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#271 [Permalink] Posted on 20th December 2011 07:37
Tafseer Of Surah Aal 'Imraan, Verse 96

"The first house set up for the people is surely the one in Makkah having blessings and guidance for all worlds."[96] (3:96)


The above verse points out to the distinction and superiority of the House of Allah, the Ka'bah, as compared to the houses, and even mosques, of the whole world. There are several reasons for this status, which have been mentioned in this verse, namely:

1. Among the true houses of worship in this world, the Ka'bah enjoys the distinction of being the first.

2. It is full of blessings.

3. It is a source of guidance for the entire world.

The gist of the words used in the verse is that the first House designated for people by Allah is none other than.the one which is in Makkah. It means that the Ka'bah of Makkah is the first House of Worship in this world. One possible interpretation of this phrase may be that the first house of all the houses of the world was made for Divine worship exclusively, in which case, there would have been no place of worship or place of residence prior to it. Adam (peace be upon him) was a prophet of Allah. Given his stature and the eminent position as Allah's vicegerent, it is likely that he, soon after his appearance on the earth, elected to first build the House of Allah even before building his own residence. It is for this reason that Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar, Mujahid, Qatadah and others from among the Companions and their successors are of the opinion that the Ka'bah is the first house of the world. Then, it is also possible that houses where people lived may have already been made earlier but this may have been the first ever House made exclusively for worship. This very view has been reported from Sayyidna 'Ali Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him.

Al-Baihaqi, in his book, Dala'il al-Nubuwwah, has reported on the authority of Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr ibn al 'As Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him that the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him said: 'After the arrival of Sayyidna Adam and Sayyidah Hawwa' (peace be upon them both) into the mortal world, Allah Almighty commanded them through angel Jibra'il that they should build the House of Allah (the Ka'bah). After they had fulfilled the command, they were asked to go round it (in tawaf). They were told that they were the first among people and this house was the first House (of worship) appointed for people.' (Ibn Kathir).

As it appears in some reports, this structure of the Ka'bah built by Sayyidna Adam was there upto the time of Sayyidna Nuh. It collapsed during the Flood and its traces were obliterated. Following that, it was re-built by Sayyidna Ibrahim (A.S) on the same foundations. When the structure collapsed again due to some accident, a group from the tribe of Jurhum raised it once again. When yet another collapse came, the Amalkites rebuilt it. When it collapsed close to the early period of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him, the Quraysh built it all over again in which the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him himself participated and helped place the Black Stone with his blessed hands. But, the structure raised by the Quraysh was a little different from the original foundation laid down by Sayyidna Ibrahim (A.S) in as much as they had left out a section of the House of Allah which is known as Hatim. There were two doors in the original Abrahamic structure of the Ka'bah, one for entry and another on the back for exit. The Quraysh retained just the one door in the east (for entry and exit).

The third change they made was to raise the level of the entry door much higher than the ground level of the House of Allah so that everybody could not go in there easily; this was to restrict the entry only to those who were permitted by Quraysh. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him said to Sayyidah 'A'ishah Radhi-Allahu Anha: Allah be pleased with her: 'I wish I could demolish the resent structure and raise it all over again exactly in accordance with the Abrahimic foundation. By doing this I shall be correcting the arbitrary deviation from the Abrahimic foundation made by the Quraysh, but this action is likely to create a misunderstanding among Muslims who are new and whose knowledge is not yet perfect, therefore, I shall leave it as it is for the time being.' The Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him did not live for very long to implement his wishes in his lifetime.

But, Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn Zubayr Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him, the nephew of Sayyidah 'A'ishah Radhi-Allahu Anha: Allah be pleased with her had heard this saying of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him. When he came to rule Makkah al-Mukarramah following the Khulafa al-Rashidm, he had the structure of the House of Allah demolished and had it rebuilt in accordance with the saying of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him and the original foundation of Sayyidna Ibrahim (A.S). He ruled Makkah al-Mu'azzamah for a brief period only. The tyrant of the Muslim community, Hajjaj ibn Yusuf invaded Makkah and Hadrat 'Abdullah was martyred.

After assuming control of the government, and abhorrent as he was to the idea that this feat of 'Abdullah ibn Zubayr remains a source of fame for the martyred ruler, he started a smear campaign that 'Abdullah ibn Zubayr was wrong in what he did and that the Ka'bah should be kept the way it was left to posterity by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him. Using this excuse, he once again demolished the structure of the House of Allah and had it built anew similar to the one made earlier by the Quraysh during the days of Jahiliyyah. Some Muslim rulers who succeeded Hajjaj ibn Yusuf intended, on the strength of the aforementioned hadith, to rebuild the House of Allah all over again in accordance with the hadith of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him. But, the master-jurist of that period, Sayyidna Imam Malik ibn Anas gave a fatwa to the effect that re-demolishing and re-building the House of Allah at this stage will render the House of Allah a plaything in the hands of rulers who will follow. Every ruler who comes next will do exactly this to earn fame for himself. Therefore, it is appropriate that it be left the way it is. The entire ummah accepted it. This is the reason why the structure built by Hajjaj ibn Yusuf is what remains even to this day. There have been damages, dilapidations and the process of repairs has continued ever since.

These narrations, first of all, tell us that the Ka'bah is the first house of the world, or at least, the first house of worship. While the Holy Qur'an does mention that the House of Allah was built by Sayyidna Ibrahim and Isma'il following His will and command, there are simultaneous indicators suggesting that these revered prophets did not go through the initial layout for its"construction. Instead, they built it in accordance with previous foundations, because the real foundation of the Ka'bah was already there. From what is said in the Holy Qur'an, i.e. (and when Ibrahim was raising up the foundations of the House along with Isma'il - 2:127) we get an indication that 'the Qawa'id or the foundations of the House of Allah were already there. It appears in Surah al-Hajj: (and when we settled for Ibrahim the site of the House - 22:26)

This too is suggestive of the fact that the site of the House of Allah had continued as pre-determined since earlier times. The first verse lends support to the view that its foundations were already there.

When Sayydina Ibrahim (A.S) was commanded to build the House of Allah, as in some reports, he was led by an angel on to the site of the Ka'bah and its previously existing foundations hidden under sand dunes.

In any case, the verse under reference does prove one of the merits of the Ka'bah, that is, it is the first ever house or place of worship. It has been reported in a hadith from the Sahihayn that Sayyidna Abu Dharr Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him asked the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him, 'Which is the first ever masjid in the world?' He said, 'al-Masjid al-Haram.' He submitted again, 'Which masjid comes after that?' He said, 'Masjid Bayt al-Maqdis.' He asked once again, 'What time span separates their building?' He said, 'Forty years.'

In this hadith, it is in relation to the new edifice of the House of Allah that the intervening period between its construction and the initial construction of Bayt al-Maqdis has been determined. As a matter of fact, there are reports which prove that the initial construction of Bayt al-Maqdis was undertaken by Sayyidna Ibrahim (A.S) forty years after the construction of the Ka'bah. Then comes the construction of Bayt al-Maqdis by Sayyidna Sulayman (A.S). This too was not a new structure with new foundations, like the Ka'bah. Instead, Sayyidna Sulayman (A.S) rebuilt it on the original Abrahimic foundations. Thus there remains no contradiction between reports.

The Ka'bah has always been an object of reverence and respect. This fact is pointed out in the expression (set up for the people) in this verse under discussion hinted therein is that the respect and honour in which this House of worship is held will not be limited to a particular nation or group. Instead, the whole humanity will hold it in respect. Allah Almighty has placed a built-in aura of dignity and awe in its presence which draws in the hearts of people automatically.
Here, the word 'Bakkah' means 'Makkah al-Mu'azzamah'. It does not matter whether you say that the letter 'mim' has been substituted for 'ba' since, in common Arab usage, 'mim' is substituted for 'ba', or simply say that 'Bakkah' is an alternate name for 'Makkah'.

The Blessings Of The Ka'bah

The second merit of Baytullah (the Ka'bah) stated here in this verse is that it is blessed. The word, 'mubarak' has been derived from 'barakah' which means 'to grow' and 'to sustain'. You can look at this growth factor from two angles. Something may grow in a way that it visibly increases in quantity, but the other possible way of growing is that it adds nothing noteworthy to its quantity, yet it turns out to be so useful in so many situations that it would have usually needed much more to do the same job. In that sense this too could be regarded as 'growth' or 'increase'.

The Ka'bah is full of blessings outwardly and inwardly. The outward blessings it has are quite obvious. Inspite of Makkah and its environs being a desert, dry and barren, all sorts of fruits and vegetables and items of need are available in all seasons and at all times. Not only that these are enough for the people of Makkah, it is much more than that. These suffice for all visitors from everywhere in the world. And everyone knows the volume of visitors, specially during the Hajj season, when hundreds and thousands of people from the farthest corners of the world assemble there whose count outnumbers the residents of Makkah by at least four or five times. This huge multitude of people stays there, not for a few days, but for months together. Even, apart from the Hajj season, there is hardly a time of the year when thousands of people from outside do not come in and go out of here. It may be noted that, during the Hajj season particularly when hundreds and thousands of people from outside assemble there, it has never happened that articles of use could have gone out of the market and become unavailable. Even, animals of sacrifice which are slaughtered there by each and every person, at least on the average of one per person, and there are some who sacrifice more, are always available there. It is not that special arrangements are made to import these from other countries. In the words of the Holy Qur'an, i.e. (Brought toward it are fruits of everything - 28:57), there is a clear indication of this phenomena.

This was a view of the outward blessings which, of course, are not the ultimate objective. The spiritual, the inward blessings are so numerous that it is impossible to count them. There are important 'ibadat, the acts of worship, which are special to the Ka'bah. The great reward and the spiritual blessings that come from them totally revolve around the Baytullah, such as the Hajj and 'Umra. Then, there are some other 'ibadat the merit of which increases several degrees when done in al-Masjid al-Haram. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has said that a man offering salah at his home will get thawab for one salah; and if he does that in the masjid of his locality, he will get the reward for twenty five salahs; and one who does that in a Jami' (big congregational mosque) will get the reward for five hundred salahs; and should he offer his salah in al-Masjid al-Aqsa, he will get the reward for one thousand salahs; and in my Masjid, he gets the thawab for fifty thousand salahs, while in al-Masjid al-Haram, that of one hundred thousand salahs. (This narration has been reported by Ibn Majah and Tahawi and others).

As far as the merits of Hajj are concerned, Muslims generally know the Hadith which declares that a Muslim who performs his Hajj obligations correctly is so cleansed of his past sins as if he was born on that day, all pure and pristine. Obviously, all these are spiritual blessings of the Baytullah. These very blessings have been identified by the word huda towards the end of the verse: (having blessings and guidance for all worlds).
(Ma'ariful Qur'an)
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#272 [Permalink] Posted on 21st December 2011 07:43
Surah Aal 'Imraan, Verse 97

"In it there are clear signs: The station of Ibrahim! And whoever enters there is secure. And as a right of Allah, it is obligatory on the people to perforin Hajj of the House -- whoever has the ability to manage (his) way to it. And if one disbelieves, then Allah is independent of all the worlds."[97] (3:97)


Three distinctions of Baytullah

Related in this verse are distinctions and merits of the House of Allah, that is, the Ka'bah. Firstly, it has many signs of Allah's power, one of them being the station of Ibrahim (Maqamu Ibrahim). Secondly, one who enters there becomes a recepient of peace and remains protected; he cannot be killed by anybody. Thirdly, it is obligatory on all Muslims around the world that they make the Hajj of the House of Allah, subject to the condition that one has the means and the ability to reach as far as there.

The signs of Allah's Power

Since the time the foundations of Baytullah were laid out, Allah Almighty has, because of its enormous blessings provided protection to the people of Makkah against enemy attacks: When Abrahah invaded Makkah with his army of elephants, Allah Almighty, in His most perfect power, destroyed them through birds. Those who enter the sacred precincts of Makkah, men and women, even animals, stand protected.

When there is rainfall on a certain side of Baytullah, it has been observed that countries situated on that side are favoured with substantial rainfalls. Another unusual sign relates to the Jamarat, the granite pillars on which every pilgrim throws seven pebbles each, everyday for three days. A couple of million or more pilgrims go there every year. Had these pebbles remained there, the Jamarat would have been buried under a mountain of pebbles. The fact is that any huge deposits of pebbles are not visible there after the passage of three days of Hajj, except some scattered pebbles the cause of which is, as stated by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him, that angels pick up these pebbles and the pebbles left there belong to people whose Hajj is not accepted for some reason. This is why it is forbidden to pick up pebbles lying near the Jamarat and throw them on the pillars, as part of Hajj rites, since they are from the unaccepted ones.

In his comments on this phenomenon, Shaykh Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti رضي الله عنه has said in al-Khasa'is al-Kubra that there are some miracles of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him which still live and stand, and shall continue right through to the Day of judgement and everyone shall see them. One of these, of course, is the unmatched presence of the Holy Qur'an itself which cannot be matched even if the whole world joined its forces. This inability persists all the same as it was during the blessed days of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him and shall continue to persist like that right through to the Day of Judgement. Every Muslim, no matter of what period of time, shall be able to challenge the whole world: (Then, produce a Surah like it -10:38).

So is the miracle of Jamarat as stated above. Similarly there is the statement of the Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him in respect of Jamarat. He has stated that pebbles thrown on these pillars are picked up by the angels in a manner invisible to mankind. The few pebbles left belong to those unfortunate people whose pilgrimage is not accepted by Allah. The Prophet's statement has stood the test of time for centuries in a row and it will continue upto the Great Day. This is one of the continuing miracles of the Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him and a major sign of Allah in respect of the revered house of Ka'bah.

The Station of Prophet Ibraheem (peace be upon him)

From among the signs associated with the Ka'bah there is the great sign - The 'Maqamu Ibrahim' which has been mentioned separately in its own right. The Station of Ibrahim is the name of the stone on which Sayyidna Ibrahim (A.S) stood while building the edifice of Baytullah (the Ka'bah). There are narrations reporting that the stone raised itself along with the rising level of construction and came down automatically when so required. The footprints of Sayyidna Ibrahim (A.S) are still there on this stone. Obviously, that an inert and unconscious stone is invested with sudden intelligent volition to respond to functional needs and elevate itself, or come down, or that it is given the ability to assume the plasticity of wax and let a perfect print of feet appear on its surface, are all signs of the most perfect power of Allah reflecting the superior merit of Baytullah.

This stone used to be on the ground close to the door of the Baytullah. When came the Qur'anic command: (And make the station of Ibrahim a place of prayer - 2:125), this stone was removed from there, considering the convenience of those who made tawaf, and placed in front of the Baytullah, but at some distance outside the mataf the area where tawaf is made) close to Bi'r Zamzam (the well of Zamzam, the original site of which is now marked with a black marble circle on the floor of the Baytullah with the legend inlaid in Arabic). Later, it was secured in a small structure behind which the two post-tawaf raka'at were offered. The present position is that the station of Ibrahim has been placed securely in a strong metal-crystal casing, but it is the particular stone inside it which is the 'Maqamu Ibrahim'. Offering the post-tawaf salah comprising two raka'at behind or close to it is more merit-worthy. But the appellation, 'Maqamu Ibrahim' taken in a literal sense, covers the entire al-Masjid al-Haram, the Sacred Mosque. Therefore, Muslim jurists have ruled that offering the two raka'at after tawaf anywhere within the Sacred Mosque would satisfy one's obligation.

'Whoever enters Baytullah is secure'

The second peculiarity of the Ka'bah mentioned in the verse is that 'whoever enters it is secure'. This statement has different aspects. Firstly, it is true in the legal sense, for Allah Almighty has ordained that one who enters there should not be molested or killed; even if a person kills someone or commits some other crime and goes into the sanctuary, he too should not be punished in there. Instead of that, he should be compelled to come out of the Haram and when he does come out of the Haram, the punishment due will then be given. This is how an entrant to Haram gets the protection of Divine law.

The second form of security provided to the entrants of Haram is factual. In the very design of Divine creation, Allah Almighty has caused awe and reverence for Baytullah to take roots in the hearts of people. Even the Arab tribes of Jahiliyyah, inspite of all their evil practices, were ready to sacrifice their lives to uphold the honour of Baytullah. That they were all too wild and warring is well-known, yet they held the Haram in such esteem that a son whose father was killed would say nothing to the killer and quietly move away from him inspite of his burning rage for revenge.

The only time fighting was allowed within the Haram area was for a few hours through a revelation from Allah Almighty. The occasion was the conquest of Makkah and the permission was restricted to the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him in order that he could cleanse the Baytullah and serve an important objective of faith. Soon after the conquest, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him made an express announcement to this effect and stressed that the original unlawfulness of fighting in the Haram continues to be valid for ever.

As far as the case of Hajjaj ibn Yusuf is concerned who, after the time of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him, took armed action against Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn Zubayr Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him in Makkah, resorting to killings and terror. Since his action was a grave sin and a flagrant violation of law and Ka'bah's sanctity, in the sight of the entire community which hated him for what he did, therefore, it does not affect the divine declaration of Ka'bah's sanctity. It is also difficult to say that he violated the built-in sanctity of Baytullah as such intentionally, for Hajjaj himself did not believe in the lawfulness of this action of his; he knew that he was committing a serious crime but he became overwhelmed by political and administrative considerations.

However, the truth is that the Muslim community at large has always held the Haram and Baytullah in the highest possible esteem and has always regarded fighting or quarrelling in the sacred precincts as one of the most ugly sins. This is a unique mark of Baytullah, universally and exclusively.

The Obligation of Hajj: A Distinction of Baytullah

Allah Almighty has made the Hajj of Baytullah an obligation subject to the condition that one has the necessary means and ability to reach there. Having 'means' can be explained by saying that one should have resources surplus to his basic needs which could help him take care of the cost of travel, to Baytullah and back home, and the expenses incurred during stay in the Holy Land. It is also necessary that his 'means' should be good enough to cover the expenses of his family until his return, for this is an standing obligation on him. Then, one should not be physically handicapped, being unable to see, or use hands and feet, for a handicapped person would not have the ability to go that far and complete the many requirements of the Hajj.

As women are not legally permitted to travel without a Mahram (marriage with whom is prohibited), they would be considered 'able' to embark on their Hajj if they are travelling with a Mahram making his Hajj whether the Mahram is bearing his own expenses or the woman pays for his expenses as well. Similarly, the route taken to reach the Hajj site should also be secure since this too is part of the condition of 'ability'. If peaceful conditions do not exist on the Hajj route and there is an acute danger to life and property, then, it would mean an absence of the 'ability' to perform Hajj.

Literally, Hajj means 'to intend'. What it means in terms of prescribed religious observance is already stated in the Holy Qur'an itself, that is, the tawaf of the Ka'bah, the stay in 'Arafat, and in Muzdalifah. Remaining details have been made clear by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him through his words and deeds. So, after the announcement that the Hajj of Baytullah is an obligation, it was said: And if one disbelieves, then Allah is independent of all the worlds.

Included here, undoubtedly, is the person who intentionally rejects the belief that Hajj is obligatory. It is obvious that such a person cannot be considered a Muslim. He is a disbeliever indeed, for the description: "And if one disbelieves" fits him clearly and comprehensively. Then, comes the case of one who does believe that Hajj is an obligation, yet he does not, inspite of having the means and the ability, perform it. He too, in a way, is no less a denier of the Divine command. In his case, the words: "and if one disbelieves" will apply in the form of admonition and warning since this person is acting like disbelievers who do not perform Hajj. In the process, such a person acts just like one of them.

This is why Muslim jurists , have said that this is a severe warning to those who do not perform Hajj inspite of having the means and the ability to do so and thus, by this heedless act of theirs, they become the likes of disbelievers. Let us seek refuge with Allah from such a fate. (Ma'ariful Qur'an, Volume 2)
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#273 [Permalink] Posted on 22nd December 2011 08:03
Tafseer Of Surah Aal 'Imraan, Verses 98-101

"Say, "O people of the Book, why do you disbelieve the signs of Allah while Allah is witness to what you do?"[98] Say, "O people of the Book, why do you prevent those who believe from the way of Allah seeking crookedness in it while you are witnesses (of the truth)? And Allah is not unaware of what you do." [99] O those who believe, if you obey a group from those who have been given the Book, (before you) they will turn you infidels after your having believed. [100] And how do you disbelieve while it is to you that the verses of Allah are recited, and present amidst you is His Messenger? And whoever holds on to Allah, he is surely guided to the straight path."[101] (3:98-101)


Several verses earlier, the text was dealing with the people of the Book, their false beliefs and their doubts. Then, appeared the mention of Baytullah and Hajj. Now once again, the people of the Book are the addressees. These verses relate to a particular event. There was a Jew, Shammas ibn Qays, who harboured a chronic malice against Muslims. Once when he saw two Ansar tribes, Aws and Khazraj, gathered together amiably at one place, his malevolence got the better of him and he went about looking for ways to sow seeds of discord between them. Finally, he set up a man suggesting to him that these two tribes have fought a much long-drawn war in pre-Islam days and both parties had recited poetical compositions highlighting their tribal pride. So why not recite these self-congratulating poetical compositions while both sit together. The moment these poems were recited there, emotions rose high, there were charges and counter-charges to the limit that the place and time of a fresh war was all set. When the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him heard about this, he came to them and said: 'What is all this? Here I am present amidst you and you are doing this after having become Muslims and after having become united and friendly with each other. This is sheer ignorance. Do you want, in this state of yours, to revert to kufr?'

They took the warning to their heart. They knew this was a slip caused by Satan. They embraced each other, wept and repented. These verses were revealed in the background of this event.

This event appears in Ruh al-Ma'ani as narrated by Ibn Ishaq while there are others who narrate it from Zaid ibn Aslam. This subject continues through several verses after this. Here, the verses begin with an admonition to the people of the Book who had engineered this intrigue, and this admonition has been done with great eloquence when, before admonishing them for what they did, they were taken to task for their disbelief as well, which meant that it would have made better sense if they themselves had taken to the right path, and become Muslims, rather than devoting themselves to distract others to the wrong track. Following this, Muslims have been addressed, and served with a word of caution, specially when they have by their side, the Book and the Messenger of Allah, two powerful, never-failing sources, which would help them stay firm in their belief.

The expression 'And whoever holds on to Allah' means one who stays firm in, and totally committed to, his 'iman or faith, for 'i'tisam', the act of holding on to Allah firmly, denotes that one should affirm His Being and His Attributes, be staunchly faithful to what He has ordained, and in the process, be sure not to be lured into supporting the position of any adversary whoever that may be. One who acts in this manner 'is surely guided to the straight path'. It means that such a person is on the 'straight path', and being on the 'straight path' is the key to all that is good and beneficial which the Word of Allah promises to him.
(Ma'ariful Qur'an)
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#274 [Permalink] Posted on 23rd December 2011 08:12
Tafseer Of Surah Aal 'Imraan, Verses 102-103

"O those who believe, fear Allah, a fear which is His due, and let not yourself die save as Muslims. [102] And hold on to the cord of Allah, all of you, and be not divided. And remember the blessing of Allah upon you: When you were enemies to each other, and He brought your hearts together, then you, with His grace, became brothers. And you were at the brink of a pit of Fire, then, He saved you from it. This is how Allah makes His signs clear to you, so that you may take the right path."[103] (3:102-103)


In the previous verses, Muslims were warned that the people of the Book, and others, want them to go astray from the right path so Muslims must remain vigilant of their moves and take steps to counter their anti-Muslim activities.
In the two verses appearing here, two important principles have been given which go to make the collective strength of Muslims impregnable. These are:

1. Taqwa
2. Unity

The first principle appears in the first of the two verses. The second principle follows in the second verse. The first principle stated in the said verse is that one must 'fear Allah', that is, one should organize and manage his life with a full sense of responsibility before Allah, avoiding all that is forbidden or undesirable, doing so in a manner 'which is His due'.

What Is Taqwa?

In Arabic, the word, 'Taqwa' is used to denote avoidance and abstinence. It is translated as 'fear' in the sense that things one is asked to abstain from are nothing but things that cause fear, or alert one to the danger of Divine retribution.
Taqwa has its own degrees, the lowest is to avoid Kufr and Shirk, that is, disbelieving in Allah and His Message and attributing partners to His Divinity. In this sense, every Muslim can be counted as Muttaqi (one who has the quality of Taqwa), even if he is involved in sins. At several places in the Holy Qur'an, the words, 'Muttaqin' (plural of Muttaqi) and 'Taqwa' have been used in that sense as well. What is really desirable falls under the second degree of Taqwa, that is, to avoid that which is disliked by Allah and His Messenger. The merits and blessings of Taqwa enumerated in the Qur'an and Hadith have been promised on this degree of avoidance and abstinence.

As far as the third degree of Taqwa is concerned, this is a high station destined for prophets (peace and blessings be upon them all), their devoted deputies and men of Allah, for it is not within the grasp of everybody. To stand guard over one's heart against the onslaught of what does not relate to Allah, and to keep it filled with the remembrance of Allah and the desire to seek His pleasure, are great assignments.

The Meaning Of Taqwa 'As Due'

While giving a directive to attain 'Taqwa' the Holy Qur'an has qual ified the word of Taqwa with (a fear which is His due) which means that one should seek to attain a degree of Taqwa which it inherently deserves.

This has been explained by the blessed Companions, 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, Rabi', Qatadah and Hasan al-Basri (R.A) in the following words: 'A fear which is His due' means that one obeys, then does not disobey; remembers then does not forget; and is grateful, then does not become ungrateful.' (Al-Bahr Al-Muhit)

The above explanation has also been reported with its chain of authorities ascending to the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him himself.

Major commentators have explained the sense of the above report differently. For instance, some say that the due fear of Allah means that, in obedience to Allah, one should dismiss all derogatory criticism, no matter where it comes from, always standing firm on what is just, even if, by being just, he has to hurt his own self, or his children, or his parents. Some say, that one can never hope to achieve 'Taqwa as due' unless he protects his tongue.

There is another verse in the Holy Qur'an where it is said: Fear Allah as much as you can. (64:16)

According to the blessed Companions, Ibn 'Abbas and Tawus, this is really nothing but an explanation of (a fear which is His due). It means that should one be doing his best, using all his attention and energy to guard against evil, the obligation of Taqwa shall stand fulfilled. If one, who has already done everything he could, happens to fall a victim to something impermissible, that would not be considered being against 'Taqwa as due'.

The statement which follows immediately: (and let not yourself die save as Muslims) tells us that Taqwa is, in reality, the whole of Islam since the total obedience to Allah and His Messenger, and the total avoidance of disobedience both to Allah and His Messenger is what Taqwa is all about; and this is what Islam is.

The command in the verse, 'and let not yourself die save as Muslims' raises a possible doubt as man does not control death, it may come anytime, anywhere.

This doubt is removed when we consider the Hadith: 'As you live, so shall you die; and as you die, so shall you be raised.'

Therefore, anyone who is determined to live his entire life by the tenets of Islam, and to the best of his determination and ability, acts accordingly, his death will definitely come, God willing, on a state of Islam. Now, about some hadlth narrations where it is said that there will be people who may have spent a life-time of good deeds, yet the entire roster of such deeds shall go waste because of something awful they did later. Such fate can befall those people only who did not act with sincerity and steadfastness from the very beginning. And Allah knows best.

Unity: The second principle of collective Muslim strength

In the second verse, 103: (And hold on to the cord of Allah, all of you), the golden principle of unity has been presented with great eloquence and wisdom, for the principle, being the only effective binding factor, has been identified before the command to unite was given, following which, came the prohibition of disunity and chaos.

Elaborating this a little, it can be said that unity is something good and desirable, a premise generally approved by all human beings, no matter what place, time, religion or life style they adhere to. A person who considers fights and disputes as something useful, and good in themselves, would be hard to find anywhere. This is why all groups and parties around the world invariably ask people to unite, but experience shows that all is not well in world affairs. No doubt, everybody agrees that unity is useful, and necessary, yet humanity is divided apart in sects, groups and parties. Then, there is a whole chain of sects within sects and parties within parties, reaching the limits of absurdity where even the unity of two people, in the real sense, has become a myth. A few people get together, agree on something under the driving force of temporary objectives; then, no sooner do interests get served, or remain unrealized, unity evaporates in thin air, and instead, there remains the fall-out of mutual bickering and hostility.

With a little deliberation, it will become clear that every group, every sect, almost every person would like to unite people on some self-made programme, while the position is that other people have their own self-made programmes. So, rather than agree with them, they invite others to line up under their programme. Therefore, all calls for unity end up in break-ups and chaos among parties and persons. Thus, stuck in this quagmire of differences, humanity at large is the loser.

Therefore, the Holy Qur'an has not stopped at giving sermons on unity and order, instead, it has also come forward with a just principle which would help achieve and sustain the desired state of affairs in the world, something in which no group should find a ground for differences. The truth of the matter is that imposing a system or programme conceived by one or some members of the human race on other human beings, and hoping that all of them will accept it unanimously, is simply against commonsense, and justice, and is nothing but cheeky self-deception. However, the system and the programme given by the Creator-Sustainer of all the worlds, the Rabb al-'Alamin, is something all human beings should naturally agree upon. No rational human being can deny it on principle. Now, the only possible inroad to difference here can show up in the actual identification of the system given by the Sovereign of Sovereigns, the Rabb, the Lord. Which is it? The Jews say it is the system of the Torah, the Christians say it is the system of the Evangile; both say it was sent by God and it is necessary to act upon it. The approach goes as far as even the polytheists, who have groups among them attributing their respective religious rites to none but god.

But, if man could rise a little above his group prejudice and the blind following of forefathers, using his own God-given reason, he would stand face to face with the reality without any frills; the reality that the Last of the Prophets Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him, has come with the last message of Allah Almighty in the form of the Holy Qur'an and that, at this point of time, there is no other system or living pattern acceptable in the sight of Allah Almighty. Leaving this wider focus aside, we can turn to the first and present addressees of the Qur'an, the Muslims who believe that in the world as we have found it, the Holy Qur'an is the only way of life revealed by Allah Almighty without any shadow of doubt in it, and since Allah Almighty has Himself taken the responsibility of protecting it, there is just no possibility of interpolation or change in it right through to the Day of Judgement. With this position in view, I leave the part of the subject dealing with non-Muslim groups for some other occasion and say to Muslims alone who, being believers in the Qur'an, have no other alternative line of action except this.

If different parties among Muslims were to unite on the system of the Holy Qur'an, thousands of their differences based on group, race and country would be resolved instantly, which block the road to human progress. Whatever difference may remain among Muslims, would possibly be in the understanding and the interpretation of the Qur'an. If such difference stays within limits, it is neither blame-worthy nor harmful to collective human living. In fact, the existence of such difference of opinion among the learned is natural. Therefore, exercising restraint and observing limits should not be so difficult to manage. Contrary to this, if our parties, were to go on fighting in complete disregard to the Qur'an then, they would not be left with any possibility of correction. It is this chronic dissension and disorder which the Holy Qur'an has sternly forbidden, and it is because of this abandonment of a great Qur'anic principle that our community at large is wasting its potential by succumbing to chaos and factionalism. The Holy Qur'an, in the present verse, shows us the way as to how we can eliminate this tendency to become divided when it says: And hold on to the cord of Allah, all of you.

Here, (the cord of Allah) means the Holy Qur'an. The blessed Gompanion, 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him is the narrator of the hadith in which the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has been reported to have said: The Book of Allah is the cord of Allah, extended from the heavens to the earth.

In another narration of the hadith by the noble Companion, Zayd ibn Arqam, the words are: The cord of Allah is the Qur'an (Ibn Kathir).

In Arabic usage, the word, 'habl' also means 'covenant' and, in an absolute sense, it covers everything that can be used as a connecting link. The metaphor of 'cord' has been used for the Qur'an or the Faith to suggest that this is the connecting link which, on one side, establishes the lines of communion between those who believe and their Lord, while, on the other side, it brings all those who believe close together, forming one group.

In short, this one statement of the Qur'an is full of wise rules of conduct. To begin with, it can be said that man must firmly act in accordance with the way of life revealed by Allah Almighty, that is, the Holy Qur'an. Then comes the unity of action, that is, all Muslims should join hands to act in accordance with it. The result will be that Muslims, will become united and organized as if they were a group holding on to the same cord firmly, turning the whole group into a powerful single body. The Holy Qur'an has explained this mystique of Muslim unity more clearly in another verse where it was said: Surely, those who believe and do good deeds, among them the All-Merciful Allah shall create (mutual) affection. (19:96)

Also present here is a subtle analogy focused on Muslims holding fast to the Book of Allah. Their effort resembles the effort of those who would grip a strong rope while climbing and thus remain protected against a fall. So, the hint is: If Muslims keep holding on to the Book of Allah with their total strength, all in unison, no satan will ever succeed in dividing them. As a result, like their individual life, the collective strength of the Muslim community as well shall become stable and impregnable. Keeping a firm grip on the Qur'an is something which helps in uniting scattered forces through which a dead nation gets new life. God forbid, if Muslims break away from it, it is certain that their national and collective life will be ruined, and when this happens, their individual life is not likely to fare any better.

Islam is the only source of the Muslim Unity

Unity and agreement need a centre of attraction or a common idea. This idea of a centre has been different with different peoples of the world. Somewhere it was race and tribal affinity. For instance, among the tribal complex of Arabia, Quraysh was one nation and Banu Tamim another. There were other places where colour was the criterion, with black people taken as one nation, and the white people as another. There were still other places where the geographical or lingual factor was the centre of unity making Indian one nation and the Arab, another. Then there were areas where people rallied around ancestral customs drawing a line between those who follow these customs and those who do not, for instance, the Arya Samajists in India.

The Holy Qur'an, bypassing all these, made the Book of Allah basis of unity, that is, the system revealed by Allah Almighty. In a single stroke, it declared that Muslims are a nation attached to 'Hablillah', the cord of Allah, and those who disbelieve are another nation, not attached to this strong 'cord' or 'rope'. The statement: (It is He who created you. So, some of you are infidels and some of you are believers) means just this. So, the unifying factors of geography, race, tribe or language do not deserve to be the centre of affinity for man generally has no control over them. One cannot have them by personal effort or choice. Black cannot become white, a Qurayshi cannot become a Tamimi, an Indian cannot become an Arab. Such unities can exist in a very limited frame; they can never claim to have assembled the whole humanity under their umbrella hoping to have the entire world gathered on a united platform. This is why the Holy Qur'an has made the Divinely revealed way of life as the centre of unity, something one can elect to have for himself. Everyone from the East or the West, black or white, speaking Arabic or English or any other language, coming from any family, any tribe, any human group, can freely make this centre of unity his own as the most rational and correct choice available. Then, humankind can come close together around this centre and become brothers and sisters to one another.

What is needed is a little impartial thinking, a slight rising above custom, prejudice and habit, as a result of which, the seeker shall be striking the best bargain of his life. Hopefully, he will discover for himself the way of life revealed by Allah Almighty, understand it, and follow it holding fast on to this strong medium of communion with Allah. As a result of this, the whole humanity will become beneficially concentric, having the centre of God-given guidance in common. Consequently, every individual member of this great brotherhood will be able to tune his deeds, material and spiritual, to the jointly accepted way of life from Allah.

Here is the principle, wise and correct, of which Muslims can be proud, and confident when inviting others to join in. Unfortunately, conspiracies hatched by the Europeans, for centuries to crush the Muslim unity have succeeded in dividing the ranks of those who claim to be Muslims.

Now they have themselves accepted the differences of race, language and nationalities as the dividing forces, and the link of Muslim unity stands severed by the concept of Arabs and Non-Arabs, Indians and non-Indians etc. The Holy Qur'an proclaims a universal reality, loudly and openly, time and again, that these distinctions are ill-founded and divisive and any unity based on them shall remain irrational and false. Acentericity is not the solution for Muslims who have no choice but to 'hold on to the cord of Allah', all of them, as a way of life. This has given them a place of honour earlier, and if there is yet another success destined for them, this is how it would come again.

Before we move on to the second part of the verse, let us remember the two distinct instructions given to Muslims in this verse, that is, they should first live by the system prescribed for them by Allah Almighty, then, they should hold fast to 'the cord of Allah' all together. This is how the Muslim ummah gained ascendance in the past and there is no reason why, it will not rise again.

This far the discussion revolved around the positive aspect of unity among Muslims. The text now takes up the negative aspect when it says: (And be not divided). This is another example of the peculiarly wise style of the Holy Qur'an when it would highlight the positive aspect first, then identify the negative, and forbid the later. In another verse, it was said: Surely, this is the straight path, so, follow it. And do not follow (other) ways which will cause you to become separated from His way. (6:153)

Since disunity is the first and the last reason behind the destruction of a nation, therefore, the Holy Qur'an has repeatedly forbidden it in various ways. It has been said in another verse: Those who have made divisions in their religion and become sects, you have nothing to do with them. (6:159)

Also narrated in the Holy Qur'an are events concerning communities led by their prophet's (A.S), communities which fell into temporal and eternal disgrace because of their mutual disputes and disunity which turned them away from the honest pursuit of their central purpose of life.

The Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has said that there are three things Allah Almighty has liked for you while there are three others He has disliked. The ones He has liked are as follows:

1. That your worship should be for Allah alone and that you should not attribute partners to His divinity.
2. That you should hold on to the Book of Allah firmly and avoid disunity.
3. That you should have goodwill for those in authority from among you.

The three things which cause Allah's displeasure are:

1. Unnecessary argumentation.
2. Needless asking.
3. Wastage of resources.

Differences and their Limits

A question that remains unanswered is: Is every difference to be despised or is there a sort of difference which can be called unblameworthy? The answer is: Every difference is not blameworthy or despicable. A blameworthy difference is one in which individuals and groups stay away from the Qur'an and think in terms of their whims and wishes. But, should it be that everyone stays united in and around the Qur'an and at the same time, continues to accept the explanation and detail coming from the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him, and then, on the basis of God-given natural ability and intellectual quality, expresses differences in opinion about subsidiaries of religion, in which case, this difference will be natural and Islam does not forbid it. The difference among the blessed Companions and their Successors, and among leading juristic authorities was of this nature. It was nothing but this difference that was called a 'mercy' for the community. However, if these very subsidiary debates were to be invested with the status of the mainstream of religion, and differences arising out of them were to become a cause of controversy, confrontation, insult and vilification, then, this too will be considered blameworthy.

The Blessing of Brotherhood

The text, after making the two aspects of unity clear, points out to the conditions prevailing among pre-Islam Arabs. Because of tribal rivalries, incessant warfare and long-drawn blood feuds, the entire nation was on the brink of total ruin. What saved them from the fire of hatred was nothing but this blessings of Islam. So, it was said: And remember the blessing of Allah upon you: When you were enemies to each other, and He brought your hearts together, then you, with His grace, became brothers. And you were at the brink of a pit of the Fire, then, He saved you from it. (103)

In other words, by erasing out deep-seated enmities going back to centuries, Allah Almighty made them brothers to each other through the benediction of Islam and the noble Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him. This made their life worth living, materially and spiritually, establishing between them such exemplary friendship that even their enemies found it awesome. Where in the whole wide world would they have found this brotherly unity, this enormous blessing of Allah, even if they were to spend the combined treasures of the world?
If we recollect what was said in the opening remarks under these verses, we can see very clearly that the present verse helps eliminate the mischief engineered by the wicked when they tried to disunite the tribes of Aws and Khazraj by reminding them of their past feuds. The lesson is: Once in Islam, division is unthinkable.

Unity among Muslims depends on obedience to Allah

The above statement of the Holy Qur'an unravels yet another mystery. We now know that, in reality, Allah Almighty is the Master of hearts. Activating mutual love and consideration in the hearts of a people is purely a Divine blessing. Obvious alongwith it is the fact that one can become deserving of the blessings of Allah only through obedience to Him. With disobedience and sin, one cannot hope to have this reward.

It also follows from here that for Muslims, if they desire to have a stable organization among them, and unity, the only alternative open is that they should make obedience to Allah their life style. This point has been hinted at towards the end of the verse where it was said: This is how Allah makes His signs clear to you, so that you may take the right path. (103)

(Ma'ariful Qur'an)
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#275 [Permalink] Posted on 24th December 2011 12:45
Tafseer Of Surah Aal 'Imraan, Verses 104-105

"And there has to be a group of people from among you who call towards the good, and bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair. And it is these who are successful. [104] And do not be like those who became divided and fell into disputes after the clear signs had come to them. And for them there is grave punishment."[105] (3:104-105)


In the previous verses (102 -103), Muslims were given two principles which guarantee their collective well-being. If everyone practiced Taqwa, and made Islam his linkage with Allah, the result will be that individual life will be corrected and the collective strength of Muslims will come in its wake.

In the present verses (104 - 105) yet another dimension of the proposed system has been added. It has been said here that Muslims are not to rest at the correction of what they think and do individually; but they should, alongwith that, be affectionately concerned with the good of other brothers and sisters in faith. By doing so, the whole community shall have the benefit of keeping its stance correct at all times, and at the same time, this will guarantee closer mutual cooperation and unity.

Collective well-being of Muslims depends on two things

These are:

1. Self-correction through Taqwa and a firm hold on the 'cord of Allah' through the Qur'an and the Faith.

2. The correction of others through call (da'wah) and positive propagation.
The second article of guidance appears in the opening verse which says: 'and there has to be a group of people from among you ...' So, the gist of the previous and the present verses is that one must correct his or her deeds and morals in the light of what Allah Almighty has sent as the Law, and with it, one must be concerned that other Muslim brothers and sisters do the same. The subject appears in Surah al-'Asr:

Except those who believe and do good deeds and invite each other to truth and invite each other to patience. (103:2,3)

In order that Muslims have a firm bond of unity, they must relate to Allah, and in order that this bond stays firm through the ages, it is necessary that Muslims consider it their obligation to enjoin what is good in accordance with the dictates of the Qur'an and the Sunnah on their brothers and sisters in faith, and to stop them from what is not good. The purpose is that 'the cord of Allah' should not slip out of one's hands. This was succinctly illustrated by my well-known teacher, Shaykh al-Islam, Maulana Shabbir Ahmad 'Uthmani Rahmatullahi 'Alayh: Allah have mercy upon him who said:

"There is no way this 'cord of Allah' can break. That one loses his hand-hold on it is, of course, possible."

It is to offset this danger that the Holy Qur'an asks Muslims to go on educating other brothers and sisters in faith exhorting them to good deeds and holding them back from the bad ones. This will become a collective effort to stay with Allah and His commands and collective will be their gains in this mortal world and in the Hereafter. There are other proofs in the Holy Qur'an which show that the responsibility of mutual self-correction has been placed on the shoulders of each Muslim.

Cited above, you have seen the statement made in Surah al-'Asr. Elsewhere, in this very Surah 'Al-Imran, it is said:

You are the best Ummah raised for mankind. You bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair. (3:110)

As is clear, here too, the obligation - 'to bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair' - has been assigned to the whole community. That they discharge this responsibility is the reason that they are placed higher over other communities. Similarly, there are a large number of sayings of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him in this connection. As narrated in Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has said:

By Him in whose hands is my life, you must bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair lest Allah inflicts upon you a severe punishment; you shall then pray to Him (for mercy) but your prayer shall not be answered.

In another hadith, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him said:

Whoever from among you sees that an evil is being committed then, he should change it with his hands. And if he is unable to do that, then, with his spoken word. And if he is unable to do even that, then, with his heart (i.e., abhor it taking it to be evil) and this is the weakest degree of faith.

All these citations leave no doubt about the fact that the duty of bidding the Fair and forbidding the Unfair falls on every individual of the community. The liability will, however, be proportionate to everyone's ability, which is true in the case of all other Islamic injunctions. You may have noticed in the hadith just quoted above that the obligation varies with ability.

Now, each function requires a different ability. First of all, the ability to bid the Fair depends on a correct knowledge of the Fair and the Unfair as such. One who cannot distinguish between the two or does not have a full knowledge of his undertaking would not be the right person to go out to others to bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair. Obviously, this would create disorder instead of discipline. It is quite possible that such a person may, because of his lack of knowledge, forbid something Fair or bid something Unfair. So, one who does not know the Fair and the Unfair is obligated to find it out, get to learn the Ma'ruf and Munkar as determined by the Shari'ah of Islam and then he can go ahead and make these known to others as part of his community service. Let this be clear that until such time that one has acquired the pre-requisites of this mission, it is not permissible for him to stand up for this service. These days there are places where many ignorant enthusiasts would stand and deliver a sermon without knowing the Qur'an or the Hadith, or worse still, sections of common people would use hearsay to pick up arguments with others as to how something should or should not be done. This method is not proper to correct the Muslim society. Indeed it will result in more disputes and bring destruction to it.

Similarly, it is also included in 'to bid the Fair' that there be no formidable danger or unbearable harm likely to affect the person involved. Therefore, it was said in the hadith quoted above that one should stop sin with his hands, that is, by this strength. If he is unable to do so, let him do it with his tongue. If he is unable to do so with his tongue, he should at the least consider it bad in his heart. It is obvious that 'not being able to stop it with his tongue' does not just mean, that this person's tongue cannot move. It simply means that he strongly apprehends that, should he open his mouth and speak the truth, his life will be taken or he will be subjected to some other serious injury or loss. In such a case, this person will not be taken as 'able' and he will not be called a sinner for the abandonment of bidding the Fair and forbidding the Unfair. It would be an entirely different matter, if he elects to stake his life and property in the way of Allah, bear all losses and still goes ahead and bids the Fair and forbids the Unfair, which is something many blessed Companions and their Successors have been reported to have done. This is determination at its highest, and a feat of great merit which raised their status in this world and in the Hereafter. But, what they did was not obligatory on them.

The nature of this obligation requires that one bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair in what is necessary; this would be obligatory. If done in what is commendable; the act too would remain commendable. For instance, the five salats are obligatory, therefore, giving good counsel to the non-performer of salah will become necessary on everyone. The nawafil (optional prayers) are classed as commendable or desirable, therefore, giving good counsel on these will be commendable. Here, etiquette would require that while advising someone to do a commendable act, soft language and attitude must be adopted in all cases. Similarly, while inviting to an obligatory act, one should start with softness. However, he may resort to firmness in attitude if one rejects the soft call outright. It is common sight these days that people tend to object in case of what is commendable or indifferent rather strongly, but remain silent when people abandon what is obligatory.

In addition to this, this obligation will become operative for everybody when one actually sees something forbidden being done before his eyes. For instance, there is a person who is seeing that a Muslim is drinking wine, or stealing or raping, he will then be obligated with the duty to stop it to the best of his ability. If all this is not happening before his eyes, he is not liable to discharge this duty. Rather, this is the duty of the Islamic government to inquire into the crime, investigate and punish the criminal.

The words of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him , (Whoever from among you sees that an evil is being committed) point out to this principle.

Then comes another level of this function - that there be a dedicated group among Muslims devoted exclusively to the mission of calling people to the Faith and giving them right guidance towards it. Its single mandate and activity should be that it keeps calling people to the Qur'an and the Sunnah through word and deed. When it sees people less inclined towards what is good, or sees them indulging in evils, it should not fall short of pointing out what is good and preventing people from taking to the evil, of course, according to its ability. It should be realized that this great mission can be carried out fully and effectively only when the performers have a complete knowledge of questions involved, as well as, when they are conversant with methods that go to make the call effective in the light of Sunnah. It is for this reason that a particular group of Muslims has been charged with this responsibility as they are likely to take care of all ramifications of this effort.

So, in the present verse:

it has been said: "And there has to be a group of people from among you who call towards the good and bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair.

The first part of the verse, translated as (And there has to be a group of people from among you) gives a hint that the presence of this group is necessary. In case, a government does not shoulder this responsibility, it will become obligatory on Muslims that they should establish and operate such a group, because the vital role of the Ummah depends on the existence of such a group. What are the major features of this group? The Qur'anic answer is: (who call towards the good). It means that this call of theirs shall be their primary objective. What does 'khayr' or 'good' mean? The Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has himself explained it by saying: that is, 'khayr' means following the Qur'an and my Sunnah. (Ibn Kathir)

Seen in a restricted sense, 'to bid the Fair and to forbid the 'Unfair' could have been taken to mean that doing so shall be needed only on jnecial occasions when the evil or 'the Unfair' (munkarat) are seen being committed. But, the expression (who call towards the good) in the beginning makes it clear that the function of this group ' voll be to call towards the good, even when evil practices are not seen, or time may not have come to perform something obligatory.

For example, it is known that in the period between sunrise and Zawal (noon) no salah is prescribed by the Shari'ah. But this group shall continue even in this period, to exhort people to perform salah when it is due. Or, take fasting which may not be due at a particular time, the month of Ramadan being far away, but that group will not shelve its duty and become complacent. Instead, it will keep reminding people about the month of Ramadan in advance, stressing on them that fasting will be obligatory at that time. In short, calling people to good will be the intrinsic duty of this group for all times to come.

Then, this 'call towards good' has two sub-levels:

1. Calling non-Muslims towards 'khayr', that is, Islam. This involves all Muslims. It means that every Muslim, in general, and this group, in particular, is responsible for giving the call of Islam, both by words and acts, to all peoples of the world. Therefore in a verse which enjoins jihad on Muslims, the true Muslims have been defined and praised in the following words:

that is, 'true Muslims are those who when We endow them with authority in a land the first thing they do is to establish a system of obedience to Allah on His earth, of which salah is an outward expression, and raise their financial system on principles governed by zakah, and they make the bidding of the Fair and the forbidding of the Unfair their very purpose of life.' (22:41)

Only if, the Muslim community of today were to take to extending their call towards good to other peoples as their objective, all ills that have crept into our social frame through the blind following of non-Muslim nations shall cease to exist. When a community resolves to unite for this great objective and becomes sure that it has to forge ahead among the nations of the world and that the responsibility of teaching and training them falls on its shoulders, will find that all its disunities have disappeared and there remains nothing but that wonderful goal in sight. The secret of the successes achieved by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him and his noble Companions (R.A), lies hidden behind this effort. It appears in a hadith that the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him recited this verse (And there has to be a group of people from among you) and then said: This special group is the group of the noble Companions (Ibn Jarir). This is because each individual from among these blessed souls considered himself personally charged with the responsibility of calling people to good.

2. The second sub-level of this noble function is to call Muslims themselves towards the good. This means that tabligh or the act of conveying the message of Allah should be done by all Muslims generally, and by the special group particularly, among Muslims, fulfilling the duty of da'wah imposed by the Qur'an.
Again this call takes two forms as given below:

a). The first form will be that of a general and open call to good through which all Muslims will be educated into necessary injunctions and morals which have to be followed in Islam.

b). The second call would be particular and selective through which the objective will be to produce experts in the Muslim community, experts in the sciences of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Another verse of the Holy Qur'an leads in this direction:

So, why should it not be that a group from every section of them goes forth, so that they may acquire perfect understanding of the Faith, and so that they may warn their people. when they return to them, that they may be cautious. (9:122)

Further on, this responsibility-bearing group has been identified as carrying the additional distinction of that is, 'they bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair'.

The word, 'ma'ruf literally means 'recognized' but as a Qur'anic term it includes all good enjoined by Islam, and promoted by all prophets during their respective ages. Since what is good is known and recognized, it has been referred to as ma'ruf.

Similarly, the word, 'munkar' literally means 'non-recognized" or 'alien", but as a Qur'anic term it includes all evils and disorders about which it is well-known and recognized that the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him declared them to be impermissible.

Keeping this in view, another point is worth consideration. The Holy Qur'an could have used the word 'wajib)' (what is obligating) instead of 'ma'ruf', and the word 'ma'asf' (sins) instead of 'munkar', but it did not do so. The selection of the words 'ma'ruf' and 'munkar' may be indicative of the principle that the subject of bidding the Fair and forbidding the Unfair must be an act which is recognized by the entire Muslim Ummah as 'fair' or 'unfair' without any difference of interpretation. As for the rules deduced through ijtihad, which have always been open for the different interpretations offered by the capable Muslim jurists, they should not be made an issue during the process of : 'bidding the fair and forbidding the unfair.'

[It means that if a recognized school of Islamic jurisprudence, such as Hanafi school adopting a particular interpretation of Islamic law, has held an act as 'fair', the holders of an opposite view like Sh'afi'ites should not blame or reproach the former for their action, and vice versa, (editor)]

It is a pity that such a wise Qur'anic principle is being generally neglected in the Muslim community, and the Muslims are made to fight each other on the secondary issues which can admit different interpretations. People tend to consider such efforts as some feat of piety while the evils which are held by the entire ummah unanimously as sins and are being committed in the community receive much less attention and often go unchecked.

Towards the conclusion of the verse, the commendable end of the group described therein has been enshrined in the following words:
And it is these who are successful.

It simply means that, in reality, success is achieved by such people alone.
Primarily, this description applies to the great group of the Companions of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him. They were the ones who rose with the great objective of calling towards the good and of curbing what is bad and in a very brief period.of time conquered the entire world of their time. There were power centres of Byzantine and Persia which could not stop them and they went ahead teaching lessons in morality and purity and ushering around the light of righteousness and Godliness wherever they went.

Having established that Muslims have a distinct mission to convey and preach the God-oriented message of good, the text moves on to warn Muslims with the words:

And do not be like those who became divided and fell into disputes after clear signs had come to them. (105)

It means that Muslims should not be like Jews and Christians who, even after clear injunctions of Allah Almighty had reached them, became divided in the implementation of the basic code of faith simply because they preferred to follow the dictates of their desires. Thus, thrown in violent mutual disputations, vocal and physical, they brought Divine punishment upon themselves. This verse is, in fact, a complement of (verse 103) where Muslims were asked to. seek unity and strength by attaching themselves to Allah's commands, individually and collectively, which helps make an entire community act like one body, one person, one entity. Then comes the perpetual mission of da'wah, the act of calling people to good, the process of bidding the Fair and forbidding the Unfair. These nurture and strengthen that unity. After that, by saying (and be not divided) in verse 103 and (And do not be like those who became divided) in the present verse, Muslims have been asked to learn a lesson from past communities which were destroyed by mutual dissensions with the good counsel that they should do their best to stay safe against this disease.

The type of divisiveness censured in this verse is a division that shows up because of arrogant and egotistic self-assertiveness, be it in the fundamentals of religion or in its subsidiaries. The statement 'After clear signs had come to them' is an obvious indicator towards this explanation. The truth is that all fundamentals of religion are clear. Even some subsidiaries are so clear that they allow no margin of disagreement, unless of course, there be a selfish motive behind it.

However, there are subsidiary issues not so definite and clear. They may have no clear support from the texts of the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah, (rather they are deduced by the scholars on the basis of analogy) or the text on which they are based is open to different interpretations. The resulting difference of opinion in the understanding of these subsidiaries is not included in the sense of this verse.

The well-known authentic hadith narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim from the blessed Companion 'Amr ibn al 'As Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him, is more than enough to permit it. In this hadith the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has said that one who does Ijtihad (conducting a competent inquiry within the framework provided by the Shari'ah to resolve a religious issue) and comes up with a ruling which is correct, he gets a twofold reward; and if he makes a mistake in his Ijtihad, he gets one reward.

This tells us that an Ijtihad made by a competent scholar even if it turns out to be erroneous, is still worthy enough for a reward provided utmost effort has been made. How can this be regarded as blameworthy? So, the difference of opinion resulting from Ijtihad undertaken by the blessed Companions and the great Imams has absolutely no connection with the present verse. According to Sayyidna Qasim ibn Muhammad and 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-'Aziz (R.A), the difference of opinion among the noble Companions is a source of mercy and ease for people (as in Ruh al-Ma'ani from al-Baihaqi and al-Mudkhal).

Ruling on difference of opinion

Let us have a clear understanding of a serious matter of principle which arises out of this discussion. When we talk about differences in Ijtihad, we mean an Ijtihad which is permissible under the Shari'ah of Islam. (There is no such thing as an Ijtihad outside the ramifications of the Shari'ah). In a Shari'ah-based Ijtihad, one or the other Imam may elect a view to stand by according to his line of thought, but the fact shall remain that, in the sight of Allah, only one of these views is true while other views are not so true. But again, the decision as to which is true and which is not rests with Allah Almighty, who will bestow, on the Day of Resurrection, a twofold reward on the Imam and 'Alim who arrives at the correct ruling through his Ijtihad. Also rewarded on this Day, will be the one whose Ijtihad was not correct. In short, nobody except Allah has the right to sit on judgement in the difference of interpretation and say that this is true and that is false. However, to the best of one's understanding and insight whichever side one thinks is closest to the Qur'an and the Sunnah he may say that, as far as he thinks, his choice is eorrect, although the possibility of its being incorrect cannot be ruled out and that which is the opinion on the other side, different from his chosen option is regarded as incorrect, with the possibility of that it may be correct in the sight of Allah. This is something all leading Imams of Fiqh, the masters of Muslim jurisprudence, agree upon.

So, the rule becomes clear that no side taken in a difference of interpretations is 'munkar' or 'unfair' and open to objection. Thus it will not be subjected to reproach under the authority of (Bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair). More so, when it is not unfair, raising an objection against what does not fall under the 'Unfair' would itself be regarded as unfair. This must be avoided. This is a rule most educated people do not fully comprehend these days or simply neglect it. They do not desist from abusing and verbally attacking others who think otherwise with all sorts of derogatory remarks and fretting. Inevitably, this leads to internecine confrontation and rampant disunity among Muslims, a phenomenon visible all over the Muslim world.

It has been already said that a difference of interpretation, if it corresponds to the principles of Ijtihad, does not go against the injunction (and be not divided) and, therefore, it is not blameworthy. But, the way this difference is being handled these days, when quarrelsome debates around the tertiary subjects are being nursed as if they were the very basis of Muslim faith. Unfortunately this is what results in mutual confrontation and abuse. It can be said without any shade of doubt that this behaviour is certainly an open violation of the same Qur'anic injunction (and be not divided). It is, most certainly, objectionable and totally contrary to the way of our learned elders, the blessed Companions and their Successors. There is no precedent for this type of behaviour among the early scholars (the Companions and their disciples) who were the best of our community. That anyone was ever blamed on the basis of difference of opinion in matters of interpretation in this manner is something unheard of.

For instance, Imam Shafi'i and other Imams, may Allah have mercy on them all, rule that in a sal ah offered in a congregation behind an imam, all those offering their prayer behind him must recite the Surah al-Fatihah as an obligation. Given this ruling anyone who does not fulfil this obligation will not have offered his salah at all. Parallel to this is the view of Imam Abu Hanifah, may Allah have His mercy on him, according to whom it is not permissible for one who prays behind an imam to recite his own Surah al-Fatihah, therefore, the Hanafiyah do not recite it while offering prayers in a congregation behind an imam. But, nowhere during the entire history of Muslim community there is any report saying that the followers of the Shafi'i school considered Hanafiyah as the deserters of the obligation of salah or that their prayers are not complete. They have never been blamed or criticised in the manner one would criticise and attack the evil acts forbidden by the Shari'ah.

Imam ibn 'Abd al-Barr rahimahullah has, mentioned the attitude of the early scholars and the revered elders in the following words:

Those who are entitled to give fatwa, have always been issuing fatwas. One of them would rule (concerning injunctions not covered under the texts) that something is lawful while the other will rule it to be unlawful. But, the latter takes the former doomed to perdition, nor does the former think that the later is doomed to perdition. (Jami' Bayan al-'Ilm, p. 80)

An important note of caution

All this discussion about Ijtihad relates to the one carried out under the standard rules governing it. The very first condition is that Ijtihad can be resorted to in questions and issues about which there is no categorical decision available in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Or, it may be that such decision is not clear and susceptible to more than one interpretation. Or, it is possible that a combination of some verses of the Qur'an and some narrations of the hadith may be apparently contradictory. In situations such as this, only those who possess the necessary pre-requisites to carry out Ijtihad will be entitled to do so. Ijtihad is no easy matter. It requires the most perfect expertise (in the real and full sense of the term) of all disciplines related to the Qur'an and the Hadith, a comprehensive and perfect knowledge of the Arabic language, and a comprehensive knowledge of the sayings of the blessed Companions and their Successors. Therefore, anyone who dabbles in questions which have been settled by authoritative texts and comes up with opinions contrary to those of leading authorities, then this difference of opinion will not fall under the category of Ijtihad as envisaged by the Shari'ah.

This will also be true about the person who does not fulfil the conditions of Ijtihad. What he says does not affect the question at all. This tendency has unfortunately become fairly visible in Muslim societies. Those who consider themselves educated (in modern sciences) have started to express their personal opinions relating to matters that have been settled in the Qur'an and Sunnah. This is ignorance at its ugliest. These are issues where even Imams and mujtahids would not dare speak. How can the exercise of so called Ijtihad be acceptable from a person who does not even possess the knowledge of Islamic sciences let alone the highest level of learning required for Ijtihad. (Ma'ariful Qur'an)

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#276 [Permalink] Posted on 26th December 2011 08:58
Tafseer Of Surah Aal 'Imraan, Verses 106-109

"On a day when faces shall turn bright and faces shall turn dark, as for those whose faces turn dark, (they shall be questioned): "Did you disbelieve after you had accepted the Faith? Now taste the punishment because you have been disbelieving." [106] And as for those whose faces turn bright, they rest in Allah's mercy. They are there for ever. [107] These are the verses of Allah We recite to you with all veracity. And Allah wants no injustice for (anyone in) the worlds. [108] And to Allah belongs what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. And to Allah all matters are returned."[109] (3:106-109)


The meaning of 'bright' and 'dark' faces: This expression appears in the Holy Qur'an at several places, for instance:

On the day of Doom, you shall see those who lied against Allah (with) their faces blackened. (39:60)

Some faces on that day shall shine, laughing, joyous. Some faces on that day shall be dusty, overspread with darkness. (80:38)

Faces on that day shall be radiant, looking towards their Lord. (75:22)

In these verses, several words such as, 'bayad', 'sawad', 'ghabarah', 'qatarah', and 'nadirah', have been used to carry the same sense. In the English translation, where applicable, they appear in italics. According to the majority of commentators, 'brightness' signifies the brightness of the light of Faith, that is, the faces of believers shall be resplendent with the light of Faith, fresh and smiling due to happiness (as a result of rewards bestowed upon them by Allah). 'Darkness' signifies the darkness of disbelief, that is, the faces of the disbelievers will be covered with the gloomy anguish of disbelief and the added soot of sin and transgression would turn them still darker.

Who are these people?

Commentators have explained the identity of the people with 'bright' and 'dark' faces variously. Sayyidna Ibn 'Abbas Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him says that the faces of the followers of Sunnah shall be 'bright' and those of the followers, of Bid'ah (innovation in the revealed Faith, not intended by Allah and His Messenger, nor by his learned dark Companions). Hadhrat 'Ata' Rahmatullahi 'Alayh: Allah have mercy upon him says that the faces of the Muhajirin and Ansar shall be 'bright' and the faces of the Bani Qurayzah and Bani Nadir shall be 'dark' (Qurtubi).

Imam Tirmidhi rahimahullah narrates a hadith from Sayyidna Abu Umamah Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him which identifies these as relating to the Khawarij, the oldest sect of rebels), that is, the 'dark' faces shall belong to the Khawarij, and the 'bright' faces to those whom they shall kill. The hadith is given below:

When Sayyidna Abu Umamah radiallaahu 'anh was asked if he had heard the hadith from the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him, he replied, while counting on his fingers, that he would not have narrated this hadith had he not heard it from the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him seven times (Tirmidhi).

Sayyidna 'Ikrimah Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him says that 'dark' faces shall belong to those from among the people of the Book who did confirm the coming of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him before he was ordained. But when he had been given prophethood they did not accept and support him. On the contrary, they started falsifying him. (Qurtubi)

There are other explanations as well, other than those cited above, but they all lead to the same conclusion, and are not contradictory. Imam al-Qurtubi has said in his Tafsir that the expression in the verse means that the faces of sincere Muslims shall be 'bright' but the faces of all those who may have altered their religion, or may have become apostates and disbelievers, or may be concealing their hypocrisy in their hearts, shall be 'dark'.

Some Special Notes

In the verse Allah Almighty has mentioned the bayad first, and the sawad or darkness after it. But, in the verse which follows: (As for those whose faces turn dark), sawad or darkness has been made to appear before bayad or brightness, although the sequence of the original statement required that the mention of brightness appear first at this place as well. This reversal of the order seems to indicate that Allah Almighty has pointed out to His main purpose of creation. That purpose is to bless His creation with His mercy; punishment is not the objective.

So, those with bright faces come first as they deserve the mercy and merit from their Lord. People with dark, anguished faces were mentioned later as the ones who deserve punishment. Towards the close of the verse, the statement (They rest in Allah's mercy) is meant to stress upon the great mercy of the Creator.

One cannot miss observing that those deserving of mercy were identified immediately at the beginning of the verse and again, at the end of the verse, and very affectionately indeed. The mention of those whose faces shall turn dark remains in between. All this points out to His limitless, endless mercy, clearly suggesting that human beings were certainly not created to serve as an exhibit or manifestation of Divine punishment; instead, they were created to flourish under the sunshine of Allah's mercy.

2. About the statement, 'they shall rest in Allah's mercy', the blessed Companion Sayyidna Ibn 'Abbas Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him says that 'rahmah' or 'mercy' in the verse means 'Jannah' or 'paradise'. Here too, the wisdom behind giving the name 'mercy' to 'paradise' is, quite obviously, that man, no matter how worshipful and pious he may be, shall not enter Paradise unless it be through the sole mercy of Allah Almighty. The reason is that being devoted in acts of worship is no feat of human excellence as such. On the contrary, the very ability to do so is, in itself, a gift of Allah. So, 'ibadah'or worship does not, in itself, create an inherent right to enter Paradise. It is Allah's mercy alone through which one can enjoy the bliss of Paradise. (al-Tafsir al-Kabir)

3. The sentence (they rest in Allah's mercy) is immediately qualified by (they are there for ever). This means that the mercy in which the believers shall rest will not be temporary; it would be forever and eternal. This blessing will never be taken away or reduced in their case. In contrast to this are those whose faces shall turn dark; for them, it has not be expressly mentioned if they shall be in that state for ever.

Sinning man earns his own punishment

The verse (106) (now taste the punishment because you have been sinning) indicates that the punishment on that Day is not from Allah but that it is as consequence of what man has earned while living his mortal life, for the truth is that the blessings of paradise and the hardships of hell are simply a changed form of our very deeds. So, later on in verse 108, it was said: (and Allah wants no injustice for (anyone in the worlds) which means that Allah has no intention of being unjust to His creation. Whatever reward or punishment there is, is nothing but justice and very much the perfect expression of the divine wisdom and mercy. (Ma'ariful Qur'an)

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#277 [Permalink] Posted on 28th December 2011 08:36
Tafseer Of Surah Aale 'Imraan, Verse 110

"You are the best Ummah raised for mankind. You bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair and believe in Allah. And if the people of the Book had believed, it would have been better for them. Of them, there are the believers, while most of them are the sinners."[110] (3:110)


In previous verses, Muslims were asked to take special care in order to remain steadfast in their faith, bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair. In the present verse, it has been further emphasised that these are the very reasons why Allah Almighty has conferred upon the Ummah of Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, the status of 'Khayr al-Umam', the best of communities, dignified and elevated, whe it does what it has been charged to do.

Why the best of communities?

The Holy Qur'an has, in different verses, given several reason for declaring the Ummah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him as the best Ummah, the most important of which has appeared in Surah al-Baqarah, that is:

And in the same way We made you a moderate Ummah (community). (2:143)

A detailed explanation of this verse can be seen in Volume I of this commentary (Note: See Tafseer of 2:143 -,-verse-143.html)). This portion deals with the major reason why the Ummah of Muhammad Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has been called the best of human communities. There it has been pointed out that moderation is its great characteristic and that it is visible in all department of its collective life.

In this particular verse, another reason has been given. The reason is that this community has been raised for the sole purpose of dispensing good to all beings created by Allah. It has been actually charged with the function of remaining concerned with their spiritual and moral reformation. Seen in the perspective of past communities, it was this community which contributed most in the mission of 'bidding the Fair and forbidding the Unfair', even though this was already enjoined upon past communities as mentioned in authentic ahadith. However, to begin with, several past communities did not have Jihad as a religious obligation, in which case, the mission of 'bidding the Fair' could only be carried out by heart and tongue only. Available with the followers of Muhammad Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him is a third option of 'bidding the Fair', that of the power of the hand, which also includes all sorts of Jihad. Then, the enforcement of Islamic laws through the agency of the government is also a part of it.

In the case of other communities, distinguishing features of religion were gradually obliterated by general inertia. The obligation of amr bil ma'ruf, the ordained mission of bidding the Fair, also stood totally forsaken. As far as this Ummah of his is concerned, the Messenger of Allah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him made this prophecy:

In this Ummah, there shall be right through the day of Doom, a group of people which will remain firm and stick to (the task of) bidding the Fair and forbidding the Unfair.

The second distinguishing feature of this community is that they 'believe in Allah': At this point one may ask why should this be a distinguishing feature of the Muslim community as belief in Allah has been the common factor between all past prophets and their communities. The answer is clear. No doubt, belief as such is common to all, but the degrees of perfection in belief differ. The degree of preference given to the community of Muhammad Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has a class of its own as compared to past communities.

Towards the end of the verse, it has been said about the people of the Book that there are some Muslims among them. This refers to those who had confirmed the prophethood of our Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him such as, Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn Salam and others. (Ma'ariful Qur'an)

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#278 [Permalink] Posted on 30th December 2011 09:21
Tafseer Of Surah Aal 'Imraan, Verse 111

"They shall never (be able to) cause you any harm except a little hurt. And if they fight you, they will turn their backs on you, then they shall not be helped."[111] (3:111)


In previous verses (98-101), it was shown how hostile to Muslims the people of the Book were and how they planned to bring religious harm to them. Mentioned in the present verse are their plans to harm Muslims materially. The last sentence carries the prophecy that they shall not succeed.

This prophecy of the Holy Qur'an was proved true when, during the entire period of prophethood, the people of the Book were unable to overcome the noble Companions who are the primary addressees here. This applies particularly to the Jewish tribes who had tried to sow seeds of discord among the Companions. The outcome was that these people were disgraced; some paid jizya, some were killed while others were exiled.

The next verse (112) makes the description complete. (Ma'ariful Qur'an)

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#279 [Permalink] Posted on 31st December 2011 07:47
Tafseer Of Surah Aal 'Imraan, Verse 112

"Disgrace has been stamped over them wherever they are found, unless (saved) through a source from Allah and through a source from men, and they have returned with wrath from Allah, and misery has been stamped over them. All this because they used to deny the signs of Allah and to slay the prophets unjustly. All this because they disobeyed and used to cross the limits."[112] (3:112)


The meaning of disgrace and wrath cast on the Jews:

A detailed discussion on this subject has already appeared under comments on verse 61 of Surah al-Baqarah where the text has not mentioned any exception. This can be seen in Volume I of this commentary (Note: see tafseer of 2:61,-61.html. It also covers the exception given in the present verse -

Briefly, the verse means that the Jews shall remain stamped with disgrace and misery except under two situations:

1. Though a Covenant of Allah. For example, a minor child or woman shall not be killed. (This exception is meant by the words 'through a source from Allah'.

2. Through a treaty obligation, that is, (through a source from men). Such patronage may cause their disgrace and misery not to become manifest. The specific words used in the Holy Qur'an i.e., a source from men, cover all men, believers and disbelievers. The possibility that they live with freedom after making a peace treaty with Muslims is included here. Also possible is the situation that they may come under the protection of other non-Muslim powers through a peace treaty (or informal collaboration strategy), a situation that prevails in the form of the present-day state of Israel. To discerning people all over the world, it is no secret that the state of Israel is really a joint encampment of the West. Behind all the facade of power they appear to have is the power of others. If the U.S., U.K., Europe, and USSR too, were daring enough to withdraw their patronage of Israel, it would not survive for a day. Allah knows best. (Ma'ariful Qur'an)

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#280 [Permalink] Posted on 2nd January 2012 07:57
Tafseer Of Surah Aal 'Imraan, Verses 113-117

"Not all of them are alike: Among the people of the Book there are those who are steadfast; they recite the verses of Allah in the night hours and they prostrate; [113] they believe in Allah and the Hereafter, and bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair, and race towards the good deeds. They are among the righteous. [114] And whatever good they do, they shall never be deprived of it. And Allah is All-Aware of the God-fearing. [115] Surely, those who disbelieve, neither their wealth nor their children shall help them against Allah; and they are the people of the Fire. They shall be there for ever. [116] The example of what they spend in this worldly life is just like a wind which, having chill within, hit the tillage of those who wronged themselves, and destroyed it. And Allah has not wronged them, instead, they wrong themselves."[117] (3:113-117)


In verse 110, it was said that among the people of the Book there are those who believe, yet most of them are disbelievers. Details appear in the present verse which gives a complementary profile of those who believed from among the people of the Book, and by becoming Muslims, they adopted the distinguishing hallmarks of the Faith that go to make believers the best of communities.

Soon after praising those who had embraced Islam from among the people of the Book, the text censures those of them who did not embrace Islam and insisted on retaining their stance of disbelief, not realizing that their wealth and their children will be unable to save them from the punishment of Allah and Hell shall be their eternal abode.

Verse 117 declares through a similitude that disbelievers simply waste what they spend in this worldly life, for belief in Islam is a precondition in order that such spendings be acceptable with Allah, of whatever sort they may be. The similitude stresses the fact that disbelievers inflict this injustice upon themselves when their spendings go to waste in this world and remain rewardless in the Hereafter. If they were not to wrong themselves, if they were to embrace Islam, they would have been like other Muslims who, on suffering a worldly loss, are compensated by Allah through reward and forgiveness of sins, as reported in ahaadeeth. (Ma'ariful Qur'an)

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#281 [Permalink] Posted on 3rd January 2012 08:16
Tafseer Of Surah Aal 'Imraan, Verses 118-120

"O those who believe, do not take anyone as insider but from your own selves. They would spare no effort to do you mischief. They want you to be in trouble. Malice has come out of their mouths while what is concealed in their hearts is far worse. We have made the signs clear to you, provided that you understand. [118] Look, you are the ones who love them and they do not love you. And you believe in the Book, in all of it. And when they meet you, they say, "We believe", and when they are alone they bite their finger-tips out of rage against you. Say, 'Die in your rage." Surely, Allah is All-Aware of what lies in the hearts. [119] If something good happens to you, it annoys them and if something evil befalls you, they are delighted with it. And if you keep patience and fear Allah, their cunning shall not harm you at all. And Allah is All-Encompassing of what they do."[120] (3:118-120)


These verses were revealed in a particular background. There were Jewish settlements around Madinah. They had old friendly ties with the tribes of Aws and Khazraj. Individuals from these tribes were also on friendly terms with other individuals from the Jewish settlements. In their tribal capacity too, Aws and Khazraj were to the Jews their neighbours and allies. When these two tribes embraced Islam, they continued to maintain their old ties with them. Individuals from these tribes saw no problems in meeting their old Jewish friends with the same love and sincerity.

But, Jews were so hostile to the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him and the religion brought by him that they were unwilling to be sincere and loving to anyone who had said yes to the prophetic call and had embraced Islam. So, they outwardly went along with the same old relationships with the Ansars of Madinah, but inwardly they had turned into their enemies. The apparent friendship they had allowed to remain became their cover which they utilized in their sinister efforts to foment trouble among Muslims so that their unity could be disintegrated. They even went to the limit of banking on this feigned friendship with Muslims to find out their organizational secrets and pass them on to the enemies.

It is this hypocritical behaviour of theirs which Allah Almighty has asked Muslims to guard against. We have been given an important rule of conduct when it was said:

O those who believe, do not take anyone as insider but from your own selves.

The word, bitanah used here means a friend, confidant, one with whom secrets are shared. The lining or inside part of a dress which stays close to the body is also known as bitanah. Derived from batn (inside), it is used in everything opposed to zahr (outside). That which is outside is zahr and that which is inside is batn. In garments, the outer part is ziharah and the inner part touching the body such as a lining is called bitanah. [There is an expression in English - hand in glove- which comes close to this sense, even if partly. It means 'to be on very intimate terms'.] Similarly, the expression, bitanatu-th'thawb lends the metaphor of friend, confidant, one who comes to know internal secrets and that is how the word, bitanah is used to carry that sense. The well-known, and quite reliable lexicon of Arabic, Lisan al-'Arab explains bitanah as follows:

It means that a person's bitanah is one who knows his secrets, has access to his affairs in which he seeks his advice. Raghib al-Isfahani in his Mufradat and al-Qurtubi in his Tafsir have given the same meaning. (The word, 'bitanah', translated here as 'insider' is an effort to cover some of these important shades of meaning.)

So, it has been enjoined upon Muslims through this verse that they should not take persons other than those from their own community as confidants and advisers, in a way that leads one into spilling the sensitive secrets of one's own government, community or state. No doubt, under the shade of its universal mercy, Islam has given unusual instructions to Muslims in order that they treat non-Muslims with compassion, goodwill, beneficence, kindliness and tolerance, and not leaving it at that, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has put these in actual practice in all affairs concerning non-Muslims. But, at the same time, and in perfect wisdom, binding instructions were given so as to make sure that the organized body of Muslims and its particular hallmarks stay protected. A Muslim cannot be permitted to go beyond a certain limit when developing or promoting relations (unilateral, bilateral or multi-lateral) with those who disbelieve in or practice hostility against the Law of Islam. This is so because such an action throws the doors of harm and danger open both for the individuals and the community. This arrangement is clear, reasonable, appropriate, and very necessary to give secure frontiers to the individuals as well as to the Muslim state.

About non-Muslims resident in Islamic states or those tied with Muslims through a treaty, the teachings of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him and his most emphatic instructions for their protection are all part of the Islamic law. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has said:

Whoever harms a Dhimmi (protected non-Muslim), I shall be his opponent on the Day of Judgement and I always defeat the one whom I oppose. (Reported by Ibn Mas'ud)

In another hadith, he said:

My Lord has prohibited me to wrong the one protected by a treaty, or anyone other than him. (narrated by Sayyidna 'Ali)

In yet another hadith, he said:

Beware, whoever wrongs a non-Muslim protected by treaty, or usurps his right, or obligates him to do what is beyond his power, or takes from him something without his genuine consent, then, I shall be the advocate for him (the said non-Muslim) on the day of Judgement.

Side by side with these concessions and considerations for non-Muslims, instructions were given to Muslims that they should protect their distinct group cohesion by not trusting enemies of Islam and Muslims with their secrets. Ibn Abi Hatim narrates that Sayyidna 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him was asked to appoint a young non-Muslim as the chief manager and scribe in his office since he was very good at that. Thereupon, he said:

If I were to take him in, in that case, I will be taking an insider from among non-Muslims (which is against the Qur'anic authority).

Imam al-Qurtubi (may Allaah have mercy on him), a famous scholar and commentator of the fifth century says, with marked pensive longing, that contravention of this teaching of the Qur'an has produced evil results for Muslims:

Things have so changed these days that Jews and Christians were trusted with secrets and considered trustworthy through which they we're able to prevail over the ignorant rich, the rulers and the chiefs.

Even today, in a state established under a particular ideology, a person who does not subscribe to this ideology cannot be admitted into the inner echelons of power as a confidant. In Russia and China, a person who does not believe in communism is not given any responsible office or, farther still, trusted with state secrets. A close study of the decline of Muslim states would reveal several reasons behind it. One of the oft-repeated ones will be that Muslims had entrusted their sensitive affairs in the hands of non-Muslim confidants. This policy was an active factor in the decline of the Ottoman Caliphate as well.

The reason why this command has been given is explained soon after. Starting from (they would spare no effort to do you mischief) and ending at (provided that you understand), the text warns Muslims that they should not take anyone other than their own Muslim brothers as insiders on their affairs, for no other group, be they Jews, Christians, hypocrites or other disbelievers, could be their genuine well-wishers. Contrary to that, they are always on the look out for opportunities to hoodwink and hurt them materially and spiritually. They are always plotting to harm them in this worldly life as well as to take them away from the enjoined pursuits of their Faith. All this is what the Muslims can see for themselves, but the venom that lies hidden in their hearts is far too fatal. However there are times when they are enraged with their deceptive cool front thrown off and the fangs of their deep hostility become clearly visible. Why would an intelligent person take such people as his confidant? Allah Almighty has pointed out who they are and what has to be done about them. Now it is upto him who understands what is involved here.

The sentence (they want you to be in trouble) is a perfect mirror of the mentality of disbelievers. Here, the in-depth teaching is that no non-Muslim can ever be the real friend and well-wisher of Muslims.

After that, in verse 119: , Muslims have been told that 'it is certainly strange that you go about loving them as friends, yet they are no friends of yours. Indeed, they are your worst enemies. Still more unusual is the situation because you believe in all Scriptures without any reservations as to the people they address, the time when they were sent down and the prophet they were revealed to. Contrary to this, they do not accept your Book and your Prophet. Their belief in their own Books is not correct either. Given this state of affairs it would have been expected that they should have been affectionate towards you and you should have been the ones to give them a cold shoulder. But, what is happening here is just the reverse of what it should have been.'

The mentality of disbelievers has been further clarified by saying: in the first part of verse 120 which has been translated as, 'if something good happens to you, it annoys them and if something evil befalls you, they are delighted with it.'
How can Muslims remain protected against the aftermath of sinster moves of the hypocrites and the deadly hostility of opponents? For this, a simple and effective prescription was suggested in:

And if you keep patience and fear Allah, their cunning shall not harm you at all. Surely, Allah is All-Encompassing of what they do.

Sabr and Taqwa: Panacea for Muslims

The Holy Qur'an has prescribed sabr (patience, endurance) and Taqwa (fear of Allah) as an effective measure against all hardships. This elemental teaching has been conveyed to Muslims not only here but also at many other places in the Qur'an. For instance, in the section that follows immediately, it has been said:

Why not? If you stay patient and fear Allah and they come upon you in this heat of theirs, your Lord will reinforce you with five thousand of the angels having distinct marks. (3:125)

Here, the promise of divine help has been made conditional upon Sabr and Taqwa.
In Surah Yusuf, it has been said:

Whoever fears Allah and keeps patience.... (12:90)

Here too, prosperity and success have been tied with Sabr and Taqwa. Towards the end of this very Surah, Sabr is being proposed in the following words:

O those who believe, be patient, be more patient than others, and guard your frontiers, and fear Allah so that you may be successful. (3:200)

Once again, prosperity and success have been made dependent on Sabr and Taqwa.

The two words, Sabr and Taqwa, though looking like a short title, are nevertheless very comprehensive. They contain within themselves a successful rule for all aspects of individual and collective life as well as public, government and military affairs.

The Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has said, as narrated by Sayyidna Abu Dharr Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him:

I know a verse which, if people were to take to it, would suffice them. And that is: 'And whoever fears Allah, for him He shall make a way out (of the difficulties) - 65:2.' (Ma'ariful Qur'an)

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#282 [Permalink] Posted on 4th January 2012 07:58

Tafseer Of Surah Aal 'Imraan, Verses 121-123


"And when you left your house in the morning in order to place the believers in positions for fighting. And Allah is all-Hearing, all-Knowing. [121] When two of your groups were about to lose heart, while Allah was their guardian. And it is in Allah alone that the believers must place their trust. [122] And Allah certainly supported you at Badr when you were weak. So, fear Allah that you may be grateful."[123] (3:121-123)


In the previous verses, it was said that no power could harm Muslims if they observed patience and fear of Allah (sabr and taqwa). Now, the temporary set-back faced by Muslims during the battle of Uhud was due to their failure to observe these rules of conduct fully. The present verses remind Muslims of what happened during the battle of Uhud, and also, of their victory at the battle of Badr.


Before we proceed to explain these verses, it is appropriate that we have before us a sequence of events that came to pass at Uhud.

The Background Of The Battle Of Uhud

It was the month of Ramadan, Hijrah year 2, when the Quraysh army and the Muslim mujahidin fought a battle at Badr in which 70 well-known kuffar (disbelievers) of Makkah were killed and an equal number was taken prisoners. This defeat, disastrous and disgraceful it was, and really the first instalment of Divine punishment, incensed the Quraysh; their search for revenge knew no bounds. The relatives of Quraysh chiefs who were killed at Badr, appealing to the traditional Arab pride, resolved that they would not rest until they have avenged their defeat at Badr at the hands of the Muslims. They proposed to Makkans that the sale proceeds from things brought in by their trade caravan from Syria should be spent on nothing but this war so that they can avenge the slaying of their comrades by Muhammad Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him and his companions. To this, everybody agreed and it was in the Hijrah year 3 that the Quraysh, along with several other tribes as well, marched out to mount an attack on Madinah. The invading force included even women so that they could appeal to the sense of honour their men had and implore them not to retreat, if they ever did.

When this armed force of three thousand strong, all laced with weapons and other logistics, pitched up its tents near the mountain of Uhud, about three or four miles outside Madinah, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him went into consultation with Muslims. In his blessed opinion, warding off the enemy by staying in Madinah was easy and more likely to succeed. This was the first time that the leader of the hypocrites, 'Abdullah ibn Ubayy, who outwardly went along with Muslims, was asked to give his opinion, which turned out to be the same as that of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him. But, some zealous Muslims, who were unable to take part in the Badr encounter and were intensely eager to lay down their lives in the cause of Islam, insisted that they should go out and fight the enemy in the open so that the enemy does not take them to be cowards. To this, the majority turned.

In the meantime, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him went to his house and when he came out, he had his armour on. At that point of time, some people thought that they had forced him, against his opinion, to lead the fight outside Madinah in the open. Realizing what they did was wrong, they submitted to him that he could act according to his opinion and stay in Madinah. The answer was: 'It does not behove a prophet, once he has put on his armour and taken up his arms, to put them off without fighting.' This one sentence is'sufficient to clarify the difference between a prophet and a non-prophet. A prophet cannot show weakness in that capacity. Then, here lies a lesson for the community as well.

When the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him left Madinah on his way to confront the enemy, he had about a thousand men with him, but the hypocrite 'Abdullah ibn Ubayy broke off enroute with about three hundred men, saying: 'When my advice was rejected and action was taken on the advice of others, why should we fight and why should we endanger our lives?' Obviously, most of his comrades were hypocrites, yet there were some Muslims too who swallowed the bait and tugged along with them.

Finally, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him reached the battlefield with a total of seven hundred mujahidin. He personally took charge of the action area setting up all arrangements in a formal military manner. The formations of his men were so placed that the mount of Uhud remained on their rear. Sayyidna Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr was made the standard-bearer and Sayyidna Zubayr ibn 'Awwam, the commander of the mounted troops. Sayyidna Hamzah was given the command of the unarmoured. On the rear, there was some likelihood that the enemy may cut his way in from that side. So, he positioned a company of fifty archers (arrow-shooters) on a hillock in the rear and ordered them to stand on guard against any attack from that side. They were specifically instructed not to bother about the fighting down the hill, irrespective of whether they win or lose, and were told that they just do not have to move from their appointed place.

The command of the company of archers was given to Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn Jubayr. As for the Quraysh, they had gone through the battle of Badr and they too went into battle formations in an orderly manner.

The Battle Of Uhud

[The strategy used in this battle shows that the Prophet of Islam was not only a perfect leader and teacher, but also a creative military strategist, something not known in the world of that time. Comparing the battle plans of the two camps, Tom Under, a twentieth century historian says in his book, The Life of Muhammad that his opponents had courage and bravery but it was he who broke new ground in the management of warfare. The Makkan disbelievers fought recklessly and haphazardly while he used great foresightedness, strict discipline and efficient organization as additional assets.]

When the battle started, Muslims had an upper hand right from the beginning, so much so that the enemy forces went into total disarray. Muslims thought they had won and turned toward the spoils. At this point, the archers who were appointed by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him to guard the rear also noticed that the enemy was on the run and they too started coming down from the mountain leaving their assigned battle station. Their commander, Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn Jubayr reminded them of the emphatic command of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him not to move from their place of duty and. tried his best to stop them. But, except a few, others took the plea that as the order was tied with time they should now go and be with the rest. Khalid ibn Walid, who had not yet embraced Islam, was commanding a company of Makkan disbelievers. Making timely use of this opportunity, he went round the hill, went up through a pass and made a surprise attack. Sayyidna 'Abdullah ibn Jubayr Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him and the small number of men left with him tried their best to stop them but they were unable to do so and the chargers were able to pounce on Muslim forces down the hill all of a sudden. This situation made the running enemy turn back and reinforce the attack. The fate of the battle was totally reversed. Muslims were so confused with this unexpected turn of the battle that a major portion of them scattered away from the battle field. However, some Companions were still holding on resolutely.

In the meantime, a rumour went round that the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has met his shahadah (martyrdom). This shattered the nerves of his Companions and most of them lost heart. At that time, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him was in the midst of about ten or twelve very devoted Companions. He was injured. Defeat was about to come when, in the right moment, the Companions scattered on the battlefield came to know that the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him was alive. They regrouped themselves around him and moved him away towards the hill safely.

This defeat which made Muslims terribly upset was temporary, and there were causes behind it. The Holy Qur'an comments on each cause in extremely measured words and exhorts Muslims to be cautious in the future.

Lessons From The Events Of Uhud

The events of the battle of Uhud have in them a treasure of good advice and wise guidance for all Muslims. It will be recalled that the Qurayshi disbelievers had brought women with them so that they could excite them to fight and, in case of a retreat, put them to shame and exhort them to go back into the battle. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him saw that Hindah, the wife of Abu Sufyan, was leading a group of women who were chanting poetical compositions to arouse the fighting passions of their men. They were saying:
that is, 'if you fight right on and win, we shall embrace you and make a soft bed for you, but, if you turn back, we shall make you miss our love.'

In contrast, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him may Allah bless him, was saying this in his prayer: 'O Allah, from Thee I draw my strength and for Thee and in Thy name, I attack and fight. Sufficient for me is Allah, the only one good to trust.'

This prayer, every word in it, is demonstrating how Muslims should strengthen their connection with Allah not only in peace, but also in war, a pattern of behaviour which is drawing a line of clear distinction between Muslims and other nations.

2. Victory in war comes from Allah and not from piles of hardware.
Let us look at this lesson through the tightly-held frame of this battle. Is'nt it that the noble Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all left behind them indelible marks of gallantry, sacrifice and dedication the class of which would be difficult to match in history? Sayyidna Abu Dujanah Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him had turned his body into a shield for his beloved Prophet  taking all incoming arrows on his back. Sayyidna Talhah Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him body all perforated with arrow-heads, but he still did not leave his blessed master unprotected. Sayyidna Anas ibn al-Nadir Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him, the uncle of Sayyidna Anas ibn Malik Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him was absent from the battle of Badr which he regretted very much and longed to make amends whenever he could get the first opportunity to take part in a Jihad in the company of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him.

A little later, came the battle of Uhud and Sayyidna Anas ibn al-Nadlr was in it. When Muslims had scattered away and the disbe­lievers of Quraysh were coming in overwhelming strength, he started to mount his charge, sword in hand, when he met Sayyidna Sa'd who was going with the group of those who had scattered away from the battlefield. He called out to him, "O Sa'd, where are you going? I smell the scent of Paradise in this valley of Uhud.' Saying this, he charged ahead and it was after a tough fight that he finally laid his life in the way of Allah. (Ibn Kathir)

Sayyidna Jabir Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him says, "when Muslims became scattered, there were only eleven Companions left with the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him, Sayyidna TalhahRadhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with himbeing one of them. The forces of Quraysh were surging forward. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him said, 'Who is going to take care of them?' Sayyidna Talhah Radhi-Allahu Anh: Allah be pleased with him responded immediately,  'I shall do that, O Messenger of Allah.' Another Companion, an Ansari, said, 'I am at your service.' He asked the Ansari Companion to go, who fought, and fell a martyr. Then came another pressure wave. He asked the same question again. Sayyidna Talhah offered himself as before. He was all impatient to hear the command of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him so that he could go ahead. He, once again, sent some other Ansari Companion and Sayyidna Talhah's wish remained unfulfilled. Thus, it was seven times that the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him, asked the question and every time Sayyidna Talhah was not permitted to go while other Companions were permitted to go and meet their shahadah (martyrdom).

3. Muslims were few in number, yet they won at Badr. Comparatively they were more in number at Uhud, yet they lost. Here too, for, Muslims there is a lesson to learn: Muslims should not rely on their numerical or material strength, military hardware or logistic support but they should make sure that they take victory as something which comes by the grace of Allah Almighty and therefore, they must always watch out that their relationship with Allah remains strong.

What happened at the battle of Yarmuk is worth remembering, The officer-in-command at the war front wrote to Sayyidna 'Umar, the Khalifah at Madinah, requesting reinforcements in view of a reduced number of fighters. The reply that he gave is reproduced below:

"Your letter reached me. You have requested reinforcements and I direct you to One who is most-powerful support-wise and most-protecting army-wise, that is, Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted. So, seek help from Him - because Muhammad, may Allah bless him, was helped on the day of Badr despite their being fewer in numbers. So, when this letter of mine reaches you - fight. And do not turn back to me." (Ibn Kathir, with reference to the Musnad of Ahmad)

The narrator says, when they received this letter, they mounted an attack in the name of Allah, all of a sudden, against the formidable forces of disbelievers who were defeated. Sayyidna 'Umar knew that victory or defeat for Muslims does not depend upon numbers. Instead, it depends upon trust in Allah, and on His help. This fact has been clearly stated by the Holy Qur'an with reference to the battle of Hunayn: '(Remember) the day of Hunayn when you became proud about your numbers, then, nothing worked to your advantage.' (9:25)

Now, let us turn to the explanation of these verses:

1. Verse 121 begins with the words, (When you left vour house in the morning in order to place the believers in positions • for fighting).

This is an example of the miraculous style of the Holy Qur'an, specially when it reports events. It does not describe any event in its total detail as a matter of general principle. Events, or their details are taken up only when they carry with them implied points of guidance. For instance, a particular secondary detail, such as the time of leaving the house, has been identified through the word, ('ghadawta'); and hadith narrations prove that this morning was that of the seventh of Shawwal, Hijrah year 3.

Then comes the description of the point from where this expedition started. The word, min ahlika indicates that the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him was with his family at that time and when the time came to leave, he left, leaving his family behind him, even though this attack was aimed at Madinah. These secondary details have guidance built in them. When there is the command of Allah, it is expected that the love of family and home should not stop one from obeying it. It will be noticed that details of what happened between the period of leaving the house and reaching the war front remain undescribed. Instead, the first thing done on the war front has been described as the placing of believers in position for fighting.

The verse ends with the words, (And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing). By reminding Muslims of these attributes of Allah, it has been pointed out that everything said by the two parties at that time was all in the knowledge of Allah Almighty, and absolutely nothing of what happened to the two of them remains hidden from Him, and so shall it be with the end of the war; that too, is not hidden from Him.

Next comes verses 122 beginning with the words, of (When two of your groups tended to lose heart while Allah was their guardian). These 'two groups' refer to the Bani Harithah of the tribe of Aws and Bani Salamah of the tribe of Khazraj. These 'two groups' lost the courage to fight when they saw the hypocrite, 'Abdullah ibn Ubayy and his men breaking away. But, Allah, in his grace, helped them come out of this state of apprehensiveness. Here, the fact was that their weakness was caused by the thought, and certainly not because of any weakness in faith. Ibn Hisham, the famous historian of Muslim battles has made this very clear. Then, the very Qur'anic statement, (while Allah was their guardian) is a testimony to their perfect faith. Therefore, some elders from these two tribes used to say: "No doubt, the verse contains a complaint against us, but at the same time it bears a good news for us in the words: (while Allah was their guardian).

3. Towards the end of the verse, it has been said: "And it is in Allah alone that the believers must place their trust." Here, it has been made clear that Muslims should not rely on their superiority in men and materials. Not that they have to ignore material needs of the combat; of course, they should have whatever they can get together subject to their means, but the crucial thing is that they must place their total trust in Allah, and Allah alone. The apprehension of weak­ness that overtook Banu Harithah and Banu Salamah was caused by this material lack of strength. Therefore, tawakkul or trust in Allah was suggested as the treatment of all sorts of apprehensions.

Tawakkul is one of the superior human qualities. It does not mean that one should cut off all his connections with the effort to collect material support. On the contrary, one should collect what is obviously needed to the best of his ability, use it, and then, let Allah take care of the outcome. It is also necessary that one should not become proud of what has been collected as material assets, instead, "We trust in Allah" should be the sole concern. The good example of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him is before us. That he himself organized the fighting strength of Muslims during this Jihad, assembled weapons and other war materials to the best of his ability, prepared battle plans appropriate to the time and place. Once on the war front, he set up entrenchments with combat-ready Companions placed therein. These were all part of the material-functional management of the battle. By making use of these with his own blessed hands, our beloved master, the last and foremost of prophets, demonstrated that material facilities are also a blessing of Allah Almighty. Ignoring them or turning away from them cannot be called what tawakkul is. Here, the attitude of a Muslim slightly differs from that of a non-Muslim. A Muslim would, given his ability and means, collect all sorts of necessary material support, yet when it comes to trust and tawakkul that he would place in none but Allah. The non-Muslim is bereft of this spiritual dimension for he relies on his brute material strength. The manifestation of this difference has been common sight throughout all Islamic battles.

4. The focus now turns to a particular battle where Muslims had demonstrated perfect tawakkul and Allah Almighty had blessed them with support and success. The reference to the battle of Badr, in the following words, has appeared in this very context.

And Allah certainly supported you at Badr when you were weak. (123)

Badr: Location And Importance

Badr is located about eighty miles south-west of Madinah and used to be a halting-place while travelling between Makkah and Madinah, before the modern Tariq al-Hijrah was commissioned into service which bypasses it.

At that time, Badr was known for its abundance of water, something very important in the desert zones of Arabia. The first armed encounter between believers and disbelievers came to pass at this spot on Friday, Ramadan al-Mubarak, Hijrah year 2 which fell on March 11, 624 A.D. On a superficial view, this battle appears to be a local tribal war, but the truth is that it has charted a revolutionary course in the history of the world, therefore, the Holy Qur'an calls it Yawm al-Furqan (a day of distinction). According to Professor Philip Hitti, this was Islam's first clear victory.

The expression translated as 'when you were weak' means that 'you were, at that time, few in numbers and materials'. According to strong and authentic narrations, the number of Muslims was 313. This 'army' had two horses and seventy camels. On these, they took their turns while riding.

The verse ends with the statement: (So, fear Allah that you may be grateful). This may remind one of the many places in the Holy Qur'an where Taqwa (fear of Allah) and Sabr (patience) have been prescribed as a security shield against the machinations of the hypocrites and the harmful effects of hostile enemies. Right here, in these two behaviour models, there lies the secret of an entire organized struggle, and clear victory, that comes in its wake. As mentioned elsewhere, taqwa and sabr have not been mentioned here, in conjunction. Instead, taqwa has been considered sufficient for, in reality, taqwa is such a comprehensive human attribute that sabr too gets to be included therein. (Ma'ariful Qur'an)


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#283 [Permalink] Posted on 5th January 2012 08:06
Tafseer Of Surah Aal 'Imraan, Verses 124-129

When you were saying to the believers, "Shall it not suffice you that your Lord should help you with three thousand of the angel sent down (for you)?" [124] Why not? If you stay patient and fear Allah and they come upon you even in this heat of theirs, your Lord will reinforce you with five thousand of the angels having distinct marks. (125] And Allah did it only that it be a good news for you and that your hearts may be at rest with it. And help is from none but Allah, the All-powerful, the All-Wise. [126] That He may cut off a flank of disbelievers or throw them down in disgrace, and they go back frustrated. [127] You have no authority in the matter, unless Allah forgives them or punishes them, as they are unjust. [128] And to Allah belongs what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. He forgives whomsoever He wills and punishes whomsoever He wills. And Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful."[129] (3:124-129)


In the previous verses, the battle of Badr was cited in relation to the battle of Uhud. Briefly stated there was the unseen support from Allah Almighty given to Muslims. In the present verses, some details of that support have been mentioned. Also stated is the wisdom behind the sending of angels.

One may naturally ask a question here. When Allah Almighty has endowed His angels with such power that just one of them could overturn an entire habitation, very much like what happened with the land of the people of Lut (A.S) which was overturned single-handedly by the angel Jibra'il, why was it necessary to send out an army of angels? In addition to that, given the introduction of angels onto the battlefield, the obvious result should have been the total annihilation of every single infidel.

The Holy Qur'an has, itself, given the answer in the verse . It means that the purpose behind the sending of angels was not really to help score a victory on the battlefield. Instead, the purpose was to give the believers the good news of victory to comfort them and to strengthen their hearts. This is very clear from the words (only that it be a good news) and (that your hearts may be at rest) in the text. Far more clear are the words of Surah al-Anfal about this event: (So, make those who believe firm - 8:12). Here, the address is to the angels and they have been asked to see that Muslims do not get anxious and that their hearts stay firm.

How can hearts be made to stay firm? There are many possible ways, one of them could be through their spiritual input, something not too dissimilar to the direct beaming of attention as practiced by mystic shaykhs.

The possibility of doing this in several less complex forms also exists. For instance, they may simply assure the believers that angels are standing ready to help them - by appearing before them, by their voice signs or by some other method - as was witnessed in the battle of Badr where all these methods were used. In fact, in one exegetic explanation of the verse (So, strike over the necks - 8:12), this address is to the angels. According to some hadith narrations, when an angel decided to attack a disbeliever, the head of the disbeliever slid of his body all by itself. [From Sahl ibn Hanif vide Al-Hakim and Baihaqi.]

It has also been reported that some noble Companions heard the voice of Jibra'il saying, 'Charge, Haizum!' [The steed of Jibra'il.] Some of them saw some angels (Muslim), All these sensory experiences are part of the same chain of Divine support. Evidences prove that the angels of Allah did a few things to impress upon Muslims that the angels too are participating in fighting as a sort of assurance that His support through the angels is there. As said earlier, their objective was far from winning a war for the believers. Their real mission was to comfort Muslims and to give their hearts strength. That the obligation of Jihad has been placed on men in this mortal world, and that is how they are enabled to deserve merits and ranks in the Hereafter, is a clear proof of this view. If Allah Almighty had willed that countries be conquered through armies of angels, the very name of disbelief and disbelievers would have been effaced from the face of the earth, not to say much about governments and empires. But, in this system of the material world, Allah Almighty has not just willed it so. Here, disbelief and faith, obedience and sin shall continue to exist side by side. The great divide shall come on the Day of Resurrection when the true and the false shall become all distinct.

The Rationale Of The Promises

Let us now turn to the promises of angelic help in the battle of Badr. The verse of Surah al-Anfal carries the promise of one thousand angels. In the present verse of Surah 'Al-'Imran, the promise begins with three thousand, then goes up to five. What is the wisdom behind this?

The fact is that Muslims noticed the thousand-strong force of the enemy in the battle of Badr, as stated in Surah al-Anfal, and compared it with their total count of three hundred and thirteen, so they invoked the help of Allah Almighty against such heavy odds. Thereupon, came the promise of one thousand angels, implying thereby that the number of their enemy shall be matched by an identical number of angels. The words of the verse are:

When you were calling your Lord for help, so He responded to you (saying): I am going to support you with one thousand of the angels, one following the other. ( 8:12)

Even after this verse, the same purpose behind the sending of angels was made clear by saying: "And Allah did it, only that it be a good news for you, and that your hearts may be at rest with it."

Then comes the present verse of Surah 'Al-'Imran. Here, the promise of three thousand angels was probably made due to the reports received by Muslims that Kurz ibn Jabir Muharibi was marching towards the battlefield of Badr with his tribal forces in support of the disbelievers of Makkah (as in Ruh al-Ma'ani). The actual position in the confrontation was that the enemy forces were already three times larger than those of Muslims, who were somewhat disturbed by this news. Thereupon, a promise of three thousand angels was made so that the ratio is reversed and the number of Muslims goes three times higher than that of the enemy.

After that, right there towards the end of this verse, this number was increased, subject to conditions, to five thousand. The conditions were:

A. That Muslims shall hold on firmly to the great qualities of sabr (patience) and taqwa (fear of Allah).

B. That they come under enemy attack all of a sudden.
Out of these two conditions, the second one did not just materialize, therefore, the promise of the number, five thousand, did not remain effective. Granted that the second condition of the promise did not come to pass, major commentators and historians differ as to the actual fulfillment of the promise - was it in the form of five thousand or three thousand only? All these positions have been mentioned in Ruh al-Ma'ani.

From the verse (You have no authority in the matter) (128), the text returns to the main event of Uhud after a brief mention of the event of Badr in between. This verse was revealed in the background of the battle of Uhud where the Holy ProphetSallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him lost one of his teeth, the lower right premolar, to be exact. His face injured, he is reported to have uttered: 'How shall such people prosper, people who do this to their prophet, although that prophet is calling them towards God?'. Thereupon, this verse was revealed.

According to yet another story from the Sahih al-Bukhari, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has been reported to have invoked evil fate for some disbelievers, whereupon came the revelation of this verse in which the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has been counselled to remain patient and forbearing. [Bayan al-Qur'an] [Ma'ariful Qur'an]

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#284 [Permalink] Posted on 6th January 2012 07:56
Tafseer Of Surah Aal 'Imraan, Verses 130-131

"O those who believe, do not eat Riba (interest) doubled and multiplied. And fear Allah so that you may be successful. [130] And fear the Fire that has been prepared for the disbelievers."[131] (3:130-131

The Meaning Of Doubled And Multiplied

The detailed rules regarding 'riba' and the philosophy underlying its prohibition have been discussed thoroughly in Surah al-Baqarah verses 275-278:





However, it may be pointed out here that words (doubled and multiplied) used in this verse do not mean that the prohibition of 'riba' is restricted only to a transaction where the interest is doubled or multiplied. In fact, these words are not used in a restrictive sense, because it is evident from Surah al-Baqarah that 'riba' or interest is prohibited in any case, even though its rate is not so high as to make it doubled or multiplied.

These words are used only to explain the factual position prevalent at that time, and to indicate its unjust and evil nature. Moreover, these words also suggest that even the interest charged is simple and not compound, yet once a person is engaged in the business of interest he does not stop at charging interest in one transaction only. Rather, he reinvests the income of interest in another loan transaction, and keeps investing the interest proceeds in similar transactions again and again, and thus the ultimate result is that the original interest charged through the first transaction is doubled and multiplied. (Ma'ariful Qur'an)
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#285 [Permalink] Posted on 7th January 2012 13:58
Tafseer Of Surah Aal 'Imraan, Verses 132-133

"And obey Allah and the Messenger so that you may be blessed. [132] And race one another towards Forgiveness from your Lord and towards a paradise the width of which spans the heavens and the earth. It has been prepared for the God-fearing."[133] (3:132-133)


In the previous verse, Muslims were commanded to abstain from interest-based dealings, a sin which deprives them of the quality of taqwa, (the fear of Allah, the sense of responsibility before Him).

The present verses stress the positive aspects of taqwa and complement the earlier subject alongwith the promise of reward for those who observe it. Worth remembering throughout one's life is the second point which will serve him well if taken as the guiding light and the constant orientation. Allah Almighty has made it clear in these verses that the obedience to Allah and His Messenger does not become genuine and effective through lip-service alone. Instead, the obedient ones are known by what they are and what they do, by their traits of character and their deeds.

The Obedience Of Allaah (سبحانه و تعالى) And His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم)

The first verse, in a brief statement, presents a cardinal command of Faith in the following words: (And obey Allah and the Messenger so that you may be blessed). Here, in order that one becomes deserving of Divine mercy, the obedience to Allah Almighty has been declared necessary and binding, and along with it, the obedience of the Messenger Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has been made equally necessary and binding. This is something not limited to this verse alone. It has been repeatedly stressed throughout the Holy Qur'an. The pattern of combining the command to obey Allah Almighty, immediately followed by the command to obey the Messenger, appears in the Qur'an again and again. These continued and constant statements of the Holy Qur'an are there to remind human beings that these are the basic principles of Islam and 'Iman. The first part of the Faith is to affirm and declare the existence of God, His Oneness, and that man is there to worship and obey Him. The second part is the confirmation of His Messenger, and of obedience to him.

Also worth noting are the statements of the Holy Qur'an which prove that, whatever the noble Messenger Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him says is by Divine permission and not on his own. The Holy Qur'an says:

And he (the messenger) does not speak out of his own desire. It is not but a revelation revealed (to him) (53:3)

From this, we arrive at the conclusion that the obedience to the Messenger is the very same as the obedience to Allah. It is nothing separate from it. In Surah Al-Nisa' (4:80), the Holy Qur'an has made it more clear in the following words:

And whoever obeys the Messenger, he surely obeys Allah. (4:80)

With this in view, the question is: Why have the two 'obediences' been stated separately? What purpose does it serve? Specially so, when this appears as a consistent feature in the Holy Qur'an where we see both 'obediences' being commanded side by side.

To unfold the secret, we can say that Allah Almighty sent a Book to guide man in this world, and a Messenger. The Messenger was charged with the following duties:

1. That he convey to people the verses of the Holy Qur'an precisely and exactly in the form they were spoken when revealed.

2. That he should cleanse people of outward and inward impurities.

3. That he should teach the community, not only the contents of the Book, but also its purpose.

4. That he should teach people wisdom along with the Book.

This subject appears at several places in the Holy Qur'an almost identically in the form of:

... who recites to them His verses and makes them pure and teaches them the Book and the wisdom ...

This tells us that the obligatory functions of the Messenger are not simply limited to conveying the Qur'an to the people. There is more to it in that the Messenger is also responsible for teaching the Book, and clarifying its message. Also obvious is the fact that the addressees of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him were the eloquent people of Arabia who had command over the finer points of the Arabic language. Teaching of the Holy Qur'an to them could never mean that they were to be taught the literal meaning of the Qur'anic words, for they themselves understood all that perfectly well. Instead, the purpose of this teaching and clarification was, and could be nothing else, that an injunction of the Qur'an stated briefly or in a summary form should be clarified and elaborated upon by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him and communicated to people with the help of a revelation which did not form a part of the Qur'an (wahy ghayr al-matluww': the unrecited revelation). On the other hand, this was inspired into his blessed heart. The verse of the Holy Qur'an (It is not but a revelation revealed) cited a little earlier, points in this direction.

Let us understand this through some instances. There are a good many occasions in the Holy Qur'an where the text does not go beyond saying: (Establish the salah and pay the zakah). Even if units of prayer come to be mentioned, such as qiyam, ruku)' and sajdah, they remain totally undefined. The modality, outward and inward, is just not there. It was angel Jibra'il (alayhis salaam) who came as commanded by Allah and taught all the details through demonstration before the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him. This was how the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him conveyed the word and the deed to the people of his Ummah.

There are details about the payment of zakah: What are thresholds? How much has to be paid on each threshold? What part of a person's possessions is zakatable? What part is non-zakatable? How much from threshold resources goes zakat-free?: All such details were given by the Messenger of Allah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him. He even had these committed to writing as executive orders and passed on to several Companions.

Take yet another example. They Holy Qur'an says: (And do not eat up each other's property by false means - 2:188).

Now there are deals and transactions of all sorts, such as buying and selling, rentals, tenancy, wages and many more. What forms are unjust, inequitable or harmful to public interest, and therefore, batil or false? All these details were given to the community by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him by the leave of Allah. Similarly, this is true about all legal rulings of Islamic Law.

Since all such details were conveyed to the community by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him in fulfillment of his prophetic mission and under the guidance of Divine revelation, and since these details do not appear in the Holy Qur'an, there was the likelihood that the uninitiated may be deceived into believing that these detailed rulings were not given by Allah Almighty and, therefore, they do not have to be carried out necessarily as part of one's obedience to Allah. It is for this reason that Allah Almighty has made the obedience of the messenger binding alongwith the obedience to Him, at various places in the Qur'an, repeatedly. As such, the obedience of the Messenger is really nothing but the obedience of Allah Almighty, but, given its external appearance and detailed description, it is somewhat different from that. In view of this, it has been emphasised time and again that orders given by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him should be obeyed as if they were the very orders of Allah the obedience of which was mandatory. These may be there in the Qur'an, open and clear, or may just not be there. They were still equally binding on the community.

This was a matter of crucial importance, not limited to someone falling in doubt. In fact, there were chances that the enemies of Islam would find an excuse to inject chaos in a basic Islamic principle, and thereby make an effort to lead Muslims away, from the right path. Therefore, the Holy Qur'an has dealt with this subject in a variety of ways, in addition to its literal stress on the obedience to the Messenger. It has informed the blessed community of Muhammad Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him that his duties include not only the teaching of the Book but also the added teaching of wisdom, pointing out to the fact that there are elements other than the words of the Book, which are also included in his teachings. That part too, identified as wisdom, has to be followed by Muslims as a matter of obligation.

As said earlier, the Holy Qur'an used a variety of ways to focus on the same subject. For instance, it was said: which means that the purpose behind sending the Messenger is that he should explain for people the meanings and objectives of the verses revealed to him. (16:44) Then, there is the oft-quoted verse:

Whatever the Messenger gives you, take it, and whatever he forbids you, refrain from it (59:7).

All these ramifications have been placed there lest there comes a person saying: 'We have been obligated to follow only that which appears in the Qur'an; what we do not find in the Qur'an, to that we are not obligated.' Perhaps, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him had foreseen the problems which were to arise later when some people, in order to get rid of the teachings and explanations of the Messenger of Allah, would say 'For us, the Book of Allah is sufficient.' The Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has described this possibility in a hadith, very clearly. The hadith has been reported by al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, al-Baihaqi and Imam Ahmad in the following words:

... Lest I find one of you, reclining on his coach making comments on an order from my orders in which I bid something or forbid something, saying, 'This we do not know. We only follow what we find in the Book of Allah'.

See also:

The Authority Of Sunnah by Mufti Taqi Usmani -

Obedience To Rasoolullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم), Following Him, And Following The Khulafaa' (رضي الله عنهم) -


In short, the repeated stress on the obedience of the Messenger alongwith the obedience of Allah Almighty, as well as, specific instructions to follow the dictates of the Messenger at various places are there to counter the dangerous ignorance of a person who may venture to separate the details of Qur'anic injunctions described by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him, and available in the treasure-house of his ahadith, making it look like something foreign to the obedience of Allah, and consequently may hasten to reject them. The reality is that they cannot be separated:

What he said was said by Allah
Voiced, though, it was by a slave of Allah

Race Towards Forgiveness, Towards Paradise

The first command was: 'Obey the Messenger'. (132) The second command is: 'Race one another towards Forgiveness from your Lord and towards Paradise.' (133) Here, Forgiveness stands for the means of obtaining forgiveness, that is, good deeds which bring forth forgiveness. There are several exegetic views reported from the blessed Companions and their immediate successors. Though expressed differently, they convey the same theme. Out of the noble Companions and their successors, may Allah be pleased with them all, Sayyidna 'Ali explained it as 'the fulfillment of obligations', Ibn 'Abbas as 'Islam', Abu al-'Aliyah as 'Hijrah', Anas ibn Malik as 'al-Takbir al-Uula (the first call of Allahu Akbar in salah)', Sa'id ibn Jubayr as 'perfection of obedience', Dahhak as 'Jihad' and 'Ikrimah as 'Taubah (repentance)'. The outcome of all these sayings is that Forgiveness covers all good deeds which become the means of obtaining Divine forgiveness.

At this point two things need our attention. First comes the resolution of an apparent contradiction which may be felt when one notices that the present verse carries a command to race one another towards Forgiveness and Paradise, while through another verse: (And do not covet something by which Allah has made some of you excel some others - 4:32), the very seeking of other merits and ranks has been prohibited.

The answer is that fada'il (merits, ranks, virtues) are of two kinds. The first kind relates to that which cannot be achieved by man, being beyond one's power and control. We can call these 'non-electable.' For example, colour or beauty or birth in a morally high family cannot be chosen and acquired. The other kind is something man can achieve by effort. These can be called voluntary or 'electable'. So, the reason why the effort to acquire non-electable merits, even its very desire, has been prohibited for the simple reason that they have been given to His created beings by Allah Almighty Himself in His infinite wisdom. It is something beyond human effort. Why run after them? All such efforts will lead to nothing but envy and malice. Let him who has been given a particular colour of his skin keep desiring to have some other colour. What is he going to get out of his desire? Nothing. However, there is a vast range of meritworthy deeds. One could, and would, make his mark there. That is why we have been asked to accelerate our efforts in that direction. This is not something restricted to one verse. The exhortation appears in several verses. Somewhere it is said: (Try to get ahead of one anther in good deeds - 2:148, 5:48). Elsewhere, it is said: (And in this, then, aspire the aspirers.) (83:26)

Let us consider the advice of the sage who said: 'If one has a natural or physical handicap which is beyond his power to correct, he should remain contended (with his handicap) and unaffected by the achievements of others. He should go on doing what he does. For, if he were to pine over his handicap and envy the achievements of others, he would be unable to perform to his capability, and ultimately, he would end up doing nothing or very little.'

The second point worth considering is that Allah Almighty has mentioned 'Forgiveness' first and the 'Paradise' after it. May be, this is to suggest that entry into Paradise is impossible without Divine Forgiveness. The reason is obvious. Man may spend a life-time doing good and abstaining from the evils. Still the aggregate of his good deeds cannot pay the price of Paradise. What will take him to Paradise is only Forgiveness of His Lord, and His grace. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam: Peace be upon him has said:

'Strive to be straight and true, take the middle course and seek glad tidings (of Allah's grace), for one's deeds shall not take anyone into the Paradise'. The People said: 'Not even yours, O Messenger of Allah?' He said: 'Not even mine, unless it is that Allah covers me up with His mercy.' al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib, with reference to al-Bukhari and Muslim).

In short, our deeds are not the price of Paradise. But, as is the customary practice of Allah, He does bestow His grace upon a servant who does what is good. In fact, one who is given the very ability to do good deeds is really given the signal that Allah is pleased with him. So, let none of us be tardy in the performance of what is good. Since Divine forgiveness is the primary factor in one's entry into the Paradise, the text takes this importance into consideration and does not present forgiveness in the absolute sense. It has, rather, elected to say: (Forgiveness from your Lord). By doing so, the text highlights Allah's attribute as the Lord, showing thereby His added grace and mercy for His servants.

The second object towards which man is being asked to hasten is Paradise. It has been said here that the Paradise is as wide as whole of the heavens and the earth. Since human mind cannot conceive any greater vastness than that of the heavens and the earth within the confines of his experience, the Paradise has been likened to them. This is a manner of saying that Paradise is very vast, so vast that it can accommodate the entire heavens and the earth in its vastness.
When the width of the Paradise is so great who can imagine its length which should be even greater?

All the above discussion is based on the assumption that the Arabic word (ard) means 'width'. However, there is another possible interpretation adopted by some commentators. According to them the word "ard" is also used in the meaning of 'price'. If the word is taken here in this sense, the verse would mean that Paradise is not an ordinary commodity; the entire heavens and the earth are its price.

With such an object of unimaginable worth and magnitude, what else should one do but hasten towards it.

Al-Razi in his 'al-Tafsir al-Kabir explains this point as follows:

Abu Muslim says that 'al-'ard' in this verse means that which is offered against the object of sale as its price. In other words, if a price were to be put on Paradise, the heavens and the earth together with whatever is in them will be its price. The purpose is to demonstrate the most exalted status of the Paradise which remains unmatched by anything in its greatness.

Another statement about the Paradise is given in the end by: (It has been prepared for the God-fearing.) This tells us that Paradise has already been created. Clear indicators in the Qur'an and Hadith seem to suggest the existence of Paradise on the seventh heaven which is its surface.

(Ma'ariful Qur'an)
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