Showing posts with label Al Qur'an. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Al Qur'an. Show all posts

Saturday 2 September 2023

Selected Verses from Al Qur'an about a Specific Subject: Repentance and forgiveness

No man is born perfect. Even if someone follows his religion diligently, he is prone to making mistakes, hurting others or committing sins, even advertently or inadvertently). Yet our Creator is ready to forgive us if we repent our mistake or crime and beseech His infinite mercifulness for forgiveness. Al Qur'an is replete with guiding supplications and invocations for believers. Therefore, we must remember Allah instantly if we sin and ask for His forgiveness. Allah promises that even the size of sins of a believer is the weight of a mountain, if he sincerely repents and asks for forgiveness, He will forgive him. But this leverage is available only till angel of death starts knocking at his door.

We in our series of posts on Understanding Al Qur'an (Quick Reference to Specific Subjects) we will focus on importance of repentance and forgiveness and quote references and even explanation of some of the verses for better understanding and hurrying up for Allah's mercy.

We have already written a post on Repentance, and shared many posts on Repentance and Forgiveness.
The word(s) "repentance" appears 34 time(s) in 34 verse(s) and the word(s) "forgiveness" appears 76 time(s) in 74 verse(s) in Quran (in Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation). Herein under are some of the references. We shall keep adding to this listing for complete reference on the subject in time.:
Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the 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.

May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. 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. 

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

For compiled verses for more specific subjects, please refer to our exclusive reference page: "Selected verses from Al-Qurʾān about a specific subject."

In addition, 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.

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. 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. 

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Wednesday 12 July 2023

Surah Al Balad (The City): Exegesis / Tafseer of 90th Chapter of Qur'an

Sürah Al Balad (The City) is the ninetieth Sürah with 20 āyāt is part of the 30th Juzʼ  of the Qur'ān. The Sürah has been so named after the word al balad البلد in the first verse.

Its subject matter and style resemble those of the earliest Sürahs revealed at Makkah, but it contains a pointer which indicates that it was sent down in the period when the disbelievers of Makkah had resolved to oppose Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, and made it lawful for themselves to commit tyranny and excess against him.

We have already presented the overview / summary of the Sürah, which also includes its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles. As mentioned in the Summary of the Surah, already posted, a vast subject has been compressed into a few brief sentences, and it is a miracle of the Quran that a complete ideology of life which could hardly be explained in a thick volume has been abridged most effectively in brief sentences of this short Surah. Its theme is to explain the true position of man in the world and of the world in relation to man and to tell that God has shown to man both the highways of good and evil, has also provided for him the means to judge and see and follow them, and now it rests upon man's own effort and judgment whether he chooses the path of virtue and reaches felicity or adopts the path of vice and meets with doom.

The exegesis / tafseer of the Surah is based on the subject matter as under:
  • Verses 1-7 Man, though created in misery, yet boasts of his riches
  • Verses 8-16 Captives to be freed and the poor and orphan to be fed
  • Verses 17-20 Description of the companions of the right and left hand 
Let us now read the verse-by-verse translation and exegesis / tafseer in English. You may also listen to eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan explaining the Heart of the Surah in English at the end of this post.

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

Verses 1-7 Man, though created in misery, yet boasts of his riches
لَاۤ اُقۡسِمُ بِهٰذَا الۡبَلَدِۙ‏ 
(90:1) Nay! I swear by this city
To begin a discourse with a "Nay" and resume it with an oath means that the people were asserting a wrong thing to refute which it was said: "Nay, the truth is not that which you seem to assert, but I swear by such and such a thing that the truth is this and this" As for the question what it was to refute which this discourse was sent down, it is indicated by the theme that follows. The disbelievers of Makkah said that there was nothing wrong with the way of life that they were following, as if to say: "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die in the natural process of time. Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace), without any reason, is finding fault with this way of life and warning us that we would at some time in the future be called to account for it and rewarded and punished accordingly." 

"This City": the city of Makkah. There was no need here to explain why an oath was being sworn by this City. The people of Makkah were well aware of the background and importance of their city and knew how in the midst of desolate mountains, in an un-cultivated, barren valley, the Prophet Abraham had brought his wife and suckling child and left them there without any support; how he had built a House there and proclaimed to the people to visit it as pilgrims when there was no soul for miles around to hear the proclamation, and then how this city had eventually become the commercial and religious center of Arabia and was blessed with such sacredness that there was no other place of security beside it in that lawless land for centuries. 

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir
Swearing by the Sanctity of Makkah and Other Things that Man was created in Hardship
Here Allah has sworn by Makkah, the mother of the Towns, addressing its resident (during the non-sacred months,) free in this city in order to draw his attention to the significance of its sanctity when its people are in the state of sanctity. 

Khusayf reported from Mujahid; (Nay! I swear by this city;) "The word "La'' (Nay) refers to the refutation against them (Quraish). I swear by this city.'

Yusuf Ali Explanation
The appeal to the close ties between the holy Prophet and his parent City of Makkah has been explained in the Introduction to this Sura. It is a symbol of man's own history. Man is born for toil and struggle, and this is the substantive proposition in verse 4 below, which this appeal leads up to.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The particle of negation at the beginning of the sūrah is meant to refute a whole premise which is evident from the subject matter of the later verses. I have expressed it in my translation. The implication is that these people did not come to this barren valley, with the wealth and affluence, grandeur and majesty they now possess. When Abraham (sws) settled his son Ishmael (sws) in this valley it was totally barren and infertile and also was an insecure place. The way they had become affluent and prosperous at the advent of the Prophet (sws) was not how they always were. This prosperity given to them was a result of the House of God; however, so inflicted were they with megalomania that they regarded it to be their right.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
The city is Makkah, which houses the Ka`bah, the sacred house of God that was the first temple ever to be erected on this earth as a place of peace where people put down their weapons and forget their quarrels. They meet there in peace; each is sacred to all. Even the plants, the birds and all creatures that happen to be in this city enjoy full and complete security. It is the House built by Abraham, the father of Ishmael, who is the grandfather of all Arabs and Muslims.

وَاَنۡتَ حِلٌّ ۢ بِهٰذَا الۡبَلَدِۙ‏ 
(90:2) – this city wherein you have been rendered violable
Three meanings of the words in the Text have been given by the commentators:
  1. "That you are a resident of this city and your residence here has further enhanced the glory of this city";
  2. "That although this city is a sanctuary; a time will come when for some time it will become lawful for you to fight and kill the enemies of the true Faith here; and,
  3. "That in this city where even killing of animals and cutting of trees is forbidden for the people of Arabia, and where everyone is living in perfect peace, you, O Prophet, have no peace, and persecuting you and devising plans to kill you has been made lawful."
Although the words are comprehensive enough to cover all the three meanings, when the theme that follows is considered, one feels that the first two meanings bear no relevance to it, and only the third meaning seems to be correct.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: 
وَأَنتَ حِلٌّ بِهَـذَا الْبَلَدِ (And you are free in this city.) he (Ibn `Abbas) said, "O Muhammad! It is permissible for you to fight in it.' Similar was reported from Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Salih, `Atiyah, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, "Allah made it lawful (to fight in) for him (the Prophet) for one hour of a day.' The meaning of what they have said was mentioned in a Hadith that is agreed- upon as being authentic. In it the Prophet said,

«إِنَّ هَذَا الْبَلَدَ حَرَّمَهُ اللهُ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّموَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ، فَهُوَ حَرَامٌ بِحُرْمَةِ اللهِ إِلَى يَوْم الْقِيَامَةِ لَا يُعْضَدُ شَجَرُهُ وَلَا يُخْتَلَى خَلَاهُ، وَإِنَّمَا أُحِلَّتْ لِي سَاعَةٌ مِنْ نَهَارٍ، وَقَدْ عَادَتْ حُرْمَتُهَا الْيَوْمَ كَحُرْمَتِهَا بِالْأَمْسِ، أَلَا فَلْيُبَلِّغِ الشَّاهِدُ الْغَائِب»
(Verily, Allah made this city sacred on the Day that He created the heavens and the earth. Therefore, it is sacred by the sanctity of Allah until the Day of Judgement. Its trees should not be uprooted, and its bushes and grasses should not be removed. And it was only made lawful for me (to fight in) for one hour of a day. Today its sanctity has been restored just as it was sacred yesterday. So, let the one who is present inform those who are absent.) In another wording of this Hadith, he said,

«فَإِنْ أَحَدٌ تَرَخَّصَ بِقِتَالِ رَسُولِ اللهِ فَقُولُوا: إِنَّ اللهَ أَذِنَ لِرَسُولِهِ وَلَمْ يَأْذَنْ لَكُم» 
(So, if anyone tries to use the fighting of the Messenger (to conquer Makkah) as an excuse (to fight there), then tell him that Allah permitted it for His Messenger and He has not permitted it for you.)

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Lit., "while thou art dwelling in this land". The classical commentators give to the term balad the connotation of "city", and maintain that the phrase hadha 'l-balad ("this city") signifies Mecca, and that the pronoun "thou" in the second verse refers to Muhammad. Although this interpretation is plausible in view of the fact that the sacredness of Mecca is repeatedly stressed in the Qur'an, the sequence - as well as the tenor of the whole surah - seems to warrant a wider, more general interpretation. In my opinion, the words hadha 'l-balad denote "this land of man", i.e., the earth (which latter term is, according to all philologists, one of the primary meanings of balad). Consequently, the "thou" in verse {2} relates to man in general, and that which is metaphorically "called to witness" is his earthly environment.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:  
Hillun: an inhabitant, a man with lawful rights, a man freed from such obligations as would attach to a stranger to the city, a freeman in a wider sense than the technical sense to which the word is restricted in modern usage. The Prophet should have been honoured in his native city. He was actually being persecuted. He should have been loved, as a parent loves a child. Actually his life was being sought, and those who believed in him were under a ban. But time was to show that he was to come triumphant to his native city after having made Madinah sacred by his life and work.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Ie., this is not the testimony of some far-flung land. It is the account of the Prophet’s own city of which he is well aware; its history is his history. The place is not unknown to him.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
God then honours His Prophet, Muhammad, by mentioning him and his residence in Makkah, a fact which adds to the sanctity of the city, its honour and glory. This is a point of great significance in this context; for the unbelievers were violating the sanctity of the House by harassing the Prophet and the Muslims in it. But the House is sacred and the Prophet’s dwelling in its neighbourhood makes it even more so. God’s oath by this city and by the Prophet’s residence in it adds even more to its sacredness and glory, which consequently makes the unbelievers’ attitude grossly impertinent and objectionable. Their attitude becomes even more singular, considering their claims to be the custodians of the House, Ishmael’s descendants and Abraham’s followers.

وَوَالِدٍ وَّمَا وَلَدَ ۙ‏ 
(90:3) and I swear by the parent and his offspring:
As the words "father and children he begot" have been used indefinitely, and this is followed by the mention of man, father could only imply Adam (peace be on him) and children the human beings who existed in the world, exist today and will exist in the future.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir
(And by the begetter and that which he begot.) Mujahid, Abu Salih, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, Sufyan Ath-Thawri, Sa`id bin Jubayr, As-Suddi, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Khusayf, Shurahbil bin Sa`d and others have said, "Meaning, by the begetter, Adam, and that which he begot is his children.' This view that Mujahid and his companions have chosen is good and strong. This is supported by the fact that Allah swears by the Mother of the Towns, which are dwellings. Then after it He swears by the dwellers therein, who is Adam, the father of mankind, and his children. Abu `Imran Al-Jawni said, "It refers to Ibrahim and his progeny.' Ibn Jarir recorded this statement as did Ibn Abi Hatim. Ibn Jarir preferred the view that it is general and it refers to every father and his children. This meaning is also acceptable.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Lit., "the begetter and that which he has begotten". According to Tabari's convincing explanation, this phrase signifies "every parent and all their offspring" - i.e., the human race from its beginning to its end. (The masculine form al-walid denotes, of course, both male and female parents.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation
A parent loves a child: ordinarily the father is proud and the mother, in spite of her birth-pains, experiences supreme joy when the child is born. But in abnormal circumstances there may be misunderstanding, even hatred between parent and child. So Makkah cast out her most glorious son, but it was only for a time. Makkah was sound at heart; only her power had been usurped by an ignorant autocracy which passed away, and Makkah was to receive back her glory at the hands of the son whom she had rejected but whom she welcomed back later. And Makkah retains for all time her sacred character as the centre of Islam.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
 Ie., Abraham (sws) and his progeny. The word والد is not defined by the article alif lām to magnify what it signifies.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
This last reference supports the inclination to Abraham and Ishmael in particular. This reading includes in the oath the Prophet, the city where he lives, the founder of the House and his offspring. However, it does not preclude that the statement can also be a general one, referring to the phenomenon of reproduction which preserves the human race. This reference may be taken as an introduction to the discussion about man’s nature, which is indeed the theme of the surah.

God then swears by parent and children to draw our attention to the great importance of this stage of reproduction in life, and to the infinite wisdom and perfection which this stage involves. It also emphasizes the great suffering encountered by parent and offspring during the process from its inception up to its conclusion, when the newcomer achieves a certain degree of development.

Think of plants and the tough opposition met by a seed of a plant in the process of growth, until it adapts to the various factors of climate. Think of its attempts to absorb the food necessary for its survival from its surroundings, till it develops branches and leaves. It then prepares for the production of a similar seed or seeds that will repeat its function and add to the beauty of the world around it. Think of all this then consider the more advanced forms of animal and human life and you will see something much greater and far more wonderful concerning reproduction. You will have a feeling of the hardship and suffering met by all parents and offspring for the sake of preserving the species and the beauty of this world.

لَقَدۡ خَلَقۡنَا الۡاِنۡسَانَ فِىۡ كَبَدٍؕ‏ 
(90:4) Verily We have created man into toil and hardship.
This is that for which the oaths as mentioned above have been sworn. Man's being created in toil means that man in this world has not been created to enjoy himself and live a life of ease and comfort, but the world for him is a place of enduring and undergoing toil, labor and hardship, and no man can be immune from this. The city of Makkah is a witness that a servant of Allah toiled and struggled hard, then only did it become a city and the center of Arabia. In this city of Makkah, the condition of Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) is a witness that he is enduring every kind of hardship for the sake of a mission; so much so that there is full peace here for the wild animals but no peace for him. Then, every man's survival, from the tithe he is conceived in the mother's womb till the last breath of life, is a witness that he has to pass through trouble, toil, labor, dangers and hardships at every step. The most fortunate of us is also exposed to grave dangers of death before birth or of elimination by abortion while in the mother's womb. At birth he is only a hair-breadth away from death. After birth he is so helpless that had there not been somebody to look after him, he would perish uncared for and unnoticed. When he became able to walk, he stumbled at every step. Froth childhood to youth and old age he had to pass through such physical changes that if any change had taken a wrong turn, his very life would have been at stake. Even if he is a king or a dictator, he at no time enjoys internal peace from the fear that a rebellion might arise against him somewhere. Even if he is a conqueror, he is never at peace from the danger that one of his generals might rise in revolt against him. Even if he is a Korah of his time, he is ever anxious to increase his wealth and to safeguard it. Thus, there is no one who may he enjoying perfect peace freely and without hesitation, for man indeed has been created into a life of toil and trouble. 

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir:
(Verily, We have created man in Kabad.) Ibn Abi Najih and Jurayj reported from `Ata, from Ibn `Abbas concerning the phrase `in Kabad', "He was created while in hardship. Don't you see him'' Then he mentioned his birth and the sprouting of his teeth. 

Mujahid said, (فِى كَبَدٍ in Kabad.) "A drop of sperm, then a clot, then a lump of flesh, enduring in his creation.'' Mujahid then said, "

This is similar to Allah's statement, (حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ كُرْهاً وَوَضَعَتْهُ كُرْهاً His mother bears him with hardship. And she brings him forth with hardship.) (46:15) and she breast-feeds him with hardship, and his livelihood is a hardship. So, he endures all of this.' 

Sa`id bin Jubayr said, (Verily, We have created man in Kabad.) "In hardship and seeking livelihood.'' `Ikrimah said, "In hardship and long-suffering.' Qatadah said, "In difficulty.' It is reported from Al-Hasan that he said, "Enduring the hardships of the world by life and the severity of the Hereafter.'

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
The term kabad, comprising the concepts of "pain", "distress", "hardship", "toil", "trial" etc., can be rendered only by a compound expression like the one above.

Yusuf Ali Explanation
"Man is born unto troubles as the sparks fly upward" (Job, v. 7); "For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief" (Ecclesiastes, ii. 23). Man's life is full of sorrow and vexation; but our text has a different shade of meaning: man is born to strive and struggle; and if he suffers from hardships, he must exercise patience, for Allah will make his way smooth for him (lxv. 7; xciv. 5-6). On the other hand no man should boast of worldly goods or worldly prosperity (see verses 5-7 below).

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This is a reference to the time when Ishmael (sws) and his progeny populated this barren valley. Verses 35-37 of Sūrah Ibrahim and Sūrah al-Quraysh discuss this subject in more detail.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
The roads diverge and the struggle takes different forms. One person struggles with his muscles, another with his mind and a third with his soul. One toils for a mouthful of food or a rag to dress himself with, another to double or treble his wealth. One person strives to achieve a position of power or influence and another for the sake of God. One struggles for the sake of satisfying lusts and desires, and another for the sake of his faith or ideology. One strives but achieves no more than hell and another strives for paradise. Everyone is carrying his own burden and climbing his own hill to arrive finally at the meeting place appointed by God, where the wretched shall endure their worst suffering while the blessed enjoy their endless happiness.
Affliction, life’s foremost characteristic, takes various forms and shapes but it is always judged by its eventual results. The loser is the one who ends up suffering more affliction in the hereafter, and the prosperous is the one whose striving qualifies him to be released from affliction and ensures him the ultimate repose under his Lord’s shelter. Yet there is some reward in this present life for the different kinds of struggle which people endure. The one who labours for a great cause differs from the one who labours for a trivial one, in the amount and the quality of gratification each of them gains from his labour and sacrifice.

اَيَحۡسَبُ اَنۡ لَّنۡ يَّقۡدِرَ عَلَيۡهِ اَحَدٌ​ ۘ‏ 
(90:5) Does he think that no one can overpower him?
That is: Is man, who is ever exposed to such hazards, involved in the delusion that he can do what he likes, and there is no superior power to seize and suppress him? The fact, however, is that even before the occurrence of the Hereafter in this world itself, he sees that his destiny every moment is being ruled by some other Being against Whose decrees all his plans and designs prove ineffective. A single jolt of the earthquake, a blast of wind, a flood in the river and a sea-storm are enough to show how weak and feeble man is against the Divine forces. A sudden accident can reduce a strong and robust person to a cripple; one turn of the fortune deposes a mighty sovereign froth the position of authority. When the fortunes of the nations, which have climbed to the very apex of glory and prosperity, change, they are humiliated and disgraced even in the world where do one could dare look them in the face. How has then this man been deluded into thinking that no one else can have power over him?  

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir
(Does he think that none can overcome him) Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, "Meaning no one is able to take his wealth.'' Qatadah said, "The Son of Adam thinks that he will not be asked about this wealth of his -- how he earned and how he spent it.'

Yusuf Ali Explanation:  
See the end of last note. If a man has wealth, influence, or power, he should not behave as if it is to last forever, or as if he has no responsibility for his acts and can do what he likes. All his gifts and advantages are given to him for trial. Allah, Who bestowed them on him, can take them away, and will do so if man fails in his trial.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
This creature, man, whose suffering and struggling never come to an end, forgets his real nature and becomes so conceited with what God has given him of power, ability, skill and prosperity that he behaves as if he is not accountable for what he does. He indulges in oppression, tyranny, victimization and exploitation, trying to acquire enormous wealth. He corrupts himself and others in total disregard of anything of value. Such is the character of a man whose heart is stripped of faith.

يَقُوۡلُ اَهۡلَكۡتُ مَالًا لُّبَدًا ؕ‏ 
(90:6) He says: “I have squandered enormous wealth.”
Literally: "I have destroyed heaps of wealth", i.e. squandered and wasted it. These words show how proud the speaker was of his wealth. The heaps of wealth that he spent was so insignificant as against his total wealth that he did not mind squandering it carelessly. And to what purpose did he squander it'? Not for a genuine, good cause as becomes evident from the following verses, but for display of his wealth and expression of his pride and glory. Bestowing rich awards on , poetic admirers, inviting and feeding hundreds of thousands of people on marriage and death ceremonies, gambling away heaps of wealth, attending festivals with large entourages, trying to excel others in display of glory and grandeur, having heaps of food cooked on ceremonial occasions and throwing invitations to all and sundry to come and eat, or arranging and supplying running meals at the residence so as to impress the people around with one's generosity and large-heartedness; such were the expenditures of ostentation, which in the days of ignorance were regarded as a symbol of man's munificence and magnanimity, and a sign of his greatness. For these they were praised and admired; on these their Praises were sung; and on account of these they prided themselves against the less fortunate.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Implying that his resources - and, therefore, his possibilities - are inexhaustible. We must remember that the term "man" is used here in the sense of "human race": hence, the above boast is a metonym for the widespread belief - characteristic of all periods of religious decadence - that there are no limits to the power to which man may aspire, and that, therefore, his worldly "interests" are the only criteria of right and wrong.

Yusuf Ali Explanation
The man who feels no responsibility and thinks that he can do what he likes in life forgets his responsibility to Allah. He boasts of his wealth and scatters it about, thinking that he can thus purchase the support of the world. For a time, he may. But a rude awakening must come soon, for he bases his hopes on unsubstantial things. Or if he spends his substance on self-indulgence, he is weakening himself and putting himself into snares that must destroy him.

اَيَحۡسَبُ اَنۡ لَّمۡ يَرَهٗۤ اَحَدٌ ؕ‏ 
(90:7) Does he believe that no one has seen him?
That is, "Doesn't this boaster understand that there is also a God above him, Who sees by what means he obtained this wealth, in what ways he spent it, and with what intention, motive, and purpose he did all this? Does he think that God will put any value on his extravagance, his fame-mongering and his boasting Does he think that like the world, God too will be deluded by it?"

Yusuf Ali Explanation
Allah watches him, and sees all his acts and motives, and all the secret springs of his follies. But lest he should think the higher forces are too remote for him, let him look within himself and use the faculties which Allah has given him. See the next verses following.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
Man is conceited because he feels himself powerful, but he is granted his power by God. He is mean with his wealth while God is the One who provided him with it. He neither follows right guidance nor shows gratitude, although God has given him the means to do so.

Verses 8-16 Captives to be freed and the poor and orphan to be fed
اَلَمۡ نَجۡعَلۡ لَّهٗ عَيۡنَيۡنِۙ‏ 
(90:8) Did We not grant him two eyes,

Yusuf Ali Explanation:  
The eyes give us the faculty of seeing, and may be taken in both the literal and the metaphorical sense. In the same way the tongue gives us the faculty of tasting in both senses. Along with the lips, it also enables us to speak, to ask for information and seek guidance, and to celebrate the praises of Allah.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The implication is that the only right benefit of the eyes was that they should have been used to learn and seek a lesson. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:

… These verses prod them: they should reflect that the Almighty had blessed them with two eyes so that they could observe their surroundings and see that on the one hand the Almighty has blessed them with wealth and status and on the other they can see that right under their noses are orphans and the needy, poor and helpless, weak and sick, the physically handicapped and the deprived who have nothing to eat and nothing to wear. The reason that the Almighty has blessed them with eyes is so that they observe all this around them and learn a lesson and become grateful to the Almighty. He did not make them go through such trying circumstances merely as a favour to them. Hence, they owe this obligation to these favours to generously spend their money to fulfil the needs of the deprived lot – the money which was given in their custody by the Almighty with a share for such people. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 9, 373)

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
In view of man’s arrogance, which makes him believe that he is invincible, and in view of his meanness and claims of having spent abundantly, the Qur’an puts before him the bounties God has bestowed on him which are manifested in his inherent abilities, although he has depreciated them. He has given him eyes which are marvelous, precise and powerful. These are the favours bestowed on man to help him follow right guidance: his eyes with which he recognizes the evidence of God’s might and the signs throughout the universe which should prompt him to adopt the faith.

وَلِسَانًا وَّشَفَتَيۡنِۙ‏ 
(90:9) and a tongue and two lips?
That is, "Have We not given him the means of obtaining knowledge and wisdom '?" "Two eyes" does not imply the eyes of the cow and buffalo, but human eyes, which if used intelligently can help man see all around himself those signs which lead to the reality and distinguish the right from the wrongs. "The tongue and lips" do not merely imply the instruments of speech but the rational wind behind these instruments which performs the functions of thinking and understanding and then uses them for expressing its ideas, motives and designs. 

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The two lips are mentioned with the tongue because the tongue is only able to speak because of the lips. The implication of the verse is that the Almighty blessed him with a tongue and also two lips to speak carefully and cautiously; however, such is the misfortune of these people that they used their tongues to deny the truth and indulge in foolish talk, and kept it silent at instances when it was really needed. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:

Another thing which becomes evident from this verse is that the awareness of virtue in a person should entail that he should not only adopt that virtue himself but urge others to do so as well. This is included in his obligation; otherwise, his virtuous deed will in fact be incomplete. Urging others to adopt virtue is the responsibility of every individual of society without which he will be held accountable before the Almighty. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 9, 374)

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
Allah mentions another favour given to man for right guidance. He has granted him speech. His tongue and lips are his means of speech and expression. One word sometimes does the job of a sword or a shotgun and can be even more effective than either. It may, on the other hand, plunge a man into the fire of hell. Mu ‘adh ibn Jabal said: “I was with the Prophet on a journey. One day I was walking beside him when I said, ‘Messenger of God! Point out to me something I may do to take me to paradise and keep me away from hell.’ He said, ‘You have indeed asked about something great, yet it is quite attainable by those for whom God has made it easy. Worship God alone, assigning to Him no partner, offer your prayers regularly, pay out your zakat [i.e. what is due to the poor of one’s money], fast in the month of Ramadan and offer the pilgrimage.’ The Prophet then said, ‘Shall I point out to you the gates of goodness?’ I said, ‘Yes, Messenger of God, please do.’ He said, ‘Fasting is a safeguard and a means of protecting yourself; charity erases your errors just as water extinguishes a burning fire; and your praying in the late hours of the night is the sign of piety.’ He then recited the verse, “[those] who forsake their beds as they call on their Lord in fear and in hope; and who give in charity of what We have bestowed on them. No soul knows what bliss and comfort is in store for these as reward for their labours.” (32: 16-17) The Prophet then added: ‘Shall I tell you what the heart of the matter is, its backbone and its highest grade?’ I said, ‘Yes, Messenger of God, please do.’ He said, ‘The heart is Islam, i.e. submission to God, the backbone is prayers, and the highest grade is jihad, i.e. struggle for the cause of God.’ He then said, ‘Shall I tell you what commands all these?’ I said, ‘Yes, Messenger of God, please do.’ He said, ‘Control this,’ pointing to his tongue. I said, ‘Are we, Prophet of God, really accountable for what we say?’ He said ‘Watch what you are saying.'
For what else are people dragged on their faces in hell apart from what their tongues produce?’“ [Related by Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah.]"

وَهَدَيۡنٰهُ النَّجۡدَيۡنِ​ۚ‏ 
(90:10) And did We not show him the two highroads (of good and evil)?
That is, "We have not left him alone after granting him the faculties of thinking and reasoning so that he may have to search out his own way, but We have also guided him and opened up before him both the highways of good and evil, virtue and vice, so that he may consider them seriously and choose and adopt one or the other way on his own responsibility. This same subject has been expressed in Surah Ad-Dahr: 2-3, thus: "Indeed We created man from a mixed sperm-drop, to try him, and so We made him capable of hearing and seeing. We showed him the way, whether to be grateful or disbelieving. " For explanation of verses 2-3 of Surah Ad-Dahr. 

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir:
(And shown him the two ways) This refers to the two paths. Sufyan Ath-Thawri narrated from `Asim, from Zirr, from `Abdullah bin Mas`ud that he said, (And showed him the two ways) "The good and the evil.' Similar to this has been reported from `Ali, Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Abu Wa'il, Abu Salih, Muhammad bin Ka`b, Ad-Dahhak, and `Ata' Al-Khurasani among others. 

Similar to this Ayah is Allah's statement: (إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الإِنسَـنَ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَّبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَـهُ سَمِيعاً بَصِيراً - إِنَّا هَدَيْنَـهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِراً وَإِمَّا كَفُوراً Verily, We have created man from Nutfah Amshaj, in order to try him: so, We made him hearer and seer. Verily, We showed him the way, whether he be grateful or ungrateful.) (76:2-3)

Yusuf Ali Explanation
 The two highways of life are: (1) the steep and difficult path of virtue, which is further described in the verses following, and (2) the easy path of vice, and the rejection of Allah, referred to in verses 19-20 below. Allah has given us not only the faculties implied in the eyes, the tongue, and the lips, but has also given us the judgment by which we can choose our way; and He has sent us Teachers and Guides, with Revelation, to show us the right and difficult way.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
After alluding to the faculties of sight, cognizance, speech and conversation, the faculty of distinguishing between good and evil is referred to here. The two ways here refers to the two ways mentioned in Sūrah al-Dahr and Sūrah al-Shams in the following words respectively: اِنَّا هَدَيۡنٰهُ السَّبِيۡلَ اِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَّ اِمَّا كَفُوۡرًا (3:76) (We showed him the path. If he wants, he can be grateful or ungrateful. (76:3)) and وَ نَفۡسٍ وَّ مَا سَوّٰىهَا فَاَلۡهَمَهَا فُجُوۡرَهَا وَ تَقۡوٰىهَا (91: 7-8) (And the soul bears witness and the perfection given to it, then inspired it with its evil and its good (91:7-8)).

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
He has equipped him with the ability to distinguish good from evil, and right from wrong: and shown him the two paths, so that he can choose between them. Inherent in his make-up is the ability to take either way. It is God’s will that man should be given such ability and such freedom of choice, to perfect His scheme of creation which assigns to every creature its role in life and equips it with the means necessary for its fulfilment.
This verse explains the essence of human nature. In fact, the basis of the Islamic viewpoint of human psychology is contained in this verse and four verses in the next surah, The Sun: “By the soul and its moulding and inspiration with knowledge of wickedness and righteousness. Successful is the one who keeps it pure, and ruined is the one who corrupts it.” (91: 7-10)

فَلَا اقۡتَحَمَ الۡعَقَبَةَ
(90:11) But he did not venture to scale the difficult steep.
The words in the original are: fa-lagtaham-al- aqabah. Iqtiham (اقۡتَحَمَ) means to apply oneself to a hard and toilsome task, and 'aqabah (الۡعَقَبَةَ) is the steep path that passes through mountains for ascending heights. Thus, the verse means: "One of the two paths that We have shown him, leads to heights but is toilsome and steep; man has to tread it against the desires of his self and the temptations of Satan. The other path is easy which descends into chasms, but does not require any toil from man; one only needs to give free reins to oneself, then one automatically goes on rolling down the abyss. Now, the man to whom We had shown both the paths, adopted the easy down-hill path and abandoned the toilsome path, which leads to the heights." 

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: The Encouragement to traverse upon the Path of Goodness. Ibn Zayd said, (But he has not attempted to pass on the path that is steep.) "This means, will he not traverse upon the path which contains salvation and good.

Then He explains this path by his saying, (وَمَآ أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْعَقَبَةُ - فَكُّ رَقَبَةٍ أَوْ إِطْعَامٌ and what will make you know the path that is steep Freeing a neck, or giving food.)'' 

Imam Ahmad recorded from Sa`id bin Marjanah that he heard Abu Hurayrah saying that the Messenger of Allah said, (And what will make you know the path that is steep Freeing a neck, or giving food.)'' Imam Ahmad recorded from Sa`id bin Marjanah that he heard Abu Hurayrah saying that the Messenger of Allah said,

«مَنْ أَعْتَقَ رَقَبَةً مُؤمِنَةً أَعْتَقَ اللهُ بِكُلِّ إِرْبٍ أَيْ عُضْوٍ مِنْهَا إِرْبًا مِنْهُ مِنَ النَّارِ حَتْى إِنَّهُ لَيُعْتِقُ بِالْيَدِ الْيَدَ، وَبِالرِّجْلِ الرِّجْلَ، وَبِالْفَرْجِ الْفَرْج»
(Whoever frees a believing slave, Allah will free for every limb (of the slave) one of his limbs from the Fire. This is to such an extent that He (Allah) will free a hand for a hand, a leg for a leg, and a private part for a private part.) `Ali bin Al-Husayn then said (to Sa`id), "Did you hear this from Abu Hurayrah'' Sa`id replied, "Yes.'' Then `Ali bin Al-Husayn said to a slave boy that he owned who was the swiftest of his servants, "Call Mutarrif!'' So when the slave was brought before him he said, "Go, for you are free for the Face of Allah.'' Al-Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa'i, all recorded this Hadith from Sa`id bin Marjanah. Imam Ahmad recorded from `Amr bin `Abasah that the Prophet said,

«مَنْ بَنَى مَسْجِدًا لِيُذْكَرَ اللْهُ فِيهِ بَنَى اللْهُ لَهُ بَيْتًا فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَمَنْ أَعْتَقَ نَفْسًا مُسْلِمَةً كَانَتْ فِدْيَتَهُ مِنْ جَهَنَّمَ وَمَنْ شَابَ شَيْبَةً فِي الْإِسْلَامِ كَانَتْ لَهُ نُورًا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَة»
(Whoever builds a Masjid so that Allah may be remembered in it, Allah will build a house for him in Paradise; and whoever frees a Muslim person, then it will be his ransom from Hell; and whoever grows grey in Islam, then it will be a light for him on the Day of Judgement.) According to another route of transmission, Ahmad recorded from Abu Umamah, who reported from `Amr bin `Abasah that As-Sulami said to him, "Narrate a Hadith to us that you heard from the Messenger of Allah , without any deficiency or mistakes.'' He (`Amr) said, "I heard him saying,

«مَنْ وُلِدَ لَهُ ثَلَاثَةُ أَوْلَادٍ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ فَمَاتُوا قَبْلَ أَنْ يَبْلُغُوا الْحِنْثَ أَدْخَلَهُ اللهُ الْجَنَّةَ بِفَضْلِ رَحْمَتِهِ إِيَّاهُمْ، وَمَنْ شَابَ شَيْبَةً فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ كَانَتْ لَهُ نُورًا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، وَمَنْ رَمَى بِسَهْم فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ بَلَغَ بِهِ الْعَدُوَّ أَصَابَ أَوْ أَخْطَأَ كَانَ لَهُ عِتْقُ رَقَبَةٍ، وَمَنْ أَعْتَقَ رَقَبَةً مُؤْمِنَـةً أَعْتَقَ اللهُ بِكُلِّ عُضْوٍ مِنْهُ عُضْوًا مِنْهُ مِنَ النَّارِ، وَمَنْ أَنْفَقَ زَوْجَيْنِ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ فَإِنَّ لِلْجَنَّةِ ثَمَانِيَةَ أَبْوَابٍ يُدْخِلُهُ اللهُ مِنْ أَيِّ بَابٍ شَاءَ مِنْهَا»
(Whoever has three children born to him in Islam, and they die before reaching the age of puberty, Allah will enter him into Paradise by virtue of His mercy to them. And whoever grows gray in the way of Allah (fighting Jihad), then it will be a light for him on the Day of Judgement. And whoever shoots an arrow in the way of Allah (fighting Jihad) that reaches the enemy, whether it hits or misses, he will get the reward of freeing a slave. And whoever frees a believing slave, then Allah will free each of his limbs from the Fire for every limb that the slave has. And whoever equipped two riding animals in the way of Allah (for fighting Jihad), then indeed Paradise has eight gates, and Allah will allow him to enter any of them he chooses.)'' Ahmad recorded this Hadith from different routes of transmission that are good and strong, and all praise is due to Allah.

Yusuf Ali Explanation
In spite of the faculties with which Allah has endowed man and the guidance which He has given him, man has been remiss. By no means has he been eager to follow the steep and difficult path which is for his own spiritual good. Cf. Matt. vii. 14: "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto live, and few there be that find it".

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Sympathizing with human beings and worshipping God requires that one give up the immediate gains and pleasures of life. Hence both these things weigh down heavily on them. This is the reason the Qur’ān has called them tantamount to climbing a steep path.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
All these bounties have not motivated man to attempt the Ascent that stands between him and heaven.

This is the ascent which man, except those who equip themselves with faith, refrains from attempting, and which separates him from paradise. If he crosses it he will arrive! Putting it in such a way serves as a powerful incentive and stimulus to take up the challenge. For the ascent has been clearly marked as the obstacle depriving man of such an enormous fortune.

وَمَاۤ اَدۡرٰٮكَ مَا الۡعَقَبَةُ ؕ‏ 
(90:12) And what do you know what that difficult steep is?

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This style has already been explained before. Such questions are meant to express the grandeur and majesty of something or its horror and dreadful nature.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
The importance of scaling the ascent in God’s sight is then emphasized to encourage man to scale it no matter what the effort. For struggle he must, in any case. But if he attempts it, his struggle will not be wasted but will bring him favourable results.

فَكُّ رَقَبَةٍ ۙ‏ 
(90:13) It is freeing someone's neck from slavery;

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Thus 'Ikrimah, as quoted by Baghawi; also Razi. Alternatively, the phrase fakk raqabah may be rendered as "the freeing of a human being from bondage" (cf. note [146] on 2:177), with the latter term covering all those forms of subjugation and exploitation - social, economic or political which can be rightly described as "slavery".

Yusuf Ali Explanation
The difficult path of virtue is defined as the path of charity or unselfish love, and three specific instances are given for our understanding: viz. (1) freeing the bondman, (2) feeding the orphan, and (3) feeding the indigent down in the dust.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Ie., slaves should be liberated. The Qur’ān has placed this at the top of the list of virtuous deeds. Every person can estimate the importance of this directive as a result. This is the first step by the Qur’ān to eradicate this menace. Later, directives given in Sūrah Muḥammad, Sūrah al-Nūr and Sūrah al-Tawbah totally eradicated it. It is another matter that people still refused to follow this directive for centuries after the Qur’ān was revealed. It was only at the beginning of the previous century that the directive of the Qur’ān was finally fulfilled and this curse was abolished from this world.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
Then follows an explanation of this ascent and its nature by means of, first, pointing out some actions which were totally lacking in the particular surroundings that the message of Islam was facing at the time: the freeing of slaves and the feeding of the poor who were subjected to the cruelty of an ungracious and greedy society. It then adds what is applicable to all ages and societies and needed by all who wish to attempt the ascent.

This surah was revealed in Makkah when Islam was surrounded powerful by enemies and the state that would implement its laws s non-existent. Slavery was widespread in Arabia and the world large. The treatment meted out to slaves was brutal. When some the slaves or former slaves, like `Ammar ibn Yasir and his family, Bilal ibn Rabah, and others, accepted Islam their plight became worse, and their cruel masters subjected them to unbearable torture. It then became clear that the only way to save them was to buy them from their masters. Abu Bakr, the Prophet’s Companion, was, as usual, the first to rise to the occasion, with all the boldness and gallantry required.

Ibn Ishaq relates:

Bilal, Abu Bakr’s servant, was owned by some individual of the clan of Jumah as he was born a slave. He was, however, a genuine Muslim and clean hearted. Umayyah ibn Khalaf, the Jumah master, used to take Bilal out when it became unbearably hot and order him to be laid down on his back on the hot sand of Makkah and cause a massive rock to be placed on his chest. Then, he would say to Bilal that he was to stay like that until he died or renounced Muhammad and accepted as deities the idols called al-Lat and al-‘Uzza, the goddesses of the pagan Arabs. Under all such pressure, Bilal would simply say, ‘One, One,’ meaning that there is only one God.
One day, Abu Bakr passed by and saw Bilal in that condition. He said to Umayyah: ‘Do you not fear God as you torture this helpless soul? How long can you go on doing this?’ Umayyah replied, ‘You spoiled him, so you save him.’ Abu Bakr said, ‘I will. I have a black boy who follows your religion but he is stronger and more vigorous than Bilal. What do you say to an exchange deal?’ Umayyah said, ‘I accept.’ Abu Bakr said, ‘Then he is yours.’ Then Abu Bakr took Bilal and set him free.
While in Makkah, before the migration to Madinah, Abu Bakr freed a total of seven people: `Amir ibn Fahirah, who fought in the Battle of Badr and was killed in the Battle of Bi’r Ma`unah, was the only other man freed by Abu Bakr. The other five were women. The first two were Umm `Ubays and Zanirah, who lost her eyesight when she was freed. Some of the Quraysh claimed that the two idols al-Lat and al-‘Uzza caused the loss of her eyesight. Zanirah said, ‘What rubbish! Al-Lat and al-‘Uzza are absolutely powerless.’ God then willed that she should recover her sight.
Abu Bakr also freed a woman called al-Nahdiyyah and her daughter, who belonged to a woman of the clan of `Abd al-Dar. One day he passed by the two women as their mistress was sending them on an errand to prepare some flour. As she gave them her instructions, she declared: ‘By God, I will never set you free.’ Abu Bakr said to her, ‘Release yourself of your oath.’ She rejoined, ‘It was you who spoilt them. Why don’t you set them free?’ He said, ‘How much do you want for them?’ She named her price. He said, ‘It is a deal, and they are free.’ He turned to the two women and told them to give the woman her flour back. They suggested that they should finish preparing it for her first and he agreed.
The fifth woman was a Muslim slave of the clan of Mu`ammal. She was being tortured by `Umar ibn al-Khattab, who was then still an unbeliever. He beat her until he was tired and said to her, ‘I apologize to you. I have only stopped beating you because I am bored,’ to which she replied, And so God shall thwart you.’ Abu Bakr bought her and set her free.
Abu Quhafah, Abu Bakr’s father, said to him, ‘I see you, son, freeing some weak slaves. Why don’t you free some strong men who can defend and protect you?’ Abu Bakr replied, ‘I am only doing this for the sake of God, father.’ Thus, Abu Bakr scaled the ascent by freeing those helpless souls, for the sake of God. The attendant circumstances in that particular society make such an action one of the most important steps towards scaling the ascent.

اَوۡ اِطۡعٰمٌ فِىۡ يَوۡمٍ ذِىۡ مَسۡغَبَةٍ ۙ‏ 
(90:14) or giving food on a day of hunger

Yusuf Ali Explanation
Feed those who need it, both literally and figuratively; but do so especially when there is privation or famine.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
A time of famine and hunger, when food becomes scarce, is a time when the reality of faith is tested.

يَّتِيۡمًا ذَا مَقۡرَبَةٍ ۙ‏ 
(90:15) to an orphan near of kin;

Yusuf Ali Explanation
All orphans should be fed and helped. But ordinary orphans will come under the indigent in verse 16 below. The orphans related to us have a special claim on us. They should be near and dear to us, and if charity begins at home, they have the first claim on us.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
For orphans in that greedy, miserly and ungracious society were oppressed and mistreated even by their relatives.

The Qur’an is full of verses which urge people to treat orphans well. This, in itself, is a measure of the cruelty of the orphans’ surroundings. Good treatment for orphans is a stepping stone for the ascent.

اَوۡ مِسۡكِيۡنًا ذَا مَتۡرَبَةٍ ؕ‏ 
(90:16) or to a destitute lying in dust;
Since in the foregoing verses the extravagances of man which he indulges in for ostentation and expression of superiority to others, have been mentioned, now here it is being stated as to what expenditure of wealth it is which leads man up to moral heights instead of causing him to sink into moral depravity and perversion. But in this there is no enjoyment for the self; on the contrary, man has to exercise self-restraints and make sacrifices. The expenditure is that one should set a slave free, or should render a slave monetary help so as to enable him to win his freedom by paying the ransom, or free a debtor from his debt, or secure release of a helpless person without means from penalties. Likewise, the expenditure is that one should feed a nearly related orphan (i.e. an orphan who is either a relative or a neighbor) who is hungry, and a needy, helpless person who might have been reduced to extreme poverty and might have none to support and help him. Helping such people does not win a person fame and reputation, nor feeding them brings him the admiration for being wealthy and generous, which one usually wins by holding banquets for thousands of well-to-do people. But the path to moral and spiritual heights passes on steep uphill roads only.

Great merits of the acts of virtue mentioned in these verses have been described by the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace). For instance: 
  • About fakku raqabah (fleeing a neck from bondage) many a hadith has been related in the traditions, one of which is a tradition from Hadrat Abu Hurairah, to the effect; "The Holy Prophet said: The person who set a believing slave free, Allah will save from fire of Hell every limb of his body in lieu of every limb of the slave's body, the hand in lieu of the hand, the foot in lies of the foot, the private parts in lieu of the private parts " (Musnad, Ahmad, Bukhari. Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i). Hadrat 'Ali bin Husain (lmam Zain al-`Abedin) asked Sa`d bin Marjanah, the reporter of this Hadith: "Did you hear it yourself from Abu Hurairah?" When he replied in the affirmative, Imam Zain al-`Abedin called out his most valuable slave and set him free there and then. According to Muslim, he had an offer often thousand dirhams for the slave. On the basis of this verse, Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Sha`bi have ruled: "Setting a slave free is superior to giving away charity, for Allah has mentioned it before the mention of charity.
  • The Holy Prophet has mentioned the merits of rendering help to the needy in many a hadith, one of which is this Hadith from Hadrat Abu Hurairah: "The Holy Prophet said: The one who strives in the cause of rendering help to the widow and the needy is like the one who endeavors and strives in the cause of jihad for the sake of Allah. (And Hadrat Abu Hurairah says :) I think that the Holy Prophet also said: He is even like him who keeps standing up in the Prayer constantly, without ever taking rest, and like him who observes the fast continuously without ever breaking it:" (Bukhari, Muslim).
As for the orphans, there are numerous sayings reported from the Holy Prophet. Hadrat Sahl bin Sa`d has reported: "The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) said: I and the one who supports a nearly related of un-related orphan, shall stand in Paradise like this-saying this he raised his index finger and the middle finger, keeping them a little apart." (Bukhari). Hadrat Abu HIurairah has reported this saying of the Holy Prophet: "The best among the Muslim homes is the home wherein an orphan is treated well and the worst the one wherein an orphan is mistreated." (Ibn Majah, Bukhari in Al-Adab al- Mufrad). Hadrat Abu Umamah says that the Holy Prophet said: "The one who passed his hand on the head of an orphan, only for the sake of Allah, will have as many acts of virtue recorded in his favour as the number of the hair on which his hand passed, and the one who treated an orphan boy or girl well. will stand in Paradise with me like this...saying this the Holy Prophet joined his two fingers together." (Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhi). Ibn 'Abbas says: The Holy Prophet said: "The one who made an orphan join him in eating and drinking, Allah will make Paradise obligatory for him unless he commits a sin which cannot be forgiven." (Sharh as-Sunnah).Hadrat Abu Hurairah says: A man complained before the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace), saying: "I am hard-hearted." The Holy Prophet said to him: "Treat the orphan with kindness and love and feed the needy one." (Musnad Ahmad). 

Yusuf Ali Explanation
People down in the dust can only be helped from motives of pure charity, because nothing can be expected of them-neither praise nor advertisement nor any other advantage to the helper. Such help is help indeed. But there may be various degrees, and the help will be suited to the needs.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Food obviously is one of their basic needs. However, this does not merely mean food; it refers to all needs that have to be fulfilled. The adjective فِيۡ يَوۡمٍ ذِيۡ مَسۡغَبَةٍ is meant to make the appeal more effective. The adjectives ذَا مَقْرَبَةٍ and ذَا مَتْرَبَةٍ used with the orphans and the needy respectively also serve the same purpose.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
The same can be said of feeding the needy on a day of famine, which is portrayed here as another step for scaling the ascent. For this is again a test which reveals the characteristics of the believer, such as mercy, sympathy, co-operation and lack of selfishness. It also reveals the extent of one’s fear of God.

Verses 17-20 Description of the companions of the right and left hand 
ثُمَّ كَانَ مِنَ الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَتَوَاصَوۡا بِالصَّبۡرِ وَتَوَاصَوۡا بِالۡمَرۡحَمَةِ ؕ‏ 
(90:17) and, then besides this, he be one of those who believed, and enjoined upon one another steadfastness and enjoined upon one another compassion.
(And, then besides this, he be one of those who believed) That is, "In addition to these qualities it is essential that one should be a believer, for without faith no act is an act of virtue, nor acceptable in the sight of Allah. 

At numerous places in the Qur'an, it has been stated that only such an act of virtue is appreciable and becomes a means of salvation as is accompanied by faith. 
  • In Surah 4. An-Nisa', for example, it has been said: "The one who does good deeds, whether man or woman, provided that the one is a believer, will enter Paradise (v. 124.)" 
  • In Surah An-Nahl: "Whosoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, provided that he is a believer, We shall surely grant him to live a pure life in this world, and We will reward such people (in the Hereafter) according to their best deeds" (v. 97). 
  • In Surah Al-Mu'min: "Whoever does good, whether man or woman, provided that he is a believer, all such people shall enter Paradise wherein they shall be provided without measure." (v: 4). 
Whoever studies the Qur'an, will see that in this Book wherever the good reward of a righteous act has been mentioned, it has always been made conditional upon the faith, a good act without faith; has nowhere been regarded as acceptable to God, nor has any hope been given for a reward for it.

Here, the following important point also should not remain hidden from view: In this verse it has not been said: "Then he believed", but: "Then he joined those who believed.' This means that mere believing as an individual and remaining content with it is not what is desired; what is desired is that every new believer should join those who have already believed so as to form a party of the believers, to bring about a believing society, which should work for establishing the virtues and wiping out the vices as demanded by the faith. 

(And enjoined upon one another steadfastness and enjoined upon one another compassion) These are two of the important characteristics of the believing society, which have been expressed in two brief sentences. The first characteristic is that its members should exhort one another to patience, and the second that they should exhort one another to compassion and mercy.

As for patience, we have explained at many places that in view of the extensive meaning in which the Qur'an has used this word, the entire life of a believer is a life of patience. As soon as a man stops on to the path of the faith, test of his patience starts. Patience is required to be exercised in performing the acts of worship enjoined by Allah patience is needed in carrying out the commands of Allah; abstention from the things forbidden by Allah is not possible without patience; patience is needed in abandoning the moral evils and in adopting the pure morals; temptations to sin faced at every step can be resisted only by recourse to patience. On countless occasions in life obedience to God's law entails losses, troubles, hardships and deprivations, and disobedience to the law seems to bring benefits and pleasures. Without patience no believer can fare well on such occasions. Then, as soon as a believer has adopted the way of the faith, he has to meet with resistance not only from his own self and personal desires but also from his children, family, society, country and nation and from the base-hearted among men and jinn of the entire world; so much so that he is even required to abandon his country and undertake Jihad in the cause of God. Under all these conditions only the quality of patience can cause a man to remain steadfast to principles. Now, obviously, if every believer individually was put to such a hard test, he would be faced with the danger of defeat at every step and world hardly be able to pass through the test successfully. On the contrary, if there existed a believing society every member of which was not only himself possessed of patience but all its members also were .supporting one another mutually in the test of patience, successes would fall to its lot, a tremendous power would be generated to face the evil, a mighty force of good individuals would be ready to help bring the entire society on to the path of virtue and righteousness.

As for mercy and compassion, it is the distinctive feature of the society of believers that they are not hard-hearted, merciless and unjust people but a society whose members are merciful and compassionate. to humanity at large and sympathetic and friendly among themselves. A believer as an individual is an embodiment of Allah's quality of mercy and the group of the believers as a party also is a representative of Allah's Messenger, who has been described thus: "O Muhammad, We have sent you to be a real blessing for the people of the world." (AI-Anbiya': 107). 

The highest moral quality which the Holy Messenger (upon whom be Allah's peace) tried his utmost to inculcate among his followers was this very quality of mercy. Consider - the following of his sayings, which show what importance he attached to it. 
  • Hadrat Jarir bin `Abdullah says that the Holy Messenger (upon whom be peace) said: "Allah does not show mercy to him who does not show mercy to others." (Bukhari, Muslim).
  • Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Amr bin al-`As says that the holy Prophet said: "The Rahman (Merciful) shows mercy to those who show mercy (to others). Show mercy to those who live on the earth, the One who is in heaven will show mercy to you." (Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi).
  • Hadrat Abu Sa`id Khudri has reported that the Holy Prophet said: "The one who does not show mercy, is not shown mercy. " (Bukhari in Al-Adab al-Mufrad). Ibn `Abbas says that the Holy Prophet said: "The one who does not treat our young ones mercifully and does not treat our elderly ones respectfully, dces not belong to us. " (TirmidhI).
  • Abu Da'ud has related this same saying of the Holy Prophet on the authority of Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Amr, thus: "The one who did not feel pity on our young and did not respect our elderly does not belong to us."
  • Hadrat Abu Hurairah says: "I have heard Abul-Qasim, the Truthful (upon whom be peace), say: "The heart of the wretched one is deprived of the quality of mercy altogether'. " (Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhi).
  • Hadrat `Iyad bin Humad relates that the Holy Prophet said: "Three kinds of men belong to Paradise, one of whom is the person who is kindly and compassionate to every relative and every Muslim." (Muslim).
  • Hadrat Nu`man bin Bashir has reported that the Holy Prophet said: "You will find the believers like a body in the matter of mutual kindness, love and sympathy, so that if one part of the body suffers the whole body suffers and becomes restless because of it." (Bukhari, Muslim).
  • Hadrat Abu Musa Al-ash`ari says that the Holy Prophet said: "The believer is for the other believer like a wall each part of which supports and strengthens the other part." (Bukhari, Muslim).
  • Hadrat `Abdullah bin 'Umar has reported that the Holy Prophet said: "A Muslim is a brother of the other Muslim: neither treats him unjustly, nor withholds his help from him. The person who works to fulfill a need of his brother, Allah will seek to fulfill his need; and the one who rescues a Muslim from an affliction, Allah will rescue him from an affliction of the afflictions of the Resurrection Day; and the one who conceals the fault of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his fault on the Resurrection Day. " (Bukhari, Muslim).
These traditions indicate what kind of a society is envisaged by the Qur'anic instruction given in this verse, which exhorts the righteous people to join the group of the believers after they have affirmed the faith. 

Yusuf Ali Explanation
Such practical charity and love will be the acid test of Faith and the teaching of all virtues. The virtues are summed up under the names of Patience (the Arabic word includes constancy and self-restraint) and compassionate kindness. Not only will they be the test by which the sincerity of their Faith will be judged; they will be the fruit which their Faith will constantly produce.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual words are: وَ تَوَاصَوۡا بِالصَّبۡرِ وَ تَوَاصَوۡا بِالۡمَرۡحَمَةِ. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:

Here the word مَرۡحَمَة (sympathy) is mentioned together with صَبْر (patience) the wayحَق (truth) is mentioned together with صَبْر (patience) in Sūrah al-‘Aṣr. The reason for this is the nature of the deeds of virtue which I have referred to while explaining the expression الْعَقَبَةَ اقْتَحَمَ in verse eleven: these deeds are generally against one’s inner desires and hence a person has to counter this obstacle while doing such deeds and it is like climbing a slope. Only those can climb this slope who have the quality of patience in them. In Arabic, the real meaning of صَبْر is “perseverance and steadfastness.” Those who are devoid of this quality lack valour and bravery; hence, it was deemed necessary that those who have been urged to do virtuous deeds should also be urged to be patient and steadfast. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 9, 377)

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
For what would be the value of freeing slaves or feeding the hungry without faith? It is faith which gives such actions their value and their weight in God’s sight, because it relates them to a profound and consistent system. Thus, good deeds are no longer the result of a momentary impulse. Their aim is not any social reputation or self-interest.

Patience in adversity is an important element in the general context of faith as well as in the particular context of attempting the ascent. That people should counsel each other to be patient in adversity is to attain a highest level than that of having such a quality themselves. It is a practical demonstration of the solidarity of the believers as they co-operate closely to carry out their duties as believers in God. The society formed by the believers is an integrated structure whose elements share the same feelings and the same awareness about the need to exert themselves in establishing the divine system on earth and to carry out its duties fully. Hence, they counsel each other to persevere as they shoulder their common responsibilities. They rally to support one another in order to achieve their common objective. This is something more than perseverance by individuals, although it builds on it. For it indicates the individual’s role in the believers’ society, namely, that he must be an element of strength and a source of hope and comfort to the whole society.

The same applies to enjoining each other to be merciful, which is a grade higher than simply being merciful themselves. Thus the spirit of mercy spreads among the believers as they consider such mutual counselling an individual and communal duty in the fulfilment of which all co-operate.  Hence, the idea of ‘community’ is evident in this injunction, as it is emphasised elsewhere in the Qur’an and in the traditions of the Prophet. This idea is central to the concept of Islam which is a religion and a way of life. Nevertheless, the responsibility and accountability of the individual are clearly defined and strongly emphasized.

اُولٰٓـئِكَ اَصۡحٰبُ الۡمَيۡمَنَةِ ؕ‏ 
(90:18) These are the People of the Right Hand.
Those who scale the ascent, as defined here in the Qur’an, shall have their dwelling place on the right hand, which indicates that they will enjoy a happy recompense for what they do in this life.

وَالَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡا بِاٰيٰتِنَا هُمۡ اَصۡحٰبُ الۡمَشۡـئَـمَةِ ؕ‏ 
(90:19) As for those who rejected Our Signs, they are the People of the Left Hand.
For an explanation of the people of the right hand and of the left hand, see (explanation of verses 8-9 of Surah Al-Waqiah), reproduced herein under:
  • " فَاَصۡحٰبُ الۡمَيۡمَنَةِ ۙ مَاۤ اَصۡحٰبُ الۡمَيۡمَنَةِ ؕ‏ " (56:8) The People on the Right: and how fortunate will be the People on the Right! The word maintanah (الۡمَيۡمَنَةِ) n ashab al-maimanah, in the original, stay have been derived from Yamin, which means the right hand, and also from yumn, which means good omen. If it is taken to be derived from yamin, ashab almaimanah would mean: `those of the right hand." This, however, does not imply its lexical meaning, but it signifies the people of exalted rank and position. The Arabs regarded the right hand as a symbol of strength and eminence and honor, and therefore would seat a person whom they wished to do honor, on the right hand, in the assemblies. And if it is taken as derived from yumn, ashab almaimanah would mean fortunate and blessed people. 
  • " وَاَصۡحٰبُ الۡمَشۡـئَـمَةِ ۙ مَاۤ اَصۡحٰبُ الۡمَشۡـئَـمَةِؕ‏ " (56:9) the People on the Left: and how miserable will be the People on the Left! The word mash 'amah (الۡمَشۡـئَـمَةِ) in ashab al-mash'amah, in the original, is from shu'm which means misfortune, ill-luck and bad omen; in Arabic the left hand also is called shuma. The Arabs regarded shimal (the left hand) and shu'm (bad omen) as synonyms, the left hand being a symbol of weakness and indignity. If a bird flew left on the commencement of a journey, they would take it as a bad omen; if they made a person sit on their left, it meant they regarded him as a weak man. Therefore, ashab al-mash'amah implies ill-omened people, or those who would suffer disgrace and ignominy, and would be made to stand on the left side in the Court of Allah. 
Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
This group can be clearly identified as ‘those who deny Our revelations'. Nothing can be good if coupled with unbelief. All evil is contained and encompassed by the denial of God. There is no point in saying that this group do not free slaves or give food to the needy, and, moreover, they deny Our revelations. For such a denial renders worthless any action they may do. They dwell on the left hand, which indicates their degradation and disgrace. These people cannot scale the ascent.

عَلَيۡهِمۡ نَارٌ مُّؤۡصَدَةٌ
(90:20) Upon them shall be a Fire that will hem them in.
That is, fire will be covering them from every side that they will find no way of escape from it.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
I.e., the fires of despair in the life to come "rising over the [sinners'] hearts" and "closing in upon them": cf. {104:6-8} and the corresponding note. The phrase rendered by me as "such as have lost themselves in evil" reads, literally, "people of the left side (al-mash'amah)".

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
That is, they are encircled by it either in the sense that they are locked within it, or in the sense that it is their eternal abode. It's being close above them gives them no chance of breaking away from it. These are then the fundamental facts concerning human life laid down from the point of view of faith, in a limited space but with great power and clarity.

You may now like to listen to explanation of the Heart of the Sürah by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:
Note: For the detailed explanation / exegesis / Tafsir of the Surah by Nouman Ali Khan, follow the link: Tafseer of Surah 90 - Balad - Nouman Ali Khan

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.
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. 
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.

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.

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 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.  [1]

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):  
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Tafsir Nouman Ali Khan
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Wikipedia
In addition, 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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