You are reading a tafsir for the group of verses 6:142 to 6:150
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Commentary

Mentioned in the previous verses was how astray the disbelievers of Makkah had gone when they had taken their self-carved, lifeless, insensate idols as partners in the Divinity of Allah as they made them share in animals created by Him and in many other blessings which were bestowed on them. Their transgression went to the limits when they would take out charities from these blessings as an act of worship, setting aside a portion for Allah and another for their idols. Then, they would employ different excuses to take out what belonged to the portion set aside for Allah and put it in the portion reserved for the idols. Similarly, there were many other ignorance-based arbitrary customs which they had given legal status.

In the first (141) of the two verses quoted above, Allah Ta` ala mentions the wonders wrought by His perfect power in the form of what grows on the earth bringing forth the fruits of His creation. Similarly, in the second verse (142), pointed to was the creation of the different kinds of animals and cattle. Then, with this in view, comes the admonition - how could a people become so sightless as to undermine their Powerful, Knowing and Aware Creator in favour of things that weak, inert and unaware, and start taking the later as His associates and partners.

After that, they were guided towards the straight path, the most sound approach to life. They were told to understand that there was no partner or associate with Allah when He created and bestowed on them things which benefit them - how then, can they take them as sharers in the worship of Allah, something which has to be exclusively for Him? This was rank ingratitude for His blessings, and certainly an injustice. They should realize that it was Allah who bestowed these things on them. It was He who made them work for them so that they could use them as they wished and then, He made these things lawful for them. So, keeping these factors in view, it was their duty to re-member the right of Allah, and be grateful to Him whenever they benefit from His blessings, and to stop making satanic thoughts and ignorance-based customs a part of their faith.

Some Words and Their Meanings

The word: اَنشَاَ (ansha'a) in the first verse means ` created.' The second word: (ma` rushat) is from: عَرش ('arsh) which means to raise, to make go high. مَّعْرُ‌وشَاتٍ ` Ma` rushat' refers to vines of plants which are mounted on supports called trellis, such as, the grape, and some vegetables. In contrast, is: غَيْرَ‌ مَعْرُ‌وشَاتٍ (ghayra marushat: untrellised) which includes all plants the vines of which are not raised high - whether trees with trunk and without vines, or they may be with vines which spread on the ground and are not raised, such as, the melon.

The word: النَّخْلَ (an-nakhl) means the date tree; الزَّرْ‌عَ (az-zar`) is crops of all kinds. The word: الزَّيْتُونَ (az-zaytun) is the name of the olive tree and of its fruit as well; and: الرُّ‌مَّانَ (ar-rumman) is pomegranate.

In these verses, two kinds of farm or garden plants have been mentioned: (1) Those the vines of which are raised high, and (2) those the vines of which are not raised. The hint given is that Allah's creation is full of wisdom and mystery. Here is the same soil, the same water, air, atmosphere, yet the plants that grow are different. Then, a variety was introduced through the processing, colouring and ripening of fruits, and by the employment of countless and complex properties embedded in them, some plants were designed to bear fruit only when their vines were raised up - and even if it does show up, it would not grow and survive, such as, the grape. Then, some plants were taught a grammar of growth so that their vines would not go up even if anyone tried to do that - and should it, by chance, climb up, the fruit will grow weak and wither away, as is the case with melons of all kinds. Certainly unusual is the phenomena when some trees were made to stand on strong trunks and taken as high as it would not be possible for human ingenuity to accomplish in. common practice. This talisman of trees is not simply accidental. It has wisdom, intention and mastery of execution behind it. Trees have properties and fruits have tempers. Some fruits grow and ripen in the soil and on the ground. A touch of soil would spoil others. Some of them find it necessary to hang by high branches, encounter fresh air, soak sunrays and starlight and get their colour. To each, nature has given a suitable system to perform by.

فَتَبَارَ‌كَ اللَّـهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ

So blessed be Allah, the best of creators -23:14

After that, dates and crops were mentioned specially. The date fruit is usually eaten for pleasure. If one is hungry, it will serve as regular food. Crops from farms provide food grains for human beings and fodder for animals. After having mentioned these two, it was said: فَتَبَارَ‌كَ اللَّـهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ (with a variety of edibles). Here, the pronoun in: أُكُلُهُ (ukuluhu) may be taken as referring back to: زَرع (zar`: crops), or to: نخل (nakhl : date-palms) as well. However, the sense includes both. Thus, the meaning is that there are different kinds of dates, and each kind has a different taste. As for crops, the kinds go to hundreds - and each kind has its own distinct taste, property and use. Their climate and land are the same yet there is a great difference in fruits produced. Then, each kind has a different set of properties and benefits, yet they are so unique in diversity. This is a phenomenon which compels even a man of ordinary insight to realize and accept that the Power and Being that created them is a Being beyond the parameters of comprehension, the measure of whose knowledge and wisdom cannot even be imagined by human beings.

After that, two more things were mentioned: olive and pomegranate. Olive is fruit and vegetable both. The oil from olive is clean, transparent and delicate. It is better than most oils. Its properties, uses and benefits are numerous. In fact, it cures many ailments. Similarly, there are many properties and benefits of pomegranate which most people know. After mentioning these two fruits, it was said: مُتَشَابِهًا وَغَيْرَ‌ مُتَشَابِهٍ (similar and not similar). It means that some trees from among them bear fruits which, in terms of colour and taste, are similar to each other. Then, there are some others which have different colour and taste. That some pomegranate fruits are similar in colour, taste and size and some others are different holds true for olives too.

Having mentioned kinds of trees and fruits, given there in this verse are two injunctions to be followed. The first one is a natural satisfier of human desires. It was said: كُلُوا مِن ثَمَرِ‌هِ إِذَا أَثْمَرَ‌ (eat of its fruit when it bears fruit). The hint given is that the purpose of the Creator in creating this diverse array of fruits is not to fulfill any of His need. These have been created for their benefit. Therefore, they were welcome to eat and enjoy them. By adding: إِذَا أَثْمَرَ‌ (idha. athmara : when it bears fruit), it was pointed out that making the fruits come out of the branches of the tree was a job beyond them. However, when those fruits form and grow full with the permission of Allah, they become en-titled to eat them at that time, whether not ripe yet.

The 'Ushr of Land

The second injunction given in this verse is: وَآتُوا حَقَّهُ يَوْمَ حَصَادِهِ (and pay its due on the day of its harvest). The word: اتوا (atu) means ` bring' or ` pay'; and: حَصَادِهِ (hasad) refers to the ` harvesting of crops' or ` picking of fruits.' And the pronoun in: حَقَّهُ (haqqahu : its due) applies to everything edible mentioned above. The sense of the verse is: Eat, drink and use these things, but remember to pay its due at the time of harvesting the crops or picking the fruit. ` Haqq' or ` due' denotes giving it as sadaqah or charity to the poor and needy - as it appears in another verse in the form of a general rule:

وَالَّذِينَ فِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ مَّعْلُومٌ ﴿24﴾ لِّلسَّائِلِ وَالْمَحْرُ‌ومِ ﴿25﴾

And in the properties of righteous people, there is a due right of the poor and needy - the asking and the non-asking - 70:24.

Is this sadaqah referred to here means common charities known as Sadaqah and Khayrat, or the particular sadaqah known as ` the Zakah of the land' or ` Ushr? There are two sayings of authorities among Sahabah and Tabi` in in this matter. Some among them have favoured the first possibility. The reason given by them is that this verse is Makki and the obligation of Zakah came into force two years after the Hijrah to Madina al-Tayyibah. Therefore, ` haqq' at this place cannot apply to the ` haqq' of the Zakah of land. Some others among them have counted this verse as one of the Madani verses and, according to them, ` haqqah u' refers to the Zakah of the land which is ` Ushr.

Tafsir authority, Ibn Kathir, in his Tafsir and Ibn al-Arabi in Ahkam al-Qur'an have resolved this by saying that, whether the verse is Makki or Madani, in both events, the verse could mean the Zakah of land, that is, ` Ushr - because, according to them, the initial injunction making Zakah obligatory had already been revealed in Makkah. The verse of Surah Al-Muzzammil which contains the injunction of Zakah is Makki by consensus. However, the rate and threshold (nisab) of Zakah was determined after the Hijrah. The present verse only tells us that Allah has made a due payable on the produce of the land. Its quantity has not been determined here. Therefore, as far as the quantity is concerned, this verse is brief. The conditions in Makkah al-Mu` azzamah were different. The determination of this quantity was not needed there because Muslims did not have the assurance of acquiring the produce of their lands and fruit farms conveniently and in peace. So, during those days, the practice was no different that it used to be among people of charitable background who would give out part of their produce to the poor and needy who would gather around at the time of harvesting crops or picking fruits. No quantity was fixed for that purpose. That there was, even before Islam, the custom of such charitable giving from the land produce among other communities as well is mentioned in a verse of the Qur'an: إِنَّا بَلَوْنَاهُمْ كَمَا بَلَوْنَا أَصْحَابَ الْجَنَّةِ (Verily We have tried them as We tried the People Of the Garden, when they resolved to gather the fruits of the [ garden ] in the morning - 68:17 - AYA). It was two year after the Hijrah, when the Holy Prophet explained the details of the quantities and thresholds of wealth, property and Zakah under the guidance of Divine revelation, he also explained the Zakah of the land. This has been reported in all Hadith books on the authority of narrationsmmmm35 from Sayyidna Mu` adh ibn Jabal, Sayyidna Ibn ` Umar and Jabir ibn ` Abdullah (رضی اللہ تعالیٰ عنہم): مَا سَقَتِ السَّمَآُء فَفِیہِ العُشرُ وَ مَا سُقِیَ بِالسَّانِیَۃِ فَنِصفُ العُشرِ. It means ` in the lands watered by rains where not much effort is needed for irrigation, it is wajib to take out one-tenth of the produce as Zakah - and against lands which are irrigated with water from wells taking out one-twentieth of the produce is wajib (obligatory).

In its Law of Zakah, the Shari` ah of Islam has used a basic principle in determining Zakah of all kinds. According to this principle, the quantity of Zakah on a produce involving less labour and expenditure increases while, with the increase in the labour and expenditure on a produce, the quantity of Zakah decreases in that proportion. Let us un-derstand it with the help of an example. If someone finds an ancient treasure, or hits on a gold or silver mine while prospecting, then, one-fifth of it will be due on him as Zakah - because the labour and expenditure factor is less while the produce is more. After that comes rain-depending land which has the lowest ratio of labour and expenditure. The Zakah for it was cut into half, that is, from one-fifth to one-tenth. After that there is the land irrigated with water from wells, or from irrigation canals against payment. This causes an increase in labour and expenditure, so Zakah against it was reduced by another half, that is, one-twentieth. Then, there is common cash, gold or silver, and trading goods. Procuring and multiplying these cost a good deal and need added labour. Therefore, the Zakah for it was reduced by yet another half, that is, it was fixed at one-fortieth part.

In the present verse of the Qur'an, and in the Hadith quoted above, no Nisab (threshold) for the produce of the land has been determined. Therefore, the juristic creed (Madhab) of Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal is: On the produce of the land, whether less or more, taking out its Zakah is compulsory. There is a verse in Surah al-Baqarah which mentions the Zakah of land. But, there too, no Nisab (threshold) has been mentioned. Quoted below is the text of that verse:

أَنفِقُوا مِن طَيِّبَاتِ مَا كَسَبْتُمْ وَمِمَّا أَخْرَ‌جْنَا لَكُم مِّنَ الْأَرْ‌ضِ

0 those who believe, spend of the good things you have earned and of what We have brought forth for you from the earth - 2:267.

[ Comments on ` Ushr lands also appear under the verse quoted immediately above in Ma` ariful-Qur'an, English; Volume I, page 659]

As for trading goods and cattle, the Nisab (threshold) was given by the Holy Prophet ﷺ whereby there is no Zakah under 52-1/2 tola of silver (1 tola = 0.41 ounces = 11.6363 g) or under forty goats or five camels. But, no Nisab has been determined concerning the produce of land in the Hadith cited above, therefore, it is Wajib to take out Zak ii of the land whether the produce is more or less, big or small.

At the end of the verse (141) it was said: وَلَا تُسْرِ‌فُوا ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِ‌فِين is That is, do not spend beyond limits because Allah Ta` ala does not like wasteful spenders. A question arises here. In case a person spends everything he has in the way of Allah, his wealth, even his life, this cannot be called ` Israf (extravagance). In fact, it would be difficult to say that, even by having done all that, one can be sure that he or she has done what was really the due of Allah! Then, what does this prohibition of ` Israf or extravagance at this place really mean? The answer is that extravagance in one department of life usually causes shortfall, short-coming or deficiency in other departments. One who spends extravagantly to fulfill his desires generally ends up failing in his duty to fulfill the due rights of others. Prohibited here is this kind of shortcoming. It means that should a person give away whatever he has in the way of Allah and return wits empty hands, how is he going to fulfill the rights of his children, family and relatives, even those of his own self? Therefore, the rule of guidance given is that one should observe moderation even when spending in the way of Allah so that all due rights can be taken care of.