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The Timeless Trend of Ridiculing the Caller

Arrogance was the first sin committed violating the right of Allāh. It before drove out the Satan from the company of the angels and, when against people, it drives them away from the company of the righteous. The apex of this illness is: when one is told to have Taqwa (God-consciousness), he turns away in conceit.

Yā Sīn Series

Part 23 – The Timeless Trend of Ridiculing the Dā’ī

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وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ أَنْفِقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ قَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَنُطْعِمُ مَنْ لَوْ يَشَاءُ اللَّهُ أَطْعَمَهُ إِنْ أَنْتُمْ إِلَّا فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ

(47) And when they are told, ‘Spend from the provision Allāh has given you,’ those who are disbelievers say to the believers, ‘Why should we feed someone whom, if He wished, Allāh would feed Himself? You are clearly in error.’

When it is said to the polytheists to spend from that which Allāh has enriched them with (i.e. give what is due from your wealth to those in need among you and those that reside with you), they respond saying: “why should we feed from our wealth and our provisions when Allāh could do so if He so wished!?”[1]

Notice the response of the Quraysh when they were requested to do Infāq, an encompassing form of givingThey replied by only mentioning one part of Infāq; the very basic component of feeding the poor. Despite their abundant capability to do so from what Allāh had given them, they replied to affirm their utter miserliness. They were not even prepared to feed, possibly the least cumbersome form of charity, a few dates or morsels of food. So they were miserly with regards to everything due upon an accountable slave, as Imam al Razi mentions; miserly with regards to the glorification of Allāh (see previous verse), and misers with regards to showing kindness to His creatures.[2]

The final portion of this verse, “…you are clearly in error”, according to Imām Tabari has two possible meanings:

  1. Either it refers to the disbelievers saying to the believers you are clearly far away from truth and guidance.

Or

  1. It refers to Allāh (or the companions as Qurtubi also mentioned[3]) saying to the polytheists that they are in plain error for saying to the believers: “…if He wished, Allāh would feed them Himself…’[4]

Ibn Kathīr, however, was critical of the first view, and saw it not possible that ‘in antum’ is an address emanating from the disbelievers towards the believers.[5]

According to Imām Al-Qurtubi, the term Anfiqū refers to giving charity to the poor and is either an address to the Jews to feed the poor or to the Mushrikūn and is an advice being given to them to spend on the poor (some said poor Muslims). Their response was to mock and say we will not give charity to them until they turn back from their religion and come back to ours. Imām al-Qurtubi rephrases their statement; ‘how could we possibly enrich one made poor by Allāh or if Allāh made us rich then surely He can make them rich too’. Al-Qurtubi explains that this reasoning is baseless as when Allāh enriches someone He obliges him to give a portion of that to the needy. It is as if He has removed a portion from this wealth and assigned it to the property of the poor. Thus Allāh essentially enriched the poor through the surplus wealth of the rich. Their statement: “if He wished, Allāh would feed (them) Himself” is true in its essence, as per the universal decree of Allāh, but being used to make an invalid argument. This is similar to them saying:

“They say, ‘if the All-Merciful had so willed, we would not have worshipped them.’”[6]

Thus they were either denying the ability of Allāh to provide for the poor or the command to spend on the poor.[7]

 وَيَقُولُونَ مَتَىٰ هَٰذَا الْوَعْدُ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

 (48) And they say, ‘When will this promise come about if you are telling the truth?’

First the polytheists reject an injunction to have Taqwa, then they scorn at the believers for commanding them to spend from the provision Allāh has given them, and now they go further to mock the believers for attesting to an afterlife.[8]

According to Imām Al-Tabari, by these polytheists rejecting the warning of Allāh or the Wa’īd and the required belief in the resurrection after death, through these words they seek that the punishment of their Lord be brought forward. ‘When is the promise of the final Hour coming true, if you, the Muslim community are really truthful.[9]

Linguistic Gems

  • Ibn ‘Āshūr mentions that the ‘Lām‘ in ‘lilathīna āmanū’ (i.e., ‘to the believers’) could indicate that their statement is a direct address ‘to’ the believers. Alternatively, it could have the function of ‘Illah‘, i.e., ‘those who disbelieve say regarding those who believe’ therefore becoming a non-direct address
  • According to Imām al-Razi, a subtle point exists in the statement: “from the provision Allāh has given you.” It clarifies that the wealth these people have is not really theirs, in turn pointing to extreme miserliness. The worst type of it is to withhold from giving that which a person does not own. Moreover it is like stating that the wealth you have now was given to you by someone else out of His generosity but that this generosity should not be extended to another person in need.
  • Had the verse not contained the addition “…those who are disbelievers say to the believers…” but only, “they said”, the overall meaning would have been delivered. So why did Allāh include the former to introduce the reply of the disbelievers? According to Imām al Razi, this is because the Arabs used to take pride in feeding others so they wanted to make a point of refutation to the believers, as if to say that whilst we believe that we are providers of our guests, without this provision the guests’ needs would not be satisfied, whilst you claim that your Lord is the provider for all, so why are you ordering us to give? When their intention was purely for the refutation of the believers, not to withhold food from others, Allāh included this clarification; “…those who are disbelievers say to the believers…” whereas in the previous verse, when ordered to have Taqwa, this addition was absent because the disbelievers did not have an answer and thus Allāh did not state one.2
  • The use of Hātha or ‘this’ indicates the sense of mockery and ridicule delivered by their question and, in its construct, a sense of hastiness Isti’jāl. One common Arabic phrase for ridicule is to refer to someone as ‘Hātha‘ or to address someone by ‘Yā Hātha‘ (‘O this [person]’), and if such is the case when directed at a person, how then when it is directed at the Day of Recompense, an event that has more than 35 different names in the Qur’ān?

Pearls of Wisdom

  • We notice in the address of the disbelievers the tern ‘in kuntum Sādiqīn‘ (‘if you are telling the truth’) with the address ‘Kuntum‘ in the plural. This indicates that it is directed to a collection of believers and shows that the collection of the Muslim community was engaged in one form of Da’wah or another. It is not something restricted to scholars, but an obligation on all within their capacity and capability. What is more, is that this plural address is regarding the Hereafter. From this we begin to experience the collective narrative of the Prophetic community’s Da’wah. Not only united in action, but agreed on subject matter and insightful of its priorities. It was mentioned so much in the Da’wah discourse that the statement that the disbelievers (also in the plural) would ask, ‘what is this promise’, the one you always speak about.
  • Out of all of the traits Allāh Almighty could have listed when elucidating the purity, completeness, selectivity and greatness of His Messengers, it was by their excessive remembrance of the Hereafter that they gained momentous recognition by Allāh:

“We purified their sincerity through sincere remembrance of the Abode. In Our eyes they are among the best of chosen men.”[10]

  • A pertinent story is mentioned in the books of Tafsīr where once Abū Jahl found Abū Bakr (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) giving to the poor and said: “Is not Allāh capable of feeding them?” Abū Bakr replied: “Yes indeed He is”, and so he responded: “Well then why does He not feed them?” Abū Bakr replied: “He tests some people with poverty just as He tests others with wealth; He ordered the poor with patience and ordered the rich with giving.” Abū Jahl then mocked him saying: “Oh Abū Bakr you are but in error” and so this ayah was revealed:[11]

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ أَنْفِقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ قَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَنُطْعِمُ مَنْ لَوْ يَشَاءُ اللَّهُ أَطْعَمَهُ إِنْ أَنْتُمْ إِلَّا فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ

And when it is said to them, “Spend from that which Allah has provided for you,” those who disbelieve say to those who believe, “Should we feed one whom, if Allah had willed, He would have fed? You are not but in clear error.” [12]

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes: 

[1] Tafsīr Tabari, Vol 19 pg 449-450

[2] Tafsir al Razi

[3] Tafsīr Qurtubi, Vol 17 pg 457

[4] Tafsīr Tabari, Vol 19 pg 450

[5] Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr, Vol 6 pg 580

[6] Qur’an 43:20

[7] Tafsīr Qurtubi, Vol 17 pg 456-457

[8] Tafsīr Ibn ‘Āshūr, Vol 23 pg 33

[9] Tafsīr Tabari, Vol 19 pg 450

[10] Qur’an 38:46-47

[11] Tafsīr Qurtubi, Vol 17 pg 456-457

[12] Qur’ān 36:47

About Imam Asim Khan

Ustadh Asim Khan is currently the Imam of Redbridge Islamic Centre, Instructor for the Sabeel institute, & author for Islam21c.com. He has, from an early age, excelled in academic studies and has gained a Masters in Pharmacy from the University College London, UK, as well as studying Arabic and Quranic Sciences in Cairo, Egypt. He appears regularly on Islam Channel's religious programming & is currently presenting the Dreamer show for Eman Channel. Ustadh Asim has a special interest in Tafsir studies and teaches the subject in London where he lives.

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