Watch Dr Musharraf Hussain sharing his thoughts and analysis of Surat Al-Mutaffifin. This is a late Makkan surat, condemning cheating traders and shopkeepers who were dishonest in their dealings with others. This picture of a dishonest person isn’t limited to commercial transactions but is also relevant to people who are dishonest in other aspects of life, both in seventh-century Arabia and today.
The surat, interestingly, doesn’t mention the rope makers, tanners and perfume sellers working in Hijaz. Why does it single out the merchants, bankers and bookkeepers? Possibly because they have more opportunities to cheat, exploit the weak and perpetrate injustices. Recall the financial crisis of 2008, which affected economies around the world. Who was responsible for that? Such injustices are committed by those who deny Judgment Day and feel they can swindle and cheat without consequence. “Don’t they believe they will be resurrected on a Grand Day?” (4-5).
The surat speaks of the effects of such conduct on hearts and minds: “their hearts are coated with rust, because of what they did” (14). The Messenger ﷺ said, “When a person commits a sin, a black spot appears on the heart. If he repents it will be removed, but if he continues doing evil, more spots appear until the entire heart is covered” (Ibn Majah). This encrusted, rust-coated, stained heart will lead to dishonesty and evil actions. The consequences in the Hereafter will be dire: those guilty of such crimes will burn in Hell. These are contrasted with people of faith and honest behaviour, who will enjoy the delights of Paradise.
In the name of Allah, the Kind, the Caring
Observation of the goings-on of the cheaters
1 Woe to the cheats; 2 the ones who demand full measure from people, 3 but when they measure and weigh for others, they give less. 4 Don’t those double dealers believe they will be resurrected 5 on a Grand Day? 6 The Day when people will stand before the Lord of the worlds.
How evil deeds harden the heart
7 The written record of the wicked is in Sijjeen – 8 and what can explain Sijjeen to you? 9 It’s a written document. 10 It will be too bad for the deniers that Day, 11 who deny Judgment Day. 12 Only the wicked transgressor denies it. 13 When Our Scriptures are read to him, he says, “These are fables of the ancients!” 14 Moreover, their hearts are coated with rust because of what they did. 15 Never! On that Day, they will be shut out from seeing their Lord, 16 then they will enter Hell. 17 It will be said to them: “This is what you used to deny.”
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