Tafsir of Chapter 078: Surah An-Naba' (The Great News)
- Saleh as-Saleh
All praise is due to Allah, we praise Him, and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah, Most High, from the evils of our own selves and from our wicked deeds. Whoever Allah guides, there is none who can musguide him, whoever Allah allows to be misguided cannot be guided. I testify that there is no true God worthy of being worshipped except Allah, alone, without partner or associate. I further testify that Muhammad is His true slave and Messenger (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam)1.
May Allah's Salah and Salam be also granted to the Prophet's pure family, and to all of his noble companions.
"O you believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He ordered and abstaining from all that He forbade) as He should feared (Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always) and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims with complete submission to Allah)." [Al-Qur'an 3:102]
"O mankind! Be dutiful to you Rabb (Allah), Who created you from a single person (Adam) and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights) and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is ever an All-Watcher over you." [Al-Qur'an 4:1]2
"O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has indeed achieved a great success." [Al-Qur'an 33:70-71]
It proceeds then: That the most truthful speech is that of Allah's Book (the Qur'an) and that the best of guidance is that of Muhammad (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam). The worst of evils are innovation (foreign to the true teachings of Islam). Every innovated matter (in religion) is a Bid'ah; every Bid'ah is a Dalalah (misguidance), and every Dalalah is in the Fire of Hell. The Qur'an is the Word of Allah. The Tafsir (Exegesis) of the meaning of the Noble Ayat (verses) of the Qur'an is critical to the understanding of Islam as a whole. The Qur'an is explained by the Qur'an itself3 and by the Sunnah 4 of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam). The Salaf 5 not only transmitted the explanation of the Qur'an, but laid down the foundations for Ijtihad 6 and thus their way is the best and most reliable way of Tafsir. Philosophical and scholastic opinions dealing with the Word of Allah produce confusion, alterations in the meaning of the texts and thus lead astray. The Muslim is called to follow the path of those who gained Allah's Pleasure. They are the Salaf, may Allah make us follow their path in all matters of Islam.
Considering the above, I have decided to bring closer the Tafsir of the Salaf in separate publications starting with the Tafsir of Part Thirty of the Noble Qur'an. This is the first issue and it deals with the Tafsir of Surah An-Naba'.7 I hope that this approach will be simple enough so that it will, Insha'Allah, benefit a broad sector of the Muslim Ummah (Nation). I ask Allah to accept this effort and make it beneficial for all those who read it and (or) distribute it.
The Tafsir of Surah An-Naba'
1. "What are they asking (one another)?
2. "About the Great News.
The disbelievers question the occurence of the Day of Reckoning. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala)8) describes this Day as the one that brings Great News. Ibn Kathir (The eminent scholar of Tafsir) said that most likely this News refers to the Resurrection after death, based upon the fact that Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) says about it in the next ayah (verse):
3. "About which they are in disagreement.
Mankind are divided to believers and disbelievers regarding the occurence of this Day. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) warns those who deny it, saying:
4. "Nay, they will come to know!
5. "Nay, again, they will come to know!
An emphasised and a confirmed warning for those who deny this Day that they will certainly come to know that the Day of Resurrection is true. Allah shows His abilities to produce the Signs of this Day and He tells about its magnitude in the following verses so that the people contemplate and realise that Allah, Who is able to bring about these Signs, is All-Able to bring life to the Dead as well as Resurrection. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) tells mankind about many aspects of His Ability and Power to create what He wishes. For those who under-estimate Allah and His Greatness, there is a reminder, and for those who believe, there is an affirmation:
6. "Have We not made the earth as a bed? 9
7. "And the mountains as pegs?
To provide cohesiveness and stability to the earth. Modern scientific discoveries found that these pegs are driven into the ground like pegs used to anchor a tent.
8. "And We have created you in pairs.
Males and females, tall and short, good and bad etc. Males and females lawfully enjoy each other (through marriage) and have children. This enjoyment is physical as well as emotional. it provides mercy and morally abiding friendship. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) says in another Ayah in the Qur'an:
"And among His signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves that you may find repose in them and He has put between them affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed Signs for a people who reflect." [Al-Qur'an 30:21]
9. "And have made your sleep as a thing for rest.
Sleep discontinues the motion at the end of the day. A resting time for human efforts seeking sustenance. This is just one other Mercy of Allah.
10. "And have made the night as a covering (through its darkness).
The darkness covers you just as your garment covers your body. The "covering" night produces a quiet environment to reside in and to become still.
11. "And have made the day for livelihood.
Allah produced shining light in it (from the Sun) so that people can manage their affairs and function to produce their livelihood which He (subhanahu wa ta'ala) has already ordained for each individual in appropiate measures. In another Ayah, Allah says:
"It is out of His Mercy that He has put for you night and day, that you may rest therein (i.e. during the night) and that you may seek of His Bounty (i.e. during the day), and in order that you may be grateful." [Al-Qur'an 28:73]
Who, other than the Creator of Day and Night can balance their respective course of time?
"Say (O Muhammad): Tell me! If Allah made night continuous for you till the Day of Resurrection, who is a god besides Allah who bring you light? Will you not then hear?" [Al-Qur'an 28:71]
"Say (O Muhammad): Tell me! If Allah made day continuous for you till the Day of Resurrection who is a god besides Allah who could bring you night wherein you rest? Will you then not see?" [Al-Qur'an 28:72]
12. "And We have built above you seven strong (heavens).
Seven, wide, high, firmly constructed, beautifully constructed, beautifully built without supporting columns. Beautified with stars, planets, the sun and the moon. The sun as a shining lamp:
13. "And have made (therein) a Shining Lamp.
The Lamp illuminates the whole universe to provide light as well as heat allowing growth, energy, etc.
14. "And We have sent down from the rainy clouds abudant water.
Allah beautifully explains in another Ayah:
"Allah is He Who sends the winds, so they raise clouds and spread them along the sky as He wills, and then breaks them into fragments until you see rain drops come forth from their midst! Then when He has made them fall on whom of His slaves as He wills, lo! They rejoice!" [Al-Qur'an 30:48]
The benefits of water are remarkable:
15. "That We may produce therewith corn and vegetations.
Eaten by man and animals and used in various useful means.
16. "And gardens of thick growth.
With different fruits, fragrance, tastes, smells produced in one single piece of land! This is similar to another Ayah where Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) says:
"And in the earth are neighbouring tracts and gardens of vines, and fields sown with corn, and palm trees, growing out two or three from a single stem root, or otherwise (one stem root for every palm), watered with the same water, yet some of them We make more excellent than others to eat. Verily in these things are Ayat (signs, proofs, evidences, lessons) for the people who understand." [Al-Qur'an 13:4]
All of the above Favours of Allah are so vivid. How could the disbelievers make use of all of these bounties and yet deny the Resurrection? Then comes the realities: O! man don't forget that there is an appointed term for everything:
17. "Verily the Day of Decision is a fixed time.
This time does not increase nor decrease nor it is to be postponed, and no one knows its specific occurrence except Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). He says about it:
18. "The Day when the Trumpet will be blown, and you shall come forth in crowds (groups).
Each Ummah (nation) will come with its respective Imam, as Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) says in another Ayah in the Qur'an:
"(And remember) the Day when We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imams (their prophets, or their Holy Books like the Qur'an, the Torah, the Gospel, or their Records of good and bad deeds, etc.)." [Al-Qur'an 17:71]
Imam Bukhari relates that Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu 'anhu) said that the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "Between the two sounds of the trumpet there will be Forty." Somebody asked Abu Hurayrah, "Forty days?" But he refused to reply. Then he asked, "Forty Months?" He refused to reply. Abu Hurayrah added, "Then (after this period) Allah will send water from the sky and then the dead bodies will grow like vegetation grows, there is nothing of the human body that does not decay except one bone; that is the little bone at the end of the coccyx of which the human body will be recreated on the Day of Resurrection."10
19. "And the heaven shall be opened, and it will become as gates.
Allowing the passage of descending angels.
20. "And the mountains shall be moved away from their places and they will be as if they were a mirage.
This is similar to the saying of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) in another Ayah of the Qur'an:
"And you will see the mountains and think them solid, but they shall pass away as the passing away of the clouds. The Work of Allah, Who Perfected all things, verily! He is All-Acquainted with what you do." [Al-Qur'an 27:88]
"And they ask you concerning the mountains, say: My Rabb will blast them and scatter them as particles of dust ... " [Al-Qur'an 20:105]
"And the day We shall cause the mountains to pass away (like clouds of dust)! and you will see the earth as a leveled plain, and we shall gather them all together so as to leave not one of them behind." [Al-Qur'an 18:47]
People think when they see the mountains that it mounts to something, yet it is nothing, and it will completely vanish without any remains.
21. "Truly Hell is a place of ambush,
22. "A dwelling place for At-Tagh'in.
At-Taghin: Those who transgress the boundary limits set by Allah like the Kuffar (disbelievers), Mushrikin (worshipping other than Allah), hypocrites, sinners, criminals, etc.
23. "They will abide therein Ahqaba.
Ahqaba (pl. Huqq'b) (i.e. for ages): One after the other forever as related by Qutadah, Al-Hasan al-Basri and other prominent scholars of the Salaf. Most of them mentioned that each Huqq'b is eighty (80) years.
24. "Nothing cool shall they taste therein, nor any drink.
No cooling their hearts shall they find in Hell, nor a good drink to quit their thirst. That is why Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) says:
25. "Except boiling water, and dirty wound discharges (i.e. pus, etc.).
The dark fluid is a festering water from the sweat, tears and wounds of the people of Hell.
26. "An exact recompense (according to their evil crimes).
Allah is All-Just. His punishment is All-Just. They will be punished because:
27. "For verily, they used not to look for a reckoning.
They did not believe that everything will return to Allah and, therefore, they did not prepare for this Day.
28. "But they belied our Ayat completely.
The proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations together with the guidance shown to them by Allah's Messengers, were faced with rejection and denial.
29. "And all things We have recorded in a Book.
Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) had known all the deeds of His slaves and had written them all in a Book long before mankind was created. He decreed reward and punishment. There is no sin more grave than Shirk (setting up rivals with Allah in worship). Those who commit Shirk have an ill opinion about Allah. Justly, they shall receive an eternal punishment and that is Hell.
30. "So taste you (the results of your evil actions): No increase shall We give you except in Torment.
It will be said to the people of Hell: taste what you are suffering. We shall not grant you an increase except similar torment and so it shall progressively multiply. It is related that 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "Allah did not bring down on the people of fire an Ayah more severe than this Ayah." He said they will be forever in a state of progressive increase in torment, and Allah is All-Just.
What about those who fear Allah and accept the Message of Tawhid?
Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) describes in the following Ayat some of their conditions:
31. "Verily for the Muttaqin there will be success (Paradise).
The Muttaqin are those pious and rigtheous persons who fear Allah, worship none except Him (subhanahu wa ta'ala) and do righteous deeds. They will end up in:
32. "Gardens and grapeyards.
33. "And young full-breasted (mature) maidens of equal age.
There are young virgin women whose breasts are firm (steady on their chests) and not loose as the breasts of women of this life.
34. "And a full cup (of wine).
Ikrimah (a great scholar of Tafsir) said that the wine of Paradise is clear. The resemblance to the wine is only in name. It does not cause any loss of conscious nor stomach pain and its taste and smell are good, unlike the wine of this life. In another ayah in the Qur'an, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) says:
"Round them will be passed a cup of pure wine; White, delicious to the drinkers, Neither they will have ghoul (any kind of hurt, abdominal pain, headache, a sin, etc.) form that, nor will they suffer intoxication therefrom." [Al-Qur'an 37:45]
There are rivers of this kind of wine in Paradise:
"Rivers of wine delicious to those who drink." [Al-Qur'an 47:15]
The wine of this world is prohibited because of its known evil effects on the individuals as well as the society. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "He who drinks wine in this world would be deprived of it in the Hereafter, unless he repents." 11
35. "No Falsehood shall they hear therein, nor lying.
It is the place of peace, nothing in it is deficient. As Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) says in the another Ayah:
"No vain speaking will they hear therein, nor any sinful speech (like backbiting, etc.), but only the saying of Salam! Salam! (Greeting with peace)." [Al-Qur'an 56:25-26]
All of these Favours are from Allah:
36. "A Reward from your Rabb, a Sufficient Gift.
37. "(From) the Rabb of the Heavens and the Earth, and whatsoever is in between them, the Most Beneficient. None can dare to speak with Him (on the Day of Resurrection, except with His leave)."
Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) tells us about His Greatness and Majesty and that He is the Rabb of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is between them. That He is the Most Beneficient whose Mercy encompasses everything. No one has the right or power to argue with Alah about anything. He is above all creation. He may permit those who plead in truth and righteousness but only after His permission is granted as He (subhanahu wa ta'ala) says:
"Who is He that can intercede with Him except with His permission?" [Al-Qur'an 2:255]
38. "The Day that the Ruh and the angels will stand forth in rows none shall speak except him whom the Beneficient (Allah) allows and he will speak what is right."
Ibn Kathir, may Allah's Mercy be upon him, mentioned sevens sayings about the meaning of the Ruh (Spirit): i) Jibril, ii) Special servants of Allah other than the angels, iii) The souls of the children of Adam standing forth in ranks, iv) Special creation of Allah having the form of the children of Adam yet they are not angels nor humans but they eat and drink, v) A special great angel, vi) The Children of Adam and vii) the Qur'an.
Ibn Kathir supports the opinion that the Spirit may be the children of Adam. Shaykh Muhammad al-Amin ash-Shanqiti (may Allah's Mercy be upon him) in his famous book of Tafsir, known as Adwa' ul-Bayan 12 said that the evidence from the Qur'an indicates that "the Spirit is the Special Angel Jibril." He cites as reference, the ayah about the descension of the angels in the Night of Al-Qadr in the month of Ramadhan. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) says:
"Therein descend the angels and the Ruh (Jibril) by Allah's Permission with all decrees." [Al-Qur'an 97:4]
The Ruh is Ma'toufah i.e. grammatically in conjuction with "the angels" in the above ayah, thus indicating that the Ruh is the Special Angel Jibril, and Allah knows best. Many other Mufassirrun (people of Tafsir) support the conclusion that the Ruh in the above ayah is Jibril. Others limit the Ruh to a Great Special Angel13. Ibn Jarir at-Tabari, in his Tafsir known as Tafsir At-Tabari 14 said that, " ... the meanings mentioned (see above), yet Allah knows best which one it is. There is no information that specifies that any particular one of these things (mentioned above) is the one which is meant in the ayah (#38, above), and that there is no supportive evidence (i.e. for any particular meaning). Ignorance about this matter is not, therefore, harmful." Allah knows best.
On the Day of Resurrection, only those whom Allah permits to speak or intercede will do so. They will speak the truth which is the witnessing of the Tawhid of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala): There is no true God who deserves to be worshipped except Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala).
39. "That is the True Day (they denied): so whoever wills, let him take a return to his Rabb.
A straight return to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) by obeying Him in this worldly life.
40. "Verily! We have warned you of near Tormet, the Day when man will see that (the deeds) which his hands have sent forth and the disbeliever will say: 'Woe to me! Would that I were dust!'
Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) says in other ayah:
"And they will find all that they did, placed before them, and your Rabb treats no one with injustice." [Al-Qur'an 18:49]
"On that Day man will be informed what he sent forward (of his evil or good deeds), and what he left behind (of his good or evil traditions)." [Al-Qur'an 75:13]
On that Day, the disbeliever wishes that he was mere dust in this worldly life and that he was not even created. This is when he sees the torment that Allah had prepared for him and when he examines his deeds written and recorded by the angels. It is explained also that he wishes to be a mere dust when Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) judges between the animal creation. There when Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) will make judgement for the hornless sheep against the horned sheep. After which He (subhanahu wa ta'ala) will order the animals to be dust and it changes to dust. When this happens, the disbeliever wishes he was dust (i.e. he was an animal)!
The meaning of this latter explanation was related in a Hadith by the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam): "The claimants would get their claims on the Day of Resurrection so much so that the hornless sheep would get its claim from the horned sheep." 15
This Surah, the Great News, affirms the Day of Reckoning and provides a beautiful as well as a terrifying illustration for what happens on that Day. These are facts and ayah from Allah for those who contemplate. May Allah guide us to re-examine our stand in this life in relation to His decrees and aim to comply with command. Amin.
Advice: Read the surah with family members, a friend, give a copy of it to someone around you and if you remember the person who compiled the Tafsir of this Surah ... don't forget to ask Allah to forgive him.
The One in need of the Mercy of Allah.