“O You Wrapped in Garments”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Allah begins surah al-Muzzammil by addressing the Prophet, saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُ * قُمِ  اللَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

O you wrapped in garments! * Stand to prayer for the night, except for a little. [73:1-2]

In part of his commentary on this, Imam al-Qurtubi mentioned the following:

وفي خطابه بهذا الاسم فائدتان

There are two points of benefit related to Allah addressing the Prophet with this name:

إحداهما الملاطفة ; فإن العرب إذا قصدت ملاطفة المخاطب وترك المعاتبة سموه باسم مشتق من حالته التي هو عليها ; كقول النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – لعلي حين غاضب فاطمة – رضي الله عنهما – ، فأتاه وهو نائم وقد لصق بجنبه التراب فقال له : ” قم يا أبا تراب ” إشعارا له أنه غير عاتب عليه ، وملاطفة له . وكذلك قوله – عليه السلام – لحذيفة : ” قم يا نومان ” وكان نائما ملاطفة له ، وإشعارا لترك العتب والتأنيب . فقول الله تعالى لمحمد – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : يا أيها المزمل قم فيه تأنيس وملاطفة ; ليستشعر أنه غير عاتب عليه . ـ

First: It is a form of kindness. When the Arabs want to express kindness towards the one they are addressing and to avoid any sign of admonishment, they call the person by a name related to whatever condition that person is currently in.

Take for example the Prophet’s statement to ‘Ali when ‘Ali had gotten upset with Fatimah and the Prophet came to him while he was sleeping and his side and had become covered with dirt and he said, “Get up, Abu Turab [lit. father of dirt]!” This was a way of showing him that he was not reprimanding him and instead showing kindness to him.

Likewise with the Prophet’s statement to Hudhayfah, “Get up, sleeper!” when he was sleeping. This was a way of addressing him kindly and showing that he was not reprimanding or scolding him.

So Allah’s statement to Muhammad

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُ * قُمِ

O you wrapped in garments! * Stand …

is a warm and kind address, so that he would understand that this was not a reprimand.

والفائدة الثانية : التنبيه لكل متزمل راقد ليله ليتنبه إلى قيام الليل وذكر الله تعالى فيه ; لأن الاسم المشتق من الفعل يشترك فيه مع المخاطب كل من عمل ذلك العمل واتصف بتلك الصفة . ـ

Second: It serves to grab the attention of anyone who had wrapped himself up in blankets and is sleeping his night away to give importance and attention to getting up for the night prayer and remembering Allah. That is because this title is related to an action which is done by both the person who this speech was originally directed to and anyone who does this action and can be describe by this description.

[Jaami’ li-Ahkam al-Qur’an 19/31-32]

See also: Allah’s commendations for those who pray during the night

See also: ‘Ibad al-Rahman Part 2 – Steadfast Observance of Prayer: ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Badr

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