And what will show you, [what will] make known to you, what the obstacle is?, that he is to surmount — intended to emphasise its enormity (this statement is a parenthetical one). He explains the way to surmount it by saying:
(Whoever frees a believing slave, Allah will free for every limb (of the slave) one of his limbs from the Fire. This is to such an extent that He (Allah) will free a hand for a hand, a leg for a leg, and a private part for a private part.) `Ali bin Al-Husayn then said (to Sa`id), "Did you hear this from Abu Hurayrah'' Sa`id replied, "Yes.'' Then `Ali bin Al-Husayn said to a slave boy that he owned who was the swiftest of his servants, "Call Mutarrif!'' So when the slave was brought before him he said, "Go, for you are free for the Face of Allah.'' Al-Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa'i, all recorded this Hadith from Sa`id bin Marjanah. Imam Ahmad recorded from `Amr bin `Abasah that the Prophet said,
(Whoever builds a Masjid so that Allah may be remembered in it, Allah will build a house for him in Paradise; and whoever frees a Muslim person, then it will be his ransom from Hell; and whoever grows grey in Islam, then it will be a light for him on the Day of Judgement.) According to another route of transmission, Ahmad recorded from Abu Umamah, who reported from `Amr bin `Abasah that As-Sulami said to him, "Narrate a Hadith to us that you heard from the Messenger of Allah, without any deficiency or mistakes.'' He (`Amr) said, "I heard him saying,
(Whoever has three children born to him in Islam, and they die before reaching the age of puberty, Allah will enter him into Paradise by virtue of His mercy to them. And whoever grows gray in the way of Allah (fighting Jihad), then it will be a light for him on the Day of Judgement. And whoever shoots an arrow in the way of Allah (fighting Jihad) that reaches the enemy, whether it hits or misses, he will get the reward of freeing a slave. And whoever frees a believing slave, then Allah will free each of his limbs from the Fire for every limb that the slave has. And whoever equipped two riding animals in the way of Allah (for fighting Jihad), then indeed Paradise has eight gates, and Allah will allow him to enter any of them he choses.)'' Ahmad recorded this Hadith from different routes of transmission that are good and strong, and all praise is due to Allah.Allah said,
أَوْ إِطْعَامٌ فِى يَوْمٍ ذِى مَسْغَبَةٍ
(Or giving food in a day full of Masghabah,) Ibn `Abbas said, "Of hunger.'' `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah and others all said the same. The word `Saghb' means hunger. Then Allah says,
(To an orphan) meaning, he gives food on a day like this to an orphan.
(near of kin.) meaning, who is related to him. Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Ad-Dahhak and As-Suddi all said this. This is similar to what was related in a Hadith that was collected by Imam Ahmad on the authority of Salman bin `Amir who said that he heard the Messenger of Allah say,
(Charity given to the poor person is counted as one charity, while if it is given to a relative it is counted as two: charity and connecting the ties (of kinship).) At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i both recorded this Hadith and its chain of narration is authentic. Then Allah says,
أَوْ مِسْكِيناً ذَا مَتْرَبَةٍ
(Or to a Miskin cleaving to dust (Dha Matrabah).) meaning, poor, miserable, and clinging to the dirt. It means those who are in a state of destitution. Ibn `Abbas said, "Dha Matrabah is that who is dejected in the street and who has no house or anything else to protect him against the dirt.'' Allah said;
ثُمَّ كَانَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ
(Then he became one of those who believed) meaning, then, along with these beautiful and pure characteristics, he was a believer in his heart, seeking the reward of that from Allah. This is as Allah says,
(and recommended one another to patience, and recommended one another to compassion.) meaning, he was from the believers who worked righteous deeds, and advised each other to be patient with the harms of the people, and to be merciful with them. This is similar to what has been related in the noble Hadith,
(The merciful people will be treated with mercy by the Most Merciful (Allah). Be merciful to those who are on the earth and He Who is above the heavens will be merciful to you.) In another Hadith he said,
«لَا يَرْحَمُ اللهُ مَنْ لَا يَرْحَمِ النَّاس»
(Allah will not be merciful with whoever is not merciful with the people.) Abu Dawud recorded from `Abdullah bin `Amr that he narrated (from the Prophet ),
(But those who disbelieved in Our Ayat, they are those on the Left.) meaning, the companions of the Left Hand.
عَلَيْهِمْ نَارٌ مُّؤْصَدَةُ
(Upon them Fire will Mu'sadah.) meaning, it will be sealed over them and there will be no way for them to avoid it, nor will they have any way out. Abu Hurayrah, Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Mujahid, Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi, `Atiyah Al-`Awfi, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and As-Suddi, all said,
(Mu'sadah.) "This means shut.'' Ibn `Abbas said, "Its doors will be closed.'' Ad-Dahhak said,
(Mu'sadah.) "It will be sealed over them and it will have no door.'' Qatadah said,
(Mu'sadah.) "It will be shut and there will be no light in it, no crevice (escape), and no way out of it forever.'' This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Balad, and all praise and blessings are due to Allah.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The words in the original are: fa-lagtaham-al- aqabah. Iqtiham means to apply oneself to a hard and toilsome task, and 'aqabah is the steep path that passes through mountains for ascending heights. Thus, the verse means: "One of the two paths that We have shown him, leads to heights but is toilsome and steep; man has to tread it against the desires of his self and the temptations of Satan. The other path is easy which descends into chasms, but does not require any toil from man; one only needs to give free reins to oneself, then one automatically goes on rolling down the abyss. Now, the man to whom We had shown both the paths, adopted the easy down-hill path and abandoned the toilsome path, which leads to the heights."
Since in the foregoing verses the extravagances of man which he indulges in for ostentation and expression of superiority to others, have been mentioned, now here it is being stated as to what expenditure of wealth it is which leads man up to moral heights instead of causing him to sink into moral depravity and perversion. But in this there is no enjoyment for the self; on the contrary, man has to exercise self-restraints and make sacrifices. The expenditure is that one should set a slave free, or should render a slave monetary help so as to enable him to win his freedom by paying the ransom, or free a debtor from his debt, or secure release of a helpless person without means from penalties. Likewise, the expenditure is that one should feed a nearly related orphan (i.e. an orphan who is either a relative or a neighbor) who is hungry, and a needy, helpless person who might have been reduced to extreme poverty and might have none to support and help him. Helping such people does not win a person fame and reputation, nor feeding them brings him the admiration for being wealthy and generous which one usually wins by holding banquets to thousands of well-to-do people. But the path to moral and spiritual heights passes on steep uphill roads only.
Great merits of the acts of virtue mentioned in these verses have been described by the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace). For instance, about fakku raqabah (fleeing a neck from bondage) many ahadith have been related in the traditions, one of which is a tradition from Hadrat Abu Hurairah, to the effect; "The Holy Prophet said: The person who set a believing slave free, Allah will save from fire of Hell every limb of his body in lieu of every limb of the slave's body, the hand in lieu of the hand, the foot in lies of the foot, the private parts in lieu of the private parts " (Musnad, Ahmad, Bukhari. Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i). Hadrat 'Ali bin Husain (lmam Zain al-`Abedin) asked Sa`d bin Marjanah, the reporter of this Hadith: "Did you hear it yourself from Abu Hurairah?" When 6e replied in the affirmative, Imam Zain al-`Abedin called out his most valuable slave and set him free there and then. According to Muslim, he had an offer often thousand dirhams for the slave. On the basis of this verse, Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Sha`bi have ruled: "Setting a slave free is superior to giving away charity, for Allah has mentioned it before the mention of charity.
The Holy Prophet has mentioned the merits of rendering help to the needy in many ahadith, one of which is this Hadith from Hadrat Abu Hurairah: "The Holy Prophet said: The one who strives in the cause of rendering help to the widow and the needy is like the one who endeavors and strives in the cause of jihad for the sake of Allah. (And Hadrat Abu Hurairah says :) I think that the Holy Prophet also said: He is even like him who keeps standing up in the Prayer constantly, without ever taking rest, and like him who observes the fast continuously without ever breaking it:" (Bukhari, Muslim).
As for the orphans, there are numerous sayings reported from the Holy Prophet. Hadrat Sahl bin Sa`d has reported: "The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) said: I and the one who supports a nearly related of un-related orphan, shall stand in Paradise like this-saying this he raised his index finger and the middle finger, keeping them a little apart." (Bukhari). Hadrat Abu HIurairah has reported this saying of the Holy Prophet: "The best among the Muslim homes is the home wherein an orphan is treated well and the worst the one wherein an orphan is mistreated." (Ibn Majah, Bukhari in Al-Adab al- Mufrad). Hadrat Abu Umamah says that the Holy Prophet said: "The one who passed his hand on the head of an orphan, only for the sake of Allah, will have as many acts of virtue recorded in his favour as the number of the hair on which his hand passed, and the one who treated an orphan boy or girl well. will stand in Paradise with me like this...saying this the Holy Prophet joined his two fingers together." (Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhi). Ibn 'Abbas says: The Holy Prophet said: "The one who made an orphan join him in eating and drinking, Allah will make Paradise obligatory for him unless he commits a sin which cannot be forgiven." (Sharh as-Sunnah).Hadrat Abu Hurairah says: A man complained before the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace), saying: "I am hard-hearted." The Holy Prophet said to him: "Treat the orphan with kindness and love and feed the needy one." (Musnad Ahmad).