Tafseer of Surah Humazah

بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

وَيْلٌ لِّكُلِّ هُمَزَةٍ لُّمَزَةٍ ‎﴿١﴾‏ الَّذِى جَمَعَ مَالًا وَعَدَّدَهُۥ ‎﴿٢﴾‏ يَحْسَبُ أَنَّ مَالَهُ اَخْلَدَهُ ‎﴿٣﴾‏ كَلَّا لَيُنْبَذَنَّ فِى الْحُطَمَةِ ‎﴿٤﴾‏ وَمَآ اَدْرٰىكَ مَا الْحُطَمَةُ ‎﴿٥﴾‏ نَارُ اللّٰهِ ٱلْمُوقَدَةُ ‎﴿٦﴾‏ الَّتِى تَطَّلِعُ عَلَى الْأَفْـِٔدَةِ ‎﴿٧﴾‏ اِنَّهَا عَلَيْهِم مُّؤْصَدَةٌ ‎﴿٨﴾‏ فِى عَمَدٍ مُّمَدَّدَةٍ ‎﴿٩﴾‏

Woe to every backbiter, mocker, who accumulates wealth and goes on counting it! He thinks that his wealth will cause him to remain forever. Never! He will certainly be thrown into ‘Hutamah’ (the crushing fire). And what may let you know what is ‘Hutamah’? It is Allah’s kindled fire, that mounts right into the hearts. It (the fire) will be made into a vault on them (and closed onto them), in outstretched (extended) columns.

وَيْلٌ لِّكُلِّ هُمَزَةٍ لُّمَزَةٍ ‎﴿١﴾

Woe to every backbiter, mocker!

This surah warns of the severe punishment for committing three grave sins and then describes and highlights the nature of that severe punishment. The three sins are backbiting, mocking and the selfish hoarding of wealth.

Many disbelievers in Makkah Mukarramah used to commit the evils of backbiting, slander, hurling abuse and taunting Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Those who used to commit these evils are condemned in these verses in a way that also warns the Muslims against committing such evil acts against each other.

In this surah, the first two evils that are spoken of are: Humazah and Lumazah

Most commentators agree that the word “Humazah”, which is derived from the word “Hamz”, refers to the person who backbites i.e. speaks ill of a person behind his back. Similarly, most commentators agree that the word the word “Lumazah” which is derived from the word “Lamz”, refers to the person who mocks i.e. speaks ill of a person to his face.

Both these sins are morally and socially evil and deadly. The Qur’aan Majeed and the Sunnah have sounded stern warnings against these sins. However, when viewed from one perspective, then backbiting is even worse than mocking. The reason why backbiting is worse is that when the ill of a person is spoken behind his back, then the victim is not present to defend himself and put an end to it. Thus, the sin continues to be committed more and more.

Mocking, on the other hand, though an evil sin in itself, is relatively less in degree than backbiting. The reason is that the victim is present to defend himself and put an end to the ridicule and mocking he is facing. However, when considered from another perspective, then mocking is worse than backbiting, as speaking ill of a person to his face is tantamount to insulting him and humiliating him. This is morally and socially more harmful and hurting (as compared to backbiting which does not hurt a person as he has no knowledge of it), and therefore its punishment is more severe.

By discussing people’s problems or challenges, we think to ourselves that we are doing something good and profitable, and we are assisting the community. However, the reality of the matter is that often, the discussion borders on gheebah (backbiting). Hence, we commit a sin without even considering it as a wrong.

When a person carries tales, then he does not realize and understand that he is causing division among people. People who share the bond of friendship and whose hearts are united – through carrying tales, their hearts are torn apart and long-standing relationships are shattered.

In the Hadith, Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said,

وشرار عباد الله المشاؤون بالنميمة والمفرقون بين الأحبة الباغون البرآء العنت

The worst servants of Allah Ta‘ala are those who carry tales about people, creating enmity between friends and seeking faults of innocent people

This Hadith mentions that the worst people are those people who carry tales and create fitnah.

Many people’s intentions are evil and they look for ways to insult innocent people, run down the pious or slander those who are free of blame. However, their aim is nothing but to bring disrepute to people. They present themselves to be well-wishers, looking out for the good of deen, so that people view them as pious and sincere. The way they run down people is to attack their integrity behind their backs by committing gheebah regarding them. This approach of theirs is such that they come across in a very respectable manner, appearing to be pious so that people do not look at them as though they are breaking up relations. In the meanwhile, the result of their actions is that they break up families and cause division in society.

الَّذِى جَمَعَ مَالًا وَعَدَّدَهُۥ ‎﴿٢﴾

Who accumulates wealth and goes on counting it.

The third wrong mentioned in the aayah is regarding the person who piles up wealth and goes on counting it. The inordinate love and crave for wealth stops him from spending the wealth in the avenues commanded by Allah Ta’ala. The person who piles up wealth and goes on counting it is perpetually concerned about increasing his wealth.

This warning applies to a rich man who all the time is involved in accumulating his wealth without discharging his obligations towards the needy or towards Allah Ta‘ala.

يَحْسَبُ أَنَّ مَالَهُ اَخْلَدَهُ ‎﴿٣﴾‏ كَلَّا لَيُنْبَذَنَّ فِى الْحُطَمَةِ ‎﴿٤﴾‏ وَمَآ اَدْرٰىكَ مَا الْحُطَمَةُ ‎﴿٥﴾‏ نَارُ اللّٰهِ ٱلْمُوقَدَةُ ‎﴿٦﴾‏ الَّتِى تَطَّلِعُ عَلَى الْأَفْـِٔدَةِ ‎﴿٧﴾‏

Never! He will certainly be thrown into ‘Hutamah’ (the crushing fire). And what may let you know what is ‘Hutamah’? It is Allah’s kindled fire, that mounts right into the hearts. It (the fire) will be made into a vault on them (and closed onto them), in outstretched (extended) columns.

Normally, when a person is burnt, first he feels the pain in his external limbs, and eventually, he feels the pain in his internal organs and his heart. However, the fire of Jahannum is so intense and fierce that it mounts immediately onto the heart. Hence, when the heart which is the seat of all feelings begins to burn, then one can well imagine the excruciating pain the person will experience at that time.

اِنَّهَا عَلَيْهِم مُّؤْصَدَةٌ ‎﴿٨﴾‏ فِى عَمَدٍ مُّمَدَّدَةٍ ‎﴿٩﴾

It (the fire) will be made into a vault on them (and closed onto them), in outstretched (extended) columns.

In this aayah, Allah Ta‘ala explains that the fire in Jahannum will be vaulted over them in outstretched columns. Hence, they will be encompassed by the fire and locked up in it in such a manner that they will never be able to escape from it.

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