Teensie-Weensie Tafsir Gems: Three Different Punishments

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

So, the last two posts were about Surah Ash-Shuara. You thought I was done with this Surah? Please. This Surah is FULL of treasures. In this post, I’ll mention a few more of them.

Two posts ago, I mentioned the beginning of the story of Shuaib (alaihissalaam) in this Surah. What happened in this story? Well, like all the other Prophets, he called his people to worship Allah alone, and like all the fools before them, they refused. After that, a very nice punishment was sent down for them.

فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَأَخَذَهُمْ عَذَابُ يَوْمِ الظُّلَّةِ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ

But they belied him, so the torment of the day of shadow (a gloomy cloud) seized them, indeed that was the torment of a Great Day. [Surah Ash-Shuara (26) : 189]

Now, the interesting part is that Shuaib’s (alaihimissalaam) story in Surah Al-Araaf and Surah Hud mention different punishments than the one mentioned above.

Surah Al-Araaf mentions an earthquake:

فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ الرَّجْفَةُ فَأَصْبَحُوا فِي دَارِهِمْ جَاثِمِينَ

So the earthquake seized them and they lay (dead), prostrate in their homes. [Surah Al-Araaf (7) : 91]

Surah Hud, on the other hand, mentions a shout (or a blast):

وَلَمَّا جَاءَ أَمْرُنَا نَجَّيْنَا شُعَيْبًا وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ بِرَحْمَةٍ مِّنَّا وَأَخَذَتِ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا الصَّيْحَةُ فَأَصْبَحُوا فِي دِيَارِهِمْ جَاثِمِينَ

And when Our Commandment came, We saved Shuaib and those who believed with him by a Mercy from Us. And As-Saihah (torment – awful cry, etc.) seized the wrong-doers, and they lay (dead) prostrate in their homes. [Surah Hud (11) : 94]

So which of the three punishments did these people get? Well, they got all of them, but they are mentioned in different surahs due to the context i.e what was mentioned before earlier on in the story.

Imam Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) stated in his explanation of Ayah 94 of Surah Hud:

Allah then says,

﴿وَلَمَّا جَآءَ أَمْرُنَا نَجَّيْنَا شُعَيْبًا وَالَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ مَعَهُ بِرَحْمَةٍ مِّنَّا وَأَخَذَتِ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ الصَّيْحَةُ فَأَصْبَحُواْ فِى دِيَـرِهِمْ جَـثِمِينَ ﴾

(And when Our commandment came, We saved Shuayb and those who believed with him by a mercy from Us. And As-Sayhah (awful cry) seized the wrongdoers, and they lay (Jathimin) in their homes.) His saying Jathimin means extinct and lifeless without any movement. Here Allah mentions that a loud cry (Sayhah) came to them. In Surat Al-Araaf He says a severe quake (Rajfah) came to them. In Surat Ash-Shuara, He said it was a torment of a cloudy day. They were one nation upon which all of these punishments were gathered on the day of their destruction. In each context, Allah only mentioned that which was suitable. In Surat Al-Araaf when they said,

﴿لَنُخْرِجَنَّكَ يـشُعَيْبُ وَالَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ مَعَكَ مِن قَرْيَتِنَآ﴾

(We shall certainly drive you out, O Shuayb, and those who have believed with you from our town.)(7:88) In this verse it was suitable to mention a tremor, or quake (Rajfah). The earth in which they practiced their wrongdoing and they wanted to expel their Prophet from it, shook them.

Here, due to their disrespectful manners in speaking to their Prophet, Allah mentioned the awful cry (Sayhah) which overcame them and killed them.

In Surat Ash-Shuara when they said,

﴿فَأَسْقِطْ عَلَيْنَا كِسَفاً مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ إِن كُنتَ مِنَ الصَّـدِقِينَ ﴾

(So cause a piece of the heaven to fall on us, if you are of the truthful!) (26:187) Allah said in response,

﴿فَأَخَذَهُمْ عَذَابُ يَوْمِ الظُّلَّةِ إِنَّهُ كَانَ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ﴾

(So the torment of the day of Shadow seized them. Indeed that was the torment of a Great Day.)(26:189) This is from the intricate secrets and to Allah belongs all praise and much bounty forever.”

Ibn Kathir provided more information in his book, Stories of the Prophets (which is actually part of a larger book) when he discussed the story of Shuaib (alaihissalam).

He stated:

“In Surah Al-Araaf, it is mentioned that they were seized by an earthquake. The earth was shaken so violently that their souls departed their bodies immediately and they fell lifeless.

Allah has inflicted upon them different kinds of punishments and adversities. They were first hit by a strong earthquake, which made them fall lifeless, and then there was a tremendous Blast, and then a shadowing gloom which brought upon them a shower of ashes and cinder.

However, Allah has informed us of these punishments in different chapters according to its context and rhythm. In Al-Araaf, He said that they were seized by an earthquake. According to this context, his people shook him and his companions, and threatened them to be expelled from the town, or else they should return to their previous religion. So Allah said:

فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ الرَّجْفَةُ فَأَصْبَحُوا فِي دَارِهِمْ جَاثِمِينَ

So the earthquake seized them and they lay (dead), prostrate in their homes. [Surah Al-Araaf (7) : 91]

But in Surah Hud, according to its context, Shuaib and his companions were derided and scolded:

قَالُوا يَا شُعَيْبُ أَصَلَاتُكَ تَأْمُرُكَ أَن نَّتْرُكَ مَا يَعْبُدُ آبَاؤُنَا أَوْ أَن نَّفْعَلَ فِي أَمْوَالِنَا مَا نَشَاءُ ۖ إِنَّكَ لَأَنتَ الْحَلِيمُ الرَّشِيدُ

They said: “O Shuaib! Does your Salah (prayer) (i.e. the prayers which you offer has spoiled your mind, so you) command that we leave off what our fathers used to worship, or that we leave off doing what we like with our property? Verily, you are the forbearer, right-minded!” (They said this sarcastically). [Surah Hud (11) : 87]

So shout met shout (Blast) and they were seized and destroyed by a Blast.

The punishment mentioned in Surah Ash-Shuara is an overshadowing gloom, and that was in the context of what they said to him:

قَالُوا إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مِنَ الْمُسَحَّرِينَ

وَمَا أَنتَ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُنَا وَإِن نَّظُنُّكَ لَمِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ

فَأَسْقِطْ عَلَيْنَا كِسَفًا مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ إِن كُنتَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ

قَالَ رَبِّي أَعْلَمُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَأَخَذَهُمْ عَذَابُ يَوْمِ الظُّلَّةِ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ

They said: “You are only one of those bewitched! You are but a human being like us and verily, we think that you are one of the liars! So cause a piece of the heaven to fall on us, if you are of the truthful!”

He said: “My Lord is the Best Knower of what you do.”

But they belied him, so the torment of the day of shadow (a gloomy cloud) seized them, indeed that was the torment of a Great Day. [Surah Ash-Shuara (26) : 185-189]

It is mentioned in this context that they were seized by a severe heat, and the wind stopped blowing for seven days by Allah’s permission. Neither any water cooled them nor any shade relieved them from the heat. So they left for open places, and there came a cloud which they gathered underneath. When they all gathered in that one place, Allah sent from that cloud sparks, a shower of ashes and cinders. And then the earth was shaken, and a Blast came from the sky, and so they all fell lifeless.

فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ الرَّجْفَةُ فَأَصْبَحُوا فِي دَارِهِمْ جَاثِمِينَ

الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا شُعَيْبًا كَأَن لَّمْ يَغْنَوْا فِيهَا

So the earthquake seized them and they lay (dead), prostrate in their homes. Those who belied Shuaib, became as if they had never dwelt there (in their homes).

[Surah Al-Araaf (7) : 91-Part of 92]”

And that’s not all.

See, in Surah Al-Araaf, when it mentions the earthquake (Ar-Rajfah), “daarihim” i.e. their home (singular) is used, whereas in Surah Hud, when it mentions the shout or Blast (As-Saihah), “diyaarihim” i.e. their homes (plural) is used. This fact is not reflected in the English translation.

One of my classmates in my hifdh (Quran memorisation) class first alerted me to this difference, may Allah reward her. I rechecked and found an explanation by Shaikh Fadhil As-Saamaraaee (of Lumasaat Al-Bayaaniyyah fame) and by Shaikh Yasir Bayoomee (in his book Al-Mushaf Al-Mufassar) which confirmed what she said and added to it.

So, let me explain this in my own words: An earthquake is limited to the area in which it hits, whereas a shout or blast affects a wider area (because it comes from the sky and extends further than an earthquake), therefore the latter is more powerful (and more destructive).

So, because As-Saihah (shout) is deadlier, the plural (homes) is used to show more destruction, whereas Ar-Rajfah causes less destruction (comparatively speaking) so the singular (home) is used. It doesn’t mean that only one home was destroyed. It’s just a way of showing that it was less destructive than As-Saihah, because its damage was only limited to the area which it affected.

And please note: In the Quran, Ar-Rajfah only comes with daarihim (home: singular) and As-Saihah only comes with diyaarihim (home: plural).

Fascinating, isn’t it?

Now, what’s the ultimate lesson that we can learn from all of this? Well, I would say two things:

  1. The people of Shuaib (alaihissalaam) disbelieved in Allah and also used to cheat people. So, anyone who disbelieves in Allah and/or cheats people should really worry about getting hit with these type of punishments!

2. The Quran needs to be pondered over and studied properly. Nobody can expect to spend 3 minutes a week on it and then assume that all its treasures will be made available to them!

This is the Speech of the Lord of the Worlds and the greatest miracle given to our Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) so we HAVE to spend time with it.

PS. Yes, I know that this was not a Teensie-Weensie post but I hope that it was worth it.

Please do share this with others, baarakallahu feek.Print this pageEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

2 thoughts on “Teensie-Weensie Tafsir Gems: Three Different Punishments”

  1. سلام عليك و رحمة الله وبركاته

    جزاك الله خيرا

    Have benefited immensely from your posts for 8 years now.

    Perhaps if the writing style was a tad more formal, it would appeal to a wider audience (those who are new to the blog), just a thought, you may see it differently.

    Lastly, have the posts on “best month” blog been moved here or we still need to go back to that one for the older posts?

    و السلام عليك

    1. Wa Alaikum Assalam Wa Rahmathullahi Wa Barakathuh.

      Jazakallahu kheira for the suggestion. I will try to apply it where possible, in shaa Allah.

      The greatest month posts haven’t been moved, so you would need to go back there for all the old posts.

Share Your Thoughts