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Surah Quraish

Ayat/pg: 5 | 10 | 15 | 20 | All

Maududi's Commentry (Tafseer) on Surah Quraish

Mecca Mecca (29)
4Total Ayat: 4
1Total Ruku: 1


The Surah has been so entitled after the word Quraish in the very firstverse.

Period of Revelation

Although Dahhak and Kalbi regard it as a Madani Surah, yet a greatmajority of the commentators are agreed that it is Makki, and amanifest evidence of this are the words Rabba hadh-al-Bait (Lord ofthis House) of this Surah itself. Had it been revealed at Madinah, thewords "this House" for the Ka'bah could not be relevant. Moreover, itssubject matter so closely relates to that of Surah Al-Fil that probablyit was revealed immediately after it, without any other Surahintervening between them. On the basis of this very relevance, some ofthe earliest scholars regard the two Surahs as one entity. This view isstrengthened by the traditions which say that in the Quran copybelonging to Hadrat Ubayy bin Ka'b these two were written as one Surah,i. e. without the insertion of the Bismillah between them. Furthermore,Hadrat Umar had once recited the two Surahs as one in the Prayer. Butthis view is not acceptable because in the Quran copy which HadratUthman (may Allah bless him) had got written down officially by thecooperation of a large number of the Companions and sent to thecenters of Islamic lands, the Bismillah was written between these twoSurahs, and since then these two have been written as separate Surahs inall the copies of the Quran everywhere in the world. Moreover, thestyle of the two Surahs is so different that they manifestly appear astwo separate Surahs.

Historical Background

To understand the Surah well it is essential that one should keep thehistorical background relevant to the contents of this Surah and ofSurah Al-Fil in view.

The tribe of Quraish was scattered throughout Hijazuntil the time of Qusayy bin Kilab, the ancestor of the Holy Prophet(upon whom be Allah's peace). First of all, Qusayy gathered it inMakkah and this tribe was able to gain authority over the Ka'bah. Onthat very basis Qusayy was called mujammi (uniter, assembler) by hispeople. This man by his sagacity and wisdom founded a city state inMakkah and made excellent arrangements for the welfare of the pilgrimscoming from all over Arabia, with the result that the Quraish were ableto gain great influence among the Arabian tribes and lands. AfterQusayy the offices of the state of Makkah were divided between hissons, Abdi Manaf and Abd ad-Dar, but of the two Abdi Manaf gainedgreater fame even during his father's lifetime and was held in highesteem throughout Arabia. Abdi Manaf had four sons: Hashim, Abdi Shams,Al-Muttalib, and Naufal. Of these Hashim, father of Abdul Muttalib andgrandfather of the Holy Prophet, first conceived the idea to take partin the trade that passed between the eastern countries and Syria andEgypt through Arabia, and also to purchase the necessities of life forthe Arabians so that the tribes living by the trade route bought thesefrom them and the merchants living in the interior of the country wereattracted to the,market of Makkah. This was the time when the Sasaniankingdom of Iran had captured the international trade that was carriedout between the northern lands and the eastern countries and Byzantineempire through the Persian Gulf. This had boosted up the tradeactivity on the trade route leading from southern Arabia to Syria andEgypt along the Red Sea coast. As against the other Arabian caravans,the Quraish had the advantage that the tribes on the route held them inhigh esteem on account off their being keepers of the Ka'bah. Theystood indebted to them for the great generosity with which theQuraish treated them in the Hajj season. That is why the Quraish felt nofear that their caravans would be robbed or harmed any where on theway. The tribes on the way did not even charge them the heavy transittaxes that they demanded from the other caravans. Hashim takingadvantage of this prepared the trade scheme and made his threebrothers partners in it. Thus, Hashim obtained trade privileges fromthe Ghassanide king of Syria, Abdi Shams from the Negus, Al-Muttalibfrom the Yamanite nobles and Naufal from the governments of Iraq andIran, and their trade began to flourish. That is how the four brothersbecame famous as traders and began to be called ashab al-ilaf(generators of love and affection) on account of their friendlyrelations with the tribes and states of the surrounding lands.

Becauseof their business relations with Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Yaman andAbyssinia, the Quraish came across such opportunities and their directcontact with the culture and civilization of different countries soenhanced the level of their knowledge and wisdom that no tribe inArabia could match and equal them. As regards wealth and worldly goodsthey became the most affluent tribe, and Makkah became the mostimportant commercial center of the Arabian peninsula. Another greatadvantage that accrued from these international relations was thatthey brought from Iraq tile script which later was used for writingdown the Quran. No other Arabian tribe could boast of so many literatepeople as Quraish. For these very reasons the Holy Prophet (upon whombe peace) said: "Quraish are the leaders of men." (Musnad Ahmad:Marwiyat Amr bin al As). And according to a tradition from Hadrat Aliin Baihaqi, the Holy Prophet said: "First the leadership of theArabians was in the hands of the people of Himyar, then Allah withdrewit from them and gave it to Quraish".

The Quraish were thus prosperingand flourishing when the event of Abrahah's invasion of Makkah tookplace. Had Abrahah at that time succeeded in taking this holy City anddestroying the Ka'bah, the glory and renown of not only the Quraish butof the Ka'bah itself, would have faded away, the belief of the pre-Islamic Arabia that the House indeed was Allah's House would have beenshattered, and the high esteem in which Quraish were held for beingkeepers of the House throughout the country would have been tarnished.Then, after the Abyssinian advance to Makkah, the Byzantium also wouldhave taken the initiative to gain control over the trade route betweenSyria and Makkah: and the Quraish would have been reduced to a plightworse than that in which they were involved before Qusayy bin Kilab.But when Allah showed this manifestation of His power that the swarmsof birds destroyed 60,000 Abyssinian troops brought by Abrahah bypelting then, with stones, and from Makkah to Yaman they went onfalling and dying by the wayside, the faith of the Arabs that theKa'bah indeed was Allah's House increased manifold, and the glory andrenown of Quraish too was enhanced considerably throughout the country.Now the Arabs were convinced that they were under Allah's specialfavor; therefore, they visited every part of Arabia fearlessly andpassed through every land with their trade caravans unharmed. No onecould dare touch them with an evil intention. Not to speak of touchingthem, even if they had a non-Quraishite under their protection, he toowas allowed to pass unharmed.

Theme and Substance

As all this was well known in the time of the Holy Prophet'sappointment to Prophethood, there was no need to mention them. That iswhy in the four brief sentences of this Surah, Quraish were simply askedto consider:"When you yourselves acknowledge this House (i. e. theKa'bah) to be Allah's House, and not of the idols, and when you fullywell know that it is Allah alone Who has granted you peace by virtueof this House, made your trade and commerce flourish and saving youfrom destitution favored you with prosperity you should then worshipand serve Him alone."

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100. Al-Adiyat
101. Al-Qari'a
102. At-Takathur
103. Al-Asr
104. Al-Humaza
105. Al-Fil
106. Quraish
107. Al-Ma'un
108. Al-Kauthar
109. Al-Kafirun
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111. Al-Lahab
112. Al-Ikhlaas
113. Al-Falaq
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