Surah An-Naml >> Currently viewing Surah An-Naml Ayat 20 (27:20)

Surah An-Naml Ayat 20 in Arabic Text

وَتَفَقَّدَ ٱلطَّيْرَ فَقَالَ مَا لِىَ لَآ أَرَى ٱلْهُدْهُدَ أَمْ كَانَ مِنَ ٱلْغَآئِبِينَ
Wa tafaqqadat taira faqaala maa liya laaa araa al hudhuda, am kaana minal ghaaa’ibeen

English Translation

Here you can read various translations of verse 20

Sahih International
And he took attendance of the birds and said, “Why do I not see the hoopoe – or is he among the absent?

Yusuf Ali
And he took a muster of the Birds; and he said: “Why is it I see not the Hoopoe? Or is he among the absentees?

Abul Ala Maududi
(On another occasion) Solomon inspected the birds and said: “Why is it that I do not see the hoopoe? Is he among the absentees?

Muhsin Khan
He inspected the birds, and said: “What is the matter that I see not the hoopoe? Or is he among the absentees?

Pickthall
And he sought among the birds and said: How is it that I see not the hoopoe, or is he among the absent?

Dr. Ghali
And he reviewed the birds; then he said, “what is it with me that I do not see the hoopoe? Or is he among the absent?

Abdel Haleem
Solomon inspected the birds and said, ‘Why do I not see the hoopoe? Is he absent?

Quran 27 Verse 20 Explanation

For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah An-Naml ayat 20, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.

Ala-Maududi

(27:20) (On another occasion) Solomon inspected the birds[27] and said: “Why is it that I do not see the hoopoe? Is he among the absentees?


27. That is, the birds whose troops, as mentioned above, were included in the armies of Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) like the troops of the men and jinns. It is just possible that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) had employed them for communicating messages, hunting and performing other such services.

Ibn-Kathir

20. He inspected the birds, and said: “What is the matter that I see not the hoopoe Or is he among the absentees” 21. “I will surely punish him with a severe torment or slaughter him, unless he brings me a clear reason.”


The Absence of the Hoopoe

Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr and others narrated from Ibn `Abbas and others that the hoopoe was an expert who used to show Sulayman where water was if he was out in open land and needed water. The hoopoe would look for water for him in the various strata of the earth, just as a man looks at things on the surface of the earth, and he would know just how far below the surface the water was. When the hoopoe showed him where the water was, Sulayman would command the Jinn to dig in that place until they brought water from the depths of the earth. One day Sulayman went to some open land and checked on the birds, but he could not see the hoopoe.

﴿فَقَالَ مَالِيَ لاَ أَرَى الْهُدْهُدَ أَمْ كَانَ مِنَ الْغَآئِبِينَ﴾

(and (Sulayman) said: “What is the matter that I see not the hoopoe Or is he among the absentees”) One day `Abdullah bin `Abbas told a similar story, and among the people was a man from the Khawarij whose name was Nafi` bin Al-Azraq, who often used to raise objections to Ibn `Abbas. He said to him, “Stop, O Ibn `Abbas; you will be defeated (in argument) today!” Ibn `Abbas said: “Why” Nafi` said: “You are telling us that the hoopoe can see water beneath the ground, but any boy can put seed in a trap and cover the trap with dirt, and the hoopoe will come and take the seed, so the boy can catch him in the trap.” Ibn `Abbas said, “If it was not for the fact that this man would go and tell others that he had defeated Ibn `Abbas in argument, I would not even answer.” Then he said to Nafi`: “Woe to you! When the decree strikes a person, his eyes become blind and he loses all caution.” Nafi` said: “By Allah I will never dispute with you concerning anything in the Qur’an. ”

﴿لأُعَذِّبَنَّهُ عَذَاباً شَدِيداً﴾

(I will surely punish him with a severe torment) Al-A`mash said, narrating from Al-Minhal bin `Amr from Sa`id that Ibn `Abbas said: “He meant, by plucking his feathers.” `Abdullah bin Shaddad said: “By plucking his feathers and exposing him to the sun.” This was also the view of more than one of the Salaf, that it means plucking his feathers and leaving him exposed to be eaten by ants.

﴿أَوْ لاّذْبَحَنَّهُ﴾

(or slaughter him,) means, killing him.

﴿أَوْ لَيَأْتِيَنِّى بِسُلْطَـنٍ مُّبِينٍ﴾

(unless he brings me a clear reason.) i.e., a valid excuse. Sufyan bin `Uyaynah and `Abdullah bin Shaddad said: “When the hoopoe came back, the other birds said to him: “What kept you Sulayman has vowed to shed your blood.” The hoopoe said: “Did he make any exception ﴿did he say `unless’﴾” They said, “Yes, he said:

﴿لأُعَذِّبَنَّهُ عَذَاباً شَدِيداً أَوْ لاّذْبَحَنَّهُ أَوْ لَيَأْتِيَنِّى بِسُلْطَـنٍ مُّبِينٍ ﴾

(I will surely punish him with a severe torment or slaughter him, unless he brings me a clear reason.) The hoopoe said, “Then I am saved.”

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