وَ اِنۡ کَانَ اَصۡحٰبُ الۡاَیۡکَۃِ لَظٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۷۹﴾
وَإِن كَانَ أَصۡحَٰبُ ٱلۡأَيۡكَةِ لَظَٰلِمِينَ
g. 26:177; 38:14; 50:15. (close)
1516. The fact that, according to the Qur’an, the Prophet Shu‘aib was sent both to Ashabul-Aikah, i.e. People of the Wood (26:177, 178) and Ahl-e- Madyan, People of Midian (11:85) shows that both are the names of the same people or, rather of two sections of the same people who had adopted two different means of livelihood, one living on commerce and the other keeping herds of camels and sheep. Evidence of the close relationship of the "People of the Wood" with the "People of Midian" is furnished by the fact that identical faults have been ascribed to both in the Qur’an (7:86 & 26:182-184). Midian seems to be both the name of the tribe and the town in which these people lived at the head of the Gulf of Aqabah, near which was situated the wilderness of Aikah, abounding in dwarf trees of the species of wild plums and affording shelter to camels, sheep and goats ("The Gold Mines of Midian" by Sir Richard Francis Burton). (close)
b. 26:177; 38:14; 50:15. (close)
1782. Important Words:
ان (surely) is a common Arabic word giving a number of meanings, e.g., if; not; verily or surely; because; when. It is sometimes redundant (Lane).
الایکة (the Wood), the plural of which is الایك is derived from the verb ایك (ayika). ایك الشجر means, the trees grew thick and formed a wood. الایکة means, a collection of numerous tangled or dense trees, particularly (though not necessarily) of the kind called سدر and الاك (wild berries); a thicket (Aqrab & Lane).
The word الایکة seems to refer to Midian in the vicinity of which there existed tangled and luxuriant trees after which these people or a section thereof were called اصحاب الایکة. Midian lay in the Sinai Peninsula, a few miles from the sea. It was originally the name of a tribe who were descended from Abraham through Keturah and who had settled in the locality known after their ancestor Midian, son of Keturah. They were good businessmen and carried on trade with India through Bahrain or Aden. When, however, their business flourished, they resorted to illicit methods in trade (26:184).
The fact that, according to the Quran, the Prophet Shu‘aib was sent both to اصحاب الایکة i.e. People of the Wood (26:177, 178) and اصحاب مدین i.e. People of Midian (11:85) shows that both are the names of the same people or, rather, of two sections of the same people who had adopted two different kinds of trade, one living on commerce and the other keeping herds of camels and sheep and selling milk, wool, etc. Two sections of the same people living in the same town are generally seen to be following different trades in such towns as are situated on the borders of jungles and forests. So the people of al-Aikah is another section of the tribe of Shu‘aib (26:177, 178) who has also been spoken of as having been sent to the people of Midian (7:86, 11:85 & 29:37).
Further evidence of the close relationship of the "People of the Wood" with the "People of Midian" is furnished by the fact that identical faults have been ascribed in the Quran to both. Speaking of the latter, the Quran says: So give full measure and full weight, and diminish not unto people their things, and create not disorder in the earth after it has been set in order (7:86), while Shu‘aib addresses the former in the following words: Give full measure, and be not of those who give less. And weigh with the true balance. And diminish not to men their things, nor act corruptly in the earth, making mischief (26:182-184). This shows that the "People of the Wood" and the "People of Midian" (to whom Prophet Shu‘aib was sent) belonged to the same parent tribe and had adopted different forms of trade. It may also be noted here that Midian was both the name of the tribe and the town they lived in, at the head of the gulf of ‘Aqabah, and near it was situated the wilderness or Aikah abounding in dwarf trees of the species of wild plums and affording shelter to camels, sheep and goats. For a description of the ایکة or wood near Midian, see "The Gold Mines of Midian" by Sir Richard Francis Burton. (close)
فَانۡتَقَمۡنَا مِنۡہُمۡ ۘ وَ اِنَّہُمَا لَبِاِمَامٍ مُّبِیۡنٍ ﴿ؕ٪۸۰﴾
فَٱنتَقَمۡنَا مِنۡهُمۡ وَإِنَّهُمَا لَبِإِمَامٖ مُّبِينٖ
a. 26:190; 38:15; 50:15. (close)
1517. In the case of the city of Lot the highway has been called 'the way that still exists' (v. 77) which implies a prophecy that it will continue to exist in the future. In the case of the habitation of 'the People of the Wood,' the road has been called 'an open highway.' The old road which connected Asia with Egypt, has now ceased to be used by caravans, though as the word "open" hints, the track still remains. (close)
1783. Important Words:
امام (way) is derived from ام (amma). They say امه i.e. he repaired to or directed his course to him or it. امام inter alia, means, a road or way; a manifest road or way (Lane).
مبین (manifest) means, distinct from others; apparent; manifest; plain (Lane). See also 2:169.
Commentators differ as to the reference of the word "both" in this verse. Most of them take it as referring to the habitations of Lot and Shu‘aib, the account of the people of Lot having just preceded that of the people of Shu‘aib. But the more correct view seems to be that the word "both" refers to the habitations of "the People of the Wood" and "the People of Midian," reference to the latter being understood. The habitations of both lay on a much-frequented highway.
It may also be noted that in the case of the city of Lot the highway has been called سبیل مقیم i.e. the way that still exists (v. 77) signifying that it would continue to be used. Consequently that road has remained in constant use up to the present time. In the case of the habitation of اصحاب الایکة i.e. the People of the Wood, the road has been called امام مبین i.e. a manifest way. Consequently, the old road which connected Asia with Egypt has now ceased to be used by caravans, though, as the word مبین (manifest) hints, the track still remains. (close)
وَ لَقَدۡ کَذَّبَ اَصۡحٰبُ الۡحِجۡرِ الۡمُرۡسَلِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۸۱﴾
وَلَقَدۡ كَذَّبَ أَصۡحَٰبُ ٱلۡحِجۡرِ ٱلۡمُرۡسَلِينَ
1518. Hijr lay between Tabuk and Medina. Here lived the tribe of Thamud to whom Salih was sent as a Warner. The city appears to have been largely built of stones and was surrounded by a stone wall and ramparts. Hence this name. (close)
1784. Important Words:
اصحاب الحجر (People of the Hijr). حجر is derived from حجر (hajara) which means, he prevented or hindered or interdicted. See also 2:75. حجر (Hijr) means, forbidden, unlawful, inviolable or sacred; garden or walled garden of palm-trees prohibited to the public; a fortress; a wall of stones built round a house; the place round which such a wall is made; relationship that prohibits marriage; understanding or intelligence, because it forbids that which it does not behove one to do; bosom or breast; figuratively also protection. The word also means, the country or land of Thamud (Lane, Aqrab & Mufradat).
Hijr lay between Tabuk and Medina. Here lived the people of Thamud to whom Salih was sent as a Warner. The city of this tribe appears to have been largely built of stones. It was surrounded by a stone wall and ramparts. Hence this name.
It is worthy of note that though only one Prophet, Salih appears to have been sent to these people, in the verse under comment they are condemned as having rejected the Messengers of God. The same expression has been used in 26:106, 124, 142, 161 & 177 where the tribes mentioned are said to have rejected all Prophets, while as a matter of fact each one of these different tribes rejected only a particular Prophet who was sent to them. This shows that in the sight of God the rejection of one Prophet means the rejection of all because, first, the basic teachings of all Divine Messengers are the same and so the rejection of one Prophet implies the rejection of all others, and, secondly, the rejection of a Prophet implies rejection of God, Who is the Sender of all Prophets. This is why Jesus warned the Jews that by rejecting him they were rejecting Moses; for if they had really believed in Moses, they should not have hesitated to accept him (John 5:46). This is true of all Prophets and Messengers of God. He who rejects the Prophet of his own day shows by his act of rejection, that if he had lived in the time of any other Prophet, he would have rejected him also. Hence it is that the rejection of one Prophet, according to the Quran, is tantamount to the rejection of all Prophets and the acceptance of one is tantamount to the acceptance of all of them. See also 2:137, 286; 3:85 & 4:153.
The next few verses of the present Surah and some opening verses of the following Surah embody mighty prophecies and deal with subjects of very great import. (close)
وَ اٰتَیۡنٰہُمۡ اٰیٰتِنَا فَکَانُوۡا عَنۡہَا مُعۡرِضِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۸۲﴾
وَءَاتَيۡنَٰهُمۡ ءَايَٰتِنَا فَكَانُواْ عَنۡهَا مُعۡرِضِينَ
1519. In the foregoing verses three different peoples have been mentioned—(a) the people of Lot; (b) the people of Shu‘aib and (c) the people of Salih. They have not been mentioned in their chronological order but in the order of the distance of their towns from Mecca. The town of the people of Lot was the most distant of the three. Next in order of distance lived the people of Aikah. Hijr being situated between Tabuk and Medina, the tribe of Thamud were the nearest of the three and it has consequently been mentioned last of all. This unusual order has been adopted in preference to the more natural one with a view to making the statement effective from the point of view of the persons addressed, the tribe that was least known to the Arabs being mentioned first and the tribe which the Arabs knew most being mentioned last. (close)
In the foregoing verses three different peoples have been mentioned: (1) the people of Lot; (2) the people of Shu‘aib; and (3) the people of Salih. The order in which they have been mentioned is noteworthy. They have not been mentioned in their chronological order but in the order of the distance of their habitations from Mecca. The land of the people of Lot was the most distant of the three places and so it has been mentioned first. Next in order of distance were the people of Aikah, and they have been put next. Hijr being situated between Tabuk and Medina, the tribe of Thamud were the nearest of the three and it has consequently been mentioned last of all. In the order of time the people of Hijr preceded the people of Lot and the people of Aikah came last. This unusual order has been adopted in preference to the more natural one with a view to producing the greatest psychological effect, the tribe that was least known to the Arabs being mentioned first and the tribe which the Arabs knew best being mentioned last.
It may also be incidentally mentioned here that in this Surah mention has been made of those peoples in whom the art of writing was not much in vogue, and who were regarded by the Arabs as their ancestors. Adam is, of course, the common progenitor of mankind. Lot was a near relative of Abraham and as such, was among the ancestors of the Arabs. The tribe of Shu‘aib were cousins of the Ishmaelites, and became ultimately absorbed by them. The tribe of Thamud were a pure Arab tribe. (close)
وَ کَانُوۡا یَنۡحِتُوۡنَ مِنَ الۡجِبَالِ بُیُوۡتًا اٰمِنِیۡنَ ﴿۸۳﴾
وَكَانُواْ يَنۡحِتُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡجِبَالِ بُيُوتًا ءَامِنِينَ
a. 7:75; 26:150. (close)
1520. This verse shows that the Thamud were a civilized, powerful and rich people. They had separate summer and winter resorts and led secure and comfortable lives. Even when they went to the hills in summer for recreation and change of climate and left their winter habitations, they felt free from attacks from any quarter. The verse also hints at the highly developed state of their architecture. (close)
a. 7:75; 26:150. (close)
1786. Important Words:
کانوا ینحتون (they used to hew out). نحت means, he cut or hewed; or he formed or fashioned by cutting or paring or clipping. The Arabs say نحت علی الکرم (in the passive voice) i.e. he was fashioned after the model of generosity, viz. he was generous by nature (Lane).
بیوتا (houses) is the plural of بیت which is derived from بات i.e. he passed the night. بیت means, a chamber; a house or dwelling; a tent. It also means, a verse (Lane).
This verse shows that the tribe of Thamud were a civilized, powerful and rich people. They had separate summer and winter resorts and led secure and comfortable lives. Even when they went to the hills in summer for recreation and change of climate, and left their winter habitations, they felt free from attacks from any quarter. The words, they used to hew out houses in the mountains, are also intended to hint at the highly developed state of their architecture. (close)
فَاَخَذَتۡہُمُ الصَّیۡحَۃُ مُصۡبِحِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۸۴﴾
فَأَخَذَتۡهُمُ ٱلصَّيۡحَةُ مُصۡبِحِينَ
b. 7:79; 11:68. (close)
1521. It appears from 7:79 that the calamity referred to in this verse was an earthquake. (close)
b. 7:79; 11:68. (close)
It appears from 7:79 that the calamity referred to in this verse was an earthquake. (close)
فَمَاۤ اَغۡنٰی عَنۡہُمۡ مَّا کَانُوۡا یَکۡسِبُوۡنَ ﴿ؕ۸۵﴾
فَمَآ أَغۡنَىٰ عَنۡهُم مَّا كَانُواْ يَكۡسِبُونَ
The verse means to say that though the people of Salih built big houses and huge buildings and felt themselves secure, yet actually these very buildings proved the means of their destruction, for the Divine punishment came upon them in the form of an earthquake, and so the hugeness of their buildings added to the severity of their calamity. The verse thus implies a strong warning for the enemies of the Holy Prophet to the effect that they should not rely on their wealth and possessions as a means of protection against the wrath of God, because when Divine punishment comes, material means and resources, instead of being a protection, actually prove the ruin of those who possess them. (close)
وَ مَا خَلَقۡنَا السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضَ وَ مَا بَیۡنَہُمَاۤ اِلَّا بِالۡحَقِّ ؕ وَ اِنَّ السَّاعَۃَ لَاٰتِیَۃٌ فَاصۡفَحِ الصَّفۡحَ الۡجَمِیۡلَ ﴿۸۶﴾
وَمَا خَلَقۡنَا ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ وَمَا بَيۡنَهُمَآ إِلَّا بِٱلۡحَقِّۗ وَإِنَّ ٱلسَّاعَةَ لَأٓتِيَةٞۖ فَٱصۡفَحِ ٱلصَّفۡحَ ٱلۡجَمِيلَ
c. 3:192; 16:4; 38:28. (close)
1521A. The creation of the universe and the wonderful design and order that pervade it surely lead to the one inescapable inference that human life is not limited to the temporary and short existence on this earth, and that a great purpose underlies it and man has not been created just to eat, drink and be merry for a while and then die an eternal death. (close)
d. 20:16; 40:60. (close)
a. 3:192; 16:4; 38:28. (close)
b. 20:16; 40:60. (close)
1789. Important Words:
فاصفح (So turn away) is derived from صفح (safaha). صفح عنه means, he turned away from and left him. This expression also means, he turned away from his sins or faults i.e. he forgave him. صفح الناس means, he watched and looked into the affairs and conditions of the people. صفح (safhun) is the infinitive noun from it, meaning also the side of a thing. (Lane & Aqrab).
The word ساعة (Hour) is used to signify both the post-mortal Day of Judgement and the time fixed in this life for the punishment of the enemies of truth and the triumph of believers. The verse means to say that a careful study of the creation or the universe and its working leads to the conclusion that a great purpose underlies it. It not only proves that there is inevitably going to be a day of ultimate reckoning after death, but that even in this world truth ultimately triumphs and falsehood comes to grief. If human life were really confined to a short and temporary existence on this earth, then the vast organization of the illimitable universe would be much too extravagant a provision. The creation of the universe and the wonderful design and purpose that pervades it surely leads to the one inescapable inference that human life is much more than the limited, temporary and short existence on this earth. It is an insult to human intelligence to think that man has been created just to eat, drink and be merry for a while and then die an eternal death. The wonderful creation of the universe strongly repudiates such an idea. Human existence has a grand purpose to fulfil and the fulfilment of that purpose presupposes that it should extend to a time when man should attain to that high spiritual state for which he is created. Study of the human mechanism shows that machinery of such infinite complexity could not have for its object only the preservation of the finite physical life.
Similarly, a study of the creation of this universe and its mighty and wonderful working leads to the conclusion that in this life truth must ultimately prevail against untruth. The verse points out that just as it is impossible for the earth to subsist for one single day without the physical heavens, similarly, there could be no spiritual life divorced from the heaven of spiritual truths. Just as the earth can discharge its proper functions only so long as it forms a part of the whole universe, even so can man save himself from destruction only by forming a part of the spiritual system around him. The verse, therefore, purports to warn opponents of the Holy Prophet that, as they have cut themselves off from the heaven of spiritual truths, their wealth and possessions would not avail them in the least and the time has now come for their destruction and for the success and prosperity of those who have believed.
It may be noted here that the verse emphatically speaks of the impending destruction of disbelievers. History bears witness to the fact that after the promulgation of this prophecy, the condition of the Meccan idolaters changed quickly from bad to worse until their power was completely broken and Islam reigned supreme in the land.
It may further be noted that the verse under comment lends support to the view that this Surah was revealed towards the close of the Meccan period. At any rate the present verses must have belonged to that period, because they clearly speak of the imminent destruction of the Meccans. The first few verses of the next Surah also deal with the same topic.
The words, So turn away from them in a comely manner, signify that now when the time of the punishment of the Meccans has come, the Holy Prophet should cease to hold religious discussions with them. (close)
اِنَّ رَبَّکَ ہُوَ الۡخَلّٰقُ الۡعَلِیۡمُ ﴿۸۷﴾
إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ ٱلۡخَلَّـٰقُ ٱلۡعَلِيمُ
The preceding verse spoke of the imminent destruction of disbelievers and the present verse says that God never hesitates to destroy the wicked because, being the Great Creator, He can easily bring into existence a better people after the destruction of their predecessors. This is the implication of the Divine attribute خلاق (the Great Creator) used in the intensified form.
The attribute علیم (All-Knowing) points to the fact that God is well aware of the new order which will shortly replace the old. It will be a much better order and at its advent no one will regret the old order. It may be noted how in this one brief word علیم (All-Knowing), the Quran has condensed so much meaning. The word hints at the excellence of the new social and political order to be introduced by Islam.
It may further be noted that among the first few verses of this Surah the Holy Prophet was told to leave the disbelievers alone, victims to vain hopes, to eat and enjoy themselves for a while (v. 4). The verse under comment says that the time of their promised respite had now come to an end.
The Divine attributes "Great Creator" and "All-Knowing" also furnish an answer to those who wondered whence were to arise the circumstances and conditions which would ensure final victory for Islam. The answer is that God, being the Great Creator and All-Knowing, will not fail to bring about circumstances and conditions necessary for such a victory when the proper time for it arrived. (close)
وَ لَقَدۡ اٰتَیۡنٰکَ سَبۡعًا مِّنَ الۡمَثَانِیۡ وَ الۡقُرۡاٰنَ الۡعَظِیۡمَ ﴿۸۸﴾
وَلَقَدۡ ءَاتَيۡنَٰكَ سَبۡعٗا مِّنَ ٱلۡمَثَانِي وَٱلۡقُرۡءَانَ ٱلۡعَظِيمَ
a. 39:24. (close)
1522. According to such eminent authorities as ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Ibn-e-‘Abbas and Ibn-e-Mas‘ud, these words refer to the Opening Chapter of the Qur’an, i.e. Al-Fatihah, because it is repeated and recited in every Rak‘at of the Prayer. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said that As-Sab‘ul-Mathani is the Opening Chapter of the Qur’an (Bukhari). This Chapter is also called 'Mother of the Qur’an' (Ummul-Qur’an) and 'the Opening Chapter of the Book' (Fatihatul-Kitab). According to Zajjaj and Abu Hayyan, the Opening Chapter is given this name because it contains the praises of God. The rest of the Qur’an which follows the Opening Chapter has been called 'the Great Qur’an' (Al-Qur’anul-‘Azim). This name, however, equally applies to the First Chapter also inasmuch as a portion of the Book may rightly be called the Book itself There is a saying of the Holy Prophet to the effect that the Opening Chapter of the Qur’an is also 'the Great Qur’an' (Musnad v. 2, p. 448). In fact, this Chapter constitutes an abridgement of the whole of the Qur’an or, as it is said, it is the Qur’an in miniature; the Book as a whole having been summarised and epitomised in it. Mathani being also the plural of Mathna, which means praise, the verse would mean that Surah Al-Fatihah gives a comprehensive description of Divine attributes. Mathani also meaning a bend of the valley, the verse would mean that Al-Fatihah fully explains the relationship of God to man. (close)
a. 39:24. (close)
1791. Important Words:
المثانی (the oft-repeated) is the plural of مثنی (mathnan) or مثناة (mathnatun) which is derived from ثنی. They say ثناہ i.e. he doubled it or folded it or bent it. اثنی علیه means, he praised, eulogized or spoke well of him. ثنی (thinan) means, the repetition of a thing; doing it one time after another. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said لا ثنی فی الصدقة i.e. There shall be no repetition in the taking of poor-rate, viz. it shall not be taken twice in the same year. مثنی (mathna) means, two and two or two and two together. مثنی الایادی means, the repeating of a benefit or benefaction; or conferring it twice or thrice. المثانیsignifies the first chapter of the Quran called the فاتحة because it is repeated in every rak‘at of Prayer or because it contains praise of God. It also signifies the Quran altogether. المثانی also means, the verses of the Quran. مثانی الوادی means, the bends of the valley. مثانی الشیء means, the powers and capacities of a thing (Lane & Aqrab).
According to many eminent authorities such as ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Ibn ‘Abbas and Ibn Mas‘ud, the words سبع من المثانی signify the opening chapter of the Quran, the فاتحة, because it is repeated and recited in every rak‘at of Prayer. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said that السبع المثانی is the opening chapter of the Quran. This chapter is also called ام القرآن (Mother of the Quran) and فاتحة الکتاب (the Opening of the Book). According to Zajjaj and Abu Hayyan, the opening chapter is called السبع المثانی because it contains the praises of God.
The remaining portion of the Quran which follows the opening chapter has been called القرآن العظیم i.e. the Great Quran. The name however, equally applies to the first chapter itself inasmuch as a portion of the Book may rightly be called the Book itself. In fact, there is a saying of the Holy Prophet to the effect that the opening chapter of the Quran is also القرآن العظیم i.e. the Great Quran (Musnad v. 2, p. 448). The first chapter, in fact, constitutes an abridgment of the whole Quran. It may be called the Quran in miniature, all the contents of the Holy Book having been summarized and epitomized in it, while the remainder deals with the same subjects in detail. That the first chapter of the Quran comprises in itself vast subjects was, for the first time, explained and demonstrated by Ahmad, the Promised Messiah. Never had any commentator laid such stress on this subject as did Ahmad, and never before did any theologian elucidate this subject with such clarity.
In the preceding verses it was said that as the truth had been brought home to the Meccans, the Prophet should now turn his attention away from them and leave them to the judgement of God. In the present verse he is told that after having withdrawn himself from them he should now apply himself more and more to the exposition of the teachings of the Quran to the Muslims so that when the hour of their success arrived they might be ready to introduce in the world the new order promulgated by the Holy Book. (close)