al-Qalam · Juz 29 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Qalam Ayaat 34-45

Ayaat 34 – 45 – Those who Do Not Prostrate in this World, will be Unable to Do So in the Hereafter too

In the previous ayaat we read about the punishment of stinginess and arrogance. Now, we will read a mention of those who have taqwa and will live in Gardens of delight with their Lord.

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Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says that those who are conscious of Him in the worldly life and are neither stingy nor arrogant, they will have Gardens of comfort and happiness in the Hereafter. He asks, “Then will We treat the Muslims like the criminals?” (68: 35) meaning those who submit to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala should they be treated as those who disobey and violate His commands? Since their actions are different therefore they will have a different position in the Hereafter.

The Mushrikeen claimed that since they had wealth and blessings in this life it was an indication that they were the favorites of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala as opposed to the believers who were poor and lived miserable lives. And if there was a Hereafter as the believers claimed then they will definitely have even better things there whereas the torment would be on the Muslims. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala asks if they have received a Scripture that tells them in the Hereafter they will have whatever they want. Or if they made Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala promise them that they will have in the Hereafter whatever they choose for themselves regardless of what they do in this world. There is no evidence to back their claim. Then on what basis do they say this?

It is against reason that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala should not differentiate between the obedient servant and the guilty. How can the obedient be treated as a culprit while the guilty enters Paradise? Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has not made any such promises with any person in this world. Any person who enters Jannah in the Hereafter will be able to do so by the mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala alone.

“Ask them which of them, for that [claim], is responsible,” (68: 40). Za’eem [زَعِيم] is someone who stands a surety on behalf of another or is a spokesman for others. Thus, the ayah means to ask, “Which of you will come forward and say that he has made such and such a covenant with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala on your behalf? “Or do they have partners?” (68: 41) meaning if they have any gods that agree with their claim or are able to guarantee it for them. If there are any such partners they should bring them if they are truthful. But of course, they don’t have any such partners who can guarantee that.

We learn in these ayaat that some of the people’s misconceptions are being negated. People have varying beliefs about the Hereafter. The Jews believed they are the beloved of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and they will never be punished. The Muslims believe because we say La illaha illaah we are definitely going to Jannah. In these ayaat Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us that He is the Judge and only He can decide the fate of people. We cannot simply enter Jannah because we were born into Muslim families. Our actions are the most important thing. Therefore, keep a watch on them.

“The Day the shin will be uncovered and they are invited to prostration but the disbelievers will not be able,” (68: 42).

يَكْشِفُ رَبُّنَا عَنْ سَاقِهِ، فَيَسْجُدُ لَهُ كُلُّ مُؤْمِنٍ وَمُؤْمِنَةٍ، وَيَبْقَى مَنْ كَانَ يَسْجُدُ فِي الدُّنْيَا رِيَاءً وَسُمْعَةً، فَيَذْهَبُ لِيَسْجُدَ، فَيَعُودُ ظَهْرُهُ طَبَقًا وَاحِدًا

“Our Lord will reveal His Shin, and every believing male and female will prostrate to Him. The only people who will remain standing will be those who prostrated in the worldly life only to be seen and heard (showing off). This type of person will try to prostrate at that time, but his back will made to be one stiff plate (the bone will not bend or flex.”

One point worth mentioning is that with regards to the attributes of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala we believe in them as He informed us about them however we do not go in their details. It does not befit us to get into the details of how they might be.

About the ayah it can be said that it means on the Resurrection Day it will be openly and publicly demonstrated who in the world actually worshipped Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and who was disinclined to do so. Those who sincerely worshipped Him in the world would prostrate themselves, and those who had declined to bow before Him in the world would be unable to do so. It will become impossible for them to put up a false show of being worshippers. Therefore, they will remain standing, degraded and downcast with shame, “Their eyes humbled, humiliation will cover them,” (68: 43).

When they were called to prostrate in the worldly life, they refused to do so even though they were healthy and secure. Therefore, they will be punished for their laziness and unwillingness to pray. When the Almighty Lord makes Himself visible (before the believers), then the believers will fall down in prostration to Him, but no one of the disbelievers and hypocrites will be able to prostrate. Rather, their backs will become one plate. Every time one of them attempts to prostrate, he will bow his neck but will not be able to prostrate. This is just like in the life of this world, when these people were in opposition to what the believers were doing.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “So leave Me, with whoever denies the Qur’an,” (68: 44) this is a severe threat which means leave Me alone with this person; I know about him and how I gradually punish him and increase him in his falsehood. I am giving him respite for a while then I will seize him with a mighty and powerful punishment. They will not even be aware of it. Rather, they will believe that it is a noble blessing from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala but really the same matter is actually a form of humiliation (for them).

In Surah al-Furqan ayaah 55 and 56, it was said, “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,” (25: 55-56). In Surah al-Anaam ayah 44 Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said, “So, when they forgot that which they had been reminded, We opened for them the gates of everything, until in the midst of their enjoyment in that which they were given, all of a sudden, We punished them, and lo! They were plunged into destruction with deep regrets and sorrows,” (6: 44).

Therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Indeed, My plan is firm,” (68: 45) meaning this is My plan, and My plot against them; great against whoever opposes My command, rejects My Messengers and dares to disobey Me. In the two Saheehs it is recorded from the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that he said, “Verily Allah the Exalted gives respite to the wrongdoers until He seizes him and he will not be able to escape Him.”

We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for His mercy and grace.

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