Ayaat 8-16 ― the People not to Befriend
In the previous ayaat Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala showed us the best character that we must follow. In these ayaat we will learn about the kind of characteristics that we should stay away from. He says,
“Then do not obey the deniers. They wish that you should compromise, so they (too) would compromise with you,” (68: 8-9), compromise here refers to compromising in religion in order to please someone. Such as, permit us idolatry and we will permit you to practice your religion, as Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu commented. Or be quiet about our gods and we will not say anything about your God. Why was this said? It is because when someone is doing da’wah they want more and more people to accept their call. In doing so, one might be compelled to make a compromise at some places in order to please the other party. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala warns us against it.
“And do not obey every worthless habitual swearer,” (68: 10), this is because the liar due to his weakness and his disgracefulness only seeks protection in his false oaths which he boldly swears to while using Allah’s Names. He uses them all the time and out of place (i.e. unnecessarily). The word hallaf [حَلَّاف] means ‘one who swears much’ while mahin [مَّهِين] means ‘liar or worthless person’. Maulana Abu ‘Ala Maududi explains that the word mahin is used for a contemptible, degraded and mean person. This is indeed a necessary quality of a person who swears many oaths. He swears an oath for every minor thing because he himself has the feeling that the people take him for a liar and would not believe him until he swore an oath. For this respect he is not only degraded in his own eyes but commands no respect in society either.
The word hammaz [هَمَّاز] means ‘slander’; we also read this word in Surah Humazah.
“[And] scorner, going about with malicious gossip,” (68: 11), this refers to the one who goes around among people instigating discord between them and carrying tales in order to corrupt relations between people when they are good and pleasant. It is confirmed in the two Saheehs that Mujahid reported from Tawus that Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “The Messenger of Allah once passed by two graves and he said,
إِنَّهُمَا لَيُعَذَّبَانِ وَمَا يُعَذَّبَانِ فِي كَبِيرٍ، أَمَّا أَحَدُهُمَا فَكَانَ لَا يَسْتَتِرُ مِنَ الْبَوْلِ، وَأَمَّا الْاخَرُ فَكَانَ يَمْشِي بِالنَّمِيمَة
‘Verily, these two are being punished, and they are not being punished for something major. One of them was not careful about protecting himself from urine (when relieving himself). The other one used to spread slander.’”
Imam Ahmad recorded that Hudhayah said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah saying,
لَا يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ قَتَّات
‘The slanderer will not enter into Paradise.’”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala continues, “A preventer of good, transgressing and sinful,” (68: 12). He is a preventer of good because he refuses to give and withholds that which he has of good. He is a transgressor because he transgresses in attaining that which Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has made permissible for him, he exceeds the legislated bounds. He is sinful because he delves into the forbidden things. “Cruel, moreover, and an illegitimate pretender,” (68: 13) ‘utul [عُتُل] means ‘one who is cruel, harsh, strong, greedy and stingy’.
Imam Ahmad recorded from al-Harithah ibn Wahb that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
أَلَا أُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِأَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ؟ كُلُّ ضَعِيفٍ مُتَضَعِّفٍ لَوْ أَقْسَمَ عَلَى اللهِ لَأَبَرَّهُ. أَلَا أُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِأَهْلِ النَّارِ؟ كُلُّ عُتُلَ جَوَّاظٍ مُسْتَكْبِر
“Shall I inform you of the people of Paradise? (They will be) every weak and oppressed person. When he swears by Allah, he fulfills his oath. Shall I inform you of the people of the Fire? Every ‘utul (cruel person), jawwaz and arrogant person.” The scholars of the Arabic language have said that ja’zari means rude and harsh, while jawwaz means greedy and stingy.
About the word zaneem [زَنِيم] (ayah 68: 13), it is recorded by Bukhari from Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu that a man from the Quraysh who stands out among them like the sheep that has had a piece of its ear cut off. The meaning of this is that he is famous for his evil just as a sheep that has a piece of its ear cut off stands out among its sister sheep. In the Arabic language zaneem is a person who is adopted among a group of people (i.e. he is not truly of them). It is also used to describe a person of illegitimate birth who does not belong to a family but has joined it. Sa’eed ibn Jubair and Sha’bi say that this word is used for a person who is notorious among the people for his evil doing.
This was a person so notorious for his evil qualities that there was no need to name him. hearing his description every person in Makkah could understand who was being referred to.
“Because he is a possessor of wealth and children,” (68: 14), this ayah may be connected with the preceding theme as well as with the following sentence. In the first case, it would means: do not yield to the influence of such a person just because he has plenty of wealth and children. In the second case it would mean: he has become proud because he possesses abundance of wealth and children, so when Our Revelations are recited to him, he says, “Legends of the former peoples,” (68: 15). This is how he responds to the favors that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has bestowed upon him of wealth and children, by disbelieving in His Ayaat and turning away from them while claiming that they are a lie that has been taken from the tales of the ancients. This is similar to what appears in Surah al-Muddaththir ayaat 11-30.
“We will brand him upon the snout,” (68: 16) because he thought he was a man of hig prestige, his nose has been called a snout, and branding him on the snout means disgracing him. Ibn Jareer commented that this means Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will make his matter clear and evident so that they will know him and he will not be hidden from them, just as the branding mark on the snouts (of animals). Others said that this is the mark of the people of the Hell-fire; meaning, ‘We will blacken his face on the Day of Judgment,’ and the face has been referred to here as snout.
We seek refuge with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala from such an end, aameen.