Ayaat 1-7 ― Your Lord Knows Better who has gone Astray and who is Guided
“Noon,” is one of the haroof-e-muqatat (the disjointed letters). There are twenty nine Surahs in the Qur’an that begin with such words. At some places, there is only letter such as Surah Qaf and Surah Sa’ad. At other places two letters appear for example, Surah Ya-Seen, Surah Ta-Ha and Surah Ha-Meem (also known as Surah Fussilat). Some begin with three, four and even five letters but five is the largest amount.
When Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala begins a Surah with a disjointed letter the purpose is to alert the listeners. When they hear disjointed letters as opposed to complete words they wonder what this is about. While the scholars have tried to interpret these words, the truth is that their meaning is only known to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Therefore, we should not delve over what it means.
“By the pen and what they inscribe,” (68: 1), there are three main opinions about the pen referred here. One opinion is that it refers to the Pen of decree through which destinies of every creation has been written down till the end of times. Another opinion is that it refers to the pen of angels through which they record the deeds of the servants. One more opinion is that this refers to the pen that we use to write with. Elaborating this opinion, Ibn Katheer writes Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is alerting His creatures to what He has favored them with by teaching them the skill of writing through which knowledge is attained.
“You are not by the favor of your Lord, a madman,” (68: 2), ni’ma [نِعْمَةِ] is commonly translated as a blessing or a favor. The address here is to the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and he is being told that he is not insane as the ignorant among his people claim. They are those who deny the guidance and the clear truth that the Prophet has come with. They attribute madness to him because of it.
“And indeed, for you is a reward uninterrupted,” (68: 3), the meaning of ghayru mamnoon [غَيْرُ مَمْنُون] is that it will not be cut off. Therefore, the ayah means for you, O Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is the great reward, and abundant blessings which will never be cut off or perish because you conveyed the Message of your Lord, and you were patient with their abuse. Unbelievers make life difficult for you but their opposition raises your honor and reward. You become dearer to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and the believers, the more they harm you. Their harm increases your status and success.
Abdul Nasir Jangda explains there are four degrees of emphasis in this ayah:
Inna meaning surely
LaKa meaning for ‘you’
La ajran meaning surely payback
Ajran (tafkheem – gives weightage). Al-Ajr is not mentioned by ajraN.
This means…”and SURELY SURELY for you SURELY (is a) GREAT reward.” Why was this reward for him? Because he was enduring pain, discomfort and abuse only for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. He was performing his dawah mission and facing evil treatment from the people. Here is a lesson for all the da’ees and students of Islam that to be patient in their mission and not let go dawah efforts because of the evil doings of the people. If you are sincere Allah ta’ala will protect and take care of you, in sha Allah.
“And indeed, you are of a great moral character,” (68: 5), here Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala exalts the character of His noble Messenger Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and recorded it forever in the Qur’an for generations to read and attest to. When ‘Aishah radhiAllahu ‘anha was asked about the character of the Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam she replied, “Verily, the character of the Messenger of Allah was the Qur’an,” [Saheeh Muslim]. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would act according to the commands and the prohibitions in the Qur’an. Whatever the Qur’an commanded, he did it, and whatever it forbade, he avoided it. Moreover, his nature and character were patterned according to the Qur’an. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala blessed him with the qualities of modesty, kindness, bravery, pardoning, gentleness and every other good characteristic. Anas radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “I served the Messenger of Allah for ten years, and he never said a word of displeasure (Uff) to me, nor did he ever say to me concerning something I had done: Why did you do that? And he never said to me concerning something I had not done: Why didn’t you do this? He had the best character, and I never touched any silk or anything else that was softer than the palm of the Messenger of Allah. And I never smelled any musk or perfume that had a better fragrance than the sweat of the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” ‘Aishah radhiAllahu ‘anha said, “The Messenger of Allah never struck a servant of his with his hand, nor did he ever hit a woman. He never hit anything with his hand, except for when he was fighting Jihad in the cause of Allah. And he was never given the option between two things except that the most beloved of the two to him was the easiest of them, as long as it did not involve sin. If it did involve sin, then he stayed farther away sin than any of the people. He would not avenge himself concerning anything that was done to him except if the limits of Allah were transgressed. Then, in that case he would avenge for the sake of Allah,” [Imam Ahmad]. The ahadeeth concerning this matter are numerous. Abu ‘Eesa at-Tirmidhi has a complete book on this subject called Kitab Ash-Shama’il.
Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
إِنَّمَا بُعِثْتُ لِأُتَمِّمَ صَالِحَ الْأَخْلَاق
“I have only been sent to perfect righteous behavior,” [Imam Ahmad].
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “So you will see and they will see which of you is the afflicted,” (68: 5-6) meaning you will know, O Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and those who oppose you and reject you, will know who is insane and misguided among you. The literal meaning of maftoon [مَفْتُون] is ‘one who has been charmed or lured away from the truth and has strayed from it’. The purpose of the ayah was to console the Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the believers that the things will get better soon. Therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says next, “Indeed, your Lord knows better who has gone astray from His way, and He knows better those who are [rightly] guided,” (68: 7). He knows which of the two groups are truly guided among you, and He knows the party that is astray from the truth. This teaches us accountability for the mistakes that we have done, and also gratefulness for being guided to the Right Path. When one recalls the favors of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala he should be thankful to Him.
These ayaat have clarified one fact; that it does not matter what people think about you. What really matters is our status with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. He knows who among us is sane and who is mad; who is right and who is wrong; and who is guided and who is misguided. Ignore what the people say and focus on what your Master wants from you, for He is the One Who will compensate you for your actions and efforts.