Surat Al-Fatĥ

What is the Qur'an About?

Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma`ani
by
Syed Iqbal Zaheer

تفسير إِشراقُ المَعَاني
سيد إقبال ظهير

PREPARATORY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the words of Arberry:

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

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

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

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

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

و ف إنَّ

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

وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً [النساء : 4]

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

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

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

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

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

Further down he writes:

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

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

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

He adds a little further,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْهَا رِيَاحًا وَلا تَجْعَلْهَا رِيحًا

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

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

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

اللَّهُمَّ فَقِّهْهُ فِي الدِّينِ وَعَلِّمْهُ التَّأْوِيلَ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syed Iqbal Zaheer
March 2015

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References, abbreviations, and technical terms

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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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".

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  • Surah No. 48

    Merits of thr Surah

    1. Reports in the Sahihayn say,
    Mu`awiyyah b. Qurrah said that he heard `Abdullah b. Mughaffal al-Muzani narrate, “The Prophet (saws) recited surah al-Fath during the journey he undertook in the year of Makkah’s fall. He was on his mount, and did the recitation in a vibrating, pleasant tone.” Then Mu`awiyyah added, “Were I not afraid that the people will gather together around me, I would imitate his recitation” (Ibn Kathir, Shawkani).
    There is unanimity over the opinion that this surah was revealed in the sixth year after Hijrah, during the return journey from Hudaybiyyah, (somewhere between Makkah and Madinah), and that the allusion by the victory is to the peace treaty signed there. Ibn Mas`ud used to say, “You people think that ‘the victory’ was the victorious entry into Makkah, which of course was a victory. But we used to consider the peace treaty at Hudaybiyyah as 'the victory'.”
    The same is reported of Jabir, and of Bara’ b. ` Azib who said, as in Bukhari,
    “You reckon the victory (of reference) as the fall of Makkah. Of course Makkan fall was a victory, but we used to count the Ridwan Pledge on the day of Hudaybiyyah as the true victory. We were a thousand and four hundred in number and Hudaybiyyah was actually the name of the well from which we drew water until we left not a drop in it. This was reported to the Prophet. So he came down, sat at its edge and asked for a pitcher of water. He made ablution with it, supplicated, and spat into the well a mouthful of water. Then he emptied the rest of the water into it. After that we left it. And, it was not long before it sprang out enough water for us as well as for our animals” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir in different words).

    بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحًا مُبِينًا (1)

    48|1| Indeed, We have granted you a clear victory.2

    2. Despite the above note, the question remains: to what victory is the allusion? The answer is, to several. The Hudaybiyyah peace treaty brought down the walls between Muslims and non-Muslims. This led to intermingling, interactions, and interfaith dialogue, which led to large-scale entry into Islam, so that, more people embraced Islam in two years following the treaty than had during the last 20 years. The peace-treaty also gave the Muslims equal status against the pagan Arabs. It enhanced Muslim prestige by the very fact of forcing the Quraysh into a treaty they were far from willing to sign. In time, the treaty led to the fall of Makkah with little bloodshed; so little bloodshed that the Muslim scholars are divided over whether it was captured by force or peacefully. In its wake, the fall of Makkah brought another larger victory. The common Arabs – although convinced of Islam - were waiting for the results of the struggle between the Prophet and the Quraysh. When the Quraysh leadership joined the Prophet’s forces, the Arabs of the entire Peninsula began embracing Islam in droves (Au.).
    The relationship of this surah, adds Razi, with the previous one should be obvious. The previous one ended by saying, “Here you are, being invited to expend in Allah’s cause, then, of you are some who are miserly, although whoever is miserly, is miserly unto Himself,” and this one seems to ask as to why they should not be expending when Allah has granted them a clear victory. And past tense was employed when it was said, “Indeed We have granted you..” to give the impression that the giving of the victory is so certain that it is as if a thing of the past.
    Sha`bi said: The victory that has been alluded to here is not one but several which took place at the time the surah was revealed viz., the Ridwan Pledge, the Hudaybiyyah Treaty, the fall of Khayber, the victory of the (Christian) Romans over the (pagan) Persians, and, the Arab entry into Islam by the thousands (Ibn Jarir, Shawkani).
    The textual term “fath” has the literal meaning of “opening.” The treaty at Hudaybiyyah opened up the hearts of the Arabs for Islam. The details of the affair are as follows:
    The Hudaybiyyah Affair
    The Prophet and his Companions left for Makkah intending to perform `Umrah in the sixth year after Hijrah. That was in Dhu al-Qa`idah – one of the sacred months when fighting was considered impermissible. However, and although he had no other intention but to visit the house, the Prophet (saws) was apprehensive that either the Quraysh will try to fight, or, in the least, prevent his entry into Makkah. Therefore, he suggested to the tribes around Madinah to travel with him. But they would not budge from their place. So he collected whomsoever he could of the Muhajir and Ansar along with a few others, and started off. It was in reference to this that the Qur’an said, “Those who stayed behind of the Bedouins will say to you..” It is said that these were Juhaynah, Banu Bakr, and Muzaynah tribes.
    However, as they were some distance out of Madinah, someone suggested to the Prophet: “Are you traveling into enemy treaty without arms?” So he sent across some men to fetch back every kind of arm they could.
    They were between fourteen and fifteen hundred in number. (Ibn Is-haq’s report that they were around 800, is incorrect. His estimate was based on the number of camels that were slaughtered: Alusi).
    At Dhu al-Hulayfah, they put on their pilgrim’s garb and the Prophet collared 70 camels, thus marking them as sacrificial animals and sent forward Busr b. Sufyan, to find out how the Quraysh would react.
    When they reached ‘Usfan, Busr brought the news that the Quraysh had put on leopard skins, had placed their women and children at stake, had marched up to Dhu Tuwa. They, and had sworn to Allah that the Prophet will not enter the city. Khalid b. al-Wal id was also advancing with a detachment of 200 horsemen, and was then reported to be at Kura` al-Ghamim. The Prophet consulted his Companions. He suggested that they should first attack Quraysh allies in order to leave the Quraysh fend for themselves without reliance upon others. But Abu Bakr said that they had started off intending to visit the Holy House, with no intention to attack anyone; therefore, they ought to continue marching, fighting only if they were prevented entry. The Prophet agreed, and altered his route to avoid encountering any advancing party. When Khalid learnt of the change in route of the Muslim troops, he returned to Makkah.
    When they reached Hudaybiyyah (a place now known as Shamsiyyah: Shabbir) the Prophet’s camel Qasw a’ kneeled down. The Prophet said, “She has been held back by what had held back (Abraha’s) elephant.” He added, “By Him in whose hands is my life, they will not ask me anything today, with the intention of maintaining the consecration of the House, but I will grant them.” After that he prodded the camel and she rose up. He changed his direction a little, away from the Makkan direction and moved on to the other side of Hydaybiyyah arriving at the smaller wells that had very little water. It was not long before his companions were complaining of thirst. He pulled an arrow out of his quill and told them to pitch it into the well. (It was Khirash ibn Umayyah who descended into the well to pith the arrow: Alusi). Water began to gush forth from it and they watered themselves to their satisfaction. According to another report he sat down at the edge of the well and began to supplicate to Allah, seeking water, and the water began to gush forth. Obviously, it is possible to reconcile the two to say that he got his arrow pitched as well as supplicated at the edge. Or, perhaps two wells were involved (on two occasions).
    It was there that he remarked about the Quraysh, “How unfortunate of the Quraysh? Wars destroyed them. Had they left me alone to work among the people, and, had the people embraced Islam, they would have stood to advantage. On the other hand, had the people rejected me, they could have fought me from a position of strength. At all events, what do the Quraysh imagine? By Allah, I shall keep struggling in the cause of Allah until He grants me victory, or I die in His cause.”
    He sent the message to the Quraysh that he had no intention to fight them. He only wished to visit the House. When the message reached the Quraysh, they sent a team of men to assess the situation, open up talks, measure the strength of the Muslims, and judge their resolve to determine how they were likely to behave if they were forced into a battle. On the other hand, they wished to prevent the Muslims’ entry into the city without recourse to force of arms.
    The man chosen by the Quraysh to lead their team was Budayl b. Warq a.’ He was a well-wisher of the Prophet. The delegation made it clear to the Prophet that the Quraysh were bent upon preventing his entry into Makkah. The Prophet stated his objective clearly and spoke of the harm Quraysh belligerency had brought on them. He suggested that they enter into a time-bound treaty of peace until the fog of uncertainty cleared. He also made it plain to them that if they wished to fight, he was ready. The delegation conveyed his message but the Quraysh did not like the message and actually misbehaved with Budayl. They insisted that under no circumstance would they allow him entry, if not for any other reason, then for the fear that the Arabs would deem them weak.
    On his part, the Prophet sent into Makkah one of his men closely related to Khuza`ah tribe, on his personal camel, to emphasize his peaceful purposes. But they were least impressed. They slaughtered his camel and would have all but killed the man, if not for the fear of retaliation by the surrounding tribesmen who were in total disagreement with the Quraysh. Their opinion was that since the Prophet had come for pilgrimage, he should be allowed into Makkah.
    Then the Prophet decided to send across ‘Umar b. al-Khattab to discuss the issue. But `Umar expressed the fear of violence against him since he had no tribal representation to protect him. So `Uthman ibn `Aff an was chosen because of his strong tribal links. Seeking and receiving the protection of his tribal leaders, `Uthman managed to enter into Makkah and convey the message. They allowed him to circumambulate the House but he refused saying, “I shall not do it until the Messenger of Allah has done it.” This seems to have upset the Quraysh who detained him and the rumor spread that he had been murdered. When the Prophet received the news, he got his men assembled under an acacia tree. Except for a single man, Jadd b. Qays (a hypocrite, who concealed himself behind a camel), they all pledged to the last man to fight to death. Since `Uthman was away, the Prophet stretched his right hand and placing it on to the left hand, said, “This is `Uthman’s pledge.”
    This pledge came to be known as the “Ridwan Pledge,” (from the root “to be pleased”) because Allah announced that He was pleased with those who had pledged their hands there. (The pledge drove fear into the hearts of the Quraysh: Shabbir). They sent an emissary for discussions; and, with failure, followed it up with another, as the days passed by. One of the men they chose was ‘Urwah b. Mas`ud of Thaqif tribe. The Prophet repeated to him what he had said to Budayl. `Urwah blamed the Prophet for having brought destruction to his own people. He also remarked that he did not see trustworthy faces around him. The men around him were a motley group who would flee in danger. The Companions were incensed by this remark. When `Urwah passed his fingers through the Prophet’s beard, Mughirah b. Sho`bah struck at his hand with the butt of his sword saying, “Off with your hand from the Prophet’s beard ..” `Urwah returned to the Quraysh to say that he had been to Roman and Persian emperors, but had not observed such love and respect as the Prophet commanded.
    Next to come was Hulays, a chieftain of the influential non-Makkan tribe. When he saw sacrificial marks on the animals, he did not think necessary to speak to the Prophet. He turned back to tell the Quraysh that there was no way they could fight a man who had come merely to visit the House. The Quraysh misbehaved with him calling him low-witted. But he threatened to withdraw the support of his tribe if they entered into a fight. So the Quraysh assured him that they had no such intention but merely wished to draw as much concession from the Prophet as they could. On the other hand they kept trying the use of force, although stealthily. A party of 80 Makkans tried to take them by surprise, but was discovered, and were all captured. However, the Prophet forgave them all.
    Finally, Suhayl arrived to discuss the armistice. One of the first clauses was the condition that the Prophet would not be allowed to enter Makkah that year. He would have to come back the next year. There were other issues involved, but, going back and forth several times, and the Prophet relenting on most issues, he was able to strike a peace deal.
    When the peace treaty began to be written, Suhayl objected to the invocatory formula, “In the name of Allah, the Rahman, the Rahim,” He said he did not know who Al-Rahman was, and that a mere, “In the name of Allah” should do. Then, as the Prophet proceeded to dictate, “From Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah,” Suhayl objected once again, “If you are a Messenger, then, obviously, we have done you wrong. So write your name alone.” So, the Prophet ordered that portion struck off. But `Ali, the scribe, refused. So, the Prophet struck it off himself. The clauses said that the treaty would last ten years; that the Prophet and his men would return only the next year; that when they came, it would be for three days alone, during which time the Quraysh will leave the town; that the Muslims will not carry arms with them at that time, that none of the Makkan will join up with the Prophet at Madinah, but will be returned to Makkah, while any Madinan – of any kind - joining back, the Makkans will not be oblighed to return. Incidentally, the sentence had been hardly written, when Abu Jandal – a Makkan who had embraced Islam, and had been imprisoned (by his father: Shafi`) - somehow made it to the scene. Bound in chains, he begged that he be released. When the Prophet said Abu Jandal would be an exception to the clause, Suhayl turned absolutely adamant, refusing to proceed, saying that that was the first violation of the treaty. The Prophet had to give in when it became the issue of make it or break it. His agreement to relent to this particular clause spread anger and discontent among the Muslims. But the Prophet remained firm. Abu Jandal was dragged back to Makkah despite his rending cries of help which disturbed many a Companion. The treaty allowed for free movement between the Muslims and pagans. It also allowed for the rest of the tribes freedom to choose their allies. Accordingly, Banu Bakr chose to ally with the Quraysh, while Banu Khuza`ah chose to align themselves with the Prophet. (Apart from the Prophet, Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Abd al-Rahman b. `Awf, `Abdullah b. Suhayl, Sa`d b. abi Waqqas and `Ali ibn abi Talib also signed the treaty: Shafi`).
    To be sure, the Companions were pretty displeased with the terms of the treaty. `Umar ibn al-Khattab was particularly upset. He went up to the Prophet (saws) and asked, ‘Aren’t you Allah’s Messenger in truth?’ The Prophet replied, ‘Of course, I am.’ He asked, ‘Are we not on the truth and the pagans on falsehood?’ He replied, ‘That’s true.’ He asked, ‘Why should we give in to them in matters of our faith?’ He replied, ‘I am Allah’s Messenger. And I am not going to disobey Him. He is my Helper.’ `Umar asked, ‘Had you not told tell us that we shall perform the pilgrimage?’ He replied, ‘True I did. But, did I say it will happen this year?’ `Umar replied, ‘Of course you did not.’ The Prophet said, ‘You will surely come back and circumambulate the House.’”
    But ‘Umar was not satisfied. He went up to Abu Bakr and reported the conversation with the Prophet. Abu Bakr remarked, “He is Allah’s Messenger. He will not disobey his Lord.” Of course, with the passage of a couple of years, `Umar realized how wise it was to have had struck the treaty. Later in his life, he observed many fasts, expended in the way of Allah, and freed slaves in expiation of his objections that he raised that day.
    The treaty finally signed, the Prophet told his Companions to slaughter their sacrificing animals and shave their heads. But so dejected they were at the demonstration of weaknesses, that not one of them rose up in obedience. He complained to Umm Salamah of the behavior of his Companions. She suggested that he himself go ahead and do what he was asking them do. So he slaughtered his animal, and they followed. Interestingly, the camel that the Prophet slaughtered had once belonged to Abu Jahl. He had received it as his share of war booty after the battle of Badr.
    Another attempt to draw them to a battle was made after the conclusion of the treaty. Seventy of the pagans tried to provoke the Muslims. But the attempt was thwarted, they were captured, but set free. The Muslims returned having spent ten days at Hydaybiyyah. (By the time they reached `Usfan where they camped for a night, they had run out of provisions. The Prophet ordered that all the food they had in their possession be brought together. When that was done he supplicated to Allah and then ordered them to begin eating. Every one of the 1400 ate to their fill: Shafi`). It was during the return journey that the verses: “Indeed We have granted you a clear victory..” were revealed. `Umar was surprised. He asked, “Was that a victory?” But when the Prophet replied, “Yes, by Allah, it was,” `Umar felt relieved and went away satisfied (Au.).
    Anas said that the opening verses (of this chapter) were revealed during the Prophet’s return journey from Hudaybiyyah while his Companions were in a state of grief and dejection. He said, “An ayah has been revealed to me which is dearer to me than the world and what it contains, all together.” Then, when he recited it, one of the men in the group said, “May it do you much good. Surely Allah has informed you how he will treat you. But how will He treat us?” So Allah revealed the passage after it: “So that He may admit the believing men and women into gardens..” to the end of the ayah (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and others in different words).
    Another report in this connection is as follows:

    `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud said, “We were returning from Hudaybiyyah in the company of the Prophet. They could recall that they had camped in the sands. He asked, ‘Who will give us the guarantee (of safety)?’ Bilal said, ‘I.’ The Prophet said, ‘But you will sleep off.’ In any case, everyone went to sleep until the sun was out and so and so woke up, including `Umar. We said to each other, ‘Speak out loudly.’ So they spoke out loudly and the Prophet also woke up. He said, ‘Do (your fajr) as you are used to doing it.’ So, we did (the fajr Prayer) as we used to do. He said, ‘Let him who sleeps off or forgets, do it (this way). Then it was discovered that the Prophet’s camel was lost. I went searching after her. I found her halter entwined in a tree (according to another report, ‘which could not have been unloosened but by a human hand’). I brought her back to the Prophet and he mounted it in happiness. And, when a revelation came down upon the Prophet, he felt its severity which we could see on him. He turned aside and began to retreat to the end, behind us. Then he covered his head with a cloth and it became severe upon him, until we knew for sure that he had received revelation. In the end we went up to him and he told us that it had been revealed to him: ‘Indeed, we have granted you a clear victory’” (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani: each quoting various versions).
    With reference to `Umar’s objections, the following may be quoted:
    Zayd b. Aslam reported from his father that the Prophet was in one of his journeys when, at night, `Umar asked him something thrice but did not get a reply. He reproached himself that although he had asked three times, he had not been answered. So he pushed his camel forward to be at the head of the caravan. It wasn’t long when he heard someone calling out his name. He felt sure that a revelation had come down censuring him. But when he reported to the Prophet and greeted him he said, “Tonight a surah has been revealed to me which is dearer to me than whatever the sun shines upon.” Then he recited, “Indeed, we have granted you a clear victory” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani: each presenting different versions).
    Sometime later a Muslim called Abu Basir fled from the Makkan pagans. But when he came to the Prophet, he rejected him. Two Makkans also came up demanding him back. As they were taking him back, he overcame them on the way, killing one, while the other fled. Abu Basir returned to Madinah. He said to the Prophet, “You observed the treaty clause, and returned me to them, but Allah freed me.” The Prophet said, “Woe unto Abu Mis`ar’s mother, only if he had someone with him.” Abu Basir understood the Prophet’s signal and so, when he felt that he would be returned, he left Madinah and sought refuge in the mountains near the sea shore. Having heard of him, Abu Jandal also freed himself and joined him. Other Makkan Muslims in similar circumstances also understood what the Prophet had meant. They too began to flee and join up with Abu Basir. In a while they were some sixty or seventy strong. They began to harass the passing Quraysh caravans. Finally, the Quraysh sent word to the Prophet requesting him to accept those who fled from them (Au.).

    لِيَغْفِرَ لَكَ اللَّهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِكَ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ وَيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَيَهْدِيَكَ صِرَاطًا مُسْتَقِيمًا (2)

    48|2| So that Allah may forgive you your former sins and your latter ones,3 complete His favor upon you, and guide you on to a path straight.

    3. What sins are these? The answer is in several terms. One, the allusion is to the Prophet not opting for the best of the several options that were available to him. Another possibility is that the allusion by sins is to minor errors, which, from the Prophetic perspective, are termed sins. As to the question, what are we to understand from “sins” “of the future,” the answer is, this is another way of saying that you, O Prophet, will be prevented from committing any error in the future (Razi, reworded).
    We may at this point recall the famous hadith once more. It is in Bukhari and several other works:

    `A’isha said that the Prophet used to stand in Prayers at night to the length that his feet got swollen. She asked him why should he do it when Allah had forgiven his past and future sins. He replied, “Should I not be a grateful slave?” However, when he put on weight, he began to Pray from the sitting posture. When he wished to go into the deep bow, he would first rise up, do some recitation from that position, and then go into the deep bow (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, both in different words).

    وَيَنْصُرَكَ اللَّهُ نَصْرًا عَزِيزًا (3)

    48|3| And so that Allah may aid you with a powerful help.

    هُوَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ السَّكِينَةَ فِي قُلُوبِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ لِيَزْدَادُوا إِيمَانًا مَعَ إِيمَانِهِمْ ۗ وَلِلَّهِ جُنُودُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا (4)

    48|4| It is He who sent down tranquility in the hearts of the believers4 so that they might add faith to their faith.5 And Allah’s are the forces of the heavens and the earth.6 Allah was ever Knowing, All-wise.

    4. After the initial anger, followed by disappointment and grief, at being denied entry into Makkah despite the two weeks of camping, and the Prophet’s acceptance of the peace-treaty on such humiliating terms, despite their strength and willingness to lay their lives, the tranquility that the Qur’an mentioned manifested itself when these verses came to be revealed. The Prophet announced that a new revelation had come down, and lo, they gave up their camping preparations and rallied around him. When he recited the initial verses, they asked, “Is this victory?” He replied, “Yes, it is.” It was enough for them to hear that. They returned fully satisfied. How shall one explain their joyful return, except as a result of tranquility sent down into their hearts? (Au).
    5. The addition of faith upon faith was achieved through the process of sending down of new commandments, every now and then, in all of which the early Muslims fully believed, and put to practice which increased their faith (Razi). Reports of similar meaning are to be found coming from Ibn `Abbas in Tabari, Ibn Kathir and others. Ibn `Abbas is widely reported to have said that the first thing the Prophet was given was Tawhid, and then, Salah and Zakah, and then fasts and Hajj, and so on. Each commandment lived, caused increase in faith.
    It might also be noted that Allah spoke of addition of faith over faith; but when speaking of increase in disbelief, He did not say, “their disbelief increased over their disbelief” as He said in an ayah (3: 178),
    “We give them respite only in order that they may increase in sins.” This is because, disbelief is not the original state of man, but rather belief in God is planted in him from prenatal times. Therefore, any increase in faith, is increase upon that original faith. On the other hand, disbelief is not planted into the hearts, and therefore, although there is increase in disbelief, it is not an addition over an original disbelief (Razi, expanded).
    It is Judaism and Christianity that start with an evil presumption about man: that he is a sinner to begin with, and, therefore, needs a savior (Au.).
    Alusi discusses the issue of increase in faith to some detail. He points out that the majority of the Ash`ariyy school, the Qalansiyyah, the jurists, Hadith specialists, and the Mu`tazilah have held the opinion that faith increases and decreases. This is also reported of Shafe`ee and Bukhari. The latter said that he met with a thousand people who believed that faith increased and decreased. They held that position based on reported knowledge (al-naql) as well as on rational basis (al-`aql). They point out that the faith of a corrupt Muslim can never be of the same level and quality as that of the Messengers and Prophets. These scholars included deeds in the definition of faith saying, “iman is belief (in the heart), word (of the mouth) and deeds (by the limbs), and hence increases and decreases in proportion with the deeds.
    On the other hand, Imam Abu Haneefah and his school believed that faith neither increases nor decreases. This was also held as true by the philosophers (mutakallimun) and Imam al-Haramayn (Juwayni). They have asserted that primarily iman is the other name of testimony; and testimony cannot be of higher or lower order: either you testify to a thing as true, or do not testify. You cannot be in between. In consequence, when a testifier comes up with good deeds, his testimony does not undergo any change. Yet, adds Alusi, it is not deniable that when a man testifies to more and more of the truths of Islam, his faith increases. So also, iman being a kind of Light in the heart, its power and radiance increases with good deeds. (But the point Imam Abu Haneefah has made remains if faith is defined as testimony: Au.).
    Alusi concludes: Khattabi (who seems to have the last word: Au.) said that: Iman (a) with reference to the word of mouth does not increase, nor decreases, (b) with reference to the deeds increases and decreases, and (c) with reference to the testimony can increase but cannot decrease.
    6. One can see the connection between the previous and this verse. When it was stated that Allah will help the Prophet, the question arose, “How? Will the adversaries be destroyed by a huge cry, or through a massive shake of the earth, or by some other means?” The answer came, “Allah will do it by strengthening the hearts of the believers, and lifting their moral - although He has control over all the forces - so that, they are ready to lay down their lives for the Prophet’s mission (Razi, expanded).

    لِيُدْخِلَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَيُكَفِّرَ عَنْهُمْ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ ۚ وَكَانَ ذَٰلِكَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا (5)

    48|5| So that He may admit the believing men and women7 into gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein; and so that He may acquit them of their evil deeds.8 And that indeed is in Allah’s sight a great triumph.9

    7. There being hardly any representation of women at Hudaybiyyah, on what grounds they came to be included here? Thanwi explains that the promise of Paradise is on the basis of a principle: faith and good deeds. Muslim women qualified themselves by this principle. Those women who were not present might have felt aggrieved that they were not included. By this gesture they were told that the basis for earning Allah’s good pleasure is obedience, which they could achieve even the while they remained in their homes. And, following the same principle disbelieving women and hypocritical women were included in the following verse (Expanded).
    8. The allusion is to clothing the believers with honor, which is one way of acquitting them of their sins. In Paradise, they will have both the types of filth removed from them: physical, such as, the need to attend to nature’s call, as well as ethical such as, anger, deception, and investing of them with angelic qualities; which Allah termed as the great success (Razi).
    9. So, entry into Paradise is a great victory, and is something desirable to work for. This should lead us to a correction in the opinion aired by pseudo Sufis who have said that to live a righteous life for the sake of Paradise, is the pursuit of the lower order of people (Shabbir); that is, the true Gnostic aims at nothing but Allah’s good pleasure, if not Allah Himself (Au.).

    وَيُعَذِّبَ الْمُنَافِقِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ وَالْمُشْرِكَاتِ الظَّانِّينَ بِاللَّهِ ظَنَّ السَّوْءِ ۚ عَلَيْهِمْ دَائِرَةُ السَّوْءِ ۖ وَغَضِبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَنَهُمْ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا (6)

    48|6| And so that He may punish hypocritical men and women, and idolatrous men and women: those who assume about Allah evil assumption: upon them (hovers) the evil turn (of fortune). Allah is angry with them, has cursed them, and has prepared Jahannum for them – evil as a destination.

    وَلِلَّهِ جُنُودُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا (7)

    48|7| And Allah’s are the forces of the heavens and the earth. Allah was ever All-mighty, All-wise.

    إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ شَاهِدًا وَمُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا (8)

    48|8| Surely We have sent you (O Muhammad) as a witness, a bearer of glad tiding, and a warner.

    لِتُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَتُعَزِّرُوهُ وَتُوَقِّرُوهُ وَتُسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا (9)

    48|9| So that you may (O people) believe in Allah and His Messenger, assist him, honor him, and celebrate His praises morning and evening.

    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُبَايِعُونَكَ إِنَّمَا يُبَايِعُونَ اللَّهَ يَدُ اللَّهِ فَوْقَ أَيْدِيهِمْ ۚ فَمَنْ نَكَثَ فَإِنَّمَا يَنْكُثُ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَنْ أَوْفَىٰ بِمَا عَاهَدَ عَلَيْهُ اللَّهَ فَسَيُؤْتِيهِ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا (10)

    48|10| Surely those who are pledging allegiance to you,10 are pledging allegiance to Allah;11 Allah’s hand is over their hands.12 Then, whoso violates (the pledge), violates against his own self, while whoso fulfills that which he has promised Allah, he will soon be given a mighty reward.13

    10. According to some reports the Prophet (saws) said about those who pledged their hands at Hudaybiyyah that they were the best of people on the face of the earth at that time. Another report in Ahmad has the Prophet saying, “None who pledged his hand under the tree will enter the Fire.” A report in Muslim says that one of the slaves of H atib b. abi Balta`ah came to the Prophet complaining against him. He said, “Messenger of Allah, Hatib will surely enter the Fire.” The Prophet replied, “You have spoken a lie. He will not enter it for he participated at Badr and Hudaybiyyah” (Ibn Kathir).
    11. The Prophet did not declare what the pledge was about, so that, Jabir thought it was to the effect that they will not flee from the battlefield. Salamah b. al-Akwa` on the other hand thought that he had pledged for death; that is, readiness to lay the life. But the best was that of a Companion who said when asked, that he gave pledge 'to whatever was in the Prophet’s heart.'
    12. One might add to the apparent meaning: Allah’s Power was over their power when they were swearing fealty to the Prophet (Ibn Jarir).
    13. The textual phrase “alayhuAllaha” (instead of alayhiAllahi) draws comment from Alusi which is reproduced by Mawdudi: “Alusi has given two reasons for this unusual grammatical construction. First, the objective on this special occasion is to express the glory, eminence and majesty of the Being to Whom the pledge was being sworn, and for which ‘alayhu’ is more appropriate than ‘alayhi.’ Second, the ‘hu’ in ‘alayhu’ represents ‘huwa,’ therefore, adhering to the original vowel goes well with the theme of allegiance.”

    سَيَقُولُ لَكَ الْمُخَلَّفُونَ مِنَ الْأَعْرَابِ شَغَلَتْنَا أَمْوَالُنَا وَأَهْلُونَا فَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَنَا ۚ يَقُولُونَ بِأَلْسِنَتِهِمْ مَا لَيْسَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ ۚ قُلْ فَمَنْ يَمْلِكُ لَكُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا إِنْ أَرَادَ بِكُمْ ضَرًّا أَوْ أَرَادَ بِكُمْ نَفْعًا ۚ بَلْ كَانَ اللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا (11)

    48|11| Those who were left behind14 of the Bedouins will presently say to you, ‘We were occupied by our possessions and our families, therefore, seek forgiveness for us.’15 They say with their tongues what is not there in their hearts. Say, ‘Who can avail you against Allah by aught, if He wished for you a harm, or wished for you a benefit?’ But rather, Allah is ever Aware of what you do.

    14. They were left behind because they showed no inclination to join the Prophet when he invited them, under the impression that the Quraysh would surely resist, and, in a fight likely to ensue, will wipe them out to the last man. Their disinclination, and following that, the refusal, led to their exclusion by the will of Allah (Au.).
    15. The reference is to the Arabs around Madinah, in particular the tribes of Juhaynah and Muzaynah whom the Prophet urged to accompany him, in fear that the Quraysh might force him into a battle, although he intended no more than an `Umrah (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Ghifar, Ashja`, Aslam, and Dhayl also refused, although the Prophet’s allies (Asad).

    بَلْ ظَنَنْتُمْ أَنْ لَنْ يَنْقَلِبَ الرَّسُولُ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِيهِمْ أَبَدًا وَزُيِّنَ ذَٰلِكَ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَظَنَنْتُمْ ظَنَّ السَّوْءِ وَكُنْتُمْ قَوْمًا بُورًا (12)

    48|12| Nay, you thought the Messenger and the believers will never, ever, return to their families,16 and that was made pleasing in your hearts; you assumed evil assumptions, and you were indeed a destroyed people.17

    16. Since the opposition to the Prophetic mission was at its highest pitch, making it unsafe for any of his followers to venture into enemy territory, no matter how peaceful the purpose, and, since, the pagans outnumbered Muslims by huge proportions, the Bedouins thought that the Muslims were journeying to their end. The pagan Arabs will annihilate them to the last man (based on Tabari).
    17. Sayyid expands: “This is how the Qur’an makes (the hypocrites') stand – unveiled and exposed - face to face, with the evil intentions concealed in the hearts .. their judgments .. and their evil guesses. They believed that the Prophet and his followers were heading to their end. They will not return to their families in Madinah. They said, ‘They are heading towards an enemy who had fought them right in their courtyard and had defeated them’ – alluding to the Uhud and Ahzab battles. But they forgot to take into account Allah’s own care and His protection of the truthful who stood apart from other men. They ignored this fact because of their very nature, and hearts devoid of the warmth of belief. They forgot that an obligation is an obligation. It has to be responded to, without ever any thought of the consequences, or fear of apparent material losses. An obligation has to be fulfilled without consideration of the consequences.
    “They guessed an evil guess, and it was made fair in their hearts, to the extent that they foresaw no other outcome but one, did not reckon but it, which in fact was an evil estimation of Allah, indicating that there was destruction in their hearts (as in Qur’anic text) – an expression that gives rise to profound meaning. The simile is apt: a scorched piece of land is barren, infertile. So are their hearts and so are they in all aspects of their existence: barren, infertile … no life, no output, no fruition. What kind of a heart can it be when it bears evil assumptions about Allah? It is severed off Allah’s mercy. What else, but barren, desolate, dead .. whose end is destruction?”

    وَمَنْ لَمْ يُؤْمِنْ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ فَإِنَّا أَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ سَعِيرًا (13)

    48|13| And whoso does not believe in Allah and His Messenger, then surely, We have prepared for the unbelievers a blazing fire.

    وَلِلَّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ يَغْفِرُ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيُعَذِّبُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا (14)

    48|14| And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; He will forgive whom He will and punish whom He will; although ever was Allah Forgiving, Merciful.

    سَيَقُولُ الْمُخَلَّفُونَ إِذَا انْطَلَقْتُمْ إِلَىٰ مَغَانِمَ لِتَأْخُذُوهَا ذَرُونَا نَتَّبِعْكُمْ ۖ يُرِيدُونَ أَنْ يُبَدِّلُوا كَلَامَ اللَّهِ ۚ قُلْ لَنْ تَتَّبِعُونَا كَذَٰلِكُمْ قَالَ اللَّهُ مِنْ قَبْلُ ۖ فَسَيَقُولُونَ بَلْ تَحْسُدُونَنَا ۚ بَلْ كَانُوا لَا يَفْقَهُونَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا (15)

    48|15| As you start off to take booties, those who were left behind will surely say, ‘Allow us to follow you.’18 They wish to alter Allah’s words.19 Say, ‘Never will you follow us; thus did Allah say about you earlier.’20 They will surely say, ‘Nay, but you are jealous of us.’ Rather, they never understood except a little.21

    18. The allusion is to the Khayber expedition (Qurtubi and others). Those who had stayed behind from accompanying the Prophet to Makkah, in fear of death, now felt encouraged by his triumphant treaty, and his intended journey to Khayber, which, as they realized, was likely to prove easier to subdue. Booty would come, and they wished to get a share (Au.).
    19. Allah (swt) had decreed that no one would be allowed to accompany the Prophet to Khayber except those who had participated at Hudaybiyyah. This was the opinion of Mujahid, Muqsim, Qatadah and others (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    The demands of the ayah do not contradict that shares should be given to other than those who were at Hudaybiyyah; so that, the Prophet allotted shares at Khayber to those who had arrived from Abyssinia with Ja`far b. abi Talib, or to a few men of the Ash`ari and Daws tribes. It were those who had refused to accompany to Hudaybiyyah, but later wished to join in order to get a share of the Khayber booties who were denied it (based on Alusi’s note).
    Mufti Shafi` adds: The ayah goes to prove that the ahadith are revelations, except that a non-recitable revelation (wahyu ghayr matlu; the Qur’an being wahyu matlu, i.e. the revelation which is recited). Although the instructions were revealed to the Prophet with regard to the non-participation of those who had refused to go along with him to `Umrah, they were not part of the Qur’an, yet it said that they are the “words of Allah.”
    20. That is, this had been decided even before the Prophet (saws) had started off for Khayber (Qurtubi).
    21. Yusuf Ali returns a punch to the Orientalists: “The desert Arabs loved fighting and plunder and understood such motives for war. The higher motives seemed to be beyond them. Like ignorant men they attributed petty motives or motives of jealousy if they were kept out of the vulgar circle of fighting for plunder. But they had to be schooled, and they were schooled to higher ideas of discipline, self-sacrifice, and striving hard for a Cause.”

    قُلْ لِلْمُخَلَّفِينَ مِنَ الْأَعْرَابِ سَتُدْعَوْنَ إِلَىٰ قَوْمٍ أُولِي بَأْسٍ شَدِيدٍ تُقَاتِلُونَهُمْ أَوْ يُسْلِمُونَ ۖ فَإِنْ تُطِيعُوا يُؤْتِكُمُ اللَّهُ أَجْرًا حَسَنًا ۖ وَإِنْ تَتَوَلَّوْا كَمَا تَوَلَّيْتُمْ مِنْ قَبْلُ يُعَذِّبْكُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا (16)

    48|16| Say to those who were left behind of the bedouins,22 ‘You will soon be invited23 to (face) a people given to hard fighting,24 against whom (either) you will fight, or they will surrender.25 If you obeyed, Allah will grant you a goodly recompense; but if you turned away, as you turned away earlier, then He will chastise you with a painful chastisement.’

    22. They understood only the worldly affairs, and none of the Hereafter, which is to understand pretty little (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi).
    23. It was Abu Bakr and `Umar who later invited the Bedouins of this mention, to fight various adversaries of Islam (Au.).
    24. While some of the earliest commentators thought that the allusion was to the Romans and Persians, others believed that it was to the Haw azin, and a third opinion was that the allusion was to the forces of Musaylimah the Liar. However, Ibn Jarir does not see any reason for preferring one over another, all or anyone could be meant.
    Another interpretation is that the allusion is either to the Turks or Kurds. The following hadith of Bukhari is quoted in this connection:
    The Prophet said, “The Hour will not strike until you have fought a people who wear footwear made of hair. And it will not strike until you have fought a people whose face is as if layered shields.” .. Other reports adds: “Of small eyes, flat noses, as if their faces are layered shields” (Ibn Kathir).
    Abu Hanifa’s opinion was that it were only the Peninsula Arabs who had no third option but to either accept Islam or leave the lands, while others (outside of Arabia) could pay jizyah and remain on their religions within their territories. In view of this opinion, it seems fair to say that the allusion by the words, “against whom (either) you will fight, or they will surrender” could only be to Banu Han ifah led by Musaylimah the Liar (Zamakhshari); in which case the translation of the textual “yuslimun” should be, “they will become Muslims” (Au.).
    But the majority have believed that the allusion was to the Romans and Persians (Shafi`).
    25. “That is, you shall go forth to war if you learn discipline, not for booty, but for a great and noble Cause. For if your opponents submit to the Cause, there will be no fighting and no booty” (Yusuf Ali).

    لَيْسَ عَلَى الْأَعْمَىٰ حَرَجٌ وَلَا عَلَى الْأَعْرَجِ حَرَجٌ وَلَا عَلَى الْمَرِيضِ حَرَجٌ ۗ وَمَنْ يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ يُدْخِلْهُ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ۖ وَمَنْ يَتَوَلَّ يُعَذِّبْهُ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا (17)

    48|17| There is no blame on the blind, nor any blame on the lame, nor is there any blame on the sick.26 Whoso obeys Allah and His Messenger, He will admit him into gardens underneath which rivers flow. But whoever turned back, He will chastise him with a painful chastisement.

    26. That is, there is no sin upon these categories if they do not participate in Jihad (Ibn Jarir).

    لَقَدْ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ يُبَايِعُونَكَ تَحْتَ الشَّجَرَةِ فَعَلِمَ مَا فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ فَأَنْزَلَ السَّكِينَةَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَثَابَهُمْ فَتْحًا قَرِيبًا (18)

    48|18| Allah was certainly pleased with the believers when they were swearing fealty to you under the tree.27 He knew what was in their hearts,28 and so sent down tranquility upon them and We awarded them an imminent victory.29

    27. The words are unequivocal, and commentators have pointed out that Allah is not such as One to be pleased with a people and then be displeased with them later. Allah never declares His approval, without having fully tried a people and they confirming to the standards He has set for them (Au.).
    We have ahadith in support. Bukhari has a report which says,
    `Amr said he heard Jabir b. `Abdullah say, “The Prophet (saws) told us on the Day of Hudaybiyyah, ‘You are best (of the people) of the earth.’”
    Another hadith is in Tirmidhi and others. It says,

    “Of those who pledged their hands at Hudaybiyyah, none will enter the Fire” (Shafi`).
    The Shi`ah may make note of these ahadith. O yes, they might say these ahadith are fabricated. But the Qur’anic ayah is not fabricated, or is it? It is a moment of decision for them (Au.).
    The tree itself could not be identified later. When `Umar passed by Hudaybiyyah (after he had taken up the Khilafah), he asked, “Where was it?” But they differed. Some identified one, others another. He said, “Forget about it. It is not important. It was an acacia tree, perhaps uprooted by flood and wind” (Ibn Jarir).
    Some reports say that people had begun to pray under the tree and so `Umar got it uprooted. But either the report is wrong, since Sa`eed b. Musayyib’s father (a participant at Hudaybiyyah) said, as in the reports of the Sahihayn that, “By the next year we could not identify the tree ourselves,” or perhaps some people had assumed that one of the trees was that particular tree and had begun to offer prayers there which `Umar got cut down (Shafi`).
    28. That is, Allah (swt) knew that there was sincerity, truthfulness, and patience in the hearts of those who had pledged their hands to the Prophet at Hudaybiyyah (Ibn Jarir reworded, and others).
    29. Qatadah and Ibn abi Layla said that the allusion is to Khayber expedition which took place a couple of months later (Ibn Jarir).

    وَمَغَانِمَ كَثِيرَةً يَأْخُذُونَهَا ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا (19)

    48|19| And much booty that they will take;30 surely Allah ever was All-mighty, All-wise.

    30. The reference is to the war spoils of Khayber (Ibn Jarir and others).
    And who could keep a good record of booty that the Muslims obtained that day but an Orientalist? Majid quotes one known for his unbound hatred: “The plunder of Khaibar was rich beyond experience. Besides vast stores of dates, oil, honey and barley, flocks of sheep and herds of camel, the spoil in treasure and jewels was very large” (Majid from Muir, op. cit. p. 380).
    The division was, as in reports with Ahmad, Abu Da’ud and Hakim: two parts to horsemen (who were 300 in number) and one part to foot soldiers (Alusi).

    وَعَدَكُمُ اللَّهُ مَغَانِمَ كَثِيرَةً تَأْخُذُونَهَا فَعَجَّلَ لَكُمْ هَٰذِهِ وَكَفَّ أَيْدِيَ النَّاسِ عَنْكُمْ وَلِتَكُونَ آيَةً لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَيَهْدِيَكُمْ صِرَاطًا مُسْتَقِيمًا (20)

    48|20| Allah has promised you much booty that you will take,31 and so has hastened this one for you;32 and restrained the people’s hand from you33 so that it may be a sign for the believers,34 and so that He might guide you on to a straight path.35

    31. From now, until the day of Judgment (Alusi).
    32. That is, once again, booties of Khayber (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir and others).
    33. The allusion is to the Arabs around Madinah. Had they willed, they could have attacked Madinah in the Prophet’s absence who had the best of men, and most of them, with him at Hudaybiyyah. This was the opinion of Qatadah (Ibn Jarir). Zamakhshari however believes that the allusion is to Banu Asad and Ghatafan tribes who started off to help the Jews of Khaybar but turned back (when rumors spread that another contingent of the Prophet’s army was on its way to attack their territories). He adds that the allusion could also be to the Makkans who did not fight the Prophet but rather, entered into a peace treaty.
    34. The allusion could be (apart from others, such as the miracles of that time: Au.) to the vision that the Prophet experienced, which proved true, and true predictions are signs of Allah (Zamakhshari).
    35. That is, will increase you in faith and far-sightedness (Zamakhshari).

    وَأُخْرَىٰ لَمْ تَقْدِرُوا عَلَيْهَا قَدْ أَحَاطَ اللَّهُ بِهَا ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرًا (21)

    48|21| And another (spoil is promised) over which you had no power;36 but Allah has already encompassed it; and Allah ever was over all things Able.

    36. According to Ibn `Abbas, Ibn abi Layla and others, the allusion is to the booties taken from the Romans and Persians (Ibn Jarir); but Zamakhshari sees the possibility that the allusion is to the Haw azin booties gained at Hunayn immediately after the fall of Makkah.

    وَلَوْ قَاتَلَكُمُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَوَلَّوُا الْأَدْبَارَ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُونَ وَلِيًّا وَلَا نَصِيرًا (22)

    48|22| Yet, if the unbelievers were to fight you, they will certainly turn (their) backs, and then they will not find a protector, nor helper.37

    37. That is, had the Makkans fought the Muslims at Hudaybiyyah, this would have been the result (Ibn Jarir).

    سُنَّةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلُ ۖ وَلَنْ تَجِدَ لِسُنَّةِ اللَّهِ تَبْدِيلًا (23)

    48|23| Allah’s way that has been (operational) in the past;38 and you will never find any change in Allah’s way.

    38. And Allah’s Sunnah is to recompense each with what he deserves; if good, with good, but if they come up with evil, then evil (Ibn Jarir).
    Ibn Kathir has another interpretation: That is, it has been Allah’s Sunnah that whenever truth and falsehood clashed, falsehood was routed and truth emerged victorious despite fewness of those who upheld the truth and despite fewness of their war equipment.
    Zamakhshari and Alusi see the allusion to Allah’s promise that ultimately the Messengers triumph as He said (58: 21),
    “Allah has decreed it (that), 'I and My Messengers shall overcome'.”

    وَهُوَ الَّذِي كَفَّ أَيْدِيَهُمْ عَنْكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ عَنْهُمْ بِبَطْنِ مَكَّةَ مِنْ بَعْدِ أَنْ أَظْفَرَكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرًا (24)

    48|24| It is He who restrained their hands from you and your hands from them in the Makkan hollow after He had caused you to overcome them.39 And ever is Allah seeing of what you do.

    39. The allusion is, as Ibn `Abbas said, to an incident involving a battalion of eighty young men who appeared from the Tan`eem side, while the Muslims were in their Fajr Prayers at Hudaybiyyah. They tried to besiege the believers, threw stones at them and shot a few arrows. But the Muslims were able to overpower them and arrest them all. Nevertheless, the Prophet forgave them all. There were other such minor incidents, involving a handful of Makkans, and the allusion could be to all of them. In a third case a man called Abu Zan im happened to move a little out of Hudaybiyyah, and was killed by a dozen or so Makkan troopers. The Prophet got them captured, but forgave them, so that, the credit for starting the licentiousness be theirs (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Yusuf Ali sort of sums up: “Little incidents had taken place that might have plunged the Quraish and the Muslims from Madinah into a fight. On the one hand, the Quraish were determined to keep out the Muslims, which they had no right to do: and on the other hand, the Muslims, though unarmed, had sworn to stand together, and if they had counter-attacked they could have forced their entrance to the Ka’ba, the centre of Makkah. But Allah restrained both sides from anything that would have violated the Peace of the Sanctuary, and after the Treaty was signed, all danger was past.”

    هُمُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَصَدُّوكُمْ عَنِ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَالْهَدْيَ مَعْكُوفًا أَنْ يَبْلُغَ مَحِلَّهُ ۚ وَلَوْلَا رِجَالٌ مُؤْمِنُونَ وَنِسَاءٌ مُؤْمِنَاتٌ لَمْ تَعْلَمُوهُمْ أَنْ تَطَئُوهُمْ فَتُصِيبَكُمْ مِنْهُمْ مَعَرَّةٌ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ ۖ لِيُدْخِلَ اللَّهُ فِي رَحْمَتِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۚ لَوْ تَزَيَّلُوا لَعَذَّبْنَا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا (25)

    48|25| It is they who disbelieved and prevented you from the Sacred Mosque, and that the animal held for sacrifice should reach its place (of sacrifice).40 And, if it was not for believing men and women – whom you did not know – lest you should trample them and a guilt should unwittingly fall on you41 - so that Allah may admit into His mercy whom He will – surely, had they been separated (from the unbelievers), We would have punished the unbelievers among them with a painful chastisement.42

    40. Those were seventy camels that the Prophet and his Companions had brought specifically for sacrifice. But when they were prevented, the Prophet ordered that they be slaughtered then and there. Initially, no one would respond, so upset were they at the humiliating terms of the treaty just struck. After the third exhortation, the Prophet complained to Umm Salamah, his wife. She advised that he slaughter his own camel, and shave down his head. They are likely to follow. When he did as she had said, the people rushed to do the same and the seventy camels were sacrificed at that spot, instead of within Makkah (Ibn Jarir).
    Zamakhshari and Alusi add that the Prophet and his men were in a territory that included a part of the Haram, the sanctuary where alone it is legal to offer sacrifices.
    41. Qurtubi discusses a hypothetical situation. Supposing the enemy has been surrounded but among them there are some Muslims. If the enemy isattacked they might come in the range. Or, the enemy might make a shield of the Muslims. What should they do? Imam Malik answered that he would not allow any attack; and that, bloodwit will be due if a Muslim is killed. (In fact, this happened on one occasion. The Romans were besieged and their access to water was denied. But they had Muslim prisoners. They were sent down to fetch water). On the other hand, Imam Abu Hanifah declared – as well as his students and, in addition, Thawri – that in such situations the enemy could stll be attacked, and if one of the Muslims died, retaliation or bloodwit would not be incumbent. Imam Shafe`i however, was with Imam Malik (Qurtubi).
    42. The allusion is to those Makkans who had embraced Islam but were prevented from migrating because they did not have any tribal support. Many concealed their faith. Had Allah allowed the Muslims to assault the Makkans, surely, they would have killed some of them unknowingly, thus earning sin (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Zamakhshari).
    The ayah could be paraphrased in the following manner: If it was not for believing men and women in Makkah, who were unable to migrate, whom you did not know, but whom you could have killed unknowingly, and thus would have earned guilt unwittingly, surely Allah would have allowed you to fight the Makkans. On the other hand, had they moved apart from the pagan Makkans, then, surely, Allah would have punished the unbelievers one way or the other (Au.).
    Yusuf Ali puts it more appealingly: “Allah works according to His wise and holy Will and Plan, and not according to what seems to us, in the excitement of human life, to be the obvious course of things. By preventing a fight He saved many valuable lives, not only of Muslims but also of some who became Muslims afterwards and served Islam. He grants His Mercy on far higher standards than man in his limited horizon can see.”

    إِذْ جَعَلَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فِي قُلُوبِهِمُ الْحَمِيَّةَ حَمِيَّةَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ فَأَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ سَكِينَتَهُ عَلَىٰ رَسُولِهِ وَعَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَأَلْزَمَهُمْ كَلِمَةَ التَّقْوَىٰ وَكَانُوا أَحَقَّ بِهَا وَأَهْلَهَا ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا (26)

    48|26| When those who have disbelieved harbored in their hearts chauvinism43 – the chauvinism of the time of Ignorance - but Allah sent down His tranquility upon His Messenger, and upon the believers, and made them adhere to the word of righteousness,44 and they were better entitled to it and worthy of it; and Allah is of all things Knowledgeable.

    43. To what exactly is the allusion by chauvinism? Ibn Jarir reports from Zuhri that the chauvinism (hamiyyah: lit. warmth, or, as Yusuf Ali puts it, “heat and cant of Ignorance”) manifested itself when the pagans prevented Allah’s Attribute (Al-Rahman) to be written at the beginning of the treaty and when they refused Muslim entry into Makkah.
    Once again, Yusuf Ali puts it tellingly, “While the Unbelievers were blustering and excited, and meticulously objected to introductory words such as ‘In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful’ (they did not like the titles), the Prophet remained calm and collected, and got the substance of their demands embodied in the Treaty without worrying about words. Even though the terms of the Treaty appeared to the companions, at first, to be unfair to Muslims, they remained faithful to their Leader and showed trust in his better judgment, a trust that was vindicated by the events that followed.”
    44. “Kalimatu al-taqwa” is literally the word of piety. Here the allusion is, according to a widely reported opinion of `Ali, to the testimony “there is no deity worthy of worship save Allah.” This was also the opinion of `Amr b. Maymun, Mujahid, Qatadah, Ibn Zayd, Dahhak, `Ata’ al-Khurasani and Ibn `Umar. In fact, there is a hadith to this effect, although there have been other, minor opinions (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir in brief).
    It has been called “kalimatu al-taqwa” because it will protect against the Fire (Qurtubi); in which case, the rendering should be, “the word of protection” (Au.).

    لَقَدْ صَدَقَ اللَّهُ رَسُولَهُ الرُّؤْيَا بِالْحَقِّ ۖ لَتَدْخُلُنَّ الْمَسْجِدَ الْحَرَامَ إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ آمِنِينَ مُحَلِّقِينَ رُءُوسَكُمْ وَمُقَصِّرِينَ لَا تَخَافُونَ ۖ فَعَلِمَ مَا لَمْ تَعْلَمُوا فَجَعَلَ مِنْ دُونِ ذَٰلِكَ فَتْحًا قَرِيبًا (27)

    48|27| Allah proved true to His Messenger the truth of the dream:45 you shall enter into the Sacred Mosque - Allah willing46 - in peace, shaving your heads and shortening (your hair),47 not fearing.48 He knew what you did not know49 and so granted you besides this,50 a victory at hand.

    45. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Ibn Zayd and others reported that the Prophet had mentioned to his Companions at Hudaybiyyah that he had seen in a vision that he had entered Makkah and had circumambulated the Sacred Mosque. He had assured them that that would happen. When reminded, after the Treaty which denied entry into Makkah, he replied, “Did I say it will happen this year?” (Ibn Jarir).
    46. Why were the words “if Allah wills” added, seeing that there can be no doubt when it comes from Allah? There are several answers. One: Muslims were taught how they should speak about future events. They should always place the condition of Allah’s will allowing it to happen. Second: Allah knew that some of those (one thousand four hundred) who were at Hudaybiyyah might not be alive until the next year (Qurtubi). And three: Muslim entry at the time it happens will be by Allah’s will and not an outcome of their efforts (Alusi).
    47. Men shave their heads while women shorten. Shortening is allowed for men too, although not as the first choice. However, it is reported that Mu`awiyyah shortened the Prophet’s hair during his `Umrah while he got his head shaved during the Hajj (Qurtubi).
    Obviously, in view of the fact that the Prophet was toperform Hajj a few days after his `Umrah, it was preferable to shorten the hair after `Umrah and then shave after Hajj (Au.).
    48. It came true next year when, following the previous year’s Hudaybiyyah Treaty, the Prophet and his Companions entered Makkah, in Dhu al-Qa`idah of the seventh year after Hijrah. They stayed in the holy city for three days without fear. The Prophet had sent away the arms to be stored at a place called Ya’jaj near Makkah. The Quraysh emptied the town, unable to bear the sight of Muslims. As for women, children, and non-Qurayshites, they sat by the streets watching the Prophet and his Companions march in. The Quraysh had alleged that the Muslims had grown weak because of the Madinan fever. So the Prophet instructed his followers to throw their chests out during the first three rounds of the Ka`bah. (Ibn `Abbas reported that the Prophet also did that when performing his Tawaf of Hajj in the 8th year after Hijrah).
    49. Ibn Zayd said that Allah (swt) knew that had He allowed a fight, the Makkans would have been routed, but some of those Muslims that were detained at Makkah, disallowed to migrate, would have got killed. This is what the Muslims did not know (Ibn Jarir).
    50. The allusion by “this” could either be to the Hudaybiyyah Treaty, or fall of Khayber (Ibn Jarir).

    هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ شَهِيدًا (28)

    48|28| It is He who sent His Messenger with the guidance and a true religion, so that He might make it prevail over every religion;51 and suffices Allah as a Witness.


    51. Political upper hand is already visible, but the allusion could be to the superiority of Islam over the rest of the religions that lose every battle at the intellectual level, whenever there is an encounter (based on Zamakhshari).
    Sayyid’s comment ending with a lament is still being ignored: “As regards the good tiding in reference to the Prophet’s dream of pilgrimage to the Grand Mosque, in peace, without fear, it proved true by the next year. Subsequently it proved true in a much bigger way when he entered Makkah triumphant three years later.
    “(To dwell upon the first fulfillment – of pilgrimage next year – the Prophet (saws) put on the pilgrimage garb at Dhu al-Hulayfah and, carrying the sacrificial animal with him, started off with his Companions chanting the ‘talbiyyah.’ When he reached Marr al-Dhahran, he sent forward Muhammad b. Maslamah (who was born two years before the Prophet was commissioned, and was one of those few who were named Muhammad in the times of Jahiliyyah: Ibn Hajr), with the arms loaded on camels to deposit them in the Yajaj valley. He himself proceeded with only the swords and although they were kept in their sheathes, the pagans were struck with fear and awe. They sent Mikraz b. Hafs to him. He said, ‘Muhammad. We have never before experienced breaking of a promise by you.’ He asked, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You are entering upon us with your arms!’ He answered, ‘That’s not correct. We have sent the arms away to Y ajaj.’ Mikraz said, ‘This is how we have known you, true to your promise.’
    ”The chiefs of the Quraysh left Makkah unable to bear the sight of the Prophet and his Companions, leaving behind old men, women and children. These squatted on the pavements watching the Prophet’s entry. He sent the sacrificial animals to Dhu Tuwa and entered on his camel Qasw a’, the very camel he rode on the occasion of Hudaybiyyah. `Abdullah ibn Raw aha was leading her by its halter.
    “This is how the vision was proven true. Then came the fall of Makkah and the religion of Islam prevailed over the religion of Makkah, and then on, gradually, over all other religions in the Arabian Peninsula.
    “Thereafter, the religion became dominant, not in the Arabian Peninsula alone, but, before half a century would pass, it was dominating a great part of the known world: it prevailed over the Persian Empire, over a large part of the Roman Empire. It established itself in India, China, East Asia, Malaysia and Indonesia. These were the most populated lands of the time.
    “The religion has remained triumphant against all other religions, even after its political power declined over a large chunk of the lands, especially in Europe and in the islands of the White Sea.
    “If the religion of Islam has remained triumphant, prevailing over all other religions, it is because of its own force. By its very nature it is a powerful religion. It moves forward without the sword and without a power to take its cause. This in turn is because of its harmony with nature and laws that also operate on the creations in existence .. because of its conformity with the human aspirations at the intellectual and spiritual level .. because of its concurrence with the needs of societies, cultures and their need to progress .. because of its compatibility with a variety of human societies: living in slums or in palatial buildings.
    “There is no observer, who will observe with an eye free of prejudice and passion, but will agree with the soundness of this religion, the power hidden within it, its ability to lead the humans rightly, and its inherent ability to meet with the demands and desires of humanity.
    “Thus, Allah kept His promise of giving this religion political and material superascendancy over all other systems, which happened in just about a century. Then on, this religion has remained dominant at the intellectual and spiritual level. Indeed, it is the only religion which has now remained at the scene. It does not merely promise to meet with human requirements, but also has the ability to do so.
    “But perhaps it is Muslims themselves who are unable to realize the ability, the potentiality, and suitability of this religion. Others understand it very well. Not surprisingly, they are scared of it, and shape their policies taking this into account.”

    مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاءُ عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاءُ بَيْنَهُمْ ۖ تَرَاهُمْ رُكَّعًا سُجَّدًا يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا ۖ سِيمَاهُمْ فِي وُجُوهِهِمْ مِنْ أَثَرِ السُّجُودِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ ۚ وَمَثَلُهُمْ فِي الْإِنْجِيلِ كَزَرْعٍ أَخْرَجَ شَطْأَهُ فَآزَرَهُ فَاسْتَغْلَظَ فَاسْتَوَىٰ عَلَىٰ سُوقِهِ يُعْجِبُ الزُّرَّاعَ لِيَغِيظَ بِهِمُ الْكُفَّارَ ۗ وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْهُمْ مَغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا (29)

    48|29| Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah,52 and those who are with him - tough on the unbelievers,53 kind among themselves54 - you will see them in deep bow, prostrating, seeking Allah’s bounty and Approval.55 Their marks are in their faces from the effects of prostrations.56 That is their similitude in the Tawrah.57 And their similitude in the Injeel:58 like a plant that puts forth its blade,59 then makes it strong, so that it becomes thick and stands on its stem.60 It pleases the farmers. So that He61 may enrage the unbelievers by them.62 Allah has promised those of them63 who believed and did righteous deeds, forgiveness and a great reward.64

    52. Since the Quraysh insisted on the Prophet’s name not to be written as “Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah,” Allah sent down revelation in these very words (Shafi` and others).
    53. When the Qur’an instructs the Muslims to be tough on the unbelievers, is it contradicting itself? Has it not said (60: 8),
    “Allah does not prevent you from those who did not fight you in religion nor expelled you from your homes, that you should do good to them or do justice to them. Surely, Allah approves of the just?!” Is the ayah under question contradicting this one? The answer is: it is not. If a situation of war occurs with the unbelievers, when they fight against Islam, then no mercy should be shown to them. Otherwise, the dealing with them should be on the basis of kindness and justice. History has recorded thousands of instances of the Prophet, his Companions and the later generation Muslims treating the unbelievers with kindness (based on Mufti Shafi`’s note).
    Sayyid expands: “The believers are tough on the unbelievers. They are tough upon such people as among whom are their parents, brothers, the kin and friends. They are above the ties of blood and kinship. They severed these relationships to become brothers unto other believers. Thus, if there is severity in them, it is with reference to Allah, and if love, it is with reference to Allah. There are warm feelings in them on the basis of faith, and magnanimity on the basis of faith. There is nothing that they do for their own souls. They set their compassion and their feelings on sound principles as they set their character and behavior on sound principles: that of their faith, shred of egoism and base desires. The eruption of their passions was for no other reason but for Allah, and they made ties for no other reason but for Allah.”
    54. The pagans of the Prophet’s time did not approve that their bodies should be touched by the bodies of others, or even their clothes should come into contact with another man’s clothes. On the other hand Muslims are allowed to shake hands or even embrace each other. Abu Hanifah however disapproved that Muslims should embrace each other. In fact, he disapproved that they should kiss each other. He said, “I do not like that a Muslim should kiss another, either on the forehead, his hands, or any other part of the body.” But Abu Yusuf allowed embrace (Zamakhshari, Alusi).
    There is good amount of wisdom in Abu Hanifah’s opinion. The youth, male and female, should especially be discouraged from embracing each other in view of high passions evoking unhealthy thought (Au.).
    Alusi adds: There is nothing more that two Muslims might do when they meet with each other than shaking hands. Every addition is uncalled for. A hadith says:
    Anas b. Malik reported that a man said to the Prophet, “Messenger of Allah. One of us meets with his brother, or a friend. Should he bow down for him?” He answered, “No.” He asked, “Should he embrace him and kiss him?” He answered, “No.” He asked, “Should he take him by the hand to shake hands?” He replied, “Yes.”
    However, there does not seem to be anything wrong if one were to greet someone coming back from a journey by embracing him. `A’isha reports that once Zayd b. Haritha entered Madinah and came to the Prophet. He rushed to the door to receive him and embrace him.” In fact, to the above hadith of Anas, another version adds that when asked whether one could kiss another, the Prophet replied, “No, unless he were to be coming back from a journey.”
    Back to the verse, Ibn Kathir points out that Muslim to Muslim relationship should be based on love and affection. The Prophet has said, as in a hadith of the Sahihayn:
    “The example of the believers is like a man. When his head aches, his whole body responds with fever and wakefulness at night.”
    55. Majid quotes a witness from among the unbelievers of the modern times: “These men were the true moral heirs of the Prophet, the future apostles of Islam, the faithful trustees of all that Muhammad revealed unto the men of God .. They had really changed for the better from every point of view, and later on as statesmen and generals, in the most difficult moments of the war of conquest they gave magnificent and undeniable proof that the ideas and the doctrines of Muhammad had been seed cast on fruitful soil, and had produced a body of men of the very highest worth. They were depositors of the sacred text of the Qur’an, which they alone knew by heart: they were the jealous guardians of the memory of every word and bidding of the Prophet, the trustees of the moral heritage of Muhammad.” (Caetani, quoted in Arnold’s Preaching of Islam, pp. 41-42).
    56. The unanimous answer to the question whether the allusion by “athar al-sujud” is to the dark patch that obtains on the forehead of a man who does his Prayers regularly, is that it is not. But rather, it is to a great deal of standing in Prayers, especially deep in the night, bowing and prostrations which turns a face outstanding and distinguishable from others. It is a slightly drawn face, bright, sort of yellowish, serious, solemn, and tranquil. This is the “mark” that the ayah is speaking of and which will brighten the face on the Day of Judgment. This was the opinion of the great majority of the Salaf such as Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Hasan, Muqatil and others (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Alusi, summarized).
    Sahih reports say that when Allah (swt) would be done with the reckoning of the people on the Day of Judgment, and would wish to show mercy to whom He will, He will order that everyone who ever said “la ilaha illaAllah” be removed from the Fire. It is from the marks of prostration that the monotheists will be recognized. The Fire would have eaten all parts of their body but not the marks of prostration. Allah has forbidden that Fire should eat the marks of prostration. Here too the reference is to the mark as explained above. Accordingly, when Mujahid was asked whether the reference was to the mark on the forehead due to prostrations, he replied, “No. A man might have a big dark patch on his forehead although his heart as hard as a stone” (Qurtubi).
    Nawawi however explained that “the mark of prostration” which the Fire will not eat, as reported in the ahadith of the Sahihayn, covers all those seven parts on which a man prostrates (Au.).
    It is reported of an early Muslims that he said, “By Allah, we prayed obtaining no marks on our foreheads. But in our times people pray and have big dark patches on their foreheads. I do not know whether the heads have become heavier now, or the earth has become harder” (Zamakhshari, Alusi).
    (Imam) Malik reported: “It has reached me that when the Christians saw the Companions who conquered the Syrian territories, they remarked, ‘By God, these look better than the apostles (of Christ), as we have known them’” (Ibn Kathir).
    57. The break here between the previous and the next passage is, as understood by majority of the Salaf, indicates that what precedes is the similitude as given in Tawrah, while what follows is the similitude as given in the Inj il (Ibn Jarir).
    58. Qurtubi believes that the break discussed under note 57 above should be here, meaning, this is the similitude of the Muslims as stated in the Tawrah and Inj il. This was the opinion of Mujahid. Farr a’ is reported to have said that a break at any of the two points is allowable.
    59. “Blade” is the nearest word that English can offer; otherwise, as Qurtubi points out, “shatt’” is for the second bud that emerges on the side of the first shoot of a seed.
    60. This, as Ibn `Abbas and others understood, is the example of the believers. The first one appears as a weak Muslim individual, a mere blade, then, gradually others join to become a community, and then the community engages itself in commanding the virtuous and prohibiting the evil, enraging the unbelievers (Ibn Jarir).
    More specifically, writes Qurtubi, the first shoot is the Prophet, of whom several side shoots emerged, adding on (until they became the tree of Islam: Au.).
    Majid quotes from the Bible: “Another parable he put before them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches’” (Matt. 13: 31-32).
    And,
    “‘And he said, To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what comparison shall we compare it? [It is] like a grain of mustard-seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that are in the earth. But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under its shade’” (Mark 4: 30-32).
    61. That is, Allah.
    62. It is on the basis of this ayah that Imam Malik declared the Rawafid as unbelievers. They are angry with the Companions, while Allah said that it is only the unbelievers who are angered by the Companions (Qurtubi [in different words], Ibn Kathir, Alusi and others).
    63. The textual “min” is not conditional to include some and exclude others, but rather to express the genus. The usage is similar to saying (22: 30),
    “Therefore, shun the abomination of the idols” – (and not “some” of the idols).
    Or (17: 82),
    “We send down of the Qur’an what is a cure” which does not mean some of the Qur’an is a cure while the rest is not. In fact, in common Arabic we say,
    “I cut a shirt from the cloth” which does not mean, from a part of the cloth, but rather, from the whole of it. In the like manner the ayah, “Allah has promised those of them who believed and did righteous deeds” should not be thought to be saying, “Only those of them who believe and do righteous deeds will be given the reward, but not the rest” (Qurtubi).
    Shabbir points out in sum and substance that (even if we take the textual “min” as conditional), it is quite possible that the Revelation was not allowing them to relax. Allah does not give such clear and unequivocal tiding that would encourage a people to (a relaxed life).

    64. Qurtubi writes: Some people point to the battles that took place between the Companions and justify their criticism of the Companions, saying that although they were all on right guidance at the beginning of the affair, they underwent changes thereafter. Such critics forget, continues Qurtubi, that this Qur’an (is eternal, and) thus the praise it carries is eternal. Both the Qur’an, as well the Prophet’s ahadith mention them in good terms. A hadith of Bukhari says,
    “Do not revile my Companions. If one of you were to spend gold equivalent to Mount Uhud, he will not achieve a mudd of them, nor even half of it” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    A mudd is what two hands joined together hold, and equivalent of about half a bushel (Au.).
    Shafi` adds a hadith:
    On the authority of `Abdullah b. Mughaffal, the Prophet said, “Allah! Allah! Do not take to criticizing my Companions after me. Whoever loved them, loved them in love of me and whoever hated them hated them in hatred of me. Whoever displeased them displeased me and whoever displeased me surely displeased Allah. And, whoever displeased Allah, it is possible He will seize him.”
    The above hadith, also found in Ahmad, was declared Hasan Gharib by Tirmidhi. It is also in the Sahih of Ibn Hibban (Au.).