Al-A`la · Juz 30 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-‘Ala Ayaat 9-19

Ayaat 9-13 – Remind, if the Reminder Should Benefit

Ayaat 9-13

“So remind, if the reminder should benefit,” [87:9] After assuring the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala reminds him of his main purpose that was to call people to goodness.

The reason that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala took care of his Qur’an preservation, and eased his path of learning and practice was that he be able to discharge his main responsibility. He was being carefully trained and prepared for this great task. Hence, he is asked to warn whenever he has a chance to address people and to convey to them Allah’s message. Warning is always useful. There will always be, in every land and every generation, those who will listen to the reminders and warnings and will benefit by them, no matter how corrupt their society is and how hardened their people are.

After the message has been delivered, the task is fulfilled. Everyone is left to choose his way. “He who fears [Allah] will be reminded. But the wretched one will avoid it,” [87:10-11] Warnings will benefit those who fear Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala and dread to incur His displeasure. Any intelligent person will shudder when he hears the warning, and he will reflect on whether or not he is following a wrong way. If a man does not listen to the warning given, then he is absolutely “the wretched one.” He lives in a void, uninspired by the facts surrounding him, turning a deaf ear and a senseless mind to the evidence they give. Such a person lives in constant worry, striving hard to attain the paltry pleasures of this world. Hence he is the most wretched in this life.

“[He] who will [enter and] burn in the greatest Fire, Neither dying therein nor living,” [87: 12-13] The great fire is that of hell. It is indeed the greatest of all fires in intensity, duration and size. He who suffers it finds it endless. He neither dies to rest from its torment, nor does he live in it a life of rest and security. It is an unending agony which makes the sufferer yearn for death as his greatest hope.

May Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala protect us from such an end, aameen.

Ayaat 14-19 – the Hereafter is Better and More Enduring

Ayaat 14-19

After narrating the consequences of not heeding the warnings, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala talks about the prosperity accompanied with self-purification, “He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself. And mentions the name of his Lord and prays.” Purification is used here in the widest sense of the word: purification from everything filthy or sinful. He affirms the faith giving up disbelief and polytheism, adopts good morals giving up evil morals, and performs good deeds giving up evil deeds. He does not remain content only with remembering Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala by his tongue but also performs the prayer. Such a person will achieve success here in this life as he enjoys his relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala and the perfect bliss that results from his remembrance of Allah. He will achieve even greater success in the hereafter as he escapes hell and is rewarded with perfect happiness in heaven. How different the two destinies are.

Having sketched the two different ends of the most wretched and the Allah-fearing, the Surahpoints out the real reason for wretchedness, “But you prefer the worldly life, while the Hereafter is better and more enduring,” [87:16-17]. This short-sighted preference is the real reason for every misery which befalls man. It is indeed the cause of man’s taking no heed of the warnings given to him. All man’s thoughts and endeavors are for this world only, its ease and comforts, its benefits and enjoyments. The Qur’an calls the present life dunya which connotes both contempt and easy access. The life to come is better in kind and duration. It comforts and pleasures are far superior to all the blessings of the world. Only the foolish who are deprived of sound judgment would, in the circumstances, prefer the present life to the next.

The Surah concludes by stating that the message of Islam is not new; its roots go back far deep in time, “Indeed, this is in the former scriptures. The Scriptures of Ibraheem and Musa,” [87:18-19]. The basics of the grand faith contained in this Surahare the same old basic facts outlined in the ancient Scripturesof Ibraheem and Musa ‘alayhi salaam.

The truth is one and the faith is one. This results from the fact that their origin is one, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala, whose will it was to send messengers to mankind. The messengers deliver basically the same message, the same simple truth. Details of the messages may differ according to local or temporal needs, but the basics are the same. They have one origin: Allah, the Most High, who creates, proportions well, determines and guides.

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