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In the Shade of the Qur'an - Surah # 107

In the Shade of the Qur'an - Surah # 107
Syed Qutb
Sura # 107                      
                               Small Kindness
                                 al  Ma'oun

            In the name of Allah, the Beneficient, the Merciful!

                   Have you seen him who denies Our religion?
                    It is he who harshly repels the orphan
                  and does not urge others to feed the needy.
                              Woe to those who pray
                     but are heedless of their prayers;
                           who put on a show of piety
               but refuse to give even the smallest help to others.

                         In the Shade of the Qur'an

  This surah is a Makkan revelation according to some authorities and a
  Makkan-Medinan one according to others (the first three verses are said
  to have been revealed in Makka and the rest in Medina). The latter
  opinion is perhaps more accurate. Yet the surah is one interwoven
  entity, aiming at the establishment of one of the most fundamental
  aspects of Faith. For this reason we are more inclined to take it as
  being an entirely Medinan revelation. Its subject matter is more in
  line  with the topics of the part of the Qur'an revealed in Medina.
  It is related to the phenomena of hypocrisy and false appearances which
  were unheard of among the Muslim community in Makka. But there is no
  need to reject the assertion that the surah is a Makkan, Medinan
  revelation, because it is possible that the last four verses were
  sent down in Medina and integrated with the first three on grounds of
  similarity of subject. Having said that, let us now consider the surah
  and its theme.

  This surah of seven short verses tackles an important and vital issue
  which could very well change the common meanings normally assigned the
  terms "faith" or "Iman" and "disbelief" or "Kufr" Moreover, it brings
  forth the fundamental truth intrinsic in the nature of the Islamic
  faith, the enormous benefit it offers to all humanity and the abundant
  blessings with which Allah favoured mankind when He sent them His last
  Islam is not a way of life built on ostentation and superficiality. The
  apparent aspects of the different acts of worship are, according to
  Islam, meaningless unless they are motivated by sincerity and devotion
  to Allah. Worship sincerely motivated produces effects within the
  individual's heart which then cause him to act righteously and which
  are reflected in a social behaviour which elevates man's life on this
  No less true is the fact that Islam is not a loose, fragmentary, dis
  jointed system from which one can pick and choose at leisure. On the
  contrary, it is a complete way of life with acts of worship and rites
  as well as individual and collective obligations that are mutually
  complementary. Together they lead to a goal of which mankind is the
  sole beneficiary, a goal which ensures that hearts are purified, life
  is ennobled, and men co-operate for the common good and progress a
  goal wherein abounds the blessings of Allah.
  A man can profess to be a Muslim, that is, he accepts this religion
  and all its principles, offers prayers regularly and observes other
  of worship, and yet be lacking in the essence of faith and sincerity of
  belief. In fact, he may be very far from these. For there are signs
  which indicate the firm establishment of these qualities in men's

  As explained in the commentary on surah 103, "The Declining Day", the
  essence of faith once firmly rooted in the hearts and minds, will begin
  immediately to operate and manifest itself in men's behaviour. The surah
  stresses unequivocally that, if this is not the case, there is no faith.

  "Have you seen him who denies Our religion? It is he who harshly repels
  the orphan and does not urge others to feed the needy." The surah starts
  with a question addressed to all who can "see", generating suspense and
  holding their attention in order to make them discover the target and
  subject of the surah. Ah! Who is this creature identified by the Qur'an
  as the one who denies the religion of Islam? Hence, the answer: "It is
  he who harshly repels the orphan and does not urge others to feed the
  needy." This definition of the disbelievers may sound surprising when
  compared with the traditional definition of faith. but this is the core
  of the whole matter. Indeed the one who denies the faith is he who
  wickedly repels the orphan, humiliating him and hurting his feelings!
  and who does not care for the needy or their welfare. For if the truth
  of Islam has in any degree touched his heart. he would commit no such
  acts. True belief in Islam is not a spoken word but an overall change
  of the individual's heart, motivating him to benevolence and goodwill
  for all his fellow beings that are in need of his care and protection.
  Allah does not want mere words from His servants but demands deeds to
  support the spoken words which, otherwise, are as weightless and
  valueless as blown ash. Nothing can be more forceful than these three
  verses in affirming this fact which represents most aptly the nature
  of Faith.
  We do not intend here to indulge in a juristic discussion on the
  boundaries of faith and Islam. These are required in legal affairs,
  whereas this surah states the facts from Allah's point of view and
  judgement, which is quite different from the legal aspect. Next,
  Allah offers a practical illustration of what is meant above: "Woe
  to those who pray, but are heedless of their prayers." These verses
  contain Allah's invocation against, or a threat of destruction to
  those who offer prayers but are careless about them. Who exactly are
  such? They are those "who put on a show of piety but refuse to give
  even the smallest help to others," those who perform prayers but do
  not aptly meet their requirements. They execute the mechanical aspects
  and pronounce the verbal formulae of prayers but their hearts are never
  alive to them, nor are they nourished by praying.
  The essence and purpose of prayer and its component parts (recitation,
  supplication and exaltation of Allah) are never present in their souls.
  They offer prayers only to deceive others and not out of devotion to
  Allah. Hence, they are inattentive when they pray. They only outwardly
  perform their prayers. Muslims are required to offer their prayers
  regularly, having in mind that their prayers are a manifestation of
  their servitude to Allah alone. Thus, prayer leaves no result in those
  who are neglectful and inattentive to it. Consequently they refuse to
  be kind or helpful to their fellow beings and deny the slightest charity
  to any of the servants of Allah.
  Once again, we find ourselves presented with the fundamental truth and
  the nature of this religion, a Qur'anic verse threatens with destruction
  certain people who offer prayers precisely because they carry out
  meaningless movements devoid of any spirit or sense of purpose,
  intended for deceit and pretence, and not devoted to Allah. Since
  their prayers have not affected their hearts and behaviour, they are
  not merely useless but rather a sin for which they are liable to severe

  From all these, we gather the purpose behind what Allah demands of
  His servants when He instructs them to believe in, and worship Him.
  He seeks no benefit thereof for Himself, as He is All-Affluent, but
  all He cares for is their own welfare and prosperity, purification
  of their hearts and happiness in their lives. Allah wishes human life
  to be elevated, happy, based on pure motives and characterised by
  mutual compassion, brotherhood and purity of hearts and behaviour.

  To where then is humanity driving itself? Away from this abundance of
  mercy? Away from this wonderful and sublime path? How can mankind debase
  itself to living in the wilderness of a wretched and gloomy Ignorance
  when it beholds the sparkling light of faith before its very eyes at
  the cross-roads where it now stands?





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