Sent down at Madina; its ayat, or portents, 286.
The sụrah is called al-Baqarah, ‘the Cow’, because it contains a celebrated story involving a cow.
By the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
The sụrah begins with the name of Allah the Most High, to reinforce the sense of seeking help from Him; and also for the Muslim to learn to begin all his actions with this blessed name; and for this bountiful name to be imprinted on the minds, since repetition has a profound effect.
Alif; lam; mim;
These types of letters: alif, lam, and mim.
That is the book–no doubt about it–a guidance for the guardful:
That is the book… ‘That’ is given for źạlika, which is used to denote distance; here, the Quran's lofty station and exalted position.
…–no doubt about it–… That is, there is no doubt about in it; there is no place for doubt about the book, even though the disbelievers express doubt, just as daylight is clear and beyond doubt, even though Sophist philosophers say they are in doubt about it.
...a guidance for the guardful: This is an adjective following upon an adjective. It means that the Qur’an is a guide for those who are guardful, and fear downfall and destruction. Such persons will be guided by the Qur’an, though the Qur’an of itself is suitable to guide everyone.
Who believe in the unseen and establish the prayer and, from that We have provisioned them, they dispense;
Who believe in the unseen... The guardful are described as believing in the unseen. ‘Believe' is given for yu’minụn, related to ịmạn, meaning belief. The unseen (al-ghayb) is what is hidden from the physical senses, above and beyond the natural world. The soul is unseen, the proceedings of the grave are unseen, Allah the glorified is unseen, and so on.
...And establish the prayer:…They always perform the prayer just the way they are commanded to perform it. The signification is greater than merely praying.
…And, from that We have provisioned them, they dispense;…The term ‘We have provisioned' is given for razaqnạ, from rizq, which embraces food, clothing, accommodation, knowledge, health and so on. The giving of each of these is according to what is appropriate for itself.
And who believe in that sent down unto thee and that sent down before thee, and of the hereafter they are certain.
And who believe in that sent down unto thee... The pronoun of ‘to thee' is singular: they believe in what was sent down to the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House – that is, the Qur’an and his revelation.
…and that sent down before thee,… It is a condition of belief to believe in all the Prophets, as in the portent ‘...we distinguish not between any of His Messengers.' (285)
…and of the hereafter they are certain.‘They are certain’ is given for yụqinụn, meaning to believe and to put into action all that such believing entails. Some of this corresponds to ‘belief in the unseen', but is mentioned separately due to its importance.
Those are on a guidance from their Master, and those, they are the thrivers.
Those are on a guidance from their Master…: They have foresight and discernment (basịrah), and this greater perception has come to them from Allah, glorified be He.
...And those, they are the thrivers. They are successful ‘thrivers’ (muflihụn): in the world they have insight and perception, and in the hereafter they are delivered and successful.
The Qur’an then turns from this mention of the believers, to mention of the disbelievers, and then later to the hypocrites, since any summons or appeal is bound to divide the people into three groups concerning itself: the believers, who accept it; the rejecting disbelievers, and those who vacillate between the two sides.
Indeed those who disbelieve: alike it is to them whether thou warn them or thou warn them not, they will not believe.
Indeed those who disbelieve:… ‘Disbelief’ is given for kufr, which means concealment, as if the disbeliever conceals reality and refuses to show it. ‘Those who disbelieve' here means those amongst the disbelievers who were die-hard stubborn, as they are the typical model of those who disbelieve. Apart from them, many of the people who believed in the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, were disbelievers who then believed. :
…alike it is to them whether thou warn them or thou warn them not, they will not believe, they will not believe.….It is clear that it makes no difference to a stubborn opponent whether he is warned or not, except that he must be warned so that the hujjat or argument and ground for punishment against him is complete, and he has no come-back. This portent was a comfort to the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, so as to relieve him of any distress his opponents' obstinacy was causing him.
Allah has sealed over their hearts, and upon their hearing and their vision is a cover, and for them is a mighty chastisement.
Allah has sealed over their hearts,... Allah the Most High has sealed disbelief into their hearts, and rendered them such that it is difficult for them to believe, on account of their being habituated to disbelief and to refusing to listen to the truth. Allah sealed them because they did not accept the guidance. They do not profit from guidance, and advice does not benefit them. It is as Allah says, ‘...Allah has sealed them for their disbelief...,-that is to say, on account of their disbelief.
We have interpreted ‘sealed' as ‘made it difficult to believe' as it is obvious that any person, no matter how obstinate their opposition, never becomes such that they cannot accept and be guided.
...And upon their hearing and their vision is a cover…Like the deaf they do not benefit from their hearing, as their hearing is defective. Their spiritual condition of being veiled is likened to their physical senses being veiled, or covered. Just as one whose eyes are covered does not see sensory things, so the obstinate opponent has something over his eyes that acts like a cover. It is a case of describing one who is without a quality in a thing as being without that thing itself, rather like describing a person who is unable to learn as being ‘a brick wall'.
...And for them is a mighty chastisement... In the world and in the hereafter, for whoso strays from the commands of Allah, the Most High, has a straightened life in the world, and will be raised blind on the day of resurrection.
And of the people is whoso says, ‘We believe in Allah and in the Last Day,' while they are not believers;
This means the hypocrites, the third type, who declare their belief in their words only, but in reality are not believers. They do not perform the actions of believers, even though their hearts may also be convinced of the realities of faith.
They double-cross Allah and those who believe, yet they double-cross none but themselves, while they notice not.
They double-cross Allah and those who believe,... They wish to deceive Allah the Most High and they wish to cheat Him, showing what they do not mean, and meaning what they do not show. They show themselves to the believers other than as they are.
...yet they double-cross none but themselves.... In reality their efforts do not deceive or double-cross Allah and the believers, for they are aware of their characters, and they are not taken in. On the contrary, they double-cross only themselves, in that though they are ruled as being believers on the surface, yet they do not share with them in their secrets, and they do not share their condition in the hereafter. Thus they are deceived in considering themselves deceivers, double-crossed by their thinking they could double-cross Allah and the believers.
...while they notice not. They do not realise that they are deceiving themselves and not Allah and the believers, for if they knew they were deceiving themselves they would not do what they think deceives others, but which really and indeed deceives themselves.
In their hearts is an illness, so Allah increases them in illness, and theirs is a painful chastisement in that they were lying.
The heart of the hypocrite is contorted, he does not wish to be firm and steady. The revelation of the ạyạt and the commissioning of the Messenger leads to an increase in their contortion, as they try to avoid the light of detection. They are liars in the sense that their inner realities contradict their outward expressions, and this is a type of lie. So, even though their words conform to reality, yet in the sense that their words express and give information about their faith, them not being believers, their speech is a lie.
When it is said to them, ‘Make not corruption in the earth,' they say, ‘Indeed we are the rectifiers.'
Hypocrisy entails corruption, since the hypocrite works against the mission, and conspires against it; and this is corruption as the mission seeks rectification and progress.
Be aware: indeed it is them, they are the corrupt; while they notice not.
By their hypocritical stance against Islam, they work a corruption that is more extensive than the corruption of the disbelievers. Thus the Most High tells us in another ạyah: ‘They are the enemy…' with the sense of exclusivity, as if they are the only enemy.
...while they notice not..That is, they are blind to all of this; they reckon that their works are good and beneficial, as if they know better than the Most High.
And when it is said to them, ‘Believe like the people believe,’ they say, ‘Are we to believe like the fools believe?' Be aware: indeed them – they are the fools; but they know not.
The hypocrites were told by a group of believers who did not fear them. They told them to believe with an honest belief free of all hypocrisy.
…they say, ‘Are we to believe like the fools believe?'... By ‘fools’ they meant the genuine believers.
…Be aware: indeed them – they are the fools;…They themselves were the fools, for what is more foolish than turning from the path of truth with the evil qualities of hypocrisy and vice.
…but they know not. They did not know that they were fools, rather they thought that their path of hypocrisy was the best of paths.
And when they meet those who believe they say, ‘We believe!', and when they closet themselves with their devils they say, ‘Indeed we are with ye, indeed we are but mockers.'
When the hypocrites came to the believers they would say they were believers, but when they were alone with their fellow hypocrites they would say they were with them – seeking to please both sides. They also said that their claiming to be believers was so as to mock the believers and belittle them. And this is the proof of their hypocrisy, for if such was not the case, and they announced disbelief out of caution (taqịyyatan), then they would have been content with their announcement and would not have added to that by ridiculing the believers.
Allah mocks them and furthers them in their transgression, wandering blindly.
Allah mocks them… That is, He does to them what a mocker would do: He subjects them in the world to the rules of faith, while in the hereafter He requites them with the requital of the disbelievers. In some traditions it is stated that He mocks them in the hereafter with the Fire.
…and furthers them in their transgression, wandering blindly. He furthers them in their transgression by not restraining them, just as it is said that a king furthers the highway robbers when he fails to eradicate them. ‘Transgression’ is given for tughyạn, meaning to transgress the boundaries, to stray and to wander. The hypocrite is like one who is in total confusion. Allah furthers them in the sense that the world is the realm of choice and examination; there is no question of it meaning compulsion.
They are those who purchase the straying for guidance; so their transaction is not profitable, and they are guided not.
They are those who purchase the straying for guidance;... The hypocrites are as if they have given up guidance, and taken in place of it the condition of being astray. Or, as if they have given themselves up to straying when it was theirs to give themselves up to guidance.
…so their transaction is not profitable,… This spiritual transaction of theirs brings them no profit, but rather they lose the capital stock itself, which is their own selves.
…and they are guided not. They are not guided in making this transaction.
What they are like is the appearance of one who kindles a fire, in that as soon as it lights up all around him, Allah takes away their light and leaves them in darkness, seeing not.
What they are like is the appearance of one who kindles a fire,… ‘Kindle’ is given for istawqada, which might mean seeking the fuel for a fire, such as firewood and suchlike. The meaning is the starting of a fire for light and warmth.
…in that as soon as it lights up all around him, Allah takes away their light and leaves them in darkness, seeing not. As soon as the fire lights up the area around him and he begins to benefit from its illumination, Allah sends a wind that puts it out. Then they no longer see what is around them. This fits the hypocrite who by his apparent faith removes from himself the road of life, yet he brightens his path, for faith is a light, and the means of man's guidance to the truth, and to justice and goodness. So when Allah takes possession of their souls He leaves them and the rest of the disbelievers in fire and chastisement, whereas Allah takes the souls of the believers to a more extensive light and a greater mercy.
Deaf, dumb, blind; so they return not.
Their ears do not benefit them with truth, and so they and the deaf are equal. They do not speak truth. and so they and the dumb are equal. And they are blind, for they do not see the truth, and so they and the blind are equal.
…so they return not. They do not return from their straying and their deviation. ‘So' is given for fa, which here implies that since they are deaf, dumb and blind no goodness can be expected of them, for, as it is said, ‘the deaf hears no request.'
Or like a rain-cloud from the sky: in it are darknessess and thunder and lightning; them putting their fingers in their ears against the thunderbolts, wary of death; and Allah is encompassing of the disbelievers.
Or like a rain-cloud from the sky:… Another metaphor about the hypocrites, the difference being that the former metaphor dealt with the condition of the hypocrite as an individual, while this one looks at the truth that envelopes the hypocrite, but from which he takes no profit. The truth that floods upon the hypocrite is like rain pouring from the skies.
…in it are darknessess… The darknesses (żulamạt) are those of the clouds and the rain, which circulates between the darkness and the earth, and the darkness of clouds upon clouds.
...thunder and lightning;… These to the extent that they are frightening.
...them putting their fingers in their ears against the thunderbolts,… In suffering from the storm, and in fear of the thunderbolts; for when thunderbolts descend their noise pierces the ears.
...wary of death;… for such sever noises can occasion a disturbance of the heart, so that a person will die. But these hypocrites who are disbelievers at heart should not suppose that they will be able to escape the severity of Allah the Most High, for
…Allah is encompassing of the disbelievers. In knowledge and power.
The lightning well-nigh snatches their sight; as soon as it lights up for them they walk in it, and when it darkens upon them they stand; and If Allah willed, He would take their hearing and their sight, indeed Allah over all things is powerful.
The lightning well-nigh snatches their sight…Those caught in this storm have their sight snatched away, indicating blindness.
…as soon as it lights up for them they walk in it,…As soon as there is a flash of lightning they walk in it, meaning that they benefit from its light and walk.
…and when it darkens upon them they stand;… When there is no lightning they stand still. …and if Allah willed, He would take their hearing… That is, by the severity of the thunderbolts that would deafen them.
…and would take their sight… Through the brightness of the lightning flashes, for powerful light leads to loss of sight.
…indeed Allah over all things is powerful. He is not prevented by a man blocking his ears with his fingers or covering his eyes so as to retain his hearing and vision.
The explanation of this metaphor apparent from the circumstances of its descent is that the rain-cloud is the truth sent down upon the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House; the lightning is the advance of the Muslims, and what illuminates the path for them – the thunder and lightning bolts – represent the warnings given by the Messengers and the frightening that is a part of the call. The one caught in such a storm in the desert is the hypocrite. The truth is like rain in which is life, yet there is also the darkness for the disbelievers of being defeated, and of loss of life, wealth and issue. It has flashes of light that illuminate the path of the blessed life, and it has thunder and thunderbolts that are the warnings of the Messenger, and his disgracing the hypocrites.
Such hypocrites will sometimes be carried along by the speed of the Muslims’ advance, for the eye weeps at the sight of what is not easy for itself. As far as all is bright for them, in that the Muslims are victorious in war and gathering plenty of spoils, they follow and obey the Messenger. But when things darken for them, in that the disbelievers defeat them, they stop and stand still where they are, neither learning nor advancing. And they fear the disgrace and humiliation of an ạyah being sent down about their circumstances, and so they place their fingers in their ears to avoid hearing it. Or they pay it no attention, so that their reaction to it may not be seen on their faces. But Allah is able to make them die, just as He is able to humiliate them, and take away their hearing and vision. So they are not in ease from their hypocrisy, as they imagine, but rather they are in the severest affliction and misfortune.
O ye the people! Worship your Master who created ye and those before ye, that ye might be guardful:
Allah created us for guardfulness (al-taqwạ) and worship, as He says, ‘And I created not the jinn and not the people save that they worship Me.' (al-Źariyạt  :57)
He who put for ye the earth as a couch, and the sky as an edifice, and sent down from the sky water, and then brought out with it from the produce a provision for ye; so put not rivals for Allah; as ye know.
He who put for ye the earth as a couch,… The earth has been made for us like a bed, a carpet or a couch, comfortable for the body and decorative.
…and the sky as an edifice,…The sky is like an edifice in that it is a level that hurls projectiles to the earth. The meaning is not that it is a building made of course materials.
and sent down from the sky water,... Here, whatis meant by ‘sky' (al-samạ.a), is the sphere above, or from that direction.
…and then brought out with it from the produce a provision for ye;… In the produce that comes out with the rain is provision for us, in that the creation and all blessings are from Allah, glorified be He.
…so put not rivals for Allah;… By ‘rivals' (andạd) is meant partners, like idols and so forth.
…as ye know. And we know that they are false, and that Allah has no partner or associate.
And if ye are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our servant, then bring a sụrah like it, and summon your witnesses other than Allah, if ye be truthful.
That is, if ye think that what Muhammad the son of ‘Abdullah has brought is not from Allah, glorified be He, then bring a single sụrah like this revelation, even a short sụrah like the sụrah ‘Qul Huwa ‘llạhu Ahad', or Sụrah al-Kawthar.
...your witnesses... It means those to testify with them that Muhammad, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, is not a Messenger.-
...other than Allah,... is given for min dụni ‘llạh, meaning whatever exists other than Allah, just as it is said that all apart from Allah is created.
...if ye be truthful. It means if ye are truthful in stating your doubt that Muhammad is not a Messenger, and that the Quran is not sent down from alongside Allah the Most High; for were Muhammad, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, not a Messenger but an ordinary person, then it would be possible to bring the like of such words.
So if ye cannot do it—and ye cannot do it—then be wary of the Fire whose fuel is the people and the stones, prepared for the disbelievers.
So if ye cannot do it—and ye cannot do it—... This portent informs that they will never be able to produce a sụrah like unto the Quran, for the Quran is a miracle, the like of which will never be reproduced.
...then be wary of the Fire whose fuel is the people and the stones,... Be guardful and wary of the consequences of your calling the Messenger of Allah and His Book false, for they are fuel for the Fire that feeds on men and stone. Perhaps by stones is meant the idols, as the Most High says,...Ye and what ye worship other than Allah are fuel for Hell...(al-Anbiyạ ‘The Prophets’ ; 99) The particular mention of stones is to effect terror, for stones do not burn away, showing that the Fire is continual. The Fire is ‘prepared for the disbelievers'; it is the consequence of belying the truth.
And give glad tidings to those who believe and do the virtuous deeds: indeed theirs are gardens, rivers flowing beneath them; whenever they are provisioned with fruits from them, they say, ‘This is what we were provisioned with beforehand;' and they are given it in semblance; and therein for them are spouses cleansed, and they are in them eternal.
And give glad tidings to those who believe and do the virtuous deeds:... The address is now to the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House:-He was to give glad tidings to those who believed in their hearts and on their tongues, and did the virtuous deeds with their bodies.
...indeed theirs are gardens, rivers flowing beneath them;... In consideration that the gardens are complexes with trees and palms, the ground is ‘beneath them'. Therefore the rivers flow beneath the gardens along the ground.
...whenever they are provisioned with fruits from them, they say, ‘This is what we were provisioned with beforehand;'... Whenever the believers are provisioned some fruit from amongst its produce, they know it on account of what they have seen in the world. Thus they are not like the people of the Fire, who will not know their food called zarị', and will not know their drink called ĥamịm.
...and they are given it in semblance;... Each portion they are provisioned with will resemble all other portions, in excellence and delight. It is not like the fruits of the world, some of them ripe, some of them unripe, some of them lovely and some of them horrible.
...and therein for them are spouses cleansed,... They will have spouses in the gardens, purified of physical defects, such as dirt and blood, and of character defects, like bad manners, bad language, jealousy and so forth.
...and they are in them eternal. There in those gardens they remain forever; they will not die and they will not be removed.
Now, as Allah has categorised the people into three groups, the believer, the hypocrite and the disbeliever, and has given a metaphor for the hypocrite, and then commanded the whole of the people to worship, and summoned them to the community of believers, and reminded them of the benefits, and presented arguments against those who denied the Prophethood, He now responds to the question asked by the disbelievers and those with them in their nit-picking, namely: why does Allah use metaphors such as here about the hypocrite, and in other sụrahs about the spider, and suchlike? Metaphors are effective in a person's heart, and bring the topic closer to the mind
Indeed Allah is not ashamed to strike some metaphor of a gnat or whatever is above it. So as for those who believe, they know that indeed it is the truth from their Master. And as for those who disbelieve, they say, ‘What is it Allah wishes with this metaphor? He leads astray by it many, and He guides by it many.' Yet He leads none astray by it but the corrupt:
Indeed Allah is not ashamed to strike some metaphor... Shame derives from ugly things and suchlike, so there is no shame in Allah's coining metaphors with small, lowly things, no matter what the metaphor. ‘Some' is given for mạ, meaning whatever.
...of a gnat or whatever is above it....Perhaps the thing mentioned is a gnat on account of that creature's being the smallest creature to be well-known and observed by all.
...So as for those who believe, they know that indeed it is the truth from their Master.... Believers know that these metaphors are the truth from their Master, glorified be He, and that they are used to explain and clarify.
...And as for those who disbelieve, they say, ‘What is it Allah wishes with this metaphor?... The disbelievers object, asking what Allah means by each metaphor, inappropriate to the glory of Allah. It is likely that the phrase,
‘...He leads astray by it many and He guides by it many...' is in answer to their objection; though the context suggests against it, for the purpose of such metaphors is not the division of the people, but explanation and understanding. In any case, only the corrupt (al-fạsiqịn) are misled by it, meaning those who depart from obedience to the Master, and from the verdict of their own intellects.
He then explains ‘the corrupt' by their clearest token, in His word:
Who break the covenant of Allah after His binding, and cut what Allah has commanded should be joined, and make corruption in the earth. Those, they are the losers.
Who break the covenant of Allah after His pact... ‘Covenant' is given for ‘ahd; ‘pact’ is given for mịthạq, meaning that which necessitates observance. Allah's pact or mịthạq is the oath He took from them in the earlier books; or it is the innate disposition (fiţrah) that He placed within them recognising the Truth.
...and cut what Allah has commanded should be joined,... That which Allah has commanded to be joined, but which they cut, are the bonds of family compassion, or the bonds of obedience to the Messenger and of brotherhood within the community.
...and make corruption in the earth.... Their corruption in the earth is their disbelief, their hypocrisy and their committing what is prohibited.
...Those, they are the losers. They are losers of their own life-times, for they spend their life in the world straightened, and their hereafter in chastisement and fire.
Allah, glorified be He, now returns to the condition of the disbeliever, and addresses him, showing the fallacy of his disbelief, with His word:
How do ye disbelieve in Allah, when ye were dead and He gave ye life, then He makes ye dead, then He gives ye life, then unto Him ye return?
How do ye disbelieve in Allah, when ye were dead... When there was no spirit in you.
...and He gave ye life,... The origin of man is earth, then he was plant, then animal and suchlike.
...then He makes ye dead, then He gives ye life,... Man eats, and produces sperm, which becomes a human, who dies and returns to earth, and then returns on the day of resurrection as a human.
...then unto Him ye return? Upon gaining this second life he returns to Him for the great judgement. The return is ‘unto Him' in the sense that it is unto His reckoning; otherwise, the human being is under Allah's authority, power and knowledge the whole time.
He it is who created for ye that in the earth, entirely, then He directed Himself to the sky and built them in seven skies, and He is of all things knowing.
Who created it other than Him? That the creation is for the human and for his benefit does not mean that all things are permissible for him. Each thing has a reckoning according to what it is, like the forbidden fish and the carnivorous animals which are for the benefit of our eyes and ears, not for us to eat.
...Then He directed Himself to... that is, He turned His attention for creating and arranging. ‘Sky' is given for samạ.i, which seems originally to have meant a sphere of orbit. So there are seven levels of planetary and stellar orbits.
...And He is of all things Knowing. Nothing is hidden from Him; the disbeliever is known to Allah and cannot hide anything from Him.
It should not remain unsaid that the creation of the earth was first, followed by the creation of the skies, and then the laying of the earth, as He says, ‘And the earth after that, We levelled it.' (al-Nạzi ‘ạt :31).
As the Most High has given the story of the creation of the heavens and the earth, so now the thread turns to those who inherited the earth, in His word:
And, when thy Master said to the angels: ‘Indeed I am putting in the earth a successor!'
They said, ‘Are Thou to put therein one who will corrupt and shed blood, while we glorify Thy praise and holify for thee?'
He said: ‘Indeed, I know what ye know not!'
And, when thy Master said to the angels:... The address is to the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, meaning: mention the time when your Master said to the angels. They were created in the ‘Highest Liquid’ (al-mạ al-a'alạ) and who are not seen but by him whom Allah wills.
‘Indeed I am putting in the earth a successor!'...‘A successor' is given for khalịfatun, meaning one who succeeds to the position of another, in that the human species has succeeded to the rank of commanding and prohibiting and of guiding.
...They said, ‘Are Thou to put therein one who will corrupt and shed blood,... The dialogue took place so as to inform the angels of underlying currents and to explain realities. Their question was exactly that, nothing but a question, by which they sought that matters be clarified for them.
Perhaps the knowledge on which they based their question was from what they knew of the sluggishness and heaviness of the earth, and that being the cause of corruption and turbulence; or it was from what they had seen of the behaviour of the jinn species beforehand. Their view was that they were sufficient – they were simply saying what an obedient servant would say to his master: ‘Indeed I serve you, so why do you bring someone else who will not serve you as well?'
...while we glorify Thy praise... ‘Glorify' is given for tasbịh; it means to declare something pure. So what is meant by glorifying His praise is declaring Him pure in a way that necessitates praise of Him, glorified be He. In contrast to this is the declaring of something pure without occasioning praise, like the declaring of a gemstone pure of faults and blemish, which does not lead to it being praised, since its purity is not on account of its own choice. In contrast, Allah's purity of action is by His will.
...and holify for Thee?' By saying that their ‘holifications' were for Him, they testified to their own sincerity and their being free of ostentation or showing-off (riyạ).
...He said.... Allah the Most High said in response to the angels who asked the cause for His empowering man to succeed Him.
...‘Indeed, I know what ye know not!' In the empowering of man and his succeeding to the earth is a matter more important than the corruption men cause, just as man's succeeding to it is more important than the angels succeeding to it, for amongst the people are the elect and the righteous who will not be gripped by the baser realm. That, in addition to which man from the point of view of the complexity of his creation is a new type of being.
When Allah the Most High wished to inform the angels of some of man's particularities, and that he is of a higher material than the angels, He taught Ạdam things that Ạdam could understand and digest, but which were beyond the angels. Then He, the Most High, addressed the angels and asked them if they could bear the same, and their inability became clear. And when they saw Ạdam's capacity and ability they acknowledged the difference and Ạdam's successorship or khilạfah. Their position was like the person who has a servant who is unable to build a beautiful house, and so hires a builder. The servant says to the master, ‘Why do you need someone else when you have me?' The master says to him, ‘I know what you do not know.' He then hires the builder, and explains what he wants of the house. The builder is able to build the house, and the servant sees that he was unable to meet his master's wishes. Thus he acknowledges his incapacity, and that the master knew more than he knew when he overlooked him for the builder:
And He taught Ạdam the names, all of them; thereupon He presented ‘them’ to the angels and said: ‘Inform Me of the names of ‘these’, if ye be truthful.'
And He taught Ạdam the names, all of them;... Allah taught Ạdam the names of things, necessitating His teaching him about the named things themselves. For when you teach a person the names of Zaid and Bakr, for example, it is necessary that those two persons themselves be known to him. Thus He says,
...thereupon He presented ‘them’ to the angels and said,... Here the pronoun form used for ‘them' is hum, normally used for intelligent beings, in contrast to ‘all of them’ where the pronoun is hạ..
...’Inform Me of the names of ‘these’...
...if ye be Me truthful!’: That is, if your words accord to the actuality, and ye are sufficient for successorship. Perhaps the teaching of Ạdam was by inspiration (ilhạm) and the creation of knowledge within him for which he was capable, unlike the angels who were not capable of this knowledge and inspiration. Then there would be no room to ask why Allah did not teach the angels.
They said; ‘Glory be Thine; we have no knowledge but what Thou have taught us; indeed Thou are the Knowing, the Wise.'
They exclaimed Allah's purity from all kinds of ugliness and futility, and they acknowledged that they had not the knowledge which Ạdam had and for which he was suitable, and they acknowledged their own unsuitability for that knowledge. The Wise (al-Ĥakịm) is one who does things with wisdom, meaning the placing of things in their proper places.
He said, ‘O Ạdam, inform them of ‘their’ names!' Then, when he had informed them of ‘their’ names, He said, ‘Did I not say to ye that I know the unseen of the skies and the earth? And I know what ye manifest and what ye conceal.'
He said, ‘O Ạdam, inform them of their names!'... Ạdam was to inform the angels of the names of those intelligent beings who had been presented to the angels. Here again the pronoun used is hum.
...Then, when he had informed them of ‘their’ names, He said, ‘Did I not say to ye that I know the unseen of the skies and the earth? And I know what ye manifest and what ye conceal.' When he had done so, the angels realised that Ạdam's capacities were above their own. Allah then reminded them that He knows what is concealed from their perceptions, and that He knows what they are ready to show, as well as what some of them – the devil – were hiding: jealousy of Ạdam, with him be peace.
It is a necessity of His universal kindness and all-encompassing mercy, that Allah the Most High create varieties of beings with different capacities, and there is no reason to stand against such creation. Thus the angels were created lower than man, and of both categories some were created higher than others. Accordingly, there is no place for the question ‘why did Allah not place this human capacity in the angels, but instead created Ạdam, upon whom be peace.'
And when We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate to Ạdam!'
They prostrated but for Iblịs; he refused and was haughty and was among the disbelievers.
And when We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate to Ạdam!'... Either their prostration was with Ạdam in front of them, but for the sake of Allah, glorified be He, or it was for the sake of Ạdam. There is no rational proof that prostration is not permitted for other than Allah, though the legislation (shar') confirms this with respect to the Muslims.
...They prostrated but for Iblịs; he refused and was haughty and was among the disbelievers. Iblịs is the devil. He refused from pride and arrogance, but previously was not a disbeliever.
And We said, ‘O Ạdam, dwell thou and thy spouse in the garden, and eat of it agreeably as you will. And approach not this plant, for you will be among the wrongful.
And We said, ‘O Ạdam, dwell thou and thy spouse in the Garden,... Ạdam's spouse was Hawạ (Eve), bliss be upon her. This was said to them after Hawạ's creation, which, like that of Ạdam, was a direct creation without father or mother. The garden was exactly that, belonging to Allah and inhabited by Ạdam and Hawạ.
...and eat of it agreeably as you will.... They were to eat plentifully, without trouble, from anywhere within the garden.
...And approach not this plant,... They were prohibited from a single plant, or tree, as a test and examination. That plant, according to reports, was the wheat plant. The prohibition was one of guidance, like the physician who prohibits his patient from certain things, in that they will harm him. The benefit of their not eating from that plant was that they would stay in that garden, as He the Most High says,...Indeed it is that thou shall not hunger therein and not go unclothed, and that thou shall not thirst therein nor suffer the heat of the sun... (Ţạ Hạ ;118-9).
...for you will be among the wrongful. ‘Wrongful’ is given for al-żạlimịn: When a person denies himself goodness he does himself wrong, for injustice or wrong-doing (al-żulm) means to place a thing other than in its place, just as justice (al-'adl) is to place a thing in its place.
So the devil made them stumble from it, and made them depart from what they were in; and We said: ‘Go down, some of ye enemies to others; and for ye in the earth is a settlement and enjoyment for a while.'
So the devil made them stumble from it, and made them depart from what they were in;... The devil conveyed Ạdam and Hawạ from the garden through their slip, for he led them to eat of the plant. They were in delights, from which he led them to depart.
...and We said: ‘Go down... The address is to Ạdam, Hawạ and the shaytạn. The descent was either real, if the descent was from a higher to a lower place, or it was a matter of rank and station.
...some of ye enemies to others;... The devil was an enemy to the two of them, and they were his enemy.
...and for ye in the earth is a settlement and enjoyment for a while.' until the end of the world; or until the death of each of them.
Because Ạdam committed the first mistake by eating from the plant, and Allah had sent him down, he was embraced by mercy:
Then Ạdam received from His Master some words; so He relented to Him, indeed He is the Oft-Relenting, the Merciful.
Then Ạdam received from His Master some words;... That is, Ạdam took some words by which he repented and returned from his lapse. This took place by Allah's teaching him to run them across his tongue, which he did.
...so He relented to Him,... Allah turned to Ạdam in forgiveness.
...He is the Oft-Relenting, the Merciful.It means He often turns to accept repentance,-and He is merciful to His servants.
We said, ‘Go down from it, all of ye; so if there surely comes to ye from Me some guidance, then whoso follows My guidance – no fear is upon them and nor do they sorrow.
We said, ‘Go down from it, all of ye;...The command to go down is repeated in preparation for another topic—the topic of guidance—after the earlier mention of settlement and enjoyment; just as it might be said, ‘I told him, "Go, you will profit!" and I told him "Go, you will be safe!"'
...so if there surely comes to ye... The pronoun is plural (kum), signifying that the address is to the human species in the loins of Ạdam.
...guidance,... Such that will guide ye to the truth. There is no harm in an address being made to what does not yet exist, since the intention is for that address to reach them once they exist; and this is to overlook the shadow world (‘ạlam al–źarr). Similarly, there is no reason why the conditional put as ‘if' should not be used with the emphatic expressed as ‘surely'. The meaning is: if there should come to you a coming that is certain, as opposed to a coming that is supposed.
...then whoso follows My guidance – no fear is upon them... In the world or in the hereafter,
...and nor do they sorrow.' True or complete fear is from an undesirable thing that will not be recompensed. And the same is true of sorrow. The disasters and afflictions of the believers are recompensed; so they have no true or complete fear of them. The difference between fear and sorrow is that fear is felt with regard to something that is yet to take place, while sorrow is usually felt with regard to something that has already happened.
‘While those who disbelieve and belie Our portents – those are the companions of the Fire; they are in it eternal.’
‘While those who disbelieve and belie Our portents... Those who do not believe after the completion for them of the proof. Perhaps the secret of His words ‘belie' after ‘disbelieve' is that disbelief does not of itself necessitate belying, when it is due to slackness.
...– those are the companions of the Fire, they are in it eternal. ‘They are ... eternal’ is given for khạlidụn. But let it be clear that the obstinate wrongdoer is in the Fire eternally, while others are tried therein.
Now that the Bountiful Quran has completed the story of Ạdam and his successorship of the earth, the discourse turns to the tribe of Israel. They are a pattern for the human species, and certainly many Prophets came to them, Prophets of guidance, and Allah blessed and favoured them. But they disbelieved in the favours, and killed the Prophets. So they are an abstract for the story of Ạdam, and a lesson for the nation of Muhammad, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House:
O sons of Israel! Recall My blessing with which I blessed ye; and fulfil My covenant, I will fulfil your covenant; and of Me be in dread.
O sons of Israel!... The ‘sons of Israel' are the Jews. Israel is a name of the Messenger Ya'qụb, bliss be upon him. Thus they are addressed by their relationship with their most senior ancestor, just as mankind is addressed in the terms of their relation to their most senior ancestor, in His word, ‘O sons of Ạdam!'
...Recount My blessing with which I blessed ye':... No particular blessing is mentioned and so every kind of blessing is meant, both physical and spiritual.
...and fulfil My covenant,... Again, no particular covenant is given and so every covenant is meant, whether it is the covenant taken from them by Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, that they would believe in the Messenger (Muhammad), may Allah condescend upon him and his House; or whether it is what was taken from them in the shadow world (‘ạlam al–źarr), after which the force of human nature (al-fitrah) was placed within them to remind them.
...I will fulfil your covenant...: that He will grant them the world and the hereafter; for indeed Allah, glorified be He, has guaranteed to those who fulfil His covenant that He will give life to their world and their hereafter.
...And of Me be in dread.' Fear should be of Allah, glorified be He, and not of people.
And believe in that I have sent down, confirming what is with ye, and be not the first disbeliever in it; and sell not My portents for a small price, and of Me be guardful.
And believe in what I have sent down,... The Quran.
...confirming what is with ye,... The Torah, for even in the days of the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, the original Torah was confirmed by the Quran; except what had been deleted from it, and deletions do not invalidate.
...and be not the first disbeliever in it;... That is, do not be the first to disbelieve in what is sent down. And they were the primary disbeliever, for on account of their knowledge the ignorant listened to them and followed them, and so the ignorant disbelievers were at a lower level.
...and sell not My portents for a small price,... Do not give up My portents and refuse to believe in them in return for a small price, which is worldly leadership, when it is clear from the world's being finite that this is a small price.
...and of Me be guardful. ‘Guardfulness’ is given for taqwạ, which is to be of Him, the Most High, and not of any other, for Allah has profit and loss in His hands alone.
And dress not the truth in falsehood: ye conceal the truth while ye know!
To dress the truth is to mix it, so the portent means: do not mix the truth with falsehood. For they would take some of the Torah which suited them, and would cast off some of it which did not suit them, like the glad tidings of the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House.
And establish the prayer and pay the zakạt, and bow with the bowers.
That is, perform these duties as Islam requires, and bow with those who bow, who are the Muslims.
Call ye the people to righteousness while ye forget your own selves? While ye recite the book! Will ye not reason?
The question is a prohibition, meaning do not command the people to do good while not doing it yourselves. Such forgetfulness is condemned like not acting, as it has the same result. Thus Allah says, ‘They forget Allah and so We forget them.' (al-Tawba :68)
...While ye recite the book!... The Jews opposed the commands of the Torah, taking bribes and working corruption and belying the truth. And yet they recited their book, and should therefore have been the first to implement it.
...Will ye not reason? ‘Reason' is given for ta'qilụn, meaning: do you not know how ugly is what you do?
And seek help by restraint and the prayer; and indeed it is huge, save upon the humble:
And seek help by restraint... That is: seek help in turning from your religion and your dismissing your leaders—for in doing so some of your worldly interests would be negated—through constraint. For constraining and enduring what was hard for them in following the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, would return to them a condition far better than that they were in.
...and the prayer;... The prayer calms a person, and gives confidence, as He says, ‘Be aware: only by the remembrance of Allah do the hearts find security.' (13:29)
...and indeed it is huge, save upon the humble:... Seeking help through constraint and prayer is great or difficult (kabịr), for constraint is no trifle and the prayer fully performed is not an easy deed. We have given the condition of the prayer perfectly performed because it is the prayer perfectly performed by which help is sought. Or the meaning may be the five daily prayers, for they are extremely difficult, except for those who fear Allah, glorified be He.
‘The humble' are then clarified in His word:
Who suppose that indeed they meet their Master, and that indeed they are to Him returners.
‘Suppose' is given for żann, meaning either certainty, or supposition. Perhaps the reason behind this phrase is that the slightest level of supposing gives rise to fear. He who supposes that he is to meet a king will fuss about his preparations, so what of him who supposes he is to meet the Owner of kings. Meeting Allah refers to being present at His reckoning, for Allah is as near to man in the world as He is in the hereafter. Similarly, man's ‘return’ to Him is ideational, as has been given.
O sons of Israel, recall my blessing with which I blessed ye, and that I distinguished ye above the worlds!
O sons of Israel, recall my blessing with which I blessed ye,... This repetition is for emphasis and to ram the point home, for man is sometimes inattentive at the first mention, and so the point is mentioned for a second and a third time. Moreover, the heart or spirit is such that when it is repeatedly admonished the admonishment can take root.
...and that I distinguished ye above the worlds! They were ‘distinguished above the worlds' during their own time, but not all the worlds of all times, for the apparent meaning of distinction (tafžịl) is to be chosen. So if it is said that a certain government is the strongest of governments, it would mean that that government was stronger than all other contemporary governments, but not stronger than all governments, those of the past and those of the future.
Their distinction over the worlds was on account of their faith in Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, since the world was either stubbornly opposed to him, like the Pharaoh and his followers, or totally ignorant like those who lived in distant areas, and whom the message of Mụsạ never reached, and who were therefore not at fault.
And beware the day no spirit will recompense a spirit for a thing, and nor will mediation be accepted from it, and nor will an equivalent be taken from it, and nor will they be succoured.
‘Recompense’ is given for tajzị, meaning, here, to enrich or benefit. No soul will be able to ward off harm from another, for the issue will be entirely for Allah, and even mediation will be by His permission. The day meant is the day of resurrection; to beware of it is to prepare for it. No mediation will be permitted that day from any soul but with Allah's permission, nor will ransom be accepted, and nor will any rescuer appear. ‘equivalent’ is given for ‘adlun, an equivalent, meaning here a ransom, and a ransom is called ‘an equivalent’ as it is equivalent to the ransomee.
These are the four ways of release from difficulties in the world, but none of them have any place in the hereafter, except when Allah gives permission for mediation. No exception is given here with regard to mediation because what is meant is off-hand or off-the-cuff mediation, that takes place without thought and deliberation, as is usual in the world.
And, when We saved ye from the House of Pharoah – they were imposing upon ye an evil chastisement: slaughtering your sons and keeping alive your women; and in that from your Master was a mighty trial.
It means ‘And remember the blessing with which We blessed you when We saved you from the house of Pharaoh.' ‘House’ is given for ạl, meaning a man's people or nation, and those particular to him, even though there may be no family tie. Thus the household of the Messenger, bliss be upon them, are called the ‘House of Allah' (Ạl Allah). It is normal to attribute to the whole of a group something related to some of that group, when kindness, guidance and deliverance covered them all. And so it is said, for example, that the tribe of Bani Tamịm murdered so an so, when it was some of them who did it. Thus Allah the Most High says, ‘We saved ye', when those saved were their ancestors.
...imposing on ye an evil chastisement:... ‘Imposing on ye' is given for yasụmụnakum, meaning that they debased and humiliated them through hurling them into ‘an evil chastisement' (sụ.a ‘l-'azạb). This evil chastisement is then clarified in His word:
...massacring your sons.... ‘Massacring' is given for taźbịĥ, meaning much slaughtering.
...and keeping alive your women.... The Pharaoh, whenever informed by the midwives that amongst the sons of Israel – who were a particular group amongst the followers of Ya'qụb, bliss be upon him – a child was born, would order that if a boy it was to be slaughtered, and if a girl it was to be left alive for slavery and sexual exploitation.
...and in that... In that terrible chastisement.
...from your Master was a mighty trial. The trial is attributed to Allah the Most High as He did not come between Pharaoh and those actions; just as it is said that a father corrupts his son, when he fails to come between him and the cause of his corruption. Allah did not prevent the Pharaoh and his folk on account of it being a test and examination, as has been stated.
The salvation mentioned was the destruction of Pharaoh and his people:
And, when We divided the sea for ye; We saved ye and We drowned the House of Pharoah while ye were watching.
And, when We divided the sea for ye...:That is: ‘And remember, O sons of Israel, when We divided the sea for ye.’ Allah the Most High made a space in the sea, so that there became a walkway through the water; and this was done because of them and for their sake. The sea mentioned is the Red Sea in Egypt, and the distance cleared of water was almost four farạsikh [or about 60 miles. tr].
...We saved ye and We drowned the House of Pharoah while ye were watching. Mụsạ, upon whom be peace, and the sons of Israel were fleeing from the Pharaoh when they came to the sea, with the Pharaoh and his horde behind them. So Allah commanded Mụsạ to strike the sea with his staff; he struck it and the water was removed from the pathway, so that the sons of Israel crossed over, with the Pharaoh and his troops behind them. When these had reached the middle of it, and Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, and his people had left it, the waters returned to their original condition, and the Pharaoh and his people were drowned. The sons of Israel were saved from their enemies, and the Pharaoh's horde were drowned, along with the Pharaoh, who is included in the mention of his House (ạl). And they saw how their enemies were drowned for their sake.
Let it be said here that such miracles are easy for Allah, glorified be He, and for them to be explained away as they are by some of us, is nothing more than the digesting of western material.
And, when We bonded Mụsạ for forty nights; thereupon ye took the calf after him, and ye were wrongful.
And, when We bonded Mụsạ for forty nights;... That is: ‘And remember, O sons of Israel, when We bonded Mụsạ’ The term ‘We bonded' is given for wạ'adnạ, implying that He the Most High bound to undertake and Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, accepted. And there is no discord between this being given here as forty nights, and it being given in another ạyah as thirty; for this ạyah relates to the two pacts, while the other ạyah refers to the first. For Allah the glorified at first pacted with Mụsạ for thirty, then He extended him and added ten. The bond was made in order to bestow the Torah, in which were the laws of Allah, and arrangements for the affairs of the sons of Israel. This was a great blessing.
...thereupon ye took the calf after him... This took place when Mụsạ had gone to Mt Tụr for the pact; for when Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, had gone to the appointment with his Master, they constructed a calf out of gold and made it their god and prostrated for it. That is how they met Allah's blessings upon them, with ingratitude and worship of the calf.
...ye being wrongful. They were wrongful in that they wronged themselves.
Then We pardoned ye after that, that ye might be thankful.
Allah forgave them their worship of the calf, that they might be thankful, and act according to His commands.
And, when We gave Mụsạ the book and the criterion, that ye might be guided.
That is: ‘And remember, O sons of Israel, when We gave Mụsạ the book and the criterion.’ The book was the Torah. ‘The criterion' is given for al–furqạn, meaning that which distinguishes between truth and falsehood; and it is more important than the book.
And, when Mụsạ said to his tribe: ‘O my tribe, indeed ye have wronged yourselves by your taking the calf, so repent to your Originator and kill yourselves; that is better for ye with your Originator.'
So He relented to ye; indeed He is the Oft-Relenting, the Merciful.
And, when Mụsạ said to his tribe: ‘O my tribe, indeed ye have wronged yourselves by your taking the calf,... This was after their worshipping the calf during his absence at Tụr to receive the Torah and the commands from Allah, glorified be He. They took the calf as a god, which was a cause of anger and of shame, in the world and in the hereafter. So they were told to turn in repentance to their Originator (Bạri.i), He who originated them and created them, who is Allah.
...so repent to your Originator and kill yourselves;... They were told to kill themselves, some others, in that those who had not worshipped the calf were to kill those who had worshipped it, even if they were closely related. For the killers this was the penance for their sin of remaining silent and not speaking out, and for the killed it was for their sin of worshipping the calf.
...so repent to your Originator and kill yourselves;... This killing was better for themselves, for a little pain is better than the chastisement of the eternal fire.
...with your Originator.... It means with Allah the Most High, in His rule and His will. This is in contrast to the view of what is best amongst people, which is to live long in the world.
...So He relented to ye;... After their having heard the command to repent to Him, and for some of them to kill others. It means that He turned to them and relented before they turned in repentance to Him.
...indeed He is the Oft-Relenting, the Merciful. To them He was Oft-Relenting, Merciful, for He did not anger to the extent of never accepting their repentance.
And, when ye said, ‘O Mụsạ, we will never believe in thee until we see Allah openly'; so the bolt took ye, while ye were watching.
And, when ye said, ‘O Mụsạ, we will never believe in thee... That is: ‘And remember, O sons of Israel, when ye said, ‘O Mụsạ, we will never believe in thee...’ They refused to believe Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, in that they had a God who created them and in whose hands were their affairs; or in that he was a Prophet dispatched by Allah, glorified be He.
...until we see Allah openly,,' That is, with their own eyes. Mụsạ had chosen seventy men from among his people to accompany him to the appointment [on the mountain]. This was according to the request of the sons of Israel. When they arrived they requested to be shown Allah, the Most High.
...so the bolt took ye... It was fire sent down from the sky; or it was a molten substance of ore and suchlike. It struck them and killed them. No sooner had they requested to see Allah, the Most High, when the bolt rained on them from the sky and killed them all.
...while ye were watching. They saw it descending, the cause of their deaths, and they realised it was a proof for them of their sin and their error. It was not a death with an unknown cause that could be put down to natural causes.
Thereupon We raised ye after your deaths, that ye might be thankful.
Thereupon We raised ye... That is, Allah the Most High revived them, because Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, requested it, so that the remainder of the tribe would not say that Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, had killed them at Tụr.
...after your deaths... It means after their deaths from the bolt from the sky.
.....that ye might be thankful... That is, for Allah's blessings upon them.
And, We shaded over ye the cloud, and sent down upon ye manna and quails: ‘Eat of the wholesomenesses with which We provision ye!' And they wronged Us not, but rather they wronged themselves.
And... That is: And remember, O sons of Israel, when you were in the wilderness, and you were commanded to make war on the Malechites but you disobeyed, and so you remained for a long time in the desert, troubled by the sun and with nothing to eat.
...We shaded over ye the cloud... By making it cover them to protect them from the heat of the sun and the cold of the moon.
...and sent down upon ye manna and quails... ‘Manna’ (al-mann) was something resembling a citrus fruit, sweet, that was placed upon their plants and which they ate. Quails are small birds. They were sent down in the sense that quails were plentiful there at that time, and so they hunted them; or it was that walking birds were sent down to them. Then it was said to them,
...‘Eat of the wholesomenesses with which We provision ye!'... That which they were provisioned was pleasant in taste, and pleasant in being lawful (halạl). But they rejected it after all these blessings. Allah did not wrong them, giving them reason to be ungrateful, but rather they wronged themselves, and left themselves a legacy of shame in the world and in the hereafter.
And, when We said, ‘Enter this city, and eat of it as ye like, agreeably, and enter the gate submissively, saying "Mitigation!"
‘We shall forgive ye your errors, and increase the beautifiers.'
And, when We said,... That is: ‘And remember, O sons of Israel, when Allah said, after you had left the wilderness:
...‘Enter this city... It was either Jerusalem of Iriyha, a city near Jerusalem.
...and enter the gate submissively, saying "Mitigation!"... They were to enter the gate of the city while in prostration, saying ‘Mitigation' (huttah), meaning ‘our prostrating ourselves is for Allah in mitigation of our sins, and so as to be pardoned our evils.'
...‘We shall forgive ye your errors, and increase the beautifiers. That is: ‘If you do this, I will forgive ye your errors past, and those of ye who work beauty will receive an increase in goodness both in the world and in the hereafter, according to what they deserve; as He says in His word, ‘He certainly pays their wage, and increases them in His profusion.' (35:31)
So those who wronged substituted a word other than that said to them; therefore We sent down on those who wronged a contamination from the sky, for their being perverse.
They said ‘Red wheat is better for us' (ĥuntatun hamrạ-un khayra lanạ) instead of ‘Mitigation' (ĥuttah). They also entered the city on their backsides, rather than in prostration. A chastisement was sent down upon them, on account of their disobedience.
And when Mụsạ sought water for his tribe, We said ‘Strike your staff on the rock!'
So twelve springs gushed out from it; each tribe knew its watering-place:
‘Eat and drink of the provision of Allah, and make not mischief in the earth, making corruption.'
And when Mụsạ sought water for his tribe,... That is: ‘And remember, O sons of Israel, when Mụsạ sought water...’ This took place while they were in the wilderness and there was no water for them, and they thirsted. Mụsạ asked Allah the Most High for water for his people.
...We said ‘Strike your staff on the rock!'... He was commanded to strike the rock with his staff. It was the same staff that had turned into a snake. The rock was either a particular rock, or any rock.
...So twelve springs gushed out from it; each clan knew its watering-place.... Upon Mụsạ's striking the rock twelve springs gushed from it, equal to the number of branches of the tribe of Israel, for they were twelve sub-tribes; and each of these clans had their own spring.
...’Eat and drink of the provision of Allah,... Their food was the manna and the quails, while their drink was the water gushing from the spring.
...and make not mischief in the earth, making corruption.' They were not to work mischief and corruption in the earth.
And, when ye said, ‘O Mụsạ, we cannot endure one food, so call for us thy Master to bring out for us what grows in the earth: its greens, its cucumbers, its corns, its lentils, its onions!'
He said, ‘Would ye substitute what is lower for what is better? Go down to a civilization—there for ye is what ye ask!'
And we stamped shame and poverty upon them, and they brought back rage from Allah. That, for indeed they disbelieved in the portents of Allah and killed the Messengers without right; that, for indeed they disobeyed and were violators.
The request for different food was made while they were in the wilderness, and manna and quails were being sent down for them. Though these are two, yet because they were eating the same food everyday they saw it as one food. Theywanted Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, to pray to Allah on their behalf, to bring out for them the plants of the earth, which they could eat and be nourished by, in place of the manna and quails.
...He said, ‘Would ye substitute what is lower for what is better?... Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, replied, asking them whether they sought to reject the superior goodness Allah had chosen for them, for the inferior things they desired. The measure of their being superior and inferior, was either that of ease and difficulty, that of flavour and tastiness, or that of nourishment. Whatever the case, Mụsạ called and Allah answered his call, and said,
...‘Go down to a civilization, there for ye is what ye ask!'... ‘Civilization' is given for misr, meaning a large city or metropolis.
...And we stamped shame and poverty upon them,... After that the Jews, on account of their mutiny, their disobedience and their continual obstinacy, were stamped with shame and poverty. Shame, for they are humiliated throughout the earth, without an independent government, and they have no dignity among people. And poverty, for even when of a time they have wealth, still they remain confused by their fear of poverty.
And this portent is one of the Quran's many miracles, for the Jews have not had a government from the time of the Quran until the present day, but with the protection and support of a powerful government.
...and they brought back rage from Allah.... ‘Brought back' is given for bạ-ụ; the meaning is that because of their evil deeds they brought Allah's wrath upon themselves.
...That,... It means the shame, the poverty and the anger of Allah.
...for indeed they disbelieved in the portents of Allah... They brought it upon themselves by their disbelieving in the ạyạt of Allah, that is to say, His portents and communications sent down upon Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, for they were not obedient.
...and killed the Prophets... One after the other Prophets came to them due to their overwhelming obstinacy; and then they killed them.
...without right... Unjustly. The meaning is that it is never right to kill a Prophet; the sense differs from when it is said that a person was killed without right.
...that, for indeed they disobeyed and were violators. Their ingratitude and their killing the Prophets was caused by their disobeying the commands of reason and the law. Their disobedience and their transgression became the cause of murder and disbelief, just as they were the cause of humiliation, poverty and anger.
Indeed those who believe and those Judaised and the Christians and the Sabaeans – whoso believes in Allah and the last day and does the virtuous deeds, theirs is their wage alongside their Master, no fear is upon them, and nor do they sorrow.
Indeed those who believe and those Judaised and the Christians and the Sabaeans – That is, the Muslims, and those who became Jews by accepting Judaism, and those who believed in ‘Ịsạ, or Jesus, bliss be upon him, and the Sabaeans, about whom there is disagreement, though it is said that they were the worshippers of the stars.
...whoso believes in Allah and the last day and does the virtuous deeds, theirs is their wage alongside their Master,... Those who have real belief in Allah and in the last day and act righteously, according to what has been commanded by Allah, glorified be He, are sure of their wage or recompense.
...no fear is upon them, and nor do they sorrow. They are not subject to fear or sorrow—as has been previously clarified— neither in the world nor in the hereafter. So none should despair of the spirit of Allah as long as they are in the world.
We have put the proviso of real belief, so that there be no disparity with the first clause of ‘those who believe.'
And, when We took your pact and We elevated the Tụr above ye: ‘Take with strength what We give ye, and recall what is in it, that ye might be guardful.
And, when We took your pact... That is: And remember, O sons of Israel, when We took your solemn promise. ‘Pact' is given for mịthạq, here meaning a firm covenant. The account of where this was taken from them has been given.
...We elevated the Tụr above ye...: What happened was that when Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, returned to them with the Torah they refused to accept it. So Jibrạ-ịl, bliss be upon him, cut off a segment of Mt Tụr and raised it above their heads, threatening them that if they did not accept the Torah he would hurl it upon their heads. So they accepted the Torah unwillingly. Then Allah the Most High said to them:
...‘Take with strength what We give ye,... It meant that they should take hold of it with firmness and determination and power, and should not begrudge their taking it.
...and remember what is in it. They were to ‘remember what is in it', meaning to be mindful of it and to act according to it; all in order that:
...that ye might be guardful That is, that they might fear, for he who implements the commands of Allah the glorified is he who fears and is guardful of Him, glorified be He.
Thereupon ye swerved after that, so were it not for the profusion of Allah upon ye and His mercy, ye truly would have been of the losers.
...Thereupon ye swerved after that,... That is: after this firm covenant you swerved aside, O Jews, and you did not act according to the Torah, and you did not implement the Divine decrees.
...so were it not for the profusion of Allah upon ye... The profusion of Allah was His granting them repentance;
...and His mercy, ye truly would have been of the losers. And He was merciful to them, and did not take them for the evil of their deeds. Otherwise they would certainly have been losers in the world and in the hereafter, for he who is stripped of faith is the worst loser of all.
And ye certainly knew those of ye who violated the sabbath; so We said to them, ‘Be apes, outcast.'
It was forbidden for them to hunt for fish on the sabbath, and so on that day the fish would come and gather due to their awareness that on that day they were safe. And so the Jews devised a stratagem to catch them by connecting the water to their pools, and when the fish came on the sabbath they barred their return passage to the sea. Then they would catch them on the following day. This was a breach of Allah's prohibition.
...So We said to them... That is, to the violators,
..."Be apes,... Those who perpetuated this breach were turned into apes.
...outcast.' They were exiled from the goodness of the world and the hereafter. From that the Jews who witnessed the transformation of the transgressors amongst them, saw how they acted against the commands of Allah, exalted be He.
So We made it an example for those with them and those after them, and an admonishment for the guardful.
That transformation and the final ending of those transgressors was set up as an instructive warning and example (nikạl) for those of the Jews and other nations who were contemporary to it, and for those after them who came later and heard about it from them. Or perhaps the meaning of nikạl here is punishment, giving the sense that the transformation was a punishment for their disobedience prior to the transformation, namely, the violation of the sabbath, and that committed after the violation of the sabbath.
...and an admonishment for the guardful. The affair was made ‘an admonishment' (maw‘iżatan) for the guardful,' so that they refrain from disobeying the command of Allah, glorified be He.
And, when Mụsạ said to his tribe, ‘Indeed Allah commands ye to slaughter a cow!'
They said, ‘Do thou take us for a laughingstock?'
He said. ‘I shelter in Allah that I be of the ignorant!'.
...And,... That is: ‘And remember, O sons of Israel, the story of the cow, when they found a corpse and did not know the identity of the killer. So they turned to Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, and then Allah commanded them to slaughter a cow, and then strike the corpse with the dead cow so as to revive the slain, who would then reveal the identity of his murderer. This was another test of their faith, in that the striking of a corpse with dead flesh and thereby bringing it back to life is something that those whose faith is weak cannot confirm. And so they put to Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, their petty questions about the type of cow that was required.
...when Mụsạ said to his tribe, ‘Indeed Allah commands ye to slaughter a cow!'... Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, told his tribe, the sons of Israel, that Allah commanded them to kill a cow.
...They said, ‘Do thou take us for a laughingstock?'... They asked if he was making a laughingstock of them, for what is the relation between a murder victim and the slaughter of a cow? Or, how would a dead cow give life to a corpse?
...He said. ‘I shelter in Allah that I be of the ignorant!'. Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, said this because it is the ignorant who mock people; mockery and derision being at the level of the ignorant and the foolish.
They said, ‘Call thy Master for us that He clarify what it is!'
He said, ‘Indeed He says it is a cow neither old nor young, middling between that; so do as ye are commanded!'
At first they asked Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, to pray and ask on their behalf what kind of a cow it was, with regard to its age. Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, answered them that He, the Most High, said that it must be neither very old nor very young, but middling in age between these two extremes. He then told them to get on with the slaughter of such a cow.
They said, ‘Call thy Master for us that He clarify for us its colour!'
He said, ‘Indeed He says It is a yellow cow; bright is its colour, gladdening the beholders.’
They then asked Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, to pray and ask on their behalf what colour the cow they were to slaughter was to be. Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, replied that the Most High said it was to be yellow in colour; its colour bright and delightful to the eye.
They said, ‘Call thy Master for us that He clarity for us what it is, indeed cows are all similar to us. And indeed, if Allah wills, we surely shall be guided.'
They said,... After the age and colour of the cow was made clear for them, they asked further details:
...’Call thy Master that He clarify for us what it is... That is, whether it was a working cow or whether it was one that grazed freely, and did not work.
...indeed cows are all similar to us.... That is, they all resemble each other, and they thought to ask exactly how it should be.
...if Allah wills, we surely shall be guided.' That is, they would be guided to the qualities of the cow by the description given by Allah, glorified be He.
From a tradition from the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House: Because they were severe on themselves, Allah was severe on them – had they not sought exclusions, nothing further would have been asked of them.
He said, ‘Indeed He says it is a cow not lowly ploughing the earth and not watering the tilth, sound, with no blemish in her.’
They said, ‘Now thou have brought the truth!'
And so they slaughtered her, though they well-nigh did it not.
He said, ‘Indeed He says it is a cow not lowly ploughing the earth and nor watering the tilth,... Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, told them that the Most High said that the cow they should slaughter had never been brought low by work, neither ploughing the land nor watering the cultivation with yoke and bucket. It was not a working cow at all.
...sound, with no blemish in her.’...-‘Sound' is given for mụsạllamah, implying that it was both whole and healthy without any defects. ‘Blemish' is given for shiyah, meaning blotch, spot, blemish or perhaps mark or brand. It means that it had no patch of colour other than its given colour. This is not an emphasis of what preceded, for its being yellow would not prevent it from having a blotch of some other colour about it somewhere.
...They said, ‘Now... That is, after all the clarifications of the type of cow required,
...thou have brought the truth.’... That is, the clear truth. Or it may mean the full, proper truth as opposed to the brief truth of the command to ‘slaughter a cow.'
...and so they slaughtered her,... Finally they slaughtered the cow as they had been commanded.
...though they well-nigh did it not.' They almost disobeyed, on account of the cow’s high price, for when they had limited the affair to a single cow the owner would not sell it except for an outrageous price.
And, when ye slew a life and disputed about it, Allah brought out what ye were hiding.
And remember, O sons of Israel, when you murdered a man and disputed about it. ‘Life’ is given for nafs.
...Allah brought out what ye were hiding. That is, who ordered the killing, who did it, and why that person was killed.
For We said, ‘Strike him with some of it.'
Just so Allah gives life to the dead; and He shows ye His portents, that ye might reason.
For We said, ‘Strike him with some of it.'... They were ordered to strike the dead body with a part of the slaughtered cow they had been commanded to slaughter.
...Just so... It is given for kaźạlika. It means ‘like this raising of the murder victim, Allah raises the dead on the day of resurrection.
...Allah gives life to the dead;...-Upon being struck by a part of the cow, the murder victim rose up alive, blood streaming from his arteries, and told why he was killed and who had killed him.
...and He shows you His portents... In the creation and within yourselves. Perhaps it means that He showed them His miracles.
...that ye might reason. That is, for you to use your intellects (‘uqụl).
Perhaps the reason for these last two portents following those before them, when strictly the narrative requires them to precede them, is that the main thread of the discourse is the obstinacy of the Jews, and their failing to obey the commands, so that what highlighted this topic was required to come first.
Thereupon your hearts hardened after that, so they are like the rocks or more extreme in hardness; for indeed among the rocks is truly that from which rivers gush, and indeed among them is truly that which splits so that water comes out of it, and indeed among them is truly that which falls down from awe of Allah. And Allah is not heedless of what ye do.
Thereupon your hearts hardened after that,... Even after seeing these portents the hearts of the Jews hardened, becoming harsh and crude. ‘After that' means after the portents of Allah the Most High that have been mentioned; or it means after the slaughter of the cow; or it means after what they saw of Allah's raising the dead.
...So they are like the rocks or more extreme in hardness,... ‘In hardness’ is a metaphor which is extended, and their being harder and more severe than rocks is clarified:, in His word:
...among the rocks is truly that from which rivers gush,... And is therefore beneficial in giving rise to goodness, as opposed to the hearts from which nothing comes but evil.
...and indeed among them is truly that which splits so that water comes out of it,... It becomes a spring, though it does not flow, which is where it differs from the former.
...and indeed among them is truly that which falls down... That is, from a mountain.
...from awe of Allah... Every rock that falls from a mountain falls by the permission of Allah and from awe of Him, a fear that is real, or metaphorical, like he who is so frightened ‘that he falls on his face.' So: ‘Your hearts, O Jews – the Book is saying – are harder than such stones, for fear not Allah, glorified be He, and you do not humble yourself before His magnificence.
...and Allah is not heedless of what ye do. He the Most High shall recompense them for their evil deeds.
Are ye eager that they believe for ye, while a division of them heard the word of Allah and thereupon altered it after they had reasoned on it, while they knew?
Are ye eager that they believe for ye,... The address, in the plural, is to the Muslims, concerning the Jews. The Muslims were not to expect the Jews to believe ‘for them', given for lakum, meaning for their benefit, since whoso believes is a benefit to the existing believers. Or it may mean belief in the Muslims' principles. The questioning sense is for negation, so the portent means that they – the Jews – will not believe in Islam.
...while a division of them...-It means a party of the Jews; that is, their forefathers.
...heard the word of Allah and thereupon altered it... They heard the word of Allah, glorified be He, when their Prophets recited it to them. They then altered it with additions and extractions in word and in sense, as is usual with persons conveying words that displease them. They either take some out or add to them – if they are able to do that. Or they explain it in a way contrary to what the Author intended.
...After they had reasoned on it, while they knew.' They did all that after they had understood it; knowingly. How, then, will those who treated the word of Allah in such a way ever come to Islam?
And when they meet those who believe, they say, ‘We believe!'
And when some of them are closeted with others they say, ‘Do ye inform them of what Allah has opened upon ye, that they may dispute with ye about him alongside your Master? Will ye not reason?'
And when they meet those who believe, they say, ‘We believe!'... This portent is also about the Jews. What is true of some of them is attributed to the whole, as is normal in speech. On meeting the Muslims they would say, ‘We believe that this Muhammad, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, is fully described in our books.' They did not mean that they believed with real faith like the Muslims, nor even an apparent belief like the hypocrites. They just meant that they believed in the plain, literal sense. For that they were blameworthy. And so they are described here in the words earlier used for the hypocrites:
...And when some of them are closeted with others... That is, when those Jews who had said that to the Muslims gathered privately with those who had not, without any Muslims being present.
...they say,... That is, those who had not revealed their belief said to those who had.
...Do ye inform them of what Allah has opened upon ye,... That is, taught them in their book that the Messenger, Muhammad, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, is genuine. ‘Do ye inform them...?'-means ‘Why do you inform them...?' ‘Opened upon ye' is given for fataĥa ‘alaikum; it means shown to ye, revealed to ye, made known to ye.
...that they may dispute with you about him before your Master?... It means that they criticised their fellows for revealing to the Muslims that the description of Muhammad, bliss be upon him and his kin, was to be found in their texts. Their criticism was on the pretext that the Muslims would argue against the Jews on the day of resurrection, saying to those who revealed the truth of their books: ’Ye yourselves said that your books held the description of the Messenger; why, then, did you not believe?'
...Will ye not reason?' It means: will you not realise that your disclosures to the Muslims gives them what they need to win their arguments against you before Allah.
Know they not that Allah knows what they keep secret and what they announce?
Did those hypocritical Jews not know that Allah was aware of what they were hiding from each other. What was the point in their not disclosing their descriptions of the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, for Allah knows that they know his description, and that they refuse to believe due to their obstinacy.
And among them are the mothered who know not the book but for fancies, and they only suppose.
Among the Jews several were ‘maternals’ or unschooled. ‘Maternals' is given for ummị from umm, meaning ‘mother’. It is as if the unschooled lives under the training of his mother, and not under the training of a teacher. ‘Fancies' is given for amạnị, meaning conjectural stories. So, being unable to read their book for themselves, they knew nothing of what it held about the Messenger and other things. Rather they were ignorant, and had to take the matters of their book from their altering, forging scholars, and were themselves unable to distinguish between true and false.
...and they only suppose. That is, they only suppose that what they hear is correct. They are without certainty, for they had not studied the book for themselves, so as to know what it contained.
So woe to those who write the book with their hands; thereupon they say, ‘This is from Allah!' so that they may sell it for a small price. So woe to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for what they earned.
So woe to those who write the book with their hands;... That is: woe to their scholars who wrote the Torah with their own hands. It is an indication that the bulk of the Torah was not sent down, but was originated by ordinary hands, rather than by revelation and inspiration.
...thereupon they say, ‘This is from Allah!’ so that they may sell it for a small price.... Had they disclosed what is really in the Torah, their followers would have turned to the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, so that those scholars would no more have been paid religious dues and respect.
...So woe to them for what their hands have written... Woe to those scholars, for writing the book is a cause of chastisement, as it is distortion of the word of Allah, the Most High.
...and woe to them for what they earned. This was the wealth they acquired through their alterations. The produce of the forbidden is also forbidden. That is a cause of chastisement for it is consuming wealth in falsehood.
...Woe' is given for wayl. In origin it means destruction and chastisement, then it came to be used for every involvement in destruction.
And they say, ‘The Fire will never touch us, save for a few days.'
Say: ‘Have ye taken a covenant with Allah, for Allah never breaks His covenant? Or do ye say about Allah what ye know not?'
And they say, ‘The Fire will never touch us, but for a few days.' A party from among the Jews would say that even supposing they were disbelievers and disobedient, nevertheless they would only be punished in the Fire for seven days, or what would seem like that. Therefore, they argued, what was the point of giving up worldly leadership in fear of such a trifling punishment?
...Say: ‘Have ye taken a covenant with Allah, for Allah never breaks His covenant? Or do ye say about Allah what ye know not?' The Messenger, Allah's condescensions be upon him and his House, was told to ask them whether they had some pact with Allah to that effect, or whether what they were saying of Allah was a lie and a forgery.
Nay; whoso earns evil and his error encompasses him – those are the companions of the Fire; they are in it eternal.
Nay; whoso earns evil and his error encompasses him... ‘Nay’ (balạ), the affair is not as they say it shall be, for whoso earns evil and does not cleanse himself of it, but lets his blunder surround him and encompass him – like someone who is enveloped by smoke, unable to breath or see or hear except through the smoke; just so is the deviated partnerist in his error.
...those are the companions of the fire; they are in it eternal. They are eternal in the fire, remaining-there forever.
While those who believe and do the virtuous deeds – those are the companions of the Garden, they are in it eternal.
Those who believe, with their hearts and their tongues, and do the virtuous deeds, as commanded by Islam—those are the companions of the Garden, they are in that eternal; forever, without interruption and without decay.
And, when We took the pact of the sons of Israel: ye will not worship except Allah; and beautifully to the parents and the holder of kinship, the orphans and the destitute; and speak in beauty to the people; and establish the prayer and pay the zakạt.
Thereupon ye turned away, but for a few of ye; and ye be turners away.
That is: ‘And remember, O sons of Israel, when Allah the Most High took the pact of the sons of Israel – a solemn, emphatic oath on the tongues of their Prophets—that they worship none but Allah alone.
...and beautifully to your parents... It means acting beautifully to the parents, and being not evil towards them.
...and the holder of kinship,... It is given for (źi ‘l qurbạ) meaning ‘the near of kin.'
...the orphans... Those whose fathers have died.
...and speak in beauty to the people...It covers all the types of ‘bidding to the honourable and forbidding the dishonourable' (amr bi ‘l-ma'rụf wa nahy ‘an al--munkar), as well as guidance and meeting bad with good.
...and establish the prayer and pay the zakạt.... The prayer and the zakat of the other communities were not as they exist at present in this community.
...Thereupon ye turned away, save for a few of ye,... The few who did not turn away were those who acted according to Allah's commands.
...and ye be turners away. ‘Turners away’ is given for mu’rižịn, plural of mu’riž, one who turns away. This last phrase emphasises the earlier ‘ye turned away'.
And, when We took your pact that ye shed not your blood and drive not yourselves from your houses; thereupon ye admitted it, and ye have testified.
And, when We took your pact...That is: ‘And remember, O sons of Israel: when Allah the Most High your pact – an emphatic oath on the tongues of the Prophets.
...that ye shed not your blood,... They were not to fight among themselves, some of them killing others.
...and drive not yourselves from your houses;... Some were not to send others away or into exile.
...thereupon ye admitted it... They confirmed that such pacts had come down to them to this effect.
...And ye have testified. That is, that such pacts existed between themselves and Allah, glorified be He.
Thereupon ye are those who kill yourselves and drive a division of ye from their homes, collaborating against them in sin and enmity. If they were to come to ye as captives ye would redeem, while it was banned for ye to drive them out! Do ye believe in some of the book and disbelieve in some?
What is the recompense of whoso among ye does this, but humiliation in the present life, and on the day of resurrection that they be returned to the severest chastisement. And Allah is not heedless of what ye do.
Thereupon ye are those who kill yourselves and drive a division of ye from their homes,... That is: ‘But after this pact, you are those who kill each other and drive each other from home, in violation of the Divine command.'
...collaborating against them in sin and enmity....’Collaborating' is given for ţażạharụn; it means that some of them co-operated with others in their exiling of others.
...If they were to come to ye as captives ye would redeem,... That is: how is it that some of you exile others, and some of you kill others, when anytime you find that some of you are the prisoners of others, you pay their ransom to free them?! If there is enmity between you, why do you pay the ransom? And if between you there is love, why do you kill and send into exile?
It is narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas, that the Qurayża and Nažịr were brothers, like al-Aws and al-Khazraj. Then their sons separated and the Bani Qurayza stood with the Bani Aws, while the Bani Nazịr stood with the Bani Khazraj. Whenever there was warfare each party would support its confederates. So in war, they would pay the ransom of their captives, just as is commanded in the Torah.
From another it is narrated that whenever a party of the Jews oppressed others, they would exile them from their homes.
...Do ye believe in some of the book... That is, in that part of the Torah which commands that ransom be paid to free the captives.
...and disbelieve in some?... That is, in that part of the Torah which decrees the prohibition of murder, and of sending into exile and of manifesting sin and enmity.
...What is the recompense of whoso among ye does this,... A rhetorical question, asking them to judge themselves for themselves.
...but humiliation in the present life... through disunity, weakness and degradation before the other nations.
...and on the day of resurrection that they be returned to the severest chastisement... On account of their opposition to the commands of Allah, glorified be He.
...and Allah is not heedless of what ye do. Allah is aware of what works they did; He shall requite them for them.
Those are they who purchase the present life for the hereafter—the chastisement will not be lessened for them, and they will not be succoured.
Those... The Jews who violated the divine commands.
...are they who purchase the present life for the hereafter.... They sell their hereafter in return for the world.
...—the chastisement will not be lessened for them, and they will not be succoured. The chastisement is the chastisement of the hereafter, where they shall not find anyone to come to their rescue.
And certainly We gave Mụsạ the book and We lined up the Messengers after him; and We gave ‘Ịsạ the son of Maryam the clarifications, and We aided him with the soul of holiness. Is it that whenever a Messenger comes to ye with what your spirits desire not, ye are haughty, and a division of them ye belie, and a division of them ye kill?
And certainly We gave Mụsạ the book and We lined up the Messengers after him;... ‘The book' means the Torah. ‘We lined up' is given for qaffaynạ, meaning to line up in a line, one after the other. After Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, the Messengers followed him one after the other.
...and We gave ‘Ịsạ the son of Maryam the clarifications,... ‘Clarifications’ is given for al-bayyinah, meaning the clear explanation, guidance or proof of a thing. It means the miracles of ‘Ịsạ, bliss be upon him, like the curing of the blind and the lepers, and his reviving the dead.
...And We aided him with the soul of holiness... This was a strengthening assistance, a reinforcement. ‘The soul of holiness' (ruh al-quds) means either the angel Jibrạ.ịl, bliss be upon him, or a strengthening spirit from Allah, glorified be He, strengthening him for propagation and guidance in the face of so many enemies. So, O Jews,
...Is it that whenever a Messenger comes to ye with what your spirits desire not,... It means those commands they did not like.
...ye are haughty,... And their haughtiness and arrogance prevents them from accepting the Divine decrees.
...and a division of them ye belie... Such as ‘Ịsạ and Muhammad, Allah's bliss be upon them.
...and a division of them ye murder? Such as Zakaria and Yahya (John the Baptist). The questioning form is used for rebuke.
They say, ‘Our hearts are wrapped!' Nay, but Allah has cursed them for their disbelief; little is their believing.
They say, ‘Our hearts are wrapped!'... That is, the Jews said to the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, that their hearts were wrapped or covered, so that the guidance cannot reach them.
...Nay, but Allah has cursed them for their disbelief;... The truth is that Allah has cursed them and distanced them from goodness because of their disbelief and their failure to implement the divine decrees; just as when a person fails to listen to His commands, He leaves him and bothers about him no more.
...little is their believing.-It is on account of what has possessed their hearts, and the wrong they have done to their souls.
And when there came to them a book from alongside Allah, confirming what is with them – while beforehand they were seeking conquest over those who disbelieve – so as soon as there came to them what they recognised, they disbelieved in him. So Allah's curse is on the disbelievers.
And when there came to them a book... The Jews were among those to whom, in the wider sense, the holy Quran was sent.
...confirming what is with them... It confirmed that which was with them, meaning the book that was with them, namely the Torah – for the Quran confirms the genuine Torah that was sent down upon Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, in His word, ‘Indeed We sent down the Torah; in it is guidance and light.' (al-Mạ.ida : 45)
...– while beforehand they were seeking conquest over those who- disbelieve–... ‘Beforehand’ is given for min qabl; it means before the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, was dispatched, or before the Quran was sent down. The Jews had been praying to Allah that He raise a Messenger, so that they might find dominance over the disbelievers.
...so as soon as there came to them what they recognised, they disbelieved in him....-When the Messenger, May Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, whose qualities and characteristics they recognised, came to them, they disbelieved in him and made ready for war against him. In fact, they preferred the disbelievers over the Messenger and the believers, saying they were ‘more guided as to a path than those who believed.' (al-Nisạ.–‘Women’–; 52).
...So Allah's curse is on the disbelievers. Allah's curse is on the Jews who disbelieved in Muhammad, may Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, and in the Quran, despite their having recognised them.
Atrocious is what they sold themselves for: that they disbelieve in what Allah has sent down; resenting that Allah sends down of His profusion upon whomso He wills of His servants.
So they bring back anger upon anger; and for the disbelievers is a debasingchastisement.
Atrocious is that for which they sold themselves: that they disbelieve in what Allah has sent down;... Atrocious is that which the Jews have bought at the price of their own selves; they have given themselves to the eternal chastisement, and have bought disbelief in that which Allah has sent down. It means: atrocious is the disbelief which they have taken in return for their lives. The simile involved is that Islam and disbelief are two commodities, so that whoso chooses one sells himself for that, in that he disposes of himself in its path. So, when a person sells himself in return for Islam, what a fine thing he has bought for the price of himself; but when he sells himself in return for disbelief, what a sorry transaction he has made.
...resenting that Allah sends down of His profusion upon whomso He wills of His servants.... The motive for their purchasing disbelief was their jealousy of Muhammad, Allah condescend upon him and his House, since he was of the sons of Ismạ‘ịl, and not a son of their ancestor, Isĥạq, upon them both be bliss. They were jealous that Allah had sent down His religion and the Quran upon Muhammad, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, and not on one of them.
...So they bring back anger upon anger;... So the Jews ‘bring back anger upon anger,' – that is, they return with it to Allah, for Allah was angry with them for their opposition to Mụsạ, ‘Ịsạ and the other Messengers, bliss be upon them, then Allah was angry with them a second time for their opposition to Muhammad, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House.
...and for the disbelievers is a debasing chastisement. For the disbelievers, of whom the Jews are the clearest embodiment, is a humbling, humiliating chastisement.
And when it is said to them, ‘Believe in what Allah has sent down!' they say, ‘We believe in what has been sent down upon us!' and they disbelieve in what is beyond that, while it is the truth, confirming what is with them. Say, ‘So why did ye kill the Allah’s Prophets beforehand, if ye be believers?'
And when it is said to them, ‘Believe in what Allah has sent down!' they say, ‘We believe in what has been sent down upon us!'... And when it is said to the Jews, ‘Believe in what Allah has sent down upon Muhammad,' Allah's bliss be upon him and with his kin, they say that they believe in the Torah sent down to them.
...and they disbelieve in what is beyond that,... The book of Ịsạ, bliss be upon him, and the book of Muhammad, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House.
...while it is the truth, confirming what is with them....They disbelieved even though-what is ‘beyond' their book is the truth confirming what they have.
...Say, ‘So why did ye kill Allah’s Prophets beforehand, The Messenger was told to tell them that they lied when they said that they believed in what had been sent down to them, for they were not believers, even in the Torah; otherwise, why in the past did they kill the Prophets of Allah? The Torah forbids the killing of Prophets; therefore, they were not believers, not in their book, and not in the later Gospel (al–Injịl) and the sacred Quran.
...if ye be believers?' How can they claim to be believers, when their deeds prove otherwise:
And certainly Mụsạ came to ye with the clarifications; thereupon ye took the calf after him, while ye were wrongful.
When Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, went to Mt Tur, they took the calf as god and worshipped it, and wronged themselves by that worship. Now, had they believed in what was sent down to them, they would not have worshipped the calf.
And, when We took your pact and elevated the Tur above ye: ‘Take with strength what We give ye, and listen!' They said, ‘We hear and we disobey!' And they were made to drink the calf into their hearts, for their disbelief. Say, ‘Atrocious is what your belief commands ye to, if ye be believers!'
And, when We took your pact... That is: And remember, O sons of Israel, when Allah took your firm covenant that you would act by the Torah.
...And elevated the Tur above ye...-It means a segment of the Tur, as has been clarified. And Allah the Most High said to them,
...‘Take with strength what We give ye,... With strength and with power. That is, they were to take what was given them and they were to put it into action, continually, unceasingly.
...and listen!... They were to listen to the commands of Allah, glorified be He.
..They said, ‘We hear and we disobey'.... This may mean that they said ‘We listen' with their tongues, while ‘we disobey' is what they expressed through their actions; but it is likely that they spoke the words in mockery.
...And they were made to drink the calf into their hearts, for their disbelief':... It is like when a person drinks water, the water fills the vacuum within him, so too did the calf—love of it—fill the vacuum in their hearts; on account of their disbelief.
...Say,... The Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, was to tell them:
...‘Atrocious is what your belief commands ye to,
...'Evil is what your belief commands ye to... Their belief, as they said, ‘We believe in what has been sent down to us' was a sorry, vile belief, for the belief that commanded them to worship the calf was not belief at all, but disbelief.
...if ye be believers!' ' This clause is to convey a sense of mockery.
The repetition of raising the Tur has a meaning, namely that they broke the pact taken from them while the mount was above them; and took the calf as a god.
Say: ‘If the realm of the hereafter alongside Allah is for ye, purely, other than for the people, so yearn for death, if ye be truthful.'
Say:... The Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, was to say to those Jews who claimed that the good of the afterlife was for them alone and that Christians and Muslims and others would not share with them in it:
...’If the realm of the hereafter alongside Allah is for ye, purely, other than for the people...-‘Alongside Allah' is given for 'ind Allah, which is an adjective for the realm of the hereafter (al-dạr al-ạkhira). It means the realm that is ‘alongside Allah' in the sense of being ‘nearest', meaning ‘dearest', to Him, glorified be He.
...so yearn for death,... Whoso believes that his path is towards the Garden cannot help but long for death, to be relieved of the pains of the world and its hardships.
...if ye be truthful.' That is, if you really believe what you say with your tongues.
Thereupon Allah the Most High informs us that they are not truthful:
And they will never yearn for it, ever, because of what their hands have sent forth; and Allah is knowing of the wrongful.
And... The proof that they are not truthful is that:
...they will never yearn for it, ever...-At no time whatsoever.
...because of what their hands have sent forth... That is, disobedience, dishonourable deeds and disbelief. The sending forth of these things (to the hereafter for reckoning) has been attributed to the hands on account of how it is normally the hands that give and deliver physical things.
...and Allah is knowing of the wrongful. The imp[licit subtext is: do not lose heart from their claim that theirs is the hereafter, and that they alone of all the people are beloved by Allah. love
And you will surely find them the greediest of the people for life, and than the partnerists; each of them would love to last a thousand years – but that would not remove him from the chastisement, that he last it. And Allah is an observer of what they do.
And you will find them the greediest of the people for life,... How could they yearn for death, when they are found to be the greediest of all people for life. They are more extreme than anyone in their desire for survival in the world, since they know that their afterlife is for the fire and the chastisement.
...and than the partnerists;... They are even more greedy for life than the polytheists, as the polytheist thinks there is nothing beyond life and so hangs on to life merely to escape extinction, while they are aware of the punishments and so are more greedy for life than the polytheists.
...each of them... It is given for aĥaduhum, literally meaning ‘one of them’, but here meaning each and every one of them.
...would love to last a thousand years... They would love to live a thousand years, so as to delay their punishment.
...but that would not remove him from the chastisement,... Even if their lives were extended to a thousand years, still that prolonging would not free them from their chastisement. What is the point of living a thousand years, if the final destination is the eternal fire?
...that he live it.... This is explanatory, explaining the pronoun ‘that' in ‘...but that would not...’
...And Allah is an observer of what they do. Allah sees their disbelief and sins; he will requite them for it all on the day of resurrection with fire and chastisement.
Say, ‘Who is an enemy to Jibrịl, for indeed he took it down upon thy heart with Allah's permission, confirming that before it, as guidance and glad tidings for the believers?
Say,... Certain Jews came to the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, saying that if the angel who came to him had been Mikạ.ịl they would definitely have believed, for they saw Mikạ.ịl as the angel of mercy who brings prosperity and ease, and as their friend; while they saw Jibra.ịl as the angel of chastisement who brought down slaying, hardship and war, and as their enemy. They said that if Jibra.ịl was the angel sent to the Messenger, they would not believe in him. The Messenger was to say to them:
...Who is an enemy to Jibrịl, for indeed he took it down upon thy heart... ‘It’ means the Quran.
...with Allah's permission... It was not of his own accord.
...confirming that before it,... That is, the Torah.
...as guidance and glad tidings for the believers?' Therefore, what was the crime of Jibrịl, bliss be upon him, that they should take him as an enemy and not believe in the book he brought down.
Whoso is an enemy to Allah, His angels, His Messengers, and Jibrịl and Mịkạl – indeed Allah is an enemy to the disbelievers.
Whoso is an enemy to Allah,... Being an enemy to Allah the Most High means committing acts of enmity by doing what displeases Him, glorified be He.
...His angels, His Messengers and to Jibrịl and Mịkạl... These two are given particular mention because they were the topic of the discussion with the Jews.
...indeed Allah is an enemy to the disbelievers. Whoso is an enemy to one of those is a disbeliever and Allah is an enemy to whoso disbelieves, in that He deals with them with acts of enmity, by humbling them, chastising them and punishing them.
And surely We have sent down upon thee clarifying portents; none disbelieve in them but for the perverse.
The address is to the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House. ‘Clarifying portents' is given for ạyạt bayyinạt, meaning portents or portents of the Quran, that are clear in themselves and clarifying of other things. None disbelieve in them except those who have departed from obedience to Allah, glorified be He.
Or is it that whenever they bind a covenant, a division of them discard it? Nay, most of them believe not.
Or is it that whenever they bind a covenant, a group of them discard it?... This is about the Jews. It is a criticism of their breaking their pledges of obedience to the previous Messengers, and their breaking their treaties with the Messenger of Allah, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, in the affair of the tribes B. Nazir and B, Quraizah.
...most of them do not believe. This means disbelief in the covenants and pacts, or in Allah and His Messengers, or in the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House. He says ‘most of them' as some of them believed, like ‘Abd Allah b. Salạm.
And whenever a Messenger from alongside Allah comes to them, confirming what is with them, a division of those given the book discard the book of Allah behind their backs, as if they know not!
Whenever a Messenger, like ‘Ịsạ, bliss be upon him, or Muhammad, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, came to them, confirming the Torah they had, a party of the very Jews who had been given the Torah cast it behind their backs, pretending not to recognise their duty to believe in the Prophets and follow the Messengers after Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, as if they did not know of this injunction of the Torah.
And they followed what the devils recited during the dominion of Sulaymạn; Sulaymạn disbelieved not, but rather the devils disbelieved, they taught the people magic and what was sent down upon the two angels at Bạbil, Hạrụt and Mạrụt – while the two taught noone without saying, ‘We are but an examination, so disbelieve not!'
So they learned from them that which by which they make a division between a man and his spouse, yet them, they are the harmers by it of no one save with the permission of Allah.
And they learn what harms them and benefits them not, and they certainly knew that whoso purchases it – surely he has no part in the hereafter. And truly atrocious is what they sold themselves for, had they known.
And they followed... Instead of the book, they followed magic. They discarded the book behind their backs and attached themselves to:
...what the devils recited during the dominion of Sulaymạn;...-That is, that which they attributed to Sulaymạn, the son of Dạ.ud (David), bliss be upon them. The devils in the time of Sulaymạn would use a magical language to recite magic to the people. ‘During' is put for ‘alạ, with the meaning of ‘in’ (fị), as stated by the grammarian Ibn Mạlik:
‘alạ is for ‘being above’ (that is, ‘over’ or ‘upon’), as well as for the meanings of fị (‘in’, ‘during’) and ‘in (‘from’, ‘of’).
In short, the Jews would attach themselves to the magic that existed in the time of Sulaymạn; seeking by it to attract wealth and popularity, and they used to say that Sulaymạn only attained to his magnificent dominion through the means of magic. Allah refutes this in His word,
...Sulaymạn disbelieved not,... Magic is a cause of disbelief, and here it must be clarified that disbelief (kufr) is of two types: the disbelief of doctrine; and the disbelief of deeds. Disbelief of doctrine is the denial of the essential principles or ‘roots’ of the religion, while disbelief in action is to abandon the mandatory deeds or perform the prohibited deeds.
That the term ‘disbelief’ is generally applicable to abstaining from the obligations or performing things prohibited is clear from His word: ‘...and whoso disbelieves—indeed Allah is independent of the worlds...' (Ạl ‘Imrạn ; 98) on the topic of Hajj, where ‘disbelief’ means abstaining from the Hajj. And also in His word: ‘...and truly, if ye disbelieve—indeed My chastisement is truly severe...' (Ibrahịm ; 8),-on the topic of gratitude.
In the same way, we have from the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, that: ‘Disbelief in Allah the Magnificent on the part of this nation is (of) ten (types):... and he then counts among them slander and suchlike.
At all events, Sulaymạn was not a magician, and did he attain to that to which he attained through magic, but rather through Prophethood and the divine bestowal.
...but rather the devils disbelieved,... The devils disbelieved by implementing magic and teaching it to the people. ‘The devils’ (shayạtịn) are evil souls who cast evil into people’s hearts, as proven in the study of the narrations (‘ilm al-ĥadịth) and elsewhere, on the topics of invocation (taĥzịr) and hypnotism.
...they taught the people magic... Magic is a set of unnatural issues using unseen means, incorporating interference in peoples vision, their spirits and their intellects. It brings about enmity between people, illness and suchlike.
...and that sent down upon the two angels at Bạbil, Hạrụt and Mạrụt... The Jews deserted their book and followed the magic of these devils and the magic of ‘the two angels'. Their story is that in the period following the Prophet Nụh, bliss be upon him, magic became widespread, so Allah sent two angels to the Prophet of that age, at Babul, to teach the people magic and its undoing. They would say to the people ‘This is magic, and this is what breaks it!', rather like a doctor who writes a book on medicine in which he describes diseases, their causes and what cures them. The doctor might write, ‘This is a poison, and this is its cure.' The two angels taught magic and how to overcome it, warning those they taught that they were determined to overcome magic. When the people had learned from them, some of them took to magic; like one who reads a book of medicine and then poisons people—it is not the author of the book who is at fault, even though he is among the factors that led to the causation of harm.
...while the two taught no one without saying, ‘We are but a tribulation, so disbelieve not!'... The Jews deserted the book of Allah and took to the knowledge that was sent down upon the two angels at Babul, whose names were Hạrụt and Mạrụt. But these two taught noone before informing them that they were a test, and that their intention was to rectify and heal, not to cause damage and harm, and warning them not to disbelieve, by practicing magic.
...So they learned from them that which by which they make a division between a man and his spouse,... They went ahead and learned magic from them and learned that which separates a man from his wife. That is, they learned how to do the things that give rise to enmity and hatred between couples, and which lead to separation and divorce.
...yet them, they are the harmers by it of no one save with the permission of Allah.... It should not be imagined that magical things are outside the scope of Allah’s jurisdiction, simply because He lets them happen. Rather, it is something by which Allah wishes to test His servants. It is like His creating the grape and giving man the power to squeeze it, then man makes wine out of it – this is not beyond the jurisdiction of Allah, rather it too is for trial and examination. Thus He says,
...yet them, they are the harmers by it of no one save with the permission of Allah.... That is, they can do no harm with their magic but what harm Allah allows them to do, as a test and examination. Nothing can in any way affect another but with the permission of Allah, meaning that He does not intervene between a cause and its effect. Were he to intervene, it would be a world of compulsion useless for trial and examination. A thing is not beyond the power of Allah, glorified be He, simply because He does not prevent it from happening. He could prevent it but He does not.
...And they learn what harms them and benefits them not,... The people learned from the two angels things that harmed them, in their world and their religion, and brought them no goodness. This is an emphatic declaration of the uselessness of magic, and refutes their expectation that magic would bring them goodness and facilitate for them their desires.
...and they certainly knew that whoso purchases it – surely he has no part in the hereafter... Those who learned it certainly knew that whoso purchases it and sells their religion for it has no share in the hereafter. On the contrary:
...And truly atrocious is what they sold themselves for,... Awful is that for which they sold their souls, for in return for learning the magic that they thought would benefit their world, they gave their souls to the fire.
...had they but known.... Ah, if they had only known; for though they knew, yet they did not know, in the sense that one who knows but fails to implement such knowledge is exactly like one who is ignorant.
And had they believed and been guardful, the reward from alongside Allah is goodness, had they but known.
Had the Jews genuinely believed instead of following magic, and guardfully avoided disobedience, their reward from Allah would have been goodness for them in the world and in the hereafter. But they did not know this, in the sense that they acted as though they did not know.
O ye who believe! Say not ‘Rạ’inạ', but say ‘Unżurnạ' and listen, and for the disbelievers is a painful chastisement.
O ye who believe! Say not ‘Rạ’inạ', but say ‘Unżurnạ' and listen,...The address is to those who believed in the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House. ‘Rạ’inạ' is an Arabic word meaning ‘look upon us with consideration’; but in the language of the Jews it meant ‘I listened but I didn't hear', and was used as an insult. And so the Jews seized the opportunity of this phrase due to its resemblance to an insult, and would come to the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, and say, ‘Rạ’inạ', intending thereby to insult him, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House. Allah therefore forbade the Muslims from saying this phrase, so as not to let the Jews take advantage of it. Instead, they were to say ‘Unzurnạ', which means look with mercy upon us. The Muslims were to say that and listen to the commands of Allah and the commands of His Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House.
...and for the disbelievers is a painful chastisement. And for the disbelievers among the Jews who used to insult the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and his House, there is, under the heading ‘Rạ’inạ', a chastisement in the hereafter that is grievously painful.
Those who disbelieve – the bookfolk –love it not, and nor the partnerists, that goodness descend on ye from your Master—and Allah selects for His mercy whom He wills; and Allah is the Holder of magnificent profusion.
The Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians love it not that goodness descend on the Muslims from the direction of their Master, whether that goodness be spiritual, like Prophethood, guidance and inspiration, or material, like superiority, victory and wealth. But Allah selects for His mercy whom He wills; and His will does not follow the will of the disbelievers and idolaters. Nor is His profusion limited to a particular group of disbelievers, so there was no room for the Jews to believe that Prophethood is limited to them alone of all the people.
Whatso of Our portents We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring better than it, or its like; know thou not that Allah over all things is powerful?
Whatso of Our portents We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring better than it, or its like;... The ‘abrogation’ (naskh) of a ‘portent’ (ạyah) means to raise a law and place another law in its place. To ‘cause to be forgotten’ means to remove the record of it and erase the memory of it from the hearts and minds. This latter has not happened in the case of the Holy Quran, though it happened in the cases of the former books, so that not much of them can be found. Abrogation, however, has occurred to the holy Quran, according to the most authoritative view, as well as to the other books.
However, abrogation of portents and causing them to be forgotten only occurs to that substituted by its like, in that its like is more suitable than what was abrogated or caused to be forgotten. It is like when an item of paper currency, a banknote, say, falls from validity; the authority issues another, similar to it.
...know thou not...—O Jew, you who deny the truth of abrogation.
...that Allah over all things is powerful? The Jews created doubts over how it was that their book was abrogated by the Quran, for if it was righteous, then why was it abrogated, and if it was not righteous, then why did Allah the Most High send it down? The answer was that the denial of abrogation would be either due to the impossibility of producing its like or better, or due to Allah being unable to abrogate. Both alternatives are unacceptable, for the like and its better exist, and over all things Allah has the power to do with them as He wills.
Know thou not that Allah – His is the dominion of the skies and the earth? and that other than Allah ye have no patron, and no succourer?
O denier of abrogation, know you not that Allah possesses the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and that He can intervene where He wills in conditions and rulings, as He wills. He, glorified be He, sees man's best interests in abrogation and causing to be forgotten. These interests vary according to the age and to the people; and it is the role of Allah's portents to revive the people time and time again, until finally it came the turn of the message of Islam. In this process some particulars were substituted before its completion and perfection, to ensure an equilibrium between the message and the conditions of the time. Finally, when it was completed and perfected, nothing remained to be altered, and it will remain forever.
Or do ye wish to question your Messenger like Mụsạ was questioned of old? And whoso substitutes disbelief for belief has indeed strayed from the evenness of the path.
Or do ye wish to question your Messenger... This address is to the contemporaries of the Messenger – Muslims, book-folk (ahl al-kitạb) and partnerist, for the phrase ‘your Messenger' is not limited to the believers.
...like Mụsạ was questioned of old?... It seems that some of the followers of the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, tended to question him with stubborn persistency, just as Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, was questioned of old. He was subject to outrageous demands and propositions, even impossible things, like their saying ‘We will not believe in thee until we see Allah openly!' The contemporaries of the Quran would say similar things, like their saying ...Or cause the sky to fall upon us... (17;93). For this they were rebuked by Allah, glorified be He, for such questioning fitted ill with the rank of Messenger and the message, after the guidance had been clarified to them.
...And whoso substitutes disbelief for faith, has most surely strayed from the evenness of the path. He who takes hold of disbelief and lays aside faith, as demonstrated by such obstinate questioning, which is surely a mark of disbelief and deviation, has most surely strayed from the evenness of the path, that central part of it which connects to the destination.
Many of the book-folk would love to drive ye back as disbelievers after your having believed, out of envy from alongside their spirits, after the truth has been clarified for them! So pardon, and absolve, until Allah brings forth His affair; indeed Allah over all things is powerful.
Many of the book-folk would love to drive ye back as disbelievers after your having believed,... Many of the Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians would love to return the Muslims to disbelief, after their having believed, so as to be the same as them.
...out of envy from alongside their spirits, That is, out of jealousy that the Muslims preceded them towards the domain of faith and the real life. Thus this love of theirs is not due to their being religious and concerned and full of regret towards the Muslims for their departing from the true faith, as they might have seen it, but from their own inflated spirits, their selfish vanities. This is their motivation, rather than their religion.
...after the truth has been clarified for them!... They do not do this out of ignorance about the Muslims' religion and their truth,
...So pardon, and excuse,... The Muslims were to pardon and forgive them, and not return evil for the evil the disbelievers did to them.
...until Allah brings forth His affair;... That is, await His rule, when He will allow you to contend and to fight and to pay back like for like.
...indeed Allah over all things is powerful. The day was to come when He would make them strong and able to make war on those disbelievers, and be permitted to contend with them.
And establish the prayer and pay the zakạt, and whatever goodness ye send on for yourselves—ye will find it alongside Allah; indeed Allah is an observer of what ye do.
And establish the prayer and pay the zakạt,... During the time when Allah had not yet ‘brought forth His affair’, the Muslims were to ‘establish the prayer and pay the zakạt', but not to contend with their enemies.
...and whatever goodness ye send on for yourselves... It means paying the zakạt and the other deeds of goodness which return on oneself, in that they bring harmony in the world and reward in the hereafter.
...—ye will find it alongside Allah;... That is, on the day of resurrection.
...indeed Allah is an observer of what ye do. So that which is done for the sake of His nearness – being ‘near’ to Him, glorified be He, is not futile.
And they say that none will ever enter the Garden but whoso is a Jew, or a Christian. Those are their fancies. Say: ‘Bring your proof, if ye be truthful!'
And they say that none will ever enter the Garden but whoso is a Jew, or a Christian.... The Jews would say that none will enter paradise but a Jew, and the Christians would say that none will enter it but a Christian.
...Those are their fancies.... This is nothing but their idle suppositions, their false, unsubstantiated wishful thinking..
...Say:...The Messenger was to tell them to :
...‘Bring your proof, if ye be truthful!' That is, the proof of their claim.
Nay; whoso submits his face to Allah while he is a beautifier – his is his reward alongside his Master; no fear is upon them and nor do they sorrow.
Nay... It is given for balạ,-which indicates the implication of a question, namely: will noone enter the garden; and if so, who?
...whoso submits his face... The use of the word face (wajh) is because it is the noblest part of the body, for otherwise when a person submits to Allah his whole body submits.
...while he is a beautifier... That is, he performs the beautiful deeds.
...his is his reward alongside his Master; no fear is upon them and nor do they sorrow. Such persons will enter the garden whether they were Jews during the time of Mụsạ, Christians during the time of ‘Ịsạ, Muslims during the time of Muhammad, or a member of any of the other communities during the era of their Prophets, bliss and benedictions be upon them all.
In fact, this statement bears its own proof, in that the criterion for entering the garden is belief and righteous deeds; for noone would say to a person who makes this statement, ‘Bring your proof.'
And the Jews say, ‘The Christians are on nothing!' and the Christians say, ‘The Jews are on nothing!'—while they recite the book! Thus say those who know not, a word like theirs. So Allah will judge between them on the day of resurrection about that in which they differed.
And the Jews say, ‘The Christians are on nothing!' and the Christians say, ‘The Jews are on nothing!'... Each of the two communities says the same thing about the other: that they have no religion and no faith and no religiosity and no piety. Each sees itself as being delivered and the other as destined for perdition.
...—while they recite the book!... Whoso reads the book has no right to say such things. For each knows that the other has something or other: The Jew knows that the Christian has some general sense of faith and of religion, while the Christian knows that the Jew has some general sense of faith and religion.
...Thus say those who know not, a word like theirs.... The Jews and Christians who say such things are just like the disbelievers who are ignorant. This rebukes both of the two communities, for they had been talking just like those who had no book and were ignorant. That is, it follows that the ignorant may say that the Jews and the Christians are on nothing, since he imagines them both to be entirely invalid.
...So Allah will judge between them on the day of resurrection about that in which they differed.... On the day of resurrection it will be made clear to the two communities whether they were upon anything or not. Perhaps Allah's judging, glorified be He, is given as particular to the day of resurrection since there will be no place for doubts that day about His judgement, whereas in the world those who do not believe in Islam do not acknowledge His judgement.
And who is more wrongful than whoso prevents the masjids of Allah, from His name being recalled therein, and strives for their ruination? Those, it was not for them to enter them save in fear! Theirs in the world is humiliation, and theirs in the hereafter is a mighty chastisement.
And who is more wrongful than whoso prevents the masjids of Allah, from His name being recalled therein,...The sense is general, including everyone who prevents from a house of Allah, glorified be He, although it applies to the people of Makkah who barred the Messenger from the Sacred Mosque, and to Bakht al-Nasr (Nebuchanazr), who barred from Jerusalem. The meaning is that there is noone more wrongful than such a person, though the restriction is relative (ižạfị); otherwise, those who murdered the Prophets are more wrongful.
...and strives for their ruination?.. It means a spiritual ruination that prevents people praying within them, or a physical destruction of their buildings.
Those, it was not for them to enter them except in fear!... Such persons should not even enter those places except in a state of fear, afraid of the chastisement of Allah, glorified be He, and of the revenge of the Muslims.
...Theirs in the world is humiliation,... In the world they shall be disgraced, by the Islamic punishments for anyone committing that crime. Or it is an announcement of disgrace from alongside Allah, glorified be He, which He sends down upon anyone who strives for the ruination of the masjids.
...And theirs in the hereafter is a mighty chastisement.' They shall taste the fire in total humiliation.
Perhaps the ạyah alludes to the Jews, and their barring the masjids.
Allah's is the east and the west; so wherever ye turn, there is the face of Allah! Indeed Allah is expansive, knowing!
Allah's is the east and the west;...The east and the west both belong to Allah. He created them, and they are His sole property.
...so wherever ye turn, there is the face of Allah!... In whichever direction you direct your faces, there is the face of Allah! The face of Allah is His embrace of knowledge and power over all directions; so when you turn towards the east you direct yourself to Allah, and when you turn to the west, you direct yourself to Allah. And Allah is not material so as to have a particular place, in the direction of which one would need to turn.
...Indeed Allah is expansive, knowing! His knowledge and power encompass all things; He knows what a person does, and which way he turns.
It is said that the ạyah was sent down to refute the Jews who made much of how Muhammad, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, turned from the Qiblah of Jerusalem to the Qiblah of the Ka’bah.
And they say: ‘Allah has taken a child!'
Glory be His! Nay, His are the skies and the earth; all to Him are subservient.
And they say: ‘Allah has taken a child!'... Jews held that ‘Uzair was the son of Allah, while Christians said that the Christ was the son of Allah, and the idolaters held that the angels are the daughters of Allah. Yet neither did He, glorified be He, procreate, as some of them imagined, and nor did He adopt.
...Glory be His!... It is given for subĥạnahụ, a declaration of His absolute purity of what they said.
...Nay, His are the skies and the earth... How, then, can that which is owned be a son, as a son is not owned by his father? and property is controlled and directed, so what is this of adoption?
...all is subject to Him are subservient. All of the skies and the earth belong to Him, the Most High, and before Him all is humble and submissive.
The Origin of the skies and the earth; and when He consummates an affair He but says to it, ‘Be!' and it is.
The Origin of the skies and the earth;... This phrase emphasises the content of the previous ạyah, ‘His are the skies and the earth'. ‘The Originator' is given for al-badị' meaning that He is the source, the origin and the creator (from nothing).
...and when He consummates an affair He but says to it, ‘Be!' and it is.... When Allah the Most High intends a thing, He merely says to that intended thing ‘Be!' – that is, He commands it to exist – and it exists, following upon His command. In this way the world of existence is subject to His will and to His rule.
After these points about the differences between the book-folk, and their barring along with the idolaters people from the masjids, and the polytheistic condition of their monotheism, the Wise Quran turns to consider their views concerning the messengership, in His word:
And those who know not say, ‘Why does Allah not speak to us, or give us ạ portent?'
Just so spoke those of old, like their word, their hearts are alike. Truly We have clarified the portents, to a tribe certain.
And those who know not say, ‘Why does Allah not speak to us,... Those who knew nothing about the delicacy of inspiration and Prophethood, would say, ‘Why does Allah not speak to us, telling us His commands directly without an intermediary, or telling us that you are a Messenger?’
...or give us ạ portent?'...-That is: Why does He not give us a sign, a miracle, according to our demands?
...Just so spoke those of old, like their word,... Those of old spoke exactly like that to their Messengers, a similar speech, like their demanding of Mụsạ, bliss be upon him, that he show them Allah, glorified be He, in the flesh.
...their hearts are alike.... Their hearts are all alike, in their disbelief and opposition expressed in preposterous demands and obstinacy.
...Truly We have clarified the portents,... The signs had already been clarified, so there was no need to have Allah speak to them, nor for Him to satisfy their demands for the paranormal. Had their intention been to clarify the truth and furnish undeniable proof, Allah had already done that. And had their intention been other than that, Allah's only priority is to present the entire proof (itmạm al–hujjat).
...to a tribe certain. The portents have been made clear to a people who are certain, in the sense that it is only such a people who will make use of them and benefit from them. ‘Tribe certain’ is given for qawmin yụqinụn, that is, a ‘tribe’ (qawm) with the characteristic of ‘being certain’ (yụqinụn) –-the slight irregularity of the English has literary justification but is of course necessary to prevent confusion.
Indeed We have dispatched thee with the truth, as good news or in warning; and thou shall not be questioned as to the companions of the inferno.
The address is to the Messenger of Allah, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House. He was dispatched ‘with the truth', emphasising the divine origin of the dispatch, for all of Allah's dispatching is with the truth. He was dispatched as good news for the obedient believers; and as a warning for the disbelievers and for the disobedient.
Allah, glorified be He, was saying to the Messenger: ‘You are Our Messenger, despite their doubts and their obsessive demands; you are not answerable for them, you are not responsible for them; yours is but to remind.’
And the Jews will never be content with thee, and nor will the Christians, until thou follow their community. Say: ‘Indeed the guidance of Allah – that is the guidance.'
And indeed, if thou followed their desires after what has come to thee, knowledge, thou would have in Allah neither a patron, nor a succourer.
And the Jews will never be content with thee, and nor will the Christians, until thou follow their community.... The address, in the singular, is to the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House. It is a part of the natural way of things that when a man stands for a principle, opponents seek to incline him towards themselves. Therefore Allah explains to His Messenger not to be taken in by them, reminding him that the Jews and the Christians would never be satisfied with him until he entered their communities, and followed their paths. For everyone on a path is never satisfied with a person until that person is immersed in that in which they themselves are immersed.
...Say: ‘Indeed the guidance of Allah – that is the guidance.'-He was to tell them that Allah’s guidance of Islam is the real guidance, not anything else, such as Judaism or Christianity.
...And indeed, if thou followed their desires... This shows that their religions reflect their inflated vanities, and are not from alongside Allah, glorified be He.
...after what has come to thee, knowledge,... That is, the knowledge of Islam and its laws, and of the invalidity of Judaism and Christianity.
...thou would have in Allah neither a patron, nor a succourer. Had he done that, Allah would not have patronised him in his affairs nor succoured him.
Those whom We have given the book, reciting it with its just recital – those, they believe in him. And whoso disbelieves in him – those, they are the losers.
...Those whom We have given the book, reciting it with its just recital – those, they believe in him.... Those of the book-folk who recited their book – the Torah or the Gospel – with a just recital, by acting according to what was in their book, believed in the Messenger. ‘Him' is given for the pronoun hị, which could also mean ‘it'. In that case, the reading would mean: they believe in the Quran, or in Islam. Perhaps it means their believing with a real belief in their own book, rather than with the faith of the manipulators who took some of the book and not the rest.
...And whoso disbelieves in him – those, they are the losers. They are losers in the world, for Allah's path is the path of happiness in the world, so that when a person swerves from it, his life becomes constrained; and in the hereafter, for there the chastisement is prepared for the disbelievers.
O sons of Israel! Recall My blessing that I blessed upon ye, and that I distinguished ye above the worlds.
The blessing was the despatch of Prophets among them, the destruction of their enemies, making them sovereigns in the earth, and expanding their worlds or livelihoods for them. Their being distinguished over the worlds was during their time, and was one of the greatest of blessings. The explanation of it has been given in a similar portent.
And be guardful of the day when a soul will not recompense a soul for a thing; and an equivalent will not be accepted from it; and mediation will not benefit it; and they will not be succoured.
And be guardful of the day... The day' is the day of resurrection.
...when a soul will not recompense a soul for a thing;... Each soul will see its own just reward; no-one shall carry the burden of another.
...and a counterpart will not be accepted from it;... ‘Equivalent’ is given for ‘adlun, meaning a compensatory ransom paid to free oneself.
...and mediation will not benefit it;... Save as Allah the Most High pleases.
...and they will not be succoured. Noone will be able to rescue another.
The like of this portent has preceded, but here it is repeated as an introduction to another topic. For with the completion of a discussion about the Jews, the Christians and the partnerists, the theme turns to the topic of Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, and his sons, and the construction of the Ka'bah. These matters pertained to all three groups, though they took place long before the history of the Jews and the Christians.
And when His Master tried Ibrạhịm with words, and he completed them, He said, ‘Indeed I am putting thou as a Leader for the people!'
He said, ‘And of my offspring?'
He said, ‘My covenant reaches not the wrongful.'
And when His Master tried Ibrạhịm with words, and he completed them,... Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, was tested by Allah. ‘Words' is given for kalimạt, the literal meaning, though what is intended here is commands, for in Arabic ‘a word' (kalimah) is sometimes used for ‘an order'. Yet it is not remote that what is meant is the precise, customary meaning, so that the portent means that Allah tried Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, with some words that He spoke to him, or which the angel with him delivered to his heart. It is likely that the words concerned the slaughter of Ismạ'ịl, bliss be upon him, or the struggle against the tyrant Nimrụd. In any case, Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, fulfilled those words, in the sense that he obeyed the command perfectly without any fault.
...He said, ‘Indeed I am putting thou as a Leader for the people!'... Allah the Most High informed him that He had made him an ‘Imam' or ‘Leader’ for the people. An ‘imam' is one who is followed. ‘The people' is given for al–nạs, meaning the people in general, all of them. There is no inconsistency between Ibrạhịm's previously being a Prophet and a Messenger, and his not being the universal Imam. He then attained to that as a reward for his fulfilling the words.
...He said,’... Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, replied to this by beseeching Allah the Most High:
...’And of My offspring?’... That is: would Allah make Imams of his seed, his descendants? The translation follows the form of the request as expressed in the Arabic, in which it is perfectly polite and reverential. Allah's reply to Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, was that:
...He said, ‘My covenant reaches not the wrongful.'.' This reply amounted to an affirmative with additional information, for its implicit meaning is: Yes, I shall establish some of your descendents as Imams, but only those among them who are not among the wrongful (al–żạlimịn). In this way the exalted station of the Imamat is brought out.
And, when We established the House as a place of return for the people, and as a sanctuary – and take the station of Ibrạhịm as a place of prayer – and We covenanted to Ibrạhịm and Ismạ’ịl that they cleanse My house for the encirclers, and the secluders, and the bowers, the prostrators.
And, when We established the House as a place of return for the people,... That is: ‘And recount, O Messenger, when Allah established the sacred house at Makkah as a ‘place of return’ (mathạbah) for the people, in that the people in general return to it year after year, though each and every individual does not return.
...and as a sanctuary... The sacred house is a sanctuary, in that killing is not allowed there, and whoso takes refuge there is safe, for the punishments cannot be exacted upon anyone while he is there.
...– and take the position of Ibrạhịm as a place of prayer –... This is an interjection, addressed to all the Muslims, as is evident from the plural form used in ‘and take' (wa ‘ttakhizụ). The ‘station' (given for maqạm) of Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, is the stone on which he stood in order to build the upper part of the Ka'bah. It still stands close by the Ka'bah today. In Hajj one must complete the circulation (tawạf) about the house with prayer performed at or near the station of Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him.
...and We covenanted to Ibrạhịm and Ismạ’ịl that they cleanse My house The cleansing of the house to which Ibrạhịm and Ismạ'ịl, father and son, bliss be upon them, were commanded to undertake was spiritual, in that they were not to permit the placing of idols therein, and material, by keeping it clean and in good order. This they were to do:
...for the encirclers,...-‘The encirlers’: those who go round it in performing tawạf.
...and the secluders,... That is, those who withdraw therein, for the purpose of worshipping in i’tikạf, having issues and rules clarified in the books of fiqh.
...and the bowers, the prostrators. In other words for the people who wish to perform the prayer there.
And, when Ibrạhịm said, ‘My Master, put-this as a secure land, and provision its folk with fruits– whoso among them believes in Allah and the last day.’
He said, ‘And whoso disbelieves – I shall please him a little, then I shall force him to the chastisement of the fire; and atrocious is the outcome!'
And, when Ibrạhịm said,... That is: And recount, O Messenger of Allah, when Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, said in his supplication to Allah:
...‘My Master, put this... It means Makkah, in which the house is built.
...as a secure land,... ‘Secure’ is given for ạminan, meaning secure against dangers. Alternatively, it could mean a place legislated in the divine law as a place of safety, or sanctuary; though the former seems more appropriate.
...and provision its folk with. fruits – whoso among them believes in Allah and the last day.’... Ibrạhịm's prayer for fruits is limited to those who believe; for the others he asks nothing
...He said, ‘And whoso disbelieves – I shall please him a little, then I shall force him to the chastisement of the fire; and atrocious is the outcome!' Allah's reply to Ibrạhịm shows that his prayer was granted with an increase, to the effect that: ‘Whosoever from the people of this city disbelieves – We shall not deny him the fruits. Rather We shall let him enjoy life, provision, safety and the other comforts for a while, for life in the world is short; but then We shall oblige him to enter the fire. He shall be made to go, as noone will go of his own accord, for it is the foulest of places to go home to.'
And, when Ibrạhịm was raising the foundations of the House, and Ismạ‘ịl: ‘Our Master, accept from us; indeed Thou are the Hearing, the Knowing.'
And, when Ibrạhịm was raising the foundations of the House, and Ismạ‘ịl:... That is: ‘And recount, O Messenger, when Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, was building the foundation of the sacred house in Makkah, and in that sense raising its foundations above the earth, while Ismạ'ịl, bliss be upon him, his son, was assisting him.
...‘Our Master, accept from us; indeed Thou are the Hearing, the Knowing.'-While they were working they prayed: ‘O our Master, accept this, our building of the house; indeed Thou are the Hearer of our prayers, the Knowing of what we do and what we intend.' Their prayer continued:
‘Our Master, and make us two muslims to Thee, and from our offspring a nation muslim to Thee, and show us our piety-places, and relent over us; indeed Thou are the Oft-Relenting, the Compassionate!
‘Our Master, and make us two muslims to Thee,... That is, submissive to Him in all things. Their praying to be Muslims does not mean that they were not Muslims before their prayer. Islam, like all beliefs and works, needs to be continuous, and this depends upon guidance from Allah and His granting success. Commencing in Islam takes place only with His help, glorified be He, and continuing within it is the same. Thus we pray, ‘Guide us the straight road.'
...and from our offspring a muslim nation,... They sought Islam for their descendents, Islam being the submission to Allah, glorified be He, in belief, word and deed.
...and show us our piety-places... ‘Piety-places' is coined for manạsik, the plural form of mansak, meaning places of nask, an act of piety, worship. And Allah answered their prayer, in that Jibrạ.ịl, bliss be upon him, showed them the places for the Hajj prayers, its sojourns and so forth.
...and relent over us;... That is, ‘Turn to us in mercy and forgiveness.’ ‘Relent' is given for tub, from tawba, which literally means ‘return’; thus Allah is al-Tawwạb (translated as ‘The Oft-Relenting’), meaning that He returns often to His servants. From this it is clear that there is no proof to the view that Ibrạhịm and Ismạ'ịl, bliss be upon them, had sinned.
...indeed Thou are the Oft-Relenting, the Compassionate.' Allah returns often to His slaves, and is merciful to them.
‘Our Master, and raise among them a Messenger from among them, reciting to them Thy portents, and teaching them the book and the wisdom, and purifying them, indeed Thou, Thou are the Grand, the Wise.’
Their prayer continued: ‘Our Master! And raise amongst the muslim nation we pray for, a Messenger from that same nation, not from another nation, so that they may have the honour of having that Messenger being from amongst themselves....
...reciting to them Thy portents... ‘Portents', given for ạyạt, in this context means His proofs and laws.
...and teaching them the book... This means the Quran, or it means ‘the book of Allah' in the general sense.
...and the wisdom... Wisdom (ĥikmah) is the placing of each thing in its proper place. ‘Teaching wisdom' means teaching them the physical and spiritual sciences; for the ignorant are unable to place things in their proper place, being ignorant of that place.
...and purifying them... That is, purifying them of base and impure ethics and behaviour.
...indeed Thou are the Grand,... ‘Grand' is given for ‘azịz. Tied up in this word is the idea of being rare, precious, so that whatever is ‘azịz must exist in limited numbers, and be greatly sought and needed by others. Allah, therefore, is genuinely the ‘Azịz, as He is both Grand and precious, for He is One without any partner, and the entire world of existence is in need of Him.
...the Wise... All His works are the expression of wisdom. The prayer of these two Messengers, too, was the essence of wisdom.
This is the path of Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him:
And who shrinks from the community of Ibrạhịm, but for him who makes a fool of himself? Certainly We chose him in the world, and indeed in the hereafter he is among the virtuous.
Who turns from this path of theism and surrender and the other things mentioned that prove the excellence of this path? Other than him who has given himself to foolishness? It means that none forsake this community but those who deliver themselves to idiocy and foolishness. Is their path better than this path? The question ‘who shrinks...’ is for negation.
...We chose him in the world, and indeed in the hereafter he is among the virtuous.... That is, for the sake of that straight and upright path, Allah chose Ibrạhịm as a Messenger in the world, while in the hereafter he is most surely among the virtuous, who gain the accomplishment of the loftiest levels.
When his Master said to him: ‘Be Muslim'
He said, ‘I make myself Muslim to the Master of the worlds.'
When His Master said to him... It is an adjunct to the line, ‘We chose him in the world,...’ of the previous portent.
...Be muslim...:-That is, ‘Be Muslim for Allah in all that is yours!'
...He said... That is, Ibrạhịm said
...'I make myself Muslim to the Master of the worlds.' That is, ‘I have yielded in Islam for the Master of the worlds, the one alone, who has no partner!' The meaning of Islam here is standing firm in Islam, and being fixed in monotheism, or tawĥịd. It is like the address to the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House: ‘Know that there is no god but Allah.' Or like we might say to one who is sitting somewhere, ‘Sit here until ten’, for example.
And Ibrạhịm enjoined his sons with it and so did Ya'qụb: ‘O my sons! Allah has chosen for ye the religion, so be sure not to die unless ye be Muslims.'
And Ibrạhịm enjoined his sons with it... Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, charged his sons with the community and the path he walked. His enjoining it upon his sons is given particular mention, despite his call having been to all, so as to indicate that it is necessary to call one's family to the truth in a special way, as He says, ‘Guard yourselves and your families against a fire...’ ( al-Taĥrịm, ‘The Banning’ ; 7).
...and so did Ya'qụb:... Ya'qụb, Ibrạhịm's grandson through Ishạq, enjoined his sons in the same way. Ya'qụb is singled out on account of his being the father of the Jews.
...Allah has chosen for ye the religion,...The meaning is that Allah, glorified be He, has given them the religion, andwants them to be on it, as opposed to those wild peoples whom the call of the Messengers never reached.
...so be sure not to die unless ye be Muslims.' It means: never leave Islam lest while you are away from it death should come upon you. The special emphasis on death is because should a person not be Muslim, and then accept Islam and thereupon die, he has no difficulty.
Or were ye witnesses when death came to Ya'qụb, when he asked his sons, 'What will ye worship after me?'
They said, ‘We shall worship your God, and the God of thy fathers, Ibrạhịm and Ismạ'ịl and Ishạq, the One God; and we are Muslims to Him!'
Or were ye witnesses when death came to Ya'qụb,... The address is to those who claimed that the Prophets were Jews or Christian, for the Jews used to say that Ya'qụb bequeathed his sons Judaism. And so Allah contradicts them, reminding them that they were not present ‘when death came to Ya'qụb,' meaning when he was close to dying.
...when he asked his sons, 'What will ye worship after me?'... His question ‘what will you worship after me?' was not interrogative, but stipulative.
...They said, ‘We shall worship your God, and the God of thy fathers, Ibrạhịm and Ismạ'ịl and Ishạq,... Ibrạhịm was Ya'qụb's great-uncle, Ismạ'ịl was his uncle and Isĥạq was his father. Ismạ'ịl's mention precedes that of Ishạq as he was older in age and higher in rank. The uncle is called father in Arabic, just as the aunt is called mother.
...the One God; and we are Muslims to him!' Their religion was Islam, and Islam was the religion of all the Prophets, for Islam means submission to Allah in all He commands and all He forbids. Allah's denying that the religion of the Prophets was Judaism or Christian, is His denying it in the sense used by the book-folk themselves. Otherwise, their religions had no name, as is clear.
An important reality is then clarified; namely, that a community that has passed away was not the concern of the Messenger's contemporaries, but that their concern was their own actions. Whatever the condition of that community, it has passed away:
That is a nation that has vacated; it has what it earned, and ye have what ye earn; and ye shall not be questioned as to what they did.
That... That is, the community of Ibrạhịm and his sons
...is a nation that has vacated... It has passed away.
...it has what it earned... Its actions accrue to itself, not to anyone else.
...and ye have what ye earn... People's action accrue to themselves, not to others.
...and ye shall not be questioned as to what they did. The address, in the plural, is to the contemporaries of the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House. They were reminded that they were answerable only for themselves, and should therefore rectify themselves.
And they say, be a Jew or a Christian, ye shall be guided. Say, ‘Nay, the community of Ibrạhịm, upward, and he was not among the partnerists.'
And they say, be a Jew or a Christian, ye shall be guided.... That is, the Jews would say, ‘Be a Jew,' and the Christians would say, ‘Be a Christian.'
...Say, ‘Nay, the community of Ibrạhịm,... The Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, was to tell them to follow the community and religion of Ibrạhịm, which was free of the faults of Judaism and Christianity, and which was pristine Islam—notwithstanding the differences between Islam and the religion of Ibrạhịm in some of the finer details.
...upward,... They were to follow it in a direct and upright (ĥanịf) manner.
...and he was not among the partnerists.... Ibrạhịm was no polytheist, as are the Jews and Christians. From this it becomes clear that the meaning of following the community of Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, was to follow it in monotheism.
Say: ‘We believe in Allah and that sent down to us, and that sent down to Ibrạhịm, Ismạ'ịl, Ishạq, Ya'qụb and the grandsons, and that brought to Mụsạ and ‘Ịsạ, and that brought to the Prophets from their Master – we distinguish not between any of them – and we are Muslims to Him.
Say:... The address, in the plural, is to the Muslims, that they say that which is mandatory upon them to believe, which is the essence of the previous and subsequent religions, and which pinpoints the falseness of Judaism, Christianity and suchlike:
...‘We believe in Allah and that sent down to us, and that sent down to Ibrạhịm, Ismạ'ịl, Ishạq, Ya'qụb and the grandsons,... Many of Ya'qụb's descendents were Prophets upon whom scripture was sent down.
...and that brought to Mụsạ and ‘Ịsạ, and that brought to the Prophets...-Without exception.
...from their Master – we distinguish not between any of them –... We acknowledge them all.
...and we are Muslims to Him. We are the Muslims of Allah, glorified be He.
The religion of all the Messengers can be summarised in the three areas of ‘roots’ (usụl), branches (furụ') and human qualities, or dispositional ethics (akhlạq). The roots are the principles of belief: monotheism, divine justice, Prophethood, Imamat or ‘Leadership’, and the Universal Return. Every Messenger confirmed his predecessor and gave the glad tidings of his successor, and so too with Imamat, in the meaning of ‘Executorship’ (al-wasạyah) for every Prophet had ‘Executors’ (awsịyạ).
The branches are the ordinances upon us: the prayer, the fast, the zakạt and similar acts of worship; and the laws of transaction, in the most general sense. All the religions had these things in common, with some minor differences appropriate to the demands of the period and the condition and circumstances of each community. Fasting, for example, was to take place on a Saturday in some religions, but not in Islam; and so forth.
Ethics, or human qualities and dispositions: honesty, trustworthiness, reliability, loyalty, shame, and suchlike. These are all the innate constitution of the pristine self; and all the Messengers sought to elevate them and eradicate their opposing qualities or vices.
So if they believe like unto that which ye believe, then they are certainly guided; and if they turn back, then it is them who are in schism. And Allah will suffice thee against them; He is the Hearing, the Knowing.
So if they believe like unto that which ye believe, then they are certainly guided;... If those who were not Muslims were to believe in that which the Muslims believe in, then they would most certainly be guided to the truth.
.... So if they believe like unto that which ye believe, then they are certainly guided;.. But if they turn away from such a faith, and stick to their deviated path, then they are in schism. ‘Schism' is put for shiqạq, meaning that they are in disagreement, as though each is standing in a different crevice.
...and Allah will suffice thee... O Messenger of Islam.
...against them;...-He will make you victorious against them.
...He is the Hearing... of their words.
...the Knowing. of their deeds and intentions.
The tincture of Allah! And who is superior to Allah for tincture? And we are His worshippers.
The tincture of Allah!... That is: we follow the tincture, the colour, of Allah, glorified be He. The ‘tincture' (sibghah) of Allah is Islam. Each path followed by a person has a tincture, or colour, though this colour is not material, but spiritual.
...And who is superior to Allah for tincture?... The question has the sense of negation, meaning that noone is better than Allah for tincture.
...And we are His worshippers. We worship none other, such as the idols that the opponents worshipped along with Allah, glorified be He, or instead of Him.
It has been suggested that the reason for using the word sibghah is that the Christians used a yellowcoloured water for their baptism that tinctured their children when they were immersed in it. The ạyah is metaphorical, as in His word where ‘Ịsạ, bliss be upon him, says, ‘...Thou know what is in my spirit, but I know not what is in Thy spirit.' (al-Mạ.ida, ‘The Spread’ : 117)
Say, ‘Do ye dispute with us about Allah – He is our Master and your Master; while ours are our deeds and yours are your deeds; and we are pure-hearted for Him.
Say,... The Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, was to say to the Jews and the Christians and the others:
...‘Do ye dispute with us about Allah... That is: do you dispute and argue with us about the religion of Allah, saying that He has not abrogated your religions? And not chosen a Messenger from the ‘Arabs? and so on?
...He is our Master and your Master... He is not the Master of any limited group alone, so as to be with then forever.
...Ours are our deeds and yours are your deeds... It is not the case that the deeds of a particular group are regarded by Allah, while the deeds of others are disregarded, as was imagined by those who called themselves the chosen people, or the sons of Allah, or His beloveds.
...and we are pure-hearted for Him.'‘Pure-hearted’ is given for mukhlisịn. The Messenger and his community are to Him sincere and pure-hearted; unlike others, and partner none unto Him.
Or say ye that Ibrạhịm and Ismạ'ịl and Ishạq and Ya'qụb and the grandsons were Jews, or Christians? Say: ‘Are ye more knowing or is Allah? And who is more wrongful than whoso conceals alongside himself a testimony from Allah? And Allah is not heedless of what ye do.
Or say ye that Ibrạhịm and Ismạ'ịl and Ishạq and Ya'qụb and the grandsons were Jews, or Christians?... That is: And say: Or do you dispute with us about the matter of the Prophets, and say that Ibrạhịm, Ismạ'ịl, Ishạq, Ya'qụb and the grandsons—that is, those of the descendents of Ya'qụb who were Prophets— were Jews, or Christians? Their mistake was evident since the birth of Judaism and Christianity took place after Ibrạhịm; how, then, was Ibrạhịm one of them? Elsewhere Allah says, ‘And the Torah and the Gospel were not sent down but after him... (Ạl ‘Imrạn, ‘The House of ‘Imrạn’ : 66).
...Say: ‘Are ye more knowing or is Allah?... The Messenger was to say to those who claimed that those Prophets were Jews or Christians, and in effect he was to ask them: do you know more about it or does Allah know more about it? Allah says they were not Jews and not Christians, while you say they were?!
...And who is more wrongful than whoso conceals alongside himself a testimony from Allah?...-That is, noone is more wrongful than a person who conceals a testimony he has with him from Allah. The Jews concealed the guidance and clarifications that had been sent down to them about the previous Prophets and about the Messenger of Islam.
...Allah is not heedless of what ye do.' Allah is aware of all actions, like their concealing the testimony, and He shall requite them.
That is a nation that has vacated; it has what it earned, and ye have what ye earn; and ye shall not be questioned as to what they did.
‘That' means that group of Prophets, whose deeds and religiosity is nothing to anyone else, as it all pertains to a community that has passed on. That community has what it earned with its deeds and actions, while the Messenger's contemporaries had the good and evil they earned. Underlying all this is the question: so why all these arguments and disputes about them?
The fools among the people will say, ‘What has turned them from their Qiblah they were on?'
Say, ‘Allah's is the east and the west; He guides whom He wills to a straight road.'
The fools among the people will say, ‘What has turned them from their Qiblah they were on?'... It means that the fools among the people would be asking why the Muslims had changed their Qiblah, which is the direction they face in prayer, away from Jerusalem. For the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, and the Muslims used to pray in the direction of Jerusalem, the Qiblah of the Jews; then, in Madịna, the Qiblah was changed to the Ka'bah. The reason, as is apparent from this, was that the Jews found fault with the Messenger for his praying in the direction of their Qiblah, and so Allah changed it to the Ka'bah. Then they tried to use the change of Qiblah as a means of embarrassment.
Say:... The Messenger was to say to them:
...’Allah's is the east and the west;... Therefore it is for Him to direct the faces of His servants in whichever direction He likes. The Qiblah is not something monopolised by any place, that it cannot be changed for another. He was also to remind them that:
...He guides whom He wills to a straight road.’Just as the straight road was to be facing Jerusalem as a Qiblah, so the direction now to be facing was towards the Ka'bah.
Just so We put ye as an intermediate nation, so that ye be witnesses over the people, and that over ye the Messenger be a witness. We did not put the Qiblah ye were on but that We might know whoso follows the Messenger from whoso turns on his heels, even if it was truly hard save upon those Allah guided. And Allah is not such as to waste your faith, indeed Allah to the people is kindly, merciful.
Just so We put ye as an intermediate nation,... That is, in this way of things, just as the east and the west belongs to Allah without question, so too He established the Muslims as a midmost nation. Of course, the penetrative interpretation (ta.wịl) is that the portent is addressed to the Imams, bliss be upon them, and that they are the intermediate nation. ‘Midmost' is given for wasatan. The sense is general, and would seem to imply that the Muslims are midmost in all things – in belief, being neither fanatical nor lax; in temporal location, being between the east and the west; in the Law (sharị'ah), which is neither insufficient nor excessive; and so on—were it not for His word:
...so that ye be witnesses over the people, and that over ye the Messenger be a witness... This implies that the meaning of wasatan is an intermediary position between the Messenger and the rest of the people. The ‘nation' takes from the Messenger, and the Messenger testifies as a witness to their taking it from him, so that they cannot say that they did not know. The rest of the people then take it from the ‘nation', and the ‘nation' testify as witnesses that they took it from them, so that they cannot say they did not know. This is clear from the ‘causal lạm’ (lạm al–'illah) translated as ‘so that' in ‘so that you be witnesses....’
Perhaps the connection with this portent and the law concerning the Qiblah is that it indicates that the Muslims have a position of leadership, in that they take from the Messenger and deliver to the people; and so it is fitting for them to have their own Qiblah, so as not to be scorned by others.
The theme then returns to the law concerning the Qiblah:
...We did not put the Qiblah ye were on... The Qiblah they were on was Jerusalem. The Messenger prayed in that direction throughout the whole of the Makkan period of his mission, and for a period after his hijrah to Madịna.
...but that We might know whoso follows the Messenger from whoso turns on his heels,...The meaning of the phrase ‘but that We might know' (illạ li na'lam) is ‘so that Our knowledge become real in objective existence'. This knowledge is of those who obey and of those who oppose. Sometimes it is said ‘so that we might know' when what is meant is that the speaker might know, whereas at others what is meant is that the known thing becomes real in the external or objective world. In some commentaries it is stated that a group turned on their backs when the Qiblah was changed, and so it became clear that they were not genuinely following the Messenger, but rather what they followed was merely their desires.
...even if it was truly hard save upon those Allah guided.... This changing of the Qiblah was a big thing, for it meant the breaking of a deeplyembedded habit, but for those whom Allah guided, and whose hearts He strengthened.
...And Allah is not such as to waste your belief,... Those Muslims who were firm and steady in following the Messenger are here congratulated for their firmness, and assured of the reward for their complete faith.
It is likely that this comes in response to the questions of some as to whether the prayers they had performed towards the Qiblah of Jersualem would be accepted or not. However, what is most apparent from the word ịmạn, belief, is the first meaning.
...indeed Allah to the people is kindly, merciful.... Therefore, their obedience and deeds will not be wasted.
Having clarified the ruling that the Qiblah is changed, Allah the Most High explains the story behind the change, since it is as a cause of the ruling that has preceded; and the reason or cause of any ruling is always subsequent in speech to the ruling itself; so that we might say, for example, that such and such person ‘is good, for he had a good upbringing':
Truly We have seen thee revolving thy face in the sky; so most surely We turn thee towards a Qiblah thou are content with. So turn thy face towards a piece of the Sacred Masjid – and wherever ye are, turn your faces to its piece. Indeed those granted the book truly know it is the truth from their Master; and Allah is not heedless of what they do.
Truly We have seen thee revolving thy face in the sky;... The address, in the singular, is to the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House. ‘In the sky' means in the direction of the sky; for the Messenger would turn his face about the directions of the sky, in expectation of revelation about the Qiblah, as the Jews had been taunting him about his ‘following their Qiblah'. One night the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, left the city and turned his face about the various horizons of the sky. That morning he performed the early morning prayers, and later that day the noon prayers, which consists of four cycles. With the completion of two of the cycles (rak'atain), Jibra'il, bliss be upon him, came with this ạyah,. Then he took the Messenger's hand and turned him about to face the Ka'bah, while those behind him turned to face that way themselves, until the men stood where the ladies had stood, and the ladies where the men had stood.
...so most surely We turn thee towards a Qiblah thou are content with.... The Messenger loved the Ka'bah, for it was built by his forefather, Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, and round and about it was his homeland.
...So turn thy face towards a piece of the Sacred Masjid...-The part or piece of the Sacred Masjid is the Ka'bah. The Sacred Masjid encloses the Ka'bah, therefore whoso faces the Sacred Masjid from a distance faces the Ka'bah.
...– whatever your circumstances... Here the address is to the Muslims:
...turn your faces towards it.... The mention of faces throughout this ạyah is because the face is the part of the body with which the human being pays attention.
...Indeed those granted the book... The Jews and the Christians who made objections to the Muslims saying that if the Qiblah they had been on was right, then why did they change it? And if it was not right, then why had they been on it?
...truly know it is the truth from their Master;... They knew that the change of Qiblah, or the new Qiblah, was the truth from Allah, for Allah, glorified be He, has His servants serve Him how He likes. They knew that it is perfectly feasible for Him to have His servants serve Him in one way for a while, and then, when circumstances change, to have them serve Him in another.
...and Allah is not heedless of what they do. He is not heedless of what the book-folk were doing: their spreading lies and rumours, their ideological propaganda about the change of Qiblah and about the other affairs concerning the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House.
And truly if thou brought the book-folk every portent, they would not follow thy Qiblah! And nor are thou a follower of their Qiblah—nor do some of them follow the Qiblah of others. Truly if thou were to follow their vanities after what has come to thee, the knowledge, indeed thou would then be among the wrongful.
And truly if thou brought the book-folk every portent, they would not follow thy Qiblah!.... The address is to the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House. The Jews and Christians had become such that no matter what ạyah or portent was brought to them, proving that his Qiblah was the truth, still they would not follow it. In other words, they are obstinate, stubborn, die-hard opponents upon whom proofs and portents are wasted, for the fanatical are never profited by proof.
...And nor are thou a follower of their Qiblah... And the Messenger was no follower of their Qiblah, once he knew that their Qiblah was abrogated. This is like His word, ‘I worship not what ye worship, and ye are not worshippers of what I worship... (al–Kạfirụn, ‘The Disbelievers’).
...nor do some of them follow the Qiblah of others.... The Jews and the Christians each had different Qiblahs.
...Truly if thou were to follow their vanities after what has come to thee, the knowledge, indeed thou would then be among the wrongful.-Had the Messenger followed their vanities in the Qiblah and other matters of Law, after the knowledge that had come to him about the invalidity of their paths, then indeed he would have been amongst the wrongful. Although this is addressed to the Messenger, in meaning it is general, and does not contradict his condition of ‘protectedness (‘ism'ah) from sin’, since for a conditional phrase to be meaningful does not require that both aspects be feasible, but only one.
Those whom We granted the book recognise him like they recognise their own sons; indeed a division of them truly hide the truth, and they know.
Those whom We granted the book recognise him like they recognise their own sons;... The Jews and Christians knew the Messenger like they know their own sons. Or it might mean that they knew that the changing of the Qiblah was by the command of Allah; though the former meaning is closer to the style of the simile.
...indeed a division of them truly conceal the truth, and they know.... A section of those who failed to believe in the Messenger had ‘hidden the truth, knowingly.' Therefore they could not use the excuse of ignorance, such that it might be hoped that it would come to an end. Rather their problem was one for which there is no cure.
The truth from thy Master, so be sure not to be among the vacillators.
The truth from thy Master,... The address is to the Messenger. The truth is from ‘alongside’ Allah, as explained above.
...so be sure not to be among the vacillators.-Whoso is on the truth, whenever he is subjected to numerous criticisms and objections, and is accused of being on a false path, will of a time doubt about it. Therefore Allah, glorified be He, fortified the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, as the Most High says, ‘And had We not fixed thee, thou were near to inclining to them somewhat.' (al-Isrạ. ‘The Ascension’ : 75)
And for each is a direction, He is their turner, so race in the goodlinesses. Wherever ye are Allah will bring ye out, all-together; indeed Allah over all things is-powerful.
And for each is a direction, He is their turner,... For each nation is a direction. He, Allah, glorified be He, turns them towards it, by commanding them to face it. The implication is that there is nothing strange about the Muslims having their own Qiblah.
...so race in the goodlinesses..... It means compete against each other in doing good: this is the path towards which Allah turns and directs His Muslims, therefore they should not remain fixed upon the abrogated path, for that would be deviation from good towards evil. ‘He' is put for huwa. It is possible that this pronoun refers in the portent to the word ‘each' (kul). Accordingly, the meaning would be that for each nation or community is a path, upon which each person is the ‘turner’ or director of his own self; and it is for each party and individual of them to compete, each against the other, in performing virtuous deeds.
...Wherever ye are... in the earth,
...Allah will bring you all, out together... On the day of resurrection, to be requited for our actions.
...indeed Allah over all things is powerful. He is able to gather all of the people, and shall not overlook a single one. The change of Qiblah towards the Ka'bah took place for several reasons. First, the enthusiasm of the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, that the Qiblah be changed, which was largely due to the mockery of the Jews. Second, it was changed for ‘the truth' (al-haqq), meaning that it was changed so that the Muslims would have a distinction to mark them from the other communities, even in the direction of their prayer. Third, the change was made to complete the argument against those of the people who were questioning how it was that the Muslims called people to a new religion, and yet followed the Qiblah of the sons of Israel.
In conformity with these different reasons, the command to face the direction of the Sacred Masjid is repeated, in His word:
So from wherever thou come out, turn thy face to a piece of the Sacred Masjid; indeed it is the truth from thy Master. Allah is not heedless of what ye do.
So from wherever thou come out... It means come out of the city on a journey.
...turn thy face to a piece of the Sacred Masjid;... It means that the Ka'bah is the Qiblah when journeying just as it is when at home. Here is another reason for the repetition.
...indeed is the truth from thy Master... That is, this directing the faces towards the Sacred Masjid is the truth from Allah.
...Allah is not heedless of what ye do. Therefore, he who turns away from this Qiblah will have an evil recompense, while he who follows it will have a recompense that is beautiful.
And from wherever thou come out, turn thy face to a piece of the Sacred Masjid.
And wherever ye be, turn your faces to that piece; so that the people have no argument against ye, save for those of them who are wrongful—so fear them not, and fear Me—and that I complete My blessing upon ye, and that ye be guided.
Upon departing on a journey, we are to face the Qiblah of the Sacred Masjid, as we are indeed when we are not travelling. This ạyah combines ‘From wherever thou come out...' (ạyah 150), and ...wherever you find yourselves, turn your faces to its piece... (ạyah 145). As the reader now knows, the repetition is for the purpose of conveying the reason given in this ạyah:
...so that the people have no argument against ye,... It means that the change of Qiblah was for the purpose of finalising the argument against those of the people who criticised the Muslims for expounding a new religion, while their Qiblah was that of the book-folk.
...save for those of them who are wrongful... Such people do not benefit from logic; he who is stubbornly opposed takes no benefit from proof and reason.
...—so fear them not, and fear Me... Fear owes its existence to an expectation of benefit or of harm, which is all in the hand of Allah alone, glorified be He.
...—and that I complete My blessing upon ye,... The change of Qiblah was made as a furtherance of Allah's blessing upon the Muslims, marking them apart from the book-folk, putting an end to the mockery of the Jews, and returning them to the building of their grandfather, Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, and so enhancing their renown.
...and that ye be guided. That is, guided to the truth with a perfect guidance; for honouring a person with any honour is a cause of making that person closer to being perfectly guided.
Just as We dispatched among ye a Messenger from among yourselves, reciting upon ye Our portents and purifying ye and teaching ye the book and the wisdom, and teaching ye what ye were not knowing.
Just as... This furthering of Allah's blessing upon the Muslims was in the same spirit as His blessing them with a greater blessing:
...We dispatched among ye... O Muslims,
...a Messenger from among yourselves... The Messenger was not from another people, but from themselves. This was a blessing, in that His message was delivered by one of themselves.
...reciting upon ye Our portents ... He recited upon them Allah's portents, His portents of the Quran.
...and purifying ye... He purified them of the uncleanliness of the state of ignorance they had been in, and of the ethical vices and of physical uncleanliness; and this he did by his guiding them to those portents.
...And teaching ye the book... It is clear that to recite is not to learn, and one who teaches to recite is not a teacher. Moreover, teaching implies the meaning of knowledge settling and becoming fixed.
...and the wisdom,... It means guiding them to the proper place of things, and knowing the right place of things from their wrong place. The meaning of wisdom has been given; it is to place things in their rightful places.
...and teaching ye what ye knew not. This is general, including useful accounts and histories, the conditions and circumstances of the Prophets, and the conditions of the Return, all of it beneficial for their religion and their worldly lives.
So recall Me, I will recall ye; and thank Me, and disbelieve not.
O Muslims (for the address is in the plural), remember Allah, glorified be He, with obedience and worship, and by implementing the laws. He will remember ye, with blessings and goodness and gardens. And thank Him, by manifesting the blessings and praising Him in return for them. And do not disbelieve, whether the disbelief is in matters of faith, or whether it is disbelief in deeds, in the sense of failing to act in accordance to His laws.
O ye who believe, seek help through restraint and the prayer; indeed Allah is with the restrainers.
O ye who believe, seek help... The believers are to seek help in the things they want, whether under their control or whether, like health and wealth, they are beyond their control. And they are to seek this help through constraint (sabr), for many affairs are resolved after some time, and when a person is constrained, his affairs become resolved and he is in a happy condition and confident; but when unconstrained his power drains away and he feels restricted and depressed.
And they are to seek this help through the prayer, for the prayer causes a person to concentrate upon Allah, glorified be He, and to turn away from the world, which in turn illuminates the heart with confidence and tranquillity, and fosters the quality of giving no importance to the world's deceits and vanities.
...Indeed Allah is with the restrainers. He is with them in kindness, generosity, mercy, recompense, reward and so forth.
In this way the individual and the nation are polished and guided to a matter of great importance to them, and furnished with the idea of the need for patience and endurance. For now the wise Quran progresses to another step for them, after constraint and prayer, informing them they have no choice but to pay the price of leadership: bloodshed and the other afflictions that afflict anyone who seeks reform and guidance. Thus He says, glorified be He:
And say not of whoso is killed in Allah’s path they are dead; nay, they are alive, but ye notice not.
The dead make no impression on the world, and have no furtherance. Yet those killed in the path of Allah are not ‘dead', but ‘alive'. In the world they are genuinely alive with the impressions they make, and with their continuance. As for the hereafter, there they are stationed in blessings.
...though ye notice not. For most people life is a matter of sensation and movement, the simplest most superficial meaning of being alive.
And truly We try ye with something of fear and hunger and loss of wealths and lives and fruits; and give glad tidings to the restrainers:
And truly We try ye with something of fear...Muslims are to be tested with something of fear. ‘Something' is given for shay.in, meaning ‘a thing'. This term is used either to indicate that fear is of shortduration in time, or that it generally never reaches its extremity.
...and hunger... Thirst is not mentioned since water is generally abundant.
...and loss of wealths... Such losses may occur due to wealth being sacrificed in war, or plundered during a period of civil unrest, or due to economic sanctions, and suchlike.
...and lives... Lives lost by those killed in the way of Allah, glorified be He.
...and fruits;... Fruits are lost in disturbances and commotion, in the taxes of authorities, or taken by the enemy, such as the command of the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, at the siege of Khandaq, that the Muslims harvest the crop so that the disbelievers not benefit from them—as recorded in some of the histories—or other such reasons.
...and give glad tidings to the restrainers. Those who are constrainers in the face of such trials, they are those deserving of the good news from their Master.
Who, when an affliction afflicts them, say: ‘Indeed we are Allah's, and to Him we are returners.'
Those deserving of the good news are those who know, even in the time of their misfortune, that they belong to Allah, glorified be He, and they are to Him returning, for with Him are their accounts and their rewards. In this phrase is a consolation for the afflicted, in that he who acknowledges that all he has belongs to Allah, thinks little of the loss of some of it, for the owner of a thing may take it. Accordingly, a person's belief that Allah is the rewarder makes his affairs easy, for what He takes He will make up for. Therefore, he who repeats this phrase whenever in difficulties, while mindful of what it means and attentive towards Allah, glorified be He, and with constrainers resignation and submission, finds the cool breeze of confidence within his heart.
Those, upon them are condescensions from their Master, and mercy; and those, they are the guided.
...Those, upon them are condescensions from their Master,...‘Condescensions' is given for salawạt. The meaning is to bend, to incline; inclinations from Allah are His attention with blessings and good fortune and beauty.
...And mercy... in the world and the hereafter.
...and those, they are the guided. They are guided to the reality of the affair, which will profit them in the world and in the hereafter. They sacrifice what they sacrifice in the way of Allah, and do so contented and contented with.
Having previously indicated jihạd, now comes an indication about the Hajj, for they are as twins in endurance and difficulty. He says, glorified be He:
Indeed Safạ and Marwah are among the tokens of Allah; so whoso does Hajj of the House or does ‘Umrah – no stain is on him for circulating by them; and whoso volunteers good, indeed Allah is thankful, knowing.
Indeed Safạ and Marwah are among the tokens of Allah;... Safạ and Marwah are two hills near the Sacred Masjid. ‘Tokens' is given for sha'ạ.ir, plural of sha'ịrah, a word derived from whatever clothing touches the hair (sh'ar) of the body; therefore, whatever is intimately connected to a thing and guides towards it, is one of its sha'ạ.ir, or tokens. The meaning is that the two hills are among the things closely connected to Allah, glorified be He, in that He has established them as a place of worship, for between them His servants perform the sa'ị ritual.
...so whoso does Hajj of the house or does ‘Umrah...‘does Hajj of the house' is given for Hajj al-bayt, which had the literal meaning of ‘intending on the House’, that is, ‘intending on worshipping at, or simply visiting, the House.’ In the same vein, ‘does 'Umrah’ is given for i'tamara, literally meaning ‘to give life (to)' for whoso visits a place gives life to it by visiting it. Hajj and the ’umrah are among the actions of the Hajj.
...no stain is on him for circulating by them... The meaning of ‘circulating by them' is the performance of the sa'ị between them. The term ‘no blame' is used because the Muslims were worried about performing the ritual between them, supposing it to be a ritual of the idolaters, in that upon Safạ had been placed an idol called Asạf, while upon Marwah an idol called Nạ-ilah had been placed. So this is an authorisation to do something they imagined they were not allowed to do. Now, it is known that in such cases the principle is that of permissibility, whereas when one supposes that a thing is obligatory, the principle is that it is not. However, this does not prove their first understanding, for all that is shown is that the true principle is the opposite side. They do not show any characteristics, but that of permissibility and completion.
...and whoso volunteers good,... That is, whoso performs a good deed voluntarily, or spontaneously.
...indeed Allah is thankful,... The meaning of Allah being grateful for deeds is His appreciating them and giving their reward.
...knowing. He is aware of all deeds, and He misses nothing.
Perhaps the connection between the following portents and those that preceded them, is that the Jews and the Christians did not act as the Messenger acted at Safạ and Marwah, since the Messenger put an end to every false practice at the Hajj, and instituted all the rightful practices there. Now, Safạ and Marwah being right, the Messenger confirmed them, even though people imagined them to be false. Yet the book-folk gathered whatever was brought by the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, under the heading of falsehood – even though they knew it was the truth. For this reason the preceding discussion becomes an opening for further criticism of them. It is like someone saying that they acknowledge the truth, although they do not acknowledge that of the truth they know. And Allah knows best:
Indeed those who conceal what We have sent down, the clarifications and the guidance, after We have clarified them for the people in the book – those, Allah curses them and the cursers curse them;
They hid the proofs that proved the truth of Islam that had been sent down in the previous books. They also hid the guidance that they had seen-that was not revelation sent down and not clarifications.
The meaning of Allah's cursing them is that He distances them and removes them from goodness both in the world and in the hereafter, by making things tight for them in the world, and by chastising them in the hereafter.
The cursers who also curse them are those of the people, the angels and the jinn whose curses are effective.
Save for those who repent and rectify and explain – to them I turn, and I am the Oft-Relenting, the Merciful.
The exceptions are those of them who return to follow the truth and make it apparent, and repair the faults in their beliefs and actions, and explain to the people the guidance and clarifications that Allah had sent down. To these exceptions Allah Himself returns, in the sense that He restores goodness and blessings upon them after they had been removed from them on account of their disbelief and concealment. He is the Oft-Relenting or the Oft-Returning (al–Tawwạb), for no matter how many times a person is disobedient and then repents, his repentance is accepted, provided the repentance is sincere. And He is the Merciful when treating His creatures.
Indeed those who disbelieve and die while they are disbelievers – upon them is the curse of Allah and the angels and the people, all-together.
Those who disbelieve and do not repent before they die, and so die in a condition of having rejected the correct beliefs, are cursed by Allah, the angels and the people. This is because they all curse the wrongful, and the disbeliever is wrongful; and therefore, even if the disbeliever is not particularly intended by those who curse the wrongful, yet by being wrongful each disbeliever is included in their curses.
Eternal within it; the chastisement will not be lightened for them, and they will not be regarded.
They are eternally within those curse, for the curses of the world continue into the curses of the hereafter. The chastisement shall not be lightened for them, as Allah's chastisement of the disbelievers has no end. And they shall not be regarded, in the sense that none shall cast a glance of mercy or beneficence their way. Or it means that they shall have no opportunity to offer their excuses; or it means that the chastisement will not be delayed for them.
With this account of the condition of the disbelievers, the theme now turns to explain tawĥịd or monotheism, and the proofs of the Divine oneness:
And your God is a single God; there is no god but He, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
The address, in the plural, is to the people. Allah is the single God, with no partners whatsoever. There is no God but He, and His are the adjectives ‘the Compassionate, the Merciful'. This establishes that He, glorified be He, is not to be seen as He was made to be seen in some revealed books, as a God of revenge, anger and chastisement.
Indeed in the creation of the skies and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day, and in the ships that flow through the sea with what benefits the people, and in what Allah sends down from the sky – water – thus enlivening with it the earth after its death and scattering through it all kind of animal, and in the distribution of the winds and in the clouds subjugated between the sky and the earth, are surely portents for a reasoning tribe.
Indeed in the creation of the skies and the earth... Certainly in the creation of the skies in their wonderful order and system, and of the earth with its orderly and complete arrangement,
...and in the alternation of the night and the day,... Following one upon the other, each taking the other's place so as to give order to life in the loveliest way,
...and in the ships that flow through the sea with what benefits the people,... so that people can travel and trade,
...and in what Allah sends down from the sky – water – thus enlivening with it the earth after its death... Rain water comes from above and enlivens the earth by making vegetation grow after the earth had been deathly solid and barren,
...and scattering through it all kind of animal,... All moving about the face of the earth. And this too is on account of rainfall, for without rain there would be no water for the animals and no food, and so they would not survive a generation.
...and in the distribution of the winds,.. The winds are sent from place to place so as to blow away diseases and decay, and to blow the clouds hither and thither, for if the wind was stationary none of these benefits would exist.
...and in the clouds subjugated between the sky and the earth...-That is, maintained between the skies and the earth and consisting of many tons of water yet remaining between the sky and the earth and moving from place to place.
...are truly portents for a reasoning tribe. In all of this there are definitely portents proving Allah and His oneness and the rest of His qualities, for people who reason and utilise their intellects in gaining conclusions from preparatory facts and deriving the caused from its causes, and passing from knowledge of an effect to knowledge of its cause.
And amongst the people are those who take rivals instead of Allah! They are fond of them like fondness for Allah; while those who believe are severer in fondness for Allah. If only the wrongful could see, as when they see the chastisement, that the power is all-together Allah’s, and that Allah is severe in chastisement:
And amongst the people are those who take rivals instead of Allah!... Some people busy themselves, or take to themselves, in the place of Allah, rivals – false gods, whom they make equal to Allah in that they worship them; in short, they admit idols into their lives.
...They are fond of them like being fondness for Allah;... Those people are fond of those idols ‘like being fond of Allah' (ka hubbi ‘llah). That is, like their love for Allah; or it means with a love similar to that which Allah merits. According to the first interpretation, those meant are the partnerist idolaters who believed in Allah.
...while those who believe are severer in fondness for Allah....The believers' fondness for Allah is stronger and exceeds the idolaters' fondness for their false gods. Because the believers realise that all imaginable goodness is from Allah, glorified be He, the fondness and love they bear for Him becomes exceedingly ardent.
...If only the wrongful could see, as when they see the chastisement, that power is all-together Allah’s, and that Allah is severe in chastisement. If only the wrongful could see, as they will on the day of resurrection, when they are nigh to the chastisement, that all power belongs to Allah, glorified be He, they would then see the harm of what they do, and the evil consequences of their idolatry. The phrase ‘if only the wrongful could see’ requires a conclusion (jawạb law), which is that of our elucidation. The reason for its deletion (common in Arabic) is that it is transformed into a command, as in the command ‘If I should defeat you!' meaning: ‘Desist!’
And when will they see all that? On the day:
When those followed shall renounce those who followed and see the chastisement, and all means are cut from them.
That is, when leaders who are followed shall renounce those who followed them. They shall all see the chastisement, and that every means between them has been cut. This last means that in the hereafter whatever exists in this world to connect people to each other, such as wealth, leadership, family-ties, associations and suchlike, will all be cut from between them, so there shall be no appeal for the leaders to rescue their followers who followed them in the world.
And those who followed shall say, ‘Were there for us a repeat we would renounce them, just as they renounce us.' Just so Allah shows them their deeds: anguishes are upon them, and they are not departers from the fire!
And those who followed shall say, ‘Were there for us a repeat we would renounce them, just as they renounce us.... The followers shall exclaim, ‘O that there were a return for us to the realm of the world! Then we would renounce our leaders just as here at the resurrection they renounce us.'
...Just so Allah shows them their deeds:... In that way Allah shows all of them—leaders and followers—their deeds.
...anguishes are upon them... That is, because their prayers and their deeds are all gone to the wind, and so they bitterly regret not having obeyed the commands of Allah, glorified be He.
...and they are not departers from the fire! The partnerist or idolater remains in the fire forever, assuming the proofs were fully presented to him and he stubbornly rejected them.
This marks the completion of the discourse about beliefs, and the discussion now turns to conditions of life, so crucial to the human:
O ye the people, eat from the earth permissible and wholesome, and follow not the devil's trails; he is to ye a clear enemy.
O ye the people, eat from the earth permissible and wholesome,... O mankind, eat of the earth's plants, animals, waters and minerals, for it is lawful and wholesome to eat, except that which has been forbidden. ‘Wholesome', put for tayyiban, indicates that whatever is lawful is wholesome, and contains nothing to deviate a person from a healthy body or from a healthy personality.
...and follow not the devil's trails... It is as if the devil leaves a trail in the direction of the sins, so that when a person sins, it is as if he follows one of his trails, in that he travels behind him.
...he is to ye a clear enemy. Clear and manifest.
He only urges ye towards evil and indecency, and that ye say of Allah what ye know not.
The devil incites to evil actions and indecencies, put for faĥshạ.a, meaning actions that are evil in the extreme.
...and that ye say of Allah what ye know not. He commands to that we have no knowledge of, meaning false imputations regarding Allah, glorified be He, in both the beliefs and the laws. Moreover,-the term also includes things that do not exist, as is clear in His word, glorified be He, ‘Or do they proclaim to Him what He knows not...’ (al-Ra’ad ; 33).
And when it is said to them ‘Follow what Allah has sent down,' they say, ‘Nay, we follow that we found our fathers upon.' What, even though their fathers reasoned not a thing, and were guided not?
When they were told to follow the laws and other teachings of the revelation, they said that they preferred to follow the paths on which they found their fathers, unquestioningly. For this they are rebuked in the interrogative form of,
‘What, even though their fathers reasoned not a thing,... Their fathers reasoned neither about religion nor about the world.
...and were guided not?' They were not guided to the truth. The implication is that since their fathers had no knowledge, how then could they follow them?
Here Allah the Most High explains that those disbelievers have brought upon themselves a condition in which, due to their own obstinacy and fanaticism, their organs of perception are blocked, so that they profit neither from exhortations nor from reminders:
And what those who disbelieve are like is one who screeches to that which hears not, but for calling and crying out – deaf, dumb, blind, so they reason not.
The likeness of those who disbelieve after the portents have been made clear for them, and the likeness of Allah's Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, is as one who cries out to an animal which hears not any distinguishable words, but only hears shouts and screams. For even a healthy animal will understand no more of a man's speech than a few simple calls and commands. So too the disbelievers: they will never profit from the words of the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, for they are deaf, dumb and blind—yes, they have all their senses, but it is as if they are without them, for they do not function properly, they do not perform their roles.
O ye who believe, eat of the wholesomeness that We have provisioned ye; and thank Allah, if it is Him ye worship.
O you who believe, eat of the wholesomeness that We have provisioned ye... The repetition comes to tie the topic to two other issues: gratitude and the prohibitions.
...and thank Allah, if it is Him ye worship. That is, do not be like the idolaters who thank their false gods, considering themselves provisioned by them.
He has only banned ye carrion and blood and the flesh of the pig and that offeredup to other than Allah; but whoso is obliged, not in resentment and not a violator, no sin is upon him, indeed Allah is forgiving, merciful.
He has only banned ye carrion...‘Carrion’ is meat not slaughtered according to the Law.
,,,and blood...-It means that which leaves the animal's body at the time of slaughter, as he says, glorified be He, ...except that it be carrion, or blood that has flowed... (al-An’ạm ‘The Livestock’ :146).
...and the flesh of the pig... In fact the entire pig is forbidden, its meat is given particular mention as that as what is normally meant.
...and that offered up to other than Allah... That is, to other than than the name of Allah. The term ‘offered up' is given for uhilla, meaning a slaughtered animal over which a name has been pronounced – the idolaters would slaughter their animals while calling on the name of their idols, and so Allah, glorified be He, forbids from eating an animal slaughtered in any but His name.
...but whoso is obliged, not in resentment and not a violator,... Whoso is obliged to eat forbidden meat, not being driven by desires and cravings, nor exceeding in eating and drinking that which he is obliged to eat, or drink,
...no sin upon him, indeed Allah is forgiving,... In such conditions there is no sin in consuming the forbidden. Allah's forgiveness is that He conceals the sin when it is committed under compulsion, for that is the meaning of forgiveness (ghafr), and Allah's concealing of sins is that He does not punish for them. And He is:
...merciful. That is why it is permitted to eat the forbidden under compulsion.
Indeed those who conceal what Allah has sent down, the book, and sell it for a small price – those, they eat nothing into their bellies but the fire; and Allah will not speak to them on the day of resurrection, and He will not purify them; and theirs is a painful chastisement.
Indeed those who conceal what Allah has sent down, the book,... The Jews and Christians concealed the true beliefs that existed in their book, and attributed to the book laws that it did not contain, as the Most High says in His word, ‘Say, bring then the Torah and recite it, if you are truthful.' (3:94). Perhaps the connection between this ạyah and those that precede it is that the book-folk forbade things that their own book did not forbid.
...and sell it for a small price,... They sold their book for worldly leadership and wealth, a small price when compared to the hereafter.
...those, they eat nothing into their bellies... That is, they draw into their bellies. It is likely that the phrase is used on account of some of the idiosyncrasies of the Arabic vernacular.
...but the fire;... That which they consume in the world turns into a fire that shall burn their bellies in hell.
...and Allah will not speak to them on the day of resurrection,... There will be no delay to their tasting the disgrace of the repayment of all their deeds.
...and He will not purify them;... They shall not be purified of sins. When the belly is filled with the forbidden, it hardens the heart; thereupon a person will never be guided unless and until he purifies himself.
...and theirs is a painful chastisement. Painful indeed.
Those are they who purchase the straying for guidance and-the chastisement for forgiveness; how restrained they are for the fire!
Those who conceal that which Allah has sent down have purchased deviation for their souls instead of guidance. The self is the price of the two directions, deviation and guidance; they have sold their souls and purchased deviation in place of guidance. And instead of purchasing forgiveness with their souls they have purchased the chastisement.
...how restrained they are for the fire! An exclamation of amazement, meaning ‘how are they so tolerant of the fire, in their doing that which is requited by the fire?!'
That is because Allah sent down the book in truth; and indeed those who differ about the book are most surely in remote schism.
The chastisement is facing them on account of Allah having sent down the Torah in truth; and those who differ about the Torah, manifesting some of it and concealing some, are most surely in schism and opposition far from the truth. It is they who deserve the chastisement, for their opposing the book, and concealing what needed to be manifested.
It is among the possibilities that by ‘the book' is meant the sacred Quran. Accordingly, their chastisement was for their concealing that the Quran is the truth, and for their opposition to it on the grounds of it being sorcery or magic or ordinary, human speech.
It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards the east or the west, rather righteousness is whoso believes in Allah and the last day and the angels and the books and the Prophets; and gives wealth for His fondness to the kinfolk and the orphan and the destitute and the son of the path and the asker and on the slaves; and establishes the prayer and pays the zakạt, and are constant to their covenants when they covenant them, and the restrainers in austerity, adversity and a time of violence—those are they who are truthful, and those, they are the guardful.
The address is to the Jews and Christians who disputed about the change of Qiblah, and wasted their time in that fruitless discussion.
It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards the east or the west,... The direction of the Qiblah is a secondary command dependant upon the responsibility towards Allah, glorified be He; and Allah has directed us to turn our faces to the Ka'bah.
...rather righteousness is whoso believes in Allah and the last day... That is, righteousness (al-birr) is the act of one who believes. Or, he who has righteousness is he who believes in Allah and the last day. Belief in Allah and in the hereafter is the basic principle from which the rules of the prayer and suchlike derive.
...and the angels and the books... That is, belief that they were sent down from alongside Allah upon His Prophets.
...and the Prophets;... Belief in the first of them, the middle part of them and the last of them.
...and gives wealth for His fondness... ‘His fondness' is given for ‘alạ ĥubbihị, meaning for the love of Allah, glorified be He. But it could mean ‘despite the wealth being loved.'
...to the kinfolk... meaning family and relatives.
...and the orphan... It means the young whose fathers have died.
...and the idle... The poor is idle (miskịn) on account of having no means to do anything. Here the meaning is the person who cannot provide a living for himself and his family.
...and the son of the path... It means the person who is stranded on a journey, without the means to see himself to his destination. Such a person is called ‘son of the road' (ibn sabịl) because his parentage is unknown to those around him.
...and the asker... It means the poor who ask people for help.
...and on the slaves;... It means using wealth to free the slaves, by purchasing them and setting them free.
...and establishes the prayer... It means performing the prayer according to its full measure.
...and pays the zakạt,... Here both the obligatory and the desirable zakạt is meant.
...and are constant to their covenants when they covenant them,... It makes no difference whether their covenants or pacts are with Allah, glorified be He, like a vow (nazr) and allegiance, or with the people, like trading and other contracts.
...and are restrained in austerity,... They stick to the straight road during times of poverty.
...adversity... This means painful harm or disease or any harmful affliction.
...and a time of violence... It means that they are constrained on the straight road in time of war.
...– those... Those who have such qualities,
...are they who are truthful,... They are truthful in their intentions and their actions. They do not argue forever about a single matter, like the change of the direction of the Qiblah.
...and those, they are the guardful. They fear Allah, glorified be He.
This distinguished ạyah indicates the condition of many people who leave aside the important, and strive competitively in unimportant matters, out of stubbornness and fanaticism.
Having given the nature of righteousness, He, glorified be He, now follows that with some laws, which it is fitting that those having such righteousness bind themselves to:
O ye who believe, written upon ye is retaliation in killing: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the female for the female – but whomso his brother pardons something, then the pursuing should be in honour and the payment be in beauty; that is a remission from your Master and a mercy. So whoso violates after this – his is a painful chastisement.
O ye who believe, written upon ye is retaliation in killing: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the female for the female... The meaning of ‘written upon ye' is ‘legislated for ye', for the code and the laws are written. It is recorded that the portent came down in reference to a practice among the Arabs of seeking excessive vengeance; that is, they would swear that they would kill a freeman for their slave, a man for their woman, and two men for their man – and the same principle applied to wounds and injuries. Then Islam came, and cancelled these laws.
...but whomso his brother pardons something,... This means should the heir of the victim not insist that the murderer be killed, and take instead the compensation (al-dịyah), or take just some of the compensation and grant the rest,
...then the pursuing should be in honour and the payment be in beauty;... That is, it is obligatory upon both parties to be observant towards Allah in the taking and the paying. Therefore, the pursuing of the killer by the victim's heir is to be honourable, meaning that he should not be severe in seeking the blood-money; while the payment by the killer to the next of kin, who has let him off being killed, is to be in kindness and should not be delayed and made to cause hardship.
...that... It means, firstly, the law of retaliation by like for like, and, secondly, the choice between execution and blood-money.
...is a remission from your Master and a mercy... for the people. It is recorded that the Torah legislated between retaliation and pardon, while the Christians had the choice between forgiveness and blood-money.
...So whoso violates after this—his is a painful chastisement. It means that whoso transgresses the law of retaliation after He has determined it to be amongst the Laws, then that person will be painfully punished in the world and the hereafter.
And yours in retaliation is life, O owners of the mind, that ye might be guardful.
In the law of retaliation for intentional murder is life for the society, for whoso thinks that if he kills he will be killed, normally refrains. Moreover, the law of retaliation forestalls the victim's heirs from transgressing against the kin of the murderer, so that they do not kill several of them for one death, as they did in the period of ignorance, when whole tribes were wiped out due to a single murder. The address is to those who possess intellect (‘aql), that they fear the law of retaliation, and be wary of committing murder.
Having mentioned the law of retaliation, the sacred Quran indicates the related topic of wills and testaments:, in His word:
Written upon ye when death approaches one of ye, if he leaves good, is to make testament for the parents and the kin in honour—a right upon the guardful.
Written upon ye... The term ‘written upon ye' denotes the obligatory and the desirable. The making of a testament is desirable, unless to do so is made obligatory for secondary reasons.
...when death approaches one of ye... It means when one sees in oneself the portents of death, like illness, senility, old age and so forth.
...if he leaves good... by ‘good' (khayr) is meant wealth, for if a person leaves no wealth there is no call for him to make a testament, although for him to do so is also desirable, though less emphatically than for him who leaves wealth.
...is to make testament for the parents and kin...Each person has a right to dispose of up to a third of his wealth through his last will and testament, the remainder being distributed amongst his kin according to the Law. So here we are told to specify something from that third for the family and kin, even when they are the heirs, for this gives rise to more and more affection.
...in honour... It means that the testament should not be such that it leads to an increase in rivalry and bitterness, like being in favour of distant relatives in disregard to close relatives, or like favouring some over others and giving rise to enmity and hatred. ‘Honour' is given for al-ma'rụf, meaning that which is known, recognised, (ma'rụf) by those of discernment as being free of injustice and of insult.
...—a right upon the guardful. It is a right and a duty upon those who inherit guardfulness.
So whoso substitutes it after hearing it, the sin of it is on those who substituted it; indeed Allah is hearing, knowing.
That is, whoso changes, alters or counterfeits the will after knowing the truth of it – for hearing (sam') is sometimes used in the sense of knowing (‘ilm) – the sin of that alteration is upon those who changed the will themselves, not upon those who unknowingly consume the wealth as inheritance, nor upon those who unknowingly consume more than their share. For it is normally the first generation who cheat in inheritance, while later generations benefit without knowledge of the substitution.
...indeed Allah is hearing, knowing. That is, Allah is Hearing of all our words, promises and testaments, and Knowing of our intentions and alterations, or our implementing the last wills and testaments.
And it is possible that there is another point in His word, ‘the sin of it is on those who substituted it;' namely, that many people do not make last testaments in fear that those who follow them will bring upon them the sin of substitution, thinking that by their making a testament they would encourage and facilitate anyone who wished to falsify it. In fact, it is quite usual to hear people say, ‘He who makes a testament hurls his heirs into sin', and many of them refrain from testaments on these grounds. So here Allah, glorified be He, hints at the fallacy of this idea, for to make a testament is a good deed; it is the substitutor who puts himself in sin.
The Master of the worlds, glorified be He, now makes the exception to the prohibition of altering testaments, in that such alterations are forbidden when they substitute truth for falsehood, or wrong for right, but when they substitute falsehood for truth, right for wrong, they are not prohibited, and there is no sin on whoso so altered the testament:
And whoso fears deviation or sin from a testator, and reconciles them – there is no sin upon him, indeed Allah is forgiving, merciful.
That is: whoso is afraid that the person making the testament will deviate from truth to falsehood, by making a will for more than what he can make a will for, or will sin by denying his heirs a testament from himself, and reconciles the testator, the beneficiaries and the executor, by passing the excessive part over to the heirs, and invalidating that part which was sinful, then upon such a person who substitutes or alters a will in this way, there is no sin.
Amongst the narrations is that ‘sin' in the portent means an intentional mistake, while ‘deviation' (janaf) means an unintentional mistake.
...indeed Allah is forgiving, merciful. That is, He is forgiving and merciful to one who sins, so how will He treat one who has not sinned?
In the Law it is established that a testament for more than a third of the deceased's property is only effective with the consent of the heirs.
The theme then turns to another of the rules of Islam, for as has been clarified, after explaining the principle of Divine oneness (tawhịd), the Sacred Quran is concerned with some of the laws. And so He says, glorified be He:
O ye who believe, written upon ye is the fast, just as it was written upon those before ye, that ye might be guardful.
The fast is written upon the believers, and prescribed for them, and it is obligatory that they fast. They are not to think that they are alone in this, for the fast was a part of the previous religions too. The point is that they be wary of the fire, for when a person fasts and feels the hunger and the thirst and his own weakness, he remembers Allah, glorified be He, and his heart humbles and the force of evil within him is weakened, his spirit is made bright and his soul pure, and all on account of guardfulness and the rejection of sin.
Numbered days—so whoso among ye is ill or upon a journey, then a number of different days; and for those barely able is a redemption, the feeding of a destitute. But whoso volunteers good, so it shall be good for him; and that ye fast is better for ye, if ye knew.
Numbered days...The number of days to be fasted is not some vast, uncountable number, but only thirty, a consolation for the faster.
...—so whoso among ye is ill or upon a journey, then a number of different days;... The fast is not obligatory on everyone: those who are ill and will be harmed by fasting, and those travelling – while the definitions of such travel are specified in the Law – are to fast on ‘a different number of days.' That is, they are to fast different days, other than those during the month of Ramažan, in place of the days they lost through illness or travel.
...and for those barely able...It means those for whom fasting will be distressful, in that when a person is barely able to do a thing it normally means that he can do it but with great difficulty. Or it may refer to early conditions when under the Law a person for whom fasting was difficult had the choice between fasting and feeding the poor; and this was on account of the development of the community.
...is a redemption,... This redemption (fidyah) is instead of the fast.
...the feeding of a destitute.... The redemption is the feeding of a single pauper, with a quantity of basic foodstuff reaching about seven hundred and fifty grams.
...But whoso volunteers good, so it shall be good for him;... It means giving more to a pauper than is strictly required.
...and that ye fast is better for ye,... it means that fasting is better than feeding a pauper, even for those for who are barely able to fast. For either a person will be severely harmed by fasting – and as stated such persons do not fast but fulfil the fast at another time – or the fast will be extremely burdensome for him, and he will only just be able to perform it; such persons have the choice between fasting and feeding a pauper, although it is better for them to fast. But if fasting is not burdensome for a person, then it is fasting in particular that is obligatory, as clarified in the subsequent ạyah.
...if ye knew. The meaning of this is that the believers with knowledge realise that fasting is better as it has benefits that feeding the poor does not have. The meaning is not that without knowledge fasting is not better, but simply that without knowledge it will not be realised that fasting is better.
The ‘numbered days' in which fasting is obligatory are those of:
The month of Ramažạn, in which the Quran was sent down as guidance for the people and as clarifications of the guidance and of the Criterion. So whoso among ye is present that month, he should fast it. And whoso is ill or upon a journey, then a number of different days. Allah wishes ease for ye, and does not wish hardship for ye. And that ye complete the number and magnify Allah for His guiding ye; and that ye might give thanks.
The month of Ramažạn, in which the Quran was sent down... The Quran's being sent down in Ramažạn adds to its greatness and sanctity, in that it became the month in which the greatest ever set of instructions for the people was sent down.
...as guidance for the people and as clarifications of the guidance and of the Criterion.... And the Quran is a guidance for the people, guiding them to the truth and to the straight road. And the Quran is a set of clear clarifications (bayyinạt) about the truth, needing no proofs or argumentations. And the Quran explains the Criterion (al–furqạn) by which truth is distinguished from falsehood, and deviation from true growth and maturity.
...So whoso among ye is present that month, he should fast it.... It means that those who are not away from home travelling during the month of Ramažạn are obliged to fast. This appears to be a universal ruling, and so the exceptions are given:
...And whoso is ill or upon a journey, then a number of different days.... This phrase is repeated as an introduction to the line,
...Allah wishes ease for ye, and does not wish hardship for ye..... It is for this reason that those who are journeying and those who are ill are commanded not to fast, but to fast a number of other days.
...And that ye complete the number... In the fast there are certain blessings that will not be attained but by completing the number; so if it is not possible to complete them during the month itself, then they are to be completed outside of it.
...and magnify Allah for His guiding ye;... Allah the Most High deserves praise for guiding to His religion and His Law; for the fast brings a person's consciousness closer to Allah, glorified be He, and so it declares Allah’s greatness. The penetrative interpretation (ta'wịl) is that the meaning is the magnifications or ‘takbịrs’ of the night of ‘Ịd al–Fitr.
...and that ye might give thanks. The fast is a blessing that merits gratitude on account of the good it does for one's world and for one's religion.
As it is habitual for the holy Quran to interrupt its treatment of the laws with a fragrance directing attention towards Allah, glorified be He, so as to relate the law to the Creator, and to radiate within the consciousness joy and determination, here comes the portent on the answering of prayers, after a lengthy explanation of the laws. This is then followed by portents explaining a further law. In any case, the answering of prayers is related to the month of Ramažạn, for it is a month of prayers and supplications.
And it is narrated that someone asked the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, how to supplicate. Then was revealed the portent:
And when My servants ask thee of Me: indeed I am near; I answer the call of the caller when he calls Me; so they should answer Me, and they should believe in Me, that they might be of integrity.
And when My servants ask thee of Me: indeed I am near;... This nearness is a matter of knowledge, comprehension, hearing and seeing; it has nothing to do with location or time or direction, for Allah is pure of all these things.
...I answer the call of the caller... By ‘the caller' is meant he who calls on Allah, glorified be He.
...when he calls Me,... When is put for iźạ, which perhaps indicates that the call or prayer is answered without delay.
...so they should answer Me,... It means let them answer the Master's orders and prohibitions, since it is only right that He who answers man's prayers, should be answered by man.
...and they should believe in Me,... Belief, that is, in His essence and attributes.
...that they might be of integrity.In other words, that they be directed towards the truth and be guided to it.
Made permitted for ye, on the night of the fast, is ‘it' unto your wives; they are clothes for ye, and ye are clothes for them. Allah knew that ye were betraying yourselves, so He relented to ye and pardoned ye; so now, touch them and reach for what Allah has written for ye.
And eat and drink until the white thread becomes clear for ye from the black thread – dawn; thereupon complete the fast until the night.
And touch them not while ye are on vigil in the masjids – these are the boundaries of Allah, so approach them not. Just so does Allah clarify His portents for the people; that they might be guardful.
Made permitted for ye, on the night of the fast, is ‘it' unto your wives;...Those who are fasting are permitted upon the night of the fast – that is, the night of the morrow when the fast is to begin – to make love with their wives. ‘It' is given for al-rafath, a word used for anything not spoken about. It is narrated from Imam al-Sạdiq, bliss be upon him, concerning the circumstances of this ạyah, that during the nights of the month of Ramažạn it was forbidden to eat during the night after sleep, while ‘relations' were forbidden night and day during the month of Ramažạn. A man from amongst the companions of the Messenger, Allah's bliss be upon him and his house, who was called Mut'im ibn Jubayr, brother of ‘Abd Allah ibn Jubayr who was the man who had been appointed by the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, to guard the mouth of the valley at Uhad with fifty archers, but who had been deserted by his men and remained amongst twelve, all of whom had been killed at the mouth of the valley. His brother, the said Mut'im ibn Jubayr, was old and weak; fasting one day his household brought him his food, but he slept before he ate it. When he awoke he said to his household that he was forbidden from eating that night. So in the morning while he was present fortifying the defensive ditch (khandaq) around the city, he fainted. The Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, saw this and had pity on him. At the same time, a group of the young men would secretly have relations at night during the month of Ramažạn. Therefore Allah sent down this portent, permitting relations during the nights of the month of Ramažạn, and eating after sleep until the break of dawn.
...they are clothes for ye, and ye are clothes for them.... Just as clothes protect the body and just as clothes are shaped for the body and are intimate with its nakedness, so too is each spouse with respect to the other.
...Allah knew that ye were betraying yourselves,,... They were betraying themselves by committing sins, for he who commits sins betrays himself, as he bring himself loss, and this is what every traitor does: brings loss to the one he betrays.
...so He relented to ye and pardoned ye;... Allah the Most High turned to them after their committing the forbidden act of relations with their wives at night, and forgave them in that respect.
...so now, touch them.... This command affords no more than permissibility, as it takes the place of a prohibition.
...and reach for what Allah has written for ye... That is, desire and seek the children and the permitted pleasures that are rewarded; this is in respect of the abrogation of the rule forbidding relations during the night.
...And eat and drink... It means that eating and drinking are permitted from the moment of true sunset,
...until the white thread becomes clear for you from the black thread, dawn;... It means when the true dawn, which in the darkness is like a white thread close to a black thread, becomes clear.
...thereupon complete the fast... By refraining from all that breaks the fast and is listed in the books of the Law, from the moment of true dawn,
...until the night. That is, until sunset as defined in the Law. This is with respect to the abrogation of the rule forbidding food and drink for those who slept before opening the fast.
...And do not be near them... It means do not have relations with your women,
.... And touch them not while ye are on vigil in the masjids... That is, not at any time, day or night. ‘On vigil' is put for ‘ạkif, meaning one who engages in i'tikạf, which is to remain in a masjid with the intention of worship, a condition of which is that the ‘ạkif be fasting. I'tikạf must take place for at least three days and must accord to the details given in the works of fiqh; amongst the rules of i'tikạf is the prohibition of ‘relations' night and day.
...— these are the boundaries of Allah,... The rulings given concerning the fast and other matters, are the boundaries and boundaries of Allah, glorified be He, given for the servants to perform them, of the type of deed from which it is not permissible to refrain; so it is not permissible to violate them, like the boundaries of a city or of a house and suchlike.
...so approach them not... This reinforces the prohibition, like in His word, ‘And approach not the property of the orphan, save with what is beautiful.'
...Just so does Allah clarify His portents for the people; that they might be guardful.-With the same clarity by which the rules of fasting are clarified, so too are Allah's portents—His proofs and laws—clarified, in order that the people be wary of disobeying Him.
Now the theme turns to another matter of legislation, since it too concerns ‘eating', the topic at the core of the issue of the fast:
And eat not your wealth among yourselves in the false, nor proffer it to the judges that ye consume a division of the people’s wealth through sin, and ye know.
...And eat not your wealth among yourselves in the false,...(given for al-bạţil) means false, dishonest ways like usurpation and suchlike. ‘Among yourselves' is given for baynakum, which is used for the reason that those who derive their livelihoods from usurpation and suchlike conspire together in secret until they purchase their food.
...Nor proffer it to the judges... ‘Nor proffer’ is given for (lạ) tadlụ; it means that wealth should not be presented to judges as a bribe or a ‘gift' so that they take someone's side in order that,
...ye consume a division of the people’s wealth through sin,,... That is to say, wrongfully.
...and ye know. It means: while you know that your eating and your bribes are dishonest and sinful.
The rules that have been dealt with all require considerations of timing, and therefore it is appropriate that the legislation of the new moons should come here – bearing in mind, too, that which was previously mentioned concerning the purpose of explaining certain laws after the explanation of the principles of monotheism:
They ask thee of the new moons. Say, they are times for the people and the Hajj.
It is not righteousness that ye come to the houses from their backs; rather righteousness is whoso is guardful and comes to the houses from their doors.
And be guardful of Allah; that ye might thrive.
They ask thee of the new moons.... The address is to the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House. He was questioned as to the reason behind the moon's varying each month from a new moon to a full moon to a waning moon and then to its apparent absence form the sky; or he was asked of what benefit this is, and why the moon is not like the sun in its regular order.
...Say, they are times for the people and the Hajj. He was to reply to them that the moon is such as a means of timing for the people in their worship and their transactions and for the Hajj. That is because whoso borrows or lends for a month, or buys or sells on a couple of months' credit, or intends to fast or end the fast or perform the Hajj all at the proper time, has no choice but to use some timestandard to depend upon and reckon from; and for this Allah the Most High provides the new moons. This reply fits best with the second given meaning of ‘They ask thee..’. However, were we to assume that their questioning concerned the cause of the moon's variations, then the holy Quran diverted their question – since the level of their understanding prevented them from perceiving the astronomical answer – in the direction of the purpose of the new moons, a matter they were more in need of understanding. A similar thing occurs in the portent ‘They ask thee what they should dispense. Say: the goodness that you dispense is for the parents...’ (below, 216) where instead of answering queries about the substance of what is spent, the Quran turns to the beneficiaries of the spending, which was what they really needed to know.
The mention of the Hajj leads the theme to the topic of a practice of the era of ignorance, that when they had bound themselves to sacredness in ihrạm, they would not thereafter enter houses by their doors, but would enter them from the back. Here this is forbidden, with the hint that the question about the new moons was not really important to them, like entering houses from the back:
...It is not righteousness that ye come to the houses from their backs;... The ignorant practice of knocking a whole in the back wall of the houses, and entering through the hole, is not righteousness.
...rather righteousness is whoso is guardful... It means being guardful of Allah, glorified be He, by obeying His commands and refraining from His prohibitions.
...and comes to the houses through their doors.... That is, even when in ihrạm.
...And be guardful of Allah; that ye might thrive. That is, be wary of Allah concerning His commands and prohibitions, in order that you thrive by attaining to felicity in the world and in the hereafter.
Now comes another of Islam's many laws, the law of warfare and combat. It is clarified here along with matters regarding the Hajj since it is related to the Hajj, on account of how the idolaters had prevented the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, from the Hajj in the year of Hudaibiyah, and it was for the Muslims to prepare for warfare if the circumstances demanded it.
And battle in Allah's path those who battle ye, and violate not – indeed Allah loves not the violators.
And battle in Allah's path... The address, in the plural, is to the Muslims. They are to make war in the path of Allah, not out of love of domination and control, as is the way with the kings of this world and their officers, but in the path of raising the word of Allah, in which is felicity for the people.
...those who battle with ye,... When an enemy throws aside his weapon and remains still, killing him would mean disorder and confusion, and is not called for.
...and violate not:... In fighting against those who are fighting against you, there is no place for aggression, for warfare in Islam is defensive warfare. violation is meaningless for those who are related to Allah and are fighting for His sake; from the like of such persons aggression is not permitted.
...– indeed Allah loves not the violators. He, glorified be He, commands to justice and goodness; so how can He love those who are aggressive and oppressive?
And kill them wherever ye encounter them, and exile them from where they exiled ye; and tribulation is worse than killing.
And battle them not alongside the Sacred Masjid until they battle ye in it; so if they battle ye, kill them; just so is the recompense of the disbelievers.
And kill them wherever ye encounter them,... It means slay those who are engaged in warfare against the Muslims, regardless of where they are.
...and exile them from where they exiled ye;... It means Makkah, from which the Muslims were exiled by the disbelievers. Thus the meaning is ‘fight those who fight you and exile those who exile you, an exact recompense.'
...and tribulation is worse than killing....‘Tribulation' is given for fitnah: the disbelievers were intriguing against the Muslims and casting doubts in their hearts so as to attract them to the path of disbelief after Allah had guided them. That is worse than killing, since killing leads to departure from the world, while such intrigue leads to departure from the religion. Therefore, those whom the Muslims kill do not deserve any outcry as to why the Muslims have unsheathed their weapons, rather they deserve to be killed on account of their beginning the warfare by their intrigue. It is narrated that the portent was sent down regarding a Muslim who killed a disbeliever during the sacred month, which the believers saw as a fault; and so the Most High made it clear that the tribulation which the disbelievers began is worse than killing.
...And battle them not at the Sacred Masjid until they battle ye in it; so if they battle ye, kill them;... The Muslims were not to fight the disbelievers within the sacred environs of the Ka'bah, unless the disbelievers began to fight the Muslims there, in which case they were to return the fight there.
...such is the recompense of the disbelievers. It means that the obligation of fighting with the disbelievers wherever they were found, and the rest that has been mentioned, is a recompense for the disbelievers.
And if they cease, indeed Allah is forgiving, merciful.
It means: if they renounce their disbelief and submit in Islam, Allah forgives them all the sins they had committed prior to their becoming Muslims, even their killing the Muslims, for Islam effaces all that precedes it. And Allah the Most High is merciful towards His servants, the believers.
And battle them until there is no tribulation and the religion is for Allah. So if they cease, no enmity save against the wrongful.
The Muslims are to fight the disbelievers who are fighting them, not merely as a measure of retribution, but until there is no intrigue against them in the sense that no efforts are being made to induce them from their religion; and until the religion and the path are for Allah, the Most High, in the sense that no path exists other than for Him, glorified be He, and the truth is victorious over falsehood. These two matters, then, are the aim behind the obligation of defence.
And if they renounce disbelief, no defensive measures should be taken against them, unless they be wrong-doers who remain in their disbelief. The meaning is that were the aggressors to cease their intriguing and their opposing the religion of Allah and the Muslims through persecution and warfare, then war should not be waged against them; for war is to be waged only against the wrongful. The word ‘hostility' is given for ‘udwạn; it is a metaphor similar to that in the subsequent ạyah: ‘So whoso violates against ye, violate against him with the like of his violating against ye.'
The sacred month for the sacred month; and the sacred things – retaliation. So whoso violates against ye, violate against him with the like of his violating against ye.
And be guardful of Allah, and know that Allah is with the guardful.
The sacred month for the sacred month;The sacred months are Zu ‘l-Qa'dah, Zu ‘l-Hijjah, al-Muharram and Rajab, sacred on account of how it is not permitted to make war in them. But a sacred month is for a sacred month, in the sense that whenever someone violates the sanctity of a sacred month by killing, then it is for the Muslims to make war.
...and the sacred things – retaliation.... The sacred things demand retaliation, in the same way that injuries demand retaliation. So whenever someone violates a particular sanctity, retaliation is to take place in that very same sacred time or place whose sanctity he violated. In other words, war is waged against those who wage war, in the sanctuary of Makkah and in any sacred month.
...So whoso violates against ye, violate against him with the like of his violating against ye.... In dealing retribution to the enemy, the measure is the enemy's own act of aggression, which in retribution must not be exceeded. The act of retribution is termed ‘aggression' on account of how it is of the same substance as the aggression of the enemy.
...And be guardful of Allah,... It means be guardful and wary of Him by not going beyond the boundaries He sets, and by not being excessively harsh or vengeful.
...and know that Allah is with the guardful.-He takes them by the hand in the world, and bestows upon them felicity in the hereafter.
And dispense in the path of Allah, and be not thrown by your own hands into destruction;
And work beauty, indeed Allah loves the beautifiers.
And dispense in the path of Allah,... The sacred duty of jihạd requires the donation of the troops' equipment, and this is amongst the loftiest and greatest of ways of spending.
...and be not thrown by your own hands into destruction;... To refrain from such spending for the sake of jihad is like throwing oneself to destruction with one's own hands, in that it leads to defeat and the domination of the enemy.
...And work beauty... It means be enthusiastic supporters of what is good and beautiful in dispensing for Allah, fighting for Him, and all other affairs, as,
...indeed Allah loves the beautifiers.‘The beautifiers ' is given for al-muĥsinịn.
The theme then returns to the rules of the Hajj, which had been hinted at earlier, for it bears on the peace-treaty of Hudaybia, and on the Messenger's Hajj:
And complete the Hajj and the ‘Umrah for Allah; and if ye are prevented, then whatever offering is easy; and shave not your heads until the offering arrives at its place. So whoso among ye is ill or has an annoyance from the head, then a redemption in fasting or charity or a piety.-
Then, when ye are secure: so whoso takes enjoyment between the ‘Umrah and the Hajj, whatever offering is easy. So whoso finds not, three days of fasting in the Hajj, and seven when ye have returned; that is ten full days.
That is for him whose folk are not present at the Sacred Masjid.
And be guardful of Allah, and know that Allah is severe in punishment.
And complete the Hajj and the ‘Umrah for Allah;... It means perform them in full by completing all the rites of both of them, and this must be done for the sake of Allah. glorified be He, and not for show or fame and suchlike.
...and if you are prevented,... It means if something stops you from performing the Hajj after you have bound yourself in ihrạm.
...then whatever offering is easy;... It means that if you wish to free yourself from the obligation of the ihrạm you must make a sacrificial offering of a cow or camel or sheep or goat.
...and shave not your heads... It means do not leave your condition of ihrạm,
...until the offering arrives at its place.... It means until the animal reaches the place specified in the Law for its slaughter, either Makkah or Mina, as detailed in fiqh.
...So whoso amongst ye is ill or has an annoyance from the head,... It means whoso is unable to put off the ending of the state of ihrạm—because of illness or due to the need to shave the head —before the offering arrives at its place,
...then a redemption in fasting...—for three days.
...or charity...—to six paupers.
...or a piety… That is, a sacrificial offering. of a sheep, on account of having ended the ihrạm early.
...Then, when ye are secure:... from the enemy, and healed of the illness and free from the obstacle –
...so whoso takes enjoyment between the ‘Umrah and the Hajj,... It means whoso makes use of perfume or women or the other pleasures that are forbidden while in ihrạm, on account of having performed the ‘Umrah, for the ‘Umrah is over quickly and then the forbidden things become permitted.
...whatever offering is easy.... It means the cow, camel or sheep that is to be sacrificed at Mina on the day of the ‘ad.
...So whoso finds not,... It means whoso finds no animal to offer,
...three days of fasting in the Hajj,... It means during the days of the Hajj, in Zu ‘l-Hijjah.
...and seven when ye have returned;... It means when you have returned home.
...that is ten full days. Ten days of fasting instead of the offering.
...That is for him whose people are not present at the Sacred Masjid.' It means that the ruling that the ‘Umrah must take place before the Hajj is for those who do not live within twelve miles of the Sacred Masjid in any direction. For those who live within those boundaries, the obligation is either the Hajj al-Qirạn or the Hajj al-Ifrạd, in both of which the ‘Umrah takes place after the Hajj, the difference between them being that in al-Qirạn one leaves ihrạm after the sacrificial offering, but not in Hajj al-Ifrạd.
...And be guardful of Allah,... It means be wary of disobeying His commands.
...and know that Allah is severe in punishment.' Therefore we should not disobey His commands and His prohibitions.
Here it should be said that the Hajj is comprised of two obligations. One is the ‘Umrah, which is comprised of Ihrạm, Tawwạf around the house, the Prayer of Tawwạf, the Sa'i between Safạ and Marwah, and Taqsịr, which is the cutting of some hair or nail.
The other obligation is the Hajj, which is comprised of Iĥrạm, the stay at ‘Arafạt, the stay at the Mash'ar, the rush to Mina, the stoning of the al-'Aqbah obelisk or pillar, the sacrificial slaughter, Halq ( shaving the head) or Taqsịr (the cutting of some hair or nail), the Tawwạf al-Nisạ, the Prayer of the Tawwạf al-Nisạ, the Sa'i between Safạ and Marwah, Tawwạf al- Ziyạrah, the Prayer of the Tawwạf al- Ziyạrah, spending the nights of the eleventh and twelfth at Minạ, and stoning the three obelisks or pillars on the two days of the eleventh and twelfth.
The Hajj is the specified months; so whoso prescribes the Hajj within them, then no ‘it' and no licence and no quarrelling during the Hajj.
And whatever good ye do, Allah knows it.
And take on supplies – and the best of supplies is guardfulness. So be guardful of Me, O owners of the mind.
The Hajj is the specified months;... It means that the Hajj is to be performed in the months that were long-famous for it: Shawwạl, Zu ‘l-Qa'dah and Zu ‘l-Hijjah, and not delayed like the people delayed it during the era of ignorance, causing the portent to be sent down about them, ‘The forgetting is but an addition in disbelief.. ' (al-Tawba ‘Repentance’ ; 38).
...so whoso prescribes... It means makes obligatory upon himself,
...the Hajj within them, then no ‘it'...—meaning sex,
...and no licence.. meaning boasting and abuse,
...and no quarrelling...— it means saying ‘Lạ wa'llạh' (‘No, by Allah') and ‘Balạ wa'llạh' (‘Yes, by Allah'),
...during the Hajj... It means while in iĥrạm.
...And whatever goodness you do, Allah knows it.... Perhaps the mention of this reality comes here on account of the high level of mutual need required of each other by those performing the Hajj, and so they are reminded that whatever good they do to each other is in the knowledge of Allah, and He will reward them for it.
...And take on supplies;... It means take spiritual provision from the Hajj.
...and the best of supplies is guardfulness;... The word ‘guardfulness' is given for taqwạ, meaning the condition of being mindful of Allah and wary of displeasing Him, glorified be He. This condition is readily derived from the Hajj with its many hardships and forms of self-denial and endurance. It is also possible that the portent concerns those who bring no provisions for the Hajj, on the grounds that they are the guests of Allah, and so they must beg during their journey; they are commanded to bring provisions to last them for their journey, that is nearer to piety and guardfulness (taqwạ) than begging, which is blameworthy, humiliating and sometimes forbidden.
...so be guardful of Me,... It means be afraid of Allah in all your deeds; do not be negligent towards Him, and do not omit an obligation,
...O owners of the mind. That is, those who are possessed of intellect.
It was held to be a sin to engage in trade during the Hajj, and so this portent was sent down:
There is no stain against ye that ye reach for profusion from your Master;
So when ye gush from ‘Arafạt, recall Allah at the Mash'ar al-Harạm, and recall Him just as He has guided ye, though beforehand ye were truly of the astray.
There is no stain against ye that ye reach for profusion from your Master;... It means that trading is not forbidden.
...So when ye gush from ‘Arafạt, recall Allah at the Mash'ar al-Harạm,... The Mash'ar al-Harạm is the second place in which one must stay as part of the Hajji, between dawn and sunrise on the morning of the ‘Ịd.
...and recall Him just as He has guided ye,... It means remember Him, glorified be He, in the face of His guiding you to His religion and to all that raises you in the world and in the hereafter.
...though beforehand ye were truly of the astray. It means that before the guidance the people were astray from His religion.
Thereupon surge from where the people surged, and seek the forgiveness of Allah, indeed Allah is forgiving, merciful.
It means rush from the Mash'ar to Minạ, just as those before you rushed, meaning Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, and his descendents. This is what is apparent from the portent. However, it is narrated that the Quraish would not stay at ‘Arafạt and would not rush from it, saying that they were the people of the House of Allah, and so would not depart from it; instead they would stay at Mash'ar and would rush from there. Therefore Allah commanded them to stay at ‘Arafạt and to hurry off from there like the rest of the people.
So when ye have consummated your pieties, recall Allah like your remembrance of your fathers, or a firmer remembrance.
And among the people is whoso says, ‘Our Master, give us in the world!' And his in the hereafter is no part.
So when ye have consummated your pieties, recall Allah like your remembrance of your fathers, or a firmer remembrance....During the era of ignorance the people on completing the Hajj would gather there and count the virtues of their fathers and forefathers, and would remember their ancient times and physical prowess. Therefore Allah commanded them to remember and laud Him instead of their commemorating their fathers; rather He should be remembered better and stronger than their fathers, for He is the true granter of all blessings and all things are in His hands, and all goodness comes from Him.
At this point it was appropriate to explain how the people are in two groups, those who seek the hereafter and those who seek merely the world. Thus He says:
...And among the people is whoso says, ‘Our Master, give us in the world!’... Such people seek to be granted the blessings and ease and happiness of the world and do not ask for the good of the hereafter, as they do not believe in it. Before Islam the Hajj was performed by those who believed in the hereafter and also by those who denied it.
...And his in the hereafter is no part. They deny the hereafter and they have no share in it.
And among them is whoso says, ‘Our Master, grant us beautifully in the world and beautifully in the hereafter, and guard us from the chastisement of the fire.'
And among the people is he who asks Allah for the goodness of the world and of the hereafter, and seeks refuge with Allah from the fire.
Those, they have a portion of what they earned, and Allah is swift in the reckoning.
Those, they have a portion of what they earned,... Those, who ask for the good of the world and the good of the hereafter, have the share in the hereafter they have earned, for they deserve the reward of their deeds. However, the first group deserve nothing on account of their disbelief.
...and Allah is swift in the reckoning. So it should not be imagined that the hereafter is distant, for only a few nights and days pass and then a person is buried in the ground, even though he may live long in the world.
And recall Allah in numbered days; so whoso hastens in two days, there is no sin on him, and whoso delays, there is no sin on him, for him who is guardful. And be guardful of Allah, and know that unto Him ye will be mustered.
And recall Allah in numbered days;... The numbered days are the days spent at Minạ during the Hajj.
...so whoso hastens in two days, there is no sin on him,... It is permissible to leave Minạ for Makkah after the noon of the twelfth.
...and whoso delays, there is no sin on him,... It is equally permissible to depart from Minạ for Makkah on the thirteenth.
...for him who is guardful... It means for him who is wary of hunting while in Iĥrạm; but if he did hunt, then he has to stay until the thirteenth, and must not leave for Makkah on the twelfth.
...And be guardful of Allah,... Obey His commands and prohibitions.
...and know that unto Him ye will be mustered. The gathering will take place on the day of resurrection, when everyone will be raised again and face their just deserts.
At this juncture the theme directs itself to man the wicked and man the good, and explains some human peculiarities, so as to provide a lesson for those who seek well-being and rectitude. Thus He says, glorified be He:
And among the people is he whose word astonishes thee in the worldly life, and he calls upon Allah as a witness of what is in his heart, while he is the most contentious of opponents.
The address, in the singular, is to the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, though the meaning is universal. There are people who speak with such a slick and adroit eloquence that one is moved by the strength of their honeyed words and inclines towards their expositions.
...in the worldly life... It means that the astonishing speech is about the worldly life and its status and affairs; or it means that the astonishment is merely a worldly thing. The first of these seems to fit more closely.
...and he calls upon Allah as a witness of what is in his heart,... It is always the way of the hypocrites that, whenever they feel that their hypocrisy and their secrets are becoming exposed, they call on God as a witness to their supposed sincerity and to the conformity between what is in their hearts and what they say.
...while he is the most contentious of opponents. This is the truth of his heart.
And when he turns back he strives in the earth to work corruption therein, and to destroy the tilth and the offspring; while Allah loves not corruption.
Whenever such a person turned away from the Messenger and was out of his sight, he would run about the earth hither and thither like all such mischief-makers, working corruption in the earth by agitating for disorder and mayhem.
...and to destroy the tilth and the offspring;... Agriculture tends to suffer in times of discord as it is an effect of mayhem that agricultural workers become preoccupied with the struggle and the strife; while the destruction of the offspring occurs as it is always the youth who are at the forefront of contention and warfare.
And when it is said to him, ‘Be guardful of Allah!' he is taken by grandeur in sin; so hell will take care of him! And truly, atrocious is the refuge!
And when it is said to him, ‘Be guardful of Allah!' he is taken by grandeur in sin;... When such trouble-makers are told to fear Allah in their deeds and not make corruption, they are gripped by their pride and their ignorant fanaticism inclines them further towards sin, as they will not submit to the truth, nor give it importance.
...so hell will take care of him!... It means that he will be consolidated in hell, for that is his recompense.
...And truly, what an atrocious refuge!-These ạyạt were sent down concerning the hypocrites, or a particular individual from amongst them called al-Akhnas ibn Sharịq, who pretended love for the Messenger but who at heart was a hypocrite and a worker of corruption. Perhaps the connection between these portents and the Hajj is that the topic of the Hajj concluded on those who lauded their forefathers in self-grandeur, and the type of hypocrite mentioned here is like them in self-grandeur and self-delusion.
And among the people is he who sells himself in reaching for the contentment of Allah; and Allah is kindly to the servants.
And there are people who sell themselves for the sake of seeking the satisfaction of Allah, glorified be He.
...and Allah is kindly towards the servants. He treats them with kindness and compassion, and gives them the best of rewards for their beautiful deeds. Perhaps the mention of kindness comes on account of the danger and harm that can result from selling oneself in this way, and so the hint is there that Allah is kindly and protects the seller of his self from danger and harm.
This portent was sent down about the ‘Commander of the Believers', Imam ‘Ali, bliss be upon him, at the time he lay in the place of the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, on the night of the Messenger's hijrah.
Having delivered a reminder of who among the people is the hypocrite, appropriate to universal guidance and rectitude, the Most High then says:
O ye who believe, enter into the peace entirely, and follow not the devil’s trails; indeed he is for ye a clear enemy.
Those who profess belief on their tongues should enter into a state of peace and accord with Allah and His Messenger in all their affairs. ‘Entirely' is given for kạffatan, meaning that they should submit to the religion in all of their circumstances. They should not follow the trails of the devil by disobeying the commands of Allah, glorified be He, obeying instead the devil's commands and the cravings of the self. The devil is man's clear enemy, for he urges towards the corruptions that lead to the ruination of one's religion and one's world.
So if he makes ye stumble after the clarifications have come to ye, know that Allah is grand, wise.
...So if he makes ye stumble after the clarifications have come to ye,... It means ‘if he makes you sin'. The ‘clarifications' (al-bayyinạt) are the clarifications of the truth.
...know Allah is grand,... The chastisement and the punishment cannot be prevented by those who sin.
...wise. Allah is wise in all His works, forgiving whom He wills, and punishing whom He wills.
Here the theme returns to him who is-carried away by-grandeur, in the word of the Most High:
Are they looking but that Allah come to them in canopies of the clouds, and the angels too, the affair consummated? While unto Allah return the affairs.
It means: do those hypocrites expect that Allah should appear before them? Is that what it would take before they believe and cast off their hypocrisy and their disbelief? The Jews at that time believed that Allah would come down surrounded by canopies of clouds, accompanied by the angels..
...the affair consummated... It means on the day when existence is transformed from its condition and there shall no longer be an opportunity for fulfilling the obligations; in other words the day of resurrection.
...And unto Allah return the affairs. And that happens on the day of reckoning, punishment and reward, not on a day of deeds and engagement.
This ạyah points out some of the fables of the book-folk in mockery and derision. It then follows that with a strong warning that the when the affair is decided, there is no further opportunity for fulfilling the obligations.
Having indicated some of the Israeli myths, the theme now turns to censure the tribe of Israel for their stubborn obstinacy in denying the portents:
Ask the sons of Israel: how many a clarifying portent We gave them?
And whoso substitutes the blessing of Allah after it has come to him – indeed Allah is severe in punishment.
Ask the sons of Israel: how many a clarifying portent We gave them?... It means ask them how many clear and clarifying proofs they received, and yet nevertheless they remained obstinate opponents and did not believe.
...And whoso substitutes the blessing of Allah... That is, in disbelief and refuses to accept those portents after they have come to them,
...–indeed Allah is severe in punishment. In other words, he should prepare himself to be severely chastised.
The worldly life is adorned for those who disbelieve, and they ridicule those who believe, while those who are guardful are above them on the day of resurrection; and Allah provisions whom He wills without reckoning.
The worldly life is adorned for those who disbelieve,...‘The worldly life' is given for al-ĥayạt al-dunyạ, which literally means the near life, as opposed to the distant life of the hereafter. That which is made to seem attractive for them is the sum of its factors, some of them positive, or ‘true’ (ĥaqq), and some of them negative, or ‘false’ (bạţil). Allah made life beautiful and such that it makes itself attractive, while the devil and the spirit and the desires make life appear attractive so as to divert man from the hereafter.
...and they ridicule those who believe,... They mock the believers for having turned away from the world, as they see it, and for turning towards the hereafter, in which they themselves do not believe.
...while those who are guardful are above them on the day of resurrection; On the day of resurrection those who are guardful, the believers, are above those disbelievers in rank, status and level, for they acted for that day and therefore attain to the good of it, whereas the disbelievers did not act for it and therefore shall remain on that day asking, empty-handed.
...and Allah provisions whom He wills without reckoning. Provision in the world is not attained by disbelief and paying exclusive attention to the world, such that those of the hereafter are denied it. Rather, provision in the world is obtained both by the disbeliever and the believer. Thus the believer has the blessings of the world and is above the disbeliever in the hereafter.
There is no doubt but that every movement of reform will of necessity split the ranks of the people previously in unison over the issue of corruption, and this was certainly true in the case of the Prophets:
The people were a single nation, then Allah raised the Prophets as givers of glad tidings and as warners, and He sent down with them the book in truth, for it to judge among the people in what they differed over; but none differed about it save those who had been given it after the clarifications had come to them, in resentment among themselves. So Allah guided those who believed to what they differed about, the truth, by His permission; and Allah guides whom He wills to a straight road.
The people were a single nation, then Allah raised the Prophets as givers of glad tidings and as warners,...The Prophets were sent to the people with glad tidings for those who would believe and perform virtuous deeds, and as warners for those who would disbelieve and disobey.
...and He sent down with them the book in truth...-And Allah sent down the book in truth for the book to be with them. ‘In truth' is given for bi‘l-ĥaqq, which is an ‘explanative' (tawžịĥị) qualification in that whatever Allah sends down is ‘in truth' – the book's being sent down ‘in truth' is emphasised to highlight its distinction over the other ‘books' or forms of legislation drawn up by leaders of governments for their subjects, for those are partly positive and ‘in truth’ and partly negative and ‘in falsehood’.
...for it to judge among the people in what they differed over;... The book was sent down so as to judge between the people in that over which they differed: their transactions and the remainder of their relations. Such differences do not mean that the people were not a ‘single nation,' for the unity of a nation withstands such differences.
Then the book itself became the source of disagreement within the nation, though these latter disagreements over the book were not rooted in sincere misunderstandings, for the book itself was clear, rather they were brought about by envy, transgression and desire:
...but none differed about it... each with his own opinion in accord to his own view and desires.
...save those who had been given it... That is, the nation to whom it had been sent.
...after the clarifications had come to them,... That is, the meanings of the book had become clear to them through clear proofs.
...in resentment among themselves.... Their differences arose out of resentment and oppression and jealousy that was current among them.
...So Allah guided those who believed to what they differed about, the truth,...-He guided the genuine believers who wished to obey the laws of Allah sincerely, to the truth over which the nation differed.
...by His permission;... Their being guided was by His permission, His generosity.
...and Allah guides whom He wills to a straight road. This means that He delivers whom He wills to the desired objective; or it means that He shows the path to whom He wills. The first is closer to the theme. The meaning of ‘whom He wills' is that none would be guided did He not will it, for guidance only comes about by His dispatching the Prophets.
Thereupon Allah asks of the believers who were suffering the consequences of such disagreements, in that they were being fought by the disbelievers for no more than that they had been guided by the guidance of Allah:
Or did ye reckon that ye shall enter the Garden without having come to ye the example of those who vacated before ye? They were touched by austerity and adversity and were shaken, until the Messenger and those who believed with `him said, ‘When is the succour of Allah? Be aware, indeed Allah's succour is near.'
Or did ye reckon... The meaning is corrective – that is, it means ‘ye thought, ye supposed, ye expected, O Muslims.
...that ye shall enter the Garden... Arbitrarily, without difficulties and trials.
...without having come to ye the example of those who vacated before ye?... That is, without there coming to ye tests and trials like those that came to the earlier communities of believers who remained fixed and constrained on the path in the face of afflictions and calamities? And He says ‘the example’ to give the meaning that they became an example, a role-model, in patient constraint and the enduring of hardships.
...They were touched by austerity... Those communities endured poverty.
...and adversity... Illness, injury and suchlike.
...and were shaken ,... That is, by a variety of painful convulsions and calamities.
...until the Messenger and those who believed with him said, ‘When is the succour of Allah?... That state of affairs persisted until the Messenger of each particular community and the believers with him would say, ‘When will Allah's succour arrive?' And this they would say out of their desire to hurry the promised deliverance, and to be free of the ordeal and hardships.
....’Be aware, indeed Allah's deliverance is near.’-This is the natural reply of a Messenger and believers whenever they are visited by trial and ordeal. Thus the ạyah warns the believers that they will only attain to the felicity of the world and the hereafter after they have been tried and tested.
Now comes the turn of several questions that had been asked of the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and his House, and which the Noble Quran answers, concerning the forsaking of pleasures and being constrained and steadfast in the path of obedience. The continuity of the theme is that the discourse has been about sacrifice in the path of faith and belief, and what follows is similar:
They ask thee what they should dispense. Say, ‘What goodness ye dispense is for the parents and the kin and the orphans and the destitute and the son of the path; and what good ye do, indeed Allah of it is a knower.'
They ask thee what they should dispense.... The address is to the Messenger, Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, who had been asked about the kinds of thing they should spend in the path of Allah. ...Say,... He was to tell them that the substance being spent is not the criterion, but rather whatever is spent is accepted provided it is spent upon the correct persons. Whatever is spent is acceptable, provided the recipient is worthy of it – just as the dispensing will not be accepted if the recipient is not worthy of it. So the criterion is not what is spent, but upon whom it is spent.
...‘What goodness ye dispense... Whatever it is.
...is... That is, it must be.
...for the parents and the kin... The donor’s own parents and relatives
...and the destitute and the son of the path;... And suchlike upon one can dispense seeking the satisfaction of Allah.
...and what good ye do,... That is, whether dispensing or other than dispensing.
...indeed Allah of it is a knower.' Allah knows about it all, and gives a reward of goodness in return for goodness.
It is recorded that the ạyah's being sent down was occasioned by ‘Amr ibn al-Jumụĥ, who was old and wealthy and who asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what should I give in charity and to whom should I give it?' And so the ạyah was sent down.
The theme now returns to the previous portent, on the topic of self-sacrifice and convulsions:
Written upon ye is battling – it is a hatefulness to ye, and it may be that ye hate a thing while it is good for ye; and it may be that ye love a thing while it is bad for ye. And Allah knows, while ye know not.
Written upon ye is battling...‘Battling’ is given for qitạl, meaning to engage in death-struggles, battles or warfare. It is prescribed with those fighting against ye, in the path of true belief or for the sake of humanity.
...—it is a hatefulness to ye, and it may be that ye hate a thing while it is good for ye;... That is, you do not like it, but it is a fact that it is good for you as it secures your honour and your salvation.
...and it may be that ye love a thing while it is bad for ye.... On the other hand, it may be that to refrain from fighting seems good on account of its physical ease and the absence of stress on the heart, but in fact it is evil, for it leads to the decline of honour, power and dignity, and to the domination of disbelievers and strangers.
...And Allah knows, while ye know not . Allah knows what is good for us, and legislates accordingly.
One of the early expeditions sent out by the Messenger from Madịna decided to mount an attack, despite the month being Rajab, one of the sacred months. Although there was some doubt as to whether the day on which their attack took place fell in the month of Jamạdị or in Rajab, the idolaters raised a clamour demanding to know why the Messenger had sanctioned such an attack during a sacred month, and they sent a delegation to Madịna in order to ask the Messenger about it. And so this portent was sent down:
And they ask thee about the sacred month – battling in it. Say: battling in it is grievous, but barring from Allah’s path – and disbelieving in Him – and from the Sacred Masjid and driving out from it its folk is more grievous alongside Allah.
And tribulation is more grievous than battling, and they will not desist from battling with ye until they turn ye away from your religion, if they are able.
And whoso among ye turns away and-dies while he is a disbeliever – those are they whose deeds are for nothing in the world and the hereafter; and those are the companions of the fire, they are in it eternal.
And they ask thee about the sacred month – battling in it....-That is, they ask thee, O Messenger, about fighting in the sacred month.
...Say, battling in it is grievous,... That is, of itself it is grievous and not permitted. Warfare in the sacred month is grievous (kabịr), and in itself it is not permitted. Yet its sin is not so grievous as the sin the idolaters were committing:
...but barring from Allah’s path – and disbelieving in Him – and from the Sacred Masjid and driving out from it its folk is more grievous alongside Allah. Their acts of barring people from the path of Allah, disbelieving in Allah, and barring the Muslims from the Sacred Masjid and preventing them from performing the Hajj, and expelling the inhabitants of the sacred environs in the way they expelled the Messenger and the Muslims were more grievous. So how, then, could they criticise the Muslims for their sin, though serious, when they forgot their own sins that were far more serious.
...And tribulation is more grievous than battling,... Yes, their intrigue against the Muslims, their effort to seduce them from their religion and induce them back to the path of disbelief after their Islam, was worse than fighting; for such intrigue means the loss of the victim's world and hereafter, while killing deprives only of the world.
...and they will not desist from battling with ye until they turn ye away from your religion, if they are able.... That is, the idolaters would not desist from fighting against the Muslims until they turned them away from the religion, had they been able to do that.
...And whoso among ye turns away and dies while he is a disbeliever... This is in contrast to him who turns away and then returns once more and so dies a believer.
...—those are they whose deeds are for nothing... Such pitiful people have no goodness in store for them; all the good they might have done is lost, invalidated, cancelled out, and they gain no benefit from the belief they had prior to their disbelief.
...in the world and the hereafter,... In the world they lose the respect of the Muslims as well as losing their Muslim rights, while in the hereafter they will not be requited with the garden and the rewards.
...and those are the companions of the fire, they are in it eternal.'-They remain in the fire forever.
People supposed that those who killed in the month of Rajab, though not counted as sinners, would not be rewarded for their having violated the sanctity of the sacred month. Therefore Allah sent down:
Indeed those who believe and those who migrate and combat in Allah’s path – those hope for the mercy of Allah, and Allah is forgiving, merciful.
Those who believed and who migrated from their homes and their families and turned their backs on their property, all so as to be with the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, and who gave-themselves up to hardship and effort, the clearest instance of which was their making war, for the sake of Allah and to attain His satisfaction:—these are the souls who have a real hope of the mercy of Allah in this world and the next. And Allah is forgiving towards those who slip, merciful towards His servants the believers. He uses the term ‘hope' (yarjụna) since a person never knows what his future condition will be—whether he will be steadfast and constrained in the religion and the path of good so as to be rewarded, or whether he will succumb to the temptations and intrigues against his religion with the result that all his deeds will be for nothing.
They ask thee about wine and gambling. Say: in them is great sin, and benefits for the people; while their sin is greater than their benefit.
And they ask thee what they should dispense. Say: ‘The surplus.'
Just so does Allah clarify for ye the portents, that ye might reflect:
The Messenger of Allah was asked the rules about wine and gambling. ‘Wine' is put for al-khamr, meaning anything that makes a person drunk, the clearest form of which is wine derived from the grape. ‘Gambling' is put for al-maysir, and covers all forms of gambling. The Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, was to tell them that both gambling and alcohol are highly sinful – on account of the serious corruption they cause. It is true that wine gives pleasure and joy, while to trade in it brings profit; and that gambling too brings pleasure to the gambler, and can profit whoso is successful at it. Yet the sin in them is greater than their benefit, since the damage they cause to physical health, reason and property is greater than the pleasure and profit they bring; not to mention the long-term consequences that affect a person because of them.
...And they ask thee what they should dispense... Here the reply is in line with the question of ‘what should be spent (in charity)?' rather than that of ‘upon whom should it be spent?'
...Say, ‘The surplus.’... The Messenger was to tell his people they should dispense ‘the surplus' (al-'afw), meaning the wealth that is left over after expenditure (nafaqah), for charity is not to be given from the expenditure of oneself and one's family, for that is an obligation that takes precedence over charity, which is desirable (mustahab) but not obligatory, and it is clear that in the presence of limitations, obligatory matters must be attended to before matters that are desirable.
...Just so does Allah clarify for ye the portents, that ye might reflect.The pronouns here are plural. ‘Portents' (ạyạt), here, means the conclusive instructions related to the Law and the Legislation, so that we the people may reflect:
On the world and the hereafter.
And they ask thee about the orphans. Say: rectification for them is best; and if ye intermix with them, they are your brothers, and Allah knows the corrupter from the rectifier; and had Allah willed He would certainly have distressed ye. Indeed Allah is grand, wise.
On the world and the hereafter....Reflection on the world and the hereafter: we are to combine them in our considerations, for then we will see the beauty of the rules. Otherwise, considerations of the world alone would give rise to a weakness of the type that at the moment of dispensing, for example, one suddenly finds oneself in need of wealth. And considerations of the hereafter alone would give rise to the opposite weakness of giving everything away. And the same is true of all the rules: their beauty is not realised until one reflects on both lives, and understands what is best for both.
...And they ask thee about the orphans.... They ask, that is, about how to live with them. It is narrated that when the portent ‘and do not approach the property of the orphan, but by that which is beautiful' was sent down, those who had guardian-ship over orphans at once moved to cut off the orphan in his food and drink, so as not to be affected in their own wealth. This became hard for them, and so the Messenger was asked about it. This ạyah was then sent down:
...Say: rectification for them is best;... It means that to do right by them, and to be beneficent towards their wealth and to live with them a goodly life, without taking a wage or other compensation, is better than casting them off.
...and if ye intermix with them,... It means mixing your property with theirs, precisely measured, as partners,
...they are your brothers.... They are brothers in faith, and brother lives with brother in the goodly life.
...And Allah knows the corrupter from the rectifier;... He knows the intentions of those who intermix with the orphans, whether they wish the corruption of consuming the orphans' wealth, or whether they wish the goodness of preserving the orphans' wealth until they are mature and old enough to look after it themselves.
...and had Allah willed He would certainly have distressed ye.... It means that He could have made it very difficult for us by commanding restraint from the wealth of orphans, and by forbidding the mingling of the guardians' wealth with that of the orphans. Therefore, since He did not do that, be good enough not to consume their wealth in corruption and greed.
...Indeed Allah is grand, wise.' He has the power to cast us into difficulty and distress. And He is wise, doing only what is beneficial and required by His wisdom.
Now the theme turns to a set of family laws about marriage and divorce. Perhaps the general link between these ạyạt and those that precede them is that those concluded with the law of the orphan, so that it remained to explain the nest in which the human young are to be raised, and how it must be in order for the children to grow up healthy – in body, mind and emotions:
And marry not the female partnerists, until they believe – and certainly a believing slave girl is better than a female partnerist, though she astonish ye.
And give not in marriage to partnerists until they believe – and certainly a believing slave is better than a partnerist, though he astonish ye. Those beckon to the fire, while Allah beckons to the Garden and forgiveness, by His permission.
And He clarifies His portents for the people; that they might be take heed.
And marry not the female partnerists, until they believe... The address is to Muslim men; ‘female partnerists' is given for mushrikạt, whom Muslims are not to marry, whether they are book-folk or not, for the book-folk are also partnerist, as the Most High says about them, ‘Exalted is He of what they partner (unto Him).'-But if they believe and enter into Islam, the Muslims may then marry them.
...– and certainly a believing slave girl is better than a female partnerist, though she astonish ye.... No matter how much a partnerist woman may astonish, through her looks, her property or her family and connections, nevertheless the lowestclass girl is better if she is a believer.
...And give not in marriage to partnerists until they believe...-In the same way, Muslim women are not to be given to polytheists or partnerists, unless and until they believe and enter into Islam.
...– and certainly a believing slave is better than a partnerist, though he astonish ye.... A believing slave is better than the most astonishing partnerist.
...Those beckon to the fire,... Partnerists invite to the fire, either by inviting others to their polytheism, or by simply having that religion; for when one's close companion is without religion, one is oneself affected and influenced away from religion by that person.
...while Allah beckons to the Garden and forgiveness, by His permission.... Muslims, male and female, in taking their principles from Allah, glorified be He, invite others with their tongues or the simple facts of their faith, to the success of the garden.
...And He explains His portents for the people, that they might take heed.Allah explains His laws and His arguments in order for the people to reflect, take heed and be guided.
And they ask thee about the bleeding. Say, ‘It is an annoyance, so be away from the women during the bleeding, and do not be near them until they are clean. So when they have become cleansed, go to them as Allah has ordered ye. Indeed Allah loves those who oft-repent, and He loves those who cleanse themselves.’
The question the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, was asked was whether sexual intercourse is lawful with a woman while she is enduring her period of monthly bleeding. He was to tell his questioners that their bleeding is a hardship, both dirty and troublesome, and that their husbands should not be near them and should not have sex with them until they become clean of the blood. Then, when they have cleansed themselves of the blood, their husbands are to go with them and have sex with them in the way Allah has commanded – through the organ from which the blood flows.
...Indeed Allah loves those who oft-repent,... Allah loves those who repent again and again after their sinning, in that each time they sin they repent and return to Allah and seek His forgiveness. Perhaps the mention of this turning is on account of him who slips and goes to his wife during her monthly bleeding, Allah accepts his returning no matter how much it happens, provided the regret and the returning is sincere.
...and He loves those who take to cleanliness.' The meaning is that He loves those who with water clean themselves inside and out, or cleanse themselves of sins through the seeking of His forgiveness.
Your women are a tilth for ye, so go to your tilth as ye like, and send ahead for yourselves. And be guardful of Allah, and know that ye are to meet Him; and give glad tidings to the believers.
Your women are a tilth for ye,... ‘Tilth' is given for harth. It means that a man's wife is like a tillage, a plantation for a man to sow his seed just as the farmer sows his seed in the ground.
...so go to your tilth as you like... It means at whatever time you like, with the exceptions of the period of bleeding, the days of fast and the Iĥrạm of Hajj and so forth. Or it means wherever you like – that is, in the front from behind her, from in front of her or from her side. Or it means however you like: kneeling, standing or lying. Or it may be that what is meant is the two ways, though that seems remote from the theme of the ạyah.
...and send ahead for yourselves.... It means have children, for the child remains like a person's store or savings. Or it means send ahead the reward of your obedience through your remembrance of the commands and prohibitions.
...And be guardful of Allah,... Guardful of Him, that is, by respecting His commands and prohibitions.
...and know that ye are to meet Him;... This means that each person will meet His reckoning, and the requital.
...and do thou give glad tidings to the believers. Their glad tidings is that they shall achieve every honour and blessing.
Remaining on the topic of women we come to the story of one Ibn Rawạhah, who swore that he would not enter his women, nor talk to them and nor have good relations with them; and then said that having made that oath, it was not permitted for him to do otherwise. This portent was therefore revealed, appropriate to the portents about the family and women that precede and follow it:
And do not put Allah as the overseer of your oaths lest ye be righteous and guardful and rectify between the people. And Allah is hearing, knowing.
Such oaths as these are invalid and corrupt and have no force. Allah hears the oaths and indeed He hears all our words, just as he knows all our conditions and our every intention.
Allah blames ye not for distraction in your oaths, but he blames ye for what your hearts have earned. And Allah is forgiving, clement.
Allah blames ye not ... And will not punish over them.
... for distraction in your oaths,... It means the oaths that become habitual, namely ‘No, by Allah!' (lạ wa ‘llạh) and ‘Yes, by Allah!' (balạ wa ‘llạh), without them affecting the ownership of property or wronging anyone.
...but He blames ye for what your hearts have earned.... It means the breaking of oaths that at the time of being made were intended to be serious, genuine oaths, so as to have practical consequences.
...And Allah is forgiving, clement. Allah forgives the sins, and is clement towards the disobedient, so let them repent and return. The repeated mention of Allah's being forgiving in so many portents is to make prominent the issue of repenting for the disobedient who are excessive in their disobedience due to their passion and desires – Allah does not close to them the door of forgiveness, no matter how much they sin and are disobedient: whenever they turn to Him in seeking forgiveness, He turns to them and forgives.
The theme now returns to the issue of the family, with some connection to the topic of oaths, in His word:
For those who forswear their women is a wait of four months – so if they return, then indeed Allah is forgiving, merciful.
...For those who forswear their women is a wait of four months... ‘Forswear' is given for al-ịlạ, meaning to swear not to have sex with one's wife as a punishment for her. This is permissible for four months, but after that the judge (al-ĥạkịm) forces the man to choose between normality of relations, including sex, with a penalty, and divorce; and if he refuses both options then he is imprisoned.
...so if they return,... If after the four months they return to their wives and have a normal relationship with them,
...then indeed Allah is forgiving, merciful. Allah will forgive them their oath, and will have mercy on them.
And if they resolve on divorce, then indeed Allah is hearing, knowing.
But if such men resolve on divorce and divorce, Allah hears the divorce, and He knows what is in the hearts, and He knows the real intentions.
And the divorced women wait by themselves for three courses; and it is not permitted for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they be believing in Allah and the last day.
And their husbands were more just to return them during that, if theywant rectification.
And they have rights like those over them, in honour.
And men have a degree above them.
And Allah is grand, wise.
And the divorced women wait by themselves for three courses;...When a woman is divorced she is to keep herself away from marriage and such like ‘for three courses'. ‘Courses' is given for qurụ.in, meaning the periods of cleanliness between the monthly bleedings. So when a woman is divorced during a period of cleanliness in which she has not been entered, that period of cleanliness as well as the two following clean periods – with between them a period of bleeding – make up her ‘iddah, or waiting period. And so when she sees herself bleeding for the third time, her ‘iddah is fulfilled.
...and it is not permitted for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs... She might wish to hide her pregnancy, or she might seek to conceal her monthly bleeding so as to forestall her ex-husband from returning to her, if it is that type of divorce, or to cut short her ‘iddah.
...if they believe in Allah and the last day.'-Whoso believes in these two is bound to go straight in activity and rest, words and deeds, in the knowledge that Allah is informed of all they do and shall requite them.
...And their husbands were more just to return them during that, if they seek goodness. It means the husbands who have divorced their wives in a ‘divorce of return' (ţalạq raj'ị) – it were better for them to return their wives to themselves during the waiting period, if theywanted goodness for their women, rather than to harm them. This was because when a man wished to harm his wife he would divorce her once and leave her; then, when her waiting period was almost complete he would return her to himself, then leave her for a while, then he would divorce her again and leave her for a while just as he had done at the beginning; then he would return her to himself once more and leave her for a while and then divorce her again. This is forbidden, though the law of return is established.
...And they have rights like those over them, in honour.' Women have rights on their husbands, just as husbands have rights on their wives. Amongst these is the right to sex.
...And men have a degree above them.' Divorce is in the hands of the husband, and his is the right of obedience.
...And Allah is grand, wise.' This reminds us that Allah has the power to make His commands accepted, but that He establishes the commands in accordance to the best interests and the general good.
It may be that the words ‘they have rights like those over them' explains the terms of the ‘iddah or waiting period, during which each has rights over the other, though the husband has some distinction over the wife in that the choice of whether to return or not lies with the husband.
Divorce is twice, then retention in honour or discharge in kindness.
And it is not lawful for ye to take a thing from what ye gave them – unless the couple fear they will not maintain Allah's boundaries. So if ye fear they will not maintain Allah's boundaries, there is no stain against the two in that by which she redeems herself.
These are Allah's boundaries, so violate them not. And whoso violates the boundaries of Allah – those, they are the wrongful.
A man may divorce his wife twice, after that, if he returns to her after these divorces, it is obligatory for him to retain her in honour, maintaining good relations with her. But after a third divorce he is not allowed to return to her, and must discharge her and let her go, giving her all her rights without wronging her, and above that he is to be good and generous to her in compensation for her broken heart. And it is not lawful for the husband at the time of divorce to take anything from what he gave his wife as a dower or marriage portion (mahr). The exception is the case of a couple who fear they will not be able to maintain Allah's boundaries, the rights and duties of marriage. In such cases, when the judges fear that a couple will fail to observe the rights and duties of marriage, it is perfectly acceptable for the wife to make a payment and for the husband to accept that payment, and for her to use her property in this way to free herself from the marriage.
These are Allah's boundaries, so violate them not.. These laws given here are Allah's boundaries; they are His commands and His prohibitions, and none should infringe them through disobedience.
...And whoso violates the boundaries of Allah – those, they are the wrongful. Whoso infringes the boundaries of Allah, and opposes His commands and prohibitions, they are the wrong-doers, the wrongful.
Then if he divorces her, she is not lawful for him thereafter until she marries a husband other than him. Then if he divorces her, there is no stain against the two—if they suppose they will maintain Allah's boundaries.
And these are Allah's boundaries; He clarifies them for a knowing tribe.
When a man divorces his wife for the third time, having returned her twice before, she is then forbidden for him.
...until she marries a husband other than him.... When she marries someone else, she becomes just like every other woman for her first husband. So:
...Then if he divorces her,... and she completes her waiting period.
...there is no stain against the two... That is, the wife and the former husband.
...for co-returning... For getting back together again, provided they suppose that they will be able to observe Allah's boundaries and get on well with each other:
...—if they suppose they will maintain Allah's boundaries.... In fact, even if they do not suppose that, the marriage will indeed be valid, although it will be sinful. In that it is like the cleansing of one's hand with water that is stolen – the hand is ruled as clean though the act of cleansing was forbidden.
...And these are Allah's boundaries;... It means that these rulings with regard to marriage and divorce are His commands and prohibitions.
...He explains them for a knowing tribe. It is the people of knowledge who benefit from these rulings.
And when ye have divorced the women and they are reaching their term, so retain them in honour or discharge them in honour. And do not retain them in injury that ye violate. And whoso does that has certainly wronged himself.
And take not the portents of Allah in scorn, and recall Allah's blessing upon ye, and that which He sent down upon ye, the Book and the Wisdom, by which He admonishes ye.
And be guardful of Allah, and know that Allah is of all things knowing.
And when ye have divorced the women and they are reaching their term, so retain them in honour or discharge them in honour.... When a divorced women nears the end of her ‘iddah, it is for the husband to return to her, in a revocable (raj'ị) divorce, and retain her. ‘In honour' is given for bi ‘l-ma'rụf; it means the observance of the rights and duties of marriage as recognised by those wise and learned in the Law. If he does not wish to retain her, then he lets her go; this too ‘in honour,' meaning that he gives her all her rights and causes her no harm.
...And do not retain them in injury... It is a command not to revoke the divorce with the intention of causing the woman harm by lengthening the time of her ‘iddah, or by decreasing her provision.
...that ye violate.... It means that such treatment of woman is wrongful and an infringement of their rights.
...And whoso does that has certainly wronged himself.... Whoso wrongs a woman in this way wrongs himself: he damages his standing among the people, and presents himself for the punishment of Allah, glorified be He.
...And take not the portents of Allah in scorn,... Allah's rulings, His commands and prohibitions are to be taken seriously.
...and recall Allah's blessing upon ye,... All the good things that come to a man are from Allah, glorified be He, and they include the blessing of a wife, through whom man finds ease and the attainment of that for which he longed.
...and that which He sent down upon ye, the Book and the Wisdom,... These too are to be remembered and appreciated; learning from them is a source of honour and dignity, of being guided to one's best interests, and of finding the life of bliss.
...by which He admonishes ye. In teaching us from those sources Allah admonishes us. Therefore:
…And be guardful of Allah,... It is for the people to be extremely wary lest they disobey His commands and prohibitions.
...and know that Allah is of all things knowing. your deeds and your intentions are known to Him, glorified be He; so do not bring upon yourselves His wrath and indignation.
And when ye have divorced the women and they have reached their term, do not stop them from marrying their husbands when it is agreed among them in honour.
There for ye is that by which He admonishes whoso of ye believes in Allah and the last day. That is purer for ye and cleaner. And Allah knows, while ye know not.
And when ye have divorced the women and they have reached their term, do not stop them from marrying their husbands... Woman who have been divorced and have completed their ‘iddah, are not to be prevented from marrying again, whether they wish to marry their former husbands, or some other man. ‘Their husbands' (azwạjahunna) suggests the former. And it is said that the ạyah was sent down concerning Mu'qil ibn Yasạr, who prevented his sister Jumalạ from returning to her first husband, ‘Ạsim ibn ‘Adị, who had divorced her. After she had completed her ‘iddah, they wished to return to each other again by another marriage, but Mu'qil prevented her. If this is so then the meaning of ‘their husbands' is their first husbands, and no one has the right to prevent a divorced woman from returning to her former husband by a new marriage.
...when it is agreed between them in honour.... It means the terms and conditions of marriage and the conjugal life as permitted in the Law.
...There for you is that by which He admonishes those of you who believe in Allah and the last day. The believer takes care to avoid Allah's indignation, and strives in reaching out for His satisfaction.
…That is purer for you and cleaner.... That which is given about marriage is the means of us being more productive and healthier, for marriage is about generation, security and the extension of life into the future.
…And Allah knows, while ye know not. It is for us, therefore, to obey His commands and observe His boundaries.
The mothers suckle their children two entire years, for such as wish to complete the suckling.
And upon him to whom the child is born is their provision and their clothing, in honour—no soul is charged but to its expanse. The mother is not harmed by her child, nor him to whom the child is born by his child. And likewise for the heir.
Then if the two wish a weaning by mutual consent and consultation, there is no stain against them.
Then if yewish to seek wet-nursing for your children, there is no stain against ye provided ye hand over what ye granted, honourably.
And be guardful of Allah, and know that Allah is an observer over what ye do.
The mothers suckle their children two entire years, for such as wish to complete the suckling.... A mother is to breastfeed her child for a period of two complete years – twenty-four months. That is recommended in Islam, and some scholars consider it obligatory. ‘Him to whom the child is born' is given for al-mawlụd lah; it means the father. He is called this so as to increase compassion; the child is born to the father and so He must feel for it.
...And upon him to whom the child is born is their provision and their clothing, in honour... The mother is to be given the food and clothing she needs as recognised by the law and by common opinion, in accordance to her condition, for as long as she is breastfeeding. Most commentators hold this to be about the divorced mother; otherwise, a woman's provision and clothing is borne by the husband on account of the marriage, not on account of the breastfeeding.
...—no soul is charged but to its expanse... It means that both father and mother are obliged only as far as they are able: the mother is not made to suffer the breast--feeding for nothing, and nor does the father benefit from his child later in life at no cost to himself. Therefore, what the mother is able to do is breastfeed the baby; and what he is able to do is pay for that which returns to profit him.
...The mother is not harmed by her child... It means that she is not to breast-feed for nothing while the father takes advantage of her affection for the child, and so defers from providing for her. Or it means that the child is not to be taken from her and given to a stranger to satisfy the father's anger against her, so that she is harmed by the absence of her child.
...and him to whom the child is born is not harmed by his child. It means that the mother should not take advantage of the father's affection for the child in demanding more provision and clothing than is reasonable in return for breast-feeding. Or it means that the father should not harm the child by taking him from his mother and giving him to a stranger to breast-feed, as the milk of the child's mother is best for the child. The former is closer to the theme.
...And likewise upon the heir.' It means that if the father dies, then his heirs must pay the provision and clothing of the mother while she is nursing his child. It should not be hidden that the payment for breast-feeding a child is to be paid from the child's inheritance, if the father dies.
...Then if the two wish a weaning by mutual consent and consultation, there is no stain against them.' If before the two years are over the couple decide together that the child should be weaned, so that the child does not suffer as when one of the two unilaterally decides that the child be weaned; for after consultation it would not take place unless it was in the child's best interests.
...Then if ye wish to seek wet-nursing for your children,... It is addressed to the fathers about finding wet-nurses for their children other than their mothers.
...there is no stain against ye when ye submit what ye granted,... It means there is no sin and no harm provided you pay them what was agreed upon as wages.
...honourably.... It means that the wages should be paid in full, without delay and without condescension and sanctimony. This is a command, and is not merely descriptive, as is frequent in the holy Quran; showing that the action is a necessary detail of honesty, sincerity and guardfulness (taqwạ).
...And be guardful of Allah,... Be wary of all Allah's commands; including those given here about breast-feeding.
...and know that Allah is an observer of what ye do. Nothing is missed by Him, glorified be He, and nothing can be hidden; so let your actions be such that they will please Him, and accord to His commands.
And those among ye who are taken leaving wives—they wait by themselves four months, plus ten. Then, when they reach their term, there is no stain against ye in what they do of themselves, in honour. And Allah of what ye do is informed.
And those among ye who are taken leaving wives... The ạyah is about women whose husbands die.
...—they wait by themselves four months, plus ten.... They are to keep to themselves for four months and ten days. This period of mourning during which they are not allowed to adorn themselves nor engage in courtship, is obligatory on them. Perhaps the term given as ‘themselves' (anfusahunna) indicates that though the spirit may be inclined to marriage, nevertheless the obligation is that it be made to wait and that it be restrained.
...Then, when they reach their term,... It means when they have completed their period of ‘iddah.
...there is no stain against ye in what they do of themselves,... It means that the Muslim community must let widows carry on as they like, adorning themselves and courting and marrying, for they are by themselves, and people are in control of themselves.
...in honour.' The widows are not to do anything dishonourable that contradicts Islam.
...And Allah is aware of what ye do.' He is aware of their deeds; nothing of your obedience and disobedience escapes him.
There is no stain against ye in your hinting at proposing to the women, or harbouring it within yourselves. Allah knows that ye shall make them understand; but do not make troth with them in secret, but that ye say an honourable word.
And do not determine upon the tie of marriage until the book reaches its term.
And know that Allah knows what is in your spirits, so be wary of Him, and know that Allah is forgiving, clement.
There is no stain against ye in your hinting at proposing to the women,... Those who are attracted to a woman who is in her ‘iddah, may hint and allude to her their intentions in a roundabout way, but are not to speak directly about it, as that would infringe against the spirit of ‘iddah during which there remains something of the connection between the woman and her former husband.
...or harbouring it within yourselves. It means that those who conceal their interest in a divorced women, without speaking about it directly or indirectly, are blameless, for verbal hints and the concealment of thoughts are not punishable.
...Allah knows that ye shall make them understand;... That is, that you shall make them understand your desire to marry them.
...but do not make troth with them in secret,... The men are not to declare anything about it openly, and they are not to secretly initiate a courtship away from the attention of people.
...but that ye say an honourable word. It means a hint that is not an open declaration, without saying anything ugly, as is the wont of many people.
...And do not determine upon the tie of marriage... During ‘iddah marriage should not even be thought about, let alone performed. The form of this injunction is similar to ‘Do not approach the property of orphans.'
...until the Book reaches its term.' It means that which is written in the Book: four months and ten days.
...And know that Allah knows what is in your spirits,... He knows all our intentions about marriage, and how secret our intentions are kept.
...so be cautious of Him,.. It means be wary of disobeying Him.
...and know that Allah is forgiving, clement. He is forgiving and quickly conceals the sins, but do not let this deceive ye. And He is clement, and does not hurry His punishment, but do not let that be a cause of your presumption in violating His commands.
After the rule of the husband who dies, now comes the rule of divorce. If the divorce takes place before ‘entry' and no bride-gift (mihr) was mentioned in the contract (‘aqd), then the woman is to be given compensation. And if she is divorced before ‘entry' and a bride-gift was specified in the contract, then she is to be given half of that bride-gift.
There is no stain against ye that ye divorce the women while not having touched them, nor having put yourselves under an obligation to them. And compensate them, the wealthy to his means and the poor to his means – a comforting in honour; a duty upon the beautifiers.
There is no stain against ye that ye divorce the women while not having touched them, nor having put yourselves under an obligation to them.... It is permitted to divorce women before having touched them by entering them and before specifying the bride-gift, or mihr, that is termed ‘an obligation' (farịžah) as it is obligatory once specified. Since divorce in these circumstances is permissible, it should not be thought that marriage is just for sex, and so therefore a divorce should not be necessary when sex has not taken place.
...And compensate them,... It means compensate the woman with that which will please her; this is obligatory in return for her broken heart.
...the wealthy to his means... Like a house, a servant and suchlike.
...and the poor to his means... A ring, a dirham, or suchlike.
...—a comforting in honour;... There should be no profligacy, no meanness.
...a duty upon the beautifiers. Those who work beauty are those who lead the beautiful life of obedience to His commands.
And if ye divorce them before having touched them, but after ye have obliged for them an obligation – then half of what ye obliged, unless they waive or he in whose hand is the knot of marriage waives. And that ye waive is closer to guardfulness; and forget not profusion among yourselves – Allah of what ye do is an observer.
And if ye divorce them before having touched them,... It means women who are divorced before the marriage is consummated.
...but after ye have obliged for them an obligation... At the time of the contract a mihr was specified, and so became an obligation upon the husband.
...– then half of what ye obliged,... The woman is to be given half of the mihr that was specified. That is the obligatory rule. Its exception is:
...unless they waive,... It means unless the woman waives her right and takes nothing and grants it all to the husband.
...or he in whose hand is the knot of marriage waives... This would seem to mean that the husband may give up his half of the mihr and give her all of it. Yet it is narrated that it means the bride's guardian, if she is a minor, or her representative (wakịl) if she is older.
...And that you waive is closer to guardfulness;... It means it is better to give up one's right as a gift, than to approach sinfulness by seeking what one has no right to.
...and forget not liberality among yourselves... It means that some should be liberal to others, and give up their own rights for the sake of others. Perhaps the difference between ‘waiving' (‘afw) and ‘profusion' (fažl) is that ‘waiving' is giving up all one's right, whereas ‘liberality' is parting with some of it.
...—Allah is an observer of what you do.' He rewards us for the good we do, and for our evil deeds He punishes us.
The Holy Quran continually punctuates the mood of the rules with allusions to the power of the creation's God, His magnificence, His mercy, His forgiveness and suchlike. This is to accentuate the concentration and relate the rules to the Creator, so as to ease deep under-standing. And since the portents of the rules have been lengthy, especially those concerning the somewhat sorrowful topics of divorce and death and so forth, now they are interrupted by portents about the prayer so as to light up the hearts with security and peace—'Know: through the prayer the hearts find contentment... Moreover, there is a connection between these portents and the general sense of those that preceded and follow them, leading to the presentation of the topic of ‘prayer in fear' (salạt al-khawf), and for this reason it is likely the portents are placed here among those concerning death and divorce.
Attend to the prayers, and to the middle prayer; and stand for Allah in subservience.
Attend to the prayers, and to the middle prayer;... Maintain and observe the prayers, all of them, and especially ‘the middle prayer'. This latter is the noon (zuhr) prayer, as it comes at the middle of the day. The Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, would perform this prayer unshaded in the mid-day heat, so that this was the hardest prayer for his companions, and he would pray with only a line or two lines behind him—as narrated from some of the companions.
...and stand for Allah in subservience. ‘In subservience' is given for qạnitịn, from qunụt, which is supplication and entreaty. During the prayer one stands with one's hands raised supplicating in qunụt; and it is this qunụt of the prayer that is meant, or supplication in general.
So if ye fear, then standing or mounted. Then, when ye are secure, recall Allah just as He taught ye what ye were not knowing.
When the prayer is to be performed in fearful circumstances that prevent the prayer from being properly performed in full observance of its conditions and rites, such as in the face of an enemy who does not give leave for the Muslim force to break for prayer, then the Muslims may pray standing or on the back of their mounts.
Then, when secure again and safe from any enemy, then they are to remember Allah by performing the prayer in full, just as Allah has taught all they need to know for the good of their lives in the world and the hereafter.
Now the theme returns once more to complete the previous discussion of the rules, after contentment has been raised in the hearts and the mood has been refreshed:
And those of ye who are taken and leave wives – a testimony for their wives as comforting for the year, without putting them out. Then if they depart, there is no stain against ye for what they do of themselves in honour. And Allah is grand, wise.
And those of ye who are taken and leave wives – a testimony for their wives as comforting for the year,... Upon feeling the approach of death, it is best for men to make a testimony in favour of their wives, so that the executor arranges their provision and clothing for the period of one complete year.
...without putting them out.... And they should not be put out of their husband's house. However, they are perfectly free to depart if they wish to, and they may do whatever they like, within the bounds of honour. This means that after their ‘iddah of four months and ten days is complete, they may adorn themselves and even marry; whereas before that period is over to do such things is forbidden and would be dishonourable.
...And Allah is grand... He issues His rulings as per His power and His authority.
...wise.' His rulings are not arbitrary; but for good reasons and for the best interests of all. This ạyah, in this reading, is not abrogated by the ạyah: ‘Four months, plus ten.' (2;235)
And for the divorced women a comforting in honour—a duty upon the guardful.
Women who are divorced are to be given some provision, whether their provision is obligatory upon the husbands or not. This puts an end to discord, and is what is expected of those who are guardful against violating the commands of Allah, glorified be He, whether obligatory or desirable.
Just so does Allah clarify His portents, that ye might reason.
The portents are clarified just as the rules are clarified, as food for reflection.
Now, from the atmosphere of the family and its extension and its cessation, the theme turns to a story highlighting life and death – similar to the topic of the family in that between them they are about the extension and ending of life. It is an amazing story. The population of one of the townships around Damascus (Shạm) numbered seventy-thousand households. Fleeing from plague, they came upon a town in ruins whose inhabitants had been ousted and had died of the plague. So they moved into it and within an hour the plague had killed them all. Soon their bodies were nothing but weather-beaten bones, when a Messenger, whose name was Hizqịl, passed by and was so moved that he began to weep, and said, ‘O Master, if Thou wished Thou would revive them within an hour, just as Thou made them die; then they would populate Thy land and father Thy servants, and would worship Thee with those who worship Thee.' The Messenger was inspired to say over them the Most Magnificent Name (al-Ism al-'Azam); he did so and they returned to life, looking at each other and praising Allah and glorifying Him:
Have thou not regarded those who departed from their homes in thousands wary of death: Allah said to them, ‘Die!' Then He gave them life. Indeed Allah is the Holder of profusion for the people, but most of the people thank not.
Have thou not regarded… It means ‘Have you not learned of.' The question form too is not purely interrogative, but is used to impart knowledge.
...those who departed from their homes in thousands wary of death… They were the seventy thousand who fled their township so as to avoid the plague. Yet they were taken by it:
...Allah said to them, ‘Die!'...-And so they were made dead.
...Then He gave them life.... He restored them to life, at the imploring of the Messenger Hizqịl.
...Indeed Allah is the Holder of profusion for the people,... Allah has profusion for all people, in creating them, provisioning them and managing their affairs.
...but most of the people thank not.... Most of them do not thank Him for His blessings and His profusion, but rather reduce them for themselves through disobedience.
And fight in Allah’s path, and know that Allah is hearing, knowing.
It means: now that you see there is nothing to be gained from fleeing from death, fight in the way of Allah, and do not flee in fear of death – and remember, Allah hears all your words, and knows about all your intentions and your deeds.
The giving of wealth and of lives for fighting in the path of Allah is not in vain; rather the warrior and the doer of righteousness lend to Allah that which they give up, then Allah the Most High returns it to them:
Who is it that will lend to Allah a beautiful loan, that He multiply it for him many times over? Allah straitens and He amplifies, and to Him ye are returned.
Who is it that will lend to Allah a beautiful loan, that He multiply it for him many times over?... Who is ready to give himself and his wealth in the path of Allah as a loan of beauty, free of the ugliness of show and fame and imposition and the other things that mar a loan? What is stopping ye—fear of poverty?
...Allah straitens... It means that He makes people poor.
...and He amplifies,... It means that He makes people rich. Therefore, miserliness will not profit a person, nor will a loan and generosity harm him. Or is it that you refuse to lend yourselves because you fear death?
...and to Him ye are returned. When you die He will give you better than what He took from you. The leader of believers, Imam ‘Ali, bliss be upon him, said to one of his sons, ‘Lend Allah your skull.'
Now comes another story about life and death, reinforcing the earlier story:
Have thou not regarded the leaders of the sons of Israel after Mụsạ, when they said to a Prophet of theirs, ‘Raise us a king, we will battle in Allah’s path!'
He said, ‘Might it be that if battling is written for ye, ye will not battle?'
They said, ‘And what is with us that we would not battle in Allah’s path, when we have been forced from our homes and from our sons?'
Then, when battling was written for them, they turned back, but for a few of them; and Allah is knowing of the wrongful.
Have thou not regarded... This means ‘Do you not know about...,' as clarified.
...the leaders of the sons of Israel after Mụsạ, when they said to a Prophet of theirs,... ‘Leaders’ is given for al–malạ.i, meaning a group on a single view. Their Prophet was Ishmụ.ịl (Samuel), Ismạ'ịl in Arabic. Theywanted a king to unite their people and lead them in fighting in the path of Allah, for their oppressors had humiliated them and driven them from their homes and had taken their women and children into captivity. In those times the Prophet would regulate the religious affairs, while the king would regulate military affairs and matters of sovereignty.
...He said, ‘Might it be that if battling is written for ye, ye will not battle?’... With this question the Prophet wished to take a covenant from them to the effect that were a king to be appointed for them, they would indeed fight.
...They said, And what is with us that we would not battle in Allah’s path, when we have been forced from our homes and from our sons?'... These leaders responded with indignation to their Prophet's suggestion that they would not fight, saying it was not possible that they would not fight, considering that their enemies' had driven them from their homes and from their children, as some of their children had been killed and some had been taken into captivity. Their Prophet asked Allah for what theywanted, and Allah answered his prayer and nominated for them a king and legislated fighting for them.
...Then, as soon as battling was written for them, they turned back, but for a few of them;... After all their beseeching, when the time came for action they lost their appetite for warfare and turned away.
...and Allah is knowing of the wrongful. ‘The wrongful,' here, are those who fled from the combat (al–jihạd) after their asking and imploring for it.
And their Prophet said to them, ‘Indeed Allah has raised Tạlụt as king.'
They said, ‘How can he have dominion over us, when we have more right to dominion than him, and he has not been given expansive wealth?'
He said, ‘Indeed Allah has chosen him over ye, and has increased him with a stretching in knowledge and body; and Allah gives dominion to whom He wills, Allah is expansive, knowing.
And their Prophet said to them, ‘Indeed Allah has raised Tạlụt as king.'… Their Messenger Ishmụ-ịl told them that Allah had appointed Tạlụt as their king. He was a descendent of Ibn Yạmịn, a brother of Yụsuf, bliss be upon him, and was not of the line of Prophets nor of the line of the kings, for the Prophets were descendents of Levi, a son of Ya'qụb, bliss be upon him, while the kings were descendents of Yahụzạ, another of Ya'qụb's sons.
...They said, ‘How can he have dominion over us, when we have more right to dominion than him, and he has not been given expansive wealth?'... Immediately they protested, saying that they themselves, who were of the line of Prophets and kings, were more entitled to dominion than Tạlụt. They also protested that Tạlụt was poor without the wealth necessary to spin the wheels of authority. Their Messenger replied to them that,
Indeed Allah has chosen him over ye,... Allah chooses whom He wills, and He chooses none but the best for the condition of His servants.
...and has increased him with a stretching in knowledge... A kingdom needs a king with knowledge, to enable him to carry out the nation's will.
...and body;... Tạlụt was stout and such that people dreaded him; he was brave such that his enemies feared him—and these are the qualifications of a king, not wealth; for knowledge, courage and dignity lead to wealth, not the other way around.
...and Allah gives dominion to whom He wills,... There was nothing remiss about giving dominion to a son of Ibn Yạmịn, for just as Allah previously placed dominion in the house of Yahụzạ, so He was now placing it in the person of Tạlụt. Dominion was no one's monopoly.
...and Allah is expansive,... Allah is expansive in power and generosity, and so He grants dominion to whom He wills.
...knowing.’ He knows best the interests of His servants, and He does nothing but what is best.
And their Prophet said to them, ‘Indeed the portent of his dominion is that the Tạbụt shall come to ye – in it is tranquillity from your Master and the remains of that the House of Mụsạ and the House of Hạrụn left behind; it is carried by the angels. Certainly in that is a portent for ye, if ye be believers.'
And their Prophet said to them, ‘Indeed the portent of his dominion is that the Chest shall come to ye... As a further proof that Allah had made Tạlụt their king, Ishmụ.ịl was to tell his people that the Tạbụt was to return to them. This was a chest-like thing that Allah sent down to the mother of Mụsạ for her to place him in it as a baby and cast him into the river. Thereafter it was kept as a sacred object amongst the sons of Israel; when Mụsạ was near to death he placed the tablets and his armour in it along with all his portents of Prophethood, and entrusted it to Joshua, his executor. It then remained among them for as long as they deserved it, until youths were playing with it in the streets. The sons of Israel were in honour and dignity for as long as they had it with them, but as soon as they began to act in disobedience and took it as a toy, Allah took it from them. Then the return of this chest was made a proof that Allah had made Tạlụt their king.
...—in it is tranquillity from your Master... It was a source of tranquillity for them in that they knew that through it they would be victorious, and that Tạlụt was indeed their king.
...and the remains of that which the House of Mụsạ kin and the House of Hạrụn left behind;... Mụsạ's staff was in it along with the tablets and a washbasin particular to the Prophets, and other things. These were inherited by the heirs of these two great Prophets, and they put them in the ark.
...it is carried by the angels... They indeed carried it, or they apparently carried it, for the view of the sons of Israel was that it was the angels between the sky and the earth who brought it.
...Certainly in that is a portent for ye, if ye be believers.’ In the return of the Tạbụt after its absence, was a sign of Tạlụt's dominion, for those of them who were sincere believers.
So when Tạlụt and the armies separated, he said, ‘Indeed Allah has tried ye with a river: whoso drinks from it, he is not of me; and whoso tastes it not, indeed he is of me – save for him who takes a sip with his hand.'
Then they drank from it, save for a few of them. Then, when they had crossed it – he and those who believed with him – they said, ‘We have no capacity today for Jạlụt and his armies.'
Said those who supposed they are to meet Allah, ‘How many a small band have overcome a band of many with Allah's permission. Indeed Allah is with the restrainers.'
So when Tạlụt and the armies separated,... That is, when they set off from the town. When the sons of Israel saw the return of the tạbụt, they confirmed Tạlụt's dominion, and they gathered around his banner and marched off for jihạd against their enemies.
...he said, ‘Indeed Allah has tried ye with a river: whoso drinks from it, he is not of me; and whoso tastes it not, indeed he is of me – save for him who takes a sip with his hand.'... On leaving the town, Tạlụt was to test his forces to clarify the extent of their constraint and steadfastness in difficulty – if they were able to cross a river while thirsty they would be dependable in war, whereas if they refused to listen and were unable to endure a little thirst, clearly they would be even less steadfast before swords and spears. The river was on their way. Tạlụt told his forces that those who drank freely from it were not from him, meaning they had no place amongst his followers, whereas those who refrained from it and didn't taste it were indeed amongst his followers. They were allowed to scoop water from the river with a cupped hand, once, and to drink that, but no more.
...Then they drank from it, but for a few of them…. Most of Tạlụt's army failed their test and disobeyed his orders, and were rejected. A few passed their test and drank no more than a scoop of the river's water, and these were allowed to follow Tạlụt to the battle.
...Then, when they had crossed it – he and those who believed with him – they said, ‘We have no capacity today for Jạlụt and his forces. Jạlụt was the leader of the opposing army. When Tạlụt and his obedient troops who had drank no more than a scoop of water had crossed the river, and they came upon the enemy and saw their large numbers, dismay set in and this was the cry that went up.
...Said those who supposed they were to meet Allah,... It means the companions of Tạlụt. ‘Supposed' is given for yazunnụna; it shows that even to suppose there is a hereafter is enough to prompt a man in the direction of the struggle (al-jihạd) and the virtuous deeds. The term ‘to meet (Allah)' means the resurrection, where everyone meets Allah's requital.
...’How many a small band has overcome a band of many, with Allah's permission! Indeed Allah is with the restrainers.' With these words Tạlụt's companions heartened themselves and the others for the fight against Jạlụt and his army.
And when they went forth for Jạlụt and his armies, they said, ‘Our Master, pour forth upon us restraint, and fix our feet, and deliver us against the disbelieving tribe.'
This was the prayer made by Tạlụt and the believers as they approached the field of battle. They prayed for constraint and to be made steadfast, with firm feet that would not carry them off in flight. And they prayed to be granted victory over their disbelieving enemy. And Allah answered their prayers.
So they vanquished them by Allah's permission, and Da'ụd killed Jạlụt—and Allah gave him dominion and wisdom and taught him what Hewilled. And were it not for Allah’s repelling the people, some of them by others, certainly the earth would go to corruption; but Allah is the Holder of profusion upon the worlds.
So they vanquished them by Allah's permission,... Tạlụt and the believers vanquished Jạlụt and the disbelievers, with Allah's permission and succour, or military support.
...and Da'ụd killed Jạlụt... The Prophet Da'ụd (David), bliss be upon him, father of the Messenger Sulaymạn, bliss be upon him, fought at this battle and killed Jạlụt, the disbelievers' warlord. He took a small stone and hurled it with a sling towards Jạlụt. It hit him on the forehead and penetrated his skull until it came to the brain, and he dropped down dead. And the disbelievers were defeated.
...—and Allah gave him dominion and wisdom and taught him what He willed. This refers to Da'ụd, bliss be upon him, who later became both Prophet and king, and was taught by Allah matters pertaining to the world and to the hereafter.
...And were it not for Allah’s repelling the people, some of them by others,... That is, if the corrupting disbelievers were not repelled and restrained by means of the righteous believers.
...certainly the earth would go to corruption;... The earth would be ruined by the bloodshed, the conflagration, the slavery and the corruption that the evil-doers would cause.
...but Allah is the Holder of profusion upon the worlds. It is a sign of His profusion that He repels the evil by the righteous, so that the earth remains habitable, and able to sustain agriculture.
These are the portents of Allah; We recite them for thee in truth. And indeed thou are among the Messengers.
These are the portents of Allah;... It means that the accounts given about the changing life into death, once, and death into life, once, and about the dominion of Tạlụt and the deliverance of the believers over their enemies are Allah's proofs of His existence, His power, His knowledge and the remainder of His attributes.
...We recite them for thee in truth.' Here the pronoun ‘thee' is the singular; the address is to the Messenger, Allah's peace and blessings be with him and his house. He was recited the portents ‘in truth', in perfect honesty and sincerity—there was nothing false or insincere in what was recited to him. It was all sent down to him in perfect truth and for the sake of truth, not for the sake of falsehood, deception and deceit.
...And indeed thou are among the Messengers. it means that the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and his House, received his information about these matters from the unseen, through the inspiration he received from Allah, glorified be He.
Those Messengers – We distinguished some of them over others.
Among them is he to whom Allah spoke; and He elevated some in degrees;
And We gave ‘Ịsạ the son of Maryam the clarifications, and We aided him with the soul of holiness.
And had Allah willed, those after them would not have succumbed to battle among themselves after the clarifications had come to them, yet they differed; among them were those who believed and among them were those who disbelieved. And had Allah willed, they would not have succumbed to battle among themselves, but Allah does what He wills.
Those Messengers – We distinguished some of them over others.... ‘Those Messengers' are those mentioned in the previous ạyah, ‘And indeed thou are among the Messengers.' All the Messengers share in the basic principle of Messengership, yet nevertheless they differ in the level of their distinction.
...Among them is he to whom Allah spoke... It means the Messenger Mụsạ, bliss be upon him. Here the question arises as to whether a person can ascend so high that Allah, glorified be He, converses with him; the ạyah seems to confirm that in the word,
...and He elevated some in levels;... They were not elevated to a single level, but in levels, so that at a lofty level it is possible to converse directly with Allah, glorified be He.
...And We gave ‘Ịsạ the son of Maryam the clarifications,... It is a part of the Wise Quran's diversity that here it has not mentioned Mụsạ by name, whereas ‘Ịsạ, bliss be upon him, is mentioned by name. The ‘clarifications' (al–bayyinạt) were the clarifications of ‘Ịsạ's Prophethood, like his raising the dead, curing the sick and the blind and so forth.
...and We aided him with the soul of holiness… That is, ‘Ịsạ was strengthened with the holy spirit, as previously clarified. Thus he was no ordinary man, but nor was he the Creator and Provisioner, the Master of the worlds. He was a Messenger specially aided by Allah, glorified be He.
Now, the question could here be raised that since the Prophets came with such clarifications, how could so much doubt and suspicion be raised about them, to the extent that warfare arose amongst the people about the Prophets, for them or against them, or for a particular Messenger to the exclusion of the others. The theme turns to throw light on the answer:
...And had Allah willed, those after them would not have fought among themselves after the clarifications had come to them, yet they differed; among them were those who believed and among them were those who disbelieved....
It means that had Allah willed to compel the people to believe and be guided, then those who came after the Messengers or after each Messenger, would not have fought among themselves, after the clarifications had come to them through the Messengers. Yet they differed, with some believing and some disbelieving in the Messenger.
...And had Allah willed, they would not have succumbed to battle among themselves,... The repetition is for emphasis, as Allah's will to compel does not affect His legislation, only His creation.
...but Allah does what He wills. He prefers to let the freedom of choice be in the hand of man, so that he who believes does so of his own free choice, and the disbelief of him who disbelieves is also in his own hands, so that the requital and the reckoning may be established fairly. There is no mention here of the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, as the address is made to him, further to His word, ‘And indeed thou are among the Prophets.'
Now, since fighting requires expenditure, the Wise Quran repeatedly links the two matters in its portents:
O ye who believe, dispense from what We have provisioned ye, before a day comes in which there will be no trade and no friendship and no mediation.
And the disbelievers—they are the wrongful.
O ye who believe, dispense from what We have provisioned ye,... We are to dispense out of the various things with which we are provisioned. Perhaps the universality is to denote things like education and mediation, as knowledge and esteem or rank are amongst the provision of Allah, glorified be He.
...before a day comes in which there will be no trade... That day it will not be possible to purchase oneself with something and so but oneself from the chastisement.
...and no friendship... It means that friendship will not mean that a friend will be able to take care of a sinner who is his friend; or it means that there will be no friendship between Allah and anyone to the extent that Allah will heed and forgive him on account of that friendship.
...and no mediation. There will be no mediation as it is in the world—where the intercessor takes it upon himself to mediate for the sinner. There, ...none mediate but for him He is content with.'
...And the disbelievers—they are the wrongful.' It means that the deprivation of the disbelievers on that day will not be due to any injustice on the part of Allah, but that the disbelievers are wrongful and deserving of punishment for their disbelief, by which they have denied themselves the rewards.
Allah! There is no god but Him, the Alive, the Maintainer. Drowsiness takes Him not, and nor sleep. His is that in the skies and that in the earth. Who is it that mediates with Him save by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge, save as He wills. His throne comprises the skies and the earth, and preserving them troubles Him not. And He is the High, the Magnificent.
Allah! There is no god but Him,... On the day of judgement all affairs are in His hands, none share with Him in what He does, and perhaps this is the connection between this ạyah and that preceding it.
...the Alive,... He is alive and does not die, so there is no escape from Him.
...the Maintainer…. This is given for al–qayyụm. from qạma ‘to stand’. It means that He implements all His affairs, and is informed of them all; and nothing is hidden form Him – as if He stands over them, glorified be He,
...Drowsiness takes Him not, and nor sleep.... The first precedes the latter as it does in reality.
...His is that in the skies and that in the earth…. He is the creator and the single owner who has no partners; the skies and the earth are not beyond His dominion.
...Who is it that mediates with Him save by His permission?… The question form is for denial; it means that none will mediate with him on the day of resurrection ‘but for him He is contented by.'
...He knows what is before them and what is behind them,... It means He knows what they have sent on before them in the way of deeds good and bad, and what comes after them, like their building a school or a brewery that outlast them.
...and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge,... That is, knowledge of the past, the present and the future.
...save as He wills… Everything a person knows, even basic essentials, depends upon the will of Allah, glorified be He, for it is He who has made man such that he learns things.
...His throne comprises the skies and the earth,... ‘Throne' here means authority and dominion; it is said that someone's throne comprises ‘Iraq, when he is in authority over it. It means that the authority of Allah, glorified be He, comprises the whole of existence and nothing is beyond Him.
...and preserving them troubles Him not. The preservation, the growth and rectification of the heavens and the earth is not difficult for Him.
...And He is the High, the Magnificent.-He is the High in station, the Magnificent in quality.
No compulsion in religion—the integrity has certainly become clear from the misguidance. So whoso disbelieves in the transgressorer and believes in Allah, certainly he has laid hold of the firmest handle – it never breaks off. And Allah is hearing, knowing.
No compulsion in religion... Allah does not compel His creatures to embrace the religion, rather He places within them the powers of choice and volition, so that if a person wishes he takes the religion, and if he does not wish then he does not accept the religion.
...the integrity has certainly become clear from the misguidance.... Guidance... ‘The ‘integrity’ (al-rushd) is clear from ‘the misguidance’ or temptation (al-ghayy), faith is clear from disbelief, and truth is clear from falsehood.
...So whoso disbelieves in the transgressorer and believes in Allah,... ‘The transgressorer’ is given for tạghụt, meaning all that is worshipped other than Allah. Notice that the negation of disbelief precedes the affirmation of belief, as in the phrase ‘There is no God but Allah' (lạ ilạha illa ‘llạh).
...certainly he has laid hold of the firmest handle – it never breaks off.... Faith in Allah is likened to the handle of a pot or a jug, for serving water or food, for it is a handle on goodness; and it is a handle that never breaks, in the sense that the benefit from goodness continues through the worldly life into the hereafter, all achieved through faith. Belief in false deism, on the other hand, is a handle that breaks as soon as a person leaves the world, when any good his disbelief may supposedly have brought him is broken off.
...And Allah is hearing, knowing.... And Allah hears all our words, and knows our every action and intention.
Allah is the Patron of those who believe; He takes them out of the darknesses into the light. While those who disbelieve, their patrons are the affronter – they take them out of the light into the darknesses. Those are the companions of the fire; they are in it eternal.
Allah is the Patron of those who believe… He directs their affairs and brings them deliverance and assists them.
...He takes them out of the darknesses into the light.... He brings them out of the darknesses of life and its difficulties, whether the darkness of belief, the darkness of speech and the darkness of the world. And He brings them into the light of guidance and the light of the hereafter.
…While those who disbelieve, their patrons are the transgressorer – they take them out of the light into the darknesses…, It means that it is the entire genus of affronter (al–ţạghụt) that is their patron, both human and jinn, overseeing their affairs and their straying and deviation. Since what is meant by ‘the transgressorer’ (al-ţawạghịt) is the genus of transgressorers,-therefore it is permissible for it to be in the singular, and for the term ‘their patrons' to be in the plural. All transgressorers remove the disbeliever from the light that is latent in human nature, and from the light of the world. Instead, they lead him into the darknesses of disbelief and error in the world, and to Allah's chastisement in the hereafter.
...Those are the companions of the fire; they are in it eternal.... Such persons end up in the fire forever; they have none to rescue them and none to free them.
This has been an account of faith and disbelief, so there now follows the story of a dispute upon that subject between Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, and Nimrụd:
Have thou not regarded him who disputed with Ibrạhịm about his Master in that He had granted him dominion, when Ibrạhịm said, ‘My Master is He who gives life and makes die.'
He said, ‘I give life and I make die!'
Ibrạhịm said, ‘Indeed my Master brings the sun from the east, so bring it from the west!'
So he who disbelieved was bewildered; and Allah guides not the wrongful tribe.
Have thou not regarded... It has been previously clarified that this term is not interrogative, but is meant to impart knowledge.
...him who disputed with Ibrạhịm about his Master... He who disputed with Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him was the tyrant Nimrụd. The dispute was about ‘his Master' meaning the Master whom Ibrạhịm worshipped; or it means the master or lord with whom he disputed—and the first meaning is closer.
...in that He had granted him dominion,... It means that despite Allah having given Nimrụd sovereignty and dominion, he became wild and headstrong and denied the existence of the Creator, and disputed with the Messenger Ibrạhịm about the existence of Allah, glorified be He, thus greeting kindness with evil.
...when Ibrạhịm said, ‘My Master is He who gives life and makes die.’... This was spoken in reply to Nimrụd who had asked, ‘Who is your Master?' What is meant by His giving life is His granting of life to inanimate matter, for all living things are rooted in earth and water, and earth is turned with water into plants, and plants turn into human or animal sperm.
...He said, ‘I give life and I make die!’... Nimrụd said this and then summoned two persons from his prison; he beheaded one and let the other go free. In this way he confused the issue, but Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, brought an argument that he could not defeat, even with the tactics of confusion:
...Ibrạhịm said, "Indeed my Master brings the sun from the east,... This is true as far as it appears to the eye, whether the sun revolves around the earth, or whether, as some astronomers say, the earth revolves around the sun.
...so bring it from the west!... Had Nimrụd been the god and the creator he said he was, he should have been able to do this.
...So he who disbelieved was bewildered;... He was astonished and had no answer.
...and Allah guides not the wrongful tribe. It refers to those who wrong themselves by blinding themselves to the truth, for His particular grace embraces not such persons, even though He completes for them the arguments and shows them the path.
Or like him who passed by a town that was rubble over its roofs. He said, ‘How will Allah give life to this after its death?'
So Allah made him die for a hundred years, then He raised him. He said, ‘How long have thou tarried?
Said he, ‘I have tarried a day or part of a day.'
‘Nay,' He said, ‘Thou have tarried a hundred years. Regard thy food and thy drink, it has not spoiled. And look at Thy ass! And certainly We put thee as a portent for the people. And look at the bones, how We assemble them, then We cover them in flesh.'
So when it had been clarified for him, he said, ‘I know that indeed Allah over all things is powerful!'
Or, like him who passed by a town... It means: ‘Or have thou not regarded he who passed by a town’ – that is: ‘If you like, consider him who disputed, or if you like, consider him who passed by a town.' He who passed by the town was ‘Uzair, the Messenger, bliss be upon him.
...that was rubble over its roofs… The town was in ruins, its inhabitants were long dead, their corpses eaten by wild beasts. ‘Uzair thought to himself for a while, and then
..He said, ‘How will Allah give life to this after its death?’… He wondered how Allah would raise them all. It was not a denial, but an expression of amazement.
...So Allah made him die for a hundred years,... This was long enough for his own body to rot away and for his bones to disintegrate.
...then He raised him…. He became just as he was before.
..He said, ‘How long have you tarried?’ Allah created a voice in the air that he heard.
...He said, ‘I have tarried a day or part of a day.’ The Messenger looked about him and saw that it was late afternoon, when he had slept in the morning.
...’Nay,’ said He, ‘Thou have tarried a hundred years, so look at thy food and thy drink, it has not spoiled. And look at thy ass!...’ The food and drink was just as it had been, whereas the ass was dead and disintegrated, proof of the total power of Allah, glorified be He.
...’And certainly We make thee a portent for the people....' He was made a portent for the people, in that he had been dead for a hundred years, but was now alive again, for the people to know that Allah is indeed able to raise the dead.
...’And look at the bones, how We assemble them, then We cover them in flesh. The ass was brought back to life in this way before ‘Uzair's eyes.
...So when it had been clarified for him,... That is, when the raising of the dead had been made clear for him visually.
...he said, ‘I know that indeed Allah over all things is powerful!' His knowledge had become the knowledge of vision; otherwise, he knew that before his question.
And when Ibrạhịm said, ‘My Master! Show me how Thou give life to the dead!'
He said, ‘And do thou not believe?'
He said, ‘For sure, but that my heart be confident.'
Said He, ‘So take four birds, then cut them to thyself, and put a part of each on a hill, thereupon call them – they shall come to thee in haste. And know that Allah is grand, wise.'
And when Ibrạhịm said, ‘My Master! Show me how Thou give life to the dead!'...
Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, saw a cadaver that had been eaten away by animals and birds, and so he asked Allah, saying, ‘O my Master, indeed I know that Thou shall gather them from the bellies of the beasts of the land, air and sea, so show me how Thou give life to them, so that I may see that.'
...He said, ‘And do thou not believe?'... Allah’s interrogative was for assertion, so that Ibrahịm might answer ‘I believe!'
...He said, ’For sure, but that my heart be confident… Ibrạhịm replied that certainly he was a believer, but that he wished his certainty to be as if he had seen it and experienced it. For when a person knows that a fire is hot, for example, his knowledge is called ‘known certainty' (‘ilm al–yaqịn); and when he sees it his certainty is called ‘real certainty' (haqq al–yaqịn); and when he places his hand in it his certainty is called ‘actual certainty' (‘ain al–yaqịn). It is recorded that Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, knew that Allah would take a servant as a ‘special friend' (khalịl) when he asked Him to show him the raising of the dead, and his heart wished to be comforted that it was him.
...Said He, ‘So take four birds,...’ They were a peacock, a pigeon, a crow and a cock. He slaughtered them and cut them into pieces and then mixed up all the pieces.
...then cut them to thyself,... When a person wishes to cut something with a clean cut, it is necessary for him to draw the blade towards himself.
...then put a part of each on a hill, thereupon call them;... He was to take the beak of each bird in his hand and call it.
...they shall come to thee in haste.... Back in one piece again, the birds were to rush to him.
And know that Allah is grand,... The implication is that all things are within His power.
..wise.’ He is wise in all He does; nothing He does is without purpose.
So Ibrạhịm, bliss be upon him, did that, and the pieces of the birds flew about in all directions until their bodies were reassembled in perfect order as far as their necks and their heads, then Ibrạhịm let them go and they rejoined their bodies, and the birds then began to scratch about for grain and water.
Earlier portents spoke of being ready to lend Allah a beautiful loan, then proofs of theism, Prophethood and the return intervened. and now the theme returns to dispensing:
What those who dispense in Allah’s path are like is a seed having grown seven ears, in each ear a hundred seeds.
And Allah increases whomever He wills; and Allah is expansive, knowing.
What those who dispense in Allah’s path... Those who dispense in the way of Allah do not dispense for show, reputation or fame and suchlike.
...are like is a seed having grown seven ears, in each ear a hundred seeds. Their spending is increased for them seven-hundred times.
...And Allah increases whomever He wills;... Allah gives such an increase to whom He wills of His spending servants.
...and Allah is expansive, knowing. His knowledge and power is universally encompassing; He knows who dispenses and what is spent. This metaphor is given for dispensing in order to make a firm impression on the heart, and for encouragement.
Thereupon a condition is given for dispensing to be productive and lead to a reward, in the word of the Most High:
Those who dispense in Allah’s path, thereupon they do not follow up their dispensing with any beholdenness, nor any annoyance—theirs is their reward alongside their Master; no fear is upon them, and nor do they sorrow.
‘Beholdenness' is given for mann; it means that the giver does not ask the beneficiary to be grateful to him, nor even hint at it. Annoyance, given for aźạ, means that the donor causes no annoyance to the beneficiary, like saying ‘I am afflicted with this pauper.' Those who meet these conditions in their charity are rewarded by their Master for their spending, and no fear is upon them, meaning that they will not fear the chastisement, since those who dispense in this way are pure in all their deeds; or it means that no fear is upon them of not being rewarded. And the same two probabilities are true of ‘and nor do they sorrow.'
An honourable word and forgiveness is better than charity followed up by annoyance; and Allah is rich, clement.
It means that to put off a request in a noble way, like saying, ‘Allah give you goodness!' together with forgiveness in the face of any rudeness on the asker's part, is better than to give charity followed by annoyance. For that damages the asker's heart, whereas an honourable word and forgiveness do not. Similarly, it is followed by punishment, since such charity is forbidden, unlike the other two.
...and Allah is rich,... He has no need of anyone's donations, it is we ourselves who are in need of them. He urges us to charity for our sake, not for His.
...clement.' He is clement with respect to all sins, including charity followed up by annoyance.
O ye who believe, invalidate not your charity by beholdenness and annoyance, like he who dispenses his wealth in show for the people and does not believe in Allah and the last day. What he is like is a smooth stone, on it a dust; then a storm afflicts it, so it abandons it lifeless. They have no power over anything of what they earned. And Allah guides not the disbelieving tribe.
O ye who believe, invalidate not your charity by beholdenness and annoyance,... Trying to put the asker under a sense of obligation, and causing the asker some annoyance, both cause the invalidation of charity in terms of reward. Such charity has no reward, for it is invalid and not popularly counted as good and beautiful but as ugly and offensive.
...like he who dispenses his wealth in show for the people and does not believe in Allah and the last day.... Whoso cancels out his charity with either of these vices, is like he who dispenses his wealth in show for the people, that they praise him. Such a person has no faith calling him to dispense for the sake of his Master, or for the rewards of the hereafter.
...What he is like is a smooth stone,... Such a disbeliever is like a smooth stone (safwạn) from which no goodness can be hoped, as nothing will grow upon it.
...on it a dust;... It is covered by a dust, which makes people think that it is earth from which plants will grow.
...then a storm afflicts it, so it abandons it lifeless...The charity he gives is like the rain: when it descends on suitable earth it causes goodness and plants; but when it descends on a dust-covered rock the dust disappears and its solidness and inability to provision any life become apparent. Yes, such is the disbeliever whom people suppose to be a good-doer; when he gives in charity for show the deviated reality of himself becomes clear for the people. Thus his charity—which of itself leads to goodness and mercy—discloses the disbeliever's real condition, which is offensive. From the other point of view, his charity leads to the wrath of Allah upon him more than before, and so it takes away those of his previous deeds that he supposed were good for him.
...They have no power over anything of what they earned.... Their earlier good deeds are removed by charity for show just as rain removes dust—it cannot be returned and collected once more.
...And Allah guides not the disbelieving tribe. They are ungraced by the special grace of guidance, and the reason is that through their rejection after knowing the truth, they have brought themselves so low that they are incapable of being guided.
And what those who dispense their wealth reaching out for the contentment of Allah and in affixing their spirits are like is a garden in terraces; a storm afflicts it and then it brings out its edibles twofold. And if no storm afflicts it, then a drizzle. And Allah is an observer of what ye do.
And what those who dispense their wealth reaching out for the contentment of Allah… In contrast to those who dispense in ostentation, are those who give of their wealth in seeking or ‘reaching out for’ (ibtighạ.a) the satisfaction of Allah, glorified be He, and in self affirmation:
…and in affixing their spirits… ‘Affixing their spirits' is given for tathbịtan min anfusihim; it means that it is their own hearts that prompt them to do the beautiful deed, unlike the show-off whose motive in giving charity is the opinion of the people. Thus the phrase ‘their spirits’ is in direct contrast to the previous portent's ‘in show for the people.'
… are like is a garden in terraces;… Those who give sincerely in this way are like a raised garden on high, thriving for the people and close to the benefits of air, sun and rainfall.
… a storm afflicts it and then it brings out its edibles twofold…. The believer too is closer to goodness, so that when he dispenses, his charity is like rainfall on a garden that leads to the abundance of its crop and the flourishing of its trees.
...And if no storm afflicts it, then a drizzle.... Even if no heavy rain comes to it, then the lightest of rainfalls is sufficient for it to flourish and give a good crop.
...And Allah is an observer of what ye do. He recompenses all our deeds, whether they are for show or sincerely for Him.
After giving these metaphors for the giving of charity, both on the part of the believer and of the disbeliever, the Most High now gives a metaphor for the believer who gives charity and then annuls it by seeking to cultivate gratitude:
Would one of ye like to have a garden of date-palms and grapes with rivers flowing beneath them, his therein all kinds of produce, and oldage afflicts him and he has feeble offspring, and a whirlwind bearing fire strikes it, so that it is incinerated?
Just so does Allah clarify for ye the portents; that ye might reflect.
Imagine having extensive orchards with rivers flowing beneath the trees, all producing the most fertile produce, but with offspring who are feeble and unable to earn their food and clothing. Then, in old age, the orchards are struck by a fire-bearing cyclone, so that they are all burned to the ground. Would any man like such a thing? Certainly not! Old age is the time when one's needs are most critical, so who could be happy at fire destroying the most valuable thing he owns? One who dispenses motivated by faith is like the owner of the garden, when after that he annoys the asker or seeks to make him beholden, it is like the fire that destroys the garden at the time it is most needed. For man is most in need of his goodness in the hereafter, and when he stoops to make a person feel beholden he remains empty-handed.
...Just so does Allah clarify for ye the portents;... Just as Allah explains the issue of charity through metaphors and stirring the noble desires, in the same way He explains and clarifies all His portents.
...that ye might reflect.' And if we reflect, we might go straight upon the road that is straight.
O ye who believe! Dispense of the wholesomenesses ye have earned, and of that We brought out for ye from the earth. And do not intend to dispense from the vile, when ye take it not save that ye squint at it.
And know that Allah is rich, lauded.
O ye who believe! Dispense of the wholesomenesses ye have earned,… ‘Dispense' here, as throughout, means dispense in the way of Allah. ‘Wholesomenesses’ is given for al-tayyibạt; meaning the good things that are wholesome in content, in that they are lawful, and in form, in that they are pleasant.
...and of that We brought out for ye from the earth.... We are to dispense from our earnings and profits, and from our harvests. We are not to give charity from usury, for example, or to give brackish water, or inferior fruits.
...And do not intend to dispense from the vile, when ye are not takers of it save that ye squint at it. It means that we should not be giving things in charity that we ourselves find repugnant, for when we find things repugnant we only take them after closing our eyes to their repugnance.
...And know that Allah is rich,... He is in no need of our charity, and accepts only the pure and the goodly.
...lauded. Allah is lauded (ĥamịd), meaning that He deserves all praise for His blessings; and a part of such praise is that people give good things for His sake and in His path, for when a person wishes to honour someone, he gives him the best he can, and does not give him what is foul and inferior.
The devil promises ye poverty, and orders ye to the obscene, while Allah promises ye forgiveness from Him and profusion; and Allah is expansive, knowing.
When a person wills to give charity in the path of Allah, the devil comes and frightens him with poverty, and suggests to him that he give charity from the inferior and unwholesome, which is a type of obscenity (faĥshạ.). Or the meaning is that he commands to the obscene in general. Allah, on the other hand, promises forgiveness on account of charity and the other good deeds, and restores whatever is spent in charity. He is encompassing, and can easily replace it. And He is knowing of whatever is donated, and recompenses it, good for good and bad for bad.
Indeed such dispensing in the way of Allah, pure of ostentation, annoyance and imposing the sense of being beholden, is a form of wisdom, which is the placing of things in the place most suitable for them. And:
He gives the wisdom to whom He wills, and whoso is given the wisdom is certainly given much goodness; and none bear it in mind but the protégés of intellect.
He gives the wisdom to whom He wills,... Allah, glorified be He, gives the wisdom to whom He wills, meaning those having the capacity for it after their grasping the Law.
...and he who is given the wisdom is indeed given much goodness;... For what is better for a man than being able to arrange the affairs of his world and his hereafter by holding to the commands of Allah, glorified be He, and ascending on the straight path that leads to felicity in both lives.
...and none bear it in mind but the owners of the mind. ‘Owners of the mind’ is given for uwli ‘l-albạb. It means that only the rational, those under the influence and direction of the mind take this matter to heart and understand it, for it is the rational alone who follow what benefits them and leave aside what harms them.
And whatever expenditure ye dispense, and whatever vow ye vow—indeed Allah knows it; and the wrongful have no succourers.
Whatever is given in charity, whether a little or a lot, and whatever is made obligatory on a person by his vowing to Allah that he will do it—Allah knows about it and will give full recompense in return for it, and so it leads to a person being treated generously.
...and the wrongful have no succourers. Those who are wrongful to themselves by being miserly and denying the obligatory charity and by breaking their vows, or by mixing their charity with ostentation, annoyance and fostering indebtedness, have no helpers, no champions to deliver them from the punishment of Allah. glorified be He.
If ye manifest your charities, then it is well; and if ye hide it and give it to the poor, then that is better for ye and atones for your evilnesses. And Allah of what ye do is informed.
To give charity openly, for the sake of Allah rather than for show, is very good, as it takes away bad feeling and sets an example for the people. On the other hand, to give charity to the poor in secret is better, since it is nearer to sincerity and further from ostentation, and gives better protection to the feelings of the recipients.
Such charity given in secret leads to forgiveness, as it assuages the wrath of the Master. Allah is aware of all that is done and recompenses everything; so there is no fear of Him not knowing about charity given in secret.
Some of the Muslims would refrain from giving charity to non-Muslims, and so the portent came down:
Not upon thee is their guidance; rather Allah guides whom He wills.
And what goodness ye dispense—it is for yourselves, while ye dispense not save in reaching out for the face of Allah.
And what goodness ye dispense grows unto ye; and ye will not wronged.
The address is to the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and upon his House. He was under no obligation that they be guided, rather his was but to offer the guidance and deliver the message.
...rather Allah guides whom He wills…. He guides to the straight road whom He wills, by indicating the path, or by delivering them to the goal.
...And what goodness ye dispense—it is for yourselves,... The benefit of such good deeds returns to those who do them, in the world and in the hereafter.
...while ye dispense not save in reaching out for the face of Allah…. What is better than spending in the path of one's Creator, Blesser and Benefactor?
...And what goodness ye dispense grows unto ye;... That is, its recompense and reward return.
...and ye will not be wronged. The reward of all good deeds is returned in full, with no shortcoming. So the charity is for yourselves, and the reward returns to yourselves, and it is reckoned as being in the path of Allah. How good it is that a person can give something, have the benefit return to him, then be rewarded for it in the hereafter, and by it please Allah, glorified be He!
Having clarified the virtue of charity, He follows it up by explaining the best way of-dispensing it, glorified be He, in His word:
For the poor who are confined in Allah’s path and are unable to go about the earth—the ignorant considers them rich from their abstinence; thou recognise them by their mark, they ask not of the people importunately. And what goodness ye dispense—indeed Allah of it is knowing.
This portent came down about the ‘companions of the shed' (asĥạb al-siffah) who left everything for the sake of Islam, and confined themselves to worship and the struggle under Allah's Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and upon his House. They were unable to go about the earth as they denied this to themselves, the better to serve Islam. Their inability, therefore, was a matter of choice, not of compulsion.
...the ignorant considers them rich from their abstinence;... Those who were unaware of their real condition thought them rich, since they abstained from asking charity.
...thou recognise them by their mark,... It means that their true condition of poverty was to be recognised from the portents of poverty evident in their condition and their faces.
...they ask people not importunately.... It means that they do not ask people as that would be importunate, as is the case with many of the poor. It does not mean that they ask without being importunate.
...And what goodness ye dispense... The term ‘goodness' (khayr) covers everything that is good: a house, land, a gold coin, a silver coin, and so on.
...—indeed Allah of it. is knowing. Nothing escapes Him, and He gives a beautiful recompense for it all.
Those who dispense their wealth by night and by day, secretly and publicly – theirs is their wage alongside their Master, and no fear is upon and nor do they sorrow.
Those who dispense their wealth by night and by day, secretly and publicly–… Those who give charity at night, secretly and openly, and those who give by day, secretly and openly:
…theirs is their wage alongside their Master,… They will certainly be rewarded by their Master, glorified be He. The relevance of this is universal, yet the portent was sent down with regard to Imam ‘Ali, bliss be upon him, for once, having four dirhams, he gave two by day, one secretly and one openly, and two by night, again secretly and openly; and so the portent was sent down.
…and no fear is upon and nor do they sorrow. The meaning of ‘no fear is upon them and nor do they sorrow' has been given.
As these portents are about-dispensing in the way of Allah, glorified be He, so here is an appropriate place for mention of usury (ribạ), for it is the opposite of charity, in that it is the taking of other people's property without any good deed, whereas charity is to give people one's property without it being earned or derived through trade:
Those who eat usury stand not save as one stands up whom the devil has brought low by touching. That is because they say, ‘Trade is as usury!' And Allah has permitted trade and He has banned usury.
He to whom comes an admonishment from his Master and so desists—what has passed is his, and his affair is unto Allah.
And whoso returns—those are the companions of the fire, they are in it eternal.
Those who eat usury… ‘Eat’ (akl) denotes the taking of usury, even if it is not consumed. One whom the devil has touched goes into a fit—his condition changes, his eyes roll about, he loses his balance and he foams at the mouth; when with what little reason he has left he decides to stand, unsteadily he can hardly get to his feet before falling over again. Just so is he who consumes usury to the extent that it becomes his habit: in his actions for devouring the property of others he is most like one the devil has brought low, though he wishes to stand. His thought is deviated like the thought of one who is prostrate, his eyes roam about looking at people's property like one in a fit, he is so intent on deviated wealth that he foams at the mouth. When he wishes to raise himself from the dust and stand up and leave aside the taking of usury, quickly he falls back into usury, for it is his habit and fleecing the people of their wealth is his fundamental characteristic. This is an awesome and terrifying simile. And such people are in this exact same condition on the day of resurrection, for it is narrated from Imam Sadiq, bliss be upon him, from the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, that on his ascension he saw a people one of whomwanted to stand but was unable on account of the huge size of his belly. He asked Jibrạ.ịl who they were, and Jibrạ.ịl said that they were ‘those who consume usury’.
… stand not save as one stands up whom the devil has brought low by touching…. And it is scientifically established that evil spirits enter a person and cause him to have fits.
...That is because they say, ‘Trade is as usury!’… Their addiction to usury arises from their maintaining that there is nothing wrong with usury, and that it is just like trade, in that both usury and trade depend on the consent of the two parties. Yet they are quite wrong, and their logic is false, as, in the word of the Most High:
...And Allah has permitted trade and He has banned usury…. Trade is beneficial and Allah has permitted it, while usury is forbidden on account of its harm. It is sufficient for us to point out a single instance of its harm: that he who takes the loan at interest is either driven by need to borrow, like illness and suchlike that compel a person to borrow at interest, in which case how awful it is that a person takes advantage of his brother in such circumstances when it is appropriate for him to help and assist him; or he takes a loan for trade, and this means one of three things: first, the borrower makes a loss; second, he makes neither profit nor loss—and in these two circumstances it is awful that the lender gain an increase when the worker himself either makes no profit or makes a loss. And third, that he makes some profit—and Islam has legislated partnership transactions in which the provider of capital shares the profit with the worker, according to how well the venture fares.
...So he to whom comes an admonishment from his Master... It means the command not to take interest.
...and so desists... It means he stops taking the interest and repents.
...—what has passed is his,... Those who take interest unknowingly or without knowing that it is forbidden, or before Islam, maykeep it as it is not demanded back from them.
...and his affair is unto Allah. It means that it is between him and Allah, glorified be He, and he is not answerable to the people, so that one who has paid him interest may not demand the return of what he has paid him. Or it means that his affair of repentance is between him and Allah, glorified be He.
...And whoso returns... It means whoso returns to usury and the taking of interest after its prohibition in Islam.
...—those are the companions of the fire, they are in it eternal. They will remain in the fire forever, unless Allah's mercy encompasses them, just as He says, ‘Indeed Allah does not forgive that you set up partners with Him, but He forgives other than that for whom He wills.'
Allah annihilates usury, and He augments charity; and Allah loves no extreme disbeliever, sinner.
Allah annihilates usury,… Allah, glorified be He, annihilates usury: He breaks it, He erodes it, He destroys it. Let not the usurer think that his usury leads to an increase of his wealth, rather it leads to his loss and his destruction. Usury makes the people angry with the usurer, inviting war and confiscation from the people, leading to the loss of his capital and his profits.
…and He augments charity;… Allah, glorified be He, augments charity: even though charity causes the loss of a part of one's wealth, yet it fosters and encourages popular affection, unity and cooperation with the donor, leading to an increase in his wealth. And beyond this is the annihilation and growth that are above the natural as willed by Allah, glorified be He, with no ordinary mediation.
...and Allah loves no extreme disbeliever, sinner. ‘Extreme disbeliever' is put for kaffạr, the superlative of kạfir, disbeliever. The line shows that those who take usury are extremely disbelieving sinners.
Indeed those who believe and do the virtuous deeds and establish the prayer and pay the zakạt—theirs is their wage alongside their Master; and no fear is upon them and nor do they sorrow.
Those who believe in the principles of faith and do the virtuous works, in that they perform the obligations and refrain from the prohibitions, and in particular they perform the prayer and pay the zakạt—
…their wage is alongside their Master; and no fear is upon them and nor do they sorrow. The meaning of this has been given.
O ye who believe! Be guardful of Allah and leave aside what remains of the usury, if ye be believers.
O ye who believe! Be guardful of Allah and leave aside what remains of the usury,... That is, ‘O believers! Be guardful of Allah and fear His punishments, and leave off the usury ye sought before Islam.’ It is stated by Imam Bạqir, bliss be upon him, that Walịd b. Mughairah was a usurer during the pre-Islamic period of ignorance, and when he died he was owed outstanding debts. His son Khạlid b. Walịd sought them after he had become Muslim, and so the ạyah was sent down.
...if ye be believers. That is, if your belief in Islam is true, for the believer is one who implements the commands and refrains from the prohibitions.
And if ye do it not, then be informed of war from Allah and His Messenger; and if ye return, then yours is your principal wealth, unwronging and unwronged.
And if ye do it not, then be informed of war from Allah and His Messenger;... Those who refrain from acting in accordance with the prohibition and carry on taking interest, must realise that they are engaged in warfare with Allah and His Messenger. Thus the taking of interest is shown to be one with the declaring of war against Allah and His Messenger. It is one of the worst crimes; its consequence is loss in terms of one's world and one's religion. The Islamic punishment for a usurer is that he be disciplined (ta.dịb) in the first two instances, and on the third he is executed, as narrated from Imam Sạdiq, bliss be upon him.
...and if ye return,... It means if you repent, and stop taking interest.
...then yours is your principal wealth,... It means that they may keep their principal wealth, but must not keep the profit they have gathered through interest. The portent does not imply that if they do not repent they do not keep their principal capital; rather the meaning is that they have their principal and so they must not transgress for their usurious increase.
...unwronging and unwronged. They are unwronging in that they do not wrong the people by taking interest from them, and they are unwronged in that their principal capital is not touched.
And if he is holder of difficulties, then a remission until in ease; and if ye give charity, it would be better for ye, if ye knew.
And if he is holder of difficulties,... When the person who owes the debt of a principal sum is in difficulties, and so he is unable to repay the principal sum
...then a remission until in ease;... then he is to be given leave to pay until his difficulties are over and he is in ease. The phrase is informative, but has the effect of a command.
...and if ye give in charity... It means by letting off his debt and donating it to him in charity.
...it would be better for ye,... In the world it would lead to affection and good fortune from Allah, glorified be He, and in the hereafter to the most generous rewards.
...if ye knew. Those who know good from bad and are able to distinguish between what benefits them from what harms them, would know that to gift the loan of one in difficulties is better for themselves.
And be guardful of a day in which ye return to Allah; thereupon every spirit will receive in full what it has earned, and they are not wronged.
And be guardful of a day in which ye return to Allah;... It means that we are not to take interest and not to take from those unable to pay, rather we are to give it to them in charity. Doing what is forbidden leads to punishment while giving charity leads to a beautiful reward. The meaning of ‘return to Allah' is the return to His authority, His command, His judgement and His requital.
...thereupon every spirit will receive in full what it has earned,... On that day everyone will receive the full recompense of his actions, good or bad.
...and they are not wronged. Neither will anything be taken from their reward, and nor will they be punished more than what they deserve.
O ye who believe! Whenever ye make debt transactions with a debt for a stated term, write it.
And a writer should write between ye in justice – and no writer should refuse to write as Allah has taught him.
And he upon whom is the obligation should dictate, and he should be guardful of Allah, his Master, and he should not lessen anything of it.
So if he who bears the duty is foolish or feeble or is unable to dictate, then his guardian should dictate in justice.
And call two witnesses of your men to witness; and if there are not two men, then one man and two women of those of the witnesses with whom ye are content, so that it not be that one of the two errs.
Then let one of the two remind the other.
And the witnesses are not to refuse once they are summoned.
And be not averse to writing it, a little or a lot, until its term.
That is fairer alongside Allah and more upright for witnessing, and nearer that ye not doubt.
Unless it be ready merchandise ye circulate among ye, then there is no stain upon ye that ye write it not.
And have witnesses when ye make transactions.
And the writer is not harmed and nor the witness; and if ye do it then it is a perversity for ye.
And be guardful of Allah. And Allah teaches ye; and Allah is of all things knowing.
O ye who believe! Whenever ye make debt transactions with a debt for a stated term, write it... When making debt arrangements between themselves for a defined term, defined at the time the transaction was made, like someone lending someone something for a year, say, or selling it to him with six months credit, Muslims are to have the amount and the term written up in a document, so as to prevent any forgetfulness, evasion or breach.
...And a writer should write between ye in justice... He who writes the contract is to do so in justice, without any change to the amount, the term or the description.
...– and no writer should refuse to write as Allah has taught him.,... He should not be mean-spirited but should content to write a contract when asked. It is a duty placed on him by Allah, glorified be He, in return for His granting him literacy and knowledge.
...And he upon whom is the obligation should dictate,... It means that he who is to be the debtor should dictate. This is for him to be sure in himself, for one thing, and that no increase be made on the amount for another, as when the debtor dictates it is less likely that an addition be made to the amount.
...and he should be guardful of Allah his Master,... The writer, or the debtor, is to be guardful of Allah. He is his Master; how then could he break His commands?
...and he should not lessen anything of it.... The writer, or the debtor, must not state less than the actual amount. Stating less is clear on the part of the writer; on the part of the debtor it means saying that the money he owes, for example, is for two sets of clothing, when it is for one.
...So if he who bears the duty is foolish or feeble or is unable to dictate, then his guardian should dictate in justice.... When a person is too foolish or too weak, through insanity, old-age, youth and suchlike, to dictate, or is unable to dictate without being weak, like one who is dumb, then it is for the debtor's guardian to dictate on his behalf, and he must do it evenly and justly without going to any extremes.
...And call two witnesses of your men to witness;... They are to witness the document, so as to be of benefit in any conflict or litigation should there be a dispute. Perhaps the condition of ‘your men' is intended to exclude disbelievers.
...and if there are not two men,... They may be absent or they may be unwilling to serve as witnesses.
...then one man and two women of those of the witnesses with whom ye are content,... It means that one man and two women must serve as witnesses, from amongst those who are trustworthy and reliable, for otherwise their testimony is not acceptable should a dispute arise. The reason that two women take the place of one man is that their memories are weaker than that of men, as established in the study of narrations (‘ilm al–hadịth), for forgetfulness comes to them in a way it does not come to men. This is confirmed in His word:
...so that it not be that one of the two errs..... If one of the women errs by making a mistake or through forgetfulness, the other is there to remind her.
...Then let one of the two remind the other.... This seems to be an independent sentence, meaning ‘if one errs so let the second remind the first.' Or it could be an answer to the former phrase [in which case ‘so that it not be', would need to be translated as ‘so if']. But the former seems closer.
...And the witnesses are not to refuse once they are summoned.... It means that those who are summoned to witness should not refuse; they are termed as being witnesses as a courtesy.
...And be not averse to writing it, a little or a lot,... This is addressed to all the parties to the transaction, calling them not to dislike the writing down of all the details, whether it requires a lengthy document or a short one. In this last is a point of discipline for those who fail to record small transactions due to a sense that they are unimportant, for many disputes take place over small things.
...until its term.... It means until the end of the term of the loan, or credit transaction. It shows that the document remains until the end of the term, giving benefit throughout. Or it means that the document must state the exact length of the term of the loan.
...That is fairer alongside Allah... It means that the practice of recording loan and credit transactions is nearer to fairness and justice, for fairness does not admit of degrees.
...and more upright for witnessing,... It is more upright in the sense that such witnessing gives security against damage.
...and nearer that ye not doubt.... Such documents clarify the amount and the term; this is what Allahwants and He does notwant us to be in doubt. And all of this is true of every occasion, with an exception:
...Unless it be ready merchandise ye circulate among ye, then there is no stain upon ye that ye write it not.... If the transaction is a cash transaction as opposed to a credit transaction, like most of the deals that are done in the markets, there is no harm if it goes unrecorded. ‘Circulate among ye' means that the item and its price go back and forth between them. The reason there is no need to record such transactions is because recording gives security, and in cash transactions security is not necessary.
...And have witnesses when ye make transactions.... It is desirable for one who wishes to trade to have a witness, for many transactions end up in dispute, and where there is a witness there is less way for such disputes. The portent is literally general, yet it is reckoned that it does not mean to include the daily, petty transactions, as that has not been the case since the time of the Messenger, may Allah condescend upon him and upon his House.
...And the writer is not harmed and nor the witness;... They are not to be compelled to serve these functions when to do so is difficult for them, as is customary today with governments obliging people to witness and testify though it cause them great distress and hardship, leading people to abstain from recording their deals and from having them witnessed.
...and if ye do it then it is a perversity for ye..... It is outside the rule of Allah, glorified be He, and it is the fault of those who caused them harm.
...And be guardful of Allah.... Be wary as regards His commands and prohibitions.
...And Allah teaches ye... He teaches man his best interests, and it is for him to follow them.
...and Allah is of all things knowing. He knows but we do not know, and how fitting it is that the ignorant follow the wise.
It was said by ‘Ali b. Ibrạhịm [Shaikh Sadụq] that Sụrah al–Baqarah has five hundred-rules; and in this noble portent alone are fifteen rules. As admitted in the study of narrations, this portent is a most amazing portent, in the book of transactions.
And if ye are on a journey and ye find no writer, then a pledge is held.
And if some of ye trust others, then he who is trusted should deliver his trust, and he should be guardful of Allah, his Master.
And conceal not the testimony; and whoso conceals it—then indeed his heart is a sinner.
And Allah of what ye do is knowing.
And if ye are on a journey and ye find no writer, then a pledge is held.... If while on a journey witnesses and a writer are not to be found, then a pledge is to be given to take the place of a document.
...And if some of ye trust others, then he who is trusted should deliver his trust,... If the owner trusts the debtor, and makes him a loan with neither document nor something in pledge, then the debtor must return what he has taken on trust. He must not deny it and he must not procrastinate and lengthen the term, but must rise to the intimacy accorded him.
...And he should be guardful of Allah,.. He is witness and will requite; so if the debtor denies his debt or delays the term or falls short, he is preparing himself for Allah's punishment, glorified be He.
...And conceal not the testimony; and whoso conceals it—then indeed his heart is a sinner;... It means that witnesses are not to conceal their evidence, and if a witness should conceal it, by not presenting it or by presenting it falsely, then ‘indeed his heart is a sin.' It is his heart that has led him to conceal, and his tongue and his body have obeyed it. And the sin is more appropriately attributed to the heart as that is where concealment takes place.
...And Allah of what ye do is knowing. He knows the testimony that is concealed and that which is revealed. Why, then. commit what will make Him angry and lead to His punishment?
Allah's is what is in the skies and what is in the earth. And if ye manifest what is in your hearts or ye hide it, Allah will reckon ye for it; so He forgives whom He wills and He chastises whom He wills.
And Allah over all things is powerful.
Allah's is what is in the skies and what is in the earth.... Everything in the skies and the earth belongs to Allah, glorified be He; that which we possess is only ours with His permission. He is the real owner, and so we must deal with things as He has commanded us, and not disobey the real owner.
...And if ye manifest what is in your hearts or ye hide it, Allah will reckon ye for it;... All actions, words and thoughts are to be reckoned. Or since manifesting and hiding are matters of the heart, the heart is reckoned and judged for them. Here there is a conformity with manifesting and concealing testimony.
...so He forgives whom He wills and He chastises whom He wills... He treats people according to the decrees of superlative wisdom; forgiveness and mediation are not arbitrary, but are placed where they are suitable.
...And Allah over all things is powerful. He can forgive and chastise as He wills.
It should not be concealed that chastisement for what is in the heart is not incompatible with whatever suggests the absence of punishment for one who resolves on sin but does not commit it. There is no doubt that a person who resolves on sin but does not commit it is further from pure lawfulness than one who does not resolve on a sin at all; and this distance is itself a type of chastisement.
Here the theme returns to discuss monotheism and Prophethood, and the laws in terms of none being charged with them more than they can stand. That, and supplications for forgiveness and pardon which epitomise the entire sụrah:
The Messenger believes in that sent down to him from his Master, and the believers; each of them believes in Allah and His angels and His books and His Prophets—‘We distinguish not between any of His Prophets.’ And they say, ‘We have heard, and we obey! Thy forgiveness, our Master! And unto Thee is the outcome.'
The Messenger believes in that sent down to him from his Master,... The Messenger, Muhammad, may Allah condescend upon him and upon his House, is the first of those to believe in what was sent down to him. And in that he differs from those religious leaders and kings and judges whose laws do not apply to themselves.
...and the believers; each of them believes in Allah and His angels and His books and His Prophets... Every believer has belief in Allah and His angels and His books and His Prophets. Thus the believer does not content himself with a single facet of Islam, as is the case elsewhere, rather the believers' maxim is:
...—‘We distinguish not between any of His Prophets.' Thus the Muslims differ from the Jews, who follow neither ‘Ịsạ nor the Messenger of Islam, and from the Christians, who do not follow the Messenger of Islam. And nor are they like those who follow part of a command but not all of it.
...And they say, ‘We have heard, and we obey!... They say they have heard the portents, the ạyạt, and the laws, and that they obey His commands. In this too they differ from the Jews who said, ‘We have heard, and we disobey!' And the believers say:
...Thy forgiveness, our Master! And unto Thee is the outcome.' It means: ‘We seek your forgiveness, O our Master, and we know that to You is the final return; so forgive us, that we might be in salvation that day.'
The rules given in this sụrah and elsewhere are not such that they are burdensome, for the truth is that:
Allah charges no soul but to its expanse; it has what it earned and against it is what it has earned.
‘Our Master, blame us not if we forget or err;
‘Our Master, burden us not with a load as Thou burdened those before us;
‘Our Master, burden us not with that for which we have no expanse;
‘Pardon us, and forgive us, and mercy us;
‘Thou are our Patron, so deliver us against the disbelieving tribe.
Allah charges no soul but to its expanse;... The commands and the prohibitions are possible for us, and the religion is not distressful. So no one should imagine that the faith spoken of in the previous portent, ‘...and the believers; each of them believes in Allah.... would cause hardship.
...it has what it earned and against it is what it has earned.... It means that each soul has the good it has earned, as he who does good is rewarded with good. And each soul has against it the sins and disobedience it has earned. In this phrase there is perhaps an indication that obedience is natural, whereas disobedience is acquired.
Thereupon the believers direct themselves to Allah, supplicating, requesting:
...’Our Master, blame us not if we forget or err;... Most mistakes and instances of forgetfulness are caused by things done intentionally, and so it is right to be held accountable for them, as what is caused by the intentional is intentional.
...‘Our Master, burden us not with a load as Thou burdened those before us;;...’ It is true that some of the obligations lead to difficulty and a sense of weight, and so the believer asks Allah to avert such burdens from him. And some previous peoples were deservedly burdened after their unyielding obstinacy, as we saw in the account of the Israelites' cow, and as He says in His word, ‘So for injustice by those Judaised, We forbade them wholesomenesses that had been lawful for them.' (al-Nisạ.u ‘The Women’ ; 161).
The believers' prayer continues:
...’Our Master, burden us not with that for which we have no expanse;... It means things we are able to do, but with difficulty. Otherwise, how can Allah charge us with what is impossible for us?
...’Pardon us, and forgive us and mercy us;... It means pardon us our sins, and forgive our mistakes by concealing them.
...’Thou are our Patron, so succour us against the disbelieving tribe.’ That is: deliver us from them and make us above them in power, in the same way that we are above them in reason and argument.-
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