2 Stunning Short Surahs, Humazah and Kafirun

Surah Al Humazah

Surat al Humaza starts off with
بِسمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحيمِ
وَيلٌ لِكُلِّ هُمَزَةٍ لُمَزَةٍ

waylun likulli humazatin lumazah

Doomed is every person who slanders and backbites others

This verse starts off with a harsh tone and threatening nature. The word “wayl” means someone is doomed and destruction is awaiting them.

Who are the ones awaiting destruction?

Every Humazah and lumazah.

There are many interpretations of these two words but it is commonly known that the word humazah originally means to break, and since slanderers break the personality of others they are called humazah.

A slanderer is one that defames another person and spreads false rumors to damage a person’s reputation. And the word lumazah refers to someone who backbites or defames someone.

This sort of behavior often comes from arrogance and pride caused by wealth, that’s why it says in the next verse :
الَّذي جَمَعَ مالًا وَعَدَّدَهُ

alladhī jamaʿa mālan waʿaddadah

The one who gathers wealth and hoards it

These people gather as much wealth as possible, counting it over and over again, hoarding it as if they worship it, and locking it away in storage.

There is no limit; they never get satisfied with how much wealth they have, even though they don’t need it, they want more and more.

And they will do anything to get it, whether lawful or unlawful.

The next verse says:
يَحسَبُ أَنَّ مالَهُ أَخلَدَهُ

yaḥsabu anna mālahu akhladah
They think that their wealth will make them immortal.

They collect so much wealth nonstop and hoard it and collect and hoard and collect.

They actually believe that no sickness or difficulties will come their way that they will live forever and that wealth can solve any problem.

The next verse says:
كَلّا لَيُنبَذَنَّ فِي الحُطَمَةِ
kallā la yunbadhanna fīl-ḥuṭamah

By no means! They will be thrown into the hutamah

Allah is saying BY NO MEANS, they are not immortal and their wealth will not benefit them.

The word layunbadhana means to throw, but not just to throw just like that.

It is something thrown that is insignificant and of no value.

The same way these people slandered others and considered them of no value, they will also be thrown into the hutamah as if they were nothing.

So what is this hutamah, the next verse says
وَما أَدراكَ مَا الحُطَمَةُ

wamā adrāka māl-ḥuṭamah
And how would you know what al hutamah is?

The word hutamah means to break into pieces. So what is this thing that breaks you into pieces?

The next verse explains:

نارُ اللَّهِ الموقَدَةُ

It is the fire of Allah (eternally) lit
After they are thrown away, this fire is what will break them into pieces. This is not a fire like this world’s fire.

It is narullah. Meaning a divine fire. The fire of Allah

The next verse will explain more:
الَّتي تَطَّلِعُ عَلَى الأَفئِدَة
allatī taṭṭaliʿu ʿalāl-afidah

The fire that will rise into the hearts

This fire does not necessarily mean it will burn your physical heart.

It will burn your heart of understanding and consciousness, your feelings, desires, beliefs and thoughts, motives and intentions.

The hearts that carried arrogance, greed, pride, slander, and those evil characteristics will be burnt.

In the same way these people burnt the hearts of the believers with their slander, insults, and backbitingthey will receive punishment according to their deeds.

The next verse says:
إِنَّها عَلَيهِم مُؤصَدَةٌ

innahā ʿalayhim mu’ṣadah
it will indeed be closed (firmly) over them.

Mu’sadah means that all the doors will be closed firmly and locked.

In the same way they were hoarding their wealth and locking them in storage, the doors of the fire will also be locked with no escape.

The next verse says:
في عَمَدٍ مُمَدَّدَةٍ

fī ʿamadin mumaddadah
In columns stretched out

Some have said that this verse refers to the doors of the fire and they are so stretched out that they cannot escape from any side. Some have said the fire itself will be raised high as stretched columns.

This verse also indicates that the fire burns the conscious mind stretching so deep that one cannot escape it.

So the surah exposes a mean type of person who slanders, backbites, insults and defames others.

The one who collects wealth with pride and arrogance and uses it wrongfully. They hoard it or use it to block others from the truth.

This wealth gives them a false feeling of power and pride believing that they can do whatever they want without being accountable. They think their wealth is so great that they challenge death and think they are immortal. In order to purify them from these qualities, they need to be thrown away in the hutamah.

A fire that crushes the conscious mind and gets rid these bad qualities.

What we can learn from this surah is those certain people when they reach some sort of status in their material life; acquire some bad qualities such as arrogance, pride, greed, and so on.

These qualities lead to ignorance of the blessings of Allah which also lead to disrespect, backbiting, and slander of others.

We should never let our position in society or the amount of wealth we have dictate our character and values.

Never look down on people and never feel you are above anyone. And by being sincere to Allah and not exceeding the boundaries He has set, if Allah wills, we will be protected from the hutamah.

Surah Al Kafirun

Once there came a group of idol worshippers  to Prophet Muhammad (s) and they said to him,  

Follow our belief and we will follow yours and we will let you enjoy all our privileges. 
For one year you should worship our gods and the next year we will worship your God. If your belief is better we will join you, and if our belief is better you will join with us.

The Prophet (s) replied. A‘uudhu billah-  

I seek protection from Allah
They said: “You can touch some of our gods, at least, and take a good omen from them. If you do 
this, we will confirm you and worship your God”. 

Then Surat al Kafirun was revealed
Bismillāhir Raḥmānir Raḥīm بِسمِ  

اللَّهِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحيمِ
قُل يا أَيُّهَا الكافِرونَ 

qul yā ayyuhal-kāfirūn
Say : O disbelievers! 

The word kafir originally means when you cover something, when a farmer sows seeds, he covers them with soil. The farmer is called a kafir because he covered the seed. These idol worshippers are also called kafir because they are covering the truth. They knew that the prophet (s) never told a lie, they knew he always told the truth. But they denied it and covered the truth. Therefore they are kaffirs.

The next verse says: 

لا أَعبُدُ ما تَعبُدونَ
lā aʿbudu mā taʿbudūn 

I do not worship what you worship

These disbelievers were worshipping many idols and statues that they made themselves. The prophet 
here is telling them I will not worship what you worship. Question? Does the holy Quran say that if you ask them who created the skies and the earth?  

They would surely say Allah. (31:25)
وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُم مَّنْ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّه
So if these idol worshippers believe in Allah, why is the prophet saying I do not worship what you worship? The difference here is that the idol worshippers believed that Allah is the Creator 
but did not worship Him. The Prophet also believes Allah is the Creator but also worships Him.

The next verse says: 

وَلا أَنتُم عابِدونَ ما أَعبُدُ

walā antum ʿābidūna mā aʿbud 

Nor do you worship who I worship

Some of these idol worshippers actually believed they are worshipping Allah but the prophet is telling them they don’t worship what he worships.  

The prophet worships Allah who is free from any imperfections or faults and he does not associate partners with Allah. They worshipped idols made from wood and stone with all imperfections and they associated them as partners to Allah.

The next verse says 

وَلا أَنا عابِدٌ ما عَبَدتُم

walā anā ʿābidun mā ʿabattum 

Nor will I (ever) worship what you worship 

The prophet emphasizes that he will never worship what they worship, not even in the future

Then the next verse says 

وَلا أَنتُم عابِدونَ ما أَعبُدُ

walā antum ʿābidūna mā aʿbud 

Nor will you (ever) worship who I worship 

Why is this verse repeated again here? Some have said this could be emphasizing that these specific idol worshippers will never – ever worship who the Prophet worships, not now and not in the future. 

Some have also said that because of their stubbornness they asked the Prophet twice to worship their god for a year and they will worship his god for a year, so this verse is repeated twice to reject both times.
The next verse says 

لَكُم دينُكُم وَلِيَ دينِ

lakum dīnukum waliya dīn 

To you (belongs) your religion and to me is my religion. 

The word deen comes from the word “dayn” which means a loan. Something that is owed to you or something that you owe someone is called dayn, like an exchange. When we do righteous deeds we await a reward and exchange from Allah. 

The verse indicates, let your idols reward you for the exchange of your deeds. And let my God reward me in exchange for my deeds.

So this surah is telling us that the Holy Prophet(PBUH) did not accept idol worship or any type of polytheism at all. And never will he accept it at all in the future. It also shows that these idol worshippers will also not accept the Religion of Allah. This could be because they covered the truth and were blinded by desires hence why they were called al kafirin – the coverers of the truth. It shows that the Prophet had a firm stance without compromising even a little by worshipping the one God and that monotheism is totally separate and distinct from polytheism. 

What we can learn from this surah is that there cannot be any compromise in the matters of faith and worship. Truth and falsehood cannot be mixed together. 

When we reject idol worship, this doesn’t only mean physical idols, it also indicates reject worshipping ourselves or our desires as idols. 
Just as the Quran says (45:23). Have you seen he who has taken as his god his [own] desire…. 
أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ 

These desires of lust, envy, lying, cheating, stealing that you have, become your own god even though you knew they are wrong. No, you covered the truth, you have entered the state of kufr;  

So, Allah continues in the verse and says and Allah has sent him astray, knowing him as such, and has set the seal upon his hearing and his heart and put over his vision a veil? So who will guide him after Allah? Then will you not be reminded? 

Check other tafsir of short surahs from the Quran

Learn various facts about the Quran

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