Tafseer Surah Al- Mutaffifeen
This surah begins with a profound declaration against a certain type of criminal. The word mutaffifeen comes from tafafa and a doer of tafafa is a mutaffif, a person who when in business will try to get a little more than they deserve when purchasing something and give a little less than they should when selling something. This is done in both tangible and intangible things. For example, in services you might owe someone five hours at work, but you want to get away early and give two minutes less as you think no one will notice – two minutes is not a big deal. Or you have to give someone one kilogram of rice but you put a few grams less on the scales. This is the mutaffif who gets away with so little that the person that gets swindled can’t even come back and complain that he never got the exact right amount, as it will seem petty. So it’s not about taking huge amounts unjustly, but about taking little amounts unjustly and unfairly.
This connects to the previous surah where we were told that deen is the exact portion we are due on the Day of Judgment. In the tafseer of this surah, deen may also refer to the portion which the mutaffif denies and declines to give in his worldly affairs. We also learn that Allah (swt) created us in a balanced state and this also means that He (swt) has programmed us with a sense of balance. The person who cheats others in business understands balance, as he himself would not want to be cheated or have his relatives suffer from a cheat but when it comes to their customer they give less than they deserve. So deep down the mutaffif has a sense of balance which is why he feels entitled to fair dealings from others. This shows that humans are created with an inclination towards balance and anyone who in his trade does not show balance is therefore, a Mutaffif.
It is argued that the beginning verses of this surah refers to the Muslims in Medina, however, the majority say it is a Makkan surah and this is the stronger opinion. This is due to the fact that the narrations proposing the former opinion are not strong and also because these verses are talking about the worst kind of fujjaar (criminals) and the people of Medina were not thus. Furthermore the people of Medina dealt in agriculture more than business whereas the people of Makkah were primarily engaged in business and trading.
Wayl is an Arabic word for cursing someone, an ugly word where one wishes harm and destruction upon someone such as an illness. It’s also a word used for someone who has been ruined and is at a loss for words and does not know what else to say except ‘ya waylanaa!’ meaning ‘destruction (has fallen on us)’. Here ultimate and horrible destruction is for those who engage in this crime of giving less than you should and taking more than you should. In an authentic hadith (Bukhari – Chapter of Punishments) Allah’s Messenger explains this further where we learn that these people do not carry out this crime except that two things happen to them, they are seized by means of a drought and their crops stop growing meaning that the nation starts experiencing catastrophic natural events. Some of the ulema comment that by having a ‘tanween’ on the word wayl in Arabic language, rendering it waylun, has a purpose of horrifying people and of magnifying the message that this is not a small destruction.
Iktaala means to receive a product from someone based on its weight i.e. to receive weight from someone. In Arabic when you say iktaala the norm is to say iktaala min and not iktaala ‘alaa i.e. he received weight from this person not against this person as used in this verse. This has a rhetorical function. In normal circumstances when purchasing a weighed product you will pay on the basis of the weight but the construction of this verse indicates that the purchaser is bullying and pressurizing the seller into giving him more than he deserves even though the product was weighed correctly. Thus, min is not used, as this is an abnormal transaction.
This is common even in today’s time where we don’t necessarily buy many things by weight but we still might apply pressure to get something extra out of a seller by threatening to take our custom elsewhere or asking to speak to the manager. Sometimes it is necessary, but at others times you know deep down in your conscience when you are being a mutaffif (by being unfair). The word yutawafawna means they are in fact given in full whatever they wanted but yastawfoon means that they tried to get the fullest amount they could with an attitude of wanting more, more, more! This verse is not about the businessperson but in fact the customer who tries to get more than he deserves.
The word akhsara is to make someone else lose out and to give less than he deserves even if its by just a single percentage. Normally in Arabic we would find ‘wa idha kaloo la-hum’ which means if they weighed for their customer. The missing la indicates that this transaction is not natural and has a rhetorical function in the language of indicating that just like the la is missing, the full product is also missing. Allah (swt) is not just talking about the businessperson or the shrewd person who gets his way but also seeks to determine what is behind this person’s character, the root cause that enables him to act this way without flinching. The following verse lets us know how someone can behave in this way. Ordinarily when people act in this way deep down they can feel uncomfortable. For example, if you feel uncomfortable haggling you bring someone else in to help you haggle as you cannot do it yourself, as you don’t have that kind of personality.
By using the word ulaa’ika Allah (swt) has distance himself from these people and talks about them as ‘those’ people. The first time these people cheat in business they are slightly nervous, for example an accountant filing dubious papers for the first time. The second time they are slightly less nervous until over time they become experts at cheating and avoiding capture. Not only do they know what to do, they can also teach others how to beat the system. They become confident and proud and this confidence stems from that fact that they believe they can never be caught due to their expert knowledge in how to beat the system. In fact many criminals only get caught once they have reached the point that they feel they are above the law and get a little careless. Not even the assumption (dhan) that these people may get raised up and accounted for these crimes crosses their mind.
The word ba’atha is a portion of the word we learnt in the previous surah (bu’thirat is made up of ba’atha and athaara together) and so a portion of the word used in the previous surah is used here to illustrate that not even a little of the thought that they might have to account for their deeds occurs to them and they have completely blocked their mind from it.
5) On a great day
The word adheem commonly gets translated as great and comes from the Arabic word adhm whose plural is idhaam. Adhm is a bone and is called thus because a bone is tough, strong and difficult to break. If someone hits you the pain is greater if part of the bone hits you such as the knuckle and not the fleshy part. So adheem which comes from this, is not just great but is also something tough and coming into contact with it will cause you pain. So these people do not realise that this tough intense day is coming against them.
6) The Day when (all) mankind will stand before the Lord of all the worlds?
In the previous surah, Allah (swt) tells us about this great day when the sky is ripped open, the stars are falling and the oceans are set on fire. Yet despite hearing this, it still does not cross their minds yet alone make them stop their evil ways. As we continue through this surah we will see why nothing registers in their mind and why this powerful message has no effect on them. In the previous surah we learnt that every person will eventually know what he or she put forward and what they left behind in this life and here we have another depiction of that same scene. The day on which mankind will stand before the Lord of Aalameen i.e. the lord of all of the worlds. Aalameen means the creatures of intellect including all of the nations and peoples, including the criminals, the cheaters and their customers. All will be standing together.
7) No indeed! The record of the transgressors is in Sijjīn
One of the flaws in human beings is that when they sin they block the idea of the consequence of it from their mind but just because they have blocked that thought it does not mean they are not in danger. Allah (swt) negates this assumption and says that this assumption is not enough to save them regardless of how safe they feel and silences their thoughts and false wishes for no Judgment. Allah (swt) asserts that even if you do not believe and are in denial – kallaa, no doubt – you will face this Day.
The documentation of our deeds by noble angels was highlighted in the previous surah. In today’s age when data is entered in emails, contracts or computer systems it needs to be entered by reliable people as if there are mistakes there will be problems. Angels record our deeds and hence there is no possibility of mistake. However, although data may have been entered reliably it still needs to be saved, for example, backup servers, the register that holds all your customer details, a photo album saved on your hard disk. The consequences of losing any of this data can be quite devastating. The previous surah discussed the recording of our deeds and this surah tells us how this information is saved and archived. If the archive is not saved then there is no point in having reliable data entry.
Dawn is called Fajr because the morning light tears through the darkness and a Faajir is someone who is extremely rebellious and tears through the sanctities of Allah’s boundaries without fear of consequence. Allah (swt) informs us that this rebellion and violation have been written and documented in Kitaab al Fujjaar which is like a register. The ulema have commented that this is like dungeons or prisons underground where there was an office with a roster. This roster had information of which prisoner was incarcerated, what punishment they were to receive, how long they would have to stay there, what cell they would stay in etc. This roster was kept right outside prison so that only the guards had access to it so that if prisoners called out and said that their time is up the guards could check the roster. This is how some of the Salaf (early Muslim predecessors) commented on this verse. They said that the records of the evildoers are deep in the Earth where the souls of the criminals are kept. Allah (swt) knows best if this is correct.
This record lists what these criminals (fujjaar) have done in full detail. When the sinful soul leaves this earth it goes to his record and sees all the crimes it has committed. This record is kept in sijjeen which means a horrible prison and comes from the word sijn which means prison. Thus, this record which records every single deed committed by the criminal and which does not leave out anything whether big or small – neither the few minutes early you left work nor the few extra grams of produce you took and which records the punishment that should be received is sent to prison and stored.
Would that you knew what Sijjīn is!
In the previous surah, Allah (swt) asked what would make man know what the day of judgement is, the day on which everyone gets his portion. Someone with at least some sense of justice would be shaken by these words. Yet, if standing this trial does not scare the worst criminals then the prison itself would scare them. Allah (swt) asks whether they have any idea what this prison is?
9) A record imprinted
Marqoom means to write something in thick clear writing and to imprint it so that it cannot be erased. This word is also used to describe stitching embroidery onto clothes, as it is not something that you can easily remove or erase afterwards. Thus, marqoom implies that not only will this data be recorded accurately it is protected and cannot be erased. A person may feel content in thinking that no one had seen his sin or crime but that does not take away from the fact that it has been documented and sent forward.
10) Destruction that day to those who deny
Ultimate destruction on that day will be especially for those who lied against. But Allah (swt) does not tell us what was denied and lied against by completing the sentence by putting an object in the verse.
11) Who deny the Day of Judgement
Verses ten to twelve in this surah all mention the word kadhib in different forms (mukadhibeen, yukadhibeen, yukadhibu). Thus, we can observe that the root cause of cheating in business is lying. Denying the day of judgement ultimately enables them to dismiss the notion that they will be accounted for their misdemeanors and encourages them to continue sinning. We’re constantly reminded, over and over, of things like the day of judgement, the hereafter and taqwa in the Quran as Allah (swt) mentions and repeats those concepts that people deny the most and neglect to imprint in their hearts and minds. So, Allah (swt) says that ultimate destruction will be for those who lie against the day of judgement and the due portion being given.
12) And none denies it except the sinner beyond limits, the continual sinner
A further explanation is given here. There is no one in existence that would deny this except a certain type of person and two adjectives have been given to describe the person unable to register this momentous reality. The word mu’tadin comes from i’tada which means to violate someone’s rights. The mu’tad is therefore the one who crosses limits and wrongs people over and over until it becomes second nature to him and to the extent that he is proud of this. This is how tyrants are created on this earth, whether they rule countries, a business or their household. The word atheem comes from ithm which is commonly translated as sin but the Quran has many words for sin and so it’s important to elaborate on the exact meaning. Ithm is a kind of attitude and behaviour which prevents you from doing good. So, on the one hand the mu’tad is a person doing bad things and then atheem keeps him from doing good things. You get some people who do bad things but then still do some good but not this type of person who is the worst of the worst, who denies the day of judgement and laugh at the words of the Quran.
The people of language say that ithm is primarily an issue of the heart and in this case the heart is not at all inclined to doing good and this person actually feels uncomfortable in doing good deeds. It’s narrated in a hadith that Muhammad (pbuh) said ‘Goodness is what will satisfy/relax your self (nafs), and ithm is what will eat away at your chest (your heart)’. If you persist in the characteristics of Ithm, you will become atheem and get stuck in this state. Every chance this person gets to do evil and violate someone’s right he does and every chance he gets to do good he pushes away. This is the worst case example of ‘ma qadamat wa akhkharat’ – what he has left behind and put forward, as everything he has done and has to put forward is evil.
The Quran is talking about the fujjaar here, the worst sinners, yet, even though these verses were revealed centuries ago they are still relevant in our society and we can identify with them and the cheating being described. The word talwan means to follow someone, right behind them like tail gating. It also means to read and the plural tutlaa would mean to read to them many times. So, the verses literally follow them and are read onto them over and over. The word asaateer comes from the word satr which means lines. In the olden days you would have popular myths and fables which would get written down and passed on through generations creating a legend even though people knew them not to be real and just stories. The sinners would be condescending to the verses of the Quran and dismiss them as stories and try to make the speaker feel ridiculous making him a faajir. This applies to people today just as much as it did then.
14) No doubt about it! Their deeds have placed a layer of rust over their hearts
Allah (swt) informs us that their heart is covered with raan, a rust imprint that covers their hearts. The heart becomes black through committing sin after sin. An authentic hadith narrates that the messenger (pbuh) when asked about this verse said that this person does a sin and their heart as a result gets a spot or blemish on it. If he repents it is literally polished off according to the wording of the hadith. But if he continues on this path, spots are added sin after sin until the heart becomes black with filth and rust. Allah (swt) explains that whatever they used to earn is what made the rust appear on their hearts and they earned nothing but minute indiscernible profit, be it an extra gram or leaving work a minute early. That is all it takes for a blemish to appear on the heart. In the previous surah Allah (swt) asked what it was that deluded man into being careless towards his master. This question is answered in this surah where we learn that it is man’s stiff heart that led him away from his gracious master.
The word hijab literally means a barrier that comes between you and something you want to see thus removing it from your sight. So, Allah (swt) says that they will be permanently barricaded from seeing their master that day. This implies that there will be something else that they will be looking at and will not be able to stop looking at. In the previous surah in verse sixteen we learn that they will not even be able to steal a glimpse or blink away from the hellfire. Here, we see a contrast to the previous surah in that they will be staring at the hellfire but will not be able to get even a glimpse of their master. It is commented that this verse is a proof that the believers will in fact see their master. When the sinners are blocked off from seeing Allah (swt), He will show his full glory to the believers. This ayah is both a punishment to the disbelievers, and a blessing to the believers.
16) Then indeed, they shall enter the hellfire
Allah (swt) has mentioned many crimes but the worst punishment, which was the sealing of the heart, came after the disbelievers had poked fun at His (swt) verses. This arrogance resulted in their hearts becoming rusty, in them being unable to see their Master and will eventually lead to them throwing themselves into the hellfire. In the previous surah in verse fifteen a verb was used to describe the disbelievers casting themselves into the hellfire. In this verse we have the noun form in saaloo which carries a stronger and heavier emphasis than the verbal instance.
17) Then it will be said (to them), ‘This is what you used to deny’
By using the passive form in this verse the speaker is not mentioned and it will be said to them. In the previous verse Allah (swt) barricaded himself from the disbelievers and in this verse He has barricaded his voice from them and does not talk to them directly. In the previous surah there was a scene of the dunya in which we find the disbeliever lying against the deen and being urged to change his ways and that there was still hope. This surah is more serious and a depiction of the hereafter where there will be no hope for man and they will be told that this is the very thing they labeled as fairytales and mythology and laugh at.
18) No doubt about it! The record of the righteous is (preserved) in ‘Illiyyeen
The ‘kallaa’ is a strong response to the disbelievers who poke fun at the Muslims when they discuss the awesome events that will take place. With this verse Allah (swt) switches from discussing the disbelievers to the believers. Note that the word abraar which is a smaller plural is used, as the righteous will be fewer in number on that day compared to the wicked. The previous surah described that the righteous will be in constant bliss implying that wherever they look they will see something that makes them happy and amazed. In this surah we are given more detail about the righteous whose record is going to be in Illiyeen and this has been interpreted in a number of ways.
The word illiyeen comes from ‘uluw which means height. The implication is that this book will be in the company of the highest, the angels, and we know that the higher the angels are, the greater in nobility they are and the more responsibility they have. The high group of angels referred to here are responsible for guarding the book of the righteous. Additionally, it is commented that this place is an honoured place found in the highest part of Jannah as well as referring to the high positioned angels.
The soul of the believer according to a number of mufassiroon is taken up through multiple heavens until it reaches underneath the throne (‘arsh) of Allah (swt) and there underneath the ‘arsh is the Illiyeen where the record is kept. This record will state that for the likes of the martyrs there will be a guarantee of paradise and no punishment and then they are brought back (i.e. in the grave etc.). Thus, they will get a sneak preview of their record before the day of judgement and get a guarantee that they will be saved. This is for the likes of the Shuhadaa’ (those killed in Allah’s way) and this explanation is in regard to the Muqaraboon (those really close to Allah in goodness).
Would that you knew what `Illiyūn is!
Adra/yudri means to look around to find a clue to figure something out and Allah (swt) asks here what can you find around you that can possibly help you imagine and visualise what ‘illiyun is. There is nothing around us that will give us any idea what this lofty place is and how secure that record is.
Allah (swt) informs us that the closest to him, i.e. the angels, are a witness to this book. These books are under their surveillance and they are a witness that these are the deeds of the righteous. They are guarding it as it contains within them the guarantee and security of safe passage for these people into paradise and that they will not be people of hellfire. The soul of the righteous ascend the heavens to where the angels have the book of the righteous under surveillance and sees his portion of it which guarantees him paradise and then he returns. On the day of Judgement this person is at peace as he has witnessed his record secure in the knowledge that many angels close to Allah (swt) have born witness to this persons closeness and righteousness.
This is an exact repetition of a verse that came in Surah Infitaar but it was a counter argument to ‘wa inna al fujjaara la fee jaheem’ – the sinners will be in the hellfire. In the beginning of this surah in verse seven we found that the record of the criminal is in sijjeen but Allah (swt) did not elaborate on this although we get a lot more detail on the righteous in paradise. There are two rhetorical reasons for this. The first reason is that we did not learn much of the bliss of the people in paradise in the previous surah and so more detail is due and given here. Secondly, if Allah (swt) mentions that the records of the sinners will be in a horrible prison, no additional detail is required as it is obvious where they will end up. Thus, Allah (swt) ignores them and gives the righteous more attention by moving onto describing the bliss of the righteous in paradise. Something to note in this surah is that it gives us only a few examples of the comfort of paradise which should remind us of the bigger picture. Similarly, the criminals do a lot wrong but only their fraud was highlighted here but it gives us an idea of the larger picture of the mindset of these people. So, Allah (swt) now moves on to give a few glimpses of Paradise.
23) (Reclining) on thrones/couches they will command a sight (of all things)
(Reclining) on thrones/couches, they will look around them (at all things)
The word aareeka is singular of araa’ik which is a chair, throne or couch that is full of cushions so that you can recline on it and relax. The word yandhuroon means that they will be looking around. Some ulema have commented that when you sit down and relax you can’t look around very much as your vision is restricted, for example, if you are reclining on a plane and want to look out of the window you will typically have to re-adjust yourself and move out of your comfort zone to do so. Similarly, it can take us a while to adjust a car seat and mirrors to maximise our comfort and visibility. Thus, Allah (swt) is saying that the righteous will be comfortably reclined but still have the best possible view and wherever they look they will see bliss. Also, when we look at something our vision is usually restricted to one thing yet in paradise the believers will be able to see all around.
The word naddrah is used to describe the lighting up of one’s face to the extent that you can see the freshness and joy on it. It is also used in Arabic for vegetables that are ripe and fresh but in the Quran it is used for faces. So the faces of these people that are sitting on couches in paradise are lit with joy and happiness at being there and it’s the blissful things they see wherever they look that lights their faces up.
25) They will be given to drink pure sealed wine
The word yusqawna means that the believers will be given to drink and will not have to get up themselves to have a drink. Allah (swt) has set the scene with the successful ones reclining and relaxing on their seats and being given drinks. It is commented that raheeq is the purest possible wine or drink, which is not contaminated by age or impurities, is crystal clear with great texture and colour, a beautiful smell and it never makes you drunk (no matter how much you drink).
The word makhtoom from khatm means sealed and tight and thus this drink has been filled to the brim and then sealed waiting for the righteous to open and drink from them. Also, appreciate that Allah’s Messenger is called the Khatim an-Nabiyyeen -Seal of the Prophets because all the Prophets before him have fulfilled their duties and Muhammad (pbuh) with his message has finally sealed and closed the seal to Prophethood.
It is important to appreciate the context in which these verses were revealed. The Muslims were weak, the object of ridicule and in a minority in Mecca yet regardless they were warning the big businesses and moguls of the day of the evil they were engaged in and that it will lead them to hell. The companions of Allah’s Messenger would memorize these aayaat and convey them to these cheating criminals. These criminals in turn would insult the believers and laugh at them questioning and ridiculing their status and asking how they dare to lecture them on right and wrong, questioning how someone like Bilal or a foreigner like Suhayb ar-Rumi could dare to challenge them. The believers were considered akin to the homeless people we see in today’s society, who annoy us when they try to talk to us and we hurry away from them and this is the attitude the disbelievers had to the believers. Thus, the believer, his guidance and his messenger are constantly being insulted. It is in this context that Allah (swt) reveals these verses and gives them some encouragement enabling them to visualise the pleasure they will be in. He (swt) tells them that their record is in the Illiyyoon -an amazing record of good deeds, that they will be relaxing on couches looking at all the wonders surrounding them. On top of this they will have special drinks in sealed bottles waiting for just them. Compare this to the disbelievers at that time that would drink from wells and did not get served. Only kings would get served and even then they had limited drinks which were not pure and were intoxicating.
Even the seal on the believers drink has a beautiful scent and it’s not even been opened yet to reveal the delights of the drink! The word tanaafisoo comes from nafs and the word nafs is commonly translated as soul and has many derivatives in its root form. Anfaas in Arabic means breaths. Tanaffas also means to take a breath. Tanaafus means to compete in the spirit of healthy and friendly competition. All these things have back and forth in common. What this has in common with nafs is that an-nafs is something that is always going back and forth between the states that Allah (swt) describes either moving towards desire and humiliation and then towards another desire and then back to a righteous character through repentance, thus, it is always in motion.
It is commented that tanaafus signifies that the believers are running towards something high class and elegant. Thus, even though the believers are being tortured and humiliated by the disbelievers, they are racing each other to reach this comfort in Paradise. Allah (swt) is saying if you want to compete with anyone in anything then compete with them in this, in racing to these pleasures of paradise. Allah (swt) has taken away the problems of this world from the minds of the believers and given them a different mindset to the extent that the disbelievers cannot work out how the Muslim can be so happy despite the humiliation and suffering they are enduring. Despite their dignity being taken away from them the believers regardless compete with each other for paradise and end up getting in even more trouble! This is what happens when a heart full of emaan and certainty is filled with Qur’an and it’s pure understanding. May Allah (swt) fill our hearts with emaan and pure understanding of His words.
27) It will be mixed with Tasneem
This passage began with the abraar (the few righteous that get to this point), but then Allah takes our imagination to an even higher level. When the Arabs would mix something in their drink to give a different taste (for example, adding cocoa or sugar to milk) it was called meezaaj. The word tasneem comes from sanaam which is the hump of a camel and tasneem means a very high place or to elevate something e.g. tasneem al quboor – to raise and elevate graves higher above ground. So Allah (swt) is saying that flavour added to this drink has been added from a very high fountain or waterfall called Tasneem. So, the drink itself is not tasneem but it has a little flavour from it. When you taste the tasneem in your drink and enjoy and marvel at it you wonder what it is and where it came from, as you’d like it in its pure form.
28) A spring at which those who are closest to Allah will drink
The abraar who are righteous will be drinking a beverage mixed with tasneem and enjoying it but the higher ones that are closer to Allah (swt) will drink from it directly in its pure form and this shows the different degrees of paradise. The ulema comment that the origin of this drink is very high in paradise and it is a waterfall from which those closest to Allah (swt) will drink. The language of the verse establishes that although the righteous who are reclining on couches and being served drinks are in bliss, those that are closest to Allah (swt) will be in an even better position. So on one hand, Allah (swt) speaks about the worst of the worst, the criminals (al fujjaar) and on the other He (swt) speaks about the best of the best (al Muqqaraboon).
Allah (swt) compensates those who race and are the foremost in goodness because they believe and do good when others do not (i.e. the first ones to believe as it was hardest for them) and this requires the most sacrifice. It is easier for us to be believers as there are so many of them but it would be a lot harder if you were the only one in a minority with everyone calling you crazy. Allah (swt) compensates the companions for their sacrifices.
The Quran is full of Iltifaat which are transitions from the first person to the second and from the past tense to the future and this verse is an example of this. The verses on paradise were in the future tense as they were discussing the future for the righteous and the verses on the fraudsters were in the present tense. Thus, the verses of the Quran continuously transition and travel from the future to the present and from the present to the past and so on and so forth. With this verse Allah (swt) discusses current events that occurred in the past. The word kaanoo is used in the past tense to illustrate that the disbelievers used to ridicule the believers. The placing of this verse, after the verses of paradise, is to depict this as almost a distant memory that crosses the mind of the righteous in paradise, a memory of the difficulties they went through in the dunya whilst now in the ease of Jannah. The word ijraam means not just to commit a crime but to also see the consequences of your crime. So, the reference is to the sinners who mocked the believers for their faith in these verses on paradise and consider how this is also prevalent in our time where Muslims are made fun of for their belief in the rewards of paradise. Muslims should have confidence in the promise of Allah (swt) which is real although others may brand it as make belief and fantasy.
The word ghamz in Arabic is to make gestures with your eyes such as winking or rolling them which in our time too is considered an insult. Thus, Allah (swt) captures even the way the disbeliever looks at the believers. Every action from the killing of believers mentioned in other surah’s, to the verbal insults in this surah and to even the movement of the eyes is recorded.
31) And when they returned to their people, they would return jesting
And now when they have finished ridiculing the believers they return to their family full of joy and relish in relaying information on the insults they have made. Faakiha means delicious fruit and comes from the verb fakiha which means to be overjoyed, as a person feels good when he eats fruit. Faakiheen is also used for people in Jannah who will be overjoyed everytime they take a bite of something. Thus, the disbelievers so enjoy ridiculing Muslims it is as if they can taste fruit in their mouth and almost taste joy when they insult them. They share these stories of how they mock the Muslims with their family. In contrast this person will flee from his family on the day of judgement, the family that he so enjoyed meeting in dunya.
32) And when they saw them they would say: ‘These people are truly lost’
The attitude of the disbelievers towards the Muslims is one of pity, looking down on them with pity thinking that they are wasting their lives away for an imaginary paradise.
33) But they have not been assigned as guardians over them
This verse has been interpreted in two different ways and both are very powerful. The literal interpretation of the verse is that the disbelievers were not sent as guardians of the believers so why should they be so concerned with whether Muslims are lost or not, with how they live or what they aspire to. Another interpretation is that this is the disbeliever asserting that the Muslims have not been sent to them to be a guardian over their affairs. Why should the Muslim care or concern himself with how they live their lives ask the disbelievers? What makes them think they have this authority? However, the Muslims are indeed not guardians over their affairs. Allah (swt) has already put guardians over them that document their deeds, the angels that write of whom we were informed of in the previous surah.
This verse now transitions back to the day of judgement where we learn that it is now the believer who is laughing at not just the criminals mentioned in this surah but at all disbelievers whether they committed these crimes or not. So long as they disbelieved they will be the object of ridicule and this is a role reversal from the disbelievers who laughed at the believers.
35) (Reclining) on thrones/couches they will command a sight (of all things)
(Reclining) on thrones/couches, they will look around them (at all things)
They will be on high couches reclining and looking around with a full view of everything. This description is mentioned here a second time. The first time the Muslims were looking at all the blessings but this time they will be looking at the people who are making them laugh – the disbelievers and they do not even need to look down to see them – they can see them whilst reclining. The righteous recall how the disbelievers would find their faith funny before.
The word thawwaab means to get a good salary; to do good work and to get good back. Allah (swt) displays sarcasm here and asks if those who disbelieved have been paid a good salary in return for everything they used to do. This could even be sarcasm from the believers in paradise who look down at the disbelievers burning. The believer acts as if he cannot hear the cry of the disbeliever and adds insult to injury by asking in sarcasm whether the disbeliever has been paid what he deserved as a result of his deeds. The word ya’maloon means to do an act consciously with intent whilst yaf’aloon is to do an action without intent and without thinking about it. Thus, these fujjaar do evil without even thinking about the consequences. So they don’t do ‘aml, they do fi’l in their disbelief which are thoughtless actions.
The beginning of the surah begins with declaring ultimate destruction for those who cheat in business for small profits and gains. At the end Allah (swt) asks whether they got a good compensation for what they used to do – the cheating, the belittling of Islam, Allah’s book, his messenger and the believers. The answer is undoubtedly yes.