Tafseer of Surah Ma’un

بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

أَرَأَيْتَ الَّذِي يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ ‎﴿١﴾‏ فَذٰلِكَ الَّذِي يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ ‎﴿٢﴾‏ وَلَا يَحُضُّ عَلٰى طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ ‎﴿٣﴾‏ فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّينَ ‎﴿٤﴾‏ الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ صَلَاتِهِمْ سَاهُوْنَ ‎﴿٥﴾‏ الَّذِيْنَ هُمْ يُرَاءُوْنَ ‎﴿٦﴾‏ وَيَمْنَعُوْنَ الْمَاعُوْنَ ‎﴿٧﴾‏

Have you seen the one who rejects the Judgement? Then he is the one who repulses (and turns away) the orphan, and does not encourage the feeding of the destitute. Then woe to those who perform salaah, who are neglectful of their salaah. Those who (do good only to) show off, and they refuse to give (or lend people) even basic, small items (which people are in need of).

أَرَأَيْتَ الَّذِي يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ ‎﴿١﴾‏ فَذٰلِكَ الَّذِي يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ ‎﴿٢﴾‏ وَلَا يَحُضُّ عَلٰى طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ ‎﴿٣﴾

Have you seen the one who rejects the Judgement? Then he is the one who repulses (and turns away) the orphan, and does not encourage the feeding of the destitute.

The word ‘Deen’ has different meanings. One meaning is the Deen of Islam. The second meaning is judgement. Hence, this aayah could refer to the disbeliever who rejects the Deen of Islam or the Day of Judgement. According to some reports, these beginning verses were revealed regarding the disbeliever Aas bin Waa’il who was known for his miserliness. However, this surah is not confined to him and the message of the surah is general and also applies to Muslims. Therefore, the believers should also take lesson from this surah and refrain from actions such as repulsing the orphans or refraining from feeding the needy.

The distinct difference between a believer and disbeliever is the belief in the Day of Judgement and the fear of accountability in the Hereafter. A disbeliever does not believe in the Day of Judgement, and thus he does not fear accountability in the Hereafter. However, as far as a true believer is concerned, then at every moment he is conscious that Allah Ta’ala is watching him and that he has to give an account for all his deeds, whether minor or major, on the Day of Qiyaamah.

Since a disbeliever does not believe in Allah Ta’ala and does not fear reckoning on the Day of Qiyaamah, he sees himself in a position of strength. He is not concerned about the orphan and the poor and needy and he continues to be obsessed with the wealth and power he possesses, forgetting that conditions may change in the future, and Allah Ta’ala may bless them with wealth and take away the wealth he possesses. In other words, the wealthy of today may become the poor of tomorrow, and the poor of today may become the wealthy of tomorrow.

Therefore, in these verses, Allah Ta’ala draws our attention towards these wrong actions of denying the Day of Judgement, repulsing the orphan and refraining from feeding the needy, and is encouraging the believers to show kindness to the orphans, poor and needy.

فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّينَ ‎﴿٤﴾‏ الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ صَلَاتِهِمْ سَاهُوْنَ ‎﴿٥﴾‏ الَّذِيْنَ هُمْ يُرَاءُوْنَ ‎﴿٦﴾‏ وَيَمْنَعُوْنَ الْمَاعُوْنَ ‎﴿٧﴾‏

Then woe to those who perform salaah, who are neglectful of their salaah. Those who (do good only to) show off, and they refuse to give (or lend people) even basic small items (which people are in need of).

In these verses, Allah Ta’ala speaks about those believers who neglect their salaah and who are miserly towards people. When they stand up to perform salaah, they do not perform salaah with sincerity. Rather, they perform salaah merely for show and so that people will regard them as pious Muslims. Hence, when they are not before people, then either they do not perform their salaah, or they perform their salaah after the time as qadha, or they do not perform their salaah how it ought to be performed i.e. with the correct postures, in the correct time, with jamaat in the musjid, etc. Thus, in reality, they do not possess the true love and concern for salaah in their hearts.

Similarly, they are miserly and refuse to provide people even with basic, small items that people are in need of. The original word used in this verse is “maa’oon”, which literally means ‘small and cheap items’, like pottery, salt, sugar, etc. If a person is in need of such an item, then the one who possesses such items should lend and assist him.

The word maa’oon may also refer to zakaat. In other words, these people refuse to discharge their obligatory zakaat. This has been reported from Hazrat Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) who mentioned that the word maa’oon in this verse refers to zakaat, as it is payable in a small proportion in comparison to one’s total wealth.

In essence, these verses explain the standards by which a person is judged in the sight of Allah Ta’ala. A person should at all times be concerned about his relationship with Allah Ta’ala and whether he is punctual upon fulfilling the deeni commands of Allah Ta’ala such as establishing salaah in his life, discharging zakaat, etc.

Similarly, he should be concerned about fulfilling the rights he owes to people and showing kindness to his family, neighbours, friends, orphans, the needy and the destitute. If a person becomes miserly, then he will not fulfil the right of Allah Ta’ala in his wealth by giving zakaat, nor will he fulfil the rights he owes to the servants of Allah Ta’ala by fulfilling the rights he owes to his poor relatives, neighbours, etc.

On one occasion, Rasulullah (salllalahu alaihi wasallam) was on a journey when he instructed that those who have an extra conveyance should assist those who do not have a conveyance.

Hazrat Abu Sa’eed (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) reports: On one occasion, we were on a journey with Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) when suddenly, a person riding a conveyance had come before Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). The person was in difficulty and hardship and was looking towards the right and the left in order to see if anyone could assist him in fulfilling his needs. On that occasion, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) exhorted the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) saying, “Whoever has an extra conveyance should assist the one who does not have any conveyance. The one who has extra provisions with him should assist those who do not have provisions.” Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) continued mentioning the different types of wealth (which a person should spend in sadaqah), encouraging and exhorting the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) to spend to such an extent that we felt as though the one who possesses anything exceeding his needs does not have a right to hold it back (rather, he should share it with those in need). (Saheeh Muslim #1728)

From this Hadith, we understand that the condition of a believer is such that he is not self-centred and conceited, and only concerned about the material progress of himself and his immediate family. Rather, he is concerned about the Muslims in general and looks for opportunities to assist people. Hence, such a person is ever-ready to assist people around him and shows kindness one and all, be they family, neighbours, friends or even the poor and needy.

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