Note: this is our 11th post in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma.
Allah says, in Surah Fajr:
فَأَمَّا الْإِنسَانُ إِذَا مَا ابْتَلَاهُ رَبُّهُ فَأَكْرَمَهُ وَنَعَّمَهُ فَيَقُولُ رَبِّي أَكْرَمَنِ
وَأَمَّا إِذَا مَا ابْتَلَاهُ فَقَدَرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقَهُ فَيَقُولُ رَبِّي أَهَانَنِ
Translation: And as for man, when his Lord tries him and [thus] is generous to him and favors him, he says, “My Lord has honored me.” But when He tries him and restricts his provision, he says, “My Lord has humiliated me.” [Surah Fajr, verses 15-16]
You’ll notice here, Allah is commenting on the mentality of the human race. When Allah gives … the human being says: “My Lord has honoured me.”
Because it’s all about wealth … money … dunya. This is the metric we use. You see the president of a country? You’re very respectful. If the same president was a homeless bum asking you for change? You wouldn’t even look at him. We equate money with respect and honour … as Allah points out.
And the flip side? When Allah constrains the rizq, the human being says: “My lord has humiliated me.”
Notice … really notice, this person, what is his metric of honour or humiliation? It’s money. Wealth. Dunya! Nothing but shallow, shiny dunya, that will come to an end in a day or two, or maybe a year or two.
Lesson: The test starts in the good times, not just in the bad times. We recognize that 9⁄11 was a test; but we don’t realize that 9⁄10 and 9⁄9 and all those other days were a test, too–a test of thankfulness. But, as we saw in Surah ‘Ala, and again we’ll see in Surah ‘Aadiyaat, human beings prefer dunya over akhirah. They’re not thankful.
Then Allah says:
Kalla! A very strong, emphatic no–the same word you use if your child pulls something hot off the stove. Allah says: this understanding is wrong. Dead wrong. And in ayah 20, Allah says:
وَتُحِبُّونَ الْمَالَ حُبّاً جَمّاً
Translation: And you love wealth with immense love.
Again, the theme of wealth, appearing again and again. So where is this going? Allah continues:
كَلَّا إِذَا دُكَّتِ الْأَرْضُ دَكّاً دَكّاً
وَجَاء رَبُّكَ وَالْمَلَكُ صَفّاً صَفّاً
وَجِيءَ يَوْمَئِذٍ بِجَهَنَّمَ يَوْمَئِذٍ يَتَذَكَّرُ الْإِنسَانُ وَأَنَّى لَهُ الذِّكْرَى
يَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي قَدَّمْتُ لِحَيَاتِي
Kalla! When the earth has been leveled – pounded and crushed – and your Lord has come and the angels, rank upon rank, and brought [within view], that Day, is Hell – that Day, man will remember, but what good to him will be the remembrance? He will say, “Oh, I wish I had sent ahead [some good] for my life.” [Surah Fajr, verses 21-14]
It goes to the Day of Judgment. Kalla! when the earth has been pounded (dukkat), dakkan dakka–with a pounding after pounding after pounding. Grammatically, it’s not emphasis–it’s pounding after pounding.
“And your Lord comes, with the angels, saffan saffa,” lines after lines of angels. How many angels? In one hadith, the Messenger of Allah said: “Hell will be brought forth that Day by means of seventy thousand ropes, each of which will be held by seventy thousand angels.”[Saheeh Muslim] [source]. Do the math–that’s almost 5 billion angels. That’s a lot of angels! What an enormous creation Hellfire is!
And then Allah says: “That Day, man will remember, but what good to him will be the remembrance?” This is the end-result. The why of sending all the prophets, the reason behind all those MSA events, halaqahs, classes, conferences, khutbahs … reminder after reminder, but we just don’t want to be reminded. That day, we will feel the reminder, when we see the Day of Judgment, and all its doings.
One last point to conclude, is that the human says “hayaatiy,” my life, when he feels sad about what his hands sent forward. Why? Because this is his real life. This is what life is–dunya is only a testing-grounds for 10, 20, maybe 50 or 70 years, then life, real life, begins. And we already discussed what kind of life the people of Hellfire are in, wa na’oodhubillah, may Allah protect us from that evil end.
This is a wake-up call to all those parents who don’t let their sons and daughters fast in Ramadan for fear of failing exams; to all those employees who won’t go to jumu’ah for fear of losing their jobs; to all those students who refuse to talk to their professors to get five minutes out for salah in the middle of an exam and choose to miss it.
You won’t ruin your life …
… but you might ruin your afterlife. And that’s the real life, khaalideena fiyhi abadan, for ever and ever and ever without end.
- Realize the reality of honour and wealth. Is there someone in your life you’re snubbing because they’re a bit lower-class than you in terms of money? Reconcile with them for the sake of Allah; especially if they’re practicing. Encourage them to be and do good.
- Prepare for your life. You only have a few years left–maybe even a day or two. Start preparing. The best preparation is salah–start praying now, don’t miss another one! Pay any back-dated zakah you missed; start fasting Mondays and Thursdays; and ask Allah to accept it. Without that, what is dunya, except a blink of an eye?
- The tests have already begun. You have food, shelter, a computer, friends, family–lots of things to be thankful for. Are you being thankful? Make du’a, sujood-ash-shukr, donate, whatever you can–because thankfulness is manifested in actions. The test starts now, not when you get hospitalized or you lose your job or flunk your class.
Arabic Grammar and Vocabulary:
- Hayaatiy (حَيَاتِي): Hayaa means, among other things, life. The yaa at the end, yaa-u-mutakallim, makes it my life–just like kitaabiy is my book, or nafsiy is my soul. (Also notice, the ta-marbuwta, the funny-face thing at the end, became a taa.)
- Al-Insaan (الْإِنسَانُ): Humankind. Some scholars say the word is derived from the verb nasiya, which means to forget–because humans forget. Insaan means the entire human race, the same as an-naas.
- Al-Aard (الْأَرْضُ): The earth. Sounds a lot like “Earth,” in English, doesn’t it? Technically speaking, this is one of the few feminine words that doesn’t end in ta-marbuwtah.
- Al-Malak (الْمَلَكُ): Malak means “angel,” and the plural is “malaikah.” Notice the alif-lam, AL-malak, means the angels.
- Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.