Overview - Surah 41: Fussilat (Explained in Detail)

Surah Introduction

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The subject matter of this Surah is Da'wah. It invites to the truth, gives warnings to those who reject the truth, and tells us that the appeal to the truth is within our nature.  It tells us also that the Believers receive strength from Allah's revelation.  The revelation gives life to those who were spiritually and morally dead at one time.  The Surah contains both good news and warnings.

Sections:

  1. Invitation to the truth of the Qur'an.  The Qur'an is a book that explains everything.
  2. Allah created the heaven and earth.  Warnings to those who turn away from Allah.
  3. Those who deny Allah, their own body will witness against them.
  4. The disbelievers’ plan to suppress the message of the Qur'an will fail.  Allah gives strength to the Believers.
  5. The best people are those who invite to Allah.  The effect of the revelation on the Believers. The signs of Allah.
  6. Allah gives time to people to repent.  What good or evil you do is for and against your own selves.  The truth will gradually succeed.

The Surah is known as 'Fussilat' and 'Haa Meem as-Sajdah'.

The following Surahs all have the letters, Ha-Meem as their opening Ayaat and interestingly what is common to all of them is their mentioning of the Prophet Musa. These Surahs are;

Surah 40: al-Ghafir
Surah 41: Fussilat
Surah 42: Shurah
Surah 43: Zukhruf
Surah 44: Dukhan
Surah 45: Jathiyah
Surah 46: al-Ahqaaf

There are 54 Ayat in this Surah.

Overview

Total Ayat54
Total Words *794
Root Words *212
Unique Root Words *0
Makki / MadaniMakki
Chronological Order* 61st (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation* 9th year of Prophethood
Events during/before this Surah*
Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 3, Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 2, Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 1, 2nd Migration to Abyssinia, Physical beating and torture of some Muslims - 1st Migration of Muslims to Abyssinia, Public Invitation to Islam - Persecution of Muslims; antagonism - ridicule - derision - accusation - abuse and false propaganda., Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam , Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam , Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam
Events during/after still to occur*
Death of Abu Talib - Death of Khadijah - Stoning at Ta'if - al-Isra wal Mi'raj - Night Journey,1st Pledge of Aqabah,2nd Pledge of Aqabah,,Migration from Makkah to Madinah - Building of Masjid Nabi in Madinah - Treaty with Jews of Madinah - Marriage of Prophet to Aishah,Change of Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah - Battle of Badr,Battle of Uhud,,Battle of Ahzab - Expedition of Banu Quraydhah,Treaty of Hudaiybiyah - Letters to Kings and Rulers,,Conquest of Makkah - Battle of Hunain,Hajj led by Abu Bakr - Expedition of Tabuk,Farewell Hajj by Prophet - Death of Prophet - End of Divine Revelation
Names of Prophets Mentioned
Musa
Surah Index
‘Aad, Adversity (patience during) , God (ability to do anything) , God (wills no wrong to His creation) , Angels, Astronomy (celestial mechanics) (moon), Astronomy (celestial mechanics) (sun), Astronomy (stars) (neighbourhood of Earth populated by), Charity, Disbelievers, Disbelievers (God’s promise to) , Earth, Earth (creation and recreation of) , Earth (creation of) (in two days), Earth (creation of) (the rest in the other four), Earth (rotation of) , Health rules, Hearing, Hell, Hud, Iblis, Jinn, Moses, Mountains, Prayer (prostration) , Pregnancy, Qur’an, Qur’an (revealed in Arabic) , Qur’an (source of health) , Resurrection (Day) , Resurrection (of humans) , Resurrection (of soul) , Revelation, Sight, Skin, Sky (still smoke) , Thamud, Weather (rain) , Weather (wind)

Central Theme

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In the discourse that God sent down in response to what Utbah said, no attention whatever was paid to the proposals that were made to the Prophet. What he had said was, in fact, an attack on the Prophet’s intention and intellect. His assumption was that as there was no possibility of his being a Prophet and the Qur’an being God’s Revelation, inevitably the motive of his invitation must either be the desire to obtain wealth and political power, or, God forbid, he had lost his reason. In the first case, he wanted to make a bargain with the Prophet; in the second, he was insulting him when he said that the Quraysh chiefs would have him cured of his madness at their own expense. Obviously, when the opponents come down to such absurd things, no gentleman would like to answer them, but would ignore them and say what he himself had to say.

Therefore, ignoring what Utbah said, this Surah makes antagonism its subject of discussion, which the unbelieving Quraysh were showing stubbornly and wickedly in order to defeat the message of the Qur’an. They would say to the Prophet, “You may try however hard you try: we would not listen to you. We have put coverings on our hearts and we have closed our ears. There is a wall between you and us, which would never let us meet together.”

They had given a clear notice to the Prophet to the effect: “You may continue your mission of inviting the people, but we would go on opposing you as hard as we can to frustrate your mission.”

For this object they had devised the following plan: Whenever the Prophet or a follower of his would try to recite the Qur’an before the people, they would at once raise such a hue and cry that no one could hear anything. They were desperately trying to misconstrue the verses of the Qur’an and spread every kind of misunderstanding among the people. They misconstrued everything and found fault even with the straightforward things. They would isolate words and sentences from their right context, from here and there, and would add their own words in order to put new meanings on them so as to mislead the people about the Qur’an and the Messenger who presented it.

They would raise strange objections, a specimen of which has been presented in this Surah. They said, “If an Arab presents a discourse in Arabic, what could be the miracle in it? Arabic is his mother tongue. Anyone could compose anything that he pleased in his mother tongue and then make the claim that he had received it from God. It would be a miracle if the person would suddenly arise and make an eloquent speech in a foreign tongue which he did not know. Then only could one say that the discourse was not of his own composition but a revelation from God.”

Here is a resume of what has been said in answer to this deaf and blind opposition:

1.   The Qur’an is most certainly the Word of God, which He has sent down in Arabic. The ignorant people do not find any light of knowledge in the truths that have been presented in it plainly and clearly, but the people of understanding are seeing this light as well as benefiting by it. It is surely God’s mercy that He has sent down this Word for the guidance of man. If a person regarded it as an affliction, it would be his own misfortune. Good news is for those who benefit by it and warning for those who turn away from it.

2.   If you have put coverings on your hearts and have made yourselves deaf, it is not the Prophet’s job to make one hear who does not want to hear, and the one who does not want to understand, understand forcibly. He is a man like you; he can make only those to hear and understand, who are inclined to hear and understand.

3.   Whether you close your eyes and ears and put coverings on your hearts, the fact, however, is that your God is only One God, and you are not the servant of anyone else. Your stubbornness cannot change this reality in any way. If you accept this truth and correct your behaviour accordingly you will do good only to yourselves, and if you reject it, you will only be preparing your own doom.

4.   Do you have any understanding as to whom you disbelieve and with whom you associate others in divinity? It is with regard to that God Who has created this limitless universe, Who is the Creator of the earth and heavens, from Whose blessings you are benefiting on the earth, and on Whose provisions you are being fed and sustained. You set up His mean creatures as His associates and then you are made to understand the truth you turn away in stubbornness.

5.   If you still do not believe, then be aware that a sudden torment is about to visit you, the like of which had visited the ‘Aad and the Thamud, and this torment also will not be the final punishment of your crimes, but there is in addition the accountability and the fire of Hell in the Hereafter.

6.   Wretched is the man who gets as company such satans from among men and Jinn, who show him nothing but green and pleasant, who make his follies seem fair to him, who neither let him think aright himself nor let him hear right from others. But on the Day of Reckoning when their doom overtakes them, each one of them will say that if he happened to get hold of those who had misled and deceived him in the world, he would trample them under his foot.

7.   This Qur’an is an unchangeable Book. You cannot defeat it by your plotting and falsehoods. Whether falsehood comes from the front or makes a secret and indirect attack from behind, it cannot succeed in refuting it.

8.   Today when this Qur’an is being presented in your own language so that you may understand it, you say that it should have been sent down in some foreign tongue. But had We sent it in a foreign tongue for your guidance, you would yourselves have called it a joke, as if to say, “What a strange thing! The Arabs are being given guidance in a non-Arabic language, which nobody understands.” This means that you, in fact, have no desire to obtain guidance. You are only inventing ever new excuses for not affirming the faith.

9.   Have you ever considered that if it became established that the Qur’an was really from God, then what fate you would meet by denying it and opposing it so vehemently as you do?

10. Today you do not believe, but soon you will see with your own eyes, that the message of this Qur’an had pervaded the whole world and you have yourselves been overwhelmed by it. Then you will come to know that what you were being told was the very truth.

Besides giving these answers to the opponents, attention has been paid to the problems which the believers and the Prophet himself were facing in that situation of active resistance. Not to speak of preaching the message to others, the believers were even finding it difficult to follow the way of the Faith. Anyone about whom it became known that he had become a Muslim, life would become an agony. As against the dreadful combination of the enemy and its all pervading power, they were feeling utterly helpless and powerless. In this state, in the first place, they were consoled and encouraged, as if to say: “You are not, in fact, helpless and powerless, for any person who believes in God as his Lord and adheres to this belief and way of life resolutely, God’s angels descend on him and help and support him at every stage, from the life of this world till the Hereafter.” Then they were encouraged with the consolation: “The best man is he who does good, invites others to God and proclaims firmly that he is a Muslim.”

The question the Prophet had at that time was as to how he should carve out a way of preaching his message when he had to face such heavy odds on every side. The solution he was given to this question was: “Although apparently the obstacles seem to be impossible, the weapon of good morals and character can smash and melt them away. Use this weapon patiently, and whenever Satan provokes you and incites you to use some other device, seek refuge in God.”

Connection of the name of the Surah and its Ayaat

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Connection between the beginning and the ending of the Surah

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Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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  • In Surat Ghafir, Allah demonstrates the intellectual and knowledge-based discourse between the believers and the polytheists, with this argument ending by stating the final abode of the polytheists; namely Hell. Here they will 'believe' when belief will be of no avail to them. Fussilat explains further the nature of the curriculum followed by believers; how it is Allah Who sent to them a Qur'an to guide them to their success in the world and the hereafter.In Fussilat, Allah clarifies the characteristics of the Qur'an and both the positions of the believers and the polytheists with regards to it, showing the latter's inability to confront its truths.   

The Virtues of the Surah

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Special Features of the Surah

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Important key and unique words of the Surah

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Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat) *

Period of Revelation

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According to authentic hadith, it was sent down after the affirmation of the Faith by Hamza, the uncle of the Prophet and before the affirmation of the Faith by Umar. Muhammad bin Ishaq, the earliest biographer of the Prophet, has related on the authority of Muhammad bin Ka’b al-Qurzi (a  famous Companion), that one day some of the Quraysh chiefs were sitting in their assembly in the Masjid al-Haram, while in another corner of the Mosque there was the Prophet sitting by himself. This was the time when Hamza had already embraced Islam and the people of the Quraysh were feeling upset at the growing numbers of the Muslims. On this occasion, Utbah bin Rabi’ah (the father-in-law of Abu Sufyan) said to the Quraysh chiefs: “Gentlemen, if you like I would go and speak to Muhammad and put before him some proposals; maybe that he accepts one of them, to which we may also agree, and so he stops opposing us.” They all agreed to this, and Utbah went and sat by the Prophet. When the Prophet turned to him, he said: “Nephew, you know the high status that you enjoy in the community by virtue of your ancestry and family relations, but you have put your people to great trouble: you have created divisions among them and you consider them to be fools: you talk ill of their religion and gods, and say things as though all our forefathers were pagans. Now listen to me and I shall make some suggestions. Consider them well: maybe that you accept one of them.” The Prophet said: “Abul Walid, say what you want to say and I shall listen to you.” He said, “Nephew, if by what you are doing, you want wealth, we will give you enough of it so that you will be the richest man among us; if you want to became an important man, we will make you our chief and will never decide a matter without you; if you want to be a king, we will accept you as our king; and if you are visited by a Jinn, whom you cannot get rid of by your own power, we will arrange the best physicians and have you treated at our own expense.” ‘Utbah went on speaking in this strain and the Prophet went on listening to him quietly. Then he said, “Have you said, O Abul Walid, what you had to say?” He replied that he had. The Prophet said: “Well, now listen to me.” Then pronouncing Bismillah ir Rahman-ir-Rahim he began to recite this very Surah, and Utbah kept on listening to it, putting his hands behind his back and leaning on them as he listened. Coming to the verse of prostration (v. 37) the Prophet prostrated himself; then raising his head, said, “This was my reply, O Abul Walid, now you may act as you please.” Then Utbah arose and walked back towards the chiefs, the people saw him from afar, and said: “By God! Utbah’s face is changed. He does not look the same man that he was when he went from here.” Then, when he came back and sat down, the people asked, “What have you heard?” He replied, “By God! I have heard something the like of which I had never heard before. By God, it’s neither poetry, nor sorcery, nor magic. O chiefs of the Quraysh, listen to what I say and leave this man to himself. I think what he recites is going to have its effect. If the other Arabs overcome him, you will be saved from raising your hand against your brother, and the others will deal with him. But if he overcame Arabia, his sovereignty would be your sovereignty and his honour your honour.” Hearing this the chiefs spoke out: “You too, O father of Walid, have been bewitched by his tongue.” Utbah replied, “I have given you my opinion; now you may act as you please.” (Ibn Hisham, vol. I, pp. 313-314).

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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Lessons/Guidance/Major-Issues/Reflections

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  • The Qur'an is revealed to give admonition.
  • Woe to those who deny the Hereafter and do not pay Zakah (charity).
  • Story of the creation of earth, mountains, seas, skies and heavens.
  • Example of Allah's scourge upon the nations of 'Ad and Thamud.
  • On the Day of Judgement, man's own ears, eyes and skin will bear witness against him relating to his misdeeds.
  • Those who say their God is Allah and stay firm on it, have angels assigned for their protection.
  • The best in speech is the one who calls people towards Allah, does good deeds and says, "I am a Muslim."
  • The message which is revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the same message which was revealed to prior Prophets.
  • The Qur'an is a guide and healing for the believers. It is similar to the Book given to the Prophet Musa (Moses).
  • On the Day of Judgement, all those gods to whom people worshiped besides Allah, shall vanish.
  • Have you considered that if The Qur'an is really from Allah and you deny it, what will happen to you!

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Miscellaneous Issues

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Scientific References

ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ وَهِيَ دُخَانٌ " Then He directed Himself to the heaven while it was smoke" (41:11)

Early Universe in a state of ‘Smoke’

The science of modern cosmology, observational and theoretical, clearly indicates that, at one point in time, the whole universe was nothing but a cloud of ‘smoke’ [i.e. an opaque highly dense and hot gaseous composition].   This is one of the undisputed principles of standard modern cosmology.  Scientists now can observe new stars forming out of the remnants of that ‘smoke’.

Because the earth and the heavens above (the sun, the moon, stars, planets, galaxies, etc.) have been formed from this same ‘smoke,’ we conclude that the earth and the heavens were one connected entity. 

We know that our world, the sun and the stars did not come about immediately after the primeval explosion. For the universe was in a gaseous state before the formation of the stars. This gaseous state was initially made of hydrogen and helium. Condensation and compression shaped the planets, the earth, the sun and the stars that were but products of the gaseous state. The discovery of these phenomena has been rendered possible thanks to successive findings as a result of observations and theoretical developments.

The knowledge of all contemporary communities during the time of the Prophet would not suffice for the assertion that the universe had once been in a gaseous state. The Prophet himself did not claim to be the author of the statements in the Qur’ān as it often reminded, declaring that he is simply a messenger of God.