Verses from Surah al-Mu’minun (62 – 71)

[62] And We charge not any soul save to its capacity. And with Us is a Book that speaks the Truth,69 and they shall not be wronged.70

Commentary

69. The allusion is to the Record of deeds (Ibn Jarir).

70. Majid comments: “(the wicked receiving never more than their due, and the virtuous receiving never less than their due).”

[63] Nay, but their hearts are (covered) in bewilderment over this,71 and they have deeds besides that, of which they are workers.72

Commentary

71. “Over this,” i.e., over the Qur’an, whether it is a revelation or not (Ibn Jarir).

72. That is, apart from their disbelief in Allah and doubts over the Qur’an, they have other evil deeds with which they carry on. That is how Mujahid, Abu al-`Aaliyyah and others have explained it. They also expressed the possibility that there are other (evil) deeds that they are yet to perform, and which they will necessarily attempt (Qurtubi, Ibn Jarir).

Nonetheless, Abu Muslim’s opinion was that the pronoun in “lahum” is for those who hasten in good deeds: i.e., those who are believers, do good deeds, but are in fear that their efforts might not be acceptable after all. It is these who have “deeds other than that,” i.e., supererogatory good deeds that they put forward in hope of winning salvation; in which case, Razi adds, “ghamrah” (rendered as covered here) would be interpreted as (hearts of the believers) “covered in thoughts and apprehensions.” Alusi’s own opinion is that this is not an interpretation that one can feel comfortable with.

[64] Till, when We seize their affluent ones with chastisement, at once they are groaning (in supplication).73

Commentary

73. Apart from groaning, the root word “ja’ara” carries several other connotations such as the oxen’s low, raising of the voice in supplication, submission and humility, or, vocally pleading, seeking help, etc. And, as Ibn Zayd, Ibn Jurayj and others have pointed out, that happened at Badr (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari).

According to Ibn Jurayj, the allusion by “those who were seized” was to those that died at Badr, while by “ja’ara” it is to those that were left in Makkah to moan, lament, and cry out their grief. Historians tell us that the Makkans mourned the loss at Badr for weeks during which their women would throw cloaks on the horses of the dead and parade them around in the city. But, adds Alusi, it seems more likely that the allusion is to what is going to happen in the Hereafter.

[65] Groan not today; you shall certainly not be helped by Us.

[66] Indeed, My revelations74 used to be recited upon you, but you would turn away on your heels, 

Commentary

74. The translations of “aayaat” as revelations reflects the understanding of several commentators such as Qurtubi (Au.).

[67] Waxing proud against it,75 uttering non-sense76 in nightly sessions.77

Commentary

75.  “Against it:” to what is the allusion by “it?” Ibn `Abbas, Hasan, Qatadah and Dahhak – as in Ibn Jarir – have said that the allusion is to the Haram. That is, by virtue of it. In other words, the Makkans waxed proud because of the Haram around which they lived.

Other commentators also mention the above possibility.

76. “Uttering nonsense” is the translation of “tahjuruun” (textually occurring at the end of the verse). Its second possible meaning is, “they abandon” or “ignore” (the Truth) – Ibn Jarir and others. A third meaning is, points out Alusi, “obscenity.”

77. The translation of “saamiran” as nightly conversation follows the understanding of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Sa`eed ibn Jubayr. A second interpretation is that the word lends the meaning of “being at peace.” That is, they were at peace that by virtue of they being custodians of the Grand Mosque, they would not be chastised (Ibn Jarir).

Literally, “samara” is for moonlit night. It is in such nights that the people sat down in groups gossiping away their time (Shafi` and others).

Asad adds: “In combination with the phrase kuntum … tahjuruun, this expression indicates the pursuit of endless, fruitless discussions divorced from all reality, or a mere play with words leading nowhere.”

Depending on where a comma is placed in the verse, it could have different meanings. The present translation places it after “bihi”. But, if it is placed earlier, then the rendering will be, “Waxing proud, uttering non-sense thereof in nightly sessions,” in which case two other interpretations can be offered (Au.). One, the allusion by the preceding “bihi” is to the Haram. That is, they defile the Haram by conducting their nightly sessions there, talking nonsense. And two, the allusion is to the Prophet about whom they uttered all kinds of baloney in their nightly conversations (Ibn Kathir).

In view of this verse Ibn `Abbas has thought, according to a report declared trustworthy by Hakim, that it is undesirable to spend time in nightly gossips (Shawkani).

Qurtubi adds: A report preserved in Muslim says that the Prophet used to delay the `Ishaa Prayer until the first third part of the night and disapproved of sleep before and gossip after it. The disapproval of sleep before the Prayers was because of the fear of one missing it. As for gossip after it, it was disapproved because one might talk of the disapproved things and sleep over it as the last deed of the day. One should rather terminate the day with a good deed. After all, Allah has created the night for rest. He said (25: 47): “It is He who made for you the night a means of cover, the sleep (a means of) rest and made the day for spreading about.

Nonetheless, if one stays awake at night seeking knowledge, then there is no harm. Several reports from the Prophet and early Muslims lead to this opinion.

[68] Have they not reflected over the Word, or78 there has come to them what came not to their fathers of old?79

Commentary

78. Ibn `Abbas treated the textual “am” as “bal.” That reverses the meaning of the verse which would then read as, “Nay, there has come to them what came not to their fathers of old” (Ibn Jarir).

79. (The good qualities of the Prophet were never hidden from the Quraysh. He was not simply one of them, but rather someone who was from one of their core families). Historians have preserved a sound report which says that the day he married Khadijah (fifteen years before he was commissioned), his uncle Abu Talib addressed the marriage party comprised of Quraysh and Mudar tribes in the following words: “Praise to God who made us the offspring of Ibrahim, the seeds of Isma`il, the stock of Ma`add, the race of Mudar, the guardians of His House, the custodians of His Haram, who provided us a home that is visited for pilgrimage, a sanctuary of peace, placing us over the common people as their rulers. As for this son of my brother, Muhammad, the son of Abdullah, he cannot be weighed against anyone but will be found weightier. As for the fact that he is a man of poor means, (I might remind that) wealth after all is one of those things that slip away fast. Now Muhammad, being of those whose family connections you know well, has asked Khadijah’s hand – the daughter of Khuwaylid – offering her as mahr, part paid out in cash, and part pending, out of my wealth. And, by God, I believe he has a good future before him” (Alusi).

[69] Or, did they not recognize their Messenger, that they are (of) him deniers?80

Commentary

80. The allusion is to the fact that the Arabs contemporary to the Prophet were not unfamiliar with stories and traditions of the Middle-eastern Prophets who had in the past brought the message of God’s Oneness. They were also familiar with the Peninsula Messengers such as Hud, Salih and Shu`ayb, whose accounts they had received, even if sketchily, from their elders. Finally, they greatly revered Ibrahim and Isma`il, whom they regarded as their own Prophets (Au.: with the substance from Mawdudi).

Shabbir adds: This verse seemingly contradicts another verse (36: 6) which says, “In order that you might warn a people whose forefathers were not warned.”

But that is not correct. For, the present verse is speaking of the distant forefathers, whereas that of Surah Yaa Seen is speaking of the immediate forefathers.

[70] Or, do they say he is possessed?81 Nay, he has brought them the Truth but most of them are averse to Truth.82

Commentary

81. Majid remarks: “Note a reverberation of the old pagan priggishness in the dictum of a modern Christian: ‘The fundamental thing in him was that he was a pathological case.’ (MacDonald, Aspects of Islam, p. 63).”

82. “I.e., they hate to admit the truth: the reason being – as the sequence shows – that the world-view propounded by the Qur’an is not in accord with their own likes and dislikes or preconceived notions” (Asad).

Ibn Kathir reports Qatadah as having said, “It was reported to us that the Prophet met a man and told him, ‘Come to believe.’ He replied, ‘You invite me to a thing that I have an aversion to.’ The Prophet told him, ‘Even if you are averse to it.’ It is also reported that he told another man, ‘Come to believe.’ But it distressed him (to hear) and he thought himself above it. The Prophet told him, ‘Consider. If you were on a rugged and toilsome path and then met a man whom you know by face and by family, and he invites you to an easier path, will you follow him?’ The man replied, ‘Yes.’ He told him, ‘By Him in whose hands is Muhammad’s life, you are in a most rugged path if you remained on it, and I am inviting you to a path easier than it if you followed it.’ It is also reported to us that the Prophet once told a man ‘Come to believe.’ But it distressed him too. So he asked him, ‘Consider. If you knew two young men: one of them when he speaks, speaks the truth, and when you trust him with something he keeps the trust. Would he be preferable to you or he who, when he speaks he lies, and when trusted, fails?’ The man replied, ‘Of course the man who, when he speaks, speaks the truth, and when trusted, fulfills the trust.’ So the Prophet told him, ‘That is how you are in relation to your Lord.’”

[71] Had the Truth83 followed their caprices, surely the heavens and the earth and all those within them would have been ruined.84 Nay, We have brought them their admonition, but they are turning away from their admonition.

Commentary

83. Suddi, Abu Saleh and Ibn Jurayj have said that by “Haq” at this point, the allusion is to Allah. That is, “Had Allah followed…” (Ibn Jarir). Such as, for example, their suggestion (43: 31), “Why has not this Qur’an been sent down upon a man from the two great townships?” (Ibn Kathir).

84. Far from the entire universe, even if a village should be subjected to whimsical desires, it will meet with its destruction (Shabbir).

SayyidQutb comments: “‘And, had the Truth followed their caprices, surely the heavens and the earth and all those within them would have been corrupted,’ for Truth is one, a single entity, whereas caprices are many and changeable. It is by one Truth that the world – the whole of it – can be successfully run. Its laws do not deviate (from their course) following someone’s caprice. Its ways do not change following casual suggestions. Had the Truth followed all that deviated, capricious thoughts, or casual suggestions advocate, all would be destroyed: moral values, rules, principles, in fact, the humankind itself. Scales and standards of judgment would have become a potpourri, and the whole of it would have swung between anger and pleasure, dislike and grudge, fear and hope, activity and passivity, and the rest of caprices, emotions, agitations and other influencing factors. Whereas, the nature of the existing universe, and its movement in the direction of a destination both require firmness, constancy and continuity on a firm principle, and a designed path, that neither alters nor swings in different directions, nor deviates (even momentarily).

“Following the above model adopted for the construction and running of the universe, Islam made human life and its law a part of the above principle – the whole being looked after by Him who takes care of the whole universe as well as its component parts. Man then is a single component, a small part, of a universe that is submitted to the laws laid down for the whole. It is right and proper that He alone should lay down the laws for man who lays down the laws for the universe and runs both in wonderful coherence. Hence, the laws governing the world cannot bend down to man’s will, which would simply destroy the whole.”

Mawdudi has another point to bring to our notice: “…how can facts constantly conform to a myriad of mutually conflicting wishes? Foolish people fail to appreciate that if there is any discordance between their wishful thinking and reality, then it is their wishful thinking that is to blame rather than reality. In denying reality, such people cause no harm to it per se, instead they only harm themselves.

“This immense system of the universe is based on well-established realities and inalterable laws. Living in the framework of such a universe, it is imperative that man strive to bring his thoughts, wishes and conduct in conformity with reality. He should constantly apply himself, with the help of rational argument, experience and observation, to what reality indeed is. It is only the puerile who, at both mental and practical levels, adamantly cling to their preconceptions, wishes and biases and who attempt to show those realities as conforming to their preconceived ideas.”

(To be continued)