MAGAZINE: EDITION FEBRUARY 2020
The Holy Qur'an

At-Tafsīr-ul-Kabīr: The Grand Exegesis

At tafsir Ul Kabir
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The Review of Religions is pleased to continue our serialisation of the first-ever full English Translation of At-Tafsīr-ul-Kabīr – The Grand Exegesis. This is the magnum opus of Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), Second Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and whilst parts of it have previously been published in other works, such as the five-volume Holy Qur’an with English Translation and Commentary, it has never before been translated in its entirety.

This is one of the most insightful and in-depth commentaries of the Holy Qur’an ever written, and The Review of Religions has the honour to publish it for our English readers for the first time.

Translated by Murtaza Ahmad

Edited by The Review of Religions Translation Team


مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

Master of the Time of Judgement (5)

(5) Key Word Analysis

(مالك mālik)

 مَلَك malak, مَلِك malik and مالِك mālik are three similar words. Mālik means the one who rightfully owns a thing or who wields rightful authority over it; malak means angel and malik means a king, i.e., the one who exercises political authority.

(يَوْم yawm)

This means absolute time. The Noble Qur’an says:

وَإِنَّ يَوْمًا عِنْدَ رَبِّكَ كَأَلْفِ سَنَةٍ مِمَّا تَعُدُّونَ

That is, some days of God Almighty are one thousand years long[1]. A poet says:

يوماه يومُ نَدًى ويومُ طِعانِ

‘The one whom I praise only spends his time in two ways: either he is being generous to others, or he is killing his enemies.[2]

Likewise, the Arabs say:

يوما يوم نُعْمٍ ويومُ بُؤس اي الدهر

i.e., time has only two possibilities: either it bestows favors on man, or it brings him trouble. Similarly, Sībawayh asserts that the Arabs say:

أنا اليوم أفعل كذا لا يريدون يوما بعينه ولكنهم يريدون الوقت الحاضر[3]

i.e., when an Arab says, ‘I’ll do this today’, by ‘today’ they do not mean the twenty-four-hour day, but rather the present time. Likewise, the Qur’anic verse

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ[4]

does not refer to a particular day; rather, it refers to an era and time. Then it is written,

وقد يراد باليوم الوقت مطلقا، ومنه الحديث: تلك أيام الهرج أي وقته[5]

That is to say, at times yawm may refer to time absolutely as it in the hadith: ‘These are the days of evil and war.’ Which indicates that this is the era of evil and war.

(الدِّين ad-Dīn)

[ad-Dīn has the following connotations]

 الجزاء والمكافأة (al Jazaa wal Mukaafaat) – reward;

 الطاعة (at-Taa’at) – obedience;

 الحساب (al-Hisaab) – reckoning;

 القهر؛ الغلبة؛ الاستعلاء؛ – (al-Qahr) dominance;

 والسلطان؛ والملك الحكم – (al-Hukm wal Mulk was Sultan) authority;

 السيرة – (as-Seerat) disposition;

 التدبير – (at-Tadbeer) the management and regulation of affairs;

اسم لجميع ما يُعبد به الله – dīn also refers to all the ways in which Allah the Exalted is worshipped, that is, sharī‘ah.

Further connotations of ad-Dīn are:

 الملة – religion;

 الورع – piety;

 المعصية – disobedience;

 الحال – a state;

 القضاء – a verdict;

 العادة – custom;

الشأن  – a particular state.[6]

Exegesis

Thus, the verse means that Allah the Almighty is the Master of the time of reward and punishment; He is the Master of the time of [the promulgation of] the Sharī‘ah; He is the Master of the time of Judgement; He is the Master of the age of religion; He is the Master of the age of virtue; He is the Master of the times of sin; He is the Master of the time of reckoning; He is the Master of the time of obedience; He is the Master of the time of victory and He is the Master of special and important conditions. Usually, this [verse] is taken to mean the Master of the Day of Resurrection. However, as is evident from the lexicons, these are only explanatory meanings, and not literal. One meaning of dīn is reward and punishment. As the perfect manifestation of reward and punishment will take place on the Day of Resurrection, the Qur’anic commentators have, on the basis of the meaning of reward and punishment, interpreted this verse to mean ‘The Master of the Day of Resurrection’, even though, according to the dictionaries, this verse has various meanings and all are correct and in accord with Qur’anic meanings. Thus, there is no reason to accept one meaning and reject the others.

As mentioned above, the Qur’anic commentators interpret this [verse] to mean that Allah the Almighty is the Master of the time of reward and punishment. On the basis of these meanings, one explanation of this verse will be that Allah the Almighty is the Master of the Day of Resurrection. That is to say that, on that day, no one else will be authorized to reward or punish, but, rather, Allah the Almighty alone will reward and punish. In this way, the difference between the outcomes of this world and those of the next is spelled out – that is, in this world, reward and punishment for one’s deeds can also be meted out by man, but and it is possible for them to make mistakes. However, on the Day of Resurrection, Allah the Almighty alone will reward and punish and it will be impossible for anyone to be treated unjustly or for an innocent person to be [unjustly] punished or to be issued a punishment out of proportion of his or her crime. Likewise, it will be impossible for an offender to escape from punishment by resorting to lies and deception.

Moreover, it has also been indicated here that during the time of reward and punishment, Allah the Almighty will not only act as a malik [king] but also as a mālik [master]. When a malik i.e. a king renders judgement, his duty is to ensure justice is carried out, because the facts upon which he makes his verdict are related to the rights of the plaintiff and the defendant. Therefore, he does not have the jurisdiction to forgive anybody; however, since Allah the Exalted is not only the King but is also the Master, He has the right to forgive as much as He likes. On the one hand, an important aspect of hope has been given and saved people from despair. On the other hand, they have also been warned that the thought of taking unfair advantage of God’s mercy should not enter their hearts. For if He, in the capacity of being mālik, can be Merciful, then He also cannot tolerate that His creation be impious. Thus, by arousing equally the feelings of hope and fear, an effort has been made for man to remain mindful and possess a firm resolve. This teaching is in contrast to the Christian concept of salvation. On the one hand they present an incorrect concept of justice, which kills all sense of hope. While on the other hand, by proposing the doctrine of atonement, they have made people unashamed to commit sin. In other words, both aspects of Christian belief have supported immorality as opposed to piety. Extreme despair and extreme hope both lead to sin. Some people, having lost hope in piety, will stop doing good, while others, trusting in atonement will become emboldened in committing sin.


[1] The Holy Qur’an, 22:48.

[2] Ibn Manẓūr. 1956. Lisān al-‘arab. Beirut: Dār Ṣādir. Vol. 12. p. 650.

[3] Ibn Manẓūr. 1956. Lisān al-‘arab. Beirut: Dār Ṣādir. Vol. 12. p. 650.

[4] The Holy Qur’an, 5:4.

[5] Ibn Manẓūr. 1956. Lisān al-‘arab. Beirut: Dār Ṣādir. Vol. 12. p. 650.

[6] Ash-Sharṭūnī, Sa‘īd al-Khūrī. 1983. Aqrab al-mawārid. Qom: Maktabat Āyat Allāh al-‘Uzmā al-Mar‘ashī an-Najafī. p. 362.

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