Surat Al-'Aĥzāb

What is the Qur'an About?

Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma`ani
by
Syed Iqbal Zaheer

تفسير إِشراقُ المَعَاني
سيد إقبال ظهير

PREPARATORY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the words of Arberry:

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

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

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

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

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

و ف إنَّ

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

وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً [النساء : 4]

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

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

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

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

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

Further down he writes:

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

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

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

He adds a little further,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْهَا رِيَاحًا وَلا تَجْعَلْهَا رِيحًا

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

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

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

اللَّهُمَّ فَقِّهْهُ فِي الدِّينِ وَعَلِّمْهُ التَّأْوِيلَ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syed Iqbal Zaheer
March 2015

_________________________

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
Fath-h/Fath/Ibn Hajr: Fut-h al-Bari bi Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, by Hafiz Ahmed b. Ali ibn Hajr al-`Asqalani (d.852 A.H.)
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

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

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

_______________________

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

_______________________

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

________________________

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

______________________

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

______________________

  • Surah No. 33

    Merits of the Surah

    1. According to a report in Ahmad, as also in Nasa’i through another but weak chain, Ubayy b. Ka`b asked Zirr: How long is Surah al-Ahzab? He answered, “Seventy-three verses.” Ubayy said, “I have seen it of length equal to Surah Al-Baqarah, which included a verse saying,

    الشيخ والشيخة إذا زنيا فارجموهما البتة، والله عزيز حكيم

    ‘As for the married man and married woman, if they commit adultery, stone them (to death), and Allah is All-mighty, All-wise.’”
    In other words, parts of this chapter have been abrogated (and removed from memory) – Qurtubi. The report is in Ahmad (Ibn Kathir).
    The report concerning “As for the married man ..” is in the Sahihayn (Shawkani).
    As for the report, adds Zamakhshari, to the effect that the excluded portions of this Surah were with `A’isha, until chicken ate it off, is a Shi`ah concoction.
    2. Asad writes: “The designation of this surah is derived from the references in verses 9-27 to the War of the Confederates, which took place in the year 5 H. ... The tone of these references, and especially of verse 20, shows that this part of the surah was revealed immediately after that war, i.e., towards the end of 5 H. Verses 37-40, which deal with the Prophet’s marriage to Zaynab bint Jahsh, were revealed in the same year, probably a few months earlier; the same can be said of verse 4-5, which apparently contain an indirect allusion to the Prophet’s adoptive relationship with Zaynab’s first husband, Zayd b. Haritha ... On the other hand, verse 28-29 and 52 cannot have been revealed earlier than the year 7 H., and may even belong to a later period ... There is no clear evidence as to the date of the rest of this surah, although some authorities (e.g., Suyuti) maintain that much – if not most – of it was revealed after surah 3 (‘The House of `Imran’) and before surah 4 (‘The Women’), which would place it toward the end of 3 H., or in the early part of 4 H. In brief, it can be stated with certainty that the surah was revealed in small segments at various times between the end of the first and the middle of the last third of the Medina period. This, together with the fact that a considerable portion of it deals with the personal history of the Prophet, the relationship between him and his contemporaries – in particular, his family – and certain rules of behaviour explains why this surah is so complex in its structure and so diversified in its mode of expression.”

    بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ اتَّقِ اللَّهَ وَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقِينَ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا (1)

    33|1| Therefore, turn away from them3 and wait; they are (also) waiting.4

    3. “In the most adverse circumstances, in the midst of the assaults of Evil, the plots of treason and hypocrisy, the darts of slanders and false charges, and stupid superstitions and taboos, the Prophet of Allah should steer his course steadily according to Allah’s Law and not fear human evil, in whatever form it appears. Men may misjudge, but Allah knows all. Men may try to overthrow Good, but Wisdom is with Allah” (Yusuf Ali).
    Why did Allah (swt) have to exhort the Prophet to taqwa when he was already at its highest level? Imam Razi answers that Allah is obeyed for several reasons: for fear of punishment, for fear of the severance of rewards, and for fear of being veiled from Allah and His special blessings. It is in this last sense that he is being told to observe taqwa, for, worldly affairs cast a veil between a man and his Lord. He was told to beware of this, and renew his contact with Allah every hour and every moment, for, whoever remained at the same level any two days, in reality suffered detriment. Accordingly, we find the Prophet (saws) saying,

    قال أبو هريرة: سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: (والله إني لأستغفر الله وأتوب إليه في اليوم أكثر من سبعين مرة)

    “I seek Allah’s forgiveness and turn to him more than seventy times a day.”
    But, obviously, on the general scale, it is primarily the followers of the Prophet who have been addressed (Au.).

    وَاتَّبِعْ مَا يُوحَىٰ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا (2)

    33|2| But rather, follow that which is revealed unto you from your Lord. Surely, Allah is ever Aware of what you do.

    وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا (3)

    33|3| And have trust in Allah.5 Allah is sufficient as a Disposer (of affairs).6

    4. It is reported that in his early phase in Madinah the Prophet (saws) was soft towards the Jews and hypocrites hoping to win them to Islam, and so Allah (who knew their disease: Au.) revealed this verse (Zamakhshari).
    5. “The surah begins by directing the Prophet, on whom be peace, to fear Allah, not to comply with the hypocrites and unbelievers, follow that which his Lord has revealed to him, and, finally, to place trust in Him alone. This beginning fuses together well the main contents of this surah - its legislations, and surrounding events – with the main principle and pillar, over which this religion, its laws, its injunctions, its system, its statutes, its morals, and its mores rest. The said main principle and pillar is Allah’s fear, submission to His wish, following of the way that He has chosen, trust in Him alone, and inner certainty concerning His help and succour” (Sayyid).
    6. “Such are the words with which begins a surah,” writes Sayyid, “which undertakes to organize a few social and moral features of the newly born Islamic society. It is a beginning which reveals the spirit and nature of the society that is to take shape, and the pillars on which it is to rest: its edifice rising high up in the external, material world, while its roots going down deep into the internal, spiritual world.
    “Islam is not merely an aggregate of instructions and admonitions, nor an assortment of rules and regulations, nor yet of customs and conventions .. It includes all these, but they are not the whole of Islam. Islam is none other than submission ... submission to the will of Allah and His decrees, readiness to accept His commandments and prohibitions, following of the course He has charted – without paying the slightest attention to any other counsel, without taking any other direction, and without reliance on any other save Him. It grows from the realization that man is already submitted in this world to a set of divine laws, the only set of laws that regulate the creatures and the earth in which they live, which also regulates the stars and the worlds beyond ... which regulates the affairs of all and everyone within them: the apparent of them and the inapparent, the visible of them and the invisible, what human knowledge can comprehend and what is beyond its comprehension. They are fully convinced that there is no other recourse to them but to follow what they are urged to from on High, and to steer away from what He forbids ... to adopt the means that will make it easy to achieve their goals ... and then, finally, await the outcome that Allah has destined for them. This is the foundation on which rests the statutes and the laws, customs and conventions, morals and manners: with the application of proper interpretations (of the directives) in a given situational context .. with the firm faith which is embedded in the hearts; with practical steps in the light of the soul’s submission to Allah; and following of the life’s course in its light.
    “Islam indeed is a faith from which spring forth the laws, upon which in turn, rests the rest of the system. These active, integrated, and inter-related principles, are in their sum and substance, what is known as Islam.
    “It is noticeable that the first directive, given precedence in a surah that consists of the principles of organization of the social life of the Muslims, in the light of newly laid rules and regulations, was concerning taqwa. And the counsel was directed to the Prophet, upon whom be peace, the one to supervise and implement: ‘O Messenger, fear Allah.’ Taqwa of Allah then, the fear of His surveillance, and the thoughts of His exaltedness is the first principle and the permanent watch-guard that lies in the depths of hearts and which oversees the implementation of every legislation. It is this to which is bound every commandment in Islam and every directive.
    “The second directive is the forbiddance to obey the unbelievers and hypocrites, or follow any of their suggestions or advice which would include giving ear to their opinions or urgings. The precedence of this forbiddance over the commandment to obey the Revelation leads us to believe that the pressure by these groups within Madinah and around it was quite high in those days - hence the emphasis on not following their suggestions, opinions and directions, or to bend to their pressures. And this forbiddance remains for every Muslim community, of all times, lest that they ever obey the unbelievers and hypocrites; more so in affairs related to beliefs, legislation or social organization; in order that the course taken by the believers ever remains for Allah alone, without any adulteration of instructions or inspirations from sources other than His.
    “And let no one be deceived by what the unbelievers and hypocrites possess of knowledge and experience, as some Muslims allow for themselves in times of weakness and heedlessness, for it is Allah who is the Knowing, the Wise. It is He who has laid down the form and the procedure in the light of His unlimited knowledge and wisdom: ‘Verily, Allah is ever Knowing, Wise.’ In comparison, what man has is nothing but the outer skin, not much, but very little.
    “The third directive: ‘But rather follow that which is revealed unto you from your Lord,’ – this is the direction from which will emanate all directives; this is the true source that can and should be obeyed. The text carries emphasis concealed in its construction: ‘But rather, follow that which is revealed unto you from your Lord.’ The revelation, ‘unto you,’ and the source, ‘from your Lord,’ ... these lead to the sense of emphasis, making it all the more imperative over the direct imperative contained in the fact that the command is from someone who demands complete obedience.
    "Fourthly, the words that follow, ‘Allah is ever Aware of what you do,’ informs us that it is He who has full knowledge of you, and of what you do. It is He indeed who knows what really you are doing, as He knows the objectives that are concealed in your hearts that prompt you to do whatever you do.
    “The final directive: ‘And have trust in Allah. And Allah is sufficient as a Disposer (of affairs),’ is saying in effect, ‘Do not be concerned at all whether they – the hypocrites and unbelievers – are with you or against you. Pay no attention to their scheming and plotting, but rather, direct all your affairs to Allah, and then place your trust in Him alone.’ This is the firm rule that a heart acts upon, and whereby finds its limits and boundaries, leaving whatever is beyond and behind it to the One who commands and executes: depending on Him, finding peace in Him, and firmly believing in Him.”

    مَا جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِرَجُلٍ مِنْ قَلْبَيْنِ فِي جَوْفِهِ ۚ وَمَا جَعَلَ أَزْوَاجَكُمُ اللَّائِي تُظَاهِرُونَ مِنْهُنَّ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ ۚ وَمَا جَعَلَ أَدْعِيَاءَكُمْ أَبْنَاءَكُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ قَوْلُكُمْ بِأَفْوَاهِكُمْ ۖ وَاللَّهُ يَقُولُ الْحَقَّ وَهُوَ يَهْدِي السَّبِيلَ (4)

    33|4| Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his breast,7 nor has He made those of your wives - as you declare unlawful through zihar-owth - your mothers;8 nor has He made your adopted sons, your sons in fact.9 Those are your mere words out of your mouths.10 Allah says the truth and He guides to the (right) course.

    7. That is, just as a man cannot have two hearts, so also a man cannot declare his wife his mother, nor can anyone have two fathers. That is the general meaning.
    As for the immediate cause of revelation it is reported that there was a man in the Quraysh who used to boast: “I have two hearts and therefore can use my mind better than Muhammad” (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    He has been identified as Jameel b. Asad al-Fihri. It is also reported that after the pagans were defeated at Badr, (and Jameel was fleeing) he passed by Abu Sufyan (who was leading the trade caravan back to Makkah). He asked him, “What happened at Badr?” Jameel replied, “The force (i.e., the Quraysh) split into two kinds: those killed and those who fled.” Abu Sufyan asked him, “What’s with you that your one shoe is in your hand while the other is in the foot?” He replied, “I thought they were both in my feet” (Zamakhshari). So much for the two minds he boasted (Au.)!
    [This is something we experience quite often. Most recently, it is reported that the General leading American attack on Qaim in Iraq, during April 2005, started off by boasting, “Bring Allah, bring Muhammad, I’ll fight them.” The American forces were routed and had to withdraw in haste. And the first casualty was the General himself, whose helicopter was downed by the resistance forces even before the battle could begin - Au.].
    It is also reported that when Ibn `Abbas was asked about the reasons of the revelation of this verse he said,

    قَامَ نَبِيّ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يَوْماً يُصَلّي فَخَطَرَ خَطْرَةً فَقَالَ المُنَافِقُونَ الّذِينَ يُصَلّونَ مَعَهُ أَلاَ تَرَى أَنّ لَهُ قَلْبَيْنِ قَلْباً مَعَكُمْ وقَلْباً مَعَهُمْ فَأَنْزَلَ الله: {مَا جَعَلَ الله لِرَجُلٍ مِنْ قَلْبَيْن فِي جَوْفِهِ}". (الترمذي)

    “Once the Prophet began to lead in the Prayers, but was distracted a little (by something). The hypocrites behind him remarked, ‘He has two hearts. One is with you while the other is with them,’” (meaning, with his Companions: Au.) - Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Qurtubi.
    The first report is in Ahmad, while the second is in Tirmidhi who declared it Hasan (Ibn Kathir).
    If it is asked, writes Zamakhshari, what is the point in adding, “in the breast” (since all hearts are in the breasts anyway), it can be said that the addition is for making the meaning reach home more emphatically. The addition creates sort of a graphic image.
    It can be added that each man has a heart of his own, a heart which is filled with emotions of all sorts, which influence his behavior. Bu, within the same heart there cannot reside a second personality with exactly the opposite attributes – one and at the same time.
    Thanwi writes that this verse is the basis of the opinion that a man cannot pay attention to two affairs at a time. This is the reason why, when a man complains of mental worries, he is asked to engage himself in Allah’s remembrance. The principle also leads us to identify an error in human behaviour. Some people hold rosaries (counting beads) in their hands in the act of remembrance of Allah, but also engage in conversation. When asked, they explain that they are capable of doing both viz., converse, without forgetting Allah. They must know that Allah has not placed two hearts in a man’s breast.
    Yusuf Ali adds: “‘Two hearts in his (one) breast’: two inconsistent attitudes: such as serving Allah and Mammon; or subscribing to both Truth and Superstition; or hypocritically pretending one thing and intending another. Such a thing is against Allah’s Law and Will. Apart from the condemnation of general hypocrisy, two pagan customs of the Times of Ignorance are mentioned, and their iniquity pointed out.”
    Sayyid expands further, “Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his breast: Indeed, it is a single heart and there is no course open for it but one to take for treading. There is no other way for it but to have one vision of life to look up to. There is no other way for it but to have a single criterion by which to weigh the values, by which to asses the events and things, otherwise, it will disintegrate, commit hypocrisy, and will not be able to follow a single direction.
    “It is not in the power of man to derive his morals and ethos from one source, laws and legislations from another, draw social and economical principles from a third source, and draw his arts and ideals from a fourth source. Such an admixture will not create a man who has a single heart but rather, (a split personality) of torn and fragmented pieces that has nothing to support, or firm it up.
    “A man of faith has to have a true belief; and then devote himself fully to its demands and requirements, at every juncture and instance in his life, whether such instances are major or minor. It is not possible for him to say a word, or make a movement, or intend to do a thing, or imagine a thing, but where he is not ruled by this belief – if the belief happens to be a reality embedded in his soul – for Allah has not made for man save one heart: a heart that bends to a single law, draws from a single set of concepts, and weighs with the help of a single weighing apparatus.
    “It is not possible for a man of faith to do something and then say, ‘I did it in my own personal capacity,’ or to another thing, ‘I did that in my capacity as a Muslim;’ as do the politicians, businessmen, or men of social organizations, or of science, as we hear these days from them. A man of faith is a single undivided entity, with one heart, that houses a single doctrine, who has a single set of concepts, a single measuring scale, and whose perceptions have a single source, in every situation, at every time.
    “It is with this single heart that he lives the life of an individual, the life of a family man, the life in the society .. within the nation .. and in the world. This is how he lives in open and secret, as employer and employee, as ruler and the ruled, in ease and hardships .. without altering his scales, or values, or criteria, for, ‘Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his breast.’
    “The outcome is that there is not but a single vision, a single path, a single Revelation, and a single direction, viz., submission to Allah alone, for, a single heart cannot worship two gods, cannot serve two masters, cannot walk in two directions, cannot tread on two courses .. he will attempt no such thing, but will experience break up, fragmentation, disintegration, and myriad of difficulties of this sort.”
    The word for what we have rendered as “breast” is, in the text “jawf” which is for something “hollow” and not breast per se. Interestingly, Allah said, “Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his breast,” (using the words “any man” and not “any person” because “a person” would include “women” who do have two hearts during pregnancy: their own, and that of the child they bear (Au.).
    8. In pagan days, when someone said to his wife, “Your back is like my mother’s” or, “You are like my mother’s back”, his wife stood divorced. This was known as “Zihar” (from “Zahr”: back).
    Actually, Zamakhshari explains, they meant to say that your stomach is like my mother’s stomach, and by the word stomach, they meant the pudendum. They did not wish to use the last word, nor even the word stomach, for it housed the pudendum, and so, (in keeping with strong Arab sense of decency), ultimately adopted the word “back” implying the front, which itself implied the pudendum.
    Compare the decency prevalent among the pagan Arabs, and the West of today, where, women inspectors in prisons go about in their rounds, examining uncurtained bathroom cubicles for physical counting of the male or female inmates (Au.).
    Majid comments, “(In pre-Islamic times) when the pagan husband wanted to get rid of his wife without making her free to remarry, he simply said to her: ‘Thou art to me as the back of my mother.’ By pronouncing these words he deprived her of all conjugal rights and yet retained control over her ([she] had to remain forever in her former husband’s custody: Asad). The holy Qur’an repudiated this barbaric form of divorce, and thereby effected a great reform in the status of the Arab women.”
    9. That is, just like a woman does not become a mother if you address her as one, so also, a man does not become a son if you begin addressing him as your son.
    Majid comments: “This repudiates the Christian (Catholic) notions according to which an adopted son was treated as a natural son, so that the same impediments of marriage arose from this supposed relation in the prohibited degree as it would have done in the case of a genuine son. Strangely enough, the heathen Arabs, while they had no scruple in marrying the wives (excluding of course their own mothers) of a deceased father, considered it awfully wrong to marry the divorced wife of an adopted son. It was this crudity of the pagan moral that, upon the Prophet’s marrying the divorced wife of his freedman Zaid, who was also his adopted son, gave rise to a great deal of hostile and scandalous criticism (in our times: Au.)”
    10. The words about the adopted son were revealed in connection with Zayd b. Haritha whom the Prophet had adopted early in his life, and who was always referred to as Zayd b. Muhammad until the revelation of this verse. According to reports in Muslim, Tirmidhi and Nasa’i, such adopted sons were treated as real sons in all respects. For example, they were allowed privacy with those normally forbidden to them in marriage. Hence the incident involving Sahlah bint Suhayl, reported by `A’isha in Muslim,

    عَنْ عَائِشَةَ أَنّ سَالِماً مَوْلَى أَبِي حُذَيْفَةَ كَانَ مَعَ أَبِي حُذَيْفَةَ وَأَهْلِهِ فِي بَيْتِهِمْ. فَأَتَتْ (تَعْنِي ابْنَةَ سُهَيْلٍ) النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم. فَقَالَتْ: إِنّ سَالِماً قَدْ بَلَغَ مَا يَبْلُغُ الرّجَالُ، وَعَقَلَ مَا عَقَلُوا، وَإِنّهُ يَدْخُلُ عَلَيْنَا، وَإِنّي أَظُنّ أَنّ فِي نَفْسِ أَبِي حُذَيْفَةَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ شَيْئاً. فَقَالَ لَهَا النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم "أَرْضِعِيهِ تَحْرُمِي عَلَيْهِ، وَيَذْهَبِ الّذِي فِي نَفْسِ أَبِي حُذَيْفَةَ" (مسلم)

    “Salim was a client of Abu Hudhayfah living with them in the family in their house. She (that is, Sahlah bint Suhayl) came to the Prophet and said, “Salim has matured and understands what a matured man understands. He enters upon us and I think Abu Hudayfah does not feel very comfortable about it.” The Prophet told her, “Suckle him so that he becomes forbidden unto you and that will go away which is in Abu Hudhayfa’s heart.”
    And, following this new rule, the Prophet took in marriage his adopted son’s divorced wife Zaynab bint Jahsh in order that, as the Qur’an said (33: 37),

    كَيْ لا يَكُونَ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ حَرَجٌ فِي أَزْوَاجِ أَدْعِيَائِهِمْ إِذَا قَضَوْا مِنْهُنَّ وَطَرًا (الأحزاب – 37)

    “... so that there should not be any hindrance for the believers with regard to the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished what they would of them.” And, as in a hadith of the Sahihayn,

    وَيَحْرُمُ مِنَ الرّضَاعَةِ مَا يَحْرُمُ مِنَ الرّحِم

    “Fostering forbids what the womb forbids” (Ibn Kathir, with slight modification).

    ادْعُوهُمْ لِآبَائِهِمْ هُوَ أَقْسَطُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ ۚ فَإِنْ لَمْ تَعْلَمُوا آبَاءَهُمْ فَإِخْوَانُكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَمَوَالِيكُمْ ۚ وَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ فِيمَا أَخْطَأْتُمْ بِهِ وَلَٰكِنْ مَا تَعَمَّدَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا (5)

    33|5| Call them after (the name) of their (real) fathers. That is more equitable in the sight of Allah. But if you know not their fathers, then they are your brothers in faith and your protégé. And there is no sin upon you in that in which you have erred, but rather, (in) what your hearts premeditate.11 And Allah was ever Forgiving, Kind.

    11. That is, if someone attributed (himself, or another) to a non-biological father, then, if he did it without knowledge, he could be forgiven, but not someone who did it knowingly and intentionally (Ibn Jarir).
    Hence a hadith which is reported by Abu Dharr:

    عَنْ أَبِي ذَرَ، أَنّهُ سَمِعَ رَسُولَ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ: "أَيّمَا رَجُلٍ ادّعَى لِغَيْرِ أَبِيهِ وَهُوَ يَعْلَمُهُ، إِلاّ كَفَر"َ. (مسلم)

    The Prophet said, “Whoever attributed himself to a progenitor other than his, knowingly, committed disbelief” (Ibn Kathir).
    The non-questionability would however be extended to cases where someone’s name settles on the tongues of the people such as, Miqdad b. al-Aswad (a name familiar in hadith literature: Au.), who was actually Miqdad b. `Amr. He himself drew attention to it, but somehow his adoptive father’s name “al-Aswad” remained stuck to his name. Or, another example is Salim b. Abu Hudhayfah, although he was not his son, but that is how the name stuck to the people’s tongue (Qurtubi).

    النَّبِيُّ أَوْلَىٰ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ ۖ وَأَزْوَاجُهُ أُمَّهَاتُهُمْ ۗ وَأُولُو الْأَرْحَامِ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلَىٰ بِبَعْضٍ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُهَاجِرِينَ إِلَّا أَنْ تَفْعَلُوا إِلَىٰ أَوْلِيَائِكُمْ مَعْرُوفًا ۚ كَانَ ذَٰلِكَ فِي الْكِتَابِ مَسْطُورًا (6)

    33|6| The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves;12 and his wives are their mothers.13 And some of the relations by the womb are closer to others in the Book of Allah than the (ordinary) believers and immigrants,14 unless you wish to do good15 to your friends.16 That has been scribed in the Book.

    12. That is, Hasan and other have said, the Prophet is their father. Hence the Prophet once said, as in a narrative preserved by Abu Da’ud, narrated by Jabir b. `Abdullah, The Prophet said,

    عن جَابِرِ بن عَبْدِ الله عن النّبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ يَقُولُ: "أنَا أوْلَى بِكُلّ مُؤْمِنٍ مِن نَفْسِهِ فَأيّمَا رَجُلٍ مَاتَ وَتَرَكَ دَيْناً فَإلَيّ وَمَنْ تَرَكَ مَالاً فَلِوَرَثَتِهِ". (أبو داؤد)

    “I am closer to every believer than his own self. Therefore, if one of you dies leaving debts, then, (let it be brought) to me. But whosoever left wealth behind him, then it is for his inheritors” - Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, in different words.
    A version in Bukhari mentions Abu Hurayrah as reporting,

    عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ أَنَا أَوْلَى بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ فَمَنْ مَاتَ وَعَلَيْهِ دَيْنٌ وَلَمْ يَتْرُكْ وَفَاءً فَعَلَيْنَا قَضَاؤُهُ وَمَنْ تَرَكَ مَالا فَلِوَرَثَتِهِ (البخاري)

    The Prophet said, “I am closer to the believers than their own selves. Therefore, whoever died leaving debts, and did not leave someone to pay back then, its repayment is upon us, but if someone left wealth, then it is for his inheritors” (Au.).
    It also implied, adds Sayyid, that if someone left his family destitute, the Prophet took charge of it. The above report is in Bukhari (Ibn Kathir). The Prophet also said, as in Abu Da’ud,

    عن أَبي هُرَيْرَةَ قال قال رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : "إِنّمَا أَنَا لَكُمْ بِمَنْزِلَةِ الْوَالِدِ أُعَلّمُكُمْ، فإِذَا أَتَى أَحَدُكُمْ الْغَائِطَ فَلا يَسْتَقْبِلْ القِبْلَةَ وَلاَ يَسْتَدْبِرْهَا وَلاَ يَسْتَطِبْ بِيَمِيِنِهِ، وَكانَ يَأْمُرُ بِثَلاَثَةِ أحْجَارٍ، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الرّوْثِ وَالرّمّةِ".‏ (أبو داؤد)

    “I am like your father, teaching you. Therefore, when one of you attends to nature’s call, let him neither face the Qiblah nor show his back to it, nor cleanse himself with the right hand.” And he used to instruct (us to use) three stones, and forbid us (the use of) animal waste and bones (for cleansing ourselves).
    He also said, as in a Sahih report of Anas,

    عَنْ أَنَسٍ قَالَ: قَالَ النَّبِيُّ -صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ -: " لا يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى أَكُونَ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ وَالِدِهِ وَوَلَدِهِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ." (البخاري)

    “One of you is not a believer until I am dearer to him that his own self, his wealth, his children, and all the people” (Ibn Kathir).
    The term “awla,” however has a wider connotation. The Prophet said, as in Sahih collections,

    عن أَبي هُرَيْرَةَ أَنّ رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قالَ: "إِنّمَا مَثَلِي وَمَثَلُ أُمّتِي كَمَثَلِ رَجُلٍ اسْتَوقَدَ نَاراً فَجَعَلَتِ الدّوَابّ وَالفَرَاشُ يَقَعْنَ فِيهَا وَأنا آخِذٌ بِحُجَزِكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ تَقَحّمُونَ فِيهَا". (الترمذي)

    “My example and the example of those I am sent to, is like a man who started a fire. Creepers and flying insects began to fall into it. I am trying to hold you back by your waists, while you are rushing headlong into it.” In this sense too, (of love and care), the Prophet was closer to us than we are to our own selves (Qurtubi).
    The text of the above hadith is also in the Sahihayn.
    The word for what is translated here as ‘close,’ is awla, meaning ‘first,’ and, therefore, the verse implies that a Muslim should first get familiar with the biography of the Prophet, before engaging in the activities of his personal life (Au.).
    13. That is, not in real (or biological: Au.) sense, but in terms of respect and veneration to be granted to them (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir). Hence, although the believers were forbidden to marry the Prophet’s wives, their children or parents did not become unlawful to them (Razi). Zubayr for example married Asma’, `A’isha’s sister, and no one ever thought she was Zubayr’s aunt (Qurtubi).
    Hence, (perhaps to refute this view), when `A’isha was addressed by a woman as, “O Mother of the believers,” she replied sharply, “I am the mother of your male believers.” On the other hand, Umm Salamah said (perhaps she had the general meaning of respect and reverence in her mind), “I am the mother of the male as well as female believers of this Ummah.”
    Alusi traces a few Shi`ah sources that say that before dying the Prophet had given `Ali the power of attorney to divorce any of his wives if she misbehaved after his death. Accordingly, `Ali divorced `A’isha, after the Jamal Battle.
    This monstrosity does not deserve refutation (Au.).
    14. That is, “When a man leaves wealth behind him, then, his kindred related to him by blood are more deserving of inheritance than the ordinary believers or immigrants.” This was revealed eight years following emigration to Madinah; until then, the rule following the institution of brotherhood was that an immigrant (Muhajir) inherited another immigrant (or Ansari) brother, even though the two were not related to each other by blood, but rather, by the ties of the newly formed brotherhood. The true kindred, those related by blood, but who did not migrate to Madinah, but instead chose to remain in pagan areas, despite the fact that they had embraced Islam, got nothing out of inheritance from an immigrant who died at Madinah. However, eight years after migration, after the fall of Makkah, the inheritance rules were changed, as expressed in this verse, which stated that the kindred related by blood (and not a Muhajir or Ansari brother) were closer to a Muhajir, and hence will, here onward, receive their share from a deceased Muhajir, even if such kindred had not migrated to Madinah, but instead, stayed back in lands controlled by the pagans, on the condition, of course, that he had embraced Islam. The directives concerning a Muhajir inheriting another Muhajir declared brother through the institution of brotherhood (or an Ansari) were issued by the Prophet himself (and which had remained in force until the fall of Makkah). After this explanation, Ibn Jarir quotes a hadith which we replace with one found in Muslim and Tirmidhi. The following version is from Tirmidhi. It is reported that the Prophet used to instruct his forces,

    اغْزُوا بِسْم الله وفي سبيلِ الله، قَاتِلُوا مَنْ كَفَرَ بالله، ولا تَغلوا تغدروا ولا تَمْثلُوا، ولا تَقْتُلُوا وَليداً، فإذا لَقِيتَ عَدُوُكَ مِنَ المُشْرِكِينَ فادْعُهُمْ إلى إحْدَى ثلاثِ خِصَالٍ أو خِلاَلٍ أيّهَا أجَابُوكَ فاقْبَلْ مِنْهُمْ وكُفّ عنْهُمْ: وادْعُهُمْ إلى الإسلامِ والتّحَولِ مِنْ دَارِهِمْ إلى دَارِ المُهَاجِرِينَ، وأخْبِرْهُمْ إنْ فَعَلُوا ذلكَ فإنّ لَهُمْ ما لِلْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَعَلَيْهِمْ ما عَلَى المُهَاجِرِينَ، وإنْ أبَوْا أنْ يَتَحَوّلُوا فأَخْبِرْهُمْ أنّهُمْ يَكُونوا كأعْرَابِ المُسْلِمِينَ يَجْرِي عَلَيْهِمْ ما يَجْرِي على الأعْرَابِ، لَيْسَ لَهُمْ في الغَنِيمَةِ والْفَيءِ شَيْءٌ إلاّ أن يُجَاهِدُوا، فإنْ أبَوْا فَاسْتَعِنْ بالله عَلَيْهِمْ وَقَاتِلْهُمْ. (قال أبو عيسى حديثٌ حسنٌ صحيحٌ).‏

    “March out in the name of Allah, and in the path of Allah. Fight him who disbelieves in Allah. Do not deceive (in booty), do not disfigure the dead, and do not kill children. Then, when you face the pagans enemies, invite them to one of the three, accepting from them whichever they agree to, and spare them: invite them to Islam and to movement from their lands to the lands of the emigrants. Let them know that if they do that they will have what the emigrants have, and upon them will be (of duties) what the emigrants have. But if they refuse and prefer to stay in their lands then, let them know that they will be like the ‘A`rab-Muslims’ for whom will be the rules that have been laid down for the ‘A`rab; they shall have no share in the booties nor other war spoils, unless they fight in the way of Allah. But if they refuse, then seek Allah’s help and fight them.”
    However, with the fall of Makkah, these rules were abrogated (by the verse under discussion) and the Prophet declared:

    لا هجرة بعد الفتح

    “There is no hijrah (emigration) after the fall (of Makkah).”
    That is, the specific hijrah – the kind that entailed the rules that were instituted for those who had migrated to Madinah before the fall of Makkah - stood cancelled. But of course, ordinary hijrah, viz., escape from pagan lands to lands under Muslim control, remained a virtuous act even after the fall of Makkah (Au.).
    15. “The extremely complex term ma`ruf,” writes Asad, “.. maybe defined as ‘any act [or attitude] the goodness whereof is evident in reason’ (Raghib).”
    16. That is, unless you wish to leave a will behind (within the stipulated one-third: Au.), allotting some of your wealth to your friends, or blood-kindred, even if they happen to be pagans. This is how Qatadah, `Ikrimah, `Ata’ and others understood the verse. In view of the change in inheritance rules, Mujahid thought that a Muhajir could leave a testament in favor of his brother-Muhajir of the brotherhood compact. This latter understanding is also Ibn Jarir’s preferred opinion since pagans cannot be considered as Awliya.

    وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِنَ النَّبِيِّينَ مِيثَاقَهُمْ وَمِنْكَ وَمِنْ نُوحٍ وَإِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ ۖ وَأَخَذْنَا مِنْهُمْ مِيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا (7)

    33|7| And (recall) when We took from the Prophets their compact – and from you, from Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa and `Isa ibn Maryam;17 We took from them a solemn compact.18

    17. The compact was taken when they were still in the loins of Adam (Mujahid), and was to the effect that some of them will confirm and endorse others (Qatadah); hence the Prophet’s words,

    "كنت أول النبيين في الخلق، وآخرهم في البعث، فبدأ بي قبلهم". (الدر المنثور)

    “I was the first of the Prophets to be created but the last to be raised. Thus He started with me before them” (Ibn Jarir, whose version is slightly shorter). This report however, is weak (Ibn Kathir).
    In any case, the ayah under discussion is a replica of another which says (3: 81),

    وَإِذْ أَخَذَ اللّهُ مِيثَاقَ النَّبِيِّيْنَ لَمَا آتَيْتُكُم مِّن كِتَابٍ وَحِكْمَةٍ ثُمَّ جَاءكُمْ رَسُولٌ مُّصَدِّقٌ لِّمَا مَعَكمْ لَتُؤْمِنُنَّ بِهِ وَلَتَنصُرُنَّهُ قَالَ أَأَقْرَرْتُمْ وَأَخَذْتُمْ عَلَى ذَلِكُمْ إِصْرِي قَالُواْ أَقْرَرْنَا قَالَ فَاشْهَدُواْ وَأَنَاْ مَعَكُم مِّنَ الشَّاهِدِينَ

    “And when Allah took covenant of the Prophets (to the effect that) ‘(when) I have bestowed on you a Book and Wisdom and then comes to you a Messenger (from Me), confirming that which is with you, you shall believe in him and strengthen him.’ Then He asked, ‘Do you agree and accept this, My covenant?’” (Qurtubi).
    18. It has been preserved by Bazzar, in Tabarani’s Awsat and Abu Nu`aym’s Dala’il that the Prophet was asked by Maysarah al-Fajr,

    وعن ميسرة الفجر قال: قلت: يا رسول الله، متى كتبت نبياً؟ قال: "وآدم بين الروح والجسد”. رواه أحمد والطبراني ورجاله رجال الصحيح.‏

    “Messenger of Allah, when were you written a Prophet?” He answered, “When Adam was between the spirit and the body” (Shawkani).
    That is, the decree and the decision concerning his messengership is as old as that (Au.). The report has been treated trustworthy by Haythami (S. Ibrahim).

    لِيَسْأَلَ الصَّادِقِينَ عَنْ صِدْقِهِمْ ۚ وَأَعَدَّ لِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا (8)

    33|8| That He might question the truthful concerning their truth.19 And He has prepared for the unbelievers a painful chastisement.

    19. That is, He will question the Messengers about the truth they carried as to what was the response to what they had conveyed? (Mujahid – Ibn Jarir). Hence `Ali’s statement about this world:

    الدنيا حلالها حساب و حرامها عذاب

    “This world's lawful (entails) reckoning and its unlawful chastisement” (Razi).
    Other meanings are possible. One, the compact was taken in order that the Prophets be questioned whether they had properly conveyed the message; implying, if Prophets will not be spared questioning, then what about ordinary people? Two, the questioning will be by way of building argument against the rejecters of the Prophets (Qurtubi).

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ جَاءَتْكُمْ جُنُودٌ فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ رِيحًا وَجُنُودًا لَمْ تَرَوْهَا ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرًا (9)

    33|9| O you who have believed! Remember Allah’s favor on you when the hosts came against you,20 and We let loose against them a wind21 and hosts that you did not see.22 And Allah is ever seeing of what you do.

    20. The allusion is to the joint pagan and Jewish raid upon Madinah conducted in the 5th year after hijrah resulting in the Battle of the Trench (or Ditch: Khandaq). It is also known as Ghazwah al-Ahzab (War of the Hosts [or, Confederates]). Following our practice, we present a somewhat detailed but compressed account of the battle, ignoring minor points.
    Battle of the Trench
    Despite the victory at Uhud, the Quraysh were still smarting under the blow they had received at Badr, where their top-order leadership was wiped out. Further, they could see Islamic power growing apace. Their leadership, hegemony, trade and the special position they had occupied for centuries, was under threat. Under threat was also their way of life, social order, and the time-honored idols.
    The Jews of Banu Nadir who had been exiled to Khayber added fuel to the low burning fire in the hearts of the Quraysh. Salam b. Abu al-Huqayq, Huyayy b. Akhtab, Kinanah b. Abu al-Huqayq, of the Banu Nadir, and Hawdhah b. Qays and Abu ‘Ammar, of the Wa’il tribes, (and Salam b. Mishkam of the Banu Nadir: Qurtubi), accompanied by a few others visited Makkah, warned the Quraysh against allowing the menace of Islam growing any further. They should take heart and deal one final blow. They themselves were at their service and would join in whenever it suited the Quraysh to strike. When asked, during a meeting, they issued the edict (against their own beliefs and knowledge: Shafi`) that the religion that the Quraysh followed was certainly better than that followed by the Prophet. It is in reference to this that Allah revealed (Al-Nisa’, 51),

    أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ نَصِيبًا مِّنَ الْكِتَابِ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْجِبْتِ وَالطَّاغُوتِ وَيَقُولُونَ لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ هَؤُلاء أَهْدَى مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ سَبِيلاً

    “Have you considered those who were given a portion of the Book? They believe in sorcery and the devil, and say about those who have disbelieved, ‘These are better guided on the path than the believers.’”
    (According to some historical reports], twenty of the Jews and some thirty of the Quraysh then proceeded to the House. Pressing their breasts against the walls of Ka`bah, they pledged to Allah that they would fight Muhammad until their last ounce of strength: Shafi`).
    Not satisfied with the fire they had stoked at Makkah, a few of the Jews proceeded to the Ghatafan tribe of the Najd area and convinced them also that their best interests lay in joining forces with the Quraysh against the Prophet. They promised them half of the Khayber date crop if they assented. They received a positive response from the leader of the Ghatafan, ‘Uyayna b. Hisn al-Fizari.
    The Quraysh wrote to their ally Banu Asad. In response Talha b. Khuwaylid and those who followed him came and joined with them. A few other tribes, (such as Banu Sulaym: Asad) that had agreed to help them at times of war also joined in. All preparations completed, and help of the allies assured, Abu Sufyan, the commander-in-chief, marched out for Madinah (commanding 400 men, 300 horses, and 1000 camels loaded with goods: Shafi`). At Marr al-Zahran, a little out of Makkah, he was joined by Banu Sulaym who were led by Sufyan b. `Abd Shams. A little later Banu Murra also joined in, led by Harith b. `Awf. Banu Ashja`, led by Mis`ar b. Rakhilah, then arrived. The settlers in the Makkan outskirts, known as Ahabish, came along too, in addition to the Banu Kinanah who were their allies. Some of the Tihama (people of the coastland: Asad) also joined the ranks and the size of the army swelled to numbers the like of which had never been seen before. Ibn Is-haq mentioned their numbers as reaching up to 10,000. (Other reports place the final figures as up to 15,000: Alusi). It was sort of a pan-Arab decision against Islam and Muslims, bolstered by Jewish mind and soul. The Qur’an referred to them as the hosts (or confederates). That was either 4th or 5th year after hijrah.
    When the news of their intended joint action reached the Prophet he came out leaving `Ali ibn Talib in charge of Madinah. He consulted his Companions and Salman al-Farsi (a recently converted Persian Muslim: Shafi`) advised that they dig trenches (khandaq) at places that were open for enemy intrusion which happened to be in one direction of the city. The other three sides were either difficult lava terrains or were covered with trees and orchards that made them impassable for a large army, especially those on mounts.
    Faced up with the prospects of meeting such a large army as was advancing, almost everyone agreed to the suggestion about the trench, a novel idea, and the digging began. The proposed trench, some 5000 feet long extended from the Sheikhayn mountains in the east to Al-Midhadh in the West. (Subsequently, it was extended up to the area where the Bat-han and Ratuna valleys met, totaling up to approximately 3.5 miles: Shafi`. Some Muslims dug a few other trenches at spots close to their quarters, including one as far away as near Quba: Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah, `Ahad-e-Nabawi ke Maydan-e-Jung). The Prophet divided the work among his followers. Every group of ten men was required to dig a trench forty feet long, nine feet wide, and seven to nine feet deep. The Immigrants and the Ansar were allotted two distinct areas. The Prophet (who had pitched his tent near the work spot, remaining there during the digging which lasted some three weeks: `Ahad-e-Nabawi ke Maydan-e-Jung) took part in the digging and could be seen with muddied body. Salman Farsi was a strongly built man. Both Ansar and Muhajirun claimed him so the Prophet decided, “Salman is of us, one of our household (ahl al-bayt).”
    The Muslims were then passing through very difficult economic circumstances. The army was fed barley-paste cooked with a little butter. It was nothing but extreme hunger that made it palatable. But then came days when that went out of stock, and a few dates became luxury. When that luxury was also gone, they had to tie rocks to their stomachs to be able to stand erect. The Prophet was no exception. In fact, he had two rocks on his stomach. But spirits were high. When the diggers sang poetry in chorus, he joined in:

    والله لولا الله ما اهتدينا * ولا تصدقنا ولا صلينا
    إنا إذا قوم بغوا علينا * وإن أرادوا فتنة أبينا
    فأنزلن سكينة علينا * وثبت الأقدام إن لاقينا

    By Allah, if not for Allah, we would not be guided
    Neither expended nor prayed.
    The tribes have rebelled against us
    And sought mischief, although we avoided.
    Therefore, send down tranquility on us,
    And set firm our feet when we meet.
    At all events, the work went on at a goodly pace. It had to be completed before the enemy arrived. Notwithstanding the difficulties, the time target was so kept (six days: Shafi`) that when the hosts arrived, they stood before the barrier staring at it in disbelief.
    The Muslims numbered between 700-3000 against them (Ibn Kathir). Perhaps they kept reporting at the front and returning to Madinah and so numbers varied. (Many of the 3000 were hypocrites, who slipped away right when most required: Shabbir). Those that were less than fifteen of age were turned away. `Abdullah ibn `Umar, Zayd b. Thabit, Bara’ b. `Azib and Abu Sa`id al-Khudri just made it in. (The Muslims boasted of 33 horses: Shafi`).
    During the digging, Allah manifested a few miracles at the hands of the Prophet. E.g., when Jabir noticed the effects of hunger on him, he took his permission, went home, spoke to his wife and suggested that they prepare something. A little goat was slaughtered, and some barely pudding was cooked to go with it. Then Jabir went back to the Prophet and invited him to the meal. He observed secrecy because the food was just enough for a couple of men. But the Prophet announced the event and asked everyone to join in. They were at least a thousand. That put Jabir and his wife in an embarrassing situation. But the Prophet supplicated over the food and everyone ate to his fill leaving behind enough for Jabir and his wife. They were even able to gift some to the neighbors.
    Also during the digging, the Prophet informed `Ammar b. Yasir that he would be killed by a rebellious party. He was killed in the Siffin battle in which he had participated on `Ali’s side.
    At one point his Companions encountered a huge rock that they could not break. They sought the Prophet’s help. He went down the trench, struck it three times. With the first strike he said, “Allah is Great. I have been given the keys to Syria. By Allah, I can see its pink palaces at the moment.” Then he struck a second time and said, “Allah is Great. I have been given the keys to Persia and I can see at this moment the white palaces of Mada’in.” Then he struck a third time and said, “Allah is Great. I have been given the keys to Yemen. By Allah, I can see the gates of San`a from this place.”
    [During the digging Zayd b. Thabit, (in his early teens: Au.) who was transporting mud fell asleep inside the trench. `Ammara b. Hazm playfully took away his arms. When he awoke he began to frantically search for them. The Prophet remarked, “Abu Riqad (meaning, “father of sleep”) you slept off to the loss of your armor?” Then he asked who had taken it. When `Ammara said he had, he admonished him over such practical jokes: Sayyid].
    Finally, the digging over, women, children, and old men were gathered together and sent to the safety of a fort called Fare`. It belonged to Banu Haritha and was one of the strongest that the Muslims then had in their possession.
    The Makkans and their allies had encamped at the place where flood waters of Rumah met between Juruf and Rughabah. The Ghatafan, accompanied by Banu Asad, came in shortly and encamped at the end of Naqma beside Uhud. Abu Sufyan remained in general command, while every one of the chiefs took turns to lead in the attacks every new day.
    Muslims had their backs to Mount Sil` with Madinah at their rear, facing the trench, while the pagans were in Rumah flanked by between Juraf forests, and Naqma????
    The pagans were of course disconcerted by the trench, but all the same, laid siege. They made several attempts to cross the trench, but the Muslims showered arrows on them and held them back. Once the attempt was so determined that preventing them from crossing, the Prophet could not offer his `Asr Prayer on time, doing it after sunset. In fact, according to one report, adds Qurtubi, (found in Nasa’i, Musnad Ahmad, Tabarani and Bayhaqi: Au.), one of those days of severe engagement the Prophet could not offer his Zuhr, `Asr (and Maghrib: Shafi`) Prayers. Much after sunset he first prayed Zuhr, then `Asr, then Maghrib and then `Isha. (The report has been termed Hasan in Tuhfah, where the author says that it is strengthened by other reports of similar nature: Au.).
    The Prophet (saws) said,
    ?????????
    “May Allah fill their homes and graves with fire, they prevented us from the Middle Prayer.”
    However, adds Alusi, the forces remained on the two sides of the trench, each hurling stones, or shooting arrows at the other. The Muslim password was,

    حم ، لا يُنصَرون

    “Ha. Mim. They will not be helped.”
    Some of the valiant pagans did manage to cross the trench but fell to Muslim swords. One of them, `Amr b. `Abd Wudd, a famous fighter, managed to cross the ditch along with a few of his companions. He and his men
    Appeared at the Muslim side of the trench by jumping their horses over it. He challenged a duel, and the Prophet sent `Ali ibn Abi Talib. The two fought for quite some time (until dust covered them and the onlookers lost the vision of the two. When the dust cleared, they saw `Ali beheading the man: Qurtubi). Others helped in dispatching the rest to Hell.
    As a result of various skirmishes, six Muslims were martyred. One of those struck was Sa`d b. Mu`adh. The arrow severed an artery in the foot. He supplicated: “O Allah, if there is going to be further encounters with the Quraysh, then let me live. But if there is going to be no further encounter with them let me die ... but do not deal me death until my eyes are cooled on account of Banu Qurazah.” After the armies had moved off, a tent was pitched in the yard of the mosque at Madinah for Sa`d so that the Prophet could visit him whenever he wished. He died after the affair of the Banu Qurayzah. One of the Muslims died when a Jewish woman of Banu Qurayzah threw a millstone on him from a fort.
    One of the pagans tried to cross the trench and fell into it. [The Muslims began to stone him. He said, “Killing me would be better than this (stoning). Let one of you come down so that I can fight him.” So Zubayr b. al-`Awwam descended into the trench, fought, and killed him: Alusi]. Muslims brought back his corpse. The pagans offered 10,000 Dirham for his body. The Prophet said he was not going to trade in corpses nor was he in any need of their 10,000. He allowed them to take away his body. (According to one report he said, “We do not eat price of the dead”: Alusi).
    When the siege prolonged, and the Prophet felt the weight of their vast superiority in men and arms, and their undeterred onslaught, he sent for Sa`d b. Mu`adh and Sa`d b. ‘Ubadah, two Ansari leaders. He informed them of the on-going peace talks to which Ghatafan seemed to be agreeing to. He mentioned the condition. It was to hand over to Ghatafan a third of the Madinan dates of the current year. If they agreed to it, the Ghatafan promised they would depart. Everything had been more or less agreed to except for the final signature on the document. “As I see it,” he explained to the two, “the pagans seem to have become like a single arrow against you.” But the two disagreed. They said, “By Allah, we never bowed ourselves to anyone even when we fought for worthless things in pre-Islamic times. How can we do it after Islam?” According to Tabarani, they said, “We shall not give them a single date except by purchase or as offered to guests.” Following their opposition, the Prophet terminated the peace talks.
    On their part, the Jews of Banu Nadir began to make efforts to break off the Jews of Qurayzah from the Prophet. They invited them to break the compact and join forces with the pagans. Huyayy b. Akhtab was chosen for this mission. He went and met Ka`b b. Asad of the Banu Qurayzah. (They numbered about 800 capable of bearing arms). Initially Ka`b refused to entertain Huyayy. Huyayy said, “Open (the door) for me O my brother.” Ka`b replied, “I will not. You are a man of evil omen. You are seeking me to break my pact with Muhammad. But I have experienced no evil from him to do so.” Huyayy said, “Let me in so that I refresh myself at your house and then return.” K`ab replied, “No way.” So Huyayy taunted him, “Perhaps you are afraid that I’ll share your food of the day.” So Ka`b opened the gates for him. Huyayy began to persuade him. He convinced Ka`b that the pagans were determined to destroy the Muslims root and branch. He also promised him that if the pagans withdrew, he would not, but rather, he and his men will enter into his fort to defend him against the Muslims in the event of a retaliatory attack. Finally, Ka`b gave in and news began to leak out of their treachery at that critical moment.
    That was a difficult day for the Muslims: the day Banu Qurayzah decided to break the pact and join hands with the tribal forces against the Muslims. The danger was all the more great because they were right behind the Muslims and could deal a death blow from the rear. Madinan women and children were entirely at their mercy.
    Zubayr was sent to gather news. He brought the worrisome report of their intended treachery. The Prophet then officially sent Sa`d b. Mu`adh (leader of the Aws), Sa`d b. ‘Ubadah (leader of the Khazraj), ‘Abdullah b. Rawaha and Khawat b. Jubayr to the Jews to confirm the news, but not leak it to the common folk if true. They went up to the Banu Qurayzah and talked out the issue. They found that they had decided to call off their treaty with the Prophet. (In fact, they said, “Who? What Prophet? There is no treaty between us and Muhammad!” - Sayyid). [Sa`d b. Mu`adh was deeply upset. He had been their allies for so many years: Au.]. Only one of their families, Banu Sa`yah, disagreed with them and decided to stand by the pact. Another of their men, `Amr b. Sa`di disagreed too and said that so far as he was considered, he found no cause to break the pact with Muhammad.
    When the news spread, the Muslims felt concerned about their women and children. But, with the massive army in front there was little they could do. The Qur’an depicted their situation (33: 10-11),

    إِذْ جَاؤُوكُم مِّن فَوْقِكُمْ وَمِنْ أَسْفَلَ مِنكُمْ وَإِذْ زَاغَتْ الأَبْصَارُ وَبَلَغَتِ الْقُلُوبُ الْحَنَاجِرَ وَتَظُنُّونَ بِاللَّهِ الظُّنُونَا هُنَالِكَ ابْتُلِيَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَزُلْزِلُوا زِلْزَالا شَدِيدًا

    “When they came on you from above you and from below you; when the eyes shifted (in fear) and hearts reached the throats, and you assumed about Allah various assumptions. It was there that the believers were tried and shaken with a severe shaking.”
    Not to be discouraged, the Prophet took such steps as necessary. He posted troops to scout the Madinan outskirts. Salamah b. Aslam of Aws led a party of two hundred men on mounts, while Zayd b. Haritha commanded another three hundred. They went about in rounds, raising their voices as they chanted Allahu Akbar. It drove fear into Jewish hearts, chicken-hearted as they ever were - and helped warn against any attempt at their women and children.
    As luck would have it, some 20 camels loaded with food-stuff and fodder sent by a Jew to the Makkan army fell into Muslim hands and for a couple of days they had something to eat.
    At last, after about a month's siege, Allah’s help arrived. It came in two ways: One, in the person of Nu`aym b. Mas`ud who played the key role in weakening the unity of the pagans, and second, a severe storm, bearing freezing cold, that made life in the camps miserable.
    Nu`aym b. Mas`ud was a Ghatafani. He went up to the Prophet, declared his faith in Islam, and offered help in Islam’s cause. The Prophet told him to conceal his faith and pretend an outsider, for, as he said,

    الحرب خُدعة

    “War is (the other name of) deceit.” He encouraged him to do what he could. Ibn Mas`ud went up to Banu Qurayzah and convinced them that they could not depend on the Quraysh without the latter offering them some men as security, otherwise it was feared that they would back off without completing the mission, leaving them alone to face the Muslim ire. Next he went up to the Quraysh and told them that Banu Qurayzah were regretting over their role and that they were secretly planning to deceitfully spirit away some of their and Ghatafan men. They would then slaughter them to prove their loyalty to Muhammad. “So, if the Jews send you word that they need some men as ransom, you would know what to make of it.” He also went up to Ghatafan to plant distrust in their hearts. The end result was that each of the parties began to look at the others as those about to outsmart them. (Abu Sufyan sent `Ikrimah b. Abi Jahl along with one or two of the Ghatafan to the Banu Nadir to tell them that the siege had prolonged, and therefore, they should force-cross the barrier and attack the Muslims next day. It was time to get out of the stalled situation. Banu Nadir replied that the next day was Saturday, a day in which it was unlawful for them to fight. “Moreover,” they said, “we shall fight only on the condition that you give us a few of your men as hostages.” That confirmed the pagan fears.
    A second factor that disheartened the invaders, in fact, which froze their aspirations, was that one of those nights the winds picked up speed and soon became a typhoon overturning their cooking pots, blowing off the badly needed fires to beat off the cold, and ripping apart their tents. (Their horses pushed against each other wildly, and angels chanted Allahu Akbar at the peripheries of the camps frightening the already frightened invaders: Qurtubi).
    According to other reports, writes Alusi, when they heard the chanting of Allahu Akbar, Tulayha b. Khuwaylid as-Asadi said, “Muhammad has now begun to cast magic. Escape. Escape.” Finally, Abu Sufyan decided he had had enough. He summoned the chiefs and told them of his decision. [“Break up the camp,” he said to them, “and march. As for myself, I am gone” – Muir in Majid], and leapt on his camel. Such was his haste that he forgot that the camel’s forelegs were tied. Allah said (33: 9),

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ جَاءتْكُمْ جُنُودٌ فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ رِيحًا وَجُنُودًا لَّمْ تَرَوْهَا وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرًا

    “O you who have believed! Remember Allah’s favor on you when the hosts came against you, and We let loosed against them a wind and hosts that you did not see. And Allah is ever seeing of what you do.”
    Thus the tribulation of the Muslims ended and they were spared the evil consequences of a battle. Allah said, commenting upon the events (33: 25),

    وَرَدَّ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِغَيْظِهِمْ لَمْ يَنَالُوا خَيْرًا وَكَفَى اللَّهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ الْقِتَالَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ قَوِيًّا عَزِيزًا

    “And Allah repelled the unbelievers in their rage, not having achieved anything worthwhile. And Allah proved enough for the believers in (their) battle, and Allah is Powerful, Mighty.”
    The peaceful end was in response to the Prophet’s supplications during the siege. He would to say,

    اللَّهُمَّ مُنْزِلَ الْكِتَابِ سَرِيعَ الْحِسَابِ اللَّهُمَّ اهْزِمْ الأَحْزَابَ اللَّهُمَّ اهْزِمْهُمْ وَزَلْزِلْهُمْ

    “O Allah, Sender of the Book, Quick at reckoning, O Allah, inflict defeat on to the confederates. O Allah, defeat them, and shake them” (Bukhari).
    The opposition to the Prophet remained thereafte, but the strength of opposition suffered a paralyzing stroke. The wish to uproot Islam remained, but the courage to take meaningful action, had waned to reduce them to helpless onlookers. And the Prophet remarked, “Here onward we shall march against them. They shall not come against us anymore.” Later events proved the veracity of these words.
    (Back at Madinah, they had not removed their arms but Jibril came down in Dihya Kalbi’s form to say to the Prophet, “Have you removed your arms? The angels have not. Allah orders you to proceed to Banu Qurayzah. We are going there ourselves”: Qurtubi).
    21. The winds resembling hurricane in their destruction, seemed to ferociously strike not only the pagans encamped a few hundred meters away, but also the Muslims - though less severely (Au).
    22. The allusion is to angels (Alusi). They drove fear into the hearts of the unbelievers, but did not take active part in the skirmishes (Au.).

    إِذْ جَاءُوكُمْ مِنْ فَوْقِكُمْ وَمِنْ أَسْفَلَ مِنْكُمْ وَإِذْ زَاغَتِ الْأَبْصَارُ وَبَلَغَتِ الْقُلُوبُ الْحَنَاجِرَ وَتَظُنُّونَ بِاللَّهِ الظُّنُونَا (10)

    33|10| When they came against you from above you and from below you;23 when the sights swerved,24 and hearts reached the throats,25 and you were conjecturing upon Allah various conjectures.26

    23. The allusion by those coming from above is to the Banu Quraizah, and by those from below is to the Quraysh and Ghatafan (Ibn Jarir). Zamakhshari however thought that by those coming from above the allusion was to the Ghatafan and by those coming from below it was to Quraysh and their allies.
    The forts of Banu Qurayzah were above, in the north of the city of Madinah, while the Quraysh had come from below, the south of the city. However, when the Muslims went out of the town to face the pagans and took positions with Sil` mountains behind them, Banu Qurayzah forts fell behind them and the Quraysh and Ghatafan were in front of them. Hence Hudhayfah b. al-Yaman referred to the Quraysh and Ghatafan as above the Muslims, and Banu Qurayzah as below them, when speaking of their respective positions during the siege (Au.).
    24. “Zagha” of the text is to be understood as “shakhasa” meaning, “fixed in horror” (Ibn Jarir).
    25. That is, the hearts began to beat thunderously out of fear, as if reaching up to the throats (Ibn Jarir). It is an accurate description. When the hearts beat hard in extreme fear, a person feels it beating against his throat (Au.).
    Musnad Ahmad and Ibn Abi Hatim’s collection have a report coming from Abu Sa`id who said that some Companions told the Prophet of their extreme fear. What would he suggest they should say? He told them to say the words:

    اللهم اسْتُر عَوراتَنا و آمِن رَوعاتَنا

    “O Allah, conceal our un-exposable parts, and calm down our fears” (Ibn Kathir).
    26. The allusion is to conjectures such as, ‘The Prophet will be overcome,’ or, ‘promises made to him were not true,’ etc. (Ibn Jarir).
    Hasan al-Busri said that there were various kinds of conjectures (some amounting to disbelief). For example, the hypocrites conjectured that the Prophet and his men will surely be routed. On the other hand, true believers were firm of faith that what Allah and His Messenger had promised would prove true (Kashshaf, Ibn Kathir). There were others who were somewhat weak in faith. They suffered several kinds of doubts, which passed through their minds, sort of unwillingly, and hence, their faith itself was not questionable, and whose uncontrollable doubts and fears did not – in the practical sense - contradict the verse that followed (33: 12),

    وَإِذْ يَقُولُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ مَّا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ إِلَّا غُرُورًا

    “When the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is sickness were saying, Allah and His Messenger did not promise us but deception.”

    هُنَالِكَ ابْتُلِيَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَزُلْزِلُوا زِلْزَالًا شَدِيدًا (11)

    33|11| There it was that the believers were tested and shaken (with) a severe shaking.27

    27. Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and others quote the following. (Ibrahim al-Taymi said: We were with Abu Hudhayfa when someone from Kufa asked, “O Abu `Abdullah. Did you see the Prophet? Were you his companion?” He said, “Yes, my cousin.” The young man asked, “How did you fare?” Hudhayfa said, “By Allah, we just tried our best.” Said the young man, “Had we met him, we would not have allowed him walk over the earth. We would have carried him on our shoulders.”
    The rest of the story is as found in Muslim:
    Ibrahim al-Taymi said: We were with Abu Hudayfah when a man said:

    عَنْ إبْرَاهِيمَ التّيْمِيّ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ قَالَ: كُنّا عِنْدَ حُذَيْفَةَ. فَقَالَ رَجُلٌ: لَوْ أَدْرَكْتُ رَسُولَ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَاتَلْتُ مَعَهُ وَأَبْلَيْتُ. فَقَالَ حُذَيْفَةُ: أَنْتَ كُنْتَ تَفْعَلُ ذَلِكَ؟ لَقَدْ رَأَيْتُنَا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم لَيْلَةَ الأَحْزَابِ، وَأَخَذَتْنَا رِيحٌ شَدِيدَةٌ وَقُرّ. فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "أَلاَ رَجُلٌ يَأْتِينِي بِخَبَرِ الْقَوْمِ، جَعَلَهُ اللّهُ مَعِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ؟" فَسَكَتْنَا. فَلَمْ يُجِبْهُ مِنّا أَحَدٌ. ثُمّ قَالَ: "أَلاَ رَجُلٌ يَأْتِينَا بِخَبَرِ الْقَوْمِ، جَعَلَهُ اللّهُ مَعِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ؟" فَسَكَتْنَا. فَلَمْ يُجِبْهُ مِنّا أَحَدٌ. ثُمّ قَالَ: "أَلاَ رَجُلٌ يَأْتِينَا بِخَبَرِ الْقَوْمِ، جَعَلَهُ اللّهُ مَعِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ؟" فَسَكَتْنَا، فَلَمْ يُجِبْهُ مِنّا أَحَدٌ. فَقَالَ: "قُمْ. يَا حُذَيْفَةُ! فَأْتِنَا بِخَبَرِ الْقَوْمِ" فَلَمْ أَجِدْ بُدّاً، إذْ دَعَانِي بِاسْمِي، أَنْ أَقُومَ. قَالَ: "اذْهَبْ. فَأْتِنِي بِخَبَرِ الْقَوْمِ، وَلاَ تَذْعَرْهُمْ عَلَيّ" فَلَمّا وَلّيْتُ مِنْ عِنْدِهِ جَعَلْتُ كَأَنّمَا أَمْشِي فِي حَمّامٍ، حَتّىَ أَتَيْتُهُمْ. فَرَأَيْتُ أَبَا سُفْيَانَ يَصْلِي ظَهْرَهُ بِالنّارِ، فَوَضَعْتُ سَهْماً فِي كَبِدِ الْقَوْسِ، فَأَرَدْتُ أَنْ أَرْمِيَهُ، فَذَكَرْتُ قَوْلَ رَسُولِ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "وَلاَ تَذْعَرْهُمْ عَلَيّ" وَلَوْ رَمَيْتُهُ لأَصَبْتُهُ. فَرَجَعْتُ وَأَنَا أَمْشِي فِي مِثْلِ الْحَمّامِ، فَلَمّا أَتَيْتُهُ فَأَخْبَرْتُهُ بِخَبَرِ الْقَوْمِ، وَفَرَغْتُ، قُرِرْتُ. فَأَلْبَسَنِي رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم مِنْ فَضْلِ عَبَاءَةٍ كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِ يُصَلّي فِيهَا، فَلَمْ أَزَلْ نَائِماً حَتّىَ أَصْبَحْتُ، فَلَمّا أَصْبَحْتُ قَالَ: "قُمْ. يَا نَوْمَانُ!".

    “Had I met the Prophet, I would have fought hard and destroyed myself (in the battle).” Hudhayfa said, “Would you have done that? But I could see myself (among some twelve Companions) one night during the battle of the Ditch when a severely cold wind seized us! The Prophet (prayed for a while. Then he: Ibn Is-haq) turned and said, “Will someone bring us the news of what the enemy is planning to do? Allah will place him in my company on the Day of Judgment.” But we remained silent, none of us responded. The Prophet (prayed for a little while more, then: Ibn Is-haq) turned and said, “Will someone bring us the news of what the enemy is planning to do? Allah will place him in my company on the Day of Judgment.” But we remained silent, none of us responded. (The Prophet once again prayed for a while, then: Ibn Is-haq) turned and said, “Will someone bring us the news of what the enemy is planning to do? Allah will place him along with me on the Day of Judgment.” But we remained silent, none of us responded. (At this time he added, “I ask Allah that he be with me in Paradise.” Yet no one responded because of fear, cold, and hunger: Ibn Is-haq). Finally he said, “Up, O Abu Hudhayfa, bring us the news of the people.” (According to another report: “I clung to the earth in fear that he would ask me to go.” He said, “Hudhayfa. Go into the people and find out what they are planning. But speak to no one until you have come back to me.”)
    So, there was no escape for me but to rise as he had named me. He said, ‘Go to them and gather intelligence but do not alarm them against me.’ So, I started off. And, in a moment I felt as if I was in a hot bathroom. I went in among them. I found Abu Sufyan warming up his back with the fire. I placed an arrow in my bow and was about to shoot when I remembered his words, “but do not alarm them against me.” Had I shot at him, surely, I would have killed him. So, I returned. And, it was as if I was walking in a hot bathroom. I gave him the news about the people. When I was finished he gave me a shroud upon which he used to offer his prayers. I slept until the morning when I heard him saying, ‘Rise, O sleeper.’”
    Ibn Is-haq has the following addition: “.. I entered into the camp while the winds, Allah’s forces, were battering them. There was nothing that it did not carry away in its run. Abu Sufyan stood up and said, ‘People. Let everyone look carefully at the man next to him.’ So I caught the man next to me and asked him, ‘Who are you?’ He replied, ‘So and so, son of so and so.’ Then Abu Sufyan began to speak. He said, ‘People. By God, you are not in a good situation. Provisions are lost and Banu Qurayzah have deceived us. We have received some news from them that does not please us. And now we are struck by these terrible winds. Let us decamp and go. I am leaving.’”
    Hakim and Bazzar have added to the above, “.. I went into them and found Abu Sufyan with a group of people around him. The other tribes had broken off. It was as if Abu Sufyan felt suspicious when I entered into the company; so he said, ‘Let each of you question the man next to him.’ So I caught the neighbors on my right and left by their hands. Then I stayed for a while and returned to the Prophet.. I told him, ‘Messenger of Allah. Several tribes have abandoned Abu Sufyan. He is left with a group of people warming themselves with the fire. Allah sent upon them the cold that He sent upon us. But we hope for rewards that they do not.’” According to a report in Hakim and Bayhaqi, as cited by Ibn Kathir, Hudhayfa met with some twenty turbaned riders while he was returning. They told him, “Give your companion (i.e. Muhammad) the good news that the confederates have broken up and are retreating.”

    وَإِذْ يَقُولُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ مَا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ إِلَّا غُرُورًا (12)

    33|12| When the hypocrites and those in whose hearts was a disease28 were saying, ‘Allah promised us not, nor His Messenger, but delusion.’29

    28. Apparently, the allusion is to those who were weak of faith, neither believers nor hypocrites. There have been other explanations (Alusi).
    29. The allusion is to a group of hypocrites. One of them, (Mut`ab b. Qushayr) spoke to an Ansari:

    قال ابن زيد، قال: قال رجل يوم الأحزاب لرجل من صحابة النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: يا فلان أرأيت إذ يقول رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "إذا هلك قيصر فلا قيصر بعده، وإذا هلك كسرى فلا كسرى بعده، والذي نفسي بيده لتنفقن كنوزهما في سبيل الله". فأين هذا من هذا، وأحدنا لا يستطيع أن يخرج يبول من الخوف؟ {ما عدنا الله ورسوله إلا غرورا}فقال له: كذبت، لأخبرن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم خبرك، قال: فأتى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، فأخبره، فدعاه فقال: "ما قلت؟" فقال: كذب علي يا رسول الله، ما قلت شيئا، ما خرج هذا من فمي قط!

    “Hey, so and so! Did the Messenger not say, ‘If the Qaysar (Roman Emperor) is destroyed there will be no Qaysar after him, and if Kisra (the Persian Emperor) is destroyed, there will be no Kisra after him?’ And, ‘By Him in whose hands is my life, you shall surely spend their treasures in Allah’s path?' But here we are, unable to leave the place to attend to a call of nature – out of fear. Indeed, Allah and His Messenger did not promise us but a delusion.” The Ansari told him, “You have lied, and I shall surely report this to the Prophet.” But when Mut`abb was asked by the Prophet to explain his statement, he said, “He is fastening a lie on me O Messenger of Allah, I did not say any such thing. This did not come out of my mouth.
    So Allah revealed (9: 74),

    يَحْلِفُونَ بِاللّهِ مَا قَالُواْ وَلَقَدْ قَالُواْ كَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ وَكَفَرُواْ بَعْدَ إِسْلاَمِهِمْ وَهَمُّواْ بِمَا لَمْ يَنَالُواْ وَمَا نَقَمُواْ إِلاَّ أَنْ أَغْنَاهُمُ اللّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ فَإِن يَتُوبُواْ يَكُ خَيْرًا لَّهُمْ وَإِن يَتَوَلَّوْا يُعَذِّبْهُمُ اللّهُ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ وَمَا لَهُمْ فِي الأَرْضِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلاَ نَصِيرٍ (التوبة – 74)

    “They swear by Allah that they said no (such thing). But, in actual fact, they did say the word of unbelief, disavowed after their surrender (to Islam), and strived to achieve what they did not attain. And they were not resentful but (for the fact) that Allah had enriched them by His Grace, and (so had) His Messenger. Yet, if they repent, it will be better for them. But if they turn away (in refusal), Allah will chastise them with a painful chastisement in this world and in the next. And they shall not have in the land a protector or a helper.”
    Allah also said (9: 66),

    إِن نَّعْفُ عَن طَآئِفَةٍ مِّنكُمْ نُعَذِّبْ طَآئِفَةً بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُواْ مُجْرِمِينَ

    “If We forgive a party of you, We shall torment a party because they were criminals.”
    It is also reported that at the start of the digging the Companions disputed over Salman al-Farsi, saying, “Salman is of us.” The Prophet said, “But rather, Salman is of us: people of the house (of the Prophet).” `Amr b. `Awf said, “Salman was in our group: myself, he, Hudhayfah b. al-Yaman, Nu`man b. Muqarrin al-Muzani, and six others from the Ansar constituted our group. We were given forty feet. But when we reached Al-Sara’ during our digging we encountered a roundish rock that could not be budged. So We asked Salman to climb out to the Prophet to say, ‘Our iron has blunted, but we cannot break the rock. So what do you advice?’ The Prophet jumped into the trench, took the ax and struck it. It yielded a flash of light that lightened the two lavas of Madinah. He said Allahu Akbar and the Muslims repeated after him. Then he struck a second time and it yielded a flash of light that lightened the two lavas of Madinah. He said Allahu Akbar and the Muslims repeated after him. Then he gave it a third strike and it broke. It yielded a light which lightened the two lavas of Madinah. He said Allahu Akbar and the Muslims repeated after him. Then he explained. He said, ‘When I struck the first time, the palaces of Hira and Kisra’s cities appeared to me in its light, like dogs’ teeth. Then Jibril told me that my followers will overcome them. When I struck the second time, the red palaces of the Roman lands appeared to me, like dogs’ teeth. Jibril told me that my followers will overcome them. Then when I struck the third time, the palaces of San`a appeared to me and Jibril told me that my followers will overcome them. So, give glad tidings.’ The believers said, ‘This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised.’ But the hypocrites said, ‘Can you see. He promises palaces of Kisra, of the Romans and of San`a, but in actual fact here you are digging a trench and cannot dare to climb out to attend to nature’s call.’ And Allah revealed (33: 12),

    وَإِذْ يَقُولُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ مَّا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ إِلَّا غُرُورًا

    “When the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts was a disease, were saying, they promised us not but falsehood’” (Ibn Jarir).

    وَإِذْ قَالَتْ طَائِفَةٌ مِنْهُمْ يَا أَهْلَ يَثْرِبَ لَا مُقَامَ لَكُمْ فَارْجِعُوا ۚ وَيَسْتَأْذِنُ فَرِيقٌ مِنْهُمُ النَّبِيَّ يَقُولُونَ إِنَّ بُيُوتَنَا عَوْرَةٌ وَمَا هِيَ بِعَوْرَةٍ ۖ إِنْ يُرِيدُونَ إِلَّا فِرَارًا (13)

    33|13| When a group of them said,30 ‘O inhabitants of Yethrib,31 you have no standing.32 Therefore, return.’ And a section of them was seeking leave of the Prophet,33 saying, ‘Verily, our houses are exposed;’ though they were not exposed.34 They were intending nothing but flight.

    30. Ibn Is-haq thought that the allusion was to Aws b. Qayzi and his followers (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf, Ibn Kathir).
    31. Yethrib was the name of a tract of land over a part of which the Prophet’s city lay (Ibn Jarir, Zamakhshari, Qurtubi).
    It is significant that the hypocrites preferred to use the older name Yethrib rather than the name then current: Madinah (Au.).
    32. That is, this is not the place you should be in (Ibn Jarir). Zamakhshari expresses the possibility that they meant to say that they would have no standing in Yethrib unless they adopted paganism and surrendered the Prophet to the confederates.
    Another possible meaning is, “You have no standing with the Prophet” (Ibn Kathir).
    33. Those were Banu Haritha (Ibn Jarir).
    34. It is said that the Prophet actually sent a team to determine whether such a threat existed. But they found no sign of the enemy, and Allah revealed this verse (Ibn Jarir).
    35. The textual fitnah is interpreted by Qatadah and Ibn Zayd as kufr. That is, if these hypocrites are invited to kufr, they would enter into it without any hesitation (Ibn Jarir).

    وَلَوْ دُخِلَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ مِنْ أَقْطَارِهَا ثُمَّ سُئِلُوا الْفِتْنَةَ لَآتَوْهَا وَمَا تَلَبَّثُوا بِهَا إِلَّا يَسِيرًا (14)

    33|14| But if an entry had been effected to them from its environs,35 and sedition sought, they would have certainly responded to it,36 and would not have tarried therein but briefly.

    36. Qurtubi mentions that Hasan, Suddi and Qutaybi thought the meaning is that if they had reneged, they would not have remained in Madinah long. (The Muslims would have finished them off).
    Dahhak’s opinion was that the textual fitnah is for a call to sedition (against the Muslims: Au.) to which the hypocrites would have immediately responded (Alusi).

    وَلَقَدْ كَانُوا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ مِنْ قَبْلُ لَا يُوَلُّونَ الْأَدْبَارَ ۚ وَكَانَ عَهْدُ اللَّهِ مَسْئُولًا (15)

    33|15| Although they had covenanted with Allah earlier (that) they would not turn their backs;37 and surely, Allah’s covenant is to be answered for.

    37. Qatadah said that there were some people who had not participated in the battle of Badr. They had promised themselves that when next occasion arose, they would offer themselves to Allah’s service (Ibn Jarir). But Ibn Is-haq’s opinion was that the reference was to those who had promised after Uhud that they would never show their backs during a battle (Zamakhshari).

    قُلْ لَنْ يَنْفَعَكُمُ الْفِرَارُ إِنْ فَرَرْتُمْ مِنَ الْمَوْتِ أَوِ الْقَتْلِ وَإِذًا لَا تُمَتَّعُونَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا (16)

    33|16| Say, ‘Fleeing will not profit you, if you fled from death or slaying; and, in that case (of flight) too, you will not be allowed to enjoy but a little.’38

    38. At best they would then enjoy this life (Ibn Khaytham), but the whole of the life of this world is “but little” (Qatadah) - Ibn Jarir.

    قُلْ مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَعْصِمُكُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ إِنْ أَرَادَ بِكُمْ سُوءًا أَوْ أَرَادَ بِكُمْ رَحْمَةً ۚ وَلَا يَجِدُونَ لَهُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَلِيًّا وَلَا نَصِيرًا (17)

    33|17| Say, ‘Who it is that can protect you from Allah, if He intended an evil for you, or intended mercy for you?’ Indeed, they will not find for themselves a patron or helper besides Allah.

    قَدْ يَعْلَمُ اللَّهُ الْمُعَوِّقِينَ مِنْكُمْ وَالْقَائِلِينَ لِإِخْوَانِهِمْ هَلُمَّ إِلَيْنَا ۖ وَلَا يَأْتُونَ الْبَأْسَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا (18)

    33|18| Allah surely knows the hindering ones among you and those who said to their brethren, ‘Come hither to us;’39 while they (themselves) come not to the battle but a little.

    39. That is, they beckoned Muslims to join them in the shades to partake fruits and dainties, instead of joining the Prophet in the campaign (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).

    أَشِحَّةً عَلَيْكُمْ ۖ فَإِذَا جَاءَ الْخَوْفُ رَأَيْتَهُمْ يَنْظُرُونَ إِلَيْكَ تَدُورُ أَعْيُنُهُمْ كَالَّذِي يُغْشَىٰ عَلَيْهِ مِنَ الْمَوْتِ ۖ فَإِذَا ذَهَبَ الْخَوْفُ سَلَقُوكُمْ بِأَلْسِنَةٍ حِدَادٍ أَشِحَّةً عَلَى الْخَيْرِ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ لَمْ يُؤْمِنُوا فَأَحْبَطَ اللَّهُ أَعْمَالَهُمْ ۚ وَكَانَ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرًا (19)

    33|19| Being niggardly towards you.40 Then, when fear strikes,41 you see them looking at you, their eyes rolling like one who swoons of death. But when fear subsides, they assail you with sharp tongues,42 covetous of the good (things).43 They had never believed, so Allah quashed their deeds; and that was ever easy for Allah.44

    40. That is, they wish to see no good happening to the Muslims (Mujahid – Ibn Jarir); although a general meaning of the hypocrites not wishing to spend anything in Jihad affairs, is also possible. Another possible implication is that they do not wish to spare any physical exertion for Islamic causes. It might also be noted in this context that misrliness (shuhh=bukhl) is an outgrowth of cowardice. Hence, in this ayah, Allah first mentioned cowardice and then miserliness (Razi in effect).
    What the hypocrites meant by beckoning the Muslims to themselves is to give them the message that the Prophet, and the Companions he could count upon, were so few that they would be done away with by the onrushing pagans, after which things will be back to normal as they were in pre-Prophet times. One of the sentences they used with reference to the Prophet and his followers was “aklatu al-ra’s” meaning, lit. “equivalent of a head;” implying, it might be a bit hard to break the whole-roasted beast’s head at the dinner table, but ultimately it can be finished off (Au.).
    Another possibility is that, states Qurtubi, the allusion is to Banu Qurayzah who invited the hypocrites to join them (Qurtubi).
    41. Majid points out that the textual “khawf” as used here carries the double meaning of fear as well as “fighting and slaughter.”
    42. Demanding their share of the booty: Qatadah. But Ibn `Abbas thought the allusion is to their loosening of the tongue against the Muslims (Ibn Jarir). Another possible connotation of “sa-laqukum” is that they will press hard on you for the booty with their tongues, pleading. Nuhhas thought this meaning was more appropriate in view of the words that follow concerning booty (Qurtubi).
    43. The allusion by “good” is to booty (Ibn Jarir).
    44. That is, since the weight of deeds depends on motives, it might sound difficult to judge the motives and quash the deeds. But, discovering the motives is easy for Allah (Au., with a point from Yusuf Ali).
    If it is asked, writes Zamakhshari in effect, are the deeds of a hypocrite registered as worthy that they could be quashed? It can be answered that the Qur’anic statement here is meant to dispel the belief that the words of faith on the tongue are equivalent of belief in the heart. Besides, the statement also helps to warn others that the true foundation is faith in the heart; and that plenty of (apparent good) deeds without faith are like a building without a foundation which Allah will render so weightless that they will float in the air like dust particles.

    يَحْسَبُونَ الْأَحْزَابَ لَمْ يَذْهَبُوا ۖ وَإِنْ يَأْتِ الْأَحْزَابُ يَوَدُّوا لَوْ أَنَّهُمْ بَادُونَ فِي الْأَعْرَابِ يَسْأَلُونَ عَنْ أَنْبَائِكُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كَانُوا فِيكُمْ مَا قَاتَلُوا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا (20)

    33|20| They think the confederates have not left,45 and if the confederates should return, they would wish they were in the desert among the Bedouins seeking news about you.46 And, if they were in your midst,47 they would never fight but a little.48

    45. That is, pagan and Jewish forces have not withdrawn completely: Mujahid, (but might reappear and launch attack: Au.) – Ibn Jarir; their fear was so high that although the pagans had withdrawn, they could not believe they had left (Qurtubi).
    46. Hoping to hear that the Prophet and his Companions were exterminated (Ibn Jarir).
    47. That is, during a second encounter with the presumed return of the confederates (Alusi).
    48. That is, if they fought, they would have fought loosely, half-heartedly, because they lack faith in Allah and have no desire for rewards, which prompt a man to fight hard (Ibn Jarir)
    Yusuf Ali summarizes the attitude of the hypocrites: “This completes the picture of the psychology of the Hypocrites, begun at verse 12. Let us analyse it. (1) When they first saw the enemy they were already in a defeatist mood, and thought all was over (verse 12). (2) Not content with disloyalty themselves, they tried to infect others, who made paltry excuses to withdraw from the fight (verse 13). (3) They were ready to betray the City to the enemy if once the enemy had gained entrance (verse 14). (4) They forgot all the promises of fidelity which they had previously sworn (verse 15). (5) In their paltry calculations they forgot that cowardice in war does not pay (verses 16-17). (6) Without taking much part in the actual defence, they were ready to talk glibly and claim a lion’s share in the fruits of the victory (verses 18-19). (7) Even when the enemy had withdrawn, their cowardly minds were still afraid that the enemy would return, and were already meditating what they would do in that case: perhaps they would dwell in the deserts and spy on Madinah from a safe distance; and if caught in Madinah they would fight little and intrigue much.
    “It was a miracle that with such men in their midst, the holy Prophet and his band won through.”

    لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا (21)

    33|21| There surely was for you in the Messenger of Allah, an excellent model – for him who hopes for Allah and the last day, and remembered Allah much.49

    49. Was there not a good example in the Prophet who bore the tribulation through and through with exemplary patience, hard work, and trust in Allah? He placed himself not on par with the rest but above others in endurance, tying not one stone to his stomach as others, but two. Such example, however, is meaningful only to those who, like him, have unflinching faith in the bounties of the Hereafter and who remember Allah much, which in turn is a sure method of renewal of faith (Au.).
    Mawdudi points out that apart from patiently enduring along with others, the Prophet did not even place guards for the protection of his family in Madinah after the Jews had betrayed and whose attack was imminent.
    There has been difference in opinion over whether following the Prophetic example is wajib or merely desirable. Perhaps the best answer is that it is wajib in religious affairs, but commendable in worldly affairs (Qurtubi).

    وَلَمَّا رَأَى الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْأَحْزَابَ قَالُوا هَٰذَا مَا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَصَدَقَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ ۚ وَمَا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّا إِيمَانًا وَتَسْلِيمًا (22)

    33|22| And when the believers saw the confederates, they said, ‘This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us; and Allah and His Messenger had spoken the truth.’50 It increased them not but in faith and surrender.51

    50. “That is,” Ibn `Abbas and Qatadah explained, “when the believers saw the pan-Arab forces before them, they interpreted it as fulfillment of an earlier promise.” It had previously been revealed (2: 214),

    أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُواْ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْاْ مِن قَبْلِكُم مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاء وَالضَّرَّاء وَزُلْزِلُواْ حَتَّى يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَعَهُ مَتَى نَصْرُ اللّهِ أَلا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللّهِ قَرِيبٌ

    “Or do you reckon that you will enter Paradise, while (trials) similar to those (that visited others) before you, have not yet come to you? Suffering and adversity touched them, and they were shaken until the Messengers and those who had believed in them cried out: ‘When (will come) Allah’s help?’ Lo! Allah’s help is close” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    51. After the Prophet, this was the example set by his close associates, worth emulation by the rest of the Ummah (Au.).

    مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ ۖ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ قَضَىٰ نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَنْتَظِرُ ۖ وَمَا بَدَّلُوا تَبْدِيلًا (23)

    33|23| Among the believers are men who remained true to what they promised Allah. So, of them are some who fulfilled his promise,52 while of them is one who awaits; they have not changed in the least.

    52. The translation of “nahb” follows Mujahid’s understanding. (Bukhari has the same understanding: Ibn Kathir).
    Some others have thought that the meaning of “qada nahbahu” means he remained true to his faith and commitment to it until his death. (This is from Arabic usage: Qurtubi). In this connection the following is reported (in Tirmidhi, [who declared it Hasan], Ibn Jarir, and Tabarani: Alusi):

    عَنْ مُوسَى وعِيسَى ابْنَيْ طَلْحَةَ عَنْ أبيهِمَا طَلْحَةَ: "أنّ أَصْحَابَ رَسُولِ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالُوا لأعْرَابيّ جَاهِلٍ سَلْهُ عَنْ مَنْ قَضَى نَحْبَهُ مَنْ هُوَ؟ وكانُوا لاَ يَجْتَرِئونَ عَلَى مَسْأَلَتِهِ يُوَقّرُونَهُ وَيَهابُونَهُ، فَسَأَلَهُ الأَعْرَابيّ فَأَعْرَضَ عَنْهُ، ثمّ سَأَلَهُ فَأَعْرَضَ عَنْهُ ثُمّ سَأَلَهُ فأَعْرَضَ عَنْهُ، ثُمّ إِنّي اطّلَعْتُ مِنْ بَابِ المَسْجِدِ وَعَلَيّ ثِيَابٌ خُضْرٌ فَلَمّا رَآنِي النبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: أَيْنَ السّائِلُ عَمّنْ قَضَى نَحْبَهُ؟ قَالَ الأَعْرَابيّ أَنا يَا رَسُولَ الله، فَقَالَ رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم هَذَا مِمّنْ قَضَى نَحْبَهُ". (قال أبو عيسى: هَذا حديثٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ)

    On the authority of Talha the Companions of the Prophet urged an ignorant Bedouin to, “ask him about who is meant by ‘qada nahbahu.’” They themselves did not have the courage to ask because of their awe of him and reverence. So, the Bedouin raised the question with the Prophet. But he did not pay attention to him. So he repeated his question, but he did not pay any attention to him. At that moment I happened to enter into the mosque. I had two green cloaks on me. When he saw me, he asked, “Where is the inquirer about ‘qada nahbahu.’” The Bedouin said, “Here I am O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet said, “This is one of those who kept their promise.” (Reports close in meaning can be cited from Ibn `Asakir and Hakim: Alusi. It was declared trustworthy by Albani: Syed Ibrahim in f.n. of Shawkani). But of course, writes Qurtubi, the application is general: it was applicable to Talha, Sa`d b. Mu`adh, Anas b. Nadr, and many others.
    Hakim has another report, declared Sahih by him, while Dhahabi nodded yes to another of similar nature. It says:

    عن أبي هريرة - رضي الله تعالى عنه-: أن رسول الله - صلى الله عليه وسلم - حين انصرف من أحد مر على مصعب بن عمير، وهو مقتول على طريقه، فوقف عليه رسول الله - صلى الله عليه وسلم - ودعا له، ثم قرأ هذه الآية ثم قال رسول الله - صلى الله عليه وسلم -: (أشهد أن هؤلاء شهداء عند الله يوم القيامة، فأتوهم، وزوروهم، والذي نفسي بيده لا يسلم عليهم أحد إلى يوم القيامة إلا ردوا عليه (هذا حديث صحيح على شرط الشيخين، ولم يخرجاه: الحاكم).‏

    As the Prophet was leaving Uhud, he passed by the corpse of Mus`ab b. `Umayr who lay dead. The Prophet stopped there, supplicated for him and recited, this verse (Among the believers are men who remained true to what they promised Allah. They did not change at all). Then he added, “I bear witness that these are martyrs in the sight of Allah. So, go to them and visit them. By Him in whose hand is my life, no one will say salam to them – until the Day of Judgment – but they will return him (the greeting)” – Shawkani.
    Since Uhud took place earlier than the battle of Khandaq, one might explain that possibly the verse in question was revealed earlier, or, the Prophet preceded the usage and Allah used them for His revelation (Au.).
    It is also reported by Anas that Anas b. Nadr was absent from Badr. He said, “I was absent from the first battle the Prophet fought. If there happens to be a second fight, Allah will see what I will do.” When Muslims suffered setback at Uhud he met Sa`d b. Mu`adh (in the battlefield) and said, “By Allah. I can smell the fragrance of Paradise from beyond Uhud.” Then he went in and fought until he was martyred and Allah revealed this verse, “Among the believers are men who remained true to what they promised Allah. So, of them are some who fulfilled his promise, while of them is one who awaits...” His body was found with so many wounds that he could not be identified except by his finger tips, which is ow his sister recognized him (Ibn Jarir).
    This report is in Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i and others (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Jarir also reports that once Mu`awiyyah b. Abi Sufyan delivered a sermon saying, “I have heard the Prophet that Zubayr b. al-`Awwam is one of those who kept their promise (qada nahbah).” Similar reports are in Tirmidhi, Ibn `Asakir and Hakim (Alusi). Albani declared it trustworthy (S. Ibrahim in f.n. to Shawkani).
    The report by Mu`awiyyah b. Abi Sufyan gains internal testimony from the fact that Zubayr b. al-`Awwam had fought against him siding with `Ali and was killed in the battle (Au.).
    Bukhari has a report on the authority of Kharijah b. Zayd who said, “When we began to write down the Qur’an (at `Umar’s instance: Au.), I missed a verse that I used to hear the Prophet recite but nobody seemed to know anymore except Khuzaymah b. Thabit al-Ansari, whose testimony the Prophet had declared as equivalent of two. The verse concerned was this one, ‘Among the believers are men who remained true to what they promised Allah. So, of them are some who fulfilled his promise, while of them is one who awaits; they have not changed in the least.’” The report is also in Tirmidhi who rated it Sahih (Ibn Kathir).

    لِيَجْزِيَ اللَّهُ الصَّادِقِينَ بِصِدْقِهِمْ وَيُعَذِّبَ الْمُنَافِقِينَ إِنْ شَاءَ أَوْ يَتُوبَ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا (24)

    33|24| (Such trials are imposed) so that Allah may reward the truthful for their truthfulness53 and torment the hypocrites if He will, or turn to them (in mercy).54 Verily, Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.

    53. Trial of the faithful is the natural corollary of faith. As soon as someone says or believes he is faithful, he puts himself on the anvil: is he true in his claim? Trials, hidden behind every ease and adversity, follow him to the grave. Every success leads to higher level of faith, higher status in the sight of Allah, and yet heavier dosage of trials follow; and every failure bodes the fall, gradual, but certain. Such of them are given a few other chances, and, refusing to go up, suffer decline, ultimately reaching a point where one more step could turn them apostates. Some choose to effortlessly slide into hypocrisy (Au.).
    54. “Or turn to them (in mercy),” i.e. cure them of their hypocrisy: Qatadah (Ibn Jarir).

    وَرَدَّ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِغَيْظِهِمْ لَمْ يَنَالُوا خَيْرًا ۚ وَكَفَى اللَّهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ الْقِتَالَ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ قَوِيًّا عَزِيزًا (25)

    33|25| And Allah turned back the unbelievers in their fury,55 no advantage did they gain. And sufficient was Allah for the believers in the battle.56 And Allah was ever Powerful, Mighty.

    55. Abu Sufyan went back to Tihama, `Uyayna b. Badr to Najd and the Banu Qurayza withdrew to their forts (Imam Razi, Qurtubi).
    56. Ibn Is-haq reported that after the pagans had withdrawn the Prophet (saws) remarked, “No more will the Quraysh attack us hereafter, but rather, we shall attack them.” The report is also in the Sahihayn. This came true. After the battle of the Ditch, pagans did not attack the Muslims ever. It were the Muslims who attacked them. Further, the Prophetic statement seemed to corroborate the Qur’an which said, as here in this verse, “And sufficient was Allah for the believers in the battle,” which implied that ‘they will not attack you anymore.’ Hence too the Prophet used to say:

    لا إله إلا الله وحدَه، أعَزَّ جُندَه، ونَصرَ عَبدَه، وغَلَب الأحْزابَ وحدَه، فلا شيءٌ بعدَه

    “There is no deity save Allah the One; He kept His promise; helped His slave, honored His forces, defeated the confederates all by Himself, so there is nothing after Him.” (Ibn Kathir).

    وَأَنْزَلَ الَّذِينَ ظَاهَرُوهُمْ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ مِنْ صَيَاصِيهِمْ وَقَذَفَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمُ الرُّعْبَ فَرِيقًا تَقْتُلُونَ وَتَأْسِرُونَ فَرِيقًا (26)

    33|26| He brought down those of the People of the Book who backed them (the pagans) from their fortresses and cast terror in their hearts: a party you were slaying, and a party taking captives.57

    57. The allusion is to Banu Qurayzah, one of the three major Jewish tribes inhabiting in the vicinity of Madinah in well built forts of theirs. They were Jews of Arab descent whose forefathers had chosen to live in Arabia following banishment from Palestine at the hands of the Christians, and following the predictions that the final Prophet was to appear in Arabia. Sayyid Qutb gives us a short account of the other two tribes Banu Qaynuqa and Banu Nadir (there being a few other Jewish dwellings in and around Madinah: Au.): Banu Qaynuqa were the most courageous of the three. They immensely disapproved of Muslim win at Badr. The Prophet assembled them in their own bazars and said, “O Jewish people. Beware of Allah and believe in Him for you have known that I am the ‘sent one.’ You find this written in your books.” They replied, “Muhammad! It looks like you consider us as your people. (We are not. We are a different nation: Au.). In any case, do not be misled by the fact that you battled a people who did not know how to fight. If you were to try us, you will discover that we are men.”
    (This is how they answered – despite their peace treaty with the Prophet: Au.). When a veiled Muslim woman visited their jewelry market they persistently asked her to unveil. She refused. As she sat in a shop they tied her long skirt to a peg. When she rose up to go, her legs were exposed. They laughed. She cried for help. A passing Muslim responded and killed the Jew. Other Jews killed him. A few other Muslims jumped into the fray, but were restrained.
    Following the incident, the Prophet laid siege to their forts. `Abdullah b. Ubayy b. Sallul came to their aid. He asked the Prophet to treat his allies lightly. The Prophet ignored him. But he thrust his hand into his coat of mail and repeated his plea. The Prophet said, “Release me.” Anger rose on his face. He repeated, “Woe unto you man, release me.” But `Abdullah b. Ubayy said, “No by God. They have been on my side through thick and thin. I cannot abandon them. Are you going to cut them down in one stroke? I fear bad times for myself.” So the Prophet said, “You can have them.” The condition he placed was that they leave the town with everything that they liked to carry, but not arms.” (They left Madinah with great pomp and show and went away to Khayber).
    As for Banu Nadir, continues Sayyid, (who also enjoyed peace treaty with the Prophet, they were no less mischievous). In the fourth year after hijrah the Prophet visited them to settle a deal involving blood wit of two men which the Jews were supposed to share according to the treaty with them. Waiting for them, the Prophet sat under a wall. They jumped at the chance and asked one of their men to climb the roof and slide down a rock (or millstone) on him. The Prophet received warning revelation and quickly moved off. He announced war against them and they shut themselves up in their forts. `Abdullah ibn Abi Sallul sent them the word, “Do not surrender. We are with you. If you are fought, we will fight alongside. If you are exiled, we shall follow you.” But promises were not translated into words. So they lost heart and applied for peace. They bought their lives by agreeing to leave with all they could, but, once again, not arms. Some went to Syria, while others to Khayber. Their chiefs Sallam b. Abi al-Huqayq, Kinanah b. al-Rabi`, Huyayy b. Akhtab and others settled at Khayber. They were the ones who brought the combined pagan armies against the Prophet resulting in the siege of Khandaq.

    وَأَوْرَثَكُمْ أَرْضَهُمْ وَدِيَارَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُمْ وَأَرْضًا لَمْ تَطَئُوهَا ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرًا (27)

    33|27| And He bequeathed upon you their lands, homes and wealth;58 and a land that you have not treaded.59 And Allah ever had power over all things.

    58. It is reported of the Prophet that he was washing his head in the house of Zaynab bint Jahsh. He was only partly through, when Jibril came down and said, “May Allah forgive you. Angels have not removed their arms since forty days.” According to other reports Jibril said, “Proceed to Banu Qurayzah, we are going there.” So the Prophet put on his armor and started off (having appointed `Abdullah ibn Maktum (the blind) as his deputy at Madinah in his absence, handing over the flag to `Ali ibn Abi Talib: Ibn Kathir). He announced, “Let the men start off for Banu Qurayzah, and let them not do their `Asr Prayer except at the Banu Qurayzah fortress.” (Their fort was a few miles outside Madinah: Sayyid). Some people joined him on the way. (Some of them offered their `Asr Prayer on the way, others did not. Those who did said, “The Prophet had only meant that we hasten to the fort. [He did not literally mean that `Asr Prayer should be offered at their fort alone]. But others refused, Praying only at the fort. The Prophet did not criticize either of the two parties: Ibn Kathir). He himself marched through the dwellings of Banu Ghanam with his eyebrows covered with dust. On the way he passed by the dwellings of Al-Surayn. He asked them, “Has anyone passed by?” They said, “Yes, Dihya Kalbi on a white mule.” The Prophet said, “That was Jibra’il. He has been sent to shake the Banu Qurazyah fortress and drive fear into their hearts.”
    Some men joined him after `Isha Prayers, having started off before `Asr. (He had sent `Ali earlier who, when the Prophet arrived at the fort, told him not to go nearer because he had heard the Jews say words that he would not like to hear. He replied that they will say no such thing if they saw him – Alusi).
    In any case, having arrived there, the Prophet laid siege to their fortress and when they appeared on its wall, he called out, “O Banu Qurayzah, brothers of the monkeys.” They replied, “You were never indecent.” According to other reports the Prophet used the harsh language when `Ali complained to him that they had used such foul language for him, i.e. the Prophet, that he did not dare repeat before him.
    The siege lasted a few days more than twenty, after which they sued for peace. Huyayy b. Akhtab had kept his promise he made to Ka`b b. Asad, and had entered their fort when the pagans lifted siege. When it was realized that the Prophet was not going to spare them, Ka`b addressed his people, “You are aware of what has befallen us. I present you three options. First, declare your faith in Muhammad, for, by God you know that he is the sent one that your books speak of.” They said, “We shall not exchange the Torah for any other.” He said, “Then kill your women and children and go down to fight. Without them you will have no hindering thought during the fight. If we are victorious, we shall take other women and have children.” They said, “Kill these innocent ones? What kind of life will it be after them?” He said, “OK then. This night is going to be Saturday night. Most probably Muhammad and his men will be inattentive to us. So, let us go down and attack.” They said, “We shall never break the Sabbath. And you know what happened to those before us who dishonored it.” He remarked (in frustration), “From the day of your birth, not a single man of you ever passed a night resolved to do what he knows ought to be done.”
    As the siege prolonged, they lost heart and sent word to the Prophet that they wished to discuss matters with Abu Lubabah. He had been their ally. When he went in, weeping women and children surrounded him. He was moved by the sight so that when they asked him what would happen to them if they decided to go down on condition that Muhammad decided their fate, Abu Lubabah signaled with his hand across the throat to indicate they faced slaughter. “By Allah,” said Abu Lubabah afterward, “I had not shuffled my feet before I realized that I had betrayed the Prophet.” (He was so ashamed that) he went to the mosque and tied himself to a post vowing that he would never untie himself until Allah had pardoned him. When the Prophet learnt of his vow he remarked, “Had he come to me I would have forgiven him. But now it is for Allah to decide his fate.”
    During the discussions `Amr b. Sa`di escaped the fort, and as he was heading somewhere, he was spotted by a Muslim, who knew him and so let him go. He went to the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah and spent the night there. However next day he disappeared, and, “to this day no one knows what happened to him.” When the Prophet was informed, he remarked, “That was a man whom Allah rescued because he was true to his word.” Some other reports say he had remained in the fort, bound and brought down but later his rope was found loose, and the man gone. Where did he go? No one ever came to know.
    At last, after twenty-five days of siege, Banu Qurayzah finally decided to give up. The Aws expressed the hope that the Prophet would treat them as he had treated Banu Qaynuqa’ earlier. They were only expelled (and none killed) when `Abdullah b. Ubayy b. Sallul had pleaded for them. They were allies of Khazraj. (However, they decided to come down on condition that the Prophet should not judge them: Zamakhshari). So the Prophet asked (their delegation), “Would you like to be judged by one of your own men?” That is, one of the Aws? They agreed. He named Sa`d b. Mu`adh. After he was struck in the battle, the Prophet had instructed that he be placed in Rufayda’s tent. She had pitched a tent in the mosque’s yard and was treating the wounded in hope of rewards. The Prophet used to visit him.
    The story of Sa`d b. Mu`adh has been narrated in detail by `A’isha. She said, as in a report preserved in Ahmad, “The day of the (march) of the Ditch I went out following them when I heard earth’s tremor behind me. It was Sa`d along with his nephew Harith b. Aws carrying a shield. I sat down on the ground. As Sa`d passed by I noticed that the shield he wore was too small for him. I feared for Sa`d’s sides (for the inadequacy of his armor). Sa`d was the most massive of men. Then I got up and slipped into an orchard. I found a group of people there. `Umar was one of them, as also a man with a helmet on. `Umar said to me, ‘What has brought you here? By Allah, you are a courageous woman. What assures you peace from a tribulation of an unpleasant nature?’ He kept reproaching me until I wished the earth would swallow me. Then the man in the helmet removed it from his head. It was Talha b. `Ubaydullah. He said, ‘`Umar! Today you have crossed the limits. Where is the escape from Allah’s decree?’
    “Now, Sa`d was struck with an arrow by a man of the Quraysh called Ibn `Araqah. He had said, ‘Take it from me. I am Ibn al-`Araqah.’ It struck Sa`d at the median vein and cut it open. Sa`d said, “O Allah. If You have left any of the Quraysh raid [on Muslims] yet to take place then let me live. But if You have decided to prevent any war between them and us, then open it up, (that is, his wound). And, do not deal me death until my eyes have found their cool against Banu Qurayzah.” This was because he was allied to them during the pagan years. (So he had expected them to stand by him during the siege). When he said those words, his wound ceased bleeding (Ibn Kathir).
    So (when the Jews accepted him as the judge) he was brought down (to the foot of the fortress: Au.) on a donkey. As he got closer, they began to plead, “Sa`d! The Prophet has made you the arbiter for no other reason except that you should deal kindly with them.” When they pressed on him several times he said, “A day has come for Sa`d when he will not care for anyone’s censure in Allah’s cause.” When he arrived the Prophet said, “Rise up for your leader.” Everyone stood up. When he was seated, (the Prophet said, “These people [pointing to the Jews] have come down [the fort] accepting you as the arbiter”: Ibn Kathir).
    Sa`d asked the people, “I am to understand that my judgment is acceptable to you.” They said, “Yes.” Then Sa`d asked looking in the direction where the Prophet was seated, “Is that incumbent on the one who is there?” He did not wish to name him out of respect. (He did not even turn towards where the Prophet was – out of respect: Ibn Kathir). In any case, the Prophet said, “Yes.” Sa`d ruled that their males be put to the sword, women and children enslaved and their wealth and property distributed. The Prophet remarked, “Allahu Akbar. He has judged by Allah’s judgment.” (This is a proof of the Prophet’s authenticity. If he had been a false Prophet, he would have opted to say that it were the Jews who had chosen Sa`d as the arbiter; thus placing the responsibility of the slaughter on him and them: Au.). The judgment was carried out, their men were killed, women and children enslaved and their lands were distributed among the Muhajirun who had been landless until then.
    (Boys were checked for puberty. If they had grown pubic hair they were treated as adults, otherwise enslaved. One of those who escaped death was `Atiyyah al-Qurazi. His case was doubtful. So they checked for the growth. It was not found and he was enslaved. The report is in several works which Tirmidhi treated as Hasan Sahih: Ibn Kathir).
    Majid quotes Orientalists who are well-known for their disapproval of Islam and its Messenger: “The improvident Jews, whom the fate of their brethren should have taught to better purpose, had not calculated on the chances and necessities of a siege. Soon rendered to great distress, they sought to capitulate on condition of quitting the neighborhood even empty handed .. At last the wretched Jews, brought now to the last verge of starvation, offered to surrender, on condition that their fate should be decided by their allies the Aus.’ (Muir, op.cit., pp. 315-316). Thereupon Sa`d, the chief of the tribe of Aus, greatly incensed at perfidy of the Jews, adjudged that the men should be put to the sword, the women and children made slaves, and their goods divided among the Muslims. Regarding this apparently ‘harsh, bloody sentence,’ writes a Christian historian: ”It must remembered that the crime of these men was high treason against the State, during time of siege; and those who have read how Wellignton’s march could be traced by the bodies of deserters and pillages hanging from the trees, need not be surprised at the summary execution of a traitorous clan.’ (LSK. Intro. p. LXV)."
    There has been disagreement over their numbers. The figures range anything between 600 to 900. They were first shifted to the quarters of Harith’s daughter who was one of the Najjar. (This places a question mark on the reported figures. Such large numbers could not have been housed in a lady’s quarters unless she had an exceptionally large fenced area, which is very unusual, being functionally not very useful, yet expensive to maintain: Au.). In any case, the Prophet got trenches dug to which they were taken in groups to be kneeled near its edge and beheaded. Some of them asked Ka`b, “Where are they being taken O Ka`b?” He, (a leader most surely sore for dismissal of his advice: Au.), said in effect, “Should it be that at no juncture you should refuse to think? Can't you see that the summoner does not cease? Can’t you see that he who goes does not return? It is, by God, slaughter.” Huyayy b. Akhtab was also brought. He had a very expensive shroud on. He had damaged it by tearing every part of it so that it could not be worn after him. When he saw the Prophet he remarked, “By God, I do not blame myself for hating you. But whomsoever God dishonors is dishonored.” (So he remained a typical Jew until the end, blaming Yahweh for his personal choices: Au.). Then he turned to the people (the Jews) and said, “People. There is no escape from God’s command. It is His judgment and decree, and a massacre that was written against the children of Israel.” Then he sat down and his head was struck down.
    `A’isha reported that none of their women was killed except for one. She said, “By Allah. She was with me, conversing and laughing immoderately until noon while the Prophet was killing her menfolk in the market area, when someone called out her name, ‘O so and so.’ She responded, ‘Here I am.’ I said, ‘Woe unto you, what’s happening?’ She said, ‘I’m to be killed.’ I asked, ‘But why?’ She said, ‘For something I did.’ So she was taken away and beheaded.” `A’isha used to say, “I will never forget my amazement at her good spirits and loud laughter although she knew that she was about to die.”
    Another interesting incident was concerning al-Zubayr b. Bata of the Banu Qurayzah. Thabit b. Qays b. Shammas pleaded the Prophet that he be spared. This was in return of a similar favor that Al-Zubayr had done to Thabit in pagan days. He had been taken captive in the Bu`ath battle and was turned to Al-Zubayr. But he merely cut his hair and freed him. The Prophet replied that he could have him.” So he went to Al-Zubayr and gave him the news. He thanked him for the return favor but remarked that life was not worth living without wife and children. So Thabit requested they be returned to him. That too was granted. But when Al-Zubayr was told about it he remarked that in a country like Arabia it was hard to live without one’s property. Thabit went back to the Prophet and he granted that also. But when Thabit assured him of his property also, Al-Zubayr asked, “And what happened to the one whose face shown like a Chinese mirror the virgins looked into: Ka`b b. al-Asad?” He said, “Killed.” Then he asked about another person and was told that he too had been dispatched. Then he asked about the (chiefs of) Banu Ka`b b. Qurayzah and Banu `Amr b. Qurayzah, and was told that they were all history. Al-Zubayr’s Arab blood spoke out, “O Thabit. There is no fun in living after them. Better send me to death so that I can in my love be with them.” So he was beheaded. When Abu Bakr heard his last words he remarked, “Surely, he is with the beloved ones in the Fire.” Another who escaped was Rifa`ah b. Shamwal al-Qurazi. Salma bint Aqyas – who had Prayed with the Prophet on both of the two Qiblas – requested him on grounds that Rifa`ah did good to his kin and ate camel’s meat (prohibited to the Jews). The Prophet (saws) released him to her (Alusi).
    Following his judgment Sa`d’s wound opened up, although it seemed to have almost healed up. When he died, the Prophet visited him along with Abu Bakr and `Umar. `A’isha’s report in Bukhari and Muslim says, “By Him in whose hand is Muhammad’s soul, I could distinguish the difference between Abu Bakr’s and `Umar’s cries while I was in my quarters. They were, as Allah said about them (48: 29), ‘Kind among themselves..’” `Alqamah asked, “Mother. How did the Prophet behave (during such situations)?” She replied, “His eyes never dropped a tear for anyone. But when faced with grief, he held his beard (hard)” [Ibn Kathir]. The Prophet said that the `Arsh shook at his death (Alusi).
    Enslaved women and children were sent away to Najd where they were sold off in exchange of arms. (Their lands and property were largely divided amongst the Muhajirun: Zamakhshari). The Prophet chose to keep Rayhana bint `Amr, a kind of princess. He offered that she become a Muslim so he could marry her and she adopt the hijab. But she chose to remain a Jew. However, later she embraced Islam and became a wife proper (Alusi).
    Some 30-35 years ago, a Jewish university teacher in USA told an Iraqi, “We shall not forget Banu Qurayzah.” The Iraqi student went about trying to find out who the said Banu Qurayzah were. He had never heard of any people so named (Au.).
    Majid (and Shabbir) write: “Compare the Jewish laws concerning the treatment of the fallen cities: ‘When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. And if its answer to you is peace and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for you and shall serve you. But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it; and when the LORD your God gives it into your hand you shall put all its males to the sword, but the women and the little ones, the cattle, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourselves; and you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the LORD your God has given you. Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far from you, which are not cities of the nations here. But in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Cananites and the Per’izzites, the Hivites and the Jeb’usites, as the LORD your God has commanded’ (Deut. 22: 10-17).”
    The above, points out Yusuf Ali, is the “more lenient” Torah punishment that Sa`d applied. The tougher punishment, which Banu Qurayzah deserved is stated in the last two verses of the above quote: “But in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Cananites and the Per’izzites, the Hivites and the Jeb’usites, as the LORD your God has commanded” (Deut. 20: 16-17). Elsewhere it is explained that men, women, children and animals are to be summarily killed, and property burned to ashes (Au.).
    59. To what lands is the allusion? Opinions vary between the lands of Makkah, Khayber and those of the Romans. Ibn Jarir believes there is no need to specify what Allah left open.

    يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُلْ لِأَزْوَاجِكَ إِنْ كُنْتُنَّ تُرِدْنَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَزِينَتَهَا فَتَعَالَيْنَ أُمَتِّعْكُنَّ وَأُسَرِّحْكُنَّ سَرَاحًا جَمِيلًا (28)

    33|28| O Prophet! Say to your wives,60 ‘If you covet the life of this world and its adornment,61 then come, I will provide for you and set you free in a handsome manner.62

    60. “We now come to the subject of the position of the Consorts of Purity (azwaj mutahharat), the wives of the holy Prophet. Their position was not like that of ordinary women or ordinary wives. They had special duties and responsibilities. The only youthful marriage of the holy Prophet was his first marriage-that with Hadhrat Khadija, the best of women and the best of wives. He married her fifteen years before he received his call to Prophethood; their married life lasted for twenty-five years, and their mutual devotion was of the noblest, judged by spiritual as well as social standards. During her life he had no other wife, which was unusual for a man of his standing among his people. When she died, his age was 50, and but for two considerations, he would probably never have married again, as he was most abstemious in his physical life.
    "The two considerations which governed his later marriages were: (1) compassion and clemency, as when he wanted to provide for suffering widows, who could not be provided for in any other way in that stage of society; some of them, like Sauda, had issue by their former marriage, requiring protection; (2) help in his duties of leadership, with women, who had to be instructed and kept together in the large Muslim family, where women and men had similar social rights.
    “Hadhrat Aisha, daughter of Hadhrat Abu Bakr, was clever and learned, and in Hadith she is an important authority on the life of the Prophet. Hadhrat Zainab, daughter of Khuzaima, was specially devoted to the poor; she was called the “Mother of the Poor”. The other Zainab, daughter of Jahsh, also worked for the poor, for whom she provided from the proceeds of her manual work, as she was skillful in leather work. But all the Consorts in their high position had to work and assist as Mothers of the Ummat. Theirs were not idle lives, like those of Odalisques, either for their own pleasure or the pleasure of their husband. They are told here that they had no place in the sacred Household if they merely wished for ease or worldly glitter. If such were the case, they could be divorced and amply provided for" (Yusuf Ali).
    61. (The ayah clearly substantiates that) love of this world (in preference of the Next: Au.) and its adornments is one of those factors that take a man away from Allah and His Messenger (Thanwi).
    62. “By the time this verse was revealed .. the Muslims had conquered the rich agricultural region of Khaybar, and the community had grown more prosperous. But while life was becoming easier for most of its members, this ease was not reflected in the household of the Prophet who, as before, allowed himself and his family only the absolute minimum necessary for the most simple living. In view of the changed circumstances, it was no more than natural that his wives were longing for a share in the comparative luxuries which other Muslim women could now enjoy: but an acquiescence by Muhammad to their demand would have conflicted with the principle, observed by him throughout his life, that the standard of living of God’s Apostle and his family should not be higher than that of the poorest of the believers” (Asad).
    One cannot resist pointing out that Asad’s description of “his wives longing for a share in the comparative luxuries” – expression of an idea in which he is not alone - might lead those to some misunderstanding who are not aware of the economic conditions prevalent in Madinah during the life of the Prophet. The use of the word “luxuries” is justified if the allusion is to a square meal a day, and a pair of decent clothes. For, neither was there any well spread luxury any time among the Madinans of the Prophet’s time, nor were his wives longing for a share in such luxuries. It was biting poverty, perpetual hunger, and torn clothes that provoked the Prophet’s wives to ask for “a little more.” How many times did it not happen that the Prophet came in to ask if there was anything to eat, and he was told that there was nothing? What kind of life it must have been for his wives, whose husband had to mortgage his shield to a Jew for some barely in exchange? (Au.)
    Qurtubi wrote: Allah (swt) gave our Prophet the choice between being a king-Prophet, which would have brought him keys of the treasures of the world, and, or a humble Prophet. He consulted Jibril who advised him to be a humble Prophet. When he had done that, that is, chosen the higher status of being a humble Prophet, Allah asked him to give his wives the choice of remaining with him (in the state in which he was) or leave. They chose to stay.
    Majid quotes an Orientalist: “But in the simplicity of Arab life, artificial comforts, soon regarded by his followers as necessities of life, would to him have been irksome and weary. The Prophet was happier with his wives each in her small and rudely furnished cabin, than he would have been surrounded with all the delicacies and grandeur of a palatial residence’ (Muir, op. cit. p. 202).”

    وَإِنْ كُنْتُنَّ تُرِدْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَالدَّارَ الْآخِرَةَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ أَعَدَّ لِلْمُحْسِنَاتِ مِنْكُنَّ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا (29)

    33|29| But if you seek Allah, His Messenger and the Abode of the Hereafter,63 then surely, Allah has readied for those among you such as do good, a great reward.’64

    63. Majid quotes once again: “Though ‘now virtually Emperor of Arabia with Kings and Rulers of neighborhood states seeking his friendship, he never assumed the pomp and royalty but continued to live most simply, sweeping out his little house, mending his shoes and giving off any money he had over, when needs of his family were satisfied, to the poor widows and orphans of the Moslems who had fallen in battle.’ (Lady Cabbold, Pilgrimage to Mecca, p. 149).”
    64. With reference to “ajran `azima” (great reward), Imam Razi points out that something that is high is merely high. Similarly something broad is only broad. The same is true of depth. `Azim on the other hand, is something which is large and massive from all sides, and, in this case, from every aspect too.
    The Ila
    There are differences in opinion over what exactly prompted the revelation of these verses. Some say they were revealed because of `A’isha asking the Prophet for something of this world, either increase in allowance, or something else. Others say it was because some of the Prophet were jealous of other wives. Another report (as in Qurtubi) says that one of his wives asked for a golden ring. He got her one of silver, plated with gold. She refused to accept anything less than golden. Other reports say that after the victories of Banu Nadir and Banu Qurayzah, when everybody benefited from the flow of wealth, except his wives who suffered deprivation, they sought increase in allowance. So the Prophet withdrew himself from them for a month. This is known as “Ila” and this seems to be the most likely immediate cause.
    [Altogether, his wives numbered nine, five from Quraysh: `A’isha bint Abi Bakr, Hafsa bint `Umar, Umm Habibah bint Abi Sufyan, Sawdah bin Zam`ah, Umm Salamah bint Abi Umayyah and four others from other tribes: Safiyyah bint Huyayy of Khayber, Maymunah bint al-Harith al-Hilaliyyah, Zaynab bint Jahsh al-Asadiyyah and Juwayriyyah bint al-Harith of Banu Mustaliq (Ibn Jarir).
    Ibn al-`Arabiyy has mentioned in his Ahkam al-Qur’an, (as noted by Mawdudi), that at the time the Prophet chose seclusion for a month, he had only four wives: Sawdah, `A’isha, Hafsa and Umm Salamah. But Thanwi writes that at that time he had nine wives, which is also implied by Ibn Jarir’s listing, which means this verse must have been revealed in the 7th year A.H., and not in the 5th year, as thought by some.
    It is also not clear as to when exactly did the incident of the Prophet’s wives seeking greater allowance take place.
    In any case, with the Prophet in seclusion, news spread and one day the Companions gathered at the mosque. They thought he had divorced all his wives. They sat there in a sort of state of mourning, none speaking to another. Then someone went up to `Umar and told him that something terrible had happened. He inquired whether the Ghassan tribe had attacked them. The man said, “Something worse. The Prophet has divorced his wives.” `Umar hastened to the mosque. A report in Bukhari and Muslim – slightly shortened here - describes the rest. Similar reports are found in every major collection.
    Jabir b. `Abdullah reported: Abu Bakr came and sought permission to see Allah’s Messenger. He found people sitting at his door. But he was no allowed in. Then came `Umar. He too sought permission but was not allowed in. Then both Abu Bakr and `Umar were allowed entry. The two entered and found Allah’s Apostle sitting silent with his wives around him. `Umar said to himself, “Let me say something that will make the Prophet cheer up.” So he said: “Messenger of Allah! I wish you had seen the daughter of Ibn Zayd when she asked me for additional allowance. I gave her a pain in the neck (meaning I slapped her on the neck).” Allah’s Messenger smiled and said: “These are also around me as you see them, seeking additional allowances.” At that Abu Bakr got up and to hit `A’isha, and `Umar stood up (to hit Hafsa) the two saying: “Do you ask Allah’s Messenger what he does not have?” The Prophet restrained the two. His wives said: “By Allah, we shall not after this session ever ask Allah’s Messenger for anything he does not have.”
    (Following that, the Prophet [saws] withdrew from them for a month). Allah revealed the verses offering the choice. So he began with`A’isha and said to her: “I would like to propose something to you, but I wish you will not be hasty in replying but rather will consult your parents first.” She asked what it was and he recited this verse: “O Prophet! Say to your wives..” She said: “Messenger of Allah. Do I consult my parents concerning you? I choose Allah and His Messenger. But do not inform your other wives of my decision.” He replied: “Allah has not sent me as a harsh (person), but He has sent me to teach and make things easy. None of them will ask me but I will tell her of your choice.”
    According to other reports, when `Umar received the report of the Prophet’s withdrawal, and that his wives were the cause, he went to Hafsa and told her, “Do not ask the Prophet for anything. Ask me for your needs.” Then he went to `A’isha and told her, “Do not be misled by the fact that you are beautiful or that your husband loves you. Beware that Allah should reveal something about you.” He also spoke to others of his wives. Umm Salamah chided him, “Ibn al-Khattab! Have you now begun to interfere in the affairs of the Prophet’s wives?” (Ibn Jarir).
    Thereafter the Prophet went to each of his wives presenting them the choice. They all chose Allah, His Messenger and the Abode of the Hereafter; but for a Bedouin woman who chose to depart (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi). According to reports, this woman used to visit the Prophet’s wives and say, “I am a wretched woman.” Some other reports suggest that mentally she was somewhat imbalanced (Alusi).
    Ibn Jarir and Qurtubi do not name the woman who chose separation, but, if correct, she was not one of the nine named above (Au.).
    Fiqh Rules
    • The ayah is also known as “ayah takhyir” meaning, “the verse (giving) choice.” The law of “takhyir” amounts to delegation of the right to obtain divorce. This happens when a man says to his wife, “You have the choice: either stay or leave.” If she chooses to stay, nothing happens. If she chooses to leave, the separation is considered as first of the three “talaq bayen” – the irrevocable divorce. The husband can only get her back under a new marriage contract, new terms, new dower, etc., which means the woman can refuse a re-marriage, as against “talaq al-raja`i” which gives the husband the right of return without a new marriage.
    • Once a woman is given the choice, and she chooses separation, the choice cannot be overturned by either of the two parties. If the woman stays silent, it means she refused to accept the delegation and so the words of the husband hold no legal value and the right of choice is annulled.
    Sayyid Qutb has the following commentary to offer: The event (of the wives asking the Prophet for better allowances, Allah giving them the choice, and they choosing Allah and His Messenger), requires us to look and ponder from various angles. The event draws a clear picture of Islamic values, and the paths to be conscientiously treaded by the Muslims: while forging ahead on the paths of this world or the next. It plants deep into a Muslim’s heart a few values that he must hold on as dear while dealing with this world and the next. It roots out any inclination there can be toward the world in the heart of a Muslim, or any preference for the present over the next. It eliminates any obstacle remaining in the heart that can come in between him and Allah’s pleasure and approval.
    The incident also illustrates for us the truth about the Prophet’s this-worldly life – and of those who surrounded him. The outstanding point is that the life of the Prophet or his followers was like the life of any human being: without any mark of distinction. They had surrendered themselves, but had not become super humans, or supra humans, nor did they become devoid of any of their human traits, characteristics, emotions or sentiments. Despite their rise as exemplary humans, despite achieving great spiritual heights, they remained humans in all respects. Their emotions, feelings and sentiments did not die in their hearts; but rather were cleansed of any contamination, to leave them pure and charming.
    Most of us make the mistake of regarding the Prophet and his early followers as superhuman. We accord them a rank and position that is not real. We wish to see them free of every human weakness, imagining that in this manner we raise them to higher levels. In truth, we lower their status.
    This error renders them unreal; a picture that is devoid of human feelings, traits and characteristics. This cuts them off us. We treat them as other than human: angels, or something else, distancing them away from us; placing them so far away or above that they cannot be imitated or followed. We fail to respond to their attractive personalities, for we do not look at them as real humans, who went through real situations, and dealt with them in a down to earth manner.
    Allah’s wisdom is clear in that He chose Messengers from humans like us and not from angels or some other creation. This was in order that the relationship between them and other humans endures as real, and not as something only in the imagination; in order that their followers feel that their hearts too felt like they feel, and were subject to the same forces as they are subjected, despite the fact that they were far above them, although, close enough to be followed and imitated.
    On close observance the event we are speaking of imparts countless lessons: the decision of the Prophet’s wives - to the exception of none - to remain with him, to bear the hardship voluntarily, the Prophet’s love and preference of `A’isha in offering the choice, her request that her choice be not disclosed to other wives, the Prophet’s reply that he had not been sent to make things difficult, making it easy for them to pass the test .. all these minor details, when kept in sight, bind us with the Prophet and His Companions, in humanity and create the desire in us to follow his example.

    يَا نِسَاءَ النَّبِيِّ مَنْ يَأْتِ مِنْكُنَّ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُبَيِّنَةٍ يُضَاعَفْ لَهَا الْعَذَابُ ضِعْفَيْنِ ۚ وَكَانَ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرًا (30)

    33|30| O women of the Prophet!65 Whosoever of you commits a flagrant indecency,66 (should know that) her chastisement will be increased twofold; that is easy for Allah.

    65. Some people of our contemporary world have construed that the verses from this point onward and the directives they contain, were specifically meant for the wives of the Prophet. Why, one wonders, common Muslim womenfolk are considered unworthy of the same level of piety and spiritual purification as the Prophet’s wives? (Au.)
    66. In view of the fact stated in verse 32 below, concerning their higher status among the believers, the term “flagrant violation” needs a special interpretation, and can only be applicable to minor dereliction (Au.). There is no need to stretch the mind. Far from a wife of the Prophet committing a flagrant indecency, (if someone is foolhardy enough to imagine that), even common Muslim women of those times did not commit any flagrant indecency (Shafi` paraphrased).
    Ibn Kathir explained it as, “rebellious attitude (towards the Prophet) and any ill behavior.” But Muqatil understood it as meaning “any disobedience of the Prophet, and demanding anything from him that would cause him inconvenience to fulfill (Shafi`).
    However, if the words are taken in their literal sense, then it would be considered as a hypothetical statement, similar to the statement in another verse (Al-Zumar: 65), which stated, addressing the Prophet,

    لَئِنْ أَشْرَكْتَ لَيَحْبَطَنَّ عَمَلُكَ (الزمر – 69)

    “But if you commit association, surely, all your deeds would go vain” (Ibn Kathir).

    وَمَنْ يَقْنُتْ مِنْكُنَّ لِلَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَتَعْمَلْ صَالِحًا نُؤْتِهَا أَجْرَهَا مَرَّتَيْنِ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لَهَا رِزْقًا كَرِيمًا (31)

    33|31| While whosoever of you remains obedient to Allah and His Messenger, and acts righteously, We shall grant her, her reward twice-over;67 and We have readied for her a noble provision.68

    67. The implication of two-fold rewards for several good acts, in comparison with two-fold chastisement for a single “flagrant indecency” is that rewards demand obedience to the fullest degree, while chastisement can descend for a single violation (Thanwi).
    68. They will be in the company of Allah’s Messenger, at the highest reaches of “`Illiyun”, above the rest of the dwellers of Paradise, in a place called Wasilah (Ibn Kathir).

    يَا نِسَاءَ النَّبِيِّ لَسْتُنَّ كَأَحَدٍ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ ۚ إِنِ اتَّقَيْتُنَّ فَلَا تَخْضَعْنَ بِالْقَوْلِ فَيَطْمَعَ الَّذِي فِي قَلْبِهِ مَرَضٌ وَقُلْنَ قَوْلًا مَعْرُوفًا (32)

    33|32| O women of the Prophet! You are not like other women69 - if you are godfearing70 - then do not be soft in speech,71 lest he in whose heart is disease should covet; but speak appropriate words.72

    69. That is, by virtue of you having been chosen by the Prophet, to be in his house, you have been placed on a higher footing with greater responsibilities, hence two-fold the reward, and two-fold the punishment upon neglect: you cannot ignore the fact that coming generation of Muslims are going to look upon you as models (Au.).
    70. This parenthetical remark can be connected either ways so that one can read if he wished, “You are not like other women if you are godfearing,” or, “If you are godfearing, then do not be soft of speech” (Razi). Another possible connotation is, Thanwi adds, “if you remain godfearing.”
    71. Thanwi has a brilliant note here. What the instruction purports to say is, to paraphrase with some modification, “do not speak in your normal voice” since normal female voice can be sexually provocative.
    Not surprisingly, it is reported of some of the Prophet’s wives that they used to place a hand on the mouth while speaking lest the listener felt any tenderness (Alusi).
    And, to speak coarsely, to put off the speaker, is not bad manners on the part of a woman. It is bad manners to attract males to oneself (with a point from Thanwi).
    In any case, the translation of the words “la takhda`na” as done here, reflect the understanding of Suddi and others (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir and others).
    Majid comments and quotes: “The very sound of female voice is sometimes (enough) to excite passion in man, and he is, in many instances, sexually attached through the sense of hearing: ‘We may attach considerable impression to the voice and the music generally as a method of sexual appeal. On this point we may agree with Moll, ”that sexual stimulation through the ears is greater than is usually believed."’ (Havelock Ellis, Psychology of Sex, p. 61). The sound of the voice, its timbre and vigour, its height or depth, its purity or sharpness often determine with unnecessary rapidity, love at first sight .. The great significance of the voice is disclosed by the large number of women who fall in love with singers.’ (Forbate, op.cit., p. 62)".
    72. Sayyid comments: Those were the directions for the wives of the Prophet, mothers of the believers, those that none could covet .. not even those who had disease in their hearts. That was at a time in Islamic history when piety was of the highest order, at a time when the social milieu had the Prophet in it. Yet they were told not to soften their tone, for, there is no guarantee of the hearts maintaining their calm when they encounter excitable situations. And, musical voices can entice, can enchant, can excite. It was best therefore that the cause of enticement be rooted out.
    Compare that situation with today’s world when all kinds of enticements allure the people, when everything that is attempted is with the help of enticements, when a woman displays all sorts of temptations on her person. Everything you see is sex-oriented, and the whole atmosphere is sex tainted. Where is the purity of those times? How do we compare those times with ours when a woman is the other name of all that Islam loathes and wishes to purge?

    وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَىٰ ۖ وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتِينَ الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۚ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا (33)

    33|33| Remain in your homes,73 do not make a dazzling display of the sort of the days of ignorance of former times;74 offer Prayers (spiritedly and assiduously), pay the alms,75 and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah only wishes to remove all abominations from you, O Members of the Household,76 and purify you to complete purification.77

    73. Majid comments: “Islam enjoins strict isolation upon its womenfolk, which is not without parallel or precedent in the teachings of the ancient prophets of Israel: ‘The women had indeed in the innermost part of the houses their own apartment to which access was not permitted to men, or, in the case of wealthy people, or people of rank, they had a separate house to themselves.’ (EBi., c. 2946). The rule was also observed, at any rate, in regard to the public worship, by the Jews and early Christians. ‘In the early church the women were always separated from the men in public worship .. The practice may probably have come into the Christian Church without any formal enactment from the usage of Jewish worship, in which the women were (and are to this day) separated from the men.’ (DCA. II. P. 1891).”
    Sawda (ra) followed these directives literally. It is said that she did not leave her house after the Prophet until her death. The only time she came out was, as a narrator remarked, when she had to be taken out for burial. `A’isha however used to perform Hajj every year. (In fact, all the Prophet’s wives used to do that, except Sawda and Zaynab: Alusi). On `A’isha, it was an obligation, since she was a scholar par excellence and had to be at Hajj sites for people’s instruction. (In fact, one of those years `Umar arranged Hajj for all of them, with `Uthman b. `Affan and `Abdul Rahamn b. `Awf supervising the caravan: Alusi).
    The Jamal Battle
    `A’isha also led a brief reform movement during the Caliphate of `Ali, when she saw Islam facing a crisis. It culminated in an accidental battle between her followers and those of the forces of the government led by `Ali. The battle is known as the battle of the Jamal (meaning “Camel” in reference to `A’isha’s camel which was provoking her followers to fight fiercely in her defense: Au.). Although peace had been worked out one evening, hypocrites and disgruntled elements forced the two parties into a battle by attacking each other from opposite sides at night. The battle could only end when her camel was hamstrung with her in the litter. She was taken to Basra by her brother Muhammad b. Abi Bakr from where she left for Madinah in the company of thirty women chosen by `Ali, perhaps to thwart any recognition and attack on her life. The caravan was led and guarded by no less than Hasan b. `Ali until they arrived at Madinah.
    She found, Qurtubi writes, what was written in her fate and returned to Madinah rewarded for her efforts, despite the error she made in judging the political situation, for a mujtahid is rewarded twice over if correct, and once if wrong.
    She would, however, whenever she read these verses, cry until her veil cloth was wet.
    Alusi records that even `Ali was greatly moved when he entered the battle-field and found it strewn with the dead. He remarked, “Oh that I was dead before this and had become a thing forgotten.” Further, Alusi writes, the reason why `A’isha was remorseful was not because she went out of her house, but because she had ignored – or made to ignore - the prediction of the Prophet who had once said when he was amongst his wives, “Perhaps, the dogs of Haw’ab will bark at one of you.” According to some reports he said to her, “Beware that you should be the one, O Humayrah.” Therefore, when, on her way to Busrah, accompanied by a huge following, she stopped at a watering place, and the dogs began to bark, she inquired what place it was. She was told that it was Haw’ab. She decided to pull back immediately. But some thirty Bedouins were produced who testified that the place was in fact not Haw’ab. It was the missed investigation, and the regret over the incident in general terms, that made her remorseful to cry over the ayah when she recited it. Finally, it was not her hatred of `Ali, as the Shi`a allege, that drove her to Basrah. She had taken up the journey in search of justice. When asked, she said about `Ali, “By Allah there was nothing between me and him, except for the kind of (ambivalent) feeling a woman generally has for the in-laws.” (This remark shows how honest she was. Had she been dishonest in the least, she would have said, “There was absolutely no ill-feeling between us.” As for why did she start of at all, seeking justice, one must understand that she was a leader of the believers. It would have been, as some scholars have said, a major sin on the part of the Ummah as an Ummah, not to punish the murderer's of a Khalifah: Au.).
    Women and Congregational Prayers
    In connection with women ordered to remain in their houses, Ibn Kathir remarks that they may not venture out unless there is a good reason. And, of those that can be called as good reasons, one is to go to the mosque for obligatory Prayers, in view of the Prophetic injunction,

    عن أَبي هُرَيْرَةَ أَنّ رسولَ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: "لا تمْنَعُوا إِمَاء الله مَسَاجِدَ الله وَلَكِنْ لِيَخْرُجْنَ وَهُنّ تَفِلاَتٌ" (أبو داؤد).‏

    “Do not prevent Allah’s female slaves from His mosques; yet, let them come without perfumes.”
    There are reasons why a woman should not leave her house too often. A hadith preserved by Tabarani in his Kabir, (with a chain that is trustworthy: Haythami) reports the Prophet as having said,

    عن عبد الله بن مسعود عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: "المرأة عورة وإنها إذا خرجت استشرفها الشيطان،وإنها أقرب ما تكون إلى الله وهي في قعر بيتها". رواه الطبراني في الكبير ورجاله موثقون: الهيثمي).‏

    “A woman is a thing to be veiled. When she goes out, Shaytan peers at her. The closest she is to Allah when she is in the innermost part of her quarters.”
    Ibn Kathir also quotes a hadith from Bazzar, which, although uncertain of authenticity, has its support in other reports of the same nature. This one reports that a group of women went up to the Prophet (saws) and said, “Messenger of Allah! Men have overtaken women through (Allah’s) grace (fadl) and through Jihad in the way of Allah. What could we do to reach up to the level of the mujahidin?” He answered, “Whoever of you sat back in her house – or words of that nature – “attains the status of the mujahidin in Allah’s path.”
    Ibn Kathir however points out that the above is narrated by none through Thabit b. al-Bunani except Ruh al-Musayyib. Haythami points out that it is a weak narration.
    There are, we might point out, other ahadith that allow women to go to mosques. One in Muslim is on the authority of Ibn `Umar. It says,

    عن عَبْدَ اللّهِ بْنَ عُمَرَ أنه قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ: "لاَ تَمْنَعُوا نِسَاءَكُمُ الْمَسَاجِدَ إِذَا اسْتَأْذَنّكُمْ إِلَيْهَا". (مسلم)

    “Do not prevent your women the happy share of the mosques if they seek your permission to go there.” At that, Bilal, ibn `Umar’s son (moved by the changed attitudes of the women of his time) said, “By Allah, we shall prevent them.” According to other reports he said he feared they would go wayward. But Ibn `Umar (his father) was so upset with the remark that he struck him hard on the breast and said, “I say, ‘The Prophet says do not prevent’, and you say, ‘We shall prevent?’ I will never talk to you again.” It is said that thereafter he did not talk to him until death, which, as Ibn Hajr has pointed out, means one of the two must have died soon after the incident.
    Another report in Bukhari and Muslim records the Prophet as having said,

    عَنْ ابْنِ عُمَرَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ إِذَا اسْتَأْذَنَكُمْ نِسَاؤُكُمْ بِاللَّيْلِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ فَأْذَنُوا لَهُنَّ (البخاري)

    “If your women seek your permission to go the mosque at night, allow them.” According to Hadith scholars, the Prophet added the words “at night” because then it was safer at night for women to move about without being recognized (Au.).
    The above remains in force (i.e. the permission), writes Ibn Kathir, although it is undesirable for women to attend the mosques in view of the words that follow the above hadith as in Abu Da’ud (and treated trustworthy by Ibn Khuzaymah: Ibn Hajr in Fath). The words are,

    "لا تمنعوهن المساجد وبيوتهن خير لهن "

    “Do not prevent them although their houses are better for them.”
    This aspect has been expressed more powerfully in another hadith preserved by Ahmad and Tabarani, declared trustworthy by Haythami except for a reporter in it who, in any case was trusted by Ibn Hibban. It is as follows:

    عن أم حميد امرأة أبي حميد الساعدي أنها جاءت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقالت: يا رسول الله إني أحب الصلاة معك قال: "قد علمت أنك تحبين الصلاة معي،وصلاتك في بيتك خير من صلاتك في حجرتك،وصلاتك في حجرتك خير من صلاتك في دارك،وصلاتك في دارك خير من صلاتك في مسجد قومك،وصلاتك في مسجد قومك خير من صلاتك في مسجدي" قالت: فأمرت فبني لها مسجد في أقصى بيت في بيتها وأظلمه فكانت تصلي فيه حتى لقيت الله عز وجل. (رواه أحمد ورجاله رجال الصحيح غير عبد الله بن سويد الأنصاري ووثقه ابن حبان: الهيثمي).‏

    Abu Humayd al-Sa`idi’s wife reported that she went to the Prophet (saws) and said, “Messenger of Allah. I love to pray with you.” He replied, “I know that you love to pray with me. But your Prayer within your inner chambers is better than your prayer anywhere in your house. And your prayer in your house is better than your prayer in your quarters. And your prayer in your quarters is better than your prayer in the mosque of your neighborhood. And your prayer in the mosque of your neighborhood is better than your prayer in my mosque.” So she got a prayer-niche built for herself in the farthest and darkest corner of her house in which she used to pray until death.
    We might point out that the disapproval is also strengthened by `A’isha’s words, “Had the Prophet seen how today’s women behave, he would have prevented them from going to the mosques.” However, not everyone has agreed to use `A’isha’s words to prevent women from mosques, even if they have thought it undesirable. Ibn Hajr notes for example, that Allah knew about the changes that were to take place in people’s behavior and could have ordered the Prophet to prevent them altogether. In fact, `A’isha herself is on record not having discouraged anyone from going to the mosques. Indeed, if women had to be prevented from mosques for reasons of their indecent appearance, adds Ibn Hajr, they should have been prevented from entering into markets where freedom is more abused than elsewhere. Moreover, what `A’isha observed, involved a few women and not all. And a general rule cannot be abrogated because of what a few do.
    In fact, it has been reported by Ahmad, although through a Mursal report that `Umar ibn al-Khattab’s wife `Atikah bint Zayd, (a sister of Sa`id b. Zayd, one of the ten given the glad tidings of Paradise), used to visit the Prophet’s mosque for Fajr and `Isha Prayers. She was told (perhaps by `Umar himself, as suggested by some Hadith scholars, or Ibn `Umar the narrator), “Why do you come out, when you know that `Umar does not approve of it, and feels jealous about it (yugharu)?” She asked, “And what prevents him from preventing me?” He answered, “The Prophet’s words, ‘Do not prevent Allah’s female-slaves from Allah’s mosques.’” According to another report `Umar used to say, “By Allah, you know that I do not appreciate it,” and she would reply, “By Allah, I shall not stop coming until you disallow me.” (Apparently, `Umar did not: Au.).
    The opinion of the four fuqaha’ has been similar: old women could join the congregation at Fajr, Mahgrib and `Isha, when their exposure is less likely. The condition they place is that (a) they should have their husband’s permission, (b) do not apply perfume, and (c) do not put on flashy dresses. Young women should better not come because they can cause fitnah. They point out that in view of (a) the Prophet ordering Umm Waraqah to lead women of her quarters, and (b) `A’isha and Umm Salamah leading women in their houses, it is mustahab (desirable) that women conduct congregational Prayers within their homes rather than go to the mosques. However, Abu Hanifa’s students Abu Yusuf and Muhammad held the opinion that old women could attend all five prayers (Au.).
    Sayyid adds, “Remaining within homes does not imply a strict stay put. The choice of words tells us with subtlety that for women home is the place where they find a state of rest, or repose. If they go out, it is because of unavoidable circumstances, but do not stay away for long. It is in her house that a woman is herself, (where she can relax), untouched by the filth outside, and in occupation that Allah has designed for her.
    “This is the reason why, in its effort to prepare an atmosphere in the house where new plants sprout under a woman’s care, Islam has declared man the bread earner, making it obligatory on him, so that the mother is released from the worry, time and efforts that go with it, and pay full attention to the new generation. But, if she is burdened with the hardships of earning, with the fatigue that goes with it, punching her time at the place of work regularly, spending her energies there, then she cannot offer the best of her attention to home and its cares, to children and their needs.
    “Homes of employed women miss the atmosphere of homes. They are more like hotels or inns in their atmosphere and are devoid of any fragrance found in a home. A true home does not come into existence but at the hands of a woman, its warmth is never felt unless a woman takes charge of it. A woman working outside will not, in fact, add anything to the home but confusion, dimness and fatigue.
    “Woman going out to earn is a measure to be resorted to only when dire needs demand. But, if people make use of her, despite their own ability to earn the needful, then, it is a curse that descends on people’s souls, conscience, and intellect. As for she going out, simply in order to mix with people, or to show off, or other such reasons, then, that is a step into animal’s sludge.”
    74. To go about strutting among men, improperly dressed, making a show of their ornaments is, according to the commentators, tabarruj.
    But what is the Jahiliyyah al-Ula? Some have thought that the reference is to the earliest Jahiliyyah – that which was prevalent in times between Adam and Nuh (asws) of duration some eight hundred years. Others have thought that the allusion is to the Jahiliyyah that was prevalent between Musa and `Isa. In contrast, the Jahiliyyah prevalent between `Isa and our Prophet is the Jahiliyyah al-Ukhra (Alusi and others).
    Thanwi has another suggestion. Pre-Islamic Jahiliyyah was the Jahiliyyah Ula, while post-Islamic negligence of Islamic principles and teachings is Jahiliyyah Ukhra (the latter Jahiliyyah; and the directive here is, do not enter into the Jahiliyyah Ukhra (or Jadidah) to revive the Jahiliyyah Ula (or qadimah).
    Majid comments: “Jahiliyyah denotes the time or state of paganism that preceded the advent of the holy Prophet – a way of life that is reasserting itself in the West. And there can be little doubt that this new paganism is far more licentious than its ancient variety.”
    The above statement was issued some 60 years ago. How would Majid comment if he was told that the most advanced Western states treat such of their civilians who have sex with their daughters as just a little bit abnormal, where same sex marriages are being legalized, and whose leaders are so deceitful, and, hypocrites of such level of cunning, as to evoke repulsion in the sensible sections of their own societies? This is in sharp contrast to the Jahiliyyah previous to the Prophet, in which men were men; they were honest, courageous and upright. If one were to write a short account of things that happen in the “electrified West” of today (Majid’s own words elsewhere), how would he react, when we, living in this age, are filled with disgust?
    75. The directives were accepted whole-heartedly and put to action robustly. None of them ever kept any money on her hand at any time in her life, during or after the Prophet. Had the Prophet failed in his mission, but left behind just these nine women as his life-achievement, he could still be considered as a man unequaled by any other of the humankind; such was the exemplary lives these women led with him, and after him (Au.).
    76. `Ikrimah was of the opinion that the Prophet’s wives were the only ones included in the term ahl al-Bayt. But a study of other reports suggests that not only the term applied to other than them, but the directives herewith are for every Muslim woman, although they, the Prophet’s wives, were the first addressees. There are several reports in Ahmad, Ibn Jarir and others, although all with some defect or the other, but jointly strong enough to depend upon the gist, viz., other than the Prophet’s wives were included in the term ahl al-bayt. The report in Ahmad tells us the following: Shaddad Abu ‘Ammar said: I entered upon Wathila b. al-Asqa’. There were people with him and were speaking of ‘Ali. When they had left he said to me, “May I not tell you what I saw of the Prophet?” I said, “Please do.” He said, “I went to Fatimah to inquire where ‘Ali was. She said he had gone to the Prophet. So I sat there waiting for him until the Prophet came out with ‘Ali, Hasan and Husain, holding each of them by his hand. He entered the house that way. Then he drew `Ali and Fatimah closer, making them sit before him, and Hasan and Husain by his thighs. Then he threw a cloth or a shroud around and then recited this verse, “Allah only wishes to remove all abominations from you, O Members of the Household, and purify you to complete purification.”
    A report in Muslim confirms all other reports as authentic. It has `A’isha saying,

    عَنْ صَفِيّةَ بِنْتِ شَيْبَة. قَالَتْ: قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ: خَرَجَ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم غَدَاةً وَعَلَيْهِ مِرْطٌ مُرَحّلٌ، مِنْ شَعَرٍ أَسْوَدَ. فَجَاءَ الْحَسَنُ ابْنُ عَلِيَ فَأَدْخَلَهُ. ثُمّ جَاءَ الْحُسَيْنُ فَدَخَلَ مَعَهُ. ثُمّ جَاءَتْ فاطِمَةُ فَأَدْخَلَهَا. ثُمّ جَاءَ عَلِيّ فَأَدْخَلَهُ. ثُمّ قَالَ: {إِنّمَا يُرِيدُ اللّهِ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيراً} - مسلم

    “Once the Prophet came out with a striped cloak on, made of black hair. Hasan came and he took him in. Then Hussain came and he took him in. Then came Fatimah and he took her in it. Finally, `Ali came and he took him in too. Then he recited this verse, ‘Allah only wishes to remove all abominations from you, O Members of the Household, and purify you to complete purification.’”
    Nevertheless, another report as it appears in Muslim seems to expand the application of the term ahl al-bayt further than the above construe. It goes as follows:

    قَالَ زُهَيْرٌ: حَدّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ. حَدّثَنِي أَبُو حَيّانَ. حَدّثَنِي يَزِيدُ بْنُ حَيّانَ. قَالَ: انْطَلَقْتُ أَنَا وَحُصَيْنُ بْنُ سَبْرَةَ وَعُمَرُ بْنُ مُسْلِمٍ إِلَىَ زَيْدِ بْنِ أَرْقَمَ. فَلَمّا جَلَسْنَا إِلَيْهِ قَالَ لَهُ حُصَيْنٌ: لَقَدْ لَقِيتَ، يَا زَيْدُ خَيْراً كَثِيراً. رَأَيْتَ رَسُولَ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم. وَسَمِعْتَ حَدِيثَهُ. وَغَزَوْتَ مَعَهُ. وَصَلّيْتَ خَلْفَهُ. لَقَدْ لَقِيتَ، يَا زَيْدُ خَيْراً كَثِيراً. حَدّثْنَا، يَا زَيْدُ، مَا سَمِعْتَ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم. قَالَ: يَا ابْنَ أَخِي وَاللّهِ لَقَدْ كَبِرَتْ سِنّي. وَقَدُمَ عَهْدِي. وَنَسِيتُ بَعْضَ الّذِي كُنْتُ أَعِي مِنْ رَسُولِ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم. فَمَا حَدّثْتُكُمْ فَاقْبَلُوا. وَمَا لاَ، فَلاَ تُكَلّفُونِيهِ. ثُمّ قَالَ: قَامَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَوْماً فِينَا خَطِيباً. بِمَاءٍ يُدْعَىَ خُمّا. بَيْنَ مَكّةَ وَالْمَدِينَةِ. فَحَمِدَ اللّهَ وَأَثْنَىَ عَلَيْهِ، وَوَعَظَ وَذَكّرَ. ثُمّ قَالَ: "أَمّا بَعْدُ. أَلاَ أَيّهَا النّاسُ فَإِنّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ يُوشِكُ أَنْ يَأْتِيَ رَسُولُ رَبّي فَأُجِيبَ. وَأَنَا تَارِكٌ فِيكُمْ ثَقَلَيْنِ: أَوّلُهُمَا كِتَابُ اللّهِ فِيهِ الْهُدَىَ وَالنّورُ. فَخُذُوا بِكِتَابِ اللّهِ. وَاسْتَمْسِكُوا بِهِ" فَحَثّ عَلَىَ كِتَابِ اللّهِ وَرَغّبَ فِيهِ. ثُمّ قَالَ: "وَأَهْلُ بَيْتِي. أُذَكّرُكُمُ اللّهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي. أُذَكّرُكُمُ اللّهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي. أُذَكّرُكُمُ اللّهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي". فَقَالَ لَهُ حُصَيْنٌ: وَمَنْ أَهْلُ بَيْتِهِ؟ يَا زَيْدُ أَلَيْسَ نِسَاؤُهُ مِنْ أَهْل بَيْتِهِ؟ قَالَ: نِسَاؤُهُ مِنْ أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ. وَلَكِنْ أَهْلُ بَيْتِهِ مِمّنْ حُرِمَ الصّدَقَةَ بَعْدَهُ. قَالَ: وَمَنْ هُمْ؟ قَالَ: هُمْ آلُ عَلِيَ، وَآلُ عَقِيلٍ، وَآلُ جَعْفَرٍ، وَآلُ عَبّاسٍ. قَالَ: كُلّ هَؤُلاَءِ حُرِمَ الصّدَقَةَ؟ قَالَ: نَعَمْ.

    Zayd b. Hayyan said, “Myself, Husain b. Sabrah, and `Umar b. Salamah went up to see Zayd b. Arqam. Husain said after we were seated, ‘O Zayd you certainly achieved great good things: you saw the Prophet, heard his words, fought with him, and Prayed behind him. Surely, O Zayd you achieved wonderfully good things. Narrate to us therefore, O Zayd, something that you (personally) heard from him.’ Zayd replied, ‘Dear cousin. By Allah I am advanced of age and have begun to forget things that I used to remember from the Prophet’s time. So, take what I narrate, and do not fret over what I do not.’ Then he said, ‘One day the Prophet stood up at the waters of Khumm between Makkah and Madinah (Ghadir Khumm of other reports: Au.), and said, after praises to Allah, "People! I am after all a human being. It is possible that my Lord’s messenger should arrive and I say welcome to him. I am leaving two weighty things behind me: First of the two is Allah’s Book. It has guidance and light. So hold fast unto Allah’s Book." He spoke quite a few words on Allah’s Book encouraging us to apply ourselves to it. Then he said, “My ahl al-bayt: I admonish you regarding my ahl al-bayt.” He said it three times. Zayd asked, ‘Who were his ahl al-bayt. Weren’t his wives his ahl al-bayt?’ He answered, ‘Of course they were his ahl al-bayt. But ahl al-bayt includes those who were prohibited from accepting charity.’ He asked, ‘Who are they?’ He replied, ‘The families of `Ali, `Aqil, Ja`far and `Abbas.’ He asked, ‘Were they all prohibited charity after him (i.e. after the Prophet)?’ He said, ‘Yes’" (Ibn Kathir).
    The Hanafiyy position however, points out Alusi, is that the entire Banu Hashim are ahl al-bayt, except of course those who died during pagandom.
    Shabbir clarifies that ahl al-bayt are primarily the wives of the Prophet. But (since there was possibility his daughters, sons in law, and their children could be excluded by the later generations: Au.), the Prophet specifically took the four: Fatimah, `Ali, Hasan and Hussain into a cloak with himself in the center, so as to leave no doubt about it.
    See Surah Al-Ma’idah note 188, of this work for other details of the report of Ghadir Khumm (Au.).
    It is also recorded that after Hasan b. `Ali was appointed Khalifah, he was Praying in a mosque when someone – perhaps one of the Banu Asad – leapt at him with a dagger and missing the targeted part, but struck him at the hip. The wound took a month to heal at the end of which Hasan addressed the people from the pulpit saying, “People of Iraq, fear Allah in connection with us. We are your leaders and guests. And we are of the ahl al-bayt about whom Allah said, ‘Allah only wishes to remove all abominations from you, O Members of the Household.’” He repeated it several times and there was no one in the mosque but was in tears (Ibn Kathir).
    77. The Shi`a have a curious way of interpreting the second part of this verse, which happens to have become their key passage: “Remain in your homes, do not make a dazzling display of the sort of the days of ignorance of the former times, offer Prayers (spiritedly and assiduously), pay the alms, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah only wishes to remove all abominations from you, O Members of the Household, and purify you to complete purification." According to them, the term “ahl al-bayt” applies only to the male line coming through `Abbas and `Ali - the Prophet’s wives excluded. A second inference is that “yutahhirukum tathira” implies, (and hence is worthy of becoming a cardinal principle) that the Imams arising out of them were sinless, incapable of sinning. But one will need a good amount of mind-stretching to ignore that the verse starts with “Remain in your homes,” (in feminine clause), which obviously cannot be applied to `Abbas or `Ali (Shafi`, modified). Further, if Sarah could be entitled to be “ahl al-bayt” of Ibrahim,
    ?????????????
    [“ Are you amazed at your Lord’s ways? (when) Allah’s mercy and grace is upon you (O) ahl al bayt?!”: Hud, 73], on what grounds can the wives of the Prophet be excluded? (Au.)

    وَاذْكُرْنَ مَا يُتْلَىٰ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَالْحِكْمَةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ لَطِيفًا خَبِيرًا (34)

    33|34| And remember78 what is rehearsed in your homes of Allah’s revelations and the wisdom.79 Surely, Allah was ever All-subtle, All-aware.

    78. `A’isha and Umm Salamah, therefore, are known for having remembered the “dhikr” well. `A’isha especially, closest to the Prophet in his life, and closest to his spirit of life after him, narrated thousands of reports without which our understanding of the Islamic religion would have remained incomplete (Au.).
    79. That is, the Sunnah.

    إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ وَالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْقَانِتَاتِ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالصَّادِقَاتِ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّابِرَاتِ وَالْخَاشِعِينَ وَالْخَاشِعَاتِ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقَاتِ وَالصَّائِمِينَ وَالصَّائِمَاتِ وَالْحَافِظِينَ فُرُوجَهُمْ وَالْحَافِظَاتِ وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُمْ مَغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا (35)

    33|35| Surely,80 men who surrendered and women who surrender,81 believing men and believing women,82 devout men and devout women,83 truthful men and truthful women,84 patient men and patient women,85 humble men and humble women,86 charitable men and charitable women,87 fasting men and fasting women,88 men guarding their private parts and women guarding (them), men engaged much in Allah’s remembrance and women engaged much in (Allah’s) remembrance89: Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward.

    80. Tirmidhi recorded a Hasan Gharib report on the authority of `Ummarah al-Ansariyyah that she said to the Prophet, “I do not see women addressed in the Qur’an. All the time it addresses women.” So Allah revealed this verse (Qurtubi).
    We also have a report in Ahmad coming from Umm Salamah.

    حدثنا عبد الرحمن بن شيبة قال سمعت أم سلمة قالت: "قلت يا رسول الله ما لنا لا نذكر في القرآن كما يذكر الرجال قالت: فلم يرعني منه يوما إلا ونداؤه على المنبر -يا أيها الناس قالت وأنا أسرح رأسي فلففت شعري ثم دنوت من الباب فجعلت سمعي عند الجرير فسمعته يقول: إن الله عز وجل يقول: إن المسلمين والمسلمات والمؤمنين والمؤمنات" (أحمد)

    She said to the Prophet, “Why is it that we have not been addressed in the Qur’an as men have been addressed?” She said, “It was hardly a day, when I was doing my hair, that I heard him address the people from the pulpit of his mosque. I gathered my hair together and pressed my ear against the frond of the house’s wall and heard him say, ‘People, Allah has revealed, ‘Surely, men who surrendered and women who surrendered.. to the end of the verse.’” The hadith is also in Nasa’i (Ibn Kathir).
    81. Muslim is someone who comes into peace after having been at war (with his Creator), and who offers no resistance thereafter (to Allah’s commands) - Zamakhshari.
    82. Mu’min is someone who testifies to Allah, His Messenger, and all that demands testimony (Zamakhshari).
    The words, “Surely, men who surrendered and women who surrendered, believing men and believing women” writes Ibn Kathir demonstrate that Iman and Islam are two different realities. Allah said about Bedouin Arabs (49: 14):

    قَالَتِ الأَعْرَابُ آمَنَّا قُل لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَكِن قُولُوا أَسْلَمْنَا وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ

    “Said the Bedouins, ‘We believed.’ Say, ‘You have not believed, but rather, you have surrendered. Faith has not yet entered your hearts.’” And a hadith of the Sahihayn says,

    "لاَ يَزْنِي الزّانِي حِينَ يَزْنِي وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ." (الصحيحين)

    “A fornicator does not fornicate when he fornicates, while he is a believer.” Iman departs from him during the act. Nevertheless, by consensus he does not become an unbeliever. Thus, faith is more specific than surrender (Ibn Kathir).
    83. Qanit is someone who is actively engaged in obedience, all the time, consistently (Zamakhshari, Alusi).
    Ibn Kathir defines it as “obedience accompanied by complete comfort and tranquility of heart.”
    84. Sadiq is someone who is true of intentions, words and deeds (Zamakhshari).
    The Prophet (saws) has said, as recorded by Muslim,

    عَنْ عَبْدِ اللّهِ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: "إِنّ الصّدْقَ يَهْدِي إِلَىَ الْبِرّ. وَإِنّ الْبِرّ يَهْدِي إِلَىَ الْجَنّةِ. وَإِنّ الرّجُلَ لَيَصْدُقُ حَتّىَ يُكْتَبَ صِدّيقاً. وَإِنّ الْكَذِبَ يَهْدِي إِلَىَ الْفُجُورِ، وَإِنّ الْفُجُورَ يَهْدِي إِلَىَ النّارِ، وَإِنّ الرّجُلَ لَيَكْذِبُ حَتّىَ يُكْتَبَ كَذّاباً". (مسلم)

    “Hold fast to truthfulness, for truthfulness leads to virtues and virtues lead to Paradise. A man keeps speaking the truth until he is written as ‘the truthful.’ And lies lead to sinfulness, and sinfulness leads to the Fire. A man keeps speaking lies until he is written as ‘the liar’” (Ibn Kathir).
    85. Sabir is someone who is steadfast in obedience as well as in abstinence (from the unlawful) - (Zamakhshari).
    86. Khashi` is someone who is humble of heart and limbs (inwardly and outwardly) – Zamakhshari. It is also said that one is a Khashi` when he does not know who is on his right or left when he is in his Prayers (Alusi).
    87. Mutasaddiq is one who purifies his wealth through charity (Zamakhshari). A hadith in the Sahihayn speaks of seven that will be provided with shade when there will be no shade except Allah’s. Of them, one would be someone who spent without his left hand knowing what his right hand spent. Another hadith says,

    والصدقة تطفئ الخطيئة كما يطفئ الماء النار . رواه أبو يعلى ورجاله رجال الصحيح غير إسحاق بن أبي إسرائيل وهو ثقة مأمون

    “Charity extinguishes sins just like water extinguishes fire” (Ibn Kathir). Haythami traced it as in Abu Ya`la’s collection whose narrators are all those that Sahih collectors used, except for one, who was trustworthy anyway (Au.).
    88. Sa’im is someone who fasts ayyam al-bidh (3 days) of every month (Zamakhshari). This was the opinion of Sa`id b. Jubayr also.
    Fasts are, as the Prophet has said, Zakah of the body (Ibn Kathir).
    There is another possible connotation of the word “sa’im” as used in verse (19: 26),

    إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَنِ صَوْمًا

    “I have vowed a sawm for the All-merciful” meaning, I shall not speak to anyone.
    In the words of Asad, “The term sa’im, usually rendered as ”fasting", has here its primary connotation: “one who abstains [from anything]” or “denies to himself [anything] cf. 19:26, where the noun sawm denotes abstinence from speech.”
    89. Dhakirin are those who pass through no moment but are in remembrance of Allah - either in heart, or by the tongue, or both; or busy with recitation of the Qur’an or in search of knowledge (Zamakhshari).
    A hadith recorded in Ibn Abi Hatim, Abu Da’ud, Nasa’i and Ibn Majah says that if a man awakens his wife deep in the night and the two offer two cycles of prayers each, then that night they are written down as of those who “remember Allah much.”
    Another transmission in Ahmad says,

    عن أبي الدرداء قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: -ألا أنبئكم بخير أعمالكم؟ قال مكي: وأزكاها عند مليككم وأرفعها في درجاتكم وخير لكم من إعطاء الذهب والورق وخير لكم من أن تلقوا عدوكم فتضربوا أعناقهم ويضربوا أعناقكم؟ قالوا: وذلك ما هو يا رسول الله؟ قال: ذكر الله عز وجل.‏ (أحمد)

    “May I not tell you about the best of deeds, the most purifying with your Lord, greatest in raising your ranks, better for you than exchange of gold and silver between yourselves, that you meet your enemy tomorrow and they strike at your necks and you strike their necks?” They said, “Do tell us, Messenger of Allah.” He said, “Remembrance of Allah.” [It is of Hasan status: Haythami). Another hadith preserved by Ahmad records that upon being asked the Prophet said that it was that jihad, fasting, Hajj, Prayer and charity that were best, which were accompanied by remembrance of Allah (Ibn Kathir).
    To sum up: Islam is surrender while Iman is conviction. They are intricately related. On the simplest plain they are like the two faces of a coin. Devotion arises out of a proper combination of the two: Iman and Islam. Truthfulness is the most prominent quality of someone endowed with the two. A liar (as Sayyid notes) does not belong to Islam. While truthfulness is a permanent quality, patience and perseverance appear in times of crisis. They indicate the depth of conviction. But neither is truthfulness a mere principle to be strictly followed, nor patience and perseverance should be stoic. There is something else to them: it is khushu`: fear tempered with love. Fasts help strengthen the above qualities, as well as demonstrate one’s complete surrender: body and soul. Dhikr is the atmosphere in which a believer lives: at work, at home, in markets, or gatherings. He carries his own environment with him. It is that of dhikr (Au.).

    وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلَا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَمْرًا أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ ۗ وَمَنْ يَعْصِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا مُبِينًا (36)

    33|36| And, it was not for a believing man nor a believing woman that when Allah and His Messenger had decided a matter, there should be any choice for them in their affair;90 and whoever disobeyed Allah and His Messenger, surely strayed into a manifest error.91


    90. It is reported as cause of revelation that the Prophet sought Zaynab bint Jahsh’s hand for his freed slave Zayd b. Haritha – (who was then about 45 year old: Au.). She as well as her brother refused. She thought she was better than him in lineage, (because he was a freed slave: Au.). Another report says Umm Kulthum bint `Uqbah b. Abi Mu`ayt, who belonged to the earliest emigrants (after Hudaybiyya peace treaty: Sayyid) offered herself to the Prophet. He accepted her for Zayd which she accepted but not her homefolk who became angry and said they had initially agreed because they thought he was seeking her hand for himself. (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi).
    It is possible, writes Sayyid, that the Prophet arranged this marriage after Zayd had divorced Zaynab.
    (There were other freed slaves married to free women: Miqdad b. al-Aswad who married Daba`ah bint Zubayr, Salim who married Fatimah the daughter of `Utbah, and Bilal who was the husband of a sister of `Abdul Rahman b. `Awf (Qurtubi).
    In any case, ultimately Zaynab gave her consent and the Prophet married her off to Zayd offering, on his behalf, the following as bridal gift: 10 Dinars and 60 Dirhams as mahr, and, in addition, an outer shroud, a shirt and lower garment, a cloak, fifty measures of foodstuff and thirty measures of dates (Alusi).
    The marriage gifts to her were fabulous when compared to what the Prophet offered his own wives, or his daughters, which shows how much he was pleased with the match (Au.)
    There are two other reports in Ahmad recounted by Ibn Kathir. We take the version as in Haythami’s Majma` al-Fawa’id, Abu Bazrah Aslami says there was a man called Julaybib who, when he encountered women, was played off and made fool of. I told my wife, “Do not let him enter upon you. If you did, I’ll punish you in such and such a way.” Now, if the Ansar had a widow, they would not marry her off without consulting the Prophet in hope that he might marry her himself. One of those days the Prophet (saws) said to a man, “Give me your daughter’s hand.” He said, “Gladly. I am honored, Messenger of Allah, a blessing for the eye!” He said, “But not for myself.” He asked, “Then for whom, Messenger of Allah?” He said “For Julaybib.” The man said, “Let me consult her mother.” He went to her and said, “The Messenger of Allah asks for your daughter’s hand.” She said, “Yes, blessing for the eye.” He said, “He is not asking her hand for himself, but for Julaybib.” She reacted, “Is it Julaybib? Is it Julaybib? By Allah, we shall not give her in marriage.
    When the father got up to convey her refusal to the Prophet, the daughter asked her mother who it was who had proposed. Her mother told her who it was. She said, “Will you reject the Prophet’s proposal? Hand over my affair to him, he will not waste me away.” So the father went to the Prophet and told him what had happened. He said, “Get her ready,” and then married her off to Julaybib.
    Then, the Prophet went out in one of his campaigns. When Allah (swt) had given him victory, he said, “Do you miss anyone.” They said no. He said, “But to me Julaybib is missing." He told them, “Look for him.” They found him by the side of seven men he had killed before they killed him. They said, “Messenger of Allah, here he is, by the side of seven he killed before they killed him.”
    The Prophet went up to him and said, “He killed seven before he could be killed by them! He was of me and I am of him.” He said that twice or thrice. He took his head on his hands and he did not have a resting place but his hands until the grave was dug. Then he placed him in his grave.
    Thabit added, “Thereafter, there was not a widow among the Ansar who spent more than she did” (his widow).And Is-haq b. Abdullah b. `Abdullah b. Abi Talha reported Thabit that he said, “Do you know how was it that the Prophet prayed for her?” He said, “O Allah, pour on her pouring and do not make her life laborious.” (Shorter versions of the reports concerning Julaybib are in Ahmad, Muslim and Nasa’i). It is said that when she consented to the Prophet’s choice, Allah revealed, “And, it was not for a believing man, nor a believing woman (that) when Allah and His Messenger had decided a matter, there should be a choice for them in their affair” (Ibn Kathir).
    Allah saying that He did not send the angels but for sakinah, was meant to shift the faith of the believers from angels to Himself. He sent the angels only for their sake, otherwise He was sufficient for them.
    91. Sayyid adds his comments: The Prophet aimed to destroy the taboos of the pre-Islamic times and create a Muslim society whose members were to each other like the teeth of a comb, without anything to distinguish one from the other, except by piety. Before Islam, freed slaves were considered lower than the free. Zayd b. Haritha was one of them. The Prophet wished to establish complete social equality by marrying him to Zaynab, a proud Hashemite. He was starting reformation from his own home and his own clan.
    According to a report the Prophet himself went up to her and told her that he wished this union. She replied, “I am not going to marry him.” He insisted, “Of course you are going to.” She asked, “May I not consult myself?” According to other reports she said, “I am better than him in lineage.”
    While this was going on this verse was revealed, “It was not for a believing man nor a believing woman, that when Allah and His Messenger had decided a matter, there should be any choice for them in their affair...”
    "Whatever the case," writes Sayyid, "the verse established a rule that the first generation of Muslims accepted Islam wholeheartedly. The rule was none other than that they bend their will before Allah’s. This was the basic rule and the central principle of their lives. They realized that they, and all that they owned, belonged to Allah. He uses them as He wishes. He chooses for them what pleases Him. They are but a minor part of a large whole that He disposes as He will. He assigns them a role in the scheme of things. It is not they who choose their role. For, they do not know the whole scheme. If they are allowed to choose their role, they would choose otherwise, which would not fit into the scheme.
    Therefore, it was reasonable for the earliest Muslims to surrender themselves, fully and wholly, without withholding anything. This put them in harmony with the rest of the created world. They began to float like planets and stars: each in its orbit, playing out their roles, without slowing down or hastening – just in line with the rest of the celestial objects.
    This allowed them to accept in good cheer whatever came their way by Allah’s decree: neither hastily seeking the good, nor responding with grief to that which did not taste good. They waited for Allah’s decree to descend in the manner of someone habituated to it, never surprised or disappointed with whatever descended, nor did they try to hasten up the results. They just walked the distance in the company of Allah’s decrees, ending up where it ended. And they had no complaints, no regrets, no constriction, no pride, but always offering their best energies, wealth and efforts. They were dead sure that in this manner, they would be doing what Allah had willed, and that what Allah had willed would happen, and that every event is tied to a time and the final outcome has been designed and decreed.
    Nevertheless, despite realization of the above, they did their best, expending all that they owned, without wasting time, not withholding any effort, nor any means that could be employed. Yet, they did not try what they were not capable of, had no power for, trying to be supermen, and did not wish to be praised for what they were required to do, nor claiming to have done what they did not do.
    It was this balance between Allah’s decree, and the efforts of him who spent all the power that he possessed that produced the results. (It was also a fine balance between efforts and expectations). This was the balanced act that the mountains declared was beyond them and refused to bear."
    (Sayyid’s quote ends here).
    How strong and deep the feelings against freed slaves (mawali: sing. mawla) were, at the time of the Prophet can be judged from the following incident which took place within one hundred years after the Prophet’s demise. One of the mawali married a girl from the Banu Sulaym tribe. So, Muhammad b. Bashir – a Kharijite – traveled to Madinah to meet its governor Ibrahim b. Bishar b. Isma`il to complain of the marriage. The governor asked the mawla to present himself. When he came, he separated between the husband and wife, whipped the man a hundred lashes, and shaved his head, beard and eyebrows (“Duha al-Islam,” Muhammad Amin). Incidents of this kind and many others that history has recorded and which led to the struggle between the free and the former slaves (although many of good lineage) in the Abbasid state, tells us something about the level of reformation the Prophet achieved when he got a free woman married to a mawla (Au.).

    وَإِذْ تَقُولُ لِلَّذِي أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَأَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْسِكْ عَلَيْكَ زَوْجَكَ وَاتَّقِ اللَّهَ وَتُخْفِي فِي نَفْسِكَ مَا اللَّهُ مُبْدِيهِ وَتَخْشَى النَّاسَ وَاللَّهُ أَحَقُّ أَنْ تَخْشَاهُ ۖ فَلَمَّا قَضَىٰ زَيْدٌ مِنْهَا وَطَرًا زَوَّجْنَاكَهَا لِكَيْ لَا يَكُونَ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ حَرَجٌ فِي أَزْوَاجِ أَدْعِيَائِهِمْ إِذَا قَضَوْا مِنْهُنَّ وَطَرًا ۚ وَكَانَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ مَفْعُولًا (37)

    33|37| And when you were saying to him whom Allah had shown favor, and you had shown favor,92 ‘Retain your wife to yourself and fear Allah.’ You were concealing in yourself93 what Allah was to disclose.94 And, you were fearing the people although Allah had better right that you should fear Him.95 So, when Zayd had accomplished what he would of her,96 We gave her to you in marriage,97 so that there should not be any hindrance for the believers with regard to the wives of their adopted sons,98 when they have accomplished what they would of them. And, Allah’s command had to be fulfilled.

    92. The allusion is to Zayd b. Haritha. Allah (swt) had favored him by allowing him company of the Prophet and guiding him to Islam. Indeed, he was the earliest of believers. The Prophet (saws) had favored him by freeing him from slavery and then adopting him as his son. He was so close to him that he used to be referred to as “the beloved.” In fact, even his son Usama was referred to as “the beloved, the son of the beloved.” `A’isha said, in a report preserved by Ahmad, that, “Whenever the Prophet sent a group in campaign, he made him the leader if he happened to be among them; and that, had he remained alive, the Prophet would have surely declared him his successor” (Ibn Kathir).
    A brief account concerning Zayd is as follows. He belonged to the North Arabian tribe of Banu Kalb. He was taken captive as a child, bought by Hakim b. Hizam b. Khuwaylid at the Makkan market. He gifted him to her aunt Khadijah. Khadijah gifted him to the Prophet before he was commissioned. He freed him and declared him his son. One of those days Zayd’s uncle happened to be in Makkah. He looked hard at Zayd but was not too sure. He asked him, “What’s your name lad?” He answered, “Zayd.” He asked, “Whose son?” He said “Haritha.” He asked, “Whose son?” He answered, “Shurahbil Kalbi.” He asked, “What’s your mother’s name?” He answered, “Su`da; and I was with my maternal uncles in Tayy.” His uncle grabbed him and hugged him. He sent for his brother and others and they came. They asked him who his master was and were told that it was Muhammad ibn `Abdullah. So they went up to him and requested his release. He said, “Let him in. If he prefers you, you can take him.” When he came he asked him, “Do you know who these people are?” He said, “Yes. This is my father, this is my brother and this is my uncle.” The Prophet asked him, “What kind of man I was with you?” Zayd began to cry and asked, “Why do you ask that?” He replied, “I give you the choice. If you wish to go with them you are free. But if you decide to stay with me, then you know how I have been to you.” He said, “I am not going to choose anyone else.” His uncle pulled him and said, “Zayd! Do you prefer slavery to living with your father and uncle?” He said, “Yes, by God, if it is the slavery of Muhammad.” At that the Prophet said, “Bear witness that I will inherit him and he will inherit me.” Then onward he was always referred to as Zayd b. Muhammad until Allah revealed (33: 5), “Call them by their father’s names.” It is said that he used to attend Quraysh circles too. (When the Prophet sought Zaynab’s hand for him, he was already married with a lady called Umm Ayman, who had borne him Usamah: Asad). The Prophet had to find a match for Zaynab because she was one of the family, and husbandless (Au.).
    Scholars have pointed out that since Zayd lost the honor to be referred to as Zayd b. Muhammad, and felt quite aggrieved about it, Allah compensated him by registering his name in the Qur’an for Muslims to recite throughout history. No other Companion shares this honor with Zayd. (In the same vein we have another example. When the Prophet told Ubayy b. Ka`b that he had been ordered to listen to his recitation, he wept and asked, “Have I been named?”) Zayd died in the Mutah encounter along with Ja`far and `Abdullah ibn Rawaha. They led the Muslim force in that battle and gained martyrdom one after another (Qurtubi).
    93. Ibn Jarir documents Qatadah’s strange opinion, seconded by none, to the effect that although the Prophet was exhorting Zayd to retain Zaynab, he was (secretly) wishing that he should divorce her. He records another freakish report by Ibn Wahab (who was not a Companion) to the effect that once the Prophet went to Zayd’s house and, as he stood at the door, a waft of wind played with the curtain, and he saw Zaynab with her face uncovered. (According to a version of Muqatil b. Hayyan, he saw her in a single gown, with no other apparel on: Qurtubi). She pleased him and the thought came to him that he should marry her. Qatadah’s opinion is obviously weak, for, if the Prophet had to play double games, he would have played them on his adversaries at Makkah and Madinah. It is apparent from his life and character that he was artless, straight-forward and upright, who never said something that he did not mean. As for Ibn Wahab’s story, he does not state the source of his story. By the criteria set by Hadith scholars such reports belong to the trash. Hence no commentator ever took notice of them. The reports are incongruous too. Zaynab was closely related to the Prophet. They were from the same extended family. (She was a daughter of Umaymah, who was a daughter of `Abd al-Muttalib, the Prophet’s grandfather; that is, a maternal cousin: Shabbir). He must have been seeing her all the time, right from childhood, including in recent times since hijab commandments were revealed a few months after her separation from Zayd. We might, however, remind ourselves that it was the habit of the earliest Muslim scholars to faithfully report everything they received, leaving it to the listeners to conduct their own research if they so wished, and accept or reject what they reported. So, Qatadah reported what he heard: whatever his source. But none of the major commentators such as Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Sa`id b. Musayyib, Sa’id ibn Jubayr or their students have said anything of this sort (Au.).
    Alusi adds: Qadi `Iyad has similarly discounted the narrative of Ibn Wahab as a story spun for ears with a taste for gossip. In fact, there are a few more. One of them says that after his visit when the Prophet was returning, Zayd met him on the way who heard him say words that he couldn’t make out. When he went home and was told by Zaynab of the Prophet’s visit, he smelled something. He went back to him and said, “Apostle of Allah. Why did you not enter my house in my absence? Maybe you would have liked Zaynab, and I would have divorced her.” According to another story, Alusi continues, Zayd met the Prophet in the street and found him saying words of glorification to Allah. When he went home and learnt of the Prophet’s visit to his house, he guessed that Zaynab must have entered his heart (hence the glorification). So he told Zaynab, “Why should I not divorce you so that the Prophet can marry you?” She replied, “I fear you will divorce me but he will not marry me.” (Apart from contradiction between the various versions, an important element is missing: Who was it of the Companions who had accompanied the Prophet to Zayd’s house to report what had happened? As for glorification, was there a time when the Prophet was not glorifying Allah, chanting His greatness, and seeking forgiveness? Finally, if Zayd had ever discovered in the Prophet any propensity for such behavior, he would have long back packed and joined his northern tribe - Au.).
    None the less, one of the contemporary commentators has added his own “little bit” to the stories. He asserts that it was Zaynab who was in love with the Prophet since long, but had suppressed it and married Zayd simply because of the Prophet’s insistence. These additions tell us how predisposed ears are to spicy stories (Au.).
    Ibn Kathir discounts the above as well as a few others that he says the earlier scholars have transmitted, but through undependable chain of narrators.
    Ibn al-`Arabi has pointed out that the Prophet saw Zaynab morning and evening. Why did he not fall in love with her until she had spent a few months with Zayd?
    The explanation that `Ali b. al-Husayn (Zayn al-`Abidin) offered is that (the Prophet, after having compelled Zaynab to marry Zayd) learned through Revelation that he would be required to marry Zaynab. But he felt quite uncomfortable about it, fearing people’s comments that he married his adopted son’s former wife. Therefore, when Zayd went to him complaining that Zaynab mistreated him, spoke to him roughly, humiliated him, and so on, he advised him to fear Allah and retain his wife (so that he may not have to marry her if she was divorced). So Allah said, “You were concealing in yourself what Allah was to reveal,” that is, the fact that you will be required to marry her if she is divorced. “And, you were fearing the people although Allah had better right that you should fear Him,” that is, you should have paid no attention to the expected criticism of the people – in this case, the hypocrites. This, writes Qurtubi, is the right explanation which most commentators, such as Zuhri, Qadi Bakr b. `Ala al-Qushayri, Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabiyy and others have accepted. Hakeem Tirmidhi has stated in his Nawadir al-Usul that this is a gem of an explanation from `Ali b. Hussain. And Nuhhas said, adds Qurtubi, that the Prophet was at no fault for concealing the news in his heart that he might be asked to marry Zaynab. This can be deduced from the fact that Allah did not direct the Prophet to seek forgiveness, nor censured him in any other way.
    `A’isha is reported in major Hadith works that if the Prophet could conceal anything of the Revelation, he would have concealed this one, “You were concealing in yourself what Allah was to reveal. And, you were fearing the people although Allah had better right that you should fear Him. So, when Zayd had accomplished what he would of her, We gave her to you in marriage” (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    On the topic under discussion, Abdullah al-`Ati’s note, made in his “Family Structure in Islam” should be of some interest:
    “This story (of the reported circumstances of the Prophet’s marriage to Zaynab) is exciting, embarrassing, and extremely doubtful if not altogether incredible. It is exciting because it has stirred many critical comments and accusations by Western writers as well as counter accusations and comments by Muslim writers. It is embarrassing because a great many scholars have labored tirelessly to build a case for or against the person of Muhammad in order to confound truth with legend, innocently or otherwise, or to disentangle the one from the other. It is even more embarrassing to the social scientist who wants to choose between the sociological and the physio-psychological explanation.
    "Choosing the former is closer to the norms of social science and usually promises a greater explanatory potential. But in this particular case, it may displease the conventional students of Islam who are in the habit of looking at everything related to Islam as divine, super-social, and above criticism, and also those who tend to view the builders of the Islamic system as socially insensitive distorters and the system itself as lax aberration.
    “The story itself may be partly apocryphal, since it is not reported in the early sources. The Qur’an relates only the essential facts. It tells of Zaynab’s reluctance to marry Zayd, and of the strained domestic life of the couple. In this version Muhammad exhorts Zayd to keep his wife and to be mindful of Allah – an admonition motivated by Muhammad’s fear of the people’s expected reaction to the dissolution of a marriage which he had encouraged. "Significantly, the Qur’an criticizes the Prophet’s motive and reminds him to fear God’s displeasure, rather than that of the people.
    “The Qur’anic story concludes with Zayd’s divorce of Zaynab and her lawful re-marriage to Muhammad. Observers who examine the story in its social context find it incredible and suggest, according to Watt, that it ‘must be taken with a grain of salt.’ The story contains too many elements which do not accord with better verified circumstances: Muhammad’s life style, character and career, his community role and age at the time, his continued relations with both Zaynab and Zayd, before as well as after their unsuccessful marriage; Zaynab’s advancing age; the long institutionalization of adoption; finally, Muhammad’s sensitivity to his contemporaries’ censure – all such considerations cast doubt on the story of a passionate stroke of love. Aside from the credibility or incredibility of the story itself, it is unlikely that an age-old social institution like adoption, could be abrogated for such transient personal motives” (p. 25-26, American Trust Publications).
    94. Allah promised that He would reveal what the Prophet was concealing. So, Allah’s revelation should determine what it was that the Prophet was concealing: whether it was his love for Zaynab or it was his fear that Allah will oblige him to take Zaynab as his wife? The revelation informed us, although implicitly, that it was the latter, through words: “So, when Zayd had accomplished what he would of her, We gave her to you in marriage” (Rawa’i`).
    95. `Ali b. Husayn said that Allah had informed the Messenger that ultimately Zaynab would be his wife (Ibn Jarir).
    Thanwi’s comment might be noted: This directive applies to cases where a religious need is affected. If it is not affected, but rather, there is fear of commotion among the people, then, one might make note of it and not blindly disregard the people’s criticism. A case in point is the intended reconstruction of the Ka`ba, to include the Hatim, but the idea was ultimately abandoned because it was legitimately feared that it would lead to fitnah among the laity. This is not the kind of fear of the people that is likely to be censured.
    96. One of the implications of the words is, “when Zayd had no desire left in him for her.”
    97. `Abdullah b. Jahsh reported that when `A’isha and Zaynab debated each other’s position with reference to the Prophet, Zaynab would say, “And I was married to him up in the heavens” (Ibn Jarir). The report is also in Bukhari (Ibn Kathir).
    Muslim, Nasa’i and Imam Ahmad recorded the following details. It speaks volumes about the faith and trust between the Prophet and Zayd. Anas b. Malik said, “When Zaynab had been through her waiting period, the Prophet told Zayd b. Haritha (her former husband), "Go to her, and give her my proposal." He went up to her house and found her fermenting dough. When he saw her, as he himself said, “I was filled with awe,” (because she was going to be the Prophet’s wife). He reported, “I could not dare tell her that the Prophet wished to take her as a wife. So, I showed my back to her turning on my heels. I said, ‘Zaynab! The Prophet has sent his word to you.’ She replied, ‘I am not going to do anything of this sort without seeking to know my Lord’s wish.’ Then she stood up in her Prayer-corner. But revelation came down and the Prophet entered into her house without seeking her permission (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    98. In pre-Islamic times an adopted son was treated as real with all the implications that went with such relationship. But Allah did not approve of real-time effects on relationship of such false premise. So He married his adopted son’s former wife to the Prophet in order to leave no prejudice in the hearts of the believers against any such relationship. Such a measure was necessary in view of the custom being so deeply rooted (Ibn Kathir).
    The implication of this piece is clear: It was not to appease the Prophet that he was given Zaynab in marriage, but rather to establish a rule (Razi).
    Mawdudi adds: The deep rooted custom of treating an adopted son as real son, would have continued even if commandment declaring such a relationship as null and void had been sent down. Since no Prophet was to follow, Allah made His last Prophet to break the taboo, once and for all, most forcefully, to kill the custom and bury it in the sand.
    This ayah places the doubtist into a tight spot. If he believes that the Prophet authored the Qur’an, then, what purpose did the ayah serve him when it said, “And you were concealing in yourself what Allah was to reveal. And, you were fearing the people although Allah had better right that you should fear Him”?

    مَا كَانَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ مِنْ حَرَجٍ فِيمَا فَرَضَ اللَّهُ لَهُ ۖ سُنَّةَ اللَّهِ فِي الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِنْ قَبْلُ ۚ وَكَانَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ قَدَرًا مَقْدُورًا (38)

    33|38| There could be no inconvenience for the Prophet in what Allah imposed on him: the way of Allah with those who went earlier;99 and Allah’s command was a decree determined.100

    99. The allusion could be to the ways of the Prophets of past in matters of multiple wives: Da’ud and Sulayman are cases in point who had several wives (Kashshaf, Qurtubi), or could have a general import as pointed out by Asad, who writes, “the prophets who preceded Muhammad, in all of whom, as in him, all personal desires coincided with their willingness to surrender themselves to God..”
    100. That is, Allah’s decree had to come to pass. Nothing could have prevented it or averted it. What He wills, takes place, and what He does not will, does not happen (Ibn Kathir). That is, way back before the creation, it had been decreed that the Prophet should marry Zaynab (Au.).
    Imam Razi has an interesting note on Qada’ wa Qadr. Qada’ is that which is originally intended. Qadr on the other hand is that which occurs as its consequence, but not the purpose for which the command was originally promulgated. It is similar to a man traveling to a town. We can refer to his primary purpose as the Qada’. On the way he enters into a village (and might meet with an evil therein: Au.). This entry is by the Qadr that he had not intended as the primary purpose of the journey. Qada’ is always good, while all that is evil in the world is by (Allah’s) Qadr.
    But this requires some more thought and reconciliation. The Prophet said in the famous Hadith Jibril, “You should believe in Qadr: the good of it and the bad of it” (Au.).

    الَّذِينَ يُبَلِّغُونَ رِسَالَاتِ اللَّهِ وَيَخْشَوْنَهُ وَلَا يَخْشَوْنَ أَحَدًا إِلَّا اللَّهَ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ حَسِيبًا (39)

    33|39| Those who deliver Allah’s messages, and fear Him, and fear none other than Allah,101 - and sufficient is Allah as a Reckoner.

    101. (That should be the way believers should conduct themselves: fearless of any criticism and unmindful of the consequences: Au.). We have a hadith in Ahmad on the authority of Abu Sa`id al-Khudri. The Prophet said,

    عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ؛ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: لاَ يَحْقِرْ أَحَدُكُمْ نَفْسَهُ. قَالُوا: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ! كَيْفَ أَحَدُنَا نَفْسَهُ؟ قَالَ (يَرَى أَمْراً، للهِ عَلَيْهِ فِيهِ مَقَالٌ، ثُمَّ لاَ يَقُولُ فِيهِ. فَيَقُولُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ، لَهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ: مَا مَنعَكَ أَنْ تَقُولَ فِي كَذَا وَكَذَا؟ فَيَقُولُ: خَشْيَةُ النَّاسِ. فَيَقُولُ: فَإِيَّايَ. كُنْتَ أَحَقَّ أَنْ تَخْشَى (ابن ماجة: في الزوائد: إسناده صحيح رجاله ثقات)

    “Let not one of you belittle himself in that he sees a commandment of Allah (that is being ignored) and which needs to be spoken against, but he does not say it. Allah will say (on Judgment Day), ‘What prevented you that you should speak out?’ He will reply, ‘My Lord, I feared the people.’ He will reply, ‘I had greater right to be feared.’” The report is also in Ibn Majah and `Abdul Razzaq’s (Musannaf) – Ibn Kathir.
    The above version is from Ibn Majah whose transmitters were trusted by Haythami.

    مَا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَا أَحَدٍ مِنْ رِجَالِكُمْ وَلَٰكِنْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا (40)

    33|40| Muhammad is not the father of any of your men,102 but Messenger of Allah and Seal of the Prophets.103 And ever was Allah of all things knowing.

    102. Although the Prophet had sons, they all died in their infancy and so the description is accurate: he was “not the father of any of your men” (Ibn Jarir), but rather a spiritual father of his followers (Asad).
    The ayah makes a statement as well as predicts the death in infancy of the Prophet’s future son Ibrahim, through Mariyah. She was a slave girl gifted to him by the Muqawqis of Egypt two or three years after the revelation of this verse. The Prophet’s earlier sons too, through Khadijah – Qasim, Tayyib and Tahir – had already died at Makkah in their infancy (Au.).
    Thanwi, himself a Sufi, offers a rejoinder to the pseudo-Sufis among whom it is common that the Sheikh is regarded as the spiritual father, and one of the upshots is that a woman-disciple does not observe hijab in his presence. This, warns Thanwi, is unacceptable. The Prophet was a true spiritual father of the Ummah, yet he observed the rules.
    103. If it is asked, how could Muhammad be the final Prophet when he himself predicted that `Isa (asws) will appear at the end of times? The answer is that (`Isa was commissioned earlier than Muhammad: Ibn Kathir) his personal tenure is over. When he comes again, it will be as a follower of the Shari`ah brought by our Prophet (Kashshaf, Shafi` and others).
    Finality of the Prophet
    It might be noted that Allah did not say, “Khatam al-Rusul,” but rather “KhatamunNabiyyin.” KhatamunNibiyyin denies that there should be any rasul thereafter, for, every rasul is a nabiyy, but every nabiyy is not a rasul. The deduction, in view of the fact that a nabiyy is a lower order envoy than rasul, is that denial of the advent of any nabiyy is a greater denial of the advent of any rasul. There are numerous ahadith on the topic of our Prophet being the seal of the Prophets. One in Ahmad has Ubay b. Ka`b reporting his father that the Prophet (saws) said,

    عَن الطّفَيْلِ بنِ أُبَيّ بنِ كَعْبٍ عَن أَبِيهِ أَنّ رَسُولَ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: "مَثَلِي في النّبِيّينَ كَمَثَلِ رَجُلٍ بَنَى دَاراً فأحْسَنَهَا وأَكْمَلَهَا وَجَمَلَهَا وَتَرَكَ مِنْهَا مَوْضِعَ لَبنَةٍ، فَجَعَلَ النّاسُ يَطُوفُونَ بالبِناء ويَعْجَبُونَ مِنْهُ، وَيَقُولُونَ لَوْ تَمّ مَوْضعُ تِلْكَ اللّبِنَةِ وأَنَا في النّبِيّينَ بِمَوْضِعُ تِلْكَ اللّبِنَةِ".. . وَبِهَذَا الإِسْنَاد عَن النبّي صلى الله عليه وسلم قالَ: "إذَا كانَ يَوْمُ القِيَامَةِ كُنْتُ إِمَامَ النّبِيّينَ وَخَطِيبَهُمْ وَصَاحِبَ شَفَاعَتِهِمْ غَيْرَ فَخْرٍ". (قال أبو عيسى: هَذا حديثٌ حَسَنٌ صحيحٌ غريب.‏)

    “My example among the Prophets is like that of a man who built a house, and did it well, complete and beautiful. However, he left the space of a single brick blank. So the people started going around the house admiring it but remarking, ‘Only if this blank space of a brick could be filled!’ Lo! Among the Prophets I am that brick.”
    On the same authority, the Prophet also said, “On the Judgment day I shall be the leader of the Prophets, their speaker, and one to intercede – but no pride (in that).”
    Tirmidhi declare it Hasan Sahih. The Sahihayn also have a similar version in their collections. Another report in Ahmad is on the authority of Anas. The Prophet said,

    حدثنا أَنَسُ بنُ مَالِكٍ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "إِنّ الرّسَالَةَ وَالنّبُوّةَ قَدْ انْقَطَعَتْ فَلاَ رَسولَ بَعْدِي وَلاَ نَبيّ. قَالَ فَشَقّ ذَلِكَ عَلَى النّاسِ فَقَالَ: لَكِنْ المُبَشّرَاتِ. فَقَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ الله وَمَا المُبَشّرَاتُ، قَالَ رُؤْيَا المُسْلِمِ وَهِيَ جُزْءٌ مِنْ أَجْزَاءِ النّبُوّةِ". (قال الترمذي: هذا حديثٌ حسنٌ صحيحٌ غريبٌ)

    “Messengership and Prophethood have terminated. So, there will be no Messenger, nor a Prophet after me.” The narrator added, “That sounded a bit hard on the people. So he added, ‘Except for good tidings.’ They asked, ‘What are good tidings O Messenger of Allah?’ He answered, ‘A Muslim’s dreams. It is part of Prophethood.’ Tirmidhi declared it Hasan, Sahih, Gharib. (Meaning: through one chain of narration it is Gharib, but Sahih through another chain, while Gharib through a third chain: Au.).
    Muslim and Tirmidhi have also documented that the Prophet said,

    عن أبي هُرَيرَةَ أنَّ النَّبيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيهِ وسَلَّم قال: فُضِّلتُ على الأنبياءِ بستٍّ: أعطيتُ جوامعَ الكلمِ ونصرتُ بالرُّعبِ وأحلَّتْ لي الغنائمُ وجُعلتْ ليَ الأرضُ مسجداً وطهوراً وأرسلتُ إلى الخلقِ كافَّةً وخُتمَ بي النَّبيُّونَ (هذا الحَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ).‏

    “I have been given preference over other Prophets in six things: I have been given short and meaningful words, I have been helped through awe, booty has been made lawful for me, (bare) earth has been made a place of prostration and a means of cleanliness, I have been sent to the entire mankind, and (the series of) Prophets was terminated with me.”
    A report preserved by Ahmad says,

    "إني عند الله لخاتم النبيين وإن آدم لمنجدل في طينته" (أحمد)

    “I was the seal of the Prophets with Allah, while Adam lay in dust.”
    Zuhri has been recorded (in the Sahihayn: H. Ibrahim) as reporting,

    عَنِ الزّهْرِيّ. سَمِعَ مُحَمّدَ بْنَ جُبَيْرِ بْنِ مُطْعِمٍ عَنْ أَبِيهِ أَنّ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: "أَنّا مُحَمّدٌ. وَأَنَا أَحْمَدُ. وَأَنَا الْمَاحِي الّذِي يُمْحَىَ بِيَ الْكُفْرُ. وَأَنَا الْحَاشِرُ الّذِي يُحْشَرُ النّاسُ عَلَىَ عَقِبِي. وَأَنَا الْعَاقِبُ" (مسلم)

    “I have several names: I am Muhammad, I am Ahmad, I am Mahi (the Eraser) who will erase unbelief, I am Hashir, (the Gatherer) after whom Allah with gather the people (on Judgment Day), and I am `Aqib (the last after whom there will be no Prophet)” - Ibn Kathir.
    On the other hand, continues Ibn Kathir, those who stood up as false prophets, carried their own signs of falseness. They were utmost in falsehood, lies and immorality in all that they said or did, e.g., Musaylimah the Liar of Ymamah or Al-Aswad al-Ansi of Yemem. In contrast, Prophets were utomost in righteousness, truthfulness, wisdom, uprightness and justice in all that they said or did.
    Mufti Shafi`, who has a whole book on the topic, adds the following here. The Prophet (saws) said,

    عَنِ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم. قَالَ: "كَانَتْ بَنُو إسْرَائِيلَ تَسُوسُهُمُ الأَنْبِيَاءُ، كُلّمَا هَلَكَ نَبِيّ خَلَفَهُ نَبِيّ، وَإنّهُ لاَ نَبِيّ بَعْدِي. وَسَتَكُونُ خُلَفَاءُ فَيكْثُرونُ" (صحيحين)

    “Children of Israel were led by prophets. Whenever a prophet died, another followed him. However, there will be no prophet after me. But there will be rightly guided caliphs: many of them.”
    The report is in the Sahihayn and other collections.
    In his book, Al-Iqtisad fi al-I`tiqad, Imam Ghazzali has also stressed on this point and has said that whoever tries to interpret the verse in any other way is speaking the kind of junk that demands that he be declared unbeliever because the Ummah has reached consensus over the issue of the finality of the Prophet’s Messengership. Qadi `Iyad has expressed similar opinions in his Shifa’.

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ ذِكْرًا كَثِيرًا (41)

    33|41| O you who have believed, remember Allah with much remembering.104

    104. Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah have recorded through Abu Darda’ the Prophet as having said,

    "أَلاَ أُنَبّئُكُمْ بِخَيْرِ أعمَالِكُمْ وأزْكَاها عِنْدَ مَلِيكِكُمْ وأَرْفَعِهَا في دَرَجَاتِكُمْ وَخَيْرٍ لَكُمْ مِنْ إِنْفَاقِ الذّهَبِ وَالْوَرِقِ وَخَيْرٍ لَكُمْ مِنْ أنْ تَلْقَوْا عَدُوّكُمْ فَتَضْرِبُوا أَعْنَاقَهُمْ وَيَضْرِبُوا أعْنَاقَكُمْ؟ قالُوا بَلَى، قالَ ذِكْرُ الله تَعَالَى"

    “Should I not tell you about the best of deeds, purest with Your Lord, highest in your ranks, better than that you be given gold and silver, and better than that you meet your enemy and you sever their necks and they sever your necks?” They asked, “What is it Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “Allah’s remembrance.”
    Another report of Ahmad, which Tirmidhi declared Hasan Gharib, has it that,

    عن عبد الله بن بسر يقول: -جاء أعرابيان إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال أحدهما يَا رَسُولَ الله أَيّ النّاسِ خَيْرٌ؟ قَالَ مَنْ طَالَ عُمُرهُ وَحَسُنَ عَمَلُهُ. وقال الآخر يا رسول الله إن شرائع الإسلام قد كثرت عليَّ فمرني بأمر أتثبت به فقال لا "يزال لسانك رطبا بذكر الله عز وجل".‏

    “Two Bedouins came to the Prophet. One of them said to him, ‘Messenger of Allah? Who is the best of the people?’ He answered, ‘He who lived long and whose deeds were righteous.’ The other said, ‘Messenger of Allah. Islamic laws are many upon us. So, tell me something to which I can hold fast.’ He replied, ‘Let your tongue be wet with the remembrance of Allah.’”
    Imam Ahmad recorded the Prophet’s following words,

    عن أبي سعيد: -عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال أكثروا ذكر الله حتى يقولوا مجنون.‏ (وفيه دراج وقد ضعفه جماعة، وضعغه غير واحد، وبقية رجال أحد إسنادي أحمد ثقات: الهيثمي).‏

    “Mention Allah so much in His remembrance that the people begin to say, ‘Crazy.’” (Haythami said that of the two narratives in Ahmad, one has a good chain except for one narrator, declared weak by many: Au.).
    Another report is from Tabarani whose status could not be checked. It says:

    عن بن عباس قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أذكروا الله ذكرا يقول المنافقون إنكم تراؤون

    "Mention Allah so much that the hypocrites begin to say that you are trying to show off.”
    Yet another report in Ahmad reports the Prophet as having said,

    وعن عبد الله بن عمرو قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "ما من قوم جلسوا مجلساً لم يذكروا الله فيه إلا رأوه حسرة يوم القيامة". (رواه أحمد ورجاله رجال الصحيح: الهيثمي).‏

    “No people who got together in an assembly, in which they did not remember Allah, but will see it (as a source of) regret on the Day of Judgment.” (Haythami declared it as with a chain of narration of Sahih works: Au.).
    Interpreting this verse, Ibn `Abbas remarked: “Allah did not declare any devotion as obligatory but placed a limit for it. Further, He allowed them excused in difficult situations. But not dhikr. He did not set any limit for it: a point at which it could be terminated, unless someone is overcome by circumstances. He said (4: 103),

    فَاذْكُرُواْ اللّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَى جُنُوبِكُمْ (النسآء – 103)

    ‘Remember Allah, standing, sitting and on your sides.’ It is to be done at night and day, on land and sea, while journeying and at home, in wealth and poverty, during health and illness, in open and in secret – in all situations and every circumstance. If you do this, He will send peace on you and angels will pray for you" (Ibn Kathir).

    وَسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا (42)

    33|42| And glorify Him morning and evening.

    هُوَ الَّذِي يُصَلِّي عَلَيْكُمْ وَمَلَائِكَتُهُ لِيُخْرِجَكُمْ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ ۚ وَكَانَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَحِيمًا (43)

    33|43| He it is who confers blessing on you, and His angels (also),105 to bring you out from darknesses into light; and He was ever Kind upon the believers.106

    105. Peace by the angels implies their prayers for men’s forgiveness. Allah said elsewhere (40: 7-9),

    الَّذِينَ يَحْمِلُونَ الْعَرْشَ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهُ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَيُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنوا رَبَّنَا وَسِعْتَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ رَّحْمَةً وَعِلْمًا فَاغْفِرْ لِلَّذِينَ تَابُوا وَاتَّبَعُوا سَبِيلَكَ وَقِهِمْ عَذَابَ الْجَحِيمِ رَبَّنَا وَأَدْخِلْهُمْ جَنَّاتِ عَدْنٍ الَّتِي وَعَدتَّهُم وَمَن صَلَحَ مِنْ آبَائِهِمْ وَأَزْوَاجِهِمْ وَذُرِّيَّاتِهِمْ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ وَقِهِمُ السَّيِّئَاتِ (غافر: 7-9)

    “Those who bear the `Arsh and those that are around it, chant praises of their Lord. They believe in Him and seek forgiveness for those who have believed (saying), ‘Our Lord! You have encompassed everything with mercy and knowledge.’ Therefore, forgive those who repented and followed Your path, and save them from the punishment of the blazing fire. And, Our Lord, admit them into the gardens of `Adn that You have promised those who reformed: of their parents, their spouses, and their offspring. Verily, You are the Mighty, the Wise. And, save them from the evils’” (Qurtubi in parts, Ibn Kathir).
    106. (The Companions were not blind followers, in the manner of the Western and Eastern masses following their leaders blindly: Au.). Imam Ahmad reports,

    عن أنس قال: مر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ونفر من أصحابه وصبي في الطريق، فلما رأت أمه القوم خشيت على ولدها أن يوطأ، فأقبلت تسعى وتقول: ابني ابني، وسعت فأخذته فقال القوم: يا رسول الله ما كانت هذه لتلقي ابنها في النار، قال: فخفضهم (وهوّن عليهم الأمر) النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وقال: "ولا الله يلقي حبيبه في النار".(رواه أحمد والبزار ورجالهما رجال الصحيح: الهيثمي).‏

    Once the Prophet and a few Companions were passing by when a child tried to cross the street. When his mother noticed it, she feared his trampling and rushed forward crying out, ‘My child! My child.’ She hurried down and snatched it away. The Companions asked, ‘Messenger of Allah. This woman is not expected to throw her child into a fire!? The Prophet comforted them by saying, ‘No by Allah, He will not cast His beloved into the Fire.’" The report meets with the requirements of Bukhari and Muslim although none of the six preserved it. (Haythami regarded its transmitters as trustworthy: Au.). Nevertheless, a report in Bukhari says that
    ??????????
    once the Prophet saw a prisoner woman picking up her lost child and squeezing it to her bosom and breast-feeding it. He remarked, “By Allah, Allah is kinder than this woman is upon her child” (Ibn Kathir).

    تَحِيَّتُهُمْ يَوْمَ يَلْقَوْنَهُ سَلَامٌ ۚ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا كَرِيمًا (44)

    33|44| Their greeting the day they meet Him will be ‘peace;’ and He has prepared for them a noble reward.

    يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ شَاهِدًا وَمُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا (45)

    33|45| O Prophet! We have sent you indeed as a witness,107 a bearer of glad tiding and a warner.108

    107. Witness:
    The Prophet was a witness over this Ummah in this life, and will be over all other nations on the Day of Judgment (Razi and others).
    Some misguided people have conjectured that since the Prophet is alive in his grave, he witnesses the deeds of his followers. This is refuted by the hadith in major collections that on the Day of Judgment some people will come to him at the Pond but will be pulled away by the angels. He will protest,

    يَا رَبّ أَصْحَابِي. أَصْحَابِي. فَيُقَالُ: إِنّكَ لاَ تَدْرِي مَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ

    “My Lord, my companions, my companions.” He will be told, “You do not know what they did after you.”
    How then can “shahid” be interpreted as one who watches over the deeds of his followers? Further, there is no contradiction between our position and the reports that tell us that this Ummah’s deeds are presented to the Prophet on weekly basis. Such presentation, it might be noted, is of deeds, as a whole, and not of those who perform them so that he can know who does what (Alusi).
    Shahid in fact carries several possible implications. One of them could be in the sense of the Prophet verbally and practically testifying to the truth of the Message he had brought (Mawdudi).
    Yusuf Ali has the following commentary: “The Prophet was sent by Allah in five capacities. Three are mentioned in this verse, and the other two in the verse following. (1) He comes as a Witness to all men about the spiritual truths which had been obscured by ignorance or superstition, or by the dust of sectarian controversy. He did not come to establish a new religion or sect. He came to teach Religion. He is also a witness to Allah about men’s doings and how they receive Allah’s Message: see iv. 41 and n. 560. (2) He comes as a bearer of the Glad Tidings of the Mercy of Allah. No matter how far men may have transgressed, they have hope if they believe, repent, and live a good life. (3) He also comes as a Warner to those who are heedless. This life will not last. There is a Future Life, and that is all- important.. The two other capacities in which the Prophet was sent are here specified. (4) He comes as one who has a right to invite all men to repentance and the forgiveness of sins: but he does this, not of his own authority, but by the permission and authority given to him by Allah. This is said lest people may deify the Prophet as they did with other Prophets before him. The personal responsibility of each individual remains, but the Prophet can lead him on the Right and help him. (5) The Prophet also comes as a Light or a Lamp (Siraj) to illuminate the whole world. In lxxi. 16 and elsewhere the same word (Siraj) is used for the sun. The comparison is apt. When the sun appears, all the lesser lights pale before its light. And the Message of Islam, i.e., of the Universal Religion, is to diffuse Light everywhere.”
    108. Bukhari and Imam Ahmad preserved the following: `Ata ibn Yasar met with `Abdullah `Amr ibn al-`As and asked him to describe the Prophet as described in the Tawrah. `Abdullah said,

    عَنْ عَطَاءِ بْنِ يَسَارٍ قَالَ لَقِيتُ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عَمْرِو بْنِ الْعَاصِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا قُلْتُ أَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ صِفَةِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ قَالَ أَجَلْ وَاللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لَمَوْصُوفٌ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ بِبَعْضِ صِفَتِهِ فِي الْقُرْآنِ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ شَاهِدًا وَمُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا وَحِرْزًا لِلأُمِّيِّينَ أَنْتَ عَبْدِي وَرَسُولِي سَمَّيْتُكَ المتَوَكِّلَ لَيْسَ بِفَظٍّ وَلا غَلِيظٍ وَلا سَخَّابٍ فِي الأَسْوَاقِ وَلَا يَدْفَعُ بِالسَّيِّئَةِ السَّيِّئَةَ وَلَكِنْ يَعْفُو وَيَغْفِرُ وَلَنْ يَقْبِضَهُ اللَّهُ حَتَّى يُقِيمَ بِهِ الْمِلَّةَ الْعَوْجَاءَ بِأَنْ يَقُولُوا لا إِلَهَ إِلا اللَّهُ وَيَفْتَحُ بِهَا أَعْيُنًا عُمْيًا وَآذَانًا صُمًّا وَقُلُوبًا غُلْفًا (البخاري)

    “Such qualities have been described of the Prophet in Tawrah as a few of which are also in the Qur’an. It says, "O Prophet, We have indeed raised you as a witness, a bearer of glad tiding, a warner, and a savior of the unlettered. You are My slave and Messenger. I have named you Mutawakkil: neither harsh nor severe, neither noisy in the markets nor one responding to evil with evil; but rather someone who overlooks and forgives. Allah will not deal him death until a crooked people have been straightened up by saying ‘there is no deity save Allah.’ Thus he will open blind eyes, deaf ears, and closed hearts" (Ibn Kathir).
    Bukhari has a similar report at another place but where he names `Abdullah b. Salam as the person who was asked, which sounds more accurate since it was `Abdullah ibn Sallam (a former Jew: Au.), who knew the Torah (Shawkani). It is possible that `Abdullah b. `Amr heard from `Abdullah ibn Salam, since, in either case, this is not a statement of the Prophet (Au.).

    وَدَاعِيًا إِلَى اللَّهِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَسِرَاجًا مُنِيرًا (46)

    33|46| And a caller to Allah by His leave,109 and a bright lamp.110

    109. A Prophet’s call is not like an invitation by an ordinary person. The words “by His leave” imply that he has the authority of Allah with him. His call is the call of Allah and opposition or rebellion to it is opposition and rebellion to Allah (Mawdudi).
    110. Another possible rendition of “sirajan-munira” is “an illuminating lamp” (Au.).
    The word “muniran” has been added to the lamp because there can be lamps that do not burn (Kashshaf, Qurtubi). The words could connote an “ever burning, radiant lamp” (Au.).
    The point to note is, says Razi, that the Prophet (saws) was not likened to a sun although brighter than it. It is because the sun does not lighten up other bodies as does a lamp which allows for other lamps to borrow light from it.
    Nuhhas reported through his own chain of narrators that Ibn `Abbas said, “When this verse was revealed, the Prophet asked for `Ali and Mu`adh ibn Jabal (who were being sent to Yemen). He instructed the two, "Go - and give glad tiding, and do not make it difficult. This night it was revealed to me, ‘O Prophet! We have sent you indeed as a witness, a bearer of glad tiding and a warner’" (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    The report has been declared weak by Haythami (S. Ibrahim), but, because of circumstantial evidences, has been treated as trustworthy by jurisconsults (Au.).

    وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ بِأَنَّ لَهُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ فَضْلًا كَبِيرًا (47)

    33|47| And give glad tiding to the believers, that for them is from Allah a great bounty.

    وَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقِينَ وَدَعْ أَذَاهُمْ وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا (48)

    33|48| And follow not the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and disregard the annoyance from them; place your trust in Allah; Allah suffices as a Disposer (of affairs).

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نَكَحْتُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ثُمَّ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ تَمَسُّوهُنَّ فَمَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ عِدَّةٍ تَعْتَدُّونَهَا ۖ فَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ وَسَرِّحُوهُنَّ سَرَاحًا جَمِيلًا (49)

    33|49| Believers! When you wed believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them,111 then there is no waiting period that you have to count against them.112 But make provision for them and release them in a goodly manner of release.113

    111. Figuratively, “muss” of the text is for intercourse (Au.).
    Accordingly, (two) of the Imams said that there can be no divorce before marriage. Imam Abu Hanifah however maintained that if a man said, “If I marry such and such a woman, or a group of them, they are divorced” then they would stand divorced as soon as he married them. But if he said, “So and so that I am marrying is divorced” then divorce will not take effect (Alusi). [There is a complicated explanation justifying the two opinions which might be seen in Ruh al-Ma`ani: Au.]. Imam Malik also allowed this, but on certain conditions. (Qurtubi). [`Umar, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, Ibrahim Nakha`i, Mujahid, `Umar ibn `Abdul `Aziz, and a few others also held a similar view. Further, the meaning of a man saying, “If I marry you, you will be divorced” is that he intends to divorce her upon marriage.” Such a statement will take its effect: Mawdudi). Ibn `Abbas held an opinion opposed to this opinion. In fact, a hadith is also quoted to the effect. It says,The Prophet said,

    عنْ عَمْروِ بنِ شُعَيْبٍ، عنْ أبِيهِ، عنْ جَدّهِ قالَ: قالَ رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم "لا نَذْرَ لاِبنِ آدمَ فِيمَا لاَ يَمْلِكُ، ولاَ عِتْقَ لَهُ فِيمَا لاَ يَمْلِكُ، ولاَ طَلاَقَ لَهُ فِيمَا لاَ يَمْلِكُ" (قال أبو عيسى: حدِيثُ عَبْدِ الله بنِ عَمْروٍ حدِيثٌ حسنٌ صحيحٌ)

    “There is no vowing for the son of Adam for what he does not own, there is no freeing of (a slave) he does not own, and there is no divorce right for him in what he does not own.” It is in Ahmad, Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah (Ibn Kathir).
    [Ibn Kathir notes that it is weak, although Tirmidhi himself declared it Hasan Sahih. But it seems some others have also thought that it is weak: Au.]. Albani thought the hadith is trustworthy (S. Ibrahim). Ibn Mas`ud also believed that a woman could be divorced before marriage (Shawkani).
    112. As a matter of context, it is reported in Bukhari that the Prophet married Maymunah bint Sharahil. When he entered upon her she brought her hand out, as if disapproving (his approach, or in defense). The Prophet ) left the room immediately, and ordered Abu Usayd to equip her, accompany her back (to her people), and give her two striped cloaks as gift (Ibn Kathir).
    Some reports say she sought Allah’s refuge from him and he said, “You have sought the refuge of the Great,” and released her. Yet other reports say (Shabbir) that she did not realize who he was and remained remorseful for the rest of her life (Au.).
    There are various reports on this issue in other books of hadith, biography and history. Ibn Hajr deals with them. One version says that Sa`d b. al-Nu`man b. Jawn al-Kindi (an important figure of the northern region) came to the Prophet as a Muslim and (apart from other things) suggested, “Should I not offer you in marriage the most beautiful of widows (or a previously married woman) of the Arab world?” He accepted and Sa`d sent the woman. (She was previously married to a highly placed man of her distinguished tribe). The Prophet sent Abu Usayd to fetch her, who brought her and housed her in one of the forts of Madinah (probably because of her prominent position in her tribe). Neighborhood women began visiting her and speaking of her beauty as they came out. However, as the Prophet entered upon her, the incident, as in Bukhari, took place, and she was sent away with gifts. Details differ from report to report. It is evident, that in keeping with his habit of not saying “no” to anyone, the Prophet married her when requested by a tribal chief, but was too sensitive to keep a woman who sought Allah’s refuge, even if unknowingly (Au.).
    Considering the legal aspect involved in the verse, there is no difference in opinion, writes Ibn Kathir, that the “no waiting period” rule is for a situation when a woman is divorced before consummation - she can marry another man immediately – but it does not apply to the situation of death of a husband. If a man dies, before consummation of marriage, his wife has to still observe a waiting period (`iddah) of four months and ten days.
    And, according to the Hanafiyyah, the pair being together alone in a closed quarters (dukhul) entails the law of consummation (Shabbir).
    113. Sa`id b. al-Musayyib has been reported as saying that this verse abrogates verse 236 of al-Baqarah (which said):

    لاَّ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِن طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاء مَا لَمْ تَمَسُّوهُنُّ أَوْ تَفْرِضُواْ لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً وَمَتِّعُوهُنَّ عَلَى الْمُوسِعِ قَدَرُهُ وَعَلَى الْمُقْتِرِ قَدْرُهُ مَتَاعًا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُحْسِنِينَ (البقرة – 236)

    “There is no sin upon you that you (should) divorce women you have not touched, nor have settled a dower upon them, (in which cases nothing is due from you). However, bestow (gifts) on them: upon the well-to-do according to his resources while upon the straitened according to his resources - a gift (made) in an honorable manner, due from those who (prefer to) do things well)” – Ibn Jarir.
    But, it might be noted that the main theme of the above verse (of al-Baqarah) is dower rules, which are not abrogated (Au.).

    يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَحْلَلْنَا لَكَ أَزْوَاجَكَ اللَّاتِي آتَيْتَ أُجُورَهُنَّ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُكَ مِمَّا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكَ وَبَنَاتِ عَمِّكَ وَبَنَاتِ عَمَّاتِكَ وَبَنَاتِ خَالِكَ وَبَنَاتِ خَالَاتِكَ اللَّاتِي هَاجَرْنَ مَعَكَ وَامْرَأَةً مُؤْمِنَةً إِنْ وَهَبَتْ نَفْسَهَا لِلنَّبِيِّ إِنْ أَرَادَ النَّبِيُّ أَنْ يَسْتَنْكِحَهَا خَالِصَةً لَكَ مِنْ دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۗ قَدْ عَلِمْنَا مَا فَرَضْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ فِي أَزْوَاجِهِمْ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ لِكَيْلَا يَكُونَ عَلَيْكَ حَرَجٌ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا (50)

    33|50| O Prophet, We have indeed made lawful to you your wives114 to whom you have given their dowers,115 as (also) those that your right hand owns out of (the captives) that Allah has given you as spoils of war. (Also lawful to you are) your daughters of your paternal uncle,116 daughters of your paternal aunts, daughters of your maternal uncle, daughters of your maternal aunts117 of those that migrated with you,118 as also any believing woman – if she bestows herself to the Prophet,119 and if the Prophet wishes to marry her, exclusively for you,120 apart from the believers.121 We know what We have enjoined on them touching their wives122 and those their right hands own - that there may not be any inconvenience upon you. And, Allah was ever Forgiving, Compassionate.

    114. The intrigue in the verse is removed if we consider the fact the Prophet had nine wives at the time of revelation of this verse, while, ordinary believers were allowed only four (Au. with a point from Ma`arif). However, if it can be demonstrated that the Prophet did have nine wives at the time this verse was revealed – a point of contention - then it will have to be considered as a later revelation (Au.).
    The dower of the Prophet’s wives used to be around twelve and a half awqiyyah, or, roughly, 500 Dirham (silver coins), except for Umm Habihah the daughter of Abu Sufyan whose dower was paid by Najashi (at Abyssiniah) and which happened to be 400 Dinar (gold coins). Safiyyah bint Huyayy was another exception, for she was taken from the captives of Khayber. The Prophet freed her, and treated her freedom as her dower when he married her; which was also the case with Juwayriyyah, who had entered into a freedom pact with Thabit b. Qays al-Shammas. The Prophet paid the amount the two had agreed to, to him, and married her in return (Ibn Kathir).
    115. The words, “whom you have given them their dowers,” states a fact rather than a rule. The Prophet had paid all his wives their dowers, in preference of keeping any debt on himself. The revelation acknowledges this, and says by implication that this is the correct way of doing things (from Shafi`).
    Although both partners in marriage are bound to receive equal satisfaction and enjoyment from each other, but in view of women’s natural weakness, and their exploitation by man throughout the ages, Islam has protected women in a variety of ways. One of them is “dower.” It is unique to Islam. In all other systems, either the woman pays out at marriage, or equally shares the costs. By using the word – as here - “ujur” (sing. ajr: wages), instead of the usual “mahr” (dower), the implication seems to be that since males take advantages of women in a variety of ways, the dower turns out to be, in reality, not a gift, but “wages” for the services she offers, and the exploitation she is subjected to (Au.).
    116. Although the form “`ammika” and “khalika” is singular, the meaning is plural. This is how the Arab usage is (Mufti Shafi`).
    117. This is the middle path. The Christians approve of only those matches where the two are genealogically at least seven lines apart. On the other hand, the Jews allow marriage between a man and his neice (uncle-nephew) – Ibn Kathir.
    Ibn Kathir’s observation will surprise many Christians of today who marry almost anyone. There are occasional cases of brother-sister marriages defended in the courts of law.
    118. (Although) a report says that the Prophet wished to marry Umm Hani bint Abu Talib, but who declined on grounds that she had not migrated along with him to Madinah, Dahhak used to say that the words, ‘of those who emigrated with you,’ are not a conditional clause to exclude believing women in general and allow daughters of paternal and maternal uncles and aunts alone who migrated (Ibn Jarir). The report however, as in Tirmidhi, concerning Umm Hani, is declared weak by Ibn al-`Arabiyy (the jurist) - Qurtubi.
    Also, the opinion of Ibn `Abbas and Ubay b. Ka`b was that this verse actually placed a limit on the number of wives the Prophet could have. He was not to add upon those that he had already married. He could although, if he wished, take captives of wars (Ibn Jarir).
    119. It is believed that this was revealed in reference to Maymunah bint al-Harith who had gifted herself to the Prophet. (It is reported [through unchecked chains: Au.], that sometime in the seventh year after hijrah, she came to the Prophet on a camel and said, “This camel and what is upon it is for Allah and His Messenger”: Alusi). Some others have also been named such as Umm Shurayk and Zaynab bint al-Khuzaymah – the well-known Umm al-Masakin (Ibn Jarir). But none of these reports could be checked for their authenticity (Au.).
    Imam Ahmad reports the following: Sahl b. Sa`d reported that,

    عن سهل بن سعد: أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم جاءته امرأة فقالت: -يا رسول الله إني قد وهبت نفسي لك فقامت قياما طويلا فقام رجل فقال: يا رسول الله زوجنيها إن لم يكن لك بها حاجة فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم هل عندك من شيء تصدقها إياه فقال: ما عندي إلا إزاري هذا فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إن أعطيتها إزارك جلست ولا إزار لك فالتمس شيئا فقال: ما اجد شيئا فقال: التمس ولو خاتما من حديد فالتمس فلم يجد شيئا فقال له النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم هل معك من القرآن شيء قال: نعم سورة كذا وسورة كذا السور يسميها فقال له النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: قد زوجتكها بما معك من القرآن.‏

    A woman came (into one of the Prophet’s assemblies) and said, “Messenger of Allah. I have gifted myself to you.” Thereafter she stood waiting for quite a while (without the Prophet answering her. This is because the Prophet never said no to any request made to him. Perhaps he waited for someone else to respond: Au.). Thereupon a man got up and said, ‘Messenger of Allah, will you give her to me in marriage, if you do not wish to have her?’ He asked him, ‘Do you have something to offer her as a (marriage) gift?’ He said, ‘I have nothing beyond this single cloak that is on me.’ The Prophet said, ‘If you gave away your cloak, you will sit back without a cloak on you. Go and look for something.’ He said, ‘I have nothing else.’ He told him, ‘Search, even if it is an iron ring.’ He (went away and) searched but could not find anything. So the Prophet asked him, ‘Do you have anything of the Qur’an with you?’ (That is, have you memorized any of it?). He said yes and named a couple of chapters. He told him, ‘I give her to you in marriage in return of what is with you of the Qur’an’ (Ibn Kathir).
    That is, the man was supposed to teach the woman what he knew of the Qur’an as marriage gift (Au.).
    Apparently, she was looking for a husband, and so decided she could begin with the Prophet himself. This is evident from the fact that she did not react negatively to the Prophet’s suggestion that another man, although a pauper, marry her (Au.).
    Imam Ahmad also reports hearing Thabit saying, “I was with Anas while one of his daughters was with him. Anas said, ‘A woman came to the Prophet and said, “Messenger of Allah, do you have any need of me?” Anas’ daughter interrupted, ‘How immodest she was?!’ Anas retorted, ‘She was better than you. She liked the Prophet and so presented herself to him.’” Bukhari also has this report in his Sahih (Ibn Kathir).
    There is yet another case of a woman who proposed to the Prophet. (It is in Ahmad, and Haythamiyy approved its narrators: Au.):

    عن أنس أن امرأة أتت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقالت: يا رسول الله ابنة لي كذا وكذا ذكرت من حسنها وجمالها أتربك بها قال: "قد قبلتها" فلم تزل تمدحها حتى ذكرت أنها لم تصدع ولم تشتك شيئاً قط. قال: "لا حاجة في ابنتك". (رواه أحمد وأبو يعلى ورجاله ثقات: الهيثمي).‏

    A woman went to him and described her daughter’s beauty, good manners, and so forth, and informed him that the girl had decided to gift herself to him. The Prophet said, “I accept her.” The woman continued praising her daughter until she said, “She has never been sick. In fact, she never suffered even a headache.” The Prophet said, “I have no need of her” (Ibn Kathir).
    Reports suggest that the Prophet thought she was not pious enough to have ‘never fallen sick.’ The pious undergo trials of various kinds, and are, therefore, prone to sicknesses (Au.).
    120. Qurtubi notes from Bukhari `A’isha’s opinion that it was Khawlah bint Hakim who had actually gifted herself to the Prophet. Ibn Kathir conjectures that perhaps she can be identified with Umm Hakim. Bukhari has a report which reports `A’isha as saying,

    كُنْتُ أَغَارُ عَلَى اللاتِي وَهَبْنَ أَنْفُسَهُنَّ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَأَقُولُ أَتَهَبُ الْمَرْأَةُ نَفْسَهَا فَلَمَّا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى تُرْجِئُ مَنْ تَشَاءُ مِنْهُنَّ وَتُؤْوِي إِلَيْكَ مَنْ تَشَاءُ وَمَنْ ابْتَغَيْتَ مِمَّنْ عَزَلْتَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكَ قُلْتُ مَا أُرَى رَبَّكَ إِلا يُسَارِعُ فِي هَوَاكَ (البخاري)

    ‘I used to feel jealous of women who had gifted themselves to the Prophet until Allah revealed, “You may defer any of them you wish, or receive to yourself whom you wish.’ When this verse was revealed, I said to him, ‘It appears as though your Lord hastens to follow your desires’” (Qurtubi). However, Ibn Kathir adds that the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, as in Ibn Abi Hatim, and of Yunus b. Bukayr as in Ibn Jarir, was that although women who offered themselves to him were not few, the Prophet did not accept any of them. Though given the license by Allah, he did not use it since Allah had given him the choice by saying, “If the Prophet so wishes.”
    At this point Ibn Kathir lists down the number of wives or women the Prophet ever had. They were thirteen in all. Six were from the Quraysh: Khadijah, `A’isha, Hafsah, Umm Habibah, Sawdah, Umm Salamah, Zaynab bint Jahsh, Zaynab bint Khuzaymah (also known as Umm al-Masakin: Mother of the Destitute), Safiyyah bint Huyayy, Juwayriyyah bint al-Harith, Maymuna bint al-Harith (who had gifted herself to him), a woman from Banu Bakr who opted for this world and separated when given the choice, and the woman from Jawn who was sent away by the Prophet because she sought refuge from him. He also possessed two slave girls: Rayhana bint Sham`un al-Nadariyyah, and Mariyah the Copt.
    Of the two slaves, one opted to become a Muslim: Rayhana.
    Maymuna is a disputed figure, and so is the Banu Bakr woman. The woman of Jawn is also not worth counting. the total works out to eleven, including Rayhana. Out of these, Zaynab bint Khuzaymah died in the Prophet’s own life-time and so he left nine when he died, or ten including Rayhana (Au.).
    Two classes from among the Westerners have relentlessly criticized the Prophet, down to this day, for having had plural wives: the priestly class who represent the religious, and the so-called intellectuals who represent the secular. One of the Christian priests referred to the Prophet as a pedophile. It is ironic, and perhaps befitting, that in recent years the clergy has been discovered so deeply embroiled in pedophile scandals that at one time a Dutch in Holland spat in the face of a nun in the street. Around two dozen priests – some holding high positions - have been implicated in USA alone. Pre-modern church history is not very bright either. As for the secular, they have been brought down to such levels by their leaders that today the only way a woman can satisfy her natural desires is by paying to her boy friend, since for millions of them there is no hope of ever getting married. While these lines are being written news is out that in France (which has banned scarves worn by Muslim girl students in schools), a group of 66 men and women have been hauled to the court for pedophilic activities involving 45 children, some as young as two years old. A Christian priest who debated with a renowned scholar of our time, Ahmad Deedat, was caught red-handed with a harlot.
    Allah’s punishment comes upon those who bear animosity towards His Revelation, although it takes time (Au.).
    121. Accordingly, it is disallowed that any woman should say to a man, “I have gifted myself to you,” for her to become his wife. It has to be considered a marriage proper where dower is stated and the guardian accords his approval (Ibn Jarir).
    122. To the effect that they cannot have more than four wives at a time (Mujahid) and that no marriage can take place without dower, approval of the custodian and the presence of two witnesses (Qatadah) – Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir.

    تُرْجِي مَنْ تَشَاءُ مِنْهُنَّ وَتُؤْوِي إِلَيْكَ مَنْ تَشَاءُ ۖ وَمَنِ ابْتَغَيْتَ مِمَّنْ عَزَلْتَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكَ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَنْ تَقَرَّ أَعْيُنُهُنَّ وَلَا يَحْزَنَّ وَيَرْضَيْنَ بِمَا آتَيْتَهُنَّ كُلُّهُنَّ ۚ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَلِيمًا (51)

    33|51| You may put off123 any of them you wish,124 or receive to yourself whom you wish.125 And, there is no blame on you to have set aside any (of them) you wished.126 That is likelier to cool their eyes, they do not grieve, and are all satisfied with what you give them.127 Allah knows what is in your hearts.128 And Allah was ever Knowing, Clement.

    123. The textual word “turji” could also be rendered as “set aside.”
    124. That is, the Prophet (saws) was given the right to keep himself away from anyone of his wives, not giving her, her due time and attention, without divorcing her, if she agreed to the arrangement (Ibn Jarir). This was the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Hasan and a few others, although Sha`bi believed that this was applicable to those women alone who had gifted themselves to the Prophet (Ibn Kathir).
    125. The widely accepted meaning is that the Prophet was given the choice to divide his time between his wives as he wished. He could stay away from some, giving greater time to others (Ibn Jarir).
    The above is supported by `A’isha’s report in Bukhari which says that if the Prophet wished to stay away a night from one of those women whose turn it was, he would seek her leave. To the question by the narrator regarding what answer she gave when he sought her permission to stay away, `A’isha replied, “Well. I used to say, ‘If the matter rests with me, then I do not approve of anyone given preference over me’” (Ibn Kathir).
    An equitable division of time is obligatory on those of his followers who have more than one wife. They must spend the night with them, even if one of them is undergoing her monthly course. He should not also make them share a quarter if they do not agree to such an arrangement. Mu`adh ibn Jabal for example, would not even drink water from the house of one whose turn it was not. When two of his wives died in plague, he drew a lot to determine which of the two was to be let down first into her grave (Qurtubi).
    126. That is, come to an agreement with any of his wives that instead of divorcing her, if he wished, she could remain his wife, for the honor, and not marry anyone after him (Ibn Jarir).
    It is reported that this was the arrangement with Sawdah. When told that he wished to divorce her, she said she preferred to remain his wife, even if she received no time from him (Au.).
    127. That is, having known that the arrangements with them had the approval of Allah, they would remain satisfied, uncomplaining, and not worrisome over what was going to happen next (Au.).
    In the words of Shah `Abdul Qadir, with which Shabbir combines his own comments, and to which we add our own words, “As against common believers, who are required to divide their time equitably between their various wives, the Prophet was freed from any such binding. It is another thing that he divided his time meticulously between them. Impunity from any such binding, however, by the command of Allah, helped his wives to understand that primarily and basically, they had no such rights to make. This led to satisfaction with whatever they received and helped rid themselves of daily concerns over what they got or what they lost. Assured, on the other hand, of the relationship of permanence with the Prophet, in this world and the Next, by the previous passage forbidding the Prophet to divorce them, they could cause no anxiety to the Prophet at the home front, which could affect his concentration on affairs pertaining to the progress of his mission, or, conversely, turn their own attention as his mission-companions from the lofty to the mundane. Hence Allah’s words, ‘That is likelier to cool their eyes, they do not grieve, and are all pleased with what you give them.’”
    128. That is, Allah knows the preference that you keep in your heart for one wife over another. Accordingly, as reported by `A’isha, in a narrative of Ahmad,

    عن عائشة قالت: كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقسم بين نسائه فيعدل قال عفان ويقول هذه قسمتي ثم يقول اللهم هذا فعلي فيما أملك فلا تلمني فيما تملك ولا أملك.‏

    “The Prophet used to eqitably divide his time between his wives and then say, ‘This is the best that I can do. Do not blame me for what You have the power (O Allah), but over which I do not have the power.’”
    The report, also documented by the other four of the six collectors, has good chain of narrators (Ibn Kathir).
    Mawdudi adds that in this passage a warning was hidden for the Prophet’s wives: if they concealed any unhappiness in their hearts Allah would know it, as He would know if any of his Companions harbored any criticism, however slight, for he taking several wives.

    لَا يَحِلُّ لَكَ النِّسَاءُ مِنْ بَعْدُ وَلَا أَنْ تَبَدَّلَ بِهِنَّ مِنْ أَزْوَاجٍ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكَ حُسْنُهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُكَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ رَقِيبًا (52)

    33|52| Not lawful unto you are (any other) women after this,129 nor is it for you to replace (any of) them for (other) wives,130 even if their beauty pleased you,131 except those your right hand owns. And ever is Allah over all things Watchful.

    129. According to Ibn Abbas, this ayah placed the limit on the number of wives the Prophet could have. After he had given them the choice to separate if they wished, but they had chosen Allah and His Messenger, he was not to marry anyone (over those he had at the time of revelation of this verse), as reward to his wives for their choice. However, others have thought that he could, if he wished, marry other women, such as those specified here in the passage (Ibn Jarir).
    This was also the opinion, writes Ibn Kathir, of Ubay b. Ka`b, Mujahid, `Ikrimah and Dahhak, Abu Saleh, Hasan and Qatadah. There have been other opinions too. The preferred opinion, adds Ibn Kathir, which was also roughly the opinion of Ibn Jarir, is that the Prophet was not to replace the nine he had at that time, nor add over them. The rule however, was in general terms, pertaining to the nine as a whole, which did not mean he could not divorce anyone of them. In fact, he had at one time divorced Hafsa, but took her back on `Umar’s appeal, as stated in trustworthy reports. He had also separated himself from Sawdah, giving her no conjugal rights, though retaining her as his wife, on her request.
    That said, it is apparent from reports of `A’isha and Umm Salamah, that this rule was subsequently abrogated and the Prophet was allowed to marry any other woman, although, he did not exercise this permission. Ahmad has a report – as also Tirmidhi (who declared it Sahih) and Nasa’i - from `A’isha - which says,

    قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ "ما ماتَ رَسُولُ اللَّه صَلَّى اللَّه عليهِ وسَلَّم حتَّى أُحلَّ لهُ النسَاءُ" (قال الترمذي : هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ).‏
    “The Prophet did not leave this world but Allah had made other women lawful to him.” A similar report comes from Umm Salamah through Ibn Abi Hatim (Ibn Kathir).
    130. Although this is not the reason why this verse was revealed, nor does Ibn Jarir accept that such a practice existed, Qurtubi and others note that wife swapping was practiced in pagan days, and, even though the report, as in Bazzar is treated as da`if, it might still be presented to press the point about perversion of the Jahiliyy times. Zamakhshari, Razi and Qurtubi presented it in their works. It is said that `Uyayna b. Hisn al-Fizari entered into the Prophet’s house without seeking permission. The Prophet remonstrated, “What about permission?” He replied, “Since the time I am conscious of things, I never sought anyone of the Mudar tribe’s permission to enter upon him. Who is this bright woman next to you anyway?” The Prophet told him that it was his wife `A’isha. He suggested, “May I not give you in exchange my own much prettier wife?” The Prophet told him, “Allah has forbidden it.” Ibn Kathir remarks however that the report is not trustworthy.
    Nevertheless, it still reflects the culture of the time and the place women occupied in that social set up. It might also be pointed out that reports confirm instances of wife swapping in some cultures of our times, although on temporary basis, as also indirect arrangements that work to everyone’s satisfaction, while everyone pretends to be ignorant of what really is going on (Au.).
    Nevertheless, the above ayah does not imply that the Prophet could not divorce any of them if he so wished. Abu Ya`la has a report which Ibn `Umar reports:
    دخل عمر على حفصة وهي تبكي فقال لها: ما يبكيك؟ لعل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم طلقك إنه قد كان طلقك مرة ثم راجعك من أجلي والله لإن كان طلقك مرة أخرى لا كلمتك أبداً. رواه أبو يعلى والبزار ورجال أبي يعلى رجال الصحيح كذلك رجال البزار.‏

    `Umar entered upon Hafsa and found her weeping. He asked, “What makes you weep? Perhaps the Prophet has divorced you. He had indeed divorced you earlier but took you back because of me. By Allah, if he divorces you again I shall never speak to you” (Ibn Kathir).
    The above report draws the commentary from Haythami that its chain is of reliable narrators (Au.).
    131. Although the Companions have reported (though it is not a Prophetic statement), that the Prophet enjoyed sexual strength of forty men, as also the Prophet’s own frank statement to the effect that women had been made lovable to him, the purpose of this particular clause seems to be to impress on the minds of the believers the complete humanness of the Prophet. What man, of any age, in fact, what woman, is not moved by women’s beauty? The Prophet could have been thought to be an exception to the rule - simply because of the fact that he was the raised one. This clause works at this correction deep down at the psychological level, for, this thought lingering there, weakens a man’s resolution to imitate (Au.).

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَدْخُلُوا بُيُوتَ النَّبِيِّ إِلَّا أَنْ يُؤْذَنَ لَكُمْ إِلَىٰ طَعَامٍ غَيْرَ نَاظِرِينَ إِنَاهُ وَلَٰكِنْ إِذَا دُعِيتُمْ فَادْخُلُوا فَإِذَا طَعِمْتُمْ فَانْتَشِرُوا وَلَا مُسْتَأْنِسِينَ لِحَدِيثٍ ۚ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكُمْ كَانَ يُؤْذِي النَّبِيَّ فَيَسْتَحْيِي مِنْكُمْ ۖ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَسْتَحْيِي مِنَ الْحَقِّ ۚ وَإِذَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُنَّ مَتَاعًا فَاسْأَلُوهُنَّ مِنْ وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَطْهَرُ لِقُلُوبِكُمْ وَقُلُوبِهِنَّ ۚ وَمَا كَانَ لَكُمْ أَنْ تُؤْذُوا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَلَا أَنْ تَنْكِحُوا أَزْوَاجَهُ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ أَبَدًا ۚ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكُمْ كَانَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ عَظِيمًا (53)

    33|53| Believers! Do not enter the Prophet’s houses except that you should be given leave for a meal, without waiting for its preparation. But when you are invited, enter. Then, when you have eaten, disperse, without seeking to remain for conversation. Surely, that was inconvenient to the Prophet but he is shy of you. But Allah is not shy of the truth.132 And when you ask them for anything, ask them from behind a curtain.133 That is purer for your hearts and their hearts.134 And it is not for you to cause pain to the Prophet,135 nor that you should ever marry his wives after him.136 Surely, that would be, in Allah’s sight, an enormity.

    132. There are several reports explaining the context of revelation. One of them is narrated by Anas b. Malik. He said, as in a report in Bukhari, with a few details from other sources placed in brackets,

    عن أَنَسُ بْنُ مَالِكٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ أَنَّهُ كَانَ ابْنَ عَشْرِ سِنِينَ مَقْدَمَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْمَدِينَةَ فَكَانَ أُمَّهَاتِي يُوَاظِبْنَنِي عَلَى خِدْمَةِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَخَدَمْتُهُ عَشْرَ سِنِينَ وَتُوُفِّيَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَأَنَا ابْنُ عِشْرِينَ سَنَةً فَكُنْتُ أَعْلَمَ النَّاسِ بِشَأْنِ الْحِجَابِ حِينَ أُنْزِلَ وَكَانَ أَوَّلَ مَا أُنْزِلَ فِي مُبْتَنَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بِزَيْنَبَ بِنْتِ جَحْشٍ أَصْبَحَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بِهَا عَرُوسًا فَدَعَا الْقَوْمَ فَأَصَابُوا مِنْ الطَّعَامِ ثُمَّ خَرَجُوا وَبَقِيَ رَهْطٌ مِنْهُمْ عِنْدَ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَأَطَالُوا الْمُكْثَ فَقَامَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَخَرَجَ وَخَرَجْتُ مَعَهُ لِكَيْ يَخْرُجُوا فَمَشَى النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَمَشَيْتُ حَتَّى جَاءَ عَتَبَةَ حُجْرَةِ عَائِشَةَ ثُمَّ ظَنَّ أَنَّهُمْ خَرَجُوا فَرَجَعَ وَرَجَعْتُ مَعَهُ حَتَّى إِذَا دَخَلَ عَلَى زَيْنَبَ فَإِذَا هُمْ جُلُوسٌ لَمْ يَقُومُوا فَرَجَعَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَرَجَعْتُ مَعَهُ حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ عَتَبَةَ حُجْرَةِ عَائِشَةَ وَظَنَّ أَنَّهُمْ خَرَجُوا فَرَجَعَ وَرَجَعْتُ مَعَهُ فَإِذَا هُمْ قَدْ خَرَجُوا فَضَرَبَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَهُ بِالسِّتْرِ وَأُنْزِلَ الْحِجَابُ

    Anas b. Malik said that he was ten years old at the time the Prophet arrived at Madinah. “My mothers used to urge me to serve the Prophet. So I served him ten years so that I was twenty when he died. And, I know better than anyone when the Hijab (commandment) came down. The first thing that came down in connection with the Prophet’s marriage to Zaynab b. Jahsh was that the Prophet invited people to dinner (on the occasion of bringing in Zaynab bint Jahsh. I went around inviting everyone I came across). They ate (and after the dinner was over, most) people dispersed except for a few who remained with the Prophet. They lengthened the stay (conversing in a corner of the house while Zaynab sat on the other side, with her face to the wall). The Prophet stood up and I left with him hoping that they would leave. He began to stroll around, myself with him, up to the house of `A’isha (and other wives. One of them would greet him and say, ‘How did you find your new wife?’ According to some reports he would greet them first). Then he thought they had left, so he went back, myself with him. But when he entered, he found they were still sitting, not having got up. So the Prophet went back again (he was an extremely modest person), and I went back with him so far as the house of `A’isah. Then he returned, and myself with him. He found that they had left. But, as I tried to enter, he threw the curtain between me and him. (He went in alone) and (the commandment concerning) Hijab was sent down” (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    The reports are in Bukhari, Muslim and in several other collection (Ibn Kathir).
    133. This demonstrates, writes Qurtubi, that despite the fact that the whole of a woman is `Awrah (requiring covering) including her voice, in times of need she might interact with men from behind a curtain.
    It is reported that once the Prophet was having dinner with someone - with `A’isha as the third. During the partaking, `A’isha’s hand touched that of the other man. (According to a report in Ibn Abi Hatim, the man was `Umar, and it were fingers that touched each other). The Prophet was somewhat displeased and this verse was revealed. Yet another reason cited is that `Umar used to tell the Prophet, “The good and the evil, all kinds of people enter upon you. I wish you could ask your wives to remain in hijab,” and this verse was revealed (Ibn Jarir).
    Another report about `Umar is in the Sahihayn. It is as follows: He said,

    قَالَ عُمَرُ بْنُ الْخَطَّابِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ وَافَقْتُ رَبِّي فِي ثَلَاثٍ فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ لَوْ اتَّخَذْنَا مِنْ مَقَامِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ مُصَلًّى فَنَزَلَتْ وَاتَّخِذُوا مِنْ مَقَامِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ مُصَلًّى وَآيَةُ الْحِجَابِ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ لَوْ أَمَرْتَ نِسَاءَكَ أَنْ يَحْتَجِبْنَ فَإِنَّهُ يُكَلِّمُهُنَّ الْبَرُّ وَالْفَاجِرُ فَنَزَلَتْ آيَةُ الْحِجَابِ وَاجْتَمَعَ نِسَاءُ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي الْغَيْرَةِ عَلَيْهِ فَقُلْتُ لَهُنَّ عَسَى رَبُّهُ إِنْ طَلَّقَكُنَّ أَنْ يُبَدِّلَهُ أَزْوَاجًا خَيْرًا مِنْكُنَّ فَنَزَلَتْ هَذِهِ الآيَةُ (الصحيحين)

    “I concurred with my Lord on three occasions. First, when I suggested that the Prophet take the Station of Ibrahim (as a place for Prayers). Allah revealed, ‘And take (O believers) Station of Ibrahim (as a place) for Prayer.’ Second, I said to the Prophet, ‘Messenger of Allah, good and evil, all kinds of people enter upon you, so, if you could ask your wives to observe hijab.’ Allah revealed verses concerning hijab. And (some) of his wives got together because of their jealousy (against a wife of his) so I said to them, ‘If he divorced you all, Allah would replace you with those better than you,’ and Allah revealed this verse” (Ibn Kathir).
    There are other reports which say that `Umar disapproved of the Prophet’s wives leaving their houses at all. Once he spotted Sawdah. Although well-clad, he recognized her from her size: she was a big woman. He called out, “Sawdah. You cannot conceal yourself. So, look how you go out.” Sawdah immediately returned to the Prophet. He was having dinner and had soup-bowl in his hand. She told him what had happened. He received revelation. When it was over, he said, “Allah has allowed that you go out for your needs” (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    The report is in Bukhari (Ibn Kathir), and it is said that `Umar had said those words in the hope of hastening Allah’s revelation concerning hijab (other commentators).
    The Prophet of course was better knowing of the prevalent social conditions than `Umar, and knew of the need, but did not wish to act without a specific commandment from on High (Alusi).
    134. If that was with ref. to the wives of the Prophet, then, how much more should it not be applicable to those lesser than them? (Shafi`).
    135. Asma’ bint `Umays reports (a widow of `Ali’s brother Ja`far b. Abi Talib: Zamakhshari), that “`Ali wished to marry me while he already had Fatimah in his marriage. When she learnt of it, she (Fatimah) went to the Prophet (saws) and complained. He said, ‘It is not for her (i.e., bint Qays) to annoy Allah and His Messenger.’”
    The report is in Ibn Marduwayh (Shawkani).
    (But Haythami did not approve it (Au.).
    Similarly, `Ali wished to marry another woman, `Ikrimah’s sister, Abu Jahl’s daughter. The Prophet disapproved of that marriage also, and `Ali remained with one wife until Fatimah remained alive, i.e., a little more than six months after the Prophet (Au.).
    136. The immediate cause of revelation of this part is that someone used to say that he would marry one of the wives of the Prophet after his death, naming her (Ibn Jarir).
    The person who said so was identified as Talha b. `Ubaydullah, and the woman he named was, most probably, `A’isha (Ibn Kathir).
    However, `Atiyyah reported that it seems there was an error in the identification. A man like him could not have said such a thing (Shawkani).
    Qurtubi, who raised the issue of the reliability of `Atiyyah’s report, adds that the implication is that Ibn `Abbas also said this; and strongly refutes that Talha could have said such a thing. In all likelihood, it was one of the hypocrites.
    In any case, one other reason why no one was allowed to marry any of his wives after him was that they had chosen him and Allah over all else, and would be his spouses in Paradise since the rule is that, in Paradise, a woman will get the last man she lived with in spousal relationship in this world. Accordingly, Hudhayfah told his wife not to marry anyone after him if she wished to be his wife in Paradise (Qurtubi).
    It is also reported of Abu Darda’s wife that when she was proposed after Abu Darda’s death, she declined on grounds that she wished to be Abu Darda’s spouse in Paradise also (Au.).
    It is also reported that the Prophet had taken a slave-girl called Qutaylah bint Qays al-Ash`ash. Although married to the Prophet, (she was still in Yemen: Alusi), someone married her after his death. Abu Bakr was greatly disturbed. But `Umar pointed out that she was not of those who had been given choice and had chosen Allah and His Messenger. In fact, she was no wife at all, only a slave-girl. Moreover, she was one of a tribe which had turned apostate after the Prophet’s death. Finally, consummation had not occurred. That calmed Abu Bakr (Ibn Jarir).
    The authenticity of the narration could not be verified (Au.).
    To sum up this difficult passage, at least from one point of view, we might state briefly the notes of Ashraf `Ali Thanwi and Mufti Shafi` about a few specialties the Prophet (saws) enjoyed in reference to family affair, which the Ummah did not share with him:
    (a) He was allowed to have more than four wives. (At the time of the revelation of this verse, the Prophet either had four wives, or had just married a fifth – Zaynab bint Jahsh: Mawdudi, reworded).
    (b) He had the right to choose a captive woman for himself after a battle. Such a one was called “safiyy” (the chosen one) such as Safiyyah bint Huyayy whom he chose for himself (because she was the daughter of a chieftain: Au.).
    (c) He was allowed to keep a slave-girl gifted to him, instead of making her a property of the state, which is the rule in Islam. That is, whatever is gifted to the head of an Islamic state belongs to the treasury and is not the personal gift to the ruler. But, when the ruler of Egypt sent him a slave girl Mairyyah, he kept her for himself and Allah allowed it.
    (d) He was allowed to marry only those of the believing women who had migrated to Madinah. Those who did not were not lawful. This was the point Umm Hani had brought to remembrance. However, such condition was for the women of the Quraysh, not those who were from among the common Muslims.
    (e) Women of the unbelievers, even though of the people of the Book, were not allowable to him as against his followers who can marry them.
    (f) A believing woman could gift herself to him which is not allowed to the Ummah at large.
    (g) He could temporarily or permanently cease giving conjugal rights to any of his spouses, but retaining them as his wives. This too is not allowed to his Ummah. His followers must provide their wives their conjugal rights: food, clothing, shelter, health-care, etc., and marital obligations, in an equitable manner. It is another thing that except for Sawdah, the Prophet did not exercise his right, but rather, treated them all equally.
    (h) He was not allowed to divorce those wives that had chosen him and Allah - the nine that he had. (If this is accepted as the correct opinion, then, as Asad has pointed out, the ayah in question must have been revealed not in the 5th year as assumed by some, but in the 7th year after hijrah, since it is then that he married Safiyyah of Khyber, to complete the nine: Au.).
    (j) His wives were not allowed to marry after him.
    Wives of the Prophet
    Herewith a short account of the Prophet’s marriages.
    Peninsula Arabs mature earlier than other races and their sexual activities last longer, almost up to eighty. Girls as low as six year old are reported having matured. For boys the average is around thirteen or fourteen. (It could be as well earlier, but they are not likely to report). The urge picks up from sixteen onward and the peak lasts up to almost fifty when the decline begins. It is remarkable that the Prophet remained single until twenty-five, never having gone near a woman.
    He remained with a single wife, for twenty-five years after the first marriage, although there was nothing in the social laws of the time to prevent him from having more wives, or slave-girls. In fact, he broke the norm when he chose not to take more. During his peak years, and his wife’s decline years, a dramatic change occurred in his attitudes. Instead of adding wives, he took to solitude in caves. If his wife had expected him to bring home contenders, she must have been surprised that he did not seem to even need her. For weeks he stayed away in solitude. His next marriage was only after the first wife was dead: when he was around 50. It is from this time onward – the decline time - that he began to take wives at a regular pace, adding ten until his death.
    It might be relevant to note at the start that other explanations apart, it is a fair guess to say that he was fond of widows. But for a sole exception, all his wives were widows, or, divorced spinsters. This acquires a special significance when we consider that when he was told by Jabir b. `Abdullah that he had married a previously married woman (older than him), he remarked, “Why not a virgin who could play with you, and you with her?” (Jabir had explained that he had little sisters and so preferred a woman who could be motherly to them).
    That to the Prophet his mission came first, even in conjugal matters, is apparent from the reply he made to `A’isha’s criticism of Khadijah. She said, “Will you not give up remembering an old woman, when Allah has bestowed on you better than her?” He snapped back strongly, “No, by Allah, He did not bestow on me anyone better than her. She believed in me when people rejected, testified while the people laid the lie, supported me with her wealth when the people denied, and she gave me children when no one else did.”
    The Prophet’s contemporaneous adversaries thought he must be mad, under magical spell, a poet, sorcerer, and therefore, not a true Prophet. But no one ever said he was sensual, licentious, libertine, or erotic. This is because whatever else is said about the Arabs contemporary to him, no one has doubted that they were scrupulously honest, and a straightforward people. It was left to the ethical uprightness of the Western scholars and clergymen to use such appellations for the Prophet as the Arabs did not use. If the Prophet’s contemporaries knew that he had nine wives, then they judged him by surrounding facts, and not by the harem size (a word his modern adversaries love to use). They took account of the facts of his own age and that of his wives. They knew that he fasted for days and weeks on, that half the time of his life he was in campaigns, that his meager diet, both by choice as well as chance, was at times a cup of milk in place of a full meal (after a previous missed meal), that he gave away on a hungry day what could buy him a meal, and that he stood long hours at night for his wives to remind him that his swollen feet perhaps indicated that he had taken things a bit too far, and that, fed up with hunger, they protested, to be firmly told that they could leave, if they so wished, for, he had nothing better to offer. His contemporaries knew all this, as do the Western scholars. But, what can be done if a people choose fiction over facts, or create them out of their hooky brains?
    The Prophet’s first marriage was to Khadijah, a woman who proved to be an outstanding personality. Of course she could have had no difficulty in accepting her husband as a Prophet since she, more than anyone else, had observed him in all circumstances of life. But credit must be given to her for the moral and material support that she extended through and through their 25 years of life together. Consequently she was one of those whom the Prophet respected and loved. He held fond memories of her all his life. Many years after her death, in Madinah, he continued to send gifts to her friends. He used to mention her so often that once `Ayesha felt irked and said something to the effect that she saw no point in recalling the memory of an old woman who had lost her teeth. The Prophet expressed his displeasure at the remark.
    When she died, the Prophet was passing through the most difficult phase of his mission. Opposition to what he had brought was at its zenith. He did not have the right even to spell out his message within Makkan boundaries. With her gone, he had lost the comfort that a faithful wife provides a man who could draw little comfort from the events outside. He did not miss a supporter, comforter, and a friend alone, but he also missed the mother of his children. He had to fill the vacant house, even if he could not his vacant heart. But the choice of the next wife is completely intriguing. The person he chose, Sawdah, was over fifty years old, in fact, older than him and heavy of body. If the only reason to take in a woman of that age was that she was a strong follower, who, having lost two husbands was now alone, and faced the prospect of lonely years the rest of her life, then, obviously, it was a magnanimous move on his part, for, marrying a youngish woman, he could have easily made other arrangements for Sawda. Was his personal sacrifice necessary? This is the question that makes the marriage intriguing.
    Later, in Makkah itself, the Prophet married a girl, the only virgin that he married. This was `Ayesha, either six or nine years old at the time of the engagement. She was the daughter of the first Muslim and a beloved childhood friend Abu Bakr. She did not enter the Prophet’s household until she was either twelve or fifteen. This marriage seemingly served no immediate purpose since `A’isha remained with her parents for three to six years after engagement. But it proved to be the most fruitful for the mission. If her father laid down the foundation stones of an earthly empire, it was she who became one of the pillars of its intellectual and spiritual mansion. In the Prophet’s company `Ayesha grew into a lady of exceptionally rich qualities, who looked at every aspect of his private and public life with a keen eye, and reported such details as were essential for the later scholars to work out the Law for generations to follow until the end of the world.
    `A’isha is in her own person a testimony to the authenticity of the Prophet. She became a wife when she was just nine, or maybe twelve, while the Prophet was around fifty-four. If one follows the way in which the mind of the detractors of Islam works (recently an American priest has publicly referred to the Prophet as a pedophile), then, she should have borne a life-long grudge against the Prophet. Granted she accepted the custom of the time and could not protest at the time of marriage, but she must have felt bitter that she was left a widow at 18, and, to add salt to injury, disallowed to marry after him. If she had resented being placed in such a position, and, had the Prophet been a false Messenger, she could have invented a verse, abrogating the Qur’anic verse which prohibited her and other wives from marrying after the death of the Prophet. If the Prophet had forged the Qur’an, as the Western scholars allege, then `A’isha was no less incapable of the feat. Indeed, except that she did not say poetry, she was a literary giant of her time. Perhaps apart from `Ali, another expert at eloquence, she had no equal in literary qualities. Forging a single verse, if the whole of the Qur’an was forged, could not have posed any difficulty to her. Yet, if a person of her intellectual capabilities accepted her lot as a spinster from eighteen until death fifty years later, choosing to sleep alone by the side of her husband’s grave, then, it could not have been without a firm conviction in the Messengership of the Prophet. This is what we mean by saying that she herself is a proof of the Prophet’s authenticity.
    The next lady the Prophet took into marriage was Hafsa, the twenty-seven year old daughter of his most powerful supporter after his uncle Hamza, and the second caliph after him, `Umar ibn al-Khattab. She had lost her husband at Badr and `Umar had failed to find a suitable match for her. The Prophet rescued her. At one time, however, the Prophet wished to divorce her, although she was quite friendly to `A’isha. But Jibril came down directing him to retain her because of her piety: ‘She prays a lot and fasts much,’ said Jibril.
    Another lady that the Prophet married was the widow of another of his Companion, `Ubaydah b. al-Harith. He was sent with `Ali and Hamza to face three of the challenging Quraysh fighters in duels at Badr. `Ali and Hamza slew their opponents but `Ubayda received a serious wound. When he was picked up and brought to the Prophet, he placed his chin on the Prophet’s foot and asked if he would be considered a martyr. He died a few minutes later. The Prophet married his widow: Zaynab bint Khuzaymah. This was her third marriage and some reports suggest she was around sixty years old. The Prophet had once predicted that of his wives the one with the longest arm would die first. A statement of this sort about one of today’s believers will drive them, (not to speak of the critics of the Prophet’s plural wives), to recurring attacks of melancholy; but the ladies began to measure each other’s arms to guess who would go first! Those were the Prophet’s wives, high above aspersion of any kind by the meanly antagonists of the Final Messenger. It was Zaynab anyway, who died first - within a few months of the marriage - not because of a lengthy limb, but because of her long arm in charities. She had always been known, even before marriage, as Umm al-Masakin (mother of the destitute) because of her extensive charitable activities.
    The next lady that he brought into his household was Umm Salamah. She had migrated to Abyssinia with her husband Abu Salamah. There they received false news of the acceptance of Islam by the Quraysh and returned. Back at Makkah once again they became the target of brutal persecution. They decided to get away to Madinah. But hardly was the couple with its single child out of town, when the Makkans separated Umm Salamah and her child from Abu Salamah, saying he did not have them when he had entered Makkah several years ago. Undeterred, Abu Salamah left the wife and child behind and continued with his journey. A few months later, Umm Salamah managed to join him. At Badr, Abu Salamah received a wound. He recovered from it but at Uhud he was struck at the same spot. The Prophet (saws) visited him at his house after the battle. To his grief, he died in front of him. He had special regard for him and offered special burial-prayers for him. Some time later he sent word to his widow that he desired to take her into wedlock. She expressed her doubts and fears by saying that she suffered from jealousy (ghirah), was quite old, and had little children who would bother him. He waved away her concerns by saying, “As for your jealousy, Allah will cure it, as for your age, I am not young either, and as for the children, they belong to Allah and His Messenger.”
    The next woman, Zaynab bint Jahsh, was given to him in marriage by Allah Most High. She was the divorced wife of his adopted son, but to remove the social ban on marriage with an adopted son’s wife, Allah married her in the heavens.
    The Prophet’s marriage to Umm Habibah is another example of chivalry. Daughter of Abu Sufyan the staunch antagonist of the Prophet, she had entered Islam in its early days. She migrated to Abyssinia along with her husband to escape persecution - despite the fact that she was the daughter of a leader of Quraysh. Such was the frenzy against Islam at that time. In Abyssinia however, her husband turned Christian. They were separated and Umm Habibah was left destitute with a child in a land where, as Asma’, her companion later described, each day was spent in fear of life. She could not return to the parents of the kind she had: Abu Sufyan and Hind. Hind was the woman who had chewed Hamza’s heart at Uhud. When the Prophet, who was then in Madinah, learned of her plight, he sent a Companion to convey his offer of marriage. It was as brilliant a move as it was compassionate, the gesture of a person who was a father to his followers. The attractions of a husband who converted to Christianity, coupled with the daily worries of how to feed herself and conduct the affairs of life in an honorable manner, all alone, in a foreign Christian land, could not be ruled out as causes of a woman’s possible loss to Islam. The Prophet’s offer certainly saved a soul. The offer pleased even the king of the land, Najashi, so much that he himself performed the matrimonial ceremony and offered a dower from his purse. Thus Umm Habibah became his wife while her father was leading the Makkans against the Prophet, in all their battles after Badr. It was her father who had inflicted the terrible defeat at Uhud. But, on hearing of how the Prophet came to his daughter’s rescue, even he was moved and the remark: “He is the honorable one who can not be put to blush,” escaped him. She joined the Prophet in Madinah only three or four years prior to his death. Those Westerners, and their foolhardy eastern slaves and parrots, who believe the Prophet created a harem, clearly need to see a doctor for sanity check. Fanaticism is quite close to insanity after all. And, it might further increase their frustration to know that after his own conversion to Islam in the 8th year after hijrah, Abu Sufyan offered his second daughter’s hand also to the Prophet, but the offer was turned down on grounds that Islam did not allow a man two sisters in wedlock at one time.
    The Prophet married three more women. One was Juwayriyyah who was taken prisoner in a battle, but he took her in marriage instead of taking her a slave. The result was that a whole clan comprising of over a hundred families (perhaps a thousand souls) that had been taken slaves was redeemed by the masters because they could not bear to keep any member of a clan as slave which was related to the Prophet. It is strongly suspected that he had married her for this reason. Another lady he married was Safiyyah, the former wife of a Jewish chief Kinanah, slain because the treasures of Banu Nadir were too dear to him. When captured after the battle, the Prophet asked him about where had he concealed it. Kinanah expressed complete ignorance. The Prophet asked him if he was prepared to die if it was found that he had knowledge of it. He said yes. It was found in his premises and he was executed. (He was also ordered killed because he had killed a Companion of the Prophet some time back). His wife Safiyyah was taken prisoner, but the Prophet married this diminutive woman and then redeemed her. She was so short that she could not fit into the eyes of some the Prophet’s wives. May Allah be pleased with her. Another lady whom he married was Maymunah bint al-Harith a 27 year old widow. He married her when he was in Makkah to perform `Umrah in the 7th year after hijrah. `Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle, had suggested the alliance, perhaps to strengthen the family ties and win some Makkan families to the cause of Islam. The Prophet complied and requested the Makkans that they allow him to extend his stay for him to arrange his marriage-feast (walimah). They gallantly refused and insisted that he leave the city within the three stipulated days of the Treaty.

    إِنْ تُبْدُوا شَيْئًا أَوْ تُخْفُوهُ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا (54)

    33|54| Whether you reveal a thing or conceal it, Allah is ever Knowing of all things.

    لَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِنَّ فِي آبَائِهِنَّ وَلَا أَبْنَائِهِنَّ وَلَا إِخْوَانِهِنَّ وَلَا أَبْنَاءِ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ وَلَا أَبْنَاءِ أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ وَلَا نِسَائِهِنَّ وَلَا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ ۗ وَاتَّقِينَ اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدًا (55)

    33|55| There is no sin upon them in (appearing freely before) their fathers,137 or sons, or brothers, or sons of their brothers, or sons of the sisters,138 or their womenfolk,139 or whom their right hands own. And fear Allah (O wives of the Prophet).140 Surely, Allah is ever a Witness over all things.

    137. It is said that when the earlier verses concerning the veil came, some people went up to the Prophet to ask whether their sons and fathers were also to deal with their women from behind a curtain. In response, this verse was revealed (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf, Qurtubi).
    138. Alusi writes: This list does not mention paternal and maternal uncles because they are like the parents of a woman or perhaps they have been left out because there was no need to mention them after mentioning their sons.
    139. That is, believing women.
    140. That is, fear Allah and do not cross the boundaries of hijab set forth for you (Qurtubi).
    141. It might be noticed that Allah (swt) combined Himself and the angels in one pronoun: “(they) send blessing.” This is despite the fact that when a man combined the Prophet and Allah in one pronoun in his presence, he cut him short by saying, “Sit down. You are a poor speaker.” The man had said, “Whoever obeyed Allah and His Messenger found the true path, and whoever disobeyed the two, lost the way.” It has been suggested as an answer that Allah combined Himself and the angels under one pronoun in this ayah by saying, “yusallun” to honor the angels. They are, so to say, so close to Allah that they could be mentioned together with Allah in one pronoun. Another answer is that it is for Allah to do as He will, but not allowable to His creations. Hence the Prophet interrupted the man who did so (Qurtubi).
    Alusi adds that on one occasion the Prophet had also brought together his name and that of Allah in one pronoun. He said (in a trustworthy report of Tirmidhi and Ahmad: Au.),

    ثَلَاثٌ مَنْ كُنَّ فِيهِ وَجَدَ حَلَاوَةَ الْإِيمَانِ مَنْ كَانَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِمَّا سِوَاهُمَا وَمَنْ أَحَبَّ عَبْدًا لَا يُحِبُّهُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ وَمَنْ يَكْرَهُ أَنْ يَعُودَ فِي الْكُفْرِ بَعْدَ إِذْ أَنْقَذَهُ اللَّهُ كَمَا يَكْرَهُ أَنْ يُلْقَى فِي النَّارِ - صحيح البخاري

    “Whoever possessed these three (qualities) tasted the sweetness of faith through them: He to whom Allah and His Messenger are dearer than all else besides the two…”

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ ۚ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا (56)

    33|56| Verily, Allah and His angels141 send blessings142 on the Prophet.143 O those who have believed, invoke blessings on him and send him salutations of peace.144

    142. Earliest scholars have said that “salah” from Allah is His mercy for His creation, while that of the angels for humans refers to their seeking forgiveness for them. As for “salah” of the humans when sought in favor of the Prophets, it connotes seeking Allah’s peace and blessing for them (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Shafi` and others).
    143. Allah wished to create a confluence of blessings on the Prophet. Hence, after “salah” of those on High (`alam al-`ulwi), He ordered “salah” of those of the lower world (`alam al-sufli) – Ibn Kathir.
    Allah’s salah for His creation, adds Ibn Kathir, is not infrequent in the Qur’an. Allah said (in this surah itself 33: 41-43),

    { يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ ذِكْرًا كَثِيرًا (41) وَسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا (42) هُوَ الَّذِي يُصَلِّي عَلَيْكُمْ وَمَلَائِكَتُهُ لِيُخْرِجَكُمْ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ وَكَانَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَحِيمًا} [الأحزاب: 41 - 43]

    “O you who have believed, remember Allah with much remembering. [42] And glorify Him morning and evening. [43] He it is who confers blessing on you, and His angels (also), to bring you out from darknesses into light; and He was ever Kind upon the believers.”
    He also said (2: 155-157),

    {وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ مِنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنْفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ (155) الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُمْ مُصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ (156) أُولَئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ وَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ } [البقرة: 155 - 157]

    “We shall surely try you with some fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives, and fruits. Give glad tidings then to those who endure in fortitude. Such as those who, when visited by an affliction say, ‘To Allah we belong and to Him we return.’ It is these on whom descends peace and mercy from their Lord. It is these (indeed) who are rightly guided.”
    To add an example from a Prophetic statement,

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلاَئِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى مَيَامِنِ الصُّفُوفِ

    “Allah and His angels send peace upon the right hand side of the rows (in Prayers).”
    [Suyuti declared it sahih in his Jami` al-Saghir: Au.].
    According to another report, (in Bukhari and others), `Abdullah ibn Abi Awfa narrates that:

    كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِذَا أَتَاهُ قَوْمٌ بِصَدَقَةٍ قَالَ اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَيْهِمْ فَأَتَاهُ أَبِي بِصَدَقَتِهِ فَقَالَ اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى آلِ أَبِي أَوْفَى

    Whenever some people brought their charity to him (for distribution), he would say, “O Allah send peace on such and such a folk.” Once, my father went up to him with his charity. (On that occasion also) he said, “O Allah send peace upon Abu Awfa’s household.”
    Thus we see that the word “salah” has been used in the sense of peace and blessing in favor of other than our Prophet.
    144. Ibn Jarir reports Qatadah, Ibrahim and others as having said that when the verse, “Verily, Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet. O those who have believed, invoke blessings on him and send him salutations of peace” was revealed, his Companions asked, “Messenger of Allah, we know how to invoke peace upon you (as in tashahhud: Au.), but how do we invoke blessings on you?” (That is, they understood how salam was said, but did not know how salah was to be said: Au.). He was quiet for a while (until we wished we hadn’t asked him the question) and then answered,

    اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ ، وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَبَارِكْ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَعَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ فِي الْعَالَمِينَ إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ

    “Say, “O Allah send Your blessing upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad, as You sent peace upon Ibrahim and upon the family of Ibrahim. Indeed, you are Praiseworthy, Most Glorious. O Allah send Your benedictions upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad, as You sent benedictions upon Ibrahim and upon the family of Ibrahim. Indeed, you are Praiseworthy, Most Glorious” (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Alusi adds: It might be noticed that Allah (swt) urged the believers to send peace and blessing. But when they asked how it was to be done, the Prophet told them to ask Allah to do it: “O Allah send Your blessing …” This is because firstly, we humans have no means to send peace and blessing, and, secondly, left to ourselves, we could not have done it as perfectly as Allah can do, and hence, “O Allah send Your blessing..” Therefore, some scholars have said that it is not allowed to say, “I send peace and blessing to the Prophet.”
    The hadith above is in Bukhari coming through Ka`b b. `Ujrah. Other Sunan works have Ibn Abi Layla as saying, “Once, Ka`b b. `Ujrah met me and said, ‘May I not gift you something?’ And then narrated the above hadith” (Ibn Kathir).
    There are many other reports on the virtues of sending peace greetings to the Prophet. One in Ahmad says that a man said to the Prophet,

    أَجْعَلُ لَكَ صَلَاتِي كُلَّهَا ؟ قَالَ:{ إِذًا تُكْفَى هَمَّكَ ، وَيُغْفَرُ لَكَ ذَنْبُكَ }.

    “Messenger of Allah. How would it be if I made all my salah (i.e., peace formula) for you?” He answered, “In that case, Allah will take care of all your worries )of the world(, and your sins will be forgiven.”
    The report is also in Tirmidhi who declared it trustworthy.
    Another narrative in Ahmad has `Abdul Rahman ibn `Awf say,

    خَرَجَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَاتَّبَعْتُهُ حَتَّى دَخَلَ نَخْلًا فَسَجَدَ فَأَطَالَ السُّجُودَ حَتَّى خِفْتُ أَوْ خَشِيتُ أَنْ يَكُونَ اللَّهُ قَدْ تَوَفَّاهُ أَوْ قَبَضَهُ قَالَ فَجِئْتُ أَنْظُرُ فَرَفَعَ رَأْسَهُ فَقَالَ مَا لَكَ يَا عَبْدَ الرَّحْمَنِ قَالَ فَذَكَرْتُ ذَلِكَ لَهُ فَقَالَ إِنَّ جِبْرِيلَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَام قَالَ لِي أَلَا أُبَشِّرُكَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَقُولُ لَكَ مَنْ صَلَّى عَلَيْكَ صَلَّيْتُ عَلَيْهِ وَمَنْ سَلَّمَ عَلَيْكَ سَلَّمْتُ عَلَيْهِ - فسجدتُ لله عز وجل، شكرا"

    “The Prophet came out (of his house) and I followed him as he entered an orchard. He went into prostration and made it so long that I began to wonder whether he was dead. So I closed in on him to find out what was happening. He raised his head and asked, “What’s the matter with you O `Abdul Rahman?" I told him of my fears. He said, “Jibril came to me and said, ‘May I not give you the glad tiding? Allah has said, ‘Whoever sent peace to you, I shall send peace to him, and whoever greeted you with blessings, I shall greet him with blessing.’ And, so I made this (long) prostration in gratitude.”
    Nasa’i’s report has Allah saying:

    عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ أَبِي طَلْحَةَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ جَاءَ ذَاتَ يَوْمٍ وَالسُّرُورُ يُرَى فِي وَجْهِهِ فَقَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّا لَنَرَى السُّرُورَ فِي وَجْهِكَ فَقَالَ إِنَّهُ أَتَانِي مَلَكٌ فَقَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ أَمَا يُرْضِيكَ أَنَّ رَبَّكَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَقُولُ إِنَّهُ لَا يُصَلِّي عَلَيْكَ أَحَدٌ مِنْ أُمَّتِكَ إِلَّا صَلَّيْتُ عَلَيْهِ عَشْرًا وَلَا يُسَلِّمُ عَلَيْكَ أَحَدٌ مِنْ أُمَّتِكَ إِلَّا سَلَّمْتُ عَلَيْهِ عَشْرًا قَالَ بَلَى

    “Abu Talha’s father reported that one day the Prophet emerged with a joyful face. They said, ‘Messenger of Allah, we see joy in our face?’ He answered, ‘An angel came down from the heavens and said, “Muhammad! Does it not please you that Allah Most High says, ‘None will send peace to you from among your followers but I shall send him peace ten times, and none will send salam but I shall greet him with ten salams?” I said, ‘Yes it does.’”
    Haythamiyy remarked that the narrators of this hadith are trustworthy (Au.).
    Another narrative is in Tirmidhi, who declared it Hasan Gharib Sahih, as also in Ahmad, which reports the Prophet as having said,

    الْبَخِيلُ مَنْ ذُكِرْتُ عِنْدَهُ فَلَمْ يُصَلِّ عَلَيَّ

    “A miser is one before whom I was mentioned but he did not say the peace formula for me.”
    Yet another report in Ahmad has Abu Hurayrah transmit the Prophet’s words,

    مَا جَلَسَ قَوْمٌ مَجْلِسًا لَمْ يَذْكُرُوا فِيهِ رَبَّهِمْ وَلَمْ يُصَلُّوا عَلَى نَبِيِّهِمْ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- إِلاَّ كَانَ تِرَةً عَلَيْهِمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنْ شَاءَ أَخَذَهُمُ اللَّهُ وَإِنْ شَاءَ عَفَا عَنْهُمْ

    “No people got together in a gathering, without mentioning Allah’s name therein, nor sending peace to their Prophet (peace be upon him), but it will be a source of grief on the Day of Judgment. If He wished He will forgive them, or if He wished He will punish them.”
    Tirmidhi rated it as Hasan Sahih (Au.).
    In view of the above ahadith, it has been said that to say the peace formula is obligatory at least once in a lifetime, just like the testimony. (Others have held that it is wajib to send peace in a gathering at least once when his name is pronounced, even if repeatedly: Kashshaf, Mufti Shafi`). Further, there are moments at which it is all the more becoming of a Muslim that he should send him peace. A report in Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Da’ud and Nasa’i has `Abdullah ibn `Amr say that he heard the Prophet say,

    إِذَا سَمِعْتُمُ الْمُؤَذِّنَ فَقُولُوا مِثْلَ مَا يَقُولُ ثُمَّ صَلُّوا عَلَىَّ فَإِنَّهُ مَنْ صَلَّى عَلَىَّ صَلاَةً صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ بِهَا عَشْرًا ثُمَّ سَلُوا اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لِىَ الْوَسِيلَةَ فَإِنَّهَا مَنْزِلَةٌ فِى الْجَنَّةِ لاَ تَنْبَغِى إِلاَّ لِعَبْدٍ مِنْ عِبَادِ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى وَأَرْجُو أَنْ أَكُونَ أَنَا هُوَ فَمَنْ سَأَلَ اللَّهَ لِىَ الْوَسِيلَةَ حَلَّتْ عَلَيْهِ الشَّفَاعَةُ

    “When you hear the callers call (for Prayers), repeat his words. Thereafter, send your peace greeting to me. For, whoever sent peace to me will have Allah send him peace ten times over. Subsequent to that, you should ask Allah for the means of access (wasilah) for me. It is a rank in Paradise which does not behoove anyone but a single person. And I hope to be that person. Therefore, whoever asked the means of access for me, will enjoy my intercession.”
    (Another occasion to say the salam is while entering the mosque and leaving it). The Prophet (saws) himself used to say the peace formula when entering or leaving the mosque. And yet another occasion for saying salam is when one spots a Masjid. `Ali ibn Abi Talib said, “When you see a mosque, send peace greeting to the Prophet.” It is also desirable that one starts one’s supplications with peace formula and end with the peace formula. `Umar ibn al-Khattab said, “A supplication is hung between the earth and the heaven until you send peace to your Prophet.” The narrative is preserved by Tirmidhi.
    So also, Friday is a special occasion to say the peace formula. The Prophet said, as in a report of Ahmad,

    إِنَّ مِنْ أَفْضَلِ أَيَّامِكُمْ يَوْمَ الْجُمُعَةِ فِيهِ خُلِقَ آدَمُ ، وَفِيهِ قُبِضَ ، وَفِيهِ النَّفْخَةُ ، وَفِيهِ الصَّعْقَةُ ، فَأَكْثِرُوا عَلَيَّ مِنَ الصَّلاةِ فِيهِ ، فَإِنَّ صَلاتَكُمْ مَعْرُوضَةٌ عَلَيَّ ، قَالُوا : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ، وَكَيْفَ تُعْرَضُ عَلَيْكَ صَلاتُنَا وَقَدْ أَرَمْتَ ؟ يَقُولُونَ قَدْ بَلِيتَ ، قَالَ : إِنَّ اللَّهَ حَرَّمَ عَلَى الأَرْضِ أَنْ تَأْكُلَ أَجْسَادَ الأَنْبِيَاءِ

    “The best of your days is Friday. It is on this day that Adam took birth, and it is on this day that he died. The Trumpet will be blown on this day, and mankind will swoon. Therefore, say the peace formula a lot in it. Your salam is presented to me.” They asked, “Messenger of Allah. How can the greeting be presented to you when you would have become dust and perished?” He answered, “Allah has made it unlawful for the earth to decay the bodies of Prophets.”
    This is a trustworthy narrative preserved by Abu Da’ud, Nasa’i, and Ibn Majah.
    Abu Da’ud has preserved another narrative. The Prophet said,

    لا تَجْعَلُوا بُيُوتَكُمْ قُبُورًا، وَلا تَجْعَلُوا قَبْرِي عِيدًا، وَصَلَّوْا عَلَيَّ، فَإِنَّ صَلاتَكُمْ تَبْلُغُنِي حَيْثُ مَا كُنْتُمْ

    “Do not render your homes graves (meaning, where no Qur’an is recited, no Prayer is offered: Au.). And do not make my grave a place of regular visit. However, send peace to me, for your peace salutation reaches me wherever you might be.”
    (The hadith is weak, but seems to gather strength from similar weak reports as in `Awn al-Ma`bud: Au.).
    Then there are angels who go about picking up peace greetings addressed to him. Imam Ahmad has on the authority of Ibn Mas`ud recorded that the Prophet said,

    إِنَّ لِلَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ مَلائِكَةً سَيَّاحِينَ فِي الأَرْضِ يُبَلِّغُونِي عَنْ أُمَّتِي السَّلامَ

    “Allah has angels who go around in the land, conveying the salam of my Ummah to me.”
    Nasa’i also preserved it. Hayathmi traced it as also in Al-Bazzar and declared its narrators as worth trusting (Au.).
    Nevertheless, the following narrative, says Ibn Kathir, is not trustworthy. It says,

    من صلى علىَّ عند قبرى سمعته ومن صلى على من بعيد بُلِّغْتُه

    “I hear the peace greeting of one of you near my grave, while he who does it from a distance, has it conveyed to me.”
    But Ibn Hajr writes in Fath that it is a trustworthy report, and offers one or two other equally authentic traditions in support (Au.).
    There is another hadith worth reporting on this topic. It says,

    مَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ يُسَلِّمُ عَلَىَّ إِلاَّ رَدَّ اللَّهُ عَلَىَّ رُوحِى حَتَّى أَرُدَّ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمَ

    “No Muslim sends me salam but Allah restores my soul so that I can respond with a salam to him.”
    The report is in Abu Da’ud and Nawawi declared it Sahih in his al-Adhkar.
    Significantly, continues Ibn Kathir, it is reported of Hasan b. Al-Hasan b. `Ali that when he saw someone frequenting visits to the Prophet’s grave, he remarked, “Man, you and someone in Spain are not but equal with reference to him.” That is, the Salah wa Salam of everyone – no matter where he is - is conveyed to him.
    We might also convey, says Ibn Kathir, Khatib al-Baghdadi’s note. He said, “I have seen the writings of Imam Ahmad. He wrote the Prophet’s name so often but without writing the peace formula. I am told that he used to say out the words by mouth.”
    We may also point out that although in general terms there is no sin in sending peace to other than a Prophet in those specific words, such as to say,

    قال أبو بكر صلى الله عليه

    “Abu Bakr said, Allah’s peace be upon him.”
    But, by consensus, such usage is undesirable to the point of being forbidden.
    So also, it is not desirable to say when `Ali’s name is spelled:

    عليه السلام

    “On him be peace,” but rather, should say,

    رضي الله عنه

    “May Allah be pleased with him,” since, this is the formula in use for all Companions, including those who were senior and superior to him: Abu Bakr, `Umar and `Uthman.
    In practice, the peace formula has been reserved for Prophets (Kashshaf). Finally, it is also said that one might not say when a Prophet’s name is spelled,

    "صلى الله عليه" - فقط

    nor,

    "عليه السلام" - فقط

    but rather, he should say,

    صلى الله عليه و سلَّم

    or,

    عليه الصلاة والسلام

    That is, one should combine the words of salah and salam.
    Additionally, the following hadith is reported but it is either forged or untrustworthy:

    من صلى عليّ في كتاب، لم تزل الصلاة جارية له ما دام اسمي في ذلك الكتاب

    “Whoever mentioned salam in a book, the salam will be perpetually written in his favor so long as my name remains in the book.”
    Ibn Kathir’s comments end here, some of which had been quoted by Qurtubi.
    The above however, of combination of salah and salam is not a strict requirement. One could say for instance:

    اللهم صل على محمد

    “O Allah send peace to Muhammad.”
    This is based on notes in Alusi, Thanwi, and Shafi’ - who quotes Nawawi.
    As for salah on the Prophet during the sitting posture (tashahhud) in the Prayers, apart from Shafe`i, who declared it wajib, most other scholars have considered it strongly desirable, but not wajib (Qurtubi, Shafi`).
    Finally, in our times an innovation is spreading around in the Indo-Pak area. They say to a person traveling to Madinah, ‘Say my salam to him.’ Or, ‘say salam to the Prophet on my behalf.’ This is out of ignorance that his or her salam is conveyed to the Prophet whenever he or she says the peace formula (Au.).

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ لَعَنَهُمُ اللَّهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ عَذَابًا مُهِينًا (57)

    33|57| Surely, Allah has cursed those who affront Allah145 and His Messenger,146 in the world and Hereafter. And He has prepared for them a humiliating chastisement.

    145. How could one affront Allah? It is to say, writes Zamakhshari, as the pagans said, “Angels are Allah’s daughters,” or, as the Jews said, “Allah’s hands are bound,” or, as the Christians said, “Allah is one of the three,” or, “the Messiah was the son of God.”
    A hadith of the Sahihyan expounds this issue further.

    قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يُؤْذِينِى ابْنُ آدَمَ يَسُبُّ الدَّهْرَ ، وَأَنَا الدَّهْرُ بِيَدِى الأَمْرُ أُقَلِّبُ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ

    Allah (swt) said, “Adam’s son affronts Me. He curses the time while I am the Time. I interchange its nights and days” (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    146. Ibn `Abbas and others said that the allusion by pain to the Messenger was to the criticism leveled against the Prophet for marrying Safiyyah b. Huyayy b. Akhtab (Ibn Jarir). Ibn Kathir adds that that might be true, but the application is general.
    The Orientalists would not deny themselves their share of Allah’s anger. To this day they raise questions concerning the legitimacy of the Prophet choosing Rayhana for himself after the Banu Nadir affair, saying he took a captive from among the women-captives, while, moments ago, so to say, her men had been slaughtered. But they fail to understand Arab character of quickly forgetting the past, and adjusting to the present, stoically. Rayhana, an Arab, although Jewish, was no exception. Sirah books are full of such practical ways of dealing with life’s misfortunes. A quick example is that of Abu Jahl. When Ibn Mas`ud went up to behead him, he instructed him to slit the neck in a way that when kept among heads, it should stand high!
    There were other instances of annoyance to the Prophet. When he sent an expedition placing Usama bin Zayd at the head, he was criticized (because of Zayd’s youth – he was just 18 – and because there were senior Companions in the expedition force). The Prophet (saws) ascended the mimber and said, “If you object to Usamah as the leader, then, you had also objected to his father (Zayd, his freed slave) as a leader. By Allah, he deserved to be an Amir and was the dearest of people to me. And surely, this one (Usama) is also dearest of people to me.” It is reported by scholars such as Ahmad, Abu Da’ud and others that while Zayd was as fair as cotton, Usama was extremely dark. When he was little, the Prophet used to clean his nose and mouth. It is said that Usamah was (one of) the causes of apostasy of the Arabs (of the outlying areas). During the Farewell Hajj, the Prophet stopped for a while at `Arafat, waiting for Usamah to join. When Usamah appeared, they said, “Is this the one he was waiting for?” – belittling him. They became apostates immediately upon the death of the Prophet. `Umar used to grant Usamah 5000 Dirham while to his own son `Abdullah he would allot 2000. Once `Abdullah protested, saying, “You do that while I have been in more battles than he.” `Umar answered, “Usamah was dearer to the Prophet than you were, and his father was dearer to him than your father was” (Qurtubi).
    (Zayd had married others earlier to marrying Zaynab. It is possible that Usamah’s mother was dark: Au.).

    وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ بِغَيْرِ مَا اكْتَسَبُوا فَقَدِ احْتَمَلُوا بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُبِينًا (58)

    33|58| Surely those who cause pain to the believing men and believing women,147 without they having earned it,148 have surely borne (upon themselves) a slander and a clear sin.

    147. Ahmad and Tirmidhi have preserved a report from the Prophet, which was declared Hasan Gharib by Tirmidhi. It says,

    عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مُغَفَّلٍ الْمُزَنِيِّ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ اللَّهَ اللَّهَ فِي أَصْحَابِي اللَّهَ اللَّهَ فِي أَصْحَابِي لَا تَتَّخِذُوهُمْ غَرَضًا بَعْدِي فَمَنْ أَحَبَّهُمْ فَبِحُبِّي أَحَبَّهُمْ وَمَنْ أَبْغَضَهُمْ فَبِبُغْضِي أَبْغَضَهُمْ وَمَنْ آذَاهُمْ فَقَدْ آذَانِي وَمَنْ آذَانِي فَقَدْ آذَى اللَّهَ وَمَنْ آذَى اللَّهَ أَوْشَكَ أَنْ يَأْخُذَهُ

    “Allah, Allah, in reference to my Companions. Allah, Allah, in reference to my Companions. Do not take to criticizing them after me. Whoever loved them, loved them in my love. Whoever, hated them, hated them in my hatred. Whoever hurt them, hurt me. Whoever hurt me, hurt Allah. And whoever hurt Allah, is likely that He will be taken to task” (Ibn Kathir).
    Bazzar has reported the Prophet (saws) as having said,

    دعوا لي أصحابي لا تسبوا أصحابي

    “Leave alone my Companions, do not curse them.”
    Haythami said its narrators are those of the Sahih collections (Au.).
    `A’isha has been preserved by Ibn Abi Hatim as reporting that once the Prophet addressed his Companions and asked,

    عن عائشة قالت: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لأصحابه "أي الربا أربى عند الله ؟" قالوا الله ورسوله أعلم قال: "أربى الربا عند الله استحلال عرض امرىء مسلم"

    “Which is the worst of usury?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “The worst of usury in the sight of Allah is to attack the honor of a Muslim without right” (Ibn Kathir).
    While the first half could not be traced, this second half of the narrative has the approval of Haythami (Au.).
    148. Fudayl has said, “Look! It is not allowable that you should hurt a dog or a pig. What then is your opinion about believers in Allah?” (Zamakhshari).

    يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُلْ لِأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَنْ يُعْرَفْنَ فَلَا يُؤْذَيْنَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا (59)

    33|59| O Messenger! Say to your wives, your daughters,149 and the believing women, (that they should) lower down their veils over themselves,150 so it is likelier that they will be distinguished and not affronted.151 And Allah ever was Forgiving, Compassionate.

    149. In all, the Prophet had four daughters – all through Khadijah. (The Shi`ah deny that the Prophet had any daughter other than Fatimah. They say other daughters were offspring through Khadijah and issues of previous husbands. Their ignorance is of such order that they failed to notice that Allah used the word in plural: daughters - Alusi).
    The Prophet’s Daughers:
    First was Zaynab. She was married to her maternal cousin Abu al-`Asi b. al-Rabi`. She died in the 8th year after hijrah. The Prophet buried her. Second was Ruqayyah. She had been married to Abu Lahab’s son `Utbah, (while another of his daughter was married to his second son) but had not left their houses for his house. When the Qur’an revealed saying, “Abu Lahab’s hands be destroyed” (Surah Masad), he said to his sons, “My head is unlawful to your head if you do not divorce them.” So `Utbah divorced her. Subsequently `Uthman married her. At the marriage ceremony, Quraysh women sang,

    أَحْسَنُ شَخْصَيْنِ رَأَى إِنْسَانُ ... رُقَيَّةُ وَبَعْلُهَا عُثْمَانُ

    “The best of two persons that a person saw were Ruqayyah and her husband `Uthman.”
    She migrated to Abyssinia (when persecuted. The Prophet said about her and `Uthman when they migrated: “The first pair to migrate in Allah’s way after Ibrahim”: Au.). Her first pregnancy was a miscarriage. Second pregnancy resulted in a son called `Abdullah. When he was six, a rooster pricked his face while he was asleep. He died of the wound. Thereafter she did not bring any child. She migrated to Madinah along with `Uthman and was sick when the Prophet started for Badr seventeen months after hijrah. He told him to stay back to look after her. She died while the Prophet stood (facing the Quraysh) at Badr. When Zayd b. Haritha arrived bringing the good news of victory to the Madinans, `Uthman was leveling her grave.
    A third daughter was Umm Kulthum. She had been married to another of Abu Lahab’s son `Utaybah. She too was divorced upon Abu Lahab’s instruction, and she too the Prophet married off to `Uthman after Ruqayyah was dead. This is the reason why `Uthman was nicknamed “Dhun Nurayn” (“he of two Lights”). She died in the ninth year after hijrah and was lowered down into the grave by the Prophet himself. The last of his daughters was Fatimah. She took birth five years before the Prophet was commissioned and was married to `Ali in the second year after hijrah, in Ramadan. She survived the Prophet but was the first of his household to die after his own death, dying six months after him (Qurtubi).
    150. What is a jilbab? A word not uncommon in pre-Islamic times, Qurtubi defines it as a cloak that covers the whole body. Ibn Kathir describes it as a cloak that women wear over their outer veil-covering (khimar). Zamakhshari says it is a piece of cloth bigger than a khimar, and smaller than a cloak, which women pull down over their faces on the one side, and with the other they cover the front part of their body. It is said, adds Zamakhshari, “When a woman’s face gets uncovered, you better pull down your own cloak on your face.”
    The earliest commentators disagreed over the exact manner of Muslim women “letting down” their jilbab. Ibn `Abbas said that they should pull down the outer cloak to cover the head and the face leaving a hole open for one eye. (When asked to explain) Ibn `Awn demonstrated it, to whom Muhammad had demonstrated it, to whom Abu `Ubaydah had demonstrated. Ibn `Awn covered his head with his cloak. Then he wrapped it around his face covering the nose and one eye, and then pulled it down from the top to cover or nearly cover the two eyebrows. Another report of Ibn `Abbas says that free women used to wear what slave-girls wore. Allah instructed them to cover their foreheads. Qatadah said something similar (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir). Ibn Sirin said, “I asked `Ubaydah al-Salmani about it. He said that she should take one end of the cloak and cover everything above the brows, then twist it around the head, and bring it forward to cover the nose” (Zamakhshari, Razi, Qurtubi, Alusi and all others, in different words or in parts). Hasan said she should cover half her face. `Umar used to say, “What would go wrong if a woman came out of her house - if she has to come at all - she comes out with an old worn out cloak taken from her housemaid, so that she returned but could not be recognized who she was?”! (Qurtubi).
    The Veil
    Women’s veil was nothing foreign to the Christian or Jewish cultres until recent times. Writes Uta Ranke-Heinemann in a work critical of the Church: “.. he (Clement of Alexandria) does make it clear how they (women) should dress: ‘Women should be completely veiled, except when they are in the house. Veiling their faces assures that they will lure no one into sin. For this is the will of the Logos, that it befits them to be veiled in prayer (Paedagogous III, 79, 4).’” [Eunuches for the Kingdom of Heaven, Penguin Books, 1991, p. 127-8]. Parenthical words by Au.).
    The above author also quotes:
    “The commandment for women to be veiled applied above all to the realm of the sacred. The Apostolic Constitution (II, 57 – composes ca. 380) laid down that women could take Communion only while wearing the veil. In his famous Response to the Bulgarians in 866 (C.E.) Pope Nicholas I also called for women to wear the veil in church. In the sixth century the Church even demanded that women’s hands be veiled: ‘A woman may not approach the Eucharist with bare hands’ (Mansi 9, 915).” [Ibid, p. 128].
    And,
    “Invoking a supposed regulation of the Apostle Paul ... Chrysostom bade women ‘be veiled not only at the time of prayer, but continuously’ (Twenty-sixth Homily on 1 Cor. 11:5).” [Ibid, p. 128].
    And,
    “Like Chrysostom, Ambrose too ordered women to go veiled in the streets: ‘Let the woman cover her head, so as to secure her modesty even in public. Her countenance should not be readily offered to the eyes of a young man, and for that reason she should be covered with marriage veil’ (On Pennce I, ch. 16)” [Ibid, p. 129].
    Yusuf Ali comments, “The object was not to restrict the liberty of women, but to protect them from harm and molestation. In the East and in the West a distinctive public dress of some sort or another has always been a badge of honour or distinction, both among men and women. This can be traced back on the earliest civilisations. Assyrian Law in its palmiest days (say, 7th century B.C.), enjoined the veiling of married women and forbade the veiling of slaves and women of ill fame: see Cambridge Ancient History, 111. 107.”
    Separation of women from everyday humdrum of economic struggle has been the norm from the time of Adam, in every age, and every culture, Roman or Chinese, Aztecs or Indian, ancient or modern, Eastern or Western, Judaic or Christian. In Judaism women cannot to this day intermingle with men in the Synogogue. Irksome to modern Jews, they are separated with a curtain. In pre-modern churches, women were not allowed into the Church without a scarve covering the head. In Shakespearian times, women of noble families wore the veil in public. It is only since about 200 years that they began to appear in public without the veils. Two factors have played important role in bringing out women into streets, offices, shops, fields and factories. (1) the spread of material culture, which believes and tolerates only material development of man and society, and (2) two world wars after which shortage of labour was a constraining factor in rebuilding nations in rubble (Au.).
    Mufti Shafi` Deobandi’s comments could be summarized here:
    Covering of the body has been inherited from the first pair Adam and Hawwa. According to all religious traditions, once their private parts became visible, Adam and Hawwa kept themselves covered in Paradise, although husband and wife, with no third human around.
    The Qur’an told us about Shu`ayb’s two shepherd daughters that they stood apart and gave the reason why they stood apart: men were crowding around the well. Then, when one of them came to invite Musa to her house, it was not on her own, but on the invitation of her father. Similarly, and although hijab verses had not yet been revealed, we find reported that Zaynab sat facing the wall while there were guests in the Prophet’s house. Hence, in all cultures, to remain naked even when privacy is assured, is disapproved. In Islam, if someone prayed naked, in a dark night, at home, with no other human around, his prayer is not valid. In fact, to uncover the body, in private, without any physical or Shari`ah need is also disallowed in Islam.
    Verses revealed in the Qur’an pertaining to hijab are spread in two chapters: this Surah and Surah Nur. Among them, according to consensus, the first to be reveled was the 53rd verse of this chapter, while those of the Surah Nur were the last to be revealed, around 6th year after hijrah.
    To put it breifly, we can say that the veil, hijab, or `awrah are of three levels. (a) Women should ordinarily remain at home. (b) But it is unthinkable that they will not need to go out. Therefore, when they do so, they should cover their whole body, head to foot, exposing an eye. (c) At a third level they should cover the same parts of the body (as under item “b”) against those they cannot marry.
    Many people argue that the face is not included in hijab. But the question that arises is, if the face is not included, what was the point in asking the Prophet’s wives to interact with men from behind a veil. If the face is excluded, what was the point in the curtain?
    Some people have tried to project verse 53 as applicable to the Prophet’s wives alone. But, one may ask, for what reason should common women be considered incapable of rising to high moral and spiritual levels? Why should they be considered lower in spiritual abilities that the wives of the Prophet should have been asked to remain in full hijab, but other, common women not? Sabuni adds: How could the veil have been necessary for the mothers of the believers whom the believers could never marry, but not the common women whom they can marry? (Rawa’i`).
    Thus there are various levels of `awrah depending on the kinds and classes of men a woman interacts with. Her whole person is `awrah against a ghayr mahram (against whom there is no legal prohibition for her to marry, at any time in her life). This is the position of the four fuqaha’ and almost all classical scholars. The only difference is that as against the other three (Ahmad, Malik and Shafe`i), Abu Hanifah declared that the face and hands are not included in hijab so long as there is no fear of fitnah. Fitnah is defined as a man looking at a woman with shahwah (carnal desire). If that happens, then she must cover her face. Thus, in a way Abu Hanifah did not digress much from the position held by the other three Imams.
    Shami writes in his Radd al-Muhtar: “If there is fear of shawah (carnal look), it is prohibited for a man to look at a woman’s face at any time. Thus, looking at the face is lawful under the condition of lack of shahwah. That, significantly, was in those times. As for our times, it is prohibited altogether to look at a young woman’s face unless it is for identification or some such unavoidable reason. With reference to Prayers, a young woman should not be allowed to Pray along with males with her face uncovered (Shafi`). This is the reason why many women cover their faces during Hajj rites, even in the Grand Mosque, despite the ban on covering the face while in the consecrated state (ihram) – Au.
    Interestingly, inspired by, or put to shame by Muslim women in full Hijab, some Jewish women have, particularly in Israel, began to don the Burqah, fully covering their faces. They are derided as Talibanis – from the strictly Islamic group called Taliban (Au.).
    151. It is said that in early Islam as women – both free as well as slaves - went out by the evenings to attend to nature’s call (there were no toilets within the homes then: Qurtubi), they encountered men who teased them. The specific manner of covering themselves distinguished free women from slave-girls, who were thus spared molestation (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf, Ibn Kathir). Hence the following verse chiding the hypocrites who teased and taunted women as they passed by them (Au.).

    لَئِنْ لَمْ يَنْتَهِ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ وَالْمُرْجِفُونَ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ لَنُغْرِيَنَّكَ بِهِمْ ثُمَّ لَا يُجَاوِرُونَكَ فِيهَا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا (60)

    33|60| If the hypocrites do not desist, those in whose hearts is a disease152 and those who stir agitation153 in Madinah, We shall surely urge you on against them,154 then they will not remain your neighbors,155 but for a short while.156

    152. Surah Al-Tawbah had identified ten types of hypocrites. The allusion here, according to `Ikrimah, Abu Salih and Ibn Zayd, is to the type that commits adultery; and the allusion by ‘the disease in the hearts’ is to the predisposition to extra-marital sex (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    153. The allusion by “irjaf” is to sedition, agitation, and rumors that the hypocrites caused and spread, until they lost all hopes of Islam being overcome, and their numbers began to dwindle (Au. from Ibn Jarir).
    A popular pastime for the hypocrites was to spread rumors such as: ‘a Muslim expedition has lost such and such a battle,’ or, ‘so many are repoted to have been killed,’ etc. (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, Thanwi).
    In Mawdudi’s words, “The allusion is to such people who, in order to cause panic among the Muslims and to lower their morale, used to spread rumors in Madinah to the effect that the Muslims had suffered such and such a serious setback, that a huge army was gathering together against them at such and such a place, that Madinah was under threat of a sudden attack, etc. They had other pastimes besides this. They would concoct and spread stories about the domestic life of the Prophet’s household and of other prominent Mulisms so as to plant suspicion among the commonfolk and destroy the moral influence of those implicated.”
    154. While a close second meaning is “stir you against them,” Ibn `Abbas said it means, “We will make you prevail over them” – Ibn Jarir.
    155. A beautiful way of making a commonplace statement, namely, they would be thrown out of Madinah (Au.).
    156. However, they remained in Madinah, to survive even after the Prophet’s death, giving us a rule that while a promise should be kept, a threat need not be necessarily executed (Thanwi).

    مَلْعُونِينَ ۖ أَيْنَمَا ثُقِفُوا أُخِذُوا وَقُتِّلُوا تَقْتِيلًا (61)

    33|61| Accursed wherever found,157 seized and cut down to pieces.

    157. Asad comments: “In classical Arabic, the term la`nah is more or less synonymous with ib`ad (’removal into distance’ or ‘banishment’); hence, God’s la`nah denotes ‘His rejection of a sinner from all that is good’ (Lisan al-`Arab) or ‘exclusion from His grace’ (Manar II, 50). The term mal`un which occurs in verse 61 below signifies, therefore, ‘one who is bereft of God’s mercy.’"

    سُنَّةَ اللَّهِ فِي الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِنْ قَبْلُ ۖ وَلَنْ تَجِدَ لِسُنَّةِ اللَّهِ تَبْدِيلًا (62)

    33|62| Allah’s way with those who went earlier, and you shall never find any alteration in Allah’s way.158

    158. Just as there has been no change in physical, natural laws that organize and run the universe, there has not been, and will not be anytime in the future, any change in moral laws too (Au.).

    يَسْأَلُكَ النَّاسُ عَنِ السَّاعَةِ ۖ قُلْ إِنَّمَا عِلْمُهَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ ۚ وَمَا يُدْرِيكَ لَعَلَّ السَّاعَةَ تَكُونُ قَرِيبًا (63)

    33|63| People ask you concerning the Hour. Say, ‘The knowledge of it is with Allah (alone).’ And what will teach you (that) perhaps the Hour is close!

    إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَعَنَ الْكَافِرِينَ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ سَعِيرًا (64)

    33|64| Indeed, Allah has cursed the unbelievers and has prepared for them a Blaze.

    خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۖ لَا يَجِدُونَ وَلِيًّا وَلَا نَصِيرًا (65)

    33|65| Abiding therein forever. They shall not find (therein) a friend nor a helper.

    يَوْمَ تُقَلَّبُ وُجُوهُهُمْ فِي النَّارِ يَقُولُونَ يَا لَيْتَنَا أَطَعْنَا اللَّهَ وَأَطَعْنَا الرَّسُولَا (66)

    33|66| The day their faces are turned about in the Fire, they saying, ‘Woe to us! Would that we had obeyed Allah and had obeyed the Messenger.’

    وَقَالُوا رَبَّنَا إِنَّا أَطَعْنَا سَادَتَنَا وَكُبَرَاءَنَا فَأَضَلُّونَا السَّبِيلَا (67)

    33|67| And they would say, ‘O our Lord! Indeed, we obeyed our leaders and our great ones, but they led us astray from the way.

    رَبَّنَا آتِهِمْ ضِعْفَيْنِ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ وَالْعَنْهُمْ لَعْنًا كَبِيرًا (68)

    33|68| O our Lord! Inflict them with double the punishment, and curse them with a great curse.’

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ آذَوْا مُوسَىٰ فَبَرَّأَهُ اللَّهُ مِمَّا قَالُوا ۚ وَكَانَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَجِيهًا (69)

    33|69| Believers! Do not be like those who annoyed Musa.159 But Allah cleared him of what they uttered. He was highly esteemed in Allah’s sight.

    159. Majid quotes, “Moses had to suffer ‘many indignities and insults from a rebellious and recalcitrant people, even from his closest relatives, who were jealous of his leadership’ (VJE, p. 442).
    Yusuf Ali adds: “The people of Moses often vexed him and rebelled against him and against God’s Law. Here the reference seems to be to Num. xii. 1-13. It is there said that Moses’s own sister Miriam and his brother Aaron spoke against Moses because Moses had married an Ethiopian woman. God cleared Moses of the charge of having done anything wrong: ”My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house." Miriam was afflicted with leprosy for seven days as a punishment, after which she was forgiven, as also was Aaron. ‘This is the Old Testament story. The holy Prophet was also attacked because of his marriage with Zainab bint Jahsh, but not by his own circle, his motives were of the highest (order) and were completely vindicated as we have seen."
    Ahmed has preserved, as also the Shaihayn, that once when the Prophet (saws) divided the booty, someone objected saying,

    إن هذه القسمة ما أريد بها وجه الله عز وجل .. فذكرت ذلك للنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فاحمر وجهه وقال: رحمة الله على موسى قد أوذي باكثر من هذا فصبر.

    "Allah's good pleasure was not sought by this division." This was conveyed to the Prophet. His face reddened (with anger) and he remarked, "May Allah show mercy to Musa. He was given greater pain than this, but he observed patience."
    (Haythami treated this and similar reports with some skepticism: Au.). Other reports, as in Ahmed and Abu Da'ud have it that the Prophet once remarked,

    عن عبد الله بن مسعود قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لأصحابه: لا يبلغني أحد عن أحد من أصحابي شيئا فإني أحب أن أخرج اليكم وأنا سليم الصدر قال: وأتى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مال فقسمه قال: فمررت برجلين وأحدهما يقول لصاحبه: والله ما أراد محمد بقسمته وجه الله ولا الدار الآخرة فتثبت حتى سمعت ما قالا ثم أتيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقلت: يا رسول الله إنك قلت لنا لا يبلغني أحد عن أحد من أصحابي شيئا وإني مررت بفلان وفلان وهما يقولان كذا وكذا قال: فاحمر وجه رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وشق عليه ثم قال: دعنا منك فقد أوذي موسى أكثر من ذلك ثم صبر

    "Let not anyone of you convery anything to me about my Companions. I wish to carry a clean heart as I come out before you." But, thereafter some goods came to him and he distributed them. Then I (the narrator) passed by two men, one of whom was saying to his companions, "By Allah, Muhammad did not aim at Allah's approval, nor at the Hereafter through this division of his." I stayed there until I heard what the two were saying. Then I went to the Prophet and told him, “Messenger of Allah. You have said, ‘Let not anyone of you convey anything to me about my Companions. I wish to carry a clean heart as I come out before you.’ Now, I passed by so and so and they were saying such and such a thing. The Prophet’s face became red, as it was quite hard on him (to hear that). He said, "Spare me of you. Musa was given greater pain than this but he remained patient" (Ibn Kathir and Shawkani in part).
    Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Zayd, and others reported the following as their own statements which is strengthened by a hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah:

    عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِنَّ مُوسَى كَانَ رَجُلًا حَيِيًّا سِتِّيرًا لَا يُرَى مِنْ جِلْدِهِ شَيْءٌ اسْتِحْيَاءً مِنْهُ فَآذَاهُ مَنْ آذَاهُ مِنْ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ فَقَالُوا مَا يَسْتَتِرُ هَذَا التَّسَتُّرَ إِلَّا مِنْ عَيْبٍ بِجِلْدِهِ إِمَّا بَرَصٌ وَإِمَّا أُدْرَةٌ وَإِمَّا آفَةٌ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ أَرَادَ أَنْ يُبَرِّئَهُ مِمَّا قَالُوا لِمُوسَى فَخَلَا يَوْمًا وَحْدَهُ فَوَضَعَ ثِيَابَهُ عَلَى الْحَجَرِ ثُمَّ اغْتَسَلَ فَلَمَّا فَرَغَ أَقْبَلَ إِلَى ثِيَابِهِ لِيَأْخُذَهَا وَإِنَّ الْحَجَرَ عَدَا بِثَوْبِهِ فَأَخَذَ مُوسَى عَصَاهُ وَطَلَبَ الْحَجَرَ فَجَعَلَ يَقُولُ ثَوْبِي حَجَرُ ثَوْبِي حَجَرُ حَتَّى انْتَهَى إِلَى مَلَإٍ مِنْ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ فَرَأَوْهُ عُرْيَانًا أَحْسَنَ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ وَأَبْرَأَهُ مِمَّا يَقُولُونَ وَقَامَ الْحَجَرُ فَأَخَذَ ثَوْبَهُ فَلَبِسَهُ وَطَفِقَ بِالْحَجَرِ ضَرْبًا بِعَصَاهُ فَوَاللَّهِ إِنَّ بِالْحَجَرِ لَنَدَبًا مِنْ أَثَرِ ضَرْبِهِ ثَلَاثًا أَوْ أَرْبَعًا أَوْ خَمْسًا فَذَلِكَ قَوْلُهُ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ آذَوْا مُوسَى فَبَرَّأَهُ اللَّهُ مِمَّا قَالُوا وَكَانَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَجِيهًا (البخاري)

    "Musa was a shy man and careful about covering himself. He would never bare any part of his body out of modesty. But some of the Israelites offended him saying, 'nothing prevents him from exposing his body to this extent but some kind of defect: either it is leprosy, scrotal hernia, or some other problem.' Allah (swt) wished to clear Musa of what they alleged. One day, assured of privacy, Musa took out his clothes, placed them on a stone and began to bathe. When he was finished he went for his clothes. But the stone began to roll away along with the clothes. Musa took his rod and ran after it saying, 'O stone! My clothes. O stone! My clothes.' The chase ended with a group of Israelites. They saw him naked and found him best of Allah's creation. Thus he was cleared of their allegation. The stone halted. He put on his clothes and began to strike the stone with his rod. And, by Allah, the beating left marks on the stone, either three or four or five." Then the Prophet added, "It is in this reference that Allah revealed, 'Believers! Do not be like those who annoyed Musa. So Allah cleared him of what they uttered. He was highly esteemed in Allah's sight'" (Ibn Jarir).
    Bukhari and Muslim have preserved this report. Muslim's version has it at the start that, "The Israelites used to bathe naked with some of them looking at the private parts of others. But Musa would bathe alone. They said, 'Surely, there is some defect in him ..'" (Qurtubi).
    Time has taken a full circle. Western Jews and Christians bathe naked before each other. In fact, it is reported that in hostels, girls bathe and walk back naked to their rooms (Au.).
    Another instance of the Israelites annoying their Prophet is when Qaroon became envious of him and sent a prostitute in an assembly to allege that Musa had an affair with her. However, when she stood face to face with him, she retracted her earlier statement and confessed that the whole thing had been framed. A third instance of annoying Musa is that when Haroon died, the Israeites alleged that Musa had killed him. They said, "He was more linient with us than you, and loved us more than you" (Ibn Jarir). The report is in Ibn Abi Hatim. In other words, there were many instances of the Israelites causing pain to (the greatest of) their Prophet (Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Qurtubi points out that if one is assured of privacy, he could bathe naked, even in a pond. However, it is preferable to remain covered. It is reported that Hasan b. `Ali entered into a pond with a cloak around. When questioned, he said, "I covered myself from One who sees me but Whom I do not see."
    As to how could Musa say to a lifeless stone, "O stone! My clothes!?" The answer is: it is because the stone was behaving not like a lifeless thing, but very much like one that had life.

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا (70)

    33|70| Believers! Fear Allah and say words aimed at the truth.160

    160. The translation of the textual “sadida” is influenced by Zamakhshari’s understanding. Literally, however, it means to aim at being straightforward and unambiguous. That is, adds Qurtubi, words whose apparent meaning is the intended one. Asad put is as, “literally, ‘a saying that hits the mark,’ i.e., is truthful, relevant and to the point.”
    The Islamic directive in this regard is in contrast to the modern civilized man, who says one thing but means another. He gives his words a construction that supports double-speak. In today’s Western world this is such an outstanding quality that speeches receive standing ovation more for saying the opposite of what is intended than for making a clear statement. One is a poor statesman if he speaks out his true intentions. It can be safely said that when a Muslim politician makes a statement, one might carefully note his words, because that is exactly how he is going to keep it, no less, nor more, while, when a Western politician makes a statement, one might carefully examine the words, because he has stated therein how he is not going to keep it (Au.).
    Zamakhshari also points out that this urging to aim at the truth is in contrast with the previous verse where it was said that the believers should not annoy the Prophet, which can happen through false allegations.

    يُصْلِحْ لَكُمْ أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ ۗ وَمَنْ يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا (71)

    33|71| He will set right your deeds for you and forgive you your sins. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, has surely achieved a great triumph.

    إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَنْ يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنْسَانُ ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا (72)

    33|72| Indeed, We offered the Trust161 to the heavens and the earth and the mountains,162 but they declined that they should bear it, and were afraid thereof.163 But Man undertook it. Indeed, he was quite unjust, quite foolish.164

    161. There have been various opinions explaining what “amanah” stands for. It has been said that the allusion is to the testimony. `Ali ibn Abi Talib’s opinion was that the allusion by amanah is to Prayers. (His countenance would change its hue at the time of Prayers. When asked he would explain, “The time has come for being true to the trust”: Alusi).
    Ubay b. Ka`b said that a woman’s private part is her amanah. Ibn Mas`ud said that the reference was to wealth, property, and things handed over in trust. He is also reported to have said that it is the Islamic obligations in general, but the most difficult was that which is related to wealth. Abu al-Darda’ said the allusion was to major ablution after sexual intercourse, i.e., if you wished you bathed, if you did not, you did not, nobody would know about it (Qurtubi).
    Ibn `Abbas, Sa`id b. Jubayr, Qatadah and others said that the allusion by the textual “amanah” is to obligations declared mandatory by Allah, and the limits set by His commands. Notwithstanding the various opinions, the great majority throughout the ages has accepted this last opinion as the correct interpretation (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Alusi and others).
    In short, the amanah in question is for what the humans know, or have been taught by the Revelation and placed with the as a trust. Acting against them will be the opposite of amanah, i.e., khiyanah in Arabic, or dishonesty in English (Au.).
    It appears that when inanimate objects were asked to carry the burden of amanah, they understood that it would imply receiving freedom of the will, and therefore cringed at the idea, realizing that with the freedom to choose and the power to act, they might err. But man hastened to carry the burden and thus implicitly accepted to have freedom of the will. Singificantly, there is hardly any difference in opinion that the root cause of all human catastrophe, and, to a limited scale, of the natural also, at least on the earth, is man’s freedom of will. He has always acted wrongly. Yet, no thinker ever suggested that it would have been better if man did not have this power. Thus the burden of amanah remains with the humanity, by choice, and a great reality is concealed in Allah’s words viz., “But Man undertook it. Indeed, he was very unjust, very foolish” (Au.).
    A contemporary commentator has said that the reference by trust is to khilafah. But none of the Salaf have said any such thing. In fact, they never believed in the khilafah (of modern concept), nor spoke of it any oftener than they spoke of the earth’s roundness. Secondly, if it is khilafah that is meant, then the next question would be: over whom was the khilafah to be exercised, if the heavens and the earth were to bear it? In other words, if the heavens and the earth had accepted the burden of khilafah, over whom would they have exercised their sovereignty to fulfill its demands of khilafah? (Au.).
    Majid comments: “(Trust) i.e., moral responsibility, which is human sense of answerableness for all acts of thought and conduct. Its first and foremost prerequisite is freedom of choice, which is the real function of a human being as a moral agent. The ‘trust’ referred to is obviously the trust of free choice or accountability.”
    Yusuf Ali writes: “The Trust is something given to a person, over which he has a power of disposition; he is expected to use it as directed or expected, but he has the power to use it otherwise. There is no trust if the trustee has no power, and the trust implies that the giver of the trust believes and expects that the trustee would use it according to the wish of the creator of the trust, and not otherwise.”
    In Asad’s words, “.. the most convincing .. (mentioned in Lane I, 102, with reference to the above verse) are ‘reason’, or ‘intellect’, and ‘the faculty of volition’ – i.e., the ability to choose between two or more possible courses of action or mode of behavior, and thus between good and evil.”
    Ibn Jarir, and, following him Ibn Kathir, present several ahadith with reference to amanah, one of which has Haythami's approval. It says,

    قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: "إن الأمانة والوفاء نزلا على ابن آدم مع الأنبياء، فأرسلوا به، فمنهم رسول الله، ومنهم نبي، ومنهم نبي رسول، ونزل القرآن وهو كلام الله، ونزلت العربية والعجمية، فعلموا أمر القرآن وعلموا أمر السنن بألسنتهم، ولم يدع الله شيئا من أمره مما يأتون وما يجتنبون وهي الحجج عليهم، إلا بينه لهم. فليس أهل لسان إلا وهم يعرفون الحسن والقبيح، ثم الأمانة أول شيء يرفع ويبقى أثرها في جذور قلوب الناس، ثم يرفع الوفاء والعهد والذمم وتبقى الكتب ، فعالم يعمل، وجاهل يعرفها وينكرها ولا يحملها، حتى وصل إليّ وإلى أمتي، ولا يهلك على الله إلا هالك، ولا يغفله إلا تارك. فالحذر أيها الناس، وإياكم والوسواس الخناس، فإنما يبلوكم أيكم أحسن عملا

    The Prophet said: "Trust and Compact came down to the children of Adam with the Prophets; they were sent with it. Some of them were Allah's Messengers, others Prophets, yet others Messenger-cum-Prophets. Then the Qur'an was sent, which is Allah's speech; and Arabic and non-Arabic (languages) came down. So they knew the Qur'anic command and the Sunan in their language. Allah did not leave anything that was obligatory on them or was prohibited, but it was explained to them – leaving them no excuse; so that there was none of the people of the tongue but who knew the difference between good and bad. Then it happened that the Trust was first removed from people's hearts so that a tiny point of it remained in the depth of their hearts. Then the word of honor, compacts, and sense of responsibility happened to be taken away.
    “The books remained. The knowledgeable acted (according to the demands of Trust). As for the ignorant, he knew, but denied and refused to carry the burden – until the affair came down to me and to my Ummah.
    “And none will destroy himself before Allah, except he who is bent on it; and none will abandon it but he who is heedless. So beware O people. And, be warned of the whisperings of the Devil. You are being tried to discover which of you is fair in practice."
    Ibn Kathir declares the above as pretty weak, but adds that it has supporting statements of the Prophet, i.e. bits and pieces of statements here, contained in Sahih ahadith.
    Finally, we have the famous hadith preserved by Bukhari:

    عَنْ زَيْدِ بْنِ وَهْبٍ حَدَّثَنَا حُذَيْفَةُ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ - صلى الله عليه وسلم - حَدِيثَيْنِ رَأَيْتُ أَحَدَهُمَا وَأَنَا أَنْتَظِرُ الآخَرَ ، حَدَّثَنَا « أَنَّ الأَمَانَةَ نَزَلَتْ فِى جَذْرِ قُلُوبِ الرِّجَالِ ، ثُمَّ عَلِمُوا مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ ، ثُمَّ عَلِمُوا مِنَ السُّنَّةِ » . وَحَدَّثَنَا عَنْ رَفْعِهَا قَالَ « يَنَامُ الرَّجُلُ النَّوْمَةَ فَتُقْبَضُ الأَمَانَةُ مِنْ قَلْبِهِ ، فَيَظَلُّ أَثَرُهَا مِثْلَ أَثَرِ الْوَكْتِ ، ثُمَّ يَنَامُ النَّوْمَةَ فَتُقْبَضُ فَيَبْقَى أَثَرُهَا مِثْلَ الْمَجْلِ ، كَجَمْرٍ دَحْرَجْتَهُ عَلَى رِجْلِكَ فَنَفِطَ ، فَتَرَاهُ مُنْتَبِرًا ، وَلَيْسَ فِيهِ شَىْءٌ ، فَيُصْبِحُ النَّاسُ يَتَبَايَعُونَ فَلاَ يَكَادُ أَحَدٌ يُؤَدِّى الأَمَانَةَ ، فَيُقَالُ إِنَّ فِى بَنِى فُلاَنٍ رَجُلاً أَمِينًا . وَيُقَالُ لِلرَّجُلِ مَا أَعْقَلَهُ وَمَا أَظْرَفَهُ وَمَا أَجْلَدَهُ . وَمَا فِى قَلْبِهِ مِثْقَالُ حَبَّةِ خَرْدَلٍ مِنْ إِيمَانٍ » [صحيح البخارى]

    Zayd b. Wahab reported: Hudhayfah told us that the Prophet spoke of two things to us, of which I saw one fulfilled, while I wait for the other to happen. He said, "Trust came down into the roots of men's hearts. Then they learned the Qur'an and learnt the Sunnah." And he spoke to us about they being withdrawn saying, "A man will take a nap and the Trust (amanah) will be withdrawn from his heart so that its effect will remain in the like manner of a light (darkish) patch. Then he will take a nap and it will be withdrawn so that its effect will be left like a rough area as the effect of hard work on the hand, like a spark which you stamped with your foot to put it off, so that you see him as an outstanding person, although there is nothing (of any worth) in him.
    "Then the people will deal with each other but you will hardly find a man who would honor the trust so that it will be said, 'There is one among so and so who is trustworthy.' And it will be said about a man, 'How clever? How smart? And, how pretty!’ But he will not have a grain of belief in his heart."
    Another of interest is as follows:

    عن عبد الله بن مسعود، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال: "القتل في سبيل الله يكفر الذنوب كلها -أو قال: يكفر كل شيء -إلا الأمانة، يؤتى بصاحب الأمانة فيقال له: أدِّ أمانتك. فيقول: أنى يا رب وقد ذهبت الدنيا؟ فيقال له: أدِّ أمانتك. فيقول: أنى يا رب، وقد ذهبت الدنيا؟ فيقال له: أدِّ أمانتك. فيقول: أنى يا رب وقد ذهبت الدنيا؟ فيقول: اذهبوا به إلى أمه الهاوية. فيذهب به إلى الهاوية، فيهوي فيها حتى ينتهي إلى قعرها، فيجدها هنالك كهيئتها، فيحملها فيضعها على عاتقه، فيصعد بها إلى شفير جهنم، حتى إذا رأى أنه قد خرج زلَّت فهوى في أثرها أبد الآبدين"

    On the authority of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, the Prophet said, "Being killed in the way of Allah expiates all sins – or he said, expiates everything – except for trust (amanah). The man (with the responsibility) of trusts (not honored) will be brought forth and said, 'Return the trust.' He will say, 'Aye my Lord, the world is gone.' He will be told, 'Return the trust.' He will say, 'Aye my Lord, the world is gone.' He will be told, 'Return the trust.' He will say, 'Aye my Lord, the world is gone.' He will say, 'Take him to his abode, the Hawiyyah.' He will be taken to the Hawiyyah and (given a push) he will begin to plunge until he lands at its bottom. There he will find the like of it (i.e. trusts). He will lift it to his shoulders, and begin to climb with it to the edge of Jahannum; until when he thinks that he would be getting out, he will slip and fall back - that happening eternally."
    Ibn Kathir says that the report has a good chain of narrators.
    On the topic, we add the following. One is from Tirmidhi and others. It says:

    أَدِّ الأَمَانَةَ إِلَى مَنِ ائْتَمَنَكَ وَلاَ تَخُنْ مَنْ خَانَكَ

    "Honor the trust unto he who trusted you and, do not deceive him who deceives you."
    Tirmidhi declares it as Hasan. However, Haythamiyy judged the version in Tabarani as Sahih.
    Yet another on this topic is in Musnad of Ahmad and others, about which Haythamiyy said that one of the narrators in the chain was declared weak by Nasa'i, but whom Ibn Ma`een considered trustworthy. It says:

    عنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ قَالَ مَا خَطَبَنَا نَبِىُّ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- إِلاَّ قَالَ « لاَ إِيمَانَ لِمَنْ لاَ أَمَانَةَ لَهُ وَلاَ دِينَ لِمَنْ لاَ عَهْدَ لَهُ ».

    Anas b. Malik said that the Prophet never addressed us but he said, "There is no faith in him who has no amanah, and there is no religion in him who does not keep the promise."
    Also see Surah al-Nisa, note no. 180 of this work for some other details (Au.).
    162. One might note that the offer was made in turns from the highest to the lowest: heavens, earth, mountains (Au.).
    163. This refusal, points out Razi, was not the kind of refusal that Iblis had committed. His refusal was against a command, whereas these inanimate objects were, sort of, consulted. Secondly, his refusal was out of pride whereas theirs was out of humbleness.
    164. Ibn `Abbas is severally reported, as also Dahhak that, Adam was told, “Will you undertake it (the amanah) in good spirit?" He asked, “And what is being in ‘good spirit’?” He was told, “If you did well, you will be rewarded, but punished if you went awry.” He accepted. But it was not between `Asr and Maghrib times but he had already sinned which resulted in his removal from Paradise. According to other reports he was told that the heavens and the earth and the mountains had refused to undertake the trust. But he volunteered all the same (Ibn Jarir). [We have translated a few words as they appear in other reports: Au.].
    The report is in Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn al-Anbari, Ibn Abi Shaybah and others including Hakim who declared it trustworthy (Shawkani). And, of course, the `Asr and Maghrib of above reference is to the `Asr and Maghrib of the other world. The above also impacts that it was freedom to choose that led the inanimate objects to shrink back from the undertaking (Au.).
    Ibn Kathir adds: A report in the Sahihayn tells us on the authority of Hudhayfah that:
    ???
    There is another report in this connection worth reproducing. On the authority of `Abdullah ibn `Amr, the Prophet said,

    "أربع إذا كن فيك فلا عليك ما فاتك من الدنيا: حفظ أمانة، وصدق حديث، وحسن خليقة، وعفة طعمة"

    “If you are endowed with four characteristics, then it does not matter what you miss out of this world: Honoring the trust, truthful talk, good character, and lawful food” (Ibn Kathir). Haythami did not grant it his full approval (Au.).
    Compare this with the characteristics of a hypocrite described by the Prophet: “When he is entrusted he fails, when he speaks he lies and when he quarrels he speaks bad words” (Au.).
    Shawkani makes a useful addition, which, after its correction by S.Ibrhaim is as follows: The Prophet said, i.e., “There is no faith in him who has no amanah, and he has no religion who has no covenant.” (That is, who does not keep his promise: Au.). The narrative was declared trustworthy by Albani.
    Compare this with the characteristics of a hypocrite described by the Prophet: “When he is entrusted he fails, when he speaks he lies and when he quarrels he speaks bad words” (Au.).
    Amanah in fact, adds Ibn Kathir, is of such a high value that one might not swear by it. The Prophet (saws) said, as in a report of Ahmad, “Whoever swore by amanah is not of us.”
    Ibn Kathir also narrates the report of Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali in his Kitab al-Zuhd, that it was either Khunas or Jabalah b. Suhaym who said, “I was returning with Ziyad b. Hudayr from Jabiyyah that I said during a conversation, ‘No, by the amanah.” Ziyad began to weep and weep. I began to wonder whether I had committed a great fault.” (It was because early in Islam swearing by the amanah was considered a sin (Au.).

    لِيُعَذِّبَ اللَّهُ الْمُنَافِقِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ وَالْمُشْرِكَاتِ وَيَتُوبَ اللَّهُ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا (73)

    33|73| That He may chastise hypocritical men and hypocritical women, polytheistic men and polytheistic women,165 and so that Allah may turn (in mercy) upon believing men and believing women.166 And ever Allah was All-forgiving, All-compassionate.167

    165. That is, Man’s acceptance of the Trust became the cause of the chastisement of the hypocrites and pagans (Imam Razi, Qurtubi, Alusi and others).
    166. Hasan said that the implication is that these two classes of human beings, hypocrites and unbelievers, did not keep the trust, while those who kept it were the believers (Ibn Jarir).
    In other words, to acknowledge the Oneness of one’s Creator is to prove true, and to refuse is to dishonor the greatest of trusts that man is entrusted with (Au.).
    167. Some people have thought that “zalum and jahul” are fond expressions rather than those expressing anger or criticism (Shabbir).
    It may be noted that in contrast to man’s two qualities: injustice and foolishness, Allah (swt) brought two of His own Qualities: very forgiving (of man’s injustices), very kind (in face of his foolishness). Further, Allah knew that man is unjust and foolish, yet entrusted him with the amanah, in knowledge that He will respond to him with forgiveness and kindness, if he fell short (Razi). 