The Quran

Commentaries for 72.8

Al Jinn (The Jinn) - الجن

72.8 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Allah then went back to the talk of the jinn, saying: (And (the jinn who had listened to the Qur'an said): We had sought the heaven) before we accepted faith (but had found it filled with strong warders) angels (and meteors) preventing them from listening.
72.8 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
The jinn say: And we made for the heaven, we desired to listen by stealth, but we found it filled with mighty guards, from among the angels, and meteors, scorching stars: this was at the time of the sending of the Prophet (s).
72.8-10 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Jinns stealing Information from the Sky before the the Messenger was sent and striking Them with flaming Fire after His Coming.
Allah informs about the Jinns when He sent His Messenger Muhammad and revealed the Qur'an to him. Among the ways He protected it (the Qur'an) was by filling sky with stern guards guarding it from all of its sides. The devils were then expelled from the places where they used to sit prior to that. This was so that they could not steal anything from the Qur'an and tell it to the soothsayers, thereby causing matters to be confused and mixed up. If this happened it would not be known who was being truthful. Allah did this out of His kindness to His creation, His mercy upon His servants and His protection of His Mighty Book (the Qur'an). This is why the Jinns said,
وَأَنَّا لَمَسْنَا السَّمَآءَ فَوَجَدْنَـهَا مُلِئَتْ حَرَساً شَدِيداً وَشُهُباً - وَأَنَّا كُنَّا نَقْعُدُ مِنْهَا مَقَـعِدَ لِلسَّمْعِ فَمَن يَسْتَمِعِ الاٌّنَ يَجِدْ لَهُ شِهَاباً رَّصَداً
(And we have sought to reach the heaven; but found it filled with stern guards and flaming fires. And verily, we used to sit there in stations, to (steal) a hearing, but any who listens now will find a flaming fire watching him in ambush.) meaning, whoever would like to steal some information by listening, he will find a flaming fire waiting in ambush for him. It will not pass him or miss him, but it will wipe him out and destroy him completely.
وَأَنَّا لاَ نَدْرِى أَشَرٌّ أُرِيدَ بِمَن فِى الاٌّرْضِ أَمْ أَرَادَ بِهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ رَشَداً
(And we know not whether evil is intended for those on earth, or whether their Lord intends for them guidance.) meaning, `we do not know if this -- the matter which has occurred in the sky -- is intended for those who are in the earth or if their Lord intends some guidance for them.' They stated this in such a manner out of their etiquette in phrasing their speech, because they did not attribute the doing of evil to anyone and they attributed the good to Allah. Verily, it has been recorded in the Sahih,
«وَالشَّرُّ لَيْسَ إِلَيْك»
(And evil is not attributed to You (Allah).) It used to be that shooting stars (meteors) occurred before this, however it did not happen much, rather only occasionally. As was reported in the Hadith of Ibn `Abbas when he said, "While we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah a shooting star flashed in the sky. So the Prophet said,
«مَا كُنْتُمْ تَقُولُونَ فِي هَذَا؟»
(What did you all used to say about this) We replied, "We used to say that a great person has been born and a great person has died.'' The Prophet said,
«لَيْسَ كَذَلِكَ، وَلَكِنَّ اللهَ إِذَا قَضَى الْأَمْرَ فِي السَّمَاء»
(This is not so, rather whenever Allah decrees a matter in the heaven...)'' and then he went on to narrate the rest of the Hadith which we have already mentioned in its entirety in Surah Saba'. This is what caused them to seek the reason for this occurrence. So they set out searching in the east and the west. Then they found the Messenger of Allah reciting (the Qur'an) while leading his Companions in prayer. Thus, they knew that this Qur'an was the reason for the sky being guarded. Therefore, some among them believed in it and the others became more rebellious in their transgression. A discussion of this has preceded in a Hadith of Ibn `Abbas concerning Allah's statement in Surat Al-Ahqaf,
وَإِذْ صَرَفْنَآ إِلَيْكَ نَفَراً مِّنَ الْجِنِّ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقُرْءَانَ
(And (remember) when We sent towards you (Muhammad) a group of the Jinn (quietly) listening to the Qur'an.) (46:29) There is no doubt that when so many shooting stars began appearing in the sky, it horrified humans and Jinns alike. They were very disturbed and alarmed by it. They thought that it was the destruction of the world. As-Suddi said, "The sky was never guarded except if there was a Prophet in the earth or the religion of Allah was victorious and dominant in the earth.'' So the devils before the time of Muhammad had taken sitting stations for themselves in the heaven of this world and they would listen to the matters that occurred in the heaven. But when Allah sent Muhammad as a Prophet and Messenger, they were suddenly pelted one night (with the flaming, shooting stars). So the people of Ta'if were frightened because of this and they began to say, `The dwellers of the sky have been destroyed.' This was because they saw the severe fires in the sky and the shooting flames. They began freeing their servants and abandoning their luxuries. So `Abd Yalayl bin `Amr bin `Umayr said to them and he was referred to for judgement among them "Woe to you O people of Ta'if! Hold on to your wealth and look at these guiding stars in the sky.If you see them remaining in their place, then the dwellers of the sky have not been destroyed, rather this has happened because of Ibn Abi Kabshah (-- meaning Muhammad ). And if you look and see that you can no longer see these stars, then verily the dwellers of the sky have been destroyed.'' So, they looked and saw that the stars still remained, and thus, they kept their wealth. The devils also were frightened during that night. They went to Iblis and informed him of what happened to them. So he (Iblis) said, "Bring me a handful of dirt from every land so that I may smell it.'' So they brought it and he smelled it and said, "It is your friend in Makkah.'' Then he sent a group of seven Jinns to Makkah, and they found the Prophet of Allah standing in prayer in Al-Masjid Al-Haram while reciting the Qur'an. They drew near to him eager to hear the Qur'an, until their chests almost pressed against him. Then they accepted Islam and Allah revealed their matter to His Messenger. We have mentioned this chapter in its entirety in the first section of the Kitab As-Sirah with lengthy discussion. Allah knows best and unto Him is all praise and blessings.
72.1-9 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This shows that the jinn at that time were not visible to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace), nor he knew that they were hearing the Qur'an being recited, but Allah informed him of the incident afterwards by Revelation. Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas also has, in connection with this incident, stated: "The Holy Messenger of Allah had not recited the Qur'an before the jinn, nor did he see them." (Muslim, Tirmidhi, Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Jarir).
The words in the original are: Qur an-an 'ajaba. Qur an means "something which is read again and again", and the jinn probably used this word in this very meaning, for they were introduced to this Divine Revelation for the first time, and they did not perhaps know then that what they were hearing, was the Qur'an itself. 'Ajab is a superlative, which is used in Arabic for a wonderful thing. So, what the jinn said means: "We have heard such a wonderful recital which is unique both in its language and in its subject-matter."
This also shows that the jinn not only hear what human beings say but also understand their language fully, although it is not necessary that all the jinn might know all the human languages. It is possible that those of them who live in a particular region of the earth might know the language of the people of that region. But in any case this statement of the Qur'an clearly shows that the jinn who listened to the Qur'an at that time were so conversant with the Arabic language that they not only appreciated the matchless eloquence of the Divine Word but also understood its sublime subject-matter fully well.
This throws light on several things:
(1) That the jinn do not deny Allah's existence and His being Lord and Sustainer;
(2) that among them also there are polytheists, who like polytheistic human beings ascribe divinity to others than Allah: thus, the community of the jinn whose members heard the Qur'an was polytheistic;
(3) that the Prophethood and revelation of Divine scriptures does not exist among the jinn, but whoever of them believe, they believe in the Prophets raised among human beings and in the Books brought by them. This same thing is confirmed by Al-Ahqaf: 29-30, where it has been stated that the jinn who had then heard the Qur'an, were from among the followers of the Prophet Moses, and they after having heard the Qur'an, had invited their people to believe in the Revelation that had been sent down by God confirming the previous scriptures. Surah ArRahman also points to the same, for its whole subject-matter shows that the audience of the Holy Prophet's invitation are both the men and the jinn.
From this we know two things;
(1) That these jinn were either from among the Christian jinn, or they were followers of a different religion in which Allah was regarded as having children and families.
(2) That at that time the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was reciting some such part of the Qur'an hearing which they realized the error of their creed and knew that it was sheer ignorance and impudence to ascribe wife and children to the High and Exalted Being of Allah.
The word safihuna as used in the Text can be spoken for an individual as well as for a group. If it is taken for a foolish individual, it would imply Iblis and if for a group, it would imply a group of foolish jinn who said such things.
That is, "We were misled by those falsehoods because we could never think that the men or the jinn could ever dare forge a lie about Allah, but having heard this Qur'an we now know that they were, in fact, liars."
Ibn `Abbas says that in the pre-Islamic days of ignorance when the Arabs had to spend a night in some uninhabited, desolate valley, they would shout out: "We seek refuge of the jinn, who is owner of this valley." In other traditions of the pre-Islamic ignorance also the same thing has been reported frequently. For example, if in a place they ran short of water and fodder, the wandering Bedouins would send one of their men to some other place to see if water and fodder were available; and when they reached the new site under his direction, they would shout out before they halted to pitch the camp: "We seek refuge of the sustainer of this valley so that we may live here in peace from every calamity." They believed that every un-inhabited place was under the control of one or another jinn, and if someone stayed there without seeking his refuge, the jinn would either himself trouble the settlers, or would let others trouble them. These believing jinn are referring to this very thing. They meant that when man, the vicegerent of the earth, started fearing them without any reason, and started seeking their refuge instead of God's, it caused their people to become even more arrogant, haughty and wicked, and they became even more fearless and bold in adopting error and disbelief.
Another meaning of this sentence can be: "Allah will not resurrect anyone after death." As the wards are comprehensive they can be taken to mean that, as among human beings, so among the jinn too there were the people who denied both the Prophethood and the Hereafter. However, in view of the theme that follows, the meaning that we have given in the text above is preferable, for according to it these believing jinn tell the people of their community: "Your view is proved wrong that Allah will not appoint anyone as a Messenger. In fact, the gates of heavens have been closed on us only because Allah has already appointed a Messenger. "
This is the reason why these jinn were now out searching as to what particularly had happened, or was going to happen, on the earth, which had necessitated strict security measures against eavesdropping so that they were driven away from wherever they tried to eavesdrop in any way.