ON THE LAST SECTION QUR`AN
Chapter 83: Surat Al-Mutaffifin
Those Who Give Short Measure
the name of Allah,
the Beneficent, the Merciful
Woe to those who give short measure!
The root of mutaffifīn
is taffafa, which means
deficient, give short measure, be stingy'.
It implies imposing a deliberate injustice in a transaction. Tatfīf
This is a description of
the natural human tendency in trade and commerce to try to tip the
balance to one's own advantage, often unfairly. The traders of Mecca
and Medina were no different from any other businessmen at any time
Who, when they take the measure [of their due] from men, take
it in full --
The form root of
yastawfūn is istawfā, which means
'to receive in
full, complete, bring to its full value, fulfill'.
The root from which this form is derived is wafā, meaning
perfect, fulfill, gratify, suffice'.
Wafā`, from this same root means
In the story of the prophet Abraham (Ibrāhīm) who was
sometimes called Ibrāhīm wafā` (wafā` meaning here his
īmān, his faith), it is said that when he was being flung
into the fire he cried out, 'Hasbī Allāh' (Allah is
sufficient for me) and he remained unharmed by the fire. This is the
meaning of wafā`.
But when they measure or weigh out to others, they cause them
Yukhsirūn comes from the verb khasira,
'to incur a loss,
lose, go astray, perish',
When the mutaffifīn (those who give short measure) are
in a balanced situation of give and take, they cause loss for the
other party in the transaction and gain for themselves.
These three verses mean
the same thing: mutaffifīn, yastawfūn, and
yukhsirūn, reinforce each other with regard to man's tendency to
want to win all the time, They describe how we try to be clever in
our transactions. It is in our nature to want to win and gain in
every situation, and it is in the nature of the mu`min
(believer), or the Muslim, to recognize this tendency and to try to
redress it when he finds himself in any transaction with other
people who are potentially equal to him. Inflation occurs when one
tries to get more and give less. This applies to any situation now,
just as it did in Medina during the time of the revelation of the
Qur`an. If we relate to a community or society, then we take
cognizance of this human tendency to take more and give less, and if
a person is aware of it while he is doing it, then the chances of
his not being too greedy are greater, and he will remember to be
fairer in his transaction. Awareness of the imbalance is likely to
bring about justice. If we are aware of the injustice, then we may
be aware of the innate, lower nature of man within us.
The first verse says:
to those defrauders. Any action that is not in balance is fraud.
Imam Ghazali says that we must recognize that trade cannot occur
unless there be imbalance, that is, there is always an element of
profit present. Therefore, if we want to be honest traders, we must
recognize at all times this inherent tendency and accept that one of
the parties will have the upper hand. The best circumstance occurs
when both of the parties feel they have concluded a satisfactory
deal and that feeling does not change as soon as one of them leaves
the shop. Honest trade must stand the test of time. It must strike
the fairest balance possible, so that there is the least inflation.
To illustrate this
point, let us remember the man among the Followers (al-Tābi'ūn,
the second generation Muslims, the offspring of the Sahābah,
Companions of the Prophet) who had a goldsmith's shop. One day he
left it in order to go to the mosque to pray, entrusting his young
nephew to mind the shop until he returned. As the shopkeeper was
returning after the prayer, he saw a man, an obviously well-to-do
trader, walking in the opposite direction carrying several gold
bangles, which the man recognized as having come from his shop. He
approached the man and asked, 'Are you pleased with what you
bought?' The man replied, 'Yes, I am very, very pleased'. Then the
shopkeeper asked him how much he had paid for them. The man
answered, 'I paid 200 dirhams for this one, and 400 for that one. I
can sell these in my home town for double what I bought them for, so
I am very happy with them.' But the man said, 'No. I am not happy
because this rascal of a nephew has cheated you. I told him the
prices of these things. Please, I beg of you, come back to the shop
with me.' So the shopkeeper dragged the man back, paid him some
money to make up the difference, and dismissed his nephew. The
shopkeeper had set his price on his wares and was satisfied with
that price. The Prophet said,
'Sell, and make a
profit, even if it is just a modest profit.'
In this way there is dynamism and circulation, and people do not get
attached to what they own.
(those who give short measure) refers to all of us, because the
potential for fraud is in all of us. If the potential for being a
criminal were not in us, we would not be able to understand
criminality. If the potential for vulgarity were not in us, or the
potential for fear, then we would not understand their meanings
either. If divinity were not in us, how would we be able to talk
about the Divine Ocean? All of these are in us, and so we should not
say that the goldsmith's nephew was selfish. If this story were
merely historical and referred only to the people of Medina, then we
should not concern ourselves about it. The truth is, however, that
we always contain this potential, for it is the story of humankind.
Do they not think that they will be raised up again?
This verse shows the way
out of being imprisoned and enchained by our tendency towards
selfishness and greed.
resurrect, awaken, send, bring on'.
Here it means that they shall be called to account for themselves.
Who will be called to account to whom? We shall all be called to
account for ourselves. This of course refers to the Afterlife, but
it concerns this life as well. Either way, this accounting will take
place whether we like it or not. If we turn on a tap, whatever is in
the pipes gushes out; and the wider we open it, the more it flows
out. Thus, we shall simply build up more greed, more hatred, or
whatever is in us, because the system of creation lies in increase.
That is why Allah says,
encompasses all things' (7: 156).
Whether we like it or
not, whether it is good or bad, Allah creates in man the biggest,
most vulgar animal, but he also creates in man the most wonderful
character. It is up to us to choose to follow one of these
directions. We must not lose sight of the imprint of the sunnah
(way) of the creational reality.
On a Mighty Day --
Explicitly, this is a
reference to the Day of the End, or the day when we are left with
only our rūh (spirit, soul), on which has been
imprinted our intentions and our actions. This Great Day can also be
the day on which we are willing to completely take account of
ourselves, the day of our utter surrender, the day of our islām.
If we want to be freed from our own self-imposed chains, we should
be able to settle accounts at any time. We should in fact be willing
to settle our accounts even before we actually incur them. We can do
this by questioning the intention. By knowing our intentions before
performing an action, our accounts are always clear.
The Day men will stand before the Lord of all the worlds.
Yawma yaqūmu is
the Day on which we will stand up to the Lord of the worlds, to the
Highest, and be willing to face our accounts. If we are truly in
islām all the time, then we are always facing Rabbi'l-'ālamīn
(the Lord of all the worlds). Qāma, amongst many other
"to stand up, to
rise from the dead"
and implies that the actor is prepared to interact with that thing
for which he stood up.
This ayah refers to the
end of time in order to jolt us out of our present lethargy. It
means that there is an end, and that at the end we will be left with
nothing but our intentions.
Nay! Surely, the book of the wicked ones is in Sijjin.
The book of those who
are off the path is in Sijjīn. Fujjār (degenerates,
libertines) comes from fajara, which means
"to cleave, break
up, act immorally, indulge in debauchery."
Dawn is called fajr, because it breaks up the night. A man is
called fājir if he is off the path. This means that he is
corrupt, decadent, out of line. All of us are pearls on the same
string, and a pearl is only meaningful if it is connected on a
The root of sijjīn,
the register of immoral actions, is sajana, which means,
sijjīn is an exaggerated, more permanent and lasting
imprisonment. In some commentaries of the Qur`an, it is explained as
being another name for jahannam (Hell). It is a deep and
is what the culprit is writing with his life. He is the author of
his own biography, through his actions, which are instigated by his
intentions. The prisoner himself decides how many more chains and
shackles he will have.
The book is what is
written, and what is written is manifested by every one of us
through our actions. If our biographies are full of greed and
avarice, as mentioned in the second and third ayāt, and we
act only for personal gain and to establish control over others,
then we will be imprisoned by our actions. A man may desire to rule
a whole kingdom thinking it will bring him happiness, but as soon as
this desire is fulfilled, he will want to encroach upon the
neighboring kingdom as well. Is this desire not a shackle? Being
shackled has nothing to do with the object itself, but rather with
our feeling towards it. Sijjīn, our imprisonment, refers to
our mental situation and it concerns our happiness, our inner
freedom, and our fulfillment, which are only by-products of the
extent and sincerity of our islām and abandonment.
And what will make you realize what Sijjin is?
The verb adraka
reach, overtake, grasp, perceive, realize, mature."
It implies a knowledge that is deeper and more innate than acquired
discernment such as fiqh (knowledge, understanding, or
jurisprudence in Islam). One of the earlier meanings of faqīh
(expert on Islamic jurisprudence) was an expert who could tell if a
she-camel was pregnant or not. He had insight which could be
translated into an outer use.
Fiqh is the
knowledge of the application of haqīqah (truth), which
is what the sharī'ah (Islamic code of conduct) is. Adraka
is a bit more subtle. What the ayah is saying, in using that word,
is that through profound reflection understanding will come. We all
know what shackles are, what it is like to be under the weight of
expectations and disappointment. We must question our own hearts.
How did sijjīn, or our imprisonment, arise, and why is one
person's different from someone else's? It is because we prescribe
our particular situations for ourselves.
An inscribed book.
The root of marqūm
(written) is raqama, which means
"to write, to mark
with diacritical points, to imprint, number,"
but it also has the meaning of being
is absolute. Raqam means
So the book, or what it refers to, is quantifiable, written with
precision, and not just qualifiable.
Woe on that Day to those who deny!
The implication here is
that if someone denies the reality, or the story of existence and
creation, then he is a mukadhdhib (a liar). Then woe to him
on the day when he can no longer change himself and see the ultimate
reality, which means the day of his death. The meaning here is that
whoever denies haqq (the truth), which manifests
itself as justice, has denied that Allah created everything by
haqq, with justice and in balance. If a person acts out
of balance, then he is lying. A man who says, "I don't deny truth, I
uphold it," and yet acts to the contrary is in a state of kufr
(covering up, denial). There is no point in his saying, "I am a
muwahhid" (a unifier), since he acts as a mutaffif
(cheater, defrauder) and does not question the justice of his own
actions. Mukadhdhib means that someone's acts are contrary to
his words; there is a split. That is kidhb (a lie, deceit,
Those who deny the Day of Judgment.
of the dīn,
is the day when we are willing to pay our debt. It is the Day of
Reckoning, when our absolute form, which is the spirit, is laid
bare. This form cannot be described now, because it is the subtle
force which keeps us alive. Our understanding can only go so far and
no further, because it comes about by the container of the so-called
"I," which at that point will be dissolved entirely away.
And none denies it except the sinful transgressor.
I'tada, the root of
mu'tadin, is "to cross,
exceed, act outrageously."
Related to this
word are both the word
means "enmity, hostility,
antagonism, aggression." One transgresses
seeing the oneness
The word 'adūw
(enemy) does not necessarily
two parties but indicates that they
foreign to each
is no unity
It does not mean that they hate
each other, but rather
that they do not
enemy; we are enemies of that of which we are ignorant. From the
word i'tada, we can infer that our
denial is a result of our ignorance, and thus we see how we can
become enemies of ourselves.
done this, we are athīm
(sinful). Athima means "to
a sin or
this is done by our ignorance and enmity which causes us our
and lies. Athama involves
doing what we are not permitted to do. Ithm means
Gambling, then, is considered
by engaging in it we
address a system other than what
is prescribed by reality, which is mercy and justice and, therefore,
we commit a crime. By addressing
ourselves to a system of injustice
we are making
of it. When two people call out different
and then one of them
suddenly wins money,
and the other loses, it is called
In fact, there is nothing accidental. There is always action and
are equal and
When our signs are recited to him, he says: tales of the
refers to a situation that is repeated even now when modern people
say that because this surah came down in Madinah hundreds of years
ago, it cannot apply to our present condition; it is all just a tale
of the past.
Nay! What they earned is rust upon their hearts.
possession -- of the heart,"
as well as,
overcome, descend, prevail."
What they earned was made easy on their hearts. As was said earlier,
whatever path we choose is made easy for us. If we are criminals,
this way will be made easy for us because we will somehow always
justify our own actions. If our hearts follow any direction
whatsoever, then they have become possessed by that. That is why it
is said that by keeping the company of certain people for forty
days, a man will become like them, for people comprise an ecology.
We must not think that we are different from anyone else, isolated
and separate. For some very sensitive people, it might take only two
hours to become like the people with whom they associate. In fact,
in this culture, those who are in the profession of public relations
are called "out-going," "extroverted," or gregarious," which means
that they are like the chameleon, instantly taking on the color of
the people with whom they seek to work.
Nay! Surely, that day they are veiled from their Lord!
The meaning of this ayah
is that in the next life they are veiled, and there is a barrier
between them and the final, total recognition of Lordship, of
Sustainership. This means that they have not acquired enough
knowledge to prepare themselves sufficiently in this life in order
to enter that other additional exposure and purification which will
take place in the next life. They have not prepared the way for
themselves to move on in the next experience; they have not acted in
such a way as to purify their state and to be able to continue
gaining knowledge. The Qur`an says,
creation will be according to what you know,"
and what one knows is one's state here and now. So the people who
have denied, the people who have been in kidhb (deceit,
falsehood), the people who have been constantly unjust and out of
balance here will be in a state of separation in the next life
because they have been in that state here; they have lived in
denial, hidden behind a veil.
Then they will surely enter the burning fire.
connect, join, enter, reach."
Originally it meant
The word is not related linguistically, but it echoes the word
salā by a similarity of letters, which means
The root of jahīm
is jahama, which means
"to light a fire"
and it is used because the fire which they will enter is the one
which they had originally ignited in this life. Jahīm
"fire," and here
it refers to the hell with which we are threatened by doomsday-mongerers,
as well as the hell that we understand as normal human beings. When
our hearts are agitated, when we burn with anger, or when we seethe
with desire, we experience aspects of hell on earth. Here it means
that these people will reach the Fire by grilling themselves in
their own self-ignited hell.
Then it will be said: This is what you denied.
Then they will realize
that this is the truth they denied, for if truth is not realized at
the present moment, it will be realized at the moment of death. This
means that it already existed, but they denied it. The fire of
agitation, anger, and hate was already here, but they denied it. The
truth exists at all times; it is not subject to time. It is only
personal and individual greed, or hunger, or desires that change
with time. Truth does not change with time, but what we desired as
children is not what we desire now, for example. All worldly desires
are relative, passing, cyclical, whimsical. The truth of desire is
its whimsicality; the truth of its nature is its transience. The
truth about man is that there is always the potential of lingering
doubt in his heart. It is not to demean him:
"I swear by Time;
most surely, man is in a state of loss" (103:1-2).
This is the truth of it, and we must become aware of that truth in
order to move into the One and Only Truth that encompasses it.
Nay! Surely, the book of the righteous is in 'IIIiyyin.
Kallā in this
ayah is like a warning and means
The ordinary meaning of Kallā is
In each case in which this word appears, it intervenes between two
ideas which normally clash. It is not the same as lā, which
just, kind" and
comes from the same root as barr, which means
Abrār then refers to
"those who are in
a state of expanse,"
are correct." It
also denotes loyalty. Not every barr is a desert, but every
desert is a barr, a plain. Barr can be any open
expanse which is not cultivated. Barr is a place in which
there are no obstructions, nothing is hidden. The barr of the
Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula is absolute empty space, whereas
their sea (bahr) contains everything.
"Those who are
correct are in 'Illīyyīn."
'Illīyyīn comes from the verb 'alā, meaning
"to be high,
elevated, tower up, to rise, excel,"
amongst other things. This means that the correct ones are so light
and removed from the gross state that they are in 'Illīyyīn,
elevated in lofty places. Allah is al-'Alī (the Most High);
it is one of His Divine Names. The barrī is one who is
truthful to his heritage, and since his heritage is Allah, he is
with Allah, What has been written for him, or what he has written
for himself, is exalted. Anything that is high, containing the
attribute of greatness, is 'alī.
And what will make you realize what 'IIIiyyun is?
"Wonder about it,
think about it!"
We must think about that extremely subtle source from which we have
come and not talk about the rūh (the spirit)
unthinkingly, What is that subtle essence which said: Kun
fa-yakūn ("Be! And it is.")?
An inscribed book.
This refers to a written
book, that is, a known, evident and clear situation, or a known and
Those who are close (to Allah) will witness it.
This refers to those who
are close to reality. Reality, or Allah, is not found in one
particular place where we have to go in order to be near. It says in
"I am closer to
you than your jugular vein" (50:16).
What is stopping us from knowing Allah is ourselves. We are far
because of the so-called "I" which constantly asserts itself. We
must kill our "self" first while still alive, through surrender. We
must be willing to totally surrender, from our hearts, if even for
one moment. All the practices of the people of Allah are nothing but
techniques to enable us to reach that state, to sit still with no
thoughts, and to be pure energy.
"Those who are
close..." Why are
we far? We are far because of all the things which we interpose
between ourselves and our Creator. This is a very simple, easily
understandable condition. It has to do with pure action; it is a
leap we must make. For this reason, when people first entered into
islām they quickly became very close to the Prophet, salla-Ilāhu
'alayhi wa āIIihi wa sallam. They did not have to go to a
university for five years to get a higher degree in "Islamic
Studies," because one is either living in islām or out of
islām. How can people study islām from outside? It is not
possible. It is for this reason that islām will never be
understood by people except those who are totally and utterly in it.
People are curious, for
example, about the "Islamic Resurgence," but they will never be able
to understand its profound meaning. "Islamic Resurgence" lies in the
fact that man is always seeking his Creator, so it will always
"resurge." "Islamic Resurgence" means evolution and that has to come
about because man wants to know. It is not enough for man to be
pampered materially as he has been for the last fifty years in the
West. He will not be satisfied with it. As one prominent Imam of the
East says, "The West is the culture of the refrigerator," implying
that the center, or heart, of the house is no longer the warm
burning fire in the hearth, but rather, the refrigerator in the
kitchen. His words also refer to the heart of the woman of the
house. It is frozen. How can these people, therefore, possibly
The Companion Salman
al-Farsi, 'alayhi-s-salām, heard about the Prophet and said
to himself, "This man will give me knowledge, he will teach me about
Allah." On the way to see him, however, he was captured as a slave
and Abu Bakr bought him. He became a Muslim and in almost no time at
all the Prophet, salla-Ilāhu 'alayhi wa āIIihi wa sallam,
was heard to say of him,
"Salman is of my
had similar experiences which are really a result of the condition
of the heart. If the heart is in such condition as to be willing to
give up what it does not own, the most sought-after and precious
thing, life itself, then the heart is in its purest state. Now, the
word condition, from the point of view of the people of Allah, means
station, not a mood. A mood is a passing phase, something which we
occasionally taste. If the heart is surrendered in submission, it
can see the Book, because the Book is engraved therein.
Certainly, the righteous are in bliss.
Those who are in that
state of righteousness are in na'īm (happiness, delight,
comfort, peacefulness). Now ni'mah (blessing, favor), which
is related to na'īm, has a very subtle meaning, and the
closest English equivalent is
because grace is the subtlety of what comes to us later on in the
creational cycle. All of us say na'am, which means
to ni'mah. That is why the Prophet, salla-Ilāhu 'alayhi wa āIIihi wa sallam,
said, "If I
had known what was good for me, I would have chosen only those
situations which would have been beneficial to me,"
revealing his two major attributes: he was a man both of humanity
and of divine purity. These two aspects are what make us a
barzakh (an interlink between realities).
couches gazing --
The state of reclining
on couches means being in a neutral situation, implying that there
is neither distraction nor any awareness of outer discomfort.
see," "they witness."
In the Qur`an, the first thing that is said about the highest
mission of humanity, which of course is the mission of all the
"Surely We have
sent you as a witness," (33:45).
The ayah then continues
"and as a bearer
of good news and as a warner."
In this one ayah is encapsulated the three basic missions of a
The witnesser is
neutral. He is not going to step in and stop a fight because he is
just an observer. Seeing, witnessing, implies that he has knowledge.
When we exclaim, "Oh, I see!" we express insight and knowledge. In
this ayah they are in knowledge, because they are muqarrabūn,
they are close. They are the eye of witnessing itself. When Amir al-Mu`minin
Sayyidna 'Ali, 'alayhi-s-salām, was asked,
"Have you seen
"Have some respect! Be correct! How can I worship a Lord Whom I have
not seen?" He
meant that he had seen Him with his heart, in haqq al-yaqīn
(truth of certainty), not with his eyes.
will recognize in their faces the brightness of bliss.
We will see the joy
radiating from their faces. They will beam the joyfulness of
tawhīd, because they have been connected all the time.
They are given to drink a nectar that is sealed --
"to water, give
drink to." Rahīq
nectar that those who have reached the goal drink of is complete.
This means that there is nothing more that can be added to it or
subtracted from it. It is complete fulfillment.
One can only seal something that is complete. The Prophet Muhammad,
salla-Ilāhu 'alayhi wa āIIihi wa sallam, was the "Seal
of the prophets," meaning that with his advent everything that has
come before has been perfected and sealed.
The sealing of it is musk, and for that let the aspirers aspire.
and musk, apart from being an aromatic perfume in its own right,
functions as a fixative. Thus here, the seal is a fixative. Musk is
derived from the glands of the musk-deer whose natural properties
are still a scientific puzzle to us. We still do not know how musk
manages to fix a scent, but without it a perfume's smell would just
disappear. When the ayah says,
"its end is musk,"
it is a statement implying that it is fixed. The echo of this ayah
is that the end of the journey, the end of the situation of
recognizing ni'mah, lingers on, is fixed, and sealed. It
evokes a permanent state of ni'mah.
"For that let the
If we are in competition in this manner, then all we have is our
nafs (self). We can win the race in this world only by
exhausting our nafs. When we attain the highest degree of
knowledge, we reach Allah, Who was the Beginning all along. We
appear to ourselves as mobile biological entities who are gradually
consumed and oxidized. The more we drop our nafs and
surrender ourselves, however, the more we find that this surrender
leads us to apparent infinity and nothingness, which existed at the
time of creation. Zero and infinity, nothing and the infinite -- we
can only go stepwise to a certain point beyond which we cannot
reach. For at that point infinity is no longer approachable by steps
or stages. At first we can get close to Allah step by step through
our own efforts and awareness, but we reach a point where we need a
And the admixture of it is from a water coming from above,
"a water coming
because it is the name of a river in the Garden which comes from the
highest part of heaven. The root of tasnīm is sanima,
"to be tall
(a camel), to ascend, mount."
Sanām, from the same root, is the camel's hump -- the highest
part of a camel.
The Garden is often
referred to as having rivers which are fed from under the ground.
The reference here is to another river, or energy-stream, that comes
from above, from on high. Thus, this ayah is saying,
"Let them go fast
toward that state..."
That state is one of elevated closeness to Allah.
A spring from which drink those who are close (to Allah).
The drink that issues
from this spring is not an occasional one, but a continuous one. A
spring implies something that always issues from a particular
opening. When a person is close to the source from which all these
things emanate, he is close to Allah, to the knowledge of the
source, and to the essence from which all these attributes emanate.
fountain) also means
important man, leader, property, capital asset."
When it rains for more than five days, the Arabs call this period an
'ayn, because it is like a spring from heaven. 'Ayn is
also used in connection with one's resources, funds or wealth. When
Sayyidna 'Ali, 'alayhi-s-salām, advised his governor in
Egypt, he said,
"And you should
appoint 'uyūn (plural of 'ayn),"
meaning, "You should insure that those whom you have appointed, who
are supposed to insure justice, have people to observe and inspect
them." This does not imply spying, for spying is done secretly,
whereas this statement implies open observation. When someone knows
that inspectors are going to observe him, he behaves correctly and
is thus stopped from acting wrongly. Sayyidna 'Ali told his governor
to appoint 'uyūn in order to extend his field of vision.
Surely, those who are guilty used to laugh at those who believe.
Ajramū comes from
the verb ajrama,
"to commit a
crime, harm." The
rise of the ego is the crime. The assertion that we are separate
is the crime. This ayah refers to those who have committed a
crime, and the crime is basically against themselves. Those who
commit crimes against themselves are very capable of committing a
crime against others. A crime committed against oneself may not be
evident to the doer, while a crime against others is more obvious.
The kāfir (he who
covers up the truth, either inwardly or outwardly) laughs at those
who are in īmān (belief, trust). Those who have trust know
that life is not meaningless, that there is justice and
haqq (the truth, reality). Laughter is basically
self-congratulation. When we laugh we are at peace within ourselves,
we are at the source, and everybody wants to be at the source. Those
guilty of causing harm laugh at those who believe to reassure
themselves, sinking back into their self-satisfaction.
And when they passed them by, they winked at one another.
Again, they do this to
reassure each other, to be able to say, "Oh, we know they are the
fools," Man always wants reassurance. People wink to communicate to
one another that somebody has done something wrong, has gotten off
the path, or has gone a bit mad. In this case the wink refers to
someone who has become a Muslim. Winking is a more subtle
reassurance than laughing, for laughter can be more easily
And when they turned back to their people, they turn back
symbolize the security and comfort of familiarity, as in the earlier
example when the Prophet, salla-Ilāhu 'alayhi wa āIIihi wa
is of my family,"
He was not a blood relative of the Prophet's family but, as we know,
some of us are closer to our friends than to our own brothers. When
Arabs want to welcome someone, they say, Ahlan wa sahlan,
"Welcome, you have come to your family," or in other words, "Be at
ease, relax, belong!" If we cannot belong in an existential way,
then how can we belong in a total, abstract way to our lord, to
Allah? If one is at ease in a mosque, then one will be at ease when
closer to Allah.
exalting, making merry."
Again, this is an implication that at all times and in all
circumstances we want to have reassurance. We are ecological beings;
we want to be in the right environment. If we are liars, like those
described in this ayah, we will return to our people in order to
gain reassurance and tranquility.
And when they saw them, they said: Surely, these are in error,
We are either moving
toward the fossilization of our egos, or else we are freeing
ourselves of them. We cannot be neutral and stationary because in
reality there is no neutrality. We are either progressing or
regressing. From the moment of our birth, we are continually
regressing. Each moment we are biologically closer to the grave.
Inwardly, spiritually, it is up to us to either regress or progress.
Progress is made not only through struggle, but ultimately through
true self-abandonment. The struggle, therefore, is one against the
lower nature, The essence of Reality, however, is already within us.
And they were not sent as guardians over them.
Who are these people in
denial? The specific reference in this ayah is to those who are
lost, those who deny the truth, the mutaffifīn. They
only concern themselves with the existential situation, denying the
ākhirah (next world), absolute judgment and justice. They
cannot, however, keep the truth hidden. Although they are in
darkness, it does not mean that they can control the truth.
So this day those who believe will laugh at those who
This refers to the Day
of Judgment, when everything will be open and revealed. On this day
the people who were in īmān will be joyous, they will see
tawhīd and will reunite with what they knew before. Those
who are in a state of trust laugh at kufr. The time when we
discover our īmān fully will be a minor day of resurrection
for us. We will laugh so much that it will not even be visible on
our faces. Our laughter will be so deep that it will be beyond
laughter. It will be a moment when we reconnect with the glimpse of
real tawhīd we had in this world. Laughter is the
expression of reconnecting with something we have known before.
On raised couches, gazing.
They will see the
truth which they believed in when there are no more outer
disturbances, when the truth is clear, when nothing stops them from
seeing the truth. This sight will confirm their belief and will
bring about a state of pure relaxation, which is the inner state of
laughter. Laughing brings about contentment and is in turn an
expression of contentment brought about by recognition.
Surely the disbelievers are rewarded for what they used to do.
first root form of thawwaba is thāba (to return)
which, to the Arabic speaker's ear, sounds very similar to tāba
(to repent, renounce, turn away from), which also connotes returning
from ignorant, misguided ways to healthy knowledgeable ones.
for obedience and one way to that is through tawāb,
This ayah asks us to
reflect deeply upon our intentions, to see why we did what we did,
thus finding that we were rewarded one hundred percent according to
our intentions. If our intentions are pure, then the reward cannot
"Is the reward of goodness ought but goodness?" (55:60).
How then can we hide our intentions? Everything in life is perfect
because perfection is within us.
End of the Surah