This chapter is a Makkan revelation. Chapter 105, The Elephant,
made mention of those people who had launched an attack against
the Ka‘bah, the House of Allah, and were themselves annihilated.
This chapter speaks of those who guarded the House of Allah with
the result that they lived in peace and were free from anxiety regarding
their daily sustenance.
|Bismillah ir Rahman
||In the name of Allah,
the Beneficent, the Merciful.
|Li ilafi Quraish
|| 1. For the protection
of the Quraish
|| 2. Their protection
during their journey in the winter and the summer.
|Falya ‘budu Rabba
|| 3. So let them serve
the Lord of this House
|Al-Ladhi at ‘amahum
minju ‘inw-wa amanahum min khauf
|| 4. Who feeds them and
gives them security against fear.
Quraish was the name of our Holy Prophet’s
tribe. Makkah did not possess cultivable land. It lay in a valley
surrounded by barren hillsides a land that was devoid of
food and so its livelihood depended on trade. Syria lay to
the north of Makkah and was a cold country while Yaman, a warm country,
lay to the south; so in the cold season the Quraish carried on trade
with Yaman and visited Syria for trade when the weather was warm.
As they were the guardians of the Ka‘bah they were treated with
great respect by all Arabia. Looting and killing and fighting raged
in all parts of the country but Makkah enjoyed complete peace because
of people’s reverence for the Ka‘bah. So great was the deference
shown to the Makkans that when they left their homes on trading
expeditions no one hindered them but instead people considered it
an honour to serve them just because they were the protectors of
the Ka‘bah and this reverential treatment is still accorded to any
Arab who comes from Makkah or Madinah.
This chapter speaks of the colossal favour with which
Allah, Most High, blessed the Quraish. For a people to flourish
two things are necessary: a stable society, and trade and commerce.
Further, for this to happen, there are two prerequisites
there must be means for acquiring food and peace must prevail.
Firstly, stable social intercourse cannot exist amongst a people
that is, disparate individuals cannot meet and live together
unless there is peace and provision for feeding themselves.
If there is no peace in a city, then people will flee from there.
Similarly, if there is peace but no provisions for a regular supply
of food, then people will leave their homes in search of jobs and
wages. In fact, on many occasions people leave the country itself.
People cannot prosper in trade unless it is done on a regular and
continuous basis. Whether in winter or summer, nothing must hinder
the free flow of trade. Merchants will derive profit only when their
goods are sold regularly. For example, a person sells his goods
in a foreign country and then buys merchandise there to be sold
in his own country. If the wheels of trade spin like this then profit
will accrue. However, if there are problems and the goods remain
unsold then loss will result. Another necessity for profitable trade
is that travel and transportation should be safe.
Now let us look at the plight of the Quraish. They were living
in a land that produced nothing and in which there was no peace.
Furthermore, there was no safety on the roads. Under these conditions
it was impossible to have social and commercial progress.
Consider now the blessings of Allah: because of the existence of
the Ka‘bah in Makkah, the inhabitants enjoyed complete peace; looting
and fighting flared in every area but they lived in happiness and
peace and could carry on a prosperous trade in all seasons without
interruption and with complete safety in their journeys. All these
favours are recalled in these two verses: in Li ilafi Quraish
(For the protection of the Quraish) and the verse Ilafihim rihlatash-shita‘i
was-saif (Their protection during their journey in the winter
and the summer) refers to their unbroken flow of trade in every
Allah, Most High, reminds the Quraish of His great favour to them,
telling them that in order for them to meet and live together as
a civilized society and to enjoy an uninterrupted cycle of trade
in summer and winter, He has made such provisions for their sustenance
that they no longer had to suffer hunger nor want. Secondly, He
has protected them from all fears and anxieties. The spectre of
hunger disappeared because new friends and business contacts were
made during the Hajj season, trade flourished and Allah had
so arranged matters that He placed two countries in opposite directions
to them so that they could trade during both summer and winter.
In this way, the wheel of trade and profit never ceased turning
and their civilization continued to make rapid progress.
As regards peace, whilst the whole of Arabia was in turmoil and
destruction, they lived in peace in Makkah. They could go on trading
expeditions without fear or anxiety and could travel with their
merchandise without let or hindrance. How stupendous was the favour
of that merciful Lord to the Quraish in providing for their sustenance
and affording them freedom from fear when they lived in such a desolate
place and in such a dangerous country.
So if it is the nature of man to love his Benefactor, then there
was no reason for the Quraish not to cherish love in their hearts
for that Lord Who was so good to them. Again, if anyone showers
such blessings and favours on a nation in making provisions for
them to live together in a peaceful community, and also makes such
arrangements for them to procure their food that they could travel
on trading journeys without interruption and without fear, then
it is inevitable that the hearts of that people would be so filled
with love for this Benefactor that they would consider it a badge
of honour to worship Him and would make more strenuous efforts to
improve their relationship with Him so that His favours to them
might be multiplied. Furthermore, in seeking to draw closer to Him
they should try to inquire into the reasons for the beneficence
of that Lord. That is the reason for the command: Fal ya ‘budu
Rabba hadhal Bait (So let them worship the Lord of that House).
In other words all these favours came about as a result of one
thing the guardianship of Allah’s House, the Ka‘bah, which
was in their city and of which they took care. They were the protective
keepers of the Ka‘bah and derived benefit from that. It was Allah’s
will that peace and security should reign forever in the Ka‘bah.
So whichever people were its custodians, they derived benefit from
it, and the reward for their services and for their upkeep of the
Ka‘bah was that they became the inheritors of honour and respect.
In short, because of their custodianship of the House of Allah,
He provided this barren valley with abundant food and blessed its
people with peace and tranquillity in the midst of fear and danger.
They are told to consider how well Allah looked after His House
and in the face of this evidence they should therefore devote themselves
to the service of the Lord of that House with such devotion that
they would neither worship nor seek any other god. Instead, He and
He alone should dwell in their hearts. So when their hearts become
Houses of Allah, then these hearts will be cared for just as the
Ka‘bah, the House of Allah, is cherished, and they will receive
mental and spiritual benefits. On the one hand they will obtain
spiritual nourishment, that is, mystical knowledge in abundance,
and on the other hand they will be left safe from the attacks of
Satan. If they have to travel to tropical or temperate countries
in search of knowledge, even there they will be preserved from the
machinations of Satan and so their faith and piety will remain intact.
Even more, their intellectual and spiritual knowledge will increase
and they will become the recipients of spiritual favours.
In short, in chapter 105, the Elephant, it was stated that any
attempt to destroy the Holy Prophet (sas) and his companions
was really an attempt to demolish the House of Allah, the Ka‘bah,
for Allah dwells in the hearts of the righteous. So those who are
engaged in plans to destroy the believers will meet the same fate
as that of the Companions of the Elephant, that is, destruction
and abasement. On the other hand there is a promise in this chapter
that those who build Houses of Allah in their hearts will, like
the Quraish, be given abundance of food and will be made free from
fear. And this promise was fulfilled to the letter in the case of
the Quraish who were merely guardians of the physical House of Allah.
How much more will be the blessings if we become custodians of the
spiritual House of Allah in our hearts! This the Holy Prophet and
his companions did and as a result they were endowed with physical
and spiritual sustenance and also peace and serenity to a degree
unparalleled in the history of mankind for they were the true worshippers
of Rabba hadhal Bait (the Lord of this House, the Ka‘bah).
If today we, Muslims, follow their example and make our hearts
the abode of Allah we shall lack neither physical food nor spiritual
sustenance and we shall fear no Satan, whether manifest or hidden.
Further, to whatever continent we may go in search of knowledge
our hearts will never be polluted by satanic insinuations and both
our knowledge and faith will increase.
Every day we stand facing the Ka‘bah in prayer as we worship the
Lord of that House but we do not realize that there is a deeper
significance in prayer in that it is the most effective means of
bringing the Lord of that House into our hearts and also
making our hearts Houses of Allah like the Ka‘bah.
If we should read the experiences of the saints of Islam and learn
how they were lost in love with the Lord of that House with such
purity and devotion, spiritual ecstasy will spontaneously surge
in our hearts. Once the great saint Rabiah Basri (may Allah’s mercy
be on her) set out to perform the Pilgrimage. When she was just
a mile away from the Ka‘bah she saw in a vision that it had come
to her and addressed her thus:
“You have come to me from a long distance, so I have
come here to welcome you.”
Hazrat Rabiah Basri replied:
“I haven’t come for your sake. I have come because of
What a glorious manifestation of deep spiritual knowledge and love
for the Oneness of Allah! When we read anecdotes like this our hearts
are so filled with rapture that we, too, yearn and pray to Allah
that He should grant us the same spiritual blessings.