Assalamualaikum.

Surah At Tin (Arabic: التين‎) is the 95th Surah of the Qur’an. It is composed of 8 ayat (verses) and the title of the Surah in English is “The Fig” or “The Figtree”. It is a Meccan Surah, meaning it’s revelation was before the Prophet (ﷺ) and his followers migrated from Mecca to Medinah.

The main message of this Surah is Allah telling Humans that they have been made in the best stature. And those “who believe and do righteous deeds, for they will have a reward uninterrupted” will not be among “the lowest of lows”.

One of the goals of the My Islam site is to make it easier to read and understand the Qur’an. So below every Arabic ayah we’ve provided the transliteration and Sahih International translation. At the end of the Surah Tin we’ve included Tafseer for those looking to gain a deeper understanding behind this chapter of the Qur’an.

 

Read Surah Tin with Translation and Transliteration

Bismillah Hir Rahman Nir Raheem
in the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful

وَالتِّينِ وَالزَّيْتُونِ

Wa teeni wa zaytoon 
1. By the fig and the olive

وَطُورِ سِينِينَ

Wa toori sineen
2. And [by] Mount Sinai

وَهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ الْأَمِينِ

Wa haazal balad-il ameen
3. And [by] this secure city [Makkah],

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ

Laqad khalaqnal insaana fee ahsani taqweem
4. We have certainly created man in the best of stature;

ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ

Thumma radadnahu asfala safileen
5. Then We return him to the lowest of the low,

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ

Ill-lal lazeena aamanoo wa ‘amilus saalihaati; falahum ajrun ghairu mamnoon
6. Except for those who believe and do righteous deeds, for they will have a reward uninterrupted.

فَمَا يُكَذِّبُكَ بَعْدُ بِالدِّينِ

Fama yu kaz zibuka b’adu bid deen
7. So what yet causes you to deny the Recompense?

أَلَيْسَ اللَّهُ بِأَحْكَمِ الْحَاكِمِينَ

Alaysa Allahu bi-ahkami alhakimeen
8. Is not Allah the most just of judges?

Tafsir of Surah At Tin

Here you can read the various tafseer of Surah Tin. It’s one thing to read the Qur’an and in Arabic and it’s a completely different experience to seek to understand the teachings of the Surah, to learn about the purpose of it’s revelation, to be curious and find out the historical context in which it was revealed. Below we provided four different Tafsir of Surah Tin so you can expand your understanding of the Qur’an.

Surah At Tin Tafseer by Ibn katheer

Which was revealed in Makkah
The Recitation of Surat At-Tin in the Prayer while traveling

Malik and Shu`bah narrated from `Adi bin Thabit, who narrated that Al-Bara’ bin `Azib said, “The Prophet used to recite in one of his Rak`ahs while traveling `At-Tin waz-Zaytun’ (Surat At-Tin), and I have never heard anyone with a nicer voice or recitation than him.” The Group has recorded this Hadith in their books.

﴿بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ ﴾

 

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

The Explanation of At-Tin and what comes after it

Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas that what is meant by At-Tin is the Masjid of Nuh that was built upon Mount Al-Judi. Mujahid said, “It is this fig that you have.”

﴿وَالزَّيْتُونِ﴾

 

(By Az-Zaytun.) Ka`b Al-Ahbar, Qatadah, Ibn Zayd and others have said, “It is the Masjid of Jerusalem (Bayt Al-Maqdis).” Mujahid and `Ikrimah said, “It is this olive which you press (to extract the oil).”

﴿وَطُورِ سِينِينَ ﴾

 

(By Tur Sinin.) Ka`b Al-Ahbar and several others have said, “It is the mountain upon which Allah spoke to Musa.”

﴿وَهَـذَا الْبَلَدِ الاٌّمِينِ ﴾

 

(By this city of security.) meaning Makkah. This was said by Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i, Ibn Zayd and Ka`b Al-Ahbar. There is no difference of opinion about this. Some of the Imams have said that these are three different places, and that Allah sent a Messenger to each of them from the Leading Messengers, who delivered the Great Codes of Law. The first place is that of the fig and the olive, which was Jerusalem, where Allah sent `Isa bin Maryam. The second place is Mount Sinin, which is Mount Sinai where Allah spoke to Musa bin `Imran. The third place is Makkah, and it is the city of security where whoever enters is safe. It is also the city in which Muhammad was sent. They have said that these three places are mentioned at the end of the Tawrah. The verse says, “Allah has come from Mount Sinai – meaning the one upon which Allah spoke to Musa bin `Imran; and shined from Sa`ir – meaning the mountain of Jerusalem from which Allah sent `Isa; and appeared from the mountains of Faran – meaning the mountains of Makkah from which Allah sent `Isa; and appeared from the mountains of Faran – meaning the mountains of Makkah from which Allah sent Muhammad .” Thus, He mentioned them in order to inform about them based upon their order of existence in time. This is why He swore by a noble place, then by a nobler place, and then by a place that is the nobler than both of them.

Man becoming Lowly even though He was created in the Best Form

and the Result of that Allah says,

﴿لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الإِنسَـنَ فِى أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ ﴾

 

(Verily, We created man in the best form.) This is the subject being sworn about, and it is that Allah created man in the best image and form, standing upright with straight limbs that He beautified.

﴿ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَـهُ أَسْفَلَ سَـفِلِينَ ﴾

 

(Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low.) meaning, to the Hellfire. This was said by Mujahid, Abu Al-`Aliyah, Al-Hasan, Ibn Zayd and others. Then after this attractiveness and beauty, their destination will be to the Hell-fire if they disobey Allah and belie the Messengers. This is why Allah says,

﴿إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّـلِحَـتِ﴾

 

(Save those who believe and do righteous deeds.) Some have said,

﴿ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَـهُ أَسْفَلَ سَـفِلِينَ ﴾

 

(Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low.) “This means decrepit old age.” This has been reported from Ibn `Abbas and `Ikrimah. `Ikrimah even said, “Whoever gathers the Qur’an (i.e., he memorizes it all), then he will not be returned to decrepit old age.” Ibn Jarir preferred this explanation. Even if this was the meaning, it would not be correct to exclude the believers from this, because some of them are also overcome by the senility of old age. Thus, the meaning here is what we have already mentioned (i.e., the first view), which is similar to Allah’s saying,

﴿وَالْعَصْرِ – إِنَّ الإِنسَـنَ لَفِى خُسْرٍ إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّـلِحَـتِ﴾

 

(By Al-`Asr. Verily man is in loss, except those who believe and perform righteous deeds.) (103:1-3) Concerning Allah’s statement,

﴿فَلَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ﴾

 

(Then they shall have a reward without end.) meaning, that will not end, as we have mentioned previously. Then Allah says,

﴿فَمَا يُكَذِّبُكَ﴾

 

(Then what causes you to deny) meaning, `O Son of Adam!’

﴿بَعْدُ بِالدِّينِ﴾

 

(after this the Recompense) meaning, `in the recompense that will take place in the Hereafter. For indeed you know the beginning, and you know that He Who is able to begin (the creation) is also able to repeat it which is easier. So what is it that makes you deny the final return in the Hereafter after you have known this’ Then Allah says,

﴿أَلَيْسَ اللَّهُ بِأَحْكَمِ الْحَـكِمِينَ ﴾

 

(Is not the Allah the best of judges) meaning, `is He not the best of judges, Who does not oppress or do any injustice to anyone’ And from His justice is that He will establish the Judgement, and He will give retribution to the person who was wronged in this life against whoever wronged him.

***

This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat wat-Tin waz-Zaytun and all praise and thanks are due to Allah.

Commentary
وَالتِّينِ وَالزَّيْتُونِ (I swear by the Fig and the Olive…95:1). This verse takes an oath by four objects. Two of them are trees, the fig tree and the olive tree. [The third object] is Tur, the mount of Sinai, and the fourth object is the City of Makkah. The two trees have been specified because they possess abundant blessings and advantages in the same way as Tur and the City of Makkah possess abundant blessings. Some authorities say that the ‘fig’ and the ‘olive’ symbolise, in this context, the lands in which these trees predominate: that is, the countries bordering on the eastern part of the Mediterranean, especially Palestine and Syria. Most of the Prophets (علیہم السلام) lived and preached in these lands, including Holy Prophet Ibrahim (علیہ السلام) . The latter Prophet was made to migrate from here to Makkah. The oaths, in this way, comprehend all the holy places where Allah-inspired men were born and raised as Prophets t. Syria was the land and home of all the Prophets (علیہم السلام) . Mount Sinai stresses specifically the messenger-ship of Musa (علیہ السلام) where Allah spoke to him. ‘Peaceful City’ refers to Makkah, the birthplace and residence of the Final Messenger of Allah ﷺ.

The subject of the four oaths is: لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ (We have created man in the best composition…95:4). The word taqwim literally denotes ‘to set a thing aright or lay the foundation straight or even; or to form something into an appropriate shape in a moderate regulation’. The verse signifies that man has been endowed with the best natural powers and qualities which other creatures have not been endowed with. Physically too he is cast in the best composition – having no parallel in other creatures.

Man is the Most Beautiful of Allah’s Creation
Allah has created man the most beautiful of all His creation. Ibn ` Arabi asserts that there is no creature of Allah more beautiful than man, because Allah, besides granting him life, he gave him knowledge, power, speech, hearing, sight, planning and wisdom. All these, in fact, are the qualities of Allah. It is mentioned in a hadith of Bukhari and Muslim:

اِنَّ اللہَ خَلَقَ اٰدَمَ عَلٰی صُورتِہٖ
‘Allah has created Adam in His image’

It could only mean that man has been characterised by some of the qualities of Allah, because Allah is beyond any [physical] shape or image. [Qurtubi].

A Wonderful Story of Human Beauty
Qurtubi, on this occasion, cites a story of ` Isa Ibn Musa Hashimi. He was a high ranking officer in the royal court of Caliph Abu Ja’far Mansur. The officer loved his wife very much. Once he was sitting with his wife in a moonlit night and suddenly cried out:

انت طالق ثلاثاً ان لم تکونی احسن من القمر
‘You are divorced thrice if you are not more beautiful than the moon.’

As soon as the wife heard this, she went into seclusion and veiled herself, on the grounds that the husband has pronounced three express divorce on her. It was said in joke. However, the law of express divorce is that it becomes effective whether uttered jokingly or seriously. Isa Ibn Musa spent the night restlessly and in grief. The next morning, he paid a visit to Caliph Abu Ja’far Mansur and recounted to him the whole story. Caliph Abu Ja’far Mansur invited all the jurists of the city and put the case before them. All the jurists unanimously agreed that the divorce has become effective, because no human being can possibly be more beautiful than the moon. There was, however, one scholar, a student of Imam Abu Hanifah (رح) ، who remained silent. Mansur asked him: “Why are you so quiet?” He recited ‘Bismillah to the end’ and then recited Surah Tin and explained: “Ruler of the Faithful, Allah says that He has created man in the best composition or in the finest mould. Nothing can be more beautiful than man.” Having heard this, all the scholars and jurists were perplexed. None of them opposed him. Mansur ordered that the divorce is not effective.

This indicates that man is the most beautiful creation of Allah outwardly and inwardly, in terms of elegance and attractiveness and in terms of bodily structure. Every limb of the human body is able to move in many different ways. He is able to hold, move and lift various things by moving his hands and arms. The thumb alone is a masterpiece of creation without which man will not be able to hold things. The functioning of the ears, the eyes, the mouth, the teeth, the nose, the chest and the stomach are all wonders in their own right. Gathered together on his head, they form a beautiful and coherent assortment, each one complementing the other. The flexibility of the tongue, the arrangement of the teeth and the mastery of the vocal cords allow him to roar like a lion and sing as beautifully as a nightingale. All this makes human body look like a sophisticated factory where automatic machines are able to accomplish the delicate work. This is the reason why philosophers call man ‘microcosm’ [a miniature universe as opposed to ‘macrocosm)a large universe)]. The microcosm epitomises the macrocosm. [Qurtubi]

The Sufis have supported this concept. Some scholars have analysed in detail – from head to toe – to show how man is the epitome of the large universe.

ثُمَّ رَ‌دَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ (then We turned him into the lowest of the low…95:5). In the preceding sentence, it was stated that man is created in the best composition and is the most beautiful being. In the prime of his life, man is brimming with strength and vigour and all his faculties are functioning at their best. As opposed to that, this sentence states that when man ages, he physically grows weaker and his health deteriorates all the time. He even begins to lose his physical beauty. He no longer has a good-looking and attractive face. He begins to look uglier. He becomes useless and a burden to others. Other animals, on the contrary, are useful to the end of their lives. Man utilises them for milk, for mounting, for luggage-loading and for myriad of other things. When they are slaughtered or dead, man still utilises their hide, hair, bones and every other part or fibre of theirs usefully. Man, on the other hand, becomes useless when he falls ill or grows old. From the worldly point of view he is unable to do anything. Even when he dies, no part of his body is of any benefit to any man or animal. In short, the phrase ‘the lowest of the low’ refers to bodily condition. His body bends over and legs can barely carry him. The man who was once supporting others now needs others to support him. [Dahhak and others vide Qurtubi].

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ‌ مَمْنُونٍ ‌ (except those who believed and did righteous deeds, because for them there is a reward never ending….95:6). The foregoing interpretation of the preceding verse should not be misunderstood. The exceptive sentence does not mean that the believers will not attain to decrepit old age. It would not be correct to exclude the believers from this, because some of them are also overcome by the senility of old age. The sense, however, is that they do not suffer a big harm due to their physical or mental deterioration in old age. Only those will suffer from it who spent their entire energy on improving their physical condition that has now ended. They shall have no portion of it in the Hereafter. The righteous believers will have an unfailing reward. This verse makes it clear that even after reaching old age, a believer never becomes useless. Even in decrepitude he can accumulate rewards – comfort and high positions – for the Hereafter that are eternal. During the period of senility when he is unable to do righteous deeds, the good deeds will be recorded in his Record Book which he used to do in good health. Sayyidna Anas ؓ narrates that the Holy Prophet ﷺ said that when a Muslim falls ill Allah instructs the recording angels to record the good deeds he used to perform in good health. [Al-Baghawi transmitted it in Sharh-us-Sunnah from Abu Musa, and Bukhari has reported the same rewards for a traveller and a person suffering from a disease.) Here instead of mentioning the rewards and blessings of Paradise for the righteous believers, the verse reads: لَهُمْ أَجْرٌ‌ غَيْرُ‌ مَمْنُونٍ (for them there is a reward never ending.) This could signify that their reward starts in this mortal world [ and continues in the Hereafter eternally]. Allah gathers around them in their decrepit old age such sincere companions who benefit from them spiritually until the last moment of their life. They serve them in every possible way. The righteous servants of Allah in decrepitude are productive while generally the senile and people in bad health are thought to be unproductive.

Some commentators say that the statement – رَ‌دَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ (We turned him into the lowest of the low) does not refer to human beings in general. It refers specifically to unbelievers who destroyed the God-given best composition, human perfection, honour and intellect by pursuing physical pleasures. As a result of their ingratitude, they will be turned into the lowest of the low. In this interpretation, the exception – إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا (except those who believed and did righteous deeds, because for them there is a reward never ending) will carry its basic interpretation, in that they will not be turned into the lowest of the low. For those who believed and did righteous deeds, there is a reward that is unending. [Thus in al-Mazhari].

فَمَا يُكَذِّبُكَ بَعْدُ بِالدِّينِ (So, what can make you, after all this, to deny the Requital?…95:7). In the preceding verses man is made to realise that Allah created him, He bestowed on him special favours and the revolution that He brought about in his old age. Man will move from stage to stage, finally reaching the grave and the Hereafter. But he rejects the Hereafter, as a result he is warned. He has seen the scenes of Divine omnipotence and revolutions – how dare he denies and rejects the Hereafter! Is Allah not the Greatest Ruler of all the rulers? [8]

Ruling
Sayyidna Abu Hurairah ؓ narrates that the Holy Prophet ﷺ said that while reciting Surah At-Tin, when one reaches the end of it:
أَلَيْسَ اللَّـهُ بِأَحْكَمِ الْحَاكِمِينَ
‘Is Allah not the Greatest Ruler of all the rulers? [8] ‘

one should recite:
بلٰی وَاَنَا عَلٰی ذٰلِکَ مِنَ الشّاھِدِینَ
‘Yes, indeed, Allah is the Ruler of the rulers, and I bear witness to it.’

The jurists have ruled that it is mustahab (preferable/desirable) to recite the words.

Al-hamdulillah
The Commentary on
Surah At-Tin
Ends here

Overview

The basic fact outlined in this surah is that God has given man an upright nature. This is essentially in perfect harmony with the nature of faith. With faith it attains its ultimate perfection. But when man deviates from this upright nature and from the straight path of faith he sinks into the lowest abyss.

God swears to the validity of this by the fig, tin, the olive, zaytun, Mount Sinai, Ţur Sinin and the secure city of Makkah, al-balad al-amin. As we have already seen in many surahs in this part of the Qur’an, this oath is the framework which perfectly fits the essential facts presented within it.

The Tar in Sinai is the mountain on which Moses received his divine summons. The secure city is Makkah, which houses the Ka`bah, God’s inviolable house. The relationship between the two on the one hand and religion and faith on the other is obvious. But a similar relationship is not readily clear with regard to the figs and olives. Suggestions as to the significance of these are numerous. It is said that the fig refers to the fig tree in heaven, with the leaves of which Adam and his wife, Eve, tried to cover their private parts. Another suggestion is that it refers to the place where the fig tree appeared on the mountain where Noah’s ark landed.

As for the olive, it is suggested that it refers to the Mount of Ţur Zaita in Jerusalem. It is also said that it refers to Jerusalem itself. Another suggestion is that it refers to the olive branch brought back by the pigeon which Noah released from the ship to examine the state of the foods. When the pigeon brought back an olive branch, he knew that t e land had reappeared and that vegetation was growing.

A different opinion posits that the fig and olive mentioned in the surah are simply those two kinds of food with which we are familiar. Alternatively, it is claimed, they are symbols of growth out of land. There is another reference in the Qur’an to the olive tree in association with Mount Sinai. The verse there reads as follows: “And a tree issuing from Mount Sinai which bears oil and seasoning for all to eat.” (23: 20) This, however, is the only case where reference to the fig tree is made in the Qur’an.

Hence, we cannot say anything definite on this matter. However, on the basis of parallel frameworks in other surahs, the most likely explanation of the fig and olive mentioned here is that they refer to certain places or events which have some relevance to religion and faith or to man as the creature fairest in shape and form. This may have been established in heaven where man’s life began. The harmony Al-Tin (The Fig) 191 between this detail and the main fact outlined in the surah is yet another example of the unique method of the Qur’an whereby the framework fits perfectly with the facts contained within it.

Man’s Fair Shape

The essential fact of the surah is embodied in the verses: “We indeed have created man in the finest form, then We brought him down to the lowest of the low, except for those who believe and do good deeds; for theirs shall be an unfailing recompense.” (Verses 4-6)

God has perfected all His creation; and the special emphasis laid here and elsewhere in the Qur’an on man’s being endowed with perfect form shows clearly that man has enjoyed extra divine care. Moreover, God’s care for man, despite his distortion of his upright nature and the corruption he indulges in, suggests that God has given him special rank and special weight in the universe. God’s care is most clearly apparent in the moulding of man’s highly complicated physical structure and his unique spiritual and mental make-up.

The emphasis here is on man’s spiritual qualities since these are the ones which drag man down to the most ignoble state when he deviates from his upright nature and turns away from belief in God. Needless to say, man’s physical structure does not sink to such a low level. Moreover, the superiority of man’s creation is most clearly apparent in his spiritual qualities. He is made in such a way as to be able to attain a sublime standard, superior to that of the highest ranking angels. This is illustrated in the story of the Prophet’s ascension to heaven. Then, Gabriel stopped at a certain level and Muhammad, human as he was, was elevated much higher.

At the same time, man is given the dubious ability to sink down to levels unreached by any other creature: “Then We brought him down to the lowest of the low.” (Verse 5) In this case, the animals are superior to him and more upright, since they do not violate their nature. They praise the Lord and fulfil their function on earth as they are guided to do. But man who has been given the fairest form and abilities denies his Lord and so sinks right down. “We have created man in the finest form.” (Verse 4). This is a reference to his nature and abilities. “Then We brought him down to the lowest of the low.” (Verse 5) That is, when he forces his nature away from the line God has defined for him. Having laid down the way, God left man to choose whether to follow it or not.

Except for those who believe and do good deeds.” (Verse 6) For these are the ones who stick to their upright nature, consolidate it with faith and righteous deeds, and who elevate it to the highest level it can attain in this world so they can finally attain a life of perfection in the world of perfection: “For theirs shall be an unfailing recompense.” Al-Tin (The Fig) 192 (Verse 6) But those who cause their nature to sink to the lowest of the low go down along their slippery road until they reach the lowest level, that is, in hell where their humanity is shed and they are completely debased. Both ends are natural results of two widely different starts and lines of action.

Thus, the importance of faith in human life becomes clear. Faith is the elevating path through which upright human nature ascends to its ultimate perfection. It is the rope stretched between man and his Maker. It is the light showing him where to step along the elevating path. When the rope is cut and the light put out, the inevitable result is the fall down the steep path into the lowest of the low. The clay element in man’s make-up separates from the spiritual element and man, along with stones, becomes the fuel for hell-fire.

In light of this fact, the Prophet is addressed in this manner: “Who, then, can henceforth cause you to deny the Last Judgement? Is not God the most just of judges?” (Verses 7-8) What makes you, man, deny this religion after you have known this fact, realized the importance of faith in the life of humanity, and become aware of the destiny awaiting those who disbelieve? Why do you turn away from this light and refuse to follow the straight path laid down by God?

Is-not God the most just of judges?” (Verse 8) Is not He the most just when He gives this ruling concerning the destiny of creation? Is not God’s wisdom clearest and most reassuring as He rules between believers and unbelievers? Justice is certainly clear and wisdom is manifest. Hence, we are taught in a hadith related by Abu Hurayrah that when one reads this surah one should answer the rhetorical question, “Is not God the most just of judges?” by saying: “Indeed, and I am a witness to that.”

Tafseer of Surah Tin by Abul A’la Maududi

The Surah has been so named after the very first word at-tin.

Period of Revelation

According to Qatadah, this Surah is Madani. Two different views have been reported from Ibn Abbas: first that it is a Makki Surah, and second that it is Madani. But the majority of scholars regard it as a Makki revelation, a manifest symbol of which is the use of the words hadh-al-balad-il-amin (this city of peace) for Makkah. Obviously, if it had been revealed at Madinah, it would not be correct to use the words “this city” for Makkah Besides, a study of the contents of the Surah shows that it belongs to the earliest period of Makkah, for in it there is no sign whatever to indicate that during the period of its revelation any conflict had started between Islam and unbelief. Moreover, it reflects the same style of the earliest revelations of Makkah period in which briefly and succinctly the people have been made to realize that the judgment of the Hereafter is necessary and absolutely rational.

Theme and Subject Matter

Its theme is the rewards and punishments of the Hereafter. For this purpose first swearing an oath by the habitats of some illustrious Prophets, it has been stated that Allah has created man in the most excellent of molds. Although at other places in the Quran, this truth has been expressed in different ways, for example, at some places it has been said: “Allah appointed man His vicegerent on the earth and commanded the angels to bow down to him (Al-Baqarah: 30,34, Al-Anam: 165, Al-Araf: 11, Al-Hijr 28,29, An-Naml: 62, Suad 71- 73);” at others that: “Man has become bearer of the Divine trust, which the earth and the heavens and the mountains did not have the power to bear (Al-Ahzab 72);” and at still others that: “We honored the children of Adam and exalted them above many of Our other creatures (Bani Israil 70),” yet here the statement made on oath in particular by the habitats of the Prophets that man has been created in the finest of molds, signifies that mankind has been blessed with such an excellent mold and nature that it gave birth to men capable of attaining to the highest position of Prophethood, a higher position than which has not been attained by any other creature of God.

Then, it has been stated that there are two kinds of men. those who in spite of having been created in the finest of molds, become inclined to evil and their moral degeneration causes them to be reduced to the lowest of the low, and those who by adopting the way of faith and righteousness remain secure from the degeneration and consistent with the noble position, which is the necessary demand of their having been created in the best of molds. The existence among mankind of both these kinds of men is such a factual thing which no one can deny, for it is being observed and experienced in society everywhere at all times.

In conclusion, this factual reality has been used as an argument to prove that when among the people there are these two separate and quite distinct kinds, how can one deny the judgment and retribution for deeds If the morally degraded are not punished and the morally pure and exalted are not rewarded and both end in the dust alike, it would mean that there is no justice in the Kingdom of God; whereas human nature and common sense demand that a judge should do justice. How then can one conceive that Allah, Who is the most just of all judges, would not do justice?

[1-8] By the fig and the olive,1 and the Mount Sina,2 and this City of peace (Makkah), We have indeed created man in the finest of molds,3 then We reversed him to the lowest of the low,4 except those who believed and did good works. For them there is a reward unending.5 Therefore, (O Prophet,) who can .after this belie you concerning the rewards and punishments?6 Is not Allah the best of all judges? 7

1. There has been much difference of opinion among the commentators about the explanation of this verse. Hasan Basri. `Ikrimah, `Ata’ bin Abi Rabah, Jabir bin Zaid, Mujahid and Ibrahim Nakha’i (may Allah bless them all) say that the fig implies the same fig which the people eat, and the olive the same which produces oil. Ibn Abi Hatim and Hakim have cited a statement from Ha ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas also in support of this. And the commentators who have accepted this explanation have, in view of the uses and virtues of the fig and the olive, expressed the opinion that Allah has sworn by these two fruits because of these very qualities. There is no doubt that the Arabic reader would understand the words do and zayun in the same meaning as are their well known meanings in Arabic, yet there are two reasons for which these meanings cannot be accepted. First, that in the subsequent verses, oaths have been sworn by the Mount Sinai and the City of Makkah, and there seems to be no relevance between the oaths sworn by the two fruits and the oaths by the two places. Second, the theme that follows the oaths is borne out by the Mt. Sinai and the City of Makkah but not by the two fruits. Wherever in the Qur’an Allah has sworn by something, He has not sworn by it because of its glory or its uses and benefits but every oath has relevance to the theme that follows it. Therefore, the virtues and qualities of these two fruits cannot be regarded as the reason for swearing the oath by them.

Some other commentators have taken tin and zaytun to imply some places. Ka`b Abhar, Qatadah an Ibn Zaid say that tin implies Damascus and zaytun Bait al-Maqdis (Jerusalem). A view of Ibn ‘Abbas has been cited by Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Marduyah to the effect that tin implies the mosque of the Prophet Noah, which he built on Mt. Judi, and zaytun implies Bait al-Maqdis, but hearing the words wat-tin waz-zaytin, no ordinary Arab could think of these meanings, nor was it well known among the Arabs, who were the first addressees of the Qur’an that ain and zaytun were names of the places.

However, there was a practice among the people of Arabia that they generally named a land where a certain fruit was produced in plenty after the name of the fruit itself. Accordingly, the meaning. Of tin and zaytun can be the land where these fruits are grown, and it is the land of Syria and Palestine, for among the Arabs of that period this very land was well known for the production of fig and olive. lbn Taimiyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, zamakhshari and Alusi (may Allah show them mercy) have adopted this very explanation; and although Ibn Jarir also has preferred the first view, yet he has conceded that ain and zaytun may also imply the land where these fruits are grown. Hafiz Ibn Kathir also has regarded this explanation as worthy of consideration.

2. The words in the original are Tur- i-Sinin. Sinin is another name for the Sinai Peninsula. It is called Sama or Sina as well as Sinin. In the Qur’an itself at one place the words Tur-i-Sinin. have been used. Since the land in which Mt. Sinai is located is well known as Sina, we have adopted this well known name in the translation.

3. This is the truth for which the oath has been sworn by the lands of the fig and the olive (i.e. Syria and Palestine) and Mt. Sinai and Makkah, the city of peace. Man’s having been created in the most excellent of molds means that he has been given the finest body which no other living being has been given, and he has been blessed with the noblest faculties of thought, knowledge and intellect which no other creature has been blessed with. Then, since the most sublime model these excellencies and . unique merits of mankind’s are the Prophets (upon whom be Allah’s peace), and no creation can have a higher rank than they, so that Allah may choose it for appointment to the office of Prophethood, an oath has been sworn by the places associated with the Prophets of God to bear testimony to man’s having been created in the finest of molds. The land of Syria and Palestine is the land where a large number of Prophets, from the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) to the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), were raised. Mt. Tur is the place where the Prophet Moses was blessed with Prophethood. As for Makkah, it was founded by the Prophets Abraham and Ishmael themselves. It was on account of their association with it that ‘ it became the holiest central place of Arabia. It was the Prophet Abraham who had prayed: “O my Lord, make this city a city of peace and security.” (Al-Baqarah: 126); and it was because of this prayer that in the midst of chaos and confusion prevailing everywhere in Arabia only this city continued to remain an island of peace for some 2500 years or more. Thus, the verse means to say: “We created mankind in such an excellent mold that it produced men who attained to the most sublime rank of Prophethood.”

4. The commentators in general have given two meanings of this:

(1) That We reversed him to the miserable state of old age in which he was no longer able to think and understand and work; and

(2) that We reversed him to the lowest stage of Hell.

But these two meanings cannot be an argument for the object for the confirmation of which this Surah was revealed. The Surah is meant to reason out the truth of the judgment in the Hereafter. On this, neither has this tact any bearing that some human beings are caused to reach the most miserable state of old age, nor that a section of human beings will be cast into Hell. The first thing cannot be an argument for the judgment because old age comes upon both the good and the bad people, and a person’s reaching this age is no punishment which he might suffer in consequence of his deeds. As for the second thing, it will occur in the Hereafter. It cannot be presented as an argument before the people who are being convinced of the meting out of rewards and punishments in the Hereafter itself. Therefore in our opinion the correct meaning of the verse is: After having been created in the finest of molds when man uses the powers of his body and mind in evil ways Allah grants him the power to do only evil and causes him to reach the lowest ebb of degradation. This is a truth which one commonly observes in human society. People become so overwhelmed by greed, selfishness, lustfulness, addiction to intoxicants, meanness, rage and fury and such other traits that morally they are actually reduced to the lowest of the low. Consider only one example: When a nation is blinded by its hostility to another country it surpasses all savage beasts in barbarity. A wild beast preys upon its victim only for the sake of food, it does not resort to a general massacre; but man resorts to massacre of his own kind. The beast only uses its claws and teeth but man who has been created in the best of molds invents the gun, rifle, tank, aircraft, atom and hydrogen bombs and countless other weapons by his intellect so that he can instantly destroy whole populations. The beast only kills or inflicts a wound but man invents such painful methods of torturing men like himself as cannot even be -imagined by a’ beast. Then to wreak his vengeance and fury on his enemies he forces the women to march out in naked processions: they are subjected to rape by tens and twenties of men; they are dishonored before the eyes of their fathers, brothers and husbands; children are massacred in front of their parents; mothers are forced to drink their children’s blood; human beings are burnt and buried alive. There is no wild species of animals in the world which may equal this human barbarity in any degree. The same is also the case with other evil traits: man proves himself to he the lowest of the low in whichever evil he indulges. So much so that he degrades even religion which is the most sacred thing for man: he worships the trees, animals and mountains, even the sex organs of man and woman; he keeps religious prostitutes in the places of worship to win the goodwill of the gods and commits adultery with them as an act of virtue. In his mythology he attributes such filthy tales to his gods and goddesses which would make the most wretched beast to hang his head in shame.

5. The commentators who have taken asfala safilin to imply the state of extreme old age when man loses his sense and reason, interpret this verse to mean: “But the people who in the prime and strength of their age believed and did righteous deeds would have in this old age too the same righteous deeds credited for them and will be rewarded accordingly. No reduction will be made in their rewards on the ground that they could not perform those righteous deeds in that period of Iife”. And the commentators who construe reversal to safilin to imply being cast into the lowest stage of Hell interpret this verse to mean: “the people also believed and did righteous deeds are an exception: they will not be reversed to this stage but they will have a reward unending and unfailing.” But, neither of these meanings is relevant to the reasoning made in this Surah to justify the judgment of the Hereafter. In our opinion the verse means: “Just as it is a common observation in human society that the morally degraded are made the lowest of the low, so this also is an observation of every age that those who believed in God, the Hereafter and the Prophethood and who molded their lives after righteousness and piety, remained secure from this degeneration and remained consistent with the best mold and nature that Allah had created them on. Therefore, they are worthy of the unending reward, i.e. the reward which will neither be less than what they deserve, nor will it ever be cut off. ”

6. Another translation of this verse can be: “What can after this (O man ) make you deny the judgment ?” In both cases the intention and purpose remains the same. That is when it is a common observation in human society that a section of mankind which has been created in the best of molds and nature, is rendered lowest of the low because of moral degradation, and the other section remains secure by adopting the path of constant faith and righteousness in view of its being created in the best of molds and nature how can judgment be denied after this ? Does common sense require that the end of both these men be the same? Does justice demand that neither those who are reduced to the lowest of the low be punished nor those who strive to adopt a righteous life be rewarded ? The same theme has been expressed at other places in the Qur’an thus: “Shall We then treat the obedient as We treat the culprits? What has happened to you: how ill you judge?” (AI-Qalam: 35, 36). “Do those who have committed evil think that We shall hold them and those who have believed and done righteous deeds as equal so that their life and their death should be alike ? Ill are the judgments they pass!” (Al-Jathiyah 21).

7. That is, “When you want and expect even the petty judges of the world to do justice, punish the culprits and reward the doers of good, what is your opinion about God? Is He not the greatest of all judges? If you think he is the . greatest of all judges, do you think that He will not do any justice? Do you expect that He will treat the good and the evil alike? Will those who commit the vilest of deeds in the world and those who perform righteous deeds, both end in the dust: neither will any be punished for his evil deeds, nor any be rewarded for his good works”

Imam Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Abu Da’ud, Ibn al-Mundhir, Baihaqi, Hakim and Ibn Marduyah have related, on the authority of Hadrat Abu Hurairah, that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) said: “When one of you recites Surah Wat-tin waz-zaytun and reaches Alais-Allah-u bi-ahkam-il-Hakimin he should respond to it, saying: Bata wa ana ala dhalika min-ash-shahidin (Yes, and I am of those who bear witness to it). According to some other traditions, the Holy Prophet responded with Subhanaka fa-bald when he recited this verse.