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Shu`ayb and His Preaching to the Dwellers of Al-Aykah

The companions of Al-Aykah were the people of Madyan, according to the most correct view. The Prophet of Allah Shu`ayb was one of them, but it does not say here, their brother Shu`ayb, because they called themselves by a name denoting their deification of Al-Aykah, which was a tree which they used to worship; it was said that it was a group of trees which were tangled, like trees in a thicket. For this reason, when Allah said that the companions of Al-Aykah denied the Messengers, He did not say, "When their brother Shu`ayb said to them.'' Rather, He said:

﴿ إِذۡ قَالَ لَهُمۡ شُعَيۡبٌ

(When Shu`ayb said to them) He is not described as belonging to them because of the meaning that was inherent in the name given to them even though he was their brother by blood. Some people did not notice this point, so they thought that the dwellers of Al-Aykah were different from the people of Madyan, and claimed that Shu`ayb was sent to two nations; some said that he was sent to three.

﴿ أَصۡحَـٰبُ لۡـَٔيۡكَةِ

(The companions of Al-Aykah) were the people of Shu`ayb. This was the view of Ishaq bin Bishr. Someone besides Juwaybir said, "The dwellers of Al-Aykah and the people of Madyan are one and the same.'' And Allah knows best. Although there is another opinion that they were different nations with two identities, the correct view is that they were one nation, but they are described differently in different places. Shu`ayb preached to them and commanded them to be fair in their weights and measures, the same as is mentioned in the story of Madyan, which also indicates that they were the same nation.

﴿ أَوۡفُواْ ٱلۡكَيۡلَ وَلَا تَكُونُواْ مِنَ ٱلۡمُخۡسِرِينَ وَزِنُواْ بِٱلۡقِسۡطَاسِ ٱلۡمُسۡتَقِيمِ
﴿ وَلَا تَبۡخَسُواْ ٱلنَّاسَ أَشۡيَآءَهُمۡ وَلَا تَعۡثَوۡاْ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ مُفۡسِدِينَ
﴿ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُمۡ وَٱلۡجِبِلَّةَ ٱلۡأَوَّلِينَ

(181. "Give full measure, and cause no loss (to others).'') (182. "And weigh with the true and straight balance.'') (183. "And defraud not people by reducing their things, nor do evil, making corruption and mischief in the land.'') (184. "And have Taqwa of Him Who created you and the generations of the men of old.'')

The Command to give Full Measure

Allah commanded them to give full measure, and forbade them to give short measure. He said:

﴿ أَوۡفُواْ ٱلۡكَيۡلَ وَلَا تَكُونُواْ مِنَ ٱلۡمُخۡسِرِينَ

(Give full measure, and cause no loss.) meaning, `when you give to people, give them full measure, and do not cause loss to them by giving them short measure, while taking full measure when you are the ones who are taking. Give as you take, and take as you give.'

﴿ وَزِنُواْ بِٱلۡقِسۡطَاسِ ٱلۡمُسۡتَقِيمِ

(And weigh with the true and straight balance.) The balance is the scales.

﴿ وَلَا تَبۡخَسُواْ ٱلنَّاسَ أَشۡيَآءَهُمۡ

(And defraud not people by reducing their things,) means, do not shortchange them.

﴿ وَلَا تَعۡثَوۡاْ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ مُفۡسِدِينَ

(nor do evil, making corruption and mischief in the land.) means, by engaging in banditry. This is like the Ayah,

﴿ وَلَا تَقۡعُدُواْ بِڪُلِّ صِرَٲطٍ۬ تُوعِدُونَ

(And sit not on every road, threatening) (7:86).

﴿ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُمۡ وَٱلۡجِبِلَّةَ ٱلۡأَوَّلِينَ

(And have Taqwa of Him Who created you and the generations of the men of old.) Here he is frightening them with the punishment of Allah Who created them and created their forefathers. This is like when Musa (peace be upon him) said:

﴿ رَبُّكُمۡ وَرَبُّ ءَابَآٮِٕكُمُ ٱلۡأَوَّلِينَ

(Your Lord and the Lord of your ancient fathers!) (26:26). Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, As-Suddi, Sufyan bin `Uyaynah and `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said:

﴿ وَٱلۡجِبِلَّةَ ٱلۡأَوَّلِينَ

(the generations of the men of old.) means, He created the early generations. And Ibn Zayd recited:

﴿ وَلَقَدۡ أَضَلَّ مِنكُمۡ جِبِلاًّ۬ كَثِيرًا‌ۖ

(And indeed he (Shaytan) did lead astray a great multitude of you) (36:62).

﴿ قَالُوٓاْ إِنَّمَآ أَنتَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُسَحَّرِينَ
﴿ وَمَآ أَنتَ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ۬ مِّثۡلُنَا وَإِن نَّظُنُّكَ لَمِنَ ٱلۡكَـٰذِبِينَ
﴿ فَأَسۡقِطۡ عَلَيۡنَا كِسَفً۬ا مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ إِن كُنتَ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰدِقِينَ
﴿ قَالَ رَبِّىٓ أَعۡلَمُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ
﴿ فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَأَخَذَهُمۡ عَذَابُ يَوۡمِ ٱلظُّلَّةِ‌ۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ كَانَ عَذَابَ يَوۡمٍ عَظِيمٍ
﴿ إِنَّ فِى ذَٲلِكَ لَأَيَةً۬‌ۖ وَمَا كَانَ أَكۡثَرُهُم مُّؤۡمِنِينَ وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَهُوَ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ

(185. They said: "You are only one of those bewitched!'') (186. "You are but a human being like us and verily, we think that you are one of the liars!'') (187. "So, cause a piece of the heaven to fall on us, if you are of the truthful!'') (188. He said: "My Lord is the Best Knower of what you do.'') (189. But they denied him, so the torment of the Day of Shadow (a gloomy cloud) seized them. Indeed that was the torment of a Great Day.) (190. Verily, in this is indeed a sign, yet most of them are not believers.) (191. And verily your Lord, He is indeed the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful.)

The Response of Shu`ayb's People, Their Disbelief in Him and the coming of the Punishment upon Them

Allah tells us how his people responded, and how it was like the response of Thamud to their Messenger -- for they were of like mind -- when they said:

﴿ إِنَّمَآ أَنتَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُسَحَّرِينَ

(You are only one of those bewitched!) meaning, `you are one of those who are affected by witchcraft.'

﴿ وَمَآ أَنتَ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ۬ مِّثۡلُنَا وَإِن نَّظُنُّكَ لَمِنَ ٱلۡكَـٰذِبِينَ

(You are but a human being like us and verily, we think that you are one of the liars!) means, `we think you are deliberately lying to us in what you say, and Allah has not sent you to us.'

﴿ فَأَسۡقِطۡ عَلَيۡنَا كِسَفً۬ا مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ

(So cause a piece of the heaven to fall on us,) Ad-Dahhak said: "One side of the heavens.'' Qatadah said: "A piece of the heaven.'' As-Suddi said: "A punishment from heaven.'' This is like what the Quraysh said, as Allah tells us:

﴿ وَقَالُواْ لَن نُّؤۡمِنَ لَكَ حَتَّىٰ تَفۡجُرَ لَنَا مِنَ ٱلۡأَرۡضِ يَنۢبُوعًا

(And they say: "We shall not believe in you, until you cause a spring to gush forth from the earth for us) until:

﴿ أَوۡ تُسۡقِطَ ٱلسَّمَآءَ كَمَا زَعَمۡتَ عَلَيۡنَا كِسَفًا أَوۡ تَأۡتِىَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕڪَةِ قَبِيلاً

(Or you cause the heaven to fall upon us in pieces, as you have pretended, or you bring Allah and the angels before (us) face to face.'') (17:90-92)

﴿ وَإِذۡ قَالُواْ ٱللَّهُمَّ إِن كَانَ هَـٰذَا هُوَ ٱلۡحَقَّ مِنۡ عِندِكَ فَأَمۡطِرۡ عَلَيۡنَا حِجَارَةً۬ مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ

(And (remember) when they said: "O Allah! If this is indeed the truth from You, then rain down stones on us from the sky...'') (8:32). Similarly, these ignorant disbelievers said:

﴿ فَأَسۡقِطۡ عَلَيۡنَا كِسَفً۬ا مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ

(So, cause a piece of the heaven to fall on us, if you are of the truthful!)

﴿ قَالَ رَبِّىٓ أَعۡلَمُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ

(He said: "My Lord is the Best Knower of what you do.'') means, `Allah knows best about you, and if you deserve that, He will punish you therewith, and He will not treat you unjustly.' So this is what happened to them -- as they asked for -- an exact recompense. Allah says:

﴿ فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَأَخَذَهُمۡ عَذَابُ يَوۡمِ ٱلظُّلَّةِ‌ۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ كَانَ عَذَابَ يَوۡمٍ عَظِيمٍ

(But they denied him, so the torment of the Day of Shadow seized them. Indeed that was the torment of a Great Day.) This is what they asked for, when they asked for a part of the heaven to fall upon them. Allah made their punishment in the form of intense heat which overwhelmed them for seven days, and nothing could protect them from it. Then He sent a cloud to shade them, so they ran towards it to seek its shade from the heat. When all of them had gathered underneath it, Allah sent sparks of fire and flames and intense heat upon them, and caused the earth to convulse beneath them, and He sent against them a mighty Sayhah which destroyed their souls. Allah says:

﴿ إِنَّهُ ۥ كَانَ عَذَابَ يَوۡمٍ عَظِيمٍ

(Indeed that was the torment of a Great Day.) Allah has mentioned how they were destroyed in three places in the Qur'an, in each of which it is described in a manner which fits the context. In Surat Al-A`raf He says that the earthquake seized them, and they lay (dead), prostrate in their homes. This was because they said:

﴿ لَنُخۡرِجَنَّكَ يَـٰشُعَيۡبُ وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ مَعَكَ مِن قَرۡيَتِنَآ أَوۡ لَتَعُودُنَّ فِى مِلَّتِنَا‌ۚ

("We shall certainly drive you out, O Shu`ayb, and those who have believed with you from our town, or else you (all) shall return to our religion.'') (7:88). They had sought to scare the Prophet of Allah and those who followed him, so they were seized by the earthquake. In Surah Hud, Allah says:

﴿ وَأَخَذَتِ ٱلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ ٱلصَّيۡحَةُ

(And As-Sayhah seized the wrongdoers) (11:94). This was because they mocked the Allah's Prophet when they said:

﴿ أَصَلَوٰتُكَ تَأۡمُرُكَ أَن نَّتۡرُكَ مَا يَعۡبُدُ ءَابَآؤُنَآ أَوۡ أَن نَّفۡعَلَ فِىٓ أَمۡوَٲلِنَا مَا نَشَـٰٓؤُاْ‌ۖ إِنَّكَ لَأَنتَ ٱلۡحَلِيمُ ٱلرَّشِيدُ

("Does your Salah command that we give up what our fathers used to worship, or that we give up doing what we like with our property Verily, you are the forbearer, right-minded!'') (11:87). They had said this in a mocking, sarcastic tone, so it was befitting that the Sayhah should come and silence them, as Allah says:

﴿ فَأَخَذَتۡہُمُ ٱلصَّيۡحَةُ

(So As-Saihah overtook them) (15:73).

﴿ وَأَخَذَتِ ٱلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ ٱلصَّيۡحَةُ

(And As-Saihah seized the wrongdoers) (11:94). And here, they said:

﴿ فَأَسۡقِطۡ عَلَيۡنَا كِسَفً۬ا مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ

(So, cause a piece of the heaven to fall on us,) in a stubborn and obstinate manner. So, it was fitting that something they never thought would happen should befall them:

﴿ فَأَخَذَهُمۡ عَذَابُ يَوۡمِ ٱلظُّلَّةِ‌ۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ كَانَ عَذَابَ يَوۡمٍ عَظِيمٍ

(so the torment of the Day of Shadow seized them. Indeed that was the torment of a Great Day.) Muhammad bin Jarir narrated from Yazid Al-Bahili: "I asked Ibn `Abbas about this Ayah:

﴿ فَأَخَذَهُمۡ عَذَابُ يَوۡمِ ٱلظُّلَّةِ‌ۚ

(so the torment of the Day of Shadow seized them. ) He said: `Allah sent upon them thunder and intense heat, and it terrified them (so they entered their houses and it pursued them to the innermost parts of their houses and terrified them further), and they ran fleeing from their houses into the fields. Then Allah sent upon them clouds which shaded them from the sun, and they found it cool and pleasant, so they called out to one another until they had all gathered beneath the cloud, then Allah sent fire upon them.' Ibn `Abbas said, `That was the torment of the Day of Shadow, indeed that was the torment of a Great Day.'''

﴿ إِنَّ فِى ذَٲلِكَ لَأَيَةً۬‌ۖ وَمَا كَانَ أَكۡثَرُهُم مُّؤۡمِنِينَ وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَهُوَ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ

(Verily, in this is an Ayah, yet most of them are not believers. And verily, your Lord, He is truly, the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful.) (26:8-9) meaning, He is All-Mighty in His punishment of the disbelievers, and Most Merciful towards His believing servants.

﴿ وَإِنَّهُ ۥ لَتَنزِيلُ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ نَزَلَ بِهِ ٱلرُّوحُ ٱلۡأَمِينُ عَلَىٰ قَلۡبِكَ لِتَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُنذِرِينَ بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِىٍّ۬ مُّبِينٍ۬

(192. And truly, this is a revelation from the Lord of all that exists,) (193. Which the trustworthy Ruh (Jibril) has brought down.) (194. Upon your heart that you may be (one) of the warners,) (195. In the plain Arabic language.)

The Qur'an was revealed by Allah

Here Allah tells us about the Book which He revealed to His servant and Messenger Muhammad.

﴿ وَإِنَّهُ ۥ

(And truly, this) refers to the Qur'an, which at the beginning of the Surah was described as

﴿ وَمَا يَأۡتِيہِم مِّن ذِكۡرٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ مُحۡدَثٍ

(and never comes there unto them a Reminder as a recent revelation from the Most Gracious...) (26:5).

﴿ لَتَنزِيلُ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ

(is a revelation from the Lord of Al-`Alamin.) means, Allah has sent it down to you and revealed it to you.

﴿ نَزَلَ بِهِ ٱلرُّوحُ ٱلۡأَمِينُ

(Which the trustworthy Ruh has brought down.) This refers to Jibril, peace be upon him. This was the view of more than one of the Salaf: Ibn `Abbas, Muhammad bin Ka`b, Qatadah, `Atiyyah Al-`Awfi, As-Suddi, Ad-Dahhak, Az-Zuhri and Ibn Jurayj. This is an issue concerning which there is no dispute. Az-Zuhri said, "This is like the Ayah:

﴿ قُلۡ مَن كَانَ عَدُوًّ۬ا لِّجِبۡرِيلَ فَإِنَّهُ ۥ نَزَّلَهُ ۥ عَلَىٰ قَلۡبِكَ بِإِذۡنِ ٱللَّهِ مُصَدِّقً۬ا لِّمَا بَيۡنَ يَدَيۡهِ

(Say: "Whoever is an enemy to Jibril -- for indeed he has brought it down to your heart by Allah's permission, confirming what came before it...'') (2:97).

﴿ عَلَىٰ قَلۡبِكَ

(Upon your heart) `O Muhammad, free from any contamination, with nothing added or taken away.'

﴿ لِتَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُنذِرِينَ

(that you may be of the warners,) means, `so that you may warn people with it of the punishment of Allah for those who go against it and disbelieve in it, and so that you may give glad tidings with it to the believers who follow it.'

﴿ بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِىٍّ۬ مُّبِينٍ۬

(In the plain Arabic language.) meaning, `this Qur'an which We have revealed to you, We have revealed in perfect and eloquent Arabic, so that it may be quite clear, leaving no room for excuses and establishing clear proof, showing the straight path.'

﴿ وَإِنَّهُ ۥ لَفِى زُبُرِ ٱلۡأَوَّلِينَ أَوَلَمۡ يَكُن لَّهُمۡ ءَايَةً أَن يَعۡلَمَهُ ۥ عُلَمَـٰٓؤُاْ بَنِىٓ إِسۡرَٲٓءِيلَ وَلَوۡ نَزَّلۡنَـٰهُ عَلَىٰ بَعۡضِ ٱلۡأَعۡجَمِينَ
﴿ فَقَرَأَهُ ۥ عَلَيۡهِم مَّا ڪَانُواْ بِهِۦ مُؤۡمِنِينَ

(196. And verily, it is in the Zubur of the former people.) (197. Is it not a sign to them that the learned scholars of the Children of Israel knew it) (198. And if We had revealed it unto any of the non-Arabs,) (199. And he had recited it unto them, they would not have believed in it.)

The Qur'an was mentioned in the Previous Scriptures

Allah says: this Qur'an was mentioned and referred to in the previous Scriptures that were left behind by their Prophets who foretold it in ancient times and more recently. Allah took a covenant from them that they would follow it, and the last of them stood and addressed his people with the good news of Ahmad:

﴿ وَإِذۡ قَالَ عِيسَى ٱبۡنُ مَرۡيَمَ يَـٰبَنِىٓ إِسۡرَٲٓءِيلَ إِنِّى رَسُولُ ٱللَّهِ إِلَيۡكُم مُّصَدِّقً۬ا لِّمَا بَيۡنَ يَدَىَّ مِنَ ٱلتَّوۡرَٮٰةِ وَمُبَشِّرَۢا بِرَسُولٍ۬ يَأۡتِى مِنۢ بَعۡدِى ٱسۡمُهُ ۥۤ أَحۡمَدُ‌ۖ

(And (remember) when `Isa, son of Maryam, said: "O Children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah unto you, confirming the Tawrah before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.) (61:6) Zubur here refers to Books; Zubur is the plural of Az-Zabur, which is also the name used to refer to the Book given to Dawud. Allah says:

﴿ وَكُلُّ شَىۡءٍ۬ فَعَلُوهُ فِى ٱلزُّبُرِ

(And everything they have done is noted in the Az-Zubur.) (54:52), meaning, it is recorded against them in the books of the angels. Then Allah says:

﴿ أَوَلَمۡ يَكُن لَّهُمۡ ءَايَةً أَن يَعۡلَمَهُ ۥ عُلَمَـٰٓؤُاْ بَنِىٓ إِسۡرَٲٓءِيلَ

(Is it not a sign to them that the learned scholars of the Children of Israel knew it) meaning, is it not sufficient witness to the truth for them that the scholars of the Children of Israel found this Qur'an mentioned in the Scriptures which they study The meaning is: the fair-minded among them admitted that the attributes of Muhammad and his mission and his Ummah were mentioned in their Books, as was stated by those among them who believed, such as `Abdullah bin Salam, Salman Al-Farisi and others who met the Prophet . Allah said:

﴿ ٱلَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ ٱلرَّسُولَ ٱلنَّبِىَّ ٱلۡأُمِّىَّ

(Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write...) (7:157)

The Intense Disbelief of Quraysh

Then Allah tells us how intense the disbelief of Quraysh was, and how stubbornly they resisted the Qur'an. If this Book with all its eloquence had been revealed to a non-Arab who did not know one word of Arabic, they still would not have believed in him. Allah says:

﴿ وَلَوۡ نَزَّلۡنَـٰهُ عَلَىٰ بَعۡضِ ٱلۡأَعۡجَمِينَ
﴿ فَقَرَأَهُ ۥ عَلَيۡهِم مَّا ڪَانُواْ بِهِۦ مُؤۡمِنِينَ

(And if We had revealed it unto any of the non-Arabs, And he had recited it unto them, they would not have believed in it.) And Allah says:

﴿ وَلَوۡ فَتَحۡنَا عَلَيۡہِم بَابً۬ا مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ فَظَلُّواْ فِيهِ يَعۡرُجُونَ لَقَالُوٓاْ إِنَّمَا سُكِّرَتۡ أَبۡصَـٰرُنَا

(And even if We opened to them a gate from the heaven and they were to keep on ascending thereto. They would surely say: "Our eyes have been dazzled...'') (15:14-15)

﴿ وَلَوۡ أَنَّنَا نَزَّلۡنَآ إِلَيۡہِمُ ٱلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕڪَةَ وَكَلَّمَهُمُ ٱلۡمَوۡتَىٰ

(And even if We had sent down unto them angels, and the dead had spoken unto them...) (6:111)

﴿ إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ حَقَّتۡ عَلَيۡہِمۡ ڪَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ لَا يُؤۡمِنُونَ

(Truly, those, against whom the Word of your Lord has been justified, will not believe.) (10:96)

﴿ كَذَٲلِكَ سَلَكۡنَـٰهُ فِى قُلُوبِ ٱلۡمُجۡرِمِينَ لَا يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِهِۦ حَتَّىٰ يَرَوُاْ ٱلۡعَذَابَ ٱلۡأَلِيمَ فَيَأۡتِيَهُم بَغۡتَةً۬ وَهُمۡ لَا يَشۡعُرُونَ فَيَقُولُواْ هَلۡ نَحۡنُ مُنظَرُونَ أَفَبِعَذَابِنَا يَسۡتَعۡجِلُونَ أَفَرَءَيۡتَ إِن مَّتَّعۡنَـٰهُمۡ سِنِينَ ثُمَّ جَآءَهُم مَّا كَانُواْ يُوعَدُونَ مَآ أَغۡنَىٰ عَنۡہُم مَّا كَانُواْ يُمَتَّعُونَ وَمَآ أَهۡلَكۡنَا مِن قَرۡيَةٍ إِلَّا لَهَا مُنذِرُونَ
﴿ ذِكۡرَىٰ وَمَا ڪُنَّا ظَـٰلِمِينَ

(200. Thus have We caused it to enter the hearts of the criminals.) (201. They will not believe in it until they see the painful torment.) (202. It shall come to them of a sudden, while they perceive it not.) (203. Then they will say: "Can we be respited'') (204. Would they then wish for Our torment to be hastened on) (205. Think, if We do let them enjoy for years,) (206. And afterwards comes to them that which they had been promised.) (207. All that with which they used to enjoy shall not avail them.) (208. And never did We destroy a township but it had its warners) (209. By way of reminder, and We have never been unjust.)