102. Takathur

Syed Abu-Ala' Maududi's Chapter Introductions to the Quran


The Sura taken its name from the word at takathur in the first verse.

Period of Revelation

Abu Hayyan and Shaukani say that this Sura according to all commentators is Makki and this same is the well known view according to Iman Suyuti. However there are some traditions on the basis of which it is considered a Madani Sura and they are as follows: Ibn Hatim has cited Abu Buraidah as saying that this Sura was sent down concerning the two tribes Bani Harithah and Bani al-Harth of the Ansar. The two tribes had first recounted the glories and illustrious deeds of their living men; then they had gone to the grave yard and bragged of the glorious deeds of their dead. Thereupon the Divine Revelation Alhakum at takathur came down. But if the practice of the Companions and their successors concerning the occasions of revelation is kept in view this tradition is no argument to prove that Sura At Takathur was sent down on that very occasion but it shows that this Sura fully applied to the act of the two tribes. Imam Bukhari and Ibn Jarir have cited this view of Hadrat Ubayy bin Ka'b: "We took the Holy Prophet" saing: `If the son of Adam had two valley full of wealth he would long for a third valley; the son of Adam's belly cannot be filled but by earth to be from the Quran until Alhakum at takathur was sent down. This Hadith has been regarded as an argument for Sura At-Takathur to be a Madani Sura on the ground that Hadrat Ubayy had become a Muslim in Madinah. But Hadrat Ubayy's this statement does not indicate in what sense the Companions regarded this saying of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) as belonging to the Quran. If it means that they regarded it as a verse of the Quran it cannot be acceptable for a great majority of the Companions consisted of the men who were well aware of each and every word of the Quran; they could not have the misunderstanding that the Hadith was a verse of the Quran. And if its belonging to the Quran is taken to mean its being derived from the Quran the tradition can also mean that when the Companions who entered Islam in Madinah heard this Sura for the first time from the Holy Prophet they thought that it had been revealed just then and then about the Holy Prophet's above saying they formed the idea that it was derived from this very Sura. Ibn Jarir Tirmidhi Ibn al Mundhir and other traditionists have related this view of Hadrat Ali: "We were in doubt about the torment of the grave until Alhakum at takathur was sent down." This view has been regarded as an argument for Sura At- Takathur to be Madani on the ground that the torment of the grave was first mentioned at Madinah; no mention of it was ever made at Makkah. But this is wrong. In the Makki Suras of the Quran the torment of the grave has heen mentioned at many places so clearly that there can he no room for any such doubt; for example see Al- An'am: 93 An-Nahl: 28 Al-Muminun: 99-100 Al-Mu'min: 45-46 which are all Makki Suras. Therefore if anything is proved by Hadrat Ali's saying it is that Sura At-Takathur had been revealed before the revelation of the above mentioned Makki Suras and its revelation had removed the Companions doubt about the torment of the grave. That is why in spite of these traditions a great majority of the commentators are agreed that this Sura is Makki. In our opinion this is not only a Makki Sura but in view of its contents and style it is one of the earliest Suras to be revealed at Makkah. Theme and Subject Matter In it the people have been warned of the evil consequences of world worship because of which they spend their lives in acquiring more and more oF worldly wealth material benefits and pleasures and position and power till death and in vying with one another and bragging and boasting about their acquisitions. This one pursuit has so occupied them that they are left with no time or opportunity for pursuing the higher things in life. After warning the people of its evil end they have been told us if to say: "These blessings which you are amassing and enjoying thoughtless

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