Sura/Chapter:

Verse:    Count: 20
Tafseer/Commentary:
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Translations:
90: Al-Balad - البلد

90:1
[ Original ]
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ لَا أُقْسِمُ بِهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
I do call to witness this City;-
[ Saheeh International ]
I swear by this city, Makkah -
Tafseer Commentary

6130 The appeal to the mystic ties between the Prophet and his parent city of Makkah has been explained in the Introduction to this Surah. It is a symbol of man's own history. Man is born for toil and struggle, and this is the substantive proposition in verse 4 below, which this appeal leads up to.


90:2
[ Original ]
وَأَنْتَ حِلٌّ بِهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And thou art a freeman of this City;-
[ Saheeh International ]
And you, [O Muhammad], are free of restriction in this city -
Tafseer Commentary

6131 Hillun: an inhabitant, a man with lawful rights, a man freed from such obligations as would attach to a stranger to the city, a freeman in a wider sense than the technical sense to which the word is restricted in modern usage. The Prophet should have been honoured in his native city. He was actually being persecuted. He should have been loved, as a parent loves a child. Actually his life was being sought, and those who believed in him were under a ban. But time was to show that he was to come triumphant to his native city after having made Madihah sacred by his life and work.


90:3
[ Original ]
وَوَالِدٍ وَمَا وَلَدَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And (the mystic ties of) Parent and Child;-
[ Saheeh International ]
And [by] the father and that which was born [of him],
Tafseer Commentary

6132 A parent loves a child ordinarily: the father is proud and the mother, in spite of her birth pains, experiences supreme joy when the child is born. But in abnormal circumstances there may be misunderstandings, even hatred between parent and child. So Makkah cast out her most glorious son, but it was only for a time. Makkah was sound at heart; only her power had been usurped by an ignorant autocracy which passed away, and Makkah was to receive back her glory at the hands of the son whom she had rejected but whom she welcomed back later. And Makkah retains for all time her sacred character as the centre of Islam.


90:4
[ Original ]
لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ فِي كَبَدٍ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Verily We have created man into toil and struggle.
[ Saheeh International ]
We have certainly created man into hardship.
Tafseer Commentary

6133 Cf. "Man is born unto troubles as the sparks fly upward" (Job,5:7); "For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief (Ecclesiastes,2:23). Man's life is full of sorrow and vexation; but our text has a different shade of meaning: man is born to strive and struggle; and if he suffers from hardships, he must exercise patience, for Allah will make his way smooth for him ( 65:7; 94:5-6 ). On the other hand no man should boast of worldly goods or worldly prosperity (see verses 5-7 below).


90:5
[ Original ]
أَيَحْسَبُ أَنْ لَنْ يَقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ أَحَدٌ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Thinketh he, that none hath power over him?
[ Saheeh International ]
Does he think that never will anyone overcome him?
Tafseer Commentary

6134 See the end of last note. If a man has wealth, influence, or power, he should not behave as if it is to last forever, or as if he has no responsibility for his acts and can do what he likes. All his gifts and advantages are given to him for trial. Allah, Who bestowed them on him, can take them away, and will do so if man fails in his trial.


90:6
[ Original ]
يَقُولُ أَهْلَكْتُ مَالًا لُبَدًا
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
He may say (boastfully); Wealth have I squandered in abundance!
[ Saheeh International ]
He says, "I have spent wealth in abundance."
Tafseer Commentary

6135 The man who feels no responsibility and thinks that he can do what he likes in life forgets his responsibility to Allah. He boasts of his wealth and scatters it about, thinking that he can thus purchase the support of the world. For a time he may. But a rude awakening must come soon, for he bases his hopes on unsubstantial things. Or if he spends his substance on self-indulgence, he is weakening himself and putting himself into snares that must destroy him.


90:7
[ Original ]
أَيَحْسَبُ أَنْ لَمْ يَرَهُ أَحَدٌ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Thinketh he that none beholdeth him?
[ Saheeh International ]
Does he think that no one has seen him?
Tafseer Commentary

6136 Allah watches him, and sees all his acts and motives, and all the secret springs of his follies. But lest he should think the higher spiritual forces too remote for him, let him look within himself and use the faculties which Allah has given him. See the next verses following.


90:8
[ Original ]
أَلَمْ نَجْعَلْ لَهُ عَيْنَيْنِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Have We not made for him a pair of eyes?-
[ Saheeh International ]
Have We not made for him two eyes?

90:9
[ Original ]
وَلِسَانًا وَشَفَتَيْنِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And a tongue, and a pair of lips?-
[ Saheeh International ]
And a tongue and two lips?
Tafseer Commentary

6137 The eyes give us the faculty of seeing, and may be taken in both the literal and the metaphorical sense. In the same way the tongue gives us the faculty of tasting in both senses. Along with the lips, it also enables us to speak, to ask for information and seek guidance, and to celebrate the praises of Allah.


90:10
[ Original ]
وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And shown him the two highways?
[ Saheeh International ]
And have shown him the two ways?
Tafseer Commentary

6138 The two highways of life are: (1) the steep and difficult path of virtue, which is further described in the verses following, and (2) the easy path of vice and the rejection of Allah, referred to in verses 19-20 below. Allah has given us not only the faculties implied in the eyes, the tongue, and the lips, but also given us the judgement by which we can choose our way; and He has sent us Teachers and Guides, with Revelation, to show us the right and difficult way.


90:11
[ Original ]
فَلَا اقْتَحَمَ الْعَقَبَةَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
But he hath made no haste on the path that is steep.
[ Saheeh International ]
But he has not broken through the difficult pass.
Tafseer Commentary

6139 In spite of the faculties with which Allah has endowed man and the guidance which He has given him, man has been remiss. By no means has he been eager to follow the steep and difficult path which is for his own spiritual good. Cf. Matt. 7:14: "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (see also 1:6 and n. 22).


90:12
[ Original ]
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْعَقَبَةُ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And what will explain to thee the path that is steep?-
[ Saheeh International ]
And what can make you know what is [breaking through] the difficult pass?

90:13
[ Original ]
فَكُّ رَقَبَةٍ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
(It is:) freeing the bondman;
[ Saheeh International ]
It is the freeing of a slave
Tafseer Commentary

6140 The difficult path of virtue is defined as the path of charity or unselfish love, and three specific instances are given for our understanding: viz. (1) freeing the bondman, (2) feeding the orphan, and (3) feeding the indigent down in the dust. As regards the bondman, we are to understand not only a reference to legal slavery, but many other kinds of slavery which flourish especially in advanced societies. There is political slavery, industrial slavery, and social slavery. There is the slavery of conventions, of ignorance, and of superstition. There is slavery to wealth or passions or power. The good man tries to liberate men and women from all kinds of slavery, often at great danger to himself. But he begins by first liberating himself. (R).


90:14
[ Original ]
أَوْ إِطْعَامٌ فِي يَوْمٍ ذِي مَسْغَبَةٍ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Or the giving of food in a day of privation
[ Saheeh International ]
Or feeding on a day of severe hunger
Tafseer Commentary

6141 Feed those who need it, both literally and figuratively; but do so especially when there is privation or famine, literal or figurative, i.e., when or where the sources of sustenance, physical, moral, or spiritual,


90:15
[ Original ]
يَتِيمًا ذَا مَقْرَبَةٍ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
To the orphan with claims of relationship,
[ Saheeh International ]
An orphan of near relationship
Tafseer Commentary

6142 All orphans should be fed and helped. But ordinary orphans will come under the indigent in verse 16 below. The orphans related to us have a special claim on us. They should be near and dear to us, and if charity begins at home, they have the first claim on us.


90:16
[ Original ]
أَوْ مِسْكِينًا ذَا مَتْرَبَةٍ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Or to the indigent (down) in the dust.
[ Saheeh International ]
Or a needy person in misery
Tafseer Commentary

6143 Persons down in the dust can only be helped from motives of pure charity, because nothing can be expected of them-neither praise nor advertisement nor any other advantage to the helper. Such help is help indeed. But there may be various degrees, and the help will be suited to the needs.


90:17
[ Original ]
ثُمَّ كَانَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْمَرْحَمَةِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Then will he be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, (constancy, and self-restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion.
[ Saheeh International ]
And then being among those who believed and advised one another to patience and advised one another to compassion.
Tafseer Commentary

6144 Such practical charity and love will be the acid test of Faith and the teaching of all virtues. The virtues are summed up under the names of Patience (the Arabic word includes constancy and self-restraint) and compassionate kindness. Not only will they be the test by which the sincerity of their Faith will be judged: they will be the fruit which their Faith will constantly produce.


90:18
[ Original ]
أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Such are the Companions of the Right Hand.
[ Saheeh International ]
Those are the companions of the right.
Tafseer Commentary

6145 Cf. 56:27-40, also n. 5223. They will be those who achieve salvation.


90:19
[ Original ]
وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِنَا هُمْ أَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
But those who reject Our Signs, they are the (unhappy) Companions of the Left Hand.
[ Saheeh International ]
But they who disbelieved in Our signs - those are the companions of the left.
Tafseer Commentary

6146 Cf. 56:41-56, also n. 5223. They will be the unfortunate ones enveloped in the Fire of lasting Penalty, heaped over them and all round them.


90:20
[ Original ]
عَلَيْهِمْ نَارٌ مُؤْصَدَةٌ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
On them will be Fire vaulted over (all round).
[ Saheeh International ]
Over them will be fire closed in.

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