Friday, June 17, 2011

Surah At-Teen and What it Means to Us - Part I

From Skinny Secrets
As youth sometimes it is a little difficult to relate to the glorious Qur'an. We seem to think that because it was sent 1400 years ago and in the middle of the desert, it's hard to find links with the lives we lead today.

InshaAllah I will attempt to look at Surah At-Teen and try to bring to light some of the thoughts and emotions we should feel when reading this surah. Why surah At-Teen? Because it's a relatively short surah, a number of us would have memorised it and I find it to be a beautiful surah with some very important lessons. For the tafseer of this surah I have relied on two sources, Imam Suhaib Webb's tafseer and Nouman Ali Khan's tafseer (Audio: part 1 and part 2, transcript).

1. By the fig, and the olive,
2. By Mount Sinai,
3. And by this city of security (Makkah),
4. Verily, We created man of the best stature (mould),
5. Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low,
6. Save those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous deeds, then they shall have a reward without end (Paradise).
7. Then what (or who) causes you (O disbelievers) to deny the Recompense (i.e. Day of Resurrection)?
8. Is not Allah the Best of judges?

I will attempt to divide the series according to the following: verses 1 to 3 (the oaths), verses 4 to 8 and finally the lessons we can learn.

The Oaths

By the fig, and by the olive
Wateeni wazzaytoon.

When Allah uses "wa" in this context Allah is swearing by something. He swears by certain things in order to draw attention to other things. The intensity of this oath is extremely strong. Imam Suhaib likens it to when one says something like "I swear on my mother's grave...!" (although we should never swear on anything besides Allah). So Allah is saying “I swear by the fig and I swear by the olive...”. Thus Allah is emphasising a point and telling the reader/reciter to wake up and pay attention, something big is coming your way.

I swear by Mount Sinai
Wa toori seneen

And by this city of security (Makkah)
Wahaadha albaladi al-ameen

In the first three verses Allah swears by five things: the fig, the olive, Mount Sinai and Makkah. Because Allah indicates that there is a high level of emphasis on these objects there must be something important about them. What benefits could they have?

It has been reported that figs are fruits from paradise and we know that it is a blessed fruit. There are many health benefits for figs as well. As for olives, Allah says in a beautiful verse:
“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.” [The Light, verse 35]
So we know also that olives are a blessed fruit and we know that they contain monounsaturated fat (the good kind of fat) and vitamin E. Infact the Mediterranean diet which utilises olive oil primarily (along with fruits, vegetables and fish) is known for being a diet that reduces the risk of heart disease!

What about the two locations. Both locations are the locations of revelations, one for Prophet Musa (as) and one for Prophet Muhammad (saw). Both are locations steeped in history and spirituality and there is no doubt that anyone who knows of this significance will not be moved to stand at the same place where these two Messengers of Allah stood and received divine words.

Some scholars are of the opinion that Allah is swearing by the literal meaning of these four objects. When Allah swears by His creation it is an evidence that they are amongst his Great Signs. Each of them have been honoured in other parts of the Qur’an or in the Sunnah, and also have wordly benefit.

However there is another opinion. In classical Arabic it was the habit to call a place by something that was most populous in that area. In light of this it means Allah is possibly swearing by a place where lots of fig trees grow. A possible location for this is Mount Judi, where Prophet Nuh's (as) ark landed. Thus when Allah swears by the fig He is swearing by Prophet Nuh (as).

Similarly a place where many olives grow is the city of Jerusalem and the area around Masjid al Aqsa. The most famous person from this area is Prophet Isa (as). However this could also be referring to Prophet Ibrahim (as), who also has ties to the city.

Going further, swearing by Mount Sinai is a reference to Prophet Musa (as), and swearing by Makkah is a reference to both Prophet Ibrahim (as) and Prophet Muhammad (saw).

Thus we can see that not only is Allah telling us the blessings in these four objects or five great personalities. He is also ranking them more blessed to most blessed with He is also alluding to five great personalities, with RasulAllah being the last and most blessed of them.

Another function of the repeated “wa” and the repeated swearing by is that it prolongs the oath and keeps us waiting for the subject. Remember that when you swear by something the sentence has two parts. For example “I swear by Allah, I...” The repeated swearing keep up the suspense and because the objects that Allah is swearing by keep getting more blessed and more important the reader/reciter is getting primed. “I swear by this, I swear by that, I swear by something else and something else...”

What is to come must surely be of importance.

In the next part we’ll look at what is so important and mind blowing that Allah swears by multiple things.


Anonymous said...

The Surah points to 4 locations. Tin (Nuh- Damascus), Zaitun (Baitul Maqdis- Isa), Thur Sina (Egypt- Musa), Baladil Amin(Makkah- Muhd & Ibrahim).

Some scholars (Terjermahan Alquran Keluaran Maktab Raja Fahd, Madinah) believe that they point to the Place of Origin of the Rasul Ulul Azmi.

([1587.] Yang dimaksud dengan Tin oleh sebagian ahli Tafsir ialah tempat tinggal Nabi Nuh, yaitu Damaskus yang banyak pohon Tin; dan Zaitun ialah Baitul Maqdis yang banyak tumbuh Zaitun.)

So from the time of Adam there has been largely four rise and falls of civilisations. Each commenced with each place of origin and each Prophet mentioned above.

Thus the continuation "That man was created in the best of creations and brought to the lowest of conditions". That was the lowest of and darkest of time in Islamic civilisation." And that was the time that man was sent the Rasul Ulul Azmi to lead man back to the Light of Allah.

Any discussions?

Anonymous said...

Yes the first creation who was the best of all creation then sent to the lowest of all situations was Adam.

But in the traditions of the Prophets we see and read the Rise and Fall of Civilisations just as Adams life had been (MACRO).

We must learn from the sunnah then we can read (in a MICRO way) the rise and fall of our current Economy)

Anonymous said...

Thus those who are righteous Metaphisycally, Socially, Economically, Politically shall be saved during those bad times.

And it is for those disbelievers the fall (In civilisation, in economic crunch).

For them is the final day Akhirat, and the righteous will stand. The Ulul Azmi will stand on the day of Raising. Qiamat. Where each ulul azmi shal Qiam. Stand.

For we believe too in the small Akhirat and the small Qiamat.

Save those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous deeds, then they shall have a reward without end (Paradise).
7. Then what (or who) causes you (O disbelievers) to deny the Recompense (i.e. Day of Resurrection)?

Shazeea said...

Salam Ritz Chewan. That's an interesting point and something for our leaders to be aware of. Thank you for your comments.

Unknown said...

I had a dream that some one guy in a group of people gives me a paper and tells me to read these Quran verse WATEENI WAZZAYTONI. I was trying to read it but I wasn't fluent in it. So he started laughing, which made me really sad and embarrassed. Can you please tell me what that mean?

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