Monday, March 12, 2012

Tafseer: Surah al-Maa`oon (107)

﴿ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ ﴾
﴿ أَرَءَيْتَ الَّذِى يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ - فَذَلِكَ الَّذِى يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ وَلاَ يَحُضُّ عَلَى طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّينَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَن صَلَـتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ يُرَآءُونَ وَيَمْنَعُونَ الْمَاعُونَ ﴾

{1. Have you seen him who denies Al-Deen 2. That is he who repulses the orphan, 3. And urges not the feeding of Al-Miskeen. 4. So, woe unto those performers of Salaah, 5. Those who with their Salaah are Saahoon. 6. Those who do good deeds only to be seen, 7. And withhold al-Maa`oon.}

Name of the Surah:
The name al-Maa`oon literally means a commonly used instrument like a bucket or a pot. However, in this Surah it refers to help or kindness, which everyone should be willing to share. It is the very last word, which occurs in the Surah. This Surah however has a number of other names. It is called Surah Ara’ayta, which literally means ‘have you seen’. This name was chosen because the phrase Ara’ayta represents the opening words of the Surah. Another of its name is Surah al-Deen, which literally means ‘an account or explanation of one’s behavior’. This name is very suitable because the whole of the Surah represents a list of the main signs by which one who disbelieves in the Day of Judgment may be recognized. The Surah has also been named Surah al-Yateem, which literally means ‘the orphan’. The Surah talks about the orphan in its opening verses.

The Reason for this Revelation:
Allaah تعالى teaches the Believers some very important lessons in this short Surah. The main lesson is that true belief (faith), which we call Imaan, must produce good deeds. Likewise, bad deeds are to be taken as clear proof of either a very weak belief or actual disbelief, which we call kufr. He also teaches us that good deeds, which are not a result of true belief, will not be done properly. Since such deeds are only for show, they will never be done regularly neither in the form, which is recommended. Therefore, if we find ourselves becoming lazy in our duties to Allaah تعالى, it is a sign for us to know that something is wrong with our faith. We should remember Allaah تعالى, ask for His forgiveness, and begin to so our duties well.

The First Verse:
﴿ أَرَءَيْتَ الَّذِى يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ ﴾

Allaah تعالى here asks us if we have noticed the way one who does not believe in the Day of Judgment acts. Allaah تعالى is not asking this question for us to answer yes or no. He is, in fact, telling us that we should carefully observe the way such a disbeliever acts. Those people who do not feel that they will eventually have to stand before God and answer for all they did, will act in certain ways. These ways are like signs. Whoever has them disbelieves in the Judgment, no matter how much they say they believe.

As Allaah تعالى says:

 {Woe, that Day, to those that deny – Those that deny the Day of Judgment. And none can deny it but the transgressor beyond bounds, the Sinners!} [Surah al-Mutaffifeen (83): 10 – 12]

The believers have to know and recognize these signs in order that they may be able to spot the enemies of Allaah تعالى and beware of them. They also have to know these signs to make sure that they are not themselves showing them, because these are the signs of Kufr (disbelief).

The Second Verse:
﴿ فَذَلِكَ الَّذِى يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ ﴾

The first sign of disbelief in the Day of Judgment, which Allaah تعالى has chosen to mention, is that of ‘pushing away the orphan’. ‘Pushing away the orphan’ means preventing the child who has no father to look after him from receiving what belongs to him. It was the practice among the `Arabs of the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم time to prevent women and children from inheriting, if the husbands or the fathers died. One, who does not believe that he will have to answer for all he does in this life, is prepared to cheat even his own relatives out of their rights. If he is made a guardian over an orphan relative, he spends whatever wealth that his relative has or simply adds it to his own personal wealth. When this orphan relative grows up, he then refuses to return the orphan’s wealth.

Allaah تعالى says:

{And eat up not one another's property unjustly (in any illegal way, e.g. stealing, robbing, deceiving), nor give bribery to the rulers (judges before presenting your cases) that you may knowingly eat up a part of the property of others sinfully.} [Surah al-Baqarah (2): 188]

Rather Allaah تعالى advices us to be just in our dealings the orphans:

{And come not near to the orphan's property, except to improve it, until he (or she) attains the age of full strength; and give full measure and full weight with justice} [Surah al-An`aam (6): 152]

Narrated Sahl bin Sa`d رضي الله عنه: The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “I and the person who looks after an orphan and provides for him, will be in Paradise like this,” putting his index and middle fingers together. [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (5304, 6005)]

So, by pointing out this bad practice of usurping the property of the orphans, Allaah تعالى is also advising us to be trustworthy. Whenever something is given to us to look after, we must make sure that we return it in the same way that we received it. Allaah تعالى emphasizes this point throughout the Qur’aan by commanding the believers to fulfill their trusts.

Allaah تعالى says:

{O you who believe! Fulfill (all) obligations} [Surah al-Maa’idah (5):1]

The Third Verse:
﴿ وَلاَ يَحُضُّ عَلَى طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ ﴾

The second major sign of disbelief in the Day of Judgment is that the disbeliever rarely ever gives charity. He is a stingy individual who holds on to his money very tightly. If he spends his wealth, he does so only on himself and on his family.

Allaah تعالى says:

{And when it is said to them: “Spend of that which Allaah has provided you,” those who disbelieve say to those who believe: “Shall we feed those whom, if Allaah willed, He (Himself) would have fed? You are only in a plain error.”} [Surah Yaaseen (36): 47]

He feels that his wealth is a result of his own hard work, and that the poor have no money because of their laziness. But, if he were to look around honestly, he would see many who have worked harder than himself and have much less than him. Likewise, he would also see others who have much less effort than himself, yet they have more than him. In fact, if wealth and success were the direct result of hard work, the poor people of this world, who work all day, would be the richest. Wealth is really only a blessing from Allaah تعالى which He تعالى uses to test mankind.

Allaah تعالى says:

{Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil)...} [Surah al-Baqarah (2): 155]

{Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world...} [Surah al-Kahf (18): 46]

The question on the test is: Will man be thankful to Allaah تعالى and prove it by sharing it with others, or will he be ungrateful and prove it by being stingy?

As Allaah تعالى mentioned that Sulaimaan عليه السلام said:

{This is by the Grace of my Lord – to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And whoever is grateful, truly, his gratitude is for (the good of) his own self; and whoever is ungrateful, (he is ungrateful only for the loss of his own self). Certainly my Lord is Rich (Free of all needs), Bountiful.} [Surah al-Naml (27): 40]

In this verse (of Surah al-Maa`oon), Allaah تعالى teaches the true Believer to be generous and give charity regularly. Islaam has made charity an obligation on those who have more than their basic needs. Zakaah is the tax system in Islaam which takes wealth from the well to do and distributes it among the poor. This system not only protects the weaker members of society, but it also trains the stronger members to share their blessings with others. It is a part of man’s nature to want to hold on to what is his, so he has to be taught to share.

Narrated `Abdullaah bin `Amr رضي الله عنهما: A man asked the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم: “What sort of deeds or (what qualities of) Islaam are good?” The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم replied: “To feed (the poor) and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know.” [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (11, 27)]

The Fourth Verse:
﴿ فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّينَ ﴾

Woe means bad wishes. But why would Allaah تعالى make bad wishes on people who pray. Especially when it was He who made Salaah (prayer) a must for Muslims, five times per day.

Allaah تعالى says:

{Set up regular prayers because prayers are compulsory for believers at set times.} [Surah al-Nisaa’ (4): 103]

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم also said that Islaam is built on five pillars, the second of which is making regular prayers. Therefore, this verse cannot be properly understood by itself, as its meaning would then be against the basic teachings of the Qur’aan and Islaam. We have to look at the following verse in order to find out just exactly what Allaah تعالى means here.

The Fifth Verse:
﴿ الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَن صَلَـتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ ﴾

Now the meaning becomes clear. Allaah تعالى is not saying woe to all those who offer Salaah. The woe is only on some people who offer Salaah. Bad wishes are on those who only pretend to pray; those who go through all the motions of prayer, but in a careless manner. Such careless people often start the Salaah late, or, when they are praying alone, they delay the Salaah and pray it out of its time. They often do the Salaah quickly and without any concentration. They look around or at their watches and even find reason to laugh during Salaah. Such are the people who will be punished even though they made their required prayers.

After mentioning the incidents of some of the Prophets عليهم السلام, Allaah تعالى says:

{Then, there has succeeded them, posterity who have given up Salaat (the prayers) (i.e. made their Salaat to be lost, either by not offering them or by not offering them perfectly or by not offering them in their proper fixed times) and have followed lusts. So, they will be thrown in Hell.} [Surah Maryam (19): 59]

Salaah, in its proper form, is the first thing which Allaah تعالى has made compulsory on those who have declared their belief in Him. It is, therefore, proof of one’s belief in Allaah تعالى. That is why the careless Salaah becomes a sign of a man’s disbelief in the Judgment. The one who prays carelessly cannot possibly believe that Allaah تعالى is watching him, nor can he belief that he will be asked about how he made his Salaah.

Thus, by wishing ill on those who pray carelessly, Allaah تعالى is advising the believers to be careful with their prayers. Elsewhere in the Qur’aan Allaah تعالى encourages care in prayers by describing the true believers as follows:

{And those who guard their prayers.} [Surah al-Mu’minoon (23): 9]

`Abdullaah ibn Mas`ood رضي الله عنه asked the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم: “Which deed is the dearest to Allaah?” He صلى الله عليه وسلم replied: “To offer the prayer on (the stated fixed) times…” [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (527) and Saheeh Muslim (86)]

Narrated `Aaishah رضي الله عنها: I asked Allaah’s Apostle صلى الله عليه وسلم about looking here and there in prayer. He replied صلى الله عليه وسلم: “It is a way of stealing by which Satan takes away (a portion) from the prayer of a person.” [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (718)]

The Sixth Verse:
﴿ الَّذِينَ هُمْ يُرَآءُونَ ﴾

In this verse Allaah تعالى explains the main intention of those who pray carelessly. They do so in order that others may see them.

{...When they (the hypocrites) stand up to prayer, they stand without earnestness, to be seen of men, but little do they hold Allaah in remembrance.} [Surah al-Nisaa’ (4): 142]

They are not praying to please Allaah تعالى, since they do not really believe in Him. They make Salaah to make people think that they are Muslims. Because of their fear, that if someone sees them not praying they may be punished or scolded or humiliated, they pretend to pray. At schools where Salaah is held, some students pray because they are afraid that one of the teachers or the principal will punish them. At home, some children pray because their parents have threatened to beat them if they do not pray. Those who pray for such reasons do not really know who Allaah تعالى is, even though they may have Muslim names and their parents may really be Muslims. Islaam is not something which can be inherited from one’s parents like wealth or nationality. True Islaam has to be chosen by each and every individual. Allaah تعالى mentions this bad intention to advise the believers to be sincere in their prayers.

In another verse Allaah تعالى describes the true believers as:

{Those who humble themselves in their prayers.} [Surah al-Mu’minoon (23): 2]

We should pray every Salaah with much concentration, care and humility, as if it were our last. He صلى الله عليه وسلم also strongly warned us by calling the act of doing good deeds to be seen as “Hidden Shirk”.

It has been narrated on the authority of Sulaymaan ibn Yaasar who said: People dispersed from around Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه, and Naatil, who was from the Syrians, said to him: O Sheikh, relate (to us) a tradition you have heard from the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم. He said: Yes. I heard the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم say: “The first man, (whose case) will be decided on the Day of Judgment, will be a man who died as a martyr. He shall be brought (before the Judgment Seat). Allaah will make him recount His blessings (i.e. the blessings which He had bestowed upon him) and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his life). (Then) will Allaah say: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I fought for You until I died as a martyr. Allaah will say: You have told a lie. You fought so that you might be called a "brave warrior". And you were called so. (Then) orders will be passed against him and he will be dragged with his face downward and cast into Hell. Then there will be brought forward a man who acquired knowledge and imparted it (to others) and recited the Qur’aan. He will be brought, Allaah will make him recount His blessings and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Then will Allaah ask: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I acquired knowledge and disseminated it and recited the Qur’aan, seeking Your pleasure. Allaah will say: You have told a lie. You acquired knowledge so that you might be called "a scholar", and you recited the Qur’aan so that it might be said: He is a Qaaree” and such has been said. Then orders will be passed against him and he shall be dragged with his face downward and cast into the Fire. Then will be brought a man whom Allaah had made abundantly rich and had granted every kind of wealth. He will be brought, Allaah will make him recount His blessings and he will recount them and (admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Allaah will (then) ask: What have you done (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I spent money in every cause in which You wished that it should be spent. Allaah will say: You are lying. You did (so) that it might be said about (you): "He is a generous fellow", and so it was said. Then will Allaah pass orders and he will be dragged with his face downward and thrown into Hell.” [Saheeh Muslim (4688)]

The Seventh Verse:
﴿ وَيَمْنَعُونَ الْمَاعُونَ ﴾

The proof that those who are careless in their Salaah only pray to be seen is that they are unwilling to do even the simplest acts of kindness. If their neighbors ask to borrow commonly used instruments, like a bucket or a pot, they find some excuse to not lend them. Salaah which is done because of a true belief in Allaah تعالى prevents the one who makes it from extreme levels of unkindness such as this. How can one say: “al-Hamdu lillaah (i.e. all thanks and praise belongs to Allaah alone)” at least 17 times every day and yet refuse to be kind. They thank Allaah تعالى for His countless kindness and seek His favors, yet they prefer to be unkind and mean. That does not make sense at all. Allaah تعالى says that prayer should stop the believers from bad deeds.

{...Surely prayer (Salaah) restrains from shameful and unjust deeds...} [Surah al-`Ankaboot (29): 45]

It is a part of Faith (Imaan) that a person helps his brother in need:

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: Imaan (Faith) has over seventy branches or over sixty branches, the most excellent of which is the declaration that there is none worthy of worship (in truth) but Allaah, and the humblest of which is the, removal of what is injurious from the path: and modesty is the branch of faith.” [Saheeh Muslim (56)]

Narrated Abdullah bin Umar: the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allaah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allaah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allaah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection.” [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (2442, 6951) and Saheeh Muslim (4683)]

The only way that their unkindness can be understood is if they do not believe in what they are saying in their prayers. They are only repeating words which they have memorized like parrots. Because of that, their prayers have no effect on their lives at all. They do not worship Allaah تعالى when they make Salaah, because they do not really believe in Him.

By pointing out to the Believers some of the major signs of disbelief, Allaah تعالى in fact warns them to avoid these signs. He encourages them to develop the signs of righteousness and true belief which are the opposite of these signs. The true Believer is trustworthy, generous and kind. He is also very careful about his Salaah, because it is his main link with Allaah تعالى. His firm belief in the Judgment causes him to do good deeds whenever he can. No good deed is unimportant to him, no matter how small or simple it might seem.

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