Here Allah asks: `Is that which He has mentioned of the delights of Paradise with its food, drink, companions and other joys better entertainment, or
(or the tree of Zaqqum) which is in Hell' The meaning here is a specific kind of tree which is called Zaqqum. This is like the Ayah:
(And a tree that springs forth from Mount Sinai, that grows (produces) oil, and (it is a) relish for the eaters.) (23:20) -- which is the olive tree. This is supported by the Ayah:
(Then moreover, verily, -- you the erring-ones, the deniers! You, verily, will eat of the trees of Zaqqum.) (56:51-52).
(Truly, We have made it (as) a trial for the wrongdoers.) Qatadah said, "The tree of Zaqqum is mentioned as a test for those who are misguided. They said, `Your companion tells you that in the Fire there is a tree, but fire consumes trees.' Then Allah revealed the words:
(Verily, it is a tree that springs out of the bottom of Hell-fire.) meaning, it is nourished by the fire, for it was created from fire.'' Mujahid said:
(Truly, We have made it (as) a trial for the wrongdoers.) Abu Jahl, may Allah curse him, said, "Zaqqum means dates and butter which I eat (Atazaqqamuhu).'' I say that the meaning of the Ayah is, "We have told you, O Muhammad, of the tree of Zaqqum as a trial with which We test the people to see who will believe and who will disbelieve.'' This is like the Ayah:
(And We made not the vision which we showed you but a trial for mankind, and the accursed tree in the Qur'an. We warn and make them afraid but it only increases them in naught save great disbelief, oppression and disobedience to Allah) (17:60).
(Verily, it is a tree that springs out of the bottom of Hell-fire.) means, its roots grow at the bottom of Hell.
(The shoots of its fruit stalks are like the heads of Shayatin.) this is a description of how ugly and repulsive it is. It is likened to
(the heads of Shayatin ), even though they have never seen them, because it is a well-established idea in people's minds that devils are ugly in appearance.
(Truly, they will eat thereof and fill their bellies therewith.) Allah mentions that they will eat of this extremely ugly tree even though its fruit tastes and smells so bad; they will be forced to eat from it because they will not find anything else to eat except this tree and similar things, as Allah says:
(No food will there be for them but a poisonous thorny plant, Which will neither nourish nor avail against hunger.) (88:6 -7).
(Then on the top of that they will be boiling Hamim) Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "This means they will be given boiling Hamim to drink after they have eaten from Zaqqum.'' According to another report, he said that this means a mixture made from boiling water. Someone else said that it means boiling water will be mixed with pus and offensive discharges that leak from their private parts and eyes. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Sa`id bin Jubayr said, "When the people of Hell get hungry, they will ask for food from the tree of Zaqqum. They will eat from it, then the skin of their faces will fall off, If someone were to pass by, he would recognize them from their faces. Then thirst will be sent upon them, so they will ask to be given something to drink, and they will be given water like boiling oil that has been heated to the ultimate degree. When it is brought near to their mouths, the flesh of their faces from which the skin has fallen off will be baked by its heat, and whatever is in their stomachs will melt. They will walk with their guts falling out and with their skin falling off, then they will be beaten with hooked rods of iron. Then every part of their bodies will burst into loud lamentations.
(Then thereafter, verily, their return is to the flaming fire of Hell.) means, after that interval, they will be sent back to the burning fire, searing heat and scorching flames, and they will rotate between the one and the other. This is like the Ayah,
(They will go between it (Hell) and the fierce boiling water!) (55:44). Qatadah recited this Ayah when discussing this Ayah. This is a good interpretation. `Abdullah bin Mas`ud recited it differently, with the meaning "Their return in the afternoon.'' `Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) used to say: "By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, midday on the Day of Resurrection will not come until the people of Paradise will be in Paradise and the people of Hell will be in Hell.'' Then he recited:
(The dwellers of Paradise will, on that Day, have the best abode, and have the fairest of places for repose) (25:24). Allah's saying;
(Verily, they found their fathers on the wrong path;) means, `We will punish them for that because they found their fathers following misguidance and they followed them with no evidence or proof.' Allah says:
(So they (too) hastened in their footsteps!) Mujahid said, "This is like running.'' Sa`id bin Jubayr said, "They followed ignorance and foolishness.''
(71. And indeed most of the earlier ones went astray before them;) (72. And indeed We sent among them warners;) (73. Then see what was the end of those who were warned.) (74. Except the chosen servants of Allah.) Allah tells us that most of the previous nations went astray, worshipping other gods alongside Allah. He states that He sent among them warners to alert them to the anger, wrath and vengeance of Allah towards those who disbelieve in Him and worship others besides Him. He tells us that they persisted in their opposition to their Messengers and their disbelief in them, so He destroyed those who disbelieved in Him and saved the believers and caused them to prevail. Allah says:
(Then see what was the end of those who were warned. Except the chosen servants of Allah).
(75. And indeed Nuh invoked Us, and We are the best of those who answer.) (76. And We rescued him and his family from the great distress,) (77. And, his progeny, them We made the survivors.) (78. And left for him (a goodly remembrance) among the later generations) (79. "Salam (peace!) be upon Nuh among the all creatures!'') (80. Verily, thus We reward the good doers.) (81. Verily, he (Nuh) was one of Our believing servants.) (82. Then We drowned the others.)
When Allah tells us about how most of the early people went astray from the path of salvation, He starts the detailed explanation of that with the story of Nuh and the rejection of his people. Only a few of Nuh's people believed in him, despite the long period of time he spent among them. He stayed among them for one thousand years less fifty, and after he stayed among them for so long and their disbelief became too much for him to bear -- for every time he called them, they turned away from him even more -- he prayed to his Lord saying, "I have been overcome, so help (me)!'' So Allah became angry because Nuh was angry with them. He says:
(And indeed Nuh invoked Us, and We are the best of those who answer.)
(And We rescued him and his family from the great distress.) means, their disbelief and their insults.
(And, his progeny, them We made the survivors.) `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) "There was no one left apart from the offspring of Nuh, (peace be upon him) .'' Sa`id bin Abi `Arubah said, narrating from Qatadah concerning the Ayah,
(And, his progeny, them We made the survivors.) "All people descended from the offspring of Nuh, (peace be upon him) .'' At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim narrated from Samurah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet said, concerning the Ayah,
(And, his progeny, them We made the survivors):
(Sam, Ham and Yafith.) Imam Ahmad recorded from Samurah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah said:
(Sam was the father of the Arabs, Ham was the father of the Ethiopians and Yafith was the father of the Romans.)'' This was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi. What is meant here by Romans is the original Romans, i.e., the Greeks who claimed descent from Ruma (Roma) the son of Liti, the son of Yunan, the son of Yafith, the son of Nuh, (peace be upon him) .
(And left for him among the later generations.) Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "He is remembered in a good way.'' Mujahid said this means "An honorable mention by all the Prophets.'' Qatadah and As-Suddi said, "Allah caused him to be praised constantly by others.'' Ad-Dahhak said it means "Salam and praise.''
(Salam (peace!) be upon Nuh among the all creatures!) This explains for us the extent of the honorable mention and praise, for he is greeted with peace by all groups and nations.
(Verily, thus We reward the good doers.) means, `This is how We reward those of Our servants who do deeds of obedience to Allah. We gave him an honorable mention so that after he died he is still remembered in a manner that befits his status.' Then Allah says:
(Verily, he (Nuh) was one of Our believing servants.) meaning, one of the sincere believers in the Oneness of Allah, one of those who had certain faith.
(Then We drowned the others.) means, `We destroyed them, and there was no trace whatsoever left of them, and they are only known by this unfavorable description.'
(83. And verily, among those who followed his way was Ibrahim.) (84. When he came to his Lord with a Salim heart.) (85. When he said to his father and to his people: "What is it that which you worship'') (86. "Is it a falsehood -- gods other than Allah -- that you desire'') (87. "Then what think you about the Lord of the all that exists'')
`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him:
(And verily, among those who followed his ways was Ibrahim.) means, he was one of the followers of his religion. Mujahid said, "He was following his path and his way.''
(When he came to his Lord with a Salim heart.) Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "This means that he bore witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah.'' Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Awf said, "I said to Muhammad bin Sirin, `What is the Salim heart' He said, `One which knows that Allah is true and that the Hour will undoubtedly come to pass, and that Allah will resurrect those who are in the graves.''' Al-Hasan said, "One that is free from Shirk.'' `Urwah said, "One that is not cursed.''
(When he said to his father and to his people: "What is it that which you worship'') He denounced his people for their worship of idols and false gods, Allah said:
(Is it a falsehood -- gods other than Allah -- that you desire Then what think you about the Lord of the all that exists) Qatadah said, "This means, `what do you think He will do with you when you meet Him, given that you worshipped others alongside Him''
(88. Then he cast a glance at the stars,) (89. And he said: "Verily, I am sick.'') (90. So they turned away from him and departed.) (91. Then he turned to their gods and said: "Will you not eat'') (92. "What is the matter with you that you speak not'') (93. Then he turned upon them, striking (them) with (his) right hand.) (94. Then they came hastily towards him.) (95. He said: "Worship you that which you (yourselves) carve'') (96. "While Allah has created you and what you make!'') (97. They said: "Build for him a building and throw him into the blazing fire!'') (98. So, they plotted a plot against him, but We made them the lowest.) Ibrahim, (peace be upon him) , said this to his people so that he could stay behind in the city when they went out for their festival. The time was approaching for them to go out to celebrate a festival of theirs, and he wanted to be alone with their gods so that he could break them, so he told them something that was true, for he was indeed sick of the implications of what they believed in.
(So they turned away from him and departed.) Qatadah said, "The Arabs say of one who thinks deeply that he is looking at the stars.'' What Qatadah meant is that he looked at the heavens thinking of a way to distract his people. So he said,
(Verily, I am sick.) meaning, weak. Ibn Jarir narrated here a Hadith from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) stating that the Messenger of Allah said:
(Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him) did not lie except in three cases. Two were for the sake of Allah: (one is) when he said, (Verily, I am sick); and (the second) when he said, (Nay, this one, the biggest (his wife) of them (idols) did it.) and (the third) when he said concerning (his wife) Sarah, "She is my sister.'') This Hadith is recorded in the books of the Sahih and Sunan with various chain of narrations. But this is not the kind of real lie for which a person is to be condemned -- Allah forbid! One calls it a lie for lack of a better word, because it is abstruse speech used for a legitimate religious purpose, and it was said that what was meant by the words,
(Verily, I am sick) was, `I am sick at heart of your worshipping idols instead of Allah.' Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, "The people of Ibrahim went out to their festival and they wanted to make him go out too. So he lay down on his back and said,
(Verily, I am sick.) and he started looking at the sky. When they had gone out, he turned to their gods and broke them.'' This was recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim. Allah said:
(So they turned away from him and departed.) meaning, he went to them after they had left, quickly and secretly.
(and said: "Will you not eat'') They had placed food before them as a sacrifice, so that the food might be blessed. When Ibrahim, (peace be upon him) , looked at the food that was before them, he said:
(Will you not eat What is the matter with you that you speak not)
(Then he turned upon them, striking (them) with (his) right hand.) Al-Farra' said, "This means, he started to hit them with his right hand.'' Qatadah and Al-Jawhari said, "He turned to them, hitting them with his right hand.'' He struck them with his right hand because the right hand is stronger and more powerful. Then he left them broken to pieces, (all) except the biggest of them, that they might turn to it, as we have already seen in the Tafsir of Surat Al-Anbiya'.
(Then they came hastily towards him.) Mujahid and others said, "This means, they came rushing. The story is told in brief here; in Surat Al-Anbiya', it is told in more detail. When they returned, they did not know at first who had done this, until they investigated and found out that Ibrahim, (peace be upon him) , was the one who had done it. When they came to rebuke him, he started rebuking and criticizing them and said:
(Worship you that which you carve) meaning, `do you worship instead of Allah idols which you yourselves carve and fashion with your own hands'
(While Allah has created you and what you make!) This may mean, `Allah has created you and what you do;' or it may mean, `Allah has created you and what you make.' Both views are synonymous. The former is more apparent because of the report recorded by Al-Bukhari in the Book Af`al Al-`Ibad from Hudhayfah, attributed to the Prophet :
(Allah has created every doer of deeds and what he does.) Thereupon he recited:
(While Allah has created you and what you make!) When the proof had been established against them, they resolved to seize him by force and they said:
(Build for him a building (i.e., furnace) and throw him into the blazing fire!) There happened what we have already discussed in our Tafsir of Surat Al-Anbiya', (21:68-70) and Allah saved him from the fire and caused him to prevail over them, making his proof supreme and supporting it. Allah says:
(So, they plotted a plot against him, but We made them the lowest.)
(99. And he said: "Verily, I am going to my Lord. He will guide me!'' (100. "My Lord! Grant me (offspring) from the righteous.'') (101. So, We gave him the glad tidings of a forbearing boy.) (102. And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: "O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you. So look what you think!'' He said: "O my father! Do that which you are commanded, if Allah wills, you shall find me of the patient.'') (103. Then, when they had both submitted themselves, and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead;) (104. We called out to him: "O Ibrahim!'') (105. "You have fulfilled the dream!'' Verily, thus do We reward the doers of good.) (106. Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial.) (107. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice;) (108. And We left for him among the later generations.) (109. "Salam (peace!) be upon Ibrahim!'') (110. Thus indeed do We reward the doers of good.) (111. Verily, he was one of Our believing servants.) (112. And We gave him the glad tidings of Ishaq -- a Prophet from the righteous.) (113. We blessed him and Ishaq. And of their progeny are (some) that do right, and some that plainly wrong themselves.)