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Tafsir Surah Abasa

By: Ayatullah al-Uzma Nasir Makarim Shirazi in Tafsir Namuneh
Translated from Farsi into English by: Fatima Zabeth Beenesh

This Sura is descended in Mecca and had 42 ayaat.
The background of the descent of Sura e Abasa
Shan e nuzul
It is famous among the interpreters in the private and the public: A group of the leaders of the Qureish such as Taba bin Rabia, Abu Jahl, Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib and a sect of other people were in the presence of the prophet Muhammad sallahi alaihi va ala alehi and the messenger was engaged in his prophetic speech to invite them towards the Islam and he was hopeful that they may get impressed by his words (certainly those kind of people by accepting the Islam they may be able to bring the other group towards the Islam and surely their hindrances for Islam would have been ceased and in both ways it was in the favour of Islam). Meanwhile Abdullah bin Maktum who was a blind and according to his appearance, a poor man, entered the circle of speech and requested the prophet to recite the ayaat of Quran for him and instruct him. And he was repeating his words incessantly and not keeping quiet and maintaining the silence. He was unaware that with whom the prophet was exactly engaged in the discussion.
He interrupted the prophet peace be upon him so much that the prophet peace be upon him got annoyed and its effects appeared upon his sacred face and he told to himself: What will these Arab leaders think that the followers of the prophetpeace be upon him are blinds and the slaves hence he turned his face from him and continued his speech for that group.
At those moments these ayaat descended and the Mighty God about this kind of thinking got angry with the prophet peace be upon him. After this incident the prophet peace be upon him always respected that blind man and seeing him he used to tell him: Marhaba! Praise is, to the one, in the favour of whom, my Provider God got angry with me and then he said: Do you have any wish to fulfil? And the prophet peace be upon him use to appoint him as his representative in the city of Medina when he was away during Islamic wars.
The second background of the descent of Sura e Abasa was that these ayaat were descended about the man from Bani Umayyeh who was sitting with prophet peace be upon him. At the same time Abdullah bin Maktum entered, when the rich man saw the poverty stricken Abdullah he drew himself aside, not to get his dress dirty and contracted his facial expressions, got uneasy. In the above ayaat the Merciful God stated his acts and criticised and condemned it.
This circumstance of a revelation is defined in the narration of imam Baqir alaihis salam. The great shia research scholar late Sayyid Murtuza had accepted this circumstance of revelation.
But the fact which clearly proves that nothing is told about the prophet peace be upon him himself in the ayaat 8 to 10 it is said in it: The one who continuously comes to you in hurry for hearing the ayaat of Allah and fears the Beneficent God and you become heedless of him.
As stated by sayyid Murtuza there are some indications in the ayaat which are not concerned to the prophets person.
To be grimed faced and stern was not the part of the prophets character particularly not the prophet of Islam. He was always talking to the people with a smiling and open face even with the enemies, with this kind of attitude; most certainly he was not treating the believers.
The another fact is that to get engaged with the rich people and to be inattentive to the poor and truth seekers is not suited to the morality of the prophet peace be upon him which is mentioned in the ayat 4 of Sura e Nun. As Sura e Nun is descended before the Sura e Abasa.
Surat Nun or Al-Qalam (The Pen) -

And indeed, you are of a great moral character.
If this circumstance of a revelation they want to connect it to the prophet peace be upon him then it was not just more than a temporary lapse evidently it was not against the status of his chastity.
As the aim of the prophet was to influence the leaders of Arab and spread the invitation of Islam and defeat their resistance power.
Secondly to get annoyed and turn the face could not affect the blind man in any manner as he is unable to see anything. Besides that Abdullah bin Maktum too was not observing the etiquette of the congregation. When he heard from others that the prophet peace be upon him was speaking to the gathering it was his duty to maintain the silence.
Because of the extreme love, kindness and giving importance to the truth seeking believers, only this much carelessness of prophet peace be upon him before the poor and oppressed believers, the Benevolent Allah does not liked even this minor lapse.
And the other way if we gauge these ayaat from the angle of the rightfulness and greatness we will find out that it is a miracle. As the distinguished leader of Islam in his significant heavenly book defines such, his duty that even a minute lapse and negligence in the original duty ј ی that was slightly not caring the truth seeker blind man which angered the Mighty God it is the proof that it is the book of Omnipotent God and he is a true messenger of God. Certainly if the book was not from the Merciful God it would not have such content.
And the strange matter is that according to the above mentioned narrations whenever the prophet peace be upon him was meeting Abdullah bin Maktum he was remembering this event and paying him utmost respects.
And from the other angle these ayaat can represent the Islamic culture which is exhibiting, how it treats the poor and the proud people and how a poor and blind believer was given priority over the rich, powerful polytheist leaders. It is clearly indicating that Islam is the protector and patron of the weak and the enemy of the arrogant and self loving people.
In the end again we repeat that among the interpreters, the first circumstance of a revelation is famous. But we must admit that these ayaat explicitly proves that there is not anything about the person of the prophet peace be upon him in them.
! (80:1)
(The Prophet (Peace be upon him)) frowned and turned away,
Because there came to him the blind man, [interrupting].
But what could tell you that [O Muhammad], perhaps he might be purified
and become pure (from sins)?
Or that he might receive admonition, and that the admonition might profit him?

As for him who thinks himself self-sufficient,
To him you give attention.
What does it matter to you if he will not become pure (from disbelief).
But as for he who came to you striving [for knowledge]
While he fears [ Allah ],
Of him you are neglectful and divert your attention to another,
Extremely wrath for not caring the blind man, seeking the truth..
First it said: Contracted the eyebrows in displeasure and have an angry looks in displeasure and turned his face.

As a blind man came is search of him.

May be you do not know that he is pursuing purity, piety and belief.

By hearing the words of truth he will take the lesson which benefit him.

If he does made himself hundred percent pure at least by the reminding, he will take the lesson and get awakened and this wakefulness compactly leaves an effect upon.
Then continues the wrath and added: the one who suppose himself affluent and rich.

You turn towards him and pay attention to him

And incessantly want to guide him while he is drown deep into the pride, wealth and egoism, the pride which is source of rebelliousness and stubbornness. Similarly it is mentioned in the ayaat 6-7 of Sura e Alaq:
Surat Al-`Alaq (The Clot) -
No! Verily, man does transgress all bounds (in disbelief and evil deed, etc.).
Because he considers himself self-sufficient.
Therefore if he does not follow the path of piety and does not want to bring faith, you have no responsibility over them.

You have only the responsibility of conveying the prophetic mission. Whether they accept the guidance or feel distressed by it. Therefore because of these people you cannot ignore the trutruth seeker blind man or make him perturbed, though your cause is to guide these arrogant rebels.
Once again insist and criticise and in the same manner addressed them: But the one who comes to you, in search of guidance and purity.

And fears the Mighty God

The same fear of Merciful God causes him to approach to you, to hear more the facts and follow it, to purify and cleanse himself.
You neglect him and pay attention to the others.

Means you
Actually it is pointing towards the fact that it does not suit the man like you who must not neglect him for a moment and pay attention to the others. Though reaching to attend the others too is guiding them but the prior need in the communication is to reach these weak and pure people.
Any how this wrath and address whether it is with the prophet peace be upon him or the others it is describing the important fact that the Islam and Quran gave much respect and care to those who struggle in the way of truth particularly from the weaker section of the people.
On the contrary shows the strong and harsh attitude towards those who by the abundance of affluences, granted by the Sovereign God, got intoxicated in their pride, to such extent that the Honourer God does not want to give a slightest discrimination to this group of weak and truth seeking people.
Its reason is quite clear, as always this group of people are the ardent supporters of the Islam and the devoted to the great leaders of the religion in the hardships and the brave, life sacrificing warriors in the battle fields of martyrdom.
As expressed by amirul mominin Ali alaihis salam, while issuing the command to Malik Ashter and said: The pillar of religion and the wealth of the Muslim society is the reserves of power before the enemy are only these masses of the people, hence you must hear to their words and incline your care and attention towards them.
No! Indeed, these verses are a reminder;
So whoever wills may remember it.
[It is recorded] in (greatly) honoured sheets, (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz) .
Elevated (in dignity), purified,
[Carried] by the hands of messenger-angels,
Honourable and obedient
Cursed is man! How ungrateful he is!
From what substance did He (Allah) create him?
From Nutfah (male and female semen drops) He created him, and then set him in due proportion;
Then He (Allah) makes the Path easy for him;
Then He causes his death and provides a grave for him.
Then when He wills, He shall raise him again to life,
No, but (man) has not done what He commanded him.
Only the hands of the chaste people will reach the Quran
Never repeat this kind of attitude and forget it forever

As these ayat are the means of reminding and admonishing the creatures of the Beneficent God.

It needs not to neglect the poor and the oppressed people who possess the pure heart and do not give concentration to the influential, haughty and proud people.
Then it adds: Anybody who wishes takes a lesson from it.

These terms are expressing that there is no compulsion and reluctance in it. It proves the freedom of mans resolution until he wants and determines to accept the guidance, he cannot extract benefit from the ayat of the noble Quran.
And then it adds: These great divine words are saved in the valuable scriptures (tablets and pages).

This term expresses that the ayaat of noble Quran before descending upon prophet peace be upon him were written upon the respectable and worthy tablets and the angels of the revelation were bringing them.
Then it adds: these are prestigious unadulterated and chaste tablets.

More than everything, no incapable and unfit can stretches their hands towards it (to alter it). It is such a pure that no impure can come near to it. It is away from all the defects, doubts and contradictions.
Apart from this, these divine signs, the ayaat of noble Quran are in the hands of the ambassadors and envoys (angels).

The obedient, virtues and high rank ambassadors and envoys,
basically means to uncover any thing. Hence the one who move among the people to solve their problems and uncover the vague and obscure veils he is called safeer ambassador and envoy.
Therefore here by the term means the divine angels who are the envoys of the revelation or the scribers of the noble Quran.
Some related as the protectors, readers, copyists, scholars and students of honourable Quran. They are those who protect the ayat of Quran in every period and era from the devils raids.
In a hadees from hazrat imam Sadiq alaihis salam we read: The one who memorises the Quran and follows its rule and regulations he will be among the great ambassadors and the obedient, virtues and high rank envoys of the honourable Quran.
This express the fact that the memorisers of noble Quran, its interpreters and those who practise upon its rules are stepping among those who are called when these scholars, the protectors and the memoriser of the noble Quran practise same as instructed by that divine book they are similar to the angels and the bearer of the holy book.
is the plural of the means dear and great and indicates the prominence sitaution of the angels of revelation and their distinguished status before the Exalted God.
means expanse and extent, hence the deserts are called and the people who are virtues they called abrar as they have an elaborate existence and their wide abundance reach to the others.
The Exalted God describes the angels in three categories Firstly the envoys and ambassadors of revelation, secondly they are highly respectable and precious and thirdly their purity is in their obedience, submissiveness and kindness.
Then it adds in spite of such a vast means of divine guidance in the supernatural books with the intermediary of esteemed angels of Dominant God descended with various instructions. Still this unthankful and rebellious man does not submit himself to Most High and Sublime God.Death to this man who is such an infidel and ungrateful(to his Merciful God).

In any case the term Death to this man is manifesting the indirect hint that is the expression of the rage, anger and hatred of the Majestic God towards these infidels and the unthankful people.
Whereas the fountainhead of all the ungratefulness is mostly the pride of man and to crush down this arrogance and haughtiness the Most High God said: How the Mighty God had creation them?
From Nutfah (male and female semen drops) He created him, and then set him in due proportion;
Then He makes the Path easy for him;
Then He causes his death and provides a grave for him.
Then when He wills, He shall raise him again to life,
( !(80:23)
No, but (man) has not done what He commanded him.
He created the man by the trivial sperm and then proportioned him and in all the stages of his life he is according to the adequate measurement, proportionate and size.

Why this man does not thinks about his creation and forgets being his worthlessness.
Furthermore why he does not see the power of the Glorious God in the creation of this creature (man) and observe keenly in this worthless sperm from which the man is created?
Intense and sharp observation in the formation of the sperm and the appropriate balance among them and the entire aspects of the existence in his body, talents and his needs, as they are the best proves to get acquainted with the Creator God and recognition of the Allah.
The is from the mother word which means to make appropriate and suitable as we know that in the building of human existence more than twenty types of metals or the material resembling the metals are used such that every element according to the quantity and the quality have it own suited proportion. In the case of getting them less and more, the whole system of human building will get collapsed. Apart from the characteristic of the body parts their coordination and connection with each other are in accurate proportions. And as well as the talents, instincts and wishes of the individuals in the human world they function accordingly in a specific measure, to provide the well being of man.
The Generous and Wise God is the one who arranged all these proportions in that worth less drop of semen, which is so much minute that in the case, equal to the number of the people existing in the world, if their life cells which are swimming in the semen gathered at a single spot its size will not get more than a part of the finger. Yea in this minute existence and limited wisdom, the Fashioner God sketched numberless excellent and admiring faces and figures and blessed in the domination of man.
Some translated the term destiny as to get prepared.
It is supposed the word means to create power in the worthless semen. How great is the Creator God who granted to such a weak creature a superb power and strength who is able to establish in the sky, earth and the depth of oceans as his race track and he is able to bring every kind of power surrounding him under his command.
In the continuation of this topic: Then made the path convenient for him.

And made easy and uncomplicated, the way of nurturing the foetus to the perfection and then transferring it to this world.
The wonder of the human birth is that before the moments of delivery, it is placed in the womb of mother in such a way that his head is upwards and face towards the back of mother and its legs towards the lowest part of womb. But when the command of its birth is issued suddenly the foetus gets overturned (head downwards, legs upwards). This matter made the child birth easy for the mother and the newborn; there are exceptionally the babies who are born with the legs downwards which create lots of pains and difficulties for the mother.
After the birth, in the way of the babys growth and development in the childhood and then the improvement of the instincts and the easy advancement in the way of spiritual guidance and faith, made entirely easy for him by the means of wisdom or the invitation of the prophets.
Being compact how complete and interesting is the sentence that is indicating all these problems.

The significant point is, when it is said: Made the path easy for man. It did not said, I compelled him to travel into this way. But by this manner He stressed upon the mans freedom of choice and his free will.
Then pointed out towards the last stage of human life, after passing through the long distance (of life) and said: next made him to die and conceal him in the grave.
to give death is the work certainly related to the Sovereign God but to conceal in grave is apparently is the job of man. However the intelligence and sense which is needed for it and the other necessities are provided by the Dominant God.
Some connected this specific task to the Bestower God who created grave for man that is the earth and some take this term as an order of divine law and religious order that is to bury the man after death.
However this is a respect of the Merciful God towards human kind and that is the schedule of burying the dead bodies. If there was not any rules and regulation regarding the burial of the man or there was not any command for it then the dead bodies used to be left untouched and get rotten and they would have become the victim of the wild animals and birds. In that condition, It will be a deplorable humiliation for the man. Therefore like this way the Benevolent God shows it kindness towards the man.
Apart from this the rule of burying the dead body (after giving the dead body ablution, covering with shroud and praying namaz for him) it is a regulation which is inspiring that the dead body of man should be neat and clean in every way, likewise it is revealing the rules of hygiene for the living man.
It is a significant point that the matter of death in this ayat too counts among the divine blessings. As the death in the first place it is the start of the tranquillity and peace and to get rid of the worldly calamities and agonies and transferring to the other abode which is more wide and vast. Secondly the death of the present generation give place to the coming future generation and the human kind reach to the perfection by constant passing of the generations. Else the life would have become very narrow, congested and confusing for the coming generation.

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