Al-Adiyat · Juz 30 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Adiyaat Ayah 1 – 6

Ungratefulness of Man and His Zeal for Wealth


Part 1

In Surah Adiyaat Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala presents how ungrateful man is.

He begins the Surah by swearing by the horses when they are galloping into battlefield in His path (i.e., Jihad), and thus they run and pant. This is the sound heard from the horses when they run. Their running causes sparks of fire because of the striking of their hooves.

When two dry and rough objects such as rocks and wood rub against each other they spark and lit fire. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is telling us that these horses create sparks of fire. This war horse has metal hoofs which strike against rocks, causing sparks to fly – in fact they are almost leaving a trail of fire behind them as they speed ahead.

Qadh is a violent strike which is really powerful. Imagine the scene; a pack of horses, speeding through the desert, panting heavily without stop, a trail of sparks behind them, violent strikes of galloping, bandits riding on top without fear, ready to attack the adversary.

“And scouring to the raid at dawn,” (100: 3) means the raid that is carried out in the early morning time. This is just as the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to perform raids in the early morning. He would wait to see if he heard the Athan [call to prayer] from the people. If he heard it he would leave them alone, and if he didn’t hear it he would attack.

The word mugheeraat is from the word ‘ighaarah’ which means to ambush, attack or be right on top of. So mugheeraat means these horses take their riders right on top of their enemy in ambush.

Subhan’Allah, the choice of words used in this Surah is literally depicting the scene. In the previous ayah, these horses were targeting. In this ayah, they have reached right on top of the enemy, ready to pounce and attack. One can imagine the horse and its rider who is carrying a spear in his hand pointing it at the enemy. The war horses are speeding fast, striking heavily – causing sparks, ambushing the enemy like a wolf pack.

The word ‘subha’ means at dawn. This is referring to the bandits who would raid tribes early in the morning. People are usually sleeping at this time not prepared for an encounter.

The practice among the Arabs was that when they had to mount a raid on a settlement, they marched out in the night so as to take the enemy by surprise; then they would launch a sudden attack early in the morning so that everything became visible in the light of day, and at the same time it did not become so bright that the victim could notice their movement from a distance and be ready to meet the offensive.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then says, “And raise the dust in clouds…” (100: 4) meaning, dust at the place of the battle. The word athar means ‘to rise’ and Naq’a means dust. This indicates that horses run with panting breath and dash off sparks at night, then raising dust rush to assault a settlement at dawn.

He then says, “And penetrating forthwith as one into the midst,” (100: 5) meaning then are all in the middle of that spot, together. In this ambush, the bandits are taking advantage of this rising dust which is blinding to the eyes. This allows them to penetrate through the center to attack.

Jam’a means altogether. This can refer to the bandits as united or it can even refer to the enemy and his army altogether. These warriors have pierced through the enemy ranks – reaching the center – with the enemy surrounding them from all sides.

In the first five ayaat Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has caught the listeners’ attention and now they wonder what happens next.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لِرَبِّهِ لَكَنُودٌ

“Verily! Man is ungrateful to his Lord,” (100: 6)

This is the subject what is being sworn about, and it means that man is ungrateful for the favors of His Lord and he rejects them. Ibn `Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu and others scholars said, “Al-Kanud means ungrateful.” Al-Hasan said, “Al-Kanud is the one who counts the calamities (that befall him) and he forgets Allah’s favors.”

The Arab listener loved horses. These people would do a lot of poetry about their horses and their strength, speed, loyalty and sacrifice. These horses would be the first to get hurt in battle by spears, yet they would still stay loyal by staying firm in battle for its master, without running away – even till death.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is showing us that even the animals are grateful to their master, yet man is ungrateful to his Master. The listener just a few seconds ago was imagining himself riding the war horse and how loyal it was to him. Then suddenly he is given a wakeup call – YOU are the slave, and you have a Master, to whom you are not loyal at all.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala puts forward an amazing argument which reaches the heart, from a way which the listener couldn’t even expect. He is left speechless.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has given humans immense ability, intellect and favors. Everything created on earth has been made to be used by man or take benefit from it, including loyal animals like horses. In return, all that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala expects from us is that we remain thankful to our Lord and submit to His commands. Yet, what are we doing in return? Being ungrateful in disobedience?

REFLECTION: If we look in our lives we may have tons of things at home, but if even one is missing we become angry that the one we want is not here. By holding such an attitude we are showing displeasure and ungratefulness to the One Who has created the entire earth for our benefit. We show disrespect and disloyalty to the One Who keep blessing us with favors every day.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala blessed the people with ability, intellect and strength which could be used for the benefit of the society. Yet, people turned into bandits and tyrants oppressing other people by means of the blessings that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gave them. Isn’t this an act of disobedience and ungratefulness? We should all look in our lives and see how we are utilizing the blessings given to us.

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