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Eye Opening Words in the Quran Describing the Life of this World

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Surah Al-Hadid (its title meaning, ‘the iron’) talks about the reality of the transient life of this world. Several descriptive words are used to reveal to us its true nature. After that, Allah warns us to remember that the life of this world is nothing but a “deceptive enjoyment”.

Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment“. [57:20]

In order to see the real picture being painted by our Creator as He details to us the reality of the life of this world, it would be beneficial to ponder on the root meanings of the several Arabic words He has used in the above verse. All the meanings have been taken from Edward William Lane’s online Arabic-to-English Lexicon:


(i) Play, sport, game, fun, joke, prank, or jest.


(ii) Diversion, pastime, sport, or play; especially that which is frivolous or vain; that which occupies a person so as to divert him or her from that which should render him sad or solicitous/anxious/concerned.


(iii) Decoration, finery, show, pomp, or gaeity.


(iv) Glorifying or boasting (viz. to each other), praising or commending own selves for certain properties or qualities, such as enumerating or recounting the particulars of their own ancestral nobility or eminence; or their honorable deeds. Contending for superiority by reason of honors arising from memorable deeds or qualities, or from parentage or relationship, and other things relating to themselves or their ancestors; also: boasting of qualities extrinsic to themselves such as wealth, rank or station.

تَكَاثُرٌ فِى الاٌّمْوَلِ وَالاٌّوْلْـد

(v) Contending, one with another, for superiority in number of (different types of) wealth and children.

مَتَـاعُ الْغُرُور

(vi) The word مَتَـاعُ means anything useful or advantageous viz. utensils, furniture, or food, and the word الْغُرُور means that by which one is deceived; something false and vain. In other words, the life of this world is a provision that is deceptive. It can be used to achieve the best end i.e. Allah’s pleasure and an abode in Paradise in the Hereafter, but is very deceptive in and of itself.

Allah has used a total of five terms and phrases to describe to us the reality of the life of this world in the Quran. Analysis of their meanings clearly reveals that indeed, the life of this world is such that it makes a believer lose focus of the Hereafter.

Consider this – games are fun to play. They cause us to get really involved in them, whether as participants, or as onlookers. The aspect of winning versus losing, or earning more points by achieving a target, enthuses the more keen ones among us to a state of physical and mental euphoria.

When anyone is involved in a game as a participant, whether he is playing outside, or playing a computer game indoors, he is distracted perhaps from more pending matters that require his attention. For some sports enthusiasts, tearing themselves away from a game to answer a call of nature, eat a meal, or pray an obligatory prayer also becomes difficult.

Now, with this picture in mind, we can see why Allah has called the life of this world “a game.” We get so involved in the “game” itself, in its short-term goals and enjoyments, that we tend to lose focus on the importance of the Hereafter. As an example, someone might postpone performing Hajj if important events related to his career are scheduled to take place at the same time in the calendar.

Allah has next called the life of this world “لَهْوٌ” – a “diversion.” It has the potency to make a person lose focus of the goals of the Hereafter. Imagine a person driving  a car; if he or she spots something interesting on the side of the road that will “divert” him or her from driving, he or she will definitely lose focus of the road, resulting in a possible collision.

Another interesting point about the word “لَهْوٌ” is how it has been used in Surah Al-Jum’uah to refer to a caravan that was beating its drums. When the Muslim congregation gathered in the mosque for Friday prayers heard these drums, they rushed towards the caravan:

وَإِذَا رَأَوْاْ تِجَـرَةً أَوْ لَهْواً انفَضُّواْ إِلَيْهَا وَتَرَكُوكَ قَآئِماً

“Yet [it does happen that] when people become aware of [an occasion for] worldly gain or a passing delight, they rush headlong towards it, and leave you (O Muhammad) standing [and preaching]”. [62:11]

According to a narration that Imam Ahmad recorded, Jabir [رضى الله عنه] narrated, “Once, a caravan arrived at Al-Madinah while Allah’s Messenger [صلى الله عليه و سلم] was giving a khutbah. So the people left, and only twelve men remained. Then Allah revealed the above verse”. [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]

It is clear that in this incident, the word “لَهْوٌ” was used to indicate the beating of the caravan’s drums. However, its effect was such that worshippers immediately got diverted or distracted from their goal of listening to the Prophet’s [صلى الله عليه و سلم] sermon whilst attending Friday prayers. With this perfect simile in mind, we can see why Allah has used this word to refer to the life of this world. It can easily distract us, with its short-term goals, from the more important objective of success in the Hereafter.

The word زِينَةٌ means beauty and decoration; anything that is naturally pleasing to look at, or beautified to attract our attention. This could include everything that falls under the umbrella of natural beauty e.g. scenic landscapes, lush vegetation, flowers, and waterfalls, to those things that are made beautiful; which the human heart enjoys.

Bring to mind festivals, celebrations, jewelry, interior decor, architecture, branded/stylish couture, glamour, fashion, luxuries, accessories and diverse cuisines. Human beings love to create, experiment and play around with every conceivable kind of raw material provided by Allah, to transform it into something beautiful for their adornment  or consumption- animal hides are transformed into plush seating; edible textures and tastes are whipped up into sweet and savoury delicacies, and threads are transformed and weaved to produce a myriad of clothes and dresses! Yes, the life of this world definitely revolves a lot around  زِينَةٌ !

The words تَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُم  imply boasting to others, and being boasted to, as the above explanation has stated, about intangible assets of prestige and value, such as honorable lineage, awards and achievements, or righteous deeds. Anything that can cause a person to become proud in and of themselves, can be boasted about. It is important to note here, that a person’s intention makes the difference – perhaps a graduation party thrown to genuinely celebrate one’s happiness at an adult offpsring’s educational milestone with loved ones, could instead become a means of تَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُم , if done with the intention of boasting of this achievement to relatives in order to up oneself in their eyes.

Similarly, several people display their honors, awards and plaques in their drawing rooms or offices, where they receive guests. This, too, if done to establish one’s credibility in one’s profession, for example, as a practicing doctor whose patients want reassurance that they are coming to a reliable person, would not be blameworthy. However, if it is done to make oneself appear better than others, than it would be تَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُم. This mutual boasting starts from childhood (“I have more dolls than you!”) and goes on, increasing in type and intensity, well into adulthood and old age (“All my children are qualified doctors who graduated summa cum laude from top-notch universities.”).

Similarly, تَكَاثُرٌ فِى الاٌّمْوَلِ وَالاٌّوْلْـد , quite simply put, means the “rat race” we are all inadvertently so familiar with, and to an extent, also involved in. This usually starts when a person enters their twenties and beyond, which is a time in their lives when they get married, start having children, and also start earning money through their careers.

Beyond one’s twenties, there is a distinct “keeping up with the Joneses” aspect in one’s life, that subtly creeps in. Whenever one hears of a neighbor, sibling, relative or friend moving into a bigger, luxurious house, acquiring foreign citizenship (this applies mostly to us Eastern dwellers of developing countries), having another child, getting promoted, or adding an SUV to their drive, we immediately start imagining how wonderful it would be if the same happened to us.

It is interesting how Allah has combined two of the words He has used in this verse of Surah Al-Hadid to describe the life of this world, in another verse in the Quran: the first verse of Surah Al-Takaathur:

أَلْهَاكُمُ التَّكَاثُرُ

“The mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things)“. [102:1]

Since تَّكَاثُرُ means contending to increase in numbers of tangible blessings, it is clear from this verse too, that human beings are naturally “diverted” in this life by this, from their primary goal – which should be success in the Hereafter.

Allah goes on after this, in the above verse, to elaborate the simile of this world’s life: of it being like the vegetation or herbage that grows on earth, and pleases its tiller/farmer when it reaches its lustrous, colorful peak viz. the plants or crops become strong and fully grown, bearing fruit or grain. However, after a short period of this lustre, color and vibrance, the plants eventually wither, become dry, lifeless straw, and die. The same earth that was alive with crops a while ago becomes empty and plain again; the color, leaves, fruit, grains or flowers are nowhere to be seen, as if they never existed!

That is, in reality, the same thing that happens to everyone and everything during the life of this world. The young, beautiful face becomes wrinkled and haggard; the lustrous hair becomes limp and grey; the strong bones become brittle, and strong muscles give way to weakness; the eyes lose their sight; the erect spine becomes bent. Moreover, every inanimate thing also goes into decline: the architecturally sound mansion becomes depleted and worn over the years, erosion causing its dilapidation and ruin; the clothes lose their newness, shine and glory, withering away; ‘new’ technology loses its value and becomes obsolete and unwanted; the flashy vehicle goes out of vogue and  ends up in a junk yard as rubble. The list is endless.

Now that our eyes have been opened to the truth about the life of this world; about how its adornments and distractions are alluring but deceptive in nature, because they divert our attention from the Hereafter and make us think that all this ‘glitter’ will last forever; when in fact, everything on this earth will turn to dust as Allah has promised, we should remember the importance of consistently reciting and reading the Quran as a daily routine, so that we are reminded of this important fact about this transitory life. That way, the reminders such as this verse, that tells us in the end about the two options we have before us – either painful torment, or the forgiveness of Allah and His pleasure – will help keep us focused on those deeds that will enable us to enjoy the truly enjoyable, beautiful, desirable, and eternal life, insha’Allah — the one in the Hereafter.

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Sadaf Farooqi is a postgraduate in Computer Science who has done the Taleem Al-Quran Course from Al-Huda International, Institute of Islamic Education for Women, in Karachi, Pakistan.11 years on, she is now a homeschooling parent of three children, a blogger, published author and freelance writer. She has written articles regularly for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine and Saudi Gazette.Sadaf shares her life experiences and insights on her award-winning blog, Sadaf's Space, and intermittently teaches subjects such as Fiqh of Zakah, Aqeedah, Arabic Grammar, and Science of Hadith part-time at a local branch of Al-Huda. She has recently become a published author of a book titled 'Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage'.For most part, her Jihad bil Qalam involves juggling work around persistent power breakdowns and preventing six chubby little hands from her computer! Even though it may not seem so, most of her time is spent not in doing all this, but in what she loves most - reading.



  1. Avatar


    May 12, 2010 at 2:36 AM

    Beautiful article!! Especially the explanation of the words helping to understand. i will make it as a reminder to keep me in check, as the glitter of this world to take us away from the real purpose. May Allah bless you! Ameen

    • Avatar

      sabir abdus-samee

      September 25, 2014 at 4:50 AM

      It makes you think that something is yours when he truth is nothing is yours

    • Avatar


      January 9, 2015 at 12:52 PM

      JazaqumLlahu Khairan…What a good reminder!

    • Avatar


      June 1, 2016 at 8:28 AM

      Great brother. Made me smile while reading it. May Allah bless him, you, and all of the believers. Amin

  2. Yahya Ibrahim

    Yahya Ibrahim

    May 12, 2010 at 3:44 AM


    It is also interesting to note that every time Allah calls us to knowledge of an issue (i’laamu), the verses that follow will have a call to action.

    In this case the next verse is:

    “Race one with another in hastening towards Forgiveness from your Lord (Allah), and towards Paradise, the width whereof is as the width of heaven and earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers. That is the Grace of Allah which He bestows on whom He pleases. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty. ”

    Knowledge and action are linked together without exception by Allah and His Messenger (s).

    Also interesting is the syntax of the words to describe the dunya.

    1.Play leads to 2.diversion which leads to and pomp which leads to 4.boasting and finally 5.contending and gathering more of the above four – similied in Wealth and children.

    Wealth before children is a theme in the Quran. Many would forego their children on account of seeking an increase in their wealth.

    What is interesting is that each of the five is relative to the individual in question. You can be boastful while poverty (an illness of the heart mentioned by the prophet (s).

    Thank you for the reminder.

    Yahya Ibrahim

    • Amad


      May 12, 2010 at 4:26 AM

      outstanding… your comment was further adornment for this beautiful post.

    • Avatar


      May 12, 2010 at 6:11 AM

      I wasn’t aware of the wealth before children theme. Thanks for highlighting this relevant point!

    • Avatar

      Yaqeen needed

      May 13, 2010 at 12:36 AM

      Barakallahu feek Sadaf This is no doubt one of the most beneficial articles have read here.

      As Amad said, the comment by Yahya gives the article much appreciated value. A case of cooperating in good synergistically

      Going the path of the companion Hudhaifa -raidallahu anh- who often always looked at the negative aspects of issues in order to avoid them, the issue of application of ilm as raised by Yahya is really disturbing.

      I mean in our times we give great deal of of emphasis omn seeking knowledge. If one is not a maghribite its packing of the bag and going to madinah or cairo for knowledge. The worry – egged on by Yahya- is that of all the knowledge we acquire, how much do we express or strive to express in deeds.

      As an example, how may of us are willing to immediately seek out a brother who is MIA from namaz fajr. We know it is from the sunnah to do so. And we know this itself when done sincerely is a true brotherhood building mechanism. Much more authentic and long lasting than emails or meeting in corridors after dars or ilminars? We read over and over again how Allah gives precedence to sacrificing in His path in the quran and how we more often than noit dilute it it out in our pursuit of our 9-5 daily lives. Of course we often have the back of academic ossified to fall unto – this is fard kifaayah,this is fard kida kida, there is ikhtilaf,etc. Allah praises and ecourages jihad and hijrah and we ..well we what we do ? Help downgrade the status , justify downgrading the status and then feel cool with having downgraded the status of issues highly preferred by Allah jalla shanu. And so the ‘J’ word we have made synonymous to terrorism and thus disliked to muslims. And so like Yahya implied , we learn the fiqh of da’wah, jihad and hijra but then make it like the xtains issues not to be practised anymore or given the due priority it was given by Allah jalla shanu and His messenger alayhi salam

      To put this self criticism snowball started by Yahya in perspective, it is reported that Umar used to ask Hudhaifa if he was one of the munafiqin. Abu Bakr and Hanzala – radiallahu anhum were all afraid of being munafiqin. If we have or seek or glorigy knowledge and do not truly practise them even where such practice demands limitless sacrifice, we should be questioning ourselves like these glorious companions. They are the ones we should truly look up to and not people of our times

    • Avatar

      Lukman Adam, Ilorin Nigeria.

      May 15, 2010 at 3:53 AM

      Beatful article, wonderful comments. I suggest recirculation as we have many thing diverting our attention from Allah in mordern world than those calling our attention to Allah. Jazaakumullahu khaeran.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      May 16, 2010 at 12:04 AM

      Jazak Allahu khair, Seikh Yahya! You have given us really deep insight into this verse. The part about wealth always coming first in mention before children in the Quran….I never thought about that! Of course it is so true; so many people reduce their number of children, delay having them, or resort to abortions, only because of their love of wealth or fear of poverty. Subhan Allah.

  3. Avatar

    umm musa

    May 12, 2010 at 4:08 AM

    Very wise and beautiful words from the Quran. Interestingly, has used exactly the same quote from the Quran in an article about TV. I would recommend reading it as an good followup to this excellent article.

    • Avatar

      Yaqeen needed

      May 14, 2010 at 10:25 PM

      Now we know or are reminded about the evils of TV, I believe it calls for action or renewed action against this source of evil in the ummah. The sort of action Yayha calls. may Allah give us taofiq for the sacrifices needed. BTW, the TV’s value added feature as an evil endengering piece is very apt in the world cup craze the bug of which may have affected some of us

  4. Avatar


    May 12, 2010 at 6:17 AM

    Excellent reminder. Your article made me appreciate the perfect structure of Islam even more. Allah sent us here amidst all the distractions, but not without plenty of help! The prayers, dhikr, Quran, are all built in to keep our focus on what really matters.

    It also helps to see the life of the world in context of our imminent death. Understanding that in a split second death can claim us helps weaken the distractions slightly.

  5. Avatar

    Iesa Galloway

    May 12, 2010 at 6:47 AM

    Masha’Allah – GREAT article, may Allah increase you!

  6. darthvaider


    May 12, 2010 at 7:33 AM

    I really enjoyed this read. Jazaki Allah khayr for posting it.

  7. Avatar


    May 12, 2010 at 7:56 AM

    Jazaaki Allahu khayran Sadaf for this great piece. May Allah protect us from making the dunya our main concern and the limit of our knowledge.

    • Avatar


      May 12, 2010 at 8:50 AM


  8. Avatar

    Mariam E.

    May 12, 2010 at 8:28 AM

    Asalamu Alikum warahmatu Allah

    SubhanaAllah. May Allah reward you for this excellent reminder.

  9. Avatar


    May 12, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    Jazakallahu Khayr. :)

  10. Avatar

    abu Abdullah

    May 12, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    Jazak Allaah Khayr for posting this article. Barak Allah feek.

  11. Avatar

    Abu Aaliyah

    May 12, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    Asalaamu Alaikum,
    MashAllah nice article. Br. Nouman has a beautiful lecture on this same ayah.

  12. Avatar


    May 12, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    SubhanAllah, yet another testimony to the miracle of the Qur’an. Could mankind think of any better words to describe the temporary nature of this world?

    JazakAllah khair.

  13. Avatar


    May 12, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    Jazakillahu khairaa for an excellent reminder.May Allah give us towfeeq to work for something long lasting and doesn`t wither away.

  14. Avatar


    May 12, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    Mash’Allah, excellent work!

    All that glitters is not gold,
    take heed of the Hereafter,
    before your soul is sold.
    You may grab and cling in a hungry craze,
    but Izra’eel will surely take yours
    at the end of your days.

  15. Avatar


    May 12, 2010 at 7:10 PM

    JazakaAllahu Khair for this very important reminder. We so often only focus on the present and not on the future (Hearafter) knowing that what we build for this world will leave us, but what we build for the Hearafter will not.

  16. Avatar


    May 12, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    I love your post because it highlighted in detail the ayah above. this ayah is one of my favorites but I have never read a better explanation. Jazakallah khair for the very educational post=)

  17. Avatar


    May 12, 2010 at 11:20 PM

    Sister, jazakallah khayrun for the beautiful explanation.. may Allah swt bless you and your family with the best of this world and hereafter.

  18. Avatar


    May 13, 2010 at 12:22 AM

    Jazakillahu khairaa for an excellent reminder.May Allah give us towfeeq to work for something long lasting and doesn`t wither away.

  19. Avatar


    May 13, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    Thanks for the post. Really motivational. There are lots of words in Quran like this that are eye opening.

  20. Avatar

    abu Rumay-s.a.

    May 13, 2010 at 7:42 AM

    jazakie Allahu khairun for the well written article and reminder about the reality of this world. SubhanAllah, after having moved to an oil rich Muslim country, I see this problem ever more so evident, may Allah cleanse us of our sins…ameen…

    I’d just like to add a point for further clarification that possessing wealth in and of itself is not blameworthy and can be praiseworthy if it is gained in the proper way and spent accordingly. Also I believe that liking a nice house, or a car or to have a lot of children is natural in human beings as Allah ta`ala made those things for us..even the prophets liked such things…

    I think the main point is that irrespective if one has these things or not, it is, as Shaykh Ibrahim alluded to, each individual’s state of the impoverishment to Allah in the heart… the state of faqr does not imply that one lose all the worldy things to reach it, rather it is detaching your love for it in the heart to where it distracts you from your deen.

    An example is that the poorest person could have love for the dunya while he does not even possess it or conversely, the richest person could have all the dunya but without love of it in his heart…

    And Allah knows best…

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      May 16, 2010 at 12:13 AM

      Yes, you are right. Wealth is not a bad thing in and of itself. Even the Quran testifies to that:

      وَإِنَّهُ لِحُبِّ الْخَيْرِ لَشَدِيدٌ

      “And violent is he in his love of wealth” [Quran, 100:8]

      In this verse, Allah calls wealth الخير – which translates to “good”. It is the love of this wealth in man that causes some problems.

      We should remember that our pious predecessors would not pass a day after receiving lots of wealth before giving it in charity. Also, Prophet Dawood [عليه السلام] was granted kingdom and wealth, the like of which no one had. But he didnot let the love of this wealth distract him from sincere worship or obedience to his Lord.

      Allah knows best.

    • Avatar


      September 17, 2016 at 10:48 AM

      Asalam Alaikun to everyone.. Abu rumay-s.a..I really appreciate your comment..may Allah continue to bless us both in this world and hereafter

    • Avatar


      October 5, 2016 at 11:00 AM

      An example is that the poorest person could have love for the dunya while he does not even possess it or conversely, the richest person could have all the dunya but without love of it in his heart… !

      whoever desire the life of this world with his deed we give him what is decreed for him and has no share in the hereafter 42:20

  21. Avatar


    May 13, 2010 at 7:58 PM

    JazaakAllah! What a way to put things into perspective, SubhaanAllah! I could think of some many things I do or which I take interest in that are “La’ib” and “Lahw”. May Allah(swt) keep us all on the right track! Ameen!

  22. Avatar

    Shuaib Mansoori

    May 14, 2010 at 6:33 AM

    JazakiAllah Khairan Ukhti! May Allah shower you with His abundant blessings both in this Dunya and Aakhira. Truly a beautiful reminder.

    And JazakAllah Khair Shaykh Yahya for the followup comment. SubhanAllah seeing the Divine method of putting together 2 concepts (I’lamu and ‘amal) was indeed thought provoking. BarakAllahu Feekum Ya Ustadh.

  23. Avatar


    May 15, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    Sadaf its interesting how you put up a picture of a wedding stage.I have yet to read your entire article but while browsing through it I was struck by the picture you posted.

    Over the past few months I have been overwhelmed by the amount of extravagance and finery seen at weddings and especially with wedding forums I have begun to wonder whether everyone is trying to outdo everyone else and when does one say something is too much!Your article puts things in perspective for me atleast.

    Maybe I really don’t need to have it all!!! I just hope Allah gives me the sabr to accept this.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      May 16, 2010 at 12:20 AM

      I put up that picture to illustrate the concept of زِينَةٌ, as mentioned in the article. The picture was taken at a wedding which I attended, but just for the record, they were extremely well-off industrialists, so perhaps they could afford the excess flowers. Allah knows best if it was extravagance or not.

      But I agree with you that flowers worth thousands of our local currency for a few-hours-long ceremony, after which they just wither and get trampled under everyone’s feet……doesn’t seem fair, with so much hunger and poverty all around, in the same country. Our weddings and their decor are getting more and more extravagant by the day.

      Allah knows best.

      • Avatar

        Halal Media

        May 22, 2010 at 10:19 AM

        You have a great point there. Come to think of it, all facets of our lives are similar to the flowers. We spend so much time, resources and energy at the expense of our children and our duty to perfect their religion, not to mention ours. In the end, it amounts to naught and when we finally do realise it, into the grave we go, with just a white cloth wrapping our naked bodies and trembling at the sight of Mungkar and Nangkeer. SubnaAllah. May the writer and everybody else who enriches this post get their well deserve rewards by The AlMighty. Ameen.

  24. Avatar

    nighat shah

    May 15, 2010 at 11:31 PM

    assalam alaykum sadaf,excellent article!may allah show us the right path by following quran and sunnah,and forgive our sins AMEEN!!!

  25. Avatar

    Zafar Muhammad Khalid.

    May 16, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    Assalaamu ‘alaikum and Jazakallahum Ghairan.

    Al-Qur’aan is MU’JIZAATHUL MU’JIZAATH meaning Miracles of Miracles.

    The Prophet’s uncle ‘Abdul ‘Uzza bin ‘Abdul Muttalib also known as Abu Lahab (Father of the Flames) was his greatest enemy. In surathul TABAT also known as MASAD and AL-LAHAB are many things to learn.

    After given the instructions to convey, the Prophet Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam started his mission at Makkah. The Prophet Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said he was sent as a warner before the SEVERE TORMENT. At this, Abu Lahab said, “Have you gathered us for this? May you perish.” Then Allaah Almighty revealed:


    The miracle about this particular Revelation was, for ten years until Abu Lahab met his death at the Battle of Badr, he knew this revelation and knew his and his wife’s fate. If only he declared the SHAHADA within this ten years, may Allaah forgive me – the Qur’aan would have been null and void. Now then, the question arises
    what prevented him from declaring the SHAHADA? Allaah Azzawajal says in the Qur’aan that the Religions is His and He WILL SAFEGUARD IT.

    So today We will save you in body (preserved and not destroyed) that you may be to those who succeed you a sign. And indeed many among the people of Our signs are heedless.
    Al-Qur’aan Ch.10 Yoonus Vr.92


    The lesson from Firaun is that with all the luxury which he could think of, his body shown in the above link shows that his body is in a box with no pomp or pageantry – WEALTH AND CHILDREN ARE BUT ADORNMENT OF THE WORLDLY LIFE. Al-Qur’aan 18:46.

    Zafar Khald.

  26. Avatar

    Pena Maya

    May 21, 2010 at 2:33 PM


  27. Pingback: » Blog Archive » Eye Opening Words in the Quran

  28. Avatar


    June 8, 2010 at 1:02 AM

    Jazaaki Allahu khayran Sadaf for this great piece. May Allah protect us from making the dunya our main concern and the limit of our knowledge.

  29. Avatar


    December 26, 2010 at 7:46 AM


  30. Avatar


    February 28, 2012 at 3:50 AM

    Mashallah Tabarakallah ! Some of the CORE themes of the Quran penned in a very dynamic approach !

    Whenever Allah SWT mentions same topic/idea in more than one place, it is always SERIOUS ….{in our terms what we call as … We mean Business } ! The message of can be seen almost exactly same or similar in … !
    And in , says “This, because ye used to take the Signs of Allah in jest, and the life
    of the world deceived you….”.
    And also the saying of Allah SWT that “…Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is
    best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving..” …. All point to the same CORE message that this worldly life, for a Believer,  should not deviate his GOAL of achieving a good record in Akhirah, to become among the Muflihoon …. ABSOLUTE Successful !With reference to your statement : “Now, with this picture in mind, we can see why Allāh has called the life of this world “a game.” We get so involved in the “game” itself, in its short-term goals and enjoyments, that we tend to lose focus on the importance of the Hereafter. ..” Just as a general comment … maybe I’m wrong, … but I have strong OBJECTION to someone attributing REASONS for any Quranic Ayah ! Allah SWT has absolute ilm (knowledge) and our ilm is limited to what He wills and wishes us to have. With this limited ilm we can surely interpret and try to infer 
    His words but should not GIVE SUCH A BOLD STATEMENT AS TO THE REASON FOR ALLAH TO REVEAL SUCH AND SUCH AYAH ?!?!? With different level of ilm and in different times , there could be a better and more closer interpretation of any verse ! Attributing a clear reason as to why Allah has revealed a particular Ayah is as if challenging the authority that on this particular issue my ilm has come to perfection ?!? And Allah probably does not like this …. so did Musa PBUH think when he was asked to see Khidr.

    May the Almighty Allah bless you and your family with the best of both the worlds ! Ameen.

  31. Pingback: The Perfect Happiness. « AbuWhy

  32. Avatar


    February 17, 2015 at 2:48 AM

    It is the Grace and Mercy of Allah that He created the Hereafter with two different nature of life; the life in the Paradise and the life in the Hell. By creating these two different nature of life, Allah really wants all Human beings and Jinns to strive hard to win the Paradise and to save themselves from the abysmal of fire by obeying His orders and evading His Prohibitions. By obeying all His Orders a man really constructs the path through which he and others are keeping on travelling with beautiful decorations and by disregarding His Prohibitions man makes the road through which and others travel dirty and filthy . The concept of Islam is so beautiful .

  33. Avatar


    August 24, 2015 at 7:24 PM

    Ma Shaa Allah …So nice explanation .. Keep me update your next post. Jazak Allah

  34. Avatar

    Husna Bint Azeem

    October 21, 2015 at 7:59 AM

    Beautiful explained, well done. MaShaAllah :)

  35. Avatar


    October 21, 2015 at 8:12 AM

    Thanks for this great article. However, after reading the ayah, I cannot help but think that it is a generalization. Too many people in this world are suffering. Our brothers in Islam in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Palestine; our brothers in humanity in Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Mexico, South Sudan, eastern Ukraine, to name a few crisis zones, are suffering, struggling to survive. In the US, we see numerous examples of police brutality and gang violence causing families and peoples to suffer. The verse starts out by saying ““Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement…” but surely as we can see from history and from the present day, surely, for too many people, the world is not only play and amusement, but rather a struggle, a struggle to survive and provide a semblance good life for one’s self and one’s family. The recent refugee crisis with Syrians quite literally dying at see in order to make it to Europe illustrates this point quite well. To be fair, no doubt, perhaps a majority of the earth’s population is hedonistic and too many people are caught up in play and amusement and boasting and such. However, there is a not insignificant portion of the world that is suffering tremendously, for whom the world is surely not “play and amusement.” In this context, then, how can we make sense of this verse? Are we simply to ignore the real suffering of people who are struggling to survive everyday? Or is there a deeper meaning of the verse that we are missing? I certainly do not mean any offense by this comment, but rather, wanted to one give different analysis that has not yet been put forth on this board and two help myself to arrive at the truth.

    • Avatar


      October 25, 2015 at 4:21 PM

      ASalam alaikum brother, it is a good point you have made, I want you learn the holy quran further in order to discover the truth. The answer to your question is with Allah swt. You do have to go with the fact that this life is a test. I have tried to answer your question.
      I too was confused after discovering the role of Satan, which made me question the creation.
      After reading this verse
      It is We Who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels bow down to Adam, and they bowed down; not so Iblis; He refused to be of those who bow down. (God) said: “What prevented thee from bowing down when I commanded thee?” He said: “I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay.” (God) said: “Get thee down from this: it is not for thee to be arrogant here: get out, for thou art of the meanest (of creatures).” (7: 11–13)
      I realised that after Allah swt created the earth he created the mankind, jinns (unseen) and the Satan equally until Satan disobeyed Allah swt. Before Satan disobeyed, God wanted to create a world where he would allow the mankind and jinns to be tested by giving them freedom where they would be enjoying referring to
      “Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment“. [57:20]

      However, since Allah swt wanted to test mankind and the jinns he added Satan and allowed him to mislead the mankind with the help of the jinns. The answer to your question is Satan which is part of Allah swt test.

      • Avatar


        October 26, 2015 at 11:38 AM

        JazakAllahkhair for your response, that really helps!

  36. Avatar

    honey lili

    October 24, 2015 at 7:16 AM

    jazakallah for this super article, and informative comments :–)

  37. Avatar


    June 21, 2016 at 9:46 AM

    Omg the best article I have ever read may allah bless you brother

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Lessons From Surah Maryam: 1

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Alhamdulillah, it’s a great blessing of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that He has given us both the opportunity and ability to come here tonight to study and explore the meanings of His words in Surah Maryam. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accept this effort from all of us and place it on our scale of good deeds.

Alhamdulillah, in our last series we were able to complete the tafsir of Surah Al-Kahf. InshAllah, in this next series, we’ll be exploring the meanings, lessons, and reminders of Surah Maryam. Tafsīr is an extremely noble and virtuous discipline. The reason why it’s so noble and virtuous is that it’s the study of the divine speech of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). As mentioned in a hadith the superiority of the speech of Allah over all other speech is like the superiority of Allah over all of His creation. There’s nothing more beneficial and virtuous than studying the Quran. And by doing so we’ll be counted amongst the best of people. As the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “the best amongst you are those who learn the Quran and teach it.”

All of us need to build a stronger relationship with the Quran. The Quran is full of wisdom and guidance in every single verse and word. It’s our responsibility to seek that guidance, understand it, contextualize it and more importantly act upon it. Tafsīr is such a unique science that it brings together all of the other Islamic sciences. While exploring a Surah a person comes across discussions regarding Arabic grammar and morphology, rhetoric, Ahādīth, fiqh, sīrah and all those studies that are known as the Islamic Sciences. One scholar described the Quran as an ocean that has no shore, بحر لا ساحل له. The more we study the Qur’ān the stronger our relationship with it will become. We’ll become more and more attached to it and will be drawn into its beauty and wonder. The deeper a person gets into tafsir and studying the more engaged and interested they become. They also recognize how little they truly know. It develops humility. That’s the nature of true knowledge. The more we learn the more we recognize we don’t know. May Allah ﷻ allow us all to be sincere and committed students of the Qur’ān.

Surah Maryam

Surah Maryam is the 19th surah in the Quran. It is a relatively long Makki surah made up of 98 verses. Some commentators mention that it’s the 44th Surah to be revealed, after Surah Al-Fatir and before Surah Taha. It has been given the name Maryam because Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions the story of Maryam (as) and her family and how she gave birth to Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) miraculously at the beginning of the Surah. Just like other Makkan surahs, it deals with the most fundamental aspects of our faith. It talks about the existence and oneness of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), prophethood, and resurrection and recompense.

The Surah is made up of a series of unique stories filled with guidance and lessons that are meant as reminders. One of the main themes of this Surah is mercy… It has been mentioned over 16 times in this Surah. We’ll find the words of grace, compassion and their synonyms frequently mentioned throughout the sūrah, together with Allah’s attributes of beneficence and mercy. We can say that one of the objectives of the Surah is to establish and affirm the attribute of mercy for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). That’s why all of the stories mentioned also have to do with Allah’s mercy.

Another objective of the Surah is to remind us of our relationship with Allah ﷻ; the concept of Al-‘Ubūdiyyah. These are the two major themes or ideas of this Surah; the concept of Rahmah and the concept of ‘Ubūdiyyah (Mercy and Servitude).

The Surah can be divided into 8 sections:

1) Verses 1-15: The surah starts with the story of Zakariyya (as) and how he was given the gift of a child at a very old age, which was something strange and out of the ordinary.

2) Verses 16-40: mention the story of Maryam and the miraculous birth of Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) without a father and how her community responded to her.

3) Verses 41-50: The surah then briefly mentions one part of the story of Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), specifically the conversation he had with his father regarding the worship of idols. The surah then briefly mentions a series of other Prophets.

4) Verses 51-58: Mention Musa and Haroon 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), Ismail 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Idrees 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to show that the essence of the message of all Prophets was the same

5) Verses 59-65: compare and contrast the previous generations with the current ones in terms of belief and actions.

6) Verses 66-72: Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) addresses the Mushrikoon rejecting their false claims regarding life after death and judgment.

7) Verses 73-87: continue to address the Mushrikoon and warn them regarding their attitude towards belief in Allah and His messengers. They also mention the great difference between the resurrection of the believer and the resurrection of the non-believer.

8) Verses 88-98: contain a severe warning to those who claim that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has taken a child. They also express that Allah is pleased with the believers and mentions that one of the objectives of the Quran is to give glad tidings to the believers and to warn the non-believers.


From various narrations, we learn that this surah was revealed near the end of the fourth year of Prophethood. This was an extremely difficult time for Muslims. The Quraysh were frustrated with their inability to stop the message of Islam from spreading so they became ruthless. They resorted to any method of torture that they could think of; beating, starving and harassing. When the persecution became so severe that it was difficult for the Muslims to bear it, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) gave permission to migrate to Abyssinia. “For in it dwells a king in whose presence no one is harmed.” 10 men and 4 women migrated in the 5th year of Prophethood secretly. After a few months, a larger group of 83 men and 18 women migrated as well. This migration added more fuel to the fire. It enraged the people of Quraysh.

Umm Salamah [rahna]narrated, “When we stopped to reside in the land of Abyssinia we lived alongside the best of neighbors An-Najashi. We practiced our religion safely, worshipped Allah without harm and didn’t hear anything we disliked. When news of our situation reached the Quraysh they started to plot against us…” They decided to send two delegates to persuade An-Najashi to send the Companions back by offering him and his ministers’ gifts. The plan was to go to each minister with gifts and turn them against the Muslims. So they went to each minister with gifts and said, “Verily, foolish youth from amongst us have come to the country of your king; they have abandoned the religion of their people and have not embraced your religion. Rather they have come with a new religion that neither of us knows. The noblemen of their people, from their fathers and uncles, have sent us to the king asking that he send them back. So when we speak to the king regarding their situation advise him to surrender them to us and to not speak to them…” The minister agreed.

Then they went to the king, offered him gifts and said the same thing… The ministers tried to convince him as well. An-Najashi became angry with them and said, “No, by Allah, I will not surrender them to these two and I don’t fear the plotting of a people who have become my neighbors, have settled down in my country, and have chosen me (to grant them refuge) over every other person. I will not do so until I summon them and speak to them. If they are as these two say I will give them up, but if they aren’t then I will protect them from these two and continue to be a good neighbor to them as long as they are good neighbors to me.”

al-Najāshī then summoned the Prophet’s ﷺ Companions. When his messenger informed the Prophet’s Companions that they were to appear before the king, they gathered together to discuss what they should do. One of them asked, “What will you say to the name (al-Najāshī) when you go to him?” They all agreed on what they would say to him, “By Allah, we will say what our Prophet ﷺ taught us and commanded us with, regardless of the consequences.” Meanwhile, al-Najāshī called for his priests, who gathered around him with their scrolls spread out before them. When the Muslims arrived al-Najāshī began by asking them, “What is this religion for which you have parted from your people? You have not entered into the fold of my religion, nor the religion of any person from these nations.”

Umm Salamah [rahna] narrated, “The Person among us who would speak to him was Jaʿfar ibn abī Ṭālib [rahnu] who then said, “O king, we were an ignorant people: we worshipped idols, we would eat from the flesh of dead animals, we would perform lewd acts, we would cut off family ties, and we would be bad neighbors; the strong among us would eat from the weak. We remained upon that state until Allah sent us a Messenger, whose lineage, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and chastity we already knew. He invited us to Allah – to believe in His oneness and to worship Him; to abandon all that we and our fathers worshipped besides Allah, in terms of stones and idols. He ﷺ commanded us to speak truthfully, to fulfill the trust, to join ties of family relations, to be good to our neighbors, and to refrain from forbidden deeds and from shedding blood. And he ﷺ forbade us from lewd acts, from uttering falsehood, from wrongfully eating the wealth of an orphan, from falsely accusing chaste women of wrongdoing. And he ﷺ ordered us to worship Allah alone and to not associate any partners with him in worship; and he ﷺ commanded us to pray, to give zakāh, and to fast.” He enumerated for al-Najāshī the teachings of Islam. He said, “And we believe him and have faith in him. We follow him in what he came with. And so we worship Allah alone, without associating any partners with Him in worship. We deem forbidden that which he has made forbidden for us, and we deem lawful that which he made permissible for us. Our people then transgressed against us and tortured us. The tried to force us to abandon our religion and to return from the worship of Allah to the worship of idols; they tried to make us deem lawful those abominable acts that we used to deem lawful. Then, when they subjugated us, wronged us, and treated us in an oppressive manner, standing between us and our religion, we came to your country, and we chose you over all other people. We desired to live alongside you, and we hoped that, with you, we would not be wronged, O king.” al-Najāshī said to Jaʿfar [rahnu], “Do you have any of that which he came with from Allah?” Jaʿfar [rahnu] said, “Yes”. “Then recite to me,” said al-Najāshī. Jaʿfar [rahnu] recited for him the beginning of Surah Maryam. By Allah, al-Najāshī began to cry, until his beard became wet with tears. And when his priests heard what Jaʿfar [rahnu] was reciting to them, they cried until their scrolls became wet. al-Najāshī then said, “By Allah, this and what Mūsa (as) came with come out of the same lantern. Then by Allah, I will never surrender them to you, and henceforward they will not be plotted against and tortured.”

Describing what happened after the aforementioned discussion between al-Najāshī and Jaʿfar [rahnu], Umm Salamah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “When both ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ and ʿAbdullah ibn abī Rabīʿah left the presence of al-Najāshī, ʿAmr [rahnu] said, “By Allah tomorrow I will present to him information about them with which I will pull up by the roots their very lives.” Abdullah ibn Rabīʿah who was more sympathetic of the two towards us said, “Don’t do so, for they have certain rights of family relations, even if they have opposed us.” ʿAmr said, “By Allah, I will inform him that they claim that ʿĪsā ibn Maryam is a slave.”

He went to the king on the following day and said, “O king, verily, they have strong words to say about ʿĪsa (as). Call them here and ask them what they say about him.” al-Najāshī sent for them in order to ask them about ʿĪsa. Nothing similar to this befell us before. The group of Muslims gathered together and said to one another, “What will you say about ʿĪsa when he asks you about him?” They said, “By Allah, we will say about him that which Allah says and that which our Prophet ﷺ came with, regardless of the outcome.” When they entered into his presence, he said to them, “What do you say about ʿĪsa ibn Maryam?” Jaʿfar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “We say about him that which our Prophet ﷺ came with – that he is the slave of Allah, His messenger, a spirit created by Him, and His word, which he bestowed on Maryam, the virgin, the baṭūl.”

al-Najāshī struck his hand on the ground and took from it a stick. He then said, “ʿĪsa ibn Maryam did not go beyond what you said even the distance of the stick.” When he said this, his ministers spoke out in anger, to which he responded, “What I said is true even if you speak out in anger, by Allah. (Turning to the Muslims, he said) Go, for you are safe in my land. Whoever curses you will be held responsible. And I would not love to have a reward of gold in return for me hurting a single man among you. (Speaking to his ministers he said) Return to these two (men) their gifts, since we have no need for them. For by Allah, Allah did not take from me bribe money when He returned to me my kingdom, so why should I take bribe money. The two left, defeated and humiliated; and returned to them were the things they came with. We then resided alongside al-Najāshī in a very good abode, with a very good neighbor.”

The response was simply amazing in its eloquence. A believer puts the needs of his soul before the needs of his body. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) starts the Surah by saying,

Verse 1: Kaf, Ha, Ya, ‘Ayn, Sad.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) starts Surah Maryam with a series of five letters. There are many different saying or explanations regarding these five letters. The most correct opinion is that these are from the broken letters. There are 29 different Surahs in the Quran that start with the broken letters. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alone knows the meanings of these letters. They are a secret from amongst the secrets of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), meaning that no one knows what they truly mean. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows their meanings so they are from amongst the Mutashaabihat, those verses whose meanings are hidden.

However, we do find that some great Companions, as well as their students, sometimes gave meanings to these words. For example, it’s said that it is in acronym and each letter represents one of the names of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Kaf is for Al-Kafi or Al-Kareem, “haa” is for Al-Hadi, “yaa” is from Hakeem or Raheem, “’ayn” is from Al-‘Aleem or Al-‘Adheem, and “saad” is from Al-Saadiq. Others said that it is one of the names of Allah and it’s actually Al-Ism Al-‘Atham or that it’s a name of the Quran. However, these narrations can’t be used as proof or to assign definitive meanings. They offer possibilities, but no one truly knows what they mean.

Now the question should come to our mind that why would Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) start of a Surah with words that no one understands?

1) To grab the attention of the listeners.

2) To remind us that no matter how much we know there’s always something that we don’t know.

3) These letters are the letters of the Arabic language and the Quran was revealed at a time that was the peak of eloquence of the language and it was their identity. The Quran was revealed challenging them spiritually and intellectually. The Arabs never heard these letters being used in such a majestic way.

4) To prove the inimitable nature of the Quran.

Allah then starts the story of Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was one of the Prophets sent to Bani Israel. He was the husband of Maryam’s paternal aunt. He was also one of the caretakers or custodians of Baitul Maqdis.

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Heart Soothers: Idrees Al Hashemi

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Lesson 13 From Surah Al -Kahf

Last verses of Surah Kahf

Surah Kahf
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Alhamdulillah last session we were able to cover the meanings of verses 83-98. InshAllah tonight we’ll explore the meanings of verses 99-110, which will bring us to the end of this noble and beautiful Surah. Just as a quick reminder, the last set of verses related the story of Dhul Qarnain, who was an upright and God-conscious ruler who ruled over the entire known world of his time. He was a righteous servant of Allah to whom Allah granted might, power and sovereignty over the world along with knowledge and wisdom. He was a special servant of God. We’re told about his journeys to the east, west, and north as well as his building of a huge wall to prevent Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj from escaping. This story highlighted the fitna and trial of might, power, leadership, and authority and showed us that the way to deal with it is through faith and sincerity. Dhul Qarnain was tested with a lot of wealth and power but it was unable to corrupt him because of his faith and sincerity. The Surah follows the story of Dhul Qarnain with a scene from the Day of Judgment.

Verse 99: And We shall leave them, on that day, to surge over one another like waves. And the trumpet shall be blown, and We shall gather them together.

The first part of this verse is referring to Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj and the second part refers to resurrection, when the Angel Isrāfīl will blow into the horn bringing all creation back to life. On that day, is referring to the day near the end of times when Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj will break through the barrier and surge down the mountains like waves upon humanity destroying everything in their way. As Allah ﷻ tells us in Surah Al-Anbiya, “Until when [the dam of] Gog and Magog has been opened and they, from every elevation, descend…” They will wreak havoc for a period of time known to Allah until they will be destroyed.

As we’ve covered before there will be two instances when the trumpet will be sounded. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has appointed the Angel Isrāfīl to blow into the trumpet. This will happen twice. The first time every single thing will be destroyed. The second time every single thing will be brought back to life. This is how the day of Resurrection will start. The sūr, which is a trumpet or a horn, will be blown and all of mankind will rise from their graves and come towards the plain of judgment. That’s what Allah ﷻ is mentioning here in this verse, “And the trumpet shall be blown, and We shall gather them together.”

The Surah then describes a scene from the day of Judgment that’s specific to the non-believers. Those who received the message and consciously chose to reject it and rebel against God and His messengers.

Verse 100-101: And We shall present Hell, on that Day, as an array before the non-believers, those whose eyes were veiled from the remembrance of Me, and could not hear.

Meaning on the Day of Judgment Allah ﷻ will show the non-believers Hell Fire, exposing it to them so that they can see it with their own eyes. They will see it with their own eyes and hear its raging and frightening sounds even before entering it. Allah then describes the non-believers with 3 characteristics, which are essentially three reasons why they will be punished in the hereafter:

1) “Those whose eyes were veiled from the remembrance of Me, and could not hear.” They weren’t able to understand the truth when it was presented to them because they were spiritually blind and deaf. They were blind to the signs of Allah’s existence and power all around them spread throughout the universe, so they never thought or reflected over them. On top of that, they weren’t able to understand what was being recited to them. Meaning, they consciously chose to ignore the message and turn away from it. Here Allah is contrasting their condition in the hereafter to their condition in the life of this world. In this world, they chose to turn away from belief in the fire and in the hereafter, they won’t have the option to turn away. The veil over their eyes will be removed and they will see the consequences of their choice.

2) The second is that they worshipped others besides Allah.

Verse 102: Do those who disbelieve reckon that they may take My servants as protectors apart from Me? Truly We have prepared Hell as a welcome for the disbelievers!

Allah is scolding them and showing them their mistake. Did they really think or believe that they could take created beings or inanimate objects as protectors apart from Me? Did they really believe that worshipping idols, angels or people would benefit them or help them in any way? There’s no help or protection except with Allah, who deserves to be worshipped alone without any partners. As Allah ﷻ says in Surah Maryam, “No! Those “gods” will deny their worship of them and will be against them opponents [on the Day of Judgment].” Allah then tells us that their punishment is Jahannam, which has been prepared as a resting place for them. “Truly We have prepared Hell as a welcome for the disbelievers!”

3) The third quality that the non-believers are described with is that they are fools for thinking that their actions in this world will be of any benefit to them in the Hereafter.

Verse 103-104: Say, “Shall We inform you who are the greatest losers in respect to their deeds? Those whose efforts go astray in the life of this world, while they think that they are virtuous in their works.

In this verse, Allah ﷻ is addressing the Prophet ﷺ directly and he’s telling him to pose this question to the non-believers. “Shall We inform you who are the greatest losers in respect to their deeds?” Do you want to know who the greatest and biggest losers are with respect to their deeds? They are the ones who did good deeds and put in effort, but all of it went to waste. Those individuals who were misguided in the life of this world so their actions were guided by their wants, desires, and pleasures. Their actions were misplaced and not guided by faith in Allah. The reason why all of their efforts will go to waste is their disbelief or absence of faith. As Allah says,

Verse 105-106: They are those who disbelieve in the signs of their Lord, and in the meeting with Him. So their deeds have gone to waste, and on the Day of Resurrection, We shall assign them no weight. That is their recompense, the Jahannam, for having disbelieved and for having taken My signs and My messengers in mockery.

The greatest losers with respect to their deeds are those who reject the signs of Allah in this world. Those who refuse to accept the oneness, might, power and magnificence of Allah, those who refuse to believe in life after death and accountability. Their deeds will go to waste and on the Day of Judgment, they won’t have any weight. We know from multiple verses and narrations that our deeds are going to be weighed on the Day of Judgment. And on the Day of Judgment, it’s not about the number of deeds but the quality. That’s why on the Day of Judgment our deeds won’t be counted but they will be weighed. It could be that the weight of one action or deed is more than a thousand other deeds.

Those actions that are devoid of faith and sincerity will have no weight whatsoever. As Allah ﷻ says in Surah Al-Furqān, “And We will regard what they have done of deeds and make them as dust dispersed.” Their recompense is the fire of Jahannam, and that is the ultimate justice and fairness. They get punishment as recompense because of their rejection and disbelief and mockery of Allah’s signs and His messengers. Allah ﷻ then contrasts the punishment of the non-believers with the reward of the believers in Paradise.

Verse 107-108: Those who believe and perform righteous deeds, theirs shall be the Gardens of Paradise as a welcome. Abiding therein forever, they don’t seek any change from it.

Just as Hell is a “welcome” for the non-believers, Paradise is a true “welcome” for the believers. Meaning, those who believe in the existence and oneness of Allah, believe in the Prophet ﷺ and life after death and that faith expresses itself through their actions, their reward will be Gardens of Paradise. Again we see this formula being mentioned, faith + righteous deeds. This is the simple formula to achieve success in this world and the next. Our faith has to be real and practical; it has to translate into action. If we do so then our reward will be Jannah al-Firdaws, which is the highest and most virtuous level of Paradise. The Prophet ﷺ said, “When you ask Allah for Paradise ask Him for Al-Firdaws. It is the highest level of Paradise, the middle of Paradise and the rivers of Paradise flow from it.”

  • إذا سألتم الله الجنة، فاسألوه الفردوس، فإنه أعلى الجنة، و أوسط الجنة، و منها تفجر أنهار الدنة.

In another narration, the Prophet ﷺ said, “In Paradise, there are a hundred levels, what is between every two levels is like what is between the heavens and the earth. Al-Firdaws is its highest level, and from it the four rivers of Paradise are made to flow forth. So when you ask Allah, ask Him for Al-Firdaws.”

  • “‏ فِي الْجَنَّةِ مِائَةُ دَرَجَةٍ مَا بَيْنَ كُلِّ دَرَجَتَيْنِ كَمَا بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالأَرْضِ وَالْفِرْدَوْسُ أَعْلاَهَا دَرَجَةً وَمِنْهَا تُفَجَّرُ أَنْهَارُ الْجَنَّةِ الأَرْبَعَةُ وَمِنْ فَوْقِهَا يَكُونُ الْعَرْشُ فَإِذَا سَأَلْتُمُ اللَّهَ فَسَلُوهُ الْفِرْدَوْسَ ‏”‏ ‏.

They will be in Paradise for all of eternity, enjoying all of its pleasures and not wanting or desiring anything other than it. Allah (swt) then tells us about the extent and vastness of His knowledge. That his knowledge is infinite. This is also a description of the greatness and status of the Qur’ān.

Verse 109: Say, “If the ocean were ink for the words of my Lord, the ocean would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like thereof to replenish it.”

“The words of my Lord” may be a reference to Allah’s infinite knowledge or wisdom or the meanings of the Qur’ān. Meaning that if the oceans were turned into ink and the words of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) were to be written with this ink, then the ink would run out and the words of Allah (swt) would still be left, even if more ink were to be brought. This is an example to make us understand the vastness of Allah’s knowledge, wisdom, and secrets. This example is being given to make us as human beings recognize the infinite nature of Allah’s knowledge as compared to or finite and limited knowledge.

The ocean is the largest and richest creation known to us as human beings. It takes up more than 70% of the surface of the Earth. And we use ink to document and record our knowledge, which we think is vast and amazing. So Allah gives this example of the ocean as ink being used to write and record His words. The entire ocean is used up and then it’s replenished but the words of Allah are still being written. This example is trying to help us comprehend the difference between the infinite and the finite. “And if all the trees on earth were pens, and if the sea and seven more added to it were ink, the words of Allah would not be exhausted. Truly Allah is Mighty, Wise.” This example should allow us to recognize the greatness and magnificence of Allah ﷻ as well as humble us as human beings as well.

We as human beings should never be deceived or fooled by our own intellect and abilities. No matter how much we learn and how advanced we become scientifically and technologically, it’s nothing compared to the infinite knowledge and wisdom of Allah ﷻ. Our knowledge compared to the knowledge of Allah is like a drop of water compared to all the oceans. Allah ﷻ then ends the noble Surah by reminding the Prophet (saw) about humility and us about the path of true salvation.

Verse 110: Say, “I am only a human being like you. It has been revealed to me that your God is one God. So whosoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him perform righteous deeds and make no one a partner with his Lord in worship.

Allah ﷻ is speaking directly to the Prophet ﷺ. He’s telling him to tell his nation, his community, that he is a human being just like them. He’s not an Angel nor is he divine in any way. He eats, drinks, walks, talks and sleeps just like them. The only difference is that he ﷺ receives revelation from above from the Most High. It has been revealed to him that there is only one God, alone without any partners. So whoever believes in the meeting with their Lord, meaning they believe in the last day, resurrection, accountability and judgment. They know that the life of this world is temporary and finite and that the life of the hereafter is eternal and infinite, should “perform righteous deeds and make no one a partner with his Lord in worship.”

Righteous deeds include fulfilling all of our obligations, obeying the commands of Allah and staying away from His prohibitions. It includes all voluntary acts of worship such as praying, fasting, reading Quran, making dua, dhikr and charity. It includes being kind to our parents, spouses, children, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers. It even includes smiling at someone. There are multiple paths of righteousness in Islam.

We’re then reminded to not associate partners with Allah in our worship; to not commit shirk. There are two types of shirk: al-shirk al-akbar and al-shirk al-asghar. Al-Shirk Al-Akbar is associating partners with Allah; it’s an act of disbelief. Al-Shirk Al-Asghar refers to ostentation and showing off or not having sincerity in acts of worship. The Prophet ﷺ referred to ostentation as “the lesser idolatry.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “I do not fear that you will worship the sun, the stars and the moon, but I fear your worshipping other than Allah through ostentation.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “What I fear most for my community is doing things for other than the sake of Allah.” Ibn al-‘Arabi quotes his shaykh, “Let not the hours of your dear life pass away confronting contemporaries and socializing with friends. Watch out! Allah concluded His statement on the following verse…”

Alhamdulillah that brings us to then end of this noble and beautiful Surah. A Surah that has a special and unique status because the Prophet ﷺ encouraged us to recite it specifically on Fridays. Through four stories the Surah focuses on four different types of trials we’re going to face in this world and how to respond to them.

1) The story of the people of the cave represents the trial of faith. And we’re taught that one of the best ways to deal with it is through good company; surrounding ourselves with people of faith and righteousness.

2) The story of the owner of the two gardens is representative of the trial of wealth. And we’re taught the most powerful way to deal with it is by recognizing the reality of the life of this world.

3) The story of Musa (as) with Khidr is representative of the trial of knowledge and the way to deal with it is through seeking knowledge and humility.

4) The last story, the story of Dhul Qarnain is representative of the trial of power. The solution is sincerity and righte

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