Reconciling Differing Reports About Whether a Surah is Makki or Madani

While most surahs of the Qur’an are unanimously categorized as either Makki or Madani, there have been differing reports and opinions about the proper classification of a small group of twelve surahs. Some of these differences stem from differences in terminology, instances of repeated revelation, Madani ayaat being included in an otherwise Makki surah, or other reasons. In the article below, sheikh Muhammad al-Tahir ibn ‘Aashoor discusses the differing classifications of surah al-Mutaffifeen (83) and demonstrates how to understand the differing reports and come to a conclusion. Being one of the famous mufassiroon of recent centuries, Ibn ‘Aashoor (d. 1393AH/1973CE) had the benefit of drawing on the wealth of tafsir literature before him, as is evident in this passage and his entire book:

وقد اختلف في كونها مكية أو مدنية أو بعضها مكي وبعضها مدني . فعن ابن مسعود والضحاك ومقاتل في رواية عنه : أنها مكية ، وعن ابن عباس في الأصح عنه وعكرمة والحسن والسدي ومقاتل في رواية أخرى عنه : أنها مدنية ، قال : وهي أول سورة نزلت بالمدينة ، وعن ابن عباس في رواية عنه وقتادة : هي مدنية إلا ثماني آيات من آخرها من قوله : إن الذين أجرموا إلى آخرها . ـ

The scholars have differed as to whether surah al-Mutaffifeen (83) is

a. Makki
b. Madani
c. Part Makki and part Madani

It has been relayed that ibn Mas’ood, al-Dhahhaak and in one narration Muqatil held it to be Makki, while it is transmitted from ibn ‘Abbaas according to the most authentic narration from him,’Ikrimah, al-Hasan, al-Suddi and Muqatil in a different narration that they held it to be Madani. And Muqatil said, “It was the first surah to be revealed in al-Madinah.” It has also been relayed in one narration from ibn ‘Abbaas as well as from Qatadah that it is a Madani surah except for the last eight ayaat beginning from Allah’s statement: Continue reading

The disbelievers are not sent as keepers over the believers: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah al-Mutaffifeen, Allah gives a word of caution and comfort to His slaves when He says:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ أَجْرَ‌مُوا كَانُوا مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يَضْحَكُونَ ﴿٢٩﴾ وَإِذَا مَرُّ‌وا بِهِمْ يَتَغَامَزُونَ ﴿٣٠﴾ وَإِذَا انقَلَبُوا إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِمُ انقَلَبُوا فَكِهِينَ ﴿٣١﴾ وَإِذَا رَ‌أَوْهُمْ قَالُوا إِنَّ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ لَضَالُّونَ ﴿٣٢﴾ وَمَا أُرْ‌سِلُوا عَلَيْهِمْ حَافِظِينَ ﴿٣٣﴾ ـ

Indeed, those who committed crimes used to laugh at those who believed. And when they passed by them, they would exchange derisive glances. And when they returned to their people, they would return jesting. And when they saw them, they would say, “Indeed, those are truly misguided.” But they had not been sent as keepers over them. [83:29-33]

Imam ibn Kathir, in his famous book of tafsir, writes:

يخبر تعالى عن المجرمين أنهم كانوا في الدار الدنيا يضحكون من المؤمنين، أي: يستهزئون بهم ويحتقرونهم وإذا مروا بالمؤمنين يتغامزون عليهم، أي: محتقرين لهم، {وَإِذَا انْقَلَبُوا إِلَى أَهْلِهِمُ انْقَلَبُوا فَكِهِينَ} أي: إذا انقلب، أي: رجع هؤلاء المجرمون إلى منازلهم، انقلبوا إليها فاكهين، أي: مهما طلبوا وجدوا، ومع هذا ما شكروا نعمة الله عليهم، بل اشتغلوا بالقوم المؤمنين يحتقرونهم ويحسدونهم، {وَإِذَا رَأَوْهُمْ قَالُوا إِنَّ هَؤُلاءِ لَضَالُّون} أي: لكونهم على غير دينهم، قال الله تعالى: {وَمَا أُرْسِلُوا عَلَيْهِمْ حَافِظِين} أي: وما بُعث هؤلاء المجرمون حافظين على هؤلاء المؤمنين ما يصدر من أعمالهم وأقوالهم، ولا كلفوا بهم؟ فلم اشتغلوا بهم وجعلوهم نصب أعينهم، كما قال تعالى: {قَالَ اخْسَئُوا فِيهَا وَلا تُكَلِّمُونِ إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَرِيقٌ مِنْ عِبَادِي يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا آمَنَّا فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا وَأَنْتَ خَيْرُ الرَّاحِمِينَ فَاتَّخَذْتُمُوهُمْ سِخْرِيًّا حَتَّى أَنْسَوْكُمْ ذِكْرِي وَكُنْتُمْ مِنْهُمْ تَضْحَكُونَ إِنِّي جَزَيْتُهُمُ الْيَوْمَ بِمَا صَبَرُوا أَنَّهُمْ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ} [المؤمنون: 108- 111]. ـ

Allah informs us that the criminals are laughing at the believers in this life, meaning: they are mocking them and insulting them whenever they pass by the believers, and exchanging derisive glances, meaning reviling them. “And when they returned to their people, they would return jesting” – meaning: when they returned – meaning when these criminals returned to their dwelling places, the would return to them jesting – meaning regardless of what they found. Continue reading