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1. The piling up diverts you,
2. Until you visit the graves.
3. Verily, but you shall soon know.
4. Again, verily but you shall soon know.
5. Verily, were you to know with certainty,
6. You will certainly see the Hell-fire!
7. Again, you will see it with certainty of sight!
8. Then shall you be questioned that Day concerning pleasure.
Ibn Kathir’s Explanation
The piling up diverts you, Until you visit the graves.
Allah says that the love of this world occupies your time along with its pleasures and its beauties so that you have no leisure to think about the Hereafter and you remain in pursuit of these pleasures until death comes to you, when you visit the graves and become their inhabitants.
It is narrated on the authority of Zaid Ibn Aslam, from his father that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa sallam), said:
“(The piling up diverts you) – from obedience to Allah (Until you visit the graves) – until death comes to you.” (Narrated by Ibn Abu Hatim).
Al-Hasan Al-BasrI says that the piling up is of wealth and children.
In Sahih Bukhari it is revealed that Ubayy Ibn Ka‘b said: We used to think that this (the words: “If the son of Adam possessed a valley full of gold…”) was part of the Qur’an until it was revealed: “ The piling up diverts you ”.
Imam Ahmad reports on the authority of Ibn ‘Abdullah Ibn Ash-Shujair, on the authority of his father, who said:
“ I came to the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa Sallam) while he was saying: ‘The piling up diverts you’ – the son of Adam says : ‘My wealth! My wealth!’ Do you benefit from it more than when you eat and are satisfied? Or when you clothe yourself and wear out those clothes? Or when you give charity and spend your money? ” (Narrated by Muslim, An-Nasa’i and At-Tirmizi).
Bukhari reports, on the authority of Anas Ibn Malik that he said: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa sallam), said:
“ Three things follow the deceased person, and two of them return while one returns behind with him: The things which follow him are: his family, his wealth and his actions; his family and his wealth return while his actions remain.” (i.e. of those three things, the only one which benefit him is his actions).
Ibn ‘Asakir said, in his biography of Al-Ahnaf Ibn Qais,1 whose name is Ad-Dahhak, that he saw a man holding a dirham (coin) and he asked him:
“For whom is that dirham (coin)?” The man replied: “It is for me.” He said: “It is only for you if you spend it seeking reward or desiring that which is praiseworthy.” Then Al-Ahnaf began to recite the words of the poet: “The money possesses you if you hold onto it, But if you spent it (on something praiseworthy) then you possess it.”
Ibn Abu Hatim narrates, on the authority of Ibn Buraidah, that he said: This Qur’an was revealed concerning two tribes from amongst the Ansar: Banu Harithah and Band Al-Harith because of their pride and their piling up of wealth and one tribe would say to the other: “You are the sons of so-and-so, who is the son of so-and-so and so-and-so,” And the other tribe would reply in a like manner and so they were proud of their tribes, then they would visit the graves of their ancestors and do likewise, indicating the graves as they praised the other tribe, who would respond in a like manner. So Allah revealed the following verses: “The piling up diverts you, until you visit the graves” – in this is a clear warning and something to dwell upon.
However, the correct explanation of these Words: “Until you visit the graves” is: Until you die and are buried therein, based on the authentic Hadith, which states that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa sallam) visited a man who was ill and said to him: “Don’t worry (there is) recovery, Allah willing!” He said: “ You say ‘recovery,” but it is a raging fever which is likely to carry an old man to his grave. The Messenger replied: “Then it will be a blessing.”
It is related on the authority of ‘Ali, that he said: “We used to doubt about the punishment of the grave until the Qur’an “The piling up diverts you, until you visit the graves” was revealed.” (Narrated by Ibn Abu Hatim).
Ibn Abu Hatim also reports, on the authority of Maimun Ibn Mihran 2 who said: I was sitting with ‘Umar Ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, when he recited: “The piling up diverts you, until you visit the graves” then he paused for a while and said: “I do not see the graves except as a visitor, but the visitor must return to his home.”3
“ Verily, but you shall soon know. Again, verily but you shall soon know ”
Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that it is one promise followed by another. Ad-Dahhak said that Allah is addressing the unbelievers in the first verse and the believers in the second.
“Verily, were you to know with certainty”
That is, were you to know without the slightest doubt when the piling up diverts you from the pursuit of the Hereafter until you come to the graved.
“ You will certainly see the Hell-fire. Again you will see it with certainty of sight ”
This is an explanation of the above-mentioned promise: Allah warns them that soon they, the people of the Fire shall see the Hell-fire which, if it gave off one exhalation, every favoured king and every appointed Prophet (Sallallahu A’laihi wa sallam) would fall to his knees in fear and trembling at the sight of such awe-inspiring majesty, the terror of those whose abode it is.
“Then shall you be questioned that Day concerning pleasure.”
This means, that Day, you shall certainly be questioned concerning your gratitude (or lack of it) for the benefits given to you, such as good health, security, your subsistence and so on, when you stand before Him.
Ibn Abu Hatim relates, on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that he heard ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab say: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa Sallam) went out one day at noon and found Abu Bakr in the Mosque, so he said to him: “What has brought you outside at this time?” Abu Bakr replied: ‘The same thing which brought you out has brought me also, O Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa Sallam)! Then ‘Umar came and the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa Sallam) said: “What has brought you out, O ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab?” He replied: “The same thing which brought you both out.” Then ‘Umar sat and the Prophet (Sallallahu A’laihi wa Sallam) began to talk to them; then he said: “Do you have strength to walk to that palm tree, where you might find food, drink and shade?” They said: “Yes!” He said: “Then let us pass by the house of Ibn At-Taihan, Abul Haitham Al-Ansan.” So they went to the house and the Messenger of Allah ) stood before them and gave salutations of peace and asked permission to enter three times, while Umm Al-Haitham came out and walked behind them, saying: “O Messenger of Allah(Sallallahu A’laihi wa sallam)! By Allah ! I heard your greetings but I wanted you to increase your salutations upon me.”
The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa sallam) replied: “That is good.” Then he said: “Where is Abul Haitham? I do not see him.” She said: “O Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa Sallam) ! He is near, he has gone to bring some sweet water ; come inside for he will return shortly, In sha Allah.”
Then she placed for them mats upon which to sit under a tree, then Abul Haitham came and he was delighted to see them, and he climbed the palm tree and brought for them a cluster of dates.
The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa Sallam) said to him: “That is sufficient, O Abul Haitham! He replied: “O Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa Sallam)! Eat from the unripe dates, the ripe ones and from the taznub 4.” Then he brought them water and they drank from it and the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa Sallam) said: “This is from the pleasure about which you will be asked.” – A similar Hadlth is reported by Muslim, Abu Ya’la, Ibn Majah and others.
It is reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah that he heard the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa sallam) say:
“The first thing about which he (the slave) will be asked (on the Day of Resurrection) concerning the pleasure is that it will be said to him: “Did We not give you good health, and give you cold water to drink?” (Narrated by At-Tirmizl) Ibn Hibban also narrated something similar in his Sahih.
It is reported from Ibn Mas’ud that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa Sallam) said, concerning the Words of Allah “Then shall you be questioned that Day concerning the pleasure”: “the pleasure” means: Security and health.” (Narrated by Ibn Abu Hatim).
Zaid Ibn Aslam said, on the authority of Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu A’laihi wa Sallam) that it refers to freedom from hunger, cold drinks and shaded houses and the perfection of creation and the pleasure of sleep. Sa‘Td Ibn Jubair said it refers to drinks made from honey. Mujahid said it means every pleasurable thing in this world. Al-Hasan said that pleasure includes one’s meals.
Abu Qilabah 5 said that pleasure includes eating ghee and honey with fresh bread. However, the saying of Mujahid is the most comprehensive of all these sayings. ‘All Ibn Abu Talha said that it means healthy bodies, sight and hearing, for we will be asked about how we used these faculties, and Allah knows better than His slaves about what they did, and that is the meaning of the Words of Allah:
“ Verily, every act of hearing, seeing or [feeling in] the heart will be enquired into [on the Day of Reckoning]” (Qur’an, 17: 36)
Bukhari, At-Tirmizi, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu A’laihi wa Sallam) said:
“There are two blessings of which many people are deceived (i.e. about which they wrong or deceive themselves): Health and leisure time.” That is, they are slack, or negligent in giving thanks for them, neither making full use of them nor fulfilling their obligations in regard to them.”
It is reported from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (Sallallahu A’laihi wa Sallam) said: “Allah will say (on the Day of Judgement): ‘O, son of Adam! I made you to ride on horseback and on the camel and I gave you wives and made you to rule and to sit upon thrones, and what thanks do you give for all that?’ (Narrated by Ahmad).
This is the end of the tafsir of Surat At-Takathur, all praise is due to Allah (M) and from Him proceeds all Grace.