Surat Al-Baqarah

What is the Qur'an About?

Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma`ani
by
Syed Iqbal Zaheer

تفسير إِشراقُ المَعَاني
سيد إقبال ظهير

PREPARATORY

What is the Qur'an About?
The Qur'an is the Word of Allah and a Book of Guidance. It can be asked, guidance to what? The answer is: “Guidance to Allah Most High, His Attributes, His Will, and the way in which one may conduct oneself to obtain that approval (rida) of Allah after which there is no anger." Imam Shafe`i perhaps had the first part of this statement in mind when he said:

"All that (the scholars of) the Ummah have to say is nothing but the exposition of the Sunnah. All that is in the Sunnah is the exposition of the Qur'an. And the whole of the Qur'an is nothing but the exposition of the Names and Attributes of Allah" (Zarkashi: Al‑Burhan Fi `Ulum al‑Qur'an).

This guidance to Allah, the knowledge of His Attributes and Will, and the guidance to right conduct cannot be obtained by any means other than the Qur'an and its complementary, the Sunnah, (the sayings and practices of Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him).
The Qur'an is also the only source of guidance. Someone who is unaware of its existence, but is a seeker of Truth, (on account of his innate faith in God and disillusionment with the world), will be led to this Book, one way or the other. The Qur'an says (29: 69): "Those who strive in Us, We shall surely guide them unto Our paths."

What is Guidance?
From another angle, it might be said that being on the guidance is to know, acknowledge, and, live by the Truth. In the context of this life, it is
a) the knowledge of what one is required to do, in the right measure, at any particular moment, and
b) the will to live by that knowledge.
In one sense, then, Guidance is knowledge, and in another, the will to act by it. The ‘will to act' is not the same as the ‘power to act.' That is because man has been granted will (or the freedom of choice) in a limited framework, while all power is Allah's. The power, or ability to act ‑ referred to as tawfiq in Islamic terminology ‑ is granted when willingness is demonstrated.
Further, since there is no such thing as half‑guidance, both are essential for salvation: knowledge without the will to act is only an evidence against one's self (hujjah), and deeds (however pretty their appearance), are grains thrown in the sand if they go without the acknowledgement of the Truth.
The Qur'an guides in both the senses. It bestows knowledge (or 'ilm wa 'irfan), giving the seeker the proper concept of the truth, as well as the will‑power and the moral courage to produce a living model of that concept in his own person, overcoming the obstacles he might encounter from within or without.
No other book, writing, philosophy, or person can achieve this. There should be no doubt about it; for any ambiguity in this regard can deprive one of the fruits of study and application.
The above definition illustrates and emphasizes the external, physical, and ephemeral aspect. Guidance has an esoteric, transcendent, and eternal meaning also, which is the fruit and essence of the external aspect. It is that state of mind and soul in which the other world becomes dearer than this one, in which, one eagerly awaits to be transported to the other world in order to heal that pain in the heart, and quench that thirst of the soul which only the company of those on High can heal and quench.
It is when one begins to ‘wait for the next salah after the last one,' when one ‘remembers Allah in his seclusion and the remembrance brings tears to his eyes,' when Allah becomes so dear that one begins to ‘love for Allah and hate for Allah,' and, when ‘the state of sabr and shukr become one and the same,' then it is that a person can said to be, in the words of the Qur'an, "on a guidance from his Lord."

The Path of Knowledge
A hadith of the Prophet (saws) says: "I am leaving behind me two things. So long as you hold fast unto them, you will not be misguided: they are Allah's Book and my practices." Nevertheless, this oft‑quoted hadith is rarely treated seriously. People apply themselves with great fervor to books, writings, speeches and ideologies presented by the scholars of Islam, but not as often do they leave them and their influences aside to turn directly to the Qur'an in complete seriousness. They do not seem to realize that they are not guided by those books and writings but to the extent that they themselves contain the Qur'an and the Sunnah in their pure form and unadulterated meaning.
Further, even when the Qur'an is studied, it is mostly done through the eyes, minds, and explanations of the scholars. The knowledge derived is, therefore, at best second‑hand, vicarious, and not wholly trustworthy. Again, a study of the Qur'an after a lot of other literature has been read has the disadvantage of the earlier readings embossing on the mind impressions that do not allow for the new ones to take place in their pristine form. The result is a jumble of concepts, true, half true, and false.
Alternatively, the Qur'an is read with pre‑conceived ideas. Human ideas are then taken for Divine ideas with citation of Qur’anic verses as evidences.
There are a few other characteristics that distinguish the Qur'an from all other kinds of writings. Firstly, the knowledge that the Qur'an imparts is the true and infallible knowledge. Secondly, the Qur'an succeeds in communicating the ideas it holds. That is, the reader cannot miss the meaning that it intends to communicate. Provided one is sincere, no one can miss its guidance, or, led to a meaning and understanding not intended. That happens with writings other than the Divine; humans say one thing, and the audience understand another thing. Moreover, through its intricate sequencing of the texts, the Qur’an answers to the doubts that arise, so to say, on the spot, and registers its meaning and message without adulteration of doubts menacing the mind, or skeptical notes lying beneath like snakes in the grass.
Therefore, to obtain true knowledge and right guidance from the Qur'an the requirement is to do away with preconceived ideas and study it with the firm intention to live by the meaning as it unfolds itself. With that kind of intention, the student is qualified to receive the true meaning. The meaning obtained is also accompanied by an urge to live by it, which then is the next requirement. That accomplished, that is, the meaning translated into action, the reader demonstrates purity of intention. In consequence, he qualifies to receive a fresh set of true meaning which unfolds themselves with further reading. This goes on until the student reaches that state which has been described in a hadith by Allah (swt) Himself in words, “I become the hands of the slave with which he grips, the feet of the slave with which he walks ... (to the end of the hadith).” But if he fails, that is, he is not true to himself at any given phase, or discontinues the process, then the tawfiq is held back until he amends his ways. The Qur’an has said (7: 146):

{سَأَصْرِفُ عَنْ آيَاتِيَ الَّذِينَ يَتَكَبَّرُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَإِنْ يَرَوْا كُلَّ آيَةٍ لَا يُؤْمِنُوا بِهَا وَإِنْ يَرَوْا سَبِيلَ الرُّشْدِ لَا يَتَّخِذُوهُ سَبِيلًا وَإِنْ يَرَوْا سَبِيلَ الْغَيِّ يَتَّخِذُوهُ سَبِيلًا ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَكَانُوا عَنْهَا غَافِلِينَ} [الأعراف: 146]

“I shall turn away from My signs those who wax proud in the land without cause. If they witnessed all the signs, they will not believe in them, and, if they see the path of righteousness, they will not accept it as a path. But if they see the deviated path, they will accept it as a path. That, because they gave a lie to Our signs and were heedless of them.”

How to Obtain the Right Verbal Meaning?
Intention
It is to seek guidance, in the sense delineated above, that one should read the Qur'an. That should be the intention in every session with it.
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal's father well illustrated this point when he asked his son, who was reciting the Qur'an, as to what he was reading. The young son, knowing that the father was aware what he was reading, responded with an indifferent answer. “Who was it revealed to?” was the next question. The embarrassed son replied that it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace). “This way, my son,” said the father, “you will never profit from the Qur'an. You will only if you read with the belief that the Revelation has just come down, that it has been sent down specifically for you, and that it is you who has been addressed. It is only then that this Book will open itself to you.”
In other words, one should take it as a message unto himself, and allow each verse of the Qur'an free and unhindered access to the mind and heart with the will to be led where it will lead.

Language
In contrast to other revealed Books and religious literatures, in whatever form and language they may exist, the Qur'an should not only be read by oneself, directly, but also in its own language ‑ Arabic. No commentary, however comprehensive, and no exegete, however erudite, can impart what the Qur'an itself can. The following reasons will illustrate the point.

The Miraculous nature of the Qur'an
It is well known that the Qur'an is a miracle. In fact, it is a living miracle; although the true nature of the miracle is not always understood. We cannot elaborate on this point extensively at this juncture. But it might be pointed out that the miracle expresses itself both in its form as well in its content. Both are powerful, unique to the Qur'an, which defy translation. The Prophet said: "Every prophet before me was given a miracle. I have been given the Qur'an. And I hope to have a greater following by its virtue than any prophet of the past."
Consequently, thousands of people from all over the globe are led to Islam every year through their study of the Qur'an. When a non‑Muslim asks a Muslim about Islam, all that he does in most cases is to hand him over a copy of the Qur'an. Invariably, even that mangled thing called ‘the translation of the Qur'an' leads the person to Islam. That is the miracle of the Qur'an. And of course, miracles cannot be translated.
Let us look into a few reasons that make impossible to communicate what the Qur'an itself communicates.

Translations
The Qur'an is in Arabic. It is neither in prose nor in verse but a unique combination of both, unsurpassed in its effect on the mind and soul by any other writing. In the words of John Alden Williams:

"...the Arabic of the Qur'an is by turns striking, soaring, vivid, terrible, tender, and breathtaking ... It is meaningless to apply adjectives such as ‘beautiful' or ‘persuasive' to the Qur'an; its flashing images and inexorable measures go directly to the brain and intoxicate it.
It is not surprising, then, that a skilled reciter of the Qur'an can reduce an Arabic‑speaking audience to helpless tears" (Islam: p.2, Washington Square Press '69).

In the words of Arberry:

"... to produce something which might be accepted as echoing however faintly the sublime rhetoric of the Arabic Koran, I have been at pains to study the intricate and richly varied rhythms which ‑ apart from the message itself ‑ constitute the Koran's undeniable claim to rank amongst the greatest literary masterpieces of mankind" (The Koran Interpreted, Intr. p. x, Oxford Univ. Press '64).

It is this inimitable beauty that challenges mankind to produce its equivalent: in sublimity of language, its instructions, and its sublime effect on the mind and soul. The Qur'anic challenge has remained unanswered by the humans (2: 23, 24):

"O People! If you are in any doubt concerning what We have sent down on Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a piece similar to it (in all its merits). And call (to your aid) your witnesses apart from Allah, if you are true (in your allegation that it is the work of Muhammad). But if you cannot do it ‑ and you can never do it ‑ then beware of the Fire whose fuel is human beings and rocks: prepared for the unbelievers."

The Qur'an then is inimitable and, therefore, untranslatable. Any translation, however accurately done, and however close to the original, cannot reproduce the sense and beauty of the original. Therefore, when one is reading a translation, he is not reading the Qur'an per se. No surprise then that the best effects are lost. No wonder also that the scholars of old would not allow translation of the Qur'an. This is also Ibn Taymiyyah's opinion. In fact there is a consensus of opinion among the scholars that the Qur'an should not be quoted in ‘sense' or ‘meaning' but always in its original textual words. How can then one be allowed to translate the Qur'an and call it the Qur'an?
Accordingly, if permission to translate the Qur'an has been granted due to modern exigencies, it is on condition that sufficient notes are supplied to overcome the deficiencies arising out of the translation. Further, it is required that the new work be called "interpretative translation of the Qur'an" (tarjumah tafsiriyyah), or, "the translation of the meaning of the Qur'an," rather than "the translation of the Qur'an" or, what would be more audacious, "the meaning of the Qur'an," since none of these are within human power (Manahil al `Irfan, Zarqani).

Linguistic Difficulties
There are many linguistic difficulties that make the Qur'an untranslatable. In Arabic one expresses sense rather than meaning. A beautiful Arabic sentence that can enrapture the mind and touch the soul becomes insipid in another language. Not only sentences or words, even single consonant letters are hard to translate. For example, the "fi" of Arabic has a depth that is lacking in the "in" of English. One needs a whole ugly, terse, and unmusical word in English to translate mere letters such as:

و ف إنَّ

Obviously, the complications with the words are far greater than those with the letters. Arabic is a language in which words are based on consonantal roots, from which are derived scores of words in various forms giving out various meanings but remaining, even if loosely and distantly, connected in sense and letter‑content to the root. `Ayn for instance can mean: an eye, a spring, a spy, a group of people, evil‑eye, honor, a flag, a girl, etc. `Afw stands for effacement, obliteration, elimination, forgiveness, amnesty, boon, kindness, favor, surplus, and others. The translated word must on the one hand give out the basic meaning and, on the other, convey several nuances the original carries. Obviously, to achieve that is well‑nigh impossible.
Let us take an example (4: 4):

وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً [النساء : 4]

"Give the women their dowries (as a gift) spontaneous,"
In this example, the word saduqat is derived from the root sadaqa ( صَدَقَ ) which means, with the addition of various suffixes or prefixes: ‘to speak the truth, to be sincere, to prove to be true, to come true, to fulfill one's promise,' and so on. Now, a true translation of the derived term saduqa, (plural: saduqat صَدُقات ), should carry in its overtones the sense of truth and sincerity. That is, ‘a gift that is offered (by the groom to the bride), as an expression of his sincerity toward her and the relationship he is proposing.' To render it as dowry, with the connotation that the language and culture of the readers carry, is to mutilate it.
In addition to the problem of words that yield several meanings, the complex structure of the Qur'anic verses admit of many interpretations (well described by Muhammad Asad as unfolding of "layer upon layer of meaning") from which the translator can choose but one, without necessarily being right in his choice. This means that, granted the translator did not err, the translation conveyed only one meaning out of the several contained in the Qur'an.
As another example, the following is speaking of the unbelievers (11: 20):

يُضَاعَفُ لَهُمُ الْعَذَابُ مَا كَانُوا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ السَّمْعَ وَمَا كَانُوا يُبْصِرُونَ [هود : 20]

"For them the chastisement shall be doubled; (for) they could not hear, neither did they see."
It can be translated in at least six different ways, three of them depending on how the letter "maa" is treated: whether of the same meaning as "lamu kayy," ( لامُ كَي ); as a synonym of "ila," ( إلى ); or as a negative "maa". Obviously such possibilities, which occur quite often, can leave the translator baffled as to his own choice during translation.
Another linguistic difficulty is that many Arabic and Qur'anic terms do not have proper equivalents in other languages, especially the languages of the occident. Allah, al‑Rahman, al‑Rahim, jihad, salah, zakah, sadaqah, `ibadah, al‑ghayb, kufr, nur, fisq, taghut, nabiyy, rasul, ghaniyy, are a few examples from a long list.
If, to the above are added the difficulties of `ijaz (ellipticism), rhetoric, alliteration, resonance and rhythm (all of them present in the Qur'an in their most excellent forms and in the highest degree of expression), then the job of translation becomes a hopeless task.
But the impaired meaning is not the only casualty. The loss in terms of beauty, charm, appeal, elation and the ecstasy that a reader feels on reading the Qur'an in its original is immeasurable.
Therefore, it can be safely said of a person who has always read the Qur'an through translations alone, that he did not read the Qur'an once.

Commentaries
Trying to understand the Qur'an with the help of commentaries is no less hazardous. Some reasons are as follows.
Essentially, commentaries are of two kinds. Those that are based on the Qur'an itself, supported by the hadith and opinions of the Companions, or their next‑generation Followers (tabe`iyyun). These are known as al‑tafsir bi 'l ma'thur ( التفسير بالمأثور ) i.e., interpretation based on report or tradition.
The other category is the one in which the commentator offers an interpretation, based not on a specific accepted source ‑ a Qur'anic verse, a hadith, or a remark of a Companion or one of their Followers ‑ but his personal opinion based on his intellect, knowledge or intuition. This kind of commentary is known as al‑tafsir bi 'l ra'yi ( التفسير بالرأي ). al‑tafsir 'l‑ishari [ التفسير الإشاري ] falls under the same category).
As for the first kind of tafsir, i.e., al‑tafsir bi 'l ma'thur, it can be fully appreciated only when read in Arabic. Many concepts and ideas of the Qur'an are closely tied up with the Arabic language. Further, those concepts and ideas are so subtle that their explanations fall flat and lose their import in another language. The commentaries of Ibn Jarir or Ibn Kathir, for example (which are good examples of the al‑tafsir bi 'l ma'thur) fail to have their impact on the reader in their translated version. Besides, some basic knowledge of hadith classification, fiqh and other disciplines, which in turn require knowledge of Arabic, is necessary to appreciate this kind of commentary.
In short al-tafsir bi ‘l ma’thur does not help much in understanding the core meanings of the Qur’anic texts. The profound part is often missed.
On the other hand, if one tries to understand the Qur'an with the help of the other kind of tafsir, viz. al‑tafsir bi 'l ra'yi, he faces the following hazards.
Firstly, to be able to correctly comment on the Qur'an, one has to have, in addition to the Revealed texts, a thorough knowledge of all the physical and metaphysical sciences and disciplines that have been developed by the humans. The Qur'an deals with history, law, social affairs, morality, worship, economy, psychology, state affairs, spiritual development, eschatology, divinity, and many other disciplines ‑ all in one go. Obviously, since it is beyond one man's capacity to master so many disciplines in a life‑time, it is beyond him also to write a commentary of the Qur'an that conveys the true intent of the Qur’an.
Further, every commentator is a product of his own age, genre, intellectual atmosphere, and cultural background. His problems are the problems of his time ‑ not necessarily of all times. His view of life is from a certain angle ‑ not necessarily the ecumenical and transcendental view of the Qur'an. (So, we often hear from such commentators that “the Qur’an lays down the way of life”: which immediately reduces its message to mundane level. Had they said it lays down the ways to moral and spiritual life, they would have been closer to truth). Such commentators are led, and cannot help but be led, by their personal predispositions and bent of mind, appealing to those of similar dispositions, and not necessarily reaching out to all the inquisitive minds and thirsty souls. Finally, whatever a commentator’s caliber, he remains subjective. True objectivity is not the share of man.
For example, if he is of a sufi bent of mind he detects suggestions that may or may not exist. If he subscribes to a certain philosophy, he may emphasize a certain point, which might be there in the text, but might not be it focal point. Thereby he distorts the overall view. Or, if his interpretation of life is materialistic and earthly, he is quite likely to rush through verses that are, so to say, mawarid al zam'an (watering places for the thirsty), and the hovering grounds of the restless soul, concentrating instead on the wonderful capabilities of Islam to promote material growth and development on earth and bring back to the Muslim Ummah its lost glory!
In short, he is a human dealing with the Word of Allah. To do justice to it is not in his power.
Finally, it is agreed by the scholars of Islam that there are two aspects to the meaning of the Qur'an: the external and the internal. The external or the obvious meaning is that which has come down from the authorities: the hadith, the opinions of the Companions, their next‑generation Followers and the meaning unanimously accepted by the scholars of Islam through and through the ages. The internal, hidden or the secret meaning of the Qur'an comes from deep reflection and a sustained exercise of the mind and soul coupled with righteous living. To take an example, it is reported that the verse (5: 3): "This day I have perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion al‑Islam," brought tears into the eyes of `Umar ibn al-Khattab The Prophet asked him the reason. He replied: "So far we were witnessing a continuous rise of Islam. Now that it has been completed (i.e. it has reached its zenith), it can only follow a downward direction, as it happens with anything that has achieved its zenith." The Prophet (saws) agreed with him.
Imam Ghazali writes in his eighth book of Ihya' `Ulum 'l‑Din:

"The truth is that to everything pertaining to reflective and intellectual matters, which have become ambiguous to men of reflection, and in which people have differed, there are indications and implications in the Qur'an which can be observed by men of understanding. How can these indications and implications be completely conveyed by translations of its outward meanings and its (outward) exegesis?"

Further down he writes:

"The man who imagines that the Qur'an has no meaning except that which the outward exegesis has translated (and described), is acknowledging his own limitations; he is right in his acknowledgement (because he knows only this measure and is not aware of that which lies beyond this), but is wrong in his judgment which places all other people on the same footing as himself." (The Recitation and Interpretation of the Qur'an: Al-Ghazali's Theory by Muhammad Abdul Quasem, p. 87, 88).

Nevertheless, the scholars are also in agreement that the internal meaning can be attained only after a complete mastery of the external has been achieved. Zarkashi writes:

"The Book of Allah: it is the bottomless sea, whose meaning cannot be unfathomed but by the well-versed in (religious) knowledge; he who fears Allah in open and secret, and gives due esteem to Him in places where he comes across the ambiguous. Its subtleties and truths cannot be grasped but by one who (as the Qur’an said) ‘lends his ear and is attentive...'"

He adds a little further,

"All knowledge can be summed up as that of the ‘Acts' and ‘Attributes' of Allah. The Qur'an contains the knowledge of the Acts, Attributes, and the Essence of the Supreme Being. This fact leads us to another, viz., the field of knowledge is immensely vast. There is room for much more than what is obvious to the mind. The exegesis therefore, that has been passed on to us (by the authorities) do not lay down limits for the attainment of knowledge. Yet, it is not possible to jump over to the hidden without mastery of the obvious. Indeed, the knowledge of the external is absolutely essential to step into the internal and the hidden. Whoever claims to have knowledge of the secret part of the Qur'an while lacking a proper understanding of the external and the obvious, is like he who claims manhood at the threshold of his house (to which he has just crawled) although he has not yet stepped out of the door."

In brief, the Qur'an has two levels of meaning: the external and the internal. It should be obvious, therefore, how difficult it can be for a person to get to the second level, while his first level of understanding is suspect due to his ignorance of the language which leads him to take the words of men for the words of God.
These are some of the reasons why neither a translation nor a commentary can be substituted for the original.
It should not be surprising therefore to note that according to Imam Shafe`i, learning of the Arabic language is obligatory on every Muslim. Imam Abu Yousuf and Zufar, both students of Imam Abu Hanifah, went a step further. They stated that it is makruh (undesirable) for two Muslims who can manage some Arabic, to speak with each other in another language. Ibn Taymiyyah is also of the opinion that learning Arabic is a religious requirement since what is necessary to realize an obligation (wajib) is itself obligatory (wajib).

Pre‑conceived Ideas
In contrast, neglect of the language and study and reliance upon a single commentary of the al-tafsir bi 'l‑ra'yi type, can lead a student of the Qur'an to hold questionable opinions despite long study and painful application. Many of those who could become connoisseurs ended up dilettantes. Imam Ghazali writes about this class of people:

"The sufis have said that knowledge (`ilm) is a veil (between man and God), and by this knowledge they have meant those beliefs (`aqa'id) which most people have been firmly holding either by dogmatically following an authority or by mere reliance on casuistic sentences written by zealots of schools of thought and delivered to them. As for the real knowledge which is the uncovering of the actual condition of the thing known and which is a vision by the light of spiritual insight, how can it be a veil, seeing that it is the ultimate object of desire?
Pure dogmatic following of an authority is sometimes false (in itself) and is, therefore, an obstacle to the understanding of the meaning (of the Qur'an). An example of this is a man who has a (purely dogmatic) belief in Allah's istawa' on the Throne as His being settled on it physically. Then in the case of (the divine name) ‘the Holy One' (al-Quddus), for example, there comes to his mind the meaning that He is pure from all that is ascribable to His creation: but that purely dogmatic belief of his does not make it possible for this meaning to be firmly implanted in his mind. Had it become strengthened in his mind it would have led to a second meaning and a third, which could be inter-connected. But he hastens to drive this meaning away from his mind, because it contradicts his false belief which is held purely dogmatically.
Sometimes purely dogmatic following of an authority is true (in itself), but it too becomes an obstacle to understanding (the meaning of the Qur'an) and to unveiling of them. The truth in which man is obliged to believe has stages and grades, and it has an external beginning and an internal end. Concentration of man's nature on the external aspect prevents him from reading the internal end" (source cited above, p.70, 71).

Finally, every commentator is influenced by the ideas of his time that seem to be so powerful, and therefore of great consequence, which could be so during a particular epoch, but prove not to be so with the passage of time. Moved by those ideas or forces, a commentator might try to give the verses of the Qur'an a new meaning, sometimes at the expense of certain basic and universal truths. This can seriously affect the way in which his readers understand the Qur'an.
The conclusion therefore is that anyone who has not done a course of study in the tafsir of the approved type, but, instead, applies himself to the other type ‑ the tafsir bi 'l‑ra'yi ‑ runs the great risk of ending up with ideas that might not be true, half true or altogether wrong.
Therefore, every serious student of the Qur'an must learn enough Arabic to be able to read the Qur'an himself, directly, and without dependence on a translation to an extraordinary degree. It is only after he has spent sufficient time with the Qur'an (and, in addition, the Sunnah), that he can turn his attention to the translations and commentaries as further aids. It is only those for whom it is beyond their capacity to learn the language that might resort to dependence on translations and commentaries alone, although, to remain in consultation with the scholars is a necessary requirement for not getting misled on concepts.

Interpretations
Al-Tafsir bi 'l Ma'thur
The safest way to derive the right meaning of any part of the Qur'an is to seek its explanation within the Qur'an itself. What is stated in brief at one place is detailed at another, and what is ambiguous at one point is supplemented with elaborations elsewhere. Also, the Qur'an deals with a subject in a variety of ways, at different points, and with emphasis on different aspects in different contexts. The complete meaning can only be obtained by collecting together, either on paper or in the mind, all relevant verses, seeking connections that become apparent with contemplation. The Qur'an then should be understood in the first instance with the Qur'an itself.

The Hadith
Next, one should turn to the hadith. The ahadith are in reality a commentary on the Qur'an. Allah (swt) not only revealed the Word to the Prophet but also its meaning. A verse (4:105) says, "Surely We have sent down a Book to you (O Muhammad) with Truth so that you may judge between the people by what Allah shows you (as its true meaning)."
But it is not only the meaning as expressed in the words of the Prophet (saws) that has to be learnt. It is also the meaning as expressed in his actions that should be applied to one’s own life, to gain an understanding of the Qur'an. The Prophet lived according to the Message he received, not deviating from it in the least. In other words his life was the Qur'an interpreted: "Have you not read the Qur'an?!" was the answer given by `A'isha (ra) when asked about the Prophet's conduct in everyday life.
An example will illustrate how well the Prophet understood and lived by the Qur'an.
The Qur'an uses the term rih (in the sense of ‘winds') in two ways. In some places in the singular form as rih, and in others in the plural form as riyah. In all, it has used these terms on 29 occasions. Now a careful study reveals that when the occasion is the announcement of a punishment or chastisement from Allah, the word is used in its singular form (rih). In contrast, when the context is announcement of a glad tiding, it is the plural form that is chosen (riyah). [The odd deviation from the rule can be explained].
Now, keep the Qur'anic rule in mind and consider the prayer‑words of the Prophet, who, with every stormy weather supplicated in the words:

اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْهَا رِيَاحًا وَلا تَجْعَلْهَا رِيحًا

"O Lord! Make it winds (riyah) for us and not wind (rih)."
Another example can be cited. The Qur'an said (9: 103): "Accept (O Muhammad) of their wealth a free-will offering, to purify them and to cleanse them." This injunction came after the declaration that the free-will offering of the hypocrites was not acceptable; and the reference is to the zakah on wealth. The free-will offering, of course, is collected by the State and is distributed following another injunction (9: 60) that cites eight categories of people as the deserving recipients.
However, following the clue that zakah (and sadaqat by implication) purify and cleanse the people ("to purify them and cleanse them"), and, reasoning that the purifying agent cannot itself be clean after its purifying operation (another example is ablution water dropping down a man), the Prophet declared his kinsfolk as undeserving of a share in the zakah (and sadaqat) funds. He told them that the zakah funds were a dirt of the hand and hence unsuitable for them.
The above stray examples demonstrate not only how well the Prophet understood the Qur'an and the extent to which he applied it to himself, but also, how important it is for a reader to gain mastery over the two: the Qur'an and the Sunnah texts, to understand either.

The Companions and their Followers
Any clarification required after the first two sources have been exhausted, should be sought in the opinions of the Prophet's Companions; especially those who were close to him, received his special attention, and specialized in the Qur'an during his life‑time: such as the four khulafa', Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, `Abdullah ibn `Umar, Ubayy b. Ka`ab and others, or those of the Followers who became the pupils of these Companions, such as: Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id ibn Jubayr, Masruq, `Ata' ibn Rabah, Hassan al Busri, Sa`id ibn al Musayyib, Qatadah, Dahhak, Abu al `Aliyyah and others.
The differences in their opinions, however, should not disturb a student. For, as Ibn Taymiyyah has pointed out in his Muqaddimah fi Usul al Tafsir, in most cases they express the same meaning in different words. The word "hafadah" for instance, has been explained as "daughters" by Ibn Mas`ud and Sa`id b. Jubayr; as "grandsons" by Ibn `Abbas; as "in‑laws" by Ibn Mas`ud; while `Ikrimah, Mujahid, and Hasan al‑Basri say it stands for "servants." They are all of course expressing one or the other aspect of the meaning of the word. For "hafadah" is plural of "hafid" and in its singular form it means "he who is made to serve." At the time the verse was revealed, the word was used in all those senses in which it was adopted by different authorities.
Tafsir bi 'l ma'thur derives its basis from ‑ apart from others ‑ a hadith which says that when the Prophet was deputing Mu`adh ibn Jabal to Yemen he asked him how he was going to judge between the people. "With the Book of Allah," replied Mu`adh. "But what if you do not find (a lead) therein?" the Prophet asked. "With the Sunnah of Allah's Messenger," he replied. "But if you do not find (a lead) therein also?" he asked him. "Then," Mu`adh replied, "I will work out my own opinion." The Prophet expressed his approval (Muqaddimah, Ibn Taymiyyah).
A word of caution however, about this kind of tafsir should be in place. What is recommended is the methodology as enumerated above, and not the entire content of the books of tafasir that have followed this methodology. In some of these works massive amount of Jewish material and comments of the early exegetes have been included without verifications of their authenticity. If not read critically, these can have their own pitfalls. Naivety, for instance, can be perceived in those who rely on these alone and have failed to step into the modern age in intellectual terms.

Al-Tafsir bi al Ra'yi (Personal Opinions)
As stated above, sometimes a commentator uses his intelligence, knowledge, intuition or inspiration to bring out a point in language, history, law, etc. Some of such comments are acceptable, while others are not. Take for example verse (2: 102): "Sulayman blasphemed not, but the Satans blasphemed." A question arises. We know that a prophet does not blaspheme. Why then did the Qur'an have to say that Sulayman (asws) did not blaspheme? For an explanation we have to look into the Bible which alleges that Solomon became an idolater during the last days of his life (Majid). Though not based on an athar, it is a valid explanation and also corroborates with what details classical commentators (such as Ibn Kathir) have recorded as coming from Suddi and Sa`id b. Jubayr.
To take another example, the Qur'an says (2: 273): "(Alms are) for the poor who are restrained in the way of Allah, who can not journey in the land (for trade). The ignorant supposes them rich because of their restraint. You will know them by their mark. They do not beg of people with importunity. And whatsoever of good things that you spend, surely, Allah will know it."
Commenting on the verse, Thanwi says that the words, ‘(Alms are) for the poor who are restrained in the way of Allah,' are telling us that those who are working in the way of Allah deserve to receive first priority in aid. Further, the clause ‘who cannot journey in the land' signifies that it is desirable for those engaged in the path of Allah that they may suspend their efforts at livelihood, if need be, although there is no contradiction between the two (i.e. engagement in the path of Allah, and search for livelihood). Finally, the words ‘the ignorant supposes them rich,' implies that it is undesirable to put on appearances that will distinguish a man from the common people.
This is the kind of Tafsir bi 'l ra'yi that is acceptable since such statements can be corroborated in other ways also. What can be proved as valid either directly through deductions from the Qur'an, Sunnah, opinions of the Companions, their immediate Followers, or that which, in the least, does not contradict any of the above, in word or spirit, is valid and acceptable.
The permission for this kind of interpretation is based on the supplication (du`a) which the Prophet made for Ibn `Abbas. He said:

اللَّهُمَّ فَقِّهْهُ فِي الدِّينِ وَعَلِّمْهُ التَّأْوِيلَ

"O Allah, grant him knowledge of the Qur'an and teach him the interpretation."
Contrary to this is the unprincipled interpretation that has its basis neither in the sources cited above, nor does it agree with the spirit of Islam as understood by the scholars at large.
To explain, any opinion with reference to a Qur’anic text that contradicts with that of the Salaf, in matters involving the Shari`ah, values, morals or spiritual affairs, is Tafsir bi al-Ra’yi, and stands rejected outright. It is about such an interpretation that the Prophet remarked: "Whoever speaks about the Qur'an without knowledge, may seek his abode in the Fire."
The Companions and their Followers were quite careful about offering an interpretation that did not have a Qur'anic verse or hadith in its support. Abu Bakr (ra) used to say: "Which heaven will shelter me, and which earth will support me if I said about Allah's Book, that which I have no knowledge of." Abu Yezid said: "We used to ask Sa`id ibn al‑Musayyib about the ‘lawful' and the ‘unlawful' and would find him the most knowledgeable of men. But when we asked him about a verse of the Qur'an as to how it was to be understood, he would be quiet, turning a deaf ear to us."

Al-Tafsir 'l‑Ishari (Allegorical Interpretation)
By nature, man is awed by the mysterious. It is the inexplicable, the symbolical, and the mysterious that engage his attention. The obvious and the clear‑cut escape him. To seek a solution to a riddle or the meaning of an allegory is a task he undertakes with enthusiasm. The allegorical verses of the Qur'an have provided grist to the minds of its scholars and there have been several interpretations proffered to explain them. Some of these are not readily acceptable and raise controversies. The best course of action about them when they are authentically quoted, by authoritative people, but which seemingly contradicts ideas of the Salaf, is to make no judgment about their acceptance or rejection.
In this work the use of Tafsir 'l Ishari has been restricted. It is inadvisable to read them without the guidance of a specialist. Thanwi’s Masa'il al‑Suluk as footnotes to his Urdu Bayan al‑Qur'an, is of this class. So are Alusi’s notes under this heading.
Nevertheless, it should also be borne in mind that every passage whose meaning is not obvious is not necessarily of the allegorical type, nor is the Qur'an entirely without them. There are some portions of the Qur'an whose true meaning the human mind might never be able to unravel. Ibn `Abbas has said: "There are four kinds of meanings: a) that which is apparent to the Arabs because it is in their language, b) that whose meaning no one can deny on the pretext of ignorance, c) the meaning that is the share of the scholars alone, and, d) the meaning that no one knows save Allah and His Messenger."
Further, one may note that there are Qur’anic texts whose meanings would be understood at the time of death, or subsequent to it.

Application
Following the Qur'anic method, we might end with what we started with. Application is part of the study. One will not travel much on the road if he failed to live by the instructions and inspirations that he received with the study. The Qur'an is the Word of Allah. It has been sent to guide the people. But it guides only those who are willing to be guided. As Rumi has said, the Qur’an is a closed book except for the true ardent seeker; to which we might add, ‘those who would care to apply.’
A further condition is to avoid sins of all kinds. The following is reported to have been said by Imam Shafe`i:

شكوت إلى وكيع سوء حفظى * فأرشدنى إلى ترك المعاصى
وأخـبرنى بـأن العـلم نور * ونور الله لايهدى لعاصى

I complained to Waki` of my forgetfulness
He guided me to give up sins
And taught me that knowledge is Light
And Allah’s Light is not shown to the sinner

The student of the Qur'an will have to develop his mind in such a way as to be skeptical of everything that the senses report, doubt every opinion that is formed by the intellect, and question every information that comes from non‑revealed sources. In the next step, he will have to test all of them against the Qur'an and reject any that contradicts it in word or spirit. Ibn Mas`ud (ra) said: "During the life-time of the Prophet, we used to take ten verses of the Qur'an for study and would not move on to the next ten until we had lived by those ten." It is reported of `Umar ibn al‑Khattab (ra) that he finished surah al‑Baqarah in seven years. According to a report he was so happy at its completion that he slaughtered a camel and invited his friends to a feast.
We can conclude with Zarkashi's remarks. He writes in Al‑Burhan fi `Ulum al‑Qur'an:

"In the final analysis, the derivation of the meaning of the Qur'an is largely dependent on a man's own thoughts and reflections. Let it be known, therefore, that the true meaning of the revelation and the secrets of the veiled knowledge will never be the share of a man whose heart is filled with innovations, or who insists on a sin, or in whose heart resides pride or base desires or love of the world, or that he be of an uncertain faith, or poor of discernment, or dependent on the opinions of a mufassir who has knowledge only of the externals (`ilm al-zahir), or gives precedence to his own thoughts and ideas (during the process of thinking). All these are veils and obstacles, some of which are of greater impedance than others.
"(In contrast), if the man pays full attention to the words of His Lord, is receptive to the meaning that the Attributes of the One addressing him unfold themselves, is always aware of His powers, abandons his own self-established conclusions based on reason and intellect, renounces his own powers and abilities, is ever mindful of the greatness of the Speaker, beseeching Him the grant of the meaning: and all this from a personal state of integrity, a good-natured heart, with the power of knowledge, of a calm disposition to gather the meaning, and to wait for the missed meaning seeking (Divine) help through Prayers and Supplications, (the supplications themselves) presented with the weakness (of the human against Powers of the Divine), and observing patience while waiting for the mind to be opened by Him who is the Opener, the Knowing; and he who strengthens these qualities with a recitation during which his mind is fully attentive to the verbal meaning and bears witness to the Attributes of the One addressing him by anxiously waiting for the promises (of the opening of the heart coming true), and fearing the calamities (that may befall him for his failings), and who warns forcefully .. such is the one who has a good voice for the Qur'an and it is about him that Allah Most High has said (2:121): ‘Those to whom we have given the Book, read it in the manner it should be read. It is these who believe in it'" (p. 180-81, vol.2).

The Methodology in this Work
It has been this writer's endeavor to present in this work, principally, the meaning of the Qur'an as understood by the classical scholars. That is, in the light of the Qur'an itself, traditions of the Prophet and statements of the Companions and their followers. To achieve this, the author first consulted Ibn Jarir Tabari. Since Ibn Jarir was a Muhaddith himself, he did not cite sources to the hadith, or to statements of the Companions that he quoted. Citing the sources was done by Ibn Kathir. Therefore, Ibn Kathir was next consulted. However, Ibn Kathir did not cite sources to the statements of the Salaf. This was done, to some degree, by Shawkani. So, he was consulted next. Although Ibn Kathir cited hadith sources, he did not state the authenticity-status of ahadith. In such cases, this author tried to search the opinion of Hadith Doctors, to add a note about their reliability. Further, if there were differences in opinions over the meaning of a certain verse, Ibn Kathir preferred to adopt the opinion of Ibn Jarir, which, this author indicated. Thus, a meaning emerged as of the Salaf. The translation of the verses reflects this meaning. The author suppressed his own opinion, for whose credibility he lacks the qualification, unless it was a scientific issue, historical, geographical or the like.
Thereunto, the author added the opinions of various other commentators, taking care of course, that such opinions did not clash with the opinions of the Salaf, for in matters of Law, morals (Akhlaq), and spiritual matters, the Salaf were the true authority. The way the first three generations understood the Qur’an, was never understood by any after them. It is they who changed the world, the way no generation could. If a headstrong person thinks that someone’s understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah, was, or is, as good as that of the Salaf, and as accurate, he might need a course on how `ilm is defined in Islam. Ibn Sirin, a prominent Tabe`i said, “Knowledge is gone. What’s left of it is bits and pieces, scattered among the scholars.” Hasan al-Basri, his contemporary, was told by someone that the “Fuqaha’ say so and so.” He corrected him, “Have you ever seen a Faqih?”

An additional note about the commentaries made by the Companions and their followers might be in order. The Prophet has said: "The best of epochs is my epoch, then that of the Followers, and then that of the Followers." He was referring to the epoch followed by his own, and that of the Companions and the Tabe`iyyun. There were many Companions of the Prophet who received his special attention and specialized in the Qur'an during his life‑time itself. In turn they tutored many among the Tabe`iyyun. The term Salaf applies mainly to these: i.e., the Companions and the two succeeding generations, plus the third (because of some reports). Their opinion is the approved opinion. If they agree over the meaning of a particular word, or a verse, and the issue is purely of a religious nature as indicated above, then any other opinion that contradicts it and cannot be reconciled with it, stands rejected. Of course, there is no such restriction when the subject concerned is of historical, geographical or scientific nature, for, these disciplines were developed after them. Some contemporary commentaries tend to give new meanings to some Qur’anic terms. If they clash with those of the Salaf, they must be ignored; for, the Salaf knew the ‘Arabic of the Qur’an,’ and not the Arabic of those who refer to dictionaries and literary works developed after them to argue their case. `Umar used to say, “If you are in doubt, refer to the Jahiliyy poetry. The Qur’an was revealed in that language.”

The opinions of the Salaf might sometimes surprise the reader. He might consider them as entirely out of context. But, it is the failure to understand the context that creates the confusion. "Jump the line" is a sentence in English that conveys different meanings to different people in different situations. To a sportsman it has one meaning. When spoken by a motorist complaining of the erratic behavior of another motorist it has another meaning. In contrast, to an electrician working on the power grid, the sentence carries a different sense altogether. What we have to realize about the Companions is that they did not merely understand the context; they were themselves the context, and often spoke from the transcendental level; not from the stand point of the misleading cliché of modern times: ‘reason and logic.’

If the reader wishes to make the most of this work, he or she should allocate an area in his mind wherein he stores information obtained from the Salaf, in this work. This is the principal, the most reliable meaning, and the basis on which he can build on further. He might highlight such passages for ease of later reference.

Nonetheless, in order to keep alive interest and help increase knowledge, I have also included material that has so far been the prerogative of the Arabic‑speaking readers: material without which the Qur'anic spectrum of legitimate meaning loses some of its color.
To the above I have added some useful material from commentaries in Urdu and English. But of course, while selecting material from contemporary works, a critical eye has been kept open for errors of the conceptual type and, to the extent possible, those that contradict with a meaning accepted by the Jumhur al‑Ummah (the great majority). Jumhur al‑Ummah is of course not the same thing as the Ijma` al‑Ummah (the consensus of opinion ‑ the research of which is a difficult task, well beyond the scope of this work). The opinions of the Jumhur give us some idea of how the Qur'an has been understood through the ages. When Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Thanwi or others consider a point from the previous exegetes as worth quoting, then surely that adds up to the weight of the comment.
I have not reproduced from, or cited reference to, the contemporary commentators if they have discussed those matters that the ancients have already done. In most cases the contemporary scholars have changed the form, picking out from the ancients what would suit them most. I have quoted them only if they have a new idea or a fresh point, with the condition, once again, that such ideas do not, in my limited knowledge, contradict a proven opinion held by the Salaf or Jumhu al-Ummah. Anecdotes, poetry, fiqh points, and comparative study material have been added to break the monotony.

A word about quotations from the Sufiya' would be in order. We all know that an unclean person in dirty clothes would hardly improve himself by applying perfume. He first needs to cleanse himself. How can it be any different in matters pertaining to the soul? A heart filled with pride or preferential love of this world will hardly improve through wisdom-words or supererogatory exercises. Something needs to be done first to remove the impurities. Sufism is all about this removal of impurities. This centrist position however, lies between two extremes. It should not be imagined that by quoting the Sufiya' we are approving the extreme positions, practices, or the so‑called "ways of the Gnostic" that have no basis in the Shari`ah.

Hadith Authenticity
The most difficult task has been to present only those ahadith or reports from the Companions or others that are authentic, since no noteworthy work has been done by the hadith experts on Qur'anic commentaries. Mahmud Shakir's attempt at Tabari has remained incomplete. Hussain b. Ibrahim and Sayyid Ibrahim have done some useful, although not exhaustive work on Ibn Kathir and Shawkani. Occasionally, I have either traced the ahadith to their sources, and when not in the Sahih works, have depended on works on the topic by Hadith experts. I have tried not to quote anything less than Hasan in status. If I have quoted some weak reports, it is only those that are not very weak or are strengthened by other, although weak, ahadith, or the personal opinions of the Companion or others.

Ideological Interpretations
Some readers might be surprised to note the lack of a single string of thought in this work, as it is also lacking in classical commentaries: one strand, so to say, that weaves into itself the "philosophy of the whole of the Qur'an." This is a naive idea. To speak of the Qur'an in such terms is to presume a certain meaning, a certain philosophy, a certain ideology, and reduce the Word of Allah to human definitions.
It is common knowledge that this terrestrial existence is too complex to be interpreted in terms of a single philosophy. Life cannot be reduced to equations. Even the inorganic does not render itself to such simplification. At this very moment, scientists at a billion dollar apiece Accelerators (commonly known as atom smashers) are at their wit’s end trying to determine if the building blocks of an atom (which were once thought to be electrons, protons, neutrons and a few other elementary particles) are quarks, those 300 subatomic particles visible for a fraction of a second when the nucleus is smashed with highly accelerated protons, or there is more to it. No one can say for sure if there will be an end to it!! The wave and particle function of the sub-atomic particles is another intriguing issue. If solid matter is proving so complex, what should one think of the uncreated ‘Word’ of Allah?
Moreover, such a demand betrays the failure to understand the very basics of life in terms of human fears, hopes, aspirations, creativity and interactions. At every moment of his existence a man has several options before him, only one of which is the optimum best for him. What can guide him to the right choice but a criterion backed by a vast set of concepts, data and ideas that have their own quality to fuse themselves, in a flash of a second, into one homogenized whole and present a single, synchronized, workable idea or a suggestion ‑ that the man may accept or reject!?
Again, the Qur'an is, from one angle, a long essay in the education of concepts: the divisions are for human convenience. No detail can be missed in any area but at the loss of a concept; sometimes it might be the most valuable concept acting as the central link to a maze of ideas, and, a powerful magnet to iron flakes flying by in every direction. Hence the presentation in the style I have adopted. The reader will have to pick up bits and pieces, and put them together into a homogenous meaningful whole that is pertinent to his situation, and would be useful perhaps to him alone.

Acknowledgment
Rarely has a work of such dimensions and a task so demanding been attempted by a man as poorly qualified as this author. Yet, no efforts were spared to locate material necessary to produce the "aid for understanding the Qur'an" that he has aimed at producing. Although, it must be admitted, that efforts are no substitute for abilities.
The author’s dependence, therefore, on those who are pioneers in similar efforts should be quite evident. In the rendering of the Qur'anic text into English for instance, A.J. Arberry's influence can be easily detected. Yusuf `Ali, Asad and Pickthall have been in constant reference. N.J. Dawood and several others have also been consulted. To make it easier for the beginners and non‑Muslims (and following the recommendation of the fuqaha'), words and phrases have been added in parenthesis while rendering the text into English. Such interpolations are, nonetheless, based on an accepted interpretation.
Without trying to be humble, it can be said with a fair amount of accuracy that for all that is good and useful in this work, the credit is due to someone else, while the shortcomings are the contributions of this author who seeks Allah's forgiveness, and the reader's help in overcoming them.

Syed Iqbal Zaheer
March 2015

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References, abbreviations, and technical terms

Clue to References
Ahmad: Musnad by Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal (d. 241 A.H.).
Albani: Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahiha, Muhammad Nasiruddin Albani, (d. 1420 A.H.).
Albani: Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Da`eefah wa al-Mawdu`ah, Muhammad Nasirudding Albani, , Al-Maktab al-Islami.
Alusi/Ruh: Ruh al Ma`ani Fi Tafsir Qur’an al `Azim Wa al Sab` al Mathani by Shihab al Din Sayyid Mahmood Alusi (d.1291 A.H.)
`Aqidah: `Aqidah Tahawiyyah, commentary Ibn Abi al-`Izz, (tr. By Syed Iqbal Zaheer, as Funamentals of Islamic Creed), World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Dammam, Saudi Arabia
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Hussain: Tafsir ibn Kathir, Hussain b. Ibrahim Zahran, ed.
Ibn Is-haq: Sirah Rasulullah, by Muhammad ibn Ishaq (d. 151 A.H.).
Ibn Jarir/Tabari: Jami` al Bayan Fi Tafsir al Qur’an by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d.310 A.H.)
Ibn Kathir: Tafsir al Qur’an al `Azim by `Imad al Din Abul Fida Isma`il ibn `Amr ibn Kathir (d.774 A.H.)
Ibn Majah, Sunan, Muhammad b. Yazid al-Qazwini, Maktabah al-`Ilmiyyah, Beirut.
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Jami` Saghir: Fayd al-Qadir Sharh Jami` Saghir (of Jalaluddin Suyuti) by Muhammad `Abdul Ra’uf al-Munawi.
Kabir al: Al-Tafsir Al-Kabir, tafsir notes of Imam Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728 A.H) collected by Dr. `Abdul Rahman `Umayrah.
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Ma`arif /Shafi`: Ma`arif al Qur’an by Mufti Muhammad Shafi` Deobandi (d. 1396 A.H.).
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Mughni al, Ibn Qudamah, al-Maqdisi, Ri’asat al-Idaratu al-Buuth al-`Ilmiyyah, Saudi Arabia.
Mulhim: Fath al-Mulhim, Shabbir Ahmad `Uthmani, and, Takmilatu Fath al-Mulhim, Taqiuddin `Uthmani, Dar al-Ulum, Karachi.
Muwatta’: Muwatta’ by Imam Malik ibn Anas (d. 179 A.H.).
Nasa’i, Ahmad b. Shu`ayb, Sunan al-Nasa’i, Dar al-Rayyan li al-Turath, Cairo.
Nawawi: Sharh Sahih Muslim by Imam Sharfuddin al-Nawawi (d. 261 A.H.)
Penrice: A Dictionary and Glossary of the Qur’an, John Penrice, Gaurav Publishing House, 187
Qurtubi: Al-Jam`i Li ‘l Ahkam al Qur’an by Abu `Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahmad al Ansari al Qurtubi (d.671 A.H.)
Raghib: Mu`jam Mufradat al-Qur’an by al-Raghib al-Asfahani (d. 503 A.H.)
Rawa‘e`: Rawa‘e` al-Bayan Tafsir Ayat al-Ahkam by Muhammad `Ali Sabuni.
Razi: Tafsir al Fakhr al Razi by Muhammad al-Razi Fakhr al Din ibn Dia al Din `Umar (d.604 A.H.)
Sabuni: Safwatu al Tafasir by Muhammad `Ali Sabuni.
Sahih ibn Hibban bi-Tarteeb Ibn Balban, `Ala’uddin `Ali b. Balban, , Mu’assasah al-Risalah, Beirut.
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Se`di: Taysir al-Karim al-Rahman, fir Tafsir al-Mannan, `Abdul Rahman b. Nasir Se`id.
Shawkani: Al-Fut-h al-Qadir by Muhammad ibn `Ali Shawkani (d.1255 A.H.)
S. Ibrahim: Ed. Al-Fath al-Qadir, by Shawkani
Sihah: Taj al-Lugha wa Sihah al-`Arabiyyah, Isma`il b. Nasr Hammad al-Jawhari, 393 A.H.
Sirah: Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah fi Daw Masadir al-Athliyyah, Dr. Mahdi Rizqallah, Saudi Arabia 1992.
Sayyid Qutb/Qutb/Zilal: Fi Zilal al Qur’an by Sayyid Qutb (d.1386 A.H.).
Thanwi/Bayan: Bayan al Qur’an by Ashraf `Ali Thanwi (d.1361 A.H.)
Tuhfah: Tuhfah al-Ahwazi bi Sharh Jami` al-Tirmidhi by Muhammad ibn `Abdul Rahman Mubarakpuri.
Yusuf Ali: The Glorious Qur’an, Meaning and Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (d. 1953 A.H.).
Zafar Ahmad `Uthmani, I`la al-Sunan, Idaratu al-Islam wa `Ulum al-Islamiyyah, Karachi, Pakistan.
Zamakhshari/Kashshaf: Haqa’iq al- Tanzil Wa `Uyun al-Aqawil Fi Wujuh at-Ta‘wil by Abu al-Qasim Jarallah Mahmood b.`Umar al-Zamakhshari (d.538 A.H.).
Zarkashi: Al-Burhan Fi `Ulum al-Qur’an by Badruddin Muhammad bin `Abdullah al-Zarkashi (d. 794 A.H.), Dar al-Ma`rifa, Beirut.
Note: The list above is not a complete bibliography, but rather books sort of more often referred.

________________________

Abbreviations as in
Abdul Majid Daryabadi’s English Commentary

(1) BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
Ac. = Acts of the Apostles.
Am. = Amos.
1. Ch. = The First Book of the Chronicles.
2. Ch. = The Second Book of the Chronicles.
1. Cor. = Paul’s First Epistle of the Apostles.
1. Ch. = The First Book of the Chronicles.
2. Ch. = The Second Book of the Chronicles.
1. Cor. = Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.
2. Cor. = Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
Dn. = The Book of Daniel.
Dt. = Deuteronomy: The Fifth Book of Moses.
Ex. = Exodus: The Second Book of Moses.
Ez. = Ezra.
Ezek. = The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.
Ga. = Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.
Ge. = Genesis: The First Book of Moses.
He. = Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews.
Ho. = Hosea.
Is. = Isiah.
Ja. = The General Epistle of James.
Jn. = Gospel according to St. John.
Jo. = Joel.
Job. = The Book of Job.
Jon. = The Book of Jonah.
Josh. = The Book of Joshua.
Judg. = The Book of Judges.
Je. = The Book of Jeremiah.
1. Ki. = The First Book of the Kings.
2. Ki. = The Second Book of the Kings.
La. The Lamentations of Jeremiah.
Lk. = The Gospel according to St. Luke.
Le. = Leviticus: The Third Book of Moses.
Mi. = Micah.
Mk. = Gospel according to St. Mark.
Mt. = Gospel according to St. Matthew.
Na. = Nahum.
Ne. = The Book of Nehemiah.
Nu. = Numbers: The Fourth Book of Moses.
1. Pe. = The First Epistle General of Peter.
2. Pe. = The Second Epistle General of Peter.
Ph. = Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians.
Pr. = The Proverbs.
Ps. = The Book of Psalms.
Re. = The Revelation of St. John.
Ro. = Paul’s Epistle to the Romans
1. Sa. = The First Book of Samuel.
2. Sa. = The Second Book of Samuel.
So. = The Song of Solomon.
1. Thes. = Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians.
2. Thes. = Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians.
1. Ti. = Paul’s First Epistle to Timothy.
2. Ti. = Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy.
Tt. = Paul’s Epistle to Titus.
Ze. = Zechariah.

(2) GENERAL
“Ant.” = Josephus’ ‘Antiquities of the Jews.’ (Routledge London).
Aq. = Shah Abdul Qadir Dehlavi (D. 1241 A.H./1826 C.E.). Urdu translator and commentator of the Holy Qur’an.
ASB. = Asad’s English Translation of Sahih al-Bukhari.
AV. = Authorized Version of the Bible.
AYA. = `Abdullah Yusuf `Ali. English translator and commentator of the Holy Qur’an.
Bdh. = Nasir-ud-Din `Abdullah Baidhavi (D. 685 A.H./1282 C.E.). Commentator of the Holy Qur’an.
BK. = ‘Book of Knowledge,’ 4 Vols. (Educational Book Co., London)
CD. = Pallen and Wynne’s ‘New Catholic Dictionary.’ (New York).
CE. = McDannell’s ‘Concise Encyclopedia,’ 8 Vols. (New York).
C.E. = Christian Era.
DB. = Hastings’ ‘Dictionary of the Bible,’ 5 Vols. (Clarke, London).
DCA. = Smith and Cheetham’s ‘Dictionary of Christian Antiquities,’ 2 Vols. (Murray, London).
DV. = Douay Version of the Bible.
EBi. = Cheyne and Black’s ‘Encyclopedia Biblica,’ 4 Vols. (Black, London).
EBr. = ‘Encyclopedia Britannica,’ 29 Vols. 11th Edition. (London).
Encyclopedia Britannica,’ 24 Vols. 14th Edition. (London and New York). Where no edition is specified, the reference is to 14th edition.
EI. = Houtsma and Wensink’s ‘Encyclopedia of Islam,’ 5 Vols. (Luzac, London).
EMK. = Hammerton’s ‘Encyclopedia of Modern Knowledge,’ 5 Vols. (Waverly, New York).
ERE. = Hastings’ ‘Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics,’ 13 Vols. (Clarke, London).
ESS. = Seligman’s ‘Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences,’ 15 Vols. (Macmillan, London).
FWN = Frazer’s ‘Worship of Nature,’ 2 Vols. (Macmillan, London).
GB. = Ragg’s ‘The Gospel of Barnabas.’ (Oxford).
GRE. = Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,’ 7 Vols. (Methuen, London).
HHW. = ‘Historians’ History of the World,’ 25 Vols. (The Times, London).
HJ. = The Hibbert Journal. (Constable, London).
IA. = Hadhrat `Abdullah Ibn-i-`Abbas. (D. 68 A.H./688 C.E.) (A companion and cousin of the Holy Prophet).
IQ. = Ibn-i-Qutaiba. (D. 276 A.H./890 C.E.) Author of ‘Arabic Glossary of the Holy Qur’an.
JE. = ‘The Jewish Encyclopedia,’ 12 Vols. (Funk and Wagnalls, New York).
LL. = Lane’s ‘Arabic-English Lexicon,’ 8 Vols. (Williams and Norgate, London).
LSK. = Lane and Lane-Poole’s ‘Selections from the Kuran.” (Trubner, London).
M.A. = Maulana Mohammad `Ali: (D. 1349 A.H./1931 C.E.) Indian Muslim leader. (Not to be confused with his namesake of Lahore and a translator of the Qur’an). The references are to his unpublished work, ‘Islam: The Kingdom of God’ (since published as ‘My Life – A Fragment’ by Sh. M. Ashraf, Lahore).
NSD. = ‘New Standard Dictionary of the English Language,’ 4 Vols. (Funk and Wagnalls, New York).
NT. = The New Testament.
OT. = The Old Testament.
PC. = Tyler’s ‘Primitive Culture,’ 2 Vols. (Murray, London).
RV. = Revised Version of the Bible.
RZ. = Imam Fakhruddin Razi. (D. 659 A.H./1209 C.E.). Well-know commentator of the Holy Qur’an.
SOED. = ‘Shorter Oxford English Dictionary,’ 2 Vols. (Oxfor).
SPD. = Sale’s ‘Preliminary Discourse to the Translation of the Kuran,’ prefixed as Introduction to Wherry’s ‘Commentary on the Kuran,’ 4 Vols. (Trubner, London)
Th. = Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanvi. (B. 1280 A.H./1864 C.E.). Translator and commentator of the Holy Qur’an
UHW. = Hammerton’s ‘Universal History of the World,’ 8 Vols. (New York).
VJE. = Vallentine’s ‘One Volume Jewish Encyclopedia.’ (London).
WGAL. = Wright’s ‘Grammar of the Arabic Language,’ 2 Vols. (Cambridge).
Zm. = Jar-ul-lah Zamakhsari (D. 538 A.H./1144 C.E.). Commentator of the Holy Qur’an.

_______________________

Abbreviations - General
asws: `Alayhi al‑Salat wa al‑Salam (on him be peace and blessing).
ra: Radi Allahu `anhu/`anha (may Allah be pleased with him/her).
Au.: Author.
Sahihayn: Bukhari and Muslim.
saws: Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam (May Allah send peace and blessing upon him).
swt: Subhanahu wa Ta`ala (glorified be He, the Exalted).

_______________________

Technical Terms
Da`if: A weak report but not a fabricated one nor entirely untrustworthy. It has some weakness in its text or in its isnad. A kind of hadith, therefore, before which one can place a question mark.
Gharib: That report in which the isnad has a single narrator after the Companion.
Hasan: A da`if report but above in strength over the one classified as da`if. Several da`if versions (unless too weak) render a hadith hasan.
Isnad: Chain of narrators.
Mawquf: A report whose chain of narration stops at a Companion.
Munkar: A kind of da`if hadith that has no other report through any other chain of narrators for a double check.
Mursal: A hadith which has been transmitted directly from the Prophet (saws) by a tabe`i, without a Companion in between Mutawatir: A report by such a large number of narrators whose agreement upon a lie is inconceivable.
Sahih: A trustworthy report.

________________________

Transliteration
The transliteration method used in this work neither conforms to the international standards, nor it has been applied extensively. It is only where it was thought that some confusion might occur that a few marks have been added. However, the method is as follows:
( ث ) is transliterated as "tha" ; ( ح ) as "ha" ; ( ذ ) as "dhal" ; ( ز ) and ( ظ ) both as "za" ; ( ص ) as "sad" ; ( ض ) as "dad" ; ( ع ) as "`ayn" ; and hamza ( ه ) as “ ' “ e.g. Jibra’il.

______________________

Vowels
Vowels have been expressed in the following manner
( ا ) is expressed as "a", so that ( باب ) is written as "bab" ; (و ) is expressed with "u" , as for example ( نون ) is written as "nun"; ( ي ) is expressed with "i", as in the word (سين ) which is written as "sin".

______________________

  • Surah No. 2

    سورة البقرة

    Surah 2

    Al-Baqarah (The Cow)

    Merits of the Surah

    This is very important chapter of Qur'an. The Prophet said:

    عن سهل بن سعد رضي الله عنه أن رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم قال: "إنَّ لكل شيءٍ سناماً، وإنَّ سنام القرآن البقرة، وإن من قرأها في بيته ليلة لم يدخله الشيطان ثلاث ليال" (رواه الطبراني وابن حبان وابن مردويه (

    "Everything has its summit. The summit of the Qur'an is al-Baqarah. Satan does not enter for three nights the house in which it is recited in a night" (Ibn Kathir, from Tabarani and others).
    And by (entry of Satan) the allusion is to the non-effectiveness of his prompting meant (Qurtubi from Abu Hatim al-Busti).
    Another report in Muslim Tirmidhi, Nasa'i and others states that the Prophet (saws) said:

    لَا تَجْعَلُوا بُيُوتَكُمْ مَقَابِرَ إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ يَنْفِرُ مِنْ الْبَيْتِ الَّذِي تُقْرَأُ فِيهِ سُورَةُ الْبَقَرَةِ

    "Do not turn your homes into grave-yards. Satan flees from a house in which Al-Baqarah is recited."
    In another hadith preserved by Imam Muslim, the Prophet is reported to have said:

    عن أبي أُمَامَةَ الْبَاهِلِيُّ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ اقْرَءُوا الْقُرْآنَ فَإِنَّهُ يَأْتِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ شَفِيعًا لأَصْحَابِهِ اقْرَءُوا الزَّهْرَاوَيْنِ الْبَقَرَةَ وَسُورَةَ آلِ عِمْرَانَ فَإِنَّهُمَا تَأْتِيَانِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كَأَنَّهُمَا غَمَامَتَانِ أَوْ كَأَنَّهُمَا غَيَايَتَانِ أَوْ كَأَنَّهُمَا فِرْقَانِ مِنْ طَيْرٍ صَوَافَّ تُحَاجَّانِ عَنْ أَصْحَابِهِمَا اقْرَءُوا سُورَةَ الْبَقَرَةِ فَإِنَّ أَخْذَهَا بَرَكَةٌ وَتَرْكَهَا حَسْرَةٌ وَلا تَسْتَطِيعُهَا الْبَطَلَةُ (قَالَ مُعَاوِيَةُ بَلَغَنِي أَنَّ الْبَطَلَةَ السَّحَرَةُ)  - صحيح مسلم

    "Read the Qur'an, for it will intercede for its companions. Read the two lights (Al-Baqarah and Al-'Imran), for on the day of Judgment they will come in the form of two umbrellas, or like the two wings of a bird pleading and arguing in favor of those who used to recite them." Then he added: "Read al-Baqarah, for its reading brings blessing, its abandoning regrets, and magicians have no power over it."
    On an occasion, when the Prophet (saws) had to appoint a leader over a group of new-Muslims preparing, after their initiation at Madinah, to go back to their dwellings, he asked then to red out to him what they had memorized of the Qur'an. A lad, who was the youngest of the group, told him: "I know so much of the Qur'an, and, in addition, surah al-Baqarah." The Prophet exclaimed: "Do you know surah al-Baqarah?" The lad said, "Yes, I do". The Prophet said: "Then, you will be their amir" (Ibn Kathir from Tirmidhi, Nasa'i and Ibn Majah).
    Qurtubi reports from Ibn Abdul Barr's "Al-Isti`aab" that when, `Umar asked Labid, the famous pre-Islamic poet who had embraced Islam, to recite for him some of his poetry, Labid began to recite al-Baqarah. "This is not what I asked you," `Umar remonstrated. Labid replied: "Well, I have giving up composing poetry after Allah gave me al-Baqarah and aal-`Imraan." The reply pleased `Umar so much that he increased his state-allowance.    

    مدنية

    Madinan1

    1. See surah al‑Fatihah, note 3, for explanation.

    عدد الآيات 286

    286 verses

    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

    IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE KIND, THE COMPASSIONATE

    الم (1)

    2|1| Alif. Lam. Mim.2

    2. Most of the scholars are of the opinion that the exact meaning of these letter‑symbols Alif. Lam. Mim, and others of their kind are not known. They occur at the beginning of some chapters  and are known as huruf al‑muqatta`at (  حُروف المُقَطَّعات ). Abu Bakr (ra) is reported to have said: "Every Book has its mysteries. The mystery of the Qur'an is at the beginning of its chapters" (Alusi).
    That, however, has not prevented some scholars from speculating. The most widely quoted opinion is based on two sets of facts: firstly, all the words of the Arabic language are, in the root (masdar), composed of one to five letters, rarely more than five. These muqatta`at are also always composed of one, two, three, four or five letters. Secondly, all the chapters beginning with these huruf al muqatta`at begin with a direct or oblique reference to divine revelation (Asad, Appendix II). The conclusion is that the muqatta`at are meant to illustrate the wondrous nature of the Qur'anic revelation, which, although composed of the very sounds and letters of ordinary human speech, is yet inimitable.
    Whatever the meaning, it is undeniable that these letter‑symbols draw the attention of the inattentive listener. When anyone who knows Arabic, hears these words recited by a qari (reciter), he is forced to lend his ear eagerly to know what will follow by way of explanation. Involuntarily, he becomes more attentive, and the first few verses that follow assault him in his complete unawareness, quickly penetrating his mind before his mind realizes that he has unconsciously submitted himself to their influence, and starts erecting barricades. But, until then, some message would have penetrated his mind (based on Qutrub's opinion (a language expert) as quoted by Razi and accepted by him as the preferred meaning).

    ذَلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ هُدًى لِلْمُتَّقِينَ (2)

    2|2| This is the Book3 wherein is no doubt,4 a guidance5 for the godfearing.6

    3. That is, "this Book" is "the Book," par excellence, in the right and fullest sense of the word. The rest of what we know as books written by humans fall short of the definition of "the Book," being inexact, inauthentic, hypothetical, and unreliable in their content. They are books only in the very general and loose sense of the word.
    "The Qur'an thus at its very beginning declares itself to be a written, not an oral, Revelation, passing only from mouth to mouth for generations. It is a 'Book' essentially, and not by accident. Unlike the 'sacred literatures' of the other religions, it is a single Book from the very start, and not a collection or a literature grown and developed and composed at different periods by different hands reflecting the history of their times" (Majid).
    It is also the most widely read book in the world, despite the fact, as someone put it, that a book gets old in 5 years time (Au.).

    4. The Book itself clears all doubts about it being from anyone other than Allah. Some say (Ibn Kathir), that what's meant is: "Do not doubt that it is Allah's revelation."
    The phrase can also be translated as, "The book wherein there is no doubt," giving the meaning, "This is the Book in which nothing is doubtful but everything absolutely true and strictly accurate, not changeable like human knowledge" (Majid).

    5. That is, a Book that guides ‑ individuals as well as nations ‑ in all the affairs of their lives, paves the way for them to eternal bliss in the Hereafter, and draws them nearer to Allah and His rida. This is the main function of the Book. Guidance therefore is what a reader should look for when he reads it.
    Also see Raghib's discussion of the term hidayah under note 14 of al‑Fatiha.
    Shanqiti writes: Hudan in this verse has been used in the sense of tawfiq (or divine inducement to "accept" the truth and the power to do as one intends: Au.), and not merely in the commonly understood sense of making the truth distinct (from falsehood).
    Majid adds from Muhammad `Ali: "(It is) not a text Book of chronology or of physical sciences, but a Guidance, showing the right way to right beliefs and right conduct. 'Not a book meant to be read as most Europeans read it to‑day sitting comfortably in an arm‑chair with the critical faculties especially stimulated, ready to carp and cavil on the least provocation."
    It is not a Book to be read for the sake of blessings alone, as most Muslims do today. Although there is nothing wrong in doing that. In fact, that is commendable. But that surely is not the reason of its revelation. That is not how the Companions of the Prophet, or those who followed them, treated the Book. They read it in order to structure their entire life on lines delineated by it. Whether the matter was trivial or serious, simple or complex, personal or national, they looked into this Book for guidance. It is reported of a Companion that he said that if he lost his camel's halter, he would look for it in the Qur'an.
    "It is a book that guides:" A simple truth in which every Muslim thinks he believes, but few seem to be able to differentiate, and fewer realize the contradiction arising out of their efforts to seek guidance from other sources such as: religious writings, sayings of saintly persons or ideas of influential thinkers. The constant effort should be to seek guidance and inspiration from this Book, and its supplementary, the Sunnah, only seeking some help in its understanding from the "other sources." Further, it should not be forgotten that these "other sources" can help only to the extent that they contain the "sources proper": i.e. the Qur'an and the Sunnah. This means that it is necessary that they be subjected to hard scrutiny before their help is sought and accepted (Au.).

    6. Taqwa is an oft‑occurring and very important concept of the Qur'an. We shall discuss its various aspects at various points. Here we shall quote a few definitions from Ibn Kathir.
    Taqwa
    Ibn `Abbas says: "Godfearing are those who do not adulterate their faith (with shirk), and are obedient to Allah at all times." Hasan al‑Busri has said: "(It is those) who refrain from all that has been forbidden and fulfill all that they have been commanded." Qatadah says the verses following it define it. And a hadith says: "A man does not become one of the muttaqin until he gives up that which is lawful in fear of (of stepping into) that which is unlawful" (Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah).
    When asked by `Umar, Ubayy b. Ka`b illustrated this concept in the following manner. "Have you ever been through a path covered by thorny bushes?" he asked. "Yes," said `Umar. "How did you conduct yourself?" Ka`b asked him. "Well," `Umar said, "I gathered my clothes and maneuvered myself clear of them." K`ab said: "That is taqwa." (That is, to maneuver oneself clear of sins).
    Taqwa however has various levels and functions. Accordingly, it can be variously defined depending upon its several levels and functions. For instance, another definition of Ibn `Abbas as reported by Tabari is: "Those who are (always) on their guard, fearing the punishment of Allah (which may befall them), if they neglect what they know to be His guidance: and are hopeful of winning His Mercy through affirmation of the truth that He has revealed."
    This seems to be another way of saying that taqwa is a state of hope and fear, so that, obviously, the more intense the feeling, the more muttaqi the person becomes.
    The Qur'an states that it is the source of guidance for the muttaqin. Does that mean that others cannot be guided? The answer is, 'Yes, those who do not have taqwa in any measure will not be guided.' It is the pre‑requisite for drawing any guidance from the Qur'an, as its opposites ‑ pride, arrogance, self‑conceit etc. ‑ disqualify a person from obtaining guidance.

    الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنْفِقُونَ (3)

    2|3| Those, who believe7 in the unknown,8 do9 the Prayer (diligently and spiritedly),10 and spend of what We have given them.11

    7. The "imaan" that is required of a Muslim stands for "Attestation (of the faith in the heart), its utterance (with the tongue), and deeds (concordant with it). Further, it increases and decreases" (Ibn Kathir). It can also be differently put and said that, "Imaan is faith and utterance. Deeds affirm or negate (what one claims as one's belief)." Zuhri is reported by Tabari as saying that iman is nothing but din.
    As for the meaning of the term "those who believe," Tabari reports Ibn `Abbas as of opinion: "Those who attest," (i.e. tasdiq as opposed to takdhib, denial).

    8. In Islamic terminology, the unknown (al‑ghayb) is anything that human reason cannot lead to and the knowledge of which has come to us through the Prophet, such as, the signs of the Hour, the punishment in the grave, the details of the Questioning, the Bridge (Sirat), the Scales (al-Meezan), the Heaven and Hell (Qurtubi). `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud's definition, as stated in Ibn Kathir, is also very close to this.
    Al‑Ghayb
    Asad states: "In modern terminology Al‑ghayb is used in the Qur'an to denote all those sectors or phases of reality which lie beyond the range of human perception and cannot, therefore, be proved or disproved by scientific observation or even adequately comprised within the accepted categories of speculative thought: as, for instance, the existence of God, and of a definite purpose underlying the universe, life after death, the real nature of time, the existence of spiritual forces and their inter‑actions, and so forth. Only a person who is convinced that the ultimate reality comprises far more than our observable environment can attain to belief in God and, thus, to a belief that life has meaning and purpose. By pointing out that it is 'a guidance for those who believe in the existence of that which is beyond human perception,' the Qur'an says, in effect, that it will ‑ of necessity ‑ remain a closed book to all those minds that cannot accept this fundamental premise."
    Ibn Kathir has the following to state: Once in the presence of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud (ra) people were talking about the eminence and superiority of the Companions of the Prophet (saws) over the rest of the ummah. That status they rightly deserved (because of their great deeds in Islam, such as), being the first to believe in the Prophet. At that point Ibn Mas`ud interjected, saying: "You see, the fact is that the contemporaries of the Prophet saw the truth clearly, (hence no wonder that they believed in him). But, by Him besides whom there is no God, no one has a better faith than he who believed in the unknown." Then Ibn Mas`ud recited verses 3, 4 and 5 of this chapter.
    Ibn Kathir also adds the following: The hadith of Ibn Muhayriz, recorded by Ahmad, conveys the same meaning as Ibn Mas`ud tried to express.

    عَنْ أَبِي مُحَيْرِيزٍ ، قَالَ : قُلْتُ لأَبِي جُمُعَةَ حَدِّثْنَا حَدِيثًا سَمِعْتَهُ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ، فَقَالَ : نَعَمْ أُحَدِّثُكُمْ حَدِيثًا جَيِّدًا ، تَغَدَّيْنَا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَمَعَنَا أَبُو عُبَيْدَةَ بن الْجَرَّاحِ ، فَقَالَ : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ، أَحَدٌ خَيْرٌ مِنَّا آمَنَّا بِكَ وَجَاهَدْنَا مَعَكَ ؟ قَالَ : " قَوْمٌ يَجِيئُونَ مِنْ بَعْدِكُمْ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِي وَلَمْ يَرَوْنِي ".

    Ibn Muhayriz said: "I said to Abu Jumu`ah, 'Tell us something that you (personally) heard from the Prophet.' He said, 'I shall, and a good one!' Then he said: 'Once we lunched with the Prophet. Abu `Ubaydah b. al‑Jarrah was with us. He asked the Prophet: 'O Messenger of Allah, can there be anyone better than us who believed in you and fought with you?' The Prophet replied: 'Yes, people after you who will believe in me even though they would not have seen me.'"
    Ibn Kathir also relates Saleh b. Jubayr as saying:

    وفي رواية أُخرى عن صالح بن جبير قال: قدم علينا أبو جمعة الأنصاري صاحب رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم ببيت المقدس يصلي فيه ومعنا يومئذ (رجاء بن حيوة) رضي اللّه عنه، فلما انصرف خرجنا نشيِّعه فلما أراد الإنصراف قال: إنَّ لكم جائزة وحقاً، أحدثكم بحديث سمعته من رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم قلنا: هات رحمك اللّه، قال: كنا مع رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم - ومعنا معاذ ابن جبل عاشر عشرة - فقلنا يا رسول اللّه: هل من قومٍ أعظم منا أجراً؟ آمنا بك واتبعناك، قال: "ما يمنعكم من ذلك ورسول اللّه بين أظهركم يأتيكم بالوحي من السماء؟ بل قوم بعدكم يأتيهم كتاب من بين لوحين، يؤمنون به ويعملون بما فيه، أولئك أعظم منكم أجراً، أولئك أعظم منكم أجراً "  (رواه أبو بكر بن مردويه في تفسيره عن صالح بن جبير عن بي جمعة (.

    "(We were in Jerusalem when) Abu Jumu`a al‑Ansari, the Prophet's Companion, visited (the city) to offer prayers in Bayt al‑Maqdis. Raja' b. Haywah was also with him. At the time of his departure we accompanied him for a short distance. When we had to part he said: "You have a right on me (that you have treated me well. In return) I will narrate to you a hadith that I heard directly from the Prophet." We said (with some excitement), "Do that please, may Allah enwrap you in His mercy." He said: "Well. Once we were with the Prophet. Mu`adh b. al‑Jabal, one of the Ten (given the good news of entry into Paradise) was also with us. We asked the Prophet: 'Will anyone be rewarded better than us, seeing that we believed in you and followed you?' The Prophet said: 'What could have prevented you from doing that when the Prophet of Allah is with you, and the revelations come down before you from the heavens? Indeed, a people will come after you who will receive the Book bound between two covers. They will believe in it and live by it. Theirs will be a reward greater than yours. Theirs will be a reward greater than yours.'"
    Razi points out that the interpretation of the Shi`ah to the effect that "ghayb" is the "awaited Mahdi" is totally unfounded.

    9. Primarily, salah in Arabic means supplication. The word has been used in the following hadith in this sense:

    عن عبد الله بن مسعود قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا دعي أحدكم إلى طعام فليجب فإن مفطراً فليأكل وإن كان صائماً فليدع بالبركة. رواه الطبراني في الكبير ورجاله ثقات (مجمع الزوائد ومنبع الفوائد)

    "If one of you is invited to a meal, let him accept it. But if he is fasting, (let him still go) and pray (for the host)" ‑ Alusi
    Ibn Jarir adds that whenever the Qur'an says yuqimuna al‑salah, it alludes to "the obligatory Prayers."

    10. The iqamah of the iqamah al‑salah is popularly rendered into English as "to establish." But linguistically it is "to do a thing properly, efficiently, and in good spirit." According to Ibn `Abbas, Iqama al‑salah is, "to do the deep bows (ruku`), prostration (sujud) and recitation (tilawah) well, and pay full attention in hope and anticipation (khushu` wa iqbal) ‑ Tabari.
    It means to do it on time, preceded by a thorough ablution, and doing well the bows, prostrations, etc. (Qatadah ‑ Ibn Kathir).
    "It means to perform all of its various elements (arkan) in proper measure and to take care that none of its obligatory acts (fara'id), non‑obligatory acts (sunan), nor the rules of decorum (adab) suffer from any defect" (Kashshaf).
    Although a Muslim is required to create those conditions in the society in which salah can be performed well, the term "yuqimuna" does not mean here the "establishment" in the sense of establishing a system, a state, or a religion, as the Urdu‑speaking people tend to understand. The emphasis in "iqamat al‑salah" is on the individual to do the salah well. It does not call for efforts to make others also do it (although otherwise an obligation), nor does it allude to the efforts toward creating the conditions in the society in which it can be performed well (Au.).

    11. Spending "applies to all that may be of benefit to man, whether it be something concrete (like food, property, offspring, etc.) or abstract (like knowledge, piety, etc.)" ‑ Asad
    Ibn `Abbas said that the verse is speaking of the obligatory zakah (Ibn Jarir). However, Ibn Jarir is himself of the opinion that the term "spending" covers both the (obligatory) zakah as well as other forms of charity.
    Ibn Kathir notes that Allah Most High invariably mentions salah and zakah together in the Qur'an. This is because one is Allah's due and the other the people's. Further, salah includes every devotional act such as to declare Allah's Oneness, His glory, His greatness, and supplications made to Him; as "spending" includes everything of benefit that one can do to others.
    Alusi adds: Deeds are either the acts of the heart (qalbiyyah), the acts of the body (qalibiyyah), or they are of monetary nature (maliyyah). The act of the utmost importance of the heart is faith (iman), that of the body is salah, and that of the monetary zakah. Their importance is in the same order, and therefore, here they have been mentioned in the same order; for faith is obligatory at all the times, salah most of the times, and zakah at some of the times (condensed).
    Razi notes: Allah Most High first mentioned taqwa ‑ which is to give up all that is forbidden ‑ and then He mentioned the deeds. Now, the deeds emanate either from the heart or from the body. The deed of the heart is to believe, while that of the body is salah and zakah. Taqwa has been mentioned first because the heart is like a tablet on which something can be engraved. The tablet therefore must be first erased (of old lines) before new lines of faith and deeds are drawn. Accordingly, taqwa precedes the deeds of the heart and the body.

    وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ وَبِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ يُوقِنُونَ (4)

    2|4| And those, who believe in what has been revealed to you12 (O Muhammad), and that which was revealed before you;13 and they believe in the Hereafter.14

    12. That is, they believe in and attest as true, all that you have brought them (O Muhammad, whether they be of the nature of the news of the past nations, or of commands ‑ whether they come through the Qur'an or hadith) ‑ Sabuni.

    13. That is, they accept as true all that you have brought, as well as all that other prophets before you brought from their Lord ‑ without making a distinction between them and without contesting anything that they brought (Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Kathir).
    Thus, the Qur'an makes it clear that the sending down of the "guidance" by Allah is not entirely a new phenomenon in the history of mankind. It started with the very first man on earth and continued up to Prophet Muhammad (saws), with whom it culminated. It is not enough therefore, for a believer of today to believe in the last Prophet alone. He is rather required to believe in the whole series sent by Allah (Majidi, abridged).
    "...The religion of the Qur'an can be properly understood only against the background of the great monotheistic faiths which preceded it, and which, ... culminate and achieve their final formulation in the faith of Islam" (Asad).

    14. That is, they believe in the Resurrection, the Heaven and Hell, the Reckoning and the Scales (Ibn `Abbas: Tabari).
    Yuqinun means they firmly believe in it, from the depth of their hearts and without nurturing any reservations or doubts.
    Yaqin is the opposite of "doubt." Says Raghib: "Yaqin is an attribute which is one level above knowledge, understanding, appreciation, etc." And, according to Taj al‑`Arus, "Yaqin is removal of all doubt" (Majid).
    Majid also writes: "Not a mere feeling, or suspicion, or opinion, but firm, unshakable adherence of mind to the truth of the Hereafter... Conviction, in its fullness, is not an exercise of the intellect, but the assent and consent of the entire human personality ‑ the recognition of a truth with heart, mind and soul. The reaction set up by the belief in the Hereafter in the minds of humble believers is far stronger than that due to sensible perceptions."

    أُولَئِكَ عَلَى هُدًى مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ (5)

    2|5| These are the ones who are on a Guidance (that is) from their Lord; and these are the ones that are successful.15

    15. One opinion of Ibn `Abbas about "those who are successful" is that "they are the ones who attain what they seek and are delivered from the evil from which they flee" (Ibn Jarir).
    Al‑muflihun: "There is not in the language of the Arabs any word more comprehensive in its significations of what is good in the present life and in the final state than al‑falah" (Lisan al‑`Arab, Majid).

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا سَوَاءٌ عَلَيْهِمْ أَأَنْذَرْتَهُمْ أَمْ لَمْ تُنْذِرْهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ (6)

    2|6| Surely16 those who have disbelieved,17 it is alike to them whether you warned them or did not warn them18 - they will not believe.19

    16. Inna has been translated as "surely." It could also be rendered as "verily" or "indeed." But none of them carries the sense the original does, for inna has been used here to indicate the resolve of the unbelievers, or the state of the mind that is bent on denying the truth (Au.).

    17. Kufr in Arabic stands for covering or concealing a thing.
    Hence the "tiller" (57: 20) and the "night" are also known as kafir because one hides seeds in the earth and the other, everything under its darkness (Sabuni).

    18. It does not mean that such a person should not be warned because, even if it is of no profit to them, it is of profit to those who warn (Bayan and Ma`arif).

    19. That is, those who recognized the truth, knew it, understood it, but refused to acknowledge, rather worked against it. To such it is alike whether you warn them or not. They will not believe. Theirs is a well considered decision, which they are not going to alter. They are confirmed unbelievers, the hard‑core rejecters (Au.).
    According to Ibn `Abbas the verse came down describing the Jewish rabbis of Madinah, who, despite their recognition of the Prophet, decided to reject him (Ibn Jarir).
    Although it cannot be said of anyone with certainty that he is a kafir, since faith is hidden deep in the hearts, those will have to be treated as kuffar who do not announce their faith in Islam.
    Qurtubi writes: Although the verse is general in application, it is specific in the case of someone whose sentence of punishment has already been passed, and who is, in Allah's knowledge, of those who will die on disbelief.
    Generally speaking, that person is a kafir who expresses disbelief in anything that is well established as part of the religion of Islam (Ma`arif). That is, anything that the Prophet spoke of, whether it be concerning some act enjoined upon the Muslims, or simply an information such as concerning Heaven and Hell, and which has come to the Muslims through a report that cannot be doubted for its veracity, such as, a hadith of mutawatir status, then, its rejection is tantamount to kufr (Au).

    خَتَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ وَعَلَى سَمْعِهِمْ وَعَلَى أَبْصَارِهِمْ غِشَاوَةٌ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ (7)

    2|7| Allah has set a seal on their hearts,20 and on their hearing; and on their eyes is a covering.21 For them is a mighty chastisement.22

    20.Majid writes, "'Heart' in the Qur'an, as in the Bible, is the seat of all emotional, intellectual and volitional life, and the center of all moral and spiritual functions" (Majid).

    21. Similar to the "reaction" to every "action" in the physical world, the sealing of the heart and hearing, and the covering of the eyes of the kuffar, is a result of their persistent disbelief after the truth became evident to them. In the words of Asad, it is, "… a reference to the natural law instituted by God, whereby a person who persistently adheres to false beliefs and refuses to listen to the voice of truth gradually loses the ability to perceive the truth, 'so that finally, as it were, a seal is set upon his heart' (Raghib). Since it is God who has instituted all laws of nature which, in their aggregate called sunnat Allah ('the way of God') ‑ this 'sealing' is attributed to Him: but it is obviously a consequence of man's free choice and not an act of 'predestination.'"
    Majid says : "All this is the natural and inevitable sequel to the rejecters' obstinate refusal to open their hearts to receive, their ears to hear, and their eyes to see the good and true, and is only ascribable to God, as all acts, as such, are ultimately bound to be ascribed to Him. It is those who will not believe that are condemned to judicial blindness which portends the more awful punishment of Hell."
    A hadith of Ahmad and Ibn Majah says: "When a believer commits a sin it leaves a black mark on his heart. If he repents, gives up the sin, and seeks forgiveness, his heart is cleansed. But if he adds (sins), then the black marks add up until they cover the entire heart. This is the raan that Allah the Praiseworthy spoke of in verse (14: 83):

    كَلا بَلْ رَانَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ مَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ

    No indeed; but that which they have been earning has rusted their hearts." In these words, the Prophet (saws) has informed us that when a man covers his heart entirely with sins, Allah seals it, so that there is neither a way for iman to enter, nor for kufr to depart"' (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    22.It must not be imagined that since Allah has informed us about them that they will never embrace the truth, it means that it has been predetermined that way, and, therefore, they must be excused for their continued state of disbelief. Rather, it is similar to a doctor pronouncing about a man that he will not recover from an illness, because he is in such an advanced state of the disease. It cannot be said that the lack of recovery is because of the doctor's pronouncement. Rather, it is the fact of the man so fatally affected that evoked the doctor's pronouncement (Thanwi).

    وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَقُولُ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَبِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَمَا هُمْ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ (8)

    2|8| And, among the people23 are some who declare: ‘We believe in Allah and in the Hereafter,' while they are not believers at all.24

    23. With reference to the use of the textual word, "the people"), Qurtubi writes that according to the Sufiya': 'The people is a generic noun, and generic nouns are not employed to speak of the beloved of Allah (awliya' Allah).'

    24. These are the hypocrites. This kind cropped up with the Prophet's migration to Madinah. It was here, after thirteen hard years at Makkah, that by Allah's grace and mercy Islam gained a foothold, and the hearts of the local people were softened for it, who either embraced the message, or adopted a neutral position. Almost no heathen tribe of the city indulged as a whole in active antagonism. Quite early, in fact, the Muslims were able to pacify the surrounding pagan tribes also ‑ some through peace treaties and others with the show of strength and willingness to respond strongly, if provoked. As a result, there was sufficient peace and security in the city and its surroundings to allow the Muslims to carry out their religious duties with freedom. With stability achieved, Madinah was slowly developing into a religious state with the Prophet at its head, and Islam was beginning to emerge as a force to reckon with.
    But there were some in Madinah who did not appreciate these developments. They were encouraged by the Jews. These were the elements of the pagan society that stood to lose something by the growth of Islam; if not anything else, then, their personal influence and popularity. However, during the first few years it was not clear to them as to how the Madinans and the adjoining tribes would respond to the Islamic message, and whether the Makkans would tolerate the growth of a parallel state. It seemed very likely that a power struggle would ensue, but it was unclear as to who would emerge victorious: Islam or paganism. These disaffected elements therefore decided to play a safe game. They were to outwardly profess faith in Islam but try to undermine it secretly: until a clearer situation emerged (Au.).
    Razi says: "These verses were revealed concerning the hypocrites from the people of the Book such as `Abdullah ibn Ubayy b. Sallul, Mu`tab b. Qushayr and Judd b. Qays, who, when they met the faithful assured them of their own faith in Islam saying: 'We find that he (the Prophet) fits the description stated in our holy literature.'"

    Hypocrisy
    Ibn Kathir writes: After the first four verses of this chapter, which describe the believers, and the following two, which describe the unbelievers, Allah Most High now speaks of the hypocrites who profess Islam but conceal disbelief. But, since their case is unclear and confusing to most people, He described them in greater detail speaking at length of the traits that are the signs of hypocrisy. He revealed the chapters al‑Tawbah, and al‑Munafiqun about them; while He also mentioned them in al‑Noor, as well as at many other places, all in order that a Muslim may shun the traits possessed by them, as well as avoid their company.
    As for the definition of nifaq (hypocrisy), it is to manifest good while concealing evil. There are two kinds of it:
    a) Pertaining to belief (i`tiqadi): this kind will entail everlasting stay in Hell; and,
    b) Pertaining to deeds (a`amali) which is the most serious of the Major Sins (akbar al‑kaba'ir). This is because the deeds of a hypocrite contradict his utterances, and his internal state contradicts the external state.
    It is in the Madinan chapters that their characteristics were described because there was no hypocrisy in Makkah. In fact, it was just the opposite there (i.e. people concealed faith and outwardly professed unbelief). Allah Most High described them in detail so that the believers may not be deceived by their appearances, leading to the spread of corruption which would happen if they did not avoid their company, under the impression that they were believers like them. It is a matter of great evil that the corrupt should be allowed to pass as the pious.
    Ibn Kathir's quote ends here.
    As against this universally accepted definition of hypocrisy, a contemporary scholar has stated: "In this phase of development of the Islamic movement, the 'hypocrites', began to emerge. Although the first signs of hypocrisy had appeared during the last phase of the Prophet's life in Makkah, the nature of that hypocrisy was different. The kind of 'hypocrites' found then were those who, while recognizing the truth of Islam and claiming to believe in it, were not prepared to sacrifice their material interests, run the risk of severing the relationship which bound them to others, and who shrank from the persecution and trial which used to afflict all those who responded to the call of Truth."
    This definition, which goes against the Qur'an and hadith, is applicable to those honorable souls whose faith and integrity have not been questioned by anyone before. Foremost among them, upon whom the new definition casts a doubt are `Abbas b. `Abd al Muttalib, the Prophet's uncle, `Ayyash b. Abi Rabi`a, Salamah ibn Hisham, Umm al‑Fadl, the mother of Ibn `Abbas) [Qurtubi], Junayd b. Subai` (according to Ibn Kathir Habib b. Siba`), a few others of the Prophet's own tribe Banu Hashim, as well as many others who concealed their faith at Makkah. The Qur'an says about those who had concealed their faith and remained in Makkah, (i.e., those who did not migrate to Madinah, right up to the sixth year after the Prophet's migration): "Had it not been for certain believing men and women whom you know not, lest you should trample them, and guilt fall on you on their account unwittingly (We would have permitted you to attack the Makkans) ‑ Al‑Fath: 25).
    Thus, we see that the Qur'an calls them believers (mu'minun) and not hypocrites. Ibn Kathir's commentary on this particular verse is: Those are meant who were living among the Makkans but who concealed their faith from them for fear of persecution.
    Moreover, it will be against the Qur'an to call anyone a hypocrite, (of whatever kind), who conceals his faith for fear of hostilities, since the Qur'an has revealed to us without its censure in surah Al‑Mu'min, the story of a court official who concealed his faith from Fir`awn and his people.
    In fact, far from alluding hypocrisy to them, it is the Prophet (saws) himself who had advised many at Makkah to conceal their faith. When Abu Dhar (ra) embraced Islam, the Prophet asked him to return to his tribe and remain with them concealing his faith until Islam commanded power. In case of `Ammar b. Yasir, the Prophet went even further and advised him to conceal faith and utter kufr.
    About `Abbas (ra) and others like him, there is a clear statement of the Prophet which confirms their faith. The Prophet said about `Abbas (ra) just before the start of the first battle of Islam at Badr: "I know about the people of Banu Hashim, as well as some others who have no quarrel with us. They have been forced into this battle. Therefore, if anyone encounters someone from Banu Hashim, let him not kill him. Whoever encounters Al‑Bakhtary b. Hisham, let him not kill him. Whoever encounters `Abbas b. `Abd al Muttalib, let him not kill him." Accordingly, when `Abbas was taken prisoner in the battle and brought before the Prophet, he protested at the ransom fixed for him. He said: "Messenger of Allah, you know that I have been a Muslim." The Prophet replied: "Allah knows the truth of the matter. If you are true in your word, Allah will reward you."
    The Prophet did not reject `Abbas's claim to iman, saying, as he would have, (if the definition of the 'different nature of hypocrisy,' and its application to certain Makkans were to be correct), that `Abbas was not speaking the truth and that his efforts at concealing the faith nullified his claim to Islam. In fact, he confirmed that a man who concealed his faith was a 'Muslim', even if he chose to live among the enemies of Islam, by saying that Allah knew if `Abbas was true in his claim' and that if he was, he would be rewarded for his faith. Of course the Prophet knew him as a Muslim but without `Abbas's own acknowledgement, he would have been speaking on his behalf. True, Allah revealed a verse (4: 97) which reproaches those who did not migrate to Madinah, were forced into the battle at Badr, 'strengthening' as Ibn `Abbas has said, 'the ranks of the enemies of Islam' (Ibn Kathir), and were killed at the hands of the Muslims ‑ although Qurtubi deduces from the way the verse has been phrased that they died as Muslims. In any case, the very next verse there clarifies that in situations where a person cannot migrate because of overwhelming difficulties, there is no sin upon him.
    Sayyid Qutb rightly defends those who concealed their faith in Makkah. Commenting on the verse which was sent down when one of the Companions accompanying a detachment sent by the Prophet fell upon a man in the enemy territory, (and killed him despite the fact that he had greeted them with the Islamic greeting: Qurtubi); he writes: "Allah reminds the believers of the recent days of ignorance, of the rashness and frivolity that prevailed then. He reminds them of His grace by which He cleansed their hearts and guided them to loftier goals, so that they could not think of returning to battles and wars with loot and plunder as their intention, as was their wont in the days of ignorance. He impresses upon them His favor in that He prescribed for them the limits and bounds, and has given them a system (that organizes their affairs). So, let not the final verdict be influenced by the first impulses (of anger), as it used to be during the days of jahiliyyah. The text also throws hints at the fact that they themselves were in the same state some time back ‑ concealing their faith from their enemies, on account of the fear and vulnerability, not making it known except when in peace with the Muslims. This man too, who was killed, used to conceal his faith from his people, but disclosed it to the Muslims by greeting them in the manner of Islamic greeting. Allah said,

    كَذَلِكَ كُنْتُمْ مِنْ قَبْلُ فَمَنَّ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكُمْ  [النساء : 94]

    'So were you aforetime, but Allah has been gracious to you.'"
    Ibn Taymiyyah writes: There was no need for anyone to resort to hypocrisy in Makkah since the Muslims were weak there. On the contrary, there were people who concealed their faith but confessed to iman in their private talks. The scholars have said therefore, including Ahmad b. Hanbal, that there was no hypocrisy in Makkah. Hypocrisy appeared in Madinah. However, there was weakness of faith on the part of some people at Makkah, (which Allah termed as sickness (marad), as stated in a Makkan chapter (74: 31) which said:

    وَلا يَرْتَابَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَلِيَقُولَ الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ وَالْكَافِرُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِهَذَا مَثَلا

    "(So that) no doubt may be left for the people of the Book, and the believers, and those in whose hearts is a disease and the unbelievers may say 'What did Allah intend by this example?'" (Tafsir al-Kabir).
    It was necessary to point out the error in the definition because, on the one side, appearing as it does in a tafsir work, it might sound as having the sanction of Islam, while the fact is that no scholar of any repute is reported to be of the opinion that those in Makkah fitting the new definition were hypocrites. On the other hand, such insidious attacks are likely to create ill feeling for those who are the very criteria of faith. The Prophet has said in a well known hadith of Ibn Majah:
    عَنْ أنَسِ ابْنِ مَالِكِ؛ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولَ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم : إنَّ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ افْتَرَقَتِ عَلَى إِحْدَى وَسَبَعْيِنَ فِرْقَةً. وإِنَّ أُمَّتِي سَتَفْتَرقُ عَلَى ثِنْتَيْنِ وَسَبْعِينَ فِرْقَةً. كُلُّهَا فِي النَّارِ، إلاَّ وَاحِدَةً. وَهَي الْجَمَاعَةُ .
    "The Israelites divided themselves into seventy‑two sects. My ummah will divide itself into seventy‑three. All of them will be in Fire, except one." He was asked: "Which one, O Apostle of Allah?" He said:"The mainstream Muslims" (Au.).

    يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَمَا يَخْدَعُونَ إِلَّا أَنْفُسَهُمْ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ (9)

    2|9| They (would all but) deceive Allah25 and the faithful26. But they deceive not (anyone) but themselves27: although they perceive not.

    25. That is, they think that they will be able to hoodwink Allah as easily as they are able to hoodwink the faithful. Therefore, Allah Most High used the same words for reproaching them, "They deceive not but themselves" (Ibn Kathir).
    In a hadith the Prophet (saws) is reported to have said:

    لا تخادع الله فإنه من يخادع الله يخدعه الله ونفسه يخدع لو يشعر قالوا: يا رسول الله، وكيف يخادع الله؟ قال: تعمل بما أمرك الله به وتطلب به غيره

    "Do not deceive Allah. He who deceives Allah is deceived by Him, and (in fact), deceives himself, only if he knew." He was asked, "How can one deceive Allah?" He replied: "By submitting yourself to one of His commands while seeking to please someone else" (Qurtubi).

    26. The mentioning of the 'faithful' along with the name of 'Allah' indicates that dealing with the beloved of Allah (ahl‑Allah) is like dealing with Allah Himself (Thanwi).

    27. "Their mendacity will recoil upon themselves, both in this world and the Hereafter" (Majid).

    فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ فَزَادَهُمُ اللَّهُ مَرَضًا وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْذِبُونَ (10)

    2|10| In their hearts is a disease28. So Allah caused increase in their disease29. For them is a painful chastisement30, because they used to lie.

    28. The disease, according to Ibn `Abbas, is that of doubts and hypocrisy (Tabari).
    There is an indication in this verse that the hearts also are prone to diseases, as the Sufiya say (Thanwi).
    Yusuf Ali writes: "The disease tends to spread, like all evil. They are curable, but if they harden their hearts, they soon pass into the category of those who deliberately reject light."
    Jesus Christ, on whom be peace, also had his share of hypocrites to deal with. Addressing them he said: "Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel" (Matthew 23: 24). And, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and all uncleanliness" (Ibid 23: 27) ‑ Au.

    29. This happened when against their wishful belief that Islam is a passing wind that will blow for a while and then be gone, and that its banner will only flutter for a brief spell and then it would be all quiet again, they witnessed growth in the power of Islam, and victory after victory coming its way. This increased their envy and hatred toward Islam and weakened their hearts, which became prone to diseases. It could also mean that as Allah revealed more of His guidance, they failed to profit from it, (because of their original disbelief), and thus their hearts only increased in sickness (Zamakhshari, condensed).

    30. They deserve to be doubly punished, because, unlike the ordinary unbelievers who openly announce their disbelief, they try to deceive Allah on one hand and the believers on the other. They try to make the best of both the worlds as well as take advantage of both the believers as well as the non‑believers, through their unique position of being those trusted by both. Their punishment however has been delayed till the Day of Judgment although they, being a dangerous element in the Muslim polity, deserve punishment in this life itself. This deferment of punishment at the hands of the believers is because of the doubt with regard to their faith. It is not possible for the believers to say for sure about any one of them, however manifest his hypocrisy, that true faith does not reside in his heart. They earn therefore, the benefit of doubt and are spared punishment in this world. In the Hereafter however they will receive punishment greater than the ordinary unbelievers.
    The Prophet knew the hypocrites through revelation, and so did some of his Companions by their own judgment. But it was the fear of people alleging that the Prophet was killing his own men, which could adversely affect the cause of Islam, that restrained him from taking measures against them; although, on their part they were bold enough to even attempt at his life. In fact, he was restrained by Allah Himself. He said in a hadith reported by Bukhari and Muslim: "I have been ordered to fight the people, until they say, 'there is no god but Allah.' Once they say that, they save their blood and property from me, except for what they must pay as compensation (when they transgress others in an affair). (As for what they conceal in their hearts), Allah will hold them to account" (Au.).
    Qurtubi writes: The scholars say that believers are of two kinds: one whom Allah loves and befriends, and the other whom He does not love and does not befriend. Indeed, He detests him and treats him as His enemy. He loves and befriends everyone about whom He knows he will die on faith. And He hates and is angry with everyone who He knows will die on disbelief ‑ not because of his present state, but because of the disbelief on which he will die. Again, the unbelievers are also of two kinds: one who will be punished at all events, and the other who will not be punished. He who will be punished is the one who died on disbelief. Allah detests him and is angry with him. In contrast, he who would not be punished is the one who died on good faith. Allah does not detest him nor is angry with him, rather loves him and will befriend him. It is not right therefore to say that 'so and so ‑ a believer ‑ will be rewarded,' or, 'so and so ‑ an unbeliever ‑ will be punished.' Rather, both the statements should be made conditional to the situation at death. Accordingly, we say: Allah was not angry with `Umar (the second caliph), even when he was a pagan, and was intending to reward him with Paradise, not because of his idol worship, but because of the belief on which he was going to die. And we also say that Allah was angry with Iblis even when he was worshipping Allah, because of the disbelief on which he was going to die.

    وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لَا تُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ (11)

    2|11| When they are told, ‘Spread not corruption in the land,'31 they say, ‘(Quite the opposite), it is we indeed (who are) improving the things.32

    31. Corruption in the earth is 'disbelief and un‑Islamic living.' Abu al‑`Aliyyah has commented: 'Do not disobey Allah. Whoever disobeyed Allah on earth, or enforced it (upon others), corrupted the lands. Proper development and improvement of the earth and its environment lies in obedience of Allah' (Ibn Kathir).

    32. Ibn `Abbas has said: What they meant is, (from this unique position) we are working at reconciliation between the two groups: Muslims and the people of the Book (Ibn Kathir).

    أَلَا إِنَّهُمْ هُمُ الْمُفْسِدُونَ وَلَكِنْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ (12)

    2|12| Lo! They in fact are the corrupters, but they realize not.33

    33. "Much mischief is caused (sometimes unwittingly) by people who think that they have a mission of peace, when they have not even a true perception of right and wrong. By their blind arrogance they depress the good and encourage the evil" (Yusuf Ali).

    وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ آمِنُوا كَمَا آمَنَ النَّاسُ قَالُوا أَنُؤْمِنُ كَمَا آمَنَ السُّفَهَاءُ أَلَا إِنَّهُمْ هُمُ السُّفَهَاءُ وَلَكِنْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (13)

    2|13| When they are told, ‘Believe as the people have believed34 (in sincerity),' they say, ‘Shall we believe as the fools have believed?'35 Truly, they are the foolish ones, but they realize not.

    34. By the textual term 'the people' the allusion is to the Companions of the Prophet ‑ Ibn `Abbas and others (Ibn Kathir).
    This implies that the Companions are a criterion for all those who will follow them in Islam. They can measure their faith and deeds against those of the Companions... Merely praying with the Muslims, and paying zakah, and other such deeds, do not make a man Muslim if his faith does not conform with that of the Companions (Ma`arif).
    One possible reason why (the generic noun) the people has been used is to say that if there are any people worth calling people, it is the believers. The unbelievers, because of their disability to discern between the right and wrong, are like animals (Kashshaf).

    35. That is, when the hypocrites were told by the Muslims to believe in Allah, His angels, revelations, messengers, resurrection and reckoning, Heaven and Hell, and all that the rest of the believers were told to have faith in, and do as they were ordered by Allah and His Messenger, they said in reply, 'Shall we believe as the fools have believed?' ‑ by which the allusion was to followers of the Prophet (Ibn Kathir).
    "Another instance of the hypocrites' muddled thinking, and queer morals: First they mistook vice for virtue (vide verse 11) and now they are mistaking virtue for vice" (Thanwi, Majid's tr.).

    وَإِذَا لَقُوا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قَالُوا آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوْا إِلَى شَيَاطِينِهِمْ قَالُوا إِنَّا مَعَكُمْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُسْتَهْزِئُونَ (14)

    2|14| When they come across the faithful, they assert, ‘We (also) believe (like you have believed).' But when they are alone with their evil ones36 they assure them, ‘We are with you, we were only mocking.'

    36. Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and others have said that it is the arch‑infidels, the leading hypocrites and others of their sort that have been alluded to (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Majid quotes from Lane: "Shaytan if not preceded by the definite article al, signifies `Any that is excessively, or inordinately, proud or corrupt or unbelieving or rebellious, or that is insolent and audacious in pride and in acts of rebellion.'"

    اللَّهُ يَسْتَهْزِئُ بِهِمْ وَيَمُدُّهُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ (15)

    2|15| Allah (indeed) is mocking with them37 (by) letting them wander on (blindly) in their insolence.

    37. The words, "Allah is mocking with them," draw the following commentary from In Jarir: The question arises as to how exactly will Allah mock at them? The answer is, it will be done in the manner described elsewhere (57: 13‑15):

    يَوْمَ يَقُولُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتُ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا انْظُرُونَا نَقْتَبِسْ مِنْ نُورِكُمْ قِيلَ ارْجِعُوا وَرَاءَكُمْ فَالْتَمِسُوا نُورًا فَضُرِبَ بَيْنَهُمْ بِسُورٍ لَهُ بَابٌ بَاطِنُهُ فِيهِ الرَّحْمَةُ وَظَاهِرُهُ مِنْ قِبَلِهِ الْعَذَابُ (13) يُنَادُونَهُمْ أَلَمْ نَكُنْ مَعَكُمْ قَالُوا بَلَى وَلَكِنَّكُمْ فَتَنْتُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَتَرَبَّصْتُمْ وَارْتَبْتُمْ وَغَرَّتْكُمُ الْأَمَانِيُّ حَتَّى جَاءَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ وَغَرَّكُمْ بِاللَّهِ الْغَرُورُ (14) فَالْيَوْمَ لَا يُؤْخَذُ مِنْكُمْ فِدْيَةٌ وَلَا مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مَأْوَاكُمُ النَّارُ هِيَ مَوْلَاكُمْ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ [الحديد : 13 - 15]

    "On the day when the hypocrites, men and women, will say to those who had believed, `Wait for us, so that we may borrow from your light!' It will be said, `Go back behind you, and seek for a light.' But (as they attempt that), a wall will be placed between them with a door in the inward whereof is mercy, but the outward whereof is chastisement. They (who will remain outside) will call them (i.e. the believers), `Were we not with you?' They will reply, `Yes indeed; but you tempted yourselves, and you waited, and were in doubt; and fancies deluded you, until Allah's commandment came. The Deluder (Satan) deluded you concerning Allah. Today no ransom shall be accepted from you, nor from those who disbelieved. Your refuge is the Fire, it is your companion (now); an evil homecoming!'"
    A second interpretation is that while employing the same expression, He has alluded to two different meanings. For example, He said at another place (4: 142):

    إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ

    'The hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, the while it is He who will be deceiving them', where, what is meant is that it is they who will reap the consequences of their deceptive behavior.
    To take another example, Allah said (42: 40):

    وَجَزَاءُ سَيِّئَةٍ سَيِّئَةٌ مِثْلُهَا

    'The requital of evil is evil ‑ the like of it.' But we know that when a sin is committed against Allah, it is an evil, while when the requital comes from Him it is justice. Thus, the expressions are common, but their meanings are different.
    To take another example, Allah (swt) said (2: 192):

    فَمَنِ اعْتَدَى عَلَيْكُمْ فَاعْتَدُوا عَلَيْهِ

     'If someone commits a wrong against you, you are (allowed to) commit a wrong against him of equal magnitude.' It will be seen here that the expressions are same but the meanings differ, for, when a man commits a wrong against another, it is injustice, but when he is punished for it then the punishment is the administration of justice (Ibn Jarir, condensed).
    Another interpretation by Ibn `Abbas, as reported by Qurtubi and Kashshaf is: "A door will be opened between Hell and Paradise and the hypocrites will be invited to come in. They will begin to move toward the door. When they reach the door, it will be shut in their faces. The believers, reclining on their couches in Paradise, will laugh at them. This is what alluded to when Allah said (83: 34‑36):

    فَالْيَوْمَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مِنَ الْكُفَّارِ يَضْحَكُونَ. عَلَى الأَرَائِكِ يَنظُرُونَ. هَلْ ثُوِّبَ الْكُفَّارُ مَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ

    'So, today the believers are laughing at the unbelievers, upon couches, looking (down on them). Have the unbelievers been rewarded for what they were doing?'"
    Alusi states through a reliable source that an exit from Hell will be opened and a hypocrite will be urged: "Come on, come on." The man will make a great effort to move toward it because of injuries, pain and suffering. But when he reaches the door, it will be shut in his face. Then another door will be opened from which he will be invited. He will again drag himself toward it in great pain and injury. But as he nears, the door will be shut. A third one will be opened. This will go on until the hypocrite will not respond to the call."
    Majid adds: "For the Biblical use of mockery and laughter in reference to God, compare the following:‑ `Ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof. I also will laugh at your calamity: I will mock when your fear cometh.'

    أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُا الضَّلَالَةَ بِالْهُدَى فَمَا رَبِحَتْ تِجَارَتُهُمْ وَمَا كَانُوا مُهْتَدِينَ (16)

    2|16| These are the ones who have bought error at the price of guidance.38 Their barter profited them not,39 and they were not rightly guided.

    38. "By the deliberate choice of the path of error, guilt and impiety" (Majid).
    According to Ibn `Abbas and Ibn Mas`ud, "they chose error and abandoned right guidance" (Ibn Jarir). That is, they chose error and misguidance, so right guidance was held back from them.
    Ibn Jarir also reports Qatadah as saying: By Allah, you have seen that they abandoned guidance and fell into error, abandoned the ummah and fell with the dissenters, came out of peace and went into fear, and abandoned the Sunnah and committed bid`ah.

    39. "A deeper phase of insincerity is actual duplicity. But it never pays in the end. If we compare such a man to a trader, he loses in the bargain" (Yusuf Ali).

    مَثَلُهُمْ كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي اسْتَوْقَدَ نَارًا فَلَمَّا أَضَاءَتْ مَا حَوْلَهُ ذَهَبَ اللَّهُ بِنُورِهِمْ وَتَرَكَهُمْ فِي ظُلُمَاتٍ لَا يُبْصِرُونَ (17)

    2|17| The likeness of them is as the likeness of him who kindled a fire. When it had lit all about him, Allah took away their light and left them in darknesses, unable to perceive.40

    40. Several interpretations of the verse have come down to us from Ibn `Abbas and others, two of which are as follows. For ease of understanding, we shall first take up the first two verses together (17 and 18) and then its parts. Ibn Jarir is the source:
    a) The hypocrites perceived the light of Islam, acknowledged its truth, until they came out of the darkness of disbelief. But they put off that light by acting in disbelief and hypocrisy. Consequently, Allah left them in the darkness of disbelief so that they lost the ability to perceive the right path (Ibn `Abbas and others).
    b) The hypocrite declared his faith in Islam by uttering the words: "There is no deity save Allah." With that the world became lit for him. With time, it grew very large ‑ Muslims intermarrying with him because of his declaration of faith, visiting him during his illness, he inheriting the Muslims or they inheriting him and so forth. Thus he saved himself and his world with the help of his utterance. But, with his death the utterance was taken away from him because he did not believe in it truly, nor did he know of its truth in his heart (Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah).
    As for the "light," Mujahid says it is what the hypocrite sees (of the truth of Islam) by virtue of his being in the company of the believers, and "darkness," what he (misses to see of it) when he seeks the company of unbelievers.
    Explaining the same terms "light" and "darkness" Rabi` bin Anas has said, Whenever the hypocrite speaks of Islam with sincerity, he sees the light, but when he is beset by doubts, darkness settles on him (Ibn Jarir).

    صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لَا يَرْجِعُونَ (18)

    2|18| Deaf, dumb, and blind (they are);41 so they will not return.42

    41. That is, it is to the truth that they are deaf, dumb and blind. They can neither hear it being described, make inquiries about it because of their dumbness, nor can they perceive it if shown because of their blindness (Alusi). Shanqiti supports this view by quoting another verse (46: 26):

     وَجَعَلْنَا لَهُمْ سَمْعًا وَأَبْصَارًا وَأَفْئِدَةً فَمَا أَغْنَى عَنْهُمْ سَمْعُهُمْ وَلا أَبْصَارُهُمْ وَلا أَفْئِدَتُهُم مِّن شَيْءٍ إِذْ كَانُوا يَجْحَدُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ

    "We appointed for them hearing, and sight, and hearts; and yet their hearing, their sight and their hearts availed them nothing, because they denied the signs of Allah."

    42. That is, they will not return to Islam (Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Abu Murra and others ‑ Ibn Jarir).
    Razi says about the two verses 17 and 18: The parable fits the situation very well, for they first earned the 'light' with their belief, and then lost it because of their disbelief, falling into a state of utter bewilderment ‑ "utter," because there is no bewilderment that is more confounding than that experienced in religious matters.
    Commenting upon the words "the likeness of him who kindled a fire" in which the singular form is used ('him' as against the plural in "Allah took away 'their' light"), Thanwi says that it is because normally it is one man who kindles a fire. It is when it lights up the surrounding that other people gather around it.
    Majid quotes Shah `Abd al Qadir as of the opinion that the one who lighted the fire was the Prophet.
    Commenting upon the term "their light" (in the verse 'Allah took away their light'), Thanwi says Allah put it that way because there are others on the same path for whom the path remains illuminated. It is only hypocrites who lost the perception (Tibyan and Bayan).
    Alusi has another point with regard to the "lightning" and the "darkness." He quotes his Sufi masters as saying that these verses are also applicable to those who follow the sufistic ways ‑ but as mere followers (muqallidun), and not as those who investigate the truth (muhaqqiqun). They simply adopt certain "appearances" and therefore do not taste the sweetness, nor get the feeling in the heart that they should. Ultimately, they give up in despair.
    Ibn Qayyim comments: Note the words: "Allah took away their light." Allah used the word noor when saying He took away their light, whereas He used the word naar when saying "the likeness of him who kindled a fire....." (Why did He say "naar" at the beginning and changed it to "noor" later)? It is because nar (fire) consists of two elements: (1) Noor (light) and (2) Heat. Now, He took away the noor. So, what remained? Only heat! Also, note that Allah Most High has called His Book (the Qur'an) a noor, His Prophet a noor, His religion a noor, one of His own names as Al‑Noor, and the salah (Prayers) a noor. Consider, if He took away the noor, He took away all" (condensed).
    Another tafsir of the words: "They press their fingers in their ears" that has come from some Companions (Qurtubi), is that they press their fingers in their ears for fear of the Qur'an entering their heads and influencing them.

    أَوْ كَصَيِّبٍ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فِيهِ ظُلُمَاتٌ وَرَعْدٌ وَبَرْقٌ يَجْعَلُونَ أَصَابِعَهُمْ فِي آذَانِهِمْ مِنَ الصَّوَاعِقِ حَذَرَ الْمَوْتِ وَاللَّهُ مُحِيطٌ بِالْكَافِرِينَ (19)

    2|19| Or, like a violent cloudburst out of heaven in which is darkness, thunder and lightning. They press their fingers in their ears against the thunderclaps, in terror of death. But Allah has encompassed the unbelievers.43

    43. Verses 17 and 18 describe one kind of hypocrites: the one that believed and then changed the mind and went back to kufr. Verses 19 and 20 describe the other kind that has not been able to make up its mind. This kind is neither here nor there, neither believers nor unbelievers.
    Majid writes: "The Madinan hypocrites were of two kinds. One of them were rejecters of faith outright and only managed to disguise their views and beliefs. The parable in the vv. 17‑18 refers to this class of dissemblers. The other class was not so definite in its rejection of the faith. They wavered, swinging to and fro, like modern 'skeptics.' They are the subject of the parable in the vv. 19‑20."
    After presenting various opinions of the Companions and their Followers, Ibn Jarir says that the "violent outburst" (sayyib of verse 19) is the example of what the hypocrites evinced ‑ of belief in Islam and whatever the Prophet (saws) told them as coming from Allah. The "darkness" (zulumat) refers to the doubts, denial and sickness of the heart. As for the "thunder" and "lightning" (ra`d and barq), it is the description of their situation of fear of the Divine threats that they heard from the Prophet as going to befall those who deny ‑ true fear of it ‑ but with strains of doubt: whether it was true or not, whether it was really going to happen or not. Therefore, when they heard of the threats they tried to ignore them and pretend that they had not heard: which has been described in the words, "they press their fingers in their ears in terror of death." That is, theirs was a mixed situation of true belief, doubts thereof, accompanied by the fear of Allah's retribution descending upon them on a sudden. But (since the fear did not rest on a powerful belief), they tried to brush it away from their minds but could not.
    Some other commentators believe however that it is "iman" and Islam that have been alluded to by the words "violent outburst." As for the words "darkness, thunder and lightning," the allusion is to those injunctions of Islam that were hard upon the hypocrites such as: salah, fasting, foregoing of leadership, the struggle against one's unbelieving dear ones, etc. (Razi).

    يَكَادُ الْبَرْقُ يَخْطَفُ أَبْصَارَهُمْ ۖ كُلَّمَا أَضَاءَ لَهُمْ مَشَوْا فِيهِ وَإِذَا أَظْلَمَ عَلَيْهِمْ قَامُوا ۚ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَذَهَبَ بِسَمْعِهِمْ وَأَبْصَارِهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ (20)

    2|20| The lightning well nigh snatches away their sight. Whenever it lights up their surrounding they advance therein, but when it throws darkness over them, they halt.44 Had Allah willed, He could have taken away their hearing, and their sight.45 Indeed Allah has power over everything.46

    44. After quoting several authorities, what Ibn Jarir has to say can be summarized in the following manner: "The 'lightning' (barq) of the verse refers to the faith of the hypocrites in Islam: a faith which was adulterated with doubts and skepticism. It bedazzles them whenever it burst forth, a situation that has been described in the words: 'It all but snatches away their sight.' It is a graphic description of what they witnessed of the victories of Islam in the battlefields. Those victories resulted in the spoils of war pouring in. That vastly increased the prosperity of the Muslims. Peace and security also followed. When those things happened, the hypocrites began to walk in their light. Those events as if 'lit up their surroundings.' The words 'start to walk' refer to their taking up Islam in earnest. But, when 'it throws darkness upon them,' that is, when the events were not so bright and encouraging, or, when they found that their allegiance to Islam was not paying them, or a personal misfortune struck them, then their doubts resurfaced, and they fell back on their disbelief which they had carried with them all along. This attitude of belief and obedience to the demands of Islam, when it met with victories, and of doubts, disbelief and abandoning of its ordinances, when it did not, has been described by the Qur'an elsewhere in the following words (22: 11):

    وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ عَلَى حَرْفٍ فَإِنْ أَصَابَهُ خَيْرٌ اطْمَأَنَّ بِهِ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ فِتْنَةٌ انْقَلَبَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ [الحج/11]

    "Among men there is such a one as serves Allah upon the very edge. If good befalls him, he is at rest in it, but if a trial befalls him, he turns completely over."
    Commenting on the words: "Whenever it lights up their surroundings they advance therein, but when it throws darkness over them, they halt," Ibn Kathir writes: Whenever their faith gets activated, they feel themselves well disposed to Islam and begin to follow its dictates in earnest. But when doubts attack them, their hearts get darkened, leaving them stagnated in bewilderment." In this connection he quotes Ibn `Abbas as saying, "That is how they will be on the Day of Judgment, when everybody will be given his light (noor) in accordance with his faith. There will be some who will receive light which will reach the distance of a mile for him, or less, or more. There will be others whose light will alternatively go on and off. There will be some others on the Bridge (sirat) who will move in kind of fits and starts (because of their poor light); while there will be some whose light will be completely off. These will be the pure hypocrites who had not a grain of faith in their hearts. It is about them that Allah Most High said at another place (57: 13):

    يَوْمَ يَقُولُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتُ لِلَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا انْظُرُونَا نَقْتَبِسْ مِنْ نُورِكُمْ قِيلَ ارْجِعُوا وَرَاءَكُمْ فَالْتَمِسُوا نُورًا

    "On the day when the hypocrites, men and women, shall say to those who have believed, 'Wait for us, so that we may borrow your light!' It shall be said, 'Get back to your rear, and seek for a light (there).'" In contrast, the believers will be given their light in full, as described in the verse (57: 12):

    يَوْمَ تَرَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَسْعَى نُورُهُمْ بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَبِأَيْمَانِهِمْ بُشْرَاكُمُ الْيَوْمَ

    "On the day when you will see the believers, men and women, their light running before them, and on their right hands. (It will be said), 'Glad tidings for you today!'"

    45. And left them in total blindness. But He is giving them respite in order that they may correct themselves.

    46. قَدير (Qadeer), translated as "One who has power over everything," draws the following comment from Majid: "Qadeer and Qaadir ( قادر ) may signify the same Possessing power, or ability... (But) Qadir has an intensive signification, and 'signifies he who does what he wills, according to what wisdom requires, not more nor less; and therefore this epithet is applied to none but God' (Lane's Lexicon).

    يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ (21)

    2|21| O People!47 Serve48 your Lord Who created49 you and those who went before you, haply so that you may save yourselves.50

    47. "Note that the Qur'an says "O people," and not "O Muslims." "The message of the Qur'an is addressed to the whole of mankind, not to any section of it, conditioned by race, color or country. The components of this Message are a belief in the unity of God, and a belief in the messengership of Muhammad (on him be peace!). And these two grand and central truths are now formally presented in this verse and the three succeeding verses. To believe in Him and His unity the Holy Qur'an commands us as well as persuades us. In this verse are elements both of command and persuasion happily blended" (Majid).

    48. I.e., address to Him alone all your acts of worship and obedience (Ibn `Abbas as interpreted by Tabari). Qurtubi says it means "to believe in the Oneness of Allah and to live by the Shari`ah;" hence, the rendering as "serve" rather than worship. "Included in this command, 'u`budu are: faith in (the existence of) Allah, belief in His Oneness and His obedience "faith" for him who argues against Allah, "Oneness" for him who associates others with Allah, and "obedience" for the believers" (i.e., the atheists, the polytheist and the monotheists have all been addressed) Tas heel.

    49. That is, He created you "(out of nothing, and not simply evolved you out of something pre existing). Nor has man, as claimed by pantheists, emanated from God. `Creation' negates all other forms of production" (Majid).

    50. That is, save yourself from the anger and wrath of your Lord (Ibn Jarir).

    الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْأَرْضَ فِرَاشًا وَالسَّمَاءَ بِنَاءً وَأَنْزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَخْرَجَ بِهِ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ رِزْقًا لَكُمْ ۖ فَلَا تَجْعَلُوا لِلَّهِ أَنْدَادًا وَأَنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (22)

    2|22| (Serve Him) Who assigned to you the earth51 for a resting place, and the heaven for a canopy,52 and sent down water out of the heaven,53 wherewith He brought forth fruits for your sustenance.54 Assign not, therefore, compeers to Allah,55 while you know.

    51. "So it is man for whose benefit earth is created and not vice versa. The very idea of man bowing before an 'earth god' is monstrous" (Majid).

    52. Firaash is a resting place (Qatadah: Ibn Jarir). Says Majid: "...literally a thing that is spread upon the ground...Whatever its exact form and figure, this description of the earth, that it is for all living creatures a huge something to walk upon, to stand upon, to sit upon, or to lie upon, is an ideal one, which we all can admire, but none can improve."
    In answer to the question, whether this disproves the claim that the earth is round and not flat, Zamakhshari (d.538 A.H.) says there is neither affirmation nor rejection of either in this verse. All that the Qur'an is saying is that Allah has made it a place on which man can rest.
    Canopy: What better way can there be of describing the atmosphere that envelops the earth, shielding it from the bombardment of hundreds and thousands of small and big meteorites, which burn at impact, than to say it is a canopy? Without this roof over our heads, the millions of tons of space debris would have made life impossible on earth.
    Further, with its ozone layer, this protective roof prevents the entry of ultraviolet rays, which, if they were to penetrate in unrestricted quantities, would destroy all life on earth (Au.).

    53. By this second heaven in this verse the allusion is to the clouds (Ibn Kathir). The heaven has been called heaven because of it being high and lofty. In Arabic, everything that is high and lofty is called samaa'. Hence, the roof of a building is its heaven. The Prophet has said: "The sky is stretched over the earth like a canopy, and therefore it is the earth's roof" (Ibn Jarir).
    Ibn Kathir quotes another verse from the Qur'an (21: 32):

    وَجَعَلْنَا السَّمَاءَ سَقْفًا مَحْفُوظًا وَهُمْ عَنْ آَيَاتِهَا مُعْرِضُونَ

    "We set up the heaven as a roof well protected, yet they (the unbelievers) are turning away from Our signs."

    54. "The Qur'an .. is in no sense a text book of the ever changing physical and geographical sciences, and even incidentally makes no mention of astronomical or geographical facts. Various phenomena of nature, as they appear to an average layman, clear of scientific bias one way or the other, it only brings in to establish, strengthen and illustrate its central theme the undivided and indivisible Sovereignty of the Lord God and to uproot the divinity of all minor `gods,' such as corn god, fruit god, etc." (Majid).
    Majid was not unaware of course, that the Qur'an has thrown hints at many scientific truths that were to come to light centuries later. He could not have been unaware also, that although the Qur'an was revealed at a time when man was still groping in the dark, it does not contain a single idea that is contradictory to a proven scientific fact. (See his preface to the Urdu version). What he meant by the above is that the Qur'an is not a book of science per se (Au.).

    55. That is, do not suggest and accept equals, rivals or compeers from among the creations of Allah in whose obedience you disobey your Lord: Ibn `Abbas and others. `Ikrimah has said: Do not say things such as, for example: "had it not been for our dog, the thief would have broken in last night" (Ibn Jarir).
    Allah's Compeers
    Asad remarks: "There is full agreement among all commentators that this term (nudd, pl.: andad) implies any object of adoration to which some or all of God's qualities are ascribed, whether it be conceived a deity 'in its own right' or a saint supposedly possessing certain divine or semi divine powers."
    Yusuf Ali comments: "The false gods (andad) may be idols, superstitions, Self, or even great or glorious things like Poetry, Art, or Science, when set up as rivals to God."
    Ibn Kathir quotes a number of ahadith here. Ibn Mas`ud narrates:

    عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ قَالَ سَأَلْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَيُّ الذَّنْبِ أَعْظَمُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ قَالَ أَنْ تَجْعَلَ لِلَّهِ نِدًّا وَهُوَ خَلَقَكَ.‏

    "I asked the Prophet (on whom be peace), 'What sin is the greatest in the sight of Allah, O Prophet?' He replied, 'That you should set up compeers to Allah while He (alone) created you'" (Bukhari, Muslim).
    In the hadith (of Bukhari) narrated by Mu`adh (ra), the Prophet asked him,

    قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَا مُعَاذُ أَتَدْرِي مَا حَقُّ اللَّهِ عَلَى الْعِبَادِ قَالَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَعْلَمُ قَالَ أَنْ يَعْبُدُوهُ وَلا يُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا

    "Do you know what is Allah's right over His slaves?" (Then he himself added), "That they should worship Him alone and not associate others with Him."
    In another hadith (of Ibn Majah) the Prophet (saws) said:

    "لا يقولنَّ أحدكم ما شاء اللّه وشاء فلان ولكن ليقل ما شاء اللّه ثم شاء فلان".

    "Let not one of you say: 'What Allah wills and so and so wills (will happen).' Rather say: 'What Allah wills, and after Him so and so wills.'
    In another hadith preserved by Nasa'i, and Ibn Majah, Ibn `Abbas reports that once a man said before the Prophet:

    ما شاء اللّه وشئت، فقال: "أجعلتني لله نِدّاً؟ قل ما شاء اللّه وحده" (أخرجه النسائي وابن ماجة).

    "What Allah wills and you will." The Prophet corrected him: "Have you set me up as a compeer to Allah? Rather say: 'What Allah wills.'"
    Ibn Kathir also presents the following hadith from Ahmad (which is also in Tirmidhi who declared it Hasan Sahih):

    عَنِ الْحَارِثِ الأَشْعَرِىِّ أَنَّ نَبِىَّ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قَالَ « إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَمَرَ يَحْيَى بْنَ زَكَرِيَّا عَلَيْهِمَا السَّلاَمُ بِخَمْسِ كَلِمَاتٍ أَنْ يَعْمَلَ بِهِنَّ وَأَنْ يَأْمُرَ بَنِى إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنْ يَعْمَلُوا بِهِنَّ وَكَادَ أَنْ يُبْطِئَ فَقَالَ لَهُ عِيسَى إِنَّكَ قَدْ أُمِرْتَ بِخَمْسِ كَلِمَاتٍ أَنْ تَعْمَلَ بِهِنَّ وَتَأْمُرَ بَنِى إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنْ يَعْمَلُوا بِهِنَّ فَإِمَّا أَنْ تُبَلِّغَهُنَّ وَإِمَّا أَنْ أُبَلِّغَهُنَّ. فَقَالَ يَا أَخِى إِنِّى أَخْشَى إِنْ سَبَقْتَنِى أَنْ أُعَذَّبَ أَوْ يُخْسَفَ بِى . قَالَ فَجَمَعَ يَحْيَى بَنِى إِسْرَائِيلَ فِى بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ حَتَّى امْتَلأَ الْمَسْجِدُ فَقُعِدَ عَلَى الشُّرَفِ فَحَمِدَ اللَّهَ وَأَثْنَى عَلَيْهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَمَرَنِى بِخَمْسِ كَلِمَاتٍ أَنْ أَعْمَلَ بِهِنَّ وَآمُرَكُمْ أَنْ تَعْمَلُوا بِهِنَّ أَوَّلُهُنَّ أَنْ تَعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ لاَ تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئاً فَإِنَّ مَثَلَ ذَلِكَ مَثَلُ رَجُلٍ اشْتَرَى عَبْداً مِنْ خَالِصِ مَالِهِ بِوَرِقٍ أَوْ ذَهَبٍ فَجَعَلَ يَعْمَلُ وَيُؤَدِّى غَلَّتَهُ إِلَى غَيْرِ سَيِّدِهِ فَأَيُّكُمْ سَرَّهُ أَنْ يَكُونَ عَبْدُهُ كَذَلِكَ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ خَلَقَكُمْ وَرَزَقَكُمْ فَاعْبُدُوهُ وَلاَ تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئاً وَآمُرُكُمْ بِالصَّلاَةِ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَنْصِبُ وَجْهَهُ لِوَجْهِ عَبْدِهِ مَا لَمْ يَلْتَفِتْ فَإِذَا صَلَّيْتُمْ فَلاَ تَلْتَفِتُوا وَآمُرُكُمْ بِالصِّيَامِ فَإِنَّ مَثَلَ ذَلِكَ كَمَثَلِ رَجُلٍ مَعَهُ صُرَّةٌ مِنْ مِسْكٍ فِى عِصَابَةٍ كُلُّهُمْ يَجِدُ رِيحَ الْمِسْكِ وَإِنَّ خُلُوفَ فَمِ الصِّائِمِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَطْيَبُ مِنْ رِيحِ الْمِسْكِ وَآمُرُكُمْ بِالصَّدَقَةِ فَإِنَّ مَثَلَ ذَلِكَ كَمَثَلِ رَجُلٍ أَسَرَهُ الْعَدُوُّ فَشَدُّوا يَدَيْهِ إِلَى عُنُقِهِ وَقَدَّمُوهُ لِيَضْرِبُوا عُنُقَهُ فَقَالَ هَلْ لَكُمْ أَنْ أَفْتَدِىَ نَفْسِى مِنْكُمْ فَجَعَلَ يَفْتَدِى نَفْسَهُ مِنْهُمْ بِالْقَلِيلِ وَالْكَثِيرِ حَتَّى فَكَّ نَفْسَهُ وَآمُرُكُمْ بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ كَثِيراً وَإِنَّ مَثَلَ ذَلِكَ كَمَثَلِ رَجُلٍ طَلَبَهُ الْعَدُوُّ سِرَاعاً فِى أَثَرِهِ فَأَتَى حِصْناً حَصِيناً فَتَحَصَّنَ فِيهِ وَإِنَّ الْعَبْدَ أَحْصَنُ مَا يَكُونُ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ إِذَا كَانَ فِى ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ.

    Al Harith al Ash`ari says the Prophet said: "Allah ordered Yahya the son of Zackariyya, (asws, John the Baptist of the Bible), five things that he was to practice himself, and enjoin the Israelites the same. `Isa (asws), felt that Yahya (asws) was procrastinating and so he said, 'Look, you have been asked by Allah to practice five things and enjoin the Israelites the same. Now either you do it yourself, or I will present them to the people.' Yahya replied: 'Brother! I am afraid that if you did it, I will be punished or the earth will swallow me.' So Yahya gathered the Israelites in Bayt al Maqdis. When the house was full, he rose up to the pulpit and addressed them. He first thanked and glorified Allah. Then he said: 'Allah has ordered me to observe these five things and instructed you to do the same. The first of them is that you should worship Allah alone, associating none with Him. The example of a man (who associated with God) is like someone who purchased a slave with his money in gold or silver. But the slave began to work and deposit his earnings with someone else. Which of you will be pleased with a slave of this sort? Allah has created you, and nourishes you, therefore, serve Him, associating none with Him. (Second), He orders you to be attentive in Prayers, for Allah pays attention to a man in his Prayers so long as the man does not divert his attention from Allah. Therefore, do not divert your attention from Allah during your Prayers. (Third), He orders you to fast, for he who fasts is like a man who carries a bag full of musk to a people. Everyone is refreshed by the fragrance that spreads. Indeed, the smell of the fasting man's mouth is better with Allah than the fragrance of musk. (Fourth), He orders you to give in charity. The example of a man who gives in charity is like him who has been captured by a people. They handcuff him and are ready to behead him when the man cries out, 'Will you release me if I ransom myself?' (They agree) and he ransoms himself with a little here and a little there until he frees himself. (And fifth), He orders you to remember Him often; for he who remembers Allah often is like a man who was being given a hot chase by his enemy. (To his good luck) he found a fort and took refuge in it. A man is the safest against Satan, when he is in the remembrance of Allah.'

    قَالَ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « وَأَنَا آمُرُكُمْ بِخَمْسٍ اللَّهُ أَمَرَنِى بِهِنَّ بِالْجَمَاعَةِ وَالسَّمْعِ وَالطَاعَةِ وَالْهِجْرَةِ وَالْجِهَادِ فِى سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهُ مَنْ خَرَجَ مِنَ الْجَمَاعَةِ قِيدَ شِبْرٍ فَقَدْ خَلَعَ رِبْقَةَ الإِسْلاَمِ مِنْ عُنُقِهِ إِلاَّ أَنْ يَرْجِعَ وَمَنْ دَعَا بِدَعْوَى الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ فَهُوَ مِنْ جُثَاءِ جَهَنَّمَ ». قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَإِنْ صَامَ وَإِنْ صَلَّى قَالَ « وَإِنْ صَامَ وَصَلَّى وَزَعَمَ أَنَّهُ مُسْلِمٌ فَادْعُوا الْمُسْلِمِينَ بِأَسْمَائِهِمْ بِمَا سَمَّاهُمُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عِبَادَ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ »

    "(Al Harith al Ash`ari, the narrator) says the Prophet then added: 'I also enjoin you five things that Allah has ordered me: (i) Hold fast unto the jama`ah, (ii) listen, (iii) obey, (iv) hijrah and (v) Jihad; for whoever parted company with the jama`ah by as much as the span of a hand, threw the noose of Islam off his neck....until he returns (to the fold of the ummah). Whoever invited the people to any of the pre Islamic practices will be a carcass in Hell fire.' The people asked, 'Messenger of Allah, what if he prayed and fasted?' He replied: 'Even if he prayed, fasted and claimed that he is a Muslim. Therefore, call the believers by the name Allah has chosen for them al Muslimun or believers servants of Allah.'"
    (Ibn Kathir evaluates this report as hasan.
    Qurtubi adds that with this verse Allah has liberated man from all other creations. Hence the Prophet's words (as in Bukhari):

    وَالَّذِى نَفْسِى بِيَدِهِ لأَنْ يَأْخُذَ أَحَدُكُمْ حَبْلَهُ فَيَحْتَطِبَ عَلَى ظَهْرِهِ خَيْرٌ لَهُ مِنْ أَنْ يَأْتِىَ رَجُلاً ، فَيَسْأَلَهُ ، أَعْطَاهُ أَوْ مَنَعَهُ

    "By Him in whose hands is my life, that one of you should carry his rope and tie a pack of wood on his back is better than that he should go to a man and ask begs (someone) who might or might not give him." Qurtubi also reports the Sufiya as saying that by this verse Allah teaches us the way to abstinence which is to treat the earth as the resting place, the heaven as the roof, water and pasture as the means of livelihood, and never bow down before anyone of the creations of Allah for worldly reasons; for Allah has bestowed on you in abundance what is enough for your sustenance and without you having to be obliged to anyone in the world.

    وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَىٰ عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِنْ مِثْلِهِ وَادْعُوا شُهَدَاءَكُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ (23)

    2|23| And, if you are in any doubt concerning what We have sent down on Our servant, then produce a piece equal to it.56 And call (to your aid) your witnesses57 apart from Allah, if you are true (in your allegation).

    56. The connection between this verse and the previous two verses is that when Allah gave proof of His own existence and His Oneness, He followed it up with the proof of the prophethood of His Messenger, Muhammad, saws Qurtubi.
    By "it" the allusion is to the Qur'an (Tabari, on the authority of Qatadah and Mujahid).

    57. According to Ibn `Abbas, by "witnesses" the allusion is to those who will lend help (in producing a piece equal to the Qur'an), to which Qurtubi adds: "As if they have been asked not only to seek help from whomsoever they want, but also call upon their scholars to be present as witnesses to their failure."
    The Qur'anic Challenge
    Ibn Jarir writes: Allah has addressed the unbelievers and hypocrites of the Arabs as well as the disbelieving people of the Book both the Jews and Christians and said that if you are in doubt about what I have revealed unto Muhammad (saws) of the Light and the Proofs and the Holy Writ, then bring a sound proof to argue, for, you know that each Prophet brings from his Lord, a proof, a miracle, that is special to him and which no one else shares with him. This Prophet has brought the Qur'an as a proof of his messengership. Now, if you contest his being a Prophet, then the simplest thing to do is for you to bring a piece of writing equal in beauty, truth, and sublimity to what he has brought. It should not be difficult for you, since you are a people who speak the Arabic language, and are masters of the science of eloquence. If the Book is not from Allah, and if Muhammad is its author, then surely you can also produce what he has produced.
    Ibn Kathir quotes several verses of the Qur'an which threw the same challenge at the unbelievers at different times, in different words and at different places (Makkah and Madinah). For instance (17:88):

    قُلْ لَئِنِ اجْتَمَعَتِ الْإِنْسُ وَالْجِنُّ عَلَى أَنْ يَأْتُوا بِمِثْلِ هَذَا الْقُرْآَنِ لَا يَأْتُونَ بِمِثْلِهِ وَلَوْ كَانَ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ ظَهِيرًا

    "Say: 'If men and jinn banded together to produce the like of this Qur'an, they would never produce its like, not even if they backed one another.'"
    Again (11:15):

    أَمْ يَقُولُونَ افْتَرَاهُ قُلْ فَأْتُوا بِعَشْرِ سُوَرٍ مِثْلِهِ مُفْتَرَيَاتٍ وَادْعُوا مَنِ اسْتَطَعْتُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

    "Do they say that he (Muhammad) forged it? Tell them: 'Then you also bring ten forged chapters like it, and call to your aid whomsoever you wish apart from Allah, if you are true.'"
    He also said in (10:38):

    أَمْ يَقُولُونَ افْتَرَاهُ قُلْ فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِثْلِهِ وَادْعُوا مَنِ اسْتَطَعْتُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

    "Or, do they say that he has forged it? Say: 'Bring a chapter similar to it, and call to your aid whosoever you want apart from Allah, if you are true.'"
    The above verses are of the Makkan period. The challenge was repeated during the Madinan period also, as in this surah al Baqarah.
    In other words, the Qur'an repeatedly challenged all those who disbelieved in it as the Word of Allah: both the Arab polytheists as well as the Jews and Christians, individually as well as collectively, to produce a piece equal to it in the beauty of language and sublimity of contents. But, despite their mastery over the language, (of a kind that has not been surpassed since then), and despite their deep rooted hatred of Islam and its Prophet, they failed to produce its equal. Therefore, Allah threatened them in words: "But if you cannot do it and you will never do it then fear the Fire whose fuel is human beings and rocks; prepared for the unbelievers."
    Further, as the Qur'an predicted: "And you will never do it," neither the contemporaries of the Prophet could do it, nor has the challenge been answered since then, and will never be answered. (Ibn Kathir then proceeds to show why it is impossible for anyone to produce the like of the Qur'an).
    Imam Razi presents some very interesting points. He says: You should know that the Qur'an consists of many of those elements that adversely affect the eloquence of a piece of writing. Yet it reaches the highest level of eloquence that beyond which there is no eloquence. This makes it a miracle. Let us consider some.
    First, the eloquence of the great masters of the past is mostly in the portrayal of physical objects, such as, the description of a camel, a horse, a maid, a king, the powerful strike (of a sword), the throw (of a spear or arrow), a battle, or a (fierce) attack, and so on. But the Qur'an has none of these portrayals and therefore it had to go without those words of eloquence that are related to them and have been accepted by the masters as the standard words and phrases of eloquence.
    Second, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has stated only the truth in the Qur'an; while every poet who does not employ fiction, rather, adheres to speaking only the truth, will be severely restrained in eloquence. Take for example the poetry of Hassan b. Thabit, and Labid b. Rabi`a. Compare their poetry of the period when they had not yet entered the fold of Islam with that of the time when they were Muslims. You will find that the poetry of the latter period is inferior to that of the former. (That is because in the latter period they had abandoned fiction and restricted themselves to truth).
    Third, the eloquence of a poet is normally restricted to a verse or two of the entire poem. That is its best part. The rest is very ordinary. In comparison, the Qur'an is at all times and in every verse at the height of eloquence.
    Fourth, the eloquence of a man of letters expresses itself most forcefully on a subject only once. It is not of the same order when he takes up the same topic again. But the Qur'an repeatedly speaks on the same topics. However, each time it displays a different level and order of eloquence.
    Fifth, the Qur'anic topics are unusual ones that do not provoke much interest, such as, Prayers, forbidding of the indecent things, bidding unto good, abstinence, remembrance of the life after death and so on. These, as we all know, are not topics that are well suited for eloquence.
    Sixth, it is said that Imra'ul Qays is at his best in describing music, women and horses. Naabigha is at his best in lines expressing fear. A`shi is at his best in his supplications and description of wine. Zuhayr excels in expressing hopes and yearnings. In short, each poet has his field of specialty in which he is the most eloquent. But he is the most ordinary when he takes up a subject other than his specialty. In contrast, whatever subject the Qur'an takes up, it displays rhetoric and eloquence of the unmatchable sort.
    (Quotation from Razi ends here).
    Alusi adds: Although verse 22 has been brought to prove the miraculous nature of the Qur'an, it also serves as an evidence of the Prophet's messengership.

    فَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَلَنْ تَفْعَلُوا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ ۖ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ (24)

    2|24| But if you cannot do it and you will never do it then fear the Fire whose fuel is human beings and rocks,58 prepared for the unbelievers.59

    58. The allusion by (al hijaarah) is to rocks of sulfur (`Abdullah Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, a few other Companions of the Prophet, and Ibn Jurayj Tabari). This is the popular interpretation. However some say that the allusion is to the idols, as Allah said elsewhere (21: 98):

    إِنَّكُمْ وَمَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ حَصَبُ جَهَنَّمَ

    "Indeed you as well as those you worship other than Allah are fuels of the Fire" (Shanqiti).
    Sayyid Qutb writes: "Why this banding together of stones and people.....in this most terrifying illustration? The Fire has been prepared for the unbelievers: those about whom the Qur'an said, 'Allah has (in consequence of their decision not to believe) set a seal on their hearts, and on their hearing. And on their eyes is a covering.' .... But, what have stones to do with those who failed to answer the challenge of the Qur'an, yet refused to heed its call? (The answer is): These people are themselves stones ... like any other stone, even if they are humans in their appearance. This banding together then, of stones and a people (of this nature), is a thing anticipated!"
    "Moreover, the mentioning of stones here, in this terrifying scene has another illustration hidden in it: that of a Fire that eats away stones ... and men sandwiched in between!?"
    Incidentally, the melting point of rocks which is around 18,000 deg. C. is higher than that of iron. To inflame them would require higher temperature (Au.).

    59. That is, essentially it has been prepared for the unbelievers. This does not mean that the sinners from among the believers will not pass through this purgatory before their entry into Paradise.
    Qurtubi states that the wordings suggest that Hell has already been created. Abu Hurayrah reports:

    عَنْ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ كُنَّا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- إِذْ سَمِعَ وَجْبَةً فَقَالَ النَّبِىُّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « تَدْرُونَ مَا هَذَا ». قَالَ قُلْنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَعْلَمُ. قَالَ « هَذَا حَجَرٌ رُمِىَ بِهِ فِى النَّارِ مُنْذُ سَبْعِينَ خَرِيفًا فَهُوَ يَهْوِى فِى النَّارِ الآنَ حَتَّى انْتَهَى إِلَى قَعْرِهَا » - صحيح مسلم

    Once they were with the Prophet (saws) when they heard a thud. "Do you know what that sound was?" he asked. We replied, "Allah and His Prophet know best." He said, "That was a stone that was dropped into Hell seventy years ago. It had been falling until it reached the bottom now."

    وَبَشِّرِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ۖ كُلَّمَا رُزِقُوا مِنْهَا مِنْ ثَمَرَةٍ رِزْقًا ۙ قَالُوا هَٰذَا الَّذِي رُزِقْنَا مِنْ قَبْلُ ۖ وَأُتُوا بِهِ مُتَشَابِهًا ۖ وَلَهُمْ فِيهَا أَزْوَاجٌ مُطَهَّرَةٌ ۖ وَهُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ (25)

    2|25| (In contrast),60 give glad tidings to those who believe and do righteous deeds, that for them are gardens underneath61 which rivers flow.62 Whensoever they shall be served there with a fruit to eat, they shall say, ‘We (seem to) have been served this before,’ and they shall be (in fact) served with the like of it.63 And for them shall be spouses purified64 abiding therein forever.65

    60. Ibn Kathir comments: "After Allah mentioned the end of those who disbelieve in this message, He followed it up with the end of those who believe in it and do good works. This is the style of the Qur'an. It mentions a thing and follows it up with its opposite. It mentions another thing and then its like. It states the end of the virtuous ones and then that of the evil ones. It speaks of faith and follows it up with the subject of disbelief. It refers to the consequence of a certain kind of attitude and then immediately describes the consequence of the other kind of attitude, and so on. This is the meaning of the Qur'anic term ( كِتابا مُتَشابها ) as used in the following verse (39: 23):

    اللَّهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَاباً مُّتَشَابِهاً مَّثَانِيَ تَقْشَعِرُّ مِنْهُ جُلُودُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ

    "Allah has sent down the fairest discourse as a Book, consimilar in its paired (verses), whereat shiver the skins of those who fear their Lord."

    61. That is, underneath its palaces and trees (Ibn Kathir). The words of the original also imply that Paradise has been created (Qurtubi).
    Linguistically, jannah signifies a lush green garden (Au.).

    62. A tradition of the Prophet (saws) tells us that these rivers will flow on plain surfaces (i.e., without the hollow beds). The river beds will be made up of musk, their pebbles of jewels and other rich stones and their banks lined up with dome shaped structures carved out of pearls. A hadith also reports that these rivers will spring forth from mountains of musk (Ibn Kathir).

    63. Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud and some other Companions of the Prophet (saws) have been reported as saying that each time the people of Paradise are served with a fruit, it will seem to them as if they had been served earlier, during their lives on earth. But, in actual fact, they would be similar only in their shape and color. Their tastes would be different. Some other early exegetes have expressed the view that the fruits served would look similar to those they would have earlier had in Paradise itself (Ibn Jarir).
    Yet another meaning forwarded is that all the fruits of a lot that they would be served with, would be of the same quality, as against what is experienced in this world, where, the fruits of a basket or a lot are not of the same size, color, taste, and quality (Ibn Jarir).
    Ibn `Abbas is reported to have said that there is no similarity between the fruits of Paradise and the fruits of this life except that they have common names (Ibn Kathir). The wordings of another report are that there is nothing in this world of Paradise except names (Ibn Jarir).

    64. Commenting on the textual word "purified," Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and others have said: That is, cleansed and purified of saliva, phlegm, dirt of the nose, wax of the ears, urine, excretion, monthly periods, semen and reproductive organs. Qatadah has said that they would be free of moral impurities also.
    Asad comments on the word azwaj: "The azwaj (sing. zawj) of the original "signifies either of the two components of a couple i.e. the male and the female."

    65. Neither wishing to leave the place, out of ennui, nor shall they be asked to leave (Au.).
    The Context of Revelation:
    It is reported of Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, and some other Companions that when Allah (swt) revealed the verses (17 19) which struck a similitude of the hypocrites, they remarked, 'It does not befit God's greatness to strike such similitudes.' Allah revealed these verses in response. Qatadah, on the other hand, says that when Allah struck the similitude of a spider (in verse 41, ch. 29) and a fly (in verse 73, ch. 22) the misguided ones began to object, 'Of what consequence spiders and flies are, to be mentioned (in the Qur'an)?' Ibn Kathir. Another report has it that when Allah mentioned the spider and the fly in his revelation the Jews began to mock and say, 'Now, this is not revelation like!' (Qurtubi Hasan and Qatadah). It is possible of course that the comments of all these disaffected ones caused the revelation.

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَسْتَحْيِي أَنْ يَضْرِبَ مَثَلًا مَا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا ۚ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ ۖ وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَيَقُولُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِهَٰذَا مَثَلًا ۘ يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيرًا وَيَهْدِي بِهِ كَثِيرًا ۚ وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلَّا الْفَاسِقِينَ (26)

    2|26| Surely, Allah is not ashamed of striking the similitude of a gnat66 or what is above it. As for the believers, they know that it is the truth from their Lord. But, as for the unbelievers, they object: ‘What did God mean by (striking) such a similitude?' Allah leads astray many thereby67 and guides many thereby. And He does not lead astray any thereby but the transgressors.68

    66. "This is said in answer to the objections of the pagans that the Qur'an condescends to speak of such humble objects as the spider, the bee, and the fly. The Qur'an answers in effect, that there is nothing undignified in the mention of these creatures of Allah....Fly and spider have been used in the Qur'an to illustrate the utter incompetency and helplessness of idols and (false) gods: and they serve their purpose of illustration exceedingly well" (Majid).
    Sayyid Qutb writes: "Allah is the Lord of the small and the big, the Creator of the gnat and the elephant. The miracle in the gnat is of the same magnitude as the miracle in the elephant it is the miracle of 'life', the miracle of the 'locked secret' that no one can unlock but Allah Himself. The lesson in a parable does not consist in the size or shape (of the object cited in the parable). Parables are a means of enlightenment and exposition; there is no shame attached to the drawing of similitude. Allah, the Wise, wished to test the hearts and try the people: 'As for the believers, they know that it is the truth from their Lord. But as for the unbelievers, they ask: What did Allah mean by (striking) such a similitude?'"
    (Quotation from Sayyid ends here).
    Allah is surely not ashamed of striking a similitude of what He has created. Rather, we are told that He feels ashamed at not answering the prayers of those who address their prayers to Him. Imam Razi quotes a hadith in which Salman (ra) reports the Prophet (saws) as having said: "Allah Most High is Living, Generous. He feels ashamed that a man should raise his hands (in supplication) and He reject his prayer unanswered."
    A hadith of Tirmidhi declared Sahih by him says:

    قالَ رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "لَوْ كَانَتْ الدّنْيَا تَعْدِلُ عِنْدَ الله جَنَاحَ بَعُوضَةٍ مَا سَقَى كَافِراً مِنْهَا شَرْبَةَ مَاءٍ". (قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ صَحِيحٌ غَرِيبٌ)

    "Had this world been worthier in the sight of Allah than the wing of a gnat, the unbelievers would not have been granted a gulp of water to drink" (Ibn Kathir).

    67. Why did Allah say: 'Allah leads many astray thereby,' when we know that He does not lead anyone astray? In fact, throughout human history Allah has taken great care to guide the mankind. The answer is: He attributed the act of misguidance, essentially an act of man, to Himself because it is He who is the final cause of all acts ensuing from man. Man can only intend to do a thing. But he cannot do it without Allah's consent. Man can wish to take a certain path, say the path of evil, but he cannot trace his feet on it without Allah's will. It is the will and the consent therefore, that has been referred to here as the act of leading the unbelievers astray (Au.).
    Zamakhshari writes: The misguidance has been attributed to Allah, because it is He who struck the similitude which became the cause of some people's guidance, while some others were led astray by it. It is said of Malik b. Dinar that once he visited a man who had been imprisoned because of debts. The man told Malik, 'Look at the way we have been locked up!' (i.e., unjustly). When Malik raised his head he saw a basket hung from the roof. He enquired whose it was. The man said it was his. Malik asked it to be lowered. It was filled with chicken and sweetmeat. Malik said: 'This is what has locked you up.'"

    68.In Islamic terminology, Fasiq is one who breaks the bounds set by the Shari`ah (Raghib), and commits a major sin (Razi). However, one who habitually commits minor sins, without repenting, is also technically a fasiq. The term therefore, can include in its application both the unbeliever as well as an believing sinner (Au.).
    Ibn Kathir adds: It is the unbelievers (and the hypocrites) that have been referred to here, since what follows as their qualities applies more to them than to the sinning believers.

    الَّذِينَ يَنْقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللَّهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ مِيثَاقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَا أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ أَنْ يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ (27)

    2|27| Those who break the covenant of Allah69 after its solemn binding, and sever70 (the ties) that Allah has commanded they be joined, and (thus) spread corruption in the land. It is these indeed who are the losers.71

    69. What covenant is it? Ibn Jarir presents various interpretations, of which Ibn Kathir's preference (and which Muqatil shares with some others) is as follows: By the covenant of Allah, those evidences are meant that prove Allah's existence (of which no one is ignorant); and which have become more binding by the fact of Allah commissioning His Messengers, demanding submission to none but Him.
    Zamakhshari adds: If it is asked, 'What covenant is meant?' The answer is: 'Those evidences of God's Oneness which every man's reason accepts as valid. They function as the covenant made with Allah.'
    Some others believe that the reference is to the covenant mentioned in verse 173, of surah al A`raf, which says:

    وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِنْ بَنِي آَدَمَ مِنْ ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ قَالُوا بَلَى شَهِدْنَا أَنْ تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَذَا غَافِلِينَ

    "When your Lord took from the children of Adam, from their loins, their seed, and made them testify about themselves, 'Am I not your Lord?' They said, 'Indeed, we testify.'"
    But the verse seems to be general, and can be applied to all the people including the Jews and Christians, who were given the message earlier, which instructed them to believe in Allah and in all the Prophets that He would send from time to time (Qurtubi).
    Asad comments: "The 'bond with God' (conveniently translated as `God's covenant') apparently refers here to man's moral obligation to use his inborn gifts intellectual as well as physical in the way intended for them by God. The `establishment' of this bond arises from the faculty of reason which, if properly used, must lead man to a realization of his own weakness and dependence on a causative power and, thus, to a gradual cognition of God's will with reference to his own behavior. This interpretation of the `bond with God' stands for something that is rooted in the human situation as such, and can, therefore, be perceived instinctively as well as through conscious experience: namely, that innate relationship with God which makes Him `closer to man than his neck vein' (50: 16)."

    70. Not to give one's kin their rights and dues as commanded by Allah amounts to severing the relationship with them (Ibn Jarir).
    Majid expands: "By this are meant the duties and obligations imposed by God toward Himself and toward one's parents, family, neighbors, community, country and fellow creatures in general."

    71. Khaasir is someone who suffers a loss or reduction in something (Qurtubi). Here, those are meant who lose the blessings of the Hereafter because of their disobedience to Allah. They will miss the Mercy of Allah when they will need it most (Ibn Jarir).
    Thanwi adds: Not just in the Hereafter, but such a man loses many blessings of this world also, since most of his time is spent in scheming and planning to cause harm to others which results in the loss of his own peace.

    كَيْفَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَكُنْتُمْ أَمْوَاتًا فَأَحْيَاكُمْ ۖ ثُمَّ يُمِيتُكُمْ ثُمَّ يُحْيِيكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ (28)

    2|28| How can you disbelieve in Allah seeing you were lifeless, then He gave you life. Then, He shall deal you death, then quicken you (again), and then unto Him shall you be returned.72

    72. The explanation of the verse attributed to Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, some other Companions, Abu al `Aliyyah, Al Hasan, Mujahid, Qatadah, Abu Saleh, Dahhak, and `Ata al Khurasani is in another verse of the Qur'an (40: 11):

    قَالُوا رَبَّنَا أَمَتَّنَا اثْنَتَيْنِ وَأَحْيَيْتَنَا اثْنَتَيْنِ

    "Lord! You gave us death twice, and gave us life twice," i.e., 'You were dust before you were created: this is the first death. Then He quickened you and gave you life: this is the first life. Then you will die and will be returned to dust: this is the second death. Finally, you will be resurrected on the Day of Judgment: this is the second life. Thus, in total, two deaths and two lives (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مَا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ فَسَوَّاهُنَّ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ ۚ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ (29)

    2|29| It is He who created for you all that is in the earth,73 then He turned74 to the heavens and leveled them into seven firmaments.75 And He has knowledge of everything.76

    73. Some say, this implies that all that is in the earth is halal (lawful) until it is declared the contrary by the Shari`ah. Even if this opinion is not very accurate, it is undeniable that all that is there in the earth is of some benefit or the other to man (Qurtubi).

    74. The words of the original are (Istawa ila al sama') which have been interpreted as: "He turned to the heavens," or, "He directed His attention to the heavens" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    75. One upon another, in layers, with a distance of 500 years of travel between each (Qatadah: Ibn Jarir).
    Ibn Kathir adds: This proves that the earth was created before the heavens, as we shall discuss in detail when we reach (verses 9 12 of surah Fussilat and) verses 27 32, of surah al Nazi`at.
    "The term samaa' ('heaven' or 'sky') is applied to anything that is spread like a canopy above any other thing. Thus, the visible skies which stretch like a vault above the earth and form, as it were, its canopy, are called samaa': and this is the primary meaning of this term in the Qur'an; in a wider sense, it has the connotation of 'cosmic system'" (Asad).
    It is generally believed that all that is perceptible to the human eye, whether through the naked eye or by means of instruments, is a part of the first firmament. There are six more to it.

    76. Since it is He who created them, and every creator knows his creation.

    وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَنْ يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ (30)

    2|30| And (recall) when your Lord said to the angels:77 ‘I am to place a khalifah78 on earth.' They said: ‘Will you place therein one who will do corruption in it and shed blood,79 while we chant Your praises and sanctify Your Name?'80 He said: ‘Verily, I know what you do know not.'81

    77. By way of consultation, which demonstrates the esteem in which angels are held by their Lord.
    "Angels are super terrestrial, incorporeal, real and objective beings, not personified qualities and abstractions. They are faithful servants of God and His trusted messengers, and as pure spirits absolutely sinless and incorruptible. They are, in Islam, as unmistakably distinct from `gods' as from men" (Majid).

    78. The word khalifah has been variously interpreted. We will discuss only those that have been stated by the commentators at this point.
    Khilafah
    Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Shanqiti and many other commentators' first choice of meaning is that the term khalifah is used for those who follow eacy other, i.e. successors, in the same sense in which Allah (swt) used the word in the verse (10: 14):

    ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ خَلائِفَ فِي الأَرْضِ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ لِنَنْظُرَ كَيْفَ تَعْمَلُونَ

    "Then we placed you as successors in the land after them so that We might see how you act."
    Accordingly, Ibn Jarir says, a king is called 'khalifah' because he succeeds another that was before him.
    He adds: Whom did man succeeded? One explanation from Ibn `Abbas is that the earth was inhabited by the Jinn before the advent of man; they spread corruption and shed blood after which Allah (swt) sent in Iblis (Shaytan) with angels under his command to restore order. Iblis was able to destroy a large number of them and drive the rest to the mountains and seas. Subsequently, Allah (swt) created Adam and placed him in their stead; hence He said: 'I am going to place a khalifah on the earth.'
    Ibn Kathir agrees with Ibn Jarir in the meaning of the term. However, Ibn Kathir's preference is that humans succeeds humans. His words are: A people who will follow each other on the earth, epoch after epoch, generation after generation, as said Allah (swt) in (35: 39):

    وَيَجْعَلُكُمْ خُلَفَاء الأَرْضِ

    "He it is who made you succeed each other on the earth."
    Similarly, in (27: 62):

    أَمَّن يُجِيبُ الْمُضْطَرَّ إِذَا دَعَاهُ وَيَكْشِفُ السُّوءَ وَيَجْعَلُكُمْ خُلَفَاء الأَرْضِ

    "Who is it that responds to the call of the constrained when he calls Him and removes the evil, and makes you successors of the earth?"
    Again, in (43: 60):

    وَلَوْ نَشَاء لَجَعَلْنَا مِنكُم مَّلائِكَةً فِي الأَرْضِ يَخْلُفُونَ

    "And if We had willed We would have made of you angels succeeding one another on the earth."
    Likewise, in (7: 169):

    فَخَلَفَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ

    "Then came after them (evil) successors."
    (Quotation from Ibn Kathir ends here).
    A second meaning which is based on a statement attributed to Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas and some other Companions of the Prophet (saws), and as reported by Ibn Jarir, is that the term khalifah stands for anyone who will execute and administer Allah's orders on others and carry out His Will. Specifically, whom does it apply to? Qurtubi answers: Here, the term khalifah applies, according to Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, and rest of the interpreters, to Adam (asws), for he was appointed to administer Allah's commands.
    Can the term be applied to all men? If the answer is yes, then the attendant difficulty has not gone unperceived, viz. if Man has been placed as a khalifah on the earth in the sense that he executes Allah's commands or Will, then, surely, he has not proven to be so. The great majority of his kind have, in all stages of Man's history, actually refused to acknowledge Allah's sovereignty, far from executing His Will. What then did Allah mean by calling him khalifah? Ibn Jarir, Kalbi and Shanqiti try to resolve the issue by advancing the theory that if this meaning of the term khalifah is correct then it was Adam (asws) and those who will follow in his footsteps both in submission to Allah as well as in executing His orders that are the khulafa'. As for the great majority, who spread corruption and shed blood, they are khulafa' in the other sense; viz. successors of those who went before them, generation after generation.
    Imam Razi writes: Who is meant by the term khalifah? There are two opinions: one, Adam (asws), and the other, his progeny. It is the progeny that the angels had in mind when they said, 'Are You going to place therein someone who is going to work corruption and shed blood?' Now, what is meant by the term khalifah? The answer is, as for those who said that Adam (asws) is meant by the word khalifah, they disagreed over the sense in which Allah used the term. One group holds that when Allah (swt) cleared the earth of the Jinn, and placed Adam (asws) in their stead, he became the successor and hence the khalifah. This is the opinion of Ibn `Abbas. The second opinion is that Adam was the khalifah in the sense of executing and administering Allah's commands over His creations on earth. This opinion comes from Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, and Suddi. It is strengthened by the verse which says (38: 26):

    يَا دَاوُودُ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَاكَ خَلِيفَةً فِي الأَرْضِ

    ‘(O Da'ud) We have appointed you a khalifah on the earth.'
    As for those who hold that the progeny of Adam is meant by the word khalifah, they said they are khalifah in the sense that they succeed each other. This is the opinion of Hasan al Busri, and is strengthened by the verse (35: 39):

    هُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَكُمْ خَلائِفَ فِي الأَرْضِ

    'He it is who made you khala'if (successors) in the earth.'
    Some people understand the term khalifah as someone who exercises authority delegated to him by Allah, and acts as His deputy or agent in enforcing that authority on others. Such a meaning is incorrect. Ibn Taymiyyah, who has extensively dealt with the subject, is especially averse to the use of the term khalifatullah, or the word khalifah in the sense of a deputy or an agent. He believes that the term khalifah has no religious or spiritual connotation; it merely indicates succession in time. He goes a step further and says that it is shirk to say that someone is khalifatullah, for Allah stands in no need of a deputy or agent, so that when Abu Bakr (ra) was addressed by someone as, "O Khalifatullah," (although in a sense he was, being the leader of the ummah, who executed Allah's commands and administered His laws), he angrily retorted: "I am not khalifatullah. I am khalifatu Rasulullah (i.e. the Prophet's successor)." Indeed Allah (swt) is Himself the Khalifah (i.e. one who takes care of those whose masters cannot look after them), as said the Prophet (saws) in the prayer words for the travelers:

    اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ الصَّاحِبُ فِي السَّفَرِ وَالْخَلِيفَةُ فِي الأَهْلِ

    "O Allah! (Truly) You are The Companion in the journey (with us) and You are The Khalifah of the family (we have left behind)." ("The Political Thoughts of Ibn Taymiyyah," Qamaruddin Khan).
    When Allah (swt) uses the term khalifah for a Prophet, as He did for Da'ud (asws) in verse: "O Da'ud, We have appointed you a khalifah on the earth," it means, according to Ibn Taymiyyah, nubuwwah, and when referred to their true followers it would mean imamah (leadership), as in verse (24: 55):

    وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُم فِي الأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ

    "Allah has promised those of you who believe and do good that He will surely make them the leaders in the land even as He made those before them leaders."
    Raghib al Asfahani wrote in his Al Mufradat: "Khilafah is substitution for another, either because of the death of he who is being substituted, or because of his absence, or because of his inability (to discharge his duties), or for the reasons of honoring a deputy. It is in this last sense that Allah has used the term for his true followers (awliyaa') on earth, as He said, 'He it is who made you khala'if in the land.'"
    Shanqiti also accepts the possibility that the allusion by the term khalifah could be to Adam (asws), since he was a Prophet, and all Prophets are khalifatullah, although he does not elaborate on what exactly is meant by khalifatullah; nor does he extend the khilafah to others, such as the true followers of the prophets.
    Alusi is with Ibn Jarir in his preference and meaning of the term as applied to Adam (asws) and his progeny, except that he indicates that the preference of the Sufiya is that it is Adam who is meant by the term khalifah in this verse and that our Prophet (saws) is the Khalifah al A`azam.
    Mufti Muhammad Shafi` is of the opinion that the last and final khalifah of Allah was our Prophet, [using the term in the sense of nubuwwah], and that his khilafah will last till the Last Hour. All those who rule by his Shari`ah will be "his" khulafa', as indicated in a hadith in Bukhari and Muslim which records the Prophet (saws) as saying:

    "كَانَتْ بَنُو إسْرَائِيلَ تَسُوسُهُمُ الأَنْبِيَاءُ، كُلّمَا هَلَكَ نَبِيّ خَلَفَهُ نَبِيّ، وَإنّهُ لاَ نَبِيّ بَعْدِي. وَسَتَكُونُ خُلَفَاءُ فَتَكْثُرُ"

    "The (political, social and religious) organization of the Children of Israel was in the hands of prophets. When one of the prophets died, Allah replaced him with another. After me, however, there will be no prophet, but khulafa' and there will be many."
    Rashid Rida Misri has another interpretation to offer, according to which Man is khalifah in the general sense of being superior to all other creations of Allah, endowed with the powers of mind and intellect that make it possible, and hold promise for the future, of endless growth in the range of thought and action.
    Summary:
    a) Ordinarily the term khalifah is used for those who succeed others. In this sense the progeny of Adam (asws) are khulafa.' They succeed each other, generation after generation.
    b) The term can also be used for those who follow and execute Allah's will on the earth. The Prophets and (perhaps) their true followers are khulafa' in this sense.
    c) Khilafah can also mean nubuwwah or imamah depending on the application.
    d) Khilafah can also refer to Man's special position in the scheme of things because of the powers of thought and action that he has been given to the denial of many other beings. In this sense, that is, the ability (though to a very limited degree) to exercise power and abilities that are Divine (of course, to an unlimited degree), every individual is a potential khalifah who must prove his khilafah by using the powers and abilities given, in accordance with his Lord's will.
    d) Vicegerent is not the right word for khalifah because of the meaning of substitution inherent in it.
    It might also be pointed out that in the political theory of Islam the term khalifah is synonymous with imam, and khilafah with imamah, and this verse has been considered as the basis for the establishment of khilafah in the ummah. Some commentators (for instance Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and Shanqiti) have, therefore, discussed at this point the question of imamate or political leadership and organization of the ummah (Au.).
    e) Another understanding has been, as discussed by al-Batliyusi (d. 637 AH) in his al-Tanbih, that Allah gave man the power of intellect, as a result of which he thinks, acts, leads, orders and prevents. Allah made the land and sea, earth and heavens subjected to him, which is what it means to make him Khalifah on the earth.
    In other words, some of the powers and attributes that Allah possesses in their unlimited degree, have been bestowed to man in a limited degree and allowed him freedom to exercises them; so that he hears and sees, manipulates and invents, constructs and destroys, orders and prevents, punishes or rewards, lays the rules and enforces the laws, is kind or angry, and consequently, rules over the earth, which has been termed as Khilafah of the earth, and he the Khalifah (Au.).
    Finally, according to Zayd b. `Ali, a variant reading has been, khaliqa in place of khalifah, meaning "creation" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi and others). The verse will then mean, "And when your Lord said to the Angels: 'I am going to place a (new) creation in the earth.'

    79. The angels said those words not by way of protest or complaint but out of wonder and further inquiry (Ibn Jarir), since they had the premonition that Man was going to spread corruption in the land (Ibn Kathir, Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, a few other Companions, Suddi, Qatadah and Hasan).
    Another possibility is that they had known how the Jinn had behaved on the earth, and feared that the same will be repeated by Man (Ibn Kathir `Abdullah ibn `Umar, Mujahid, Abu al `Aliyyah).
    Another opinion of Ibn `Abbas' is that by way of this consultation the angels were put to test, as everyone of Allah's creation is put to test even the heaven and the earth were put to test when they were asked (41: 11):

    ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى إِلَى السَّمَاء وَهِيَ دُخَانٌ فَقَالَ لَهَا وَلِلأَرْضِ اِئْتِيَا طَوْعًا أَوْ كَرْهًا قَالَتَا أَتَيْنَا طَائِعِينَ

    "Then He assumed istawaa on the heaven - while it was smoke – and on the earth and said, 'Come willingly or unwillingly.' They said, 'We come willingly'" (Ibn Kathir).

    80. The words tasbih and taqdis have several meanings. But, according to Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, and some other Companions, in this verse they mean: "We worship, and address our supplications to You (nusalli)" Ibn Kathir.
    However the general meaning of tasbih is to glorify and extol greatness, while that of taqdis is to sanctify, or purify, as well as 'celebrate holiness, and to proclaim greatness.' Hence, according to Ibn Jarir, the meaning is: "We purify Thee from all that the polytheists falsely attribute to You as Your qualities, worship You, and, attribute to You all the good qualities that truly belong to You as against the blasphemies uttered against You by the unbelievers."
    A hadith in Sahih of Muslim reported by Abu Dhar (ra) says that the Prophet (saws) was asked,

    عن أبي ذر :أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم سئل: أي الكلام أفضل؟ قال "ما اصطفى الله لملائكته أو لعباده: سبحان الله وبحمده".‏

    "What words are the best?" He replied: "Those that Allah chose for His angels:
    سبحان الله وبحمده".‏

    81. According to Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, a few Companions of the Prophet (saws), and Mujahid, the meaning is: "I know about the rebellious nature of Iblis (who used to live with them until then, and who pretended to be very pious), of which you are unaware" (Ibn Jarir).
    Another opinion is that "it was in Allah's knowledge that among men would be Prophets, Messengers, and the pious who will inherit Paradise (something the angels had no known)" Qatadah, Ibn Kathir).
    Qurtubi adds: But a more general meaning is also possible which is, 'I know what has happened in the past, what is happening now and what will happen in the future, which you do not.'

    وَعَلَّمَ آدَمَ الْأَسْمَاءَ كُلَّهَا ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى الْمَلَائِكَةِ فَقَالَ أَنْبِئُونِي بِأَسْمَاءِ هَٰؤُلَاءِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ (31)

    2|31| And He taught Adam82 the names,83 all of them, and then He presented them to the angels and said: ‘Tell Me the names of these84 (things) if you are true.'

    82. Ibn Jarir relates on the authority of Abu Musa al Ash`ari that the Prophet (saws) said: "Allah (swt) created Adam (asws) from a handful of dust that He took from all over the earth. Therefore, the children of Adam are of every hue and composition as the earth itself is: red, black, white, mixed, the cheerful the melancholic, the evil and the virtuous." But the hadith could not be traced in leading trustworthy works (Au.).

    83. That is, taught him all the names of his own offspring, the angels, animals, and anything else he would have anything to do with (later in his life) Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir and others.
    "The term ism (name) implies to all philologists, an expression 'conveying the knowledge [of a thing]...applied to denote a substance or an accident or an attribute, for the purpose of distinction' (Lane IV, 1435): in philosophical terminology, a 'concept'" (Asad).
    Yusuf Ali adds: "...(The) commentators take to mean the inner nature and qualities of things, and things here would include feelings."

    84. This was in order to demonstrate that khilafah, administration of justice and organization of life on the earth, required special qualities based on knowledge, which the angels lacked (Alusi).

    قَالُوا سُبْحَانَكَ لَا عِلْمَ لَنَا إِلَّا مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ (32)

    2|32| They said: ‘Glory be to You, we know not save that which You have taught us. You indeed, You are the Knowing, the Wise.'85

    85. Qurtubi comments: It is a good habit to say 'I do not know' when one is asked about a thing in religion and he does not know, referring the matter to the more knowledgeable following the example of the angels, the Prophets and good scholars. The Prophet has predicted that a time will come when knowledge will be withdrawn due to the death of the `ulamaa', so that only the ignorant will remain who will be asked and they will give answers based on their own opinion (rather than the revealed knowledge), misguiding themselves and others. In a sahih hadith related by Ibn `Umar, the Prophet is reported to have been asked about the best patch on the earth. He said,

    خير البقاع المساجد وشر البقاع الأسواق (للحديث شواهد يتقوى بها كما أفاده الحافظ ابن حجر - فيض القدير)

    "The best patches of the earth are mosques, and the worst the commercial centers."
    [Qurtubi quotes a longer version as in Tabarani, but we have chosen the above which has been trusted by Ibn Hajr: Au.].
    Qurtubi follows up with many examples coming from the Companions and others, one of which is related by Ka`b al Qurazi. He says that once a man asked `Ali (ra) about something. He told him it is so and so. The man said, "No, leader of the faithful, it is actually this way." `Ali said in reply: "You are right and I was wrong." Another example is that of Imam Malik. Haytham b. Jamil reports: "I was present when he was asked 48 questions. In reply to 32 of them he said, 'I do not know.'"
    As to which of the two is superior, the angels or man, Qurtubi states that there is no consensus among the scholars over the question because of lack of an authoritative statement of the Prophet. The fact that angels were asked to prostrate before Adam (asws), he adds, does not necessarily prove that Man is superior to angels.

    قَالَ يَا آدَمُ أَنْبِئْهُمْ بِأَسْمَائِهِمْ ۖ فَلَمَّا أَنْبَأَهُمْ بِأَسْمَائِهِمْ قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُلْ لَكُمْ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ غَيْبَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَأَعْلَمُ مَا تُبْدُونَ وَمَا كُنْتُمْ تَكْتُمُونَ (33)

    2|33| He said: ‘O Adam, tell them the names of these (things).'86 When he had told them their names, He said: ‘Did I not tell you that I am aware of the unknown of the heavens and the earth, and I am aware of what you reveal and what you conceal?'87

    86. This shows that the qualifications for khilafah are knowledge and understanding (so long as one's practice is not in contradiction with his knowledge), and not deeds and spiritual exercises (Thanwi).
    Razi writes: This verse proves the merit of knowledge. Had there been anything else more meritorious than knowledge, Allah (swt) would have asked Adam to demonstrate it.

    87. That is, I am aware of the pride and arrogance that Iblis conceals in his heart (Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, and others Tabari).
    Razi comments: You should know that no one knows the secrets of Allah's wisdom save Himself. The angels for instance saw only the evil qualities in man, and belittled him on that score. In Iblis they saw only the qualities of devotion to Allah and held him in great esteem. But Allah knew that even if Adam committed sins, he will come back with repentance, and that even if Iblis devoted himself to Allah, he would come up with the boastful assertion, "I am better than he," (as stated in the Qur'an as his reason of refusal to prostrate himself to Adam).

    وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ فَسَجَدُوا إِلَّا إِبْلِيسَ أَبَىٰ وَاسْتَكْبَرَ وَكَانَ مِنَ الْكَافِرِينَ (34)

    2|34| And when We said to the angels: ‘Prostrate yourselves before Adam.'88 They fell prostrate, except Iblis.89 He refused, waxed pride, and became of the infidels.90

    88. Prostration before Allah is by way of worship, and before others it is by way of reverence as was the prostration of the angels before Adam or of Yusuf's brothers before him (Zamakhshari). Now, it remains totally prohibited in Islam. The Prophet was asked by his Companions if they could prostrate themselves before him. He replied that it is not permissible in our Shari`ah. "Had it been permissible," he said, "I would have asked women to prostrate themselves before their husbands" (Ibn Kathir).

    89. Literally, Iblis is the "despaired one." That is, despaired of ever being forgiven for his sin of disobedience emanating from pride. It is not clear how Iblis (Satan) reached the company of the angels in order to be included among those who were ordered to prostrate themselves to Adam. The opinion of Ibn `Abbas as reported by Ibn Jarir is that he was of a tribe of angels called Jinn who had been created from fire, while other angels had been created from Light (noor). Outwardly, he professed to be a very pious person devoted to Allah, but inwardly proud and rebellious. Another opinion is that of Hasan al Busri who believes he was never one of the angels, but of a different species. When he was commissioned by Allah to discipline the Jinn on the earth who were shedding much blood among themselves, and when he succeeded in driving them away into the mountains and seas, he was promoted and allowed to live among the angels in the heavens. Hence, when the angels were ordered to prostrate themselves before Adam (asws), he became one of those to whom the order was applicable. Ibn Kathir believes Al Hasan's opinion is strong and authentic.

    90. The last phrase of the original can also be translated as: "He (already) was (in the knowledge of Allah) of the infidels" (Qurtubi); for he was proud, and a proud person will not enter Paradise. A hadith of Muslim says:

    عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مَسْعُودٍ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ لا يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ مَنْ كَانَ فِي قَلْبِهِ مِثْقَالُ ذَرَّةٍ مِنْ كِبْرٍ

    "Whoever bears in his heart as little pride as equal to the weight of an atom, will not enter Paradise" (Ibn Kathir).

    وَقُلْنَا يَا آدَمُ اسْكُنْ أَنْتَ وَزَوْجُكَ الْجَنَّةَ وَكُلَا مِنْهَا رَغَدًا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمَا وَلَا تَقْرَبَا هَٰذِهِ الشَّجَرَةَ فَتَكُونَا مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ (35)

    2|35| Then We said: ‘O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in the garden (of Eden),91 and eat freely thereof from where (and of what) you wish92 but draw not near this tree93 lest you become of the transgressors.'94

    91. Although it is not stated explicitly in the Qur'an if by the term jannah the allusion here is to the same Paradise that the people will be rewarded with in the Hereafter, most scholars deduce from the verses that follow and from various ahadith on the subject that Adam and Eve dwelt in the same Paradise.
    "Was the Garden of Eden a place on this earth? Obviously not, for, in verse 36 below, it was after the Fall that the sentence was pronounced: 'On earth will be your dwelling place'" (Yusuf Ali).

    92. They were allowed to eat the fruits from any part of the Garden so that they might have no excuse for eating from the single prohibited tree (Zamakhshari).

    93. "Note that the tree remains nameless and unspecified in the Qur'an" (Majid).
    In the absence of a hadith, Ibn Jarir presents various opinions but concludes that it is pointless to find out what tree it was, since, it has no bearing on our life. Shajarah, he says, is used in Arabic for any plant that can stand on its stem, and hence is also applicable to the stems of grains such as wheat.

    94. That is, those who transgress their own souls through disobedience of their Lord.

    فَأَزَلَّهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ عَنْهَا فَأَخْرَجَهُمَا مِمَّا كَانَا فِيهِ ۖ وَقُلْنَا اهْبِطُوا بَعْضُكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ ۖ وَلَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مُسْتَقَرٌّ وَمَتَاعٌ إِلَىٰ حِينٍ (36)

    2|36| But Satan caused them to slip about it,95 and brought them out of that they were in.96 So We said: ‘Go down: some of you enemies unto others.97 For you shall be a sojourn in the earth and enjoyment for a time.'

    95. Majid writes: "This shows that the Prophets can commit mistakes. Says Mullah `Ali Qari in his "Sharh al Fiqh al Akbar": 'The Prophets have slipped and committed errors ... This is the opinion held by the majority of scholars....as against the Sufiya and some philosophers (mutakallimun) who deny this and say that the Prophets have not been subject to forgetfulness or errors.'"

    96. That is, brought them out of the state of peace, abundance, and innocence by inducing them to eat from the tree. The Qur'an says elsewhere that both of them ate from the forbidden tree. See Taa ha, verse 121 (Au.).

    97. That is, Adam and Eve (peace upon them), and Satan the accursed.

    فَتَلَقَّىٰ آدَمُ مِنْ رَبِّهِ كَلِمَاتٍ فَتَابَ عَلَيْهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ (37)

    2|37| Thereafter Adam learned certain words98 from His Lord, and He turned to him (in mercy).99 Indeed He is the Oft turning, the All-merciful.

    98. According to Ibn `Abbas, al Hasan, Sa`id b. Jubayr, Dahhak, and Mujahid, the words were (7: 23):

    رَبَّنَا ظَلَمْنَا أَنْفُسَنَا وَإِنْ لَمْ تَغْفِرْ لَنَا وَتَرْحَمْنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

    "O Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You do not forgive us, and show us compassion, indeed we shall be the losers."
    Ibn Kathir also mentions Hakim as having recorded in his "Mustadrak" a report (on the criteria of Bukhari and Muslim) according to which Ibn `Abbas said that the words alluded to in this verse are the following:

    عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما ، فتلقى آدم من ربه كلمات فتاب عليه قال : أي رب ألم تخلقني بيدك ؟ قال : « بلى » . قال : أي رب ، ألم تنفخ في من روحك ؟ قال : « بلى » . قال : أي رب ، ألم تسكني جنتك ؟ قال : « بلى » . قال : أي رب ألم تسبق رحمتك غضبك ؟ قال : « بلى » . قال : أرأيت إن تبت وأصلحت أراجعي أنت إلى الجنة ؟ قال : « بلى » . قال : فهو قوله ( فتلقى آدم من ربه كلمات) - هذا حديث صحيح الإسناد ولم يخرجاه (تعليق الذهبي قي التلخيص : على شرط البخاري ومسلم)

    "Adam said, 'O My Lord! Did You not create me with Thy own Hands?'
    It was said: 'Yes.'
    'And blew into me a spirit from You?'
    It was said: 'Yes.'
    'And my Lord: Did You not place me in Paradise?'
    It was said: 'Yes.'
    'And is it not true that Your Compassion has overcome Your anger?'
    It was said: 'Indeed.'
    'And You had written it beforehand that I will commit this error?'
    It was said: 'Indeed.'
    'Will You then allow me back into the Paradise if I repented?'
    He said: 'Yes.'
    The reference then is to the words, "When Adam obtained from his Lord a few words."

    99. Note that Eve (asws) has not been mentioned as also being forgiven. This is because in the Qur'anic method of narration women are not mentioned separately unless there is a specific need. They are included by default in any address to man (Au.).

    قُلْنَا اهْبِطُوا مِنْهَا جَمِيعًا ۖ فَإِمَّا يَأْتِيَنَّكُمْ مِنِّي هُدًى فَمَنْ تَبِعَ هُدَايَ فَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ (38)

    2|38| We said: ‘Go down (to the earth)100, all of you from this (place). Then, whenever comes to you a Guidance101 from Me then those who followed My Guidance will have nothing to fear nor shall they grieve.

    100. Although the sin was forgiven, i.e., no punishment followed, Adam and Eve (asws) had to still descend to the earth (in consequence of the physical effects and: Au.) because Allah (swt) wished to try them and their progeny, and to impress upon them that if a single sin was the cause of their exit, how would an easy re entry be possible for anyone loaded with many? (Qurtubi).
    Shafi` has the following point: The first order to "go down" was because of the sin committed. But after Adam repented, and Allah forgave him, he had yet to descend to the earth in order to assume khilafah, which was one of the many purposes of his creation.

    101. In the form of a Prophet or revealed literature that he will leave behind (Au.).

    وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَكَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ (39)

    2|39| As for those who disbelieved and denied Our signs,102 they indeed shall be the inhabitants of the Fire.103 They shall abide in it forever.

    102. Mawdudi writes: "Ayat is the plural of ayah which means a sign or token which directs one to something important... (In the Qur'an) sometimes it denotes a sign or an indication. In certain other places the phenomena of the universe are called the ayat (signs) of Allah, for the reality to which the phenomena points is hidden behind the veil of appearances. At times the miracles performed by the Prophets are also termed ayat, since they show that the Prophets were envoys of the Sovereign of the universe. Lastly, individual units of the Book of Allah are also called ayat because they point to the ultimate reality, and because the substantive excellences are clear tokens of the attributes of the Author of the Book. The sense in which the word ayah has been used in a particular verse becomes evident from the context of its occurrence."

    103. The Prophet (saws) has said:

    عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "أَمّا أَهْلُ النّارِ الّذِينَ هُمْ أَهْلُهَا، فَإِنّهُمْ لاَ يَمُوتُونَ فِيهَا وَلاَ يَحْيَوْنَ. وَلَكِنْ قَوْمٌ أَصَابَتْهُمُ النّارُ بِذُنُوبِهِمْ (أَوْ قَالَ بِخَطَايَاهُمْ) فَأَمَاتَهُمْ إِمَاتَةً. حَتّى إِذَا كَانُوا فَحْماً. أُذِنَ بِالشّفَاعَةِ

    ".
    "As for the people of the Fire, they shall be its inhabitants. They shall neither die in it nor live. But there will be people who would have entered into it because of their sins and errors. It will kill them in one go. When they would have become coals, intercession would be permitted on their behalf" (Ibn Jarir). Ibn Kathir adds that a similar hadith has been recorded by Muslim.

    يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَوْفُوا بِعَهْدِي أُوفِ بِعَهْدِكُمْ وَإِيَّايَ فَارْهَبُونِ (40)

    2|40| Children of Israel!104 Remember My favors105 wherewith I favored you, and fulfill My covenant I shall fulfill your covenant,106 and fear Me alone.

    104. The address at the time of revelation was to the Jews of Madinah, but with the lapse of that historical situation, it is to the Jews of all times, as well as all those who will follow them in their footsteps, not excluding the Muslims. Note the tenderness in the appeal and mildness of reproach. This is because this was the first direct call and the Prophet's first encounter with them. The tone became harsher with the passage of time and experience of their increased obduracy and hostility (Au.)
    Israel was the title conferred on Ya`qub (Jacob), the son of Is-haq (Isaac) and the grandson of Ibrahim (asws). The progeny of Ya`qub were known as the Children of Israel. According to Ibn `Abbas, the meaning of the term is "the slave of God" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir), since "Isra" in Hebrew stands for "slave" and "ail" for God (Ruh).
    The Christian Biblical commentators state that the meaning of the term is "the soldier of God," a title which Jacob won when he defeated God in a wrestling bout! Genesis: 32. Whatever the meaning, not all the Jews were the progeny of Ya`qub at the time of the address. Many of them in and around Madinah were, in fact, Arabs and of the Isma`ili line. As for the modern Jews, the great majority of them have no lineage with that Prophet. With several large scale massacres at the hands of their enemies at different times in history, and conversion of new peoples to Judaism (the East Europeans, Russians, Ethiopians, Middle easterners, etc.), the original stock is lost. However, they were addressed as the Children of Israel because that is how they loved to be addressed (Au.).
    Ibn Kathir writes: The point in addressing them in a manner they liked most was as if to tell them: 'O the progeny of an obedient slave of Ours! Be like your forefathers.'
    Majid comments: "This nation of priests, patriarchs and prophets, perhaps the most remarkable people in ancient history, blessed of their Lord, always great in the realm of religion and faith, and mighty and glorious for long periods in the affairs of the world, had migrated in their thousands, after the capture of Jerusalem by the Romans under Titus, into Arabia, and had settled in and around Madinah long before the advent of the holy Prophet. The whole of the north western Arabia was dotted over by their colonies, and many of the Arab pagans, in the course of time, had come to adopt their ways and their faith. In the third century of the Christian era an Arabian tribe, even so remote as in the south of the Peninsula, was led to adopt the Jewish faith. As proud possessors of the book and the divine Law, and even more as adept in crude occult sciences and magical crafts, these Arab Jews were in early days of Islam, in effect intellectually the dominating masters of the country. In matters religious and divine they were the trusted advisers of the unlettered pagans and their acknowledged superiors. Jewish legends, Jewish tenets and Jewish feats of exorcism were by now popular knowledge throughout Arabia. The 'idolatry of Arabia,' to use the words of Muir, had formed a compromise with Judaism, and had imbibed many of its legends and perhaps many of its tenets. It was the Jews, again, who had been long predicting a new redeemer, and had been keenly looking for him. This helps to explain the extent of attention they receive in the Qur'an, and the long series of admonitions, warnings and exhortations addressed to them. In the domain of religion they were always the foremost: in Arabia, contemporaneous with Islam, their importance stood especially high."

    105. Drawing the meaning from the comments of Ibn `Abbas, Abu al `Aliyyah, and Mujahid, Ibn Jarir says that the favors wherewith Allah (swt) favored the Children of Israel are: His choice of Messengers from among them, revelation of Books unto them, releasing them from the tyrannies of Fir`awn and his people, giving them a foothold in the holy land, springing forth of water from a piece of rock, and feeding them with mann and salwa. He reminded them of His favors shown to their fathers in order that the progeny might not forget (their unique position with God), and might not commit those acts that entail Allah's anger.
    Qurtubi and Sabuni note: The Gnostics say: 'The worshippers of favors and blessings are many. But the worshippers of Him who grants favors and blessings are few. The Israelites were asked to remember the favors, in order that they might reach through them the One who bestows. In contrast, the Muslims were told to remember the One who grants favors. They were told (2: 152): "Remember Me, I will remember you," so that they might know Him who grants the favors. Then, through Him, they could seek the favors. The two situations are poles apart.'

    106. What was the covenant of God with the Israelites? It was to the effect that if they remained true to their part of the covenant, He will be pleased with them and reward them in the Hereafter with Paradise (Ibn `Abbas, Suddi, Dahhak, Abu al `Aliyyah, Rabi`: Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    According to Hasan al Busri (Ibn Kathir), the details of the covenant are in verse 12 of surah al Ma'idah which says (5: 12):

    وَلَقَدْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَبَعَثْنَا مِنْهُمُ اثْنَيْ عَشَرَ نَقِيبًا وَقَالَ اللَّهُ إِنِّي مَعَكُمْ لَئِنْ أَقَمْتُمُ الصَّلاةَ وَآَتَيْتُمُ الزَّكَاةَ وَآَمَنْتُمْ بِرُسُلِي وَعَزَّرْتُمُوهُمْ وَأَقْرَضْتُمُ اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا لأُكَفِّرَنَّ عَنْكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَلأُدْخِلَنَّكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا

    الأَنْهَارُ
    "Allah took compact with the Children of Israel; and We raised up from among them twelve chieftains. And Allah said, 'I am with you. Surely, if you perform the prayer, and pay the alms, and believe in My Messengers and succor them, and lend to Allah a good loan, I will acquit you of your evil deeds, and I will admit you to gardens underneath which rivers flow.'"
    Ibn Jurayj has said: This also happens to be the compact between us (Muslims) and Allah (Ibn Jarir).

    وَآمِنُوا بِمَا أَنْزَلْتُ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا مَعَكُمْ وَلَا تَكُونُوا أَوَّلَ كَافِرٍ بِهِ ۖ وَلَا تَشْتَرُوا بِآيَاتِي ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا وَإِيَّايَ فَاتَّقُونِ (41)

    2|41| Believe in that I have sent, confirming that which is with you,107 and be not the first to disbelieve in it.108 Barter not My signs for a paltry price,109 and fear Me alone.

    107. Disbelief in the new revelation will amount to disbelief in your own revelation which the new revelation confirms as true (Au.).

    108. That is, having known the theme of past revelations, and the common elements of divine guidance, of which the new guidance is also composed, it was not difficult for the Jews to judge whether the new call had a divine origin or not. Accordingly, they should have been the first to believe in the message of Islam and not the first to reject it. In fact, before the advent of Islam, they used to promise the pagan Arabs that soon a new Prophet would appear in whom they would be the first to believe and who would lead them to victory and destroy their enemies for good (Ruh).

    109. That is, do not, O Rabbis, hesitate from spreading the word of Allah as found in your holy writ, in fear that if people begin to follow it you will lose your influence. The Prophet (saws) has said in a hadith of Abu Da'ud:

    "مَنْ تَعَلّمَ عِلْماً مِمّا يُبْتَغَى بِهِ وَجْهُ الله لا يَتَعَلّمُهُ إلاّ لِيُصِيبَ بِهِ عَرَضاً مِنَ الدّنْيَا لَمْ يَجِدْ عَرْفَ الْجَنّةِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ - يَعني رِيحَهَا".

    "Whoever sought knowledge that is normally sought for Allah's pleasure, for the sake of worldly rewards, will not even smell Paradise on the Day of Judgment" (Ibn Kathir).
    Zamakhshari adds: The allusion is to the practice of the Rabbis who took a share of the fruits and crops which were in fact bribes offered to them by the commoners for securing rulings that made it easy for them to follow the "Law." The allusion is also to the financial help they received from their rulers for concealing the truth or giving the law a twist.
    Although the Jews are the subject of the verse, a glaring example of this bartering of the truth for paltry price was provided by the Christians of Najran whose delegation appeared in Madinah those very days. They were sixty riders headed by three men, 1) Abu Haritha, a religious scholar and Bishop, 2) `Abd al Masih, in general command of the delegate, and 3) Al Ayham who looked after transport and general administration. Abu Haritha confided to his brother, Kurz b. Alqamah that he was convinced that Muhammad (saws) was a true Prophet. "Then what prevents you from accepting him?" asked the astonished brother. He replied, "The way these people (the Romans) have treated us. They bestowed titles on us, paid us subsidies, (built churches for us), and honored us. And they are absolutely opposed to him. If I accept him, they will withdraw from us all that you see (with us)" (Sirah Rasulullah, Ibn Is haq).
    In connection with speaking out the truth and not bartering it away for a paltry price, Qurtubi gives us the account of Abu Hazim's encounter with the Umayyad king Sulayman. The original source is Darami, and here we present it in a truncated form but leaving the original text in full for Arab readers' enjoyment.

    أخبرنا الضحاك بن موسى قال: مر سليمان بن عبد الملك بالمدينة - وهو يريد مكة - فأقام بها أياما فقال: هل بالمدينة أحد أدرك أحدا من أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ؟ قالوا له: أبو حازم فأرسل إليه فلما دخل عليه قال له: يا أبا حازم ما هذا الجفاء ؟ قال أبو حازم: يا أمير المؤمنين وأي جفاء رأيت منى ؟ قال: أتاني وجوه أهل المدينة ولم تأتني ! قال يا أمير المؤمنين أعيذك بالله أن تقول ما لم يكن ما عرفتني قبل هذا اليوم ولا أنا رأيتك ! قال: فالتفت إلى محمد ابن شهاب الزهري فقال: أصاب الشيخ وأخطأت.
    قال سليمان: يا أبا حازم ما لنا نكره الموت ؟ ! قال: لانكم أخربتم الآخرة وعمرتم الدنيا فكرهتم أن تنتقلوا من العمران إلى الخراب قال أصبت يا أبا حازم فكيف القدوم غدا على الله تعالى ؟ قال: أما المحسن فكالغائب يقدم على أهله وأما المسئ فكالآبق يقدم على مولاه.
    فبكى سليمان وقال: ليت شعري ! ما لنا عند الله ؟ قال: اعرض عملك على كتاب الله.
    قال: وأي مكان أجده ؟ قال: " إن الابرار لفي نعيم وإن الفجار لفي جحيم " [ الانفطار: 13 - 14 ].
    قال سليمان: فأين رحمة الله يا أبا حازم ؟ قال أبو حازم: رحمة الله قريب من المحسنين قال له سليمان: يا أبا حازم فأي عباد الله أكرم؟ قال: أولو المروءة والنهى.
    قال له سليمان: فأي الاعمال أفضل ؟ قال أبو حازم أداء الفرائض مع اجتناب المحارم.
    قال سليمان: فأي الدعاء أسمع ؟ قال دعاء المحسن إليه للمحسن.
    فقال: أي الصدقة أفضل ؟ قال: للسائل البائس وجهد المقل ليس فيها من ولا أذى.
    قال: فأي القول أعدل ؟ قال: قول الحق عند من تخافه أو ترجوه.
    قال: فأى المؤمنين أكيس ؟ قال: رجل عمل بطاعة الله ودل الناس عليها.
    قال: فأي المؤمنين أحمق ؟ قال: رجل انحط في هوى أخيه وهو ظالم فباع آخرته بدنيا غيره قال له سليمان: أصبت فما تقول فيما نحن فيه ؟ قال يا أمير المؤمنين أو تعفيني ؟ قال له سليمان: لا ! ولكن نصيحة تلقيها إلي.
    قال: يا أمير المؤمنين إن آباءك قهروا الناس بالسيف وأخذوا هذا الملك عنوة على غير مشورة من المسلمين ولا رضاهم حتى قتلوا منهم مقتلة عظيمة فقد ارتحلوا عنها فلو شعرت ما قالوه وما قيل لهم !.
    فقال له رجل من جلسائه: بئس ما قلت يا أبا حازم ! قال أبو حازم: كذبت إن الله أخذ ميثاق العلماء ليبيننه للناس ولا تكتمونه.
    قال له سليمان: فكيف لنا أن نصلح ؟ قال: تدعون الصلف وتمسكون بالمرؤة وتقسمون بالسوية.
    قال له سليمان: فكيف لنا بالمأخذ به ؟ قال أبو حازم: تأخذه من حله وتضعه في أهله.
    قال له سليمان: هل لك يا أبا حازم أن تصحبنا فتصيب منا ونصيب منك ؟ قال أعوذ بالله ! قال له سليمان: ولم ذاك ؟ قال: أخشى أن أركن إليكم شيئا قليلا فيذيقني الله ضعف الحياة وضعف الممات.
    قال له سليمان ارفع إلينا حوائجك قال: تنجيني من النار وتدخلني الجنة.
    قال له سليمان: ليس ذاك إلي ! قال له أبو حازم: فما لى إليك حاجة غيرها.
    قال: فادع لي. قال أبو حازم: اللهم إن كان سليمان وليك فيسره لخير الدنيا والآخرة وإن كان عدوك فخذ بناصيته إلى ما تحب وترضى قال له سليمان قط ! قال أبو حازم: قد أوجزت وأكثرت إن كنت من أهله وإن لم تكن من أهله فما ينبغي أن أرمي عن قوس ليس لها وتر قال له سليمان أوصني قال سأوصيك وأوجز: عظم ربك ونزهه أن يراك حيث نهاك أو يفقدك حيث أمرك.
    فلما خرج من عنده بعث إليه بمائة دينار وكتب [ إليه ] أن أنفقها ولك عندي مثلها كثير قال فردها عليه وكتب إليه يا أمير المومنين أعيذك بالله أن يكون سؤالك إياي هزلا أو ردي عليك بذلا وما أرضاها لك فكيف [ أرضاها ] لنفسي !

    "When Sulayman b. `Abd al Malik visited Madinah he asked his courtiers whether there was any one in the town who had seen a Companion of the Prophet (saws). They named Abu Hazim. Sulayman sent word to him that he would be glad to receive him. When Abu Hazim came Sulayman complained that he did not come on his own, rather, had to be invited. He replied that the two had not known each other previously. Sulayman asked him: "Why do we fear death, Abu Hazim?" Abu Hazim replied, "Because you have built this world and destroyed your Hereafter and hate to shift from a beautified world to a ruined one." Sulayman remarked, "I think you are right," Then he asked: "What kind of returning will ours be to the Hereafter?" Abu Hazim answered: "For those who did well in this world it will be like someone returning to his home and family. As for him who did evil, it will be like a runaway slave reporting back to his master." This brought tears to Sulayman's eyes. He said: "God! I wonder what's in store for us in the Hereafter." Abu Hazim replied: "Well, you might weigh your deeds against the Qur'an." Sulayman asked: "What will be my place there?" Abu Hazim recited the verse (82: 13, 14): "The righteous will be in bliss, and the libertines will be in a fiery furnace." At that Sulayman protested: "And where is Allah's mercy?" Abu Hazim quoted another verse (7: 56): "Allah's mercy is very near the righteous." Then, as the conversation proceeded, Sulayman asked Abu Hazim's opinion about himself as a ruler and his government. Abu Hazim asked to be spared the answer. But Sulayman persisted. So he said: "You know that your forefathers came to power not by the people's consent or council but through brute force, killing a large number of their opponents. They are gone; but only if you knew how the people remember them now!" Upon this one of the courtiers interjected: "You have spoken evil, Abu Hazim." Abu Hazim shot back: "You have lied. (I have said what I should have). Allah has taken a pledge from us scholars that we shall speak the truth and never conceal it."
    Later, Sulayman sent him a hundred Dinars. Abu Hazim returned it saying, "I do not approve it for you, how could I approve it for myself?"

     

    وَلَا تَلْبِسُوا الْحَقَّ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتَكْتُمُوا الْحَقَّ وَأَنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (42)

    2|42| Do not confound the Truth with falsehood,110 nor conceal it111 while you know.

    110. Here, the term "the truth" refers to Tawrah and "falsehood" to its interpolations (Ibn Zayd: Tabari). But to Abu al `Aliyyah this refers to the Jews of Madinah admitting that Muhammad (saws) was a true Prophet but raised for the non Jews alone, and not for them at all. This he thinks is being referred to as confounding the truth with falsehood (Qurtubi).

    111. The ‘truth’ that they used to conceal was the fact of Muhammad (saws) being the Prophet (whose advent was promised in the Biblical literature): Ibn `Abbas, Abu al `Aliyyah, Mujahid Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir.
    Asad makes a point ".... The suppression of truth refers to their disregard or deliberately false interpretation of the words of Moses in the Biblical passage, ‘The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken’ (Deuteronomy xviii, 15), and the words attributed to God Himself, "I will raise them up a prophet from among thy brethren, like unto thee, and will put My words in his mouth" (Deuteronomy xviii, 18)."
    Mawdudi writes: "For the proper understanding of the verse we need to recall that in the time of the Prophet the Jews of Arabia were more learned than the Arabs. In fact, there were some Jewish scholars of Arabia whose fame had spread even beyond the confines of that land. For this reason the Arabs tended to be intellectually overawed by them. In addition, the influence of the Jews had become pervasive and profound by virtue of the pomp and pageantry of their religious rites, and the magical crafts and feats of exorcism for which they were famous. The people of Madinah, in particular, were greatly under the spell of the Jews. These Jews made on them the sort of impression generally created on ignorant neighbors by a better educated, more refined and more conspicuously religious group.
    "It was natural in such circumstances that, when the Prophet began to preach his message, the ignorant Arabs should approach the Jews and ask their opinion of the Prophet and his teachings, particularly as the Jews also believed in Prophets and Scriptures. We find that this inquiry was often made by the Makkans, and continued to be addressed to the Jews after the Prophet arrived in Madina.
    "In reply to this query, however, the Jewish religious scholars never told the candid truth. It was impossible for them to say that the doctrine of monotheism preached by Muhammad was incorrect, that there was any error in his teachings regarding the Prophets, the Divine Scriptures, the angels and the next life and that there was any error in the principles of moral conduct which the Prophet propounded. At the same time, however, they were not prepared to make a straightforward affirmation of the truth of his teachings. In short, they neither categorically denied the Truth nor were prepared to accept it with open hearts.
    "Instead, they tried to plant insidious doubts in the minds of everybody who enquired about the Prophet and his mission. They sought to create one misgiving after another, disseminated new slanders, and tried to engage people's minds in all kinds of hypothetical problems so as to keep them in a state of doubt and uncertainty. They also tried to raise controversial issues which might keep people, including the followers of the Prophet, entangled in sterile debate. It is this attitude of the Jews to which the Qur'an alludes when it asks them not to overlay the truth with falsehood, not to suppress and conceal it by resorting to false propaganda and mischievous campaigns of slander, and not to attempt to deceive the world by mixing truth with falsehood."
    Razi comments: You should know that there are two effective ways by which a man can be misguided. They arise from two different situations: one in which the arguments in favor of truth have reached one, and the other in which the arguments have not yet reached him. In the first case, i.e., when the arguments have reached him, the way to misguide him is to confound those arguments so that he gets confused and remains undecided. The other way is to work against the arguments and prevent them from reaching the person. Now, both of these were practiced by the Jews who used to confound those whom the arguments had reached as well as prevent the arguments from reaching those that had not received them; hence the verse.

    وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَارْكَعُوا مَعَ الرَّاكِعِينَ (43)

    2|43| Perform the Prayers, pay the alms112 and bow down along with those who bow.113

    112. The word used in the original is zakah, which has in its roots two meanings: one, increase, and the other, purification and cleansing. Alms create both these effects. They increase welfare in a society as well as cleanse and purify the hearts of those who give out (Au.).
    "In the language of the Islamic law it means: the poor rate, the portion, or amount, of property that is given therefrom as the due of God, by its possessor to the poor in order that he may purify it thereby" (Majid from Lane's Lexicon).

    113. Thanwi writes: Deeds are of two kinds: external and internal. Again, the external deeds are of two kinds: physical and monetary. Hence the three injunctions: salah, which is an external and physical deed; zakah, which is also an external but a monetary deed; and humility, which is an internal deed and which has been alluded to in the words: "bow down."
    Of these, humility is something that is to be learnt from those who are humble. Hence, "bow with those who bow."
    Further, the three directives suited the Jewish situation most. Salah would have decreased their love of power, zakah their greed of wealth, and humility would have cured the diseases of envy, hatred, etc. These were the three major diseases that afflicted them."

    أَتَأْمُرُونَ النَّاسَ بِالْبِرِّ وَتَنْسَوْنَ أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ تَتْلُونَ الْكِتَابَ ۚ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ (44)

    2|44| Do you enjoin the people to righteousness and forget yourselves,114 while you recite the Book?115 Do you not understand?

    114. According to one opinion of Ibn `Abbas, the meaning is: 'You enjoin the people O Rabbis, to believe in the Tawrah and to be true to the compact of God (that you will worship none but Him and will believe in every new Messenger sent by Him), but you do not do that yourself.' Others, such as Suddi, Qatadah, Ibn Jurayj and Ibn Zayd, believe that the meaning is more general and refers to the Jewish practice of preaching piety, godliness, obedience to God, and other practical virtues but not practicing them (Ibn Jarir).
    It is also possible that reference is to, as Dahhak has said, the advice of the Jewish Rabbis to the pagan Arabs to accept Islam. This they used to do in the early days of Islam at Makkah in the hope that since the Prophet was preaching worship of one God and upholding those virtues and values that were the central themes of Tawrah, ultimately he would come around and follow their religion. In that event, they conjectured, he would bring with him the pagans too to the Jewish fold. But when that did not happen, rather, when the Prophet (saws) changed the direction of Prayers from Jerusalem to Makkah, after facing it for a year and a half in Madinah, they lost all hopes and began to advise the pagans not to give the ear to the new message (Au.).
    This does not mean, says Ibn Kathir, that a non practicing person should not preach. Rather, a preacher should also practice. There are several ahadith that warn those who preach but forget themselves. A hadith of Tabarani says:

    عن أبي تميمة عن جندب بن عبد الله الأزدي صاحب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مثل العالم الذي يعلم الناس الخير وينسى نفسه كمثل السراج يضيء للناس ويحرق نفسه (مجمع الزوائد ومنبع الفوائد: رجاله موثقون)

    "The example of a scholar who preaches virtue to the people but does not practice himself is like that of a lamp which gives light to the people but burns itself out." Another hadith, which is in Musnad Ahmad (and whose another version is declared trustworthy by Haythami: Au.), says:

    عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « مَرَرْتُ لَيْلَةَ أُسْرِىَ بِى عَلَى قَوْمٍ تُقْرَضُ شِفَاهُهُمْ بِمَقَارِيضَ مِنْ نَارٍ قَالَ قُلْتُ مَنْ هَؤُلاَءِ قَالُوا خُطَبَاءُ مِنْ أَهْلِ الدُّنْيَا كَانُوا يَأْمُرُونَ النَّاسَ بِالْبِرِّ وَيَنْسَوْنَ أَنْفُسَهُمْ وَهُمْ يَتْلُونَ الْكِتَابَ أَفَلاَ يَعْقِلُونَ » مسند أحمد

    "During my Ascent to the Heavens (me`raj) I passed by some people whose lips were being sheared with scissors of fire. I asked (Jibril) who those people were. He said they were the preachers (khutaba') of your nation who enjoined the people to righteousness but forgot themselves. And they recited the Book, should they not have thought?" In a hadith recorded by Bukhari, Usama b. Zayd reports the Prophet (saws) as having said:

    يُجَاءُ بِالرَّجُلِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَيُلْقَى فِي النَّارِ فَتَنْدَلِقُ أَقْتَابُهُ فِي النَّارِ فَيَدُورُ كَمَا يَدُورُ الْحِمَارُ بِرَحَاهُ فَيَجْتَمِعُ أَهْلُ النَّارِ عَلَيْهِ فَيَقُولُونَ أَيْ فُلَانُ مَا شَأْنُكَ أَلَيْسَ كُنْتَ تَأْمُرُنَا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَانَا عَنْ الْمُنْكَرِ قَالَ كُنْتُ آمُرُكُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَلَا آتِيهِ وَأَنْهَاكُمْ عَنْ الْمُنْكَرِ وَآتِيهِ

    "A man will be brought forth on the Day of Reckoning and thrown into the Fire. (The impact) will bring out his intestines around which he will circle like a donkey in the mill. The people of the Fire will gather around him and ask: 'O so and so! What's your problem? Are you not the one who used to bid us unto righteousness and forbid us the vice?' He will reply: 'Yes! I bid you to righteousness but neglected it myself, and forbade you vice but committed it myself.'"
    Dahhak relates of Ibn `Abbas that a man came to him and said that he wished to enjoin the people to righteousness and forbid the vices. Ibn `Abbas asked him if he had attained that status. The man said: "Hopefully, yes." Ibn `Abbas told him: "If you do not fear that three verses of the Qur'an will disgrace you, then go ahead." "What are they?" the man enquired. Ibn `Abbas said, "The first is (2: 44):

    أَتَأْمُرُونَ النَّاسَ بِالْبِرِّ وَتَنْسَوْنَ أَنْفُسَكُمْ

    'Do you enjoin the people to righteousness and forget yourselves?'
    Then he asked: "Are you through with this?" The man said, 'No.' Ibn `Abbas continued: "The second is (61: 2, 3):

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا لِمَ تَقُولُونَ مَا لا تَفْعَلُونَ كَبُرَ مَقْتًا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَنْ تَقُولُوا مَا لا تَفْعَلُونَ

    'Believers! Why do you enjoin that which you do not practice? It is most despising to Allah that you should enjoin that which you do not practice.'
    Then Ibn `Abbas asked the man: "Are you through with this?" The man said, 'No.' Ibn `Abbas continued: "The third is the statement of Shu`ayb (asws) who said (11: 88):

    وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُخَالِفَكُمْ إِلَى مَا أَنْهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ إِنْ أُرِيدُ إِلا الإِصْلاحَ

    'I do not wish to do what I forbid you. I only wish to reform.' Then Ibn `Abbas enquired: "Are you through with this?" When the man again confessed a no, Ibn `Abbas told him: "Then begin with yourself."
    (Quotation from Ibn Kathir ends here).
    Nevertheless, the emphasis is on the preacher to practice what he preaches. However, if he cannot, because of his weaknesses, let him not give up his preaching either, for it is possible that Allah will guide him to live by what he preaches. Qurtubi reports Sa`id b. Jubayr as having said that if one were to suspend preaching until he can live by it himself, preaching will grind to a halt."
    Majid writes: Compare with this the Jewish dictum: "He who induces others to do a good deed, stands in the sight of heaven higher than the one that does the deed" (The Jewish Encyclopedia).
    Sayyid Qutb comments: "The tragedy with the religious class when religion becomes a profession, a trade, and not a burning faith is that they begin to say with their mouths what is not there in their hearts; enjoin virtue upon others while they do not live by it themselves; urge others to righteousness but neglect it themselves; begin to play upon words; misinterpret clear cut texts following their whims and fancies and issue religious rulings that agree with the surface meaning of the text but are in contradiction with its spirit in order to satisfy the demands of those who possess power and money: all in the footsteps of the Jewish Rabbis.
    "Indeed, inviting to righteousness while living against its very spirit in one's own affairs, is a sickness that does not affect the individual callers to Islam alone, inflicting them with doubts and pessimism. It can in fact adversely affect the "call" itself. It casts a spell of skepticism on the call in the hearts of the masses because they hear beautiful words, but witness ugly deeds. This throws them into confusion about what to believe: the words or the deeds? This effectively extinguishes the flame that faith kindles in their souls, and puts off the light that belief ignites in their hearts. Consequently, they lose confidence in the religious class itself and never find themselves inclined to believe in them whole heartedly.
    "That message will remain sterile, lifeless and rigid however fiery, loud and ringing that does not come from a heart which believes in it itself. And a man does not truly believe in a thing until he can convert himself into a living model of that message: a real, and not abstract, embodiment of the spoken word. Then it is that people will believe in him and trust him even if the message is delivered without fire and thunder. The word then draws its power not from its rhetoric, rather, from its content. Its beauty comes not from its fire, but from its truth. Then it is that it converts lives of the people, for it has its origin in life.
    "Admittedly, the conformity between the word and the deed, between faith and practice, is not an easy thing to achieve. It involves a lot of hard work, zeal and dedication. Above all, it requires building up of a right relationship with Allah, and striving in search of His help....and His guidance, for the traps of the world are many, its demands and exigencies are plenty. Unwittingly they tend to draw him away from what he carries in his heart as his beliefs, or to which he invites others. Man unaided by the Eternal Power is weak against them, whatever his powers and abilities, for the power of evil and rebellion is greater than his powers. They overcome him, again and again. And a moment of neglect can ruin his past, present and even the future. But when he aligns himself with the Eternal Power then he is strong stronger than every real or abstract reality. He is strong against his own weaknesses and indulgences, against his needs and exigencies, stronger than those powers that challenge and resist him."

    115. Ibn Jarir reports Abu Darda (ra) as having said that one has not fully appreciated the truth if he does not despise the people for the sake of God and then turns to his own self and finds that he despises it even more.
    Imam Razi reports the story of Yezid b. Harun who was a very pious person and an ascetic. Someone saw him in his dream after his death and asked him, "How did Allah treat you?" He said, "He pardoned me. When the angels of the grave (munkar wa nakir) asked me, 'Who is your Lord?' I replied, 'Are you not ashamed! I spent such and such a number of years inviting the people to Allah, and now you ask me, 'Who is your Lord?!'

    وَاسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ وَإِنَّهَا لَكَبِيرَةٌ إِلَّا عَلَى الْخَاشِعِينَ (45)

    2|45| And seek help in patience and Prayers.116 They are indeed hard but not upon those who fear.

    116. That is, seek help in patience and Prayers to get rid of the love of this base world and to be able to keep the covenant that you have made with Allah (Ibn Jarir).
    It was observed of Ibn `Abbas that he was informed of either his brother Kuthum’s death, or that of his daughter during a journey, he came down the mount, offered two rak`ah of prayers and came back reciting this verse (Qurtubi).
    Sa`id b. Jubayr has defined sabr as: "To know and believe that whatever befalls is by the will of Allah, and to cherish hope that He will reward for it". `Umar b. al Khattab (ra) said: "Sabr is of two kinds. One, to bear an affliction gracefully. This of course is commendable. But what is better is the second kind of sabr. It is to refrain from all that is forbidden" (Ibn Kathir).
    "The Arabic word sabr implies many shades of meaning which it is impossible to comprehend in one English word. It implies (1) patience in the sense of being thorough, not hasty; (2) patient perseverance, constancy, steadfastness, firmness of purpose; (3) systematic as opposed to spasmodic or chance action; (4) a cheerful attitude of resignation and understanding in sorrow, defeat, or suffering, as opposed to murmuring or rebellion, but saved from mere passivity or listlessness, by the element of constancy or steadfastness" (Yusuf Ali).
    Hudhayfah b. al Yaman says, "The Prophet (saws) used to resort to salah in the face of every difficulty." `Ali (ra) said, "I observed the Prophet (saws) Praying in the night previous to the battle of Badr, while there was none among us who was awake. He remained in Prayers and supplications until the dawn."

    الَّذِينَ يَظُنُّونَ أَنَّهُمْ مُلَاقُو رَبِّهِمْ وَأَنَّهُمْ إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ (46)

    2|46| Those who believe117 that they shall meet their Lord, and that unto Him they shall return.118

    117. The word in the original is zann. In Arabic, it has a dual meaning: both of belief as well as doubt. Obviously, here it is belief that is meant; as in another verse (69: 20):

    إِنِّي ظَنَنْتُ أَنِّي مُلاقٍ حِسَابِيَهْ

    'I was sure I would encounter my reckoning.'

    118. (This verse proves that) it is through constant remembrance of the fact of the return to God that one can achieve the state of khushu`. Further, it is khushu` which makes salah easier to be offered (Thanwi).

    يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَنِّي فَضَّلْتُكُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ (47)

    2|47| Children of Israel!119 Remember My favors wherewith I favored you, and (that) I preferred you above nations of the world.120

    119. What was stated in the previous section (verse: 40 46) was a preamble to the detailed discourse which starts with this verse and will continue down to verse 123, which will for the last time in the surah warn the Israelites in the same words as in this first instance (Au.).
    Mawdudi writes: "From here on, through several sections that follow, reference is made to the best known episodes of Jewish history. As these episodes were known to every Jewish child, they are narrated briefly, rather than in detail. This reference is intended to remind the Jews both of the favors with which the Israelites had been endowed by God and of the misdeeds with which they had responded to those favors."

    120. Ibn Kathir quotes a verse to explain the nature of the preference shown to the Israelites. Musa (asws) said to his people (5: 20):

    وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَى لِقَوْمِهِ يَا قَوْمِ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ جَعَلَ فِيكُمْ أَنْبِيَاءَ وَجَعَلَكُمْ مُلُوكًا وَآَتَاكُمْ مَا لَمْ يُؤْتِ أَحَدًا مِنَ الْعَالَمِينَ

    'O my people remember Allah's blessings upon you when He raised prophets among you, appointed you kings, and gave you such things as He had not given any other people in the world.'
    Majid adds: "Now what did this 'preference' of the Israelites consist in? Was it their commerce, their adventures, their martial glory, their achievements in art, or their eminence in science? Nothing of the sort. Their singular glory and peculiar excellence, as a race, lay in their special mission their tenacious, pure and absolute MONOTHEISM in fact the only living monotheism that the world knew before the advent of Islam. `The Hebrews alone of all Semitic people reached the stage of pure monotheism, through the teachings of their prophets...As long as a man refused allegiance to other gods, he was looked upon as a Jew: whoever denies the existence of other gods is called a Jew. The unity of God was a revealed truth for the Jew, there was no need of proofs to establish it: it was the leading tenet of faith' (Jewish Encycl. VIII pp. 659, 661)."

    وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا لَا تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَنْ نَفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلَا يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلَا هُمْ يُنْصَرُونَ (48)

    2|48| Fear the day when no soul shall avail anything for any other;121 no intercession shall be accepted for it;122 nor ransom shall be accepted;123 neither shall they be helped.

    121. That will be the day of presentation to Allah when each soul will have to account for itself: the day when (35: 18):

    وَلا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَى

    "No soul shall carry the burden of another," because (80: 37):

    لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ شَأْنٌ يُغْنِيهِ

    "For every man that day will be an affair that will suffice him" (Ibn Kathir).
    Qurtubi writes: The Prophet (saws) has said:

    عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَنْ كَانَتْ لَهُ مَظْلَمَةٌ لأَخِيهِ مِنْ عِرْضِهِ أَوْ شَيْءٍ فَلْيَتَحَلَّلْهُ مِنْهُ الْيَوْمَ قَبْلَ أَنْ لا يَكُونَ دِينَارٌ وَلا دِرْهَمٌ إِنْ كَانَ لَهُ عَمَلٌ صَالِحٌ أُخِذَ مِنْهُ بِقَدْرِ مَظْلَمَتِهِ وَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ لَهُ حَسَنَاتٌ أُخِذَ مِنْ سَيِّئَاتِ صَاحِبِهِ فَحُمِلَ عَلَيْهِ - صحيح البخاري

    "Let him who has wronged his brother, whether it be involving his honor or anything else, clear it now before the day when he will have neither Dinar nor Dirham in his possession. If he has some good deeds in his account, those will be taken away and given as compensation to those he wronged. If he does not have any good deeds, proportionate amount of evil deeds will be taken from the man he had wronged and credited to his account" (Qurtubi).
    Majid adds: "This (verse) is to repudiate the Rabbinical doctrine that `grace is to be given to some because of the merits of their ancestors, to others because of the merits of their descendants" (Jewish Encycl. VI. p.61).

    122. "The patriarchs in heaven were believed to be intercessors for the living...Angels were often invoked by certain (Gnostic?) class of Jews. Especially was Michael invoked as intercessor for the Jewish people.' (JE. VIII, p. 408) Majid.
    The Islamic concept in this regard is that if a soul has died disbelieving in Allah, then no intercession will be accepted for it. As for intercession for the believers: by the righteous, the martyrs, siddiqun, and the prophets, there is no difference of opinion among the scholars that it would be allowed for whomsoever Allah is pleased, by him whom He allows.

    123. As says Allah (swt) elsewhere (3: 91):

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَمَاتُوا وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ فَلَنْ يُقْبَلَ مِنْ أَحَدِهِمْ مِلْءُ الأَرْضِ ذَهَبًا وَلَوِ افْتَدَى بِهِ

    "Those who disbelieved and died disbelieving will not have even earthfull of gold accepted from them as ransom even if he were to offer the ransom."

    وَإِذْ نَجَّيْنَاكُمْ مِنْ آلِ فِرْعَوْنَ يَسُومُونَكُمْ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ يُذَبِّحُونَ أَبْنَاءَكُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيُونَ نِسَاءَكُمْ ۚ وَفِي ذَٰلِكُمْ بَلَاءٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ عَظِيمٌ (49)

    2|49| And when We delivered you from Fir’awn’s folk124 (who were) afflicting you with dreadful torture, slaughtering your sons125 and keeping your women alive. In that indeed was a severe test for you from your Lord.126

    124. Fir`awn was not the name of the king contemporaneous to Musa (asws), rather, a title for the Amalekite rulers, as Qayser was that of the Roman kings, Kisra of the Persians, and Najashi of the Ethiopian kings (Ibn Kathir).
    Majid adds: "The Pharaoh spoken of here, the one contemporaneous with Moses (peace be upon him!) was, till recently, believed to be Ramses II, in the 13th century B.C., or Merenptah, or both. `Ramses II of the 19th dynasty is generally accounted the Pharaoh of the Oppression, and his son and successor, Merenptah is considered to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus...The Oppression evidently lasted many years. Ramses II reigned 67 years, and thus the Exodus may have taken place in the short reign of Merenptah, the son and successor of that aged king.' (Dict. of the Bible, III, p. 820. Also JE. IX p. 660). Fresh archaeological evidence, however, identifies the Pharaoh of Oppression with Thotmas III and Pharaoh of the Exodus with Amenhtap II, and postulates the date of the Exodus as falling between 1447 B.C., and 1417 B.C....The Exodus must, therefore, have taken place after Thotmas III's death in 1447 B.C., and during the reign of Amenhatap II' (Marston, "The Bible is True, p. 171)."
    He further writes: "It may also be noted that while the Bible refers to the masters of the Israelites before their deliverance at the hands of Moses (asws) as "Egyptians", the Qur'an invariably refers to them as the "people of Fir`awn. For the two, (the tyrannous people of Fir`awn and the Egyptians) are as different as the British Colonial Rule and the Englishmen."

    125. It is reported of Suddi that he said that the Fir`awn (contemporary to Musa, asws) dreamed that a fire had started from Jerusalem which burned the houses of the Copts in Egypt but spared those of the Israelites. He consulted the leading magicians, fortune tellers, dream interpreters, and priests. They predicted that a man would rise from among those who had come from that land, meaning Palestine, who will destroy the Egyptian kingdom. So he ordered that all the male new born of the Israelites be slaughtered, and the females spared. He also ordered the Israelites to be put to hard labor. But, as the male population of the Israelites dwindled, the leaders of the Coptian community complained to Pharaoh that if he continued killing the Israelites, they would be left with no slaves. He ordered therefore that the male children be slaughtered a year and spared the next. Harun (asws) was born the year they were to spare the male children and Musa (asws) the year they were to be slaughtered (Ibn Jarir).

    126. According to Ibn Jarir and Qurtubi the bala' of the original means a test, or a trial and is used both when the test is through a blessing as well as when it is through an affliction. The example of the first kind of usage is the Qur'anic verse (7: 168):

    وَبَلَوْنَاهُمْ بِالْحَسَنَاتِ وَالسَّيِّئَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

    "And we tested them with both the good things as well as evil in the hope that they will return (to truth)."
    Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Ibn Jurayj therefore, are, as reported by Ibn Jarir, of the opinion that here it means a blessing. The whole verse will then mean: "If you were suffering O children of Israel, at the hands of the people of Fir`awn, who used to slaughter your male children and let live the females, then your deliverance from them, was a great blessing for you from your Lord."
    Zamakhshari (who was an expert linguist) merely mentions both the possibilities (as Alusi does) without stating his own preference. Ibn Kathir's preference is that the word balaa' should be taken in its evil sense. The meaning should thus be, "This slaughtering was a severe test for you from your Lord."

    وَإِذْ فَرَقْنَا بِكُمُ الْبَحْرَ فَأَنْجَيْنَاكُمْ وَأَغْرَقْنَا آلَ فِرْعَوْنَ وَأَنْتُمْ تَنْظُرُونَ (50)

    2|50| And when We divided the sea127 for you, rescued you, and drowned Fir’awn’s folk128 while you were witnessing.129

    127. The word in the original is bahr which is used for any large collection of water. It can therefore mean a river, a lake or a sea. Neither the Qur'an nor a reliable hadith specify this to be the river Nile, the Red Sea or backwaters of the Mediterranean Sea. The Tawrah itself has been so badly disfigured that it cannot be relied upon for anything unless it is corroborated by the Qur'an, hadith or an independent means of enquiry. Western "experts" have worked upon conjectures. Even route maps have been drawn to trace the sojourn of the Israelites from Egypt to Sinai, which, even if they draw curious attention, are as dependable as the route taken by the Phoenicians to Northern America, centuries before Columbus discovered the continent. However, it must have been a sea, as stated by most commentators, to accommodate Fir`awn's huge army. The date also, of Exodus, which has been fixed as 1447 B.C., is as unreliable. Nonetheless, since a people normally preserve the memory of the great events of their past, the Prophet (saws) accepted from the Jews the tenth of Muharram as the day of the crossing. They used to fast on that day to celebrate the event. The Prophet recommended that the Muslims also fast on that day, adding that "we Muslims are morally bound to a greater degree than the Jews to follow Musa (asws)." However, he instructed an additional day's fast, before or after, to oppose the Jews (Au.).

    128. By the term "Aalu Fir`awn" the allusion is to the army which was accompanying Fir`awn in pursuit of the Israelites.

    129. This was another favor shown to the Children of Israel that not only were they delivered from Fir`awn and his folk but also their enemy was destroyed before their eyes (Au).

    وَإِذْ وَاعَدْنَا مُوسَىٰ أَرْبَعِينَ لَيْلَةً ثُمَّ اتَّخَذْتُمُ الْعِجْلَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ وَأَنْتُمْ ظَالِمُونَ (51)

    2|51| Yet, when We appointed for Musa forty nights,130 you took the calf behind him (for worship).131 And you went out of bounds.132

    130. Allah (swt) said "nights" because in Islamic calendar the night precedes the day (Razi).
    Thanwi says: This verse is the basis, as also some ahadith, for the forties prescribed for the saalikin.

    131. This happened after the Israelites had been delivered from Fir`awn and his folk and had entered the Sinai as a free people. They began to make demands on Musa (asws) that they be given the Law and moral precepts which could guide them in their everyday affairs. Musa (asws) made supplications to his Lord. His supplications were answered and he was summoned to Mount Tur to receive the Tawrah. But when he did not return within the time he had promised (since it was extended from 30 to 40 days by Allah), they took to worshipping a calf molded out of gold by a man called Samiri.
    Majid adds: "The Israelites in their impatience during the temporary absence of Moses (peace on him!) had taken to the image worship of a golden calf. The Bible narrates the story of calf worship by the Israelites in great detail (Ex. 32: 1 8). The Qur'an is in substantial agreement with it, except in one very important particular, where the Bible makes the prophet Aaron him of all the people! responsible for this act of outrageous impiety."

    132. This proves that the hulul (a concept of infusion or incarnation held by the ignorant Sufis) is incorrect and impossible. Had it been a possibility, the Israelites would not have been chastised for believing that Allah had taken hulul in the calf, a belief, following which they took to worshipping it (Thanwi).

    ثُمَّ عَفَوْنَا عَنْكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ (52)

    2|52| Nonetheless, We pardoned you over that (crime)133 in the hope that you will give thanks.

    133. That is, the crime was so great that the whole lot of them should have been destroyed root and branch as well as punished in the Hereafter. But Allah in His mercy pardoned them. He prescribed for them only a lighter kind of punishment of which verse 54 speaks. This punishment itself was deferred until Musa (asws) went back to his people. Hence the one verse gap (no. 53) between the verse (no. 52) concerning the "pardon" and the "punishment" mentioned in verse 54 (Au.).
    `Afw of Arabic implies a forgiveness which may or not be accompanied by a punishment inflicted before or after the `afw, as against ghufran which is not accompanied by a punishment (i.e. it is a forgiveness without punishment) Qurtubi.

    وَإِذْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ وَالْفُرْقَانَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ (53)

    2|53| And, (recall) when We gave Musa the Book and the Criterion,134 in order that you may be rightly guided.

    134. By the term "the Book" the allusion of course is to Tawrah, which was revealed to Musa (asws) after the Exodus, as is evident from the story narrated in greater detail in surah al A`raf, and from the verse 43 of surah al Qasas (Ibn Kathir).
    The word al furqan has been used here to qualify "the Book" and stands for something against which other things can be measured, a thing that helps in distinguishing: something that works as the dividing line. "Anything that makes a separation, or distinction, between the truth and falsity. It also means 'proof, or demonstration' (Lane's Lexicon, Majid)."
    Ibn Jarir offers the following explanation: It means, 'We gave Musa the Tawrah which was the criterion of right and wrong... Hence in the verse (8: 41):

    يَوْمَ الْفُرْقَانِ يَوْمَ الْتَقَى الْجَمْعَانِ

    "The day of criterion, the day the two armies met."
    The day of Badr was called the day of al furqan because it helped, through the miraculous victory against all odds, to distinguish between truth and falsehood.
    Thanwi writes: There is room however to believe that by the al furqan the allusion is to miracles, or to the Divine Law which also helps in distinguishing between truth and falsehood.

    وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِ يَا قَوْمِ إِنَّكُمْ ظَلَمْتُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ بِاتِّخَاذِكُمُ الْعِجْلَ فَتُوبُوا إِلَىٰ بَارِئِكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ عِنْدَ بَارِئِكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ (54)

    2|54| And when Musa said to his people, ‘People! You have done a wrong to yourselves by taking the calf (for worship). Now turn to your Lord in repentance and slay one another. This indeed will be better for you in the sight of your Lord.' Then He relented towards you. Indeed He is very Relenting, very Kind.135

    135. The way Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Suddi, Sa`id b. Jubayr and some others understood these verses is as follows. When Musa (asws) came down from Mount Tur, he ordered those that had worshipped the calf to kneel down before those that had not. The latter were armed with swords, daggers and knives. When the two were thus lined up, a blinding darkness settled over them and those with arms were ordered to slaughter those kneeling before them. Thus, they did not know who killed whom. When the killing was stopped, they were all pardoned: both those who had lost their lives in the homicide as well as those who had escaped (Ibn Jarir).

    وَإِذْ قُلْتُمْ يَا مُوسَىٰ لَنْ نُؤْمِنَ لَكَ حَتَّىٰ نَرَى اللَّهَ جَهْرَةً فَأَخَذَتْكُمُ الصَّاعِقَةُ وَأَنْتُمْ تَنْظُرُونَ (55)

    2|55| (Recall) when you said, ‘Musa! We shall never believe in you till we see God openly.' A thunderbolt struck you while you were looking.

    ثُمَّ بَعَثْنَاكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَوْتِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ (56)

    2|56| Then We raised you up after you were dead, that haply you may be thankful.136

    136. The commentators are widely divided over how and when this happened. Thanwi's preference is that this happened when Musa (asws) took with him seventy prominent leaders of the Israelites to Mount Tur for them to hear Allah first hand (swt) speaking to him: something about which they had expressed their misgivings. When they reached the Mount, a cloud engulfed them and they heard Allah (swt) reveal His message to Musa (asws). But when it was over, they began to say that they were not convinced by the voice alone and would not believe until they had seen God Himself. Upon this, a thunderous noise killed them all. Musa (asws) prayed to Allah that since none of them was alive to bear witness to what had happened, he would be blamed for their death. Allah then quickened them all (Au.).
    As these lines were being written, this writer heard a volunteer in Afghanistan describe an incident that took place during the Jihad against the Russians in the eighties of this century. The mujahedeen had to attack a communist post on a hill, which could only be done from another hill opposite to it, but impossible to climb from the rear. If they attempted from the front they came under enemy fire. As they were considering their moves, a cloud came and settled on the hill occupied by the communists obscuring their view of the surrounding area. The piece of cloud stayed so long that the mujahedeen could not fail to notice that it was stationary for quite a while. They began to scale the hill and it was not until they had reached the top, with their guns, RPG’s and small missiles which took a couple of hours that the cloud moved off from the opposite hill. The communists were completely taken by surprise and abandoned the post after a brief resistance.

    وَظَلَّلْنَا عَلَيْكُمُ الْغَمَامَ وَأَنْزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَنَّ وَالسَّلْوَىٰ ۖ كُلُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ ۖ وَمَا ظَلَمُونَا وَلَٰكِنْ كَانُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ (57)

    2|57| (Recall) when We outspread the cloud over you (in Sinai),137 and sent down manna138 and quails139 to you (saying), ‘Eat of the good things We have given you.' And they wronged Us not, but rather, they were wronging themselves.140

    137. This episode had occurred earlier but has been related later. This took place when they were wandering in the Sinai valley and had complained to Musa (asws) about the scorching sun. Allah (swt) sent a piece of cloud that accompanied them wherever they went.

    138. This also happened in the Sinai when the Israelites began to clamor about the shortage of food and water. The Tawrah gives us a glimpse of their impatience with their Prophet: "They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and said to them, `Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger'" (Exodus, 16:1 3).
    Musa (asws) prayed to Allah and He sent manna and partridges. Opinions vary over what exactly was manna. Some believe it was honey, others say it was a kind of a sweetish gum, while others maintain that it was a snow like substance that settled upon trees and on the ground every night as the dew. They could dissolve it in water to drink or make bread on the fire (Au.).
    A hadith recorded by Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Marduwayh and others says:

    عَنْ سَعِيدِ بْنِ زَيْدٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْكَمْأَةُ مِنْ الْمَنِّ وَمَاؤُهَا شِفَاءٌ لِلْعَيْنِ

    "Mushrooms have originated from manna, and its extract is a cure for the (diseases of the) eye" (Ibn Kathir).

    139. These partridges used to settle in thousands every morning and evening near their camps and tents at such a close range that the Israelites could grab them by the hands.

    140. That is, with so many blessings it was expected of them that they would remain faithful to Allah. But, instead, they neglected their duties and indulged in sins (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Thanwi remarks: The verse proves that the bestowal of one material blessing after another, despite repeated sins, is a trial in disguise (istidraj). Many pseudo Sufis are misled by this, believing that the wealth and popularity they enjoy are signs of Allah's approval (of their life and conduct).

    وَإِذْ قُلْنَا ادْخُلُوا هَٰذِهِ الْقَرْيَةَ فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا حَيْثُ شِئْتُمْ رَغَدًا وَادْخُلُوا الْبَابَ سُجَّدًا وَقُولُوا حِطَّةٌ نَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ خَطَايَاكُمْ ۚ وَسَنَزِيدُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ (58)

    2|58| And when We said, ‘Enter this township, and eat thereof as you desire, abundantly, but enter the gate in humility, saying "hittatun,"141 We shall forgive you your sins, and shall increase (the reward of) those who do good.'

    141. Opinions are divided between Jerusalem and Jericho over the town alluded to here. The Israelites were ordered to enter it in humility, chanting the praises of their Lord and seeking His forgiveness for past transgressions and ill behavior towards their Prophet Musa (asws). But they ignored the order and entered the town proud and arrogant. They showed their backs to it and went in dragging themselves on their buttocks as reported in some ahadith (Muslim: Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir). Further, instead of praising their Lord in words they were ordered, they struck a pun on it (saying hintatun instead of hittatun), making it a point of derision and mockery (Au.).
    Ibn Kathir remarks: Compare with this our Prophet's example who entered Makkah after its fall with his head bowed down so low that it almost touched the saddle of the beast he was riding.

    فَبَدَّلَ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا قَوْلًا غَيْرَ الَّذِي قِيلَ لَهُمْ فَأَنْزَلْنَا عَلَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا رِجْزًا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ (59)

    2|59| But the transgressors substituted another word in place of that which they had been ordered; so We let loose upon those that had transgressed a scourge142 from the heavens – because they were defiantly disobeying.

    142. The word in the text for "scourge" is rijz and Ibn `Abbas is reported to have said that every rijz in the Qur'an stands for "punishment." This is also the opinion of Mujahid, Abu Malik, Suddi, Hasan, Qatadah and others. Some others however, like Sa`id b. Jubayr, believe that the allusion here is to plague. In a hadith too the word used for plague is rijz which was inflicted on a certain transgressing nation of the past (Ibn Kathir).

    وَإِذِ اسْتَسْقَىٰ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِ فَقُلْنَا اضْرِبْ بِعَصَاكَ الْحَجَرَ ۖ فَانْفَجَرَتْ مِنْهُ اثْنَتَا عَشْرَةَ عَيْنًا ۖ قَدْ عَلِمَ كُلُّ أُنَاسٍ مَشْرَبَهُمْ ۖ كُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا مِنْ رِزْقِ اللَّهِ وَلَا تَعْثَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ (60)

    2|60| And (recall) when Musa sought water for his people. We said: ‘Strike the stone143 with your staff.' Lo! Gushed forth from it twelve fountains. All the people knew their places of drink. ‘Eat then, and drink from the bounties of Allah and act not corruptly in the earth, spreading mischief.'

    143. This event also occurred in the Sinai when the Israelites ran out of water and made demands on Musa (asws) that he pray to his Lord for relief. Musa (asws) supplicated to Allah. He was asked to strike his rod on a specific stone from which sprang out 12 springs so that each of the twelve tribes could draw water from a specific one. It is reported that from then on they carried the stone (according to one version on a donkey which gives some idea of its size) wherever they went, and Musa (asws) would strike it whenever the need arose. The "al" of "hajr" indicates that it was a specific stone. Some have speculated that it was the same stone that had run away with Musa's clothes in the story alluded to in verse 33 of surah al Ahzab (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Qurtubi).
    No less wondrous, however, was our Prophet's miracle who produced water from flesh and bones. This happened in a campaign when the Muslims numbering about two thousand and five hundred ran out of water. The Prophet (saws) thrust his hand into a pitcher, and water began to gush forth from his fingers (Qurtubi).

    وَإِذْ قُلْتُمْ يَا مُوسَىٰ لَنْ نَصْبِرَ عَلَىٰ طَعَامٍ وَاحِدٍ فَادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُخْرِجْ لَنَا مِمَّا تُنْبِتُ الْأَرْضُ مِنْ بَقْلِهَا وَقِثَّائِهَا وَفُومِهَا وَعَدَسِهَا وَبَصَلِهَا ۖ قَالَ أَتَسْتَبْدِلُونَ الَّذِي هُوَ أَدْنَىٰ بِالَّذِي هُوَ خَيْرٌ ۚ اهْبِطُوا مِصْرًا فَإِنَّ لَكُمْ مَا سَأَلْتُمْ ۗ وَضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الذِّلَّةُ وَالْمَسْكَنَةُ وَبَاءُوا بِغَضَبٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَيَقْتُلُونَ النَّبِيِّينَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ بِمَا عَصَوْا وَكَانُوا يَعْتَدُونَ (61)

    2|61| And when you said: ‘O Musa! We will no longer put up with this monotonous diet.144 Invoke your Lord, therefore, on our behalf145 that He may bring forth for us what the earth produces: green herbs, cucumbers, garlic, lentils, onions.' He said: ‘Would you have that which is meaner in exchange of that which is better? Go down to any town,146 you shall find (therein) what you have asked for.' And humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon them,147 and they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah.148 That because they used to deny Allah's signs and slay149 (His) Messengers without right.150 That because they disobeyed151 and were frequently transgressing.152

    144. According to Qatadah and Abu al `Aliyyah, when the Israelites complained of heat and hunger in the Sinai, Allah sent a cloud that remained stretched over them. He also sent them the manna and the quails which they received daily without any exertion on their part. But very soon they were weary of these things and began to hanker for the variety of foods they relished in Egypt. When they began to pester Musa they were told to go and settle into any town where such things are found aplenty (Ibn Jarir).
    Majid quotes: "'And the Children of Israel also wept again, and said: Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely, and the cucumbers, and the melons, and the onions, and the garlic. But now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all besides this Manna, before our eyes' (Nu.11: 4 6)."

    145. Note the words "call on your Lord on our behalf" (ud`u lana) which suggest little personal attachment on the part of the Israelites, to the Lord, their God, who had rescued them from slavery into freedom and showered blessings on them all the way down from Egypt to the Sinai (Au.).

    146. Although a variant reading of the original has been "misra" which could be interpreted as the land of Egypt that the Israelites had left behind them, the great majority of scholars have, from the earliest times, read it as "misran" as it also appears in all texts, which leaves no possibility but the rendering as "any town" (misr: pl. amsar: a town, dwelling place). Ibn Jarir reports Qatadah, Suddi, Mujahid and Ibn Zayd of this opinion, and himself quotes another verse (no. 21 of al Ma'idah) which proves that it was any town one of the Syrian region, that was meant. Ibn Kathir reports Ibn `Abbas as also of the opinion that the allusion by the term misran is to any town. Nonetheless, the Orientalists of all times (Sale, Rodwell, Palmer, Bell, N.J.Dawood, Arberry) have preferred to stay unanimous over the rendering as "Egypt," perhaps to prove that the Prophet (whose authorship of the Qur'an they were desperate to prove), erred and thought that the Israelites went back to Egypt something the Old Testament would not agree with. Interestingly though, Rashid Rida has shown that there is evidence that the Israelites might have gone back to Egypt. See note 191 of Surah al A`raf of this work for details (Au.).

    147. Majid remarks: "Note that the pronoun 'them' refers to the race of Israel rather than to the Jews as a religious body. Even in the present day anti Semitic agitation (1957), `the Jews are not opposed on account of their religion, but on account of their racial characteristics. As such are mentioned: greed, a special aptitude for money making, aversion to hard work, clannishness and obtrusiveness, lack of social tact, and especially of patriotism. Finally, the term is used to justify resentment for every crime or objectionable act committed by individual Jews' (J.E.I.p. 641)."
    Thanwi remarks: This goes to prove that not to be satisfied with what Allah has ordained for a man is a thing displeasing to Allah. Such as, for instance, the case of a man endowed with tawakkul going about hunting to further the means of sustenance, or that of a man giving up an easy source of income already on hand, in search of something better.

    148. Majid comments: "In the words of a Christian historian, ‘for ages the Hebrew history has been the same everywhere substantially a constant moan, as it were, with variations indeed, but seldom a note in which we miss the quality of agony.' And a leading Jew of today is said to have exclaimed: 'If there are gradations in suffering, Israel has reached its highest acme.' Certainly, there is no history so full of mournful pathos as theirs. And it is instructive, if also pathetic, to note that in the years 1938 39 with all the wealth and commerce and `influence' at their disposal there are incessant references in their press to their `frightful persecutions' and 'the beatings, the murders, the torture, the robbing, the blackmailing, the arrests and imprisonments' and `humiliations, both public and private' that are being perpetrated on them in several parts of `civilized' Europe."
    "Statistics wherever obtainable, show that the proportion of blindness is greater among modern Jews than among their non Jewish neighbors (JE.III, pp.249,250)....As with blindness, Jews...have shown a marked tendency toward deaf mutism in the general proportion, as compared with non Jews, of two to one (IV. p.480). `Among the Jews the proportion of insane has been observed to be very large. From statistics collected by Kushan, he concludes that they are four to six times more liable to mental illness than non Jews' (VI.p.603). `The Jews are more subject to diseases of the nervous system than the other races and peoples among which they dwell. Hysteria and neurasthenia appear to be most frequent. Some physicians of large experience among Jews have even gone so far as to state that most of them are neurasthenic and hysterical. Tobler claims that all the Jewish women in Palestine are hysterical. The Jewish population of that city alone is almost exclusively inexhaustible source for the supply of hysterical males for the clinics of the whole continent' (IX. p.225)."

    149. "This passage obviously refers to a later phase of Jewish history. That the Jews actually did kill some of their prophets is evidenced, for instance, in the story of John the Baptist, as well as in the more general accusation uttered, according to the Gospel, by Jesus: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee" (Matthew xxiii, 37). See also Matthew xxiii, 34 35, Luke xi, 51 both of which refer to the murder of Zachariah and I Thessalonians ii, 15. The implication of continuity in, or persistent repetition of, their wrongdoing transpires from the use of the auxiliary verb kanu in this context" (Asad).
    Majid quotes: "'They mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy.' (2 Ch. 36:16) `Wherefore, will ye plead with me? Ye have all transgressed against me, saith the Lord ... Your own sword hath devoured prophets, like a destroying lion.' (Je. 2:30) `They were disobedient and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs and slew thy prophets.' (Ne. 9:26).' ... `Ye are the children of those which killed the prophets.. Fill ye up then the measures of your father. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify: and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous bloodshed upon the earth from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barchias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar (Mt. 23:31 35)."
    Imam Ahmad reports Ibn Mas`ud as having said that the Prophet said:

    « أَشَدُّ النَّاسِ عَذَاباً يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ رَجُلٌ قَتَلَهُ نَبِىٌّ أَوْ قَتَلَ نَبِيًّا وَإِمَامُ ضَلاَلَةٍ وَمُمَثِّلٌ مِنَ الْمُمَثِّلِينَ »

    "The most severely punished on the day of Judgment would be, (a) a man who was killed by a Prophet, (b) a man who killed a Prophet, (c) a leader who misled his people, and, (d) the sculptor" (Ibn Kathir). The second part of the above hadith is in the Sahihayn also, but the first part is declared weak by Haythami (Au.).

    150. "I.e., wrongful and unjust not only in the sight of God, as the murder of a prophet in any instance is bound to be, but wrongful, unjust and illegal, even according to Israel's own code of law and justice. To take the case of Jesus: He 'was not condemned but he was slain. His martyrdom was no miscarriage of justice, it was a murder' (Rosadi, Trial of Jesus, p.301). 'In this trial was a violence done to the forms and rules of Hebrew as well as to the principles of justice.' (Innes, Trial of Jesus Christ, p.35)" Majid.

    151. "For the uniformly rebellious attitude of Israel towards their greatest leader and benefactor, Prophet Moses, compare and consult their national historian Josephus: 'They were very angry at their conductor Moses and were zealous in their attempt to stone him as the direct occasion of their present miseries.' ("And." III. 1:3) '... the multitude were irritated and bitterly set against him.' (1:4) `They again turned their anger against Moses, but he at first avoided the fury of the multitude...' (1:7) `The multitude began again to be mutinous and blame Moses for the misfortunes they had suffered in their travels.' (13:1) 'The multitude therefore became still more unruly and more mutinous against Moses than before.' And Moses 'was abused by them.' (13:1) 'They again blamed Moses and made a clamor against him and his brother Aaron ... They passed that night very ill and with contumacious language against them: but in the morning they ran to a congregation intending to stone Moses and Aaron, and so to return to Egypt.' (14:3) '... notwithstanding the indignities they had offered their legislator and the laws and their disobedience to the commandments which He had sent them by Moses.' (IV. 2:1) `When forty years were completed, Moses gathered the congregation together near Jordan ... and all the people being come together he spoke thus to them: .... `you know that I have been oftener in danger of death from you than from our enemies' (8: 1 2)" Majid.

    152. "The Bible abounds in doleful narratives of their rebellion and revolt. To give only a few such extracts out of many: 'Remember and forget not, how thou provoked the Lord thy God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the Lord. Also in Horab ye provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry with you to have destroyed you. When I was gone up in the Mount to receive the tablets of stone ... the Lord said unto me: ... thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image. Furthermore the Lord spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff necked people. Let me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven.' (Dt. 9: 7 13) 'Ye rebelled against the commandment of the Lord, your God, and ye believed him not, nor hearkened to his voice. Ye have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I know you.' (23 24) 'I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I (Moses) am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death? ... I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you and evil will befall you in the latter days: because ye will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands' (31: 27 29)" Majid.

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالنَّصَارَىٰ وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ (62)

    2|62| Verily, those who believed, as also the Jews,153 the Christians,154 and the Sabians155 whosoever believed in Allah and the Hereafter, and worked righteousness for such is their reward with their Lord.156 They shall neither fear nor shall they grieve.

    153. "The correct rendering of (alladhina hadu) can only be 'those who are Judaised or those who have become Jews.' 'It is for the first time that the Qur'an speaks of the 'Jew' as distinct from the 'children of Israel.' The two terms, though frequently used as synonymous, are not exactly coextensive or interchangeable. Israelites are a race, a nation, a people, a huge family, sons of a particular progenitor, conscious and proud of their high lineage. Jews are a religious community, a church, believers in particular tenets, members of a certain faith. The Holy Qur'an, regardful of the niceties of expression, has always observed this distinction. When speaking of the religious beliefs and practices of the Hebrews and those who had adopted their faith, it uses the term 'Jew': when alluding to their history and their national traits it keeps mentioning 'the children of Israel.' The Israelites ceased to exist as a nation with the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70, and thenceforth they became a purely religious community. Many of the Arabs had, by the advent of Islam, adopted the Jewish faith and usage. Hence the significance of the Qur'anic expression 'those who are Judaised.' 'The children of Israel,' so frequently addressed in the Qur'an, says D.S. Margoliouth, 'were merely Arab tribes made Israelite by conversion.' (Torrey, Jewish Foundation of Islam, p.23) Most of the Arab Jews, like the Jews of Abyssinia, seem not to have been genuine children of Israel, but native converts to Judaism.' (HHW. VIII. p. 10) 'Judging by their proper nouns and the Aramaean vocabulary used in their agricultural life, these Jews must have been mostly Judaised clans of Arabian and Aramaean stock, though the nucleus may have been Israelites who fled from Palestine at the time of its conquest by the Romans, in the first century after Christ.' (Hitti, op.cit. p. 104)" Majid.

    154. "(Nasara) is, in its proper sense, 'Nazarenes,' not Christians. A Nasrani is 'a Nazarene' in its original meaning and a Christian only 'in its secondary application.' (LL) Nazarene is derived from 'Nazareth,' the place where Jesus passed his youth. The Nazarenes or the primitive Christians were the followers of the original pre Pauline church, not quite like the present day Christians of the Pauline variety. Nor is the title `in itself disparaging.' (EBi. c. 3356) Rather, 'it was a primitive designation for Christians.' (ERE. II p. 374)" Majid.

    155. Opinions vary over identity of the Sabians of this verse. Mujahid and Ibn Zayd believe that the allusion is to anyone who does not follow any of the well known religions of the world. It is in this sense that the Quraysh used to refer to the Prophet (saws) as a Sabe'i: since he did not follow either Judaism, Christianity, or the pagan religion of the Quraysh. Qatadah and Abu al `Aliyyah are of the opinion that those of the contemporaries of the Prophet (saws) are meant who inhabited the Southern Iraqi region, followed the Zabur, prayed five times a day but worshipped angels (Ibn Jarir).
    Asad says: "The Sabians seem to have been a monotheistic religious group intermediate between Judaism and Christianity. Their name (probably derived from the Aramaic verb tsebha`, 'he immersed himself [in water'] would indicate that they were followers of John the Baptist in which case they could be identified with the Mandaeans, a community which to this day is to be found in Iraq. They are not to be confused with the so called 'Sabians of Harran', a Gnostic sect which still existed in the early centuries of Islam, and which may have deliberately adopted the name of the true Sabians in order to obtain the advantages accorded by the Muslims to the followers of every monotheistic faith."
    Majid quotes: "They 'practiced the rite of baptism after birth, before marriage and on various other occasions. They inhabited the lower plains of Babylonia, and as a sect they go back to the first century after Christ ... Mentioned thrice in the Koran, these Babylonian Sabians acquired a dhimmi status and were classified by Moslems as `protected' sect ... The community still survives to the number of five thousand in the swampy lands near al Basrah' (Hitti)."

    156. The reason for the revelation of this verse has been given in a hadith recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim (a second is related by Suddi, and a third by Sa`id ibn Jubayr), in which Salman al Farsi says he asked the Prophet about those of the people of the Book in whose company he happened to have spent a lot of time in Persia and other places prior to the Prophet's appearance. They were devoted to God, prayed and fasted, and were anticipating the appearance of the Final Prophet. What about them? What's likely to be their destination after death? Initially, the Prophet said they would go to Hellfire. But Allah (swt) revealed this verse. And the Prophet's concluding remarks were: "Whoever followed Christianity, submitting himself to Allah, and died before I appeared, would be granted salvation. But if he heard of me but would not believe in me, he will be denied salvation."
    After reporting these ahadith, Ibn Jarir and Ibn Kathir explain that what is meant is that those who believed in Musa (asws), for instance, and did good works will inherit Paradise. But after the appearance of `Isa (asws) it became necessary for them to believe in him along with Musa to achieve salvation. Similarly, with the appearance of our Prophet, Muhammad (saws), it became incumbent upon them to have faith in him along with `Isa and Musa for their devotion to be acceptable to Allah who demands belief in all of His Prophets without exception (Au.).
    Majid writes: "Right belief and right conduct are the only sine qua non of salvation which every individual has thus in his own hands. Howsoever grave his disbelief or misconduct in the past, he is not past redemption. If he only accepts God's truth, and obeys His laws, however late in life, blessings both of this world and the Next are his. Not even the Jews with their centuries old record of crime and corruption, depravity and rebellion, are debarred from Allah's All embracing grace and mercy: provided they mend their ways."
    A contemporary commentator remarks: "The above passage which recurs in the Qur'an several times lays down a fundamental doctrine of Islam. With a breadth of vision unparalleled in any other religious faith, the idea of 'salvation' is here made conditional upon three elements only: belief in God, belief in the Day of Judgment, and righteous action in life."
    However, the introduction of the word 'only' in the above quotation can lead to some misunderstanding. Salvation does not depend on these three elements only. Belief in "the Prophet of the time" is an integral part of the system. The Prophet (saws) has said: "Even if Musa was alive, there would be no recourse for him but to follow me" (Au.).

    وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَكُمْ وَرَفَعْنَا فَوْقَكُمُ الطُّورَ خُذُوا مَا آتَيْنَاكُمْ بِقُوَّةٍ وَاذْكُرُوا مَا فِيهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ (63)

    2|63| And (recall) when We took a compact with you and raised the Tur over your heads (saying): ‘Hold fast unto that which We have given you; and be mindful of that which is therein, haply that you may become godfearing'.

    ثُمَّ تَوَلَّيْتُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ ۖ فَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ لَكُنْتُمْ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ (64)

    2|64| Yet, you turned away thereafter. Had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy, surely you would have been of the losers.157

    157. The story behind this is that the Israelites made frequent demands on Musa that they be given a holy writ from which they could draw guidance for their lives. Aware of their rebellious nature, he advised them not to ask for something that they might or might not follow. But they insisted. So Musa took a firm compact from them that if revealed they would follow it to the best of their ability. Then he prayed to Allah (swt), who ordered him to spend 40 days and nights on Mount Tur: in complete seclusion, praying, fasting and preparing himself in other ways to receive the revelation. However, when he came down with the revelation and read it out to the Israelites, they went back on their promise. They said that the teachings and the laws therein were too difficult to follow. Now, Allah does not impose His religion on anyone. But in this case, since it was they who had demanded the Book, Mount Tur was raised over them and they were told: 'Either accept it or you will be destroyed.' So they accepted it willy nilly and promised that they would abide by it. Nonetheless, later they began to lead a life which was in total defiance of its teachings. (Based on opinions of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ata', `Ikrimah, Hasan al Busri, Dahhak, Rabi` b. Anas as reported by Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Qurtubi, and others).
    Toeing the line of the "rationalists," some commentators of this century tend to express that this raising of the Mount Tur was not real, rather, "it was made to look like it." But such an interpretation defies a general principle of tafsir set by the scholars, viz.: whenever the apparent meaning is clearly worded, the metaphorical or figurative derivation is ruled out. In this case the Qur'an is very clear about Mount Tur being raised over their heads. In surah al A`raf, verse 171, the addition of the words "as if it was an umbrella" leaves no room for doubt.
    Majid adds: "That the mount was actually inverted over the Israelites is what is expressly narrated in the Talmud. `The holy One, blessed be He, inverted mount Sinai over them like a huge vessel and declared, ‘If you accept the Tawrah, well and good; if not, here shall be your sepulcher.' (JE. IV, 321):
    Qurtubi quotes Sha`bi and Ibn `Uyayna as saying: "Whenever it is said, 'Read the Book,' the meaning is that one must live by its dictates and implement its teachings, rather than recite it beautifully and then forget all about its teachings. He quotes a hadith from Nasa'i which says that the Prophet (saws) said:

    وَإِنَّ مِنْ شَرِّ النَّاسِ رَجُلا فَاجِرًا يَقْرَأُ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ لا يَرْعَوِي إِلَى شَيْءٍ مِنْهُ

    "The worst of the people is the corrupt man who reads the Qur'an but pays no attention to its commandments."
    The authenticity of the above report could not be established (Au.).
    According to another hadith of Tirmidhi, Qurtubi continues, the Prophet (saws) once looked up at the heaven and said:

    عَنْ أَبِي الدَّرْدَاءِ قَالَ كُنَّا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَشَخَصَ بِبَصَرِهِ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ ثُمَّ قَالَ هَذَا أَوَانُ يُخْتَلَسُ الْعِلْمُ مِنْ النَّاسِ حَتَّى لا يَقْدِرُوا مِنْهُ عَلَى شَيْءٍ فَقَالَ زِيَادُ بْنُ لَبِيدٍ الأَنْصَارِيُّ كَيْفَ يُخْتَلَسُ مِنَّا وَقَدْ قَرَأْنَا الْقُرْآنَ فَوَاللَّهِ لَنَقْرَأَنَّهُ وَلَنُقْرِئَنَّهُ نِسَاءَنَا وَأَبْنَاءَنَا فَقَالَ ثَكِلَتْكَ أُمُّكَ يَا زِيَادُ إِنْ كُنْتُ لأَعُدُّكَ مِنْ فُقَهَاءِ أَهْلِ الْمَدِينَةِ هَذِهِ التَّوْرَاةُ وَالإِنْجِيلُ عِنْدَ الْيَهُودِ وَالنَّصَارَى فَمَاذَا تُغْنِي عَنْهُمْ (قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ)

    "The time is close when knowledge will be withdrawn from the people." Ziyad b. Labid who was present enquired: "How will that happen O Messenger of Allah, when we recite the Qur'an and teach it to our children?" The Prophet (saws) replied: "Woe unto you Ziyad. I though you were one of the intelligent men of Madinah. Here are the Jews and Christians who recite their Scriptures, but it avails them not aught?"
    Qurtubi also quotes `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud telling another man: "You are in a world in which there are many men of knowledge, but few reciters. The Qur'anic injunctions are closely followed though its letters are in neglect. Few are there who ask, but many who give. They lengthen their Prayers and shorten their sermons. They put the word of command into action and keep their desires under control. But a time will come when there will be many reciters of the Qur'an, but few who will understand it. They will know its word but neglect its demand. Many will ask but few will give. They will lengthen their sermons and shorten their Prayers. They will begin with their base desires before they would attempt (anything good)."

    وَلَقَدْ عَلِمْتُمُ الَّذِينَ اعْتَدَوْا مِنْكُمْ فِي السَّبْتِ فَقُلْنَا لَهُمْ كُونُوا قِرَدَةً خَاسِئِينَ (65)

    2|65| And you know well of those of you who broke the Sabbath.158 We said unto them: ‘Be apes, despised and hated'.

    158. Majid writes: "The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week (Saturday), which in the Jewish law was to be devoted exclusively to religious observances, and a cessation of almost all the principal activities of life, such as field labour, business, cooking, hunting, was imperative: and the penalty of profaning the sacred day was death. `Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: everyone that defileth it shall surely be put to death'" (Ex. 31: 14)."
    Qurtubi quotes from Nasa'i who recorded the following:

    عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ سَلَمَةَ عَنْ صَفْوَانَ بْنِ عَسَّالٍ قَالَ، قَالَ يَهُودِيٌّ لِصَاحِبِهِ اذْهَبْ بِنَا إِلَى هَذَا النَّبِيِّ قَالَ لَهُ صَاحِبُهُ لا تَقُلْ نَبِيٌّ لَوْ سَمِعَكَ كَانَ لَهُ أَرْبَعَةُ أَعْيُنٍ فَأَتَيَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَسَأَلاهُ عَنْ تِسْعِ آيَاتٍ بَيِّنَاتٍ فَقَالَ لَهُمْ لا تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَلا تَسْرِقُوا وَلا تَزْنُوا وَلا تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلا بِالْحَقِّ وَلا تَمْشُوا بِبَرِيءٍ إِلَى ذِي سُلْطَانٍ وَلا تَسْحَرُوا وَلا تَأْكُلُوا الرِّبَا وَلا تَقْذِفُوا الْمُحْصَنَةَ وَلا تَوَلَّوْا يَوْمَ الزَّحْفِ وَعَلَيْكُمْ خَاصَّةً يَهُودُ أَنْ لا تَعْدُوا فِي السَّبْتِ فَقَبَّلُوا يَدَيْهِ وَرِجْلَيْهِ وَقَالُوا نَشْهَدُ أَنَّكَ نَبِيٌّ قَالَ فَمَا يَمْنَعُكُمْ أَنْ تَتَّبِعُونِي قَالُوا إِنَّ دَاوُدَ دَعَا بِأَنْ لا يَزَالَ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِهِ نَبِيٌّ وَإِنَّا نَخَافُ إِنْ اتَّبَعْنَاكَ أَنْ تَقْتُلَنَا يَهُودُ

    Safwan b. `Assal said to another Jew, "Come. Let's go to this Prophet." The man said, "Don't use the word 'the Prophet,' for he may hear you. He has four eyes." They proceeded to the Prophet (saws) and asked him about the nine commandments. He told them: "Do not assign partners unto Allah, do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not kill a person unless by law, do not hand over to the ruler one who has not committed a crime, do not indulge in magic, do not take interest, do not slander a woman, do not run away from the battle field, and for you especially, O Jews do not break the Sabbath." They kissed his hands and said: "We testify that you are a Prophet." "What prevents you from following me then?" he asked. "Because," they said, "David had supplicated to Allah that Prophethood remain in his progeny. Further, we are afraid the Jews will kill us if we followed you." Tirmidhi has also reported this hadith rating it as a trustworthy one.

    فَجَعَلْنَاهَا نَكَالًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهَا وَمَا خَلْفَهَا وَمَوْعِظَةً لِلْمُتَّقِينَ (66)

    2|66| And We made it an example to their own and to succeeding generations and an admonition for the godfearing.159

    159. The story behind this episode, as narrated by Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Suddi, `Ata', Abu al `Aliyyah, is as follows. Allah (swt) appointed for the Israelites Friday as the weekly day of rest and devotional acts. But they argued with Musa (asws) and got the day changed to Saturday. That granted, they were asked to observe complete abstinence on that day from all economic activity, pleasures, and devote themselves to religious observances. But they broke the Sabbath in a variety of ways. A group of them who lived somewhere in Ailah or Eylah (near the modern town of Aqabah), at the tip of the Sinai, which was a fishing community at the time of Da'ud (asws), was ordered not to fish on Saturdays. But it would so happen and this was a test of their faith that the fish would appear in thick shoals just on the surface of water on Saturdays, but disappear on other days. Finally, the Israelites could not resist. They thought they would break the Sabbath and keep it. One of the strategies they adopted was to dig large holes near the sea connecting them with a thin line of water. When the fish showed up on Saturdays, and went across from the main waters to the holes, pushed forward by the tide, they plugged the path of return. Then they returned the next day to collect the trapped fish.
    This deceptive act divided them into three groups to the extent that they divided their village into three camps. One that committed the deception, the other that warned them against it, and a third that stayed aloof of the two. When the deceptive practice continued, one night Allah (swt) sent His scourge which transformed the tricksters into apes who all died within three days. The punishment became an example of Allah's scourge on those who try to deceive Him. The story narrated briefly in surah al A`raf, verses 162 166, speaks of those who used to prohibit as having being spared the punishment, while the fate of the third group goes unmentioned Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir.
    Majid says: "There is a similar tradition of a tribe becoming baboon in certain primitive communities like the Zulus (PC. I. p. 376). (And) the scornful epithet (khase'in) strikes at the root of monkey adoration and Hanuman worship of several polytheistic people."
    Mujahid, however, is reported to have said that the transformation was not real; only their hearts were transformed. But Ibn Jarir and Ibn Kathir reject the opinion on grounds that the great majority of authorities before and after him have accepted the literal meaning of the Qur'anic text here.
    That the story goes unmentioned in Jewish literature does not make its occurrence any less plausible. It may be recalled that when the Prophet (saws) laid siege to the forts of Banu Qurayzah he called out to them, saying:

    "يا إخوان القردة ويا إخوان الخنازير ويا عبدة الطاغوت" فقالوا: من أخبر هذا محمدا؟

    "Listen, you cousins of apes and swine." The Jews turned to each other at the top of the wall and exclaimed: "Who informed Muhammad of this?" (Ibn Kathir, al Baqarah, verse 76).
    Ibn Kathir reports a hadith recorded in Irwa' al Ghaleel narrated by Abu Hurayrah (ra) in which the Prophet (saws) said: "Do not do as the Jews used to do: making the unlawful lawful by devious means."
    Interestingly, the National Geographic Magazine reports in one of its articles that in the modern day Israel, where the Rabbis have declared even the operation of an elevator as a breach of the Sabbath, the Jews set the elevator switches in such a manner, that from Friday evening until the next evening the lifts are operative all the time with the small inconvenience of halts at every floor.

    وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تَذْبَحُوا بَقَرَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَتَّخِذُنَا هُزُوًا ۖ قَالَ أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ (67)

    2|67| And (recall) when Musa said to his people: ‘Allah commands you to slaughter a cow.'160 They said: ‘Do you take us in mockery?' He said: ‘I seek Allah's refuge that I should be one of the ignorant.'

    160. This is an episode from the history of the Israelites which depicts the national character of a people who listened to their Prophets but half seriously, followed the Law but unwillingly, and obeyed their God but dispiritedly.
    The story behind it, as told by the first generation scholars, who probably relied on Jewish sources, is that a man was the sole heir to his very rich uncle. He killed him in order to inherit his wealth, threw his body in the neighborhood of another tribe, and began to make noise about justice, revenge and so forth. Arguments ensued between his tribe and the one alleged to be involved in the murder, leading to the drawing of swords when someone suggested that Musa be asked to intervene and give his judgment. When the case was referred to him he ordered them to slaughter a cow. They thought he was joking. But Prophets are dead earnest. So they decided they would slaughter it after all. But, like all those who care little for true piety, (which consists in immediate execution of an order in good spirit), and more for outward forms, (which is the reason of narration of this story in the Qur'an), they began to seek details, which, they should have known, cannot add elegance and beauty to a religious act if the spirit is lacking. Nonetheless, the details they asked for were provided so that, ultimately, it was as if the finger was placed precisely on a particular cow owned by an old woman. She in turn, when she learned that nothing short of her cow would do to meet a certain religious requirement, set an exorbitant price. Some versions suggest they had to weigh the beast in gold. They had no choice but to cough out the price. After all, they had originally been told to slaughter any cow. They could have grabbed the nearest one and be finished with it. But they kept seeking details that made the affair difficult for themselves. In any case, they slaughtered the cow. The corpse was struck with a piece of its flesh and the man rose up. He told the people who the real murderer was, and died again (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir and others).

    قَالُوا ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّنْ لَنَا مَا هِيَ ۚ قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ لَا فَارِضٌ وَلَا بِكْرٌ عَوَانٌ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ ۖ فَافْعَلُوا مَا تُؤْمَرُونَ (68)

    2|68| They said: ‘Ask your Lord to make plain to us what (kind of a cow) is she to be.' He said: ‘Your Lord says she may be a cow neither old, nor too young: middling between the two. Therefore, do as you are ordered.'

    قَالُوا ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّنْ لَنَا مَا لَوْنُهَا ۚ قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ صَفْرَاءُ فَاقِعٌ لَوْنُهَا تَسُرُّ النَّاظِرِينَ (69)

    2|69| They said: ‘Ask your Lord to make plain to us what is her color.' He said: ‘He says she should be a golden colored cow, shining bright and pleasing to the observers.'

    قَالُوا ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّنْ لَنَا مَا هِيَ إِنَّ الْبَقَرَ تَشَابَهَ عَلَيْنَا وَإِنَّا إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَمُهْتَدُونَ (70)

    2|70| They said: ‘Ask your Lord to make plain to us what she is (like). Indeed, the cow has become confusing to us. And Allah willing161 we should be rightly guided.'

    161. Ibn `Abbas said: Had they not added insha Allah, the cow would never have been described to their satisfaction (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Zamakhshari).

    قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ لَا ذَلُولٌ تُثِيرُ الْأَرْضَ وَلَا تَسْقِي الْحَرْثَ مُسَلَّمَةٌ لَا شِيَةَ فِيهَا ۚ قَالُوا الْآنَ جِئْتَ بِالْحَقِّ ۚ فَذَبَحُوهَا وَمَا كَادُوا يَفْعَلُونَ (71)

    2|71| He said: ‘He says she shall be a cow not broken to plough the earth or to water the tillage, whole and without blemish.' They said: ‘Now162 you have brought the true (description).' Finally, they slaughtered her, although, they did not seem to be anywhere near about doing it.163

    162. "Now?!" As if it was not clear right in the beginning that all that was required was the slaughtering of an unspecified cow. Further, even when they had raised the first foolish question: "Ask your Lord to let us know what (kind of a cow) is she to be," Musa (asws) had told them not to be fussy about it, rather: "Do as you are ordered (and slaughter any cow)." Their questioning then was not because it was really unclear to them as to what kind of a cow was being demanded, rather, because they did not want to slaughter one. Probably, their reluctance stemmed from the concept of "holiness" of the cow that they had acquired through their long stay with the Egyptians who worshipped it. It was perhaps this influence that had led them to heifer worship during Musa's absence.
    Further, as some commentators have pointed out, it is possible that although the murder became the occasion, the cow was chosen for slaughter shockingly to them because of their reverence for it. Hence the initial reaction: "Are you joking?" The concept of holiness of the cow, however, could not be slaughtered with the slaughtering of the animal. The worship of the Ba`l (a local deity) and the Bull figures again and again in the history of the Jews. See for instance 1 Kings, 16: 32; 2 Kings, 21: 3. In 1 Kings (18: 25) Prophet Elijah laments in words: ".. Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under?" (Au.).

    163. In contrast, the Companions of the Prophet (saws) asked him few questions, following his advice to leave him alone as long as he left them alone. But when they were ordered to do a thing, they hastened to act, unmindful of the consequences. It is reported of a Companion that as he was approaching the mosque he heard the Prophet (saws) say: "Sit down." He sat down right on the road in the dirt, although, apparently the Prophet had addressed those within the mosque (Au.).
    Zamakhshari notes: A hadith says that the vilest of men is the one who enquired (a Prophet) about a thing that had not been declared unlawful, but the unlawfulness of which came to light because of his enquiry.
    Asad adds: "... their obstinate desire to obtain closer and closer definition of the simple commandment revealed to them through Moses had made it almost impossible for them to fulfill it. In his commentary on this passage, Tabari quotes the following remark of Ibn `Abbas: 'If [in the first instance] they had sacrificed any cow chosen by themselves, they would have fulfilled their duty; but they made it complicated for themselves, and so God made it complicated for them.' A similar view has been expressed, in the same context, by Zamakhshari. It would appear that the moral of this story points to an important problem of all (and, therefore, also of Islamic) religious jurisprudence: namely, the inadvisability of trying to elicit additional details in respect of any religious law that had originally been given in general terms for, the more numerous and multiform such details become the more complicated and rigid becomes the law. This point has been acutely grasped by Rashid Rida, who says in his commentary on the above Qur'anic passage (see Manar I, 345f): 'Its lesson is that one should not pursue one's [legal] inquiries in such a way as to make laws more complicated...This was how the early generations [of Muslims] visualized the problem. They did not make things complicated for themselves and so, for them, the religious law (din) was natural, simple and liberal in its straightforwardness."

    وَإِذْ قَتَلْتُمْ نَفْسًا فَادَّارَأْتُمْ فِيهَا ۖ وَاللَّهُ مُخْرِجٌ مَا كُنْتُمْ تَكْتُمُونَ (72)

    2|72| And when you murdered a person and then contended among yourselves over the issue,164 but Allah was to bring out that which you were concealing.165

    164. The incident of the Israelite's murder had, according to most commentators, preceded the order to slaughter the cow, but as the story is not important, rather the lesson, the sequence was altered. Zamakhshari gives another reason for the change in the sequence. The unwillingness of the Israelites to do the bidding of their Lord is one story with one lesson; and the murder of a man and then what followed is another story with several other lessons. Now, if they both had been stated in one sequence, they would have sounded like one story, while in actual fact they are two episodes with two different sets of lessons to be drawn; hence the change in the sequence.

    165. That is, Allah was to expose the murderer whom a group of the Israelites were trying to shield.

    فَقُلْنَا اضْرِبُوهُ بِبَعْضِهَا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُحْيِي اللَّهُ الْمَوْتَىٰ وَيُرِيكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ (73)

    2|73| So We said: ‘Strike him with a part of her.'166 That is how He will quicken the dead. He shows His signs to you haply that you will think.

    166. That is, touch a part of the cow with the murdered man's corpse.
    Zamakhshari raises a question: "It may be argued, why Allah did not quicken the man without involving the slaughtering of the cow?" Then he answers that in the adoption of means and in attaching conditions to it are reasons and benefits (that cannot be obtained otherwise). First, the slaughtering of the cow by the command of Allah was a means to gain His nearness (which is obtained by doing Allah's bidding). Second, to teach the lesson that when one is ordered to do something, it should be done well. Third, to impress on the slaves of Allah that when one is ordered to do something, he should hasten to act, and not seek details that may make it harder for him to act. Fourth, to help the orphan (who owned the cow). Fifth, for the ignorant not to treat the words of the wise as mockery, (as the Israelites did when Musa (asws) ordered them to slaughter the cow). Sixth, for the man seeking nearness to Allah by his offerings to choose the best that he can offer, as is reported of Ibn `Umar that he used to select an animal best of its kind and the most expensive for sacrifice. And seventh, to demonstrate that in the final analysis it is the One who controls the means that is Himself important and not the means themselves, for it is only death that can be obtained from the dead (but Allah gave life to one dead, through the touch of another).

    ثُمَّ قَسَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ فَهِيَ كَالْحِجَارَةِ أَوْ أَشَدُّ قَسْوَةً ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنَ الْحِجَارَةِ لَمَا يَتَفَجَّرُ مِنْهُ الْأَنْهَارُ ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَشَّقَّقُ فَيَخْرُجُ مِنْهُ الْمَاءُ ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَهْبِطُ مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ (74)

    2|74| But your hearts hardened thereafter so that they are as if of stones or even harder;167 while there are stones from which springs gush forth, and there are some of them that split and water issues from them, and yet there are some that fall to the ground in Allah's fear.168 Surely, Allah is not unaware of what you do.

    167. "They (the hearts) are as if of stones or even harder:" that is, they are all not the same in hardness, rather some are like stones, while some others harder, such as iron (Alusi).

    168. Is the comparison of the hardness of hearts with the stones real or figurative? According to Qurtubi there is no reason to believe that it is figurative since it is quite possible that the stones fear the Lord. After all we have authentic ahadith confirming feelings attributed to lifeless things, as in the hadith of Muslim in which the Prophet (saws) said:

    عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ سَمُرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِنِّي لَأَعْرِفُ حَجَرًا بِمَكَّةَ كَانَ يُسَلِّمُ عَلَيَّ قَبْلَ أَنْ أُبْعَثَ

    "I know the rock that used to greet me in Makkah those days when I had not been addressed by Allah yet."
    It is also reported of the date palm trunk on which the Prophet (saws) used to recline during his sermons in the Madinan Mosque that it began to cry when the Prophet (saws) abandoned it in favor of a column. To this Ibn Kathir adds that we know of the hadith in which the Prophet said about Mount Uhud:

    عَنْ عَبَّاسٍ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ أُحُدٌ جَبَلٌ يُحِبُّنَا وَنُحِبُّهُ - صحيح البخاري

    "This Mount loves us and we love it." Allah (swt) Himself says in the Qur'an (33: 72):

    إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ

    "And We offered this Trust unto the heavens and the earth, but they declined," and (17: 44):

    تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ السَّمَاوَاتُ السَّبْعُ وَالأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ

    "The seven heavens and all that they contain sing His Glory."
    Sayyid Qutb writes: "Further, weren't they the witness to the springing forth of twelve streams from a stone?"
    Commenting on the stones from which gush forth springs, those that split and water issues from them, and those that fall to the ground in Allah's fear, Majid states: "A beautiful description, in parable, of three grades of a righteous people:
    (a) those who do universal good, such as the prophets (like big rivers in their beneficence).
    (b) those whose outlook is not so broad, yet who do immense service within their limited sphere, such as the saints and martyrs (like smaller streams and rivulets); and,
    (c) those who are true and faithful at least to their own selves: the general community of the faithful (like stones which are impressionable)."

    أَفَتَطْمَعُونَ أَنْ يُؤْمِنُوا لَكُمْ وَقَدْ كَانَ فَرِيقٌ مِنْهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ كَلَامَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ يُحَرِّفُونَهُ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا عَقَلُوهُ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ (75)

    2|75| Do you then (O Muslims) entertain the hopes that these (people) will believe in you,169 while a party of them used to hear the words of Allah and then tamper with them170 after they had well comprehended them and they knew?171

    169. "Here the Muslims are addressed. In the early period of Islam and especially after their exodus to Medina, where many Jews were then living the Muslims expected that the Jews, with their monotheistic beliefs, would be the first to rally to the message of the Qur'an: a hope that was disappointed because the Jews regarded their own religion as a kind of national heritage reserved to the children of Israel alone, and did not believe in the necessity or possibility of a new revelation" (Asad).

    170. That is, they used to tamper with the meaning and interpretation of the words, not because of any ambiguity, but after they had well understood the purport (Zamakhshari). It is reported of Ibn Zayd that he said: They used to declare the lawful unlawful and vice versa and declare the truth as falsehood and falsehood as the truth. So that, when someone approached them with bribes seeking judgment in a case in which he was not in the right, they read from the Scriptures to demonstrate how the right was on his side. But when he did not offer them bribes, they ruled without the need to look into them. It is the rabbis, therefore, who have been alluded to as those who committed these crimes (Ibn Jarir).

    171. This means that they knew of their crimes but vainly hoped that they would be let off easily.
    Majid comments: "I.e., their act of perverting their text was deliberate and with a set purpose, so that far from being ashamed of it they were proud of their performance."

    وَإِذَا لَقُوا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قَالُوا آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَا بَعْضُهُمْ إِلَىٰ بَعْضٍ قَالُوا أَتُحَدِّثُونَهُمْ بِمَا فَتَحَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لِيُحَاجُّوكُمْ بِهِ عِنْدَ رَبِّكُمْ ۚ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ (76)

    2|76| These, when they fall in with those who have believed, say, ‘We have (also) believed.'172 But when some of them are in privy with the others they reproach them: ‘Do you disclose to these (Muslims) what God has revealed to you, so that they will dispute with you thereby before your Lord?173 Do you not think?'

    172. This refers to the Jewish response to the Companions. When they asked them the basis for their rejection of the Prophet, although he had all the signs on him that the Jews narrated as prophesied in their Scriptures. The Jews would answer that they too had an inkling that he could be a true Prophet. But if that was so, then he seemed to have been sent to the Arabs alone. However, when they met better knowing Jews they would be reproached for having conceded even that little (Ibn Kathir). That does not rule out other religious matters that came under discussion when the Jews sat in the company of Muslims. In those sessions they disclosed some Scriptural information, but it met with the disapproval of their religious authorities (Qurtubi).
    Interestingly, even today the Talmud is not available openly, although books dealing with "some" of its aspects and subjects are in no short circulation. Indeed, were it not for the Christians, even the Old Testament would not have seen the light of the day (Au.).

    173. With reference to the words, "Do you disclose?" Mujahid reports that when Banu Qurayzah were besieged by the Prophet and his followers, the Prophet addressed them from the foot of the fort in words:

    يا إخوان القردة والخنازير، ويا عبدة الطاغوت فقالوا من أخبر بهذا الأمر محمداً؟ ما خرج هذا القول إلا منكم.‏

    "Ye the brothers of monkeys and swine", and, "Ye the worshippers of false gods," the Jews turned to each other over the wall and exclaimed in amazement: "Who passed this information on to Muhammad? This information has not gone out but from you." (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    The last phrase of the verse: "Before your Lord" has also been interpreted by Hasan al Busri as: "in matters concerning your Lord" (Zamakhshari and Qurtubi). The verse would then mean: 'Do you disclose matters concerning your Lord, without realizing that the Muslims will use them in arguments against you to beat you on your own grounds?'
    Majid writes: "This is how the more obdurate among the Jews remonstrated with their co religionists for opening their hearts to the Muslims. The allusion is to such matters as prophecies about the Prophet of Islam and any other information that the Muslims might have made use of and that might have proved damaging to the cause of Jewish unreason."

     

    أَوَلَا يَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا يُسِرُّونَ وَمَا يُعْلِنُونَ (77)

    2|77| Do they not know that Allah is aware of what they conceal and what they reveal?

    وَمِنْهُمْ أُمِّيُّونَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا أَمَانِيَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَظُنُّونَ (78)

    2|78| And, among them are unlettered ones who have no knowledge of the Scripture save their fancies, and they do nothing but conjecture.174

    174. If the previous two verses describe the perversions of the elites of the Jewish society, this present one refers to the follies of their common folk, who, being unlettered, had no personal knowledge of the Scriptures, depended on their Doctors and rabbis for religious information, and did not but fancy that they were one hundred percent on the right requiring no modification in their attitudes toward God and His Messenger. If their priestly class did not follow the Word of God willfully, the common folk only used conjectures to determine the ways of their lives and fancied that they were right on top of the world (Au.).

    فَوَيْلٌ لِلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَابَ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَٰذَا مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ لِيَشْتَرُوا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۖ فَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ مِمَّا كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ مِمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ (79)

    2|79| Woe then unto those who write the Book with their hands and then proclaim,175 ‘This is from God,' in order that they may barter with it a paltry sum. So woe unto them for what their hands write and woe unto them for what they earn.

    175. "'Writing with their own hands' means inventing books themselves which had no divine authority" (Yusuf Ali).
    Majid quotes from "The Jewish Encyclopedia:" 'The habit of literary forgeries had grown so strong with the Jews that in the new and second centuries of the Christian era they felt no scruple in composing works depicting the grandeur and moral elevation of Judaism, and ascribing their own writings to heathen poets and celebrities' (vol.II p.9). And: 'Pseudopigraphy the ascribing the authorship of a book, falsely, to some person of note in order to make it more popular has frequently been practiced in Jewish literary history' (VJE.p.542)."
    Max I. Dimont, the well known Jewish scholar writes in "Jews, God and History": "The Biblical scholars have conjectured that the Old Testament is composed essentially of four major narratives, the 'J', 'E', 'JE' and 'P' documents woven into one. The 'J' documents are so named because in them God is always referred to as "Jehovah." They are the oldest, written around the ninth century B.C. written in the southern kingdom of Judah. The 'E' documents, so called because in them God is referred to as 'Elohim,' were written about a hundred years after the 'J' documents in the eight century in the northern kingdom of Israel. Scholars assume the "P" or 'Priestly,' documents were composed some two hundred years after the 'E', about 600 B.C. In the fifth century Jewish priests combined portions of the 'J' and 'E' documents, adding a little handiwork of their own (known as pious fraud) which are now referred to as the 'JE' documents, since God in these passages is referred to as 'Jehovah Elohim' (translated as 'Lord God')." [Page 40]
    The author writes elsewhere, in the same book: "The final fusion of the five books of Moses, called the Pentateuch, occurred around 450 B.C. in other words, not eight to sixteen hundred years after some of the events narrated in them took place."
    And, at another place: "(In the fifth century B.C.) ... Ezra and Jeremiah decided not only to revise the Book of Deuteronomy but to add to it four other books of Moses. Under their directions, priests and scholars labored diligently to fuse the most important of the divergent Mosaic documents, including the Deuteronomy of Josiah, into the five books of the Pentateuch, namely, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. All five books of Moses were now made divine" (Au.).

    وَقَالُوا لَنْ تَمَسَّنَا النَّارُ إِلَّا أَيَّامًا مَعْدُودَةً ۚ قُلْ أَتَّخَذْتُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ عَهْدًا فَلَنْ يُخْلِفَ اللَّهُ عَهْدَهُ ۖ أَمْ تَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ (80)

    2|80| And they claim, ‘The Fire will not touch us but for a few days.'176 Ask them, ‘Have you taken a pledge from your Lord, so that Allah will not break His pledge, or do you ascribe to Allah what you do not know?'

    176. Those "few days" according to the Jews of Madinah, are the same number of days that they worshipped the calf, i.e., forty (Ibn `Abbas Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). According to another report, the Jews claimed that they will not remain in Hell but for forty days, after which Muslims will remain behind abiding therein forever (`Ikrimah, Ibn Jarir). Yet another belief was that the total life span of the world was seven thousand years. They believed that for every thousand year they would remain in the Fire for a day, i.e., a total of 7 days (Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Jarir).
    Ibn Kathir reports on the authority of Sharh al Sunnah that when the Prophet's food was poisoned at the time of the Khayber campaign, he ordered his Companions to round up the Jews (probably the leaders: Au.). When they had assembled he asked them: "Who is your father?" They said: "So and so." The Prophet told them: "You have lied. Your father is so and so." They said: "You are right." Then he asked them: "Will you tell me the truth if I asked you something?" They said: "Yes, because if we lied, you would know." He asked them: "Who are the people of the Fire?" They replied: "Initially it is we. But after a while you will take over." The Prophet told them: "Begone. By Allah, we will never take your place there." Then he asked them: "Will you tell me the truth if I asked you something?" They said: "Sure, we will." He asked: "Did you poison this meat?" They said: "Yes." He asked them: "Why did you do it?" They said: "We reckoned that if you are phony we would get rid of you. But if you are a true Prophet, you will escape unhurt" (Imam Ahmad, Bukhari and Nasa'i have similar reports in their compilations).
    Majid quotes present day belief of the Jews: "In the Hereafter Abraham will sit at the entrance of Gehinnom and will not allow any circumcised Israelite to descend into it" (Cohen's 'Everyman's Talmud'). And, 'The Fire of Gehinnom does not touch the Jewish sinners because they confess their sins before the gates of Hell and return to God' (JE. V. p.583)."
    "The general application is also clear. If Unfaith claims some special prerogative, such as race, 'civilization', political power, historical experience, and so on, these will not avail in God's sight. His promise is sure, but His promise is for those who seek God in Faith, and show it in their conduct" (Yusuf Ali).

    بَلَىٰ مَنْ كَسَبَ سَيِّئَةً وَأَحَاطَتْ بِهِ خَطِيئَتُهُ فَأُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ (81)

    2|81| Nay indeed, he who earned evil177 to the extent that the evil girt round him178 they, such are the people of the Fire; they shall abide therein forever.

    177. The word "sayyi'ah" of the original has been interpreted as "shirk" (assigning partners unto Allah) Abu Wa'il, Mujahid, Qatadah, Suddi, and `Ata'. In fact, even major sins are excluded. This is because, as clarified in the ahadith, those who do not assign partners unto Allah will not abide in the Fire forever, even if consigned to it initially because of their sins (Ibn Jarir).
    Majid adds: "The implication of the word ahaatat is that not a trace is left of virtue, which is possible only in the case of those who are totally devoid of faith."
    Nonetheless, according to a statement attributed to Mujahid and some others a major sin that completely engulfs a man is included in the definition (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    In support of the above statement, Ibn Kathir quotes that hadith of Musnad Ahmad in which `Abdullah Ibn Mas`ud (ra) reports the Prophet (saws) as saying:

    إِنَّ مُحَقَّرَاتِ الذُّنُوبِ مَتَى يُؤْخَذْ بِهَا صَاحِبُهَا تُهْلِكْهُ (مجمع الزوائد ومنبع الفوائد - رواه كله أحمد ورجاله رجال الصحيح)

    "Surely, when one is held accountable for insignificant sins, they will destroy him."
    The Prophet (saws) also struck an example of some travelers who encamped in a desert. One of the men brought a twig, another a stick, and so on, until they made quite a pile of it and were able to cook their food therewith.

    178. The words, "the evil girt round him" mean that he remained in the state of shirk until his death (Ibn `Abbas, Rabi` b. Khaithum, Qatadah Ibn Jarir).

    وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ (82)

    2|82| As for those who believed and did righteous works, they are the people of Paradise; they shall abide therein for ever.

    وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ لَا تَعْبُدُونَ إِلَّا اللَّهَ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَقُولُوا لِلنَّاسِ حُسْنًا وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ ثُمَّ تَوَلَّيْتُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِنْكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ مُعْرِضُونَ (83)

    2|83| And (recall) when We took compact with the Children of Israel: ‘You shall not serve any other than Allah; to be good to the parents, the kindred, orphans, and the needy.179 You shall speak kindly to the people,180 establish Prayers, and give in charity'. But you turned away all but a few of you, while you were backsliders.

    179. While being good to the parents involves kind behavior toward them and their obedience in all matters except those that involve a sin, being good to the kindred, the orphans and the needy primarily means to help them materially which, of course, does not exclude services of other kind. Islam is totally opposed to the egocentric life of the Western type.
    It might also be noted that in the Qur'an, the rights of the parents always follow the rights of Allah Himself. `Abdullah Ibn Mas`ud reports in a hadith preserved by Bukhari and Muslim that he asked the Prophet:

    عَنْ عَبْدِ الله بْنِ مَسْعُودٍ قَالَ: سَأَلْتُ رَسُولَ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَيّ الْعَمَلِ أَفْضَلُ؟ قَالَ: "الصّلاَةُ لِوَقْتِهَا" قَالَ قُلْتُ: ثُمّ أَيّ؟ قَالَ: "بِرّ الْوَالِدَيْنِ" قَالَ قُلْتُ: ثُمّ أَيّ؟ قَالَ: "الْجِهَادُ فِي سَبِيلِ الله"

    "What deed is the most virtuous?" The Prophet replied: "Prayer at its specified hour." "And then what?" I asked. "To be good to the parents," he replied. "And then?" I asked. He replied: "Jihad in the way of Allah."
    According to another hadith:

    عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ. قَالَ: قَالَ رَجُلٌ: يَا رَسُولَ اللّهِ مَنْ أَحَقّ بِحُسْنِ الصّحْبَةِ؟ قَالَ "أُمّكَ. ثُمّ أُمّكَ. ثُمّ أُمّكَ. ثُمّ أَبُوكَ. ثُمّ أَدْنَاكَ أَدْنَاكَ".

    A man asked the Prophet, "Who deserves my services most"? He replied, "Your mother; then your mother, then your mother, then your father, and then those who follow (of the kinsfolk), and then those who follow."

    عن أبي هريرة قال: سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: (إن للرحم لسانا يوم القيامة تحت العرش يقول يا رب قطعت يا رب ظلمت يا رب أسيء إلي فيجيبها ربها ألا ترضين أن أصل من وصلك وأقطع من قطعك).‏

    As regards the kindred, Abu Hurayrah (ra) reports a hadith that the rahm (literally womb, but here, the factor by which people are linked together in relationship by birth) would speak up, from below the `Arsh, on the Day of Reckoning complaining, 'O Lord! I have been oppressed, I have been mistreated, I have been severed.' Allah will reply, 'Are you not satisfied that I should cut him off who cut you off, and join him who joined you?' (Razi).
    With regards to the covenant itself, the Jews acknowledge that they had entered into such a bond with God. Says the Jewish Encyclopedia (Majid): "Abrahamic covenant ... was renewed on Mount Sinai when, before the giving of the Law, Israel as a people pledged itself to keep His covenant (vol. IV. p. 319)."

    180. The most important right of the people is that they should receive from a Muslim the message of salvation. According to Ibn `Abbas, by the words, "you shall speak kindly to the people," the allusion is to the delivery of the message of Islam to those who are ignorant of it. As for those who are already Muslims, bidding unto good, and forbidding the wrong is, according to Sufyan Thawri, their most important right (Ibn Kathir). But of course there are many other rights that arise in different situations. The least that one can do is to meet the people with a cheerful face as states a hadith:

    "لاَ تَحْقِرَنّ مِنَ الْمَعْرُوفِ شَيْئاً، وَلَوْ أَنْ تَلْقَىَ أَخَاكَ بِوَجْهٍ طَلْقٍ".

    "Do not treat minor good deeds as something insignificant; at least meet the people with a cheerful face" (Ibn Kathir from Muslim, Tirmidhi through Abu Dhar).
    In contrast, to grin at the people and treat them with greatest outward respect without any feeling whatsoever in the heart, is all the good that is required of an individual in modern cultures. Islam has no use for such hypocrisy (Au.).

    وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَكُمْ لَا تَسْفِكُونَ دِمَاءَكُمْ وَلَا تُخْرِجُونَ أَنْفُسَكُمْ مِنْ دِيَارِكُمْ ثُمَّ أَقْرَرْتُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ تَشْهَدُونَ (84)

    2|84| And, when We took compact with you: ‘You shall not shed your own blood, and you shall not drive out each other from your dwellings.' Then you confirmed it and bear witness to it yourselves.

    ثُمَّ أَنْتُمْ هَٰؤُلَاءِ تَقْتُلُونَ أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَتُخْرِجُونَ فَرِيقًا مِنْكُمْ مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ تَظَاهَرُونَ عَلَيْهِمْ بِالْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ وَإِنْ يَأْتُوكُمْ أُسَارَىٰ تُفَادُوهُمْ وَهُوَ مُحَرَّمٌ عَلَيْكُمْ إِخْرَاجُهُمْ ۚ أَفَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِبَعْضِ الْكِتَابِ وَتَكْفُرُونَ بِبَعْضٍ ۚ فَمَا جَزَاءُ مَنْ يَفْعَلُ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْكُمْ إِلَّا خِزْيٌ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَىٰ أَشَدِّ الْعَذَابِ ۗ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ (85)

    2|85| Yet, you are the very people who slaughter your own people and drive out a number of them from their dwellings, helping others against them in violation and rebellion.181 When they are brought to you as captives, you ransom them out, while it was unlawful for you to have expelled them. Do you then believe in part of the Scripture and disbelieve in part? So, what can be the reward of those of you who do that but degradation in the present life, to be returned to the most terrible chastisement on the Day of Resurrection? And Allah is not unaware of what you do.

    181. At the time of the revelation of these verses, the Jews of Madinah were divided into three tribes: Banu Qaynuqa`, Banu Nadir, and Banu Qurayzah. The Madinan pagans were divided into two tribes, Khazraj and Aws. The two had been at war with each other for over a century. Banu Qaynuqa` and Banu Nadir were allies of Khazraj, while Banu Qurayzah allied themselves with Aws. When fighting took place between the two pagan tribes, the Jews took active part and freely slaughtered the Jews allied to the other tribe. Further, when the fighting reached the very heart of their dwellings, they drove them out and pillaged their homes.
    Nonetheless, when the fighting ceased, and the very Jews they had fought and driven out were brought as captives, they hastened to ransom them saying that they had a compact with God to that effect. Hence the revelation asked: "Do you believe in a part of the Book and disbelieve in a part?" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Kathir also reports that after a battle fought near Kufa in a place called Langer, Salman al Farsi purchased a Jewish slave girl for 700 Dirhams. A little later he was in the company of a well known Jewish figure, Ra`s al Jalut. Salman mentioned to him the slave girl he had purchased for 700, and asked him whether he was interested in buying her. Ra`s al Jalut consented and offered 1400. Salman told him he had hoped to sell her for 4000. Ra`s al Jalut told him that at that price he was not interested in her. Salman told him: "But you must, for, that is an ordinance of your religion." Then, bending forward, Salman whispered to him the verse of the Tawrah concerning freeing of slaves. A surprised Ra`s al Jalut asked him if he was Salman al Farsi (who was known for having acquired learning in various religions before Islam). When Salman nodded in affirmation, the man went in and brought him 4000 Dirhams. Salman kept half of it and returned him the rest.

    أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُا الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا بِالْآخِرَةِ ۖ فَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمُ الْعَذَابُ وَلَا هُمْ يُنْصَرُونَ (86)

    2|86| These are a people that have purchased the life of this world at the price of the Next; so their chastisement shall not be lightened nor shall they be helped.

    وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ وَقَفَّيْنَا مِنْ بَعْدِهِ بِالرُّسُلِ ۖ وَآتَيْنَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَيَّدْنَاهُ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ ۗ أَفَكُلَّمَا جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ بِمَا لَا تَهْوَىٰ أَنْفُسُكُمُ اسْتَكْبَرْتُمْ فَفَرِيقًا كَذَّبْتُمْ وَفَرِيقًا تَقْتُلُونَ (87)

    2|87| Verily, We gave Musa the Book and sent after him Prophets one after another.182 We (also) gave ‘Isa the son of Maryam, clear signs183 and strengthened him with the Ruh al-Qudus.184 But, is it that whenever a Prophet came to you with that which did not conform with your desires, you stiffened?185 So, you laid the lie against some of them, while others you slew.

    182. Such as Yusha` (Joshua), Shamwil (Samuel), Sham`un (Simon), Da'ud (David), Sulayman (Solomon), Sha`ya (Isaiah?), Ariyah (Jeremiah), `Uzayr (Ezra), Hizqil (Ezekiel), Ilyas (Elias), Yunus (Jonah), Zakariyyah (Zechariah), Yahya (John the Baptist), and others (Razi).

    183. The clear signs referred to here are quickening of the dead, curing of the blind and the deaf, making of birds from clay and blowing life into them, etc., all by Allah's will. Being the last of the series of prophets sent to the Israelites, he was given very powerful and irrefutable signs (Au.).

    184. According to most early commentators such as Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Suddi, Qatadah and others, the allusion by the words "al-Ruh al Qudus," is to Jibril. This is confirmed by a hadith (which we pick up from Muslim) which says that the Prophet told Hassan b. Thabit:

    إِنَّ رُوحَ الْقُدُسِ لا يَزَالُ يُؤَيِّدُكَ مَا نَافَحْتَ عَنْ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ

    "Surely, Ruh al Qudus will remain helping you (in your satires) so long as you remain defending Allah and His Messenger" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Kathir further adds: In another hadith the Prophet (saws) named specifically Jibril while praying to Allah to help Hassan in his satires. The term has been used in other reports also. In one hadith the Prophet (saws) said:

    إن روح القدس نفث في روعي : أن نفسا لن تموت حتى تستوفي رزقها ، فأجملوا في الطلب

    "Al-Ruh al Qudus has inspired into me that no one will die without receiving his share of the provision and without completing the term allotted to him. Therefore, be graceful while seeking your share of the world."
    (The above report is from Kanz which Haythami declared as trustworthy but for a minor problem in evaluation: Au.)
    Thanwi writes: The Jews were sworn enemies of Jesus and would have all but murdered him. It was Jibril who guarded him against them.
    Nevertheless, a minority opinion is that the term alludes either to the Gospels, or, the Great Name (Al Ism al A`zam) which `Isa b. Maryam used to spell before blowing the spirit into shapes of clay.
    Majid adds: "This 'holy spirit' of Islam has nothing, save name, in common with the 'Holy Ghost' of Christianity, who is 'the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity ... the Spirit of the Father and of the Son' proceeding `alike from both as from one common principle.' (Pallen and Wynne's `New Catholic Dictionary', p. 451) Islam has no such preposterous proposition to support as that `the Holy Spirit is rightly included in the Godhead, and to be worshipped and glorified with the Father and the Son as divine' (Everyman's Encycl. vol. XI, p. 635)."

    185. Majid's quotation while dealing with verse 83, applies very well here also: "'I have seen this people, and behold! it is a stiff necked people.' (Ex. 32:9) 'Thou are a stiff necked people ... from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the Lord' (Dt. 9: 6&7)."
    Thanwi comments: There is indication in the verse that pride is the root of all sins.

    وَقَالُوا قُلُوبُنَا غُلْفٌ ۚ بَلْ لَعَنَهُمُ اللَّهُ بِكُفْرِهِمْ فَقَلِيلًا مَا يُؤْمِنُونَ (88)

    2|88| They say, ‘Our hearts are insulated.'186 Nay, Allah has rather cursed them for their unbelief,187 so little do they believe.188

    186. That is, insulated from any outside influence (Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Ata', Qatadah Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Another interpretation of the term "ghulf" rendered here as "insulated" is that our hearts are repositories of knowledge and wisdom and therefore in no need of that which is now being preached by the new Prophet (Ibn `Abbas and `Atiyyah Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, in the words of Asad).
    Yusuf Ali writes: "How many people at all times and among all nations close their hearts to any extension of knowledge or spiritual influence because of some little fragment which they got and which they think is the whole of God's Truth?"

    187. "For 'curses' compare the OT: 'A curse if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God.' (Dt. 11:27) 'If thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God ... all these curses shall come upon thee and overtake thee; cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Curse shalt be thy basket and thy land, the increase of thy kind, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt be thou when thou comest in, and cursed shalt be thou when thou goest out' (Dt, 28: 15 19)" Majid.

    188. Another rendering could be "so believe not but a few of them" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    وَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ كِتَابٌ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِمَا مَعَهُمْ وَكَانُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ يَسْتَفْتِحُونَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ مَا عَرَفُوا كَفَرُوا بِهِ ۚ فَلَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ (89)

    2|89| And (now) when a Book came to them from Allah, conforming that which is in their possession while earlier they sought (Allah's) help against the pagans but when it came to them with what they knew (as from their Lord), they rejected it.189 So Allah's curse be upon the rejecters.

    189. This refers to the situation before the advent of the Prophet (saws) when, defeated in the battles (or in arguments) by the pagans, the Jews of Madinah would say that even if they had suffered defeat, it was of a temporary nature. Soon they would square up with them once the Promised Messiah whose time of appearance had come close made his advent. It is with him on their side that they would wage a final battle against the non Jews of the world and regain their supremacy. But when the Prophet appeared, they refused to acknowledge him because it was impossible in their thought that God should send a Messenger among a people they esteemed low such as the Ishmaelites. In one gathering, Mu`adh b. Jabal, Bishr b. Bara', and Da`ud b. Salamah reproached the Jews and told them: "Fear God, and believe in Him. Aren't you the ones that used to predict his appearance?" To that Sallam b. Mishkam replied: "He has not brought anything that we could recognize as from God, neither is he the 'one' we predicted" (Ibn Kathir).

    بِئْسَمَا اشْتَرَوْا بِهِ أَنْفُسَهُمْ أَنْ يَكْفُرُوا بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ بَغْيًا أَنْ يُنَزِّلَ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ عَلَىٰ مَنْ يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ ۖ فَبَاءُوا بِغَضَبٍ عَلَىٰ غَضَبٍ ۚ وَلِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابٌ مُهِينٌ (90)

    2|90| Evil is that for which they barter themselves by rejecting that which has been revealed by Allah in grudge that Allah should reveal it in His mercy unto whom He will of His slaves. Thus they piled (upon themselves) anger upon anger.190 Therefore a humiliating punishment awaits the unbelievers.191

    190. The two fold anger is because of their disbelief in two major Prophets: Jesus and Muhammad (asws). A hadith says that whosoever believes in Jesus and also in Muhammad (asws), will have two fold rewards. There have been other explanations too (Ibn Jarir).

    191. This "humiliating" nature of the punishment is specific to the unbelievers. The sinning believers will undergo a punishment that will be for cleansing them and not for humiliating them (Ma`arif).

    وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ آمِنُوا بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ قَالُوا نُؤْمِنُ بِمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْنَا وَيَكْفُرُونَ بِمَا وَرَاءَهُ وَهُوَ الْحَقُّ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا مَعَهُمْ ۗ قُلْ فَلِمَ تَقْتُلُونَ أَنْبِيَاءَ اللَّهِ مِنْ قَبْلُ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ (91)

    2|91| And when they are told, ‘Believe in that which Allah has revealed,' they say: ‘We shall believe (only) in that which has been revealed unto us.' And they reject that which came after, while it is the Truth which confirms that which is in their hands.192 Ask them: ‘Why is it then that you slew the Messengers of Allah afore, if you were believers?'193

    192. The allusion is to the Jews of Madinah who, when told to believe in the new Revelation the Qur'an replied that they will not believe in anything after the Tawrah. What they failed to understand was that their rejection of the Qur'an was tantamount to the rejection of their own holy Scriptures, since the Qur'an confirmed the Tawrah as a revelation of Allah (Au.).

    193. While rejecting the Qur'an, the Jews asserted their faith in the Tawrah. But, it is a fact of their history that they murdered Prophets sent to them. The Qur'an, therefore, rejects the claim to faith: both of those who committed those heinous crimes in earlier times, as well as the contemporaries of the Prophet (saws), who became equal in crime by not disowning those murders and murderers. Whoever assents to a crime is a criminal himself (Au.).

    وَلَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ مُوسَىٰ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ثُمَّ اتَّخَذْتُمُ الْعِجْلَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ وَأَنْتُمْ ظَالِمُونَ (92)

    2|92| Verily Musa had come to you with clear signs, yet while he was away, you took the calf (for worship) and you were transgressing.194

    194. In this verse the Qur'an takes the case a little further to point out that the tendencies of disbelief in the Israelites were not peculiar to the generations posterior to Musa (asws). As early as during Musa's period, the Israelites had betrayed their inclinations toward false gods despite all the signs that were made manifest to them: their calf worship during a short absence of Musa, is a case in point (Au.).

    وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَكُمْ وَرَفَعْنَا فَوْقَكُمُ الطُّورَ خُذُوا مَا آتَيْنَاكُمْ بِقُوَّةٍ وَاسْمَعُوا ۖ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَعَصَيْنَا وَأُشْرِبُوا فِي قُلُوبِهِمُ الْعِجْلَ بِكُفْرِهِمْ ۚ قُلْ بِئْسَمَا يَأْمُرُكُمْ بِهِ إِيمَانُكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ (93)

    2|93| And (recall) when We took compact with you and then raised the Tur over you195 (saying): ‘Hold fast unto what We have given you, and listen.' They said: ‘We have heard but we shall disobey!' They were drunk with (the love of) the calf in their hearts because of their unbelief. Tell them, ‘Evil is that which your faith dictates to you if you are truly

    195. For explanation see verse 63 above.faithful.'

    قُلْ إِنْ كَانَتْ لَكُمُ الدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ خَالِصَةً مِنْ دُونِ النَّاسِ فَتَمَنَّوُا الْمَوْتَ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ (94)

    2|94| Tell them: `If the last abode with Allah is for you alone, to the exclusion of all others, then long for death if you are true.

    وَلَنْ يَتَمَنَّوْهُ أَبَدًا بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالظَّالِمِينَ (95)

    2|95| But they will never long for it because of what their hands have forwarded. And Allah is well aware of the transgressors.196

    196. It is reported that the Prophet (saws) said, as in a report in Ahmad declared as of trustworthy narrators by Haythami:

    َلَوْ أَنَّ الْيَهُودَ تَمَنَّوْا الْمَوْتَ لَمَاتُوا وَرَأَوْا مَقَاعِدَهُمْ فِي النَّار

    "Had the Jews (sincerely) wished for death, they would have all died and seen their places in the Fire" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Qurtubi).
    Alusi adds: Wishing for death can be of two kinds. One in which a person wishes to die soon in order to be closer to Allah, His chosen slaves, and to hasten to the blessings of the Hereafter. Wishing death for such reasons is not prohibited in Islam. It is this kind of wish that the Jews were incapable of, which proved that they were not true in their claim that the pleasures of the Hereafter have been prepared for them alone. The second kind is that which arises out of the unbearableness of tribulations. To wish death for such reasons reveals a man's weakness in faith and his complete despair. This kind of longing for death is prohibited. A hadith (of Muslim: Au.) says:

    عَنْ أَنَسٍ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "لاَ يَتَمَنّيَنّ أَحَدُكُمُ الْمَوْتَ لِضُرَ نَزَلَ بِهِ. فَإِنْ كَانَ لاَ بُدّ مُتَمَنّياً فَلْيَقُلِ: اللّهُمّ أَحْيِني مَا كَانَتِ الْحَيَاةُ خَيْراً لِي، وَتَوَفّنِي إِذَا كَانَتِ الْوَفَاةُ خَيْراً لِي".

    "Let none of you wish for death because of a misfortune that has struck him. If he has to say it at all, let him say: 'O Lord! Keep me alive if my staying alive is good for me; and let me die if death is better for me.'"
    It is reported by Nafi` (continues Alusi) that there was a Jew who used to go about boasting, 'Here I am longing for death. Why doesn't death overtake me?' When `Abdullah ibn `Umar heard him, he went after him with a naked sword. The Jew fled. Ibn `Umar said: 'By God! Had I got hold of him, I would have beheaded him.'

    وَلَتَجِدَنَّهُمْ أَحْرَصَ النَّاسِ عَلَىٰ حَيَاةٍ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا ۚ يَوَدُّ أَحَدُهُمْ لَوْ يُعَمَّرُ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ وَمَا هُوَ بِمُزَحْزِحِهِ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ أَنْ يُعَمَّرَ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ (96)

    2|96| You will find them the most greedy of this life even greedier than the pagans;197 Every one of them wishes that he be granted life of a thousand years, although, granted such prolongation, it will by no means save him from the chastisement. And Allah is well aware of all that they do.

    197. Some pagans of the Prophet's time used to say to one who sneezed: "May you live for ten thousand years" (Ibn `Abbas Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    قُلْ مَنْ كَانَ عَدُوًّا لِجِبْرِيلَ فَإِنَّهُ نَزَّلَهُ عَلَىٰ قَلْبِكَ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَهُدًى وَبُشْرَىٰ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ (97)

    2|97| Say, ‘Whosoever is an enemy to Jibril while he is the one who has revealed this (Qur'an) upon your heart (O Muhammad), by the leave of Allah, confirming that which came before it, a source of guidance and glad tidings for those who believe198

    198. Ibn Jarir relates two incidents which occasioned the revelation of this verse. One is as follows. (The report is taken from Haythami who thought that one of the narrators was not so trustworthy: Au.):

    عن ابن عباس قال حضرت عصابة من اليهود نبى الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يوما فقالوا يا أبا القاسم حدثنا عن خلال نسألك عنهن لا يعلمهن الا نبى قال سلونى عم شئتم ولكن اجعلوا لى ذمة الله وما أخذ يعقوب على بنيه لئن أنا حدثتكم شيئا فعرفتموه لتبايعني قالوا فذلك لك قال أربع خلال نسألك عنها أخبرنا أي شئ حرم اسرائيل على نفسه من قبل أن تنزل التوراة وأخبرنا كيف ماء الرجل من ماء المرأة وكيف الانثى منه والذكر وأخبرنا كيف هذا النبي الامي في النوم ومن وليه من الملائكة فأخذ عليهم عهد الله لئن أخبرتكم لتتابعني فأعطوه ما شاء من عهد وميثاق قال فأنشدكم بالذى أنزل التوراة على موسى هل تعلمون أن إسرائيل مرض مرضا طال سقمه فنذر نذرا لئن عافاه الله من سقمه ليحرمن أحب الشراب إليه وأحب الطعام إليه وكان أحب الطعام إليه لحمان الابل وأحب الشراب إليه ألبانها فقالوا اللهم نعم فقال اللهم اشهد وقال أنشدكم بالله الذى لا إله إلا هو هل تعلمون أن ماء الرجل غليظ وأن ماء المرأة أصفر رقيق فأيهما علا كان الولد والشبه باذن الله تعالى إن علاماء الرجل كان ذكرا باذن الله تعالى وإن علاماء المرأة كان أنثى باذن الله قالوا اللهم نعم قال اللهم اشهد قال فأشهدكم بالذى أنزل التوراة على موسى هل تعلمون أن النبي الامي هذا تنام عيناه ولا ينام قلبه قالوا اللهم نعم قال اللهم اشهد عليهم قالوا أنت الآن حدثتنا فحدثنا من وليك من الملائكة فعندها نجامعك أو نفارقك قال فان وليى جبريل ولم يبعث الله نبيا قط إلا وهو وليه قالوا فعندها نفارقك لو كان وليك من الملائكة سواه لاتبعناك وصدقناك قال فما يمنعكم أن تصدقوا قالوا هو عدونا فعند ذلك قال الله عزوجل (من كان عدوا لجبريل فانه نزله على قلبك باذن الله مصدقا لما بين يديه وهدى وبشرى للمؤمنين. (مجمع الزوائد)

    A group of Jewish rabbis came to the Prophet (saws) and said, 'We would like to ask you a few things that we believe no one has the knowledge of, save a Prophet.' The Prophet said: 'Go ahead. But give me your word that if I answer them rightly you will declare your faith in me.' They said, 'You have our word.' They asked him about four things. One, about the food that Israel (Jacob) had declared forbidden unto himself; two, about how a child is sometimes male and sometimes female; three, about the nature of sleep of "this unlettered Prophet;" and four, about who is his (the Prophet's) friend among the angels? The Prophet answered, 'As for the food that Israel had voluntarily forbidden himself, it was camel's flesh which was very dear to him. He did that in gratitude to Allah for having cured him of a disease.' The rabbis said: 'You spoke the truth.' 'As for the sex of the child,' the Prophet continued, 'a man's semen is white and thick while the woman's is yellowish and thin. When the man's semen overcomes the woman's the child is male by the leave of Allah. And when the woman's semen overcomes that of man, it is a female by the leave of Allah.' 'You spoke the truth,' the rabbis remarked. 'As for the question about the nature of sleep of the unlettered Prophet,' the Prophet continued, 'well, his eyes sleep but the heart is awake,' 'You spoke the truth again,' they said. 'As for your last question,' the Prophet told them, 'why, you know that it is Jibril who brings the revelations to me. He is my friend from among the angels.' 'That's where we part ways,' said the rabbis. 'He is our enemy who has always brought down punishments and hardships on us. If it had been Mika`il (Michael) we would have acknowledged you since he has always been kind upon us, causing increase in our harvests, easing our hardships and bringing peace.' In response, Allah revealed this verse: 'Whosoever is an enemy to Jibril...'
    In the above incident it might be noted how cleverly the Jews formulated the questions. Three of them they took from their Scriptures while a fourth, not from their Scriptures, but whose answer was common knowledge, they kept in reserve, to be able to reject the Prophet (Au.).
    The second incident, as reported by Sha`bi and others, is as follows in its abridged version: It is said that `Umar (ra) used to pass by Jews taking lessons in Tawrah. Occasionally, he joined them and listened to their discussions. It was interesting for him to note how the Tawrah confirmed the Qur'an and the Qur'an the Tawrah. One day he asked them adjuring them in the name of whatever was most holy to them to tell him if Muhammad (saws) was not a true Prophet. For a moment they were silent, staring into each other's faces. Then one of them spoke out saying that they believed he was a true Prophet, but weren't ready to acknowledge him. `Umar asked them that if they knew he was a Prophet and yet refused to acknowledge him, could not they be punished? They said they were not worried about that because there were two angels most close to God. One was at odds with them (the Jews), and the other friendly. If one tried to harm them, the other would shield them. 'Who are they?' Umar enquired. They said, 'Jibril, who is our enemy, and Mika'il who is our friend and protector. One is at the right hand of God and the other on the left.'
    `Umar (ra) mentioned it to the Prophet (saws) who told him that he had received verses referring to them, and read out: 'Whosoever is an enemy to Jibril...'
    The Jewish dislike of Jibril seems to have a Biblical background. Majid quotes: "Refer the Bible: 'I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way... Beware of him, and obey his voice. Provoke him not!' (Ex. 23: 20 21) ... 'but they rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them' (Is. 63:10)."

    مَنْ كَانَ عَدُوًّا لِلَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَجِبْرِيلَ وَمِيكَالَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَدُوٌّ لِلْكَافِرِينَ (98)

    2|98| (Therefore) whosoever is an enemy to Allah, His Angels, His Messengers, Jibril, and Mikal,199 then, surely Allah is an enemy to the unbelievers.'200

    199. Mikal is the word used in the original. Ibn Jarir explains that the Hejazi Arabs say Jibril and Mikal while those of Tamim, Qays, and Najd pronounce them as Jibra'il and Mika'il.

    200. Thanwi says: The verse proves that whoever is hostile to the Friends of God (Awliya' Allah), earns Allah's anger.
    In a hadith Allah (swt) says:

    مَنْ عَادَى لِي وَلِيًّا فَقَدْ آذَنْتُهُ بِالْحَرْبِ

    "Whoever acted with hostility against one of My friends, challenged Me to a fight" (Ibn Kathir).

    وَلَقَدْ أَنْزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ آيَاتٍ بَيِّنَاتٍ ۖ وَمَا يَكْفُرُ بِهَا إِلَّا الْفَاسِقُونَ (99)

    2|99| We have indeed revealed unto you clear signs, which none can discredit but the corrupt.201

    201. This verse was revealed as a reply to Ibn Suriya who said: "Muhammad! You have not brought anything that we (Jews) can recognize. Nor do you have a sign with you" (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi). Allah replied that Muhammad had brought them not one but several signs. But none misses to see save the corrupt and the ungodly (Thanwi).

    أَوَكُلَّمَا عَاهَدُوا عَهْدًا نَبَذَهُ فَرِيقٌ مِنْهُمْ ۚ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ (100)

    2|100| Has it not ever been so, that whenever they made a compact a party of them threw it away? Nay, but most of them have no faith.202

    202. The "official" position of the Jews at Madinah was that although they were awaiting the appearance of the last Prophet, they did not feel convinced that Muhammad was the promised one. This verse told them that their rejection of the Prophet was not because of their difficulty to recognize him. Rather, it was because they were used to breaking their compacts with Allah: one of which was to the effect that when the Last Prophet appears, with the signs that had been stated in very clear terms in their Scriptures, they would acknowledge him and follow him. But their history is replete with instances of their disregard of the covenants (Au.).
    Mufti Shafi` says: Allah (swt) used the words: "a party of them" because some of them kept the covenants. As, e.g., in the case of the last Prophet, a party of the Jews acknowledged him and embraced Islam.

    وَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ رَسُولٌ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِمَا مَعَهُمْ نَبَذَ فَرِيقٌ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ وَرَاءَ ظُهُورِهِمْ كَأَنَّهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (101)

    2|101| Whenever a Messenger came to them from Allah, confirming what was with them, a party of the People of the Book flung the Book of Allah behind their backs, as if they knew nothing (about it).203

    203. The criticism is directed not only at the Jews contemporary to Sulayman (asws), but also at the Jews of the Prophet's time who took equal interest in devilish crafts. Ibn Kathir says: The Jews of Madinah first tried to confront the Prophet with the Tawrah. But when they found that the two Books confirmed each other, they flung the Tawrah behind their backs and began to use black magic against him. One of their men Labid b. al A`sam was a skilled magician who cast a spell on the Prophet (saws).

    وَاتَّبَعُوا مَا تَتْلُو الشَّيَاطِينُ عَلَىٰ مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَانَ ۖ وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَانُ وَلَٰكِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ كَفَرُوا يُعَلِّمُونَ النَّاسَ السِّحْرَ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ بِبَابِلَ هَارُوتَ وَمَارُوتَ ۚ وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَا إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ فِتْنَةٌ فَلَا تَكْفُرْ ۖ فَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مِنْهُمَا مَا يُفَرِّقُونَ بِهِ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَزَوْجِهِ ۚ وَمَا هُمْ بِضَارِّينَ بِهِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلَا يَنْفَعُهُمْ ۚ وَلَقَدْ عَلِمُوا لَمَنِ اشْتَرَاهُ مَا لَهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلَاقٍ ۚ وَلَبِئْسَ مَا شَرَوْا بِهِ أَنْفُسَهُمْ ۚ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ (102)

    2|102| And, (instead), they followed what the devils204 recited to them during Sulayman's kingdom.205 But it was not Sulayman who had blasphemed, rather it were the devils who blasphemed206 teaching the people magic and that which was sent down to the two angels at Babylon Harut and Marut.207 However, the two taught not any man without warning: ‘Beware! We are (not here) but for (your) trial, so blaspheme not (by learning magic).'208 Yet they would learn from the two what they might use to cause division between a man and his wife,209 although they harmed none thereby save by the leave of Allah.210 Thus they learned what harmed them and not profited them, knowing well that whosoever trafficked therein will have no share in the world to come. Evil it was for which they bartered their souls if they had but known.

    204. "By the term Shayatin is meant malevolent genii or Jinns. There also may be a tacit reference to the malcontent historical personalities of Prophet Solomon's time the renegade Jeroboam and the apostate Ahijah, for example, and their band of rebellious conspirators and unbelieving soothsayers" (Majid).

    205. Suddi reports that during Sulayman's reign the devils (Shayatin) used to ascend to the first firmament trying to eavesdrop on what the angels were discussing among themselves concerning the affairs that they were ordered to execute. The devils then recited the news they had picked up to their magician friends on the earth who would add a hundred lies and spread them among the masses. This was followed by the appearance of literature on black magic, sorcery, fortune telling, etc. When Sulayman (asws) came to know of it all, he confiscated the literature and got it buried under his throne. After his death the literature was dug out and the opinion gained ground that magic was the basis of Sulayman's power, and that he was himself a powerful magician. Such were also the beliefs of the Jews of Madinah themselves experts in the science of black magic. They were shocked that the Qur'an declared Sulayman (asws) a Prophet and not a sorcerer and idolater. Hence these verses (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Jarir also relates another report (re narrated by Ibn Kathir) according to which someone came to Ibn `Abbas some time after the assassination of `Ali (ra), the fourth Khalifah. Ibn `Abbas asked the man where he was from. "Iraq," the man replied. "From what place in Iraq?" Ibn `Abbas enquired. "Kufah," the man answered. "And what's the news?" enquired Ibn `Abbas. "Well," said the man, "I left the people there with rumors rife that `Ali is to reappear soon." Ibn `Abbas let out a shriek. Then he said: "Look. If there was any chance of him returning we would not have married his wives, nor divided his inheritance among ourselves. Let me tell you something. (Until the appearance of our own Prophet, saws) the Jinns used to climb up to the first firmament and pick up bits and pieces of news from there. They would add a hundred lies and spread them among the people on the earth. Gradually, the material spread. When Sulayman (asws) was apprised of it he got the literature buried under his throne. After his death the Jinns disclosed the information to the people who dug them out again. It is the left-over of what was found then that the Iraqis are talking about now."
    Majid notes: "`The practice of magic was common throughout ancient Israel....A knowledge of magic was indispensable to a member of the chief council of the judiciary, and might be acquired even from the heathen. The most profound scholars were adept in the black art, and the law did not deny its power. The people who cared little for the view of the learned, were devoted to witchcraft. "Adultery and sorcery have destroyed everything;" the Majesty of God departed from Israel... Exorcism also flourished. ... The Greco Roman world regarded the Jews as a race of magicians.' (Jewish Encyclopedia VIII p. 255) This reputation of the Jews as skilled magicians and expert exorcists continued right up to the time of the holy Prophet. `They were,' in Arabia at the advent of Islam, `adept in magic, and preferred the weapons of the black arts to those of open warfare.' (Margoliouth, Mohammad, p.189). The Arab Jews were adept in the black magic both of Palestine and Chaldea (Babylonia). They inherited the one and acquired the other. The Chaldeans, after they had ceased to be a nation, `dispersed all over the world, carrying their delusive science with them practicing and teaching it, welcomed everywhere by the credulous and superstitious.' (Ragozin, Chaldea, p.255) And no better pupil could they have found than the Jews. ‘Babylonia... continued to be regarded with reverence by the Jews in all parts.' (Jewish Encycl. II p. 413 414) Contact with Babylonia tended to stimulate the angelology and demonology of Israel' (Ency. Britannica XIII p. 187, 11th ed.).

    206. "King Sulayman (973 933 B.C.) of the Bible, who according to the teachings of Islam, was not an idolatrous king, but a true prophet of God and a benevolent and wise ruler. He was, as his name implies, essentially a man of peace. The Jews, true to their traditions of ingratitude and malevolence, have not hesitated to malign their own hero and national benefactor, Prophet Solomon (on whom be peace!), and to accuse him of the most heinous of all offences idolatry! (See I Kings, 11: 4,9,10). They have also unblushingly attributed to him the cult of crude occultism and witchcraft. The Qur'an upholds the honor of all prophets of God, to whatever race or age they may belong, and believes in the saintliness and sinlessness of every one of them. It takes this opportunity to sweep aside all the ugly tales and outrageous imputations about Solomon, and says in effect that far from being an unbeliever or a blasphemer, he never practiced any such black art as the pagans did" (Majid).
    The slanderous statements in the Bible referred to by Majid above are as follows: "For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his god, as was the heart of David his father (I Kings, 11: 4)." At another place: "And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the Lord commanded" (Ibid, 9,10) Au.
    Majid also writes: "Observe the result of modern research by Biblical scholars themselves into the 'polytheism' of Solomon maintained by the Bible and stoutly denied by the Holy Qur'an. `That Solomon had a number of wives both Israelite and non Israelite, is probable enough, but he did not make altars for all of them, nor did he himself combine the worship of his wives' gods with that of Yahweh. He can have had no thought of denying the sole divinity of Yahweh in the land which was Yahweh's "inheritance" .... We have no reason to doubt that according to his lights he was a faithful worshipper of Yahweh, so far as this was consistent with his despotic inclination' (Encycl. Biblica. c.4689). `That the king abandoned his faith in Jehovah and became an idolater is difficult to believe, while it is easy to conceive how the fame to that effect may have arisen ... That he should have been guilty of the apostasy and sin alleged seems incredible and inexplicable on any supposition except one, viz., that his mode of life had left him prematurely worn out both in body and mind, so as to be, even in the fifth decade of his age, in a senile condition and hardly responsible for his actions. That is little if anything more than a supposition.' (Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible IV pp. 567,568) `Solomon was a sincere worshipper of Yahweh' (Encyl. Britt. XX p. 952)."

    207. Although both Ibn Jarir and Ibn Kathir have offered several interpretations recording numerous opinions of various authorities, no conclusion can be reached about what exactly the reference is to, and who the personalities were that have been alluded to here. There are two reasons for the uncertainly. First, there are variant readings of the text the explanation of which, here in English, will only further complicate and obscure the meaning. It should suffice to say that if the variant reading is accepted, it would mean that the two angels did not teach magic at all. However, this variant reading is the opinion of a minority. Second, the trustworthiness of the reports coming from the Prophet (saws) as well as those attributed to the Companions has been questioned. It will be best therefore to summarize the most probable explanation as presented in Bayan al Qur'an, and Ma`arif, who themselves have probably relied upon Ibn Jarir and other classical scholars.
    Harut and Marut
    At the time when Babylon was the center of occult sciences, it was becoming increasingly difficult for the common man to distinguish between the knowledge brought by the Prophets and that presented by the occult sciences. The opinion had spread wide that the miracles of the Prophets also had their basis in magic. This led the common people to revere the magicians, sorcerers and others of the trade in the manner of saints, and to seek guidance from them in the affairs of life. Therefore, Allah (swt), who is bound by His mercy to provide His creations the right guidance, as He is bound to feed them, appointed two angels in human form Harut and Marut in order that they may demonstrate the difference between occult sciences and the knowledge brought by the Prophets and lead the people from darkness to light. Prophets themselves were not chosen for this task perhaps because using them as the means, would have defeated the whole purpose, for the Prophets themselves were, so to say, one of the disputed party, and anything said or done by them would have been received with skepticism and prejudice. The angels, anyway, began to teach the people that the truth and right guidance did not lie in occult sciences, rather, in the teachings of the Prophets. They also demonstrated the difference. Some people then wanted to learn the art of magic from them on the pretext that their intentions were to defend themselves against the magicians who were widely influential at that time and were quite a nuisance to the society. They were sternly warned that such learning could lead them to unbelief and therefore, it was best for them to stay away from it. But the disciples would insist and they would teach them the art. Yet, those who acquired the art from them did not put it to self defense purposes only. Thus, although the angels were sent to make distinct truth from falsehood, the people actually turned the blessing into a curse by learning the science from them and then putting them to evil uses. They also spread the newly learnt art among the masses, adding to whatever already existed, enriching the whole.
    As for the personalities of Harut and Marut, once again there are many reports attributed to the Companions but, to the exception of one, are all untrustworthy. One of them which is, according to Ibn Kathir, somewhat trustworthy, is also, it must be clearly understood, not a hadith, but a story attributed to a Companion, who probably relied on a Jewish source. Apart from other things, the story will, it is hoped, convey a point to the pessimist and the misanthrope.
    "When the people fell into degradation after Adam (asws), angels aired their view before Allah (swt) in words: `You are aware, O our Lord, the degradation into which men have fallen. They drink wine, commit theft, murder, and adultery, deceive in dealings, worship idols, et. al.' They also cursed the humans thus showing no sympathy or understanding of their problems. In answer Allah (swt) told them to choose two of themselves that they trusted most who could be tested on earth. They chose Harut and Marut who were invested with human passions, weaknesses, wants and necessities and then sent to earth. The two lived a life of exemplary piety for a long time until a woman named Zahra the most beautiful daughter that Babylon had produced appeared before them seeking help in some affair. They fell in love with her. But, in reply to their advances, she made it clear that any relationship with her would be on the condition that they follow her religion: idolatry. They refused. But she was more enchanting than the chastity and patience that they could summon. So they returned to her time and again with amorous appeals. When she saw that their love was unabated, and that they were not going to worship idols for her sake, she offered them an alternative: they murder someone she wanted done away with. Again they refused. Then, as their impatience with her mounted, she suggested that at least they drink wine with her. They thought that it was the least of evils she had suggested. But, once drunk, and their desires gratified, they murdered a man they thought would disclose their association with her. However, with the passions cooled and effects of intoxication gone, they were overcome by a sense of guilt and remorse. They thought they would simply quit the scene, but they found that they were no more capable of flying back to the heaven. They were offered the alternative of everlasting punishment in the Hereafter or in this world itself until the Day of Resurrection. They chose the latter. The angels in the heavens of course realized the immensity of the test Man was put to. And those who were once unsympathetic to mankind, now began to seek forgiveness for them through those beautiful words that Allah (swt) revealed in the Qur'an (42: 5):

    وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ لِمَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ [الشورى/5]

    "And the angels sing praises of their Lord, and seek forgiveness for those who are on the earth."
    Ibn Kathir presents a few reports which confirm much of the above story (including a hadith from Ahmad), but cautions that although many Companions and their Followers have narrated the stories, they all seem to be of Jewish origin. Shawkani does not deny the possibility of such an incident taking place.

    208. In the light of this verse and the hadith which says:

    "من أتى كاهناً فصدقة بما يقول فقد كفر بما أنزل على محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم".
    رواه البزار ورجاله رجال الصحيح خلا عقبة بن سنان وهو ضعيف: مجمع الزوائد ومنبع الفوائد

    "Whoever went to a fortune teller or a magician, accepting his word as true, disbelieved in what I have brought" – in view of this the opinion of some jurists is that a magician is to be put on the same footing as an apostate and put to death. Others believe, however, that he is not an apostate, but punishment for magic is, all the same, death. It is related by Imam Shafe`i and Ahmad b. Hanbal that `Umar (ra) sent orders to punish every (believing) magician with death, and, as Bijalah b. `Abduh reports, 'Accordingly, we beheaded three magicians.' This report is in Bukhari too. It is also reported that Walid b. `Uqbah, who was the governor of Madinah, had a magician who could kill a man and then quicken him. One day, an Ansari slew him saying, 'If he has the power to quicken the dead, let him come back to life.' Walid was very upset about it. He imprisoned the Ansari but released him after some time (Ibn Kathir).
    As for the truth of the magical feats, Imam Razi, who authored a separate book on magic, (which it is said he later disowned, removing it from the list of books authored by him), has mentioned eight kinds. The following free and abridged translation is from Ibn Kathir. Two kinds have been dropped out since they will not be considered as witchcraft today, rather, mere psychological tricks. Obviously, the list given by Imam Razi is not comprehensive. Perhaps, mesmerism, hypnotism, telepathy and many more kinds should also be added to the list.
    Kinds of Magic
    a) The kind which the ancient Babylonians practiced. They were worshippers of the seven stars and believed that the celestial objects have a say in the fate of man. It is to these that Ibrahim (asws) was sent.
    b) The magic (or extra sensory perceptions) which involves superstitious people on the one side and the strong willed on the other. To explain: a man will easily walk over a narrow path on the ground, but will be very fearful of falling off a narrow bridge; or the effect produced by the staring into very bright red color, or things that are rotating fast, etc. They can have ill effects on a superstitious person. To this category belongs the effect of the 'evil eye' which on the one hand is caused by the strong willed and on the other, affects the superstitious. Accordingly, a hadith says:

    الْعَيْنُ حَقٌّ وَلَوْ كَانَ شَىْءٌ سَابَقَ الْقَدَرَ سَبَقَتْهُ الْعَيْنُ - صحيح مسلم

    "The evil eye is a reality. If anything could overtake the predestined, it would be the evil eye." To explain further: men are composed of an earthly body and a heavenly soul. Now, if the soul is more powerful than a body, then it is attached more to the heavenly system and hence overpowers its own and another person's mind and body. As against that, if the body is inclined more toward the earthly existence then it will have a weak soul which will be susceptible to the influences of the powerful souls. The strength of the soul itself can be achieved through decrease in food intake, withdrawal from the people and abstinence from fraudulent piety (riya').
    At this juncture Ibn Kathir breaks in to make his own point. He says: "This is the explanation of the 'states' (ahwal, sing, hal) of the Sufiya and Awliya' Allah. Of this in turn are two kinds: one approved by Islam, and the other, not. The one approved by Islam is that in which the man is a close and strict follower of the Shari`ah, is pious, knows the right from wrong, and behaves rationally and in accordance with the rules of the Shari`ah in and out of his 'state.' This kind of 'state' is a God given gift bestowed by Allah upon whom of His servants He will. This, however, does not fall in the category of sahar of the Shari`ah definition. The other kind of 'state' (haal) which is disapproved by Islam is the one in which the man of the 'state' does not observe the rules of the Shari`ah in and out of his 'state.' Although it is Allah who causes these 'states,' it is no blessing from Him. It is of the kind that Dajjal will be endowed with."
    Ibn Kathir's remarks end here.
    c) A third kind of magic involves cooperation of the earthly jinn. Of the jinn there are two kinds: the believers and the unbelievers. The unbelieving jinn are known as Shayatin. It is maintained by those who practice occult sciences that it is easier to work ways of cooperation with the earthly jinn than those flying around in the first firmament.
    d) The fourth kind does not involve anything but tricks, sleight of hand and casting of spells that give the appearance of reality. Some scholars say that the performance of the magicians in the court of Fir`awn was of this kind. Hence Allah (swt) described it in the following words (7: 116):

    فَلَمَّا أَلْقَوْا سَحَرُوا أَعْيُنَ النَّاسِ وَاسْتَرْهَبُوهُمْ وَجَاءُوا بِسِحْرٍ عَظِيمٍ [الأعراف/116]

    "And when they threw, they cast a spell upon the people's eyes; overawed them and produced a mighty spell."
    At another place it was said (20: 66):

    فَإِذَا حِبَالُهُمْ وَعِصِيُّهُمْ يُخَيَّلُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ سِحْرِهِمْ أَنَّهَا تَسْعَى [طه/66]

    "And lo! Their ropes and their staffs, by their magic, appeared to him as if they were crawling (like snakes)."
    e) The fifth kind includes feats performed with the help of strange tools and instruments, such as mathematical contraptions, like a horse with a trumpet in its leg, blowing the trumpet at every hour, or those images that laugh and cry. These feats of course should not be counted as magic because they are produced by the application of physical laws and which can be imitated by anyone ready to apply himself to the task with some diligence. To this category also belong those tricks practiced by the Christians of Jerusalem who have lit a lamp in a Church which seems to burn continuously without fuel. The fuel is in fact secretly supplied, known and admitted by the Church men but considered a miracle by the laity; or the bird that a priest had planted in the Church spire with a secret door below. In the season of the year when the olives in the Church yard were ready to be plucked, the priest opened the secret door letting in blasts of wind that made the artificial bird chirp and attract other birds. A flock of birds that were attracted plucked the olives to the wonder of the laity who thronged to watch the miracle of the birds plucking the olives almost on call.
    f) A sixth kind involves certain medicines (and herbal plants) that, as we all know, have their effects on the body, but assumed by the common people as feats of magic.
    Razi's quote as presented by Ibn Kathir ends here.

    209. This shows how serious a crime the break up of a family is in the sight of Islam. A hadith recorded by Muslim says:

    "إِنّ إِبْلِيسَ يَضَعُ عَرْشَهُ عَلَىَ الْمَاءِ. ثُمّ يَبْعَثُ سَرَايَاهُ. فَأَدْنَاهُمْ مِنْهُ مَنْزِلَةً أَعْظَمُهُمْ فِتْنَةً. يَجِيءُ أَحَدُهُمْ فَيَقُولُ: فَعَلْتُ كَذَا وَكَذَا. فَيَقُولُ: مَا صَنَعْتَ شَيْئاً. قَالَ: ثُمّ يَجِيءُ أَحَدُهُمْ فَيَقُولُ: مَا تَرَكْتُهُ حَتّىَ فَرّقْتُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ امْرَأَتِهِ. قَالَ: فَيُدْنِيهِ مِنْهُ وَيَقُولُ: نِعْمَ أَنْتَ".

    "Satan sets his throne on waters and spreads his disciples among the people. Then, (as he gathers them back for a report), the nearest to him is the one who does the greatest of mischief to mankind. So that when one comes back and reports that he did not part from a man until he forced him to speak such and such (evil things), Satan says, 'By God. You achieved nothing.' This goes on, until one shows up who says, 'I did not part from a man until I had separated him from his wife.' Satan congratulates him, hugs him, and draws him close to himself saying: 'Yes, you!'" (That is, you have achieved something) Ibn Kathir.
    Majid quotes: "The commonest form of magic was the love charm, especially the love charm required for an illicit amour. Such magic was practiced especially by women so that magic and adultery frequently are mentioned together....The context of the passages in Exodus which mention sorcery clearly shows that it was associated with sexual license and unnatural vices' (Jewish Encycl. VIII. p. 255)."
    Mawdudi comments: "This was the depth of moral depravity to which these people had fallen. A people cannot sink to a lower level of moral degeneracy than when adulterous affairs become their favorite pastime, and when seducing a married woman is considered a boastful achievement. The matrimonial relationship is, in truth, the very foundation of man's collective life. The soundness of human civilization depends on the soundness of the relationship between the two sexes. Hence, nothing could be worse than the person who strikes at the very foundation of the structure which supports him and the society as a whole."

    210. This, it must be noted, is an unfailing rule, i.e., no magician can cast his spell on anyone, or cause any harm, without the will of Allah (swt).
    Rulings on Magic
    a) The consensus of Muslim scholars is that, regardless of the kind, practice of magic is prohibited.
    b) Learning of magical arts is also prohibited. But a minority opinion is that its learning for the sake of curing Muslims is not prohibited, provided the need is immediate and the learning does not require uttering words of disbelief.
    c) Punishment for a Muslim practicing the craft would depend on the kind of magic: one requiring utterance of words of disbelief is punishable with death.
    d) Those charms, amulets etc., are also prohibited in which the help of the jinn or Shayatin is sought.
    e) It is also prohibited to use the words of the Qur'an or hadith to cast spell with the intention to cause harm.

    وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ آمَنُوا وَاتَّقَوْا لَمَثُوبَةٌ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ ۖ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ (103)

    2|103| Had they believed and been pious, surely, the reward with Allah would have been better if they but knew.

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَقُولُوا رَاعِنَا وَقُولُوا انْظُرْنَا وَاسْمَعُوا ۗ وَلِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ (104)

    2|104| O believers,211 do not say "ra’ina" (while addressing the Prophet). Say, "unzurna,"212 and listen (to him carefully).213 A painful chastisement awaits the unbelievers.

    211. A literal translation would be "O ye who have believed," or, "O you who have attained to faith."
    "This is the first instance of the usage of this expression which has occurred 89 times in the Qur'an, and implies in its structure that the faith residing in the hearts of those thus addressed ought to respond with obedience and submission (Sabuni).

    212. "Ra`ina" of the original means "listen to us," "but the term, innocent in itself, was turned by a little twist in pronunciation into a word of reproach and insult by the Jews when addressing the holy Prophet," (Majid) hence the Muslims were forbidden the use of the term while addressing the Prophet and ordered to employ another term "unzurna" which means "look upon us," or "pay attention to us," and which could not be given the same twist.
    Mawdudi writes: "When the Jews visited the Prophet they tried to vent their spite by using ambiguous expressions in their greetings and conversations. They used words which had double meanings, one innocent and the other offensive.... Ostensibly they maintained the decorum of respect and courtesy while sparing no underhand means to insult the Prophet.... They used the expression ra`ina, which meant 'kindly indulge us'.... It was possible, however, for the expression to be used with quite a different shade of meaning. In Hebrew, for instance, there is a word similar to it which means: 'Listen, may you become deaf.' In the same language it also means arrogant, ignorant and fool. In actual conversation it was also used on occasions when one wanted to say: 'If you listen to me, I will listen to you.' When it was pronounced with a slight twist of the tongue it turned into ra`ina, meaning our shepherd."
    Ibn Kathir comments: In this verse Allah has forbidden us from following the ways of the unbelievers: either in deeds or in words... The Prophet is reported to have said in a hadith of Ahmad (also in Majma` al Zawa'id: H. b. Ibrahim):

    « بُعِثْتُ بِالسَّيْفِ حَتَّى يُعْبَدَ اللَّهُ لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَجُعِلَ رِزْقِى تَحْتَ ظِلِّ رُمْحِى وَجُعِلَ الذِّلَّةُ وَالصَّغَارُ عَلَى مَنْ خَالَفَ أَمْرِى وَمَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْ » رواه أحمد وفيه عبد الرحمن بن ثابت وثقه ابن المديني وغيره وضعفه أحمد وغيره،وبقية رجاله ثقات - مجمع الزوائد ومنبع الفوائد .

    "I have been commissioned with the sword with the Doomsday close at hand, so that Allah alone, who has no partners, may be worshipped. My sustenance has been placed under the shadow of my spear; and humiliation and subordination has been written upon him who will oppose my mission. And he who imitated a people is one of them."

    213. So that you may not have to make him repeat what he has said. The expression, 'and listen' could also mean: listen to him with the intention to obey unlike the Jews who said to their Prophet "we have heard, but we will not obey" (Zamakhshari).

    مَا يَوَدُّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَلَا الْمُشْرِكِينَ أَنْ يُنَزَّلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَخْتَصُّ بِرَحْمَتِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ ذُو الْفَضْلِ الْعَظِيمِ (105)

    2|105| The unbelievers do not like it at all - neither the people of the Book,214 nor the pagans - that anything good should be sent down to you by your Lord. But it is Allah who chooses for His mercy whom He will. Allah indeed is infinitely Bountiful.215

    214. "In contradistinction to the idolaters, Islam gives this name, 'the people of the Book' to the Jews and Christians on account of their possessing, in a falsified form though, divine books of revelation, and grants them a privileged position" (Majid).

    215. "So He can be as Gracious to the descendants of Isma`il as He has been to the race of Israel" (Majid).

    مَا نَنْسَخْ مِنْ آيَةٍ أَوْ نُنْسِهَا نَأْتِ بِخَيْرٍ مِنْهَا أَوْ مِثْلِهَا ۗ أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ (106)

    2|106| We do not abrogate a verse, or cause it to be forgotten, but substitute with one better than it or similar to it.216 Have you not known that Allah has power over all things?

    216. "This refers to the objections raised by the opponents of Islam to the abrogation of certain laws and their replacement by others during the early days of Islam. The main objectors were the Jews. Their objective was not to know the truth but to cast doubt on the Divine origin of the Qur'an. In refutation God states that He being the Absolute Sovereign has unlimited authority both to abrogate previous injunctions and to cause people to forget the injunctions He wants them to forget" (Mawdudi).
    Ibn Kathir comments: To raise such objections is disbelief. In addition, there is no basis in reason for such objection, for Allah orders what He wishes, and He acts as He wills. Moreover, abrogation has also occurred in previous revelations. For instance, it was lawful for the sons of Adam to marry their sisters. Later it was declared unlawful. Again, it was lawful for the children of Israel to have two sisters as wives at one time, until the Mosaic law prevented it. And again, Allah ordered Ibrahim to slaughter his son, but later abrogated the commandment.
    Majid writes: "There is nothing to be ashamed of in the doctrine of certain laws, temporary or local, being superseded or abrogated by certain other laws, permanent and universal, and enacted by the same Law giver, especially during the course of promulgation of that law. The course of Qur'anic Revelation has been avowedly gradual. It took about 23 years to finish and complete the Legislation. Small wonder, then, that certain minor laws, admittedly transitory, were replaced by certain others, lasting and eternal....It must be, however, clearly understood that the doctrine of abrogation applies to 'law' only, and even there to those of minor or secondary importance. Beliefs, articles of faith, principles of law, narratives, exhortations, moral precepts, and spiritual verities, none of these is at all subject to abrogation or repeal."
    Qurtubi relates the following. Once when `Ali (ra) entered the mosque he found a man addressing the people. He enquired what the man was doing. He was told he was admonishing. `Ali said: "He is not admonishing the people. He wants to be known that he is so and so, son of so and so." Then he ordered the man to be presented to him. When he came he asked him if he knew which verses of the Qur'an abrogated others. The man said he did not. `Ali told him to get out of the mosque and never to engage himself in this kind of activity again.
    Thanwi points out: The verse carries the implication that what descends upon a man (causing losses) without him being its cause will be replaced by something similar or better. So let him not grieve over it.
    It might also be pointed out that just as abrogation occurred, it also happened that a verse, or more, or a whole chapter was revealed and then, when the contingency was over, was removed from the people's memory (Au.). It is reported by Ubayy b. Ka`b and `A'isha (ra) that surah al Ahzab was originally as long as surah al Baqarah (until a large portion of it was erased from memory) Qurtubi.
    As for the contingency itself, the scholars are agreed that in its early days Islam was passing through special circumstances which required very special laws. They were repealed once those very special circumstances disappeared. However, Islam is now well established. Neither an abrogation nor repeal is now allowable (Au.).

    أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۗ وَمَا لَكُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ (107)

    2|107| Have you not known that to Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth? And besides Allah you have neither a protector nor helper.

    أَمْ تُرِيدُونَ أَنْ تَسْأَلُوا رَسُولَكُمْ كَمَا سُئِلَ مُوسَىٰ مِنْ قَبْلُ ۗ وَمَنْ يَتَبَدَّلِ الْكُفْرَ بِالْإِيمَانِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَاءَ السَّبِيلِ (108)

    2|108| Do you want to make demands on your Prophet the way demands were made on Musa aforetime?217 He who exchanges belief for unbelief has indeed lost the right path.218

    217. The rendering into English of the original "tas'alu" as "make demand" is in keeping with the later part of the verse which condemns it as an act of disbelief, and refers to, according to one report, the demand of the unbelievers on the Prophet to bring down a Book right in front of their eyes from the heavens (Ibn `Abbas). This is also Ibn Kathir's preferred meaning.
    Nonetheless, Ibn Kathir himself, as well as some other commentators have applied the verse to instances of the Companions seeking from the Prophet minor details of the law. Allah (swt) forbade them in words (5: 110):

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا لَا تَسْأَلُوا عَنْ أَشْيَاءَ إِنْ تُبْدَ لَكُمْ تَسُؤْكُمْ وَإِنْ تَسْأَلُوا عَنْهَا حِينَ يُنَزَّلُ الْقُرْآَنُ تُبْدَ لَكُمْ [المائدة/101]

    'O believers, question not concerning things which, if they were revealed to you, would vex you. But if you ask about them while the Qur'an is being revealed, they will be revealed to you.' The Prophet (saws) also instructed his Companions not to ask him too many questions. A hadith (of Muslim) says the Prophet (saws) told them:

    « ذَرُونِى مَا تَرَكْتُكُمْ فَإِنَّمَا هَلَكَ مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ بِكَثْرَةِ سُؤَالِهِمْ وَاخْتِلاَفِهِمْ عَلَى أَنْبِيَائِهِمْ مَا نَهَيْتُكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوا وَمَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ فَائْتُوا مِنْهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ »

    "Let me alone so long as I leave you alone. Those who went before you were destroyed because of excessive questioning and their disputations with their Prophets. So, when I forbid a thing, avoid it and when I order you to do a thing, go ahead and do it to the extent possible." Accordingly the Companions asked him few questions. Bara' bin `Azib says: "A year would pass and I could not ask the Prophet about something I wanted to, in awe of him. We used to wish that a Bedouin would appear (and question him about things we did not have the courage to ask, since the Bedouins were unlikely to know that the Qur'an had frowned upon questioning)."

    218. "Lit., 'whoever takes a denial of the truth in exchange for belief' i.e., whoever refuses to accept the internal evidence of the truth of the Qur'anic message and demands, instead, an 'objective' proof of its divine origin (Manar I, 416f.) that which was 'asked of Moses aforetime' was the demand of the children of Israel to 'see God face to face' (cf. 2:55)." Asad

    وَدَّ كَثِيرٌ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ لَوْ يَرُدُّونَكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ إِيمَانِكُمْ كُفَّارًا حَسَدًا مِنْ عِنْدِ أَنْفُسِهِمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الْحَقُّ ۖ فَاعْفُوا وَاصْفَحُوا حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَ اللَّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ (109)

    2|109| Many of the people of the Book aspire to make you unbelievers after you have believed219 out of jealousy rising in their hearts220 even after the truth has become apparent to them. Forgive them, and overlook,221 until Allah sends His command.222 Indeed Allah has power over all things.223

    219. It is related that Finhas b. `Azura', Zayd b. Qays and some other Jews met Hudhayfa b. Al Yaman, and `Ammar b. Yasir after the battle of Uhud. They taunted the latter: "Can you not see what has befallen you? If you had been in the right you would not have been defeated. Come and join us in our religion. It will be a better religion for you, since we are better guided than you." `Ammar replied: "What do you think about the breaking of an oath?" They said: "A terrible thing." He said: "Then I have given an oath that I'll never forsake Muhammad in my life." The Jews said: "This man has turned a Sabe'i (so leave him alone)." Then Hudhayfa said: "As for me, I am quite satisfied with Allah as my Lord, Islam as my religion, the Qur'an as my guide, Ka`ba as my qiblah, and believers as my brothers." When the two returned to the Prophet, he told them: "You spoke rightly and you have attained success." It was then that this verse was revealed: "Many of the unbelievers aspire...." (Razi and others).

    220. The word used in the original for "jealousy" is "hasad." There are two kinds of hasad. One in which a man desires that the person endowed with something good be dispossessed of it. Such jealousy is prohibited in Islam. Says a hadith about this kind of hasad (Razi):

    فَإِنّ الْحَسَدَ يَأْكُلُ الْحَسَنَاتِ كما تَأْكُلُ النّارُ الْحَطَبَ

    "Hasad eats away good deeds as (fast as) fire eats away wood." The other is the kind in which a person becomes desirous of obtaining a thing after having seen it in, or with, another person, but has no rancorous feeling toward him nor does he wish the dispossession of the thing by the person envied. This is permissible. A hadith sahih says (Qurtubi):

    « لاَ حَسَدَ إِلاَّ فِى اثْنَتَيْنِ رَجُلٌ آتَاهُ اللَّهُ الْقُرْآنَ فَهْوَ يَتْلُوهُ آنَاءَ اللَّيْلِ وَآنَاءَ النَّهَارِ ، وَرَجُلٌ آتَاهُ اللَّهُ مَالاً فَهْوَ يُنْفِقُهُ آنَاءَ اللَّيْلِ وَآنَاءَ النَّهَارِ » - صحيح البخارى

    "Hasad is not allowed except of two persons: One, he whom Allah gave the (gift of) the Qur'an and he stands with it before his Lord day and night; second, a man whom Allah (swt) gave wealth and he spends of it day and night."
    Imam Razi has devoted about eight pages discussing kinds, causes and treatment of hasad.

    221. "Forgive them and overlook" are not the best words for "f`afu" and "isfahu"; for "the first implies a forgiving (behind which there is no vindictiveness), while the second term implies the removal of all ill feelings from the heart concerning the person being forgiven" Qurtubi. Thus "safh" is a higher state of "`afw."

    222. The new orders that Allah (swt) had promised were issued a few years later when He revealed (9: 5):

    فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ [التوبة/5]

    "Therefore, slay the idolaters (of Arabia) wherever you find them" (Ibn Kathir), and (9: 29):

    قَاتِلُوا الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلَا بِالْيَوْمِ الْآَخِرِ وَلَا يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَلَا يَدِينُونَ دِينَ الْحَقِّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حَتَّى يُعْطُوا الْجِزْيَةَ عَنْ يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ [التوبة/29]

    "Fight those who do not believe in Allah (swt) and the Last Day, and do not forbid what Allah (swt) and His Messenger have forbidden such men as practice not the religion of Truth, of those who have been given the Book until they pay the tribute of hand and have been humbled" Ibn Kathir and Ibn Jarir.

    223. That is, He who has power over all things will either forgive them or guide them to Islam (Ibn Jarir).

    وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ ۚ وَمَا تُقَدِّمُوا لِأَنْفُسِكُمْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ تَجِدُوهُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ (110)

    2|110| And offer Prayers (assiduously and spiritedly), pay the zakah, and whatever good you send forward for yourselves, you shall find it with your Lord.224 Verily, Allah is aware of all that you do.

    224. A hadith says:

    أنّ العبد إذا مات قال الناس ما خَلَّف وقالت الملائكة ما قدّم

    "When a man dies people enquire about what he left behind, while the angels ask about what he sent forward."
    But the above hadith could not be located in major works (Au.).
    Bukhari and Nasa'i, report:

    أيُّكم مالُ وارثه أحبُّ إليه من ماله؟ قالوا : يا رسول الله ، ما منا أحدٌ إلا مالُه أحبُّ إليه؛ قال : فإن مالَه ما قدّم ومال وارثه ما أخّر

    The Prophet (saws) asked, "To which of you is the wealth of his inheritors dearer than his own wealth?" The Companions replied, "To none of us is the wealth of his inheritors dearer than his own." The Prophet said, "But your wealth is that which a man sends forward. And the wealth of the inheritors is that which he leaves behind.'"
    It is reported of `Umar (ra) that when he visited the graveyard of Baqi` al Gharqad he addressed the dead in the following words,

    السلام عليكم أهلَ القبور ، أخبارُ ما عندنا أن نساءكم قد تزوّجن ، ودُوركم قد سُكنت ، وأموالكم قد قُسمت . فأجابه هاتف : يابن الخطاب أخبار ما عندنا أن ما قدّمناه وجدناه ، وما أنفقناه فقد ربِحناه ، وما خلّفناه فقد خسرناه .

    "Peace upon you, people of the graves! The news from us is that your women have remarried; your houses have been occupied; and your wealth has been distributed." A voice replied, "O `Umar b. al Khattab! Our news is that whatever we sent forward, we have found it; what we spent, we have profited from it; and what we left, we lost it!" (Qurtubi).

    وَقَالُوا لَنْ يَدْخُلَ الْجَنَّةَ إِلَّا مَنْ كَانَ هُودًا أَوْ نَصَارَىٰ ۗ تِلْكَ أَمَانِيُّهُمْ ۗ قُلْ هَاتُوا بُرْهَانَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ (111)

    2|111| And they say, ‘None shall enter Paradise except he who is (according to the Jews) a Jew or (according to the Christians) a Christian.' These are their illusions.225 Tell them, ‘Bring your proof if you be true (in your claim).'

    225. Nothing materializes from dreams. A hadith says:

    سنن الترمذى الْكَيِّسُ مَنْ دَانَ نَفْسَهُ وَعَمِلَ لِمَا بَعْدَ الْمَوْتِ وَالْعَاجِزُ مَنْ أَتْبَعَ نَفْسَهُ هَوَاهَا وَتَمَنَّى عَلَى اللَّهِ ». قَالَ هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ

    "Intelligent is the man who takes account of himself and works for the Hereafter. And weak is the man who follows his base desires and fastens hopes (of forgiveness) on his Lord" (Razi).
    The hadith is in Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, with the former declaring it Hasan (Au.).

    بَلَىٰ مَنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ فَلَهُ أَجْرُهُ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ (112)

    2|112| Nay indeed, whosoever submits himself to Allah,226 and he is sincere,227 his reward is with his Lord. No fear shall be on them, neither shall they grieve.228

    226. "Lit., "who surrenders his face unto God." Since the face of a person is the most expressive part of his body, it is used in classical Arabic to denote one's whole personality, or whole being. This expression, repeated in the Qur'an several times, provides a perfect definition of islam, which derived from the root verb aslama, "he surrendered himself" means "self surrender [to God]": and it is in this sense that the terms islam and muslim are used throughout the Qur'an" (Asad).

    227. It is sincerity on which depends the weight and worth of an act. Allah (swt) will not accept anything that is not purely for Him. The very first hadith in Bukhari says:

    إِنَّمَا الأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّاتِ

    "Actions are by intentions." That is, actions will be judged by the intentions behind them. Another hadith (of Muslim: Au.) says:

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى صُوَرِكُمْ وَأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَلَكِنْ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ وَأَعْمَالِكُمْ

    "Allah does not look at your faces or wealth. He looks at your hearts and deeds."
    Intention
    What Imam Razi has written here can be summed up as follows: When an ignorant man hears about intention and how important it is to be of good intentions, he says to himself, (sometimes actually uttering the words), 'I intend to please Allah by this act ... of trade, or commerce,’ or whatever he is engaged in. This is an error; for intentions cannot be made this way. Intentions are something that spring forth from the bottom of the heart in a spontaneous response to one's actions, without recourse to a choice. A full stomached man cannot say for instance, 'I intend to be hungry,' and be actually hungry the next moment. That cannot happen. Rather, he will have to work the means that produce the desire in one's heart for food. Right intentions therefore, also need to be produced through the conviction of the heart and mind. This can be brought about by the knowledge of the rewards, punishments and consequences that result from the deeds, as well as from the knowledge, deep seated in the soul, that it is Allah alone who has all the power, who can reward and punish, and none else can do that besides Him. The stronger this conviction, gained by means of knowledge, the purer the intentions.

    228. Thus the verse lays down a rule for salvation. It does not lie in being a Jew, a Christian, or a Muslim. It lies in total submission to Allah and in leading a righteous life in accordance with the dictates of Revelation. Quite unmindful of this rule, the Jews, Christians and Muslims, all lead a life of sin with total disregard of the Hereafter, and yet fasten hope on their Lord that they will be ushered into Paradise simply because of the fact that they are Jews, Christians or Muslims (Ma`arif).

    وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ لَيْسَتِ النَّصَارَىٰ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَىٰ لَيْسَتِ الْيَهُودُ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَهُمْ يَتْلُونَ الْكِتَابَ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ قَالَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ مِثْلَ قَوْلِهِمْ ۚ فَاللَّهُ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ (113)

    2|113| The Jews say, ‘The Christians are on nothing.' And the Christians say, ‘The Jews are on nothing,' while they both read the Book.229 So say those who have no knowledge, making similar statements.230 Allah will decide between them on the Day of Judgment in all those matters over which they were differing.

    229. These verses were revealed to refute the Jews and Christians, who, while drawing inspiration from the Holy literature common to them, dismissed each other's faiths as being without any basis. Ibn `Abbas said (Ibn Kathir, Razi): When the Christians of Najran came to see the Prophet (saws) in the first year after hijrah, the Jews began to argue with them. Rafi` b. Hurmala (a Jew) told them, 'You Christians are on nothing.' He rejected both `Isa as well as the Gospels. In reply a man from Najran told him that the Jews were on nothing. He denied Musa as well as the Tawrah. Allah revealed this verse.

    230. Making statements of this sort requires knowledge of the Scriptures. Now, when those who have the Scriptures, make such irresponsible statements, then, what about those who have no knowledge whatsoever of the Scriptures? (Au.).

    وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنْ مَنَعَ مَسَاجِدَ اللَّهِ أَنْ يُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ وَسَعَىٰ فِي خَرَابِهَا ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ مَا كَانَ لَهُمْ أَنْ يَدْخُلُوهَا إِلَّا خَائِفِينَ ۚ لَهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا خِزْيٌ وَلَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ (114)

    2|114| And who can do greater wrong than he who prevents Allah's Name from being raised in the places of worship and strives to destroy them?231 It was not for such to enter them but in fear. For them is ignominy in the present world and a mighty chastisement awaits them in the world to come.

    231. There are two opinions about what occasioned the revelation of this verse. One, preferred by Ibn Jarir (and based on opinions of Mujahid, Qatadah, and Hasan al Basri), is that it refers to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem at the hands of the (pagan) Romans, in which the Christians took active part. A second opinion (based on the opinions of Ibn `Abbas and Zayd, and of Ibn Kathir's preference), is that it refers to the Arab polytheists preventing the Muslims from worshipping in the Grand Mosque at Makkah. If the earlier interpretation is accepted as true then the "destruction" (referred to in the latter part of the verse) would be actual and physical. But, if the second interpretation, which is weightier of the two, is treated as valid, then it is figurative.
    Asad writes: "It is one of the fundamental principles of Islam that every religion which has belief in God as its focal point must be accorded full respects, however much one may disagree with its particular tenets. Thus, the Muslims are under an obligation to honor and protect any house of worship dedicated to God, whether it be a mosque or a church or a synagogue (cf. the second paragraph of 22:40); and any attempt to prevent the followers of another faith from worshipping God according to their own lights is condemned by the Qur'an as sacrilege."
    Mosques
    Since the textual word "masajid" has occurred for the first time, Imam Razi has dealt with the subject of construction, visit, decoration, and rules pertaining to the mosques with his usual thoroughness. We shall present only the main points here.
    Construction: When some Companions objected to `Uthman the third caliph's intention to expand the Prophet's mosque at Madinah, he said:

    مَنْ بَنَى لِلَّهِ مَسْجِدًا بَنَى اللَّهُ لَهُ مِثْلَهُ فِى الْجَنَّةِ (سنن الترمذى)

    "I have heard the Prophet (saws) say, 'Whoever built a mosque for the sake of Allah, will have a house built for him in Paradise by Him.'"
    (According to Tirmidhi, thehadith is trustworthy: Au.).
    Another hadith says,

    "خير البقاع المساجد وشر البقاع الأسواق"

    "The best of places in the sight of Allah are mosques, and the worst, the commercial centers."
    (Haythami added that except for a minor glitch, the report is trustworthy: Au.).
    Visiting Mosques: A hadith (in Bukhari: Au.) says,

    إِذَا تَوَضَّأَ فَأَحْسَنَ وَأَتَى الْمَسْجِدَ ، لاَ يُرِيدُ إِلاَّ الصَّلاَةَ ، لَمْ يَخْطُ خُطْوَةً إِلاَّ رَفَعَهُ اللَّهُ بِهَا دَرَجَةً ، وَحَطَّ عَنْهُ خَطِيئَةً

    "When a man makes ablution and starts for the mosque for no other reason but to offer Prayers, then, with his every step a sin is erased and with the next step his position is elevated in Paradise." A report says that the family of Banu Salamah, whose dwellings were a little way off, intended to shift to the vicinity of the Masjid al Nabawi. The Prophet (saws) asked them if what he heard of their intention was true. They affirmed. He said,

    يَا بَنِى سَلِمَةَ دِيَارَكُمْ تُكْتَبْ آثَارُكُمْ دِيَارَكُمْ تُكْتَبْ آثَارُكُمْ

    "O Banu Salamah, stay put in your dwellings. Your footsteps are registered, your footsteps are registered."
    (The report is in Muslim: Au.).
    Decorating the Mosques: Ibn `Abbas says the Prophet (saws) said:

    ما أمرت بتشييد المساجد

    "I have been ordered not to raise the walls of the mosque high." When `Umar the second Caliph ordered a mosque built, he instructed the contractor: "Take care to shelter the people from rain. And beware that you use red or yellow paints. That will divert the attention of the worshippers."
    It is reported of Anas that he was passing by a place along with a few friends. When he intended to offer Prayers in a mosque, someone suggested, "I wish we could Pray in such and such a mosque." He enquired, "What mosque?" They said, "A new mosque yonder there." Anas said, "I have heard the Prophet (saws) say:

    سيأتي على أمتي زمان يتباهون في المساجد ولا يعمرونها إلا قليلاً

    'A time will come when my people will compete with each other in building mosques. But they will not pray in them.'"
    Worldly Dealings inside the Mosques: The Prophet (saws) has said:

    إذا رأيتم من يبيع أو يبتاع في المسجد فقولوا : لا أربح الله تجارتك

    "If you find a man selling or buying in a mosque, say, 'May Allah bless you not in your dealing.'"
    Sleeping in the Mosques: Some scholars permit sleeping in the mosques. But Ibn `Abbas used to say, "Do not sleep in them, nor take your siesta there."
    Sanctity: A hadith says:

    من أكل من هذه الشجرة المنتنة فلا يقربن مسجدنا فإن الملائكة تتأذى مما يتأذى منه الإنس

    "Let him not, who ate onion or garlic come into the mosque. The angels dislike those smells that the humans dislike." (That is, it is the raw ones that have been prohibited: Au.).
    Qurtubi adds the following points:
    With this verse (i.e. "And who can do greater wrong than he who prevents Allah's Name from being raised in the places of worship?"), as the basis, the jurists say:
    a) women should not be prevented from Praying in the mosques,
    b) another mosque should not be built next to one already existing, if the intention is to create division among the Muslims,
    c) there should not be two Friday mosques in a single town,
    d) a single mosque should not have two imams,
    e) two congregations should not be allowed in the same mosque
    f) once a place is marked for Prayers, it becomes public property, and,
    g) if a man allocates a place in his house exclusively for Prayers for himself or for the people of the house, it remains his property, but if he declares it open to the public, it becomes public property and he cannot reclaim it.

     

    وَلِلَّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ ۚ فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّوا فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ (115)

    2|115| To Allah belong the east and the west. So whithersoever you turn, there is Allah's Face.232 Verily Allah is All embracing, All knowing.

    232. Once again there are several opinions. We shall state three. First, the verse was revealed in answer to the Jews who objected to the change in the direction of orientation in Prayers (qiblah) from Bayt al Maqdis in Jerusalem to Masjid al Haram at Makkah. Second, it refers to a group of Companions who, in a dark night during a journey, Prayed in different directions but discovered in the morning that they hadn't oriented themselves properly. When they mentioned this to the Prophet (saws), this verse was revealed. A third opinion is that it was revealed when the Prophet (saws) prayed for Najashi of Abyssinia at his death. The Companions were surprised that he died a Muslim, and expressed some misgivings about what direction he faced while offering his Prayers. Allah (swt) then revealed: "To Allah belong the East and the West."
    Of course, it is quite possible that all these incidents took place in close range of time, invoking the revelation of this verse (Au.).
    Majid quotes the following from "The Muslim World", New York, January, 1937, p.13): "From very early times and in more than one ethnic religion, the direction toward which the worshipper made his prayer was considered of great importance.... The Essenes prayed in the direction of the rising sun and the Syrian Christians also turned eastward at prayer. The Zoroastrians attached great importance to the points of the compass in their ritual of purification or prayer and in the building of the fire temples, the Bareshnum, and the towers of silence ... In the Anglican Church the import and importance of the eastward direction is still a matter of grave discussion."

    وَقَالُوا اتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ وَلَدًا ۗ سُبْحَانَهُ ۖ بَلْ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ كُلٌّ لَهُ قَانِتُونَ (116)

    2|116| And they say, ‘Allah has taken a son.'233 Glory to Him! Nay. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. All are bent to His Will.234

    233. Bukhari has the following to report from the Prophet in explanation of this verse:

    عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ قَالَ اللَّهُ كَذَّبَنِي ابْنُ آدَمَ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ ذَلِكَ وَشَتَمَنِي وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ ذَلِكَ فَأَمَّا تَكْذِيبُهُ إِيَّايَ فَزَعَمَ أَنِّي لَا أَقْدِرُ أَنْ أُعِيدَهُ كَمَا كَانَ وَأَمَّا شَتْمُهُ إِيَّايَ فَقَوْلُهُ لِي وَلَدٌ فَسُبْحَانِي أَنْ أَتَّخِذَ صَاحِبَةً أَوْ وَلَدًا.‏

    "Allah said: 'Son of Adam cries lies to Me, while it behooves him not to do that. He calls Me names which behooves him not. As for his crying lies to Me, it is his belief that I cannot resurrect him in the form and shape he was. And his calling Me names, is to say that I have a son. Glorified I am and above that I should take a son or a wife.'" And a hadith in the Sahihayn says:

    لاَ أَحَدَ أَصْبَرُ عَلَىَ أَذىً يَسْمَعُهُ مِنَ اللّهِ عَزّ وَجَلّ. إِنّهُ يُشْرَكُ بِهِ، وَيُجْعَلُ لَهُ الْوَلَدُ، ثُمّ هُوَ يُعَافِيهِمْ وَيَرْزُقُهُمْ

    "No one is more forbearing with insults than Allah (swt). People ascribe a son to Him yet He feeds them and gives them peace" (Ibn Kathir).
    Majid writes: "According to the Christians, God the Son is the second Person of the Blessed Trinity. He is the only begotten and eternal Son of the Father. He is consubstantial with the Father' (CD. p.912). The first two articles of the Apostle's creed run: `I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.' The form of the words "ittakhadha" `Hath taken unto him' suggests that the reference is, in particular, to the `Adoptionists' Christianity which held that Christ as Man was only the adoptive Son of God (CD. p. 13). The Adoptionists hold `that Christ was a mere man, miraculously conceived indeed, but adopted as the Son of God only by the supreme degree in which he had been filled with the divine wisdom and power' (UHW. IV. p. 2331). They asserted that `Jesus was a man imbued with the Holy Spirit's inspiration from his baptism and so attaining such a perfection of holiness that he was adopted by God and exalted to Divine dignity' (EBr. I. p.177)."

    234. It is reported of `Ali (ra) that he told a Christian: "If Jesus had not rebelled against God refusing to worship Him, I would have become a Christian." The man protested saying: "How can you say that about Jesus when we know that he was totally devoted to God, turning to Him in obedience and worshipping Him all the time?" `Ali said: "If Jesus was God himself, how come he worshipped someone else? It is a slave and a creation of God that worships God." The Christian had no reply (Razi).

    بَدِيعُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَإِذَا قَضَىٰ أَمْرًا فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ (117)

    2|117| He is The Originator235 of the heavens and earth! When He decrees a thing He says to it, ‘Be' and it is.236

    235. The word in the original is badi` which is used for the act of creation involving no previous example.
    Majid writes: "He is the Creator of all that exists; its sole Maker and Master. That alone describes the correct relationship between Him and the world. To ascribe to Him the grossly materialistic relationship of fatherhood and sonship, in however etherealised a form, is the height of absurdity."

    236. That is, the creative act is verbal and the mode of creation is directly opposed to the principle that nothing can be created from nothing. But, is this act of creation with a word kun really contradictory to scientific postulates? Perhaps not, for the substance of all things, is, in the final analysis, matter. And matter can be converted into energy. In fact the physicists say matter is a form of energy. Now, if the word can be interpreted as a form of energy, then there will be no mystery in the act of creation with a kun. (Adopted from "The Qur'anic Phenomenon" by Malek Bennabi).
    However, the point here is to demonstrate the speed with which the act of creation is executed (Razi).
    Ibn Kathir writes: There is no need to suggest that Allah (swt) took a son simply because Jesus was born without a father since Allah (swt) creates with verbal power, as He said:

    إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَى عِنْدَ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ آَدَمَ خَلَقَهُ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ [آل عمران/59]

    "The example of Jesus with Allah (swt) is like that of Adam whom He molded from clay and then said, 'be,' and he was."

    وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ لَوْلَا يُكَلِّمُنَا اللَّهُ أَوْ تَأْتِينَا آيَةٌ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ قَالَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ مِثْلَ قَوْلِهِمْ ۘ تَشَابَهَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ ۗ قَدْ بَيَّنَّا الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يُوقِنُونَ (118)

    2|118| And those who have no knowledge say, ‘Why does Allah not speak to us or send us a sign?'237 So said those who went before them, uttering similar words. Their hearts are all alike. We have indeed made clear the signs for those who believe.238

    237. It is reported on the authority of Ibn `Abbas that Rafi` b. Huraymalah challenged the Prophet (saws) saying: "Muhammad! If you are truly a Messenger of God as you claim, then ask God to address us so that we can directly hear Him speak." Allah revealed this verse. However, Abu al `Aliyyah, Rabi` b. Anas, Qatadah and Suddi believe that this verse was revealed in reply to the demand made by the polytheists (Ibn Kathir).

    238. "The demand that God should speak to them directly was too absurd even to be answered. The question dealt with here concerns the demand for a sign that would convince them of the Truth. In response to this it is pointed out that many signs do exist, but all such signs are of profit only to those who are inclined to believe" (Mawdudi).

    إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ بِالْحَقِّ بَشِيرًا وَنَذِيرًا ۖ وَلَا تُسْأَلُ عَنْ أَصْحَابِ الْجَحِيمِ (119)

    2|119| Indeed, We have commissioned you (O Muhammad) with truth: as a bearer of glad tiding and a warner. And you shall not be questioned about the people of the Fire.239

    239. "The holy Prophet in the tenderness of his heart was exceedingly solicitous for the unbelievers. He is told now that his responsibility as a Prophet ended with his preaching the true doctrines and expounding the Message. Everyone was accountable for his own actions. Why should the Prophet burden his heart with anxiety on their account?" (Majid)
    Although the application is general, some believe that the verse was revealed in response to the Prophet wishing to know where his parents were: in Heaven or Hell (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    وَلَنْ تَرْضَىٰ عَنْكَ الْيَهُودُ وَلَا النَّصَارَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَتَّبِعَ مِلَّتَهُمْ ۗ قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّهِ هُوَ الْهُدَىٰ ۗ وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ بَعْدَ الَّذِي جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ ۙ مَا لَكَ مِنَ اللَّهِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ (120)

    2|120| The Jews and Christians will never be pleased with you until you follow their religion.240 Tell them, ‘Allah's guidance is the true guidance.' And if you followed their wishes after the Knowledge has reached you, you shall have no one besides Allah as friend or helper.

    240. That is, short of accepting their religion and culture, their way of life and thought, their way of setting up a government, managing the economy, and accepting a subservient position in all walks of life, there is no way in which you will be able to appease the Jews and Christians (Au.).
    Majid comments: "The argument addressed to the Prophet in effect is this: You cannot by any means win the support and goodwill of the Christians and the Jews, since it is dependent on your accepting and adopting their religion which, as they exist, are untrue and unsubstantial to the core. But your acceptance of such untruths is impossible, since it involves your being accursed of God, which you most emphatically are not. Your enjoyment of the highest Divine blessings and favors is self evident; hence your deviation from the right course is an absurdity."

    الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَتْلُونَهُ حَقَّ تِلَاوَتِهِ أُولَٰئِكَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ ۗ وَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ (121)

    2|121| Those unto whom We gave the Book recite it in the true manner of its recitation.241 It is these who believe in it. As for those who reject it, it is they indeed who are the losers.

    241. `Umar's explanation of the words, "they recite it in the true manner of its recitation" is that when the reader passes by the verses promising Paradise he prays for it and when passing by the verses mentioning the Fire, he seeks Allah's refuge from it. Ibn Mas`ud's interpretation is that he treats its lawful as lawful, the unlawful as unlawful, reads it exactly as Allah (swt) has revealed it, without altering a word or giving it a meaning that was not intended (Ibn Kathir).
    Asad writes: "[The verse can also be worded as]: 'Apply themselves to it with true application' i.e., try to absorb its meaning and to understand its design."

    يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَنِّي فَضَّلْتُكُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ (122)

    2|122| Children of Israel! Remember My favors wherewith I favored you, and (that) I preferred you above nations of the world.

    وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا لَا تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَنْ نَفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلَا تَنْفَعُهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلَا هُمْ يُنْصَرُونَ (123)

    2|123| Fear the day when no soul shall avail anything for any other; no ransom shall be accepted for it; nor intercession shall be of any use;242 neither shall they be helped.

    242. See notes 119 123 above.

    وَإِذِ ابْتَلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ رَبُّهُ بِكَلِمَاتٍ فَأَتَمَّهُنَّ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي جَاعِلُكَ لِلنَّاسِ إِمَامًا ۖ قَالَ وَمِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي ۖ قَالَ لَا يَنَالُ عَهْدِي الظَّالِمِينَ (124)

    2|124| And (recall) when Ibrahim was tested by his Lord with certain words,243 and he fulfilled them. He told him: ‘I shall appoint you an imam for the nations.' He pleaded: ‘And from my progeny (too).' He answered: ‘My covenant shall not reach the evildoers.'244

    243. The kalimaat of the original has been interpreted as the obligations incorporated into verse 112 of surah al Tawbah, verse 35 of surah al Ahzab, verses 1 10 of surah al Mu`minun, and verses 23 34 of al Ma`arij altogether 30 commandments (Ibn `Abbas Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    It is also reported of Ibn `Abbas that the allusion is to the tests that Ibrahim was subjected such as being thrown into the fire, journeys to distant lands for the delivery of the message, abandoning of wife and child in Arabia, sacrifice of his son, etc. (Ibn Kathir).
    Majid adds: Of course he was tried not because God was unaware of his qualities, but in order that the world may know the strength of his faith and the magnitude of his devotion (Majidi).

    244. After Allah (swt) mentioned some of the blessings He bestowed upon the Children of Israel, and spoke of the disgraceful manner in which they responded to those blessings, He now mentions the story of Ibrahim. The reason for doing this is that Ibrahim was accepted as a religious leader both by the polytheists of Arabia as well as the Jews and Christians. His story was related to them to impress on them that if Ibrahim was given imamah (leadership), it was only after he had unconditionally submitted himself to his Lord, and that one is not qualified to leadership automatically, without an effort on his part. Ibrahim himself was warned of the non eligibility of the imamah of the evildoers in his progeny (Based on Razi's notes).
    In the words of Muhammad Asad: "This passage, read in conjunction with the two preceding verses, refutes the contention of the Children of Israel that by virtue of their descent from Abraham, whom God made 'a leader of men', they are 'God's chosen people'. The Qur'an makes it clear that the exalted status of Abraham was not something that would automatically confer a comparable status on his physical descendants, and certainly not on the sinners among them."
    Mawdudi writes here: "A fresh subject is now broached.
    (1) At the outset, he (Ibrahim) journeyed for many years from Iraq to Egypt, and from Syria and Palestine to various parts of Arabia inviting people to serve and obey God.
    (2) Abraham's progeny descended in two main branches. One of these, the Children of Ishmael, lived in Arabia...The other branch consisted of the Children of Isaac. At the time when decadence flourished, this branch of the Abrahamic family gave birth first to Judaism, and subsequently to Christianity.
    (3) The true mission of Abraham was to invite the people to obey God...He was himself obedient to God and followed the teachings received from Him, and constantly strove to spread it and make all human beings live in obedience to it. After his death, the task of guiding the world was entrusted to the branch which had issued from Isaac and Jacob, and which came to be known as the Children of Israel. It is of this favour that God again and again reminds these people.
    (4) While addressing the Children of Israel in the last ten sections, God set forth the criminal record of the Jews, exposed their decadent state at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an, and made it clear to them that they had totally lacked gratitude to God for His favors and bounties. Not only had they ceased to guide the world, but had turned away from Truth and righteousness to such an extent that nearly all of them had lost the capacity to do good and to respond to Truth.
    (5) It is also intimated that the religious leadership of all mankind is not an exclusive privilege of Abrahamic blood, but rather the fruit of Abraham's sincere obedience and service to God, to which he had wholly consecrated himself. Only those who follow the way of Abraham, and guide the world along that way, are therefore entitled to the position of guidance and leadership. And since the Jews had abandoned it and become incapable of carrying out the mission of Abraham they were being removed from that position.
    (6) At the same time it is hinted that the non Israelite peoples who identified themselves with Abraham through Moses and Jesus had also veered from the way of Abraham.
    (7) It is also made clear that by God's will a Prophet, for whose advent Abraham and Ishmael had once prayed, was born in the other branch of the Abrahamic family...(and the) leadership now naturally devolves on those who follow this Prophet.
    (8) This proclamation of transfer of leadership naturally called for the proclamation of a change in the direction of Prayer. As long as the Israelites held the reins of the world's religious leadership, Jerusalem remained the centre of the mission of Islam and the qiblah of truth loving people...it was proclaimed that...the centre of God's true religion would be the place from which the message of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) had radiated.
    (9) The proclamation that the followers of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) had been designated to the religious leadership of mankind, and that the Ka`bah would now be the focal point of man's religious life, was followed by directives (beginning with verse 153 and continuing to the end of the surah) addressed to the Muslims. These directives were aimed at enabling the Muslims to acquit themselves creditably of the duties laid upon their shoulders as the bearers of their mission"
    (Quotation from Mawdudi ends here).
    Referring to the later part of the verse: 'My covenant shall not reach the evil doers,' Sayyid Qutb comments: "This is what Ibrahim peace be on him was told. This declaration, in such clear and unambiguous terms, also disqualifies all those who call themselves Muslims today: with their transgressions, corruptions, remoteness from the religion of God, and their habit of flinging away Islam behind them...while they declare their allegiance to it...while they turn away from it and its demands on life, forgetting that false claims cannot be the basis for demanding fulfillment of promises.
    "Islamic concept (of bonds and relationships) does not recognize those ties that are not based on faith and practice...It severs a generation from another, if one contradicts the other in faith and belief. Indeed, it severs relationships between father and son and husband and wife if the string of faith binding them together is broken. Therefore, pagan Arabs are one thing and Muslim Arabs are another. There is no relationship between them, neither any binding. Those of the people of the Book who believed in Islam are one people and those who deviated from the religion of Musa and `Isa are another. There isn't any relationship between them, nor any binding. The ummah (nation of Islam) is not the name given to a series of generations following each other, springing forth from one stock....It is the sum total of believers even if their racial origins, nationalities, and skin colors are different. This is the concept that emerges from the words of Allah that have been expressed here in this Sacred Revelation."

    وَإِذْ جَعَلْنَا الْبَيْتَ مَثَابَةً لِلنَّاسِ وَأَمْنًا وَاتَّخِذُوا مِنْ مَقَامِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ مُصَلًّى ۖ وَعَهِدْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ أَنْ طَهِّرَا بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْعَاكِفِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ (125)

    2|125| And when We made the House a point of (frequent) return245 for the people, and a sanctuary246 and (ordained): ‘Take to yourselves Ibrahim's Station247 for a place of prayer,' ordering248 Ibrahim and Isma`il that you two shall cleanse249 My House250 for the visitors, residents251 and those bowing down and prostrating themselves (therein).252

    245. The rendering of mathabatun as "point of frequent return" is based on the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Suddi, Sa`id b. Jubayr and others who say that "the people never feel they have had a heart's fill with the holy place and long to return to it as soon as soon they are back home after a visit to it."
    Majid quotes: "A shrine of immemorial antiquity, one which Diodorous Siculus, a hundred years before the Christian era, tells us, was even then 'most ancient, and most exceedingly revered by the whole Arab race' (Bosworth Smith, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 166)."

    246. Even in the days of ignorance (jahiliyyah), if a man encountered the murderer of his father in the Holy House (haram), he would not harm him (Ibn `Abbas Ibn Jarir). Hence, according to Abu Hanifah if a murderer takes shelter within the Holy Precincts, he might not be arrested so long as he remains inside, but may be besieged, (and food and water withheld), until he dies or gives himself up. However, if he kills in the haram he can be killed in the haram in retaliation (Qurtubi).
    Ibn Kathir adds: In fact, the city of Makkah had been declared Sacred by Allah (swt) even before the creation of the heavens and the earth took their final form. It is reported of the Prophet that at the time of the fall of Makkah he said:

    « إِنَّ هَذَا الْبَلَدَ حَرَّمَهُ اللَّهُ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ ، فَهْوَ حَرَامٌ بِحُرْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ ، وَإِنَّهُ لَمْ يَحِلَّ الْقِتَالُ فِيهِ لأَحَدٍ قَبْلِى ، وَلَمْ يَحِلَّ لِى إِلاَّ سَاعَةً مِنْ نَهَارٍ ، فَهْوَ حَرَامٌ بِحُرْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ ، لاَ يُعْضَدُ شَوْكُهُ ، وَلاَ يُنَفَّرُ صَيْدُهُ ، وَلاَ يَلْتَقِطُ لُقَطَتَهُ إِلاَّ مَنْ عَرَّفَهَا ، وَلاَ يُخْتَلَى خَلاَهُ » . فَقَالَ الْعَبَّاسُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِلاَّ الإِذْخِرَ ، فَإِنَّهُ لِقَيْنِهِمْ وَلِبُيُوتِهِمْ . قَالَ « إِلاَّ الإِذْخِرَ » - صحيح البخارى

    "Allah declared town Sacred the day He created the heavens and the earth. It will remain so until the Last Day. Fighting was not permitted in its precincts for anyone before me. It has not been allowed to me save for an hour or so. Therefore, it will remain sacred until the Day of Judgment by Allah's order. Let not, therefore, its thorns be plucked or its wild animals hunted. Things fallen in its wayside may not be picked up by anyone save its owner, and its grass may not be uprooted." `Abbas b. `Abdul Muttalib interjected and requested: "Except for the izkhar (a kind of grass), O Prophet, for it is for their craftsmen and for houses." The Prophet accepted and declared: "Except for its izkhar."
    The Prophet (saws) also prayed that Madinah be declared a sacred city. Muslim has recorded Abu Hurayrah's report:

    عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ أَنّهُ قَالَ: كَانَ النّاسُ إِذَا رَأَوْا أَوّلَ الثّمَرِ جَاؤوا بِهِ إِلَى النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم. فَإِذَا أَخَذَهُ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: "اللّهُمّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِي ثَمَرِنَا. وَبَارِكْ لَنَا فِي مَدِينَتِنَا. وَبَارِكْ لَنَا فِي صَاعِنَا. وَبَارِكْ لَنَا فِي مُدّنَا اللّهُمّ إِنّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَبْدُكَ وَخَلِيلُكَ وَنَبِيّكَ. وَإِنّي عَبْدُكَ وَنَبِيّكَ. وَإِنّهُ دَعَاكَ لِمَكّةَ. وَإِنّي أَدْعُوكَ لِلْمَدِينَةِ. بِمِثْلِ مَا دَعَاكَ لِمَكّةَ. وَمِثْلِهِ مَعَهُ". قَالَ: ثُمّ يَدْعُو أَصْغَرَ وَلِيدٍ لَهُ فَيُعْطِيهِ ذَلِكَ الثّمَرَ.

    "When the people plucked the first fruits of the season they would take it to the Prophet. He) would pray in the following words: 'O Allah! Grant us increase in our fruits. Bless our city. Grant us increase in our weights and measures. O Allah! Ibrahim was Your slave, Friend and a Prophet. I am also Your slave and Prophet. He prayed for Makkah. I pray to You for Madinah for the same things that Ibrahim prayed for Makkah, and for more.' Then he would ask for the youngest child among them and hand over the fruit to him."
    Muslim reports another hadith in which the Prophet (saws) is reported as supplicating in words:

    "إِنّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَرّمَ مَكّةَ. وَإِنّي أُحَرّمُ مَا بَيْنَ لاَبَتَيْهَا"

    "O Allah! Ibrahim declared the city of Makkah sacred. And I declare what is between the two mountains (of Madinah) also sacred."
    Ibn Kathir's quote ends here.

    247. "The Station of Ibrahim" is the stone which he employed to climb on, in order to raise the walls of the Ka`bah. He moved it about during the construction. And, according to a hadith of Jabir, when the Prophet (saws) had finished going around the Ka`ba, he offered two cycles of prayers (raka`ah) behind this stone and recited this verse (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). According to another report of Bukhari and others, `Umar b. Al Khattab used to say that Allah (swt) agreed with him on three things: one of which was "The Station of Ibrahim," about which he suggested to the Prophet that he pray near the "Station" and Allah (swt) sent His commandment to the same effect saying: "Take to yourselves Ibrahim's Station for a place for prayers."
    It remained around and was close to the wall of the House when, according to a report (Fath al Bari Alusi), `Umar the second Caliph got it moved to its present position. No Companion objected to the change of position.
    However, another opinion attributed to Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ata' and Nakha`i is that the Station of Ibrahim includes the entire area of the Haram (i.e. the Sacred precincts around the Holy Mosque) Majidi.

    248. The word in the text is `ahidna which literally means "We took pledge," or "We made covenant." But when it is used with the suffix "ila" then it means to enjoin or order (Alusi).

    249. The cleansing included physical purification such as from filth etc., as well as metaphorical, applying to evil words, obscenities, idols and polytheism (Ibn `Abbas, `Ata', Qatadah and others Ibn Kathir).

    250. "...the House is called "My House," to emphasize the personal relation of the One True God to it, and repudiate the Polytheism which defiled it before it was purified again by Muhammad" (Yusuf Ali).

    251. The literal meaning of ta'ifin is those who circumambulate the House. But here, those are meant who visit the House for pilgrimage. In contrast, by `akifin those residents of the city are meant who come in for prayers and rituals.
    Asad says: "The seven fold circumambulation (tawaf) of the Ka`bah is one of the rites of the pilgrimage, symbolically indicating that all human actions and endeavors ought to have the idea of God and His oneness for their centre."

    252. The verse served as a prediction also. One can see a never ending stream of visitors entering the city of Makkah every day, while the House is not neglected by the residents themselves who are equally devoted to it. Round the clock the House is filled with thousands of people whose sincere devotion can move the hardest of hearts. The attraction to the House is so great that in our own times, the best hour at which one can circumambulate the Ka`bah and offer two rak`ah of prayers near the Station of Ibrahim somewhat peacefully, is after midnight or later.
    A Neo Muslim, Muhammad Ali of American origin, expressed his feelings in the following words: "I have had my nice moments in my life. But the feelings I had while standing on Mount Arafat on the day of 'hajj', was the most unique. I felt exalted by the indescribable spiritual atmosphere there as over a million and a half pilgrims invoked God to forgive them of their sins and bestow on them His choicest blessings. It was an exhilarating experience to see to people belonging to different colors, races and nationalities, kings, heads of states and ordinary men from very poor countries all clad in two simple white sheets praying to God without any sense of either pride or inferiority. It was a practical manifestation of the concept of equality in Islam" (Au.).

    وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هَٰذَا بَلَدًا آمِنًا وَارْزُقْ أَهْلَهُ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ مَنْ آمَنَ مِنْهُمْ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۖ قَالَ وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَأُمَتِّعُهُ قَلِيلًا ثُمَّ أَضْطَرُّهُ إِلَىٰ عَذَابِ النَّارِ ۖ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ (126)

    2|126| And when Ibrahim prayed: ‘O My Lord! Make this land a peaceful place and provide with fruits such of them as those who believe in Allah and the Last Day.' He replied: ‘As for him who will not believe, I shall grant him enjoyment for a while and then drive him to the chastisement of the Fire an evil homecoming.’253

    253. Ibn Kathir relates a long tradition coming from Ibn `Abbas, which has its origin in Bukhari.
    The Story Of Ibrahim, Hajar and Isma`il
    Ibn `Abbas is reported to have said: "Ibrahim brought Hajar and Isma`il (peace be on them) and left them in Makkah at a barren and deserted place called Doha. When he turned to go, Hajar followed him saying, 'Ibrahim! Are you leaving us in this barren and deserted place?' Ibrahim did not turn to her despite her repeated pleading. But when she asked: 'Is this by Allah's command?' He replied: 'Yes.' She said: 'Then Allah will not waste us.' Ibrahim continued. When he was out of sight he turned around and prayed (14: 37):

    رَبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنْتُ مِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِي زَرْعٍ عِنْدَ بَيْتِكَ الْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ فَاجْعَلْ أَفْئِدَةً مِنَ النَّاسِ تَهْوِي إِلَيْهِمْ وَارْزُقْهُمْ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ [إبراهيم/37]

    'O Allah! I am abandoning my progeny in an arid valley by Thy Sacred Holy House, in order, O our Lord, that they may establish the Prayers. So fill the hearts of the people with its love and provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks.'
    "After some time, the water that Hajar had brought was exhausted and Isma`il began to cry out of thirst. She ran to the nearest hill Safa in search of water. She could not find any living being around. She descended and ran to the child again. After some time she climbed the hill Marwah on the opposite side with the same hopes. But there was nothing but barren lands. She descended down to her child. She did that running between the hills several times seven in all. And the Prophet (saws) said, interjects Ibn `Abbas, ‘this is the reason why a pilgrim is required to circumambulate between the two hills seven times.'
    "When she climbed Marwah for the last time, she heard a sound and saw an angel near her child. He was scraping the sand with his wings. Water began to gush forth and she began to pile sand around it to prevent it from flowing away. And, interjected Ibn `Abbas, the Prophet (saws) said: 'May Allah be kind to Umm Isma`il. I wish she had left it flowing. It would have become a river.'
    "She settled there. Then a branch of the Banu Jurham tribe happened to pass by. They spotted birds encircling and guessed that there must be water below there. They sent two scouts who reported spotting Umm Isma`il, her son and the water. They sought her permission to alight and make the place their home. She allowed them on the condition that she would retain her hold on the water. They agreed and settled there with their women and children. When Isma`il grew up he married a woman from among them.
    "Then Ibrahim (asws) came on a visit. (By then Hajar was dead). When he reached the place, the son had gone hunting. He asked his son's wife how they were faring. She began to complain of the hard times they were facing. Ibrahim left the place with the message for Isma`il that he was to replace the threshold of his door. When Isma`il came back he felt that a visitor had been in. On enquiry, she narrated the story ending with the message. He told her, 'That was my father and he has asked me to divorce you.' He sent her away and married another woman from the same tribe.
    "Ibrahim came for a second time. Again Isma`il was away. His wife invited him in and fed him. When he asked her how they fared, she praised Allah (swt) and said they were happy and satisfied with the blessings of Allah (swt). He asked her what they lived on and she said, 'Meat and water.' Ibrahim prayed for them and departed leaving the message that she was to tell her husband to retain the door threshold.
    "Then Ibrahim came for a third time. This time the two met and Ibrahim told Isma`il that Allah (swt) had ordered him to build a House. The two then built the House."
    Further, it is reported that Ibrahim used to come riding on the buraq (Ibn Kathir, abridged).
    It may be noted that the story of Isama`il's slaughter has been ignored in this version (Au.).

    وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ وَإِسْمَاعِيلُ رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ (127)

    2|127| And when Ibrahim was raising the foundations of the House, and Isma`il,254 (both supplicating): ‘O our Lord! Accept this (labor) from us.255 You indeed are the All hearing, the All knowing.

    254. Bukhari has reported through `A'isha that the Prophet (saws) told her:

    أَلَمْ تَرَيْ أَنَّ قَوْمَكِ لَمَّا بَنَوْا الْكَعْبَةَ اقْتَصَرُوا عَنْ قَوَاعِدِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَلَا تَرُدُّهَا عَلَى قَوَاعِدِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ قَالَ لَوْلَا حِدْثَانُ قَوْمِكِ بِالْكُفْرِ لَفَعَلْتُ

    "Do you know that when your people rebuilt the Ka`bah they made it smaller than the original construction of Ibrahim?" (Because they ran short of building material). She said: "Why do you not order it rebuilt on Ibrahim's design?" He said: "I would have, but for the people's freshness in Islam." According to a report of Muslim, the Prophet (saws) said:

    لَوْلاَ أَنَّ قَوْمَكِ حَدِيثُو عَهْدٍ بِجَاهِلِيَّةٍ - أَوْ قَالَ بِكُفْرٍ - لأَنْفَقْتُ كَنْزَ الْكَعْبَةِ فِى سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلَجَعَلْتُ بَابَهَا بِالأَرْضِ وَلأَدْخَلْتُ فِيهَا مِنَ الْحِجْرِ

    "If not for the people's freshness in Islam, I would have spent the treasure of Ka`bah in the way of Allah, lowered its door to the ground level and included the 'Hijr' (area: or the 'Hateem') to bring it within the building."
    According to another report of Bukhari, the Prophet said:

    ٍ - لَنَقَضْتُ الْكَعْبَةَ فَجَعَلْتُ لَهَا بَابَيْنِ بَابٌ يَدْخُلُ النَّاسُ ، وَبَابٌ يَخْرُجُونَ

    "I would have broken down the Ka`bah, and added another door; one for entry and the other for exit" (Ibn Kathir).
    Construction of the Ka`bah
    Ibn Kathir narrates the following in the words of Ibn Ishaq.
    "The Quraysh decided to rebuild the Ka`bah when the Messenger was thirty five years of age (and not yet a Prophet). They were planning to roof it but feared to demolish it, for it was made of loose stones above a man's height, and they wanted to raise it and roof it because men had stolen part of the treasure of the Ka`bah which used to be in a well in the middle of it. The treasure was found with Duwayk a freedman of B. Mulayh b. `Amr of Khuza`ah. The Quraysh cut his hands off; they say that the people who stole the treasure deposited it with Duwayk.
    "Now a ship owned by a Greek merchant had been cast ashore at Jeddah and had become a total wreck. They took its timber off and got it ready to roof the Ka`bah. It happened that there was a Copt in Makkah who was a carpenter, so everything they needed was ready at hand. Now a snake used to come out of the well in which the sacred offerings were thrown and sun itself everyday on the wall of the Ka`bah. It was an object of terror because whenever anyone came near it, it raised its head and made a rustling noise and opened its mouth. So that they were terrified of it. While it was thus sunning itself one day, God sent a bird which seized it and flew off with it. Thereupon Quraysh said, 'Now we may hope that God is pleased with what we propose to do. We have a friendly craftsman, we have got the wood and God has rid us of the snake.'
    "Then Quraysh divided the work among themselves; (but) the people were afraid to demolish the temple, and withdrew in awe from it. Al Walid b. al Mughira said, 'I will begin the demolition.' So he took a pick axe, went up to it saying, 'O God, do not be afraid. O God, we intend only what is best.' Then he demolished the part at the two corners. That night the people watched, saying, we will look out; if he is smitten we won't destroy any more of it and will restore it as it was; but if nothing happens to him then God is pleased with what we are doing and we will demolish it.' In the morning al Walid returned to the work of demolition and the people worked with him, until they got down to the foundation of Abraham. They came on green stones like camel's humps joined one to another.
    "A certain Traditionist told me that a man of the Quraysh inserted a crowbar between two stones in order to get one of them out, and when he moved the stone the whole of Makkah shook so they left the foundation alone.
    "The Quraysh tribes gathered stones for the building, each of them collecting and building by itself until the structure was finished up to the black stone, where controversy arose. Every tribe wished to lift it to its place. Arguments ensued until they went their several ways, formed alliances, and got ready for a battle. The Banu `Abdul Dar brought a bowl full of blood; they and the Banu `Adiyy b. Ka`b b. Lu'ay pledged themselves unto death and thrust their hands into the blood. For this reason they were called the blood lickers. Such was the state of affairs for four or five nights, and then Quraysh gathered in the mosque and took counsel and were equally divided over the issue.
    "A Traditionist reports that Abu Umayyah b. al Mughira b. `Abdullah b. `Umar b. Makhzum who was at that time the oldest man of Quraysh, urged them to make the first man to enter the gate of the mosque umpire in the matter in dispute. They did so and the first to come in was the Messenger of God. When they saw him they said, 'This is the trustworthy one. We are satisfied. This is Muhammad.' When he came to them and they informed him of the matter he asked them to bring him a cloak. When it was brought, he placed the black stone into the cloak and asked the leader of each tribe to hold it by its edge and lift it together. They did that so that when they got it into position he placed it with his own hand. And then the building went on above it." (Guillumme's translation slightly shortened).
    "The building remained (continues Ibn Kathir), on the design of the Quraysh until, in the year 60 A.H., it was burnt during the time of Ibn Zubayr. So Ibn Zubayr razed it to the ground and made those changes that the Prophet (saws) had wished: bringing the door to the ground level, adding another on the opposite side, and expanding it according to the size and shape Ibrahim (asws) had built. However, with his overthrow, Hajjaj, acting on the orders of Malik b. Marwan, got the building reconstructed on the lines of the Quraysh construction. Subsequently, when Malik b. Marwan learned of what `A'isha had to relate, he regretted that he demolished Ibn Zubayr's construction. Later, Harun al Rashid sought Imam Malik's counsel expressing his desire to rebuild the House on the pattern the Prophet (saws) had wished. Imam Malik discouraged him by saying that if he did that, he would make a plaything of the House. Since then the House has remained as it was. It will remain so until, as the Prophet (saws) has predicted, an Abyssinian man demolishes it. When that happens, it will be time for the appearance of Yajuj and Majuj (Gog and Magog). Nevertheless, it will be rebuilt and the people will continue to visit the House for pilgrimage even after the appearance of Yajuj and Majuj, as stated in a hadith of Bukhari.

    255. It is reported of Wuhayb b. Ward that when he read the verse: "O Lord! Accept this (effort) from us," he cried out, 'O Allah's Friend ("khalil")! You were building the sacred House, and fearing that your deed might not be accepted?!' (Ibn Kathir).
    Alusi adds: Their supplication to the effect that their effort may be accepted proves that it is not binding on Allah (swt) that He reward for a deed.

    رَبَّنَا وَاجْعَلْنَا مُسْلِمَيْنِ لَكَ وَمِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِنَا أُمَّةً مُسْلِمَةً لَكَ وَأَرِنَا مَنَاسِكَنَا وَتُبْ عَلَيْنَا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ (128)

    2|128| O Lord! Make us submissive to You256 and (generate) from our progeny a people submissive to You. And show us our holy rites,257 and turn to us. Surely You are the Relenting, the Merciful.

    256. Since they were already submitted to God, in these words they were seeking steadfastness in their devotion to Him.

    257. The majority of scholars believe that by the word manasik it is the hajj rites that are meant. However, according to others it is the ordinances that have been alluded to.

    رَبَّنَا وَابْعَثْ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ (129)

    2|129| And O Lord! Raise in them a Messenger from among them258 who shall recite Your verses to them, instruct them in the Book259 and Wisdom,260 and purify them.261 Indeed your are the Mighty,262 the Wise.'263

    258. The prayer was answered and Prophet Muhammad was raised among the children of Isma`il (Au.).
    Ibn Kathir writes: Imam Ahmad relates that Abu Umamah asked the Prophet about the beginning of the affair of Prophethood. He replied:

    دَعْوَةُ أَبِى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَبُشْرَى عِيسَى وَرَأَتْ أُمِّى أَنَّهُ يَخْرُجُ مِنْهَا نُورٌ أَضَاءَتْ مِنْهَا قُصُورُ الشَّامِ - مسند أحمد

    "I am the answer to Ibrahim's prayer, fulfillment of the prediction of Jesus, and my mother's dream who saw that a 'Light' had emanated from her belly and had lightened the palaces of Syria." (The report is in Ibn Hibban also: Au.).
    That is, it was first Ibrahim who prayed for his appearance. Then all subsequent prophets predicted his advent until `Isa spelled his name, as in the verse (61: 6):

    إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَمُبَشِّرًا بِرَسُولٍ يَأْتِي مِنْ بَعْدِي اسْمُهُ أَحْمَدُ [الصف/6]

    '[Jesus said] I am a Messenger from your Lord, confirming that which is in your hands of the Tawrah, and giving you glad tidings of a Messenger who will appear after me. His name will be Ahmad.'
    As for the mention of Syria in the hadith in connection with his mother's dream, it is indicative of the fact that Islam will acquire a firm foothold in Syria. It is Syria that will be the centre of Islam in the later days, and it is Syria where Jesus (asws) will reappear. A hadith sahih (in Muslim and others: Au.) says:

    لاَ تَزَالُ طَائِفَةٌ مِنْ أُمّتِي قَائِمَةً بِأَمْرِ اللّهِ، لاَ يَضُرّهُمْ مَنْ خَذَلَهُمْ أَوْ خَالَفَهُمْ، حَتّىَ يَأْتِيَ أَمْرُ اللّهِ وَهُمْ ظَاهِرُونَ عَلَى النّاسِ

    ‘A group of my ummah will remain upholding the truth. Those who try to disgrace them or oppose them will not succeed. (This will be the status) until Allah sends His command (concerning the Day of Judgment), while they retain the upper hand over the people."
    Ibn Kathir's quote ends here.
    Majid adds: "Mark the very clear reference in the OT reiterated in the NT, to the advent of a prophet from among the brethren of Israel, i.e., the Ismailites. `I will raise up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee' (Dt. 18:18). ‘Moses truly said unto the fathers: A prophet shall the Lord, your God, raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me' (Ac. 31:22)."

    259. This prayer was also answered and the Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Sabuni.

    260. Majid writes: "Hikmah" primarily is what prevents, or restrains, from 'ignorant behaviour,' but is usually used in the sense of 'wisdom.' It also means 'knowledge in matters of religion, and the acting agreeably therewith; and understanding."
    The most widely prevalent interpretation however is that by the term 'hikmah', the allusion is to the Sunnah of the Prophet.

    261. That is, purify them from "shirk" and other base qualities (Au.).
    Majid states the following:
    "The mission of this Ismailite prophet of God was thus to be fourfold:
    a) He will recite and deliver to his people the revelation exactly as he receives them, and will, in this sense, be a trusted Divine Messenger.
    b) He will not only transmit the Message but will also expound, interpret and illustrate the Teachings he is commanded to impart, and would, in this phase of his life, be a Divine Teacher.
    c) Besides explaining to the many the injunctions of the Divine law, he will also unravel to the elect of his people the deeper significance of the Divine wisdom, and will initiate them in the profundities of spirit and the subtleties of soul. He will, on this account, be known as an exponent of Divine Wisdom.
    d) He will, by his words and deeds, precept and practice, raise and uplift the moral tone of his people, will purge them of vice and immorality, and will make them pious and godly. He will in this capacity be called a Divine Reformer and Law giver."

    262. "I.e., able to grant every prayer" (Majid).

    263. "I.e., granting only such prayers as are, in His Infinite, Divine Wisdom, proper" (Majid).

    وَمَنْ يَرْغَبُ عَنْ مِلَّةِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِلَّا مَنْ سَفِهَ نَفْسَهُ ۚ وَلَقَدِ اصْطَفَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَإِنَّهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ لَمِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ (130)

    2|130| And who will turn away from the religion of Ibrahim save him who is a fool to himself?264 Indeed We chose him265 in the present world, and in the world to come he will be (in the ranks) of the righteous.

    264. The word used in the original is safiha which is applied to someone who is foolish and ignorant and hence estimates himself low (Raghib and others).
    "These words, safiha nafsah is the basis of the proverb, 'mun `arafa nafsah, `arafa rabbah', meaning, 'He who knows his self, knows his Lord'" (Thanwi).
    Zamakhshari says: It is said that the cause of revelation of this verse was as follows. Two Jews, Salamah and Muhajir, were invited by their cousin `Abdullah ibn Sallam to Islam. He reminded them that they were well aware that Ibrahim's religion was not Judaism, rather, surrender to God. Salamah embraced Islam but Muhajir refused. So Allah said: 'And who will turn away from the religion of Ibrahim save him who is a fool to himself...'"

    265. That is, chose him "as Our apostle and the leader of religion" (Majid).
    "Istafa: Chose; chose because of purity; chose and purified. It is the same root from which Mustafa is derived, one of the titles of Muhammad" (Yusuf Ali).
    In its root the word "istafa" is applied to the act of chaffing out the best part of anything (Alusi).

    إِذْ قَالَ لَهُ رَبُّهُ أَسْلِمْ ۖ قَالَ أَسْلَمْتُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (131)

    2|131| When his Lord said to him, ‘Surrender,' he said, ‘I surrender unto the Lord of the worlds.'266

    266. The term aslim of the original has been used here in the fullest sense of the word, i.e. submission to the will of Allah (swt), and not in the sense of submitting oneself to the rule of Islam; as for example, those about whom the Qur'an said (49: 14): "The Bedouins say, 'We have believed (aslamna).'" They were told: "Nay. But you have not yet believed. Rather say that you have surrendered. Faith has not yet entered your hearts." What has to be understood is that Islam is often synonymously employed for "iman," as, for instance, in this present verse. However, "iman" is not synonymous to "islam." Hence a "mu'min" is necessarily a "muslim," but a "muslim" is not necessarily a "mu'min too" (Qurtubi).
    This should also clear the doubt about the abrogation of previous religions. Since what is meant by the term "religion" when used in this context is the "Shari`ah" or the Law; what remains in force and stands confirmed is the "Religion of submission to the Will of Allah," which the Jews and Christians have abandoned.
    Mawdudi writes: "'Muslim' signifies he who bows in obedience to God, who acknowledges God alone as his Sovereign, Lord and Master, and the only object of worship, devotion and service, who unreservedly surrenders himself to God and undertakes to live his life in accordance with the guidance that has come down from Him. Islam is the appellation which characterizes the above mentioned belief and outlook which constitutes the core and kernel of the religion of all the Prophets who have appeared from time to time among different peoples and in different countries since the very beginning of human life."

    وَوَصَّىٰ بِهَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بَنِيهِ وَيَعْقُوبُ يَا بَنِيَّ إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَىٰ لَكُمُ الدِّينَ فَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ (132)

    2|132| Ibrahim enjoined the same to his sons, as did Ya`qub (saying), ‘Verily my sons! Allah has chosen this religion for you, so see that you die not save as Muslims.'267

    267. That is, you do not know when death will overtake you; maybe this day or this night. Therefore, remain submitted to Him every moment (Ibn Jarir with some modification).
    "That is, 'live a life of surrender to Allah;' for in most cases a man dies on what he lives. Further, this does not contradict the hadith in which the Prophet is reported to have said:

    إِنّ أَحَدَكُمْ لَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ الْجَنّةِ حَتّىَ مَا يَكُونُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهَا إِلاّ ذِرَاعٌ. فَيَسْبِقُ عَلَيْهِ الْكِتَابُ. فَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ النّارِ. فَيَدْخُلُهَا. وَإِنّ أَحَدَكُمْ لَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ النّارِ. حَتّىَ مَا يَكُونُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهَا إِلاّ ذِرَاعٌ. فَيَسْبِقُ عَلَيْهِ الْكِتَابُ. فَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ الْجَنّةِ. فَيَدْخُلُهَا

    "A man works the deeds of the people of Paradise, until he is at no more a distance from Paradise but an arm's length. But then his predestination overtakes him, he starts to work the deeds of the people of the Fire and ultimately falls into it. And a man works the deeds of the people of Fire, until he is at no more a distance from Fire but an arm's length. But his predestination overtakes him, he starts to work the deeds of the people of Paradise and ultimately enters into it." This hadith does not contradict the Qur'anic injunction that requires submission until the last breath, since other versions (as in Bukhari: Au.) of the above hadith add the words:

    فِيمَا يَبْدُو لِلنَّاسِ - صحيح البخارى

    "In what appears to the people." That is, it only appears to the people that the man is working the deeds of the people of Paradise or Fire, while in the knowledge of Allah it is otherwise (Ibn Kathir).
    The textual phrase also indicates that the demand is to remain surrendered to Allah (swt) 'at heart' and not surrendered in deeds, even if that is the demand during the life. For, at the time of death that is the only kind of surrender, (i.e. the surrender of the heart), that is possible. Hence the hadith (as in Tirmidhi, declared Sahih: Au.):

    اللَّهُمَّ مَنْ أَحْيَيْتَهُ مِنَّا فَأَحْيِهِ عَلَى الإِسْلاَمِ وَمَنْ تَوَفَّيْتَهُ مِنَّا فَتَوَفَّهُ عَلَى الإِيمَانِ

    "O Allah! Whomsoever You let live, let him live in Islam and whomsoever You give death, let him die on iman" (Alusi).

    أَمْ كُنْتُمْ شُهَدَاءَ إِذْ حَضَرَ يَعْقُوبَ الْمَوْتُ إِذْ قَالَ لِبَنِيهِ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ بَعْدِي قَالُوا نَعْبُدُ إِلَٰهَكَ وَإِلَٰهَ آبَائِكَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ إِلَٰهًا وَاحِدًا وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ (133)

    2|133| Why, were you present when death appeared before Ya`qub?268 When he asked his sons, ‘Whom will you serve after me?' They said, ‘We shall serve your God and the God of your fathers Ibrahim, Isma`il,269 and Is-haq One God; unto Him we have surrendered.'270

    268. Yusuf Ali writes: "The whole of the Children of Israel are called to witness one of their slogans, that they worshiped 'the God of their fathers.' The idea in their minds got narrowed down to that of a tribal God. But they are reminded that their ancestors had the principle of Islam in them: the worship of the One True and Universal God."
    The Bible also records the death bed talk of Jacob. But it is more of the nature of a verdict on the sons, than an admonition. Here is an excerpt:
    Assemble and hear, O sons of Jacob, and hearken to Israel your father. ...
    Reuben, you are my first born, my might, ... unstable as water, you shall not have pre eminence ...
    Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords ....
    Is'sachar is a strong ass ...
    Benjamin is a ravenous wolf ...
    The rest is in the same vein and concludes with the words:
    "When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed, and breathed his last...(Gen, ch. 49)
    The above corruption evoked the Qur'anic statement, "were you present .." (Au.).
    However, as Majid has pointed out, apart from the Bible, some other Jewish sources have also recorded Ya`qub's behest. For example, "He ordered all his children and grandchildren to avoid magic, idolatry, and all kinds of impurity, and to walk in the path of righteousness" (Jewish Encycl. I, 87). Although in the Talmudic version the main point surrender to God is not entirely missing, the emphasis is not on it (Au.).

    269. Isma`il (asws) who was Ya`qub's uncle has been included in the list of the fathers because, with the Arabs, an uncle is considered equal to the father and an aunt equal to the mother (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir). There are some ahadith also to this effect. For example, the Prophet (saws) is reported to have said about `Abbas, his uncle,

    « هذا بقية آبائي »
    "This is the remainder of my forefathers" (Zamakhshari).

    270. According to Wahidi this verse was revealed when the Jews said to the Prophet (saws), طDo you not know that Jacob instructed his sons at his death bed to remain Jewish?' (Alusi).
    Imam Razi points out that Ya`qub did not adulterate his last minute behest with anything else but "surrender to Allah alone until one's death." He laid great emphasis on that single point, as the Qur'anic text indicates, so that they miss neither the point nor the emphasis.
    Sayyid Qutb comments: "This scene from Ya`qub's death bed is an extraordinary one. It is of great significance...rich in implications...and greatly moving. A man is dying! What is the affair that occupies his mind most - at that hour? What is the thing that he is concerned about most while in his last breath? What is the issue that he wants to be assured about and seeks new resolves over? What is the legacy that he wants to leave behind for his sons? What is it that he is anxious that it be received by them securely and so wishes to hand it over to them in an assembly so that they might not miss any detail? It is the faith. It is the legacy. It is the treasure. It is the issue of all issues. It is an issue of such importance that even the pains of the last hours cannot distract him from it."

    تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ ۖ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُمْ مَا كَسَبْتُمْ ۖ وَلَا تُسْأَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ (134)

    2|134| That was a nation that has passed away. For them will be what they earned and for you what you earn. And you will not be questioned about what they used to do.271

    271. It is a very beautiful way of stating that if you believe, O Jews, that you are entitled to Paradise because of the deeds of your ancestors, as your holy literature asserts, then in all fairness you should be held responsible for whatever wrong they might have committed. But since you will not accept the responsibility for what they did, agreeing with the Qur'an when it states, 'and you will not be questioned for what they did,' then, obviously you cannot be rewarded for whatever good they did (Au.).
    "The Jews, in contrast to the Christian concept of `original sin,' had coined a new term `original virtue.' `The doctrine asserts that God visits the virtues of the father upon the children for His Name's sake and as a mark of grace' (JE. XII p. 441)" Majid.
    Majid also quotes from the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics: "In the Jewish scheme of salvation, the excellences of the three patriarchs also, (though this idea is far less emphasized), and indeed of all the righteous Israelites of the past are supposed to be thrown into a common stock for the benefit of their people, collectively and individually, in every age" (XI p. 144). And also, "The hopes of the individual Jew were based on the piety of holy ancestors: `We have Abraham as our father' (EBr. XII, 11th. ed. p.184)."
    Qurtubi comments: In this verse is the proof that a man earns the deeds he works, even if it is Allah (swt) who in reality is the Creator of those deeds. This is so because he has been given the power to discern and distinguish between (right and wrong).
    Yusuf Ali writes: "The doctrine of personal responsibility is the cardinal feature of Islam."
    Asad adds: "This verse, as well as verse 141 below, stresses the fundamental Islamic tenet of individual responsibility, and denies the Jewish idea of their being "the chosen people" by virtue of their descent, as well as by implication the Christian doctrine of an "original sin" with which all human beings are supposedly burdened because of Adam's fall from grace."
    Zamakhshari wrote: The Prophet (saws) is reported to have warned his own clan:

    « يا بني هاشم ، لا يأتيني الناس بأعمالهم وتأتوني بأنسابكم »

    "O Banu Hashim! Do not come to me stressing ancestral connections with me, while the people come to me with deeds."
    But the hadith could not be found in major works in the above words. The words of Muslim are:

    يَا بَنِى هَاشِمٍ أَنْقِذُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ مِنَ النَّارِ يَا بَنِى عَبْدِ الْمُطَّلِبِ أَنْقِذُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ مِنَ النَّارِ يَا فَاطِمَةُ أَنْقِذِى نَفْسَكِ مِنَ النَّارِ فَإِنِّى لاَ أَمْلِكُ لَكُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا غَيْرَ أَنَّ لَكُمْ رَحِمًا سَأَبُلُّهَا بِبَلاَلِهَا

    "O Banu Hashim! Save yourself from the Fire. O Banu `Abd al-Muttalib! Save yourself from the Fire. O Fatimah! Save yourself from the Fire, for I have no power (of any good) for you against Allah except that you deserve good treatment being blood kin which I shall do my best to serve" (Au.).
    Finally, here is Sayyid Qutb's commentary: "The foregoing passage makes distinct to us that the line which divides the people who have passed away and those of their progeny who were confronting this Call. It tells us that there is no relationship between the two. There is no question of a legacy, or room for any genealogical connection, between those that were present and those that have passed away: 'That was a nation that has passed away. For them will be what they earned and for you what you will earn. And you will not be questioned about what they used to do.'
    "Each had its own measure, its own way, its own model, and its own characteristics...They were a believing nation that bear no relationship with the corrupt and evil ones that followed. These followers are not the tail enders of that virtuous lot. No. These are a set of people and those were another set of people. These have a banner, and they had a banner. The concepts of faith of those people were different from the concepts of faith of these people. The concepts of the pagans of one epoch are not very much different from those of another epoch. The relationship with these is the relationship of nationality and race. As for the concept based in beliefs and faiths, it distinguishes between a generation of believers and a generation of criminals. Those who have beliefs contrary to this are not one nation with those who did not hold such beliefs. They are two different nations by the measure of Allah and so they are two different nations by the measure of the believers also. The nation (ummah) according to the concepts of faith, is the name of a group, the individuals of which come from every nationality, from every part of the earth, and are woven into one unit on the basis of faith. They are not a group that associates itself with a certain nation, or to a certain geographical area of the earth. This obviously is a concept that is becoming of a man who derives his humanity from the heavenly spirit, and not from the filthy properties of the earth."

    وَقَالُوا كُونُوا هُودًا أَوْ نَصَارَىٰ تَهْتَدُوا ۗ قُلْ بَلْ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا ۖ وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ (135)

    2|135| They say, ‘Be Jews or Christians, and you shall be rightly guided.'272 Tell them, ‘Rather the Religion of Ibrahim, the upright;273 and he was not of the idolaters.274

    272. It is said that `Abdullah ibn Suriya said to the Prophet, 'There is no guidance save that upon which we are. Therefore, follow us Muhammad and you will be rightly guided.' The Christians also said the same thing to the Prophet. So Allah revealed: "And they say, 'Be Jews or Christians...' (Ibn Kathir).

    273. Hanif is one who stays firm on a straight path, not inclining a bit towards anything or accepting any distraction.
    "Hanif literally is 'Inclining to a right state or tendency...and particularly inclining from any false religion, to the true religion' (LL)" Majid.
    Yusuf Ali adds: "The Jews, though taught Unity, went after false gods, and the Christians invented the Trinity or borrowed it from Paganism. We go back to the pure, 'hanif' doctrine of Abraham to live and die in faith in the One True God."
    Asad comments: "The expression 'hanif' is derived from the verb 'hanafa,' which literally means "he inclined [toward a state or tendency]" (cf. Lane II, 658). Already in pre Islamic times, this term had a definitely monotheistic connotation, and was used to describe a man who turned away from sin and worldliness and from all dubious beliefs, especially idol worship; and 'tahannuf' denoted the ardent devotions, mainly consisting of long vigils and prayers, of the unitarian God seekers of pre Islamic times."
    There were at least four persons in Makkah who had adopted "tahannuf." Waraqah b. Nawfal was one of them.

    274. That is, he was neither a Jew nor a Christian for the Jews or the Christians to affiliate themselves with. He was not a polytheist either, for the pagans of Makkah to claim affiliation with him as they did.

    قُولُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ وَمَا أُوتِيَ مُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَمَا أُوتِيَ النَّبِيُّونَ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ (136)

    2|136| Tell them, ‘We believe in Allah, in that which has been revealed unto us, that which was revealed unto Ibrahim, Isma`il, Is-haq, Ya`qub, and the Tribes,275 that which was given to Musa and `Isa, and that which the Prophets had been given by their Lord. We make no division between any of them.276 We have surrendered ourselves unto Him.

    275. By the words 'what was revealed unto the Tribes' the allusion is to the Revelation given to Ibrahim (asws) which was followed by his progeny. It has been ascribed to them because of their close following of the revelation; as it is mentioned in this very verse: 'We believe in that which have been revealed unto us.' Now, we know that the Qur'an was revealed to Muhammad and not to his followers. But since we accept it as our source of Guidance and hold fast unto it, it is as if it has been revealed unto us (Alusi).

    276. That is because a person who rejects one of them, is as though one who rejected all (Ibn Kathir).
    Mawdudi remarks: "The name Judaism, as well as the characteristic features and elaborate body of laws and regulations associated with it, emerged during the third or fourth century B.C. As for Christianity, in the sense of the body of dogmas and theological doctrines which characterize it, it came into existence long after Jesus (peace be upon him). The question that naturally arises is that, if man's guidance depends on following Judaism or Christianity how can Abraham and other Prophets and righteous people who are accepted as having been rightly guided even by the Jews and Christians be considered so when they were born several centuries before the birth of Judaism and Christianity. If they were rightly guided, from whom did they receive their guidance? Obviously their source of guidance and inspiration was neither Judaism nor Christianity since, in their times, these did not exist. So man's rectitude does not depend on those characteristics which led to the rise of Jewish and Christian particularisms; it rather depends on adopting that universal way to Truth which has guided and inspired men through the ages."
    He adds: "Those who believe in one particular Prophet and disbelieve in others do not in fact believe even in that particular Prophet in whom they claim to believe; for they have not grasped the nature of that universal `Straight Way' (al sirat al mustaqim) which was enunciated by Moses, Jesus and other Prophets. When such people claim to follow a Prophet they really mean that they do so out of deference to their forefathers. Their religion in fact consists of bigoted ancestor worship and blind imitation of inherited customs rather than sincere adherence to the directives of any Prophet of God."

    فَإِنْ آمَنُوا بِمِثْلِ مَا آمَنْتُمْ بِهِ فَقَدِ اهْتَدَوْا ۖ وَإِنْ تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّمَا هُمْ فِي شِقَاقٍ ۖ فَسَيَكْفِيكَهُمُ اللَّهُ ۚ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ (137)

    2|137| And (hence), if they believe in the like of which you have believed in, then they are rightly guided. But if they turn away, then, it is they who are in schism. Allah will suffice you (O Muslims) against them.277 He is the Hearer, the Knower.

    277. That is, when the truth has become evident and they show their backs to it, then surely it is they who are in schism. Obviously, this schism is sooner or later going to take the form of hostilities. But, when that happens, Allah (swt) will suffice you, O Prophet, and after him, his followers (based on Ibn Jarir).
    "We are thus in the true line of those who follow the one and indivisible Message of the One God, wherever delivered. If others narrow it or corrupt it, it is they who have left the faith and created a division or schism. But God sees and knows all. And He will protect His own, and His support will be infinitely more precious than the support which men can give" (Yusuf Ali).
    Ibn Abi Hatim has reported Ziyad b. Yunus as saying that a Caliph sent `Uthman's copy of the Qur'an to Nafi` ibn Abi Na`im for him to collate it with other copies. Ziyad asked Nafi`, "We have heard that when `Uthman was murdered his blood fell on the verse, 'Allah shall suffice you against them. He is the Hearer, the Knower.' Is that correct?" Nafi` told him, 'Yes, my eyes have seen his blood on those words" (Ibn Kathir).

    صِبْغَةَ اللَّهِ ۖ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ اللَّهِ صِبْغَةً ۖ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ عَابِدُونَ (138)

    2|138| Allah’s color. And who can be better at coloring than Allah?278 And we are His worshippers.

    278. "By the term 'sibghatullah' the allusion is to 'the religion of Islam' (Qatadah, Abu al `Aliyyah, Suddi). That is the true 'baptism water'" (Majid).
    Majid also writes: "'The dye of Allah' is grace on His part and absolute surrender on ours. 'Sibgha" is also 'Religion' and 'sibghatullah' means the religion of God,...because its effect appears in him who has it like the dye in the garment; or because it intermingles in the heart like the dye in the garment' (LL)."
    It is reported of Ibn `Abbas that he said: Christians used to bathe the newborn on the seventh day of its birth with a colored water (saffron color: Razi), after which they would declare, 'Now has the child become Christian' (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Qurtubi).
    Alusi, writes: The allusion by the word "sibgha," is to the state of (spiritual) purity that is attained through faith in One God (Alusi).
    Another explanation is that the allusion by "fitrah," is to the tawhid on which every child is born (Mujahid, Ibn Jarir, Razi, Alusi, Ibn Kathir).
    The meaning, therefore, is that it is not baptism or any other ceremony of coloring that colors anyone in the color of God. It is the belief in one True God, and obedience to the commands that He has sent through His messengers, that color a man in a hue that is recognizable in his conduct. It is this color that is approved by Allah (swt). It is this which is His color (Au.).

    قُلْ أَتُحَاجُّونَنَا فِي اللَّهِ وَهُوَ رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكُمْ وَلَنَا أَعْمَالُنَا وَلَكُمْ أَعْمَالُكُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُخْلِصُونَ (139)

    2|139| Say, ‘Do you dispute with us about Allah? while He is our Lord and your Lord.279 For us are our deeds, and for you yours. We are devoted in sincerity to Him.280

    279. The words, "in God" of the original mean "the religion of God," i.e., "Do you argue with us on the religion of God and claim that the true religion sent by Him is Judaism or Christianity?" It could also mean: "Are you contending with us the fact of God choosing a Prophet from among the Arabs and not from among you?" (Qurtubi and Alusi).
    The Jews and the Christians used to claim that they were closer to God than the Muslims because they were the "children of God." Allah (swt) refuted their claim, saying that no such special relationship exists between Allah (swt) and them. It is entirely by deeds that people will be judged, punished or rewarded (Qurtubi).

    280. Qurtubi writes: Junayd has said about 'ikhlas' (sincerity) that it is a secret between Allah (swt) and His slave. Neither the angel (that scribes human deeds) knows about it that he can note it, nor Shaytan knows it that he can corrupt it, nor yet the man's own passion knows it so that it can corrupt it.
    Alusi adds: Fudayl has defined it in these words: '(a) To give up doing something because of the people, is "riya'" (hypocrisy), (b) to do something to please them is "shirk" (association with Allah), and (c) to be free of the two is "ikhlas" (purity of thought and action).'
    Sulayman Al Darani has identified three signs of riya': (i) To be unenthusiastic about an act of worship when out of sight of the people, (ii) to do it zealously when in their sight, and (iii) to be pleased when praised for it.

    أَمْ تَقُولُونَ إِنَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطَ كَانُوا هُودًا أَوْ نَصَارَىٰ ۗ قُلْ أَأَنْتُمْ أَعْلَمُ أَمِ اللَّهُ ۗ وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنْ كَتَمَ شَهَادَةً عِنْدَهُ مِنَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ (140)

    2|140| Or, will you say that Ibrahim, Isma`il, Is-haq, Ya`qub and the Tribes were Jews or Christians?' Ask them, ‘Do you know better or Allah?' And who can do greater evil than he who conceals a testimony of Allah that is with him?281 Allah is not unaware of what you do.282

    281. That is, the Jews and Christians know in their hearts that these Prophets were neither Jews nor Christians, but refused to acknowledge the fact, thus concealing a testimony from their Lord (Ibn Kathir).

    282. That is, Allah (swt) is not unaware of your acts of concealment of the Truth (Ibn Jarir).
    Abu Hayyan has said: This verse (And Allah is not unaware of what you do) does not appear in the Qur'an but after the mention of a sin, as if to impress that Allah (swt) is not going to overlook it (Sabuni).

    تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ ۖ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُمْ مَا كَسَبْتُمْ ۖ وَلَا تُسْأَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ (141)

    2|141| That was a nation that has passed away. For them will be what they earned and for you what you earn. And you will not be questioned about what they were doing.283

    283. One explanation for the repetition of the verse, 'That was a nation that has passed away' is that the first was addressed to the Jews and Christians, and the second one to the Muslims to emphasize that even your efforts to affiliate yourselves with these great servants of Allah will be of no avail if you do not follow in their footsteps (Alusi).

    سَيَقُولُ السُّفَهَاءُ مِنَ النَّاسِ مَا وَلَّاهُمْ عَنْ قِبْلَتِهِمُ الَّتِي كَانُوا عَلَيْهَا ۚ قُلْ لِلَّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ ۚ يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ (142)

    2|142| Soon the fools284 among the people will say, ‘What has turned these (Muslims) away from the qiblah they were facing earlier?'285 Tell them, ‘To Allah belong the East and the West. He guides whom He will to a straight path.'286

    284. It may be noted that a word arising from the same root "safiha" (he fooled himself) has been used here as was used in verse 130 which said, 'And who will turn away from the religion of Ibrahim save him who is a fool unto himself?'

    285. A hadith in Bukhari reports Bara' ibn al `Azib as saying: "For sixteen or seventeen months after leaving Makkah the Prophet continued to offer prayers at Madinah facing Jerusalem. But it was his wish that the Holy Makkan Mosque be declared the qiblah. (Finally, the command came) and the first prayers that he offered facing the new qiblah was the after noon Prayers (`asr). A person who had prayed behind him passed by another mosque and found the congregation bowing in Prayers. He cried out: 'I swear by Allah that I have prayed with the Prophet (saws) facing Makkah.' Upon this the congregation turned around (one hundred and eighty degrees) to the new qiblah while still in prayer. Some Muslims had died before the qiblah was changed, so we didn't know what to think of them, (whether their prayers were valid or not). So Allah revealed, 'Allah was not such as to waste away your faith.'" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir and others, based on a hadith in Bukhari, Muslim and others).
    According to other reports, the Prophet (saws) used to pray in Makkah in such a way as to keep both the Holy Mosque as well as Jerusalem before him, but the two being on the opposite sides in Madinah such an arrangement was not possible. Therefore, he had to choose Jerusalem.
    Imam Ahmad has reported a hadith of `A'isha which says that the Prophet said:

    إِنَّهُمْ لاَ يَحْسُدُونَا عَلَى شَىْءٍ كَمَا يَحْسُدُونَا عَلَى يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ الَّتِى هَدَانَا اللَّهُ لَهَا وَضَلُّوا عَنْهَا وَعَلَى الْقِبْلَةِ الَّتِى هَدَانَا اللَّهُ لَهَا وَضَلُّوا عَنْهَا وَعَلَى قَوْلِنَا خَلْفَ الإِمَامِ آمِينَ

    "The people of the Book do not envy us over anything the way they envy us over (three things): Friday, to which Allah guided us and they missed it, the qiblah to which we have been guided and which they missed, and 'amin' behind the imam (in the Prayers)" Ibn Kathir.
    "From the incident of the change in qiblah is derived the principle that the Qur'an abrogates the Sunnah, as in this case the earlier orientation during prayers was based on Sunnah that the Qur'an abrogated. Also, the reliance of the Companions on a single reporter for changing their qiblah proves the validity of the principle in Islamic Law that ahadith of the 'aahaad' type have sufficient legal value" (Qurtubi).
    "Aahaad" ahadith are those that have a single narrator (a Companion) at the end of the chain of narrators, the number of subsequent narrators being of no consequence (Au.).

    286. This is the first answer to the objection raised by the unbelievers and the substance of the answer is: 'Who are you to object? It is Allah to whom belongs the Kingdom of the heaven and the earth. He orders as He will. His servants' duty is to obey as ordered and not to question' (Ibn Kathir, Thanwi).
    Furthermore, Ibn Kathir says, it is our duty to obey the commands and turn to the direction He orders. If He orders us to change the direction several times a day, then, as His slaves and servants we should comply with the orders.
    Wisdom behind the Qiblah
    Mufti Shafi` Deobandi has the following to state in explanation of the appointment of a qiblah for this community: It is commonly known that the strength of any collective system depends on the unity of its individuals. Excessive individualism is destructive to collective causes. Nations have tried to use race, lineage, country, geographical area, color or language as the basis of unity. But these are not things of choice. A white man cannot become black. A Pakistani cannot undergo re-birth as an African. Therefore, these kinds of factors cannot be used as a basis to unite a very large number of people. In fact, they are the dividing factors. Islam has not tried to unite people on the basis of factors over which they have no control. So too, it has not tried to impose those factors of unity that go against their love of freedom and an innate dislike of restrictions. It has also not tried to do so on the basis of principles that are against human reason and aspirations. For instance, it did not recommend a common dress code, rather, left it to the choice of the people, only delineating limits of exposure of the body. Islam unites the people on the basis of faith and belief. And to strengthen the unity it has taken simple measures that are possible for everyone to observe without inconvenience and at no cost - whether they be villagers or townsmen, Indian or English. One such factor of unity is the direction to be observed during the five daily prayers (Ma`arif, abridged).

    وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا ۗ وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِي كُنْتَ عَلَيْهَا إِلَّا لِنَعْلَمَ مَنْ يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّنْ يَنْقَلِبُ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيْهِ ۚ وَإِنْ كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلَّا عَلَى الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللَّهُ ۗ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَحِيمٌ (143)

    2|143| Thus We have appointed you a justly balanced nation287 that you might be a witnesses to the people and the Prophet a witness to you.288 And We did not appoint the qiblah which you were observing but to distinguish between him who follows the Messenger and him who turns on his heels;289 although, this was a hard thing indeed save for those whom Allah guided.290 And Allah was not such as to allow your faith go wasted.291 Truly Allah is Most Kind, Most Merciful.292

    287. Literally, "wasat" is the middle. Incidentally, this Surah has 286 verses. One half of that is 143, which is the verse in which this term "wasat" occurs (Au.).
    "Wasat" is, according to me, the "justly balanced," since this ummah is between two excesses of the Jews and Christians. The Jews cried lies to their Prophets, killed them and corrupted the Holy Scriptures sent to them, while the Christians declared Jesus the son of God, and invented priesthood. There is a hadith which corroborates this meaning. It is also the opinion of Abu Sa`id al Khudri, Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah and others" (Ibn Jarir).
    Asad writes: "...the community that keeps an equitable balance between extremes and is realistic in its appreciation of man's nature and possibilities, rejecting both licentiousness and exaggerated asceticism. In tune with its oft repeated call to moderation in every aspect of life, the Qur'an exhorts the believers not to place too great an emphasis on the physical and material aspects of their lives, but postulates, at the same time, that man's urges and desires relating to this 'life of the flesh' are God willed and, therefore, legitimate. On further analysis, the expression 'a community of the middle way," (Asad's translation of 'wasat': Au.), might be said to summarize, as it were, the Islamic attitude towards the problem of man's existence as such: a denial of the view that there is an inherent conflict between the spirit and the flesh, and a bold affirmation of the natural, God willed unity in this twofold aspect of human life. This balanced attitude, peculiar to Islam, flows directly from the concept of God's oneness and, hence, of the unity of purpose underlying all His creation: and thus, the mention of the 'community of the middle way' at this place is a fitting introduction to the theme of the Ka`bah, a symbol of God's oneness."
    Shafi` Deobandi adds: This Ummah is justly balanced in every aspect of its existence.
    a) In faith and belief: between the extremes of the Jews and Christians, (as pointed out by Ibn Jarir above).
    b) In matters of worship: as against the other nations who either neglected it altogether, or went to extremes of shutting themselves in monasteries, Muslims follow the middle path and pray five times a day devoting the rest of the time to worldly affairs.
    c) In matters of culture and civilization: as against other nations who take care to preserve the lives of animals and plants, but fail to protect the lives of human beings, Muslims are very mindful of the human rights at every level of interaction.
    d) Economy: An even distribution of wealth in Muslim society is the best example of how they are justly balanced against other people among whom either private ownership is frowned upon or the whole society is engaged in nothing but accumulation of wealth (Abridged).
    Thanwi adds: Judging by the way they react to the injunction about the qiblah, the Muslims are justly balanced from this angle also. That is, neither such dim wits that they cannot appreciate the wisdom behind the command concerning the qiblah, even when explained, nor such theorists as to refuse to follow the command without knowing the wisdom.
    Another possible meaning is that "wasat" stands for "the best," as used in the Qur'an is several places. For example, to describe the "salat al `asr" the Qur'an used the words: "salat al wusta." The Prophet (saws) has also used this term in this sense in several ahadith. For example, he called Quraysh the "wasat" of the Arab tribes" (Ibn Kathir).

    288. "Shuhada'": In his characteristic style of seeking the meaning of the Qur'an from the Qur'an, Shanqiti writes: "It has not been stated here whether the Prophet (saws) will be a witness in this world or in the Hereafter. It has been made clear elsewhere that it is in the Hereafter that he will be a witness. Allah (swt) said (4: 41):

    فَكَيْفَ إِذَا جِئْنَا مِنْ كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ بِشَهِيدٍ وَجِئْنَا بِكَ عَلَى هَؤُلَاءِ شَهِيدًا [النساء/41]

    'How will (it be, O Prophet) when We will bring forth a witness in the Hereafter, from every nation and will bring you forth a witness against them?'"
    Ibn Jarir, as well as Ibn Kathir, (whose reports are based on those of Bukhari and Tirmidhi) state the following:
    Abu Sa`id al Khudri reports the Prophet (saws) as having said:

    قالَ رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم "يُدْعَى نُوحٌ فَيُقَالُ هَلْ بَلّغْتَ؟ فَيَقُولُ نَعَمْ، فَيُدْعَى قَوْمُهُ فَيُقَالُ: هَلْ بَلّغَكُمْ؟ فَيَقُولُونَ: مَا أَتَانَا مِنْ نَذِيرٍ وَمَا أَتَانَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ. فَيُقَالُ: مَنْ شُهُودُكَ؟ فيقولُ: محمّدٌ وَأمّتُهُ، قالَ فَيُؤْتَى بكُمْ تَشْهَدُونَ أَنّهُ قَدْ بَلّغَ فَذَلِكَ قَوْلُ الله تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى {وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمّةً وَسَطاً لِتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيداً}". (قال أبو عيسى: هذا حديثٌ حسنٌ صحيحٌ).‏

    "On the Day of Judgment Nuh will be asked to appear before the people and will be asked, 'Did you convey the Message that you were entrusted with?' He will say, 'I did.' Then the people to whom he was sent will be asked: 'Did he convey the Message?' They will say, 'No warner none at all ever came to us.' So Nuh will be asked, 'Do you have a witness?' He will say, 'Yes, Muhammad and his followers.' This is the meaning of the verse, 'Thus We have made you a justly balanced people so that you may be witnesses to the people and the Prophet a witness to you.'" Another version adds that the Muslims will be asked, 'How can you say that (the Message was delivered)?' They will say, 'On the basis of the Revelation (the Qur'an) reaching us confirming that the Message was delivered.'
    Ibn Jarir and Ibn Kathir also add: Another report of Abu Sa`id al Khudri, recorded by Ibn Marduwayh and Ibn Abi Hatim says that the Prophet (saws) said,

    "أنا وأُمتي يوم القيامة على كوم مشرفين على الخلائق ما من الناس أحد إلا ودَّ أنه منا، وما من نبي كذبه قومه إلا ونحن نشهد أنه قد بلغ رسالة ربه عزّ وجلّ" (رواه ابن مردويه عن جابر بن عبد الله( .

    "I and my followers will be on a raised platform on the Day of Judgment looking down upon the people (and the proceedings). There will be no one but wishing to be with us. And there will be no Messenger who will be given the lie but we will bear witness that he conveyed the Message."
    The report could not be traced in major works (Au.).
    Both Ibn Jarir and Ibn Kathir (with some modifications) add the following: It is also reported that, once a group of people were with the Prophet (saws) in a graveyard burying a man from Banu Salamah, when someone remarked, 'He was the best of them,' then he went on to count some of his virtues. The Prophet (saws) said, 'It has become due.' On another occasion when they were burying a man from Banu Haritha someone said, 'He was an evil man,' and went on to mention some of his evil deeds. The Prophet (saws) said, 'It has become due.' He was asked what he meant by that remark. He said, 'Allah (swt) has said: "...so that you might be witness to the people."' That is, Paradise became due because Muslims bore witness to the man's goodness, and the opposite also (Au.). Ibn Kathir says that according to Hakim, the hadith is "sahih" by the standards of Bukhari and Muslim].
    (Bukhari's version is as follows: Au.):

    عَنْ ثَابِتٍ عَنْ أَنَسٍ - رضى الله عنه - قَالَ مُرَّ عَلَى النَّبِىِّ - صلى الله عليه وسلم - بِجَنَازَةٍ ، فَأَثْنَوْا عَلَيْهَا خَيْرًا فَقَالَ « وَجَبَتْ » . ثُمَّ مُرَّ بِأُخْرَى فَأَثْنَوْا عَلَيْهَا شَرًّا - أَوْ قَالَ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ - فَقَالَ « وَجَبَتْ » . فَقِيلَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ، قُلْتَ لِهَذَا وَجَبَتْ ، وَلِهَذَا وَجَبَتْ ، قَالَ « شَهَادَةُ الْقَوْمِ ، الْمُؤْمِنُونَ شُهَدَاءُ اللَّهِ فِى الأَرْضِ »

    Ibn Kathir also narrates from Bukhari and Nasa'i: On a similar occasion during his caliphate, `Umar related the Prophet's words:

    « مَا مِنْ مُسْلِمٍ يَشْهَدُ لَهُ ثَلاَثَةٌ إِلاَّ وَجَبَتْ لَهُ الْجَنَّةُ ». قَالَ قُلْنَا وَاثْنَانِ قَالَ « وَاثْنَانِ ». قَالَ وَلَمْ نَسْأَلْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- عَنِ الْوَاحِدِ. قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ.

    "Any Muslim about whom four of you bear good testimony will be sent to Paradise." He was asked, "What if three (of us bear the testimony)." He said, "Even if three." Then someone said, "If two (of us bear the testimony)?" He said, "Even two." After that no one enquired about one.
    In yet another hadith the Prophet (saws) said,

    يُوشِكُ أَنْ تَعْرِفوا أَهْلَ الْجَنَّةِ مِنْ أَهْلِ النَّارِ). قَالُوا: بْمَ ذَاكَ؟ يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ! قَالَ (بِالثَّنَاءِ الْحَسَنِ وَالثَّنَاءِ السَّيِّءِ. أَنْتُمْ شُهَدَاءُ اللهِ، بَعْضُكمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ (في الزوائد: إسناده صحيح. رجال ثقات)

    "It is hoped that you will know the good ones among you from the evil ones." He was asked, "How would that be O Messenger of Allah?" He answered, "Through your praise of some as virtuous and condemnation of others as the corrupt. You are Allah's witnesses on the earth" (Ibn Kathir, from Ibn Majah).
    However, according to Dahhak, it is those of this "ummah" who follow the guidance that will be the witnesses, and not just everyone (Ibn Jarir).

    289. What is meant by the words: 'We did not appoint....but to distinguish' is that the "people might know," since Allah has foreknowledge of things to happen. Further, this applies to every such statement in the Qur'an. For example,

    وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ حَتَّى نَعْلَمَ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ مِنْكُمْ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَنَبْلُوَ أَخْبَارَكُمْ [محمد/31]

    'And We will try you in order that We know the mujahedeen and those that persevere among you.' What is meant by the words: "So that We know" is "so that the people might know" (Qurtubi).

    290. It was a hard thing because the pagans said, 'Muhammad seems to be confused. Probably he thinks we are better guided, and it is possible he will revert to our ancestral religion.' The hypocrites said, 'What's wrong with Muhammad? Sometimes he asks us to pray in one direction and at other times in another direction!' Many abandoned Islam. Some Muslims began to ask about those that had died praying in the direction of Jerusalem. But true Muslims remained steadfast and emerged from the test successful (Ibn Jarir).
    Mawdudi writes: "One purpose of this change in the direction of Prayer was to find out who was blinkered by the irrational prejudices and chained by chauvinistic attachment to land and blood, and who, having liberated himself from those bonds, was capable of rising to the heights and grasping the Truth.
    "On the one hand were the Arabs who were steeped in their national and racial arrogance. For them, taking Jerusalem as the direction by their Prayer (as originally practiced by the Prophet) was too hard a blow to their national vanity to be accepted with equanimity. On the other hand, the Jews were essentially no different. They, too, were obsessed with racial pride so that it was difficult for them to accept any other than the direction of Prayer which they had inherited from the past. How could the people whose hearts were full of such idols respond to the call of the Messenger of God? Hence, God saw to it that the worshippers of such idols were distinguished from the genuine worshippers of God by first fixing Jerusalem as the direction of Prayer. This was bound to alienate all those who had worshipped the idol of Arabianism. Later, the fixing of the Ka`bah as the direction of Prayer led to the alienation of those who were engrossed in the worship of the idol of Israel. Thus there were left with the Prophet (saws) only those who truly worshipped none but the One True God."

    291. Apart from the interpretation that "faith" here alludes to "salah," an additional meaning is that Allah was not such as to waste away your consistency in faith considering the fact that you did not doubt and did not waver (Zamakhshari).

    292. "Al Ra'uf": Though "ra'fah" has the same meaning as "rahmah," it expresses greater intensity of kindness" (Qurtubi).
    Ibn Kathir comments: Bukhari has recorded a hadith which reports that,

    عَنْ عُمَرَ بْنِ الْخَطَّابِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَدِمَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ سَبْيٌ فَإِذَا امْرَأَةٌ مِنْ السَّبْيِ قَدْ تَحْلُبُ ثَدْيَهَا تَسْقِي إِذَا وَجَدَتْ صَبِيّاً فِي السَّبْيِ أَخَذَتْهُ فَأَلْصَقَتْهُ بِبَطْنِهَا وَأَرْضَعَتْهُ فَقَالَ لَنَا النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَتُرَوْنَ هَذِهِ طَارِحَةً وَلَدَهَا فِي النَّارِ قُلْنَا لَا وَهِيَ تَقْدِرُ عَلَى أَنْ لَا تَطْرَحَهُ فَقَالَ لَلَّهُ أَرْحَمُ بِعِبَادِهِ مِنْ هَذِهِ بِوَلَدِهَا.‏

    The Prophet saw a woman prisoner searching for her child. Every time she found a child she would grasp it, hugged it and began to breast feed it. He asked his Companions, "Do you think she will throw her child into the fire, if she has the power not to do so?" We answered, "Of course not, if she has the choice not to throw it." The Prophet (saws) said: "By Allah, Allah (swt) is kinder to His creations than this woman is to her child."

    قَدْ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا ۚ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنْتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ ۗ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ ۗ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ (144)

    2|144| We have seen your face (O Prophet) turning (oft) towards the heavens.293 We will surely turn you toward the qiblah (that is) dear to you. So turn your face (during Prayers) in the direction of the Holy Mosque.294 And wherever you may be (O Muslims) turn your faces in its direction.295 Those who have been given the Book know that this is the truth from your Lord.296 And Allah is not unaware of the things they do.

    293. Knowing that since the leadership had been taken away from the Children of Israel, it was only a matter of time when their qiblah would be abandoned in favor of the qiblah of Ibrahim, the Prophet (saws) used to turn often toward the heavens in anticipation of orders to reorient himself toward the Ka`bah in Prayers.
    Note also that although the order concerning the change in qiblah was expected and would have come anyway, Allah (swt) put it in such words as if to sound that the order was following the Prophet's desire. This demonstrates the regard the Prophet (saws) enjoys with Allah (Au.).

    294. Ibn `Abbas has reported the Prophet (saws) as having said: "The Holy House is the qiblah of those in the Holy Mosque. The Holy Mosque is the qiblah of those in the Haram (the Holy Precincts around the Holy Mosque). And the Haram is the qiblah of the Muslims all over the world (Qurtubi).
    This report could not be traced in major works.
    The 'Holy Mosque' refers to the sanctuary invested with holiness and sanctity: in the centre of which the Ka`bah is located.
    Mawdudi remarks: "To turn one's face in the direction of the Ka`bah does not mean that wherever a man might be he should turn to the Ka`bah with absolute accuracy. It would obviously be extremely difficult for everyone to comply with such an order. Hence the order is to turn in the direction of the Ka`bah rather than to the Ka`bah itself. ... We may pray in the direction which appears correct... However, if a man is either at a place where it is difficult to determine the direction of the Ka`bah or if he is in a position where it is difficult to maintain the correct direction (e.g. when travelling on a train, a boat, or an aero plane), he may pray in the direction which seems correct, or in whatever direction it is possible for him to face. If he then comes to know the correct direction while he is in the state of Prayer he should turn his face in that direction."

    295. "'A bird's eye view of the Moslem world at the hour of prayer would present the spectacle of a series of concentric circles of worshippers radiating from the Ka`bah at Makkah and covering an ever widening area from Sierra Leone to Canton and from Tobolsk to Cape Town' (Hitti, History of the Arabs, pp.130 131)" Majid.

    296. According to Suddi and Ibn Zayd, when the Prophet (saws) began to pray facing the Ka`bah, the Jews said that if he had remained on their qiblah, they could have felt reassured that he was the Promised Messenger and, consequently, would have followed him. Allah (swt) then revealed: 'Those who have been given the Book know that this is the right (command) from your Lord. And Allah is not unaware of the things they do' (Ibn Jarir).

    وَلَئِنْ أَتَيْتَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ بِكُلِّ آيَةٍ مَا تَبِعُوا قِبْلَتَكَ ۚ وَمَا أَنْتَ بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَتَهُمْ ۚ وَمَا بَعْضُهُمْ بِتَابِعٍ قِبْلَةَ بَعْضٍ ۚ وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ ۙ إِنَّكَ إِذًا لَمِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ (145)

    2|145| Yet, were you to bring the people of the Book all the signs, they will never follow your qiblah, nor are you going to follow their qiblah;297 nor any of them is going to follow the qiblah of the others. And, were you to follow their caprice, after the knowledge has come to you, surely you will be of the evildoers.

    297. "'In fact, the subsequent command to Muslims to face in their prayers a central point common to them alone has powerfully contributed to that distinctive feeling of unity to this day, in spite of so many differences and sectarian dissensions, binds the Muslims together into one single ummah and makes them realize that they are a group of their own, different from the rest of the world. It is impossible to over estimate this feeling of unity' (AS I. p. 60)" Majid.

    الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَعْرِفُونَهُ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ ۖ وَإِنَّ فَرِيقًا مِنْهُمْ لَيَكْتُمُونَ الْحَقَّ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ (146)

    2|146| Those unto whom We have given the Book recognize him (Muhammad) as well as they recognize their offsprings.298 Yet a party of them knowingly suppresses the Truth.

    298. According to Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Suddi, Rabi`, Ibn Zayd, Ibn Jurayj, it is the fact of the Ka`bah being the right qiblah (of the Final Messenger) that the Jews and Christians knew as clearly as they knew their offspring (Ibn Jarir). However, others believe that the allusion is to the Prophet. That is, they recognize the Prophet (saws) as being from God, as clearly as they recognize their offspring. Hence, it is reported that `Umar asked `Abdullah ibn Salam if he knew the Prophet better than he knew his offspring. He said, 'Yes. And more certainly.' `Umar asked him, how he could say that?' He replied, 'The Trustworthy from the heavens (Jibril) came down to the Trustworthy on the earth (Muhammad) with signs undeniable; whereas I cannot be so sure of my child's mother" (Ibn Kathir, Qurtubi, Alusi).
    It is said that the answer pleased `Umar so much that he kissed `Abdullah on the forehead (Zamakhshari).
    Majid adds : "'There is no room to doubt,' says a Christian biographer of the Prophet, `that a section of the Jews not only hinted, before the Prophet, but even affirmed that he was that Prophet who the Lord their God should raise up unto them of their brethren' (Muir, p. 98)."

    الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّكَ ۖ فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ (147)

    2|147| The Truth is from your Lord299, so be not of the doubters.

    299. According to Qatadah and Mujahid it is Muhammad (saws) who is alluded to by the word: "al haqq" (the Truth) of this verse (Ibn Jarir). According to Ibn Kathir it is what Muhammad (saws) has brought.

    وَلِكُلٍّ وِجْهَةٌ هُوَ مُوَلِّيهَا ۖ فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ ۚ أَيْنَ مَا تَكُونُوا يَأْتِ بِكُمُ اللَّهُ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ (148)

    2|148| Everyone has a direction to which he turns.300 So you vie with one another in good works.301 Wherever you may be, Allah will gather you all. Verily Allah has power over everything.

    300. What's meant by "everyone" is every follower of a religion (Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Suddi and others Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Qurtubi, Alusi).

    301. "There is a subtle gap between this sentence and the next, a gap which the reader can fill with just a little reflection. The idea conveyed here is that anyone who prays will, after all, have to turn his face in some direction. But what is of real significance is not the turning of one's face in some specific direction but one's orientation to righteousness for the sake of which one performs the ritual Prayer" (Mawdudi).

    وَمِنْ حَيْثُ خَرَجْتَ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۖ وَإِنَّهُ لَلْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّكَ ۗ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ (149)

    2|149| From wheresoever you may embark (O Prophet), turn your face in the direction of the Holy Mosque.302 That indeed is the truth from your Lord. Allah is not unaware of what you do.

    302. Mufti Shafi` brings home the following points:
    Determining the Qiblah
    Since Islam is an ever-lasting religion and is meant for peoples of all regions of the globe, city dwellers as well as villages, those living in ravines or on top of the mountains, of the past, present and future times, its demands are simple enough for everyone to meet. In case of the qiblah, for example, the actual direction may be determined roughly. There is no need for astronomical instruments to determine the direction precisely. Difference of a few degrees will do no harm. The Prophet (saws) described the qiblah for the Madinans in the following words:

    عَنْ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِىِّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قَالَ « مَا بَيْنَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ قِبْلَةٌ ». قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ.

    'What is between the east and the west is the qiblah.' Accordingly, the practice of the Companions and their Followers was that they simply followed the qiblah of a previously constructed mosque. Those who constructed later followed the older orientations. As for those areas in which no previously constructed mosques exists, it is enough to determine the qiblah with the help of the sun, moon and stars; similarly, there is no need at all to check the qiblah of the older mosques with the help of instruments.

    وَمِنْ حَيْثُ خَرَجْتَ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنْتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ لِئَلَّا يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَيْكُمْ حُجَّةٌ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْهُمْ فَلَا تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِي وَلِأُتِمَّ نِعْمَتِي عَلَيْكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ (150)

    2|150| And, from wheresoever you may embark, turn your face in the direction of the Holy Mosque. And, wherever you may be (O Muslims) turn your faces in the direction of the Holy Mosque.303 (This) in order that the people might have no argument304 against you, save for those among them who are unjust. But fear them not.305 Fear Me (alone). So that I may complete My favors on you and so that you might be guided.

    303. This is the third time the order has been repeated. The reason given by Ibn `Abbas is that since this was the first abrogation in Islam, it had to be stressed. Imam Razi, however, states that the first order is for him who is in front of the Ka`bah; the second for him who is away from it; and the third for the peoples of the rest of the world. Qurtubi, however, believes the third is for the traveler (Ibn Kathir).
    The stress was also necessary, says Qurtubi, because, being at a great distance from the Ka`bah people would have taken it lightly. Imam Razi says there is an added reason for repeating the command three times, which is, when Allah (swt) said "We will turn you toward the qiblah that is dear to you," an ignorant man might have thought that the change in the qiblah was instituted solely to please the Prophet (saws). Since that is not the case, the orders were repeated thrice.

    304. This refers to the objections made by the Jews who said, طMuhammad and his followers could not fix their qiblah until we guided them,' and, طLook at Muhammad. He follows our qiblah while he denounces our religion' (Ibn Jarir). The Makkan pagans also used to say, 'Since the Prophet has finally come around to accepting our qiblah, he is likely to revert to the ancestral religion' (Qurtubi, Alusi). Another interpretation is that if Jerusalem had continued to be the qiblah, the people of the Book who knew very well that the qiblah of Islam would be the Ka`bah would have raised all kinds of objections (Ibn Kathir).

    305. That is, do not be afraid of their criticism.

    كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِيكُمْ رَسُولًا مِنْكُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِنَا وَيُزَكِّيكُمْ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمْ مَا لَمْ تَكُونُوا تَعْلَمُونَ (151)

    2|151| Even as We have sent you a Messenger from among yourselves who recites to you Our revelations, purifies you,306 instructs you in the Book and the Wisdom,307 and teaches you that which you did not know.308

    306. That is, from the dirt of 'shirk' (associations with God) and other moral impurities.

    307. By the word "hikmah" of the original the allusion here is to the Sunnah of the Prophet (Ibn Kathir, Imam Shafe`i, Razi).
    Note the order. The Prophet first recites the revelations which remove the impurities of 'shirk.' It is then that the Words of Allah (swt) and the secrets of His Wisdom can be taught, for which 'kufr' (the state of unbelief) had been a barrier (Alusi).

    308. This is the answer to the prayer of Ibrahim (asws) who had supplicated (2: 128 129):

    رَبَّنَا وَاجْعَلْنَا مُسْلِمَيْنِ لَكَ وَمِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِنَا أُمَّةً مُسْلِمَةً لَكَ وَأَرِنَا مَنَاسِكَنَا وَتُبْ عَلَيْنَا إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ. رَبَّنَا وَابْعَثْ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آَيَاتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ [البقرة/128، 129]

    "O Lord! Make us submissive to You and (generate) from our progeny a people submissive to You. Show us our holy rites, and turn to us (in mercy). Surely You are the Relenting, the Merciful. O Lord! Raise in them a Messenger from among them who shall recite Your verses to them, instruct them in the Book and Wisdom, and purify them" (Ibn Jarir).
    Sayyid Qutb comments: He purifies them: "Were it not for Allah, none of them would have attained purification, cleansed himself, or risen up (in spirit). But He sent His Messenger on whom be peace to purify them ... purify their souls from the impurities of 'shirk,' from the filth of 'jahiliyyah' and from the base concepts that weigh heavily upon the human soul crushing it under their weight ... purify them from profane lust and eruptions of base desires ... in order that their souls may never again retract to the immoralities (of the past). Those whom Islam does not purify from the filth of the earth filth whether ancient or modern they fall in the poisoned quagmire of lust and beastly desires which shrink the very humanism of the humans to the extent of raising animals that are guided merely by their instincts above them: animals which, in fact, prove to be more sublime than what many humans fall to without the purifying factor of faith. Islam purifies their community from usury, deceit, usurpation, mugging and looting. These corruptions taint human perceptions and sensibilities, and pollute life and community. Islam frees lives from oppression and injustice and establishes that pure and noble order that human society has not experienced in the manner it experienced under the influence of Islam ... under the rule of Islam ... under the polity of Islam. Islam purifies them from all the scum and filth that smudge the face of the 'jahiliyyah,' those that attack it from all sides, and attack those societies that Islam has not purified with its uplifting, purifying touch.
    "'And (He) instructs you in the Book and the wisdom:' This is in line with what has been stated in the earlier parts of this section of the Qur'an and summaries in a word the ultimate objective of the efforts to understand the Book, viz. attainment of wisdom. Wisdom is the fruit of all instructions in the Qur'an. It is this faculty by which things are placed in their proper order and right perspective, and by which they are allotted their proper weights. It is this faculty that reaches at the very heart of reason, (causes, and motives) underlying the injunctions and commandments. This was attained (to the highest degree) by those whom the Prophet (saws) himself instructed in the Book and purified them.
    'And (He) teaches you that which you did not know:' This is exactly what happened with the first batch of Muslims. Islam had picked them up from the Arab environs which did not provide them but with a few unconnected pieces of information: information that was just sufficient for the needs of a nomadic life, or for those minor civilizations that flourished amid the sand dunes. Islam picked them up from there and converted them into a group that assumed the clear sighted and wise leadership of the people (of the world). It was this Qur'an, combined with the inspiration that the Prophet himself drew from the Qur'an, which was the nucleus of study. And the Prophet's mosque in which was recited the Qur'an along with the instructions of the Prophet was the university from which graduated the first generation of leaders who assumed the leadership of the world: that wise and clear sighted leadership which the humans have not experienced since then.
    "It is this system of education (based on the Qur'an and the guidance from the Prophet) which produced that first generation ... and those leaders ... that is capable of producing the same quality of men and leaders. But that, if the ummah will return to the same methods, and to the same sources; if the ummah will believe in the Qur'an in the same spirit; if it will adopt its guidance for application in every day life, and not to chant words for the pleasure of the ears alone."

    فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِي وَلَا تَكْفُرُونِ (152)

    2|152| Remember Me, therefore, I will remember you.309 Be thankful to Me; and be not ungrateful to Me.

    309. Mak hul reports that he asked Ibn `Umar, 'What do you say about a person who is a murderer, drinks wine, commits theft, fornicates, but he remembers God.' Ibn `Umar replied, 'Allah also remembers him but with curses, until he gives up (those vile practices).' Ibn `Abbas has said, 'Allah's remembrance is not like your remembrance. It is of a great magnitude.' And a hadith recorded by Bukhari says that Allah says,

    عَنْ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ - رضى الله عنه - قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِىُّ - صلى الله عليه وسلم - « يَقُولُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى أَنَا عِنْدَ ظَنِّ عَبْدِى بِى ، وَأَنَا مَعَهُ إِذَا ذَكَرَنِى ، فَإِنْ ذَكَرَنِى فِى نَفْسِهِ ذَكَرْتُهُ فِى نَفْسِى ، وَإِنْ ذَكَرَنِى فِى مَلأٍ ذَكَرْتُهُ فِى مَلأٍ خَيْرٍ مِنْهُمْ ، وَإِنْ تَقَرَّبَ إِلَىَّ بِشِبْرٍ تَقَرَّبْتُ إِلَيْهِ ذِرَاعًا ، وَإِنْ تَقَرَّبَ إِلَىَّ ذِرَاعًا تَقَرَّبْتُ إِلَيْهِ بَاعًا ، وَإِنْ أَتَانِى يَمْشِى أَتَيْتُهُ هَرْوَلَةً »

    "Allah says, I am by slaves hopes and I am with him when he remembers me. When he remembers Me quietly to himself, I remember him in a group better than him. And, if he gets closer to Me by the span of a hand, I get closer to him by a foot. If he gets closer to Me by a foot I get closer by a yard. And if he walks to Me, I run toward him" (Ibn Kathir).
    Actually, Ibn Kathir quotes a hadith from Musnad Ahmad of the same meaning (Au.).
    Sa`id ibn Jubayr has said: Whoever did not obey his Lord, did not remember Him, irrespective of how many rosaries (tasbih) he did, how much he chanted the greatness of God, and however much he recited the Qur'an. Abu `Uthman was asked: "Why is it that we remember Allah but do not feel its sweet effects on our hearts?" He said, "Thank Allah that He has (at least) inspired a member of your body to His obedience" (Qurtubi).
    Alusi writes: There are three ways of conducting "dhikr" (remembrance). First: with the tongue, which is to say thanks, chant Allah's Glory, sing His Greatness, recite the Qur'an etc. Second: with the heart (and mind) which is to think and discover the wisdom behind various obligations of Islam, to contemplate over the rewards and punishment in the Hereafter, to understand the Attributes of Allah, and unravel Divine secrets. And third: to keep every limb and joint of the body engaged in acts approved by Allah, and restrain them from the prohibited acts. Razi has a similar statement to make.
    Yusuf Ali adds: "The word 'remember' is too pale a word to describe 'zikr'... In Sufi devotions 'zikr' represents both a solemn ritual and a spiritual state of mind or heart in which the devotee seeks to realize the presence of God."

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ (153)

    2|153| O you who have believed! Seek help in patience and Prayers, verily Allah is with the patient.310

    310. After Allah (swt) directed the believers in the previous verse to be thankful to Him and remember Him much, He followed it up by directing them to be patient. (This is because it will not be possible to observe the two without sabr and salah: Razi). The two, shukr and sabr, go together, even as blessings and trials go together, the former requiring shukr (thankfulness) and the latter demanding sabr (patience). Further, the best way to endure misfortunes is through salah and sabr. The Prophet (saws) himself, as reported in a hadith of Ahmad, used to rush to salah in the face of every major or minor difficulty.
    Sabr
    Sabr is of two types. One consists in giving up the prohibited and the other in carrying out the commandments. The second of the two is of a higher order and carries greater rewards. A third kind of sabr is to show patience, forbearance, and steadfastness in the face of hardships. This is also obligatory on a Muslim.
    It is reported of `Ali ibn al Hussain Zayn al `Abidin that he said: When Allah would have gathered the first and the last of men on the Day of Judgment, a caller will call out: 'Where are the sabirin. They may enter Paradise without reckoning.' Some people will proceed toward the gates of the Paradise. The angel guards will ask, 'Where are you going O children of Adam?' They will reply, 'To Paradise.' They will ask, 'Will you, even before the reckoning has begun?' They will reply, 'Yes.' They will ask: 'And who are you?' They will reply, 'We are the sabirin.' The angels will ask, 'And what was it that you were patient and persevering about?' They will reply, 'We carried out what was ordered and refrained from what was forbidden.' They will say, 'If that is so, then enter Paradise: a good reward for the workers of righteous deeds' (Ibn Kathir).
    Sabr, however, in the sense of forbearance, must immediately follow a calamity, following the Prophet's directive,

    عَنْ أَنَسٍ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قَالَ « الصَّبْرُ فِى الصَّدْمَةِ الأُولَى ». قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ غَرِيبٌ مِنْ هَذَا الْوَجْهِ.

    "Sabr is at the first instance of the calamity." It is immediately after the calamity that emotions are high. Later, after some time, when emotions have cooled, everyone becomes a sabir. Therefore, it is said that the wise man is the one who demonstrates at the time of misfortune what an idiot will demonstrate after a couple of days. Further, sabr is of two kinds. First, of him who refrains from evil deeds. The other is that of him who continues obeying the Lord in everything. As for its sign, it is to find peace and tranquility in the heart at the time of calamities. (Sabr has been variously defined), Ruwaym has said that sabr is to desist from complaining against what has occurred. Dhu al-Nun Misri has said that sabr is the name of seeking none but Allah's help. And, Abu `Ali said that the boundary of sabr is to betray grudge, and complain in the face of a calamity. (I.e. as soon as one begins to complain, or feels a grudge in the heart because of a misfortune that has befallen him, he is out of the state of sabr). As for merely speaking about it by way of the description of the hardship etc. without the tone of complaint: that does not go against sabr. The proof is in the verse which says about Prophet Ayyub (38: 44):

    إِنَّا وَجَدْنَاهُ صَابِرًا نِعْمَ الْعَبْدُ [ص/44]

    "We found him a sabir (patient man), a good slave (of his Lord)." This was said despite the earlier statement in which Ayyub said,

    وَأَيُّوبَ إِذْ نَادَى رَبَّهُ أَنِّي مَسَّنِيَ الضُّرُّ [الأنبياء/83]

    "When Ayyub called his Lord that, 'misfortunes have befallen me'" (Qurtubi).
    Commenting on the words "Allah is with the patient," Majid adds: "This consciousness of the accompaniment of God, this awareness that He is with us, is the greatest comfort that the human mind can have in this world, and the greatest antidote to our sense of loneliness."
    Sayyid Qutb offers us a detailed commentary: "After the new qiblah has been appointed, and the Muslim ummah has been assigned its special character and role, the first thing that this Nation the justly balanced Nation is being instructed is to seek help in sabr and salah while attempting to accomplish the task it has been entrusted with, and to get prepared to offer the sacrifices that this role demands from those that are its witnesses (shuhada'): sacrifices of life, property and goods, in the face of fear and poverty; and the hardships that one has to endure while engaged in the struggle to establish the ways approved by Allah (swt): both in the hearts of the people as well as in their every day life ...to unite the people on the basis of their relationship with Allah (swt), in order to free them for His services, and in order that they may live by His commandments... (all these tasks and all these hardships) for the sake of Allah ... for the sake of His approval, His Mercy and Guidance, which are themselves the rewards that the heart of a believer considers weighty and worthwhile enough to attempt: 'O you who believe. Seek help in patience and Prayers, verily Allah is with the patient.'
    "The theme of sabr is oft repeated in the Qur'an. This is because Allah knows the magnitude of the task with which the believers have been entrusted, the steadfastness it requires while treading the middle path between various drives and inclinations, and while calling the people to Allah and His ways, which itself requires full control of one's nerves, summoning of all abilities, and full awareness of all that is happening outside (among the people) as well as inside (within the self). All these require patience... patience to do the bidding of Allah (swt), patience in abstaining from what He has forbidden, patience in jihad, patience against deception in its various forms, patience at the slow materialization of help, patience at the remoteness of the goal, patience at the puffing up of the falsehood, patience at the small number of sympathizers, patience in the stretched out thorny path, patience at the crookedness of the souls, at the darkness in the hearts, at the stubbornness of men, and patience against agony in the face of people's unresponsiveness.
    "Then, as time lengthens and struggle intensifies, patience weakens... or would even be exhausted .. if there is no fresh supply and renewed backing. Hence, Prayers have been mentioned along with patience. For Prayer is the source of help that never dries up, the provision that never gets exhausted, the aid that reinvigorates the powers of man, the wealth that enriches the heart; so that the cord of Patience gets extended and does not severe, and adds to patience, contentment, buoyancy, satisfaction, faith and trust.
    "It is necessary for man, therefore, who is, by his nature weak and of limited resources, to be linked to a Greater Power in order that he may draw enough help to be able to go beyond the limits of his own powers.
    "When he faces the evil powers, both internal and external, when constant struggle between the just needs and lusts of the self becomes a heavy burden on him, when combating the rebellion (against Allah) and corruption (in the land) bear heavy on him, when the distances appear long and the destination far away, for a life limited in its tenure... and when he looks back and feels that he has not covered much while the sun is about to set, when he seems to have achieved nothing while the life's span seems to be reaching its end, when he finds evil blown up and virtue thin and lean... with no light on the horizon, and no landmark on the road.... It is then that the value of Prayers comes to light.
    "Prayer is the mortal man's link with the Immortal Power. It is the appointed hour when the lonely drop joins up with the spring that does not dry up. It is the key to the treasures that enriches. It is the departure from the boundaries of this little earth to the unlimited World beyond. It is the very soul, the very coolness and the shade at the midday. It is the tender touch for the weary heart. Hence we see that whenever the Prophet, on whom be peace and blessing, faced a difficulty he would order Bilal, 'Bilal. Relieve us with the call to Prayers,' and used to resort to Prayers whenever an affair worried him."
    Re-read

    وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَنْ يُقْتَلُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتٌ ۚ بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ وَلَٰكِنْ لَا تَشْعُرُونَ (154)

    2|154| And do not refer to those who are slain in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather they are living but you do not perceive.311

    311. The verse tells us that those who died martyrs are alive in Paradise. We find further elaboration in hadith literature. A hadith preserved by Muslim says:

    « أَرْوَاحُهُمْ فِى جَوْفِ طَيْرٍ خُضْرٍ لَهَا قَنَادِيلُ مُعَلَّقَةٌ بِالْعَرْشِ تَسْرَحُ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ حَيْثُ شَاءَتْ ثُمَّ تَأْوِى إِلَى تِلْكَ الْقَنَادِيلِ فَاطَّلَعَ إِلَيْهِمْ رَبُّهُمُ اطِّلاَعَةً فَقَالَ هَلْ تَشْتَهُونَ شَيْئًا قَالُوا أَىَّ شَىْءٍ نَشْتَهِى وَنَحْنُ نَسْرَحُ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ حَيْثُ شِئْنَا فَفَعَلَ ذَلِكَ بِهِمْ ثَلاَثَ مَرَّاتٍ فَلَمَّا رَأَوْا أَنَّهُمْ لَنْ يُتْرَكُوا مِنْ أَنْ يُسْأَلُوا قَالُوا يَا رَبِّ نُرِيدُ أَنْ تَرُدَّ أَرْوَاحَنَا فِى أَجْسَادِنَا حَتَّى نُقْتَلَ فِى سَبِيلِكَ مَرَّةً أُخْرَى. فَلَمَّا رَأَى أَنْ لَيْسَ لَهُمْ حَاجَةٌ تُرِكُوا »

    "The Spirits of the martyrs are in the form of green birds. They have lanterns hanging by the `Arsh. They fly about as they wish in Paradise. (By evening) they return to those lanterns. Allah turns His attention to them and asks, 'Do you want anything else?' They say, 'What more can we want, when we flay about in the Garden as we will?' Allah returns to them with the same question three times until they know that they will not be spared the questioning, they say, 'Our Lord! We wish You return our souls to our bodies so that we are killed another time. When He will see that they have no other desire, (they will be left to themselves)."
    As for the spirits of the believers, according to a hadith in Ahmad,

    (عن) كَعْبَ بْن مَالِكٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « نَسَمَةُ الْمُؤْمِنِ إِذَا مَاتَ طَائِرٌ تَعْلُقُ بِشَجَرِ الْجَنَّةِ حَتَّى يُرْجِعَهُ اللَّهُ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى إِلَى جَسَدِهِ يَوْمَ يَبْعَثُهُ اللَّهُ »

    'The believer's soul – when he dies - is in the form of a bird that are perched up on the trees in Paradise, until Allah returns them to their bodies on the day of Resurrection' (Ibn Kathir).
    Lives of the Martyrs
    A question arises. In what sense are the martyrs alive? The answer is: It is a kind of life enjoyed in the Isthmus (barzakh: a stage between this world and the Hereafter) that reason and intelligence cannot comprehend. As Ibn al-Qayyim has written in his book "Al Ruh": "It is from this realm (the barzakh) that the Prophet (saws) answers to the greetings addressed to him near his grave, although his soul is in the highest realms of "`Illiyyun", in the company of "Al Rafiq al A`la", from where it enjoys a connection with the body in the grave. Although, once again, it is beyond our comprehension to judge what kind of connection it is. The Prophet (saws) saw Musa (asws) Praying in his grave, while, at the same time, he also met with his soul in the sixth heaven during his Me`raj journey." That's about the soul. As for his body, it has been preserved, as sahih ahadith say, from destruction. However, as far as the life of this world is concerned, they are most surely dead. Indeed even the Prophet (saws) is dead in this sense, a fact which is substantiated by the words of Abu Bakr (ra), who, arriving at the scene after the death of the Prophet said, "By Allah, He will not give you two deaths. The first death that He had written for you has come to pass." Then he said those famous words: "Whoever worshipped Muhammad may know that he is dead. While those who worshipped Allah may know that He is alive, He does not die." Thus we see that Abu Bakr and the Companions believed that Muhammad had died. If he had not died, surely, they would have consulted him in matters in which they disagreed between themselves after him (Shanqiti).
    Thanwi has the following plausible theory to offer.
    Just as the finger tips and heels are both part of the same living body, but the signs of life in the former is greater than in the latter, in that the finger tips are more sensitive than the heels, so is also the difference in the level of consciousness of the dead. Every dead man possesses a level of consciousness which, in the case of an unbeliever, is enough to taste punishment. In the case of the believers it is more advanced. In the case of the martyrs it is so advanced that they are almost alive by the earthly standards; even their bodies are not decompose by the earth. Above them are only the Messengers of Allah who possess the highest level of consciousness after their earthly term has expired. They are alive in the other world exactly in the same sense as people on earth, except that in all cases the human mind cannot perceive the quality of their life.
    Sayyid Qutb comments: "Who are these shuhada' (martyrs), that are alive? They are those that were killed in the way of Allah... in the way of Allah alone, without a thought of any other goal, any other purpose, any other aim, save Allah... in the cause of the true guidance He has sent down, in the cause of life that He has revealed, in the way of the religion that He has chosen for us... in its way alone, and not in any other cause, nor under any other slogan, not even in combination with other slogans and causes. The Qur'an and hadith both have greatly emphasized this point so that there remains no doubt whatsoever.
    "Abu Musa al Ash`ari (ra) says that the Prophet was asked about someone who fights to display his courage, another for national or racial causes, and yet another hypocritically... which of them is in the 'way of Allah?' The Prophet replied:

    مَنْ قَاتَلَ حَتّى تَكُونَ كَلِمَةُ الله هِيَ أعْلَى فَهُوَ في سَبِيلِ الله

    'He who fought in order that the Word of Allah (i.e. Islam and its principles) may triumph is in the way of Allah.'"
    "Abu Hurayrah (ra) says a man asked the Prophet:

    عنْ أبي هُرَيْرَةَ: "أنّ رَجُلاً قَالَ يَارَسُولَ الله رَجُلٌ يُرِيدُ الْجِهَادَ في سَبِيلِ الله وَهُوَ يَبْتَغِي عَرَضاً مِنْ عَرَضِ الدّنْيَا؟ فقال النّبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم: لاَ أجْرَ لَهُ، فَأعْظَمَ ذَلِكَ النّاسُ وَقَالُوا لِلرّجُلِ: عُدْ لِرَسُولِ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فَلَعَلّكَ لمْ تُفَهّمْهُ، فقال يَارَسُولَ الله رَجُلٌ يُرِيدُ الْجِهَادَ في سَبِيلِ الله وَهُوَ يَبْتَغِي عَرَضاً مِنْ عَرَضِ الدّنْيَا؟ قالَ: لاَ أجْرَ لَهُ، فَقَالُوا لِلرّجُلِ عُدْ لِرَسُولِ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقالَ لَهُ الثّالِثَةَ فقالَ لَهُ لاَ أجْرَ لَهُ".

    ‘Messenger of Allah, what will you say of a man who takes up jihad for the sake of Allah, but has spoils of war also in his sight?' He replied: 'He will have no rewards.' That was hard upon the people so they told the man to repeat his question. Perhaps the Prophet did not understand him. So the man repeated the question but the Prophet replied both times, 'He will have no rewards.' Abu Da'ud."
    Sayyid's comment ends here.

    وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ مِنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنْفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ (155)

    2|155| And surely We shall try you with something of fear, hunger and depletion in goods, lives and crops.312 Give glad tidings then (O Prophet) to those who endure in fortitude.

    312. This is in line with the statement in the Qur'an which says (2: 214):

    أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَنْ تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُمْ مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ مَسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّاءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا حَتَّى يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا مَعَهُ مَتَى نَصْرُ اللَّهِ أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ [البقرة/214]

    "Do you imagine that you will be let into Paradise without those trials visiting you that came to those who passed away before you? They encountered sufferings and adversity, and were shaken, until the Prophet and the believers with him cried out, 'When (will come) Allah's help?' Lo! Allah's help is near" (Ibn Jarir).

    الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُمْ مُصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ (156)

    2|156| Such as those who, when visited by an affliction say, ‘To Allah we belong and to Him we will return.'313

    313. Umm Salamah narrated (as in Muslim, but the following is from Ahmad: Au.),

    عَنْ أُمِّ سَلَمَةَ قَالَتْ َتَانِى أَبُو سَلَمَةَ يَوْماً مِنْ عِنْدِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فَقَالَ َقَدْ سَمِعْتُ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قَوْلاً فَسُرِرْتُ بِهِ قَالَ « لاَ يُصِيبُ أَحَداً مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مُصِيبَةٌ فَيَسْتَرْجِعَ عِنْدَ مُصِيبَتِهِ ثُمَّ يَقُولُ اللَّهُمَّ أْجُرْنِى فِى مُصِيبَتِى وَاخْلُفْ لِى خَيْراً مِنْهَا إِلاَّ فُعِلَ ذَلِكَ بِهِ ». قَالَتْ أُمُّ سَلَمَةَ َحَفِظْتُ ذَلِكَ مِنْهُ فَلَمَّا تُوُفِّىَ أَبُو سَلَمَةَ اسْتَرْجَعْتُ وَقُلْتُ للَّهُمَّ أْجُرْنِى فِى مُصِيبَتِى وَاخْلُفْنِى خَيْراً مِنْهُ ثُمَّ رَجَعْتُ إِلَى نَفْسِى قُلْتُ مِنْ أَيْنَ لِى خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَبِى سَلَمَةَ فَلَمَّا انْقَضَتْ عِدَّتِى اسْتَأْذَنَ عَلَىَّ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- وَأَنَا أَدْبُغُ إِهَاباً لِى فَغَسَلْتُ يَدَىَّ مِنَ الْقَرَظِ وَأَذِنْتُ لَهُ فَوَضَعْتُ لَهُ وِسَادَةَ أَدَمٍ حَشْوُهَا لِيفٌ فَقَعَدَ عَلَيْهَا فَخَطَبَنِى إِلَى نَفْسِى فَلَمَّا فَرَغَ مِنْ مَقَالَتِهِ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ مَا بِى أَنْ لاَ تَكُونَ بِكَ الرَّغْبَةُ فِىَّ وَلَكِنِّى امْرَأَةٌ فِىَّ غَيْرَةٌ شَدِيدَةٌ فَأَخَافُ أَنْ تَرَى مِنِّى شَيْئاً يُعَذِّبُنِى اللَّهُ بِهِ وَأَنَا امْرَأَةٌ قَدْ دَخَلْتُ فِى السِّنِّ وَأَنَا ذَاتُ عِيَالٍ. فَقَالَ « أَمَّا مَا ذَكَرْتِ مِنَ الْغَيْرَةِ فَسَوْفَ يُذْهِبُهَا اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ مِنْكِ وَأَمَّا مَا ذَكَرْتِ مِنَ السِّنِّ فَقَدْ أَصَابَنِى مِثْلُ الَّذِى أَصَابَكِ وَأَمَّا مَا ذَكَرْتِ مِنَ الْعِيَالِ فَإِنَّمَا عِيَالُكِ عِيَالِى ». قَالَتْ فَقَدْ سَلَّمْتُ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فَتَزَوَّجَهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فَقَالَتْ أُمُّ سَلَمَةَ فَقَدْ أَبْدَلَنِى اللَّهُ بِأَبِى سَلَمَةَ خَيْراً مِنْهُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم

    "One day Abu Salamah came to me from the Prophet's company and said, 'Today I have heard the Prophet (saws) say something that has pleased me a lot. He said, "No Muslim whom a misfortune has befallen will say, 'To Allah we belong, and to Him do we return, 'and then supplicate in these words: "O Lord! Reward me for this misfortune and grant me better than what I have lost," but Allah will grant him that."
    Umm Salamah said: "I memorized those words from him. When Abu Salamah died I prayed to Allah (swt) in those very words. But I said to myself, 'What man can be better for me than Abu Salamah?' Sometime later the Prophet (saws) visited me. At that moment I was tanning a hide. I washed my hands and let him in. I placed a cushion for him on the floor and he sat down on it. As he spoke he offered to marry me. I told him, 'Messenger of Allah! There is no reason why I should not accept your offer. But the thing is I am a jealous woman (ghirah) and am afraid that I may say or do something (that will displease you) and in consequence I may suffer Allah's punishment. Also, I am getting old. Finally, I have children (that may bother you).' He replied, 'Well, as for jealousy, hopefully Allah (swt) will cure you of it. As for age, I'm getting old too. And, as for the children, well, your children are my children!'"
    Umm Salamah accepted him, and used to say, "For sure, Allah gave me a better husband than Abu Salamah" (Ibn Kathir).
    Another report of Tirmidhi says,

    عن أبي مُوسَى الأشْعَرِي: "أنّ رسولَ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قالَ: إذَا مَاتَ وَلَدُ العَبْدِ قالَ الله لِمَلاَئِكَتِهِ قَبَضْتُمْ وَلَدَ عَبْدِي؟ فَيَقُولُونَ نَعَمْ فَيَقُولُ قبضتم ثمَرَةَ فُؤَادِهِ فَيَقُولُونَ: نَعَمْ. فَيَقُولُ: مَاذَا قالَ عَبْدي؟ فَيَقُولُونَ حَمِدَكَ واسْتَرْجَعَ، فَيَقُولُ الله: ابْنُوا لِعَبْدِي بَيْتاً في الجَنّةِ وسَمّوهُ بَيْتَ الحَمْدِ".

    "When a man's child dies, Allah asks the angel of death: 'Have you taken away the child of My slave? Have you taken away the light of his eyes and the peace of his heart?' The angel says, 'Yes.' Allah asks (and He knows what has been said): 'And how did My slave react?' He replies: 'He praised You and said, "To Allah we belong, and to Him do we return."' Allah says: 'Build for him a house in Paradise and call it the House of Praise'" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Abu Bakr al Razi used to say that the verse: "To Allah we belong, and to Him we return" has two commandments hidden in it: one obligatory and the other non obligatory. The obligatory is to feel no grudge over the misfortune, (i.e. show total submission to Allah, and make no complaints to anyone other than Allah) and the non obligatory is to say these words.

    أُولَٰئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ (157)

    2|157| It is these on whom descends from their Lord peace and mercy.314 It is these who are rightly guided.

    314. Safa and Marwah are two hills near Ka`ba. Passages from the Grand Mosque now lead directly into the passage where the "walking" is to be done between the two in Hajj or `Umrah. The distance between the two is, according to Majid, 493 paces.
    Muhammad Asad writes: "Distraught with thirst and fearing for the life of her child, Hagar ran to and fro between the two rocks (when, following God's command, Ibrahim had left them there: Au.) and fervently prayed to God for succor: and, finally, her reliance on God and her patience were rewarded by the discovery of a spring existing to this day and known as the Well of Zamzam which saved the two from death through thirst. It was in remembrance of Hagar's extreme trial, and of her trust in God, that As Safa and Al Marwah had come to be regarded, even in pre Islamic times, as symbols of faith and patience in adversity: and this explains their mention in the context of the passages which deal with the virtues of patience and trust in God (Razi)."
    Sayyid Qutb comments: "It is important that we halt here for a moment and reflect over the mobilization of the Muslim forces... the mobilization against hardships, sacrifices, death, hunger, fear, and, loss of lives, goods and fruits... the mobilization for a long struggle, that was bound to be filled with pains and burdens of great magnitude.
    "Allah places them... all these... in one pan and in the other pan of the scale only peace and mercy, and the assurance that they will be rightly guided! Here, at this point, He does not promise them His succor, does not promise them their consolidation, nor booty. Nothing at all except peace, mercy, and guidance. Allah was promising the first set of Muslims things that were more important than their own selves, things of greater consequence than their lives. Therefore, He was divesting them of every other objective and of every desire and inclination that humans tend to set as their goal in life even the longing for victory for Truth. He was cleansing them of every adulteration in order that they be totally free of all abstractions, and be devoted to Him and His Call. It was for them to walk in the 'ways' unhindered by anything and unconcerned of anything but His peace, mercy, and guidance. This was the goal. This was the end to which they were directed. This was the sweet fruit toward which their hearts were to hasten ... As for what Allah (swt) had ordained of the help, succor, and consolidation that was for the Call itself, for which they were working... and which they were carrying on their shoulders."

    إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِنْ شَعَائِرِ اللَّهِ ۖ فَمَنْ حَجَّ الْبَيْتَ أَوِ اعْتَمَرَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِ أَنْ يَطَّوَّفَ بِهِمَا ۚ وَمَنْ تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ شَاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ (158)

    2|158| Verily, Safa and Marwah are among the Symbols of Allah.315 There is no sin upon him, therefore, who, when he visits the House for Hajj or for `Umrah, to walk around them.316 Whosoever volunteers a good (deed, will) surely (find) Allah Appreciative and Aware.317

    315. "Sha`a'irullah means 'all those religious services which God has appointed to us as signs... or the rites and ceremonies of the pilgrimage, and the places where these rites and ceremonies are performed'" (Majid from LL).

    316. `Urwah ibn Zubayr (who was then very young Ibn Jarir) says I told `A'isha, "By Allah, in view of the verse: 'Safa and Marwah are among the Symbols of Allah. There is no sin upon him, therefore, who, when he visits the House for hajj or `umrah to walk between them,' .. (in view of this verse) I'll not walk between them." `A'isha said, "You missed the point. Had the verse meant to say what you have understood, the words would have been, 'It is no sin for a man if he does not walk between them.' Those words were added because to walk between the hills of Safa and Marwah during the pilgrimage was a practice from the Ibrahimic times instituted in remembrance and appreciation of Hajar's run between the two Hills in search of water for her infant. The pagans had in subsequent times placed two idols Isaf and Na'ilah on them, which the Madinans considered a sacrilege. Accordingly, some people had given up the practice in the days of ignorance itself, and others did so after embracing Islam, assuming that it would be a sin to walk between the hills (so decorated). So Allah (swt) revealed this verse, (which says that far from sin, the two hills are Allah's symbols, and hence it will be a virtue to walk between them in hajj and `umrah)" Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Qurtubi and others.
    Accordingly, it is reported in a long hadith of Jabir in Muslim that when the Prophet (saws) had finished circumambulating the House, he went out through the Safa door, to begin walking between the hills saying: "I begin with what Allah began" (i.e. Safa) Ibn Kathir and others.
    The connection between this verse and the previous passage is that the earlier passage spoke of the change in the direction of qiblah from Jerusalem to the Ka`bah. And since, walking in between the two hills Safa and Marwah is part of the hajj and `umrah rites, and the bona fide of this act had come to be doubted, it was mentioned immediately after the command changing the qiblah. Another reason is that Allah spoke of sabr in the previous verses and promised rewards. He followed it up by mentioning a hajj rite to remind the believers of the exemplary patience of Hajar (asws), and to note how, when her patience was accepted by Allah, he rewarded her by making her act of running between the hills a rite of pilgrimage (Razi).
    Legal Points
    Sa`i is the rite of hajj and `umrah, and consists in going to and fro between the two hills Safa and Marwah seven times. Starting from Safa and ending at Marwah is one round, and then from Marwah to Safa second, and so on. It is a rukn (fard, or integral part) of hajj and `umrah according to Imam Shafe`i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Sunnah according to Imam Malik (another report suggests he too considered it a rukn Sabuni), and wajib according to the Hanafi school (Qurtubi).
    According to the Hanafi schools, wajib is that act which is not fard but almost so i.e. between fard and sunnah. Hence, if it is not done intentionally, and despite the availability of the means, then such a hajj or `umrah is invalid. It must be repeated. However, if it is left out due to an acceptable excuse, then it would be enough to sacrifice a goat in the Haram area in expiation, and the hajj or `umrah would be complete. As against wajib, rukn to them is that article without which hajj or `umrah would not be complete, whether left out intentionally or due to a reason (Au.).

    317. The original for what has been rendered as "Appreciative" is shakir. "Shakir, like shakur, when applied to God, means, `He who approves, or rewards, largely: He who gives large rewards for small, or few works.'" (Majid from LL).

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْتُمُونَ مَا أَنْزَلْنَا مِنَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالْهُدَىٰ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا بَيَّنَّاهُ لِلنَّاسِ فِي الْكِتَابِ ۙ أُولَٰئِكَ يَلْعَنُهُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَلْعَنُهُمُ اللَّاعِنُونَ (159)

    2|159| Verily, those who conceal what We have sent down of the clear proofs and Guidance318 after We have proclaimed them in the Scriptures it is such who are accursed of Allah and accursed of all those who curse.319

    318. Although opinions vary about what the people of the Book used to conceal, some saying the guidance itself (Qatadah), and others that it was the prophecy of Prophet Muhammad (Ibn `Abbas), it surely applies to anything of the religion of Allah that can be concealed from the people as says a hadith:

    عَنْ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « مَنْ سُئِلَ عَنْ عِلْمٍ عَلِمَهُ ثُمَّ كَتَمَهُ أُلْجِمَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِلِجَامٍ مِنْ نَارٍ ». - قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى حَدِيثُ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ

    "Whoever concealed a piece of knowledge granted to him by Allah) will have on the Day of Resurrection a rein of fire in his mouth." Accordingly, Abu Hurayrah used to say quoting this verse, that 'were it not for a verse in the Qur'an, I would not have narrated ahadith' (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). In contrast is Ibn Mas`ud's statement which says, "Never will you pass on a piece of knowledge to those who are freshmen and immature of minds, but you will plant doubts and suspicions among some of them." The Prophet (saws) also said on one occasion,

    « حدّث الناس بما يفهمون أتحبون أن يكذب الله ورسوله »

    "Speak to the people in accordance with their intellectual capacity. Do you want Allah (swt) and His messenger denied?"
    (But Bukhari has said that the above is a remark made by `Ali: Au.).
    The two statements refer to the kind of knowledge that can be misunderstood or put to wrong uses by the people. For instance, the knowledge that helps the ruler in deceiving his subjects, or the leniency of the Shari`ah which the ignorant will use to escape from the obligations of Islam (Qurtubi).

    319. Mawdudi comments: "The biggest failure of the Jews was that they kept the teachings contained in the Book of God confined to a limited class of people, the rabbis and professional theologians, instead of spreading them. They did not allow this knowledge to filter through even to the Jewish masses, let alone the non Jewish peoples of the world. Later, when errors and corruptions spread among them owing to widespread ignorance, the Jewish theologians made no serious effort to root them out. Moreover, in order to maintain their hold on the Jewish masses they lent their tacit approval to every corrupting deviation from the true faith that gained currency.
    "The Muslims are being admonished to refrain from this kind of behaviour. The nation which has been charged with the guidance of the entire world is duty bound to do its utmost to radiate true guidance, rather than keep it under lock and key as a miser hoards his money."
    Mawdudi's comments end here.
    As for the identity of those who curse, the opinion of Mujahid and `Ikrimah is that it is the beasts, reptiles and creepers that are meant by the words "those who curse." They say, "It is the sins of the children of Adam that held back the rains from us." But Qatadah and Dahhak believe that it is the believers and the angels who curse (Ibn Jarir). A hadith in Ibn Abi Hatim records Bara' b. `Azib as reporting that the Prophet (saws) said,

    "إن الكافر يضرب ضربة بين عينيه، يسمعها كل دابة غير الثقلين، فتلعنه كل دابة سمعت صوته، فذلك قول الله تعالى، {أُولَئِكَ يَلْعَنُهُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَلْعَنُهُمُ اللاَّعِنُونَ} يعني دواب الأرض"

    "When an unbeliever is buried he his struck between the two eyes (with a force) that everyone, save men and Jinn hears. Every animal that hears the sound curses him. Allah said in this connection, “Curses them Allah and all those who curse” (Ibn Kathir).
    The above report's different versions are in Bukhari, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i, Ibn Abi Hatim and others (Au.).
    Alusi explains: When cursing is attributed to Allah (swt), it means that He has distanced the object of curse from His Mercy.
    Yusuf Ali remarks: "A curse is not a matter of words: it is a terrible spiritual state, opposite to the state of Grace. Can man curse? Not of course in the same sense in which we speak of the curse of God. A mere verbal curse has no effect... But if men are oppressed or unjustly treated, their cries can ascend to God in prayer, and then it becomes God's 'wrath' or curse, the deprivation of God's Grace as regards the wrong doer."
    Majid notes: "The Christian conception of 'curse' is singularly amusing, if not actually blasphemous: 'The non observance of the law, St Paul teaches, puts men under a curse: from this curse Christ redeems them by becoming Himself a curse on their behalf,' The proof that Christ did become a curse is given in the form of a reference to the Crucifixion: it is written, 'Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree'... In His death on the cross He was identified under God's dispensation with the doom of sin: He became a curse for us; and it is on this our redemption depends' (DB. I. p.535)."

    إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا وَأَصْلَحُوا وَبَيَّنُوا فَأُولَٰئِكَ أَتُوبُ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ وَأَنَا التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ (160)

    2|160| Except those who repent, make amends, and bring to light, it is such to whom I turn (in mercy). And I am Oft turning, Most Merciful.320

    320. The God of Islam is a kind God. He loves man seventy times more than a mother does her child. He will be angry with only those who will waste away the opportunity given to them of a whole lifetime and, instead of submitting themselves to such a Kind God, choose to serve others. It is such who will be punished. As for those who submit themselves, He is very Kind, very Merciful. Says Majid: "The God of Islam, unlike the God of so many religions, is neither jealous nor vindictive. This requires frequent reiteration not only in view of the doctrines of the pagans but also of the teachings of the Bible (which says: ed.)....`He is a holy God: he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgression nor your sins' (Jo. 24:19)."

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَمَاتُوا وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ أُولَٰئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ (161)

    2|161| Those who insisted on rejection and died in the state of unbelief, it is such on whom is Allah's curse, that of the angels and of the mankind combined.321

    321. There is no difference of opinion that the unbelievers may be cursed. `Umar b. al Khattab and others of the Companions used to curse the unbelievers in their (Qunut) prayers. As for an individual specific unbeliever, the opinion of one section of the scholars is that he may not be cursed by name because nobody knows whether he will die on belief or on unbelief. Their opinion is based on this verse which, it will be noted, limits the curse to "those who have died on unbelief" (Ibn Kathir).

    خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۖ لَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمُ الْعَذَابُ وَلَا هُمْ يُنْظَرُونَ (162)

    2|162| They shall abide therein forever, the chastisement shall not be lightened for them, neither shall they receive respite.

    وَإِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ الرَّحِيمُ (163)

    2|163| And your God is one God. There is no god save Him: the Kind, the Merciful.322

    322. This verse was revealed when the pagans asked the Prophet (saws) to describe what the Lord was like (Tabari, Ibn Kathir, Alusi).
    Ibn Kathir states that according to a hadith of Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, al Ism al A`zam happens to be concealed in this verse and that of Al-`Imran, verse 1 and 2:

    عَن أسْماءَ بِنْتِ يَزِيدَ أَنّ النبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قالَ: "اسْمُ الله الأعْظَمُ في هَاتَيْنِ الاَيَتَيْنِ {وَإِلَهُكُمْ إلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ لاَ إِلَهَ إلاّ هُوَ الرّحْمَنُ الرّحِيمُ}. وَفَاتِحَة آلِ عِمْرَانَ: {أَلم الله لا إلَهَ إلاّ هُوَ الْحَيّ القَيّومُ{". - قال أبو عيسى: هَذا حديثٌ حَسَنٌ صحيحٌ.

    Adds Razi: Allah is One in three aspects. One in His Person, Being and Essence, uncomposed of other units, so that He cannot be divided. One in Attributes so that no one shares His Attributes in their uniqueness with Him. And One in His Acts of creation so that no one can imitate His Acts.

    إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنْفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِنْ مَاءٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِنْ كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخَّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ (164)

    2|164| Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth,323 in the alternation of night and day, in the ships that sail across the sea (laden) with what is beneficial to men, in the water that Allah sends down from the sky, reviving the earth therewith after its lifelessness, in His scattering abroad of all kinds of animals therein, in the turning about of the winds, and in the clouds hanging between heaven and earth .. are signs324 for people who contemplate.325

    323. It is said that when Allah revealed the verse, 'And your God is One God, there is no god save He,' the polytheists, who had set up 360 idols around the Ka`bah, objected: 'How can a single God suffice for this vast world?' So Allah (swt) revealed the verse: 'Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth...' to point out that the unity of creation proves the unity of the Creator. According to another interpretation the Quraysh asked the Jews and Christians about the miracles given to previous prophets. When they learnt of Musa's staff and `Isa's quickening of the dead, they demanded that Muhammad (asws) produce similar miracles. So Allah (swt) revealed this verse (Tabari).

    324. Imam Razi, who died in early 13th century after Christ, devotes several pages to explain the cosmos and the signs of the Creator evident in it. He argues that the earth is spherical and therefore when it is morning in one place, it has to be noon at another and evening at another. He also argues that since physical features of every man on the earth are at variance with another's, it must be assumed that the same is already present in the semen (nutfah).
    Thus he is not far away from the modern findings in the field of genetics (Au.).

    325. `A'isha (ra) reports that the Prophet (saws) said:

    ويل لمن قرأها ولم يتفكر فيها (صحيح ابن حبان)

    "Woe unto him who passed over this verse but did not contemplate over it" (Alusi, Zamakhshari).
    Thanwi has a point: The invitation to contemplate is indicative of the fact that religious "principles" (such as the oneness of Allah, the need for Prophets, etc.) are rooted in reason. However, it does not mean that the "details" (of religion) should conform to the prevalent standards of reason and logic. It is enough if such details are not in total violation of reason and logic. Many immature minds that cannot distinguish between the two, are led away from Islam.

    وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَتَّخِذُ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ أَنْدَادًا يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ اللَّهِ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِلَّهِ ۗ وَلَوْ يَرَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا إِذْ يَرَوْنَ الْعَذَابَ أَنَّ الْقُوَّةَ لِلَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعَذَابِ (165)

    2|165| Yet among the people are some who take to themselves compeers to Allah,326 bestowing on them the adoration that is due to Allah. While those who have believed love Allah much more ardently.327 And were those that have wronged themselves to realize, when they will face the Punishment, that all Might belongs to Allah, and that Allah is severe in chastisement.

    326. The word in the original is andad (sing. nidd compeer, equal). According to Qatadah, Mujahid and others, the allusion is to deities. Other commentators believe those of the chiefs and important men are meant whom the masses obey. While yet others (such as Suddi, Ja`far al Sadiq and the Sufiya) say that anything that diverts one's attention from his Lord is His nidd (Alusi, Razi).

    327. The words "ashaddu hubban" indicate that other kinds of love can co exist with the love of Allah. (However, the believer's love of Allah should exceed that of everything else) Thanwi.

    إِذْ تَبَرَّأَ الَّذِينَ اتُّبِعُوا مِنَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوا وَرَأَوُا الْعَذَابَ وَتَقَطَّعَتْ بِهِمُ الْأَسْبَابُ (166)

    2|166| When those that have been followed will disown those who followed them and will witness the punishment, and the relationship between them will be cut asunder.328

    328. That is, the relationship of love, veneration and obedience that existed between them in this world will be cut asunder and, in place, hatred will appear as said in the Qur'an (29: 25):

    ثُمَّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يَكْفُرُ بَعْضُكُمْ بِبَعْضٍ وَيَلْعَنُ بَعْضُكُمْ بَعْضًا [العنكبوت/25]

    "And then on the Day of Judgment you will deny each other and some of you will curse others."
    And, at another place (43: 67),

    الْأَخِلَّاءُ يَوْمَئِذٍ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ إِلَّا الْمُتَّقِينَ [الزخرف/67]

    "Close friends that day will be enemies unto each other save the righteous" (Qatadah: Ibn Jarir).
    It will actually happen that the unbelievers will be shown their places in Paradise which they would have inherited, had they believed and lived righteously. Then they would be ordered to proceed to the Fire. It is at that juncture that they will bitterly regret not having believed (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Thanwi adds: Even ordinarily, the believer's love for Allah is greater than the unbeliever's love for his idols and deities. As against the believer who knows that everything that happens to him, good or bad, proceeds from his Lord, yet loves Him, those who worship the deities always hope to be rewarded for their devotion. Were they to know that the deity will harm them, surely they would abandon them. Hence the believer's love for Allah (swt) is more ardent and worthier.
    Also, a believer never loses his faith in Allah. In comparison, those who worship deities abandon them when in serious trouble and begin to call their true Lord One God, as is the experience. In fact, it is reported of the Bahilah tribe, (whose idol was made of dates), that at times of famine they would devour the idols that they normally worshipped. Hence what is meant by "more ardent in love" is consistency. Otherwise, some of the believers in idols are seen carrying out more arduous tasks for their false god, than the believers in true God (Alusi).

    وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوا لَوْ أَنَّ لَنَا كَرَّةً فَنَتَبَرَّأَ مِنْهُمْ كَمَا تَبَرَّءُوا مِنَّا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُرِيهِمُ اللَّهُ أَعْمَالَهُمْ حَسَرَاتٍ عَلَيْهِمْ ۖ وَمَا هُمْ بِخَارِجِينَ مِنَ النَّارِ (167)

    2|167| Then those that had followed will say to those they had followed, ‘Oh that for us (another chance) when we will disown them as they have disowned us.329 Thus will Allah show them their deeds as (cause of) regret for them and they will be never let out of the Fire.

    329. "Here particular reference is made to the dismal end of those so called religious leaders who mislead people, and of their gullible followers who fall easy prey to their deception. This has been done in order to warn the Muslims to beware of the errors which misled former nations, and to impress upon them the need to develop the capacity to distinguish between true and spurious leaders so as to avoid being led by the latter" (Mawdudi).

    يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُوا مِمَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ (168)

    2|168| People! Eat of the earth what is lawful and good,330 and do not follow in the footsteps of Satan.331 Verily, he is your declared enemy.

    330. Thanwi says: This demonstrates the folly of those who go to extremes in the renunciation of the pleasures of the world.
    Further, the halal of the original has been interpreted by Ibn Jarir as that which has been given free access to, as they say in Arabic: huwa laka hillun, i.e. everything is allowable for you.
    What it means, says Ibn Kathir, is that nothing that has been forbidden to you by your customs and taboos is really forbidden save what Allah (swt) has forbidden. Muslim records the Prophet (saws) as having said:

    كُلّ مَالٍ نَحَلْتُهُ عَبْداً، حَلاَلٌ (مسلم)

    "Allah says, 'All that I have created for My servants is lawful unto them.' Allah (swt) also says,

    وَإِنّي خَلَقْتُ عِبَادِي حُنَفَاءَ كُلّهُمْ. وَإِنّهُمْ أَتَتْهُمُ الشّيَاطِينُ فَاجْتَالَتْهُمْ عَنْ دِينِهِمْ

    'I created My slaves hunafa' (believing in One God). Then came to them the Shayatin who diverted them from their Religion, and forbade them what I had made lawful.'"
    Ibn Marduwayh records Ibn `Abbas as saying that this verse: `People! Eat of the earth what is lawful and good' was recited before the Prophet (saws). Sa`d ibn Waqqas stood up and said, 'Pray for me O Messenger of Allah that I be of those whose supplications are answered.' The Prophet (saws) told him,

    يا سعد ! اطب مطعمك تكن مستجاب الدعوة ، والذي نفس محمد بيده إن العبد ليقذف اللقمة الحرام في جوفه ما يتقبل منه عمل أربعين يوما. و زاد في آخره : " و أيما عبد نبت لحمه من السحت فالنار أولى به"

    'Sa`d! Eat of the clean and lawful, you will become of those whose prayers are answered. By Him in whose hands is my soul, a man partakes of one mouthful of the forbidden and Allah (swt) rejects forty days of Prayers (acts of worship) because of it. And whosoever has his flesh made up of the unlawful and usury is better suited for the Fire."
    But Albani thought that the hadith is weak (Au.).
    Qurtubi notes: Sa`id ibn Yazid is reported to have said, 'There are five things that encompass (true) knowledge. Knowledge of Allah, knowledge of the Truth, deeds for the sake of Allah (swt) alone, deeds being in accordance with the Sunnah, and partaking of only the lawful.'

    331. Explaining what the footsteps of Satan mean, Ibn Kathir reports that once someone vowed that he will sacrifice his son. When Masruq learnt of it he remarked, "This is 'the footsteps of Satan,' and advised him to slaughter a goat instead. It is reported that once udder and salt were placed before `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud. He began to eat. He found a man avoiding it. He said, "Pass it on to your friend." The man said, "Not for me." "Why not, are you fasting?" asked Ibn Mas`ud. The man replied, "I have vowed that I'll never eat udder." Ibn Mas`ud said, "This is 'the footsteps of Satan.' Eat a little and expiate your oath." In another report Abu Rafe` says that his wife swore that she "would be a Jew one day and a Christian the next day, and all her slaves would be free, if he will not divorce his wife (i.e. herself)." Abu Rafe` took the case to `Abdullah ibn `Umar. He said, "This is 'the footsteps of Satan.'" Then he went up to Zaynab, the daughter of Umm Salamah, who was the most learned scholars of the women of Madinah. She also said the same words. Later, he took the case to `Asim and Ibn `Umar. They both used the same words in answer.
    But, of course, the word covers all that is of the nature of sin, innovation and opposed to the Sunnah (Qurtubi).

    إِنَّمَا يَأْمُرُكُمْ بِالسُّوءِ وَالْفَحْشَاءِ وَأَنْ تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ (169)

    2|169| Surely, he will command you (only) to evil and indecency, and that you fasten upon Allah what you have no knowledge of.332

    332. Such as to suggest that such and such a thing is unlawful for you, or such and such a thing is lawful, while it is not.

    وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اتَّبِعُوا مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ قَالُوا بَلْ نَتَّبِعُ مَا أَلْفَيْنَا عَلَيْهِ آبَاءَنَا ۗ أَوَلَوْ كَانَ آبَاؤُهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَهْتَدُونَ (170)

    2|170| When they are told, ‘Follow that which Allah has sent down,' they say, ‘Nay. Rather, we shall remain on that upon which we found our forefathers.' Even if their forefathers did not use reason nor were they rightly guided?333

    333. Qurtubi has the following to state at this point about taqlid.
    Taqlid
    Some people have used this verse to prove the illegality of taqlid. This is true in case of those who follow others in matters of sins and disbelief. As for taqlid involving the Truth, it is, it must be known, an accepted principle in Islam, and a means for the ignorant lacking in-depth knowledge of things, to resort to and safeguard their religion.
    Accordingly, it is obligatory on a man who does not have an expert knowledge of Islam to look for the most knowledgeable person of his time and place following the commandment of Allah (16: 42):

    فَاسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ [النحل/43]

    "Ask those who are the people of knowledge if you know not (yourself)." In this search he may use his own faculties and may accept as his guide one on whom most people of his time have converged.
    In fact, taqlid is incumbent upon that man of knowledge also who is unable to form his own opinion in matters complicated and involved, especially when there is no time for research and delay in offering an opinion may affect the performance of a religious obligation. The one to be resorted to for help and guidance in such cases may be a Companion of the Prophet (saws), or a latter day mujtahid [a legalist formulating independent decisions in legal or theological matters, taking his research to the ultimate end, safe from refutation: Au.].
    (According to the Hanafi school of law, however, it is not an individual opinion of a Companion, rather, the unanimous opinion of the Companions which is the criterion. As for the later day mujtahid, only he is considered as qualified who has been declared a mujtahid by the scholars of the ummah, and not one who is popularly treated by the common people as one: Au.).
    Scholars are unanimous over the opinion that there is no taqlid in matters of faith and belief (such as oneness of Allah, His Attributes, etc.

    وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي يَنْعِقُ بِمَا لَا يَسْمَعُ إِلَّا دُعَاءً وَنِدَاءً ۚ صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ (171)

    2|171| And the likeness of those who disbelieve is as the likeness of one who shouts to (a beast) who hears nothing, save a call and a cry deaf, dumb and blind (they are), and so they will not use their reason.334

    334. "This parable has two aspects. On the one hand, it suggests that these people are like herds of irrational animals, dumb cattle that always follow their herdsmen, moving on as they hear their calls without understanding what they mean. On the other hand, it also suggests that when the Truth is preached to them they show such insensitivity to it that one may as well be addressing animals who merely comprehend sounds but are incapable of understanding their meaning" (Mawdudi).

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُلُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِلَّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ (172)

    2|172| Believers! Eat of the good things that We have provided you, and give thanks to Allah if it is Him you worship.335

    335. Alusi and Razi report a hadith according to which the Prophet (saws) says,

    " قال الله عز وجل : إني و الجن و الإنس في نبأ عظيم ، أخلق و يعبد غيري ، و أرزق و يشكر غيري "

    "Allah says, 'I and mankind and jinn are involved in a serious affair. I create them, and they worship others. I feed them and they thank others.'"

    إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةَ وَالدَّمَ وَلَحْمَ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ بِهِ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ ۖ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلَا عَادٍ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (173)

    2|173| He has indeed forbidden you only the carrion,336 blood, flesh of swine,337 and that which has been consecrated in the name of other than Allah.338 Nonetheless, whoever has been driven by necessity,339 but (does it) without desiring (it), and without transgressing (the limits), there is no sin upon him. Verily Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.340

    336. Under this comes all that is otherwise lawful but died of its own self, without being slaughtered. Excluded are those mentioned in a hadith of Daraqutni which records the Prophet as having said:

    عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قَالَ « أُحِلَّتْ لَنَا مَيْتَتَانِ وَدَمَانِ فَأَمَّا الْمَيْتَتَانِ فَالْحُوتُ وَالْجَرَادُ وَأَمَّا الدَّمَانِ فَالْكَبِدُ وَالطِّحَالُ ».

    "Two kinds of carrion are lawful to us: fish and locust; and, two kinds of blood: lever and the spleen."
    The above report could not be checked for its authenticity (Au.).
    According to another report the Prophet (saws) said:

    « هُوَ الطَّهُورُ مَاؤُهُ الْحِلُّ مَيْتَتُهُ ». قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ

    "The sea: its water is clean and its dead is lawful" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Mufti Shafi` adds the Hanafi view point: Except for the flesh and fat (which cannot be eaten or used in any way), other parts of the dead animal are lawful to use, such as its skin, hair etc.

    337. Although the words used are "flesh of swine," nothing of this animal is lawful, by the consensus of the scholars, (except Imam Shafe`i: Sabuni), save its hair, which is lawful and not unclean (Qurtubi). According to the Hanafi school of law, however, it can only be used to stitch leather products (Mufti Shafi`).

    338. Under this comes all that is slaughtered in anyone's name other than Allah. However, it makes no difference whether the name of someone "other than Allah" is actually pronounced or not, such as in the case of the idol worshippers expressly saying at the time of slaughter, "In the name of such and such a deity." It is unlawful all the same. In other words, animals slaughtered by them are unlawful for a Muslim, notwithstanding what they utter at the time of slaughter (Qurtubi).
    Also, it may be noted here that it has been the practice among many a people to consecrate an animal in the name of a saint, idol or deity, and then set it free. The practice, as well as the animal is unlawful in Islam. Included in this, adds Mufti Shafi` are those animals, chicken, goats etc. that are set free in the name of a saint or a divine (sheikh, waliyy, or pir) and slaughtered only when he descends as a guest or visitor.
    Finally, those food articles are also included that are sent by Muslims to the graves of the saints, or by the non Muslims to their temples (Mufti Shafi`).
    Qurtubi mentions the story of a woman who celebrated the playful marriage of her dolls by actually slaughtering a goat. When Hasan al Basri's opinion was sought he ruled that its flesh was unlawful.

    339. That is, if one is so hungry that he fears he will die, and finds nothing but one of the unlawful items, then he is allowed to partake of it in just a sufficient quantity to kill his hunger, neither relishing it nor eating to the fill (which is the explanation of "ghayra baghin wa la `adin" of the text).
    Lawful and Unlawful
    Qurtubi and Shanqiti have the following to say on the subject: When one is forced to partake of the unlawful, first preference is to be given to that which is otherwise lawful in general but unlawful to the one in straightened circumstances, such as fruits hanging by the trees, or sheep wandering over the mountains, which do not sanction the amputation of the hand if stolen. This is based on a hadith in Ibn Majah which reports that the Prophet was asked by his Companions:

    " قلنا يا رسول الله ، ما يحلّ لأحدنا من مال أخيه إذا اضطر إليه؟ قال : «يأكل ولا يحمل ويشرب ولا يحمل»

    "What is lawful for us of the property of Muslims, if we are constrained, O Messenger of Allah?" He replied: "One may eat, but not carry, and drink but not carry."
    Ibn Majah has recorded another incident in which `Abbad b. Shurahbil reports:

    رَجُلاً مِنْ بَنِى غُبَرَ - قَالَ أَصَابَنَا عَامُ مَخْمَصَةٍ فَأَتَيْتُ الْمَدِينَةَ فَأَتَيْتُ حَائِطًا مِنْ حِيطَانِهَا فَأَخَذْتُ سُنْبُلاً فَفَرَكْتُهُ وَأَكَلْتُهُ وَجَعَلْتُهُ فِى كِسَائِى فَجَاءَ صَاحِبُ الْحَائِطِ فَضَرَبَنِى وَأَخَذَ ثَوْبِى فَأَتَيْتُ النَّبِىَّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فَأَخْبَرْتُهُ فَقَالَ لِلرَّجُلِ « مَا أَطْعَمْتَهُ إِذْ كَانَ جَائِعًا أَوْ سَاغِبًا وَلاَ عَلَّمْتَهُ إِذْ كَانَ جَاهِلاً ». فَأَمَرَهُ النَّبِىُّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فَرَدَّ إِلَيْهِ ثَوْبَهُ وَأَمَرَ لَهُ بِوَسْقٍ مِنْ طَعَامٍ أَوْ نِصْفِ وَسْقٍ.

    "When we were experiencing a year of drought, I set out for Madinah. There I entered an orchard. I began to pluck corn, eating some and packing the rest in my cloak. The owner chanced on me. He beat me and took away my cloak. I went up to the Prophet and complained to him. He called for the owner, and rebuked him saying, 'You did not feed him if he was hungry, and did not instruct him if he was ignorant.' Then he ordered the man to return me my cloak, and hand over to me some amount of grain."
    The above report of Ibn Majah is also found in Hakim's Mustadrak which Dhahabi declared trustworthy: Au.).
    In other words, "dire needs annul the illegality" (Qurtubi). And, although some legists are opposed to it, many others believe that the rule applies to human flesh as well (Qurtubi, Shanqiti).
    Regarding medicines, it is a matter of dispute whether such medicines as those in which the unlawful has been added could be used in ordinary circumstances, or should they be resorted to only in time of emergency. There is consensus of opinion however they should not be used if alternatives are available (Shafi`). As for the amphibious animals, such as frogs, turtles, alligators, etc., there is a strong disagreement among the jurists over their lawfulness. Most seem to abhor their consumption, even if some of them declare their lawfulness. Differences in opinion also prevail over those sea animals that have their counterparts on the land prohibited, such as the sea-dogs, sea-lions, etc. However, there is no difference of opinion over the unlawfulness of those birds that use their talons to hold their prey, nor over the predatory animals (Shanqiti).

    340. That is, although it is a grave sin to consume any of the above, Allah is Most Forgiving and Most Merciful, and has therefore allowed their consumption in the state of extreme compulsion. Allah is also Most Forgiving and Most Merciful toward him who happens to commit excesses unintentionally in partaking of the unlawful in such situations (Au.).

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْتُمُونَ مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَشْتَرُونَ بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۙ أُولَٰئِكَ مَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ إِلَّا النَّارَ وَلَا يُكَلِّمُهُمُ اللَّهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَلَا يُزَكِّيهِمْ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ (174)

    2|174| Those who conceal that which Allah has revealed of the Book and barter in its return a partly price, do not fill their bellies but with Fire.341 Allah will not speak to them on the day of Resurrection342 nor will He will purify them, but rather, there will be a painful chastisement343 for them.

    341. Jewish scholars used to conceal the truth about the Prophet from their masses from fear of losing them to Islam. Their loss would have meant them financial losses since they survived on gifts they received from them in cash and kind for rendering them religious services. But Allah (swt) was to make evident the truth so that a time came when some of the Jews embraced Islam and fought against them in the company of the Prophet (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi).

    342. Not that Allah (swt) will not speak to them at all; He will, But in anger (Shanqiti).

    343. Abu Hurayrah (ra) reports the Prophet (saws) as having said:

    عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "ثَلاَثَةٌ لاَ يُكَلّمُهُمُ الله يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَلاَ يُزَكّيهِمْ (قَالَ أَبُو مُعَاوِيَةَ: وَلاَ يَنْظُرُ إِلَيْهِمْ) وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ: شَيْخٌ زَانٍ وَمَلِكٌ كَذّابٌ. وَعَائِلٌ مُسْتَكْبِرٌ".

    "There are three persons with whom Allah (swt) will not speak, not look at, nor purify them, instead, there will be a painful chastisement for them: an aged adulterer, a lying ruler and a proud but destitute" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, from Muslim).

    أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُا الضَّلَالَةَ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَالْعَذَابَ بِالْمَغْفِرَةِ ۚ فَمَا أَصْبَرَهُمْ عَلَى النَّارِ (175)

    2|175| These are a people who have purchased error at the price of guidance, and chastisement at the price of forgiveness. So how courageous they are for the Fire!?344

    344. The verse (and the threat it carries) also applies to those Muslims who conceal any part of the Book of Allah (swt) for the sake of worldly gains (Qurtubi).

    ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ نَزَّلَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ ۗ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ اخْتَلَفُوا فِي الْكِتَابِ لَفِي شِقَاقٍ بَعِيدٍ (176)

    2|176| This because Allah revealed the Book with the Truth but those who at variance with the Book, are indeed in a distant schism.345

    345. Majid comments: "I.e., at great variance with truth, and constantly disputing among themselves. The divisions and subdivisions of the Christians are only too well known. Draper, while speaking of the interminable wrangling and bickering of the Christian sects, refers to the incomprehensible jargon of Arians, Nestorians, Entychians, Monothelites, Monophysites, Mariolatrists, and an anarchy of countless disputants" (History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, I. p. 333).

    لَيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَنْ تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا ۖ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ ۗ أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ (177)

    2|177| Piety346 is not (in) that you turn your faces towards the east or the west.347 Rather piety (is in) him who believed in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Books and the Prophets. And he gave wealth despite it being dear348 to the kindred, orphans,349 the destitute,350 the wayfarer,351 to those who ask,352 and, to (ransom) slaves.353 Moreover, he Prayed (diligently and spiritedly),354 and gave the zakah.355 And those who fulfill their promises when they make them. And those who endure with fortitude poverty, illness,356 and, (remain steadfast) at moments of great stress in the battlefield.357 It is these who are truthful, and it is these who are godfearing.358

    346. Ashraf Ali Thanwi calls the virtues listed in this verse as the "Doors to Virtue" (abwab al birr).

    347. That is, there is no virtue in you doing prayers (etc.) but not practicing (the rest of Islam): Ibn `Abbas Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir.
    Thanwi adds: The verse indicates that mere "appearances" are not enough.
    "Islamic worship, it must be manifest to the reader, is not directed toward any direction as such east, west, north, or south, but toward a particular House, on whatever side of the worshipper it may happen to be" (Majid).

    348. That is, he gave despite such obstacles of the inner self (Au.).
    `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud has said: The meaning is: "(He spent despite) greed, without any great internal desire (to give, rather, on the contrary) wishing to get richer, and fearing poverty" (Ibn Jarir).
    There is in fact, a hadith also (in Fath al Bari), to this effect (Ibn Kathir).
    Abu Hamza says: I asked Sha`bi: "Is a man's wealth pure after he has paid the zakah?" He recited this verse In reply: "Piety does not consist in...."
    Fatimah bint Qays says the Prophet said:

    "إنّ في المالِ لَحَقّاً سِوَى الزكاةِ"

    "There are other rights of the people on your wealth apart from zakah,' and recited this verse" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, and Qurtubi).
    The last mentioned, however, adds that the dependability of the chain of narrators has been questioned but not the meaning it conveys).
    And when the Prophet (saws) was asked, 'What charity is the best," he replied:

    جهد المقل على ذي القرابة الكاشح

    "Of a person who has to struggle to give from his little, to the kin who bears grudge against him" (Ibn Jarir).
    The authenticity of the report's second half part could not be traced (Au.).
    There is another hadith on the topic. It is in the Sahihayn. When asked about the best of charity, the Prophet replied:

    أَنْ تَصَدَّقَ وَأَنْتَ صَحِيحٌ شَحِيحٌ ، تَخْشَى الْفَقْرَ وَتَأْمُلُ الْغِنَى

    “That you should spend in charity while you are healthy, parsimonious, fearful of poverty and hoping for wealth” (Ibn Kathir).

    349. "An orphan is defined as one who has lost his father and is a minor. He deserves charity if he has no one to provide for, and is unable to earn his own living. However, once he attains maturity, he is no more an orphan, as declared by the Prophet" (Ibn Kathir).

    350. Miskin (destitute) is someone who does not have enough for his food, clothing, or housing. Abu Hurayrah (ra) has been recorded in the Sahihayn quoting the Prophet (saws) as having said:

    عَنْ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قَالَ « لَيْسَ الْمِسْكِينُ بِهَذَا الطَّوَّافِ الَّذِى يَطُوفُ عَلَى النَّاسِ فَتَرُدُّهُ اللُّقْمَةُ وَاللُّقْمَتَانِ وَالتَّمْرَةُ وَالتَّمْرَتَانِ ». قَالُوا فَمَا الْمِسْكِينُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ « الَّذِى لاَ يَجِدُ غِنًى يُغْنِيهِ وَلاَ يُفْطَنُ لَهُ فَيُتَصَدَّقَ عَلَيْهِ وَلاَ يَسْأَلُ النَّاسَ شَيْئًا ».

    "Miskin is not one who goes about begging people who can be sent away with a morsel or two or a date or two." They asked him, "Who then is a true miskin, O Messenger of Allah?" He answered, "He is someone who does not find enough for his needs; but who does not make his situation obvious so that he could be helped" (Ibn Kathir).

    351. A wayfarer is someone who is in journey, but has no means to continue, or who wants to start on a journey in the way of Allah but does not find enough means. According to Ibn `Abbas, however, every guest (who drops in to spend a day or two) is a wayfarer. This is also the opinion of Mujahid, Sa`id ibn Jubayr, Abu Ja`far al Baqir, Hasan, Qatadah and others (Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Jarir adds: Qatadah used to say that "ibn al sabil" includes the guest. He also reported the Prophet (saws) as saying:

    مَنْ كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَلْيَقُلْ خَيْرًا ، أَوْ لِيَسْكُتْ

    “Whoever believes in Allah and the Hereafter may say good or remain silent.”
    (The report is in Bukhari: Au.). He also reports the Prophet as saying:

    حَقُّ الضِّيَافَةِ ثَلاَثَةُ أَيَّامٍ فَمَا أَصَابَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فَهُوَ صَدَقَةٌ

    “The guest's right of hospitality is three days. Anything beyond that is sadaqah.'"
    (The report is also in Ahmad but could not be checked for its authenticity: Au.).
    A casual visitor, individual or family, is not ibn al-sabil (Au.).

    352. The sa'il of the original is anyone who asks for help. The Prophet is reported to have said,

    عنْ فَاطِمَةَ بِنْتِ حُسَيْنٍ عن حُسَيْنِ بن عَلِيَ قالَ قالَ رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "لِلسّائِلِ حَقّ وَإِنْ جَاءَ عَلَى فَرَسٍ"
    {وَإِسْنَادُهُ حَسَنٌ إِلَّا أَنَّهُ مُرْسَلٌ ، قَالَ أَبُو عَلِيُّ بْنُ السَّكَنِ وَأَبُو الْقَاسِمِ الْبَغَوِيُّ وَغَيْرُهُمَا : كُلُّ رِوَايَاتِ حُسَيْنِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ مَرَاسِيلُ فَهُوَ مُرْسَلُ صَحَابِيٍّ وَجُمْهُورُ الْعُلَمَاءِ عَلَى الِاحْتِجَاجِ بِهِ (تحفة الأحوذي)}

    "The beggar has the right (to be given), even if he comes on a horse" (Ibn Kathir).

    353. By the al riqab of the original those slaves are meant who have entered into an agreement with their masters about redemption but are unable to raise sufficient funds (Ibn Kathir). Qurtubi adds: According to Imam Malik (it applies to the prisoners of war also) who should be released at all cost, even if it means spending away all the wealth of the people.
    Asad comments: "By including this kind of expenditure within the essential acts of piety, the Qur'an implies that the freeing of people from bondage and, thus, the abolition of slavery is one of the social objectives of Islam. At the time of the revelation of the Qur'an, slavery was an established institution throughout the world, and its sudden abolition would have been economically impossible. In order to obviate this difficulty, and at the same time to bring about an eventual abolition of all slavery, the Qur'an ordains in 8:67 that henceforth only captives taken in a just war (jihad) may be kept as slaves. But even with regard to persons enslaved in this or before the revelation of 8:67 in any other way, the Qur'an stresses the great merit inherent in the freeing of slaves, and stipulates as a means of atonement for various transgressions (see, e.g., 4:92, 5:89, 58:3). In addition, the Prophet emphatically stated on many occasions that, in the sight of God, the unconditional freeing of a human being from bondage is among the most praiseworthy acts which a Muslim could perform. (For a critical discussion and analysis of all the authentic Traditions bearing on this problem, see Nayl al Awtar VI, 199 ff.)."

    354. Aqama al salah: That is, prayed on time, doing the bowing and prostration properly, and with full attention of the heart and mind (Ibn Kathir).

    355. Aata al zakah: It could be alluding to the cleansing of the soul from base qualities, as well as to the charity that Allah has stipulated, as is the opinion of Sa`id ibn Jubayr and Muqatil b. Hayyan. As Musa said to Fir`an (79: 18):

    {هَلْ لَكَ إِلَى أَنْ تَزَكَّى} [النازعات: 18]

    “Would you then, like to be cleansed?” (Ibn Kathir).

    356. Qurtubi cites a hadith in which the Prophet is reported to have said:

    عن أبي هريرة قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم : قال الله تعالى : إذا ابتليت عبدي المؤمن و لم يشكني إلى عواده أطلقته من أساري ثم أبدلته لحما خيرا من لحمه و دما خيرا من دمه ثم يستأنف العمل (هذا حديث صحيح على شرط الشيخين و لم يخرجاه - المستدرك على الصحيحين للحاكم مع تعليقات الذهبي في التلخيص)

    "Allah says, 'When I test one of My slaves with a sickness, and he does not complain to his visitors, I change his old flesh for a better one, and his old blood for a better one. So that, if I deal him death, he returns to My Mercy, and if I cure him, he is without a sin.' They asked, "In what sense does his flesh become better than his old one?' He replied: 'A flesh that has not sinned.' He was asked, 'In what sense does his blood become better than his old one?' He replied, 'A blood that has not sinned.'"

    357. Sayyid Qutb comments: "Let us look at this important verse more closely. What's the true value of faith in Allah, in the Hereafter, in the angels and in the Prophets?
    "Faith in Allah is the point of departure in the life of a person from the worship of various powers, objects and opinions ... to ... the worship of one Allah ... the faith that liberates him from all other kinds of worship, raising him to the level of everyone else of the humankind on to a single platform, in a single row in front of One God! It is also the point of transition from anarchy to discipline, from aimlessness to purpose in life, from disunity and fragmentation to unity of purpose ... Belief in the Hereafter is belief in the system of justice instituted by Allah ... and for awareness that this life is not pointless, rather, a good deed here will be rewarded for, if not in this life, then in the next ... Belief in the angels is a part of belief in the unknown which makes the difference between animals and man, the former incapable of feeling anything but that which is palpable through physical senses ... Faith in the Books and Prophets is the faith in the unity of humankind, in the unity of its God, in the unity of its religion, and in the unity of the divine system (of guidance).
    "Again, what is the point in spending money despite it being dear on the relatives, orphans, destitute, travelers, those who ask, and the prisoners and slaves? Spending liberates the humans from the shackles of greed, avariciousness, weakness and selfishness ... liberates them from the worship of wealth ... and from greed. This is a very important element in the sight of Islam. It endeavors to liberate a man first from his evil inner forces, before attempting to liberate him from external forces. The spending on the kin, orphans, destitute, travelers, those that ask, the prisoners and the slaves ... all these have their place and value. Spending on the kin strengthens the family ... which is the first seed of the larger tree of community ... Spending on the orphans levels up the young with the old, the weak with the strong. Neglect of these results in their exposure to all kinds of evils. Spending on the destitute gives them the assurance that no individual of the society suffers neglect. Spending on the traveler gives him the feeling that the whole world is his world, and every town is his home town. Spending on those who ask, is, in the Islamic system of life, spending on someone who is in dire need of help, for Islam advises him to work and not ask, to be content and not beg, and therefore, he must have been forced by totally unavoidable circumstances to ask. Finally, spending on the slaves and prisoners indicates that the Islamic system of life has declared war against these institutions.
    "Prayers! What's their value? It is not simply the movements of the body and limbs in a prescribed manner; nor it is simply a spiritual exercise as understood by the Sufis. It is the combination of bodily movements, mental attention, and spiritual concentration.
    "What about zakah?! To mention it after charity is a clear indication that there are other demands on the wealth of a man ... that charity is voluntary while zakah is enforced by the state.
    "Again, the oft repeated injunction to fulfill promises? What about it? It creates the right atmosphere ... the atmosphere of trust between man and his God, between man and man, between state and state.
    "Finally, the injunction about steadfastness in the face of difficulties is to teach the individuals that they may not get overly excited with every new event nor die out of despondency at every misfortune.
    "Thus in a single verse the Qur'an has assembled together all the virtues that are the basis of the Islamic system and which cannot be established if any of them is missing."

    358. "'This is one of the noblest verses in the Qur'an ... Faith in God and benevolence toward man is clearly set forth as the essence of religion. It contains a compendium of doctrine as well as of precept to be practiced in life.' It is something after all to have these words of commendation by so irreverent a critic of Islam as ‘reverend' E.M. Wherry'" (Majid).

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِصَاصُ فِي الْقَتْلَى ۖ الْحُرُّ بِالْحُرِّ وَالْعَبْدُ بِالْعَبْدِ وَالْأُنْثَىٰ بِالْأُنْثَىٰ ۚ فَمَنْ عُفِيَ لَهُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ شَيْءٌ فَاتِّبَاعٌ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَأَدَاءٌ إِلَيْهِ بِإِحْسَانٍ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ تَخْفِيفٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۗ فَمَنِ اعْتَدَىٰ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فَلَهُ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ (178)

    2|178| Believers,359 (law of just) retribution has been prescribed360 for you in matters of the slain: a free man for a free man; slave for slave, and female for female.361 But he who has been forgiven something by his brother, then, let the pursuing be honorable, and let the other pay to him in a goodly manner.362 This is a leniency from your Lord, and a mercy.363 He who commits an aggression after that, will have a painful chastisement.364

    359. Asad writes: "After having pointed out that true piety does not consist in mere adherence to outward forms and rites, the Qur'an opens, as it were, a new chapter relating to the problem of man's behaviour. Just as piety cannot become effective without righteous action, individual righteousness cannot become really effective in the social sense unless there is agreement within the community as to the social rights and obligations of its members; in other words, as to the practical laws which should govern the behaviour of the individual within the society and the society's attitude toward the individual and his actions. This is the innermost reason why legislation plays so great a role within the ideology of Islam, and why the Qur'an consistently intertwines its moral and spiritual exhortation with ordinances relating to practical aspects of social life. Now one of the main problems facing any society is the safeguarding of the lives and the individual security of its members: and so it is understandable that laws relating to homicide and its punishment are dealt with prominently at this place...
    "As for the term qisas occurring at the beginning of the above passage, it must be pointed out that according to all the classical commentators it is almost synonymous with musawah, i.e., 'making a thing equal [to another thing]': in this instance, making the punishment equal (or appropriate) to the crime a meaning which is best rendered as 'just retribution.'"

    360. That is, it has been made obligatory.

    361. This verse was revealed to institute justice. In pre Islamic times some people considered themselves superior to others, enforcing their superiority with force. In matters of blood money, for instance, certain tribes considered males of other tribes unequal to males of their own, so that when one of their slaves was killed by another tribe, in retaliation they demanded a free man's life or blood wit double in amount. Likewise if a female of their tribe was killed by a female of another and lower tribe, they demanded a male's life or blood money of a free male in retaliation. Banu Nadir for instance demanded from Banu Qurayzah double the blood wit, although both were Jewish. In fact, cases of similar nature were pending decision between two other tribes when Islam appeared. Although both the tribes embraced Islam, one of them remained demanding retribution according to the old order. Allah (swt) revealed this verse which purports to say: If a woman kills a woman, only the woman may be punished in retaliation. And, if a slave kills a free man, only the slave may be punished, and so on (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Mawdudi comments: "In pre Islamic Arabia people tried to take blood revenge upon the murderer's family and tribe, and the retaliation corresponded to the value placed on the blood of the victim. Their desire for revenge was not quenched merely by putting the murderer to death. They preferred to put to death tens and even hundreds of people for the one life they had lost....
    "This attitude is not confined to the Ignorance of that bygone age. Even today those nations that are supposedly the most civilized will often proclaim, officially and quite brazenly, that if one of their citizens is killed they will execute scores of the killer's compatriots."

    362. This refers to the situation in which the heirs of the victim either show leniency to the criminal and accept legal compensation in lieu of life for life, or agree not only to waive away their claim to his life but also forgive a part of what is due from him as diyah (blood money). In such cases, the Qur'an, first of all reminds them both that their relationship of brotherhood remains despite the crime, and then exhorts them to be good and kind to each other. It exhorts the heirs to be patient and not press for payments, as it advises the aggressor to pay the sums due as soon as possible, and in excess if he can: a message hidden in the words 'ada'un ilayhi bi ihsan (Au.).

    363. Ibn `Abbas is reported to have said: "There was no system of blood wit in the law of the Israelites. A man had to necessarily die as a punishment for homicide. Islam instituted the system of blood wit. Hence this is a mercy from our Lord." Qatadah goes further and says that among the Israelites either it was death for murder or forgiveness. No system of blood wit prevailed. The system prevalent among the Christian did not allow for a murderer to be killed. He was to be pardoned altogether. As against these two extremes Islam offered a third course (which is the middle, practicable and equitable course) and hence the law is a mercy from Allah (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir) The report by Ibn `Abbas is in Bukhari (Qurtubi).
    The fear of punishment restrains a man from the crime and thus there is life in this law of retribution (Qatadah: Ibn Jarir).
    "Thus, the objective of qisas is the protection of the society, and not "revenge" (Asad).

    364. The allusion is to the one who killed the murderer after accepting indemnification, or legal reparation. No mercy will be shown to him in this world, so that no blood wit will be accepted from him, rather, he will be executed, and, in addition, he will be punished in the Hereafter. The Prophet (saws) said about him: "I will not forgive a man who killed (the killer) after accepting blood wit" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    وَلَكُمْ فِي الْقِصَاصِ حَيَاةٌ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ (179)

    2|179| There is life in you in the (law of just) retribution, O men of understanding. So that you may refrain.365

    365. "This refutes another notion of Ignorance, a notion ingrained in the minds of many people, both past and present. On the one hand, there are some people who, entrenched in Ignorance, tend to exceed the limits of moderation in revenge. At the other end of the spectrum stand those who are opposed in principle to the concept of executing a murderer...
    "The Qur'an, however, addresses this question to wise and intelligent people and cautions them against such immoderate leniency by proclaiming that the survival of human society rests on the application of the death penalty for homicide. A society which holds inviolable the lives of those who disregard the sanctity of human life is in fact rearing snakes and serpents" (Mawdudi).
    Legal Points
    1. The law of Qisas (just retribution) is applicable only to premeditated murder (and not accidental) [Ma`arif]. It is not applied to an insane or a minor (Al Arba`ah). For the awliya' (next of kin) there is no recourse but to one of the three: life for life (i.e. they demand that the murderer be punished with death), forgiveness, or acceptance of blood wit.
    2. There is no difference of opinion over the rule that all punishments involving murder (in fact all cases involving hudud major crimes for which punishment has been pronounced by the Qur'an), are to be administered by the state or a ruling authority, and not by individuals or groups (Qurtubi).
    3. The majority of scholars are of opinion that a free man may not be killed in retaliation of the murder of a slave, or a Muslim for a dhimmi, rather only blood money would be due. However, the Hanafiyya's opinion, and that of `Ali ibn Abi Talib, Ibn Mas`ud, Thawri, Ibn Abi Layla, Sa`id ibn al Musayyib, Qatadah, Ibrahim Nakha`i and Ibn `Uyayna is that a free man will be killed in retaliation of a slave and a Muslim for killing a dhimmi (Qurtubi).
    4. Opinions vary between the leading scholars over whether a man would be killed in retaliation if he murdered his own son.
    5. If, for instance, a murdered man has left only two sons as his legal heir, and one of them agrees to forgive the murderer but the second refuses, then the murderer will be set free and required to pay only one half of the blood wit amount to the second son (Ma`arif).
    6. Blood wit amount is the value of one hundred camels, 1000 Dinars or 10,000 Dirhams (of the Prophet's time) when a Dirham was equal to about 3.5 masha of silver (Ma`arif). [One Indian tola = 12 masha = 11.66 grams, and hence one masha = 0.972 gm. Thus the blood money today will be equal to (10,000 x 3.5 x 0.972) about 34 kg. of silver or its equivalent in currency: Au.]. This in principle is the diyah (blood money) in case of accidental manslaughter. The amount might be increased (by the judge) for premeditated murder (Al Arba`ah).
    7. The inheritors will divide the blood money among themselves in the same ratio in which the Shari`ah has allotted them the shares in inheritance (Ma`arif).
    8. The murderer will not get any share from the murdered person if he happens to be one of the heir (Al Arba`ah).
    9. Will a group of people be punished if they jointly commit a murder? Hanafiyyah and Shafe`iyyah say yes. Malikiyyah add conditions. Hanabilah say no (Al Arba`ah).
    10. "`Whenever retaliation for murder or hurt is compounded, the money payable as consideration can be realized only from the offender himself. So also, when compensation is ordered in cases where there is a doubt as to the willful nature of the homicide. Similarly, when the hurt caused has not resulted in death, the wrong doer alone can be called upon to pay compensation. But when death has been caused by negligence or mistake, the offender's Akilas (`Aqila: Au.), that is, his tribe, or regiment, or the inhabitants of the town to which he belongs, are to pay the blood money to the heirs of the deceased. The reason is, that it is the duty of a person's Akilas to watch his conduct and the law presumes that the wrong doer would not have acted in the way he did unless they neglected their duty.' (Abdur Rahim, Muhammadan Jurisprudence, p. 359)" Majid.

    كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ إِنْ تَرَكَ خَيْرًا الْوَصِيَّةُ لِلْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۖ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُتَّقِينَ (180)

    2|180| It has been prescribed for you, when death approaches one of you, and he is leaving wealth (behind him),366 that he make testament in favor of his parents and kinsmen, in a just manner:367 an obligation on the godfearing.368

    366. "The word khayr occurring in this verse denotes "much wealth" and not simply "property" (Ibn Kathir, Qurtubi, in Asad's words). Accordingly, it is reported of `Ali (ra) that he visited a cousin of his at the time of his death. The man said he wanted to write down his will. `Ali told him, "Don't do that, for you are not leaving wealth behind you." The man was leaving behind 700 900 Dirham (Ibn Jarir). It is also reported of `A'isha (ra) that a man wanted to write down his will while he was leaving a lot of children behind him and about 400 Dinars. `A'isha said, "I don't see any virtue in (you writing) it down" (Ibn Jarir).
    Thanwi adds: (The use of the word khayr which is synonymous with "much wealth") is indicative of the fact that possession of wealth is not against taqwa, so long as various dues are paid and obligations met.

    367. "The term ma`ruf occurs quite frequently in the Qur'an. It refers to the conduct which is reckoned fair and equitable by the generality of disinterested people. The generally accepted usages and customs of life are called `urf and ma`ruf in Islamic terminology, and they are considered valid in all those matters not specifically regulated by the Shari`ah" (Mawdudi).

    368. According to the great majority of scholars, this verse has been abrogated by verse 7 of surah al Nisa' which says:

    لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالْأَقْرَبُونَ وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالْأَقْرَبُونَ مِمَّا قَلَّ مِنْهُ أَوْ كَثُرَ نَصِيبًا مَفْرُوضً [النساء : 7]

    "For men is their share of what their parents and relatives leave behind, and for women is their share of what their parents and relatives leave behind whether little or much that they leave behind a share allotted (by Allah)." However, since quite a few of the kin are left out without a share allotted to them by the Qur'anic verses of mirath, it can be said that this verse of al Baqarah remains unabrogated for a person who is leaving a lot of wealth and many relations behind him, whom he may allot their share through his will, acting on the verse under discussion and on the hadith of Bukhari which says,

    مَا حَقُّ امْرِئٍ مُسْلِمٍ لَهُ شَيْءٌ يُوصِي فِيهِ يَبِيتُ لَيْلَتَيْنِ إِلَّا وَوَصِيَّتُهُ مَكْتُوبَةٌ عِنْدَهُ

    "It is not right of a man who has some wealth that he pass two nights without the will written down." Accordingly, Ibn `Umar used to say, "I have not spent a night since I heard this from the Prophet without the will written down" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    As for the amount one can bequeath, there is consensus of opinion that it may not exceed one third of the estate (i.e. the sums that will remain after all debts have been paid). This is in light of the hadith of Sa`d b. Mu`adh in the Sahihayn whom the Prophet visited in his sick bed.

    عَامِرِ بْنِ سَعْدٍ عَنْ أَبِيهِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ مَرِضْتُ فَعَادَنِي النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ادْعُ اللَّهَ أَنْ لَا يَرُدَّنِي عَلَى عَقِبِي قَالَ لَعَلَّ اللَّهَ يَرْفَعُكَ وَيَنْفَعُ بِكَ نَاسًا قُلْتُ أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُوصِيَ وَإِنَّمَا لِي ابْنَةٌ قُلْتُ أُوصِي بِالنِّصْفِ قَالَ النِّصْفُ كَثِيرٌ قُلْتُ فَالثُّلُثِ قَالَ الثُّلُثُ وَالثُّلُثُ كَثِيرٌ

    Sa`d was reported as saying, “I fell sick and the Prophet came to visit me. I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, pray Allah for me that He may not turn me back (apostate).’ He said, ‘Maybe Allah will raise you (in rank) and people will benefit from you.’ I said, ‘I wish to leave a will. I have a daughter and so I wish to will for half.’ He said, ‘Half is too much.’ I said, ‘Then a third?’ He said: "A third, yes. But even a third is too much." Accordingly, Ibn `Abbas used to say that he wished people would remain within one fourth since the Prophet said that even a third was too much (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    However, one may bequeath more than one third also, provided all the legal heirs give their consent (Thanwi).
    But one cannot will in favor of an inheritor. If he did, it will be treated as null and void after his death in view of hadith in Bukhari and others,
    لَا وَصِيَّةَ لِوَارِثٍ
    “Bequething in favor of an inheritor is disallowed.”
    Yet, it is not the best thing to spend one's wealth at the death bed, in view of the hadith of Nasa'i which reports the Prophet (saws) as having said:

    مثل الذي ينفق أو يتصدق عند موته مثل الذي يهدي بعد ما يشبع

    "Whoever spends or gives away in charity at the time of his death is like he who gifts away (a food article) after he has had his full" (Qurtubi).

    فَمَنْ بَدَّلَهُ بَعْدَمَا سَمِعَهُ فَإِنَّمَا إِثْمُهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ يُبَدِّلُونَهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ (181)

    2|181| And whoever alters (the will) after having known it,369 surely the sin will be upon those who alter it. Allah is All hearing, All knowing.

    369. Sami`a has also the connotation of "he came to know" (Asad).

    فَمَنْ خَافَ مِنْ مُوصٍ جَنَفًا أَوْ إِثْمًا فَأَصْلَحَ بَيْنَهُمْ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (182)

    2|182| However, if anyone fears from the testator, an inclination (to injustice),370 or a sin and so makes peace between them, then there is no blame upon him.371 Surely, Allah is very Forgiving, very Kind.372

    370. Janafa of the original means to incline or deviate. That is, he who deviates from the course of justice. This is applicable to the situation in which a man is present beside a testator who is not doing justice while writing down the will. He tells him, `Look! Don't give this man so much.' Or, ` I believe the other man is more deserving,' and so forth (Ibn Jarir).

    371. That is, if a testator commits wrong or does not do justice by his will, and the next of kin (waliyy) or the ruler of the time makes corrections in accordance with the Qur'an and Sunnah, then there is not sin upon them. According to Suddi, parents and relatives can also make alterations through mutual consultations without incurring a sin (Ibn Jarir).

    372. Daraqutni has related through Anas b. Malik that the Companions of the Prophet (saws) used to begin their testament with the following:

    «هذا ما أوصى به فلان بن فلان أنه يشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له ، وأن محمداً عبده ورسوله ، وأن الساعة آتية لا رَيْبَ فيها ، وأن الله يبعث من في القبور . وأوصى مَن ترك بعده من أهله بتقوى الله حق تُقاته وأن يُصلحوا ذات بيْنهم ، ويطيعوا الله ورسوله إن كانوا مؤمنين ، وأوصاهم بما وصّى به إبراهيم بنيه ويعقوب : «يا بنيّ إن الله اصطفى لكم الدين فلا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون»

    "This is the testament of so and so, son of so and so. He bears witness that there is no deity save Allah, the One who has no partners; and he bears witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. The Hour will arrive, there is no doubt about it; and that Allah will resurrect those in the graves."
    (He would then admonish those he was leaving behind of his kin to):
    "Fear Allah in the manner in which it is befitting; to be good and fair with each other; and obey Allah and His Prophet if they are true in their claim to faith. (He would also admonish them in the words Ibrahim (asws) admonished his progeny when he said: ‘O my children, Allah has chosen this religion for you, so die not save on submission).'"
    (Then, after this preamble, would the Companion state his will - Qurtubi).

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ (183)

    2|183| Believers! Fasts have been prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those that were before you haply so you will learn self restraint.

    أَيَّامًا مَعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ فَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْكُمْ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ ۖ فَمَنْ تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَهُ ۚ وَأَنْ تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ ۖ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (184)

    2|184| Days numbered; yet, if one of you were to be sick or traveling, then, (let him) count (and fast equal number) on other days. As for those who can fast (but with great exertion), for them is feeding of a needy person as redemption. And whosoever does good of his own accord, that is better for him.373 Therefore, that you should fast is better for you, if you but knew.374

    373. "And whosoever does good of his own accord, that is better for him:" That is, if anyone of you gave twice the amount prescribed, or both fasted as well as fed the needy, then surely that is good for him Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Ta'us etc. (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    374. Mu`adh ibn Jabal reports: When the Prophet arrived in Madinah, he used to fast on the days of `Ashura in addition to three days each month. Then Allah revealed: 'Believers! Fasting has been prescribed for you ..' until 'As for those who can fast (but with great exertion), for them is feeding of a needy person as (a means of) redemption...' Therefore, whoever wished to fast, fasted, while he who did not, fed the poor instead. (And there was no blame on him). This remained the practice until Allah revealed: 'Therefore, let him who is present in this month, fast the month.' This made it obligatory on every healthy person in the town to fast, leaving out only the very old who could yet feed the poor instead" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَنْ شَهِدَ مِنْكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ وَمَنْ كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۗ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ (185)

    2|185| Ramadan is the month wherein the Qur'an was sent down,375 a guidance for the people and as clear proofs of the Guidance, and a Criterion. Therefore, let him who is present in this month,376 fast the month. But if anyone of you be sick or traveling, (let him) count (and fast equal number) on other days. Allah desires ease for you and does not desire hardship for you.377 (This) so that you may complete the prescribed period and proclaim Allah's greatness378 for having guided you and so that you may be thankful.

    375. Ibn `Abbas is reported to have said that the Qur'an was sent down as one whole from the Zubur (Al Lawh al Mahfuz) to the Al Bayt al Ma`mur (also known as Bayt al `Izzah) at the firmament nearest to the earth, in Ramadan, on the night of Qadr. Then from there it was revealed in twenty three years to our Prophet in quantities that the varying situations in his call required (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    376. Following these words some of the Companions of the Prophet (saws) used to discourage a person from leaving the town once Ramadan moon had been sighted. `A'isha (ra) for instance inquired a visiting woman about her brother. She said he was preparing to travel. She told her to tell him not to go, and added: "If I were to be on the way (in a journey), and the month of Ramadan arrived, I would halt my journey there" (Ibn Jarir).

    377. Accordingly, the Prophet instructed Mu`adh ibn Jabal and Abu Musa Al Ash `ari while sending them to Yemen as his deputies:

    يَسِّرَا وَلَا تُعَسِّرَا وَبَشِّرَا وَلَا تُنَفِّرَا وَتَطَاوَعَا وَلَا تَخْتَلِفَا

    "Make it easy and not difficult. Give them glad tidings, do not repulse them. And co operate, do not differ" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    378. "And proclaim Allah's greatness:" According to Ibn `Abbas, Zayd b. Aslam and Sufyan, the allusion is to the takbirat that one is required to say upon sighting the moon of Shawwal until the Imam enters the mosque for the sermon on the day of `Eid (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ (186)

    2|186| And when My slaves inquire you concerning Me, (let them know): surely I am close.379 I answer the call of the caller when he calls to Me.380 Therefore, let them respond to Me, and have trust in Me, haply so they may be led aright.

    379. There are two opinions about the cause of revelation of this verse. One version says that it was revealed when some people asked the Prophet about Allah, whether He was close so they could whisper their supplications, or far, that they might cry out loud to Him. Another version is that some people asked the Prophet about the hour that was best for supplications. In either case, it was answered that Allah is close and does not fail to respond to the call of the suppliant (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Abu Musa Al Ash`ari says,

    كُنّا مَعَ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي سَفَرٍ. فَجَعَلَ النّاسُ يَجْهَرُونَ بِالتّكْبِيرِ. فَقالَ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "أَيّهَا النّاسُ ارْبَعُوا عَلَىَ أَنْفُسِكُمْ. إِنّكُمْ لَيْسَ تَدْعُونَ أَصَمّ وَلاَ غَائِباً. إِنّكُمْ تَدْعُونَ سَمِيعاً قَرِيباً، وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ" وَقَالَ فِيهِ: "وَالّذِي تَدْعُونَهُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَىَ أَحَدِكُمْ مِنْ عُنُقِ رَاحِلتِهِ"

    "Once we were on a journey with the Prophet (saws). We did not descend a hill, ascend another, or march into a valley but raised our voices in unison chanting Allah's greatness. The Prophet came up from the rear and said: 'People. Show mercy to yourselves. The One you are calling is neither deaf nor away. You are calling the Hearer, the Seer.' He also added, 'The One you are calling is nearer to you than the neck of the beasts (you are riding)'" - Ibn Kathir.
    (The above hadith is in Sahih of Muslim: Au.).
    Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir state some rules that should be borne in mind while making supplications.
    The verse under discussion promises that Allah will answer the call of the suppliant. This can happen in a variety of ways, as stated in a hadith which says,

    « مَا عَلَى الأَرْضِ مُسْلِمٌ يَدْعُو اللَّهَ بِدَعْوَةٍ إِلاَّ آتَاهُ اللَّهُ إِيَّاهَا أَوْ صَرَفَ عَنْهُ مِنَ السُّوءِ مِثْلَهَا مَا لَمْ يَدْعُ بِمَأْثَمٍ أَوْ قَطِيعَةِ رَحِمٍ ». فَقَالَ رَجُلٌ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ إِذًا نُكْثِرَ. قَالَ « اللَّهُ أَكْثَرُ » (قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ غَرِيبٌ)

    "No Muslim makes a supplication in which he does not ask for a sinful thing, or severance of blood relationship (qati`at al rahm) but Allah grants him one of the three things: either He grants him what he has asked for in this world, or, reserves it for him for the Hereafter, or wards off an evil of equal magnitude." Someone said: "Then we shall increase (in our supplications)." The Prophet said: "Allah will increase (in His bestowals)."
    However, there are conditions that must be observed.
    Supplication Rules
    1. The suppliant should ask with full confidence. He should realize that the One he is asking has power over everything, and so can have no difficulty in granting him any request.
    2. The suppliant should not be hasty, to say, "I supplicated and supplicated, but nothing happened." When he says that, his supplication is rejected.
    3. Another obstacle to the acceptance of supplications is partaking of the prohibited. A hadith says,

    ثُمَّ ذَكَرَ الرَّجُلَ يُطِيلُ السَّفَرَ أَشْعَثَ أَغْبَرَ يَمُدُّ يَدَيْهِ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ يَا رَبِّ يَا رَبِّ وَمَطْعَمُهُ حَرَامٌ وَمَشْرَبُهُ حَرَامٌ وَمَلْبَسُهُ حَرَامٌ وَغُذِىَ بِالْحَرَامِ فَأَنَّى يُسْتَجَابُ لِذَلِكَ ». (صحيح مسلم)

    "A man in a long journey, in tattered clothes, covered in dust, raises his hands to the heavens and cries out: 'O Lord! O Lord!' But his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful and his clothes are unlawful. So how can he be answered?!"
    4. The suppliant should make supplication with full attention of heart and mind. Allah (swt) does not answer prayers coming from an inattentive heart.
    5. He should make his pleading with utmost humility and self abasement.
    6. There are moments when prayers stand greater chance of being answered. Such as: at dawn, at the time the fast is broken, the interval between the Call and start of the Prayers, (adhan wa iqamah), the time between afternoon and evening prayers on Wednesdays, at times of difficulties, during journeys, when one is ill, when it is raining and when the troops line up in the battle field against the enemy (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    7. Finally, there are some whose supplication is not rejected. The Prophet said in a hadith:

    « ثَلاَثَةٌ لاَ تُرَدُّ دَعْوَتُهُمُ الصَّائِمُ حَتَّى يُفْطِرَ وَالإِمَامُ الْعَادِلُ وَدَعْوَةُ الْمَظْلُومِ يَرْفَعُهَا اللَّهُ فَوْقَ الْغَمَامِ وَيَفْتَحُ لَهَا أَبْوَابَ السَّمَاءِ وَيَقُولُ الرَّبُّ وَعِزَّتِى لأَنْصُرَنَّكَ وَلَوْ بَعْدَ حِينٍ ». قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ

    "There are three whose supplication is not rejected: 1) A just ruler. 2) A fasting man until he breaks his fast, and 3) The call of the oppressed whose call is raised up to the heavens (and Allah says), 'By My Greatness. I shall help you, even if it be after a while.'"
    (The above report is in Sahih Ibn Hibban: Au.).
    Qurtubi adds that the supplication should not be chanted out (as, for instance, one does with the verses of the Qur'an).
    Imam Razi points out that the purpose of supplications is not to inform Allah (of one's conditions). It is to demonstrate servitude, humility, and one's total attachment to and dependence on Allah.
    Qurtubi also reports,

    قيل لإبراهيم بن أدْهم : ما بالنا ندعو فلا يُستجاب لنا؟ قال : لأنكم عرفتم الله فلم تطيعوه ، وعرفتم الرسول فلم تتّبعوا سُنّته ، وعرفتم القرآن فلم تعملوا به ، وأكلتم نِعم الله فلم تؤدّوا شكرها ، وعرفتم الجنة فلم تطلبوها ، وعرفتم النار فلم تهربوا منها ، وعرفتم الشيطان فلم تحاربوه ووافقتموه ، وعرفتم الموت فلم تستعدّوا له ، ودفنتم الأموات فلم تعتبروا ، وتركتم عيوبكم واشتغلتم بعيوب الناس

    Ibrahim b. Ad ham was asked as to 'why is it that we supplicate but are not answered?' He replied, "Because:
    You have known Allah but did not obey Him.
    You have known the Prophet but did not follow his Sunnah.
    You understood the Qur'an but did not live by it.
    You devoured the blessings of God but did not offer thanks.
    You have known Paradise but did not seek it.
    You have known the Fire, but did not try to avoid it.
    You have known Satan but did not declare war against him, rather, you befriended him.
    You have known death but did not prepare for it.
    You buried the dead but did not draw lessons from it.
    And, you forgot your own defects and busied yourselves with the defects of the others."

    380. That is, when I respond to your calls, while the fact is that I do not need you, you should also respond to My call, noting that you need Me (Razi).

    أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَىٰ نِسَائِكُمْ ۚ هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَهُنَّ ۗ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ أَنَّكُمْ كُنْتُمْ تَخْتَانُونَ أَنْفُسَكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَعَفَا عَنْكُمْ ۖ فَالْآنَ بَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَابْتَغُوا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ ۚ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الْأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ ۖ ثُمَّ أَتِمُّوا الصِّيَامَ إِلَى اللَّيْلِ ۚ وَلَا تُبَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَأَنْتُمْ عَاكِفُونَ فِي الْمَسَاجِدِ ۗ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلَا تَقْرَبُوهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ آيَاتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ (187)

    2|187| It has been made lawful unto you to go into your women in the nights of Ramadan: they are your mantle and you their mantle.381 Allah was aware that you were betraying yourselves but He relented towards you and pardoned you.382 So you may go into them now, and seek what Allah has ordained for you.383 And eat and drink until the white streak of dawn becomes distinguishable from the black streak (of night);384 then observe the fasts until nightfall; but do not approach them while you are in devotional retreat in the mosques.385 These are the bounds set by Allah, so keep well within them. Thus does Allah make clear His commandments for the people in order that they may refrain.

    381. One interpretation is that because of the intimate relationship and closeness that the husband and wife enjoy with each other, they become like garments unto each other: two personalities wrapped in one mantle. (They also cover each other's defects and that which happens between them when in privacy: Au.). Another interpretation attributed to Rabi`, Mujahid, Qatadah, Suddi, and Ibn Zayd is that libas has been used in the sense of sakan (rest and comfort) i.e., each is a source of rest and comfort for the other as the usage in the verse 47 of al Furqan which says:

    وَجَعَلْنَا اللَّيْلَ لِبَاسًا [النبأ/10]

    "It is He who made the night for you a source of comfort (libasa)" (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).

    382. This verse was revealed to grant relaxation in the rule which initially required that the Muslims abstain from food, drink, and sex during the nights of Ramadan. They were free to eat, drink and have sex after the sunset but only until they went to bed. Once they had slept everything became prohibited until the next sunset. It so happened that Qays b. Sarmah came home one evening from a day's hard work in the fields. He enquired if there was anything to eat. His wife said no, but promised to get something from the neighbors. However, by the time she could return, he had fallen asleep. He continued his fast into the next day but collapsed by the mid day. This was reported to the Prophet. The second incident causing the revelation of this verse involves `Umar (ra). It is said that one evening he invited his wife to the bed. She told him she had already had a nap, (and so she was in the next day's fast). `Umar thought she was seeking an excuse and despite the protest had sex with her. Later, however, he realized the mistake and reported to the Prophet (saws). The Prophet told him that he did not expect this from a man like him. Nevertheless, Allah Most High in His mercy revealed this verse which brought great relief and joy to the Muslims (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    383. "And seek what Allah has ordained for you:" that is, children. This is the opinion of Abu Hurayrah, Ibn `Abbas, Anas b. Malik, Qadi Shurayh, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id b. Jubayr, `Ata', Zayd b. Aslam, Hakam b. `Utbah, Muqatil b. Hayyan, Hasan al Basri, Qatadah, Dahhak and others (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    384. `Adiy b. Abi Hatim (who embraced Islam after the fall of Makkah) said: "When this verse was revealed I took two strings, one black and another white, and placed them under my pillow. I pulled them out and looked at them if I could distinguish one from the other when I could I suspended eating and drinking. Next day I mentioned this to the Prophet. He said:

    إنّ وِسَادَكَ إذاً لَطَوِيلٌ عَرِيضٌ إنّمَا هُوَ اللّيْلُ وَالنّهَارُ

    'You seem to have a pretty large pillow. It is the whiteness of the dawn and darkness of the night that has been meant.'" (Ibn Kathir)
    As for the statement: 'You seem to have a pretty large pillow', perhaps what the Prophet meant is that you seem to have a pillow that is large enough to accommodate the horizon (Au.).
    Mawdudi adds: "In fixing the time of obligatory rites, Islam has been mindful that these timings should be so clear and simple that people, at all stages of development, should be able to follow them. That is why Islam bases its timings on conspicuous natural phenomenon and not on the clock."
    Suhur
    Regarding the pre dawn meal (suhur), the Prophet has encouraged that we do not miss it. He said in a hadith of Bukhari:

    « تَسَحَّرُوا فَإِنَّ فِى السَّحُورِ بَرَكَةً »

    "Do not forget the suhur. There is barakah in it" (Ibn Kathir).
    As for the time limits for suhur, there seems to be sufficient flexibility, so that one can gulp down a hurried meal or a quick drink close to the dawn. Hudhayfah (ra) has been recorded by Ahmad, Nasa'i, and Ibn Majah as saying:

    عَنْ حُذَيْفَةَ قَالَ تَسَحَّرْتُ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- هُوَ النَّهَارُ إِلاَّ أَنَّ الشَّمْسَ لَمْ تَطْلُعْ.

    "We took the pre dawn repast with the Prophet until it was almost the day break save that the sun had not risen."
    (The authenticity note on the above report could not be located: Au.).
    However, cautions Ibn Kathir, this should be understood as expressing the proximity to the day and not meaning the day break itself. This in view of the hadith of Bukhari and Muslim which records Zayd Ibn Thabit as saying:

    عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ عَنْ زَيْدِ بْنِ ثَابِتٍ قَالَ تَسَحَّرْنَا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- ثُمَّ قُمْنَا إِلَى الصَّلاَةِ. قُلْتُ كَمْ بَيْنَهُمَا قَالَ قَدْرُ قِرَاءَةِ خَمْسِينَ آيَةً.

    "We ate our pre dawn meal with the Prophet (saws) and then stood up for Prayers." At that Anas asked Zayd: "What was the time gap between the Call to Prayer and the Prayers?" He said: "About (the time required to recite) 50 verses."
    Nonetheless, Ibn Kathir also reports the opinion of many who were not very rigid about the exact limits of the suhur period. Among them were many Companions of the Prophet such as Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Ali, Ibn Mas`ud, Hudhayfah, Abu Hurayrah, Ibn `Abbas, and Zayd ibn Thabit. He also reports (as also does Ibn Jarir) Ibn `Abbas as saying: "There are two kinds of dawn: the one that appears in the horizon. This one does not make anything lawful or unlawful. It is the other one that appears on the mountain peaks that makes (eating) and drinking unlawful. Ibn Jarir also records several incidents from the earlier days to demonstrate that the suhur time was not followed very rigidly. Here are some:

    سحرت في شهر رمضان، ثم خرجت فأتيت ابن مسعود، فقال: اشربْ. فقلت: إنّي قد تسحَّرت! فقال: اشرب! فشربنا، ثم خرجنا والناس في الصلاة

    "Bara' said, "I finished my pre dawn repast and then went to see Ibn Mas`ud. He said: 'Here, drink some.' I said: 'I am finished with my suhur.' He said: 'Drink some.' So I drank. Then we went out together to the mosque and the people were in (fajr) Prayer."
    (The authenticity of the above report could not be checked: Au.).

    عن حبان، قال: تسحرنا مع عليّ، ثم خرجنا وقد أقيمت الصلاة، فصلينا

    Hibban says, "We ate with `Ali and when we came out we found the people in (fajr) Prayers."
    (The above report is trustworthy: Au.).

    عن عامر بن مطر، قال: أتيت عبد الله بن مسعود في داره، فأخرجَ فضلا من سَحُوره، فأكلنا معه، ثم أقيمت الصلاة فخرجنا فصلينا

    `Amir b. Matar says, "We went to see Ibn Mas`ud. He presented the left over of the suhur meal and we ate with him. Then the Prayers began, we went out and joined the congregation."
    "This, however," cautions Mufti Shafi`, “should not allow one to grant himself undue leniency in view of the warning contained in the words: ‘These are bounds set by Allah'”

    385. "It was the practice of the Prophet (saws) to spend several days and nights during Ramadan and occasionally at other times also in the mosque, devoting himself to prayer and meditation to the exclusion of all worldly activities, and since he advised his followers as well to do this from time to time, seclusion in a mosque for the sake of meditation, called i`tikaf, has become a recognized though optional mode of devotion among Muslims, especially during the last ten days of Ramadan" (Asad).

    وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُمْ بَيْنَكُمْ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتُدْلُوا بِهَا إِلَى الْحُكَّامِ لِتَأْكُلُوا فَرِيقًا مِنْ أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ بِالْإِثْمِ وَأَنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (188)

    2|188| And do not usurp one another's property by unjust means (nor) present (your cases about) them to the authorities, in order that you may sinfully devour a part of people's property, while you are aware.386

    386. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Hasan, Qatadah, Suddi and others say that this was revealed concerning the man who knows in his heart that some money is due on him for another man, but the other man lacks evidence. (Instead of confessing), he argues before the judges in order that he may unjustly usurp it, making use of the weakness of the case. The Prophet (saws) made the unlawfulness of such acts more explicit through a hadith (of Muslim: Au.) reported by Umm Salamah (ra) which says:

    "إِنّكُمْ تَخْتَصِمُونَ إلَيّ، وَلَعَلّ بَعْضَكُمْ أَنْ يَكُونَ أَلْحَنَ بِحُجّتِهِ مِنْ بَعْضٍ، فَأَقْضِي لَهُ عَلَىَ نَحْوٍ مِمّا أَسْمَعُ مِنْهُ، فَمَنْ قَطَعْتُ لَهُ مِنْ حَقّ أَخِيهِ شَيْئاً، فَلاَ يَأْخُذْهُ، فَإِنّمَا أَقْطَعُ لَهُ بِهِ قِطْعَةً مِنَ النّار."

    "You bring your cases to me. Now, it may happen that one of you is smarter in presenting his arguments than the other, and depending on what I hear, I may judge in his favor. But if I allot him what is rightfully his brother's, let him not accept it, for I would have given him a piece of fire" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir). According to other reports, the Prophet said this when two people came to him quarrelling over some money, and that when he admonished them thus, they were in tears (Au.).
    Another possible meaning is, "do not gift properties to the authorities in order to bribe them" (Qurtubi).
    Adds Yusuf Ali: "Besides the three primal physical needs of man, which are apt to make him greedy, there is a fourth greed in society, the greed of wealth and property. The purpose of fasts is not completed until this fourth greed is also restrained."

    يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْأَهِلَّةِ ۖ قُلْ هِيَ مَوَاقِيتُ لِلنَّاسِ وَالْحَجِّ ۗ وَلَيْسَ الْبِرُّ بِأَنْ تَأْتُوا الْبُيُوتَ مِنْ ظُهُورِهَا وَلَٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنِ اتَّقَىٰ ۗ وَأْتُوا الْبُيُوتَ مِنْ أَبْوَابِهَا ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ (189)

    2|189| They ask you concerning the new moons. Tell them, they are for the people (a means of) computing time387 and (determining dates of) Pilgrimage.388 There is no piety in that you should enter houses (during Hajj) from the rear.389 Rather, piety is (in him) who fears Allah. Therefore, come to the houses by their doors,390 and fear Allah haply you may prosper.391

    387. Ibn `Abbas reports that some people asked the Prophet about the new moons, as to why it appears thin in the beginning and then grows bigger as the days pass by. Allah revealed this verse (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    It must be noticed that the question was about a natural phenomenon and the answer expected was an explanation of the phenomenon perhaps in astronomical terms. But Allah (swt) turned their attention from a knowledge that would have been useless to them, to what was of use to them. The answer to this particular phenomenon would have required an exposition that would have taxed the minds of the people during times when scientific truths about celestial objects was of a very primitive order. If given a scientific answer they would not have appreciated it. Even if they had, by any stretch of their imagination, it would have been of no practical use to them. So their attention was turned from what was futile to what was useful. Accordingly, the Prophet said in a hadith declared Sahih by Hakim with Dhahabi making no remarks:

    عن ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما : أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم قال : إن الله قد جعل الأهلة مواقيت فإذا رأيتموه فصوموا و إذا رأيتموه فافطروا فإن غم عليكم فاقدروا له و اعلموا أن الأشهر لا تزيد على ثلاثين

    "Allah (swt) has created the moons to be a means of computing the time (and date). Therefore, start fasting with its appearance and break the fasts (after a month) with its appearance. But if you are in doubt (because of clouds) then complete your 30 days" (Au.).
    Asad writes: "The reference, at this stage, to lunar months arises from the fact that the observance of several of the religious obligations instituted by Islam like the fast of Ramadan, or the pilgrimage to Mecca (which is dealt with in verses 196 203) is based on the lunar calendar, in which the months rotate through the seasons of the solar year. This fixation on the lunar calendar results in the continuous variation of the seasonal circumstances in which those religious observances are performed (e.g. the length of the fasting period between dawn and sunset, heat or cold at the time of the fast or the pilgrimage), and thus in a corresponding, periodical increase or decrease of the hardship involved."

    388. Hajj was specifically mentioned because the Arabs used to alter the calendar at will, which, apart from other evils, affected the dates of this important pillar of Islam (Qurtubi).

    389. It is said that in pre Islamic times when the people of Yethrib returned from a journey, or when they had put on the pilgrim's garb (ihram) for Hajj or `Umrah, they would enter their houses from the rear. They followed the practice, shared by many other tribes on other occasions too, as well as during the period of Hajj. On such occasions they either went into the house through a hole, or climbed over a wall from the rear. The Quraysh and some other leading tribes did not follow this practice though. They considered themselves exempt because they were upholders of the religion. Allah revealed this verse to abrogate the baseless practice.
    It is also reported that during the Hudaybiyyah treaty the Prophet came out of (according to a version in Tabari, went in) an orchard followed by an Ansari called Qutba b. `Amir. People complained to the Prophet about Qutba's action, who was then in ihram (and not supposed to use the front door). The Prophet asked Qutba why he had done so. "Because you did so," he replied. The Prophet told him that for him it was permissible because he was "Ahmas," (someone staunchly committed to the defense of his religion). The man said: "Your religion is my religion," and Allah revealed this verse (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    390. "I.e. true piety does not consist in approaching questions of faith through a ‘back door’, as it were that is, through mere observance of the forms and periods set for the performance of various religious duties (cf. 2: 177). However important these forms and time limits may be in themselves, they do not fulfill their real purpose unless every act is approached through its spiritual ‘front door’, that is, through God consciousness. Since, metonymically, the word bab (‘door’) signifies ‘a means of access to, or of, a thing’ (see Lane I, 272), the metaphor of ‘entering a house through its door’ is often used in classical Arabic to denote a proper approach to a problem (Razi)" Asad.
    Yusuf Ali has also something of this nature to note. He says: "This is a Muslim proverb now, and much might be written about its manifold meanings. (For instance) ‘If you want to achieve an object honorably, go about it openly and not by the back door.'"
    Qurtubi presents a very useful point here: What Allah (swt) has not instituted as a means of gaining His Pleasure, does not become so by anyone's will or desire. He explains with Ibn Khuwayzmandad's illustration: ‘If one runs into confusion about what falls in the domain of the approved and what does not, (of those deeds that do not have explicit sanction by the Shari`ah), one has to look for the particular deed's equivalent among what have already been made obligatory or confirmed by the Sunnah. If one can find its equivalent there, then the deed in question can also be treated so (i.e. a means of gaining virtue). This is deduced from an incident of the Prophet's time. It is said that he passed by a man who was standing in the sun. He enquired about him and was told that the man was Abu Isra'il who had vowed that he would remain standing, not sit down, would not go into a shelter, would not talk to anyone and would fast on the day. The Prophet said: "Tell him he can talk, go into the shelter, sit down, but complete his fast." Thus the Prophet confirmed the man's many articles of vow what was otherwise a virtue (i.e., the fast) and invalidated the rest, which did not match with any of the virtuous acts prescribed by Islam.'

    391. "Two entirely distinct, rather mutually destructive, emotions are covered by the same word ‘fear.' One is baser, selfish, and servile, always arising out of thoughts of danger to self. Fear, in this sense, is negatived in the Qur'an of all righteous and Godly persons, in verses like the following reiterated again and again: ‘No fear shall come upon them, nor will they grieve.'
    "But there exists also a noble, higher, and disinterested variety of fear, which has its roots not in cowardice or timidity at all but in man's feeling of awe at what his Lord is, and in his contemplating his own utter insignificance and unworthiness. Fear, in this sense, attracts; it does not repel. It has the effect of drawing the man closer and closer to his Lord; and he entirely surrenders himself to His will. It is this `fear of Allah' that is inculcated in a thousand and one ways in the Qur'an, and is described as the master key to all success: ‘Fear Allah that ye may thrive’" (Majid).

    وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ (190)

    2|190| And fight392 in the Way of Allah393 with those who fight you, but do not transgress. Surely Allah does not approve of the transgressors.394

    392. Abu al `Aliyyah says this is the first of the set of verses that were revealed concerning fighting in the way of Allah. Following this revelation the Prophet (saws) fought those who fought him and let alone those who let him alone until Allah (swt) revealed the first few verses of surah al Tawbah (and other verses of this chapter) Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir.

    393. "(That is), fight in the cause of His true Religion; in the cause of truth, justice, equity and humanity... to combat the dark forces of polytheism, superstition, perfidy, irreligion, and religious persecution; and not for the greed of booty or for self aggrandizement, nor yet to extend the `sphere of influence' of this country or that. Is the extermination of moral evil, in any sense, an unworthy object of war?" (Majid)
    Sabuni quotes in his Rawa'e` al Bayan a poetical stanza that `Abdullah ibn Mubarak wrote to the well known ascetic Fudayl bin `Iyad:

    يا عابدَ الحرمين لَوْ أبْصَرْتَنا ... لَعَلِمْتَ أنكَ في العبادِة تلعبُ
    من كان يخضب خدَّه بدموعِه ... فَنُحورنا بدمائنا تَتَخضَّب
    أو كان يُتْعِبُ خَيْلَه في باطلٍ ... فخُيولنا يومَ الصبِيحة تَتْعبُ
    ريحُ العبيرِ لكم ونحنُ عبيرُنا ... وَهجُ السنابِك والغبارُ الأطيبُ
    ولَقَد أتانا من مَقَالِ نبينا ... قولٌ صَحيحٌ صادق لا يُكْذبُ
    لا يستوي وَغُبَارَ خيلِ الله في ... أنف امرئ ودخانَ نارٍ تَلْهَبُ
    هذا كتاب الله يَنْطق بيننا ... ليس الشهيدُ بمَيِّت لا يُكْذبُ

    O thou given to devotions in the Holy Harams, had you seen us,
    You'd realize that your devotions are mere amusement.
    He who dyes his cheeks with tears that roll down,
    (Does he know that) with blood we dye our necks?
    He who tires his horse in playful repast,
    (May know that) our horses exhaust themselves on the day of spoils.
    For you be the best of perfumes, but for us,
    Sweeter the (aroma of) dust rising from the earth.
    To us has come the saying of our Prophet
    A word unerring, true, that cannot be denied
    Not equal are the dust of the horses in Allah’s path
    In the nostrils of a man, and the smoke of the Fire, flaming
    Here is Allah’s Book speaking between us
    The martyrs is not dead, a fact undeniable.
    When Fudayl read these lines he broke into tears and said: ‘By Allah he admonished us!'

    394. According to Ibn `Abbas, Hasan al Basri, `Umar b. `Abdul `Aziz, Muqatil b. Hayyan and others, the transgression mentioned here would include all those acts during a war that Islam has forbidden, such as mutilating the dead, killing women or the old, etc. This can be corroborated with a hadith which, as recorded by Muslim reports Buraydah (ra) as saying that the Prophet used to say:

    اغْزُوا بِاسْمِ اللَّهِ فِى سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ قَاتِلُوا مَنْ كَفَرَ بِاللَّهِ اغْزُوا وَ لاَ تَغُلُّوا وَلاَ تَغْدِرُوا وَلاَ تَمْثُلُوا وَلاَ تَقْتُلُوا وَلِيدً

    "Fight in the way of Allah. Fight him who denies Allah. Fight, but do not steal from the booty, do not deceive (therein), do not mutilate the dead, and do not kill a child" (Ibn Kathir); unless of course, if women, children, old men and priests take up arms against the Muslims (Qurtubi).
    (Note that the Crusading Church had sent an army of children to retrieve Jerusalem. Starting from Europe, many children died on their way, some were kidnapped, and some sold out as slaves by the Christian as they passed through their countries, and the child Crusaders failed to reach Muslim lands: Au.).

    It seems this could also apply to the conquerors. Ibn Kathir reports a hadith preserved by Imam Ahmad which says that the Prophet (saws) said:

    "إن قومًا كانوا أهلَ ضَعْف ومسكنة، قاتلهم أهلُ تجبر وعداء، فأظهر الله أهل الضعف عليهم، فعمدوا إلى عَدُوهم فاستعملوهم وسلطوهم فأسخطوا الله عليهم إلى يوم يلقونه"

    "There (was the case of) a weak and poor people opposed by their strong and tyrannical enemy. Allah (swt) gave victory to the weak. But they in turn began to persecute and exploit the former oppressors. This angered Allah (and He will remain angry with them) until the Day of they meet Him."
    (Haythami gives his approval to the above report: Au.)

    وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ ثَقِفْتُمُوهُمْ وَأَخْرِجُوهُمْ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَخْرَجُوكُمْ ۚ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَشَدُّ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ ۚ وَلَا تُقَاتِلُوهُمْ عِنْدَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ حَتَّىٰ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِيهِ ۖ فَإِنْ قَاتَلُوكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوهُمْ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ جَزَاءُ الْكَافِرِينَ (191)

    2|191| Slay them wherever you get hold of them, and expel them from where they expelled you, for persecution is worse than slaughter.395 But do not fight by the Holy Mosque unless they attack you there.396 Nonetheless, if they attack you (there), put them to the sword. Such is the recompense of the unbelievers.

    فَإِنِ انْتَهَوْا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (192)

    2|192| Yet, if they desist, surely Allah is Forgiving, Kind.

    وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّىٰ لَا تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ وَيَكُونَ الدِّينُ لِلَّهِ ۖ فَإِنِ انْتَهَوْا فَلَا عُدْوَانَ إِلَّا عَلَى الظَّالِمِينَ (193)

    2|193| And fight them until there remains no unbelief and the Religion becomes Allah's.397 But if they desist, then there is no hostility save against the oppressors.398

    395. According to Qatadah, Rabi`, Dahhak, Mujahid, and Ibn Zayd, by the fitnah of the original the allusion is to idolatry (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). However, another interpretation is that the allusion is to persecution (Qurtubi).
    There is no doubt that "idolatry" is worse than death. In fact, even persecution is worse than death. Says Zamakhshari: "Torture and persecution that a man is subjected to is worse than slaughter. Someone asked the wise men: ‘What is worse than death?' They answered: ‘The state in which you wish for death.'"

    396. Speaking of the sanctity of the Grand Mosque and its precincts, the Prophet (saws) said on the day he entered Makkah triumphant:

    إِنَّ هَذَا الْبَلَدَ حَرَّمَهُ اللَّهُ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ ، فَهْوَ حَرَامٌ بِحُرْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ ، وَإِنَّهُ لَمْ يَحِلَّ الْقِتَالُ فِيهِ لأَحَدٍ قَبْلِى ، وَلَمْ يَحِلَّ لِى إِلاَّ سَاعَةً مِنْ نَهَارٍ، فَهْوَ حَرَامٌ بِحُرْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ ، لاَ يُعْضَدُ شَوْكُهُ ، وَلاَ يُنَفَّرُ صَيْدُهُ ، وَلاَ يَلْتَقِطُ لُقَطَتَهُ إِلاَّ مَنْ عَرَّفَهَا ، وَلاَ يُخْتَلَى خَلاَهُ (صحيح البخارى)

    "Verily Allah sanctified this city the day He created the heavens and the earth. So it will remain by the order of Allah until the Day of Judgment. Its sanctity has not been lifted save for an hour of the day - which is this hour - for me alone. And, for me too, it was made lawful for a short while. So, it will remain sanctified by the order of Allah. Its thorn is not to be uprooted, nor its wild animals disturbed. Its lost items are not to be picked up except by him who knows it, nor should its grass be uprooted.”
    Another report of Bukhari adds,

    فَإِنْ أَحَدٌ تَرَخَّصَ لِقِتَالِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ - صلى الله عليه وسلم - فِيهَا فَقُولُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَذِنَ لِرَسُولِهِ ، وَلَمْ يَأْذَنْ لَكُمْ

    “Therefore, if anyone seeks to justify bloodshed in it in view of it being made lawful to the Messenger of Allah, tell him that Allah had made it lawful to His Messenger but has not done so for you” (Ibn Kathir from Sharh al Sunnah).

    الشَّهْرُ الْحَرَامُ بِالشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ وَالْحُرُمَاتُ قِصَاصٌ ۚ فَمَنِ اعْتَدَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ فَاعْتَدُوا عَلَيْهِ بِمِثْلِ مَا اعْتَدَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ (194)

    2|194| Sacred month for sacred month: holy things (demand) reciprocation. Therefore, whosoever commits aggression against you, you also retaliate against him in the same measure in which he commits aggression against you.399 Fear Allah, and know that Allah is with the righteous.400

    397. "(That is), God can be worshipped without fear of persecution, and none is compelled to bow down in awe before another human being" (Asad).
    The Prophet said:

    قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أُقَاتِلَ النَّاسَ حَتَّى يَقُولُوا لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ فَإِذَا قَالُوا لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ عَصَمُوا مِنِّي دِمَاءَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُمْ إِلَّا بِحَقِّهَا وَحِسَابُهُمْ عَلَى اللَّهِ

    "I have been ordered to fight the people until they say, ‘There is no god save Allah.' Once they have said that, their lives and property become inviolable, save for what is Allah's right. (As for their deeds), it is for Allah to judge them" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    (However, the opinion of some scholars is that by the word "people" in the above hadith the Prophet meant only the people of the Arabian Peninsula, who had no choice but to either accept Islam or leave the land, since two religions would not be tolerated in this land. As for the non Muslim peoples of the rest of the world, there is a difference of opinion among the scholars over whether Islam should be on the offensive or defensive with them. We shall deal with this subject in detail in surah al Anfal, in sha Allah. (See Foreword to the surah). In the present context, perhaps a few sentences from Ibn Qayyim's Zad al Ma`ad, summing up the issue, would be of interest.
    “... (Fighting) was initially ‘forbidden’, then ‘permissible’, then an ‘obligation’ in the face of attack, then an ‘(unqualified) obligation’ according to one opinion, but ‘optional’ (fard kifayah) according to the majority opinion against the idolaters of all times”: Au.).
    Nafi` reports that when Ibn Zubayr claimed Khilafah, two people came to Ibn `Umar and said: "People are lost. You are the son of `Umar (ibn al Khattab) and a Companion of the Prophet. What prevents you from joining forces with (this or that party)?" He replied: "Because Allah has declared my brother's blood unlawful to me." They said: "Did Allah not say, ‘And fight them until there is no fitnah?'" He replied: "Yes. We fought until there was no fitnah and the Religion became Allah's. Whereas you wish to fight until fitnah reappears and the Religion becomes other than Allah's."
    Nafi` also reports another occasion (during the same turbulent period) when a man came to Ibn `Umar and said: "O Abu `Abdul Rahman! What makes you go for Hajj one year and stay back the next, but stay away from jihad in the Way of Allah, while you know its virtues?" He said: "Islam is built on five (pillars): faith in Allah and His Messenger, Prayers, zakah, Fast, and Hajj.' They said: "O Abu `Abdul Rahman! Haven't you heard Allah (swt) say: ‘And if two group of Muslims quarrel among themselves, make peace between them. But if one of them rebels against the other (after peace has been made) then, fight against that (group) which rebels, until it falls back to accepting Allah's rule.' And, at another place, ‘And fight them until there remains no fitnah.'" Ibn `Umar replied, "That we did alongside the Prophet when the Muslims were few and a man was persecuted for his religion. The pagans would either kill him or subject him to prolonged torture. That was the state until Islam grew strong." They asked him, "What do you have to say about `Uthman and `Ali?" He said: "As for `Uthman, Allah has declared that He was pleased with him, but it seems you are not pleased with him. As for `Ali, well, he was the Prophet's cousin and his son in law." Then he pointed with his finger and said: "That's his house that you see over there" (Ibn Kathir).
    What he meant by pointing to the house, perhaps, is that ‘you may look at the simplicity of the house in which he lived, and compare it with your own dwellings, to know what he fought for and what you are fighting for' (Au.).

    398. The zalimin of the original either means those who remain on unbelief, or those who begin hostilities against the Muslims (Qurtubi).

    399. Qurtubi - who was the chief justice of Spain - takes up a practical problem at this point. It is that of wrongs done to people who do not have the lawful means to correct those wrongs. What should they do? He says in effect:
    Righting the Wrongs
    According to some scholars it is permissible for a man who has been wronged to retaliate and take his right secretly (if necessary), in the same measure as he was wronged. This is the opinion of Imam Shafe`i and others. According to one version it is also the opinion of Imam Malik. However, some Maliki scholars say that it is only for the judicial authorities to decide and not for the people themselves, especially in money matters, following a hadith (of Daraqutni) which says:

    « أَدِّ الأَمَانَةَ إِلَى مَنِ ائْتَمَنَكَ وَلاَ تَخُنْ مَنْ خَانَكَ » (رواه الطبراني في الكبير والصغير ورجال الكبير ثقات.)

    ‘Deliver back the trust to those who trust you. Do not deceive him who deceives you.'
    (The above hadith is also in Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi and Hakim: Au.)
    This is also the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah who rests his opinion on this hadith as well as verse 58 of surah al Nisa' which says:

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تُؤَدُّوا الْأَمَانَاتِ إِلَى أَهْلِهَا [النساء/58]

    ‘Allah orders you to deliver trusts back to those who trust you.' This is also the opinion of `Ata' al Khurasani. Qudamah b. al Haytham said, ‘I asked `Ata' b. Muyessarah al Khurasani: "A man owes me something. He denies it and I do not have any proof. Shall I take from his money what I think is my due?" `Ata replied: "Look. If he were to rape your maid, are you going to retaliate in the same manner?"
    [The above is the opinion of Ibn `Abbas also, as stated by Ibn Kathir, who is reported to have said that after Allah (swt) gave power to Islam, Muslims should take all their disputes to judicial authorities only Au.].
    However, (continues Qurtubi), the preferable opinion, which is that of Imam Shafe`i, Malik, Ibn al Mundhir and (Abu Bakr) Ibn al `Arabi, is that it is permissible to retaliate and take one's right. Such a measure will not be called deception for one is taking what is his right. The Prophet (saws) has said:

    « انْصُرْ أَخَاكَ ظَالِمًا أَوْ مَظْلُومًا » - صحيح البخارى

    ‘Help your brother: be he the oppressor or the oppressed.' To take one's right from an oppressor is to help him. Further, when Hind b. `Utbah the wife of Abu Sufyan complained to the Prophet that Abu Sufyan was a miser who did not give her enough for her and her children's maintenance, so, could she steal some money from him? He replied: ‘(You might) take from him (without his knowledge) what will suffice you and your children, in a goodly manner.' Finally, the verse in discussion is itself sufficient to substantiate this point."
    The scholars also differ over whether, if one is wronged in financial affairs, can he take his right in kind. One opinion, and which seems to be the heavier, is that he may. Another opinion is that he may not since the categories are different. Some say, however, that he may calculate the equivalent in the other category and take his right. This (according to me) is the right opinion based on arguments presented above.
    (Qurtubi's quote ends here).

    400. Ibn `Abbas gives the following as the reason for the revelation of this verse. In the sixth year after hijrah the Prophet set out with the intention of `Umrah. He was stopped a few miles off Makkah at a place called Hudaybiyyah and refused entry. Subsequently, the Quraysh made peace with him on condition that he return to Madinah that year and come back the next, yet for three days alone. Accordingly, the Prophet set out for Makkah the next year in the month of Dhu al Qa`idah, which was one of the four consecrated months during which war was prohibited. But the Muslims feared that they might be taken by surprise and attacked, and they would not be able to retaliate because of the holy month. Allah relieved them of their anxiety by revealing this verse: "The sacred month is for the sacred month: holy things (demand) reciprocation" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Jarir reports Ibn Zayd as saying that this verse was abrogated by the verse that was revealed later which said (9: 36),

    وَقَاتِلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ كَافَّةً كَمَا يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ كَافَّةً [التوبة/36]

    "And fight the polytheists all of them as they all fight you" and (surah al Tawbah, verse 123):

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا قَاتِلُوا الَّذِينَ يَلُونَكُمْ مِنَ الْكُفَّارِ [التوبة/123]

    "Fight those of the unbelievers who are nearest to you (i.e. the Arabs)." When the Prophet had done that, Allah revealed further (surah al Tawbah, verse 29):

    قَاتِلُوا الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلَا بِالْيَوْمِ الْآَخِرِ وَلَا يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَلَا يَدِينُونَ دِينَ الْحَقِّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حَتَّى يُعْطُوا الْجِزْيَةَ عَنْ يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ [التوبة/29]

    "Fight those of the people of the Book who do not believe in Allah, nor the Last Day, nor do they treat as unlawful what Allah and His Messenger has made unlawful, nor they accept the true religion: of those who were given the Book, until the pay Jizyah at hand and they are subdued," meaning the Romans. Accordingly, the Prophet turned his attention to them (and went as far as Tabuk to confront them: Au.).

    وَأَنْفِقُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلَا تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ ۛ وَأَحْسِنُوا ۛ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ (195)

    2|195| Expend in the Way of Allah and do not contribute to your destruction at your own hands.401 And do things well. Verily Allah loves those who do things well.

    401. According to Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah, Ikrimah, Suddi, Hasan al Basri, `Ata', and Dahhak, the "self destruction" of the verse refers to holding back contributions to war (Ibn Jarir).
    Others believe, however, that it refers to abandoning jihad. Abu `Imran says that when Muslim armies were facing the Romans under the walls of Constantinople, a solitary Muhajir rushed into the enemy forces from one side and emerged from the other side. The people cried out: "He contributed to his destruction with his own hands." Abu Ayyub al Ansari (ra) was also present. He said: "People, you give the verse a wrong interpretation. We know very well whom the verse applies to. It was revealed concerning us. We helped the Prophet and fought along with him until Islam spread far and wide. When that happened we Ansar got together and said to ourselves: ‘Indeed Allah (swt) favored us by making us the Companions of His Messenger. We helped him until Islam spread far and wide. We gave him preference over our families, children, and property. Now that peace has prevailed let us return to our wives and children and attend to our worldly affairs. In response Allah (swt) revealed: ‘Expend in the Way of Allah and do not contribute to your destruction with your own hands.'"
    Destruction, therefore, refers here to engaging oneself in worldly affairs to the neglect of jihad (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Qurtubi also discusses the case of a man who rushes into the enemy lines, or exposes himself to great dangers, whether he would be considered as one who contributed to his own destruction. He proves with the help of various incidents from the life of the Companions and their Followers that the man's actions will not be considered so, even if he loses his life, so long as he is sincere in seeking Allah's Pleasure, and sure that if captured alive and tortured, he will not cause any harm to the Muslims or to his own religion.

    وَأَتِمُّوا الْحَجَّ وَالْعُمْرَةَ لِلَّهِ ۚ فَإِنْ أُحْصِرْتُمْ فَمَا اسْتَيْسَرَ مِنَ الْهَدْيِ ۖ وَلَا تَحْلِقُوا رُءُوسَكُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَبْلُغَ الْهَدْيُ مَحِلَّهُ ۚ فَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْكُمْ مَرِيضًا أَوْ بِهِ أَذًى مِنْ رَأْسِهِ فَفِدْيَةٌ مِنْ صِيَامٍ أَوْ صَدَقَةٍ أَوْ نُسُكٍ ۚ فَإِذَا أَمِنْتُمْ فَمَنْ تَمَتَّعَ بِالْعُمْرَةِ إِلَى الْحَجِّ فَمَا اسْتَيْسَرَ مِنَ الْهَدْيِ ۚ فَمَنْ لَمْ يَجِدْ فَصِيَامُ ثَلَاثَةِ أَيَّامٍ فِي الْحَجِّ وَسَبْعَةٍ إِذَا رَجَعْتُمْ ۗ تِلْكَ عَشَرَةٌ كَامِلَةٌ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ أَهْلُهُ حَاضِرِي الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ (196)

    2|196| And complete the Hajj and ‘Umrah for Allah (alone).402 But if you are prevented, then whatever is possible with ease of the sacrifice (animal). But do not shave your heads until the sacrifice reaches its (appointed) place.403 However, if any of you is sick or has ailment in his scalp, then in redemption either fasts, or alms giving, or sacrifice (of an animal).404 But when you are in peace then whoever enjoys the ‘Umrah with the Hajj, (for him) is (prescribed) a sacrifice (that he can offer) with ease. But if he who does not find (the means) then (for him) are (prescribed) three days of fasting during the Hajj and seven when you return.405 Those are ten complete (days).406 This (combining of Hajj and ‘Umrah) is for him whose family does not reside by the Holy Mosque. Fear Allah, and know that Allah is terrible in retribution.

    402. Hajj: Hajj is Pilgrimage to Makkah. As a precondition the pilgrim puts on ihram (or pilgrim's garb normally two seamless cloaks) before entering into Makkan territory, known as mawaqit. It starts with a few hours stay in the plains of `Arafah (about 15 km off Makkah) on the ninth day of the 12th Islamic month (Dhu al Hijjah). He engages himself there in prayers and supplications. By sunset he proceeds to the Muzdalifah plain and spends the night there, either resting or engaged in prayers and supplications. The next day, (the tenth of Dhu al Hijjah) he proceeds to the valley of Mina where he stones Shaytan on three consecutive days (at spots Ibrahim stoned him for trying to tempt him away from the sacrifice of his son). Subsequent to the stoning on the first day in Mina, the pilgrim sacrifices an animal, shaves his head (or cuts the hair short; which women also do, shaving being disallowed for them), removes his ihram to wear ordinary clothes. One of these days he goes up to Makkah (about 12 15 km) to circumambulate the Ka`ba and walk seven times between Safa and Marwah (hillocks between which Hajar ran, centuries back, in search of water). He returns to Mina to spend two more days stoning the Shaytan everyday. With that the Hajj terminates, having lasted four days. Hajj is obligatory once in a life time on every Muslim who can afford the journey. Originally instituted by Ibrahim (saws) it was also practiced by the pre Islamic Arabs but in a corrupt form.
    `Umrah: `Umrah is lesser Pilgrimage which consists in donning the ihram, circumambulating the House seven times, walking between the hills Safa and Marwah and shaving off the hair (or cutting it short). With that `Umrah is complete. It can be performed at any time during the year, and, according to most jurists, is not obligatory though highly recommended: Au.).
    Majid quotes Hitti: "The socializing influence of such a gathering of the brotherhood of believers from the four quarters of the earth is hard to over estimate. It afforded opportunity for Negroes, Berbers, Chinese, Persians, Syrians, Turks, Arabs rich and poor, high and low to fraternize and meet together on the common ground of faith."
    The verse itself has been interpreted in various ways. (i) Complete the Hajj and `Umrah rites once you have begun them. (ii) Intend nothing else save Hajj or `Umrah while starting for them and (iii) Perform Hajj and `Umrah for Allah alone (Ibn Jarir).
    The third interpretation is in view of the practice of the pre Islamic Arabs who used to perform Hajj to display pride, assemble on the Hajj sites to boast of the glory of their forefathers, or engage in commerce, never intending to please Allah (Qurtubi).

    403. Hajj is a very complicated rite. Ibn Jarir devotes over 25 pages presenting the views of various scholars in explanation of this verse alone. The preferred opinion regarding this portion of the verse is as follows: If one is prevented from proceeding to Hajj or `Umrah by reasons beyond his control such as sickness, war etc., he might send forward a sacrifice to the Haram, shave his head (or cut short the hair) and remove his pilgrim's clothes (ihram) as soon as the sacrifice has reached the Haram and has been slaughtered. It is incumbent upon him, however, to perform another Hajj or `Umrah later, when circumstances permit.

    404. As it happened with Ka`b b. `Ujrah whose head was full of lice. He complained to the Prophet (saws) and he told him to shave and in redemption either fast three days, feed six poor persons, or sacrifice a goat (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    405. This injunction applies to those who combine Hajj and `Umrah (either in the form of Tamattu` or Qiran: see Fiqh books for further details). A sacrifice (in gratitude) is incumbent upon them. But if they be poor and cannot afford a sacrifice, they may fast for three days during Hajj, and seven after returning home (Ibn Kathir).

    406. Commenting on the word "kamilan" of the original (rendered as: "in all"), Imam Razi first quotes the objection of the antagonists who say that we know that three plus seven is ten. Why did Allah (swt) add "kamilan?" Is not the word redundant? Then he answers that one possible explanation, apart from others, is that the word "kamilan" qualifies the Hajj in which sacrifice was offered. The Hajj became "kamil" (complete in all sense) rather than "ghayr kamil," (incomplete, or lacking in perfection, when sacrifice was not offered).

    الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَعْلُومَاتٌ ۚ فَمَنْ فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ فَلَا رَفَثَ وَلَا فُسُوقَ وَلَا جِدَالَ فِي الْحَجِّ ۗ وَمَا تَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يَعْلَمْهُ اللَّهُ ۗ وَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَىٰ ۚ وَاتَّقُونِ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ (197)

    2|197| Hajj months are well-known.407 Therefore, whoever undertakes to perform Hajj in those months, (may be aware that) there be no sensual indulgence,408 no ungodliness,409 nor wrangling during Hajj. And whatever you do of the good, Allah knows about it. And take provision with you.410 However, the best provision is right conduct. Therefore, fear Me (alone), O those who have wisdom.411

    407. According to most of the early scholars, these are the tenth and eleventh months of the Islamic calendar plus the first ten days of the twelfth month. That is, the whole of Shawwal, Dhu al Qa`dah, and ten days of Dhu al Hijjah. Although a minority opinion is that the whole of the month of Dhu al Hijjah is included (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    But this only means that these are the months specified for Hajj, and not that `Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage) is not lawful in these days (Qurtubi).

    408. Some translators have rendered rafatha of the original as "obscenity." But all classical commentators are agreed that the word stands for sexual intercourse and the amorous talks and acts that precede it. However, since there is no equivalent for it in the English language, the translation can reflect only one aspect of the meaning.

    409. In the Islamic terminology "Fusuq" refers to every act that disregards the Shari`ah.

    410. It is reported of some tribes of Yemen that prior to Islam they used to set out for Hajj without carrying their provision with them claiming that they depended on God. But they used to beg in Makkah. Allah revealed this verse to disapprove the practice (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, and others, from Bukhari and other Hadith books).
    Qurtubi reports (Abu Bakr) Ibn al `Arabi as saying: "Allah has ordered the man of means to equip himself with provisions. As for him who has no means but specializes in a trade, he might earn on the way, or even beg (if, against his hopes, he cannot find work). The verse is not addressing him. Rather, it is addressing those who had the means and yet used to abandon them saying, ‘We trust in God.' (They did not realize that) trust (tawakkul) has certain rules. Whoever observes them might journey without provision. The verse does not prevent him."
    Qurtubi also reports that a man told Ibn Hanbal that he was planning to journey to Makkah without provision, placing his trust in Allah. Ibn Hanbal told him: "Fine. But travel alone and not in a caravan." The man said: "No. Rather with them." Ibn Hanbal replied: "Then your tawakkul is on the pots of the fellow travelers."
    Another possible meaning of the word "tazzawwadu" can be: "Furnish yourself (with taqwa)" in view of the sentence following it: "And the best provision is taqwa" (Razi, Zamakhshari).

    411. That is, the demand of wisdom is that one fear Allah (swt). If one does not, then he lacks wisdom (Zamakhshari).

    لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَنْ تَبْتَغُوا فَضْلًا مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ ۚ فَإِذَا أَفَضْتُمْ مِنْ عَرَفَاتٍ فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ عِنْدَ الْمَشْعَرِ الْحَرَامِ ۖ وَاذْكُرُوهُ كَمَا هَدَاكُمْ وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ مِنْ قَبْلِهِ لَمِنَ الضَّالِّينَ (198)

    2|198| And there is no sin upon you that you should seek your Lord's bounty.412 Then, when you have surged downward from ‘Arafat remember Allah much at Mash’ar al Haram (i.e. Muzdalifah). Remember Him in the manner He has directed you. Indeed you were earlier among those unguided.

    412. Ibn Kathir records several reports to the effect that in pre Islamic times fairs used to be held during the Hajj period at `Ukaz, Majnah and Dhu al Majaz. However, (Ibn Jarir), some tribes stayed away from any buying and selling during Hajj. With the advent of Islam some Muslims also began to wonder whether it would be right to indulge in trade during these days. So Allah revealed this verse making it lawful for a man to trade while performing Hajj.
    And the connection with the previous verse seems that if you cannot start with provisions, you can earn it during Hajj (Au.).

    ثُمَّ أَفِيضُوا مِنْ حَيْثُ أَفَاضَ النَّاسُ وَاسْتَغْفِرُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (199)

    2|199| Then surge onwards from where the people surge onward413 and implore Allah's forgiveness.414 Verily Allah is Oft forgiving, Very Kind.

    413. This had to be said because while the rest of the Arabs started from `Arafat, the Quraysh refused to go farther than Muzdalifah on grounds that they were exempt because of their special position (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Asad remarks: "`Surge onward'...: thus the pilgrims are called upon to submerge their individualities, at the supreme moment of the pilgrimage, in the consciousness of belonging to a community of people who are all equal before Allah, with no barrier of race or class or social status separating one person from another."

    414. Ibn Kathir records a hadith from Ibn Marduwayh which says that "Sayyid al Istighfar" is the following:

    اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لَا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ. قَالَ وَمَنْ قَالَهَا مِنْ النَّهَارِ مُوقِنًا بِهَا فَمَاتَ مِنْ يَوْمِهِ قَبْلَ أَنْ يُمْسِيَ فَهُوَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ وَمَنْ قَالَهَا مِنْ اللَّيْلِ وَهُوَ مُوقِنٌ بِهَا فَمَاتَ قَبْلَ أَنْ يُصْبِحَ فَهُوَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ

    "O Allah. You are my Lord. There is no deity besides You. You have created me, and I am your slave. I am on the covenant and the promise (of obedience) that I gave You, to the extent of my power. I seek your refuge from the evil that I have committed. I acknowledge Your favors to me and I admit my sins. Therefore, forgive me; for no one can forgive sins save You."
    "Whoever said this," the Prophet added, "on a night and died in that night will enter Paradise. Whoever said this on a day and died that day will enter Paradise."

    فَإِذَا قَضَيْتُمْ مَنَاسِكَكُمْ فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَذِكْرِكُمْ آبَاءَكُمْ أَوْ أَشَدَّ ذِكْرًا ۗ فَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَقُولُ رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَمَا لَهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلَاقٍ (200)

    2|200| And then, when you have completed your rites, remember Allah as you were wont to remember your forefathers, or with a stronger remembrance.415 And among the people are some who pray: ‘O Allah give us our due in this world itself.' There is no share for such in the Hereafter.416

    415. This was said because it was the Arab practice to talk of their ancestors and boast of their deeds during gatherings at Mina instead of remembering Allah (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    416. In the days of Ignorance when the Arabs camped at Mina they prayed for such things as rains, increase in cattle, victory over their enemies, etc., completely neglecting the Hereafter (Ibn Jarir).

    وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَقُولُ رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ (201)

    2|201| While there are some among them who pray: ‘O Allah, give us of good things in this world and good things in the Hereafter, and save us from punishment of the Fire.'417

    417. Ibn Kathir says that according to a hadith of Ahmad and Muslim, Qatadah asked Anas about the prayer words the Prophet used most. He replied that he used to say:

    رَبَّنَا آَتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآَخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ [البقرة/201]

    According to a report in Bukhari and Muslim

    ,
    عَنْ أَنَسٍ أَنّ رَسُولَ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَادَ رَجُلاً مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ قَدْ خَفَتَ فَصَارَ مِثْلَ الْفَرْخِ. فَقَالَ لَهُ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "هَلْ كُنْتَ تَدْعُو بِشَيْءٍ أَوْ تَسْأَلُهُ إِيّاهُ؟" قَالَ: نَعَمْ. كُنْتُ أَقُولُ: اللّهُمّ مَا كُنْتَ مُعَاقِبِي بِهِ فِي الاَخِرَةِ، فَعَجّلْهُ لِي فِي الدّنْيَا. فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "سُبْحَانَ اللّهِ لاَ تُطِيقُهُ أَوْ لاَ تَسْتَطِيعُهُ أَفَلاَ قُلْتَ: اللّهُمّ آتِنَا فِي الدّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الاَخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النّارِ"، قَالَ: فَدَعَا اللّهَ لَهُ. فَشَفَاهُ.

    Someone was seriously ill during the time of the Prophet (saws). When he visited him he found that he had shrunk to the size of a chicken. The Prophet asked him if he had supplicated to Allah about something. The man replied: "Yes. I prayed to Allah that if You are going to punish me in the Hereafter, do it now, in this world." The Prophet told him: "Glory to Allah. You cannot bear it. Why did not you say: ‘O Allah give us of the good things in this world (as well as) good things in the Hereafter, and save us from the Fire.' The man supplicated to Allah (swt) in these words and he was cured (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Alusi).
    According to Qurtubi, one meaning of the words: "good things of the Hereafter" is that the man may not enter the Fire in the Hereafter and then wait for an intercessor to rescue him.
    Further, it is reported that these are the prayer words that `Umar (ra) used to say during his tawaf (circumambulation) of the Ka`bah.
    Abdul Majid Daryabadi presents a Christian scholar's puzzle: “This is one of the most puzzling paradoxes in Islam. As to recognizing, using and enjoying this world, Islam is a most practical religion, but on its doctrine of salvation, it is absolutely and entirely other worldly” (Mcdonald, Religious Life and Attitudes in Islam, p.43).

     

    أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا كَسَبُوا ۚ وَاللَّهُ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ (202)

    2|202| For these are their rewards in accordance with what they earn.418 And Allah is swift in reckoning.419

    418. That is to say that mere supplications and good intentions are not enough. The next step after the expression of good wishes is to come up with deeds that match with those wishes (Au.).

    419. `Ali (ra) was asked: "How will Allah (swt) take account of the deeds of the people in a single day?" He replied: "Even as He feeds them all everyday" (Qurtubi).

    وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ فِي أَيَّامٍ مَعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ فَمَنْ تَعَجَّلَ فِي يَوْمَيْنِ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ وَمَنْ تَأَخَّرَ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ ۚ لِمَنِ اتَّقَىٰ ۗ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ (203)

    2|203| And, remember Allah much through the appointed days.420 Whoever hastens in two days has no sin upon him, nor upon him who delays so long as he strives to gain piety. Fear Allah therefore, and be of knowledge that to Him you will return.421

    420. It is the tenth, eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth of Dhu al Hijjah, that are meant by these words. They are also known as "Ayyam al Tashriq" (Ibn `Umar, Ibn Zubayr, Abu Musa, `Ata', Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id ibn Jubayr, Abu Malik, Ibrahim Nakha`i, Yahya ibn Kathir, Hasan, Qatadah, Suddi, Zuhri, Rabi` b. Anas, Dahhak, Muqatil b. Hayyan, `Ata' al Khurasani, Malik b. Anas and others Ibn Kathir). Ibn Kathir also reports a hadith on the authority of Ibn Jarir that the Prophet said:

    عن عائشة، قالت: نهى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عن صوم أيام التشريق وقال: وهي أيام أكل وشرب وذكر الله".‏

    "The Prophet prohibited fasts on these days. He said, “These are days of feast and Allah's remembrance."
    These are also the days of "takbirat," chanted in slightly raised voice after the five daily Prayers, starting from the "fajr" of the tenth until the "`Asr" of thirteenth Dhu al Hijjah (Au.).

    421. That is, Muslims should remind themselves that similar to their gathering at the Hajj sites and dispersion to all parts of the world, there will be another and final gathering before Allah on the Day of Resurrection, and dispersion and entry into Heaven or Hell (Ibn Kathir).
    Taqwa
    Sayyid Qutb writes: "Thus we see here as we have seen in earlier sections that teachings concerned with faith and concepts ... teachings concerned with matters of worship, teachings concerned with fighting, ... are all assembled in a single strand and all of them are followed by warnings of punishment, that remind of Allah (swt), and the need for the humans to fear and obey Him.
    "The discussion over the entry into the houses from the rear is followed by corrections in the concept of piety, concluding with the exhortation that piety does not consist in physical gestures. It is in being God conscious: ‘There is no piety in that you should enter houses from the rear. Rather, piety is (in him) who fears Allah. Therefore, come to the houses by their doors, and fear Allah haply so you will prosper.'
    "While discussing warfare, the Qur'an instructs the people not to transgress, and links it with the love of Allah and His dislike of it by saying: ‘Allah does not approve of the transgressors.'
    "While discussing fighting in the consecrated months, it terminates by saying: ‘And fear Allah and know that Allah is with the righteous.'
    "The discussion on charity also terminates with: ‘And do things well. Verily Allah loves those who do things well.'
    "Discussing Hajj rites Allah says: ‘And fear Allah, and know that Allah is terrible in retribution.'
    "While declaring sensual indulgence, wickedness and wrangling as against the spirit of Hajj, the Qur'an terminates the passage by saying: ‘And take provision with you. However, the best of provision is godfearing. Therefore, fear Me (alone), O those who have wisdom.'
    "Even after exhorting the people to remember Allah (swt) much, the words that follow are: ‘And fear Allah, and be of knowledge that to Him you will return.'
    "Thus we see that all these numerous commands of varying nature are strung together in a single strand ... the strand which grows out of the very nature of this religion, which does not allow for differentiation between methods of worship and those of the improvement of the heart and soul, or for the divorce of its administrative affairs from the affairs of the next world. In fact, this religion will not be established without the merger of the affairs of this world with the affairs of the next, those of the heart and soul with those of the social and international relationships, and not until this religion is allowed to organize the whole life so that it may shape it into one single and complete entity ... give it a single direction and a single system. This single system is specifically its very own, which is built on the application of the Law of Allah to all affairs of life."

    وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يُعْجِبُكَ قَوْلُهُ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَيُشْهِدُ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا فِي قَلْبِهِ وَهُوَ أَلَدُّ الْخِصَامِ (204)

    2|204| And among the people is one whose talks in worldly affairs will amaze you. He will put forward Allah as a witness with regard to what is in his heart – although he is a most stubborn disputant.422

    422. These verses describe the hypocrite, although it is the behavior of Akhnas b. Shurayq that occasioned their revelation. He came to the Prophet swearing his faith in Islam but when he passed by a place he burned the crop and destroyed the cattle.
    At this point Ibn Kathir relates several ahadith which say that the most abominable in the sight of Allah (swt) is the "alad al khisam": one who is stubborn in arguing against the Truth.

    وَإِذَا تَوَلَّىٰ سَعَىٰ فِي الْأَرْضِ لِيُفْسِدَ فِيهَا وَيُهْلِكَ الْحَرْثَ وَالنَّسْلَ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْفَسَادَ (205)

    2|205| When he turns his back, he strives to spread corruption in the land and destroy crops and cattle,423 even though Allah does not approve of mischief.

    423. When people lead a corrupt life, Allah (swt) holds back rains as punishment which causes death of animals and vegetation (Mujahid Ibn Kathir).
    Qurtubi adds: The verse implies that the multiplication and growth of animals and vegetation should be pursued in Islam.

    وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُ اتَّقِ اللَّهَ أَخَذَتْهُ الْعِزَّةُ بِالْإِثْمِ ۚ فَحَسْبُهُ جَهَنَّمُ ۚ وَلَبِئْسَ الْمِهَادُ (206)

    2|206| When he is told: ‘Fear Allah,' he is led by arrogance to more sins.424 Hell shall suffice for him an evil place to rest indeed .

    424. Qurtubi records `Abdullah (Ibn Mas`ud Alusi) as having said: "It is enough of a sin for a man that his brother should tell him, ‘Fear Allah,' and he should reply, ‘Look after yourself. Does a man of your sort lecture me?!'"
    Qurtubi also reports the incident of a Jew who had to see Harun al Rashid for an affair. He waited for one whole year to reach him but failed. One day the man stood at the palace gate and when Harun came out he rushed forward and placing himself in front of him said: "Fear God, O Commander of the Faithful." Harun alighted and went into prostration. When he lifted his head he ordered that the man's need be attended to. Someone questioned him if he had to come down from his beast in reaction to a Jew reproaching him. He said, “No. Not necessarily. But I was reminded of the verse: ‘And when he is told: “Fear Allah,” He is led by arrogance to more sins. (Beware) his abode is Hell fire an evil place to lie.’"
    Thanwi adds: The verse pronounces the rule of ‘cessation of admonition when faced with the stubborn arrogance.'

    وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَشْرِي نَفْسَهُ ابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاتِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ رَءُوفٌ بِالْعِبَادِ (207)

    2|207| While among the people is one who will readily sell himself in search of Allah's Pleasure. Allah is full of kindness towards such of His slaves.425

    425. Although the application can be general, Suhayb Rumi (ra) was the cause of revelation of this verse. When he wanted to migrate to Madinah the Makkans blocked his way. He asked them whether they would let him go if he gave them his wealth. They agreed. He gave them all his wealth and walked away empty handed (Ibn Kathir). According to another report recorded by Ibn Jarir, in which Suhayb (ra) has not been mentioned by name, he gave away his house also. Qurtubi points out that Suhayb was then in his advanced age!
    Yusuf Ali adds: "This second type of man firm, sincere, devoted, willing to give his life for the faith that is in him was common in early Islam. Such men were its pillars. Through persecution, obloquy, torture, threat to their own lives or the lives of those dear to them, they stood by their leader and many of them gave their lives. That is what established Islam. We are asked in the next verse to follow this type and shun the other or evil type. If we do that, our Cause is safe."

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ (208)

    2|208| O you who have believed, enter into Islam whole heartedly and do not follow in the footsteps of Satan,426 indeed he is your avowed enemy.

    426. Those are addressed whose Islam is on their tongues. They are being advised that they enter into Islam wholeheartedly (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Another report suggests that this verse was revealed when new converts from Judaism requested the Prophet that they be allowed to follow the Tawrah (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and others).

    فَإِنْ زَلَلْتُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْكُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ فَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ (209)

    2|209| But if you backslide427 after the clear signs have come to you, then be aware that Allah is Powerful, Wise.428

    427. Yusuf Ali notes: "If you backslide after the conviction has been brought home to you, you may cause some inconvenience to the Cause, or to those who counted upon you, but do not be so arrogant as to suppose that you will defeat God's Power and Wisdom. The loss will be your own."

    428. That is, Allah (swt) is Powerful, so nothing can prevent Him from punishing you, but He is Wise, so He gives you time to repent.
    It is said that someone recited this verse ending with "Ghafurur Rahim," (instead of "`Azizun Hakim"). A Bedouin was passing by. He said if it is Allah's revelation it cannot remind of His kindness while disapproving of "backsliding" (Qurtubi, Alusi, Zamakhshari).
    Qurtubi adds: The verse implies that the responsibility of a knowledgeable man is far greater than that of the ignorant.

    هَلْ يَنْظُرُونَ إِلَّا أَنْ يَأْتِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ فِي ظُلَلٍ مِنَ الْغَمَامِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَقُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ ۚ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ تُرْجَعُ الْأُمُورُ (210)

    2|210| Are they but awaiting that Allah should come to them in canopies of clouds,429 with the angels, and the affair be settled?430 And to Allah the affairs are returned.431

    429. Ibn Jarir says that the verse has been interpreted in several ways. However, all of them confirm that Allah will arrive. Abu al `Aliyyah's explanation is that it is the angels that will arrive in the canopies of clouds, while Allah will arrive ‘on whatever' He will. Mujahid, Qatadah and `Ikrimah are also close to this opinion. Nevertheless, Ibn Jarir adds, Allah's coming has been interpreted in several ways: one, real movement, another, as the coming of His commandment, and a third, as the coming of His rewards and punishments.
    Ibn Jarir, however, is personally inclined to believe in the movement of Allah. He narrates a long hadith which reports Abu Hurayrah as saying: When the people will be exhausted by the ‘standing' in the Field of Judgment they will approach the Prophets, one after another, starting with Adam (asws) ending up with our Prophet (saws). He will accept to intercede and will prostrate himself under the `Arsh praying to Allah that He come to judge between the people. Allah will accept his intercession and with the splitting open of the firmament closest to the earth, then the next, then the next, until the seventh, the bearers of the `Arsh, angels of each firmament and, finally, Allah will Himself come down in canopies of clouds (abridged).
    Imam Razi is of the firm opinion that Allah neither comes nor goes nor does He move, being everywhere at any given moment time and space being His creations. The strange part of this opinion is that he says this is the confirmed opinion of the Salaf al Salih. He concludes, all the same, that no interpretation can be offered to the words: "Are they but awaiting that Allah should (Himself) come to them..."
    In the absence of a sahih hadith, there are differences in opinion over the explanation of these words. Qurtubi quotes various opinions but rejects the possibility of Allah's movement, as a characteristic of physical bodies. He reports Ibn `Abbas through Abu Saleh, that these words are of the unknowable class (mutashabihat), that ought to be left un-interpreted.
    Ibn Kathir re narrates the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (ra) from Ibn Jarir, but in a much shortened form and without passing, against his usual habit, his personal judgment with regards to its authenticity. He quotes a few more ahadith on the subject of Allah's coming but disqualifies them as untrustworthy. Nonetheless, he is inclined to believe in the "coming" of Allah.
    Shawkani drops off the hadith of Abu Hurayrah, recounts various possible meanings, as discussed by Ibn Jarir and Razi, and ends up re narrating a few of those reports that Ibn Kathir rejects as weak, including one of Ibn Mas`ud which attributes to the Prophet the words that Allah will descend down from the `Arsh on to the Kursiyy. This report however has been, according to Sayyid Ibrahim, evaluated as weak by Dhahabi and Albani.
    Rashid Rida, who quotes Imam Ghazali's opinion that the allusion is to the "removal of the veils," is himself, along with his mentor Sheikh Muhammad `Abduh, of the opinion that the words: "Are they but awaiting that Allah should (Himself) come to them in canopies of clouds.." are of the mutashabihat type that should be left to themselves.
    Alusi interprets the word "comes" as "zuhur" (appearance) but warns that the Salaf al Saleh firmly refused to discuss these matters.
    Sabuni concludes by quoting Ibn Taymiyyah: "The practice of the Salaf has all along been that they described Allah (swt) the way He described Himself, or as the Prophet (saws) described Him, without quantifying or qualifying. Allah is One the like Whom does not exist. Therefore, if it is asked, ‘How can Allah move?' the reply would be: ‘Just as His Being is unknowable, so are His Attributes.'
    Ibn Hibban, however, (d. 353 A.H.) has the following to say as Abu Hatim’s note to the hadith that speaks of Allah's coming down to the firmament closest to the earth during the last third part of the night:

    صفات الله جل وعلا لا تكيف ولا تقاس إلى صفات المخلوقين فكما أن الله جل وعلا متكلم من غير آلة بأسنان ولهوات ولسان وشفة كالمخلوقين جل ربنا وتعالى عن مثل هذا وأشباهه ولم يجز أن يقاس كلامه إلى كلامنا لأن كلام المخلوقين لا يوجد إلا بآلات والله جل وعلا يتكلم كما شاء بلا آلة كذلك ينزل بلا آلة ولا تحرك ولا انتقال من مكان إلى مكان (صحيح ابن حبان بتحقيق الأرناؤوط)

    "Allah's Attributes ought not to be qualified or quantified, nor should they be likened to those of His creations. For, as Allah speaks without the means of the teeth, the tongue or the lips, as His creations do, ... so also He comes down without any means, without moving and without shifting from place to place. (Sahih Ibn Hibban bi Tartib Ibn Balban, hadith 920, vol.3, p. 200).

    430. That is, are they waiting for the Day of Resurrection? (Ibn Kathir).
    The "Fi" preceding the "Zulalim min al ghamami" has been interpreted as "ma`a" i.e. "with." As in the phrase:

    أقبل الأمير في العسكر

    "Aqbala al Amir fi al `askar," where, what is meant is that the Amir came forward with his troops. There have been other interpretations, but Ibn `Abbas is reported to have said that the verse is of the kind whose interpretation should not be sought (Qurtubi).

    431. That is, when full justice will be done so that, as a hadith says, every oppressor will be made to compensate to the one he or she oppressed, to the extent that a hornless goat will receive retribution from a horned goat (that had hit her without cause) Ibn Jarir.
    Legal Points
    1. According to the Hanafiyy school, it is quite lawful that one perform `Umrah during the Hajj season and return home without performing Hajj. However, if he stays back within the Miqat then it is obligatory on him to also perform Hajj the same year (I`la' al Sunan).
    2. Explaining "Wuquf al `Arafah," Qurtubi has stated that it is allowable to stay in `Arafat on an animal's back. If one cannot afford that, he may stand on his feet, although he could also sit down, but at all events engaged in supplications and prayers. However, to be on the back of a beast is better. He reports Imam Malik as having said that he would prefer to be on the back of a beast in `Arafat rather than on his feet.
    3. According to the Hanafiyyah and Malikiyyah, the period within which the "`Eid al Ad ha" sacrifice should be made extends to the evening of the thirteenth of Dhu al Hijjah. But, according to the Hanabilah and Shafe`iyyah, the period extends only to the twelfth of Dhu al Hijjah (Al-Arba`ah).

    سَلْ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ كَمْ آتَيْنَاهُمْ مِنْ آيَةٍ بَيِّنَةٍ ۗ وَمَنْ يُبَدِّلْ نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ (211)

    2|211| Ask the Children of Israel how many a clear sign We gave them.432 And whosoever substitutes a favor of Allah433 after it was received (should know that) Allah is stern in punishment.

    432. For instance, they were given the Tawrah but they refused to accept its commandments. The sea was divided for them, but they began to worship the heifer. They were given Mann and Salwa but they insisted on the produce of the earth. Prophets were sent down among them but they murdered them (Ibn Jarir and Thanwi condensed).

    433. By the term "favor" it is the Religion of Allah (swt) sent through the Prophets that has been intended, while "substitution" refers to distortion, disbelief and rejection (Mujahid, Suddi, Rabi` Ibn Jarir).

    434. Who has made this life alluring to the unbelievers? One answer is: the Devil. Another possibility is that it is Allah (swt) since in the ultimate analysis it is He who creates thoughts, ideas and propensities (Razi).

    زُيِّنَ لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا وَيَسْخَرُونَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ۘ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا فَوْقَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَرْزُقُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ (212)

    2|212| The life of this world has been made alluring to the unbelievers,434 so they make fun of those that have believed. But those that have attained to piety will be (far) above them on the Day of Resurrection.435 Allah bestows upon whomsoever He will without measure.436

    435. Why did Allah say "those that attained to piety" and not simply "the believers" as one would expect in the light of the unbelievers making fun of the "believers," as stated in the earlier part of the verse? The answer is: it is to impress that Paradise will be inherited by those believers who attain to piety. However, the sinning Muslim cannot be ruled out altogether in view of the Pardon (that Allah will grant to whomsoever He will) Razi.

    436. "Allah bestows upon whomsoever He will without measure," i.e. Allah bestows His blessings of all kinds in great measure on whomsoever He will. Hence His slaves should not hesitate to expend of what He has bestowed on them as said the Prophet in a hadith:

    "ابن آدم أنفقْ أُنفقْ عليك"

    "Son of Adam! Spend, and it will be spent on you." He also said:

    "أنفقْ بلالاً ولا تخش من ذي العرش إقلالاً

    "Spend O Bilal. Do not fear a decrease from He who possesses the `Arsh."

    He also said in a sahih hadith,

    عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ مَا مِنْ يَوْمٍ يُصْبِحُ الْعِبَادُ فِيهِ إِلَّا مَلَكَانِ يَنْزِلَانِ فَيَقُولُ أَحَدُهُمَا اللَّهُمَّ أَعْطِ مُنْفِقًا خَلَفًا وَيَقُولُ الْآخَرُ اللَّهُمَّ أَعْطِ مُمْسِكًا تَلَفًا.‏
    No day dawns but hat two angels descend from the Heavens morning and say: "O Allah, bestow on him who spends that which will last; and bestow on him who holds back that which will fizzle out."
    In another sahih hadith he said:

    "يَقُولُ ابْنُ آدَمَ: مَالِي. مَالِي (قَالَ) وَهَلْ لَكَ، يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ مِنْ مَالِكَ إِلاّ مَا أَكَلْتَ فَأَفْنَيْتَ، أَوْ لَبِسْتَ فَأَبْلَيْتَ، أَوْ تَصَدّقْتَ فَأَمْضَيْتَ؟".
    "Son of Adam says: ‘My wealth, my wealth.' But is there any wealth for you save what you ate and finished off, what you wore and tore it out, what you spent and is gone? What remains will be for others when you are gone." In another hadith preserved by Ahmad he said:
    -الدنيا دار من لا دار له ولها يجمع من لا عقل له
    "This world is his home who has no home (in the Hereafter), and wealth for him who has no wealth (in the Hereafter). Only he amasses wealth for it who is short of intelligence" (Ibn Kathir).
    (This last hadith was declared weak by Haythami: Au.).

    كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنْذِرِينَ وَأَنْزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ ۚ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ فِيهِ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۖ فَهَدَى اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ (213)

    2|213| Mankind was one community.437 (But differences arose), so Allah sent Messengers giving glad tiding and warning;438 and sent with them the Book with the truth, in order that it may judge among the people in matters wherein they had differed. But none disagreed with it save those (very people) that had been given it, after they had received clear signs, out of contention with each other. Therefore, Allah guided by His will those who had believed to the right course in matters concerning the truth wherein they were contending.439 And Allah guides whomsoever He will to the straight path.

    437. Majid notes: ‘(In the beginning) mankind was one community:’ This implies that originally there was but one religion in the world the religion of Monotheism. Contrary to the conclusion arrived at by an older generation of scientists and pseudo scientists, recent discoveries both in Archaeology and Anthropology have proved that monotheism not polytheism, was the religion of the oldest races of mankind. `The evidence of Anthropology,' says a leading archaeologist of the day, Sir Charles Marston, ‘will be cited in these columns to prove that the original religion of the early races was actually Monotheism or something very like it' (The Bible is True, p.25). ‘The theory of the evolution of Religion is contradicted by the evidence of both Archaeology and Anthropology' (p. 29), ‘This is the very careful and deliberate conclusion of Dr. Langdon, Professor of Assyriology at Oxford, probably the greatest living authority on cuneiform literature ... As a result of his excavations at Kish, Dr. Langdon writes: ‘In my opinion, the history of the oldest religion of man is a rapid decline from monotheism to extreme polytheism and wide spread belief in evil spirits. It is in a very true sense the history of the fall of man’ (pp. 58, 61). ‘Thus is the evidence, from the most ancient libraries of cuneiform tablets, that Monotheism was the original religion. And there is confirmation of this great fact from other sources, especially from the Science of Anthropology. Along with this is the evidence of a universal belief in Future Life' (p. 265).
    According to a trustworthy report Ibn `Abbas says that there were twenty generations between Adam and Nuh: all of them following the true religion, until corruption began to appear and Allah (swt) began sending down His Prophets as warners and evangelists (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Jarir quotes a poetical piece from Nabigha to show that the term "ummah" (as used in the Qur'an here) is also used in the sense of "religion."

    438. Ibn Hibban has recorded a hadith which says that Abu Dharr (ra) asked the Prophet (saws):

    قلت: يا نبي الله كم عدد الأنبياء؟ قال: "مائة ألف وأربعة وعشرون ألفاً الرسل من ذلك ثلاث مائة وخمسة عشر جماً غفيراً" (مجمع الزوائد ومنبع الفوائد)

    "How many Prophets (anbiya') have there been?" He replied: "One hundred and twenty four thousand." He asked: "And how many Messengers (rusul)?" He said: "Three hundred and thirteen. And that is a lot" (Alusi).
    (Haythami declared this report weak: Au.).

    439. With reference to this verse: "Therefore, Allah guided by His Will those who had believed to the right course in (all those) matters concerning the truth in which they (who had disbelieved) were contending," Abu Hurayrah (ra) reports that the Prophet said:

    « نَحْنُ الآخِرُونَ السَّابِقُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ، بَيْدَ أَنَّهُمْ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِنْ قَبْلِنَا ، ثُمَّ هَذَا يَوْمُهُمُ الَّذِى فُرِضَ عَلَيْهِمْ فَاخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ ، فَهَدَانَا اللَّهُ ، فَالنَّاسُ لَنَا فِيهِ تَبَعٌ ، الْيَهُودُ غَدًا وَالنَّصَارَى بَعْدَ غَدٍ » - صحيح البخارى

    "We are the last (to appear) but shall be the first in the Hereafter. We will be the first of the people (to enter Paradise), although they were given the Book earlier than us. Allah (swt) guided us to this day (Friday) in which they differed among themselves. But Allah guided us. Therefore, the other people are our followers; tomorrow (Saturday) is for the Jews and the day after (Sunday) for the Christians" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Zayd said: Allah guided us to Islam. They (the Jews and Christians) disagreed over the Prayers, so that some pray facing the east, while others facing Jerusalem. Allah guided us to the right Qiblah. They disagreed over fasts so that some fast a part of the day, others a part of the night. Allah guided us to the right way. They disagreed over Friday so that the Jews chose Saturday for themselves and the Christians Sunday. Allah guided us to Friday. They disagreed about Ibrahim (saws), so that the Jews said he was a Jew and the Christians said he was a Christian. Allah exonerated him of all that and declared him a Hanif and a Muslim. He also exonerated him of what the polytheists had fabricated about him that he was an idol worshipper. They disagreed about `Isa so that the Jews alleged impropriety on the part of Maryam (asws) and the Christians made a god of Jesus. Allah guided us to the truth about him. This is the meaning of Allah saying: "Therefore, Allah guided by His Will those who had believed in the right course in (all those) matters concerning the truth in which they (who had disbelieved) were contending" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Alusi: the report is by Ibn Abi Hatim).
    The sum and substance of the above has been reported in ahadith also (Au.).
    Traditionists have recorded a hadith from `A'isha according to which the Prophet used to say the following prayer words during his night vigils (tahajjud):

    كَانَ إِذَا قَامَ مِنَ اللَّيْلِ افْتَتَحَ صَلاَتَهُ فَقَالَ « اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّ جِبْرِيلَ وَمِيكَائِيلَ وَإِسْرَافِيلَ فَاطِرَ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَعَالِمَ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ أَنْتَ تَحْكُمُ بَيْنَ عِبَادِكَ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ اهْدِنِى لِمَا اخْتُلِفَ فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِكَ إِنَّكَ تَهْدِى مَنْ تَشَاءُ إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ ». قَالَ هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ.

    "O Allah, the Lord of Jibril, Mika`il and Israfil, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Knower of the seen and the unseen. You who judges between the people in affairs in which they differ Guide me by Your leave in affairs in which they differ concerning the truth. Indeed You guide whomsoever to the Right Path."
    (The hadith is in Tirmidi, Abu Da’ud, and Ahmad which although declared weak by Tirmidhi was recorded by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih: Au.).
    Another supplication of the Prophet used to be in the following words:

    اللهم، أرنا الحق حَقّا وارزقنا اتباعه، وأرنا الباطل باطلا ووفّقنا لاجتنابه، ولا تَجْعَلْه ملتبسًا علينا فنضل، واجعلنا للمتقين إمامًا.

    "O Allah, show us the Truth as Truth, and help us follow it. Show us falsehood as falsehood, and help us avoid it. Do not let it remain a matter of doubt for us, for then we will be misguided. And make of us leaders of the righteous" (Ibn Kathir).
    (The authenticity of the above report could not be established: Au.).

    أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَنْ تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُمْ مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ ۖ مَسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّاءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ اللَّهِ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ (214)

    2|214| Or do you reckon that you will enter Paradise, while (trials) similar to those (that visited others) before you, have not yet come to you?440 Suffering and adversity touched them, and they were shaken441 until the Messengers and those who had believed in them cried out: ‘When (will come) Allah's help?'442 Lo! Allah's help is close.

    440. With reference to the words, "Do you think that you will enter Paradise..?" it is reported that this revelation came when, unable to bear the persecutions of the Quraysh, Khabbab b. al Art asked the Prophet to pray to Allah for help. The report is as follows:

    أَتَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَهُوَ مُتَوَسِّدٌ بُرْدَةً وَهُوَ فِي ظِلِّ الْكَعْبَةِ وَقَدْ لَقِينَا مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ شِدَّةً فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَلَا تَدْعُو اللَّهَ فَقَعَدَ وَهُوَ مُحْمَرٌّ وَجْهُهُ فَقَالَ لَقَدْ كَانَ مَنْ قَبْلَكُمْ لَيُمْشَطُ بِمِشَاطِ الْحَدِيدِ مَا دُونَ عِظَامِهِ مِنْ لَحْمٍ أَوْ عَصَبٍ مَا يَصْرِفُهُ ذَلِكَ عَنْ دِينِهِ وَيُوضَعُ الْمِنْشَارُ عَلَى مَفْرِقِ رَأْسِهِ فَيُشَقُّ بِاثْنَيْنِ مَا يَصْرِفُهُ ذَلِكَ عَنْ دِينِهِ وَلَيُتِمَّنَّ اللَّهُ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ حَتَّى يَسِيرَ الرَّاكِبُ مِنْ صَنْعَاءَ إِلَى حَضْرَمَوْتَ مَا يَخَافُ إِلَّا اللَّهَ.‏

    Khabbab said, I went up to the Prophet while he was resting on his (folded) cloak under the shade of the Ka`bah. We had encountered quite harsh treatment at the hands of the pagans. I said, “Will you not pray against the pagans?” His face turned red. He said, "Such people have passed before you who would have a saw run through the middle of the skull until it arrived between his legs, but that would not deter him from his religion. An iron comb would be used to comb through his flesh until it scratched the bones but it would not deter him from his faith." Then he added: "By God, Allah will complete this religion (and give it victory over others) until a rider will travel from San`a to Hadrmawt fearing none but Allah.” (According to other reports, nothing will worry him about his cattle save the wolf. But you are a people who are impatient)" - Ibn Kathir, Razi, Alusi.
    Majid remarks: "Entry into Heaven presupposes some measure of suffering maybe in certain cases, exceedingly slight either mental or physical in this world. The higher one's spiritual ambitions, the greater the trials and tribulations one is expected to undergo. And none could be greedier of spiritual advancement than the Muslims of the Prophet's time, his ‘companions.' Hence their readiness to undergo the hardest affliction in the service of God's religion."
    Tests and Trials
    Tirmidhi has recorded a hadith of Abu Sa`d who says he asked the Prophet:

    عن مُصْعَبِ بنِ سَعْدٍ عن أَبِيهِ قال قلت: يا رسولَ الله، أَيّ النّاسِ أَشَدّ بَلاَءً؟ قال: "الانْبِيَاءُ ثُمّ الامْثَلُ فالامْثَلُ: فَيُبْتَلَى الرّجُلُ عَلَى حَسَبِ دِيِنِه، فَإِنْ كَانَ في دِيِنهِ صُلْباً اشْتَدّ بَلاَؤُهُ، وَإِنْ كَانَ في دِيِنهِ رِقّةٌ ابْتُلِيَ عَلَى حسب دِيِنهِ، فمَا يَبْرَحُ الْبَلاَءُ بالْعَبْدِ حَتّى يَتْرُكَهُ يَمْشِي عَلَى الأَرْضِ مَا عَلَيْهِ خَطِيئَةٌ". (قال أبو عيسى: هذا حديثٌ حسنٌ صحيحٌ)

    "Messenger of Allah, which of the people is tried most." He said: "The Prophets, and then those closest to them and then those closest to them. A man is tried in proportion to the strength of his faith. If there is strength in his religion, tests are increased in severity. But if there is weakness in his religion, he is tested accordingly. And tests keep on descending on a man until he walks on the earth without a sin upon him" (Au.).

    441. "And they were shaken:" The Companions of the Prophet had to pass through tests that shook them to their core. One of the occasions was during the Battle of the Trench which the Qur'an has described in these words (33: 9 12):

    إِذْ جَاءُوكُمْ مِنْ فَوْقِكُمْ وَمِنْ أَسْفَلَ مِنْكُمْ وَإِذْ زَاغَتِ الْأَبْصَارُ وَبَلَغَتِ الْقُلُوبُ الْحَنَاجِرَ وَتَظُنُّونَ بِاللَّهِ الظُّنُونَاز هُنَالِكَ ابْتُلِيَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَزُلْزِلُوا زِلْزَالًا شَدِيدًا. وَإِذْ يَقُولُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ مَا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ إِلَّا غُرُورًا [الأحزاب/10-12]

    "When they descended upon you from your front and from the rear, when eyes became downcast, and the hearts began to leap to the throats and you began to imagine wild things about Allah. It was then that the believers were tested and shaken with high tremors. When the hypocrites and those in whose heart is a sickness began to say, ‘Allah and His Messenger did not make but false promises to us" (Ibn Kathir).

    442. "When will come Allah's help?": Since these words betray despair and impatience which are not the qualities of prophets, the interpretation offered by some scholars is that the words "when will come Allah's help" was from the followers of the prophets and "verily, Allah's help is nigh" from the prophets (Qurtubi, Zarkashi). Razi, however, expresses his reservations about the interpretation, and so does Alusi.
    If the statement is accepted as coming from a Prophet, then Thanwi's note might throw light on another aspect. He says: "The cry emphasizes the entirely human nature of the prophets."

    يَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنْفِقُونَ ۖ قُلْ مَا أَنْفَقْتُمْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلِلْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ ۗ وَمَا تَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ (215)

    2|215| They ask you concerning what it is that they should expend.443 Tell them, ‘Whatever you expend of the wealth is for the parents,444 the kindred, the orphans, the destitute and the wayfarer.' Indeed, Allah is Aware of whatever good you do.

    443. According to Ibn `Abbas (ra) this verse was revealed in response to the enquiry of `Amr b. al Jamuh who was an old and rich man and who asked the Prophet about what and on whom should he spend (Alusi).
    Yusuf Ali notes: “Three questions arise in charity: (1) What shall we give? (2) to whom shall we give? and (3) how shall we give? The answer is here. Give anything that is good, useful, helpful, valuable. It may be property or money; it may be a helping hand; it may be advice: it may be a kind word: ‘whatever you do that is good’ is charity. On the other hand if you throw away what is useless, there is no charity in it...To whom should you give? It may be tempting to earn the world's praise by a gift that will be talked about, but are you meeting the needs of those who have their first claim on you? If not, you are like a person who defrauds creditors: it is no charity."
    Mahran b. Maymun has said: "Such are the objects of expenditure. It might be noted that Allah (swt) did not mention musical instruments, oil paintings, or murals" (Ibn Kathir).

    444. Qurtubi reports Imam Malik's opinion that if the father is in need of getting married again, but cannot by himself, the son should help him out. Also, the step mother is included in the term ‘parents' with same material rights.

    كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ وَهُوَ كُرْهٌ لَكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَنْ تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ (216)

    2|216| Prescribed for you is fighting445 though it be hateful to you.446 But it is possible that you dislike a thing and it is good for you, and it is possible that you love a thing and it is harmful to you. Allah knows, and you know not.

    445. Ibn Kathir quotes Zuhri's opinion: "Jihad is obligatory on everyone without exception, it being immaterial whether one actually takes part in a battle or not. Someone who stays back from the battlefield, is required to help (materially) whenever there is a call. But when he is asked to come out and take part in the fighting, he should, sitting back only when he is not required." Accordingly, a hadith (of Muslim( says:

    « مَنْ مَاتَ وَلَمْ يَغْزُ وَلَمْ يُحَدِّثْ بِهِ نَفْسَهُ مَاتَ عَلَى شُعْبَةٍ مِنْ نِفَاقٍ »

    "Whoever died without taking part in a jihad and without intending to do it, died on died on a branch of hypocrisy” (Ibn Kathir).
    Majid adds : "War, it has been truly said, is sanctioned by the law of nature the constitution of man and the constitution of society ... Islam, the ideal practical religion, has allowed it, but only in cases of sheer necessity. In Christianity, ‘the coming of the Lord is associated with terrible wars ... In the Epistles, St. Paul shows in a dozen references to a soldier's career that he looked at it with interest and even with sympathy' (DB. IV p. 895)."
    Legal Points
    1. Jihad is obligatory (fard `ayn) on every Muslim in the event of the land of Islam being attacked and conditionally obligatory (fard kifayah) when hostilities are taking place in the lands of the enemy (Alusi).
    2. Jihad becomes fard `ayn (an unconditional obligation) on those living in the area attacked. However, if the Muslims of the area are unable to fight off the invaders then it becomes fard `ayn on those nearest to the area of conflict. It also becomes fard `ayn if the Amir al Muslimin (the ruler of the area) orders everyone (or a particular person) to participate in the jihad (Ma`arif).
    3. However, if a situation arises in which no jihad is taking place in any part of the world then all Muslims will be considered sinful. This is in view of the reports that "Jihad will continue until the Last Day" (Ma`arif).
    4. According to the Hanafiyyah and a few others, Jihad should be conducted by an Islamic state at least once in a year (Au.).
    5. So long as jihad has not been declared fard `ayn it is not permissible to go without the permission of the parents (Ma`arif). I.e., if someone happens to be the only son of parents who are too old to look after themselves, he cannot leave without his parent’s leave (Au.).

    446. "Persecuted, harassed, afflicted, poverty ridden, exiled, and small in numbers, as the Muslims were at the time of the enactment of warfare, it was but natural that they were not too fond of crossing swords with the mighty forces that had conspired for their extirpation. Nothing short of express and emphatic Divine command could urge them on to the field of battle. And yet the Islamic Jihads are declared to be ‘designed’ by the Prophet ‘to satisfy his discontented adherents by an accession of plunder!' (Margoliouth) Such is this European scholar's love of veracity! Such is his wonderful reading of history!" (Majid).

    يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ ۖ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ ۖ وَصَدٌّ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَكُفْرٌ بِهِ وَالْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَإِخْرَاجُ أَهْلِهِ مِنْهُ أَكْبَرُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ ۚ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَكْبَرُ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ ۗ وَلَا يَزَالُونَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَرُدُّوكُمْ عَنْ دِينِكُمْ إِنِ اسْتَطَاعُوا ۚ وَمَنْ يَرْتَدِدْ مِنْكُمْ عَنْ دِينِهِ فَيَمُتْ وَهُوَ كَافِرٌ فَأُولَٰئِكَ حَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ (217)

    2|217| They ask you concerning fighting in the Sacred month.447 Tell them, ‘Fighting therein is (a) grave (offence);448 but to bar from the way of Allah, disbelief in Him, and in the Holy Mosque, and expelling its people from it are (crimes of) greater (dimension) in the sight of Allah. And persecution is worse than slaughter.449 They will never cease fighting you until they have turned you back from your religion if they are able.450 But whosoever turns back from his religion, and dies in the state of unbelief, it is such whose works will go waste both in this life as well as in the next.451 These are companions of the Fire. They shall abide in it forever.452

    447. The following incident became the cause of revelation of this verse. The Prophet sent eight of his Companions headed by `Abdullah b. Jahash (a cousin of the Prophet: Alusi), giving him a letter and instructing him that it was not to be opened until they had reached such and such a place. When the letter was opened it instructed them to move into the territory between Makkah and Tayf, and monitor the enemy movements. It also instructed that no one was to be forced along, rather, be given the choice to either continue or return. Despite the extreme risk to their lives, since the Makkans killed any Muslim found in their territory, of the eight none returned. On the night of the last day of Jumada II they ambushed a small Makkan caravan, killing one man `Amr al Hadrami and capturing two. Thereafter they returned to Madinah with the booty. The first thing that the Prophet told them was: "I had not asked you to fight in the Sacred month!?" He kept the decision about the booty and the prisoners pending. This shocked those who had participated in the campaigning, and they thought they were doomed.
    The Makkans of course seized on the opportunity and accused the Prophet (saws) of the violation of the sanctity of the sacred month that of Rajab, while `Abdullah ibn Jahash and his men maintained that it was the last day of Jumada II. It was then that Allah (swt) revealed this verse.
    This of course did not sanction fighting in this month, but the point was made that if bloodshed had occurred at all in a holy month, the polytheist had committed greater crimes that of expelling the Prophet and his followers from Makkah, persecuting the Muslims and barring their entry into Makkah for Pilgrimage.
    Subsequent to the revelation of this verse, those who had participated in the ambush enquired the Prophet if they would be rewarded for their action. In response Allah (swt) revealed the verse (2: 218):

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُوا وَجَاهَدُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أُولَئِكَ يَرْجُونَ رَحْمَةَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ [البقرة/218]

    "Those who believed, and those who migrated and struggled in the Way of Allah, it is such who (rightly) hope to win Allah's Mercy. And Allah is very Forgiving, very Kind" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    448. The rule, however, banning fighting in the Scared months (Rajab, Dhu al Qa`dah, Dhu al Hijjah, and Muharram) has been, according to the majority of scholars, abrogated. The Prophet attacked his enemies during these months (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Alusi). Imam Razi says he does not know any contemporary scholar of Hejaz, Syria or Iraq who holds a different opinion.
    However, there is no general consensus over the issue (Ma`arif).

    449. Slaughter brings misery to the people in this world alone. But religious persecution destroys all that is good in this life, forcing a man to abandon his religion, bringing upon him the everlasting misery of the Hereafter (Au.).

    450. The addition of these words: "If they are able," gives assurance that they will never succeed in changing the religion of the Muslims by force (Alusi and others).

    451. Majid adds a very useful note: "Rebellion annuls all previous deeds of loyalty and virtue."
    There is difference of opinion whether the good works of days of Islam of the apostate remain in his credit if he reverts back to Islam or has he to work again and repeat the obligatory acts such as Hajj, zakah etc. Abu Hanifa's opinion is that all is lost and must be regained. As for one who is a born unbeliever, his good deeds hang in balance. If he embraces Islam they are written down in his account, otherwise they are lost. This is supported by the hadith: "You came into the fold of Islam by virtue of your good deeds" (Ma`arif).

    452. There is no difference in opinion that someone who reverts to kufr from Islam is to be punished with death. The majority of scholars, however, believe that he should be persuaded to come back and allowed sufficient time to think over the issue and weigh the arguments well (Au.).
    The rule of course does not apply to one who reverts from a religion other than Islam to another religion, such as Judaism to Christianity (Qurtubi).
    However, this is for a male. An apostate woman's punishment is imprisonment for life (Ma`arif).
    Majid writes: “Compare with this the Law of Moses which does not allow for repentance and re entry into faith. It recommends unconditional execution. (The Tawrah says): ‘If thy brother ... entice thee secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods, ... thou shalt surely kill him. ... And thou shall stone him with stones that he die’ (Dt. 13: 6 10)."
    Christianity too, is not far behind. Majid quotes from the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics: "Willful apostasy was, of course, an inexpiable offence, and ranked with murder and adultery' (I, p. 623)."

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُوا وَجَاهَدُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أُولَٰئِكَ يَرْجُونَ رَحْمَتَ اللَّهِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (218)

    2|218| Surely, those who believed, and those who migrated and fought in the way of Allah,453 it is such who (rightly) hope to win Allah's Mercy.454 And Allah is very Forgiving, very Kind.

    453. Jihad is fighting in the way of Allah. (Although included by implication), striving in the way of Allah is not, strictly speaking, jihad per se. In this verse itself it has been used, as pointed out by Ibn Jarir, in the sense of "those who fought," since it is preceded by the words, "those who believed, and those who left their homes," which are themselves a kind of ‘striving to the utmost in the way of Allah' (a form of jihad). A jihad which is sometimes defined by some people as: "striving to the utmost" is, what can be called for want of a better phrase, a passive jihad and inferior to the active jihad which involves fighting. Allah said (4: 95):

    لَا يَسْتَوِي الْقَاعِدُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ غَيْرُ أُولِي الضَّرَرِ وَالْمُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنْفُسِهِمْ فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنْفُسِهِمْ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ دَرَجَةً [النساء/95]

    "Not equal among the Muslims are those who sit back without (going through any) suffering, and those who struggle with their selves and their wealth in the way of Allah. Allah has given preference in rank to the mujahideen over those who sit back."
    Some people who do not understand this point have worked hard in their lives for various causes of Islam without ever thinking of participating in an active jihad under the belief that what they are engaged in is active jihad (Au.).

    454. The words: "They hope to win Allah's Mercy" indicate that in the final analysis it is not on our deeds that we can depend on, rather on Allah's Mercy for forgiveness and entry into Paradise. Qatadah has said: ‘People who were addressed by these words i.e., the Companions were the best of people on earth, yet Allah referred to them as those who hoped. Indeed it is the "hopeful" that will ask (for Allah's forgiveness); while he who is overwhelmed with fear will look for the escape route'" (Rawa’i`).

    يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ ۖ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِنْ نَفْعِهِمَا ۗ وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنْفِقُونَ قُلِ الْعَفْوَ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ (219)

    2|219| They ask you concerning wine455 and gambling.456 Tell them: ‘There are grave sins in both, although there are (some) benefits for mankind. However, the sin in them is greater than their benefits.' And they ask you concerning what it is that they should expend. Tell them, ‘That which is in surplus.'457 Thus does Allah make clear His commandments in order that you may reflect

    455. Imam Ahmad, Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi and Nasa'i have reported that it was `Umar ibn al Khattab (ra) who pressed for a ruling on wine. When he first prayed to Allah that a clear commandment be sent, this verse was revealed:

    يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِنْ نَفْعِهِمَا [البقرة/219]

    "They ask you (O Prophet) concerning wine and gambling. Tell them: ‘They are grave sins, though there are benefits for the people;' although the sin in them is greater than the benefits in them." (During those very days Mu`adh b. Jabal drank after a dinner and then led the Prayers during which he recited the Qur'an erroneously: Zamakhshari). Therefore, `Umar supplicated for a clearer injunction. In answer, verse 43 of surah al Nisa' was revealed which said:

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا لَا تَقْرَبُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنْتُمْ سُكَارَى [النساء/43]

    "Believers. Do not come near the Prayers while you are drunk." Accordingly, the Prophet (saws) used to have it announced that whoever had drunk wine may not come for Prayers. (During those days Sa`d b. Waqqas hosted a drinking party during which the people came to blows under intoxication: Zamakhshari). However, `Umar (ra) was dissatisfied with this also and prayed for a clearer injunction. It was then that the verse completely prohibiting intoxicants was revealed. The verse, 91 of surah al Ma'idah, said:

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنْصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ (90) إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَنْ يُوقِعَ بَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَاءَ فِي الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ وَيَصُدَّكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَعَنِ الصَّلَاةِ فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُنْتَهُونَ [المائدة/90، 91]

    "Believers, surely wine, gambling, stones (dedicated to altars), and (divination by) arrows are abomination and Satan's handiwork" ... until ..."Will you then abstain?" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    `Umar himself has defined wine as "anything that intoxicates." (Further, both small and largequantities of anything that intoxicates is prohibited: Qurtubi). Also prohibited is its buying and selling (Ibn Kathir).
    Qurtubi narrates the singular incident of a drunken man who was washing his face with his own urine and saying: "Allah be praised for having guided me to Islam!"
    Qurtubi also relates the following story: ‘It is said that A`shi, the famous poet, decided to embrace Islam. On his way to Madinah he met a couple of pagans. They asked him about his intentions and on learning that he was going to Muhammad (saws) they told him: "Do not go, for he will order you to Pray." He replied: "(That does not matter for) a man is obliged to worship God." They told him: "He will ask you to spend money on the poor." He said: "Ordering good deeds (of this sort) is (also) an obligation." They said: "He prohibits adultery." He replied: "It's a vile act and an unreasonable thing. Moreover, I am an old man and no more in need of it." Finally, they told him: "He prohibits wine." This had its effect. He said: "As for this, I do not think I can restrain myself." So he turned back saying: "Let me drink for a year and then I will go (and embrace Islam)." But, he did not reach home. On his way back he fell from his mule, broke his neck and died.'
    Mufti Shafi` states the following: `Abdullah ibn `Umar (ra) has reported that when the announcement about the prohibition of the intoxicants was made, those who had them in the vessels, broke those vessels, those who were drinking stopped immediately, and those who had the cups at their lips threw them away. It is said that so much wine was spilled that day that it flowed like rain water in the lanes of Madinah. Later, the Prophet (saws) got collected all the wine that was with the merchants, destroyed some with his own hands and got the rest destroyed at the hands of his Companions. More amazing was the case of a Companion whose main business was liquor. He was in Syria when the prohibition came. He arrived with a whole caravan load of wine. Learning of the prohibition, he left the goods a little out of town and presented himself to the Prophet. He asked him what he was to do with the merchandise. The Prophet told him to destroy it. He went back and destroyed it all and entered Madinah empty handed.
    Nonetheless, these incidents were, according to an eminent Western biographer of the Prophet, of tragic nature. He pours his grief in the following words quoted by Majid: "When the revelation came, zealous followers went round the houses of the Moslems and emptied their vessels of all liquor which was supposed to be intoxicating, in many cases breaking the vessels themselves; and trading Moslems who brought wine home from Syria after this event were compelled to pour their earnings away...!"
    The irony is that the same Orientalists have popularized the notion that Islam spread by the sword (Au.).

    456. Gambling: Every game of chance involving exchange of money or assets is gambling.

    457. The meaning of spending the "`afw" (surplus: Ibn `Abbas), has been well brought out by a hadith according to which,

    عَنْ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « تَصَدَّقُوا ». قَالَ رَجُلٌ عِنْدِى دِينَارٌ. قَالَ « تَصَدَّقْ بِهِ عَلَى نَفْسِكَ ». قَالَ عِنْدِى دِينَارٌ آخَرُ. قَالَ « تَصَدَّقْ بِهِ عَلَى زَوْجِكَ ». قَالَ عِنْدِى دِينَارٌ آخَرُ. قَالَ « تَصَدَّقْ بِهِ عَلَى وَلَدِكَ». قَالَ عِنْدِى دِينَارٌ آخَرُ. قَالَ « تَصَدَّقْ بِهِ عَلَى خَادِمِكَ ». قَالَ عِنْدِى دِينَارٌ آخَرُ. قَالَ « أَنْتَ أَبْصَرُ »

    The Prophet encouraged his men to expend. A man said: "I have a Dinar." The Prophet told him: "Spend it on yourself." The man said: "I have another." He told him: "Spend it on your wife." He said: "I have another." He told him: "Spend it on your children." The man said: "I have yet another." The Prophet told him: "Then you know better (who deserves it most)" - Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir.
    (The above hadith is also in Hakim who declared it as of a good chain, and so said Arna’ut: Au.).
    According to another hadith (in Bukhari: Au.) the Prophet said:

    « خَيْرُ الصَّدَقَةِ مَا كَانَ عَنْ ظَهْرِ غِنًى ، وَابْدَأْ بِمَنْ تَعُولُ »

    "The best of charity is that which is spent out of the surplus. The upper hand is better than the lower. And, begin (by spending) on someone with a large family."
    This verse is the basis of the opinion that treasuring is undesirable (Thanwi).
    Ibn Jarir also reports a hadith related by `Abdullah ibn Jabir who says that once while the Prophet sat in the company of his Companions a man came to him with a piece of gold the size of an egg that he had found in a mine. He said:

    عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الأَنْصَارِىِّ قَالَ كُنَّا عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وس

    لم- إِذْ جَاءَ رَجُلٌ بِمِثْلِ بَيْضَةٍ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَصَبْتُ هَذِهِ مِنْ مَعْدِنٍ فَخُذْهَا فَهِىَ صَدَقَةٌ مَا أَمْلِكُ غَيْرَهَا. فَأَعْرَضَ عَنْهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- ثُمَّ أَتَاهُ مِنْ قِبَلِ رُكْنِهِ الأَيْمَنِ فَقَالَ مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ فَأَعْرَضَ عَنْهُ ثُمَّ أَتَاهُ مِنْ قِبَلِ رُكْنِهِ الأَيْسَرِ فَأَعْرَضَ عَنْهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- ثُمَّ أَتَاهُ مِنْ خَلْفِهِ فَأَخَذَهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فَحَذَفَهُ بِهَا فَلَوْ أَصَابَتْهُ لأَوْجَعَتْهُ أَوْ لَعَقَرَتْهُ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « يَأْتِى أَحَدُكُمْ بِمَا يَمْلِكُ فَيَقُولُ هَذِهِ صَدَقَةٌ ثُمَّ يَقْعُدُ يَسْتَكِفُّ النَّاسَ خَيْرُ الصَّدَقَةِ مَا كَانَ عَنْ ظَهْرِ غِنًى » - سنن أبى داود - ورواه الحاكم في المستدرك وقال : "هذا حديث صحيح على شرط مسلم ، ولم يخرجاه" . ووافقه الذهبي

    "Here. Accept this, O Messenger of Allah, as charity. And by Allah, I have nothing in the world save this." The Prophet turned to the other side. The man followed him and came to him from that side. The Prophet turned to the other side. The man came to him from the other side. At this the Prophet took it from him and threw it away with such a force that had it struck a man it would have hurt him. He said angrily: "One of you comes to me with all that he possesses to be spent as charity. Then he will sit down begging the people. Charity should be from what's left over."
    Nevertheless, it is said that (if spending of the surplus was obligatory) the rule has been abrogated by the injunctions of zakah. This is the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, `Ata' Khurasani, and Suddi. However, Mujahid and others say that the verses concerning zakah are explanatory of this verse (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ ۗ وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْيَتَامَىٰ ۖ قُلْ إِصْلَاحٌ لَهُمْ خَيْرٌ ۖ وَإِنْ تُخَالِطُوهُمْ فَإِخْوَانُكُمْ ۚ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ الْمُفْسِدَ مِنَ الْمُصْلِحِ ۚ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَأَعْنَتَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ (220)

    2|220| Over the present world as well as the next.458 And they ask you about the orphans. Tell them: ‘The best thing is promotion of their welfare.' Therefore, if you mingle (your food) with theirs, then, they are your brethren.459 And Allah knows the corrupt from the well intending. Had Allah willed He could have made things difficult for you, verily, He is Mighty and Wise.

    458. That is, in order that you may realize that this world is ephemeral and the Hereafter is everlasting and a place of reward (Ibn `Abbas, Hasan al Basri, Qatadah, Ibn Jurayj and others Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Here are some hints from Thanwi about when and how to spend: If it is a sinful affair, then spending is prohibited. If it is to please Allah, then, if the head of expenditure is a religious obligation such as zakah then spending is obligatory; but if the head of expenditure is non obligatory such as common charity then, if such spending affects the rights of the dependents, it is not permissible. If the rights of the dependents are not affected, but the man feels about himself that he might not be able to observe abstinence in a goodly manner, (rather, will look at others with greed and envy), then also spending (of the surplus) is not permissible. Otherwise it is permissible. If it is neither the case of meeting a religious obligation, nor that of common charity, but of the nature of good food etc., then, if the intention is to strengthen oneself for further obedience, it is worthy of rewards; but if the intention is to commit a sin, then the spending is punishable. Finally, if the intention is simply to please himself, then (if it does not amount to self indulgence) it is permissible (mabah) [an act which goes with neither reward nor punishment: Au.].

    459. Ibn Jarir reports Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ata', Sha`bi and others as saying in explanation of this verse that when Allah (swt) revealed verse 34 of surah Bani Isra'il which said:

    وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا مَالَ الْيَتِيمِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ حَتَّى يَبْلُغَ أَشُدَّهُ [الإسراء/34]

    "Do not go near the property of the orphans save in a goodly manner," and verse 10 of surah al Nisa' which said:

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ الْيَتَامَى ظُلْمًا إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ نَارًا وَسَيَصْلَوْنَ سَعِيرًا [النساء/10]

    "Those who eat up the property of the orphans unjustly, eat nothing but fire into their bellies. Soon they will reach a blazing Fire," when these verses were revealed those who had orphans under their care segregated them in matters of food and drink to the extent that even the left over was preserved until it got rotten. (Some of them separated their [sweet] water also: Ibn Jarir). But this was getting hard to manage so they presented their difficulty to the Prophet and Allah revealed this verse. Similar reports are in the collections of Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i and others (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    وَلَا تَنْكِحُوا الْمُشْرِكَاتِ حَتَّىٰ يُؤْمِنَّ ۚ وَلَأَمَةٌ مُؤْمِنَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِنْ مُشْرِكَةٍ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَتْكُمْ ۗ وَلَا تُنْكِحُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَتَّىٰ يُؤْمِنُوا ۚ وَلَعَبْدٌ مُؤْمِنٌ خَيْرٌ مِنْ مُشْرِكٍ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكُمْ ۗ أُولَٰئِكَ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى النَّارِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ يَدْعُو إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ وَالْمَغْفِرَةِ بِإِذْنِهِ ۖ وَيُبَيِّنُ آيَاتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ (221)

    2|221| And marry not idolatresses until they believe. Surely, a believing slave girl is better than an (free) idolatress, even if she is alluring to you. And give not in marriage (your women) to idolaters until they believe. Surely, a believing slave is better than a (free) idolater though you may admire him.460 These beckon you to the Fire while Allah beckons you to Paradise and pardon by His leave. And He makes clear His commandments to the people; haply so they may remember.

    460. It is reported that `Abdullah ibn Rawaha had a black slave girl. One day he got angry with her and slapped her. Then he felt guilty and reported the matter to the Prophet (saws). The Prophet asked him: "What kind of woman is she, O `Abdullah?" He said: "She fasts, Prays, does her ablution (wudu) well and bears witness to Allah's Oneness and your Messengership." The Prophet told him: "O `Abdullah. She is a believer." At this `Abdullah ibn Rawaha said: "I shall free her and then marry her." After he had done that some people began to criticize him for his action saying that he need not have to marry a slave girl when so many Makkan free girls (even if idolatresses) were available. At this Allah (swt) revealed: "Marry not idolatresses until they believe" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi).
    Of course, women of the people of the Book (Jews and Christians) are exempt from this rule in view of the commandment in verse 5 of surah al Ma'idah. As for the disapproval reported of `Umar (ra), it could be because he feared that the Companions of the Prophet many of whom had migrated to Syria and Iraq might marry them in large numbers giving rise to social problems (Ibn Kathir).
    Thanwi, however, warns that the faith and beliefs of the modern day Christians should be checked before one of their woman is taken into marriage, for a great majority of the so-called Christians of today neither believe in Jesus (asws) nor in the Scriptures as the God sent revelation. In fact, many of them are downright atheists. Marriage with such people is not permissible.
    In fact, the injunction should be generally applied and one should not marry a woman mainly for her beauty. Says a hadith:

    عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: "تُنْكَحُ الْمَرْأَةُ لأَرْبَعٍ: لِمَالِهَا، وَلِحَسَبِهَا، وَلِجَمَالِهَا، وَلِدِينِهَا فَاظْفَرْ بِذَاتِ الدّينِ تَرِبَتْ يَدَاكَ".

    "A woman is married for four reasons: wealth, social position, beauty, and religion. Marry them for their religion. That will bring blessings." Muslim has a similar report in his collection (Ibn Kathir and others).
    Note also the difference between "marry not idolatresses until they believe," and "give not in marriage (your women) to idolaters until they believe." This is the basis of the rule that a woman should normally be married off by her waliyy (guardian) Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi.
    Legal Points
    1. If a woman married to an unbeliever (of whatever faith), embraces Islam, their marital relationship is broken, unless the husband also accepts Islam. Divorce is not necessary for separation (Thanwi).
    2. The same ruling applies to a case in which the Muslim husband has become an apostate. In both cases she must spend her waiting period (`iddah) before remarriage (Thanwi).
    3. If a man married to an idolatress embraces Islam, he should also break his marriage with her (Au.).

    وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْمَحِيضِ ۖ قُلْ هُوَ أَذًى فَاعْتَزِلُوا النِّسَاءَ فِي الْمَحِيضِ ۖ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَطْهُرْنَ ۖ فَإِذَا تَطَهَّرْنَ فَأْتُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَكُمُ اللَّهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ (222)

    2|222| They ask you concerning menstruation. Tell them, ‘It is a hurt.' So stay away from (your) women during the menstruation. Do not approach them till they are cleansed.461 And, when they have cleansed themselves then go into them as Allah has commanded you.462 Verily, Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and those that keep themselves pure and clean.463

    461. Imam Ahmad has reported Anas (ra) as saying that the Jews segregated their women during their monthly courses to the extent of denying them company on the dining table. The Ansar, influenced by them, treated them similarly. The Prophet was asked about it and Allah (swt) revealed this verse, to which the Prophet added: "Everything is permissible save intercourse." When the Jews heard about it they remarked: "This man seems to be bent on opposing us in everything that we do." When Usayd b. Hudayr, and `Abbad b. Bishr (ra) heard this remark they said to the Prophet: "(If the Jews say so) why should we not allow intercourse also (during the periods, in order to provoke them to greater frustration)?" At this the Prophet was so angry with the two that they were afraid he would order them punished. So they went out and brought in some milk as gift. (When they had left) he sent a man behind them to call them back and made them drink the milk so that they would know that he was not angry with them (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    `A'isha (ra) herself reports that while she was in her periods, the Prophet would rest on her back and read the Qur'an. During those days he would drink from the same bowl and sleep with her in the same bed (Ibn Kathir).
    In contrast, note the injunctions of the Bible as quoted by Majid: "She shall be put apart seven days. And whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. And everything that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean; everything also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. And whosever toucheth her shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even" (Le. 15:19 21)."
    Majid also quotes the opinion of medical men: "Even in a perfectly healthy woman this (menstruation: au) affects the whole organism to a more or less marked degree...There is increased nervous tension and greater muscular excitability; reflex action is more marked and there may be slight twitching of the legs; also yawning and stiffness in the neck, and sleep is heavier than usual. There is loss of appetite and a certain amount of digestive and intestinal disturbance with a tendency to flatulence" (Havelock Ellis, Man and Woman, pp.289 290)." And: "During menstruation, a woman is exceptionally sensitive and irritable, so that she may be greatly excited by trifling matters which at other times would arouse no obvious response...The statistics of criminality in women show that a very large majority of crimes committed by women are committed during menstruation" (Bauer, Woman and Love, pp. 283 284)."
    Sabuni adds: With reference to the words, "Wa la taqrabuhunna," a linguistic point may be noted. When it is said "la taqrab" it means, as Shashi has pointed out, "do not do a thing." But when you say "la taqrib" then you mean to say "do not go near it." Therefore, here it means, "do not go into your women" (Rawae`).
    Legal Points
    1. The maximum length of a menstrual cycle is, according to the Shafe`iyyah, Hanabilah and Malikiyyah, 15 days. According to the Hanafiyyah it is 10 days. If the discharge continues beyond these periods, then the woman is in the state of "istihada" during which she is required to resume her Prayers and fast (Al Arba`ah). The main difference between the two discharges is in color and density former is dark red (bluish, or of the color of the soil: Thanwi) and thick, while the latter of the same color as blood, but thinner (Razi and Al Arba`ah).
    2. Sexual intercourse is allowed during istihada (Razi).
    3. In individuals whose normal period is well known, anything lasting more is "istihada" (Thanwi in Bahishti Zewar).
    4. It is 24 hours after the cessation of discharge of the menstrual cycle that a woman is in the state of purity and hence liable to Pray, fast, etc. A grand ablution is necessary (Al Arba`ah). According to the Hanafiyyah, however, the time allowed is the time between one Prayer and the next. After the lapse of that time she should bathe herself and start praying (Bahishti Zewar).
    5. Can a woman recite the Qur'an during her menstrual cycle? The answer given by the four fuqaha' is that she cannot. She could as such quote or read a part of a Qur'anic verse, but not recite the Qur'an or even handle it (just like a man cannot do it in a state of major uncleanliness). She can however, read Hadith literature (Au.).
    6. During this period she may not offer Prayers, observe fasts, enter a mosque or touch the Qur'an. However, fasts have to be observed later, while Prayers are forgiven (Al Arba`ah).
    7. According to most jurists a woman must bathe herself after the periods before intercourse (Ibn Kathir). However, according to the Hanafiyy school cessation of blood is enough, although a bath is recommended and intercourse is undesirable before it (Qurtubi).
    8. The discharge before and after the birth of a child is known as "nifas." Its maximum period ranges from 40 to 60 days depending on various schools of fiqh. The minimum is the cessation of discharge. The rules of Prayers, fasts etc. are the same as with menstrual cycles (Al Arba`ah).
    9. Someone who loses control and has intercourse with his wife during her periods, commits, according to the majority of scholars, a sin for which he must seek Allah's forgiveness, but no expiation has been prescribed (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    462. The original words: "min haythu amara kumullah" lend various meanings (Razi). That expressed in the translation implies that one might go into his women from whatever direction it pleases him: the front or the rear, from the sides, lying down, sitting or standing (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi), from above or below (Thanwi). It is said that the Ansar were under the influence of the Jews who held the belief that coitus from the rear (in the vagina) produced squint eyed children. The Makkans, however, believed in no such restriction. So when some of them migrated to Madinah and married Ansari women, their wives protested at their liberty and complained to the Prophet. This verse was revealed to remove the taboo.
    It might also be noted in this connection that anal sex is strictly prohibited. According to several ahadith (of various strength), Allah will not look at the man who molested his wife that way. In some reports he is called "the accursed one." As for the reports that have come from Ibn `Umar that he saw no sin in it, they are all untrustworthy. On various occasions he denied having ever uttered such a thing. The same is true of Imam Shafe`i, to whom reports of its lawfulness are attributed but against which his stand has been made clear in no less than six books (Ibn Kathir, condensed).

    463. Majid writes: "Compare and contrast the Christian aversion to bathing and personal ablutions. `Jerome warns ascetics against warm baths as morally enervating, and in a letter to one of his female disciples denounces every sort of bathing for women. Augustine allows a bath once a month only' (DCA, II, p. 939)."

    نِسَاؤُكُمْ حَرْثٌ لَكُمْ فَأْتُوا حَرْثَكُمْ أَنَّىٰ شِئْتُمْ ۖ وَقَدِّمُوا لِأَنْفُسِكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّكُمْ مُلَاقُوهُ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (223)

    2|223| Your women are a tilth for you, so approach your tilth howsoever you wish,464 but send forward (good deeds) for yourselves.465 Fear Allah and remember that you are to meet Him. And give glad tiding to the Believers.

    464. That is, in the vagina (Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah Ibn Kathir).

    465. There are at least two other interpretations to the textual words wa qaddimu li anfusikum: (1) Seek children, (2) Pronounce Allah's name before intercourse. The latter practice, according to a hadith, will bring children free of Satanic influences (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and others).
    Majid adds: "A powerful reminder that moral and spiritual ends are not to be lost sight of even in the height of carnal pleasures."

    وَلَا تَجْعَلُوا اللَّهَ عُرْضَةً لِأَيْمَانِكُمْ أَنْ تَبَرُّوا وَتَتَّقُوا وَتُصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ النَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ (224)

    2|224| And make not Allah by your oaths a hindrance to acts of virtue, piety, or to promote peace between the people.466 Allah is All hearing, All Knowing.

    466. That is, if you have by any chance vowed that you will not do a thing, while doing it is an act of welfare, or piety, or will make peace between people, then you ought not to be hindered by the oath. Rather, break it and go ahead and do those things. A good deed cannot be abandoned in the name of God!
    The Prophet (saws) is reported to have said in a hadith of the Sahihayn:

    إِنِّي وَاللَّهِ إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَا أَحْلِفُ عَلَى يَمِينٍ فَأَرَى غَيْرَهَا خَيْرًا مِنْهَا إِلَّا أَتَيْتُ الَّذِي هُوَ خَيْرٌ وَتَحَلَّلْتُهَا.‏

    "By Allah, and by His Will, I do not swear against doing athing, but do it if I find that doing it would be better, and break my oath." In another hadith of the same sources he told Abdul Rahman ibn Samurah:

    "يَا عَبْدَ الرّحْمَنِ بْنَ سَمُرَةَ لاَ تَسْأَلِ الإِمَارَةَ، فَإِنّكَ إنْ أُعْطِيتَهَا عَنْ مَسْأَلَةٍ وُكِلَتْ إلَيْهَا، وَإنْ أُعْطِيتَهَا عَنْ غَيْرِ مَسْأَلَةٍ أُعِنْتَ عَلَيْهَا، وَإذَا حَلَفْتَ عَلَىَ يَمِينٍ فَرَأَيْتَ غَيْرَهَا خَيْراً مِنْهَا فَكَفّرْ عَنْ يَمِينِكَ، وَائْتِ الّذِي هُوَ خَيْرٌ".
    "O Abdul Rahman ibn Samurah! Do not ask to be entrusted with a state authority (imarah), for if it is imposed on you while you are undesirous of it, you will be helped (by Allah). But if you seek it and are given then you will be left to yourself to manage it. Further, when you have vowed a thing, but find something else better than what you have sworn against, then go ahead and break your oath, do that thing and then atone for it" (Ibn Kathir).

    لَا يُؤَاخِذُكُمُ اللَّهُ بِاللَّغْوِ فِي أَيْمَانِكُمْ وَلَٰكِنْ يُؤَاخِذُكُمْ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٌ (225)

    2|225| Allah will not take you to task for your unintentional oaths, but will take you to task for what your hearts have earned.467 Allah is All forgiving, All clement.

    467. That is, those words of oath that people utter without meaning them such as: "No, by God, yes by God," etc. These are not oaths, and there is no expiation for breaking them. It may also apply to those things about which one believes that he is right (and so swears on it), but is proven wrong later. (There is no expiation for them also: Au.). Expiation is prescribed for those deeds about which a man makes a firm intention (`A'isha, Ibn `Abbas and others: Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Though written in a different context, the following lines from "Islam Between East and West" by the Bosnian President (1996) Alija Izetbegovic, are worth reproducing: "All men believe in the soul and act accordingly, even if they do not speak up. If somebody has committed a murder and admits it, but insists that he did it unintentionally, what follows then with the prosecutor, the defense, the witnesses, the experts and the court? Why do they deliver learned speeches, analyze every detail and so on, when the very deed has been admitted to and its consequences are evident. All their efforts are not concerned with external objective facts, but with an inner problem: that of intention. It is not a question of what really happened, but what happened in the heart of the murderer. Moreover, everyone involved in the case spontaneously believes that the intention is more important than the consequence. That means that everyone, maybe unconsciously, prefers the soul to the facts. A worker who, unintentionally, causes a mine disaster in which hundreds of miners are killed, will be less responsible and less punished, than a man who kills an old woman in order to rob her. ... Man's judgment tries to imitate God's judgment" (p. 244)."

    لِلَّذِينَ يُؤْلُونَ مِنْ نِسَائِهِمْ تَرَبُّصُ أَرْبَعَةِ أَشْهُرٍ ۖ فَإِنْ فَاءُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (226)

    2|226| For those who forswear their wives is (prescribed) a waiting period of four months.468 If they reconcile469 then Allah is All forgiving, All merciful.470

    468. One way in which people impressed on their recalcitrant wives that things had come to a serious pass, was to swear that they would not go into them. In the Islamic terminology this is known as "'ila'". However, in pre Islamic times this was often misused and employed as a tool for oppression. Men used to forswear and stay away from their wives for endless periods causing them psychological and physical suffering. This verse was meant to correct the situation (Au.).
    'Ila' Rules
    Someone who has vowed that he will not go into his wife has four months to decide on his future course. Either he reconciles himself with her (in which case he offers expiation for the oath: Sabuni), or says good bye to her and divorces her. (According to the Hanafiyyah, divorce automatically takes effect with the lapse of four months: Sabuni. According to others, it does not: Au.). If he does not decide upon either of the two courses, the woman can apply to the courts for separation. A simple but sure way of expressing reconciliation is to resume the conjugal relationship. Hence Allah (swt) said: "If they reconcile", wherein "reconciliation" (faa'u of the original) refers to sexual intercourse: Ibn `Abbas, Masruq, Sha`bi, Sa`id b. Jubayr and others. However, in cases where that is not possible, verbal reconciliation should suffice: Ibrahim Nakha`i, Zuhri, `Alqamah, Abu Hanifa, and others (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir) .
    Commentators generally quote the following incident to emphasize that the four months period that this verse has allowed as the maximum period that a man can be allowed to abstain from his wife is in keeping with the biological requirement of a woman. It is said that once when `Umar ibn al Khattab (ra), was patrolling the town of Madinah in his usual night rounds he heard the following lines from a woman whose husband was at the frontiers in jihad:
    The night has prolonged, its fringes have darkened,
    O miserable me without my sweetheart to play with.
    By God! But for Allah's fear,
    Pedestals of this couch would be quivering.
    `Umar (ra) inquired his daughter Hafsa (ra) as to how long a woman can manage without her husband. She said: "Four months." So `Umar stipulated four months as the longest period a man could be kept away from his wife (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Sayyid Qutb).

    469. The statement, "If they reconcile", implies that to get married (and raise a family) is not against zuhud (Thanwi).

    470. "Allah is All forgiving, All merciful," and so He will not take to task for those of the conjugal rights of the woman that were neglected because of the oath (Ibn Kathir).

    وَإِنْ عَزَمُوا الطَّلَاقَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ (227)

    2|227| But if they resolve on divorce, then Allah is All hearing, All knowing.

    وَالْمُطَلَّقَاتُ يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنْفُسِهِنَّ ثَلَاثَةَ قُرُوءٍ ۚ وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَهُنَّ أَنْ يَكْتُمْنَ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ فِي أَرْحَامِهِنَّ إِنْ كُنَّ يُؤْمِنَّ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ وَبُعُولَتُهُنَّ أَحَقُّ بِرَدِّهِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ إِنْ أَرَادُوا إِصْلَاحًا ۚ وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ (228)

    2|228| And divorced (women)471 shall wait by themselves for three periods.472 It is not lawful for them to conceal that which Allah has created in their wombs if they (truly) believe in Allah and the Last Day.473 And their husbands have the right to take them back if they intend to set things right.474 And for them is the same as is upon them in a fair manner;475 although men have a degree over them.476 And Allah is All mighty, All wise.

    471. The word "talaq" usually translated as "divorce" means, in its root, "freedom", and "tallaqa" would mean "He freed (in this case, the woman that was bound to him)." It is, however, as a hadith says, the most hateful of the permissible things in the sight of Allah (Qurtubi).
    Divorce
    Majid writes: "The course of divorce, ... among ancient nations has been erratic, some making it too loose, others making it too tight...The Jewish law allows it as a matter of no great concern. 'If husband finds some uncleanness in her, then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.' (Dt. 24: 1,2) Christianity, on the other hand, ... has interdicted divorce altogether. The Catholics hold: `When the sacrament of matrimony has been received by a man and a woman and ratified by their cohabitation as husband and wife, their union cannot be dissolved except by death.' (CD. p. 41) ... The Protestants allow no doubt, but only on grounds ... of fornication. Islam has steered its course midway between the two, avoiding the extremes of either making divorce too rigid or banning it altogether, or of making it too loose and frivolous. Islam has adopted the only wise course open that of imposing certain conditions and limitations upon the right of the husband to dissolve the matrimonial bond, the object of which is `to ensure that the husband was not acting in haste or anger and that the separation becomes inevitable in the interests of the husband and the wife and the children' (Abdur Rahim, op. cit, p. 336)."

    472. The word in the original is "quru': sing. "qar'", which is primarily used for a "period of time", but also for the state of impurity of a woman (hayd), as well as for that of her purity (tuhur). Hence there is difference of opinion between the scholars whether here the reference is to the period of monthly cycle or the period of purity between one monthly cycle and next (Ibn Kathir).

    473. It could either refer to pregnancy or to their menstrual period (Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Umar, Sha`bi and others). Further, the phrase "If they believe in Allah and the Last Day" had to be added because these are things that only women know about themselves. There is no way for another person to verify (Ibn Kathir).
    Asad says: "The primary purpose of this waiting period is the ascertainment of possible pregnancy, and thus of the parentage of the as yet unborn child. In addition, the couple are to be given an opportunity to reconsider their decision and possibly to resume the marriage."

    474. When a man having consummated his marriage divorces his wife for the first time, the "talaq" is technically known as the "talaq al raja`i" (the revocable divorce). With such a divorce the woman has to wait for three periods (quru`), during which she can share the same apartment with him, after which she can remarry. However, this waiting time, known as "`iddah" gives the husband the opportunity to reconsider his decision. If he feels that it was a hasty step he can revoke the divorce (either by express words or conduct: Abdur Rahim Majid), and continue to live with her as before without a remarriage. But if he does not i.e., within the "`iddah" but wants to remarry her, after the lapse of the period, he can still do it, provided of course, she is willing, and obviously, on new terms of marriage, such as, for instance, a new "mahar" (dower) Au.

    475. The Prophet (saws) has further enlightened us on the subject through various statements. For instance, at the time of his Hajj he said:

    فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ فِى النِّسَاءِ فَإِنَّكُمْ أَخَذْتُمُوهُنَّ بِأَمَانِ اللَّهِ وَاسْتَحْلَلْتُمْ فُرُوجَهُنَّ بِكَلِمَةِ اللَّهِ وَلَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ أَنْ لاَ يُوطِئْنَ فُرُشَكُمْ أَحَدًا تَكْرَهُونَهُ. فَإِنْ فَعَلْنَ ذَلِكَ فَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ ضَرْبًا غَيْرَ مُبَرِّحٍ وَلَهُنَّ عَلَيْكُمْ رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسْوَتُهُنَّ - صحيح مسلم

    "Fear Allah (swt) in matters involving women. You have made them lawful unto yourself by an oath and a promise given to Allah. It is your right that they should not allow someone you do not approve to enter your house in your absence. If they do that, you may beat them, but without injury. As for their rights, it is that they should be fed and clothed in a goodly manner." [Explaining "you may beat them," Ibn `Abbas said: "With your tooth stick (miswak): Au.]": According to another hadith the Prophet (saws) was asked: "What are the rights of our women, O Messenger of Allah?" He replied:

    وفي حديث عن معاوية بن حيدة القشيري عن أبيه عن جده أنه قال: يا رسول اللّه ما حق زوجة أحدنا؟ قال: "أن تطعمها إذا طعمت، وتكسوها إذا اكتسيت، ولا تضرب الوجه، ولا تقبّح ولا تهجر إلا في البيت

    ".
    "That you should feed them and clothe them as you will yourself, not hit them in their faces, not insult them, and not abandon them save within the four walls of the house." Ibn `Abbas (ra) used to say: "I like to present myself to my wife as neat and clean as I like that she should present herself to me in a pleasant form. This is following Allah's injunction: 'And they (women) have the same (rights upon men) as (the men have their rights) upon them'" (Ibn Kathir). Her rights also include that if the husband is unable to satisfy her in the bed, he should seek medical help (Qurtubi). It is also her right that the man should not climax before the woman does (Alusi).
    However, it must be understood that each has his or her rights and obligations that suit him or her. If, for instance, a woman cooks food and washes linen, it does not mean that in return the husband should cook food and wash linen for her. Rather, it is the case of one right against another (Zamakhshari).
    Women's Position in the Old World
    Comparing the treatment of women by other religions with that of Islam, Majid says: "This bold and explicit declaration of the right of women centuries and centuries before a Mill dreamt of writing on the `Subjection of Women,' has no parallel in the pages of another Divine Scriptures. Contrast with this the attitude of the Bible which as a punishment of the sin of Eve makes wife a subject to her husband who is to rule over her. `According to the Old Testament, woman is responsible for the fall of man, and this became the cornerstone of Christian teaching...It is a remarkable fact that the Gospel (barring divorce, Matt. 19:9) contains not a word in favour of woman...The epistles of St. Paul definitely insist that no change can be permitted in the position of women...St. Jerome has aught but good to say to woman. "Woman is the gate of the devil, the road of evil, the sting of the scorpion." Canon law declares: "Man only is created in the image of God, not woman: therefore woman shall serve him and be his handmaid." The Provincial Council of Mocon (sixth century) seriously discussed the question `whether woman has a soul at all.' (Kraft Ebing, Psychopathia Sexualis, p.4 n. 12th Ed.) The effect of the teachings of the Jewish Rabbis and Christian fathers was that in the course of history `woman was represented as the door of hell, as the mother of all human ills. She should be ashamed at the very thought that she is a woman' (Lecky, History of European Morals, II. p. 142)."

    476. What exactly is the meaning of the words: "And men have a degree above them?" Some scholars (Mujahid, Qatadah) have said that the words refer to the natural advantages that men enjoy over women such as they do not miss their Prayers because of menstrual cycle, can participate in jihad, which is not obligatory on women, etc. (Granted the meaning usually taken, [Kashshaf and Baydawi: "men have an edge over women in rights Majid], it only points to the added responsibility of men and not to their superiority, in the light of the Qur'anic dictum, "the most honorable among you in the sight of your Lord is the most fearful of Him": Sabuni) However, Ibn `Abbas has said that it is the fulfillment of marital obligations on the part of men, and observation of patience and grace in the face of ill behavior by their wives which is the demand of the statement: "And men have a degree above them" (Ibn Jarir).
    That men are superior to women cannot be derived either from this verse or from another (4: 34): "Men are the managers of the affairs of women" However, complete freedom to women has also proved disastrous (Ma`arif).
    Majid adds: "Man, perhaps even down to the protein molecules of his tissue cells is biologically different from woman ... The revolutionary principles collide with the very important circumstances, namely the biological inequality of the sexes. We must recognize the unquestionable existence of the biological inequality of the sexes. It goes deeper and is of fare greater import than it would appear to those not familiar with natural sciences' (Nemilov, Biological Tragedy of Woman, pp. 75 78)."

    الطَّلَاقُ مَرَّتَانِ ۖ فَإِمْسَاكٌ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ تَسْرِيحٌ بِإِحْسَانٍ ۗ وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَأْخُذُوا مِمَّا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ شَيْئًا إِلَّا أَنْ يَخَافَا أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ ۖ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا فِيمَا افْتَدَتْ بِهِ ۗ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلَا تَعْتَدُوهَا ۚ وَمَنْ يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ (229)

    2|229| (Revocatory) divorce477 is twice.478 Then either honorable retention or release with kindness.479 And it is not lawful for you that you should take back anything of what you gave them480 unless the two may fear that they might not be able to observe Allah's bounds. But if you are afraid that the two may not observe Allah's bounds,481 then there is no sin upon the two in what she will (pay and) release herself with.482 These are the bounds of Allah. So do not transgress them. Those who transgress Allah's bounds, such indeed are the wrongdoers.

    477. One reason, (apart from the fact that a woman is not obliged to spend anything of her wealth at the time of or after the marriage), why a woman has not been given the right to break the marriage tie by pronouncing the word talaq, is that women are more emotional and easily excited to anger (Al Arba`ah). An added reason is that it is men who expend their money on women, by way of dower, etc. How can women who are at the receiving end through and through be allowed to divorce their husbands? (Au.).

    478. Allah (swt) has allowed two revocations because when someone lives with another, he does not know how he will feel when separated from him or her. Had Allah (swt) ordered separation with one pronouncement, surely it would have caused suffering (Razi).

    479. Another tool of oppression for the husbands in the pre Islamic Arabia was to divorce a woman, revoke the divorce after some time, re divorce and go on and on to torture the woman. A Muslim fresh in Islam promised his wife the same treatment and Allah revealed this verse which curtailed the practice, (Abu Da`ud Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir), while keeping the door of separation open (Au.). The Prophet is reported to have said to Mu`adh bin Jabal in a hadith preserved by Daraqutni:

    (يا معاذ ما خلق الله شيئا على وجه الأرض أحب إليه من العتاق ولا خلق الله تعالى شيئا على وجه الأرض أبغض إليه من الطلاق فإذا

    "O Mu`adh! There is nothing that Allah (swt) loves more than redemption of a slave. And there is nothing more hateful to Him than divorce. Therefore, if a man says to his slave, 'If Allah wills you are free.' then he is free, and there is no other option. But if he says to his woman, 'If Allah wills you are divorced,' then she is not divorced and there is no option" (Qurtubi).
    Abu Dhar reports (in a hadith of Ahmad) that someone recited this ayah and asked,

    يا رسول الله، أرأيت قول الله تعالى: "الطلاق مرتان فإمساك بمعروف أو تسريح بإحسان" فأين الثالثة؟ فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: (فإمساك بمعروف أو تسريح بإحسان).

    Messenger of Allah, "Where is the third divorce?" The Prophet told him: "It is (in the words) 'release with kindness'" (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Majid notes: "The goal of matrimony in Islam is to unite two lives, to bring happiness to the couple, and to instill mutual amity, harmony, responsible co partnership and good fellowship in the pair. Now human nature being what it its, it sometimes happens that even with the best of motives and after repeated trials, the union remains unhappy. The only remedy then is to unfasten the wedding tie. Even then, the husband is enjoined by the Qur'an not to dismiss the wife in disgrace, or with a view to humiliating her but to let her off kindly, with due regard to his chivalry and her tenderness, and with a view to securing peace of mind both for her and himself."

    480. That is, if a man divorces his wife, it is not lawful for him to take back anything that he gave her at the time of marriage or during the married life, in cash or kind (Au.).

    481. That is, the two are afraid that they might not be able to fulfill their respective conjugal duties (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).

    482. This applies to the situation in which the man does not wish to divorce his wife (because of the expenses he would have incurred, in addition to the mahr he would have paid) but the woman finds it impossible to live with him and hence demands to be released. To compensate his losses she agrees to pay back a certain amount in return of the freedom (Au.). Technically this is known as khul`. An incident of this sort took place during the Prophet's life. Preserved by Bukhari the report says that the wife of Thabit b. Qays b. Shimas told the Prophet that she did not find any fault in the man's religion but that she could not stand the sight of him. (According to another report "so ugly that, if not for the fear of Allah, I could spit in his face"). The Prophet asked her if she would give back the orchard he had gifted her. (According to other reports two orchards). She readily agreed and the Prophet ordered Thabit to release her (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    It is also reported that during `Umar's reign a woman came to him seeking separation from her husband. `Umar ordered her locked up in the garbage yard. The next day he asked her, (according to other reports he locked her up for three days), "How did you like it?" She said, "For the first time in my life I was happier (in there in the garbage yard) than I ever was with him." `Umar ordered the man to release her (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). According to the majority, however, the man can in no case take from her more than what he gave her. Nevertheless, that is in a case in which the woman demands separation. If the tie is broken by the man, then he can take back nothing. However, some scholars believe that in certain cases he can demand and get more than what he gave her (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    However, if the man is at no fault, and the woman does it to ruin him financially, or simply out of mischief, then there are ahadith that warn of severe punishment (Au.). One hadith says:

    : "أَيّمَا امْرَأَةٍ سأَلَتْ زَوْجَهَا طَلاَقاً في غَيْرِ مَا بَأْسٍ فَحَرَام عَلَيْهَا رَائِحَةُ الْجَنّةِ".‏

    "Forbidden is the smell of Paradise to a woman who seeks divorce without a good reason" (Abu Da`ud Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    فَإِنْ طَلَّقَهَا فَلَا تَحِلُّ لَهُ مِنْ بَعْدُ حَتَّىٰ تَنْكِحَ زَوْجًا غَيْرَهُ ۗ فَإِنْ طَلَّقَهَا فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا أَنْ يَتَرَاجَعَا إِنْ ظَنَّا أَنْ يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ يُبَيِّنُهَا لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ (230)

    2|230| Then, if he divorces her (for the third time) she is not lawful unto him until she weds a man other than him. So, if he (the second husband) divorces her then there is no sin upon the two that they should reunite provided they believe they will observe Allah's bounds.483 These are the bounds of Allah which He makes clear for a people who know.484

    483. An added condition is that the marriage should have been consummated before the second husband divorces her of his own free will. It is then that the woman will be able to re-marry her first husband.

    عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ: سُئِلَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ رَجُلٍ طَلّقَ امْرَأَتَهُ فَتَزَوّجَتْ زَوْجا غَيْرَهُ فَدَخَلَ بِهَا ثُمّ طَلّقَهَا قَبْلَ أَنْ يُوَاقِعَهَا أَتَحِلّ لِلأَوّلِ؟ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: «لاَ حَتّى يَذُوقَ الاَخَرُ عَسِيلَتَهَا وَتَذُوقَ عُسَيْلَتَه

    The Prophet (saws) was asked about a man divorced a woman, then another married her, closed the door behind him with her inside and then divorced her, without having had intercourse with her, will she be lawful to the husband of the first marriage? He replied: "No. Not until he tastes her sweetness and she his" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). Several ahadith have been recorded by various collectors forbidding an arranged "marriage and divorce" with the purposes of making a woman lawful to her previous husband. In some ahadith both the first and the second husbands involved in the affair of trying to make a woman lawful this way are equated with those who partake of interest money and have been cursed by the Prophet (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    484. This is because the ignorant cannot remember such numerous and involved laws; only the men of understanding can (Qurtubi).

    وَإِذَا طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَبَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَأَمْسِكُوهُنَّ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ سَرِّحُوهُنَّ بِمَعْرُوفٍ ۚ وَلَا تُمْسِكُوهُنَّ ضِرَارًا لِتَعْتَدُوا ۚ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَقَدْ ظَلَمَ نَفْسَهُ ۚ وَلَا تَتَّخِذُوا آيَاتِ اللَّهِ هُزُوًا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَمَا أَنْزَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَالْحِكْمَةِ يَعِظُكُمْ بِهِ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ (231)

    2|231| And when you have divorced your women and they have reached their period (of waiting)485 then either retain them honorably486 or release them honorably. Do not retain them by way of harm to take undue advantage. Whoever does that will wrong his own soul.487 And do not make a mockery of Allah's injunctions,488 but rather, rehearse Allah's favors unto you489 and that He sent down the Book and the Wisdom490 whereby He admonishes you. Fear Allah and be aware that Allah has knowledge of everything.

    485. What is actually meant by the words, "and when they have reached their period of waiting" is that they are "about to complete their waiting period" since after completion of the period, the choice is lost (Qurtubi).

    486. According to Imam Shafe`i, Ahmad and Malik these words: "retain them honorably" imply that if a man is not able to provide for his wife she can be separated from him. However, others believe she ought to observe patience; and the state should provide for her since Allah has indicated to us through a verse (24: 32):

    وَأَنْكِحُوا الْأَيَامَى مِنْكُمْ وَالصَّالِحِينَ مِنْ عِبَادِكُمْ وَإِمَائِكُمْ إِنْ يَكُونُوا فُقَرَاءَ يُغْنِهِمُ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ [النور/32]

    "And marry the single among you, the virtuous ones among your male and the female slaves: if they be poor Allah will enrich them with His bounty." Thus, despite poverty a man and a woman can wed. Obviously, if they can wed, they can also remain in wedlock in poverty (Qurtubi).

    487. He will wrong himself in this world also; for when it is known how he treated his previous wife, no decent woman would like to marry him (Razi, Alusi).

    488. So that a word of "talaq" will be treated as a divorce even if the man says "I was only joking." A hadith of Abu Da`ud, Nasa'i and Ibn Majah says:

    "ثَلاَثٌ جِدُهُنّ جِدّ: وَهزْلُهُنّ جِدّ: النّكَاحُ وَالطّلاَقُ وَالرّجْعَةُ". (قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ. وَالْعَمَلُ عَلَى هَذَا عِنْدَ أَهْلِ الْعِلْمِ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ النَّبِىِّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- وَغَيْرِهِمْ)

    "There are three things which will be taken seriously: marriage, divorce, and revocation (of the divorce)" Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir. Other reports include redemption of slaves. Imam Malik has recorded in his Muwatta that a man came to Ibn `Abbas and said: "I have divorced my wife a hundred times. So what do you have to say about it?" He replied: "With the first three she gets separated from you. The rest of the ninety seven are a mockery of Allah's commandments." It is also mockery to seek Allah's forgiveness while continuing to indulge in a sin (Qurtubi, Razi). Furthermore, not to carry out the commandments of Allah in real earnest, or to do them badly is also to make mockery of them (Zamakhshari).

    489. "We are asked to remember in our own minds and to proclaim and praise, and be proud of God's favors on us. His favors are immeasurable: not the least are His Revelations, and the wisdom which He has given to us to enable us to judge and act up to His guidance" (Yusuf Ali).

    490. The hikmah of the original alludes to the Sunnah, (since both have Divine origin) Alusi.

    وَإِذَا طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَبَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ أَنْ يَنْكِحْنَ أَزْوَاجَهُنَّ إِذَا تَرَاضَوْا بَيْنَهُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ يُوعَظُ بِهِ مَنْ كَانَ مِنْكُمْ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۗ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَزْكَىٰ لَكُمْ وَأَطْهَرُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ (232)

    2|232| And when you have divorced your women, and they have completed their period (of waiting), do not prevent them491 from marrying their (former or new) husbands, if they mutually agree on equitable terms.492 These (are the words) by which is admonished he among you who believes in Allah and the Last Day. This is the (course for making) most virtue and purity amongst you. Allah knows, and you know not.

    491. It is the custodian (waliyy) of the woman who has been addressed and the indication is that it is the waliyy who should marry her off, instead of the woman arranging her own marriage (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). However, according to the Hanafiyyah, who base their opinion on an earlier verse viz., "...until she weds a man other than him (no. 230)," a woman may give herself in marriage, although it is undesirable that she should do so (Alusi).

    492. This verse was revealed when, as in Bukhari, Tirmidhi and other collections, the sister of Ma`qal b. Yasar was divorced by her husband. But both were inclined to each other so that when she was out of her waiting period he came back requesting her hand. Ma`qal told him: "No. You greedy man, son of a greedy man. I honored you by marrying my sister to you but you divorced her. By God, she will never go back to you." (The narrator interjects: But Allah knew of his fondness for her and her fondness for him). So Allah revealed: "When you have divorced your women, .. until, "This is the (course of Law for making) most virtue and purity amongst you. And Allah knows, you know not." When Ma`qal heard this he said: "Hearing and obedience is for our Lord." Then he sent word for his sister's former husband and told him: "I will marry her to you, and shall accord you full respect (as before)." [Ibn Marduwayh adds: "And will expiate my oath]" Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi.
    Although such were the circumstances of revelation of this verse, the application is common so that, also prohibited is the practice, prevalent in some Muslim societies, of placing obstacles in the path of a woman getting married to a person of her choice in the hope of the family members obtaining gifts from another, more gullible, suitor (Ma`arif).
    Yusuf Ali writes: "The termination of a marriage bond is a most serious matter for family and social life. And every lawful device is approved which can equitably bring back those who have lived together, provided only there is mutual love and they can live on honorable terms with each other. If these conditions are fulfilled, it is not right for outsiders to prevent or hinder re union. They may be swayed by property or other considerations."
    Legal Points
    1. Divorce is the most hateful of the "lawful" in the sight of Allah. The following, however, is the process when it becomes inevitable:
    a) According to the majority, the Sunnah way of divorce is to pronounce the divorce when the woman is in the state of purity (tuhur), in which state sexual intercourse with her has not taken place, and the woman is not pregnant (Al Arba`ah). This will be the first talaq. Nevertheless, the husband and wife can continue to live together. If the husband does not revoke his divorce within the waiting period (either in words, or by way of resumption of conjugal relationship [according to the Hanafiyy and Maliki schools, even amorous activities such as kissing, caressing, etc. would suffice: Rawai`]), then the woman is divorced and she must be sent away in a goodly manner, that is, with gifts etc. Nevertheless, the man can re marry her if she is willing (Au.).
    b) However, according to the Companions, if a man has made up his mind about separation the best way would be to let the divorce become absolute by default, i.e., by the expiry of the period of probation (Majid, Ma`arif).
    c) Notwithstanding how the husband acts i.e., whether he revokes the divorce within the waiting period, or remarries the same woman he has two more divorce pronouncements to his credit.
    d) If he divorces her again, the process of the first divorce must be repeated.
    e) If he revokes his divorce for the second time, he can continue to live with her with another divorce pronouncement to his credit the final one which will entail permanent separation.
    f) But if he does not revoke his divorce after the second pronouncement and she completes her period of waiting then his inaction will be considered a third divorce and she will be separated from him. They cannot reunite until she marries another man who divorces her of his own free will.
    2. When a woman has been divorced for the first or second time, and she completes her period of waiting, then the husband has a right to re marry her albeit on new terms. However, the woman has the right to decide whether she will accept him. That is, after the waiting period the former husband will be on the same footing as any other suitor (Qurtubi).
    3. The husband is required by the law to provide for his wife, exactly in the same manner as before, during the period of waiting. Also, she cannot be asked to vacate the house.
    4. According to the Hanabilah khul` is revocation (faskh) of the marriage contract and not talaq. Hence the pair can reunite later under new terms, even if the husband had divorced her twice earlier (Al Arba`ah). This is also the earlier opinion of Imam Shafe`i and one of the two opinions of Ahmad ibn Hanbal. However, according to Imam Malik, Abu Hanifa, and a later opinion of Shafe`i, it is just another kind of talaq (Shanqiti). Nevertheless, the scholars of these schools have set some more conditions depending on which it will be either talaq or faskh (revocation) - Al Arba`ah.
    5. It is highly repugnant that a man should pronounce the word talaq three times in one go, which entails irrevocable separation. The Prophet was extremely upset when someone did it during his time (Nasa`i: Ma`arif and others). Yet, and although against the Sunnah, the majority of scholars Hanafiyyah, Shafe`iyyah, Malikiyyah (and according to Imam Nawawi, even Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal: Ma`arif) treat it as three separate pronouncements even if the man did not mean it and said it only in anger. Ibn Taymiyyah and some later-day scholars declare it only one divorce. Triple talaq in one session (such as to say: You are divorced, you are divorced, you are divorced, or to say: "Your are divorced three times") were considered, according to a report of Ibn `Abbas, as one during the Prophet, that of Abu Bakr Siddiq and the first two or three years of `Umar's caliphate. But then cases of three pronouncements became common and `Umar changed the rule to treat it as three with the rest of the Companions not disagreeing with him (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, and others).
    The truth is that the majority opinion is stronger, that is, three pronouncements in one sitting (or one pronouncement of the three: Au.) will be treated as three separate pronouncements entailing final separation. Disagreeing with the ijma` of the Companions and ijma` of the ummah is not an easy matter indeed (Rawa'e`). There are reports, however, that show that even the Prophet (saws) treated three one sitting pronouncements as three only, and not as one. The hadith of Ibn `Abbas has not been properly understood (Ma`arif).
    6. Talaq during the menstrual period is innovative (talaq bida`i), but it is talaq all the same with all legal implications.
    7. There is general agreement among the legists that talaq pronounced in anger entails talaq (Al Arba`ah).
    The rules of talaq take many other factors into consideration. The above are only for a general understanding and not for specific application. It is advisable to consult a faqih in matters of divorce (Au.).

    وَالْوَالِدَاتُ يُرْضِعْنَ أَوْلَادَهُنَّ حَوْلَيْنِ كَامِلَيْنِ ۖ لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَنْ يُتِمَّ الرَّضَاعَةَ ۚ وَعَلَى الْمَوْلُودِ لَهُ رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسْوَتُهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ لَا تُكَلَّفُ نَفْسٌ إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ لَا تُضَارَّ وَالِدَةٌ بِوَلَدِهَا وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ لَهُ بِوَلَدِهِ ۚ وَعَلَى الْوَارِثِ مِثْلُ ذَٰلِكَ ۗ فَإِنْ أَرَادَا فِصَالًا عَنْ تَرَاضٍ مِنْهُمَا وَتَشَاوُرٍ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا ۗ وَإِنْ أَرَدْتُمْ أَنْ تَسْتَرْضِعُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا سَلَّمْتُمْ مَا آتَيْتُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۗ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ (233)

    2|233| Mothers may suckle their offspring two whole years. (This) for him who desires to go to the full length of the suckling period.493 It is for the father to provide and clothe them in a just manner.494 No soul is charged save to its capacity. Neither should a mother be made to suffer on account of her child nor he to whom the child was born.495 And the same is (incumbent) upon the heir.496 However, if the couple desire by mutual consent and consultation497 discontinuation then there is no blame upon them.498 Further, if you wish to get the child suckled (by a wet nurse), then there is no harm in that so long as you hand over in kindness what you (mutually) agree upon.499 Fear Allah and be aware that Allah sees all that you do.

    493. Ibn Kathir comments: A hadith preserved by Tirmidhi reports the Prophet as having said:

    عن أمّ سَلَمَةَ قالَتْ: قالَ رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم "لاَ يُحَرّمُ مِنَ الرّضَاعةِ إلاّ مَا فَتَقَ الأمْعَاءَ في الثّدْيِ، وكانَ قَبْلَ الفِطَامِ".

    "There is no suckling (with foster implications) save what reaches the intestine from the breast and after the child has been weaned." Hence any suckling after this maximum period of two years prescribed by the Qur'an, will have no legal implication (such as the woman becoming the foster mother, her daughters forbidden in marriage to the suckled, and so on). This is the opinion of the majority of scholars. The term majority of scholars (jumhur) itself is applicable to the four Imams, the seven fuqaha' of Madinah and the senior Companions of the Prophet. However, `A'isha (ra) was of the opinion that the laws of suckling are applicable even to grown up men.
    According to Imam Abu Hanifa, however, the age-limit is two and a half years (Razi).
    Legal Points
    1. The condition for suckling, for the enforcement of all legal implications, is that the child should have received a full feed from the breast. A drop or two will have no legal implication. (It is women's practice, at least in the East, to press a crying family child against their breast to pacify it, even if their breasts are dry: (Au.).
    2. In view of the hadith that suckling has no legal binding after the child has crossed two years of age, the majority of scholars believe that if the husband, overcome by emotions, happens to suck his wife's breast, their marital relationship is not affected.
    3. A woman in wedlock, or divorced but still in waiting, cannot demand separate payment for suckling her child (Arba`ah).
    4. According to the majority the mother is obliged to suckle her child, not because of an explicit injunction to this effect, but because of the age old customs and practices, the exception being (in the opinion of Imam Malik) the woman of the aristocratic class amongst whom it has been the practice throughout the ages to get the child nursed by others to free the ladies for activities more pleasing to their men (Qurtubi).
    5. According to the Hanafiyyah, it is not allowable that the child be given away to someone else for suckling if the mother is prepared to do it herself (Alusi).
    6. According to Imam Malik and Abu Hanifa, a divorced woman has greater right to the custody of the female child until the girl's marriage, and the male child until the age of eight when he will be given the choice between the father and the mother. However, all scholars agree that she loses this right if she remarries or disqualifies herself by other means such as overwhelming social activities, wandering habits, etc. (Qurtubi).
    7. According to the Hanafiyyah, Shafe`iyyah, and Malikiyyah a divorced woman who has completed her waiting period and is suckling a child born of her deserves to be paid by the father of the child, (or the heir) separately for: a) Suckling, b) Nursing (bringing up) and c) other expenses (of the child). However, Malikiyyah say that she need not be paid for the second item (i.e., nursing of the child) Al Arba`ah.

    494. That is, a sum fixed taking into consideration the needs of the woman, her social status and the financial strength of the child's father (Ibn Jarir).
    Allah (swt) said at another place (7: 65):

    لِيُنْفِقْ ذُو سَعَةٍ مِنْ سَعَتِهِ وَمَنْ قُدِرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقُهُ فَلْيُنْفِقْ مِمَّا آَتَاهُ اللَّهُ لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا مَا آَتَاهَا سَيَجْعَلُ اللَّهُ بَعْدَ عُسْرٍ يُسْرًا [الطلاق/7]

    "Let the man of means spend according to his means. As for him who is in straitened circumstances, let him spend from what Allah has given him. Allah does not charge a soul but within what He has bestowed. And soon Allah will cause ease after want" (Ibn Kathir).

    495. That is, neither should the child be given away for suckling to a wet nurse with the intention to cause grief to the divorced mother, nor should the divorced mother refuse to suckle the child merely to make the father suffer (the economic consequences) Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir. Nor should she demand as wages more than what she truly deserves, or he give her less than what she deserves (Kashshaf).

    496. Opinions vary over the identity of the "heir" alluded to: whether it is the heir of the deceased man, the blood kin of the deceased, one of the two parents, the heir of the child or the child itself (Qurtubi, Alusi, and others). Law books may be referred to for a detailed discussion (Au.).
    Following this injunction the Hanafiyyah and the Hanabilah argue that providing a destitute is the responsibility of the kindred which, in fact, is also the opinion of the majority of scholars (Ibn Kathir).

    497. The word used in the original is "tashawur." It has its root in "shawr," which is applied to the process of extracting honey from the honeycomb (Sabuni).
    It means to say that no unilateral decision should be taken about the child by either of the parents because it is possible that either the mother is wary of giving suck or the father is miserly (Alusi).

    498. Therefore, none of the parents can take a unilateral action regarding suckling or weaning of the child (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    499. It is possible that the divorced mother may not be able to give suck to the child, due to reasons of health, in which case the child may be suckled by a wet nurse, on wage, while the mother needs also to be provided for in a reputable manner (Ibn Jarir).

    وَالَّذِينَ يُتَوَفَّوْنَ مِنْكُمْ وَيَذَرُونَ أَزْوَاجًا يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنْفُسِهِنَّ أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ وَعَشْرًا ۖ فَإِذَا بَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا فَعَلْنَ فِي أَنْفُسِهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ (234)

    2|234| And those of you who die leaving behind their spouses, let them (the spouses) restrain themselves for four months and ten days.500 However, when they have attained their period there is no sin upon you in what they do with themselves in a reputable manner.501 Allah is well aware of what you do.

    500. However, this applies to the woman who is not pregnant. For one who is, the period of waiting before she can remarry is delivery of the child. This is in view of the verse 4 of surah al Talaq which says:
    وَأُولَاتُ الْأَحْمَالِ أَجَلُهُنَّ أَنْ يَضَعْنَ حَمْلَهُنَّ
    "The waiting period of the pregnant women (whose husbands have died) is delivery (of the child)." An incident also confirms this. It is reported by Abu Da'ud on the authority of Subay`ah bint Harath who says that she gave birth to a child fifteen days after the death of her husband Sa`d b. Khawla. When she was out of her confinement she applied cosmetics and came out well dressed. Somebody told her: 'Probably you intend to get married again. Well, you can't do it for four months and ten days.' She went straight to the Prophet who told her that with the delivery of the child she was out of the period of waiting. He advised her to get married if a good proposal came up (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Kashshaf, Ibn Kathir, Razi). The waiting period itself is to ascertain that the widow is not carrying child from the deceased husband (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir and others).
    The status of women in pre Islamic Arabia can be judged from the hadith quoted by Ibn Jarir here. Our mother Umm al Salamah (ra) reports that a woman in mourning came to the Prophet complaining that she had some problem in her eyes and wanted permission to apply kohl. The Prophet (saws) told her:

    "لقد كانت إحداكن تكون في الجاهلية في شر أحلاسها، فتمكث في بيتها حولا إذا توفي عنها زوجها، فيمر عليها الكلب فترميه بالبعرة ! أفلا أربعة أشهر وعشرا"

    "Was it not so in the pre Islamic times that a woman was supposed to mourn her husband's death for one year, wearing the most filthy dress she could? When a dog came near her in that state, she chased it away by throwing camel dung at it! (That was in the bygone days). Now the period of mourning is only four months and ten days."
    Legal Points
    1. A widow may not use perfumes, wear make up or put on attractive clothes for the full period of waiting. This is prohibited by several ahadith (Ibn Kathir). However, it is not necessary that she appear shabby as is the custom in certain societies (Au.). `A'isha (ra) used to say that she may not wear either white or black clothes during this period (Ibn Jarir).
    2. A widow in waiting should continue to live in her deceased husband's house, if he owned it; and, of course, if she is carrying child, then, until she has delivered the baby (Qurtubi). She may go out for errands during the day but may not spend a night outside (Ma`arif). Some scholars have expressed the opinion that she can also spend her waiting period in her own house if she wishes (Ibn Jarir and others).

    501. In saying: "And when they (the women) have attained their period there is no sin upon you (O men) in what they do with themselves in an honorable way," Allah (swt) has hinted that it is for men to prevent their women from committing unethical acts. They will be sinning if they do not (Alusi).
    Basing their opinion on this verse: the Hanafiyyah argue that a woman has the right to marry without the consent of her legal guardian (waliyy) Razi.
    Nonetheless, another rule worked out by the Hanafiyyah safeguards a gullible woman from shrewd men. It says that the waliyy can seek separation through the courts if he feels that the girl has married a wrong man.

    وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا عَرَّضْتُمْ بِهِ مِنْ خِطْبَةِ النِّسَاءِ أَوْ أَكْنَنْتُمْ فِي أَنْفُسِكُمْ ۚ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ أَنَّكُمْ سَتَذْكُرُونَهُنَّ وَلَٰكِنْ لَا تُوَاعِدُوهُنَّ سِرًّا إِلَّا أَنْ تَقُولُوا قَوْلًا مَعْرُوفًا ۚ وَلَا تَعْزِمُوا عُقْدَةَ النِّكَاحِ حَتَّىٰ يَبْلُغَ الْكِتَابُ أَجَلَهُ ۚ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي أَنْفُسِكُمْ فَاحْذَرُوهُ ۚ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٌ (235)

    2|235| And there is no harm in the hints of proposal that you may send to the (widowed) women or conceal (such intentions) in your heart. Allah knows that you will remember (and talk to) them. Yet, do not make firm promises of marriage,502 save that you say something honorable. But do not resolve upon the marriage tie until the prescribed term (of waiting) has been completed.503 And be aware that Allah knows what is in your hearts, therefore, beware of Him and know that Allah is All forgiving, All clement.

    502. What is meant by the original words "La tuwa`idu hunna sirran?" According to Abu Mijlaz, Abu Sha`sa, Jabir b. Zayd, Hasan al Basri, Ibrahim Nakha`i, Qatadah, Dahhak, Rabi` b. Anas, Sulayman al Taymi, Muqatil b. Hayyan and Suddi, the meaning is: "Do not commit adultery with them." Ibn Jarir (and on his authority Ibn Kathir also), prefers this meaning. However, Zamakhshari argues that although it is correct that "sirran" normally implies sexual intercourse, here it has been employed in the sense of marriage and hence it will mean, "Do not make marriage promises." This is also the meaning stated in the Jalalayn. Yet, there seems to be room for the meaning commonly adopted by the modern translators viz., "Do not make secret promises," though not as commonly preferred by the classical commentators (Au.).

    503. The meaning is that a direct proposal may not be made to a woman in waiting. Rather, one may reveal his intention by saying things like: 'Be of good cheer, you will be taken care of,' or, 'I hope to find a suitable partner for myself and you are a pretty woman,' or say to her guardian, 'Do not forget to talk to me when you receive a proposal for her,' etc. (Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Sa`id b. Jubayr: Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). According to Ibrahim Nakha`i, he can even send her gifts (to reveal his intention) Ibn Jarir.

    لَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِنْ طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ مَا لَمْ تَمَسُّوهُنَّ أَوْ تَفْرِضُوا لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً ۚ وَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ عَلَى الْمُوسِعِ قَدَرُهُ وَعَلَى الْمُقْتِرِ قَدَرُهُ مَتَاعًا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۖ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُحْسِنِينَ (236)

    2|236| There is no sin upon you that you divorce women you have not (yet) touched,504 nor have settled a dower upon them.505 However, bestow (gifts) on them: upon the affluent according to his resources while upon the straitened according to his resources a gift (made) in an honorable manner, due from those who do things well.

    504. What is meant here by the words: "women you have not touched" is "women with whom you have not consummated the marriage." Nonetheless, some fuqaha' make a difference between a man and woman coming together in complete privacy, (known as khalwah) and actual consummation of marriage. Accordingly, rules governing the two situations can be different (Au.).

    505. Imam Razi points out that the verse proves by implication that marriage without agreeing upon the exact sum of the dower is perfectly legal.

    وَإِنْ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ تَمَسُّوهُنَّ وَقَدْ فَرَضْتُمْ لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً فَنِصْفُ مَا فَرَضْتُمْ إِلَّا أَنْ يَعْفُونَ أَوْ يَعْفُوَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ عُقْدَةُ النِّكَاحِ ۚ وَأَنْ تَعْفُوا أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۚ وَلَا تَنْسَوُا الْفَضْلَ بَيْنَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ (237)

    2|237| However, if you divorce them before you consummate (the marriage) but have settled upon them a dower, then (the due is) one half of what you have settled, unless they (the women) forgive (their half) or he forgives (his half) in whose hand is the knot of marriage506 (i.e., the husband).507 Should you forgive, then, that is nearer to piety. Therefore, forget not generosity (while dealing) with each other. Verily, Allah is aware of what you do.508

    506. The opinion of a minority of scholars is that by the words, "He forgives in whose hand is the knot of marriage," the allusion is to the guardian of the virgin girl who can use his discretion and forgive the husband the one half of the dower receivable. This is the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Hasan and `Alqamah and the earlier opinion of Qadi Shurayh, Ta'us and Mujahid before the last three retracted their opinion and said that it is the husband who has been alluded to. However, the majority opinion is that the allusion is to the husband since it is he who holds the tie of marriage (Ibn Jarir).

    507. The idea for the words in parenthesis here has been taken from Zamakhshari (Au.).
    Thus there are four kinds of divorces, each with its own ruling so far as the dower is concerned.
    1. A marriage in which the dower was not fixed and which was not consummated: Nothing is obligatory save that the husband ought to offer some gifts in accordance with his means.
    2. A marriage in which the dower was fixed but the marriage was not consummated: Due in this case is one half of the dower agreed by the two parties.
    3. A marriage in which the dower was not fixed but the marriage was consummated: Due is the dower in accordance with the status of the woman (mahr al mithl).
    4. A marriage in which the dower was fixed and the marriage was consummated: Due is what was mutually agreed upon (Qurtubi, Razi and Alusi).

    508. It is reported of Jubayr bin Mut`im that once he visited Sa`d b. Abi Waqqas. Sa`d proposed that he marry his daughter. He agreed and the marriage took place then and there. But when he went back he divorced her and sent her dower in full. He was asked: "Why did you marry her in the first place?" He replied: "Because he proposed and I did not like to say no." He was asked: "But why did you send the dower in full?" He replied: "What about generosity?" (Zamakhshari). He was referring to the "fadl" of this verse (Au.).
    `Ali ibn abi Talib said:

    "سَيَأْتِي عَلَى النّاسِ زَمَانٌ عَضُوضٌ يَعَضّ المُوسِرُ عَلَى مَا في يَدَيْهِ وَلَمْ يُؤْمَرْ بِذَلِكَ، قالَ الله تَعَالَى: {وَلاَ تَنْسَوُا الْفَضْلَ بَيْنَكُمْ} وَيُبَايِعُ المُضْطَرّونَ، وَقَدْ نَهَى النّبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عنْ بَيْعِ المُضْطَرّ وَبَيْعِ الْغَرَرِ وَبَيْعِ الثّمَرَةِ قَبْلَ أنْ تُدْرِكَ".

    "A time will come when tenacity will be of a high order. In those times a man of means will hold fast to what he has in his hands although he has not been commanded that, while Allah has said, 'And forget not generosity with each other.' The people would deal with the most desperate to trade with, while the Prophet has prohibited dealings with the most desperate, from trading in the unknown (commodities) and from fruit that is not yet ready (on the trees)" (Ibn Kathir). The report is from Abu Da'ud but which has a weak chain, as judged by Mundhiri in `Awn al-Ma`bud (Au.).

    حَافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ وَالصَّلَاةِ الْوُسْطَىٰ وَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ قَانِتِينَ (238)

    2|238| Guard the (daily) Prayers509 and (especially) the Wusta510 Prayer, and stand before Allah in all humility.

    509. A hadith preserved by Bukhari and Muslim has Ibn Mas`ud saying that he asked the Prophet (saws):

    سَأَلْتُ رَسُولَ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: أَيّ الأَعْمَالِ أَحَبّ إِلَى اللّهِ؟ قَالَ: "الصّلاَةُ عَلَى وَقْتِهَا" قُلْتُ: ثُمّ أَيّ؟ قَالَ "ثُمّ بِرّ الْوَالِدَيْنِ" قُلْتُ: ثُمّ أَيّ؟ قَالَ "ثُمّ الّجِهَادُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ" قَالَ: حَدّثَنِي بِهِنّ، وَلَو اسْتَزَدْتُهُ لَزَادَنِي.

    "What deed is the most virtuous?" He answered, "Prayers at their appointed hours." I asked him: "Which one after that?" He replied: "Treating the parents well." I asked: "Which one after that?" He replied, "Jihad in the way of Allah." Ibn Mas`ud adds, "Had I asked him for more he would added to the list" (Ibn Kathir).
    What is the connection between the injunctions dealing with women's rights and Prayers? Mawdudi writes: "Having mentioned the laws for the guidance of human society, God rounds off this address by emphasizing Prayer, for it is Prayers which instill in man the fear of God. They inculcate the feelings of goodness and purity and the disposition to obey the ordinances of God, and foster adherence to righteousness. Without Prayer it would be impossible for men to persist in observing the laws of God, and they are likely to be swept away by a current of defiance and disobedience, as happened in the case of the Jews."
    Asad adds: "In accordance with the system prevailing throughout the Qur'an, any lengthy section dealing with social laws is almost invariably followed by a call to God consciousness (taqwa: Au.): and since God consciousness comes most fully to its own in prayer, this and the next verse are interpolated here between injunctions relating to marital life and divorce."
    Imam Razi has his own point. He says: While ordering us to guard the Prayers, Allah (swt) used the form in Arabic which is used for two persons participating in an act. "Qaatala" for instance would imply that there are two persons who fought with each other. Therefore, "haafaza" would imply that the act of guarding is being performed by two parties. One of them is the Muslim? Who is the other? There are two possibilities. First, Allah is the other, guarding the devotee against various calamities while the man himself takes good care of the Prayers. Second, the Prayers guard him. And the Prayers guard in at least three ways. One, they guard him against committing sins as Allah said (45:29):
    إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ [العنكبوت/45]
    "Indeed Prayers come in the way of the obscene and the unseemly (things)." Second, they guard him against various ordeals, as Allah said ():

    اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ [البقرة/153]

    "Seek help with Prayers and Patience." And third, they will guard him from the Fire on the Day of Judgment, since one who Prays, recites a lot of Qur'an and, as we know, the Qur'an will intercede on the Day of Judgment.

    510. Ibn Kathir writes: Authorities are at variance over the Prayer that is alluded to by the words "Salaut al Wusta." Opinions range as far and wide as to cover (a) each of the five daily Prayers, (b) all five of them combined, (c) none of them in specific, and (d) even the Friday and (e) `Eid Prayers. However, based on the number of scholars behind them, the opinions narrow down to Fajr and `Asr Prayers. Further, between the two the `Asr Prayer seems to be the most favored.
    Fajr Prayer: According to a report in Al Muwatta of Imam Malik `Ata' al `Utaradi once performed his Fajr Prayers with Ibn `Abbas who did the qunut (supplication in the sate of Qiyam). Then he turned around and said, 'This is the Salatu al Wusta.' Abu al `Aliyyah reports a similar incident involving Ibn `Abbas in the mosque of Basra. This also seems to be the opinion of Ibn `Umar, Abu Umamah, Anas, Abu al `Aliyyah, `Ubayd b. `Umayr, `Ata', Mujahid, Jabir b. Zayd, `Ikrimah and Rabi` b. Anas. This is the opinion of Imam Shafe`i too. It is said that it has been called Salatu al Wusta (the middle Prayer) because it falls between two Prayers (`Isha and Zuhr) which are four rak`ah each, shortened to two in a journey, while the Fajr Prayer is two rak`ah and is not shortened. It is also said that the reason is that it falls between two Prayers in which the Qur'an is recited loudly, i.e., Maghrib and `Isha, and two Prayers in which the recitation is not loud, i.e., Zuhr and `Asr.
    `Asr Prayer: Tirmidhi and Baghawi have said that the opinion of the great majority of Companions and scholars of later period is that it is the `Asr Prayer which is the Wusta Prayer. Qadi al Mawardi has said that this is the opinion of the great majority of the Tabe`iyyun (Followers).
    The latter has in fact devoted a whole book to this subject in which he has presented no less than 39 different opinions, but eventually settles on `Asr Prayer as the Wusta Prayer: Tuhfatu al Ahwadhi.
    Ibn `Abdul Barr says this is the opinion of the great majority of the Traditionists (Ahl al Athar). Ibn `Atiyyah has said in his tafsir that this is the opinion of the majority of the scholars. Hafiz Abu Muhammad has reported in his book on this subject that it is the `Asr Prayer in the opinion of `Umar, `Ali, Ibn Mas`ud, Abu Ayyub, `Abdullah ibn `Amr, Samurah b. Jundub, Abu Hurayrah, Abu Sa`id, Hafsa, Umm Habibah, Umm Salamah, Ibn `Umar, and, the correctly traced opinion of Ibn `Abbas, and `A'isha (may Allah be pleased with them all). Such is also the opinion of `Ubaydah, Ibrahim Nakha`i, Razin, Zir b. Hubaysh, Sa`id ibn Jubayr, Ibn Sirin, Qatadah, Dahhak, Hasan, Muqatil, `Ubayd and others. This is also reported of Ahmad b. Hanbal ... and, according to Ibn al Mundhir, it is the opinion of Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad and Ibn Habib Maliki.
    They base their opinion on the hadith of Khandaq reported by `Ali in Bukhari, Muslim and others. It says that one day during the battle of the Trench (khandaq) the assault by the polytheists was so intense that the Prophet (saws) could not offer his `Asr Prayers until the sun set. The Prophet said in anger:

    مَلَأَ اللَّهُ قُبُورَهُمْ وَبُيُوتَهُمْ نَارًا كَمَا شَغَلُونَا عَنْ صَلَاةِ الْوُسْطَى حَتَّى غَابَتْ الشَّمْسُ وَهِيَ صَلَاةُ الْعَصْرِ.‏

    "May Allah fill their graves and homes with fire. They prevented us from the Wusta Prayer until the sun disappeared," and it was the `Asr Prayer." Eventually, he offered this Prayer after the Maghrib and before the `Isha Prayers.
    Yet another opinion is that the knowledge of the Wusta Prayer was withheld like the knowledge of the Qadr Night was withheld, in order that people may seek it in all the Prayers and do their utmost to achieve excellence in each of them.
    Quotation from Ibn Kathir ends here.
    Sa`id b. Mysayyib, the famous Tabe`i says: "The Companions of the Prophet were as much in disagreement over the Salatu al Wusta as these," he passed the fingers of one of his hand into those of the other" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Qurtubi, Alusi).
    Why is it so, seeing that the terms used in the reports in Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and other hadith collections are unambiguous? One answer is that the hadith of Khandaq did not reach everyone during or immediately after the Prophet's time leading to such variance in opinion. Later, with the spread of the hadith literature the `Asr Prayer came to be accepted by most scholars as the Wusta Prayer. In fact, Hafsa (ra) was so sure about it (Ibn Kathir and others), that she had the words Salatu al `Asr included in her personal copy of the Qur'an, either as an explanatory remark, or under assumption that it was part of the text. Moreover, the Companions of the Prophet were men of action and not theorizers. For them every Prayer was Wusta Prayer to each of which they applied themselves with equal zeal (Au.).

    فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ فَرِجَالًا أَوْ رُكْبَانًا ۖ فَإِذَا أَمِنْتُمْ فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَمَا عَلَّمَكُمْ مَا لَمْ تَكُونُوا تَعْلَمُونَ (239)

    2|239| However, if you are in fear then on foot or riding.511 But when you are in peace, then remember Allah as He taught512 you what you knew not.

    511. "This relates to the dangerous situation for instance that of war where, remaining for any length of time at one place would only increase the peril. In such an event, the obligatory prayers may be offered in any way that is feasible, even without consideration of the qiblah" (Asad).
    In addition to the permission to do the Prayers on foot, or on a beast (or a vehicle) through gestures, if necessary, Prayers have been shortened for situations of fear. The four rak`ah of the ordinary times, become two in a journey, and one in situations of fear. This is the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Hasan al Basri, Thawri and others (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). However, the shortening to one rak`ah is only when a congregational Prayer as specified by the Qur'an and explained in the ahadith is not possible (Ibn Jarir). Nevertheless, the majority of scholars believe that Prayers at times of fear are also shortened to two and not one (Razi).

    512. I.e., Offer the Prayers in their completeness and with the qiyam (standing), ruku` (bowing) and sujud (prostration) done properly. Reports also suggest that people used to say a few necessary words to each other during their Prayers until Allah (swt) revealed this verse. After this they were forbidden from speaking to each other while in Prayers. Once (following the old practice), when the Prophet (saws) was greeted while he was in Prayers, he did not answer. After terminating the Prayers he recited this verse (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    For further discussions see al-Nisa' note 272.

    وَالَّذِينَ يُتَوَفَّوْنَ مِنْكُمْ وَيَذَرُونَ أَزْوَاجًا وَصِيَّةً لِأَزْوَاجِهِمْ مَتَاعًا إِلَى الْحَوْلِ غَيْرَ إِخْرَاجٍ ۚ فَإِنْ خَرَجْنَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي مَا فَعَلْنَ فِي أَنْفُسِهِنَّ مِنْ مَعْرُوفٍ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ (240)

    2|240| As for those of you who (fear they may) die leaving behind wives, (they may make a) testament for the widows (specifying) a year's provision without being dislodged.513 However, if they depart (on their own), then there is no blame upon you in what they do with themselves honorably. And Allah is Powerful and Wise.

    513. According to the great majority, who base their opinion on a report in Bukhari, this verse has been abrogated by the verses preceding it. However, the opinion of Ibn `Abbas is that it has been abrogated by those verses of surah al Nisa' which deal with inheritance. Abu Musa al Ash`ari, Ibn Zubayr, Mujahid, Ibrahim, `Ata', Hasan, `Ikrimah, Qatadah, Dahhak, Zayd ibn Aslam, Suddi, Muqatil, `Ata' al Khurasani, and Rabi` b. Anas also hold the opinion that this verse is abrogated. Ibn Zubayr asked `Uthman ibn `Affan at the time the Qur'an was being compiled as to why the verse should be included at all if it was abrogated. `Uthman's answer was: "Brother. I am not going to remove anything from its place." What he meant was that this was a matter of Divine judgment (amr tawqifi) and not a thing for humans to meddle with (Ibn Kathir).
    A minority opinion is that there has been no abrogation and that the husband can still make a testament to the effect that his widow be provided for a year and not expelled from the house for that period; although the injunction about the testament is not obligatory (Ibn Jarir).

    وَلِلْمُطَلَّقَاتِ مَتَاعٌ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۖ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُتَّقِينَ (241)

    2|241| And for the divorced (of every category) is a bestowal in a suitable manner; an obligation on the godfearing.

    كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ (242)

    2|242| Thus does Allah make clear His signs to you in order that you may reflect.

    أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ خَرَجُوا مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ وَهُمْ أُلُوفٌ حَذَرَ الْمَوْتِ فَقَالَ لَهُمُ اللَّهُ مُوتُوا ثُمَّ أَحْيَاهُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَشْكُرُونَ (243)

    2|243| Have you not heard of those who abandoned their homes although they were in their thousands for fear of death?! Whereupon Allah said unto them: ‘Die.' Subsequently He brought them to life. Verily Allah is full of bounty for the people, but most people do not give thanks.514

    514. Without a hadith on the subject, it is difficult to say what historical incident the Qur'an is referring to. The classical commentators offer the following as their comment.
    Sa`id b. Jubayr reports Ibn `Abbas as having said that these were four thousand in number who were fleeing from plague (or jihad: Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Alusi, Zamakhshari from Ibn `Abbas). They said, 'We shall go to a land where death will not overtake us.' When they had reached the intended destination, Allah (swt) ordered: "Die." They fell dead. Some time later a prophet happened to pass by their remains. He prayed to Allah that they be given a new life. Allah restored them to life. According to some the prophet was: Hizqil (Ezekiel of the Old Testament: Au.) Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and others).
    As for the modern interpretation that the dying and bringing back to life allude to the wandering of the Israelites in the desert for forty years, suffice it to say that it has no basis either in idion or in tradition. It is entirely conjectural (Au.).
    Plague
    With reference to plague, Ibn Kathir reports a hadith from Musnad Ahmad and Sahihayn the substance of which is that when `Umar ibn al Khattab (ra) arrived in Syria for inspection, he met Abu `Ubaydah ibn al Jarrah and his companions who informed him that plague had struck the Syrian region. Abdul Rahman ibn `Awf appeared and told him: "I know something about this. I have heard the Prophet (saws) say, 'If it breaks out in a place then, if you are there, do not run away; but if you are not there, do not go there either.'" `Umar thanked Allah and left the place. (Abu `Ubaydah objected to `Umar going away saying, 'Are you running away from the qadr [the Divine Decree] of Allah? `Umar replied, 'I wish it was not you who said that. Yes, (I am running away) from Allah's qadr to Allah's qadr': Qurtubi).
    What the above report tells us is that a time is allotted to each individual. No one can die before completing his term. There is no escape from qadr nor from Allah save towards Allah. Therefore, there is no point in running away from a place where an epidemic has struck. This of course, adds Ibn Kathir, is also applicable to jihad (during which a lot of people die, but they would any way, even if they did not participate in it: Au.)
    Zamakhshari adds: "After all one has to die; so why not in the way of Allah?"
    Accordingly, Allah said (Ibn Jarir) in the following verse:

    وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ [البقرة/244]

    "Fight in the way of Allah, and know that Allah is the All seeing, the All knowing."
    He also said at another place (3: 168):

    الَّذِينَ قَالُوا لِإِخْوَانِهِمْ وَقَعَدُوا لَوْ أَطَاعُونَا مَا قُتِلُوا قُلْ فَادْرَءُوا عَنْ أَنْفُسِكُمُ الْمَوْتَ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ [آل عمران/168]

    "Those who told their compatriots, while they themselves remained behind, 'Had they listened to us they would not have been killed.' Tell them, 'Stave off death from yourselves, if you are true.'" And, at another place (4: 77,78):

    رَبَّنَا لِمَ كَتَبْتَ عَلَيْنَا الْقِتَالَ لَوْلَا أَخَّرْتَنَا إِلَى أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ قُلْ مَتَاعُ الدُّنْيَا قَلِيلٌ وَالْآَخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِمَنِ اتَّقَى وَلَا تُظْلَمُونَ فَتِيلًا (77) أَيْنَمَا تَكُونُوا يُدْرِكُكُمُ الْمَوْتُ وَلَوْ كُنْتُمْ فِي بُرُوجٍ مُشَيَّدَةٍ [النساء/77، 78]
    "They said, `O Lord! Why did You prescribe fighting for us? Why did You not give us a respite?' Tell them, 'This world's pleasures are meagre. The Hereafter is better for him who fears Allah. And you shall not be wronged. Wherever you might be, death will overtake you, even if you were in fortified forts."
    It has also been reported to us that Allah's sword Khalid ibn Walid said in his death bed: "I have been through such and such dangerous situations. There is not a part of my body where there is no mark of injury. But look. I'm dying in this bed like a wild ass."
    Quotation from Ibn Kathir ends here.
    According to a report in Bukhari, the Prophet was asked about plague. He said:

    « الطَّاعُونُ رِجْسٌ أُرْسِلَ عَلَى طَائِفَةٍ مِنْ بَنِى إِسْرَائِيلَ أَوْ عَلَى مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ ، فَإِذَا سَمِعْتُمْ بِهِ بِأَرْضٍ فَلاَ تَقْدَمُوا عَلَيْهِ ، وَإِذَا وَقَعَ بِأَرْضٍ وَأَنْتُمْ بِهَا فَلاَ تَخْرُجُوا فِرَارًا مِنْهُ »

    "It is a punishment that was (originally) sent down upon the Israelites, or (he said) upon those before you. If you hear that it has struck a land, do not go there. But if you are there, then do not run away from there, trying to escape it." According to another hadith in Bukhari the Prophet (saws) said when enquired about plague:

    « أَنَّهُ عَذَابٌ يَبْعَثُهُ اللَّهُ عَلَى مَنْ يَشَاءُ ، وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ جَعَلَهُ رَحْمَةً لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ، لَيْسَ مِنْ أَحَدٍ يَقَعُ الطَّاعُونُ فَيَمْكُثُ فِى بَلَدِهِ صَابِرًا مُحْتَسِبًا ، يَعْلَمُ أَنَّهُ لاَ يُصِيبُهُ إِلاَّ مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَهُ ، إِلاَّ كَانَ لَهُ مِثْلُ أَجْرِ شَهِيدٍ »

    "It is a scourge that Allah sends down upon whomsoever He will. Now, Allah has made it a means of mercy for the believers so that there is no believer who stays put patiently in a place struck by plague, firmly believing that nothing will happen except that which has been preordained by Allah, but he will be rewarded in the same measure as a martyr." However, there is no difference in opinion between the scholars, that this is not applicable to the situation of the enemies of Islam overrunning a Muslim territory, or dacoits raiding a district in which circumstances the Muslims are allowed to move to places of safety. Also, if one leaves the area affected by plague, for reasons other than escape, then it should be permissible, in view of the words of the hadith which disallow the movement as a means of escape. Accordingly, we do not know of any Muslim scholar running away from plague (Qurtubi).

    وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ (244)

    2|244| Fight in the way of Allah,515 and know that Allah is the All hearing, the All knowing.

    515. The way of Allah: Imam Malik has said, 'Ways of Allah are many. There is not a "way of Allah" that is not fought for, or against, or in its cause. The noblest of these ("ways of Allah" for which one may fight), is Islam' (Qurtubi).

    مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يُقْرِضُ اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا فَيُضَاعِفَهُ لَهُ أَضْعَافًا كَثِيرَةً ۚ وَاللَّهُ يَقْبِضُ وَيَبْسُطُ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ (245)

    2|245| Who is it that will offer Allah a goodly loan516 so that Allah may increase it many fold?517 And Allah withholds and gives518 (whomsoever He wills);519 and it is to Him that you will return.520

    516. According to `Umar and some others of the Salaf, "Goodly loan" refers to what is spent in the way of Allah (Ibn Kathir).
    Goodly Loan
    Three points must be observed while spending: (i) It should be the best of what one possesses, (ii) it should be done to win Allah's approval and, (iii) it should not be with the intention of placing someone under an obligation.
    "The first is concerned with the thing itself that is being spent, the second is between the bestower and His Lord, and the third between the bestower and the bestowed upon" (Ibn al-Qayyim).

    517. The Qur'an itself says in verse 261 of this surah that Allah (swt) increases the reward of good deeds seven hundred fold. There are several ahadith, although some weak, but the combination of which makes the meaning acceptable, to the effect that Allah (swt) increases the reward of a good deed by a million or more times (Ibn Kathir).

    518. Since the "giving" and "withholding" are both means by which Allah reveals His Powers, both the "states" are commendable (and should be equally welcome to a believer) Thanwi.

    519. It is reported that once in Madinah the prices of commodities rose up sharply. The people came to the Prophet and suggested that he fix up the prices. He told them: "It is Allah who is the Bestower, the Withholder and the Provider. I hope to meet my Lord in a state in which no one will be complaining of a wrong done to him by me in matters of life or property" (Ibn Jarir).

    520. Ibn Abi Hatim has reported that when this verse: "Who is it that will offer Allah a goodly loan, so that Allah may increase (for him the reward) many fold," was revealed, Abu al-Dahdah al Ansari went to the Prophet and asked him:

    يا رسول الله إن الله يريد منا القرض؟ قال: "نعم يا أبا الدحداح". قال: أرنا يدك، قال: فناوله يده، قال: قد أقرضت ربي حائطي - وحائطه فيه ستمائة نخلة - فجاء يمشي حتى أتى الحائط وأم الدحداح فيه وعيالها، فنادى: يا أم الدحداح، قالت: لبيك، قال: اخرجي فقد أقرضته ربي. - رواه أبو يعلى والطبراني ورجالهما ثقات ورجال أبي يعلى رجال الصحيح.

    "Does Allah want a loan from us?" The Prophet said, "Yes. O Abu Dahdah." Abu Dahdah said, "Will you stretch your hand?" When the Prophet did that he said, "Be witness that I have lent my orchard to my Lord." (The transmitter of the report adds: "There were six hundred trees in that orchard"). Abu Dahdah then proceeded to the orchard and called Umm Dahdah and children without entering into it: "Come out O mother of Dahdah for I have lent this orchard to my Lord" (Ibn Jarir). (The version above is from Majma`). Ibn Marduwayh also reports this through `Umar (Ibn Kathir).

    أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الْمَلَإِ مِنْ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ مِنْ بَعْدِ مُوسَىٰ إِذْ قَالُوا لِنَبِيٍّ لَهُمُ ابْعَثْ لَنَا مَلِكًا نُقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۖ قَالَ هَلْ عَسَيْتُمْ إِنْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ أَلَّا تُقَاتِلُوا ۖ قَالُوا وَمَا لَنَا أَلَّا نُقَاتِلَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَقَدْ أُخْرِجْنَا مِنْ دِيَارِنَا وَأَبْنَائِنَا ۖ فَلَمَّا كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقِتَالُ تَوَلَّوْا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِنْهُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالظَّالِمِينَ (246)

    2|246| Have you not heard of the elders of the Children of Israel after Musa? When they said to a Prophet of theirs,521 ‘Appoint a king over us so that we may fight (under his command) in the way of Allah'522 He replied, ‘Is it possible that if fighting is prescribed for you, you will not fight?' They said: ‘What will prevent us from fighting in the way of Allah when we have been expelled from our homes and (separated from our) offsprings?'523 But when fighting was prescribed for them they turned away save for a few of them. And Allah knows best the transgressors.

    521. It is said that the Prophet referred to was either Sham`un (Simon) or Shamwil (Samuel) Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir.
    As for Talut, he is Saul of the Bible (Au.).

    522. This request was made by the Israelites when their enemies defeated them in battle after battle, expelled them from their homes and enslaved their children (Ibn `Abbas: Ibn Jarir).

    523. "Obviously, a reference to the many invasions of their homelands by their perennial enemies, the Philistines, Amorites, Amalekites and other Semitic and non Semitic tribes living in and around Palestine; and, by implication, a reminder to the believers of all times that 'fighting for God's cause' (as defined in the Qur'an) is an act of faith" (Asad).

    وَقَالَ لَهُمْ نَبِيُّهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ بَعَثَ لَكُمْ طَالُوتَ مَلِكًا ۚ قَالُوا أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ عَلَيْنَا وَنَحْنُ أَحَقُّ بِالْمُلْكِ مِنْهُ وَلَمْ يُؤْتَ سَعَةً مِنَ الْمَالِ ۚ قَالَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَاهُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَزَادَهُ بَسْطَةً فِي الْعِلْمِ وَالْجِسْمِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ يُؤْتِي مُلْكَهُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ (247)

    2|247| Their prophet told them, ‘Verily Allah has appointed over you Talut a king.' They objected, ‘How can kingship be for him over us when we are more deserving of kingship than he?524 nor has he been given abundant wealth.' He replied, ‘It is Allah who has chosen him above you. Further, He has given him a decisive edge over you in knowledge and physical strength.525 And Allah bestows His sovereignty upon whomsoever He will. Allah is All Embracing, All Knowing.'

    524. It is said that of the twelve tribes of the Israelites, one, Yehuda, was known for producing prophets and the other, Levi, for producing rulers. Talut was from neither of them. He was a Benjamite (Ibn `Abbas, Suddi, Qatadah, Dahhak, Wahab b. Munabbih Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    The verse implies that imamah is not necessarily hereditary (Razi).

    525. Having had an edge over them in physical prowess did not necessarily mean Talut was tall and robust. It implies rather that he was endowed with power and courage. As for example, the Prophet told his wife: "First to join me would be the one with the longest arm." His wives began to measure each other's arms. But the first to die after him was Zaynab (ra) who used to work with her hands and was the most generous of hand (Qurtubi).

    وَقَالَ لَهُمْ نَبِيُّهُمْ إِنَّ آيَةَ مُلْكِهِ أَنْ يَأْتِيَكُمُ التَّابُوتُ فِيهِ سَكِينَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَبَقِيَّةٌ مِمَّا تَرَكَ آلُ مُوسَىٰ وَآلُ هَارُونَ تَحْمِلُهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ (248)

    2|248| Their Prophet also told them, ‘The sign of his kingship is that the Chest526 will come back to you wherein is sechina527 from your Lord and a remnant of what the family of Musa and the family of Harun left behind: the angels bearing it. Verily in this is a sign for you if you are believers.'

    526. The following has been reported about the Tabut.
    The Tabut
    According to Jewish sources, this was a wooden chest lined with gold. It contained, according to Ibn `Abbas, the rod of Musa (saws) and the Tablet on which the Law was originally written. Qatadah, Suddi, `Ikrimah and Abu Saleh add to the list a copy of the Tawrah, some mann, and clothes worn by Musa and Harun, peace be upon them. The Israelites carried it into the battlefields as a source of comfort and blessing. (When religious and moral perversion became rampant: Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Zamakhshari), they lost it to their enemies (according to one report, Amalekites: Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Jarir). There are two opinions about how it came back. Ibn `Abbas is reported to have said that it was brought down by the angels from the heavens right into the midst of the Israelites. Another version is that those who had captured it took it to Jericho and placed their idols on it. One day they found their idols fallen down and broken. They attributed this to the casket and putting it on a bullock cart pushed it on the road leading to the Israeli settlements and there onwards angels took charge (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi, Zamakhshari). Ibn Jarir adds: "I am told that the rod and the casket are buried in Tabariyyah (a lake in Palestine), and that they will be excavated before the end of the world."

    527. The verbal meaning of the word Sechina is peace or comfort. Yet Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir (and others) offer various interpretations, probably of Jewish origin.

    فَلَمَّا فَصَلَ طَالُوتُ بِالْجُنُودِ قَالَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مُبْتَلِيكُمْ بِنَهَرٍ فَمَنْ شَرِبَ مِنْهُ فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي وَمَنْ لَمْ يَطْعَمْهُ فَإِنَّهُ مِنِّي إِلَّا مَنِ اغْتَرَفَ غُرْفَةً بِيَدِهِ ۚ فَشَرِبُوا مِنْهُ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِنْهُمْ ۚ فَلَمَّا جَاوَزَهُ هُوَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ قَالُوا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا الْيَوْمَ بِجَالُوتَ وَجُنُودِهِ ۚ قَالَ الَّذِينَ يَظُنُّونَ أَنَّهُمْ مُلَاقُو اللَّهِ كَمْ مِنْ فِئَةٍ قَلِيلَةٍ غَلَبَتْ فِئَةً كَثِيرَةً بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ (249)

    2|249| When Talut set forth with his troops he told them, ‘Verily, Allah is going to test you at the stream.528 Whosoever drank from it, is not of me. But he who did not partake of it is of me, except for him who takes a sip out of his hand.' But, they drank from it (their fill) save for a handful of them.529 When he had crossed it along with those who had believed in him,530 they began to say, ‘We have no strength this day against Jalut and his forces.' But those who believed that they would meet their Lord exclaimed: ‘How many a small band overcame a big band, with the help of Allah?531 And Allah is with the patient.'532

    528. The intransigence and unreliability of the Israelites, despite clear signs, and their hostility towards their Prophets and rulers was well known. Allah, therefore, put them to test at the stream in order that those who were weak in faith and meager of patience could be distinguished and separated out before they met their mighty enemy in the battlefield (Qadi: Razi).

    529. "The symbolic implication is that faith and, thus, belief in the justice of one's cause has no value unless it is accompanied by heightened self discipline and disregard of one's material interests" (Asad).

    530. According to a report in Bukhari the forces with Talut numbered many thousands. But, after the crossing of the stream, as many were left as the Muslims were at Badr, i.e. three hundred and a few over ten. The rest were left behind (Ibn Jarir). The stream itself, according to one version, was a river between Jordan (city: Au.) and Palestine (i.e. river Jordan: Au.) Ibn `Abbas, Rabi`, Qatadah: Ibn Jarir).
    It may also be noted that just as the result of the historical battle at Badr, the result of the battle between the forces of Talut and Jalut also proved to be a decisive one. It led to the establishment of the powerful kingdom of David and Solomon (Au.).

    531. It seems it was the ordinary believers who were awed at being so overwhelmingly outnumbered by the enemy forces led by Jalut (Goliath of the Bible). Those that were strong in their faith were at peace and (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi) advised those who were losing heart not to look at numbers as Allah's help does not hinge on numbers, rather on who is fighting for a just cause (Ibn Jarir).

    532. Qurtubi, the Chief Justice of Spain, laments in the 13th century of the Christian era: Is this not what we are required to do? (i.e., courageously face our powerful enemies with faith and patience). But our ugly deeds combined with our unholy intentions deter us. In fact, our large forces get knocked out at the hands of a small force of the enemy as has repeatedly happened. This is because of what our hands have earned. Bukhari records Abu Darda' as saying, 'You fight with your deeds (as your arms).' The Prophet has said, 'Are you not fed and helped but because of your weaker sections (of the society)?' But our deeds are corrupt, the weaker sections disdained, patience is little, trust is gone and fear of Allah is lacking; while Allah has said, 'Verily Allah is with those who fear Him and those who do things well.'... These then are the factors that decide whether Allah's help will descend or not. And these are lacking in us. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji`un. Indeed nothing remains of Islam but its name, nor of the religion but appearances, because of the corruption that has dug deep, the increase in sins and rebellion, the deterioration in conduct, until our enemy has overpowered us everywhere: east and west, over land and sea. Hence trials have multiplied, tribulations have become severe and there is no one who has escaped but he with whom Allah has been merciful.

    وَلَمَّا بَرَزُوا لِجَالُوتَ وَجُنُودِهِ قَالُوا رَبَّنَا أَفْرِغْ عَلَيْنَا صَبْرًا وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وَانْصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ (250)

    2|250| So, when they came face to face with Jalut and his forces, they prayed, ‘O Lord, shower upon us patience,533 make firm our feet, and help us against the unbelieving people.'534

    533. The "afrigh" of the original suggests outpouring of a thing into a receptacle (Razi, Alusi).

    534. When our Prophet faced his enemies in the battlefield his prayer words used to be:

    اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّا نَجْعَلُكَ فِى نُحُورِهِمْ وَنَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شُرُورِهِمْ

    "O Lord, we entrust their throats unto You and seek Your refuge from their evil" (Razi, Alusi).
    Note the order in the verse under discussion: 'O Lord, shower upon us patience (and perseverance), make firm our feet, and help us against the unbelieving people.' Victory requires firmness. And patience is the pre requisite for firmness (Thanwi).

    فَهَزَمُوهُمْ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَقَتَلَ دَاوُودُ جَالُوتَ وَآتَاهُ اللَّهُ الْمُلْكَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَعَلَّمَهُ مِمَّا يَشَاءُ ۗ وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُمْ بِبَعْضٍ لَفَسَدَتِ الْأَرْضُ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ (251)

    2|251| Thereupon they routed them by Allah's will, and Da’ud slew Jalut. Allah gave him kingship and prophethood,535 and taught him what He willed.536 And, were not Allah to remove one set of people by means of another, the earth would be utterly corrupted,537 but Allah is bounteous upon all the beings.

    535. According to Jewish sources, Jalut was a huge and powerfully built man. He came out challenging a duel but no one responded. Talut announced that he would give his daughter in marriage to anyone who killed him. Da`ud, a young man, not yet a prophet, and not as massively built, accepted the challenge, fought him and killed him. In consequence he married Talut's daughter and thus entered the royal family inheriting the rule after Talut. Subsequently, Allah made him a Prophet also. Accordingly the "hikmah" of the original should be interpreted as "prophethood" (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Bayan).
    The account given both by the classical as well as modern commentators concerning Da`ud and Jalut (David and Goliath) heavily rely upon Biblical sources, (Samuel 1, Chap. 17 & 18), where fiction goes hand in hand with truth and hence we have dropped them out (Au.).
    Majid says: "Kingship is Islam is not incompatible with the highest spiritual achievements. It can co exist even with prophethood. In fact it is on occasions a special Divine reward an excellent opportunity to serve one's fellow creatures."
    Alusi and Razi add: It implies that knowledge (of revelation) and (an organized) government are the two basic requirements for bringing about peace in the land (Alusi, Razi).

    536. This could refer to the manufacturing techniques of armory, (Ibn Jarir) or the understanding of the language of the birds, (Qurtubi, Alusi), or even the knowledge of religion sent through revelation. The phrase itself was perhaps added to point out that no man not even a prophet can at any stage in his life dispense with knowledge (Razi).

    537. "That is, were not Allah to replace the wicked and the mischievous with the righteous and the rightly guided, the earth would be filled with mischief" (Majid).
    In the words of Mawdudi: "Were the dominion of one nation or party to endure for ever, and were its capacity to perpetrate wrongs granted perpetuity, God's earth would become full of corruption and wickedness."

    تِلْكَ آيَاتُ اللَّهِ نَتْلُوهَا عَلَيْكَ بِالْحَقِّ ۚ وَإِنَّكَ لَمِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ (252)

    2|252| These are the revelations of Allah that We recite to you with Truth and verily, you are of the Messengers.538

    538. These revelations of Allah are a clear proof of your messengership; otherwise, how could you, O Muhammad, being unlettered, relate these events of the past, in such detail and with such accuracy? (Ibn Jarir).

    تِلْكَ الرُّسُلُ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۘ مِنْهُمْ مَنْ كَلَّمَ اللَّهُ ۖ وَرَفَعَ بَعْضَهُمْ دَرَجَاتٍ ۚ وَآتَيْنَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَيَّدْنَاهُ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ ۗ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ مَا اقْتَتَلَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ وَلَٰكِنِ اخْتَلَفُوا فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ آمَنَ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ كَفَرَ ۚ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ مَا اقْتَتَلُوا وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَفْعَلُ مَا يُرِيدُ (253)

    2|253| Those (were) Messengers some of whom We preferred above others: to some Allah spoke (directly)539 while others He raised in rank.540 And We gave ‘Isa, son of Maryam, clear proofs, and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit.541 And, had Allah willed, those who succeeded them542 would not have fought one against the other after the evidences (of truth) had come to them but they differed among themselves, so that some of them believed and some of them disbelieved.543 Yet, had Allah willed they would not have fought one against the other, but Allah does what He will.544

    539. Adam, Musa and Muhammad (peace on them all) were cases in point with whom Allah spoke directly (Ibn Kathir, Shanqiti).

    540. Thus, prophets hold various status and ranks with Allah. This was demonstrated to our Prophet at the time of his nocturnal journey. He met them in various firmaments which indicated their status. A question arises: If the status of the prophets varies, why did our Prophet instruct us not to raise one prophet over the other? A hadith, for example, preserved by Bukhari and Muslim says,

    عَنْ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ بَيْنَمَا يَهُودِىٌّ يَعْرِضُ سِلْعَةً لَهُ أُعْطِىَ بِهَا شَيْئًا كَرِهَهُ أَوْ لَمْ يَرْضَهُ - شَكَّ عَبْدُ الْعَزِيزِ - قَالَ لاَ وَالَّذِى اصْطَفَى مُوسَى عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ عَلَى الْبَشَرِ. قَالَ فَسَمِعَهُ رَجُلٌ مِنَ الأَنْصَارِ فَلَطَمَ وَجْهَهُ - قَالَ - تَقُولُ وَالَّذِى اصْطَفَى مُوسَى عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ عَلَى الْبَشَرِ وَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- بَيْنَ أَظْهُرِنَا قَالَ فَذَهَبَ الْيَهُودِىُّ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فَقَالَ يَا أَبَا الْقَاسِمِ إِنَّ لِى ذِمَّةً وَعَهْدًا. وَقَالَ فُلاَنٌ لَطَمَ وَجْهِى. فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- « لِمَ لَطَمْتَ وَجْهَهُ ». قَالَ. قَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِى اصْطَفَى مُوسَى عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ عَلَى الْبَشَرِ وَأَنْتَ بَيْنَ أَظْهُرِنَا. قَالَ فَغَضِبَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- حَتَّى عُرِفَ الْغَضَبُ فِى وَجْهِهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ « لاَ تُفَضِّلُوا بَيْنَ أَنْبِيَاءِ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهُ يُنْفَخُ فِى الصُّورِ فَيَصْعَقُ مَنْ فِى السَّمَوَاتِ وَمَنْ فِى الأَرْضِ إِلاَّ مَنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ - قَالَ - ثُمَّ يُنْفَخُ فِيهِ أُخْرَى فَأَكُونُ أَوَّلَ مَنْ بُعِثَ أَوْ فِى أَوَّلِ مَنْ بُعِثَ فَإِذَا مُوسَى عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ آخِذٌ بِالْعَرْشِ فَلاَ أَدْرِى أَحُوسِبَ بِصَعْقَتِهِ يَوْمَ الطُّورِ أَوْ بُعِثَ قَبْلِى ». صحيح مسلم

    Once a Jew and a Muslim argued over some trade commodity when the Jew said, "No, by Him who chose Moses over the (people of the) world." An Ansari Muslim who heard him slapped him saying, "Do you say He chose Musa over the people, and over Muhammad?" The Jew complained to the Prophet. He was quite upset. He said: "Do not raise me above other Prophets; for on the Day of Judgment everyone will pass out. I will be the first to regain myself, and I will find Musa (saws) holding the `Arsh. Now, I don't know if Musa would not have lost his consciousness at all, or would have been spared because of what happened to him (when he desired to see Allah in Person) at Tur." (The tr. is shortened).
    The question, therefore, in view of the Qur'anic statement that there are ranks among the Prophets, remains to be answered. There can be several answers: a) The Prophet said this out of humility, b) The forbiddance is for situations of arguments, c) One should not seek to raise him above other prophets out of prejudice against them, and d) It is not for us to judge their status. It is for Allah to judge. For us, it is only obedience (Ibn Kathir).
    Following a hadith in which the Prophet mentioned himself as of the highest of rank among the sons of Adam, it is allowed that we refer to him as the best of Prophets and the most exalted of all the Messengers, making it a general statement. However, it is not allowed that we say he is better than so and so, specifically naming a prophet, or calling him inferior to our Prophet (Qurtubi). The best that has been said about the subject is that there is no difference among the prophets as prophets; being all equal in the qualities of prophethood. The difference among them is in their personal qualities as well as in their 'states' (Qurtubi, Shanqiti).

    541. "(He is) not the 'third person of Trinity' but the arch angel Gabriel, who was in constant attendance upon Prophet Jesus, and protected him a mere mortal from the wiles of his enemies" (Majid).

    542. That is, after Musa and `Isa (Qatadah, Rabi`: Ibn Jarir). However, it seems it is applicable to all the prophets whose succeeding generations generally quarreled among themselves after them (Qurtubi).

    543. "This, in a nutshell, has been the history of the prophets and their peoples. The moral for the holy Prophet of Islam is to derive comfort by contemplating on this uniform fact of history, and not to expect wholesale conversion" (Majid from Thanwi).
    Mawdudi elaborates: "God did not appoint the Prophets as policemen to force people to faith and obedience. He sent them, instead, with reasonable arguments and clear signs in order to invite people to righteousness. Hence the cause of all the differences and wrangling and fighting which took place was that people, in exercising the free will granted to them by God, followed divergent courses. In short, people follow divergent ways precisely because of God's omnipotent will that men should have a choice. It would be a grave misunderstanding to hold that people follow different paths because God failed to persuade people to follow the path which He wanted them to choose."

    544. Sayyid Qutb comments: "This fighting (between the people) did not take place against Allah's Will. Nothing can happen in this world without His Will. It was His Will that man's nature should be what it is ... with the capacity both for good as well as evil ... and that he should have the freedom to choose between right and wrong. Therefore, all that happens within his soul, all that he strives for and all that he achieves, fall within the scope of Allah's Will.
    "Further, the differences in capabilities between one individual and another are by the design of Allah ... and so is the diversity despite the unity of origin in order that these different capabilities may match with the different functions of khilafah (that the humankind has been entrusted with). Allah was not such as to make all the people a carbon copy of each other ... while the functions and responsibilities of khilafah on the earth, and the all round growth and development of life in it, was to take such varying and divergent forms. Indeed, when Allah (swt) wished diverse responsibilities for man, He also placed divergent capabilities in him, as a means of the completion and unification of the efforts towards realization of their goals. (But, instead, they chose to differ with these wide ranging faculties and took to quarrelling among themselves)."

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَنْفِقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يَأْتِيَ يَوْمٌ لَا بَيْعٌ فِيهِ وَلَا خُلَّةٌ وَلَا شَفَاعَةٌ ۗ وَالْكَافِرُونَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ (254)

    2|254| Believers! Expend of what We have provided you before a Day comes wherein shall be no buying (or selling) nor friendship nor intercession (will be of any use). The unbelievers indeed are the wrong doers.545

    545. `Ata' ibn Dinar has been quoted by Ibn Abi Hatim as saying: "Praise to Allah that He said, "The unbelievers are the wrong doers", and not, "The wrong doers are unbelievers" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    اللَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ ۚ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ ۚ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ ۚ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ ۖ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ ۚ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ ۖ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ (255)

    2|255| Allah! There is no deity but He: the Living,546 the Self subsisting by whom all subsist. Slumber does not overtake Him nor does sleep.547 To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth. Who is there that can intercede with Him save by His leave?548 He knows what lies ahead of them and what is behind them,549 while they comprehend not aught of His knowledge, save such as He wills. His Kursi550 extends over the heavens and the earth; and their preservation tires Him not. He is the Exalted, the Supreme.551

    546. The Living, i.e., the Eternal, who had no beginning and who will have no end. In other words, this is His Attribute and not the quality of He being alive (in the sense in which we understand life: Au.) Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi.

    547. Denial of slumber would not have meant denial of sleep and denial of sleep would not have included denial of slumber. Hence both had to be separately mentioned (Shawkani).
    "This repudiates the Jewish and Christian idea of God 'resting' on the seventh day after His great exertion in creating the universe. 'And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made' (Genesis 2: 2, 3)" Mawdudi

    548. The commentators have the following to say on intercession:
    Love and Intercession
    The denial of love and intercession in the Hereafter concerns the unbelievers. The sentiments of love between the believers will survive. Accordingly, they will intercede for each other with Allah's leave (Razi).
    The same thing (i.e. possibility of intercession only after leave has been granted: Au.) has been stated by the Prophet in the famous hadith known as the Hadith al Shafa`ah. He said:

    فَيَأْتُونِى فَأَسْتَأْذِنُ عَلَى رَبِّى فَيُؤْذَنُ لِى فَإِذَا أَنَا رَأَيْتُهُ وَقَعْتُ سَاجِدًا فَيَدَعُنِى مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ فَيُقَالُ يَا مُحَمَّدُ ارْفَعْ رَأْسَكَ قُلْ تُسْمَعْ سَلْ تُعْطَهْ اشْفَعْ تُشَفَّعْ. فَأَرْفَعُ رَأْسِى فَأَحْمَدُ رَبِّى بِتَحْمِيدٍ يُعَلِّمُنِيهِ رَبِّى ثُمَّ أَشْفَعُ فَيَحُدُّ لِى حَدًّا فَأُخْرِجُهُمْ مِنَ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلُهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ - صحيح مسلم

    “The people will come to me and I will proceed to seek my Lord’s permission. I will be granted leave. When I see Him, I will fall prostrate. He will allow me to remain in that state so long as He will. Then it will be said: 'Muhammad, raise your head and ask, you will be heard, and intercede, your intercession will be granted.' Then I will praise my Lord with words that He will reveal to me then. Thereafter I shall begin to intercede; but a limit will be set (about what kind of people it is for whom I could intercede). Consequently, I shall take them out of the Fire and usher them into Paradise" (Ibn Kathir).
    Ordinary believers will also be allowed to intercede for those Muslims they knew (Qurtubi).

    Quote some ahadith: ?????????????????/

    In contrast with the Islamic principle that salvation depends primarily on one's own faith and deeds, and intercession will only be allowed in favor of the deserving, who fell just short of the target, but were right on the track, the two preceding great religions, Christianity and Judaism, have both relied heavily on unlimited and unrestricted intercession for salvation. Majid quotes from Christian sources: "We were saved through the merit of one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ." ...
    And from the Jewish belief as stated in the Jewish Encyclopedia: "The Father who created the universe has given to His arch angel and most ancient Word a pre eminent gift to stand on the confines of both: while separating the created things from the Creator he pleads before the immortal God on behalf of the mortal race which sins continually, and is the ambassador sent by the Ruler to the subject race."

    549. Hakam, Mujahid, Ibn Jurayj and Suddi, however, believe that by the words ma bayna aydihim the reference is to this world and by ma khalfahum to Hereafter (Ibn Jarir).
    Asad writes: "Another interpretation is 'that which took place before them and that which will take place after them' (Zamakhshari). It would seem, however, that in all these interpretations the obvious meaning of the idiomatic expression ma bayna yadayhi ('that which lies open between one's hands') is lost sight of: namely, that which is evident, or known, or perceivable; similarly, ma khalfahu means that which is beyond one's ken or perception. Since the whole tenor of the above Qur'an verse relates to God's omnipotence and omniscience, the translation given by me seems to be the most appropriate." (Asad's rendering of the phrase is: "He knows all that lies open before men and all that is hidden from them:" Au.).
    But Majid agrees with the meaning that has come from the earliest scholars, phrasing it differently but succinctly. He writes about Ma bayna aydihim wa ma khalfahum: "That which is in front of them as well as that which is behind them, i.e. 'In point of space as well as in point of time.'"
    Yusuf Ali's comment is also close to it: "God's knowledge is absolute, and is not conditioned by Space or Time."
    It can both mean, they cannot know about anything save what He will, as well as, they cannot know about His Attributes and Qualities save what He will (Ibn Kathir).

    550. The word Kursiyy appears only once in the Qur’an while `Arsh has appeared several times (Au.).
    Ibn Abi Hatim reports Ibn `Abbas (who bases his judgment on the words that follow, viz., "their preservation does not tire Him": Ibn Jarir) as having said that the term Kursiyy signifies knowledge. (But Albani declared the report weak: no. 9, Al Ahadith al Sahihah: Au.).
    On the ot