Friday 11 December 2020

Sūrah Al-Insān - The Man: Exegesis 76th Chapter of Quran

Sūrah Al-Insān " الإنسان ", also known as al-Dahr, "Endless time", Hal Ata, "Has There Not come" is the 76th chapter (surah) of the Qur'ān with 31 verses (ayat) and two ruku, part of the 30th Juzʼ  of the Qur'ān.

The revelation of this Surah was probably in the early Makkan period. 
Its theme is the contrast between the two classes of men, those who choose good and those who choose evil, with special reference to the former.
The title of the Surah recalls a Pagan Arab idea, which explains Time as existing spontaneously from eternity to eternity and responsible for the misery he happiness of mankind. In xiv. 24 we 'read: "They say .... 'nothing but Time destroy us'." This attitude is of course wrong. Time is a created thing: it its wonders, but it is no more eternal than matter. It is also relative to our conceptions and not absolute, as Einstein has proved. It is only Allah Who is Subsisting, Eternal from the beginning and Eternal to the end, the absolute Existence and Reality. We must not transfer His attributes to any figments of imagination.
This idea of Time (Dahr ) as against living personal God has given rise to the term Dahriya, as applied to an atheist or a materialist. 
The whole of the Surah is full of the highest meanings, as is generally the case with Makkan Surahs and this should always be remembered in their interpretation.

A doubt exists about the place of revelation of this surah, for some scholars consider it to have been revealed at Medinah, while majority is of the opinion that it was revealed at Makkah. Please read the entire background of its revelation and its time by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  [2]. 

The surah is divided into two ruku as under:
  • Ruku One: Verses 1-22: In that verses 1-12 talk about the Universe was there before mankind, then Allah created man, provided him guidance and let him use his free will, either to believe or to disbelieve, while in verse 13-22 talk of Exemplary life in paradise for those who choose to believe.
  • Ruku Two: Verses 23-31: In this ruku, it is mentioned that Allah sent this Quran gradually according to the issues faced by mankind and This is and admonition for those who want to adopt the way to their Rabb (God)
We have already presented the overview / summary of the sürah. Let us now read the verse by verse translation and exegesis / tafseer in English. 

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

Ruku One: Verses 1-22
Verses 1-12 talk about the Universe was there before mankind, then Allah created man, provided him guidance and let him use his free will, either to believe or to disbelieve, while in verse 13-22 talk of Exemplary life in paradise for those who choose to believe.

هَلۡ اَتٰى عَلَى الۡاِنۡسَانِ حِيۡنٌ مِّنَ الدَّهۡرِ لَمۡ يَكُنۡ شَيۡـئًـا مَّذۡكُوۡرًا‏ 
( 1 )   Has there [not] come upon man a period of time when he was not a thing [even] mentioned?
Most of the commentators and translators have taken hal in the first sentence hal ata alal-insan-i, in the meaning of qad. Accordingly, they interpret this sentence to mean; “No doubt, there has indeed passed on man a time.” But, in fact, the word hal in Arabic is used only as an interrogative particle, and its object is not to ask a question in every case, but this apparently interrogative particle is used in different meanings on different occasions. For example, sometimes, in order to find out whether a certain incident has taken place or not, we ask: “Has this thing happened?” Sometimes, we do not mean to ask a question but to deny something and we express the denial, thus: “Can any other also do this?” Sometimes, we want somebody to affirm something and so ask him: “Have I paid what was due to you?” And sometimes, we do not intend to have something just affirmed but we put a question in order to make the addressee pay particular attention to something which follows his affirmation as a sequel. For example, we ask someone: “Have I harmed you in any way?” The object is not only to make him affirm that one has not done him any harm, but also to make him think how far one is justified to harm somebody who has not harmed him in any way. The interrogative sentence in the verse before us illustrates this last meaning. The object is not only to make man affirm that there has indeed passed on him such a time but also to make him think that the God Who developed and shaped him into a perfect man from an insignificant, humble beginning, would not be helpless to create him once again.

In the second sentence, hin um-min ad-dahr the word dahr implies the endless time, the beginning and end of which are unknown to man and this is the particular period of time which might at some time have passed during this endless period. What is meant to be said is that in this immensely long span of time there has passed a long period when human race was altogether non-existent. Then a time came in it when a species called man was created, and in the same period a time has passed on every person when a beginning was made to bring him into existence from nothingness.

The third sentence, “When he was not a thing (even) to be mentioned” implies that a part of him existed in the form of a microscopic gene in the sperm drop of the father and a part in the form of a microscopic ovum in the mother. For long ages man did not even know that he comes into being when the sperm gene and the ovum combined. Now both have been observed by means of powerful microscopes but even now no one can say how much of man exists in the father’s sperm and how much in the mother’s ovum. Then, the initial cell that comes into being by the combination of the two at the time of conception is such an insignificant thing that it can be seen only through highly powerful microscopes, and seeing it also no one at first sight can claim that it is a man taking shape, nor that even if a man emerges from this humble beginning, what will be his size and stature, what will be his form and figure, and what will be his capabilities and personality like. This is the meaning of the sentence that at that time he was not yet a thing worthy of any mention although a beginning of his being as a man had been made.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The undoubted fact is mentioned in the form of a question, to get the assent of man. It is certain that the physical world existed long before man was ever heard of or mentioned, as geological records prove. It is also true that the world existed long before man came on the scene: see ii. 30-31. Man is here taken in a generic sense. Dahr is Time as a whole, or for a long period.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Implying, according to all the classical commentators, "there has indeed been an immensely long [or "endless"] span of time" - the interrogative particle hal having here the positive meaning of qad. However, this meaning can be brought out equally well by interpolating the word "not".

Lit., "a thing mentioned" or "mentionable" - i.e., non-existent even as a hypothetical concept. The purport of this statement is a refutation of the blasphemous "anthropocentric" world-view, which postulates man as he exists - and not any Supreme Being - as the centre and ultimate reality of all life.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This interrogative style is adopted when the purpose is to make a person accept something which though is self-evident and is also acknowledged by him yet he is adamant on deviating from it. It expresses anger, reproach and grief over the ungrateful attitude he has adopted; it records a sort of protest and complaint on this attitude and last but not the least sounds a very effective appeal in his ears to ponder on what he is doing. All these nuances cannot be conveyed in a simple statement. 

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: … The purpose of this question is to induce man to reflect as to why such elaborate arrangements were made by providence for him. Why was he blessed with such great abilities? Was all this done merely so that he eat, drink and then die? Are not some responsibilities imposed on him as a result of being blessed with such favours? Does man not owe some obligations to the Being Who created Him? These questions should arise in every person who reflects on his existence.

Man’s own being is the closest to him and every part of him induces him to reflect and ponder. The interrogative nature of the verse is meant to stimulate him towards reflection: If God is beyond man’s eyes, his own being is at hand; by deliberating on it he can witness God’s power and providence, mercy and justice. Similarly, if he reflects he will come to realize that although he has not seen the Day of Judgement, yet his own intuition contains signs and testimonies of such a day. In fact, so blatant are these testimonies that he cannot deny them unless of course he is absolutely stubborn. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 106)

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Allah informs that He brought man into existence after he was not even a thing worth mentioning, due to his lowliness and weakness. Allah says, (Has there not been over man a period of time, when he was not a thing worth mentioning) 

Then Allah explains this by saying,

اِنَّا خَلَقۡنَا الۡاِنۡسَانَ مِنۡ نُّطۡفَةٍ اَمۡشَاجٍۖ نَّبۡتَلِيۡهِ فَجَعَلۡنٰهُ سَمِيۡعًۢا بَصِيۡرًا‏ 
( 2 )   Indeed, We created man from a sperm-drop mixture that We may try him; and We made him hearing and seeing.
“From a mixed sperm drop”: From the intermingling of the male sperm with the female ovum and not separately from the sperm or the ovum. During sexual intercourse normally 200-500 million sperms are deposited into the female birth canal. The sperms swim and reach site of mixing with ovum in 4-6 hours on an average time. Most of the sperms are lost in this journey. Chemical changes occur during this travel and sperms remove their protective covering from their heads while getting ready to release special chemicals from the heads in their attempts and preparation to penetrate into the ovum. Usually, only one sperm is allowed to fuse and mix with the ovum. (Ref. Maternity and Gynecology Care, Mosby Year Book Publishing Inc. St Louis Missouri USA Chapter 7, Page 162).

This shows man’s real position in the world and the position of the world for man. He is not like the trees and animals that the object of his creation be fulfilled on the earth itself, and he should die and perish here after he has played his appointed role over a period of time according to the law of nature. Furthermore, this world is neither a place of punishment for him, as the monks think, nor a place of rewards as the believers of the law of transmigration think, nor a place of entertainment and enjoyment, as the materialists think, nor a battlefield, as the followers of atheists think, but in fact it is a place of test and trial for him. That which he regards as his age, is in fact the time given to him for the test. Whatever powers and capabilities he has been given in the world, the things that have been placed under his control and authority, the various positions and capacities in which he functions, and the relationships that he enjoys with other people, all these are the countless manners of the test and this test continues till the last breath of his life. The result is not to be announced in this world but in the Hereafter when all his answer books will have been assessed, decision will be given whether he has come out successful or failed. And his success or failure wholly depends on what he thought of himself while he functioned here and how he answered the questions that were given to him here. If he believed that he had no God, or that he was the slave of many gods, and while answering the questions he thought that he was not to be held accountable before his Creator in the Hereafter, his whole lifework went wrong. And if he regarded himself as the slave of One God and worked in the way approved by God, with the accountability of the Hereafter always in view, he stood successful in the test. This theme has occurred at many places in the Quran.

The words sami (hearing) and baseer (seeing) in the original text actually imply being “sensible and intelligent”. These words of the Arabic language are never used in respect of the animal although it also hears and sees. Thus, hearing and seeing here do not imply the powers of hearing and seeing which have been given to the animals too, but those means through which man obtains knowledge and then draws conclusions from it. Besides, since hearing and seeing are among the most important means of knowledge for man, only these two have been mentioned briefly; otherwise it actually implies giving man all those senses of the body by which he gathers information. Then the senses given to man are quite different in their nature from those given to animals, for at the back of every sense he has a thinking brain, which collects information gained through the senses; arranges it, draws conclusions from it, forms opinions, and then takes some decisions which become the basis of his attitude and conduct in life. Hence, after saying, “We created man in order to try him,” to say, “therefore, We made him capable of hearing and seeing” actually contains the meaning that Allah gave him the faculties of knowledge and reason to enable him to take the test. Obviously, if this were not the meaning and the meaning of making man hearing and seeing just implied the one who could hear and see, then a blind and deaf person would stand exempted from the test, whereas unless a person is utterly devoid of knowledge and reason, there can be no question of his being exempted from the test.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, mixed. The words Mashaj and Mashij mean something that is mixed together. Ibn `Abbas said concerning Allah's statement, (from Nutfah Amshaj,) "This means the fluid of the man and the fluid of the woman when they meet and mix.'' Then man changes after this from stage to stage, condition to condition and color to color. `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Al-Hasan and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas all made statements similar to this. They said, "Amshaj is the mixing of the man's fluid with the woman's fluid.'' 

Concerning Allah's statement, (نَّبْتَلِيهِ in order to try him,) means, `We test him.' It is similar to Allah's statement, (That He may test you which of you is best in deed.) (67:2)

(so, We made him hearer and seer.) meaning, `We gave him the faculties of hearing and sight so that he would be able to use them for obedience and disobedience.'

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Mingled: the female ovum has to be fertilized with the male sperm before a new animal can be born. Man as an animal has this humble origin. But he has been given the gift of certain faculties of receiving instruction (typified by Hearing) and of intellectual and spiritual insight (typified by Sight). His life has therefore a meaning: with a certain amount of free-will, he is to be vicegerent on earth (ii. 30). But he must be trained and tried, and that is the whole problem of human life.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual word used is: اَمۡشَاج. It is the plural of مَشْج and مَشِيْج. The word اَمۡشَاج is among those words which in spite of being plural are used as an adjective for singular entities. The fact that a fertilized sperm is a blend may refer to the fact that it consists of various components and may also refer to the fact it is a blend of the sperm and ovular cells of a man and woman respectively.

The actual word is نَبۡتَلِیۡہِ. It is an accusative of state. The word اِبْتِلاَ according to the dictionary means “to evaluate and to judge.” Since to achieve this, a thing is turned and rotated about from side to side hence the meaning of making it pass from one phase to another was incorporated into it. These phases of human creation and development are mentioned in detail in the Qur’an verse 5 of Surah al-Ḥajj and verses 12-13 of Surah al-Mu’minun. The implication is that many phases passed before the drop of water transformed into a human being; in each phase, the Almighty evaluated it so that the capability that should appear in a particular phase is tested and then it enters the next phase.

 اِنَّا ہَدَیۡنٰہُ السَّبِیۡلَ اِمَّا شَاکِرًا وَّ اِمَّا کَفُوۡرًا  
( 3 )   Indeed, We guided him to the way, be he grateful or be he ungrateful.
That is, We did not just leave him to himself after giving him the powers of knowledge and reason, but We also guided him so that he knows which is the path of gratefulness and which of ungratefulness, so that whichever path he chooses in his later life, he himself is responsible for it. In Surah Al-Balad, the same subject has been expressed, thus “And We showed him both the conspicuous ways (of good and evil).” And in Surah Ash-Shams, thus: “By the human self, and by Him Who balanced it (with all the external and internal powers), then inspired it with its wickedness and its piety.” When all these explanations are kept in view, and also those detailed statements of the Quran in which it has been stated what arrangements Allah has made for man’s guidance in the world, it becomes evident that in this verse “We guided him to the way” does not imply any one form of guidance but many forms of it which are limitless and countless. For example:

(1) Along with the faculties of knowledge and reason, man has also been endowed with a moral sense by which he discerns between good and evil, regards some acts and qualities as evil even if he himself is involved in them, and regards some other acts and qualities as good even if he himself is avoiding them. So much so that even those people who for the satisfaction of their selfish motives and desires have invented philosophies by which they have justified many evils for themselves, protest loudly when they are themselves treated with the same evils by others, and then it becomes known that in spite of their false philosophies they actually regard them as evil. Likewise, when a man himself is benefited by a good treatment from another person, he is from within forced to commend and appreciate it even though he might be looking upon good acts and qualities as ignorance folly and antiquated things,

(2) In every man Allah has placed the faculty of conscience (the lawwamah), which checks and pricks him every time he is about to commit an evil, or is in the process of committing it, or has already committed it. However hard man may try to silence his conscience or make it insensitive, he does not have the power to destroy it completely. He may become shameless and prove himself to be absolutely devoid of the conscience, he may also try to deceive the world by argumentation, he may even invent a thousand excuses to justify his acts in order to deceive himself, but despite all this the censor, that Allah has placed in his nature, is so active and powerful that it does not let remain hidden from an evil person what he actually is. This same thing has been stated in Surah Al-Qiyamah, thus: “Man knows his own self best even though he may offer many excuses.” (Ayat 15).

(3) In man’s own self and outside of him, from the earth to the heavens, there lie scattered in the universe countless such signs which clearly show that all this could not happen without a God, nor could there be many gods to create this life and control and administer it. Likewise, these very signs, inside man and outside him, clearly point also to the Resurrection and Hereafter. If man shuts down his eyes on them, or refuses to ponder over them intelligently, or avoids to admit the truths which they point out, he himself would be to blame. For Allah has shown no negligence in laying out every possible sign of the truth for the guidance of man.

(4) Man does come across in his own life, and in the contemporary world and in the experiences of past history, countless such incidents which prove that a supreme power is ruling over him and the entire universe, before Whom he is absolutely powerless, whose Will is dominant over everything and whose help he needs at every moment. These experiences and observations which point to the truth do not exist only outside him but in man’s own nature as well there exists the evidence of the existence of the supreme power on the basis of which even the most confirmed atheist spreads out his hands in prayer before God when in distress, and the most hardened polytheist abandons all false gods and starts invoking One God only for help.

(5) Man’s intellect and his nature assert positively that crime ought to be punished and good deeds ought to be rewarded. On this very basis in every society of the world a system of the courts is established in one form or another. The services and works, which are regarded as commendable are also rewarded in one way or another. This is a clear proof of the fact that there is a necessary relationship between morality and the law of retribution, which man cannot possibly deny. Now, if it is admitted that in this world there are countless such crimes which cannot be punished at all to say nothing of punishing them fully and adequately, and there are also countless such virtues, which cannot be rewarded at all, to say nothing of rewarding them fully and adequately, there is no alternative but to acknowledge the Hereafter. Unless, of course, a foolish person may assume, or a stubborn person may insist on having the opinion, that man who has been endowed with the concept of justice, has taken birth in a world which in itself is devoid of the concept of justice; and then it remains for him to answer the question as to how and wherefrom this man, who was born in such a world, obtained this concept of justice.

To reinforce these means of guidance Allah sent Messengers and revealed Books in the world for the purpose of giving clear and definite guidance to man. In these Books it was clearly explained what is the way of gratefulness and what is the way of ungratefulness and unbelief and what will be the consequences of following either way. The teaching brought by the Prophets and the Books has spread throughout the world in countless perceptible, and imperceptible ways, on such a large scale that no section of human population has remained unaware of the concept of God and the Hereafter, of the distinction between good and evil, and of the moral principles and legal rulings presented by them, whether it knows or does not know that it has obtained this knowledge only through the teachings of the Prophets and the Books they brought. Even those who disbelieve in the Prophets and the Books today, or are unaware of them, also are following many of those things which have reached to them actually through their teachings while they do not know what is the real source of these teachings. 

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Allah says, (Verily, We guided to him the way,) meaning, `We explained it to him, made it clear to him and showed it to him.' 

This is as Allah says, (And as for Thamud, We guided them but they preferred blindness to guidance.) (41:17) Allah also said, (And We guided him to the two ways.) (90:10) meaning, `We explained to him the path of good and the path of evil.' This is the statement of `Ikrimah, `Atiyah, Ibn Zayd and Mujahid from what is well-known from him and the majority. 

Allah then says, (Whether he be grateful or ungrateful.) This is his decree. Thus, with this he is either wretched or happy. This is like what has been recorded by Muslim in a Hadith from Abu Malik Al-Ash`ari. He said that the Messenger of Allah said, (All of mankind wakes up in the morning the merchant of his own soul. So he either imprisons it or sets it free. )

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Besides the gift of the faculties, Man has been shown the Way by means of Revelation, through men of the highest spiritual standing. If he is grateful, he will accept Guidance, be of the Righteous, and join the company of the Blessed. If not, he puts chains round himself, thus burdening himself with sin, and gets into the Blazing Fire of Punishment. See next verse. His choice rests on his will.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: I.e., God has not only endowed man with "hearing and sight", i.e., with reason and the instinctive ability to discern between right and wrong, good and evil (cf. 90:10), but He also actively guides him by means of the revelation bestowed on the prophets.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This is a comprehensive expression of the higher faculties of man like the faculties of sense and reason. It is this which makes him distinct among God’s creations and has been given the freedom on exercising his will on this very basis.

This is the consequence of making man someone who sees and hears. In the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi he has become a witness to good and evil before his own self and is left with no excuse to adopt the path of evil. (See: Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 109)

This is a mention of man’s freedom to exercise his will and intention.

اِنَّاۤ اَعۡتَدۡنَا لِلۡكٰفِرِيۡنَ سَلٰسِلَا۟ وَاَغۡلٰلًا وَّسَعِيۡرًا‏ 
( 4 )   Indeed, We have prepared for the disbelievers chains and shackles and a blaze.
Cf. xiii. 5; xxxiv. 33 and xl. 71.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: ([Now,] behold, for those who deny the truth   We have readied chains and shackles, and a blazing flame) In this context, the "denial of the truth" (kufr) apparently relates to man's deliberate suppression of his inborn cognition of God's existence (cf. 7:172) as well as to his disregard of his own instinctive perceptions of good and evil.

Sc., "of despair". For the metaphor of "shackles and chains" - i.e., the consequence of the sinners' blind surrender to their own passions and to false values, and the resulting enslavement of their spirit.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: The Recompense of the Disbelievers and the Righteous - Allah informs of what he has waiting for those who disbelieve in Him from His creatures of chains, iron collars and Sa`ir. Sa`ir is the flame and fire of the Hell. This is as Allah says, (When iron collars will be rounded over their necks, and the chains, they shall be dragged along, in the boiling water, then they will be burned in the Fire.) (40:71,72) 

After mentioning the blazing Fire He has prepared for these wretched people, Allah goes on to say: 

اِنَّ الۡاَبۡرَارَ يَشۡرَبُوۡنَ مِنۡ كَاۡسٍ كَانَ مِزَاجُهَا كَافُوۡرًا​ۚ‏ 
( 5 )   Indeed, the righteous will drink from a cup [of wine] whose mixture is of Kafur,
The word abrar as used in the original implies the people who have done full justice to their Lord’s obedience, have carried out the duties enjoined by Him and abstained from the things forbidden by Him.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (Verily, the Abrar (righteous believers) shall drink of a cup mixed with Kafur.) The properties of the Kafur (camphor) are well known; cooling, having a nice fragrance and in addition to this its taste will be delicious in Paradise. Al-Hasan said, "The coolness of the camphor will be in the pleasantness of ginger.'' 

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Kafur is literally Camphor. It is a fountain in the Realms of Bliss. It is a seasoning added to the Cup of pure, beatific Wine, which causes no intoxication (lvi. 18- 19), but stands for all that is wholesome, agreeable, and refreshing. Camphor is cool and refreshing, and is given as a soothing tonic in Eastern medicine. In minute doses its odour and flavour are also agreeable.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: The Lisan al-'Arab gives "the calyx (kimm) of the grape before its flowering" as the primary significance of kafur; according to other lexicologists (e.g., Taj al-'Arus), it denotes "the calyx of any flower"; Jawhari applies it to the "spathe of a palm tree". Hence, this - and not "camphor" - is evidently the meaning of kafur in the above context: an allusion to the sweet, extremely delicate fragrance of the symbolic "drink" of divine knowledge (cf. {83:25-28}).

عَيۡنًا يَّشۡرَبُ بِهَا عِبَادُ اللّٰهِ يُفَجِّرُوۡنَهَا تَفۡجِيۡرًا‏
( 6 )   A spring of which the [righteous] servants of Allah will drink; they will make it gush forth in force [and abundance].
That is, it will not be camphor-mixed water but a natural fountain, the purity, coolness and agreeable odor of its water will resemble camphor.

Although the words ibad Allah (servants of Allah), or ibad ar-Rehman (servants of ar-Rehman), can be used for all men literally, for every human being is God’s servant, yet wherever these words occur in the Quran they only imply the righteous men. In other words, the wicked ones who have excused themselves from Allah’s servitude do not deserve that Allah should honor them with the honorable title of ibad-Allah or ibad ar-Rehman, attributing them to His own Holy Name.

It does not mean that they will use spades and picks to dig out its channels and will take out its branches whithersoever they please, but that their one single command and desire will be enough to cause a fountain to gush forth from wherever they please in Paradise.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (A spring wherefrom the servants of Allah will drink, causing it to gush forth abundantly.) meaning, this (drink) that will be mixed for these righteous people will be taken from Kafur, which is a spring that Allah's close servants will drink directly from, without it being mixed with anything, and they will drink to their fill from it. The word Yashrabu (to drink) includes the meaning of Yarwa (to quench one's thirst). 

Allah then says, (causing it to gush forth abundantly (Tafjir).) meaning, they will have control of it however and wherever they wish. They will have access to it from their castles, their homes, their sitting rooms and their residences. At-Tafjir means to cause to gush forth or flow out. 

This is as Allah says, (And they say: "We shall not believe in you until you cause a spring to gush forth from the earth for us.) (17:90) 

And Allah says, (We caused a river to gush forth in the midst of them.) (18:33) 

Mujahid said, (causing it to gush forth abundantly.) "This means that they will divert it to wherever they wish.'' `Ikrimah and Qatadah both made similar statements. Ath-Thawri said, "They will cause it to flow wherever they wish.''

يُوۡفُوۡنَ بِالنَّذۡرِ وَيَخَافُوۡنَ يَوۡمًا كَانَ شَرُّهٗ مُسۡتَطِيۡرًا‏ 
( 7 )   They [are those who] fulfill [their] vows and fear a Day whose evil will be widespread.
One meaning of fulfilling the vow is that one should fulfill. The second, that one should fulfill what one has pledged oneself to do. The third, that one should fulfill what one has been enjoined; what is obligatory for one to do, whether one has been enjoined it, or is self imposed. Of these three the second meaning is the best known and generally the same is implied by fulfilling the vow. In any case, these righteous people have been regarded as praiseworthy either because they carry out the duties enjoined by Allah, or because if they vow to Allah to perform certain good deeds which Allah has not enjoined on them, they fulfill even those self imposed vows, not to speak of showing any negligence in carrying out the duties which Allah has actually enjoined on them.

As for the commandments concerning the vow, it would be useful to explain at length here so as to enable the people to avoid the errors and rid themselves of the misunderstandings with regard to fulfilling the vow and learn the correct rules pertaining to it.

(1) The jurists have mentioned four kinds of the vow: (a) that one should pledge to Allah that he would perform such and such a good act to earn His good pleasure; (b) that one should make a vow that he would perform such and such a good act in gratitude to Allah if He fulfilled his such and such wish and desire or need. Both these kinds of the vow have been termed nadhr tabarrur (i.e. vows for a good cause) by the jurists, and it is agreed by all that it is obligatory to fulfill them; (c) That one should pledge to do an unlawful thing or to refrain from an obligatory thing; (d) that one should bind oneself to do a permissible thing, or to refrain from an obligatory thing, or pledge to do an unworthy thing. These two kinds of the vow have been termed nadhr lajaj (i.e. vow of ignorance, disputation and stubbornness) by the jurists. About the third kind of the vow (c), it is agreed that it does not take place at all; and about the fourth kind of the vow (d), the juristic opinion is divided. Some jurists say that it should be fulfilled; some others say that one should expiate the breaking of the oath, and still others that one has the option to fulfill the vow or to expiate it. According to the Shafeis and the Malikis this vow does not take place at all, and according to the Hanafis both these kinds of the vow entail expiation.

(2) Several Ahadith show that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has forbidden making a vow with a view to changing the destiny, or with a view to making an offer to Allah that if He fulfilled his such and such wish, he would perform such and such good act, not in gratitude to Allah, but in exchange for His help. Abdullah bin Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) has reported that once the Prophet (peace be upon him), while he forbade the making of a vow, said; “It cannot avert anything which is about to befall, but through it something is extracted from the miserly person.” The last sentence of the Hadith means: The miserly person is not prone to spend anything in the cause of Allah; because of the vow he gives away something in charity in the greed that Allah would accept his offer and change his destiny for him. Another tradition from Abdullah bin Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) is to the effect; The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: the vow can neither hasten anything nor defer anything, but through it something is extracted from the miserly person. In another tradition he says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade making of the vow and said: “It does not bring any good, but it is a means whereby something is extracted from the miserly person.” Several traditions on the same subject have been related by Muslim from Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), and in one tradition which both Bukhari and Muslim have related, he reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “As a matter of fact, the vow cannot bring the son of Adam anything which Allah has not ordained for him, but the vow sometimes coincides with the destiny itself and through it the divine will takes out from the possession of the miserly person that which he was not inclined to give away willingly.” This same theme is further explained by the tradition of Abdullah bin Amr bin Aas according to which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “True vow is that whereby Allah’s goodwill and approval may be sought.”

(3) Another rule that the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave concerning the vow is that only that vow should be fulfilled, which is in obedience to Allah; the vow made in disobedience to Allah should never be fulfilled. Likewise, there can be no vow concerning a thing which is not in his power to perform. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) has reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The one who made a vow that he would obey Allah, should obey Him, and the one who made a vow that he would disobey Allah, should not disobey.” Thabit bin Dahhak says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There can be no question of fulfilling a vow made in the disobedience of Allah, nor in something which is not in his possession.” Muslim has related a tradition on the same subject from Imran bin Husain; and in Abu Daud a tradition has been reported in greater detail from Abdullah bin Amr bin Aas, saying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “No vow and no oath is of any use in an act which is not in the power of man to perform, or which involves disobedience of Allah, or severance of relations with kindred.”

(4) One should not fulfill a vow which is made to perform an act which is of no good in itself, which is useless, or involves unbearable hardship or self torture, and might have been self imposed as an act of virtue. In this connection, the sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are very clear and definite. Abdullah bin Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) says that once when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was giving a sermon, he saw a man who was standing in the sun. He asked who he was and why he was standing in the sun. The people said that he was Abu Israil: he had vowed that he would keep standing and would not sit, nor take shade, nor speak to anybody, and would keep fasting. Thereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Tell him to speak, to come in the shade and sit, but to observe the fast.” Uqbah bin Amir Juhani says: “My sister vowed that she would go for Hajj barefoot and also vowed that she would not cover her head with a garment during the journey. The Prophet said: Tell her to go by a conveyance and to cover her head.” Muslim has related several traditions on this subject with a little variation in wordings. Abdullah bin Abbas reporting the incident concerning Uqbah bin Amir's sister, has reported the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) words to the effect: “Allah has no need of her vow: tell her to use a conveyance.” In another tradition Ibn Abbas says, “A man said: My sister has vowed to go and perform Hajj on foot. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “Allah has no need that your sister should undergo hardship. She should go for Hajj by a conveyance.” Anas bin Malik has reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw, probably during the Hajj journey, an old man being supported between his two sons. When he asked what was the matter with him, it was said that the old man had vowed to go on foot. Thereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah is free from this that the man should place himself in agony. Then he commanded him to ride.”

(5) If it is not practically possible to fulfill a vow, it may be fulfilled in some other way. Jabir bin Abdullah says: “On the day of the conquest of Makkah, a man stood up and said: O Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah, I had vowed that if Allah made Makkah fall at your hand, I would pray two rakahs in Bait al-Maqdis (Jerusalem). The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, say the prayer here. He again asked the same thing and the Prophet (peace be upon him) again gave the same reply. When he asked it again, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: All right, as you please.” According to another tradition, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “By Him Who has sent Muhammad with the truth, if you pray here it will suffice for you instead of your praying at Bait al Maqdis.”

(6) The opinion among the jurists is divided concerning the person who vows to give away all his possessions for the cause of Allah. Imam Malik says that he should give away one third of his possessions, and Sahnun from among the Malikis has expressed the opinion that he should give away so much of his possessions as does not subject him to hardship later. Imam Shafei says that if the vow is of the nature of tabarrur (i.e. for a good cause), he should give away all his possessions, and if it is of the nature of lajaj (i.e. a vow of ignorance), he has the option to fulfill the vow or to expiate the oath. Imam Abu Hanifah says that he should give away all such possessions as are subject to zakat, but the vow will not apply to those possessions which are exempt from zakat, e.g. house, or other such properties. Imam Zufar from among the Hanafis is of the opinion that he should give away everything in charity after he has taken out two months’ maintenance for his family.

Hadrat Kaab bin Malik says: “When I was granted forgiveness for incurring Allah’s displeasure for staying behind on the occasion of the Battle of Tabuk, I went before the Prophet (peace be upon him) and submitted: My repentance also included that I would give away all my possessions in charity for the sake of Allah and His Messenger. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: No, do not do that. I said, then half of the possessions? He said: No. I said, then one third of the possessions? He replied: Yes. According to another tradition, the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “Withhold some of your possessions for yourself: this would be better for you.” Imam Zuhri says: “Information has reached to me that Abu Lubabah (who had similarly incurred displeasure in connection with the battle of Tabuk) said to the Prophet (peace be upon him): “I shall give away all my possessions for the sake of Allah and His Messenger in charity.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “For you it would be enough to give away only one third of it.”

(7) Should a person who vowed to perform a good act before embracing Islam, fulfill it after he has embraced Islam? The Prophet’s (peace be upon him) ruling in this connection is that he should fulfill it. According to a tradition in Abu Daud and Tahavi, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) is reported to have vowed in the pre Islamic days that he would observe itikaf (devotional seclusion) in the Masjid al-Haram (for one night, or according to others, one day). After embracing Islam when he asked for the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) ruling, he replied: “Fulfill your vow.” Some jurists have taken this ruling of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to mean that it is obligatory to do so, and some others that it is commendable.

(8) About the question whether the heirs are under obligation to fulfill a vow made by the deceased person or not, the juristic opinion is divided. Imam Ahmad, Ishaq bin Rahawaih, Abu Thaur and the Zahiris say that if the deceased person had vowed to observe the fasting or perform the prayer but could not fulfill the vow, the heirs have to fulfill it. The Hanafis say that if the vow pertained to a bodily worship (e.g. the prayer or the fasting), the heirs are under no obligation to fulfill it, and if it pertained to monetary worship and the deceased did not leave any will for his heirs to fulfill it, they are again under no obligation to fulfill it, but if he left a will, it will be obligatory for the heirs to fulfill it from his inheritance up to one third of its extent. The Maliki viewpoint also is somewhat the same. The Shafeis say that if the vow pertains to a non monetary worship, or if it pertains to a monetary worship and the deceased person did not leave any inheritance, the heirs are under no obligation to fulfill it; and if the deceased left some inheritance, the heirs would be bound to fulfill the vow pertaining to a monetary worship, no matter whether the dying person left a will or not. In the Hadith there is a tradition from Abdullah bin Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) on this subject to the effect: Saad bin Ubadah asked for the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) verdict, saying: My mother has died and she had made a vow which she could not fulfill. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Fulfill the vow on her behalf. Another tradition from Ibn Abbas is to the effect: A woman went on a sea journey and vowed that if she returned home safe and sound, she would observe fast for a month. On her return home she died. Her sister or her daughter came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) to ask for his decision. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “Observe the fast on her behalf.” Abu Daud has related another tradition with the same content from Buraidah, saying: “A woman asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) a similar thing and he gave the same reply as mentioned above.” Since these traditions are not explicit as to whether the rulings the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave pertained to its being obligatory or commendable, and since about the vow made by Saad bin Ubadah’s mother also it is not clear whether it pertained to a monetary worship, or a bodily worship, there have arisen differences among the jurists on this question.

(9) As for an unlawful vow it is clear that it should not be fulfilled. However, there is a difference of opinion as to whether it entails expiation or not. On this point, since the traditions differ, the juristic opinion is also divided. According to one kind of the traditions the Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded the person concerned to make the expiation. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) has reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: There is no vow in the disobedience of Allah, and its expiation is the expiation of breaking the oath. In the case of Uqbah bin Amir Juhani’s sister (mentioned above), the Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded that she should break her vow and fast for three days. In the case of another woman also who had vowed to go for Hajj on foot, he commanded that she should go by a conveyance and should make expiation for the oath. Ibn Abbas has reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The one who made a vow but did not specify what the vow was about, should expiate for the oath, and the one who made a vow to perform a sinful act, should expiate for the oath, and the one who made a vow to perform something which he does not have the power to perform, should expiate for the oath, and the one who made a vow to do something which he can do, should fulfill it. On the other hand, there are the traditions which show that there is no expiation in this case. The person who had vowed that he would stand in the sun and would not speak to anyone. Making a reference to him in Muwatta, Imam Malik writes: “I could not know by any means whether the Prophet (peace be upon him) besides commanding him to break the vow might also have told him to make the expiation. Abdullah bin Amr bin Aas has reported that the Prophet said: “If one swearing an oath for something later finds that another thing was better than that, he should abandon it and should adopt the better course and the abandonment itself is the expiation.” Baihaqi says that this Hadith and Abu Hurairah’s this tradition: “He should adopt the better course and this is its expiation” are not established. Imam Nawawi discussing these traditions of the Hadith in his commentary of Sahih Muslim writes: “Imam Malik, Shafei, Abu Hanifah, Daud, Zahiri and other scholars say that the vow made to do a sinful thing is void and ineffectual and it does not entail any expiation if not fulfilled, but lmam Ahmad says that it entails expiation.”

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (They fulfill vows, and they fear a Day whose evil will be wide-spreading.) meaning, they devote to worship Allah using that which He made obligatory upon them from actions of obligatory obedience that is based on Islamic legislation. They also worship Him by fulfilling their vows. 

Imam Malik reported from Talhah bin `Abdul-Malik Al-Ayli, who reported from Al-Qasim bin Malik, from `A'ishah that the Messenger of Allah said, (Whoever makes a vow to obey Allah, then he should obey Him. And whoever makes a vow to disobey Allah, then he should not disobey Him.) Al-Bukhari also recorded this Hadith from Malik. These people also abandon those forbidden things which He (Allah) has prohibited for them, due to their fear of having an evil reckoning on the Day of Return. This is the Day when the evil will spread out among all people except for those upon whom Allah has had mercy. Ibn `Abbas said, "Spreading.'' Qatadah said, "By Allah! The evil of that Day will spread until it fills the heavens and the earth.''

Yusuf Ali Explanation: They: i.e., the Righteous: they are known in the present life by the virtues described in verses 7-10, and in the life of the Hereafter they will enjoy the Bliss described in verses 11-22.

Cf. xxii. 29. The vows must be vows of spiritual service, which of course includes service to humanity, such as is mentioned in the next verse. They are Devotees of Allah, and they must perform all vows and contracts (v. I and n. 682). Vows of the Pagan sort, savouring of a sort of "bribe" to the Deity, are not approved.

That is, they prepare for the Judgment to come, where the effects of Sin will not be transitory but far-reaching.

وَيُطۡعِمُوۡنَ الطَّعَامَ عَلٰى حُبِّهٖ مِسۡكِيۡنًا وَّيَتِيۡمًا وَّاَسِيۡرًا‏ 
( 8 )   And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive,
Most of the commentators hold the view that the pronoun in hubbi-hi refers to food. Accordingly, they interpret the sentence to mean: “In spite of the food’s being agreeable and tasty and that they need it, they give it away to others.” Ibn Abbas and Mujahid say: They do so because of their fondness for feeding the poor (ala hubb-il-it am); and Fudail bin Iyad and Abu Suleman ad-Darani say: They do so out of love for Allah. In our opinion the sentence in the next Ayat “We feed you only for the sake of Allah” supports the last meaning.

The custom in the ancient days was that the prisoners were put in fetters and shackles and taken out daily to go about the streets begging food. Later the Islamic government abolished this custom. In this verse, the captive implies every such person who is in bondage, whether he is an unbeliever, a Muslim, a war prisoner, or imprisoned in consequence of a crime, and whether he is provided food in that state, or made to beg for it. In any case, to feed a helpless person who cannot do anything to earn a living is an act of great virtue.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The captive: when taken literally, it refers to the old state of things when captives of war had to earn their own food, or their own redemption; even ordinary prisoners in jail for criminal offences often starved unless food was provided for them by private friends or from their own earnings.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Or, as in 2:177, "however much they themselves may cherish [i.e., "need"] it"; cf. also {90:14-16}. It is to be noted that in this context the concept of "giving food" comprises every kind of help and care, both material and moral.

The term asir denotes anyone who is a "captive" either literally (e.g., a prisoner) or figuratively, i.e., a captive of circumstances which render him helpless; thus, the Prophet said, "Thy debtor is thy captive; be, therefore, truly kind to thy captive" (Zamakhshari, Razi, et al.). The injunction of kindness towards all who are in need of help - and therefore "captive" in one sense or another - applies to believers and non-believers alike (Tabari, Zamakhshari), and apparently also to animals dependent on man.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (And they give food, inspite of their love for it,) It has been said that this means the love of Allah, the Most High. In their view the pronoun refers to Allah. However, the most apparent meaning is that the pronoun refers to the food. This would mean, they give food while they themselves love it and desire it. This was stated by Mujahid and Muqatil, and it was the preferred opinion of Ibn Jarir.

This is similar to Allah's statement, (And gives his wealth, in spite of love for it.) (2:177) Allah also says, (By no means shall you attain Al-Birr unless you spend of that which you love.) (3:92) 

In the Sahih, there is a Hadith which states, (The best charity is that which you give while you are healthy, covetous, hoping for wealth and fearing poverty.) This means in the condition of your love for wealth, your eagerness for it and your need for it. Thus, Allah says, (And they give food, inspite of their love for it, to the poor, the orphan and the captive,) Concerning the poor person and the orphan, an explanation of them and their characteristics has already preceded. In reference to the captive, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Al-Hasan and Ad-Dahhak all said, "He is the captive among the people of the Qiblah (i.e., the Muslims).'' Ibn `Abbas said, "At that time (when this Ayah was revealed) their (the Muslims') captives were idolators.'' Proof for this is that on the day of Badr the Messenger of Allah commanded his Companions to treat the captives respectfully. They (the Companions) would give them preference over themselves when eating their meals. `Ikrimah said, "They (captives) are the slaves.'' Ibn Jarir preferred this opinion since the Ayah generally refers to both the Muslim and the idolators. Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ata', Al-Hasan and Qatadah all made similar statements. The Messenger of Allah advised treating servants well in more than one Hadith. 

This held such importance with him that the last statement of advice that he gave (before dying) was his saying, (The prayer (As-Salah) and what your right hand possesses (slaves).) Mujahid said, "He (the captive) is the prisoner.'' This means that these (righteous) people give food to others even though they themselves desire it and love it, saying at the same time:

اِنَّمَا نُطۡعِمُكُمۡ لِـوَجۡهِ اللّٰهِ لَا نُرِيۡدُ مِنۡكُمۡ جَزَآءً وَّلَا شُكُوۡرًا‏ 
( 9 )   [Saying], "We feed you only for the countenance of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude.
Although feeding a poor man is in itself a great virtue, yet fulfilling the other needs of an indigent person is no less virtuous. For example, to clothe a poor man, to arrange treatment for a sick person, or to help a debtor who is harassed by his creditor, is an act of equally great virtue. Here, a particular kind of virtue in view of its importance has been presented only as an example, but the real object is to stress giving help to the needy.

It is not necessary that this may be said in so many words while feeding the poor man. It may be said in the heart; in the sight of Allah this is as meritorious as saying it with the tongue. But saying these words with the tongue has been particularly mentioned so as to set the person being helped at ease that no thanks or recompense is due from him, so that he eats with full satisfaction and peace of mind.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (We feed you seeking Allah's Face only.) meaning, hoping for the reward of Allah and His pleasure. (We wish for no reward, nor thanks from you.) meaning, `we do not seek any reward from you in return for it. We also are not seeking for you to thank us in front of the people.' Mujahid and Sa`id bin Jubayr both said, "By Allah! They do not say this with their tongues, but rather, Allah knows it in their hearts and He commends them for it. Every seeker should seek after this.''

اِنَّا نَخَافُ مِنۡ رَّبِّنَا يَوۡمًا عَبُوۡسًا قَمۡطَرِيۡرًا‏ 
( 10 )   Indeed, We fear from our Lord a Day austere and distressful."

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, `we only do this so that perhaps Allah may have mercy on us and treat us with gentleness on the Day that is `Abus and Qamtarir.' `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn `Abbas, "`Abus means difficult and Qamtarir means long.'' 

`Ikrimah and others said from Ibn Abbas, (a Day that is `Abus and Qamtarir (hard and distressful, that will make the faces look horrible from extreme dislike to it.)) "The disbeliever will frown on that day until sweat will flow between his eyes like tar.'' Mujahid said, "Abus `Abis means (frowning with) the two lips and Qamtarir means drawing up the face in a scowl.'' Sa`id bin Jubayr and Qatadah said, "Faces will be made to frown due to dismay. Qamtarir is the contraction of the forehead and what is between the two eyes due to dismay.'' Ibn Zayd said, " `Abus is the evil and Qamtarir is the severity.''

Yusuf Ali Explanation: It is a Day of Distress for sin and evil. But the truly righteous are not self- righteous. They have the fear of Allah in their minds: they know they are human, and they fear lest they should be found wanting in the sight of Allah. But Allah in His Mercy gives them a bountiful Reward.

فَوَقٰٮهُمُ اللّٰهُ شَرَّ ذٰلِكَ الۡيَوۡمِ وَ لَقّٰٮهُمۡ نَضۡرَةً وَّسُرُوۡرًا​ۚ‏  
( 11 )   So Allah will protect them from the evil of that Day and give them radiance and happiness
Radiance and joy: radiance of the face and joy of the heart. In other words, all the severities and terrors of the Day of Resurrection will be meant only for the disbelievers and the culprits. The righteous will on that Day remain immune from every hardship and will be well pleased with their lot. The same theme has been expressed in ( Surah AlAnbiya: Ayat 103), thus: The time of great fright will not trouble them at all; the angels will rush forth to receive them, saying: this is the Day that you were promised; and in (Surah An-Naml: Ayat 89) thus: He who brings good deeds, will have a reward better than that, and such people shall be secure from the terror of that Day.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Some Details concerning the Reward of the Righteous in Paradise and what it contains of Delights - Allah says, (So, Allah saved them from the evil of that Day, and gave them Nadrah (a light of beauty) and joy.) This is used as a way of eloquence in stating similarity (i.e., two similar things).

(So, Allah saved them from the evil of that Day,) meaning, He protects them from that which they fear of it.

(and gave them Nadrah (a light of beauty)) meaning, in their faces.

(And joy) in their hearts. Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Qatadah, Abu `Aliyah and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas all stated this. This is similar to Allah's statement, (Some faces that Day will be bright, laughing, rejoicing at good news.) This is because if the heart is happy, then the face will be enlightened. As Ka`b bin Malik said in his lengthy Hadith about Allah's Messenger , whenever he was happy, then his face will be radiant until it will be as if it is a piece of the moon. `A'ishah said, "The Messenger of Allah entered into my home happy and his facial expression was glowing.'' And the Hadith continues. Allah then says:

وَجَزٰٮهُمۡ بِمَا صَبَرُوۡا جَنَّةً وَّحَرِيۡرًا ۙ‏ 
( 12 )   And will reward them for what they patiently endured [with] a garden [in Paradise] and silk [garments].
Here the word sabr (patience) has been used in a very comprehensive sense. The whole worldly life of the righteous believers in fact has been described as a life of patience. From the time a man attains discretion, or believes, till death; his suppressing of unlawful desires, adhering to the bounds set by Allah, carrying out the duties enjoined by Him, sacrificing his time, his wealth, his effort, powers and abilities, even his life if so required, ignoring every greed and temptation, which might turn him away from Allah’s way, meeting every danger and enduring every hardship faced on the way of the truth, giving up every gain and pleasure accruing from unlawful ways and means, bearing every loss and suffering and affliction incurred on account of his love for truth, and doing all this with full faith in the promise of Allah that He will bless the doer with the fruits of this righteous conduct not in this world but in the second life after death, turns the whole life of a believer into a life of patience, eternal and perpetual patience, all pervasive and life long patience.

Ruku One:Verses 13-22 talk of Exemplary life in paradise for those who choose to believe.

مُّتَّكِـئِـيۡنَ فِيۡهَا عَلَى الۡاَرَآئِكِ​ۚ لَا يَرَوۡنَ فِيۡهَا شَمۡسًا وَّلَا زَمۡهَرِيۡرًا​ۚ‏ 
( 13 )   [They will be] reclining therein on adorned couches. They will not see therein any [burning] sun or [freezing] cold.

Yusuf Ali Explanation The sun and the moon as we know them will be no longer there. It will be a new world on a different plane. But to give us an idea of comfort we recall the excessive heat of the sun especially in tropical climates, and the excessive cold of the moon especially in northern climates, and we negative them both. That is, the temperature will be just that delightful one that is most agreeable to our sensations as we know them now. The moon is not mentioned, but Zamharir  زَمۡهَرِيۡرً (excessive cold) is sometimes used for the moon.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Allah tells us about the people of Paradise and the eternal delights they will experience, as well as the comprehensive favors that they will be given. 

Allah says, (Reclining therein on raised couches.) This has already been discussed in Surat As-Saffat and the difference of opinion about the meaning of reclining. Is it lying down, reclining on the elbows, sitting down cross-legged, or being firmly seated We have also mentioned that the Al-Ara'ik are couches beneath curtained canopies. 

Concerning Allah's statement, (they will see there neither the excessive heat, nor the excessive bitter cold.) meaning, there will be no disturbing heat with them, nor any painful cold, rather there will only be one climate that will be always and eternal and they will not want it to be changed.

وَدَانِيَةً عَلَيۡهِمۡ ظِلٰلُهَا وَذُلِّلَتۡ قُطُوۡفُهَا تَذۡلِيۡلًا‏ 
( 14 )   And near above them are its shades, and its [fruit] to be picked will be lowered in compliance.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (And the shade thereof is close upon them.) meaning, the branches will be close to them.(And the bunches of fruit thereof will hang low within their reach.) meaning, whenever he attempts to get any fruit, it will come nearer to him and come down from its highest branch as if it hears and obeys.

This is as Allah says in another Ayah, (And fruits of the two gardens will be near at hand.) (55:54) Allah also says, (The fruits in bunches whereof will be low and near at hand.) (69:23) 

Mujahid said, (And the bunches of fruit thereof will hang low within their reach.) "If he stands it will rise with him an equal amount, if he sits it will lower itself for him so that he can reach it and if he lies down it will lower itself for him more so that he can reach it. So this is Allah's statement, (will hang low within their reach). '' Qatadah said, "No thorn or distance will repel their hands away from it (the fruit).''

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Without sun and moon there will of course be no shade in the literal sense of the word. But for full comfort, there will be sheltering shade for rest and change from whatever light there be.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Regarding the allegorical implication of the term "shades" (zilal), see 4:57 [The primary meaning of zill is "shade", and so the expression zill zalil could be rendered as "most shading shade" - i.e., "dense shade". However, in ancient Arabic usage, the word zill denotes also "a covering" or "a shelter" and, figuratively, "protection" (Raghib); and, finally, "a state of ease, pleasure and plenty" (cf. Lane V, 1915 f.), or simply "happiness" - and in the combination of zill zalil, "abundant happiness" (Razi) - which seems to agree best with the allegorical implications of the term "paradise".].

It is to be noted that the existence of shade presupposes the existence of light (Jawhari), which latter is one of the characteristics implicit in the concept of "paradise".

وَيُطَافُ عَلَيۡهِمۡ بِاٰنِيَةٍ مِّنۡ فِضَّةٍ وَّاَكۡوَابٍ كَانَتۡ قَوَارِيۡرَا۟ ۙ‏  
( 15 )   And there will be circulated among them vessels of silver and cups having been [created] clear [as glass],
According to (Surah Az-Zukhruf: Ayat 71), vessels of gold shall be passed round to them, but here of silver. This shows that vessels of gold as well as of silver shall be passed round to them as required by the occasion.

That is, though silver, it will be as transparent as glass, vessels of this kind of transparent, crystal like silver will be the special characteristic of the vessels in which drinks will be served to the people of Paradise.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (And among them will be passed round vessels of silver and cups of crystal) meaning, servants will go around them with containers of food made of silver and cups of drink. These are drinking vessels that do not have handles or spouts. 

Then Allah says, ((Qawarir) Crystal-clear, made of silver.) Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Al-Hasan Al-Basri and others have all said, "It (Qawarir) is the whiteness of silver in the transparency of glass.'' Qawarir is only made of glass. So these cups are made of silver, but due to their fine thinness, what is inside of them will be visible from outside of them (as if they are glass). This is among the things of which there is nothing like in this world. 

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Cf. xliii. 71, where "dishes and goblets of gold" are mentioned. The idea conveyed is that of rarity, preciousness, and spotless splendour.

قَوَارِيۡرَا۟ مِنۡ فِضَّةٍ قَدَّرُوۡهَا تَقۡدِيۡرًا‏ 
( 16 )   Clear glasses [made] from silver of which they have determined the measure.
“In due measure”: filled accurately according to the desire of every person, neither over-filled nor under-filled. In other words, the attendants of the dwellers of Paradise will be so judicious and discerning that they will have accurate judgment about everybody whom they serve wine as to how much of it he wishes to drink. (For the characteristics of the wine of Paradise, see explanation of (Surah As-Saaffat: Ayats 45-47), ( Surah Muhammad: Ayat 15), (Surah At-Tur: Ayat 23), (Surah Al-Waqiah: Ayat 19).

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, according to the amount that will quench their thirst. It will not be more than that nor less than it, rather it will be prepared in an amount that is suitable for quenching the thirst of their drinkers. This is the meaning of the statement of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Salih, Qatadah, Ibn Abza, `Abdullah bin `Ubayd bin `Umayr, Ash-Sha`bi and Ibn Zayd. This was stated by Ibn Jarir and others. This is the most excellent provision, distinction and honor.

​ ​ وَيُسۡقَوۡنَ فِيۡهَا كَاۡسًا كَانَ مِزَاجُهَا زَنۡجَبِيۡلًا ۚ‏ 
( 17 )   And they will be given to drink a cup [of wine] whose mixture is of ginger

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Cf. above, lxxvi. 5-6, and n. 5835, where the Cup of Kafur (Camphor) was mentioned for coolness and refreshment to the Righteous, who had just passed the great Event of Judgment. The second stage is described in verses 12-14, when they enter the Garden in Garments of Silk, and find that their former humility in the probationary life is rewarded with high honour in the new world they have entered. The third stage is in verses 15-21, where they settle down in Bliss, with Garments of fine silk and heavy brocades, with Ornaments and Jewels, with an ordered Feast of set service, and the Cup of Zanjabil. This word literally means Ginger. In Eastern medicine Ginger is administered to give warmth to the body and zest to the taste; this is appropriate for the Royal Feast which is now figured forth.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (And they will be given to drink there of a cup mixed with Zanjabil (ginger),) meaning, they -- the righteous -- will also be given a drink from these cups.

(mixed with Zanjabil (ginger),) So on one occasion they will be given a drink that is mixed with camphor, and it is cool. Then on another occasion they will be given a drink mixed with ginger, and it is hot. This is so that their affair will be balanced. However, those who are nearest to Allah, they will drink from all of it however they wish, as Qatadah and others have said. 

The statement of Allah has already preceded which says, (A spring wherefrom the servants of Allah will drink.) (76:6)

عَيۡنًا فِيۡهَا تُسَمّٰى سَلۡسَبِيۡلًا‏ 
( 18 )   [From] a fountain within Paradise named Salsabeel.
This is to suit the taste of the Arabs who liked the wine flavored with ginger mixed water. But this flavoring will not be achieved by adding ginger mixed water to it: it will be a natural fountain which will have the flavor of ginger but without its bitterness; Therefore, it will be called Salsabil, which implies such water as flows gently and pleasantly down the throat on account of its being sweet, light and palatable. Most commentators think that the word salsabil has been used here as an adjective of the fountain and not as a name for it.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: `Ikrimah said, "It (Salsabil) is the name of a spring in Paradise.'' Mujahid said, "It is called this due to its continuous flowing and the severity of its current.''

Muhammad Asad Explanation: ([derived from] a source [to be found] therein, whose name is "Seek Thy Way".)

This is how 'Ali ibn Abi Talib - as quoted by Zamakhshari and Razi - explains the (obviously compound) word salsabilan, dividing it into its two components, sal sabilan ("ask [or "seek"] the way"): namely, "seek thy way to paradise by means of doing righteous deeds". Although Zamakhshari does not quite agree with this interpretation, it is, in my opinion, very convincing inasmuch as it contains an allusion to the highly allegorical character of the concept of "paradise" as a spiritual consequence of one's positive endeavours in this world. That its delights are not of a material nature is also evident from their varying descriptions - i.e., "a cup flavoured with ginger" in verse {17}, and "flavoured with the calyx of sweet-smelling flowers" in verse {5}; or "they will be waited upon with trays and goblets of gold" in 43:71, and "vessels of silver and goblets that will [seem to] be crystal - crystal-like, [but] of silver", in verses {15-16} of this surah; and so forth.

وَيَطُوۡفُ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وِلۡدَانٌ مُّخَلَّدُوۡنَ​ۚ اِذَا رَاَيۡتَهُمۡ حَسِبۡتَهُمۡ لُـؤۡلُـؤًا مَّنۡثُوۡرًا‏ 
( 19 )   There will circulate among them young boys made eternal. When you see them, you would think them [as beautiful as] scattered pearls.
For explanation, see(Surah As-Saaffat: verse 45), (Surah At-Tur: verse 24), (Surah Al-Waqiah: verse 17).

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (And round about them will (serve) boys of everlasting youth. If you see them, you would think them scattered pearls.) meaning, young boys from the boys of Paradise will go around serving the people of Paradise.

(everlasting youth.) meaning, in one state forever which they will be never changing from, they will not increase in age. Those who have described them as wearing earings in their ears have only interpreted the meaning in such a way because a child is befitting of this description and not an adult man. 

Concerning Allah's statement, (If you see them, you would think them scattered pearls.) meaning, when you see them dispersing to fulfill the needs of their masters, their great number, their beautiful faces, handsome colors, fine clothing and ornaments, you would think that they were scattered pearls. There is no better quality than this, nor is there anything nicer to look at than scattered pearls in a beautiful place.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Cf. lvi. 17. Pearls for beauty and splendour: scattered, because they are moving to and fro.

وَاِذَا رَاَيۡتَ ثَمَّ رَاَيۡتَ نَعِيۡمًا وَّمُلۡكًا كَبِيۡرًا‏ 
( 20 )   And when you look there [in Paradise], you will see pleasure and great dominion.
Even if a person might have lived a pauper in the world, in the Hereafter when he is admitted to Paradise, on the basis of his good deeds, he will live as though he were the owner of a splendid kingdom.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (And when you look) meaning, `when you see it, O Muhammad.' (there) meaning, there. This refers to Paradise and its beauty, its vastness, its loftiness and the joy and happiness it contains.

(You will see a delight, and a great dominion.) meaning, there will be a great kingdom that belongs to Allah and a dazzling, splendid dominion. 

It has been confirmed in the Sahih that Allah will say to the last of the people of the Fire to be taken out of it, and the last of the people to enter into Paradise, (verily, you will have similar to the world and ten worlds like it (in addition to it).'') If this is what He will give to the least of those who will be in Paradise, then what do you think about the one who will have a higher status and will be favored even more by Allah.

عٰلِيَهُمۡ ثِيَابُ سُنۡدُسٍ خُضۡرٌ وَّاِسۡتَبۡرَقٌ​ وَّحُلُّوۡۤا اَسَاوِرَ مِنۡ فِضَّةٍ ​ۚوَسَقٰٮهُمۡ رَبُّهُمۡ شَرَابًا طَهُوۡرًا‏
( 21 )   Upon the inhabitants will be green garments of fine silk and brocade. And they will be adorned with bracelets of silver, and their Lord will give them a purifying drink.
The same theme has been expressed in (Surah Al-Kahf: Ayat 31), thus: “They (the dwellers of Paradise) will wear colored robes of silk and rich brocade and will be reclining upon raised thrones.” On this basis, the opinion of the commentators who have expressed the view that this implies the sheets of cloth which will be hanging over their thrones or bedsteads or that this would be the dress of the boys who would be moving about serving them does not seem to be correct.

In (Surah Al-Kahf: Ayat 31), it has been said: “They will be adorned with bracelets of gold.” This same theme has also occurred in(Surah Al-Hajj: Ayat 23) and (Surah Fatir: Ayat 33). When all these verses are read together, three possibilities become obvious.

(1) That sometimes they would like to wear bracelets of gold and sometimes bracelets of silver, both kinds of the ornaments being available for use as and when required;

(2) that they will wear bracelets of both gold and silver at the same time, for the combination of the two enhances the personal charms of the wearer;

(3) that whosoever desires will wear bracelets of gold and whosoever desires will wear bracelets of silver.

As for the question, why will the men be adorned with the ornaments when these are usually worn by the women? The answer is that in the ancient times the custom was that the kings and their nobles used to adorn their hands and necks and the crowns of their heads with different kinds of ornaments. In(Surah Az-Zukhruf: Ayat 53), it has been said that when the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) arrived in the Pharaoh’s court in his simple dress, with only a staff in hand, and told him that he was a Messenger sent by Allah, Lord of the worlds, the Pharaoh said to his courtiers: “What kind of a messenger is he, who has appeared before me in this state? If he was sent by the King of the universe, why were not bracelets of gold sent down on him, or a company of angels as attendants?”

Two kinds of the wine have been mentioned above, first that to which water will be added from the fountain of camphor; second that to which water will be added from the fountain of ginger, After these, making mention of another wine, with the remark that their Lord shall give them a pure wine to drink, gives the meaning that this will be some superior kind of wine, which they will be given to drink as a special favor from Allah.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (Their garments will be of fine green silk, and Istabraq.) meaning, among the garments of the people of Paradise is silk and Sundus, which is a high quality silk. These garments will be shirts and similar clothing from the undergarments. Concerning Istabraq (velvet), from it there is that which has a glitter and shimmer to it, and it is that which is worn as outer clothes, just as is well-known in clothing.

(They will be adorned with bracelets of silver,) This is a description of the righteous. In reference to those who will be near to Allah, then their description is as Allah says, (Wherein they will be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls and their garments therein will be of silk.) (22:23)

After Allah mentions the outward beautification with silk and ornaments, He then says, and their Lord will give them a purifying drink.) meaning, it will purify their insides of envy, despise, hatred, harm and the other reprehensible character traits. This is just as we have recorded from the Commander of the believers, `Ali bin Abi Talib, that he said, "When the people of Paradise come to the Gate of Paradise, they will find two springs there. Then it will be as if they were inspired with what to do, so they will drink from one of them and Allah will remove whatever harmfulness there may be within them. Then they will bathe in the other spring and a glow of delight will run all over them. Thus, Allah informs of their outward condition and their inner beauty.''

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Cf. xviii. 31. The bracelets are there said to be of gold. This would seem to be the culmination of the honour which the Blessed receive at the Royal and Divine Banquet. The words in the next verse express the sort of speech which will make the Guest a denizen of Heaven.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Implying that God Himself will slake their spiritual thirst by purifying their inner selves "of all envy, and rancour, and malice, and all that leads to harm, and all that is base in man's nature" (Ibn Kathir, quoting 'Ali ibn Abi Talib), and by allowing them to "drink" of His Own Light (Razi).

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: The actual words are: عٰلِیَہُمۡ ثِیَابُ سُنۡدُسٍ خُضۡرٌ وَّ اِسۡتَبۡرَقٌ. The word عٰلِیَ is an accusative of state. Sundus and istabraq are the names of Iranian cloths. In order to portray the favours of Paradise before the people of Arabia the names of things used in the Iranian and Egyptian culture have been borrowed here. This is because in those times Arabs were mostly aware of these cultures. This is also among the category of the mutashabihat whose actual reality is known only to God. The implication is that if the over garments are so exquisite as to be made of sundus and istabraq, one should imagine how splendid their other apparel would be.

Elsewhere in the Qur’an, gold bracelets are similarly mentioned. This means that at some instances they will be given gold bracelets to wear and at some silver bracelets.

This probably is a reference to the pure sealed wine that smells like musk which shall be given only to the muqarrabin (the near ones). It is emphatically mentioned in verses 35-38 of Surah al-Mutaffifin. The implication is that after drinking from the springs of Zanjabil and Salsabil, they will gradually reach the place where the Almighty Himself will present them with pure wine.

اِنَّ هٰذَا كَانَ لَـكُمۡ جَزَآءً وَّكَانَ سَعۡيُكُمۡ مَّشۡكُوۡرًا
( 22 )   [And it will be said], "Indeed, this is for you a reward, and your effort has been appreciated."
In the original, kana sayu kum mashkura: “your endeavors have been accepted and recognized.” Saii implies the entire lifework that a person accomplished in the world, the works and objectives to which he applied his energies and abilities; and its being mashkur means that Allah has appreciated it. Shukr when expressed by the servant to God implies his gratefulness to Him for His blessings, and when it is expressed by God for the servant, it means that He has appreciated his services. It is indeed the kindness of the Master that He should appreciate the endeavors of the servant when the servant has only carried out his duties according to the Master’s will.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (Verily, this is a reward for you, and your endeavor has been accepted.) meaning, this will be said to them in honor of them and as a goodness towards them. This is as Allah says, (Eat and drink at ease for that which you have sent forth before you in days past!) (69:24)  Allah also says, (And it will be cried out to them: "This is the Paradise which you have inherited for what you used to do.'') (7:43) 

Then Allah says, (and your endeavor has been accepted) meaning, `Allah the Exalted will reward you for a small amount (of deeds) with a large amount (of reward).'

Ruku Two: Verses 23-31: In this ruku, it is mentioned that Allah sent the Qur'an gradually according to the issues faced by mankind and This is and admonition for those who want to adopt the way to their Rabb (God)

اِنَّا نَحۡنُ نَزَّلۡنَا عَلَيۡكَ الۡقُرۡاٰنَ تَنۡزِيۡلًا ۚ‏ 
( 23 )   Indeed, it is We who have sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Qur'an progressively.
Though the addressee here apparently is the Prophet (peace be upon him), the discourse is directed to the disbelievers who said, “Muhammad (peace be upon him) composes the Quran deliberately by himself piece by piece; had it been from Allah, it would be revealed all at once. At some places on the Quran this objection bas been cited and answered see(verses 101 and 102 of Surah 16. An-Nahl) and (verse 106 of Surah 17. Bani Israil), but here Allah has answered it without citing it, saying emphatically: “It is We Who are sending it down, it is not the composition of Muhammad, and it is We Who are sending it gradually. That is, it is the requirement of Our wisdom that We should not send down Our message all together in a book form, but should send it piece by piece.”

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The Qur'an was being revealed stage by stage as the occasion demanded and at the date of this Surah it was still one of the earlier stages. Persecution, abuse, and false charges were being levelled against the man of Allah, but he is bidden to stand firm and do his duty. In a minor degree this applies to all of us who suffer in the cause of Truth.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: These verses urge Muhammad (sws) to show patience and steadfastness at the hostile response of his addressees.

The actual words are: اِنَّا نَحۡنُ نَزَّلۡنَا عَلَیۡکَ الۡقُرۡاٰنَ تَنۡزِیۡلًا. They have a lot of emphasis, grandeur and majesty in them. The implication is that when God has revealed them, Muhammad (sws) should rest assured; God will deal with his enemies; this is not the Prophet’s responsibility.

فَاصۡبِرۡ لِحُكۡمِ رَبِّكَ وَلَا تُطِعۡ مِنۡهُمۡ اٰثِمًا اَوۡ كَفُوۡرًا​ۚ‏  
( 24 )   So be patient for the decision of your Lord and do not obey from among them a sinner or ungrateful [disbeliever].
“Be patient”: Face patiently the hardships and difficulties of the great Mission your Lord has entrusted to upon you; endure firmly and steadfastly whatever comes to pass, without showing any weakness in this regard.

 “Do not obey”: Do not yield to any one of them so as to give up preaching of the true faith; do not be inclined to make even the least change in the religious beliefs for the sake of any denier of the truth, or in the moral teachings for the sake of a wicked person. Proclaim whatever is unlawful and forbidden to be so openly even if an immoral person might press you hard to show some lenience in this condemnation, and proclaim whatever is false as false and whatever is true as true publicly even if the disbelievers might use all their influence to silence you, or to make you adopt a little lenience in this regard.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Mention of the Qur'an's Revelation and the Command to be Patient and remember Allah - Allah reminds His Messenger of how He blessed him by revealing the Magnificent Qur'an to him.

(Therefore be patient with constancy to the command of your Lord.,) meaning, `just as you have been honored by what has been revealed to you, then be patient with His decree and decision and know that He will handle your affairs in a good manner.'

(And obey neither a sinner (Athim) nor a disbeliever (Kafur) among them.) meaning, `do not obey the disbelievers and the hypocrites if they wish to deter you from what has been revealed to you. Rather convey that which has been revealed to you from your Lord and put your trust in Allah, for verily, Allah will protect you from the people.' The Athim is the sinner in his deeds and the Kafur is the disbeliever in his heart.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: (Await, then, in all patience thy Sustainer's judgment,) This connects with the preceding mention of the life to come, in which the righteous will meet with bliss, and the evildoers with suffering.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: The actual words are: فَاصۡبِرۡ لِحُکۡمِ رَبِّکَ. The presence of the particle ل in them shows that waiting is encompassed in the directive of exercising patience.

The actual word is: اطاعة. It is also used to connote paying heed and paying attention. Here it is used in this very meaning. The actual words used for a sinner and an ingrate are آثِمًا and كَفُورًا. The first word refers to someone who does not fulfill the rights of his fellow human beings and the second one to someone who does not fulfill the rights of God. Though both these traits necessarily entail one another yet at times one is more dominant than the other in someone as per the inclinations found in various personalities.

وَاذۡكُرِ اسۡمَ رَبِّكَ بُكۡرَةً وَّاَصِيۡلًا ۚ  ۖ‏ 
( 25 )   And mention the name of your Lord [in prayer] morning and evening
That is at the beginning of the day and at its end.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Three methods of Prayer and Devotion are mentioned: (1) to remember and celebrate the holy name of Allah always; (2) to spend a part of the night in humble prostration; and (3) to glorify Him in the long hours of a weary night of waiting and watching. As to (1), "morning and evening" means all the waking hours of our life, but in the special hours of morning and evening the physical world without us, and the inner world within us, combine to make us specially receptive of spiritual influences. The "name" of Allah includes His attributes, as a locked golden casket might include priceless jewels. Any one may carry the casket, even though he may not be worthy to handle the jewels. If he carries the casket, he is in potential possession of the jewels, and he hopes some time to get the key which opens the jewels to him. So the tyro, who celebrates the holy name of Allah, hopes some day to see the "Face" of Allah and be blessed with the privilege of proximity to His Person. For (2) and (3) see next note.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: (and bear in mind thy Sustainer's name) I.e. His "attributes" as they manifest themselves in His creation - since the human mind can grasp only the fact of His existence and the manifestation of those "attributes", but never the "how" of His Reality (Razi).

وَمِنَ الَّيۡلِ فَاسۡجُدۡ لَهٗ وَسَبِّحۡهُ لَيۡلًا طَوِيۡلًا‏ 
( 26 )   And during the night prostrate to Him and exalt Him a long [part of the] night.
The rule followed in the Quran is that wherever the Muslims have been exhorted to show patience against the disbelievers, immediately after it they have been commanded to remember Allah much and to observe the Prayer, which automatically implies that the power needed to meet the resistance of the enemies of the truth in the way of true faith can be obtained only by this means. To remember Allah morning and evening may also imply remembering Allah always but when the command to remember Allah at specific times is given, it implies the salat (Prayer). In this verse, bukrah means the morning and asil the time from the sun’s decline till sunset, which obviously covers the Zuhr and the Asr times. Night starts after sunset; therefore, the command “to prostrate yourself in the night” would apply to both the Maghrib and the Isha Prayers. Then, the command “to glorify Allah in the long hours of night”, clearly points to the time of the Tahajjud Prayer. see (verses 78,79 of Surah 17. Bani Israil), (verse 2 of Surah 73. Al-Muzzammil). This also shows that these have been the Prayer times in Islam from the beginning. However, the command making the Prayer obligatory five times a day with fixed times and number of rakahs was given on the occasion of miraj (ascension).

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: This is similar to Allah's statement, (And in some parts of the night offer the Salah with it (the Qur'an), as an additional prayer (Tajhajjud) for you. It may be that you Lord will raise you to Maqam Mahmud.) (17:79) 

Similarly, Allah also says, (O you wrapped! Stand all night, except a little. Half of it or a little less than that, or a little more. And recite the Qur'an Tartil.) (73:1-4)

Yusuf Ali Explanation: See last note. (2) Humble prostration to Allah means some visible mode of dedication. That is best done at night, when the soul, free from worldly occupations, is alone with its God. (3) The weary hours of a long night are no longer weary, but become full of meaning when we join in concert with the whole Creation, which glorifies Allah: lvii. 1.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: This is a reference to the tahajjud prayer referred to earlier in Surah al-Muzzammil.

اِنَّ هٰٓؤُلَاۤءِ يُحِبُّوۡنَ الۡعَاجِلَةَ وَيَذَرُوۡنَ وَرَآءَهُمۡ يَوۡمًا ثَقِيۡلًا‏ 
( 27 )   Indeed, these [disbelievers] love the immediate and leave behind them a grave Day.
That is, the reason why the disbelieving Quraish still persist in the errors and deviations of belief and morality and why they turn a deaf ear to your invitation to the truth is, in fact, their worship of the world and their heedlessness of the Hereafter. Therefore, the way being followed by a true God-worshipper is so different from and opposed to their way that there can be no question of any compromise between them.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: The Censure of Love for the World and informing about the Day of the Final Return - Allah reprimands the disbelievers and those similar to them who love the world and are devoted and dedicated to it, who put the abode of the Hereafter behind them in disregard. He says; (Verily, these love the present life of this world, and put behind them a heavy Day.) meaning, the Day of Judgement.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Fleeting life: Cf. lxxv. 20. They: the immediate reference was to the Pagan Quraish: the general reference is to the Unbelievers of all ages. They reject, or at least put away the thought of, a Hereafter, a Day that will be hard, for the easy pleasures of a fleeting life.

نَحۡنُ خَلَقۡنٰهُمۡ وَشَدَدۡنَاۤ اَسۡرَهُمۡ​ۚ وَاِذَا شِئۡنَا بَدَّلۡنَاۤ اَمۡثَالَهُمۡ تَبۡدِيۡلًا‏ 
( 28 )   We have created them and strengthened their forms, and when We will, We can change their likenesses with [complete] alteration.
The sentence, “And when We will, We can replace with others like them with a complete replacement” can have several meanings:

(1) That whenever We please We can destroy them and replace them by other people of their own kind, who will be different from them in conduct;

(2) That whenever We please We can change their forms; that is, just as We can make someone healthy and sound in body, so also We have the power to make somebody a paralytic, cause someone to be struck with facial paralysis and other to fall a victim to some disease or accident and become a cripple permanently;

(3) That whenever We will We can recreate them in some other form after death.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Then Allah says, (It is We Who created them, and We have made them of strong build.) Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and others have said, "This means their creation.''

(And when We will, We can replace them with others like them with a complete replacement.) meaning, `when We wish, We will resurrect them on the Day of Judgement and change them, repeating their creation in a new form.' Here the beginning of their creation is a proof for the repetition of their creation. 

Ibn Zayd and Ibn Jarir both said, (And when We will, We can replace them with others like them with a complete replacement.) "This means, if We wish We can bring another group of people besides them (in their place).'' 

This is like Allah's statement, (If He wills, He can take you away, O people, and bring others. And Allah is capable over that.) (4:133) This is also like His statement, (If He wills, He can remove you and bring a new creation! And for Allah that is not hard or difficult.) (14:19-20)

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Allah has not only created men, but 'made their frame strong", i.e., given them the power and strength to withstand the temptations of Evil and stand firmly in the Path of Right,

If, in spite of Allah's loving care, any particular men or group of men, misuse their powers or willfully disobey Allah's Law, Allah will set them aside, and substitute others in their place, with like powers. Allah's gifts are free, but let no one think that he can monopolies them or misuse them without being called to answer for the trust. And the man of Allah must not be discouraged by the whole world being at some moment completely against him. Allah can in a moment make a complete change. Either the same men that fought against him will be his zealous adherents, Or another generation will spring up, which will carry the flag of Righteousness to victory. Allah's Will and Plan work in their own good time.

اِنَّ هٰذِهٖ تَذۡكِرَةٌ ​ۚ فَمَنۡ شَآءَ اتَّخَذَ اِلٰى رَبِّهٖ سَبِيۡلًا‏  
( 29 )   Indeed, this is a reminder, so he who wills may take to his Lord a way.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:  The Qur'an is a Reminder, and Guidance comes from the Help of Allah - Allah then says, (Verily, this is an admonition,) meaning, this Surah is a reminder. (so whosoever wills, let him take a path to his Lord.) meaning, a path and a way. This means, whoever wishes to be guided by the Qur'an. 

This is similar to Allah's statement, (And what loss have they if they had believed in Allah and in the Last Day.) (4:39) 

وَمَا تَشَآءُوۡنَ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ يَّشَآءَ اللّٰهُ ​ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ كَانَ عَلِيۡمًا حَكِيۡمًا  ۖ‏ 
( 30 )   And you do not will except that Allah wills. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.
Three things have been said in these verses:

(1) That whoever wills may adopt the way to his Lord;

(2) that one’s willing to do a thing is not enough unless Allah so wills;

(3) That Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. If one considers these three things deeply one can fully understand the relationship between man’s freedom of choice and Allah’s Will, and it helps to remove all the confusions from the people’s minds about the question of destiny.

The first verse shows that in this world the authority granted to man is only to the extent that he may decide to adopt any one of the different courses available for passing life here. This is the freedom of choice that Allah has given to him. For example, when a man confronts the question of earning a living for himself, he finds many ways before him of which some are lawful, as for example lawful kinds of labor, service, trade and business, industry, or agriculture, and some are unlawful as thievery, robbery, picking pockets, prostitution, trading in money (on interest), gambling, bribery and unlawful kinds of services and business, etc. The decision to adopt any one of these ways has been left to man’s own free choice as to how he would like to earn his living. Likewise, there are different modes of morality. On the one side, there are the good qualities, like honesty, nobility, decency, justice, pity, sympathy and chastity, and on the other, the evil traits like wickedness, meanness, tyranny, dishonesty, and frivolity. Man has full freedom to adopt any mode of morality he likes. The same is the case with religion; man has many ways open before him in this regard also; atheism and denial of God, polytheism and idol worship, different combinations of monotheism and polytheism, and the unalloyed creed of God worship which is taught by the Quran. In these also, the decision to choose has been left to man as to which of them he wants to adopt. Allah does not impose on him any decision of His own. If man may like to choose a lawful means of earning his living, Allah will not force him to adopt an unlawful means for it. Or that, man may like to follow the Quran, Allah will not force him to become an atheist, polytheist or disbeliever. Or that, man may like to become a good man, Allah will not force him to become an evil man.

But after man has exercised this freedom of choice whether can he practically also do the same which he wants to do, depends on Allah’s Will, His leave and His grace. If the Will of Allah be to let the man do what he has willed or decided to do, then alone can he do it; otherwise he cannot do anything without Allah’s Will and His leave, however hard and seriously he may try to do it. This same thing has been said in the second verse. This can be explained by an example. If man had been delegated all the powers in the world and permitted to do whatever he pleased, the system of the world would have been disrupted. One murderer was enough to murder all the people in the world if he were given the freedom to kill anybody he liked. One pickpocket could pick the pocket of everyone if he were given the option to pick anyone’s pocket he pleased. One thief was enough to steal whatever he liked; one adulterer to commit rape on every woman, one robber to plunder every house, if each one of these had full powers to act as he desired. Therefore, Allah has kept this in His own power whether He may allow or disallow the man to follow the right or the wrong path that he chooses to follow or not. The person who, giving up error, wants to adopt the right way is also granted righteousness only by Allah’s leave and will. However, the condition is that the decision to give up error and choose guidance should have been taken by the man himself; otherwise just as Allah does not make anybody a thief or murderer or atheist or polytheist forcibly, so also He does not make anybody a believer forcibly.

After this, the third verse removes the misunderstanding whether Allah’s willing may not be arbitrary. That is why it has been said that “Allah is All-Knowing, Al-Wise.” That is whatever He does, He does it on the basis of knowledge and wisdom; therefore, there can be no possibility of any error in His decisions. He decided with full knowledge and wisdom as to who should be given a particular kind of help and who should not be given it, who should be allowed to do a particular work and who should not be allowed to do it. To the extent that Allah provides opportunities to man and makes the conditions favorable for him, he can work according to his desire, whether it be good or evil. The question of guidance also is no exception to it. Allah alone knows on the basis of His knowledge and He alone determines on the basis of His wisdom as to who deserves to be guided and who does not. see(E.N. 41 of Surah Al-Muddaththir).

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:  Then Allah says,  (But you cannot will, unless Allah wills.) meaning, no one is able to guide himself, enter into faith or bring about any benefit for himself, (Unless Allah wills. Verily, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise.) meaning, He is Most Knowledgeable of who deserves to be guided. So, He makes guidance easy for him and He predestines for him that which will be a cause for it. However, whoever deserves misguidance, He averts guidance from him. Unto Him belongs the most excellent wisdom and the most irrefutable argument. 

Thus, He says, (Verily, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Man in himself is weak; he must seek Allah's Grace; without it he can do nothing; with it he can do all, For Allah knows all things, and His wisdom comprehends the good of all.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: (But you cannot will it unless God wills [to show you that way]:) See {81:28-29} [81:29: ( But you cannot will it unless God, the Sustainer of all the worlds, wills [to show you that way]. ) I.e., "you can will it only because God has willed to show you the right way by means of the positive instincts which He has implanted in you, as well as through the revelations which He has bestowed on His prophets": implying that the choice of the right way is open to everyone who is willing to avail himself of God's universal guidance. ] 

The perplexity of some of the commentators at the apparent "contradiction" between those two verses - as well as between verses {29-30} of the present surah - has been caused by their elliptic formulation, which, I believe, is resolved in my rendering. In the present instance, in particular, there is a clear connection between the above two verses and verse {3} of this surah: "We have shown him the way: [and it rests with him to prove himself] either grateful or ungrateful". (Cf. also 74:56.)

يُّدۡخِلُ مَنۡ يَّشَآءُ فِىۡ رَحۡمَتِهٖ​ؕ وَالظّٰلِمِيۡنَ اَعَدَّ لَهُمۡ عَذَابًا اَلِيۡمًا‏ 
( 31 )   He admits whom He wills into His mercy; but the wrongdoers - He has prepared for them a painful punishment.
In this verse “wrongdoers” imply the people whom the revelations of Allah and the teachings of His Prophet (peace be upon him) may reach, yet they deliberately and consciously decide that they would not obey and follow them. This also includes those unjust people who may plainly say that they do not accept the revelation as God’s revelation and the Prophet as God’s Prophet, or that they do not believe in God at all, and also those wicked people who may not refuse to believe in God and the Prophet and the Quran, but they are resolved not to obey and follow them. As a matter of fact, both these groups are unjust and wicked. As regards the first group, their case is clear and obvious; but the second group is no less wicked; it is also hypocritical and treacherous. Verbally, they say that they believe in God and the Messenger and the Quran, but in their hearts and minds they are resolved not to follow them, and their practical conduct of life is also opposed to it. About both Allah has declared that He has prepared for them a painful torment. They might strut about in the world, enjoy life as they like, boast and brag of their superiority, but ultimately they will be subjected to a disgraceful punishment; they cannot enter and enjoy Allah’s mercy in any way.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: That is according to His just and wise Plan. If the will is right, it obtains Allah's Grace and Mercy. If the will of man rejects Allah, man must suffer the Penalty.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: ( He admits unto His grace everyone who wills [to be admitted]; ) Or: "whomever He wills" - either of these two formulations being syntactically justified.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:  (He will admit to His mercy whom He wills and as for the wrongdoers -- He has prepared a painful torment.) meaning, He guides whomever He wishes and He leads astray whomever He wishes. Whoever He guides, there is no one who can lead him astray; and whoever He leads astray, there is no one who can guide him. This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Insan. And all praise and thanks are due to Allah.

You may now like to listen to explanation of the surah by eminent scholar Nouman Ali Khan:

You may refer to our Reference Page "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, explanation and exegesis of other chapters of the Qur'an.

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 67 | 8 | 9 | 10 |
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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