Ayaat 17-20 ― Remember Allah and Shun Shirk
The conversation of the jinns has come to an end and now Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala begins His address. He says,
“We might try them thereby,” (72: 17) refers to the trials and tests a person faces in his life. Sometimes a bad incident happens. Sometimes the devils whisper evil thoughts into our hearts. These are all tests from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to determine our reaction. Are we going to go astray or will we be patient and stay on the Right Path?
Moreover, blessings are also a test of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Wealth and children can be a trial, as we read in the Qur’an, “Do they think that in wealth and children with which We expand them, We hasten unto them with good things? Nay, but they perceive not,” (23:55-56). The purpose of sending these blessings is to test how man intends to use them. Will he use his wealth and power to become tyrant and arrogant like Pharaoh and Hamoon? Will he begin considering his fellow human beings as inferior because he is richer and mightier than them? Will he use his children to compete with others? Or will he strive to raise them as pious Muslims submissive to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala?
Trials also mean that one has to pass through certain difficulties for a better life afterwards. Things are not beautiful from the very beginning. If a person remains patience and bears the difficulties with perseverance Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will eventually grant him success as we saw in the lives of many Sahabahs radhiAllahu ‘anhum. ‘Umar radhiAllahu ‘anhu used to say to himself, “O ‘Umar recall what you were once, and what you are today.” From an ordinary person he became the Ameer-ul-Mumineen [the leader of the faithful]. Things do not always remain the same therefore a person should neither be boastful nor hopeless.
Turning away from the remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala means rejecting His Message or not giving it any importance. It can also mean people who study the Qur’an and once the course is over return to their old ways. People memorize the Qur’an and then leave it. They neither act on the knowledge they have gained nor share it with others. Such a person will face a harsh, agonizing punishment. Sa’ad means harsh having no relaxation in it. Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu reported that sa’ad is a mountain in Hell. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala not make us from the losers, aameen. Whoever remembers Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is awarded abundant blessings, if not in this world then certainly in the next, and whoever turns away the loss is only his in both the worlds.
“And the mosques are for Allah (Alone),” (72: 18), the commentators explain the ‘mosques’ mentioned in the ayah here refer to the places of worship. Hasan Basri said, “The entire earth is a place of worship, and the ayah means to say: polytheism ought not be committed anywhere on Allah’s earth.” Ibn Katheer interprets, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commands His servants to single Him out alone for worship and that none should be supplicated to along with Him nor should any partners be associated with Him. It also means that we should not prostrate before anyone other than Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Qatadah said, “Whenever the Jews and Christians used to enter their churches and synagogues, they would associate partners with Allah. Thus, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) commanded His Prophet to tell them that they should single Him out alone for worship.” Ibn Jareer recorded from Sa’eed ibn Jubayr that the jinns said to the Prophet of Allah, “How can we come to the Masjid while we are distant – meaning very far away – from you? And how can we be present for the prayer while we are far away from you?” So Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed this ayah. One should also note that the mosques are not places for trade or business. During the time of Rasoolullal salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam if someone announced that they have lost their such and such thing in the masjid, the Prophet would say, “May you never find it.” Why? It is because masajid are not built for this purpose. If someone wanted to talk or recite poetry he was asked to go outside and do so because it is disrespect to the masjid because “the mosques are for Allah (Alone),” (72: 18), and only He should be remembered there.
The next ayah says, “When the slave of Allah stood up invoking in prayer to Him they (the jinns) just made round him a dense crowd as if sticking one over the other,” (72: 19). The word libada [لِبَداً] means ‘one above the other’. Imagine something going on in the street that everyone wishes to watch. What will happen? People will be climbing others’ shoulders. Bringing in chairs or rocks to stand. Pushing one another and so on. This is libada, a dense crowd where one is over the other. When the jinns heard the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam reciting the Qur’an they almost mounted on top of him due to their zeal. This is similar to the crowding of the angels when they descend to attend a gathering of remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. They are eager to watch the servants of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala engaged in dhikr [remembrance] while they have a choice and freewill to do anything else.
When this crowding of the jinns was happening, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was unaware of it. Angel Jibreel [Gabriel] ‘alayhi salaam came and informed him through this Surah (as we read in the first ayah).
Another interpretation of this ayah (72: 19) is that the humans and the jinns both crowded together over this matter (of recitation of the Qur’an or Prophethood) in order to extinguish it. However, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala insisted upon helping it, supporting it and making it victorious over those who opposed it. When the jnns and humans harmed Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, opposed him, denied him and stood against him in order to thwart the truth he came with, and to unite against him, he said, “I invoke only my Lord, and I associate none as partners along with Him,” (72: 20) meaning O people why do you oppose me when I am only worshiping my Lord alone, and He has no partners. I seek His help and I put my trust in Him so do whatever you wish to do in my opposition.