Tafseer Surah Ad Duha
The fundamental lesson of this surah is the favours that Allah (swt) has given His messenger and this surah and the next is dedicated to the favours of Allah (swt). In this surah Allah (swt) describes the favours He has given the messenger (saw) and at the end He will tell the messenger (saw) what he should do as a show of gratitude. When someone is given favours and blessings they should be grateful for it and acknowledge it and we as followers of Muhammad (saw) should follow his perfect example.
Some mufassiroon were of the opinion that this surah was revealed in response to criticism and ridicule directed towards the messenger (saw) from the mushrikeen. The revelation had stopped for a few days which intensely grieved and saddened the messenger (saw) to the extent that a group from amongst the mushrikeen (Ibn Kathir mentions that it was the wife of Abu Lahab) began to sarcastically ridicule him. She would say that Allah had abandoned Muhammad and that He was unhappy with him. It is important to appreciate that the messenger (saw) was thoroughly concerned with the plight of humanity and fully cognisant of the fact that there would be no prophets to come after him. Thus, there is a huge burden on his shoulders as if fails in his mission then not only the Quraysh but also the whole of humanity will be destroyed. When people reject the message the prophet (saw) as a result is worried that he is doing something wrong and that there are shortcomings in his efforts. As a result he is constantly blaming himself. Allah (swt) constantly tells Muhammad (saw) not to worry and that he is not as fault yet the taunting of the disbelievers which are intended to make him feel bad is gradually cultivating the thought in his mind that maybe he in fact did do something wrong which is why the revelation has stopped. The pause of revelation was like the dark night when it is still. The prophet (saw) could not wait until the softness of the morning sun and revelation returned. The revelation did return and this was not a permanent cease in the same way that the night and darkness is not permanent and gives way to the morning.
Imam Ahmad recorded from Jundub (ibn Abdullah) that he said, “The Prophet became ill, so he did not stand for prayer for a night or two. Then a woman came and said, `O Muhammad! I think that your devil has finally left you.’ So Allah revealed, ‘By the forenoon. By the night when it darkens. Your Lord has neither forsaken you nor hates you.’” Al Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Jarir, all recorded this Hadith.
In a narration from Al- Aswad bin Qays, he said that he heard Jundub say that Jibril was slow in coming to the Messenger of Allah. So the idolaters said, “Muhammad’s Lord has abandoned him.” So Allah revealed, ‘By the forenoon. By the night when it darkens. Your Lord has neither forsaken you nor hates you.’
Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas, “When the Qur’an was revealed to the Messenger of Allah, (Angel) Jibril was delayed from coming to him for a number of days (on one occasion). Therefore, the Messenger of Allah was affected by this. Then the idolaters began to say, `His Lord has abandoned him and hates him.’ So Allah revealed this surah.
1) By the morning brightness
Oaths in the Quran are a means by which one is encouraged to reflect on and prepare for the lesson about to come. Allah (swt) swears by ad-Duha and duha refers to the light of the sun and the early part of the day. It is the time of the day in which there is a lot of activity and hustling and busting in contrast to fajr, which is the early morning and that part of the day when people are only just starting to stir and wake up. Duha in contrast though can be considered to be akin to the morning rush hour when the day is full of life and movement. It is that time of the day when the sun rises after shurook and can be considered to be the late morning. The light of the sun in the desert can be scorching but in the early part of the day it is actually quite soothing. A parallel is being drawn here with the revelation coming down to the messenger (saw). The revelation is being compared to the soothing warmth of the sun falling upon the messenger (saw).
2) And by the night when it grows still
Allah (swt) now takes an oath by the night when it is still. Both of these times, the day and the night, are important from a psychological point of view to the nafs and human personality. These two times are completely opposite to one another and Allah (swt) here alludes to the different emotions people face during the day and night and both opposites enable us to feel grateful for the other. Sometimes in life there is difficulty and sometimes there is happiness and ease. The fact that there is not always ease and relaxation is because an important part of life is to experience hardship and difficulty and to go through tough times. It is through these experiences that Allah (swt) gives us qualities that we would have never have otherwise been able to harness. If life was always easy, one would never learn sabr which is a quality that Allah (swt) put inside us but one which only comes out and blooms under difficult circumstances. Furthermore, one can only truly feel gratitude and be thankful when something you once had is taken away from you. The day has its soothing and comforting characteristic but the night when it is still and motionless still has a role to play and is a time of deep rest and comfort in its own way. We only appreciate the day because of the night and vice versa. Allah (swt) is the one who made the night for you so that you can find tranquillity and rest in it and He (swt) made the day easy for you to see in so that you can move around and go about your business. Allah (swt) uses soft language in this surah as the entire surah is about the messenger (saw) whom He (swt) loves. Allah’s choice of words in this surah points to the intense love He (swt) has for the messenger (saw). This is in contrast to the previous surah where the audience was primarily the Quraysh whilst in this surah it is primarily the messenger (saw).
The word sajaa has three meanings and in this verse it means stillness. Allah (swt) swears by the night in other places in Juzz ‘Amma and when He (swt) does there is motion and movement alluded to in either the arrival or the departure of the night. However, sajaa is the best choice here of word here where the stillness of the night is being highlighted. The mufassiroon say that the soothing light represents the light of revelation and the affect it had on the messenger (saw) and how he was able to deliver its brilliance to others. The night represents the discontinuation of revelation and the stillness of when it stopped coming. This world without the light of revelation would be in darkness. Allah (swt) mentioned the morning first and then the night in this surah which is a change in sequence to the previous surah where the night was mentioned first and then the day. This is because this order fits the theme of this surah where the revelation started coming down like the soothing morning sun and then was paused represented by the stillness and silence of the night.
3) Your Lord has not forsaken you, nor does He hate you
In Arabic al-Widdaa’ means to say goodbye but at-Tawddee’ means to say a final farewell when one does not intend to return, for example when one has bought a single ticket and not a return. When there was a pause in the revelation the mushrikeen said that Muhammad’s Lord had abandoned him although some mufassiroon say that this is not an authentic narration and that perhaps this was a general feeling the prophet (saw) had at the time. In this verse, Allah (swt) is saying that He (swt) has not given a permanent farewell. Allah (swt) could have said ‘lam yu waddi’ka’ which means ‘He did not bid you farewell’ but instead Allah uses ‘maa’. The use of the word maa for negation, which renders something in the past tense, has the benefit of emphatically declaring that negation. Thus, the translation here would be ‘He did not bid you farewell at all’ and so, Allah (swt) uses this precise language in order to convince the messenger (saw). The maa alludes to the unsure state of the heart of the messenger (saw) who was not sure if Allah (swt) was happy with him or not and so Allah (swt) gives him absolute certainty that He (swt) is not displeased with him. The maa in of itself is an expression of the Allah’s love of the messenger (saw) as this is not the type of farewell used when enemies say goodbye to each other but rather it is the type of farewell between people who love each other like family.
The oaths that Allah (swt) took in the beginning are regarding the night and the day, neither of which are permanent, and so it is only fitting that Allah (swt) says the gap in revelation is not permanent. The word for Allah (swt) used here is rabbuka. Allah does not say here that ‘Allah bid you farewell’ rather he says your Lord. The use of the word rabbuka in of itself exhibits love for the messenger (saw). Why would Allah (swt), your Master, the one who gives you gifts and takes charge of you and manages your affairs say goodbye to you? Of all the ways in Arabic to say farewell, Allah (swt) has chosen the most perfect way to let the messenger know that He (swt) has not left him.
Qallaa in Arabic is when you are so unhappy with someone that as a result you abandon all communication with them. It is a transitive verb which means that an object is expected. For example, in English you would not just say ‘I bid farewell’. Rather, you would add an object and say, ‘I bid you farewell’. When Allah (swt) said farewell, He (swt) added a ‘ka’ in order to make it clear that He (swt) had not abandoned the messenger (saw). In contrast though, with the word qallaa where an object is expected (i.e. QallaaKa), Allah (swt) does not use one. This is because bidding farewell occurs between two parties that love each other but being displeased could happen between two people who are at odds with one another. Therefore, the object ka which could have suggested that Allah (swt) is upset with his messenger (saw) is not even mentioned so as not even to let the messenger (saw) entertain the idea that Allah (swt) was upset with him. Goodbye is not a negative term and so the messenger (swt) is mentioned alongside it but with the word displeasure Allah (swt) removes the mention of the name of the messenger (saw) out of honour of him and to avoid having such a negative word next to his name. In Arabic when something is expected but not mentioned its benefits are multiplied and so the absence of the object could also be expanded to mean that Allah (swt) is not unhappy with anything associated with the messenger (saw), be it his companions or his entire mission.
4) And the future will be better for you than the past
And indeed the Hereafter is better for you than the present (life of this world)
The temporary cessation of the revelation was like death and the stillness of the night to the messenger (saw) and felt like an endless depression that would never go away but with this verse Allah (swt) gives His messenger (saw) hope. In Surah al-Balad the path to truth was described as difficult and al ‘Aqabah was described as the steep and high path that has to be climbed. The messenger (saw) is in a difficult struggle and whilst the previous surah promised ease this surah acknowledges that the messenger’s struggles are becoming difficult and he is thus being given a promise that it is going to become easier. The messenger (saw) is being given consolation with the knowledge that what is coming will be better than what came before. Typically in Arabic one would say wal-aakhiratu khayrun (the hereafter is better) versus wa-lal- aakhiratu khayrun laka (the hereafter really is better), which we see in this verse. There is an additional laam here which is called laam at-tawqeed and is used in Arabic to add emphasis and certainty in statements when addressing those in doubt. It is used when taking oaths in order to convince a sceptical audience and the strength of the language will often indicate the state of the audience. When the audience is very sceptical of the information being relayed, stronger language often through the use of oaths is needed. Allah (swt) is very strongly and clearly saying that what will come later is definitely better for the messenger (saw) than the former. This has been interpreted in two ways. One group of mufassiroon are of the opinion that it refers literally to the akhirah and the joy of Jannah whilst others have said that it refers to the struggles of this life and how the challenges ahead will become easier.
The latter opinion may seem strange as the surah was revealed at a time when the hijrah has not yet happened, the torture has not yet happened and neither the battles of Badr or Uhud and also the trials of the Munafiqoon. What this is referring to is the toughest struggle of the messenger (saw) which occurred in the earliest part of the seerah when the messenger (saw) was one of only a small number of believers. This was a time when he was ridiculed and mocked everytime he spoke and whoever believed in him was also called crazy. As time goes on though more and more people start to believe in the message. People will always feel strength in numbers and when you are in a group you have support but when one is in a minority it is much harder to speak. So, Allah (swt) is suggesting that the prophet’s numbers will increase, making the dawah easier, the ridicule less relevant and his struggles easier. Allah (swt) enables us to appreciate both meanings through the language of this verse. If Allah (swt) had said min ad-dunya as opposed to min al oola it would have been made clear that it is the hereafter that is better than the struggles of this world. However, Allah (swt) uses the word oola which means the earlier or former and so includes both meanings. The prophet’s struggles in this life will be made easier for him and his next life will be better for him than this world. In the same way that dunya is not mentioned, akhirah is also not mentioned so as not to reduce the meaning to just the next life.
There is however something in the language that makes it clear that the akhirah is not being spoken about primarily, although that meaning is also included. The word laka means ‘for you’. We certainly know that the next life is better but Allah (swt) particularly highlights ‘for you’ meaning the prophet (saw) especially and not the believers. The prophet (saw) will be rewarded in Paradise with things that no one else will get, for example, the river al Kawthar. It also suggests that Allah (swt) will give the prophet (saw) khayr (good) in this world which no one else has been given and indeed the prophet (saw) was given khayr unlike that given to anyone else. For example, the domination and victory of Islam, the honour of the conquest and cleansing of the house of Allah (swt) which will become the central point of worship of Allah (swt) for thousands of years to come. The adhaan is called in every corner of the world and everytime it is, the prophet’s name is mentioned and his name and status elevated. Muslims are always encouraged to do good as it will be a form of sadaqah jariah (ongoing charity). Building wells and teaching the Quran are ways in which the good we do will continue after we die and this is something that the prophet (saw) has done to a greater extent than anyone else. Everytime someone does something good and follows the Sunnah they are emulating in a thousandth of a fraction the practice of the prophet (saw). So, whatever good the Muslims do by following the example of the prophet (saw), our noble prophet (saw) is racking up the reward.
In this surah we will find many things that express the love Allah (swt) has for the messenger (saw). Allah (swt) took the ka away from qalaa in order to distance the suggestion that He was unhappy with His messenger but when it came to kayr he brought the ka back (laka) which you don’t expect as the sentence would be complete without the preposition (i.e. wa lal akhiratu khayrun [laKa (for You)] min al oola). The ka is brought back in a positive way to emphasise that the eventual will be better for the messenger (saw). Allah (swt) will later mention in this surah that the prophet (saw) was an orphan and was given shelter, he was in search of guidance and Allah (swt) guided him and when he was in need, Allah (swt) made him free of need. It is almost as if Allah (swt) is saying that you already have experience in your life of things getting easier and of things eventually becoming better for you. It is almost as if the proof of this verse is in the rest of the surah.
The previous surah al-Layl ends by saying that the one who is in pursuit of Allah’s contentment will soon be truly pleased and in this surah we learn who is the most qualified for that title of being most pleased. We also learnt that whosoever seeks Allah’s pleasure in general will be pleased whilst in this surah it is specifically Muhammad (saw) who will be pleased. In Arabic when referring to the future one can use sa or sawfa. There is a subtle difference between the two in that sawfa is further away in time than sa. For the ancient Arab if you say ‘sa ya’lam’ it means ‘really soon he will know’ whereas if you say ‘sawfa ya’lam’ it means ‘soon he will know’. In this verse Allah (swt) says ‘wa la sawfa’ and so Allah (swt) is saying that He will soon give you. In al-Layl, Allah (swt) also spoke about giving but it was attributed to man. In contrast, in this surah Allah (swt) Himself is giving and is saying ‘your Master will soon give’ and He is giving because the messenger (saw) in his lifetime gave so much. It can be understood from this that the messenger (saw) is being told that there are some things he will have to do before he gets to his eventual gifts. If the gifts were to be received soon without time having to lapse in the middle, the word sa would have been used. The sawfa also serves to add emphasis and Allah (swt) uses emphasis because the harder the struggles of the messenger (saw) in his work of dawah becomes, the more you have to emphasise why this work is being done and the more the promise of victory in the future and the promise of paradise is emphasised.
The word yu’teeka roughly means that Allah will give you and the implication is that He (swt) will give a lot because of the word a’tta which is in the hyperbolised form (i.e. afdal, akram). The selection of the word a’tta which means to give a lot over the word aataa which also means to give but not to the same extent shows that Allah (swt) will give a lot. This verse has already indicated when the messenger (saw) will be given but by removing the object of the verb Allah (swt) does not mention what will be given. The benefit of this is that He (swt) made the giving absolute and did not put any limits on it. If someone rich comes to you and says he will take care of you, you do not expect to receive a small amount as this person did not put a number on what he will give. The Arabs have a saying that ‘Giving is appropriate to the one who gives’ (Al ittaa’u qadarin ‘ala Mu’tti) and so when Allah (swt) says He will give you and does not put a limit on it, one can only imagine how unlimited the reward of the messenger (saw) will be. So, firstly Allah (swt) does not put a limit on what He is giving and then He also selects a word that indicates that He (swt) will give a lot.
There is a kind of giving (aataa/eetaa) where you take back what you gave and when you give you give with a condition of responsibility. Allah (swt) uses this word in the Quran to describe those occasions when He (swt) gives sovereignty to a people and then takes it back e.g. ‘…You give (tu’tee) the kingdom to whom You will, and You take the kingdom from whom You will..’(al Imran 3:26). Yu’tee in comparison is when you give but you do not take back what you have given and the receiver has full rights over what has been given. Allah (swt) used this word when He (swt) gave his prophet (saw) al Kauthar which means that the prophet (saw) has full rights over it.
Innaa A’ttaynaka al Kawthar
We have truly given abundance to you (Prophet) (Al Kauthar 108:1)
There is a huge discussion in tafseer on what Allah (swt) will give. Most of the discussion is surrounding Muhammad (saw) asking for and Allah (swt) giving him the intercession of this ummah and Allah (swt) will accept the plea of his messenger (saw) until the messenger (saw) is satisfied (tardda). Some Muslims have taken advantage of the intercession of the messenger (saw) thinking they can do haram and that because Allah (swt) loves his messenger, the messenger will make a case for them and they will be fine. We need to understand that the messenger (saw) makes two kinds of requests. On the one hand he makes a request for intercession, which we find in many hadiths, and on the other we find him making a case against and complaining about those who abandoned the Quran.
And the Messenger will say; my Lord, this nation of mine took hold of this Qur’an and then left it (Furqan 25:30)
Allah (swt) will satisfy the request of His messenger, both who he makes a case for and who he makes a case against. Allah (swt) on the Day of Judgement will not make the messenger (saw) say the disbelievers abandoned the Quran. Rather the messenger (saw) will say that his nation abandoned the Quran. His nation was the Quraysh originally but we the Muslims are also a part of his nation. Thus, if we abandon the book of Allah and its message, teachings and guidance, then the danger exists that we might fit this description. May Allah not make us from them, ameen. The word ridda means to be satisfied and pleased and is usually used in the context of Jannah. Notice it is not mentioned who and what the prophet (saw) will be pleased about and this serves to add vastness to the meaning. It is clear though that the prophet (saw) will be pleased with Allah (swt) and the gifts that He has given him; the Shafa’ah (intercession), the rewards in Paradise (i.e. Al Kawthar), the Praised rank (Maqaaman Mahmood) and also the companions of the prophet (saw). The messenger (saw) will be pleased with Allah (swt) and the ones that He will give him – the companions:
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating (in prayer), seeking bounty from Allah and (His) pleasure. Their mark is on their faces from the trace of prostration. That is their description in the Torah. And their description in the Gospel is as a plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers – so that Allah may enrage by them the disbelievers. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward. (al Fat-h 48:29)
We could also become a part of those that Allah (swt) and His messenger (saw) are pleased with as in a hadith the Prophet (saw) said: “The best of my ummah are the first and the last, and between them there will be some crookedness. Would that I could see my brethren.” They (the companions) said, “Are we not your brethren?” He said, “You are my companions.” Ibn Taymiyya interpreted this to mean glad tidings for those who came later after the companions as they could be close to them. Precedence is of course given to the Sahaabah because they alone are the companions of the prophet, which is a higher status than merely being brothers. Therefore, we could be a part of fa tardda, a source of pride and joy for the messenger if we sincerely follow the Sunnah, may Allah bless us all with that honour. Ameen. No matter what Allah (swt) does though, whether He punishes the ummah or not, the prophet (saw) will always be pleased with his Lord. O Allah, make us of those who are saved through the Shafa’ah of Your Messenger without the hellfire touching us. Ameen.
6) Did He not find you an orphan and shelter you?
Allah (swt) could have said wa wajadaka yateeman – ‘He found you an orphan’ but instead Allah (swt) asks it as a rhetorical question. This is akin to one asking someone ‘Haven’t I taken care of you in the past?’, almost as if the person is advising one not to worry because they have proven their reliability already. Allah (swt) has posed this verse in a question form almost as if to prove His reliability and to console the prophet (saw) with regards to his concerns about the fate of the ummah, about whether his mission will succeed or not and whether more revelation will come. Allah (swt) has been reassuring the prophet (saw) about the future and now by changing the subject matter to the past, He (swt) reassures the prophet (saw) by reminding him (saw) of the past. In the same way that Allah (swt) found the prophet (saw) an orphan and helped him in the past, He (swt) will help him in the present and the future.
The word aawaa in Arabic means to give someone or to take refuge from danger and eewaa is to bring someone into your home as a guest. We know that Allah (swt) gave the prophet (saw) shelter by means of his uncle Abu Talib but Allah (swt) does not mention the prophet’s uncle and instead takes the credit for it Himself. We can understand from this that when people do us favours we should be thankful to them but understand that these are just a means and that the favours all came from Allah (swt), the One who inclined that person to help and who is deserving of all thanks and praise. By omitting the ‘ka’ from fa aawaa (gave shelter), the meaning is expanded to include all possible permutations such as gave you shelter, gave shelter for you (your sake) and gave shelter by you to others (i.e Muslims who help orphans by following the prophetic example and sunnah. Many people are also sheltered from hellfire because they follow Allah’s Messenger). Yateem which means orphan is a word which is mentioned throughout the Quran and the orphan is someone who we are continuously reminded to help because a child that has lost one’s parents is one of the hardest things to imagine. Nobody cares for you like your parents, even if it’s a blood relative like an uncle and even if someone adopts you it can never be a substitute for your parents. The way they love and forgive you and the way they overlook your shortcomings. Furthermore, if you have no shelter after your parents have gone then you from amongst the most oppressed groups in society especially in a tribal society where an orphan will have no one to support them. Who is an orphan going to be able to complain to and who will hear his cries? Losing one’s parents does not just mean a potential loss of shelter and food but also that rather basic human need of needing to be loved and cared for. The prophet (saw) was in this state and Allah (swt) is reminding him of the fact that he was brought out of this state.
7) Did He not find you lost and guide you?
The word ddaal means misled or lost. When we talk about people being lost we are normally referring to people who go to nightclubs and the like, people who drink or people who don’t believe and do shirk. This word is also used in the last ayah of al-Fatiha and is a word typically used to describe a people we don’t want to be like yet in this verse, Allah (swt) uses it for his messenger (saw). Similarly, Musa used this word to describe his life without guidance when questioned by Fir’aun:
(Fir’aun) said, ‘Did we not raise you among us as a child, and you remained among us for years of your life? And (then) you did your deed which you did, and you were of the ungrateful.’ (Musa) said, ‘I did it, then, while I was of those without guidance. So I fled from you when I feared you. Then my Lord granted me wisdom and prophethood and appointed me (as one) of the messengers (ash-Shu’ara 26: 18-21).
The explanation of this word is given in the Quran itself: ‘..and you were- in the past – from those who were utterly unaware’ (Surah Yusuf 12:3). If one were to compare their state after revelation had come to them to a time before it had, one can only describe themselves as having been lost. Yet, even the lost state of the messenger (saw) is better than many of us today as he had the best of Fitrahs (natural disposition). The prophet (saw) never committed shirk nor any evil acts and was the best of people even before the revelation came to him. The prophets all already had all the best elements of the believers and did not commit any evil or shameful acts but the highest wisdom of how we please our Creator and what displeases Him, of how we call out to Him and what we owe Him was not known to them. Hence, at this point one is lost even if they are a decent and upright person. In this sense the messenger (saw) was lost and some scholars better define his state by saying that he was seeking as when someone is lost they are actually searching and seeking and so the implication here is that the prophet was found searching for the truth.
The prophet (saw) was raised in a society which committed shirk – something he abhorred. Additionally, the People of the Book had corrupted their books and so he was disturbed and desperately wanted to know where he could find truth and it was at that point of desperation that Allah (swt) guided him as the human mind cannot find the truth by itself despite all the time the prophet (saw) would spend in the cave contemplating before the message came to him. It was in this state that Allah (swt) guided him and raised his status from one with exceptional character, morals and manners to the level of human perfection.
And thus We have revealed to you an inspiration of Our command. You did not know what is the Book or (what is) faith, but We have made it a light by which We guide whom We will of Our servants. And indeed, (O Muhammad), you guide to a straight path (as-Shuraa 42:52).
This is essentially the difference between a prophet and a philosopher. Philosophers find truth from reflection and from their own thoughts whereas the messenger’s wisdom was given to him by Allah (swt). Similarly, Musa (as) did not know the law of Allah (swt) when he committed his crime and so in that sense he was lost. The irony is that Muhammad (saw) was seeking and was given so much guidance by Allah (swt) that he became a source of guidance for others as indicated by the vastness in meaning of fa hadaa (so, He guided you) due to the absence of the pronoun ka i.e. fa hadaa laka – He guided for you, fa hadaaKa – He guided you and fa hadaa Bika – He guided others by you.
8) Did He not find you in need and make you self-sufficient?
There are a number of words in the Quran for poverty but Allah (swt) specifically uses the word ‘ayla or ‘eela here which is translated as poor or financially desperate. Aa’il is someone who is under so much pressure that they feel like they are being crushed by it. The word ‘ayaal is used to describe someone financially responsible for their family and which almost feels like a burden placed on you. Allah (swt) says that He found Muhammad (saw) crushed by the weight of this problem, in a desperate state and then He made him free of need. Allah (swt) does not mention how He did this but in tafseers of this surah we learn that the marriage of Muhammad (saw) to Khadija (ra) enriched him financially and freed up his time to do other things such as contemplation and reflection. Therefore, her wealth played a strategic role in his struggle but in the end, although she will be rewarded for it, it was Allah (swt) who made the prophet (saw) free of need. The word ghina is used to describe a person who is so wealthy that he thinks he is free of need. In the previous surah however, we learnt that one’s wealth is not enough to make them free of need, even though they think it is, and it will be of no benefit to them once they fall in a ditch. This surah in contrast teaches us that Allah (swt) is the One who makes one free of need. We become free of need not by wealth but by Allah (swt) and the pursuit of wealth is contrasted with the one who pursues Allah (swt). Allah (swt) uses the word aghna without a ka and by omitting the pronoun the meaning is enhanced once more similar to the previous verse i.e. fa aghna laka – He enriched for you (your sake), fa aghnaKa – He enriched You, fa agha bika – He enriched by you (others). Allah (swt) gave others shelter from the evil of shirk through the messenger (saw).
Allah (swt) in the previous three verses gave the messenger (saw) three reminders of favours that He has given him. Now, Allah (swt) symmetrically places on the messenger (saw) three demands. The word taqhar is to not only have power over someone but to humiliate them through it in addition. The messenger (saw) is being taught that orphans should not be dominated or humiliated. Of course the messenger (saw) would never do this especially considering he himself was once an orphan but when the messenger (saw) is being addressed and taught a lesson, we are all supposed to be learning and taking heed. In the previous surah it was man who was needy and seeking Allah’s pleasure and in this surah in contrast the needy are coming to us and so we should not turn them away. The lesson we learn here is that the one who is truly in need of the pleasure of Allah (swt) will never turn away anyone who comes to them in need.
10) And do not chide the one who asks for help
The one who asks could be asking you for knowledge and guidance or even food. Nahr is a river in which the water is gushing and this word is also used for scolding someone because when you scold someone, that person can almost feel like he is standing in a river with wave after wave hitting him in a gushing wrath, pushing him away with force. This is what it feels like when you humiliate someone by yelling at them and Allah (swt) is advising us not to be like this and push people away. So, Allah (swt) is advising the messenger (saw), in a lesson on how to deal with people who ask you things, not to humiliate someone when they come to him asking for help. If Allah (swt) is giving this advice to the messenger (saw) who had the best of manners then how much more should it apply to the likes of us. This advice is especially useful for students of knowledge and people in da’wah who often have to field annoying and absurd questions and sometimes questions deliberately designed to provoke you and to get on your nerves. The best way to handle this is by taking Allah’s advice and not feel the need to teach them a lesson by humiliating them. Rather, one should leave them in a dignified manner.
11) Talk about the blessings of your Lord.
The word ni’ma is a favour and comes from the word nu’ooma which means softness. Allah (swt) is telling the messenger (saw) to make mention of the softness, ease and relaxation that his Master has given him. Allah (swt) does not mention which ni’ma however and does not even say ni’m which would have been all the favours. Linguistically, Allah (swt) could have said ‘wa amma bin-ni’mati min rabbika’ (as for the favour that came from your Lord) but instead we find an iddaafa, ‘wa amma bi ni’mati rabbika’ (as for the favour of your master). The min would have implied a certain distance between Allah (swt) and the messenger (saw) whereas it’s removal brings the words in the verse closer together (taqreeb) and serves to signify the closeness of Allah (swt) to the messenger (saw). This in itself is a favour of Allah (swt) because He is close to the prophet (saw).
Studying the surah carefully one can find the ni’ma given to the messenger (saw). Some of the mufassiroon say this it is the wisdom given to the messenger (saw) whilst others say it is the prophethood itself and its teachings and others still have said that this is all the good that comes to anyone. There is a list of favours that Allah (swt) gave the messenger in this surah in verses three to eight and after being reminded of these the messenger (saw) is instructed fa haddith. Allah (swt) does not add a pronoun and say mention it as this would have been limiting. The absence of it means that the messenger (saw) should just mention. The word haddith implies to mention by the tongue and so the messenger (saw) is being told to actually speak up about the favours of Allah (swt) and also His teachings. Allah (swt) has in fact summarised all his favours into one big favour to the messenger (saw) and as a result the response of the messenger (saw) should be to not worry about anything and to keep mentioning this religion because of the favour of His Lord.