Tafseer Surah Ad-Duha

 وَالضُّحَىٰ  ﴿١﴾ وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا سَجَىٰ  ﴿٢﴾ مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ  ﴿٣﴾ وَلَلْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لَّكَ مِنَ الْأُولَىٰ  ﴿٤﴾ وَلَسَوْفَ يُعْطِيكَ رَبُّكَ فَتَرْضَىٰ  ﴿٥﴾ أَلَمْ يَجِدْكَ يَتِيمًا فَآوَىٰ  ﴿٦﴾ وَوَجَدَكَ ضَالًّا فَهَدَىٰ ﴾ ﴿٧ )  ووجَدَدَكَ عَائِلًا فَأَغْنَىٰ  ﴿٨﴾ فَأَمَّا الْيَتِيمَ فَلَا تَقْهَرْ  ﴿٩﴾ وَأَمَّا السَّائِلَ فَلَا تَنْهَرْ   وَأَمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثْ  ﴿١١

(1) By the morning brightness (2) and the night when it is still, (3) your Lord has not abandoned you nor does He hate you. (4) The Latter will be better for you than the Former. (5) Your Lord will soon give to you and you will be satisfied. (6) Did He not find you orphaned and shelter you? (7) Did He not find you wandering and guide you? (8) Did He not find you impoverished and enrich you? (9) So as for orphans, do not oppress them, (10) and as for beggars, do not berate them. (11) And as for the blessing of your Lord, speak out!

(Surah Duhaa)


Introduction

This is a draft translation of Dr Fadhel al Samarrai’s tafseer of Surah Duha.

The background to this chapter is that the revelation had paused for a while in the early period of Muhammad’s ﷺ prophethood in Makkah. This incident was hard on him, and the leaders of Quraysh said that his Lord had abandoned him and hated him ﷺ. As a response to this situation, Allah ﷻrevealed this surah to comfort His Messenger ﷺ and rebuke the polytheists of Makkah.

Before we delve into the explanation of this surah, it’s worth pausing and contemplating as to why the Prophet ﷺ was sad and concerned.

There is no doubt that revelation is a weighty message as mentioned by Allah  ﷻ:

إِنَّا سَنُلْقِي عَلَيْكَ قَوْلًا ثَقِيلًا

Soon we will impose a weighty Message upon you.

(Al-Muzzammil, 73:5)

The meaning of قَوْلًا ثَقِيلًا (literally: heavy word) is a weighty message. It is a responsibility and a burden, and it means difficulty, hardship and facing harm with patience. Despite all this, the Prophet ﷺ was saddened by the interruption of revelation while knowing full well that he ﷺ will encounter hardship and difficulty for the sake of carrying the message of Islam.

This interruption of the revelation was a test for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. Will he ﷺ be eager for this new message for whose sake he ﷺ will have to leave his leisure and encounter difficulties and hardship, or will it be a sigh of relief when his ﷺ Lord relieves him of this vital mission and responsibility? In this is a valuable lesson for those who the carry the message of Islam, that they should be concerned for the call of Islam and be willing and ready to endure harm and hardship for its cause.


وَالضُّحَىٰ وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا سَجَىٰ
 BY THE MORNING BRIGHTNESS AND THE NIGHT WHEN IT IS STILL

The meaning of الضُّحَى and سَجَىٰ and the significance of the oath

The meaning of الضُّحَى is the time after sunrise when the sun rises which is known as the forenoon.

The meaning of سَجَىٰ according to the most well-known opinions is stillness سَكَن. It is understood that the night is not literally still, but people during the night are in a state of stillness, so it was used here metaphorically to describe what is in the night.

It was said that the meaning of سَجَىٰ is intense darkness and concealment غطى. For example, يسجى الرجل بالثوب the man is covered with cloth. Similar to this is the saying:  تسجية الميت shrouding the dead.

It was mentioned in Al-Kashaaf:

سَجَى: to be still, its darkness is still… and it was said: the stillness of the people and the sounds in it; and ‘stillness of the ocean’: its waves are still…

It was mentioned in Tafsir al-Kabir of Imam Al-Razi:

“The people of the language mentioned three converging meanings regarding the meaning of سَجَى: سَكَنَ وَأَظْلَمَ وَغَطَّى  – to be calm, to be dark, to conceal

…سَجَى اللَّيْلُ تَغْطِيَتُهُ النَّهَارَ ، مِثْلَ مَا يُسَجَّى الرَّجُلُ بِالثَّوْبِ – the night was covered, it covers the day like what man covers with a cloth.

Ibn Abbas (ra) said:  إِذَا أَقْبَلَ اللَّيْلُ غَطَّى كُلَّ شَيْءٍ …when night approaches, it covers everything.

It was said:  سَكَنَ بِالنَّاسِ – the silence of the people.

Allah ﷻ took an oath by ‘the forenoon’ and by the ‘night when it is still’, that He ﷻ did not abandon nor hate His Prophet ﷺ as claimed by the disbelievers. Indeed, the oath with these two matters points to something specific. It was said ‘the forenoon’ الضُّحَىٰ represents the light of revelation وحي‎ and it’s rising, and ‘the night when it is still’ represents the interruption of revelation and its calmness. There is no doubt, that the world without the light of prophethood and the rising of revelation will be a dark night that will engulf everything.

Therefore, الضُّحَىٰ which is the light of revelation was brought first (taqdīm), before ‘the night when it is still’ which is the period of interruption of revelation and its calmness.

It was claimed that this oath points to the interruption for relaxing and resting, similar to the one who is tired and relaxes during the night.

Both of these matters are a blessing from Allah ﷻ. The forenoon الضُّحَىٰ and whatever it contains from light and movement is a blessing. The night and whatever it has of stillness and relaxation is also a blessing, in contrast to the blessing of the day.

Indeed, الضُّحَىٰ indicates the Prophet’s ﷺ message and the night indicate the interruption of the revelation. This was mentioned by Imam Al-Razi in his tafsīr:

“It is possible: The meaning of the forenoon is the Prophet’s ﷺ message and the night is the period of withholding the revelation.”

It came in Tibyān fī aqsām al-Qur’ān:

“Contemplate on the agreement of the muqsam bihi (object of the oath), which is the light of the forenoon that provides light after the darkness of the night with the muqsam `alayh (complement of the oath), which is the light of the revelation that arrives after it was withheld. The oath was in response to the saying of his enemies: his Lord has bid farewell to Muhammad, so Allah ﷻ swore an oath by the light of the day after the darkness of the night, meaning the light of revelation and its illumination after the darkness of its retention and concealment. Also, breaking the darkness of the night with the light of the day is like breaking the darkness of ignorance and idolatry with the light of revelation and prophethood. Therefore, these are perceptible to the senses and the mind.”

Allah ﷻ said: إِذَا سَجَىٰ ‘when it is still (or darkens)’ and He did not say إِذَا يَغْشَىٰ ‘when it draws a veil’ or إِذَا يَسْرِ ‘when it departs’ just as He ﷻ mentioned in other places. This is because the meaning of سجى is calmness and motionless and it indicates to the stillness and calmness of the revelation and its pause.  Whereas يغشى and يسر and the like suggests movement, so what is mentioned here is the most appropriate.


مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ
YOUR LORD (O MUHAMMAD ﷺ) HAS NOT ABANDONED YOU NOR DOES HE HATE YOU

 The meaning of the word التَّوْدِيع (farewell)

The verb وَدَّعَ (to bid farewell) is from the verbal noun التَّوْدِيع (farewell). It is used between two friends and companions. For example, the poet’s saying:

ودّعْ هريرة  إنْ الركبَ مرتحلُ، وهلْ تطيقُ وداعاً أيها الرّجلُ؟

Bid farewell to Hurayrah for the caravan is about to set out.  But can you really say goodbye (to her), man? 

It was mentioned in Ruhul-Ma’aanee:

“The word وَدَّعَ is from التَّوْدِيع is originally from the word الدَّعَة (gentleness and affection). It is said to the traveller so that Allah ﷻ protects him from any travelling difficulties and that he reaches his destination gently and easily. It is also used for making a supplication for him to be safe. Then it became known for escorting the traveller and leaving him. Then it was used for leaving in general. …The notion of التَّوْدِيع (farewell) is a figure of speech in relation to leaving, and it has within it gentleness and appreciation which is not hidden. Therefore, الْوَدَاعَ (departure) is only between the loved ones and the one who honours the one leaving him.”

Why was the object of the verb القلى not mentioned?

As for the of the word القلى, it means to hate البغض.

So Allah ﷻ took an oath that He ﷻ did not bid farewell nor abandon our Prophet ﷺ nor did He hate him. Indeed, the object of التَّوْدِيع (farewell) was mentioned and the object (المفعُول بِهِ) of القلى was not mentioned. So Allah ﷻ said: مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ and He ﷻ did not say: مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰك.

There are several reasons for this omission.

  1. Some have claimed that the second object was omitted because it was sufficient to mention the first object linked to bidding farewell وَدَّعَكَ. Therefore, the addressed pronoun was known which is the Prophet ﷺ.
  2. The opening verses necessitated that and the rhyming of the end of the verses requires the omission of the addressed pronoun ك [Al-Khasaaf, Al-Bahr al-Muhit, Al-Tafseer Al Kabeer].
  3. It was also claimed that the omission gives the meaning of absoluteness in the sense that Allahﷻ did not hate you nor did He ﷻ hate anyone of your companions and anyone beloved to you until the day of judgment. [Tafseer Al Kabeer, Roohul-Ma’aanee]
  4. Also, this omission is an indication of honouring the Prophet ﷺ by not directly linking him to the notion of hating.

It was mentioned in Ruhul-Ma’aanee:

“The object was omitted so hatred was not linked to the Prophet ﷺ – even though the speech is negated – to show kindness and sympathy to him ﷺ.”

Therefore, the object was mentioned with وَدَّعَكَ (farewell) to honour him ﷺ, and likewise, the object was omitted with قَلَىٰ (hate) for honouring him ﷺ too.  This style is from the subtlest of places to indicate honour by mentioning (al-zikr) and omitting (al-hazf) words.

Why was Ar-Rabb chosen?

The choice of the word Ar-Rabb annexed to the one addressed (رَبُّكَ) is very appropriate here as it indicates guardianship and care. This is because Ar-Rabb is the caretaker, the guide, the owner and master. If this is the case, then how can Ar-Rabb abandon and hate you while you are His ﷻ servant and He ﷻ is your master and protector who has taken you out of the darkness to the light of the revelation?


وَلَلْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لَّكَ مِنَ الْأُولَىٰ
THE LATTER WILL BE BETTER FOR YOU THAN THE FORMER

What is meant by الْآخِرَة?

It was the said the meaning of الْآخِرَة here is referring to life in the hereafter as opposed to this worldly life. No doubt the life in the hereafter is better than this worldly life since Allahﷻ has promised Muhammed ﷺ all the bounties of the hereafter.

However, a closer look at the usage of the word الْآخِرَة in the Qur’an shows that it is used in the context of this life as well, in the sense of the ‘latter’ as opposed to the ‘former’. For example, Allahﷻ says:

 فَإِذَا جَاءَ وَعْدُ الْآخِرَةِ لِيَسُوءُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَلِيَدْخُلُوا الْمَسْجِدَ كَمَا دَخَلُوهُ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ

 “When the next promised time arrived, it was so that they could injure you and enter the Masjid as they had entered it the first time”

(Al-Israa, 17:7)

No doubt ‘next promise’ وَعْدُ الْآخِرَةِ is in this worldly life.

Also, He ﷻ said:

مَا سَمِعْنَا بِهَـٰذَا فِي الْمِلَّةِ الْآخِرَةِ إِنْ هَـٰذَا إِلَّا اخْتِلَاقٌ

 “We have not heard of this in the old religion. This is merely something contrived.”

(Saad, 38:7)

It came in Anwar al-Tanzil: “The end of your affair will be better than its beginning. Therefore, the Prophet ﷺ will continue rising in rank and perfection.”

It came in Roohul-Ma’aanee: “Ibn Atiya and a group said: Both of them (الْآخِرَة and الْأُولَىٰ) carries the meaning of the end of his ﷺ matter and its beginning. The particle laam in both of them is to make the noun definite or to represent an omitted mudaaf ilayh (الْمُضَافِ إِلَيْهِ) i.e. لَنِهَايَةُ أَمْرِكَ خَيْرٌ مِنْ بِدَايَتِهِ – the end of your matter is better than its beginning. The Prophet ﷺ will continue to increase in strength and rise in rank.”

It’s worth noting that Allahﷻ did not say: وللآخرة خير لك من الدنيا – ‘and the last shall be better for you than the world.’ If this was stated then the intended meaning of الْآخِرَة will be that which is opposite to the life of this world. Instead, He ﷻ said: وَلَلْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لَّكَ مِنَ الْأُولَىٰ ‘and the latter shall be better for you than the former’, in order to include all types of الْآخِرَة whether it is the الْآخِرَة in this world or the life hereafter. For this reason, what is mentioned is more general, and it points to the generosity and the glad tidings of Allah.


 وَلَسَوْفَ يُعْطِيكَ رَبُّكَ فَتَرْضَىٰ
YOUR LORD WILL SOON GIVE TO YOU AND YOU WILL BE SATISFIED

Allahﷻ promised His servant Muhammad ﷺ emphatically that He ﷻ will give him in the future so that he ﷺ will be satisfied.

Why was the second object of the verb أعطى omitted?

The second object of the verb أعطى is omitted. In other words, it did not specify what will be given. This is to create a general and absolute meaning of providing all that is good in this life and the hereafter. Also, it did not specify the time and place of this giving and instead left it general and absolute to include all times and places after the revelation of this verse in this life and the hereafter.  Being satisfied or well-pleased (الرضى) is also left unspecified and undetermined. Therefore, it means being satisfied with all that is given. The verse mentions the giver, which is his Lord, and in this is a great honour. Indeed, the giving is according to the rank of the giver, so no gift is loftier, greater and more generous than the gift of Ar-Rabb.  Annexing Rabb to the addressed pronoun رَبُّكَ is apparent and an honour for the Prophet ﷺ.

Furthermore, in the previous verse وَلَلْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لَّكَ مِنَ الْأُولَىٰ ‘The latter will be better for you than the former,’ the Prophet’s ﷺ future was made better than his past and present, which is appropriate to Allah’s saying:  وَلَسَوْفَ يُعْطِيكَ رَبُّكَ فَتَرْضَىٰ ‘Your Lord will soon give to you and you will be satisfied’. This is why it came with the particle of future سَوْفَ. It, therefore, emphasises that the latter situation is better than the former situation. The word لْآخِرَةُ includes all that the Prophet ﷺ will encounter in the life of this world and the next, so it’s appropriate to bring the particle of future سَوْفَ and not the other particle of future س because the particle س is just part of سَوْفَ while the verse did not mention part of the future, it said all his future. Therefore, it was appropriate to use سَوْفَ as the particle that points to the entire future.

When Allahﷻ said: وَلَلْآخِرَةُ ‘the latter’, He ﷻ emphasised it with the particle laam, and also emphasised the giving with the particle laam:  وَلَسَوْفَ يُعْطِيكَ رَبُّكَ so there is a balance between the two emphases. Indeed, this verse is connected with the previous verses since it was emphasised that the Prophet’s ﷺ latter situation will be better than his former situation because he ﷺ will be given, and then be satisfied.

This verse is connected with Allah’s ﷻ saying مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ ‘your lord has not abandoned you nor does he hate you’, because it is an indication that Allahﷻ did not bid the Prophet ﷺ farewell nor hate him.

It came in Anwar al-Tanzil:

“This is a comprehensive promise of what Allahﷻ gave the Prophet ﷺ of self-perfection, the dominance of the matter and elevation of the religion and whatever He ﷻ has stored for him, and no one knows its essence except Allah”.

It came in Tafseer al-Razi:

“What is the benefit of His ﷻ saying: وَلَسَوْفَ and why did He ﷻ not say:  وَسَيُعْطِيكَ رَبُّك َ?

There are many benefits for this. Firstly, its usage of سَيُعْطِيكَ indicates that his life is coming to an end and he ﷺ will not continue living after this period.”

What is the true meaning of فَتَرْضَىٰ (satisfaction and contentment)?

Indeed, what Allahﷻ has promised in this verse is the loftiest of blessings. This is because satisfaction in life is the foundation of continuity, peace, good health, happiness and peace of mind. So if satisfaction is lost, then worry, sadness and general hardship occurs.

The human being is not in a state of rest and satisfaction except when he is in a general state of happiness from all aspects of life. If one aspect of his life is not satisfactory, then he will be in distress.

Therefore, Allahﷻ made satisfaction general and all-encompassing for His Prophet ﷺ, so He ﷻ said:  فَتَرْضَىٰ by not specifying satisfaction with anything specific, be it wealth or rank or anything else.

The greatness of this blessing is such that Allahﷻ described it with the description of the people of paradise.

يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ ارْجِعِي إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً

‘O self at rest and at peace, return to your Lord, well-pleasing and well-pleased!

(Al-Fajr, 89:27-28)

فَهُوَ فِي عِيشَةٍ رَّاضِيَةٍ

He will have a very pleasant life 

(Al-Haaqqa, 69:21)

أَمَّا مَن ثَقُلَتْ مَوَازِينُهُ فَهُوَ فِي عِيشَةٍ رَّاضِيَةٍ

As for him whose balance is heavy, he will have a most pleasant life.

(Al-Qaari’a, 101:6-7)

Indeed, without complete satisfaction, it will lead to psychological stress, then despair, hopelessness and even suicide.

The one who has complete contentment and satisfaction has peace of mind even if he is experiencing poverty and the opposite is also true. Therefore, being content is a great gift while experiencing the ups and downs of life.


 أَلَمْ يَجِدْكَ يَتِيمًا فَآوَىٰ
DID HE NOT FIND YOU ORPHANED AND SHELTER YOU?

This verse indicates the care of Allahﷻ for his Messenger ﷺ. Allahﷻ gave the Prophet ﷺ refuge after he was an orphan and He ﷻ did not leave him. This is connected to Allah’s saying: مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ ‘your Lord has not abandoned you nor does He hate you.’

Therefore, Allahﷻ did not abandon the Prophet ﷺ, and instead took care of him and gave him refuge. This is also is connected to Allah’s saying: وَلَلْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لَّكَ مِنَ الْأُولَىٰ‘The latter will be better for you than the former’ because refuge is better for him ﷺ than being an orphan. The latter therefore was better for him ﷺ than the former.


وَوَجَدَكَ ضَالًّا فَهَدَىٰ
DID HE NOT FIND YOU WANDERING AND GUIDE YOU?

In other words, you did not guide yourself to the truth, Allahﷻ guided you to it.

It came in Al-Kashaaf:

“Its meaning is being unaware of the knowledge of the sharia…Like His ﷻ saying: ‘You were not aware of what is the Book…So He guided you then He made you know the Qurʾān and the laws.’

This verse is also linked to the response to the oath:

مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ ‘your Lord has not abandoned you nor does He hate you.’

This is because the Prophet ﷺ becoming guided after being unaware means that his Lord did not abandon him nor hate him.

This verse is also linked to Allah’s saying:

وَلَلْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لَّكَ مِنَ الْأُولَىٰ ‘And indeed the latter is better for you than the former.’

This is because Allahﷻ found him unaware and then guided him, so he ﷺ was previously unaware and then later he was guided. Therefore his latter situation was better than his previous situation.


 وَوَجَدَكَ عَائِلًا فَأَغْنَىٰ
DID HE NOT FIND YOU IMPOVERISHED AND ENRICH YOU?

The العائل is the one who is poor. Therefore Allahﷻ enriched the Prophet ﷺ after his poverty.

This verse is linked to the response to the oath:

مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ ‘your Lord has not abandoned you nor does He hate you.’

This is because Allahﷻ did not leave the Prophet ﷺ in poverty, rather He ﷻ enriched him.

This verse is also linked to:

وَلَلْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لَّكَ مِنَ الْأُولَىٰ ‘And indeed the latter is better for you than the former.’

This is because the Prophet’s ﷺ former state was poverty and his latter state was enrichment. Therefore, the latter was better than the former.


The linkage of verses 6,7 and 8 to the previous verses

(6) Did He not find you orphaned and shelter you? 

(7) Did He not find you wandering and guide you? 

(8) Did He not find you impoverished and enrich you?

You will notice that these three verses are all connected to Allah’s saying:

مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ ‘your Lord has not abandoned you nor does He hate you.’

This is because Allahﷻ did not leave the Prophet ﷺ as an orphan but gave him refuge. Allahﷻ did not leave him unaware but gave him guidance, and Allahﷻ did not leave him in poverty but enriched him. Therefore this is a proof that his Lord did not forsake him nor hate him. If this was the case before prophethood, then how can this be the case after it!

They are linked with Allah’s ﷻ saying:

وَلَلْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لَّكَ مِنَ الْأُولَىٰ ‘And indeed the latter is better for you than the former.’

which means in all the three mentioned situations, being an orphan, unaware and in poverty, his situation was better than before.

They are also connected to Allah’s saying:

وَلَسَوْفَ يُعْطِيكَ رَبُّكَ فَتَرْضَىٰ ‘Your Lord will soon give to you and you will be satisfied’

which means Allahﷻ gave the Prophet ﷺ what he learned before prophethood and then after that He ﷻ will give him that which is even greater and better.

Why was Rabb used?

The choice of the word Rabb is the most suitable here for everything that has been mentioned, This is because Rabb in the language is for Al-Maalik (The Owner), Al-Sayeed (The Master), Al-Mudabbir (The Organiser), Al-Murabbi (The Sustainer) and Al-Qayoom (the Self-subsisting by Whom all things subsist) and Al-Muneem (The Bestower of gifts) [Lisanul Arab]. Ar-Rabb is also in the sense of Al-Muslih (the one who put things in order).

The connection to Allah’s saying:

أَلَمْ يَجِدْكَ يَتِيمًا فَآوَىٰ ‘Did He not find you orphaned and shelter you?’

is because the orphan is in need of someone to support him, give him refuge, manage his affairs, sustain him and put his affairs right. These meanings are all from the word Ar-Rabb.

The connection of the three verses to the oath at the beginning of the surah

These verses are connected to the oath at the beginning of the surah:

وَالضُّحَىٰ ‘By the morning brightness’

وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا سَجَىٰ ‘and the night when it is still’

This is because the link to Allah’s saying: أَلَمْ يَجِدْكَ يَتِيمًا فَآوَىٰ ‘Did He not find you orphaned and shelter you?’ is clear, that is to say, the orphan represents the night and darkness, and the refuge represents light and blessing.

Similarly, Allah’s saying:

وَوَجَدَكَ ضَالًّا فَهَدَىٰ ‘Did He not find you wandering and guide you?’

is linked because being unaware is darkness and guidance is light. Indeed, Allahﷻ named being unaware as darkness and being guided as light.

Allahﷻ says,

اللَّـهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يُخْرِجُهُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَوْلِيَاؤُهُمُ الطَّاغُوتُ يُخْرِجُونَهُم مِّنَ النُّورِ إِلَى الظُّلُمَاتِ

Allah is the Protector of those who have iman. He brings them out of the darkness into the light. But those who are kafir have false gods as protectors. They take them from the light into the darkness.

(Al-Baqara, 2:257)

Poverty is night, darkness and destitution, and richness is light and delight. So you see that these verses are connected with the oath and the response to the oath in the most beautiful way.

Why was the object of the three verbs فَآوَىٰ  فَهَدَىٰ  فَأَغْنَى omitted?

The objects of the three verbs فَآوَىٰ  فَهَدَىٰ  فَأَغْنَىٰ have been omitted. So Allahﷻ says: فَآوَىٰ  فَهَدَىٰ  فَأَغْنَىٰ whereas originally it was فآواك وهداك وأعناك. It was claimed the object was omitted because what is intended is apparent i.e. the Prophet ﷺ is being addressed (object of the verb). In order to maintain the rhyming verse endings require the omission since the verses in the beginning end with an alif.

It was also argued that the omission of the object is to indicate the abundance of generosity, and what is meant is: وَآوَى لَكَ وَبِكَ وَهَدَاكَ وَلَكَ وَبِكَ وَأَغْنَاكَ وَلَكَ وَبِكَ

What is apparent is that the reason for the omission is for all the above reasons. If it was said: أَلَمْ يَجِدْكَ يَتِيمًا فَآوَىٰك then the giving of refuge would have been restricted to the Prophet ﷺ. Therefore the omission of the object creates absoluteness to indicate that Allahﷻ gave him ﷺ refuge, but He ﷻ gave refuge because of him ﷺ to many people. The reason for this that many of the orphans and the needy are honoured and given refuge because of the teachings, guidance and directives of the Prophet ﷺ. Therefore he ﷺ was cause for their refuge and honour because those who are well-off are motivated by their love of the Prophet ﷺ and to be close to him ﷺ in paradise, so gave refuge and honour to the orphans.

أَنَا وَكَافِلُ الْيَتِيمِ فِي الْجَنَّةِ كَهَاتَيْنِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ وَأَشَارَ بِأُصْبُعَيْهِ يَعْنِي السَّبَّابَةَ وَالْوُسْطَى

Sahl bin Sa’d narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “I and the sponsor of an orphan shall be in Paradise like these two.” And he indicated with his fingers, meaning his index and his middle finger [Jami` at-Tirmidhi].

It was also said that touching the head of the orphan removes hardness in the hearts.

Therefore, Allahﷻ gave the Prophet ﷺ refuge, and He ﷻ gave refuge because of the teachings of the Prophet ﷺ and for his sake.

After the Prophet ﷺ was given these three blessings, given refuge, guidance and enrichment), he ﷺ was commanded with these three matters so as to contrast it with what he ﷺ was given.


 فَأَمَّا الْيَتِيمَ فَلَا تَقْهَرْ
SO AS FOR ORPHANS, DO NOT OPPRESS THEM

The meaning of الْقَهْرُ is domination causing harm. The meaning is: do not oppress someone by wasting his wealth (Al-Bahr al-Muhit) or overpowering his wealth and rights to weaken him [Al-Kassaf]. It was also said, don’t oppress him, you were once an orphan.


 وَأَمَّا السَّائِلَ فَلَا تَنْهَرْ
AND AS FOR BEGGARS, DO NOT BERATE THEM

Many of the commentators took the meaning of سائل as the well-known meaning of the one who begs for charity. It was also said that the سائل here is the seeker of knowledge and religion not the seeker of money [Al-Bahr al-Muhit]. The reality is that this verse deals with both types [At-Tibiyan fi Aqsami Al Quran]. So the verse includes the well-known beggar and the seeker of knowledge and religion.

The meaning of this verse is don’t repel someone nor reprimand them by being rough with them, but instead give them something and reply to them with a good reply. [Al-Bahr al-Muhit] It was said: do not be oppressive, arrogant, wicked, or mean to the weak among Allah’s servants. [Ibn Kathir]

Therefore, he ﷺ is prohibited from reprimanding the seeker whoever he is. Therefore Allahﷻ commanded the Prophet ﷺ to be good with the orphans, poor and the seekers of knowledge. [At-Tibiyan fi Aqsami Al Quran]


وَأَمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثْ
AND AS FOR THE BLESSING OF YOUR LORD, SPEAK OUT!

The commentators gave various meanings to this verse. It was said that what is intended is the blessing of prophethood conveyance (tableegh) and to proclaim it. [Anwar Al Tanzil].

It is the Qurʾān and to proclaim, transmit and teach it [Fath al-Qadir]

It was said that it is generally to do with all good that happens, so tell your brothers in order that they may be guided by you, as long it does not contain showing off or fear of fitnah for yourself. [Roohu-l-Ma’aanee]

The meaning of blessing here is general whether it is from worldly blessings or religious blessings.  There is no doubt that the Qurʾān and Prophethood is the greatest of blessings as per His ﷻ saying:

الْيَوْمَ يَئِسَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن دِينِكُمْ فَلَا تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِ ۚ الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا ۚ

Today the kuffar have despaired of overcoming your deen. So do not be afraid of them but be afraid of Me. Today I have perfected your deen for you and completed My blessing upon you and I am pleased with Islam as a deen for you. (Al-Maaida, 5:3)

The meaning of فَحَدِّثْ is to convey to them, but the blessing is not restricted to just conveying the Quran and the Prophethood. In fact, the blessing is general and conveying it means being grateful and spreading it. [Fath al-Qadir] Therefore, when you convey the blessing you are then being grateful to the one who gave it.

It came in Fath al-Qadir:

“He ﷻ commanded the Prophet to convey the blessings of Allah, make it apparent to the people, and make it widespread among them. It is apparent that the blessings are general and not for a specific person or one of its types.”

It came in Al-Tibiyan fil Aqsaam al Quran:

“The reality is that the blessing is general, so He commanded that he should not repel the beggar or seeker of knowledge and that he should convey the worldly and religious blessings of Allahﷻ upon him.”

Why did Allahﷻ say فَحَدِّثْ and not فَخَبِّر ْ?

Allahﷻ said فَحَدِّثْ  and did not say: فَخَبِّرْ  in order for the conveyance to be repeated and disseminated. The meaning of فَحَدِّثْ  is something which is repeated and disseminated unlike فَخَبِّرْ which is to inform once.

It came in Tafseer Al-Razi: “the choice of فَحَدِّثْ  over فَخَبِّرْ  is because فَحَدِّثْ means no matter should be forgotten and the matter is to be repeated.”


The Sequence of verses in the Surah

There has been a discussion about the sequence of these verses. It has been claimed that the order of the verses is unusual. In other words, the verses do not connect to the previous verses, so they don’t compare and contrast with the blessings of Allahﷻ upon the Prophet ﷺ.

These two verses correspond:

أَلَمْ يَجِدْكَ يَتِيمًا فَآوَىٰ ‘Did He not find you orphaned and shelter you?’

فَأَمَّا الْيَتِيمَ فَلَا تَقْهَرْ ‘So as for orphans, do not oppress them’

However the verse, وَوَجَدَكَ ضَالًّا فَهَدَىٰ ‘Did He not find you wandering and guide you?’ corresponds with, وَأَمَّا السَّائِلَ فَلَا تَنْهَرْ ‘and as for beggars, do not berate them’. Whereas it may be assumed that the verse should instead correspond with, وَأَمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثْ ‘And as for the blessing of your Lord, speak out!’ 

Similarly, وَأَمَّا السَّائِلَ فَلَا تَنْهَرْ ‘and as for beggars, do not berate them’ should correspond with, فَأَمَّا الْيَتِيمَ فَلَا تَقْهَرْ ‘So as for orphans, do not oppress them’. So you see at first glance the order does not naturally flow.

It was claimed this apparent lack of order is for a specific reason. It came in Roohu-l-Ma’aanee:

“His ﷻ saying: وَأَمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ ‘And as for the blessing…’ is corresponding to His ﷻ saying: وَوَجَدَكَ ضَالا فَهَدَى ‘Did He not find you wandering and guide you?’ because it is general and includes the Prophet’s ﷺ guidance after being unaware of the teachings of the laws and other favours. But it does not flow to bring the rights of the servants over the rights of Allahﷻ because He ﷻ is free of need from the worlds.

It has been said it is for the purpose of abstention before adornment, or for ascending or observing the endings and for all this there are considerations. Al-Tibbi said: It is apparent that what is meant by the ‘seeker سَّائِلِ’ is the seeker of knowledge and the beggar, and based upon that there is no need for explanation of the order (of the verses), so it is said: Indeed, He ﷻ mentioned the Prophet’s ﷺ condition based upon that which agrees with the sequence of the external reality, because his ﷺ  guidance is intended  and that agrees generally with the true reality during his childhood. Therefore, the Prophet ﷺ was given success in that, and because of this he ﷺ did not worship an idol. The Prophet’s ﷺ enrichment was intended to enrich him after the mission. Then Allahﷻ separated based on this arrangement.

Therefore Allahﷻ made non-repulsion of the orphan contrasting to His ﷻ giving refuge to the Prophet ﷺ when he ﷺ was an orphan, and the non-repulsion of the seeker of knowledge and the educated contrasting to His ﷻ giving guidance to the Prophet ﷺ, and the mentioning of favouring the Prophet ﷺ in contrast to being rich, although the blessing is general for him and others. He ﷻ preferred فَحَدِّثْ over «فَخَبِّرْ », and it was said: so that the Prophet ﷺ mentions the blessing frequently so that he ﷺ does not forget it and he ﷺ makes it happen moment after moment, and Allah ﷻ knows best.”

It came in Al-Bahr al-Muhit:

“It appears that after mentioning the three mentioned favours upon him ﷺ, Allahﷻ commanded him with three matters. So Allahﷻ mentioned the orphan first which is the beginning, then He ﷻ mentioned the seeker second and that is destitute, and then the most honourable of the favours, the guidance, so it ascended from these two the noblest and Allahﷻ made it a section of the sura, that was only placed in the middle because after being an orphan is the time of legal responsibility [takleef].”

The truth is that the arrangement (tarteeb) is ideal and it is required by position and context. This is because Allahﷻ mentioned first the orphan and the prohibition of oppression and humiliating him and this directs towards His ﷻ saying: أَمَّا الْيَتِيمَ فَلَا تَقْهَرْ ‘So as for orphans, do not oppress them’ and this is a natural arrangement which we have mentioned.

Then Allahﷻ mentioned: وَأَمَّا السَّائِلَ فَلَا تَنْهَرْ ‘and as for beggars, do not berate them’, and this, as we mentioned, includes the seekers of knowledge and the seeker of money, so it is directed towards Allah’s saying: وَوَجَدَكَ ضَالًّا فَهَدَىٰ ‘Did He not find you wandering and guide you?’. This is because the seekers of knowledge of the deen are seek knowledge so it required that they are not repulsed. It is also directed to His ﷻ saying: ووجَدَدَكَ عَائِلًا فَأَغْنَىٰ ‘Did He not find you impoverished and enrich you?’ when the seeker is from those who are seeking money because the عَائِل (poor) may ask people so it is required not repel him.

Therefore, the verse وَأَمَّا السَّائِلَ فَلَا تَنْهَرْ ‘and as for beggars, do not berate them’, corresponds to both:

وَوَجَدَكَ ضَالًّا فَهَدَىٰ ‘Did He not find you wandering and guide you?’ 

ووجَدَدَكَ عَائِلًا فَأَغْنَىٰ ‘Did He not find you impoverished and enrich you?’

It came in Al-Bahr al-Muhit:

“As for the seeker it is apparent that it is the beggar, so don’t oppress i.e. rebuke him, but give him and reply to him with a good reply. Qatada said: don’t be harsh with him, and this is corresponding to  وَوَجَدَكَ عَائِلًا فَأَغْنَى  ‘Did He not find you impoverished and enrich you?’ So the السَّائِل as we have said is the beggar, Al-Farra and a group said this. It was said: السَّائِل here is the seeker of knowledge and religion and not the seeker of wealth so it is directed towards: وَوَجَدَكَ ضَالًّا فَهَدَى ‘Did He not find you wandering and guide you?’

Then Allah’s saying: وَأَمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثْ ‘And as for the blessing of your Lord, speak out!’ was mentioned this is the most suitable arrangement, because the blessing as we mentioned is general which includes all that Allahﷻ has bestowed upon the Prophet ﷺ from this world and the hereafter.

Therefore, if the purpose of the blessing is from what is mentioned in Allah’s saying: أَلَمْ يَجِدْكَ يَتِيمًا فَآوَىٰ  etc… then mentioning them will be after their occurrence so it was delayed for that reason. If it was the blessing of the deen and conveyance then it is also the most appropriate place for it, because the caller before proclaiming needs to adorn himself with good character and attributes otherwise he will be rough and arrogant, instead of being soft and gentle. He mustn’t be unjust to the orphan and repel the seeker otherwise his speech will be rejected and there will be obstacles between him and the people accepting him. Allahﷻ says,

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَ تَقُولُونَ مَا لَا تَفْعَلُونَ كَبُرَ مَقْتًا عِندَ اللَّـهِ أَن تَقُولُوا مَا لَا تَفْعَلُونَ 

You who have iman! why do you say what you do not do? It is deeply abhorrent to Allah that you should say what you do not do.

(As-Saff, 61:2-3)

And He ﷻ said:

وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ

If you had been rough or hard of heart, they would have dispersed from around you

(Aaal-i-Imran, 3:159)

So the call to Allahﷻ is after being adorned with sound character and not before it, and it is directed to all callers (dawah carriers) in general.  Therefore, the conveying will happen after it also.

Indeed, the placement of Allah’s saying: وَأَمَّا السَّائِلَ فَلَا تَنْهَرْ ‘and as for beggars, do not berate them’ before conveying the blessing is beautiful from another angle. The caller to Allahﷻ, who conveys His ﷻ deen, and all the callers, will encounter questions and clarifications, and he will be the target of different types of questioners from differing backgrounds and with differing intentions. So it is a duty upon him not to oppress nor be harsh with them otherwise he will weaken in his purpose. So the arrangement of these verses based upon what was mentioned is the ideal arrangement and the most appropriate.