) relates to the resolve of not going near these anymore. And, in reality, a correct and true Taubah is no more than being ashamed of past sins, praying to Allah that they be forgiven and resolving firmly that they would not be repeated in future. Therefore, some righteous elders have said that seeking forgiveness from Allah only verbally - without having made a firm resolution, and the necessary arrangements to implement it, in order to remain safe from future sins - is the Taubah (repentance) of liars (al- kadhdhzbh).

A promise was made of Good Life, both in Dunyh (This World)  and Ahhirah (The Hereafter), in the first sentence, and of everlasting blessings of Paradise, in the second. After that, it is said: وَاِنۡ تَوَلَّوۡا فَاِنِّىۡۤ اَخَافُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ عَذَابَ يَوۡمٍ كَبِيۡرٍ‏  (And if you turn away, then, I fear for you the punishment of a great day). That is: 'If you turn away from the good counsel given to you, fail to seek forgiveness for your past sins, and fail to remain safe against sins in the future, then, there is a strong likelihood that you will be seized by the punishment of a great day'. It refers to the day of Qiyamah for it would be a day of one thousand years and, also in terms of what ominous things would transpire in it, it will be the gravest.
( 4 )   To Allah is your return, and He is over all things competent."
In the fourth verse, the theme has been emphasized further. Let man do what he elects to. Let him live the way he fancies. But, ultimately, once dead, man has to return to Him and He is powerful over every- thing. It is not at all difficult for Him to have each particle man is made of reassembled after he is dead and becomes dust and see to it that there rises the man he was, all over again.
( 5 )   Unquestionably, they the disbelievers turn away their breasts to hide themselves from Him. Unquestionably, [even] when they cover themselves in their clothing, Allah knows what they conceal and what they declare. Indeed, He is Knowing of that within the breasts.
There were people of Makkah, who though not very active in their antagonism against the message of the Prophet (peace be upon him), nevertheless were very averse to it. Therefore they did not like to hear it nor come face to face with him, and did their very best to avoid him. If, by chance, they found him sitting somewhere and talking to the people, they would at once turn back on their heels. Or if they saw him coming towards them, they would slink away or hide their faces with cloth for fear that he might address them and convey his message to them. As they did not have the courage to face the truth, they would bury their heads ostrich-like and make believe that the reality from which they were hiding had disappeared, whereas it was all along there and watching their ridiculous attempts to hide from it.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Turning away chests and walking away by covering themselves with clothing are portrayals of the aversion and diversion these people would adopt to ignore the words of the Prophet (sws) and to arrogantly walk away from him. The Qur'an tells one to look at these people who want to hide from the Being who knows what is even in the hearts. What greater a foolishness can engulf them after being warned by the Prophet (sws).

Verses 6-8: Allah is the Sustainer of all creatures

وَمَا مِنۡ دَآ بَّةٍ فِى الۡاَرۡضِ اِلَّا عَلَى اللّٰهِ رِزۡقُهَا وَ يَعۡلَمُ مُسۡتَقَرَّهَا وَمُسۡتَوۡدَعَهَا​ؕ كُلٌّ فِىۡ كِتٰبٍ مُّبِيۡنٍ‏ 
( 6 )   And there is no creature on earth but that upon Allah is its provision, and He knows its place of dwelling and place of storage. All is in a clear register.
That is, it is foolish on your part to deceive yourselves that you can escape punishment by hiding yourselves from Allah Who has full and perfect knowledge of everything. Who knows the nest where the tiniest sparrow lives and the hole where the smallest insect resides, and provides their sustenance to them wherever they be. Who knows the dwelling place and the final resting place of every creature and gives life and death to them at the appointed time. Do you think that by hiding yourselves from His messenger, you can also hide yourselves from the All-Knowing Sovereign Who has sent him? Do you think that Allah does not see His messenger doing his very best to convey His message to you and you are trying to turn a deaf ear to it?

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Cf. vi. 59. Nothing happens in Creation except by the Word of Allah and with the knowledge of Allah. Not a leaf stirs but by His Will. Its maintenance in every sense is dependent on His Will.

Mustaqarr = definite abode; where a thing stops or stays for some time, where it is established. Mustauda = where a thing is laid up or deposited for a little while. Referring to animals, the former denotes its life on this earth; the latter its temporary pre-natal existence in the egg or the womb and its after-death existence in the tomb or whatever state it is in until its resurrection.

Tafsir Mufti Muhammad Shaffi / Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani:
Mentioned in the previous verse was the all-encompassing knowledge of Allah from whom nothing is hidden, nothing from the tiniest particle of the universe down to the secrets of the hearts. It is in consonance with it that the first verse (6) mentions a great favor be- stowed on human beings - that Allah has Himself taken the responsibility of providing their sustenance. Then, this is not restricted to human beings alone. It extends to every living form that walks over the earth. Its sustenance reaches it where it lives or goes to. That being the state of affairs, the intentions and efforts of disbelievers and hypocrites to hide things from Allah are nothing but ignorance and senselessness. Then, taken in a general sense, it would include all beasts, birds, insects and all animals of the land and the sea.

To intensify this generality, the word: (min) has been added and the text ,4 reads: ,وَمَا مِنۡ دَآ بَّةٍ (and there is no creature). Dabbah "دَآ بَّةٍ" is any creature that moves on earth. Birds are also included there because their nests are also located somewhere on the land. That creatures living in water have also a connection with the surface of the earth is no secret. Allah has taken the responsibility of providing sustenance for all these life forms and has put it in words which give the impression of a duty imposed on someone. It was said: عَلَى اللّٰهِ رِزۡقُهَا (its sustenance is on Allah). It is obvious that there is no power that could put a liability on Allah. What really happened is that Allah Himself has made this promise out of his grace and mercy. But, this promise comes from One who is True and Merciful. There is no probability of things happening otherwise, counter to the promise. This is a matter of certitude. It is to express this element of certitude that the word: عَلَى ('al'a: on) has been introduced at this place - a word used to describe duties, although, Allah takes no orders from anyone, nor is He responsible for something as obligated or necessary.

Lexically, رِزۡقُ rizq (sustenance, provision or livelihood) means some- thing from which a creature procures its food and through which the body grows and the soul survives.

According to the lexical meaning of the word 'rizq', it is not necessary that whoever has it should also be its owner - because, rizq is given to all animals, but they are not its owners. They are not cut out for ownership. Similarly, infants are not the owners of their rizq, but it is given to them. In terms of this general sense of rizq, 'many scholars have said that rizq could be bald (lawful) and it could also be haram (unlawful), because for a person who eats up what belongs to the other person, that property, no doubt, becomes his food, but so it becomes only unlawfully. Had this person not used unfair means blinded by his greed, he would have received the halal (lawful) rizq reserved and appointed for him.

After having made the promise in this verse that Allah has taken the responsibility of providing the rizq of every living creature, things have not been left at that. Instead, to put human beings further at ease, it was said:  وَ يَعۡلَمُ مُسۡتَقَرَّهَا وَمُسۡتَوۡدَعَهَا​ؕ (and He knows its permanent and its temporary place - 6). Different explanations of the words:  مُسۡتَقَرَّ (mustaqarr) and  َمُسۡتَوۡدَعَ (mustawda') have been reported but, lexically, what Tafsir al-Kashshaf carries is the closest. It says that mustaqarr is the place someone makes a permanent residence, or home; and mustawda' is a place where one stays temporarily to take care of some- thing (as it appears in the translation of the text).

The sense being driven home is that the responsibility of Allah should not be taken on the analogy of responsibilities as assumed by peoples and governments of the world of our experience. Here in this world, let us assume that there is a person or institution that would take the responsibility of delivering your 'rizq' to you. In that case, if you were going somewhere, you would inform that individual or institution that you were leaving your permanent place to go somewhere else. Then, you will have to give a firm itinerary that you will be living in such and such city or village, from such and such date to such and such date, and that you wanted your provider to deliver your rizq there! But, when things are 'on Allah' and under His responsibility, you do not have to take even this much of trouble because He knows when you move and He knows when you do not and He knows what you are doing in this or that state. He knows where you live permanently and He knows where you live temporarily. He needs no application, or advice or address to take care of your rizq. It is just delivered wherever you are.
( 7 )   And it is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days - and His Throne had been upon water - that He might test you as to which of you is best in deed. But if you say, "Indeed, you are resurrected after death," those who disbelieve will surely say, "This is not but obvious magic."
This is a parenthetical clause that has probably been inserted in answer to a question, which has not been cited: if the heavens and the earth were created afterwards in six days, what was there before their creation? The answer is: then there was water. It is not possible for us to say what exactly was the nature of that water. It might have been the common fluid known by that name. Or perhaps, the word water has been used as a symbol for the fluid state of the matter before it was changed to its present form. As regards to “His Throne was upon the water” I am of the opinion that it means: “His Kingdom was over water.”

This enunciates the purpose of the creation: Allah created the heavens and the earth for the sake of the creation of mankind and He created mankind to test human beings by delegating to them the powers of vicegerency and making them morally responsible for using or abusing them, just as they liked. Thus it has been emphasized that the sole purpose of the creation is the moral trial of man and his consequent accountability to the Creator for the use or abuse of the delegated powers, and the award of rewards and punishments. For without this basic purpose, the whole work of creation would have become meaningless and useless.

That is, the disbelievers very foolishly considered the purpose of the creation to be no more than a pastime in which they themselves were mere playthings. They were so absorbed in their foolish conception that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) told them what the real purpose of creation was and what part they were required to play in it, they would scoff at him, saying: Your message is like a piece of sorcery and beyond our understanding.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
It is scientifically correct to say that all life was evolved out of the waters, and this statement also occurs in the Qur'an, xxi. 30. Some such meaning, I think, also attaches to the Gen. i. 2. The past tense "was" refers to the time before life developed in solid forms, on land and in air.

The Creation we see around us is not idle sport or play or whim on the part of Allah. It is the medium through which our spiritual life is to develop, with such free-will as we have. This life is our testing time. The Unbelievers, who do not believe in a Future life, think all talk of it is like a sorcerer's talk, empty of reality. But in this they show their ignorance, and they are begging the question.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
These refer to the days of God about which the Qur'an has specified that they are equivalent to one thousand earth years and at times to fifty thousand earth years. The implication is that the creation of this world is not an accidental happening. It has come into being because of a calculated intention and scheme devised by God and according to a great sequence envisaged by Him. Not to speak of His wisdom in this planning. Hence this world cannot be a purposeless creation. It is bound to have a purpose which manifests itself soon or late.

Before this, the earth surface consisted of water only and was governed by the Almighty. In the times of the Prophet (sws), people may have wondered at this statement of the Qur'an; however, today's researches have shown that this information about the earth is a fact which the Qur'an had stated centuries ago.

This is a statement of the purpose for which this world was created in an elaborate way in six days – which are equivalent to millions of earth years. It is for this reason that God has given human beings the freedom of will and the awareness of good and evil. Their creator wants to see whether they adopt the path of right or wrong. They have been told that one day they will be held accountable for their choices and will be rewarded or punished accordingly.
( 8 )   And if We hold back from them the punishment for a limited time, they will surely say, "What detains it?" Unquestionably, on the Day it comes to them, it will not be averted from them, and they will be enveloped by what they used to ridicule.
In the eighth verse, an answer has been given to people who doubted the warnings of punishment given by prophets, peace be on them. Not willing to believe them, they used to ask them if they were true, and if they were, why the punishment they warned them of would not come?

Ruku / Section 2 [9-24 ]

Verses 9-14: Mankind is ever ungrateful to Allah except the believers and Al-Quran is not forged by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
( 9 )   And if We give man a taste of mercy from Us and then We withdraw it from him, indeed, he is despairing and ungrateful.
That is he does not realize that some kinds of chastening are good for discipline and the training of our spiritual faculties.
( 10 )   But if We give him a taste of favor after hardship has touched him, he will surely say, "Bad times have left me." Indeed, he is exultant and boastful
This disgraceful characteristic of man has been mentioned here because the disbelievers were exhibiting it at that time. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) warned them of the consequences of their disobedience to Allah, they would scoff at him as if to say: Are you mad? Can't you see our prosperity and power? We are enjoying all the good things of life and dominating over everything and everyone all around us. How is it that you are prophesying torment for us?

The above mentioned arrogant behavior was due to the disgraceful human characteristic which has been mentioned in this verse. It is this: Man is, by nature, shallow and superficial and lacks the depth of thought. Therefore, when he enjoys prosperity and power he becomes joyous, arrogant and boastful; so much so that he never even dreams of any possibility that his happy condition would ever come to an end. And if and when adversity befalls him, he becomes an embodiment of despair and begins to complain of his misfortune here, there, and everywhere; so much so that he does not hesitate even to abuse God and taunt at His Godhead. But whenever there is a change for the better in his fortune, he again begins to brag of his foresight, wisdom and success. That is why the disbelievers were exhibiting such a shallow and superficial characteristic in answer to the warning of the Prophet (peace be upon him). They forgot that Allah was deferring their punishment because of His mercy to give them sufficient time to consider well their absurd attitude and mend their ways during the respite given to them, and not to delude themselves by imagining that their prosperity had very deep foundations and would last for ever.

اِلَّا الَّذِيۡنَ صَبَرُوۡا وَعَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰتِؕ اُولٰٓـئِكَ لَهُمۡ مَّغۡفِرَةٌ وَّاَجۡرٌ كَبِيۡرٌ‏
( 11 )   Except for those who are patient and do righteous deeds; those will have forgiveness and great reward.
Here " صَبَرُ " sabr (fortitude) also implies another meaning, that is, steadfastness, the antonym of shallowness etc. that has been mentioned in the preceding verse. Those “Who are steadfast” remain fine and unwavering in their purpose in spite of the vicissitudes of life. They are not influenced by the changes of circumstances but stick to the right reasonable and correct attitudes they have adopted. They do not give themselves airs nor become intoxicated nor over jubilant and boastful if they win power, prosperity and name. On the contrary, they are neither subdued nor depressed if they are visited by adversity. In short, they come out successful in their trial by Allah, whether it be in the shape of favor or adversity and remain steadfast in both the cases.

This is the favor that Allah shows to such people; He forgives their shortcomings and gives them rich rewards for their good deeds.
( 12 )   Then would you possibly leave [out] some of what is revealed to you, or is your breast constrained by it because they say, "Why has there not been sent down to him a treasure or come with him an angel?" But you are only a warner. And Allah is Disposer of all things.
In this verse, Allah has comforted and urged His Messenger (peace be upon him) to propagate the message without the least hesitation and not to waver in his determination for fear of ridicule or for lack of response from his people. He should convey the message in its entirety and leave the result to Allah for He has full power over everything. In order to grasp its full significance, we should keep in view the circumstances that necessitated it.

At the time of this revelation, the Quraish were the most powerful and influential of all the clans. As they were the guardians of the Kabah (Makkah), the religious center of the Arabs, they enjoyed religious, economic, and political superiority over the entire Arabia. Thus it was quite natural that they should resent and oppose that message which proclaimed: “The religion of which you are the leaders is absolutely false, and the system of life you are following is rotten to the core. As you are rejecting the message, torment of Allah is threatening you. The only way of escape from it is that you should accept the right way and the righteous system of life I have brought from Allah.” Obviously this message struck a hard blow at their superiority and therefore they were averse to it from the very beginning.

The second reason why they did not accept it was that the Messenger (peace be upon him) possessed nothing extraordinary to convince the people of his Prophethood except his pure character and his rational, and understandable message. Then for the Quraish, there was nothing to warrant a torment from Allah except the rotten condition of their religion, morality and culture. On the contrary, there was prosperity to delude them that that was a sure sign of the favors of Allah and of their gods and goddesses, which was a clear proof that the ways they were following were the right ways. The inevitable result was that only a small minority of those people, who had sound minds and hearts, accepted the message and the remaining large majority became hostile to it. Then some of them tried to suppress the message by persecutions and some did their worst to defame it by false accusations and frivolous objections and others resorted to calculated indifference to discourage it. There were still others who adopted an attitude of ridicule, derision, taunt and mockery in order to make light of it.

The above condition went on for many years and was liable to fill one with despair and discouragement. Therefore the Sovereign reassured His Messenger, as if to say, “We disapprove of these shallow, superficial and mean people, who are trying to make your mission a failure by their prejudice, indifference, ridicule, mockery and frivolous objections. You should go on following the right way with perseverance and courage: you should go on proclaiming the truth that has been revealed to you without the least hesitation: you should never be afraid of propagating the message for fear of ridicule or indifference: you should go on inculcating the truth in its entirety whether anyone accepts it or rejects it for it is Allah Who has everything in His power and charge and He alone affords guidance to everyone He considers fit for it.”
( 13 )   Or do they say, "He invented it"? Say, "Then bring ten surahs like it that have been invented and call upon [for assistance] whomever you can besides Allah, if you should be truthful."
 Tafsir Mufti Muhammad Shaffi / Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani:
A refutation of the false doubts engineered by Mushriks and Kzfirs in it has been made in the next two verses (13,14): These people say that the Prophet of Islam has himself made up the Qur'an - it is no book of Allah.

In answer, it was said: If you really think so, that Muhammad (peace be upon him) can make a Qur'an like this, all by himself, then, you too, better come up with only ten Surahs like that. And it is not necessary either that these ten Surahs have to be made by any one person. In- stead, let everyone in the world join forces and come up with it. And when they fail to make even ten Surahs, then, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was to tell them: Now the reality stands out loud and clear, for had this Qur'an been the word of some human being, other human beings could have also been able to make something like this. And that they all fail to do so is a strong proof of the fact that this Qur'an has been revealed only with the knowledge of Allah in which there is no room for the least increase or decrease and that it is beyond human power.

At this place, the Holy Qur'an has said that they should come up with ten Surahs like it. And in another verse it was also said: 'Then, bring a Surah the like of this - al-Baqarah, 2:23.'

The reason is that they were first asked to bring ten Surahs. They failed to do so. Then, to make their inability look more pronounced, it was said in the verse of Surah al-Baqarah quoted above: If you take the Qur'an to be a word of man, then, you too, bring no more than just one Surah being the like of it. But, despite this challenge of the Qur'an, made so easy for them, they could do nothing. It stood proved that the Holy Qur'an was a miracle, and the Word of Allah without any doubt. Therefore, at the end, it was said: ​ۚ فَهَلۡ اَنۡتُمۡ مُّسۡلِمُوۡنَ, that is, 'would you now believe and obey, or would you prefer to remain heedless as before?'
( 14 )   And if they do not respond to you - then know that the Qur'an was revealed with the knowledge of Allah and that there is no deity except Him. Then, would you [not] be Muslims?
Here one and the same argument has been advanced to prove two things. First, the Quran has been revealed by Allah. Secondly, it proves the truth of the doctrine of Tauhid. The argument is this:
(1) You say that the Quran has not been revealed by Allah but has been devised and invented by myself and ascribed to Him. If your claim had been genuine you would have been able to invent a book like this in answer to the challenge I have given you over and over again. As you have failed to do so even with your combined resources and forces, my claim that it has been revealed with Allah’s knowledge has been proved absolutely and completely true.
(2) Then there was a twofold challenge from the Quran to your deities but they utterly failed to meet it. They were challenged to come to your aid and help produce a book like the Quran. As they have not helped you, it is a clear proof that they are absolutely powerless and have no share at all in Godhead. You have seen that they have not only failed in this decisive test, but have also proved to be impotent to defend themselves against the open attacks made on them in this Book, which asks the people not to worship them for they have no share in the powers of Godhead. These things have proved that there is nothing divine in them and you have made them your deities without rhyme or reason.
Incidentally, this verse shows that chronologically this Surah was revealed earlier than Surah Yunus. For at first they were challenged in this Surah to bring ten Surahs like the Surahs of the Quran, but they failed to do so. Then in Surah Yunus they were challenged (Ayat 38) to bring even one Surah like this. 

Verses 15-24: People of the Book (Jews and Christians) are of two kinds, those who can see the Truth, and those who choose not to
( 15 )   Whoever desires the life of this world and its adornments - We fully repay them for their deeds therein, and they therein will not be deprived.
This general statement has been made in continuation of the theme of the preceding verses, to refute the false excuses of the disbelievers mentioned therein for rejecting the message of the Quran. This verse says that in general those people who rejected the Quran then (and are rejecting it now) were the worshipers of this world and its pleasures. As the root cause of their rejection was (and is) this false creed that there is nothing more valuable than the pleasures of this world and its material gains. And there should be no restrictions, like the ones imposed in the Quran, on their acquisition. They first made this choice, and afterwards invented arguments, like the ones mentioned in the Quran, to deceive their own minds and those of others.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
If worldly men desire the glitter of this world, they shall have it in full measure, but it is false glitter, and it involves the negation of that spiritual life which comes from the guidance of the inner light and from the revelation of Allah, as described in verse 17 below.
( 16 )   Those are the ones for whom there is not in the Hereafter but the Fire. And lost is what they did therein, and worthless is what they used to do.
This is a clear and stern warning to the worshipers of the world. They should know that they will get the full reward for the exertions (whatever they be) they put forth in order to acquire the worldly gains but they should note it well that they would get nothing in the next world. As they confined their efforts to the benefits of this world, and did nothing to earn the benefits of the next world, they should expect nothing for the deeds they have done for the material gains of this world. In order to illustrate this, let us take the case of a person who desires to build a palace for himself in this world and adopts all those devices, measures and means which help build such a palace. Most surely, he will succeed in building a grand palace, for no brick will refuse to stick to its place simply because he was an unbeliever. But it is equally obvious that he shall have to leave behind in this world that grand palace along with all its furnishings as soon as he breathes his last breath. For there is no reason why the palace he had built (or done anything else) for this world, should be credited to him in the next world, if he had done nothing to provide himself with a palace in the next world. For only those who provide for themselves with the necessary material for a palace in the next world in accordance with the divine law, deserve to get a palace there.

Now a question arises in regard to the logical conclusion of this argument, according to which he should not get a palace in the next world. It is this: “Well, he may not get a palace, but why should he be thrown into the fire of Hell?” The answer is this (and the Quran itself has given this same answer in different places) that the one who exerts and works only for a palace in this world in utter disregard of the Hereafter, naturally and inevitably adopts such treasures and means as help build a large fire for himself in the Hell.
( 17 )   So is one who [stands] upon a clear evidence from his Lord [like the aforementioned]? And a witness from Him follows it, and before it was the Scripture of Moses to lead and as mercy. Those [believers in the former revelations] believe in the Qur'an. But whoever disbelieves in it from the [various] factions - the Fire is his promised destination. So be not in doubt about it. Indeed, it is the truth from your Lord, but most of the people do not believe.
This shows that even apart from revelation, there is ample evidence in man’s own self, in the structure of the heavens and the earth, and in the order that prevails in the universe to prove that God is the only creator, master, lord and sovereign of the universe. The evidence referred to above also inclines man to believe that the present life will be followed by another one in which man will be required to render an account of his deeds and wherein he might be requited.

The “witness from Him” is the Quran. The testimony of the natural phenomena combined with that provided by man’s own self had already created in man the disposition to affirm the truths mentioned earlier. All that was further reinforced by the Quran which came as reassurance that what he was predisposed to believe in was indeed true.

In the present context the verse means that those who are overly infatuated with the allurements of a worldly life will be inclined to reject the message of the Quran. Distinguishable from these are those who take full note of the testimony furnished by their own beings and by the structure and order prevailing in the universe in support of God’s unity. This testimony was further reinforced by the heavenly books revealed before the Quran. How could such persons close their eyes to such overwhelming testimony as this and join their voice with those of the unbelievers?

This verse clearly indicates that even before the Quran was revealed, the Prophet (peace be on him) had reached the stage of belief in the Unseen. We have seen, in (Surah Al- Anam Ayat 75), the case of Abraham. Before being appointed as a Prophet, Abraham (peace be on him) was led by a careful observation of the natural phenomena to knowledge of God’s unity. Likewise, the present verse makes it clear that by his reflection, the Prophet (peace be on him), had been led to believe in the Unseen even before the Quran was revealed. Subsequently, when the Quran was revealed it not only confirmed what he had already become inclined to accept, but also provided definite knowledge about it.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
"A witness from Himself': i.e., the Book which was given to Al-Mustafa, the Holy Qur-an, which is compared to the original Revelation given to Moses. We make no difference between one true and genuine Message and another, nor between one apostle and another,-for they all come from the One True God.

"Guide": the Arabic word here is Imam, a leader, a guide, one that directs to the true Path. Such a direction is an instance of the Mercy and Goodness of Allah to man. The Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad are also called, each, a Guide and a Mercy, and so are these epithets applicable to previous Books and Prophets.
( 18 )   And who is more unjust than he who invents a lie about Allah? Those will be presented before their Lord, and the witnesses will say, "These are the ones who lied against their Lord." Unquestionably, the curse of Allah is upon the wrongdoers.
To invent a lie against God consists of stating that beings other than God also have a share with God in His godhead, that like God they are also entitled to be served and worshiped by God’s creatures. Inventing a lie against God also consists of stating that God is not concerned with providing guidance to His creatures, that He did not raise Prophets for that purpose, and that He rather left men free to behave as they pleased. Inventing a lie against God also consists of stating that God created human beings by way of jest and sport and that He will not have them render an account to Him, and that He will not requite them for their deeds. Such a proclamation would be made on the Day of Judgment.
( 19 )   Who averted [people] from the way of Allah and sought to make it [seem] deviant while they, concerning the Hereafter, were disbelievers.
This is a parenthetical statement. That is, that God’s curse will be proclaimed in the Hereafter against those who are guilty of the crimes mentioned. Such persons do not like the straight way being expounded to them. They would rather have the straight way rendered crooked by altering it under the influence of lust, prejudice, fancy, and superstition. It is only after the way that was once straight has been rendered crooked that they will be willing to accept it.

Cf: vii-45
( 20 )   Those were not causing failure [to Allah] on earth, nor did they have besides Allah any protectors. For them the punishment will be multiplied. They were not able to hear, nor did they see.
This, again, refers to what will happen in the next life. They will suffer punishment for being in error and for misleading others and leaving behind a legacy of error and misguidance for coming generations.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Cf. vii. 38. In this context, it is implied that they committed a two-fold wrong: (1) in inventing falsehoods against Allah, which deadened their own soul, and (2) in leading others astray or hindering them from Allah's path. Thus they lost the faculty of hearing, which they might have used to hear the Word of Allah, and they blinded the faculty of sight by shutting out Allah's light.
( 21 )   Those are the ones who will have lost themselves, and lost from them is what they used to invent.
All their conjectures regarding God, the universe and their own selves will prove to be absolutely baseless in the next life. Similarly, the notions they entertained about the help and support they would receive from those they considered to be either their deities, or their intercessors with God, or their patrons will prove to be false. Likewise, it will become obvious that all their notions about the Afterlife were utterly untrue.
( 22 )   Assuredly, it is they in the Hereafter who will be the greatest losers.
( 23 )   Indeed, they who have believed and done righteous deeds and humbled themselves to their Lord - those are the companions of Paradise; they will abide eternally therein.
This concludes the account about the Hereafter.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Note that the humility is to be "before their Lord," i.e., in Allah's sight. There is no virtue, quite the contrary, in rubbing our noses to the ground before men. We are not to be arrogant even before men because we are humble as in Allah's sight. Nor does true humility lose self-confidence; for that self-confidence arises from confidence in the support and help of Allah.
( 24 )   The example of the two parties is like the blind and deaf, and the seeing and hearing. Are they equal in comparison? Then, will you not remember?
Can the attitude and ultimate end of both these types of people be the same? Obviously, he who fails to see the right way and ignores the instruction of the guide who directs him to the right way will necessarily stumble and meet with some terrible mishap. However, he who perceives the right way and follows the instructions of his guide will reach his destination, and reach it safely.

The same difference is found between the two parties mentioned here. One of these carefully observes the realities of the universe and pays heed to the teachings of God’s Messengers. The other party, however, neither uses their eyes properly to perceive God’s signs nor pays heed to His Messengers. The behavior of the two parties is, therefore, bound to be different. And when their behavior is different, there is no reason to believe that their ultimate end will be identical.

Story of Prophet Noah (Nuh, peace be upon him)
Ruku 3-4, verses / āyāts 25–49 tell the story of Noah and how his people did not believe his commands to follow God. The unbelievers are drowned in a flood, which includes Noah's son; Noah asks God about this act, but God rebukes Noah as being ignorant and says that Noah's son is "not a member of his family." Surah 66, At-Tahrim, elaborates on this and says that Noah's wife is an unbeliever in hell who was unfaithful to her husband.

This will be covered in Part II.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrah Hūd 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). 

You may also refer to our following reference pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran:
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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