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Surah An-Najm

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Maududi's Commentry (Tafseer) on Surah An-Najm

Mecca Mecca (23)
62Total Ayat: 62
3Total Ruku: 3


The Sarah derives its name from the very first word wan Najm. Thistitle also does not relate to the subject matter, but is a name givento the Surah as a symbol.

Period of Revelation

According to a Tradition related by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud andNasai, on the authority of Hadrat Abdullah bin Mas'ud, the first Surahin which a versa requiring the performance of a sajdah (prostration)as sent down, is Surah An-Najm. The parts of this Hadith which havebeen reported by Aswad bin Yazid, Abu Ishaq and Zubair bin Mu'awiyahfrom Hadrat Ibn Mas'ud, indicate that this is the first Surah of theQur'an, which the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be uponhim) had publicly recited before an assembly of the Quraish (andaccording to Ibn Marduyah, in the Ka'bah) in which both the believersand the disbelievers were present. At the end, when he recited theverse requiring the performance of a sajdah and fell down inprostration, the whole assembly also fall down in prostration with him,and even those chiefs of the polytheists who were in the forefront ofthe opposition to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah beupon him) could not resist falling down in prostration. Ibn Mas'ud(may Allah be pleased with him) says that he saw only one man, Umayyahbin Khalaf, from among the disbelievers, who did not fall down inprostration but took a little dust and rubbing it on his forehead saidthat that was enough for him. Later, as Ibn Mas'ud relates, he sawthis man being killed in the state of disbelief.

Another eye witnessof this incident is Hadrat Muttalib bin Abi Wada'ah, who had not yetbecome a Muslim. Nasai and Musnad Ahmad contain his own words to theeffect: "When the Holy Prophet recited the Surah An-Najm and performedthe sajdah and the whole assembly fell down in prostration along withhim, I did not perform the sajdah. Now to compensate for the samewhenever I recite this Surah I make sure never to abandon itsperformance."

Ibn Sad says that before this, in the Rajab of the 5thyear of Prophethood, a small group of the Companions had emigrated toAbyssinia. Then, when in the Ramadan of the same year this incidenttook place the news spread that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessingsof Allah be upon him) had recited Surah An-Najm publicly in theassembly of the Quraish and the whole assembly, including the believersas well as the disbelievers, had fallen down in prostration with him.When the emigrants to Abyssinia heard this news they formed theimpression that the disbelievers of Makkah had become Muslims.Thereupon, some of them returned to Makkah in the Shawwal of the 5thyear of Prophethood, only to learn that the news was wrong and theconflict between Islam and disbelief was raging as furiously as before.Consequently, the second emigration to Abyssinia took place, in whichmany more people left Makkah.

Thus, it becomes almost certain thatthis Surah was revealed in the Ramadan of 5th year of Prophethood.

Historical Background

The details of the period of revelation as given above point to theconditions in which this Surah was revealed. During the first fiveyears of his appointment as a Prophet, the Holy Prophet (peace andblessings of Allah be upon him) had been extending invitation toAllah's Religion by presenting the Divine Revelations before thepeople only in private and restricted meetings and assemblies. Duringthis whole period he could never have a chance to recite the Quranbefore a common gathering openly, mainly because of the strongopposition and resistance from the disbelievers. They were well awareof how magnetic and captivating was the Holy Prophet's personality andhis way of preaching and how impressive were the Revelations of theQur'an. Therefore, they tried their best to avoid hearing it them-selves and to stop others also from hearing it and to suppress hisinvitation by false propaganda by spreading every kind of suspicionagainst him. For this object, on the one hand, they were telling thepeople that Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) hadgone astray and was now bent upon misleading others as well; on theother hand, they would raise on uproar whenever he tried to presentthe Qur'an before the people so that no one could know what it was forwhich he was being branded as a misled and misguided person.

Such werethe conditions when the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah beupon him) suddenly stood up one day to make a speech in the sacred precincts of the Ka'bah, where a large number of the Quraish had gatheredtogether. Allah at that time made him deliver this discourse, which wehave now in the form of the Surah An-Najm with us. Such was theintensity of the impression that when the Holy Prophet (peace andblessings of Allah be upon him) started reciting it the opponents wereso completely overwhelmed that they could not think of raising anydisorder, and when at the conclusion he fell down in prostration, theytoo fell down in prostration along with him. Later they felt greatremorse at the weakness they had involuntarily shown. The people alsostarted taunting them to the effect that whereas they had beenforbidding others to listen to the Qur'an, that day not only had theythemselves listened to it, with complete absorption but had evenfallen down in prostration along with Muhammad (peace and blessings ofAllah be upon him). At last, they had to invent a story in order toget rid of the people's taunt and ridicule. They said "After he hadrecited afara'ait-ul Lata wal Uzza wa Manat ath-thalitha-al ukhra, weheard from Muhammad the words: tilk al-gharaniqa- tal-'ula, wa annashafa'at-u-hunna latarja: 'They are exalted goddesses: indeed, theirintercession may be expected.' From this we understood that Muhammadhad returned to our faith." As a matter of fact, only a mad personcould think that in the context of this Surah the sentences theyclaimed to have heard could have any place and relevance.(For details,please see E. N.'s 96 to 301 of Surah Al Hajj).

Subject Matter and Topics

The theme of the discourse is to warn the disbelievers of Makkah aboutthe error of the attitude that they had adopted towards the Qur'an andthe Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

Thediscourse starts in a way as if to say: "Muhammad is neither deludednor gone astray, as you are telling others in your propaganda againsthim, nor has he fabricated this teaching of Islam and its message, asyou seem to think he has. In fact, whatever he is presenting isnothing but Revelation which is sent down to him. The verities that bepresents before you, are not the product of his own surmise andspeculation but realities of which he himself is an eye witness. Hehas himself seen the Angel through whom this knowledge is conveyed tohim. He has been directly made to observe the great Signs of his Lord:whatever he says is not what he has himself thought out but what hehas seen with his own eyes. Therefore, your disputing and wranglingwith him is just like the disputing and wrangling of a blind man witha man of sight over a thing which the blind man cannot see but he cansee."

After this, three things have been presented in their successiveorder:

First, the listeners have been made to understand that: "Thereligion that you are following is based on mere conjecture andinvented ideas. You have set up a few goddesses like Lat and Manat andUzza as your deities, whereas they have no share whatever in divinity.You regard the angels as the daughters of Allah, whereas you regard adaughter as disgraceful for your own selves. You think that thesedeities of fours can influence Allah in your favor, whereas the factis that all the angels together, who are stationed closest to Allah,cannot influence Him even in their own favor. None of such beliefsthat you have adopted, is based on knowledge and reason, but arewishes and desires for the sake of which you have taken some whims asrealities. This is a grave error. The right and true religion is thatwhich is in conformity to the reality, and the reality is neversubject to thee people's wishes and desires so that whatever they mayregard as a reality and truth should become the reality and truth.Speculation and conjecture cannot help to determine as to what isaccording to the truth and what is not; it is knowledge. When thatknowledge is presented before you, you turn away from it, and brandthe one who tells you the truth as misguided. The actual cause of yourbeing involved in this error is that you are heedless of the Hereafter.Only this world is your goal. Therefore, you have neither any desirefor the knowledge of reality, nor you bother to see 'whether thebeliefs you hold are according to the truth or not.

Secondly, thepeople have been told that: Allah is the caster and Sovereign of theentire Universe. The righteous is he who follows His way, and themisguided he who has turned away from His way. The error of themisguided and the righteousness of the righteous are not hidden fromHim. He knows whatever everyone is doing: He will requite the evilwith evil and the good with good. The final judgment will not dependon what you consider yourself to be, and on tall claims you make ofyour purity and chastity but on whether you are pious or impious,righteous or unrighteous, in the sight of God. If you refrain frommajor sins, He in His mercy will overlook your minor errors.'' .

Thirdly, a few basic principles of the true Religion which had beenpresented hundreds of years before the revelation of the Qur'an in theBooks of the Prophets Abraham and Moses have been reiterated so thatthe people did not remain involved in the misunderstanding that theProphet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) hadbrought some new and novel religion, but they should know that theseare the fundamental truths which the former Prophets of Allah havealways been presenting in their respective ages. Besides, the sameBooks have been quoted to confirm the historical facts that thedestruction of the 'Ad and the Thamud and of the people of theProphets Noah and Lot was not the result of accidental calamities, butAllah has destroyed them in consequence of the same wickedness andrebellion from which the disbelievers of Makkah were not inclined torefrain and desist in any case.

After presenting these themes anddiscourses the Surah has been concluded, thus: "The Hour of Judgmenthas approached near at hand, which no one can avert. Before theoccurrence of that Hour you are being warned through Muhammad (peaceand blessings of Allah be upon him) and the Quran in the like manneras the former people had been warned before. Now, is it this warningthat you find novel and strange? Which you mock and ridicule? Whichyou turn away from and cause disorder so that no one else also is ableto hear what it is ? Don't you feel like weeping at your folly andignorance? Abandon this attitude and behavior, bow down to Allah andserve Him alone!"

This was that impressive conclusion hearing whicheven the most hardened deniers of the Truth were completelyoverwhelmed, and when after reciting these verses of Divine Word theHoly Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)fell down in prostration, they too could not help falling down inprostration along with him.

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