Surah Balad Ayat 1 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 1
I swear by this city, Makkah –
I do call to witness this City;-
Nay! I swear by this city
I swear by this city (Makkah);
Nay, I swear by this city –
No! I swear by this country, – (Or: city)
I swear by this city––
Quran 90 Verse 1 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Balad ayat 1, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(90:1) Nay! I swear by this city
1. As we have explained in(E.N.1 of Surah Al-Qiyamah), to begin a discourse with a Nay and resume it with an oath means that the people were asserting a wrong thing to refute which it was said: Nay, the truth is not that which you seem to assert, but I swear by such and such a thing that the truth is this and this. As for the question what it was to refute which this discourse was sent down, it is indicated by the theme that follows. The disbelievers of Makkah said that there was nothing wrong with the way of life that they were following, as if to say: Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die in the natural process of time. Muhammad (peace be upon him), without any reason, is finding fault with this way of life and warning us that we would at some time in the future be called to account for it and rewarded and punished accordingly.
2. This City: the city of Makkah. There was no need here to explain why an oath was being sworn by this City. The people of Makkah were well aware of the background and importance of their city and knew how in the midst of desolate mountains, in an un-cultivated, barren valley, the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) had brought his wife and suckling child and left them there without any support; how he had built a House there and proclaimed to the people to visit it as pilgrims when there was no soul for miles around to hear the proclamation, and then how this city had eventually become the commercial and religious centre of Arabia and was blessed with such sacredness that there was no other place of security beside it in that lawless land for centuries.
1. Nay! I swear by this city; 2. And you are free in this city. 3. And by the begetter and that which he begot. 4. Verily, We have created man in Kabad. 5. Does he think that none can overcome him 6. He says: “I have wasted wealth in abundance!” 7. Does he think that none sees him 8. Have We not made for him two eyes 9. And a tongue and two lips 10. And shown him the two ways
Here Allah has sworn by Makkah, the Mother of the Towns, addressing its resident (during the non-sacred months,) free in this city in order to draw his attention to the significance of its sanctity when its people are in the state of sanctity. Khusayf reported from Mujahid;
(Nay! I swear by this city;) “The word “La” (Nay) refers to the refutation against them (Quraish). I swear by this city.” Shabib bin Bishr narrated from `Ikrimah, from Ibn `Abbas that he said,
(Nay! I swear by this city;) “This means Makkah.” Concerning the Ayah:
(And you are free in this city.) he (Ibn `Abbas) said, “O Muhammad! It is permissable for you to fight in it.” Similar was reported from Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Salih, `Atiyah, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “Allah made it lawful (to fight in) for him (the Prophet ) for one hour of a day.” The meaning of what they have said was mentioned in a Hadith that is agreed- upon as being authentic. In it the Prophet said,
(Verily, Allah made this city sacred on the Day that He created the heavens and the earth. Therefore, it is sacred by the sanctity of Allah until the Day of Judgement. Its trees should not be uprooted, and its bushes and grasses should not be removed. And it was only made lawful for me (to fight in) for one hour of a day. Today its sanctity has been restored just as it was sacred yesterday. So, let the one who is present inform those who are absent.) In another wording of this Hadith, he said,
(So, if anyone tries to use the fighting of the Messenger (to conquer Makkah) as an excuse (to fight there), then tell him that Allah permitted it for His Messenger and He has not permitted it for you.) Concerning Allah’s statement,
(And by the begetter and that which he begot.) Mujahid, Abu Salih, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, Sufyan Ath-Thawri, Sa`id bin Jubayr, As-Suddi, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Khusayf, Shurahbil bin Sa`d and others have said, “Meaning, by the begetter, Adam, and that which he begot is his children.” This view that Mujahid and his companions have chosen is good and strong. This is supported by the fact that Allah swears by the Mother of the Towns, which are dwellings. Then after it He swears by the dwellers therein, who is Adam, the father of mankind, and his children. Abu `Imran Al-Jawni said, “It refers to Ibrahim and his progeny.” Ibn Jarir recorded this statement as did Ibn Abi Hatim. Ibn Jarir preferred the view that it is general and it refers to every father and his children. This meaning is also acceptable. Allah then says,
(Verily, We have created man in Kabad.) Ibn Abi Najih and Jurayj reported from `Ata, from Ibn `Abbas concerning the phrase `in Kabad’, “He was created while in hardship. Don’t you see him” Then he mentioned his birth and the sprouting of his teeth. Mujahid said,
(in Kabad.) “A drop of sperm, then a clot, then a lump of flesh, enduring in his creation.” Mujahid then said, “This is similar to Allah’s statement,
(His mother bears him with hardship. And she brings him forth with hardship.) (46:15) and she breast-feeds him with hardship, and his livelihood is a hardship. So he endures all of this.” Sa`id bin Jubayr said,
(Verily, We have created man in Kabad.) “In hardship and seeking livelihood.” `Ikrimah said, “In hardship and long-suffering.” Qatadah said, “In difficulty.” It is reported from Al-Hasan that he said, “Enduring the hardships of the world by life and the severity of the Hereafter.”
(Does he think that none can overcome him) Al-Hasan Al-Basri said,
(Does he think that none can overcome him) “Meaning no one is able to take his wealth.” Qatadah said,
(Does he think that none can overcome him) “The Son of Adam thinks that he will not be asked about this wealth of his — how he earned and how he spent it.” Allah said:
(He says: “I have wasted wealth in abundance!”) This means, the Son of Adam says, “I spent an abundance of wealth.” Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi and others have said this.
(Does he think that none sees him) Mujahid said, “Does he think that Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, does not see him.” Others among the Salaf have said similar to this. Allah said;
(Have We not made for him two eyes) meaning, for him to see with them.
(And a tongue) meaning, for him to speak with, and so that he can express that which is inside of him.
(and two lips) In order to help him with speaking, eating food, and beautifying his face and his mouth.
(And shown him the two ways) This refers to the two paths. Sufyan Ath-Thawri narrated from `Asim, from Zirr, from `Abdullah bin Mas`ud that he said,
(And shown him the two ways) “The good and the evil.” Similar to this has been reported from `Ali, Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Abu Wa’il, Abu Salih, Muhammad bin Ka`b, Ad-Dahhak, and `Ata’ Al-Khurasani among others. Similar to this Ayah is Allah’s statement,
(Verily, We have created man from Nutfah Amshaj, in order to try him: so We made him hearer and seer. Verily, We showed him the way, whether he be grateful or ungrateful.) (76:2-3)
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