Showing posts with label The Cloaked One. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Cloaked One. Show all posts

Monday 4 January 2021

Sūrah Al-Muddaththir - The Cloaked One: Exegesis 74th Chapter of Quran

Sūrah Al-Muddaththir " ٱلْمُدَّثِّر‎ " - "the Cloaked One" or "the Man Wearing a Cloak" is the 74th chapter of the Qur'an, with 56 verses (āyāt) and two ruku, part of the 29th Juz'. The Surah takes its name from the word al- Muddaththir in the first verse. This also is only a name, not a title of its subject matter. The Sūrah is chiefly addressed to the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam but through this Surah we also learn the characteristics that a da’ee (the one calling others to Islam - the inviter) must possess.

Its subject-matter is also similar to the last surah, i.e.: Prayer and Praise, and the need of patience in a period of great spiritual stress: the unjust who cause sorrow and suffering now will themselves experience agony in the Hereafter.

The first seven verses of this Surah belong to the earliest period at Makkah. Even according to some traditions which have been related in Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Musnad Ahmad, etc., on the authority of Hadrat Jabir bin Abdullah, these are the very earliest verses of the Qur'an to be revealed to the Holy Prophet (upon whoa be peace). But the Muslim Ummah almost unanimously agreed that the earliest Revelation to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) consisted of the first five verses of Surah Al-Alaq(XCVI) However, what is established by authentic traditions is that after this first Revelation, no Revelation came down to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) for quite some time. Then, when it was resumed, it started with theme verses of Surah Al- Muddaththir. Imam Zuhri has given the following details of it:
"Revelation to the Holy Prophet remained suspended for quite some time, and it was such a period of deep grief and distress for him that he started going early to the tops of the mountains to throw himself down from them. But whenever he stood on the edge of a peak, the Angel Gabriel would appear and tell him that he was Allah's Prophet. This would console him and restore to him full peace of mind." (Ibn Jarir).
After this Imam Zuhri relates the following tradition on the authority of Hadrat Jabir bin Abdullah:
"The Ho]y Messenger of Allah describing the period of falrat al-wahi (break in revelation) said: One day when I was passing on the way, I suddenly heard a call from heaven. I raised my head and saw that the same Angel who had visited me in the Cave of Hira was sitting on a throne between heaven and earth. This struck terror in my heart, and reaching home quickly, I said: 'Cover me up, cover me up'. So the people of the house covered me up with a quilt (or blanket). At that time Allah sent down the Revelation: Ya ayyuhal-Muddaththiru... From then on revelation became intense and continuous." (Bukhari, Muslim Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Jarir).
The rest of the Surah (vv. 8-56) was revealed when the first Hajj season came after public preaching of Islam had begun in Makkah. This has been fully well described in the Surah by Ibn Hisham and we shall cite it below.

The Sūrah is divided into two ruku as under:
  • Ruku One [Verses 1-31]: In this Ruku, verses 1-7 contain  Instructions to the Prophet for cleanliness and patience and verses 8-31 dwell on The day of judgement will be very difficult especially for those who deny Allah's revelations and oppose His cause
  • Ruku Two [Verses 32-56]: The Ruku Two is about Actions which lead to hellfire are, Not to offer Salah, not to feed the poor, waste time in vain talk and to deny the day of judgement.
We have already presented the overview / summary of the sürah. Let us now read the verse by verse translation and exegesis / tafseer in English. You may also listen to its tafsir at the end of the post:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"
Ruku One [Verses 1-31]:
Verses 1-7 contain  Instructions to the Prophet for cleanliness and patience:

يٰۤاَيُّهَا الۡمُدَّثِّرُۙ‏ 
( 1 )   O you who covers himself [with a garment],
A study of the background of the revelation of these verses given in the introduction above can help one understand why the Prophet (peace be upon him) on this occasion has been addressed with Ya ayyuhal-Muddaththiru instead of Ya ayyuhar-Rasulu (O Messenger), or Ya ayyuhan-Nabiyyu (O Prophet). As the Prophet (peace be upon him) had been terrified when he had suddenly seen the Angel Gabriel, sitting on a throne between heaven and earth, and had returned hastily home and asked the people of the house to cover him up, so Allah addressed him with Ya ayyuhal-Muddaththiru. From this fine way of address the meaning which automatically follows is: O My dear servant, why have you lain down thus enwrapped? You have been put under the burden of a great mission: you must now arise from your solitude to perform this mission with resolution and courage.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: The First Ayat to be revealed after `Read! - 
It has been confirmed in the Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim on the authority of Abu Salamah that Jabir bin `Abdullah informed him that he heard the Messenger of Allah speaking about the time period (of the pause in) revelation. The Prophet said:
(While I was walking I heard a voice from the sky. So I lifted my gaze towards the sky and saw the same angel who had come to me at the cave of Hira'. He was sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth. So I fled from him (in fear) until I fell down to the ground. Then, I went to my family and I said, `Wrap me up, wrap me up. So, they wrapped me up! So Allah revealed, (O you wrapped up! Arise and warn!) until (And keep away) ﴿Here, Abu Salamah added, `Ar-Rujz means idols.'﴾ (After this, the revelation started coming strongly and frequently in succession.) 
This is the wording of Al-Bukhari. The way this Hadith is narrated necessitates that revelation had descended before this. This is due to the Prophet's statement: "(The same angel who had come to me at the cave of Hira'.)'' 

That angel was Jibril, who had came to him with Allah's statement: (Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created. He has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not.) (96:1-5) After this first occurrence (in the cave) there was a period of time that passed, then the angel descended again. 

Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Salamah bin `Abdur-Rahman that Jabir bin `Abdullah informed him that he heard the Messenger of Allah saying:
(Then the revelation ceased coming to me for a period of time. Then, while I was walking, I heard a voice from the sky. So I lifted my gaze towards the sky to see the same angel who had come to me, sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth. So I fled from him a short distance before I fell down to the ground. Then I came to my family and said to them, `Wrap me up, wrap me up! So, they wrapped me up! Then Allah revealed, (O you wrapped up! Arise and warn! And magnify your Lord. And purify your garments. And keep away from Ar-Rujz!)( After this, the revelation started coming strongly and frequently in succession.) They both (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) recorded this Hadith by way of Az-Zuhri. At-Tabarani recorded from Ibn `Abbas that he said, "Verily, Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah prepared some food for the Quraysh. So when they had eaten from it he said, `What do you have to say about this man' Some of them said, `He is a magician.' Others said, `He is not a magician.' Then some of them said, `He is a soothsayer.' But others said, `He is not a soothsayer.' Some of them said, `He is a poet.' But others said, `He is not a poet.' Some of them said, `This is magic from that of old.' Thus, they eventually all agreed that it was magic from ancient times. Then, when this news reached the Prophet , he became grieved, covered his head and wrapped himself up. 
This is when Allah revealed: (Verses 1-7: O you enveloped in garments! Arise and warn! And magnify your Lord (Allah)! And purify your garments! And keep away from Ar-Rujz (the idols)! And give not a thing in order to have more (or consider not your deeds of obedience to Allah as a favour to Him). And be patient for the sake of your Lord (i.e., perform your duty to Allah)!)

Yusuf Ali Explanation: In these wonderful early verses there is a double thread of thought: (1) A particular occasion or person is referred to; (2) a general spiritual lesson is taught. As to (1), the Prophet ﷺ was now past the stage of personal contemplation, lying down or sitting in his mantle; he was now to go forth boldly to deliver his Message and publicly proclaim the Lord: his heart had always been purified, but now all his outward doings must be dedicated to Allah, and conventional respect for ancestral customs or worship must be thrown aside; his work as a Messenger was the most generous gift that could flow from his personality, but no reward or appreciation was to be expected from his people, but quite the contrary; there would be much call on his patience, but his contentment would arise from the good pleasure of Allah. As to (2), similar stages arise in a minor degree in the life of every good man, for which the Prophet's life is to be a universal pattern.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: The expression muddaththir (an abbreviated form of mutadaththir) signifies "one who is covered [with something]" or "enfolded [in something]"; and all philologists point out that the verb dathara, from which the above participial noun is derived, may equally well have a concrete or abstract connotation. Most of the commentators understand the phrase "O thou enfolded one" in its literal, concrete sense, and assume that it refers to the Prophet's habit of covering himself with a cloak or blanket when he felt that a revelation was about to begin. Razi, however, notes that this apostrophe may well have been used metaphorically, as an allusion to Muhammad's intense desire for solitude before the beginning of his prophetic mission (cf. introductory note to surah {96}: and this, according to Razi, would explain his being thus addressed in connection with the subsequent call, "Arise and warn" - i.e., "Give now up thy solitude, and stand up before all the world as a preacher and warner."

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: This is a portrayal of the same state of the Prophet (sws) referred to earlier in Surah al-Muzzammil. The words مُدَّثِّر and مُزَّمِّل are synonymous. The latter is from دِثَار and refers to a shawl a person uses to cover himself while sleeping.

قُمۡ فَاَنۡذِرۡ‏ 
( 2 )   Arise and warn
A command of this very nature had been given to the prophet Noah (peace be upon him) while appointing him to the office of Prophethood: Warn the people of your nation before they are overtaken by a painful torment. [(Surah Nooh, Ayat 1) We sent Noah to his people (and directed him): “Warn your people before a grievous chastisement1 comes upon them.”] The verse means: O you who lays enwrapped, stand up and arouse the people who live in heedlessness around you. Warn them of the fate which would certainly overtake them if they remained involved in the same heedlessness. Warn them that they are not living in a lawless kingdom where they are free to conduct themselves as they like and where they can do wherever they please without any fear or being called to account for it.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (Arise and warn!) means, prepare to go forth with zeal and warn the people. With this the Prophet attained messeng-ership just as he attained prophethood with the first revelation.

وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرۡ 
( 3 )   and magnify the glory of your Lord,
This is the primary duty of a Prophet (peace be upon him), which he has to perform in this world. His foremost duty is to refute the greatness of all those whom the ignorant people might be holding as great, and publicly proclaim that the greatness in this universe belongs to none but Allah alone. For this very reason the phrase Allahu Akbar has been held as of supreme importance in Islam. The adhan (call to prayer) begins with the proclamation of Allahu Akbar. The Muslim enters the Prayer itself with Allahu Akbar and repeats Allahu Akbar every time he sits or stands, He also pronounces Bismillahi Allahu Akbar when slaughtering an animal. The slogan of Allahu Akbar has become a most distinctive and prominent emblem of Muslims throughout the world today, for the Prophet (peace be upon him) of this ummah himself had embarked on his mission with the magnification and glorification of Almighty Allah.

Here, there is another fine point, which must be understood well. As we have learned from the background of the revelation of these verses, this was the first occasion when the Prophet (peace be upon him) had been commanded to arise for performing the duties of the great mission of Prophethood, and it was obvious that the city and society in which he was commanded to perform this mission, was the centre of polytheism. Not only were the people around him polytheistic like the common Arabs but, more than that, the city of Makkah had become the most sacred place of pilgrimage for the polytheistic Arabs, and the Quraish were its attendants. Arising of a person in such a place all by himself and proclaiming the Oneness of God in the face of polytheism was full of risks. That is why the exhortation to proclaim the greatness of your Lord just after arise and warn contains this meaning also: Do not at all mind the terrifying and dreadful forces that seem to be obstructing and impeding your work and proclaim publicly that your Lord is the greatest of all those who can hinder and resist you from giving your message. This is indeed the greatest encouragement for a person who embarks on a divine mission. The one who has Allah’s greatness and majesty deeply embedded in his heart will feel no hesitation at all in facing and fighting the entire world by himself for the sake of Allah.

وَثِيَابَكَ فَطَهِّرۡ
( 4 )   And your clothing purify
These are very comprehensive words, which are full of meaning.

They mean this: Keep your garments free from every filth and impurity, for the purity of the body and garments and the purity of the spirit are inter-linked and inter-dependent. A pure spirit and an impure body with impure garments cannot live together. The society in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) had arisen with the invitation to Islam, was not only steeped in the evils of unbelief and immorality, but was also devoid of even the most elementary concepts of purity and cleanliness, and the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) task was to teach its members cleanliness in every way of life. Therefore he was instructed to establish and present a high standard of purity in his external life as well. Thus, it is the result of the same instruction that the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave mankind such detailed teaching about the cleanliness of the body and garments as is not possessed even by the most civilized nations of today, not to speak of the Arabs of the pre-Islamic days of ignorance. So much so that in most of the languages of the world there is no word synonymous with taharat. On the contrary, in Islam every book of the Hadith and Fiqh begins with injunctions and instructions on taharat (purity), which distinguishes between purity and impurity and gives minute details about the methods and means of obtaining purity.

The second meaning of these words is: Keep your garments neat and clean. The criterion of religiosity given to the world by the monastic concepts was that a man was holy to the extent he was unclean. If a person happened to put on neat clothes, he was looked upon as a worldly man, whereas the fact is that human nature abhors filth and uncleanness and even a person of ordinary fine taste loves to be associated only with a neat and clean person. On this very basis, for the one calling the people to Allah it was made imperative that externally he should also look so neat and clean that the people should regard him with esteem and his personality should not be stained in any way so as to repel others.

The third meaning of this divine command is: Keep your garments free from moral evils: your dress should be neat and clean but it should bear no tinge of vanity and pride, display and exhibition, pomp and show. The dress is the first thing that introduces the personality of a person to others. The kind of dress a person wears makes the people judge at first sight what kind of a man he is. The dresses of the rulers and princes, the dresses of the religious functionaries, the dresses of the vain and conceited people, the dresses of the mean and shallow people, the dresses of the evil-natured and characterless people, all represent the tastes and tempers of those who wear them. The temper of the one calling to Allah is naturally different from all such people. Therefore, his dress should also necessarily be different from all of them. He should wear such a dress as should make everyone else feel that he is a noble and refined person, who is not involved in any evil of the self.

Its fourth meaning is: Keep away from moral evils. Ibn Abbas, Ibrahim Nakhai, Shabi, Ata, Mujahid. Qatadah, Saeed bin Jubair, Hasan Basri and other major commentators have given this very meaning to this verse: keep yourself morally pure and avoid all that is blameworthy. Also in Arabic usage when it is said: So and so is clean in his garments, it implies that he is morally good and pure; on the contrary, when it is said: He is filthy in his garments, it means that he is dishonest and fraudulent in his dealings: he is unreliable.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: "This means, do not let your garments that you wear be from earnings that are unlawful.'' It has also been said, "Do not wear your clothes in disobedience.'' 

Muhammad bin Sirin said, (And purify your garments!) "This means clean them with water.'' Ibn Zayd said, "The idolators would not clean themselves, so Allah commanded him to clean himself and his garments.'' This view was preferred by Ibn Jarir. Sa`id bin Jubayr said, (And purify your garments!) "This means purify your heart and your intentions.'' Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi and Al-Hasan Al-Basri both said, "And beautify your character.''

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Possibly, in its immediate application, there is a reference to the dirt and filth which the Pagans used to throw at the Prophet to insult and persecute him.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Lit., "thy garments (thiyab) purify": but almost all the classical commentators point out that the noun thawb and its plural thiyab is often metonymically applied to that which a garment encloses, i.e., a person's "body" or, in a wider sense, his "self" or his "heart", or even his "spiritual state" or "conduct" (Taj al-'Arus). Thus, commenting on the above verse, Zamakhshari draws the reader's attention to the well-known idiomatic phrases tahir ath-thiyab (lit., "one who is clean in his garments") and danis ath-thiyab ("one who is filthy in his garments"), and stresses their tropical significance of "free from faults and vices" and "vicious and perfidious", respectively. Razi states with approval that "according to most of the [earlier] commentators, the meaning [of this verse] is, 'purify thy heart of all that is blameworthy'".

وَالرُّجۡزَ فَاهۡجُرۡ
( 5 )   And shun uncleanliness
Un-cleanliness implies every kind of filth, whether of belief and thought, of morals and deeds, of the body, dress or mode of life. The verse means: Keep yourself free from the filth of evils which are prevalent in society around you: no one should ever impute to you the blame that your own life itself is stained in some degree with the evils that you tell others to avoid.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn `Abbas, "Ar-Rujz are idols, so keep away from them.'' Similar to this was said by Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Qatadah, Az-Zuhri and Ibn Zayd, "Verily, it is the idols.'' 

This is like Allah's statement, (O Prophet! have Taqwa of Allah, and obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites.) (33:1) and Allah's statement, (And Musa said to his brother Harun: "Replace me among my people, act well and follow not way of the corrupters.'') (7:142) 

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Rujz or Rijz: abomination: usually understood to refer to idolatry. It is even possible that there was an idol called Rujz. But it has a wider signification, as including a mental state opposed to true worship, a state of doubt or indecision.

وَلَا تَمۡنُنۡ تَسۡتَكۡثِرُ
( 6 )   And do not confer favor to acquire more
The words wala tamnun tastakthir in the original are so vast in meaning that no one sentence can convey their full sense in translation.

Their one meaning is: Whomever you favor, you should favor him without any selfish motive. Your bestowal of an endowment and donation, your generosity and good treatment should be only for the sake of Allah: there should be no trace in it of the desire that you should receive any worldly gains in return for the favor done. In other words, do good to others for the sake of Allah, not for seeking any benefits.

The second meaning is: Although the mission of Prophethood that you are performing is a great favor in itself, for the people are obtaining true guidance because of it, do not remind the people of this favor, nor try to obtain any personal benefits from it.

The third meaning is: Although you are performing a great service, you should never gloat over it, nor should ever have the idea that by performing your prophetic duties, at the risk of life, you are doing any favor to your Lord.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:  Ibn `Abbas said, "Do not give any gift seeking to get (back in return) more than it.'' Khusayf reported from Mujahid; (And give not a thing (Tamnun) in order to have more.) "Do not slacken in seeking more good. Tamnun in the language of the Arabs means to become weak.''

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The legal and commercial formula is that you give in order to receive. And usually you expect to receive what is worth to you a little more than you give. The spiritual consideration is that you give, but expect nothing from the receiver. You serve Allah and Allah's creatures.

وَ لِرَبِّكَ فَاصۡبِرۡؕ‏ 
( 7 )   But for your Lord be patient.
That is, the task that is being entrusted to you is full of hazards: you will meet with great hardships and difficulties and troubles on this way: even your own people will turn hostile against you and the whole of Arabia will become your enemy. Yet you should endure with patience, for the sake of your Lord, whatever you may have to face in this way, and carry out all your duties firmly and resolutely. Fear, greed, friendship, enmity, love, all these will hinder your way, but you should stand your ground firmly and steadfastly.

These were the very preliminary instructions which Allah gave His Messenger (peace be upon him) at the time when He commanded him to arise and start the work of Prophethood. If a person ponders over these brief sentences and their meaning his heart will testify that no better instructions could be given to a Prophet at the commencement of his prophetic mission. In these he was told what he was required to do, what kind of life, morals and dealings he should adopt, and taught with what intention, mentality and mode of thought he should go about his mission and also forewarned what kind of conditions he would meet with in the performance of his mission and how he would have to face and overcome them. Today the people who, blinded by their prejudices, say that these words were, God forbid, uttered by the Prophet (peace be upon him) during epileptic fits, should study these sentences carefully and judge for themselves whether these are the product of any epileptic fits, or the instructions of a God, which He gave to His servant while appointing him to the mission of Apostleship.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Make your patience with their harms be for the Face of your Lord, the Mighty and Majestic. This was stated by Mujahid. Ibrahim An-Nakha`i said, "Be patient in your giving for the sake of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic.''

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Our zeal for Allah's Cause itself requires that we should not be impatient, and that we should show constancy in our efforts for His Cause. For we have faith, and we know that He is All-Good, All-Wise, and All-Powerful, and everything will ultimately be right.

In verses 8-10 the deniers of Truth have been warned, saying: "You will see the evil result of what you are doing today on the Resurrection Day."

فَاِذَا نُقِرَ فِى النَّاقُوۡرِۙ‏ 
( 8 )   And when the trumpet is blown,

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (Then, when the Trumpet is sounded.) (Naqur) "It is the Trumpet.'' Mujahid said, "It is in the shape of a horn.''

The Messenger of Allah said, (How can I be comfortable when the one with the horn has placed it in his mouth, leaned his forehead forward, and is waiting to be commanded so that he can blow) The Companions of the Messenger of Allah said, "What do you command us, O Messenger of Allah'' 

He replied, (Say: "Allah is sufficient for us, and what an excellent Trustee He is. We put our trust in Allah.'') It has been recorded like this by Imam Ahmad on the authority of Asbat.

فَذٰلِكَ يَوۡمَـئِذٍ يَّوۡمٌ عَسِيۡرٌۙ‏ 
( 9 )   That Day will be a difficult day
As already explained in the introduction, this part of the Surah was sent down a few months after the initial verses when at the beginning of the first ever Hajj season, after the advent of Islam, the Quraish chiefs decided in a conference to start a powerful propaganda campaign to dissuade the outsiders, who came to visit the Kabah, from the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In these verses, this very scheming of the Quraish has been reviewed, and the review has begun with the words, as if to say: You may act as you please, but even if you succeed in achieving your object by these devices in the world, how will you save yourselves from your evil end on the Day when the Trumpet will be sounded and Resurrection will be established. (For explanation of the Trumpet, see (verse 73 of Surah 6. Al-Anaam); (verse 48 of Surah 14. Ibrahim); (verse 102 of Surah 20. Ta Ha); (verse 1 of Surah 22. Al-Hajj); (verse 51 of Surah 36. YaSin), (verse 68 of Surah 39. Az-Zumar); (verse 41 of Surah 50. Qaf).

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The Sinner's course is now shown in contrast to the Seeker's. The Sinner may be self-complacent now: but what will be his position when the Reckoning comes? Not easy, indeed a Day of Distress!

عَلَى الۡكٰفِرِيۡنَ غَيۡرُ يَسِيۡرٍ‏ 
( 10 )   not an easy day for the unbelievers.
These words by themselves support the conclusion that that Day will be light for the believers, and its hardships will be specially intended only for the deniers of the truth. Moreover, these words also contain the meaning that the severity of that Day will be of an enduring and permanent nature for disbelievers, it will not be a severity which might be expected to become mild with the passage of time.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, it will not be easy for them. This is as Allah says, (The disbelievers will say: "This a Hard Day.'') (54:8) We have reported from Zurarah bin Awfa, the judge of Al-Basrah, that he lead the people in the morning prayer and he recited this Surah. 

Then, when he reached Allah's statement, (Then, when the Naqur is sounded. Truly, that Day will be a Hard Day -- far from easy for the disbelievers.) he made a moaning sound and then he fell down dead. May Allah have mercy on him.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Since this is the earliest Qur'anic occurrence of the expression kafir (the above surah having been preceded only by the first five verses of surah {96}, its use here - and, by implication, in the whole of the Qur'an - is obviously determined by the meaning which it had in the speech of the Arabs before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad: in other words, the term kafir cannot be simply equated, as many Muslim theologians of post-classical times and practically all Western translators of the Qur'an have done, with "unbeliever" or "infidel" in the specific, restricted sense of one who rejects the system of doctrine and law promulgated in the Qur'an and amplified by the teachings of the Prophet - but must have a wider, more general meaning. This meaning is easily grasped when we bear in mind that the root verb of the participial noun kafir (and of the infinitive noun kufr) is kafara, "he [or "it"] covered [a thing]": thus, in 57:20 the tiller of the soil is called (without any pejorative implication) kafir, "one who covers", i.e., the sown seed with earth, just as the night is spoken of as having "covered" (kafara) the earth with darkness. In their abstract sense, both the verb and the nouns derived from it have a connotation of "concealing" something that exists or "denying" something that is true. Hence, in the usage of the Qur'an - with the exception of the one instance (in 57:20) where this participial noun signifies a "tiller of the soil" - a kafir is "one who denies [or "refuses to acknowledge"] the truth" in the widest, spiritual sense of this latter term: that is, irrespective of whether it relates to a cognition of the supreme truth - namely, the existence of God - or to a doctrine or ordinance enunciated in the divine writ, or to a self-evident moral proposition, or to an acknowledgment of, and therefore gratitude for, favours received. (Regarding the expression alladhinakafaru, implying conscious intent, see surah (2: 6)

In Verses 11-26, without naming Walid bin al-Mughirah, it has been told how Allah had blessed him and how inimical he proved to be to true Faith. In this connection, his mental conflict has been portrayed, telling that, on the one hand, he was fully convinced of the truth of Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) and the Qur'an, but, on the other, he did not want to risk his leadership and position among his people. Therefore, not only he did not believe himself but after a long-drawn-out conflict with his conscience he also came out with the proposal that in order to restrain the people from believing the Qur'an should be branded as magic. After exposing his evil nature, it has been said: "Notwithstanding such evil inclinations and misdeeds, this person desires that he should be further blessed, whereas he has now become worthy of Hell, and never of further blessings."

ذَرۡنِىۡ وَمَنۡ خَلَقۡتُ وَحِيۡدًا ۙ‏ 
( 11 )   Leave Me with the one I created alone
The address is directed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and it means: O Prophet, leave the case of the person (Walid bin al-Mughirah) to Me, who in the disbelievers’ conference proposed that you should be branded as a sorcerer among the pilgrims coming from different parts of Arabia; it is now for Me to deal with him; you need not bother yourself about it at all.

This sentence can have two meanings and both are correct: (1) That when I created him, he was not at that time born with any wealth and children and position of authority and chieftainship. (2) That I alone was his Creator: those other gods whose godhead he is so ardently trying to keep established and is opposing your invitation to One God for the same object, were not My associates in creating him.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The question of Justice and Punishment to men is for Allah alone. For man at his best can see only one side of truth, and only Allah is All-Knowing. He alone can judge the limits of Justice and Mercy. Man's adventitious advantages-wealth, power, position, talents-are not due to his own merits. They are gifts from Allah, Who created him. In himself he came bare and alone.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Or: "...whom I alone have created". The above sentence can be understood in either of these two senses, depending on whether one relates the expression "alone" (wahid) to God - thus stressing His uniqueness as Creator - or to this particular object of His creation, man, who begins and ends his life in a state of utter loneliness (cf. 6:94 and 19:80 and {95}). In either case, our attention is drawn to the fact of man's inescapable dependence on God. Beyond that, the phrase in question carries a further meaning, namely, "Leave it to Me alone to decide what to do with him who forgets that I am his Creator and Sustainer" - thus forbidding any human punishment of "those who deny the truth".

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Allah threatens this wicked person whom He has favored with the blessings of this world, yet he is ungrateful for the blessings of Allah and he meets them with disbelief (in Allah) and rejection of His Ayat. He invents lies against Allah's Ayat and claims that they are the words of a man. Allah recounts to him His favors upon him when He says,

(Leave Me alone (to deal) with whom I created lonely.) meaning, he came out of the womb of his mother alone, without any wealth or children. Then, Allah provided him with:

وَّجَعَلۡتُ لَهٗ مَالًا مَّمۡدُوۡدًا ۙ‏ 
( 12 )   And to whom I granted extensive wealth
وَّبَنِيۡنَ شُهُوۡدًا ۙ‏ 
( 13 )   And children present [with him]
Walid bin al-Mughirah had ten or twelve sons of whom Khalid bin Walid became most famous. For these sons the word shuhud has been used, which can have several meanings:

(1) That they do not have to run about and go abroad in search of their livelihood: they have enough provisions at home; therefore, they can always remain at the beck and call of their father.

(2) That all his sons are prominent and influential people: they sit in assemblies and conferences with him.

(3) That they are the people of high rank and position and their testimony is accepted in all matters of life.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Mujahid said, "They are not absent.'' This means that they are present with him. They do not travel for business and trade. Rather, their servants and hired workers handle all of that for them while they are sitting with their father. He enjoys their company and delights in being with them.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The great ones of the earth may have wealth, a large following, sons by their side to defend them and do their bidding and man-power to help them in their battles. Life may be smooth and agreeable to them. But their responsibility is to Allah.

وَّمَهَّدتُّ لَهٗ تَمۡهِيۡدًا 
( 14 )   And spread [everything] before him, easing [his life].

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, `I made possible for him to amass wealth, luxuries and other than that.'

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Lit., "for whom I have spread [all] out in a [wide] spread" - i.e., "whom I have endowed with potentialities far beyond those open to other living beings".

ثُمَّ يَطۡمَعُ اَنۡ اَزِيۡدَ  ۙ‏ 
( 15 )   Then he desires that I should add more.
Its one meaning is that there is still no end to his greed. In spite of having all this he still desires that he should be granted every good thing of the world. Another meaning which Hasan Basri, and some other scholars have given is: He used to say: If what Muhammad (peace be upon him) says is really true that there is another life after death, and there will be a Paradise also in it, then that Paradise too has been prepared for me.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The Sinner takes Allah's gifts as if they were his right. The more he gets, the more is he greedy. Yet to Allah's Signs and revelations he is willfully deaf or even openly rebellious. But he is only preparing the way for his own undoing.

كَلَّا ؕ اِنَّهٗ كَانَ لِاٰيٰتِنَا عَنِيۡدًا ؕ‏ 
( 16 )   No! Indeed, he has been toward Our verses obstinate.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Lit., "he is wont (kana) to set himself". The noun 'anid, derived from the verb 'anada, denotes "one who opposes or rejects something that is true, knowing it to be true" (Lisan al-'Arab). The element of human contrariness and stubbornness is implied in the use of the auxiliary verb kana, which indicates here a permanently recurring phenomenon despite its past-tense formulation. I am, therefore, of the opinion that verses {18-25}, although ostensibly formulated in the past tense, must also be rendered in the present tense.

سَاُرۡهِقُهٗ صَعُوۡدًا ؕ‏ 
( 17 )   I will cover him with arduous torment.
"A mount of calamities" or disasters: may be understood as a phrase for cumulative disasters.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Qatadah reported from Ibn `Abbas that he said, "Sa`ud  صَعُوۡدًا is a rock in Hell that the disbeliever will be dragged across on his face.'' As-Suddi said, "Sa`ud is a slippery rock in Hell that he will be forced to climb.'' Mujahid said, "This is a harsh portion of the torment.'' Qatadah said, "It is a torment that contains no relaxation (break for relief).''

Muhammad Asad Explanation: In combination with the verb urhiquhu ("I shall constrain him to endure") the term sa'ud (lit., "ascent" or "climb") has the tropical connotation of something extremely difficult, painful or distressing. In the above context, it is an allusion to the loss of all instinctive innocence - and, hence, to the individual and social suffering - which unavoidably follows upon man's wilful neglect of moral and spiritual truths ("God's messages") in this world and bars his spiritual development in the life to come.

اِنَّهٗ فَكَّرَ وَقَدَّرَۙ‏ 
( 18 )   Indeed, he thought and deliberated.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, `We only caused him to face the grievous torment of Sa`ud, that is Our bringing him close to the harsh torment, because he was far away from faith.' This was because he thought and plotted, meaning he contemplated what he should say about the Qur'an when he was asked about it. So he deliberated over what statement he should invent against it.

فَقُتِلَ كَيۡفَ قَدَّرَۙ‏ 
( 19 )   So may he be destroyed [for] how he deliberated.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: The expression qutila reads, literally, "he has been killed" or, as an imprecation, "may he be killed". Since a literal rendering of this expression - whether conceived as a statement of fact or an imprecation - would be meaningless here, many commentators (Tabari among them) understand it as signifying "he is rejected from Gods grace" (lu'ina) i.e., "killed" spiritually by his own action or attitude; hence my rendering, "he destroys himself".

ثُمَّ قُتِلَ كَيۡفَ قَدَّرَۙ‏ 
( 20 )   Then may he be destroyed [for] how he deliberated.
This is a supplication against him.

ثُمَّ نَظَرَۙ‏ 
( 21 )   Then he considered [again];
meaning, he thought again and deliberated.

ثُمَّ عَبَسَ وَبَسَرَۙ‏ 
( 22 )   Then he frowned and scowled;
Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (Then he frowned) meaning, he contracted his eyebrows together and frowned. (and he looked in a bad tempered way.) meaning, he scowled and was disgusted.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: I.e., he becomes emotionally involved because he suspects in his heart that his arguments are weak (Razi).

ثُمَّ اَدۡبَرَ وَاسۡتَكۡبَرَۙ‏ 
( 23 )   Then he turned back and was arrogant
Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, he turned away from the truth and arrogantly refused to accept and submit to the Qur'an.

فَقَالَ اِنۡ هٰذَاۤ اِلَّا سِحۡرٌ يُّؤۡثَرُۙ‏ 
( 24 )   And said, "This is not but magic imitated [from others].

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: `this is magic that Muhammad received from those who were before him, and he is merely saying what he got from them.'

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The Commentators understand the reference to be to Walid ibn Mugaira, who was a wealthy Sybarite, Pagan to the core, and an inveterate enemy to the holy Prophet. He and Abu Jahl did all they could, from the beginning of the preaching of Islam, to abuse and persecute the Preacher, to run down his doctrine, and to injure those who believed in it. But the meaning for us is much wider. There are Walids in all ages. They cannot understand divine inspiration, and seek to explain its wonderful influence over the lives of men by some such unmeaning formula as "magic". The eternal Hope is to them mere human delusion!

Muhammad Asad Explanation: The term sihr, which usually denotes "sorcery" or "magic", primarily signifies "the turning of something from its proper [or "natural"] state of being into another state"; hence, it is often applied to the fascination or enchantment caused by exceptional, "spellbinding" eloquence (Taj al-'Arus). In its pejorative sense - as used by deniers of the truth to describe a divine message - it has also the connotation of "wilful deception" or "delusion".

اِنۡ هٰذَاۤ اِلَّا قَوۡلُ الۡبَشَرِؕ‏ 
( 25 )   This is not but the word of a human being."
The reference is to what happened in the conference of the disbelievers of Makkah. From the details of it that we have given in the introduction, it becomes obvious that this man in his heart had become fully convinced of the Quran’s being divine word, but in order to save his position as a chief of his people, he was not prepared to affirm faith. When in the conference he himself turned down all the accusations that the Quraish chiefs were proposing against the Prophet (peace be upon him), he was compelled to devise an accusation from himself, which could be spread among the Arabs in order to bring a bad name to the Prophet (peace be upon him). Then, the way he struggled against his conscience, and the way he devised an accusation at last after a prolonged mental conflict, has been vividly depicted here.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: `meaning, it is not the Words of Allah. The person who is mentioned in this discussion is Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah Al-Makhzumi. He was one of the chiefs of the Quraysh -- may Allah curse him. Among the narrations about this is what was reported by Al-`Awfi from Ibn `Abbas. He (Ibn `Abbas) said, "Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah entered the house of Abu Bakr bin Abi Quhafah and asked him about the Qur'an. When Abu Bakr informed him about it, he left and went to the Quraysh saying, `What a great thing this is that Ibn Abi Kabshah is saying. I swear by Allah that it is not poetry, nor magic, nor the prattling of insanity. Verily, his speech is from the Words of Allah!' So when a group of the Quraysh heard this they gathered and said, `By Allah, if Al-Walid converts (to Islam) all of the Quraysh will convert.' When Abu Jahl bin Hisham heard this he said, `By Allah, I will deal with him for you.' So he went to Al-Walid's house and entered upon him. He said to Al-Walid, `Don't you see that your people are collecting charity for you' Al-Walid replied, `Don't I have more wealth and children than they do' Abu Jahl answered, `They are saying that you only went to Ibn Abi Quhafah's house so that you can get some of his food.' Al-Walid then said, `Is this what my tribe is saying Nay, by Allah, I am not seeking to be close to Ibn Abi Quhafah, nor `Umar, nor Ibn Abi Kabshah. And his speech is only inherited magic of old.' 

(Leave me alone with whom I created lonely.) until His statement, (It spares not, nor does it leave (anything)!)'' Qatadah said, "They claim that he (Al-Walid) said, `By Allah, I thought about what the man says, and it is not poetry. Verily, it has a sweetness and it is truly elegant. Verily, it is exalted and it is not overcome. And I have no doubt that it is magic.'

So Allah revealed, (So let him be cursed, how he plotted!), (Then he frowned and he looked in a bad tempered way.) He contracted his eyes together and scowled.''

سَاُصۡلِيۡهِ سَقَرَ‏ 
( 26 )   Him shall I soon roast in Hell..

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Allah says, (I will cast him into Saqar.) meaning, `I will engulf him in it from all his sides.'

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The Sinner's perversity can only end in the Fire of Punishment. It enters his very being. See next note.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: This is unquestionably the earliest instance of the term saqar ("hell-fire"), one of the seven metaphorical names given in the Qur'an to the concept of the suffering in the hereafter which man brings upon himself by sinning and deliberately remaining blind and deaf, in this world, to spiritual truths (cf. surah {15}, note [33]). The allegorical character of this and all other Qur'anic descriptions of man's condition and destiny in the hereafter is clearly alluded to in the subsequent verse as well as in verse {28} ff.

In Verses 27-48, the dreadfulness of Hell has been depicted and it has been explained as to people of what character and morals really deserve it.

وَمَاۤ اَدۡرٰٮكَ مَا سَقَرُؕ‏ 
( 27 )   And what can make you know what is Saqar?
Tafsir Ibn Kathir:  Then Allah says, (And what will make you know (exactly) what Saqar is) This is to give fright and emphasis to its matter. 

لَا تُبۡقِىۡ وَ لَا تَذَرُ​ۚ‏ 
( 28 )   It lets nothing remain and leaves nothing [unburned],
This can have two meanings: first, that it will burn to ashes whoever is cast into it, but even after death he will not escape from punishment: he will be given life once again and burnt once again, This very subject has been treated at another place thus: He will neither die in it nor live. (Surah Al-Aala, Ayat 13). Another meaning can also be: It will leave none who has deserved the punishment and it will spare none from being punished.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:  meaning, it eats their flesh, veins, nerves and their skins. Then their organs will be changed into something else. They will remain in this (form), not living or dying. This was stated by Ibn Buraydah, Abu Sinan and others.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: He is in a state in which he neither lives nor dies (lxxxvii. 13). Looked at in another way, the things that in a good man are meant to last and grow, are for the sinner destroyed, and no part of his nature is left untouched. The brightness of his very manhood is darkened and extinguished by sin.

لَـوَّاحَةٌ لِّلۡبَشَرِ​ۖ​ۚ‏ 
( 29 )   Blackening the skins.
After saying that it will leave nothing of the body unconsumed, making mention of scorching of the skin separately seems to be somewhat unnecessary. But this form of the punishment has been mentioned separately in particular because it is the skin of a man’s face and body which actually makes his personality prominent, and it is its ugliness which makes him feel most ill at ease. He is not so grieved at the internal troubles of his body as, for instance, at his face being ugly, or that there should be spots on the skin of the exposed parts of his body, abhorrent to others. That is why it has been said: If the people who feel proud of their personalities in the world because of having handsome faces and splendid bodies, treat the revelations of Allah mockingly, as did Walid bin al-Mughirah, their faces will be scorched and their skins will be burned black.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Mujahid said, "This means for the skin.'' Qatadah said, (Scorching for the humans!) "This means burning the skin.'' Ibn `Abbas said, "Burning the skin of man.'' 

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Most of the commentators interpret the above elliptic phrase in the sense of "changing the appearance of man" or "scorching the skin of man". The rendering adopted by me, on the other hand, is based on the primary significance of the verb laha - "it appeared", "it shone forth" or "it became visible". Hence, the primary meaning of the intensive participial noun lawwah is "that which makes [something] visible". In the above context, it relates to the sinner's belated cognition of the truth, as well as to his distressing insight into his own nature, his past failings and deliberate wrongdoings, and the realization of his own responsibility for the suffering that is now in store for him: a state neither of life nor of death (cf.{87:12-13}).

عَلَيۡهَا تِسۡعَةَ عَشَرَؕ‏ 
( 30 )   Over it are nineteen [angels].

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, the first of the guardians of Hell. They are magnificent in (their appearance) and harsh in their character.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The figure nineteen refers to angels appointed to guard Hell. See verse 31 below and the corresponding note.

Verse 31 bekow explains the mystery of the nineteen angels by portraying the number as a marker of faith. True believers will not question it, as it is the word of God, and those who God has "led astray" will be troubled by doubts.

وَمَا جَعَلۡنَاۤ اَصۡحٰبَ النَّارِ اِلَّا مَلٰٓـئِكَةً​ وَّمَا جَعَلۡنَا عِدَّتَهُمۡ اِلَّا فِتۡنَةً لِّلَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡا ۙ لِيَسۡتَيۡقِنَ الَّذِيۡنَ اُوۡتُوا الۡكِتٰبَ وَيَزۡدَادَ الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اِيۡمَانًا​ وَّلَا يَرۡتَابَ الَّذِيۡنَ اُوۡتُوا الۡكِتٰبَ وَالۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ​ۙ وَلِيَقُوۡلَ الَّذِيۡنَ فِىۡ قُلُوۡبِهِمۡ مَّرَضٌ وَّالۡكٰفِرُوۡنَ مَاذَاۤ اَرَادَ اللّٰهُ بِهٰذَا مَثَلًا ​ؕ كَذٰلِكَ يُضِلُّ اللّٰهُ مَنۡ يَّشَآءُ وَيَهۡدِىۡ مَنۡ يَّشَآءُ ​ؕ وَمَا يَعۡلَمُ جُنُوۡدَ رَبِّكَ اِلَّا هُوَ ​ؕ وَمَا هِىَ اِلَّا ذِكۡرٰى لِلۡبَشَرِ
( 31 )   And We have not made the keepers of the Fire except angels. And We have not made their number except as a trial for those who disbelieve - that those who were given the Scripture will be convinced and those who have believed will increase in faith and those who were given the Scripture and the believers will not doubt and that those in whose hearts is hypocrisy and the disbelievers will say, "What does Allah intend by this as an example?" Thus does Allah leave astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And none knows the soldiers of your Lord except Him. And mention of the Fire is not but a reminder to humanity.

The whole passage from here to “none knows the hosts of your Lord but He Himself”, is a parenthetical sentence, which has been inserted here to answer an objection of the disbelievers, who had started mocking it when they heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say that 19 keepers had been appointed over Hell.

Their objection was: How strange that, on the one hand, we are told that all human beings, from the time of the Prophet Adam till Resurrection, who disbelieved and committed evil, will be cast into Hell, and, on the other hand, that there will be only 19 keepers, who will administer punishment to the countless numbers of men in such a huge Hell.

This caused a huge laughter among the chiefs of Quraish. Abu Jahl said: Brothers, are you so powerless that even as many as ten of you at a time will not be able to overpower a single policeman of Hell. At this a wrestler of the Bani Jumha said: Well I will deal with and overpower at least 17 of them by myself; as for the remaining two, you all together can tackle them. In response these sentences have been inserted as a parenthetical clause.

It is thus said that is, it is foolish on your part to compare the angelic powers to human powers. They will be angels, not men, and you cannot imagine what tremendous powers Allah has granted to the angels He has created.

Although apparently there was no need to mention the number of the keepers of Hell, yet We have mentioned it so that it becomes a trial for every such person who may be concealing any kind of unbelief in his heart. Such a man may be making a great display of his faith but if he conceals even a tinge of the doubt about the Godhead and supreme powers of God, or about revelation and Prophethood, anywhere in his heart, his disbelief would immediately be exposed as soon as he would hear that only 19 policemen would control countless numbers of the culprits from among the jinn and men in such a huge jail and would also administer punishment to each of them individually.

Some commentators have explained it thus: As in the scriptures of the Jews and Christians, the same number of the angels has also been mentioned as keepers of Hell, they would be convinced of this thing’s being truly from Allah as soon as they heard it. But in our opinion this commentary is not correct for two reasons. First, we have not been able to see anywhere in the existing scriptures of the Jews and Christians in spite of search that the number of the angels appointed over Hell is 19. Second, there are many things in the Quran, which have also been mentioned in the scriptures of the Jews and Christians, yet they explain them away, saying that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has plagiarized these from their books. For these reasons the correct meaning of this statement in our opinion is: The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) knew that he would be ridiculed as soon as the disbelievers heard that 19 angels had been appointed over Hell, but in spite of this, he presented without the least hesitation and fear publicly before the people what had been revealed to him from Allah, and did not at all mind the jesting and mocking by the people. The pagans of Arabia were unaware of the unique distinction of the Prophets, but the followers of the earlier scriptures were fully aware that the Prophets in every age used to convey to their people intact whatever they received from God, whether it pleased them or displeased them. On this very basis it was to be expected of the Jews and the Christians that they would be convinced of the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) truth for only a Prophet could present an apparently strange thing without any hesitation before the people in an environment charged with antagonism and hostility. This is also evident that such a thing was shown by the Prophet (peace be upon him) on many other occasions. Its most prominent example is the event of the miraj (ascension) which he related openly before a general assembly of the disbelievers and did not at all care how his opponents would behave and react after they had heard the story of the wonderful event.

It has been explained at several places in the Quran that on the occasion of every trial when a believer remains steadfast to his faith, and forsaking the way of doubt and denial, disobedience or disloyalty to the faith, adopts the way of faith, obedience and loyalty to it, it increases and strengthens him all the more in faith and resignation (For explanation, see(Surah Aal-Imran, Ayat 173);( Surah Al- Anfal, Ayat 2); (Surah At-Taubah, Ayats 124-125); (Surah Al- Ahzab, Ayat 22); (Surah Al-Fath, Ayat 4 and the corresponding E.Ns).

As sickness of the heart in the Quran is generally understood to imply hypocrisy, seeing this word here some commentators have expressed the view that this verse was revealed at Al-Madinah, for the hypocrites appeared at Al- Madinah. But this view is not correct for several reasons. In the first place, the assertion itself that there were no hypocrites at Makkah is false, and its falsehood has been exposed in the Introduction to the (Surah Al-Ankabut and in its verses 10-11).

Secondly, in our opinion it is not a correct way of writing commentary that in respect of a certain sentence occurring in a particular discourse which was revealed on a particular occasion, under particular circumstances, one should declare that it had been sent down on another occasion but has been inserted here without any relevance. The historical background of this part of Surah Al-Muddaththir is well known to us from authentic traditions. This was revealed in connection with a particular event of the early period of the life at Makkah. The whole context bears full relevance to the event. What could, therefore, be the occasion in this context that this one sentence, if it was revealed many years later at Al- Madinah, should have been inserted here?

As for the question what is implied by the disease of the heart here, its answer is that it implies the disease of doubt. Not only in Makkah but in the entire world there have been, and are, very few such people, who might deny God, Hereafter, Revelation, Prophethood, Heaven, Hell, etc. absolutely. In every age the greater majority by far has been of those people, who have been involved in the doubt whether there is God, or no God, Hereafter or no Hereafter, whether Heaven and Hell really exist, or are mere figments of the imagination, and whether the Messengers did really come and receive revelation or not. This same doubt has led most people to unbelief, otherwise the number of such people in the world who denied these truths absolutely has never been great. For a person who has any common sense knows that there is no rational ground whatever for denying the possibility of the existence of these things, or of declaring them absolutely impossible.

This does not mean that they accepted it as divine word but wondered why Allah had said such a thing. But what they actually meant was: A discourse which contained such an irrational and impossible thing could not be a revelation from Allah.

That is, Allah in this very way sometimes sends down in the course of His revelations and commandments such things as become a means of test and trial for the people. It is one and the same thing which a truth-loving, good-natured and right-minded person hears and understanding its right meaning in the right way and adopts the straight path. But when heard by an obstinate, perverse and willful wrongdoer, makes him to misconstrue it and make it a new excuse for fleeing from the truth. Since the first man is himself a lover of the truth, Allah grants him guidance, for it is not the way of Allah to lead the seekers after truth forcibly astray. And since the second man himself does not want guidance, but chooses only error for himself, Allah also pushes him on to the way of error and deviation, for it is also not the way of Allah to forcibly pull to the way of the truth him who has an aversion to the truth. (The question of Allah’s granting guidance and misguidance has been fully explained at many places for example, see ( E.Ns 10,16, 19, 20 of Surah Al-Baqarah); (E.N. 173 of Surah An-Nisa); (E.Ns 17, 28, 90 of Surah Al-An'aam); (E.N. 13 of Surah Younus); (E.N. 54 of Surah Al-Kahf); (E.N. 71 of Surah Al- Qasas).

That is, none knows but Allah what different kinds and how many of the creatures He has created in the universe, what powers He has granted them, and what services He is taking from them. If the man clinging to the tiny globe of the earth seeing the tiny world around himself with his limited sight, is involved in the misunderstanding that the universe of God contains nothing but what he can perceive by his senses or by his instruments, this would only be his own shortsightedness, otherwise this universe is so vast and limitless that it is not in the power of man to obtain full knowledge about any of the things here, not to speak of comprehending mentally the concept of all its vastness.

The people may take heed: the people may recover their senses and wake up before they make themselves worthy of Hell and suffer its punishment, and should think of saving themselves from it. 32. No, never!

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (And We have set none but angels as guardians of the Fire.) meaning, extremely strong in their creation. They cannot be stood against nor defeated. It has been said that Abu Al-Ashaddayn, and his name was Kaladah bin Usayd bin Khalaf, said, "O people of Quraysh! You defend me against two of them and I will defend you against seventeen of them.'' He said this thinking himself to be very great. For they claimed that he achieved such strength that he would stand on a skin of cow hide and ten people would try to pull it out from under his feet, but the skin would be torn to pieces and still not be removed from under him. 

Concerning Allah's statement, (And We have fixed their number only as a trial for the disbelievers,) meaning, `We only have mentioned their number as being nineteen as a test from Us for mankind.'

(In order that the People of the Scripture may arrive at a certainty) meaning, so that they may know that this Messenger is true. For he speaks according to the same thing that they have with them of heavenly revealed Scriptures that came to the Prophets before him. 

Concerning Allah's statement, (and that the believers may increase in faith.) meaning, to their faith. This is due to what they witness from the truthfulness of the information of their Prophet, Muhammad.

(and that no doubt may be left for the People of the Scripture and the believers, and that those in whose hearts is a disease) meaning, among the hypocrites.

(and the disbelievers may say: "What does Allah intend by this example'') meaning, they say, "What is the wisdom in mentioning this here'' Allah says, (Thus Allah leads astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills.) meaning, by way of examples like this, faith becomes firm in the hearts of some people and it is shaken with others. This has a profound wisdom and it is an irrefutable proof. None knows the Soldiers of Allah except Him 

Allah says, (And none can know the hosts of your Lord but He.) meaning, none knows their number and their count except Allah. This is so that one does not make the mistake of thinking that they are only nineteen in all. It has been confirmed in the Hadith concerning Al-Isra' that is reported in the Two Sahihs and other collections, that the Messenger of Allah said in describing the Frequented House (Al-Bayt Al-Ma`mur), which is in the seventh heaven, (Seventy thousand angels enter into it every day and they do not return to it as it is all that is due upon them (one visit in their lifetime).) 

Concerning Allah's statement, (And this is nothing but a reminder to mankind.) Mujahid and others said, (And this is not.) "This means the Hellfire which has been described.''

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Cf. lxvi. 6. There was a great volume of angelology in the religious literature of the People of the Book (i.e., the Jews and Christians) to whom (among others) an appeal is made in this verse. The Essenes, a Jewish brotherhood with highly spiritual ideas; to which perhaps the prophet Jesus himself belonged, had an extensive literature of angelology. In the Midrash also, which was a Jewish school of exegesis and mystical interpretation, there was much said about angels. The Eastern Christian sects contemporary with the birth of Islam had borrowed and developed many of these ideas, and their mystics owed much to the Gnostics and the Persian apocalyptic systems. In the New Testament the relation of the angels with Fire is referred to more than once. In Rev. ix. 11 we have "the angel of the bottomless pit, whose naine in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon". In Rev. xiv. 18 there is an "angel which had power over fire", and in Rev. xvi. 8 an angel has "power ... given unto him to scorch men with fire". In the Old Testament (Daniel vii. 9-10) the essence of all angels is fire: thousand thousands of them issued as a fiery stream from before the Ancient of Days, whose "throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire".

The significance of numbers is a favourite theme with some writers, but I lay no stress on it. In Christian theology the number of the Beast, 666, in Rev. xiii. 18 has given rise to much controversy, and may refer only to the numerical value of the letters in the name of the Roman Emperor Nero. In our own literature I think that we ought to avoid too much insistence on speculative conjectures.

There are four classes of people mentioned here. (1) The Muslims will have their faith increased, because they believe that all revelation is from Allah Most Merciful, and all His forces will work in their favour. (2) The People of the Book, those who had received previous revelations of an analogous character, the Jews and Christians, had numerous sects disputing with each other on minute points of doctrine; but they will now, if they believe, find rest from controversies in a broad understanding of scripture. (3) Those in whose hearts is a disease (see ii. 8-10, notes 33-34), the insincere ones, the hypocrites, will only be mystified, because they believe nothing and have rejected the grace and mercy of Allah. (4) The Unbelievers have frankly done the same and must suffer similar consequences.

It is a necessary consequence of moral responsibility and freedom of choice in man, that he should be left free to stray if he chooses to do so, in spite of all the warning and the instruction he receives. Allah's channels of warning and instruction-his spiritual forces-are infinite, as are His powers. No man can know them. But this warning or reminder is addressed to all mankind. All things are referred to Allah. But we must not attribute evil to Him. In iv. 79 we are expressly told that the good comes from Allah, and the evil from ourselves.

Muhammad Asad Explanation
(For We have caused none but angelic powers to lord over the fire [of hell];) Whereas most of the classical commentators are of the opinion that the "nineteen" are the angels that act as keepers or guardians of hell, Razi advances the view that we may have here a reference to the physical, intellectual and emotional powers within man himself: powers which raise man potentially far above any other creature, but which, if used wrongly, bring about a deterioration of his whole personality and, hence, intense suffering in the life to come. According to Razi, the philosophers (arbab al-hikmah) identify these powers or faculties with, firstly, the seven organic functions of the animal - and therefore also human-body (gravitation, cohesion, repulsion of noxious foreign matter, absorption of beneficent external matter, assimilation of nutrients, growth, and reproduction); secondly, the five "external" or physical senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste); thirdly, the five "internal" or intellectual senses, defined by Ibn Sina - on whom Razi apparently relies - as (1)perception of isolated sence-images, (2)conscious apperceptions of ideas, (3)memory of sense-images, (4)memory of conscious apperceptions; and, lastly, the emotions of desire or aversion (resp. fear or anger), which have their roots in both the "external" and "internal" sense-categories - thus bringing the total of the powers and faculties which preside over man's spiritual fate to nineteen. In their aggregate, it is these powers that confer upon man the ability to think conceptually, and place him, in this respect, even above the angels (cf. 2:30 ff. and the corresponding notes; see also the following note).

( and We have not caused their number to be aught but a trial for those who are bent on denying the truth) Since it is by virtue of his powers of conscious perception and conceptual thinking that man can arrive at a discriminating cognition of good and evil and, thus, rise to great spiritual heights, these powers are described here as "angelic" (lit., "angels" - this being the earliest occurrence of the term malak in the history of Qur'anic revelation). On the other hand, since a neglect or a deliberately wrong use of these angelic powers is at the root of all sinning on the part of man and, therefore, of his suffering in the hereafter, they are spoken of as "the lords (ashab) of the fire [of hell]", which complements the expression "over it" in the preceding verse.

(to the end that they who have been granted revelation aforetime might be convinced [of the truth of this divine writ];) This is apparently an allusion to the allegorical character of this passage, which "those who are bent on denying the truth" are unwilling to recognize as such and, hence, fail to grasp its real purport. By speculating on the reasons which allegedly induced Muhammad - whom they regard as the "author" of the Qur'an - to lay stress on one particular number, they tend to take the allegory in a literal sense, thus missing its point entirely.

(and that they who have attained to faith [in it] might grow yet more firm in their faith; and that [both] they who have been granted the earlier revelation and they who believe [in this one] might be freed of all doubt; and that they in whose hearts is disease) Namely, by being enabled, through an understanding of the above allegory, to appreciate the rational approach of the Qur'an to all questions of faith. The reference to "those who have been granted revelation aforetime" is the earliest statement outlining the principle of continuity in mankind's religious experience.

(and they who deny the truth outright might ask, "What does [your] God mean by this parable?") I.e., in this instance, the half-hearted ones who, despite their ability to discern between right and wrong, incline towards unbelief.

(In this way God lets go astray him that wills [to go astray],and guides aright him that wills [to be guided].) Cf. the identical phrase in 2:26, together with the corresponding note [18]. My interpolation, in both these passages, of the word "your" between brackets is necessitated by the fact that it is the unbelievers who ask this question.

(And none can comprehend thy Sustainer's forces save Him alone: and all this) Or: "God lets go astray whomever He wills, and guides aright whomever He wills" (see surah {14}, note [4]). The stress on the allegorical nature of the above passage, spoken of as a "parable" (mathal), has here the same purpose as in 2:26 - namely, to prevent the followers of the Qur'an from attaching a literal meaning to its eschatological descriptions - a purpose that is unmistakably expressed in the concluding sentence of this passage: "All this is but a reminder to mortal man". (See also next note.)

Ruku Two [Verses 32-56]:

كَلَّا وَالۡقَمَرِۙ‏ 
( 32 )   No! By the moon
That is, it is not a hollow thing which may be mocked like that.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: An oath in human speech calls in evidence something sacred in the heart of man. In Allah's Message, also, when delivered in human language, solemn emphasis is indicated by an appeal to something striking among the Signs of Allah, which will go straight to the human heart which is addressed. In each case the symbol of the appeal has reference to the particular point enforced in the argument. Here we are asked to contemplate three wonderful phenomena, and they lead up to the conclusion in verse 38. (1) The moon, next after the sun, is the most striking luminary to our sight. Its reflected light has for us even a greater mystery than the direct light of the sun, which looks to us like pure fire. The moon was worshipped as a deity in times of darkness. But in reality, though she rules the night, her rays are only reflections, and are wanting in warmth and vitality. So every soul which looks up to a mere creature of Allah for a sort of vicarious salvation is in spiritual darkness or error; for the true source of spiritual light and life is Allah, and Allah alone. For (2) the Night and (3) the Dawn, see the following note.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Lit., "it" or "these" - depending on whether the personal pronoun hiya is taken to denote a singular - in which case it would refer to the feminine noun saqar, "hell-fire" (Tabari, Zamakhshari, Baghawi, Ibn Kathir) - or a plural, referring to what Razi pinpoints as "those [Qur'anic] verses dealing with these allegories (hadhihi 'l-mutashabihat)": hence my compromise rendering "all this".

وَالَّيۡلِ اِذۡ اَدۡبَرَۙ‏ 
( 33 )   And [by] the night when it departs

Yusuf Ali Explanation: (2) The Night when it is illuminated by the Moon is light in a sense, but it is really dark and must give place to (3) the Dawn when it comes, as the harbinger of the Sun. So in spiritual matters, when every soul realizes its own responsibility, it will look less and less to reflected lights, and through the beauty of a dawn-like awakening, will be prepared more and more for the splendour of the light of Allah Himself, the goal of the Heaven of our dreams.

وَالصُّبۡحِ اِذَاۤ اَسۡفَرَۙ‏ 
( 34 )   And [by] the morning when it brightens,

اِنَّهَا لَاِحۡدَى الۡكُبَرِۙ‏
( 35 )   Indeed, the Fire is of the greatest [afflictions]
That is, just as the moon and the night and the day are the great signs of the powers of Allah, so also is Hell a great sign of His powers. If the existence of the moon and the alternation of the night and day so regularly were not impossible, why should the existence of Hell be impossible as you think it is. You see these phenomena day and night; therefore, they do not surprise you: otherwise these things in themselves also are great marvels of the powers of Allah. If you had not observed them and somebody were to tell you that there is also such a thing as the moon in the world, or, there is a sun which leaves the world dark when it hides and makes the world shine forth with light when it appears, then the people like you would have made jests of it too as you make jests of Hell.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, the great things. This refers to the Hellfire. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak and others of the Salaf, all said this.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: "This is but one," etc. There are numerous Signs of Allah, of which Judgment is one, and one of the mightiest portents. Or the reference may be to the waning of the Moon, the decline of the night, and the glorious sunrise, as tokens or symbols of the world renewed when the present transitory world passes away. According to some commentators "This" here refers to Hell.

نَذِيۡرًا لِّلۡبَشَرِۙ‏ 
( 36 )   As a warning to humanity 

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: [verses 36-37 ] (A warning to mankind -- to any of you that chooses to go forward, or to remain behind.) meaning, for whoever wishes to accept the warning and be guided to the truth, or hold back from accepting it, turn away from it and reject it.

لِمَنۡ شَآءَ مِنۡكُمۡ اَنۡ يَّتَقَدَّمَ اَوۡ يَتَاَخَّرَؕ‏ 
( 37 )   To whoever wills among you to proceed or stay behind.
That is, the people have been warned to this effect. Now, let him who heeds the warning go forward on the right way, and let him who wills still lag behind.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Three interpretations are possible. (1) Those pressing forward may be the Righteous, and those following behind may be the laggards, the Unbelievers, who reject Allah's love, care, and mercy. (2) Men of two kinds of temperament may be referred to: those who are always in the van and those who are always in the rear. Allah's Message is open to both. But there may be a danger to both: in the one case, over-confidence, or hope in wrong things: in the other case missing great opportunities so that their spiritual lives may be "bound in shallows and in miseries". Extremes should be avoided. (3) Or it may mean that the warning is effective only for those willing to move forwards or backwards, as the case may be, but is lost on the inert or the lethargic. For our moral and spiritual progress, we have in some cases to go forwards, but in some cases we have to retreat from false positions. The hopeless case is that of the obstinate man, whose heart is so dead that he dares not advance to the right or withdraw from the wrong.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: This is the earliest Qur'anic instance of the adjurative particle wa used in the sense of a solemn, oath-like assertion - a calling to witness, as it were - meant (as in the expression "by God!") to give weight to a subsequently stated truth or evidence of the truth: hence, I am rendering it here and elsewhere as "consider". In the present case, the truth thus to be stressed is the implied statement that just as the changing phases of the moon and the alternation of night and day are the outcome of God-given, natural laws, so, too, a sinner's suffering in the hereafter is but a natural outcome of his deliberate wrongdoing in this world. (See also 2:7.)

كُلُّ نَفۡسٍ ۢ بِمَا كَسَبَتۡ رَهِيۡنَةٌ ۙ‏ 
( 38 )   Every soul, for what it has earned, will be retained
This verse means the same as that of verse 21of Surah 52. At Toor: "We shall unite the believers with those descendants of theirs who followed them in their faith, and shall not deny them any part of the reward for their good deeds. Every person is pledged to what he did."
"Here, the metaphor of rahn (pledge) is very meaningful. If a person takes a loan from somebody, and the creditor keeps some article belonging to the debtor as a pledge with himself as a guarantee for the payment of his right, the debtor cannot redeem his pledge unless he pays off the debts; and if he does not redeem his pledge within the fixed time limit, the pledged article stands forfeited. The nature of the affair between man and God has been compared here to this very situation. The provisions, powers, capabilities and authority that God has granted man in the world are a debt that the Master has given to His servant, and as a guarantee for this debt the self of man is a pledge with Allah. If man by employing the provisions and the powers and authority in the right way earns the good by which the debt can be paid off, he will redeem the pledged thing, i.e. his own self, otherwise it will be forfeited. This thing has been said immediately after the preceding verse because even though the righteous believers may themselves be the people of a very high rank, their children cannot redeem their pledge unless they redeem their self by their own labor and effort. The earning of the forefathers cannot redeem the children. However, if the children are able to redeem themselves by virtue of their faith in some degree by following their righteous forefathers in their footsteps, it would then be Allah’s grace and bounty that in Paradise He may exalt them from lower ranks to be joined with their parents in the higher ranks. The good done by the forefathers can benefit the children only so far, but if by their own deeds they deserve Hell, it is not possible that they may be admitted to Paradise for the sake of the forefathers. Another thing that can be deduced from this verse is that the less righteous children’s being joined with their more righteous forefathers is not in reality the result of the lifework of the children but of their forefathers’. They by virtue of their deeds will deserve the grace that their children be joined with them in order to be a comfort of the eyes for them. That is why Allah will not lower their ranks to join them with their children but will exalt the children’s ranks to be joined with them, so that the perfection of Allah’s blessings on them is not marred by the distress that they may suffer on account of the remoteness of their children far away."

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Cf. lii. 21. Man cannot shift his responsibility to vicarious saviours or saints. His redemption depends upon the grace of Allah, for which he should constantly and whole-heartedly strive by means of right conduct. If he does so he will be redeemed and he will join the Companions of the Right Hand. 

اِلَّاۤ اَصۡحٰبَ الۡيَمِيۡنِۛ ؕ‏ 
( 39 )   Except the companions of the right,

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Cf. lvi. 3, and see lvi. 27-38. The Companions of the Right Hand will be the Righteous or the Blessed in the Hereafter. Their grounds of merit will be Prayer, Charity, Earnestness, and Faith in Allah's just Judgment: all of which are within the reach of the humblest Seeker. They are not separate acts or virtues, but are all inter-connected. At Judgment, the pledge of their soul will be redeemed by Allah's Grace at the Taking of the Account.

فِىۡ جَنّٰتٍ ۛ يَتَسَآءَلُوۡنَۙ‏ 
( 40 )   [Who will be] in gardens, questioning each other
In other words, the people of the left hand will be seized in consequence of their misdeeds, but the people of the right hand will have their debts settled. (For explanation of the people of the right hand and the left hand,.

This is same as mentioned in verses 5-6 of Surah 56. Al Waqia:
(56:8) The People on the Right:5 and how fortunate will be the People on the Right!
The word maintanah in ashab-al-maimanah, in the original, may 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, then 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, ashabal- maimanah would mean fortunate and blessed people.
(56:9) And the People on the Left:6 and how miserable will be the People on the Left!
The word mashamah in ashab-al-mashamah, in the original, is from shum 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 shum (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-almashamah 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.
عَنِ الۡمُجۡرِمِيۡنَۙ‏ 
( 41 )   About the criminals,
At several places in the Quran, it has been stated that the dwellers of Paradise and the dwellers of Hell will be able to see and communicate with each other directly without the agency of any instrument whenever they will so desire, although they will be living hundreds of thousands of miles away from each other. For instance, see explanation of (Surah Al- Aaraf, Ayats 44-50); (Surah As-Saaffat, Ayats 50-57) on it.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, while they are in lofty rooms they will ask the criminals, who will be in the lowest levels (of Hell), saying to them:

مَا سَلَـكَكُمۡ فِىۡ سَقَرَ‏ 
( 42 )   [And asking them], "What put you into Saqar?"

قَالُوۡا لَمۡ نَكُ مِنَ الۡمُصَلِّيۡنَۙ‏ 
( 43 )   They will say, "We were not of those who prayed,
That is, we were not of those who after having believed in Allah and His Messenger and His Book, performed the foremost duty imposed by Allah, i.e. the Prayer. Here, it should be understood well that unless a person has believed he cannot offer the Prayer at all. Therefore, one’s being of those who performed the Prayer, by itself implies that one is a believer. But by attributing one’s going to Hell to his not being of those who performed their Prayer, it has been made explicit that one cannot escape Hell even after having believed if he does not perform his Prayers regularly.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: ("What has caused you to enter Hell'' They will say: "We were not of those who used to offer the Salah, nor did we feed the poor.'') meaning, `we did not worship Allah, nor did we do good to His creatures of our own species (i.e., other people).'

وَلَمۡ نَكُ نُطۡعِمُ الۡمِسۡكِيۡنَۙ‏ 
( 44 )   Nor did we used to feed the poor.
This shows how grave a sin it is in Islam to see a hungry man and fail to feed him even if one can, for this has been particularly mentioned as one of the causes of going to Hell.

وَكُنَّا نَخُوۡضُ مَعَ الۡخَـآئِضِيۡنَۙ‏ 
( 45 )   And we used to enter into vain discourse with those who engaged [in it],

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: meaning, `we used to speak about what we had no knowledge of.' Qatadah said, "It means that every time someone went astray we would go astray with them.''

وَ كُنَّا نُكَذِّبُ بِيَوۡمِ الدِّيۡنِۙ‏ 
( 46 )   And we used to deny the Day of Recompense

حَتّٰٓى اَتٰٮنَا الۡيَقِيۡنُؕ‏ 
( 47 )   Until there came to us the certainty."
Until the inevitable certainty overtakes: Until death came upon us. Here, the inevitable implies death as well as the Hereafter.

فَمَا تَنۡفَعُهُمۡ شَفَاعَةُ الشّٰفِعِيۡنَؕ‏ 
( 48 )   The intercession of the intercessors shall then be of no avail to them. 
That is, even if an intercessor interceded for a person who persisted in this way of life till death, he would not be forgiven. The question of intercession has been fully explained at many places in the Quran that no one can have any difficulty in knowing and understanding as to who can intercede and who cannot, when one can intercede and when one cannot, for whom one can intercede and for whom one cannot, and for whom intercession is beneficial and for whom it is not. As one of the major causes of the people’s deviation in the world is their false concept about intercession, it has been explained at such length in the Quran as to leave no room for any doubt and ambiguity. For example, see ( Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayat 255); (Surah Al- Anaam, Ayat 94); (Surah Al-Aaraf, Ayat 53); (Surah Younus, Ayats 3-18); (Surah Maryam, Ayat 87); (Surah TaHa, Ayat 109); (Surah Al-Anbiya, Ayat 28); (Surah Saba, Ayat 23); (Surah Az-Zumar, Ayats 43-44); (Surah Al-Momin, Ayat 18); (Surah Ad-Dukhan, Ayat 86); (Surah An-Najm, Ayat 26); (Surah An-Naba, Ayat 37-38).

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (So no intercession of intercessors will be of any use to them.) meaning, whoever has these characteristics, then the intercession of whoever tries to intercede for him will be of no benefit on the Day of Judgement. This is because intercession is only useful if the conditions for it are met. However, whoever comes before Allah as a disbeliever on the Day of Judgement, then he will get the Hellfire and there is no way of avoiding it. He will abide in it (Hell) forever.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: In view of the fact that at the time of the revelation of this very early surah the canonical prayer (salah) had not yet been made obligatory on the followers of the Qur'an, it is reasonable to assume that in the above context this term is used in its widest sense, namely, conscious belief in God.

In Verses 49-53, the root cause of the disbelievers' aversion has been pointed out, saying: "Since they are fearless of the Hereafter, and look upon this worldly life as an end in itself, they flee from the Qur'an as though they were wild asses fleeing away from the lion: therefore, they propose unreasonable conditions for believing, whereas even if each and every condition of theirs was fulfilled, they could not advance even an inch on the way of Faith with their denial of the Hereafter."

فَمَا لَهُمۡ عَنِ التَّذۡكِرَةِ مُعۡرِضِيۡنَۙ  
( 49 )   Then what is [the matter] with them that they are, from the reminder, turning away

Yusuf Ali Explanation: If the Day of Judgment is inevitable, it is strange that men should not heed a plain warning, but go on as if they were thoughtless and obstinate asses stampeding from a lion. Instead of heeding the warning, they try to avoid it. They are frightened at Allah's Word.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Lit., "the intercession of intercessors" - implying that there would be none to intercede for them with God. As regards the much-misunderstood Islamic concept of "intercession", see 10:3 - "there is none that could intercede with Him unless He grants His leave therefor" - and the corresponding note [7].

كَاَنَّهُمۡ حُمُرٌ مُّسۡتَنۡفِرَةٌ ۙ‏ 
( 50 )   As if they were alarmed donkeys
فَرَّتۡ مِنۡ قَسۡوَرَةٍ ؕ‏ 
( 51 )   Fleeing from a lion?
This is an idiomatic expression in Arabic which depicts the character of wild donkeys who flee stupefied and stunned as soon as they smell a lion or hear a hunter.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (Verses 50-51) As if they were fleeing from the truth and turning away from it, like a wild donkey when it flees from something that is trying to catch it, like a lion. This was said by Abu Hurayrah. Hammad bin Salamah reported from `Ali bin Zayd who reported from Yusuf bin Mihran who narrated that Ibn `Abbas said, "It (Qaswarah) is the lion in the Arabic language. It is called Qaswarah in the Abyssinian language, Sher in the Persian language and Awba in the Nabtiyyah (Nabatean) language.''

بَلۡ يُرِيۡدُ كُلُّ امۡرِىٴٍ مِّنۡهُمۡ اَنۡ يُّؤۡتٰى صُحُفًا مُّنَشَّرَةً ۙ‏  
( 52 )   Rather, every person among them desires that he would be given scriptures spread about.
That is, they desire that if Allah really has appointed Muhammad (peace be upon him) as His Prophet, He should send a letter to each one of the chiefs and elders of Makkah telling him that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is Allah’s Prophet; therefore he should obey and follow him. And these letters should be such as may convince them that they have been written by Allah Himself. At another place in the Quran, this saying of the disbelievers of Makkah has been cited: We will not believe in it unless we are given the like of what has been given to the Messengers of Allah. (Al- Anaam, Ayat 124). At still another place their this demand has been cited: Or you ascend the sky ... and bring down to us a writing that we may read. (Surah Bani lsrail, Ayat 93).

Tafsir Ibn Kathir: each one of these idolaters wants to have a book revealed to him as Allah revealed to the Prophet . Mujahid and others have said this. 

This is similar to Allah's statement, (And when there comes to them a sign they say: "We shall not believe until we receive the like of that which the Messengers of Allah had received.'' Allah knows best with whom to place His Message.) (6:124) It is reported in a narration from Qatadah that he said, "They want to be declared innocent (on the Day of Judgement) without having to do any deeds.'' 

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Cf. xvii. 93: "Until thou send down to us a book, that we could read." The Unbelievers pretend in ridicule that they would believe if a special message written on open scrolls and addressed to them severally were brought to them by a miracle! There is a disease in their hearts and understandings. The Teacher's warning is plain, and enough for any reasonable man who has the will to seek Allah.

كَلَّا ​ؕ بَلۡ لَّا يَخَافُوۡنَ الۡاٰخِرَةَ ؕ‏
( 53 )   No! But they do not fear the Hereafter.
That is, the real cause of their failure to affirm the faith is not that their demands are not fulfilled, but the real cause is that they are fearless of the Hereafter. They think that this world is an end in itself and they do not have any idea that there is another life after this worldly life in which they will have to render an account of their deeds. This very thing has made them careless and irresponsible in the world. They regard the question of truth and falsehood as utterly meaningless, for they do not see any truth following which may have necessarily led to a good result in the world, nor do they see any falsehood which might have always led to an evil result in the world. Therefore, they think it is useless merely to consider as to what is really true and what is false. This question can be worthy of serious consideration only for the person who regards the present life of the world as transitory and admits that the real and everlasting life is the life hereafter, where the truth will necessarily lead to a good result and falsehood necessarily to an evil result. Such a person will certainly believe when he sees the rational arguments and the pure teachings presented in the Quran and will use his common sense to understand what is actually wrong with the beliefs and deeds which the Quran calls wrong. But the denier of the Hereafter who is not at all serious in his search for the truth, will present ever new demands every day for not believing, and will present a new excuse for his denial even if all his demands are fulfilled. This same thing has been expressed in (Surah Al-Anaam, Ayat 7) thus: O Prophet, even if We had sent down to you a Book written on paper, and even if they had touched it with their own hands, the disbelievers would have said: This is nothing but manifest sorcery.

In conclusion, it has been explicitly stated: Allah does not stand in need of anybody's faith that He may fulfill his conditions. The Qur'an is an admonition that has been presented before the people openly; now whoever wills may accept it. Allah has a right that the people should fear His disobedience and He alone has the power to forgive the one who adopts piety and an attitude of God consciousness even though one may have committed many acts of disobedience in the past.

كَلَّاۤ اِنَّهٗ تَذۡكِرَةٌ​ ۚ‏ 
( 54 )   No! Indeed, the Qur'an is a reminder
That is, no such demand of theirs will ever be fulfilled.

فَمَنۡ شَآءَ ذَكَرَهٗ ؕ‏ 
( 55 )   Then whoever wills will remember it.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: The Qur'an itself is the admonition-the latest among the revealed Books of Allah. If man has the will to learn, he will keep the Message always before Him, and Allah's grace will help him to carry it out in his conduct.

وَمَا يَذۡكُرُوۡنَ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ يَّشَآءَ اللّٰهُ​ ؕ هُوَ اَهۡلُ التَّقۡوٰى وَاَهۡلُ الۡمَغۡفِرَةِ
( 56 )   And they will not remember except that Allah wills. He is worthy of fear and adequate for [granting] forgiveness.
That is, a person’s taking heed does not wholly depend upon his own will, but he takes heed only when Allah also wills to grant him the grace to take heed. In other words, the truth that has been expressed here is that no act of man takes a concrete shape solely by his own will, but each act is implemented only when the will of God combines with the will of the man. This is a very delicate question, failure to understand which has often made human thought falter. Briefly it can be understood thus: If in this world every man had the power to accomplish whatever he wanted to accomplish, the system of the world would be disturbed. This system continues to hold only because the will of Allah is dominant over all other wills. Man can accomplish whatever he wants to accomplish only when Allah also wills that he be allowed to accomplish it. The same is also the case with guidance and error. Only man’s own desiring to have guidance is not enough for him to have guidance; he receives guidance only when Allah also takes a decision to fulfill his desire. Likewise, only man’s desiring to go astray by itself is also not enough, but when Allah in view of his desire decides that he be allowed to wander into evil ways, then he wanders into the evil ways in which Allah allows him to wander. As for example, if a person wants to become a thief, only his desire is not enough that he may enter into any house he likes and walk away with whatever he likes, but he can fulfill his desire only at the time and to the extent and in the form that Allah allows him to fulfill it, according to His supreme wisdom and expedience.

The admonition being given to you to avoid Allah’s displeasure is not for the reason that Allah needs it, and if you did not take it, Allah would be harmed, but you are being so admonished because it is Allah’s right that His servants should seek His pleasure and good will and should avoid doing anything against His will.

It behooves only Allah that He should receive into His mercy whoever desists from evil no matter how many acts of disobedience he might have committed in the past. Allah is not vengeful to His servants so that He may refuse to forgive their errors and be bent upon punishing them in any case.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir:  This means that He deserves to be feared and He is eligible to forgive the sin of whoever turns to Him and repents. This was said by Qatadah. This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Muddaththir, all praise and thanks are due to Allah. Offer the Salah, nor did we feed the poor.'') meaning, `we did not worship Allah, nor did we do good to His creatures of our own species (i.e., other people).'

(He is the One, deserving the Taqwa and He is the One Who forgives.) This means that He deserves to be feared and He is eligible to forgive the sin of whoever turns to Him and repents. This was said by Qatadah. This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Muddaththir, all praise and thanks are due to Allah.

Yusuf Ali Explanation: Righteousness as well as Forgiveness have their source in Allah's Will. Man's Righteousness has no meaning except in relation to the universal Will. For Taqwa see n. 26 to ii. 2. If we take the word here in the sense of "the fear of Allah", the translation would be: "He alone is worthy to be feared, and He alone is entitled to grant Forgiveness."

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Lit., "every one of them wants to be given wide-open scriptures", or "scriptures unfolded" (i.e., open to everyone's understanding): cf. 2:118 - "Why does not God speak unto us, nor is a message conveyed to us?" - i.e., directly, without the intervention of a prophet. The above is the earliest illustration of the "arrogance" or "false pride" to which the Qur'an so often refers.

You may now like to listen to Tafsir surah Al-Muddaththir by Sh. Yaser Birjas:

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

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 67 | 8 | 9 | 10 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  [2]
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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