Explanation of Sūrah al-Mā'ūn
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-'ālamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam, is His Messenger.
Almighty Allāh Says:
“1. Ara aytallathī yukazzhibu biddīn 2. Fatha likal lathī yaduā’ `ul yatīm 3.Wala yahuddu `āla ta `āmilmiskīn 4.Fawaylun lilmusallīn 5.Allathī na hum `ān salātihimsāhūn 6. Allathī nahum yurāūn 7. Wayam nāū’ nālmā`ūn”
(1.Have you seen the one who denies the Recompense? 2. For that is the one who drives away the orphan 3.And does not encourage the feeding of the poor 4. So woe to those who pray 5. [But] are heedless of their prayer –6. Those who make show [of their deeds] 7. And withhold [simple] assistance.)
[Al-Mā’ūn, 107: 1-7]
1. "Have you seen the one who denies the Recompense?" [Al-Mā'ūn, 107:1] means Allāh asks His Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) if he has seen the one who rejects the Deen – referring to the Appointed Time, the Requital and the Reward.
2. "For that is the one who drives away the orphan." [Al-Mā’ūn, 107:2] That is, he coerces and oppresses the orphan, denying him his rights, and refusing to feed him, or give him any aid.
3. "And does not encourage the feeding of the poor." [Al-Mā’ūn, 107:3] As Allāh Says: "No! But you do not honour the orphan. And you do not encourage one another to feed the poor." [Al-Fajr, 89: 17-18] That is, the one in need, who has nothing, he does not support or maintain him, or attend to his needs.
4. and 5. "So woe to those who solāh. [But] are heedless of their solāh." [Al-Mā’ūn, 107:4-5] According to Ibn `Abbās (radiyallāhu`anhu) and others, this verse refers to the hypocrites who performs the Solāh in public but not in private, and for this reason Allāh Says: "…to those who solāh" refers to ‘who are among those who pray’; but it does not mean ‘everyone who prays’. These people, at first, are steadfast in their solāh, then they become neglectful of them either entirely, as stated by Ibn `Abbās (radiyallāhu`anhu) or they become careless about observing solāh on time until they perform it after the prescribed or appointed time. `Atā' (radiyallāhu`anhu) said: "All praise is due to Allāh who Says: "…heedless of their solāh" rather than neglectful in their solāh." However, this verse is comprehensive and covers both meanings. Whoever is neglectful by delaying his solāt, is careless in implementing the prescribed Sunnahs (recommended supererogatory acts) in the solāt, fulfilling its conditions, or does not observing solāt with a fitting sense of humility and does not reflect on the meaning; that may be considered a hypocrite in his actions as confirmed by the Hadīth (Prophetic saying) that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "This is the solāt of the hypocrite, this is the solāt of the hypocrite: He sits and observes the sun until it is between the horns of Syaitān (about to set), then he quickly prays four raka`at in which he barely mentions Allāh ." [Al-Bukhāri & Muslim]
The prayer referred to is the `Asar (afternoon) Solāh that is delayed until the end of the permitted time which is a time at that is despised to offer solāh, when the hypocrite rapidly performs his solāh (so that his movements resemble the rapid pecking of a chicken), hastily, without a fitting sense of humility. Likewise, the one who performs solāt in order to be seen by others, and not to gain the pleasure of Allāh, is like the one who doesn't offer Solāt at all. Allāh Says: "Indeed, the hypocrites [think to] deceive Allāh, but He is deceiving them. And when they stand for solāt, they stand lazily, showing [themselves to] the people and not remembering Allāh except a little." [Al-Nisā’, 4:142] While Allāh says here what means: "…Who are heedless of their solāh." [Al-Mā’ūn, 107:5]
6. "Those who make show [of their deeds]." [Al-Mā’ūn, 107:6]
Imām At-Tabarāni (rahimahullāh) stated: "The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: "Indeed, in Hell there is a valley (which is so terrible) that the Hellfire wishes, four hundred times a day, that it were not a part of it. It has been prepared for those among the community of Muhammad who perform deeds in order to be seen doing them..."
Imām Ahmad (rahimahullāh) narrated that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "Whoever performs a (good) deed in order to gain a good reputation, Allāh will make him despised and degraded." However, if a person sincerely performs a good deed, solely for the sake of Allāh , that happens to be seen by others and it pleases them, there is no sin for him in it, and the proof is the narration of Abu Hurayrah (radiallāhu`anhu) who said: "I was praying once when a man entered (the mosque), and this pleased me, so I told the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) about it, and he said: "Two rewards have been written for you - the reward of praying in secret and the reward of being seen."
Imām Ibn Jarīr (rahimahullāh) said that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said that: "Those "Who are heedless of their solāh" are those who delay their solāt and do not pray them at the right time." Delaying the solāh may simply mean observing solāh late, or it may mean not performed solāt at all, or it may mean delaying the solāt until the prescribed time has expired.
7. "And withhold [simple] assistance." [Al-Mā’ūn, 107:7]
These people do not behave well in worship, nor do they behave well towards their fellow men; they will not even lend to those in need, though it would be returned to them, nor do they like to pay Zakāh (obligatory alms) or other forms of charity. Ibn Abu Nujayh (rahimahullāh) said that `Ali ibn Abu Talib (radiyallāhu`anhu) said that the word Al-Mā'ūn means Zakāh, and this was also related by Imām As-Suddi (rahimahullāh). This was also attributed by more than one person to ‘Abdullāh Ibn `Umar (radiallāhu`anhu).
Many narrations suggest that the word is more general than this and even includes things commonly shared, such as buckets, spades and axes, etc. It is narrated that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) was asked what Al-Mā`ūn is, to which he replied: "The stone (i.e. pots and pans, etc.), the iron (i.e. axes, spades etc.) and all such things."
[Via Islam web April 18, 2011]