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What is meant in the Qur'an by

If you cannot do this, and you never will, then beware of the Fire prepared for the disbelievers, the fuel of which is man and stones.

Quran 2:24

The "man and stones" phrase is what is confusing me. Does this simply mean that the fire is fueled by stones. Does this encourage stoning or is there a meaning I'm not seeing?

Thanks.

  • Many scholars consider translating the names of surahs of the quran as wrong, as these names are considered as canonical. – Medi1Saif Oct 25 '17 at 13:37
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This verse you referenced has nothing to do with stoning (ie., punishment for adultery).

The confusion here is stemming from your understanding of "stones". The stones mentioned here are not just random stones such as the ones that are found on the ground [which tend to be used for the God-ordained punishment of stoning (eg, using a large rock/stone)].

The stones mentioned in the verse are referring to the stone idols which people made and worshiped [while it was nothing but a worthless statue with no power to benefit or help them]. These idols will be in Hell alongside these polytheists, fueling Hell. (And possibly, serving as a reminder to these polytheists as to why they are in Hell and that only Allah has power, not idols).

This is proven from another verse:

إنكم وما تعبدون من دون الله حصب جهنم أنتم لها واردون (Indeed, you [disbelievers] and what you worship other than Allah are the firewood of Hell. You will be coming to [enter] it) - Qur'an 21:98.

Hope this helps clear up the confusion. Thanks for asking.

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The phrase وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ ( whose fuel are men and stones ) is found in two places in the Quran: 2:24 and 66:6

There are three major interpretations of what is meant by this phrase in classic tafsirs.

  1. It means normal everyday rocks and is meant to convey the sheer intensity of the fire: that it would even eat away stones, like lava.

    وقيل جميع الحجارة وهو دليل على عظمة تلك النار

    Some said it means all stones and this evidences the greatness of the fire.

    Tafsir al-Baghawi

    وذكر ذلك تعظيما للنار أنها تحرق الحجارة مع إحراقها للناس

    This has been said to mention the greatness of the fire that it will be so severe that alongwith people it will also burn stones.

    Tafsir Qurtubi

  2. It means sulfur or mineral coal like rocks that Allah has specially created for kindling the fire, as mentioned in some traditions from the companions:

    والمراد بالحجارة هاهنا : هي حجارة الكبريت العظيمة السوداء الصلبة المنتنة ، وهي أشد الأحجار حرا إذا حميت ، أجارنا الله منها .

    It means stones of sulfur that are hard, black, very huge and foul-smelling whose fire is very severe. May Allah protect us.

    قال عبد الملك بن ميسرة الزراد عن عبد الرحمن بن سابط ، عن عمرو بن ميمون ، عن عبد الله بن مسعود ، في قوله تعالى : ( وقودها الناس والحجارة ) قال : هي حجارة من كبريت ، خلقها الله يوم خلق السماوات والأرض في السماء الدنيا

    Abdullah Ibn Masud said regarding the verse: Allah created these stones at the same time as he created heavens and earth and made them in the first heaven.

    وقال السدي في تفسيره ، عن أبي مالك ، وعن أبي صالح ، عن ابن عباس ، وعن مرة عن ابن مسعود ، وعن ناس من الصحابة : ( فاتقوا النار التي وقودها الناس والحجارة ) أما الحجارة فهي حجارة في النار من كبريت أسود ، يعذبون به مع النار

    Saadi narrated narrated from Ibn Abbas, Ibn Masud and some other sahabah that in Hell there are these black sulfur rocks whose intense fire would punish the disbelievers.

    Tafsir Ibn-Kathir

    قال ابن عباس وأكثر المفسرين يعني حجارة الكبريت لأنها أكثر التهابا

    Ibn Abbas and a large number of muffasirin narrate that stones means sulfur, because of all rocks it blazes the most.

    Tafsir al-Baghawi

  3. It means stone idols which the pagans worshiped.

    وقيل : المراد بالحجارة الأصنام ، لقوله تعالى : إنكم وما تعبدون من دون الله حصب جهنم أي حطب جهنم

    It was said: Stones means idols, according to the saying of Allah: Indeed, you [disbelievers] and what you worship other than Allah are the firewood of Hell. You will be coming to [enter] it. Had these [false deities] been [actual] gods, they would not have come to it, but all are eternal therein. 21:98-99

    Tafsir Qurtubi

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