Selection from Surah 25 Al-Furqan (The Criterion) [72 – 77]

IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE KIND, THE COMPASSIONATE

[72] And those who witness not falsehood93 and (who), when they pass by the futile, pass by with dignity.94

Commentary

93. Yusuf Ali remarks: “(These words have)… two significations, both implied in this passage: (1) those who give no evidence that is false; and (2) those who do not assist at anything which implies fraud or falsehood.”

The textual Zur is to believe in the goodness of a thing while it is otherwise. Hence the varying explanations offered by the Salaf as meaning Shirk (sin of association), music, or falsehood. (Ibn Jarir)

One report from Ibn `Abbas has it that the allusion is to the festivities of the polytheists (Qurtubi). Abu al-`Aliyyah, Ta’us, Ibn Sirin, Dahhak, Rabi` b. Anas and others have also held the same opinion. (Ibn Kathir)

False testimony is one of the many possible connotations. A report preserved in the Sahihayn and quoted by Ibn Kathir says the Prophet asked, “May I not tell you of the greatest of the great (sins)?” He said that three times. Those present said, “Sure do, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “To declare partners to Allah and to mistreat the parents.” Then he straightened himself up from the reclining position and said, “Lo! It is false testimony (Zur). Lo! It is false testimony.” He kept repeating until the Companions wished he would stop.

94. Al-laghw is every word, or deed, that is of no profit to anyone, which, if the believers happen to encounter, they skirt themselves away from it. Therefore, some of the Salaf have included, by implication, sex talks in al-laghw in which the believers do not indulge, but rather, leave the company graciously (kiraam). However, sometimes passing by in kiraam might involve an action. For example, if they see an undesirable act, they forbid it, or when they see an unlawful act being carried out, they prevent it, using force if required. (Ibn Jarir).

Ibn Abi Hatim reported that, once, Ibn Mas`ud passed by a futile thing but did not pause. The Prophet remarked, “Ibn Mas`ud turned a karim” (Ibn Kathir).

[73] And those who, when reminded of the verses of their Lord, fall not upon them deaf and blind.95

Commentary

95. That is, they do not respond when they are reminded of Allah’s signs as if they did not hear, see, or understand anything – Mujahid (Ibn Jarir).

Asad paraphrases from Kashshaf: “Explaining this verse, Zamakhshari remarks that the average run of the people approach the divine writ with a mere outward show of eagerness, ‘throwing themselves upon it’ for the sake of appearances but, in reality, not making the least attempt to understand the message as such and, hence, remaining deaf and blind to its contents – the truly God-conscious are deeply desirous of understanding it, and therefore, ‘listen to it with wide-awake ears and look into it with seeing eyes.’”

The allusion is not, as many commentators have pointed out, to literally falling down. One says e.g., qama fulanan yabki, meaning he began to weep (lit., he stood up weeping); and qa`ida fulanan yeshtumuni, meaning, so and so began to reproach me (lit., he sat down reproaching me).

Furthermore, kharra has several connotations. Yusuf Ali comments: “Kharra may mean: to fall down, to snore, to droop down as if the person were bored or inattentive, or did not wish to see or hear or pay attention.”

From the above, one can sense the beauty in the choice of words in the Qur’an. A single word covers a variety of ways, and thus, a variety of meanings could be drawn (Au.).

Ibn Kathir adds a trustworthy report from Ahmed that once some people were sitting with Miqdad b. al-Aswad (the Companion) when somebody said, “Lucky of these two eyes which saw the Prophet.” Miqdad reacted angrily. Then he explained, “Why should anyone say that about the past when he does not know how he would have behaved if he had been present. By Allah, the Prophet came and Allah hurled a people on their faces into the Fire because they refused to acknowledge him, but rather cried lies. Should you not be grateful to Allah that He brought you out of the wombs without knowing any other Lord save Allah, believing in Him, and saved you from the trials that the others went through?” (Shortened)

 

[74] And those who say, ‘Our Lord! Grant us of our wives and offspring (such) as are a comfort to the eyes96 and make of us a model to the God-conscious.97

Commentary

96. Ibn `Abbas, Hasan, Ibn Jurayj and others have said that they see them involved in deeds pleasing to Allah, and so feel the coolness in their eyes (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

Mawdudi sums up the explanation offered by several commentators: “This is because a true believer does not draw joy for his eyes by the fact that his or her spouse and offspring are physically attractive, or from the mere fact that they are enjoying a life of ease and luxury. Instead, they are delightful if they are blessed with moral excellence … It is noteworthy that at the time when these verses were revealed, there were none among the Makkan Muslims who would claim their close relatives were not unbelievers. If a husband was a Muslim, his wife was an unbeliever; and if a woman had accepted Islam, her husband was a non-Muslim. In like manner… there were fathers who had become Muslims but whose grown up children were strongly attached to disbelief and Ignorance. Therefore, every Muslim was going through an intense spiritual torment. Their Prayers is best expressed in the present verse.”

In Hasan al-Busri’s effective words, “No by Allah! There is nothing that will cool the eyes of a believer but that he should see his son or grandson or brother, or a close relative, as obedient to Allah” – Ibn Kathir.

97. Two meanings are possible. One, as in translation which is the understanding of Ibn `Abbas and Dahhak, and second, ‘make us those who followed the God-conscious (of the past and present).’ This was the opinion of Mujahid, but the former is more appropriate (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi). Ibn Kathir also agrees with the former opinion.

An implied meaning is that since we are the Imams of our progeny, make our progeny virtuous so that we feel happy at leading them in piety. (Shafi`)

[75] They (are the ones) who will be rewarded with lofty houses98for what they showed patience (and constancy), and shall receive therein salutation and peace.

Commentary

98. The translation of Ghurfah as lofty houses agrees with Ibn Jarir’s understanding. However, Ibn Kathir (and earlier to him Razi in brief) notes that Ja`far al-Baqir, Sa`id b. Jubayr, Dahhak and Suddi expressed the opinion that the allusion is to Paradise, which is so called because of its heights.

[76] Dwelling therein forever – beautiful an abode and a place of rest.99

Commentary

99. “Beautiful an abode and a place of rest”: this is in contrast to the reward of the unbelievers, “Evil it is (Jahannum) as an abode and as a place of rest,” but which does not mean that the believers will remain in Paradise for a short or, for that matter, a long while (Au., with a point from Razi).

Yusuf Ali sums up: “Let us recapitulate the virtues of the true servants of Allah: (1) they are humble and forbearing to those below them in spiritual worth; (2) they are constantly, by adoration, in touch with Allah; (3) they always remember the Judgment in the Hereafter; (4) they are moderate in all things; (5) they avoid treason to Allah, to their fellow-creatures, and to themselves; (6) they give a wide berth not only to falsehood but to futility; (7) they pay attention, both in mind and manner, to the Signs of their Lord; (8) their ambition is to bring up their families in righteousness and to lead in all good. A fine code of individual and social ethics, a ladder of spiritual development, open to all.”

[77] Say, ‘What will my Lord do with you?100 – but for your invocation.101 But now, you have already laid the lie, so it shall surely be inevitable.’102

Commentary

100. This is a difficult phrase (Qurtubi) that lends several meanings depending on how the articles are treated (Au.). `Ab’a is at the root of the word ya`ba’u, which is for weight; and “ma” has been treated by some as negative while by others as interrogative. (Shawkani and others)

This how Ibn Zayd and Mujahid understood these words (Ibn Jarir). This was the opinion of Farra’ (Shawkani).

Ibn Kathir however explains them as meaning: He doesn’t care whether they worship Him or do not, since He is in no need of them or their devotions. According to Zajjaj, the words “ma a`ba’u bihi” contain contempt, scorn and disdain (Razi). It is as if to say, “I don’t care a bit for him” (Au.).

This is what Khalil thought. And the implication is that you are so unworthy that your existence and non-existence are the same to Him (Shawkani).

In short, the verse can be paraphrased as, “What will my Lord do with you by punishing you? In fact, He would have done it but for your invocation. But the unbelievers among you have already cried lies to His message and so punishment shall be inevitable.” Or, alternatively, “My Lord does not care for you enough, otherwise He would punish you. However, the unbelievers have cried lies and so shall be inevitably chastised.”

101. That is, but for your invocation, He should have destroyed you. This, of course, is one of the several possible implications.

102. What will surely be inevitable? The great majority of the Salaf such as Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Dahhak, Qatadah and many others believed that the allusion is to the day of Badr when they were annihilated. That, however, Allah did not wish to happen – why should He? – but they denied and it became inevitable. (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi and others)

(The Surah ends here)