This is another surah that fits in the same time period, expressing the same ideas in new words. The first part alone is from Mecca, so that’s the part I’ll deal with here. I usually deal with the entire surah at one time if I think that either the whole surah was revealed within a reasonably tight block of time or if there is only a small percentage from a much later date, but here, over half the surah is from a considerably later date, so I feel the need to split it up.
Here’s the first three ayat, from an early date:
- Have you seen the one who denies the Code?
- Then that is the one who repulses the orphan,
- And does not urge feeding the poor.
This should be entirely self-explanatory, but the first ayah is usually mistranslated because Tasfir ibn al-Kathir declares that “Here the word Din means the Hereafter, the Recompense and the Final Reward.” All I can say is that no, it doesn’t. You don’t just get to make up new meanings to words because it fits nicely with your beliefs. The word Din/Deen means a Code or Law, defining the customs and morals of a people, like the Jewish word Halakhah or the Greek word Nomos. This idea was apparently difficult for Muhammad’s early followers to understand in this context, so multiple meanings are projected onto it by early Islamic scholars. There is no basis for any of these projections.
The poor here are al-Miskin, as they always are. It means people who are unable to sustain themselves–the deserving poor, as the English phrase would be. It does not have our modern meaning of anyone below an arbitrary income cutoff, or people able but unwilling to work, but rather people who lack the ability to obtain the basic necessities of life. According to Muhammad, it also explicitly excludes professional beggars!