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Sūrahs Tīn - ‘Alaq
Qur'anic Exegesis
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)


Relationship  between in Sūrah

Both these sūrahs form a pair since they discuss the same subject. The law of retribution which is validated by the first sūrah is used to warn a leading chief of the Quraysh in the second one. He is informed that if he does not mend his ways, he shall become a victim of this unchanging law.

Addresses of the Sūrahs

Both the sūrahs address the Prophet (sws); however, a little deliberation shows that the actual target of this address are the leaders of the Quraysh whose defiant and rebellious attitude was now crossing the limits.

Period of their Revelation

A look at the contents of the sūrahs shows that they were revealed in Mecca just before the Prophet's migration to Medina in the phase of Itmām-i-Hujjat. In this phase of his mission, the Prophet (sws) was revealing the truth to them in its ultimate form after which they could have no excuse to deny it.

Central Themes

The central theme of Sūrah Tīn is to verify the law of retribution and to warn the Quraysh on its basis that the truth has now been disclosed to them in its ultimate form and nothing but stubbornness and obstinacy on their part can deny it.

In Sūrah ‘Alaq, the central theme revolves around a note of severe warning and threat to an eminent leader of the Quraysh that if even after being taught through the Qur’ān he persists in his arrogance, the only result would be that very soon the guards of the Almighty shall drag him to the raging pit of Hell and none of his comrades will be able to help him.

Explanation of the Sūrahs

Sūrah Tīn1

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.

The mount of Figs2 and the mount of Olives3 bear witness and [so does] the mount of Sinai4 and this secure city5 of [yours] that We have created man in the best of moulds [as regards his purpose]. Then, We reverted him to the lowest [state] when/as he himself wanted to become low. Save those who accepted faith and did righteous deeds. For them shall be a reward unending6.

Now [O Prophet!] what is it that denys you about the Day of Judgement7? [Ask them] is not Allah the best of Judges8?

 Sūrah ‘Alaq

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.

Read out to them [O Prophet!] in the name of your Lord9 who created --- created man from a clot of congealed blood10. Read out to them and the fact is that your Lord is the nost Bounteous11 who taught [this Qur’ān] by the pen12 [in which] He gave man that knowledge which he knew not13. (1-5)

[Whatever vain talk they indulge in against it is baseless O Prophet!] Certainly not: Verily man is rebellious as he considers himself self-sufficient [in wealth]14. [Let him think so] for verily to His Lord will he [one day] return15. (6-8)

Have you seen him who forbids a servant16 [of Allah] when he prays. Just consider if this [servant] of [Ours] is on the right path or urges [others] to piety then17 ... ! Just see if this [wretched] person denied and turned away then18 ... ! Does he not know that Allah is observing [him]? (9-14)

[This is nothing], Certainly not! [O Prophet!] if he desists not We shall drag him by the forelock, a lying sinful forelock. Then let him call his help-mates. We shall summon Our guards19. (15-18)

Certainly not! heed him not and bow down in prostration and draw near [Me]20. (19)











1. The various oaths mentioned in the Qur’ān are meant to present an evidence which substantiates a claim. The muqsim bihi (object of oath) serves as an evidence for the point made in the muqsim alaih (complement of oath), which sometimes is stated just after the muqsim bihi and at other times is suppressed when it is too obvious to be expressed. In this particular sūrah, the objects of oath are the mountains of Figs, Olives, Sinai and the city of Mecca. The complement of oath is the law of retribution mentioned in the succeeding verses.

2. Here the word Tīn does not signify the fruit fig as most commentators have interpreted. It implies the Mount of Figs named after the fruit as it was produced in abundance on it. The Qur’ān calls it Judi (Hood 11:44) a peak in the mountain range of Ararat situated near the frontiers of modern Turkey, modern Iraq, modern Syria and the town of Jazirāt Ibni Umar. The Taurat refers to it as mount Seir (Deuteronomy 33:2). It was in the valley of this mountain that the people of Noah were drowned by a flood in accordance with the law of retribution.

3. Like the word `Fig', `Olive' signifies the Mount of Olives located just outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem. According tp the Bible (Luke 22:39-53), it was from this mountain that Jesus (sws), the last Judaic Prophet was lifted to the heavens and the Jews, as a nation, were deposed forever from their position of religious leadership. This was because they had been left with no excuse but stubborness to dent their last Prophet --- Jesus (sws).

4. It is on this mountain that the Taurat was given to the Israelites and they were entrusted with the position of religious leadership as they accepted faith at the hands of the Prophet Moses (sws) and did whatever they could to help him in his mission. 

5. The city of Mecca referred to here by the adjective of `secure' was once a land of war and strife. The Almighty endowed Mecca with peace and stability after Abraham (sws) had settled his son Ismael in it. It was in this city that the Ismaelites, the children of Abraham (sws) from his son Ismael (sws), were granted religious leadership in return for the tremendous amount of sacrifices made by Abraham (sws) --- of course! on the condition that they too would follow his footsteps. It was the result of this position of leadership that they were made the custodians of the Baitullah, the foremost centre of worship. 

6. This is the complement of oath. The events which took place on the mounts of Fig, Olives and Sinai and in the city of Mecca bear witness to a certain premise. This premise says that since man has been created in the most appropriate form to undergo the test period of his life, therefore, it is in the fitness of things that if he of his own will falls into lowness, the Almighty should lead him to the grievous penalty of Hell and if he of his own will rises to greatness the Almighty should lead him to the blissful life of Paradise. In other words, if he passes the test of this life he shall succeed in the Hereafter, and if he fails he shall be doomed in the Hereafter. In the Taurat, all these four locations, which became a sight for the implementation of the Almighty's law of retribution, are mentioned in the following words: `The Lord came from Sinai and dawned over them from Seir (Tīn); He shown forth from mount Paran (Balad-ul-Ameen: Mecca) and came from the mountains of Quds (Zaitoon) (Deuteronomy 33:1-2). Their placement in the Qur’ān has an important significance. The first two places are the locations where two great nations of the world --- the people of Noah and the Bani Israel were punished for their behaviour while the last two places are the sites where two great nations --- the two branches of Abraham's progeny the Ismaelites and the Israelites were rewarded for ...(JS)

7. A note of severe reprimand is indirectly sounded to the arrogant leadership of the Quraysh. The Prophet (sws) is addressed and told that even after all this `tangible' historical evidence on the Day of Judgement is there any other testimony left which can induce the Quraysh to accept faith.

8. This verse presents evidence on the Day of Judgement from another angle. The Almighty's attribute of being the best of judges entails the coming of a day wherein the righteous and the wrongdoers should be rewarded according to their deeds. 

9. The Quraysh are reminded of the tremendous significance of the Qur’ān: It is not the work of some human; it is the work of the Almighty; all its words have been divinely revealed. This is something peculiar to the Qur’ān only among all other divine books.

10. The point the verse makes is that when the Almighty created man from such an insignificant material, it is not at all difficult for Him to create him a second time whenever He intends.

11. Consequently, it is because of His bounty that He is giving the un-lettered Ismaelites His guidance in the form of a Book.

12. The great favour of the Almighty in revealing a Book to a nation which had lost most of the teachings of Abraham (sws) while most of which remained had been contaminated with the passage of time has been recounted to the Quraysh. It was for the first time in history that such a safe and protected arrangement had been made by the Almighty for mankind's guidance. It is, therefore, only befitting for the Quraysh to show gratitude to the Almighty on this favour.

13. This is another aspect of the favour mentioned in the previous verse. The words `gave man that knowledge which he knew not' refers to the two categories of the contents of the Qur’ān: the Law and the Philosophy. (2:151), (2:198) abd (3:164) bear evidence to this.

14. The Prophet (sws) is being assured that the real reason behind their denial is that the love of this world and its wealth has made them indifferent to the Almighty.

15. ie very soon shall they face the Almighty and all their baseless assertions shall no more be able to save them.

16. ie the Prophet (sws) himself.

17. As the severity of this situation is beyond expression the remaining part of the verse has been suppressed. If this suppressed par is revealed, the implied meaning would be something like this: `Just consider if this [servant] of [Ours] is on the right path or urges [others] to piety then is not the one who is forbiddding him to pray calling for a miserable doom.' It must be kept in consideration that someone who stops a person from praying is actually stopping him to fulfil the greatest right imposed on a person by the Almighty. As such this act is the severest of sins.

18. The intensity in the verse is similar to the previous one. Again the suppressed portion might read something like this `then has he not acquired for himself the ignominous abode of Hell'.

19. This is the actual warning sounded to the Quraysh with reference to the law of retribution mentioned in the previous sūrah. They should remember that if they continue with this rebellious attitude, they shall be wiped out like other nations. 

20. The Prophet (sws) is being urged to bear the hostility of his adversaries with patience and perseverence and seek the nearness of Allah by prostrating himself in prayer before Him.


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