Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
This Chapter corrects our understanding of the meaning of ‘takfeer,’ and shows us that our understanding often CONTRADICTS the original definition of the word!
Yusuf Ali’s explanation of this Chapter.
Muhammad Asad’s explanation of this Chapter.
Their commentaries can be read in ‘verse by verse’ view.
From Introduction of Yusuf Ali:
“The special aspect spoken of here is the mutual gain and loss of good and evil, contrasted in this life in the Hereafter.”
From Introduction of Muhammad Asad:
“THE MAJORITY of the commentators regard this surah as belonging to the Medina period, but many others are of the opinion that it is a late Meccan revelation. The expression taghabun, occurring in verse 9, has become the key-word by which this surah is designated.”
It is this Chapter which actually defines for us the meaning of ‘takfeer’ which takes place at the inevitable Time/ Event/ Day of ‘Mutual Liability’ when we shall ALL be paying for/ covering’ the MISDEEDS we’d committed against each other in life!
This Chapter’s introductory verse begins with a statement similar to others in the Qur’an ([i]- although it ends differently):
‘Motivated/ Moving to God is everything in the Exalted Expanses and on Earth…’
Here, it continues, stating that ‘HIS is all Dominion and all Praise, and He is, over all things, ‘Qadeer/ Capable (in every way; knowing, judging, performing etc..)
New Readers: See definition of ‘Tasbeeh’ below ([ii].)
Arabic words mean so much more than their translation, which makes it difficult to convey their full meaning! Even more so when the Qur’an says something about God: How do we attempt to convey the grandeur of His all-encompassing attributes?
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1. The first verse reminds us of ALL God’s Creation being in constant motion/ motivation towards Him ([iii]), and assures us that all Dominion/ Sovereignty is HIS ALONE.
This assertion (that God is SOLE SOVEREIGN AND WORTHY of all Glorification) is the basis upon which the coming verses are to be understood.
When we put the 2 Arabic words ‘Mulk’ (dominion/ sovereignty) and ‘Hamd’ (praise/ glorification) together in our Tanzil search-engine, we notice that the combination of these two attributes which are ‘all His’ appear with regard to ONE issue in the Qur’an:
To declare FALSE any allegation of God having any ‘equal,’ any kind of ‘partner,’ or any need whatsoever!
‘And Say: All Praise/ Glorification (is due) to God who did not betake any progeny, and never had a partner in Sovereignty/ dominion, and never had a protector against weakness, and glorify Him in Glorification!’
It is upon this basis of sole Sovereignty and Worthiness that the Chapter continues, as God speaks directly to us:
‘It is He Who created you all…’
2. Verses 2- 4 mention His creating us, that there will be those of us who are ‘Deniers’ and others ‘Faithful’ and God is of what we do ‘Seeing.’ That He created the Exalted Expanses and the Earth in Truth/ Justice and ‘designed/ formed’ us, and ‘designed/ formed’ us well, and that to Him is the conclusion/ final destination. That He knows what we keep private (concealed) and what we publicize (reveal), and He is Knowing of what is in the hearts/ minds.
Quite POWERFUL verses, contrasting the sole sovereignty and worthiness of God to:
3. To: The reaction of ‘Those who Had Denied’ EARLIER, in Verses 5-6, despite the Messengers who had come to them with evidence. The reason they had given for their denial was that these Messengers were human mortals who, in their opinion, could not guide. When they turned their backs, God did WITHOUT them completely, for God is ‘Self-sufficient / Free of all wants,’ Worthy of all Praise.
Note the conversational presentation of this narrative, in response to the question in Verse 5: ‘Haven’t you (all) heard about…?’ (literally: ‘Hasn’t the news come to you…?’). Also, its dissuasive ending, informing listeners that the outcome these people had ‘tasted’ was a result of how they had conducted their own affairs, as well as painful suffering.
The combination of two attributes of ‘Ghani + Hameed’ appear together 10 times in the Qur’an.
New Readers: Put ‘sudoor’ in ‘Search.’
4. After mentioning ‘Those who Had Denied’ earlier, Verse 7 speaks of ‘Those Who Denied’ in real time (WHEN these verses were being revealed), contemporaries of the Messenger Muhammad, peace upon him, telling him to respond to their allegation that they shall not be resurrected by telling them that, ‘INDEED YOU SHALL, by my Lord, certainly be resurrected, and furthermore, shall also be informed of what you had done, all of which is ‘easy’ for God.’
(ASIDE: Notice the conversational tone and rhetoric questions which make us feel that God is speaking directly to each of us. The Qur’an sometimes asks questions of each of us, to which we DO involuntarily respond. Silence is a response, after all.)
Verses 8 continues the general address to all listeners, and specific address to ‘Those Who Denied,’ telling them to have Faith in God and His Messenger and the Light which ‘We’ (God) had sent down, and that God is, of what they do, ‘Khabeer/ All-Knowing AND fully acquainted with every detail.’
5. Verse 9 begins by telling listeners that they shall ALL be gathered together at the ‘Time/ Event/ Day’ of GATHERING, drawing their attention to the fact that it is also the ‘Time/ Event/ Day’ of ‘Taghaabun,’ after which this Chapter is named:
o Root-verb: ‘Ghabana’ ([iv]) is literally about someone ‘falling short,’ when a transaction is NOT equitable for him.
o Noun form: The noun of ‘ghabana’ is ‘ghubn,’ but the noun-form ‘taghaabun’ means that this is MUTUALLY taking place (as if it is in the present continuous). It is a ‘mutual short-falling,’ where everyone concerned is ‘falling short’ in their attempt to cover for their liabilities.
To simplify the concept I have used the word ‘liability.’ Each person being LIABLE to someone, attempting to break even.
o ‘Yawm al Taghaabun’ is the Time/ Event/ Day of ‘Mutual Liability,’ when each person has to ‘cover/ compensate’ for the misdeeds committed against another in life, attempting to break even and be free of this liability.
The following part of this verse is SO IMPORTANT!
It assures any who have faith in God and perform good deeds that He, God, SHALL COVER/ COMPENSATE THEIR MISDEEDS FOR THEM!
Regular Readers will recall that there are different Arabic words to indicate different types of ‘sin.’ Please put ‘sayyi’ah’ in ‘Search.’
What a relief, IF we can be of that category!
Think dear reader, that when Final Justice is imposed upon Humanity, and one has to pay whoever was wronged out of one’s own hard-earned deeds, ‘covering’ the deficiency until there is nothing left to compensate with, but one’s own suffering … think how wonderful it is IF we, as people who had Faith in God, trusted Him, felt secure in that trust, AND followed up on our faith with good deeds (which includes the attempt to do no wrong)… think how wonderful it would be that we would NOT be humiliated at the Time of ‘Taghaabun/ Mutual Liability’ because God will ‘cover for us’ our ‘misdeeds,’ compensating others in full.
It is as simple as that. Why?
Because with Faith and a conscious attempt at good Deeds in Life, our misdeeds against others would probably be mostly unintentional, and we would probably have attempted to redeem ourselves and repair any damage we know we’d done, PLUS seeking God’s forgiveness every day.
May we be among them!
That is why such persons shall be entered into Gardens beneath which rivers flow, to be ‘snug’ and comfortable therein for a lengthy period of time, and that is THE Great Deliverance!
Regular Readers already know that the root-verb ‘kafara’ means ‘to cover,’ and ‘kaafir’ is someone who ‘covers something.’ The plural ‘kuffaar’ was used once in the Qur’an referring to farmers who cover the seeds they sow with soil (HQ 48:29), and is mostly used with regard to those who ‘cover the truth’ or deny it; ie..‘Deniers.’
Our previous verses have showed us the definition of ‘TAKFEER’ in action:
IF we earn it (by our life-record), God ‘yukaffiru/ carries out the ‘takfeer’ of our misdeeds for us (at the time of judgment), COVERING FOR US, compensating those whom we have wronged so that we bear no more liability towards them.
Note that this word ALWAYS appears in the Qur’an as something which God does FOR us, in a two-word combination (kaffara‘an) كفّر عن ; to compensate/ cover for someone.
Let us now ask ourselves this SAD, sorry question:
How is it that the word ‘takfeer,’ which is about generous compensation from God for something we have done (after we sought to remedy our wrongs) …
HOW IS IT THAT THIS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL CONCEPT IS OVERTHROWN TODAY, and ‘takfeer’ has come to be understood as something absolutely UGLY which WE do to each other?
You probably know, dear Reader, that this word has been misused and misunderstood by countless generations of ‘Muslims’ as ‘to dub someone a Heretic.’ And you also know that what took place across the world because of that has been absolutely UGLY!!! (Google it)
How did this happen? It happened when ‘Muslims’ distanced themselves from the Arabic Qur’an (as received from God) and relied on ‘scholarly’ explanations, interpretations, opinions, and last but not least: Tradition, which is all a reflection of society’s ailments and prejudicial mentality.
Dear Reader: Let us do something about this!
When more people realize what Humanity has LOST due to the misinterpretation of Qur’anic words and concepts, perhaps then we can begin to do something effective together.
Please help spread this knowledge: The world needs YOU!
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6. After beautiful Persuasion, we find Dissuasion in Verse 10:
What a different destination for ‘Those Who Had Denied and Belied God’s Signs’!
Verse 11 gives us TWO important bits of information:
o Anything which befalls us, does so by God’s ‘ithn,’ a word which does NOT mean ‘permission,’ but rather, ‘making something known and letting it run its NATURAL course.’
o God, Who has full knowledge of everything, shall guide the heart/ mind of anyone who has Faith in Him!!
Regular Readers will remember the meaning of ‘ithn’ and ‘athaan’ (put ‘ithn’ in ‘Search’). You will also remember that ‘good/ advantage’ is also said to ‘befall us’ (HQ 4:79), and that the SOURCE of any ‘ill/disadvantage’ which befalls us may be from what we have brought upon ourselves and each other, as we saw in HQ 42:30.
Put ‘muSseebah’ in ‘Search’ and see it in Qur’anic context.
Verse 12 calls upon listeners to obey God and obey the Messenger, and if they turned their backs on it, then: ‘…upon Our Messenger is only its clear conveyance /proclamation.’
7. Verses 13- 18 are addressed to Those Who Have Attained Faith.
Verse 13 announces ‘Allah, no God but He’ (see Qur’an), calling upon The Faithful (so labeled here!) to depend on Him.
Verses 14- 16 are so interesting!
They call upon us, warning us to be alert to a certain fact we hardly ever think of:
There might be OF our spouses and children those who are ‘adversaries/ opponents/ enemies’ to us!
The verses then tell us to ‘be aware’ of God as best as we can, and to do three things so as to be successful:
“Be Aware of God as best you can, and listen and obey. And spend for the good of your own selves: for, whoever is saved/ from his own covetousness/ stinginess– it is they who are successful!”
Note the importance of safeguarding ourselves from covetousness, which seems to be the root of all failure (mentioned also in HQ 59:9).
Do you understand, dear Reader, why success has been escaping us?!
Verses 17- 18 assure us that any ‘debt’ we give unto God -by giving freely unto each other- shall be multiplied in return by Him, PLUS He shall forgive us, for He is ‘The Enhancer’ (Shakoor), the ‘Immune to haste or reaction’ (Haleem), The Knower of the Imperceptible and the Perceived, The Invulnerable, The Wise.
We spoke about the concept of ‘debt’ earlier, mentioning that such ‘transactions’ were readily understood by the merchant Arabs: Whatever is spent freely upon others is considered a ‘debt’ which God holds ‘upon Himself,’ promising higher return than can be imagined. What a lucrative transaction!
This chapter opened on the basis of the sole Sovereignty and Worthiness of God, and then closed reassuringly, with five of His beautiful Attributes.
How can anyone doubt Him?
Peace unto all!
The word ‘sabaHa’ is related to motion, most similar to swimming in water. Arabs have used this word to describe the fluidity of camels upon the mirage of desert sands, the galloping horses, the churning of ships through the waves & people going about their different chores.
Regular Readers will remember how we explained the concept of ‘tasbeeh,’ and said that it was related to the constant ‘motion’ by which everything fulfills its innate God-given characteristics (see how often this is mentioned in the Qur’an). Indeed, everything ‘moves/ yusabbiHhu’[iii] to fulfill itself so naturally, that its mere existence is its ‘tasbeeh;’ whatever stops moving, ceases to exist. And, as cognizant humans, more is expected of us since we are not just physical beings with physical potential, but are also capable of growing in knowledge and awareness, and facilitating the growth of others as we all progress together in God’s direction.
غبن: كلمة تدل على ضعف واهتضام، يقال غُبن الرجل في بيعه فهو يُغبن غَبناً وذلك إذا اهتُضِم فيه. [iv]