Surah Bayyinah

Surah Bayyinah

Surah Bayyinah (سورة البینة) or Lam Yakun (لم یکن) or Qayyimah (قیمة), as it is also known, is the 98th chapter of the Quran and focuses of the important topic of God providing proofs to the polytheists and disbelievers in relation to His guidance and also defining who are the best and worst of creation.

Facts about Surah Bayyinah

Surah Bayyinah or Lam Yakun or Qayyimah as it is also referred to, is the 98th chapter of the Quran and is a response to the disbelievers claim that if clear proof came to them they would accept the truth. However, as the verses indicate this did not happen. The chapter talks about who the clear proof is and two groups of people, i.e. the best and worst of creation and the rewards the best of people will be blessed with. As one can observe, some important topics are addressed in these verses.

98 Surah no.

Juz’ 30 Place

Madani (Commonly believed) Makki/Madani

100 Order of revelation

8 8 No. of verses

98 No. of words

404 No. of letters


Arabic Text and Translation of Surah Bayyinah


بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيم

In the name of Allah, the most compassionate, most merciful

لَمْ يَكُنِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ مُنفَكِّينَ حَتَّىٰ تَأْتِيَهُمُ الْبَيِّنَةُ ﴿1﴾

The faithless from among the People of the Book and the polytheists were not set apart [from the community of the faithful] until the proof had come to them:

رَسُولٌ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ يَتْلُو صُحُفًا مُّطَهَّرَةً ﴿2﴾

An apostle from Allah reciting impeccable scriptures,

فِيهَا كُتُبٌ قَيِّمَةٌ ﴿3﴾

Wherein are upright writings.

وَمَا تَفَرَّقَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَةُ ﴿ ﴿4﴾

Those who were given the Book did not divide except after the proof had come to them.

وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ حُنَفَاءَ وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاةَ ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ دِينُ الْقَيِّمَةِ ﴿5﴾

Though they were not commanded except to worship Allah, dedicating their faith to Him as men of pure faith, and to maintain the prayer and pay the Zakat. That is the upright religion.

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمْ شَرُّ الْبَرِيَّةِ ﴿6﴾

Indeed the faithless from among the People of the Book and the polytheists will be in the fire of hell, to remain in it [forever]. It is they who are the worst of creatures.

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمْ خَيْرُ الْبَرِيَّةِ ﴿7﴾

Indeed those who have faith and do righteous deeds—it is they who are the best of creatures.

جَزَاؤُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۖ رَّضِيَ اللَّـهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَنْ خَشِيَ رَبَّهُ ﴿8﴾

Their reward, near their Lord, is the Gardens of Eden, with streams running in them, to remain in them forever. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him. That is for those who fear their Lord.

The topics covered in this article and chapter, are the following:

Benefits of Reciting Surah Bayyinah

  • Regarding the virtues of reciting this chapter, the Prophet (peace be on him and his household) narrates that one who recites it will be besides the best of God’s creation in terms of place and condition on Qiyamah
  • Another hadith from him says: “Had people known what merits it contains, they would have left their families and wealth aside and learned it.
  • Ja‘far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (peace be on him) narrates that those who recite this chapter will be free from shirk (polytheism), admitted into the Prophet’s creed and given an easy trial by God. 1

The Mission of Prophet-hood according to Surah Bayyinah

لَمْ يَكُنِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ مُنفَكِّينَ حَتَّىٰ تَأْتِيَهُمُ الْبَيِّنَةُ ﴿1﴾

The faithless from among the People of the Book and the polytheists were not set apart [from the community of the faithful] until the proof had come to them:

Surah Bayyinah confirms the mission and apostleship of Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him and his household) for the whole of mankind and that he has been sent by God for all people. The universality of his mission is a requisite of Divine custom, i.e. the custom of guidance.

This verse proves that his invitation is universal and that it is one that is the best for the entire human society; it makes the beliefs and actions of people and society righteous. 2

Proof over the Disbelievers and Polytheists in Surah Bayyinah

These verses are a proof over the disbelievers through the call of Islam.

These disbelievers include the People of the Book as well as the polytheists; it also includes a group of the People of the Book who abandoned the Proof of God, i.e. the Prophet after receiving proof (that he is Divinely appointed) due to differences rising from egotism. 3

They claimed that we will not believe until a clear evidence is given to us; however, when it was provided, they still remained on their path except for a few who believed. This matter has been indicated in verse 89 of Surah al-Baqarah 4 as well. 5

Divine Custom

Keeping this context in mind, one can conclude from the apparent aspect of this verse of Surah Bayyinah that the Prophet is one of the instances of clear proof over the people and it this proof and the appointment of the Prophet are requisites of the Divine custom (of guidance) or Sunnat Allah (سنّت الله) that is present among creation that warrants that a clear proof comes to the people as it came for the nations before them; however, those previous nations did not use it and differed among themselves. 6

What is Bayyinah?

The chapter is named Bayyinah (بینة) and this word is also used in the first verse of the chapter.

This word means clear proof. 7

What is Qayyimah?

The word ‘qayyimah’ (قیمة) used at the end of the first verse of Surah Bayyinah means straight, firm, valuable and precious. ‘Qayyim’ (قیم) is someone who is compassionate and stands up for the best interests and benefits of others. 8

God’s Guidance in Surah Bayyinah

The word ‘munfakkin’ (منفکّین) used in the verse means the separation of two things that are intensely connected to each other.

In Surah Bayyinah it refers to the fact that Divine guidance is inseparable from guiding these groups of disbelievers until the time when the clear proof is sent for them. 9

Leaving them to their Own State

It is when He has sent his clear proof and they still disbelieve that God’s guidance leaves them to their own state which has been indicated in other verses too; like the following:

وَمَا كَانَ اللَّـهُ لِيُضِلَّ قَوْمًا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَاهُمْ حَتَّىٰ يُبَيِّنَ لَهُم مَّا يَتَّقُونَ ۚ

Allah does not lead any people astray after He has guided them until He has made clear to them what they should beware of. 10

Therefore, once God has sent the clear proof and they believe that Muhammad is the messenger of God and that he is speaking the truth but they disbelieve out of spite and stubbornness; that is when God leaves them to their state. 11

Who is the Clear Proof mentioned in Surah Bayyinah?

رَسُولٌ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ يَتْلُو صُحُفًا مُّطَهَّرَةً ﴿2﴾

An apostle from Allah reciting impeccable scriptures,

According to the verse, the clear proof or bayyinah refers to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his household). 12

The scriptures or ‘suhuf’ (صحف) refers to anything that one writes on (like paper, stone tablets, etc.) and in the verse refers to the parts of the Quran that were revealed. This word has been repeatedly used in the Quran to refer to both the Quran and other Divine Books. 13

Mutahharah (مطهرة) or purified refers to the fact that the Quran is pure from all falsehood, polytheism and trickery.

Upright Writings in Surah Bayyinah

فِيهَا كُتُبٌ قَيِّمَةٌ ﴿3﴾

Wherein are upright writings.

This verse of Surah Bayyinah uses the word ‘kutub’ (کتب) which is the plural of ‘kitab’ (کتاب), i.e. books has been used in the verse. However, this does not refer to the physical book itself but to the writings within the books. Therefore, this word refers to the different papers, tablets and things one writes on, as well as the words and letters written in it; it might also refer to the meanings of those words. It also refers to the judgment of a judge.

It seems that the written word in the verse which is in the parts of the Quran indicates this latter meaning, i.e. the Divine rules and laws which have been issued regarding beliefs and actions. 14

The Attribute of Uprightness in Surah Bayyinah

The reason why one can make this latter conclusion is due to the use of the word ‘qayyimah’ (قیمة) which means upright and derives from standing up for a good cause, its protection, considering its best interests and guaranteeing the happiness in that.

The Divine Books are upright because they uphold the matters of human society and protect the best interests of mankind with the commands, laws and rules related to beliefs and actions. 15

Previous Guidance in Surah Bayyinah

وَمَا تَفَرَّقَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَةُ ﴿ ﴿4﴾

Those who were given the Book did not divide except after the proof had come to them.

Perhaps this verse of Surah Bayyinah seeks to indicate that the differences among the People of the Book before the coming of the Quran was their own fault; since even for them there had been sent a Prophet and clear proof but they did not give it importance.

In other words, even before Islam they were not exempt and separate from the Divine custom of guidance. 16

What about the Disbelievers and Polytheists?

A question comes to mind here and that is why Surah Qayyimah mentions only the People of the Book and not the disbelievers and polytheists in his verse?

The answer is that it does include both groups and not only the People of the Book. A proof for this is the wording of the verse itself. The verse does not say ‘Ahl al-Kitab’ (أهل الکتاب), an expression used in the Quran specifically to refer to the Jews, Christians, Sabeans and Magus; rather, the Quran says: those who were given the Book, and this includes the polytheists and disbelievers as well. 17

Divine Books have been Revealed for All

God has revealed books for all of mankind and has clarified in the verses of the Quran that since the very beginning of the formation of human society and the emergence of brutal and animal differences between them, He revealed a book for them, i.e. legislated laws and rules in order to manage and govern the differences. However, after the coming of Divine legislation, man transmitted those differences to God’s laws as well even though the truth was clear and proof was complete over them. 18

Therefore, all people are included in having Divine Books sent to them.

Groups as a Consequence of Differences

As a result of these differences, people can be divided into three groups:

  • Those who completely forgot that God sent down a book for them;
  • Those who didn’t forget, but their base desires transmitted to religion and they followed a deviated religion as a result;
  • A group who maintained God’s religion as it was without adding or removing anything from it and followed it. 19

Worshipping God in Surah Bayyinah

وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ حُنَفَاءَ وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاةَ ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ دِينُ الْقَيِّمَةِ ﴿5﴾

Though they were not commanded except to worship Allah, dedicating their faith to Him as men of pure faith, and to maintain the prayer and pay the Zakat. That is the upright religion.

Divine mission 20 guarantees the reform of society and is acceptable and understandable for all and therefore, they must not deny it. This is nothing but worship and servitude of God.

There are two attributes these worshippers must have:

  1. Sincerity in worshipping Him
  2. Be hanif (حنیف) 21

Who is Hanif  in Surah Bayyinah?

The word hanif comes from the root word ‘hanafa’ (حنف) which means to incline and deviate from two extremes towards a moderate state and God has referred to Islam as a hanif religion because it commands creation to choose the moderate state in all matters and to not deviate towards either of two extremes. 22

Prayers and Zakat in Surah Bayyinah

These two cases mentioned in Surah Lam Yakun, is an instance of mentioning particular cases of something general, i.e. worship.

The reason why these two are mentioned is because they are two of the pillars of Islam; one is special servitude and attention to God in the form of the Islamic prayers and the other is giving charity to attain His pleasure. 23

‘That is the Upright Religion’

This verse indicates that the monotheistic religion (which the Quran comprises of and contains; the Quran which corroborates the Divine Books before it and according to verse 48 of Surah al-Maidah 24 , is superior to them), through the commands it gives to human society, upholds their affairs and protects their interests; as explained in the following verse:

فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا ۚ فِطْرَتَ اللَّـهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا ۚ لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّـهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ…

So set your heart as a person of pure faith on this religion, the original nature endowed by Allah according to which He originated mankind (There is no altering Allah’s creation; that is the upright religion… 25

Universality of the Mission Stated in Surah Bayyinah

This verse of Surah Bayyinah completes the explanation that the mission of the Prophet is universal and it includes all of mankind in its invitation to Islam.

It tells us that what they have been invited to (the People of the Book and polytheists and disbelievers) is an upright religion which provides for the interests of human societies. Therefore, it is incumbent upon everyone to have faith in such a religion and not disbelieve. 26

Innate Nature

If the verse that is the upright religion of Surah Bayyinah is placed besides this verse from Surah al-Rum, we can conclude that sincere and unembellished worship, relationship with God (prayers) and helping others (Zakat) are all matters of innate nature for human beings. 27

Sincerity of Actions

From the mention of the word sincerity in verse five of Surah Bayyinah, one can conclude the following regarding sincerity:

  1. Monotheism and sincere worship of God is a factor for unity
  2. Sincerity is the secret to durability and continuance. 28

The Best and Worst of People according to Surah Bayyinah

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمْ شَرُّ الْبَرِيَّةِ ﴿6﴾

Indeed the faithless from among the People of the Book and the polytheists will be in the fire of hell, to remain in it [forever]. It is they who are the worst of creatures.

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمْ خَيْرُ الْبَرِيَّةِ ﴿7﴾

Indeed those who have faith and do righteous deeds—it is they who are the best of creatures.

In these two verses, God is advising and warning the disbelievers and giving a promise to the believers.

The Worst of Creation in Surah Bayyinah

The word ‘bariyyah’ (بریة) refers to creatures. 29

The proof and argument for being the worst of people is that a Prophet and book is sent to a person and he understands the reality but remains stubbornly on his own path due to his arrogance. 30

The blessing of guidance is the greatest of Divine blessings and therefore, disbelief in that is the greatest disbelief. 31

The Best of Creation in Surah Bayyinah

The best of creatures are those who are internally believers and monotheists and are apparently and externally good-doers. 32

In these verses good has been confined to the believers just as evil has been confined to the disbelievers. This is shown through the use of the pronoun ‘hum’ (هم) in both the verses. If it had not been so the verse would have read as: they are the worst (or best), but others can be too. But now it indicates that they (only) are the worst (and the best). 33

The Instance of the Best of Creations

According to unanimous narrations, the Prophet said to Ali bin Abi Taleb (peace be on him): you and your followers are the best of creatures (خیر البریة). 34

In another narration, Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari reports that we were with the Prophet when Ali (peace be on him) arrived. The Holy Prophet said: I swear by the one to whom my life belongs, this man and his followers are the only people who will be delivered on Qiyamah. It was then that this verse was revealed and from then onwards, whenever the companions of the Prophet (peace be on him and his household) would see Ali (peace be on him), they would say the best of creatures has arrived. 35

The Rewards of the Best of Creation

جَزَاؤُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۖ رَّضِيَ اللَّـهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَنْ خَشِيَ رَبَّهُ ﴿8﴾

Their reward, near their Lord, is the Gardens of Eden, with streams running in them, to remain in them forever. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him. That is for those who fear their Lord.

The verb ‘khashya’ (خشي) refers to a fear that is based on reverence and majesty 36 ; whereas ‘‘adn’ (عدن) means constancy and establishment. Therefore, when the Heavens are attributed with this adjective, it means eternal and perpetual Heavens.

The fact that later in the verse, again it has been mentioned that the best of creatures are eternally in Heavens that are eternal, is an emphasis on the eternity. 37

God’s Pleasure

God’s pleasure is an Attribute of Action and its embodiment is the reward that He will give to the best of creatures and believers.

Fear of God

The above-mentioned verse of Surah Bayyinah states that the sign of being the best of creatures and attaining the eternal Heaven is ‘khashyat’ (خشیت) i.e. fear of God. 38

In another verse, the Quran states:

…إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّـهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ ۗ…

… Only those of Allah’s servants having knowledge fear Him… 39

According to this verse, only the knowledgeable fear God; on the other hand, not all the scholars and knowledgeable people enter Heaven as the Quran itself considers many of the inhabitants of Hell to be those who have deviated after knowledge and cognizance and neither are all illiterate people in Hell. 40

Not any Knowledge

Therefore, knowledge that results in fear (fear based on majesty and reverence) is not formal knowledge; rather, it is a natural and Divine understanding that results in the illumination of the hearts. 41

Knowledge of God, results in fear of God and fear of God results in belief in Him; i.e., one who fears God is definitely bound to God’s Divinity and Lordship in his heart and outwardly, this is accompanied by good actions. 42

Summary of Surah Bayyinah

The chapter starts off with talking about God’s clear proof of guidance over the people through the person of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) and how the disbelievers refused to accept the truth even after they had seen the clear proof. Surah Bayyinah’s verses also show that Islam is a universal religion for all people and that God has always even before Islam, guided the people and sent down Divine Books, teachings and Prophets for them. The chapter ends with introducing who the best and worst of people are and indicating the blessings and rewards that await the best of creations.


References

  1. Al-Islam
  2. Tabatabai, M. H. (1374 AP). Tafsir al-Mizan. (Transl. by Seyed Muhammad Baqir Musavi Hamedani). Jamiat al-Modarresin Publications. Vol. 20, p. 570.
  3. Ibid. p. 570
  4. … So when there came to them what they recognized, they denied it… (Qarai translation)
  5. Qaraati, M. Tafsir Nur. Surah Bayyinah. Verse 1
  6. Ibid. p. 571
  7. Ibid.
  8. Qaraati, M. Ibid. Verse 1.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Qarai translation. [9: 115]
  11. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid.
  12. Qarashi, A. A. (1377 AP). Tafsir-i Ahsan al-Hadith. Bethat Publications. Vol. 12, p. 309.
  13. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 572
  14. Ibid. pp. 572-573
  15. Ibid. p. 573
  16. Qarashi, A. A. Ibid. p. 310
  17. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 574
  18. Ibid.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid. p. 575
  21. Qarashi, A. A. Ibid. p. 310
  22. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 575
  23. Ibid. pp. 575-576
  24. We have sent down to you the Book with the truth, confirming what was before it of the Book and as a guardian over it. (Qarai translation)
  25. [30: 30]. Qarai translation
  26. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 576 & 577
  27. Qaraati, M. Ibid. Verse 5
  28. Ibid.
  29. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 577
  30. Qaraati, M. Ibid. Verse 6
  31. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 577
  32. Qarashi, A. A. Ibid. p. 311
  33. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 577
  34. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 578
  35. Ibid. p. 578-579
  36. Qaraati, M. Ibid. Verse 8
  37. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 577
  38. Ibid. p. 578
  39. [35: 28]. Qarai translation
  40. Qaraati, M. Ibid. Verse 8
  41. Ibid.
  42. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 578

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