Monday, 10 September 2012

Tafseer of Surah Kafiroon - Part 2

And neither am I going to worship that which you have worshipped, (4) nor will you worship the One whom I worship. (5)”

The fourth and fifth verses in this surah merely repeat what has been mentioned in the second and third verses. A question thus arises as to why this has occurred? There are several explanations for this.

  • 1.       This has been done for emphasis (takeed) in order to crush all hopes of the polytheists. It is for example when a person says, “I swear by Allah I will not do such and such a thing and then again I swear by Allah I will not do such and such a thing.” It is understood that a person is firmly routed to his idea and all hopes of trying to deviate him are lost.[1] 
  • 2.       The Qur’an has been revealed in the tongue of the Arabs and in their language, repetition is used to create emphasis and clear understanding. This has been used in the Qur’an many a times, Allah Ta’ala says, “So, which of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?” (Surah Rahman) “Indeed they will soon know. Again! Indeed they will soon know.” (Surah Naba) “So, undoubtedly, along with the hardship there is ease. Undoubtedly, along with the hardship there is ease.” (Surah Ash Sharh).[2] All the above verses have repetition in order to create a greater sense of emphasis and understanding. It is like for example when a person says to another, “Hurry! Hurry!”; if he was just to say ‘hurry up!’ a sense of urgency would not be created but when a person is continuously repeats the words, ‘Hurry! Hurry!’, it emphasises the needs to leave. Different types of words are used in order to create different atmospheres. For example, the verse from Surah Ash Sharh which is mentioned above denotes patience and the instilling of fortitude within a person.  Here, Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam is saying that he will not accept the religion of the Quraysh. One thing is for a person to say, “No” but we see in many situations that despite a person saying ‘no’ there is still a slight chance that we can manipulate him and bring him on our line of thought but over here Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam is saying ‘no’ to these people with emphasis so that they may understand that there is no chance of tempting him in the slightest. In our day and age, we refer to speech like this as ‘driving home the point’ i.e. making something crystal clear.
  • 3.       This is because the people of the Quraysh would constantly ask Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam to join them in their ways again and again. Because they were repetitive in their questioning, the answer has been given to them in the same manner.
  • 4.       We mentioned earlier that the Quraysh had presented a deal to Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam that he should worship the idols for a year and that they would in return worship Allah Ta’ala the year after. So the double repetition in this surah is intended to give an answer for the two conditions the Quraysh placed which are in relation to worship.
  • 5.       The repetition here is in the state of (tagleez) severity. Sometimes, in order to deter a person away who is constantly pestering and annoying, a person has to speak to them with forcefulness and severity.
  • 6.       It has also been mentioned that, “I do not worship that which you worship, (2)” is in reference to the present situation and hour. Then the next verse, “nor do you worship the One whom I worship. (3)” is also in relation to the current state of the people. Thereafter the verses, “And neither am I going to worship that which you have worshipped, (4) nor will you worship the One whom I worship. (5)” is in relation to the future. Meaning, just like the way we refuse to accept the ways of one another now, so will it be the same in the future. In this meaning, the verses could be read as, “I do not worship at present that which you worship, nor do you at present worship the One whom I worship. And neither am I going to worship that which you have worshipped in future, nor will you worship the One whom I worship in future.
  • 7.       Sheikhul Islam ibn Taymiyya ‘s rahimahullah view is that second verse is a refutation from Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam that even prior to his prophethood he had never committed shirk and the fourth verse is to say that if it was not possible for him to commit shirk prior to prophethood then how is it possible for him to do so now when Allah Ta’ala has bestowed him with prophethood and a caller to the Oneness of Allah. Thus, it impossible that I am going to worship that which you have worshipped.
  • 8.       The second verse is to refute the worship of gods besides Allah Ta’ala and the fourth verse is there to show steadfastness on Islam.
  • 9.       Allamah Zamakshari rahimahullah has agreed that this is in the meaning of emphasis (takeed). [3]
  • 10.   Maulana Idrees Khandalwi rahimahullah has given preference to what we have mentioned under explanation six.

“For you is your faith and for me, my faith.” (6)

This last verse can be described as the bottom line, the piercing statement. It puts an end to all arguments and highlights the fact that when the situation has become such that the one being invited towards the truth is not listening then a person will just have to agree to disagree. Imam Qurtubi rahimahullah mentions that in this verse is the meaning of ‘tahdeed’ (limitation) for example the verse, “For us are our deeds and for you are your deeds” (Surah Qasas) means if you are pleased with your religion than we too are pleased with our religion; we work inside the limits of our religion and do not need anything from yours.

Another meaning of this verse could mean recompense. This would be then read as, “For you is the recompense of your faith and for me is the recompense of my faith” This basically points towards the fact that they will have their rightful outcome for disbelief and those who believe will have their rightful outcome for believing.
‘For you is your faith’ could also be, ‘For you is your evil and for me there is my monotheism’ and as a result this is ones purification from disbelief and emphasis on the worship of Allah Ta’ala.

The religion of the Quraysh has been termed as ‘faith’, this is because of their belief and turning towards it. In essence, this is faith, a person’s firm belief in something.

Likewise, this last verse is similar to the statement of Allah Ta’ala, “And if they belie you then say, ‘For me are my deeds, and for you are your deeds. You are not accountable for what I do, and
I am not accountable for what you do’”. (Surah Yunus)

Imam Bukhari rahimahullah mentions that ‘for you is your faith’ means disbelief and ‘for me, my faith’ means Islam.[4]

In our day and age, some misguided people use this verse in order to settle a disagreement with regards to fiqh issues. It is most unfortunate to see Muslims reciting this verse to one another over the difference of where the hands are placed in prayer. The magnitude of this verse must be recognised and the manner in which it was said. The speech in this verse was directed to those people from the Quraysh who had regularly attempted to oppress Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam. It is wrong for a Muslim to use this verse on his Muslim brother; Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam had read this verse upon the disbelievers, not the believers! In the hadith of Bukhari, Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salam says “...and be brothers to one another as you have been enjoined.” What then is the worth to cut a person off with words which are uttered to those who are firm on disbelief?

[1] Qurtubi
[2] Ibid
[3] Ma’ariful Qur’an – Maulana Idrees Khandalwi rahimahullah
[4] Fathul Bari

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