Juz 30 · Qur'an Tafseer · Quraysh

Surah 106 Quraysh

Name: The Surah has been named after the word Quraysh in the first Ayah.

Period of Revelation: The Surah contains words, ‘Rabba hadh-al-Bait’ (Lord of the House). This indicates this Surah was revealed in Makkah. Had it been revealed at Madina, the words used for the Ka’abah could not be relevant.

Historical Background:
To properly understand this Surah, one must keep the contents of Surah Al-Fil in mind as well.The tribe of Quraysh was scattered throughout Hijaz until the time of Qusayy bin Kilab who was the ancestor of the Prophet sallalahu aalyhi wa sallam. Qusayy gathered his tribe in Makkah which is how they gained authority over the Ka’abah. This man by his level-headedness and wisdom found a city state in Makkah and made excellent arrangement for the welfare of the pilgrims coming from all over Arabia. This enabled the Quraysh to gain control and influence over all Arabian tribes and lands.When he died the offices of Makkah were divided between his sons, Abdi Manaf and Abd ad-Dar. Out of the two Abdi Manaf gained greater fame and was held in high esteem throughout Arabia. He had four sons; Hashim, Abdi Shams, Al-Muttalib and Naufal.

Of these Hashim, father of Abdul Muttalib and great grandfather of the Prophet, first conceived the idea to take part in the trade that passed between the eastern countries, Syria and Egypt through Arabia. He wanted to purchase the necessities of life for the Arabians so that the tribes living by the trade route bought these from them. By doing so, he thought that the merchants living in the interior of the country would be attracted to the market of Makkah.

The Quraysh were held in high esteem on account of their being the keepers of the Ka’abah. The tribes living on the trade route stood indebted towards Quraysh for the great generosity with which the Quraysh treated them in the Hajj season. That is why Quraysh felt not fear that their caravans could be robbed or harmed in any other way on this route. The tribe settled there did not even charge them the heavy transit taxes that they demanded from the other caravans.

Thus, Hashim obtained trade privileges from the Ghassanide king of Syria, Abdi Shams from the Negus, Al-Muttalib from the Yemenite nobles and Naufal from the governments of Iraq and Iran, and their trade began to flourish. That is how the four brothers became famous as traders and began to be called ashab al-ilaf (generators of love and affection) on account of their friendly relations with the tribes and states of the surrounding lands.

Because of their business relations with Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Abyssinia, the Quraysh came across great opportunities. Their direct contact with the culture and civilization of different countries enhanced the level of their knowledge and wisdom so much that no tribe in Arabia could match and equal them. As regards wealth and worldly goods they became the most affluent tribe, and Makkah became the most important commercial center of the Arabian peninsula.

Another great advantage that accrued from these international relations was that they brought from Iraq tile script which later was used for writing down the Quran. No other Arabian tribe could boast of so many literate people as Quraysh. For these very reasons the Prophet sallalahu aalyhi wa sallam said: “Quraysh are the leaders of men.” (Musnad Ahmad: Marwiyat Amr bin al As).

The Quraysh were thus prospering and flourishing when the event of Abrahah’s invasion of Makkah took place. Had Abrahah at that time succeeded in taking this City and destroying the Ka’abah, the glory and fame of not only the Quraysh but of the Ka’abah itself, would have faded away, the belief of the pre-Islamic Arabia that the House indeed was Allah’s House would have been shattered, and the high esteem in which Quraysh were held for being keepers of the House throughout the country would have been tarnished.Then, after the Abyssinian advance to Makkah, the Byzantium also would have taken the initiative to gain control over the trade route between Syria and Makkah: and the Quraish would have been reduced to a plight worse than that in which they were involved before Qusayy bin Kilab. But when Allah showed this manifestation of His power that the swarms of birds destroyed 60,000 Abyssinian troops brought by Abrahah by pelting then, with stones, and from Makkah to Yemen they went on falling and dying by the wayside.

The faith of the Arabs that the Ka’abah indeed was Allah’s House increased manifold, and the glory and fame of Quraysh too was enhanced considerably throughout the country. Now the Arabs were convinced that they were under Allah’s special favor; therefore, they visited every part of Arabia fearlessly and passed through every land with their trade caravans unharmed. No one could dare touch them with an evil intention. Not only was conduct was observed for the Qurayshites, but if there was a non-Quraysh with them, he too was not to be harmed.

Theme and Subject Matter:

In four brief sentences, this Surahs asks Quraysh to contemplate on, “When you yourselves acknowledge this House (i. e. the Ka’abah) to be Allah’s House, and not of the idols, and when you fully well know that it is Allah alone Who has granted you peace by virtue of this House, made your trade and commerce flourish, saving you from destitution and favored you with prosperity you should then worship and serve Him alone.”

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