Al-Anaam · Juz 8 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Anaam Ayaat 141 – 144

What are Our Statements Based On?

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says,

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Allah Created the Produce, Seed Grains and Cattle

Previously, we studied how astray the disbelievers of Makkah had gone when they had taken their self-carved, lifeless, insensate idols as partners in the Divinity of Allah as they made them share in animals created by Him and in many other blessings which were bestowed on them.

Their transgression went to the limits when they would take out charities from these blessings as an act of worship, setting aside a portion for Allah and another for their idols.

Then, they would employ different excuses to take out what belonged to the portion set aside for Allah and put it in the portion reserved for the idols.

In these Ayaat Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala reminds us that it is “He” Who created everything including the produce, fruits and cattle that the idolators mishandled by their misguided ideas, dividing them into various designated parts, allowing some and prohibiting some.

Before we begin the tafseer let’s understand the words used in this ayah.

The word ansha-a [أَنشَأَ] is from nash’a which means “to rise or emerge” while insha’a is “to cause something to rise”. Primarily, it is used for creating something and making it grow. Whatever Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has created it grows gradually. It has different stages of growth. A baby or a plant grows in stages.

The word Jannatin [جَنَّـتٍ] refers to Paradise in the Hereafter. Secondly, it is also used to mean a dense garden that is filled with trees so much so that the sunlight doesn’t reach the ground.

The word ma`rushatin [مَّعْرُوشَـتٍ] is from the word arsh which literally means “throne”. A throne is at an elevated position. Therefore, ma`rushtain means “to raise, to make go high”. Here, it refers to vines of plants which are mounted on supports called trellis, such as the grape plant and some vegetables.

The word waghyra ma`rushatin [وَغَيْرَ مَعْرُوشَـتٍ] is the opposite of ma`rushtain. It includes all plants the vines of which are not raised high – whether trees with trunk and without vines or they may be vines which spread on the ground and are not raised, such as strawberry and melon.

Nakhla [نَّخْلَ] means date tree. Zar`a [وَالزَّرْعَ] refers to crops of all kinds. The word mukh’talifan [مُخْتَلِفًا] means “diverse”. While zaytoon [زَّيْتُون] means olives and ruman [رُّمَّان] is pomegranate.

Mustashabihan [مُتَشَـبِهاً] means similar while ghayra mustashabihin [غَيْرَ مُتَشَـبِهٍ] means dissimilar.

Here, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala is describing the variety plants that He has created for us to take eat from and share with others. There are some plants that are climbers and wouldn’t grow unless a trellis is provided for their support such as grapes. There are others that don’t require a trellis to grow. They will either grow tall like a tree on their own or spread over the earth such as strawberry plant.

It took human beings years to categorize plants whereas Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala already categorized them for us in the Qur’an.

He also made palm trees and different kinds of crops such as wheat, barley, and olives and pomegranates. All of these are edibles but they are different in shape, color, texture and taste. Even two fruits of the same plant might be similar in shape but different in taste. There is so much variety in what Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has created for us.

Then it was said, “…and give its due on the day of its harvest…” Mujahid commented that this means, “When the poor are present (on the day of harvest), give them some of the produce.”

Meaning, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala commands us to eat, drink and use these things, but also remember to pay their due at the time of harvesting. The Haq or due denotes giving it as sadaqah or charity to the poor and needy – as it appears in another ayah in the form of a general rule. It was said in Surah al-Ma`arij Ayaat 24 and 25, “And those in whose properties, there is a due right of the poor and needy – the asking and the non-asking.”

The word Haqqahu can be understood in two ways. One opinion is that it means that zakat due on the harvest must be given on the day produce is harvested. The Zakat on land is known as Ushr which is from the word ashra meaning “ten”. Therefore, the amount of Zakat on land is one tenth of the produce. The other opinion is that haqqahu refers to the Haq of Allah meaning sadaqah.

Surah al-Anaam is a Makki Surah. This Ayah was revealed when Zakat was not made obligatory as is understood by Sa`eed ibn Jubayr’s statement. Sa`eed ibn Jubayr commented, “This ruling, giving the poor the handfuls (of seed grains) and some of the hay as food for their animals, was before Zakah became obligatory.”

When Zakat became obligatory then it became compulsory on the people to give one tenth of the produce in Zakat. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has chastised those who harvest without giving away a part of it as charity.

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala ends this ayah by prohibiting extravagance. When a person overspends he either deprives himself of something or those on whom he has an obligation to spend such as his immediate family and the needy. A person may also be extravagant out of arrogance that is to show off among people. A person may also squander his wealth by wasting it. These are traits that are disliked by Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala likes moderation.

Ibn Katheer writes that the extravagance here refers to excessive charity beyond normal amounts. Ibn Jurayj said, “This Ayah was revealed concerning Thabit ibn Qayis ibn Shammas, who plucked the fruits of his date palms. Then he said to himself, ‘This day, every person who comes to me, I will feed him from it.’ So he kept feeding (them) until the evening came and he ended up with no date.”  

Even when spending in a good cause apply moderation.

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala does not like those who waste their wealth by overspending or in sin.

Eat the Meat of Cattle and Do Not Follow Shaytan

For the Arabs, it was a matter of status if someone owned a grazing livestock because it was complete livelihood. He could drink or sell the milk. Carry load on it. Eat its meal. Use its skin after slaughtering and so on.

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala created cattle, some of which are suitable for burden such as camels and some are farsh. What is meant by farsh? These are the animals that are smaller in size and are closer to the ground.

`Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said that ‘animals for burden’ refers to the animals that people ride on, while, ‘farsh’ is that they eat (its meat) and milk it. The sheep is not able to carry things, so you eat its meat and use its wool for covers and mats (or clothes).

After describing the types of grazing livestock, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala said, “…eat of what Allah has provided for you…” meaning of fruits, produce and cattle that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala created and provided us with as provision. Why was this mentioned here? It is because, as we read in Ayah 138, the Mushrikeen had made certain animals haram upon themselves. It is Shaytan that incites man to make haram that which is halal. Shaytan is our enemy he doesn’t want us to take benefit from the halal and tayab things that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala created for us.

Generally, an enemy remains hidden. A person with evil intentions conceals his feelings but in Shaytan’s case his enmity towards mankind is clear and apparent. It was said in Surah Fatir Ayah 6, “Indeed, Shaytan is an enemy to you; so take him as an enemy. He only invites his party to be among the companions of the Blaze.” And in Surah Al-A`raf Ayah 27, “O children of Adam, let not Shaytan tempt you as he removed your parents from Paradise…”

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What are Our Statements Based On?

The Arabs used to prohibit usage of some of their cattle and designate them as Baheerah, Sa`ibah, Waseelah and Haam. These were some of the innovations they invented for cattle, fruits and produce. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala stated that He has created gardens trellised and untrellised, and cattle as animals of burden and as Farsh. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala next mentioned various kinds of cattle or their offspring. Rather, they all were created for the sons of Adam `alayhi salaam as a source for food, transportation, work, milk, and other benefits, which are many.

In this Ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala refutes the claim of the Mushrikeen stated in Ayah 139, What is in the bellies of these animals is exclusively for our males and forbidden to our females.”

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says that He has created Anaam in pairs. There is one male and one female. So is the male that He has forbidden, the female or that which is in their bellies?

He challenges the idolators to inform Him with sure knowledge, how and when did Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala prohibit what they claim to be prohibited. Where did the evidence come from? If a male of an animal is halal then so is the female. Similarly, if the female is halal so is the male. Both have same characteristics. We cannot make things halal and haram out of personal choice. The authority of halal and haram was also not given to the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam, it only lies with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala.

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says, He created eight mates from the grazing livestock, two from the sheep, two from the goats, two from the camels, and two from the cattle. One male and one female. All of them are permissible for human consumption. When did Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala make them impermissible? Were they present when Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala ordered such a thing? Here, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala is the mocking their innovations and their lies.

The question whether some animals of the same family are lawful and others unlawful, has been posed with such a detail so that the absurdity of their superstitions may become obvious even to them. It is absurd on the face of it that the male of the same family should be lawful and the female unlawful, or conversely, the female should be lawful and the male unlawful, or the animal should be lawful, but the young one of the same be unlawful: This is such a nonsensical thing that no right thinking person, nay, no man in his senses, can imagine that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala could ever impose such unreasonable restrictions.

It should be noted that the method applied by the Qur’an to show the absurdity of the superstitious practices of the Arabs can also be applied with equal force to expose the folly of the superstitious practices of the other nations of the world, which have imposed unreasonable restrictions on food and adopted inhuman indiscrimination against other human beings.

“Then who is more unjust than one who invents a lie about Allah to mislead the people by [something] other than knowledge?” Here, we learn that people mislead others out of their own lack of knowledge and misguidance. Therefore, it is pertinent for us to evaluate our sources of knowledge. Who and from where do we take our guidance?

“Indeed, Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.” The wrongdoing people are those who lie, fabricate, innovate and misguide others.

Ibn Katheer writes in his tafseer that these Ayaat were revealed about `Amr ibn Luhay ibn Qum`ah. He was the first person to change the religion of Ibraheem `alayhi salaam and designate the Sa`ibah. Waseelah and Haam.

Abu Hurayrah radhiAllahu `anhu said that the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu `aalyhi wa sallam said, “I saw Amr bin Amir Al-Khuza`i pulling his intestines behind him in the Fire, and he was the first to start the practice of Sa’ibah.” Why? It is because he was the first person to innovate something that caused harm to other people.

LESSONS:

– In Ayah 141 Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala gives us three commands:

1. Eat the produce when it yields. Some people believe that it is an act of piety to abstain from fruits. On the contrary, it is an act of gratitude when we eat from the pure and halal that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has provided us. The produce of the earth is the most tayyab (pure) fruit.

2. We should give Ushr (Zakat of land) on the day of harvest. It is the day when the produce is fresh and the hungry are waiting for their share. When people are stingy no one can benefit. Zakat purifies the wealth and increases it.

3. We learn about the prohibition of extravagance. Do not waste. Do not be excessive in charity as well as consumption. A hadeeth in Saheeh Bukhari states, “Eat, drink and clothe yourselves without extravagance or arrogance.”

People spend so much money on the clothes that they would wear only once or twice. The same amount of money could be spent on a needy person’s basic needs. People are desperate for basic needs while we will throw our money on stuff that we will later throw in storage. Money spent on one bridal outfit could save someone’s life, provide them food for months, and we spend so much money to satisfy our desires.

– We learn that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has created various types of animals that benefit us in different ways. Some provide us milk. Some provide us transport. Some provide wool and so on. If a person dedicates them to idols and makes them haram upon himself then he is depriving himself from what Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala offered him.

– It is of the plot of Shaytan that he inspires people to make things halal and haram without any evidence from Qur’an. Some people do not eat meat stating it is against animal rights. They say slaughtering animals is barbaric. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala created them for us. They were not created to graze and die.

– We learn that our statements should be based on knowledge and not on mere presumptions, superstitions or the traditions of our forefathers. In matters where a person lacks knowledge he should rather adopt silence than utter lies.

The Messenger of Allah salAllahu `alayhi wa sallam said, “Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people, but He takes it away by taking away (the lives of) the religious scholars till none of the scholars remains alive. Then the people will take ignorant ones as their leaders, who, when asked to deliver religious verdicts, will issue them without knowledge, the result being that they will go astray and will lead others astray.” [Saheeh Bukhari]

`Umar radhiAllahu `anhu used to say gain knowledge before you accept a position of leadership or an authoritative position. It is because people will be looking forward to you for advice.

Therefore, it is really important for us to learn what is halal and haram. If we make a mistake then it “we” are responsible because we didn’t make an effort to learn the matters of Deen.

– A person who introduces a false practice in the religion is a big criminal. He leads people astray from the religion of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala. He earns his own sin and the sin of everyone else who follows his practice.

– Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala does not guide wrongdoers.

DOWNLOAD PDF: al-Anaam Ayaat 141 – 144

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