Category Archives: Tafsir in English

Take this Kitaab with Quwwah

By Muhammad Huzaifah ibn Adam aal-Ebrahim

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

There are five Aayats in the Qur’aan Kareem wherein Allah Ta`ala commands people to seize a particular thing with Quwwah. These Aayaat are:

“And (remember, O Bani Israa’eel) when We took your promise (that you would fulfil the injunctions of the Towrah) and We raised above you Mount Toor (saying): “Take what We have given you (the Towraah) with Quwwah (power), and heed what is in it (i.e. act upon it) so that you may attain Taqwa.” [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:63]

In this particular Aayah, Allah Ta`ala is addressing Bani Israa’eel, reminding them of how He had taken their oaths and covenants that they would have Imaan in Him Alone, not committing Shirk with Him, and that they would follow His Rusul. Allaah Ta`ala mentions that at the time of this Covenant being taken, He raised Mount Toor out of the earth from its root and suspended it over the heads of Bani Israa’eel, that they may realise the gravity of this Covenant and follow this Command that Allaah Ta`aalaa is giving them, of taking the Towrah with Quwwah (power), resolutely, with courage to carry out His Commands.

When Imaam Qataadah رحمة الله عليه gave the Tafseer of this Aayah, and he explained the meaning of “bi-Quwwah (with power),” he said: “(Allaah Ta`aalaa was saying to them) Take this Towrah with seriousness or I will hurl down this mountain upon you.”

Thus, out of fear of the `Adhaab of Allaah Ta`aalaa the Bani Israa’eel unanimously submitted, falling into Sajdah, and they pledged that they would take this Towrah with Quwwah.

Imaam Abu-l `Aaliyah and Imaam Rabi` ibn Anas explained that one meaning of this Quwwah mentioned in the Aayah is Taa`ah (obedience). Imaam Mujaahid gave another meaning to it, which is “bi-`Amalim bimaa Feehi” (by acting upon it).

The second time in the Qur’aan Kareem that Allaah Ta`ala mentions this Command of taking something “With Quwwah” is also in Surah al-Baqarah:

“And (remember) When We took a promise from you (that you will obey the commands in the Towraah) and (after you refused to carry out the promise, We) raised Mount Toor above you (saying): “Take what We have given you with Quwwah (power) and listen (to the commands, otherwise the mountain will be flung on you). They said, “We hear and we disobey (Your command).” Because of their Kufr, the (love of the) calf was soaked into their hearts. Tell them, “Evil indeed is that (worship of the calf and rejection of Muhammad ﷺ) which your belief (in the Towraah) orders you to do, if you really are people who believe (as you claim).” [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:93] 

In Tafseer Jalaalayn, “with Quwwah” is explained as “with Jidd (might/determination) and Ijtihaad (hard work).”

The third time that Allah Ta`ala mentions “with Quwwah” is in Soorah al-A`raaf. This time, the Command is addressed to Nabi Moosa عليه السلام:

“And We wrote for him (Moosa عليه السلام) on the tablets (of the Towraah) every type of advice and details of everything (that man needs to know). (We told him): “Take (this Towraah) with Quwwah (power), and command your people to hold fast to the excellent commandments it contains. I am going to show you the abode of the Faasiqeen.”   [Soorah al-A`raaf, 7:145]

Imaam ibn Katheer رحمة الله عليه in his Tafseer explains “with Quwwah” as being: “bi-`Azmin `alat-Taa`ah” (with determination to obey).

Hadhrat `Abdullaah ibn ‘Abbas رضي الله انهما, added:

Imaam Sufyaan ibn `Uyaynah narrates: Abu Sa`d narrated to us from `Ikrimah, from Hadhrat `Abdullah ibn `Abbas رضي الله انهما who said: “Nabi Moosa عليه السلام was commanded to take (upon himself) the severest (of the laws) which his people were commanded with.”

In other words, he was commanded to take the strictest view for himself, with regards to the commandments of his Shari`ah.

With regards to the Aayah: “I am going to show you the abode of the Faasiqeen.”, some of the Mufassiroon have said that it refers to the lands of the Kuffaar in this Dunyaa, i.e. that Allah Ta`ala is going to take it away from them and give it to the Muslims. The second view is that Allah Ta`ala was telling Nabi Moosa عليه السلام: “I am going to show you the abode in Jahannam of those who oppose Me and who are not obedient unto Me.”

The fourth time in the Qur’aan when Allah Ta`ala commands people to take something “with Quwwah”, it is also in Surah al-A`raaf:

“And (remember the time) when We uprooted the mountain (Mount Toor and suspended it) above them (the Bani Israa’eel) as if it were a canopy and they thought that it would fall on them. (We said to them) “Take what We have given you with Quwwah and remember what is in it so that you may attain Taqwaa.” [Surah al-A`raaf, 7:171]

Imaam ibn Katheer narrates in his Tafseer that when Allah Ta`ala had given the Towraah to Nabi Moosaa عليه السلام, he commanded them to obey it and carry out its injunctions, saying to them, “Accept everything that is in this Kitaab, for in it is an explanation of what Allaah has made Halaal for you and what He has made Haraam upon you, and what He has commanded you and what He has forbidden you from.” They said, “Open it up and show us what is inside it. If its injunctions are easy and its Hudood (prescribed punishments) are light, we will accept it.”

Nabi Moosa عليه السلام said to them: “Accept it regardless of what is in it.”

They said, “No. We will not accept it until we know what is inside it. What are its injunctions and prescribed punishments like?” They continued to refuse to accept it until Allah Ta`ala uprooted the mountain and raised it in the sky above their heads. Nabi Moosa عليه السلام then said to them, “Do you not see what my Rabb `Azza wa Jall is saying? He is saying, “If you do not accept the Tawrah with whatever is inside it, I will throw on you this mountain.”

Commenting on this event, Imaam Hasan Basri رحمة الله عليه said, “When Bani Israa’eel looked up at the mountain raised above their heads, about to be hurled at them, all of them unanimously fell into Sajdah, prostrating upon the left part of their foreheads and looking up at the mountain with their right eyes, out of fear that it would fall on them. Thus, there is no Jew in the world who does not prostrate upon the left part of his forehead. The Jews say: “This is the Sajdah which caused the `Adhaab (of Allaah) to be lifted.”

When the Tablets were spread open in which was the Kitaab of Allaah (the Towrah) which He had written, there was not a mountain, tree or stone upon the surface of the earth except that it shook. Thus, till today there is no Jew on the face of the earth, young or old, upon whom the Towraah is read except that he shakes and moves his head.”

This is another meaning of “take it with Quwwah”: the Jews were being commanded: “Accept everything within this Towrah without exception; that which you find easy and that which you find difficult, that which you like and that which you dislike, or I will hurl down this mountain upon you.”

Thus, to take it with Quwwah is to carry out every single injunction within it without exception, and to abstain from every single prohibition within it without exception, and to propagate everything in it without hiding anything. If they refused to accept, Allah Ta`ala would have crushed them with Mount Toor. 

The fifth and final time in the Qur’aan Kareem when Allaah Ta`aalaa commands taking something “with Quwwah” is in Surah Maryam, and this time it is addressed to Nabi Yahya عليه السلام. Allah Ta`ala says to him:

“O Yahya, take this Kitaab with Quwwah! And We granted him Al-Hukm (Nubuwwah) when he was still a child.” [Surah Maryam, 19:12] 

Allaah Ta`ala mentions in this Aayah that He granted Nubuwwah to Nabi Yahya عليه السلام when he was still a child. Mufassiroon say that Nabi Yahya عليه السلام was three years old at the time of being granted Nubuwwah. The norm was that Allaah Ta`ala would grant Nubuwwah to each Nabi at the age of 40, but the two exceptions we know of were Nabi Yahya Yahya عليه السلام and Nabi `Eesa عليه السلام – both of them were granted Nubuwwah when they were still children.

When Imaam ibn Katheer explains the meaning of “Take this Kitaab with Quwwah” in the Aayah, he says: “Learn this Kitaab (the Tawraah) with Quwwah, i.e. with Jidd (seriousness, resolve and determination), Hirs (zeal) and Ijtihaad (hard work).”

Imaam al-Baydhaawi رحمةالله عليه explains “bi-Quwwah” in his Tafseer, saying: “Take the Kitaab with Quwwah, i.e. with Jidd (seriousness, resolution, determination) and by strongly memorising it with the Tawfeeq (which We shall grant you).”

Thus, Nabi Yahya عليه السلام was also commanded to commit the Tawrah to memory, and this too he did “bi-Quwwah” (powerfully).

Hadhrat `Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak رحمةالله عليه narrates from Ma`mar, who said: The children used to say to Nabi Yahya ibn Zakariyyaa عليه السلام: “Come and play with us.” He would say: “I was not created to play.” For this reason Allah Ta`ala revealed:

“And We granted him Al-Hukm (Nubuwwah) when he was a child.”
Allah Ta`ala further praises Nabi Yahyaa عليه السلام, saying:

“And (We granted him the quality of) compassion (towards others) from Ourselves (and We granted him) purity (therefore he never committed any sins). And he was always a Taqi (person of great Taqwa).” [Surah Maryam, 19:13] 

From the Tafseer of all of these Aayaat, we come to know that the meanings of “Take this Kitaab with Quwwah” are:

1) To learn it thoroughly. The Salaf used to say that when it comes to `Ilm, if you do not give it your all, it will give you nothing. Thus, for a person to “take the Qur’aan with Quwwah” means he must first of all devote his time and exhaust his efforts in properly acquiring `Ilm (Knowledge) of this Qur’aan. The kind of three-day “Tafseer workshops” prevalent nowadays do not count as learning the Qur’aan. People attend such “seminars” and “workshops” and come out knowing nothing. `Ilm of Deen is not acquired in two or three days. The person has to devote his life to `Ilm. `Ilm is إلى اللحد من ال عهد “from the cradle to the grave”. These “workshops” are a travesty and a satanic mockery of the Qur’aan and the Deen.

Most of the graduates of the Darul Ulooms these days are lacking in this very first quality. During their student days they do not pay attention to their lessons, they do not do mutaala`ah, they take the study of Deen “lightly” and thus they emerge from the Darul Ulooms as “graduate” devoid of `Ilm and Tafaqquh of Deen. For this reason they are incapable of adequately refuting any of the numerous Baatil groups in the world today. If they even get into a debate with a Shia Kaafir, they are dumbstruck, whereas, if you have studied the Deen properly, there is no Kaafir on the surface of the earth who can silence you, because the Haqq will always defeat Baatil.

2) By memorising it. The Fadhaa’il (virtues) of memorising the Qur’aan Kareem and the Ahaadeeth are well-known. 

3) When it comes to the Qur’aan Kareem and `Ilm of Deen, the Taalib-e-`Ilm should have a serious attitude and should not take it lightly. The Deen is not to be taken as a joke. If this person does not cultivate within himself the qualities of `Azm (strong resolve) and Istiqaamah (constancy), he will fail. 

Imaam ibn Shihaab az-Zuhri رحمة الله عليه said:

“Whoever seeks to acquire `Ilm all at once will lose it all at once; `Ilm is acquired over days and nights.” 
The serious attitude the Taalib-e-`Ilm should have is not only with regards to studying the Deen, but also with regards to acting upon it and defending it. The `Ulama are supposed to be Islaam’s “shield for the flak”. They are supposed to be the defenders of the Deen. Thus, it is necessary that they be powerful in their defence of the Deen. 

These days, unfortunately, the Ulama (of Soo) are the first to sell out the Deen, the first to grovel at the feet of the Kuffaar, the first to twist the Qur’aan and Ahaadeeth, the first to reject aspects of Islaam which the Kuffaar are not pleased with, the first to cower and tremble when the Kuffaar make any threats. As a result of this weak, feeble, deluded sell-out attitude of the “scholars” of today, the ones who have become “Tujjaar-ud-Deen” (people who sell the Deen to make money), the people have lost their respect for the Ulama. With many of the “Ulama” today, their purpose of becoming an “Aalim” is to learn how to please America and the allies of America. They become a “scholar” for the sake of the Kuffaar. They have made it their goal in life to undermine the Deen. Daily they attempt to break down the edifice of Islam, one brick at a time.  

The `Ulama of the past died for “Laa Ilaaha Illallaah” and the Ulama of today eat bread with it.

4) Carrying out all of the commandments of the Shari`ah and abstaining from all of the prohibitions.

A Muslim must live his entire life “in the Shade of the Qur’aan”. His life must be governed by the Qur’aan Kareem and be in conformity with the Sunnah of Rasoolullaah ﷺ. The purpose of acquiring `Ilm is to act on it.

العلم للعمل

In the Battle of Yamaamah which Sahaabah-e-Kiraam fought against Musaylamah al-Kadh’dhaab, Hadhrat Saalim Mowlaa Abi Huzaifah رضى الله عنه had been placed in charge of the right flank of the army. The Muhaajireen came to him and said, “O Saalim, we fear that the Muslims may be overtaken from your side.”

Hadhrat Saalim رضى الله عنه said:

“What a terrible Haamil-ul-Qur’aan (Carrier of the Qur’aan) I will be if you are overtaken from my side!”

Hadhrat Saalim رضى الله عنه then fought the Kuffaar until his left arm – which had been holding the flag – was cut off. He picked up the flag with his right hand, and that arm too was cut off and he fell to the ground, the flag falling down as well.

Moments prior to him passing away, Hadhrat `Abdullaah ibn `Umar رضى الله عنه heard him reciting the Aayah:

“And how many a Nabi (from amongst the Ambiya) fought and along with him (fought) many pious men, learned (in Deen). Never did they lose heart over what befell them in the Path of Allaah. Never did they weaken or surrender themselves, and Allah loves those who have Sabr.” [Surah Aal-e-`Imraan, 3:146]

Thereafter, he became Shaheed. 

This is “taking the Kitaab with Quwwah”. 

In this battle, Hadhrat Abu Huzaifah called out to the Huffaaz who were present, saying:

“O People of the Qur’aan! Beautify the Qur’aan with your actions.” 

These days, people feel that the Qur’aan was revealed simply to be “sung”. They will organise “Jalsahs” to have some beardless, Faasiq “Qaari” who is a “Taajir-ud-Deen” (someone who has sold the Deen for a measly price) come to the Masjid and recite, and the Molvis who organise these events tell the Musallis, “It is important for us to attend, to establish a connection with the Qur’aan.”

To them, the extent of “establishing a connection with the Qur’aan” is to sit in a Masjid listening to some Qaari (who has to be paid afterwards) recite, and thereafter having a feast.

In this battle, Hadhrat Abu Huzaifah says to them, “Beautify the Qur’aan with your actions.”

More important than to beautify the Qur’aan simply with your voice is to beautify it with your a`maal.

There is a preponderance of Qurraa’ nowadays but the Qur’aan has no place – for most of them – in their practical life. It is simply to be “sung” in order to receive payments and gifts, and some recite simply for women to listen to them. Ikhlaas has disappeared from the Dunyaa.

5) To teach and convey the entire Deen, not a partial Deen, or a “watered down” Deen.

Allah Ta`ala says to Rasulullaah ﷺ in the Qur’aan Kareem:

“O Rasul ﷺ, convey everything that has been revealed to you from your Rabb (and do not fear the reaction of the Kuffaar). If you do not do so (if you hide something), then you have not conveyed His Risaalah (Message). Allaah will protect you from the people. Surely, Allaah does not guide the nation of Kaafireen.” [Surah al-Maa’idah, 5:67]

The particle used in this Aayah, “ما“ gives the meaning of “everything”. Everything that Allaah Ta`aalaa had revealed, Rasoolullaah ﷺ was to convey to the people, without omitting a single thing and without fearing anyone.
ولا يخافون لومة لائم

“They do not fear (for the Pleasure of Allaah) the blame of any blamer.” [Qur’aan]

The majority of Ulama today fail to carry out this Command of Allaah Ta`ala. They convey parts of the Deen and conceal other parts. This is known as “Kitmaan-ul-Haqq” and is Haraam. Severe warnings have been sounded against those who conceal the Haqq. Worse than this are those who not only conceal the Haqq, but they also propagate Baatil. They twist clear Aayaat and Ahadeeth from the meanings intended by Allah Ta`ala and Rasulullaah ﷺ, interpreting them away in a manner which they think their Kuffaar masters will be pleased with.

There are so-called “Ulama” (in reality, Kaafirs) in America who have issued a “Fatwa” that certain Surahs of the Qur’aan must not even be recited in Salaah – Surahs such as Surah al-Anfaal, Surah at-Tawbah, etc. According to them, even in Salaah these Surahs must not be recited.

فإلى الله المشتكى وهو المستعان

Any “Aalim” who is propagating a “partial” or “diluted” Deen is not conveying the Deen at all. This Deen of Allaah Ta`ala is not a game to be played with. The Fardh duty of the `Ulama is to convey the entire Deen as revealed by Allaah Ta`aalaa, not to change it or dilute it. Let alone being the “Defenders of the Deen”, the Ulama of today have become the “Destroyers of the Deen”.

If a person is not conveying the entire Deen, then he has not “taken this Kitaab (Qur’aan) with Quwwah”. Instead, he has taken this Kitaab (Qur’aan) and sold it.

اللهم أرنا الحق حقا وارزقنا اتباعه وأرنا الباطل باطلا  وارزقنا اجتنابه

آمين يا العالمين

والله تعالى أعلم و علمه أتم و أحكم

Angels’ Prostration to Adam (Alayhissalaam) – Was it Shirk??

[Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani (rahmatullah alayh)]

And  when  We  said  to  the  angels:  “Prostrate  before Adam!”  So,  they  prostrated,  all  but  Iblis.  He  refused,  and  joined  the  infidels.”   [Surah al-Baqarah: Verse 34]

The  episode  recounted  in  the  foregoing  verses  has  shown  how  the angels  came  to  learn  that  Adam  (alayhissalaam)  was  superior  to  them  in  so  far  as  he  possessed  the  forms  of  knowledge  necessary  for  the  function  of  divine  viceregency,  while  they  themselves  did  not,  nor  did  the  jinns. NOW, Allah  willed  to  manifest  this  superiority  in  a  visible  and  concrete  form  So,  He  commanded  the  angels  to  prostrate  themselves  before Adam  (alayhissalaam)  in  his  honour.  They  obeyed  except  Iblis  or  Satan  who,  in  his  pride,  refused  to  do  so. 

If  we  go  by  the  words  of  the  Holy  Qur’an,  the  command  was  given to  the  angels  alone,  but,  in  excepting  Iblis  from  those  who  obeyed,  the  text  also  suggests  that  the  command  was  given  to  all  the  created beings  that  existed  at  that  time  and  possessed  understanding, including  the  jinns  as  well  as  the  angels.  But  the  Holy  Qur’an  mentions  the  angels  alone,  because  when  superior  beings  like  the angels  were  required  to  show  their  respect  for   Adam  (alayhissalaam),  inferior  creatures  like  the  jinns  must,  it  goes  without  saying,  have  been ordered  to  do  the  same.

Angels  Prostrate  Before  Adam  (Alayhissalaam)

(1) In  this  verse,  the  angels  have  been  commanded  to  prostrate themselves  before  Adam  (alayhissalaam).  Another  verse  of  the  Holy  Qur’an  tells  us  that  the  parents  and  the  brothers  of  Yusuf   (alayhissalaam)  on  reaching  Egypt,  prostrated  themselves  before  him  (12:100).  Evidently such  a  prostration  cannot  have  been  intended  as  an  act  of  worship,  for  worshipping  anyone  other  than  Allah  is  an  act  of  association  (Shirk) and  infidelity  (Kufr),  and  hence  cannot  possibly  be  allowed  by  any  Shari’ah.  So,  it  appears  that  in  the  days  of  the  ancient  prophets  prostrating  oneself  before  somebody  must  have  been  just  an  act  of courtesy  or  a  way  of  showing  one’s  respect,  and  enjoyed  the  same  value  as  we  do  in  our  own  days  things  like  a  simple  greeting,  a  hand-shake, the  kissing  of  hand,  or  standing  up  in  someone’s  honour.  Imam Al-Jassas  has  said  in  his Ahkam  al-Qur’an  that  it  was  permissible  in  the  Shari’ah  of  the  earlier  prophets  to  prostrate  oneself  in  honour  of  one’s  elders,  but  that  the  Shari’ah  of  the  Holy  Prophet  (sallallaahu  alayhi  wasallam)  has  forbidden  gestures  like  prostrating  oneself,  or  bowing down  very  low  or  standing  with  one  hand  placed  on  the  other  in  the manner  of  the  Salaah  before  someone,  all  of  which  may  suggest  an  act of  worship,  and  has  allowed  only  greeting  (Salaam)  and  hand-shake  as  a  gesture  of  courtesy  or  respect.

It  is  easy  to  understand  the  raison  d’etre  of  such  a  prohibition.  Association,  infidelity  and  the  worship  of  anyone  other  than  Allah  are  things  which  in  their  nature  go  against  the  very  principle  of ‘Iman  (faith),  and  cannot  therefore  be  tolerated  by  any  Shari’ah.  There  are,  however,  certain  acts  and  gestures  which  are  not  in  themselves acts  of  ‘association’  or  infidelity,  but  may,  on  account  of  the  ignorance  or  indifference  of  people,  become  a  prelude  to  ‘association’  and infidelity.  So,  the  Shari’ahs  of  the  earlier  prophets  did  not  forbid  such  acts  in  an  absolute  manner,  but  prevented  them  from  being  used  as  the  instruments  of  ‘association’  and  infidelity.  For  example,  making pictures  of  living  things  is  not  in  itself  an  act  of  ‘association’  or  infidelity,  and  was  hence  permissible  in  the  earlier  Shari’ahs. In  speaking  of  how  the  jinns  used  to  serve  Sulayman  (alayhissalaam0  (Solomon) the  Holy  Qur’an  itself  says: 

”They  made  for  him  whatever  he  liked  –  places  of  worship,  and  pictures.”   [Qur’an 34:13]

Similarly,  prostrating  oneself  before  somebody  as  a  gesture  of  respect  was  permissible  in  the  earlier  Shari’ahs.  But  gradually  the  practice  opened  the  way  to  ‘association’  and  infidelity  on  account  of  people’s  ignorance  and  thoughtlessness,  and  even  caused  grave  distortions  in the  Shari’ahs  of  different  prophets,  which  had  to  be  rectified  by  other  prophets  and  other  Shari’ahs.

Since  the  Holy  Prophet  (sallallaahu  alayhi  wasallam)  is  the  last  of  all  the  prophets  and  Messengers  of  Allah,  and  his  shari’ah  is  the  last  of  all  Shari’ahs  and  is  to  remain  valid  upto  the  end  of  time,  Allah  has,  in  order  to  protect  it against  all  distortion,  stopped  every  chink  through  which  ‘association’  or  idolatry  could  possibly  enter.  That  is  why  this  Shari’ah  has  strictly forbidden  all  those  practices  which  had  at  one  time  or  another  served  as  a  means  towards  ‘association’  or  idol-worship.

For  example,  making  pictures  of  living  things  has  been  totally  banned;  prostrating  oneself  before  somebody,  even  as  a  mark  of  respect,  has  been  forbidden;  it  is  not  permissible  to  offer  one’s  Salaah (prayer)  at  those  hours  of  the  day  which  the  infidels  had  reserved  for  worshipping  their  gods,  for  even  this  slight  and  external correspondence  might  lead  to  ‘association’;  and,  according  to  a  hadith  reported  by  Muslim,  one  is  not  allowed  to  call  one’s  slave  an  “‘abd”,  nor  is  a  slave  allowed  to  call  his  master  a  “rabb”  –  the  words  respectively  signify  “a  slave”  and  ‘one  who  gives  nurture’,  and  are  as  such  harmless,  but  they  can  be  misconstrued,  and  may  mislead  ignorant  slaves  or  helpless  and  subjugated  people  into  the  worship  of  their masters:  hence  the  prohibition.

With  regard  to  the  question  of  prostration,  we  may  add  that, according  to  some  authentic  scholars,  Salaah,  the  basic  form  of  Islamic  worship,  comprises  of  four  kinds  of  actions  –  standing  upright,  bowing,  sitting  down,  and  prostrating  oneself;  the  first  two  of  these,  standing  up  and  sitting  down,  are  actions  which  one  habitually  does  in  the course  of  one’s  daily  chores,  and  which  one  also  performs  as  acts  of  worship  in  the  course  of  a  Salaah  (prayer),  but  the  other  two,  bowing down  and  prostrating  oneself,  are  actions  which  one  does  not  go  through  as  a  matter  of  habit,  and  which  are  characteristically  associated  with  Salaah  (prayer)  and  ‘Ibadah  (worship);  hence  it  is  that  the  Islamic  Shari’ah  has  identified  them  with  acts  of  worship,  and  forbidden  the  Muslims  to  bow  down  or  prostrate  themselves  before anyone  other  than  Allah.

Given  that  the  Holy  Qur’an  itself  speaks  of  prostration  as  a mark  of  respect,  one  would  wish  to  know  on  what  grounds  it  has  been  affirmed  that  the  Islamic  Shari’ah  has  forbidden  this  practice. As  to  this  question,  we  may  point  out  that  several  well-known narrations  coming  down  to  us  from  the  Holy  Prophet  (sallallaahu  alayhi  wasallam) through  quite a  large  number  of  his  blessed  Companions,  are  there  to  establish  that prostrating  oneself  before  somebody  as  a  mark  of  respect  is  unlawful  (haraam). To  cite  only  one  such  narration,  the  Holy  Prophet  (sallallaahu  alayhi wasallam)  has  said  that,  if  he  could  allow  people  to  prostrate  themselves  before anyone  other  than  Allah  as  a  mark  of  respect,  he  would  have commanded  wives  to  prostrate  themselves  before  their  husbands.  This  clearly  shows  that  prostration  as  a  mark  of  respect  is  absolutely  forbidden,  and  no  allowance  can,  in  this  respect,  be  made  in  favour  of any  created  being.  We  may  add  that  the  hadith  we  have  just  referred  to  has  come  down  to  us  through  twenty  Companions,  while,  according to  Tadrib  al-Rawi,  the  famous  book  on  the  fundamentals  of  the  science of  Hadith,  a  Tradition  which  has  been  reported  by  only  ten Companions  is  called  Mutawatir,  and  enjoys  the  same  authority  in  the  matter  of  injunctions  as  the  Holy  Qur’an.

(2)  The  Holy  Qur’an  describes  Iblees  or  Satan  as  an  infidel.  His  infidelity  does  not  arise  from  disobedience  in  his  action,  for,  according  to  the  shari’ah, giving  up  an  obligation  in  practice  is  only  a  sin  and  a transgression,  and  does  not  constitute  infidelity.  Iblees  became  an  infidel,  because  he  had  defied  and  challenged  a  Divine  commandment, and  had,  in  refusing  to  prostrate  himself,  virtually  said  that,  in  his opinion, Adam  (alayhissalaam)  was  not  worthy  of  it.

(3) Iblees  had  attained  such  a  high  degree  in  science  and knowledge that  he  was  called  Ta’us  al-Mala’ikah: “The  Peacock  Among  the  Angels.”  How  did  he,  then,  come  to  commit  such  a  suicidal  error?  Some  scholars  say  that  it  was  because  of  his  pride  and  vanity  that  Allah  took  back  from  him  the  wealth  of  knowledge  and  understanding, and  hence  he  came  to  act  like  an  ignorant  fool.  Others  have  suggested  that  his  error  was  due  to  self-love  and  ambition.  The  famous  commentary,  ‘Ruh  al-Bayan’  resolves  the  question  by  quoting  a  line  of  verse  in  Arabic  which  shows  that  once  the  aid  of  Allah  has  been withdrawn  from  a  man,  he  can  no  longer  save  himself  from  sins,  and  all  the  effort  he  makes  only  serves  to  push  him  farther  and  farther – into  misguidance.  May  Allah,  in  his  mercy,  save  all  of  us  from  such  a fate!  The  commentary  draws  from  it  the  conclusion  that  one  should  not  be  vain  about  one’s  learning  or  one’s  deeds  or  even  about  one’s ‘Iman  (faith), for  Iman  is  valid  only  if  it  lasts  till  one’s  final  breath  and  into  the  first  stage  of  one’s  journey  to  the  other  world.

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah | Verses 21-22

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O  men,  worship  your  Lord  –  who  created  you  and  those before  you,  so  that  you  may  become  God-fearing –  who made  the  earth  a  bed  for  you  and  the  sky  a  roof,  and sent  down  water  from  the  sky,  then  through  it  brought forth,  out  of  fruits,  provision  for  you.  So,  do  not  set  up parallels  to  Allah  when  you  know.  (Qur’an 21-22)

A  review  of  verses  linked  together

The  second  verse  of  the  Surah  ‘Al-Baqarah’ provides  the  answer  to the  prayer  made  in  the  Surah Al-Fatihah: “Guide us  in the  straight  path– that  is  to  say,  the  guidance  man  has  prayed  for  is  present  in  this  book,  for  the  Holy  Qur’an  is  from  the  beginning  to  the end  a  detailed  account  of  the  straight  path.  Then,  the  Surah  proceeds to  divide  men  into  three  groups  according  to  whether  they  accept  the guidance  of  the  Holy  Qur’an  or  not.  Three  verses  speak  of  the  true  and God-fearing  Muslims,  who  not  only  accept  but  also  act  upon  the guidance,  and  the  next  two  verses  of  those  disbelievers  who  oppose  it openly.

Then  come  thirteen  verses  dealing  with  the  hypocrites  who  are hostile  to  this  guidance,  but,  for  the  sake  of  petty  worldly  interests  or in  seeking  to  harm  the  Muslims,  try  to  keep  their  disbelief  concealed and  to  present  themselves  as Muslims.  Thus,  the  first  twenty  verses  of the  Surah,  in  dividing  men  into  three  groups  on  the  basis  of  their acceptance  or  rejection  of  the  guidance,  indicate  that  the  proper criterion  for  dividing  men  into  groups  is  neither  race  or  colour,  nor language  nor  geography,  but  religion.  Hence  those,  who  believe  in Allah  and  follow  the  guidance  He  has  provided  in  the  Holy  Qur’an, form  one  nation,  and  those  who  disbelieve  form  a  different  nation  –  the Holy  Qur’an  calls  the  former  the  ‘party  of  Allah’  and  the  latter  –  ‘the party  of  Satan’  (Qur’an 58:19-22)

Then,  the  present  verses  (21 and  22),  addressing  the  three  groups together,  present  the  message  for  which  the  Holy  Qur’an  has  been revealed.  In  asking  men  to  give  up  the  worship  of  created  beings  and to  worship  Allah  alone,  they  adopt  a  mode  of  expression  which  not  only makes  an  affirmation  but  also  supports  it  with  arguments  so  clear that  even  an  average  man,  only  if  he  uses  his  common  sense,  cannot help  being  convinced  of  the  Oneness  of  God.

Commentary :

In  starting  the  address,  verse  21  uses  the  Arabic  word  An-nas, which  signifies  man  in  general,  or  man  as such  –  so,  the  word  covers  all the  three  groups  we  have  just  mentioned.  And  the  message  delivered by  the  verse “Worship your  Lord.”  The  Arabic word  ‘Ibadah (worship) connotes  expending  all  energies  one  has  in  total  obedience  to somebody,  and  shunning  all  disobedience  out  of  one’s  awe  and reverence.  (Ruh-al-Bayan) We  have  earlier  explained  the  meaning  of  the word  Rabb  (one  who  gives  nurture).  Let  us  add  that  the  choice  of  this particular  name  from  among  the  Beautiful  names  of  Allah  is  very meaningful  in  the  present  context,  for  the  affirmation  has  thus  been combined  with  the  argument  in  a  very  short  sentence.  The  word  Rabb indicates  that  only  He  is,  or  can  be,  worthy  of  being  worshipped,  He  is the  final  and  absolute  Cause  of  nurturing  man  –  Who  changes  man through  gradual  stages  of  development  from  a  drop  of  water  into healthy,  sentient  and  rational  being,  and  Who  provides  the  means  for his  sustenance  and  growth.  This  truth  is  so  obvious  that  even  an ignorant  or  intellectually  dull  man  would,  on  a  little  reflection,  not  fail to  see  and  admit  that  such  a  power  of  nurturing  can  belong  only  to Allah,  and  not  to  a  created  being.  What  can  a  creature  do  for  man, when  it  owes  its  very  existence  to  the  Creator?  Can  a  needy  one  come to  the  help  of  another?  And  if  it  appears  to  be  doing  so,  the  act  of nurturing  must  in  reality  and  ultimately  belong  to  the  One  Being  on whom  both  have  to  depend  in  order  to  exist  at all.  So,  who  else  but  the Rabb  can  be  worthy  of  adoration  and  worship?

The  sentence  is  addressed  to  all  the  three  groups  of  men,  and  for each  it  has  a  different  meaning.  “Worship  your  Lord”:  the  phrase  calls upon  the  disbelievers  to  give  up  worshipping  created  beings  and  to turn  to  the  Creator;  it  asks  the  hypocrites  to  be  sincere  and  true  in their  faith;  it  commands  the  sinning  Muslims  to  change  their  ways and  try  to  be  perfect  in  their  obedience  to  Allah;  and  it  encourages  the God-fearing  Muslims  to  be  steadfast  in  their  worship  and  obedience, and  to  make  a  greater  effort  in  the  way  of  Allah  (Ruh-al-Bayan).

The  two  verses  proceed  to  enlarge  upon  the  theme  by  specifying 6 certain  special  qualities  of  the  Rabb: “He created you  and  those  before  you.”  This  is  a  quality  which  one  cannot  even imagine  to  belong  to  a  created  being,  for  it  can  pertain  only  to  the Creator  –  that  is,  the  quality  of  giving  existence  to  what  did  not  exist before,  and  of  producing  from  the  darkness  and  filth  of  the  mother’s womb  a  creature  as lovely  and  noble  as man.

In  adding  to  the  phrase: “who  created  you”  the  words, “and  those  before  you,”  the  verse  shows  that  Allah  alone  is the  Creator  of  all  mankind.  It  is  also  significant  that  the  verse mentions  only  “those  before  you”  and  not  “those  who  will  come  after you”,  and  through  this  omission  suggests  that  there  will  not  be  any Ummah  (a  traditional  community  formed  by  all  the  followers  of  a prophet)  to  succeed  the  Ummah  of  the  Holy  Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), for  no  prophet will  be  sent  down  after  the  Last  Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) , and  hence  no  new ‘Ummah‘  will  arise.

The  final  phrase  of  verse  21 has  been  translated  here  as “so  that  you  may  become  God-fearing”.  It  may  also  be  translated  to mean “So that  you  may  save  yourselves  from  hell”,  or  “So  that  you  may guard  yourselves  against  evil.”  But  the  point  is  that  one  can  hope  to attain  salvation  and  paradise  only  when  one  worships  Allah  alone,  and does  not  associate  anyone  else  with  Him.

Before  we  proceed,  we  must  clarify  a  very  important  doctrinal point.  The  phrase  La’allakum Tattakhun  which  has  been  translated  here  as “so  that you  may  become  God-fearing” employs  the  Arabic  particle  I’alla  which indicates  an  expectation  or  hope,  and  is  used  on  an  occasion  when  it  is not  definite  that  a  certain  action  or  event  would  necessarily  be actualized.  Now,  if  one  does  really  possess  ‘Iman  (faith) and  does  really believe  in  tauhid, one  would,  in  consequence  definitely  attain salvation  and  go  to  Heaven,  as  Allah  Himself  has  promised.  But  here the  certainty  has  been  expressed  in  terms  of  an  expectation  or  hope  in order  to  make  man  realize  that  no  human  action  by  itself  and  in  itself can  bring  salvation  as  a  necessary  reward.  One  can  attain  salvation and  go  to  Heaven  only  by  the  grace  of  Allah  alone.  The  ablility  to perform  good  deeds,  and  ‘Iman itself  is  only  a  sign  of  divine  grace,  not the  cause.

The  next  verse  recounts  some  other  qualities  of  Allah  with  regard to  the  act  of  nurturing,  with  the  difference  that  while  verse  21 spoke  of the  bounties  of  Allah  pertaining  to  the  human  self,  verse  22 speaks  of those  pertaining  to  man’s  physical  environment.  Since  man’s  being basically  has  two  dimensions,  one  internal  (Anfus) and  the  other external  (Afaq) the  two  verses,  in  a  summary  way,  encompass  all  the kinds  of  blessings  that  descend  on  man  from  Allah.

Among  the  cosmic  bounties,  the  first  to  be  mentioned  is  the  earth which  has  been  made  a  bed  for  man.  It  is  neither  soft  and  fluid  like water  on  which  one  cannot  settle,  nor  hard  like  stone  or  steel  that should  make  it  difficult  to  be  harnessed  for  man’s  purposes,  but  has been  given  a  middle  state  between  the  soft  and  the hard  for  man  to utilize  it  conveniently  in  his  daily  life.  The  Arabic  word,  Firash  (bed), which  literally  means  ‘somethings  spread  out’,  does  not  necessarily imply  that  the  earth  is  not  round,  for  the  great  globe  of  the  earth,  in spite  of  being  round,  appears  to  be  flat  to  the  onlooker,  and  the  usual way  of  the  Holy  Qur’an  is  to  describe  things  in  an  aspect  which  should be  familiar  to  an  average  man,  literate  or  illiterate,  city  dweller  or rustic.

The  other  bounty  is  that  the  sky  has  been  made  like  an ornamented  and  beautiful  ceiling.  The  third  is  that  Allah  sent  down water  from  the  sky.  This,  again,  does  not  necessarily  mean  that  water comes  down  directly  from  the  sky  without  the  medium  of  clouds  –  even in  everyday  idiom,  a  thing  coming  down  from  above  is  said  to  be coming  from  the  sky.  The  Holy  Qur’an  itself,  on  several  occasions, refers  to  Allah  sending  down  water  from  the  clouds:

“Did you  send  it  down  from  the  clouds,  or  did  We  send  it?”  (Holy Qur’an 56:69)

“And- have  sent  down  from  the  rain-clouds  abundant  water.” (Holy Qur’an 78:14)

The  fourth  bounty  is  to  bring  forth  fruits  with  this  water,  and  to provide  nourishment  to  man  from  them.

The  first  three  of  these  bounties  are  of  an  order  in  which  man’s effort or  action,  his  very  being  even,  does  not  enter  at  all.  There  was  no sign  of  man  when  the  earth  and  the  sky  already  existed,  and  clouds and  rain  too  were  performing  their  functions.  As  for  these  things,  not even  an ignorant  fool  could  ever  fancy  that  all  this  could  be  the  work  of a  man  or  an  idol,  or  of  a  created  being.  In  the  case  of  producing  fruits and  making  them  serve  as  nourishment  for  man,  however,  a  simpleton may,  on  a  superficial  view,  attribute  this  to  human  effort  and ingenuity,  for  one  can  see  man  digging  the  earth,  sowing  the  seed  and protecting  the  plants.  But  the  Holy  Qur’an  has,  in  certain  verses, made  it  quite  clear  that  human  effort  has  nothing  to  do  with  the  act  of growing  trees  and  bringing  out  fruits,  for  human  activity  accomplishes nothing  more  than  removing  the  hindrances  to  the  birth  and  growth  of a  plant,  or  protecting  it  from  being  destroyed.  Even  the  water  which feeds  the  plant  is  not  the  creation  of  the  farmer  –  all  he  does  is  to  make the  water  reach  the  plant  at  the  proper  time  in  a  proper  quantity.  The actual  birth  and  growth  of  the  tree,  and  the  putting  forth  of  leaves, branches  and  fruits  is  the  work  of  Divine  Power,  and  of  no  one  else. Says  the  Holy  Qur’an :

“Have you  considered  the  soil  you  till?  Is  it  you  that  give  them growth  or  We ?”  (Holy Qur’an 56:63)

The  only  answer  which  man  can  find  to  this  question  posed  by  the Holy  Qur’an  is  that  undoubtedly  it  is  Allah  alone  who  makes  the plants  grow.

In  short,  this  verse  mentions  four  qualities  of  Allah  which  cannot possibly  be  found  in  a  created  being.  Having  learnt  from  these  two verses  that  it  is  Allah,  and  no  one  else,  who  brings  man  into  existence out  of  nothingness,  and  provides  the  means  of  his  sustenance  through the  earth,  the  sky,  the  rains  and  the  fruits,  one  cannot,  if  one possesses  a  little  common  sense,  help  acknowledging  that  Allah,  and no  one  else,  is  worthy  of  all  worship  and  obedience,  and  that  the ultimate  iniquity  is  to  turn  away  from  Him  who  made  man  exist  and gave  him  the  means  of  survival  and  growth,  and  to  prostrate  oneself before  others  who  are  as  helpless  as  man.  Allah  has  put  man  at  the head  of  all  His  creatures  so  that  the  universe  should  serve  him,  while he  should  totally  devote  himself  to  the  worship  and  remembrance  of Allah  and  obedience  to  Him  without  distraction.  But  there  are  men  so given  to  their  indolence  and  ignorance  that  they  forget  the  One  God, and  in  consequence,  have  to  serve  a  billion  gods.

In  order  to  rescue  men  from  this  slavery  to  others,  the  Holy  Qur’an says  at  the  end  of  this  verse:

“So, do  not  set  up  parallels  to  Allah  when  you  know.”

That  is  to  say,  once  one  has  understood  that,  in  reality,  Allah  alone is  the  Creator  and  the  Provider,  one  will  have  also  understood  that  no one  else  can  be  worthy  of  worship  and  of  being  associated  with  Allah as  an  equal  or  rival  god.

To  sum  up,  these  two  verses  call  men  to  what  is  the  esseni-tial purpose  of  sending  down  all  the  Divine  Books  and  all  the  prophets  – Tauhid,  or  the  affirmation  and  the  worship  of  the  one  God.

Tauhid  is  a  doctrine  which  has  an  all-pervading  and  radically transforming  impact  on  every  sphere  of  human  life,  internal  as  well  as external,  individual  as  well  as  collective.  For,  once  a  man  comes  to believe  that  there  is  only  One  Being  who  alone  is  the  Creator, the  Lord and  Master  of  the  universe,  who  alone  is  all-powerful  and  ordains  the slightest  movement  of  the  smallest  atom,  and  without  whose  will  no one  can  harm  or  do  good  to  another  –  such  a  man,  rich  or  poor,  in joy  or sorrow,  would  always  look  only  towards  that  One  Being,  and  gain  the insight  to  discover  behind  the  veil  of  apparent  causes  the  workings  of the  same  Omnipotence.

If our  modern  worshippers  of  ‘energy’  only  had  some understanding  of  the  doctrine  of  Tauhid, they  would  easily  see  that power  resides  neither  in  steam  nor  in  electricity,  but  that  the  source  of all  powers  is  the  One  Being  who  has  created  steam  and  electricity.  To know  this,  however,  one  must  have  insight.  The  greatest  philosopher in  the  world,  if  he  fails  to  see  this  truth,  is  no  better  than  the  rustic fool  who  saw  a  railway-train  move  at  the  waving  of  a  green  flag  and stop  at  the  waving  of  a  red  flag,  and  concluding  that  it  was  the  power of  the  green  and  red  flags  that  controlled  the  movement  of  the  huge train,  made  an  obeisance  to  them.  People  would  laugh  at the  rustic,  for he  did  not  know  that  the  two  flags  are  merely  signs,  while  the  train  is actually  run  by  the  driver,  or,  better  still,  by  the  engine.  A  more perceptive  observer  would  ascribe  the  function  to  the  steam  inside  the engine.  But  he  who  believes  in  the  One  God  would  laugh  at  all  these wise  men,  for  he  can  see  through  the  steam,  the  fire  and  the  water even,  and  discover  behind  the  appearances  the  might  of  the  One  and Only  Being  who  has  created  fire  and  water,  and  whose  will  makes them  perform  their  allotted  functions.

The  Doctrine  Of  Tauhid : A  source  of  peace  in  human  life

Tauhid, the  most  fundamental  doctrine  of  Islam,  is  not  a  mere theory,  but  the  only  effective  way  of  making  man  a  man  in  the  real sense  of  the  term  –  it  is  his  first  and  last  refuge  and  the  panacea  for  all his  ills.  For  the  essence  of  this  doctrine  is  that  every  possible  change  in the  physical  universe,  its  very  birth  and  death  is  subject  to  the  will  of the  One  and  Only  Being,  and  a  manifestation  of  His  wisdom.  When this  doctrine  takes  hold  of  a  man’s  mind  and  heart,  and  becomes  his permanent  state,  all  dissension  ceases  to  exist  and  the  world  itself changes  into  a  paradise  for  him,  as  he  knows  that  the  enmity  of  the  foe and  the  love  of  the  friend  equally  proceed  from  Allah  who  rules  over the  hearts  of  both.  Such  a  man  lives  his  life  in  perfect  peace,  fearing none  and  expecting  nothing  from  anyone:  shower  him  with  gold,  or  put him  in  irons, he  would  remain  unmoved,  for  he  knows  where  it  comes from.

This  is  the  significance  of  the  basic  declaration  of  the  Islamic  creed, or La Ilaaha Illallaah (there is  no  god  but  Allah).  But,  obviously,  it  is  not  enough to  affirm  the  Oneness  of  God  orally;  one  must  have  a  complete certitude,  and  must  also  have  the  truth  always  present  close  to  one’s heart,  for  Tauhid  is  to  see  God  as  one,  and  not  merely  to  say  that  He  is one.  Today,  the  number  of  those  who  can  respect  this  basic  formula  of the  Islamic  creed  runs  to  millions  all  over  the  world  –  far  more  than  it ever  did,  but  mostly  it  is  just  an  expense  of  breath:  their  lives  do  not show  the  colour  of  Tauhid;  or  otherwise,  they  should  have  been  like their  forefathers  who  were  daunted  neither  by  wealth  nor  by  power, awed  neither  by  numbers  nor  by  pomp  and  show  to  turn  their  back upon  the  Truth  –  when  a  prophet  could  all  by  himself  stand  up  against the  world,  and  say: “SO try  your  guile  on  me,  then  give me  no  respite” (Al-Qur’an 17:195). 

If  the  blessed  Companions  and  their successors  came  to  dominate  the  world  in a  few  years,  the  secret  lay  in this  Tauhid, correctly  understood  and  practised.  May  Allah  bless  all the  Muslims  with  this great  gift!