People of the Garden

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Allah the Almighty says:
{Verily, We have tried them as We tried the people of the garden, when they swore to pluck the fruits of the (garden) in the morning. Without saying: Insha'Allah (If Allah wills). Then there passed by on the (garden) a visitation (fire) from your Lord at night and burnt it while they were asleep. So the (garden) became black by the morning, like a pitch dark night (in complete ruins). Then they called out one to another as soon as the morning broke. Saying: "Go to your tilth in the morning, if you would pluck the fruits. " So they departed, conversing in secret low tones (saying): No Miskin (poor man) shall enter upon you into it today. And they went in the morning with strong intention, thinking that they have power (to prevent the poor taking anything of the fruits therefrom). But when they saw the (garden), they said: "Verily, we have gone astray." (Then they said): "Nay! Indeed we are deprived of (the fruits)!" The best among them said: "Did I not tell you: why say you not: Insha' Allah (If Allah wills)." They said: "Glory to Our Lord! Verily, we have been Zalimun (wrong-doers)." Then they turned one against another, blaming. They said: "Woe to us! Verily, we were Taghun (transgressors and disobedient). We hope that our Lord will give us in exchange a better (garden) than this. Truly, we turn to our Lord (wishing for good that He may forgive our sins and reward us in the Hereafter). Such is the punishment (in this life), but truly the punishment of the Hereafter is greater if they but knew}. (Al-Qalam, 1733)

This is an example set by Allah the Almighty for the polytheists of Quraish as He favored them with sending the honorable and great Prophet, Muhammad (Peace be upon him), but they belied him and rejected what he had brought them. Almighty Allah, says: {Have you not seen those who have changed the Blessings of Allah into disbelief (by denying Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his Message of Islam), and caused their people to dwell in the house of destruction? Hell, in which they will burn, -and what an evil place to settle in!}. (Ibrahim, 28, 29) Ibn 'Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) said: They are the polytheists of Quraish whom were likened to the people of the garden that contained various fruits and plants that were ripe and the time of their harvesting has come. Thus, He, Glory be His, says: {When they swore} secretly {to pluck the fruits of the (garden)} i.e. to harvest it; {in the morning} in order not to be seen by either a poor, or a needy and be forced to donate to or give them any of its fruits. So, they swore to this without saying "If Allah wills". Consequently, Allah the Almighty disabled them and sent over their garden fire that burnt it and left nothing thereof. He, Glory be His, says: {Then, there passed by on the (garden) a visitation (fire) from your Lord at night and burnt it while they were asleep. So the (garden) became black by the morning, like a pitch dark night (in complete ruins)}.

Allah the Almighty says: {Then they called out one to another as soon as the morning broke}, i.e. they got up in the morning and they called out one to another saying: {Go to your tilth in the morning, if you would pluck the fruits} , i.e. go early to your garden and pluck the fruits before the poor and needy persons come to ask you for charity. The story goes: {So they departed, conversing in secret low tones}, i.e. talking one to another in low tones saying: {No Miskin (poor man) shall enter upon you into it today} , i.e. they agreed upon that and made mutual consultations thereto. The story goes on: {And they went in the morning with strong intention, thinking that they have power (to prevent the poor taking anything of the fruits therefrom)} , i.e. they went forth with seriousness, power and strong bad intention.  

`Ikrimah and Ash-Shu`abi said: {And they went in the morning with strong intention }, i.e. rage and bad intention against the poor. {But when they saw the (garden)}, i.e. when they reached their garden and found what had happened to it, upon this {they said: Verily, we have gone astray}, i.e. we have lost our way to our own garden, then they said: {Nay! Indeed we are deprived of (the fruits)!}, i.e. we have been punished because of our bad intentions and were deprived of the blessing of our tilth.

And, {the best among them said} Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him), Mujahid and others said: He was the best and the most moderate and just one among them all. {Did I not tell you: why say you not: Insha'Allah (If Allah wills)}, it was said: To say a good word instead of what you have intended. {They said: "Glory to Our Lord! Verily, we have been Zalimun (wrong-doers)." Then they turned one against another, blaming. They said: "Woe to us! Verily, we were Taghun (transgressors and disobedient)} , they regretted and showed sorrow when both could do them nothing, and they confessed their sinful deed after they had been punished and all that went in vain.

It was said: That they were brothers and they inherited that garden from their late father who used to give much and much in charity. But, when they possessed the garden they denied the acting of their late father and intended to deprive the poor of its fruits. Thereupon, Allah the Almighty punished them and gave them the severest of penalties. For this, Allah the Almighty commanded that charity must be taken out of fruits and it is preferably to be paid on the day of harvesting. He says: {Eat of their fruit when they ripen, but pay the due thereof (its Zakah, according to Allah's Orders l/lOth or 1/20th) on the day of its harvest}. (Al-An'am, 141)

It was said: They were from the Yemen, from a town called "Darwan". It was also said: They were from Abyssinia. Allah knows best!
Allah the Almighty says: {Such is the punishment} , i.e. like this We punish whose who disobey Our Command and does not show kindness to the needy from among Our creatures. {But truly the punishment of the Hereafter is greater} than that of the present life {if they but knew}.

This story resembles Allah's Saying: {And Allah puts forward the example of a township, that dwelt secure and well-content: its provision coming to it in abundance from every place, but it (its people) denied the Favors of Allah (with ungratefulness). So Allah made it taste extreme of hunger (famine) and fear, because of that (evil, i.e. denying Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) which they (its people) used to do. And verily, there had come unto them a Messenger (Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) from among themselves, but they denied him, so the torment overtook them while they were Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers)}. (An-Nahl, 112, 113) It was said that this example was of the people of Mecca set for themselves and verily, there is no contradiction in this. Allah knows best!

By: Ibn Katheer Translated by Ali As-Sayed Al-Halawani

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