Verses from Surah 25, Al-Furqan (The Criterion) [10 – 31]

IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE KIND, THE COMPASSIONATE

[10] Blessed is He who, if He wished, could give you better than all that: gardens underneath which rivers flow, and make for you palaces.

[11] But they have denied the Hour and We have prepared for him who denied the Hour a blazing Fire.18

Commentary

18. Sa`id b. Jubayr is reported to have said that Sa`eer of the text, rendered here as Blazing Fire, is thought to be a valley in Hellfire filled with pus (Ibn Kathir).

[12] When it sees them from a distant place, they will hear its raging and roaring.19

Commentary

19. Ibn `Abbas has said that a man will be dragged to the Fire, but it will withdraw some of it, folding upon others. The All-Merciful will ask her, “What’s the matter with you?” It will say, “He seeks refuge from me.” He will say, “Release My slave.” And, another man will be dragged to the Fire. He will say, “My Lord! This is not what I had hoped from You.” He will ask, “And what did you hope from Me?” He will say, “That Your mercy should overwhelm me.” He will say, “Release My slave.” And a man will be dragged to the Fire. It will rush towards him like a mule at barley and will let out a roar that will not leave anyone but in fear” (Ibn Jarir). This is a trustworthy report (Ibn Kathir).

[13] And when they are flung into a constricted part of it, bound in chains, they will plead for destruction then and there.20

Commentary

20. Anas b. Malik reports that the Prophet said, “The first to be cloaked with a cloak of Fire will be Iblis. He will place it over his eyebrows and drag it along at his rear. His progeny will be behind him and he will be saying, ‘O destruction,’ and they will be called out, ‘O their destruction.’ Until, they will be held at the Fire and he will be saying, ‘O destruction,’ and they will be called out, ‘O their destruction.’ At that point it will be said, ‘Do not plead this day for a single destruction, but rather for several destructions’” (Ibn Jarir, Razi).

The above report is in Ahmed (Ibn Kathir). The report is also in Bazzar, `Abd b. Humayd, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Marduwayh and Bayhaqi which Suyuti declared trustworthy although the credibility of one of the narrators has been questioned (Shawkani). Hence Albani declared it weak (S. Ibrahim).

Haythamiyy, on the other hand, expressed his opinion that all the narrators in the chain are trustworthy except one, but even he has been trusted by some scholars (Au.).

[14] (They will be told) ‘Do not plead this day for a single destruction, but rather plead for several destructions.’

[15] Say, ‘Is that better or the Gardens of Eternity that is promised to the godfearing? That will be their reward and resort.

[16] There they will have whatever they desire, dwelling forever: a promise that had been asked for.’21

Commentary

21. That is, it is a promise (of reward) that had been pleaded and prayed for in the past. Another possible meaning is “a promise binding upon your Lord” (Ibn Jarir, Razi, Ibn Kathir).

In view of the popularly accepted opinion that Allah is not “bound” to reward His slaves for good behavior, the second possible meaning expressed above has a question mark before it. But Alusi explains that the reward in this case, has already been promised and, therefore, it becomes “a promise binding upon your Lord.”

[17] And the day He shall muster them and what they worship, apart from Allah22 and say, ‘Was it you who misled these My servants, or is it they who lost the way?’

Commentary

22. Apart from others, among those that would be brought forth as worshipped, would be `Isa, some angels, and a few others of Allah’s slaves (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

Kalbi has said that idols will also be given life, which could be the reason, added Zamakhshari, that the article maa (translated as “what” here) has been employed in place of mun (which is for the living) because idols will be greater in number.

[18] They will say, ‘Glory to You. It did not behoove us that we should take protectors other than You.23 But rather, You bestowed on them and their fathers (temporary enjoyment) until they forgot the Admonition, and became a ruined people.’

Commentary

23. That is, how could we ask others to take us as protectors other than Allah, when we did not take protectors for ourselves other than Him? (Zamakhshari).

[19] (Allah will say) ‘Now they have denounced you concerning what you said.’24 So you can neither avert (it now) nor (find any) help.’ And whosoever of you commits injustice,25 We shall make him taste a great chastisement.

Commentary

24. That is, `Isa, angels, and all those who were worshipped besides Allah, will disown that their devotees ever worshipped them at their behest. But rather, those worshippers had in fact followed the Devil (Ibn Jarir).

25. Ibn Jurayj and Hasan have said that it is shirk (Association) that is meant by the zulm of the text (Ibn Jarir).

[20] And We sent not any Messengers before you but they ate food and moved about in the markets.26 And We have made some of you a (source of) trial for others. Will you then remain patient?27 And your Lord is ever All-seeing.

Commentary

26. Qurtubi first points out that there is absolutely nothing wrong in going about in the markets if there is a need. Yet, it is not preferable to spend much time there or frequent them. Muslim has a hadith which says, “The most approved of places in the sight of Allah are mosques while the most despicable of them are market places.” Salman al-Farsi is recorded in Bazzar as reporting the Prophet, “Do not be – if you can – the first to enter the market, nor the last to leave it, for it’s the battlefield of Shaytan. It is the place where he pitches his flag.”

According to another narration he said, “Do not be the first to enter the marketplace nor the last to leave it. It is there that Shaytan laid eggs and brought out his chicks.”

Haythamiyy said: The authenticity of this report depends upon the identity of one of the narrators, if it was Qasim b. Yezid, he was reliable, but if he was Yezid b. Sufyan, he was weak (Au.).

27. Muslim has a hadith according to which Allah said to the Prophet, “I shall test you and test (others) through you.”

And, it is reported that the Prophet said, “Had I wished, Allah would have sent me mountains of gold and silver.”

The above report is in Bayhaqi’s Shu`ab al-Iman, but whose authenticity could not be established (Au.).

Reports in Sahih works also tell us that the Prophet was given the choice between being a Prophet-king or Messenger-slave and he chose to be a Messenger-slave (Ibn Kathir).

One of the ways in which the Prophet was tried was through poverty. (That was his personal trial. It had, however, other aspects). Had he been rich, it would have been said that they followed him because of his wealth. Similarly, the early poor converts became a source of trial for the rich of the Quraysh (Kashshaf, Alusi and others).

[21] And said those who have no hope of encounter with Us,28 ‘Why have the angels not been sent down to us or why do we (not) see our Lord?’ Indeed, they have an arrogant conceit of themselves, and behaved insolently in a great insolent manner.

Commentary

28. Meeting Allah does not necessarily mean, writes Razi, a face to face meeting with Him. After all, it is said about a blind man that he met the Governor, which does not mean he saw him. In any case, writes Qurtubi, the allusion is to “those who do not believe in the Hereafter, Resurrection, Heaven and Hell.”

[22] The day they see the angels, no joy there will be to the criminals that day, and they will say, ‘A barrier, forbidden altogether.’29

Commentary

29. In classical Arabic the words, “hijran mahjuran” meant, “unlawful and forbidden.” For example, adds Zamakhshari, when someone asked another, “Would you do something like this?” He would reply, “hijr,” (meaning, “God forbid”: Au.). Thus, the words could be attributed to the unbelievers also.

However, according to Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Hasan, Dahhak, Qatadah, `Atiyyah and `Ataa Khurasani, these are the words of angels who will mean to say that entry into Paradise is entirely forbidden unto anyone who did not say the Kalimah (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

[23] And We shall turn to that which they did of deeds and shall render them floating dust scattered about.30

Commentary

30. The “habaa’” of the text is for those ordinarily invisible particles of dust that become visible in a dark room with the penetration of a ray of light. That is how `Ikrimah, Mujahid and Hasan explained it; while others have said that the allusion is to dust. A third opinion is that “habaa’” is spilled water (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir). Another meaning offered by Ibn `Abbas is, “sparks of fire” (Alusi).

We should be warned however, adds Thanwi, not to depend too much on our deeds, which might look good, but lacking the true spirit hardly worth anything. The Prophet has spoken of some people of this Ummah whose deeds will be turned habaa’ on the Day of Judgment. Thanwi then quotes a hadith from Abu Nu`aym. However, its authenticity could not be traced.

Nonetheless, there is one in similar words in Ibn Majah which is declared Sahih in Zawaa’id, as noted in Kanz. It says, “I know a people from among my followers who, on Judgment Day, will come with good deeds like white Tihama mountains. But Allah will turn them to habaa’. Thawban asked, “Messenger of Allah, describe them to us, disclose them to us so that we do not become of them because of our ignorance.” He replied, “Lo! They will be your brothers, of the same skin and would take from the night as you take (your share, [that is, will pray “tahajjud”]) but a people who when they encountered Allah’s forbidden (things), they freely indulged in them.”

[24] Companions of Paradise that day will be of better resort and (shall have) best places of repose.31

Commentary

31. “Mustaqarr” is a place where a man spends most of his time, while “maqeel” where he retires to be with his wife. Altogether however, nine meanings are possible (Alusi). The textual “maqeela” has its root in “Qaala”, of which one of the meanings is to take siesta in the afternoon. Some have speculated – such as Ibn Mas`ud, `Ikrimah and Sa`eed b. Jubayr – that the reckoning for the believers will be all over by the mid-day, after which they will enter Paradise and go for a short nap (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

What is meant, however, speculates Zamakhshari, is that they will engage themselves in some very pleasant activities, since, as we know, there will be no sleep in Paradise.

Alusi says that Ibn Mas`ud’s report has been declared authentic by Hakim.

[25] And, the day the heaven is rent asunder with clouds32 and angels will be sent down in a (magnificent) descent.

Commentary

32. The explanation commonly adopted by the commentators is that the heaven will split open to reveal some special material, of Noor, named clouds here, while another possible understanding according to Zamakhshari and others is that the heavens will split open along with the clouds.

[26] True sovereignty that day will belong to the Merciful. And it will be a day hard upon the unbelievers.

[27] The day the wrongdoer will bite his hands saying, ‘O my (woe), would that I had taken a way along with the Messenger.

[28] O my woe, would that I had not taken so and so for a close friend.33

Commentary

33. The verse is open to application to anyone who befriends an evil man who prevents him from taking the path of the Prophet, although, perhaps the first to whom it was applicable was `Uqba b. Abi Mu`ayt. He took Ubayy b. Khalf as his friend to denounce the Prophet after declaring faith in him, to be thus led into apostasy and blasphemy by an unkindly friend (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

A Muslim should be, cautions Shafi, careful about whom he befriends. The Prophet has said in a report preserved by Bukhari, “A man is on the religion of his friend. So, let him see whom he befriends.” And, as Qurtubi cited, someone asked the Prophet, “Which of our acquaintances are the best?” He answered, “He who reminds you of Allah as you see him, who increases your knowledge when he talks, and whose deeds remind you of the Hereafter.”

Haythami has said that the above Hadith is in Abu Ya`la which has Mubarak b. Hassan as one of the narrators, who has been trusted by some, while the other narrators are those of the Sahih works.

Shafi` also quotes a Hadith in Ahmed, Tirmidhi and Abu Da’ud which says, “Accept not the company but that of a believer and let not your food be partaken but by a pious person.” (This Hadith does not mean that the impious should not be invited to food, but rather, as scholars have explained, it means one shouldn’t get too close to them to be eating and drinking with them (Au.).

Qurtubi also writes: (The Prophet has instructed us about having the right type of friends). He said according to a narration preserved by Muslim, “The example of a good companion and an evil companion is like the carrier of musk and the blower in the bagpipe (the ironsmith). As for the carrier of musk, either he will gift you some or one might buy some from him. Or, in the least, you will find fragrance with him. As for the blower into the bagpipe, either he will burn your clothes or you will get from him an evil smell.” Malik b. Dinar has said, “That you haul stones in the company of the pious is better than that you should eat victuals in the company of the impious.”

[29] Surely, he deviated me from the Admonition after it came to me.’ And (surely) Satan was ever a deserter to man.

[30] And the Messenger will say, ‘My Lord! Truly, my people treated this Qur’an as a (thing to be) discarded.’34

Commentary

34. Another possible rendering for “mahjoor” is “abandoned” while another is “a plaything” (Au.).

Ibn Kathir comments: Not to believe in the Qur’an is to abandon it. Not to ponder over its verses is to abandon it. Not to put its teachings and instructions to practice is to abandon it. And, to spend time in poetry, music or other pastimes, is to abandon it.

[31] Thus have We appointed to every Prophet an enemy from among the criminals;35 but enough is Your Lord as a Guide and a Helper.

Commentary

35. That is, in every age, every Prophet has had his share of enemies to deal with (Au.).

Asad writes: “Also refer 6: 112 which refers in very similar terms to the evil forces (shayateen) against which every prophet has had to contend with. The ‘glittering half-truths meant to delude the mind’ spoken of in that verse are exemplified in the present passage, prophetically, by the deceptive argument that the Qur’an, having been enunciated fourteen centuries ago, must now be considered ‘obsolete.’”

(To be continued)