Al-Anaam · Juz 7 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Anaam Ayah 50 and 51

The Messenger Does Not Know the Unseen

A multitude of miracles and signs of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala had already appeared before the disbelievers of Makkah.

The Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam was born before their eyes. He was unschooled, untutored, and lived his life as an Ummi [unlettered] for forty years. Then all of a sudden there gushed forth from his blessed speech such mindboggling stream of works, the eloquence of which challenged and silenced the masters and authorities of Arab diction forever.

Every period in the life of the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam and the great events which took place during it were all a miracle in their place, and certainly a Sign of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala. Despite witnessing different kinds of miracles the disbelievers from among the Quraysh demanded more miracles to be shown; this time according to their own wishes as mentioned earlier in Ayah 37.

In the present ayaat, the questions asked and demands made by these people have been dealt with in a particular manner. The disbelievers of Makkah had presented three demands before the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam. They demanded:

1. If you are really a Messenger of Allah, bring to us the treasures of the whole world through the power of miracle;

2. If you are really a Messenger of Allah, tell us everything good and bad that is going to happen to us in the future so that we can arrange to acquire what is good and abstain from what is bad beforehand; and

3. Explain to us for we cannot understand how can someone who is a human being like us, is from us, was born from a mother and father like us, and does things like eating, drinking, walking around in streets and bazaars as we do, all of a sudden become a Messenger of Allah. Had this been an angel, whose creation and attributes would have been more distinguished than ours, we would have accepted him as a Messenger of Allah, and our leader.

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala being the Wali [Guardian/Protector] of His servants guides the Prophet sallAllahu ` alayhi wa sallam how to address the disbelievers regarding what they demand from him.

Instructing the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says,


Khazain [خَزَآئِنُ] is the plural of the word khazana having root letters kha-zay-noon. It is used for a repository, treasury or a place where treasures are stored and protected.

The Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam is being told to convey that he doesn’t own the treasures through which Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala provides rizq. He has no power over them. Nor does he know the Unseen [ghayb] because its knowledge is with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala and whatever he knows is because Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala decided to convey that to His Messenger sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam.

The Prophet doesn’t claim that he is an angel. He is only a human to whom Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala sends revelation [Wahi]. It was a favor of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala that He picked Muhammad sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam out of His entire creation to be His Last Messenger to the mankind. It was an honor for him. He never disobeys the revelation in the least.

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala ends this ayah by stating that the blind and the sighted cannot be equal. Blind here refers to someone who is misled by his own prejudice and biasness while the sighted is the one who is guided, that is, the one following the truth. They can never be equal. Therefore, people should get rid of their selfish concerns, leave obstinacy and hostility, and see reality as it is so that they may no longer be counted among the blind. For them, the need was to start seeing, to wise up, for they could have their missing sights back with them with a little thought and concern (for what is right and true).

Ayah 51
Warnings Only Benefit the Fearful Ones

In the next ayah, the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam has been instructed that after all these clear statement, if they still remain obstinate he should draw a line, stop all debate and get busy with his real mission. And after that let the focus of his call to faith be those who believe in the accountability before Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala.

Addressing His Messenger, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says,


Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani explaining the above ayah writes in his Tafseer [Maarif-ul-Qur’an] that there are three types of people; those who are certain about the coming of the Judgment Day; those who have some doubts about it and the third type who straight away deny or reject the coming of such a Day. Though the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam was commanded to give a call to all three groups, but it is evident through several incidents that the call will be more effective among the first two groups of people. They are the people who will be interested in paying attention and actually listening to what is being said.

Who are these people? Ibn Katheer explains these are the people that fear the standing before their Lord. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has described their traits at various places in the Qur’an:


“Those who live in awe for fear of their Lord.” [Qur’an 23:57]


“And fear their Lord, and dread the terrible reckoning.” [Qur’an 13:21]


“You can only warn one who follows the message and fears the Most Merciful unseen. So give him good tidings of forgiveness and noble reward.” [Qur’an 36:11]

Warn them against what? Warn them that when they will be gathered on that Day no relative or intercessor would be able to prevent His torment if He decides to punish.

Why warn them when they are believers? It’s because warning helps. Reminders benefit the believers. This warning will help them in developing Tawqa – fear of Allah for a Day when there will be no judge except Allah, and do righteous deeds in this life. Their good deeds will save them on the Day of Resurrection from Allah’s torment, and then He may grant them multiple rewards.

May Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala make us from those who will be successful in this life and the Hereafter, aameen.


– We learn the instruction from Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala to the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam to “announce” three facts. (a) Messengers do not come to distribute the provisions of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala. They are human beings themselves. For several days the fire won’t be lit in the Prophet’s house. If he was the treasurer his family won’t have to starve. When he had something and people asked for it, he would give them. When he didn’t have something he would say so. He himself required rizq, he didn’t possess it.

(b) The Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam didn’t have knowledge of the Unseen. Sometimes people go to scholars or righteous people and ask them to tell the Unseen; to tell them what’s going to happen in their future. In the ayah, the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam is saying that he doesn’t know the Unseen so when the Prophet of Allah doesn’t know the Unseen is it possible for the magicians and soothsayers to possess Ilm-al-Ghayb?

One should only pray to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala, pray for blessings and seek refuge from the evil.

When Angel Jibreel came to the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam and the Angel Jibreel asked him about the coming of the Day Judgment, the Prophet replied the one being asked doesn’t know better than the one asking about the Hour.

(c) The Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam was not an angel. Angels ascend and descend to the sky and earth. The Prophet didn’t ascend or descend to take revelations. He was a human being like us. He possessed the same characteristics such as us. He felt hungry. He required sleep to rest. On some days he was well and sometimes he was unwell. He went through everything that a human being goes through.

– We also learn that the Shariah that the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam taught us is complete and we should follow it without increase or decrease. In the ayah, the Prophet says, “I only follow what is revealed to me.” This should be our attitude too. We should follow “everything” that the Prophet taught us and not invent things in the religion on our own.

– The one who is guided is the one who is blessed with sight. The one who is misguided is like the one who is deprived of the blessing of sight.

– If Allah is happy with us and people aren’t then it’s okay but if the whole world is happy with us but Allah is not pleased with us then this not fine.

– People should be warned from Qur’an and not innovate things on their own. Don’t make up stuff in religion. Don’t come with false stories or news. Qur’an is the best admonition. It is the most effective because it is the word of Allah.

– Warning should be given to everyone, however, only those people who fear accountability on the Day of Judgment are the ones who will take heed. A person who has no fear will remain heedless. He will not care about his deeds.

– There’s none that can save us from the Decree of Allah. If He has decided something for us no one can change that.

– Reading Qur’an develops Taqwa in one’s heart. Taqwa is leaving all sins, the small ones as well as the major ones.

Talking about forgiveness and taking account of oneself, Shaykh Husayn al-’Awâyishah writes in his book: Weeping From the Fear of Allah,

The believer is firm in bringing himself to account for (the sake of) Allah. Indeed lighter is the reckoning of a person who brings himself to account in the world; and indeed difficult is the reckoning on the Day of Judgment for a people who did not bring themselves to account (in the world).

Beware of the minor sins, as the Messenger of Allah sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam has said,  “Beware of minor sins, verily the example of those who commit minor sins is like a group of people who descended upon a valley. One of them brought a stick and then another person brought a stick and then another and another, until they gathered enough for (a fire), to cook their bread. This is similar to the idea of minor sins because the accumulation of small sins will eventually become enough to destroy you (just like the piling of sticks was eventually enough to create a fire).” [Ahmad]

DOWNLOAD PDF: Al Anaam Ayaat 50 and 51

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