Tuesday 23 February 2021

Surah Al-Ma'arij - The Ascending Stairways: Exegesis / Tafsir of 70th Chapter of Qur'an

Sūrah Al-Maʻārij " المعارج " - The Ascending Stairways is the seventieth chapter (sūrah) of the Qur'an with 44 verses (āyāt) and two Ruku, part of the 29th 'Juz. The Surah takes its name from the word dhil Ma'arij in 3rd ayah. The subject matter bears evidence that this Surah too was sent down in conditions closely resembling those under which Surah 60. Al Haaqqah was sent down. A Makki / Meccan Sūrah which is another Islamic eschatology Sūrah closely connected in subject matter with the last one (Surah Al Haaqqah). Patience and the mystery of Time will show the ways that climb the Heaven. Sin and Goodness must each eventually come to its own.

The surah is divided into two Ruku as under:
  • Ruku One [Verses 1-35]: The day of judgement will be equal to fifty thousand years and Disbelievers will wish to save themselves from the punishment at the expense of their children, wives, brothers and relatives, but it will not happen
  • Ruku One [Verses 36-44]: Paradise is not for the disbelievers and Disbelievers will have downcast eyes and countenances distorted with shame
We have already presented the overview / summary of the sürah. Let us now read the verse by verse translation and exegesis / tafseer in English. You may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles at the end of the post:

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

Ruku One [Verses 1-35]

سَاَلَ سَآئِلٌ ۢ بِعَذَابٍ وَّاقِعٍۙ‏ 
( 1 )   A supplicant asked for a punishment bound to happen
Some commentators have taken the verb sa'ala in the Text in the meaning of asking, and have interpreted the verse to mean: "The asker has asked: whom will the torment with which we are being threatened befall'" And Allah has answered it, saying: "It will befall the disbelievers." But most of the commentators have taken sa'ala here in the meaning of demanding. Nasa'i and other traditionists have related a tradition from Ibn 'Abbas, and Hakim hold it as authentic, that Nadr bin al-Harith Kaladah had said "O God, if it is really the Truth sent dawn by You, then rain down stones on us from the heavens, or send down any other painful torment on us." (AI-Anfal: 32). Apart from this, at several places in the Qur'an the disbelievers' this challenge has been related: "Why don't you bring down on us the torment that you threaten us with?" For instance, see Yunus: 4b-48, Al-Anbiya': 36-41, An-Naml; 67-72, Saba: 26-30, Ya Sin: 45-52, Al-Mink: 24-27. 

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: This Ayah contains an assumed meaning that is alluded to by the letter "Ba''. It is as though it is saying, a questioner requested to hasten on the torment that is about to fall. 
It is similar to Allah's statement: (And they ask you to hasten on the torment! And Allah fails not His promise.) (22:47) meaning, that its torment will occur and there is no avoiding it. 
Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas concerning the Ayah: (A questioner asked concerning a torment about to befall) "That is the questioning of the disbelievers about the torment of Allah and it will occur to them.'' 

Ibn Abi Najih reported from Mujahid that he said concerning Allah's statement: (A questioner asked), "A person called out (requesting) for the torment that will occur in the Hereafter to happen.'' Then he said, "This is their saying, (O Allah! If this is indeed the truth from you, then rain down stones on us from the sky or bring on us a painful torment.)'' (8:32) 

Allah's statement, (about to befall (Waqi`) upon the disbelievers,) means, it is waiting in preparation for the disbelievers. Ibn `Abbas said, "Waqi` means coming.''

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Any one might ask. When will Judgment come? That question usually implies doubt. The answer is: the knowledge of Time is beyond man's comprehension. But there is something which touches him closely and concerns his conduct and his future welfare; and that is explained in four propositions. (1) Judgment is sure to come, and none can ward it off; (2) it will exact a dreadful Penalty from Unbelievers, but the righteous have nothing to fear; (3) it will be a Penalty from Allah, the Lord of both Justice and Mercy; it will not be merely a blind calamity of fate; and (4) further we are reminded of another title of Allah, "Lord of the Ways of Ascent"; which means that though He sits high on His Throne of Glory, He is not inaccessible, but in His infinite Mercy has provided ways of ascent to Him.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: The actual word is: سُؤَال. However, since it is used with the preposition ب, according to linguistic principles it encompasses the meaning of “to hasten and to make fun.” In other words, in order to make fun they would ask to hasten the punishment. The questions they would pose as a result would be: Where has that punishment been stranded? Why hasn’t it come till now? We have been threatened by it since ages, but it seems that it is resting somewhere because it has not arrived as yet?

لِّلۡكٰفِرِيۡنَ لَيۡسَ لَهٗ دَافِعٌ ۙ‏ 
( 2 )   To the disbelievers; of it there is no preventer.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: In view of the fact that many of "those who deny the truth" - and, by implication, do evil in consequence of that deliberate denial - prosper in this world, a doubter might well ask whether or when this state of affairs will really be reversed and the values adjusted in accord with divine justice. An answer to the "whether" is given in the second paragraph of verse {2}; and to the "when", elliptically, at the end of verse {4}.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (which non can avert) meaning, there is no one who can repel it if Allah wants it to happen. Thus, Allah says:

مِّنَ اللّٰهِ ذِى الۡمَعَارِجِؕ‏ 
( 3 )   [It is] from Allah, owner of the ways of ascent.
Ma'arij is plural of Miraj, which means a stairway, or a ladder, or something by which one may go up. To call Allah dhil-Maaij (Owner of the ways of ascent) means that He is Most High and in order to go up into His Presence the angels have to ascend many heights, one above the other, as has been stated in the following verses.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: The Tafsir of "Lord of the ways of ascent - `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn `Abbas, "Lord of the ways of ascent means loftiness and abundance.'' Mujahid said, "Lord of the ways of ascent means the ways of ascension into the heavens.'' 

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Lit., "He of the [many] ascents": a metonymical phrase implying that there are many ways by which man can "ascend" to a comprehension of God's existence, and thus to spiritual "nearness" to Him - and that, therefore, it is up to each human being to avail himself of any of the ways leading towards Him (cf. 76:3: Surely We showed him the Right Path, regardless of whether he chooses to be thankful or unthankful5 (to his Lord).

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Ma'arij: stair-ways, ways of ascent. In xliii. 33, the word is used in its literal sense: "silver stair-ways on which to go up". Here there is a profound spiritual meaning. Can we reach up to Allah Most High? In His infinite grace He gives that privilege to angels. But the way is not easy, nor can it be travelled in a day. See the next two notes.

تَعۡرُجُ الۡمَلٰٓـئِكَةُ وَ الرُّوۡحُ اِلَيۡهِ فِىۡ يَوۡمٍ كَانَ مِقۡدَارُهٗ خَمۡسِيۡنَ اَلۡفَ سَنَةٍ​ۚ‏ 
( 4 )   The angels and the Spirit will ascend to Him during a Day the extent of which is fifty thousand years.
“The Spirit”: the Angel Gabriel, who has been mentioned separately from the angels in order to impress his unique glory and greatness. In Surah Ash-Shuara it has been said: The trustworthy Spirit has come down with this Quran upon your heart, (verse 193), and in Surah Al- Baqarah, say to them: Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel, should understand that he has, by Allah’s command, revealed upon your heart this Quran. (verse 97). These verses when read together show that Ar-Rooh (the Spirit) implies the Angel Gabriel.

This is an ambiguous theme the meaning of which cannot be determined precisely. We neither have any knowledge of the reality of the angels, nor can understand the nature of their ascent, nor can conceive the stairways on which they ascend. Besides, about Allah also it cannot be imagined that He lives in a particular place, for He is exalted and free from the restrictions of space and time.

In (Surah Al-Hajj, Ayat 47), it has been said: These people are demanding of you to hasten the torment. Allah will never fail to fulfill His threat, but a day with your Lord is equal to a thousand years as you reckon. In( Surah As- Sajdah, Ayat 5), it has been said: He administers the affairs of the world from the heavens to the earth, and the report of this administration ascends (to be presented) before Him in a Day whose length, according to your reckoning, is a thousand years. And here, in response to the demand for the torment, the measure of Allah’s one day has been stated to be fifty thousand years. Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) has been consoled, saying: Have patience at the demand for the torment which the people make out of jest and fun, and then it is said: They think it is far off, but We see it as near at hand. When all these verses are read together, what becomes obvious is: The people, because of their narrow and restricted outlook, measure the time of Allah’s decrees by their own scales of time and, therefore, consider a hundred years or so to be a very lengthy period, whereas in the divine conduct of affairs there are schemes spreading over a thousand years each, or fifty thousand years each, as you reckon, and this measure also is only by way of example; otherwise schemes in the universe may extend over millions and billions of years as well. Of these one is the scheme under which mankind has been created on the earth, and a time limit has been set during which it has been allowed to function here. No man can know when this scheme began, what time-limit has been decreed for its completion, what hour has been appointed for bringing it to an end, when Resurrection will take place, and what time has been fixed for raising all men, born since the beginning of creation till Resurrection, from death simultaneously and calling them to account for their deeds. We only know to some extent that part of the scheme which is passing before us, or a partial history of the past ages which exists with us. As for its beginning and end, to say nothing of knowing it, we do not even have the power to understand it, not to speak of understanding the wisdom which works behind and underlies it. Now the people who demand that the scheme be cut short and its conclusion be brought immediately before them, and if this is not done, they use it for an argument to prove that the universe has no end and conclusion. They, in fact, present a proof of their own ignorance and folly. (For further explanation, see (22:47 Surah Al-Hajj); (32:5 Surah As-Sajdah).

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: `Abdur-Razzaq reported from Ma`mar from Qatadah that Ta`ruju means to ascend. In reference to the Ruh, Abu Salih said, "They are creatures from the creation of Allah that resemble humans but they are not humans.'' It could be that here it means Jibril, and this is a way of connecting the specific to the general (other angels). It could also be referring to the name of the souls (Arwah) of the Children of Adam (humans). For verily, when they (the human souls) are taken at death, they are lifted up to the heavens just as the Hadith of Al-Bara' proves.

The Meaning of "a Day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years: (in a Day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years.) This refers to the Day of Judgement. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded from Ibn `Abbas that he said concerning the Ayah, (in a Day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years.) "It is the Day of Judgement.'' The chain of narration of this report (to Ibn `Abbas) is authentic. Ath-Thawri reported from Simak bin Harb from `Ikrimah that he said concerning this verse, "It is the Day of Judgement.'' Ad-Dahhak and Ibn Zayd both said the same. 

`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn `Abbas concerning the Ayah, (The angels and the Ruh ascend to Him in a Day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years.) "It is the Day of Judgement that Allah has made to be the measure of fifty thousand years for the disbelievers. '' Many Hadiths have been reported with this same meaning. Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu `Umar Al-Ghudani that he said, "I was with Abu Hurayrah when a man from Bani `Amir bin Sa`sa`ah passed and it was said: `This man is the wealthiest man of Bani `Amir.' So Abu Hurayrah said, `Bring him back to me.' So they brought the man back to Abu Hurayrah. Then Abu Hurayrah said, `I have been informed that you are a man of great wealth.' The man from Bani `Amir replied, `Yes, by Allah. I have one hundred red-colored camels, one hundred brown-colored camels...' and so on he counted numerous colored camels, the races of the slaves and the types of fetters for his horses that he owned. So Abu Hurayrah said, `Beware of the hooves of the camels and the cloven hooves of the cattle.' He continued repeating that to him until the color of the man began to change. 

Then the man said, `O Abu Hurayrah what is this' Abu Hurayrah replied, `I heard the Messenger of Allah say, (Whoever has camels and does not give their due (Zakah) in their Najdah and their Risl...) 

We interrupted saying, `O Messenger of Allah! What is their Najdah and Risl' He said, 
(It is their difficulty and their ease, for verily, they will come on the Day of Resurrection healthier than before. They will be more in number, fatter and more lively and unruly. Then a soft, level plain will be spread out for them and they will trample him with their hooves. When the last of them has passed over him, the first of them will return to trample him again during a day whose measure will be fifty thousand years. This will continue until the case of all the people is decided between them. Then he (the withholder of Zakah) will see his path (i.e., either to Paradise or Hell). If he had cows that he did not pay the Zakah in their ease and their difficult times, then they will come on the Day of Judgement healthier than they were before. They will be more in number, fatter and more lively and unruly. Then a soft, level plain will be spread out for them and they will trample him. Every one of them that has cloven hooves will trample him with its hooves, and every one of them that has a horn will butt him with its horn. There will not be any hornless or bent horned animals among them. When the last of them has passed over him, the first of them will return to trample him again during a day whose measure will be fifty thousand years. This will continue until the case of all the people is decided between them. Then he (the withholder of Zakah) will see his path (i.e., either to Paradise or Hell). If he has any sheep that he does not pay the due Zakah in their difficulty and their ease, then they will come on the Day of Judgement healthier than they were before. They will be more (in number) fatter and more lively and unruly. Then a soft, level plain will be spread out for them and they will trample him. Every one of them that has a cloven hoof will trample him with its hooves, and every one of them that has a horn will butt him with its horn. There will not be any hornless or bent horned animals among them. When the last of them has passed over him, the first of them will return to trample him again during a day whose measure will be fifty thousand years. This will continue until the case of all the people is decided between them. Then he (the withholder of Zakah) will see his path (i.e., either to Paradise or Hell).) Then, the man from Bani `Amir said, `What is the due of the camel, O Abu Hurayrah' Abu Hurayrah said, `It is that you give (in your Zakah payment) from your most valuable camels, that you lend a milking she-camel, that you lend your mount for riding, that you give the milk (to the people) for drinking, and you lend the male camel for breeding.''' This Hadith was also recorded by Abu Dawud and An-Nasa'i.
A Different Version of this Hadith - Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said, (There is not any owner of treasure who does not pay its due except that it will be made into heated metal plates and branded upon him in the fire of Hell. His forehead, side and back will be scorched with these metal plates. This will continue until Allah judges between His servants on a Day whose measure is fifty thousand years of what you count. Then he will see his path, either to Paradise or to the Fire.) Then he (Abu Hurayrah) mentions the rest of the Hadith about the sheep and camels just as mentioned before. 

In this narration (of Ahmad) the Prophet also added, (The horse is for three (on the Day of Judgement): for one man it is a reward, for another man it is a shield (protection), and upon another man it is a burden.) And the Hadith continues. Muslim also recorded this Hadith in its entirety even though Al-Bukhari did not mention it. 

The intent behind mentioning this here is the Prophet's statement, (Until Allah judges between His servants on a day whose measurement is fifty thousand years.)

Muhammad Asad Explanation
For my rendering of ruh as "inspiration", see my explanation of Surah 16:2 [appended below]
The term rah (lit., "spirit", "soul" or "breath of life") is often used in the Qur'an in the sense of "inspiration" - and, more particularly, "divine inspiration" - since, as Zamakhshari points out in connection with the above verse as well as with the first sentence of 42:52 , "it gives life to hearts that were [as] dead in their ignorance, and has in religion the same function as a soul has in a body". A very similar explanation is given by Razi in the same context. The earliest instance in which the term rah has been used in this particular sense is 97:4.
The "ascent" of the angels and of all inspiration may be understood in the same sense as the frequently-occurring phrase "all things go back to God [as their source]" (Razi).

The very concept of "time" is meaningless in relation to God, who is timeless and infinite: cf. note [63] on the last sentence of 22:47 - "in thy Sustainer's sight a day is like a thousand years of your reckoning": in other words, a day, or an aeon, or a thousand years, or fifty thousand years are alike to Him, having an apparent reality only within the created world and none with the Creator. And since in the hereafter time will cease to have a meaning for man as well, it is irrelevant to ask as to "when" the evildoers will be chastised and the righteous given their due.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Ruh: "The Spirit". Cf. lxxviii. 38, "the Spirit and the angels"; and xcvii. 4, "the angels and the Spirit". In xvi. 2, we have translated Ruh by "inspiration". Some Commentators understand the angel Gabriel by "the Spirit". But I think a more general meaning is possible, and fits the context better.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: This refers to Gabriel. He is the chief of all angels. This mention of the specific after the general is in deference to his status. 

This is from among the matters of the mutashabihat. It is impossible to grasp their true form. The implication is that they should not regard God’s affairs as analogous to their own. In His dominion, certain days are equivalent to fifty thousand earth years.

فَاصۡبِرۡ صَبۡرًا جَمِيۡلًا‏ 
( 5 )   So be patient with gracious patience.
A gracious patience: A kind of patience that behooves a magnanimous person like you.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The prophet of Allah, persecuted and in trouble with the world, should yet hold Patience-not the sort of patience which goes with complaints expressed or suppressed, but the sort of patience that is content with the ordering of Allah's world, for he believes and knows it to be good, as did the holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Such a patience is akin to Good pleasure, for it arises from the purest faith and trust in Allah.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: The actual words are: فَاصۡبِرۡ صَبۡرًا. What do they signify? 
Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi has explained this. He writes: Showing patience with grace and dignity means that the Prophet (sws) should neither become sad and lose hope because of their attitude nor should he take any hasty step in their response nor should he show any compromise in his stance. It has also been delineated that which makes patience as graceful and dignified. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 8, 567)

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, `be patient, O Muhammad, with your people's rejection and their seeking to hasten the torment since they think it will not occur.' 

Allah says in another Ayah, (Those who believe not therein seek to hasten it, while those believe are fearful of it, and know that it is the very truth.) (42:18) 

Thus, Allah says, 

اِنَّهُمۡ يَرَوۡنَهٗ بَعِيۡدًا ۙ‏ 
( 6 )   Indeed, they see it [as] distant,

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: The happening of the torment and the establishment of the Hour (Day of Judgement). The disbelievers see this as something that is farfetched. The word "Ba`id - بَعِيداً '' here means that which is impossible to occur.

وَّنَرٰٮهُ قَرِيۡبًا ؕ‏ 
( 7 )   But We see it [as] near.
This can have two meanings: (1) That these people think it cannot possibly take place, and in Our view it is going to take place very soon, (2) That these people think Resurrection is yet remote and far off, and in Our sight it is close at hand and may occur any moment.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Meaning, the believers believe that its occurrence is near, even though its time of occurrence is unknown and no one knows when it will be except Allah. All of what is approaching then it is near and it will definitely happen.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The men of evil may see the just retribution for their sins so far off that they doubt whether it would ever come. But in Allah's sight, and on the scale of the Universal Plan, it is quite near; for time as we know it hardly exists in the next world. It may come in this life; but it is bound to come eventually.

يَوۡمَ تَكُوۡنُ السَّمَآءُ كَالۡمُهۡلِۙ‏ 
( 8 )   On the Day the sky will be like murky oil,
A section of the commentators regard this sentence as related to “a day whose measure is fifty thousand years”; they say that the day whose measure has been stated to be fifty thousand years is the Day of Resurrection. In Musnad Ahmad and in the Tafsir by Ibn Jarir, a tradition has been related on the authority of Abu Saeed Khudri, saying: When wonder and amusement was expressed before the Prophet (peace be upon him) about the length of this Day with reference to this verse, he replied: By Him in Whose hand is my life, the believer will find the Day even lighter (of shorter duration) than the time he takes in performing an obligatory Prayer in the world. Had this tradition been reported through authentic channels, this verse could not be interpreted in any other way, but two of its transmitters, Darraj and his teacher Abul Haytham, are both weak and untrustworthy.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Terrors of the Day of Judgement - Allah says that the torment will befall the disbelievers. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ata, Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ikrimah, As-Suddi and others have all said, "Like the residue of oil.''

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Cf. xviii. 29 (where the wrong-doer will have a drink like melted brass in Hell); and xliv. 45, (where his food will be like molten brass). Here the appearance of the sky is compared to molten brass, or, as some understand it, like the dregs of oil. What is conveyed by the metaphor is that the beautiful blue sky will melt away.

وَتَكُوۡنُ الۡجِبَالُ كَالۡعِهۡنِۙ‏ 
( 9 )   And the mountains will be like wool,
As the colors of the mountains are different, when they are uprooted and they drift about weightless, they will appear like flakes of carded wool of different colors.
وَتَكُوۡنُ الۡجِبَالُ كَالۡعِهۡنِ الۡمَنۡفُوۡشِؕ‏ 
(Surah 101. Al-Qari'a:5) and the mountains shall be like fluffs of carded wool in varying colours.
This will be the first stage of Resurrection, when in consequence of the great disaster the whole of the present order of the world will be overthrown; the people will then be running about in confusion and bewilderment like so many scattered moths around a light; and the mountains will be flying about like carded wool of different colors. The mountains have been compared to wool of different colors because of the existence of a variety of colors in them.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Meaning, like fluffed wool. This was said by Mujahid, Qatadah and As-Suddi. This Ayah is similar to Allah's statement, (And the mountains will be like carded wool.) (101:5)  

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Cf. ci. 5. where the metaphor of carded wool is used. The mountains which seem so solid will be like flakes of wool driven by the carder's hand. 

وَلَا يَسۡـئَـلُ حَمِيۡمٌ حَمِيۡمًا ۖۚ
( 10 )   And no friend will ask [anything of] a friend,

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Meaning, no close friend will ask his close friend about his condition while he sees him in the worst of conditions. He will be worried about himself and will not be able to think of others. Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas, "Some of them will know others and they will be acquainted with each other. Then, they will flee from each other after that, as Allah says:
 (Every man that Day will have enough to make him careless of others.)'' (80:37) 
This honorable Ayah is similar to Allah's statement, (O mankind! Have Taqwa of your Lord, and fear a Day when no father can avail aught for his son, and nor a son avail aught for his father. Verily the promise of Allah is true.) (31:33) 
and He also says, (And if one heavily laden calls another to (bear) his load, nothing of it will be lifted even though he be near of kin.) (35:18) 
and He says, (Then, when the Trumpet is blown, there will be no kinship among them that Day, nor will they ask of one another.) (23:101) 
and similarly He says, (That day shall a man flee fom his brother, and from his mother and his father, and from his wife and his children. Every man that Day will have enough to make him careless of others.) (80:34-37) 
Yusuf Ali Explanation: The world as we know it win have so completely passed away that the landmarks in the heavens and on earth will also have vanished. Not only that, but the human relationships of mind and heart will have been transformed by sin into something ugly and dreadful. The sinners will be so overcome with terror at the realization of their personal responsibility that they will desert their most intimate friends, and indeed their very sight of each other will add to their agony.

يُّبَصَّرُوۡنَهُمۡ​ؕ يَوَدُّ الۡمُجۡرِمُ لَوۡ يَفۡتَدِىۡ مِنۡ عَذَابِ يَوۡمِـئِذٍۢ بِبَنِيۡهِۙ‏ 
( 11 )   They will be shown each other. The criminal will wish that he could be ransomed from the punishment of that Day by his children
Not so that they will not see each other, therefore they will not ask after each other’s welfare, but each will be seeing the other in agony and distress, yet will ignore him, being wholly preoccupied with his own torment.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The sinner will offer his children, his family, his kinsmen, who had sheltered and protected him,-in fact everything on earth that he could-as a ransom for himself. Such would be his selfishness and his agony.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (Verses 11-14) means, no ransom will be accepted from him even if he brought all of the people of the earth (as ransom), and the greatest wealth that he could find, even if it was enough gold to fill the entire earth. Even the child that he had who was dearer to him than the last beat of his heart in the life of this world, he would wish to use the child as a ransom for himself against the torment of Allah on the Day of Judgement when he sees the horrors. However, even this child would not be accepted from him (as a ransom).

وَ صَاحِبَتِهٖ وَاَخِيۡهِۙ‏ 
( 12 )   And his wife and his brother

وَفَصِيۡلَتِهِ الَّتِىۡ تُـْٔوِيۡهِۙ‏ 
( 13 )   And his nearest kindred who shelter him

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (" وَفَصِيلَتِهِ ") "This means his tribe and his kin.'' `Ikrimah said, "This means the subdivision of his tribe that he is from.'' Ashhab reported from Malik that he said, "His Fasilah is his mother.'' 

وَمَنۡ فِى الۡاَرۡضِ جَمِيۡعًا ۙ ثُمَّ يُنۡجِيۡهِۙ‏ 
( 14 )   And whoever is on earth entirely [so] then it could save him.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: What would not the sinner give for his own deliverance! But nothing could save him. The Fire of Hell would be roaring for him!

كَلَّا ؕ اِنَّهَا لَظٰىۙ‏
( 15 )   No! Indeed, it is the Flame [of Hell],

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Here He is describing the Hell- fire and the severity of its heat.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: That is the threatened punishment is the flame of Hell. The feminine pronoun in اِنَّہَا occurs in deference to fire.

نَزَّاعَةً لِّلشَّوٰى​ ۖ​ۚ‏ 
( 16 )   A remover of exteriors / that will strip off the scalp

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid both said, "It is the skin of the head.'' Al-Hasan Al-Basri and Thabit Al-Bunani both said, (Nazza`ah the Shawa!) "This means respectable parts of the face.'' 

Qatadah said, (Nazza`ah the Shawa!) "This means removing his important organs, and the respectable parts of his face, his creation and his limbs.'' Ad-Dahhak said, "This means it will scrape the flesh and the skin off of the bone until it leaves nothing of it remaining.'' Ibn Zayd said, "The Shawa is the marrow of the bones.'' 

As for " نَزَّاعَةً " (Nazza`ah) Ibn Zayd said, "It is cutting their bones and transformation of their skins and their form.''

Yusuf Ali Explanation: It would be a Fire not only burning his body, but reaching right up to his brains and his understanding and-as is said in civ. 7-his heart and affections also. In other words the Fire will burn into his inmost being.

تَدۡعُوۡا مَنۡ اَدۡبَرَ وَتَوَلّٰىۙ‏ 
( 17 )   It invites he who turned his back [on truth] and went away [from obedience]

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The analysis of sin is given in four master-strokes, of which the first two refer to the will or psychology of the sinner, and the last two to the use he makes of the good things of this life. (1) Sin begins with turning your back to the Right, refusing to face it squarely, running away from it whether from cowardice or indifference. (2) But Conscience and the sense of Right will try to prevent the flight; the Grace of Allah will meet the sinner at all corners and try to reclaim him; the hardened sinner will deliberately turn away his face from it, insult it, and reject it. (3) The result of this psychology will be that he will abandon himself to greed, to the correction of riches, and the acquisition of material advantages to which he is not entitled; this may involve hypocrisy, fraud, and crime. (4) Having acquired the material advantages, the next step will be to keep others out of them, to prevent hoarded wealth from fructifying by circulation, to conceal it from envy or spite. This is the spiritual Rake's Progress.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: The subtle use of the Arabic word تَدۡعُوۡ (to call) effectively conveys the fact that the calls of the Prophet (sws) are not influencing them; a day will come when Hell will call them.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (Verses 11-12) (Calling (all) such as turn their backs and turn away their faces. And collect and hide it.) meaning, the Fire will call out to its children whom Allah created for it, determining that they will perform the deeds deserving of it in the worldly life. So it will call them on the Day of Judgement with an eloquent and articulate tongue. Then it will pick them out from the people of the gathering just as birds pick seeds. This is because they were, as Allah said, of those who turned their backs and turned away. This means they denied with their hearts and abandoned the performance of deeds with their limbs.

(" وَجَمَعَ فَأَوْعَى  " And collect and hide it.) meaning, he gathered wealth piling it up, and he concealed it, meaning he hid it and refused to give the obligatory right of Allah that was due on it of spending and paying the Zakah. 

It has been recorded in a Hadith that the Prophet said, (Do not hold back (your wealth) or else Allah will hold back from you.)

وَجَمَعَ فَاَوۡعٰى‏ 
( 18 )   And collected [wealth] and hoarded.
Here also, as in (Surah Al-Haqqah, Ayats 33-34), two causes have been mentioned of a person’s evil end in the Hereafter:

(1) His repudiation of the truth and refusal to affirm faith.

(2) His worship of the world and stinginess because of which he amasses wealth and refuses to spend it on any good cause.

اِنَّ الۡاِنۡسَانَ خُلِقَ هَلُوۡعًا ۙ‏ 
( 19 )   Indeed, mankind was created anxious:
“Man has been created impatient”: It is man’s nature or his natural weakness to be impatient. Here, one should keep in view that at many places in the Quran, after making mention of mankind’s common moral weaknesses, those who believe and adopted righteousness have been made an exception; the same theme is being expressed in the following verses. This by itself explains the truth that these hereditary weaknesses are not unalterable. If man accepts the guidance sent down by God and tries to reform himself practically, he can remove them, and if he gives a free rope to his self, these become ingrained in him deeply. (For further explanation, (see E.N. 41 of Surah Al-Anbiya), (E.Ns 23-28 of Surah Az-Zumar); (E.N. 75 of Surah Ash- Shura).

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Lit., "man has been created restless (halu'an)" - that is, endowed with an inner restlessness which may equally well drive him to fruitful achievement or to chronic discontent and frustration. In other words, it is the manner in which man utilizes this God-willed endowment that determines whether it shall have a positive or a negative character. The subsequent two verses ({20} and {21}) allude to the latter, while verses {22-25} show that only true spiritual and moral consciousness can mould that inborn restlessness into a positive force, and thus bring about inner stability and abiding contentment.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Man, according to the Plan of Allah, was to be in the best of moulds (xcv. 4). But in order to fulfil his high destiny he was given free-will to a limited extent. The wrong use of this free-will makes his nature weak (iv. 28), or hasty (xvii. 11), or impatient, as here. That becomes his nature by his own act, but he is spoken of as so created because of the capacities given to him in his creation.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: This expression signifies the dominance of something in man’s nature. In the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, if a dish is excessively saltish it can be said that it has been made of salt. The element of haste and impatience in a man’s nature is not something condemnable in itself and has its own importance in his nature. It is only when it manifests itself in an immoderate manner or out of place that it becomes harmful.

The word الۡاِنۡسَان refers to the wretched people who are already under discussion. When a group of people is mentioned in this way, then the speaker wants to show indifference to them; in fact, wants to belittle them.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Man is Impatient Allah informs about man and his inclination to corrupt his behavior - Allah says, (Verily, man was created very impatient;) 

Then, Allah explains this statement by saying:

اِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ جَزُوۡعًا ۙ‏ 
( 20 )   When evil touches him, impatient,

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, whenever any harm touches him he is frightful, worried and completely taken back due to the severity of his terror and his despair that he will receive any good after it.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: ([As a rule,] whenever misfortune touches him, he is filled with self-pity;) The participle jazu' " جَزُوۡ " - derived from the verb jazi'a - combines the concepts of "lacking patience" and "lamenting over one's misfortune", and is therefore the contrary of sabr (Jawhari).

وَاِذَا مَسَّهُ الۡخَيۡرُ مَنُوۡعًا ۙ‏ 
( 21 )   And when good touches him, withholding [of it],

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, if he attains any blessing from Allah, he is stingy with it, not sharing it with others. He will withhold the right of Allah with that blessing. 
Imam Ahmad said that Abu `Abdur-Rahman informed them that Musa bin `Ali bin Rabah told them that he heard his father narrating from `Abdul-`Aziz bin Marwan bin Al-Hakim that he heard Abu Hurayrah saying, "The Messenger of Allah said, (The worst thing that can be in a man is greedy impatience and unrestrained cowardice.) Abu Dawud recorded this Hadith from `Abdullah bin Al-Jarrah on the authority of Abu `Abdur-Rahman Al-Muqri', and this is the only Hadith through `Abdul-`Aziz with him.
Yusuf Ali Explanation: In adversity he complains and gets into despair. In prosperity he becomes arrogant and forgets other people's rights and his own shortcomings. Cf. xli. 49-50.

اِلَّا الۡمُصَلِّيۡنَۙ‏ 
( 22 )   Except the observers of prayer -
A person’s performing the salat necessarily implies that he believes in Allah, His Messenger (peace be upon him), His Book and the Hereafter as well as tries to act according to his belief.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, man is described with blameworthy characteristics except for He whom Allah protects, helps and guides to good, making its means easy for him -- and these are those people who perform Salah.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: This, I believe, is the meaning of the expression al-musallin " الۡمُصَلِّيۡنَۙ‏ "(lit., "the praying ones"), which evidently does not relate here to the mere ritual of prayer but, rather, as the next verse shows, to the attitude of mind and the spiritual need underlying it. In this sense it connects with the statement in verse {19} that "man is born with a restless disposition" which, when rightly used, leads him towards conscious spiritual growth, as well as to freedom from all self-pity and selfishness.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The description of those devoted to Prayer is given in a number of clauses that follow, introduced by the words "Those who..." "Devoted to Prayer" is here but another aspect of what is described elsewhere as the Faithful and the Righteous. Devotion to prayer does not mean merely a certain number of formal rites or prostrations. It means a complete surrender of one's being to Allah. This means an earnest approach to and realization of Allah's Presence ("steadfastness in Prayer"); acts of practical and real charity; and attempt to read this life in terms of the Hereafter; the seeking of the Peace of Allah and avoidance of His displeasure; chastity; probity true and firm witness; and guarding the prayer. (verse 34).

الَّذِيۡنَ هُمۡ عَلٰى صَلَاتِهِمۡ دَآئِمُوۡنَ
( 23 )   Those who are constant in their prayer
That is, no laziness or love of ease and comfort, no occupation or interest hinders them from being punctual and regular at the prayer. When the Prayer time comes, they abandon every occupation and activity and stand up to perform worship of their God. Another meaning which Uqbah bin Amir has given of ala salat-i-him daaimun " عَلٰى صَلَاتِهِمۡ دَآئِمُوۡنَ " is that they perform the Prayer with full peace of mind, tranquility and humility; they do not try to offer the Prayer in a hurry in order to get rid of it somehow, nor think irrelevant things during the Prayer.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: It has been said that this means they guard its times and the elements obligatory in it. This has been said by Ibn Mas`ud, Masruq and Ibrahim An-Nakha`i. It has also been said that it means tranquility and humble concentration (in the prayer). 
This is similar to Allah's statement, (Successful indeed are the believers. Those who with their Salah are Khashi`un.) (23:1-2) This was said by `Uqbah bin `Amir. From its meanings is the same terminology used to describe standing (still) water (Al-Ma' Ad-Da'im). This proves the obligation of having tranquility in the prayer. For verily, the one who does not have tranquility (stillness of posture) in his bowing and prostrating, then he is not being constant (Da'im) in his prayer. This is because he is not being still in it and he does not remain (in its positions), rather he pecks in it (quickly) like the pecking of the crow. Therefore, he is not successful in performing his prayer. It has also been said that the meaning here refers to those who perform a deed and are constant in its performance and consistent in it. 
This is like the Hadith that has been recorded in the Sahih on the authority of `A'ishah that the Messenger of Allah said, (The most beloved deeds to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if they are few.) 

وَالَّذِيۡنَ فِىۡۤ اَمۡوَالِهِمۡ حَقٌّ مَّعۡلُوۡمٌ 
( 24 )   And those within whose wealth is a known right

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Verses 24-25 - meaning, in their wealth is a determined portion for those who are in need.

لِّلسَّآئِلِ وَالۡمَحۡرُوۡمِ 
( 25 )   For the petitioner and the deprived -
In ( Surah Adh-Dhariyat, Ayat 19), it has been said: In their wealth there is a right of the beggar and the needy, and here: In their wealth there is a due share of the beggar and the needy. Some people have understood this to mean that the due share implies the obligatory zakat, for in the zakat both the exemption limit and the rate have been fixed. But this commentary cannot be accepted on the ground that the Surah Al-Maarij is unanimously a Makkan Revelation, and the zakat with its specific exemption limit and rate was enjoined at Al-Madinah. Therefore, the correct meaning of the due share is that they have of their own accord set aside a share in their possessions of the beggar and needy, which they discharge regularly and honestly. This same meaning of this verse has been given by Abdullah bin Abbas, Abdullah bin Umar, Mujahid, Shabi and Ibrahim Nakhai.

Here, saail does not imply a beggar but a needy person, who asks someone for help, and mahroom implies a person who is jobless, or the one who tries to earn a living but does not earn enough to meet his needs, or the one who has become disabled because of an accident or calamity, and is unable to make a living. About such people when it becomes known that they are destitute, a God-worshipper does not wait that they should ask for help, but helps them of his own accord as soon as he comes to know that they are needy and stand in need of help. (For further explanation, (explanation of Surah 51Adh-Dhariyat: 19).

Yusuf Ali Explanation: See explanation to li. 19. True charity consists in finding out those in real need, whether they ask or not. Most frequently those who ask are idle men who insolently wish to live upon others. But all cases of those who ask should be duly investigated, in case a little timely help may set the erring on the way. But the man with wealth or talent or opportunity has the further responsibility of searching out those in need of his assistance, in order to show that he holds all gifts in trust for the service of his fellow- creatures.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: After the prayer, this is the second thing. In other words, the share which the poor have in the wealth of people in the form of zakah should be paid to them. The Arabs were fully aware of it as an Abrahamic tradition. It is evident from the Qur’an that two things are needed in this world for a person to remain a true servant of God: one of them is that his relationship with his creator is established on the right footing and the other one is that he is linked in the right way to God’s creation. The first of these is obtained through the prayer as it is the foremost manifestation of a person’s love for the Almighty and the second from spending for His cause as this is the foremost manifestation of a person’s love for God’s creation.

وَالَّذِيۡنَ يُصَدِّقُوۡنَ بِيَوۡمِ الدِّيۡنِ‏ 
( 26 )   And those who believe in the Day of Recompense
“Who believe in the Day of Recompense”: Who do not think they are irresponsible but believe that one Day they will have to appear before their God and render to Him an account of their deeds.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, they are sure of the Final Return (to Allah), the Reckoning and the Recompense. Therefore, they perform the deeds of one who hopes for the reward and fears the punishment. 

For this reason Allah says: 

وَالَّذِيۡنَ هُمۡ مِّنۡ عَذَابِ رَبِّهِمۡ مُّشۡفِقُوۡنَ​ۚ‏ 
( 27 )   And those who are fearful of the punishment of their Lord -
 In other words, they are not like the disbelievers, who do not fear God even after they have committed every heinous sin and crime and perpetrated every cruelty in the world, but they, in spite of having adopted a righteous attitude in morals and deeds as best as they could, fear God and continue to remain in constant awe lest their shortcomings should exceed their good works before Him and they should be declared as worthy of punishment. (For further explanation, see (Surah 23.Al-Mominoon 60), (Surah 51 Adh-Dhariyat: 21).

Yusuf Ali Explanation: A true fear of Allah is the fear of offending against His holy Will and Law, and is therefore akin to the love of Allah. It proceeds from the realisation that all true peace and tranquillity comes from attuning our will to the universal Will and that sin causes discord, disharmony, and displeasure,-another name for the Wrath of Allah.

اِنَّ عَذَابَ رَبِّهِمۡ غَيۡرُ مَاۡمُوۡنٍ‏
( 28 )   Indeed, the punishment of their Lord is not that from which one is safe -

Muhammad Asad Explanation: This warning against pharisaic self-righteousness implies that however "good" a person may be, there is always a possibility of his or her having done a moral wrong (e.g., an injury to a fellow-being) and then conveniently "forgotten" this sin. Elliptically, this warning contains a call to increasing consciousness in all one's doings - for, "temptation to evil (fitnah) does not befall only those who are bent on denying the truth" 8:25 , but may also befall people who are otherwise righteous.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: I.e., that the punishment of sin may come suddenly at any time, when you least expect it.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, no one is safe from it (Allah's torment) of those who understand the command from Allah, except by the security of Allah Himself. Then Allah says:

وَالَّذِيۡنَ هُمۡ لِفُرُوۡجِهِمۡ حٰفِظُوۡنَۙ‏ 
( 29 )   And those who guard their private parts
“Who guard their private parts”: Who abstain from adultery as well as from nudity and exposing their private parts before others. (For explanation, see( Surah 23. Al-Mominoon: 5), (Surah 24. An-Noor: 30, 31)) and (Surah 33Al-Ahzab: 35).

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:  meaning, they keep their private parts away from that which is forbidden and they prevent their private parts from being put into other than what Allah has allowed them to be in. This is why Allah says:

اِلَّا عَلٰٓى اَزۡوَاجِهِمۡ اَوۡ مَا مَلَـكَتۡ اَيۡمَانُهُمۡ فَاِنَّهُمۡ غَيۡرُ مَلُوۡمِيۡنَ​ۚ‏ 
( 30 )   Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they are not to be blamed -

Muhammad Asad Explanation: See the identical passage in {23:5-7}, as well as the corresponding note [3], in which I have fully explained the reasons for my rendering of the phrase aw ma malakat aymanuhum as "that is those whom they rightfully possess [through wedlock]". 
(23:5) and who are mindful of their chastity,
(23:6) [not giving way to their desires] with any but their spouses - that is, those whom they rightfully possess [through wedlock] -: for then, behold, they are free of all blame,
(23:7) whereas such as seek to go beyond that [limit] are truly transgressors;
Note 3 to verse 23:6:
Lit., "or those whom their right hands possess" (aw ma malakat aymanuhum). Most of the commentators assume unquestioningly that this relates to female slaves, and that the particle aw ("or") denotes a permissible alternative. This conventional interpretation is, in my opinion inadmissible inasmuch as it is based on the assumption that sexual intercourse with one's female slave is permitted without marriage: an assumption which is contradicted by the Qur'an itself (see 4:3 , {24}, {25} and 24:32 , with the corresponding notes). Nor is this the only objection to the above-mentioned interpretation. Since the Qur'an applies the term "believers" to men and women alike, and since the term azwaj ("spouses"), too, denotes both the male and the female partners in marriage, there is no reason for attributing to the phrase aw ma malakat aymanuhum the meaning of "their female slaves"; and since, on the other hand, it is out of the question that female and male slaves could have been referred to here, it is obvious that this phrase does not relate to slaves at all, but has the same meaning as in 4:24 - namely, "those whom they rightfully possess through wedlock" - with the significant difference that in the present context this expression relates to both husbands and wives, who "rightfully possess" one another by virtue of marriage. On the basis of this interpretation, the particle aw which precedes this clause does not denote an alternative ("or") but is, rather, in the nature of an explanatory amplification, more or less analgous to the phrase "in other words" or "that is", thus giving to the whole sentence the meaning, "...save with their spouses - that is, those whom they rightfully possess [through wedlock]...", etc. (Cf. a similar construction 25:62 - "for him who has the will to take thought - that is [lit., "or"], has the will to be grateful".)
As regards this interpretation, see also Razi's comments on 4:24 (appended below) , as well as one of the alternative interpretations of that verse advanced by Tabari on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas and Mujahid.
The term muhsanah signifies literally "a woman who is fortified [against unchastity]", and carries three senses: (1) "a married woman", (2) "a chaste woman", and (3) "a free woman". According to almost all the authorities, al-muhsanat denotes in the above context "married women". As for the expression ma malakat aymanukum ("those whom your right hands possess", i.e., "those whom you rightfully possess"), it is often taken to mean female slaves captured in a war in god's cause (see in this connection 8:67 , and the corresponding note). The commentators who choose this meaning hold that such slave-girls can be taken in marriage irrespective of whether they have husbands in the country of their origin or not. However, quite apart from the fundamental differences of opinion, even among the Companions of the Prophet, regarding the legality of such a marriage, some of the most outstanding commentators hold the view that ma malakat aymanukum denotes here "women whom you rightfully possess through wedlock"; thus Razi in his commentary on this verse, and Tabari in one of his alternative explanations (going back to 'Abd Allah ibn 'Abbas, Mujahid, and others). Razi, in particular, points out that the reference to "all married women" (al-muhsanat min an-nisa'), coming as it does after the enumeration of prohibited degrees of relationship, is meant to stress the prohibition of sexual relations with any woman other than one's lawful wife.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: Besides wives, this permission was granted for slave-women as well because till then no possibility had arisen for them to lead respectable lives as free and decent women. 

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:  (for (then) they are not blameworthy. But whosoever seeks beyond that, then it is those who are trespassers.) The explanation of this has already preceded at the beginning of Surat Al-Mu'minun, and therefore does not need to be repeated here. Allah said:

فَمَنِ ابۡتَغٰى وَرَآءَ ذٰلِكَ فَاُولٰٓـئِكَ هُمُ الۡعٰدُوۡنَ​ۚ‏ 
( 31 )   But whoever seeks beyond that, then they are the transgressors -

وَالَّذِيۡنَ هُمۡ لِاَمٰنٰتِهِمۡ وَعَهۡدِهِمۡ رٰعُوۡنَ ۙ‏ 
( 32 )   And those who are to their trusts and promises attentive
“Trusts” imply those trusts which Allah has entrusted to men as well as those which one man entrusts to another because of faith and confidence. Likewise, “promises” imply those promises which man makes with his God as well as those which one man makes with another. Keeping and fulfilling both these kinds of trusts and promises is a necessary characteristic of a believer. In a Hadith Anas has reported that whenever the Prophet (peace be upon him) addressed his companions, he would always give them the instruction: Beware, the one who does not keep his trust has no faith, and one who does not fulfill his pledges, has no religion. (Baihaqi, Ash-Shuab al-Imam).

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:  meaning, if they are given a trust they do not deceit and when they make a covenant they do not break it. These are the characteristics of the believers which are opposite of the characteristics of the hypocrites.
This is like what is reported in the authentic Hadith, (The signs of the hypocrites are three. When he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise, and when he is given a trust he behaves treacherously (with it).) 
In another narration it states, (When he speaks he lies, when he makes a covenant he breaks it, and when he argues he is abusive.)
Yusuf Ali Explanation: For obligations of trusts and covenants, express or implied, see n. 682 to v. 1. They are just as sacred in ordinary everyday life as they are in special spiritual relationships. In addition, our life itself, and such reason and talents as we possess, as well as our wealth and possessions are trusts, of which we must fulfil the duties punctiliously.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: The word “promise” is used here in a wide meaning. 
Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi has explained this. He writes: … Included in it is the promise which comes into existence by expressing words and also the promise which is not expressed in words but is acknowledged by the society; similarly, the promise taken by the Almighty from human nature is included here. The most important aspect of this promise is the promise and covenant which the Almighty has bound us in through his prophets and messengers; its statutes are expressly enshrined in the shari‘ah. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 8, 576)
وَالَّذِيۡنَ هُمۡ بِشَهٰدٰتِهِمۡ قَآئِمُوۡنَ ۙ‏ 
( 33 )   And those who are in their testimonies upright
That is, they neither conceal evidence nor change it in any way for selfish motives.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:  This means that they guard their testimonies. They do not add or decrease from what they testify to nor do they conceal their testimonies. 

Allah says in another Ayah: (Who hides it, surely, his heart is sinful.) (2:283)

Yusuf Ali Explanation: If we know any truth of any kind, to that we must bear witness, as affecting the lives or interests of our fellow-beings,-firmly, not half-heartedly, without fear or favour, even if it causes loss or trouble to us, or if it loses us friends or associates.

وَالَّذِيۡنَ هُمۡ عَلٰى صَلَاتِهِمۡ يُحَافِظُوۡنَؕ‏  
( 34 )   And those who [carefully] maintain their prayer:
This gives an idea of the importance of the Prayer (salat). The description of the merits of the high and sublime character of those who have been declared as worthy of Paradise, began with the Prayer and has been concluded with it. To be a performer of the Prayer is their first characteristic, to be steadfast and ever constant with regard to the Prayer is their second characteristic, and to guard their Prayer is their last characteristic. Guarding the Prayer implies many things: to perform the Prayer at its right time, to make sure before the Prayer that one’s body and clothes are clean and pure, to have performed the ablutions and to have washed the limbs well, to perform the basic elements of the Prayer with its obligatory and desirable parts with due care and attention, to observe the requisite rites of the Prayer carefully, to avoid disobedience of God, which is destructive of the Prayer. All these are included in the guarding of the Prayer.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: We began with "steadfastness in prayer" in verse 23 above, and after a review of various aspects of the good man's fife, close with the guarding of worship.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: Ie., they protect their prayer from afflictions which destroy all its benefits. It needs to be kept in mind that earlier it was with the mention of their observance of the prayer that the qualities of the righteous began and now at the end of this list the prayer is mentioned again. It is evident from this that the prayer is the fountainhead of all good and it is the prayer which protects it as well.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:  meaning, they maintain its proper times, its pillars, its obligations and its recommended acts. So Allah begins this discussion (of the believers' attributes) with prayer and He concludes it with prayer. This proves the importance of it and the praise of its noble status, just as what preceded at the beginning of Surat Al-Mu'minun. It is exactly the same discussion. 
This is why Allah says there (in Al-Mu'minun): (These are indeed the inheritors. Who shall inherit the Firdaws (Paradise). They shall dwell therein forever.) (23:10-11)
And He says here (verse 35 below): (Such shall dwell in the Gardens, honored.) meaning, they will be honored with various types of pleasures and delights.

اُولٰٓـئِكَ فِىۡ جَنّٰتٍ مُّكۡرَمُوۡنَؕ
( 35 )   They will be in gardens, honored.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: This verse also critiques the arrogant among the Quraysh who thought that if ever the Hereafter comes, they would be conferred the same high rank and status as they have in this world.

Ruku One [Verses 36-44]

فَمَالِ الَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡا قِبَلَكَ مُهۡطِعِيۡنَۙ‏ 
( 36 )   So what is [the matter] with those who disbelieve, hastening [from] before you, [O Muhammad],

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Before thee. The Unbelievers did not believe in a Hereafter. When the Bliss of the Hereafter was described, as in the last verse, they ridiculed it and pretended to be running in for it as in a race. They are here rebuked in the same tone of sarcasm.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: The Rebuke of the Disbelievers and the Threat against Them - Allah rebukes the disbelievers who, in the time of the Prophet , saw him and the guidance Allah sent him with. They witnessed the magnificent miracles Allah aided him with. Then, after all of this they fled from him and separated themselves from him. They fled right and left, group by group and party by party. 

This is as Allah says, (Then what is wrong with them that they run away from admonition As if they were (frightened) wild donkeys. Fleeing from a beast of prey.) (74:49-51) This is the example of disbeliever. And this Ayah is similar. 

As Allah says, (" فَمَالِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ قِبَلَكَ مُهْطِعِينَ " So what is the matter with those disbelievers, before you Muhti`in) meaning, `what is wrong with these disbelievers who are with you, O Muhammad Why are they Muhti`in, meaning hastily running away from you' This is as Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, "Muhti`in means departing.''

عَنِ الۡيَمِيۡنِ وَعَنِ الشِّمَالِ عِزِيۡنَ‏ 
( 37 )   [To sit] on [your] right and [your] left in separate groups?
This refers to those disbelievers who would rush in towards the Prophet (peace be upon him) from every side to mock and ridicule him when they heard him preach Islam and recite the Quran.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: The singular of `Izin is `Izah, which means separating. meaning in their separating and their differing. 

Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas about the Ayah; (" فَمَالِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ قِبَلَكَ مُهْطِعِينَ " So what is the matter with those disbelievers, before you Muhti`in.) "They are looking in your direction.'' 

Then the Ayah; (" عَنِ الْيَمِينِ وَعَنِ الشِّمَالِ عِزِينَ " On the right and on the left, `Izin.) he (Ibn `Abbas) said, "Al-`Izin is a group among the people. On the right and on the left means they are turning away (right and left) from him (the Prophet ) and mocking him.'' Jabir bin Samurah narrated that the Messenger of Allah came out to them while they were sitting in circles. 

So the Messenger of Allah said, (Why do I see you all `Izin (in groups).) Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa'i and Ibn Jarir all recorded this Hadith.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: This, again, connects with the statement in verse {19}, "man is born with a restless disposition" (see explanation of verse 19 above). People who do not want to see the truth of God's existence and have, therefore, no solid basis on which to build their world-view, are, by the same token, unable to conceive any definite standards of personal and social ethics. Hence, whenever they are confronted with anyone's positive assertion of faith, they "run about to and fro" in spiritual confusion, trying, in order to justify themselves intellectually, to demolish the premises of that faith by means of many-sided, contradictory arguments - an endeavour depicted in the metaphor "coming upon thee from the right and from the left"; and since they derive all their strength from a conformity with shallow mass-opinions, they can do this only "in crowds".

اَيَطۡمَعُ كُلُّ امۡرِىءٍ مِّنۡهُمۡ اَنۡ يُّدۡخَلَ جَنَّةَ نَعِيۡمٍۙ‏
( 38 )   Does every person among them aspire to enter a garden of pleasure?
It means that God’s Paradise is only for those righteous people whose characteristics have just been described above, Now, can these people who are not at all inclined to listen to the truth and who are rushing in towards the Prophet (peace be upon him) in order to suppress every invitation to the truth, be the candidates for Paradise? Has God prepared His Paradise only for such people as these. Here, one should also keep in view (verses 34-41 of Surah Al-Qalam ) in which an answer has been given to this saying of the disbelievers of Makkah: Even if there is any life after death, we shall have good time there too, as we are having in the world, and the torment would befall Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his followers and not us.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, is this their wish, yet they flee from the Messenger in aversion to the truth Are they hoping that they will be admitted into the Gardens of Delight Nay, rather their abode is Hell. Then Allah affirms the occurrence of the Final Abode and the torment that will befall them that they are denying its existence and claiming it to be something farfetched. As a proof against them, Allah mentions the initiation of creation, and that repeating the process is something easier than performing it the first time. This is something that they themselves confess to. 

Allah says:

كَلَّا ؕ اِنَّا خَلَقۡنٰهُمۡ مِّمَّا يَعۡلَمُوۡنَ‏   
( 39 )   No! Indeed, We have created them from that which they know.
Here, this sentence can have two meanings:

(1) If it is taken to be related to the preceding theme, it will mean: As for the substance these people have been created from, all men are equal. For if the substance itself be the cause of man’s entry into Paradise, then the good and the bad, the wicked and the just, the guilty and the innocent, all should go to Paradise. But a little common sense is enough to decide that man’s qualifications for Paradise are created not on the basis of the substance of his creation but only on the basis of his merit and excellence.

(2) If this sentence is regarded as an introduction to the following theme, it would mean: These people think they are secure from Our torment and mock the one who warns them of Our punishment, whereas We can punish them even in this world as and when We please, as well as resurrect them after death as and when We like. They themselves know that We began their creation from an insignificant sperm-drop and developed them into a living man. If they had only considered this mode of their creation, they would never have been involved in the misunderstanding that they now have escaped Our grasp, or that We have no power to create them over again.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Namely, out of "dust", - i.e., out of the same primitive organic and inorganic substances as are found in and on the earth: the implication being that only spiritual consciousness and endeavour can raise man above the mere material form of his existence, and thus enable him to achieve the inner fulfilment metaphorically described here as "a garden of bliss".

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The animal part of man is nothing to be proud of, and they know it. It is by spiritual effort, and long preparation through a good life that a man can rise above the mere animal part of him to his high dignity as a spiritual being, and his noble destiny in the Hereafter.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, from despised semen. This is as Allah says, (Did We not create you from a despised water (semen)) (77:20) 

Allah also says, (So let man see from what he is created! He is created from a water gushing forth. Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs. Verily He is able to bring him back! The Day when all the secrets will be examined. Then he will have no power, nor any helper.) (86:5-10) 

فَلَاۤ اُقۡسِمُ بِرَبِّ الۡمَشٰرِقِ وَالۡمَغٰرِبِ اِنَّا لَقٰدِرُوۡنَۙ‏ 
( 40 )   So I swear by the Lord of [all] risings and settings that indeed We are able
That is, the truth is not that which these people think it is.

Here, Allah has sworn an oath by Himself. The words Easts and Wests have been used because the sun rises and sets at a new angle every day during the year, and goes on rising and setting successively at different times around the globe. Thus considered the Easts and the Wests are not one but many. From another point of view as against the north and the south there is a direction of east and a direction of west. On this basis in( Surah Ash-Shuara, Ayat 28) and( Surah Al-Muzzammi1, Ayat 19 )the words Rabb-ulmashriqi wal-maghrib have been used. From still another view-point the earth has two easts and two wests, for when the sun sets on one hemisphere, it rises on the other. On this basis the words Rabb-ul-mashriqayn wa Rabb-ulmaghribayn (Lord of two easts and two wests) have been used in (Surah 55. Ar-Rahman, Ayat 17). 

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (" فَلاَ أُقْسِمُ بِرَبِّ الْمَشَـرِقِ وَالْمَغَـرِبِ " But no! I swear by the Lord of the easts and the wests) meaning, the One Who created the heavens and the earth and made the east and the west. He is the One Who subjected the stars causing them to appear in the eastern parts of the sky and vanish in the western parts of it. The point of this statement is that the matter is not as the disbelievers claim: that there is no final return, no reckoning, no resurrection and no gathering. Rather all of this will occur and come to pass. There is no way of avoiding it. This is the reason that Allah has stated a negation at the beginning of this oath. This shows that He is swearing by a denial of their claim. This is a refutation of their false claim of rejecting the Day of Judgement. They already witnessed the greatness of Allah's power in what is more convincing than the Day of Judgement, that is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the subjection of the creatures in them, the animals, the inanimate objects and the other types of creatures that exist. 
This is why Allah says: (The creation of the heavens and the earth is indeed greater than the creation of mankind; yet, most of mankind know not.) (40:57) Allah also says: (Do they not see that Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, and was not wearied by their creation, is able to give life to the dead Yes, He surely is Able to do all things.) (46:33) 
Allah says in another Ayah: (Is not He Who created the heavens and the earth, able to create the like of them Yes, indeed! He is the All-Knowing Supreme Creator. Verily, His command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, "Be!''-- and it is!) (36:81,82) 
So here He says: (But no! I swear by the Lord of the easts and the wests that surely We are Able --to replace them by (others) better than them..) meaning, `on the Day of Judgement We will bring them back (to life) in bodies that are better than these bodies that they have now.' For verily, Allah's power is suitable (able) to do that.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: I.e., of all the variation, throughout the solar year, of the points at which the sun "rises" and "sets": thus stressing the fact that He is the Ultimate Cause of all orbital movement in the universe and, hence, its Creator (cf. 37:5 and 55:17 ).

Yusuf Ali Explanation: For the form of adjuration, cf. lxix. 38, also lvi. 75. Here the witness placed before us by Allah is His own power and glory manifested in the splendour of sunrise and sunset at different points through the solar year.

See explanation to xxxvii. 5. If Allah has such power in the wonderful phenomena of the rising of the sun at varying points, repeated year after year, can you not see that He can easily substitute better men than you Unbelievers and blasphemers?

The transition from the singular "I" to the plural "We" may be noted. See ii. 38.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: The actual words are مَشٰرِق and مَغٰرِب. They are in the plural form and it is known that the plural at times comes to refer to the vastness and boundaries of a thing. I have translated them accordingly. Also becomes evident from this usage of the plural form is that this oath is meant to bear testimony to the advent of the Hereafter on the basis of God’s unbounded power. The implication is that it is not difficult at all for the Lord at whose behest the sun, the moon, and billions of stars rise and set to create people again when they die and become dust. What is it in the world which can hinder His intention to materialize?

عَلٰٓى اَنۡ نُّبَدِّلَ خَيۡرًا مِّنۡهُمۡۙ وَمَا نَحۡنُ بِمَسۡبُوۡقِيۡنَ‏ 
( 41 )   To replace them with better than them; and We are not to be outdone.
This is that for which Allah Almighty has sworn an oath of His being Lord of the Easts and Wests. It means: As We are Owners of the Easts and Wests, the whole earth is under Our control and power, and you have no power to escape Our punishment: We can destroy you as and when We like and can create another people that may be better than you.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: The implication is that it is not His will to replace "those who are bent on denying the truth" in this world, by believers, inasmuch as such a "replacement" would not be in accord with His design of multiform human existence, in which faith is always challenged and tested by unbelief, and vice versa.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (" وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمَسْبُوقِينَ " and We are not to be outrun.) meaning, `We are not unable.' 
This is as Allah says: (Does man think that We shall not assemble his bones Yes, We are able to put together in perfect order the tips of his fingers.) (75:3,4) 
Allah also says, (We have decreed death to you all, and We are not outstripped. To transfigure you and create you in (forms) that you know not.) (56:60,61) 
Ibn Jarir preferred the meaning to be: `a nation who will obey Us and not disobey Us.' He (Ibn Jarir) interpreted it in the same way as Allah's statements, (To replace them by (others) better than them..) and: (And if you turn away, He will exchange you for some other people and they will not be like you.) (47:38) However, the first interpretation is more obvious since the other Ayat support that, and Allah the Most High knows best. 

Then Allah says,

فَذَرۡهُمۡ يَخُوۡضُوۡا وَيَلۡعَبُوۡا حَتّٰى يُلٰقُوۡا يَوۡمَهُمُ الَّذِىۡ يُوۡعَدُوۡنَۙ‏ 
( 42 )   So leave them to converse vainly and amuse themselves until they meet their Day which they are  promised -

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (" فَذَرْهُمْ " So leave them) meaning, `O Muhammad!' (" يَخُوضُواْ وَيَلْعَبُواْ " to plunge in vain talk and play about,) meaning, leave them in their denial, disbelief and obstinance. (" حَتَّى يُلَـقُواْ يَوْمَهُمُ الَّذِى يُوعَدُونَ " until they meet their Day which they are promised.) meaning, they are going to know the outcome of that and taste its evil consequences.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: I.e., their philosophizing about a supposedly "uncreated" world and a hypothetical "self-generation" of life, as well as their blatant "denial", unsupported by any factual evidence, of a life after death or even of the existence of God.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Their talk, their skepticism, is vain, because all spiritual evidence is against it; it is like the foolish play of people who do not think seriously. But the tremendous Day of Judgment and Reality will come, as described in the next two verses.

يَوۡمَ يَخۡرُجُوۡنَ مِنَ الۡاَجۡدَاثِ سِرَاعًا كَاَنَّهُمۡ اِلٰى نُصُبٍ يُّوۡفِضُوۡنَۙ‏ 
( 43 )   The Day they will emerge from the graves rapidly as if they were, toward an erected idol, hastening.
 There is a difference of opinion among the commentators about the meaning of the word nusub " نُصُبٍ ". Some have interpreted it to mean idols, according to which the meaning would be: They would be racing towards the place appointed by the Lord of Resurrection as they race today towards the shrines of their idols; and some others have taken nusub to mean the goal signs which are set for the competitors in a race, so that each tries to reach and touch the appointed post before the

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, they will stand up out of their graves when the Lord, Blessed be He the Most High, calls them to the place of the reckoning. They will rise up quickly as if they were rushing towards some monumental object. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Ad-Dahhak, all said, "As if they were rushing towards a flag.'' Abu `Aliyah and Yahya bin Abi Kathir both said, "As if they were rushing towards a goal.'' The majority of reciters recited this word as "Nasb'' (instead of Nusub) with a Fathah over the letter Nun and a Sukun over the letter Sad. This (Nasb) is a verbal noun meaning something that is erected. Al-Hasan Al-Basri recited it as "Nusub'' with a Dammah over both the letter Nun and Sad. This (Nusub) means an idol. With this recitation the Ayah means, as if their rushing to this place was like when they used to hurry in the worldly life to the idol when they saw it. They would rush hurriedly to see who would be the first of them to touch it. This has been reported from Mujahid, Yahya bin Abi Kathir, Muslim Al-Batin, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, Abu Salih, `Asim bin Bahdalah, Ibn Zayd and others. 

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Now there will be a definite Goal-post or Banner or Standard of Truth fixed, which all must acknowledge. But they will acknowledge it in shame and dejection. For the time for their repentance and amendment will then have passed.

خَاشِعَةً اَبۡصَارُهُمۡ تَرۡهَقُهُمۡ ذِلَّةٌ ؕ ذٰلِكَ الۡيَوۡمُ الَّذِىۡ كَانُوۡا يُوۡعَدُوۡنَ
( 44 )   Their eyes humbled, humiliation will cover them. That is the Day which they had been promised.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: The concept of "again and again" - i.e., by a succession, through the ages, of prophetic revelations - is implied in the auxiliary verb kanu, which usually connotes repetition and/or duration.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (" خَـشِعَةً أَبْصَـرُهُمْ " With their eyes lowered in fear) meaning humbled. (" تَرْهَقُهُمْ ذِلَّةٌ " covering them with humility.) meaning, in return for how they behaved arrogantly in the worldly life by refusing to be obedient (to Allah). (" ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمُ الَّذِى كَانُواْ يُوعَدُونَ " That is the Day which they were promised!) This is the end of the Tafsir of Surah Sa'ala Sa'il. And all praise and thanks are due to Allah.

You may now like to listen to Tafsir of the surah by Nouman Ali Khan:

Please refer to our Reference Page "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, explanation and exegesis of all other chapters of the Qur'an. You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
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 and explanation 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 (links to Reference Pages given below):  
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given below. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites:

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 67 | 8 | 9 | 10 |

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