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A Commentary on Surah Al-Buruj Tafsir 85 pdf download

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 A Commentary On Surah Al Buruj
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Bilal Philips
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Imām al-Shawkāni said the following regarding this chapter: “It contains twenty two verses and is undoubtedly Makkan. Ibn al Durays, al-Nahhās, Ibn Mardūyah and al-Bayhaqi narrated from Ibn ‘Abbās that he said: Was-Samā’i dhātil-Burūs was revealed in Makkah,” ((The Qur’an was revealed in sections to Propher Muharnmad () from the beginning of his prophethood until shortly before his death. Thus, the Qur’ān came down continuously over a period of twenty-three years. Scholars of Tafsir categorised the various verses and chapters of the Qur’an which were revealed into Makkan and Madinan. 

Makkan revelations are defined as all verses and chapters of the Qur’ān which were revealed to the Prophet (s) belore his emigrarion to Madinah (Hijrah 622 CE). This category also includes verses which were revealed in Ta’if, as well as those revealed in other areas outside of Makkah.  Madinan revelations are all those verses and chapters of the Qur’ān which were revealed after the Hijrah. This includes verscs which were revealed during the battles, as well as those revealed in Makkah and Minā during and after the Farewell Pilgrimage. (Al-Itgan, vol. 1, p. 23) ))

Importance of the Distinction 

There are a number of reasons why a distinction needs to be made berween Makkan and Madinan chapters and verses. The following are three of the most important reasons: 

1. Fiqh (Islamic Law): The various laws of Islam were revealed throughout the rwenty-three years of prophethood. Some laws cancelled eaclier laws and other laws were revealed bit by bir. Thus, it is necessary to know at which point in time the various laws were revealed in order to apply them properly. The laws of the later Madinan period sometimes rook the place of earlier laws. For example, alcohol was made forbidden in gradual stages. 

The first law concerning alcohol was simply a warning of irs dangers. Allāh said: 

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ ۖ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِن نَّفْعِهِمَا ۗ وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ قُلِ الْعَفْوَ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ (219)”

And they ask you about alcohol and gambling; tell them that they contain some benefit, but the sin is greater than the benefit.” )(Surah al-Baqarah, 2:219)( 

The second law that was revealed warned Muslims away from salah when they were intoxicated (drunk). Allāh said: 

يا أيها الذين آمنوا لا تقربوا الصلاة وأنتم سكارى حتى تعلموا ما تقولون

“Do not come to salāh when you are intoxicated, until you know what 

you are saying.” ((Surah al-Nisa’, 4:43))

The third law, however, was a complete prohibition of even coming near any form of alcohol, Allāh said: 

يا أيها الذين آمنوا إنما الخمر والميسر والأنصاب والأزلام رجس من عمل الشيطان

“Verily, khamr, maysir and azlām (fortunetelling) are filth, as a result of Shaygan’s work, so stay away from them.” ((Surah al-Ma’idah, 5: 90)) 

If one was unaware of the order in which these verses were revealed, he may mistakenly think that he is allowed to drink alcohol as long as he doesn’t ger drunk and come to salah. Or, he may think that it is allowed for him to benefit from the sale of alcohol. 

 2. Da’wah: By understanding the order in which the verses of the Qur’ān were revealed, one can learn the best method of teaching Islām. For example, the Qur’ān taught the believers not to curse or make fun of the idols of the disbelievers in order not to drive them away and in order that they not curse Allāh our of ignorance. 

ق وا اللعدوا وَلَا تَسُبُّوا الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ فَيَسُبُّوا اللَّهَ عَدْوًا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ زَيَّنَّا لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ عَمَلَهُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِم مَّرْجِعُهُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ (108)

“Do not curse what the disbelievers worship besides Allāh, lest they 

curse Allāh in enmity and ignorance.” 

(Surah al-An’ām, 6: 108) 

Instead, they were told to reason with the disbelievers and show them logically why the worship of idols was incorrect. Allāh quoted Prophet Abraham as saying to his people: 

أَفَتَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَنفَعُكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَضُرُّكُمْ

“Are you worshipping besides Allāh other gods which cannot benefit 

you at all nor harm you?” 

(Surah al-Anbiyā’, 21: 66) 

The following verse quoting Abraham’s declaration of enmity to his people and what they worshipped instead of Allāh was revealed in Madīnah, after the Muslims had practiced years of patient argument with their relatives in Makkah: 

قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ إِذْ قَالُوا لِقَوْمِهِمْ إِنَّا بُرَآءُ مِنكُمْ وَمِمَّا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ كَفَرْنَا بِكُمْ وَبَدَا بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةُ وَالْبَغْضَاءُ أَبَدًا حَتَّىٰ تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ

“There is an excellent example for you in Abraham and those with him, 

when they said to their people, We are clear of you and of whatever you worship besides Allāh; we have rejected you, and there has arisen, between us and you, enmity and hatred forever, unless you believe in 

Allāh alone.”” ((Sürah al-Mumtahinah, 60:4) 

The disbelievers of Makkah had met reasoned argument with persecution and violence. They had driven che Muslims from their homes, and a scare of armed conflict existed between the two sides. It is not, therefore, Sunnah for a person to accept Islām, read this verse and try to apply it on his family and acquaintances. 

3. Sirah: The majority of che most important events in the Prophet’s life have been recorded in various verses of the Qur’ān. Thus, by knowing the order in which the verses were revealed, it is possible to piece together a large portion of the Prophet’s () biography. 

Characteristics of Makkan Revelations – A COMMENTARY ON SURAH AL-BURUJ

1. Tawhid (The Oneness of Allāh): The early revelations taught the pagans of Makkah about Allāh’s unity and power over all things. They cold the people that Allāh was without parents, offspring or any partner who shared His powers. They also pointed out that idols could neither bring good nor hold back evil. They questioned che logic of worshipping things which could not even see or hear. 

2. Șalāh (Formal Prayer): After the first verses of revelation came informing the Prophet (a) that he had been chosen for prophethood, Allāh sent Jibril to teach him the correct method of prayer. The verses taught that both salāh and du’ā (supplication) should only be made to Allāh, as He is the only one who can answer them. Great stress was placed on salāh because it represents tawhid in practice. 

3. The Unseen: Since there was no way that human beings could possibly come to know about the unseen world, the early verses taught them about its wonders, its mysteries, and its horrors. The verses described Paradise and its pleasures in order to encourage the believers to continue to do good deeds. They also described the Hellfire and its torments in order to encourage the believers to strive to avoid evil deeds. 

4. Allāh’s Existence: There were some individuals among the Makkans who were in doubt about Allāh’s very existence. Thus, some of the early verses presented logical arguments proving Allāh’s existence. Sometimes proofs were taken from nature and the creatures common to that society. At other times straight logic was used. 

5. Challenges: In order to prove to the Quraysh that the Qur’ān was from Allāh and that Muhammad (*) was a prophet of Allāh, some of the Makkan verses challenged the Arabs to imitate the Qur’ān. Since the Arabs were unable to produce a chapter similar to the smallest chapter of the Qur’ān, the miraculous nature of the Qur’an and its divine origin were clearly proven to the people at that time. 

6. The People of Old: The Makkan verses often mentioned historical examples of earlier civilisations, like the ‘Ad and the Thamūd as a warning to those who had rejected the message of Islām. The verses spoke about the wonders of the ancient civilisations and how they were destroyed when the people disobeyed Allāh and denied His blessings. 

7. Imān: Makkan verses concentrated on principles which would build the imān (faith) of the early Muslims. These verses spoke of the importance of fearing Allāh and were often filled with advice about being patient, perseverant, cruthful and trustworthy, in order to build the moral and spiritual character of the early Muslims, who were in a minority and under great pressure from Makkan society. 

8. Short Verses: The Makkan sūrahs usually had short verses, catchy rhymes, and a very strong rhythm. These qualities were meant to catch the attention of listeners who were basically opposed to the message of Islām. The verses had to be short because the disbelieving audience would not be willing to listen to long, drawn-out statements. As soon as they heard any of the Qur’ān, they would stick their fingers in their ears and turn away. 

Characteristics of Madinah Revelations – A COMMENTARY ON SURAH AL-BURUJ

1. Laws: Once the Prophet (s) became ruler over the Muslims of Madinah, as well as the Jews and che Arab idol worshippers who lived there, a constitution was drawn up and a system of justice was established. Thus, the verses during the Madinan stage contained the many social, economic and spiricual laws which were necessary for the organisation and development of an Islamic state. It was during this period that the last three pillars of Islām: zakāh, șawm and haij, were revealed. Likewise, it was during this period that drinking alcohol, eating swine and gambling were all forbidden. 

2. People of the Book: In Madinah, Muslims came in contact with the Jews for the first time. Thus, a number of Madinan verses represented answers to the many quescions raised by the Jews. The Muslims of Madinah also came in contact with the Chriscians on a larger scale. As a result of that, we find a number of Madīnan verses clarifying Christian misconceptions about Prophet Jesus and Allāh. 

3. The Munāfigūn: In Makkah, Muslims were oppressed and attacked, so no one would enter Islām unless he truly believed. On the other hand, the Muslims of Madīnah were strong and they ruled the city. Thus, we find some people entering Islām in order to benefit from its strength and to oppose it from within. Thus, che verses of the Madīnan stage warned the Muslims about the dangers of the hypocrites and caught them how to deal effectively with them. 

4. Jihād: During the Makkan period, Muslims were forbidden to fight the idolaters because they were a minority and could easily have been completely wiped out. Also, this was a scage where the believers’ characters were being forged. During the Madinan stage, a series of battles were fought against the forces of disbelief, until finally Makkah was conquered and the whole of the Arabian Peninsula came under the rule of Islām. Thus, a number of the Madīnan verses caught Muslims the Islamic principles of war. 

5. Long Verses: Madinan verses tended to be longer than those of Makkah. The need to catch che attention of unwilling listeners was no longer there, because Islām had become strong and its followers were many. Thus, the audience at this stage was quite willing to listen attentively to longer verses reaching the vital laws of Islām. 

6. Order of the Sürahs: Although all of the Makkan verses were revealed during the same period, they were neither memorised nor written in the same order in which they were revealed. Thus, when the revelation of the Qur’ān was complete, Makkan verses could be found within Madinan surahs and Madinan verses within Makkan sūrahs. The Prophet (E) ordered the verses and surahs of the Qur’ān according to Allāh’s command. The reason for the mingling may have been that the verses were revealed according to the needs of a developing community, whereas the order for reading purposes was varied to make it clear that the Qur’ān is not a mere historical document. By divorcing the verses from the chronological order of their revelacion, the general and universal aspects of their message are emphasized. (Usool at-Tafseer, pp. 204-217) 

Sürah al-Burūj in the Sunnah

Abū Hurayrah related that Allāh’s Messenger av en used to recite Was Samā’i dhātil-Burūj and Was-Samā’i wat-Tariq in the prayers of ‘Ishā.(( Musnad Ahmad, vol. 2, p. 327)) And Jābir ibn Samurah stated that the Prophet () used to recite Was Samā’i wat-Tāriq and Was-Samā’i dhātil-Burūj in the prayers of Zuhr and `Asr ((Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitāb al-Salāt (805) and Sunan al-Nasā’ī, Kitāb al-Şalāc)),  ((Farḥ al-Qadir, vol. 5, p. 547. ))

وَالسَّمَاءِ ذَاتِ الْبُرُوجِ

I swear by the sky possessing constellations, 

Ibn Kathir said: “Allāh swears by the heaven and its constellations. The burāj are the giant stars, as Allāh states: 

تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ فِي السَّمَاءِ بُرُوجًا وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا سِرَاجًا وَقَمَرًا مُّنِيرًا (61

Blessed is He Who placed in the sky stars and among 

them a lamp and a shining moon.” 

(Sūrah al-Furqān, 25: 61) 

The description of the sun and moon here is considered among the scientific miracles of the Qur’ān. The sun is described 1,400 years ago as a lamp or a source of light and the moon shining reflected light. It is only in relatively recent cimes after the discovery of the telescope that scientists came to know that the sun produces its own light while the moon reflects the light of the sun and does not produce its own light. 

Ibn ‘Abbās, Mujāhid, al-Dahḥāk, al-Hasan, Qatādah and al-Suddi all said that the burāj are stars.((Tafsir al-Qurtubi, vol. 19, p. 200.)) Ibn Jarir chose the view that it meant the twelve positions of the sun and moon. The sun travels through one buri each month and the moon travels through one every two-and-a-third days, making a total of twenty-eight positions, and it is hidden for two nights.((Tafsir al-Tabari, vol. 24, p. 332.))

Yusuf Ali translates the word “burūjas “the Zodiacal signs,” while Pickthall translates it as “Mansions of the Stars,” but says in his introduction to the sūrah that it “is applied to the signs of the zodiac.” Thus, according to them, Allāh is making an oath by the zodiacal signs. Some English-speaking Muslims have taken this to be indirect support for astrology. However, “burūj” originally only meant “star configuration,” and it was not until later times that it was used to refer to the imaginary figures of the zodiac that pagan Babylonians and Greeks superimposed on them. Astrology has been forbidden by the Prophet o no) in no uncertain terms, as it falls under the general prohibition of visiting fortune-tellers. The Prophet (t) said, 

Whoever…visits a fortune-teller (and believes in what he says) ((This addition is from Abū Dāwūd’s version.)) has disbelieved in what was revealed to Muḥammad.”((Collected by al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Mājah and Sunan Abu Dawud, vol. 3, p. 1095, no. 3895 and authencicated in Şahih Sunan Abi Dāwūd, vol. 2, p 739, no. 3304. ))

Ibn al-Qayyim commented on this verse saying: Almighty Allāh said: “I swear by the sky possessing mansions,” in which the sun and moon descend. Burūj is also explained as stars or one of their forms, or by great mansions, all of which are among the signs of Allāh’s power, and proofs of His unique unity (wadāniyyah). For the sky is a globe, round in shape, whose parts resemble each other and whose sides are indistinguishable from each other in length, width and position. Constellations of varying forms and sizes are placed within this globe 

which could not possibly exist without a designer. And it is impossible that its designer would be incapable, without knowledge or intent, unloving, unwise, and inseparable from what He designed. 

These would all be among things which go against natural laws. (Yet, that is the claim of] the atheists and philosophers who do not accept that the world has a Lord, separate from it, able, acting by choice, aware of its details, wise, arranging and administering it. Thus, the constellations of the sky are the mansions in which they exist or in which the stars move, making them among the greatest of His signs. Consequently, He swore by the (constellations) along with the sky.”||| 

Elsewhere in the Qur’ān, Allāh has referred to the greatness and enormity of the sky, in order to put arrogant human beings in their proper place. 

ا أَأَنتُمْ أَشَدُّ خَلْقًا أَمِ السَّمَاءُ ۚ بَنَاهَا (27)

“Are you more difficult to create, or is the heaven that 

He constructed?” (Sūrah al-Nāzi’āt, 79:27) 

لَخَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ أَكْبَرُ مِنْ خَلْقِ النَّاسِ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (57)

“The creation of the heavens and earth is indeed greater than the creation of humankind, but most humans do not realize it.” (Sūrah Ghāfir, 40: 57)

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