Fear the Fire Whose Fuel is Men and Stones: Tafsir al-Baghawi & Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In the beginning of surah al-Baqarah, Allah challenges the disbelievers that if they doubt the authenticity of the Qur’an to produce a single surah like it. He then follows this up by saying:

فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَلَن تَفْعَلُوا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ ۖ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ

But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers. [2:24]

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Baghawi wrote:

ـ ( التي وقودها الناس والحجارة ) قال ابن عباس وأكثر المفسرين يعني حجارة الكبريت لأنها أكثر التهابا وقيل جميع الحجارة وهو دليل على عظمة تلك النار وقيل أراد بها الأصنام لأن أكثر أصنامهم كانت منحوتة من الحجارة كما قال ” إنكم وما تعبدون من دون الله حصب جهنم ” ( 98 – الأنبياء ) . ـ

 الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ

… whose fuel is men and stones

ibn ‘Abbaas and the majority of the mufassiroon have said that ‘stones‘ here means sulfur because sulfur is very prone to igniting and burning.

It is also said that it is referring to all kinds of stones and that this demonstrates the severity and intensity of this fire.

And it is also said that what is intended by ‘stones‘ here are idols because most of their idols used to be statues made of stone. This is like what Allah said:

إِنَّكُمْ وَمَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ حَصَبُ جَهَنَّمَ

You and what you worship other than Allah are the fuel of the Hell-fire [21: 98]

[Tafsir al-Baghawi 1/74]

Imam al-Qurtubi also mentioned these explanations in further detail and with some slightly different wordings which further clarify the meaning:

والناس عموم ، ومعناه الخصوص فيمن سبق عليه القضاء أنه يكون حطبا لها ، أجارنا الله منها . والحجارة هي حجارة الكبريت الأسود – عن ابن مسعود والفراء – وخصت بذلك لأنها تزيد على جميع الأحجار بخمسة أنواع من العذاب : سرعة الاتقاد ، نتن الرائحة ، كثرة الدخان ، شدة الالتصاق بالأبدان ، قوة حرها إذا حميت . ـ

The word “men” here is left general here, however its meaning is specific to those for whom the verdict has been made that they would be fuel for the fire – may Allah protect us from that.

And the word “stones” here refers to stones of sulfur. This is according to ibn Mas’ood and al-Firaa’. This type of stone was specified because they add five distinct types of punishment beyond any other types of stones:

  1. they are quick to catch fire
  2. they have a rotten smell
  3. they produce a lot of smoke
  4. when heated, it will stick to one’s body very tenaciously
  5. their extreme heat when kindled

وليس في قوله تعالى : وقودها الناس والحجارة دليل على أن ليس فيها غير الناس والحجارة ، بدليل ما ذكره في غير موضع من كون الجن والشياطين فيها . ـ

And there is no evidence contained in Allah’s statement

 وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ

… whose fuel is men and stones

for the position that the only things in the Hellfire are men and stones, as is shown by Allah’s informing us in multiple places that Jinn and Shayaateen will also be present in the Hellfire.

وقيل : المراد بالحجارة الأصنام ، لقوله تعالى : إنكم وما تعبدون من دون الله حصب جهنم أي حطب جهنم . وعليه فتكون الحجارة والناس وقودا للنار وذكر ذلك تعظيما للنار أنها تحرق الحجارة مع إحراقها للناس . وعلى التأويل الأول يكونون معذبين بالنار والحجارة ـ

But some say that the intended meaning of “stones” here are idols, according to Allah’s statement:

إِنَّكُمْ وَمَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ حَصَبُ جَهَنَّمَ

You and what you worship other than Allah are the firewood of the Hellfire [21: 98]

So according to this interpretation, then the stones and men are both the fuel for the Hellfire, and therefore the stones are mentioned to demonstrate the severity of the Hellfire, since it can incinerate stones in addition to burning people. While according to the first interpretation, the people will be punished both by the fire and by the stones.

[Tafsir al-Qurtubi 1/225]

See also: Remaining eternally in the Hell-fire and its causes: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Protect yourselves and your families from a fire: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

See also: Did Fir’awn claim divinity, or worship other gods?: al-Shawkaani, al-Qurtubi, & al-Baghawi

4 thoughts on “Fear the Fire Whose Fuel is Men and Stones: Tafsir al-Baghawi & Tafsir al-Qurtubi

  1. Pingback: Protect yourselves and your families from a fire: Tafsir al-Qurtubi | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: ‘Ibad al-Rahman Part 3 – Fear of the Hellfire: ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Badr | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 21-29: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar | Tulayhah

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