Tafseer Taha Day 1: Intro & Ayat 1

Link to video on MuslimMatters

  • very important to know the etiquette of studying book of Allah is to learn the background for the ayaat
  • if we plan to study the entirety of the surah, it’s very important to learn about the surah, acquaint ourselves with the surah and familiarize ourselves with it and the message
  • it’s a part of the process
  • Taha is surah # 20
  • when was it revealed in the lifetime of the Prophet saw? middle time of duration of prophethood in Makkah (estimated about 6th year of prophethood= 6 years after beginning of revelation)
  • this surah shares a very close relationship with the previous surah (Maryam), it’s as if it’s a continuation while also being independent
  • they are sister surah in terms of when they were revealed (around same time)
  • surah Maryam revealed shortly right before migration to Abyssinia
  • surah Taha was revealed very shortly thereafter
  • what does that tell us?
  • this was a very difficult moment in life of Prophet saw and a very difficult time for the believers
  • even though opposition in Makkah later intensified and resorted to trying to assassinate P saw, at this time dawah had gone public years before that, so it took a couple of years for word to get around
  • it took a couple of years for the opposition’s patience to wear thin
  • this was right around the time when they(Opposition in Makkah) started to get a little frustrated with the situation going around the city (that the truth is out)
  • this was when they started to persecuting the believers, thought they haven’t yet laid hands on Prophet saw
  • this was what pushed the believers to migrate to Abyssinia
  • it’s a little different than the end days of Makkan period because the number of believers were swelling such tat you find some sense of togetherness
  • at this point in time, there were literally maybe 2 dozen Muslim at the most and a dozen of them publicly Muslim
  • imagine half of them leaving town for Abyssinian and you have only a few people left
  • Prophet saw then sacrificing more than other people sacrifice and believers enduring torture every singly moment and there is not much to show (very few Muslims)
  • so it was emotionally distressful
  • nature of P saw was such that he kept pushing harder and harder, not just the people but himself, harder than humanly possible
  • he was talking to people, taking abuse, praying all night long, preaching from the morning
  • that’s why he had system of naps, slightly before fajr, then in afternoon time
  • his family would say that they would see him sitting somewhere and just doze off
  • all night he was praying crying begging Allah to make the mission successful, allow him to fulfill the mission and allow it to enlighten the hearts of the people
  • this was when this surah was revealed
  • this is something that will be repeatedly brought up and will put the ayaat in perspectives
  • at same time, the believers were dealing with a lot of difficulties, they were sacrificing greatly, being tortured
  • Quraysh were becoming more brazen, outspoken in their torturing, oppression
  • take all these dynamics into consideration
  • shortly after the revelation of this surah, you see the purpose of this surah by talking about this
  • you see acceptance of Islam by Umar Ibn Al Khattab (a very powerful story but Sh will leave it for later- maybe 3-4 days into the study of this surah)
  • the story in itself is very inspirational
  • what turned his heart were those ayat in surah Taha
  • we should have a detailed discussion on the meaning of those ayat and then we can experience what Umar experienced
  • tarteeb of the mushaaf (order of the surah that is put in the Quran)
  • scholars of Sciences of the Quran are in agreement of the fact that when ayah was revealed, the placement was also sent down by Allah
  • if ayat 16-20 were revealed, the Prophet saw would be told that this is ayat 16, 17, 18, 19, 20
  • a little bit of difference of opinion by scholars that ayat in surah were organized by Allah, but the surahs themselves, wer they organized by Allah or Prophet saw and sahabah did?
  • there are scholars on both sides on the issue
  • the scholars who are more reputable in Ulum Al Quran are of opinion that this is of divine order
  • Sheikh also personally more comfortable with this opinion as it was also those held by his teachers
  • this surah comes before Anbiyaa and after Maryam

How it connects to surah Maryam

  • at end of Maryam, Allah speaks about the Quran


  • in ayah 97, Allah says,
  • 19:97
    Sahih International

    So, [O Muhammad], We have only made Qur’an easy in the Arabic language that you may give good tidings thereby to the righteous and warn thereby a hostile people.

  • we have facilitated it upon your tongue
  • why? => so you can use it to congratulate the people who are cognizant and aware of Allah, deliver good news to them, motivate and inspire them
  • and you can use the same Quran that has been facilitated to warn people who are very stubborn (qauman luddan)
  • Allah spoke about the function and purpose of Quran and how Prophet saw can utilize it
  • in beginning of Taha, Allah says,
  • 20:2
    Sahih International

    We have not sent down to you the Qur’an that you be distressed

  • we didn’t send down this Quran upon you to cause you distress/problems
  • we see that segue from Maryam to Taha here
  • Quran is meant to make our lives better and easier and not worse and more difficult
  • at same time, there are many different links between one surah and the next


  • in Maryam ayat 93, Allah says,
  • 19:93
    Sahih International

    There is no one in the heavens and earth but that he comes to the Most Merciful as a servant.

  • everyone who is in heavens and earth will all come to Allah in servitude, as slaves
  • they will have no choice but to come to Allah
  • at beginning of Taha, ayat 6 Allah says,
  • 20:6
    Sahih International

    To Him belongs what is in the heavens and what is on the earth and what is between them and what is under the soil.

  • everything belongs to Him and Him aloneon a broader level in Surah Maryam, ayat 98 Allah says,
  • 19:98
    Sahih International

    And how many have We destroyed before them of generations? Do you perceive of them anyone or hear from them a sound?

  • a challenge is presented here:- how many generations have been destroyed, do you find any of them remaining today?
  • one of the topics Allah talks about prominently in surah Taha is Musa a.s. and his interaction with Firawn and his people and culminating in Taha 98
  • see the connections between the surah

Objective of Surah Taha

  • in one statement, the thesis, central idea :- Islam is a blessing and not a curse
  • whatever that comes along with it, belief in God, hereafter, Quran, prophethood, messengers, etc all these are blessings and not a curse
  • it came to make lives better and not worse

Allah establishes this by many means:-

  • Allah talks about story of Musa a.s. :-
  • specifically about Musa a.s. and his dealings with Firawn (there will be opposition and how you deal with it and there is benevolence in it too)
  • prophethood and how it has opposition and it should not be seen as a curse, you shouldn’t be bothered by it
  • on believers’ perspectives (Bani Israel) what they had to deal with in hands of the Coptics (the animosity, and eventually there is reprieve from Allah and how that small duration of sacrifice is a means of mercy from Allah)
  • one thing pointed out eloquently in the surah and also in Maryam – Ar Rahmaan repeated a lot
  • comes from rahmah = mercy; Rahmah is a means of bringing 2 things together
  • womb called rahm => means of establishing the most beautiful relationship between 2 humans (mother and child)
  • when Prophet saw was trying to explain something to us to show what Allah’s mercy is like, he speaks about love of a mother for her child
  • think of how profound that love is that Prophet saw uses that as a standard to explain rahmah
  • Rahmaan is the exaggerated form => the abundantly/extremely merciful
  • this is part of the tone, the literary feature of this surah is that Islam and everything that comes with it is a blessing and not a curse
  • even ayaat that talk about punishment will say Ar Rahmaan
  • Allah frequently mentions concept of guidance and misguidance throughout surah
  • Allah will speak about the magicians of Firawn , not just how they embraced Islam but were willing to be killed for it
  • Allah speaks about the hereafter and outcome of people there
  • Allah speaks about Adam a.s. and his wife and their interaction with Iblis and how these 2 entities went to 2 very distinct directions and the implications of that
  • there are some people you can call unfortunate (cursed) that they put themselves in a bad situation, that that will be plight of some people but Allah tells us what they did to end up like that
  • importance of patience, prayer, remembering Allah as a means of overcoming whatever challenges might present themselves in the pursuit of truth
  • they are to be understood as a temporary test of endurance and what you need to get through that situation
  • Allah speaks about His pleasure and how to attain it
  • Allah directly addresses His speech to Prophet saw throughout the surah
  • the 2nd person address is very prominent throughout the surah
  • Why? will be covered in tafseer of 2nd ayat
  • when Allah speaks to opposition, Allah doesn’t speak to them directly but in 3rd person to show displeasure and to fortify strength and conviction of Prophet saw, to let him know that Allah is on his side
  • the story of Musa is a very prominent feature of this surah (wisdom etc will be covered later in Ayat 9)

Name of the surah

  • Allah starts with Taha so it has been referred to as such throughout history
  • different surah may have multiple names
  • surah Maryam, many scholars refer to as surat Ar Rahmah because of the mention of this throughout the surah
  • ‘Allama As-Sakhawi who is a great scholar of the Quran says that Taha has been referred to by some people of knowledge as Surah Kaleem because of Musa a.s. dubbed as Kalimullah
  • Alah speaks about Musa at such length and detail that they refer to this surah as Surah kalim

Virtues of Surah Taha

  • When talking about the virtues of surah, the vast majority of those narrations range from weak to very weak to all out fabricated to not even being mentioned among those that are fabricated
  • there is a historical phenomena in this ummah that  is responsible for such narrations
  • a sect that deviated called the Karramiyah, one interesting dynamic of this sect is that they were of the belief, misguided intention
  • this group came along when people were getting distant from the Quran, so they wanted to fix the problem
  • they said they have to make up a lot of the virtues of the Surah so people want to learn the surah
  • not by coincidence that majority of such narrations wrongly attributed to Ibn Abbas (sahabah who is very well known with his knowledge of Quran)
  • they used him because of his authority, that if he is mentioned, surely people will take it out of respect
  • Allah gave him deep understanding of the Quran
  • he has big credibility
  • he is the leader of all interpreter of the Quran
  • Some of the popular narrations that are used to emphasize Surah Taha but don’t quite hold up when put to the authentication of hadeeth
  • another problem – we feel that there needs to be a super exotic virtue for us to want to read a surah
  • it is out of mercy of Allah that when a virtue is mentioned, it’s a blessing
  • narration in Sahih Bukhari and in Baihaqi; narrated by Ibn Masoud, he said that P saw said with regards to surah Bani Israel (surah Isra) and Kahf, anf Maryam and Taha and Anbiyaa, “They are from the 3itaaq(they take a person to the culmination and completion of faith), and they are from the talaadi(metaphor : this is not just wealth, but old treasure, resource – these are the surah that were revealed in the early days of Makkah)***”
  • one meaning of 3ateeq = something that releases, frees from trials and tribulations, kufr and disbelief, punishment in hereafter
  • 3ateeq – also used for something that reaches its completion
  • talaadi – refers to wealth that is very old, almost like inherited wealth, family money that has been there for generations
  • *** these were what got us through those days of Makkah. You youngins who came much later, yes, take benefit from the surah that came in Madinah but don’t forget about the old surah, those were tough days, these surah got us through those tough days
  • another narration that has been authenticated – narrated by Umaamah, Prophet saw said, “the amazing greatests names of Allah is mentioned in 3 surahs of the Quran ; Al Baqarah, Aali Imraan, Taha”
  • scholars discussed at great lengths what Prophet saw is refering to here
  • some say it’s hayyu qayyum, others says Ar Rahmaan, some say whenever Allah combines pronouns referring to Himself
  • Allah introduced Himself to Musa Innani(attached pronoun) Ana(independent pronoun) Allah (His name)
  • this narration in books of Ibn Maajah and authenticated by scholars of hadith
  • most famous narration, attributed to Abu Hurayrah, mentioned in Musnad ad-Daarimi where Prophet saw said that Allah recited Taha and Yaasin before creating the heavens and earth by a 1000 years. When angels heard it they said congratulations on the people who this will be revealed to and congratulations to the hearts that will containt and congrats to the tongues that will recite these blessed words [very weak]
  • some scholars who are more stringent went on to say that this narration is fabricated – Allah knows best and best to leave these narrations alone
  • should be left to the experts
  • we’re better off just focusing on the message of the surah and that is the virtue we’ll get at the end of the day

Portion/Format of the surah

  • this surah is interesting in the sense that it has 3 portions to it

1st portion :- Ayat 1-8 [objective => to console the Prophet saw]

  • this is Allah looking out for His beloved and coming to the emotional rescue of His messenger, it’s powerful and beautiful

2nd portion :- Ayat 9-98 [story of Musa a.s.] but it’s a variety of topics

  • Musa a.s. receiving revelation
  • Musa a.s. returning from Madyan
  • being sent to Firawn,
  • conversation and dialogue with Firawn
  • the miracles sent to him
  • confrontation of Musa and firawn
  • acceptance of Islam by magicians of Firawn
  • interaction of musa with believers and how Allah saved them from firawn
  • when Musa called for a retreat by Allah at Mount Tuur
  • every worker even prophet saw requires a bit of a refueling, retreat
  • what goes on with the peoiple while Musa was gone and after math of that situation
  • Musa a.s. returning to his peopleand fixing up whatever had transpired within his people

3rd portion :- Ayaat 99-135 [consoling Prophet saw and believers]

  • life of hereafter, remembrance of Allah, prayer and role of it in believers’ lives
  • it’s right back to where it started
  • it’s mercy and benevolence of Allah
  • this gives you this idea why this surah is appropriate for us to study here

Ayat 1

Sahih International

Ta, Ha.

  • 2 letters
  • normally when letters are written together, they are read together, but not in this case
  • there are 28 other places like this in Quran where this exception exists
  • they are called huroof muqattaat (disjointed letters)
  • you say the name independently

Shaazh(obscure/fringe) opinions:

  • some of scholars, Ibn Abbas mentioned as having said that this refers to:-
  •  طَئِل الأَرض، طَوَ يَطوِ، طَأَ يَطُ – to plant your feet, to stop
  • “Plant your feet, oh man!” (that’s why it ends with ha)
  • narrations that are weaker in authenticity : when Prophet saw would push himself so hard, in prayers he would lean from one foot to the other, so Allah is telling him here, “Plant your foot, stand firm”
  • why Allah telling him this? Because what is about to come next will give you balance in the situation and also to motivate him (you’re doing right)
  • Abdulah ibn Amr Ibn Aas that in the lughah of the people of 3aak it refers to Habeeb
  • so sometimes you may hear that Taha is name of Prophet saw (no real evidence supporting that)
  • this was drawn from this lughah because from this dialect of these people who are living a bit of a lengths away
  • that they’re saying that Allah is calling the Prophet saw Ya habeebi in the lughah of these people
  • the vast overwhelming majority of sahabah, tabi3een and scholars of this Ummah says that the meaning of taha falls in line with the meaning of the other disjointed letters (that the meaning has not been disclosed to us) – Allah knows best
  • a lot of the time when people in trying to explain, due to language barrier or whatever might say that this doesn’t mean anything, but it does, whatever is in the Quran has meaning, we just don’t know it

But why would something in the Quran has meaning that we don’t know?

  1. it reminds us that at the end of the day, no matter how much you know, there is always something you don’t know
  • Ibn Abbas’ reflection:- when referring to the mutashaabih in the Quran, there are some things in the Quran we don’t know the meaning of, and the people who are deep in knowledge say that we believe in it, this is a test for the aalim – to be able to say ‘I don’t know’
  • the test for the jaahil is to learn
  • Imam Malik when he was asked to list answers to 40 questions, for majority of them he said “La Adri (I don’t know)” to the point that the person with these questions said “What should I say to the people when we return?!”
  • Imam Malik said, “Tell them Malik doesn’t know.”

2. to remind us of the fact that whenever we approach the Quran, approach it with an attitude of ‘I don’t know and I’m here to learn.’

  • if you approach the Quran with an entitled attitude, assuming that you already know and understand with all these assumptions, then you yourself marginalize the benefits one can get from the Quran

3. one of the key reasons of the mention of these types of letters is it grabs the attention of the listener and reader

  • it’s like if we just say Ayyyyyych(H)! it grabs your attention
  • the disbelievers were not wanting to listen to the Prophet saw, covering their ears, saying “La lalalalala” and suddenly the surah is being recited, and it grabs their attention
  • it captivates you

So it’s not a coincidence and the vast majority where these disjointed letters are mentioned, Allah immediately follows it by mention of the Quran within the Quran.

Never minimize what you learn from the book of Allah !

Prophet saw said “for every letter there are 10 rewards, and I’m not saying that alif lam meem is one letter but alif lam meem is 3 letters, alif is a letter and lam is a letter and meem is a letter.”

I have been keeping an eye out for this Ramadan Tafseer Series by Sh Abdulnasir but didn’t see it announced. Alhamdulillah they finally put it up! May Allah bless and abundantly reward all those involved in this life and in the aaakhirah! Ameen!


6 thoughts on “Tafseer Taha Day 1: Intro & Ayat 1

  1. Assalamualykum wr Juli! Thanks for posting this series. I’m only starting it, I hope to catch up soon. Jazaki Allah Khayran. Have a wonderful blessed fulfilling Ramadan with your family. Hugs, M

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