Monday, 27 August 2012

Tafseer of Surah Kafiroon - Part 1

Assalamu Alaykum, I havn't had the time to write anything new due to some constraints but the following is a tafseer of Surah Kafiroon I wrote a few years back. It is quite lengthy so I'll split it up in to two parts. I'll post the second part next inshallah. May it be of benefit. Ameen.

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
This Surah is a Makki Surah according to the opinions of Ibn Mas’ud, Al-Hassan and Ikramah  radiallahu anhum.  Qatadah and Ad Dihaak rahimahumullah are of the opinion that this is a Madani Surah.  Both opinions are narrated from Hazrat Abdullah ibn Abbas radiallahu anhu (Qurtubi). However, the most accepted opinion according to the commentators of the Qur’an is that this Surah is Makki. 

Connection to the Surah before it:
The surah prior to Surah Kafiroon is Surah Kauthar. In Surah Kauthar, Allah Ta’ala speaks of a great bounty (the fountain of Kauthar) and that the religion of Muhammad salallahu alayhi wa salam will be dominant. However, more importantly, the previous surah finishes off with the statement “Surely it is your enemy whose traces are cut off.” This statement however is quite subtle despite its sharp message. However, in Surah Kafiroon, an open announcement which revolves around the same topic is being made to those who oppose the religion of Muhammad salallahu alayhi wa salam. The underlying message is quite simply ‘It is only my religion which is to be followed and your traces will be cut off.’ While Surah Kauthar merely introduced this topic, Surah Kafiroon opened it up further making it clear that there is only one, clear way.

The reasons for revelation:
Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam was a resident of Makkah when this Surah was revealed. As time had progressed, the majority of the people of Makkah had deviated from the monotheistic faith brought by Hazrat Ibrahim alayhis salam and had turned to the pagan forms of worship in idolatry. It was indeed a time of great misguidance and deviance. Hazrat Miqdad ibn al Aswad radiallahu anhu quite emotionally mentions, “I swear by Allah, that Allah sent the Messenger of Allah (May Peace and Blessings be Upon Him) as Prophet during a time that was more difficult than any other time in which Allah had sent Ambiya (prophets). It was a time when the succession of Ambiya had long been paused and when people were steeped in ignorance. People saw no religion better than idol worship. Rasulullah (May Peace and Blessings be Upon Him) arrived with a criterion (the Qur’an) that differentiated between truth and falsehood and even divided father and son. The situation was so heartbreaking that a Muslim person whose heart was unlocked to be filled with Imaan had to see his father or his son or his brother live as a Kaafir knowing well that whoever enters Hell shall be destroyed. He was therefore unable to experience any coolness or comfort knowing that his close relative was destined for Jahanam (Hell). It is about this that Allah says in the Qur’an:

O our Lord! Give us the coolness of our spouses and children [25:74]
(Al Adab al Mufrad)

It was a truly sorry state as people who were considered to be learned were seen as being staunch followers of idol worship. When Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam was bestowed with Prophethood, he became a much needed source of light in a time which was ravaged by darkness. However, the worship of idolatry was something that had been inherited by their forefathers and it was deemed to be something incredibly sentimental. About Hazrat Umar radiallahu anhu it was mentioned, “He will not become Muslim until his donkey becomes Muslim!” (Umar radiallahu anhu shaksiyatuhu wa asruhu). However guidance is in the hands of Allah Ta’ala and He out of His infinite wisdom guides whomsoever He wishes. May He make us from those who are guided to the Straight Path.

As mentioned above, the situation was creating much difference between the people. Families were becoming destroyed and divided in the midst of all this chaos. The differences were such that the Muslims had to endure great sacrifice in regards to their dear ones and wealth. There were some who had to leave all of what they had owned just to live as a Muslim. Recognising this, the leaders of the disbelievers in Makkah attempted to create a truce with Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam in order to create peace but their proposals were absurd and based upon the evil of kufr (disbelief). 

Tabrani and Ibn Hatim relate the statement of Hazrat Abdullah ibn Abbas radiallahu anhu that the people of the Quraysh came to Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam and proposed, “We will give you so much wealth that you will become the richest man in Makkah and we also will marry you to any woman you desire. However, stop saying ill of our gods; if you cannot stop doing this then at least do this that you worship our gods for one year and there after we will worship your God for one year.” (Mazhari) 

With regards to who the people of the Quraysh were, there are some opinions which are brought to attention through other narrations. One opinions is that Abu Jahal, Abu Lahab, ‘Aas ibn Waa’il and Abbas radiallahu anhu went to Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam however another narration mentions that only Abbas radiallahu anhu, the uncle of Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam was sent.[1] Sometimes, in order to pacify a person, a beloved family member is relied upon to go and convince another family member. It is perhaps for this reason that Abbas radiallahu anhu was sent.  Along with the above mentioned, Imam Qurtubi makes the inclusion of Waleed ibn Mugheera, Al Aswad ibn Abdul Muttalib and Ummayah ibn Khalaf

This type of proposition was more enticement than creating a solution. However, we still see the ascetic nature of Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam. Beloved to man is his love for women. Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam has said in one hadith, “Made beloved to me from your world are women and perfume, and the coolness of my eyes is in prayer.” (Ahmad and An-Nasa ‘i)” and in the Qur’an, Allah Ta’ala says,

 إِنَّمَآ أَمۡوَٲلُكُمۡ وَأَوۡلَـٰدُكُمۡ فِتۡنَةٌ۬‌ۚ
“Indeed, your wealth and your children are only but a fitnah (trial)...”[2]

In this specific verse, Allah sub refers to even wealth and children as a fitnah. This is a trial for man because usually he does not exercise their rights properly and thus falls into sin as a result. Allah sub says in the Qur’an,

زُيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ ٱلشَّهَوَٲتِ مِنَ ٱلنِّسَآءِ وَٱلۡبَنِينَ وَٱلۡقَنَـٰطِيرِ ٱلۡمُقَنطَرَةِ مِنَ ٱلذَّهَبِ وَٱلۡفِضَّةِ وَٱلۡخَيۡلِ ٱلۡمُسَوَّمَةِ وَٱلۡأَنۡعَـٰمِ وَٱلۡحَرۡثِ‌ۗ
“It has been made attractive for people to love the desired things; that is, women, children, hoarded heaps of gold and silver, branded horses, cattle and tillage.”[3]

The first thing that Allah Ta’ala has mentioned here is women and children which can be joined together to be perceived as family. Thereafter, the remaining things are categorised as wealth which follow in the trend of being desirous to man. The pagans of Makkah knew that their offer would be hard to refuse but it would only have been tempting had the person been anyone else than Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam. Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam was not remotely interested in hoarding the worldly pleasures but rather, his heart was connected to his Lord and he had the Hereafter in his sights. Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam was offered the hand of any woman in Makkah but Allah Ta’ala had already gifted him with the women of Jannah in this world. His motivation was always lied in spreading the message of His Creator and pleasing Him, thus it was impossible for worldly ornaments to tempt him even in the slightest. There are many stories related about the ascetic nature of Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam. 

Once Hazrat Umar radiallahu anhu entered the room of Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam and saw him lying down on the floor on a mat of reed. The reed was such that it was digging into the skin of Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam which in effect caused light scarring on the blessed body of Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam. Hazrat Umar radiallahu anhu began to cry profusely and Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam asked, “Why are you crying O Umar?” Hazrat Umar radiallahu anhu pleaded, “Why shouldn’t I cry when the Emperors of Rome and Persia are taking pleasure in those things which they take pleasure in from the (possessions) of the world; and you (salallahu alayhi wa salam) are in the state that I see you in?” Despite being the Messenger of Allah and more deserved of the riches of this world than any other man, Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam was not interested and he consoled Umar radiallahu anhu and said, “O Umar, are you not content that for them is the (bounties of the) world and for you there is the (bounties of the) Hereafter?” Umar radiallahu anhu then said, “Yes, I am content.” Upon which Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam said, “Then that is that.” (Shama’il ur Rasul)

There are many narrations with regards to the abstinence of Rasulullah salallah alayhi wa salam. It was quite simply not in his interest. In one hadith, Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam said, “Abundance of worldly means does not in itself constitute what is called ‘richness’. Real ‘richness’ is the richness of the heart.” (Mishkat) In commenting on this hadith, Hazrat Maulana Shah Hakeem Akhtar sahib (DB) mentions, “The richness of the heart depends on close association with Allah. The acquisition of closeness to Allah Ta’ala makes a man oblivious and disinterested in the worldly pomp and splendour just as the light of twinkling stars become insignificant by the appearance of the sun. When the King of Glory, Allah Ta’ala illuminates the heart of His love with glimpses of His nearness, the universe sinks into non existence when compared with appearance of its Creator. When the sun is shining brilliantly, no star, however dazzling it may be can dare to compete against it. Similar is the case of a drop of water, it has no position against the sea.

This state of mind which causes the realisation of Allah comes by spending time in the company of the lovers of Allah and by following the life of Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam meticulously.
Some say, “A rich man is he who is satisfied with the sustenance he has been awarded. Real richness resides in the hearts of those who are zealous. Richness is not achieved by worldly goods.” Others have said that the knowledge of religion and remembrance of Allah make a man rich like the Messengers and saints. An Arabic couplet summarises this, “We agree that God may bestow upon us the knowledge of religion and the enemies be gifted with worldly goods. The worldly goods are mortal and the riches of knowledge are immortal.” (Dunya ki Haqiqat)

When Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam refused these worldly possessions, they people of Quraysh came again later in order to create another deal. They wanted create unity and so they asked Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam to worship their lords and in return they (the Quraysh) will also worship Allah Ta’ala. However, it is a principle that unity should always be on the truth and it was then that Allah Ta’ala revealed this surah upon Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam. Allamah Aalusi rahimahullah mentions in his Ruhul Ma’ani that when this surah was revealed upon Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam, he went to Masjidul Haram where the leaders of the Quraysh would be. He stood up above them and recited the surah upon them, as a result they lost their hope in him.[4]

قُلۡ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلۡڪَـٰفِرُونَ (١) لَآ أَعۡبُدُ مَا تَعۡبُدُونَ (٢) وَلَآ أَنتُمۡ عَـٰبِدُونَ مَآ أَعۡبُدُ (٣) وَلَآ أَنَا۟ عَابِدٌ۬ مَّا عَبَدتُّمۡ (٤) وَلَآ أَنتُمۡ عَـٰبِدُونَ مَآ أَعۡبُدُ (٥) لَكُمۡ دِينُكُمۡ وَلِىَ دِينِ (٦)
Say (O Muhammad salallahu alayhi wa salam), “O disbelievers! (1) I do not worship that which you worship, (2) nor do you worship the One whom I worship. (3) And neither am I going to worship that which you have worshipped, (4) nor will you worship the One whom I worship. (5) For you is your faith and for me, my faith.” (6)

“O disbelievers! (1) I do not worship that which you worship (2)”

 ‘Say (O Muhammad salallahu alayhi wa salam)’ – This is proof that he salallahu alayhi wa salam was commanded to recite this by Allah Ta’ala.

‘O disbelievers!’ – This includes every disbeliever on the face of the earth, however, this statement is particularly directed towards the disbelievers of the Quraysh who had invited Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam towards their ways.[5] The Quraysh have been associated with disbelief and this is because Allah Ta’ala knows that they severely disliked being linked with disbelief (naturally as they felt they were upon the truth). This is also proof that Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam was guarded by Allah Ta’ala, thus he was not bothered by them and nor by their arrogance. He was protected and stopped from stretching his hand out and creating an agreement.[6]

‘That which you worship’ is in relation to the many idols that they worshipped. The Mushrikeen (polytheists) of Arabia did believe in Allah Ta’ala but they had created many idols in partnership to Allah Ta’ala. They understood that there is one Allah, who is greater than all however their beliefs became mixed especially when attacked by shaytaan. As a result, they started making idols in the form of angels as they had imagined them to be.  They knew that the idols they had were of no life and power but they were in hope that if they showed respect to it, the real angels (in whose form the idols were made) would intercede for them due to them being close, perfect creations of Allah Ta’ala. For example; a minister has a high rank in the eyes of the king and he is a trusted person. As a result of this trust, people will recognise the position of that minister as he is very close to the king. Therefore, if somebody wants to approach the king for some reason, he would not go directly but rather, he would develop a friendship with the minister. Then the minister would put in a word for him. The minister would know the manner of approaching the king better than anybody else and he would know how to persuade him too. The king would then act accordingly to what has been requested because the minister (who holds a position of closeness) is the one who is asking. 

Similarly, in our daily life, a student in a college or a university may want to go and achieve something but needs the permission of the head teacher. The student will go to his teacher who will then ask the head teacher or headmaster and in this way, his need will be fulfilled.[7] Mufti Muhammad Shafi rahmatullahi alayh mentions, “All these ideas were totally false, in fact, satanic deception. First of all, who can say whether or not these idols happen to be on the real form of the angels and, even if they were, one cannot expect angels close to Allah showing their pleasure over being worshipped by someone on earth. In fact, they temperamentally hate everything that Allah Ta’ala does not like. In addition to that, angels cannot intercede on behalf of anyone before Allah on their own, unless they are allowed to make their intercession about a particular person. The verse of the Qur’an states, “And how many angels there are in the heavens whose intercession cannot benefit (anyone) at all, but after Allah allows (it) for whomsoever He wills and pleases”[8] means exactly this.

Thus it was the polytheists who mentioned about these idols “We worship them for no other reason but because they would bring us near to Allah closely.”[9] However, in total disregard of these twisted ideas, Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam said, I do not worship that which you worship,”

Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions that this means, ‘you do not follow the commands of Allah and His legislation in His worship. Rather, you have invented something out of the promptings of your own souls. This is as Allah says, “They follow but a guess and that which they themselves desire, whereas there has surely come to them the guidance from their Lord.” (Surah Qamar). Therefore, the rejection is from all of what they are involved in.

“nor do you worship the One whom I worship. (3)”

Here the article ‘maa’ which means ‘what’ is in the meaning of ‘man’ which means ‘who’.[10] It will not be translated as “nor do you worship what I worship” rather it will be translated as “nor do you worship the One whom I worship.”

[1] Ma’ariful Qur’an – Maulana Idrees Khandalwi rahimahullah
[2] Surah Taghabun 64:15
[3] Surah Imran 3:14
[4] Safatut Tafaaseer
[5] Ibn Kathir
[6] Qurtubi
[7] Jamal ar Rasul fi Sharh Bidayat as Sul fi Tafdil ar Rasul
[8] Surah Najm 53:26
[9] Surah Zumar 39:3
[10] Ibn Kathir

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