Surat 'Āli `Imrān

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. 3

    Merits of the Surah
    Several merits of the surah have been reported, such as, it safeguards against snakes, from extreme poverty, and, will plead in the Hereafter for those who recited it (often). According to a hadith of Al Nuwas b. Sum`an, the two suwar, al Baqarah and Al `Imran will appear together leading those who used to recite and live by their message. The Prophet has also said (as recorded by Abu Da'ud and Ibn Majah) that the Ism al A`zam is in these two verses (2: 163):

    وَإِلَهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الرَّحْمَنُ الرَّحِيمُ [البقرة : 163]

    "And your Lord is One Lord. There is no god save He. The Compassionate, the Merciful," and this second verse of Al `Imran:

    اللَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ [آل عمران : 2]

    "Allah there is no God but He. The Living, the Self subsisting by whom all subsist" (Qurtubi: abridged).
    Alusi adds: There are many reasons for these two suwar, al Baqarah and Al `Imran, to be paired. One reason is that each is complementary to the other. Surah al Baqarah, for instance, presents arguments, Al `Imran attends to clearing doubts. In the former, the creation of the people was mentioned, in the latter, their fashioning in the wombs has been mentioned. There, Adam's creation was spoken of. Here, that of his progeny has been mentioned. In al Baqarah, creation of Adam without a mother was mentioned. In Al `Imran, creation of `Isa b. Maryam without a father has been mentioned. In al Baqarah, the Jews were addressed. In Al `Imran, the Christians have been addressed. There, it spoke of the Fire that has been prepared for the unbelievers. Here, it speaks of Paradise that has been prepared for the believers. There, it was said at the beginning that it will be the godfearing who will be successful. Here, in this surah, it is said at the end,

    وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ [آل عمران : 200]

    "Fear Allah, so that you may succeed."
    Al Baqarah opens with the words:

    وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ [البقرة : 4]

    "Those who believe in what has been sent to you as well as in what was sent before you..."
    Al `Imran ends with words:

    وَإِنَّ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ لَمَنْ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْهِمْ [آل عمران : 199]

    "And of the people of the Book are some who believe in Allah and in what has been sent down to you, as well as in what was sent down to them."
    Again, it is said that when the verse in surah al Baqarah was revealed saying:

    مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يُقْرِضُ اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا [البقرة : 245]

    "Who will lend a goodly loan to Allah," the Jews said: "Muhammad! Your Lord has gone broke. He seeks loans from His slaves." In Al `Imran it was replied:

    لَقَدْ سَمِعَ اللَّهُ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ فَقِيرٌ وَنَحْنُ أَغْنِيَاءُ [آل عمران : 181]

    "Allah has heard the words of those who said Allah is broke and we are rich."
    Finally, if surah al Baqarah recorded the prayer words of Ibrahim:

    رَبَّنَا وَابْعَثْ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِنْهُمْ [البقرة : 129]

    "Our Lord! Raise among them a Messenger from among them," then, Al `Imran stated:

    لَقَدْ مَنَّ اللَّهُ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ بَعَثَ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ [آل عمران : 164]

    "Allah has done a favor to the believers in that He raised among them a Messenger from among them."
    It is widely reported that revelation of the first eighty and odd verses of this chapter were occasioned by the arrival at Madinah of the Christian delegation from Najran. They were about sixty riders led by three prominent men. They encamped near Masjid al Nabawi and were allowed to offer their services there, which they did facing the east. They argued with the Prophet about `Isa b. Maryam, affirming their faith in Him as the son of God who performed such miracles as curing the blind and the deaf, blowing life into birds made of clay, and so on. The Prophet told them: "Submit yourselves (to Allah)." They protested, "But we have submitted." He told them: "You have not, for your declaration that `Isa was the son of God, your worship of the Cross and your eating of the pork prevents you from submitting yourselves." Exasperated, they asked: "Who was his father then, O Muhammad?" The Prophet did not answer until these verses were revealed (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Razi, Ibn Kathir and others who cite Ibn Ishaq as the source).

    الم (1)

    3|1| Alif, Lam, Meem1.

    1. It is said that once Huyayy b. Ukhtab, a Jew, came to the Prophet (saws) and said: “Is it true that it has been revealed to you, 'Alif. Lam. Mim. This Book ...'” (Al-Baqarah, verses 1-2). The Prophet replied, “Yes.” Huyyi said, “We do not know of any prophet before you who was told about how long he and his followers would last. You seem to be the exception, for (according to the classical numbering of letters) alif is equal to 1, lam to 30, and mim to 40. The total works out to 71. (This is how long your religion will last). Do you have more of them?” The Prophet replied, “Yes, Alif. Lam. Mim. Sad.” Huyyi said: “That makes it 161 years. Is there more to it?” The Prophet said, “Yes, Alif. Lam. Ra.” (Which add up to 231: Au.) Huyyi said, “That makes it a bit long. However, is there more?” The Prophet said, “Yes, Alif. Lam. Mim. Ra.” (These add up to 271, and the grand total works out to 734: Au.) Huyyi said: “Surely, this is longer and more burdensome (to bear).” Then he turned to his companions and said, “Let’s go. The matter is a bit confusing” (Alusi).
    Huyyi’s calculation was based on the ancient cryptographic system where numerical values were given to each of the Arabic letters from alif to ya. In this system, still in use in some parts of Asia for dating, alif = 1, ba = 2, jim = 3, dal = 4, ha (round ha) = 5, waw = 6, za (letter after ra) = 7, ha (letter after jim) = 8, ta (letter before dad) = 9, ya = 10, kaf = 20, lam = 30, mim = 40, nun = 50, sin = 60, ‘ayn = 70, fa = 80, sad = 90, qaf = 100, ra = 200, shin = 300, ta (letter after ba) = 400, tha = 500, kha = 600, dhal = 700, dad (letter after sad) = 800, za (letter before ‘ayn) = 900 and ghayn = 1000. This numbering helped the ancients in several ways, one of which was to keep dates in words. For example, the name “Naseem Akhtar” gives the year of the person’s birth as 1361 A.H. Olden epitaphs carried a poetical line in praise of the person buried which indicated the date of his death (Au.).
    We might remind here of the hadith which reports:

    عن أَسْمَاءَ بِنْتِ يَزِيدَ أَنّ النّبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: "اسْمُ الله الأَعْظَمُ في هَاتَيْنِ الآيَتَيْنِ {وَإِلَهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ لا إِلَهَ إِلاّ هُوَ الرّحْمَنُ الرّحِيمُ} وَفَاتِحَةُ سُورَةِ آلِ عِمْرَانَ {آلم الله لا إِلَهَ إِلاّ هُوَ الْحَيّ الْقَيّومُ".

    The “Ism al-A`zam” is in these two verses (2: 163), “Your Lord is one God besides whom there is no God, the Kind, the Merciful” and, “the first two verses of this Surah) “Alif. Lam. Mim. Allah, there is no God save He, the Living, the Self-subsisting by whom all subsist.” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Tirmidhi rated the above hadith as Hasan Sahih (Au.).

    اللَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ (2)

    3|2| Allah - there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of existence. Allah - there is no god but He. The Living, the Self-subsisting by Whom all subsist. Allah - there is no god but He. The Living, the Self-subsisting by Whom all subsist.

    نَزَّلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَأَنْزَلَ التَّوْرَاةَ وَالْإِنْجِيلَ (3)

    3|3| He (has) sent down2 upon you the Book with the truth,3 confirming4 that which preceded it (as) He sent down the Tawrah5 and the Injil6

    2. Nazzala: It will be noticed that while the Qur’an uses the word anzala for other revealed books such as Tawrah and Injil, it is the grammatical form nazzala that is employed for the Qur’an. This is to stress the gradualness of its revelation which took place in 23 years. Where the form anzala has been used for the Qur’an, the reference is to the sending down from the `Arsh to the firmament closest to the earth (Qurtubi, Ruh).
    3. Al-haqq: “The primary significance of haqq is: 'Suitableness to the requirements of wisdom, justice, right, or rightness, truth, reality, or fact, or to the exigencies of the case’” (Majid from Lane’s Lexicon).
    4. That is, this Qur’an and the previous revelations confirm each other: unraveling the same truths and forecasting the same events (Ibn Kathir).
    5. Tawrah: The Jews are not fond of opening up their literature to non-Jews. Therefore, few perhaps, even among the Jews, know what exactly Torah stands for. Shumuley writes that Torah is the name of 24 books of written law containing 613 written commandments, in addition to oral code in Mishnah and Talmud. The Torah can only written on cow’s parchments (Judaism for Everyone, Rabbi Shamuley Boteach). Encyclopedia Britannica has something similar to say in slightly different words, which makes Torah a huge work of hundreds of volumes (Au.).
    “(It) is certainly not identical with the OT, or even with the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament: Au.), but is synonymous with Torah, of which only fragments can at best be found in the extant Pentateuch. What the Qur’an commends as a Holy Writ is certainly not the same book of which it is freely and openly stated that it is `the work’ not of God but `of godly men’ (Majid).
    6. Injil: “(It) is not at all identical with the NT or even the Four Gospels of the Christian Church. `Injil,’ according to the teachings of Islam, was a Book sent down to Jesus (on whom be peace!), not a collection of reports and stories about him compiled at dubious dates by unknown persons, - an un-designed and unforeseen product of the apostolic age.’ (Encycl. Br. III, p. 513)” - Majid.
    Asad adds: “It is to be borne in mind that the Gospels frequently mentioned in the Qur’an are not identical with what is known today as the Four Gospels, but refers to an original, since lost, revelation bestowed upon Jesus and known to his contemporaries under its Greek name of Evangelion (”Good Tiding"), on which the Arabicized form Injil is based."
    In any case, there are so many versions of the Bible that it is hard to say if any part of the Bible is Torah or Injil. For example, the Desert Storm Bible that the Americans distributed among their soldiers in the M.E., consists of only 66 books in all, whereas the RSV has 73 books. Other versions have more or lesser books, each sect removing or adding books as they say in common language, “like nobody’s business” (Au.).

    مِنْ قَبْلُ هُدًى لِلنَّاسِ وَأَنْزَلَ الْفُرْقَانَ ۗ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ ذُو انْتِقَامٍ (4)

    3|4| Earlier - a (means of) guidance to the people. As He (also) sent down the Criterion.7 Verily, a painful chastisement is in store for those who reject the signs of Allah. Allah is Mighty, Lord of Retribution.8

    7. Ibn Jarir prefers the opinion that by al-Furqan the allusion is to those arguments and proofs that differentiate the truth from falsehood, with special reference to the Christians and other sects. This opinion is based on Ja`far ibn Zubayr’s statement.
    Ibn Kathir however says that the Qur’an is the Furqan which distinguishes guidance from error, truth from falsehood, ... through what Allah (swt) reveals as the clear proofs and evidences.
    Razi says: “I believe that the allusion by al-Furqan is to miracles.”
    Rashid Rida prefers the power of intellect as the meaning, since, primarily, it is with this faculty that one weighs and balances thoughts and ideas. He quotes Imam Ghazali as also of the same opinion.
    8. “Ends of righteousness and equity demand that God must be Just even before being Generous....His loving-kindness, infinite no doubt, is not to be had at the expense of his justice...” (Majid).

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَخْفَىٰ عَلَيْهِ شَيْءٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي السَّمَاءِ (5)

    3|5| Verily, nothing is hidden from Allah, neither in the earth nor in the heavens.9

    9. Only the “earth” and the “heaven” have been mentioned because human senses cannot go beyond them (Majid).

    هُوَ الَّذِي يُصَوِّرُكُمْ فِي الْأَرْحَامِ كَيْفَ يَشَاءُ ۚ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ (6)

    3|6| He it is who fashions10 you in the wombs as He will. There is no god save He, the Mighty, the Wise.

    10. That is, Allah creates in the form and shape He will, such as, whether the infant shall be male or female, ugly or pretty, of good or bad fortune, and so forth (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani).
    It is said that some people gathered around Ibrahim b. Ad-ham to hear from him. He told them he was busy with himself thinking of the four occasions and had no time for them. They asked, “What four occasions are they?” He answered:
    1) About the moment on the Day of Judgment when Allah will say, 'These (people) are for Paradise, and I do not care; and these are for Hell-fire, and I do not care.’ I wonder among which of the two groups I will be.
    2) About the moment when the angel enquired his Lord (at the time of creation), 'O my Lord! Should (this soul) be of the fortunate ones, or the unfortunate ones?’ I’m wondering what was said about me then.
    3) Of the moment (of death) when the angel of death asks: 'O my Lord! Is he to be accepted on belief or unbelief?’ I do not know what will be the answer about me then. And,
    4) About the day when it will be said, 'Stand out, O criminals.’ I do not know among which of the two groups I will be!” (Qurtubi).

    هُوَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ مِنْهُ آيَاتٌ مُحْكَمَاتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ الْكِتَابِ وَأُخَرُ مُتَشَابِهَاتٌ ۖ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ ابْتِغَاءَ الْفِتْنَةِ وَابْتِغَاءَ تَأْوِيلِهِ ۗ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللَّهُ ۗ وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِنْ عِنْدِ رَبِّنَا ۗ وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّا أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ (7)

    3|7| He it is who sent down upon you the Book wherein are verses clear.11 They are the substance of the Book, while (there are) others that are allegorical. Now, those in whose heart is deviation,12 pursue its allegorical part13 seeking distortion and desiring (false) interpretation;14 whereas no one knows its (true) interpretation save Allah. As for the well-grounded in knowledge,15 they say, 'We believe in it. All of it is from our Lord.’16 And grasp not (the true meaning) but men of understanding.17

    11. The original words are muhkamat (sing. muhkam) and mutashabihat (sing. mutashabih). The meaning, says Ibn Kathir, is that there are verses in the Qur’an that are clear in meaning, unambiguous and self-evident bearing no doubt about their purport. These are the muhkamat. There are others that are not so clear for many people, or, at least, for some of them. They allow for varying interpretations. Therefore, whoever referred back to the muhkamat for interpreting the mutashabihat found the right guidance, while he who refused, turned back upon it (i.e. upon guidance). Hence Allah (swt) said about muhkamat that they are the Umm al-Kitab, i.e. the foundation, substance and basis of the Book upon which one should rely when in doubt. In contrast, the mutashabihat allow for varying interpretations either in the light of a muhkam, or (because of the phrasing, and not because of the intent itself), independent of them.
    What parts of the Qur’an are the muhkamat? The opinion of Ibn `Abbas is: “They are the abrogating verses (al-nawasikh), those declaring (a thing) permissible, those that declare (another) impermissible, those that delineate boundaries, and those that can be used for ordering a thing and hence are meant for action (rather than contemplation: Au.).” In another report he adds “those that are meant to be believed in, and not meant for action.”
    Ibn Hanbal’s opinion is that muhkam is self explanatory and mutashabih that which requires explanation. Imam Shafe`i has said that as against mutashabih, muhkam is that which does not admit multiple interpretations - Rashid Rida from Ibn Taymiyyah. Though it “does not,” Asad says, “preclude differences of opinion regarding the implication of a particular ayah.” He adds, “...there are many statements in the Qur’an which are liable to more than one interpretation but are, nevertheless, not allegorical - just as there are many expressions and passages which, despite their allegorical formulation, reveal to the searching intellect only one possible meaning. For this reason, the ayat mutashabihat may be defined as those passages of the Qur’an which are expressed in a figurative manner, with a meaning that is metaphorically implied but not directly, in so many words, stated.”
    It is said that as against the above the mutashabihat are those that are, so far as belief in them is concerned, which are to be accepted in verbatim, without any alteration, addition, interpretation (or, as in the case of Allah’s Hands, Eyes or Istawa’), without the imagination of a physical embodiment or striking a simile. Rather, one is to believe in them, (as also in all those of the unseen which one is required to believe), without further questioning, elaboration or clarification (unless given in the Qur’an itself: Au.). That is the opinion of the salaf and the Ash`ariyyah. (Alusi adds: the sufiya are also quite close to this definition and understanding). According to another report from Ibn `Abbas, mutashabihat are the abrogated verses, those that were preceded by others, oaths and those that are for belief not involving any action (Quotation from Ibn Kathir ends here).
    Another opinion is that muhkam can be defined as that statement whose meaning can be obtained by reasoning - either in concrete terms or abstract. And mutashabih, as that whose true knowledge can in no way be gained, such as the knowledge of the Hour, as to when it will take place, etc. (Razi).
    It is also reported of Ibn `Abbas that he said that the muhkamat are in the following verses (6: 151, 152):

    قُلْ تَعَالَوْا أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَلَّا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ مِنْ إِمْلَاقٍ نَحْنُ نَرْزُقُكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ. وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا مَالَ الْيَتِيمِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ حَتَّى يَبْلُغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَأَوْفُوا الْكَيْلَ وَالْمِيزَانَ بِالْقِسْطِ لَا نُكَلِّفُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا وَإِذَا قُلْتُمْ فَاعْدِلُوا وَلَوْ كَانَ ذَا قُرْبَى وَبِعَهْدِ اللَّهِ أَوْفُوا ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ [الأنعام : 151-152]

    “Say: `Come, I shall rehearse what Allah has proscribed for you: assign not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want; - We provide sustenance for you and for them; - come not near to shameful deeds, whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus does He command you that you may learn wisdom. And come not near the orphan’s property, except in the approved way, until he attains the age of full strength; give measure and weight in (full) justice; - no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear; - whenever you speak, speak the truth, even if a near relative is involved; and fulfill the Covenant of Allah: thus does He command you that you may remember.’”
    And in the verses (17: 23 26):

    وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِنْدَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُلْ لَهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُلْ لَهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا (23) وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُلْ رَبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا (24) رَبُّكُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا فِي نُفُوسِكُمْ إِنْ تَكُونُوا صَالِحِينَ فَإِنَّهُ كَانَ لِلْأَوَّابِينَ غَفُورًا (25) وَآَتِ ذَا الْقُرْبَى حَقَّهُ وَالْمِسْكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَلَا تُبَذِّرْ تَبْذِيرًا (26 [الإسراء/23-26]

    i.e. “Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness lower to them the wing of humbleness, and say, `My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy even as they cherished me in my childhood.’ Your Lord knows best what is in your hearts. Verily, He is Most Forgiving to those who turn to Him often. And render to the kindred their due rights, as (also) to those in want, and to the wayfarer: but squander not (your wealth) squanderingly” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    12. Such as the Christians, who say that the Qur’an has also spoken of Christ as “His Spirit” and “His Word” that He placed in Mary,” and that he is “A Spirit from Him,’ ignoring its other statements such as, ”He is not but a slave whom We favored," and His words, “Verily, with Allah `Isa is but like Adam whom He created out of dust and then said `Be,’ and he was” (Ibn Kathir).
    13. In the words of Muhammad Asad (with some modification): “According to most of the early commentators, this refers to the interpretation of allegorical passages which deal with metaphysical subjects - for instance, God’s attributes, the ultimate meaning of time and eternity, the resurrection of the dead, the day of Judgment, paradise and hell, the nature of the beings ... described as angels, and so forth - all of which fall within the category of al-ghayb, i.e., that sector of reality which is beyond the reach of human perception and imagination and cannot, therefore, be conveyed to man in other than allegorical terms.”
    14. That is, they seek an interpretation of their liking. According to a hadith in Ahmad, and confirmed by similar reports in Bukhari, (and Muslim: Qurtubi), Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah (and Ibn Jarir: Au.), the Prophet (saws) recited this verse: 'He it is who sent down upon you the Book (O Muhammad)....’ until, 'And grasp not (the true meaning) but men of understanding,’ and added:

    فَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ ، فَأُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ سَمَّى اللَّهُ ، فَاحْذَرُوهُمْ

    "If you find a people arguing over the ambiguous, you should know that it is of them that Allah spoke; so avoid them" (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    A report which is confirmed to be the words of the Companions, (if not a hadith) says that the first to whom this description was applicable, (i.e. "those in whose hearts is deviation": Au.) were the Khawarij, who were the first sect (to deviate from the main stream: Au.). The reason of their deviation was nothing but worldly benefits. It so happened that when the Prophet (saws) divided the spoils of the Hunayn battle, a man called Dhu Khuwaysarah said: 'Be just, for you have not done justice.' The Prophet replied: 'If I do not administer justice, then you are lost. Did Allah trust me over the peoples of the world but you do not?'
    After the man had left, `Umar ibn al Khattab (according to another report Khalid ibn al Walid), asked leave to behead him. The Prophet said:

    إِنَّ مِنْ ضِئْضِئِ هَذَا - أَوْ فِى عَقِبِ هَذَا - قَوْمٌ يَقْرَءُونَ الْقُرْآنَ ، لاَ يُجَاوِزُ حَنَاجِرَهُمْ ، يَمْرُقُونَ مِنَ الدِّينِ مُرُوقَ السَّهْمِ مِنَ الرَّمِيَّةِ ، يَقْتُلُونَ أَهْلَ الإِسْلاَمِ ، وَيَدَعُونَ أَهْلَ الأَوْثَانِ ، لَئِنْ أَنَا أَدْرَكْتُهُمْ لأَقْتُلَنَّهُمْ قَتْلَ عَادٍ (صحيح البخارى)

    'A people will rise from his progeny who will read the Qur'an that will not go beyond their throats. They would have passed through it as clean of this religion as an arrow passes through a bow. They will fight the Islamic people and spare the pagans. If I am to encounter them, I would surely kill them the killing of `Aad.'
    They first appeared during the reign of `Ali ibn Abi Talib who fought against them at Nahrawan. Then various deviant groups appeared among their progeny such as the Qadriyyah, the Mu`tazilah, the Jahmiyyah and others. Thus, that prediction of the Prophet came true according to which:

    إِنَّ بَنِى إِسْرَائِيلَ تَفَرَّقَتْ عَلَى ثِنْتَيْنِ وَسَبْعِينَ مِلَّةً وَتَفْتَرِقُ أُمَّتِى عَلَى ثَلاَثٍ وَسَبْعِينَ مِلَّةً كُلُّهُمْ فِى النَّارِ إِلاَّ مِلَّةً وَاحِدَةً قَالُوا وَمَنْ هِىَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ مَا أَنَا عَلَيْهِ وَأَصْحَابِى - قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ مُفَسَّرٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ لاَ نَعْرِفُهُ مِثْلَ هَذَا إِلاَّ مِنْ هَذَا الْوَجْهِ (سنن الترمذى)

    'Surely the Israelites divided themselves into 72 sects, while my Ummah will divide itself into 73 sects of which every one of them will be in Fire except one.' They asked him: 'Which one would that be, Messenger of Allah?' He replied: 'That upon which I and my Companions are' (Ibn Kathir).
    The hadith as stated above is weak. Ibn Kathir himself does not give it clearance in unambiguous terms. In fact, reports that use the words "every one of them in the Fire" have been contended. Therefore, it should be taken with a pinch of salt. Nonetheless, the following is a version declared trustworthy by Tirmidhi and others:

    تَفَرَّقَتِ الْيَهُودُ عَلَى إِحْدَى وَسَبْعِينَ أَوِ اثْنَتَيْنِ وَسَبْعِينَ فِرْقَةً وَالنَّصَارَى مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ وَتَفْتَرِقُ أُمَّتِى عَلَى ثَلاَثٍ وَسَبْعِينَ فِرْقَةً ». وَفِى الْبَابِ عَنْ سَعْدٍ وَعَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو وَعَوْفِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ. قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى حَدِيثُ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ.(سنن الترمذى)

    "The Jews divided themselves into 71 or 72 sects, s also the Christians. My Ummah will divide itself into 73 sects" (Au.).
    15. Who are the al rasikhuna fi'l `ilm (well grounded in knowledge)? The answer has been given by the Prophet who, when asked replied,

    "من برت يمينه، وصدق لسانه، واستقام فلبه، ومن أعفّ بطنه وفرجه، فذلك من الراسخين في العلم"

    "He whose hands work righteousness, whose tongue speaks the truth, whose heart is upright, who guards his stomach and sexual organ - it is such who are the well grounded in knowledge" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    It may be noted that the Prophet used organs of the body alone for illustration (Au.).
    The terms under question have been used at another place in the Qur'an:

    فَبِظُلْمٍ مِنَ الَّذِينَ هَادُوا حَرَّمْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ طَيِّبَاتٍ أُحِلَّتْ لَهُمْ وَبِصَدِّهِمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ كَثِيرًا (160) وَأَخْذِهِمُ الرِّبَا وَقَدْ نُهُوا عَنْهُ وَأَكْلِهِمْ أَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ مِنْهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا (161) لَكِنِ الرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ مِنْهُمْ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ وَالْمُقِيمِينَ الصَّلَاةَ وَالْمُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآَخِرِ أُولَئِكَ سَنُؤْتِيهِمْ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا [النساء/160-162]

    "Therefore, because of the transgressions of those who Judaized themselves, We made some of those good things unlawful to them that were (originally) declared lawful, and because of their hindering many from the path of Allah; and, because of their acceptance of usury, although they were prohibited, and consuming the wealth of the people without right. We have prepared for the unbelievers among them a painful chastisement. But those of them who are well-grounded in knowledge, and the believers believe in what has been revealed to you (O Muhammad) and what was revealed before you, attend to the Prayers, pay the zakah, and those who believe in Allah and the Last Day - on such (of them) We shall soon bestow a mighty reward" (Au.).
    16. An alternative interpretation is that, "No one knows the true interpretation save Allah and those well grounded in knowledge, who say that 'We believe in it, for all of it is from our Lord.'" This is the interpretation of Mujahid, although it has been rejected by the majority. (But it is also reported of Ibn `Abbas, Ja`far Ibn Zubayr, Qasim b. Muhammad and others: Qurtubi, Shawkani). Some scholars have said that the word ta'wil of the original has two meanings. One, its true meaning; two, interpretation of the words. The well grounded in knowledge know the true meaning i.e., the plain meaning that the word affords, (as said Ibn `Abbas about himself: "I am one of those who know the meaning: Ibn Jarir), but if what is meant by the word ta'wil is the interpretation of that word meaning, then it is only Allah who has its true knowledge (Ibn Kathir).
    Rashid Rida deals with the subject of muhkam and mutashabih in a thorough fashion, quoting several authorities who have spoken on the subject including the interpretation of Ghazali. Here we (Rashid Rida) summarize a point that Ibn Taymiyyah has discussed at great length. It is with regard to what exactly is meant by the statement, "No one knows its (true) interpretation save Allah." The substance of what he has to say is as follows:
    If someone believes that Allah revealed certain portions of the Qur'an that no one understood, neither the Prophet, nor anyone after him, then surely he needs to correct himself. The Companions understood its every part as can be demonstrated in a variety of ways. The Prophet (saws) for instance prayed for Ibn `Abbas in words: "O Lord! Give him knowledge of the religion and teach him the ta'wil (i.e. the true meaning: Au.)." This is in Bukhari. Accordingly, Ibn `Abbas expounded the whole of the Qur'an as reported by Mujahid who said: "I took lessons of the whole of the Qur'an from Ibn `Abbas who explained to me its every verse." Similarly, Ibn Mas`ud is reported to have said: "There is not a verse in the Qur'an about which I do not know in what connection it was revealed."
    "Therefore, distinction has to be drawn between the 'meaning' and 'interpretation.' The salaf, as also many of the later scholars, knew the meaning of much or all of what is thought to be the mutashabih; although in some cases they could not have known the true interpretation. For instance, when Allah spoke of the Hour, they knew what was being said. But as to when and exactly how it would take place, they did not have its sure and complete knowledge; so also that statement of Ibn Hanbal in which he said in reference to Al Rahman `ala al `rshi istawa: 'We know istawa but its "how" is unknown.' (That is, we know what is the word-meaning, but we do not know its true interpretation: Au.). Or, to take another example, the salaf knew what was being meant when the Qur'an said (2: 210): "Are they but waiting that Allah should come to them in canopies of clouds with the angels accompanying Him and the affair be settled?" But they did not claim to know the true interpretation of these words. The Qur'an has, as such, denied the true interpretation and not the meaning when it said: "Whereas no one knows its (true) interpretation save Allah." This is why we say that distinction has to be made between the "meaning" and "true interpretation." (Quotation from Rashid Rida ends here).
    Bukhari reports (in his Kitab al Tafsir) through Sa`id ibn Jubayr that a man came to Ibn `Abbas and said: "I read certain things in the Qur'an that confound me."
    "What are they?" asked Ibn `Abbas. The man said, "It is said in the Qur'an (23: 101),

    فَإِذَا نُفِخَ فِي الصُّورِ فَلَا أَنْسَابَ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ وَلَا يَتَسَاءَلُونَ [المؤمنون/101]

    'When the Trumpet is blown, that day blood relationship between them shall cease to exist and they will not enquire (about each other).'
    But it is said at another place (37: 27),

    وَأَقْبَلَ بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ [الصافات/27]

    'And some of them will come forward enquiring (about others).'
    Then, it is said in one place (4: 42),

    وَلَا يَكْتُمُونَ اللَّهَ حَدِيثًا [النساء/42]

    'They will not be able to conceal a thing,' while it is also said at another place, (6: 23),

    وَاللَّهِ رَبِّنَا مَا كُنَّا مُشْرِكِينَ [الأنعام/23]

    'By Allah, we were not of the polytheists),' that is, they will be able to conceal the fact of having been polytheists.
    Or, it is said (79: 27 30),

    أَأَنْتُمْ أَشَدُّ خَلْقًا أَمِ السَّمَاءُ بَنَاهَا (27) رَفَعَ سَمْكَهَا فَسَوَّاهَا (28) وَأَغْطَشَ لَيْلَهَا وَأَخْرَجَ ضُحَاهَا (29) وَالْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ دَحَاهَا (30) [النازعات/27-30]

    'What! Are you the more difficult to create or the heavens (above you that Allah has) built? He lifted up its vault and gave it order and perfection. He darkened its night and gave light to its day, and after that He extended the earth (to great expanses),' in this verse Allah mentioned the creation of the heavens before the creation of the earth, whereas in another verse (41: 9 10) it is stated that the earth was created after the heavens:

    قُلْ أَئِنَّكُمْ لَتَكْفُرُونَ بِالَّذِي خَلَقَ الْأَرْضَ فِي يَوْمَيْنِ وَتَجْعَلُونَ لَهُ أَنْدَادًا ذَلِكَ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ (9) وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا رَوَاسِيَ مِنْ فَوْقِهَا وَبَارَكَ فِيهَا وَقَدَّرَ فِيهَا أَقْوَاتَهَا فِي أَرْبَعَةِ أَيَّامٍ سَوَاءً لِلسَّائِلِينَ (10) ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى إِلَى السَّمَاءِ وَهِيَ دُخَانٌ فَقَالَ لَهَا وَلِلْأَرْضِ اِئْتِيَا طَوْعًا أَوْ كَرْهًا قَالَتَا أَتَيْنَا طَائِعِينَ (11) [فصلت/9-11]

    'Tell them, do you deny Him who created the earth in two days, and set up His equals? (While) He (alone) is the Lord of the universe. And He placed pegs over it, bestowed blessings upon it, and placed therein its nourishment in proper measure in four days, enough for the seekers. Then He turned to the heaven and it was smoke, he said to it and to the earth: "Come, willingly or unwillingly." They said, "We come willingly."'
    Again, the Qur'an says about Allah, literally, "He was (kana) Forgiving, Kind," and, "He was Mighty, Wise," and, "He was Hearing, Seeing," as if, He was (once upon a time) but is not any more."
    In reply Ibn `Abbas told him: "Regarding the verse, 'And some of them will come forward enquiring (about others),' that will be before the Sur (the Trumpet) would have been blown. After the second blow everyone will swoon save he whom Allah saved, it is of this occasion that the verse is speaking, viz., 'That day when blood relationship between them shall cease to exist and they will not enquire (about each other).'
    "Regarding the two verses, one of which speaks of the polytheists concealing the truth and the other one which says they shall not be able to conceal anything, it will so happen that Allah will forgive the sins of those who believed in Him sincerely. Seeing this, the polytheists will also lay claim that they too associated none with Allah. Allah will in response seal their mouths and let their organs speak for them. The truth will then come out and it is then that they will know that they cannot conceal a thing from Allah.
    "Regarding the creation, you should know that Allah created the earth in two days, then He turned to the heavens (which were already there: Au.) and divided them into seven heavens. It is then that He brought forth the means of nourishment for the living on earth, creating the mountains, trees, and pasture in it in next four days.
    "As for Allah using the word kana for Himself, it is to express that He always was and will always be (Kind, Merciful, Mighty, Forgiving, etc., i.e., kana is to express continuity: Au.). Allah did not state a thing in the Qur'an but achieved the meaning He intended. Woe unto you man! Do not be confused over the Qur'an, for the whole of it is from Allah" (Qurtubi).
    The editor of Qurtubi says in the footnote that according to Qastalani the enquirer was Nafi` b. al Azraq who later became the leader of one of the sub sects of the Khawarij.
    As to why at all the allegorical is there in the Qur'an, and why not the whole of it muhkamat, one answer is, they are a challenge to the student to think and reconcile the statements. His success increases his faith and confidence (Kashshaf).
    Yet another reason is that the exercises to seek the true meaning of the allegorical has forced the readers of the Qur'an to think, which, in turn, has led to the birth of many disciplines of knowledge. Again, the Qur'an is for the commoner as well as the specialist. Now, what is for the specialist had to be clothed in such words as would lead the commoner to believe that a certain meaning had been intended which was there alright and yet there would be room for the specialist to unfathom a deeper meaning, so that a single statement can be mutashabih for the commoner, but muhkam for the specialist (Razi).
    Obviously, the allegorical substance also lures those in whose heart is sickness, to lead them to where they love to be led, i.e., to misguidance. In other words, they are a means of test, as pointed out by others (Au.).
    17. Ibn Hanbal has reported through `Amr b. Shu`ayb's grandfather that the Prophet found some people arguing (over the Qur'an). He told them:

    إِنَّمَا هَلَكَ مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ بِهَذَا ضَرَبُوا كِتَابَ اللَّهِ بَعْضَهُ بِبَعْضٍ وَإِنَّمَا نَزَلَ كِتَابُ اللَّهِ يُصَدِّقُ بَعْضُهُ بَعْضًا فَلَا تُكَذِّبُوا بَعْضَهُ بِبَعْضٍ فَمَا عَلِمْتُمْ مِنْهُ فَقُولُوا وَمَا جَهِلْتُمْ فَكِلُوهُ إِلَى عَالِمِهِ

    "This is how others before you destroyed themselves in this manner. They used one part of Allah's Book against another, while Allah’s Book has been sent down in such a way that some parts confirm others. Do not, therefore, try to refute one part with another. What you know for sure, you can speak about. But what you do not, leave it for the learned ones." (Ibn Kathir)

    رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْوَهَّابُ (8)

    3|8| (Who say) 'Our Lord! Do not deviate our hearts after You have guided us.18 Bestow upon us mercy from Yourself. Indeed, You are the Bestower.

    18. Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim have recorded Umm Salamah (ra) as saying that the Prophet (saws) used to very often supplicate in words:

    يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ، ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِي عَلَى دِينِكَ.

    "O Transformer of the hearts. Grant my heart firmness in Your religion."
    Another narrator Asma' bint Yezid reported Umm Salamah as saying that she used to hear these words from him so often that she asked him once: "Do the hearts change?" He said: "Yes. Allah hasn't created a man through Adam but his heart is in two of His fingers. If He wishes, He guides them. But if He wishes, He deviates them." According to another version, upon hearing this she asked him for the Prayer words that she could supplicate with. He told her: Say,

    اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّ مُحَمَّدٍ النَّبِيِّ اغْفِرْ لِي ذَنْبِي وَأَذْهِبْ غَيْظَ قَلْبِي وَأَجِرْنِي مِنْ مُضِلَّاتِ الْفِتَنِ مَا أَحْيَيْتَنَا

    'O Allah, Lord of Muhammad the Messenger, forgive me my sins, remove anger from my heart and save me from trials that deviate – so long as we are alive.' (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir) The hadith has also been recorded, with variations, by several doctors including Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud and Nasa'i. (Ibn Jarir has several versions of this tradition: Au.) Further, Abu `Abdullah Sanabe`i says once he Prayed maghrib behind Abu Bakr. When Abu Bakr went into the third cycle (rak`ah), he bent forward to hear what he was reciting. Abu Bakr first recited sura al Fatiha and then this verse: 'Our Lord! Do not deviate our hearts after You have guided us. And bestow upon us mercy from Yourself. Indeed, You are the Bestower' (Ibn Kathir).
    Abu Hurayrah (ra) used to pray in words: "O my Lord! May I not commit adultery. O my Lord! May I not steal. O my Lord! May I not revert to unbelief." Somebody asked him if he feared these things of himself. He said, "I have believed in the Turner of hearts." Abu Darda' reports: "Whenever `Abdullah ibn Rawaha met me he would say: 'Come `Uwaymar, let us renew our faith.' We would sit down and remember Allah for as long as He will. Then, as we would part company, Ibn Rawaha would say: '`Uwaymar, these are the assemblies of faith. Faith is like you and your jacket. Sometimes you might have removed it but would be under the impression that you have it on. And you might have put it on while thinking that you had removed it'" (Alusi).

    رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ جَامِعُ النَّاسِ لِيَوْمٍ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُخْلِفُ الْمِيعَادَ (9)

    3|9| Our Lord! Surely, You are going to gather the people in a Day wherein there is no doubt. Surely, Allah does not fail in His tryst.’

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَنْ تُغْنِيَ عَنْهُمْ أَمْوَالُهُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُهُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمْ وَقُودُ النَّارِ (10)

    3|10| Verily, neither the wealth of those who have disbelieved nor their progeny19 will aught avail them with Allah. They shall be fuel for the Fire.20

    19. An incident involving an Arab and his several sons participating in the Afghan jihad, served as an eye opener to others. A mild tremor shook the area. Everyone ran away into the open including the sons who also scrambled for safety leaving their old father behind them. "So you forgot me, eh?" the father taunted them as he advanced to them. They were of course ashamed, but the question that everyone asked himself was, if such was the behavior of those in danger, who had left their homes seeking martyrdom, what about the ordinary people! (Au.).
    20. A hadith of Ibn Abi Hatim reports Umm al Fadl, mother of Ibn `Abbas as saying: "Once when we were in Makkah the Prophet rose up one night and called out, 'Have I preached O Lord? Have I preached?' three times. `Umar ibn al Khattab stood up and said, 'Yes, (you have)'. (According to another version he said, 'By Allah you have. You have been extremely eager, did your best, and sought their good. Therefore, observe patience.'
    "When it was morning the Prophet (saws) said,

    " يظهر هذا الدين حتى يجاوز البحار وحتى نحاض ابحار بالخيل في سبيل الله تبارك وتعالى ثم يأتي أقوام يقرءون القرآن فإذا قرءوه قالوا من أقرأ منا من أعلم منا " ثم التفت إلى أصحابه فقال: " هل ترون في أولئكم من خير " قالوا: لا. قال: " أولئك منكم وأولئك من هذه الأمة وأولئك هم وقود النار ".

    'Soon Islam will overcome unbelief and push it to its enclaves until horses cross across the seas in the path of Allah. Then a people will come who will recite the Qur'an. When they have begun to recite, they will say, 'Who could be better than us in recitation, in knowledge?' Then he turned to his Companions and asked, ‘Do you any good in them?' They said, ‘No.’ He added, 'They would be of you; they would be of this Ummah, and they would be fuel of the Fire'" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    كَدَأْبِ آلِ فِرْعَوْنَ وَالَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ ۚ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا فَأَخَذَهُمُ اللَّهُ بِذُنُوبِهِمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ (11)

    3|11| Similar to the folks of Fir`awn and their predecessors - who cried lies to Our signs. Allah seized them for their sins. Allah is terrible in retribution.

    قُلْ لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا سَتُغْلَبُونَ وَتُحْشَرُونَ إِلَىٰ جَهَنَّمَ ۚ وَبِئْسَ الْمِهَادُ (12)

    3|12| Say to the unbelievers that you shall be overcome and mustered into Jahannam21 - an evil resting place.22

    21. Jahannam is one of the names of Hell.
    22. (Although the application is common, the immediate cause of revelation of this verse was that: Au.), when the Prophet returned from Badr, he ordered the Jews of the Qaynuqah tribe to assemble in their market square. When they had assembled he told them: "O Jews! Submit to Islam before a similar fate overtakes you as that which overtook the Quraysh." They replied: "Muhammad. Let not your slaying of a few Qurayshis embolden you. They were novices who did not know the art of war. If you meet us in a battle, you will discover that you had not encountered a people like us" (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani).

    قَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ آيَةٌ فِي فِئَتَيْنِ الْتَقَتَا ۖ فِئَةٌ تُقَاتِلُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَأُخْرَىٰ كَافِرَةٌ يَرَوْنَهُمْ مِثْلَيْهِمْ رَأْيَ الْعَيْنِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ يُؤَيِّدُ بِنَصْرِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۗ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَعِبْرَةً لِأُولِي الْأَبْصَارِ (13)

    3|13| There was a sign for you in the two groups that met (at Badr). One group fighting in the cause of Allah while the other – unbelievers, (in the cause of the Devil). They saw them, as the eye sees, twice themselves.23 (But) Allah strengthens with His succor whom He will. In that was a lesson indeed for those who have insight.

    23. Two meanings are possible: first, the Muslims were seeing the unbelievers twice themselves in number, and second, it was the unbelievers who were seeing the Muslims twice themselves in numbers. In either case a doubt arises about the implication of another verse in the Qur'an which says (8: 44),

    وَإِذْ يُرِيكُمُوهُمْ إِذِ الْتَقَيْتُمْ فِي أَعْيُنِكُمْ قَلِيلًا وَيُقَلِّلُكُمْ فِي أَعْيُنِهِمْ لِيَقْضِيَ اللَّهُ أَمْرًا كَانَ مَفْعُولًا [الأنفال : 44]

    'When Allah rendered them to you as few, when you encountered them (at Badr) and rendered you to them as few in their eyes, in order that Allah may bring to an end the affair that had been decided (in your favor).' The answer is that although both the incidents are in reference to Badr, they happened at different moments of the battle. Initially, when they came face to face with each other, the Muslims saw the unbelievers as twice themselves in numbers, (although they were three times more). But when actual combat started, the Muslims saw them as fewer than themselves. "Until," says Ibn Mas`ud, "I turned to the man next to me and asked: 'Do you reckon they are seventy?' He said: 'Nope. I think they are a hundred.' (Actually, they were about a thousand: Au.). But when we defeated them and captured prisoners we asked them, 'How many were you?' They said, 'A thousand'" (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Kashshaf, Ibn Kathir).

    زُيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ الشَّهَوَاتِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ وَالْبَنِينَ وَالْقَنَاطِيرِ الْمُقَنْطَرَةِ مِنَ الذَّهَبِ وَالْفِضَّةِ وَالْخَيْلِ الْمُسَوَّمَةِ وَالْأَنْعَامِ وَالْحَرْثِ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَاللَّهُ عِنْدَهُ حُسْنُ الْمَآبِ (14)

    3|14| Beautified24 for mankind is the joy of the carnal things (that come) from: women,25 offspring, heaped-up hoards26 of gold and silver, branded horses, cattle27 and fields. These are short-lived joys of this world, whereas with Allah is the fairest resort.28

    24. The verse, following the previous verse, which spoke about the battle of Badr, seems to imply that most of the wars are fought for worldly gains, which have been beautified for the people (Alusi).
    25. This making of the worldly things attractive in the sight of the people has been done to test them. A hadith in Muslim says:

    حُفَّتِ الْجَنَّةُ بِالْمَكَارِهِ وَحُفَّتِ النَّارُ بِالشَّهَوَاتِ

    "Paradise has been covered with unpleasant things and the Fire with carnal things." (Qurtubi) The Prophet has also said:

    مَا تَرَكْتُ بَعْدِي فِتْنَةً أَضَرَّ عَلَى الرِّجَالِ مِنْ النِّسَاءِ

    "I am not leaving behind me a temptation for men greater than women." He has also said in a report preserved by Ibn Majah;

    لاَ تَنْكِحُوا النِّسَاءَ لِحُسْنِهِنَّ فَعَسَى حُسْنُهُنَّ أَنْ يُرْدِيَهُنَّ وَلاَ تَنْكِحُوا النِّسَاءَ لأَمْوَالِهِنَّ فَعَسَى أَمْوَالُهُنَّ أَنْ تُطْغِيَهُنَّ وَانْكِحُوهُنَّ عَلَى الدِّينِ فَلأَمَةٌ سَوْدَاءُ خَرْقَاءُ ذَاتُ دِينٍ أَفْضَ

    "Do not marry women for their beauty, for their beauty may fade away, nor marry them for their wealth, for their wealth may lead them to rebellion. Rather, marry them for their religion. A black religious slave girl with a sheared ear, or lobes pierced, is preferable (over an irreligious one)" – Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir.
    However, if one is fond of women for the sake of children or to safeguard his chastity, then this does not go against the Qur'an as said the Prophet in a hadith of Bukhari:

    فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ هَذِهِ الأُمَّةِ كَانَ أَكْثَرَهَا نِسَاءً

    "The best of my Ummah are those who have the largest number of women (as wives)." He said about himself:

    حُبِّبَ إِلَيَّ النِّسَاءُ وَالطِّيبُ وَجُعِلَ قُرَّةُ عَيْنِي فِي الصَّلَاةِ

    "Women and perfumes have been made dear to me. And the cool of my eyes has been placed for me in the Prayers." And, (Qurtubi) `A'isha (ra) says:

    لم يكن أحب إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بعد النساء من الخيل

    "Nothing was dearer to the Prophet after women than horses." According to another version: "than horses except women." The same principle applies to all the other things mentioned in this verse. If they are dear for the sake of Allah, in order to carry out a duty of Allah, or to meet the just needs, and not for the sake of possession, or to appease the ego, then there is no harm in them. In fact, they are commendable (Ibn Kathir).
    26. Qintar is either African, Syrian or Roman in origin, meaning a large amount of heaped up gold or silver. Its plural is, according to Farra', qanatir and muqantarah is plural of plural (Qurtubi).
    27. Thanwi has a useful point on the question of love of worldly things. He writes: "Since it is Allah Himself who has beautified the worldly things for mankind, it is a part of human nature, and hence a man is not required to remove it from his heart. (Rather, adds Mufti Shafi`, as Rumi has said, let the heart swim in the sea of material things as does the boat in water, and not sink into it). Whereas (continues Thanwi) in the verse that follows, which declares the Hereafter of greater and permanent value, man is exhorted to cultivate in his heart the love of the Hereafter. That is, instead of working against the "natural love" man is recommended to work on generating in himself this "rational love," and give it preference over the former. This leads us to another truth, viz., of the human qualities some are natural and Allah endowed, and hence man has no control over them. He cannot overcome them. Others are those that man is supposed to acquire, and they, of course, are within his reach and capability. Some salikin do not know the difference and toil at the wrong end."
    28. Na`m is camels. But its plural an`am is cattle. A hadith of Ibn Majah says the Prophet (saws) said:

    الإِبِلُ عِزٌّ لأَهْلِهَا. وَالْغَنَمُ بَرَكَةٌ. وَالْخَيْرُ مَعْقُودٌ فِي نَوَاصِي الْخَيْلِ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ

    "Camels are a means of honor. In sheep and goat there is barakah. As for horses, blessings of all kinds will accompany them until the Last Day."
    The above hadith is partly in Ibn Majah, which Haythami declared trustworthy (Au.).
    Another hadith of sahih isnad reports the Prophet as having advised Umm Hani:

    اتخذي غنما فان فيها بركة

    "Keep some sheep (and goats) for yourself, there is barakah in them" (Qurtubi).
    Haythami declared the above hadith as trustworthy.
    One many note the order: women, children, gold and silver, horses, cattle and farms. When a man attains maturity, he needs a woman. Children follow. The family needs wealth and means of transport. Wealth comes from cattle and farms. Industry has been left out, (although a Prophet of yore, Da'ud (asws), made industrial wares, and rudimentary ones existed in Arabia), perhaps because the modern industrial activity is an incidental and short lived one. Human economy over the centuries has been primarily agricultural and pastoral, and will remain so, since humans will outlast minerals (Au.).

    قُلْ أَؤُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِخَيْرٍ مِنْ ذَٰلِكُمْ ۚ لِلَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَأَزْوَاجٌ مُطَهَّرَةٌ وَرِضْوَانٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ (15)

    3|15| Tell them, 'Shall I tell you of (things) better than these? For those of you who acquired piety, for them are, with their Lord, gardens beneath which rivers flow; wherein they shall abide forever; and spouses purified, and a rida from Allah.29 And Allah Sees His slaves.

    29. A hadith of Muslim says:

    إذا دخل أهل الجنة يقول الله تعالى لهم (تريدون شيئا أزيدكم)؟ فيقولون: يا ربنا وأي شيء أفضل من هذا؟ فيقول “رِضَاىَ فَلاَ أَسْخَطُ عَلَيْكُمْ بَعْدَهُ أَبَدًا”

    Allah will enquire the people of Paradise whether they needed anything else. They would ask if there was anything else better than what they already had. They would be told: "My rida. I will not be angry with you again" (Qurtubi).

    الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا إِنَّنَا آمَنَّا فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ (16)

    3|16| Those who say: 'Our Lord! We have believed, therefore, forgive us our sins, and save us from the punishment of the Fire.'

    الصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْمُنْفِقِينَ وَالْمُسْتَغْفِرِينَ بِالْأَسْحَارِ (17)

    3|17| The Patient (and persevering), truthful, devoted, (those who) expend and implore Allah’s forgiveness in the early hours of the morning.30

    30. It has been recorded in the Sahihayn and other books that the Prophet said:

    "يَنْزِلُ رَبّنَا تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَىَ كُلّ لَيْلَةٍ إِلَىَ السّمَاءِ الدّنْيَا حِينَ يَبْقَىَ ثُلُثُ اللّيْلِ الاَخِرُ، فَيَقُولُ: مَنْ يَدْعُونِي فَأَسْتَجِيبَ لَهُ وَمَنْ يَسْأَلُنِي فَأُعْطِيَهُ وَمَنْ يَسْتَغْفِرُنِي فَأَغْفِرُ لَهُ".

    "Allah descends to the firmament of this world every night when a third of it is left and says: ‘Is there anyone to ask so that I might give? Is there anyone to supplicate so that I might answer? Is there anyone to seek forgiveness so that I might forgive?’" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    It is reported of Ibn `Umar that he would Pray through the night and then ask: "Nafe`! Has the dawn begun to appear?" When Nafe` said yes, he would begin to supplicate and seek forgiveness until the dawn. `Awf Ibn Hatib reports from his father that once he overheard a man who was supplicating in the corner of the mosque, saying: "O My Lord! You ordered and I obeyed. Now this is dawn. Therefore, forgive me." He looked at him. It was `Abdullah Ibn Mas`ud. Finally, Anas bin Malik says: "We used to be told that when we are through with the night Prayers, we should seek Allah's forgiveness seventy times at the approach of dawn (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    شَهِدَ اللَّهُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَأُولُو الْعِلْمِ قَائِمًا بِالْقِسْطِ ۚ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ (18)

    3|18| Allah testifies that there is no god save He,31 and (so do) the angels and the men of learning32 upholding justice;33 there is no god save He, the Mighty,34 the Wise.35

    31. What is the meaning of Allah bearing witness? Ibn al-Qayyim offers an explanation in detail, of which we shall present only the main points, leaving out the arguments that accompany them.
    There are four levels of testimony to a thing:
    1. Knowledge of the thing and belief in it as the truth, as Allah said (86: 43),

    وَلَا يَمْلِكُ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِهِ الشَّفَاعَةَ إِلَّا مَنْ شَهِدَ بِالْحَقِّ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ [الزخرف : 86]

    "And those whom they call upon except Allah have no power of intercession save those who testify to the truth and they have knowledge."
    2. Its articulation, even if done to oneself and without the knowledge of others as Allah said (43:19):

    وَجَعَلُوا الْمَلَائِكَةَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ عِبَادُ الرَّحْمَنِ إِنَاثًا أَشَهِدُوا خَلْقَهُمْ سَتُكْتَبُ شَهَادَتُهُمْ وَيُسْأَلُونَ [الزخرف : 19]

    "They have declared angels who are the slaves of the Merciful – as females. Have they witnessed their creation? Their testimony will be written down and they shall be questioned."
    3. Education and tutoring of others who are ignorant of it as Allah said (9: 17):

    مَا كَانَ لِلْمُشْرِكِينَ أَنْ يَعْمُرُوا مَسَاجِدَ اللَّهِ شَاهِدِينَ عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ بِالْكُفْرِ [التوبة : 17]

    "It was not right of the polytheists to visit the Mosques of Allah, while they bear witness to their own disbelief."
    4. Living by its implications and ordering others the same as Allah said (17: 23):

    وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ [الإسراء : 23]

    "Your Lord has ordered that you worship none but Him."
    Ibn Taymiyyah however points out that the existence of the world itself, and the wonderful system by which it operates, bears testimony to Allah's oneness, hence "His testimony.”
    32. This demonstrates the status of the `ulama' who have been mentioned along with Allah as witnesses to His oneness, as also it proves the value of knowledge. Indeed, our Prophet himself was asked to supplicate in words:

    رَبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا [طه : 114]

    "My Lord! Grant me increase in knowledge." The Prophet is reported to have said about the scholars that they are the inheritors of the Prophets (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    A hadith of Musnad Ahmad reports Zubayr b. al `Awwam as saying that the Prophet (saws) recited this verse in `Arafah and said: "And I am of those who bear witness, O My Lord."
    And Qattan reports that he happened to have been in Kufa for trade. He stayed there near the quarters of A`mash. One night he heard him recite in his taHajjud this verse: "Allah is witness that there is no god save He, and (so do) the angels and the men of learning, (the One Allah, who is at all times) upholding justice; there is no god save He, the Mighty, the Wise," and then add: "I bear witness to what Allah has borne witness. And I reserve this testimony with Allah. It will be with Him until the Day of Resurrection. And Islam is the true religion." Qattan says, "When I went to say goodbye to A`mash I asked him about what he meant when he said that night since I had no heard anything of the sort from him earlier, although I was in his neighborhood for almost a year." He told me, 'By Allah, I will not tell you about it for another year.' So I left him and wrote the date on his house. After a year I reminded him of it. He said, 'I have heard Ibn Mas`ud report the Prophet as having said that this testimony will be brought to Allah on the Day of Resurrection. Allah will say, "My slave took a promise from Me, and it is deserving of Me that I should keep the promise. Let My slave enter Paradise."' (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani).
    Qurtubi adds however that according to some scholars this report originating from Musnad Ahmad is weak because of Qattan, but Ibn Ma`in, and Abu Hatim declared him a reliable transmitter.
    33. All the attributes of Allah can be incorporated into two: tawhid and `adl. Tawhid signifies Perfection and Beauty. `Adl signifies the emanation of actions that are just, in the right proportion and meeting with the requirements of wisdom. Allah first spoke of tawhid and then al qist which is a synonym of `adl (Ibn Qayyim).
    34. The Mighty, whose Power defies any estimation (Ibn Kathir).
    35. The Wise in His acts, laws, and Right proportionate (in all things He creates) Ibn Kathir.

    إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ الْإِسْلَامُ ۗ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۗ وَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ (19)

    3|19| Verily the (true) religion36 with Allah is Islam.37 Those who were given the Book did not differ but after they had received the knowledge - in envy of each other.38 And whoever rejects the Signs of Allah (should know that) Allah is swift at the reckoning.

    36. "Din" here is equivalent of submission and obedience. (Ibn Jarir)
    37. That is, Allah will accept no religion from His slaves except Islam as He said at another place in this surah itself (3: 85):

    وَمَنْ يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا فَلَنْ يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ [آل عمران : 85]

    "Whoever sought a religion other than Islam will not have it accepted from him."
    The first to whom the passage addressed were the Christians of Najran (Ibn Jarir).
    Zamakhshari says, to the effect: Allah qualified Himself as the One who is Mighty, (whom no one can overcome), and as the Just who rules with wisdom. To put it briefly, He is the One and the Just. Then Allah said that "religion with Him is Islam," implying that Islam can be summarized as the religion of oneness of Allah, and justice (din al tawhid wa `adl).
    He also explains that there is no repetition in "There is no god save He." For, the first asserts His unity, and the second explains that God, who is One, possesses the Attributes of Might and Wisdom.
    38. Mawdudi writes: "In the sight of God there is only one system of life and way of conduct which is both in accord with reality and morally right. This consists of man's acknowledging God as his Lord and the sole object of worship and devotion; of surrendering himself unreservedly to God in obedience and service. In doing so he should follow in toto the guidance communicated by God through His Messengers..." And, a little later, "...the religion of every Messenger of God, in every age and clime, was none other than Islam (submission to God). Likewise, every Divine book, in whichever language it was revealed, and to whichever people it was addressed, contained the teachings of Islam. The various religions which have spread among mankind are distortions of this original religion, and are the results of tampering. Coveting privileges over and above those to which they were entitled, people altered the beliefs, principles and injunctions of the true religion in a manner conducive to their own interests."

    فَإِنْ حَاجُّوكَ فَقُلْ أَسْلَمْتُ وَجْهِيَ لِلَّهِ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِ ۗ وَقُلْ لِلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ وَالْأُمِّيِّينَ أَأَسْلَمْتُمْ ۚ فَإِنْ أَسْلَمُوا فَقَدِ اهْتَدَوْا ۖ وَإِنْ تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّمَا عَلَيْكَ الْبَلَاغُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ (20)

    3|20| Therefore, if they dispute with you, tell them, 'I have surrendered myself to Allah as (have) those who follow me.’ Ask those who have been given the Book and the unlettered ones: 'Have you surrendered?’ If they surrender, they (will) attain to guidance. But if they turn away, then, upon you is only the deliverance (of the message). And Allah sees the people.39

    39. Ibn Kathir writes: The verse underlines the fact that Prophet Muhammad was sent to the entire mankind, as it is stated in another verse (7: 158):

    قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا [الأعراف : 158]

    "O people. Verily I am a Messenger of Allah unto all of you." And (25: 1),

    تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ الْفُرْقَانَ عَلَى عَبْدِهِ لِيَكُونَ لِلْعَالَمِينَ نَذِيرًا [الفرقان : 1]

    "Glorified is He who sent down the Furqan on His slave (Muhammad) so that he may be a warner unto the worlds."
    And a hadith preserved by Muslim reports the Prophet as having said: "By Him in whose Hands is my life, no one from this Ummah, whether he be a Jew or a Christian, hears about me and then dies without believing in what I have brought, but he will be among the people of the Fire." Imam Ahmad has another tradition recorded in his Musnad (as also by Bukhari) which supports our statement.

    عَنْ أَنَسٍ أَنَّ غُلَامًا يَهُودِيًّا كَانَ يَضَعُ لِلنَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَضُوءَهُ وَيُنَاوِلُهُ نَعْلَيْهِ فَمَرِضَ فَأَتَاهُ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَدَخَلَ عَلَيْهِ وَأَبُوهُ قَاعِدٌ عِنْدَ رَأْسِهِ فَقَالَ لَهُ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَا فُلَانُ قُلْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ فَنَظَرَ إِلَى أَبِيهِ فَسَكَتَ أَبُوهُ فَأَعَادَ عَلَيْهِ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَنَظَرَ إِلَى أَبِيهِ فَقَالَ أَبُوهُ أَطِعْ أَبَا الْقَاسِمِ فَقَالَ الْغُلَامُ أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّكَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ فَخَرَجَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَهُوَ يَقُولُ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَخْرَجَهُ بِي مِنْ النَّارِ

    ِA Jewish lad used to assist the Prophet by fetching water for ablution, setting right his shoes and so forth. He fell sick and the Prophet visited him. His father was by the boy's side. The Prophet told him: "O so and so, say, 'There is no god save Allah.'" The lad looked at his father (as if seeking his acquiescence). The father remained silent. The Prophet repeated the invitation. The boy again looked at his father. The father said: "Obey Abu 'l Qasim." The boy said: "I testify that there is no god save Allah, and that you are His Messenger." The Prophet came out saying: "Praise to Allah who saved the boy from the Fire through me" (Quotation from Ibn Kathir ends here).

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَيَقْتُلُونَ النَّبِيِّينَ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ وَيَقْتُلُونَ الَّذِينَ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْقِسْطِ مِنَ النَّاسِ فَبَشِّرْهُمْ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ (21)

    3|21| Surely, those who deny the Signs of Allah, slay the prophets without right, and slay such of the people as enjoin justice,40 give glad tidings to them of a painful chastisement.41

    40. Enjoining virtue and forbidding evil is an obligation that applies to all. But it is conditional to the ability of a person. Abu Sa`id al Khudri has reported the Prophet as having said:

    مَنْ رَأَى مِنْكُمْ مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُغَيِّرْهُ بِيَدِهِ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الإِيمَانِ

    "Let him who sees an unseemly thing happen change it with (the force of) his hands. If he cannot, let him do it with his tongue. If he cannot, then let him condemn it in his heart. And this is the weakest (level) of faith" (Qurtubi).
    Qurtubi writes: It is said that four things prevent tribulations from descending down upon a country. First, a just ruler; second, a rightly guided scholar; third, a people who enjoin virtue and forbid evil, and fourth, women who observe hijab.
    41. The Jews have been indicted in this verse. In a hadith preserved by Ibn abi Hatim and reported by Ibn Jarir, the Prophet is reported by Abu `Ubaydah ibn al Jarrah as replying to him when he asked him about who will be the most severely punished person in the Hereafter:

    "رجل قتل نبياً، أو من أمر بالمعروف ونهى عن المنكر" ثم قرأ رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم : {إن الذين يكفرون بآيات اللّه، ويقتلون النبيين بغير حق ويقتلون الذين يأمرون بالقسط من الناس، فبشرهم بعذاب أليم} الآية. ثم قال رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم : "يا أبا عبيدة قتلت بنو إسرائيل ثلاثة وأربعين نبياً من أول النهار في ساعة واحد، فقام مائة وسبعون رجلا من بني إسرائيل فأمروا من قتلهم بالمعروف ونهوهم عن المنكر فقتلوهم جميعاً من آخر النهار من ذلك اليوم، فهم الذين ذكر اللّه عزّ وجلّ" (رواه ابن أبي حاتم وابن جرير).

    "He who killed a Prophet, or (killed) someone who enjoined good and forbade wrong." Then the Prophet recited this verse: "Surely those who deny Allah's Signs, slay the prophets without right, and slay such of the people as enjoin justice, give glad tidings to them of a painful chastisement." Then he added: "Abu `Ubaydah! Once, the Israelites slaughtered 43 prophets at the beginning of the day. In protest 112 of them stood up to enjoin good and forbid evil. By the evening, the Israelites had slaughtered them all" (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, Razi, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani).
    Perhaps by prophets the allusion is to pious men. The Bible confirms the Prophet's statement about a multitude of prophets appearing at one time. It says in 1 Kings, ch.18, verses 3 4: (Now Obadi'ah revered the Lord greatly; and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, Obadi'ah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and fed them with bread and water)" Au.
    According to Ma`qal bin Abi Miskin, Qatadah, and Ibn Jurayj, the people who enjoined the Israelites justice were those who received inspiration from Allah (and not Revelation) which they conveyed to the people who in response murdered them (Ibn Jarir).
    According to Ibn `Abbas, the verse refers to the murder of Yahya (John the Baptist) who was killed because he refused to endorse the marriage of the Israeli ruler of his time to his niece (Hakim has declared this report trustworthy: Shawkani).
    Sayyid expounds: "Slaying of the Prophets and those who enjoined justice leads us to believe that the allusion here is to Jews. This has been their characteristic down the ages. However, this does not absolve the Christians completely. The pages of history are replete with the story of their cold blooded murder of tens of thousands of those who did not accept a particular version of Christianity forced upon them by the Roman imperialists. Among those who were thus done away with, were those who believed in the oneness of Allah and in the human nature of Jesus Christ. Obviously, this indictment also includes those of all times who will follow them in their footsteps and persecute the flag bearers of truth.
    "Further, it will do us good to find out whom the Qur'an is alluding to when it says "those who deny the signs of Allah." It is not only those who openly declare their word of unbelief; also included are those who do not believe in the oneness of Allah in the sense that they do not confine their acts of worship to Him alone. Furthermore, this also implies the unity of orientation in the collective life of the people, so far as their laws, values, criterion of judgment, and objectives (of life) are concerned."

    أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ حَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَمَا لَهُمْ مِنْ نَاصِرِينَ (22)

    3|22| These are the ones whose deeds will bear no fruit in this world nor in the next, neither shall they have anyone to help.

    أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا نَصِيبًا مِنَ الْكِتَابِ يُدْعَوْنَ إِلَىٰ كِتَابِ اللَّهِ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ يَتَوَلَّىٰ فَرِيقٌ مِنْهُمْ وَهُمْ مُعْرِضُونَ (23)

    3|23| Have you not considered those who were given a share of the Book who, when they are invited to the Book of Allah in order that it may judge between them, (yet), despite that, a party of them turns away, declining?42

    42. Reports suggest that some Jews came to the Prophet and asked him about what was the religion that he followed. He said, "That of Ibrahim." They said, "But he was a Jew." He challenged them to bring the Scripture to substantiate their claim. They balked at that and Allah revealed this verse (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, Razi, Shawkani).
    According to another report the case of a wealthy Jewish man and woman adulterers was brought to the Prophet in the hope that he would order lighter punishment. He judged that they be stoned to death. They refused on the grounds that no such commandment was prescribed by the Tawrah. The Prophet asked them to bring the Tawrah and read out the text to him. When they reached the portion ordering stoning of the adulterers, they placed their hand on the text and read out the rest. Abdullah ibn Salam (a former Jew and rabbi) exposed the deceit. Allah revealed this verse and the Prophet confirmed their stoning. (Zamakhshari, Razi)
    Sayyid Qutb asks: "How then should those be judged who claim that they are Muslims while they deny the Shari`ah any role in their lives?! If such an attitude was not acceptable from those who were given ‘a part of the Book’ earlier, how can it be acceptable from those who have been given ‘whole of the Book’ in the sense that it is the complete and comprehensive revelation, viz., the Qur'an?!"

    ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا لَنْ تَمَسَّنَا النَّارُ إِلَّا أَيَّامًا مَعْدُودَاتٍ ۖ وَغَرَّهُمْ فِي دِينِهِمْ مَا كَانُوا يَفْتَرُونَ (24)

    3|24| This because they claim: 'The Fire shall not touch us but for a few days.’ (Thus) deludes them in their religion what they used to forge.

    فَكَيْفَ إِذَا جَمَعْنَاهُمْ لِيَوْمٍ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ وَوُفِّيَتْ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَا كَسَبَتْ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ (25)

    3|25| How will it be then when We shall assemble them together on a Day in which there is no doubt. And every soul shall be paid in full for what it earned, and they shall not be wronged.

    قُلِ اللَّهُمَّ مَالِكَ الْمُلْكِ تُؤْتِي الْمُلْكَ مَنْ تَشَاءُ وَتَنْزِعُ الْمُلْكَ مِمَّنْ تَشَاءُ وَتُعِزُّ مَنْ تَشَاءُ وَتُذِلُّ مَنْ تَشَاءُ ۖ بِيَدِكَ الْخَيْرُ ۖ إِنَّكَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ (26)

    3|26| Say, 'O Lord! Master of the Kingdom, Thou bestow the rule43 upon whom Thou will, and taketh away the rule from whom Thou will. Thou endow with honor whom Thou will, and humiliate whom Thou will. In Thy Hand is the Good.44 Verily, Thou hast power over all things.45

    43. The great majority take the obvious meaning of mulk as kingdom or rule. Nevertheless, according to Mujahid, here mulk stands for messengership, meaning, Allah takes away messengereship from the descendants of one person and places it in the descendants of another (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    44. The words, "In Thy Hand is the Good," hint at the fact that all that there is in the world is good in its essence. Evil has no real existence. It has its existence only from a certain angle or perspective. A thing or event may be evil for a people, but not so for everyone. In fact, it may even be good for another set of people. Hence, Allah did not mention evil along with Good (Mufti Shafi` from Thanwi).
    45. It is said that when the Prophet (saws) had overrun Makkah he predicted that his Companions would similarly overrun the Roman and Persian Empires. When the Jews and the hypocrites heard about it, they remarked: "How preposterous of Muhammad to claim Rome and Persia. They are more powerful and honored than to fall to Muhammad. Aren't Makkah and Madinah enough for him that he should now aspire to rule Rome and Persia?" Allah revealed this verse (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, Alusi).
    Another narration has it that, while digging the trench when Salman al Farasi and some of his compatriots struck a rock that they could not break, they complained to the Prophet. He struck it with a pick ax. The strike produced sparks and he said "Allahu Akbar." This happened thrice and ultimately the rock split. When he was asked to explain, he said that with the first spark he saw the palaces of Persia and was promised by Jibril that his followers would one day possess them. With the second spark he saw the palaces of Rome and was promised that they would also fall into the hands of his followers. The third spark lighted the palaces of the Himyar kings in Yemen and Jibril promised that those lands would also be subdued. When the Jews and hypocrites heard that they said: "Look at these people. They are digging a trench to save their skins from the Makkans but they dream of such things." Against this background, Allah revealed this verse (Zamakhshari, Razi, Alusi).
    According to a hadith preserved by Ibn Abi Dunya and Tabarani, when Mu`adh ibn Jabal complained of debts the Prophet told him to recite this verse and then follow it up with:

    اللَّهُمَّ مَالِكَ الْمُلْكِ تُؤْتِي الْمُلْكَ مَنْ تَشَاءُ، وَتَنْزِعُ الْمُلْكَ مِمَّنْ تَشَاءُ إِلَى قَوْلِهِ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ إِلَى الآخِرِ، رَحْمَنَ الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ وَرَحِيمَهُمَا، تُعْطَى مِنْهُمَا مَنْ تَشَاءُ، وتَمْنَعُ مِنْهُمَا مَنْ تَشَاءُ، اللَّهُمَّ أَغْنِنِي عَنِ الْفَقْرِ، وَاقْضِ عَنِّي الدَّيْنَ، وَتَوَفَّنِي فِي عِبَادِكَ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِكَ

    "O Allah, the Owner of the kingdom, You bestow the kingdom upon whom You will, and take the kingdom away from whom You will .. until the words .. without measure, O Compassionate of this world and the Hereafter, and O Merciful of both the worlds! You bestow upon whom You will, and withhold from whom You will. O Allah! Relieve me of poverty and relieve me of my debts; and deal me death in the company of Your slaves, and fighting in Your path." Allah will clear his debts even if they were to be as large as Mount Uhud (Qurtubi, Shawkani).
    (The hadith text is from Tabarani: Au.).

    تُولِجُ اللَّيْلَ فِي النَّهَارِ وَتُولِجُ النَّهَارَ فِي اللَّيْلِ ۖ وَتُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَتُخْرِجُ الْمَيِّتَ مِنَ الْحَيِّ ۖ وَتَرْزُقُ مَنْ تَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ (27)

    3|27| Thou maketh the night enter into the day and maketh the day enter into the night,46 bring forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living,47 and provide him Thou wilt without measure.’

    46. That is, He lengthens the day in one season by taking away a part of the night and adding it to the day, and lengthens the night in another season by taking a part of the day to add it to the night (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    47. That is, He brings out the plant from its grain, the grain from its plant, the palm tree from its seed and the seed from the palm tree, the believer out of an unbeliever, an unbeliever out of a believer, the chicken from the egg, and the egg from the chicken (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    According to Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah and Suddi, by the "dead" the allusion is to the semen that originates from the "living" man and then from this "dead" matter a man who is "living" springs out (Ibn Jarir).

    لَا يَتَّخِذِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْكَافِرِينَ أَوْلِيَاءَ مِنْ دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۖ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَلَيْسَ مِنَ اللَّهِ فِي شَيْءٍ إِلَّا أَنْ تَتَّقُوا مِنْهُمْ تُقَاةً ۗ وَيُحَذِّرُكُمُ اللَّهُ نَفْسَهُ ۗ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ الْمَصِيرُ (28)

    3|28| Let not the believers take the unbelievers rather than the believers as their (trusted) friends.48 He who does that, has no standing with Allah, unless you (intend to) guard yourselves against them.49 And Allah cautions you against Himself. To Allah will be the return.

    48. Ibn `Abbas has said that `Ubadah ibn Samit (who was an important figure of the Ansar: Au.) had 500 Jews as his supporters. On the occasion of a certain campaign he sought the permission of the Prophet to take them along as volunteers. Allah revealed this verse (Alusi).Allah (swt) also said elsewhere (5: 51):

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَى أَوْلِيَاءَ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ وَمَنْ يَتَوَلَّهُمْ مِنْكُمْ فَإِنَّهُ مِنْهُمْ َ [المائدة : 51]

    "Believers! Do not take Jews and Christians as your friends. Some of them are friends of the others. Those of you who befriend them are of them."
    Allah also said about the pagans, after He had spoken of friendship between believers, immigrants, the Helpers and the Arabs in general (8: 73),

    وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ إِلَّا تَفْعَلُوهُ تَكُنْ فِتْنَةٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَفَسَادٌ كَبِيرٌ [الأنفال : 73

    "Those who have disbelieved, some of them are friends of the others. If you do not do that (i.e. shun them) there will be tumult in the earth and corruption in great proportions" (Ibn Kathir).
    Alusi explains: Some scholars are of the opinion that the impermissibility of taking unbelievers as friends includes seeking their help in war. But the great majority believes that their help may be taken in return for a small amount of war spoils. However, it has been clarified that it is conditional to seeking their help against the pagans and not against (Muslim: Au.) rebels. As for what is reported of the Prophet that at the time of Badr when a polytheist asked his permission to fight along with him, he refused, saying, "We do not seek the help of the polytheists," this is abrogated since later the Prophet himself accepted the help of the Jews of Qaynuqa` and that of Safwan b. Umayyah on the occasion of the Ta’if campaign. In conclusion it can be said that the help that some have declared unlawful is the one in which Muslims happen to be the weaker party (i.e. if the Muslims are weaker than the unbelievers whose help they are seeking, then it is disallowed), but if the Muslims remain the stronger party in the coalition, (and in control of the situation: Au.) then it is permissible. Further, in view of this some scholars have ruled that in the event of co operation, non Muslims should not be given sensitive positions.
    Thanwi has some useful points. He says there are three kinds of relationships with the unbelievers: muwalat, (friendship based on mutual trust and love) mudarat, (courteous behavior), and mu'asat, (charitable behavior). Muwaalat (the friendship in which secrets are shared), is impermissible in all circumstances in view of (5: 51): "Believers! Do not take the Jews and Christians as your friends. Some of them are friends of the others. Those of you who befriend them, are of them," and (60: 1): "Believers! Do not take My enemies and your enemies as friends." Mudaarat is permissible in three circumstances: 1) To avoid a harm or injury; 2) in view of an advantage to the unbeliever, such as presentation of Islam to him, and 3) in the circumstances of the unbeliever being a guest. However, mudarat is not permissible if the objective is to gain material advantages of them. In fact, if it causes religious harm, it is strictly disallowed. The verse in question is in fact speaking of this type of mudarat though in the name of muwalat since in appearance it is muwalat. As for mu'asat, it is permissible toward the non violent unbeliever (al kafir al ghayr al harbi) but impermissible toward the violent unbeliever.
    Muhammad Shafi` adds: A fourth level is that of mu`amalat or dealings such as in trade and commerce. This is allowed without any restriction so far as it does not hurt Islam and Muslims, such as selling arms to them which might be used against Muslims.
    49. Accordingly, in situations where one is fearful of his life or a great injury, Islam allows dissimulation of faith. This is known as taqiyyah, and, according to Hasan al Basri, as reported by Imam Bukhari, the rule will stay in force until the Day of Judgment. This is based on another verse which says (16: 106):

    مَنْ كَفَرَ بِاللَّهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ إِيمَانِهِ إِلَّا مَنْ أُكْرِهَ وَقَلْبُهُ مُطْمَئِنٌّ بِالْإِيمَانِ [النحل : 106]

    "Whoever disbelieved after having believed, except for him who was compelled, while his heart was satisfied with the faith (of Islam)..." But taqiyyah is to be employed in words alone and not in deeds (Ibn Kathir). However, some of the Salaf have disagreed and said that there is no taqiyyah after the power that Islam has gained (Shawkani).
    Nevertheless, if one takes the tough line and bears the hardships, including death, which will be sure martyrdom, then, such a course is also approved; although both the options are available. It is reported that Musaylimah al Kadhdhab captured two Muslims. He asked one of them if he believed Muhammad was a Prophet. He replied: "Yes, yes, yes." Then he asked if he believed he (Musaylimah) was a prophet too. He replied: "Yes." Now, Musaylimah was of the opinion that he was the prophet of Yamamah and Muhammad a prophet of the Quraysh. So he let him go unharmed. Then he asked the other man whether he believed Muhammad was a Prophet. He said yes. But when he asked him whether he believed he (Musaylimah) was a prophet too, he said no. Musaylimah killed him. When the Prophet was reported he said: "As for him who said yes, well, he used the permission granted by Allah. As for him who said no, if he was sincere in his faith, then glad tidings to him" (Razi, Alusi, Rawa'e`).
    The verse also implies, adds Alusi, that if one is not allowed to practice his religion openly and freely, hijrah becomes an obligation.
    At this point he has written several pages in refutation of the taqiyyah of the Shi`ah who have made it an article of faith. He quotes profusely from their books.
    Thanwi adds: You must know that the taqiyyah which is allowed by our scholars has nothing in common with the taqiyyah of the Shi`ah. They only share the term, for this taqiyyah is adopted (only temporarily and) in order to avoid a harm that is certain. Whereas the taqiyyah of the Shi`ah is a permanent feature of a person and is primarily employed to win material advantages. Secondly, it is allowed only where the circumstances are extremely compelling, but the Shi`ah approve of it even if the harm entailing is imaginary and minor.
    However, the most important difference is that the taqiyyah of the Shi`ah is a necessary article of faith, without which a person is not a true believer. Out of hundreds, here is a quote from Al-Kafi the most respected source of religion among the Shi`ah:

    عن ابْنُ أَبِي عُمَيْرٍ عَنْ هِشَامِ بْنِ سَالِمٍ عَنْ أَبِي عُمَرَ الْأَعْجَمِيِّ قَالَ قَالَ لِي أَبُو عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع يَا أَبَا عُمَرَ إِنَّ تِسْعَةَ أَعْشَارِ الدِّينِ فِي التَّقِيَّةِ وَ لَا دِينَ لِمَنْ لَا تَقِيَّةَ لَهُ (الكافي 217 2 باب التقية ..... ص : 217)

    Abu `Umar al-A`jami reported from Abu `Abdullah who said, “O Abu `Umar, nine-tenth of religion is in taqiyyah, and he has no religion who has no taqiyyah” (Au.).

    قُلْ إِنْ تُخْفُوا مَا فِي صُدُورِكُمْ أَوْ تُبْدُوهُ يَعْلَمْهُ اللَّهُ ۗ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ (29)

    3|29| Tell them, 'Whether you conceal what is in your hearts, or reveal it, Allah knows it (all the same). He knows what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. Allah has power over all things.’

    يَوْمَ تَجِدُ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَا عَمِلَتْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ مُحْضَرًا وَمَا عَمِلَتْ مِنْ سُوءٍ تَوَدُّ لَوْ أَنَّ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَهُ أَمَدًا بَعِيدًا ۗ وَيُحَذِّرُكُمُ اللَّهُ نَفْسَهُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ رَءُوفٌ بِالْعِبَادِ (30)

    3|30| (Fear then) That day when every soul shall find whatever it did of good and whatever it did of evil brought forward. It will wish if there could be a great distance between it and its (evil deeds).50 And Allah cautions you against Himself, (for if) Allah is Gentle (it is) with His (obedient) slaves.

    50. The word in the original for "great distance" is amad which is employed for a distance in time or space that is not infinite but whose end is unknown (being at such a great distance), whereas abad is for the infinite (Alusi).

    قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (31)

    3|31| Tell them, 'If you (truly) love Allah, follow me,51 Allah will love you52 and forgive you your sins. And Allah is very Forgiving, very Kind.’53

    51. Following the Prophetic ways then, is a sign of one's love of Allah. Says the Prophet:

    "مَنْ أَحْدَثَ فِي أَمْرِنَا هَذَا مَا لَيْسَ مِنْهُ فَهُوَ رَدّ".

    "Whoever brought something new in our religion, that which is not a part of it, stands rejected." (Ibn Kathir)
    52. It is an Islamic proverb that,
    ليس الشأن أن تحب، إنما الشأن أن تَحب
    "There is nothing remarkable in that you love, rather, in that you are loved" (Ibn Kathir).
    A hadith preserved by Muslim reports the Prophet as having said:

    "إِنّ اللّهَ، إِذَا أَحَبّ عَبْداً، دَعَا جِبْرِيلَ فَقَالَ: إِنّي أُحِبّ فُلاَناً فَأَحِبّهُ. قَالَ: فَيُحِبّهُ جِبْرِيلُ. ثُمّ يُنَادِي فِي السّمَاءِ فَيَقُولُ: إِنّ اللّه يُحِبّ فُلاَناً فَأَحِبّوهُ. فَيُحِبّهُ أَهْلُ السّمَاءِ. قَالَ: ثُمّ يُوضَعُ لَهُ الْقَبُولُ فِي الأَرْضِ. وَإِذَا أَبْغَضَ عَبْداً دَعَا جِبْرِيلَ فَيَقُولُ: إِنّي أُبْغِضُ فُلاَناً فَأَبْغِضْهُ. قَالَ: فَيُبْغِضُهُ جِبْرِيلُ. ثُمّ يُنَادِي فِي أَهْلِ السّمَاءِ: إِنّ اللّهَ يُبْغِضُ فُلاَناً فَأَبْغِضُوهُ. قَالَ: فَيُبْغِضُونَهُ. ثُمّ تُوضَعُ لَهُ الْبَغْضَاءُ فِي الأَرْضِ".

    "When Allah loves a person he beckons Jibril and tells him that He loves so and so and, therefore, Jibril should also love him. Accordingly, Jibril begins to love him and announces to those in the heavens that Allah loves so and so and hence they all ought to love him. They begin to love him and then acceptance for him is placed among the people of the earth. In contrast, when Allah hates a person he beckons Jibril and tells him that He hates so and so and that Jibril ought to also hate him. Jibril does that and announces to those in the heavens that Allah hates so and so and, therefore, they should also hate him. They begin to do so, and hatred is placed for him among the people of the earth" (Qurtubi).
    53. The connection with the preceding verses is as follows. In verse 26 27 Allah spoke of His Sovereignty and Power in words that evoke His love. In verse 28 He instructed His slaves not to befriend the unbelievers (who hate Him: Au.). Therefore, there remained only Allah to be loved. Hence, in the following verses He showed them the way by which they can realize their love for Him, viz., by following His Messenger (from Alusi with minor modification).

    قُلْ أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ ۖ فَإِنْ تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْكَافِرِينَ (32)

    3|32| Tell them (also), 'Obey Allah and the Messenger.’ But if they turn away, (then) Allah does not approve of the unbelievers.

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَىٰ آدَمَ وَنُوحًا وَآلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَآلَ عِمْرَانَ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ (33)

    3|33| Verily Allah chose Adam, Nuh, the House of Ibrahim and the House of `Imran54 over all beings:

    54. The Qur'an has spoken of two `Imrans. One, the father of Musa and Harun, (Amram of the Bible: Asad) and the other of Maryam. "The identity of names has led to a curious confusion and to a 'comedy of errors' on the part of many a Christian 'scholar.' Either of the `Imrans, or both of them may be meant in this place" (Majid).

    ذُرِّيَّةً بَعْضُهَا مِنْ بَعْضٍ ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ (34)

    3|34| Descendants of each other.55 And Allah is Hearer, Knower.

    55. What exactly is meant by the words, "(They were) Descendants of each other?" Qatada's opinion is that they shared love, friendship, faith, truth, purity of intentions and good deeds with each other (Ibn Jarir).
    In the words of Asad: "(This is) an allusion not merely to the physical descent of those prophets but also to the fact that all of them were spiritually linked with one another and believed in one and the same fundamental truth."

    إِذْ قَالَتِ امْرَأَتُ عِمْرَانَ رَبِّ إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لَكَ مَا فِي بَطْنِي مُحَرَّرًا فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنِّي ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ (35)

    3|35| (He heard) When the wife of `Imran56 prayed: 'My Lord! I have vowed to dedicate what is in my womb - freed (for Your services).57 Therefore, accept it from me. Indeed You are the Hearer, the Knower.’

    56. Reports say that her name was "Hannah." (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir) Majid adds: "Anne of English." Again, there were two Annes: the other being the sister of Musa and Harun. Majid also quotes the Encycl. Britannica: "Muslim historians have traced the genealogies of both. The Christians admit that in their own records and genealogies nothing of any historical value is recorded of the parentage of Mary."
    57. When one vows, he must fulfill it. Failure entails expiation which is the same as that of an oath (3 days of fasting, freeing of a slave or feeding of ten poor souls: Au.). However, if the vow involves a sin then one is not to fulfill it, instead, offer expiation. Ibn Ishaq in his Sirah and Abu Da'ud have related that once a woman escaped some people pursuing her on one of the Prophet's camels. She came to him and said: "I vowed to Allah that I shall slaughter her (i.e., the camel) if Allah lets me escape on her." The Prophet smiled and said: "If you slaughtered her, you would have repaid her badly seeing that Allah mounted you on her and delivered you by her." Then he added, "That vow is not valid which is in the disobedience of Allah, or one that concerns a property which is not yours" (Ibn Is-haq, p. 488).

    فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتْهَا قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنْثَىٰ وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ كَالْأُنْثَىٰ ۖ وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ (36)

    3|36| But when she gave birth to her she exclaimed: 'My Lord! I have given birth to a female,’58 - and Allah knew what she had given birth to. And surely, the male is not like the female59 – 'however, (she continued) I have named her Maryam60 and seek Your protection for her and her progeny from Shaytan the outcast.’61

    58. This is because normally a female was not accepted for religious services by the Jews (Qurtubi).
    59. Thanwi says, in the words of Majid: "No male child (such as Hannah desired) could be like this female child in worth."
    60. In their language the word Maryam meant "`Abidah" (a worshipper) Razi, Thanwi.
    61. The prayer was granted. Accordingly, a hadith preserved by Bukhari and Muslim says,

    "مَا مِنْ مَوْلُودٍ يُولَدُ إِلاّ نَخَسَهُ الشّيْطَانُ. فَيَسْتَهِلُ صَارِخاً مِنْ نَخْسَةِ الشّيْطَانِ. إِلاّ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَأُمّهُ"

    "There isn't a child that is not touched by Shaytan at its birth so that it starts crying, except for Maryam and her son." There are other reports of similar meaning. (Ibn Jarir, Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi)

    فَتَقَبَّلَهَا رَبُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ وَأَنْبَتَهَا نَبَاتًا حَسَنًا وَكَفَّلَهَا زَكَرِيَّا ۖ كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا الْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِنْدَهَا رِزْقًا ۖ قَالَ يَا مَرْيَمُ أَنَّىٰ لَكِ هَٰذَا ۖ قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ (37)

    3|37| So He accepted her with a goodly acceptance and made her grow to her full blossom, and made Zakariyyah her guardian.62 Whenever Zakariyyah entered upon her in the Sanctuary63 he found near her provision.64 He enquired: 'Maryam! Where do you get this from?’ She answered, 'It is from Allah. Verily Allah bestows upon whom He will without measure.’65

    62. Maryam's father had died in the meantime and therefore she was given to the care of Zakariyyah who was the chief priest apart from being her uncle (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Verse 44 of this surah tells us that this happened by the draw of lots in which all those desirous of sponsoring her were asked to throw their pens into the stream. That of Zakariyyah stayed afloat while those of others were swept away by the currents. Hence Allah's statement that He made Zackariyyah her guardian (`Ikrimah, Rabi`, Suddi: Ibn Jarir).
    63. The word in the original is "mihrab" which is applicable to the best part of the sitting area of a house. However, more generally, it is any place, corner, niche, room, or hall marked out for prayers, supplications and other acts of devotion (Ibn Jarir).
    64. According to Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id b. Jubayr, Abu Sha`sha', Ibrahim Nakha`i, Dahhak, Qatadah, Rabi` b. Anas, `Atiyya al `Awfi and Suddi, he found with her fruits of summer in winter and those of winter in summer (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    65. It was a miracle. And we have examples of such miracles recorded in hadith books. For example,

    عن جابر أن رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم اقام أياماً لم يطعم طعاماً، حتى شقّ عليه، فطاف في منازل أزواجه فلم يجد عند واحدة منهن شيئاً، فأتى فاطمة فقال: "يا بنية هل عندك شيء آكله فإني جائع؟ "قالت: لا واللّه - بأبي أنت وأمي - فلما خرج من عندها بعث إليها جارة لها برغيفين وقطعة لحم، فأخذته منها فوضعته في جفنة لها وقالت: واللّه لأوثرن بهذا رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم على نفسي ومن عندي، وكانوا جمعاً محتاجين إلى شبعة طعام، فبعثت حسناً - أو حسيناً - إلى رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم فرجع إليها، فقالت: بأبي أن وأمي قد أتى اللّه بشيء فخبأتيه لك، قال: "هلمي يا بنية"، قالت: فأتيته بالجفنة فكشفت عنها فإذا هي مملوءة خبزاً ولحماً، فلما نظرت إليها بهتُ وعرفت أنها بركة من اللّه، فحمدت اللّه وصليت على نبيّه، وقدمته إلى رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم فلما رآه حمد اللّه، وقال: "من أين لك هذا يا بنية" قالت: يا أبت {هو من عند اللّه إن اللّه يرزق من يشاء بغير حساب} فحمد اللّه، وقال: "الحمد للّه الذي جعلك يا بنية شبيهة بسيدة نساء بني إسرائيل فإنها كانت إذا رزقها اللّه شيئاً وسئلت عنه قالت هو من عند اللّه، إن اللّه يرزق من يشاء بغير حساب، فبعث رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم إلى علي ثم أكل رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم، وأكل علي وفاطمة وحسن وحسين، وجميع أزواج النبي صلى اللّه عليه وسلم، وأهل بيته حتى شبعوا جميعاً. قالت: وبقيت الجفنة كما هي. قالت: فأوسعت ببقيتها على جميع الجيران، وجعل اللّه فيها بركة وخيراً كثيراً (رواه الحافظ أبو يعلى عن جابر بن عبد اللّه)‏

    Hafiz Abu Ya`la reports through Jabir that once the Prophet was extremely hungry. He went to his various wives but they had nothing to offer. He went to his daughter Fatimah who also had nothing to present. A little later, she received two pieces of bread along with a piece of mutton from a neighbor. She decided to offer it to the Prophet although she needed it most for her own household as everyone was hungry. She put it in a tray, covered it with a piece of cloth, and sent Hassan or Hussayn to fetch back the Prophet. When he arrived she explained that she received it just after he had left. When she removed the cloth she was astonished to find it filled to its full with bread and mutton. He asked her: "Where did you get this from, my daughter?" She replied: "It is from Allah. Verily Allah bestows upon whom He will without measure." He said: "Allah be praised for having made you like the princess of the Israelites (Maryam), who, whenever asked where the food came from, replied, ‘It is from Allah. Verily Allah bestows upon whom He will without measure.’" Then he, `Ali, Fatimah, and everyone of the Prophet's household shared the food and it remained in the same quantity after they were finished. Fatimah divided the rest among her neighbors. (Ibn Kathir, Alusi, abridged slightly).

    هُنَالِكَ دَعَا زَكَرِيَّا رَبَّهُ ۖ قَالَ رَبِّ هَبْ لِي مِنْ لَدُنْكَ ذُرِّيَّةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ إِنَّكَ سَمِيعُ الدُّعَاءِ (38)

    3|38| Thereat Zakariyyah supplicated to His Lord: 'My Lord! Grant me by Your grace a progeny pure. Verily, You are (the) Hearer of the prayer.'66

    66. The verse proves that one should seek virtuous children (Thanwi). They are a source of strength in this world and will be of profit in the Hereafter as said our Prophet:

    (إذا مات أحدكم انقطع عمله إلا من ثلاث) فذكر (أو ولد صالح يدعو له).

    "When one of you dies, his deeds discontinue save in three (cases)" ... One of those that he counted was, "a righteous progeny that supplicates for him." Accordingly the Prophet is reported to have said:

    تزوجوا الولود الودود

    "Marry women who give birth to plenty of children" (Qurtubi).

    فَنَادَتْهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَهُوَ قَائِمٌ يُصَلِّي فِي الْمِحْرَابِ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يُبَشِّرُكَ بِيَحْيَىٰ مُصَدِّقًا بِكَلِمَةٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَسَيِّدًا وَحَصُورًا وَنَبِيًّا مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ (39)

    3|39| Thereupon the angels called out to him - as he stood in the Sanctuary Praying - that Allah gives you the glad tiding of Yahya67 confirming a Word from Allah,68 and, (who will himself be), noble,69 chaste,70 a Prophet (and) of the righteous.

    67. Yahya is 'John the Baptist' of the Bible.
    68. According to Ibn `Abbas, Hasan, Qatadah, `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Abu Sha`sha', Suddi, Rabi`, Dahhak and others, the allusion by the words: "a Word from Allah" is to Jesus Christ (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Jesus Christ has been referred to as "a Word" because he was created by the command of a single word: "kun" ("be") (Qurtubi, Alusi). "However," adds Shawkani, "the use of the word "kalimah" in the sense of a book, or a piece of writing is not uncommon in the Arabic language and hence it could also mean "the Book."
    Also see note 378 below.
    69. The word in the original is sayyid which has been interpreted variously: as chief, leader of the people in good qualities, patient and gentle. Bukhari has a hadith in which the Prophet said about Hasan b. `Ali:

    ابْنِي هَذَا سَيِّدٌ وَلَعَلَّ اللَّهَ أَنْ يُصْلِحَ بِهِ بَيْنَ فِئَتَيْنِ عَظِيمَتَيْنِ.

    "This son of mine is a Sayyid. Maybe Allah will make peace between two important Muslim groups through him." And that is how it proved to be. After the death of `Ali he was elected to the office of khilafah through the consent of forty thousand people including even those who had not sworn allegiance to his father. He remained the Khalifah for seven months and then led his army composed of the Iraqis and Hijazis to face Mu`awiyyah who marched forward with the army of the Syrians. When the two forces met at a place called Maskin, Hasan realized that the issue would not be settled without a large number of deaths on both sides. Therefore, he abdicated on the condition that he would succeed Mu`awiyyah after his death (Qurtubi).
    (But Hasan died a little after abdication, some say, poisoned: Au.).
    70. It is widely reported that according to Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Suddi and others what is meant by "hasur" of the original is one who does not go into women despite the ability and the urge. Qurtubi adds that if that is true then perhaps that was allowed in the Shari`ah of that time. Our Shari`ah recommends marriage. Some reports suggest that he did not even have the ability for sex (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi). But Qadi Ayad says in his book "Al Shifa" that what has been reported in this regard is totally unacceptable. It has been rejected by all serious commentators. Yahya was without a blemish or weakness of that sort; rather, what is meant is that he was as sinless as an innocent child (Ibn Kathir).
    Alusi also rejects the notion (Au.).

    قَالَ رَبِّ أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لِي غُلَامٌ وَقَدْ بَلَغَنِيَ الْكِبَرُ وَامْرَأَتِي عَاقِرٌ ۖ قَالَ كَذَٰلِكَ اللَّهُ يَفْعَلُ مَا يَشَاءُ (40)

    3|40| He exclaimed, 'My Lord! How shall I have a son seeing I am so advanced in age and my wife is barren!?’ 'Even so (came the reply).71 Allah accomplishes what He will.’

    71. That is, he did not doubt the likelihood of such a thing happening, despite the fact that both he and his wife were of advanced ages, and, moreover, she was barren; rather, he wanted to know how, or by what process pregnancy and birth would take place. He was told, "Even so," that is, without he remarrying, and without Allah restoring him his youth. (Ibn Jarir, Razi, Alusi, Thanwi).

    قَالَ رَبِّ اجْعَلْ لِي آيَةً ۖ قَالَ آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ إِلَّا رَمْزًا ۗ وَاذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ كَثِيرًا وَسَبِّحْ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالْإِبْكَارِ (41)

    3|41| He prayed, 'My Lord! Appoint to me a sign.’72 He said, 'Your sign is that you shall not (be able to) speak - save by tokens - to the people for three days.73 Therefore, remember your Lord much and proclaim His glory74 in the evening and in the morning.’75

    72. He needed a sign because, according to most commentators, it took about twenty years from the acceptance of the prayer to the appearance of the signs of pregnancy in his wife.
    73. That is, he could not speak for three days and did so only in signs and tokens (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    The verse proves that signs and tokens are equivalent of words in our Shari`ah. For instance, when the Prophet asked a black slave woman about where Allah was, she pointed her finger toward the heavens. (According to another version, he asked her who he was and she replied by pointing at him and then toward the heavens, meaning that he was a Messenger of Allah: Au.) The Prophet told her master to release her saying, "She is a Muslim" (Qurtubi).
    74. Accordingly, Ka`ab al Qurazi has said that if remembrance could be absolved in anyone's favor it would have been in favor of Zakariyyah for those three days (Qurtubi).
    75. `Ashiyy of the original is the time between afternoon to sunset and ibkar the time between dawn and early hours of the day (Qurtubi, Alusi, Shawkani).

    وَإِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَاكِ وَطَهَّرَكِ وَاصْطَفَاكِ عَلَىٰ نِسَاءِ الْعَالَمِينَ (42)

    3|42| And (recall) when the angels said,76 'Maryam, verily Allah has chosen you,77 purified you and chosen you over the women of the world.78

    76. This demonstrates the possibility of angels speaking to non prophets following the opinion of the great majority that Maryam was not a Prophetess. Muslim has a report of the angels greeting `Imran b. Hussein. As for the 'speech' reserved for the Prophets, they are messages for transmission (Thanwi).
    Qurtubi writes however that according to the majority, Maryam was a Prophetess.
    77. Allah chose her because of her high degree of devotion, indifference to the world, life of chastity, and purity of the soul from sins and of the mind from doubts (Ibn Kathir).
    78. Sa`id ibn al Musayyib used to quote a hadith of Abu Hurayrah in explanation of this verse in which Prophet said (Muslim):

    "نِسَاءُ قُرَيْشٍ خَيْرُ نِسَاءٍ رَكِبْنَ الإِبِلَ. أَحْنَاهُ عَلَىَ طِفْلٍ. وَأَرْعَاهُ عَلَىَ زَوْجٍ فِي ذَاتِ يَدِهِ".

    "The best of women that have mounted camels are those of the Quraysh. They are the most kind to their children, the best of housekeepers in the absence of their husbands.”
    Abu Hurayrah added that Maryam did not ever ride a camel (i.e., despite that she attained great merits: Au).
    `Ali Ibn Abi Talib has reported another hadith recorded both by Bukhari and Muslim in which the Prophet has been reported as saying:

    يَقُولُ خَيْرُ نِسَائِهَا مَرْيَمُ ابْنَةُ عِمْرَانَ وَخَيْرُ نِسَائِهَا خَدِيجَةُ

    "The best of its (i.e. of the Paradise: Ibn Jarir) women is Maryam and best of its women is Khadijah."
    Anas has reported another version in which the Prophet said:

    "حَسْبُكَ مِنْ نِسَاءِ الْعَالَمِينَ: مَرْيَمُ ابنة عِمْرَانَ، وَخَدِيجَةُ بِنْتُ خُوَيْلِدٍ، وَفَاطِمَةُ بِنْتُ مُحمّدٍ، وَآسِيَةُ امْرَأَةُ فِرْعَوْنَ".

    "Enough for you of the women of the world: Maryam the daughter of `Imran, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Asiyyah the wife of Fir`awn and Fatimah the daughter of Muhammad."
    (The above text is from Tirmidhi who declared it Sahih.
    In another version preserved by Tirmidhi the Prophet said:

    كَمَلَ مِنْ الرِّجَالِ كَثِيرٌ وَلَمْ يَكْمُلْ مِنْ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَرْيَمُ بِنْتُ عِمْرَانَ وَآسِيَةُ امْرَأَةُ فِرْعَوْنَ وَفَضْلُ عَائِشَةَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ كَفَضْلِ الثَّرِيدِ عَلَى سَائِرِ الطَّعَامِ

    "Of the men there have been many who achieved perfection, but of the women none achieved it but Maryam the daughter of `Imran and Asiyyah the wife of Fir`awn and `A'isha's superiority over other women is similar to that of tharid over other dishes" (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    (Made from bread, meat and broth, tharid was considered a delicious dish in those times. The ahadith do not appear exactly as above in the tafsir works, but we preferred to take directly from Hadith works: Au.).

    يَا مَرْيَمُ اقْنُتِي لِرَبِّكِ وَاسْجُدِي وَارْكَعِي مَعَ الرَّاكِعِينَ (43)

    3|43| Worship your Lord O Maryam (in complete devotion),79 prostrate yourself and bow with those who bow.’80

    79. The original word here is qunut which is the state of humility in worship. Mujahid however interprets it as lengthy Prayers (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Rashid Rida adds: "The Israeli Prayers were much different from ours. But the demand of quality was the same, that is, concentration, fear and sincerity."
    80. (Apart from the meaning we have stated under note 113 of surah al Baqarah: Au.), 'bowing with those who bow' could also mean: "seek the company of those who are devoted to Allah" (Qurtubi).
    Ibn al-Qayyim writes: "Prostrate yourself" and "Bow with those who bow down" have different connotations. The first refers to the Prayers performed at home, which is the place recommended for women while the latter refers to Praying with the congregation in the mosque. Thus she was asked to observe two different kinds of Prayers: one at home and the second with the congregation."

    ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ أَنْبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهِ إِلَيْكَ ۚ وَمَا كُنْتَ لَدَيْهِمْ إِذْ يُلْقُونَ أَقْلَامَهُمْ أَيُّهُمْ يَكْفُلُ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا كُنْتَ لَدَيْهِمْ إِذْ يَخْتَصِمُونَ (44)

    3|44| These are a part of the tidings of the past that We reveal unto you (O Muhammad),81 for you were not there with them when they were casting their quills (to decide) which of them shall have charge of Maryam,82 nor were you there with them when they were disputing.

    81. Majid has the following observation to make: "What is meant is, this is among those events of which the accurate records are now obliterated altogether, and there is no means of knowing it in full and exact details except through Revelation."
    82. It is said that since Maryam was the daughter of the deceased chief priest of the Temple, and appeared to be a promising child, a dispute arose among the priests over who will take charge of her. The affair had to be decided by lots. Every contender threw his quill in the river Jordan. The one that floated against the others that were swept away by the current was Zakariyyah's. (Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Dahhak, Hasan: Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Thanwi adds a legal point. "According to the Hanafiyyah, drawing lots is permissible in those affairs alone in which the Shari`ah has not given a ruling, (or allotted shares). Where the rights have been promulgated by the Shari`ah, deciding the shares by lots is not permissible. It is permissible, for instance, to decide by lots what portion of a house will an inheritor get (and not in what proportion, which will be decided by the laws of inheritance: Au.)."

    إِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُبَشِّرُكِ بِكَلِمَةٍ مِنْهُ اسْمُهُ الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ وَجِيهًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَمِنَ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ (45)

    3|45| When the angels said, 'O Maryam, verily Allah sends you the glad tiding of a Word83 from Him, whose name is Al-Masih,84 `Isa, son of Maryam,85 held in high honor86 in this world as well as in the next and of those brought nigh.

    83. Although everything that is created by Allah is by the command of a "word" (kalimah) alone, yet `Isa was specifically called a "Word" (kalimah) because, in his case, the normal process of creation was overruled and he was brought into being not by means of a father but at the behest of a word kun alone. (Ibn `Abbas, Shawkani, Manar). Ibn Jarir however prefers that the word kalimah should be understood to mean "bushra" i.e. glad tiding.
    84. Since Masih has its origin in mas h which means to touch, rub, wipe (if the word is Arabic and not Hebrew, which in fact is more likely: Alusi) one probability is that he was called so because (as is reported of Ibn `Abbas: Qurtubi, Razi), he could heal the ailing with his very touch (Ibn Kathir). Ibn Jarir however quotes various authorities to the effect that he was called Masih because it was by a touch from Allah that he was purified and blessed. Dajjal has been called Masih al Dajjal because he will have no sensation in one eye (which is another meaning of mas h) or because, while he would trounce the world touching upon all the lands except Makkah and Madinah into which he will be prevented from entering, as predicted in a hadith (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Shawkani). Another possibility is that its origin is mashih which is equivalent of "King" in Hebrew (Manar and others).
    Majid adds: "(Maseeh) is the Messiah of the Bible. Messiah, the surname of Jesus, is a title of honor, literally meaning 'the anointed.' Notice that the Qur'an fully concedes the Messiahship of Jesus: it is only his Divinity, his Son ship, his God head that it is so unsparing for assailing."
    Muhammad Asad comments: "The designation al masih is the Arabicized form of the Aramaic messiha which, in turn is derived from the Hebrew mashiah, "the anointed" a term frequently applied in the Bible to the Hebrew kings, whose accession to power used to be consecrated by a touch with holy oil taken from the Temple. This anointment appears to have been so important a rite among the Hebrews that the term "the anointed" became in the course of time more or less synonymous with "king". Its application to Jesus may have been due to the widespread conviction among his contemporaries (references to which are found in several places in the Synoptic Gospels) that he was descended in direct and obviously legitimate line from the royal House of David. (It is to be noted that this could not have related to his mother's side, because Mary belonged to the priestly class descending from Aaron, and thus to the tribe of Levi, while David descended from the tribe of Judah.) Whatever may have been the historical circumstances, it is evident that the honorific "the Anointed" was applied to Jesus in his own lifetime. In the Greek version of the Gospels which is undoubtedly based on a now lost Aramaic original this designation is correctly translated as Christos (a noun derived from the Greek verb chriein, "to anoint"): and ... it is in the form "the Christ" that the designation al masih has achieved currency in all Western languages."
    85. Imam Razi asks as to why Allah added the words "Ibn Maryam" when He was addressing Maryam herself and answers that it was to emphasize that he would be born out of her alone without a father.
    86. Says Majid: "(This is) chiefly in answer to the calumnies of the Jews who remembered him ... as 'one who practiced magic and deceived and led astray Israel,' with coarse allusions to His birth.' (ERE. VII. p. 551)"

    وَيُكَلِّمُ النَّاسَ فِي الْمَهْدِ وَكَهْلًا وَمِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ (46)

    3|46| He shall speak to the people from the cradle87 as well as in maturity88 and (shall be) of the righteous.’

    87. Abu Hurayrah has reported the Prophet as having said:

    لم يتكلم في المهد إلا ثلاثة: عيسى، وصبي كان في زمن جريج، وصبي آخر

    "In all, three infants spoke from their cradle. (i) `Isa, (ii) the child of the times of Jurayj, and (iii) the infant (of the woman thrown into the pit by the As hab al Ukhdud" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    There are other reports, however, that speak of other infants speaking from the cradle (Shawkani), such as the child who, according to some stories, spoke for Yusuf from the cradle (Au.).
    88. The word in the original is kahl which is the period of life between youth and old age (Ibn Jarir, Alusi).
    Why did Allah say "and in his maturity" when we know that everyone speaks in his maturity? It is as if to say that he will speak on the same subjects with authority from his cradle as he will in his maturity (Alusi). An added reason could be to give the tiding that he was going to attain his full age (Razi, Alusi, Manar).
    Another doubt has been raised. Why does the Christian literature not record this particular miracle? The answer is: first of all those who had gone to Maryam questioning her integrity were a few people and not a large crowd that would transmit it to others on a large scale. Secondly, the Jews were opposed to `Isa and hence kept the matter to themselves (Razi).
    Further, the Gospels are not a complete and fully trustworthy account of Prophet’s Jesus’ life, and, therefore, one may not look into it for any missing detail (Au.).

    قَالَتْ رَبِّ أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لِي وَلَدٌ وَلَمْ يَمْسَسْنِي بَشَرٌ ۖ قَالَ كَذَٰلِكِ اللَّهُ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِذَا قَضَىٰ أَمْرًا فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ (47)

    3|47| She exclaimed, 'How shall I have a child my Lord, seeing no mortal has touched me?’ He said, 'Even so, Allah accomplishes what He will. When He decrees a thing (to be) He (merely) says to it “Be,” and (Lo!) it is.’

    وَيُعَلِّمُهُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَالتَّوْرَاةَ وَالْإِنْجِيلَ (48)

    3|48| And he will teach him the Book, the Wisdom, the Tawrah and the Injil.

    وَرَسُولًا إِلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنِّي قَدْ جِئْتُكُمْ بِآيَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ ۖ أَنِّي أَخْلُقُ لَكُمْ مِنَ الطِّينِ كَهَيْئَةِ الطَّيْرِ فَأَنْفُخُ فِيهِ فَيَكُونُ طَيْرًا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۖ وَأُبْرِئُ الْأَكْمَهَ وَالْأَبْرَصَ وَأُحْيِي الْمَوْتَىٰ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۖ وَأُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا تَأْكُلُونَ وَمَا تَدَّخِرُونَ فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ (49)

    3|49| A messenger unto the Children of Israel,89 (proclaiming) 'I have indeed come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I mold for you out of clay the like of a bird and breathe into it and it becomes a bird,90 by the leave of Allah. And I heal the blind and the leper and bring to life the dead by the leave of Allah. I also disclose to you what you eat and what you store in your houses. Surely, in that is a sign for you if you are believers.

    89. So his was not a universal message. Says Majid: "Witness his own words in the NT, plain and conclusive (to his disciple: Au.): (Addressing his disciples he said), 'Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel' (Matthew 10: 5,6). 'I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel' (15: 24). And modern Christian scholars have to acknowledge the reluctance of Jesus and his earliest disciples to treat his message as universal in ways as round about as their conscience would permit: 'The earliest group of disciples, it is true, did not appreciate the universality of the teaching of Jesus’ (EBr. V. p. 632)' ... 'nor did He seek converts outside Israel' (p. 631)."
    Majid has summed up the opinions of Muslim commentators, old and new, on this point: It is true that `Isa was not a universal messenger; but, what about the Gentiles such as Romans, Palestinians, Aramaens and many other communities that lived in Jerusalem at that time? Did his prophetic mission require that he was to reject any non-Israelite ready to acknowledge Allah as his sole Lord and him as His Messenger? The Gospels answer in an emphatic yes. But, has the Qur'an stated that? The answer is, no. It is merely stating the fact of he being sent a messenger to the Israelites to start his mission with. (After all, Musa was sent to the Israelites; but did that imply that none of the folks of Fir`awn believed in him? – Au.).
    This point does not seem to have been entirely lost by the commentators. Shawkani for instance explains that the verse could be saying: "A Messenger, sent to the children of Israel, will speak to them saying: 'I have indeed come to you with a sign from your Lord ...' There is a sea of difference between the Qur'anic statement and the one in the Gospels which says: "I am not sent but unto the house of Israel."
    Shabbir `Usmani adds the following note at this point: "That is, after having been appointed a Messenger he will give this message to the Children of Israel (I have indeed come to you with a sign ...)." That is, the emphasis is on being made a Messenger and not on who he was specifically sent to (Au.).
    90. Majid quotes Christian sources: 'Jesus having come to the sepulcher where everyone was weeping said: "Weep not, for Lazarus sleepeth, and I am come to awake him," ... Said Master, "Lord, he striketh, for he hath been dead four days," ... Then Jesus lifted up his hands to heaven, and said: "Lord God of Abraham, God of Ishmael and Isaac, God of our father, have mercy upon the affliction of these women, and give glory to thy holy name." And when everyone had answered "Amen,": Jesus said with a loud voice: "Lazarus! Come forth." Thereupon he that was dead arose.' (GB. pp. 431, 437
    Rashid Rida writes: "A summary of what the Sufiya have to say about the dead coming back to life is as follows. `Isa's spiritual powers, when compared to those of other ordinary mortals, greatly overwhelmed his physical powers, because his spirit had been directly blown into his mother's womb by the angel. Hence he could interact at a deeper level with other spirits than others could. Accordingly, when he took a handful of clay that was destined to become a bird by the normal process, and beckoned its spirit (that was already created and was awaiting order to join the body not yet created), to come and join the clay and become a living bird, it did. Similarly when he beckoned a spirit that had left a human body, and which had not yet decayed, it answered his call and that person stood up alive. However, the spiritual power of a man can never be strong enough to be able to bring back to life those who had died long ago and whose physical being had decayed and become dust. Hence we see that he brought back to life only those who had died a short while ago."

    وَمُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَلِأُحِلَّ لَكُمْ بَعْضَ الَّذِي حُرِّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَجِئْتُكُمْ بِآيَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ (50)

    3|50| (I have come) confirming what has been before me of the Tawrah91 so that I may make lawful for you some of those things that were made unlawful to you (earlier)92 and thus, I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. So fear Allah and follow me.

    91. "The fact that Jesus preached the same religion as that expounded earlier by Moses and the other Prophets is also borne out by the statements of the existing Gospels. According to Matthew, in his Sermon on the Mount the Messiah categorically declared: 'Think not that I have come to abolish them' (Matthew 5: 17). And when a Jewish lawyer enquired: 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' Jesus replied: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, This is the greatest and the first commandment. And a second like it, is that you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depends the law of the prophets' (ibid, 22: 37 40). He also instructed his disciples: 'The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do, for they preach, but do not practice'" (ibid, 23: 2 3) Mawdudi.
    Sayyid Qutb comments: "This verse throws light on the nature of the din (commonly translated as "religion": Au.) whichever din it might be (whether that brought by Musa, `Isa or Muhammad, peace be upon them: Au.) that it has to be a comprehensive system of life, and that it should not be one-sided: in either moral, spiritual or devotional spheres. If it is, then such a system cannot be called a din proper. Din is nothing but the way of life that has been designed by Allah for mankind: the way of life that binds and harmonizes the lives of the people with the ways of Allah. Hence it is not possible that the faith and beliefs, for instance, be delinked from the system of worship, moral principles, or the organization of the legislature. That cannot be done by a religion that endeavors to organize life on the pattern designed by Allah.
    "Now, this is what happened to Christianity because of various historical reasons, apart from the fact that it was never designed to last, rather a stop gap arrangement until the "final din" made its appearance. What happened is that because of antagonism, a breach occurred between Christ and his followers on one side, and the Jews on the other. This in turn led to a breach between the Tawrah, which contained the Law, and Injil, which contained moral teachings and admonitions addressing the soul. With this breach, Christianity became a sect without law: incapable of guiding the people in the affairs of this world. Thus, it lost the qualification to guide the "whole of the human life" forcing its followers to create a breach between the life of the soul and the life of the human society (the rules for which had to be of necessity borrowed from other systems: Au.). Thus, it is a religion that remains suspended in the air, or, at best, limps (on the ground: Au.).
    "Now, this was not a minor event for humankind. Rather, a great disaster that led to confusion and bewilderment that lasts to this day both in the Christian world as well in the lives of those who came under its influence."
    92. Rabi`, Ja`far ibn Zubayr and Hasan are reported to have said that the Shari`ah of `Isa was comparatively more lenient than that of Musa, peace be on both (Ibn Jarir).
    Rejection of a part is not always rejection of the whole. Hence, there is no contradiction between this statement and the one preceding one which said that he had appeared "confirming what has been before me of the Tawrah" (Manar). The reference could also be to declaring lawful those things that were made unlawful by the Jewish priests and interpolated into the Tawrah (Qurtubi, Razi, Ibn Kathir).

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ رَبِّي وَرَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُوهُ ۗ هَٰذَا صِرَاطٌ مُسْتَقِيمٌ (51)

    3|51| Surely, Allah is my Lord and your Lord. Therefore, worship Him (alone). This is a straight path.’

    فَلَمَّا أَحَسَّ عِيسَىٰ مِنْهُمُ الْكُفْرَ قَالَ مَنْ أَنْصَارِي إِلَى اللَّهِ ۖ قَالَ الْحَوَارِيُّونَ نَحْنُ أَنْصَارُ اللَّهِ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَاشْهَدْ بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ (52)

    3|52| And when `Isa perceived unbelief on their part, he said, 'Who will be my helpers unto Allah?’93 The disciples94 said, 'We are the helpers of Allah; we have believed in Allah; and bear thou witness that we have surrendered.’95

    93. He sought their help and protection in the propagation of his message in the same manner as our Prophet sought the help of the tribes during his last years at Makkah and migrated when they declined (Ibn Kathir).
    94. There have been several interpretations of the word hawari who seem to have been by profession butchers, fishermen, painters and of other humbler callings. Ibn `Abbas is of the opinion that it means "whiteness." They were so called because they wore white dresses (Qurtubi, Shawkani and others).
    Alternatively, it could mean "helpers." This is strengthened by the hadith in which the Prophet drew Zubayr ibn al `Awwam to himself and said:

    وَسَلَّمَ إِنَّ لِكُلِّ نَبِيٍّ حَوَارِيًّا وَإِنَّ حَوَارِيَّ الزُّبَيْرُ بْنُ الْعَوَّامِ

    "Every Messenger has a hawari. My hawari is Zubayr b. `Awwam (Ibn Kathir).
    Whatever the word meant, it is obvious that they were his disciples (Au.).
    95. Majid quotes a Christian scholar: 'The faith of the Musalman is concentrated in a single word Islam: devotion, resignation of our own will to the supreme decree. That word was not limited to Muhammad's own followers: it was used ungrudgingly of his Judaic Christian predecessors. There is no fitter word for the religion of the human race' (Dr. J.H. Bridges).

    رَبَّنَا آمَنَّا بِمَا أَنْزَلْتَ وَاتَّبَعْنَا الرَّسُولَ فَاكْتُبْنَا مَعَ الشَّاهِدِينَ (53)

    3|53| (They supplicated) 'Our Lord! We believe in what You have sent down and follow the Messenger.96 Write us down, therefore, among those who bear witness.’97

    96. Thus we see that actions followed declaration of faith. This is because faith demands actions according to its dictates, if such faith is based on knowledge. In contrast, if knowledge has no influence on faith, it signifies either its incompleteness or uncertainty, and not a certainty that leads to faith in it. Often it happens that a man is led to believe that he knows a thing. But when he attempts to act according to his knowledge he fails to do a good job of it, indicating that he was incorrect in his claim to knowledge (Manar quoting Sheikh `Abduh).
    97. According to a reliable report, the opinion of Ibn `Abbas is that the allusion is to this Ummah (al Muslimah: Au.) by the words: "among those who bear witness" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Referring to the phrase: "Write us down, therefore, among those who bear witness," Sayyid Qutb says: "It is a demand upon him who believes in this religion that he bear the testimony the testimony that will guarantee that this religion will last and thus help establish the good and virtue that this religion carries with it. Obviously, he does not and cannot bear this testimony without first being himself what this religion demands and without presenting an image of it through his own person an image that the people observe and in which they discover the ideal example. Thus his very person bears the testimony to the truth of this religion.
    "Obviously too, he cannot bear this sort of testimony without accepting this religion as the basis upon which to build his own life, as well as that of the world around him working out the law in its light. Such efforts would include a nation organizing its life and society in its light. And, of course, it will include struggling in its cause and offering his life, if necessary, for the sake of living his life under its banner rather than under the shades of those life systems that are opposed to it. Thus he bears witness that death in its cause is better than life under other systems that do not agree with nor follow this system of life. It is then that he earns the appellation, a martyr."

    وَمَكَرُوا وَمَكَرَ اللَّهُ ۖ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ (54)

    3|54| (But) They (the Israelites) plotted98 (a scheme against `Isa). And Allah (also) plotted. And Allah is the best of plotters.99

    98. This refers to the efforts of the Jews contemporary to `Isa ibn Maryam to hatch a plan against him and get him executed. They petitioned to the Roman Governor of Palestine (who alone could pass a death sentence: Au.) that a man born out of sin had appeared among them, claiming himself to be the "awaited Messiah." He divides peaceful homes, is misleading the people, and will all but form a new seditious sect. He deserves to be put to death. They persisted in their efforts until the Governor decided to take action. It is another thing that when they went to arrest him, he was protected by Allah and raised to the heaven alive. They captured another person in his stead who looked similar to him and crucified him (Ibn Kathir).
    99. Makr: The expression used for the unbelievers as well for Allah is the same but the meanings are different. Makr on the part of man is secretive plotting or scheming with mischievous intents. Allah responds with His own plots to frustrate the plotting of His subjects. But His slaves remain completely in the dark about what He plans and how He intends to accomplish it. (Thus, the sharing of the meaning of secretiveness allows for use of the same term: Au.) However, Allah's plotting and scheming is entirely within the norms of justice. Finally, His plotting is based on wisdom and hence entirely beneficial to man as well as to an unknown number of His creations. Therefore, He is the best of plotters.
    Also see note 37, surah al Baqarah.

    إِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَىٰ إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ وَرَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ وَمُطَهِّرُكَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوكَ فَوْقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ ۖ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأَحْكُمُ بَيْنَكُمْ فِيمَا كُنْتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ (55)

    3|55| When Allah said: 'O `Isa I shall keep the promise made to you100 and raise you to Me101 and will clear you (of the falsehood) of those who blaspheme102 and will set those who follow you103 above those who have rejected - till the Resurrection Day. Then unto Me is your return and I shall judge between you in (all) those (affairs) in which you were at variance.

    100. This then was the "scheme" that Allah alluded to in the last verse.
    As to the word muta waffi ka, the meaning according to Matar al Warraq, Ibn Jurayj, Ka`b al Ahbar, Ibn Zubayr and Ibn Zayd is, "I will bring you back from the earth alive." Ibn `Abbas believes, however, that it refers to his natural death. (By which he meant that Allah will raise him up, send him to the world a second time, and then cause him to die a natural death, as states a report in Durr al Mansur: Mufti Shafi`). A third opinion is that by waffa the allusion is to "sleep," a usage not uncommon in the Qur'an. For example (6: 60):
    وَهُوَ الَّذِي يَتَوَفَّاكُمْ بِاللَّيْلِ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا جَرَحْتُمْ بِالنَّهَارِ [الأنعام : 60]
    "It is He who gives you sleep (yata waffakum) in the night and knows what you do in the day."
    The word has thus been used perhaps because Jesus is thought to have been lifted up in the state of sleep (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf, Ibn Kathir).
    Majid states: "The original sense of "tawfiyah" is 'to perform a promise,' 'to fulfill a covenant,' and 'to give in full measure.' So the meaning may also be, 'I will fulfill thy span of life,' or 'I will achieve the whole of thy term.'"
    Another possible meaning is, "I will cause you to die," and that there has been at this point what is called as taqdim and ta'khir in the sentence. That is, what has been stated in the earlier part has to be assigned to the later part, so that the translation of the whole verse should be as follows: "When (they plotted), Allah said: 'O `Isa I will raise you to Me, will clear you (of the blasphemy) and cause you to die (after you have been sent down again)." This kind of usage is quite common in Arabic language and we have a good example of it from the Qur'an itself which says (20: 129):

    وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِنْ رَبِّكَ لَكَانَ لِزَامًا وَأَجَلٌ مُسَمًّى [طه : 129]

    "But for a word that preceded from your Lord, it (i.e., of punishment) would have been fastened (upon them) and it would have been a stated term."
    However, that is the literal translation. In fact, there has been a taqdim and ta'khir in the sentence so that it should be translated as: "And but for a word that preceded from your Lord, and (but for a) stated term, it (i.e. the punishment) would have been fastened (upon them)" Razi, Qurtubi and others.
    "Again," adds Mufti Shafi`, "we all know that Allah raises a person's soul to Himself at his death. Hence, if it was meant to say that 'We will cause you to die (now),' then there was no need to add 'I am going to raise you up to Me.' The use of the word rafi`u ka indicates that he was raised up body and soul."
    The opinion therefore, that prevailed among the Companions was that it refers to the death that Ibn Maryam will encounter at the end of his second mission on earth. This is based on several ahadith one of which, (that enjoys the tawatur status: Thanwi) says:

    "إنَّ عِيسَى لمَْ يَمُتْ، وَإنَّه رَاجِع إلَيْكُمْ قَبْلَ يَوْمِ الْقَيامَةِ"

    "`Isa did not die. He is going to come back to you before the end of the world." (Ibn Hajr has pointed out that there is consensus of the Ummah over the issue: Mufti Shafi`).
    The above hadith is in Ibn abi Hatim.
    Another tradition has been transmitted by Abu Hurayrah who reports the Prophet as having said:

    الأنبياء أخوة لعلات وأمهاتهم شتى وأنا أولى الناس بعيسى ابن مريم وإنه نازل فاعرفه فإنه رجل ينزع الى الحمرة والبياض كأن رأسه يقطر وإن لم يصبه بلة وإنه يدق الصليب ويقتل الخنزير ويفيض المال ويضع الجزية وإن الله يهلك في زمانه الملل كلها غير الإسلام ويهلك الله المسيح الضال الأعور الكذاب ويلقي الله الأمنة حتى يرعى الأسد مع الإبل والنمر مع البقر والذئاب مع الغنم ويلعب الصبيان مع الحيات لا يضر بعضهم بعضا ) - صحيح ابن حبان بتحقيق الأرناؤوط - مطابق للمطبوع - (15 / 225) - قال شعيب الأرنؤوط : إسناده صحيح على شرط مسلم

    "Prophets are brothers, sons of different mothers, but of a common father (i.e. descendants of a single male: Au.). They brought down one and the same religion. I'm closest to `Isa ibn Maryam. And he is going to descend again. When you see him, you will recognize him. He will be a man of medium height of hue fair and red. He will be long of hair parted at the center which, as if letting down droplets even though not wet. He will break the cross, destroy the pig, distribute wealth and fight the people over Islam until no other religion will remain on the earth. It is during his tenure that the misguiding Masih al Dajjal, the great liar, will be destroyed and peace will prevail on the earth so that lions will go about with camels, panthers with cows, wolves with sheep and children will play with snakes. They will not harm each other. He will tarry on the earth for forty years and will then die. The Muslims will pray over him and bury him" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir and others).
    101. Majid quotes De Bunsen from Islam, or True Christianity, p. 143, f.n.: "A similar conception was promulgated by the earliest gnostics, Corinthus, Basilides, Carpociates, and others."
    102. This cleansing was accomplished by our Prophet Muhammad who cleared the baseless allegation of impropriety on the part of Maryam alleged by the Jews (Ma`arif).
    103. Qatadah, Rabi`, Ibn Jurayj and Hasan believe that the allusion is to those who will follow Islam. Accordingly, adds Shawkani, we have the hadith which says:

    "لاَ تَزَالُ طَائِفَةٌ مِنْ أُمّتِي ظَاهِرِينَ عَلَى الْحَقّ. لاَ يَضُرّهُمْ مَنْ خَذَلَهُمْ. حَتّىَ يَأْتِيَ أَمْرُ اللّهِ وَهُمْ كَذَلِكَ"

    "A group of my followers will remain having the upper hand over the truth ("battling with the unbelievers," says another version: Au.). Those opposed to them will do them no harm. Thus will be the situation until the Day of Judgment."
    Ibn Zayd however believed that it is the Christians that are meant who shall have an upper hand over the Jews until the Day of Judgment (Ibn Jarir).
    Thanwi states: "As for the establishment of the state of Israel near the end of the world as foretold in the traditions of the Prophet, (at the time of Thanwi's writing the state of Israel was not yet established: Au.), well, firstly it will be a short lived one: maybe forty days. Such states have been established earlier also during the `Abbasid period as recorded by the historian Al Mas`udi. Further, it will not enjoy a peaceful existence. An anarchic existence obviously, is no existence proper."
    "Moreover," asks Mufti Shafi`, "is the present state of Israel anything more than an American and European colony and a springboard?!"
    Ibn Kathir comments: What happened after `Isa b. Maryam was lifted up to the heavens is that his followers broke into groups and sects. Some remained steadfast believing that he was a Prophet and a slave of Allah, but others declared him a son of God. Yet another sect declared that he was God himself, while others began to say that he was the third of the three. Such was the situation until a Roman king called Constantine entered into Christianity some three hundred and odd years after Christ. He incorporated many new creeds into the Christian faith while declaring some (older ones) annulled. It was during his time that they declared pork lawful, began to pray facing the East, and built Churches. They persecuted the Jews. That was the situation until Allah raised his last Messenger whose followers, by virtue of belief in Christ as a Messenger of Allah, proved themselves nearest to him. Allah gave them victory over their adversaries and they wrested control of the Syrian territories from them. Later they shall also capture Constantinople. Thus, Allah's word came true that the Muslims will have an upper hand over them until the Day of Judgment.

    فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَأُعَذِّبُهُمْ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَمَا لَهُمْ مِنْ نَاصِرِينَ (56)

    3|56| Then, as for those who disbelieved, I shall chastise them severely both is this world as well as the next; they shall have no helpers.104

    104. This applies generally to all kinds of unbelievers including the Jews who have been punished with ignominy and wretchedness and subservience to the people until the Day of Judgment. This does not mean that the Muslims are not punished. They are. But it is not a result of the curse or out of anger, rather, out of mercy and as a means of expiation of their sins (Thanwi).

    وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَيُوَفِّيهِمْ أُجُورَهُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الظَّالِمِينَ (57)

    3|57| As for those who believed and acted righteously, He will give them their reward in full. And Allah does not approve of the transgressors.’

    ذَٰلِكَ نَتْلُوهُ عَلَيْكَ مِنَ الْآيَاتِ وَالذِّكْرِ الْحَكِيمِ (58)

    3|58| These are some of the signs and messages of wisdom that We recite unto you.

    إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَىٰ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ ۖ خَلَقَهُ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ (59)

    3|59| The likeness of `Isa in Allah’s sight is similar to that of Adam whom He made out of dust and then said unto him: 'Be,’ and He was.105

    105. "The birth of Jesus was surely an extraordinary event by any measure. But what is so strange about it when compared to the creation of Adam, peace on him? (The strange things is that) the people of the Book were arguing and disputing (with the Prophet) over Jesus because of his miraculous birth and had built beliefs and fetishes around his person for the sole reason that he was born without a father. But these were the very people who also believed that Adam was created out of dust, without attributing divinity or godhead to him" (Sayyid Qutb).
    Majid notes: "The divinity of Jesus has been denied by some ancient Christian sects themselves. 'Arius taught that the Son of God was a created being. There was a time when He did not exist.' (Encycl. Brit. II, p. 598) Paul of Samosata also held that "Jesus Christ," begotten of the Holy Ghost and born of the virgin, was a mere man. But “the man" was anointed by the Holy Ghost and for the same reason was called Christ ... Though the Logo was in Christ, it did not invest him with divinity’ (XI p. 171).

    الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّكَ فَلَا تَكُنْ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ (60)

    3|60| The truth is from your Lord, therefore be not of the doubters.

    فَمَنْ حَاجَّكَ فِيهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْا نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءَنَا وَأَبْنَاءَكُمْ وَنِسَاءَنَا وَنِسَاءَكُمْ وَأَنْفُسَنَا وَأَنْفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَلْ لَعْنَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِينَ (61)

    3|61| Therefore, whoso disputes with you over him, after the truth has come to you, tell (them): 'Come. Let us gather together our sons and your sons, our women and your women and our selves and your selves and mutually invoke Allah’s curse on the liers.’106

    106. Accordingly, the Prophet invited members of the Najran delegation, that was then camped in Madinah and disputing with him over Jesus' divinity, to participate in the mutual invocation of Allah's curse (mubahala). They agreed. But when he came out with `Ali, Fatimah, Hasan and Husayn, they backed out, having been warned by their elders of the seriousness of the consequences, if Muhammad were to be a true Prophet. One account has it that it was a Jew who advised them not to face the challenge (Ibn Jarir).
    Razi, Qurtubi, Alusi, Shawkani and others are with Ibn Kathir, who, quoting Ibn Ishaq and Bayhaqi, gives a detailed account of the Christian delegation of Najran that visited Madinah in the early years after Hijrah. (According to the report of Bayhaqi, the Prophet had written them a letter asking them to either submit to Allah or pay tribute; failing both, they would face the sword). Herewith is a shortened account: "They were sixty riders led by three men, one of whom was a Bishop. They entered at `Asr time and wore such expensive clothes as the Madinans had never seen before, nor did they later. (According to Bayhaqi's version they wore golden jewelry and the Prophet did not answer to their salutation. They sought the help of his Companions and were told by `Ali that their golden jewelry could be the cause. They stripped themselves of them and went to see him. He received them saying: "By Allah. Earlier they had the Devil accompanying them.") They were allowed to offer their prayers in the Prophet's mosque itself and they did that facing the East. Then they entered into discussions with the Prophet who offered them plain guidance against their complex beliefs. He told them to desist from their assertion that Jesus was the son of God and a third person of the Trinity. But they side tracked him into arguments that had no basis in reason or revelation. Finally, he told them: "Submit yourselves." They said, "We have submitted." He insisted, "You have not submitted, so submit." They replied, "Indeed we submitted before you did." He told them, "You lie. Your assertion that God has a son, your worship of the Cross and your eating of the pork hold you back from submission." They were taken aback and asked him in vexation. "Then who was his father, Muhammad." Thereat Allah sent down a detailed account of Jesus as contained in the first eighty verses of this surah. When that failed to convince them they were asked to bring their men and face the Prophet in mutual invocation of Allah's curse on the liar. They did not respond. Rather, they agreed to pay the tribute. (According to a report, when the Bishop who was with them saw the Prophet, Hasan, Husayn, followed by Fatimah with `Ali at the rear, coming out to meet them in the mubahala, he said: "By God. I see faces that, were they to ask Allah to move a mountain, He would move it. Do not go out to meet him in this challenge": Zamakhshari, Alusi).
    [Ibn `Abbas said, as in Bukhari: 'Had Abu Jahl thrown the camel's intestines over the Prophet (as he had intended) he would have been arrested by the angels before everyone's eyes. Had the Jews wished to die they would have died and seen their place in the Fire. And had (the Christians) faced the Prophet in the mubahala they would have gone back home to discover their families and property destroyed'].
    "When they had agreed to pay the tribute they asked the Prophet to send one of his trusted men to settle some of their disputes in Najran. He told them he would do so the next day. (According to another version reported by `Umar ibn al Khattab, the next day `Umar straightened his back and stretched his neck upward in order to be visible to the Prophet. The Prophet however ordered Abu `Ubaydah to rise up saying: 'This is the amin (trustworthy) of this Ummah.'"
    Shawkani adds: "Hakim has reported the following, declaring it authentic, as has Bayhaqi, both of whom quote Ibn `Abbas. The Prophet said: 'This is ikhlas (testimony of Allah's oneness), and pointed to his index finger; this is supplication, and raised his two hands (with palms stretched) up to the shoulders; and this is ibtihal, and stretched forward full his two hands (in front of him in a straight line: Au.).'"
    Majid quotes Muir at this point: "We cannot but see throughout the earnestness of Muhammad's belief, and his conviction that a spiritual illumination had been vouchsafed to him, bringing with it knowledge and certainty where to the Christians, as he conceived, all was speculation and conjecture (p. 460)."
    At this juncture most commentators have also refuted notions of the Shi`ah who use this verse to prove that `Ali was superior to all prophets except Muhammad. The argument is constructed by them in the following manner: The Qur'an said, 'Come. Let us gather together our sons and your sons, our women and your women and our selves and your selves and then (earnestly) pray and lay the curse of Allah on those who lie.' In reply, the Prophet came out with Hasan, Husayn, Fatimah and `Ali. Now, `Ali did not come under 'our sons' nor under 'our women.' Therefore, he came under the category of 'our selves.' This means he was at least equal to the Prophet in status. Now, since the Prophet was superior to all other Prophets and Messengers, it goes to prove that `Ali was also superior to all Prophets and Messengers. Further, the verse also proves, say the Shi`ah, that he was a Messenger himself and hence deserved the khilafah immediately after the death of our Prophet.
    However, since the argument is quite ingenious, and amusing too, we leave out the refutation (Au.).
    Thanwi, nevertheless, adds that the Shi`ah forget that the Qur'an used "faqtulu anfusakum" (2: 54) and meant "faqtulu qawmakum."

    إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَهُوَ الْقَصَصُ الْحَقُّ ۚ وَمَا مِنْ إِلَٰهٍ إِلَّا اللَّهُ ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ (62)

    3|62| This indeed is the true account; and there is no god save Allah. And surely, it is Allah who is the Mighty, the Wise.

    فَإِنْ تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ بِالْمُفْسِدِينَ (63)

    3|63| But if they decline then surely Allah is aware of the corrupt.107

    107. Sayyid Qutub writes: "This world cannot run right without there being a single God managing its affairs. The Qur'an says:

    لَوْ كَانَ فِيهِمَا آلِهَةٌ إِلَّا اللَّهُ لَفَسَدَتَا [الأنبياء : 22]

    'Had there been many gods (in the heavens and the earth) surely the two would have met with destruction.' The most blatant attempt by man is his efforts to split godhead by way of accepting the worship of man by man, the making of laws of life for them, and the setting up of values for them. Whoever claimed anything of these things, claimed divinity for himself, and set himself up as a god besides Allah.
    "Further, corruption never occurs on the earth on a greater scale than when there are more than one god on it claiming godhead on this pattern: when a man from the mankind claims for himself the right of obedience, the right to dictate laws to others, and the right to set up values for them. This is the claim to godhead and divinity that does not require the words (of Fir`awn): 'I am your supreme Lord' to be spoken."

    قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَىٰ كَلِمَةٍ سَوَاءٍ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلَّا نَعْبُدَ إِلَّا اللَّهَ وَلَا نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضًا أَرْبَابًا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ ۚ فَإِنْ تَوَلَّوْا فَقُولُوا اشْهَدُوا بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ (64)

    3|64| Tell them, 'O people of the Book! Come to an equitable term between us and you:108 that we worship none but Allah and associate not aught with Him,109 and some of us do not declare others as Lords besides Allah.’110 But if they turn their backs, say, 'Bear witness that we are Muslims.’

    108. This verse was revealed when the Jews and Christians were presented with the arguments about the Oneness of Allah and the truth of Islam, but they refused to submit or acknowledge. It summed up and closed the doors for further arguments with them. (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Imam Razi and others).
    According to Qatadah and Rabi`, what is meant by "sawa'un" of the original is (that we come to an agreement that will assure) "justice" (to both of us) Ibn Jarir, Razi, Ibn Kathir.
    To Abu al `Aliyyah however, it refers to the central principle, "There is no god but Allah," in which case (adds Ibn Kathir) the word "kalimah" will be understood to mean "a sentence" (Ibn Jarir). Zamakhshari and Shawkani are very near to it when they say that the words following it, i.e., "We worship none but Allah and associate not aught with Him, and do not declare some of us others as Lords, apart from Allah," explain what is meant by the term kalimah.
    109. (The New Testament is witness: Au.) "Thou shall worship the Lord thy God, and Him only thou shall serve" (Matthew: 4: 10) – Majid.
    110. Asad remarks: ".. the above call is addressed not merely to the Christians, who attribute divinity to Jesus and certain aspects of divinity to their saints, but also to the Jews, who assign a quasi divine authority to Ezra and even to some of their great Talmudic scholars."
    Regarding the last part of the verse: "And some of us do not take others as Lords besides Allah," Ibn Jurayj's opinion was that it means, "let not some of us obey others in disobedience of Allah," while to `Ikrimah it means, "Let not some of us prostrate ourselves before others" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Jurayj's opinion is supported by a hadith in Tirmidhi narrated by `Adiyy b. Hatim (who was formerly a Christian) who reported:

    عَنْ عَدِيِّ بْنِ حَاتِمٍ قَالَ أَتَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَفِي عُنُقِي صَلِيبٌ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ فَقَالَ يَا عَدِيُّ اطْرَحْ عَنْكَ هَذَا الْوَثَنَ وَسَمِعْتُهُ يَقْرَأُ فِي سُورَةِ بَرَاءَةٌ اتَّخَذُوا أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ أَرْبَابًا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ قَالَ أَمَا إِنَّهُمْ لَمْ يَكُونُوا يَعْبُدُونَهُمْ وَلَكِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا إِذَا أَحَلُّوا لَهُمْ شَيْئًا اسْتَحَلُّوهُ وَإِذَا حَرَّمُوا عَلَيْهِمْ شَيْئًا حَرَّمُوهُ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ غَرِيبٌ لَا نَعْرِفُهُ إِلَّا مِنْ حَدِيثِ عَبْدِ السَّلَامِ بْنِ حَرْبٍ وَغُطَيْفُ بْنُ أَعْيَنَ لَيْسَ بِمَعْرُوفٍ فِي الْحَدِيثِ

    “I went to the Prophet (while still a Christian) with a golden cross hanging by my neck. He said, “O `Adiyy, get rid of that idol.” Then I heard him recite out of the Surah Bara’ah, “The took their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah.” He added, "They did not worship them literally, but when they declared something lawful (which was not lawful), they accepted it as lawful; and when they declared something unlawful (which was lawful), they accepted it as unlawful” Zamakhshari, Alusi.
    Tirmidhi cast doubt on perfect health of the hadith. It does not appear in any other trustworthy Hadith collection (Au.).
    Qurtubi adds: Far from prostration, Islam does not even allow someone to bow down before others. A hadith preserved by Ibn Majah reports Anas b. Malik:

    يا رسول الله أينحني بعضنا لبعض؟ قال ( لا ). قلنا أيعانق بعضنا بعضا؟ قال ( لا . ولكن تصافحوا ) - قال الشيخ الألباني: حسن

    "We asked: Messenger of Allah. Can we bow down to each other?" He said: "No." We asked: "Shall we hug each other?" He said: "No. But you may shake hands."
    Majid quotes: (Christian scholars have not denied the prevalence of saint worship among the Christians: Au.) 'In the long period of twelve hundred years ... the worship of saints and relics corrupted the pure and perfect simplicity of the Christian model' (GRE., III. pp 200 210)ز
    Alusi has another point. He says: In the words, 'And do not declare some of us others as Lords,' is a hidden question. How can those who are "of us," and "like us," become gods unto some of us?"
    Rashid Rida writes: "The above verse establishes Tawhid (Oneness of Allah) in its completeness. Tawhid has two aspects: "Tawhid al Uluhiyyah" (Unity of God head) and "Tawhid al Rububiyyah" (Unity of Lordship). Now "Tawhid al Uluhiyyah" is contained in the statement: 'We worship none but Allah and associate not aught with Him,' and "Tawhid al Rububiyyah" is contained in: 'Some of us do not take others as Lords besides Allah.'"
    (And the importance of this verse as the basis, foundation and central principle of Islam can be gauged from the fact: Al Manar) that the Prophet used to quote it (as in the reports of Bukhari and Muslim), without the first word "say," in his letters to the rulers such as when he wrote to the Roman emperor Heraclius to whom he had sent Dihya al Kalbi (Ibn Kathir, Shawkani).
    "Compare and contrast the tenets of orthodox Christianity: 'The church of Christ is the fellowship of all those who accept and profess all the articles transmitted by the Apostles and approved by General Synods. Without this visible Church there is no salvation. It is under the abiding influence of the Holy Ghost, and therefore cannot err in the matters of faith' (EBR. XVI, pp. 939 940) – Majid.
    Sayyid Qutb comments: "In this world, whatever earthly system of life a people might follow be it the most advanced democratic system, or a dictatorial one some people always act as Lords over others besides Allah. The first and the major right of Allah, when He is accepted as the Lord, is the right to regulate the lives of the people, which includes the Law, values and the organization of life and society in general. Now, in all earthly systems, the people are made subservient to others, one way or the other. The affair of regulating the life is ultimately handed over to a small group of people among them. This group designs the system, determines the values and regulates the daily affairs of the masses. Thus the rest of the people submit to them and allow them to assume what is the right of Allah alone. In this sense they take them as Lords besides Allah and worship them, even if they do not prostrate themselves before them.
    "It is only in a truly Islamic system that the people are liberated from others. Each individual is on the same footing as the other, all at one level, obeying a single Lord.
    "It is Islam of this meaning that every Prophet brought to mankind: to free the people from the worship of others and bind them to the worship of Allah alone."

    يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لِمَ تُحَاجُّونَ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمَا أُنْزِلَتِ التَّوْرَاةُ وَالْإِنْجِيلُ إِلَّا مِنْ بَعْدِهِ ۚ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ (65)

    3|65| O People of the Book! Why do you dispute with us concerning Ibrahim111 while the Tawrah and the Injil were not revealed but after him?! Do you not reason?

    111. "I.e., as to whether the principles he followed were those of the Jewish faith, according to which the Torah is considered to be the final Law of God, or of Christian faith, which conflicts with the former in many cases" (Asad).

    هَا أَنْتُمْ هَٰؤُلَاءِ حَاجَجْتُمْ فِيمَا لَكُمْ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلِمَ تُحَاجُّونَ فِيمَا لَيْسَ لَكُمْ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۚ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ (66)

    3|66| Here you are disputing in matters that you have some knowledge of, why then do you dispute touching matters you have no knowledge of? Allah knows, you know not.112

    112. Shawkani says: The verse teaches us that there is no use in engaging oneself in polemics, especially when the opponent is an ignorant person. In fact, according to a hadith one should not engage in polemics even with those who have knowledge (for one cannot win people to his point through polemics: Au.). One may enter into debates only when one is certain of convincing an opponent, following the Qur'anic dictum (29: 46):

    وَلَا تُجَادِلُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ [العنكبوت : 46]

    "Dispute not with the People of the Book save in the fairest manner."

    مَا كَانَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ يَهُودِيًّا وَلَا نَصْرَانِيًّا وَلَٰكِنْ كَانَ حَنِيفًا مُسْلِمًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ (67)

    3|67| Ibrahim in truth was neither a Jew nor a Christian, rather, he was a Muslim, pure of faith.113 And certainly, he was never of the idolaters.

    113. This verse was revealed, as reported by Ibn Ishaq through Ibn `Abbas, when members of the Najran Christian delegation claimed that Ibrahim was a Christian while the Jews asserted that he was a Jew (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir). It says in other words that the Jews and Christians are not on the religion of Ibrahim, nor was he a follower of the Judaism or Christianity of their definition, even though Ibrahim, Musa and `Isa followed the same din al hanif (Razi).
    Rashid Rida adds: "Ibrahim (asws) was not a follower of our Prophet Muhammad (saws) either, leading his life by every detail of the Law as revealed to him, since this was also not revealed but after him. Hence, he was not a Muslim in the sense in which we are Muslims. Rather, he was a Muslim in the sense that he had given up false gods and was completely devoted to Allah in his life and its multifarious activities. Most Muslims have forgotten this reality, and think of Ibrahim as one belonging to their racial or national denomination."
    Ibn Jarir reports the story of Zayd b. `Amr (one of the four in Makkah who had adopted the din al hanif (the "pure religion," before the advent of Islam: Au.) that he went to Syria seeking a religion to adopt. He met a rabbi to whom he expressed his desire. He told him: "You can't adopt Judaism without agreeing to bear a part of God's anger." Zayd told him he did not have the strength to do that. "Then you better adopt," the rabbi told him, "the religion of Ibrahim the Hanif." Next he met a Christian priest to whom he expressed the same desire. He told him, "You cannot possibly become a Christian without agreeing to share a part of God's curse." Zayd told him he wasn't ready to do that. He was told, "Then adopt the religion of Ibrahim who was a Hanif." Zayd headed back to Makkah promising himself that he would not die but a Hanif. (The concept then prevalent in Arabia of a Hanif was that it was someone who had abandoned all religions, their customs and practices, and had devoted himself to one God: Au.).

    إِنَّ أَوْلَى النَّاسِ بِإِبْرَاهِيمَ لَلَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ وَهَٰذَا النَّبِيُّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ۗ وَاللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (68)

    3|68| Surely, the nearest of the people to Ibrahim are those who followed him, and this Prophet (Muhammad),114 and those who believe.115 And Allah is the Protector of the believers.

    114. Sa`id bin Mansur has reported Ibn Mas`ud, and so has Tirmidhi and Bazzar, (Hakim evaluating it as a trustworthy report: Shawkani) with some variations both in the chain of narrators as well as in the text, that the Prophet (saws) said:
    إِنَّ لِكُلِّ نَبِيٍّ وُلَاةً مِنْ النَّبِيِّينَ وَإِنَّ وَلِيِّي أَبِي وَخَلِيلُ رَبِّي. ، ثمّ قَرَأَ: إنّ أولَى النّاسِ بِإِبْرَاهِيمَ لَلّذِينَ اتّبَعُوهُ وَهَذَا النّبيّ وَالذِينَ آمَنُوا والله وَلِيّ المُؤْمِنِينَ
    "Every Prophet has friends from among the previous Prophets. My friend from among them is my progenitor and the Khalil of my Lord (i.e. Ibrahim)." Then he recited this verse: "Surely, the nearest of the people to Ibrahim are those who followed him and this Prophet and those who believe (in this new Prophet)" Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir.
    Ibn Abi Hatim has also reported that the Prophet addressed his own tribe thus:
    يَا مَعْشَرَ قُرَيْشٍ إِنَّ أَوْلَى النَّاسِ بِالنَّبِيِّ الْمُتَّقُونَ فَكُونُوا أَنْتُمْ بِسَبِيلِ ذَلِكَ فَانْظُرُوا أَنْ لا يَلْقَانِي النَّاسُ يَحْمِلُونَ الأَعْمَالَ، وَتَلْقَوْنِي بِالدُّنْيَا تَحْمِلُونَهَا فَأَصُدَّ عَنْكُمْ بِوَجْهِي , ثُمَّ قَرَأَ عَلَيْهِمْ هَذِهِ الآيَةَ: " إِنَّ أَوْلَى النَّاسِ بِإِبْرَاهِيمَ لَلَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ وَهَذَا النَّبِيُّ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَاللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ " تفسير ابن أبي حاتم - (3 / 37)
    "O Quraysh. People closest to Ibrahim are the godfearing. Follow this path, and it should not happen that people come to me (on the Day of Judgment) bearing good deeds and you come to me loaded with this world so that I divert my looks from you." Then he recited this verse.
    Hasan (al Basri) has added: "Every believer is Ibrahim's friend: both from the past nations as well as those who follow (until the end of the world) Shawkani.
    115. Majid quotes a Western scholar as witness. 'The true heir of Jewish thoughts', observes a Christian historian of recent times, 'is Islamism, the modern religion of the Semitic races. By depriving Christianity of its Greek elements, by setting aside the ideas of the incarnation of the Divine in humanity, which spanned the gulf between God and man, Muhammad restored Semitic monotheism to its pristine severity' (HHW. II. p. 171).

    وَدَّتْ طَائِفَةٌ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ لَوْ يُضِلُّونَكُمْ وَمَا يُضِلُّونَ إِلَّا أَنْفُسَهُمْ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ (69)

    3|69| A section of the people of the Book wish to deviate you (O Muslims, but), they deviate not but their own selves. But they perceive not.

    يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لِمَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَأَنْتُمْ تَشْهَدُونَ (70)

    3|70| O people of the Book! Why do you reject the signs of Allah while you bear witness?116

    116. According to Suddi and Qatadah, this refers to those sections of the revelation in the Qur'an which are common with those in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures (Qurtubi). However, it could also refer to the denial of the truth of Islam by the Jews and Christians when confronted with their followers while they admitted its truths in their hearts. Yet another possibility is ‘their rejection of the implications of the texts in Tawrah and Injil, which is tantamount to the rejection of those Scriptures’ (Razi).
    117. Qatadah, Rabi` and Ibn Jurayj say that the people of the Book used to bundle teachings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam into one whole to confuse the Muslims (Ibn Jarir).

    يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لِمَ تَلْبِسُونَ الْحَقَّ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتَكْتُمُونَ الْحَقَّ وَأَنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (71)

    3|71| O people of the Book! Why do you confound the truth with falsehood?,117 and conceal the truth while you know?118

    118. As do the innovators (ahl al bid`ah) in our times concealing the well researched works of the scholars from their ignorant followers (Razi).

    وَقَالَتْ طَائِفَةٌ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ آمِنُوا بِالَّذِي أُنْزِلَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَجْهَ النَّهَارِ وَاكْفُرُوا آخِرَهُ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ (72)

    3|72| A section of the people of the Book say, 'Believe in what has been sent down to the believers at the beginning of the day and reject it at the end of the day. Hopefully, they will return (to paganism).’119

    119. Mujahid says a bunch of Jewish Rabbis (numbering 12, of a settling called `Uraynah: Alusi, Manar) announced their belief in Islam, did their fajr Prayers with the congregation and then renounced their faith in the evening (in the hope of casting doubt in the hearts of the weak Muslims) Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir.
    Another possibility, as expressed by Asam, is that they used to tell each other that it was not the right policy to be denouncing all that Muhammad had brought since there were plenty of things that they could not deny without being branded idiots by their own communities. Therefore, it would be better to declare some things as true and denounce others as false (Razi).
    Majid adds: "Modern biographers of the Prophet, with huge pretensions to learning and impartiality, who begin by admiring his earnestness, his sincerity of purpose and the depth of his convictions, and end by denouncing him as a deluded visionary and a false prophet, are almost playing the same old game with modern variants."

    وَلَا تُؤْمِنُوا إِلَّا لِمَنْ تَبِعَ دِينَكُمْ قُلْ إِنَّ الْهُدَىٰ هُدَى اللَّهِ أَنْ يُؤْتَىٰ أَحَدٌ مِثْلَ مَا أُوتِيتُمْ أَوْ يُحَاجُّوكُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّكُمْ ۗ قُلْ إِنَّ الْفَضْلَ بِيَدِ اللَّهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ (73)

    3|73| 'And trust not in any but him who follows your religion.’ Tell them, 'Verily true guidance is the guidance of Allah - that anyone should be given the like of what you have been given, or dispute with you before your Lord.’120 Tell them, 'Surely, the bounty is in the hand of Allah.121 He bestows it upon whosoever He will. And Allah is All-embracing, All-knowing.

    120. This is a difficult piece of text which could be paraphrased in the following manner:
    'And (they also advise each other), trust not in any but him who follows your religion.’ Tell them, '(Such efforts will not bear any fruit because), Verily true guidance is the guidance of Allah (which He bestows upon whom He will. You will not be able to stop it. You are fearful) that anyone should be given the like of what you have been given, or dispute with you (in the Hereafter) before your Lord.’ Tell them (O Prophet, in summary), 'Surely, the bounty is in the hand of Allah (alone). He bestows it upon whosoever He will. And Allah is All-embracing, All-knowing (and so, knows where to place it).
    There have been several interpretations to these words. One is expressed in the translation. Another, forwarded by Akhfash will render the translation as: "And believe not in any but him who follows your religion.' Tell them, 'Verily, true guidance is the guidance of Allah.' (They also say, "believe not) until he be given the like of what you have been given, and do not give it credence that they argue with you before your Lord." Qurtubi and others have discussed several other possibilities, but quite complicated for translation. (Au.).
    It is said that this is one of the most difficult verses of the Qur'an to interpret (Shawkani).
    121. "The bounty" (al fadl of the original) refers to Messengership (Razi).

    يَخْتَصُّ بِرَحْمَتِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ ذُو الْفَضْلِ الْعَظِيمِ (74)

    3|74| He selects by His mercy who He will (for messengership). And Allah is the possessor of great bounty.

    وَمِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ مَنْ إِنْ تَأْمَنْهُ بِقِنْطَارٍ يُؤَدِّهِ إِلَيْكَ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ إِنْ تَأْمَنْهُ بِدِينَارٍ لَا يُؤَدِّهِ إِلَيْكَ إِلَّا مَا دُمْتَ عَلَيْهِ قَائِمًا ۗ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُوا لَيْسَ عَلَيْنَا فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ سَبِيلٌ وَيَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ (75)

    3|75| (Yet) of the people of the Book122 is he who, if you trust him with a pile (of wealth), will restore it to you. While of them is he who, if you trust him with a (single) Dinar, will not repay it to you, unless you were to stand over his head persistently.123 This because they claim, 'There is no liability upon us for the unlettered people.’124 But they fasten a lie upon Allah while they are aware.125

    122. Qatadah, Suddi, Sa`id b. Jubayr, and Ibn `Abbas were of belief that it is the Jews who are referred to in this verse (Ibn Jarir). And more specifically it refers to `Abdullah ibn Salam whom a man from Quraysh entrusted with 2200 ounces of gold, which he returned promptly when asked, whereas a Jew called Finhas Ibn `Azura was lent a Dinar but began to argue when asked to return it (Zamakhshari, Razi, Qurtubi).
    Ibn Kathir places a hadith here which Bukhari placed in several places in his collection. The ungrateful Jews will of course never respond positively to Islam:
    عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنَّهُ ذَكَرَ رَجُلًا مِنْ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ سَأَلَ بَعْضَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنْ يُسْلِفَهُ أَلْفَ دِينَارٍ فَقَالَ ائْتِنِي بِالشُّهَدَاءِ أُشْهِدُهُمْ فَقَالَ كَفَى بِاللَّهِ شَهِيدًا قَالَ فَأْتِنِي بِالْكَفِيلِ قَالَ كَفَى بِاللَّهِ كَفِيلًا قَالَ صَدَقْتَ فَدَفَعَهَا إِلَيْهِ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى فَخَرَجَ فِي الْبَحْرِ فَقَضَى حَاجَتَهُ ثُمَّ الْتَمَسَ مَرْكَبًا يَرْكَبُهَا يَقْدَمُ عَلَيْهِ لِلْأَجَلِ الَّذِي أَجَّلَهُ فَلَمْ يَجِدْ مَرْكَبًا فَأَخَذَ خَشَبَةً فَنَقَرَهَا فَأَدْخَلَ فِيهَا أَلْفَ دِينَارٍ وَصَحِيفَةً مِنْهُ إِلَى صَاحِبِهِ ثُمَّ زَجَّجَ مَوْضِعَهَا ثُمَّ أَتَى بِهَا إِلَى الْبَحْرِ فَقَالَ اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ تَعْلَمُ أَنِّي كُنْتُ تَسَلَّفْتُ فُلَانًا أَلْفَ دِينَارٍ فَسَأَلَنِي كَفِيلَا فَقُلْتُ كَفَى بِاللَّهِ كَفِيلًا فَرَضِيَ بِكَ وَسَأَلَنِي شَهِيدًا فَقُلْتُ كَفَى بِاللَّهِ شَهِيدًا فَرَضِيَ بِكَ وَأَنِّي جَهَدْتُ أَنْ أَجِدَ مَرْكَبًا أَبْعَثُ إِلَيْهِ الَّذِي لَهُ فَلَمْ أَقْدِرْ وَإِنِّي أَسْتَوْدِعُكَهَا فَرَمَى بِهَا فِي الْبَحْرِ حَتَّى وَلَجَتْ فِيهِ ثُمَّ انْصَرَفَ وَهُوَ فِي ذَلِكَ يَلْتَمِسُ مَرْكَبًا يَخْرُجُ إِلَى بَلَدِهِ فَخَرَجَ الرَّجُلُ الَّذِي كَانَ أَسْلَفَهُ يَنْظُرُ لَعَلَّ مَرْكَبًا قَدْ جَاءَ بِمَالِهِ فَإِذَا بِالْخَشَبَةِ الَّتِي فِيهَا الْمَالُ فَأَخَذَهَا لِأَهْلِهِ حَطَبًا فَلَمَّا نَشَرَهَا وَجَدَ الْمَالَ وَالصَّحِيفَةَ ثُمَّ قَدِمَ الَّذِي كَانَ أَسْلَفَهُ فَأَتَى بِالْأَلْفِ دِينَارٍ فَقَالَ وَاللَّهِ مَا زِلْتُ جَاهِدًا فِي طَلَبِ مَرْكَبٍ لِآتِيَكَ بِمَالِكَ فَمَا وَجَدْتُ مَرْكَبًا قَبْلَ الَّذِي أَتَيْتُ فِيهِ قَالَ هَلْ كُنْتَ بَعَثْتَ إِلَيَّ بِشَيْءٍ قَالَ أُخْبِرُكَ أَنِّي لَمْ أَجِدْ مَرْكَبًا قَبْلَ الَّذِي جِئْتُ فِيهِ قَالَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَدَّى عَنْكَ الَّذِي بَعَثْتَ فِي الْخَشَبَةِ فَانْصَرِفْ بِالْأَلْفِ الدِّينَارِ رَاشِدًا
    Abu Hurayrah reports that the Prophet mentioned a man of the Israelites who asked another Israelite to lend him a thousand Dinars. He said, “Bring in witness who will testify for me.” He answered, “Allah is sufficient as a witness.” He said, “Then bring me a warrantor.” He replied, “Allah is enough of a warrantor.” He said, “You spoke the truth,” and then lent the money for a known time. The man (the borrower) went into the sea and fulfilled his needs. Then he started looking for a boat to keep up with his promised date. But he could not find one. So he took a piece of wood, hollowed it, placed 1000 Dinars in with a note for the owner and plugged the hole. Then he went up to the shore and said, “O Allah. You are aware that I borrowed 1000 Dinars from so and so. He asked me for a warrantor and said, ‘Allah is the best of warrantors.’ He was satisfied with You (as a warrantor). Then he asked for a witness and I said, ‘Allah is the best of witnesses.’ He was satisfied with You (as a witness). Now, I have tried but cannot find a boat to send it back to him. I place it in Your trust.” Then he threw into the sea and it disappeared in it. Then he left the place but was still looking for a boat so as to travel back home. On the other side, the lender was waiting, hoping that a boat will come along with his money, when, lo, he found the wood-piece floating. He took it out as firewood for his homefolk. When he tore it, he found his money and a note. Then came along the man who had borrowed the money from him (with 1000 Dinars). He said, “By Allah I kept trying so hard to find a boat in order to bring you back your money, but I could not find a boat earlier than the one I have come by. The lender asked, “Did you send me anything at all?” He replied, “As I said, I did not find a boat but the one by which I have just arrived.” He said, “Well, Allah sent the wood-piece you sent along. So, go now, with the 1000 Dinar of yours, rightly guided.”
    123. Abu Hanifah has, accordingly, said that in the light of the verse it is quite admissible (even though not always recommended: Au.) for the creditor to follow the debtor until he pays up (Ma`arif).
    124. Rabbis and Jewish religious scholars of the past have left no doubts as to the rightfulness of wrongs committed against the Gentiles, that is, the non Israelites and non-Isralelis. Talmud (the authoritative running commentary of the Old Testament, Jewish oral Law and rabbinical teachings) has the following instruction for the court officials: "When an Israeli and a Gentile have a lawsuit before thee, if thou canst, acquit the former according to the laws of Israel, and tell the latter such is our Law. If you canst get him off in accordance with Gentile law, do so, and say to the plaintiff such is your Law. But if he cannot be acquitted according to either law, then bring forward adroit pretexts and secure his acquittal. These are the words of the Rabbi Ishmael. Rabbi Akiva says, 'No false pretext should be brought forward, because, if found out, the name of God would be blasphemed, but if there be no fear of that, then it may be adduced": Talmud, Bara Kama, fol. 113, col. 1."
    The Talmud also says elsewhere (Sanhedrin, fol. 58. col. 2): "If a Gentile strikes an Israelite, he is guilty of death, as it is written (Ex. II, 12), 'And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw there was no man, he slew the Egyptian" (Au.).
    Mawdudi comments: "This was not merely the misconception of the ignorant mass of Jews. Their religious teaching was the same and the legal doctrines of their accepted religious authorities and jurists reflected this idea. With regard to injunctions on loans and interest, the Bible makes a clear distinction between an Israelite and a non Israelite (Deuteronomy 15: 1 3; 23: 20). It is stated in the Talmud that if the bullock of an Israelite injures the bullock of a non Israelite the former is not liable to pay any penalty, but not vice versa. Similarly, it is laid down that if anyone finds an unclaimed article he should enquire amongst the people who live nearby. If they are Israelites he should announce his find; if not, he may keep it without saying anything further."
    125. It is said that some people came to Ibn `Abbas and enquired, "When we go into non Muslim territories (that have submitted and pay Jizyah) we pick up a chicken here or a goat there for our use. What do you have to say about it?" He said, "And what do you think about it yourself?" They said, "Well, we think there is no harm in it." Ibn `Abbas said: "In that case you'll be like the people of the Book who used to say, 'There is no liability upon us against the unlettered ones.' Once they have agreed to pay Jizyah (poll tax), nothing belonging to them is lawful for you without their happy consent" (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari). The report is in the works of Abdul Razzaq: Qurtubi, and Ibn Kathir).
    Adds Qurtubi: "Trust and blood relations (rahm) both are of prime importance in Islam. They will be, according to a hadith in Muslim at the two sides of the gate to Paradise, so that no one who had wasted them will be able to make through."

    بَلَىٰ مَنْ أَوْفَىٰ بِعَهْدِهِ وَاتَّقَىٰ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ (76)

    3|76| Nay, he who fulfilled his promise and feared (Allah) then Allah loves the pious.

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَشْتَرُونَ بِعَهْدِ اللَّهِ وَأَيْمَانِهِمْ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا أُولَٰئِكَ لَا خَلَاقَ لَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ وَلَا يُكَلِّمُهُمُ اللَّهُ وَلَا يَنْظُرُ إِلَيْهِمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَلَا يُزَكِّيهِمْ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ (77)

    3|77| Those who barter Allah’s covenant and their oaths for a paltry sum,126 such shall have no share in the life to come.127 Allah will not speak to them; neither look at them, nor will He purify them. Instead, for them will be a painful chastisement.128

    126. Allah (swt) spoke of His covenant in connection with the people making and breaking covenants and promises among themselves because all the revelations that He has made to man have included the commands to be truthful and honest when dealing with each other, and not to be untruthful and dishonest, as He also took covenant to the effect that they shall worship none but Him and obey none but Him (Al Manar). [What he means perhaps and Allah knows best is that when people are dishonest with each other, do not keep the trusts, or break covenants made to each other, then, they are equally guilty of breaking the covenants they made with Allah of obedience to His commands: Au.).
    Sayyid Qutb remarks: "This then, in general, is the Islamic viewpoint with regard to keeping of oaths as it is with regard to other moral questions: any dealing (between the humans) is first and foremost a deal with Allah in which due regard should be paid to Allah, to His pleasure which is to be gained, and to His anger which is to be avoided. The moral impetus then is not the exigencies of the society, its customs, nor yet its immediate needs and requirements. A society can and does go astray or lean towards evil so that false values and standards gain currency in it. It is essential, therefore, that there should be a permanent set of values and standards, which the society as well as the individuals should refer to. And it is essential that such a set of values and standards should have, apart from their own strength, a power supporting them from above a power that is over and above the ever changing requirements and conventions of the human society. Accordingly, it is essential that the values and standards be taken from Allah along with the knowledge of what is pleasing to Him and what is displeasing, in addition to the proper concept of where lies virtue. This way Islam makes it possible for mankind to raise itself up far above the earthly existence and seek the pure and lofty values and standards from high above."
    127. (Several incidents, involving both Jews versus Muslims, and Muslims versus Muslims, took place that became the cause of revelation of this verse, or to which the verse immediately referred at revelation: Au.) In one case (reported by Ahmad through `Abdullah, as also by Bukhari and Muslim: Ibn Kathir, Shawkani), Ash`ash b. Qays brought a case to the Prophet against a Jew, who, he alleged had usurped some of his lands. Since he lacked evidence, the Prophet asked the Jew to swear. Ash`ash rejoined that were the Jew to be allowed to keep the land merely on the strength of an oath, surely he will not hesitate to swear. The Prophet said:
    مَنْ حَلَفَ عَلَى يَمِينٍ صَبْرٍ لِيَقْتَطِعَ بِهَا مَالَ امْرِئٍ مُسْلِمٍ وَهُوَ فِيهَا فَاجِرٌ لَقِيَ اللَّهَ وَهُوَ عَلَيْهِ غَضْبَانٌ
    "Whoever swore a false oath in order to usurp a Muslim's property wrongfully, will meet Allah in the state of His anger." And this verse was revealed, "Those who barter Allah's covenant..." (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Qurtubi).
    In another incident involving Imra'ul Qays and a Hadrami, (reported by `Adiyy in Musnad Ahmad, as well as Nasa'i through `Adiyy b. `Adiyy: Ibn Kathir)

    خاصم رجل من كندة، يقال له امرؤ القيس بن عابس، رجلاً من حضر موت إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في أرض، فقضى على الحضرمي بالبينة، فلم يكن له بينة فقضى على امرىء القيس باليمين، فقال الحضرمي: أن أمكنته من اليمين يا رسول الله ؟ ذهبت ورب الكعبة أرضي، فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: "من حلف على يمين كاذبة ليقتطع بها مال أحد لقي الله عز وجل وهو عليه غضبان" قال رجاء: وتلا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم {إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَشْتَرُونَ بِعَهْدِ اللَّهِ وَأَيْمَانِهِمْ ثَمَناً قَلِيلاً} فقال امرؤ القيس: ماذا لمن تركها يا رسول الله ؟ فقال "الجنة". قال: فاشهد أني قد تركتها له كلها

    The Prophet asked Hadrami to produce evidence, but he had no evidence; so he asked Imra’ul Qays to swear. The Hadrami protested, “If I give him the right to oath, Messenger of Allah, then, by the Lord of the Ka`bah, my land will be gone. The Prophet said: "Whoever swore a false oath in order to usurp his brother's property wrongfully, will meet Allah in a state that He is angry with him." Imra'ul Qays then asked, "What if a man knows it is his right, yet forgoes it?" The Prophet answered: "He shall have Paradise." Upon this Imra'ul Qays said: "Then bear witness that I relinquish my right" (Ibn Jarir). The report is in Nasa'i (Shawkani).
    Ibn Kathir writes: Several ahadith have come down to us in connection with this verse. We shall quote a few here.
    1. It is reported in Musnad Ahmad by Abu Dharr that the Prophet said:

    "ثَلاَثَةٌ لاَ يُكَلِمُهُمُ اللّهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ: الْمَنّان الّذِي لاَ يُعْطِي شَيْئَا إِلاّ مَنّة. وَالْمُنَفّقُ سِلْعَتَهُ بِالْحَلْفِ الْفَاجِرِ، وَالْمُسبلُ إِزَارَهُ".

    "There are three to whom Allah will not speak, will not look at, and will not purify them: He who will not give a thing but reminds of it; he who sells his goods on the strength of false oaths, and he who lets down his trousers (below the ankles, out of pride: Au.).”
    2. Another incident is reported by Bukhari and Abu Hatim through Abdullah ibn Abi Awfa. A Muslim merchant swore in the market that he had paid a certain amount for a certain article, while actually he had not, in order to increase its sales price. Allah revealed this verse (Shawkani).
    3. Again, according to another hadith reported by Abu Hurayrah and preserved by Imam Ahmad and Tirmidhi, who termed it Sahih, the Prophet said:

    « ثَلاَثَةٌ لاَ يُكَلِّمُهُمُ اللَّهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ رَجُلٌ مَنَعَ ابْنَ السَّبِيلِ فَضْلَ مَاءٍ عِنْدَهُ وَرَجُلٌ حَلَفَ عَلَى سِلْعَةٍ بَعْدَ الْعَصْرِ - يَعْنِى كَاذِبًا - وَرَجُلٌ بَايَعَ إِمَامًا فَإِنْ أَعْطَاهُ وَفَى لَهُ وَإِنْ لَمْ يُعْطِهِ لَمْ يَفِ لَهُ »

    "There are three to whom Allah will not speak on the Day of Judgment, nor look at them, nor purify them. Rather for them will be a painful chastisement: 'A man who refused to give a drink to a traveler from the extra water he had, a man who falsely swore after `Asr over his merchandise and a man who gave allegiance to a ruler and kept it if he gave him, but if he did not give him, he did not keep it."
    [We have taken the text from Abu Da’ud; and the addition of “after `Asr” is, as explained by some scholars, is to emphasize the sin committed at a sacred hour: Au.].
    Sa`id ibn al-Musayyib said that false oath is a major sin. And Ibn Mas`ud said, "During the life of the Prophet we used to consider false oath as an unforgivable sin." (Ibn Jarir)
    128. It should be noticed that although drinking, gambling, usury, and mistreating parents have been declared as major sins, the commitment of none of them promises the punishment as severe as that promised to those who do not honor trusts. This is because untrustworthiness and faith do not combine together in a single individual. Allah ordered the believers to wage war against the leaders of the unbelievers on grounds that they are dishonest. He said (9: 12):
    فَقَاتِلُوا أَئِمَّةَ الْكُفْرِ إِنَّهُمْ لَا أَيْمَانَ لَهُمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَنْتَهُونَ [التوبة : 12]
    "And fight the leaders of the unbelievers for they are untrustworthy. Maybe they will cease (to be dishonest)."
    And the Prophet has said:
    "مِنْ عَلاَمَاتِ الْمُنَافِقِ ثَلاَثةٌ: إِذَا حَدّثَ كَذَبَ. وَإِذَا وَعَدَ أَخْلَفَ. وَإِذَا ائْتُمِنَ خَانَ". (و زاد: "وَإِنّ صَامَ وَصَلّى وَزَعمَ أَنّهُ مُسْلِمٌ")
    "There are three signs of a hypocrite (and, according to the report in Muslim, even if he Prayed and fasted): when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks it and when he is given a trust he does not honor it."
    And Ahmad, Bazzar, and Tabarani in his Awsat have reported Anas as saying that it rarely happened that the Prophet gave a sermon in which he did not say:
    لا إيمان لمن لا أمانة له ولا دين لمن لا عهد له
    "There is no faith in him who cannot be trusted, and there is no religion of him who does not keep his promises" (Manar).

    وَإِنَّ مِنْهُمْ لَفَرِيقًا يَلْوُونَ أَلْسِنَتَهُمْ بِالْكِتَابِ لِتَحْسَبُوهُ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَقُولُونَ هُوَ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ وَيَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ (78)

    3|78| Among them are some who twist the tongue with the (words of the) Book, so that you may suppose it part of the Book, while it is not part of the Book. And they say, 'This is from Allah,’ while it is not from Allah, and fasten lies upon Allah while they know.

    مَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَنْ يُؤْتِيَهُ اللَّهُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ ثُمَّ يَقُولَ لِلنَّاسِ كُونُوا عِبَادًا لِي مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَلَٰكِنْ كُونُوا رَبَّانِيِّينَ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تُعَلِّمُونَ الْكِتَابَ وَبِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَدْرُسُونَ (79)

    3|79| It is not for anyone that Allah should give him the Book, wisdom and the Prophetic office and then he should say to the people, 'Be you my worshippers, along with Allah’.129 Rather, (he will say) 'Be you faithful servants (of Allah)130 by virtue of what you teach of the Book, and by virtue of what you have been learning.’131

    129. Ibn `Abbas has reported that when representatives of the Jews of Madinah and Christians of Najran gathered in Madinah to discuss religious issues with the Prophet, Abu Rafe` al Qurazi said to the Prophet accusingly: "Muhammad. Do you want us to worship you as the Christians worship Jesus Christ?" Upon this a man from the Najran who overheard this statement he was called Ra'yes asked: "Muhammad. Is this what you are inviting us to?" Allah then revealed: 'It is not for anyone that Allah should give him the Book, (bestow on him) wisdom and the Prophetic office, and then he should say to the people, 'Be you my worshipper, apart from Allah'" (Kashshaf, Razi, Ibn Kathir).
    The verse also implies, of course, that it was not `Isa ibn Maryam who instituted the worship of himself by his followers (Au.).
    Qurtubi writes: Accordingly, the Prophet has said (as in Muslim and others: Au.):
    "لاَ يَقُولَنّ أَحَدُكُمْ: عَبْدِي وَأَمَتِي. كُلّكُمْ عَبِيدُ اللّهِ وَكُلّ نِسَائِكُمْ إِمَاءُ اللّهِ. وَلَكِنْ لِيَقُلْ: غُلاَمِي وَجَارِيَتِي، وَفَتَايَ وَفَتَاتِي".
    "Let not one of you say to his slaves 'My slave,' or 'My slave girl.' All of you are Allah’s slaves, and all of your women are Allah’s slave-women; but rather, let him say, 'My boy,' or 'My girl.'
    Another version says,
    "لاَ يَقُولَنّ أَحَدُكُمْ: عَبْدِي. فَكُلّكُمْ عَبِيدُ اللّهِ. وَلَكِنْ لِيَقُلْ: فَتَايَ. وَلاَ يَقُلِ الْعَبْدُ: رَبّي. وَلَكِنْ لِيَقُلْ: سَيّدِي"
    “And let not one of you say, ‘My slave,’ for every one of you is Allah’s slave, but say, “My boy,” nor should a slave say, 'My lord,' rather, let him say, 'My master.'"
    As for Allah's words (in Surah Yusuf), 'And mention me to your Lord,' scholars explain that the ban in the above hadith is irshadi, i.e., more or less as an advisory, rather than a command. The important point is the spirit of directive, rather than the statement of a rule (Au.).
    130. The word in the original is rabbaniyyun (sing: rabbaniyy) which has been interpreted by Ibn `Abbas, Sa`id b. Jubayr, Qatadah, and others, as those pious scholars of religion who are completely devoted to God (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf, Ibn Kathir).
    It is reported of Muhammad bin Hanafiyyah that when Ibn `Abbas died, he said that the rabbaniyy of this ummah had died (Kashshaf).
    131. The verse implies that one ought to live by his knowledge (Razi).
    Zamakhshari adds: There is a lesson in the verse for him who devotes himself to amassing knowledge but does not put it to practice. His example is that of a man who planted a tree which grew up into a beautiful looking plant but which does not bear any fruit.
    The Connection\; The previous verses spoke of the opposition of the people of the Book to Prophet Muhammad and what he had brought. Now they are being told that far from opposition, according to a covenant taken earlier, they are required to believe in him and help him to establish the truth he has brought (Thanwi).

    وَلَا يَأْمُرَكُمْ أَنْ تَتَّخِذُوا الْمَلَائِكَةَ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ أَرْبَابًا ۗ أَيَأْمُرُكُمْ بِالْكُفْرِ بَعْدَ إِذْ أَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ (80)

    3|80| He would never instruct you to take the angels and prophets as Lords. Will he bid you to disbelieve after you have surrendered?

    وَإِذْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ مِيثَاقَ النَّبِيِّينَ لَمَا آتَيْتُكُمْ مِنْ كِتَابٍ وَحِكْمَةٍ ثُمَّ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ مُصَدِّقٌ لِمَا مَعَكُمْ لَتُؤْمِنُنَّ بِهِ وَلَتَنْصُرُنَّهُ ۚ قَالَ أَأَقْرَرْتُمْ وَأَخَذْتُمْ عَلَىٰ ذَٰلِكُمْ إِصْرِي ۖ قَالُوا أَقْرَرْنَا ۚ قَالَ فَاشْهَدُوا وَأَنَا مَعَكُمْ مِنَ الشَّاهِدِينَ (81)

    3|81| And (recall) when Allah took covenant of the Prophets: '(When)132 I have bestowed on you a Book and hikmah133 and then comes to you a Messenger, confirming what is with you, you shall believe in him and strengthen him.’134 Then He asked, 'Do you agree and accept this My covenant135 as binding on you?’ They replied, 'We do agree.’ He said, 'Then bear witness.136 And I am with you among the witnesses.’

    132. The lama of the original has been a challenge to the grammarians (Au.). In fact the whole verse is grammatically quite complicated (Alusi).
    133. Hikmah here could signify either knowledge of Divine Law or simply "wisdom."
    134. Although the meaning is general, as expressed by Ibn `Abbas, and Hasan that no Messenger or Prophet was sent but was made to take a oath to the effect that he will believe in, and support any other Messenger that follows him, `Ali ibn Abi Talib, Qatadah, and Suddi are of opinion that no Prophet was sent earlier but an oath was taken from him that if Muhammad was sent during his time, he will believe in him and render him help. And, according to a report this happens to be a second opinion of Ibn `Abbas also (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Yusuf `Ali remarks: "The argument is: You (People of the Book) are bound by your own oaths, sworn solemnly in the presence of your own Prophets. In the Old Testament as it now exists, Muhammad is foretold in Deut. xviii. 18: and the rise of the Arab nation in Isaiah. xlii. 11, for Kedar was a son of Isma`il and the name is used for the Arab nation: in the New Testament as it now exists. Muhammad is foretold in the Gospel of St. John. xiv. 16, xv. 26, and xvi. 7: the future Comforter cannot be the Holy Spirit as understood by Christians, because the Holy Spirit was already present, helping and guiding Jesus. The Greek word translated "Comforter" is "Paracletos", which is an easy corruption from "Periclytos", which is almost a literal translation of "Muhammad" or "Ahmad": see Q lxi. 6. Further, there were other Gospels that have perished, but of which traces remain, which were even more specific in their reference to Muhammad; e.g., the Gospel of St. Barnabas, of which an Italian translation is extant in the State Library at Vienna. It was edited in 1907 with an English translation by Lonsdale and Laura Ragg."
    135. (Linguistically the Isr of the original means a load or burden). Here it signifies, in the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Rabi` b. Anas, Qatadah and Suddi, a covenant (Ibn Kathir).
    136. According to `Ali (ra) what the words mean is: "then bear witness against your nations," (i.e. take covenant from your respective followers too: Au)" (Ibn Jarir). The same meaning is reported of Sa`id ibn Jubayr (Qurtubi); as also of Ibn `Abbas (Ibn Kathir).
    In fact `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, followed by Mujahid, was of opinion that the original revelation was not "When Allah took covenant of the Prophets (al nabiy yina)", rather it was "When Allah took covenant of the people of the Book (alla dhina 'utu al kitaba)" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani and others). But the consensus of the ummah is that the original revelation was "al nabiy yina" and not "alla dhina 'utu al kitaba" (Au.).
    Ahmad has reported through `Abdullah b. Thabit that once `Umar appeared before the Prophet and said, "Messenger of Allah, I had asked one of my Jewish brothers of Qurayzah to note down for me some of the beautiful things there are in the Tawrah. Shall I read it out to you?" The Prophet's face reddened with anger. Ibn Thabit says I told `Umar, "Can't you see the Prophet's reaction?" `Umar added hastily, "I am satisfied with Allah as the Lord, Islam as the religion, and Muhammad as the Messenger." This pleased the Prophet. He said, "By Him in Whose Hand is my life, were Musa to appear before you now, this moment, and you were to abandon me and follow him, surely you'd be considered misguided. You are my share of the nations and I am your share of the Prophets" (Ibn Kathir).

    فَمَنْ تَوَلَّىٰ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ (82)

    3|82| Then, after that, whosever turns his back, such indeed are the pervert transgressors.

    أَفَغَيْرَ دِينِ اللَّهِ يَبْغُونَ وَلَهُ أَسْلَمَ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ طَوْعًا وَكَرْهًا وَإِلَيْهِ يُرْجَعُونَ (83)

    3|83| Do they, then, seek a religion other than Allah’s,137 while to Him has submitted whoso is in the heavens and the earth willingly or unwillingly?138 And to Him they shall be returned.139

    137. It is reported that (a Jew) Ka`b b. al Ashraf and his colleagues argued with the (visiting) Christians (of Najran) over the right religion and turned to the Prophet for his opinion about which of the two groups was on the religion of Ibrahim. The Prophet told them, 'Both of you have nothing to do with Ibrahim.' Ka`b responded, 'If you say that, then neither we accept your judgment nor your religion.' Allah then revealed this verse (Qurtubi, Kashshaf, Razi, Alusi).
    The appearance of this verse after the "Covenant" implies that today no religion is acceptable to Allah save that of belief in Prophet Muhammad ... and that common sense requires that man submit as all creations have submitted willingly or unwillingly ... in the sense that Allah alone creates and destroys them as He wishes, and they have no choice but to submit themselves to His will (Razi).
    In Thanwi's words: Allah's commandments are of two types: those in which His creations have a choice: whether to act upon them or not, for instance Prayers, fasts etc. The second type is that in which the creations have no choice but to submit, such as hunger, sickness, death and so forth. Obedience to the second type of commands is referred to in the statement: "to Him has submitted whoso is in the heavens and the earth willingly or unwillingly."
    138. It is reported of Ibn `Abbas that he said: "If your beast behaves tough and gets uncontrollable, recite this verse in its ear: 'Do they ... unwillingly'" (Qurtubi). Shawkani quotes a hadith also from Tabarani's Awsat to this effect, but does not state its strength.
    139. Mawdudi writes: "Here people are asked if they would follow a way of life different from Islam though they are part of the universe which is characterized by submission to God (Islam)."
    Sayyid Qutb comments: "In its essence human nature has been created in harmony with the laws of nature that govern the rest of the world that itself the living as well as the non living of it is submitted to its Lord. So that, when man abandons his nature, he not only runs into conflict with the rest of the created world, but also with his own self. He is rendered miserable, torn off, bewildered and distressed and lives an exhausted life of the kind people are experiencing today, despite all the advances in science and despite the ease and comfort that the modern world offers. Today humanity is experiencing a bitter emptiness. It is a spiritual emptiness. Man’s inner being feels dissatisfied with the prevalent situation ... It is the emptiness that results from the loss of faith in God and Divine Guidance, which alone are capable of harmonizing and reconciling his activities with those of the wider physical world. Humanity is experiencing a burning estrangement in place of the cooling effects of nature; and a worrisome demoralization that is way off from the straight path and a simple program of life given by God. And hence it experiences miseries, tensions and bewilderment. It feels an emptiness, hunger and loss, and tries to escape from the realities with drugs and intoxicants, in a life characterized by schizophrenic behavior, maddening haste, foolish adventures and imbalances in behavior, crazy dress code and unhealthy eating habits...
    "This bitter emptiness attacks humanity from all sides and follows it like a fearful phantom. Humanity tries to flee from it but ends up confronting the same bitter emptiness again and again...
    "People, especially in the affluent Western world, cannot come to terms with themselves basically because they are unaware of the ultimate goal of their lives. They miss the real bliss of life because they do not know of a Divine Guidance that can harmonize their activities with the activities of the physical world at large. They are not able to harmonize their system of life with the system governing the world. They do not experience satisfaction because they do not know the Lord to whom they will return."

    قُلْ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ وَمَا أُوتِيَ مُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَالنَّبِيُّونَ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ (84)

    3|84| Tell (them), 'We have believed in Allah, in that which has been sent unto us, that which was revealed unto Ibrahim, Isma`il, Is-haq, Ya`qub, and the Tribes (of Ya`qub), that which was given to Musa, `Isa and (other) Prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them. And we have surrendered ourselves unto Him.’

    وَمَنْ يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا فَلَنْ يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ (85)

    3|85| And he who desires a religion other than Islam, shall not have it accepted of him.140 He shall be of the losers in the next world.141

    140. Majid quotes: "Islam is among the simplest of all the revealed religions, its simplicity is attractive and appealing alike to the man in the street and to the philosopher in the closet. Goethe fell into raptures over the Kuran and Gibbon found in it a glorious testimony to the unity of God. Belief in One God and belief in Mohammed as the prophet of God such is the quintessence of the Islamic faith.' (BK. IV. p. 2282)
    141. Hence a hadith of the Prophet which says:
    مَنْ عَمِلَ عَمَلًا لَيْسَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْرُنَا فَهُوَ رَدٌّ
    "Whoever did a thing about which we have not issued a command, will have it rejected." (Ibn Kathir)

    كَيْفَ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ قَوْمًا كَفَرُوا بَعْدَ إِيمَانِهِمْ وَشَهِدُوا أَنَّ الرَّسُولَ حَقٌّ وَجَاءَهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ (86)

    3|86| How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after they had declared faith and after they had (in private) attested to the truth of the (new) Messenger after receiving veritable proofs?142 And Allah guides not the transgressors.143

    142. The immediate cause of revelation, according to Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Suddi, was that a person called Al Haris b. Suwayd. He declared his Islam but subsequently apostatized. However, when verse 89 was revealed he repented, was accepted back and became a good Muslim. According to Mujahid he had run away and taken refuge with the Romans from where he wrote to ask if there was room for repentance. (The report is in Nasa'i: Qurtubi. And also in Ibn Hibban and Hakim, the latter marking it as Sahih: Ibn Kathir; also in Bayhaqi: Shawkani). `Ikrimah has added that there were no less than a dozen men who had apostatized at different times, took refuge with the Quraysh and then requested to be accepted back (Ibn Jarir, Razi).
    Ibn `Abbas and Hasan are of the opinion that (whatever the other causes of revelation: Au.) it is the Jews and Christians who are alluded to in this verse. They believed in a previous Prophet and then, despite the conviction in their hearts that Muhammad bore the signs of belonging to the same series, rejected him out of envy (Ibn Jarir).
    143. It is said that when His slaves intend a deed Allah "creates" it so that they can perform it; so what the words, "How shall Allah guide a people who ..." mean is how can Allah create the deed (of belief) if they have not intended to perform it, rather intend to do the opposite of it? i.e., disbelieve (Razi).

    أُولَٰئِكَ جَزَاؤُهُمْ أَنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ لَعْنَةَ اللَّهِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ (87)

    3|87| Their recompense is that there shall rest on them the curse of Allah, that of the angels and of the people, combined.144

    144. Even those who do not curse them now will do it when they will see their fate in the Hereafter and look at them as the cause of that fate. Allah said (7: 38):

    كُلَّمَا دَخَلَتْ أُمَّةٌ لَعَنَتْ أُخْتَهَا [الأعراف : 38]

    "Whenever a nation enters into it (Hell) it will curse its sister (nation)."
    Allah also said (28: 25):

    ثُمَّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يَكْفُرُ بَعْضُكُمْ بِبَعْضٍ وَيَلْعَنُ بَعْضُكُمْ بَعْضًا [العنكبوت : 25]

    "And then, on the Day of Judgment, some of you will deny others, and will curse each other" (Razi).
    145. The English rendering is based on the commentary of Hasan, Qatadah and Abu al `Aliyyah, as in Ibn Jarir, and Ata' al Khurasani as in Qurtubi and Shawkani. This is also one of the opinions of Razi (Au.).
    The statement "their repentance shall not be accepted" could also be referring to the repentance that every soul makes at the time of death. But the repentance of that moment is of no worth (Hasan, Qatadah and Jiba'i: Alusi).

    خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا لَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمُ الْعَذَابُ وَلَا هُمْ يُنْظَرُونَ (88)

    3|88| They shall dwell in it forever. The chastisement shall not be lightened for them nor shall they be given respite.

    إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا مِنْ بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ وَأَصْلَحُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (89)

    3|89| Save for those who subsequently repented and made amends. Truly, Allah is very Forgiving, very Kind.

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بَعْدَ إِيمَانِهِمْ ثُمَّ ازْدَادُوا كُفْرًا لَنْ تُقْبَلَ تَوْبَتُهُمْ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الضَّالُّونَ (90)

    3|90| Indeed, those who reject the message after their belief and then increase in disbelief - never will their [claimed] repentance be accepted, and they are the ones astray.

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَمَاتُوا وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ فَلَنْ يُقْبَلَ مِنْ أَحَدِهِمْ مِلْءُ الْأَرْضِ ذَهَبًا وَلَوِ افْتَدَىٰ بِهِ ۗ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ وَمَا لَهُمْ مِنْ نَاصِرِينَ (91)

    3|91| Verily, those who disbelieved and died in the state of disbelief shall not have earthfull of gold accepted of any of them, even if he were to seek ransom thereby.146 For them will be a painful chastisement. And they shall have no helpers.147

    146. Anas b. Malik reports the Prophet:

    يُجَاءُ بِالْكَافِرِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَيُقَالُ لَهُ أَرَأَيْتَ لَوْ كَانَ لَكَ مِلْءُ الْأَرْضِ ذَهَبًا أَكُنْتَ تَفْتَدِي بِهِ فَيَقُولُ نَعَمْ فَيُقَالُ لَهُ قَدْ كُنْتَ سُئِلْتَ مَا هُوَ أَيْسَرُ مِنْ ذَلِكَ

    "An unbeliever will be brought forth on the Day of Judgment and asked: 'Do you think you would like to ransom yourself with an earth full of gold, were you to possess it?' He will reply, 'Yes, for sure.' It will be said, 'You were asked for something much simpler' (Ibn Jarir).
    The report is in Bukhari and Muslim (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    147. Sabuni writes: Thus the Qur'an divided the unbelievers into three types. First, those who repented and whose repentance bore fruit; they were spoken of in verse 89. Second, those who repented but with an insincere repentance; they were hinted at in verse 90. And third, those who did not repent at all and died on unbelief; they are spoken of in verse 91.
    The Connection: Verse 91 spoke of how a man's desire to spend an earth full of gold on the Day of Judgment will be of no avail. In these verses it is being said that now it is the time for man to spend in the way of Allah. Further, the best spending is that which is out of what is dear to man.
    148. The birr of the original is defined as giving someone his rights in full.

    لَنْ تَنَالُوا الْبِرَّ حَتَّىٰ تُنْفِقُوا مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ ۚ وَمَا تُنْفِقُوا مِنْ شَيْءٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ (92)

    3|92| You will never attain piety148 unless you expend of what is dear to you. And, whatever you expend,149 verily Allah is aware of it.150

    149. It is reported in Bukhari and Muslim that when this verse was revealed, `Umar came to the Prophet and said,

    يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنِّي أَصَبْتُ أَرْضًا بِخَيْبَرَ لَمْ أُصِبْ مَالًا قَطُّ أَنْفَسَ عِنْدِي مِنْهُ فَمَا تَأْمُرُ بِهِ قَالَ إِنْ شِئْتَ حَبَسْتَ أَصْلَهَا وَتَصَدَّقْتَ بِهَا قَالَ فَتَصَدَّقَ بِهَا عُمَرُ أَنَّهُ لَا يُبَاعُ وَلَا يُوهَبُ وَلَا يُورَثُ وَتَصَدَّقَ بِهَا فِي الْفُقَرَاءِ وَفِي الْقُرْبَى وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ وَالضَّيْفِ لَا جُنَاحَ عَلَى مَنْ وَلِيَهَا أَنْ يَأْكُلَ مِنْهَا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيُطْعِمَ غَيْرَ مُتَمَوِّلٍ

    "Messenger of Allah. I have obtained a piece of land in Khayber better than which I never obtained. What do you advise me about it?" The Prophet told him: "Keep the orchard with you but distribute its fruits among the poor.” Accordingly, ‘Umar declared that it should not be sold, gifted, nor inherited, rather, its produce should be spent on the poor, the kin, in releasing from debt, in the way of Allah, and on the guest. There shall be no sin upon him who looked after it that he should take for himself something reasonable and feed himself without excess (Ibn Kathir).
    It is also reported that when Jalula' was captured `Umar wrote to Abu Musa al Ash`ari to purchase a slave girl for him. When she arrived at Madinah she struck `Umar (because of her beauty: Kashshaf). `Umar recited this verse and freed her. It is also reported (in the Sahihayn: Ibn Kathir; also Tirmidhi and Nasa`i: Alusi) of Abu Talha that either when this verse was revealed or that of surah al Baqarah ("Who is it that will offer Allah a goodly loan, so that Allah may increase it manifold? - 2: 245"), he told the Prophet that his orchard at Bayruha was his donation to the cause of Allah. (It was adjacent to the mosque. Its water was sweet and fruits abundant. The Prophet occasionally visited Abu Talha there to be treated with its fruits: Ibn Kathir). The Prophet instructed him to distribute it among the poor of his kinsfolk. It is also reported that when this verse was revealed Zayd b. Haritha came to the Prophet with his horse called "Sayl" which was quite dear to him and said, "Messenger of Allah, this is my contribution in the way of Allah. The Prophet accepted it and gave it to his son Usama b. Zayd. Zayd ibn Haritha protested: "Messenger of Allah of God, I gave it in charity." The Prophet told him: "Allah accepted it as such" (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf, Razi, Qurtubi, Shawkani).
    It is also said that a man asked Abu Dharr about the most virtuous deed in Islam. Abu Dharr replied: "Prayers are the pillar of Islam. And jihad is the pinnacle of deeds. As for charity, well, it is really a wonderful thing." The man said, "You did not mention what at least to me is more virtuous." Abu Dharr asked him what it was. He said, "Fasts." Abu Dharr told him: "Very near it, but not belonging to the same category." Then he recited this verse (Ibn Jarir).
    It is also reported of Abu Dharr that he had guests. He told his shepherd, "Bring me the best of camels I have." When the man brought an old one, Abu Dharr told him: "You have not been honest to me!" The shepherd said: "True. I spotted the best of the camels, but I was reminded of the day when you will need it most and hence kept it back." Abu Dharr told him: "The day I'll need it most will be the day I will be lowered into the grave" (Kashshaf).
    Rashid Rida adds another incident to his Manar taken from "Ihya'" (of Ghazali): `Abdullah ibn Ja`far had the occasion to seek a night's rest in an orchard looked after by a boyish black salve. When the slave sat down for his dinner, a dog appeared at the door. He threw a piece of bread at him. Then another, and then another, until he had none. `Abdullah asked him what he earned every day. The young man said, 'What you have seen me throwing at the dog.' 'Why did you give away all of it?' he asked. 'Because,' said the boy, 'This place has no dogs. It looks like he came from a distance and so I did not like to turn him back disappointed.' `Abdullah asked him, 'And what are you going to do now?' The boy said, 'I think I'll fold myself up a little tonight.' `Abdullah was so impressed that he purchased the orchard and gifted it to the boy.
    However, what is meant, adds Kashshaf, is that one ought to spend a part of what is dear to him, and not necessarily all that is dear to him, (since moderation should never be lost sight of: Shafi`, and since the text has the word "min ma" added to it: Au.).
    150. Mufti Shafi` says that according to the majority of commentators, the implication is general, so that, all that will be included which one may expend in the way of Allah, whether by way of the obligatory charity, i.e., zakah, (to which Ibn `Abbas has referred in one of his statements: Au.), or general philanthropic measures. Further, the verse does not discourage spending off what is surplus.
    151. Wahidi has reported through Kalbi that when the Prophet (saws) said that he followed the religion of Ibrahim, the Jews objected: "How can you say that when you eat of the camel's flesh and drink its milk." The Prophet told them that these were not prohibited in the religion of Ibrahim. They said they were. Allah (swt) revealed this verse which meant to say that it was not unlawful in the Law of Ibrahim. It came to be prohibited later, so that many things that were permissible earlier were made unlawful to Israelites because of their rebellion as stated in another verse (4: 160, 161):

    فَبِظُلْمٍ مِنَ الَّذِينَ هَادُوا حَرَّمْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ طَيِّبَاتٍ أُحِلَّتْ لَهُمْ وَبِصَدِّهِمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ كَثِيرًا (160) وَأَخْذِهِمُ الرِّبَا وَقَدْ نُهُوا عَنْهُ وَأَكْلِهِمْ أَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ مِنْهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا [النساء : 160 ، 161]

    "And, We forbade those who had adopted Judaism good and wholesome things that were previously lawful unto them, because of their transgression, their hindering in the way of Allah, their acceptance of usury while it was forbidden to them and because of their devouring people's property. And We have prepared for the unbelievers in them a painful chastisement." (Alusi)
    According to Ibn `Abbas and Qatadah, (the report is in Hakim who declared it trustworthy: Alusi) all food was permissible to the Children of Israel. But as Israel (Ya`qub) was afflicted with a disease called irq al nasa' (sciatica), he vowed that if he was cured, he would stop consuming soups (according to some reports, camel meat and its milk products). When he was cured, he kept his word, that is, forbade himself these items. His followers also continued to shy away from these things until Allah revealed the Tawrah that cleared the situation by declaring what was lawful to them and what was unlawful. The Jews told Prophet Muhammad that Tawrah had declared unlawful unto the Children of Israel what Israel had declared unlawful unto himself (i.e. camel meat, its soup etc.). But Allah refuted them with this verse (Ibn Jarir).
    It is also reported that the Jews did not come back with Tawrah to argue their point (Kashshaf, Qurtubi).
    Razi adds that camel meat being dear to him, Ya`qub (asws) perhaps intended to suppress his carnal self by the vow.
    According to another version a group of Jews came to the Prophet to enquire what it was that Israel had made unlawful unto himself. The Prophet told them that it was camel meat and its soup which he happened to be fond of (Ibn Jarir). The full version of the hadith is in Tirmidhi (Qurtubi). Ibn Jarir also adds that until his time (350 A.H.) camel meat and its soup were taboo to the Jews.
    What the verses seem to be saying, maintains Ibn Kathir, is that there is nothing in new revelations that adds or deletes from the list of prohibitions. Marriage between real brothers and sisters was not incest at the time of Adam. A man marrying two real sisters at one time was not taboo which Ya`qub had done. Likewise, the meat of all animals was lawful at the time of Nuh. Therefore, what's strange in this new Prophet, Muhammad, to be declaring some things unlawful that were lawful in the Shari`ah of Musa, or vice versa, for the people of the Book to use it as a pretext to reject him? The same applies to the House of worship at Makkah. If the Jews and Christians treat true religion as originating from Ibrahim, then, is he not the one who built the Ka`bah? How can they refuse to accept the new Revelation?

    كُلُّ الطَّعَامِ كَانَ حِلًّا لِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِلَّا مَا حَرَّمَ إِسْرَائِيلُ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ تُنَزَّلَ التَّوْرَاةُ ۗ قُلْ فَأْتُوا بِالتَّوْرَاةِ فَاتْلُوهَا إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ (93)

    3|93| All food was lawful to the Children of Israel save for what Israel forbade unto himself before the revelation of Tawrah. Tell them, ‘Produce the Tawrah and recite it if you are true.’151

    فَمَنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ مِنْ بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ (94)

    3|94| Whoso fastens a lie upon Allah after this, such then are the transgressors.

    قُلْ صَدَقَ اللَّهُ ۗ فَاتَّبِعُوا مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ (95)

    3|95| Tell (them) 'Allah spoke the truth’, and follow the religion of Ibrahim, the upright, who was not of the polytheists.

    إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِلْعَالَمِينَ (96)

    3|96| Verily, the first House (of worship)152 appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah,153 Holy,154 and a guidance for the peoples.

    152. We have a hadith in this context:

    عَنْ أَبِي ذَرَ قَالَ: قُلْتُ: يَا رَسُولَ اللّهِ! أَيّ مَسْجِدٍ وُضِعَ فِي الأَرْضِ أَوّلُ؟ قَالَ: "الْمَسْجِدُ الْحَرَامُ" قُلْتُ: ثُمّ أَيّ؟ قَالَ: "الْمَسْجِدُ الأَقْصَىَ" قُلْتُ: كَمْ بَيْنَهُمَا؟ قَالَ: "أَرْبَعُونَ سَنَةً ".

    Abu Dharr enquired the Prophet about which house of worship was built first. He replied: "Masjid al Haram." "Which one after that?" asked Abu Dharr. He said: "Masjid al Aqsa." Abu Dharr asked: "What was the time gap?" "Forty years" the Prophet replied (Ibn Jarir, Razi).
    (The above hadith is in Muslim: Qurtubi; and in Bukhari: Ibn Kathir).
    Further, in view of a hadith in Nasa'i which says that Sulayman built the house of worship in Jerusalem (Masjid al Aqsa), and that, there was a long time gap between him and Ibrahim, it is probable that both the Houses were built earlier, and both reconstructed on old sites (Qurtubi).
    153. According to many authorities of the first and second generations, since linguistically "Bakkah" is for a place crowded by men and women, it is applicable to the area immediately around the Ka`bah, or what is within the inner precincts of the Masjid al Haram. As for what is outside of it, it is Makkah. Some others have explained Bakkah as Makkah (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Majid adds: "There is mention of a name of the valley of Baca in the Bible (Ps. 84: 6). The old translators gave the word the meaning of 'a valley of weeping,' but better sense seems to have come now. According to more recent of the Biblical scholars, the word 'signifies rather any valley lacking water' (JE. II, p. 415)."
    And, "'The sanctuary at Makkah possessed a worldwide fame, surpassing even that of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or St. Peter at Rome' (ERE. I. p. 667)."
    154. Razi comments: (The fact of the place being Holy has many aspects which can be explained variously. One aspect is that it bestows spiritual blessings upon those who orient themselves towards it, especially those who happen to be in close vicinity, whether visitors or permanent residents. The explanation is as follows: Au.). Imagine Ka`bah as a dot, like the dot at the center of a circle. Around this dot are concentric circles of devotees standing in rows after rows, (all over the world, at any time of the day: Alusi). Many of those who stand in these rows are men of heart and spirit whose whole attention is focused on Ka`bah. Thus, the Ka`bah is in constant spiritual focus of powerful personalities. Their spiritual attention converges on a single point: its center. Obviously, the hearts and spirits of those who are in similar postures, immediately around the Ka`bah, absorb these spiritual lights as they converge upon the Ka`bah and are positively affected by them.
    Thus Ka`bah becomes a means of guidance to the peoples of the world to which the rest of the verse alludes (Au.).

    فِيهِ آيَاتٌ بَيِّنَاتٌ مَقَامُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۖ وَمَنْ دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِنًا ۗ وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا ۚ وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِينَ (97)

    3|97| In it are signs manifest, and the Station of Ibrahim.155 Whosoever entered into it is in security.156 People who afford the passage to it,157 owe to Allah pilgrimage to the House. As for him who denies,158 (may know that) Allah is independent of the creations.

    155. The Station of Ibrahim, according to Qatadah and Mujahid, is one of the signs. The others are the Zam Zam spring, Ibrahim's foot marks on the stone he used to climb while constructing the house, the Black Stone, etc. (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    (It is generally believed that) the Haram or the Bayt al `Atiq, which is the mataf of the people of the earth, is right under the Bayt al Ma'mur which is the mataf of those in the heavens, that is, the House which those in the heavens circumambulate (Sabuni).
    See note 247, surah al Baqarah for explanation of the Station of Ibrahim.
    156. Accordingly, the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Ibn `Umar, Suddi and others, (also of Sha`bi and Imam Abu Hanifah: Razi, Qurtubi; and Imam Ahmad too: Rawa'e`), is that if a man commits murder and takes refuge in the haram, he should not be forced out until he surrenders. It is only after he voluntarily surrenders himself that he may be arrested, convicted, and punished. However, Ibn Zubayr, Mujahid and Hasan are of the opinion that he may be forced out and then arrested (Ibn Jarir). But the opinion of the Shafe`iyyah and Malikiyyah is that he might be arrested even inside the Haram (Rawa'e`).
    Zamakhshari, Razi and Qurtubi have pointed out that it could also mean that he who entered the haram in sincere devotion will be in peace from the Fire.
    157. The words "afford the passage" of the original has been interpreted by the Prophet, as quoted by Ibn `Umar, (and others, and in several hadith works: Ibn Kathir) as:
    "الزاد والراحلة"
    "Provision (for the journey), and the means of travel" (Ibn Jarir).
    Good health, safety of passage and some others are, adds Ibn Jarir, additional conditions; as it is also incumbent upon the pilgrim to arrange for provision for those dependent on him back home, says Qurtubi.
    A hadith preserved by Imam Ahmad and Muslim reports Abu Hurayrah as saying that one day the Prophet delivered a sermon during which he said:

    أَيّهَا النّاسُ قَدْ فَرَضَ اللّهُ عَلَيْكُمُ الْحَجّ فَحُجّوا" فَقَالَ رَجُلٌ: أَكُلّ عَامٍ؟ يَا رَسُولَ اللّهِ فَسَكَتَ. حَتّىَ قَالَهَا ثَلاَثاً. فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "لَوْ قُلْتُ: نَعَمْ. لَوَجَبَتْ. وَلَمَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ". ثُمّ قَالَ: "ذَرُونِي مَا تَرَكْتُكُمْ. فَإِنّمَا هَلَكَ مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ بِكَثْرَةِ سُؤَالِهِمْ وَاخْتِلاَفِهِمْ عَلَىَ أَنْبِيَائِهِمْ. فَإِذَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ فَأْتُوا مِنْهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ. وَإِذَا نَهَيْتُكُمْ عَنْ شَيْءٍ فَدَعُوهُ

    "People. Allah has declared Hajj obligatory on you. Therefore go to Hajj." A man got up and asked: "Is it an yearly obligation, O Messenger of Allah?" The Prophet kept silent until the man repeated his question three times. Finally he replied: "Were I to say yes, it would have become a yearly obligation on you and you would not have been able to do it." Then he added: "Let me alone until I leave you alone. Many nations before you were destroyed because of their excessive questioning and their disagreement with their Prophets. Therefore, when I order a thing, do it to the best of your ability; and when I forbid a thing, avoid it" (Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    158. That is, one who denies the obligatory nature of Hajj (Ibn Abbas, Dahhak, Hasan, Mujahid: Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). Accordingly, if one has the means and facilities but does not perform Hajj, he will be questioned about it (Razi). Further, the responsibility cannot be absolved by others making pilgrimage on his behalf (Qurtubi).
    This is in view of the hadith related by `Ali which reports the Prophet as having said:

    من ملك زاداً وراحلة ولم يحج بيت اللّه فلا يضره مات يهودياً أو نصرانياً

    "Whoever had provision and means of conveyance that will take him to the House of Allah, but did not make the pilgrimage, may die, for all we care, a Jew or a Christian" (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Razi).
    Ibn Kathir and Shanqiti point out that the above report is Da`if (weak), but Sahih as a statement of `Umar.
    `Umar also used to say, (according to a Sahih report in Suyuti) that he would all but strike Jizyah against those who do not perform Hajj (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Legal Points
    1. The great majority of jurists are of the opinion that Hajj can be delayed for reasons of convenience after it becomes obligatory, although it is advisable to perform it as soon as possible (Qurtubi).
    2. If a non-adult who has performed Hajj achieves maturity, and can afford the journey, Hajj is still obligatory on him (Qurtubi).
    3. If Hajj becomes obligatory on one who suffers from a disability of a permanent nature, for example extreme old age, then, according to `Ali, Thawri, Abu Hanifah, Ibn al Mubarak, Ahmad and Ishaq, he should send someone in his stead (Qurtubi).
    4. According to Imam Malik, if one has enough provision but does not posses a means of conveyance, Hajj is still obligatory on him, if he can walk up the distance. (Dahhak was of this opinion and when objected, he retorted that would a man to inherit someone in Makkah, go there at all cost to collect his share or not?). Conversely, if he has conveyance, but not provision, but is confident of earning it on the way (without having to beg the people), then too Hajj is binding on him (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi).
    5. As for a woman, according to the Hanafiyyah it is obligatory on her to travel in the company of a mahram or her husband. However, Shafe`iyyah and Hanabilah believe that a mahram is not a strict requirement, even if recommended, on the condition that she feels herself safe in the company of a group of women. However, this, according to them is for Hajj alone, and is not applicable to `Umrah which she must perform in the company of a mahram or husband (Rawa'e`).

    قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لِمَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ شَهِيدٌ عَلَىٰ مَا تَعْمَلُونَ (98)

    3|98| Say, 'O people of the Book! Why do you deny the signs of Allah, while Allah is witness to what you do?’

    قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لِمَ تَصُدُّونَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ مَنْ آمَنَ تَبْغُونَهَا عِوَجًا وَأَنْتُمْ شُهَدَاءُ ۗ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ (99)

    3|99| Say, 'O people of the Book! Why do you prevent those who believe from the way of Allah, seeking to make it crooked while you are witnesses (to its veracity)?159 And Allah is not unaware of what you do.’

    159. It is reported that Shas b. Qays, (some have named him Shammas) a very old Jew and a tough opponent of Islam, happened to pass by Muslims of Aws and Khazraj sitting around engaged in a happy gossip. He was reminded of the enmity between the two tribes in pre-Islamic times. He felt intensely envious. He sent a young poet to recite poems said in connection with Bu`ath, which was a fierce battle fought in pre Islamic times in which Aws had overcome Khazraj. With the recitation, men began to argue with each other over various events of the battle. That revived memories and opened old wounds. Quickly, swords were drawn and men lined up, with Aws on one side and Khazraj on the other, for a trial of strength. The news reached the Prophet. He rushed to the spot and appealed to them in words: "O Ansar. Allah! Allah! Will you respond to Jahilyy calls even while I am in your midst? Will you do that even after Allah has guided you to Islam, rid you of unbelief, and endeared you to each other? Are you going to return to the unbelief of pre Islamic times?" This cooled passions. They threw down their arms and began to weep. Then they embraced each other and left the spot in the company of the Prophet. Thereupon Allah revealed this and the following two verses (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Razi, Qurtubi).
    It could also be referring, adds Ibn Jarir, as is the opinion of Suddi, Qatadah and Hasan, to the misguidance that the Jewish rabbis used to cause by discouraging people from joining the ranks of the Prophet (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi).

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنْ تُطِيعُوا فَرِيقًا مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ يَرُدُّوكُمْ بَعْدَ إِيمَانِكُمْ كَافِرِينَ (100)

    3|100| O those who have believed! If you follow a set of those that were given the Book (earlier), they will surely turn you, after you have believed, into unbelievers.

    وَكَيْفَ تَكْفُرُونَ وَأَنْتُمْ تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتُ اللَّهِ وَفِيكُمْ رَسُولُهُ ۗ وَمَنْ يَعْتَصِمْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدْ هُدِيَ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ (101)

    3|101| And how can you disbelieve while Allah’s revelations are being recited unto you, and His Messenger is in your midst?160 And he who holds fast to Allah is surely guided to the straight path.161

    160. A report says that the Prophet asked his followers:

    "أي المؤمنين أعجب إليكم إيماناً؟" قالوا: الملائكة، قال: "وكيف لا يؤمنون والوحي ينزل عليهم"، قالوا: فنحن، قال: "وكيف لا تؤمنون وأنا بين أظهركم"، قالوا: فأي الناس أعجب إيماناً؟ قال: "قوم يجيئون من بعدكم يجدون صحفاً يؤمنون بما فيها".

    "What kind of believers sound remarkable to you?" They answered: "Angels." He said: "Why should they not believe when revelations are sent to them." They said: "Then we." He said: "Why should you not believe when I am in your midst?" They asked: "Then which of the believers are remarkable?" He said: "A people after you who will find the Revelation and believe in its contents" (Ibn Kathir).
    The report is from Hakim, Bazzar, Abu Ya`la and others, with some versions, in different words, in Ahmad, which, all put together, give strength to the hadith (Au.).
    161. Qatadah has said: As for the Qur'an, it is before you. As for the Prophet, his Sunnah is his substitute (Ibn Jarir, Razi Qurtubi).
    "And the point is," adds Majid, "that there is no earthly reason for anyone to go back to irreligion so long as the Qur'an and Sunnah are in existence."

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ (102)

    3|102| Believers! Fear Allah162 in the manner He ought to be feared,163 and die not save as Muslims.164

    162. The word in the original is a derivation from the root waqa which is used for guarding oneself, shielding, or safeguarding. The adjective taqwa has been derived from this as the root. It therefore carries the same connotations (in addition to denoting piety, godliness etc.: Au.). Now, since the above meaning implies fear, as it is out of fear that one tries to safeguard oneself from something, and, since a suitable term does not exist in other languages, the word taqwa is commonly rendered and understood as fear. However, it primarily means to guard oneself from breaking Allah's bounds out of fear of His wrath. It has at least three levels. One, to desist from ascribing partners or equals unto Allah; second, to avoid doing everything that will evoke His anger and third, which is really the share of only the Prophets and the awliya', to empty one's heart of all that is "apart from Allah" and to put it on a permanent course of "His remembrance" (Shafi`).
    163. What is the implication of, "the manner He ought to be feared?" It is, according to Ibn Mas`ud’s report (in of Hakim who declares it Sahih: Shawkani),

    أن يطاع فلا يعصى، ويشكر فلا يكفر، ويذكر فلا ينسى

    “Obeyed and not disobeyed, thanked and not denied, remembered and not forgotten (Zamakhshari, Razi, Alusi). But Ibn Kathir thinks that the above is a statement of Ibn Mas`ud.
    According to another report, "that He may be obeyed and not disobeyed, thanked and not denied," (without the last part of the above report) – in a hadith which has been evaluated by Hakim as Sahih (Shawkani).
    Qatadah, Rabi`, Suddi and Ibn Zayd, however, say that the verse is abrogated by that of surah al Taghabun verse 16 which says: "So fear Allah, to the extent possible" (Ibn Jarir). But some say that the meaning of the words, "the manner He ought to be feared," is that He should be feared to the extent possible; and hence there is no abrogation. Ibn `Abbas' statement strengthens it who said that this is not abrogated, rather, "the manner He ought to be feared" is to struggle in Allah's cause to the best of one's ability, not to be discouraged by the criticism of the critics, and to judge rightfully, even if it goes against one's kinsfolk (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    A tradition in Tirmidhi, Nasa'i, Ibn Hibban, and Hakim, who has declared the narration Sahih on the criteria of Bukhari and Muslim, related by Ibn `Abbas reports

    عن ابنِ عَبَاسٍ أَنّ رَسُولَ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قَرَأَ هَذِهِ الاَيَةَ: {اتَقوا الله حَقّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنّ إِلاّ وَأَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ} قال رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "لَوْ أَنّ قَطْرَةً مِنَ الزّقُومِ قُطِرَتْ في دَارِ الدّنْيَا لأَفْسَدَتْ عَلَى اهْلِ الدّنْيَا مَعَايِشَهُمْ، فَكَيْفَ بِمَنْ يَكُونُ طَعَامُهُ".

    The Prophet recited this verse, “Fear Allah in the manner He ought to be feared, and die not save as Muslims,” and then added, “If a drop of Zaqqum was dropped on to the earth, it would destroy the livelihood of the peoples of the world. So what do you think of him whose food will be nothing but Zaqqum?" (Ibn Kathir).
    164. Accordingly, `Abdullah ibn `Amr reports the Prophet in a hadith of Ahmad as having said:

    فَمَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يُزَحْزَحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَيَدْخُلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَلْتُدْرِكْهُ مَنِيَّتُهُ وَهُوَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَيَأْتِى إِلَى النَّاسِ مَا يُحِبُّ أَنْ يُؤْتَى إِلَيْهِ

    "Whoever wants to save himself from the Fire and enter Paradise, may die not but in the state of faith in Allah. And let him deal with the people in the manner he would like to be dealt with himself."
    In another report, also of Ahmad, Jabir says he heard the Prophet say three times before his death:

    لاَ يَمُوتَنَّ أَحَدٌ مِنْكُمْ إِلاَّ وَهُوَ يُحْسِنُ الظَّنَّ بِاللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ

    "Let not one of you die but on hopeful terms with Allah, the Powerful, the Honored."
    Abu Hurayrah has reported him in another hadith of Ahmad in words:

    عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ قَالَ أَنَا عِنْدَ ظَنِّ عَبْدِي بِي إِنْ ظَنَّ بِي خَيْرًا فَلَهُ وَإِنْ ظَنَّ شَرًّا فَلَهُ

    "Allah says, ‘I am with the faith and trust of My bondsman with Me. If he expects good from Me, then that is for him. But if he expects evil of Me, then that is for him.'" This hadith can also be found with the Sheikhayn with varying words (Ibn Kathir).
    In other words, what's meant is that a believer should die not but in a state of surrender of the heart (Alusi). That is, the accent is on the condition of the heart rather than on deeds (Au.).
    For further commentaries refer note 167 of surah al Baqarah.

    وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنْتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُمْ بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنْتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِنَ النَّارِ فَأَنْقَذَكُمْ مِنْهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ (103)

    3|103| Hold fast unto the Rope of Allah together,165 and divide not yourselves.166 And remember Allah’s favor unto you when you were enemies167 He joined your hearts in love168 so that by His grace you became brothers.169 And you were at the edge of the pit of Fire,170 but He rescued you from it.171 Thus does Allah make clear His revelations for you, haply you may be guided.

    165. According to Ibn Mas`ud, the habl of the original is the jama`ah (the community of Muslims); but to Ibn `Abbas thought that it is the "covenant." However, according to Qatadah, Suddi, Dahhak and, according to some reports, Ibn Mas`ud himself, it is the Qur'an. Their opinion seems to be based on a hadith (termed as Hasan in Jami` Saghir: Manar) in which the Prophet (saws) said:

    كتاب الله، هو حبل الله الممدود من السماء إلى الأرض

    "The Book of Allah: It is the Rope of Allah that has been extended down from the heavens to the earth” (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Razi comments: Since the path that believers are required to take is a very narrow one, the likelihood of a person slipping away always remains high, except in case of him who holds a rope that runs across. This rope then, in view of the above, can be variously explained as (remaining true to the) covenant, or, the Qur'an, or the jama`ah (since the Ummah has been assured of not swerving off the path as a whole: Au.). Accordingly, it is reported of `Ali that the Prophet said:

    إِنَّهَا سَتَكُونُ فِتْنَةٌ ، قَالَ : قُلْتُ : فَمَا الْمَخْرَجُ مِنْهَا رَسُولَ اللهِ ؟ قَالَ : كِتَابُ اللهِ فِيهِ نَبَأُ مَا قَبْلَكُمْ وَخَبَرُ مَا بَعْدَكُمْ وَحُكْمُ مَا بَيْنَكُمْ ، هُوَ الْفَصْلُ لَيْسَ بِالْهَزْلِ ، مَنْ يَرُدَّهُ مِنْ جَبَّارٍ قَصَمَهُ اللَّهُ ، وَمَنِ ابْتَغَى الْهُدَى فِي غَيْرِهِ ، أَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ ، هُوَ حَبْلُ اللهِ الْمَتِينُ

    "Soon there are going to be trials and tribulations." I asked, "What's the way out, Messenger of Allah?" He said, "The Book of Allah. It has the news of those that were before you as well as of those that will come after you. It is the judge in your affairs. It is the deciding factor, no plaything. Whoever rejected it out of contumely, will be broken by Allah; whoever sought guidance from apart of it, will be misguide by Allah; it is Allah's Firm Rope" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Kathir points out that perhaps this is `Ali’s statement.
    Mufti Shafi` remarks: Now, a black man cannot become white, an Arab cannot become non Arab. Geographical, national, racial, cultural and linguistic considerations cannot unite people. Rather, these are the very dividing factors. Therefore, it is meaningful that Allah mentioned the adhering to His Rope the Qur'an and Sunnah before exhorting the Muslims to beware of divisions. When we speak of the unity of ranks, we know that it cannot be obtained without the unity of ideas, belief, and purposes. That will come from the Qur'an and Sunnah. It is only when we hold fast unto them, accepting them as the sole criteria, guide and judge, that the much sought after unity of ranks (of which 'unity of action' is a necessary corollary: Au.), will be achieved. Every other method will fail miserably (abridged).
    166. Ibn Mas`ud has been reported as saying: "People, hold fast unto obedience and unto the jama`ah, for it is the Rope that Allah spoke of. And what you dislike of the obedience and the jama`ah is better than what you would like in separation." The Prophet has said (in a hadith of Tirmidhi which he termed Sahih: Qurtubi and Alusi from Abu Da'ud, Ibn Majah and Hakim, the last mentioned declaring it trustworthy: Shawkani),
    وَإِنّ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ تَفَرّقَتْ عَلَى ثِنْتَيْنِ وَسَبْعِينَ مِلّةً، وَتَفْتَرِقُ أُمّتِي عَلَى ثَلاَثٍ وَسَبْعِينَ مِلّةً كُلّهُمْ فِي النّارِ إِلاّ مِلّةً وَاحِدَةً، قَالَ ومَنْ هِيَ يَا رَسُولَ الله؟ قَالَ: مَا أَنَا عَلَيْهِ وَأَصْحَابِي
    "Verily the Children of Israel divided themselves into seventy two sects. My followers will divide themselves into seventy three sects, all of them would be in the Fire except one." He was asked, "Who will they be, Messenger of Allah?" He answered, "That upon which I and my Companions are" (Razi).
    Ibn Kathir adds his remark that the hadith is Hasan Gharib and reports that the Prophet also said in a report of Muslim:

    "إنّ اللّهَ يَرْضَىَ لَكُمْ ثَلاَثاً وَيَكْرَهُ لَكُمْ ثَلاَثاً فَيَرْضَىَ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَعْبُدُوهُ وَلاَ تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئاً، وَأَنْ تَعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللّهِ جَمِيعاً وَلاَ تَفَرّقُوا، وَيَكْرَهُ لَكُمْ قِيلَ وَقَالَ، وَكَثْرَةَ السّؤَالِ. وَإضَاعَةَ الْمَالِ".

    "Allah approves of three things and disapproves of three. The three things He approves are that you worship Him, ascribe no partners unto Him and hold fast unto the Rope of Allah instead of dividing yourselves. And He disapproves of three: Qil wa qal (lit.: 'this was said and that was said'), asking too many questions, and squandering of wealth." (The allusion by "qil wa qal" is to pointless argumentation in which unknown references are cited, and by "asking too many questions" is meant seeking out unnecessary details about what is halal and what is haram: Au.) – Qurtubi.
    Nevertheless, this does not rule out differences of opinions in the details of things, nor seeking them is forbidden. (That was primarily forbidden during the Prophet's time: Au.). In our times, there is no escape from them especially in judicial matters. Also, they are not differences that lead to division. (It is the following of one's base desires, and whims of the heart that do. Remaining adhered to the Qur'an and Sunnah, one can differ in details: Shafi`). The Companions too differed in their opinions, yet they remained on terms of great love with each other. Such differences of opinion alone are discouraged that lead to the loss of love and trust (Qurtubi).
    Indeed, adds Sheikh `Abduh, such divisions are natural as Allah said (11: 118,119):

    وَلَوْ شَاءَ رَبُّكَ لَجَعَلَ النَّاسَ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَا يَزَالُونَ مُخْتَلِفِينَ (118) إِلَّا مَنْ رَحِمَ رَبُّكَ وَلِذَلِكَ خَلَقَهُمْ [هود : 118 ، 119]

    "Had Allah wished, He could have made the people a single community. They have always remained differing with each other; except him He showed mercy. That is how He has created them."
    But their differences ought to be of the type as that occurs between brothers of a family. This is how it was with the Salaf al Saleh (the righteous predecessors). For example, Imam Malik who was from Madinah, and Imam Abu Hanifah who was based in Iraq, differed on many issues. But that did not affect their relationship which remained rooted in love, trust and respect for each other. Their followers, unfortunately, followed them in juristic details, but not in their exemplary lives. As a community, Muslims ought to be like a leaded wall following the famous hadith of Muslim quoted by Nu`man b. Bashir:

    مَثَلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ فِي تَوَادّهِمْ وَتَرَاحُمِهِمْ وَتَعَاطُفِهِمْ، مَثَلُ الْجَسَدِ. إِذَا اشْتَكَىَ مِنْهُ عُضْوٌ، تَدَاعَىَ لَهُ سَائِرُ الْجَسَدِ بِالسّهَرِ وَالْحُمّىَ

    "The example of the Muslims in their love, kindness and tenderness towards each other is that of the body itself, of which if one member suffers an ailment, the rest of them rally around in support with sleeplessness and fever" (Manar).
    At this point Qurtubi lists down six major sects in Islam that later divided themselves into 12 sub groups each. He names each of these seventy-two sub groups and their main points of differences with the general body of the Ummah, and adds that all those who will separate out to form a new sect in the future, will ultimately join up and could be classified with one of them. The six main sects are: "Al Harouriyyah [or Khawarij: Au.], (of whom Mu`tazilah are but one sub sect), Al Qadriyyah, Al Jahmiyyah (Zanadiqah is a sub sect of this group), Al Murji'ah, Al Rafidah (of which the Shi`ah, the `Alawiyyah etc. are but sub sects), and Al Jabriyyah.
    Muhammad `Abduh had said: In our times, the Westerners, after having divided themselves on the basis of race, have also influenced us and there is a tendency to look at Muslims as of different nationalities. This is something that needs to be strongly condemned and resisted.
    167. The allusion is to the incident that took place at the provocation of Shas b. Qays (Ibn Kathir, Shawkani).
    Refer note 159 of this surah.
    Majid remarks: "Internecine warfare in pre Islamic Arabia has been proverbial and pagan Arabia, divided into mutually hostile clans and tribes, very much after the fashion of modern European states, presented the sight of a veritable armed camp. 'Of the time of ignorance which preceded Mohamet, seventeen hundred battles are recorded by tradition: hostility was embittered with the rancor of civil faction; and the recital, in prose or verse, of an obsolete feud was sufficient to rekindle the same passions among the descendants of the hostile tribes. In private life, every man, at the best every family was the judge and avenger of its own cause." (GRE V, p.323)
    168. Hence, every man whose objectives are this worldly alone, will be at odds with the people. In contrast, everyone whose aim is to serve Allah, will have no grudge against anyone. The secret of this is that his eyes move up from the created to the Creator, as he realizes that all are bound by His Qada' and Qadr. He considers it pointless to be angry with the people. It is said that the Gnostic will always be soft (towards the people) and will admonish them. He will neither be harsh with them nor blame them for his perception is through the secrets of the Qada' (Razi).
    169. Majid quotes P. K. Hitti: "Within a brief span of mortal life Muhammad called forth out of uncompromising material a nation never united before, in a country that was hitherto but a geographical expression" (History of the Arabs, p. 121, 122).
    170. In the words, "at the edge of the pit" is the implication that that's the distance between life and death. One step forward, and that's the end of life, after which it is the pit of Fire (Razi).
    171. Qatadah is reported to have said in explanation of these words: "The pre Islamic Arabs were the most despised of people, leading a hard life, whose misguidance was evident: bodies naked, stomachs unfed and heads bent down between two rocks the Romans and the Persians. By Allah, there wasn't anything in their lands that they could be envied of. Whoever of them lived, led a miserable life; whoever died, entered the Ffire. Fed, but unable to feed. By Allah, we do not know a people on earth who were of resources as little as theirs, and a people as despicable as they. This was the situation until Allah sent Islam, gave you the Book, sanctioned jihad, provided you sustenance by means of it, appointed you leaders over the people, and all that you see now. Therefore, give thanks to Him for His favors, for your Lord is the Bestower who approves of the thanks giving. Exalted is our Lord, and Holy" (Ibn Jarir).
    This is a reminder especially to the people of Aws and Khazraj, who had fought between themselves a 120 year long war before the arrival of the Prophet, that if not for Allah they would not have found guidance. Weren't the Jewish scholars concealing the guidance from them all along? (Ibn Jarir).

    وَلْتَكُنْ مِنْكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ ۚ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ (104)

    3|104| And172 let there be a group of people among you173 inviting to virtue,174 enjoining the good and forbidding the evil.175 Such indeed are the prosperers.

    172. It may be noted that in the earlier verses Allah censured the unbelievers for two things, first, their disbelief (verse 97): "Say, 'O people of the Book! Why do you deny the signs of Allah, while Allah is witness to what you do?'" And second, their efforts to spread unbelief and distort the truth (verse 98): "Say, 'O people of the Book! Why do you prevent those who believe from the way of Allah, seeking to make it crooked while you are witnesses (to its veracity)?'" Therefore, when He followed it up with an address to the believers, He exhorted them, in contrast to the unbelievers, with two things: one, belief in Him and fear of Him (verses 102, 103), and two, spread of faith and virtue (verses 104, 105) Razi.
    173. The min of this occurrence (in minkum) is for tab`id (that is, "portioning", or "separating." It carries the sense of "some," rather than all). This is because al amr bi 'l ma`ruf and al nahyu `an 'l munkar is a conditional obligation and is not for him who has not understood what ma`aruf and munkar are; and, therefore, does not know how to go about the work. It might happen in the case of an ignorant man that he will enjoin the munkar and forbid the ma`ruf, or might know the ruling of his own school of thought but not that of others and might end up trying to forbid what is not munkar. Or, he might be harsh where he should be mild and mild where he should be harsh. Or, he might go about preaching him preaching whom will cause nothing but increase in obduracy (Razi).

    Al amr bi ‘l ma`ruf wa ‘l nahyu `an ‘l munkar
    As for the status of the act of enjoining virtue (whether it is in itself obligatory or supererogatory), it depends on what is being enjoined. If it is an obligatory act (such as salah, zakah: Au.), its enjoining is wajib, but if it is a non obligatory act (such as a Sunnah: Au.) then the enjoining is also non obligatory. However, forbidding evil is always obligatory since evil is always reprehensible. ... Yet, everyone should enjoin and forbid including someone who is himself a victim of an evil, for it is an obligation on a man to give up the evil as it is an obligation on him that he forbid it. So let him not neglect one because of the other. In fact it is reported of the scholars that they said, 'Enjoin what is good, even if you do not practice it.' It is reported of Hasan (al-Basri) that he heard Mutarrif b. `Abdullah say, 'I do not say what I cannot do.' Hasan told him, 'Which of us does what he says? If we follow this rule Shaytan will be victorious, for there will be no enjoining and no forbidding.'
    Hudhayfah has said, 'A time will come when a donkey's carrion will be dearer to men than someone enjoining good and forbidding evil.' And Sufyan Thawri has said that if a man is popular with his neighbors and friends, you can be sure that he is negligent of al amr bi 'l ma`ruf and al nahyu `an 'l munkar.
    Now, if it is asked how is it that we are required to "call to virtue" as well as "enjoin what is good?" the answer is, calling to virtue is something of a general nature (that all are required to attempt); but al amr bi 'l ma`ruf is of a particular nature and over and above the call to virtue which not everyone can perform. Hence they have been separated out (Kashshaf and Razi with the order of the statements altered: Au.).
    Imam Razi says that although it is possible that the min of the minkum is for tab`id and although it seems to be the weightier opinion the min in it could also be for tab yin (that is, clarification and elucidation). If that is accepted, then it would imply that every individual of the Ummah is obliged to discharge al amr bi 'l ma`ruf and al nahyu `an 'l munkar: either with his hands, tongue, or the heart. In that case the verse would mean: "be a nation that invites to virtue..."
    Ibn Kathir says that although the verse has both the connotations in it, that is, while it is fard kifayah on the Ummah, it is fard `ayn on every individual, although conditionally. That is, it is obligatory to the extent of a person’s knowledge, power and ability. We have a hadith of Muslim which says:

    مَنْ رَأَى مِنْكُمْ مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُغَيِّرْهُ بِيَدِهِ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الإِيمَانِ

    "When one of you sees a reprehensible thing, let him change it with his hands; if he cannot, then with his tongue; if he cannot, then let him disown it with his heart. And this is the lowest level of faith."
    Another hadith, of Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, says:

    "وَالّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَتَأْمُرُنّ بالمَعْرُوفِ وَلَتَنْهَوُنّ عَنِ المُنْكَرِ أو لَيُوشِكَنّ الله أَنْ يَبْعَثَ عَلَيْكُمْ عِقَاباً مِنْهُ ثُمَ تَدْعُونَهُ فَلا يَسْتَجِيبُ لَكُمْ".‏

    "By Him in whose hands is my life, you will either enjoin virtue, prevent vice, or, it is possible that Allah sends down upon you one of His scourges, after which you supplicate to Him, but are not answered."
    This is also the opinion of Sheikh `Abduh who says that the minimum that a Muslim can do is to invite the people to the Qur'an and Sunnah, of which no Muslim can have an excuse to be ignorant (Manar).
    Rashid Rida has at this point thoroughly dealt with various aspects of the work of al amr bi 'l ma`ruf and al nahyu `an 'l munkar, as dealt by Muhammad `Abduh. It runs into several pages that is worth reading. We reproduce a single point here. Muhammad `Abduh says that just as it is essential for the common people to invite each other to what is good and virtuous, and for the scholars to educate and train the masses in knowledge and wisdom of the Shari`ah, the entire Muslim Ummah ought to shoulder the responsibility of inviting non Muslim peoples to Islam. It should become the Ummah al Da`wah, treating it as its main task that is to be kept uppermost in the minds while dealing with other nations of the world.
    174. The khayr of the original alludes to Islam and its teachings (Ibn Jarir).
    175. Majid comments: "Thus the Muslims are the creators, preservers and custodians of moral order in God's universe, i.e., His policemen on the earth." (Then he quotes Asad from his "Islam at the Crossroads", pp. 27 28): 'This is the moral justification of the aggressive activism of Islam, the justification of the early Islamic conquests and its so called "Imperialism" ... Moral knowledge, according to the teachings of Islam, automatically forces a moral responsibility upon men. A mere Platonic discernment between Right and Wrong, without the urge to promote the Right and to destroy the Wrong is a gross immorality in itself. In Islam, morality lives and dies with the human endeavor to establish its victory upon earth.'

    وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ تَفَرَّقُوا وَاخْتَلَفُوا مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ ۚ وَأُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ (105)

    3|105| And be not like those who divided themselves and disputed after clear signs had reached them. For such indeed is a mighty chastisement.

    يَوْمَ تَبْيَضُّ وُجُوهٌ وَتَسْوَدُّ وُجُوهٌ ۚ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ اسْوَدَّتْ وُجُوهُهُمْ أَكَفَرْتُمْ بَعْدَ إِيمَانِكُمْ فَذُوقُوا الْعَذَابَ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَكْفُرُونَ (106)

    3|106| The Day some faces 'will brighten up while some faces darken up.176 Then, as for those whose faces will be dark, 'Did you revert to disbelief after your faith?177 Taste then, the punishment today for what you were denying.’

    176. Although the application is general, Ibn `Abbas said that it is the ahl al Sunnah wa al Jama`ah whose faces shall be bright, and the ahl al bid`ah (the innovators) whose faces shall turn dark on the Day of Judgment. According to Abu Umamah however, the verse was specifically applicable to the Khawarij. Tirmidhi has reported the following hadith declaring it Hasan. He (Abu Umamah) saw heads of the Khawarij displayed at the stairs of the Damascus mosque and said:

    كِلاَبُ النّارِ شَرّ قَتْلَى تَحْتَ أدِيمِ السّمَاءِ خَيْرُ قَتْلَى مَنْ قَتَلُوهُ، ثمّ قَرَأَ: {يَوْمَ تَبْيَضّ وُجُوهٌ وَتَسْوَدّ وُجُوهٌ} إلَى آخِرِ الاَيَةِ. قُلْتُ لأبِي أُمَامَةَ: أنْتَ سمِعْتَهُ مِنْ رَسُولِ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم؟ قالَ: لَوْ لَمْ أسْمَعْهُ إلاّ مَرّةً أوْ مَرّتَيْنِ أوْ ثَلاَثاً أوْ أرْبَعَا حَتّى عَدّ سَبْعاً مَا حَدّثْتُكُمُوهُ

    "The dogs of fire. The worst of those under the sky that were ever killed, and the best of killers those who killed them." Then he recited this verse. Abu Ghalib, the narrator, says I asked him, "Did you hear this from the Prophet (or it is your opinion)?" He replied, "Had I not heard from him once, or twice, thrice or four times, (until he counted up to seven), I would not have narrated it to you " (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    177. There are three opinions about who is meant by "those who reverted to disbelief after their faith." First, those who apostatized after the Prophet; second, hypocrites; and third, the progeny of Adam which did not remain on the original faith: those who had borne witness and had said (7: 172): "Indeed we bear witness." The third category seems to be the most likely one (Ibn Jarir).
    Shabbir sums up the opinion of the ahl 'l Sunnah wa 'l-Jama`ah concerning Muslims who fail to live by Islam. How should the verse be applied to them? He states: It is possible for the innovators in the religion of Islam to claim that they are Muslims, that they follow the Qur'an and Sunnah, and that they believe in the Prophet as a Messenger of Allah. Yet, and notwithstanding that, when they, after their claim to faith, add innumerable false elements to the Din and the Shari`ah, or deny certain essentials of Islam, then, in a way, it can be also asked of them, 'Have you reverted to disbelief after your faith?' Nevertheless, if it is the fussaq whose basic beliefs may be right but whose deeds are otherwise ... if such are assumed to be addressed by the verse, then the meaning would be, 'Why did you, then, after your belief in Islam, lead a life similar to those of the unbelievers?' (The cautious phrasing is worth noting: Au.).

    وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ ابْيَضَّتْ وُجُوهُهُمْ فَفِي رَحْمَةِ اللَّهِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ (107)

    3|107| As for those whose faces will be bright, they shall be in the mercy of Allah, abiding therein forever.

    تِلْكَ آيَاتُ اللَّهِ نَتْلُوهَا عَلَيْكَ بِالْحَقِّ ۗ وَمَا اللَّهُ يُرِيدُ ظُلْمًا لِلْعَالَمِينَ (108)

    3|108| These are the revelations of Allah that We recite unto you in truth. And Allah intends not a wrong unto the worlds.

    وَلِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ تُرْجَعُ الْأُمُورُ (109)

    3|109| And to Allah belong all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth; and to Him are returned all affairs.

    كُنْتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ ۗ وَلَوْ آمَنَ أَهْلُ الْكِتَابِ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُمْ ۚ مِنْهُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَأَكْثَرُهُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ (110)

    3|110| You are the best of communities that has been raised up for mankind: You enjoin the good, forbid the evil, and believe in Allah.178 Had the people of the Book believed, surely, it would have been better for them. Of them some are believers, while the great majority are perverted transgressors.

    178. A report in Hakim with the approval of Dhahabi says that Abu Hurayrah said:

    كنتم خير أمة أخرجت للناس" قال: تجرون الناس بالسلاسل إلى الإسلام

    "You re the best of nations who bring people bound in chains and make them enter into Islam." (That is you engage in jihad, subdue the people, who, ultimately, exposed to Islam, embrace the faith: Au.). This is also the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Atiyyah, Al `Awfi, `Ikrimah, `Ata' and Rabi` b. Anas (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Khayr 'l Umam
    According to `Umar ibn al Khattab, Ibn `Abbas, and Suddi, the verse is applicable, specifically, to the earliest of the believers in Islam, that is, the earliest Companions, and then, generally, to whomsoever of the later generations that met with the conditions stated herein and dealt with life and situations in the manner they dealt with. Hasan has said however, and he seems to be right, that the entire Muslim Ummah is covered by the statement. This is based on a hadith of the Prophet in which he said:

    إِنَّكُمْ تُوَفُّونَ سَبْعِينَ أُمَّةً أَنْتُمْ خَيْرُهَا وَأَكْرَمُهَا عَلَى اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ

    "You are the seventieth community, the last, the best, and the most honorable of them in the sight of Allah" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    The above report has been declared Hasan (Au.).
    According to a hadith in Musnad of Hasan isnad the Prophet said as reported by `Ali ibn Abi Talib,

    « أُعْطِيتُ مَا لَمْ يُعْطَ أَحَدٌ مِنَ الأَنْبِيَاءِ ». فَقُلْنَا : مَا هُوَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ؟ فَقَالَ :« نُصِرْتُ بِالرُّعْبِ ، وَأُعْطِيتُ مَفَاتِيحَ الأَرْضِ ، وَسُمِّيْتُ أَحْمَدَ ، وَجُعِلَ لِى التُّرَابُ طَهُورًا ، وَجُعِلَتْ أُمَّتِى خَيْرَ الأُمَمِ »

    "I have been granted certain things that no Prophet was granted earlier: I have been aided by fright (ru`b), I have been given the keys of the earth, I've been named Ahmad, dust has been declared pure for me and my Ummah has been declared the best of the Umam."
    According to another hadith of Ahmad, of trustworthy narrators, reported by Shurayh b. `Abidah, Thawban,

    قال شريح بن عبيد مرض ثوبان بحمص وعليها عبد الله بن قرط الأزدي فلم يعده فدخل على ثوبان رجل من الكلاعيين عائداً فقال له ثوبان: أتكتب فقال: نعم فقال: اكتب فكتب للأمين عبد الله بن قرط من ثوبان مولى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أما بعد فإنه لو كان لموسى وعيسى مولى بحضرتك لعدته ثم طوى الكتاب وقال له: أتبلغه إياه فقال: نعم فانطلق الرجل بكتابه فدفعه إلى ابن قرط فلما قرأه قام فزعاً فقال الناس ما شأنه أحدث أمر فأتى ثوبان حتى دخل عليه فعاده وجلس عنده ساعة ثم قام فأخذ ثوبان بردائه وقال: اجلس حتى أحدثك حديثاً سمعته من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم سمعته يقول: ليدخلن الجنة من أمتي سبعون ألفاً لا حساب عليهم ولا عذاب مع كل ألف سبعون ألفا

    The Prophet's attendant Thawban fell ill in Hims those days when `Abdullah b. Qurt al Azdi was its Governor. When someone visited Thawban, he asked him whether he knew how to write. When he said yes, he dictated him a letter for Ibn Qurt in which he said: 'Were a man who had served Musa and `Isa to be with you, surely you would have visited him.' When Ibn Qurt received that letter, he jumped to the fright of the people around him. He went straight to Thawban and sat with him for an hour. When he rose up to leave, Thawban pulled him by his clothes saying, 'Sit down. I've a hadith to narrate.' Then he said, 'I have heard the Prophet say: "Seventy thousand of my people shall enter Paradise without going through the reckoning, with every thousand of them accompanied by seventy thousand."'
    The above report is termed Sahih li Ghayrihi by Shu`ayb al-Arna’ut (Au.).
    A third hadith is also from Ahmad, and also of good isnad, of Ibn Mas`ud. It says:

    عَنِ ابْنِ مَسْعُودٍ قَالَ أَكْثَرْنَا الْحَدِيثَ عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ذَاتَ لَيْلَةٍ ثُمَّ غَدَوْنَا إِلَيْهِ فَقَالَ عُرِضَتْ عَلَيَّ الْأَنْبِيَاءُ اللَّيْلَةَ بِأُمَمِهَا فَجَعَلَ النَّبِيُّ يَمُرُّ وَمَعَهُ الثَّلَاثَةُ وَالنَّبِيُّ وَمَعَهُ الْعِصَابَةُ وَالنَّبِيُّ وَمَعَهُ النَّفَرُ وَالنَّبِيُّ لَيْسَ مَعَهُ أَحَدٌ حَتَّى مَرَّ عَلَيَّ مُوسَى مَعَهُ كَبْكَبَةٌ مِنْ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ فَأَعْجَبُونِي فَقُلْتُ مَنْ هَؤُلَاءِ فَقِيلَ لِي هَذَا أَخُوكَ مُوسَى مَعَهُ بَنُو إِسْرَائِيلَ قَالَ قُلْتُ فَأَيْنَ أُمَّتِي فَقِيلَ لِيَ انْظُرْ عَنْ يَمِينِكَ فَنَظَرْتُ فَإِذَا الظِّرَابُ قَدْ سُدَّ بِوُجُوهِ الرِّجَالِ ثُمَّ قِيلَ لِيَ انْظُرْ عَنْ يَسَارِكَ فَنَظَرْتُ فَإِذَا الْأُفُقُ قَدْ سُدَّ بِوُجُوهِ الرِّجَالِ فَقِيلَ لِي أَرَضِيتَ فَقُلْتُ رَضِيتُ يَا رَبِّ رَضِيتُ يَا رَبِّ قَالَ فَقِيلَ لِي إِنَّ مَعَ هَؤُلَاءِ سَبْعِينَ أَلْفًا يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِدًا لَكُمْ أَبِي وَأُمِّي إِنْ اسْتَطَعْتُمْ أَنْ تَكُونُوا مِنْ السَّبْعِينَ الْأَلْفِ فَافْعَلُوا فَإِنْ قَصَّرْتُمْ فَكُونُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الظِّرَابِ فَإِنْ قَصَّرْتُمْ فَكُونُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْأُفُقِ فَإِنِّي قَدْ رَأَيْتُ ثَمَّ نَاسًا يَتَهَاوَشُونَ فَقَامَ عُكَّاشَةُ بْنُ مِحْصَنٍ فَقَالَ ادْعُ اللَّهَ لِي يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَنْ يَجْعَلَنِي مِنْ السَّبْعِينَ فَدَعَا لَهُ فَقَامَ رَجُلٌ آخَرُ فَقَالَ ادْعُ اللَّهَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَنْ يَجْعَلَنِي مِنْهُمْ فَقَالَ قَدْ سَبَقَكَ بِهَاعُكَّاشَةُ قَالَ ثُمَّ تَحَدَّثْنَا فَقُلْنَا مَنْ تَرَوْنَ هَؤُلَاءِ السَّبْعُونَ الْأَلْفُ قَوْمٌ وُلِدُوا فِي الْإِسْلَامِ لَمْ يُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّهِ شَيْئًا حَتَّى مَاتُوا فَبَلَغَ ذَلِكَ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ هُمْ الَّذِينَ لَا يَكْتَوُونَ وَلَا يَسْتَرْقُونَ وَلَا يَتَطَيَّرُونَ وَعَلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ

    One evening the Companions prolonged their conversation with the Prophet, and then went up to him again (probably the next day). He said, "Last night Prophets were shown to me. I saw a Prophet with three followers, another with a group and another with just one follower. Then I saw Musa. With him were a large number of Israelites. I was impressed. I asked: 'Who is this?' It was said: 'This is your brother Musa and with him were the Israelites.' I asked: 'Where are my people?' It was told: 'Look to your right.' And I saw a valley overflowing with people. I was asked: 'Are you satisfied?' I said: 'I'm satisfied O my Lord.' It was said: 'Along with them shall enter into Paradise another seventy thousand without reckoning.' Then the Prophet said: 'May my parents be sacrificed for you, if you can manage, then be of these seventy thousand. If you cannot, then be of those of the valley. And if you cannot, then try and be of the people at the horizon, for I saw people jostling up there.' Upon this `Ukkasha got up and said, 'Pray for me O Messenger of Allah that I be of them.' The Prophet prayed for him. Then another man got up and said, 'Pray for me O Messenger of Allah that I be of them.' The Prophet told him, '`Ukkasha outstripped you.' At this we talked to ourselves saying, 'Who do you think those seventy thousand could be? Perhaps those who were born in Islam and did not associate others with Allah until their death.' The Prophet overheard our conversation and remarked: 'They are those who do not use (forbidden: Au.) charms, do not get tattooed, and who have trust in Allah.'
    The same tradition has come through Ibn Mas`ud in the collection of Diya' al Maqdisi who said that it meets with the isnad requirements of Muslim. In fact Muslim himself has reported through `Imran b. Husayn that the Prophet said:

    "يَدْخُلُ الْجَنّةَ مِنْ أُمّتِي سَبْعُونَ أَلْفاً بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ" قَالُوا: وَمَنْ هُمْ يَا رَسُولَ اللّهِ؟ قَالَ: "هُمُ الّذِينَ لاَ يَكْتَوُونَ وَلاَ يَسْتَرْقُونَ. وَعَلَى رَبّهِمْ يَتَوَكّلُونَ"

    "Seventy thousand of my Ummah will enter Paradise.” They asked, “Who are they, Messenger of Allah?” He answered, “Those who do not use (forbidden: Au.) charms, do not get tattooed, and have trust in Allah."
    Bukhari, Muslim and others have several ahadith to this effect, including the one in the Sahihayn which reports Ibn Mas`ud narrating the Prophet:

    "أَمَا تَرْضَوْنَ أَنْ تَكُونُوا رُبُعَ أَهْلِ الْجَنّةِ؟" قَالَ فَكَبّرْنَا. ثُمّ قَالَ: "أَمَا تَرْضَوْنَ أَنْ تَكُونُوا ثُلُثَ أَهْلِ الْجَنّةِ؟" قَالَ: فَكَبّرْنَا. ثُمّ قَالَ: "إِنّي لأَرْجُو أَنْ تَكُونُوا شَطْرَ أَهْلِ الْجَنّةِ".

    "Are you not satisfied that you be one fourth of the people of Paradise?" We said, "Allahu Akbar." He said, "Are you not satisfied that you be one third of the people of Paradise?" We said, "Allahu Akbar." He said, "Indeed, I hope that you'll be one half of the people of Paradise."
    In yet another hadith which proves that this Ummah has an edge over others, the Prophet is reported by Abu Hurayrah in a transmission of Muslim as saying:

    نحن الآخرون الأولون يوم القيامة، نحن أول الناس دخولاً الجنة

    “We are the last to come, but shall be the first to arrive at the site on the Day of Judgment, and the first to enter Paradise" (Ibn Kathir).
    Imam Razi reports Qaffal as having said that although other communities have also enjoined what is good, forbidden what is evil, and have believed in Allah, this Ummah has been ranked as the best because it goes a step further and conducts jihad in its efforts to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil. Jihad is the most virtuous of deeds, and has received greater emphasis in our religion (shara`) than in previous religions. Hence this Ummah has an edge over other Umam. Accordingly, we find Ibn `Abbas explaining the term "you are the best of communities," in words: "Because you enjoin the people to believe in Allah, and to accept what He has revealed (as the only accessible truth). Further, if there be the need, you fight against them over the issue of Allah's oneness."
    To the above, Qurtubi adds that of this Ummah too, the first generation is superior to the later ones in view of the hadith:

    خير أمتي القرن الذين يلوني ثم الذين يلونهم ثم الذين يلونهم

    "The best of my Ummah are the people of my age, then those who follow and then those who follow."
    It is also agreed that he who was a Companion of the Prophet, or even saw him once, is better than he who came after him, and that the virtue of Companionship will never be equaled by deeds alone. This is the opinion of the great majority of scholars. Nonetheless, another opinion is that the possibility of one of the later generations being equal to those of the first generation exists in view of several ahadith. One of them reported by Ibn `Umar says:

    "أي المؤمنين أعجب إليكم إيماناً؟" قالوا: الملائكة، قال: "وما لهم لا يؤمنون وهم عند ربهم؟" قالوا: فالأنبياء، قال: "وما لهم لا يؤمنون والوحي ينزل عليهم؟" قالوا: فنحن، قال: "وما لكم لا تؤمنون وأنا بين أظهركم؟ ولكن أعجب المؤمنين إيماناً قوم يجيئون بعدكم يجدون صحفاً يؤمنون بما فيها"

    "(We were with the Prophet when he asked), 'Who do you think of the creations is the best in faith?' They said, 'Angels.' He said, 'Why should they not believe when they are with their Lord?” So they said, 'Then Prophets.' He said, 'Why should they not believe when revelations come to them?” They said, “Then, us.” He said, “Why should you not believe when I am in your midst? But rather it is those who will come after you, find the Scriptures and believe in them.'"
    In another report given us by Abu Jumu`ah, whom Abu `Amr has declared trustworthy, when the Prophet was asked by the Companions if there was someone better than they, he said,

    قوم يكونون من بعدي، يؤمنون بي ولم يروني، يجدون كتابا بين لوحين فيؤمنون به ويصدقون به، فهم خير منكم.

    "Yes. A people who will be after you. They will find the Book between two hard covers, will believe in it, and testify to its truth, although they would not have seen me."
    Another report of Abu Tha`labah al Khashani says:

    قال: (إن أمامكم أياما الصابر فيها على دينه كالقابض على الجمر للعامل فيها أجر خمسين رجلا يعمل مثله عمله) قيل: يا رسول الله، منهم؟ قال: (بل منكم).

    "Ahead of you are days in which one who holds fast unto the religion will be like one holding a piece of burning coal in his hand. In those days the worker of a good deed shall have the reward of fifty of workers of the same deed." He was asked, “(Fifty) of them?" He replied, “But rather, "fifty of you."
    The statements then, for and against, have been reconciled in this fashion. He who came after the Companions and faced the same situations as they faced, and remained as true as they remained, would be considered as of the same level as they. This is based on the hadith which says,
    بدأ الإسلام غريبا وسيعود كما بدأ فطوبى للغرباء
    "Islam has started as a stranger and will end up as a stranger. Glad tidings then to the strangers (or, 'be the strangers blessed': Au.)."
    The above hadith is supported by another of Abu Tha`labah, about which Abu `Umar has expressed satisfaction, which reports the Prophet (saws) as having said:

    أمتي كالمطر لا يُدْرَى أوله خير أم آخره

    "My Ummah is like rain water about which it cannot be said as to which is more beneficial, the earlier or the later." But an exception still remains. It is that of those who participated at Badr and Bay` al Ridwan, for they can never be equaled.
    (Qurtubi's quotation ends here).
    The above exception has also the support of the Qur'an by implication, which says in surah 57, al Hadid, verse 10:

    لَا يَسْتَوِي مِنْكُمْ مَنْ أَنْفَقَ مِنْ قَبْلِ الْفَتْحِ وَقَاتَلَ أُولَئِكَ أَعْظَمُ دَرَجَةً مِنَ الَّذِينَ أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ بَعْدُ وَقَاتَلُوا وَكُلًّا وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْحُسْنَى وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ [الحديد : 10]

    "Not equal among you are those who spent (in the way of Allah) and fought before the Victory (the fall of Makkah, and those who did not). They are of higher rank than those who spent and fought later, although Allah has promised good rewards for both. Allah is aware of what you do" (Au.).

    لَنْ يَضُرُّوكُمْ إِلَّا أَذًى ۖ وَإِنْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ يُوَلُّوكُمُ الْأَدْبَارَ ثُمَّ لَا يُنْصَرُونَ (111)

    3|111| They will never harm you except for some annoyance.179 If they ever fight you they will show their backs to you and they will not be helped.180

    179. That is, a harm that will mostly remain verbal, such as their attacks on Islam, its Prophet, or their claim that Jesus was the son of God, etc. (Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    180. The verse is a proof of the Prophet's authenticity. The Jews did not fight with the Prophet but suffered defeat (Qurtubi).

    ضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الذِّلَّةُ أَيْنَ مَا ثُقِفُوا إِلَّا بِحَبْلٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَحَبْلٍ مِنَ النَّاسِ وَبَاءُوا بِغَضَبٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَسْكَنَةُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَيَقْتُلُونَ الْأَنْبِيَاءَ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِمَا عَصَوْا وَكَانُوا يَعْتَدُونَ (112)

    3|112| Fastened upon them is ignominy wherever they are found unless in a bond of Allah, or a bond of the people.181 They incurred Allah’s anger and (therefore) destitution is branded upon them. This because they used to deny Allah’s signs and slaughter the Prophets without right.182 This because they used to disobey and persistently transgress.183

    181. As it happened with Banu Nadir, Banu Quraydah, Banu Qaynuqah, those who took shelter in Khayber, and as it happened with the Christians in Syria (Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah, `Ikrimah, Suddi and Rabi` are of the opinion that they shall never be in peace save as dhimmis, which is the covenant of Allah (or shelter: Au.) referred to in the text, or by a peace treaty with the Muslims which is the covenant of the people (or shelter: Au.) referred to above (Ibn Jarir).
    Imam Razi, Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir have adopted the same interpretation without naming the authorities.
    And, according to Ibn Zayd it is primarily the Jews who are meant by the verse in question, as they were also the subject of verse 55 of this surah, which said:

    وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوكَ فَوْقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ [آل عمران : 55]

    "(We) will set those who follow you above those who have rejected (you, O Jesus) till the Resurrection Day."
    Therefore, there is no land in which there are Jews and Christians living together but the Christians have an upper hand and authority over the Jews. And Allah has said about them in 7: 168:

    وَقَطَّعْنَاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أُمَمًا [الأعراف : 168]

    "And we dispersed them in the earth in small bands" (Ibn Jarir).
    The present state of Israel, adds Mufti Shafi`, proves the statement of the Qur'an. If it were not to be the unconditional, blind and massive support of the West, the state would not have lasted for a single day.
    182. It is reported of Ibn Mas`ud that he said: "In their heyday the Israelites would slaughter 300 prophets during the day, and by the evening conduct business in the vegetable market as usual" (Ibn Kathir).
    Also see note 41 above.
    183. This is to warn the believers of this Ummah that this is how the earlier nations have been destroyed. If they also behave in the like manner, and follow them in their footsteps, then, the same treatment would be meted out to them as well (Ibn Jarir).

    لَيْسُوا سَوَاءً ۗ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ أُمَّةٌ قَائِمَةٌ يَتْلُونَ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ آنَاءَ اللَّيْلِ وَهُمْ يَسْجُدُونَ (113)

    3|113| They are all not alike. Among the people of the Book are some who establish (the truth), recite Allah’s verses in the depths of the night and prostrate themselves.184

    184. It is reported by Ibn Mas`ud that once the Prophet came out for `Isha Prayers late. He found us waiting. He said: "There is no one in prayers on this earth except you" and Allah revealed this verse (Ibn Jarir, Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَيُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَأُولَٰئِكَ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ (114)

    3|114| They believe in Allah and the Last Day,185 enjoin virtue, forbid vice and vie one with another in good works. These are of the righteous.186

    185. That is, if, in their praying and prostrating themselves in the depth of the nights is an indication of their strength in the field of action, then their belief in Allah and the Last Day is indicative of their insight into the field of theories and concepts. Having attained these two, a man is at a level which is the highest level of the human order (darajat al insaniyyah) and the first stage of the angelic order (darajat al malakiyyah) Razi.
    186. The allusion is to those Jews and Christians who embraced Islam (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    A contemporary commentary, however, tends to state that the allusion could be to those of the people of the Book of our times who can distinguish themselves from the banal rest with the qualities stated. According to him piety is not the prerogative of Muslims. This is a conceptual error of immense proportion. There is no piety in him who rebels against his Lord, ascribes partners to Him and denies a Prophet whose denial assumes some amount of intellectual dishonesty and, hence, moral perversion. Further, ignorance of Islam can be no excuse, for to believe in the Bible, while it is splashed with stories of Prophets getting drunk, their daughters molesting them, or holy men lying down with prostitutes ... to believe in such a work as the Holy word of God and seek piety through whatever guidance it can provide, is, to say the least, scandalous. If some of the followers of such books are, to all appearances pious, then it is piety of human definition. It is not a piety of Islamic definition which demands honesty to God and honesty to oneself (Au.).

    وَمَا يَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلَنْ يُكْفَرُوهُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالْمُتَّقِينَ (115)

    3|115| Whatever they do of the good shall not be rejected. And Allah is Aware of the pious

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَنْ تُغْنِيَ عَنْهُمْ أَمْوَالُهُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُهُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۚ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ (116)

    3|116| (As for) the unbelievers, neither their wealth nor their offspring shall avail them in any measure against Allah. They are the companions of the Fire wherein they shall abide forever.

    مَثَلُ مَا يُنْفِقُونَ فِي هَٰذِهِ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَثَلِ رِيحٍ فِيهَا صِرٌّ أَصَابَتْ حَرْثَ قَوْمٍ ظَلَمُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ فَأَهْلَكَتْهُ ۚ وَمَا ظَلَمَهُمُ اللَّهُ وَلَٰكِنْ أَنْفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ (117)

    3|117| The likeness of what they expend in this life is as the likeness of a wind (packed with) freezing (blasts) that struck the tillage of a people who wronged themselves, and destroyed it.187 It was not Allah who wronged them. Rather, they used to wrong their own souls.

    187. 'In a marginal note connected with his commentary on this verse, Zamakhshari explains this parable thus: “If the 'tilth' [i.e., the gainful achievements] of those who deny the truth is lost, it is lost in its entirety, with nothing remaining to them in this world and in the life to come; while, on the other hand, the 'tilth' of a believer is never lost in its entirety: for even if it is seemingly lost, there remains to him the expectation of a reward, in the life to come, for his patience in adversity" (Asad).

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا بِطَانَةً مِنْ دُونِكُمْ لَا يَأْلُونَكُمْ خَبَالًا وَدُّوا مَا عَنِتُّمْ قَدْ بَدَتِ الْبَغْضَاءُ مِنْ أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَمَا تُخْفِي صُدُورُهُمْ أَكْبَرُ ۚ قَدْ بَيَّنَّا لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ ۖ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ (118)

    3|118| Believers! Do not take as intimate friends188 those not of your ranks.189 They will spare nothing to ruin you. They (only) wish for you that which will distress you. Their mouths have (already) spoken out hatred.190 What their hearts conceal is greater. We have thus made the revelation plain to you, if you will consider.

    188. The word in the original is bitanah which is used for a very close, very intimate friend. The word has been used in this sense in a hadith reported by Bukhari and Nasa'i according to which the Prophet said:

    مَا بَعَثَ اللّهُ مِنْ نَبِيَ وَلاَ اسْتَخْلَفَ مِنْ خَلِيفَةٍ إلاّ كَانَتْ لَهُ بِطَانَتَانِ بِطَانَةٌ تَأْمُرُهُ بِالْخَيْرِ وَبِطَانَةٌ تَأْمُرُهُ بِالشّرّ وَتَحُضّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَالْمَعْصُومُ مَنْ عَصَمَ اللّهُ عَزّ وَجَلّ

    "Allah did not send a Prophet nor did He leave behind him a successor but he was given two intimate (bitanah) advisors. One of them bids him do good and the other bids him do evil. And saved is only he, who is saved by Allah."
    Abu Da'ud has preserved a hadith in which the Prophet said:

    الرّجُلُ عَلَى دِينِ خَلِيلِهِ فَلْيَنْظُرْ أَحَدُكُمْ مَنْ يُخَالِلُ

    "A man is on the religion of his friend. So let him look at whom he befriends" (Qurtubi).
    Accordingly, when `Umar was advised to appoint a Christian as one of his secretaries, he said: "If I do that I would be taking an intimate one (bitanah) apart from the believers (Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir). According to another report once Abu Musa al Ash`ari presented his accounts to `Umar ibn al Khattab in a format that pleased him. He enquired about who had made it up that nice way and was told that it was a Christian. `Umar expressed disapproval of Abu Musa for hiring a non Muslim and recited this verse. According to another report he advised him to seek the help of only godfearing Muslims in state affairs (Qurtubi).
    However, adds Mufti Shafi`, the verse restricts us only from treating them as our confidants. As individuals they are to be treated with compassion. This was the practice of the Prophet himself apart from various precepts that he has left behind to this effect. In one hadith he said:

    ألاَ مَنْ ظَلَمَ مُعَاهِداً أوْ انْتَقَصَهُ أوْ كَلّفَهُ فَوْقَ طَاقَتِهِ أوْ أخَذَ مِنْهُ شَيْئاً بِغَيْرِ طِيبِ نَفْسٍ فَأنَا حَجِيجُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ

    "Whoever wronged a dhimmi, or paid him less, or overloaded him beyond his capacity, or took away from him anything without his consents, will have me as his pleader on the Day of Judgment."
    Sayyid writes: "With regard to not taking the unbelievers as intimate confidants, there is another aspect that ought not to be neglected: viz. lofty ideals offered by Islam. Muslims may not take them as intimate friends while they bear grudge and hatred against Islam. But their hatred, deceit, and machinations are not to be returned with hatred, deceit and machinations by the Muslims. The injunctions here are merely safety measures. A Muslim individual therefore, confronts machinations but does not reciprocate with machinations ... meets with hatred but does not hate in return. He does nothing of that sort until he is forced to fight for his religion and for the way of life it dictates. He fights, but not to avenge himself. He fights for his faith, in love of the good and virtuous, and not in hatred of those who hate him. He fights to destroy those obstacles that are placed in the path of Islam, and not for subjugation of a people. He fights to establish the way of life from which all, believers and unbelievers alike, would benefit, and not for addition of territories or for setting up of an empire."
    189. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah and Rabi` have said that some Muslims, (following past contacts, relationships of various sorts, and pacts), continued to be friendly with the Jews and the hypocrites. Allah revealed this verse (Ibn Jarir).
    However, Ibn Abi Hatim has reported a hadith, (which, in the opinion of Suyuti, is of good isnad), that it is the Khawarij who have been alluded to by the verse (Shawkani).
    Obviously, even if the verse originally referred to the Khawarij, the rule remains general. Hence the statement of `Umar above and the following: It is reported that some people attending Malik b. Anas's classes could not at times understand the hadith he was transmitting. They would then go to Hasan (al Basri) who would offer the explanation. Once they heard him reporting the Prophet as having said:

    لا تستضيؤوا بنار المشركين ولا تنقشوا في خواتيمكم غريبا

    "Do not light your fire with that of the fire of the idolaters and do not engrave Arabic on your rings."
    They could not understand what it meant and asked Hasan (al Basri) to explain. He said: "Yes. What it means is 'Do not seek advice of the idolaters in your affairs and do not engrave the name Muhammad on your rings.' Then he added, 'Read in the Qur'an if you like: "Believers! Do not take as intimates those not of your ranks'" (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi). Ibn Kathir, however, after reporting this hadith says that he believes the right meaning of the earlier part of the above hadith is, 'Do not take up residence in the neighborhood of idolaters.'
    190. Their hatred is of such order that they lose control of their tongues and speak out (their anger, frustration and: Au.) hatred (Alusi).

    هَا أَنْتُمْ أُولَاءِ تُحِبُّونَهُمْ وَلَا يُحِبُّونَكُمْ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْكِتَابِ كُلِّهِ وَإِذَا لَقُوكُمْ قَالُوا آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوْا عَضُّوا عَلَيْكُمُ الْأَنَامِلَ مِنَ الْغَيْظِ ۚ قُلْ مُوتُوا بِغَيْظِكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ (119)

    3|119| There you are, loving them (but) they do not love you. You believe in all the Books. When they meet you they say, 'We believe.’191 But when they are in privy they bite off their fingertips in rage at you. Tell them, 'Die in your rage.’192 Surely, Allah is Aware of what is in the hearts.

    191. The verse is applicable both to the hypocrites as well as to unbelievers. However, when applied to the hypocrites, it would mean those who, by virtue of their birth, live among the Muslims, but hate Islam and Muslims. But, because of their circumstances of birth and perforce belonging to a particular social group, they have to put up appearances of Islam. When they are among the believers they assure them that they are fully committed Muslims.
    If applied to the unbelievers, the verse would mean that although hatred wells up in their eyes, whenever they see something good happening to the Muslims, yet they make hypocritical gestures, and assure the believers that they believe there is "a lot of good in Islam," for the sake of maintaining courteous relationship, and draw material benefits (Au.).
    192. These words indicate that if one decides to sever relationships completely with someone, there is no harm in using such harsh terms (Thanwi).

    إِنْ تَمْسَسْكُمْ حَسَنَةٌ تَسُؤْهُمْ وَإِنْ تُصِبْكُمْ سَيِّئَةٌ يَفْرَحُوا بِهَا ۖ وَإِنْ تَصْبِرُوا وَتَتَّقُوا لَا يَضُرُّكُمْ كَيْدُهُمْ شَيْئًا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ مُحِيطٌ (120)

    3|120| If something good happens to you, it vexes them. But if an evil befalls you, they rejoice over it. But if you are patient and godfearing, their guile will not harm you in the least. Verily, Allah is encompassing what they do.

    وَإِذْ غَدَوْتَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ تُبَوِّئُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ مَقَاعِدَ لِلْقِتَالِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ (121)

    3|121| And (recall, O Muhammad)193 when you departed from your home-folk at dawn, (and were) posting the believers in their positions for the battle (at Uhud). And Allah is All-hearing, All-knowing.

    193. Bayhaqi has, in his Dala'il al Nubuwwah, reported a group of scholars as saying that the day of Uhud was the day of trial and filter. Allah tested the believers and exposed the hypocrites who used to pretend Islam but conceal unbelief. It was a day in which Allah intended to bless a section of His awliya' with martyrdom (Shawkani).

    إِذْ هَمَّتْ طَائِفَتَانِ مِنْكُمْ أَنْ تَفْشَلَا وَاللَّهُ وَلِيُّهُمَا ۗ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ (122)

    3|122| When two of your groups were about to lose heart,194 (but) Allah was their Protector.195 And it is in Allah that the believers ought to place their trust.196

    194. The two groups were the two tribes Banu Salamah and Banu Haritha who began to waver when `Abdullah ibn Ubayy withdrew with three hundred and odd of his hypocritical followers (Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Rabi`, Suddi, `Ikrimah: Ibn Jarir).
    (`Abdullah ibn Ubayy had withdrawn on the pretext that he did not see any fight in the expected clash, rather, only a massacre of the Muslims).
    Since the background of these verses is the battle of Uhud, we present here a brief account of the event.
    After "the catastrophic defeat at Badr," (Asad) the Quraysh sent their emissaries to various tribes around Makkah to explain to them the gravity of the situation arising out of the Prophet setting up a power base at Madinah. There was every possibility that if unchecked, it would lead to the closing of the trade routes leading to the northern regions. As a result, the Makkans were able to raise an army of 3000, of which no less than 700 were fully armored. A division of two hundred was on horseback. A total of 250,000 Dirhams were raised in Makkah alone for the expedition. Abu Sufyan, the new Commander in Chief himself contributed a fabulous sum out of the profits he had made by the caravan, to save which the battle of Badr was supposedly fought (Hamidullah: `Ahad e Nabawi ke Maydan e Jang).
    When the pagan army arrived at Madinah in 3 A.H., (Shawwal 7: Shafi`), the Prophet sought the advice of his Companions over whether they should remain in Madinah and face the besieging enemy from within or should they go out and meet them in the open. Several of those who had not participated in the battle of Badr spoke strongly in favor of going out for a face to face clash. Actually, they wanted to prove their sincere desire for martyrdom. `Abdullah ibn Ubayy however was, (and most of the Ansar: Zamakhshari, Razi) of the opinion that the Muslims should remain within Madinah. The Prophet, following the general advice, came out with his coat of mail on, ready to march out. Meanwhile the Companions had changed their mind. They reproached each other for having unduly influenced the Prophet while he was in direct contact with Allah who would have instructed him with what was best for them. Therefore they met him and told him that they were withdrawing their earlier suggestion and were leaving the matter entirely for him to decide. But the Prophet told them, "It does not behove a Prophet to put on his armor and remove them before he has fought his enemy," (because it does not befit a Prophet to show weakness: Shafi`).
    So he continued with a thousand people (a hundred of whom were fully armored: Hamidullah), but a little out of town `Abdullah ibn Ubayy fell back with three hundred or so of his followers on the pretext that his advice had not been heeded (although some hypocrites still remained in the army: Thanwi). [It was suggested that the treaty with the Jews be made use of, and they be invited to fight alongside the Muslims. But the Prophet spurned the idea: Sayyid]. So the Prophet continued with the rest. (On the way he thought he would take a short cut by passing through the property owned by Mirba` b. Qayzi who was a blind hypocrite. He threw dust in the face of those who had gone to seek his permission, and refused them entry. According to one report when the Prophet went to him he said he would have thrown dust in his face if he could be sure it was not going to strike others along with him. Upon this the Companions wanted to kill him but the Prophet restrained them saying: "Let him alone. He is a man blind of eye, blind of heart: Manar). Nonetheless, on arriving at Uhud (the name of a series of mountains, about 6 7 km. away from the heart of the town: Au.) the Prophet kept Mount Uhud behind him, assigned the command of the left, right and other wings to various people and stationed fifty archers headed by `Abdullah ibn Jubayr on a hill called Al-`Ayn overlooking a pass instructing them not to abandon the post, come what may, victory or defeat; according to one version: "Even if you see vultures hovering over our heads." (Before the start of the battle the women of the enemy forces began to beat their drums and sing poetry, encouraging their fighters. When the Prophet heard them, he responded with supplications in words: "O Allah! I seek Your Strength, and with You do I join. I fight in Your cause. Enough for me is Allah, and a good Supporter He is": Manar).
    When fighting began, Muslims gained an upper hand within a short time and the Makkans began to retreat. (Said Bar' b. `Azib: I saw their women running away, climbing the hills with their skirts pulled up baring their anklets and calves. Muslims began to cry: "Get the booty, get the booty": Bukhari).
    At this, the archers, sensing (a repetition of Badr: Razi) and victory at hand, came down looking for booty, leaving the pass clear for Khalid ibn al Walid to advance from the rear. He easily overcame the resistance of the ten or so left with the commander on the hillock, slew them all, and moved on to attack the main army from the rear. Encouraged by this attack, the enemy front lines also assembled themselves anew and the Muslims felt crushed between the two. The enemy targeted the Prophet. (Khalid began to climb with his horses a hill that the Prophet did not want to lose the command of: Ibn Jarir). The pagans both shot arrows at the Prophet, as well as threw stones. One stone, hurled by `Abdullah b. Qum`ah, struck him in the face and broke his tooth. Ibn Qum`ah then advanced, and brought down his sword on the Prophet. (But his strike was taken by Mus`ab b. `Umayr whom Ibn Qum`ah mistook for the Prophet: Zamakhshari). Ibn Qum`ah returned to the people with the news that he had killed the Prophet. The Prophet had actually fallen into a ditch from where he was helped out, and led to a hill. He said, somewhere at that time, "Allah's anger has intensified against those who have bloodied His Messenger's face." Ka`b b. Malik said: "I was the first to recognize him from the way his shoulders inclined to the sides when he walked. 'Good news, brothers. Here is the Messenger,' I shouted out in joy. But the Prophet signaled me to be quiet." The pagans began to target him, but thanks to the valiant efforts of the ten or so Companions left with him, out of which seven died, they could do him no harm. Nevertheless, the news had spread among the Muslims that he had fallen. That added to the panic, and they began to flee. Thus the victory at hand was allowed to slip away, first by the Muslims, and then by the pagans.
    At that moment Ubayy b. Khalf advanced towards the Prophet, saying he would not survive if Muhammad survived, for he used to say in Makkah that he would kill Muhammad, and had heard that the Prophet had said in reply that he would rather kill him. When the Prophet saw him advancing, he took aim and threw his spear at him. It merely kissed him leaving a scratch (on the neck: Au). But the man fell down and began to yell like a bull. The pagans picked him up and chided him for his screams. He told them that if the pain he felt were to be distributed amongst the population of Hejaz, they would all die. He died on the way back to Makkah.
    Some Companions however, such as `Umar and Talha (who received seventy wounds: Ibn Kathir), fought back with the strength of the one in "despair." In the meanwhile, Muslims began to learn that the Prophet was alive. He beckoned them to himself: "Unto me, O slaves of Allah, unto me," he cried. They rallied around him and counter attacked the enemy, saving the day, but by then they had lost seventy of their men, were "too exhausted to exploit their chances of victory, and the battle ended in a draw" (Asad).
    Abu Sufyan came up to the foot of the hill and called out: "Is Muhammad among you?" three times. The Prophet told them not to answer him. Then he called out: "Is Abu Quhafa's son with you (i.e. Abu Bakr)? Is Ibn al Khattab with you?" When he did not receive any answer he remarked: "Perhaps they have all been killed. Were they alive they would have answered." At that `Umar could not restrain himself, he shouted: "You have lied O enemy of God. They have been kept alive in order to humiliate you." Upon that Abu Sufyan said: "Glory to Hubal (a deity)." The Prophet told them to answer: "Allah is Glorious, Magnificent." Abu Sufyan said: "We have `Uzza (another deity) to help us but you have no `Uzza." The Prophet told them to reply: "Allah is our Protector, and you have no protector." Abu Sufyan added: "Today was against the day of Badr. Wars are like pails (of water that go up and down in a well). You will find some people disfigured. I didn't order it. But it doesn't hurt me either" (Bukhari).
    Thus the disobedience of the Prophet became the cause of the disaster. (A second cause was their acceptance of ransom from the prisoners at Badr: Thanwi Zamakhshari, Ibn Kathir).
    According to a report in Muslim, prior to the battle the Prophet had dreamt that his sword had broken, that a cow was slaughtered, and that he had thrust his hand in a safe coat of mail. He interpreted it as meaning that some of his followers would be martyred, he would lose one of his family members, and that Madinah would remain safe: all of which proved to be true (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    195. This shows Allah's extreme regard of the true believers in Him that it was not but a passing thought in their hearts that they should also perhaps withdraw, as had `Abdullah ibn `Ubayy. But Allah strengthened their hearts and announced that He is their Protector. Accordingly, it has been reported of Jabir (who belonged to one of those tribes) as saying, "It wouldn't have pleased me that the verse did not come down about us, because of the words: 'And Allah was their (Friend and) Protector'" (Zamakhshari, Thanwi).
    The report is in the Sahihayn.
    Thus Allah brought to surface what they concealed in their hearts to impress on them that He was their true Friend, who was with them all the time, to whom they should turn and in whom they should place their trust (Ibn Jarir), whenever such thoughts occur (Sayyid Qutb).
    A contemporary commentator has said that the two tribes actually did announce their intention to withdraw and "it took some effort on the part of the Companions to persuade them not to." One is perplexed about the source of this story. It is neither in any of the leading tafsir nor sirah works (Au.).
    196. Accordingly, when Abu `Ubaydah wrote to `Umar requesting him to beef up his forces at the Syrian front, (before the Yarmuk battle: Shafi`), `Umar wrote back that Allah is the best of those who can fortify, and that the Prophet was helped at Badr with lesser forces. Therefore, they should fight on with their faith in Allah and not write to him again. They did that and victory was granted (Ibn Kathir from Musnad Ahmad).
    Linguistically tawakkul is 'dependence on another out of one's weakness.' Sahal b. `Abdullah has defined it as 'Contentment accompanied by assurance, and severance of all hopes of the created.' According to the sufiya' when one begins to "depend" on the 'means,' then tawakkul has left him. (That is, when means are not treated as simply means but as those that can produce results: Au.) Qurtubi, abridged.

    وَلَقَدْ نَصَرَكُمُ اللَّهُ بِبَدْرٍ وَأَنْتُمْ أَذِلَّةٌ ۖ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ (123)

    3|123| Allah had helped you at Badr197 while you were so weak.198 Therefore, fear Allah haply you may be thankful.

    197. Badr was the name of a spring down south of Madinah (at about 200 km. from the city, and now a town: Au.), where the first battle of Islam took place (in 2 A.H. on 17 of Ramadan, Friday: Alusi). That happened to be also the first, of the total of 27 (according to Ibn Is-haq in Tabaqat) battles, campaigns and skirmishes in which the Prophet personally participated, in eight of which he actually fought (Qurtubi).
    198. At Badr Muslims were three hundred and odd against a thousand or so of the pagans. The Prophet is reported to have said that day: "Today you are in the same numbers as were the forces of Talut the day he encountered the forces of Jalut" (Ibn Jarir).
    Majid quotes: "However unimportant itself as a military engagement, this Ghazwat Badr laid the foundation of Muhammad's temporal power. Islam had won its first and decisive military victory ... Hitherto it had been a religion within a state; in al Medinah, after Badr, it passed into something more than a state religion in itself became the state. Then and there Islam came to be what the world has ever since recognized it to be a military polity" (Hitti).

    إِذْ تَقُولُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَلَنْ يَكْفِيَكُمْ أَنْ يُمِدَّكُمْ رَبُّكُمْ بِثَلَاثَةِ آلَافٍ مِنَ الْمَلَائِكَةِ مُنْزَلِينَ (124)

    3|124| When you were saying to the believers, 'Does it not suffice you that your Lord extends you help with three thousand angels199 descending down?’

    199. It is reported of Abu Usayd Malik b. Rabi`ah (the last to die of the Badri sahabah: Qurtubi) as saying, after he had lost his eye sight, "Were I to be there at Badr with you and able to see, I'd show you the valley out of which emerged the angels. I harbor no doubt about it." (One of them was heard saying during the battle: 'Charge O Hayzum.' After the battle the Prophet asked Jibril who the angel was who had said that. Jibril replied: 'Not all of the inhabitants of the heaven do I know Muhammad': Qurtubi).
    Ibn `Abbas has reported a man of Banu Ghifar as saying, 'I and my uncle polytheists until then were watching the battle of Badr from a distance when we saw a piece of cloud descending down. We could hear the neighing of horses proceeding from it. My uncle suffered a massive stroke at the sight and died on the spot. I too all but died out of fear.'
    Ibn `Abbas has said that although angels did descend during the battles on many occasions, they did not take active part on any occasion save at Badr. Further, it is reported that Abu al Yusr, although a tiny man, captured `Abbas ibn `Abdul Muttalib at Badr. The Prophet asked him how he managed it. He said that another man, whom he never saw before or after, had aided him. The Prophet said: "That was an angel that had helped you" (Ibn Jarir).

    بَلَىٰ ۚ إِنْ تَصْبِرُوا وَتَتَّقُوا وَيَأْتُوكُمْ مِنْ فَوْرِهِمْ هَٰذَا يُمْدِدْكُمْ رَبُّكُمْ بِخَمْسَةِ آلَافٍ مِنَ الْمَلَائِكَةِ مُسَوِّمِينَ (125)

    3|125| Rather, if you observe patience, are godfearing,200 and, if (the enemy) surprises you,201 your Lord will extend His help with five thousand marked angels.’202

    200. Something the participants at Uhud did not come up with and so were not helped (Dahhak: Ibn Jarir). In fact, according to `Ikrimah not even the three thousand promised earlier were sent down at Uhud (Ibn Kathir).
    The early commentators have differed over the battle to which this promise referred. Some believe that it was with reference to Badr; but since the need did not arise the Muslims were not helped with the additional five thousand angels promised. But some others are of the opinion that the angels did come down since Muslims observed patience and were godfearing. A third believes that this verse refers to Uhud but since the Muslims did not demonstrate patience and godfearing they were not helped with the five thousand promised (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Another interpretation is that the Muslims at Badr were initially promised a thousand angels as in verse 8 of al Anfal, since the forces opposing them were a thousand. However, when the news about Kurz (bringing in additional forces) reached them, and since Muslims were one against three, they were promised three thousand. Finally, they were promised that if they observed patience and godfearing, and, were their enemy to surprise them, they would be helped with five thousand more. But since the enemy did not receive the additional forces, the five thousand angels did not arrive (Alusi, Shafi`).
    201. Hasan and Sha`bi have said that Kurz bin Jabir had intended to extend his help to the pagans at Badr. That caused some concern among the Muslims. Allah revealed this verse to strengthen the heart of the believers. However, since Kurz did not come up with his forces, some say that Allah also did not send down the five thousand He had promised, rather three thousand of the earlier promise sufficed (Ibn Jarir).
    But Ibn Abbas' opinion is that by the terms ya' tukum min fawrihim hadha Allah meant to say, "if they arrive on you now (at Uhud)" Ibn Jarir, Shawkani from Ibn Abi Hatim.
    202. It is widely reported that the angels that day wore woollen turbans in the style of Zubayr ibn al `Awwam, riding black and white horses with tufts of wool or cotton tied to their tails and forehead. This is the marking that was alluded to in the verse (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).

    وَمَا جَعَلَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بُشْرَىٰ لَكُمْ وَلِتَطْمَئِنَّ قُلُوبُكُمْ بِهِ ۗ وَمَا النَّصْرُ إِلَّا مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَكِيمِ (126)

    3|126| And Allah did not arrange it but as a source of delight for you and a means of reassurance to your hearts. But help is not but from Allah the Mighty, the Wise.

    لِيَقْطَعَ طَرَفًا مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَوْ يَكْبِتَهُمْ فَيَنْقَلِبُوا خَائِبِينَ (127)

    3|127| In order that He might cut off a chunk of the unbelievers, or humiliate them, so that they may turn back frustrated.

    لَيْسَ لَكَ مِنَ الْأَمْرِ شَيْءٌ أَوْ يَتُوبَ عَلَيْهِمْ أَوْ يُعَذِّبَهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ ظَالِمُونَ (128)

    3|128| You have no say (O Muhammad) whatsoever in the affair. He may either turn to them (in mercy)203 or punish them, for surely, they are transgressors.204

    203. "He may either turn to them (in mercy and guide them)...": The words indicate that repentance is a creation of Allah, for repentance is basically remorse, and remorse itself is one's commitment to himself that the evil act will not be repeated. In other words it is an intention. Now, if we say that man creates his intentions, then, intention will become an act, requiring another intention. This will lead to a vicious circle. Hence we say that repentance is an act of Allah (bestowed upon man) Razi.
    204. Ibn `Abbas, Anas, Qatadah and Hasan report (the hadith is in Muslim: Ibn Kathir) that when the Muslims were routed at Uhud, the Prophet (saws) broke a tooth (lower right, the one after the front two teeth: Thanwi), and received a wound in his face that bled profusely, he remarked,

    "كَيْفَ يُفْلِحُ قَوْمٌ شَجّوا نَبِيّهُمْ وَكَسَرُوا رَبَاعِيَتَهُ، وَهُوَ يَدْعُوهُمْ إلَىَ اللّهِ؟"

    "How will a people prosper who have wounded their Prophet, broke his tooth, while he invites them to Allah!?" Upon that Allah revealed this verse. Another version (in Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i and others: Alusi) says that the Prophet invoked Allah's curse upon some of the unbelievers, specifically naming Abu Sufyan, Harith b. Hisham, Suhayl b. `Amr and Safwan b. Umayyah, after fajr Prayers, subsequent to the defeat at Uhud. But Allah revealed this verse in response (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Alusi adds: The verses indicated the preferable reaction, although the unbelievers did deserve to be cursed and hence the Prophet was not wrong in reacting that way.
    In fact, the four leading antagonists named by the Prophet actually embraced Islam following Allah's promise that He may turn to them in mercy (Ibn Kathir).
    Bukhari, Muslim and others have also reported that whenever the Prophet faced hard times he made special supplications in his qunut in the Fajr Prayers, seeking Allah's blessings for the Muslims and His scourge on the unbelievers, naming tribes and individuals, until Allah revealed this verse and he discontinued. (Shawkani).
    Rashid Rida comments: This piece of Divine revelation, coming at this juncture establishes in the heart, that which could not have been established were it not to be a part of the important events which cannot be interpreted in any other way but one. This piece is a very strong proof of tawhid and one of the proofs of the authenticity of the Prophet. Had the Prophet been founder of a kingdom, or a political manipulator he would not have said what he said on this occasion. So what share do those people have in this religion who believe that the spirits of the saints in the graves have a say in the affairs of the world ... those who believe that the supposed saints can give victory or defeat, can grant or withhold, can kill or give life, can render rich or poor, can cure or render sick ... who can do everything (for their followers). Are these to be considered Muslims and followers of the Qur'an, which said at that moment when the Prophet was wounded by the polytheists and had his teeth broken: "You have no say in the affairs," and, "Tell them all affairs are in Allah's Power?" This then is the teaching of the Qur'an and the guidance shown by the Qur'an. Were then, those people of Bukhara rightly guided who, in the face of the Russian invasion said, "Naqshbandi will save us?" Were the people of Fez rightly guided, who, in the face of the French invasion, resorted to supplications at the grave of Sheikh Idris? And, were those Muslims of numerous places rightly guided who, when facing foreign invasions, began to recite Bukhari or call upon the saints? Did they believe that those pagan practices were prescribed by Islam? Did they not recite this verse, and learn the circumstances of its revelation? Did they not learn of the acts and deeds that preceded the supplications of the righteous people of the past? Did they not learn that their righteous predecessors were always divinely helped as long as they did not remain merely cursing their adversaries in their lengthy and heart rending supplications? Therefore, act, believers, act. Prepare yourself fully (8: 60):

    وَأَعِدُّوا لَهُمْ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ مِنْ قُوَّةٍ [الأنفال : 60]

    "Prepare yourselves against them with whatever force (you can muster)." There is no power without knowledge and without material means. There are no material means without justice. And there is no justice with the tyrannacal rulers. Then it is, after full preparations, that remembrance and supplications should follow (8: 45):

    إِذَا لَقِيتُمْ فِئَةً فَاثْبُتُوا وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا [الأنفال : 45]

    "And when you mee

    t a party (in the battlefield) then be steadfast and remember Allah much," and (8: 46):

    وَلَا تَنَازَعُوا فَتَفْشَلُوا [الأنفال : 46]

    "Do not differ (among yourselves) or you will lose heart." This is the guidance of Islam that reflects its truth in the life of the Prophet and the righteous believers (23: 68):
    أَفَلَمْ يَدَّبَّرُوا الْقَوْلَ أَمْ جَاءَهُمْ مَا لَمْ يَأْتِ آبَاءَهُمُ الْأَوَّلِينَ [المؤمنون : 68]
    "Have they not then pondered the word? Or, have they received what their forefathers didn't receive?"
    Quotation from Rashid Rida ends here.

    وَلِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ يَغْفِرُ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيُعَذِّبُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (129)

    3|129| To Allah belong all that is in the heavens and the earth. He forgives whom He will, and punishes whom He will. And Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.205

    205. That is, Allah is right and just in doing whatever He decides to do. If He punished those who did not sin although He does not do that He would still be just and right with them since they are His creations, and He has a right to deal with His creation the way He will. Conversely, if He rewarded those who sinned against Him although, normally He does not do that then too He would be right and just, for He is not bound by any rule and has the right to deal with His creations the way He will. (Razi, Alusi)
    The Connection
    Qaffal has said that since the heathens were able to raise a big army with the help of the usurious money they had amassed, Allah introduced the prohibition of usury at this juncture, when Uhud and its aftermath were being discussed, in order that the Muslims may not follow them in their footsteps and resort to usurious means to raise money for war preparations (Razi, Alusi).
    Majid adds: "The close connection between war and national loans and debts is too plain to need explanation."

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَأْكُلُوا الرِّبَا أَضْعَافًا مُضَاعَفَةً ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ (130)

    3|130| Muslims! Do not devour usury doubled and redoubled.206 Fear Allah, haply you may prosper.

    206. That is, 'O those who have believed, do not devour usury after your Islam, as you were used to devouring it in pre Islamic times.' The practice then prevalent was that when a man failed to return a loan taken on interest within the stipulated time, he would make a fresh contract with the lender, agreeing to add up the interests accrued until then to the principal and allow new rates of interest payable on the new sum, in return for an extended deadline. This, according to `Ata', Mujahid, and Ibn Zayd, is the interest upon interest that the verse is speaking of (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Further, the words doubled and redoubled do not mean you can consume simple interest (and not compound interest: Au.). Rather, the worst of its kind has been mentioned for emphasis. For example you say, 'Do not speak foul inside the mosque.' But it does not mean that the person can speak foul outside the mosque (Shabbir).

    وَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ (131)

    3|131| And beware of the Fire that has been prepared for the unbelievers.207

    207. Imam Abu Hanifah has said that this is the toughest of the Qur'anic verses with reference to the believers, who, if they do not give up usury, are promised a Fire that has been primarily lit for the unbelievers (Zamakhshari, Alusi).
    Because of the placement of the verse, many commentators are of the opinion that whoever deals with usury with the belief that it is permissible, can be declared a kafir. Abu Hanifah has stated that the kufr of a person appears itself at the time of his death (Qurtubi).
    The verse also proves that Jahannum has already been created (Razi, Qurtubi).

    وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ (132)

    3|132| Obey Allah and His Prophet in order that you are shown mercy.

    وَسَارِعُوا إِلَىٰ مَغْفِرَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ (133)

    3|133| And rush, vying with one another to Forgiveness from your Lord and a Paradise whose breadth208 is the heavens and the earth,209 prepared for the believers.

    208. It is the breadth of Paradise that has been mentioned since normally it is lesser of the two: the length and breadth (Zamakhshari). For example, the Qur'an said (55: 54):

    مُتَّكِئِينَ عَلَى فُرُشٍ بَطَائِنُهَا مِنْ إِسْتَبْرَقٍ [الرحمن : 54]

    "They will be sitting on carpets whose inner lining will be of brocade." Now, if the inner lining will be of brocade, how rich the outer material will not be? (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir)
    209. If the seven heavens and the seven earths were to be folded together the way you can fold a piece of cloth, that would be the breadth of Paradise (Ibn `Abbas: Ibn Jarir). Other commentators have understood him to mean that if the empty spaces are removed (Au.).
    Kalbi has said that there are four Gardens: Jannatu `Adn, Jannatu al Ma'wa, Jannatu al Firdaws and Jannatu al Na'im. A hadith of the Sahihayn says that the last man to enter Paradise will have:

    وَيُذَكِّرُهُ اللَّهُ سَلْ كَذَا وَكَذَا فَإِذَا انْقَطَعَتْ بِهِ الأَمَانِىُّ قَالَ اللَّهُ هُوَ لَكَ وَعَشَرَةُ أَمْثَالِهِ

    "Allah reminding him to ask this and ask that, until when he would have exhausted his imagination, he would be told, 'All that you wished for is yours plus ten times it'" (Qurtubi).
    Ya`la b. Murra says (in a hadith in Musnad Ahmad: Ibn Kathir): 'I met Al Tanukhiyy in Hims. He was the one who had (in his days of unbelief) carried the letter of Heraclius (the Byzantine Emperor) to the Prophet. By then he had become very old, bent double. He told me: "I presented the letter of Heraclius to the Prophet. A man at his left side received the letter from me. I asked: 'Who is it that is going to read the letter?' They said, 'Mu`awiyyah.' He began to read. (One sentence said): 'You have written to me, inviting me to a Paradise whose breadth is the heavens and the earth, prepared for the believers. Where then is the Fire?' The Prophet answered: "Glory to Allah. Where is the night when the day arrives?"' (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    210. It is reported of `A'isha that once she gave away in charity a single grape (Zamakhshari, Razi); others of the Salaf have given a single onion in charity (Razi).
    211. Kazm of the original is used for holding back something and filling it to its full such as pouring water into a water skin brim full and then tying up a knot at the mouth not to let it escape. Hence the verse 84 in surah Yusuf:

    وَابْيَضَّتْ عَيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْحُزْنِ فَهُوَ كَظِيمٌ [يوسف : 84]

    "His eyes whitened with sorrow and he was choked up (with grief)" Qurtubi.
    Here are a few ahadith on this topic:
    The Prophet is reported by Abu Hurayrah as having said:

    من كظم غيظاً وهو يقدر على إنفاذه ملأ اللّه جوفه أمناً وإيماناً

    "Whoever restrained his rage despite being in a position to react, shall have his heart filled with peace and faith" (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Alusi).
    The wording of another version as in Abu Da'ud and Tirmidhi is:

    "مَنْ كَظَمَ غَيْظًا وَهُوَ قَادِرٌ عَلَى أَنْ يُنْفِذَه، دَعَاهُ اللهُ عَلَى رُؤُوسِ الْخَلائِقِ، حَتَّى يُخيرَهُ مِنْ أيِّ الْحُورِ شَاءَ"

    "Whoever restrained his rage despite being in a position to react, will have Allah call him out in front of mankind and let him choose a Huri of his preference" (Ibn Kathir). The hadith is of hasan gharib status (Qurtubi).
    According to another hadith:

    « مَا تَعُدُّونَ الصُّرَعَةَ فِيكُمْ ». قَالُوا الَّذِى لاَ يَصْرَعُهُ الرِّجَالُ. قَالَ « لاَ وَلَكِنَّهُ الَّذِى يَمْلِكُ نَفْسَهُ عِنْدَ الْغَضَبِ ».
    The Prophet asked, “Whom do you consider a good wrestler?” They replied, “He who cannot be wrestled down by men.” He said, "No, a good wrestler among you is he who can control himself when angry " (Razi, Qurtubi). The hadith is in Sahihayn.
    There are several reports according to which when somebody asked the Prophet to enjoin him with something good, he replied:
    لاَ تَغْضَبْ
    "Do not get angry," and repeated the answer when the man repeated his requests.
    Ibn `Abbas narrated the Prophet:
    مَنْ أَنْظَرَ مُعْسِرًا أَوْ وَضَعَ لَهُ وَقَاهُ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَيْحِ جَهَنَّمَ أَلَا إِنَّ عَمَلَ الْجَنَّةِ حَزْنٌ بِرَبْوَةٍ ثَلَاثًا أَلَا إِنَّ عَمَلَ النَّارِ سَهْلٌ بِسَهْوَةٍ وَالسَّعِيدُ مَنْ وُقِيَ الْفِتَنَ وَمَا مِنْ جَرْعَةٍ أَحَبُّ إِلَي الله مِنْ جَرْعَةِ غَيْظٍ يَكْظِمُهَا عَبْدٌ مَا كَظَمَهَا عَبْدٌ لِلَّهِ إِلَّا مَلَأَ اللَّهُ جَوْفَهُ إِيمَانًا
    “Whoever gave respite to someone in hardships or forgave it, Allah will save him from the heat of Jahannum. Lo! The deeds of Paradise are rough, (through) high grounds – said that three times – while the paths of the Fire are easy, down the slope. So, fortunate is he who escaped trials. And there is no gulp that is dearer to Allah than the gulp of anger that a man gulps down. And, never did a man gulp it down for the sake of Allah except that Allah filled his inner self with iman.”
    The above report is from Ahmad and of good chain and good matn.
    Abu Dharr has reported the Prophet:

    « إِذَا غَضِبَ أَحَدُكُمْ وَهُوَ قَائِمٌ فَلْيَجْلِسْ فَإِنْ ذَهَبَ عَنْهُ الْغَضَبُ وَإِلاَّ فَلْيَضْطَجِعْ »

    "When one of you gets angry, let him sit down if he is standing. If that does not cool him down, let him lie down.”
    In another hadith, also recorded by Abu Da'ud, the Prophet said:

    إِنّ الْغَضَبَ مِنَ الشّيْطَانِ، وَإِنّ الشّيْطَانَ خُلِقَ مِنَ النّارِ، وَإِنّمَا تُطْفَأُ النّارُ بالمَاءِ، فإِذَا غَضِبَ أَحَدُكُم فَلْيَتَوَضّأْ


    "Anger is from Shaytan. Shaytan has been created from fire. And fire is quenched with water. Therefore, if one of you is angry, let him make an ablution" (Ibn Kathir).

    الَّذِينَ يُنْفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ (134)

    3|134| Those who expend in prosperity and adversity,210 swallow anger211 and forgive the people. Allah approves of those who excel.212

    212. Ibn Ishaq has said that these are the qualities: expending, swallowing anger and forgiving the people that constitute ihsan (Ibn Jarir).
    Qurtubi adds: It is said that a slave girl of Maymun b. Mehran spilled hot soup on him while he sat with his friends. He flared up in anger. She said: "Those who swallow anger." He cooled down and said: "I've done it." She said: "And forgive the people." He said, "I forgive you." She added: "And Allah approves of those who excel." He said: "I set you free" (Bayhaqi has a similar incident attributed to `Ali ibn Husayn b. `Ali: Alusi).

    وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا فَعَلُوا فَاحِشَةً أَوْ ظَلَمُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ ذَكَرُوا اللَّهَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا لِذُنُوبِهِمْ وَمَنْ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَلَمْ يُصِرُّوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلُوا وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ (135)

    3|135| And those who, if they commit an indecent act,213 or wrong themselves, remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins214 - and who forgives sins but Allah?215 - and (those who) do not persist with what (wrongs) they committed.216

    213. Although the meaning is general and covers all kinds of sins, one of its meanings is adultery. In fact, Jabir and Suddi hold the opinion that this is the only meaning intended here (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Ibn `Abbas has reported however that the following incident became the cause of its revelation. The Prophet had instituted brotherhood between an Ansari and a Thaqafi both of whom used to go out with the Prophet in turns and by lots for the other to stay back and look after the family of the one out. Now, once the Ansari encountered the Thaqafi's wife when he was out, and tried to kiss her. She covered her face with her hands. (He kissed her hands: Qurtubi). Nevertheless, the Ansari fell into remorse and took to the mountains. (Informed by his wife, the Thaqafi then searched out the Ansari and presented him first to Abu Bakr and `Umar who both chased them away: Qurtubi). When the matter was reported to the Prophet he did not say anything until this verse was revealed (Razi). According to the narration in Kalbi, `Umar asked the Prophet if it was specifically for the Ansari or the rule was common. He said the rule was common (Alusi).
    214. Abu Hurayrah has reported a hadith, preserved in Bukhari and Muslim through Ishaq b. Abi Talha, which says:
    "أَذْنَبَ عَبْدٌ ذَنْباً. فَقَالَ: اللّهُمّ اغْفِرْ لِي ذَنْبِي. فَقَالَ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَىَ: أَذْنَبَ عَبْدِي ذَنْباً، فَعَلِمَ أَنّ لَهُ رَبّا يَغْفِرُ الذّنْبَ، وَيَأْخُذَ بِالذّنْبِ. ثُمّ عَادَ فَأَذْنَبَ. فَقَالَ: أَيْ رَبّ اغْفِرْ لِي ذَنْبِي. فَقَالَ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَىَ: عَبْدِي أَذْنَبَ ذَنْباً. فَعَلِمَ أَنّ لَهُ رَبّا يَغْفِرُ الذّنْبَ، وَيَأْخُذُ بِالذّنْبِ. ثُمّ عَادَ فَأَذْنَبَ فَقَالَ: أَيْ رَبّ اغْفِرْ لِي ذَنْبِي. فَقَالَ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَىَ أَذْنَبَ عَبْدِي ذَنْبَاً. فَعَلِمَ أَنّ لَهُ رَبّا يَغْفِرُ الذّنْبَ، وَيَأْخُذُ بِالذّنْبِ. اعْمَلْ مَا شِئْتَ فَقَدْ غَفَرْتُ لَكَ"
    "A man committed a sin and then said, 'O my Lord. I've committed a sin. Forgive me.' Upon this Allah said, 'My slave committed a sin. He knows that he has a Lord who forgives and punishes for sins. I've forgiven him his sin.' The man committed another sin and said: 'O my Lord. I've committed a sin. Forgive me.' Upon this Allah said, 'My slave committed a sin. He knows that he has a Lord who forgives or punishes for sins. I've forgiven him his sin.' The man then followed up with another sin and said, 'O my Lord. I've committed a sin. Forgive me.' Upon this Allah said, 'My slave committed a sin. He knows that he has a Lord who forgives and punishes for sins. I call you to witness that I've forgiven My slave. So let him do what he will.' (However, what this last part means is that his previous sins are forgiven, since he admitted them, and that he will be saved from future ones by the will of Allah: Qurtubi).
    Another hadith on the subject has been recorded by Ahmad, as well as by Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah (which Shu`ayb Anra’ut treated as Sahih on the basis of several citations: Au.). It reports Abu Hurayrah as saying:

    "قُلْنَا يَا رَسُولَ الله: مَالَنَا إِذَا كُنّا عِنْدَكَ رَقّتْ قُلُوبُنَا، وَزَهَدْنَا في الدّنيا وَكُنّا مِنْ أَهْلِ الاَخِرَةِ، فَإِذَا خْرَجْنَا مِنْ عِنْدِكَ فَأَنَسْنَا أَهَالِينَا وَشَمَمْنَا الأَوْلاَدَ أَنْكَرْنَا أَنْفُسَنَا؟ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "لَوْ أَنّكُمْ تَكُونُونَ إِذَا خَرَجْتُمْ مِنْ عِنْدِي كُنْتُمْ عَلَى حَالِكُمْ ذَلِكَ لَزَارَتْكُمْ المَلاَئِكَةُ فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ، وَلَوْ لَمْ تَذْنِبُوا لْجَاءَ الله بِخَلْقٍ جديدٍ كَيّ يَذْنِبُوا فَيَغْفِرَ لَهُمْ. قَالَ قلت: يَا رسولَ الله مِمّ خُلِقَ الْخُلْقُ؟ قالَ: مِنَ المَاءِ. قُلْنا الْجَنّةُ مَا بِنَاؤُهَا؟ قَالَ: "لَبِنَةٌ مِنْ فِضّةٍ وَلَبِنَةٌ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ، وَمِلاَطُهَا المِسْكُ الأَذْفَرُ وَحَصْبَاؤُهَا الّلؤْلُؤُ وَاليَاقُوتُ وَتُرْبَتُهَا الزّعْفَرَانُ مَنْ يَدْخُلْهَا يَنْعَمْ لاَ يَبْأَسْ، وَيَخْلُدْ لاَ يَمُوتُ: وَلاَ تَبْلَى ثِيَابُهُمْ وَلاَ يَفْنَى شَبَابَهُمْ. ثُمّ قَالَ: ثَلاَثٌ لاَ تُرَدُ دَعْوَتُهُمْ: الإِمَامُ العَادِلُ، وَالصّائِمُ حِينَ يُفْطِرُ، وَدَعْوَةُ المَظْلُومِ يَرْفَعُهَا فَوْقَ الغَمَامِ، وَتَفْتَحُ لَهَا أَبْوَابَ السّمَاءِ، وَيَقُولُ الرّبّ عز وجل: وَعِزّتِي لأَنْصُرَتّكَ وَلَوْ بَعْدَ حِين.ٍ"

    "We said, 'Messenger of Allah. What’s wrong with us that when we are in your presence our hearts soften up, we treat the world with disdain, and we feel concerned with the Hereafter alone; but when we part company with you, the world bewitches us, and our wives and children engage us.' He said, 'Were you to be always in the state in which you are when with me, angels would shake hands with you and visit you in your homes. And, were you not to sin, Allah would bring a people who will sin so that He might forgive them.' We said, 'Messenger of Allah. Tell us about Paradise, as to how it has been built?' He said, 'A golden brick upon a silver brick, with musk of Azfar grass as its mortar, pearls as the pebbles and saffron as its floor. Whoever gained entry into it will be in great pleasures and never unhappy, will abide forever and never die. His clothes will never get torn there, and his youth will never fade. There are three whose supplication is not rejected: A just ruler, a fasting person when he breaks his fast, and the call of the oppressed which are carried above the clouds, for which the gates of heaven are opened and the Lord says, 'By My Power. I shall help you, even if be after a while'" (Ibn Kathir).
    Qurtubi comments: It should be understood, however, that repentance requires atonement, such as, performance of a religious duty that was neglected, or returning of the people's rights if they were wronged, and so forth.
    He also adds: Our scholars say however, that the istighfar that is expected of a believer is something that deters repetition of the sin, and not that which is spoken out with the tongue. If one says astagh fi rullaha with his tongue but his heart is with the sin, ready to repeat it, then such an istighfar itself demands another istighfar. This is reported of Hasan al Basri used to say: "Our istighfar demands istighfar." If that was in his time, then, what about in our own times (Qurtubi's), when people go about with beads in their hands, committing sins upon sins, and quite sure that they will be forgiven!
    Sahal bin `Abdullah has said: "The ignorant is dead. The forgetful is sleeping. The sinner is drunk and the repeater is destroyed. And the repeater is the one who puts off repentance to the next day, while the next day may not be his."
    215. Majid says: "A staggering blow to the Christian idea that the power of forgiving sins is in the hands of Christ and the pastors of his Church. Cf. the NT: 'Then Jesus said to them again ... Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted upon them; and whose sins ye retain, they are retained.' (Jn. 20: 20 23). 'Unlimited power of remitting sin was promised and conferred upon the Apostles and their successors by Jesus Christ. This power is exercised in the Sacrament of Penance' (CD. p. 821). And the following is an extract from Dr. Butler's 'Catechism' for the Roman Catholics:
    'Q. By whose power are sins forgiven?
    A. By the power of God, which Christ left to the pastors of the Church' (p.84)."
    216. This shows that of the believers there are three kinds: the “godfearing,” the "repenting," and the "persisting" (Zamakhshari).
    217. It is said (in `Abd b. Humayd: Alusi, and in Ibn al Mundhir: Shawkani), that some Companions went to the Prophet and said that the Israelites were quite lucky in that when they committed a sin they found it written on their door along with the expiation required (which made it easy for them to wash their sins off: Au.). Upon this, these verses were revealed (which showed a way of expiation without the humiliation: Au.). It is reported of Thabit al Bunani that he said (and so has Malik b. Anas: Ibn Kathir): "When this verse was revealed, Iblis wept."
    Further, `Ali is reported to have said that he heard Abu Bakr report the Prophet "and Abu Bakr never lied, that,

    مَا مِنْ رَجُلٍ يُذْنِبُ ذَنْبًا فَيَتَوَضَّأُ فَيُحْسِنُ الْوُضُوءَ قَالَ مِسْعَرٌ وَيُصَلِّي وَقَالَ سُفْيَانُ ثُمَّ يُصَلِّي رَكْعَتَيْنِ فَيَسْتَغْفِرُ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إِلَّا غَفَرَ لَهُ

    No Muslims commits a sin, then makes a good ablution, offers two raka`ah of Prayer, and seeks Allah's forgiveness but he is forgiven.' Then the Prophet recited this verse" (Ibn Jarir).
    The hadith is also in Ahmad, Ibn Majah and in the Sahih of Ibn Hibban (Ibn Kathir).
    It is also in Tirmidhi who declares it hasan (Qurtubi).
    Some scholars have said that the meaning of israr of the original is 'not to commit a sin as soon as its wrongfulness is realized.' Others have said that it is to 'commit a sin deliberately and then seek forgiveness.' Yet others have said that it is 'not to seek forgiveness.' However, the weightier meaning is 'not to repeat the sin.' The Prophet has said:
    ما أَصَرّ مَنِ اسْتَغْفَرَ وَإِنْ عَادَ في الْيَوْمِ سَبْعِينَ مَرّةً
    “He did not persist who sought forgiveness, even if he sinned seventy times in a day" (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari).
    The hadith is at least of hasan grade (Ibn Kathir).

    أُولَٰئِكَ جَزَاؤُهُمْ مَغْفِرَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَجَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ وَنِعْمَ أَجْرُ الْعَامِلِينَ (136)

    3|136| Such, their reward is forgiveness217 from their Lord and Gardens beneath which rivers flow, dwelling therein forever. An excellent reward for those who labor.218

    218. Zamakhshari writes: With reference to this verse, "An excellent reward for those who labor," Shahar b. Hawshab remarked: "To ask for Paradise without working for it is a sin. To depend on intercession without creating a cause for it is a kind of self deception. And to seek mercy from Him who is not obeyed is a kind of foolishness."
    Rabi`ah al Basriyyah is reported to have sung the following couplet:
    Seek thou salvation, but do not tread its course?!
    Alas, a ship does not sail on sand.

    قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ سُنَنٌ فَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانْظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ (137)

    3|137| Examples have preceded you,219 so go about in the land and see what was the end of those who cried lies.

    219. That is: Consider how We sent our Messengers to earlier people whom they promptly rejected. But We allowed them respite, and then, when they did not heed, gradually led them down to their destruction, making them a sign and a lesson for the posterity (Ibn Jarir).
    Ibn Ishaq has said that when the Companions of the Prophet thought of Uhud and the grief it had brought, this verse was revealed to tell them that ‘the operative laws had not changed’ (Ibn Jarir).

    هَٰذَا بَيَانٌ لِلنَّاسِ وَهُدًى وَمَوْعِظَةٌ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ (138)

    3|138| This is a plain exposition for the people, a Guidance, and an admonition for the godfearing.

    وَلَا تَهِنُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَنْتُمُ الْأَعْلَوْنَ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ (139)

    3|139| And weaken not, nor grieve, for you shall have the upper hand if you are believers.220

    220. Ibn `Abbas has said that when the Prophet saw Khalid ibn al Walid climbing the hill with his men, he prayed: "O Allah. May they not come on top of us (la ya`lu `alayna)." So Allah revealed: "You will be on top of them (antum 'l a`lawn)" Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi.
    What is being said is that you and they are not on the same footing. You are above them (a`lawn). You fight in Allah's cause, while they fight in the cause of the Devil. Your dead are in Paradise while theirs are in the Fire.
    It could also mean that ultimately it is you who will triumph (Zamakhshari).
    Nonetheless, after this verse the Companions never lost a battle (Qurtubi).
    During the lessons our teacher (Sheikh Muhammad `Abduh) said: "Last Thursday (Dhu al Qa`idah 1320), I saw the Prophet in my dream. He was leaving Uhud with his Companions. He was saying, 'If I was given the choice between defeat and victory, I would choose defeat.' Probably he said so for the reasons of the many lessons that it brought in its wake, such as, Allah's instruction to the believers not to slacken, rather, make preparations, and several others" (Rashid Rida).

    إِنْ يَمْسَسْكُمْ قَرْحٌ فَقَدْ مَسَّ الْقَوْمَ قَرْحٌ مِثْلُهُ ۚ وَتِلْكَ الْأَيَّامُ نُدَاوِلُهَا بَيْنَ النَّاسِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَيَتَّخِذَ مِنْكُمْ شُهَدَاءَ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الظَّالِمِينَ (140)

    3|140| If you have been inflicted wounds, then the (unbelieving) people have also received similar wounds. These days We run through the people in turns221 in order that He knows the believers, and in order that He may take martyrs from your ranks.222 And Allah does not approve of the transgressors.223

    221. "So a day for you and a day for the heathens" (Suddi Ibn Jarir).
    As noted above, after the battle Abu Sufyan climbed a hill and called out addressing the Muslims who were seeking refuge on a higher one: "Where is Muhammad, where is Abu Bakr, where is `Umar?" `Umar replied: "Here we are." Abu Sufyan said: "A day for a day. Days are in vicissitudes. And war is like a bucket (that goes up and down the well: Au.)." `Umar replied: "We are not equal. Our dead are in Paradise while yours are in Hell fire." Abu Sufyan said: "If that is your claim then surely we are the losers" (Zamakhshari, Razi).
    222. I.e., We give you or the heathens upper hand in turns to find out which of you is a true believer and which a hypocrite (Ibn Ishaq), and to bestow martyrdom on those who had wished for it (Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Ibn Ishaq Ibn Jarir).
    223. "The Qur'an quite often uses the term "al zalimun" in the sense of al mushrikun, that is, those who ascribe partners unto Allah. For instance, in (31: 13):
    Shahar b. Hawshab has said:

    إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ [لقمان : 13]

    "Surely, association is a great transgression."
    The Sahihayn report `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud as having asked the Prophet about the greatest of sins. He replied

    أَيّ الذنبِ أَعْظَمُ عِنْدَ الله؟ قَالَ: "أَنْ تَجْعَلَ لله نِدّا وَهُوَ خَلَقَكَ

    "That you should set up equals to Allah, while He created you" (Sayyid).

    وَلِيُمَحِّصَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَيَمْحَقَ الْكَافِرِينَ (141)

    3|141| (The setback at Uhud was) in order that Allah may purify the believers and destroy the unbelievers.224

    224. With such events as Uhud, when the people are subjected to tests, the true believers emerge successful, while the hypocrites fail and are led to destruction (Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Suddi, Ibn Ishaq: Ibn Jarir).
    The term mahaqa of the original gives the meaning of slow destruction, little by little (Alusi).

    أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَنْ تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَعْلَمِ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا مِنْكُمْ وَيَعْلَمَ الصَّابِرِينَ (142)

    3|142| Or, do you imagine that you will enter Paradise while Allah has not yet known those of you who fight, and He may know the persevering (ones).

    وَلَقَدْ كُنْتُمْ تَمَنَّوْنَ الْمَوْتَ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ تَلْقَوْهُ فَقَدْ رَأَيْتُمُوهُ وَأَنْتُمْ تَنْظُرُونَ (143)

    3|143| You were longing death before you encountered it. Now you have experienced it, beholding it.225

    225. This refers to those of the Companions who had missed participation at Badr, wanted the Prophet to go out of Madinah to face the enemy there, so that they could fight face to face, show their fighting prowess, and have a chance to win martyrdom. But when the enemy onslaught came, (and the rumors of the Prophet's death depressed them: Au.) they fled (Mujahid, Qatadah, Suddi, Ibn Ishaq Ibn Jarir).
    And the verse came as a warning to Muslims that they ought not wish to fight or wish to die (in Allah's cause), unless they are sure they can remain true to their wishes (Zamakhshari).
    In other words, wishing martyrdom itself is not prohibited. What is prohibited is to show the back when a difficult situation arises in the battle field (Thanwi).
    Hence the Prophet has said in a hadith of the Sahihayn:

    لاَ تَتَمَنّوْا لِقَاءَ الْعَدُوّ وَاسْأَلُوا اللّهَ الْعَافِيَةَ، فَإذَا لَقِيتُمُوهُمْ فَاصْبِرُوا وَاعْلَمُوا أَنّ الْجَنّةَ تَحْتَ ظِلاَلِ السّيُوفِ

    "Do not wish to encounter the enemy. Rather, seek peace. But if you do meet them, then stay firm and know that Paradise is under the shade of the swords" (Ibn Kathir).

    وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ ۚ أَفَإِنْ مَاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انْقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِكُمْ ۚ وَمَنْ يَنْقَلِبْ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيْهِ فَلَنْ يَضُرَّ اللَّهَ شَيْئًا ۗ وَسَيَجْزِي اللَّهُ الشَّاكِرِينَ (144)

    3|144| Muhammad is not aught but a Messenger. Messengers have passed away before him.226 Were he to die, or be killed, will you turn about on your heals?227 Whoso turns about on his heels will do no harm to Allah.228 And Allah shall surely recompense the thanksgiving.229

    226. "Da`wah is older than the da`i ... and will outlast the da`i ... Callers to the Call will come and go. The Call itself will remain ... through and through the ages ... with each new generation of callers turning for inspiration to the Primary Source ... Allah ... the Everlasting" (Sayyid).
    227. This refers to the situation in the battle of Uhud when the Prophet (saws) disappeared from the sight, and the news spread that he was dead. (According to a report in Bukhari of `A'isha's narration, it was Iblis who had shouted out that Muhammad was dead: Ibn Kathir). At this, some people, in whose heart was sickness, said that if he was dead there was no point in remaining Muslims. (Some Muslims said: "O that `Abdullah ibn Ubayy was with us, so he could strike a deal with Abu Sufyan: Zamakhshari). Others, who were true in their faith such as an Ansari who was found by a Muhajir injured and bleeding said that if he was dead, there was no point in living, rather, it would be better to die defending what Muhammad had died defending. Thereupon Allah revealed this verse (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Razi).
    These lines announced that Muhammad's messengership was not a new phenomenon. Other Messengers had come and gone, and one day he will be gone too; as it happened a few years later when he died. (For Messengers are sent to deliver the message, and complete the argument, and not to abide with their people: Zamakhshari). But when that happened, and the Messenger actually died, the people weren't ready to accept the fact. Even a person like `Umar declared that he would behead anyone who said that Muhammad was dead. (That was how `Umar reacted, while, as some people have said, `Uthman was dumb, and `Ali out of sight: Qurtubi). "People," as `A'isha has reported in a version in Bukhari, "were in a state of shock and perplexity, until Abu Bakr arrived (from one of his wives, who lived among the Banu `Awali, a mile out of Madinah: Qurtubi). He went to the corpse, removed the covering, bent down, kissed the forehead and said, 'By Allah. He will not give you two deaths. The death that was written for you has overtaken you.' Then he entered the mosque where he encountered `Umar. He told him, 'Sit down `Umar!' He proceeded to the pulpit and addressed the people in words: 'People. Those who worshipped Muhammad should know that he is dead. But those who worshipped Allah, should know that Allah is Living. He does not die.' Then he recited this verse: 'Muhammad is naught but a Messenger... (until the end).' "And, by God," continues `A'isha, "it was as if the people had not heard of this revelation earlier. It was as if they had just learnt it from Abu Bakr! The next minute, the verse was on everyone's lip." Sa`id ibn al Musayyib adds that `Umar said, 'I did not hear Abu Bakr reciting it, but I began to sweat, and (with its meaning gradually settling upon him), my legs gave way and I collapsed' (Ibn Kathir).
    Qurtubi quotes the following here: Anas b. Malik said, as recorded in Ibn Majah: "Madinah had lit up the day the Prophet had entered it, and darkened the day he died. And, it wasn't a moment after we had buried him, but we felt a change in our hearts."
    Ibn `Umar said: "Until the Prophet was alive, we used to be careful with our women, avoiding even talking to them playfully, fearful that a revelation might come down censuring us. When he was dead, we became free with them."
    228. In this verse was the prediction that the death of the Prophet will be followed by some apostasy. (Shabbir).
    229. `Ali is reported to have said that Abu Bakr is the leader of the "Thanksgiving" (Ibn Jarir, Shawkani).

    وَمَا كَانَ لِنَفْسٍ أَنْ تَمُوتَ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ كِتَابًا مُؤَجَّلًا ۗ وَمَنْ يُرِدْ ثَوَابَ الدُّنْيَا نُؤْتِهِ مِنْهَا وَمَنْ يُرِدْ ثَوَابَ الْآخِرَةِ نُؤْتِهِ مِنْهَا ۚ وَسَنَجْزِي الشَّاكِرِينَ (145)

    3|145| It is not given to any soul to die, save by the will of Allah - (there being) an appointed term (for everyone).230 Whoso seeks the rewards of this world, We will give him of it. And whoso seeks the reward of the next world, We will give him of that.231 And We shall surely recompense the thanksgiving.

    230. (During their encounters with the Persians, much later, during `Umar's caliphate) when the Islamic forces were unable to reach the enemy forces that were at the other side of river Dijlah (Tigris), Hajr b. `Udayy addressed the Muslims: "What?! Is there nothing between you and them, but this river? It is not for any soul to die save by the will of Allah an appointed term?" Then he plunged his horse into the river. Following his example others also plunged their horses into the river (and nobody was drowned). When they arrived at the other side, the Persians began to say, "Deo an," (meaning, "The supermen have arrived: Au.), and fled (Ibn Kathir).
    231. As said Allah elsewhere (17: 18, 19):

    مَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعَاجِلَةَ عَجَّلْنَا لَهُ فِيهَا مَا نَشَاءُ لِمَنْ نُرِيدُ ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَا لَهُ جَهَنَّمَ يَصْلَاهَا مَذْمُومًا مَدْحُورًا (18) وَمَنْ أَرَادَ الْآخِرَةَ وَسَعَى لَهَا سَعْيَهَا وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولَئِكَ كَانَ سَعْيُهُمْ مَشْكُورًا [الإسراء : 18 ، 19]

    "Whoso wishes for the transitory things, We hasten for him therein, what We will unto whomsoever We will. Then We have appointed for him Jahannum, which he will reach, disgraced and rejected. As for him who wishes for the Hereafter, and strives after it in the way it deserves to be striven for and he is a believer such are the ones whose striving will be well appreciated" (Ibn Kathir).

    وَكَأَيِّنْ مِنْ نَبِيٍّ قَاتَلَ مَعَهُ رِبِّيُّونَ كَثِيرٌ فَمَا وَهَنُوا لِمَا أَصَابَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَمَا ضَعُفُوا وَمَا اسْتَكَانُوا ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الصَّابِرِينَ (146)

    3|146| How many Prophets there have not been with whom large bands of godly men232 fought?233 They did not lose heart at the setbacks they suffered in the way of Allah; neither did they weaken, nor yet they gave in.234 And Allah loves the Patient.235

    232. The word in the original is ribbiyyun (sing. ribbi) and can be interpreted both to mean "groups" as well as "batches", which is the opinion of Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Mujahid, Dahhak, Rabi`, Suddi and others. Nonetheless, it can as well be understood as "scholars" (or godly men: rabbi), which is the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Hasan, Ibn al Mubarak and others (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi). Of the grammarians, Zajjaj is with the former, while Khalil sides with the latter (Shawkani).
    233. (Although a variant reading of qatala [fought] is qutila [were killed] which would mean that many Prophets have earlier been killed along with their numerous followers in the battle fields fighting in the way of Allah, but that did not deter the rest from following their ways a meaning of Ibn Jarir's preference: Au.) Hasan [and Sa`id ibn Jubayr: Zamakhshari and Razi], however, has said that no Prophet was ever killed in a battlefield [and hence qatala is the right reading: Au.] Shawkani.
    234. Razi comments: The original has three words of similar meaning: viz., wahn, da`f, and istikanah. What's the difference? Zamakhshari has said in explanation: "They did not weaken down at the death of their Prophet (ma wahanu), did not slacken their jihad efforts after him (ma da`ufu) and, did not seek compromises with their enemies (ma istakanu). However, there is another way of differentiation: Wahn is the weakness that strikes the heart; da`f is that which affects the body leading it to inactivity; and istikanah is the display of such internal weaknesses to others.
    235. So, the absence of wahn, da`f and istikanah are signs of sabr (Au.).

    وَمَا كَانَ قَوْلَهُمْ إِلَّا أَنْ قَالُوا رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَإِسْرَافَنَا فِي أَمْرِنَا وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وَانْصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ (147)

    3|147| They had nothing to say except that they prayed: 'Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and our excesses in our affairs,236 make firm our feet and help us against the unbelieving people.

    236. One of the Prophet's prayer words, according to Muslim, were:

    اللهُمَّ اغفِر لِي خَطيئَتِي وجَهلِي وإسرافِي فِي أَمري ومَا أَنت أَعلمُ بِه مِني ، اللهُمَّ اغفِر لِي هَزلِي وجِدي وخَطأي وعَمدِي وكُلُ ذَلك عِندِي

    "O Allah, forgive me my errors, my ignorance, my excesses in my affairs, and what You know of me more than I. O Allah, forgive me my frivolous and the serious, my unintended errors, and intended errors, and all of them are in me."
    The Prophet’s followers should also adopt his proven prayer words, which are Divinely inspired, rather than substitute them with their own words (Qurtubi).

    فَآتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ ثَوَابَ الدُّنْيَا وَحُسْنَ ثَوَابِ الْآخِرَةِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ (148)

    3|148| So Allah gave them the reward of this world and the excellent reward of the Hereafter. And Allah loves those who do good.

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنْ تُطِيعُوا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يَرُدُّوكُمْ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِكُمْ فَتَنْقَلِبُوا خَاسِرِينَ (149)

    3|149| Believers! If you follow the unbelievers, they will turn you upon your heels, in which case you will turn about losers.

    بَلِ اللَّهُ مَوْلَاكُمْ ۖ وَهُوَ خَيْرُ النَّاصِرِينَ (150)

    3|150| Allah is your Protector, and He is the best of the helpers.

    سَنُلْقِي فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا الرُّعْبَ بِمَا أَشْرَكُوا بِاللَّهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا ۖ وَمَأْوَاهُمُ النَّارُ ۚ وَبِئْسَ مَثْوَى الظَّالِمِينَ (151)

    3|151| We shall soon cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers,237 because of their association of partners with Allah for which He has not sent any authority. Their end is the Fire: an evil abode for the wrongdoers.

    237. Suddi said that on their way back to Makkah, Abu Sufyan and his men realized that victory was not complete. They could have plundered Madinah and destroyed the Muslims root and branch. But Allah cast terror in their hearts and they did not return (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari). In fact, they gave some money to a Bedouin, to go across to Muhammad and warn him that Abu Sufyan was coming back. But, instead of panic, it prompted the Prophet to pursue them with a chosen band of men following their trail until he arrived at a place called Hamra 'l Asad. However, Abu Sufyan's victorious army did not have the courage to turn back and fight (Alusi, Thanwi, Majid and others).
    Ibn Kathir has written: (The casting of fear in the hearts of the unbelievers was not specific to that situation: Razi). According to a hadith in the Sahihayn the Prophet (saws) is reported by Jabir b. `Abdullah as having said

    أُعْطِيتُ خَمْسًا لَمْ يُعْطَهُنَّ أَحَدٌ مِنْ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ قَبْلِي نُصِرْتُ بِالرُّعْبِ مَسِيرَةَ شَهْرٍ وَجُعِلَتْ لِي الْأَرْضُ مَسْجِدًا وَطَهُورًا وَأَيُّمَا رَجُلٍ مِنْ أُمَّتِي أَدْرَكَتْهُ الصَّلَاةُ فَلْيُصَلِّ وَأُحِلَّتْ لِي الْغَنَائِمُ وَكَانَ النَّبِيُّ يُبْعَثُ إِلَى قَوْمِهِ خَاصَّةً وَبُعِثْتُ إِلَى النَّاسِ كَافَّةً وَأُعْطِيتُ الشَّفَاعَةَ

    "I have been granted five things that no Prophet was granted before me: I have been aided by fright (ru`b) from a distance of a month, dust has been declared pure for me, war booty has been declared lawful to me, I have been granted intercession, and, earlier to me, Prophets used to be sent to a specific people while I have been sent to the entire mankind."

    وَلَقَدْ صَدَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ وَعْدَهُ إِذْ تَحُسُّونَهُمْ بِإِذْنِهِ ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا فَشِلْتُمْ وَتَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي الْأَمْرِ وَعَصَيْتُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا أَرَاكُمْ مَا تُحِبُّونَ ۚ مِنْكُمْ مَنْ يُرِيدُ الدُّنْيَا وَمِنْكُمْ مَنْ يُرِيدُ الْآخِرَةَ ۚ ثُمَّ صَرَفَكُمْ عَنْهُمْ لِيَبْتَلِيَكُمْ ۖ وَلَقَدْ عَفَا عَنْكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (152)

    3|152| Surely, Allah kept His promise with you when you were cutting them down by His will.238 Until you flinched, and fell to disputing in the affair, 239 and disobeyed after He had shown you what you love.240 There were some among you who aimed at this world, while there were others who aimed at the Hereafter.241 Then He turned you from them - in order that He might try you. However, He has forgiven you.242 Allah is full of grace for the believers.

    238. Initially Muslims had an upper hand at Uhud, cutting down the unbelievers from all sides, until the tides turned and they began to flee. This verse refers to that situation. Hence Ibn `Abbas has said that Allah helped the believers in Uhud like He never did before (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    If Allah had not cast terror into the hearts of Abu Sufyan and his men, and, had they decided to plunder Madinah, surely, it would have been a difficult day for the Muslims (Au.).
    239. It refers to some saying, ‘we ought not to abandon the post following the Prophet's instruction,’ while others saying, ‘there was no need for such a precaution since the Makkans had lost the battle’ (Qurtubi).
    240. This refers to the disagreement among the archers on the mount who were ordered by the Prophet not to abandon their post, come what may, victory or defeat. But they disputed the implication of the instruction among themselves, and save for a few, the rest rushed down to collect booty. Muslims were denied the victory they desired (Au.).
    241. It is widely reported of Ibn Mas`ud that he said: "I did not believe there was anyone among the Companions of the Prophet who desired this world, until Allah revealed this verse (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    242. Hasan is reported to have raised the question of what form this forgiveness took, when, as the reality is, seventy of the Muslims were slain, the Prophet lost a dear uncle of his, and he himself had his tooth broken?! Then he replied saying that what Allah meant by the words "He has forgiven you," is that "He did not annihilate and destroy you completely." "Is there in this," Hasan added, "a lesson for the brave sinners of our times? They shall soon know the outcome of their audacity!" (Ibn Jarir).
    Thanwi adds: The verse demonstrates the special status of the Companions with Allah. He punished them, but forgave them immediately, and then consoled them by saying that the whole affair was not entirely without some good results, for it exposed the hypocrites and brought to light the true believers. Further, by saying, "There were some among you who aimed for this world," it was not meant that they were aiming at this world 'for the sake of this world,' rather, it cannot be ruled out that it was 'for the sake of the other world.' Yet it was censurable since it had behind it a disobedience to the Prophet's order, viz., abandoning of the post.

    إِذْ تُصْعِدُونَ وَلَا تَلْوُونَ عَلَىٰ أَحَدٍ وَالرَّسُولُ يَدْعُوكُمْ فِي أُخْرَاكُمْ فَأَثَابَكُمْ غَمًّا بِغَمٍّ لِكَيْلَا تَحْزَنُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَاتَكُمْ وَلَا مَا أَصَابَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ (153)

    3|153| When you were running243 and would not cast a glance at anyone, while the Messenger was calling you in your rear, then, He struck you with distress upon distress,244 so that you may not grieve over what escaped you nor over what befell you. And Allah is Aware of what you do.

    243. This translation is based on the standard reading "tus`iduna" of which the root is "as`ada" (to run, start of, move about on a plane: Ibn Jarir's preference). A variant reading is "tas`aduna" which has its root in "sa`ida" which means (to climb a hill, a tree, etc.). Ibn Kathir prefers the meaning: "When you were climbing (the hill)" Au.
    Qurtubi writes: It cannot be ruled out that they moved out towards the edge of the valley and then climbed the hill, hence both the variant readings, and the meaning they lend, could be correct.
    244. Distress upon distress: one of which was the news that the Prophet was dead, and the other, their massacre at the hands of the Makkan pagans: Qatadah, Mujahid, Rabi` (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Qurtubi).
    (The two mentioned above were the great losses). There were others too, such as: loss of booty, injury to many, the triumphant statements of Abu Sufyan at the base of the hill, and others (Razi, Qurtubi).

    ثُمَّ أَنْزَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ الْغَمِّ أَمَنَةً نُعَاسًا يَغْشَىٰ طَائِفَةً مِنْكُمْ ۖ وَطَائِفَةٌ قَدْ أَهَمَّتْهُمْ أَنْفُسُهُمْ يَظُنُّونَ بِاللَّهِ غَيْرَ الْحَقِّ ظَنَّ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ ۖ يَقُولُونَ هَلْ لَنَا مِنَ الْأَمْرِ مِنْ شَيْءٍ ۗ قُلْ إِنَّ الْأَمْرَ كُلَّهُ لِلَّهِ ۗ يُخْفُونَ فِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ مَا لَا يُبْدُونَ لَكَ ۖ يَقُولُونَ لَوْ كَانَ لَنَا مِنَ الْأَمْرِ شَيْءٌ مَا قُتِلْنَا هَاهُنَا ۗ قُلْ لَوْ كُنْتُمْ فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ لَبَرَزَ الَّذِينَ كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقَتْلُ إِلَىٰ مَضَاجِعِهِمْ ۖ وَلِيَبْتَلِيَ اللَّهُ مَا فِي صُدُورِكُمْ وَلِيُمَحِّصَ مَا فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ (154)

    3|154| Then, after the distress, He sent down upon you by way of peace, a slumber that was overcoming a party of you. But a party was there that was only concerned with itself,245 imagining untrue things about Allah - imaginations (worthy only) of the pre-Islamic days,246 asking: 'Is there any say for us in this affair?’ Tell them: 'The affair belongs entirely to Allah.’ They were concealing in their hearts what they would not let you know, saying: 'Had we any say in the affair, we would never have been slain here.’247 Tell them, 'Had you remained in your homes, surely those for whom death had been ordained,248 would have appeared at the death sites,’ in order that He might try what is in your breasts,249 and purge what is in your hearts. Allah is Aware of what is in the inner recesses of your hearts.

    245. Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Suddi and others have said that what happened after Abu Sufyan had spoken to the Muslims from the foot of the hills and then departed, is that the Prophet sent a man after him to check whether the Makkans were intending to attack Madinah or were heading for Makkah. When it was reported that they were heading for Makkah, the Muslims felt relieved (and: Suddi), a refreshing slumber overtook them. Abu Talha and Ibn Zubayr used to say (the report is in Tirmidhi of hasan sahih status, as well as in Nasa'i: Ibn Kathir, Shawkani) that they did not raise their heads from slumber that was overtaking them ('despite repeated efforts, my sword would slip out of my hand': Abu Talha in Bukhari), but found that all around them heavy heads were tilting down full this way or that. Whereas, adds Suddi, the hypocrites either did not get the news or would not believe that the Makkans had spared Madinah. So they remained tense. Hence the words: "But a party was there that was only concerned with itself" (Ibn Jarir).
    Ibn Mas`ud has added that sleep or slumber during a battle is a sign of peace, but when it is during salah, it is from Shaytan (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Razi said: this is because sleep can only overtake a person during a battle if he has full trust and confidence in Allah, while in salah it can only be because of being at a great distance from Him (at that moment).
    246. That is, thoughts that rest on pre Islamic pagan beliefs: Qatadah (Ibn Jarir).
    Majid remarks: "Al Jahiliyya is a well known synonym for the Arabian dark ages or pre Islamic Arabia, but an erudite Egyptian scholar has recently shown, as quoted by Dr. Zaki Ali, that instead of its literal meaning, the word 'rather denotes arrogance, ostentation and contention which were prevalent among the Arabs before Islam, in contra distinction to modesty, pious resignation conducive to peace, and the advantage of good deeds over the nobility of pedigree, these being distinctive features of the ethics of Islam' (Zaki Ali, Islam and the World, p. 3 f.n.)."
    247. Zubayr (b. al `Awwam) said that even as slumber was overtaking him, he clearly remembers hearing Mu`attab b. Qushayr say (to himself in a low pitched voice: Ibn Kathir), "Had we any say in the affair, we would not have been slain here" (Ibn Jarir).
    248. Hasan has said: "Not everyone participating in a jihad can get killed. It is only those for whom it has been so destined that die (Ibn Jarir).
    249. We have time and again explained that what Allah means by saying: "in order that He may know," or, "in order that We may know," is, "in order that He may let His chosen slaves and true followers know," for He is complete in His knowledge (Ibn Jarir).

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَوَلَّوْا مِنْكُمْ يَوْمَ الْتَقَى الْجَمْعَانِ إِنَّمَا اسْتَزَلَّهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ بِبَعْضِ مَا كَسَبُوا ۖ وَلَقَدْ عَفَا اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٌ (155)

    3|155| Those of you who turned away the day the two forces met, surely, it was Satan who had caused them to slip because of some of what they had earned.250 However, Allah has forgiven them.251 Surely Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Forbearing.

    250. Asad writes: 'This is an illustration of a significant Qur'anic doctrine, which can be thus summarized: "Satan's influence" on man is not the primary cause of sin but its first consequence: that is to say, a consequence of a person's own attitude of mind which in moments of moral crisis induces him to choose the easier, and seemingly more pleasant, of the alternatives open to him, and thus to become guilty of a sin, whether by commission or omission. Thus, God's "causing" a person to commit a sin is conditional upon the existence, in the individual concerned, of an attitude of mind which makes him prone to commit such a sin: which, in its turn presupposes man's free will that is, the ability to make, within certain limitations, a conscious choice between two or more possible courses of action.'
    Commenting on the words, "because of some of what they had earned," Thanwi says that this shows that a previous sin can cause another, just as a good deed gives birth to another good deed.
    251. It is reported that one day `Umar ibn al Khattab recited surah Al `Imran in his Friday sermon. He used to do that quite often. When he reached this verse he said: "When the scales turned in Uhud, I fled. The next thing I saw myself climbing a hill and people saying, 'Muhammad has been killed.' I said, 'I shall not hear anyone say Muhammad has been killed, but I shall kill him.' Then we assembled on top of a hill and Allah revealed this verse."
    (A report in Muslim says that in total seven Ansar and two Muhajirun remained with the Prophet, out of which seven Ansar died defending him, until the Prophet said: "We did not do justice to our brothers." [Other reports suggest that in total 12 were left with the Prophet: Qurtubi]. Bukhari and Muslim have also reported that two men in white attire, who were never seen before or after, presumably Jibril and Mika'il, were seen at the left and right hand side of the Prophet shielding him: Ibn Kathir).
    Some scholars are of the opinion that this has reference to those, who, in the face of defeat, left the battle field and began to climb the hills (Qurtubi). Others are of the opinion that the verse was revealed concerning those who fled to Madinah. Some others have named those Companions who were criticized by this verse (Ibn Jarir).
    In any case, adds Qurtubi, even if the allusion is to those who fled to Madinah, it can be said that they were seeking refuge there, with the expected onslaught of three thousand murderous Makkans against a depleted army of seven hundred Muslims.
    (It might also be noted that it was only the second major battle in Islam and the Muslims did not have a clear instruction about what they were required to do in the face of a defeat: whether to die, to the last man, in the battle field, or retreat to a refuge: Au.). "Hence," Qurtubi has said, "it was their act of abandoning the Prophet which was considered a sin and which evoked Allah's rebuke. Further," he adds, "Allah forgave them the sin, as He forgave Adam the sin of the first disobedience. It was a great favor, for even if a man is truly remorseful, repents and seeks forgiveness for a sin, he cannot be sure that he has been forgiven, as against this sin which was announced forgiven and which left the sinners blameless."
    Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi also add: It is reported by Bukhari that a man came to perform Hajj. He happened to pass by a group of people and enquired who they were. He was told that they were of the Quraysh. He asked: "And who that Sheikh is?" They said, "That's Ibn `Umar." He turned to him and said: "Will you answer me if I asked you some questions?" He replied: "Go ahead." The man asked: "I adjure you by the glory of this House, are you aware that 'Uthman ibn `Affan had fled at Uhud?" Ibn `Umar said: "Yes." The man asked: "Are you aware that he did not participate in the battle of Badr?" Ibn `Umar said: "Yes." Then he asked: "Are you aware that he was not present on the occasion of the Ridwan Pledge?" Ibn `Umar said: "Yes." The man said: "God is Great." Ibn `Umar told him: "Come to me and I'll explain to you these things." Then he told him: "As for his fleeing at Uhud, Allah forgave it. As for his absence at Badr, the Prophet's daughter was his wife and she was sick. The Prophet told him: '(If you stayed back) You shall have rewards, and a share in booty equal to any other participant.' As for his absence from Ridwan Pledge, had there been any other man more honorable than him, the Prophet would have sent him as his emissary to Makkah. The Pledge of Ridwan took place after `Uthman had left for Makkah for negotiations. The Prophet pointed to his right hand and said: 'This is the hand of `Uthman,' and then placing it on the other he said, 'This is `Uthman's pledge.' Take that (from me), and now you can go." In fact, the Bay`ah was occasioned by the rumors that Uthman had been martyred in Makkah (Au.).

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَقَالُوا لِإِخْوَانِهِمْ إِذَا ضَرَبُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ أَوْ كَانُوا غُزًّى لَوْ كَانُوا عِنْدَنَا مَا مَاتُوا وَمَا قُتِلُوا لِيَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ ذَٰلِكَ حَسْرَةً فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ (156)

    3|156| Believers! Be not like those who disbelieved and said about such of their brethren252 as who, when they journeyed through the land, or were in an expedition, that 'Had they remained with us, they would not have died or been slain.’253 This, in order that Allah may make it a source of great regret in their hearts. Indeed, it is Allah who bestows life and deals death.254 Allah sees what you do.

    252. It is the hypocrites who had said these words. It is possible that they were referring to the people of their own kind who died in the Uhud encounter, or on other occasions, and hence the word "brethren." Alternatively, they might have been speaking of their blood-related brothers, and not brothers in faith (Zamakhshari, Razi).
    253. Sayyid writes: "The words, 'had they remained with us, they would not have died or been slain,' reveal the distinguishing marks found in the concepts of one endowed with faith, and the one lacking it ... concepts regarding the Divine Laws that govern life and its numerous facets: both the pleasant as well as the unpleasant. A man of faith understands the laws of Allah, knows the will of Allah, and is satisfied with the decrees of Allah. He knows that nothing but what is decreed by Allah can strike him; that what he got could not have been missed, and what he missed could not have been got. He does not, therefore, meet setbacks with despair, nor does he indulge in excessive celebrations at successes. He does not lose his self before this or that event, nor does he regret at the end of an affair, that if he had not done that, he would not have received this. With him, the considerations of the Divine Decree, efforts, opinions and consultations, are all before the event, and before the action. But after the action, in line with the Decree and efforts, within the limits of his knowledge, and within the limits of the lawful and unlawful ... after the action in the light of these factors ... there is no looking back for him. Whatever the outcome, he meets it with grace, peace, and submission, believing that whatever happened is by the will of Allah and following His wisdom, and that it could not have been otherwise, although it was he who made the efforts, balancing it between actions and submission and between positivism and trust in Allah. As for him whose heart is devoid of faith in Allah, faith of the kind described herewith, it is he who is always in worries ... always in an 'if' and 'if not' situation, or mutters, 'Woe unto me,' or 'to my great ill luck,' etc."
    254. That is, Allah gives life to those who go to the battle field, and death to those who stay back at home (Qurtubi). Not only does Allah give life and deal death, He also lengthens or shortens life of whomsoever He will (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    Khalid ibn al Walid is reported to have said on his death bed: "There isn't a place on my body equal to the length of the span of a hand on which there isn't a mark of an injury that I have received in the battle fields. Yet, here I am dying on this bed" (Zamakhshari).
    "However," Razi writes, "coming as it does, after the mention of the heart, the phrase could also mean that Allah gives life to the hearts of the righteous with the light of guidance, and lets the hearts of the hypocrites die."

    وَلَئِنْ قُتِلْتُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَوْ مُتُّمْ لَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرَحْمَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِمَّا يَجْمَعُونَ (157)

    3|157| If you are slain, or die in Allah’s cause, surely, Allah’s forgiveness and His mercy are better than what they amass.

    وَلَئِنْ مُتُّمْ أَوْ قُتِلْتُمْ لَإِلَى اللَّهِ تُحْشَرُونَ (158)

    3|158| Whether you die or are slain, surely it is unto Allah that you shall be gathered.

    فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ لِنْتَ لَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كُنْتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانْفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ ۖ فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الْأَمْرِ ۖ فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ (159)

    3|159| And by Allah’s grace you are (O Muhammad) soft to them.255 Had you been harsh and hard-hearted, surely they would have dispersed away from about you.256 Therefore, overlook, seek Allah’s forgiveness for them, and consult them in the affairs.257 But when you are resolved,258 put your trust in Allah.259 Verily, Allah approves of those who put their trust (in Him).

    255. The relationship between the previous and this verse is that when the Prophet returned from Uhud, he did not evince any anger toward his followers (Qurtubi), nor toward the hypocrites, rather, was lenient and forgiving, and hence the words: "By Allah's grace you are soft ..." Accordingly, when the Prophet and `Ali were washing their arms after the battle of Uhud, `Uthman's wife came in and enquired about him. `Ali said that `Uthman had disgraced himself (by leaving the battlefield and seeking refuge in Madinah). But the Prophet was not too pleased with the answer. When `Uthman himself showed up a little later, along with two of his friends, all that the Prophet said to him was: "Surely, you travelled a long distance (retreating all the way to Madinah)" Razi.
    Abu Umamah al-Bahili has reported in a hadith of Ahmad that once the Prophet took his hand in his own and said:
    مسند أحمد - (36 / 635)
    يَا أَبَا أُمَامَةَ إِنَّ مِنْ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ مَنْ يَلِينُ لِي قَلْبُهُ
    "O Abu Umamah, there are some among the believers whose heart softens for me" (Ibn Kathir).
    256. According to Rabi`, the description of our Prophet in the Tawrah is as follows:
    إنه ليس بفظ، ولا غليظ، ولا صخاب في الأسواق ولا يجزي بالسيئة السيئة، ولكن يعفو ويصفح
    "He will not be harsh, nor severe, nor quarrelsome in the markets, nor will he pay back an evil with an evil, rather, will forgive and overlook" (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    257. The word shawir refers in its root to the act of extracting honey from a beehive. There was at least one additional reason why Allah ordered the Prophet to consult his followers. Things had gone awry at Uhud after he had consulted them before the battle and had acted according to their wishes. If he had not consulted them in the subsequent affairs, it would have sounded as if he was not too pleased with them at heart, which was not the case (Razi).
    The Prophet always consulted them. He consulted them at Badr: whether they should fight or not; at Uhud: whether they should defend the city from within or go out and meet the enemy in the open; during the battle of the Ditch: whether they should make peace with the Makkans over one third of the dates of Madinah or not, but abandoned the idea after it was opposed; at Hudaibiyyah: whether they should fight the Makkans or not; at the incident of Fidak regarding what was to be done with regard to the rumors about `A'isha; as well as on several other occasions (Ibn Kathir).
    A hadith says that a people will not consult each other in their affairs, but will be guided to what is best for them. And Abu Hurayrah is reported to have said: "I have not encountered another set of people other than the Companions who consulted each other more” (Zamakhshari).
    Some reports, one in Hakim of a strong status, suggest that it was not everyone that the Prophet was supposed to consult, rather men like Abu Bakr and `Umar, for they were, according to `Ali ibn Abi Talib, his apostles, viziers and fathers of the Ummah (Ibn Kathir). Accordingly, the Prophet is reported to have said about Abu Bakr and `Umar:
    لو اجتمعتما في مشورة ما خالفتكما
    "If you two agree on something, I will not go against it" (Alusi).
    In fact, Ibn `Atiyyah has said that consultation is one of the pillars of Islam and a ruler who does not consult may be removed. Ibn Khuwayzmandad has said that it is obligatory on the rulers to consult the scholars in matters of Islamic law, military chiefs in matters of war, prominent citizens in matters of their welfare, and technical and other experts on the developmental affairs... (The more so for them because), as Hasan al Basri and Dahhak have said, the order to consult is actually more binding on the Muslims than on the Prophet, who actually stood in no need of their opinions ... Hence we find that the ruling Companions of the Prophet created a consultative council for state affairs (Qurtubi).
    Asad adds: "This injunction, implying government by consent and council, must be regarded as one of the fundamental clauses of all Qur'anic legislation relating to statecraft. The pronoun "them" relates to the believers, that is, to the whole community; while the word al amr occurring in this context as well as in the much earlier revealed phrase amruhum shura baynahum in 42: 38 denotes all affairs of public concern, including state administration. All authorities agree in that the above ordinance, although addressed in the first instance to the Prophet, is binding on all Muslims and for all times. (For wider implications see State and Government in Islam, pp. 44 ff.)."
    258. When the Prophet was asked according to a tradition in Ibn Marduwayh, on the authority of `Ali ibn Abi Talib to explain the implications of the word `azm in the above context, he replied: "(It means) consulting the knowledgeable people (ahl 'l ra'y) and thereupon following them (in their advice)" Ibn Kathir.
    Thanwi adds: It is not binding, however, upon a person, be he a ruler, to follow the advice of those he consults. He may overrule them and act in the best interests of those who will be directly affected.
    259. Rashid Rida writes: That is, after you have consulted the people, and have made your choices, depend on Allah, (and not on your material means or equipment) and put your plans to action. So did the Prophet when he sought the advice of his Companions whether they should defend the city from within or without. When they had given their opinion, he had made up his mind, and he had put on his armor, he went ahead with the action, not looking back. He did not change his decision when his Companions withdrew their suggestion. Had he done that he would have betrayed lack of firmness. He moved ahead with faith and trust in Allah. In fact, as a corollary it can be added that when a similar incident took place with the British they also did not withdraw from their declared intention. When our master (Sheikh `Abduh) was in Britain they asked him the advisability of sending British troops to Sudan to combat the forces of Mahdi. He told them that it was not advisable and that the British would lose the war. The British did not pay attention and sent out their troops. They were promptly defeated and our master wrote to the British minister reminding him of his own advice. The minister wrote back that be that may, but the British policy was that once the government had taken its decision, it did not like to withdraw it.
    On the subject of tawakkul, it might be pointed out that it is not the name of cessation or slackness of efforts. Tawakkul is an act of the heart, while efforts are the acts of the body. Tirmidhi has preserved a hadith which says:

    التَّاجِرُ الصَّدُوقُ الْأَمِينُ مَعَ النَّبِيِّينَ وَالصِّدِّيقِينَ وَالشُّهَدَاءِ

    "An honest, truthful trader shall be with Prophets, Siddiqun and martyrs on the Day of Judgment."
    In this hadith we see the rule at work is that anyone who made efforts and strove to make his living honestly will be placed with the chosen ones. Another hadith of Tirmidhi, Nasa'i and Ibn Majah says:

    لَوْ أَنّكُمْ كُنْتُمْ تَوَكّلُونَ عَلَى الله حَقّ تَوَكّلِهِ لَرُزِقْتُمْ كَمَا تُرْزَقُ الطّيْرُ تَغْدُو خِمَاصاً وَتَرُوحُ بِطَاناً

    "Were you to have trust in Allah, the way He should be trusted, He would feed you the way He feeds the birds: they go out hungry in the morning and return well-fed by the nightfall." This hadith also indicates that it is necessary to make efforts, so that even the birds have to fly out. According to another hadith, of which various versions exist in Tirmidhi, Ibn Hibban and Tabarani a man asked the Prophet (saws) if he should tie his camel or leave it in Allah's trust. He told him:

    قال رجل يا رسول الله أَعْقِلُهَا وَأَتَوَكّلُ أَوْ أُطْلِقُهَا وَأَتَوَكّلُ؟ قَالَ اعقِلْهَا وَتَوَكَلْ

    "Bind it and have trust in Allah.”
    The above hadith has been declared Hasan by Tirmidhi (Au.).
    `Umar is reported to have said: “Let not anyone sit back at home doing nothing about his sustenance saying, ‘O Allah feed me,’ for you know that the heavens neither rain down silver nor gold” (Rashid Rida: abridged and annotated).
    Thanwi comments: Efforts (tadbir) do not contradict tawakkul. However, they are not absolutely essential. In contrast, tawakkul – in the sense of trust in Allah for the best of outcome – is absolutely essential and obligatory upon every Muslim. The rules for efforts (tadbir) are therefore as follows: If the efforts required are of religious nature, then it is forbidden to neglect them (for instance war preparations, which has been ordered by the Qur’an. Mere tawakkul is not enough for victory: Au.). If the efforts are not a religious requirement, but are of the sort upon which results ‘normally’ depend, then too they cannot be neglected (for instance working for one’s living before expecting to see the dinner table laden with food, although Allah is the Provider: Au.). On the other hand,

    if the effects of efforts on the results are of “uncertain” nature (zanni), then, for someone endowed with a strong will and faith, they are inessential. But if the effects of the efforts are of imaginary type (wahmi), then one should entirely abstain from tadbir (such as, for example, refusing to share a drink from a single bowl out of fear of transmission of diseases: Au.).
    Also see note 196 of this Surah for further discussion.

    إِنْ يَنْصُرْكُمُ اللَّهُ فَلَا غَالِبَ لَكُمْ ۖ وَإِنْ يَخْذُلْكُمْ فَمَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَنْصُرُكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ ۗ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ (160)

    3|160| If Allah helps you, then there is none to overcome you. But if He abandons you, then who is it that can help you after Him?260 Therefore, in Allah let the believers place their trust.

    260. Hence the Prophet’s supplication (abridged):

    فأصْلِحْ لي شأنِي كُلَّهُ وَلاَ تَكِلْني إلى نَفْسِي طَرْفَةَ عَيْنِ

    "O Allah, do not abandon me to my own self, nor to anyone else, even for a moment" (Ibn al-Qayyim).

    وَمَا كَانَ لِنَبِيٍّ أَنْ يَغُلَّ ۚ وَمَنْ يَغْلُلْ يَأْتِ بِمَا غَلَّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۚ ثُمَّ تُوَفَّىٰ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَا كَسَبَتْ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ (161)

    3|161| It is not for a Prophet to be fraudulent.261 Whoever defrauded shall bring the fruits of his fraud on the Day of Judgement.262 Then it is that every soul shall be repaid in full for what it earned, and they shall not be wronged.

    261. There are several interpretations, one of them (preferred by Ibn Jarir) comes from Ibn `Abbas. It says: "This verse was revealed after the battle of Badr when a red gown was found missing of the war spoils and some of the Companions thought that probably the Prophet had kept it for himself (to which he had the right anyway, according to the laws then in force: Au.)" Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir.
    When Ibn `Abbas was asked how his followers could suspect his honesty, he answered: "Why not? If they could attempt to assassinate him (they could also suspect him)" (Razi).
    In other words, Ibn `Abbas had the hypocrites in his mind (Au.).
    However, an alternative explanation (offered by Kalbi and Muqatil: Razi), is that the verse was revealed in response to the conversation that took place between the Prophet and the archers. When he asked them why they had abandoned their post while they had his strict instruction against it, they replied that they thought each person would get what he had helped himself of the booty, and therefore, they might not get a share in the booty. The Prophet remarked: "Did you imagine that we were going to dupe you and deny your share of the booty?!" (Zamakhshari).
    262. In a long hadith (in Bukhari and Muslim: Ibn Kathir), the Prophet is reported to have warned that on the Day of Judgment people would appear with a goat, a horse or a camel on their shoulders those beasts crying in their voices and men pleading help of the Prophet who will say: "I have no power over anything today. I had delivered my message." According to another report (in Bukhari and Muslim: Ibn Kathir), the Prophet sent one of his men to collect zakah. When the man returned he said: "These are zakah goods, and these are my personal things that have been gifted to me." At this the Prophet climbed the mimber and said after praises to Allah: "What's the matter with the people that when I send one of them to collect zakah, he returns and says I have been gifted such and such things. Lo. Why should he not stay put in his house and wait for the gifts to come by?!" Then he added: "People. Fear Allah. Let not one of you come on the Day of Judgment with an animal on his shoulder bleating or neighing, or whining" (Qurtubi).
    According to another report, when the Prophet warned Sa`d b. `Ubadah, (before sending him out on a mission) of the seriousness of the affair of collecting the zakah (in which there is the likelihood of collecting more than the obligatory and earning a sin: Au.), Sa`d b. `Ubadah sought to be spared the job and the Prophet spared him (Ibn Jarir). A similar report is (in Abu Da'ud: Ibn Kathir) about Ibn Mas`ud who declined to accept the responsibility and the Prophet spared him too (Qurtubi).
    According to a report in Ahmad and Abu Da'ud, the Prophet said:

    مَنْ كَانَ لَنَا عَامِلاً فَلْيَكْتَسِبْ زَوْجَةً فَإنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ خَادِمٌ فَلْيَكْتَسِبْ خَادِماً، فإنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ مَسْكَنٌ فَلْيَكْتَسِبْ مَسْكَناً. قال قال أبُو بَكْرٍ: أُخْبِرْتُ أنّ النّبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: مَن اتّخَذَ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ فَهُوَ غَالّ أوْ سَارِقٌ

    "He whom we appoint as a state official may take a house for residence if he hasn't one, a wife as a spouse if he has none, and a servant to serve him if he has none. But whoever took anything more than this is fraudulent or a thief" (Qurtubi),
    According to another report in Ahmad, brought to us by Abu Rafi`, the Prophet used to do his `Asr and go out to Banu `Abdul Ash hal staying some time with them chatting and returning by Maghrib. Once when he was returning and happened to pass by the graves of Jannatu al Baqi`, he turned one side and said, 'Woe unto you, woe unto you.' At this I (the reporter) felt constricted in my shield and fearing he had addressed me and so I fell back. He asked me why I had fallen back. When I told him my fears, he said, 'Rather, that grave is of so and so whom I had sent for collecting zakah, but he kept back a shield for himself. He is being punished now.'"
    We also have the famous story of Khyber preserved in Muslim, related by `Umar ibn al Khattab, which says that people were counting the dead and saying,

    فلان شهيد فلان شهيد حتى مروا على رجل فقالوا فلان شهيد فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: كلا إني رأيته في النار في بردة غلها أو عباءة ثم قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: يا ابن الخطاب إذهب فناد في الناس أنه لا يدخل الجنة إلا المؤمنون

    'So and so is a martyr, so and so is a martyr,' until they passed by a man's corpse and said the same thing. The Prophet interjected: "Not at all. I have seen him in the Fire because of a cloak he had stolen out of the booty." Then the Prophet added, “O Khattab’s son, go and announce: "Beware! None but believers will enter Paradise."
    Finally, we have (Qurtubi), the hadith of the Prophet which says that:

    كَانَ رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إذَا أصَابَ غَنِيمَةً أمَرَ بِلاَلاً، فَنَادَى في النّاسِ، فَيَجِيئُونَ بِغَنَائِمِهِمْ فَيَخْمُسُهُ وَيُقَسّمُهُ، فَجَاءَ رَجُلٌ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ بِزِمَامٍ منْ شَعَرٍ فقَالَ يَارَسُولَ الله هَذَا فَيمَا كُنّا أصَبْنَاهُ منَ الْغَنِيمَةِ فَقالَ أسَمِعْتَ بِلاَلاً يُنَادِي ثَلاَثاً؟ قالَ نَعَمْ. قالَ وَمَا مَنَعَكَ أنْ تَجِيءَ بِهِ فَاعْتَذَرَ إلَيْهِ فقَالَ كُنْ أنْتَ تَجِيءُ به يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَلَنْ أقْبَلهُ عَنْكَ

    After every battle in which booty was obtained, the Prophet ordered Bilal and he announced among the people (that all booty was to be registered with the Prophet). They came with the booty they had captured and he divided in the following manner: one fifth to the state and four fifth to the soldiers. Once it so happened that a man came up after the division with a tuft of hair. The Prophet asked him three times: "Did you hear Bilal's announcement or not? Did you hear Bilal's announcement or not?" The man said he had. "Then what kept you back from bringing it?" he asked him. The man sought to be excused. But the Prophet did not accept his excuse. He said, "Rather, you will bring it with you on the Day of Judgment, I am not accepting it from you now" (Ibn Kathir).
    The above report, as found in Abu Da’ud’s collection, has been termed Hasan (Au.).
    Nevertheless, various reports suggest that food articles are exempted, especially when there is scarcity; so that one might eat out of the booty, to the extent of his hunger without incurring sin (Razi, Qurtubi).

    أَفَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَ اللَّهِ كَمَنْ بَاءَ بِسَخَطٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَمَأْوَاهُ جَهَنَّمُ ۚ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ (162)

    3|162| What?! Can he who followed Allah’s good pleasure can be like him who returned with Allah’s anger, and whose abode is Hell? - an evil homecoming!263

    263. Several interpretations of the two kinds of men referred to at this point are possible: a) true believers and hypocrites, b) those who do not defraud, and those who defraud in the spoils of war, c) he who obeyed and is righteous and he who did not obey and committed sins, and d) those who followed the Prophet in chasing Abu Sufyan after Uhud and those who did not (Razi).

    هُمْ دَرَجَاتٌ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ (163)

    3|163| They are in varying ranks with Allah. And Allah sees all that they do.

    لَقَدْ مَنَّ اللَّهُ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ بَعَثَ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِنْ كَانُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ (164)

    3|164| Surely, Allah conferred a great favor on the believers264 when He raised amidst them a Messenger from amongst themselves,265 who recites to them His verses, purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom,266 while, before that, they were in manifest error.267

    264. Sayyid comments: "What is the great blessing of Allah upon all Muslims of all times that has been conferred upon them through their Prophet? It is that of Islam, its way of life, its social, economic, and political systems. This is now their personal identity card with which they Arab Muslims as the first to be addressed and non Arab Muslims as their partners can introduce themselves to the rest of the world. But if they do not present this as their specialty, what else is there that they can present? Can they present geniuses in arts, science, and literature? No. The people have enough of them, of their own stock and, therefore, are neither in need of them nor are they waiting for the appearance of a few more. Can they, alternatively, present their industrial products and fill their markets with them? No they can not, for the rest of the world is already producing enough. In fact, others are leaders in these fields. Or, can they present to them the secular systems of thoughts and ideas, or economic theories, or what have you not? No, they cannot, for the world is over subscribed with theories and philosophies touching every issue of life. What then is it that the Muslims can present to the world? Lo! It is none other than the religion of Islam and the system of life it offers. Nothing short of the great blessing itself that has been bestowed upon them can they present to the world. The world was never in greater need of it than today. If the Arab and non Arab Muslims cannot present this, then there is nothing else they can offer to the world at large. They are in possession of this great blessing. But what Devil is it which prevents them from presenting this to the world? What Devil is it? (Can anyone tell us)?"
    265. The meaning of the words: "min anfusi him (a Messenger from amongst themselves), is that Allah raised him from their own kind, that is, a man (and not, for instance, an angel: Au.) in order that they might be at ease with him, as He said elsewhere (30: 21):

    وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ [الروم : 21]

    "And of His signs is that He created out of your own selves spouses in order that you may find solace in her."
    In this verse, Allah used the same phrase "min anfusi kum." Allah also said elsewhere (18: 110):

    قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ مِثْلُكُمْ يُوحَى إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ [الكهف : 110]

    "Tell them (O Prophet), I am but a man like you, (save that), it is revealed unto me that your Lord is one Lord."
    Or (25: 20):
    وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا قَبْلَكَ مِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ إِلَّا إِنَّهُمْ لَيَأْكُلُونَ الطَّعَامَ وَيَمْشُونَ فِي الْأَسْوَاقِ [الفرقان : 20]
    "I have not sent before you (O Prophet) Messengers but that they used to eat food and used to go about in the markets."
    And, elsewhere (12: 109):
    وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ إِلَّا رِجَالًا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِمْ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْقُرَى [يوسف : 109]
    "And We have not sent to the chief towns earlier but men, revealing unto them." (Ibn Kathir)
    266. "The Book and the Wisdom" one alludes to what is apparent and extrovert, and the other to what is unapparent and introvert in our religion (Razi).
    267. Sayyid comments: "To understand what purification this verse is referring to, we might recall what Ja`far b. Abi Talib said when he appeared in the court of Najashi to thwart the attempts by the Quraysh to get the Muslims expelled from Habasha. He said: "O King. We were an ignorant people: worshipping idols, devouring carrion, committing indecencies, severing blood ties, neglecting the neighbor, and the strong devouring the weak. We were in this state when there appeared amongst us a Messenger of our own stock. We know his family connections, his truthfulness, his trustworthiness, and his chastity. He called us to one God, in order that we may worship Him alone and give up what we and our forefathers worshipped of stones and idols. He taught us to be truthful, deliver the trust, join the blood ties, do good to the neighbor, abstain from vile things and bloodshed. He forbade us indecencies, false witnessing, devouring of the property of orphans, defaming of chaste women, and ordered us that we worship none but one God, ascribing no partner unto Him, and he ordered us to establish the Prayers, pay the zakah and observe fasts."
    In addition, we may recall what `A'isha had to say about the different kinds of sexual and marital relationships and practices that existed before the advent of Islam. She said, "Before Islam there were four kinds of sexual and marital relationships. First, the kind of practice which is now prevalent, after Islam, according to which, a man proposes to a woman through her guardian and marries her against a dowry. Second, a man would tell his wife, 'Go to such and such a man and lie down with him.' Then he would not touch her until the time he was sure she was pregnant from that man. If she was, he would go into her if he wished. This they would do in order to bring into their own family a trace of nobility of that man. This was known as the 'stock marriage.' Another form of marital relationship was of ten or more people going into a single woman in turns at a time. After she had become pregnant by them and had given birth to a child, she would invite them all to her house. They would all show up without exception. When they had gathered at her place she would say, 'You know what has transpired between us. Now I have given birth to a child.' Then she would declare anyone of them she wished as the child's father, and the man had to accept the child as his son, without anyone protesting about it. Finally, a group of people would gather and go into a woman. These were prostitutes who hoisted a flag on their doors so that they may be recognized as prostitutes. Anyone could go into them. When one of them became pregnant and gave birth to a child, all the people would be invited and a 'tracker' (Qaafah) would be brought in who would decide by physical signs as to whose son the child could be. He would name a person and the child would be attached to him, to be known as his son. The man had no choice in the affair and had to acquiesce."

    أَوَلَمَّا أَصَابَتْكُمْ مُصِيبَةٌ قَدْ أَصَبْتُمْ مِثْلَيْهَا قُلْتُمْ أَنَّىٰ هَٰذَا ۖ قُلْ هُوَ مِنْ عِنْدِ أَنْفُسِكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ (165)

    3|165| Is it that when you were struck with a disaster, while you had struck them (with one) two-fold (in its destructiveness),268 you asked, 'Where is this from?’ Tell them, 'This is from your own selves.269 Verily, Allah has power over all things.’

    268. According to Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, `Ikrimah, and others this refers to the defeat at Uhud where seventy of the Muslims were martyred while at Badr the Muslims had killed seventy and imprisoned seventy (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    269. According to Qatadah, this refers to the advice given by the Companions to the Prophet to go out of Madinah and give the enemy a fight in the open, rather than, as the Prophet had wished, use the city as a bastion and fight from within.
    But, according to `Ubaydah al Salmani and `Ali, this was due to their preference to accept redemption from the prisoners of Badr instead of executing them, and risk martyrdom of seventy of their own men, about which they had been warned by Jibril and by the Prophet, since the Companions thought, at that time, that martyrdom was not such a bad idea after all, and that they needed the money rather so badly then (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Abu Da'ud and Tirmidhi have also related this hadith, but the latter has declared it hasan gharib (which is a kind of weak report: Au.) Ibn Kathir.
    Nasa'i has also this report coming from `Ali (Shawkani). But Shawkani wonders how the report can be reconciled with another trustworthy report according to which the Prophet and Abu Bakr regretted that they had not executed the Prisoners at Badr. Why should they have, if they had been given a choice to act either way? Rashid Rida also doubts the strength of the report. Albani has however declared it trustworthy (Sayyid Ibrahim) Au.

    وَمَا أَصَابَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْتَقَى الْجَمْعَانِ فَبِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (166)

    3|166| What befell you the day the two forces met (at Uhud), was by the will of Allah, in order that He may know the believers.

    وَلِيَعْلَمَ الَّذِينَ نَافَقُوا ۚ وَقِيلَ لَهُمْ تَعَالَوْا قَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَوِ ادْفَعُوا ۖ قَالُوا لَوْ نَعْلَمُ قِتَالًا لَاتَّبَعْنَاكُمْ ۗ هُمْ لِلْكُفْرِ يَوْمَئِذٍ أَقْرَبُ مِنْهُمْ لِلْإِيمَانِ ۚ يَقُولُونَ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ مَا لَيْسَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَكْتُمُونَ (167)

    3|167| And in order that He may know those who resorted to hypocrisy.270 They were told, 'Come. Fight in the way of Allah, or defend,’ they replied, 'Had we known there would be a fight, we would have followed you.’271 That day they were nearer to unbelief than they were to belief,272 uttering with their mouths what was not in their hearts. And Allah is better informed of what they conceal.

    270. According to the grammarian Abu `Ubaydah, the word nifaq (hypocrisy) is derived from the word nafiqah which is the name of one of the two exits of a tunnel that a desert rodent (Jerboa: a kind of rat) digs in the earth for itself. When it is pursued from one end he escapes by the other (Razi, Qurtubi).
    However, it may be noted that Allah did not refer to them as hypocrites, rather as, "those who resorted to hypocrisy." This is because until then hypocrisy of most of the doubters was not firm and certain. For many it was a passing condition of heart. Many in fact repented later to become good Muslims (Rashid Rida).
    271. This refers to the falling back of `Abdullah ibn `Ubayy b. Sallul and his three hundred followers a little out of Madinah on the pretext that they saw no fight at all and that their advice had not been heeded. When they were reproached at the fact that they were abandoning their brethren to perils, they said they did not expect a fight would take place (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani).
    Another possible meaning is that they did not see a fight, rather a slaughter at the hands of the invaders (Razi, Qurtubi).
    272. It has been argued with this verse that a man can be in various states of faith, sometimes weak, sometimes strong (Ibn Kathir).

    الَّذِينَ قَالُوا لِإِخْوَانِهِمْ وَقَعَدُوا لَوْ أَطَاعُونَا مَا قُتِلُوا ۗ قُلْ فَادْرَءُوا عَنْ أَنْفُسِكُمُ الْمَوْتَ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ (168)

    3|168| Those who said about their brethren,273 while they themselves had stayed back, 'Had they obeyed us, they would not have been slain.’ Tell them, 'Then turn death away from your own selves, if you are true.’

    273. See note 251 above.

    وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَاتًا ۚ بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ (169)

    3|169| Consider not those who were slain in the way of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, being provided,

    فَرِحِينَ بِمَا آتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ وَيَسْتَبْشِرُونَ بِالَّذِينَ لَمْ يَلْحَقُوا بِهِمْ مِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ أَلَّا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ (170)

    3|170| Well pleased with what Allah has provided them of His grace, and rejoice in the fact that those behind them who have not yet reached them, shall be in no fear, nor shall they grieve.274

    274. Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, and Jabir b. `Abdullah have variously reported that the Prophet said:
    لَمّا أُصِيبَ إخْوَانُكُم بِأُحُدٍ جَعَلَ الله أرْوَاحَهُمْ في جَوْفِ طَيْرٍ خُضْرٍ تَرِدُ أنْهَارَ الْجَنّةِ تَأْكُلُ مِنْ ثِمَارِهَا وَتَأْوي إلَى قَنَادِيلَ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ مُعَلّقَةٍ في ظِلّ الْعَرْشِ فَلَمّا وَجَدُوا طِيبَ مَأْكَلِهِمْ وَمَشْرَبِهِمْ وَمَقِيلِهِمْ قَالُوا مَنْ يُبَلّغُ إخْوَانَنَا عَنّا أنّا أحْيَاءٌ في الْجَنّةِ نُرْزَقُ لِئَلاّ يَزْهَدُوا في الْجِهَادِ وَلاَ يَنْكُلُوا عِنْدَ الْحَرْبِ؟ فَقَالَ الله تَعَالى: أنَا أُبَلّغُهُمْ عَنْكُم، قالَ: وَأنْزَلَ الله عَزّوَجَلّ: {وَلاَ تَحْسَبَنّ الّذِينَ قُتِلُوا في سَبِيلِ الله أمْوَاتاً} إلى آخِرِ الاَيَةِ
    "Verily, Muslims who fell in the battle fields of Badr and Uhud have been given the forms of green birds. They drink from the springs of Paradise, eat out of its fruits. By the evening they rest on golden lanterns that hang by the shade of the `Arsh. When they find the good food, drink and place of rest, they say, “who will inform our brothers about us, that we are alive in Paradise, well-fed, so that they might also work for it and not turn away from jihad. They are told by Allah that their wishes would be conveyed to their compatriots on earth, and this verse was revealed" (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf, Qurtubi, Shawkani).
    Similar versions are in Muslim, Abu Da'ud and Hakim also. In fact there are reports coming from the Prophet which say that even the souls of ordinary Muslims are in Paradise (in the form of birds: Au.). Indeed, in one of the reports, three of the four great imams appear in the chain of narrators. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal has reported through Muhammad b. Idris Shafe`i and he through Malik b. Anas, and he through others, that the Prophet said:
    إنّمَا نَسَمَةُ الْمُوءْمِنِ طَائِرٌ فِي شَجَرِ الْجَنّةِ حَتّى يَبْعَثَهُ اللّهُ عَزّ وَجَلّ إلَى جَسَدِهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ
    "Souls of the believers are in the form of birds that perch on the trees of Paradise until Allah will put them back in their human form on the Day of Judgment" (Ibn Kathir).
    While on the subject, the following can also be quoted. In a hadith in Muslim the Prophet (saws) is quoted as having said:
    مَا مِنْ نَفْسٍ تَمُوتُ. لَهَا عِنْدَ اللّهِ خَيْرٌ. يَسُرّهَا أَنّهَا تَرْجِعُ إلَى الدّنْيَا. وَلاَ أَنّ لَهَا الدّنْيَا وَمَا فِيهَا. إلاّ الشّهِيدُ. فَإنّهُ يَتَمَنّىَ أَنْ يَرْجِعَ فَيُقْتَلَ فِي الدّنْيَا. لِمَا يَرَى مِنْ فَضْلِ الشّهَادَةِ
    "No soul which dies and finding itself favored there in the Hereafter, wishes that it come back to earth except for the martyr. He wishes that he be sent back and again get killed in the way of Allah. This is because of the favors it sees in martyrdom" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    But it may be remembered that death in Allah's cause expiates all sins, except, as a hadith states, what one borrows in this world. The debts have to be settled before they can enter into Paradise. Now, if it is asked, where are the souls of those martyrs who left the world in debts, since their entry into Paradise is barred, the answer is, it is possible that it is martyrs of this kind who are alluded to in a tradition of the Prophet. He said:

    الشُّهَدَاءُ عَلَى بَارِقِ نَهَرٍ بِبَابِ الْجَنَّةِ فِي قُبَّةٍ خَضْرَاءَ يَخْرُجُ عَلَيْهِمْ رِزْقُهُمْ مِنْ الْجَنَّةِ بُكْرَةً وَعَشِيًّا
    "Souls of the martyrs are near the streams at the gate of Paradise called Baariq in a green tomb, where they are fed from Paradise, morning and evening” (Qurtubi).
    The hadith is in several works including in Hakim’s Mustadrak declared by Dhahabi as of trustworthy chain (Au.).
    However, according to Anas b. Malik, this verse is also applicable to those who were martyred in the Bi’r Ma`una expedition about which another verse was revealed but subsequently abrogated and replaced by this one (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ بِنِعْمَةٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَفَضْلٍ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (171)

    3|171| They rejoice275 in the bounties from their Lord, and His grace, and (in) that Allah lets not the reward of the believers go waste.276

    275. Suddi has said in a statement (in Bukhari: Ibn Kathir) that the martyrs are given a book which tells them that so and so is going to join them on such and such a day, they rejoice in that as they would if someone were to come back to them from a journey (Qurtubi).
    276. According to a hadith in Ibn Majah and Tirmidhi, who has declared it hasan sahih gharib, a martyr enjoys six special benefits:
    يُغْفَرُ لَهُ في أَوّلِ دُفْعَةٍ ويرَى مَقْعَدَهُ مِنَ الْجَنّةِ، ويُجَارُ مِنْ عَذَابِ القَبْرِ، وَيَأْمَنُ مِنَ الفَزَعِ الأكْبَرِ، وَيُوضَعُ على رأْسِهِ تَاجُ الوَقَارِ، اليَاقُوتَةُ منها خَيْرٌ مِنَ الدّنْيَا وما فيها، ويُزَوّجُ اثْنَتَيْنِ وسْبعِينَ زَوْجَةً مِنَ الْحُورِ (الْعِينِ) ، وَيُشَفّعُ في سَبْعِينَ مِنْ أقَارِبِهِ
    1. He is forgiven his sins instantly and is shown his place in Paradise, 2) He is saved from the punishment of the grave, 3) He will be saved from the fear and shock of the Great Day, 4) A crown studded with pearls will be placed on his head better than the world and what it contains, 5) He will be married to seventy houries, and, 6) He will intercede on behalf of seventy of his kinsfolk.
    277. This verse proves that iman increases and decreases (Kashshaf, Razi). As for those who have said that it does not, have only differed in the use of the descriptive words. What they have meant to say is that so far as "testimony" is concerned, it can only be called "testimony" if it is accompanied by "conviction." If any doubt lurks, the testimony is no testimony, and hence there is no "belief" in the person. Yes, there can be increase or decrease in the "faith" (yaqin) of a person. A person, to take an example, has full "faith" in a doctor, finds it shaken and is beset with doubts when he discovers him failing with a patient. Therefore, it is "faith" (yaqin) that accepts increase or decrease of which there are, roughly, three degrees: `ilm 'l yaqin, (faith based on knowledge), haqq 'l yaqin (faith based on proofs and arguments) and `ayn 'l yaqin (faith based on personal experience). It is in this background that some scholars have said that iman neither increases nor decreases since there can be no grades or levels of testimony. Either one testifies honestly or he does not. It is in this sense that `Ali is reported to have said that were the veils to be removed there would be no increase in his faith. (He used the word yaqin). Otherwise no one argues that iman increases or decreases in its warmth and force (Manar).

    الَّذِينَ اسْتَجَابُوا لِلَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا أَصَابَهُمُ الْقَرْحُ ۚ لِلَّذِينَ أَحْسَنُوا مِنْهُمْ وَاتَّقَوْا أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ (172)

    3|172| Those who responded to Allah and the Messenger, after wounds had afflicted them - for all those of them who did good and were godfearing, shall be a great reward.

    الَّذِينَ قَالَ لَهُمُ النَّاسُ إِنَّ النَّاسَ قَدْ جَمَعُوا لَكُمْ فَاخْشَوْهُمْ فَزَادَهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَقَالُوا حَسْبُنَا اللَّهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ (173)

    3|173| Those, to whom the people said, 'Surely, the forces have gathered against you, therefore fear them.’ But that increased them in their faith277 and they said, 'Allah is sufficient for us, an excellent Trustee.’278

    278. Ibn Kathir writes: In a report of Bukhari Ibn `Abbas has said that these were the words Ibrahim (asws) said when he was flung into Fire, and these were the words that Muhammad, peace be upon him, had said when he was told that the forces had gathered against him. It is recommended that the believers also say these words when faced with difficult situations. (However, its utterance does not preclude action: Au.). We have a tradition in Abu Da'ud and Nasa'i which says that once a case was brought up before the Prophet. When he had judged, the man against whom the case had gone, turned back saying: "Allah is sufficient for me, an excellent Trustee (He is)." The Prophet ordered the man brought back. He asked him what it was he had said. The man said, 'I said, "Allah is sufficient for me, and an excellent Trustee (He is)."' The Prophet told him:
    إنّ الله تَعَالَى يَلُومُ عَلَى الْعَجْزِ وَلَكِنْ عَلَيْكَ بالْكَيْسِ فإذَا غَلَبَكَ أَمْرٌ فَقُلْ حَسْبِيَ الله وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ
    "Allah does not approve of weakness. Rather, you have to act wisely. However, if things go wrong (despite that) then you might say: "Allah is sufficient for me, and an excellent Trustee (He is)."
    According to another reliable report the Prophet said:
    كَيْفَ أَنْعَمُ وَصَاحِبُ الْقَرْنِ قَدِ الْتَقَمَ الْقَرْنَ ، وَحَنَى جَبْهَتَهُ يَنْتَظِرُ مَتَى يُؤْمَرُ ، قَالُوا : يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ ، فَمَا تَأْمُرُنَا ؟ قَالَ : قُولُوا حَسْبُنَا اللهُ ، وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ
    "How can I relax when the Trumpet bearer has the Trumpet on his lips, and awaits with the head bowed down, in anticipation of the order to blow." He was asked: "What should we say then, Messenger of Allah?" He replied: "Say: 'Allah is sufficient for us, and an excellent Trustee (He is).'"
    It is also reported of `A'isha and Zaynab (both wives of the Prophet) that they contended with each other. Zaynab said, "Allah married me to the Prophet in the heavens while you were married to him by your kinsfolk." `A'isha replied: "Allah sent down my exoneration from the heavens (and it is) in the Qur'an." With this Zaynab admitted her superiority. Then she asked her: "What did you say when you were found by Safwan b. Mu`attal? (At the time she was left behind by the caravan: Au.). `A'isha said, 'I said, "Allah is sufficient for me, and an excellent Trustee (He is)." Zaynab said: "You said what the believers say" (Ibn Kathir's quotation ends here).

    فَانْقَلَبُوا بِنِعْمَةٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَفَضْلٍ لَمْ يَمْسَسْهُمْ سُوءٌ وَاتَّبَعُوا رِضْوَانَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَظِيمٍ (174)

    3|174| So they returned with blessings and bounty from their Lord, untouched by evil; they followed the good Pleasure of Allah. And Allah is the Lord of a great Bounty.279

    279. `Ikrimah says the allusion is to the campaign of Hamra' al Asad. The battle of Uhud took place on Saturday the 15th of Shawwal. On the evening of the 16th the Prophet's caller announced that volunteers were required for a new campaign. He also announced that only those will be allowed who had participated at Uhud. At this Jabir b. `Abdullah came forward and said, 'You know Messenger of Allah, that I had not stayed back but because my father had said it wasn't right for both of us to go out in the battle leaving seven little girls in no one's care. Therefore I should be allowed to go out now.' (His father was martyred at Uhud: Au.). The Prophet let him join. Some of those who answered the call were Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali, Zubayr, Sa`d, Talha, `Abdul Rahman ibn `Awf, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, Hudhayfah ibn al Yaman, Abu `Ubaydah ibn al Jarrah: in all, some seventy volunteers. They marched up to Hamra' al Asad, in pursuit of Abu Sufyan and his forces.
    According to another report Abu Sa'ib, the freed slave of Uthman, a man from Banu Ash hal and his brother both had received injuries at Uhud. When the second call came, they said to each other that they were not going to miss a campaign in which the Prophet was participating. Accordingly, they both came out, with one of them leaning against the other, joining the Muslims at the camp. From there they marched out to Hamra' al Asad, a station some 12 km from Madinah where the Prophet spent three days before returning.
    In the meanwhile Abu Sufyan and his men who had encamped a little further up at a place called Rawha' began to question their own wisdom in not plundering the city of Madinah. "Neither did you kill Muhammad, nor have you got with you heavy bosomed dames as your pillion riders," chided some of them. Even as they were discussing the return, a man called Ma`bad the Khuza`i came up to them. He was still an unbeliever but with a soft corner for the Prophet. He was unhappy with what had struck the Prophet at Uhud. When Abu Sufyan enquired about the Prophet, Ma`bad bluffed to him that he was right behind him with his forces, in numbers unseen at anytime, swelled by those angry ones at Madinah who had not participated in the battle of Uhud. They are full of vengeance and anger. To drive home the point he recited a few couplets of his own. That scared Abu Sufyan. He offered a passing caravan a camel load of raisins if he would pass by the Prophet and discourage him from pursuing him by telling him that Abu Sufyan was himself coming back with a huge army bent on destroying Madinah. When the Prophet and his Companions were informed of this, it only increased them in their faith and they said: "Allah is sufficient for us, and an excellent Trustee (He is)." This, Ibn Jarir says, seems to be the most likely reason for the revelation of these verses.
    Badr Sughra
    Nevertheless, according to Mujahid, these verses refer to the second campaign of Badr known as Badr al Sughra ('the lesser Badr'). The details are as follows. Before returning from Uhud, Abu Sufyan had promised the Prophet that he would meet him at Badr the next year for another trial of strength. Following his promise Abu Sufyan started out, but fright got the better of him and he returned from Marr 'l Dhahran itself, commissioning Nu`aym b. Mas`ud al Ashja`i at the cost of ten camels to go and relay the news to the Prophet that he was coming up against him with a mighty force. Nu`aym (who embraced Islam during the battle of the Ditch in 5 A.H.: Manar) came down to the town and tried to dissuade the Prophet from setting out, warning him and his men that he did not expect them to return alive, such large were the numbers with Abu Sufyan. This did cause some concern among the Muslims whose response to the Prophet's call was initially lukewarm. But the Prophet was determined and said that he would go alone, even if no one joined him. Encouraged by his determination, some seventy volunteered, and he set out for Badr. On the way they met batches of pagans who all assured them that Abu Sufyan was marching across with an indestructible force. But this only increased them in their faith and they said: "Allah is sufficient for us, an excellent Trustee (He is)." Abu Sufyan of course did not go beyond Marr 'l Dhahran (according to some narrations, `Usfan: Manar). The Muslims, however, chanced into a fair held annually at Badr in which they made great profits and returned laden with merchandise eight days later. This explains the verse: "They returned with blessings and bounty from their Lord, untouched by evil" (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf, Ibn Kathir).
    It seems allusions have been made in these verses to both the campaigns, the Hamra' al Asad as well as the Badr al Sughra. (Verse 172 alludes to Hamra' al Asad, and 173, 174 to Badr al Sughra) Razi, Manar.
    Ibn al-Qayyim and Halabi have stated that the total number of men with the Prophet was around 1500. It is possible that only 70 accompanied him initially, and the rest joined him later (Manar).

    إِنَّمَا ذَٰلِكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ يُخَوِّفُ أَوْلِيَاءَهُ فَلَا تَخَافُوهُمْ وَخَافُونِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ (175)

    3|175| That was Satan scaring you of his friends. So fear them not; fear Me,280 if you are believers.

    280. It is said that it is not he who is fearful of his Lord who weeps and then wipes off his eyes (moments later). It is he who gives up what Allah has forbidden in fear of His punishment (Thanwi, Ashraf al-Tafasir). The Prophet has said in a hasan gharib hadith of Tirmidhi:
    إِنّي أَرَى مَا لاَ تَرَوْنَ وَأَسْمَعُ مَا لاَ تَسْمَعُونَ، أَطّتْ السّمَاءُ وَحُقّ لَهَا أَنْ تَئِطّ مَا فِيهَا مَوْضِعُ أَرْبَعِ أَصَابِعٍ إِلاّ وَمَلَكٌ وَاضِعٌ جَبْهَتَهُ سَاجِداً لله. وَالله لَوْ تَعْلَمُونَ مَا أَعْلَمُ لَضَحِكْتُمْ قَلِيلاً وَلَبَكَيْتُمْ كَثِيراً، وَمَا تَلَذّذْتُمْ بالنّسَاءِ عَلَى الفُرُشِ، وَلَخَرَجْتُمْ إِلَى الصّعُدَاتِ تَجْأَرُونَ إِلَى الله لَوَدِدْتُ أَنّي كُنْتُ شَجَرَةً تُعْضَدُ
    "I see what you do not see, and hear what you do not hear. The heaven is creaking and it is right that it should creak, for there is not an inch of space in it but occupied by an angel in prostration. By Allah! If you knew what I know, you'd laugh less, cry more, would not lie down with your women in your beds, rather, would go out into the fields weeping and crying aloud to God (saying) ‘I wish I was a tree plucked off’" (Qurtubi).

    وَلَا يَحْزُنْكَ الَّذِينَ يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْكُفْرِ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ لَنْ يَضُرُّوا اللَّهَ شَيْئًا ۗ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ أَلَّا يَجْعَلَ لَهُمْ حَظًّا فِي الْآخِرَةِ ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ (176)

    3|176| Let not those who hasten to disbelief281 aggrieve you.282 They will not harm Allah in the least.283 Allah desires not to appoint a share for them in the Hereafter.284 For them is a great chastisement.

    281. Sayyid writes: "Let not those who hasten towards disbelief...": This is a pictorial illustration depicting a psychological state. We can notice some of the unbelievers working real hard in the way of disbelief, falsehood, evil, and sins; as if they are contending with others of their kind for an award awaiting them at the other end. We find them heading speedily, in full zeal, great enthusiasm, and full force, plunging headlong, as if they are being pressed on from the rear or are goaded on from the front by someone holding out an award to the winner of the race."
    282. Rather, they harm themselves alone, entirely, as Allah said in a hadith of Muslim and Tirmidhi narrated by Abu Dharr:
    يَا عِبَادِي إِنّي حَرّمْتُ الظّلْمَ عَلَىَ نَفْسِي. وَجَعَلْتُهُ بَيْنَكُمْ مُحَرّماً. فَلاَ تَظَالَمُوا. يَا عِبَادِي كُلّكُمْ ضَالّ إِلاّ مَنْ هَدَيْتُهُ. فَاسْتَهْدُونِي أَهْدِكُمْ. يَا عِبَادِي كُلّكُمْ جَائِعٌ إِلاّ مَنْ أَطْعَمْتُهُ. فَاسْتَطْعِمُونِي أُطْعِمْكُمْ. يَا عِبَادِي كُلّكُمْ عَارٍ إِلاّ مَنْ كَسَوْتُهُ. فَاسْتَكْسُونِي أَكْسُكُمْ. يَا عِبَادِي إِنّكُمْ تُخْطِئُونَ بِاللّيْلِ وَالنّهَارِ، وَأَنَا أَغْفِرُ الذّنُوبَ جَمِيعاً. فَاسْتَغْفِرُونِي أَغْفِرُ لَكُمْ. يَا عِبَادِي إِنّكُمْ لَنْ تَبْلُغُوا ضَرّي فَتَضُرّونِي. وَلَنْ تَبْلُغُوا نَفْعِي فَتَنْفَعُونِي. يَا عِبَادِي لَوْ أَنّ أَوّلَكُمْ وَآخِرَكُمْ، وَإِنْسَكُمْ وَجِنّكُمْ. كَانُوا عَلَىَ أَتْقَىَ قَلْبِ رَجُلٍ وَاحِدٍ مِنْكُمْ. مَا زَادَ ذَلِكَ فِي مُلْكِي شَيْئاً. يَا عِبَادِي لَوْ أَنّ أَوّلَكُمْ وَآخِرَكُمْ. وَإِنْسَكُمْ وَجِنّكُمْ. كَانُوا عَلَىَ أَفْجَرِ قَلْبِ رَجُلٍ وَاحِدٍ. مَا نَقَصَ ذَلِكَ مِنْ مُلْكِي شَيْئاً. يَا عِبَادِي لَوْ أَنّ أَوّلَكُمْ وَآخِرَكُمْ. وَإِنْسَكُمْ وَجِنّكُمْ. قَامُوا فِي صَعِيدٍ وَاحِدٍ فَسَأَلُونِي. فَأَعْطَيْتُ كُلّ إِنْسَانٍ مَسْأَلَتَهُ. مَا نَقَصَ ذَلِكَ مِمّا عِنْدِي إِلاّ كَمَا يَنْقُصُ الْمِخْيَطُ إِذَا أُدْخِلَ الْبَحْرَ. يَا عِبَادِي إِنّمَا هِيَ أَعْمَالُكُمْ أُحْصِيهَا لَكُمْ. ثُمّ أُوَفّيكُمْ إِيّاهَا. فَمَنْ وَجَدَ خَيْراً فَلْيَحْمَدِ اللّهَ. وَمَنْ وَجَدَ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ فَلاَ يَلُومَنّ إِلاّ نَفْسَهُ
    "O My slaves, I have forbidden oppression unto Myself and have made it unlawful unto you, therefore do not oppress each other. O My slaves, all of you are misguided save him whom I have guided. Therefore seek guidance of Me, I shall guide you. O My slaves, all of you are hungry save him who I have fed. Therefore ask food of Me and I shall feed you. O My slaves, all of you are naked save him I have clothed. Therefore seek clothes of me and I shall clothe you. O My slaves, you sin by the day and by the night and I forgive all of your sins. Therefore, seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you. O My slaves, you can never be in a position to harm Me that you might (attempt to) harm Me, neither can you ever be in a position to be of profit to Me so that you might (try and) cause Me profit. O My slaves, were the first of you and the last of you, the mankind of you and the jinn-kind of you to become as pious as the most pious of you, that will not cause increase in My kingdom in the least. O My slaves, were the first of you and the last of you, the men of you and the jinn of you to become as corrupt as the most corrupt of you, that will not cause decrease in My kingdom in the least. O My slaves, were the first of you, the last of you, the men of you and the jinn of you to gather in a plain field and ask Me, and I were to grant everyone of you what he asked for, that would not cause a decrease in My kingdom more than what would if a needle were to be dipped into the sea. O My slaves, it is nothing but your own deeds that I keep record of and then return them to you (in the form of retribution, good or bad). Therefore, let him who finds good, thank Allah, and let him who finds it different, may blame none but himself" (Qurtubi).
    283. The allusion is to hypocrites (Mujahid, Ibn Ishaq: Ibn Jarir). But some have said that some people became Muslims and then turned apostates. It is they who are alluded to by either of the two verses, 176 and 177 (Razi).
    284. That is, they are in such a state of corruption and evil that it entails their deprivation of the blessings of the Hereafter by the Will of Allah and His Approval (Manar).
    Asad comments: "This is an allusion to the doctrine of natural laws (in Qur'anic terminology, sunnat Allah, "God's way") to which man's inclination and actions as well as all other happenings in the universe are subject. The above verse says, as it were, "Since these people are bent on denying the truth, Our giving the rein [that is, freedom of choice and time for a reconsideration of their attitude] will not work out for the benefit but will, on the contrary, cause them to grow in false self confidence and, thus, in sinfulness." As in many similar passages in the Qur'an, God attributes their "growing in sinfulness" to His own will because it is He who has imposed on all His creation the natural law of cause and effect."

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُا الْكُفْرَ بِالْإِيمَانِ لَنْ يَضُرُّوا اللَّهَ شَيْئًا وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ (177)

    3|177| Those who bartered unbelief at the price of belief, surely they will not harm Allah in the least. For them is a painful chastisement.

    وَلَا يَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ خَيْرٌ لِأَنْفُسِهِمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ لِيَزْدَادُوا إِثْمًا ۚ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُهِينٌ (178)

    3|178| Let not the unbelievers suppose that the respite We grant them is in fact good for their selves. We grant them respite only in order that they may increase in their sins. For them is a humiliating chastisement.

    مَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيَذَرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَىٰ مَا أَنْتُمْ عَلَيْهِ حَتَّىٰ يَمِيزَ الْخَبِيثَ مِنَ الطَّيِّبِ ۗ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُطْلِعَكُمْ عَلَى الْغَيْبِ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَجْتَبِي مِنْ رُسُلِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ ۚ وَإِنْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَلَكُمْ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ (179)

    3|179| Allah was not such as to let the believers remain in the state in which you are, until He distinguished the corrupt from the good.285 And Allah was not such as to let you have knowledge of the Unseen, rather Allah chooses whom He will of His Messengers. Therefore, believe in Allah and His Messengers; and if you believe and are godfearing, then, for you is a great reward.

    285. There are many advantages in the distinction being drawn between the believers and the hypocrites. Without that it might happen that a true believer divulge important information to a hypocrite. It also helps the believers to attempt a realistic evaluation of themselves. On the level of the individual, it can prove to be an unveiling, leading them to corrections. Further, it strikes me that one of the easiest way for a person to know of his situation vis a vis his faith, or of those around him, would be for Allah to directly let him have its knowledge. But this is not the Sunnah of Allah. He does not let people know what is in the unseen. Rather, He leaves it to them, giving them the choice to either make efforts towards corrections, in the light of the guidance sent to them, or be negligent (Manar).

    وَلَا يَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ يَبْخَلُونَ بِمَا آتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ هُوَ خَيْرًا لَهُمْ ۖ بَلْ هُوَ شَرٌّ لَهُمْ ۖ سَيُطَوَّقُونَ مَا بَخِلُوا بِهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۗ وَلِلَّهِ مِيرَاثُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ (180)

    3|180| And let not those who are niggardly286 with what Allah has bestowed upon them by His grace imagine that it is a good thing for them. Rather it is evil for them.287 They shall have that which they used to be niggardly with hung about their necks on the Day of Judgement.288 And to Allah belongs the inheritance of all that is in the heavens and the earth. Allah is Aware of what you do.

    286. There is no difference of opinion among the scholars that niggardliness is applicable to withholding when it is obligatory to spend. Withholding that, the spending of which is not obligatory upon a person, does not incur the same censure (Razi).
    As for the other Qur'anic term shuhh, it is niggardliness coupled with greed (Qurtubi).
    287. When Allah had, up to the last verse, encouraged the believers to go out in the way of Allah, to struggle in His cause with their physical selves, He now follows it up by encouraging them to continue the struggle with their material possessions (Razi, Manar).
    Asad adds: "This is an allusion to the way of life of the unbelievers mentioned in verse 179 above: a way of life characterized by extreme attachment to the material things of this world a materialism based on a lack of belief in anything that transcends the practical problems of life."
    288. The translation follows the interpretation preferred by Ibn Jarir of Ibn Mas`ud, Suddi and others who have said that it is the withholding of zakah that is alluded to which will be given the form of a serpent. On the day of Judgment it will bite the non remitters on their cheeks.
    Ibn Kathir (and to an extent Qurtubi) adds evidence by quoting several ahadith of identical meaning found in various books. One of them, in Bukhari narrated by Abu Hurayrah, says that the Prophet said:
    «مَنْ آتَاهُ اللّهُ عَزّ وَجَلّ مَالاً فَلَمْ يُؤَدّ زَكَاتَهُ مُثّلَ لَهُ مَالُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ شُجَاعا أَقْرَعَ لَهُ زَبِيبَتَانَ يَأْخُذُ بِلِهْزَمَتَيْهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَيَقُولُ: أَنَا مَالُكَ أَنَا كَنْزُكَ ثُمّ تَلاَ هَذِهِ الاَيَةَ {وَلاَ يَحْسَبَنّ الّذِينَ يَبْخَلُونَ بِمَا آتَاهُمُ اللّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ}» (آل عمران، الاَية: 081
    "Whoever was given wealth but did not pay the zakah will have his wealth turned into a serpent with two spots, taking him by his two jaws on the Day of Judgment saying, 'I'm your wealth, I'm your treasure.' Then the Prophet quoted this verse: "Let not those who are niggardly with what Allah has bestowed upon them by His grace imagine that it is a good thing for them. Rather it is evil for them."
    However, Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid have said that the allusion is to the Jews who withhold knowledge of Allah's revelations from the people, and will have some sort of punishment hung around their necks on the Day of Judgment.
    It should be apparent on closer consideration that there is no contradiction between the two opinions. In fact, withholding knowledge sent down by Allah, or corrupting it for worldly reasons, is a sin of greater significance than withholding material wealth. To cite an example of a similar nature: after speaking of what Allah has forbidden of the food in verse 173 of surah al Baqarah, which says:
    إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةَ وَالدَّمَ وَلَحْمَ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ بِهِ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ [البقرة : 173]
    "He has indeed forbidden you only the carrion, blood, flesh of swine, and that which has been consecrated in the name other than that of Allah," after saying that, Allah went on to say in the next verse:
    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْتُمُونَ مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَشْتَرُونَ بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا أُولَئِكَ مَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ إِلَّا النار [البقرة : 174]
    "Those who conceal that which Allah has revealed of the Book and barter in its return a paltry price do not fill their bellies but with Fire," implying that if blood, carrion, etc., are forbidden things, then surely concealing Allah's revelation is forbidden to a greater degree. Furthermore, as Imam Razi has pointed out, the next few verses also point to the possibility that it is the Jews who have been alluded to by this verse, who, anyway, committed both kinds of niggardliness: that involving wealth as well as that involving knowledge (Au.).
    The Relationship: In the verses previous to this one (no. 181) when Allah spoke of charity the unbelievers said that He must be poor to be exhorting His slaves to spend. He revealed these verses (Razi).

    لَقَدْ سَمِعَ اللَّهُ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ فَقِيرٌ وَنَحْنُ أَغْنِيَاءُ ۘ سَنَكْتُبُ مَا قَالُوا وَقَتْلَهُمُ الْأَنْبِيَاءَ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ وَنَقُولُ ذُوقُوا عَذَابَ الْحَرِيقِ (181)

    3|181| Surely, Allah has heard the saying of those who said, 'Allah is poor and we are rich.’289 We shall write down what they have said and (the fact of) their slaying of the Prophets without cause290 and shall say, 'Taste then the chastisement of the burning.’

    289. Ibn Ishaq has said that according to Ibn `Abbas, the following incident occasioned this verse. Abu Bakr visited a group of Jews taking lessons from a Rabbi of theirs called Finhas. Abu Bakr told Finhas to fear God and declare belief in Islam, for he knew at heart that Muhammad was a Messenger. Finhas replied arrogantly that God seemed to be in need of the Jews, while the Jews did not need Him. If God were to be rich He would not have sought loans. He has prohibited the Muslims from charging usury while He had permitted the Jews to accept it which showed that He stood in need of the Jews more than they of Him. Abu Bakr got angry at these words and hit him in the face. Finhas reported to the Prophet. When he asked Abu Bakr the reason, Finhas denied that he had said the things Abu Bakr was alleging. Allah revealed: "Surely Allah has heard the saying of those who said, 'Allah is poor and we are rich...'" Allah further said, referring to what Abu Bakr had heard from Finhas: "You might hear a lot of painful things from those who were given the Book before you, and from the idolaters...." (Ibn Jarir, Razi). The report is in Abu Hatim also (Ibn Kathir). Suddi, Mujahid and Shibl have also said that the Jews were the cause of the revelation of these verses (Ib Jarir).
    According to Hasan, Qatadah and Ibn Zayd, when the Jews said that God was seeking loans, they were referring to an earlier revelation which said (2: 245): "Who is it that will offer Allah a goodly loan ..." (Ibn Jarir).
    290 Obviously the Jews did not mean what they were saying. It was by way of mockery that they had said those things (Qurtubi).
    That is, those who said such things as 'Allah is poor and we are rich' out of ignorance were not demonstrating something new. In earlier times they have even slain their Prophets out of insistence on ignorance (Razi).
    But, we might remind that the Jewish literature reveals that the Jews do think that God needs them (Au.).
    They have been charged with slaying their prophets, although it is their previous generations who did that because they were in full agreement with their previous generations over the issue. Had they disowned their previous generations, they could have been absolved. It is said that someone showed approval of `Uthman's murder before Sha`bi. Sha`bi told him: "You are a co partner in the murder." In fact there is a hadith in Abu Da'ud which says:
    إِذَا عُمِلَتِ الْخَطِيئَةُ فِى الأَرْضِ كَانَ مَنْ شَهِدَهَا فَكَرِهَهَا ». وَقَالَ مَرَّةً « أَنْكَرَهَا ». « كَمَنْ غَابَ عَنْهَا وَمَنْ غَابَ عَنْهَا فَرَضِيَهَا كَانَ كَمَنْ شَهِدَهَا
    "When an evil deed is done in the earth then whoever was present and disapproved of it and, according to another report, disowned it is like someone who was not there; while whoever was not there but approved of it is like he who was present (at the scene of the crime) Qurtubi.
    Munawi has said in Jami` Saghir that the hadith sounds trustworthy (Au.).
    Muhammad `Abduh said: The verse has a message for every new generation of Muslims in that they should examine what has been produced by the previous generations, accept only that which conforms with the Shari`ah and reject the rest. If they do not, then they would be considered equal in their crimes (Manar).

    ذَٰلِكَ بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ لَيْسَ بِظَلَّامٍ لِلْعَبِيدِ (182)

    3|182| This is in return of what your hands have forwarded.291 Allah is never in the least unjust unto the slaves.292

    291. The words "what their hands have forwarded" is to emphasize their intentions and full commitment to what they did (Qurtubi).
    292. That is, Allah will administer punishment in accordance with their deeds, no more, no less. If He does not do it then He cannot be called Just, for there are people who lead a righteous life. Were He to place those who made fun of their Prophets, nay, even murdered them, along with the righteous ones, together in the same Paradise then He would not be just with the righteous ones, and religion itself would be a mockery. But that is not the case. Rather, Allah says (38: 28):
    أَمْ نَجْعَلُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ كَالْمُفْسِدِينَ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَمْ نَجْعَلُ الْمُتَّقِينَ كَالْفُجَّارِ [ص : 28]
    "Or shall We make those who believe and do righteous deeds as the workers of corruption in the earth, or shall We make the godfearing as the transgressors?" (Manar).
    The translation of the verse follows the understanding of the majority of commentators. The difficulty is in the word "zallam" which is a hyperbolic term, literally meaning "unjust to a high degree." Zarkashi (Al Burhan, vol II, p. 511) has given eleven possible explanations of the exaggerated form. One of them is, it is for emphasis, as if to say: "(Allah is not) unjust, not unjust, not unjust."
    Shabbir has an additional remark, also hinted at by Zarkashi. Had Allah possessed the attribute of injustice, surely it would have been of a very high order, to a perfect degree, as all His other attributes are. Therefore the refutation, ‘Allah is not "zallam."

    الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَهِدَ إِلَيْنَا أَلَّا نُؤْمِنَ لِرَسُولٍ حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَنَا بِقُرْبَانٍ تَأْكُلُهُ النَّارُ ۗ قُلْ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رُسُلٌ مِنْ قَبْلِي بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَبِالَّذِي قُلْتُمْ فَلِمَ قَتَلْتُمُوهُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ (183)

    3|183| Those who said, 'Allah has surely made covenant with us that we shall not believe in a Messenger until he brings us a sacrifice burned by the fire,'293 ask, 'Indeed Messengers had come to you before me bearing clear signs and with what you have spoken of; why did you then slay them, if you speak the truth?’294

    293. Ibn `Abbas and Dahhak have said that the allusion is to the sacrifices of the Israelites in the ancient times when they left their sacrificial material in the open and the sign of its approval by God was that a fire descended from the heavens and burnt the offering. The Jews demanded the same of our Prophet and used it as a pretext for denying him (Ibn Jarir).
    Majid says: "Cf. the Bible: 'And the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the alter the burnt offering and the fat.' (Le. 9: 23,24). Also Jn. 13: 20 23; 1 Ki. 18: 38; 1 Ch. 21: 26; 2 Ch. 7: 1. Fire thus came to be regarded by the Jews as one of the agents of Divine will, and Divine fire was expected to consume the acceptable offering."
    Mawdudi writes: "The Bible mentions, for example, the Prophet Elijah who had challenged the worshippers of Ba`l to sacrifice a bull, promising that he too would sacrifice a bull. He stated that the offering of the one who was truthful would be consumed by the miraculous fire. The confrontation took place before a large crowd and it was Elijah's sacrifice which was consumed by the fire. This so antagonized the Ba`l worshipping Queen that ... Elijah was forced to leave his homeland and take refuge in the mountains of Sinai."
    294. That is, their demand for such miracles is out of contention and not out of a true desire for right guidance (Razi).

    فَإِنْ كَذَّبُوكَ فَقَدْ كُذِّبَ رُسُلٌ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ جَاءُوا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالزُّبُرِ وَالْكِتَابِ الْمُنِيرِ (184)

    3|184| Therefore, if they give you the lie, then surely, lies were given to prophets before you who came with all the evidence, with the Scriptures,295 and with the radiant Book.

    295. According to Zajjaj, Zabur (sing. Zubur, translated here as Scriptures) is every book of wisdom; hence Zabur (Psalms) of Da'ud (Razi).

    كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوْنَ أُجُورَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۖ فَمَنْ زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ ۗ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ (185)

    3|185| Every soul shall taste death, and you shall surely be paid your wages in full on the Day of Resurrection. Then whosoever is saved from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, indeed he triumphed.296 As for the life of this world, it is nothing but a brief deceptive enjoyment.297

    296. The Prophet has said in a hadith of Ahmad narrated by `Abdullah ibn `Amr:

    مَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يُزَحْزَحَ عَنْ النَّارِ وَيَدْخُلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَلْتُدْرِكْهُ مَنِيَّتُهُ وَهُوَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَيَأْتِي إِلَى النَّاسِ مَا يُحِبُّ أَنْ يُؤْتَى إِلَيْهِ

    "Whosoever wishes that he be spared the Fire and admitted into Paradise may not die but on faith in Allah and the Hereafter, and give to the people what he would approve of being given to himself" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Shu`ayb Arna’ut remarks that the hadith is trustworthy (Au.).
    Adds Thanwi: This verse which speaks of being saved of the Fire and admitted into Paradise as the triumph of the highest kind, refutes those (ignorant sufis: Shabbir) who declare that to them neither of them matters, (rather, it is Allah Himself Who matters: Au.).
    297. Abu Hurayrah has reported that the Prophet (saws) said:

    مَوْضِعُ سَوْطٍ فِي الْجَنَّةِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ الدُّنْيَا وَمَا فِيهَا

    "The peg by which a whip is hung in Paradise is better than all that is there in this world.” Read if you want, 'And the life of this world is nothing but a (brief and) deceptive enjoyment'" (Ibn Jarir).
    The hadith is in Bukhari, but without the words, "Read if you want..." (Au.).
    He is also reported to have said, in a hadith of Ibn Majah, that what is in this world is no more than what one would get if he were to dip a finger in the sea and withdraw. Let him see how much does the finger come back with (Ibn Kathir).

    لَتُبْلَوُنَّ فِي أَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنْفُسِكُمْ وَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا أَذًى كَثِيرًا ۚ وَإِنْ تَصْبِرُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ (186)

    3|186| You shall surely be tried (O Muslims) with your wealth and your selves and you might hear a lot of painful things from those who were given the Book before you, as well as from the idolaters.298 But if you persevere and are godfearing, then indeed, that is of the matters of great resolution.

    298. Apart from various blasphemous statements that the Muslims had to hear from the Jews at Madinah, they were also the target of satires and lampoons of their poets such as Ka`b al Ashraf who had to be finally done away with because of his erotic poems directed at the kinsfolk of the Prophet (Ibn Jarir: abridged, Qurtubi).
    Bukhari has an additional cause of revelation to relate. Usamah bin Zayd reports that early in Madinah the Prophet passed by on a mule a group of people comprising Jews, pagans and Muslims. As he neared, the dust kicked up by his mule reached the assembly. `Abdullah ibn Ubayy, who had not yet professed Islam, covered his nose with his cloak and said "Do not raise dust upon us." The Prophet stopped, dismounted, greeted them, recited the Qur'an and invited them to Islam. `Abdullah ibn Ubayy said: "Man. What you say would have sounded good if it were true. Therefore, do not bother us in our assemblies. Return to your quarters and preach whosoever comes to you." At this `Abdullah ibn Rawaha interjected saying: "Rather, preach us O Prophet, for we love to hear from you." Upon this the three, Jews, pagans and Muslims exchanged harsh words and would have come to blows were not the Prophet to intervene and cool them down. Then he rode on to the house of Sa`d b. `Ubadah and told him about what had happened. Sa`d said: "Pardon him O Messenger of Allah, for the people of this town were about to crown him king when you appeared and he was brushed aside." And Allah said: 'You might hear a lot of painful things from those who were given the Book before you, and from the idolaters..." Then, when the Muslims returned triumphant from Badr, `Abdullah ibn Ubayy and men of his ilk told themselves that this was getting serious and hence decided to (outwardly) profess Islam (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir Slightly Abridged).

    وَإِذْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ مِيثَاقَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ لَتُبَيِّنُنَّهُ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَكْتُمُونَهُ فَنَبَذُوهُ وَرَاءَ ظُهُورِهِمْ وَاشْتَرَوْا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۖ فَبِئْسَ مَا يَشْتَرُونَ (187)

    3|187| And when Allah took pledge from those who were given the Book to the effect that, 'You shall make it known to the people and not conceal it.’299 But they flung it behind their backs300 and sold it for a small price.301 Evil is that which they purchased.

    299. Connection: Another thing that was painful to the Prophet was the Jewish efforts at concealing the truth about him, hence Allah revealed this verse (Razi).
    Majid quotes the Bible which also forbade hiding of religious knowledge: "'We will not hide them for their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength and his wonderful works that he hath done' (Ps 78: 4). 'What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what we hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetop' (Mt. 10: 27)."
    According to Suddi, by the personal pronoun in the words, "You shall make it known to the people," the allusion is to the Prophet. That is, once having recognized him it was the duty of the Jews to spread the word about him that he was a true Prophet. However, according to Ibn Mas`ud and Ibn `Abbas, by the words, "And when Allah took compact with those who were given the Book", it is the Prophets and Messengers who are meant who had to give an undertaking that whenever they were given a revelation they would make it known to the people and shall not conceal it (Ibn Jarir). Another opinion is that every Prophet gave undertaking to the effect that he would inform his nation about Muhammad so that when he arrived, it shouldn't be hard for them to recognize him (Ibn Kathir).
    Asad writes: "The implication of verse 187 is that the advent of the Prophet Muhammad was predicted in both the Old and New Testaments, and that the followers of the Bible had been called upon to spread this prophecy and not as they actually have done to suppress it."
    Ibn Kathir writes: In this verse there is a warning to the scholars that they ought not conceal religious knowledge from the people. The Prophet has said, in a hadith of Ibn Majah declared Sahih,
    مَنْ سُئِلَ عَنْ عِلْمٍ فَكَتَمَهُ أُلْجِمَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِلِجَامٍ مِنْ نَارٍ
    "Whosoever was asked about a piece of knowledge and he concealed it, shall have a rein of fire in his mouth on the Day of Resurrection."
    It is said that when Zuhri had given up narrating hadith, Hasan b. `Ammara went up to him and asked him to relate some ahadith. Zuhri told him of his resolve. Hasan told him: "Either you narrate or I will." Zuhri said: "Alright. You do." Hasan narrated `Ali's words: "Allah did not make it obligatory upon the ignorant to ask before He had made it obligatory upon the scholars to teach." Hearing this Zuhri narrated forty ahadith to Hasan (Qurtubi).
    Yusuf Ali adds: "Truth Allah's Message comes to any man or nation as a matter of sacred trust. It should be broadcast and published and taught and made clear to all within reach. Privileged priesthood at once erects a barrier. But worse, when such priesthood tampers with the truth, taking what suits it and ignoring the rest, it has sold Allah's gift for a miserable ephemeral profit..."
    300. Sha`bi's opinion is: those who were given the Book earlier refused to put its teachings to practice and meet its demands, although they did not fail to recite it (Ibn Jarir).
    301. Hence it is strongly desirable that the scholars stay away from the rich and the influential, because their company corrupts. Scholars of past generations used to run away from the rich as they would run away from snakes and scorpions. Hence the hadith of Anas:
    العلماء أمناء الرسل على عباد الله ما لم يخالطوا السلطان ويداخلوا الدنيا فإن خالطوا السلطان وداخلوا الدنيا فقد خانوا الرسل فاحذروهم واعتزلوهم
    "Scholars are the trustees of Messengers over the people so long as they do not intermingle with the rulers and indulge in worldly affairs. If they intermingle with the rulers and indulge in the world, they would have dishonored their trust with the Messengers. Forsake them and abandon them." Ibn Jawzi has declared this hadith a fabrication. But Suyuti has disagreed with him and said that there are at least forty ahadith that support this meaning, and so the hadith acquires at least a hasan status. Tirmidhi has another hadith, which he declares hasan, which says:
    مَنْ سَكَنَ الْبَادِيَةَ جَفَا، وَمَنْ اتّبَعَ الصّيْدَ غَفَلَ، وَمَنْ أَتَى أَبْوابَ السّلْطَانِ افتَتَنَ
    "Whoever lived in the countryside will acquire a harsh nature, he who followed a game (during hunting) will be heedless, and whoever visited the rulers will face trials" (Manar).

    لَا تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ يَفْرَحُونَ بِمَا أَتَوْا وَيُحِبُّونَ أَنْ يُحْمَدُوا بِمَا لَمْ يَفْعَلُوا فَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّهُمْ بِمَفَازَةٍ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ (188)

    3|188| Think not that those who exult in what they have brought and love to be praised for what they have not done302 - think not that they will escape the punishment.303 For them awaits a painful chastisement.

    302. Abu Sa`id al Khudri and Ibn Zayd have said that the hypocrites used to stay back from campaigns and then come up with excuses when the Prophet returned. They were pleased to be praised for what they hadn't done. So Allah revealed this verse (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Abu Sa`id's statement is in Muslim (Ibn Kathir).
    However, according to Ibn `Abbas the allusion is to the Jewish rabbis who used to misguide their people concerning the Prophet, make pretensions of piety, and loved to be praised as men of knowledge and wisdom. There have been other explanations also. It is said that Marwan sent someone to Ibn `Abbas to ask him, "Which of us does not wish to be praised for what he has not done?" Ibn `Abbas replied that the verse was revealed concerning those who were given the Book earlier, whom our Prophet enquired about something but they concealed it from him, and were pleased with themselves for doing that (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi). Ibn `Abbas's statement is in Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and Nasa'i (Ibn Kathir).
    303. It is reported that Thabit b. Qays said to the Prophet:

    يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ، وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ خَشِيتُ أَنْ أَكُونَ قَدْ هَلَكْتُ ، قَالَ : بِمَ ؟ ، قُلْتُ : نَهَى اللَّهُ الْمَرْءَ أَنْ يُحْمَدَ بِمَا لَمْ يَفْعَلْ ، وَأَجِدُنِي أُحِبُّ الْحَمْدَ ، وَنَهَى اللَّهُ عَنِ الْخُيَلاءِ ، وَأَجِدُنِي أُحِبُّ الْخُيَلاءَ ، وَنَهَى اللَّهُ أَنْ نَرْفَعَ أَصْوَاتَنَا فَوْقَ صَوْتِكَ ، وَأَنَا امْرُؤٌ جَهِيرُ الصَّوْتِ ، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : أَلا تَرْضَى أَنْ تَعِيشَ حَمِيدًا ، وتُقْتَلَ شَهِيدًا ، وَتَدْخُلَ الْجَنَّةَ ؟ قَالَ : بَلَى يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ، فَعَاشَ حَمِيدًا ، وَقُتِلَ شَهِيدًا يَوْمَ مُسَيْلِمَةَ

    "I am destroyed O Messenger of Allah." The Prophet asked him: "What makes you say that?" He said, "Allah has forbidden that we be praised for what we have not done, and I love to be praised. He has forbidden pride and I love to appear beautiful. He has forbidden that we raise our voices over yours and I am a noisy man." The Prophet told him: "Thabit, aren't you satisfied that you live as a praised one, die a martyr, and enter Paradise?" Accordingly, Thabit lived as a praised person and died a martyr fighting against Musaylimah the Liar (Ibn Kathir). The report is reliable (Sayyid Ibrahim).

    وَلِلَّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ (189)

    3|189| To Allah belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth. Allah has power over all things.

    إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآيَاتٍ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ (190)

    3|190| Surely, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and the day are signs for men of understanding.304

    304. Those are meant who use their minds and reach out the realities behind what is apparent, unlike those who are deaf and dumb and who do not use their heads, such as those about whom Allah said (12: 105):

    وَكَأَيِّنْ مِنْ آيَةٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ يَمُرُّونَ عَلَيْهَا وَهُمْ عَنْهَا مُعْرِضُونَ (105) وَمَا يُؤْمِنُ أَكْثَرُهُمْ بِاللَّهِ إِلَّا وَهُمْ مُشْرِكُونَ [يوسف : 105 ، 106]
    "And how many signs are there not in the heavens and in the earth that they pass by but they ignore them. And (even if they ponder) they believe not in Allah (the sole Creator) without ascribing partners to Him" (Ibn Kathir).
    Shabbir comments: Surely, not everyone who stares at the stars finds signs. It is those who acknowledge a role for their Creator that profit from such reflections. Others however great scientists they might be considered by the people of the world are not men of understanding.

    الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَٰذَا بَاطِلًا سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ (191)

    3|191| Such as those who remember Allah standing, sitting, on their sides305 and ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth306 (concluding): 'Our Lord! You have not created this without reason. Glory to You. Save us therefore, from the punishment of the Fire.307

    305. The Prophet told `Imran b. Husayn (in a hadith of Bukhari: Ibn Kathir),
    صلّ قائماً فإنْ لَم تستطعْ فقاعِداً، فإنْ لم تستطعْ فعلى جَنْبٍ
    "Offer your Prayers standing; but if you cannot, then sitting; and if you cannot, then (reclining) on your sides" (Zamakhshari). Qurtubi adds: `Imran b. Husayn had enquired how he should pray, because he suffered from piles.
    306. A hadith says,
    مر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم على قوم يتفكرون في الله فقال: تَفَكَّرُوا في الخَلْقِ ولا تَفَكَّرُوا في الخَالِقِ فإنَّكُمْ لا تَقْدِرُونَ قَدْرَهُ
    The Prophet passed by a people who were meditating. He told them: "Ponder the creations of the Creator but not the Creator Himself, for you will never encompass Him" (Qurtubi).
    Although reported as a weak hadith, some scholars believe it is a statement of Ibn `Abbas.
    Abu Sulayman al Darani has said, 'When I come out of my house my eyes fall on nothing but either there is a blessing for me in it, or a lesson."
    Hasan al Basri has said: "An hour of reflection is better than prayers of a whole night."
    And `Abd b. Qays has said that he heard from several Companions that reflection brightens faith (Ibn Kathir).
    307. Surely, the nature of things demand that we, the rational beings, be called to account, punished or rewarded. Hence the prayer: "Save us from the punishment of the Fire" (Au.).

    رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ مَنْ تُدْخِلِ النَّارَ فَقَدْ أَخْزَيْتَهُ ۖ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ أَنْصَارٍ (192)

    3|192| Our Lord! Surely whomsoever You sent into the Fire, You have indeed disgraced him; and the transgressors shall have no helpers.

    رَبَّنَا إِنَّنَا سَمِعْنَا مُنَادِيًا يُنَادِي لِلْإِيمَانِ أَنْ آمِنُوا بِرَبِّكُمْ فَآمَنَّا ۚ رَبَّنَا فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَكَفِّرْ عَنَّا سَيِّئَاتِنَا وَتَوَفَّنَا مَعَ الْأَبْرَارِ (193)

    3|193| Our Lord! We heard a caller308 calling to faith saying, “Believe in your Lord.” So, we believed. Our Lord! Forgive us our sins, acquit us of our evil deeds, and take us (to You) accompanied by the pious.

    308. The Prophet was the caller when alive, after him the Qur'an takes his place as the caller (Ibn Jarir).

    رَبَّنَا وَآتِنَا مَا وَعَدْتَنَا عَلَىٰ رُسُلِكَ وَلَا تُخْزِنَا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۗ إِنَّكَ لَا تُخْلِفُ الْمِيعَادَ (194)

    3|194| And, our Lord, grant us what You promised us through Your Messengers and abase us not on the Day of Standing.309 Indeed You do not break the promise.'310

    309. That is, O Allah, admit us into Paradise straightaway, from the start, and not after You have punished us in Hell fire for our sins, for even a short entry into Hell along with the unbelievers who will abide therein forever, will be a humiliation to us (Thanwi).
    310. Reports in Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud and others say that the Prophet used to recite the last ten verses of this surah when he got up for taHajjud. Muslim's report goes like this. Ibn `Abbas said, "My father told me to spend a night with the Prophet and observe how he spent it. So after the night prayers I stayed back in the mosque after everyone had left. When the Prophet rose up he spotted me and asked, 'Who is it? Is it `Abdullah?' I said yes and told him about my mission. He told me to accompany him. When we reached home they gave him an oily pillow. He slept on it until we heard a light snore. Then (when a third of the night was left) he got up, raised his head towards the heaven, and said three times:
    سبحان الملك القدوس
    Then he recited the last ten verses of this surah" (Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Marduwayh has recorded `Ata' as having narrated:

    انطلقت أنا وابن عمر وعبيد بن عمير إلى عائشة رضي اللّه عنها، فدخلنا عليها وبيننا وبينها حجاب، فقالت: يا عبيد ما يمنعك من زيارتنا، قال: قول الشاعر (زر غباً تزدد حباً)، فقال ابن عمر: ذرينا أخبرينا بأعجب ما رأيتيه من رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم !؟ فبكت وقالت: كل أمره كان عجباً، أتاني في ليلتي حتى مس جلده جلدي ثم قال "ذريني أتعبد لربي عزّ وجلّ"، قالت، فقلت: واللّه إني لأحب قربك، وإني أحب أن تعبد ربك، فقام إلى القربة فتوضأ ولم يكثر صب الماء، ثم قام يصلي فبكى حتى بلّ لحيته، ثم سجد فبكى حتى بلّ الأرض، ثم اضطجع على جنبه فبكى حتى إذا أتى بلال يؤذنه بصلاة الصبح، قالت، فقال: يارسول اللّه ما يبكيك وقد غفر اللّه لك ما تقدم من ذنبك وما تأخر؟ فقال: "ويحك يا بلال وما يمنعني أن أبكي وقد أنزل اللّه عليّ في هذه الليلة: {إن في خلق السموات والأرض واختلاف اليل والنهار لآيات لأولي الألباب}"، ثم قال: "ويل لمن قرأها ولم يتفكر فيها"
    "Myself, Ibn `Umar and `Abid b. `Umayr went to see `A'isha. She spoke to us from behind a curtain. She said: 'What prevents you from visiting us oftener O `Abid?' He replied: 'The poet's words, 'Visit less often to increase love.' Ibn `Umar interjected saying: 'Leave this and tell us the strangest thing that you noticed of the Prophet.' She wept and said, 'Everything he did was so strange. One night he came in and entered the bed until my body was in contact with his. Then he said, 'Let me Pray to my Lord.' I said, 'I love to be near you, but I also love that you Pray to your Lord.' He got up, made ablution using water economically, and, starting his Prayer he began to cry until his beard was wet. Then he prostrated himself and wept until the ground was wet. Then he lied down on his side and wept until Bilal reported for the fajr Call. He enquired: 'What makes you weep, O Messenger, when Allah has forgiven your sins the past as well as the future ones?' He said, 'Woe unto you Bilal. Why should I not cry when Allah has revealed these verses to me: 'Surely, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and the day are signs for the men of understanding.' Then he added: 'Woe unto him who recited it but did not ponder.'"
    Ibn Abi Hatim and Hakim have also reported similar traditions, with the latter declaring it trustworthy (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir). The same report has come through Ibn `Umar also (Zamakhshari, Razi).

    فَاسْتَجَابَ لَهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ أَنِّي لَا أُضِيعُ عَمَلَ عَامِلٍ مِنْكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنْثَىٰ ۖ بَعْضُكُمْ مِنْ بَعْضٍ ۖ فَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُوا وَأُخْرِجُوا مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ وَأُوذُوا فِي سَبِيلِي وَقَاتَلُوا وَقُتِلُوا لَأُكَفِّرَنَّ عَنْهُمْ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ وَلَأُدْخِلَنَّهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ثَوَابًا مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عِنْدَهُ حُسْنُ الثَّوَابِ (195)

    3|195| Therefore, their Lord answered them that, 'I do not waste the labors of any laborer from amongst you, male or female311 - some of you are from others.312 Therefore, those who emigrated, were expelled from their lands, were made to suffer in My way, and fought and were slain,313 I shall surely acquit them of their evil deeds314 and admit them into gardens underneath which rivers flow: a reward from Allah; and with Allah is the fairest of rewards.’

    311. Umm Salamah is reported to have once remarked to the Prophet: "How come Allah does not mention us women when speaking of hijrah?!" Accordingly, when Allah revealed this verse He named them (Ibn Jarir). Hakim has also recorded this hadith in his "Mustadrak" giving it the status of sahih which meets the same conditions as those set by Bukhari and Muslim (Ibn Kathir). It is also in Tirmidhi and Albani has treated it sahih (Sayyid Ibrahim).
    Adds Majid: "(The interjection was) necessary in view of the sub human status allotted to women in almost all ancient philosophies and religions."
    312. What Allah means by this is that some of you, O believers, men and women, help and support (and are a means of strength to) others (Ibn Jarir). Ibn Kathir, however, says it means some of you are like others in the sight of Allah, (i.e. equals), so far as rewards and punishments are concerned.
    313. Accordingly, when a person asked the Prophet in a report in the Sahihayn:

    يَا رَسُولَ اللّهِ أَرَأَيْتَ إنْ قُتِلْتُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ تُكَفّرُ عَنّي خَطَايَايَ؟ فَقَالَ لَهُ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "نَعَمْ. إنْ قُتِلْتَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ. وَأَنْتَ صَابِرٌ مُحْتَسِبٌ، مُقْبِلٌ غَيْرُ مُدْبِرٍ" ثُمّ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "كَيْفَ قُلْتَ؟" قَالَ: أَرَأَيْتَ إنْ قُتِلْتُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ أَتُكَفّرُ عَنّي خَطَايَايَ؟ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "نَعَمْ. وَأَنْتَ صَابِرٌ مُحْتَسِبٌ، مُقْبِلٌ غَيْرُ مُدْبِرٍ. إلاّ الدّيْنَ. فَإنّ جِبْرِيلَ، عَلَيْهِ السّلاَمُ، قَالَ لِي ذَلِكَ

    "Messenger of Allah. What do you have to say about me if I were to fight in the way of Allah, persevering, in the hope of rewards, advancing upon the enemy and not turning my back, will Allah forgive me my sins?" The Prophet replied: "Yes." Then, after a while he turned to him and asked: "What was that you said?" The man repeated his question. The Prophet told him: "Yes, when you hold on in patience, hoping to be rewarded, charging forward and not showing your back; except for debts. Jibril just added this to me" (Ibn Kathir).
    314. According to the majority opinion, if the verse is applied to Muslims, then major sins are not included since one has to follow the proper process of repentance to be acquitted of them, although Ibn Salah's opinion is that "qurubat" could be forgiven (since they do not involve rights of the people: Au.). But Nawawi's opinion is that good deeds do not acquit one of the evil deeds, although they do blunt the effects. Some others have opined that good deeds might acquit one of both major as well as minor sins in view of the verse (11: 114):

    إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ

    "Verily. Good deeds obliterate evil deeds," and in view of the Prophet's words:
    وأتْبِع السَّيِّئة الحَسنَة تَمحُها
    "Follow up evil deeds with good ones, they will obliterate them." But the argument does not seem to be too strong in view of the general sense of the terms used in the Qur'an and hadith quotations, and in view of the fact that there is no disagreement among the scholars that acquittal of sins essentially requires a return or compensation of people's rights if they have been usurped by the sinner.
    As for the application of the verse to new Muslims, here too there are two opinions. (The first is that all their previous sins are forgiven). The second is that, (in the words of Zarkashi as reported by Bayhaqi) embracing Islam assures only the forgiveness of sin of association (shirk). Others require separate repentance. His argument is based on the hadith (of Muslim, Kitab al Iman: Au.) which says:
    مَنْ أَحْسَنَ فِي الإِسْلاَمِ لَمْ يُؤَاخَذْ بِمَا عَمِلَ فِي الْجَاهِلِيّةِ. وَمَنْ أَسَاءَ فِي الإِسْلاَمِ أُخِذَ بِالأَوّلِ وَالاَخِرِ
    "He who did well after embracing Islam, will not be questioned for sins committed before Islam. But if he did badlym he will be questioned both for sins committed after Islam as well as those committed before Islam" (Alusi).

    لَا يَغُرَّنَّكَ تَقَلُّبُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فِي الْبِلَادِ (196)

    3|196| Let not the movement of the unbelievers in the lands deceive you.

    مَتَاعٌ قَلِيلٌ ثُمَّ مَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ ۚ وَبِئْسَ الْمِهَادُ (197)

    3|197| A little enjoyment, then their refuge is Jahannum: an evil refuge.315

    315. As Allah (swt) said elsewhere (10: 69):

    قُلْ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ لَا يُفْلِحُونَ (69) مَتَاعٌ فِي الدُّنْيَا ثُمَّ إِلَيْنَا مَرْجِعُهُمْ ثُمَّ نُذِيقُهُمُ الْعَذَابَ الشَّدِيدَ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْفُرُونَ [يونس : 69 ، 70]

    "Tell them: 'Surely those who fasten lies upon Allah will not succeed. (Theirs) is a short enjoyment in this world, their return is to Us, then We shall make them taste a painful chastisement because of what they used to do.'"
    And, (28: 61):
    أَفَمَنْ وَعَدْنَاهُ وَعْدًا حَسَنًا فَهُوَ لَاقِيهِ كَمَنْ مَتَّعْنَاهُ مَتَاعَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ثُمَّ هُوَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مِنَ الْمُحْضَرِينَ [القصص : 61]
    "He then, to whom We have made a good promise, that he is going to meet with ... can he be like him whom We gave a short enjoyment of this world for a brief while, and then he shall be on the Day of Judgment of those who will be presented (like prisoners, for the account of their deeds)" Ibn Kathir.

    لَٰكِنِ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا رَبَّهُمْ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا نُزُلًا مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَمَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ لِلْأَبْرَارِ (198)

    3|198| As for those who feared their Lord, for them are gardens underneath which rivers flow, abiding therein forever, a hospitality from Allah. And what is with Allah is better for the virtuous.316

    316. The allusion could be to the sighting of our Lord in Paradise (Shabbir).

    وَإِنَّ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ لَمَنْ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْهِمْ خَاشِعِينَ لِلَّهِ لَا يَشْتَرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۗ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ (199)

    3|199| Indeed,317 of the people of the Book is one who believes in Allah, in what has been sent down unto you, and in what was sent down to them, fearing Allah in all humility. They do not barter Allah’s signs for a small price. Such, for them is their wage with their Lord. Surely, Allah is swift in reckoning.318

    317. People of the Book, and among them specifically the Christians, were addressed at the beginning of the surah. Their errors were portrayed in detail, their desire to pervert the Muslims was condemned, and their corruption of the revelations exposed. Now, at the end, it is being acknowledged that all are not the same. Among them are some who uphold the truth, follow the revelations, and believe in the Prophets in the true spirit (Au.).
    318. Jabir b.`Abdullah, Qatadah and Ibn Jurayj have said that when Najashi (the king of Abyssinia) died, the Prophet Prayed for him as one would for the dead. The unbelievers objected saying, 'Look at him. He prays for a Christian whom he did not even see.'" (The report about the Prayers itself is in the Sahihayn: Ibn Kathir). At this Allah revealed this verse. However, Mujahid seems to be nearer the truth when he says that the verse was revealed in praise of all those of the people of the Book who believed. This is also because the report of Jabir and others have some isnad weaknesses (Ibn Jarir). The Sahihayn have reported that the Prophet mentioned three people whose rewards will be two fold. One of them a man of the people of the Book who believed in his Prophet as well as in our Prophet (Ibn Kathir).
    319. Of sabr of the original (translated as patience here), there are three kinds: sabr against sins, sabr in the observation of the Shari`ah, and sabr in times of distress (Alusi).

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اصْبِرُوا وَصَابِرُوا وَرَابِطُوا وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ (200)

    3|200| Believers! Be patient (and persevering),319 vie with each other in patience, be on the watch (in Allah's path),320 and fear Allah,321 haply you will prosper.

    320. This is how Qatadah, Ibn Jurayj and Dahhak have understood the verse. That is, what is meant by rabitu is, (guard your borders) and be watchful of the enemies of Allah. Nonetheless, Jabir b. `Abdullah, Abu Hurayrah and others have reported that the Prophet said:

    أَلاَ أَدُلّكُمْ عَلَى مَا يَمْحُو الله بِهِ الْخَطَايَا وَيَرْفَعُ بِهِ الدّرَجَاتِ؟" قَالُوا: بَلَىَ. يَا رَسُولَ اللّهِ! قَالَ: "إِسْبَاغُ الْوُضُوءِ علَى الْمَكَارِهِ. وَكَثْرَةُ الْخُطَا إِلَى الْمَسْاجِدِ. وَانْتِظَارُ الصّلاَةِ بَعْدَ الصّلاَةِ. فَذَلِكُمُ الرّبَاطُ

    "Should I not tell you about what will wipe out your sins, and acquit you of them?" We said, "Sure do, O Messenger of Allah." He said, "It is to do ablution well even when painful (as when the weather is cold: Au.), plenty of steps to the mosque, and to wait for a Prayer after the last one. That is ribat."
    (This hadith is in Muslim and Nasa'i: Ibn Kathir).
    Notwithstanding the hadith, the meaning offered by Qatadah and others seems to be correct (Ibn Jarir). Nevertheless, there is no contradiction between the two (Shawkani).
    Ibn Kathir expounds: Several ahadith are reported in favor of ribat in the way of Allah. One in Muslim says:
    رِبَاطُ يَوْمٍ وَلَيْلَةٍ خَيْرٌ مِنْ صِيَامِ شَهْرٍ وَقِيَامِهِ. وَإِنْ مَاتَ، جَرَىَ عَلَيْهِ عَمَلُهُ الّذِي كَانَ يَعْمَلُهُ، وَأُجْرِيَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقُهُ، وَأَمِنَ الْفَتّانَ
    "To stand guard (on the borders) is better than fasts for a month and its night vigils (taHajjud). If he dies in that state, the deeds he used to commit would be continued to be considered as performed by him. His provision will be brought to him and he will be in peace in the grave."
    Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah have similar reports. Ahmad and Ibn Majah have also reported `Uthman (ibn `Affan) as saying that he heard the Prophet say:
    حَرَسُ لَيْلَةٍ في سَبيلِ اللهِ، أَفْضَلُ مِنْ صِيَامِ رجُلٍ وَقِيَامِهِ، في أَهْلِهِ، أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ
    "To stand guard in the way of Allah for a day or night is better for a man than a thousand nights praying, and fasting among his homefolk."
    Abu Da'ud has reported Ibn Hanzalah as saying that once when they went out with the Prophet, he camped at a place and offered Prayers. After the Prayers a man came to the Prophet and told him:
    يارَسُولَ الله إنّي انْطَلَقْتُ بَيْنَ أيْدِيكُم حَتّى طَلَعْتُ جَبَلَ كَذَا وَكَذَا فإذَا أنا بِهَوَازِنَ عَلَى بَكْرَةِ آبَائِهِمْ بِظُعُنِهِمْ وَنَعَمِهِمْ وَشَائِهِمْ، اجْتَمَعُوا إلَى حُنَيْنٍ، فَتَبَسّمَ رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وَقال: تِلْكَ غَنِيمَةُ المُسْلِمِينَ غَداً إنْ شَاءَ الله، ثُمّ قال: مَنْ يَحْرُسُنَا اللّيْلَةَ؟ قال أنَسُ بنُ أبي مَرْثَدٍ الْغَنَوِيّ: أنَا يَارَسُولَ الله، قال: فارْكَبْ، فَرَكِبَ فَرَساً لَهُ وَجَاءَ إلى رَسُولِ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقالَ لَهُ رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: اسْتَقْبِلْ هَذَا الشّعْبَ حَتّى تَكُونَ في أعْلاَهُ، وَلاَ نُغَرّنّ مِنْ قِبَلِكَ اللّيْلَةَ، فَلَمّا أصْبَحْنَا خَرَجَ رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى مُصَلاّهُ فَرَكَعَ رَكْعَتَيْنِ، ثُمّ قال: هَلْ أحْسَسْتُمْ فَارِسَكُم؟ قالُوا: يارَسُولَ الله ما أحْسَسْنَاهُ، فَثُوّبَ بالصّلاَةِ، فَجَعَلَ رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يُصَلّي وَهُوَ يَتَلَفّتُ إلى الشّعْبِ حتّى إذَا قَضَى صَلاَتَهُ وَسَلّمَ فقالَ: أَبْشِرُوا فَقَدْ جَاءَكُم فَارِسُكُم، فَجَعَلْنَا نَنْظُرُ إلى خِلاَلِ الشّجَرِ في الشّعْبِ فإذَا هُوَ قَدْ جَاءَ حَتّى وَقَفَ عَلَى رَسُولِ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فَسَلّمَ وقَالَ: إنّي انْطَلَقْتُ حتّى كُنْتُ في أعْلَى هَذَا الشّعْبِ حَيْثُ أمَرَنِي رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، فَلَمّا أصْبَحْتُ اطّلَعْتُ الشّعْبَيْنِ كِلَيْهِمَا، فَنَظَرْتُ فَلَمْ أرَ أحَداً، فقالَ لَهُ رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: هَلْ نَزَلْتَ اللّيْلَةَ؟ قال: لاَ، إلاّ مُصَلّياً أوْ قَاضياً حَاجَةً، فقالَ لَهُ رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: قَدْ أوْجَبْتَ فَلاَ عَلَيْكَ أنْ لا تَعْمَلَ بَعْدَهَا
    "I have been to such and such (distant) hills from where I spotted the well armed Banu Hawazin with their cattle." The Prophet smiled and said: "By Allah's will, they will be your booty tomorrow." Then he asked: "Who will guard us tonight?" Anas b. Abi Marthad said: "I, O Messenger of Allah." He told him to get his horse ready. He got it ready and came up to the Prophet. He told him: "Go to the end of this valley and be on the watch. Let not an attack take place from that side this night." When it was morning the Prophet came out, went to the Prayer spot, offered two rak`ah, and enquired: "What's the news of your rider?" They said, "We have no news of him yet." The Prophet then offered the congregational Prayers during which he turned towards the hill several times. After the Prayers he said: "Good news. The rider is coming." We peered in the direction of the trees shielding the valley. The man shortly came out of them and stood before the Prophet. He said: "I went to the end of the valley you had directed me to, launching myself to the highest spot. Then, by morning I also went to the peaks of the two valleys but did not sight anyone." The Prophet asked him: "Did you come down of your horse last night?" The man said: "No. Except to Pray or to attend to a call of nature." The Prophet told him: "(Paradise) is written for you, even if you do not do anything good after this."
    Bukhari has related through Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said:
    تَعِسَ عَبْدُ الدِّينَارِ وَعَبْدُ الدِّرْهَمِ وَعَبْدُ الْخَمِيصَةِ إِنْ أُعْطِيَ رَضِيَ وَإِنْ لَمْ يُعْطَ سَخِطَ تَعِسَ وَانْتَكَسَ وَإِذَا شِيكَ فَلَا انْتَقَشَ طُوبَى لِعَبْدٍ آخِذٍ بِعِنَانِ فَرَسِهِ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَشْعَثَ رَأْسُهُ مُغْبَرَّةٍ قَدَمَاهُ إِنْ كَانَ فِي الْحِرَاسَةِ كَانَ فِي الْحِرَاسَةِ وَإِنْ كَانَ فِي السَّاقَةِ كَانَ فِي السَّاقَةِ إِنْ اسْتَأْذَنَ لَمْ يُؤْذَنْ لَهُ وَإِنْ شَفَعَ لَمْ يُشَفَّعْ
    "Destroyed is the worshipper of Dinar. Destroyed is the worshipper of Dirham. Destroyed is the worshipper of silk. If he is given he is satisfied and if he is not given he is angry. He is destroyed and is perished. If he has a thorn (in the leg), he shall find no one to remove it. (In contrast), glad tidings to the man who started out in the way of Allah on his horse. His hair is disheveled, his feet are dusty. If he is asked to stand guard, he stands guard. If he is asked to follow the army at the rear, he does it. If he seeks to be let in, he is not let in. If he recommends (someone) his recommendation is not accepted. (That is, he is insignificant in the eyes of the people because of his appearance: Au.)."
    Finally, we reproduce here, in full, the following story from Ibn `Asakir who has noted in the biography of `Abdullah ibn Mubarak that he dictated a piece of poetry to Ibn Abi Sakinah in Tarsus and told him to take them to Fudayl b. `Ayad (the ascetic). They said:


    يا عابدَ الحرمين لَوْ أبْصَرْتَنا ... لَعَلِمْتَ أنكَ في العبادِة تلعبُ
    من كان يخضب خدَّه بدموعِه ... فَنُحورنا بدمائنا تَتَخضَّب
    أو كان يُتْعِبُ خَيْلَه في باطلٍ ... فخُيولنا يومَ الصبِيحة تَتْعبُ
    ريحُ العبيرِ لكم ونحنُ عبيرُنا ... وَهجُ السنابِك والغبارُ الأطيبُ
    ولَقَد أتانا من مَقَالِ نبينا ... قولٌ صَحيحٌ صادق لا يُكْذبُ
    لا يستوي وَغُبَارَ خيلِ الله في ... أنف امرئ ودخانَ نارٍ تَلْهَبُ
    هذا كتاب الله يَنْطق بيننا ... ليس الشهيدُ بمَيِّت لا يُكْذبُ

    O thou given to devotions in the Holy Harams, had you seen us,
    You'd have considered your devotions mere amusement.
    He who dyes his cheeks with tears that roll down,
    (May know that) with blood we dye our necks.
    He who exhausts his horse in playful repast,
    (May know that) our horses exhaust themselves on the day of spoils.
    For you be the best of perfumes, but for us,
    Sweeter the (aroma of the) dust rising from the earth.
    To us have come the words of our Prophet,
    (Sayings true, irrefutable and undeniable):
    'Shall not come together the dust in the way of Allah, in
    The nostrils of a man and the leaping flares of Fire.'
    Here, this is the Book of Allah that speaks between us,
    A word that cannot be denied (saying): The martyr is not dead.

    Ibn Sakinah says he found Fudayl in the Haram and handed over the lines to him. When Fudayl read them, he wept. Then he asked him if he knew how to write. When he said yes, he dictated the following hadith of Abu Hurayrah as found in Bukhari:

    جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ دُلَّنِي عَلَى عَمَلٍ يَعْدِلُ الْجِهَادَ قَالَ لَا أَجِدُهُ قَالَ هَلْ تَسْتَطِيعُ إِذَا خَرَجَ الْمُجَاهِدُ أَنْ تَدْخُلَ مَسْجِدَكَ فَتَقُومَ وَلَا تَفْتُرَ وَتَصُومَ وَلَا تُفْطِرَ قَالَ وَمَنْ يَسْتَطِيعُ ذَلِكَ قَالَ أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ إِنَّ فَرَسَ الْمُجَاهِدِ لَيَسْتَنُّ فِي طِوَلِهِ فَيُكْتَبُ لَهُ حَسَنَاتٍ

    "A man came to the Prophet and said, 'Messenger of Allah. Teach me something that can bring me the rewards of the fighters in the way of Allah.' The Prophet asked him, 'Do you have the strength to Pray continuously and fast unbrokenly?' The man said, 'Messenger of Allah. I'm weaker than that.' He told him, 'By Him in whose hands is my life, had you the strength to do that, you would not have attained the position of those who fight in the way of Allah. Have you not known that a mujahid in the way of Allah is rewarded for the movements of the horse that has been tied up?"
    The above reply demonstrates the sincerity of Fudayl. He did not offer an excuse, but rather sent glad tidings to Ibn Mubarak for participating in Jihad (Au.).
    A third possible meaning of rabitu expressed by Baydawi is: Let there be no let up in your acts of obedience (Thanwi).
    321. That is, fear Him at all times, in all circumstances. As said the Prophet in a tradition recorded by Ahmad and Tirmidhi, to Mu`adh ibn Jabal when he sent him to Yemen:

    "اتّقِ الله حَيْثُ مَا كُنْتَ، وَأَتْبِعِ السّيّئَةَ الْحَسَنَةَ تَمْحُهَا، وَخَالِقِ النّاسَ بِخُلُقٍ حَسَنٍ"

    "Fear Allah wherever you might be and follow up a bad deed with a good one, it will obliterate the evil one. And conduct yourself with the people gracefully" (Ibn Kathir).