Sura Taha

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Sura Taha is the 20th Sura and a Makki Sura of the Qur'an, located in the 16th juz' thereof. It is called “Taha” because it opens with the disjoined letters of “ta” and “ha.” The themes of the sura include the communication of the revelation to people by the Prophet (s) without troubling himself, the command to moderateness in everything even prayers and worships, the story of Adam and his fall from the Heaven, and the story of Moses (a).

As to the virtues of reciting the sura, the Prophet (s) is quoted as saying that if a person recites Surat Taha, God will give him the rewards of all Muhajirun and Ansar in the day of resurrection.

Introduction

Naming

The sura is said to be called “Taha” because it opens with the disjoined letters of “ta” and “ha.” It is also known as “Kalim” which comes from Prophet Moses’s title, that is, Kalim Allah (the one who talked to God), because the sura includes the story of Moses and his talk to God.

Order and Location of Revelation

Sura Taha is a Makki sura. In the order of revelation, it is the 45th sura revealed to the Prophet. In the present order of compilation, it is the 20th sura, located in the 16th juz' of the Qur'an.

Number of Verses and Other Features

Sura Taha has 135 verses, 1534 words, and 5399 letters. With regard to size, it counts as one of the Mu'un Sueas; middle-sized occupying one half of a juz' of the Qur'an. It is the 11th sura opening with disjoined letters.

Contents

According to 'Allama Tabataba'i, the main goal of the sura is to give good tidings and warnings through a narration of the stories of past nations, particularly the story of Prophet Moses. It includes verses that provide obvious proofs for the intellect so that it is compelled to acknowledge monotheism and respond to the invitation of God, and verses informing about circumstances of the day of resurrection and the loss incurred by wrongdoers.

As made explicit in Tafsir-i nimuna, just like other Makki suras, Sura Taha is mostly concerned with the origin (God) and the resurrection, enumerating the fruits of monotheism and miseries of polytheism.

Contents of Sura Taha can be summarized in the following sections:

  • Specification of the duty of the Prophet of Islam—that he should not trouble too much—and his only task is to invite people.
  • A command to moderateness in everything, even in prayers and worships.
  • Reference to the greatness of the Qur'an and some of God’s attributes of beauty (jamal) and majesty (jalal).
  • The story of Moses and his fight against the Pharaoh, magicians, and Samiri in over 80 verses of the sura.
  • Resurrection and some of its features.
  • The story of Adam and Eve in the Heaven, and the story of Iblis’s temptations and their fall to the earth.
  • Awakening warnings and advice to all believers.

Contents of Sura Taha

The Qur'an’s methods for warning people

Introduction; verses 1-8: the goal of the revelation of the Qur'an is to notify people

First method; verses 9-104: the narration of the story of prophets like Moses

Second method; verses 105-114: warning against the fate of actions after the resurrection

Third method; verses 115-129: reminding the consequences of ignoring and turning away from God

Conclusion; verses 130-135: the duties of the Prophet against those who oppose the Qur'an

First subject-matter; verses 9-41: the rise of Moses to prophethood

First subject-matter; verses 107-105: the initiation of the resurrection with the collapse of mountains

First subject-matter; verses 115-123: consequences of the ignorance of God’s command by Adam and Eve

First obligation; verse 130: patience in spite of oppositions

Second subject-matter; verses 42-56: Moses’s mission to invite the Pharaoh to monotheism

Second subject-matter; verse 108: everyone’s humbleness towards God’s command in the day of resurrection

Second subject-matter; verses 124-129: consequences of turning away from the remembrance of God in one’s life

Second obligation; verse 131: ignorance of the apparent power of opponents

Third subject-matter; verses 57-76: the Pharaoh’s magicians believing in Moses

Third subject-matter; verses 109-112: fates of people in the day of resurrection

Third obligation; verse 132: encouraging people to the prayer and servitude of God

Fourth subject-matter; verses 77-98: the worship of a calf by the Children of Israel

Fourth subject-matter; verses 113-114: statement of the way of the reality of resurrection in the Qur'an

Fourth subject-matter; verses 133-135: a reminder of God’s inevitable punishment

Fifth subject-matter; verses 99-104: notification, the goal of narrating the stories of prophets in the Qur'an

Stories and Historical Narrations

The story of the prophethood and propagations of Prophet Moses appears in over 80 verses of Sura Taha. The last verses of the sua are concerned with the story of Prophet Adam and his fall to the earth.

The Story of Moses

  • The fire in the Sacred Valley of Tuwa, Moses’s talk to God and him being selected by God, the miracle of the transformation of Moses’s staff into a dragon, the miracle of the Bright Hand, the command to invite the Pharaoh, Aaron’s accompaniment of Moses (verses 9-32),
  • The story of Moses’s birth, him being thrown into the Nile River by his mother, the arrival of Moses in the Pharaoh’s palace, the return of Moses to his mother (verses 38-40),
  • The murder of an enemy, life in Midian, and selection as a prophet (verses 40-41),
  • Going to the Pharaoh, talk to the Pharaoh, the combat with magicians, the belief of magicians in him, the threats of the Pharaoh (verses 42-73),
  • The Children of Israel crossing the sea and the drowning of the army of the Pharaoh (verses 77-78),
  • The blessings sent down to the Children of Israel, the Samiri’s calf, people’s talk to Aaron, Moses’s objection to Aaron, the conversation between Moses and Samiri (verses 80-97),
  • The story of Adam: the prostration of angels for Adam, Iblis’s refusal to prostrate for Adam, warning to Adam about Iblis, Iblis’s temptation and eating from the tree, fall to the earth (verses 115-123).

Occasions of Revelations of Some Verses

The first verses as well as verse 131 of Sura Taha have occasions of revelations.

Moderateness in Worships

According to hadiths, the Prophet of Islam used to worship too much after the revelation of the Qur'an. He stood on his feet for so long that his feet swelled. Thus, the first verses of Surat Taha were revealed, ordering the Prophet not to suffer such pains for worship and observe moderateness in his praying and worship.

According to the book, Asbab nuzul al-Qur'an, by al-Wahidi al-Nishaburi, Abu Jahl, Nadr b. Harith, and some disbelievers from the Quraysh ironically told the Prophet and his companions that Muhammad had bothered himself by abandoning our religion, and the revelation of the Qur'an led to troubles for Muslims. After that, these verses were revealed, asking the Prophet and Muslims to observe moderateness in their worships and not trouble themselves too much.

Consoling the Prophet

As to the occasion of the revelation of verse 131 of Sura Taha, “Do not extend your glance toward what We have provided certain groups of them as a glitter of the life of this world, so that We may test them thereby …,” Abu Rafi', the servant of the Prophet, said that one day the Prophet had a guest. So, he sent him to a Jew so that he would buy some flour from him on the Prophet’s credit, so that the Prophet would pay for it by the beginning of the moth of Rajab. However, the Jew told him that he would not have a transaction with the Prophet unless he leaves a pawn with him. Abu Rafi' said that when he told the Prophet about the condition, he said that “I swear to God that if he sold the flour to me, I would give a piece of gold to him in place of these clothes or my armor.” After this story, the verse was revealed to comfort and console the Prophet.

Exegetical Points

Standing on the Throne

Quranic exegetes take verse 5 of Sura Taha, “the All-beneficent, settled on the Throne,” as a metaphor for God’s rule of the whole world and His expanded arrangement of all affairs of the world—from the small to the big, and from the earthly to the heavenly—which is indicative of monotheism in Lordship. The attribute, “All-beneficent,” which refer to God’s extensive mercy, is congruent with God’s arrangement and rule of the world, which is the same as God’s settlement on the Throne.

Best Names (Verse 8)

'Allama Tabataba'i has referred to verse 8 of Sura Taha, “Allah—there is no god except Him—to Him belong the Best Names,” as one of the most prominent verses of the sura.

The phrase, “Best Names,” in the verse refers to God’s best names: although all of God’s names are good, some of His names and attributes are more important which are referred to as His “Best Names.” They are said to refer to names that refer to God’s pure perfection and His lack of any flaws, such as Omniscient, Living, and Omnipotent.

Well-Known Verses

The Verse of Opening the Breast

These verses are requests made by Moses from God before his departure to Egypt to talk to the Pharaoh. According to Tafsir al-kashif, because of hardships he suffered in his life, Moses was very impatient and would be angered very soon, citing cases such as Moses killing a follower of the Pharaoh in a fight, impatience for what the Righteous Servant did, and the pulling of the bread of his brother, Aaron, when the Children of Israel worshiped a calf. Thus, he asked God to open his breast, give him a speech power, and a firm heart.

Verse 114

According to Quranic exegeses, whenever Gabriel revealed the Qur'an to the Prophet (s), he hasted when receiving the revelation and began reiterating it to people before letting Gabriel to finish his words, lest he forgets the Qur'an and because of his love for learning the Qur'an and his passion for protecting it for people. Thus, in this verse God asks the Prophet to listen until the revelation comes to an end, and then communicates it to people.

In Majma' al-bayan, three possibilities are mentioned for the command to the avoidance of hastening with the communication of the revelation:

  • The Prophet should not hasten with the recitation of the Qur'an before Gabriel completes the revelation, as is stated in verse 16 of Sura al-Qiyama.
  • The Prophet should not recite the Qur'an for his followers before its meaning is clear to him.
  • The Prophet should not ask for a revelation before a revelation arrives, because God reveals to him based on expediencies.

As to the last phrase of the verse, “and say, ‘my Lord, increase in my knowledge’,” there is a hadith from the Prophet in which he says: “if a day comes in which nothing is increased in my knowledge and I am not closer to God, then the sunrise of that day will not be blessed to me.”

Verse 124

The wretched life in this verse is said to refer to spiritual flaws and lack of spiritual richness and over-dependence on the material world and fear of destruction. He who believes in God and is attached on His essence will be immune to all these worries. Some exegetes say that the “wretched life” comes from earthly laws, rather than heavenly laws, that is, as an effect of actions by people who destroy the truth and justice, and no needy person would remain on the face of the earth had they followed God’s religion.

Jurisprudential Verses

Verses 14, 130, and 132 of Sura Taha are said to be Jurisprudential Verses (ayat al-ahkam). These verses emphasize on performing prayers on different times of days and nights.

Virtues and Effects

As to the virtues of the recitation of Sura Taha, the Prophet of Islam is quoted as saying that if one recites the sura, will be given the rewards of all Muhajirun and Ansar in the day of resurrection. Imam al-Sadiq said: “do no abandon the recitation of Sura Taha, because God loves it, and he who recites it will be loved by God, and he who persists on reciting it, will be given the book of his actions with his right hand, God will not be strict on him, and will give him rewards until he is satisfied.

According to Tafsir al-burhan, the recitation of the sura has effects and blessings such as an easier marriage and the fulfilment of one’s needs.