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In the Shade of the Qur'an - Surah # 96

In the Shade of the Qur'an - Surah # 96
Syed Qutb

           In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

  Read in the name of your Lord who created, created man from clot
  of blood. Read ! your Lord is the most Bounteous, Who has taught
  the use of the pen, has taught man what be did not know. Indeed,
  man tyrannises, once he thinks himself self sufficient. Surely to
  your Lord all things return. Observe the man who rebukes a servant
  of Allah when he prays!  Think: does he not follow the right guidance
  and enjoin the piety? Think: if he denies the truth and turns his back,
  does he not realise that Allah sees all? Let him desists or We will
  drag him by the forelock, his lying, sinful forelock. Then let him
  call his henchmen. We will call the guards of Hell. No, never obey
  him, but prostrate yourself and draw closer to Allah.
                         In the Shade of the Qur'an

It is universally agreed that the opening of this surah was the first
Qur'anic revelation. The accounts stating that other verses were re-
vealed first are not authentic. Imam Ahmad transmits the following
hadith attributing it to Aisha, the Prophet's wife:

  The first aspect of revelation to Allah's Messenger was that his
  dreams came true. Whatever vision he might have in his sleep
  would occur exactly as he had seen. Then, he began to enjoy seclu-
  sion. He used to retreat alone into the cave of Hira where he would-
  spend several days in devotion before going back to his family. He
  used to take some food with him, and when he came back he would
  take a fresh supply for another period. He continued to do so until
  he received the truth while in the cave of Hira. The angel came to
  him and said, "Read." He replied, "I am not a reader." The
  Prophet says, "He held me and pressed hard until I was exhausted,
  then he released me and said, "Read." and I replied, "I am not a
  reader". So, he held me and pressed me hard a second time until I
  was exhausted, then he released me and said, "Read." I replied, "I
  am not a reader." He then held me and pressed me hard for the
  third time. Then he said, "Read, in the name of your Lord Who
  created, created man from clots of blood. Read! your Lord is the
  most bounteous, Who has taught the use of the pen, has taught man
  what he did not know." The Prophet returned home to Khadeeja
   trembling and said, "Wrap me! Wrap me!" They wrapped him
   and his fear subsided. He turned to Khadeeja and exclaimed,
   "What has happened to me?" and related to her what had hap-
   pened and said, "I fear for myself." And Khadeeja replied, "Fear
   not, be calm and relax. Allah will not let you suffer any humilia-
   tion, because you are kind to your relatives, you speak the truth,
   you assist anyone in need, you are hospitable to your guests and
   you help in every just cause." Then she took him to Waraqa ibn
   Nawfal, her paternal cousin who was a Christian convert and a
   scholar with good knowledge of Arabic, Hebrew and the Bible. He
   had lost his eyesight as he had grown very old. Khadeeja said to
   Waraqa, "Cousin, would you like to hear what your nephew has to
   say?" Waraqa said, "Well, nephew, what have you seen?" The
   Prophet related to him what he had seen. When he finished,
   Waraqa said, " It is the same revelation as was sent down to Moses.
   I wish I was a young man so that I might be alive when your people
   turn you away from this city." The Prophet exclaimed, "Would
   they turn me away?" Waraqa answered "Yes! No man has ever
   preached a message like yours but was met with enmity. If I live till
   that day, I will certainly give you all my support." But Waraqa
   died soon after that ...

This hadith is transmitted in both of the most authentic books of
the Prophet's traditions and was related by Al-Zuhri.

Al-Tabari also transmitted the following tradition, related by
Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair:

  The Prophet said, 'While I was asleep he came to me carrying a
  case of a very rich material in which there was a book. He said,
  'Read.' I replied, 'I am not a reader.' He pressed me so hard that I
  felt I was about to die. Then he released me and said, 'Read.' I
  asked 'What shall I read?' (and I said this only out of fear that he
  might repeat what he had done to me before.) He said, 'Read: In
  the name of your Lord who created ... taught man what he did not
  know. ' I read it. He stopped, then left me and went away. I woke up
  feeling that it was actually written in my heart'." The Prophet went
  on to say, "No man was ever more loathsome to me than poets or
  deranged persons. I could not bear even looking at either. I
  thought, 'The man (meaning himself) is undoubtedly a poet or
  deranged. This shall not be said about me amongst the Quraish.
  Let me climb high up in the mountain and throw myself and get rid
  of it all.' I went to carry out this intention. When I was half way up
  in the mountain I heard a voice coming from the heavens saying,
  'Muhammad, you are the Messenger of Allah and I am Jibril.' I
  raised my head up to the sky and I saw Jibril in the image of a man
  with his feet one next to the other, up on the horizon. He said
  again, 'Muhammad, you are the Messenger of Allah and I am
  Jibril.' I stood in my place looking up at him; this distracted me
  from my intention. I was standing there unable to move. I tried to
  turn my face away from him and to look up at the sky, but wher-
  ever I looked, I saw him in front of me. I stood still, moving neither
  forward nor backward. Khadeeja sent her messengers looking for
  me and I remained standing in my place all the while until they
  went back to her. He then left me and I went back to my
  family ...

This tradition is also related in more details by Ibn Ishaq, on the
authority of Wahb ibn Kayssan.

I reflected for a while upon this event. We all have read it many
times in books; either those of the Prophet's biography or those
explaining the meaning of the Qur'an. But we either read it casually
or gave it little thought and went on with our reading.

Yet this is an event which has immense significance. It is an event
which has important bearing on the life of humanity; but much as we
try today to perceive its great value, many of its aspects will remain
beyond our perception. It is no exaggeration to describe this event as
the greatest in the long history of human existence.

The true nature of this event is that Allah, the Great, the Com-
peller, the Almighty, the Supreme, the Sovereign of the whole uni-
verse, out of His benevolence, has turned to that creation of His
which is called "man", and which takes its abode in a hardly visible
corner of the universe, the name of which is the "Earth" . He has hon-
oured this species of His creation by choosing one of its numbers to
be the recipient of His Divine light and the guardian of His wisdom.

This is something infinitely great. Some aspects of its greatness
become apparent when man tries, as best as he can, to perceive the
essential qualities of Allah: absolute power, freedom from all limi-
tations and everlastingness; and when he reflects, in comparison, on
the basic qualities of Allah's servants who arc subject to certain limi-
tations of power and life duration. One may then perceive the signifi-
cance of this Divine care for man. He may realise the sweetness of
this feeling and manifest his appreciation with thanksgiving, prayers
and devotion. He feels that the whole universe shares in the general
happiness spread by the revelation of Divine words to man in his
obscure corner of the universe.

What is the significance of this event? With reference to Allah, it
signifies that He is the source of all the great bounties and unfailing
compassion. He is the Benevolent, the Loving, Who bestows His
mercy and benefactions for no reason except that benevolence is one
of His Divine attributes. As for man, this event signifies that Allah
has bestowed on him an honour the greatness of which he can hardly
ever appreciate and for which he can never show enough gratitude
not even if he spends all his life in devotion and prostration. This
honor is that Allah has taken notice and care of him, established
contact with him and chosen one of the human race as His messen-
ger to reveal to him His words that the earth, man's abode has
become the recipient of these Divine words, which the whole uni-
verse echoes with submission and devotion.

This great event began to bear on the life of humanity as a whole
right from the first moment. It marked a change in the course of his-
tory, following the change it brought about in the course followed by
human conscience. It specified the source man should look up to in
order to derive his ideals, values and criteria. The source is heaven
and the Divine revelations, not this world and man's own desires.
When this great event took place the people who recognised its true
nature and adapted their lives accordingly enjoyed Allah's protect-
ion and manifest care. They looked up to Him directly for guidance
in all their affairs, big and small. They lived and moved under His
supervision. They expected that He would guide them along the
road, step by step, stopping them from error and leading them to the
right. Every night they expected to receive some Divine revelations
concerning what they had on their minds, providing solutions for
their problems and saying to them, "Do this and leave that."

The period which followed the event was certainly remarkable:
twenty-three years of direct contact between the human race and the
Highest Society. The true nature of this period cannot be recognised
except by those who lived in that period and went through its experi-
ence, witnessed its start and its end, relished the sweet flavour of that
contact and felt the Divine hand guiding them along the road. The
distance which separates us from that reality is too great to be
defined by any measure of length this world has known. It is a dis-
tance in the world of conscience incomparable to any distance in the
material world, not even when we think of the gaps separating the
stars or galaxies. It is a gap that separates the earth and the Heaven; a
gap between human desires and Divine revelation as sources from
which concepts and values are derived; a gap between Ignorance and
Islam, the human and the Divine.

The people who lived in that period were fully aware of its unique-
ness, recognised its special place in history and felt the grtat loss
when the Prophet passed away to be in the company of the Supreme
Companion. This marked the end of this remarkable periDd which
our minds can hardly imagine but for its actual occurrence.

Anas related that Abu Bakr said to 'Umar after the death of the
Prophet "Let us go to visit Umm Ayman as the Prophet used to do."
When they went to her she burst into tears. They said, "What are you
crying for? Don't you realise that Allah's company is far better for
the Prophet?" She replied, "That is true, I am sure. I am only crying
because revelation has ceased with his death." This made tears spring
to their eyes and the three of them cried together. (Transmitted by

The impact of that period has been in evidence in the life of
humanity ever since its beginning up to this moment, and it will
remain in evidence until the day when Allah inherits the earth and all
that walks on it. Man was reborn when he started to derive his values
from Heaven rather than earth and his laws from the Divine revel-
ation instead of his own desires. The course of history underwent a
change the like of which has never been experienced before or since
That event, the commencement of revelation, was the point at which
the roads crossed. Clear and permanent guidelines were established
which cannot be changed by the passage of time or effaced by events.
Human consceence developed a concept of existence, human life and
its values unsurpassed in comprehensiveness, clarity and purity of all
worldly considerations as well as its realism and practicability in
human society. The foundations of this Divine code have been firmly
established in the world and its various aspects and essential stan-
dards have been made clear, "so that he who perishes may perish
after having received a clear sign and he who lives may live after having
received a clear sign. " (8:42)

The beginning of revelation was a unique event at a unique
moment marking the end of one era and the start of another. It is the
demarcation line in the history of mankind, not merely in the history
of a certain nation or a particular generation. It has been recorded by
the universe and echoed in all its corners. It has also been recorded in
the conscience of man which today needs to be guided by what Allah
has revealed and never to lose sight of it. It needs to remember that
this event was a rebirth of humanity which can take place only once
in history.

It is self evident that the rest of the surah was not revealed at the
same time as its opening but at a later date. For it refers to a certain
situation and to events in the life of the Prophet which took place
later, after he was instructed to convey his message and commanded
to offer his worship in public, and after he was met with opposition
by the polytheists. This is indicated in the part of the surah which
begins: "Observe the man who rebukes a servant of Allah when he
prays ..." Yet there is perfect harmony between all parts of the
surah. The facts it relates after the opening part are also arranged in a
perfect order. These two factors make the surah one perfectly har-
monious unit.

  Read in the name of your Lord Who created, created man from
  clots of blood Read! your Lord is the most Bounteous, Who has taught
  the use of the pen, has taught man what he did not know.

This is the first surah vf the Qur'an so it starts with the name of
Allah.' It instructs the Messenger of Allah right at the very firsf
moment of his blessed contact with the Highest Society and before
taking his very first step along the way of the message he was chosen
to deliver, to read in the name of Allah, "Read in the name of your
Lord." The first attribute of Allah it mentions is that of creation and
initiation: " ... your Lord Who created " Then it speaks in particular
of the creation of man and his origin: "created man from clots of
blood." He is created from a dried drop of blood which sticks to the
womb: a cheap and unsophisticated substance. This reflects the grace
and mercy of the Creator as much as it reflects His power. It is out of
His grace that He has elevated this clot of blood to the rank of man
who can be taught and who can learn: "Read! your Lord is the most
Bounteous, Who has taught the use of the pen, has taught man what he
did not know." The gulf between the origin and the outcome is very
wide indeed. But Allah is Able and He is Bounteous, hence this
change which makes us dizzy with wonder.

Here also emerges the fact of the teaching of man by the Creator.
The pen has always been the most widespread means of learning and
it has always had the most far-reaching bearing on man's life. This
fact was not as clear at the time of revelation as it is now. But Allah
knows the value of the pen; hence, this reference to the pen at the bc-
ginning of this His final message to humanity, in the first surah of the
Qur'an. Yet the Messenger charged with the conveyance of this
message could not write. Had the Qur'an been his own composition, he
would not have stressed this fact at the first moment. But the Qur'an
is Allah's revelation and a message from the Divine.

The surah then states the source of learning, which is Allah. From
Him man receives all his knowledge, past, present and future. From
Him man learns any secret revealed to him about this universe, life
and himself.

This single paragraph revealed at the very first moment of the
Messenger's contact with the Highest Society states the compre-
hensive basis of faith and its concepts. Everything starts, works and
moves in His name. He is the One Who creates, originates and
teaches Whatever man learns and whatever experience and
knowledge he acquires come originally from Allah. He has taught man
what he did not know. The Prophet recognised this basic Qur'anic
fact. It governed his feelings teachings and actions for the rest of his
life because it is the principal fact of faith.

Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah summarises in his book "Zad
al-Ma'ad" the Messenger's teaching respecting the remembrance of

  The Prophet was the most perfect man with regard to his remem-
  brance of Allah, the Exalted. Indeed whatever he spoke was in the
  line of such remembrance. His commands, prohibitions, legis-
  lations, his teaching concerning the Lord and His attributes,
  judgements, actions, promises and threats were all part of this
  remembrance So were his praise and glorification of the Lord, his
  prayers to Him, his feelings of fear and hope of Him and even his
  silence. He was conscious of Allah at all times and in every state.
  His praise of Allah was part of his very nature as if he praised Him
  with every breath. Indeed he praised Him as he stood up, sat or
  reclined and when walking, riding, moving, at home or travelling.
  When he woke up he used to say, "Praise be to Allah Who has
  given us life after He had caused us to die. To Him we shall be
  resurrected." Aisha said that the Prophet used to say when he
  woke up at night, "Allah is the greatest," and would repeat it ten
  times. Then he would repeat ten times the statement, "There is no
  deity but Allah," and pray, "My Lord, I seek refuge with You
  against constraint in this life and on the Day of Resurrection," ten
  times. Then he would start his formal prayers. Aisha also said that
  when the Prophet woke up at night for his devotion he would say,
  "There is no God but You, my Lord. Praise be to You. I beseech
  You to forgive my sins and appeal to You for mercy. My Lord,
  enrich my knowledge and cause not my heart to go astray after
  You have granted me Your guidance. Grant me Your mercy, for
  You are the most Bounteous." (Transmitted by Abu Dawood)

The Messenger has also taught us that whoever gets up at night
and says, "There is no God but Allah alone; He has no partner; to
Him belongs the Sovereignty and praise; He is able to do every-
thing; all grace is His; Glorified be He; there is no deity but Allah;
Allah is the greatest; no power can operate without His per-
mission; He is the Great, the Supreme," and after this says, "My
Lord, forgive me," or any other prayer, his prayers will be an-
swered. Should he make ablution and offer prayers, these will be

The Messenger once stayed for a night at Ibn Abbas's home.
The latter related that when he, the Messenger, woke up he raised
his hand to the sky and read the last ten verses of surah
"Aal-'lmran. " Then he went on to pray, "My Lord, to You belongs
all praise; You are the light of heaven and earth and all therein;
Praise be to You, the true Lord; Your promise is true; whatever
You say is true; the Meeting with You is true; Heaven is true; Hell
is true; the Prophets are true; and the Hour is true. I submit myself
to You, I believe in You and depend on You. To You I return . Any
dispute I may enter into is for You. To You I turn for judgement.
Forgive me all my sins, past and future, public and secret. You are
my Lord and there is no God but You. No power can operate with-
out the permission of Allah, the Great, the Supreme."

Aisha related that when the Prophet woke up at night to wor-
ship he used to say, "My God, the Lord of Jibril, Mikaeel and Isra-
feel, the Creator of heaven and earth, Who knows what is
concealed and what is made public. You judge amongst Your ser-
vants in their disputes. Guide me, with Your own will, to the truth
over which people argue and dispute, for You guide whom You
will to the straight path." She might have also said that he used to
say this at the start of his prayers.

After offering the "witr" prayer, the Messenger used to repeat
three times, "Glorified be Allah, the Holy One." When he went
out of his house he would say, "In the name of Allah. I depend on
Allah. My Lord, I appeal to You to guard me against going astray
or causing anyone to go astray, and against any slip, and being
unjust to anyone or being victim to any injustice by others, and
against acting ignorantly, or being ignorantly done by."

The Messenger said, "Whoever says as he leaves his home, 'In
the name of Allah. I depend on Allah. No power is operative with-
out the permission of Allah,' he will receive the answer. 'You are
rightly guarded and well protected,' and the devil will be made to
turn away from him."

Referring to the night when he was host to the Messenger, Ibn
Abbas said that when the Messenger left for the mosque for the
dawn prayers he said, "My Lord, give me light in my heart,
tongue, ears and eyes: give me light in front of me, over me and
below me and make the light You give me great."

Abu Said al-Khudri related that the Prophet said, "When a man
goes out to the mosque for prayers and says, 'My Lord, I appeal to
You by the right of those who pray to You, and the right us my
journey to You. I have not come out with any feeling of self-
sufficiency, nor in hypocrisy or conceit, nor to seek reputation. I
have come out with the hope of avoiding Your anger, seeking
Your pleasure. I pray you, save me from Hell and forgive me my
sins; You are the Only One Who forgives sins;' seventy thousand
angels will be charged with praying for his forgiveness and Allah
will receive and welcome him until he finishes his prayers."           

Abu Dawood transmitted that the Prophet used to say when he
entered the mosque, "I seek refuge with Allah, the Great, and His
Holy face, and His old power against Satan, the Outcast." When a
man says this the Devil says, "He is now protected against me for    
the rest of the day."

The Prophet said, "Whenever any of you comes to the mosque,
let him pray and ask peace for the Prophet and say, 'My Lord,
open to me the doors of your mercy.' When he leaves the mosque,
let him say, 'My Lord, I pray You to give me out of Your grace.'"
It is also related that when the Prophet entered the mosque, he
would ask peace for Muhammad (himself) and his household,
then he would say, "My Lord, forgive me my sins and open the
doors of Your mercy to me." When he left, he would again ask
peace for Muhammad and his household, and say, "My Lord,
forgive me my sins and lay open to me the doors of Your grace." After
offering the dawn prayers, Allah's Messenger used to stay in his
praying place until sunrise, utilising his time in the remembrance
of Allah, the Exalted. In the morning, he would say, "Our Lord,
we have lived till this morning by Your will, and we also live till
evening by Your will. We live and die by Your will. To You we will    
return." He also used to say, "Morning has appeared. This morn-
ing all sovereignty belongs to Allah, praised be He. There is no
God but Allah alone. He has no partner, to Him belongs all the
universe and to Him is all praise. He is the Almighty, able to do
what He wills. My Lord, I pray to You to give me of the best of this
day and the best of the days to follow. I seek refuge with You
against the evil of this day and the days to follow. My Lord, I seek
Your refuge against laziness and the evils of old age, against suffer-
ing in Hell and suffering in the grave." In the evening he would
repeat the same prayer substituting evening for morning (Trans-
mitted by Muslim).

Once Abu Bakr, the Prophet's most distinguished companion
said to him, "Teach me some prayers to say in the morning and in
the evening." Allah's Messenger taught him the following prayer,
"My Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth. Who knows the vis-
ible and the unseen, the perceptible and the imperceptible, the
Lord and Possessor of all, I declare that there is no God but You. I
appeal to You to protect me against my own evil and the evil of
Satan; I seek Your refuge against doing myself any harm or caus-
ing harm to any Muslim." The Messenger told Abu Bakr to say
this prayer in the morning, evening and before going to bed. (Zad
al-Maad contains numerous traditions on the same subject.)

  ... When Allah's Messenger had a new garment, he would
  mention it by name (e.g. a shirt, a gown or a turban) and say, "My
  Lord, praise be to You. You have given me this. I pray You to give
  me its goodness and the goodness for which it was made. I pray to
  You to rid me of its evil and the evil for which it was made."
  The Messenger is reported to have been in the habit of saying the
  following prayer when he returned home, "Praise be to Allah who
  has given me this shelter and what is sufficient for me; and praise
  be to Allah Who has given me food and drink, and praise be to
  Allah Who has given me much (of His generosity). I pray You to
  extend Your protection to me against Hell.

It is confirmed in the two authentic books of the Messenger's
traditions that, when he entered the toilet, he used to say,

  My Lord, I pray You to rid me of evil things." When he left, he
  used to say, "Praise be to Allah Who has ridden me of harm and
  given me good health." (Transmitted be Ibn Majah).

It is also confirmed that he once put his hand in a water con-
taincr and said to his companions, "Make ablutions in the name of
Allah." When he saw the new moon, he used to say, "My Lord, let
it come to us with security, faith, safety and submission to You.
New moon, Allah is my Lord and Your Lord." (Transmitted by

When he started eating, he used to say, "In the name of Allah."
He also said, "When any of you eats, let him mention the name of
Allah. If he forgets to do so, let him say (when he remembers), in
the name of Allah at the beginning and at the end."

Thus was the life of the Messenger of Allah. It was conditioned,
down to every single detail, by the Divine instruction which he
received at the very first moment of his message. This instruction
helped his faith to bc established on a genuine basis .

It is Allah, then, Who creates, teaches and bestows His abundant
bounties on man. This implies that man should acknowledge Allah's
benevolence and be grateful for it. But what actually happens is
something different.

The second part of the surah deals with man's transgression.
'Indeed man tyrannises once he thinks himself self-sufficient. Surely to
your Lord all things return." It is Allah Who gives to man in abun-
dance and makes him independent. He also creates and teaches him
and extends to him His generous treatment. But men in general (ex-
cluding those guarded by faith) are not thankful for their indepen-
dence which is made possible by what they are given. They do not
recognise the source of this grace, which is the same as the source of
their creation, knowledge and livelihood. They tyrannise and trans-
gress all limits and show their conceit instead of being dutiful and

The portrait of the transgressor, conceited because he has forgot-
ten his origin, is followed by a comment charged with an implicit
warning, 'Surely to your Lord all things return." Where can this
proud tyrant then turn? At the same time one or the fundamental
rules of the Islamic ideological concept is emphasised. That is, all
must refer to Allah in every matter, thought or action. he is the only
reason and refuge. The good and the bad, the obedient and the sinner,
the righteous and the wrong-doer, the rich and the poor, will all
return to Him. Even the man who tyrannises when he thinks himself
independent will come to Him eventually.

Thus, the first two parts of the surah state together the ideological
concept of Islam: creation and teaching belong to Allah alone and to
Him all return: "Surely to your Lord all things return. "

The third part tackles a particularly appalling form of tyranny. Its
description in the inimitable Qur'anic style fills one with wonder and
dismay that it should take place at all. "Observe the man who rebukes
a servant of Allah when he prays. Think: does he not follow the right
guidance and enjoin true piety? Think: if he denies the truth and turns
his back, does he not realise that Allah sees all? "

The feelings of wonder and dismay are aroused by the manner of
expression which takes the form of address and conversation using
short sentences that follow in rapid succession. The effect can hardly
ever be produced by ordinary written language. "Observe" this
ghastly business actually taking place! "Observe the man who rebukes
a servant of Allah when he prays. " Have you seen this repulsive sight?
Have you realised how repugnance is doubled by the fact that the
person being dissuaded from his prayers is in fact following Divine
guidance. He merely enjoins righteousness and piety, yet he is dis-
couraged and told to desist!

Yet the transgressor outdoes himself by taking a still more abhor-
ent stand, Think: if he denies the truth and turns his back. " The clos-
ing note is one of implicit warning, similar to that of the previous
paragraph, "Does he not realise that Allah sees all? " He sees every-
thing: the denial of truth, the turning away from it, as well as the for-
bidding of the believers from offering their prayers. Since Allah sees
all there is something which follows His seeing. This is the implicit

Thus, we have a scene of tyranny trying to suppress the call of faith
and obedience to Allah which is followed immediately by a stern
warning stated explicitly this time, "Let him desist, or We will drag
him by the forelock. " The Arabic term used for "drag" has a marked
tone of violent action. The dragging is by the forelock as it is the part
of the head raised high by every conceited tyrant. It undoubtedly
deserves to be hit violently: 'His lying, sinful forelock!" The tyrant
may think of calling his clan and supporters to come to his aid: " Then
let him call his henchmen. " On the other side, " We will call the guards
of hell," and they are powerfull and ruthless. The outcome of the
battle is never in doubt.

In the light of this frightening destiny of the disbelievers, the surah
concludes with an instruction to the obedient servants of Allah to
persevere and follow the path of faith: "No, never obey him, but pros-
trate yourself and draw closer to Allah. " Do not obey this tyrant who
tries to stop you from offering your devotion and conveying your
message. Prostrate yourself to your Lord and bring yourself closer to
Him through worship and obedience. As for the tyrant, leave him to
the guards of Hell who are sure to mete out to him what he deserves.

Some authentic reports say that the surah, with the exception of
the first part, refers to Abu Jahl who once passed bv the Prophet
while he was praying at the Ka'aba. He turned to him and said,
"Muhammad, have I not ordered you to stop these practices?" He
also added some warnings to the Prophet who gave him a stern reply.
This was possibly the time when the Prophet seized Abu Jahl by the
collar and warned him of his impending doom. Abu Jahl said,
"Muhammad, what do you threaten me with? I am sure I have the
largest following in this valley." Hence, the revelation, "Let him call
his henchmen. " Ibn Abbas, the Prophet's companion, said in com-
ment "Had he called them, the angels charged with meting out pun-
ishment would have taken him away there and then."

The surah, however, is general in its significance. It refers to every  
obedient believer calling men to follow the path of Allah and to every
tyrant who forbids prayer, threatens to punish the believers and act     
conceitedly. The concluding Divine instruction is therefore, "No,       
never obey him, but prostrate yourself and draw closer to Allah. "





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