Tafsir Maududi- Surah 90. Al-Balad, Ayaat 1 To 2

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لَا أُقْسِمُ بِهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ١وَأَنْتَ حِلٌّ بِهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ٢

[1-2] Nay!1 I swear by this City,2 while you (O Prophet), have been made lawful in this City.3

1As we have explained in E.N.1 of Surah AI-Qiyamah above, to begin a discourse with a "Nay" and resume it with an oath means that the people were asserting a wrong thing to refute which it was said: "Nay, the truth is not that which you seem to assert, but I swear by such and such a thing that the truth is this and this" As for the question what it was to refute which this discourse was sent down, it is indicated by the theme that follows. The disbelievers of Makkah said that there was nothing wrong with the way of life that they were following, as if to say: "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die in the natural process of time. Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace), without any reason, is finding fault with this way of life and warning us that we would at some time in the future be called to account for it and rewarded and punished accordingly."

2"This City": the city of Makkah. There was no need here to explain why an oath was being sworn by this City. The people of Makkah were well aware of the background and importance of their city and knew how in the midst of desolate mountains, in an un-cultivated, barren valley, the Prophet Abraham had brought his wife and suckling child and left them there without any support; how he had built a House there and proclaimed to the people to visit it as pilgrims when there was no soul for miles around to hear the proclamation, and then how this city had eventually become the commercial and religious center of Arabia and was blessed with such sacredness that there was no other place of security beside it in that lawless land for centuries.

3Three meanings of the words in the Text have been given by the commentators:

(1) "That you are a resident of this city and your residence here has further enhanced the glory of this city";

(2) "that although this city is a sanctuary; a time will come when for some time it will become lawful for you to fight and kill the enemies of the true Faith here; and,

(3) "that in this city where even killing of animals and cutting of trees is forbidden for the people of Arabia, and where everyone is living in perfect peace, you, O Prophet, have no peace, and persecuting you and devising plans to kill you has been made lawful."

Although the words are comprehensive enough to cover all the three meanings, yet when the theme that follows is considered, one feels that the first two meanings bear no relevance to it, and only the third meaning seems to be correct.


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  Mushtaq Ahmad  
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