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Friday, July 19, 2024

Lessons from Surah Al-Humazah

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The main themes of this Surah are:

a) Importance of restraining the tongue

b) Evils of preoccupying oneself with worldly wealth

c) Severity of the punishments of Allah


بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

[In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.]


1) وَيْلٌ لِّكُلِّ هُمَزَةٍ لُّمَزَةٍ

[Woe to every slanderer and backbiter.]

Backbiting and slandering are two major sins in Islam. In Islamic terminology, backbiting means that a person mentions the faults of a Muslim in his absence, which he would not like if he heard about it, when there is no need to mention them. Slandering, on the other hand, is words falsely spoken about a Muslim that damages his reputation.

In order to explain the concepts of backbiting and slandering, once Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked his companions, “Do you know what backbiting is?” They replied, “Allah and His Messenger know best.”

The Prophet said,

“That you say something about your brother that he dislikes.” They asked, “What if what I say about my brother is true?”

The Prophet said,

“If what you say is true then you have gossiped about him (i.e. did backbite), and if it is not true then you have slandered him.” [Narrated by Muslim]

Backbiting or slandering about a Muslim violates his honor which is considered sacred in Islam.

The Prophet said:

“Your blood, your wealth and your honor are sacred among you.” [Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Regarding the severity of the sin of backbiting, Allah says elsewhere in the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning):“O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” [Al Qur’an 49:12]

Therefore, a Muslim must control his tongue and should not speak unless he says something good.

The Prophet said:

“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good or else keep silent.” [Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]


2) الَّذِي جَمَعَ مَالًا وَعَدَّدَهُ

[Who has gathered wealth and counted it.]

3) يَحْسَبُ أَنَّ مَالَهُ أَخْلَدَهُ

[He thinks that his wealth will make him last forever!]

Amongst the descriptions of such a person (who will face evil consequences in the next life) is that he is one who has amassed wealth and counted them over and over again – this being his only concern, he takes delight in it and he has no desire to purify it by spending it in ways of goodness, joining ties of kinship and so on, thinking in his ignorance that his wealth will make him immortal in this world. It is for this reason that all his efforts and struggles are expended in increasing his wealth through which he believes that his lifespan will increase. He is not aware of the fact that miserliness actually ruins lives and destroys homes whereas righteousness in reality is what causes an increase in lifespan. [Tafsir As-Sa’di]

Emphasizing on the importance of righteousness, the Prophet said:

“Nothing increases the life-span except righteousness.” [Narrated by At-Tirmidhi]

Recommending some specific deeds for increased lifespan, the Prophet said:

“Whoever wishes to have his life-span increased, let him be dutiful to his parents and join the ties of kinship.” [Narrated by Ahmad]

4) كَلَّا ۖ لَيُنبَذَنَّ فِي الْحُطَمَةِ

[Nay! Verily, he will be thrown into the crushing Fire.]

The person who gathers wealth (without any consideration of Islamic guidelines of lawfulness and prohibition) and counts it over and over again, will be thrown into Al-Hutamah (the crushing fire), which is one of the descriptive names of the Hellfire. This is because the Hellfire crushes whoever is in it. [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]


5) وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْحُطَمَةُ

[And what will make you know what the crushing Fire is?]

6) نَارُ اللَّهِ الْمُوقَدَةُ

[The fire of Allah kindled,]

7) الَّتِي تَطَّلِعُ عَلَى الْأَفْئِدَةِ

[Which leaps up over the hearts,]

A person generally dies when an unbearable physical pain severely affects his heart. In the Hellfire the severe punishments will repeatedly reach the heart of a person, yet he will not die, nor will he get any relief. We seek refuge with Allah from the punishment of Hellfire.

8) إِنَّهَا عَلَيْهِم مُّؤْصَدَةٌ

[Verily, it shall be closed upon them,]

9) فِي عَمَدٍ مُّمَدَّدَةٍ

[In pillars stretched forth (i.e. they will be punished in the Fire with pillars).]

Explaining the last two verses of this Surah, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, the cousin of the Prophet and the great commentator of the Qur’an is reported to have said:

“He (Allah) will make them (inhabitants of the Hellfire) enter pillars stretched forth, meaning there will be columns over them, and they will have chains on their necks, and the gates (of Hell) will be shut upon them.” [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]

By Maham Zahra

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