Asalaam alaikum warahmatulah wabarakatuh
Miracle Dream Tafseer – Nouman Ali Khan
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This Surah ‘Alaq has a similar theme to the Previous Surah (at-Teen).
Surah Teen; – Allah told how He honored the human being by mentioning that man is created in the best form.
In this surah ‘Alaq, Allah tells us how man rebels (yatgha) – even though he is given such high potential.
Parallels between surah at-Teen and ‘Alaq:
In at-Teen: KhalaqNa al insan – We created Insan/man. – 1st person speech – signifies closeness (because in that surah, Allah tells how He made human in the best form.)
Surah ‘Alaq; – aladhee khalaqa al insan – He who created man. – 3rd person speech – signifies some distance (because in this surah, Allah tells us the lowly beginning of the human, and He will tell us how man rebels against Him and Allah’s Messenger.)
- Iqra’ wa rabbuk al Akram – Recite, and your Lord is the Most Generous (ayah 3) – Allah ascribes Nobility to Himself in this surah – Akram – the best Noble.
In the previous surah, the great Messengers’ of Allah’s nobility (kareem) as the best people of humanity was being described.
- In this surah Alaq, Allah tells us a little bit more how the human race is created in the best form / ahsani taqweem (i.e. because Allah has given it an intellect).
The ‘Aql [Intellect] hadeeth;
Cited by Raghib al Isfahani;
Ma khalaqallahu khalqan akrama alayhi min al ‘aql. (hadith)
Allah did not create a creation more noble than the ‘aql/intellect.
One of the things that makes the human so noble is the fact that Allah blessed him with an intellect.
Allah describes in this surah what the intellect allows man to do;
Use the pen.
Understand what Allah has taught man of what he did not know.
Activites of the intellect.
In the previous surah Teen;, Allah tells us we are created in the best fashion, and now He is telling us what humans can do – which no other animals can do perfectly. Your ability to learn and implement what Allah taught you.
at-Teen – thumma radadnahu asfala safileen – Allah rejected him because he became the lowest of the low.
Surah ‘Alaq – Allah tells us how he became the lowest of the low. Allah tells is in this surah the psyche/mindset of the one who turns into the lowest of the low.
Towards the end of the surah at-Teen;
what kind of wretched person would lie against you (O Muhammad)?
Surah ‘Alaq; Allah answers that in this surah by telling us about the wretched person (Abu Jahl) who lied against the message given to Prophet Muhammad.
Last ayah of at-Teen. Allah tells us that He is the wisest of Judges.
In this surah (‘alaq), Allah tells us that His judgment against the one who rebels and prevents His slaves from prayer. (ayah 15-16).
at-Teen – tells us that He is the Wisest of the Wise (ahkam al hakimeen) in the last ayah.
Surah Alaq; In the beginning of this surah, He tells us to recite Iqra’ – the Qur’an, to recite His wise aayaat/verses, so that we benefit from His wisdom.
at-Teen; Emaan and ‘amilus-salihaat.
when you do good – your emaan increases.
And when you have emaan, doing good deeds increases it more;
Surah ‘Alaq: wasjud waqtarib [last ayah] – prostrate and get closer (to Allah).
Prostration to Allah increases you in Emaan.
- This surah ‘Alaq is specific, the previous Surah Teen was more general:
I.e. i: Allah’s Messenger is specifically being spoken about here, before it was general.
ii: Allah told us He created the human in the best form (at-Teen). Now He tells us how He created with details (min ‘alaq).
iii: Allah told us the human can go to the lowest of the low, now He tells us a specific example of how someone went low.
iv: what kind of person would reject you (O Muhammad)? surah at-Teen.
This surah has the details of (Abu Jahl’s) rejection.
Introduction of the Surah:
Before the coming of Allah’s final Messenger, the world was living in times of darkness and oppression. Prophet Jesus was the Messenger of Allah sent before to the Jews, which was about 600 years earlier before the declaration of Prophethood of Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah (sal Allah alaihi wasalam).
So for 600 years mankind is in darkness, when suddenly – Allah brings a light which will shine over the Earth and remove its darkness.
The reason why we mention this is because alot of scholars say that this is the first surah to be revealed (its first 5 aayaat). Although there are a few other scholars who say that surah Mudathir, or surah al Fatiha were the first surahs’ to be revealed. But there is a way to reconcile all these opinions as we discuss the surah later on insha’ Allah.
But generally most scholars say that the first 5-6 aayaat in this surah are the first to be revealed to Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah (sal Allah alaihi wasalam / peace and blessings upon him).
A long narration in Sahih al Bukhari and Muslim, where Aa’isha asked the Messenger of Allah how did revelation begin.
Imam Ahmad recorded that `A’ishah said: The first thing that began happening with the Messenger of Allah from the revelation was dreams that he would see in his sleep that would come true. He would not see any dream except that it would come true just like the (clearness of) the daybreak in the morning. Then seclusion became beloved to him. So, he used to go to the cave of Hira’ and devote himself to worship there for a number of nights, and he would bring provisions for that. Then he would return to Khadijah and replenish his provisions for a similar number of nights. This continued until the revelation suddenly came to him while he was in the cave of Hira’. The angel came to him while he was in the cave and said, “Read!” The Messen- ger of Allah said,
«فَقُلْتُ: مَا أَنَا بِقَارِىء»
(I replied: “I am not one who reads.) Then he said, “So he (the angel) seized me and pressed me until I could no longer bear it. Then he released me and said: `Read!’ So I replied: `I am not one who reads.’ So, he pressed me a second time until I could no longer bear it. Then he released me and said:
[اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِى خَلَقَ ]
(Read in the Name of your Lord who has created.) until he reached the Ayah,
[مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ]
(That which he knew not. )’‘
So he returned with them (those Ayat) and with his heart trembling until he came (home) to Khadijah, and he said,
(Wrap me up, wrap me up!) So they wrapped him up until his fear went away. After that he told Khadijah everything that had happened (and said),
«قَدْ خَشِيتُ عَلَى نَفْسِي»
(I fear that something may happen to me.) Khadijah replied, “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your relatives, you speak the truth, you help the poor and the destitute, you serve your guests generously, and you help the deserving, calamity afflicted people.”
Tafseer ibn Katheer – Surah Alaq;
subh – just as he was sure the sun rised that day, thats how clear his dreams came true.
Khala – solitude
tahannafa – ward/wash sins off yourself (he wanted to remove the evils of society from himself).
He was alone and thinking, but what was he actually thinking about?
Who created me? What is the purpose of life?
Other scholars say; Allah’s Messenger was already a human right activist [research Hilf ul Fudul – the Pact of Benefit].
This is proven through the statement of Khadija, who said to him; you help the orphan, oppressed, needy etc.
Allah’s Messenger would wish that he could get rid of humanity’s problems, because no matter how much he tried to support the oppressed – the corruption in society only increased.
So Allah gave him a message which would provide a perfect guidance as a connection between Allah and His slave, and the perfect guidance between man and society.
An arabic saying; “A true compliment is what comes from the enemy.”
Michael H. Hart;
“My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level.”
[The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, New York: Hart Publishing Company, Inc. 1978, p. 33]
People who affect society as a whole
Philosophers: These people attempt to provide solutions for humanity. I.e. Communists, Democrats etc. They say they came up with the ideas with their own thoughts. These people are usually arrogant.
Messengers: Solutions to better humanity, from God. These are the most noble and humble people.
1- The first intellect is the knowledge of the senses (5 senses).
2- Inferred knowledge - i.e. Seeing smoke probably means fire.
3 – Knowledge of the heart (in the Soul). Intuition, 6th sense, higher sense of awareness etc. I.e. Istikharah prayer, true dream etc.
3b: Revelation (wahy) comes to the Messengers’ upon their hearts.
The philosophers do not have this type of knowledge.
اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ
Iqra/ bi-ismi rabbika allazhee khalaq
Recite in the name of your Lord who created -
This is one of the surahs’ which begins with a command.
The way it was Revealed has been mentioned in the Introduction.
Allah is telling the masses who are unread to read. So the Arabs who were predominantly illiterate people became the leaders of the greatest civilization which encouraged the high class, and lower classes equally to become literate, and become of the most knowledgeable civilizations in the world.
We developed the modern universities. The PHD system in Universities today developed from the Ijaazah system of the Muslim past. The maths education spread amongst Muslims like no other. High academics and research developed into complex fields by Muslims, and was not just ‘passed on from the Greeks’ as some misinformed intellectuals are mistaken to believe. Rather, Muslims had over 1000 years of advanced civilization (from 700 CE – 1700 CE – ironically this part in history is ignored in Western timelines – which attempt to show the advance of mankind from Dark Ages to Light.)
The Qur’an which was not compiled in a collected Book form in the life of Allah’s Messenger (it was memorized and written on different materials by his companions) – became the most influential Book in the World since it’s time in history. It became the Mother of Books (Um ul Kitab), with it being the most discussed Book since it’s time.
A book which would have thousands upon thousands of books around the different continents on the Earth, all quoting this one Book.
We have the Scripture in our hands
In the Christian [Catholic] tradition, one of the ways the altered Bible was allowed to be promoted was only through the Pope reading it to the masses. The normal people could not recite it, and the companions of Jesus who had the real Injeel would be burnt alive with their real Books.
The Protestant movement rebelled from this group and said the normal people should be able to read it too.
This is why the Protestant’s have Bible Study and the Catholics do not.
The same is in other religions like Hinduism where the Brahmin’s can only recite the holy book, and the lower castes cannot.
At the time of the sending of the Qur’an, reciting the holy books yourself was unheard of. “Do you want to connect directly to God yourself?” They made religious knowledge classified so that they could interpret it their own way without anyone questioning their ideas of wanting control.
They can’t say ‘whats your evidence?’
We were a culture which would read our books for ourselves without an official infallible authority except the Messenger of Allah himself.
The hindus had an official group of people who claimed to be infallible in their decision making;
- Hindus had Pundits
– Christians had Clergy (in the Vatican)
– Pharoahs‘ of Egypt had the Pharoahs’ who claimed to descend from the gods – implying they have the right to legislate and no-one can question their rules.
- Islam came and told us that the only ones between us and Allah/God, are the humble Messengers who are telling you to read for yourselves, and to depend on Allah alone.
This changed the entire understanding of religion.
Iqra’ bismi Rabbika
1 – Read the Name of your Master (i.e. bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem)
2 – Read what has been revealed to you from your Master.
Allah’s Messenger would fulfill this command throughout his life (for the remaining 23yrs) since the Day he got this command. So he would recite the Qur’an revealed to him to the people.
3 - Read with the support (bi) / help of your Lord.
4 - Read in the Name of your Master.
When you recite – you are making the people know that the Qur’an is Allah’s words (by saying the basmallah at the beginning). It is not the words of Prophet Muhammad nor Angel Jibreel. So you are not rejecting the words of him, but you are rejecting the words of Allah, your Lord/Master.
a- Allah spoke the Qur’an and recorded it in the Lawh al Mahfoodh (Book form)
b- Speech - Recited by Jibreel – to Allah’s Messenger, who recited it to his companions.
c- Compiled as a Book (by his companions – by Uthman bin Affan and Zayd bin Thabit – the copy is preserved today in Topkapi Museum, Turkey).
A Book however, is different to speech. So Allah chose to reveal it in speech form.
Differences Between Speech and Book Format:
The way I speak is not the way I write.
You make mistakes in speech, but books are edited and grammatically edited for formality.
The Messenger is given the Book (of Qur’an from Lawh al Mahfoodh) in speech form. So Allah is telling His Messenger to Iqra’ (Read) – just like he is reading/reciting off a book.
This is what shocked the ‘Arabs. ‘How can he speak so grammatically and perfectly without mistakes, and without reading from a Book?’
Even those who disbelieved had an argument that maybe he is getting it written down by somebody. But how could he read if he was illiterate?
And you did not recite before it any scripture, nor did you inscribe one with your right hand. Otherwise the falsifiers would have had [cause for] doubt. [Ankaboot 29:48]
Say, [O Muhammad], “O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allah to you all, [from Him] to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no deity except Him; He gives life and causes death.” So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered [Umiy] prophet, who believes in Allah and His words, and follow him that you may be guided. [al A’raf 7:158]
Umiy [= illiterate] – Mother - you do not know how to read or write, the same way you did not know the day you were born from your mother.
..he [Muhammad] does not speak of his own desire, it is only revelation revealed to him. (Najm 53: 3-4)
So Allah’s Messenger does not recite for his own fame, but for Allah’s sake.
Rabbika aladhee khalaq
the Master who created
al Aloosi in Rooh al Ma’ani
Allah attributed his Mastery/Lordship over His attribute of Creating, because of his acts – this establishes His authority over what He has made.
So whatever He does with it is His choice. He has full rights over it.
Khalaq – Created = He has full rights over you more than anyone else, since He owns you.
This is a continuous pattern in the Qur’an, creation is associated with Rabb (Master). [see Zukhruf etc.]
Allah’s Messenger would be bullied by the people now for calling them against the polytheistic religion of their fathers to Allah’s way. He had hardly any political power because he was an orphan, and his own uncles were his worst opponents, so even his powerful tribe could not support his message. All he was in the sight of people is that he is an honest businessman.
So Allah tells him; Read with the Name of your Master. So the people know that you are not saying they are your own words.
The Power will come from Allah, and know that Allah is the One who created them too.
aladhee khalaq – who created…
created what?It is mutlaqan = what He created is not specified, so it can refer to Him having created everything.
خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ
Khalaqa al-insana min AAalaq
Created man from a clinging substance.
khalaqal insan – created man.
Allah has described that He has created everything by not specificying in the previous ayah, and even more specifically – the human, in this ayah.
min (from) ‘alaq;
‘Alaq – ‘aliqa – to cling and to hang off.
The sperm reaches the egg, and hangs off it. This is studied in modern embryology, and was not known at the time of Allah’s Messenger in such detail.
‘alaq – a clot of blood, more literally a piece of wet sticky fluid which hangs off something.
Like mu‘allaqa – that which hangs off.
mu’allaqaat - this was the title for famous poems which were written, and hung off [mu’allaq] the Ka’ba by the pre-Islamic Arabs.
That term is also used for marriage, when the husband has a wife but he isn’t treating her fully like a wife. So she is stuck to you, but left Hanging on in the marriage.
سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ ۗ أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ
Soon We shall show them Our signs on the furthest horizons, and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is truth. Is it not enough that your Lord witnesses all things?
When Allah mentions the creation of the human being, He mentions 3 words;
- Nutfa amshaj (sperm drop) – نطفة أمشاج
– Salsaal (dry clay) – صلصال
– Teen (clay) – طين
He mentions man’s origins to prove;
1 – Ressurection.The One who can make you from a fluid can easily bring your body back to life.
2- This fluid which seemed worthless turns into such a complex being which has the potential to rule the entire world.
When things have high capabilities should do high levels of good purpose. This shows the higher purpose the human was made for.
3 – To humble the human. You were a liquid which was worthless and your parents wanted to wash it off their clothes quickly. So your high positioned job/looks/wealth/status should not make you feel so arrogant.
اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُ
Iqra’ wa Rabukka al Akram
Recite and your Master is the Most Noble.
So we see Allah describes the lowly origin of man, then He describes Himself as the Most Noble.
Karam in arabic is something which should be respected for what it is. So us being a lowly clot of blood is not honorable, but Allah is truly honorable. It is Allah who honored us.
وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَاهُم مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَىٰ كَثِيرٍ مِّمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلًا
And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference. [Israa’ 17:70]
Iqra’ [Read] - Allah’s Messenger is being encouraged a second time to Read again.
Allah is enobling His Messenger again by telling him to read. This is because Allah’s Messenger will be insulted many times by the disbelievers, so he has to be reminded that he is reciting for Allah – who is the most Noble and honorable. And by Allah chooosing him for the reciting of His message – He has honored him above the rest of mankind.
الَّذِي عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ
Alladhee AAallama bilqalam
Who taught by the pen -
the One who taught by means of the Pen.
1 – Hadith 1;
[ أول من خلق الله قلم فى قال الله له أكتب ]
- awalu man khalaqallahu qalam, fa qaal Allahu uktub.
The first thing Allah created was the pen, and He told it to write…
2 – All knowledge we have in the world today is due to someone writing knowledge and passing it onto the later generations.
Allah has said Iqra’ (Read) twice, and He has said ‘Alam-ma (learn) twice. This is a strong emphasis on Reading and Learning and gaining knowledge for humanity.
He has also mentioned Qalam (the Pen), which signifies writing knowledge you have Learnt (‘Alam-ma). This knowledge will then allow people to Read (Iqra’) that knowledge to benefit themselves and humanity and future generations.
Allah swore by the Qalam [the Pen and what it writes] in surah Qalam (68:1). Which shows its greatness in the sight of Allah.
The pen is a means of preserving knowledge, and this is why He honors it, and He makes His angels preserve records of our actions through the use of the Pen.
من سالكة طريقا يلتمس به علمن سهل له الله طريق الجنه
- man salaka tareeqan yaltamisu bihi ‘ilmun sahala lahu Allahu tareeq al jannah
(whoever takes up a path in which he is trying to gain knowledge, Allah will make the path to Paradise easy for him).
خيركم من تعلم القرآن و علمه
- khayrukum man ta’alamul qur’an wa ‘alamahu-
the best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.
Learning the Qur’an is the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger. Teaching the Qur’an is not just the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger, but also Allah’s Sunnah. (‘alama al qur’an [He (Allah) taught the Qur’an] – Surah Rahman 55:2).
Qalam – Allah alluded to the fact that Allah taught humans the Qur’an, but He guaranteed it will also be penned / documented.
عَلَّمَ الْإِنسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ
AAallama al-insana ma lamyaAAlam
[He] taught the human what he could not know/did not know.
Similar to the ayah:
فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَمَا عَلَّمَكُم مَّا لَمْ تَكُونُوا تَعْلَمُونَ
So remember Allah, as He taught you that which you did not know. [Baqarah 2:239]
The 3rd type of knowledge mentioned earlier could not be learnt through the intellect alone like Philosophers claim.
This knowledge was the Revelation (wahy).
Allah’s Messenger was the first student of this knowledge, and then the teacher who conveyed it to mankind.
‘ilm [knowledge], qalam [pen], iqra‘ [Read] - these are the last words you would associate with an illiterate person who cannot read or write.
A History Lesson:
This Ummah became so enlightened for 1000years [700CE onwards], that Europe [who fell into the Dark Ages] – had to travel to the Muslim world, to learn their own history (this is because Muslims had translated their history books into Arabic, but their own Christian priests had ordered the burning of their own books during the Dark Ages era in Europe).
The sad news is that we now have less Universities in the Muslim world now than one country in Europe. All this, because many of us broke our contract with Allah, so He made our enemies overpower us.
It’s easy to praise our history and ignore our present situation, but we have to do something positive about it before our legacy is totally forgotten. We have to live generations ahead to benefit the Muslims and humanity as a whole.
These 5 aayaat are considered the first revelation (wahy) to be revealed to Muhammad, the .Messenger of Allah.
The other opinions abiout it being Surah Mudathir and surah al Fatiha can be reconciled by saying;
Mudathir came after a long pause after ‘Alaq.
Surah Fatiha is the first full surah revealed.
كَلَّا إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَيَطْغَىٰ
Kal-laa inna al insana la yatgha
No! [But] indeed, man, surely he transgresses
In the previous surah, we saw through examples of how man is rebellious to Allah.
kal-laa (haqqan (certainly) – no doubt). For sure.
A laa – you should know.
It is a means of yelling at someone for disobeying Allah.
inal insan la yatgha
yatgha - tughyan – you know your limits but you purposelly break past them.
i.e. tughyan ul maa’ - water when it comes out of its limits and floods the land.
Allah is Merciful and honors the human, yet man rebels.
Rab – Master.
taghiy - someone who rebels – one who does not want an authority [Rabb/owner] to place rules upon him.
This ayah gives insight to;
– why people don’t want to accept Islam.
-The ultimate result of ignorance is rebellion. The most rebellious of people are those who don’t read, who don’t have knowledge.
أَن رَّآهُ اسْتَغْنَىٰ
Surely he sees himself self-sufficient.
the real phrase should be in an Arabic sentence;
Li ar-ra’aahu istaghna [for he sees himself self-sufficient]
That he assumes that he is free from need.
He rebels because he thinks he does not need anyone.
Allah inspires the human to know fujooraha [its worst evil] wa taqwaha [its best good – guarding against evil from of fear of Allah]. (Surah Shams).
So when the human does bad, he knows it is bad. But why does someone do something bad? Because you think you’re going to be punished.
If you were totally independent, you wouldn’t think about anyone else but yourself.
So Allah is telling us that the root cause of human rebellion is because he thinks he is free of need, he does not need anyone / does not want anyone to place laws upon him.(astaghna – mentioned in detail in tafseer surah Layl.)
Ash-Sha’rawi: There are 2 types of laws;
Physical laws and Moral laws:
Physical laws: include gravity will pull you down onto Earth’s surface, fire will burn you. Drive slowly because there is a sharp corner/bend etc. These laws people respect because we have to live with them.
Moral laws: include the enjoining of good and forbidding of evil, not harming the weak etc. These laws – people do not always respect because they do not see the consequence of their evil straightaway. This makes the person thinks he is free without consequence.
The One who created both laws can punish you easily through the breaking of either of them.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ الْيَتَامَىٰ ظُلْمًا إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ نَارًا ۖ وَسَيَصْلَوْنَ سَعِيرًا
Verily, those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, they eat up only a fire into their bellies, and they will be burnt in the blazing Fire! [an-Nisa’ 4:10]
The person who eats the wealth of the orphan might think he is free because he can’t feel fire in his stomach. But in the next life, he will be punished with that punishment (as is explained in the a hadith).
Most people follow the physical laws, but who/what stops the moral laws (like having shame, modesty and respect) from breaking? The next ayah;
إِنَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ الرُّجْعَىٰ
Inna ilaa rabbika arrujAAa
Indeed, to your Master is the return.
Until you’re convinced that you have to return to someone Greater than you, that your deeds are written – then you will not stop your shamelessness.
There are some people – the masses of Muslims – who will stop evil so they are removed from the punishment of the Hellfire, and the highest level are those who do good – solely for the pleasure of Allah.
The One who does not want to disappoint their Master, the same way you do not want to do something embarrassing, and someone records it and your parents watch that. Look how humiliated you would feel.
You would stop doing it – even if you want to – out of shame for that loved one.
The Character Profile – Abu Jahl
This part will talk about Abu Jahl – who is being referred to in the upcoming aayaat.
Abu Jahl is different to two other disbelievers;
Waleed ibn al Mugheera
These 3 are the famous celebrities, and Abu Jahl is most liked and recognised by the polytheist Arabs in ‘nobility.’
This is because Abu Lahab was a coward who did not participate in Badr out of fear of being killed. [see his whole profile in Tafseer Surah Lahab (111)].
Abu Jahl encouraged harm against Allah’s Messenger and also fought against Allah’s Messenger in war, and got killed in Badr as a result. So when he was dying, he said to Abdullah ibn Mas’ud – “Cut me here on the neck, so when they see my severed neck, they know it was a tribal leader who got killed.” He had alot of arrogance and pride within himself.
He was very generous, Abu Lahab was very cheap.
Waleed ibn al Mugheerah was in between. He was a strategist, and he thought that he could make the Messenger of Allah compromise in his message.
This is discussed in surah [Qalam 68:9-15] and [Mudathir 74: 11-29]
Abu Lahab was mentioned in Surah Lahab/Masad.
Abu Jahl was mentioned in this surah.
“O Allah, guide one of the two ‘Amr’s”
Allah’s Messenger prayed that Allah guides one of the two ‘Amr’s (‘Umar bin al Khattab, or ‘Amr bin Hisham [Abu Jahl]).
This means that Allah’s Messenger saw something good in him, and if he did become Muslim – he would bring alot of good and honor to the Muslims. Out of the two; Umar bin al Khattab became Muslim.
The words in the hadith signify; If he (Abu Jahl) had accepted Islam, he could have been like ‘Umar in his greatness and benefit (of being the second best man after the Prophets’ of Allah).
Allah said in surah at-Teen:
لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ . ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ
We have certainly created man in the best of stature; Then We return him to the lowest of the low, [at-Teen 95:4-5]
Abu Jahl was made in a perfect form, with characteristics of the greatest people on Earth (loyalty, manhood, strength, honour, perseverance etc.) however – he was rejected to the lowest of the low for using all these great characteristics for disbelief / polytheism and oppression.
Abu Jahl actually liked the message of Allah’s Messenger.
It’s reported in the Seerah of Ibn Is-haaq that; Akhnas bin Shuraiq, Abu Jahl and Abu Sufyan bin Harb (al Umawi) [before he became Muslim] approached the apartment of Allah’s Messenger during the night.
Allah’s Messenger was reciting the Qur’an in Tahajjud / Qiyam al Layl (the Night prayer) – and all of them went secretly to listen to it.
Then they sneaked back, and caught each other – what are you doing they asked each other?
They gradually all admitted they were secretly listening to the Qur’an.
They promised they would not come back, but surprisingly the next night they caught each other secretly again.
This happened again the following night the day after.
They finally promised not to come here again, otherwise the youth might find out and the honour of their tribe will be discredited (since Banu Umayyah [the tribe of Abu Jahl and Abu Sufyan] always competed for power with Banu Hashim [the tribe of Prophet Muhammad].)
So Akhnas bin Shuraiq later on asks Abu Sufyan what he thinks about the Qur’an. Abu Sufyan tells that he believes its the truth. So they go to Abu Jahl and ask him what he thinks about the Qur’an, so Abu Jahl replies;
“Ofcourse it is the truth. We’re Banu ‘Aamir (from Banu Umayyah), whenever they fight, we fight, whenever they’re generous, whenever they do good, we do good. Now one of their people have these words (the Qur’an), we will never get words like this. If we accept him as a Messenger, Banu ‘Aamir loses forever.
The Similarities between ‘Umar (bin al Khattab) and ‘Amr bin Hisham [Abu Jahl]:
He had the exact same characteristics as ‘Umar, but what destroyed him? Arrogance. Just like Iblees/shaytan’s arrogance destroyed him.
Both ‘Umar and ‘Amr (Abu Jahl) had nationalism and tribalism before Islam.
Both Umar and Abu Jahl were made in a perfect form, with characteristics of the greatest people on Earth (loyalty, manhood, strength, honour, perseverance etc.) however – Abu Jahl was rejected to the lowest of the low for using all these great characteristics for disbelief / polytheism and oppression.
The main difference however is that Abu Jahl had an Ego which prevented him from his Islam, whereas ‘Umar humbled himself and submitted in Islam.
People are able to get rid of their nationalism, however – it is harder to remove the Ego personally, and requires effort to humble yourself to a truth. This is where ‘Umar achieved success, and ‘Amr [Abu Jahl] did not.
Abu Jahl’s attempts to harm Allah’s Messenger
Sahih Al Bukhari Volume 1, Book 4 [ablutions/wudu], Number 241: Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud:
Once the Prophet was offering prayers at the Ka’ba. Abu Jahl was sitting with some of his companions. One of them said to the others, “Who amongst you will bring the abdominal contents (intestines, etc.) of a camel of Bani so and so and put it on the back of Muhammad, when he prostrates?” The most unfortunate of them got up and brought it. He waited till the Prophet prostrated and then placed it on his back between his shoulders. I was watching but could not do any thing. I wish I had some people with me to hold out against them.
They started laughing and falling on one another. Allah’s Apostle was in prostration and he did not lift his head up till Fatima (Prophet’s daughter – who was only a young girl at that time) came and threw that (camel’s abdominal contents) away from his back.
He raised his head and said thrice, “Allahumma alayka bi Quraysh. (Oh Allah, it is upon you [to deal] with the Quraysh).“ So it was hard for Abu Jahl and his companions when the Prophet invoked Allah against them as they had a conviction that the prayers and invocations were accepted in this city (Mecca). The Prophet said, “O Allah! Punish Abu Jahl, ‘Utba bin Rabi’a, Shaiba bin Rabi’a, Al-Walid bin ‘Utba, Umaiya bin Khalaf, and ‘Uqba bin Al Mu’it (and he mentioned the seventh whose name I cannot recall). By Allah in Whose Hands my life is, I saw the dead bodies of those persons who were counted by Allah’s Apostle in the Qalib (one of the wells) of Badr.
At another time, Abu Jahl saw Allah’s Messenger standing in prayer. Abu Jahl told ‘Uqba to get a shawl/cloth, and pull it around the Messenger of Allah’s neck so he would choke, maybe even till death.
Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, “Abu Jahl said, `If I see Muhammad praying at the Ka`bah, I will stomp on his neck.’ So this reached the Prophet , who said,
«لَئِنْ فَعَلَ لَأَخَذَتْهُ الْمَلَائِكَة»
(If he does, he will be seized by the angels.)” This Hadith was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i in their Books of Tafsir. Likewise, it has been recorded by Ibn Jarir. Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Jarir, all recorded it from Ibn `Abbas with the following wording: “The Messenger of Allah was praying at the Maqam (prayer station of Ibrahim) when Abu Jahl bin Hisham passed by him and said, `O Muhammad! Haven’t I prevented you from this’ He threatened the Prophet and thus, the Messenger of Allah became angry with him and reprimanded him. Then he said, `O Muhammad! What can you threaten me with By Allah, I have the most kinsmen of this valley with me in the large.’ Then Allah revealed,
[فَلْيَدْعُ نَادِيَهُ – سَنَدْعُ الزَّبَانِيَةَ ]
(Then let him call upon his council. We will call out the guards of Hell!)” Ibn `Abbas then said, “If he had called his people, the angels of torment would have seized him at that very instant.” At-Tirmidhi said, “Hasan Sahih.” Ibn Jarir recorded from Abu Hurayrah that Abu Jahl said, “Does Muhammad cover his face with dust (i.e., from prostration) while he is among you all” They (the people) replied, “Yes.” Then he said, “By Al-Lat and Al-`Uzza, if I see him praying like this, I will stomp on his neck, and I will certainly put his face in the dust.” So the Messenger of Allah came and he began praying, which made it possible for Abu Jahl to stomp on his neck. Then the people became surprised at him (Abu Jahl) because he began retreating on his heels and covering himself with his hands. Then it was said to him, “What’s the matter with you” He replied, “Verily, between me and him is a ditch of fire, monsters and wings.” Then the Messenger of Allah said,
«لَوْ دَنَا مِنِّي لَاخْتَطَفَتْهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ عُضْوًا عُضْوًا»
(If he had come near me, the angels would have snatched him limb by limb.)
Ayah 9-10 of this surah were revealed concerning these events.
أَرَأَيْتَ الَّذِي يَنْهَىٰ
Araayta alladhee yanha
Have you seen the one who forbids
عَبْدًا إِذَا صَلَّىٰ
AAabdan idha salla
A slave when he prays?
Did you see the one who dared to forbid a magnificent slave when he prays?
‘Abd in the Qur’an when referring to Allah’s Messenger refers to Allah honoring His Messenger as the perfect slave and worshipper of Allah.
al Aloosi: The one praying is Allah’s Messenger and the one forbidding the prayer is the cursed (la’een) – Abu Jahl.
أَرَأَيْتَ إِن كَانَ عَلَى الْهُدَىٰ
Araayta in kaana AAala alhuda
Have you seen if he was upon guidance
Ra’ayt – Ra’aa – “i see” – i understand/see with insight. It also means to see physically.
ara’ayt – did you ‘see’ – if he had (Abu Jahl) been committed to guidance.
‘ala – upon = committed.
Allah’s Messenger did used to think – if Abu Jahl did become committed to guidance. That is why he prayed to Allah for his or ‘Umar’s guidance.
أَوْ أَمَرَ بِالتَّقْوَىٰ
aw amara bit-taqwa
or commands with God consciousness/fear of God/Allah.
Did you ‘see’ – if he had commanded (people) with fear and awareness of Allah?
But rather he made himself the lowest of the low instead, enjoining the people to evil.
أَرَأَيْتَ إِن كَذَّبَ وَتَوَلَّىٰ
Araayta in kadhdhaba watawalla
Have you seen if he lied against you and turns away -
Did you see if he chose to lie against you and turned away.
If he had turned good, how much benefit he would bring of good.
If he turned bad, how much destruction he would have brought upon himself.
ara’ayt – Did you see.. This show’s the great insight of Allah’s Messenger, and it also encourages the Muslims to have insight and think about the consequences of peoples; belief and disbelief, good/bad etc.
Ara’aahu astaghna – he sees himself self sufficient.
أَلَمْ يَعْلَم بِأَنَّ اللَّـهَ يَرَىٰ
Alam yaAAlam bi-anna Allaha yara
Does he not know that surely Allah watches [him]?
He thinks he is violating the Messenger alone, but Allah is watching his actions. Even polytheists believe in a Main God. But Abu Jahl is so evil, he has even ignored that Allah/a God is watching him.
This is the attitude of someone who has become so evil; so the victim might say; for God’s sake! So the criminal who is extremely evil will not even think twice about the plea of this person to fear God.
Maryam when approached by a man (Angel Jibreel in human form to give her the good news of a son – ‘Eesa/Jesus) – she said; أَعُوذُ بِالرَّحْمَٰنِ مِنكَ إِن كُنتَ تَقِيًّا – ‘Aoodhu bir-Rahman minka in kuntu taqiyya (i seek protection with the Merciful (Allah) if you fear Him). [Maryam 19:18]
Relation between Knowledge (first passage) and the Arrogant Denier (second passage.)
ignorant, arrogant, rebellion, all these are attributes used to describe the denier.
What we learn is that knowledge should bring humility / humbleness.
Shaykh Waliyullah ad-Dhahabi: When a tree has more fruits, its branches come down.
More fruits of knowledge should make you lower yourself like the branches.
إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ غَفُورٌ
- It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah. Verily, Allah is AllMighty, OftForgiving. [Fatir 35:28]
Knowledge should bring you humility.
Rejection of this knowledge in effect will make you arrogant.
When you humble yourself for Allah’s sake – He raises you in ranks.
If you put yourself up in rebellion and arrogance – Allah humiliates you.
This is a profound reality.
Finally – the rejectors Ignorance is shown, when Allah says;
A lam ya’lam – does he not know (that Allah sees him)?
So Allah honors the believers by hinting that they are those who are taught by Him. And He humiliates the rejector disbelievers, saying a lam ya’lam – Does he not know..?
This shows that knowledge of Allah is true knowledge, and those who do not know who Allah is are truly ignorant.
Part 1 [Above] Summarised:
The first word revealed in the Qur’an is Iqra’ (Read). ‘Alam-ma, and qalam (pen) is also mentioned, signifiying learning and writing.
This is Central theme of the first passage of this Surah.
Allah has taught knowledge ‘maa lam ya’lam’ – that he (man) did not know. So what kind of person would refuse to learn this type of knowledge?
Allah tells us who this type of person is in ayahs’ 6 and 7.
Who would turn away from such a treasure of knowledge? The human himself attempts to rebel. Why? Because knowledge causes the human to submit, but this person is rebellious, thinking himself self-sufficient.
Allah said in the 1st ayah; Iqra’ bismi Rabbik.. Which means that the Master/Rabb is the Owner, so you have to submit as a slave.
So now the human rebels. He has (istighna). If I have lived life without the guidance, then why do I need it now? He thinks he doesn’t need the guidance.
So Allah replies to that mindset; surely to your Master is the return – Ayah 8.
Everytime the 3rd person is mentioned
in this surah – it addresses other than Allah’s Messenger.
Everytime the 2nd person is mentioned – Allah’s Messenger is mostly being referred to. Except in one ayah (ayah 8) – where the human is being spoken to.
This psychological technique is really powerful because in the aayaat/verses before, 3rd person is being used (ayah 6-7 ), until suddenly 2nd person is used – to shock the person and make them realise that the 3rd person was actually being referred to as them. I.e. Man transgresses, thinking he is self sufficient (the human naturally will blame someone else for their evil, but suddenly).. to YOUR Master is the return. (the person realises that Allah is talking about you as being of them people too).
2 areas have been discussed in this Surah:
1- Importance of Knowledge
2- What type of person turns away from this knowledge.
3- When you don’t accept this knowledge – you’re ignorant. So what does your ignorance lead you to doing?
So the remaining aayaat in this surah are discussing Abu Jahl.
It’s interesting because Jahl means Ignorance [Abu Jahl = the one of Ignorance]. So they are the aayaat of knowledge before, and now they are discussing his ignorance.
Abu Jahl was called Abul Hakam (the one of Wisdom) by the Arabs, however – due to his rejection of the true knowledge of Allah – Allah’s Messenger named him Abu Jahl. And that’s what he has been remembered by through history.
Abu Jahl would harm Allah’s Messenger by telling the worst of them to throw camel entrails/intestines on the back of Allah’s Messenger whilst he was praying in the Haram in Makkah. He would also attempt to choke Allah’s Messenger by standing on his neck in prayer, and he even once intended to throw a boulder ontop of Allah’s Messenger while he was praying. His murder attempts however were not successful, and the praise is for Allah.
(quote Ibn Kathir tafseer).
Part 4: – The Consequences of Rejecting the Knowledge:
kal-laa – No!
if he (3rd person is used for tab’eed – distancing). Allah distances His self from the rebellious – Abu Jahl, and warns Abu Jahl by giving reassurance to His Messenger. So now, Allah is talking to His Messenger.
Ayah 5: Taught man which he knew not.
The criminal needs to know that Allah is watching. The only reason he does crimes is because he thinks he can escape security cameras etc. The only thing that would prevent him from his crimes is knowing that someone more powerful is watching him.
alam ya’lam bi anAllaha yaara – does he not know that Allah is watching? (ayah 14)
The one who is engrossed in sins, Muslim or nonMuslim. What needs to be repeated to them over and over again till it impacts their heart? “Don’t you know that Allah is watching?”
When you do something indecent, and someone tells you that your dad was watching, or that your boss was watching. How do you react? You’re regretful aren’t you?
alam ya’lam bi anAllaha yaraa? (ayah 14).
Even that knowledge he (Abu Jahl) rejects.
كَلَّا لَئِن لَّمْ يَنتَهِ لَنَسْفَعًا بِالنَّاصِيَةِ
Kalla la-in lam yantahi lanasfaAAan binnasiya
No! surely If he does not desist, surely We will drag him by the forelock -
kal-laa – No!
if he dares to continue, still doesn’t stop..
(la in – tawqeed and ighra (warning))
la Nasfa’an bin-naasiyah.
We will certainly Grab him and drag him by the forelock.
Naasiyah - forelock – the area of hair above your forehead.
Normally animals are grabbed by the forelock, from the front, when the master is angry with the animal.
We will grab by the forelock
Allah did not say la nasfa’ana HU bin-naasiyah (We will grab HIM by the forelock).
Rather He said; – We will grab by the forelock.
It is understood, Abu Jahl is not worth mentioning. Especially in the same sentence of Allah’s mention.
This Naasiyah/forelock was the place of 2 things:
1 – Your pride and dignity. (people would wear emblems or turbans on this part of the head as a sign of honour).
2- the Mind and knowledge.
Abu Jahl was astray from Islam due to the 2 above reasons;
Ignorance and Arrogance. His ignorance to the message, and his arrogance which led to his rejection of it.
Allah will grab him by by his lying, sinful forelock.
Tthere is an ayah of Sajda (prostration) later on in the surah. What do you put down in sajdah? Your forehead, especially the forelock area.
So in the end of the surah, Allah is telling his Messenger to put his head down (in prostration) for closeness to Allah, and even if Abu Jahl does not put his head down – then in the end, his head will be dragged down into the hellfire. You will be brought down to your humility; either in this life or the next.
Tribe of Tay’a defined the word Naasiya – The block of hair infront of the head.
يُعْرَفُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ بِسِيمَاهُمْ فَيُؤْخَذُ بِالنَّوَاصِي وَالْأَقْدَامِ
The Mujrimun (polytheists, criminals, sinners, etc.) will be known by their marks (black faces), and they will be seized by their forelocks and their feet. [ar-Rahman 55:41]
Nawasi is used to refer to the the same definition as forelocks.
If he doesn’t stop – Then We will for sure punish him. (the first part is an ‘if’ [if he does not stop] – the second part is a surety – for sure he will be punished). You decide – you can stop your evil, or you can do get punished.
Nasfa’an – Safa’a – to grab something and pull something out so hard that it comes out of its roots.
Imagine your forelock hair being pulled out like that. Extremely painful.
أَفَمَن يَمْشِي مُكِبًّا عَلَىٰ وَجْهِهِ أَهْدَىٰ أَمَّن يَمْشِي سَوِيًّا عَلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ
Is he who walks cast down, fallen, on his face more rightly guided, or he who walks upright on a straight path? [Mulk 67:22]
Some Qur’an commentators say; People on Judgment will be dragged by their foreheads, others will be walking upright (the guided ones of this life).
We ask Allah to make us of the upright ones, ameen.
Abu Jahl – when he threatened Allah’s Messenger, he said;
“You make salah here one more time, I will crush your neck”.
And the next time, he see’s Allah’s Messenger praying there again.
Keep in mind Abu Jahl was a big strong guy. And he had his thug companions with him too. Allah’s Messenger not listening to him was a sign of dishonour for Abu Jahl.
So Abu Jahl was about to step forward when suddenly, he started to walk backwards out of fear.
The people asked him what he was doing. He said; “Verily, between me and him is a ditch [kazm] of fire, monsters and wings.” he had seen a ditch and something scary that was about to rip him apart.
Allah’s Messenger said to Abu Jahl; bi ma tuhadithoonee? (What? Are you going to talk to me like that?).
Allah’s Messenger was strengthened because Allah had given him these aayaat of reassurance.
So Allah said;
نَاصِيَةٍ كَاذِبَةٍ خَاطِئَةٍ
Nasiyatin kaadhibatin khaati-a
A lying, sinning forelock.
Kaadhibah – lying.
He knew the Qur’an was true, but he kept on lying against it for untrue reasons (i.e. Pride and arrogance against the Messenger and the Message).
So even after Abi Jahl has attempted to harm the Messenger, the Messenger is not apologetic. Rather, this message actually humiliates Abu Jahl, labelling him a liar – a sign of humiliation amongst the Arabs.
So Allah is exposing to us that Abu Jahl knew in his heart that the Qur’an is from Allah, but he rejected it (lied against it) due to his tribal pride. This is why Allah calls his forelock a lying forelock.
Akhnas bin shuraiq, Abu sufyan, and Abu jahl. They would all secretly go out at night and hear Allah’s Messenger hear the Qur’an in Tahajjud/Qiyam al Layl (the night prayer). Then Abu Jahl admitted that he knew it was miraculous, but he couldn’t accept it – otherwise Banu ‘Amr would be lower than Banu Hashim (the family tribe of Allah’s Messenger) forever.
So Allah calls it a lying forelock.
khaati’ah – makes mistakes.
khata - mistake whose consequences you do not know.
He rejected the message and harmed the Messenger. He doesn’t know the consequences of all that. ‘What’s the big deal?’ kind of attitude.
The consequences really are the hellfire and an extremely painful punishment awaiting him.
Then let him call his associates;
fal nad’u naadiyah
Let him call his gang.
nad’u – da’a – call upon for help
naadiyah - nadi - public place where there are many listeners.
So Allah is telling His Messenger to say these words;
Bring your entire gang.
Now remember that the disbelievers don’t believe Allah is saying these words; they think one man, Allah’s Messenger is saying these words. It’s an open challenge;
fal nad’u naadiyah
Let him call upon his helpers.
Abu Jahl had alot of strong men in his gang who were experienced in war. All of them against one man [Prophet Muhammad] who has no army.
We will soon call the security guards.
zibniya – security guard. Zabaaniyyah is the plural = security Guards.
zabana – to protect / guard something with force. I.e. Prison guards. So if something rebels, it will be attacked.
Really Soon We will call our security guards.
Gangsters / thugs (of Abu Jahl), VS against a Military Force Security (of Allah) [Defending His Messenger].
And we know this did happen, when we look at the example when Abu Jahl tried to put a boulder or step on the neck of Allah’s Messenger – then Allah’s angels were about to crush him until he backed off out of extreme fear.
( سندع الزبانية ) الملائكة الغلاظ الشداد لإهلاكه كما في الحديث “” لو دعا ناديه لأخذته الزبانية عيانا
We shall call the Zabāniya, the grim stern ange
ls to destroy him, as [stated] in the hadīth, ‘Had he called his council [of henchmen] together, the Zabāniya would have seized him right before his own eyes!’.
This surah has discussed the topics of;
1 – knowledge
2 – who rejects knowledge
3 – evil behaviour based on rejection
4 – its consequences
5 – finally, the disbelievers animosity is a distraction to their work. Demoralising. So Allah disregards Abu Jahl and says: