Verses from Surah Taha (128-135)

[128] Are they not guided (by the fact that) how many generations We have destroyed before them in whose (past) inhabitations they walk about? Indeed in this are signs for those who are endued with understanding.

[129] And were it not for a word from your Lord preceding,122 and a term determined, it would have been a thing necessary.123

Commentary

122. What is the `word’ that has preceded? Ibn Kathir answers: It is the rule set by Our Lord that He shall not punish any nation before it has been warned.

123. What would have become necessary? The answer is, ‘punishment.’

 [130] Therefore, bear with patience what they say and glorify praises of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting. Also proclaim (His glory) during some hours124 of the night, and at the ends of the day,125 haply you will be satisfied.

Commentary

124.Aana’” is the plural of “’ini” meaning, some or few. But which part of the night? According to Ibn `Abbas, the allusion is to whole of the night. (To remind, the term “aana’” is in plural). Another of his opinion is that the allusion is to the middle of the night. Hasan said the allusion by “aana’”, is to the beginning, the middle and the end (Ibn Jarir). 

125. The textual word “atraf” is the plural of “taraf”. It is not in the dual form “tarafayn” which would mean the two ends. So, what are the “atraf?” Ibn Jarir writes that according to some scholars the allusion could be both to morning and evening as well as mid-day, which is a “taraf” of the first half of the day. Yusuf Ali has a brilliant remark: “Taraf, plural atraf, may mean sides, ends, extremities. If the day be compared to a tubular figure standing erect, the top and bottom are clearly marked, but the sides are not so clearly marked: they would be atraf (plural), not tarafain (dual). Now the prayer before sunrise is clearly Fajr; that before sunset is `Asr: ‘part of the hours of the night’ would indicate Maghrib (early night, just after sunset), and ‘Isha, before going to bed. There is left Zuhr, which is in the indefinite side or middle of the day: it may be soon after the sun’s decline from noon, but there is considerable latitude about the precise hour. The majority of Commentators interpret in favor of the five Canonical prayers, and some include optional prayers. But I think the words are even more comprehensive. A good man’s life is all one sweet Song of Praise to Allah.”

 [131] And do not stretch your eyes toward what We have bestowed on classes of them as splendor of this life so as to try them therein.126 The provision of your Lord is better and longer lasting.

Commentary

126. According to some reports the Prophet sought some food stuff on loan from a Jew. He refused except on mortgage. That mortified the Prophet and Allah (swt) revealed this verse (Ibn Jarir). The verse is the basis of a Sufi principle viz., stay away from those who are engaged in other than Allah (Thanwi).

 [132] Enjoin Prayer to your kinsfolk and be steadfast therein (yourself).127 We do not ask you of provision. It is We who provide you.128 And the good end is for the pious.129

Commentary

127. It is reported that whenever `Urwah (ibn Zubayr) saw wealth in the hands of some people he would go home and tell his homefolk, “Prayers, O my people, Prayers. May Allah show you mercy” (Ibn Jarir). Thabit has said, add Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, and others, that whenever Prophets of the past faced hard times, they turned to Prayers.

128. Asad comments: “.. (Razi wrote) ‘God makes it clear that He has enjoined this [i.e., prayer] upon men for their own benefit alone, inasmuch as He Himself is sublimely exalted above any [need of] benefit.’ In other words, prayer must not be conceived as a kind of tribute to a ‘jealous God’ – as the Old Testament, in its present corrupted form, frequently describes Him – but solely as a spiritual benefit for the person who prays.”

Our own Prophet has said in a hadith of Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah: “Son of Adam. Free yourself for My worship, I shall fill your heart with contentment and shall block your poverty. But if you do not, I shall fill your heart with multiple affairs and shall not block your poverty.” (That is, “fear of poverty will keep goading you on and on to more and more hard work: Ma`arif).

Shu`ayb Arna’ut said the report is Hasan, Albani that it is Sahih, and Tirmidhi himself declared it Hasan Gharib (Au.).

Ibn Majah has another tradition. The Prophet said, “Whoever chose a single concern for himself out of several – that of the Hereafter – Allah will suffice for him this world’s concerns. In contrast, he whose several concerns are of this-worldly nature, Allah does not care in which valley of His he dies.”

Albani declared the above report Hasan (Au.).

And a third tradition, also in Ibn Majah says: Ibn `Abbas reports that the Prophet addressed us in the Khayf Mosque, saying, after praises to Allah: “Whoever has the Hereafter as his concern, Allah organizes his affairs for him and contentment is placed in his heart, while the world comes to him subdued. In contrast, whoever

treats this world as his main concern, Allah scatters his affairs and places his poverty before his eyes, although, of the world nothing comes to him but that which is in his fate” (Ibn Kathir).

Haythamiyy treated this report as Sahih (Au.). 

129. What constitutes the “good end?” Ibn Kathir answers it as Paradise. A Sahih tradition (of Muslim: Au.) says, “Last night I saw in a vision that we are in the house of ‘Uqbah b. Rafe` and that we are being presented with fresh Ibn Taab dates. I interpreted it to mean that the final outcome will be a lofty position in this world, the success in the Hereafter, and that our religion is Good.”

[133] And they said, ‘Why does he not bring us a sign from his Lord?’ Has there not come to them the clear sign of what was in the previous Scriptures?130

Commentary

130. Asad remarks, “I.e., ‘Does not the Qur’an express the same fundamental truths as were expressed in the revelations granted to the earlier prophets?’ Beyond this, the above rhetorical question contains an allusion to the predictions of the advent of Muhammad to be found in earlier scriptures, e.g., in Deuteronomy xviii, 15 and 18 .. or in John xiv, 16, xv, 26 and xvi, 7, where Jesus speaks of the ‘Comforter’ who is to come after him.”

[134] Surely, had We destroyed them before him with a chastisement,131 they would have certainly said, ‘Our Lord, why did You not send a Messenger so that we followed Your revelations before We were humbled and disgraced?’132

Commentary

131. The personal pronoun in “qablihi” can either be for the Prophet, for the Message he brought, or for the warning of destruction the rejecters were given.

132. Abu Sa`id al-Khudri reports the Prophet (saws) as having said, “Three classes of men will contend with Allah (over their fate): those who died in a Prophet-less period (fatrah), the insane and children. The insane will say, ‘You never gave me enough intelligence to be able to comprehend.’ The man of Prophet-less period will say, ‘No Messenger came to me, nor a Prophet. Had a Messenger or a Prophet come to me, I would have been the most obedient of Your slaves.’ (The Prophet recited, ‘Only if You had sent us a Messenger?’) The child will say, ‘I was little, unable to use my mind.’ So the Fire will be brought forward and they will be ordered to walk into it. Now, he who would be the lucky one in Allah’s knowledge will walk in. But he who would be of the wretched ones in Allah’s knowledge will withhold himself. Allah will say, ‘You have disobeyed Me. So, how do you think you would have behaved if a Messenger had been sent to you?’” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

The authenticity of the above version could not be established (Au.).

[135] Say, ‘Everyone is waiting, so wait. Soon you will know who are the people of the straight path, and who are rightly guided.’133

Commentary

133. Muhammad Asad points to a human fault: “I.e., human nature is such that no man, whatever his persuasion or condition, can never cease to hope that the way of life chosen by him will prove to have been the right way.”

 (To be continued with Surah Anbiya’)