Sunday, 28 October 2012

Brief Tafsir - Surah At-Takāthur

The following is a transcript of the Tafsir of Sūrah At-Takāthur.

Written down and edited by Umm Sakina.

Brief Introduction to Tafsīr

The Qur'ān is extra ordinary and needs us to ponder over it. Allāh f reveals various verses in the Qur’ān and various Sūrahs in the Qur’ān, sometime in parts and sometimes fully due to occurrences which were happening in the lives of the Ṣaḥābah j at that time or in the life of the Prophet g.

Verily briefly, let us ask the question, ‘What is a Makkī Sūrah and what is a Madanī Sūrah?’

A Makki Sūrah are those surahs which were revealed upon the Prophet g whilst he g was a resident of Makkah. He did not necessarily have to be in Makkah at the time of revelation. The Madini Sūrahs are those Sūrahs which were revealed to him g when he was a resident of Madīna.

The Makki Sūrahs tend to be shorter and focused on the polytheists, where as the Madani Sūrahs tend to be longer in length and tend to be focused on the Muslims, Christians and the Jews.

Sūrah At-Takāthur

According to the majority of the scholars it is a Makkī Sūrah

This Sūrah is a warning to mankind. It is telling them that their time on this earth is very small and limited. Therefore one needs to utilise their time before they get to their grave. One should not be deceived by the Dunyā and the love for its wealth. Rather, it is important to take use of one’s time in this world for a person will be in utter shock when they reach the grave. This will serve as a wakeup call as to what a person should have been doing but it will be too late to go back to Allāh f for redemption. This is the summary of the Sūrah in contention.

The reason for revelation?

It was revealed due to two tribes of Makkah; Banū ‘Abdi Manāf and Banū Hāshim. They were constantly at war with each other due to money and wealth. They wanted to have a high position of power in society. Due to this, the leaders would always be at war with one another which would result in bloodshed and people dying.

Allāh f clearly mentions in Sūrah ‘Āl-‘Imrān that He f gives respect to whomsoever He f wants and that He f gives disgrace to whomsoever He f wants. He f gives land and the sovereignty to whomsoever He f wants and He f takes it away from whomsoever He f wants. For Allāh f, alone is complete sovereignty and the leadership is with Him f. He f is in charge of everything and no one acquires anything without Allāh f willing it. No one can take something away from someone without Allāh f willing it.

Thus a person should realise that whatever he is going to acquire is not going to be pass him by and whatever is not willed for a person, will not be acquired by him.

Allāh f begins this sūrah by stating,
أَلۡهَٮٰكُمُ ٱلتَّكَاثُرُ
(1) You are distracted by mutual competition in amassing (worldly benefits),

This is meaning to say that ‘you have been deceived by trying to gain as much wealth as you can; to the extent that even when you have something it is not enough and you want more and more. And even when you have acquired that which is considered to be ‘more’, you still want more.

What is ‘takāthur’?

Ibn ‘Abbās k and Hassan al-Baṣrī r are of the opinion that the word takāthur highlights the amassing of worldly benefit. Thus, the verse is highlighting that you have gained deception through amassing worldly benefit.

Other commentators are of the opinion that the word takāthur is actually in the meaning of tafākhur which means to boast due to worldly gain. I.e. A person has become blinded and deceived in his pursuit to gain wealth, just so he can boast.

Allāh f is saying don't be deceived in regards to this. If a person’s is not of the right mentality and character, there is a huge possibility that his wealth will end up being utilised on something that is not permissible.

‘Abdullāh Ibn Shikīr g narrates that he passed the Prophet g and the Prophet g was reciting Sūrah at-Takāthur. After reciting verse ‘You are distracted by mutual competition in amassing (worldly benefits)...’ The Prophet g commented:

يقول ابن آدم: مالي مالي! وهل لك يا بن آدم من مالك إلا ما أكلت فأفنيت، أو لبست فأبليت، أو تصدقت فأمضيت
“The Son of Ādam says, “My wealth, my wealth!” And O Son of Ādam, what is there from your wealth except that which you eat and therefore use. Or that which you wear and then it is worn out, or that which you spend, and once you have spent it, it is gone.” (Muslim)

How strange is it that the very thing we fought for in this world will be fought over by our inheritors? You cannot take your wealth with you when you pass away, it gets passed on to someone else. Mankind does not have anything to call his own except his good deeds.

Allāh f says that this greed you have within yourself to attain the wealth of the world has deceived you from the reality. And when will you realise this?

حَتَّىٰ زُرۡتُمُ ٱلۡمَقَابِرَ
(2) Until you reach the graves.

This is when a person will receive his wake up call. People say that you don't have regard for something until it’s gone, and similar is the life that we live. We waste this life until it comes to an end. The mud being put into one’s grave signifies the end of his test. He cannot do anything after this last full stop.

The word زُرۡتُمُ comes from the word zāra which means to visit. Why has Allāh f used this word for the grave? This is because your grave is essentially a place of visit because you will not be staying there forever. Your abode will either be Heaven or Hell.

The Prophet g said:

لو كان لابن آدم واديان من مال لابتغى ثالثاً ، ولا يملأ جوف ابن آدم إلا التراب ، ويتوب الله على من تاب
"If the son of Adam (the human being) had two valleys of money, he would wish for a third, for nothing can fill the belly of Adam's son except dust, and Allāh forgives him who repents to Him." (Bukhārī)

كَلَّا سَوۡفَ تَعۡلَمُونَ
(3) No! (This is not a correct attitude.) You will soon know (the reality).

And just to emphasise this point again Allāh f says,

 ثُمَّ كَلَّا سَوۡفَ تَعۡلَمُونَ
(4) Again, you will soon know.

This shows the severity of this verse. Allāh f is warning us that we will see the grave and that there is no doubt in this so be careful. It doesn’t matter what belief a person holds, everyone unanimously agrees that they will have to die one day.

Thereafter, we will stand in front of Allāh f on the Day of Judgement. These warnings and things that Allāh f describes to us are real and they will take their real form on the Day of Judgment.

The Qur’ān is not a story book but rather, it is solid fact.

كَلَّا لَوۡ تَعۡلَمُونَ عِلۡمَ ٱلۡيَقِينِ
(5) No! Only if you knew (it) with a sure knowledge!

لَتَرَوُنَّ ٱلۡجَحِيمَ
(6) You will certainly see the Hell,

ثُمَّ لَتَرَوُنَّہَا عَيۡنَ ٱلۡيَقِينِ
(7) Then you will see it with full certitude.

Allāh f is mentioning two things here:

1) Allāh f  mentions عِلۡمَ ٱلۡيَقِينِ this is that knowledge that gives you certainty that it is going to happen.

2) Then Allāh f mentions عَيۡنَ ٱلۡيَقِينِ and this is that what you see with your eyes.

Allāh f says that He f has given you knowledge about the grave but when you go to the grave you will have see it as a reality.

The Prophet g said:

"The grave is either a pit from the pits of the fire of Hell or a garden from the gardens of Paradise.” (Mishkātul Maṣabīḥ)

Allāh f says that a person will certainly see Hell.

There are two opinions in regards to when this person will see Hell. The most accepted opinion amongst the scholars is that we shall see Hell in two places (if Hell is one’s abode in the Hereafter): 1) The first place will be in the grave. It will be told to the person that this is your abode in the Hereafter. (2) On the Day when everyone shall be resurrected.

Then Allāh f finishes off the Sūrah by saying,

ثُمَّ لَتُسۡـَٔلُنَّ يَوۡمَٮِٕذٍ عَنِ ٱلنَّعِيمِ
(8) Then you will be asked about all the pleasures (you enjoyed in the world).

Allāh f will ask you about every bounty you had in this life, did you use it correctly or did you misuse it?

Abū Hurayrah h narrates: "Once Abū Bakr and ‘Umar were sitting outside. The Prophet g passed by and saw the two; He asked them, “What has kept you both outside?” Both of them replied, “O Rasūlullāh g nothing has kept us outside except for the fact that we are extremely hungry. And this hunger has kept us out in the thought that maybe if we leave our houses, we may see someone that will give us an invitation (to eat). “O Rasūlullāh g said my situation is the same as yours. They then came to the house of an Anṣārī whose wife was at home but he had gone out.

The woman of the household invited them in and said, “Welcome! Welcome! I have never had guests in my house better than you three!” She then told them that her husband had gone out to get some food and that he will be back soon. Finally, her husband had come back with a small sheep which was then sacrificed and Rasūlullāh g the Ṣaḥābah j and the family of that Anṣārī ate together. Cold water was then presented before one of the Ṣaḥābah j, and as he was putting it before his mouth Rasūlullāh g said, “On the Day of Judgement you will be asked in regards to those bounties and the favours of Allāh f that you enjoyed within the world.”

The Ṣaḥābah j were stunned and asked Rasulullah g that they have gone without food three-four days, would they then still going to be asked in regards to this?

Rasūlullāh g said, “Yes, as to whether you were thankful to Allāh f with regards to those favours or whether you were thankful." (Tafsīr Qurṭubī)

The Prophet g said:

"On the Day of Resurrection the feet of mankind will not move from its spot until he has answered five questions (about): (1) his life and how had spent it, (2) his youth and how he lived it (3) his wealth, where did he acquire it and (4) where did he spend it, (5) and whether he acted upon that which he knew." (Tirmidhī)

Why has a person’s youth been the old portion singled out from his entire lifespan which is to be questioned anyway?

This is because it is in one’s youth that one has the capacity to do everything one wishes to do. We have the ideal opportunity to commit Ḥarām and this is also where we have to control our Nafs the most too.

One of the people who will be under the shade of Allāh f on the Day of Judgement will be a young person who spent his youth in worship.

A Virtue of this Sūrah

The Prophet g mentioned to the Ṣaḥābah j:

“Does anyone amongst you have the capacity to recite one thousand verses of the Qur’ān every day? The Ṣaḥābah j replied, ‘Who is their amongst us who can recite one thousand verses of the Qur’ān every day?’ Rasūlullāh g said, ‘Recite Sūrah at-Takāthur.’” This is because its weight is like one thousand verses of the Qur’ān. (Tafsīr Qurṭubī)

May Allāh f give us the ability to rectify ourselves before our deaths. May He f accept our majlis. Āmīn.

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