Tafseer Taha : Ayat 115-120

Link to video on Muslimmatters

Recap:

  • previously, the conclusion was to ask Allah for increase in knowledge and that knowledge which is beneficial, that the person is able to become better as a person through this knowledge
  • importance of ilm and seeking proper knowledge and objective of seeking knowledge : aside from right intention, there must be a constant dua for that Ilm
  • we are learning it to be obedient to Allah, how can we go on in that without turning to and asking Allah
  • ask Allah for knowledge because that will humble you before Allah
  • Ayat 115 would seem like a completely different topic
  • it talks about Adam a.s. and his entire situation in particular to the situation he dealt with in confronting shaytaan and how shaytaan deluded him into disobeying Allah
  • how does this fit into the theme of this surah?
  • Allah said to the Prophet saw “according to what has been mentioned previously, We are narrating to you stories that have passed before”
  • since it has passed before, it obviously has benefits and practical lessons
  • but at the same time, ask Allah for knowledge
  • Allah  bestows the knowledge of something that can only be given by Allah and there is no way a human can know it if Allah had not provided it
  • Allah told Prophet saw “don’t rush in terms of the revelation” [Make sure you are steadfast, compliant and pass the test and part of that test is don’t be hasty] and at same time Allah is emphasizing good actions, iman, consistency to Prophet saw
  • also included are be conscious hat there are certain tests in obedience of Allah, some of them are internal (don’t be hasty, impatient, anxious) but some challenges are external in terms of fulfilling, seeing through the obedience of Allah and the biggest of those is shaytaan
  • so here Allah warns Prophet saw of the traps and tricks of shaitan
  • look, shaytaan has been at it since the first human being and he has not stopped and you should also be ready to deal with him in case he comes your way
  • so Allah provides guidance to Prophet saw and the ummah by telling this story
  • Allah talks about hereafter and Allah consoles him (saw) and told him “listen there are certain internal forces at work here and as human being you will be apprehensive to a certain extent, but that ‘s fine just make sure you are not deluded by these internal distraction but be careful of the external distractions like shaytaan.”

Ayat 115

20:115
Sahih International

And We had already taken a promise from Adam before, but he forgot; and We found not in him determination.

  • وَلَقَدْ عَهِدْنَا إِلَىٰ آدَمَ = We had advised, commanded, told Adam a.s.
  •  مِن قَبْلُ = before your situation
  • so listen carefully about what transpired and be cognizant about how to deal with this situation
  •  فَنَسِيَ = literally => but/then he forgot
  • نِسيَان is a valid excuse for a human being, forgetfulness is a human challenge and excuse
  • in hadith, Prophet saw said, “lifted up from my ummah is the accountability of making an honest mistake and forgetting”
  • Adam a.s. overlooked/forgot this command of Allah for a split second and everything that came afterwards was a consequence of that
  • Allah has continuously emphasized throughout this surah and in las few sessions the element of reminder [zhikr]
  • nisyaan is the complete opposite of that
  • why does Allah keep emphasizing zhikr?
  • after this passage of Adam a.s. is done, after that, Allah will bring zhikr into it again
  • this shows you what occur when there might come a moment of that forgetfulness
  • if we forget Allah, Shaytaan will be able to delude, distract us
  • we talked about how forgetfulness is not even an offense that we are accountable for, it’s a human condition and prophet saw is guaranteed that this ummah won’t be held accountable for it
  • but later on Allah says “Adam disobeyed..وَعَصَى اَدَم”
  • so why does Allah say that then?
  • Junayd al-Baghdadi r.h. said, “the good deeds of the good people are sins for the extremely righteous people.”
  • sometimes there is a higher expectation from someone
  • when Allah says Adam forgot or disobeyed, we don’t take away from that that Adam a.s. is a sinful human being
  • but according to the expectation Allah had of Adam a.s.
  • it’s not a sin
  • we have to be very careful when talking about messengers of Allah
  • Allah can speak about them as He pleases but we have to watch it
  • in surah Abasa, Allah reprimands Prophet saw but that doesn’t give us a license to do the same
  • everyone needs to know his/her own place
  •  وَلَمْ نَجِدْ لَهُ عَزْمًا
  • this can be taken 2 ways
  • either Allah is saying he had a lapse of his determination to stick to command of Allah and that later led to forgetfulness and what Allah says as disobedience of His command
  • it can also be looked at in other way , that Adam a.s. didn’t intentionally disobey Allah
  •  وَلَمْ نَجِدْ لَهُ عَزْمًاis to intentionally, sit, think, ponder, plan out and intentionally carry out an act
  • Adam a.s. didn’t sit there and plot and plan this entire scheme to disobey Allah, it was just a lapse of forgetfulness where he lost sight of command of Allah and shaitan was applying full force on him
  • that’s where Allah provides an excuse for His Nabi
  • Allah generally talk about the entire scenario in this ayah:-
  • “We strongly advised him to do something, before, he forgot and “either he wasn’t able to carry out that level of determination We expect of him” OR “he didn’t deliberately do this””
  • then Allah talks about what exactly transpired

Ayat 116

20:116
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ
Sahih International

And [mention] when We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam,” and they prostrated, except Iblees; he refused.

  • اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ= Put your face on the ground for Adam a.s. (for his sake)
  • فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ = they did, except for Shaytaan
  • أَبَىٰ= he refused
  • right away here when Allah speaks about Adam a.s. Allah says فَنَسِيَ (he forgot) but when talking about Iblees, Allah says أَبَىٰ (he refused). See the difference
  • in surah al baqarah we get a bit more of the details that precede this
  • that Allah created human being and angels asked Allah about His wisdom in this and Allah said He knows what they don’t know and that Allah created human to show the potential of the human being
  • and to show the placement of human being in Allah’s creations, Allah told angels to make sujud to him
  • in our shariah we are forbidden to prostrate to anyone and anything and that is by command of Allah
  • but if Allah were to ask us to do so for anyone/anything that that is command of Allah and we have to do it
  • when Allah told them to make sujud, tauheed is to obey in that regard
  • now when Allah has forbidden us to bow our heads to anyone, so now the tauheed is to never bow to anyone other than Allah
  • there is really no huge philosophical quandary here
  • Allah told them to do so and they did so
  • in that is a greater sign of obedience, something my mind is not able to comprehend
  • from my mind, I don’t see how this makes any sense, I thought I’m only supposed to worship Allah, but when Allah tells you to do it, do it
  • no one cares what you can’t comprehend
  • since when did you become the standard/licensing body of what makes sense or not?
  • Islam is to submit, iman is to put your full faith in and trust
  • to carry out the command of Allah as He commanded
  • that’s an even greater test of iman and obedience
  • So Allah told them to make sujud to Adam a.s. and some response might be “Oh Allah I don’t understand why, but I will do it because You told me to.”
  • we are not comfortable with this, “But but it would be wrong..it is shirk….but if Allah commanded it it wouldn’t be shirk would it? It does not make sense to me, so I won’t do it.”
  • that was shaytaan’s problem
  • this is what this is talking about here :- total submission to Allah, absolute ubudiyyah, to be the property of Allah
  • if your phone doesn’t work anymore, you would throw it away as it’s no good anymore
  • to be a property of Allah, His slave, we have to function as a slave and property of Allah and that is in obedience and compliance
  • that is shaytaan’s problem
  • a lot of times, people ask “Allah commanded the angels, is Iblies an angel too?”
  • No he wasn’t, there’s a valid grammatical issue
  • this is why this is important to the study the grammar of the Arabic language
  • when you make an exception to something, it’s called إستِثنَاء
  • there are many different types of إستِثنَاء but subject wise there are 2 types of إستِثنَاء
  • إستِثنَاء مُنقَطِع and إستِثنَاء مُتَّصِل
  • when you make an exception, the thing you are excluding belonged to the group from where you are excluding it
  • for example, if we ‘re talking about the angels then we say, “except for Jibril,” then it’s إستِثنَاء مُتَّصِل, he belongs to that group
  • and then there is إستِثنَاء مُنقَطِع where when you make an exception but he doesn’t originally belong from that group but it’s being associated on the side and making you understand that a separate entity is being talked about here
  • so Iblies is not from the angels
  • the Quran is very clear about this :- كَانَ مِن الجِنّ = he was a jinn (literally)
  • so, he refused, أَبَىٰ= he refused, not forgot…because Allah tells us in Surah Araaf, he argued back with Allah
  • 7:12
    قَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ إِذْ أَمَرْتُكَ ۖ قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِّنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِن نَّارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِن طِينٍ
    Sahih International

    [ Allah ] said, “What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?” [Satan] said, “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay.” [ A; Araaf 7:12]

  • there was kibr, ujub, he was impressed with himself
  • that was what was going on with shaytaan
  • at the same time, there was jealousy in shaytaan as well “Why is Allah having favor on him?”
  • that led to the downfall of shaytaan, we can learn a lot from this
  • Islam is a religion that doesn’t allow us to grasp the religion itself but at the end of the day it all boils down to is obedience
  • that even when I can’t understand something, I’ll be obedient
  1. shaytaan puts his intellect before his obedience – we have to be careful about that
  2. shaytaan was impressed with himself, he was arrogant, proud, conceited, prideful
  3. shaytaan was extremely jealous and that is the downfall of a human being
  • so after confronting and challenging and disobeying Allah, shaytaan says, “Give me time till the Day of Judgment”
    • 7:14
      قَالَ أَنظِرْنِي إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ
      Sahih International

      [Satan] said, “Reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected.”

  • He swore by Allah’s power, glory and might that he would lead them all astray but even he had to admit that except for the sincere slaves of Allah, he would not be able to lead them astray

 

Ayat 117

20:117
Sahih International

So We said, “O Adam, indeed this is an enemy to you and to your wife. Then let him not remove you from Paradise so you would suffer.

  •   إِنَّ هَٰذَا عَدُوٌّ لَّكَ = this guy right here is a very clear enemy
  • عَدُو comes from عُدوَان
  • عُدوَان alludes to crossing the boundary in regards to something
  • this guy has crossed all limits and he is an enemy for you
  • he has crossed any and all lines in order to be able to distract, harm, hurt you
  • he disobeyed Allah and he’s willing to do anything
  • an enemy is one who is willing to cross any line to harm you
  • even here the scholars mention that Allah refers and alludes to shaytaan as هَٰذَا
  • Allah didn’t say إنَّ شَيطَانَ
  • so why didn’t Allah say إنَّ شَيطَانَ here?
  • this is a form of تَحقِير
  • when you don’t want to acknowledge someone you don’t say their name, instead you say “that guy”
  • it’s to humiliate, to not acknowledge someone personally, individually
  •  وَلِزَوْجِكَ = and for your spouse
  •  فَلَا يُخْرِجَنَّكُمَا = whatever you do don’t let him remove both of you out
  • where in the obedience of Allah, Shaytaan tries to pull us out
  • misery loves company
  • shaytaan is miserable and he wants company
  • he wants to put you out of the mercy of Allah into the curse and wrath of Allah
  •  مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ = from paradise
  •  فَتَشْقَىٰ = because if that happens, you would suffer
  • linguistically when Allah mentions  فَتَشْقَىٰ , He mentions it in singular form
  • ‘both of you’ and then it’s a singular address (to Adam a.s.)
  • why?
  • scholars mention that this is subtly (this is beauty of Quran that Allah can say so much in so little) to show that Adam a.s. is the head of the household and he is responsible
  • Imam Qurtubi uses this as proof of the responsibility of a husband/father in a marriage/household
  • the husband/father is not just responsible for the worldly needs of this family, but also of the spiritual needs of his family
  • “You better be on top of this, Adam, this is YOUR responsibility”
  • in authentic narration, Prophet saw talk about this also
  • often time we like to be cognizant of the authority given to us but we need to equally be cognizant also of the responsibility that comes with it
  •  فَتَشْقَىٰ means hardship , can be in terms of dunya or akhirah, but here Allah refers to hardship of Dunya
  • Imam Qurtubi says that he has to end up eating from the labor of his two hands
  • in Jannah, Allah already made arrangement for them
  • Allah is telling Adam a.s. that shaytaan will try hard to get him out of jannah and if that happens, Adam a.s. will have to work very hard just to get the basic necessities that can easily be gotten in Jannah
  • Allah elaborates : what are some of those needs? next ayah

Ayat 118

20:118
Sahih International

Indeed, it is [promised] for you not to be hungry therein or be unclothed.

  • إِنَّ لَكَ أَلَّا تَجُوعَ فِيهَا = definitely what is guaranteed for you in jannah now is that you don’t feel hunger
  • it’s a blessing of jannah and this is explicitly mentioned by Prophet saw as a gift of Allah in Jannah that they won’t feel hunger
  • but this also is talking about the facilitation of food (you will be provided for)
  • كُلُو وَاشَرَبُو هَنِيئََا بِمَا اسلَفتُم فِي الأَيَّامِ الخَالِيَه = enjoy all you want, live it up because of the work you put in times past
  • food will be readily available but there won’t be hunger to begin with
  • hunger is human weakness that will be removed
  • but food will be readily available, you will then eat because you can
  • no worries about getting fat and no worries about consequences that follow afterwards
  • right now Adam, you don’t feel hungry in paradise
  •  وَلَا تَعْرَىٰ = and you are not unclothed/naked
  • you are provided with clothing that is a covering, comfortable, securing, you won’t have to worry about the purchase, arrangements, wearing out these clothes etc
  • you are adorned and dressed and covered in the most amazing way possible
  • no worries
  • there is that kind of preview for us of Jannah of the clothing and the quality of it
  • hadith of Prophet saw that says one handkerchief will be more beautiful and valuable than all this world and that it contains
  • Allah goes onto recount the blessings in next ayah

Ayat 119

20:119
 وَلَا تَضْحَىٰ
Sahih International

And indeed, you will not be thirsty therein or be hot from the sun.”

  • وَأَنَّكَ لَا تَظْمَأُ فِيهَا = and also that you never feel thirsty
  • even if you were which you don’t, and won’t, what is provided in Paradise? Rivers of pure water, milk that w;t go sour, honey, wine that is not intoxicating, then there are also waterfalls
  • you can have whatever you want just like that, it’s provided
  • so you’re not thirsty . why do you drink it
  • you don’t get burned
  • it can mean :-
  • to feel heat on the skin
  • you can further understand that as to get heat on the skin and get sunburned
  • you can do anything you want, party etc without any concern of being burned by the heat
  • that’s what Allah is recounting the 4 basic needs of a human being
  • imam Qurtubi talks about this in detail that this talks about the 4 basic needs of a human being : food, shelter, water, clothing
  • in Jannah, it’s talking about it in a different way
  • the sun won’t burn you but even then there will be huge shades shading you there
  • “if a person rode a horse for  100 years he won’t be able to pass through the shade that that tree casts down”
  • “distance from the ground to the ceiling in jannah will be 30,000 arms length”
  • the scholars, fuqahaa, mufasiroon also extract from this, that Allah mentions فَتَشْقَىٰ  specifically to Adam a.s. and then He mentions these things, so these are part of the worldly/financial responsibility of the man of the household for his family members
  • he has to provide these things
  • Quranic beauty in sequence and shuffling of words:- Allah mentions hunger then clothes then thirst and then being burned by sun

Wouldn’t it make more sense to mention hunger then thirst and then sun and then clothes? scholars explain:-

  • there won’t be extreme cold nor extreme heat in Jannah
  • when you feel very cold the body has to burn whatever energy it has to be able to create heat so the person doesn’t freeze to death, you need something to eat and fuel the body => food/hunger
  • clothing : you feel the need of clothing more than ever before when you are in the cold. You want extra layers of clothing
  • in Ayat 119, Allah mentions thirst and heat from the outside. scholars say that this means there won’t be extreme heat either in Jannah
  • heat makes you thirsty
  • you feel heat on the outside of the body
  • that’s why Allah puts it in this order, no extreme heat nor cold but just the perfect temperature
  • based on this also, scholars says that Jannah will not leave you feeling lacking/empty nor will you feel any type of pain in any way/type/kind
  • when a person is hungry it shows the stomach is hungry and internally the person has emptiness
  • when person is without clothes, the body is lacking something
  • when person feels thirst, that is internal pain
  • when the person is burned, that is external pain
  • no shortcoming nor pain in Jannah
  • so Allah told Adam a.s. فَتَشْقَىٰ is that he would have to work hard to get these things in the dunya where these are already provided in jannah
  • that part of reality of life that we have to go out and seek these things

 

Ayat 120

20:120
 إِلَيْهِ الشَّيْطَانُ قَالَ يَا آدَمُ
Sahih International

Then Satan whispered to him; he said, “O Adam, shall I direct you to the tree of eternity and possession that will not deteriorate?”

  • فَوَسْوَسَ = shaytaan did waswasa (to whisper)
  • you can hear was was , the repetition
  •  there are many different examples of this in Arabic
  • the repetition of syllables implies repetition of action and behavior
  • shaytaan is relentless, obsessed, comes to you again and again and again
  • shaytaan runs away when azhan is called but once it’s done, shaytaan comes back, he doesn’t quit
  • shaytaan came at Adam a.s. from all angels possible
  • root of shaytaan is شَطَن whcih means to be very far, distant from mercy of Allah
  • how did he come to Adam a.s.?
  • هَلْ أَدُلُّكَ عَلَىٰ شَجَرَةِ الْخُلْدِ = You mind if I show/point to you the Tree of Eternity? You eat from this, the blessings of Allah will never cease
  • وَمُلْكٍ لَّا يَبْلَىٰ = and a kingdom that will never wear out/deteriorate
  • from this we learn about the weakness of the human being :- wanting blessings forever
  • to want to have possession that never diminishes is a huge test of the human
  • in Surah Araaf shaytaan came from a different angle :-
  • 7:20
    Sahih International

    But Satan whispered to them to make apparent to them that which was concealed from them of their private parts. He said, “Your Lord did not forbid you this tree except that you become angels or become of the immortal.”

  • Shaytaan came at them from multiple angles
  • “you want to become perfect in obedience of Allah?”
  • shaytaan will do what he needs to say
  • we have to be conscious of that

 

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