The Tafsir of Surat Al-Ma`un
(Chapter - 107)
Which was revealed in Makkah
[بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ ]
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
[أَرَءَيْتَ الَّذِى يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ - فَذَلِكَ الَّذِى يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ وَلاَ يَحُضُّ عَلَى طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّينَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَن صَلَـتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ يُرَآءُونَ وَيَمْنَعُونَ الْمَاعُونَ ]
(1. Have you seen him who denies Ad-Din) (2. That is he who repulses the orphan,) (3. And urges not the feeding of Al-Miskin.) (4. So, woe unto those performers of Salah,) (5. Those who with their Salah are Sahun.) (6. Those who do good deeds only to be seen,) (7. And withhold Al-Ma`un.)
Allah says, "O Muhammad! Have you seen the one who denies the Din'' Here the word Din means the Hereafter, the Recompense and the Final Reward.
[فَذَلِكَ الَّذِى يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ ]
(That is he who repulses the orphan, )
meaning, he is the one who oppresses the orphan and does not give him his just due. He does not feed him, nor is he kind to him.
[وَلاَ يَحُضُّ عَلَى طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ ]
(And urges not the feeding of Al-Miskin.) This is as Allah says,
[كَلاَّ بَل لاَّ تُكْرِمُونَ الْيَتِيمَ - وَلاَ تَحَاضُّونَ عَلَى طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ ]
(Nay! But you treat not the orphans with kindness and generosity! And urge not one another on the feeding of Al-Miskin!) (89:17-18)
meaning, the poor man who has nothing to sustain him and suffice his needs. Then Allah says,
[فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّينَ - الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَن صَلَـتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ ]
(So, woe unto those performers of Salah, those who with their Salah are Sahun.)
Ibn `Abbas and others have said, "This means the hypocrites who pray in public but do not pray in private.''
Thus, Allah says,
(unto those performers of Salah,) They are those people who pray and adhere to the prayer, yet they are mindless of it. This may either be referring to its act entirely, as Ibn `Abbas said, or it may be referring to performing it in its stipulated time that has been legislated Islamically. This means that the person prays it completely outside of its time. This was said by Masruq and Abu Ad-Duha.
`Ata' bin Dinar said, "All praise is due to Allah, the One Who said,
[عَن صَلَـتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ]
(with their Salah are Sahun.) and He did not say, `those who are absent minded in their prayer.'''
It could also mean the first time of the prayer, which means they always delay it until the end of its time, or they usually do so. It may also refer to not fulfilling its pillars and conditions, and in the required manner. It could also mean performing it with humility and contemplation of its meanings. The wording of the Ayah comprises all of these meanings. However, whoever has any characteristic of this that we have mentioned then a portion of this Ayah applies to him. And whoever has all of these characteristics, then he has completed his share of this Ayah, and the hypocrisy of actions is fulfilled in him. This is just as is confirmed in the Two Sahihs that the Messenger of Allah said,
«تِلْكَ صَلَاةُ الْمُنَافِقِ، تِلْكَ صَلَاةُ الْمُنَافِقِ، تِلْكَ صَلَاةُ الْمُنَافِقِ، يَجْلِسُ يَرْقُبُ الشَّمْسَ، حَتَّى إِذَا كَانَتْ بَيْنَ قَرْنَي الشَّيْطَانِ قَامَ فَنَقَرَ أَرْبَعًا، لَا يَذْكُرُ اللهَ فِيهَا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا»
(This is the prayer of the hypocrite, this is the prayer of the hypocrite, this is the prayer of the hypocrite. He sits watching the sun until it is between the two horns of Shaytan. Then he stands and pecks four (Rak`ahs) and he does not remember Allah (in them) except very little.)
This Hadith is describing the end of the time for the `Asr prayer, which is the middle prayer as is confirmed by a text (Hadith). This is the time in which it is disliked to pray. Then this person stands to pray it, pecking in it like the pecking of a crow. He does not have tranquility or humility in it at all. Thus, the Prophet said,
«لَا يَذْكُرُ اللهَ فِيهَا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا»
(He does not remember Allah (in them) except very little.)
He probably only stands to pray it so that the people will see him praying, and not seeking the Face of Allah. This is just as if he did not pray at all. Allah says,
[إِنَّ الْمُنَـفِقِينَ يُخَـدِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ وَإِذَا قَامُواْ إِلَى الصَّلَوةِ قَامُواْ كُسَالَى يُرَآءُونَ النَّاسَ وَلاَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً ]
(Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them. And when they stand up with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allah but little.) (4:142)
and Allah says here,
[الَّذِينَ هُمْ يُرَآءُونَ ]
(Those who do good deeds only to be seen,)
Imam Ahmad recorded from `Amr bin Murrah that he said, "We were sitting with Abu `Ubaydah when the people mentioned showing-off. A man known as Abu Yazid said, "I heard `Abdullah bin `Amr saying that the Messenger of Allah said,
«مَنْ سَمَّعَ النَّاسَ بِعَمَلِهِ، سَمَّعَ اللهُ بِهِ سَامِعَ خَلْقِهِ، وَحَقَّرَهُ وَصَغَّرَه»
(Whoever tries to make the people hear of his deed, Allah, the One Who hears His creation, will hear it and make him despised and degraded.)''
from what is related to his statement,
[الَّذِينَ هُمْ يُرَآءُونَ ]
(Those who do good deeds only to be seen.)
is that whoever does a deed solely for Allah, but the people come to know about it, and he is pleased with that, then this is not considered showing off.
[وَيَمْنَعُونَ الْمَاعُونَ ]
(And withhold Al-Ma`un.) This means that they do not worship their Lord well, nor do they treat His creation well. They do not even lend that which others may benefit from and be helped by, even though the object will remain intact and be returned to them. These people are even stingier when it comes to giving Zakah and different types of charity that bring one closer to Allah.
Al-Mas`udi narrated from Salamah bin Kuhayl who reported from Abu Al-`Ubaydin that he asked Ibn Mas`ud about Al-Ma`un and he said, "It is what the people give to each other, like an axe, a pot, a bucket and similar items.''
This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Ma`un, and all praise and thanks are due to Allah.
 At-Tabari 24:632.
 At-Tabari 24:631.
 Al-Qurtubi 20:212.
 Fath Al-Bari 6:386, and Muslim 1:434.
 Ahmad 2:212.
 At-Tabari 24:639.