Surah Sad Ayat 33 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 33
[He said], “Return them to me,” and set about striking [their] legs and necks.
“Bring them back to me.” then began he to pass his hand over (their) legs and their necks.
(he ordered): “Bring these horses back to me,” and then he began to gently stroke their shanks and necks.
Then he said “Bring them (horses) back to me.” Then he began to pass his hand over their legs and their necks (till the end of the display).
(Then he said): Bring them back to me, and fell to slashing (with his sword their) legs and necks.
“Turn them back to me!” Then he took to striking (Or: slashing) their shanks and necks.
‘Bring them back!’ [he said] and started to stroke their legs and necks.
Quran 38 Verse 33 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Sad ayat 33, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(38:33) (he ordered): “Bring these horses back to me,” and then he began to gently stroke their shanks and necks.
35. There is a difference of opinion among the commentators about the translation and commentary of these verses.
One section of them interprets them as follows:
The Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) became so absorbed in reviewing the horses and watching their races, that he forgot to offer his Asr Prayer, or according to some others, to perform certain devotions that he used to perform before the sunset. Then when the sun went down, he commanded that the horses be brought back, and when they came back, the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) started slashing them with the sword, or in other words, slaughtering them as a sacrifice to Allah, because they had caused him to become heedless of the remembrance of Allah. Accordingly, the verses have been translated thus: And he said: I so preferred the love of this wealth that I became heedless of the remembrance (the Asr Prayer, or the special devotions) of my Lord till (the sun) went down (behind the veil of the west). (Then he commanded:) bring them back, (and when the horses came back) he began to stroke their shanks and necks (with the sword). Although this commentary has been given by some major commentators, it is not plausible for the reason that in this the commentator has to add three things from himself, which have no basis whatsoever. In the first place, he has to assume that the Prophet Solomon’s Asr Prayer was lost in the occupation, or some special devotions that he used to perform at that time, whereas the words of the Quran are only to the effect: I so preferred this wealth that I became heedless of the remembrance of my Lord. In these there is no ground for taking any word for the Asr Prayer or the special devotions. Secondly, he also assumes that the sun set, whereas there is no mention of the sun whatsoever. On the contrary, when one reads the words hatta tawarar bilhijab (when they disappeared from sight) one’s mind automatically turns to as-safinat ul jiyad (well-bred horses) which have been mentioned in the preceding verse. Thirdly, he also has to assume that the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) did not simply stroke the shins and necks of the horses with the hand but stroked them with the sword, whereas the Quran does not contain the words mashan-bissaif or any other pointer from which stroking may be taken to mean stroking with the sword. We have a fundamental difference with this kind of the commentary. In our opinion, only in four cases it would be right to interpret the words of the Quran in other than their normally accepted meaning: (1) Either there should be a pointer to it in the words of the Quran itself; or (2) There should be an allusion to it at some other place in the Quran; or (3) An explanation of it should be afforded by some authentic Hadith; or (4) It should have some other reliable source, e.g. if it pertains to history, there should be an historical evidence to support it. If it pertains to the manifestations of the universe, there should be authentic scientific knowledge to substantiate it. And if it pertains to the Shariah values, the sources of Islamic law should explain it. In the absence of any of these, we do not think it is right to invent a story on the basis of one’s own imagination and add it to the words of the Quran.
One section of the commentators has differed a little from the above translation and commentary. They say that the pronoun in both hatta tawarat bil-hijab and ruddu-ha alayya turns only to the sun. That is, when the Asr Prayer was lost and the sun went down behind the veil of the west, the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) said to the workers of destiny: Turn the sun back so that the Asr time comes back for me to offer the Prayer. So, the sun retreated and he performed his Prayer. But this commentary is even more unacceptable than the previously mentioned one not because Allah is powerless to bring the sun back, but because Allah has made no mention of it anywhere. On the contrary, if such a wonderful miracle had actually been worked for the sake of the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him), it would certainly be worthy of mention. Moreover, if the extraordinary event of the returning of the sun after having set had actually taken place; the history of the world would never be without it. In support of this commentary these commentators present some Ahadith also in order to prove that the returning of the sun after having set is not a rare event that happened only once, but it has happened several times. There is the mention of bringing the sun back in connection with the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Ascension (miraj); the sun was also brought back on the occasion of the Battle of the Trench for the Prophet (peace be upon him), and also for Ali, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sleeping with his head in Ali’s lap and his Asr Prayer was lost: then the Prophet (peace be upon him) had prayed for the return of the sun and it had returned. But the reasoning from these traditions is even weaker than the commentary in support of which they have been presented. Ibn Taimiyyah has proved as fabricated the tradition about Ali after a detailed discussion of its chains and transmitters. Imam Ahmad says it has no basis, and Ibn Jauzi says that it is without any doubt a forged tradition. The tradition of the sun’s being brought back on the occasion of the battle of the Trench also is weak according to some traditionalists and fabricated according to others. As far as the tradition regarding the event of the Ascension is concerned, the truth about it is that when, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was describing what had happened in the Night of Ascension, before the disbelievers of Makkah, they asked for a proof of it. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied that on the way from Jerusalem he had seen a caravan at such and such a place, which had met with such and such an accident. When asked as to when that caravan would reach Makkah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) named the day. When the day came, the people of the Quraish waited for the caravan all day till the sun began to set. On this occasion the Prophet prayed that the sun should not set till the caravan had arrived. So, the caravan actually arrived before the sunset. Some reporters even have stated that the day on that occasion had been enhanced by an hour, and the sun had stood still for that long. The question is: Are such traditions sufficient evidence for the proof of such an extraordinary event? As we have said above, the returning of the sun, or its standing still for an hour, is no ordinary event. Had such an event actually taken place, it would have become well known the world over. Its mention and narration could not remain restricted to only a few reporters.
The third section of the commentators interprets these verses as any unbiased person would interpret them from these words. According to this commentary, what actually happened was this: When a squadron of fine, well bred horses was presented before the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him), he said: I love this wealth not for the sake of personal glory or desire but for the cause of raising the Word of my Lord. Then he ordered that the horses run a race, and they disappeared from sight. Then he ordered that they be brought back, and when they were brought back, according to Ibn Abbas: He started passing his hand on their necks and shanks with love. This same commentary is correct in our opinion, because it corresponds to the words of the Quran, and for the sake of the full meaning, nothing needs to be added to it, which may neither be in the Quran, nor in any authentic Hadith, nor in the Israelite history.
Besides, one should also note that Allah has narrated this event immediately after using epithets like nim al-abd, innahu awwab (an excellent servant, who turned to His Lord over and over again) for the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him). This clearly shows that the object is to relate this message: Behold, what a good servant of Ours he was! He loved the means of kingly pomp and glory not for the sake of the world but for Our sake! After watching and reviewing
The tafsir of Surah Sad verse 33 by Ibn Kathir is unavailable here.
Please refer to Surah Sad ayat 30 which provides the complete commentary from verse 30 through 33.
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