Tafseer Taha : Ayat 73-76

Link to video on Muslimmatters

Recap:

  • previously we talked about the magicians and the confrontation and how it ended up
  • the magicians were literally forced by what they saw and experienced into sajdah and also proclaiming their faith and belief
  • these were the best people to gauge whether Musa a.s.’s miracles were magic or not since they were the experts in the area of magic
  • same thing with when Prophet saw presented the Quran to the people, there was no one more qualified than the people at that time there to determine if it was poetry or what
  • some of the greatest minds at that time unanimously agreed that this was something they  had never seen before and it’s not words of a human being
  • Abu Jahl fesses up to the fact that what Muhammad saw was reading was not human and has no doubt that it’s something divine but he wouldn’t admit it due to the rivalry between their families
  • the poets at that time were among the Muslims, Abdullah Ibn Rawaahah, Kaab Ibn Maalik, Khansa (who sent her 4 sons out to fight for Islam), Hasan Ibn Thabit
  • these were some of the greatest poets of their time
  • story about Umar Ibn Al Khattab r.a. :-
  • when you read the books of seerah and life of sahabah, you’ll find that he had a couple of interactions with either the Quran or other type of realization of truths before accepting Islam
  • one of them was when he was sitting the near the Kaabah
  • he had a certain reputation among his people as being a problematic person but at the ed of the day he was the nephew of Au Jahl and so he was the nephew of Amr Ibn Hishaam, so he has that leadership ability
  • he’s a confident brazen individual
  • he also comes from a prominent family
  • he was a given a certain position in the Quraysh
  • they would sometimes send him to negotiate business terms with other tribes, peace treaty with other tribes
  • he was an intimidating guy, so he had a special place near Kaabah that was reserved for him (kind of like in the government, congress,) it was pretty prestigious
  • Umar started to hear the buzz about Prophet saw at that
  • one day he was sitting there and Prophet saw walks in quietly and begins to pray
  • this was even before revelation of this Surah (Taha)
  • at that point in time, Muslims were being intimidated but at least the Prophet saw had a certain amount of protection
  • so at this time, Prophet saw had this kind of freedom and felt comfortable enough to pray at the Kaabah
  • Umar was there and when he saw the Prophet saw praying, his reaction was “That? Him? That’s the big deal?? Is this what all the noise is about?? That doesn’t seem like it’s much trouble. Let me take care of this.”
  • So he started to approach the prophet saw from behind
  • Prophet saw was reciting surah Al Haqqah and was saying,
  • 69:38
    فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِمَا تُبْصِرُونَ
    Sahih International

    So I swear by what you see

  • 69:39
    وَمَا لَا تُبْصِرُونَ
    Sahih International

    And what you do not see

  • 69:40
    إِنَّهُ لَقَوْلُ رَسُولٍ كَرِيمٍ
    Sahih International

    [That] indeed, the Qur’an is the word of a noble Messenger.

  • As soon as Umar heard that, he said, “No, it’s not, it’s just poetry.” Then Prophet saw recites the next ayah
  • 69:41
    وَمَا هُوَ بِقَوْلِ شَاعِرٍ ۚ قَلِيلًا مَّا تُؤْمِنُونَ
    Sahih International

    And it is not the word of a poet; little do you believe.

  • Umar says “I feel like I just got punched in the gut. Then I started to think to myself ‘he’s a magician, he’s reading my mind! As soon as I start to think of this, he recites the next ayah…'”
  • 69:42
    وَلَا بِقَوْلِ كَاهِنٍ ۚ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَذَكَّرُونَ
    Sahih International

    Nor the word of a soothsayer; little do you remember.

  • Umar says that the shock of Prophet saw reciting that was so strong that he almost fell down
  • So Prophet saw recites the next ayah
  • 69:43
    تَنزِيلٌ مِّن رَّبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
    Sahih International

    [It is] a revelation from the Lord of the worlds.

  • this is the miracle of that time
  • in the story of the magicians, whatever accusation is made against the message of Musa a.s., they would be one who would be able to tell if the miracles was magic or not
  • they fell into sujud
  • firawn was furious and scolded them and told them of a terrible type of torture
  • they stood their ground though, “Do what you gotta do, the most you could do is only in this world. Go ahead. We’re more concerned with the next life.”
  • Ubayd Bin Umayr and Ibn Abbas talk about hos this is proof of the truth that Allah guides whom He wills
  • how powerful a force is iman in th heart :=>
  • the morning start with these magicians opposing the prophet and by evening they are among the strongest of believers
  • we’re still talking about them now
  • scholars says that the one dua that is never rejected is dua for guidance
  • Allah will guide, He turns in forgiveness and mercy and repentance and love upon the people
  • one of His sifaat is al wadod = one who loves without any conditions, prejudice and bias
  • two places it’s mentioned in Quran is at surah Hud at end of passage about people of Madyan and in surah Burooj where people tortured and burned to deaths a mass of believers
  • Allah’s quality of wadood embraces everyone
  • what is due from us in response to that love is to reciprocate by following the example of Prophet saw
  • when we reciprocate, that love that returns back from Allah, is explained in hadith of sahih Muslim as being more than the love of a mother for her infant baby
  • when we reciprocate with obedience, then Allah’s مُحَبَّه comes to us
  • now it’s a relationship
  • in Aali Imran “if you do claim to love Allah then follow me (Prophet saw) ..
  • 3:31
    قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
    Sahih International

    Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah , then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [3:31]

  • even the linguistic nuance is that يُحبِب could be said several other ways :- يُحِبَّ
  • ب is separated from each other
  • when Allah uses the bigger word it shows that there is even more love from Allah
  • imagine what that type of relationship with Allah would be like
  • Allah mercy and love embraces everyone, it’s upon us to accept it
  • the magicians accepted and embraced it
  • they were disbelievers in the morning and ended up as martyrs and being talked about years and years later
  • Allah approved them as role models for us
  • this is the power and nuur of Iman
  • from hadith and riwayaat, Firawn did carry out this torture
  • how did they bear that torture?
  • there are riwayaat from Ikramah (student of sahabah) imam Qurtubi mentions them too that when they fell into sajdah before Allah, in that sajdah Allah gave them a glimpse of Jannah
  • that is ALlah fortifying the believers and taking care of them
  • we alluded earlier in hadith of tirmidhi abut Aasiya
  • Allah presents her as role model not just for women but for believers
  • 66:11
    وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا امْرَأَتَ فِرْعَوْنَ إِذْ قَالَتْ رَبِّ ابْنِ لِي عِندَكَ بَيْتًا فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَنَجِّنِي مِن فِرْعَوْنَ وَعَمَلِهِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ
    Sahih International

    And Allah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, “My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.”[Tahrim 66:11]

  • it was said that she had secretly embraced teh message of Musa a.s. when he came back and presented the message
  • according to Imam Qurtubi, when this whole showdown happened, she was hiding inside the palace, she had servant girls running back and forth giving her the news
  • when she was told about the magicians making sajdah , she was inspired
  • “so what’s preventing me?” so she went forward and openly procalimed her faith
  • when Firawn heard about this, (realize that he had just suffered a huge setback), he compltely lost his mind
  • he immeidiately said “I don’t care about anything anyore!” everything was slipping from his hands
  • he became a wild animal in attack mode
  • “that’s it, she dies as well! I want to execute her in a way that will teach everyone a lesson!!”
  • she was tied up to the ground, strung out with her limbs pulled in four differnt directions, they went to an elevated structure and they took a big rock and Firawn commanded her to drop the rock on her and crush her to death for everyone to see
  • in Imam Qurtubi’s narration, it was said that when they went up, she had her eyes closed all the time, she was making zhkr, she opened her eyes and saw the rock coming at her and at that time, Allah tookthe ruh out of her body and when the rock fell on her, she was already dead and she didn’t feel the pain at all
  • as the magicians were being mutilated and srtung up t o be left for dead, they said in the next ayah

 

Ayat 73

20:73
إِنَّا آمَنَّا بِرَبِّنَا لِيَغْفِرَ لَنَا خَطَايَانَا  ۗ
Sahih International

Indeed, we have believed in our Lord that He may forgive us our sins and what you compelled us [to do] of magic. And Allah is better and more enduring.”

  • لِيَغْفِرَ := lam of ta3lee = reason
  • “we know what we’ve done with everything Allah gave us, we know our personal history is and we’re not proud of how we lived our lives but we believe in our master, the One who created us and gave us everything, and we believe so He may forgive our mistakes, shortcomings, slip ups
  • خَطَايَ is plural of خَطِيئَه
  • it comes from خَطَأ
  • it implies not only sins (thing that are wrong and people know they are wrong)  but things that people have done unknowingly and can’t even recall
  • they come back at Firawn (they are courageous people) and say “وَمَا أَكْرَهْتَنَا عَلَيْهِ مِنَ السِّحْرِ” [and the magic that you forces us to do!]
  • but did Firawn force them to do this magic?
  • in Shuara they negotiated with Firawn “What do we get if we defeat Musa a.s.?” and Firawn said that they woudl get an official government position
  • this is something Allah alluded to in ayah 62
  • 20:62
    فَتَنَازَعُوا أَمْرَهُم بَيْنَهُمْ وَأَسَرُّوا النَّجْوَىٰ
    Sahih International

    So they disputed over their affair among themselves and concealed their private conversation.

  • they were openly loudly figting, shoving, arguing with each other about not going forward with this
  • then..the ayah has the type of progression where they hushed up gradually
  • why woudl they sudenly become quiet?
  • because they realized that if they didn’t go forward with it, they’d have to deal with Firawn, so they had no choice
  • so that’s what they’re referring to here with وَمَا أَكْرَهْتَنَا عَلَيْهِ مِنَ السِّحْرِ
  • they’re not copping out here, but they’re letting firawn know that he has a hand in this situation too
  • and that rather than torturing them, it would be a lot better if he would underastand what’s going on and learn his lesson
  • these were their last words :- وَاللَّهُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ (And Allah is better and more long lasting)
  • why did they say these 2 things?
  • this was a responsse to what Firawn had said “youre going to find out who;s more severe in punishment and who is longer lasting”
  • in Ayat 74-76, just like earlier, at the end of dialogue between Musa a.s. and Firawn, , there were a few ayat that we talked about whether it was a continuation f Musa a.s.;s message of it was Allah interjecting and addressing us
  • similarly here Mufasiron discussed whether 74-76 is a continuation of the words of the magicians or if this is an interjection of Allah, giving us a take-home message
  • based on nuance and subject matter of the ayaat, it talks about iman, it’s very insightful, comprehensive about what a believer needs to know about iman, akhirah,
  • based on that it’s more appropriate to understand this as Allah interjecting and giving us a take-home message

 

Ayat 74

20:74
إِنَّهُ مَن يَأْتِ رَبَّهُ  فَإِنَّ لَهُ جَهَنَّمَ
Sahih International

Indeed, whoever comes to his Lord as a criminal – indeed, for him is Hell; he will neither die therein nor live.

  • “comes to his lord” = leaves this life and comes back to his lord
  • death and going to afterlife is coming to Allah = that was the perspective Prophte saw taught us
  • Prophte saw said “there is not a single person but tehre is a time and place and situation coming that his lord will directly address him and tehre will be no inermdiator between them, and Allah will ask him about what he’s done.”
  • another hadith “the feet of the son of Adam will not move from his’her place until he is asked about 4 things 1. how he spent his time 2. how they passed their youth 3. about their wealth where they earned and they spent 4. about their knowledge – how much of it did they actually act on”
  • this is the ultimate reckoning before Allah
  • we as believers as blessed and gifted but at the same time we are shouldering a lot of responsibility
  • in hadith that is muttaqafun alayh Prophet saw said “a slave of Allah that is given a responsibility and then he doesn’t follow through that responsibility that person will not even be allowed to smell the fragrance of Paradise”
  • you ever drive by a BBQ place and before you know it, your beard is wet because you’re drooling?
  • imagine how deprived these people will be that they won’t even be able to smell paradise
  • this is serious business, a reality of life
  • مُجْرِمًا – as a criminal
  • مُجرِم = a criminal that has been convicted
  • فَإِنَّ لَهُ جَهَنَّمَ – lam if isti7qaa – it means “he deserves jahannam”
  • لَا يَمُوتُ فِيهَا => this person will not be able to die
  • the people in hell want nothing more than to die
  • initially they ask for forgiveness and talk about their regret
  • at that point in time they will be told “إخسَؤُو فِيهَا وَلاَ تُكَلِّمُون” [be quiet] (a very angry way of telling someone to be quiet, not even just a ‘shut up’ but like kicking someone in the mouth while saying shut up)”
  • after this the only wish they have is to die
  • no matter how bad they want to die they won’t be able to
  • Allah talks about this :=  كُلَّمَا نَضِجَت جُلُودُهُم بَدَّلنَهُم جُلُودُُ غَيرَهَا لِيَذُوقُو العَذَاب [every time their skins are burned, We will replace for them new skin so that they can feel the punishment!]
  • this is one of most insightful ayat in Quran
  • when the skin burns, the nerves in that region die, so when you poke yourself there with a pin, you can’t feel it
  • when they’re in fire and they’re burned, they will get a new skin so they can feel the punishment
  • hadith in sunan that talks about death being brought in the shape of a ram and being sacrificed. That’s it, death is dead.
  • in that hadith, this is the most joyous[never-ending party] occasion the people of paradise ever experience and this is the most regretful moment for people of the hellfire[never-ending torture]
  • وَلَا يَحْيَىٰ = nor will they live
  • you don’t call that living. what is the quality of that life?
  • the negation is a negation of the quality of that life
  • they will have such a miserable existence for an eternity

 

Ayat 75

20:75
وَمَن يَأْتِهِ مُؤْمِنًا
Sahih International

But whoever comes to Him as a believer having done righteous deeds – for those will be the highest degrees [in position]:

  • there’s a flip side to this
  • this surah is a surah about iman, hereafter, repercussion, outcome of our deeds but overall the message is one that is very motivating inspiring and uplifting
  • keep in mind the historical context of revelation (sent as motivational boost to the Prophet saw)
  • but ayah 74 was overwhelming! Allah mentions that first so we internalize it and then Allah counters that with 2 ayahs (doubled up)  coming after, that talk about reward
  • someone who comes to meet and stand before Allah on that day as a believer, out of His mercy, benevolence, love, ..how can we qualify as a believer?
  • قَدْ عَمِلَ الصَّالِحَاتِ – most definitely he did good/righteous things
  • there is a linguistic nuance and it occurs twice in this ayah
  • in classical Arabic such as in the Quran, when you have an adjective that is for a plural entity, particularly if that plural is not an ‘intelligent’ plural (doesn’t present an intelligent being[it’s basically inanimate], such as الأَعمَال (actions)), it’s generally feminine singular الصَّالِحَة
  • the noun that is being described is omitted here to bring focus to the quality of those deeds
  • when you see a beautiful house, instead of saying هَاذَا بَيتُُ جَميلُُ, you say هَاذَا جَمِيلُُ to emphasize how beautiful the house is [“BEAUUUUUTIFUL!”]
  • that’s a rhetorical mechanism in classical Arabic
  • in this ayah , only الصَّالِحَاتِ is mentioned. الأَعمَال is not mentioned
  • the believer is tat person who does high quality deed
  • the focus is on the quality of your deeds
  • on top of that, Allah negates the quanity of deeds
  • He doesn’t just emphasize the quality but He goes as far as negating the quanity
  • the adjective of الأَعمَال should have been الصَّالِحَة, but instead it’s الصَّالِحَاتِ
  • whenever this happens(when a plural feminine is put in place of a singular feminine), it’s done to raise a red flag
  • why does this happen? if we look back at classical Arabic, it’s to say that it’s a very small quantity of plural
  • in brief:- so when Allah says this => قَدْ عَمِلَ الصَّالِحَاتِ , He’s saying that “whoever does good high quality deeds, even if they are very few…”
  • Allah emphasizes this here in 2 ways:- by omitting noun and by bringing an adjective that is abnormal
  • that is the rule we should live by => “Quality over quantity”
  • Prophet saw said, “خَيرُ أعمَال ادوَمُهَا إن قَلَّ”
  • from the eloquence of the Arabic language, even the verb that he (saw) used to say قَلَّ is 2 letters, you can’t say a past tense verb that is shorter than 2 letters in writing
  • yes lam has shaddah, so it’s 3 words technically, but script-wise, there is no past tense verb that can be written down less than 2 letters
  • this is to show how little the action needs to be
  • muhaddithoon when narrating this hadith, would do waqf on the ل to show the little quantity
  • فَأُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمُ الدَّرَجَاتُ الْعُلَىٰ = those people, they are deserving of very high levels
  • again, a bit of red flag here
  • in Ayat 4 in this surah :- الْعُلَى (a plural)
  • here, الدَّرَجَاتُ as a noun is plural and it’s a ghayr aqqil (inanimate) so the adjective should be singular feminine, but it’s not, it’s plural الْعُلَى
  • so why is Allah limiting the quantity of the high stages?
  • when you walk into an airplane, there are not that many first class seats
  • so it’s exclusivity
  • when something is very exclusive (backstage passes, first class) it makes it very desirable
  • when you see someone walking around at the convention with the VIP tag, everybody’s like “ooh, how do I get one of those?”
  • it’s human nature
  • Allah is motivating us here “Step up your game,there’s limited seats/spots available. You want to be in one of those first class seats (with Allah) then step up your game a little bit.”
  • and what is that stepping up? Allah is not telling us to do a lot, just do little but what little you do, do it with quality, do a solid job, do it with ihsaan
  • the Quran gives us that universal principle that Allah has decreed “ihsaan begets ihsaan”
  • if we want the ihsaan of Allah, we have to step up the game and do things with ihsaan
  • then Allah gives us a preview, because He loves us
  • like the glimpse the magicians were given
  • “let’s see if you can step up your game like those magicians did”
  • they were believers for half a day but they were believers with quality
  • how long have I called myself a believer?
  • what have I done with that time?

Ayat 76

20:76
Sahih International

Gardens of perpetual residence beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. And that is the reward of one who purifies himself.

  • جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ – gardens of Eden =. refers to a never-ending state of never-ending bliss
  • some mufasiron say it’s an elevated state in jannah
  • some say it’s representative of never-ending bliss and pleasure
  • تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ – running below these gardens are rivers
  • 2 meanings and Quran gives both:-
  • rivers literally flowing from beneath these gardens [expressed very clearly towards the end of surah taubah:
  • 9:89
    Sahih International

    Allah has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide eternally. That is the great attainment. [9:89]

  • جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ = it’s without the word مِن
  • in majority of places in Quran Allah uses the word مِن
  • when you appreciate the words in Quran you should appreciate them by all possibilities available here
  • one of primary meaning of harf jarr مِن, it’s مِن that states the beginning of something
  • “I started مِن the masjid” (مِن denotes the starting point)
  •  states the starting point of something مِن إبتِدَأيَّه
  • => these rivers start from the gardens
  • at beginning of rivers there is usually a huge enormous waterfalls
  • major rivers are usually born of waterfalls
  • origin of River Nile is a waterfall in Uganda
  • so Allah is also implicitly saying there are waterfalls
  • Allah says about these rivers in Jannah => “water that will never stench/smell bad. Rivers of milk that will never go sour. Rivers of pure wine that will be pure pleasure. Rivers of pure honey.”
  • if they start at the waterfall, then the waterfall must be of these as well [milk, honey, wine]
  • we have to appreciate what Allah is giving us a glimpse of
  • more that we can ever want
  • Prophet saw tells us about a palace in Jannah that is like a single pearl that is hollowed out. The distance between the ground and ceiling is 30,000 feet
  • everything we hear about Jannah is amazing
  • what makes it even more amazing are these 3 words :=> خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا (they will be there in eternity)
  • one advantage we have over previous generation is that our imagination are out of control
  • imagine that whatever we’re able to create, draw, design, Jannah is nothing an eye, ear have seen or heard
  • Allah uses a pointing word [ذَٰلِكَ] that is far away[إسم إشَارَة بَعِيد] for something that is lofty => وَذَٰلِكَ جَزَاءُ مَن تَزَكَّىٰ
  • تَزَكَّىٰ comes from root which means to internally cleanse and purifies something
  • zakaat maal – you only give 2.5 % of your savings but it purifies your wealth
  • tazkiyah [purification of self] called that because of this
  • we are very concerned with external purification, and this is for sure a part of our deen
  • Prophet saw a man dressed in tatters, and he (saw) knows this person has ability to dress properly so he (saw) says “Allah loves to see the effect of His blessings upon His slaves.”
  • but we live in a time where we don’t need to be given any motivation to do external purification, the problem is the internal
  • we’re playing catch up with that
  • so here Allah focuses on that
  • the word تَزَكَّىٰ – to internally purify oneself
  • the verb family this comes from is بَاب تَفَعُّل
  • one of benefits of this verb family is “to strive/struggle”
  • Allah is saying “just try. Whether you purify yourself in the end, it doesn’t matter, but just try.”
  • Allah judges us not from outcome but from effort
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