Verses from Surah al-Isra’ (86-96)

[86] If We Wished, We could take away that which We have revealed unto you;140 then you would find none thereover to plead against Us.


140. Ibn Masu’d explained that a time will come when a wind will blow from the Syrian region after which nothing will be left of the Qur’an neither in print nor in the breasts. In support of this words, Ibn masu’d recited this verse (Ibn Jarir). This report is trustworthy (Quratubi). The report is in Sa’id b. Mansur, Ibn Abi Shaybah, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Tabrani, Hakim, (who declared it Sahih), Ibn Marduwayh and in Bayhaqi’s “Sho’ab al-Imran”. (Dhahabi agreed with Hakim in ruling it as trustworthy: S.Ibrahim). The report has also come through Mu’adh b. Jabal, through Abu Hurayrah in Ibn Abi Hatim and hakim who rated it Sahih, and through Hudhayfah b. al-Yaman in Abu al-Sheikh, Daylami and Ibn Marduwayh (Shawkani).

The report of Hudhaifah says, “The Qur’an will get worn as the print on a cloth (gets worn) until a time will come when people will not know what is fasting, or prayers, or Hajj, or charity. In that phase a time will come to pass on Allah’s Book a night after which not a verse will remain on the earth. Thereafter, very old men and women will say, ‘We found our forefathers saying these words: “there is no god save Allah.” They wouldn’t  know what is prayer, or fast, or Hajj, or charity.” At that Sila (b. Zufar) asked, “Of what benefit will the words ‘there is no god save Allah’ be to them?” Hudhayfah ignored the question. He asked him three times. Hudhayfah finally turned to him and said, “O three times. Hudhayfah finally turned to him and said, “O Sila. It will rescue them from the Fire.” He said it three times.

[87] Except for a mercy from your Lord. Surely, His bounty has ever been great upon you. [88] Say, ‘If the men and Jinn gathered together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they will never produce its like, even if some of them were helpers unto others.141


141. It is said that a group of Jews visited the Prophet (saws) and accused him that what he had brought of the Qur’an was not revelation. They demanded that he should bring a true one, or they will bring something equivalent of what he had brought. In response Allah (swt) revealed this verse (Ibn Jarir).

[89] We have indeed variously expounded for the people in this Qur’an every (manner of) similitude, yet most people refuse except (that they should be) unbelievers. [90] They said, ‘We shall never believe you until you break open for us a spring from the ground. [91] Or you have an orchard of date trees and grapes, and cause rivers to gush forth abundantly in its midst. [92] Or make the heaven fall upon us in fragments, as you claim (will happen),142 or bring God and the angels face to face (before us).


142. They were referring to the Qur’anic statement (34:9), “If We wished, We could make the earth swallow them, or let the heaven fall upon them in fragments” (Zamakshari).

[93] Or you have a house of gold,143  or go right up into the heaven. Yet, we shall never believe in your going up until you bring down on us a book that we may read.’144 Say, ‘Glory to my Lord. Am I anything but a human messenger?145 


143. Although “ornament” is the literal meaning of the textual “zakhruf”, most commentators, such as Ibn Mas’ud, Mujahid, Hasan, Qatadah have explained it as meaning “gold” (Tabari).

144. As context of revelation, it is reported by Ibn Is-haq that once the Quraysh assembled in the Grand Mosque and decided that they should get Muhammad down there and persuade him give up his mission. When the Prophet was told that they wished to see him, he hurried down in hope that they might have at last made up their minds about embracing his message. But when he arrived, one of them said, “We do not know of any individual in our memory who brought such disaster to his own people. You have belittled our forefathers, found fault in our religion, insulated our reason, slandered our gods, and caused division, in short, left nothing that could be brought upon us of the evil. Now, if all that you are looking for by this thing that you have brought is wealth, Well then, we shall pool up enough money to make you the richest of us. If leadership is your aim, we shall declare you a leader. If you have territorial ambition, we will declare you a king over us. But, if it is a Jinn which has overcome you we shall treat you thereof.” A disappointed Prophet told them, “None of it. What I have brought is neither to get some wealth, nor power. But rather, I am Allah’s Messenger sent to you. He has sent down a Book unto me and has commanded me to give glad tidings and warn. So, I have delivered the message. Now it is up to you to accept or reject, then I shall observe patience until Allah decides between me and you.” They said, “Look Muhammad. If you do not accept what we offer you, then, you are aware that ours is the most constricted land on the earth, the most poverty stricken, affording a life of great hardships. So, ask the Lord God who has sent you to remove the mountains, widen the valleys, and break forth rivers like in Syria and Iraq. Also, let Him resurrect for us our forefathers, among them, especially, Qusayy b. Kilab, who was a renowned trustworthy man. We shall ask him about your message. If he says, ‘Yes, it is true,’ we will readily accept it. If you did what we ask, and the resurrected acknowledge you, we will know that you have truly been send by the Lord and shall in that event believe in you.” The Prophet replied, “I haven’t been raised to perform these kind of things. I have been sent with a message. If you accept it, it will be your share in this world and the Hereafter. But if you reject, then I shall observe patience until Allah decides between me and you.” They said, “OK. If you cannot do that, then let the one who raised you send down an angel to attest your messengership. Further, let your Lord provide you with orchards, places and treasures to afford you a comfortable life and relieve you from going about in the market-place, which does not become of you.” The Prophet (saws) replied in more or less the same terms. Exasperated by his refusals, they said, ‘Alright then. Bring down the heaven upon us in fragments, just as you threaten.” The Prophet told them, “That’s in Allah’s hands. If He wishes He will do it.”They replied, “Your Lord knows what we asked. If you can’t do these things, then we shall never believe in you, rather, shall oppose you until either of us is destroyed.” So the Prophet left them. As he was returning ‘Abdullah b. Abu Umayyah – a cousin of his – followed him and told him, “Muhammad. Your people asked you several things. But you even if you went up into the heavens and brought down an open book, returning in the company of four angels attesting that you are a Prophet, Nevertheless,even if you did all these things, I don’t think I’ll believe in you.” Then he left. Back in the assembly Abu Jahl said to others after the Prophet had departed, “Look , my people. Muhammad refused that he will stop insulting our deities. I promise you that if I see him around here prostrating himself, I shall throw a rock on his head’ (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi and others: slightly shortened).

145. The exclamation, “Glory to my Lord” is in response to the pagan demand to bring Allah before them, while the rest of the words, “Am I anything but a human messenger?” are in response to their other demands (Razi).

Yusuf Ali has a nice comment, the last part of which can be neatly applied to many of today’s Muslims, who await for the final victory of Islam and Muslims to miraculously come about:”This ill –assorted and crude jumble of the sort of miracles which the Unbelievers wanted .. is throughout reminiscent of the materialistic imagination of Jewish skeptics, which was mainly responsible for the fall of the Jewish nation. For a thirsty people sojourning in a dry land, the finding of a spring of water as in the story of Moses or of the well of Zamzam is an appropriate miracle. But miracles are not for faithless crowds to gape at.”

[94] And nothing prevented the people from believing when guidance came to them, but that they said, ‘Has Allah sent forth a human as Messenger?’ [95] Say, ‘If there were on the earth angels walking about peacefully, We would have surely sent down upon them an angel as messenger.’146


146. This does not contradict the fact that the Prophet (saws) was sent to the Jinn as well as the humans, since his capabilities were of such class that he was a model for both Jinn and humans. In fact, the Qur’an has expressed only the undesirability of sending an angel to humans as a Messenger, and not the impossibility. Although some scholars, such as, Bayhaqi of the Shafe’iyyah,Mahmood b. Hamza Kirmani of the Hanafiyyah, Zainuddin Iraqi, Razi and a few others, have thought otherwise, yet, scholars like Taqiuddin Subki of the Shafe’iyyah, Jalaluddin mahalli, Ibn Taymiyyah of the hanabilah, and Abdul Haq of the Malikiyyah were of the opinion that our Prophet was sent both to humankind as well as the Jinn. This view is supported by the Prophetic statement in Muslim, “I have been raised for the entire creation”(Alusi).

[96] Say, ‘Allah suffices as a Witness between me and you. He is, indeed, ever Aware of His slaves, ever Observant.’ [97] Whomsoever Allah guides, is the rightly guided; and whomsoever He sent to error, you will never find for them protectors apart from Him.147 And We shall gather them on the Judgment Day on their faces,148 blind, dumb and deaf.149 Hell is their abode. Whenever it subsides, We shall increase for them the Blaze. [98] That is their recompense because they disbelieved in Our signs and said, ‘Shall we, when we are bones and broken bits, be raised up again in a new creation?’


147. Mawdudi comments: “If the door to guidance has been shut against someone by God on account of his love for error and adamant opposition to the truth, and if God has allowed him to proceed along the path of error and evil which he himself wanted to pursue in the first place, then it will be impossible for anyone else to bring him back to the right path. When someone turns away from the truth and feels satisfied with falsehood, God creates the circumstances which make it possible for his hatred for truth and feels satisfied with falsehood to mount. For God does not compel those who intentionally seek error to embrace the truth. Furthermore, it is beyond the power of anyone else to change their hearts.”

148.Since their hearts and spirits were totally inclined towards the earth, it was right that they should be resurrected on their faces (Razi). How will people move on their faces? A report (in the Sahihayn: Ibn Kathir) says that somebody asked the Prophet himself. He answered, “The One who is able to move them on their feet is also able to move them on their faces.” Another hadith in Tirmidhi and Abu Da’ud narrates Abu Hurayrah as reporting the Prophet, “People will be resurrected as three kinds: walking, riding and on their faces (shortened).” Although this is a kind of weak report, it is strengthened by another coming from Abu Dharr of similar meaning and one declared Sahih by Hakim (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi). Those who still wonder about how humans will move on their faces, may consider the snakes (Au.).

149. In view of other Qur’anic verses, (18: 53), “And the criminals will see the Fire and will know that they will fall into it”, or(25: 12), “When it (the Fire) will see them from a distance, they will hear its fury and roaring,” or (25: 13), “There they will call for death,” ‘Ibn ‘Abbas has said that what is meant by the verse in question is that the condemned ones will not see or hear anything pleasant, nor would be allowed to make any excuses (and not that these powers will be taken away altogether). In a second report he said that they will suffer these disabilitiesa at some stage or the other on the Day of Resurrection – Ibn Jarir, Razi.

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