This is post #33 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series). This is the first of two posts on the tafseer of Surah Balad.

Allah says:

لَا أُقْسِمُ بِهَذَا الْبَلَدِ

Translation: I swear by this city (Makkah) … [Surah Balad, verse 1]

“Laa uqsim” literally means, “I will not swear by.” in Arabic language, it means “this thing is so truthful, I almost don’t even have to swear by it.” It’s translated as “I swear by.”

Then Allah says:

وَأَنتَ حِلٌّ بِهَذَا الْبَلَدِ

Translation: And you, [O Muhammad], are free of restriction in this city … [verse 2]

“Anta hillu” means “you are free.” It’s a slight at the mushrikeen, that this place (Makkah) is honourable and noble because the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) is here, and they should listen to him and accept him instead of trying to kick him out and kill him.

It also indicates a time where the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) was allowed, for about an hour, to fight in Mecca–something even the mushrikeen considered haraam.

Then Allah says:

وَوَالِدٍ وَمَا وَلَدَ

Translation: And [by] the father and that which was born [of him] … [verse 3]

There are two opinions about what this verse means; one is that it means Adam (alayhi salaam) and his children; the other is that it means any parent and child. Allahu a’lam, the second opinion is stronger–that the relationship between the parent and child is mu’adhham sharan, of noble and lofty status in the Shari’ah.

Then Allah says:

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي كَبَدٍ

Translation: We have certainly created man into hardship (kabad). [verse 4]

Indeed, We created humans into Toil

Indeed, we have certainly created mankind into hardship/toil.

If you check Tafseer ibn Katheer, you’ll find a lengthy explanation of the encompassing meanings of this ayah; among other things, it means hardship in being born, and hardship in enduring life, and hardship in working to earn a living, and hardship in the hereafter (on the Day of Judgment).

This is really, for me, one of the cruxes of this surah. There’s even double emphasis on this ayah to draw attention to it–in addition to all the aqsaam (oaths) above!

Every single human being, young or old, man or woman, of any culture you can name, goes through hardship in their lives.

In Mecca, the companions were tortured and killed. They went through that kabad for the sake of Allah; but other people just go through it.

Think and reflect on this. Why are you going through the kabad in your life? If you try and have a good, sincere intention for everything you do, then insha’Allah you will earn a reward for all of it.

If not … well, as they say, “life just happens.”

Then in verse five, Allah continues:

أَيَحْسَبُ أَن لَّن يَقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ أَحَدٌ

Translation: Does he think that never will anyone overcome him? [Surah Al-Balad, verse 5]

This is something you see very strongly in youth and kids–they think they’re invincible. They do crazy, daring things. “But you could get hurt,” you protest. “Me? I won’t get hurt,” they reply.

Qatadah, one tabi’ee, commented on this verse and mentions that it applies to wealth–that humans think nobody is able to take away his wealth; and that he denies that he will be asked by Allah how he earned it and how he spent it.” [Tafseer ibn Katheer]

Allah (‘azza wa jal) continues:

يَقُولُ أَهْلَكْتُ مَالًا لُّبَدًا

Translation: He says, “I have spent (wasted) wealth in abundance.” [verse 6]

This is something we see very clearly in Israel–they have a budget of billions of dollars to kill the Muslims. Even in the seerah, we know that by the middle of the Medinan period (around 6AH), the mushrikeen were exhausted financially–all that wealth they spent, thousands of dinars in Badr, Uhud, Khandaq, and other battles–all wasted wealth that brought them no benefit.

Then Allah says:

أَيَحْسَبُ أَن لَّمْ يَرَهُ أَحَدٌ

Translation: Does he think that no one has seen him? [verse 7]

This verse is a motto you should take for your life. Whenever you want to sin, reflect on this verse:

Does he think nobody sees him?

Because Allah sees everything; you can’t hide from Him (subhannahu wa ta’ala). Try and keep this in mind as you go through your life from day-to-day. It will increase you in taqwaa, insha’Allah.

Wallahu ta’ala a’lam.


  • Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.
  • Tafseer ibn Katheer: