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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 83: (Al-Tatfif: Default of Duty)


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Chapter 83: (Al-Tatfif: Default of Duty)
(Revealed at Makkah: 1 section; 36 verses)

1. Introduction:

This chapter condemns those who give short measure or short weight and thus cheat others or make a default in any of their duties; hence the name. At the same time we are told that those who fulfil their duties are exalted. It continues the subject-matter of the preceding chapter and explains the nature of the two records, the record of the wicked and the record of the righteous. Why do the righteous prosper? Because they fulfil their duties and are true to their obligations. Why do the guilty suffer and perish? Because they defraud and cheat others and are not true to their responsibilities. It teaches the utmost rectitude in one’s dealings. Its revelation belongs to the early Makkan period.

2. Translation:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

1 Woe to the cheaters!a

2 Who, when they take the measure (of their dues) from men, take it fully,

3 And when they measure out to others or weigh out for them, they give less than is due.

4 Do they not think that they will be raised again,

5 To a mighty day? —

6 The day when men will stand before the Lord of the worlds.

7 Nay, surely the record of the wicked is in the prison.a

8 And what will make thee know what the prison is?

9 It is a written book.

10 Woe on that day to the rejecters!

11 Who give the lie to the day of Judgment.

12 And none gives the lie to it but every exceeder of limits, every sinful one;

13 When Our messages are recited to him, he says: Stories of those of yore!

14 Nay, rather, what they earned is rust upon their hearts.

15 Nay, surely they are that day debarred from their Lord.a

16 Then they will surely enter the burning Fire.

17 Then it will be said: This is what you gave the lie to.

18 Nay, surely the record of the righteous is in the highest places.a

19 And what will make thee know what the highest places are?

20 It is a written book.

21 Those drawn near (to Allah) witness it.

22 Surely the righteous are in bliss,

23 On raised couches, gazing —

24 Thou recognisest in their faces the brightness of bliss.

25 They are given to drink of a pure drink, sealed.

26 The sealing of it is (with) musk. And for that let the aspirers aspire.

27 And it is tempered with water coming from abovea

28 A fountain from which drink those drawn near (to Allah).

29 Surely they who are guilty used to laugh at those who believe.

30 And when they passed by them, they winked at one another,

31 And when they returned to their people, they returned exulting.

32 And when they saw them, they said: Surely these are in error —

33 And they were not sent as keepers over them.

34 So this day those who believe laugh at the disbelieversa

35 On raised couches, gazing.

36 Surely the disbelievers are rewarded as they did.

3. Commentary:

1a. Mutaffif is one who gives short measure and short weight, thus cheating his companion (LL). Taffafa (inf. n. tatfif, which is the title of this chapter) means he made defective or deficient in a general sense, and you say taffafa al-mikyal or al-mizan to indicate that he gave short measure or short weight (LL). But the word is used in a wider sense. A man did not attend the prayer in time, and being questioned by ‘Umar, offered some excuse, to which ‘Umar replied, taffafta, which is explained as meaning naqasta, i.e., thou hast made a default (N). Hence the mutaffif in are not only those who cheat others by giving them less than what is their due, but also those who made a default in any of their duties. The taking of the measure and the measuring out, in the next two verses, must also be read in a general sense. [Back to verse 1]

7a. Sijjin is supposed by some to be the name of a place of a most degraded nature, but LA gives sijjin as the equivalent of sijn, meaning a prison; this is also the interpretation preferred by Zj, A‘Ub and Mubarrad (Rz). But this prison should not be taken as signifying a gaol, for in the verses that follow the Qur’an itself explains what this prison is. In v. 9, it is spoken of as a written book. This written book or record, which preserves the deeds of the evildoers, is called a prison because it keeps their faculties for the doing of good shut up as within a prison, and the very consequences of their evil deeds hamper their progress. See vv. 14 and 15, where the actions of the evildoers are spoken of as being rust on their hearts, and they are further referred to as being debarred from their Lord. [Back to verse 7]

15a. The punishment of the wicked is here described as their being debarred from their Lord. They have no consciousness of the Higher Presence and, being thus debarred from their Lord in this life, enter the burning Fire in the next, as plainly stated in the verse that follows. [Back to verse 15]

18a. ‘Illiyyun is said by some to be the plural of ‘illi and by others to be that of ‘illiyyah, while still others hold that it has no singular (LL). Like sijjin, some would make it a proper name, but others rightly consider it to mean (from ‘ala, meaning it was high) the highest of places and the most exalted of grades and the one (bringing a man) nearest to Allah in the latter abode (N). But note that, like sijjin, it is not the name of a place but that of a record (v. 20); Q and Az give similar explanations. The highest places are thus the records of the best deeds, which enable a man to soar high and cut off the chains which bind him to low desires. [Back to verse 18]

27a. Tasnim is generally taken to be a proper name, but bearing in mind what has been said regarding sijjin and ‘illiyyun, Zj’s interpretation, a water coming upon them from above (LL), is preferable. The water coming from above signifies spiritually the knowledge of Allah (Rz), because it is from this source that those who are drawn nigh to Allah (v. 28) are made to drink. [Back to verse 27]

34a. The laughing of the believers is not to be taken literally. The word dahikah, which literally means laughing, also occurs elsewhere regarding the faces of the righteous (80:39), and signifies only the brightness of hope in their faces. The laughing in this case simply expresses a condition of joy which should make one laugh. The reversal of the condition of the believers and the disbelievers is all that is meant. [Back to verse 34]

 

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Chapter 82: Al-Infitar (The Cleaving)

Chapter 84: Al-Inshiqaq (The Bursting Asunder)

Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 83: (Al-Tatfif: Default of Duty)


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