Tafseer Taha: Ayat 124-128

Link to video on Muslimmatters

Recap:

  • previously we conclude the passage about Adam a.s. and the test of Adam a.s. and his interaction with shaytaan
  • at the end of ayat 123, Allah says, “If guidance comes to anyone of you from Me, that person won’t lose his way or suffer here or in the hereafter”
  • this is leading to the conclusion of the surah
  • what is guidance of Allah? It consists of 2 things
  1. divine revelation :- for us it’s Quran
  2. practice realization and implementation of that which for us is the sunnah and seerah of Prophet saw
  • so just as Allah previously mentions that in dealing with the internal enemy, the guidance from Allah is the primary tool the believer has to confront it
  • self-defense in dealing with the shaytaan is the Quran and the sunnah
  • many times we talk about shaytaan and what he’s capable of, people feel a bit overwhelmed on how to handle it
  • shaytaan seems like a very formidable enemy
  • the solution is really simple
  • when Allah warns us about shaytaan and our nafs, the solution is to take what Allah has provided us and that is the Quran and Sunnah
  • that is complete protection from Shaytaan
  • there is a passage in Surah Ibrahim :- Shaytaan addressed the inhabitants of hell “Don’t blame me, blame yourselves. I had no power or control over you. I called you and you responded! Allah made a true promise to you and I made a promise to you but I lied to you. “
  • so the Quran and sunnah is definitely a protection for us
  • now in the following ayaat Allah tells us how that is protection for us

 

Ayat 124

20:124
Sahih International

And whoever turns away from My remembrance – indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind.”

  • وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَن ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا= whoever turns away deliberately, shuns and neglects
  • الإعرَاض means to turn away from something
  • الإعرَاض عن شَيء is to deliberately/ignore/neglect/intentionally turn away from something
  • remember what was said n other places [guidance will come and meet/greet us at our doorsteps]
  • guidance will come and stare us in the face
  • Allah says “the messenger came to YOU”
  • guidance shows up on our doorstep, it’s calling for our attention
  • when we ignore it, we are doing it deliberately
  • remembrance of Allah is a combination of 2 things
  • typically when Allah uses word ‘remembrance’s it’s generally the Quran
  • but that’s in a particular context where Allah is talking about revelation of the Quran
  • otherwise scholars unanimously agree that when Allah speaks about zhikr of Allah, that includes both the Quran and the life of the Prophet saw (which is an equally powerful reminder)
  • Allah mentions in Talaaq 10
  • 65:10
    Sahih International

    Allah has prepared for them a severe punishment; so fear Allah , O you of understanding who have believed. Allah has sent down to you the Qur’an.

  • then => Allah begins the next ayah with rasoolan
  • that zhikr is also a rasool, he details to you the sign of Allah that are very clear..so that he may pull out, extract, those who believe and do good righteous deeds from multiple layers of darkness into one singular light
  • 65:11
    Sahih International

    [He sent] a Messenger [Muhammad] reciting to you the distinct verses of Allah that He may bring out those who believe and do righteous deeds from darknesses into the light. And whoever believes in Allah and does righteousness – He will admit him into gardens beneath which rivers flow to abide therein forever. Allah will have perfected for him a provision. [Talaaq 65:11]

  • Prophet saw said “ALl my ummah will enter into paradise except those who refuse.” “Who are those who would refuse yaa Rasulullah ?” “whoever obeyed me has entered paradise and whoever disobeyed me he has refused.”
  • we should be very careful
  • especially with the life of Prophet saw, we should be very careful because we live in a time of fitnah
  • Prophet saw mentioned “A time will come when holding on to deen of Allah will be like holding a hot piece of coal in your hand”
  • shaytaan tried to deceive and trick Adam a.s. by saying “oh if you eat from the tree you will become angels” using spirituality as a means of deceiving and tricking
  • today there is a huge doubt cast upon the role and life of Prophet saw within the life of a believer
  • denying, refusing the reminder that comes to us through the life of Prophet saw is detrimental for the believer
  • what will be the outcome for the person who deliberately turns away ?
  • فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا = it will be reserved for him مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا
  • the ل is ل of  إستِحقَاق, for exclusivity => reserved for him
  • مَعِيش means life
  • another word for life used in Quran is حَيَات
  • مَن عَمَلَ صَالِحََا فَهُوَ مُؤمِن فَلَنُحيِّيَنَّهُ حَيَاةََ طَيّبَةَ = whoever does good deeds and is a believer then most definitely We will grant him a beautiful good life
  • why Allah use word here?
  • حَيَات is a general word for life whether it be a spiritual life of a person, in dunya or hereafter or life of inanimate objects
  • مَعِيش is only used for breathing living creatures, creatures that walk the earth
  • it refers to leaning upon, utilizing the physical resources that are provided and required for life and living
  • it refers to life of a creature that requires food, water, etc
  • see the Quran has consistency
  • in Ayat 118,119, it talks about food, drink, shelter, so it’s more fitting that Allah use the word مَعِيش here, it fits in the context here
  • ضَنك means something that is constrained, restricted and tight
  • so in this context it would mean a very restricting, difficult life
  • some of the mufassiroon have given their opinions and positions
  • many of tabi’oon say this refers to the punishment in the graves
  • some say this refer to life in hereafter
  • and that مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا is life in Jahannam
  • so what does this mean
  • hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah says that this is life in the grave and it’s befitting because when Prophet saw described what happens in the grave, he (saw) says the grave becomes tight and restricted on the person and demonstrated with his fingers, and that it squeezes the person so much that his ribs interlock
  • we don’t take away this fact from the Quran that when words are not specific, then we take the general message from it and don’t restrict the possibility
  • so it can mean this life too, that this life will be full of frustration and anxiety, a difficult life
  • question => we see people who are pious and righteous but they go through difficulty
  • it goes back to our worldview and how we perceive it ; what do we perceive to be a good or difficult life
  • if we consider materialistic things to be a good life and lack thereof as a life of anxiety and difficulty then we’ll have a lot of trouble in understanding this ayah
  • but if we understand peace and tranquility to be a good life and that the lack of it as a life or anxiety then we will understand this ayah
  • Prophet saw says in hadith of Bukhari “the most severely tested of people are prophets and the most like them there will be levels of degree and difficulty but it doesn’t take away from the fact that they have peace and tranquillity”
  • Abu Jahl was a very wealthy person, so was Utbah, so was Abu Lahab, but if they don’t have peace that’s a miserable life
  • something very common sense => too often when our reality and perception if skewed and what we look at is only what we can see in the world, we see people based on their happy face and brave front, we don’t really know what goes on behind closed doors
  • there ar multiple studies that talks about happiness factor where they graded levels of happiness and satisfaction across the world and US rank low in 70s or 80s
  • some of the top countries are Guatemala and Nicaragua
  • severe poverty in Nicaragua
  • Sheikh has traveled to third world country where they don’t even have electricity or water but they don’t have any worry in the world
  • it’s all a matter of perception
  • Sheikh, just sitting with doctors learn of how much they have to prescribe medication to people, people need help just falling asleep at night
  • if it’s a physical, medical condition, may Allah help them
  • but at the same time, just the way people live their lives, that is just the outcome of that
  • so this needs to be taken into consideration
  • so when people are turning away from reminder of Allah they are turning away from the peace and tranquility of the life in this world too
  • there’s always going to be something that you want more of, that’s going to be bother you, someone who is going to get on your nerve
  • it’s only the remembrance of Allah that will grant you that kind of tranquility
  • not on level f being apathetic, but at the end of the day you don’t let anything else weigh you down because you have a relationship with Allah
  • Prophet saw said, “a person who misses one prayer it is a tragedy at the level of losing all your family and your wealth”
  • the only thing you really truly need in life is Allah, when you miss salah and that opportunity to talk to Allah, your whole world comes crashing down
  • but that’s if you have the right perspective
  • otherwise, what are you putting your trust, happiness on?
  • if it’s people, Prophet saw was told in the Quran that “you will die one day, the people around you will die one day, your loved ones and enemies”
  • if you put your sole happiness into your loved ones you will still be disappointed at the end of the day
  • if you based your whole existence into your enemies, they will die one day and you won’t know what to do with yourselves anymore after that
  • if it’s wealth,
  • every single word in Arabic used for money and wealth ;- very fascinating
  • مَال which means wealth is something that leans away from you
  • the more you lean, the more you go towards it, the more it leans away from you and will pull you down with it
  • gold is called ذَهَب
  •  ذِهَاب = to go
  • ذَهَب ذَهَب = gold left => it’s gone!
  • silver is called فِضَّه  = at which dissipates, to scatter, to go away
  • even the words in Arabic is very telling about the nature of wealth
  • P saw talks about this, the 3 companions that accompany you at the time of a person’s death : your wealth (as soon as your body goes cold, it goes to somebody else, the family : as soon as they put you in your grave the move on
  • it’s your relationship with Allah that will stay with you, that lies in your grave with you , that will fend off the punishment of the grave and that will rise with you and that will lead you to paradise
  • wealth doesn’t even remain yours while you’re even still alive (fiqh-wise)
  • if someone becomes terminally ill, at that point in time, he is not allowed by shariah, fiqh to spend more than 1/3 of their wealth, because that 1/3 is the وَصَِيه
  • when you make a will in inheritance, 2/3 of your money is already protected and will be distributed among your relatives as Allah has laid out for us, 1/3/ is to gift to other people
  • if I”m alive I can spend all my money in sadaqah
  • but if someone becomes terminally ill, they were told by doctors they have limited time to live, they can’t spend all their wealth in charity at that point
  • he’s breathing, talking, but he can’t touch a portion of his own money, not even to give charity
  • Sheikh was reading Arabic dictionary and scholars explain that the word ضَنكَ refers to poverty, severe poverty
  • Question :- does this really mean poverty? depends on your perception of poverty
  • Prophet saw said “true wealth is wealth of the heart”
  • financial independence is garbage
  • true independence in life is to have a heart that is independent of the material things in this world
  • we are never independent of Allah, but this is talking about worldly independence => to have your heart detached from worldly things
  • is this an indictment of all wealth? No, as sahabah and tabi’oon and scholars said, wealth belongs in the hand but Allah and His messenger belong in the heart
  • when Prophet saw gave good news of the Jannah to the 10 sahabah in one sitting and Abdurrahman Bin Awf was from among them, Prophet saw addressed him, “Yaa Abdarrahman, you were also among us but you were crawling and drenched in sweat and you were crawling on all fours when you reached us, you came after 500 years.” He said, “Oh Rasulullah, why is that happening to me?” “because you had so much wealth and the accounting of that wealth took longer.”
  • but his wealth was blessing of Allah
  • during khilafah of Uthman ibn Affan, a trade caravan (delivery f merchandise arriving in madinah) was so huge that people in Madinah was so stunned by it
  • when they travel, at the most they would tie two camels side by side and they would travel long and narrow and as long as line would go it would go
  • a delivery arrived in Madinah of merchandise that was so long that the first camel was at one end of Madinah and the last one was at the end of Madinah
  • there was commotion outside and Aishah ra. heard and she went out and asked whose it was and they said Abdurrahman Bin Awf
  • she went to him and said, “Congratulations on your business venture but remember what Rasulullah saw said.”
  • he broke down in tears and literally gave the whole delivery in sadaqah, from the first to the last camel he gave to the baytul maal
  • that’s the difference between us and them, it’s in the hand, not in the heart, that’s what we have to learn to do
  •  وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَىٰ = and We will gather them in the condition that they will be blind

 

AYat 125

20:125
Sahih International

He will say, “My Lord, why have you raised me blind while I was [once] seeing?”

  • قَالَ = this person will say on that day
  • رَبِّ لِمَ حَشَرْتَنِي أَعْمَىٰ = why am I blind?
  • وَقَدْ كُنتُ بَصِيرًا = I used to be able to see!
  • Allah responds in next ayah

Ayat 126

20:126
Sahih International

[ Allah ] will say, “Thus did Our signs come to you, and you forgot them; and thus will you this Day be forgotten.”

  • كَذَٰلِكَ = Just like that
  • أَتَتْكَ آيَاتُنَا فَنَسِيتَهَا = Our clear evident obvious signs that can’t be ignored came to you, arrived on silver platter
  • Allah didn’t say جَاءَت but He said  اَتَت
  • they were put in front of your face, but فَنَسِيتَهَا = you neglected, forgot, didn’t pay attention to them
  • وَكَذَٰلِكَ الْيَوْمَ تُنسَىٰ= and just like that today, you are being forgotten
  • it doesn’t say that “Today Allah has forgotten you”
  • forgetfulness is not associated with Allah but put on the person
  • “It’s all on YOU”
  • You’re the one who turned away, ignored the signs, it’s all on YOU. Don’t try to put it on anybody else.

 

AYat 127

20:127
Sahih International

And thus do We recompense he who transgressed and did not believe in the signs of his Lord. And the punishment of the Hereafter is more severe and more enduring.

  • نَجْزِي = We reward
  • جَزَا is not positive of negative, it’s a general word, it means to give someone what they deserve, reimbursement, recompense
  • that’s why Allah adds the word سَيِّئَة
  • even in that there is  subtle message in the Quran that the only reason why the outcome for you was so bad and detrimental was because what you put forth was bad
  • but if you were to put something good and admirable you would have been recompensed with something admirable
  • many places in the Quran Allah speaks about this
  • “They’re just getting a return on their investment”
  • وَكَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي مَنْ أَسْرَفَ = this is how We pay the one who cross the line, excessive
  • but that wasn’t his only crime
  • excessiveness could have been forgiven
  • وَلَمْ يُؤْمِن بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِ = but he didn’t believe in the very evident clear signs of his Lord
  • وَلَعَذَابُ الْآخِرَةِ أَشَدُّ = no worries, now problems, because punishment of hereafter, without a shred of a doubt is more severe
  • أَشَدُّ is a comparative noun, it’s more severe
  • وَأَبْقَىٰ = and it’s longer lasting
  • what is it longer lasting or more severe than? that’s not provided
  • in الّلَه اكبَر, it means Allah is greater ______
  • you fill it in
  • so here it’s not specified because …imagine anything that you can
  • if you were to put the remembrance, deen, following sunnah the first ad foremost before your worldly gain, etc, maybe you might suffer some financial loss, slightly less worldly prominence, socially, what’s the worst that can happen to you?
  • but on the flip side, what can happen to you and the worst, is a long-lasting punishment
  • so anything in this dunya is nothing
  • if you put your worldly gains before Allah and His messenger, you might get some worldly gain but you’re exchanging that for an eternity of suffering, that is more severe and longer lasting
  • the Quran and Sunnah in certain select places talks about specific punishment of the hereafter
  • read that and you will have trouble sleeping at night
  • yes there is that encouragement, but there has to be some warnings too, just to put things into perspective
  • when you put Allah and His messenger first, some worldly suffering will come, no doubt about that, but if you have the proper perspective of what hereafter is like, you’ll laugh at the suffering of this world
  • where did Bilal r.a. get that type of strength, being dragged on the streets, lashed and out in the sun all day long…he says, Ahadun Ahad…
  • this doesn’t compare to the punishment of the akhirah
  • blessings of Allah eventually do come, it’s a promise of Allah but even then, see how remarkable the sahabah were
  • they had paid such a hefty price that even when the blessings came towards the end of their lives, they wouldn’t take it,they would refuse it, cry over it
  • when the spoils of war were put in front of them at the masjid of Prophet saw, they would cry and sob over it like children and they’re asked why, and they said, “We’re afraid that Allah is rewarding us for all of our sacrifice in the early days by side of Prophet saw here and now. We don’t want it. that’s not why we did it.”
  • Umar r.a. showed up late to Jumuah because he ony had one change of clothes
  • that is a very high standard and bar and it’s not fardh by any means, we’re not required to live that lifestyle
  • but that doesn’t change the fact that we should admire how they lived, it offers that perspective of life

 

 

Ayat 128

20:128
Sahih International

Then, has it not become clear to them how many generations We destroyed before them as they walk among their dwellings? Indeed in that are signs for those of intelligence.

  • أَفَلَمْ يَهْدِ لَهُمْ كَمْ أَهْلَكْنَا = wasn’t it guidance for them, did it not guide them..
  • huge discussion as to who is the doer of the action here :- did Allah or Quran, or messenger not guide them..
  • it could be all of those implied at same time
  • when doer is not mentioned it’s done on purpose so we can look at it from various angles and take lessons from many angles
  • this is the miracle of Quran
  • at same time, one interesting possibility is that the doer itself is what is mentioned next
  • كَمْ أَهْلَكْنَا قَبْلَهُم مِّنَ الْقُرُونِ = how many people We destroyed before them of many generations => did this fact that not guide them?
  • wasn’t it guidance enough for them?
  • as a human being, we’re encouraged and inclined to be very concerned, proud about our personal history
  • we’re intrigued, curious about our history
  • to the Arabs who were listening to this message, their personal history meant everything to them
  • he could be the worst wretched man on the planet, but if he came from the most respectable family….
  • and vice versa in that society’s eye, if he didn’t come from a noble family, even if he is the most noble man, he is nothing (like Bilal r.a.)
  • someone as wretched as Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab were leaders of the people
  • at that time, in that society, the first thing their children were taught was to memorize their own lineage, just like our children are taught surah Al Fatihah
  • think about this fact
  • so Allah is saying that the fact that so many people before them were destroyed from so many various generations, did this not open their eyes to the reality of the life of this world?
  • Aad and Thamood were from the Arab
  • they knew about this, it was very famous
  • on way to Tabuk, Prophet saw passed by the ruins and made istighfaar and told sahabah to make istighfaar
  • even in makkan Surah, Allah talked about Nuh a.s.
  • when you read pre-Islamic poetry, they would talk about the Great Flood, Aad and Thamood
  • we also need to realize, we read book of Allah, why does Allah tell us so much about people of the past; Firawn, etc, => so we would never forget that lesson
  • if dhikr of Allah doesn’t motivate let this motivate us
  • elf preservation is a natural human instinct, let that at the very least guide us
  • a lot of linguistic subtleties built into the ayat
  • it’s a rhetorical question and Allah asks it in the negative which puts more onus on the person being asked
  • “Didn’t it open your eyes?” not “Did it open your eyes?”
  • “you were truly asleep, intoxicated by your desires of this world if that reality can’t open your eyes. You got some serious waking up to do.”
  • some places in Quran, when Allah says, كَم اهلَكنَاهُم  , He says مِن قَبلِهِم. and when مِن is added it means the people who were immediately before them
  • but here, there is no مِن and that implies that this is general, Allah is giving us a universal message
  • ‘no matter how long before us these people are’
  • like Firawn’s people – way before us
  • مِّنَ الْقُرُونِ = > Allah is telling us that this didn’t just happen once to a nation but to so many different people in different generations who were eradicated and wiped off the face of the earth
  • يَمْشُونَ فِي مَسَاكِنِهِمْ = they walked around in their dwellings
  • when we visit ruins, this is both knowingly and unknowingly, we walk around in their ruins, touring, taking pictures, but it’s a moment of taking a lesson
  • the sahabah didn’t do that, they made taubah and istighfaar
  • we have to wake up spirituality sooner or later
  • at same time Allah is letting us know that they’re(living people) walking around in their(of the long gone) dwellings even if they don’t know it
  • do we know what was going on where we sit right now a long time ago?
  • Allah talks about اجدَاث , plural  of جَدَث = grave that was long forgotten people don’t even know it’s there anymore
  • إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ = in that history, there are powerful signs
  • لِّأُولِي النُّهَىٰ = for people of exceptional intelligence (when they mentally process something, it trickles down to their heart and changes them internally)
  • is a very high level of intelligence where he doesn’t just understand, but takes a lesson from it
  • that’s why the word for ‘prohibition’ comes from same root, because what they understand, learn, see prevents them from making same mistake that people in the past make
  • those types of introspective, spiritually-conscious people

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