Tafsir of Surah al Humazah – The Slanderer (Surah 104)

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  1) Woe to every slandering traducer, 2) who has amassed wealth, counting it over, 3) thinking that his wealth will make him immortal. 4) No indeed! He will be flung into the Shatterer. 5) What will make you realise what the Shatterer is? 6) The fire of Allah, kindled (to a blaze), 7) which rages over the hearts (of people). 8) It closes in on them (from every side), 9) in towering columns. [Al Humazah (104)]

“Woe,” this is a threat of evil consequences and severe punishment “to every slandering traducer,” who defames people with his deeds and slanders them with his words. The hammaz is one who defames people by pointing and deed, and the lammaz is one who denigrates them with his words.[1] Amongst the descriptions of such a person is that he is one “who has amassed wealth, counting it over,” this being his only concern, he takes delight in it and he has no desire to purify it by spending it in ways of goodness, joining ties of kinship and so on. “Thinking,” in his ignorance “that his wealth will make him immortal,” in this world. It is for this reason that all his efforts and struggles are expended in increasing his wealth through which he believes that his lifespan will increase. He is not aware of the fact that miserliness actually ruins lives and destroys homes whereas righteousness in reality is what causes an increase in lifespan.[2] “No indeed! He will be flung into the Shatterer.[3] What will make you realise what the Shatterer is?” This is asked by way of emphasising the gravity of the affair and increasing one’s dread of it. Then it is explained, “The fire of Allah, kindled (to a blaze),” “whose fuel is men and stones”[4] “which,” because of its extreme intensity “rages over the hearts (of people),” piercing their bodies and scorching their very hearts.[5] Along with this unbearable heat they are imprisoned therein having lost all hope of ever leaving, “It closes in on them (from every side),” caging them in “in towering columns,” behind its doors preventing them from leaving, “Whenever they desire to go forth from it they shall be brought back into it, and it will be said to them: Taste the chastisement of the Fire which you used to deny.”[6]

We take refuge with Allah and ask Him for well-being and pardon!


Endnotes

1. The opposite has also been said by scholars such as ibn Kathir. Others such as Qarafi, al-Furuq, vol. 4, pg. 316, said that al-hamz was to defame a person in his presence whereas al-lamz was to defame a person in his absence in which case it had the same meaning as backbiting (ghibah).

2. Tirmidhi records on the authority of Thawban that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Nothing increases the life-span save righteousness.”
Ahmad records on the authority of Anas ibn Malik that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Whoever wishes to have his life-span increased, let him be dutiful to his parents and join the ties of kinship.”

3. Qurtubi: it is called the Shatterer because it breaks, shatters and crushes whatever is thrown therein.

4. al-Baqarah (2):24

5. Qurtubi: When torment reaches the heart the person should normally die, therefore these people are in a state where they should be dead, but they do not die. Allah says about them, “Wherein he will neither die nor live.” These people are the living dead.

6. al-Sajdah (32): 20

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