Surat ul Insaan [76:31] – Either grateful or ungrateful.
This Surah Al Mubarak is known by two names Al Insaan and Ad-Dhahr, after the words occurring in the first verse. It is a Makkan Surah, and its style is very similar to the rest of the Makkan Surah, and different to the Madanee Surah.
The Surah informs man of his true position in the world and it tells him that if he understood his true position and adopted the attitude of gratefulness, his ending would be one of goodness.
إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا
innaa hadaynaahu-s sabeela immaa shaakiran wa immaa kafoora
Verily, We have shown him the way: [and it rests with him to prove himself] either grateful or ungrateful.
innaa – this is a particle of emphasis. Here the subject is “we” the plural of majesty. Because this pronoun “naa” is with a noon like inna then it has combined in such a way that they share the noon rather than adding a separate one. According to grammar the two can also be combined to make it innanaa but this is more common. Starting the sentence in this way makes it a strong statement, both because of the emphasis and the majestic plural.
hadaynaahu – We guided him. Again this naa is because of majestic plural and it refers to Allah. Hu is the object and his refers to man. It is a singular but referring generally to mankind. Hadaa means to guide on the right way, to direct, to show the way, to lead. This verb is a “final weak” verb which is why the 3rd root changed from alif maqsoora in its simplest form to a yaa when it is conjugated here. Words from this root appear frequently throughout Quran, many times it is in reference to Quran itself to remind that this revelation is a guidance, that this is the right way.
eg: dhaalika al kitaaba laa rayba feehi hudan lil muttaqeen
And also it comes in reference to previous revelations like what was sent to Moosa alayhi salam and others.
as-sabeel – the way, the path, the road. It is mansub because it is the maf’ool al-thaani / second object. The verb hadainaa here has two objects: the haa which is attached to the verb and sabeel which comes after that. This is the same word which we see in the phrase “fee sabeel illaah” in the cause of Allah/for the sake of Allah. But the meaning here of “innaa hadaynaahus sabeela” has a meaning similar to the idea of “as-siraa6 ul mustaqeem” which is mention in al fatihah because this is referring to the right way or the right path.
In tafseer ibn katheer it says that this innaa hadaynaahus sabeela means “We explained it to him, made it clear to him and showed it to him”
Another book gives its meaning in Arabic to be “bayyannaa lahu 6areeq al hidaayah wadh dhalaal” meaning We made clear to him the path of guidance and misguidance.
إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ
Verily, we guided him to the way, this is to say that Allah swt did not just leave insan to himself after giving him the powers of knowledge and reason, but also He swt guided him so that he knows which is the path of gratefulness and which is the path of ungratefulness. Thus when insan makes a choice he is fully responsible for his choice for he knows both paths.
Allah swt speaks here in the majestic sense, demonstrating and highlighting His awe ability and awe knowledge of everything. Insan was thus shown by the One Al Mighty, thus there is no flaw in the way man is shown or the detail of the path is shown to him.
immaa – either. This particle is used to introduce each of the two choices.
shaakiran – grateful, thankful. This word has become mansoob, in accusative case (with the fathas.) This primarily would refer to gratitude towards Allah, which is by believing in Him, obeying Him, remembering His favours, feeling thankful towards Him and the likes of that. The opposite of which would be disbelief. Allah has an attribute with the same root, which is Ash-Shakoor. The meaning of that is stronger and more emphasised than shaakir because of the pattern or shape of the word. Shukoor is in the pattern of fa3ool which was discussed in some previous thread, whereas Shaakir is a simple active participle.
wa immaa – this introduces the other choice or option.
kafoora – ungrateful. This is very much linked with disbelief; it is from the same root kafara. That is because disbelief in Allah is an extreme of ingratitude towards Him. This word is in the same pattern fa3ool as mentioned above, so this meaning is stronger than for shaakiran, showing the severity of this trait.
A similar meaning to this ayah comes elsewhere in Quran such as:
And We guided him to the two ways. [90:10] meaning, `We explained to him the path of good and the path of evil.’
The main theme to this is about free choice. Allah has not made just one way and forced everyone to obey Him. We are not like angels who don’t have a choice in what they do, but it is up to us which of the two paths we want. Some examples are also given in Quran about those who were guided but they rejected that:
وَأَمَّا ثَمُودُ فَهَدَيْنَـهُمْ فَاسْتَحَبُّواْ الْعَمَى عَلَى الْهُدَى
And as for Thamud, We guided them but they preferred blindness to guidance. [41:17]
إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا
Whether he be grateful or ungrateful.
After Allah swt shows man the path, then he leaves his destiny in his own hand. As the hadith in Muslim from Abu Malik Al Ash’ari “All of mankind wakes up in the morning the merchant of his own soul. So he either imprisons it or sets it free”.
As Ibn Katheer RA says ‘This is his decree, thus with this he is either wretched or happy’.
Allah swt does not only give insan knowledge so that he may make the right choice, Allah swt equips insan with many faculties to aid him in being grateful and making the right choice.
Allah swt has given insan faculties of knowledge, reason and moral sense.
Allah swt has given man the faculty of Conscience (Lawwamah), which checks and probes him on evils he wants to commit.
Allah swt has put in the environment and universe countless signs that remind man of the bounties of Allah swt and guide him to being grateful, like hints in a test.
Allah swt reminds him of history and experience in his own life, again reminding him of the right path and to be grateful.
Finally Allah swt sent books, Prophets to remind insan of the path and how to be grateful.
This all together adds up to why Allah swt says ‘inaa hadayna hussabeela”. Allah swt showed insan the way not by one form of guidance but by many, and thus the majestic plural emphasis that, that it is totally encompassing, that insan has no excuse for his misguidance and ungratefulness, if that be the path he chooses.
This also links with the Ayah wa law yu ajilullahu linas…Allah swt rushes to us goodness, He swt provides us so much support in guidance, yet insan still is distracted. If all this good in the form of support, faculties and reminders did not exist one can only imagine what our condition would have been. Therefore even for those who are guided and grateful about it, it is only by His swt mercy that it is such and not any achievement on our behalf.
wa minallahi ta ala at-Tawfeeq wal hidayah And Allah knows best.