Tafseer Surah al Mutaffifeen notes:
A profound declaration against a criminal.
Al Mutaffifeen: Comes from ta-fafa, a doer of tafafa is a mutafif - when they're in business - when they sell something to someone, they want to get a little more than they deserve, but when they give - they give less than they should.
This can be in tangible and intangible things. I.e. in services - you might owe someone 5 hours at work, but you might just give 4hours and 58minutes. Or you owe someone 1kg of rice, so you put 990grams of rice in the scale - without measuring accurately. This is a mutaffif, so that the customer can't even come back and complain that he never got the exact right amount. So it's not about taking huge amounts unjustly, but it's about little amounts taken unjustly and unfairly.
Relation to Previous Surah [Surah Infitar]
This connects to alot of things in the previous surah;
كَلَّا بَلْ تُكَذِّبُونَ بِالدِّينِ
Nay! but you give the lie to the Recompense [Deen] (reward for good deeds and punishment for evil deeds). (Infitar 82:9)
Deen is literally the 'exact portion'. In the previous surah, it implied the exact portion [of reward or punishment] we are due for on Judgment Day.
In the tafsir of this surah, Deen may also refer to the portion which the mutaffif denies - of giving - in his worldly affairs.
We also see in the previous surah (Infitar) that Allah said;
يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ مَا غَرَّكَ بِرَبِّكَ الْكَرِيمِ
O mankind, what has deceived you concerning your Lord, the Generous, (Infitar 82:6)
الَّذِي خَلَقَكَ فَسَوَّاكَ فَعَدَلَكَ
Who created you, proportioned you, and balanced you? (Infitar 82:7)
'Adalak - does not just refer to Him creating us in a balanced state, but it also means that He programmed you with a sense of balance.
A person who even cheats others - when he recieves something - doesn't he want his full amount? So they understand the sense of balance. They wouldn't want their relatives to get less than they deserve. But when they themselves deal with customers - they cheat with the people. It's because of this sense of balance they feel entitled to fair dealings from others to them. This shows that humans are created with an inclination to balance. But anyone who does not deal in this balanced state in their dealings with others is therefore, a Mutaffif.
Woe to those who give less [than due],
Wayl = A curse. May destruction fall upon them (a harm i.e. such as an illness etc.) It's an ugly kind of word. And it's been used for someone whose been totally ruined. I.e. some say "Ya waylanaa!" [meaning, Oh our destruction (has fallen on us).]
Waylun (tanween - a Nun placed at the end for further emphasis) = horrible destruction.
Waylun lilmutaffifeen - ultimate destruction / a horrible destruction, for those who engage in this kind of tafeef. They take just a little bit away without the customer realising it. Taking more then you should, or giving less than you should.
If you go further, you find Allah's Messenger explaining this Mutaffif and his effect on society;
"Wa laa taffaf kayl, illaa muni'un-nabaath, wa ukhidhu bi sineen."
Bukhari (Sahih). Chapter of Punishments. - "They did not cheat a little bit in business, except;
1) The crops stopped growing.
2) They were seized by means of drought."
And Allah says in Surah Rum;
ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ
Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness]. (Surah Rum 30:41)
الَّذِينَ إِذَا اكْتَالُوا عَلَى النَّاسِ يَسْتَوْفُونَ
Allatheena itha iktalooAAala annasi yastawfoon
Who, when they take a measure from people, take in full.
When they recieve weight from people, they going to get the full amount they can get.
Aladheena Idhaktaaloo 'alaa al naas (those who, when they measure 'upon' the people...)
Usually - in arabic language - the word 'min' [from] is used (i.e. Aladheena Idhaktaaloo min al naas - those who, when they measure 'from' the people...)
But by Allah saying 'alaa, He is implying that these people actually bully and pressurise the seller into giving him the full amount accurately... Even if he weighs it correctly, the mutaffif would want a slight bit more out of greed.
This is even common in todays time where we might 'muscle our way'/put pressure to get something extra out of a seller, when that might not be possible for him. Sometimes it is necessary, but you deep down know in your conscience when you are being a mutaffif (by being unfair).
Yutwafawna [they are infact given in full]. Yastawfoon (mentioned in this surah) - they try to get the full as possible (i.e. i want more, more, more!)
الَّذِينَ إِذَا اكْتَالُوا عَلَى النَّاسِ يَسْتَوْفُونَ
Allatheena itha iktalooAAala annasi yastawfoon
(those who, when they measure 'upon' the people (by pressurising them), want more, more, more!).
وَإِذَا كَالُوهُمْ أَو وَّزَنُوهُمْ يُخْسِرُونَ
Wa-itha kaloohum aw wazanoohum yukhsiroon
But if they give by measure or by weight to them, they cause loss.
And when they have to waive for others, and measure the product - in a specific weight - they make sure the other person leaves in loss (khusr). "I want to make sure I give him less than he deserves (even if its just by 1%!)".
In an average arabic sentence, it would be;
Wa idhaa [and when] Kaloo [give by measure] La [for] hum [them]...
And when they give by measure for them, they cause loss. (this is how it should be in an average arabic sentence.)
But in the Qur'anic aayah it is;
Wa idhaa [and when] Kaloo hum [give by measure (to) them] aw wazanoohum [or by weight (to) them] yukhsiroon [they cause loss] :
But if they give by measure or by weight to them, they cause loss. (this is how it is in this aayah of Qur'an).
By not mentioning 'La' (for), it indicates that this is not a natural [tabee'i] transaction, and just as the 'La' has been removed in this aayah from the normal arabic sentence style, the same way the natural fairness of a business transaction has been removed, and there is a form of cheating being done by the Mutaffif.
So there is a change in the transaction which is unnatural, so there is a change in the sentence style - from the norms of the arabic language - to describe the unnaturalness of what the Mutaffif does. The 'La' is missing just as the full product is missing.
This is a rhetorical form of the language.
أَلَا يَظُنُّ أُولَٰئِكَ أَنَّهُم مَّبْعُوثُونَ
Allah shows that He has distanced Himself from them(those who give less than due).
Even the assumption of being raised before Allah azza wa jal does not strike them!
Azheem -> tough, intensely great
This has a separate ayah dedicated to it to show the greatness of that Day.
يَوْمَ يَقُومُ النَّاسُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
Sin blocks the idea of a reckoning. However the reckoning is still going to happen.
كَلَّا إِنَّ كِتَابَ الْفُجَّارِ لَفِي سِجِّينٍ
This verse shows that the deeds of the wicked shall definitely be shown as a document.
This shows two things:
- Reliable people who document – Angels
- Preservation of the documents.
The previous Surah, Surah al Infitar showed the recording of the information, this Surah, Surah al Mutaffifeen shows the preservation of the document.
Fajr means to rip through the night.
Faajir is the one who does the most heinous crimes.
The image of the Sijjeen is like that of a prison roster, deep in the earth. It also holds the record of what punishments they have to suffer.
Sijn is prison.
Sijjeen is horrible prison(the horror is intensified by the shadda...my own observation).
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا سِجِّينٌ
This verse makes you ponder upon the importance of the Sijjeen.
It is a Kitab written by angels.
Marqoom – Thick clear writing that in imprinted in such a way that it cannot be erased. (Kinda like engravings...my own thoughts)
Verses 10 – 12
وَيْلٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِّلْمُكَذِّبِينَ
الَّذِينَ يُكَذِّبُونَ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ
وَمَا يُكَذِّبُ بِهِ إِلَّا كُلُّ مُعْتَدٍ أَثِيمٍ
These verses show the deliberate destruction of those who lied against (the due portion being given on) the Day of Judgement.
It shows the evil effects of lying. Shows lying as root cause of problems.
Mu’tadin atheem refers to the worst of the worst.
Mu’tadin is one who violates someone’s right. The more he does it, the easier it gets for him to do it. He may even get pride from doing it.
Atheem comes from the word ithm which is the attitude or behaviour that keeps one from doing good things. Essentially nothing effects them in this dunya.
Ithm is an issue of the heart which is when the heart has become singul.
Righteousness will satisfy your nafs and ithm will eat away your nafs until you become atheem.
These ayaat should affect us in daily life lest we become like the one being talked about.
إِذَا تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِ آيَاتُنَا قَالَ أَسَاطِيرُ الْأَوَّلِينَ
In the case of those who have gone beyond the point of no return, they say these are mere stories.
Talwa – is to read/recite
Asaateer comes from istaar, astaraa and refers to legends or old stories created by people.
The worst crime of these people is that they mock the verses of the Quran.
كَلَّا ۖ بَلْ ۜ رَانَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِم مَّا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ
They do this (mocking) because rust is placed on their heart.
Raan is dust(which is imprinted on their hearts).
Ibn Al Qayyim rahimahullah says that the heart is covered by sin after sin till heart becomes black. This is ran.
A person who does a sin, a black spot covers his heart. When he repents, heart is scrubbed off and given shine but if he doesn’t repent, black spots accumulate till heart is hard and black.
This happens because people wanted more than they deserve.
In the Surah al Infitar, a question is put forth: What took you away from your Lord? The answer is provided in this Surah – Their hard heats made them turn away from their Lord.
كَلَّا إِنَّهُمْ عَن رَّبِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ لَّمَحْجُوبُونَ
عَن رَّبِّهِمْ refers to the disbelievers being barricaded from their Lord.
They shall be seeing something else. They won’t even get a glimpse of their Lord but rather will see their punishment.
Imam ash Shafi’ee said that this ayah is proof that the believers will see their Lord in the Hereafter.
This ayah shows punishment to the kuffaar and blessing to believers.
The worst kind of punishment is the sealing of the heart which is from the mocking of the ayaat of Allah.
ثُمَّ إِنَّهُمْ لَصَالُو الْجَحِيمِ
Then they will jump into the Hellfire. The word used here is صَالُو which is a stronger word being used.
ثُمَّ يُقَالُ هَٰذَا الَّذِي كُنتُم بِهِ تُكَذِّبُونَ
It will be said to them – This is what you used to lie against i.e. what you mocked.
This ayah doesn’t even mention who is saying this – because of the previous ayah that Allah has barricaded them from Him. So they do not have even the slightest comfort of knowing that their Lord is addressing them.
This surah emphasizes the punishment. The previous surah seemed to portray some hope. In this one, however, the message is, if you are like the fujjaar then you will taste the torment.
كَلَّا إِنَّ كِتَابَ الْأَبْرَارِ لَفِي عِلِّيِّينَ
كَلَّا is in response to those who mock the Day of Judgement.
عِلِّيِّينَ is a book in the company of the highest. As Saabooni says this is in highest part of Jannah or could refer to angels. Az Zamakshari says it could refer to both angels and Jannah. Another opinion is that عِلِّيِّينَ could be referring to the book itself and not the station. Wallahu a’lam.
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا عِلِّيُّونَ
This only goes to prove that we have no clue as to what a high place عِلِّيُّونَ is.
الْمُقَرَّبُونَ are those who are shown their place in Jannah before returning to the grave.
إِنَّ الْأَبْرَارَ لَفِي نَعِيمٍ
Az Zamakshari says regarding نَعِيمٍ is that whatever you see captivates your attention.
عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ يَنظُرُونَ
الْأَرَائِكِ refers to the thrones that are designed in such a way that you shall see everything happening around you despite being in a reclined position.
تَعْرِفُ فِي وُجُوهِهِمْ نَضْرَةَ النَّعِيمِ
نَضْرَةْ is the lighting up of one’s face. This shows someone is happy just to be there.
نَضْرَةَ النَّعِيمِ are the blissful things you see that increase the brightness
يُسْقَوْنَ مِن رَّحِيقٍ مَّخْتُومٍ
يُسْقَوْنَ means that they will be given.
As Saabooni mentions about رَّحِيقْ is that it is of a good texture and doesn’t make you drunk.
مَّخْتُومْ refers to something being sealed after being filled to the brim and is meant for only the specified person to open.
Allah provided these words which comforted the sahaabah who were a minority in Makkah to continue giving da’wah despite persecution.
خِتَامُهُ مِسْكٌ ۚ وَفِي ذَٰلِكَ فَلْيَتَنَافَسِ الْمُتَنَافِسُونَ
Even the seal smells of musk. So strive towards paradise.
تَنَافُسْ according to what Ibn Jareer at Tabari mentions is that they are running towards something elegant. They all want it and are competing for it.
The kuffaar on the other hand do not understand this striving for the other world.
وَمِزَاجُهُ مِن تَسْنِيمٍ
مَزَاجْ refers to the mixture added to the drink to make it even better.
تَسْنِيمٍ comes from سْنِامْ which is the hump of the camel. Hence تَسْنِيمٍ means high place. Some add from a very high fountain. When you taste it, you want the new taste.
عَيْنًا يَشْرَبُ بِهَا الْمُقَرَّبُونَ
يَشْرَبُ refers to the best of the best (الْمُقَرَّبُونَ ) enjoying تَسْنِيمٍ itself sitting very close to Allah.
Ash Shawkaani says that تَسْنِيمٍ is the name of the spring from which those closest to Allah will drink.
This establishes gradation between those who are close to Allah v/s those who are righteous but not to that level.
To give further elaboration on those nearest to Allah, Ustad Nouman provides the following verses from Surah al Waqi’ah
And the foremost(in this world will be) , the foremost (in the Hereafter). Those will be the ones nearest (to Allah).
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ أَجْرَمُوا كَانُوا مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يَضْحَكُونَ
After the beautiful ayaat preceding this one, the mocking barely affects the believers negatively.
كَانُو means used to (do). This shows that this mocking is being referred to as something that used to happen in the past. The ayah is as if still a vision of Jannah for the believers as they “reminisce” about how they “used” to be insulted and mocked.
Note: The Quran is full of transitions.
وَإِذَا مَرُّوا بِهِمْ يَتَغَامَزُونَ
This verse shows that even though they ridiculed with just the eyes that was still a crime since they mocked the believers and made it obvious without uttering words.
وَإِذَا انقَلَبُوا إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِمُ انقَلَبُوا فَكِهِينَ
And then they return to their family full of joy.
فَكِهِينْ refers to those who enjoy as if they are still eating the fruit.
فَكِهِينَ comes from فَكِيْهَا which means fruit.
This same person who ran to his family full of joy shall be running away from them on the Day of Resurrection.
وَإِذَا رَأَوْهُمْ قَالُوا إِنَّ هَٰؤُلَاءِ لَضَالُّونَ
وَإِذَا رَأَوْهُمْ shows the distance between muslim and kaafir.
The kaafir shows pity upon the muslim out of stupidity and ignorance(since the believer shall reap the reward in Hereafter).
وَمَا أُرْسِلُوا عَلَيْهِمْ حَافِظِينَ
It is none of the disbeliever’s business that muslims may be lost since they are not appointed as watchers over them.
Disbeliever’s argument – Muslims are not in charge. So why are they objecting to us watching over them.
Response - وَإِنَّ عَلَيْكُمْ لَحَافِظِينَ . So someone is already appointed as a watcher over you.
فَالْيَوْمَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنَ الْكُفَّارِ يَضْحَكُونَ
This time the believers will laugh not only at the mujrim but also at all of the kuffaar who shall be objects of ridicule.
عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ يَنظُرُونَ
They will be reclining on high couches looking at the kuffaar who are making them laugh.
They will say to the kuffaar that didn’t you find our statements about Hellfire funny. I don’t see you laughing now.
هَلْ ثُوِّبَ الْكُفَّارُ مَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ
This final verse is loaded with sarcasm.
Did the disbelievers get their “wages” based on what they did?
This is just adding insult to injury.
An interesting thing to note is the word used for their actions:
يَفْعَلُونَ refers to doing an act without any thoughts(of consequences).
يَعْمَلُونَ refers to doing acts with some thought.
Ibn Al Jawzi when reading this final verse about have they been given what they deserved, said نَاعْم.