Surat Al-Ĥashr

What is the Qur'an About?

Tafsir Ishraq al-Ma`ani
by
Syed Iqbal Zaheer

تفسير إِشراقُ المَعَاني
سيد إقبال ظهير

PREPARATORY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the words of Arberry:

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

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

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

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

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

و ف إنَّ

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

وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً [النساء : 4]

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

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

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

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

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

Further down he writes:

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

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

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

He adds a little further,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْهَا رِيَاحًا وَلا تَجْعَلْهَا رِيحًا

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

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

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

اللَّهُمَّ فَقِّهْهُ فِي الدِّينِ وَعَلِّمْهُ التَّأْوِيلَ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syed Iqbal Zaheer
March 2015

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References, abbreviations, and technical terms

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

________________________

Abbreviations as in
Abdul Majid Daryabadi’s English Commentary

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

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

_______________________

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

_______________________

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

________________________

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

______________________

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

______________________

  • Surah No. 59

    Merits of the Surah

    1. Bukhari’s report says that Ibn `Abbas would refer to this Surah as Surah Banu Nadir (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir and others). Ibn Hajr explained that Ibn `Abbas held that opinion perhaps because he feared that people would think that the Surah was referring to the “hashr” of the Day of Judgment, while it was referring to the “hashr” of Banu Nadir (Alusi).
    Ibn `Abbas also said that it was a Jewish clan from the progeny of Harun (asws) that had settled in Arabia awaiting the promised Prophet’s advent (Qurtubi).

    بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ سَبَّحَ لِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ (1)

    59|1| Whatever is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Allah. He is the Mighty, the Wise.

    هُوَ الَّذِي أَخْرَجَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ لِأَوَّلِ الْحَشْرِ ۚ مَا ظَنَنْتُمْ أَنْ يَخْرُجُوا ۖ وَظَنُّوا أَنَّهُمْ مَانِعَتُهُمْ حُصُونُهُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ فَأَتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَمْ يَحْتَسِبُوا ۖ وَقَذَفَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمُ الرُّعْبَ ۚ يُخْرِبُونَ بُيُوتَهُمْ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَيْدِي الْمُؤْمِنِينَ فَاعْتَبِرُوا يَا أُولِي الْأَبْصَارِ (2)

    59|2| He it is who got out from their dwellings the unbelievers from among the People of the Book2 at the first mustering.3 You had not thought they would get out; and they (too) thought that their fortresses would defend them against Allah; but Allah came to them from whence they had not reckoned.4 He cast terror in their hearts, as they were destroying their homes with their own hands,5 and the hands of the believers. Take lesson therefore, O those of sight.6

    2. The allusion is to (one of the four) Jewish tribes known as Banu Nadir, that lived a short distance (about two miles: Razi), away in the south-east of Madinah (a little above Quba’: Au.), in four forts called Al-Wateeh, Al-Nutah, Al-Sulalem and Al-Kateebah (Qurtubi). [Other Jewish tribes were in other parts of the area: Au.]. Their story, primarily based on Ibn Is-haq’s account in Sirah Rasulullah is as follows:
    Banu Nadir
    After the affair of Bi’r Ma`unah, where 70 of the Prophet’s Companions were killed in cold blood, the sole survivor `Amr b. Umayyah al-Dammari, encountered two men of Banu `Amir as he was returning to Madinah. In his anger he killed them. He did not know that the Prophet had struck a treaty with them. When he reported to him the matter, he told him that the Muslims will have to pay blood-wit for the slaughter. Now, since Banu Nadir were allies of Banu `Amir, the Prophet (saws) went out to them seeking some help in raising compensation funds, (since, the treaty clauses included that in such cases they wiall help out with the blood money: Au.). When he met some of them they agreed to co-operate, but privately they told each other that they would never get a better chance to kill him as he sat in the shade of a wall in their quarters along with Abu Bakr, `Umar and `Ali. It was suggested that someone should climb the roof and push down a rock on the Prophet. `Amr b. Jihash b. Ka`b volunteered the service. (Sallam b. Mishkam tried to prevent them: Muhammad Rida in Muhammad Rasulullah). But the Prophet was informed of their plan by Jibril. He left the place quickly, going into the direction of Madinah. When he delayed the return, his Companions began to look for him. Someone coming out of Madinah told them that he had seen him inside the town. When they located him he told them what had happened and ordered them to prepare for attack on Banu Nadir.
    There seems to have been a second reason for the attack. A report says that after the battle of Badr, the opinion began to gain ground among the Jews that the Prophet must be the promised one (otherwise, how could the victory at Badr be explained?). However, with the defeat at Uhud they fell into doubts. During those days they received threats from the Quraysh that if they did not break away from the Prophet by revoking the treaty of theirs, the Quraysh would attack them and carry away their women to Makkah. Quraysh power was obvious and so they decided that perhaps doing away with the Prophet was the easier course. They sent a message to the Prophet that there ought to be a sort of a debate to decide the truth of his Messengership. They suggested that thirty of theirs and thirty of the Prophet’s men should face each other in an open place and debate the issue. The Prophet agreed and both parties met each other in a field. However, the Jews suggested that it was becoming difficult with thirty people. So, if the Prophet came out with three of his men, they will send three of their scholars. If they were convinced, all the Jews would become Muslims. The Prophet agreed. But one of the Jewish women betrayed them. Her brother had become Muslim and she confided to him that the plan was for the three scholars to carry daggers and murder the Prophet as he stepped out. The Prophet was informed and he immediately withdrew. (Alusi)
    The report is in Musannaf of `Abdul Razzaq, which is quite trustworthy, in Abu Da’ud’s Sunan, Hakim and others. As for the date, most biographers are of the opinion that Banu Nadir campaign was in the fourth year after Hijrah. This is strengthened by the fact that the Bi’r Ma`unah affair was after the battle of Uhud which took place in the third year after Hijrah (Mahdi Rizqallah).
    Next day or so, he marched out (leaving Ibn Umm Maktum [the blind] as his deputy in Madinah: Alusi), and laid siege to their forts. Initially he ordered Banu Nadir to simply leave their forts and go away to any place of their choice. (They could return, “every year to gather the products of their date groves, which would thus remain their property. Ostensibly agreeing: Asad); they sought ten days time to prepare for the journey. But in the meantime, `Abdullah ibn Ubayy and others advised them not to leave, promising them help, although ultimately betraying them (Zamakhshari, Qurtubi and others). The exact length of the siege is not known. It was anything between 10 and 21 days (Razi, Alusi).
    Another crime that they committed was that although they were bound to a treaty of friendship and non-violence with the Prophet, one of their leaders Ka`b. al-Ashraf travelled with forty of his compatriots to Makkah after the Makkan defeat at Badr. These Jews met the Makkan leaders in the Holy Mosque where they urged them to take revenge, promising to help them when the occasion came. For this blatant breach of trust, and for lewd poetry that Ka`b al-Ashraf said attacking the honor of the Prophet’s aunt, he ordered him eliminated. His crime was so unforgivable that his own foster brother who had turned Muslim, killed him: (Au.).
    `Abdullah ibn Abi Salul, Wadi`ah, Malik b. Abi Qawqal and others sent messages to the besieged Banu Nadir not to lose heart assuring them that if a fight ensued, they would fight along with them and if forced out, they would go out with them. They also promised the help of 2000 fighters, adding that Ghatafan tribes were also with them. But Banu Nadir lost heart quite soon and sued for peace. The Prophet allowed that they leave, with their movables to Syria (but not arms) and thus save their lives. He gave them three days to leave. They loaded whatever they could on their camels to the extent that they even pulled out doors, lintels, roofs and other furniture and loading them on camels, marched out (with 600 camels [Asad]; singing to the tunes of musical instruments [Muir in Majid]; perhaps celebrating their light punishment, despite their treacheries of the past: Au.): some went to Khyber, but most to Syria. Every three persons were allowed a camel-load and a water bag. (The families of Abu al-Huqayq and Huyayy b. Akhtab chose to join other Jews at Khayber; a few went as far as Heerah (in Mesopotamia: Asad), while the great majority went to Jericho and other Syrian places (Zamakhshari, Alusi and others).
    Whatever they left, (50 shields, 350 swords: Alusi) fell into Muslim hands. As for the orchards, groves and other lands, the Prophet divided them among the Muhajiroon alone, except for two Ansari men who had complained of severe poverty. To them also he gave shares.
    A fifth was reserved for the causes mentioned in verse 7 above. The Prophet secured one-fifth of this one-fifth for himself, which remained with him until his death. Out of his share, he used to provide for his wives, as also taking out a share from his share for general welfare. As for Allah’s share, it went into maintenance of the Holy Mosque at Makkah, and, if there was any surplus, for the maintenance or construction of other mosques (Alusi).
    None of the Banu Nadir embraced Islam except two: Yameen b. `Umayr b. Ka`b and Abu Sa`d b. Wahab.
    It is reported that the Prophet complained to Yameen about his cousin `Amr b. Jihash’s quite unjustified behavior; i.e., when he attempted to assassinate the Prophet. Yameen promptly hired someone and got `Amr b. Jihash murdered (Ibn Kathir, and Ibn Hajr in `Isabah (Au.).
    Ibn Kathir presents some poetry written after the affair, both by Muslims as well as Jews answering them. His source is Ibn Is-haq. We present our own selections from him, and the translations (except for a few modifications) are by Alfred Guillaume:
    When `Ali, or perhaps `Abdullah b. Rawaha, said some lines commenting on the campaign against Banu Nadir and on the killing of Ka`b b. al-Ashraf, a Jewish poet called Sammak answered him:
    If you boast, for it is no more than a boast for you
    That you killed Ka`b b. al-Ashraf
    The day that you compassed his death,
    A man who had shown neither treachery nor bad faith,
    Haply time and the change of fortune
    Will take revenge from ‘the just and the righteous one’*
    For killing al-Nadir and their confederates
    And for cutting down the palms, their dates ungathered.
    Unless I die we will come at you with lances
    And every sharp sword that we have
    In the hand of a brave man who protects himself.
    When he meets his adversary he kills him.
    With the army is Sakhr** and his fellows.
    When he attacks he is no weakling
    Like a lion in Tarj protecting its pride,
    Lord of the thicket, crushing his prey, enormous.
    * The allusion is to the Prophet.
    ** The allusion is to Abu Sufyan b. Sakhr.
    Ka`b b. Malik (a Muslim) said on the same subject:
    The rabbis were disgraced through their treachery
    Thus time’s wheel turns round.
    They had denied the Mighty Lord
    Whose command is great.
    They had been given knowledge and understanding
    And a warner from God came to them,
    A truthful warner who brought a Book
    With plain and luminous verses.
    They said, ‘You have brought no true thing
    And you are more worthy of God’s disapproval than we.’
    He said, ‘Nay, but I have brought the truth,
    The wise and intelligent believe me;
    He who follows it will be rightly guided
    And the disbelievers therein will be well retributed.’
    But when they imbibed treachery and unbelief
    And aversion turned them away from the truth,
    God showed the Prophet a sound view,
    For God’s decision is never false.
    A few lines later...
    Those Banu al-Nadir were an evil case,
    They were destroyed for their crimes
    The day the Apostle came to them with an army
    Walking softly as he looked at them.
    He said, (I offer) ‘Peace, woe to you,’ but they refused
    Lies and deceit were their allies.
    They tasted the results of their deeds in misery,
    Every three of them shared one camel,
    They were driven out and made for Qaynuqa`,
    Their palms and houses abandoned.
    Sammak the Jew answered him:
    I was sleepless while deep care was my grief
    On a night that made all others short.
    I saw that all the rabbis rejected him,
    All of them men of knowledge and experience
    Who used to study every science
    Of which the Torah and Psalms do speak.
    You killed Ka`b the chief of the rabbis,
    He whose ward was always safe.
    He came down to Mahmud his brother,
    But Mahmud was harboring a wicked design.
    He left him in his blood as though
    Saffron was flowing over his clothes.
    By your father and mine,
    When he fell al-Nadir fell also.
    If we stay safe we shall live in revenge for Ka`b
    Men of yours with vultures circling round them
    As though they were beasts sacrificed on a feast day
    With none to say them nay,
    With swords that bones cannot resist,
    Of finest steel and sharpened edge
    Like those you met from brave Sakhr
    At Uhud when you had no helper.
    `Abbas b. Mirdas a Jew also answered Ka`b b. Malik, praising the men of Banu Nadir:
    Had the people of the settlement not been dispersed
    You would have seen laughter and gaiety within it.
    By my life, shall I show you women in howdahs
    Which have gone to Shataat and Tay’ab?
    Large-eyed like the gazelles of Tabaala;
    Maidens that would bewitch one calmed by much truck with women
    When one seeking hospitality came they would say at once
    With faces like gold, ‘Doubly welcome!
    The good that you seek will not be withheld.
    You need fear no wrong while with us.’
    Khawwat b. Jubayr, a Muslim, answered him,
    You weep bitterly over the Jewish dead and yet you can see
    Those nearer and dearer to you if you wish to weep.
    Why do you not weep over the dead in `Urayniq’s valley
    And not lament loudly with sad face (over others)?
    When peace reigned with a friend you rejected it.
    In religion an obstruction, in war a poltroon.
    You aimed at power for your people, seeking
    Someone similar that you might get glory and victory.
    When you wanted to give praise you went
    To one whom to praise is falsehood and shame.
    You got what you deserved and you did not find
    One among them to say Welcome to you.
    What we have produced is less than half of what is there in Ibn Is-haq’s Sirah Rasulullah. The translator, A. Guillanume, hints that these are forged poems. This, of course, is an Orientalist’s way of weeping at the Jewish losses. Those that weep for a dead Jew today in Palestine, but not for scores that include Arab Christians killed every day, with weapons and money supplied by them, may still be asked as the poet of the past did:
    You weep bitterly over the Jewish dead and yet you can see
    Those nearer and dearer to you if you wish to weep (Au.).
    3. Literally, “hashr” is the moving of a group of people from one place to another (Razi). Assembly and banishment are the primary meanings of the term. (Penrice).
    Ibn Abi Hatim has a report which says that when the Jews asked where should they go, the Prophet told them, “To the Field of Mustering” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, Shawkani); i.e., Syria (Au.).
    (The report howeer was declared weak by Haythami: S.Ibrahim).
    According to Al-Kaya al-Tabari, exile of an enemy is no more allowed. The subdued enemy will now be asked to pay Jizyah (and remain in place: Au.). - Qurtubi
    So, which is the second mustering? Zamakhshari states several possibilities: (a) Allah said “first mustering” because Banu Nadir were the first to be removed from the Arabian Peninsula after the Prophet’s advent; (b) This was their first mustering being their first banishment, the second being their banishment from Khayber during the time of `Umar; (c) their final mustering will be on the Day of Judgment.
    4. They had trust in their forts, arms, which were aplenty, and outside help. But they had not reckoned that Allah would come to them, that is, send His command, from within them. He cast terror into their hearts, and so, for no outward reason they lost heart, submitted, and agreed to leave (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf, Qurtubi).
    5. After they agreed to leave the place, they began to pull out wooden doors and other fixtures, either to take them along on their camels (Ibn Jarir), or destroy them so that they did not fall into Muslim hands (Razi and others).
    Asad’s comment may be considered: “...the Banu ‘n-Nadir had originally concluded a treaty of mutual non-interference with the Muslim community, and were to live at Madinah as its friendly neighbors; and even later when their hostility to the Muslim community had become apparent and they were ordered to emigrate, they were to be allowed to retain ownership of their plantations. Subsequently, however, they forfeited, by their treachery, both their citizenship as well as the rights to their landed property, and thus ‘destroyed their homes by their own hands.’”
    6. A Muslim’s dependence on his knowledge or piety is not very different from the Jewish dependence on their forts: take lesson, O people of sight! (Razi).

    وَلَوْلَا أَنْ كَتَبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْجَلَاءَ لَعَذَّبَهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَلَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابُ النَّارِ (3)

    59|3| Had Allah not decreed exile for them, He would have certainly chastised them in (this) world.7 (There awaits) for them in the Hereafter, the chastisement of the Fire.

    7. The allusion is to their escape from a more severe chastisement which they richly deserved. They were outwardly in alliance with the Prophet, but for all practical purposes with the Makkan pagans (Au.). Majid quotes: “The sentence of exile passed upon this Jewish clan, says a Christian writer, ‘was clement enough. They were a turbulent set, always setting the people of Madinah by the ears,’ indulging in forming alliance with enemies, violating treaty, endeavoring in every way to bring the Prophet and his religion to ridicule and destruction, and even conspiring against his life. The only question is whether their punishment was not too light’ (LSQ., p. LXIV).”

    ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ شَاقُّوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۖ وَمَنْ يُشَاقِّ اللَّهَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ (4)

    59|4| That is because they made a breach with Allah and His Messenger;8 and whoever makes breach with Allah, then surely, Allah is severe in retribution.

    8. Majid again: “Summing up the life-work of the holy Prophet, says a German Christian, ‘When the Jews constituted a danger to his work, he fought them unto destruction; but when they only differed from him in matters religious he was gracious and tolerant enough to leave them alone. They (the Muslims) interfered as little with the Jews as with Christian faith, so long as they did not collide with his politics in Arabia’ (Hell, op. cit., p.34).”

    مَا قَطَعْتُمْ مِنْ لِينَةٍ أَوْ تَرَكْتُمُوهَا قَائِمَةً عَلَىٰ أُصُولِهَا فَبِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَلِيُخْزِيَ الْفَاسِقِينَ (5)

    59|5| Whatsoever you cut down of date-palm trees or left them standing on their roots,9 it was by Allah’s leave,10 that He might humble the corrupt ungodly (ones).11

    9. “Linah” is kind of a second grade date-palm tree, the preferred kinds being `Ajwah and Barni. (Kashshaf).
    Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah and Zuhri said that the Prophet (saws) had allowed any kind of date-palm tree cut down, but not that which produced `Ajwah dates (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    According to Qatadah and Dahhak, some six trees were brought down and burnt at the Buwayrah side (Qurtubi).
    10. Asad writes: “It should, however, be noted that apart from such stringent military exigencies, all destruction of enemy property – and, in particular, of trees and crops – had been and continued to be prohibited by the Prophet (Tabari, Baghawi, Zamakshari, Razi, Ibn Kathir), and has thus become an integral part of Islamic law.”
    11. The Prophet had allowed cutting down of some date-palm trees for reasons of access to the forts (Kashshaf and others).
    Some of the Companions had tried to prevent the cutting down of date-palm trees. Allah informed them that it was done by His command. Some others say it was the Jews who had protested saying, “Muhammad! You had always prevented destruction, now what has happened?” So Allah revealed this verse (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf, Ibn Kathir). A narration preserved by Nasa’i suggests that some trees were cut while others left standing. So some Companions asked whether they would be rewarded or punished for the cutting and Allah revealed this verse (Ibn Kathir).

    وَمَا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ رَسُولِهِ مِنْهُمْ فَمَا أَوْجَفْتُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ خَيْلٍ وَلَا رِكَابٍ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يُسَلِّطُ رُسُلَهُ عَلَىٰ مَنْ يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ (6)

    59|6| And whatever of the spoils of war Allah bestowed on His Messenger (obtained) from them, against which you neither spurred horse nor camel,12 but rather Allah gives power to His Messengers over whomsoever He will; and Allah has power over all things.

    12. According to the prevailent opinion the allusion is to the booty obtained from the Banu Nadir expedition during the course of which no horses or camels were needed. Moreover, no fighting took place as they entered into agreement by which they left their dwellings and moved out to north. Subsequently, the rule also applied to the Jews of Khayber and Fadak who submitted peacefully (but for little resistance), and were not conquered territories (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    The Prophet distributed the wealth obtained from Banu Nadir among the Muhajiroon, (following the Qur’anic dictum: “So that it does not remain in circuit among the rich of you: Sayyid), keeping the landed property under his own care out of which he used to distribute a year’s providence to his wives and whatever was left was spent on arms and cavalry (for the state) – Ibn Kathir.

    مَا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ رَسُولِهِ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْقُرَىٰ فَلِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ كَيْ لَا يَكُونَ دُولَةً بَيْنَ الْأَغْنِيَاءِ مِنْكُمْ ۚ وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوا ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ (7)

    59|7| Whatsoever spoils of war Allah bestowed on His Messenger (obtained) from the people of the townships, belongs to Allah, His Messenger, and the kindred (of the Prophet), the orphans, the needy and the wayfarer;13 so that the circuit (of wealth) may not remain within the rich among you.14 And whatever the Messenger gives, accept it, and whatever He prohibits, shun (it).15 And fear Allah, surely Allah is severe in retribution.

    13. “Fay” is that booty which is obtained from the unbelievers without a fight, without a horse or camel spurred in its cause, such as the properties of Banu Nadir – and which rule applies to any land peacefully brought to Muslim control, even after the Prophet (Ibn Kathir).
    Ibn Jarir and Ibn Kathir write: Following the above understanding, `Umar once declared that he would not leave - down to a shepherd - without a share from what this ayah defines. And hence too, according to the authorities, properties of Banu Nadir were also “fay.” Except for Ibn Majah, the rest of the six canonical works have preserved a long report in this context. It is narrated by Malik b. Aws, and the translation is as done by Muhsin Khan and Taqiuddin - with some modification:


    While I was at home, the sun rose high and it got hot. Suddenly the messenger of `Umar b. Al-Khattab came to me and said, ‘The chief of the believers has sent for you.’ So, I went along with him till I entered the place where `Umar was sitting on a bedstead made of date-palm frond and covered with no mattress, and he was leaning over a leather pillow. I greeted him and sat down. He said, “O Malik! Some persons of your people who have families came to me and I have ordered that a gift should be made to them, so receive it and distribute it among them.” I said, “O chief of the believers! I wish you could order someone else to do it.” He said, “O man! Take it.” While I was sitting there with him, his doorman Yarfa` came saying, “`Uthman, `Abdul-Rahman b. `Awf, Al-Zubair and Sa`d b. Abi Waqqas are asking your permission (to see you); may I admit them?”
    `Umar said, “Yes.” They were admitted and they came in, greeted him, and sat down. After a while Yarfa` came again and said, “May I admit `Ali and `Abbas?” `Umar said, “Yes.” So, they were admitted and they came in and greeted (him) and sat down. Then `Abbas said, “O chief of the believers! Judge between me and this man (i.e. `Ali).” They had a dispute regarding the property of Banu al-Nadir which Allah had given to His Apostle as Fay. The group (i.e. `Uthman and his companions) said, “O chief of the believers! Judge between them and relieve both of them from each other.” `Umar said, “Be patient! I beseech you by Allah by Whose Permission the Heaven and the Earth exist, do you know that Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Our (i.e. prophets’) property is not be inherited. Whatever we leave, is Sadaqah (to be used for charity),’ and Allah’s Apostle meant himself (by saying ‘we’)?’ The group said, “He did say so.” `Umar then turned to `Ali and `Abbas and said, “I beseech you by Allah, do you know that Allah’s Apostle said so?” They replied, “He did say so.” `Umar then said, “Now, let me talk to you about this matter. Allah bestowed on His Apostle a special favor of something of this Fay which he bestowed on nobody else.” `Umar then recited the verses: “What Allah bestowed as (Fay) booty on his Apostle from them - for which you made no expedition with either cavalry or camelry; but Allah gives power to His Apostles over whomever He will and Allah is able to do all things.” (9:6)
    `Umar added, “So this property was especially given to Allah’s Apostle, but, by Allah, neither did he take possession of it and leave you, nor did he favor himself with it to your exclusion, but he gave it to all of you and distributed it amongst you till this property remained out of it. Allah’s Apostle used to spend the yearly expenses of his family out of this property and kept the rest of its revenue to be spent on Allah’s Cause. Allah’s Apostle kept on doing this during all his lifetime. I ask you, by Allah, do you know this?” They replied in the affirmative. `Umar then said to `Ali and `Abbas. “I ask you by Allah, do you know this?” `Umar added, “When Allah had taken His Prophet unto Him, ‘Abu Bakr said, ‘I am the successor of Allah’s Apostle;’ so, Abu Bakr took over that property and managed it in the same way as Allah’s Apostle used to do, and Allah knows that he was true, pious and rightly-guided, and he was a follower of what was right.
    Then Allah took Abu Bakr unto Himself and I became Abu Bakr’s successor, and I kept that property in my possession for the first two years of my Caliphate, managing it in the same way as Allah’s Apostle used to do and as Abu Bakr used to do, and Allah knows that I have been true, pious, rightly guided, and a follower of what is right. Now you both (i.e. `Ali and `Abbas) came to talk to me, bearing the same claim and presenting the same case; you, `Abbas, came to me asking for your share from your nephew’s property, and this person, i.e. `Ali, came to me asking for his wife’s share from her father’s property. I told you both that Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Our (prophets’) properties are not to be inherited. What we leave behind is Sadaqah.’
    When I thought it right that I should hand over this property to you, I said to you, ‘I am ready to hand over this property to you if you wish, on the condition that you would take Allah’s Pledge and Convention that you will manage it in the same way as Allah’s Apostle used to, as Abu Bakr used to, and as I have done since I was in charge of it.’ So, both of you said (to me), ‘Hand it over to us,’ and on that condition I handed it over to you. So, I ask you by Allah, did I hand it over to them on this condition?" The group aid, “Yes.” Then `Umar faced `Ali and `Abbas saying, “I ask you by Allah, did I hand it over to you on this condition?” They said, “Yes.” He said, “Do you now want me to give a different decision? By Allah, by whose leave the Heaven and the Earth exist, I will never give any decision other than that (I have already given). And if you are unable to manage it, return it to me, and I will do the job on your behalf.”
    Alusi adds: `Umar maintained his policy. When Iraq was conquered, Zubayr (b. al-`Awwam), Bilal, Salman al-Farsi and others demanded that the lands be distributed among the Mujahidin. But `Umar, and the rest of the Companions disagreed, (and treated the conquered lands as belonging to the Muslim community who should all benefit from their Kharaj and `Ushr: Au.). – Alusi
    Ibn Kathir adds: In this context a hadith might be presented (which speaks of the financial arrangements made by the Ansar for the Prophet: Au.). It is in the Sahihayn, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, and others. The version below is from Ahmad:
    Anas reported: Some (of the Ansar) used to present date palm trees to the Prophet until the fall of Banu Quraiza and Banu Nadir. Then he began to return to the people their date palms. My people ordered me to ask the Prophet to return some or all of the date palms they had given to him, but the Prophet had given those trees to Umm Ayman. So, when I asked him, he returned them to me. (Hearing that) Umm Ayman came and placing a garment around my neck said, “No, by Him except whom there is no Deity, he will not return those trees to you as he (i.e. the Prophet) has already given them to me.” The Prophet said (to her), “You shall have (in return) such and such (trees).” But she kept on refusing, saying, ”No, by Allah," till he gave her ten times the number of her date-palms (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).‏
    14. “This is one of the most important verses of the Qur’an which lays down the basic principle of its economic policy. Wealth should circulate among the whole community and not only among the rich who get richer and richer while the poor become poorer and poorer. The Qur’an has not merely enunciated the policy, but has also taken several measures towards application. It has been done through institution of further rules. The Qur’an has forbidden interest, made zakah obligatory, enjoined that khumus (one-fifth) be deducted from the war spoils, has exhorted the Muslims to charity, has proposed such forms of atonement that help flow the wealth from the rich to the poor, and, finally, has made such laws of inheritance by which every deceased person’s wealth gets distributed among a wide number of people.” (Mawdudi).
    15. Does this directive apply to war spoils alone, or does it apply to every directive issued by the Prophet? Well, there is no difference among the scholars that the application is general and applies to anything that the Prophet (saws) ordered, or prohibited. (Note the Qur’anic words: as against “what he gives you,” it does not say, “what he does not give you,” but rather, “what he forbids you.” – Mawdudi).
    Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir reproduce a hadith from the Sahihayn to demonstrate that the rule is generally applicable to all things that the Prophet allowed or prohibited. This one is from Bukhari:
    Ibn Mas`ud used to say that Allah had cursed those women who get their skins engraved, as also those who do it, those who remove hair from their faces, those who get gaps created between their teeth for beauty, and those who alter Allah’s creation. This reached a woman called Umm Ya`qub from Banu Asad. She came to him and said, “I am told about you that you curse so and so, so and so!” He said, “Why should I not curse those whom the Prophet (saws) cursed, and that which happens to be in Allah’s Book?” She said, “I have read all there is between the two cover pages but I did not find what you say.” He said, “Had you read (more carefully) you would have found it. Did you not read, ‘And whatever the Messenger gives, accept it, and whatever He prohibits from, shun it?’” She said, “Of course.” Ibn Mas`ud added, “He (the Prophet too) prohibited it.” She said, “As I see, your wife does it.” He said, “Go in and have a look.” So she went in and reported back that she hadn’t seen any such thing. Ibn Mas`ud said, “Had that been the case, I would not allow myself intercourse with her.”
    In fact, this is how the Prophet himself understood this verse. (That is, it is a directive of general application: Au.). Nasa’i and others have recorded:
    Ibn `Umar and Ibn `Abbas bore witness that the Prophet forbid the use of Dabba’, Hantam, Muzaffat and Naqir (all wine vessels), and then recited this ayah: “And whatever the Messenger gives, accept it, and whatever He prohibits, refrain (from it).” – Ibn Kathir.

    لِلْفُقَرَاءِ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ وَأَمْوَالِهِمْ يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا وَيَنْصُرُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ (8)

    59|8| (Spoils are) for the destitute among the immigrants: those who were expelled from their homes and properties, while seeking Allah’s grace and good pleasure; and helping Allah and His Messenger.16 Those, they are the truthful ones.

    16. Ibn Jarir writes: It is reported that the Prophet spoke to the Ansar telling them about the Muhajirun, that they had been expelled from their homes and properties. The Ansar said, “We shall divide our property with them.” He suggested that since they are a people who do not know how to work in the orchards, they could keep charge of the groves but share the crop. They agreed.
    This report could not be traced elsewhere. (Au.).

    وَالَّذِينَ تَبَوَّءُوا الدَّارَ وَالْإِيمَانَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ يُحِبُّونَ مَنْ هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَا يَجِدُونَ فِي صُدُورِهِمْ حَاجَةً مِمَّا أُوتُوا وَيُؤْثِرُونَ عَلَىٰ أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَلَوْ كَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَةٌ ۚ وَمَنْ يُوقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ (9)

    59|9| And those who had established home (in this city)17 and the faith,18 before them, they love those who migrated to them and find not in their hearts any need19 for what they were given,20 and give preference over themselves, even though poverty happens to be their lot.21 And, whoever is saved from niggardliness of his own soul, those, they are the success-achievers.22

    17. The allusion is to the Ansar. (Ibn Jarir).
    Bukhari and other have the following report:
    On the authority of Ibn `Abbas: The Prophet came out during the sickness in which he died, wrapped in a cotton blanket, another dark cloth tightly around his head, sat down in the pulpit, glorified Allah and then said, “People will increase in numbers but the Ansar will decrease until they become like salt in food. So, whosoever is given the power of rule to harm some and benefit others, may accept their best ones, and overlook him among them who commits evil.” That was the last of the Prophet’s assembly in which he sat (Au.).
    Another narration of interest, as in Bukhari and others, is as follows:


    Anas b. Malik reported that when he went out with Waleed, the Prophet consulted the Ansar as to how would it be if they are given Bahrayn (i.e., its kharaj). They said, “No, unless our Muhajirun brothers are given something similar.” He replied, “If (you say) no, then observe patience until you see me (in the Hereafter), for after me you will face preferences (over you)” [Qurtubi in passing, Ibn Kathir].
    18. It is a beautiful illustration of how the Ansar treated faith. They gave home to faith, as they gave home to their physical bodies in Madinah. Faith was the home and the mother country in which their hearts and souls lived, in which they sought refuge, peace and security, just as a man finds refuge, peace and security in his homeland (Au.).
    19. This is the literal translation which has been interpreted by Hasan al-Busri to mean “envy” (Ibn Kathir).
    20. That is, what the immigrants were given from the booty of Banu Nadir, while all of the Ansar, but for two, were denied. This was because the Muhajirun were in dire conditions of poverty. Yet, this caused no rancor in the hearts of the Ansar (Ibn Jarir).
    21. In their support of the Muhajirun, the Ansar demonstrated such enthusiasm (that sometimes they had to resort to drawing lots over who would take one of the Muhajirun to his house), offered such sacrifices, and created such examples, that, if they had not occurred in the real world, they would have been treated by later generations as dream stories, or events created by flights of fancy (Sayyid).
    Sayyid writes a little later in the passages: Thus we have two pictures: that of Islamic directives on the one hand, (as depicted by the Ansar in word and spirit, and of love transcending region, language, and race) and that of the teachings and philosophies of the Communists as contained in the gospel of Karl Marx. One is filled with love for the humans, the other is stuffed with hatred and envy.
    The following can be quoted as an example of how the Ansar gave preference to the Muhajireen, even while enduring deprivation:


    Abu Hurayrah reports that a man came to the Prophet and said, “I have been struck by hardships.” The Prophet sent someone to his wives but he did not find anything with them. So he said, “Would there be someone who will host him tonight? Allah will show him mercy.” So one of the Ansar got up, said he will, and took the man to his house. He told his wife, “Here is a guest of the Prophet. Don’t save back anything.” She said, “By Allah! I have nothing but the children’s food.” He said, “When the children ask for dinner, put them to sleep, then put off the lamp. We shall fold our stomachs tonight (and feed the guest).“ She did as told. The next day when he went to the Prophet he said, “Allah was amazed, (or he said, he smiled at) the man and the woman.” And Allah revealed, “... And give preference over themselves, even though poverty happens to be their lot.”
    Ibn Jarir’s report names the Ansari as Abu Talha (Qurtubi).
    The narrative is in Bukhari (Ibn Kathir).
    Qurtubi and Shawkani present another example taken from Ibn Marduwayh, Bayhaqi in Sho`ab, and Hakim, who declared it Sahih. One of the Companions was sent a sheep‘s head. He forwarded it to another considering him in greater need. The second person sent it across to a third for the same reason. The sheep-head went to seven houses and arrived back at the first.
    Qurtubi adds: Hudhayfa al-`Adawi reports about the battle of Yarmuk: “I went into the battlefield looking for my uncle. I was carrying some water. I said to myself that if he has any life left in him, maybe I’ll pour water into his mouth. When I found him I asked, ‘Shall I give you some water?’ He signaled ‘yes’ with his head. Right then another man said, ‘Ah.’ My uncle signaled me to go to him. That was Hisham b. al-`Aas. I asked him whether I could give him some water. He signaled a ‘yes.’ But then he heard another man say, ‘Ah, Ah.’ Hisham signaled me to attend to him. But by the time I could reach the other man, he was dead. I returned to Hisham. He was dead. I went back to my uncle and he too was dead.”
    `Umar b. al-Khattab sent 400 Dinars to Abu `Ubaydah b. al-Jarrah and instructed the carrier to tarry along for a while to see what he does with the gifted money. Abu `Ubaydah accepted it, supplicated for `Umar and then calling in his servant began saying: ‘Five for so and so, 10 for so and so, etc.,‘ until he had spent the 400. Then `Umar tried the same thing with Mu`adh b. Jabal. He too spent off the gifted amount then and there until his wife peeped into the room to remind him that they were equally poor and so he gave her the remaining two Dinars. When the messenger told `Umar about what Mu`adh did, he was very pleased and remarked, “They are brothers, some of them are from others.”
    Similarly, when `A’isha was sent 10,000 Dirhams by Mu`awiyyah, she distributed it all during the same session.
    Qurtubi goes on to demonstrate how little the earlier generations cared for this world. For example, Ba Yezid Bustami said, “I was never overwhelmed by anyone as I was overwhelmed by a young man from Balkh. He was on his way to Hajj and came down to see me. He asked me, ‘Abu Yezid! What is the boundary of self-denial (zuhd) at your end?’ I said, ‘If we find we eat but if we do not, we observe patience.” He said, “That is the self-denial of our dogs in Balkh.’ I asked, ‘So what is the boundary of zuhd at your end?’ He answered, ‘When we do not have, we say thanks, and when we have, we pass on to those in greater need.‘”
    Dhannun Misri was asked, “What is the condition of a zahid who has an open heart?” He answered, “Three: (a) distribution of that which is in his possession, (b) not seeking after what has been denied, and, (c) preferring others when given.”
    It is reported of Abu al-Hasan al-Antaki that once over thirty people gathered around him in one of the villages of Rayy. They had a few loaves of bread that wouldn’t suffice but a few. So they broke the loaves into small pieces, put off the lamp, and sat around the bread. When the lamp was re-ignited, and the dining spread-cloth was raised, the bread was as it was. Every one of the participant had not eaten anything for the sake of the rest!
    22. Literally “shuhh” is a synonym of “bukhl” (miserliness; except that it is regarded as extreme type of bukhl) - Munawi.
    But others say it is miserliness combined with greed. Ta’us has said that “bukhl” is to be stingy with one’s own wealth while “shuhh” is to be stingy with other people’s wealth (i.e., a “shahih” cannot see others spending: Au.). There are various other explanations such as, “(it is) oppression, or, not carrying out religious obligations, etc. (Qurtubi).
    Nonetheless, according to Ibn Mas`ud it has not been used in the sense of miserliness at this point. It is reported that someone came to him and told him that he felt destroyed because he never liked to part with any of his money, while Allah has condemned “shuhh.” Ibn Mas`ud told him that by “shuhh” at this point Allah meant those who devour the wealth of a brother unlawfully. It is also reported by Abu Hayyaj al-Asadi that while he was going round the Ka`bah, he found a man supplicating, “O Allah, save me from shuhh.” He would not add anything to it. I asked him the reason. He said, “If I am saved from shuhh, I will not be stealing, nor fornicating, nor doing anything wrong.” The man was `Abd al-Rahman b. `Awf.
    In fact, there is a hadith to this effect. Preserved in Tabarani’s Awsat, (termed Hasan by Suyuti in his Jami` Saghir: Au.):
    On the authority of Anas b. Malik, the Prophet (saws) said, “He is free of shuhh who paid the Zakah, took care of the guest and helped him who faces hard times.” (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    There are other ahadith that point to this meaning. One in Muslim and other collections says,
    The Prophet said, “Beware of oppression for oppression will be darknesses on the day of Standing. Beware of ‘shuhh’ for ‘shuhh’ destroyed those before you: it resulted in they spilling the blood, and treating the unlawful as lawful.”
    Another report as recorded by Nasa’i says,
    Abu Hurayrah reported the Prophet’s words, “The dust in the path of Allah and smoke of Jahannum will not get together within the stomach of a believer - ever; and ‘shuhh’ and faith cannot get together in the heart of a slave – ever” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    The narrative was preserved by Hakim as well as Ibn Hibban. (Au.).

    وَالَّذِينَ جَاءُوا مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلِإِخْوَانِنَا الَّذِينَ سَبَقُونَا بِالْإِيمَانِ وَلَا تَجْعَلْ فِي قُلُوبِنَا غِلًّا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ رَءُوفٌ رَحِيمٌ (10)

    59|10| As for those who came after them, they say, ‘O our Lord, forgive us and those of our brothers who preceded us in faith, and place not in our hearts any rancor towards those who have believed;23 O our Lord, surely You are the All-clement, the All-merciful.

    23. The early Muslims have a special place in Islam. The following may be noted:
    We learn that once `Umar b. al-Khattab treated a Badri Companion with harshness. the Prophet remarked, “What will teach you `Umar that may be he was at a place (meaning Badr) into which Allah looked and asked His angels to bear witness that, ‘I am pleased with these My slaves, so let them now do whatever they will’” (Ibn Jarir).
    The hadith could not be traced in other books but similar reports speak of the high status of Badri Companions (Au.).
    Then there is `A’isha’s statement in Baghawi (whose main text is confirmed by reports in other works such as Muslim: Sami, Au.):
    `A’isha said, “You were asked to seek forgiveness for the Companions of Muhammad, but you criticize them. I heard the Prophet say, ‘This community will not end until its last curses the first.’” (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    Qurtubi adds: Some scholars have said, “Be a sun. If you cannot, be a moon. If you cannot, be a star. If you cannot, be a planet.” The interpretation is: Be a Muhajir. If you cannot, then be an Ansari. If you cannot, then try to be of the same quality of deeds as they. But if you cannot, then seek forgiveness for them as Allah has ordered.
    Nahhas reported that a group of Iraqi (Shi`as) went to Hussain and began to abuse Abu Bakr, `Umar and `Uthman. Hussain asked them, “Are you of the Muhajirun?” They said, “Of course not.” He asked, “Are you of those about whom Allah said, “And those who had established home (in this city) and the faith, before them..?” They replied, “Of course not.” He told them, “So, you have yourself denied. And let me bear witness that you are not of those about whom Allah said, ‘As for those who came after them, they say, “O our Lord, forgive us and those of our brothers who preceded us in faith, and place not in our hearts any rancor towards those who have believed.’”’
    Now you can leave.”
    Sha`bi has said: Jews and Christians score a point over the Shi`ah, at least over one issue. When the Jews are asked, “Who were the best of people in your community?” They reply, “The Companions of Musa.” When Christians are asked, “Who were the best of people in your community?” They reply, “The Companions of Jesus.” When the Shi`ah are asked, “Who are the worst people in your community?” They answer, “The Companions of Muhammad.” They were asked to seek forgiveness for them, they curse them.

    أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ نَافَقُوا يَقُولُونَ لِإِخْوَانِهِمُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ لَئِنْ أُخْرِجْتُمْ لَنَخْرُجَنَّ مَعَكُمْ وَلَا نُطِيعُ فِيكُمْ أَحَدًا أَبَدًا وَإِنْ قُوتِلْتُمْ لَنَنْصُرَنَّكُمْ وَاللَّهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّهُمْ لَكَاذِبُونَ (11)

    59|11| Have you not considered those who adopted hypocrisy,24 saying to their brothers of the People of the Book who have disbelieved, ‘If you are driven out, we too will go forth with you, and we will never ever obey anyone concerning you. And, if you are fought against, we will certainly help you.’ But Allah bears witness that surely they are liars.25

    24. Those were `Abdullah b. Ubayy, Wadiy`ah b. Nawfal, Malik b. Nawfal, Suwayd b. Daa`is (Ibn Jarir), Rifaa`ah b. Tabut, `Abdullah b. Nabtal, and Aws b. Qayzi (Qurtubi, Shawkani).
    25. Yusuf Ali comments: “The Jews of the Banu Nadir had been assured by the Hypocrites of Madinah of their support to their cause. They had thought that their defection from the Prophet’s Cause would so weaken that cause that they would save their friends. But they never intended to undertake any act involving self-sacrifice on their part; if they had helped their Jewish friends, it was not likely that they would have succeeded; and if they had actually gone to the fight; they had neither valour nor fervour to support them, and they would have fled ignominiously before the discipline, earnestness, and Faith of the men of Islam.”
    This is one of the several signs of the Prophet’s authenticity. The prediction came true and the hypocrites neither fought on their side, nor accompanied them in their banishment (Qurtubi). After all, even if they did not fight, none of them preferred to do what was easier of accomplishment, viz., accompany them to the places of banishment (Au.).

    لَئِنْ أُخْرِجُوا لَا يَخْرُجُونَ مَعَهُمْ وَلَئِنْ قُوتِلُوا لَا يَنْصُرُونَهُمْ وَلَئِنْ نَصَرُوهُمْ لَيُوَلُّنَّ الْأَدْبَارَ ثُمَّ لَا يُنْصَرُونَ (12)

    59|12| If those are expelled, they will never go forth with them, and if they are fought against, they will never help them. Even if they helped them, they will certainly show their backs, and then they would not be helped.

    لَأَنْتُمْ أَشَدُّ رَهْبَةً فِي صُدُورِهِمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ (13)

    59|13| Indeed, you are more fearful to them in their hearts than Allah.26 That because they are a people who do not understand.

    26. The reference is to both the parties: the hypocrites as well as the Jews. (Qurtubi).
    As Allah said elsewhere:
    “A party of them fears the people as they ought to fear Allah, or even more fearful” (Ibn Kathir).

    لَا يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ جَمِيعًا إِلَّا فِي قُرًى مُحَصَّنَةٍ أَوْ مِنْ وَرَاءِ جُدُرٍ ۚ بَأْسُهُمْ بَيْنَهُمْ شَدِيدٌ ۚ تَحْسَبُهُمْ جَمِيعًا وَقُلُوبُهُمْ شَتَّىٰ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ (14)

    59|14| They will not fight against you all together except from fortified townships, or from behind walls.27 Their valor is great among themselves. You reckon them united,28 but their hearts are split.29 That because they are a people who do not intellectualize.30

    27. “The passage of centuries has not had any effect on the truth of the Qur’anic statements. They hold true today as they did a millennium and half earlier. I was personal witness to the clashes during the final phases of the war between the Jews and Muslim Fida’iin in the Holy Land (in 1948: Au.). They would never fight but from fortified places in Palestine, fleeing as soon as they feared attack in the open. Their behavior reflected the Qur’anic illustration so well as if the verses had come down then, right there while the fighting was going on.” (Sayyid).
    Shabbir remarks that after having always lost in wars that allowed for one-to-one sword fights, the West invented gun-powder.
    Early on when gun-powder was invented and battles after battles were being lost by the Muslims against European invasions at the end of the Middle-ages because of the advantage of gun-powder, the Ottomans also introduced guns into their army. But Muslim soldiers refused to accept the guns on grounds of chivalry. They would say, “How can you kill someone without giving him an equal chance to defend himself?” They thought it was cowardice to be killing a man from a distance. By the time they learnt that there was no alternative to the gun, it was pretty late. The lead that their enemies then acquired lasts to this day. Its supremacy in battlefields is the supremacy of a coward’s reliance on the ability to kill from a distance. When this ability is gone, which is likely to happen in a short while, the Crusader will retreat to his preserves (Au.).
    28. The allusion is to the hypocrites and Jews. At heart they were disunited because both bore different faiths. It was unity of ranks on the basis of unity of purposes, but not unity of convictions, that they tried to achieve, and, therefore, failed (Au.).
    29. “...implying that people who have no real faith and no definite moral convictions can never attain to true unity among themselves, but are always impelled to commit acts of aggression against one another” (Asad).
    30. They do not understand for instance, that where there is no unity of intents and purposes, arising from unity of convictions, unity of ranks is not viable (Au.).
    (Way back in the first Islamic century, what Muslims understood seems not to be the share of modern-day Muslims, and, specifically, their leaders: Au.). Qatadah stated: You will find the followers of falsehood as holders of varying beliefs, following varying fanciful thoughts, practicing varying deeds. They are only united over enmity of the holders of Truth (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi).
    Yusuf Ali adds: “It may be that they have a strong fighting spirit among themselves, but they have no Cause to fight for and no common objective to achieve. The Makkan Pagans want to keep their own unjust autocracy; the Madinah Hypocrites wish for their own domination in Madinah; and the Jews want their racial superiority established over the Arabs, of whose growing union and power they are jealous. Their pretended alliance could not stand the strain of either a defeat or a victory. If they had been wise, they would have accepted the Cause of Unity, Faith, and Truth.”

    كَمَثَلِ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ قَرِيبًا ۖ ذَاقُوا وَبَالَ أَمْرِهِمْ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ (15)

    59|15| Like those before them who lately tasted the evil consequences of their doings;31 and there awaits for them a painful chastisement.

    31. The opinion of Ibn `Abbas was that the allusion was to another Jewish tribe Banu Qaynuqa` (Ibn Jarir).
    Their story is as follows:
    Banu Qaynuqa’
    Tthe Prophet (saws) had entered into peace treaties with various tribes around Madinah, including the Jews. But at the time of the Badr battle one or two incidents of the breach of trust had already appeared. Following the defeat of the Quraysh at Badr, the Prophet gathered the Jews of Banu Qaynuqa` (a gold-smith tribe: Yusuf Ali), and admonished them saying, ‘fear Allah, for you have seen how the Quraysh power was destroyed at Badr.’ (There is every possibility that the Prophet had learnt that orders from on High for expeditions against various Jewish tribes was simply a matter of time, and so warned them for one and the last time, hoping they could be saved). But they acted arrogantly and said to him, “Muhammad, do not be encouraged by the fact that you killed a few of the Quraysh at Badr who did not know how to fight. If you meet with us in a battle you will learn that we are real men, and that you have not met the like of us.” In reply, Allah revealed the following:
    “Say to the unbelievers that you will be overcome and mustered into Jahannam - an evil resting place. There was a sign for you in the two groups that met (at Badr). One group fighting in the cause of Allah, while the other - the unbelievers - seeing them, as the eye sees, twice themselves. But Allah strengthens with His succor whom He will. In this (event) was a lesson indeed for those of sight.”
    But of course, such revelations were not to move them. Far from that, they would not give up their mischievous ways. When a Muslim woman visited a Jewelry shop in the market dominated by this Jewish tribe, she was persistently asked to unveil. She refused. So the shop-keeper secretly tied her lower garment to a peg in such a manner that when she came down, she was uncovered. She called for help. A Muslim killed the Jewish shopkeeper. Other Jews rushed in and killed the Muslim. The Prophet (saws) announced Jihad against this tribe. They withdrew to their forts and the Prophet laid siege following Allah’s instruction:


    “But if you fear from a people treachery, then cast back to them (their treaty), on equal footing.”
    Banu Qaynuqa` were considered as the toughest of the Jews, but it wasn’t but 15 days of siege that they lost heart, opened the gates of their fort and announced that they were ready to accept the Prophet’s decision about them. But before the Prophet could announce his decision, `Abdullah b. Ubayy, the arch-hypocrite and their ally, doggedly pleaded for them. He said, “Four hundred unarmed and three hundred armored men, who defended me against the white and the black, will you make a game of them in half a day?” The Prophet told him, “They are yours,” and ordered that they be expelled from Madinah. They went away to Adhru`at areas of Syria. That was in Shawwal of the second year after Hijrah.

    كَمَثَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِذْ قَالَ لِلْإِنْسَانِ اكْفُرْ فَلَمَّا كَفَرَ قَالَ إِنِّي بَرِيءٌ مِنْكَ إِنِّي أَخَافُ اللَّهَ رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ (16)

    59|16| Like Shaytan who said to man, ‘Disbelieve.’ But when he disbelieved he said, ‘I am quit of you. I am afraid of Allah, Lord of the worlds.’32

    32. Shabbir reproduces Shah `Abdul Qadir’s note that this is exactly what had happened at Badr. Shaytan came in the form of a man and encouraged them to the battle. But when he saw the angels, he fled declaring that he was quit of the pagans.
    Although obviously general, Ibn Jarir relates the ayah to the story of an Israeli monk of the past. He presents several versions of it on the authority of `Ali, Ibn Mas`ud, and Ibn `Abbas. Herewith a summary: There was a monk in the deserts among the Israelites much devoted to God. People came to him from afar seeking blessings. A girl fell victim to a Jinn. Her brothers brought her to him for cure. She was beautiful and he lost self-control. She became pregnant. Shaytan suggested to him that he should kill her and concoct a story. Given his reputation it will be believed. So he killed her and buried her under a tree. When the brothers came he told them that she died by natural causes and he had buried her. They believed in him and returned. But Shaytan appeared to them in dreams and told them what truly had happened. They were so sure of the innocence of the monk that they spoke of the dream to each other only fearfully. But all stories concurring, they dug the grave and found that she had truly been murdered. Shaytan next went to the monk and told him that his crime was about to be discovered. He could find a way out for him if he would prostrate himself to him. The monk did it. But when he had done, Shaytan said, “I am quit of you. I am afraid of Allah, Lord of the worlds.” The brothers, of course, informed the authorities and they handed him a death sentence.
    The narrative is found in `Abd al-Razzaq, Ibn Rahwayh, Bukhari in his Ta’rikh, Ibn Marduwayh, Bayhaqi and Hakim who declared it trustworthy (Shawkani). Among the early commentators, the narrative is there in Ibn Abi Hatim and Durr al-Manthur (Au.).
    The monk involved has been named as Barsis (Qurtubi) and this story is different from the story of another monk Jurayj whom the woman involved had accused falsely (Ibn Kathir).

    فَكَانَ عَاقِبَتَهُمَا أَنَّهُمَا فِي النَّارِ خَالِدَيْنِ فِيهَا ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ جَزَاءُ الظَّالِمِينَ (17)

    59|17| So the outcome of the two was that both are in the Fire, abiding therein. That is the recompense of the wrongdoers.

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَلْتَنْظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ (18)

    59|18| O those who have believed, fear Allah and let a soul see what it has advanced for tomorrow.33 Fear Allah, surely Allah is Aware of what you do.

    33. As if this world is a day, and, therefore, the Hereafter tomorrow. Another hidden hint is that the Hereafter is as sure to happen as tomorrow is sure to arrive (Alusi).
    Although the following is not an explanation of the verse at hand, but we present it following Ibn Kathir, to demonstrate how the same verses affected their first recipients. It is from Muslim:
    A Companions reports: We were with the Prophet early in the day when a group of people came in: bare feet, unclothed, striped shrouds on their bodies, and swords hanging (by their waists). Most of them were from Mudar tribe, or perhaps all. The Prophet’s countenance changed, seeing the starvation that had struck them. He went into (his house) and then coming out ordered Bilal to say the Prayer-call. He led in the Prayers and then addressed them saying: “People! Fear Allah your Lord who created you from a single soul”….. until.. “surely Allah is watching over you.” Then he recited this verse, “O those who have believed, fear Allah and let a soul see what it has advanced for tomorrow; and fear Allah.” Then he added, “Let a man offer his Dinar or his Dirham or out of his clothes, a measure of wheat, a measure of dates” – until he said – “even if it is half of a date.” In response, a man brought a small packet, so small that his palm was too large for it. Thereafter people followed until I saw two heaps of dates and clothes and I saw the Prophet’s face shine, as if it was gold. He said, “Whoever started a good practice in Islam shall have its reward and the reward of those who practiced it after him without they losing any of their reward. On the other hand, whoever started a bad practice in Islam shall have its sin upon him and the sin of those who followed him after him without their sin being reduced by any amount.”

    وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ نَسُوا اللَّهَ فَأَنْسَاهُمْ أَنْفُسَهُمْ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ (19)

    59|19| Be not like those who forgot Allah and so He made them forget their own souls.34 Those, they are the corrupt rebellious ones.

    34. That is, they forgot Allah’s rights, so Allah made them forget their own rights upon themselves. (Tabari).
    “What can be a greater tragedy than one forgetting oneself, one’s moral rights upon oneself, one’s spiritual developments, one’s heedlessness to the diseases of the heart, to the extent that never does a thought cross his mind about them, never does he consider - not the seriousness of the disease - but the disease itself?
    “What punishment can be greater than the punishment of one forgetting his own soul, his heart and its diseases, with no thoughts of medication or treatment; completely oblivious of its diseases, its cures, and the means of attaining salvation in the everlasting life that will follow? How sorrowful his affair is: He is so fearful of the destruction of his body, from whose destruction there is no escape, but is forgetful of the destruction of the soul, which is what he will carry with him to the next life?” (Ibn al-Qayyim, paraphrased).
    Ibn Kathir reproduces a beautiful sermon by Abu Bakr as preserved by Tabarani in his Al-Kabir, and whose narrators are, according to Ibn Kathir, trustworthy:
    Nu`aym b. Namiha narrated that Abu Bakr (ra) said in a sermon of his, “Do you not know that you do the morning and evening unto a known term? Therefore, whoever can manage that he arrives at his term-end while he is engaged in one of Allah’s missions, let him. But you will never attain it except by Allah’s own will. Some people have devoted their terms for other than themselves. Allah has prohibited you that you should be like them by saying, ‘Be not like those who forgot Allah and so He made them forget themselves.’
    “Where are those of your brothers you used to know? They sent forward what they could in the days of their past. They ran into hardships as well as good fortune. Where are the earlier tyrants who built the cities and surrounded them with walls? They are now under stones and holes.
    “Now, this is Allah’s Book. Its wonders will never end. Therefore, seek admonition through it for a dark day and clear things in its light and expression. Allah praised Zakariyyah by saying, ‘They would hasten to good deeds and would invoke Us with hopes and fears and they were humble to Us.’ Remember, there is no good in a word not uttered for the sake of Allah, nor any good in wealth not spent in the path of Allah, nor any good in him whose arrogant ignorance overcomes his graciousness, neither in him who fears in matters involving Allah, the criticism of the critic.”

    لَا يَسْتَوِي أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ وَأَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ ۚ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ (20)

    59|20| Not equal are the companions of the Fire and companions of Paradise.35 The companions of Paradise, they are indeed the triumphant ones.

    35. Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir reproduce verses of similar meaning:

    لَوْ أَنْزَلْنَا هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ عَلَىٰ جَبَلٍ لَرَأَيْتَهُ خَاشِعًا مُتَصَدِّعًا مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَتِلْكَ الْأَمْثَالُ نَضْرِبُهَا لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ (21)

    59|21| Had we sent down this Qur’an upon a mountain, you would have surely seen it humbled and split asunder from the fear of Allah.36 These are the similitudes that we strike for the people, haply that they will reflect.

    36. A hadith of “mutawatir” status says that when the Prophet’s pulpit was made and he abandoned the palm tree he used to lean on, it began to weep and moan – like a child, until the Prophet came down and patted it. But people are harder than that they should listen to the Qur’an in fear and humbleness. The Qur’an has said about the hearts that they can be harder than stones.

    هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ ۖ هُوَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ الرَّحِيمُ (22)

    59|22| He is Allah, other than Whom there is no god. Knower of the Unseen and the seen.37 He is the All-compassionate,38 the All-merciful.39

    37. “Al-Rahman” is the All-compassionate of this world and the Next (Ibn Jarir).
    38. That is, that which is known by the creations.
    39. “Al-Rahim” is the All-merciful extending His mercy especially to the believers (Ibn Jarir). Thus, He is the All-compassionate of this world and the Next, and All-merciful of both (Ibn Kathir).

    هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْمَلِكُ الْقُدُّوسُ السَّلَامُ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْمُهَيْمِنُ الْعَزِيزُ الْجَبَّارُ الْمُتَكَبِّرُ ۚ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ (23)

    59|23| He is Allah, other than whom there is no god. The Sovereign,40 the All-holy,41 the Author of safety,42 the Provider of security,43 the All-preserver,44 the All-mighty,45 the Irresistible,46 the Proud.47 Glory to Allah, high above all that they associate.


    40. “Al-Malik”: He who has the power to bring into being (from not being). - Qushayri.
    41. “Al-Quddus”: Ibn Jarir states the meaning as “Al-Mubarak.”
    Qadasa is to be pure, free of all defects. A word derived from the same root is “al-qadas” popular in Hejaz, which is for a kind of vessel, so named because the vessel is used for cleaning and purifying (Qurtubi). Hence Wahab b. Munnabbih’s opinion that Quddus means: “The Pure” (Ibn Kathir).
    42. “Al-Salam: He from whose oppression the creations can feel secure (Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi); One who is free of all defects and flaws: Perfect of His Names, Acts and Attributes (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    43. “Al-Mu’min”: One who provides peace and security (Ibn Jarir); or One who secures His Friends from His own chastisement, and His slaves from any oppression originating from Himself (Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir).
    44. “Al-Muhaymin”: Ibn `Abbas stated the meaning as Witness and, Watcher. That is, He who watches over the deeds of His slaves (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir).
    It is said,
    The bird spread its wings over its chicken to preserve them (Tuhfah). Also see note 146 of Surah Al-Ma’idah where the word has been used to describe the Qur’an (Au.).
    45. “Al-`Aziz”: Qatadah understood this Attribute as One who is severe in revenge when He avenges (Ibn Jarir).
    46. “Al-Jabbar” has several connotations: The word is primarily used in Arabic for greatness, as well as for setting things right (Qurtubi); so that, “jabr” is for bone-setting, or plastering even in today’s parlance. (Au.). Here, He who reforms the affairs of His creation (Ibn Jarir).
    Another meaning is, as Qatadah said, that of the Binder, who binds His creation to whatever He decides (Ibn Kathir); in other words, One who compels everyone to His will. Thus Al-Jabbar is the Compeller (Au.); yet another meaning is that of a Corrector, Restorer or Mender (Qurtubi).
    47. “Al-Mutakabbir:” One who is above all in greatness, so that there is none like unto Him (Qurtubi). Qatadah understood it as One who is above it that any evil should touch Him (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Kathir, Qushayri).
    We could combine Yusuf Ali’s two notes here: “How can a translator reproduce the sublimity and the comprehensiveness of the magnificent Arabic words, which mean so much in a single symbol? (1) ‘The Sovereign’ in our human language implies the one undisputed authority which is entitled to give commands and to receive obedience, and which in fact receives obedience; the power which enforces law and justice. (2) Human authority may be misused, but in the title ‘the Holy One’, we postulate a Being free from all stain or evil, and replete with the highest Purity. (3) ‘Salam’ has not only the idea of Peace as opposed to Conflict, but wholeness as opposed to defects: hence our paraphrase ‘Source of Peace and Perfection’. (4) Mo’min, one who entertains Faith, who gives Faith to others, who is never false to the Faith that others place in him: hence our paraphrase ‘Guardian of Faith’. (5) ‘Preserver of Safety’; guarding all from danger, corruption, loss, etc.; the word is used for the Qur’an in v. 51. These are the attributes of kindness and benevolence: in the next note are described the attributes of power. (6) Allah is not only good, but He can carry out His Will. (7) And if anything resists or opposes Him, His Will prevails. (8) For He is Supreme, above all things and creatures. Thus we come back to the Unity with which we began in verse 22.”

    هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ ۖ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ (24)

    59|24| He is Allah, the Creator,48 the Maker,49 the Fashioner.50 To Him belong the Names Most Beautiful.51 All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.52

    48. “Al-Khaliq”: Khalaqa is to determine, condition, decide and regulate (Razi, Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir citing a poetical verse).
    49. “Al-Bari’”: is an Inventor (Qurtubi); or One who makes and brings into being following a certain design and proportion (Ibn Kathir).
    50. “Al-Musawwir” is not merely the Fashioner, but also One who creates according to the image He desires (Ibn Kathir).
    51. The Sahihayn have a report which says:
    “Allah has ninety-nine Names. No one will take care of them but will enter Paradise. And He is odd (in number, being One) and approves of the odd.”
    Hereunder His ninety-nine Names as in Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah with minor variations between the two in placements:
    He is: 1.Allah, (besides whom there is no deity), 2.The Merciful, 3.The Compassionate, 4.The King, 5.The Holy, 6.The Peace, 7.The Security-Bestower, 8.The Protector, 9.The Mighty, 10.The Compeller, 11.The Proud, 12.The Creator, 13.The Maker, 14.The Fashioner, 15.The Forgiver, 16.The Subduer, 17.The Bestower, 18.The Provider, 19.The Opener, 20.The Knower, 21.The Withdrawer, 22.The Outspreader, 23.The Reducer, 24.The Elevator, 25.The Honorer, 26.The Abaser, 27.The Hearer, 28.The Seer, 29.The Judge, 30.The Just, 31.The Subtle, 32.The Aware, 33.The Clement, 34.The Grand, 35.The Forgiving, 36.The Appreciative, 37.The Most High, 38.The Great, 39.The Guardian, 40.The Reliever, 41.The Reckoner, 42.The Majestic, 43.The Generous, 44.The Watcher, 45.The Responsive, 46.The Comprehensive, 47.The Wise, 48.The Loving, 49.The Glorious, 50.The Raiser, 51.The Witness, 52.The Truth, 53.The Trustee, 54.The Strong, 55.The Firm, 56.The Patron, 57.The Laudable, 58.The Counter, 59.The Beginner, 60.The Restorer, 61.The Qnickener, 62.The Life-taker, 63.The Living, 64.The Self-subsisting, 65.The Self-sufficient, 66.The Glorified, 67.The One, 68.The Eternal, 69.The Able, 70.The Potentate, 71.The Bringing for¬ward, 72.The Deferrer, 73.The First, 74.The Last, 75.The Evident, 76.The Hidden, 77.The Governor, 78.The Exalted, 79.The Righteous, 80.The Accepter of Repentance, 81.The Retributor, 82.The Pardoner, 83.The Tender, 84.The Owner of the Kingdom, 85.The Lord of Majesty and Honor, 86.The Equitable, 87.The Gatherer, 88.The All-sufficient, 89.The Enricher, 90.The Withdrawer, 91.The Afflicter, 92.The Benefactor, 93.The Light, 94.The Guide, 95.The Originator, 96.The Lasting, 97.The Inheritor, 98.The Prudent, 99.The Patient.
    (Although there is agreement among the scholars that these are ninety-nine of the many more Names that there can be, the chain of narrators has not received their approval. Further, not all of them are from the Qur’an or hadith: Au.).
    52. The surprise at the repetition of these two Attributes, “the Mighty, the Wise” after they were stated earlier in the same passage, is removed by Shabbir’s comment who writes that all the Attributes of Allah could be summed up in these two: He is Mighty, so has power over all things, and is Wise and so does whatever He does, following His wisdom.