Al-Anaam · Juz 8 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Anaam Ayah 151

Ten Commandments

From about two or three sections, the recurring theme has been how heedless and ignorant human being has bypassed the law revealed by the Law Giver and the Creator and in its place had taken ancestral and innovated customs as their religion. They made what Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala had declared to be lawful as unlawful, and what was declared as unlawful was made lawful by them.

In the following Ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala describes the things that He has prohibited. He says,


From here begins the conclusion of Surah al-Anaam. They are the Muhkam Ayaat and none of them has been abrogated which means they “have” to be followed. This indicates the importance of these Ayaat. Below are some other virtues of these Ayaat.

About these Ayaat, Ibn Abbas radhiAllahu `anhu said, “In Surah al-Anaam there are clear Ayaat, and they are the Mother of the Book [the Qur’an]. He also said that these are the Muhkammat [Ayaat of established meaning] mentioned in Surah Aal-Imran Ayah 7. On these, all religious systems brought by the Prophets from Adam `alayhi salaam to the last among Prophets sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam have been in agreement and none of these was abrogated in any religion, community or Shar`iah.

Ibn Mas`oud radhiAllahu `anhu said, “Whoever wishes to read the will and testament of the Messenger of Allah on which he placed his seal, let him read these Ayaat.”

Ka`ab al-Ahbar an accomplished scholar of the Torah who later became a Muslim said that these Ayaat of the Qur’an that describe ten unlawful things are with what the Torah, the Book of Allah, begins after Bismillah.

The Messenger of Allah said,

أَيُّكُمْ يُبَايِعُنِي عَلَى ثَلَاث

“Who among you will give me his pledge to do three things?” He then recited the Ayah, “Say, ‘Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you from…” until the end of the Ayah. He then said,

فَمَنْ وَفَى فَأَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللهِ وَمَنِ انْتَقَصَ مِنْهُنَّ شَيْئًا فَأَدْرَكَهُ اللهُ بِهِ فِي الدُّنْيَا كَانَتْ عُقُوبَتهُ، وَمَنْ أَخَّرَ إِلَى الْآخِرَةِ فَأَمْرُهُ إِلَى اللهِ إِنْ شَاءَ عَذَّبَهُ وَإِنْ شَاءَ عَفَا عَنْه

“Whoever fulfills (this pledge), then his reward will be with Allah, but whoever fell into shortcomings and Allah punishes him for it in this life, then that will be his recompense. Whoever Allah delays (his reckoning) until the Hereafter, then his matter is with Allah. If He wills, He will punish him, and if He wills, He will forgive him.”

As for the explanation of this Ayah, here Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala is addressing His Messenger Muhammad sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam to convey to those idolators who worshipped other than Allah, forbade what Allah provided them with and killed their children, following their opinions and the lures of the devils, “…I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you…” meaning I will inform you about what your Lord has forbidden for you in truth, not guessing or wishful thinking. Rather, it is revelation and an order from Him.

The First Grave Sin Forbidden is Shirk

“…[He commands] that you not associate anything with Him…” This was the first task that do not make idols like the polytheists nor call prophets God or son of God nor take angels to be daughters of God nor equate prophets and saints with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala in His attributes of knowledge and power like the ignorant masses.

In the two Saheehs it is recorded that Abu Dharr radhiAllahu `anhu said that the Messenger of Allah said,

أَتَانِي جِبْرِيلُ فَبَشَّرَنِي أَنَّهُ مَنْ مَاتَ لَا يُشْرِكُ بِاللهِ شَيْئًا مِنْ أُمَّتِكَ دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ، قُلْتُ وَإِنْ زَنَى وَإِنْ سَرَقَ؟ قَالَ: وَإِنْ زَنَى وَإِنْ سَرَقَ، قُلْتُ: وَإِنْ زَنَى وَإِنْ سَرَقَ؟ قَالَ: وَإِنْ زَنَى وَإِنْ سَرَقَ، قُلْت: وَإِنْ زَنَى وَإِنْ سَرَقَ؟ قَالَ: وَإِنْ زَنَى وَإِنْ سَرَقَ وَإِنْ شَرِبَ الْخَمْر

“Jibreel came to me and conveyed the good news that, ‘Whoever among your followers dies, worshipping none along with Allah, will enter Paradise.’ I said, ‘Even if he stole or committed illegal sexual intercourse?’ He said, ‘Even if he stole or committed illegal sexual intercourse.’ I said, ‘Even if he stole or committed illegal sexual intercourse?’ He said, ‘Even if he stole or committed illegal sexual intercourse.’ I said, ‘Even if he stole or committed illegal sexual intercourse?’ He said, ‘Even if he stole or committed illegal sexual intercourse or even if drank alcohol.’”

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala in Surah an-Nisa Ayah 116, “Verily, Allah forgives not (the sin of) setting up partners (in worship) with Him, but He forgives whom He wills, sins other than that.”

The Second Sin: Mistreating Parents

“… [He commands] … to parents, good treatment…” The purpose at this place is to tell not to be disobedient to parents and not to cause pain to them. But it is in a way of wisdom that the prohibition has been sublimated as ‘be good to parents’. The aim is to point out that, in the matter of parents, it is not enough that one does not disobey parents or does not cause any pain to them, but it is one’s duty to keep them pleased with decent, generous and obliging treatment.

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala often mentions obeying Him and being dutiful to one’s parents together. See for example Surah Luqman Ayaat 14 and 15. This is a clear proof that this right of the parents is only next to the right of Allah and has priority over all human rights.

It is recorded in the two Saheehs that Ibn Mas`oud said, “I asked Allah’s Messenger about which deed is the best. He said, ‘The prayer, when it is performed on time.’ I said, ‘Then?’ He said, ‘Being dutiful to parents.’ I asked, ‘Then?’ He said, ‘Jihad in Allah’s cause.’ Ibn Mas`oud said, “The Messenger of Allah said these words to me, and had I asked him for more, he would have said more.”

Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani writes in his Maroof-ul-Qur’an that it means that serving parents during their old age makes it certain that the server will be admitted to Paradise. And certainly deprived and disgraced is he who has allowed such an easy bargain of Paradise slip out of his hands. This bargain is easy because parents are naturally affectionate to their children on their own. A little consideration here and there would make them all too happy. So, pleasing parents does not depend on or require a major act of grace. The restriction of old age placed here is because parents, when healthy and strong, take care of their needs by themselves – rather, would not hesitate to come to their assistance when needed, financially, physically or morally. At that time, neither do they need being served, nor would that service carry any distinct weight of its own. Serving parents can only be worthwhile and praiseworthy at a time when they need it because of their old age.

The Third Prohibition: Killing Children

“… [He commands]…and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them…” First the rights of parents due on children were taken up and now it is the right of children due on parents. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala commands the children to be kind to their parents and grandparents, and orders the parents and grandparents to be kind to their children and grandchildren. The idolators used to kill their children obeying the lures of the devil. They used to bury their daughters alive for fear of shame, and sometimes kill their sons for fear of poverty. Therefore, it was said,

Abdullah Ibn Mas`oud said, I asked the Messenger of Allah, “Which sin is the biggest?” He said, “To call a rival for Allah while He alone created you.” I said, “Then what?” He said, “To kill your son for fear that he might share your food.” I said, “Then what?” He said, “To commit adultery with your neighbor’s wife.” Then the Messenger recited Ayah 68 of Surah al-Furqan, “And those who invoke not any other god along with Allah, nor kill such persons as Allah has forbidden except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse…”

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala forbids the killing of children for the fear of poverty because feeding children is Allah’s responsibility. He is Ar-Razzak, He will provide their sustenance as He feeds all other beings.

The Fourth Prohibition: Shameful Acts

“… And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed…” Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala prohibits even coming near shameful acts. The Arabic word Fawahish applies to all kinds of impure acts whose obscenity is absolutely obvious. The Qur’an declares adultery, sodomy, nudism, calumny, marriage with father’s wife as “indecencies”. Besides these, theft, drinking and beggary have also been included in the list of the indecencies in the ahadeeth.

If fawahish is taken in a broad and general sense, it will become inclusive of all evil traits and sins, whether of speech, or those of hands and feet and the heart. And if it is taken in the commonly and widely understood sense, that is, in the sense of immodesty, then, it would be referring to shameful acts, their preliminaries and their means and motives.

All outward indecencies would mean all sins committed through speech or through the use of hands and feet etc., and inward indecencies would be referring to sins which issue forth from the heart, such as, envy, malice, greed, ungratefulness, impatience and others of this nature.

Some respectable commentators say that outward indecencies refer to shameful acts the evil of which is common knowledge and everyone knows what it means. As for inward indecencies, they refer to acts which are immodest in the sight of Allah, though people generally do not take them as bad

[Details of open and secret sins have been covered in Surah al-Anaam Ayah 120]

The Fifth Prohibition: Unjustified Killing

“…And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right…” This is the declaration of the sanctity of human life by Allah. The details of this right to kill appear in a hadeeth narrated by `Abdullah ibn Mas`oud radhiAllahu `anhu in al-Bukhari and Muslim. The Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam said,

لَا يَحِلُّ دَمُ امْرِىءٍ مُسْلِمٍ يَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَأَنِّي رَسُولُ اللهِ، إِلَّا بِإِحْدَى ثَلَاثٍ: الثَّيِّبُ الزَّانِي، وَالنَّفْسُ بِالنَّفْسِ، وَالتَّارِكُ لِدِينِهِ الْمُفَارِقُ لِلْجَمَاعَة

“The blood of a Muslim person who testifies that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah is prohibited, except for three offenses: a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse, life for life, and whoever reverts from the religion and abandons the Jama`ah (the community of faithful believers).) There is a prohibition, a warning and a threat against killing the Mu`ahid, i.e., non-Muslims who have a treaty of peace with Muslims.”

The Prophet said, “Whoever killed a person having a treaty of protection with Muslims, shall not smell the scent of Paradise, though its scent is perceived from a distance of forty years.” [al-Bukhari]

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala ends the Ayah by saying, “…This has He instructed you that you may use reason.’” Meaning this is what He has commanded you that you may comprehend His commandments and prohibitions.

The remaining five commandments appear in Ayah 152.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Al Anaam Ayah 151

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