Surah Tariq Tafsir [part 1 of 2].
Nouman Ali Khan lecture - Student Notes.
It's Relation to the Previous Surah
Surah Tariq in relation to end of Surah Buruj - it's last aayah/verse is;
فِي لَوْحٍ مَّحْفُوظٍ
(Inscribed) in Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz (The Preserved Tablet)! [Buruj 85:22]
The Lauh al-Mahfuz, is a preserved tablet which contains the information of all that has and will occur uptill the Day of Ressurection. This is above our universe, and in the heavens/skies (the Samaa').
The samaa' is above us, so the end of the previous surah (mentioning the Lauh al Mahfuz) is related to the beginning of this surah (the samaa').
Surah Tariq starts with a Qasm/oath of "wal samaa'" I swear by the sky, and what is above us. Surah Buruj also starts like this;
وَالسَّمَاءِ ذَاتِ الْبُرُوجِ
By the heaven, holding the big stars. (Buruj 85:1)
Also, in surah Buruj, Allah says about the disbelievers;
وَاللَّهُ مِن وَرَائِهِم مُّحِيطٌ
While Allah encompasses them from behind. (Buruj 85:20)
And in this surah, Allah tells us;
إِن كُلُّ نَفْسٍ لَّمَّا عَلَيْهَا حَافِظٌ
There is no soul but that it has over it a protector. (Tariq 86:4)
Guardian over them / alayha hafiz.
So in both surahs - there is mention of humans being encompassed from every side by angels - who are against the human, and more specifically the disbeliever (especially the one hearing this for the first time in Makkah during the life of Prophet Muhammad (saws)) who opposes Islam (because they are writing his every deed down.)
The Theme in the Surah
The THEME in the surah is repeated in different ways, but it is specifically related to Journeying. This will be understood later on throughout the explanation of the surah insha Allah.
The Surah is divided into 5 sections.
Aqsaam (Allah swears by):
- the Samaa' / sky (what is above us)
- & the Tariq / piercing bright star. We will discuss this Tariq insha Allah.
Jawab al Qasam - every oath is given a response to. Ie. we say I swear by Allah... I'll do this etc.
So Allah swears by the samaa', and the Tariq.
What is the samaa'?
Samaa' literally means anything above us. Different to Samaawaat which is the 7 layers of the sky (sab'a samaawaat). (these are part of the unseen/ghayb, but we are in the lowest samaa'.)
So samaa' is more than sab'a smaawaat because it is everything above us (including Allah's 'Arsh [throne] which is above the 7 skies/sab'a samaawaat).
Samaa' - limitless term to everything above us.
Samaawaat - limited to the 7 skies.
Nevertheless samaa' can be limited i.e. samaa' al dunya (surah mulk 67:5), ie the sky of this world/universe.
The limit placed for Samaa' in this surah is al Tariq (the shining star in this universe).
Why does Allah swear by something?
Allah swears by anything to make it a witness [primarily]. Ie. the sky is a witness as to what I'm about to say.
The sky is also an intro as to what I am about to say.
What is al Tariq?
Tarq -- path [tareeq] -- striked [taraqa] -- a road which people, animals etc walk on alot -- their feet strike it alot.
Tariq - someone who specifically walks at night time. The arabs travelled at night because it was cooler than the heat at day.
When they reach a destination and knock on the door, they are an unexpected arriver.
That which arrives at night, = Tariq - causing alot of attention, because its rare to find someone arriving and knocking on your door at night.
In this surah, Tariq refers to the large brilliant stars in the sky.
Is it one star or many stars?
1) specifically one star. Ie Zuhal (seen by arab travellers in the last part of the night, as a highlight of their journey, they would call it the companion of that journey.)
2) all brilliant stars in sky because a general term is used.
Night is a relief for the arabs (its cool and relaxed), so seeing the sky embedded with pearls (stars) is the best scenery for them (in comparison to plain desert during the day.)
Tariq arrives at night and calls for their attention, so the piercing star in the samaa' (sky) does just this, perfectly.
This is what Tariq literally refers to.
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الطَّارِقُ
(wa ma adraka al tariq?) [past tense (adraka)]. Has anyone given you a clue as to what al tariq is?
He asks questions when the answer - usually - cant be known to human beings by themselves.
In Qur'an, there is a Difference in wording when Allah asks us questions:
Maa Adraka? (Has anyone made known to you...?). (past tense.) - He answers it
Maa Yudreeka? (What will tell you?) (present-future tense) - He doesnt answer it.
In this surah, the question is also posed to tell us that we dont know much about the Tariq (i.e. humans have been given a limited amount of knowledge) and cant really appreciate or comprehend it due to our limited capabilities.
[[ Recommended Eman booster: Dr. Abdul Hayy (works for NASA). Allah's Universe - on Youtube. Watch and refer to it. ]]
Allah says He has adorned the 1st heaven/sky with stars/lamps (surah mulk 67:4), In Surah Waqi'ah, Allah does a qasam/oath on the position of stars, and that it's a great oath indeed (Waqi'a 56:75-6).
This is only 1st samaa', and there are 7 smaawaat. Showing how limited we really are (so we shouldnt be arrogant of what little knowledge we have been given.)
What is Najm ul Thaqib?
(al Najm (star) ul thaqib.) thaqaba - blazing fire, light piercing.
Imagine the night a black blanket, with a hole in. If you cover your face with the blanket, and a window is in the room with daylight. The light will pierce through the hole and the light becomes strongly apparent and pierces through the blanket.
Light pierces through the sky from stars and travels through vast distances to reach your eyes.
Relation to the THEME in surah : Journeys.
- The surah mentions the word Taraqa/Journeying to describe a star.
- The surah then mentions the stars light, piercing the sky (samaa') for billions of miles to reach your eye.
- The surah shows how the star brightens the dark night = unveiling secrets.
Seeing Allah's signs through Different Perspectives:
Allah mentions Tariq in this surah, so they see the star from a new perspective. I.e. They were guided in travelling by mapping their journey through locations of big bright, piercing stars (Qawaqib). Maybe they will be guided by reflecting on a surah of the Tariq?
Allah uses psychology by making people reflect on what they already see of the world but from a different or deeper perspective.
Ie camels, mountains,stars are also mentioned by Allah repeatedly so that when we see them, we remember the Jawab al Qasam (response to the oath).
Jawab al Qasam in this surah:
إِن كُلُّ نَفْسٍ لَّمَّا عَلَيْهَا حَافِظٌ
There is no soul but that it has over it a protector. (Tariq 86:3)
Hafiz = one of 2 opinions; angels, or Allah Himself [based on Ayat ul kursi 2:255].
Alayha hafiz - angels guarding [our deeds] against you and writing all you do.
Like the piercing star is staring at you in the dark night, and it will unveil the secrets of darkness in the night (so the angels unveil the deeds of people on judgment day).
[If someone was to question about the day when the star is not apparent (and 'unable' to witness us), then Allah swore by samaa' (what is above us i.e the sky and anything above us) before that as a witness too.]
The word 'Kulu' was used to say that 'Every' soul has a hafiz, whereas Jamee' could also be used:
Kulu : everyONE. (this mentioned because everyone alone in their deeds.)
Jamee' : altogether in groups.
So Kulu is more relevant and powerful in its effect.
Alayha - this word is in middle of the verse [taqdeem] - specifically for us. Usually Alayha is at the end of a sentence (I.e. in kullu nafsin hafiz alayha), but by being in the middle, its focusing and emphasising that every nafs/self has its own guardian writing that specific nafs/selfs deeds down.
Nafsin - the word nafs is used because the human keeps secrets fi anfusi [in itself/his/herself]. It further emphasises that every nafs is responsible only for its own self and what it hides for itself. and although you keep secrets, kulu nafsin alayha hafiz - angels still write down what you do, whether you like it or not).
فَلْيَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ
So let man see from what he is created! (Tariq 86:5)
Fal yanzurul insanu min ma khuliq. [theme of male fluid travelling/journeying along a tareeq (path) to impregnate]
Fa - so as a result. So if you realise the above (there are piercing stars and angels as witnesses and guardians over you - recording your every action) and your skeptical about this, then;
Nazara (past tense). Yanzur (present) - to stare at something and think about it. Look carefully.
Ie. when Moses showed his hand glowing bright white light (bayddaa'), people were described in the Quran as Naazireen (staring for ages and in awe of its detail). (Shu'ara 26:33)
Irony: ("let insan look into what he was created from. ")
Insan is used because humans are forgetful of their origins, or if they hear the message - they usually forget it and move on in life. (Insan comes from a root of the word "Nasiya" to be forgetful.)
Humans run after fleeting world thinking he is high and mighty, when he was born from a fluid which, when it stains the clothes - it feels a nuisance and like a worthless goo, which we cant wait to clean up and get rid of.
"Min ma khuliq" - the ma there should really be a alif next to it, ie. "Min maa khuliq", but it doesnt - and thats done to belittle (tasgheer), because the human has been made from something so small & insignificant.
Furthermore, "khuliq" is used in the passive tense to humble the denying disbeliever even further. Instead of ("fal yanzurul insanu min ma khalaqahu Allah - so let the human stare at from what Allah created him from), Allah instead tells us that the human was created from something so low (which is a nuisance to us humans), that even He does not put His name next to it!
In Quran, why does Allah not mention His own name, but talk in the passive (like the example above)?
1) Allahs displeasure.
[ie. Allah says in surah al fatiha, the path of those "An'amta" (the Ta = Your pleasure - alayhim" upon them). So He associates Himself with those who are guided. But does not associate Himself with the maghdoobi alayhim (anger upon them), and the daaleen (misguided).
In this surah, Allah is so angry with the deniers forgetfulness of the truth, that He doesnt mention His name next to their existence.
2) If they're so forgetful to the fact that Allah created them, then temporarily put that issue to the side. The fact that they are made from something so insignificant, should make themselves reflect at how they originally were, and what Allah has given them (Allah even gives a human the ability to rule the world, when first he was just some liquid which someone wanted to wash off their clothes!).
The first few verses were about what you cant see (the angel guardians etc), but if you're skeptical - then this is something you can see - so reflect!
خُلِقَ مِن مَّاءٍ دَافِقٍ
(Khuliqa min maa'in daafiq).
He is created from a water gushing forth. (Tariq 86:6)
Maa' = water.
Daafiq: pushes/breaks/gushes through, this water then gushes through the private parts and the liquid journeys and impregnates the female.
Remember the Najm ul Thaqib (bright piercing star light, travelling so far)? Both are fulfilling the theme of Journey.
يَخْرُجُ مِن بَيْنِ الصُّلْبِ وَالتَّرَائِبِ
Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs: (Tariq 86:7)
(Yakhruju min bayni sulbi wa-taraa'ib.) the fluid gushes from between the chestbone and backbone.
A few verses ago, the arab non muslim at the time of Allah's Messenger (sal Allah alaihi wasalam) was seeing the star light travelling from billions of miles away, and now a few verses away - in total contrast - he is imagining and comparing how close the journey starts from where humans are produced inside the body.
Soon We shall show them Our signs on the furthest horizons, and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is truth. Is it not enough that your Lord witnesses all things?
End of surah tariq part a.
Surah Tariq Tafsir [part 2 of 2].
Nouman Ali Khan lecture - Student Notes.
In the previous aayaat/verses, we spoke about the things which Allah calls our attentions to in the skies, then in ourselves, showing our weakness - where we can't even explore those things in totallity (i.e. the stars which are billions of years away, or the depths of our innerselves) - even if we wish.
إِنَّهُ عَلَىٰ رَجْعِهِ لَقَادِرٌ
Then Allah says,
Inahu 'ala raj'ihee la qaadir, no doubt he is in complete control of returning it. What is this about?
Many scholars say; Returning the human being back to life after death.
But this is profound, because Allah talks about the fluid entering into the female, and out comes a child. So Allah talks about something dead (the fluid or sperms) entering, and coming out alive (a newborn baby).
Similarly, Allah causes the dead to enter the graves, and He causes them to come to life on Judgment Day. So surely, He can give life to the dead once again - in whatever state they might be (whether that's a fluid of sperm in the mothers womb, or a dead rotted body in the womb of the earth) - Inahu 'ala raj'ihee la qaadir (no doubt He is in complete control to return it to life again.)
Ina [Without doubt] - this word is used to address a people who won't even take this issue into consideration (I.e. They don't even want to think about the ressurection.)
hu [He] - Usually, the word 'he' is mentioned when the name of someone has been mentioned in the surah previously. But Allah hasn't been mentioned by name in this surah [like explained before - this is because Allah does not want to mention His name next to the arrogant deniers], but at the same time - it shows that the One who does the creation for the first time, is easily capable of doing it the 2nd time.
Now Allah says He is in complete control of returning it.
Like He said in the previous surah; Inahu huwa yubdi'u wa yu'eed (surah buruj) - Surely He is the one who originates it and brings it back.
So it's repeated in this surah; Inahu 'ala raj'ihee la qaadir. no doubt He is in complete control of returning it.
يَوْمَ تُبْلَى السَّرَائِرُ
Yawma tuBla assara-ir -
On the day when hidden things shall be made manifest,
the day when the secrets will be Balaa = tested/left out [pulled out and exposed to everybody]
Saraa'ir - sareera [singular] ((sirr = secret (its plural is Israar).)
But Sareera = [VERY well guarded secret, and it's plural is Saraa'ir (which is used in the verse).] A secret which is guarded so well, but even that secret will be exposed on the Judgment Day like open access information.
This is important because the theme of the surah is secrecy, and the previous surah of Buruj - the disbelievers were torturing the believers while being witnesses (shuhood) over what they did with them (i.e. mass genocide.) But what happens when nations commit mass genocide - they hide and guard the evidence of what they've done. But even these well guarded secrets (saraa'ir) in this life will be Balaa (exposed/pulled out) and made public and apparent.
It began with night, the stars are at such a distance, then what's so hard to believe that someone is a witness/hafiz here too (of angels.)
فَمَا لَهُ مِن قُوَّةٍ وَلَا نَاصِرٍ
Fa maa la quwatin wa laa naasirin - (Man) will have no power, and no helper.
If we look back on the surahs/chapters before this, we see that the disbelievers and tyrants would have massive armies and equipment to harm the believers.
In the previous surah, Allah tells us;
Has there reached you the story of the soldiers - [Those of] Pharaoh and Thamud? (Buruj 85: 17-18)
Why are power and helpers so important - especially on Judgment Day - which the disbelievers won't have? It's because when your guarded secrets become public - you need a defense, and power is strength for defense. This defense includes supporters and helpers against the one who opposes you.
Or let's look at a simple example of someone being in a hospital, if there leg is uncovered - they will try to cover it using their body power. But what if they don't have the strength (Quwwa) to do so? They will ask someone for help (nasr) to cover it for them. On the Day of Judgment, the person will have no power or helper, except for those whom Allah wills.
وَالسَّمَاءِ ذَاتِ الرَّجْعِ
By the sky (samaa') which returns (raj' - to return something). So the sky returns something.
What does it return?
We learn in tafsir that the sky returns rain over and over again. When the rain comes, it penetrates the earth - it forms rivers and oceans. And these oceans soon dry out (evaporation) - causing the sky to return [raj'] the rain which was evaporated earlier.
Another implication; Shaykh Zanadani is a contemporary scholar in science, who says that radiation is sent down from the Ozone layer, and satellite signals are too - the signal is sent from the sky (samaa' - space above us) to recievers on the planet, and these signals send back a response to the satellite in space. Allah knows best.
Classically this is referring to the water cycle.
وَالْأَرْضِ ذَاتِ الصَّدْعِ
Wal 'arddi dhaa tis-sad' -
And [by] the earth which cracks open,
This refers to:
cleaving open/ripping open - water coming from the sky, opening up the earth, water coming into contact with the seed - the seed is empowered - growing into a plant.
But if the earth refuses to tear open - there won't be any sun light that can enter to allow the plant to produce its own food and grow (photosynthesis).
So every plant/tree that grows - its a ripping of the earth ('arddi dhaa tis sad').
So Allah mentions another impregnation. First it was the fluid of the male man, which gushes forth that impregnates the woman.
Now Allah mentions a fluid which comes from the sky, that impregnates the earth - giving life of the plants and the trees.
In both cases, the dead are bought back to life.
So Allah parallels our creation, with the creation of the plant life - since we're all made from the same Creator.
After these oaths, there's a response [Jawab al Qasam] - What is the response?
إِنَّهُ لَقَوْلٌ فَصْلٌ
There's no doubt that it is truly a decisive word which is Fassl - decides between truth and falsehood.
Fassl - This literally means to separate two things so far apart - that you can distinguish them from each other. (i.e. if two branches are intertwined, you separate them apart to see the difference from each one.)
Now how does this Jawab/response have any relation to the previous oaths mentioned?
When Allah sends down rain from the skies/samaa', He also sends down revelation/wahy (from above the skies). The rain pours onto the earth, penetrating it and giving life to the dead plants, the same way - Allah sends down revelation from the samaa' (from above the skies) to penetrate into the hearts of the people, giving life to the dead hearts.
Sahih Muslim Book 030 [kitab al fada'il [book of virtues]], Number 5668:
Abu Musa reported Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying:
The similitude of that guidance and knowledge with which Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, has sent me is that of rain falling upon the earth.
There is a good piece of land which receives the rainfall (eagerly) and as a result of it there is grown in it herbage and grass abundantly.
Then there is a land hard and barren which retains water and the people derive benefit from it and they drink it and make the animals drink.
Then there is another land which is barren. Neither water is retained in it, nor is the grass grown in it. And that is the similitude of the first one who develops the understanding of the religion of Allah and it becomes a source of benefit to him with which Allah sent me. (The second one is that) who acquires the knowledge of religion and imparts it to others. (Then the other type is) one who does not pay attention to (the revealed knowledge) and thus does not accept guidance of Allah with which I have been sent.
So the example given of the rain is also referring to the revelation and its effects on the people. So the revelation affects some people in a good way, like rain produces good beneficial plants. Whereas rain can sometimes produce plants which are harmful with thorns etc. and are of no use to mankind, but instead harmful for them.
We also get to see that there are different types of people with knowledge; the fuqahaa (derivers of Islamic law), the muhaditheen (narrators of hadeeth), and some who don't go to the knowledge at all. The fuqahaa extract rulings/fataawa from the knowledge, and the muhaditheen are the narrators of hadeeth (Prophetic sayings), they themselves might not have the knowledge to extract rulings - but they do pass on the knowledge to others.
وَمَا هُوَ بِالْهَزْلِ
Wama huwa bilhazl
And it is not a thing for amusement.
It is not at all in any way Hazl.
Ma = strong negation
Hazl = being skinny or weak, therefore unable to do any work.
"kawlun hazl" = [speech which doesn't benefit although it might just be for useless entertainment.]
Allah is telling us that this Qur'an is not worthless speech, but it's something which produces beneficial results.
Fassl (mentioned earlier) - it also means that which leads to clear decisive action. So it's not intellectual entertainment which people refer to to just gain more knowledge of the world, but this Qur'an is Fassl - leads to real action based on knowledge.
This is also a threat to the disbelievers, that this is a decisive word which will not change - so your secrets will be exposed without you having any power or helpers on the Day of Judgment. So believe, or bear the consequences of your disbelief on Judgment Day.
We learn in the previous surah that Allah said;
بَلِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فِي تَكْذِيبٍ
But they who disbelieve are in [persistent] denial,
And one of the ways they belie it is by saying that it's "entertainment discourse" i.e. interesting talk, but that's all it is.
But Allah says;
وَمَا هُوَ بِالْهَزْلِ
Wama huwa bilhazl
And it is not a thing for amusement.
إِنَّهُمْ يَكِيدُونَ كَيْدًا
Innahum yakeedoona kayda
As for them, they are but plotting a scheme,
Inahum - No doubt that they... - i.e. don't be in doubt [Ina], but they [Hum] really are plotting against you. Be sure of it.
This has always been the case of the deniers wanting to get rid of the true message of Islam, since it is a threat to them. This included the assasination attempts against Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him), by the Quraysh in Makkah, and the Jews in Medinah.
Yakeedoona - Secret plot.
This is different from the word Makr, which is also used to mean 'plotting' (Surah Ibraheem 14:46).
Makr = misleading the opponent into thinking they're going to win, but making them lose in the end. It can be deceptive. But someone might question if Allah is really deceptive? The answer is that no, Allah is not deceptive. But Allah will Makr the disbelievers, when they Makr with the believers. So Allah avenges for the Muslims because of His love for them, and He is only giving the disbelievers what they themselves do against the believers.
So Kayd (yaqeedoon) has in it the element of secrecy, and Makr is about avenging using deceit.
Yakeedoona is mentioned in this surah instead of Makr because Yaqeedoona is a secret plot, matching in with the theme of the surah of secrecy (i.e. of the night star's [Tariqs] arrival, and the inside of the body where the male sexual fluid is produced etc. )
Kaydan [maf'ool mutlaq] - they (many groups) are making their secret plans and executing them.
So there are many different groups trying to plot against you (Muslims), because they have different ideas about how we should be removed from the face of the earth.
...thou wouldst think they were united, but their hearts are divided: that is because they are a people devoid of wisdom. (Qur'an Hashr 59:14)
Wa akeedu kayda
And I (too) am planning a plan.
Allah doesn't mention Inna in this verse because, Inna hints at some sort of effort that's required.
Allah simply says - meaning, I have a plan (singular) which takes over all their plans.
We also notice that throughout the whole surah, Allah hasn't spoken directly to the disbelievers. He's simply spoken to Allah's Messenger, and then through him to the believers. By not talking to the deniers, He's humiliating them i.e. they're not even worth talking to.
Imagine a teacher is criticizing another student for his bad behaviour, but he's talking to the other pupils instead of him directly. This is going to make the bad student feel humiliated. The same is the case in this surah, and in other surahs like it too.
فَمَهِّلِ الْكَافِرِينَ أَمْهِلْهُمْ رُوَيْدًا
Famahhili alkafireena amhilhum ruwayda
So give a respite to the disbelievers. Deal you gently with them for a while.
fa [so] - in response to their disbelief and oppression against you and My planning against them...
Mahal (tamheel [taf'eel/the process of - giving someone extra extensions in their deadline. (i.e. if someone is in debt and you do tamheel, you are extending their deadline to hand in the payment.)
Allah tells His Messenger to go easy on the disbelievers for a little while, and the irony is that this surah is a Makkan surah when it's Allah's Messenger whose actually going through the hardship!
Some scholars of tafsir/explanation mention that Allah means (to His Messenger); Don't get busy about avenging them, don't pray against them.
The irony; The Muslims are being oppressed, so Allah is telling His Messenger that He is encompassing the disbelievers (i.e. ready to punish them), but He tells us Messenger to be be relaxed on the disbelievers and give them abit of extra time - so you shouldn't make du'a against them (i.e. for their destruction like Prophet Nuh and Musa did). This equals to Allah's Messenger being in power, because if he prays against them - they will be destroyed.
We also learn the power of du'a in this surah.
Amhil (if'aal) [completion] - this is repeated for emphasis, and means 'let it go entirely', don't worry about it at all.
So when small things happen, let it go. Just let it go, because Allah has made His plot.
But Allah doesn't keep this permanent letting go a permanent thing, He says 'Ruwayda' at the end. Give them a 'little bit more time (the letter Ya between the Rawd signifies "little" i.e. Umayr is used for a 'little'
Umar)' . So give them a ' [ruwayd] 'little' extra time...
Because Allah has already designed the plan for Hijrah (migration to Medinah), and the battles of Badr, Uhud, Ahzab etc. in the future.
However weak you think you are, the truly believers are always in a situation of power.
The power of the du'a of Allah's Messenger would have been sufficient to wipe the Quraysh out, but Allah told His Messenger to be patient for a while because of His future planning.
End of Surahs Relation to Beginning of Surah
The surah began by addressing Allah's Messenger, and finishes by addressing Allah's Messenger alone (because these verses are always in the singular - so referring directly to Prophet Muhammad), and never talks to the deniers at all. This humilates the denier hearing this, and honours Prophet Muhammad (sal Allah alaihi wasalam) by giving him the attention.
It also mentions that every nafs/self has a hafiz/protector (of man's deeds), and even in their worldly plans, humans only have limited control over their decisions (because even when they plot, Allah is planning against their schemes.)
This is the end of Surah Tariq, and all the praise is for Allah.