In the Shade of the Quran (part 30)

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  • In the Shade of the Quran (part 30)

  • Surah 106 Quraish

    In the name of Allah, the Beneficient, the Merciful!


    For the tradition of Quraish, their tradition of traveling in winter and summer. Let them worship the Lord of this House, Who provided them with food lest they should go hungry, and with security lest they should fear.



    When Abraham, the friend (khalil) of Allah, completed the building of the house of worship (the Ka'ba) and had purified it he turned to Allah with the following prayer: Lord, make this a city of peace and sustain its inhabitants with the fruits (of the earth). (Al-Qur'an 2:126)

    So Allah made that House one of peace; He made it free from all human authority and free from all tyranny. He granted security and peace to anyone seeking shelter in that House, while fear was all around it. Even when the people transgressed, ascribed Divinity to beings other than Allah and worshipped idols, there was peace and security; for Allah had designed a purpose for this sacred House.

    When the people of the Elephant marched to destroy the House, there happened to them what is described in the preceding surah, "The Elephant". Allah preserved for the House its peace, security and sacredness. Of those who lived around it, Allah says: "Do they not then see that We have made a secure Sanctuary, and that men are being snatched away from all around them?" (Al-Qur'an 29:67)

    The Elephant incident had an added effect in greatly enhancing the sanctity of the House amongst the Arabs all over the Arabian peninsula. It also strengthened the position of the Quraish, the custodians of the House, in all Arabia. They were thus able to travel far and wide in peace and security. Wherever they went they met with generosity and high esteem. This encouraged them to establish two great routes for their commercial caravans, to the Yemen in the south and to Syria in the north. They organised two enormous trading expeditions; one to the Yemen in the winter and the other to Syria in the summer.

    In spite of very poor conditions of security in all parts of the Arabian peninsula at the time, and in spite of all the looting and plundering raids that were very common in that land, the sanctity of the House in the eyes of all Arabs guaranteed security and peace in their flourishing business to those who lived near it and were its custodians. It created for the Quraish a distinct and exclusive position and opened up to them extensive and guaranteed means of sustenance in peace, security and contentment. The Quraish became accustomed to these two profitable and peaceful trips, which were soon established among their traditional habits.

    This is the specific grace of which Allah reminds the Quraish, as He had reminded them of the Elephant incident in the previous surah. It is the grace of their being accustomed to the trips of winter and summer, and the abundance with which He endowed them in these two fruitful journeys. It is by the grace of Allah that while their land is desolate and dry, they still live a comfortable life. Out of His grace He secured them from fear whether in their hearths and homes, next to Allah's house, or in their trips and journeys. Their security is the result of their being the custodians of the House, the sanctity of which is ordained and preserved by Allah against any violation.

    Allah reminds them of these graces in order that they may be ashamed of their submission to other beings, while He is the Lord of the House. Allah says to them in effect: for this tradition of Quraish, namely their trips of winter and summer, let them submit to the Lord of this House Who guaranteed their security and so encouraged them to take such beneficial trips. "Let them worship the Lord of this House, Who provides them with food lest they should go hungry." As their land is infertile, they would have starved had it not been for the sustenance supplied to them by Allah. "And with security lest they should live in fear." Poor as they are, and living in an insecure surroundings, their life would have been one of fear and apprehension. But Allah granted them security and allayed their fear. And this is a reminder which generates and leaves a deep shame in the hearts of the Quraish, who were not unaware of the great value of the House and the effect of its sanctity on their lives. At the moment of danger and difficulty, the Quraish used to appeal only to the Lord of that House and seek only His help. This was the case with Abdulmuttalib' who did not confront Abrahah with any army or physical strength. Instead Abdulmuttalib addressed himself only to the Lord of the House, because He was the only one who could protect His House. Abdulmuttalib did not appeal to any of the idols or graven images for any help. He did not even say to Abrahah that these "gods" will protect their House. He only said to him, I am only the master of the camels, but the House has its own Lord who is sure to protect it.

    But Ignorance does not listen to any logic, or acknowledge what is right, or accept any reasonable argument.

    This surah seems to be an extension of the preceding one, "The Elephant," with regard to its subject matter and general tone. Nevertheless, it is an independent surah with the usual beginning of the Qur'anic surahs, namely, "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful" Authorities state that nine surahs were revealed between the revelation of surah "The Elephant" and surah "Quraish", but these two were put next to each other in the Qur'an because of their close similarity of subject.

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