Surat Al-Ĥaj

What is the Qur'an About?

Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma`ani
Syed Iqbal Zaheer

تفسير إِشراقُ المَعَاني
سيد إقبال ظهير


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?
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


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
Arba`ahal, Kitab al-Fiqh `ala Madhahib al-Arba`ah by Abdul Rahman al-Jaziri
Asad: The Message of the Qur’an by Muhammad Asad (d. 1412 A.H.)
`Awn al-Ma`bud: Sharh Sunan Abi Da’ud, Muhammad Shams al-Haq al-`Azimabadi.
`Ayni, `Umdatu al-Qari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, Badruddin `Ayni, Ihya al-Turath al-Islami, Beirut.
Bada’i`: Bada’i` al-Tafsir, Al-Jami` al-Tafsir al-Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, collected by Yusri Sayyid Muhammad, Dar Ibn Jawzi, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 1993
E.I.: Encyclopedia of Islam, E.J. Brill, Leiden 1991
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Haythami, , Majma`u al-Zawa’id wa Manba` al-Fawa’id, Nuruddin `Ali b. abi Bakr, Mu’assasatu al-Ma`arif, Beyrut.
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.
Ibn Qayyim: Al-Tafsir Al-Qayyim, by Shamsuddin Muhammad b. Abi Bakr Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (d.751 A.H.) collected by Muhammad Uways Al-Nadwi.
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.
Kanz: Kanz al-`Ummal,by Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi.
Lane: An Arabic-English Lexicon, by Edward Willian Lane, Librarie Du Luban, 1968
Lisan: Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manzur, (d. 711 A.H.).
Lughat: Lughat al-Qur’an (Urdu) by Mawlana Abdul Rashid No`mani & Mawlana Sayyid Abdud-Da’im Al-Jalali.
Ma`arif /Shafi`: Ma`arif al Qur’an by Mufti Muhammad Shafi` Deobandi (d. 1396 A.H.).
Majid: Holy Qur’an Translation and Commentary (English) by `Abdul Majid Daryabadi (1397).
Majidi: Holy Qur’an Translation and Commentary by `Abdul Majid Daryabadi (Urdu).
Manar, Tafsir al-Manar, Rashid Rada Misri, Dar al-Ma`rifa, Beirut.
Mawdudi/Tafhim: Tafhim al-Qur’an by Sayyid Abul A`la Mawdudi (d.1979 C.E.)
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.
Shabbir/`Uthmani: Al-Qur’an al-Karim, Commentary by Shabbir Ahmed `Uthmani (d. 1370 A.H.).
Shanqiti: Adwa‘ al-Bayan, Fi Idahi Al-Qur’an bi ‘l-Qur’an by Muhammad Al-Amin b.Muhammad Al-Mukhtar Al-Jakani Al-Shanqiti.
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

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.

“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.


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 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. 22

    Merits of the Surah

    . This Surah has remarkable characteristics. Its parts were revealed both in Makkah as well as in Madinah, both during travel as well as in town, both during the day as well as night, both during war as well as peace, contains both the abrogating as well as the abrogated verses, and, finally, has both “muhkam” as well as “mutashaabih” verses (Qurtubi). Further, this is the only Surah which has two recitation prostrations (sajda tilawah) as in the reports of Tirmidhi, Abu Da’ud, Ahmad and others (Alusi). The reports alluded to by Alusi and others have been questioned for their veracity, but there are several of them, some of which strengthen others (Ibn Kathir, under verse 18).

    بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ زَلْزَلَةَ السَّاعَةِ شَيْءٌ عَظِيمٌ (1)

    22|1| O people! Fear your Lord; indeed, the convulsion of the Hour will be a mighty thing.2

    2. When exactly will this be? According to some early commentators this will happen just before the Judgment Day is called. That is, at the last hours of this earthly life. Hence, mention of abortion in the verse that follows. Although the possibility remains, writes Razi, that this will happen on the day of Judgment itself, and that those females that died pregnant are resurrected pregnant, who will abort because of the mighty convulsions.
    Some others have said that the mighty convulsions will be followed by the sun rising from the West (Qurtubi).
    Scientifically, the explanation that immediately comes to mind for the sun to rise from the west, (although others are possible), is that a celestial object, such as a comet, or a stray planet from another orbital system, may pass by too closely, causing havoc on earth due to its powerful gravitational pull. Or it might actually crash into the earth, causing mass scale upheavals. In either case, the earth could slow down in its axial rotation, come to a complete halt and then, because of the celestial object being on the other side, or the gravitational pull of another object, reverse its rotation to allow the sun to rise from the West (Au.).

    يَوْمَ تَرَوْنَهَا تَذْهَلُ كُلُّ مُرْضِعَةٍ عَمَّا أَرْضَعَتْ وَتَضَعُ كُلُّ ذَاتِ حَمْلٍ حَمْلَهَا وَتَرَى النَّاسَ سُكَارَىٰ وَمَا هُمْ بِسُكَارَىٰ وَلَٰكِنَّ عَذَابَ اللَّهِ شَدِيدٌ (2)

    22|2| The Day you will behold it,3 every female giving suck will be distracted from her nursling,4 every pregnant (female) will abort her pregnancy, and you will see the people (as if) drunk although they will not be drunk, but rather, severe will be Allah’s chastisement.5

    3. “Behold it,” i.e., behold the convulsion (Qurtubi).
    4. The textual word “murdi`ah” is for a woman “with a baby at her breast,” that is, in the very act of breast feeding (Ibn Kathir and others).
    5. Ibn Jarir, who believes the allusion is to the convulsions of the Day of Judgment, records in support several reports of sum and substance as follows. It is said that these verses were revealed during a journey. The Prophet recited them and asked,

    ذَلِكَ يَوْمَ يَقُولُ اللَّهُ لِآدَمَ ابْعَثْ بَعْثَ النَّارِ فَقَالَ يَا رَبِّ وَمَا بَعْثُ النَّارِ قَالَ تِسْعُ مِائَةٍ وَتِسْعَةٌ وَتِسْعُونَ إِلَى النَّارِ وَوَاحِدٌ إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ قَالَ فَأَنْشَأَ الْمُسْلِمُونَ يَبْكُونَ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَارِبُوا وَسَدِّدُوا فَإِنَّهَا لَمْ تَكُنْ نُبُوَّةٌ قَطُّ إِلَّا كَانَ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهَا جَاهِلِيَّةٌ قَالَ فَيُؤْخَذُ الْعَدَدُ مِنْ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ فَإِنْ تَمَّتْ وَإِلَّا كَمُلَتْ مِنْ الْمُنَافِقِينَ وَمَا مَثَلُكُمْ وَالْأُمَمِ إِلَّا كَمَثَلِ الرَّقْمَةِ فِي ذِرَاعِ الدَّابَّةِ أَوْ كَالشَّامَةِ فِي جَنْبِ الْبَعِيرِ ثُمَّ قَالَ إِنِّي لَأَرْجُو أَنْ تَكُونُوا رُبْعَ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ فَكَبَّرُوا ثُمَّ قَالَ إِنِّي لَأَرْجُو أَنْ تَكُونُوا ثُلُثَ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ فَكَبَّرُوا ثُمَّ قَالَ إِنِّي لَأَرْجُو أَنْ تَكُونُوا نِصْفَ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ فَكَبَّرُوا قَالَ لَا أَدْرِي قَالَ الثُّلُثَيْنِ أَمْ لَا قَالَ هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ

    “Do you know what Day it is? They replied, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “That will be the Day when Allah will say to Adam, ‘Send forth delegates of the Fire?’” He will ask, “My Lord! Who are the delegates of the Fire?” He will reply, “Of every thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine to the Fire and one to Paradise.” At that the Companions began to weep. When he saw that, he added, “Be as close (to the ideal) as possible. There was never any Prophet but there was before him Jahiliyyah. So, the numbers will be taken from the Jahiliyy period and if that is not enough, they will be made up from the hypocrites. And, your example against those of other communities is not but like a mark on an animal’s side or a mole on the flank of a camel.” After that he further added, “I hope you will be one-fourth of the inhabitants of Paradise. They said, “Allah is Great.” He said, “Rather, I hope you will be one-third of the inhabitants of Paradise.” They said again, “Allah is Great.” He added, “Indeed, I hope you will be one-half of the inhabitants of Paradise.” They said, “Allah is Great.” The narrator said, |I am not sure whether he said two-thirds.”
    Tirmidhi and Nasa’i have similar reports, treating them as of Hasan Sahih qualities (Ibn Kathir).
    Bukhari and Muslim have another report. It records the Prophet as having said,

    يَقُولُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى يَا آدَمُ فَيَقُولُ لَبَّيْكَ وَسَعْدَيْكَ وَالْخَيْرُ فِي يَدَيْكَ فَيَقُولُ أَخْرِجْ بَعْثَ النَّارِ قَالَ وَمَا بَعْثُ النَّارِ قَالَ مِنْ كُلِّ أَلْفٍ تِسْعَ مِائَةٍ وَتِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ فَعِنْدَهُ يَشِيبُ الصَّغِيرُ {وَتَضَعُ كُلُّ ذَاتِ حَمْلٍ حَمْلَهَا وَتَرَى النَّاسَ سُكَارَى وَمَا هُمْ بِسُكَارَى وَلَكِنَّ عَذَابَ اللَّهِ شَدِيدٌ} قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَأَيُّنَا ذَلِكَ الْوَاحِدُ قَالَ أَبْشِرُوا فَإِنَّ مِنْكُمْ رَجُلًا وَمِنْ يَأْجُوجَ وَمَأْجُوجَ أَلْفًا

    “Allah will say on the Day of Judgment, ‘O Adam!’ He will reply, ‘Here I am O our Lord, Exalted be Thou.’ It will be said in a loud voice, ‘Allah commands you to bring out from your offspring those of the Fire.’ He will say, ‘My Lord! Who are “those of the Fire”’ He will say, ‘From every thousand’ – I think he said – ‘nine hundred, ninety nine.’? It is then that the pregnant will abort and children will turn old. (Then he recited): “And you will see people (as if) drunk, but they will not be drunk, but rather Allah’s chastisement will be great.”
    The people asked, “Which one of us would be that person?” He answered, “Be of good cheer for, for every one of you there will be a thousand of the Ya’juj and Ma’juj” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يُجَادِلُ فِي اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّبِعُ كُلَّ شَيْطَانٍ مَرِيدٍ (3)

    22|3| And yet among the people is such a one who disputes about Allah without knowledge and follows every rebellious Devil.

    كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ مَنْ تَوَلَّاهُ فَأَنَّهُ يُضِلُّهُ وَيَهْدِيهِ إِلَىٰ عَذَابِ السَّعِيرِ (4)

    22|4| Against whom it is written that whoever befriended him, surely he will misguide him, and lead him to punishment of the Blaze.

    يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِنَ الْبَعْثِ فَإِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ عَلَقَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ مُضْغَةٍ مُخَلَّقَةٍ وَغَيْرِ مُخَلَّقَةٍ لِنُبَيِّنَ لَكُمْ ۚ وَنُقِرُّ فِي الْأَرْحَامِ مَا نَشَاءُ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى ثُمَّ نُخْرِجُكُمْ طِفْلًا ثُمَّ لِتَبْلُغُوا أَشُدَّكُمْ ۖ وَمِنْكُمْ مَنْ يُتَوَفَّىٰ وَمِنْكُمْ مَنْ يُرَدُّ إِلَىٰ أَرْذَلِ الْعُمُرِ لِكَيْلَا يَعْلَمَ مِنْ بَعْدِ عِلْمٍ شَيْئًا ۚ وَتَرَى الْأَرْضَ هَامِدَةً فَإِذَا أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَيْهَا الْمَاءَ اهْتَزَّتْ وَرَبَتْ وَأَنْبَتَتْ مِنْ كُلِّ زَوْجٍ بَهِيجٍ (5)

    22|5| People! If you are in doubt about the resurrection, then (consider): We created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop, then from a clinging clot, then from (what resembles) chewed flesh6 - formed and unformed7– so that We might make manifest to you (Our power). And We settle in the womb what We will until an appointed term.8 Then We bring you out as infants, then (nurture you on) so that you might reach your full strength. Then, there are some of you who are caused to die (when old) while there are others who are returned to the most decrepit age so that he knows nothing after his knowledge.9 And you see the earth in ruin; then, when We send down upon it water, it quivers and swells, and puts forth every kind of beautiful (plant).

    6. The textual “mudgha” is explained by the linguist Zamakhshari as a piece of flesh of chewable size.
    7. Mujahid and Abu al-`Aliyyah have said that this refers to stillborn fetus which may take form (in the womb) or may not. However, Ibn Jarir believes that by “formed” the allusion is to what remains in the womb, acquiring its final shape while by “unformed” the allusion is to what is aborted and thrown out of the womb.
    On the same subject, Ibn Mas`ud has reported the Prophet (the hadith is in the Sahihyan: Ibn Kathir),

    إِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ يُجْمَعُ خَلْقُهُ فِي بَطْنِ أُمِّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ يَوْمًا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ عَلَقَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ يَكُونُ مُضْغَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ يَبْعَثُ اللَّهُ مَلَكًا فَيُؤْمَرُ بِأَرْبَعِ كَلِمَاتٍ وَيُقَالُ لَهُ اكْتُبْ عَمَلَهُ وَرِزْقَهُ وَأَجَلَهُ وَشَقِيٌّ أَوْ سَعِيدٌ ثُمَّ يُنْفَخُ فِيهِ الرُّوحُ

    “That which is to be created of you is collected together in his mother’s womb for forty days. Then it takes similar number of days to become a clinging clot, then like a chewed flesh in similar number of days, then Allah sends down an angel to write four things. He is ordered to write: his deeds, his sustenance, life-span, and whether he will be the lucky one or the wretched. Thereafter he blows the soul into him. Then the spirit is blown (Ibn Jarir).
    8. Others are aborted (Ibn Jarir).
    9. The Prophet used to seek Allah’s refuge from extreme old age. His words were:

    اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ الْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ وَالْجُبْنِ وَالْهَرَمِ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ فِتْنَةِ الْمَحْيَا وَالْمَمَاتِ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ عَذَابِ الْقَبْرِ

    “O Allah I seek Your refuge from powerlessness, indolence, cowardliness, and extreme old age and I seek Your refuge from the trials of life and death, and of the grave” (Qurtubi).
    The above report is found in several collections, with varying words, including Bukhari (Au.).
    The Qur’anic verse under discussion, and a few others are amazing description of the developments in the womb. A few details could be presented at this point. The following verses of Surah al-Mu’minun may also be kept in mind through and through the discussion (23: 12-14):

    وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ سُلَالَةٍ مِنْ طِينٍ (12) ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُطْفَةً فِي قَرَارٍ مَكِينٍ (13) ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنْشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ [المؤمنون : 12 - 14]

    “Surely, We created man from the quintessence of clay. Then We placed him as a sperm drop in a safe lodging. Then We fashioned the sperm drop into a leech like structure, then of that leech-like structure We made a chewed like substance. Then out of the chewed like substance We created the bones. Then We clothed the bones with flesh. Then We developed him into a new creation. So, blessed is Allah, the Best of creators.”
    Embryonic Development
    Until the development of powerful lenses, a couple of centuries ago, the common notion, in ancient Greece, as well modern Europe was that the male sperm carries a little child, which, when deposited into the womb develops into an adult. Women were thought to play no other role. A woman-Companion of the Prophet was surprised, therefore, when he told her that they too (that is, women) discharged other than the periodical blood. Prophetic sayings also confirm that both the discharges, male and female, play their roles in conception and creation of a new being. Probably, the Rabbis knew this prior to the Prophetic statement, for, it was they who had inquired how different sexes emerged. When the Prophet explained that women also discharged as men did, the Rabbis acknowledged that his answer was correct.
    According to another report, a Jew asked the Prophet:
    يَا مُحَمَّد مِمَّ يُخْلَقُ الإِنْسَانُ؟
    “(Answer me) O Muhammad, what is man created from?”

    قَال يَا يَهُودِي مِن كُلٍ يُخْلَقُ مِن نُطْفَةِ الرَّجُلِ وَمِنْ نُطْفَةِ المَرْأَة.

    He answered, “O Jew! He is created from every drop: from man’s drop as well as woman’s” (Musnad Ahmad).
    The Qur’an of course was clear and unambiguous about it. It said (Al-Insan, 2),

    إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الإِنْسَانَ مِن نُطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاج ٍ

    “Verily, We created Man from a mixture of germinal drop..”
    Science however, had to wait for the modern age to admit women’s role in conception.
    Every human female is born with enough fully developed eggs (ovum) already deposited in the ovary before birth. When puberty is attained, one ovum is discharged every month, at about the middle of each menstrual period. (Surprisingly, menstrual periods follow the moon cycle and not the solar cycle). The ovum waits for about two days in the oviduct (the Fallopian tube, outside the womb) for the sperm to arrive, and then withers off. Male ejaculation consists of 200 to 500 millions of spermatozoa. [A female egg is thousands of times larger than a sperm]. As against the egg, the male sperm is highly mobile and after discharge begins to swim inward. However, its own motility is not enough for its movement. Several kinds of vaginal fluid help it through, and in fact pull it up. It is possible that the Prophet was referring to this role of the female’s fluids when he said that women’s secretions, in addition to man’s ejaculation, play their roles in the creation and formation of a new human being. Or maybe he was referring to the role played by the female discharges, which activate processes that the embryologists refer to as “capacitation” – a process that takes about 7 hours. Without this process the sperm is incapable of penetrating the ovum wall.
    The process of human conception and later development is highly complex and it is difficult to say for certain what the language of religion is alluding to, from among a host of processes taking place at any time during, before, and after conception.
    In any case, the sperms swim through with the help of vaginal and other fluids to advance towards the waiting ovum. Only some make it to it and only one of them succeeds in penetrating through the ovum’s outer wall. Hence the Prophetic statement:

    مَا مِنْ كُلِّ المَاءِ يَكُونُ الوَلَد. (مسلم)

    “Not from all the fluid is the offspring created.” (Muslim).
    The fertilized ovum is closed for any other sperm, and begins to divide (replicate) while, at the same time, it starts moving backward. The first division into mother and daughter cells takes place in about 30 hours after the fertilization. The inward moving fertilized ovum (now referred to as a Zygote) leaves the Fallopian tube and enters into the womb (uterus) in about 5 days time. Once in, it clings to the wall of the uterus continuing to divide itself. All this goes on while the woman herself is unaware of what’s going on in her lower abdomen. It takes another week or so after the entry of the fertilized ovum into the womb to determine through tests a woman’s pregnancy, that is, roughly two weeks after fertilization. Until then, nobody - not even the woman herself - can know by any means whether she is pregnant. Hence the Qur’anic statement (31: 34):

    وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الأَرْحَام

    He (alone) knows what is in the wombs.”
    With the entry of the fertilized egg the mouth of the uterus closes off tightly. The developing human is now in a safe haven about which the Qur’an said (23: 13)

    ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُطْفَةً فِي قَرَارٍ مَكِين

    “Then We made him a drop in a place of settlement firmly fixed.”
    The newly fertilized fast developing Zygote lies protected behind three walls: (a) the abdominal wall, (b) uterine wall, and (c) the placenta. The Qur’an said about this (Al-Zumar, 6):

    فَيَخْلُقُكُم فِي بُطُونِ أُمَّهَاتِكُم خَلْقاً مِن بَعْدِ خَلقٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتٍ ثَلاث

    “He creates you in the wombs of your mothers from one stage to another and all along within three veils of darkness.”
    The major sex-determining factor takes place right at the moment of fertilization. Every human cell contains in the nucleus 46 chemical strands known as chromosome. They carry in coded form the data for construction of the entire human body. Before any cell of the body divides, it first doubles up its number of chromosomes to 46 and then divides up with each daughter cell containing exact replicates of 46 chromosomes. In theory therefore, it should be possible for a complete human to develop out of any given cell. However, there is an exception. It is in the reproductive cells. Both the male sperm and female ovum, which combine at fertilization, contain in their nucleus only 23 chromosome each. Both these cells are insufficient to build a human being. So, each contributes 23 chromosomes and fertilization results in completing the number to 46, and the progeny inherits traits of both parents.
    Now, the male sperm consists of two types of sex chromosomes. They are known as X and Y chromosome, while the female ovum carries only X type of sex chromosome. Now, if X chromosome sperm penetrates into the ovum and combines with the X chromosome present in it, the result is XX sex chromosome. The embryo will normally be a female. But if a sperm containing a Y chromosome fertilizes with the ovum, it combines with its X chromosome resulting in a Zygote containing in its nucleus XY chromosome. The embryo will normally be a male. Perhaps the hadith that speaks of sex determination alludes to this process. It says that the Prophet was asked about how sex was determined. He answered that if man’s fluid overcame woman’s, it will be male. But if woman’s fluid overcame man’s, the child will be female.
    Although the presence of X or Y chromosome in the sperm accepted by the female ovum is the primary factor in the determination of future sex of the fetus, it is in the seventh week that the Gonads lose their ‘indefinite’ character and begin to develop either into male testes or female ovaries depending on whether the combination is XX or XY. XX sex chromosome means the indifferent Gonad will, from the seventh week onwards develop into ovaries, and an XY into testis. Perhaps it is to this seventh week development that another hadith is referring to which says (Muslim),

    إنَّ ماءَ الرَّجُلِ غليظٌ أبْيَضُ. وماءُ المَرأَةِ رَقيقٌ أصفرُ. فَمِن أيِّهِما عَلا، أو سَبَقَ، يكون منه الشِّبْهُ

    “Man’s liquid is thick, white while woman’s is thin, yellowish. So whichever overcomes the other, or outpaced, will be like it.” (That is, perhaps in external features).
    It is from this point onward that any defect in sex determination will start revealing itself. For, as said above, an XX means a female, and XY a male. But, in a few cases it can be XXY. This will result in certain sexual disorders. Or it may be XXXX. This too results in sexual disorder. Or, all being correct, that is, the sex chromosome could be plain XX or XY, but hormonal effects before the seventh week can cause the appearance of hermaphrodites. One such condition is known as female pseudohermaphroditism, another as hypospadias, and another as epispadias. In these cases, the person fails to develop into either fully functional male, or fully functional female. The hadith then, about the determination of sex when the fetus is 42 (or 40) days old could be referring to the post-Gonad developments. For, whatever the combination, even if is normal XX or XY, any defect could appear at the post-Gonadal stage. The hadith says,

    إِذَا مَرَّ بِالنُّطْفَةِ ثِنْتَانِ وَأَرْبَعُونَ لَيْلَةً بَعَثَ الله إِلَيْهَا مَلَكاً فَصَوَّرَهَا وخَلَقَ سَمْعَهَا وبَصَرَهَا وجِلْدَهَا ولَحْمَهَا وعِظَامَهَا ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا رَبِّ أَذَكَرٌ أَم أُنْثَى؟ فَيَقْضِي رَبُّكَ مَا شَاءَ وَ يَكْتُبُ المَلِك. (مسلم)

    “When forty-two nights have passed over the mixed drop, Allah sends an angel to it who shapes it and makes its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones. The he asks, ‘O Lord! Should it be male or female?’ And your Lord decides what He wishes and the angel records it” (Muslim).
    (The development however, of the male or female external genitalia [the phallus or vagina] takes place later. That also happens in two stages. First distinguishing sexual characteristics begin to appear during the ninth week, and then, fully formed genital organs appear by the twelfth week).
    Anyway, to go back to the trail of fetus development, the Zygote travels back to enter into the womb. However, at least 15% of Zygotes are lost during this first week of development commonly as a result of chromosomal abnormalities. The Qur’an could be referring to this when it said (Al-Ra`d, 8),

    اللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَحْمِلُ كُلُّ أُنْثَى وَمَا تَغِيضُ الأَرْحَامُ (الرعد:8)

    Allah knows what every female bears and what the wombs lose (tagheedh).”
    That is, the allusion could be to successful pregnancy, but the loss of Zygotes due to chromosomal abnormality. Neither the female involved, nor any one ever comes to know of the fertilization or failure of conception. Every fertilization does not result in conception.
    A hadith says:

    وَلا يَعْلَمُ مَا تَغِيضُ الأَرْحَامُ إِلا الله

    “No one knows what the wombs lose but Allah” (Bukhari).
    To continue, having entered into the safety of the womb, the Zygote clings to its wall. At this stage – in its second and third week - it looks like a leech and acts like a leech, for it begins to draw blood from the wall it attaches itself to. With this it begins to make the first muscles for itself and the cardiovascular system begins to appear. If abortion takes place at this stage, the aborted embryo will look like a blood clot. Hence the Qur’anic verse (Al-`Alaq, 1-2):

    اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ (1) خَلَقَ الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ [العلق : 1 ، 2]

    “Read in the name of thy Lord who created: created man out of a leech like (blood clot).”
    And (Al-Mu’minun, 14),

    ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً [المؤمنون : 14]

    “Thereafter We made the semen drop into a leech-like (thing).”
    In fact, in Arabic, `alaqah is used for “the thing that clings”, as also for a “leech” since it clings and thrives on blood sucking.
    Within about 3-4 weeks, the embryo looks like a little lump of chewed flesh. A few body parts start taking shape while others are yet to form. Perhaps it is to this that the Qur’an alluded when it said in the present verse (5 of surah al-Hajj), “then from (what resembles) chewed flesh, formed and unformed.”
    By the fourth week, and although less than a centimeter long, rudiments of the heart are already in place in the embryo. Soon the newly developed heart begins to beat. By the seventh week, various developing organs are clearly visible: head, eye, hand and foot plates, nasal and oral cavities, fingers and even lips. Distinguishable sexual characteristics appear in the ninth week, although, the male fetus is distinguishable from the female (the external genitalia, visible to the naked eye - only by the 12th week). By the 7th week the embryo is a little less than a centimeter and a half. A hadith refers to these stages in words of Muslim,

    إِذَا مَرَّ بِالنُّطْفَةِ ثِنْتَانِ وَأَرْبَعُونَ لَيْلَةً بَعَثَ الله إِلَيْهَا مَلَكاً فَصَوَّرَهَا وخَلَقَ سَمْعَهَا وبَصَرَهَا وجِلْدَهَا ولَحْمَهَا وعِظَامَهَا ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا رَبِّ أَذَكَرٌ أَم أُنْثَى؟ فَيَقْضِي رَبُّكَ مَا شَاءَ وَ يَكْتُبُ المَلِك. (مسلم

    “When forty-two nights have passed over the drop, Allah sends an angel to it. He shapes it and makes its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones. They he asks, ‘O Lord! Should it be male or female?’ Your Lord decides and the angel records it.”

    There is another hadith, also in Muslim, which apparently speaks of changes taking place every forty days. It is as follows:

    إنَّ أَحَدَكم يُجْمعُ خَلْقَه في بطْنِ أُمِّه أربعين يوما. ثم يكون في ذلك عَلَقَةً مِثْلُ ذلك. ثم يكون في ذلك مُضْغَةً مثل ذلك

    “The creation of one of you is collected together in his mother’s womb for forty days. Then it will be like a clinging leech for a like number of days. Then it will be like a chewed flesh for a like number of days.”
    The terms of this report are, however, unclear. Therefore, following the rules set up by the Fiqh scholars, it has to be interpreted in terms of the clear hadith stated earlier. That is, the primary “formation” is complete by the end of 42 days, including the “final” decision about the sex: male, female, hermaphrodite, or one suffering from some sex disorder rendering it neither a successful male, nor a successful female. Zindani has pointed out that as early as 651 A.H. this is how a Muslim scientist Ibn Az-Zamlakani had understood the above two reports.
    In any case, it is the eighth week, (when the structure is there, the muscles has taken shape and the skin has appeared) when the embryo enters into a new and markedly different phase of development. In fact, by the end of the eighth week embryologists stop referring to it as an embryo, replacing the term with a new one: a fetus. The Qur’an said (Al-Mu’minun, 14):

    فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ

    “Then We clothed the bones and flesh; then We developed out of him another creature. So, blessed be Allah, the best of the Creators.”
    Note the use of the word “another creature” in the above verse. That is, the allusion could be to the fetus.
    By the 25th week, the fetus acquires full human form although it has a very lean body, wrinkled skin (for want of fat), and eyes just beginning to open. A fetus of this stage might survive if born prematurely, hence it is referred to as “a viable fetus.” The Qur’an confirms that successful birth and survival can take place in the sixth month. It said (Al-Ahqaf, 15),

    وَحَمْلُهُ وفِصَالُهُ ثَلاثُونَ شَهْرا

    “The duration of pregnancy and weaning is thirty months.”
    At another place it said (Luqman, 14),

    وفِصَالُه فِي عَامَيْن

    “His weaning is at the end of two years.”
    Thus, thirty months minus twenty-four of breast-feeding is six months of productive pregnancy.
    Birth is of course a miracle. When a child is born, on a particular day, at a particular time, the doctors do not know why it emerged at that moment. It could have been earlier or later. There is no explanation to the sudden contractions of the abdominal muscles, accompanied by the burst of several bags of fluids that lubricate the passage. The passage in fact is so constricted that normally one would think it impossible for the child to emerge. Of course, for the mother it is extremely painful – for a few it can be a matter of life and death – but it happens, and to millions every day. Allah referred to the otherwise impossible emergence through this tight passage (`Abasa, 20),

    ثُمَّ السَّبِيلَ يَسَّرَه

    “Then He made the passage (through the birth canal) easy.”
    The above details are by now common knowledge but it was first comprehensively presented (though not exactly as we have presented) along with Qur’an and hadith quotations in a medical book called “The Developing Human” by Keith Moore with “Islamic Additions” by Abdul-Majeed A. Azzindani (Dar al-Qiblah publications, 1983). The Qur’anic verse inspired the above mentioned embryologist to say in his Foreword to the book “At first I was astonished by the accuracy of the statements that were recorded in the 7th century AD, before the science of embryology was established.”
    Another scientist expressed similar sentiments. Dr. T.V. Persaud, Professor of Anatomy, Obstetrics, Pediatrics, and Child Health and Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Manitoba, Canada said, “.. It seems to me that Muhammad is a very ordinary man. He could not read, did not know [how] to write... And we are talking about fourteen hundred years ago. You have someone .. making profound pronouncements and statements that are amazingly accurate about scientific nature. I personally cannot see how this could be a mere chance.”

    ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنَّهُ يُحْيِي الْمَوْتَىٰ وَأَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ (6)

    22|6| That (happens) because Allah, He is the Truth, and that it is He who gives life to the dead, and that He has power over all things.10

    10. Yusuf Ali paraphrases this verse: “If they really have doubts in their minds about the life after death, they have only to turn their attention either to their own nature, or to the nature around. How wonderful is their own physical growth, from lifeless matter, to seed, fertilized ovum, foetus child, youth, age, and death! How can they doubt that the Author of all these wonderful stages in their life here can also give them another kind of life after the end of this life? Or, if they look at external nature, they see the earth dead and barren and Allah’s fertilizing showers bring it to life, growth and beauty in various forms. The Creator of this pageant Beauty can create yet another and a newer world.”

    وَأَنَّ السَّاعَةَ آتِيَةٌ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهَا وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ يَبْعَثُ مَنْ فِي الْقُبُورِ (7)

    22|7| And that the Hour is coming – no doubt about it; and that Allah will raise up those in the graves.

    وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يُجَادِلُ فِي اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَلَا هُدًى وَلَا كِتَابٍ مُنِيرٍ (8)

    22|8| Yet among the people is such a one who disputes about Allah without knowledge, or guidance, or an illuminating Book.

    ثَانِيَ عِطْفِهِ لِيُضِلَّ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۖ لَهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا خِزْيٌ ۖ وَنُذِيقُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ عَذَابَ الْحَرِيقِ (9)

    22|9| (Disdainfully) twisting his neck,11 so that he might mislead away from Allah’s path. For him there is disgrace in this world, and on the Day of Judgment We shall make him taste the chastisement of burning.

    11. According to the Salaf, the term “thaaniya `itfihi” alludes to a proud gesture. It draws the image of a man turning away in disdain, not ready to listen to anything. Ibn `Abbas said in explanation, “the man is too proud to follow the truth” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    ذَٰلِكَ بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاكَ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ لَيْسَ بِظَلَّامٍ لِلْعَبِيدِ (10)

    22|10| ‘This because of what your hands forwarded, for Allah is not unjust to (His) servants.’

    وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ حَرْفٍ ۖ فَإِنْ أَصَابَهُ خَيْرٌ اطْمَأَنَّ بِهِ ۖ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ فِتْنَةٌ انْقَلَبَ عَلَىٰ وَجْهِهِ خَسِرَ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةَ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْخُسْرَانُ الْمُبِينُ (11)

    22|11| And, among the people is such a one who serves Allah on an edge.12 If good touches him, he is satisfied therewith. But if a trial touches him,13 he turns on his face.14 He loses this world as well as the Hereafter. That indeed is an evident loss

    12. The term “edge” has been used to indicate that the man stands at the end, and not in the middle of the religion. He is like someone in an army right in the last row. If the army is victorious, he is with it in loot and booty. But if it experiences defeat, he is at the right spot to bolt away (Zamakhshari).
    13. Reports from Ibn `Abbas, Dahhak and others (one is in Bukhari: Ibn Kathir) say that this verse alludes to some of the outlying Arabs who emigrated to Madinah. Now, if the weather and water suited to one of them, his mare brought a foal, his woman gave birth to a son, he felt comfortable with Islam and said to himself, “I have not experienced anything but good since I embraced this religion.” But, if the weather and water did not suit him, or his wife gave birth to a girl, or he did not receive anything by way of charity, Satan went up and whispered to him, ‘By God! Since the day you embraced Islam, you have not encountered anything good.’”
    There is yet another report on this topic, (in Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Marduwayh with trustworthy chain of narrators: Shawkani) which says, “Bedouins from the outlying areas would come to the Prophet and embrace Islam. As they returned to their dwellings, if they found it a rainy year of plenty and birth of good number of children, they would say, ‘This is a good religion. Hold on to it.’ But if they found it a dry year, unproductive, and births of their disapproval (i.e., girls), they would remark, ‘There is no good in this new religion.’ So Allah revealed, “And, among the people is such a one who serves Allah on an edge..”
    Others have said that the verse refers to hypocrites. They interpret the term “harf” as meaning, “(in) doubt.”
    14. That is, he abandons Islam.

    يَدْعُو لَمَنْ ضَرُّهُ أَقْرَبُ مِنْ نَفْعِهِ ۚ لَبِئْسَ الْمَوْلَىٰ وَلَبِئْسَ الْعَشِيرُ (13)

    22|13| He invokes him whose harm is nearer than his benefit.15 Evil indeed is the patron and evil indeed the companion.16

    15. “They are men whose minds are not firm: they will have faith, if all goes well with them. But as soon as they are tried, they are found wanting. They are a different kind from hypocrites. It is not fraud or double meaning that is their sin: it is a weak mind, petty standards of judging right by success, a selfishness that gives nothing but asks for all.. (Yusuf Ali).
    Sayyid comments: “In the life of a true believer, faith is well grounded in his heart. The world around him shakes and convulses, but he remains unshaken, tenaciously holding on to the rock of faith. This then is the reward of faith. He should, accordingly, seek its support, fall back on it and hold on to it in times of difficulties, and not seek rewards for it, for, such a faith is a reward by itself. A believer realizes its worth when he sees puzzled men and women around him, those who are unsure of what’s happening, why it’s happening, and so on. They are blown about by every wind of change resulting in worries and tension, while the believer goes about undisturbed, contented of heart, firm of feet, of unruffled carriage, aware of the Presence of Allah, and satisfied with the connection. He does not experiment with his Lord. But rather, he is ready to face all that comes his way, submitted from the beginning to what the life will unfold of its events for him, good or bad. His faith is in a Being who owns the Command, Who is the origin of all that is and will be.
    “In contrast, the other one, the one on the edge, makes his faith a commodity in the market of commodities. He is, in his devotion, on the edge. A mild push results in his fall. He is the grand loser. Apart from the loss of a dear one, or of wealth or health, he also loses peace of heart, quiet submission to his fate, in addition to his loss of the rewards in the Hereafter. And, what happens to him after the fall? Where does he go next? Whom does he apply for help? He ‘calls to one - apart from Allah - who can neither harm him nor benefit him.’ He calls upon deities, idols, devils, or imaginary gods of the pagans. Or he might apply to humans like himself, or appeal to authorities: in the manner of the jahiliyyah of all times whose harm is closer than the benefit. The harm consists in the split of loyalties causing a split in the heart leading to a split personality. His response results in further uncertainties and, above all, a degradation, loss of respect for one’s own self, in one’s own eyes: ‘That indeed is the extreme error.’”
    16. Experience with the pagans tells us that Yusuf Ali’s commentary is quite appropriate. He writes: “Such false worship is not always neutral, bringing neither harm nor good. Perhaps the harm comes first, and there is no help from Allah. Such minds are themselves demoralized, and render themselves unfit for help.

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُدْخِلُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَفْعَلُ مَا يُرِيدُ (14)

    22|14| Verily, Allah will admit those who believed and worked righteous deeds into gardens beneath which rivers flow. Surely, Allah does what He will.

    مَنْ كَانَ يَظُنُّ أَنْ لَنْ يَنْصُرَهُ اللَّهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ فَلْيَمْدُدْ بِسَبَبٍ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ ثُمَّ لْيَقْطَعْ فَلْيَنْظُرْ هَلْ يُذْهِبَنَّ كَيْدُهُ مَا يَغِيظُ (15)

    22|15| Let him who imagines that Allah will not help him in this world and the Hereafter, extend a rope toward the heaven, then cut off,17 and let him see, does his guile remove that which enrages (him)?18

    17. Another interpretation of the term “fal-yaqta`” could be, “let him traverse” (the distance: with the root “qata`a”: meaning to traverse) – Razi, Asad. “Cut off” (the help) is another possibility (Razi).
    18. Great many of the classical commentators are of opinion that the pronoun in “yansurahu” refers to the Prophet. Accordingly, Ibn `Abbas has said in explanation of this verse, “Whoever thinks that Allah will not help Muhammad in this world and the Next, might extend a rope to the roof (of his house, which is his “samaa’”), and strangle himself thereby to see if his rage is cured.” This was also the opinion of Mujahid, `Ikrimah, `Ata, Abu al-`Aliyyah and others (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). In short, he might commit suicide to cool his rage. There is little else he can do about it (Au.).
    Another and parallel interpretation of the Salaf has been paraphrased by Yusuf Ali in the following manner: “If the enemies of Allah are enraged at the help he (Muhammad) gets from heavens, let them stretch a rope to heavens, and see if they can intercept Allah’s help by their petty devices.”
    Some others have conjectured that the personal pronoun “hu” in “yansurahu” alludes to the one who thinks that he (himself) will not be helped in this world and the Hereafter (may commit suicide). But, unless there is a hidden meaning to it, it doesn’t seem to be easy to accept since no believer in Allah thinks that he will be neither helped in this world nor in the Hereafter (Au.).
    And, although Qatadah also figures in the above opinion, he viewed the verse slightly differently. According to him, whoever thought that Allah was not going to help the Prophet, His Book and His religion, might stretch a rope to the heaven and try and get the connection severed (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, Razi).

    وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَنْزَلْنَاهُ آيَاتٍ بَيِّنَاتٍ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَنْ يُرِيدُ (16)

    22|16| And that is how We have sent it down (as) manifest signs; and that Allah guides whom He will.

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالصَّابِئِينَ وَالنَّصَارَىٰ وَالْمَجُوسَ وَالَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَفْصِلُ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ (17)

    22|17| Those who believed (in earlier Messages), those who turned Jewish, the Sabians,19 the Christians, the Magians, and the polytheists: surely, Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection; indeed Allah is over all things Witness.

    19. Qatadah’s opinion, as in `Abdul Razzaq, `Abd b. Humayd, and Ibn Abi Hatim is that Sabians were a people who oriented themselves to the Qiblah, worshipped angels, and recited the Zabur (Shawkani).
    The Qamus says that they claimed to be on the religion of Nuh and faced North in their Prayers (Alusi). Perhaps they were many sects and hence the definition has varied (Au.).
    Mawdudi adds, although without quoting his sources: “In the olden days, two communities were known as Sabians – the followers of the Prophet John (peace be upon him) who inhabited, in large numbers, the upper region of Iraq called al-Jazirah. They practiced baptism according to the way of the Prophet John. The other community bearing this name consisted of star-worshippers who claimed to follow the religion of the Prophet Shith and Idris (peace be upon them). They believed that the planets held ascendancy over the elements, and that the angels had ascendancy over the planets. Based in Harran, they were scattered over different parts of Iraq. This second group is also known for its mastery of philosophy, science and medicine.” Also see n. 158 & 159 of Al-Baqarah and n. 192 of Al-Nahl of this work.

    أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَسْجُدُ لَهُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَالشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ وَالنُّجُومُ وَالْجِبَالُ وَالشَّجَرُ وَالدَّوَابُّ وَكَثِيرٌ مِنَ النَّاسِ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ حَقَّ عَلَيْهِ الْعَذَابُ ۗ وَمَنْ يُهِنِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ مُكْرِمٍ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَفْعَلُ مَا يَشَاءُ ۩ (18)

    22|18| Do you not see that to Allah prostrate themselves all who are in the heavens and all who are in the earth,20 the sun and the moon, the stars and the mountains, the trees21 and the animals,22 and a great many of the people? – and many there are who merit chastisement.23 And he whom Allah abases, will have none to honor him. Surely, Allah does what He will.24

    20. A hadith of Muslim says

    إِذَا قَرَأَ ابْنُ آدَمَ السَّجْدَةَ فَسَجَدَ اعْتَزَلَ الشَّيْطَانُ يَبْكِى يَقُولُ يَا وَيْلَهُ - وَفِى رِوَايَةِ أَبِى كُرَيْبٍ يَا وَيْلِى - أُمِرَ ابْنُ آدَمَ بِالسُّجُودِ فَسَجَدَ فَلَهُ الْجَنَّةُ وَأُمِرْتُ بِالسُّجُودِ فَأَبَيْتُ فَلِىَ النَّارُ

    “When a son of Adam prostrates himself (to Allah), Shaytan departs weeping. He says,
    ‘Woe. Adam’s son was ordered to prostrate himself. He did and will enter Paradise. I too was asked to prostrate myself. I refused and will enter the Fire (Ibn Kathir).
    21. Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ibn Hibban (in his Sahih) have recorded Ibn `Abbas as saying that once a man came to the Prophet and said, “I saw in a dream that I am praying behind a tree. I prostrated and the tree fell in prostration with me and I heard it saying:

    اللَّهُمَّ اكتُبْ لي بِهَا عِندَكَ أَجراً، وضَعْ عنِّي بِهَا وِزراً واجعَلهَا لي عِندَكَ ذُخْراً، وتَقَبَّلهَا منِّي كَمَا تَقَبَّلتَهَا من عَبدِكَ داودَ

    ‘O Allah, write it down for me thereby a reward with You, remove from me a sin thereby, store it for me as a treasure with you, and accept it from me as you accepted from Your slave Da’ud.’ After some time the Prophet happened to recite a prostration verse. He prostrated himself and I heard him repeat the same words in his prostration” (Ibn Kathir).
    22. Accordingly, we have a report from the Prophet preserved by Ahmad. It says,

    ارْكَبُوهَا سَالِمَةً وَدَعُوهَا سَالِمَةً وَلَا تَتَّخِذُوهَا كَرَاسِيَّ لِأَحَادِيثِكُمْ فِي الطُّرُقِ وَالْأَسْوَاقِ فَرُبَّ مَرْكُوبَةٍ خَيْرٌ مِنْ رَاكِبِهَا هِيَ أَكْثَرُ ذِكْرًا لِلَّهِ تَعَالَى مِنْهُ

    “(The Prophet said), Ride them safely and leave them safe and sound. Do not use them as chairs for chat sessions on the road or in the markets. Sometimes the one ridden is better than the rider. It is more remembering of Allah the Exalted than him” (Ibn Kathir).
    The above report was declared weak by Shu`ayb Arna’ut (Au.).
    Alusi writes that various Arab tribes worshipped various objects. The Himyar tribe worshipped the Sun, the Kinanah the moon, the Tamim the Hyades (a constellation of five stars: Au.), Lakhm and Quraysh Sirius, Tayy the Pleiades, Asad the Mercury, Rabi`a one of the Orion stars, Ghatafan the `Uzza (which was a dry samurrah tree, while a few others worshipped the cow. Over and above these, most of the Arabs also worshipped stones and idols that they carved from the mountains. The Qur’an told them that those you worship are themselves devoted to Allah.
    23. Mujahid’s opinion was that there are many who believe in Allah and prostrate themselves to Him, while there are many who prostrate themselves but do not believe in Him and hence deserve to be punished. Ibn Jarir however disagrees with this meaning, and opts for the apparent meaning, viz., some have believed and so prostrate themselves, while there are others who do not believe and do not prostrate themselves, and so deserve to be punished.
    24. Ibn Kathir comments on Allah’s will. It is said that someone told `Ali, “This man disputes over predestination and Divine decree.” `Ali asked him, “O Allah’s slave. Did Allah create you in form and shape following His own will or yours?” He answered, “Rather, as He wished.” He asked, “He makes you fall sick when He wills or when you will?” He answered, “Rather, when He wills.” He asked, “He restores your health when He wills or when you will?” He answered, “Rather, when He wills.” He asked, “Will He then admit you (into Paradise by the gate of) His choice or yours?” He answered, “Rather, by His wish.” At that `Ali said, “By Allah, had you answered differently, I would have struck you with a sword in the area that carries your two eyes.”

    هَٰذَانِ خَصْمَانِ اخْتَصَمُوا فِي رَبِّهِمْ ۖ فَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا قُطِّعَتْ لَهُمْ ثِيَابٌ مِنْ نَارٍ يُصَبُّ مِنْ فَوْقِ رُءُوسِهِمُ الْحَمِيمُ (19)

    22|19| These two are two disputants who disputed concerning their Lord.25 Those who disbelieved will have garments cut out for them of Fire. Boiling water will be poured over their heads.

    25. Apparently, the allusion is to the two groups mentioned in verse 17 above: the believers of all times on one side and the unbelievers of all times on another (Au.). However, Abu Dharr’s sworn opinion is that the immediate reference was to the six of the Quraysh: Hamza b. `Abd al-Muttallib, `Ali b. Abi Talib and `Ubaydah b. al-Harith on the one side, and `Utbah b. Rabi`ah, Shaybah b. Rabi`ah and Walid b. `Utbah, on the other side. They met in duels at Badr.
    Another opinion, and the prevalent one, says Ibn Jarir, is that the allusion is to the monotheists and pagans of all time. This of course does not deny the credibility of Abu Dharr’s explanation (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Abu Dharr’s report is in Bukhari (Ibn Kathir), and his opinion seems to be the correct one (Qurtubi).

    يُصْهَرُ بِهِ مَا فِي بُطُونِهِمْ وَالْجُلُودُ (20)

    22|20| Whereby, that which is in their bellies will be melted, and the skins (too).26

    26. Abu Hurayrah has reported the Prophet as having said:
    إنَّ الحَمِيمَ لَيُصَبُّ على رُءوسِهمْ، فَيَنْفُذُ الجُمْجمَةَ حتى يَخْلُص إلى جَوْفِهِ، فَيَسْلُت ما في جَوْفِهِ حتى يَبْلُغَ قَدَمَيْهِ، وَهِيَ الصَّهْرُ، ثُمَّ يُعادُ كَما كان
    “Boiling water will be poured over their heads. It will penetrate their skulls to reach its inner end. It will eat off all that is therein and leak down to reach his feet. That is the melting. Thereafter the man will be restored to the former state once again” (Ibn Jarir).
    The report is also in Tirmidhi who rated it Hasan Sahih (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Abi Hatim has another report. It records `Abdullah b. Sirri as having said,

    يأتيه الملك يحمل الإناء بِكَلْبتين من حرارته، فإذا أدناه من وجهه تكرهه، قال: فيرفع مِقْمَعَة معه فيضرب بها رأسه، فَيُفرغ دماغه، ثم يُفرغ الإناء من دماغه، فيصل إلى جوفه من دماغه

    “An angel will come to him with a vessel held by means of two hooks because of its heat. When he brings it close to the man’s face he will try to avert it. The angel will hit him with a hooked rod that will open his head. He will empty the vessel in his brain. The liquid will go down from there to reach his stomach. It is in reference to this that Allah said, ‘(Boiling water will be poured over their heads) by which will be melted that within their stomachs, as also the skins’ (Ibn Kathir).

    وَلَهُمْ مَقَامِعُ مِنْ حَدِيدٍ (21)

    22|21| And for them are hooked iron rods.27

    27. A hadith in Ahmad reports the Prophet,

    لو أن مِقْمَعا مِن حَديد وُضِع في الأرض، فاجتمع له الثقلان ما أقَلُّوه من الأرض

    “Were the hooked rod brought to the earth and mankind and jinn asked to lift it, they wouldn’t be able to.”
    According to another hadith, also in Ahmad,

    لو ضُرب الجبلُ بمِقْمَع من حديد، لتفتت ثم عاد كما كان، ولو أن دلوا من غَسَّاق يُهَرَاق في الدنيا لأنتن أهل الدنيا

    “If the hooked rod was used to strike a mountain, it would render it to dust. And, if a bucket of pus was poured on earth, the whole world would stink (Ibn Kathir, shortened).
    However, Albani’s opinion is that the report is weak (S. Ibrahim).

    كُلَّمَا أَرَادُوا أَنْ يَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا مِنْ غَمٍّ أُعِيدُوا فِيهَا وَذُوقُوا عَذَابَ الْحَرِيقِ (22)

    22|22| Every time they wish to get out of it – from anguish – they will be returned to it.28 And (it will be said), ‘Taste the chastisement of burning.’

    28. That is, whenever they find the door opened for some purpose, they will try to escape through it; but the Keepers of Hell will drag them back with the help of hooked iron rods (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi and others).

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُدْخِلُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ يُحَلَّوْنَ فِيهَا مِنْ أَسَاوِرَ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ وَلُؤْلُؤًا ۖ وَلِبَاسُهُمْ فِيهَا حَرِيرٌ (23)

    22|23| Surely, Allah will admit those who believed and worked righteous deeds to gardens beneath which rivers flow. They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold29 and pearls,30 and their attires therein will be of silk.31

    29. The Prophet has said in a hadith of the Sahihayn, “A believer’s jewelry will end where his ablution ends” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    30. Some have understood the verse as, “They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and (with) pearls,” and not as “adorned therein with bracelets of gold and pearls.” But it sounds more correct to render it as, “They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and silver” (Qurtubi).
    31. It might be recalled that, according to report in Nasa’i, the Prophet said,

    من لبس الحرير في الدنيا لم يلبسه في الآخرة و من شرب الخمر في الدنيا لم يشربه في الآخرة و من شرب في آنية الذهب و الفضة في الدنيا لم يشرب بها في الآخرة ثم قال : لباس أهل الجنة و شراب أهل الجنة و آنية أهل الجنة

    “Whoever wore silk in this world, will not wear it in the Hereafter. Whoever drank wine in this world will not drink it in the Hereafter. And whoever drank out of gold and silver ware in this world will not drink out of them in the Hereafter.” Then he added, “(These are) the attires of the people of Paradise, drinks of the people of Paradise and vessels of the people of Paradise.”
    The report is in Mustadrak of Hakim which Dhahabi declared trustworthy (Au.).
    However, some scholars have thought that the prohibition will remain until a man has been through the punishment and until he has entered Paradise. Once in there, the ban will be removed. But, the apparent words do not lend support to such a meaning. What they convey, rather, is that even if they entered Paradise, they will be denied these things. Indeed, this is confirmed by another sound report coming through Abu Sa`id al-Khudri. The Prophet said,

    من لبس الحرير في الدنيا لم يلبسه في الآخرة و إن دخل الجنة لبسه أهل الجنة و لم يلبسه

    “He who wore silk in this world, will not wear it in the Hereafter even if he entered Paradise. Others in Paradise will wear it, but not he” (Qurtubi).
    The above report is also from Hakim’s Mustadrak and declared trustworthy by Dhahabi (Au.).
    32. Ibn `Abbas interpreted the term “hudu” as “they were inspired” (Ibn Jarir).

    وَهُدُوا إِلَى الطَّيِّبِ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ وَهُدُوا إِلَىٰ صِرَاطِ الْحَمِيدِ (24)

    22|24| They were guided32 to the Good Word, and they were guided to the path of the Praiseworthy.33

    33. Referring to the words, “They were guided to the Good Word, Tabari reports Ibn Zayd as having said that the following is the Good Word:

    لا إله إلا الله، والله أكبر، والحمد لله

    Some others have said that the allusion is to the Qur’an, yet others that it is words of supplication that are meant. Ibn `Abbas said that the allusion is to the testimony (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    As regardsthe words, “They were guided to the path of the Praiseworthy,” the allusion is the guidance to the place where, as a trustworthy hadith says,

    يُلْهَمُونَ التَّسْبِيحَ وَالتَّحْمِيدَ كَمَا يُلْهَمُونَ النَّفَسَ

    “They will be inspired with praises and hymns, as one is inspired with the breathing action (Ibn Kathir).
    The above is part of a hadith in Muslim (Au.).

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَيَصُدُّونَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ الَّذِي جَعَلْنَاهُ لِلنَّاسِ سَوَاءً الْعَاكِفُ فِيهِ وَالْبَادِ ۚ وَمَنْ يُرِدْ فِيهِ بِإِلْحَادٍ بِظُلْمٍ نُذِقْهُ مِنْ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ (25)

    22|25| Surely, those who have disbelieved and avert (people) from Allah’s path, and from the Inviolable House of Worship,34 which We have made equally (open) to (all) men, whether resident therein or one from outside35 - and whosoever intended therein a profanation in wrong, We shall give him a taste of a painful chastisement.36

    34. There have been differences in the understanding of the textual term al-Masjid al-Haram, whether it refers to the Holy Mosque alone or to the entire area surrounding it?
    The area surrounding the Ka`bah is, at present, about 22 acres in size (Au.).
    Most commentators believe it applies to the entire Haram. Mawdudi expands it to include the entire “hill”. He writes “Now, it is quite evident that the performance of Hajj rites is not confined to the Holy Mosque. Instead, its rituals are performed at several places, such as, Safa, Marwah, Muzdalifah and `Arafat.”
    However, Sufi Thanwi, who was also a Mufti of the Hanafiyy order, brings the fuqaha’s brilliance to fore. He writes that the subsequent passage, “which We have made equally (open) to (all) men, whether resident therein or visitor” offers the evidence that the whole of the Haram is included in the term “Masjid al-Haram.” Allah said in this passage, “whether resident therein..” Obviously, the residents do not live inside the Holy Mosque.
    35. Our translation of “baad” as “visitor” is based on the explanations offered by Mujahid, Qatadah, Ibn Zayd and others as in Ibn Jarir.
    What exactly is the implication of the passage, “Which We have made equally (open) to (all) men, whether resident therein or visitor?” Ibn `Abbas said that it means that everyone, whether a Makkan or non-Makkan, should have equal access to the Holy House and have the right of residence in the town. This was also the opinion of Mujahid, Abu Salih, Zayd b. Aslam and a few others. The unanimous opinion is that the entire Haram area is a “waqf property” for Muslims of all parts of the world. In fact, in earlier times, quarters in Makkah (not houses within the quarters) did not have doors to them; nor individual houses had doors to their courtyards. In `Umar’s time someone installed a door because of increased theft. `Umar objected to it. The person involved said that he wished to secure people’s property. So `Umar kept quiet and other people began to add doors to their houses. However, `Umar had ordered that doors leading to every courtyard (or quarters) should be left open during the Hajj season in order to allow the Pilgrims alight wherever they wished. Imam Malik nevertheless ruled that the rule was applicable to the Grand Mosque alone, whereas the Makkan residents had the right to close the doors of their houses. Most scholars have accepted this and this is the practice till today (Qurtubi).
    (Indeed, some have thought that properties in Makkah cannot be bought, sold, or rented out). In fact, Imam Shafe`i and Is-haq b. Rahwayh differed over this issue while they were in the Masjid al-Khayf (in Mina). Ibn Hanbal also happened to be there. Imam Shafe`i’s opinion was that Makkan property could be bought, sold, inherited, and rented out. In evidence he presented the hadith of the Sahihayn according to which Usama b. Zayd asked the Prophet, “Messenger of Allah. Shall we alight in your quarters in Makkah tomorrow?” He answered, “Has `Aqeel left us any property in Makkah?” (Aqeel had sold out his house in his absence). It is also reported that `Umar ibn al-Khattab had bought out Safwan b. Umayyah’s quarters in Makkah for 4000 Dirhams to convert it into a prison. However, Is-haq b. Rahwayh was of the opinion that Makkan property could not be inherited and could not be rented out. He presented a hadith in evidence (now in Ibn Majah) which says, “The Prophet, Abu Bakr and `Umar died, but no one claimed the Makkan properties except the (roaming) cattle. Whoever wished, settled in Makkah, and whoever did not, allow others do it. This happens to be the opinion of quite a few of the Salaf, Mujahid, and `Ata’ being noteworthy. `Abdullah ibn `Amr would not allow the sale of Makkan property or its renting. He reported, “Whoso devoured rents from Makkan property, devoured Fire.” Indeed, `Umar ibn al-Khattab had prohibited that the Makkan residential quarters be closed off with doors, preventing Pilgrims from alighting in any quarter. Imam Ahmad seemed to have taken the middle road when he said that the Makkan property maybe owned, inherited, but could not be rented out” (Ibn Kathir).
    The Hanafiyy position however is that it is undesirable (makruh) to charge rent on the Makkan houses during the pilgrimage season. Otherwise, its property might be bought, sold, leased, inherited, and rented out (Alusi).
    36. What is “ilhaad” therein? Literally, “ilhaad” is deviation from the right course. Mujahid said that the allusion is to declaring associates to Allah, in short, shirk. But Ibn `Abbas thought the reference is to treating Allah’s unlawful as lawful therein, such as, taking life without right. A few others – such as `Abdullah Ibn `Amr - have included all sins. Dahhak b. Muzahim in fact went a step further to say that whoever was not in Makkah, but wished to commit a sin therein (along with any other), would be counted a sinner even if he played no role in the sin committed (Ibn Jarir).
    In other words, if one willed a sin but did not commit it, normally he will not have it written down against him in his Book of Deeds. But the rule is different in reference to Makkah, where, even if someone merely willed, although he did not execute his will, he will be sinning (Qurtubi).
    Sa`id b. Jubayr in fact included such small matters as abusing one’s servant as violation of Makka’s sanctity. In a hadith preserved by Ibn Abi Hatim, the Prophet counted

    احْتِكارُ الطَّعامِ بِمَكَّةَ إلحَادٌ

    “hoarding of grain in Makkah” as “disbelief.”
    Haythami pointed out that one of the narrators have been treated trustworthy by Ibn Hibban, while others distrusted him (Au.).
    There is another report in which the Prophet said,

    يَغْزُو جَيْشٌ الْكَعْبَةَ فَإِذَا كَانُوا بِبَيْدَاءَ مِنَ الأَرْضِ خُسِفَ بِأَوَّلِهِمْ وَآخِرِهِمْ

    “An army will head towards Makkah (to subdue it). But when they are in the middle of the desert, the first and the last will be swallowed in. (Some scholars have said that the army will be after the newly appeared Mahdi: Au.).
    Similar versions appear in several collections, one of which Albani treated as Sahih.
    Accordingly, (when Ibn Zubayr had been besieged in Makkah by Hajjaj b. Yusuf’s troops), `Abdullah ibn `Umar went up to him and said, “I have heard the Prophet say,

    إِنَّهُ سَيُلْحِدُ فِيهِ رَجُلٌ مِنْ قُرَيْشٍ لَوْ وُزِنَتْ ذُنُوبُهُ بِذُنُوبِ الثَّقَلَيْنِ لَرَجَحَتْ قَالَ فَانْظُرْ لَا تَكُونُهُ

    ‘A man from the Quraysh will make it lawful. If his sins are weighed against the sins of the two (Jinn and mankind), they will outweigh. So, see to it that you do not happen to be that person” (Ibn Kathir).
    Haythami treated the above report as trustworthy (Au.).
    In fact, `Abdullah ibn `Amr b. al-`Aas was so careful about not committing the slightest of sins in the Haram that he had two quarters in Makkah: one within the Haram area and another outside it, in the Hill area. He only reproached his family members or shouted at them in the Hill house but never in the Haram house (Qurtubi).

    وَإِذْ بَوَّأْنَا لِإِبْرَاهِيمَ مَكَانَ الْبَيْتِ أَنْ لَا تُشْرِكْ بِي شَيْئًا وَطَهِّرْ بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْقَائِمِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ (26)

    22|26| And (recall) when We assigned to Ibrahim the site of the House,37 (saying), ‘Associate not aught with Me, and cleanse My House for those circumambulating (it), standing (in prayer) and those bowing and prostrating.

    37. Suddi has said that when Ibrahim and Isma`il arrived at Makkah, they did not know where to build the House of God. Then came a wind that curled around – snake like - forming a small dune indicating the spot for construction. (Bayt Allah in fact, is not the name of the building, but rather, the spot over which the building stands: Shafi`). The reference by “bawwanaa” is to this pointing (Ibn Jarir). This is one meaning of the term. Another is to settle or establish (Qurtubi).
    Abu Dharr’s following report is preserved in the Sahihayn. He inquired,

    يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَىُّ مَسْجِدٍ وُضِعَ فِى الأَرْضِ أَوَّلُ؟ قَالَ :« الْمَسْجِدُ الْحَرَامُ ». قَالَ قُلْتُ : ثُمَّ أَىٌّ؟ قَالَ :« ثُمَّ الْمَسْجِدُ الأَقْصَى ». قَالَ قُلْتُ : كَمْ بَيْنَهُمَا؟ قَالَ :« أَرْبَعُونَ سَنَةً ، فَأَيْنَمَا أَدْرَكَتْكَ الصَّلاَةُ فَصَلِّ فَهُوَ مَسْجِدٌ

    “Messenger of Allah. Which mosque was first to be built?” The Prophet replied, “The Sacred Mosque (at Makkah).” He asked, “Which one next?” He replied, “That at Jerusalem.” He asked, “How long was it between them?” He replied, “Forty years. At all events, when ever Salah catches on you, pray right there, that is the masjid” (Ibn Kathir).
    This means the Mosque at Jerusalem was not built by Prophet Sulayman, as the Jews claim. It was built earlier and perhaps destroyed and rebuilt by Sulayman (Au.).

    وَأَذِّنْ فِي النَّاسِ بِالْحَجِّ يَأْتُوكَ رِجَالًا وَعَلَىٰ كُلِّ ضَامِرٍ يَأْتِينَ مِنْ كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ (27)

    22|27| And proclaim among the people the Pilgrimage;38 they will come to you39 on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every distant ravine.’

    38. Ibn `Abbas has said that when Ibrahim had finished the construction, he was told to proclaim the pilgrimage. He said, “My Lord. How far will my voice go?” He was told, “Proclaim. Upon me is the conveyance.” So Ibrahim proclaimed, “People! Pilgrimage to the Bayt al-`Ateeq has been written on you, so come down in pilgrimage.” His words were heard in the heavens and the earth. And none of the mankind, the jinnkind, trees, animals and mountains heard him but responded, “Here we are, O Allah. “Don’t you see”, Ibn `Abbas added, “how people come to it from far off places? However, Ibn `Abbas seemed to have had the Muslims in mind (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi). This is how Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Ibn Jubayr and many of the Salaf explained the verse (Ibn Kathir).
    Majid adds: “And it is to this proclamation made by Abraham thousands of years ago – before the era of press, the post, the telegraph, the wireless, the radio and other such paraphernalia of modern publicity and propaganda – that mankind has been responding during all these centuries, by performing “the pilgrimage in their tens and hundreds of thousands every year.”
    39. Note that Allah did not say, “They will come”, but rather, “They will come to you.” That is, whoever came after that would be considered as having responded to Ibrahim’s call (Qurtubi).

    لِيَشْهَدُوا مَنَافِعَ لَهُمْ وَيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ فِي أَيَّامٍ مَعْلُومَاتٍ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُمْ مِنْ بَهِيمَةِ الْأَنْعَامِ ۖ فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْبَائِسَ الْفَقِيرَ (28)

    22|28| That they may witness (its) benefits for them40 and mention the name of Allah through the appointed days41 over what He provided them of the beastly cattle.’42 So eat thereof and feed the distressed ones in want.43

    40. Ibn `Abbas, Abu Razin and Sa`id b. Jubayr have said that the allusion is to the benefits accruing from the trade fairs held during the Hajj season. Others have thought that the allusion is to spiritual benefits, and both could be correct (Ibn Jarir). In fact, according to other reports, Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and others have also said that the allusion is both to the benefits of this world as well as the Next (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    In Asad’s words, “.. i.e., increased consciousness of God through facing the first temple ever dedicated to Him, as well as the consciousness of being part of a brotherhood embracing all believers. Apart from these spiritual benefits, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca provides opportunity for believers from all parts of the world to become acquainted with the many social and political problems that confront the various geographically separated sectors of the community.”
    It is miraculous, adds Mufti Shafi’, that although people so often go broke after such ceremonies as marriage, house construction, etc., it is common observation that a man of small means spends off the savings of his life-time on Hajj, but does not go broke for that reason.
    41. That is, the days of tashriq (Ibn Jarir from Ibn `Abbas and Dahhak. (See Surah al-Baqarah verse 203 for notes).
    Ibn `Abbas thought that they were the day of Sacrifice, plus three following days (i.e., 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th of Dhu al-Hijjah). This also happens to be the opinion of Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Ibrahim Nakha`i, (in their second opinion), as also that of Ibn `Umar (Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Kathir writes: But others, such as Abu Musa al-Ash`ari, Mujahid, Qatadah, `Ataa’, Sa`id b. Jubayr, Hasan, Dahhak, `Ata’ al-Khurasani, Ibrahim Nakha`i, and including Ibn `Abbas, the allusion is to the first ten days of Dhu al-Hijjah. Imam Shafe`i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal were of the same opinion. These are also the most important of days in Islam. The Prophet has said in a narrative preserved by Bukhari:

    مَا الْعَمَلُ فِي أَيَّامٍ أَفْضَلَ مِنْهَا فِي هَذِهِ قَالُوا وَلَا الْجِهَادُ قَالَ وَلَا الْجِهَادُ إِلَّا رَجُلٌ خَرَجَ يُخَاطِرُ بِنَفْسِهِ وَمَالِهِ فَلَمْ يَرْجِعْ بِشَيْءٍ

    “There is no deed of other days better than those performed in these days.” He was asked, “Not even Jihad in the way of Allah?” He replied, “Not even Jihad in the way of Allah, except that a man should go out with his body and his wealth, and return with nothing on.”
    Another hadith encourages that Tahlil, Takbir and Tahmid be said often in these days. Hence, Bukhari reports, Ibn `Umar and Abu Hurayrah would go out into the markets during these ten days and say aloud the Takbir. The people would join them in saying the words.
    Hence, Ibn Kathir continues, some have thought that these ten days are of greater importance than those of the last ten days of Ramadan, although some have said that those of Ramadan are of greater importance since the Night of Power falls in them. A third opinion is that the first ten days of Dhu al-Hijjah are the greatest, while the nights of the last ten of Ramadan are the greatest.
    Another opinion about the days in question is that of Ibn `Umar, Suddi and Imam Malik. Ibn `Umar said that the ayyam al-ma`lumaat and ayyam al-ma`dudaat put together covered only four days. Of them, the day of Sacrifice and the next two days (10th-12th of Dhu al-Hijjah) are the ayyam al-ma`lumat, while the last three days after the day of Sacrifice (11th-13th) are the ayyam al-ma`dudat.
    Majid quotes and comments on other aspects: “`No fetch of religious genius could have conceived a better expedient for impressing upon the minds of the faithful a sense of their common life and of their brotherhood in the bounds of faith. Here is a supreme act of common worship, the Negro of the west coast of Africa meets with the Chinaman from the distant east; the courtly and polished Ottomon recognizes his brother Muslim in the wild islander from the farthest end of the Malayan Sea.’ (Arnold, Preaching of Islam, p. 415) ‘The institution of Hadj does not represent for the Moslems merely a sacred institution but also a League of Nations, an International Academy of Art and Science, and an International Chamber of Commerce all in one. Professor Snouk Hurgronje says: The idea of a league of human races has indeed been approached by Islam more nearly than by any other; for the League of Nations founded on the basis of Muhammad’s religion takes the principle of the equality of all human races so seriously as to put other communities to shame.’ (Lady Cabbold, Intro, pp. XVII-XVIII).”
    Fiqh Points
    1. A city dweller may not slaughter his sacrificial animal before the `Eid Prayers; a countryside dweller could.
    2. According to Imam Shafe`i and the Hanafiyy school, days of sacrifice are four: 10th-13th.
    3. Most scholars say that the slaughtering should be carried out during the days of these dates and not nights. Although Imam Abu Hanifah has allowed it during the nights also. (But of course, on 13th the time ends with Maghrib: Au.).
    4. It is not wajib, but only preferable that he who sacrifices partakes of the meat of his sacrificed animal. Here, the words ‘eat of it’ have been added because in pre-Islamic days some of the pagans would not eat out of their sacrificed animals.
    5. But one may not eat out of what he sacrifices as expiation or against vows.
    6. The sacrificed meat cannot be sold off either, nor its skin, or any other part.
    7. The division into parts for oneself, friends, and for the poor, is not obligatory, although it has been the practice of some of the Salaf.
    8. Imam Abu Haneefah and Nakha`i have disagreed with other Imams and have said that sacrifice is not obligatory on a traveler. Abu Bakr, `Umar and some of the Salaf were also of the same opinion, i.e., sacrifice is not obligatory on a traveler (Qurtubi and others).
    42. Asad quotes Pickthall: “The repeated Qur’anic insistence on pronouncing the name of God whenever one slaughters an animal is meant to make the believers ‘realize the awfulness of taking a life, and the solemn nature of the trust which God has conferred upon them in the permission to eat the flesh of animals’ (Marmaduke Pickthall, The Meaning of the Glorious Qur’an).”
    43. Asad comments, “.. they (the sacrifices) are meant to commemorate Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his first-born son after he dreamt that God demanded of him this supreme sacrifice..; furthermore, they are a reminder that God is the Provider of all sustenance and the One who gives life and deals death, and that all must return to him; and, lastly (as stressed by Razi), they are to be the symbols of each believer’s readiness to sacrifice himself in the cause of truth.”
    On the practical side, Mufti Shafi` has the following to add: Of the animals slaughtered, there are several kinds. For example, one offered in expiation against an animal hunted down in the Haram, (or in Ihram), in expiation of certain acts committed while in the state of Ihram, which might sometimes require a camel, a cow, or maybe just a sheep; etc. Now, it might be noted that out of the animals slaughtered in expiation of the second kind mentioned above, their meat is prohibited to the one who is supposed to expiate his sin through slaughter. There is no disagreement between the four Fuqaha’ over this issue. Such meat is entirely for the poor. In fact, a rich person cannot be gifted thereof either. As regards other kinds of slaughtered animals, such as those of Hajj, their meat may be consumed by the one who offers the sacrifice. To divide into three parts: one for self, one for relatives and friends, and a third for the poor, is only desirable (mustahab).

    ثُمَّ لْيَقْضُوا تَفَثَهُمْ وَلْيُوفُوا نُذُورَهُمْ وَلْيَطَّوَّفُوا بِالْبَيْتِ الْعَتِيقِ (29)

    22|29| Then let them accomplish their cleansing,44 fulfill their oaths45 and circumambulate46 the Ancient House.47

    44. The textual “tafath” is for impurity, filth or dirt. But authorities have explained it here as meaning hajj rituals. Ibn `Umar, Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah and others have said in reference to the words “li-yaqdu tafatha-hum” means, ‘complete the rest of the rituals’ such as, shaving off the head, trimming the moustache, throwing the pebbles, circumambulation of the House, and rest of the hajj rites. However, another opinion has it that the allusion is to cleanliness by way of shaving off the head, trimming of moustaches, removal of arm-pit hair etc. (Ibn Jarir).
    `Ata’, Mujahid, `Ikrimah and others were also of the opinion, writes Ibn Kathir, that the allusion by “tafath” is to the shaving of the head, removal of pubic hair, clipping the nails, and removal of the Ihraam (pilgrim garb).
    Relying on the linguists, Qurtubi agrees with the above meaning.
    45. Some of the ancient scholars, such as Mujahid and `Ikramah have thought that the textual “nadhr” here, at this point, is in the sense of intention. Therefore this part of the text may be understood as, “let them fulfill their intention,” meaning, “let them now complete the rest of the rites of Hajj.” Sufyan and Imam Malik were also of the same opinion (Ibn Kathir).
    At all events, it might be remembered, adds Shafi`, that nadhr is proper nadhr if a person vows to do something good, such as, that he will offer so many supererogatory prayers, or will expend so much money etc., if such and such a good thing happens. If that thing happens, then, fulfilling the vow is obligatory (wajib). However, if it was an evil deed that was vowed, (e.g., he would do something prohibited in Islam, if such and such a things happened), then, technically it is not binding to fulfill the vow. In fact, it must be avoided and forgiveness sought through expiation which is now binding on him for breaking an oath. Further, one might also remember that a vow is not a vow proper with merely the intention in the heart. It has to be vocalized in words to become a vow proper, entailing expiation, if not fulfilled. Also see n. 574 of Al-Baqarah
    46. There is no difference in opinion that the allusion is to the Tawaf al-Ziyarah, the obligatory circumambulation of Hajj (Tabari, Qurtubi).
    47. The translation of “`ateeq” as ancient reflects the literal meaning. (Although the hadith in Tirmidhi to this effect is not sound: Ibn Kathir). Another is that it is in the sense of “freed” since Allah has freed the House of all tyrants. As for its destruction at Hajjaj’s hands, he was actually after `Abdullah ibn Zubayr and not the House which received incidental damage (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi and others). In fact, there is a hadith to this effect in Tirmidhi who rated it Hasan Sahih (Ibn Kathir and others).
    Hajj commandments have appeared at two places in the Qur’an: earlier in Surah al-Baqarah, verses 196-203, and here at this point. A cursory glance reveals that a certain order has been followed. In Surah al-Baqarah they were: Standing at `Arafaat, night-stay in Muzdalifah, followed by three days stay at Mina. And, at this point: sacrifice, cleansing (removal of hair etc.), and then the Final Tawaf al-Ifadah (Au.).
    Mufti Shafi` points out that according to the Hanafiyyah and Malikiyyah, it is obligatory (wajib) to follow this sequence, since this is the Qur’anic sequence. Imam Malik declared it Sunnah, not following which entails a decrease in rewards, but expiation is not necessary. Ibn `Abbas has however narrated, “whoever changed the sequence must expiate with a sheep in sacrifice.” This report is in Ibn Abi Shaybah, and, following Hadith Principles, although Ibn `Abbas does not attribute it to the Prophet, it has to be considered as being in fact a statement of the Prophet. (For details see Tafsir Maz-hari). Imam Tahawi has narrated this report through different chains. This also happens to be the opinion of Sa`id b. Jubayr, Qatadah, Nakha`i and Hasan al-Busri. Other scholars however, hold different opinions.

    ذَٰلِكَ وَمَنْ يُعَظِّمْ حُرُمَاتِ اللَّهِ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَهُ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِ ۗ وَأُحِلَّتْ لَكُمُ الْأَنْعَامُ إِلَّا مَا يُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ ۖ فَاجْتَنِبُوا الرِّجْسَ مِنَ الْأَوْثَانِ وَاجْتَنِبُوا قَوْلَ الزُّورِ (30)

    22|30| That, and whosoever honors the sacred rites of Allah,48 then, that is better for him in the sight of his Lord. And, declared lawful unto you are the cattle save for what is being recited to you (as unlawful).49 Shun therefore the abomination of the idols50 and shun the false word.51

    48. The allusion is not only to the sacred sites, but also to the rites of Hajj, as well as to all that is prohibited by Allah (Ibn Jarir).
    49. Such as those stated elsewhere in the Qur’an (5: 33):

    {حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ بِهِ وَالْمُنْخَنِقَةُ وَالْمَوْقُوذَةُ وَالْمُتَرَدِّيَةُ وَالنَّطِيحَةُ وَمَا أَكَلَ السَّبُعُ إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ وَمَا ذُبِحَ عَلَى النُّصُبِ وَأَنْ تَسْتَقْسِمُوا بِالْأَزْلَامِ} [المائدة: 3]

    “Forbidden unto you are carrion, blood, swine's flesh, what has been consecrated to other than Allah, a (beast) strangled (to death), or (died) by a violent blow, or by a fall from a height, or one gored with the horns (to death), and (that killed and) devoured by the wild beasts - unless you have sacrificed them duly - and what is slaughtered on the altars, (or) that you seek the shares (in disputed divisions) by the divining arrows” (Ibn Kathir).
    50. The textual word “wathan” is applicable to anything that is carved out, whether from wood, stone or metal. Arabs used to fix them up at some prominent place and worship them. The Cross that the Christians carve out is also a “wathan.” When `Adiyy b. Hatim presented himself to the Prophet, with the Cross hanging by his neck, he told him, “Throw that wathan away (Qurtubi).
    51. The Prophet is reported to have said,

    « عُدِلَتْ شَهَادَةُ الزُّورِ بِالإِشْرَاكِ بِاللَّهِ ». ثَلاَثَ مِرَارٍ ثُمَّ قَرَأَ (فَاجْتَنِبُوا الرِّجْسَ مِنَ الأَوْثَانِ وَاجْتَنِبُوا قَوْلَ الزُّورِ حُنَفَاءَ لِلَّهِ غَيْرَ مُشْرِكِينَ بِهِ)

    “False oath has been declared equal to association with Allah.” He said that three times, and then added, “Recite if you will, ‘Shun then, the abomination of the idols and shun the false word’” (Ibn Jarir).
    The hadith is in Tirmidhi, about one version of which he said that it is more trustworthy than others of its kind (Au.).
    However, there is another in Ahmad of similar meaning. Moreover, we have one in the Sahihayn which says,

    أَلَا أُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِأَكْبَرِ الْكَبَائِرِ ثَلَاثًا قَالُوا بَلَى يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ الْإِشْرَاكُ بِاللَّهِ وَعُقُوقُ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَجَلَسَ وَكَانَ مُتَّكِئًا فَقَالَ أَلَا وَقَوْلُ الزُّورِ

    “Should I not tell you about the greatest of the great sins?” (He said that three times). We said, “Sure, do it, Messenger of Allah.” He said, “Declaring partners unto Allah and abusing the parents.” Then he straightened up from his reclining position and said, “and false oaths.” He kept repeating until we wished he would cease (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Mawdudi adds: “According to Islamic Law, false testimony is a cognizable offence. Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani (two of Abu Hanifa’s disciples: au.) are of the opinion that if anyone is convicted of false testimony by a court, this should be made public and the person so convicted should be sentenced to a long term of imprisonment. `Umar ibn al-Khattab also held this opinion and applied it. According to Mak-hul, `Umar ibn al-Khattab said, ‘He [i.e., the culprit] should be flogged, his head should be shaved, his face should be blackened, and he should be subjected to long-term imprisonment.’ (See Jassas, Bab Shahadat al-Zur, vol. 3, p. 241).”

    حُنَفَاءَ لِلَّهِ غَيْرَ مُشْرِكِينَ بِهِ ۚ وَمَنْ يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَكَأَنَّمَا خَرَّ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَتَخْطَفُهُ الطَّيْرُ أَوْ تَهْوِي بِهِ الرِّيحُ فِي مَكَانٍ سَحِيقٍ (31)

    22|31| Remaining ever inclined to Allah, associating not (aught) with Him.52 And, whoso associated with Allah is like someone who fell from the heavens so that the birds snatch him up, or the winds sweep him off to a distant place.53

    52. Associating partners with Allah has been specifically mentioned here because the pagans used to specifically mention “other than Him” during Hajj by saying, “There is no partner unto You, save the ones we suggest” (Thanwi).
    53. The allusion is to the mind and thoughts of an unbeliever. He is unsure, unsettled, blown about unanchored to any point of reference (with a point from Alusi).

    ذَٰلِكَ وَمَنْ يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِنْ تَقْوَى الْقُلُوبِ (32)

    22|32| That, and whoso holds in honor Allah’s Symbols,54 then, that is a source of piety for the hearts.

    54. “Sha`a’ir” could also be rendered as rites, rituals, as well as sacred sites but at this point, more appropriate seems to be what Mujahid and others have suggested as alluding to the animals of sacrifice. They must be fed and treated well. This opinion is strengthened by the verse that follows (Ibn Jarir). Bukhari in fact recorded the words of Umamah b. Sahl,

    كُنَّا نُسَمِّنُ الْأُضْحِيَّةَ بِالْمَدِينَةِ وَكَانَ الْمُسْلِمُونَ يُسَمِّنُونَ

    “We – and the Muslims in general – used to fatten our sacrificial animal at Madinah.”
    Several other reports tell us that the animals should not suffer from any bodily defect such as, broken horns, severed earlobes, lame, or seriously sick. Also, one marked for sacrifice may not be sold out to another for slaughter or for any other purpose. According to a hadith in Tirmidhi who rated it Sahih, as well as in others, the Prophet said,

    أَرْبَعٌ لاَ يَجْزِينَ فِي الأَضَاحِيِّ : الْعَوْرَاءُ الْبَيِّنُ عَوَرُهَا ، وَالْمَرِيضَةُ الْبَيِّنُ مَرَضُهَا ، وَالْعَرْجَاءُ الْبَيِّنُ عَرَجُهَا ، وَالْكَسِيرَةُ الَّتِي لاَ تُنْقِي

    “Four kinds (of animals) are disqualified for ritual sacrifice: those that are obviously one-eyed, obviously sick, obviously lame, and those that which is broken down out of weakness.”
    It seems that by the addition of the adjective “obvious” the allusion is to major defects. That is, although one whole and healthy is preferable, one with minor defects would do. According to Abu Da’ud and Ibn Majah, the Prophet sacrificed two castrated, fat, horned rams. It has been conjectured however that the rams must have been castrated without the removal of testicles (Ibn Kathir).

    لَكُمْ فِيهَا مَنَافِعُ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى ثُمَّ مَحِلُّهَا إِلَى الْبَيْتِ الْعَتِيقِ (33)

    22|33| In them55 you have benefits for an appointed term.56 Then their sanctioned place of sacrifice is at the Ancient House.57

    55. That is, in the animals of sacrifice.
    56. That is, you can draw benefits of ride, milk, wool, etc., so long as they are not marked off as animals for sacrifice. Once you have done that, these benefits are lost. Hence the words, “In them you have benefits for an appointed term.” This was the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and others (Ibn Jarir).
    “Had-yu” is that animal that a pilgrim carries with him at Hajj or `Umrah to the Haram for sacrifice in the Haram area (Shafi`).
    However, riding the beast (if there is no other beast available for ride: Shafi`) seems to be allowed. According to a report in Bukhari,

    عَنْ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ : أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- رَأَى رَجُلاً يَسُوقُ بَدَنَةً قَالَ :« ارْكَبْهَا ». قَالَ : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّهَا بَدَنَةً. قَالَ :« ارْكَبْهَا وَيْلَكَ »

    The Prophet saw a man leading a camel. He told him, “Mount her.” The man said, “It is for sacrifice.” The Prophet said somewhat impatiently, “Woe unto you, mount her” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Asad gives the last touch: “This stress on the symbolic character of all the rites connected with the pilgrimage is meant to draw the believer’s attention to the spiritual meaning of those rites, and thus to warn him against making, unthinkingly, a sort of fetish of them.”
    57. The allusion by “Bayt al-`Ateeq” at this point is to the Haram (and not the House). It is within the boundaries of the Haram alone that ritual animals are to be sacrificed (Thanwi).
    Qurtubi, however, states that the pronoun in “mahillu-ha” refers to the sha`aair (rites, sing. sha`eer) of Hajj. And the meaning of the verse then is, “Then the termination of the rituals (sha`aair) should be at the Sacred Mosque.” That is, the Hajj rites should end with the Final Tawaf (Tawaf al-Ifadah). This is how Imam Malik understood it, while the understanding as in the translation was that of (the Hanafiyyah: Shafi`) and Imam Shafe`i.

    وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ جَعَلْنَا مَنْسَكًا لِيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُمْ مِنْ بَهِيمَةِ الْأَنْعَامِ ۗ فَإِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ فَلَهُ أَسْلِمُوا ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُخْبِتِينَ (34)

    22|34| And to every people We appointed rites (of sacrifice)58 that they might celebrate Allah’s Name over such beasts of flocks as He provided them.59 Your Lord is one God. Therefore, to Him surrender,60 and give glad tiding to the humble.61

    58. Although, as Ibn `Abbas has said, generally “mansak” (pl. manaasik) is for religious rites, here the particular reference seems to be to sacrificial rites. Zayd b. Aslam thought however that the allusion was to Makkah (Ibn Kathir).
    Actually, in its root the word mansak is for worship. With the passage of time it came to be used for a special kind of worship, and for Hajj, which is one of the methods of worship. The word is also used in the sense of sacrifice. (The Qur’an used the word at various places in any of the three senses: Shafi`). Nevertheless, Mujahid seems to be closer to truth who remarked that Allah had allowed followers of every religion to slaughter animals as a means of achieving closeness to Him - a practice he sanctioned to all and not to some alone: “And to every people We appointed rites (of sacrifice)” (Alusi).
    59. According to a narration in Ahmad, the Prophet was asked either by Zayd b. Arqam or someone else,

    يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ مَا هَذِهِ الأَضَاحِىُّ؟ قَالَ :« سُنَّةُ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ ». قَالَ قُلْنَا : فَمَا لَنَا فِيهَا؟ قَالَ :« بِكُلِّ شَعَرَةٍ حَسَنَةٌ ». قَالَ قُلْنَا : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ فَالصُّوفُ قَالَ :« بِكُلِّ شَعَرَةٍ مِنَ الصُّوفِ حَسَنَةٌ »

    “Messenger of Allah what exactly (is the meaning behind) these sacrifices?” He replied, “A Sunnah of your father Ibrahim.” He was asked, “And what is our share in it?” He replied, “For every hair a good deed.” He was asked, “What about wool?” He answered, “For every hair out of the wool, a good deed” (Ibn Kathir).
    Asad points to another aspect: “(The sacrifice is to be made) as a conscious, selfless offering in His name of something that one cherishes as necessary and valuable, and not as an attempt to ‘propitiate’ Him who is far above anything that resembles human emotion.”
    60. That is, even though the Laws of the Prophets may vary and may abrogate one another, all Prophets called mankind to the worship of one God, hence to Him must all surrender (Ibn Kathir).
    Another possible meaning is, although Allah has sanctioned that animals be sacrificed in His name, true virtue lies not in sacrifices, but belief in His Oneness (Au.).
    61. “Humble” is one acceptable translation of “mukhbiteen” (which has its root in “khabt” which is used in Arabic for a low ground: Shafi`). Mujahid stated however that at this point it means “the contented” or “those who are satisfied” as against being in doubts (Ibn Jarir). But, as Raghib has pointed out, it could mean “striving – or working - hard” which, in the light of the demanding situations of Hajj, seems to be the most fitting meaning (Alusi).
    Alusi and Thanwi also use the opportunity to point out that the sanction to different approaches and methods adopted by the people of suluk, is by implication hidden in this verse. They are accommodative of each other under a single plan, whose prime objective is Allah’s remembrance.

    الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَالصَّابِرِينَ عَلَىٰ مَا أَصَابَهُمْ وَالْمُقِيمِي الصَّلَاةِ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنْفِقُونَ (35)

    22|35| Those, whose hearts are filled with fear when Allah is mentioned, those who show patience over what strikes them,62 those who (assiduously) perform the Prayers, and those who expend (in charity) out of what We have provided them.63

    62. Of afflictions, writes Imam Razi, there are two kinds: those coming from Allah, and those caused by the people. As regards ones coming from Allah, to bear them out with patience is a religious obligation. As for those coming from the people, bearing them with resignation is not obligatory. One might seek redress. In fact, (if it is from the unbelievers) one might even fight it out.
    63. That is, sincere and pure belief in Allah’s oneness is such a thing that it inculcates as its reward several qualities of the body and spirit: fear in the heart, patience, establishment of Prayers, expending in the way of Allah, etc. (based on Thanwi).

    وَالْبُدْنَ جَعَلْنَاهَا لَكُمْ مِنْ شَعَائِرِ اللَّهِ لَكُمْ فِيهَا خَيْرٌ ۖ فَاذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهَا صَوَافَّ ۖ فَإِذَا وَجَبَتْ جُنُوبُهَا فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْقَانِعَ وَالْمُعْتَرَّ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ سَخَّرْنَاهَا لَكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ (36)

    22|36| And the sacrificial beast:64 We have appointed them for you as among Allah’s symbols. In them are benefits for you.65 Therefore, pronounce Allah’s Name over them as they line up (for sacrifice).66 Then, when they collapse on their sides,67 eat thereof and feed the contented as well as the expectant.68 Thus We have subjected them to you haply you will give thanks.69

    64. “Budna” (sing.: “badanah”) is primarily for camels. But subsequently, as in a hadith, cows were also included in the definition because of their large size (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Razi).
    Yusuf Ali looks deeper into the reason why camels alone were mentioned here. He writes, “What was expressed in general terms (above) is applied here more particularly to camels, the most precious and useful of animals of Arabia, whose mode of slaughter for sacrifice is different from that of smaller animals: the special word for such sacrifice is Nahr (cviii: 2).”
    65. Accordingly, some of the Salaf would do some trading – however small - in camels during Hajj, citing this verse, which spoke of benefits therein (Zamakhshari).
    66. Some scholars have read the word “swawaaf” in the sense of “saafinah” meaning, the state of being a foot (folded and) tied to itself, which forces the camel to stand on three of its legs. It is slaughtered in that position, so that with loss of blood it collapses on its side. But other scholars have understood “sawaaf” as meaning, “khaalis” i.e., purely, sincerely (for Allah) – Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Alusi and others.
    We have a report from Jabir b. `Abdullah in Abu Da’ud and Tirmidhi. He said, “I did my `Eid Prayers with the Prophet. A ram was brought to him, which he slaughtered. He did it by saying,

    بِاسْمِ اللهِ وَاللهُ أَكْبَر اللَّهُمَّ هذا عَنِّي و عَمَّن لَمْ يُضَحِّ مِنْ أُمَّتِي

    ‘In the name of Allah. Allah is Great. O Allah, this is from me and from those of my Ummah who did not sacrifice.’”
    Note that the Prophet acted upon two verses (in the same order) when he said before slaughtering:
    بِسمِ اللهِ و اللهُ أَكْبَر
    Those two verses are number 36 and 37. In no. 36 Allah commanded, “Therefore, pronounce Allah’s Name over them ..” And in no. 37 He said, “That is how He has subjected them to you so that you might chant the greatness of Allah” (Qurtubi).
    According to another report (also in Abu Da’ud), Jabir said, the Prophet slaughtered two rams on an `Eid day saying,

    إِنِّي وَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِيَ لِلَّذِي فَطَرَ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ حَنِيفًا مُسْلِمًا وَمَا أَنَا مِنْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَبِذَلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ اللَّهُمَّ مِنْكَ وَلَكَ عَنْ مُحَمَّدٍ وَأُمَّتِهِ
    “I have indeed turned my face towards Him who created the heavens and the earth – having surrendered myself to him alone – and I am not of the pagans. Surely, my living and my death is for the Lord of the worlds. He has no partners and that is what I have been ordered, and first of those who submit. In the name of Allah. Allah is great. O Allah, from You, for You, on behalf of Muhammad and his followers.” He also said, as in the Sahihayn,

    إِنَّ أَوَّلَ مَا نَبْدَأُ بِهِ يَوْمَنَا هَذَا أَنْ نُصَلِّيَ ، ثُمَّ نَرْجِعَ فَنَنْحَرَ ، فَمَنْ فَعَلَ هَذَا فَقَدْ أَصَابَ سُنَّتَنَا ، وَمَنْ نَحَرَ فَإِنَّمَا هُوَ لَحْمٌ قَدَّمَهُ لأَهْلِهِ لَيْسَ مِنَ النُّسُكِ فِي شَيْءٍ
    “The first thing we do on this our day is to Pray (the `Eid Prayers), then we shall return and sacrifice. Whoever did that, found our Sunnah. But, whoever slaughtered before the Prayers, then that is some meat that he offered to his family. It has nothing of the sacrifice (required of him).”
    Finally, a report in Tirmidhi says that the Prophet lived in Madinah for ten years. Every year he offered a sacrifice on the occasion of `Eid al-Ad-ha. And Muslim has a report which says that the Prophet slaughtered sixty-three camels (perhaps one corresponding to each year of his life: Au.) when he performed his Hajj (Ibn Kathir).
    67. The translation at this point has the backing of the understanding of Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid. (Linguistically, wajaba is a synonym of saqata, meaning, to fall: Zamakhshari). This is because, adds Qurtubi, camels are slaughtered while they stand on three legs, and so fall on their sides with loss of blood. Another meaning however, that of Zayd b. Aslam is, “when it is dead.” Of course this reflects the meaning of Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid for, an animal is not lawful until it is completely lifeless (which happens after the collapse). A report in Tirmidhi, Abu Da’ud and Ahmad states it clearly (in a Sahih report: Au.):

    مَا قُطِعَ مِنَ الْبَهِيمَةِ وَهِىَ حَيَّةٌ فَهُوَ مَيْتَةٌ
    “Whatever is sliced off an animal, while it is alive, is carrion” (Ibn Kathir).
    68. The rendering of “qani`” and “mu`tar” is following the understanding of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Qurazi. But there have been other explanations also (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari). Ibn Jarir prefers the reverse meaning. However, since the words are of the “azdaad” type (those that afford opposite meanings), either way it would mean: ‘give those who ask and those who do not’ (Au.). This verse is the basis of the scholars’ suggestion that the sacrificial meat should be divided into three parts. One for oneself, another for friends, and a third for the poor since Allah said, “eat thereof and feed the contented as well as the expectant” (Ibn Kathir).
    69. That is, that is how the beasts have been tamed and humbled for mankind, ready for ride, milk, or slaughter (Ibn Kathir), while, much smaller animals of the forest are impossible for humans to control (Alusi).
    Majid adds, “Sacrifice in Islam is nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else than a natural, visible, expression of homage and gratitude to the Creator. Yusuf Ali gives the rationale: “He (Allah) has given us power over the brute creation, and permitted us to eat meat, but only if we pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life, for without this solemn invocation, we are apt to forget the sacredness of life.”

    لَنْ يَنَالَ اللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَاؤُهَا وَلَٰكِنْ يَنَالُهُ التَّقْوَىٰ مِنْكُمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ سَخَّرَهَا لَكُمْ لِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُحْسِنِينَ (37)

    22|37| Neither their meat nor their blood reaches Allah,70 but rather it is your piety that reaches Him.71 That is how He has subjected them to you so that you might chant the greatness of Allah for that He guided you.72 And give glad tidings to those who excell.

    70. The pagans used to splatter blood of the slaughtered animals on their idols and around the Holy House. So Allah revealed, “Neither their meat nor their blood reaches Allah..” (Zamakhshari). It is piety that reaches Him, in the manner of a sound report (in Muslim and others: Au.), from the Prophet which says,

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى صُوَرِكُمْ وَأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَلَكِنْ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ وَأَعْمَالِكُمْ
    “Allah does not look at your faces, nor at your colors. He looks at your hearts and deeds” (Ibn Kathir).
    Majid writes, “(.. sacrifice is not a sort of meal served before God). Such truth, looking self-evident to the Muslim reader, needed a clear and emphatic enunciation in view of the horrible misconceptions and superstitions prevalent among many nations, not excluding Jews and Christians. For we read in the OT:- ‘It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.’(Le. 17: 11). And in the NT:- ‘Without shedding of blood is no remission.’ (He. 9: 22) Among the Babylonians, ‘the gods feed in heaven … they eat the offering … the gods scent the savour, and gods scent the sweet savour: like flies do they gather themselves together about the offerer.’ (EBr. C. 4119). ‘Throughout the Semitic field the fundamental idea of sacrifice’ was that ‘of communion between the god and his worshippers by joint participation in the living flesh and blood of a sacred victim.’ (Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites, p. 345).”
    71. Although the word is in the general sense, here in particular “taqwa” implies the intention to please Allah by the sacrifice (Ibn Jarir).
    Majid comments: “It is the spirit of willing devotion and ready obedience underlying sacrifice and offering that is accepted by God who is the God of righteousness, the very same acme of morality. It is only piety of heart or righteousness of conduct, and not anything in lieu of it, that is acceptable to Him. Sacrifice, in Islam, is neither honorific nor peculiar, much less a magical sacrament. It is essentially symbolic – an external symbol of an internal dedication and voluntary submission to the will of the Almighty. The Divine itself is absolutely without needs, and all acts of sacrifice and worship are for our own benefits. The grace of God reaches everyone and everywhere and needs only some piety for its reception.
    Fiqh Points
    1. Sacrifice of an animal through slaughter is not a requirement on pilgrims alone. It is upon all those who can afford it.
    2. However a year need not pass on a man’s Zakath-due wealth for sacrifice to become wajib, if a man has the amount on the day of sacrifice, it is wajib on him.
    3. According to the Hanafiyya, sacrifice on the occasion of `Eid al-Ad-ha is wajib on those who are bound to Pay the zakah. Others have said that it is Sunnah Mu’akkadah, (a confirmed Sunnah, lower in status than wajib) – Au.
    4. One sacrifice is enough for the whole household.
    5. However, if a man’s wife pays zakah, she must also offer a sacrifice.
    6. Imam Abu Hanifah has ruled that village dwellers could slaughter immediately after sunrise since they are not required to offer the `Eid Prayers.
    7. Most scholars have allowed that one might say at the time of slaughter: “O Allah! Accept (it) from me.” In fact, Imam Shafe`i has even allowed that one might add the peace formula on the Prophet, but most others did not agree with him. But Imam Abu Hanifah thought adding anything else was undesirable.
    8. All of the days of tashriq are days of sacrifice. That is, according to the Hanafiyyah, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th (until `Asr time) of Dhu al-Hijjah.
    9. It is allowed but not the best time to sacrifice at night.
    10. Generally speaking, the animal has to be a mature one. And, roughly speaking, a sheep, ram, etc., have to be at least one year old. While a cow has to be two years old or above, and a camel five or above.
    11. Seven persons can share a sacrifice of a cow or a camel.
    72. That is, it is by Allah’s guidance that you sacrifice for Him. Had he not guided you, you might have either seen no spiritual benefit in it, and thus would have refused to slaughter altogether, or you might have slaughtered to other than Allah (Thanwi).

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُدَافِعُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ خَوَّانٍ كَفُورٍ (38)

    22|38| Surely, Allah defends those who have believed;73 verily, Allah does not approve of any dishonest, ungrateful (person).74

    73. The textual word for “defend” is not “yadfa`u” but rather “yudafi`u” which has the additional implication of a foreseen or actual attack on the person being defended.
    74. It is high degree of dishonesty and willful denial that leads a person to disbelieve in Allah’s oneness, or to blindness to the truth of Islam and hence to antagonism against the Muslims (Au.).

    أُذِنَ لِلَّذِينَ يُقَاتَلُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُوا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ نَصْرِهِمْ لَقَدِيرٌ (39)

    22|39| Leave is given (hereby) to those against whom war is made75 - because they have been wronged. And, surely, Allah is capable of their help.76

    75. Generally, one feels impressed by A.J. Arberry’s translation that tries to remain as close as possible to the understanding of the majority. But not at this point. A plain verse, that does not demand a research to find out how an insignificant minority understood it in the past is translated by him as: “Leave is given to those who fight because they were wronged ..”
    76. Ibn Jarir notes and shows his own preference to the recitation of the Kufans, as well as of some Makkan (authorities) who have read the text slightly differently - in a manner it would render the meaning as, “(Allah) has allowed those who fight (to retaliate) against those Allah does not approve of ..” However, the great majority of the Ummah has recited in the manner now in the Qur’anic texts.
    In any case, Ibn `Abbas reported, “When the Prophet left Makkah, Abu Bakr said, ‘They have expelled their Prophet, to Allah we belong and to Him we return: they will be destroyed.’”
    Ibn `Abbas added, “When Allah revealed, ‘Leave is given to those against whom war is made – because they have been wronged,’ Abu Bakr remarked, ‘I knew there would be fighting.’”
    The report is somewhat weak (Qurtubi). But Albani treated it as Sahih while editing Tirmidhi and Nasa’i, in both of which it is found (Shawkani, S. Ibrahim).
    And Ibn Zayd said, “They were allowed to retaliate after ten years of wrongs.” Qatadah added, “This is the first ever verse revealed concerning Jihad” (Ibn Jarir).
    That being the case, it is thought that the verse is Madinan. Allah said in other places (47: 31),

    {وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ حَتَّى نَعْلَمَ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ مِنْكُمْ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَنَبْلُوَ أَخْبَارَكُمْ} [محمد: 31]
    “Surely, We shall try you until We know the patient fighters among you and (thus) We shall test your affairs.”
    He also said (9: 16),

    { أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَنْ تُتْرَكُوا وَلَمَّا يَعْلَمِ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا مِنْكُمْ وَلَمْ يَتَّخِذُوا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَلَا رَسُولِهِ وَلَا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلِيجَةً وَاللَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ} [التوبة: 16]
    “Have you imagined that you will be spared when Allah has not yet known those who fought from among you and did not take friends apart from Allah, His Messenger or the believers. And Allah is Aware of what you do.”
    He also said (3: 142),

    {أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَنْ تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَعْلَمِ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا مِنْكُمْ وَيَعْلَمَ الصَّابِرِينَ } [آل عمران: 142]
    “Or, do you think you will enter Paradise while Allah has not yet known those who fought from among you, and known those who showed patience.”
    Ibn `Abbas has said, “Allah decreed Jihad at the right time. At Makkah the pagans were in large numbers. If He had asked them to fight back when they were less than ten percent of the population, surely, it would have been tough on them. Thus, although when eighty or so of the Yethribites pledged their hands of support to the Prophet at `Aqabah, when they asked, ‘Messenger of Allah. Should we not fall upon these pagans here at Mina?’ He replied, ‘But rather, I have not been ordered to do that?’ But when they were driven out of Makkah, some going to Abyssinia, others to Madinah, and Allah provided them a shelter at Madinah, where they were able to establish their rule over a piece of land, Allah decreed Jihad by this verse, “Permitted are those (to retaliate) who are fought against..” (Ibn Kathir).
    And the beauty of this first verse allowing the Muslims to fight back, when fought against, is that the word “fight” has not been used. This shows Islam’s distaste for matters settled with the help of wars, but its readiness to retaliate if attacked (Au.).

    الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ إِلَّا أَنْ يَقُولُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ۗ وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُمْ بِبَعْضٍ لَهُدِّمَتْ صَوَامِعُ وَبِيَعٌ وَصَلَوَاتٌ وَمَسَاجِدُ يُذْكَرُ فِيهَا اسْمُ اللَّهِ كَثِيرًا ۗ وَلَيَنْصُرَنَّ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَنْصُرُهُ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَقَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ (40)

    22|40| Those that were expelled from their homes without right except that they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah.’ And, were it not for Allah to check one set of people by means of another,77 surely, (many) monasteries, churches,78 synagogues, and mosques79 - in which Allah’s name is much pronounced80 - would have been pulled down.81 Assuredly, Allah will help those who help Him, surely, Allah is Powerful, Mighty.82

    77. It is said that twenty-seven of `Ali’s followers reported him as saying that the meaning is, “If not for Allah shielding the Followers (taabe`iyyun) by means of the Companions, surely, (many) monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which Allah’s name is much pronounced, would have been pulled down.” However, the great majority have accepted the apparent meaning, viz., “If Allah had not checked the evil of some people by means of the good of others, (many) monasteries, ..” (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi). Perhaps `Ali was leading to another possible shade of meaning (Au.).
    However, another aspect of the meaning is touched upon by Qurtubi. He explains Allah’s words, “were it not for Allah to check one set of people by means of another..” as meaning, “Had not Allah legalized wars unto the Prophets and believers, the unbelievers would have suppressed the believers and caused the desertion of their places of devotion to one God. But rather, He defended them, legislated fighting, so that, ultimately, they could be free to worship their Lord.
    78. The following is a surprised addition by a sufi commentator Thanwi: Two places of Christian worship and devotion have been named (as against one of every other community) perhaps because they ran a parallel religion in monasteries.
    79. “Masaajid” (sing. “masjid”), lit. a place where prostration is made, is perhaps so called because prostration is the best part of the Islamic Prayer (Alusi), the most distinctly different and hence noteworthy to others (Au.).
    80. Scholars have differed over whether the qualifying sentence “in which Allah’s name is much pronounced” is applicable to all places of worship or to Masaajid alone. In our times however, it shouldn’t be difficult to attribute the statement to Masaajid in particular, since, it is within them alone that Allah’s name is mentioned much. Most other houses of worship have either been abandoned, or have been converted to dance and music halls for the faithful (Au.).
    81. Why did Allah mention together the various houses of worship? Is it to approve what goes on within them? Are they of the same status as mosques? Imam Razi answers that such is not the case. But rather, they had Allah’s approval at the time of their Prophets but not later when a new Prophet came and the disbelieved in him. He canceled the old. In other words, what the verse is saying, had not Allah defended the Synagogues during the Mosaic and later Jewish times, they would have been destroyed; had not Allah defended the Christian Churches during the times when the Final Messenger had not yet appeared.. - they would have been destroyed.
    It might also be noted, writes Qurtubi, that neither the pagan nor the Magian temples have been mentioned. That is because One God is not mentioned at all in those places of worship.
    82. The rendering of `Aziz as “Mighty” is inadequate. It stands for, as Yusuf Ali puts it, “Exalted in power, rank, dignity; Incomparable; Full of might and majesty; Able to enforce His will.”

    الَّذِينَ إِنْ مَكَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَمَرُوا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَنَهَوْا عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ ۗ وَلِلَّهِ عَاقِبَةُ الْأُمُورِ (41)

    22|41| Those, whom, if We established in the earth, they would establish the Prayer, expend in charity, enjoin the good and forbid the wrong.83 And with Allah rests the end of (all) affairs.

    83. So, that’s the condition for securing Allah’s help: Jihad should be conducted to establish Allah’s religion (Thanwi).
    And, by the words “those who, if established in the land ... ” the allusion is to the Companions. (Because, it is during their reign that the four primary spiritual functions of a government were fulfilled in the highest sense, although, the room is open for others who will follow them unto the Last Hour: Au.).
    Abu al-Aaliyyah has said: (Although the mention here is in general terms), the specific meaning of bidding the good and forbidding evil is that they invite to Allah’s oneness and forbid idol worship. For, whoever invited to Allah’s oneness and forbid the worship of idols, actually invited to the good and forbid the evil (in the highest sense) - Ibn Jarir.

    وَإِنْ يُكَذِّبُوكَ فَقَدْ كَذَّبَتْ قَبْلَهُمْ قَوْمُ نُوحٍ وَعَادٌ وَثَمُودُ (42)

    22|42| But, if they give you the lie then (no wonder), before them the people of Nuh, `Aad and Thamud also gave the lie.

    وَقَوْمُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَقَوْمُ لُوطٍ (43)

    22|43| And (so did) the people of Ibrahim and Lut.

    وَأَصْحَابُ مَدْيَنَ ۖ وَكُذِّبَ مُوسَىٰ فَأَمْلَيْتُ لِلْكَافِرِينَ ثُمَّ أَخَذْتُهُمْ ۖ فَكَيْفَ كَانَ نَكِيرِ (44)

    22|44| And the inhabitants of Madyan.84 And, Musa was (also) given the lie.85 But I granted respite to the unbelievers (for a while) and then seized them. How then was My repudiation punishment?86

    84. That is, the nation of Shu`ayb (Ibn Jarir).
    85. One might appreciate the accuracy of the Qur’an that while it said about other Prophets that their people cried lies to them, about Musa it did not say that he was cried lies to, for, his people did not lay lies on him (Ibn Jarir, Razi). But Yusuf Ali has a deeper meaning to offer. He writes: “The case of Moses is mentioned apart, as his people survived to the time of our Prophet and survive to the present, and they frequently rebelled against Moses (ii, 49-61).”
    86. The word “inkaar” means to repudiate, reproach, reject, disavowal, etc. The meaning here is, “See how was my repudiation of your continued denial” (Ibn Kathir, Baghawi and others).
    Some of the ancient scholars have said that the time gap between Fir`awn’s words, ‘I am your highest Lord,’ and his destruction was forty years. (Thus long did Allah grant him respite). And a report in the Sahihayn says,
    إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَيُمْلِي لِلظَّالِمِ حَتَّى إِذَا أَخَذَهُ لَمْ يُفْلِتْهُ
    “Allah extends respite to a wrongdoer. But when He seizes him, He does not let go” (Ibn Kathir).
    The textual word “nakeer” has at least two strong connotations. In the words of Mawdudi, “(1) strong disapproval of someone’s evil ways; (2) the infliction of a severe punishment on him.”

    فَكَأَيِّنْ مِنْ قَرْيَةٍ أَهْلَكْنَاهَا وَهِيَ ظَالِمَةٌ فَهِيَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَىٰ عُرُوشِهَا وَبِئْرٍ مُعَطَّلَةٍ وَقَصْرٍ مَشِيدٍ (45)

    22|45| So, how many a township We destroyed which was given to wrongdoing!? So (there) it is fallen on its roofs,87 and wells lying idle,88 and castles well-built.89

    87. “The roof fell in first, and the whole structure, walls and all, came tumbling after, as happens in ruins. The place was turned upside down (Yusuf Ali).
    88. Wells were always a place most frequented in older times. You knew the strength of a village, from the strength of people turning up at the wells (Au.).
    89. The understanding of Mujahid, `Ikrimah, `Ataa’, and others is reflected in the translation. They said it means “plastered.” That is, well built. But Qatadah and Dahhak said that it meant “lofty” (Ibn Jarir).

    أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَتَكُونَ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ يَعْقِلُونَ بِهَا أَوْ آذَانٌ يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا ۖ فَإِنَّهَا لَا تَعْمَى الْأَبْصَارُ وَلَٰكِنْ تَعْمَى الْقُلُوبُ الَّتِي فِي الصُّدُورِ (46)

    22|46| Do they not journey through the land, so that they might have hearts that they think thereby,90 or ears they hear thereby, for, it is not sights that go blind, but rather, hearts that are in the breasts that go blind.

    90. Qurtubi has attributed to Abu Hanifah, although he seems to doubt the authenticity, that the mind is the main reasoning organ. Obviously, he was right, but how did he arrive at that conclusion is not easy to answer.
    As if Abu Haneefa’s opinion is not enough of a surprise, at a time when there were no electrodes to be attached to the brain in the laboratories to measure the activities of the brain, Shawkani’s conjectures is all the more surprising. He says that even if the actual process of reasoning takes place in the brain, the signals could be going from the heart – just as the signals go from the ear, but actual hearing is done by the brain.
    Latest scientific findings have vindicated Shawkani’s conjecture made at a time when the scientists were unanimous that brain is the only organ that thinks.
    The Heart is also a Brain:
    The surprise finding of this century is that heart has its own brain, complete with neurons, dendrites, axons, memory, thought processes, data handlers, and rest of the neuron paraphernalia.
    Back in 60s neurophysiologists had discovered a neutral pathway and mechanism whereby input from the heart to the brain could ‘inhibit’ or ‘facilitate’ the brain’s electrical activity. Soon it was discovered that the heart is the most powerful generator of rhythmic information patterns in the human body. The conclusion was that as a critical nodal point in many of the body’s interacting systems, the heart is uniquely positioned as a powerful entry point into the communication network that connects body, mind, emotions, and spirit.
    Amazingly, the neurons of the nervous system of the heart, numbering some 40,000, group together to form what could be called the ‘brains’ of the heart. They regulate and control cardiac functions of the heart, while they are responsible for functions like learning, memory (both short and long-term) and even ‘feel’ and ‘sense.’
    Indeed, in some respects, the heart seems to be more powerful than the brain. Its electrical field is 60 times greater in amplitude than the electrical activity generated by the brain, and the magnetic field produced by the heart is more than 5,000 times greater in strength than the field generated by the brain. It is so strong that it can be detected with the help of magnetometers from the distance of a few meters from the body. This opens up the possibility of hear-to-heart transfer of information through heart-brain synchronization of two people when they interact.
    After two decades of research, it is now firmly established that the brain in the head is not the only brain in the body. There are at least two others, one in the heart and another in the gut. In fact, the gut has many more neurons (about 100 million) but the brain in the heart seems to control higher human senses, perceptions, emotions and feelings. It can also ‘remember’ feelings associated with other people and alter the heart rhythm when people meet with each other. Thus, feelings such as of love, hatred, etc. reside precisely in the heart.
    By 1991 research had advanced and for the first time the idea of “heart brain” was introduced by the scientists. By now it is firmly established that the heart has its own intrinsic nervous system that operates and processes information independently of the brain or the nervous system.
    The specialists of this newest scientific discipline are called Neurocardiologists. They have discovered a profound communication link between the heart and the brain. And, what is surprising, they have discovered that although communications take place from both directions, more information is sent across by the heart to the brain than the other way round. The messages from the heart are sent to the brain through several pathways to an area called the ‘medulla,’ located in the stem of the brain.
    This relatively new area on ongoing research is releasing study results almost weekly. The Institute of Heart Math has now published photographs of neurons in the heart--some taken with a confocal microscope. Researchers call these neurons "the little brain in the heart” (Au.).

    وَيَسْتَعْجِلُونَكَ بِالْعَذَابِ وَلَنْ يُخْلِفَ اللَّهُ وَعْدَهُ ۚ وَإِنَّ يَوْمًا عِنْدَ رَبِّكَ كَأَلْفِ سَنَةٍ مِمَّا تَعُدُّونَ (47)

    22|47| And they ask you to hasten the chastisement, while Allah will never fail in His promise.91 Verily, a day with your Lord is like a thousand years by your count.92

    91. Muslims – who wish things to hasten up - will do well to understand this verse. In Mawdudi’s words: “This refers to the ludicrous statement repeatedly made by the Makkan unbelievers to the effect that if Muhammad (peace be upon him) was indeed a Prophet sent by God, then why had his detractors not been visited by the scourge that ought to afflict those who deny a true Prophet?”
    Further down he writes, “It is preposterous to think that the consequences of obeying or disobeying God’s injunctions can be observed instantly. If a nation is warned that a certain pattern of behavior it follows will prove catastrophic, it is absurd for them to retort that they have taken that course for the last ten, twenty, or fifty years, and still no calamity has befallen them. For it often takes not days, months or years, but centuries for the consequences of a people’s behavior to become fully evident.
    92. One might put forth here the Salaf’s understanding reflected in Asad’s words, “I.e., what men conceive of as ‘time’ has no meaning with reference to God, because He is timeless, without beginning and without end, so that ‘in relation to Him, one day and a thousand years are alike’ (Razi). Cf. 70: 4, where in the same sense, a ‘day’ is said to be equal to ‘fifty thousand years’, or the well-authenticated saying of the Prophet, ‘God says, “I am Time Absolute (Ad-Dahr)”.”
    Accordingly, Ibn Kathir adds, Sa`d b. Abi Waqqas is recorded in Abu Da’ud that the Prophet said, “I hope that my Ummah will not be so insignificant with its Lord as to be denied an extra half a day. Sa`d was asked, “And what is half a day?” He replied, “Five hundred years.”
    That is, Sa`d conjectured that the life of this Ummah is one day, where one day is equal to a thousand years. Further, its life-span has been extended by half a day, i.e. five hundred years. All in all it works out to 1500 years. However, that was Sa`d’s own opinion. Interestingly, while we are in 1432, the unbelievers are saying – going by several factors - that this is perhaps the last century (Au.).

    وَكَأَيِّنْ مِنْ قَرْيَةٍ أَمْلَيْتُ لَهَا وَهِيَ ظَالِمَةٌ ثُمَّ أَخَذْتُهَا وَإِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ (48)

    22|48| And to how many a township I gave respite which was given to wrong-doing? Then I seized it, and to Me is the (final) destination.

    قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّمَا أَنَا لَكُمْ نَذِيرٌ مُبِينٌ (49)

    22|49| Say, ‘O people! I am unto you a plain warner.’

    فَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُمْ مَغْفِرَةٌ وَرِزْقٌ كَرِيمٌ (50)

    22|50| Therefore, those who believed and worked righteous deeds, for them is forgiveness and a provision honorable.93

    93. That is, I am, O unbelievers, only a warner. It is not in my power to bring forward or push back the punishment, if you are destined to receive it (Tabari).
    In Yusuf Ali’s words, “It is the Messenger’s duty to convey the warning in the clearest terms to the wicked. It is no part of his duty to coerce them or judge them, or bring on the Punishment for them. That only rests with Allah. But the warning itself is full of Mercy; for it gives the highest hope to the repentant sinner who turns and comes to Allah.
    He also writes, “The sustenance must be construed in the widest sense, spiritual as well as intellectual and physical. The reward of righteousness is far more generous than any merit there may be in the creature following the Will of his Creator.”

    وَالَّذِينَ سَعَوْا فِي آيَاتِنَا مُعَاجِزِينَ أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ الْجَحِيمِ (51)

    22|51| As for those who strive against Our revelations, seeking to frustrate (Our plan), they indeed are the companions of the blazing Fire.94

    94. Yusuf Ali comments, “It will not be in their power to frustrate Allah’s Plan; all they will do is to go further and further down in their spiritual state, deeper and deeper in their Hell.”

    وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ مِنْ رَسُولٍ وَلَا نَبِيٍّ إِلَّا إِذَا تَمَنَّىٰ أَلْقَى الشَّيْطَانُ فِي أُمْنِيَّتِهِ فَيَنْسَخُ اللَّهُ مَا يُلْقِي الشَّيْطَانُ ثُمَّ يُحْكِمُ اللَّهُ آيَاتِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ (52)

    22|52| And We did not send before you any Messenger or Prophet,95 but when he recited, Shaytan cast (his own suggestion) into his recitation.96 But Allah cancels out what Shaytan casts. Thus Allah establishes His revelations;97 and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.98

    95. The definition of a rasool is clear, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear way to distinguish between a rasul and a nabiyy. There are several definitions, but one which draws the approval of most is that a rasool is a raised one, sent specifically to a people, who, therefore, is given a new Shari`ah and hence a Book. In contrast, although a nabiyy is also a raised one but he follows the Shari`ah of a previous rasool, although he may on his own receive a Book or might not. Hence every rasool is a nabiyy also, but every nabiyy need not be a rasool.
    The two functions can also be guessed from the root of the two words. Rasool is from rasala, which in the transitive form means to send. It is implied that he has a message. In contrast Nabiyy has its root in naba’ which in the transitive means to inform, to let know, to prophesize. A Nabiyy then prophesizes the next Nabiyy or Rasool, and, in addition, gives news of the events to follow, here in this world, or in the Next. Hence we have the Prophet’s words, “There hasn’t been a Nabiyy before me but who warned (prophesized) Dajjal.” Also see Surah Al-Kahaf, note 120 for more details (Au.).
    96. As Allah said elsewhere (6: 112),

    {وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَا لِكُلِّ نَبِيٍّ عَدُوًّا شَيَاطِينَ الْإِنْسِ وَالْجِنِّ يُوحِي بَعْضُهُمْ إِلَى بَعْضٍ زُخْرُفَ الْقَوْلِ غُرُورًاَ} [الأنعام: 112]
    “That is how We have made for every Prophet enemies out of the Satans of Men and Jinn, some of whom inspire the others with decorative false words.” (Thanwi).
    This verse and others of its kind are the key to understanding the creativity of those who are at false propaganda against Islam. They always come up with a new idea, or give an old one an entirely new dressing. They are inspired by the Devils. Allah said (2: 257),

    {اللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يُخْرِجُهُمْ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَوْلِيَاؤُهُمُ الطَّاغُوتُ} [البقرة: 257، 258]
    “Allah is the Protector of the believers. He brings them out of darknesses into Light. As for those who have disbelieved, Devils are their friends..” (Au.).
    The translation of this verse, however, follows the understanding and interpretation of Ibn `Abbas (as in Bukahri: Qurtubi), Mujahid and Dahhak. The literal meaning, of the word “umniyyatihi” as well as “tamanna” would be, “his desire.” Thus the first half could be paraphrased as, “And We did not send before you any Messenger or Prophet, but when he framed a desire, Shaytan cast (his own suggestion) into his desire.”
    97. Two meanings are affordable and could even be combined. One, as Thanwi has pointed out, although the revelations are well established by themselves, Allah re-confirms them by canceling out whatever Satan tries to interject. Second, that is how Allah establishes His revelations in the heart of the believers. And, once again, with reference to Devilish inspirations into the heart of the unbelievers, whenever that happens, Allah re-establishes the Truth by inspiring the right answers in the heart of the believers, or by canceling the effect of the propaganda through its own self-contradictions (Au.).
    98. The second generation commentators have provided the following as the background story and context of revelation: Ibn Ka`b al-Qurazi, Ibn Qays, Abu al-`Aliyyah, Sa`id b. Jubayr, Dahhak and even Ibn `Abbas (although through an unreliable chain of narrators: Au.), say that once the Prophet was reciting chapter Al-Najm in the Holy Mosque. When he reached, “Have you considered the Laat and `Uzza and the third the Manaat?” - Shaytan interjected the following words,

    تِلْكَ الْغَرَانِيقُ الْعُلَى وَشَفَاعَتُهُنَّ لَتُرْتَجَى
    “These lofty swans, surely their intercession is a thing coveted.” It is alleged that the Prophet recited the interjected lines and continued thereon with the rest of the chapter. At the end of it he prostrated himself. The Qurayshis present there felt pleased that at last the Prophet had softened towards their deities. Therefore, they also prostrated themselves, except for Walid b. al-Mughira, who was too old to bend down and so took some dust and rubbed it on his forehead.
    In his usual fashion, Ibn Jarir faithfully reports all the versions with all their variations. However, he does not, following his usual habit, pass his judgment about any of them except to note that perhaps while the Prophet was reciting the chapter, Shaytan interjected the swan verse, which the pagans thought were uttered by the Prophet. (I.e., recitation by the Prophet of the interjected lines might not be true, but Satan’s interjection could be so: Au.). Ibn Kathir notes that Baghawi has also expressed the same opinion, which happens to be the opinion of Ibn `Abbas as in Bukhari.
    Also, although the main story (concerning recitation, prostration, etc.) is in Bukhari and other books, it is without the part about interjection of the words “These lofty swans, surely their intercession is a thing coveted” (Ibn Kathir, Qurtubi and others).
    Qurtubi declares all the reports on this subject as untrustworthy. Ibn Kathir is with him. He writes, “Although many commentators of the Qur’an have mentioned this story, all of them have the name of the Companion-narrator at the top missing. I have not come across a single narration complete of chain.”
    Imam Razi adds: Qur’anic injunctions do not allow us to accept that the Prophet could add anything to revelation. It said (69: 44-46),

    {وَلَوْ تَقَوَّلَ عَلَيْنَا بَعْضَ الْأَقَاوِيلِ (44) لَأَخَذْنَا مِنْهُ بِالْيَمِينِ (45) ثُمَّ لَقَطَعْنَا مِنْهُ الْوَتِينَ} [الحاقة: 44 - 46]
    “If he were to fasten upon Us any of the sayings, We shall seize him by the right hand, then We shall severe off his jugular vein.”
    Again (10: 15),

    {مَا يَكُونُ لِي أَنْ أُبَدِّلَهُ مِنْ تِلْقَاءِ نَفْسِي } [يونس: 15]
    “It is not for me to change it by myself. I only follow that which is revealed unto me.”
    Thirdly (53: 3-4),

    {وَمَا يَنْطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَى (3) إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَى } [النجم: 3، 4]
    “He does not speak by his desire. It is nothing but revelation that is revealed to him.”
    Fourthly (17: 73),

    {وَإِنْ كَادُوا لَيَفْتِنُونَكَ عَنِ الَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ لِتَفْتَرِيَ عَلَيْنَا غَيْرَهُ وَإِذًا لَاتَّخَذُوكَ خَلِيلًا} [الإسراء: 73]
    “They were close to tempting you away from that which We have revealed to you so that you might fasten upon Us something else. And, in that case, they would have taken you a friend.”
    Fifthly, (15: 42),

    {إِنَّ عِبَادِي لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانٌ إِلَّا مَنِ اتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ} [الحجر: 42]
    “Verily, you (Satan) shall have no power over My slaves except such of the rebellious ones who follow you.” In view of these verses, it is impossible that the Prophet should have recited the interjected lines.
    Further, continues Imam Razi, although it is true that Sahih books (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da’ud, Nasa’i: Alusi), carry reports of the Prophet reciting Surah Al-Najm, and men and Jinn prostrating themselves at the end of its recitation, but there is not a word in them about the swan-story. Accordingly, Ibn Khuzaymah conducted some research and demonstrated that that part of the story, which speaks of the Prophet uttering the Satanic suggestions, is a fabrication. So was Bayhaqi’s conclusion. Common sense also rejects it. Firstly, how could a Prophet who spent years criticizing and condemning idols speak in favor of them? Secondly, how could a single verse please the pagans so much that they did not even wait to find out whether he had truly made a compromising remark, before prostrating themselves?
    In addition to the above, what Alusi has to say is as follows: It is said that Ibn Is-haq, the famous biographer of the Prophet was asked about the swan story. He said that it was a fabrication, and proceeded to write a short treatise on it. Maaturudi has in fact said that the whole swan story is exactly what Allah described as Satan’s cast into the ears of the unbelievers. How could the Prophet ever accept the interjection when Allah said, “Falsehood cannot come to it from in front of it nor from its rear?” And, continues Alusi, how can such a thing happen when the consensus of opinion is that on the one hand the Prophet was protected against Satan, and on the other, the Qur’an is protected (by Allah)? Ibn Abi Hatim reports through a trustworthy chain of narrators Sa`id b. Jubayr as saying, “Never did Jibril come down to the Prophet with a Qur’anic revelation but he had four guardian angels with him.” Ibn Hajr has quite thoroughly dealt with the narrations and shown that all are weak except perhaps two that come to us through strong chains of narration (though not reaching up to the Prophet himself: Au.). Ibn Hajr has nevertheless concluded that something must have happened for so many people to report through several chains of narration.
    What that something is, we do not know for sure, but the swan-episode is pretty hard to believe (Au.).
    Dr. Mahdi Rizq-Allah has offered a detailed discussion in his “Seerah al-Nabawiyyah.” He writes: “Qadi `Ayad seems to have several sources before him. But his remarks are as follows, “None of the six canonical collections have mentioned this story and no trustworthy narrator has narrated it through an unbroken chain. There are many broken chains of narration that carry different versions of the story, some of which contradict each other.”
    “Thus, what weakens the story are the contradictions between its various versions. One version says the incident took place after a Prayer. Another that it happened during a Prayer. A third says that the Prophet spoke to himself by error. A fourth that Satan spoke out by his tongue. A fifth says the Prophet said those words from an extreme state of fatigue. A sixth says Satan made the most of a short spell of silence during which he recited it in the Prophet’s accent.
    “Sheikh Abu Shahba has brought to our notice Sheikh Muhammad `Abduh’s opinion who discredits the story for language reasons. Firstly, pagan deities have never been alluded to as swans elsewhere in the Arabic literature: neither prose nor poetry. Further, no one has stated that the word was commonly used in that sense, except that “Mu`jam al-Buldaan” has referred to it, but through unknown narrators. The term ghurnooq, ghirnooq, ghurneeq, and ghirneeq are used for black and white water birds. One of its variant meanings is “a handsome young man.” It has other uses. But, in a good quality speech that the rhetoricians would approve, it is never used in the sense of deities or goddesses.
    “Another reason for rejection of the story is the completely variant language style of the two: the Qur’anic verses and the words of the pagans that were supposed to fall in between. The first set of verses say (Al-Najm, 19-20),

    {أَفَرَأَيْتُمُ اللَّاتَ وَالْعُزَّى (19) وَمَنَاةَ الثَّالِثَةَ الْأُخْرَى} [النجم: 19، 20]

    “Have you considered the Laat and `Uzza? And Manaat the third of the three?” This passage was supposed to have been followed by the “swan line”, viz.,

    تِلْكَ الْغَرَانِيقُ الْعُلَى وَشَفَاعَتُهُنَّ لَتُرْتَجَى
    “These lofty swans, surely their intercession is a thing coveted.”
    And the Qur’anic verses that come after it say,

    {أَلَكُمُ الذَّكَرُ وَلَهُ الْأُنْثَى (21) تِلْكَ إِذًا قِسْمَةٌ ضِيزَى} [النجم: 21، 22]
    “Should there be males for you and for Him females? This then is a perverse division.”
    “It can be easily seen that the “swan verses’ do not fit into the lines either contextually or linguistically. In fact, the statements are contradictory. Far from rhetoricians and literary masters, even an ordinary Arabic-knowing person will declare the passage with the interpolation as grotesque.
    “What Dr. Shami had to point out about the period of revelation further destroys the credibility of the story. He shows that if the verses of the chapter Al-Hajj that talk of “tamanni” are not of the Madani period altogether, then, at least they were revealed between Makkah and Madinah journey; whereas the reported incident of the “swan story” is of the Makkan period. Can such a long stretch of time be imagined between the incident (of the “swan story”) and the verses (of ch. Hajj) that commented on the incident?
    “Further, a few verses of the Qur’an reject this story as false. (Apart from those quoted above), there is a verse according to which Iblis himself acknowledged that he will have no power over Allah’s true slaves. It says (38: 82, 83),

    {قَالَ فَبِعِزَّتِكَ لَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ (82) إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ} [ص: 82، 83]

    “He said, `By Your might, I shall misguide everyone of them except Your true slaves.’”
    Indeed, Satan has no power at all over those who believe in Allah and have trust in Him. The Qur’an said (16: 99),

    {إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ لَهُ سُلْطَانٌ عَلَى الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ} [النحل: 99]
    “Surely, he has no power over those who believe in Him and in Him they place their trust.”
    “As regards the reasons of pagan prostration, what is definitely proven, as in Bukhari, is that the Prophet recited chapter Al-Najm among a mixed gathering of Muslims and pagans. The ending passage of this chapter being what it is - a hammer blow to the heart - when the Prophet recited them, his voice began to tremble for the threat they hold. When he reached the words (53: 53-61),

    {وَالْمُؤْتَفِكَةَ أَهْوَى (53) فَغَشَّاهَا مَا غَشَّى (54) فَبِأَيِّ آلَاءِ رَبِّكَ تَتَمَارَى (55) هَذَا نَذِيرٌ مِنَ النُّذُرِ الْأُولَى (56) أَزِفَتِ الْآزِفَةُ (57) لَيْسَ لَهَا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ كَاشِفَةٌ (58) أَفَمِنْ هَذَا الْحَدِيثِ تَعْجَبُونَ (59) وَتَضْحَكُونَ وَلَا تَبْكُونَ (60) وَأَنْتُمْ سَامِدُونَ} [النجم: 53 - 61]

    “And the overthrown (townships) that were hurtled; and He covered them with what He covered; which of the favors then will you doubt? This is one of the warnings of the (same kind as the) early warnings. The approaching day has come close. There is none besides Allah who can make it appear. Are you surprised then with this discourse? You laugh and do not cry? And you are proudly sporting?”
    At that point the awesomeness of the text melted the heart of the proud listeners. They lost control of themselves and involuntarily fell into prostration along with the believers.
    “However, when they turned back from the assembly and felt that the awe-inspiring threats had momentarily got the better of them, they regretted and wished to find an excuse for what had issued of them involuntarily. So they invented the fib that the Prophet had spoken well of their deities and quoted the swan-verse that they themselves fabricated.”
    Quote from Mahdi Rizq-Allah ends here.
    The conjecture that the Prophet’s recitation got better of the pagans is not a far-fetched one, writes Alusi. The Qur’an is, in general, and verses of Surah Al-Najm in particular, so powerful that they would similarly move anyone who hears them for the first time. We have other examples. When the Prophet recited (41: 13),

    {فَإِنْ أَعْرَضُوا فَقُلْ أَنْذَرْتُكُمْ صَاعِقَةً مِثْلَ صَاعِقَةِ عَادٍ وَثَمُودَ} [فصلت: 13]

    “But if they turn away then say, ‘I have warned you of the thunderous cry like the thunder-cry of `Aad and Thamud ..’”, before Walid b. `Uqbah who had gone to the Prophet to restrain him in his mission, he placed his hand on the Prophet’s mouth to prevent him from reciting any further. He was being so overtaken by the threat of punishment. When asked to explain he said later, “Well, you know, when Muhammad promises something, it happens.”
    In short, adds Thanwi, far from offering a proper explanation to the verse in question, the narrations quoted in this regard themselves need explanations and interpretations.
    To sum up, Uthmani presents the following as a simple but reasonable explanation to the verse in question: Whenever a Messenger presented a recitation, Satan made his own interjections to corrupt the meaning and plant doubts in the hearts of the weak believers. For example, when a verse prohibiting the carrion was revealed Satan injected the doubt, “How come those we kill are allowable while those that God kills are disallowed?” Or, when the Messenger recited (21: 98),

    {إِنَّكُمْ وَمَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ حَصَبُ جَهَنَّمَ} [الأنبياء: 98]

    Indeed, you and what you worship other than Allah are fuel of Fire”, Satan asked, “How about Jesus, the son of Mary? Wasn’t he worshipped too?”
    Or, when it was recited (4: 171),

    {إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَاهَا إِلَى مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِنْهُ} [النساء: 171]

    “(Jesus) was a Messenger of Allah, and His Word from Him that He cast into Maryam, and a Spirit from Him,” Satan planted the doubt that the words lend credence to the unbelievers that he could have had a share in divinity. In all such situations, Allah removes the doubts and reestablishes His revelations. In other words, doubts that the “mutashaabihat” lend, are removed by the “muhkamaat.” As to the question why all this happens at all, or allowed to happen, the answer is: It is to test the people. So that, those are led away from the path of guidance in whose heart is sickness while it strengthens the faith of the faithful who are endowed with knowledge. They thus benefit and are rewarded with Paradise, while the doubters remain in doubt, until the time they will end up in Hell-fire.

    لِيَجْعَلَ مَا يُلْقِي الشَّيْطَانُ فِتْنَةً لِلَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ وَالْقَاسِيَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ ۗ وَإِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ لَفِي شِقَاقٍ بَعِيدٍ (53)

    22|53| In order that He may make what Shaytan casts a test for those in whose hearts is a disease, and those (who have) hardened their hearts. And, surely, the wrongdoers are in a far-fetched contention.

    وَلِيَعْلَمَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّكَ فَيُؤْمِنُوا بِهِ فَتُخْبِتَ لَهُ قُلُوبُهُمْ ۗ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَهَادِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ (54)

    22|54| And in order that those who were given knowledge know that the truth is from your Lord, and believe therein; so that their hearts may submit thereto;99 and surely, Allah is the Guide of those who believe unto a Straight Path.100

    99. That is, for the Qur’an (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    100. Mawdudi comments: “That is, God made Satan’s evil designs a means of testing people so that those who are righteous may be distinguished from those who are evil. It is in the nature of things that those whose minds have been corrupted derive wrong conclusions. As for those whose minds are straight, those very things lead them to confirm the truthfulness of God’s Prophets and His Books. The result is that these people are led to believe that all these are no more than Satan’s mischief.”
    Yusuf Ali has another aspect in mind. He writes: “If any suggestion comes to the human mind that is not in accordance with Allah’s Will and Plan, it has two opposite effects: to evil minds it is a trial and temptation from the Satan, but to the mind well-instructed in Faith, it stands self-condemned at once, and becomes a means of strengthening the Faith and stimulating redoubled efforts to conform to the Will of Allah.

    وَلَا يَزَالُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فِي مِرْيَةٍ مِنْهُ حَتَّىٰ تَأْتِيَهُمُ السَّاعَةُ بَغْتَةً أَوْ يَأْتِيَهُمْ عَذَابُ يَوْمٍ عَقِيمٍ (55)

    22|55| But the unbelievers will never cease to be in doubt thereof101 until the Hour comes upon them on a sudden, or there comes upon them the torment of a barren Day.102

    101. The allusion is to the Qur’an. That is, they will always remain in doubt about the Qur’an (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    102. To what day is the allusion? Mujahid, Sa`id b. Jubayr and Qatadah thought it was the day of Badr that left the Quraysh barren, (unable to produce any more unbelieving offspring). But `Ikrimah thought the allusion is to the Day of Judgment which will not give birth to a night, hence barren (Ibn Jarir). This is the prevalent opinion (Ibn Kathir).

    الْمُلْكُ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِلَّهِ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ ۚ فَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ (56)

    22|56| The sovereignty that Day shall be for Allah (alone),103 and He shall judge between them. Then those who believed and worked righteous deeds will be in Gardens of Delight.

    103. That is, all the Allah-granted sovereignty of this earth will come to an end and the only power left will be that of the true Sovereign (Uthmani).

    وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَكَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا فَأُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُهِينٌ (57)

    22|57| As for those who disbelieved and cried lies to Our revelations, they, for them will be a humiliating chastisement.

    وَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ قُتِلُوا أَوْ مَاتُوا لَيَرْزُقَنَّهُمُ اللَّهُ رِزْقًا حَسَنًا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَهُوَ خَيْرُ الرَّازِقِينَ (58)

    22|58| As for those who emigrated in Allah’s way, and got killed, or died (a natural death), Allah will provide for them a goodly provision.104 And surely, Allah is the best of the providers.

    104. Some scholars of the past have treated the one killed in the way of Allah, and another who died a natural death as of the same status. For instance, when two such dead were brought for burial (during a campaign), and Fudala b. `Ubayd noticed that greater number of people were with the man killed in the battle-field he remarked, “Personally, I don’t care from which grave I am resurrected” (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi). The report is in Ibn Abi Hatim also (Ibn Kathir). What Fudalah meant perhaps is that once a man is in the way of Allah, then, whether he gets killed or dies a natural death, it is all the same: after all, in either case he dies in Allah’s cause (Razi, Alusi).

    لَيُدْخِلَنَّهُمْ مُدْخَلًا يَرْضَوْنَهُ ۗ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَعَلِيمٌ حَلِيمٌ (59)

    22|59| He shall surely admit them into a place105 with which they will be pleased. Verily, Allah is All-knowing, All-clement.

    105. Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and many others understood the term “mudkhal” as Paradise, since “mudkhal” is the ‘noun of place’ (Shawkani).

    ذَٰلِكَ وَمَنْ عَاقَبَ بِمِثْلِ مَا عُوقِبَ بِهِ ثُمَّ بُغِيَ عَلَيْهِ لَيَنْصُرَنَّهُ اللَّهُ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَعَفُوٌّ غَفُورٌ (60)

    22|60| That, and he who retaliated in a measure he was injured, yet again is oppressed, surely Allah will help him,106 Surely, Allah is the Pardoner, the Forgiving.

    106. It is reported that the Muslims encountered a Makkan sortie in the month of Muharram. They urged the pagans not to fight in the Sacred month. But they would not desist. So a fight ensued in which they suffered defeat, and Allah revealed this verse (Ibn Jarir, Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Another possible meaning is that after a believer has been wronged and he has avenged himself, he is attacked once again, then, it can be because his enemy sees him vulnerable. If that happens to be the situation, Allah’s intervention would be necessary to break the cycle of violence (Au.).

    ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ يُولِجُ اللَّيْلَ فِي النَّهَارِ وَيُولِجُ النَّهَارَ فِي اللَّيْلِ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ بَصِيرٌ (61)

    22|61| That, because Allah makes the night enter into the day, and makes the day enter into the night,107 and that Allah is All-hearing, All-seeing.

    107. What this verse has to do with the previous one? The answer is, says Razi, when Allah said in the previous verse that He has the power to help the oppressed, to substantiation this He said that He has power over more difficult things, such as, making the night enter into the day and the day into the night.
    Shabbir adds, “That is how Allah will make the day of Islam enter into the night of pagandom.”

    ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنَّ مَا يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِهِ هُوَ الْبَاطِلُ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْكَبِيرُ (62)

    22|62| That because Allah – He is the Truth, and that what they invoke besides Him, that is the falsehood, and that Allah is Most High, Most Great.

    أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ أَنْزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَتُصْبِحُ الْأَرْضُ مُخْضَرَّةً ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَطِيفٌ خَبِيرٌ (63)

    22|63| Do you not see that Allah sends down from the heaven water, and forthwith the earth becomes clothed with green.108 Surely, Allah is All-subtle,109 All-aware.

    108. The verse is not contrasting the situation of drought when the trees are barren, the plants dead and then, with the rain, the earth becomes green. That does not happen. It takes a couple of days for the earth to become green. But rather, the allusion is to the beauty that engulfs the world of plants after a goodly rain comes down after a spell of dry weather. Within hours the earth turns lush green offering a most refreshing sight (Au.).
    Shabbir again, “That is how Allah will soon render the barren lands of pagandom into green lands of Islam,.”
    109. “Lateef is both ‘gentle and benignant’ and ‘knower of subtleties and niceties’, and is used here in both senses” (Majid).
    Yusuf Ali further explains the term, “Latif, as a name of Allah, is as difficult to define in words as the idea it seeks to represent is difficult to grasp in our minds. It implies (1) fine, subtle (the basic meaning); (2) so fine and subtle as to be imperceptible to human sight; (3) so pure as to be incomprehensible; (4) with sight so perfect as to see and understand the finest subtleties and mysteries; (5) so kind and gracious as to bestow gifts to the most refined kind; extraordinarily gracious and understanding. No. 4 is the predominant meaning here and in xii. 100; Nos. 2 and 3 in vi. 103; and No. 5 in xiii. 19; but every shade of meaning must be borne in mind in each case, as a subsidiary factor in the spiritual melody.”

    لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَهُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ (64)

    22|64| To Him belongs all that is in the heaven and in the earth. And surely, Allah – He is the Self-sufficient, the Praiseworthy.110

    110. Yusuf Ali once again presents to us a deeper meaning. He writes: Each of the verses xxii. 61-63 mentioned two attributes of Allah with reference to the contents of that verse. This verse now sums up the whole argument, and the two attributes with which it closes sum up the idea by which we can understand Allah’s goodness. Allah’s loving kindness and mercies are not like those of human creatures who all depend upon one another, and often expect some kindness or recognition in return. Allah is above all wants and depends in no way whatever on His creatures. His mercies have therefore a special quality, which we cannot describe except by gratefully singing the praises of Allah.”

    أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُمْ مَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَالْفُلْكَ تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِأَمْرِهِ وَيُمْسِكُ السَّمَاءَ أَنْ تَقَعَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَءُوفٌ رَحِيمٌ (65)

    22|65| Have you not seen that Allah has subjected to you all that is in the earth,111 and the ships that sail through the sea by His command? And He holds back the heaven lest it should fall upon the earth, except by His leave.112 Verily, Allah is All-gentle to man and All-merciful.113

    111. That is, Asad writes, “(He) has enabled you to benefit from all..”
    112. Another meaning of samaa’ is rains (Majid). But most commentators of old have treated it as heaven. However, which samaa’ is this that Allah holds lest it should fall on the earth? Is it the atmospheric layer around the earth, the cosmos above, or something else? Most have believed that, in the words of Asad, “`the sky’ – used here as a metonym for the stars and planets, which are held on their courses by the God-willed laws of cosmic movement.” Hence his next note, “(the leave will be given) at the Last Hour, which – as the Qur’an so often states – will manifest itself in a universal cosmic catastrophe.”
    Sayyid Qutb writes: “It is Allah who created the laws that allow for the ships to sail through the seas and who taught man how to make use of those laws for his own benefits and purposes. And it is He who created the cosmos following a certain system chosen for it; and the set of laws that allow for the distantly placed stars and planets to remain in their orbits without crashing on into each other. Every cosmological theory that is offered to explain how the system works does no more than explain the powers of the One who brought them into being and sustains them. But some of the people forget this basic fact and attempt at explaining the working as if there is no such hidden hand handling it. This is strange of the theorists. For, every explanation, its correctness taken for granted, does no more than reflect the main fact of Divine control behind the apparent while the explanation itself - that might sound true today but could be rejected tomorrow - cannot deny the existence of laws that help the cosmos function the way it does.”
    Alusi however points out that the Salaf were of the common opinion that the (Qur’anic) samaa’ is different from the cosmic material we see above us. It is the samaa’ that creaks as mentioned in a Prophetic statement:
    إِنِّي لأَسْمَعُ أَطِيطَ السَّمَاءِ ، وَمَا تُلامُ أَنْ تَئِطَّ ، وَمَا فِيهَا مَوْضِعُ شِبْرٍ إِلا وَعَلَيْهِ مَلَكٌ سَاجِدٌ أَوْ قَائِمٌ
    “I hear the ‘samaa’ creaks and it is right of it that it should creak for there is not a hand-space but upon which is an angel either standing or in prostration.”
    Haythamiyy declared the above report weak (Au.).
    That said, we cannot be too sure about what the allusion is to, by the word samaa’: whether it is to the cosmic heaven, or that of the hadith. It could well be both (Au.).
    113. What’s the difference between ra’fah and rahmah? Alsui presents a short discussion. Ra’fah demands prevention of harm while rahmah demands bestowal of blessings. Some others have said that ra’fah is deeper of meaning. The great majority have believed that rahmah is more general in nature.
    Also see Surah al-Tawbah, note 245.

    وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَحْيَاكُمْ ثُمَّ يُمِيتُكُمْ ثُمَّ يُحْيِيكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ الْإِنْسَانَ لَكَفُورٌ (66)

    22|66| It is He who gave you life; then He shall deal you death, then He shall (again) give you life. Truly, man is most ungrateful

    لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ جَعَلْنَا مَنْسَكًا هُمْ نَاسِكُوهُ ۖ فَلَا يُنَازِعُنَّكَ فِي الْأَمْرِ ۚ وَادْعُ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ ۖ إِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ هُدًى مُسْتَقِيمٍ (67)

    22|67| To every people have We appointed rites114 which they observe. Let them not, therefore, dispute with you on the matter;115 but (on your part) invite to your Lord. Surely, you are on a straight guidance.116

    114. Literally, mansak, or mansik, applies to a place to which one returns often: whether for good or bad purposes. Hence manasik al-Hajj, that is, places to which people return year after year. (That led to its application to acts that are repeated: Au.). Hence Ibn `Abbas said that here it applies to the day of `Eid which reappears year after year. Mujahid however said that the specific allusion here is to sacrifice. Qatadah extended it to include Hajj rites (Ibn Jarir).
    Alusi adds: The differences between rituals in various religions have been of the order of differences between, so to say, various kinds of cloth. Say one gives one of his daughters a red shroud as a gift, to another blue, to a third green, and so on. One would then say, “I gave my first daughter what I did not give to my second,” etc. In the like manner, every nation was given rituals of worship different from another although, in sum, substance, and spirit, they all amounted to the same. Therefore, Allah followed up the statement with the directive, Let them not, therefore, dispute with you over the matter.” That is, every nation was given a different Shari`ah, which now stands cancelled except for the current one, viz., that of Islam. There need be no argument over this.
    115. “For,” writes Sayyid, “disputation helps against people who seek after the truth and accept the evidences but not such hearts and minds that insist on error and turn a blind eye to facts spread all over around them in the earth and in the cosmos. Allah alone will judge them.”

    وَإِنْ جَادَلُوكَ فَقُلِ اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ (68)

    22|68| But if they should contend with you, say, ‘Allah knows well what you are doing.’116

    116. Yusuf Ali’s practical philosophy comes in handy. He writes: “Rites and ceremonies may appear to be an unimportant matter compared with ‘weightier matters of the Law’ and with the higher needs of man’s spiritual nature. But they are necessary for social and religious organization, and their effect on the individual himself is not to be despised. In any case, as they are visible external symbols, they give rise to the most heated controversies. Such controversies are to be deprecated. That does not mean that our rites and ceremonies are to be made light of. Those in Islam rest on the highest social and religious needs of man, and if we are convinced that we are on the Right Way, we should invite all to join us, without entering into controversies about such matters.”

    اللَّهُ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كُنْتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ (69)

    22|69| Allah will judge between you on the Day of Judgment concerning that over which you were differing.117

    117. Yusuf Ali once again comments, and in keeping with his own subtle style, without naming those addressed: You are only wrangling about matters about which you have no knowledge nor any deep religious feeling. The springs of your conduct are all open before Allah, and He will judge you.”

    أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۗ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ فِي كِتَابٍ ۚ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ (70)

    22|70| Do you not know that Allah knows whatsoever is in the heaven and the earth? Indeed, that is in a Record.118 Indeed, that is easy for Allah.119

    118. At this point Yusuf Ali hits hard with soft words: “You not only find fault with the very few and simple rites and ceremonies in Islam: you, outside Islam, have no rites and ceremonies which you are yourselves agreed upon, either as Christians or as Jews, or one compared with the other.”
    To paraphrase verses 67-69: To every people Allah appointed rites which they observe. So, why should they dispute with you over the issues, say of sacrifice of animals? But if they persist, then, to defeat their polemical purposes, invite them, O Muhammad, to your Lord. However, if they should refuse and insist on contentions, then tell them, “Allah knows well what you are doing. He will judge between you on the Day of Judgment concerning that over which you were differing.” (Based on Thanwi).
    119. By Kitab, the allusion is to the Umm al-Kitab. Ka`b al-Ahbaar is reported to have said when asked about the Mother of the Book (Umm al-Kitab), “Allah knew what He was going to create and how His creation was going to be. So, He said to His Knowledge, ‘Be a Book’” (Ibn Jarir).
    There are a few ahadith on this topic. One is in Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi and others. The Prophet said, “First thing that Allah created was the Pen. Then He commanded it, ‘Write.’ It asked, ‘What shall I write?’ He said, ‘Write all that is going to be.’ So, it moved, recording all that was to be until the Day of Judgment. And that happened ages before. A hadith of Muslim says, “Allah determined the proportions of the creations before the creation of the heavens and the earth, by fifty thousand years, while His `Arsh was on water” (Ibn Kathir).

    وَيَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَمَا لَيْسَ لَهُمْ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۗ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ نَصِيرٍ (71)

    22|71| And they worship apart from Allah that for which He has sent down no authority, and that of which they have no knowledge.120 The transgressors shall have no helper.121

    120. While some have thought that the words, “That is easy for Allah” are in reference to the writing in the Record, the preferred opinion is that the reference is to the statement in the previous verse, viz., “Allah will judge between you on the Day of Judgment concerning that over which you were differing.” It is another of way of saying, judging between the people is easy for Allah (Ibn Jarir).
    121. In other words, writes Alusi, they have neither a revelational support for what they worship (‘they worship apart from Allah that for which He has sent down no authority’), nor have a good rational reason for doing so (‘that of which they have no knowledge’). And the inference that can be drawn from the order of placement of the two arguments against their action is that revelational support is weightier than rational if the matter pertains to the Shari`ah. As for intellectual matters, the order is reversed. This was the position maintained by Ibn al-`Arabiyy also.

    وَإِذَا تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُنَا بَيِّنَاتٍ تَعْرِفُ فِي وُجُوهِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا الْمُنْكَرَ ۖ يَكَادُونَ يَسْطُونَ بِالَّذِينَ يَتْلُونَ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِنَا ۗ قُلْ أَفَأُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِشَرٍّ مِنْ ذَٰلِكُمُ ۗ النَّارُ وَعَدَهَا اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا ۖ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ (72)

    22|72| When Our revelations are recited to them as clear evidences, you will notice denial in the faces of the unbelievers.122 They would almost pounce upon those who recite Our revelations to them.123 Say, ‘Shall I then tell you of something worse than that? (It is) the Fire - Allah has promised it to the unbelievers - an evil destination.’

    122. Yusuf Ali once again: “When plain common-sense shows the absurdity of false worship, behind which there is neither knowledge, intelligence, nor authority (quite the contrary), who or what can help the false misguided creatures who dishonor Allah by false worship?”
    123. Sufi commentator Thanwi writes: The ayah is also applicable to the so-called Sufis, who, when Allah’s verses are read out to them (in face of some of their deviations), you notice a dislike in their faces.

    يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ ضُرِبَ مَثَلٌ فَاسْتَمِعُوا لَهُ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ لَنْ يَخْلُقُوا ذُبَابًا وَلَوِ اجْتَمَعُوا لَهُ ۖ وَإِنْ يَسْلُبْهُمُ الذُّبَابُ شَيْئًا لَا يَسْتَنْقِذُوهُ مِنْهُ ۚ ضَعُفَ الطَّالِبُ وَالْمَطْلُوبُ (73)

    22|73| O people! A similitude is struck, so listen to it carefully. Surely, those you call upon other than Allah shall never create a fly,124 even if they were to join forces to that end.125 And, if the fly should t away something from them, they will never be able to retrieve it from it. Feeble indeed: the seeker and the sought (after).126

    124. Although literally yastuuna means to attack or seize hard, the translation as “strike” or, alternatively, “seize by the hand” reflects the understanding of the first few generation scholars as in Ibn Jarir.
    Why do the unbelievers behave in this manner? Sayyid asks. It is because they lack proofs and evidences for what they are doing. So, they must meet the truthful statements with physical force to annihilate it.
    125. The fly has been chosen for this example, for four reasons: its worthlessness, its weakness, its repugnance, and its abundance (Qurtubi).
    The beauty of the similitude apart, the Qur’anic statement throws a challenge that can never be answered.
    Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Bible of the Western world, offers four definitions for life. This should tell us something about the confusion among the scientists over the issue. The problem is that life is not something that can be isolated: say in a test tube. It can only be seen in action, operating from behind living systems. What is it in reality, whether of the higher type as in humans, or of the lower type as in other biological organisms – after the soul has been denied existence – is something no scientist knows and will never know.
    The central character of life is that it continues, or in the language of the biologists, replicates. But why, no one has any clue. Atoms, after all, which are life’s basic constituents, do not replicate (i.e., reproduce itself) under any circumstance. But cells replicate: from one to two, two to four, four to eight, and so on. In so doing they defy the law of conservation. Living systems defy another law of nature: that of entropy. This law demands greater and greater disorder with the passage of time. But, in complete contrast, and against all odds, living systems get better organized with time.
    For the biologists, the clue to life is in the arrangement of atoms within the cells. They arrange themselves in a certain order within it, all by themselves, to continue with their functions and to replicate themselves, that is, produce a true copy of themselves. And that arrangement is extremely complicated. But, outside of a living organism, the same atoms, placed in a test tube, in same proportions, do not arrange themselves in the same order. Why not? Because, as the biologists would say, the command is missing. So where is the command centre? The search for an answer has put the scientists on a trail that gives no sign of termination. Indeed, so many pathways are opening up that all men on earth might have to turn biologists, to follow all the pathways to find out what, if anything is there, at the end of the trail. As a scientist points out, “Where one gene carried out a particular function ten years ago, now there are a hundred. Where once, not so long ago, there was one cell type in the retina, now there are fifty. Where there was once one neurotransmitter in the brain, now there are hundreds. Biology is caught up in an ongoing complexity revolution, which is surely one of the most extraordinary events in the history of modern science. The phenomenal nature of the complexity revolution that currently pervades every field of biology is an increasing source of comment among researchers in various fields. The general reaction is one of amazement at the ever-greater depths of complexity revealed as biological knowledge advances.” (Michael J.Denton, Nature’s Destiny, The Free Press, New York, 1998, p. 343).
    Another unresolved question is, how did life begin? A chicken is out of an egg (a pack of living cells). The egg was from a chicken. That chicken was from an egg. It goes on backward for ever. A tree is from a seed (a pack of living cells). The seed was from a tree. And that tree was from a seed. It goes on backward endlessly. How did it begin? If, it began by chance, then, the question is, why does it not come into existence again? Why is it now only replication of a previously existing life? Why do we not observe a spontaneous generation of life anywhere on the planet anymore? There are no answers. A recent book (A.G. Cairns-Smith, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998) which deals with this question is titled, “Seven Clues to the Origin of Life.” Needless to mention that none of the seven clues gives any clue about how life started. Another scientific work on the topic (Paul Davies, Touchstone pub. 1999) clearly admits the miraculous nature of life by calling his book “The 5th Miracle – the Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life.” Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickrmasinghe, leading scientist of the twentieth century, speculated, and provided plentiful evidences, though not conclusive, that life could not have originated on the earth at all. They argued that the first living organism must have arrived from deep space! (Our Place in the Cosmos, Phoenix, 1993).
    But most scientists are not looking deep into space for clues to the origin of life. They are looking at biological organism right here on the earth. From the external organs, they went into the internal, e.g., heart, brain, kidneys and so forth. They found that they consisted of the primary unit, the cell. When the cell was opened up under the microscopes it was found to be an industry, that would spread over several miles on earth, if the same functions were required to be performed by the kinds of machinery that man uses. From the cell they went into the nucleus because the machinery seemed to be working automatically, independent of the brain. Now, since automatic work by molecules is unimaginable, the command must be coming from some place. Perhaps the nucleus. So the nucleus was opened up to discover that it was the DNA strands that issued the commands, if not for all cell activity, then at least for the manufacture of proteins. Subsequently it was found that the DNA consisted of tiny molecules called nucleotides (3 to 4 billions of them). They assembled themselves following a certain pattern, and which made up the DNA. However, neither the DNA nor the nucleotides issued the commands for the construction of the large biological body. That was done by genes which were few nucleotides here, few there, spread all over the DNA strand, that somehow coordinated between themselves to issue the commands. What are nucleotides, the basic unit of the genes, made up of? They are averagely some thirty atoms of different elements grouped in a certain way. So, now the scientists stare at the life-less atoms dancing before them, and do not know where to go next. Meanwhile, life goes on, without a definition.
    Let alone a fly, which is made up of hundreds of millions of cells, man cannot create even a single cell. Indeed, the project cannot take off. Why? Because, man will need to isolate atoms before he can assemble them. But ordinarily, atoms cannot be isolated. So there ends the matter How pertinent therefore, the following hadith of the Sahihayn (as noted by Ibn Kathir) which says,

    قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنْ ذَهَبَ يَخْلُقُ كَخَلْقِي فَلْيَخْلُقُوا ذَرَّةً أَوْ لِيَخْلُقُوا حَبَّةً أَوْ شَعِيرَةً

    “Allah said, ‘Who can do greater wrong than one attempting to create like My creation. So, let them then create an atom, or a grain, or a grain of barley” (Au.).
    126. Ibn `Abbas has said that the allusion by the seeker is to the idols and the sought after is the fly, which if it snatches away something from the idols, they cannot retrieve it. Others have thought that the allusion is to worshippers of idols and the idols themselves respectively (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    The Fly
    The fly’s mention in the Qur’an in this context is simply amazing. For, although the plain meaning was always there, namely, if a fly takes away something, it is almost impossible to identify and seize it to regain what it took away; but modern science adds to our amazement that a fly does not take away anything whole. When it sits on a food particle, it first drops its saliva on to the material to be consumed, dissolves it with its enzymes, and then sucks up the liquid through the long trunk-like proboscis into its abdomen. Thus, there is no way anyone can retrieve, even in laboratory conditions, what a fly takes away.
    Our amazement is however doubled when we learn that fly is the pet animal of the biologists. For a hundred years they have depended on it to conduct genetic research. In fact, no biology book in general, and a genetic book in particular, can go without the mention of the fruit fly. Biologically known as Drosophila, it is as ubiquitous in biology books as it is in the gardens. More is known about the fruit fly than is known about any other animal. At the genetic level, humans know more about the fly than about the humans, because of the research conducted at hundreds of research centers over the globe. Scientists have received prizes and awards for working on the fly. In 1993, Thomas Hunt Morgan, American biologist and geneticist, was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of “hereditary transmission mechanisms in Drosophila”. Again, in 1995 Edward B. Lewis of the California Institute of Technology, Eric F. Wieschaus of Princeton University, and Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard of the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen, Germany, shared the Nobel Prize for research into the genetic basis of embryonic development in the fruit fly. The results, according to the Nobel committee, “achieved a breakthrough that will help explain congenital malformations in man.”
    There are several reasons why the fruit fly has been so popular with the biologists. These are ubiquitous insects that collect together in large numbers on the fruits. There are some 90,000 species of them. They breed very rapidly. Another advantage with them is that for some unknown reason they have giant-sized and, therefore, readily visible chromosome (DNA) making it easy to examine their structure during cell division. A biologist writes:
    “This insect turned out to be ideal for many genetic studies and has been widely used in laboratories all over the world throughout the twentieth century.. The first reason they were chosen for study is that they are easy to keep and breed. Each fly is only an eighth of an inch long (3mm), and they produce a new generation in two weeks, each female laying hundreds of eggs at a time. A colony of Drosophila can be kept alive and well in almost any old glass container” (John Gribbin, In Search of the Double Helix, Penguin books, 1995, p.57-58).
    Another factor that favored the fly was that it has only four Chromosome strands (as against 23 for human), which rendered research studies much easier to conduct. Two of these DNA strands are truly massive, with no similar example from any other biological organism. Its sperms are 6 cm/2.4 inch long (1,200 times longer than human sperm and 4 times its total body length). Its testes take up 50% of its abdominal cavity and it produces fewer than 20 sperm cells at a time. Without this amazing characteristic, the fly would never have been chosen for research. This is the reason why the entire genome sequence for the fly was produced before it could be produced for any other animal. Accordingly,
    “More data have been collected concerning the genetics of the vinegar fly than have been obtained for any other animal. Drosophila chromosomes, especially the giant ones in the salivary glands of mature larvae, are used in studies involving heritable characteristics and are the basis for gene action” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, art., Vinegar Fly).
    In short, a challenge flies directly into the faces of the modern scientist: “Here is something you have been working on for a hundred years, and which you understand scientifically better than any other living body. How about producing something similar to what you know so well, and, especially at the genetic level, which happens to be the key to life and activity?”
    They could also consider: is it simply coincidence that the fly was chosen for the challenge. Could Prophet Muhammad have written these Qur’anic lines? (Au.)

    مَا قَدَرُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ قَدْرِهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَقَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ (74)

    22|74| They esteem not Allah with the estimation that is His due. Surely, Allah is All-powerful, All-mighty.127

    127. What Hasan and Farra’ have said about this ayah can be put paraphrased in the following words: The worshippers of false gods did not give Allah, their Creator His due in terms of honor, respect, obedience, and attribution to Him what He should alone be attributed to. Akhfash has said however that it means that the people have not known Him in the manner He should be known. Alusi then discusses the issue of humans trying to know, understand and comprehend Allah’s existence, Essence and Attributes, and states at the beginning `Ali’s opinion that to make an attempt of this sort is Ishraak (to be suggesting gods other than Allah). Indeed, Imam Ghazali, Juwayni, the Sufis and philosophers have all agreed that it is impossible for humans to know Allah. Alusi then follows up with a long discourse too complicated to be presented here and maybe out of place in a simple work of this nature. We register this for the specialists.

    اللَّهُ يَصْطَفِي مِنَ الْمَلَائِكَةِ رُسُلًا وَمِنَ النَّاسِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ بَصِيرٌ (75)

    22|75| Allah chooses messengers from among the angels, and from among men;128 surely, Allah is All-hearing, All-seeing.

    128. That is, Allah chooses of the men and angels for conveyance of His messages whom He will; as He said elsewhere (6: 124),

    {اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ حَيْثُ يَجْعَلُ رِسَالَتَهُ } [الأنعام: 124]

    Allah knows where to place His Messages” (Ibn Kathir).

    يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ ۗ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ تُرْجَعُ الْأُمُورُ (76)

    22|76| He knows what is before them and what is behind them. And to Allah return the affairs.129

    129. To paraphrase ayah 75 and 76: To the objection raised about choosing Muhammad for delivering the Message, the answer is, it is Allah who chooses messengers from among the angels, as well as from among men. He is All-hearing, All-seeing, who knows all about them and all about His creations including the chosen Messengers, through His Powers and Attributes. In fact, He knows what went before the rejecters as well as what is to follow. Further, it is to Allah that the affairs are returned for decision, judgment, and issue of new commands (based on Thanwi).

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ارْكَعُوا وَاسْجُدُوا وَاعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمْ وَافْعَلُوا الْخَيْرَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ ۩ (77)

    22|77| Believers! Bow down, prostrate yourselves, worship your Lord,130 and do good (deeds), haply you will prosper.131

    130. That is, worship Allah, and none other than Him (Razi).
    131. Difference in opinion has prevailed over a second Sajdah at this point. A hadith – in Abu Da’ud and Tirmidhi - has been in fact reported. It says, Surah al-Hajj has been given preference over (others) with two prostrations. So, whoever did not offer two prostrations, might not recite the two.” However, Tirmidhi has rated the hadith as unsound, although there doesn’t seem to be a strong reason for treating it so (Ibn Kathir).
    The Hanafiyyah however do not see a Sajdah at this point. That is because (apart from the weakness of the hadith: Au.), their point is, whenever Allah mentioned ruku` and sujud together, then the Sajdah is Sajdah of Salah and not Sajdah of Tilawah (recitation) - Zamakhshari. An example is the ayah (3: 43) which says,

    {يَا مَرْيَمُ اقْنُتِي لِرَبِّكِ وَاسْجُدِي وَارْكَعِي مَعَ الرَّاكِعِينَ} [آل عمران: 43]

    “O Maryam. Stand (in Prayers), prostrate yourself, and bow down with those who bow down” where too no Sajdah Tilawah is required (Shafi`).

    وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ ۚ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ ۚ مِلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۚ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَفِي هَٰذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ ۚ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّهِ هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ ۖ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَىٰ وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ (78)

    22|78| And strive in Allah,132 with a striving due to Him.133 He chose you.134 And He has not placed in the religion135 any constriction136: the faith137 of your (fore-)father Ibrahim.138 He139 named you Muslims earlier,140 and in this (Qur’an also); so that the Messenger might be a witness over you and you witnesses over mankind.141 Therefore, observe the Prayer (assiduously), Pay the Zakah and hold fast to Allah.142 He is your Guardian, an excellent Guardian and an excellent Helper.143

    132. This includes all kinds of jihad: Jihad with one’s self, with one’s possessions, with the pen, jihad against one’s own base self, jihad against Satan, jihad against the unbelievers, jihad against the rebels, and jihad against the deviants (Shabbir).
    Mawdudi comments: “Jihad does not simply mean fighting and war. The word denotes: ‘to strive, to exert to the utmost.’ The words jihad and mujahid imply the existence of forces of resistance against whom it is necessary to wage a struggle. Moreover, the stipulation that jihad should be fi sabil Allah (in the way of God) makes it clear that there are forces of resistance which obstruct people from serving God and pursuing His good pleasure, and that it is necessary to engage in strife and struggle to overcome them.
    “As for the purpose of jihad, it is to remove the forces obstructing man from following the Way of God so that one may be able to serve God in an adequate manner, exalt His Word, and subdue unbelief and rebellion against Him. The first and foremost target of this struggle should be one’s own self which always prompts one to rebel against God’s commands and distracts one from belief and obedience. Unless one conquers one’s own self within, one cannot fight against the forces without.”
    133. Ibn `Abbas has said that battling in Allah’s cause without fear of the critic is to be striving in His cause in the manner required (Ibn Jarir). Others have said that to fight the enemies of Islam in the manner the first generation Muslims fought, is to be striving in the manner required.
    In other words, strive to the best of your strength and ability: the exact amount depending upon every man’s abilities, knowledge, propensities, etc. Hence Allah said in the following ayah, “He has not placed any constriction in the religion (Ibn al-Qayyim in Badaai` al-Tafsir).
    134. That is, Allah chose you for His religion, in order that you help Him (in its establishment on the earth) – Zamakhshari. In the words of Majid, “(He chose you) as the testifiers, promulgators and standard-bearers of the Divine message.”
    135. “Religion” has been used here in its widest Islamic sense. Majid quotes from one of Asad’s books: “Whereas all other religions failed in becoming cultures and became cults instead, Islam succeeded, because it did not content itself with defining the relations between man and the unseen but boldly stepped into the sphere of practical life and its everyday problems, - of bread and sexual relations, of politics and trade and finance – and thus removed the barriers between Caesar’s and God’s domain.”
    136. The translation of the word haraj as “constriction” has the authority of Ibn `Abbas as in Ibn Jarir.
    What it means is that the religion of Islam has been made easy. For example, Prayers have been shortened in journeys, or at times of fear, or allowed without facing the Qiblah when on a vehicle, or offering from a sitting posture when overtaken by illness, etc. Hence the Prophet’s words to Abu Musa al-Ash`ari and Mu`adh ibn Jabal while sending them to Yemen,

    بَشِّرَا وَيَسِّرَا وَعَلِّمَا وَلاَ تُنَفِّرَا

    “Give good news and make it easy; teach and do not repel.”
    He also said,

    بُعِثْتُ بِالْحَنِيفِيَّةِ السَّمْحَةِ

    “I have been sent with the easy monotheistic way” (Ibn Kathir).
    Mawdudi adds: “This proclaims that the believers are free from all the unjust shackles forged by the theologians, priests, and lawyers of previous religious communities. It is declared here that no longer are there any restrictions that obstruct intellectual progress, nor any restraint in the practical affairs of man’s life which impede the growth of culture and civilization. This because they have been provided with a body of practicable laws. While adhering to this one may make as much progress as one wants.”
    Asad also has a useful note to offer: “The absence of any ‘hardship’ in the religion of Islam is due to several factors: (1) it is free of any dogma or mystical proposition that might make the Qur’anic doctrine difficult to understand or might even conflict with man’s innate reason; (2) it avoids all complicated rituals or system of taboos which would impose undue restrictions on man’s everyday life; (3) it rejects all self-mortification and exaggerated asceticism, which must unavoidably conflict with man’s true nature .. ; and (4) it takes fully into account the fact that ‘man has been created weak.’”
    We can end with Yusuf Ali’s remark: “The Jews were hampered by many restrictions, and their religion was racial. Christianity, as originally preached, was a hermit religion: ‘sell whatsoever thou hast’ (Mark x. 21), ‘take no thought for the morrow’ (Matt. Vi. 34). Islam, as originally preached, gives freedom and full play to man’s faculties of every kind.”
    In the above statement we might note the words, “Islam, as originally preached..” (Au.).
    137. The fat-ha on millah gives rise to two possible meanings in conjunction with the previous verses. (1) “(He has not placed any constriction in your religion), but rather, has placed ease and comfort just as it was in Ibrahim’s faith.” (2) “(Bow down, prostrate yourselves .. and) hold fast unto Ibrahim’s faith” (Ibn Jarir).
    138. According to Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Mujahid and Dahhak, as in Ibn Jarir, and with his backing, the pronoun “huwa” is for Allah. That is, “Allah named you Muslims.”
    The above is supported by a hadith in Nasa’i. The Prophet said,

    من دعا بدعوى الجاهلية فأنه من جثا جهنم قال رجل يا رسول الله وإن صام وصلى قال نعم وإن صام وصلى فادعوا بدعوى الله التي سماكم الله بها المسلمين المؤمنين عباد الله

    “Whoever invited by appealing to pre-Islamic era, will be a crawler on his knees in Hellfire.” A man asked, “Even if he prayed and fasted?” He replied, “Yes, even if he prayed and fasted. Therefore, call by Allah’s Call who named you in this as Muslims: believers, Allah’s slaves” (Ibn Kathir).
    The report about the crawler is in Tirmidhi, who rated it sound, as well as in Ibn Hibban, Tabarani, Hakim, Ibn Khuzaymah and others (Shawkani).
    An off chance exists that the pronoun “he” is for Ibrahim. He had prayed to Allah at the time of the construction of the Ka`bah that He create out of his progeny “a nation, muslimah (surrendered) unto Him” (2: 128) - Shabbir and others.
    139. It might be noted, Thanwi writes, that although followers of other Prophets were also on the religion of Islam, no other but the followers of Prophet Muhammad have been called as Muslims in the Qur’an. Others were referred to as Jews, Christians, nation of Nuh, nation of Saleh, etc.
    140. Mujahid said that the word “earlier” alludes to earlier Scriptures (Ibn Jarir).
    141. The allusion is to the Muslims bearing witness on the Day of Judgment against the previous peoples, to the fact that Prophets and Messengers were sent to them, and Prophet Muhammad then testifying that he delivered his own message to them, i.e., the Muslims (Ibn Jarir).
    One might look for more details at verse 143 of Surah al-Baqarah (Au.).
    Sayyid comments: “So long as this Ummah adhered to these principles and applied them to its life, it remained an example to the rest of the world. But when it deviated and rejected the principles, it lost the position of leadership. Allah pushed it back to become a tail-follower of the caravan of nations where it will remain until it returns to the role that Allah chose for it.”
    142. That is, when Allah blessed you with such blessings as above, you should in response observe the Prayer assiduously, Pay the Zakah and hold fast to Allah (Thanwi).
    143. That is, whenever you hold fast unto Him, He will help you against yourself and against Satan, the two enemies that never depart from a person, -whose enmity is more harmful than that of external enemies (Ibn al-Qayyim, Badaai` al-Tafsir).