Verses from Surah Al-Hajj (no. 22) (17 – 24)

[17] Those who believed (in earlier Messages), those who turned Jewish, the Sabians,19 the Christians, the Magians, and the polytheists: surely, Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection; indeed Allah is over all things Witness. 


19. Qatadah’s opinion, as in `Abdul Razzaq, `Abd b. Humayd, and Ibn Abi Hatim is that Sabians were a people who oriented themselves to the Qiblah, worshipped angels, and recited the Zabur. (Shawkani)

The Qamus says that they claimed to be on the religion of Nũh and faced North in their Prayers (Alusi). Perhaps, they were many sects and hence the definition has varied (Au.).

Mawdudi adds, although without quoting his sources: “In the olden days, two communities were known as Sabians – the followers of the Prophet John (peace be upon him) who inhabited, in large numbers, the upper region of Iraq called al-Jazirah. They practiced baptism according to the way of the Prophet John. The other community bearing this name consisted of star-worshippers who claimed to follow the religion of the Prophet Shith and Idris (peace be upon them). They believed that the planets held ascendancy over the elements, and that the angels had ascendancy over the planets. Based in Harran, they were scattered over different parts of Iraq. This second group is also known for its mastery of philosophy, science and medicine.” Also see n. 158 & 159 of al-Baqarah and n. 192 of al-Nahl of this work.

[18] Do you not see that to Allah prostrate themselves all who are in the heavens and all who are in the earth,20
the sun and the moon, the stars and the mountains, the trees21 and the animals,22 and a great many of the people? – and many there are who merit chastisement.23 And he whom Allah abases, will have none to honor him. Surely, Allah does what He will.24


20. A hadith of Muslim says: “When a son of Adam prostrates himself (to Allah), Shaytan departs weeping. He says, ‘Woe! Adam’s son was ordered to prostrate himself. He did and will enter Paradise. I too was asked to prostrate myself. I refused and will enter the Fire.’” (Ibn Kathir)

21. Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ibn Hibban (in his Sahih) have recorded Ibn `Abbas as saying that once a man came to the Prophet and said, “I saw in a dream that I am praying behind a tree. I prostrated and the tree fell in prostration with me and I heard it saying: ‘O Allah, write it down for me thereby a reward with You, remove from me a sin thereby, store it for me as a treasure with you, and accept it from me as you accepted from Your slave Da’ud.’ After some time, the Prophet happened to recite a prostration verse. He prostrated himself and I heard him repeat the same words in his prostration.” (Ibn Kathir)

22. Accordingly, we have a report from the Prophet preserved by Ahmad. It says, “(The Prophet said), Ride them safely and leave them safe and sound. Do not use them as chairs for chat sessions on the road or in the markets. Sometimes the one ridden is better than the rider. It is more remembering of Allah the Exalted than him.” (Ibn Kathir)

The above report was declared weak by Shu`ayb Arna’ut. (Au.)

Alusi writes that various Arab tribes worshipped various objects. The Himyar tribe worshipped the Sun, the Kinanah the moon, the Tamim the Hyades (a constellation of five stars: Au.), Lakhm and Quraysh Sirius, Tayy the Pleiades, Asad the Mercury, Rabi`a one of the Orion stars, Ghatafan the `Uzza (which was a dry samurrah tree, while a few others worshipped the cow. Over and above these, most of the Arabs also worshipped stones and idols that they carved from the mountains. The Qur’an told them that those you worship are themselves devoted to Allah.

23. Mujahid’s opinion was that there are many who believe in Allah and prostrate themselves to Him, while there are many who prostrate themselves but do not believe in Him and hence deserve to be punished. Ibn Jarir however disagrees with this meaning, and opts for the apparent meaning, viz., some have believed and so prostrate themselves, while there are others who do not believe and do not prostrate themselves, and so deserve to be punished.

24. Ibn Kathir comments on Allah’s will. It is said that someone told `Ali, “This man disputes over predestination and Divine decree.” `Ali asked him, “O Allah’s slave! Did Allah create you in form and shape following His own will or yours?” He answered, “Rather, as He wished.” He asked, “He makes you fall sick when He wills or when you will?” He answered, “Rather, when He wills.” He asked, “He restores your health when He wills or when you will?” He answered, “Rather, when He wills.” He asked, “Will He then admit you (into Paradise by the gate of) His choice or yours?” He answered, “Rather, by His wish.” At that, `Ali said, “By Allah, had you answered differently, I would have struck you with a sword in the area that carries your two eyes.”

[19] These two are two disputants who disputed concerning their Lord.25 Those who disbelieved will have garments cut out for them of Fire. Boiling water will be poured over their heads. 


25. Apparently, the allusion is to the two groups mentioned in verse 17 above: the believers of all times on one side and the unbelievers of all times on another (Au.). However, Abu Dharr’s sworn opinion is that the immediate reference was to the six of the Quraysh: Hamza b. `Abd al-Muttallib, `Ali b. Abi Talib and `Ubaydah b. al-Harith on the one side, and `Utbah b. Rabi`ah, Shaybah b. Rabi`ah and Walid b. `Utbah, on the other side. They met in duels at Badr.

Another opinion, and the prevalent one, says Ibn Jarir, is that the allusion is to the monotheists and pagans of all time. This, of course, does not deny the credibility of Abu Dharr’s explanation. (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi)

Abu Dharr’s report is in Bukhari (Ibn Kathir), and his opinion seems to be the correct one. (Qurtubi)

[20] Whereby, that which is in their bellies will be melted, and the skins (too).26 


26. Abu Hurayrah has reported the Prophet as having said: “Boiling water will be poured over their heads. It will penetrate their skulls to reach its inner end. It will eat off all that is therein and leak down to reach his feet. That is the melting. Thereafter, the man will be restored to the former state once again.” (Ibn Jarir)

The report is also in Tirmidhi who rated it Hasan Sahih. (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir)

Ibn Abi Hatim has another report. It records `Abdullah b. Sirri as having said, “An angel will come to him with a vessel held by means of two hooks because of its heat. When he brings it close to the man’s face, he will try to avert it. The angel will hit him with a hooked rod that will open his head. He will empty the vessel in his brain. The liquid will go down from there to reach his stomach. It is in reference to this that Allah said, ‘(Boiling water will be poured over their heads) by which will be melted that within their stomachs, as also the skins’ (Ibn Kathir).

[21] And for them are hooked iron rods.27


27. A hadith in Ahmad reports the Prophet, “Were the hooked rod brought to the earth and mankind and jinn asked to lift it, they wouldn’t be able to.”

According to another hadith, also in Ahmad, “If the hooked rod was used to strike a mountain, it would render it to dust. And, if a bucket of pus was poured on earth, the whole world would stink. (Ibn Kathir, shortened)

However, Albani’s opinion is that the report is weak. (S. Ibrahim)

 [22] Every time they wish to get out of it – from anguish – they will be returned to it.28 And (it will be said), ‘Taste the chastisement of burning.’


28. That is, whenever they find the door opened for some purpose, they will try to escape through it; but the Keepers of Hell will drag them back with the help of hooked iron rods. (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi and others)

[23] Surely, Allah will admit those who believed and worked righteous deeds to gardens beneath which rivers flow. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold29 and pearls,30 and their attires therein will be of silk.31


29. The Prophet has said in a hadith of the Sahihayn, “A believer’s jewelry will end where his ablution ends.” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir)

30. Some have understood the verse as, “They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and (with) pearls,” and not as “adorned therein with bracelets of gold and pearls.” But it sounds more correct to render it as, “They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and silver.” (Qurtubi)

31. It might be recalled that, according to report in Nasa’i, the Prophet said, “Whoever wore silk in this world, will not wear it in the Hereafter. Whoever drank wine in this world will not drink it in the Hereafter. And whoever drank out of gold and silver ware in this world will not drink out of them in the Hereafter.” Then he added, “(These are) the attires of the people of Paradise, drinks of the people of Paradise and vessels of the people of Paradise.”

The report is in Mustadrak of Hakim which Dhahabi declared trustworthy. (Au.)

However, some scholars have thought that the prohibition will remain until a man has been through the punishment and until he has entered Paradise. Once in there, the ban will be removed. But, the apparent words do not lend support to such a meaning. What they convey, rather, is that even if they entered Paradise, they will be denied these things. Indeed, this is confirmed by another sound report coming through Abu Sa`id al-Khudri. The Prophet said, “He who wore silk in this world, will not wear it in the Hereafter even if he entered Paradise. Others in Paradise will wear it, but not he” (Qurtubi).

The above report is also from Hakim’s Mustadrak and declared trustworthy by Dhahabi (Au.).

[24] They were guided 32 to the Good Word, and they were guided to the path of the Praiseworthy.33


32. Ibn `Abbas interpreted the term “hudu” as “they were inspired” (Ibn Jarir).

33. Referring to the words, “They were guided to the Good Word,” Tabari reports Ibn Zayd as having said that the following is the Good Word: ‘Lā ilāha illa Allah, wa Allahu Akbar, wa al-Hamdulillah.

Some others have said that the allusion is to the Qur’an, yet others that it is words of supplication that are meant. Ibn `Abbas said that the allusion is to the testimony (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).

As regards the words, “They were guided to the path of the Praiseworthy,” the allusion is the guidance to the place where, as a trustworthy hadith says, “They will be inspired with praises and hymns, as one is inspired with the breathing action (Ibn Kathir).

The above is part of a hadith in Muslim (Au.).

 (To be continued)

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