Tuesday 29 August 2023

But few of My servants are grateful (Selected verses from Qur'an)

In our series of posts Let us be of the few who are grateful, we first deliberated on who are the MOST of the people who are ungrateful. And then we mentioned two verses from Qur'an as to who are the few people who are grateful. The first of the few people were mentioned in the 40th verse of Surah 11. Hud "But none had believed with him, except a few." Today we share the 9th verse of Surah 34. Saba in which Allah first mentions how Prophet Sulayman (Solomon, peace be upon him), the family of His servant Prophet Dawud (David, may peace be upon him), thanked him in the best of ways and was indeed one of the few of the grateful.

يَعۡمَلُوۡنَ لَهٗ مَا يَشَآءُ مِنۡ مَّحَارِيۡبَ وَتَمَاثِيۡلَ وَجِفَانٍ كَالۡجَـوَابِ وَقُدُوۡرٍ رّٰسِيٰتٍ ؕ اِعۡمَلُوۡۤا اٰلَ دَاوٗدَ شُكۡرًا ؕ وَقَلِيۡلٌ مِّنۡ عِبَادِىَ الشَّكُوۡرُ‏ 
(34:13) They made for him whatever he would desire: stately buildings, images, basins like water-troughs and huge, built-in-cauldrons: “Work, O house of David, in thankfulness (to your Lord). Few of My servants are truly thankful.”

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (The Favors which Allah bestowed upon Sulayman)
Having mentioned the blessings with which He favored Dawud, Allah follows this by mentioning what He gave to Dawud's son Sulayman (Solomon), may peace be upon them both. He subjugated the wind to him, so that it would carry his carpet one way for a month, then back again the next month. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, "He set out from Damascus in the morning, landed in Istakhar where he ate a meal, then flew on from Istakhar and spent the night in Kabil.'' Between Damascus and Istakhar is an entire month's travel for a swift rider, and between Istakhar and Kabul is an entire month's travel for a swift rider.

To understand the 13th verse, let us take a start from the 12th verse:
(34:12) And We subdued the wind to Solomon: its morning course was a month's journey and its evening course was a month's journey. We gave him a spring flowing with molten brass, and We subdued for him jinn who, by his Lord's permission, worked before him. Such of them as swerved from Our commandment, We let them taste the chastisement of the Blazing Fire.

(وَأَسَلْنَا لَهُ عَيْنَ الْقِطْرِ And We caused a fount Qitr to flow for him,) Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be plased with him, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, `Ata' Al-Khurasani, Qatadah, As-Suddi, Malik from Zayd bin Aslam, `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam and others said, "Qitr means copper.'' Qatadah said, "It was in Yemen.'' Allah brought forth all the things that people make for Sulayman; peace be upon him.

(وَمِنَ الْجِنِّ مَن يَعْمَلُ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِ and there were Jinn that worked in front of him, by the leave of his Lord.) means, `We subjugated the Jinn to work in front of him,' by the permission of his Lord, i.e., by Allah's decree and subjugation, they built whatever constructions he wanted, and did other work as well.

(وَمَن يَزِغْ مِنْهُمْ عَنْ أَمْرِنَا and whosoever of them turned aside from Our command,) means, whoever among them tried to rebel and disobey, (نُذِقْهُ مِنْ عَذَابِ السَّعِيرِ We shall cause him to taste the torment of the blazing Fire.) which means, burning.

With this premise mentioned in the 12th verse, now we explain the 13th verse, which is the selected verse for this post and culminates in the words: But few of My servants are grateful

(يَعْمَلُونَ لَهُ مَا يَشَآءُ مِن مَّحَـرِيبَ وَتَمَـثِيلَ They worked for him as he desired on Maharib, Tamathil,) Maharib refers to beautiful structures, the best and innermost part of a dwelling. Ibn Zayd said, "This means dwellings.' With regard to "Tamathil,'' `Atiyah Al-`Awfi, Ad-Dahhak and As-Suddi said that Tamathil means pictures.

(وَجِفَانٍ كَالْجَوَابِ وَقُدُورٍ رَسِيَـتٍ large basins like Jawab and Qudur Rasiyat.) Jawab, the plural form of Jabiyah, refers to cisterns or tanks in which water is held, and Qudur Rasiyat are cauldrons that stay in one place and are not moved around because of their great size. This was the view of Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak and others.

(اعْمَلُواْ ءَالَ دَاوُودَ شُكْراً Work you, O family of Dawud, with thanks!) means, `We said to them: Work with thanks for the blessings that We have bestowed upon you in this world and the Hereafter.' This indicates that thanks may be expressed by actions as much as by words and intentions. Abu `Abdur-Rahman Al-Hubuli said, "Prayer is thanks, fasting is thanks, every good deed that you do for the sake of Allah is thanks, and the best of thanks is praise.' This was recorded by Ibn Jarir. In the Two Sahihs, it is reported that the Messenger of Allah said:

«إِنَّ أَحَبَّ الصَّلَاةِ إِلَى اللهِ تَعَالَى صَلَاةُ دَاوُدَ، كَانَ يَنَامُ نِصْفَ اللَّيْلِ، وَيَقُومُ ثُلُثَهُ، وَيَنَامُ سُدُسَهُ، وَأَحَبَّ الصِّيَامِ إِلَى اللهِ تَعَالَى صِيَامُ دَاوُدَ، كَانَ يَصُومُ يَوْمًا وَيُفْطِرُ يَوْمًا، وَلَا يَفِرُّ إِذَا لَاقَى»
(The most beloved of prayers to Allah are the prayers of Dawud. He used to sleep for half the night, stand in prayer for a third of it and sleep for a sixth of it. The most beloved of fasting to Allah is the fasting of Dawud. He used to fast for a day then not fast for a day, and he never fled the battlefield.) 

Ibn Abi Hatim narrated that Fudayl said concerning the Ayah: (اعْمَلُواْ ءَالَ دَاوُودَ شُكْراً (Work you, O family of Dawud, with thanks!) Dawud said, "O Lord! How can I thank you when thanks itself is a blessing from You'' He said: "Now you have truly given thanks to Me, for you have realized that it is a blessing from Me.''

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
“Few of My servants are truly thankful.” This comment also serves as a directive. It tells us on the one hand that the grace and favours God bestows on His servants are so great that few of them are able to express due thanks for them, and on the other that people often neglect their thanksgiving duty. In fact, however much people try to express their gratitude, they cannot give due thanks for what God bestows on them. What is their status, then, if they slacken and overlook this duty?

(وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِىَ الشَّكُورُ But few of My servants are grateful.) 

The end part of verse 13 is in fact a reflection of reality. And this is the prayer which the man was supplicating when the second Caliph of Islam Umar encountered him, which we used as premise for our post "Let us be of the few who are grateful". We share the premise here once again to present the selected verse in its true context:
Once, Umar bin al-Khattab RA was walking in the market, he passed by a man who was supplicating, “O Allah, make us of Your ‘few’ servants! O Allah make us of Your ‘few’ servants!” Surprised by his supplication, Umar said to him, “Where did you get this dua from?” And the man said, “Allah in His Book says ‘And few of My servants are grateful.’ (Qur’an Surah 34. Saba:13)” So Umar wept and admonished himself, “The people are more knowledgeable than you, O Umar! O Allah make us of your 'few' servants.”

Now, my brothers and sisters in Islam, let us decide which side do we stand: The Most or the Few of the People. Choice is ours and is to me made sooner than before for we do not know much life we are left with. Remember: Even among those who consider themselves God's servants - for "truly grateful [to God] is only he who realizes his inability to render adequate thanks to Him." In fact, this is an admonition as well as an expression of trust by God in a trusted servant. The implication is that the test of gratitude is a difficult one. Few succeed in it. However, it is hoped that Solomon (sws) will be among them.

May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān 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. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Al Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Tafsir References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from the following sources: 
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Translation Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
In addition, 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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