English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 95: At-Tin — The Fig (Revealed at Makkah: 8 verses)

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Introduction:

This chapter draws a comparison between the Mosaic system — of which the fig is a symbol, providing the name of this chapter — and the Islamic system to show that man can rise to the highest degree of eminence by following and acting on the right principles, and he degrades himself to the lowest if he is not guided by the right principles, or being so guided, he fails to act upon them. The chapter belongs to the same early period as those preceding it.

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Translation:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

95:1 By the fig and the olive!
95:2 And mount Sinai!
95:3 And this city made secure!1
95:4 Certainly We created man in the best make.
95:5 Then We reduce him to the lowest of the low,
95:6 except those who believe and do good; so theirs is a reward never to be cut off.2
95:7 So who can belie you after (this) about the Judgment?
95:8 Is not Allah the Best of the judges?3

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Commentary:

  1. The fig and the olive stand respectively for the law given on Mount Sinai and that revealed in the sacred city of Makkah. A comparison between Moses and the Holy Prophet Muhammad is introduced in very early revelations, as here and in 52:1–6 and 73:15. The incident of Jesus approaching a fig tree, and, upon finding no fruit on it, cursing it and the tree withering away (Matthew, 21:18–19), symbolised the passing away of the law given on Mount Sinai. The olive is com­pared here with the law of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. This is explained by a later revelation according to which the light of Islam is “lit from a blessed olive tree, neither eastern nor western” (24:35). The comparison shows that, whereas the law given on Mount Sinai passed away like the fig tree in Jesus’ parable, the new light, lit from the blessed olive tree, was never to be extin­guished, because it belonged neither to the East nor to the West, but was meant for all mankind in all ages.
  2. By man’s being created in the best make is meant his enormous capa­bility for advancement. When he does not take advantage of the opportunity offered to him, he is reduced to the lowest of the low. With unthought of advance­ment in science, people are even today flying at each other’s throats like the beasts of the jungle, because they are not guided by Divine revelation.
  3. The Judgment is as well a judgment of the guilty in this life as in the next.

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