Showing posts with label Makan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Makan. Show all posts

Friday 31 March 2023

Exegesis / Tafseer (تفسير) Al Qur'an: Surah 85. Al Burooj (The Constellations)

Sūrah al-Burooj is the eighty fifth Sürah with 22 āyāt, part of the 30th Juzʼ  of the Qur'ān. The Sürah is so designated after the word al burooj appearing in the first verse. The word "Al-Burooj" in the first verse is usually translated as 'stars', or more specifically, 'great stars'. The word Al-Burooj is the plural of Burj, which means fort or tower; something that can be seen from a distance.

Revealed in Makkah, the theme is to warn the disbelievers of the evil consequences of the persecution and tyranny that they were perpetrating on the converts to Islam, and to console the believers, so as to say: "If you remain firm and steadfast against tyranny and coercion, you will be rewarded richly for it, and Allah will certainly avenge Himself on your persecutors on your behalf."

We have already presented the overview / summary of the Sürah, which also includes its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles. 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 Surah in English at the end of this post.

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

وَالسَّمَآءِ ذَاتِ الۡبُرُوۡجِۙ‏ 
(1)   By the sky containing great stars
Literally: "By heaven having constellations." Some of the commentators have interpreted it to mean the twelve signs of the zodiac in the heavens according to ancient astronomy, However, according to Ibn 'Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah, Hasan Basri, Dahhak and Suddi it implies the glorious stars and platters of the sky.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: The Interpretation of the Word Buruj Allah swears by the heaven and its Buruj.
The Buruj are the giant stars, as Allah says:
(تَبَارَكَ الَّذِى جَعَلَ فِى السَّمَآءِ بُرُوجاً وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا سِرَاجاً وَقَمَراً مُّنِيراً  Blessed is He Who has placed in the heaven Buruj, and has placed therein a great lamp (the sun), and a moon giving light.) (25:61) 
Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and As-Suddi, all said, "Al-Buruj are the stars.'' Al-Minhal bin `Amr said: (وَالسَّمَآءِ ذَاتِ الْبُرُوجِ By the heaven holding the Buruj.) "The beautiful creation.'' Ibn Jarir chose the view that it means the positions of the sun and the moon, which are twelve Buruj. The sun travels through each one of these "Burj'' (singular of Buruj) in one month. The moon travels through each one of these Burj in two-and-a-third days, which makes a total of twenty-eight positions, and it is hidden for two nights.

Yusuf Ali Explanation
Here is an appeal to three Signs in verses 1-3, and the substantive proposition is in verses 4-8, a denunciation of wicked persecutors of the votaries of Allah, persecutors who burnt righteous men for their Faith. The three Signs are: (1) the Glorious Sky, with the broad belt of the Constellations marking the twelve Signs of the Zodiac; (2) the Day of Judgment, when all evil will be punished; and (3) certain Persons that will be witnesses, and certain Persons or things that will be the subjects of the witness.

The Stars of the Zodiac as well as of other Constellations are like the eyes of the Night. It may be that crimes are committed in the darkness of the night. But countless eyes are watching all the time, and every author of evil will be brought to book. (Also see explanation of Surah xv. 16)

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The word بُرْج means forts and castles. Here, it refers to the forts and observation posts in which angels of God are always stationed to protect the universe. Their evidence is presented to warn the arrogant leaders of Makkah and Ṭā’if that soon they will be held accountable for the wave of oppression they have let loose on the Muslims. The forts of the heavens bear witness that everything is in God’s sight and His angels sitting in them guard every part of this universe. This arrangement has been made because the purpose is to make this world culminate in a Day of Judgement.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
This short surah outlines the essentials of faith and the basics of belief as matters of great importance. It sheds a powerful and searching light over these essentials in order to reveal what lies beyond the elementary facts expressed in the text. Every verse, and sometimes every word, in this surah virtually opens a window overlooking a limitless world of truth.

Before making any reference to the pit event, the surah opens with an oath by a heaven full of constellations. The Arabic term, buruj, used for ‘constellations’ may be taken to mean the huge mass of planets which resemble great towers or palaces built in the sky.  The Arabic term may, alternatively, be interpreted as meaning the positions between which these planets move as they go round in orbit. These constitute the spheres within which the planets remain as they move. This reference to the constellations, however, gives an impression of a huge creation. This is, indeed, the connotation intended at the outset.

وَالۡيَوۡمِ الۡمَوۡعُوۡدِۙ‏ 
(2)   And [by] the promised Day
That is, the Day of Resurrection.

Yusuf Ali Explanation
The Day of Judgment, when the Sinner will have to give an account of every deed, open or hidden, is not merely a matter of speculation. It is definitely promised in revelation, and will inevitably come to pass. Woe then to the Sinners for their crimes.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Ie., the Day of Judgement which is evidence on itself. No sane person can refute it because a person is intuitively aware of it. No external evidence is required to validate it.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
That is the day when judgement is passed on all the events of this life and when the accounts of this world are settled. It is a day God has promised will come, and is a great day awaited by all creation.

وَشَاهِدٍ وَّمَشۡهُوۡدٍؕ‏ 
(3)   And [by] the witness and what is witnessed,
The commentators have expressed many different views about "the seer" and "that which is seen". In our opinion what fits in well with the context is that the seer is every such person who will witness the Day of Resurrection and that which is seen is the Resurrection itself, the dreadful scenes of which will be seen by all This is the view of Mujahid. 'Ikrimah, Dahhak, lbn Nujaih and some other commentators.  

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
By creating the universe, God "bears witness", as it were, to His Own almightiness and uniqueness: cf. 3:18 - "God [Himself] bears witness that there is no deity save Him"

Yusuf Ali Explanation:  
The literal meaning is clear, but its metaphorical application has been explained in a variety of ways by different Commentators. The words are fairly comprehensive, and should, I think, be understood in connection with Judgment. There the Witnesses may be: (1) the Prophets (iii. 81); Allah Himself (iii. 81, and x. 61); the Recording Angels (I. 21); the Sinner's own misused limbs (xxiv. 24); his record of deeds (xvii. 14); or the Sinner himself (xvii. 14). The subject of the witness may be the deed or crime, or the Sinner against whom the testimony cries out. The appeal to these things means that the Sinner cannot possibly escape the consequences of his crime. He should repent, seek Allah's Mercy, and amend his life.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
On that day all deeds and creatures are exposed and witnessed. Everybody becomes a witness. Everything becomes known as there is no cover to hide anything from beholding eyes. References to heaven and the constellations, the promised day, the witness and what is witnessed all combine to impart an aura of seriousness, concern, attention and momentum to the manner in which the pit event is related. They also provide the framework in which the event is viewed, judged and settled on the basis of its true nature. It is a framework stretching far beyond the limits of this short life.

قُتِلَ اَصۡحٰبُ الۡاُخۡدُوۡدِۙ‏ 
(4)   Cursed were the companions of the trench

Yusuf Ali Explanation
Who were the makers of the pit of fire in which they burn people for their Faith? The words are perfectly general, and we need not search for particular names, except by way of illustration. In ancient history, and in Medieval Europe, many lives were sacrificed at the stake because the victims did not conform to the established religion. In Arab tradition there is the story of Abraham: Nimrud tries to burn him to death, but on account of Abraham's Faith, the fire became "a means of safety for Abraham": xxi. 69, and n. 2725. Another case cited is that of Zu-Nuwas, the last Himyarite King of Yemen, by religion a Jew, who persecuted the Christians of Najran and is said to have burnt them to death. He seems to have lived in the latter half of the sixth Christian century, in the generation immediately preceding the Prophet's birth in 570 A.D. While the words are perfectly general, a reference is suggested to the persecution to which the early Muslims were subjected by the Pagan Quraish. Among other cruelties, they were stripped, and their skins were exposed to the burning rays of the Arabian summer sun.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This is a note of severe reprimand sounded to the arrogant leadership of the Quraysh which was oppressing and persecuting the Muslims in order to make them give up their faith. They are warned that if they do not abstain from their harassing and hostile behaviour they shall be flung into the raging pit of Hell whose fire will not extinguish or lessen in intensity.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
This verse then refers to the event in just a few brief strokes. Reference to the event starts with a declaration of anger with the tyrants: “Slain be the people of the pit.” It also gives an impression of the enormity of the crime which has invoked the displeasure and anger of God, the All-Clement, and which makes Him threaten the perpetrators.

النَّارِ ذَاتِ الۡوَقُوۡدِۙ‏ 
(5) [Containing] the fire full of fuel,

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Lit., "those responsible (ashab) for the pit of fire abounding in fuel". In order to explain this parabolic passage, the commentators interpret it - quite unnecessarily - in the past tense, and advance the most contradictory legends meant to "identify" those evildoers in historical terms. The result is a medley of stories ranging from Abraham's experiences with his idolatrous contemporaries (cf. {21:68-70}) to the Biblical legend of Nebuchadnezzar's attempt to burn three pious Israelites in a fiery furnace (The Book of Daniel iii, 19 ff.), or the persecution, in the sixth century, of the Christians of Najran by the King of Yemen, Dhu Nawas (who was a Jew by religion), or the entirely apocryphal story of a Zoroastrian king who burnt to death those of his subjects who refused to accept his dictum that a marriage of brother and sister was "permitted by God"; and so forth. None of these legends needs, of course, to be seriously considered in this context. As a matter of fact, the very anonymity of the evildoers referred to in the above Qur'anic passage shows that we have here a parable and not an allusion to "historical" or even legendary events. The persecutors are people who having no faith whatsoever, hate to see faith in others (see verse {8} below); the "pit of fire" is a metaphor for the persecution of the latter by the former: a phenomenon not restricted to any particular time or to a particular people but recurring in many forms and in varying degrees of intensity throughout recorded history.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
We then have a description of the pit: “The fire abounding in fuel.” The literal meaning of ‘pit’ is a hole in the ground, but the surah defines it as ‘the fire’ instead of using the term ‘trench’ or ‘hole’ in order to give an impression that the whole pit was turned into a blazing furnace.

اِذۡ هُمۡ عَلَيۡهَا قُعُوۡدٌ ۙ‏ 
(6) When they were sitting near it

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The persecutors sat calmly to gloat over the agonies of their victims in the well-fed fire.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki: Overview (Verses 6 - 9)
The perpetrators aroused God’s wrath for the evil crime they committed: “When they sat around it, watching what they did to the believers.” (Verses 6-7) They sat over the fire, in the actual vicinity of the horror, watching the various stages of torture, and madly enjoying the burning of human flesh in order to perpetuate in their minds this ghastly scene.
The believers had not committed any crime or evil deed against them: “They took vengeance on them for no reason other than that they believed in God, the Almighty, to whom all praise is due, to whom the dominion of the heavens and the earth belongs. But God is witness of all things.” (Verses 8-9) That was their only crime: they believed in God Almighty who deserves praise for every situation even though ignorant people do not do so. He is the Lord who deserves to be worshipped, the sole sovereign of the kingdoms of the heavens and the earth. As He witnesses all things He has witnessed what the tyrants did to the believers. This verse reassures the believers and delivers a powerful threat to the tyrants. God has been a witness and He suffices for a witness.
The narration of the event is completed in a few short verses which charge our hearts with a feeling of repugnance towards the terrible crime and its evil perpetrators. They also invite us to contemplate what lies beyond the event, its importance in the sight of God and what it has aroused of God’s wrath. It is a matter which is not yet completed. Its conclusion lies with God.
As the narration of the event concludes we feel overwhelmed by the magnificence of faith as it exalts the believers and attains its triumph over all hardships, and indeed over life itself. We feel the elevation of the believers as they rid themselves of the handicaps of human desire and worldly temptation. The believers could easily have saved their lives by accepting the tyrants’ terms. But what a loss humanity as a whole would have incurred! How great the loss would have been had they killed that sublime concept of the worthlessness of life without faith, its ugliness without freedom and its baseness when tyrants are left free to exercise their tyranny over people’s souls after they have exercised it over their bodies. But they have won a very noble and sublime concept while the fire burned their flesh. Their noble concept has triumphed as it was purified by the fire. They will, later on, have their reward from God and their tyrannical enemies will have their retribution. The surah then goes on to explain both.

وَّهُمۡ عَلٰى مَا يَفۡعَلُوۡنَ بِالۡمُؤۡمِنِيۡنَ شُهُوۡدٌ ؕ‏ 
(7) And they, to what they were doing against the believers, were witnesses.
"The people of the ditch": those who had burnt the believers at stake and witnessed their burning themselves. "Doomed were...": cursed were they by God and they became worthy of Hell torment. On this an oath has been sworn by Three things:
  • (1) By the heaven having constellations,
  • (2) by the Day of Resurrection, which has been promised, and
  • (3) by the dreadful scenes of the Day of Resurrection and all those creatures who will witness those scenes.
The first of these testifies to the truth that the Sovereign, Absolute Being Who is ruling over the glorious stars and planets of the universe, cannot allow this contemptible, insignificant creature called man to escape His grip. The second thing has been sworn by on the basis that the wicked people committed whatever tyranny they wanted to commit, but the Day of which men have been fore-warned is sure to come when the grievances of every wronged person will be redressed and every wrongdoer will be brought to book and punished. The third thing has been sworn by for the reason that just as these wicked people enjoyed witnessing the burning of the helpless believers, so will all human beings on the Day of Resurrection witness how they are taken to task and burnt in Hell.

Several events have been mentioned in the traditions of the believers having been thrown into pits of blazing fire, which show that such tyrannies have been inflicted many a time in history.

One of the events has beets reported by Hadrat Suhaib Rumi from the Holy Prophet (upon whom there be peace), saying that a king had a magician at his court who becoming old requested the king to appoint a boy who should learn magic from him. Accordingly, the king appointed a boy. But the boy while going to the magician's place and coming hack home also started visiting on the way a monk (who was probably a follower of the Prophet Jesus) and being influenced by his teaching turned a believer. So much so that by his training he acquired miraculous powers. He would heal the blind and cure the lepers. When the king came to know that the boy had behaved in the Unity of God, he first put the monk to the sword: the+ wanted to kill the boy, but no instrument and no device had any effect on him. At last, the boy said to the king: "If you are bent upon killing me, shoot an arrow at me with the word: Bi-ismi Rahhil-ghulam (in the name of this boy's Lord) in front of the assembled people. and I shall die." The king did as he was told and the boy died. There upon the people cried out that they affirmed faith in the Lord of the boy. The courtiers told the king that the same precisely had happened which Ire wanted to avoid: the people had forsaken his religion and adopted the boy's religion. At this the king was filled with rage. Consequently, he got pits dug out along the roads, got them tilled with fire and ordered all those who refused to renounce the new faith to be thrown into the fire. (Ahmad, Muslim. Nasa'i, TIrmidhi, Ibn Jarir. 'Abdur Razzaq. Ibn Abi Shaibah, Tabarani. 'Ahd hin Humaid)

The second event has been reported from Hadrat 'Ali. He says that a king of lean drank wine and committed adultery with his sister resulting in illicit relations between the two. When the secret became known, the king got the announcement made that God had permitted marriage with the sister. When the people refused to believe in it, he started coercing them into accepting by different kinds of punishment; so much so that he began to cast into the pits of fire every such person who refused to concede it. According to Hadrat 'AIi, marriage with the prohibited relations among the fire worshipers has begun since then (Ibn Jarir).

The third event has been related by lbn 'Abbas probably on the hasin of the Israelite traditions, saying that the people of Babylon had compelled the children of Israel to give up the religion of the Prophet Moses (peace he upon himl: so much so that they cast into pits of tire all those who refused to obey. Ibn Jarir, 'Ahd bin Humaid).

The best-known event, however, relates to Najran. which has been related by Ibn Hisham, Tabari. Ibn Khaldun. the author of Mujam al-Buldan and other Islamic historians. Its resume is as follows: Tuban Asad Abu Karib, king of Himyar (Yaman), went to Yathrib once where he embraced Judaism under the influence of the Jews, and brought two of the Jewish scholars of Bani Quraizah with him to Yaman. There he propagated Judaism widely. His son Dhu Nuwas succeeded him and he attacked Najran which was a stronghold of the Christians in southern Arabia so as to eliminate Christianity and make the people accept Judaism. Ibn Hisham says that these people were true followers of the Gospel of the Prophet Jesus) In Najran he invited the people to accept Judaism but they refused to obey. There upon he caused a large number of the people to he burnt in the ditches of fire and slew many others with the sword until he had killed nearly twenty thousand of them. Daus Dhu Tha laban an inhabitant of Najran, escaped and went. according to one tradition. to the Byzantine emperor, and according to another. to the Negus king of Abyssinia, and told him what had happened

According to the first tradition, the emperor wrote to the king of Abyssinia, and according to the second, the Negus requested the emperor to provide him with a naval force. In any case; an Abyssinian army consisting of seventy thousand soldiers under a general called Aryat, attacked Yaman, Dhu Nuwas was killed, the Jewish rule came to an end, and Yaman become a part of the Christian kingdom of Abyssinia.

The statements of the Islamic historians are not only confirmed by other historical means but they also give many more details. Yaman first came under the Christian Abyssinian domination in 340 A.D. and this domination continued till 378 A.D. The Christian missionaries started entering Yaman in that period. About the same time, a man named Faymiyun (Phemion), who was a righteous, earnest, ascetic man and possessed miraculous powers, arrived in Yaman and by his preaching against idol-worship converted the people of Najran to Christianity. These people were ruled by three chiefs: Sayyid, who was the principal chief like the tribal elders and responsible for external affairs, political agreements and command of the forces, 'Aqib, who looked after the internal affairs and Usquf (Bishop), the religious guide. In southern Arabia Najran commanded great importance, being a major trade and industrial center with tussore, leather and the armament industries. The well-known Yarnanite wrapper and cloak (hulls Yamani) was also manufactured here. On this very basis, Dhu Nuwas attacked this important place not only for religious but also for political and economic reasons. He put to death Harithah (called Arethas by the Syrian historians), Sayyid of Najrain, killed his two daughters in front of his wife Romah and compelled her to drink their blood and then put even her to death. He took out the bones of Bishop Paul from the' grave and burnt them, and ordered women, men, children, aged people, priests and monks, all to be thrown into the pits of fire. The total number of the people thus killed has been estimated between twenty and forty thousand. This happened in October, 523 A.D. At last, in 525 A.D, the Abyssinians attacked Yaman and put an end to Dhu Nuwas and his Himyarite kingdom. This is confirmed by the Hisn Ghurab inscription which the modern archaeologists have unearthed in Yaman.

In several Christian writings of the 6th century A.D. Details of the event relating to the people of the ditch" have been given, some of which are contemporary and reported by eye-witnesses. The authors of three of these books were contemporaries of the event. They were Procopeus, Cosmos Indicopleustis, who was translating Greek book of Ptolemy under command of the Negus Elesboan at that time and resided at Adolis, a city on the sea-coast of Abyssinia, and Johannes Malala froth whom several of the later historians have related this event. After this, Johannes of Ephesus (d. 585 A.D) has related the story of the persecution of the Christians of Najran in his history of the Church from a letter of Bishop Mar Simeon who was a contemporary reporter of this event. Mar Simeon wrote this letter to Abbot von Gabula; in it Simeon has reported this event with reference to the statements of the Yarnanite eye-witnesses present on the occasion. This letter was published in 1881 A.D from Rome and in 1890 A.D. in the memoirs of the martyrs of Christianity Jacobian Patriarch Dionysius and Zacharia of Mitylene have in their Syriac histories also related this event. Ya`qub Saruji also in his book about the Christians of Najran has made mention of it. Bishop Pulus of Edessa's elegy on those who perished in Najran, is still extant. An English translation of the Syriac kitab al-Himyarin (Book of the Himyarites) was published in 1924 from London, which confirms the statements of the Muslim historians. In the British Museum there are some Abyssinian manuscripts relating to that period or a period close to it, which support this story. Philby in his travelogue entitled "Arabian Highlands", writes: Among the people of Najran the place is still well known where the event of the people of the ditch (ashab al-ukhdud) had taken place. Close to Umm Kharaq there can still be seen some pictures carved in the rocks, and the present-day people of Najran also know the place where the cathedral of Najran stood.

The Abyssinian Christians after capturing Najran had built a church here resembling the Ka`bah, by which they wanted to divert pilgrimage from the Ka`bah at Makkah to it. Its priests and keepers wore turbans and regarded it as a sacred sanctuary. The Roman empire also sent monetary aid for this "ka`bah". The priests of this very "Ka`bah" of Najran had visited the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) under the leadership of their Sayyid, `Aqib and Bishop for a discussion with him and the famous event of the mubahala (trial through prayer) took place as referred to in Al-Imran: 61. (For details. see note 55 of Al-Imran) - appended below:

فَمَنْ حَآجَّكَ فِيهِ مِنۢ بَعْدِ مَا جَآءَكَ مِنَ ٱلْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْا۟ نَدْعُ أَبْنَآءَنَا وَأَبْنَآءَكُمْ وَنِسَآءَنَا وَنِسَآءَكُمْ وَأَنفُسَنَا وَأَنفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَل لَّعْنَتَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَى ٱلْكَـٰذِبِينَ
(3:61) Now, whoever disputes with you ˹O Prophet˺ concerning Jesus after full knowledge has come to you, say, “Come! Let us gather our children and your children, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves—then let us sincerely invoke Allah’s curse upon the liars.
This method of settling the dispute was proposed to show conclusively that the members of the deputation of Najran were behaving obdurately. As a matter of fact, they had no answer to the things pointed out in the above discourse and could not bring any authority even from their own Scriptures to justify and support their beliefs under discussion. They could not, therefore, assert with full conviction that their beliefs conformed to the fact and were not false. Besides this, when they observed closely the character and the teachings and the works of the Holy Prophet, the majority of the members of the deputation were so impressed that they became convinced in their hearts of his Prophethood; or at least, they could not reject it boldly. That is why they did not accept the challenge: "If you really believe in the truth of your creed, you should pray with us to Allah and invoke His curse on those who say false things about Christ." The fact that they declined to accept the challenge showed plainly to the whole of Arabia that the religious leaders and priests of the Christians of Najran who were known far and wide for their piety, professed beliefs about which they themselves were not sure. 
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
These are the details of the fate of the cruel who will sit beside the ditch of Hell and observe their ultimate abode before being cast into it. The past tense used is to convey the certainty of the event. The Qur’ān has adopted this style at other places as well. The word شُهُوۡد signifies the consequence of the verb. Examples of this usage can also be found at several instances in the Qur’ān.

وَمَا نَقَمُوۡا مِنۡهُمۡ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ يُّؤۡمِنُوۡا بِاللّٰهِ الۡعَزِيۡزِ الۡحَمِيۡدِۙ‏  
(8) And they resented them not except because they believed in Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Praiseworthy,

الَّذِىۡ لَهٗ مُلۡكُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ​ؕ وَ اللّٰهُ عَلٰى كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ شَهِيۡدٌ ؕ
(9) To whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. And Allah, above all things, is a Witness.
In these verses those of Allah Almighty's attributes have been mentioned on account of which He alone deserves that one should believe in Him, and the people who feel displeased at one's believing in Him, are wicked and unjust. 

Yusuf Ali Explanation
It is suggested that the persecutors will richly deserve to be punished in the Fire of Hell. That Punishment will be far more real and lasting than the undeserved cruelty which they inflicted on men for their Faith in the One True God.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
(to whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth,) Ie., they are being punished merely because they have professed belief in God. For this, the two attributes of the Almighty – الۡعَزِيۡز and الۡحَمِيۡد need our attention. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:
… The former depicts His power, honour and majesty while the latter His mercy, providence and being worthy of praise and gratitude. The purpose of mentioning them is that only the being Who has such attributes is worthy of being professed faith in. Those who have professed faith in Him have relied on the support of someone whose support is the real support and it is only they who will succeed. The glad tidings for oppressed Muslims and the threat for those disbelievers who were harassing them found in between the lines of these verses do not require any explanation. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 9, 291)
(And in rereality,od is watching everything.) Ie., He is ever watching the storm of persecution the Quraysh have unleashed on the believers and He is also observing the steadfastness of the believers. Hence, not far is the time when He will take revenge and strong revenge from the cruel people for oppressing His innocent people.

اِنَّ الَّذِيۡنَ فَتَـنُوا الۡمُؤۡمِنِيۡنَ وَ الۡمُؤۡمِنٰتِ ثُمَّ لَمۡ يَتُوۡبُوۡا فَلَهُمۡ عَذَابُ جَهَنَّمَ وَلَهُمۡ عَذَابُ الۡحَرِيۡقِؕ‏ 
(10) Indeed, those who have tortured the believing men and believing women and then have not repented will have the punishment of Hell, and they will have the punishment of the Burning Fire.
"Punishment by burning" has been mentioned separately from the torment of Hell because they had burnt the oppressed people to death by casting them into the pits of fire. Probably this will be a different and severer kind of fire from the fire of Hell in which those people will be burnt. 

Yusuf Ali Explanation
The "Chastisement of the Burning Fire" has been mentioned here in addition to the "Penalty of Hell". This assumes a special significance in the background of the cruel burning of the Faithful by the "makers of the pit". These criminals would be duly retributed by being subjected to a similar kind of suffering that they had caused their innocent victims.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
(Those who harassed) The actual word is فَتَنُوْا. In the Qur’ān, this word is used for the oppression and coercion done to a person in order to force him to abandon his faith. The verse mentions women also besides men. They were particularly mentioned because they were being specially oppressed because of their weakness. 

(Believing men and women and then did not repent, for them is the punishment of Hell, and for them is the torment of burning.) Ie., besides other forms of torment, they shall also specially face the torment of fire.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
What happens on earth in this first life is not the end of the story. There remains an inevitable part which will follow later. There remains the allocation of awards, which will restore the balance of justice and provide the final settlement of what took place between the believers and the tyrants.

It earns its specific mention in order to serve as a counterpart to the burning in the pit. Although the same word signifying the action is used, the two types of burning are dissimilar in intensity and duration. The burning here is by fire lit by human beings while the burning in the hereafter is by fire lit by the Creator. In this present world, the burning is over in a few minutes while in the hereafter it goes on for ages unknown except to God. The believers who suffer the burning here earn with it God’s pleasure, and ensure the triumph of that noble human concept referred to earlier. In the hereafter the burning is attended by God’s anger and man’s abject degradation.

اِنَّ الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَعَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰتِ لَهُمۡ جَنّٰتٌ تَجۡرِىۡ مِنۡ تَحۡتِهَا الۡاَنۡهٰرُ ؕ ذٰلِكَ الۡفَوۡزُ الۡكَبِيۡرُؕ
(11) Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds will have gardens beneath which rivers flow. That is the great attainment.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
This is almost certainly the earliest Qur'anic reference to "gardens through which running waters flow" as an allegory of the bliss which awaits the righteous in the hereafter.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:  
Cf. v. 119, ix. 72 and xxii. 19.
Cf. v. 119, n. 833

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
Paradise symbolizes God’s pleasure with righteous believers and His reward to them. The Arabic term, fawz, used here for triumph also connotes escape and success. To escape the punishment of the hereafter is to achieve success. How to describe, then, the reward of gardens with running waters!

With this conclusion justice is restored and the whole question is finally resolved. What has taken place on earth is no more than one part; the matter remains unfinished here. This is the fact emphasized by this initial comment on the pit event, so that it may be fully comprehended by the few believers who have accepted the faith in Makkah, and by every group of believers subjected to trial and tyranny during any period of history.

اِنَّ بَطۡشَ رَبِّكَ لَشَدِيۡدٌ ؕ‏ 
(12) Indeed, the vengeance of your Lord is severe.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
This comment suitably contrasts God’s punishment with the petty and trifling vengeance exacted by tyrants, and thought by them and by people generally to be very powerful. The real power is that levelled by the Almighty, to whom belongs the heavens and the earth, not that levelled by insignificant people who impose their rule over a limited piece of land for a limited period of time.

The statement also emphasizes the relationship between the addressee, namely, God’s Messenger (peace be upon him) and the speaker, who is God Almighty. He says to him, “stern indeed is your Lord’s vengeance.” He is your Lord, in whose Godhead you believe, and on whose assistance you rely. This relationship is very significant in situations where believers are afflicted by tyrants.

اِنَّهٗ هُوَ يُبۡدِئُ وَيُعِيۡدُ​ ۚ‏ 
(13) Indeed, it is He who originates [creation] and repeats.

Yusuf Ali Explanation
For the various words for "Creation" and the ideas implied in them, see ii. 117.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This is a mention of the reason for the reward and punishment mentioned in the previous verses: when God has created human beings, He can also raise them up after death. When creating him the first time posed no difficulty to Him, why would it be difficult to create them a second time?

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
In their wider connotations, origination and restoration refer to the first and second processes of bringing into life. The two terms, however, signify two events which constantly take place. In every moment there is origination as well as restoration of what has died and decayed. The whole universe is in a state of continuous renovation, and constant decay. Within the context of this ever-repeated cycle of origination and re-origination the whole affair of the pit and its apparent results seem to be, in reality, no more than a beginning of what can be created anew, or a re-creation of what has already been originated. It is part of a continuous process.

وَهُوَ الۡغَفُوۡرُ الۡوَدُوۡدُۙ‏ 
(14)  And He is the Forgiving, the Affectionate,

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
“He is All-Forgiving, Compassionate.” (Verse 14) Forgiveness relates to the earlier statement: “and do not repent”. Forgiveness is part of God’s mercy and grace which have no limits or restrictions. It is an open door which is never closed in the face of anyone who repents, no matter how grave his sins are. Compassion, however, relates to the believers’ attitude who choose their Lord in preference to all things. It is a generous touch of divine benevolence. God elevates His servants who love and choose Him to a grade which one would hesitate to describe except for the fact that God, out of His blessing, bestows it. It is the grade of friendship between Lord and servant. It is a tie of love which exists between God and His favoured servants. How insignificant the transitory life they have sacrificed and the momentary affliction they have suffered appear when compared to only a small part of this splendid and tender love. Some of those who live in servitude to another human being take fatal risks in order to win a word of encouragement or receive a sign of pleasure from their master. They do this although both master and servant are God’s slaves. What, then, should be the attitude of God’s servants who receive that compassionate love and benevolence from the “Lord of the Throne, the Glorious”, the All- Powerful, the Sublime. So petty becomes life, so paltry becomes all suffering, and so trifling becomes every treasured object when the pleasure of the loving Lord of the Throne is at stake. 

ذُو الۡعَرۡشِ الۡمَجِيۡدُ ۙ‏ 
(15) Honorable Owner of the Throne,

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Lit., "He of the sublime throne of almightiness (al-'arsh al-majid)". For my rendering of al-'arsh as "the throne of almightiness", see 7:54 and the corresponding note. (Appended below)
The conjunctive particle thumma which precedes this clause does not always denote order in time ("then" or "thereupon"). In cases where it is used to link parallel statements it has often the function of the simple conjunction wa ("and") - as, for instance, in 2:29 ("and has applied His design...", etc.) As regards the term 'arsh (lit., "throne" or "seat of power"), all Muslim commentators, classical and modern, are unanimously of the opinion that its metaphorical use in the Qur'an is meant to express God's absolute sway over all His creation. It is noteworthy that in all the seven instances where God is spoken of in the Qur'an as "established on the throne of His almightiness" 7:54 , 10:3 , 13:2 , 20:5 , 25:59 , 32:4 and 57:4, this expression is connected with a declaration of His having created the universe. - The word yawm, commonly translated as "day" - but rendered above as "aeon" - is used in Arabic to denote any period, whether extremely long ("aeon") or extremely short ("moment"): its application to an earthly "day" of twenty-four hours is only one of its many connotations. (Cf. in this respect note [26] above, where the meaning of sa'ah - lit., "hour" - is explained.)
فَعَّالٌ لِّمَا يُرِيۡدُ ؕ‏ 
(16) Effecter of what He intends.
"He is All-Forgiving": If a person repents and reforms himself, he can hope to be received by Allah in His mercy. "He is All-Loving", i.e. He has no enmity with His creatures that he would subject them torment without any reason, but He loves the creatures He has created and punishes them only when they do not give up the attitude of rebellion against Him. "Owner of the Throne" means that He alone is the Ruler of the Kingdom of the Universe: no one who is a rebel can escape His grip and punishment The mention of His being "Exalted" is meant to warn man for his meanness when he adopts an attitude of arrogance against such a Being. Last of all, "He is Doer of whatever He wills": no one in the entire universe has the power to obstruct and resist what Allah wills to do. 

Yusuf Ali Explanation
Allah's Will is itself the Word and the Deed. There is no interval between them. He does not change His mind. No circumstances whatever can come between His Will and the execution thereof. Such are His Power and His Glory. Compare it with that of men, described in the next two verses.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Ie., neither does He need anyone nor can anyone stop Him from doing what He intends.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
This is His constantly realized, never failing attribute. His will is absolute. He may choose, on a certain occasion, that believers should, by His grace, win victory for a specific purpose He wants to accomplish. He may choose, on other occasions, that faith should triumph over persecution and trial. This may be manifested, at times, through the physical elimination of believers from this transitory life, again to accomplish a specific purpose. He may decide to smite tyrants in this life, or to delay their punishment to the promised day. Either course of action fulfils a certain purpose behind which divine wisdom lies. Any action He performs is part of His well-defined scheme and His ability to do what He wills. All this fits very well with the account of the pit and with what comes later of reference to the fates of Pharaoh and Thamud and their respective hosts. Beyond all these events and beyond life and the universe there exist the free will and absolute power of God.

هَلۡ اَتٰٮكَ حَدِيۡثُ الۡجُـنُوۡدِۙ‏ 
(17)  Has there reached you the story of the soldiers -

Yusuf Ali Explanation: In contrast to the real, all-embracing, and eternal power of Allah, what are the forces of man at their best? Two examples are mentioned. (1) Pharaoh was a proud monarch of a powerful kingdom, with resources and organisation, material, moral, and intellectual, as good as any in the world. When he pitted himself against Allah's Prophet, he and his forces were destroyed. See lxxix. 15-26. (2) The Thamud were great builders, and had a high standard of material civilization. But they defied the law of Allah and perished. See vii. 73-79 and explanation.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
Examples of this are given: “Have you heard the story of the hosts, of Pharaoh and Thamud?” (Verses 17-18) This is a reference to two long stories well known to the addressees as they have been mentioned several times in the Qur’an. The two nations concerned are described here by the term “the hosts” in reference to their might and equipment. Have you heard their stories and how God did with them as He pleased? Theirs were two stories, different in nature and consequence. Pharaoh and his army were eliminated when the Children of Israel were saved by God. He gave them power to rule for a certain period in order to accomplish a certain scheme. As for the Thamud, God exterminated them and saved His prophet, Salih, along with his few followers. The believers in this instance did not establish a state of their own; they were merely saved from corrupt enemies.
Both stories are manifestations of the divine will and its performance. They provide two examples of what may befall advocates of the Islamic faith. They are mentioned along with a third possibility which distinguishes the pit event. The Qur’an explains all three eventualities to the believers in Makkah and to all generations of believers.

فِرۡعَوۡنَ وَثَمُوۡدَؕ‏ 
(18) [Those of] Pharaoh and Thamud?
The address is directed to the people who in their false pride of having powerful hosts, are breaking the law of God on His earth. They are being warned. as if to say: "Do you know what evil fate was stet before by those who broke the hounds set by Allah on the strength of the power of their hosts”

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Sc., "both of which were destroyed because of their sins". The story of Pharaoh and his forces, and their destruction by drowning, is referred to many times in the Qur'an; for the story of the Thamud see, in particular, 7:73 ff. and the corresponding notes [56-62].

بَلِ الَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡا فِىۡ تَكۡذِيۡبٍۙ‏ 
(19)  But they who disbelieve are in [persistent] denial,

Yusuf Ali Explanation:  
In spite of the great examples of the past, by which human might and skill were shown to have availed nothing when the law of Allah was broken, the unbelievers persist (in all ages) in defying that law. But Allah will know how to deal with them.

Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
The surah concludes with two statements characterized by their sharp and decisive rhythm. Each is a statement of fact and a final verdict. “Yet the unbelievers persist in their denial [of the truth]. But God surrounds them all.” (Verses 19-20) The truth about the unbelievers is that they are in a constant state of disbelief, crying “lies” morning and evening “But God surrounds them all.” They are unaware that God’s might and His knowledge engulf them, making them even more powerless than mice stranded in a great flood.
“This is indeed a glorious Qur’an, inscribed on an imperishable tablet.” (Verses 21-22) The term ‘glorious’ signifies nobility and sublimity. Indeed, there is nothing more noble or more sublime or more glorious than God’s word. It is inscribed on an imperishable tablet, the nature of which we cannot comprehend because it is part of the knowledge God has reserved for Himself. We benefit, however, from the connotations of the statement and the impression it leaves that the Qur’an is well preserved and well-guarded. It is the final word in every matter it deals with. The Qur’an states its judgement in the pit event and what lies behind it. This judgement is final 

وَّاللّٰهُ مِنۡ وَّرَآئِهِمۡ مُّحِيۡطٌۚ‏ 
(20) While Allah encompasses them from behind.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Lit., "from behind them", an idiomatic phrase denoting a happening imperceptible to those whom it closely concerns.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Allah encompasses everything. But the wicked will find themselves defeated not only in conditions that they foresee, but from all sorts of unexpected directions, perhaps from behind them, i.e., from the very people or circumstances which in their blindness they despised or thought of as helping them.

بَلۡ هُوَ قُرۡاٰنٌ مَّجِيۡدٌ ۙ‏ 
(21)   But this is an honored Qur'an

فِىۡ لَوۡحٍ مَّحۡفُوۡظٍ‏ 
(22) [Inscribed] in a Preserved Slate.
That is, "The writ of the Qur'an is unchangeable and imperishable. It is inscribed in the Preserved Tablet of God. which cannot be corrupt in any way Whatever is written in it, has to be fulfilled: even the whole world together cannot avert its fulfillment.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Lit., "upon a well-guarded tablet (lawh mahfuz)" - a description of the Qur'an to be found only in this one instance. Although some commentators take it in its literal sense and understand by it an actual "heavenly tablet" upon which the Qur'an is inscribed since all eternity, to many others the phrase has always had a metaphorical meaning: namely, an allusion to the imperishable quality of this divine writ. This interpretation is pointedly mentioned as justified by, e.g., Tabari, Baghawi, Razi or Ibn Kathir, all of whom agree that the phrase "upon a well-guarded tablet" relates to God's promise that the Qur'an would never be corrupted, and would remain free of all arbitrary additions, diminutions and textual changes. See in this connection also 15:9 and the corresponding note [10].

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
"Inscribed in a Tablet Preserved", i.e. Allah's Message is not ephemeral. It is eternal. The "Tablet" is "preserved" or guarded from corruption: xv. 9: for Allah's Message must endure forever. That Message is the "Mother of the book": iii. 7.

You may now like to listen to explanation of the Sürah by eminent Muslim scholar 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 plain translation and explanation have 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):  
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Tafsir Nouman Ali Khan
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
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 |

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