Surah al-Nur (2/2)

Surah al-Nur (2/2)


47. If this purpose can be achieved by some other method than through shawls, there is no harm in it. The purpose is that if women are wearing adornments, they should not open their chests and necklines before men. In fact, they should cover them in such a manner that their adornments are not evident in any way. 48. The first exception was that of: اِلَّا مَا ظَہَرَ مِنۡہَا. Now the second exception is stated ie., relatives before whom there is no restriction to hide adornments. 49. For one's father and father-in-law, the word used by the Qur'an is آبَا (aba). This word not only implies the father but also the paternal and maternal uncles and grandfathers. Therefore, a lady can display her embellishments before these adults of both her maternal and paternal family and those of her husband's just as she can before her father and father-in-law. 50. The word "son" implies the grand and great grand sons, both maternal and paternal ones without any discrimination of real or step relations. The same implies for the sons of brothers and sisters. In these relations also, the sons of real, step and foster brothers and sisters are understood to be included. 51. It is evident from these words that unknown women should be treated the same way as men and a Muslim lady should be very careful in displaying her concealed embellishments before them. The reason is that at times a woman can have sexual leanings towards her own gender. Similarly, at times, being influenced by the physical features and attributes women, these unrelated women become a means of inclining men towards them and vice versa too. 52. The institution of slavery existed in Arabia in the times of the Prophet Muhammad (sws). The words used in the above quoted verse while referring to this institution are مَا مَلَكَتْ اَيْمَانُهُنَّ . Some jurists have understood this expression to only mean "slave-women". However, there is no reason for this exception. Writes Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi: Had only slave-women been implied by this expression, then the appropriate words would have been اَوْ اَمَآئِهِنَّ . A common expression that connotes both slave-men and slave-women would never have been used. Moreover, the verses already mention the category which, as has been explained, includes both women with whom one is generally acquainted as well as slave-women and maidservants. After a mention of this category, an independent mention of slave-women is needless. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 5, 398) 53. Ie., people who live in a house as dependents and because of their subservience or owing to any other reason are incapable of feeling any attraction towards women. 54. If people do not have spouses, then at times this situation may lead them to moral wrongs and opens the door for Satan to intervene. Then from here, the miscreants are also provided with an opportunity to spread slander and allegations. Thus this directive was also necessary for purity and purification. 55. Ie., do not have a husband or a wife. 56. Ie., have the ability to fulfill its responsibilities and also are able to carry out the rights and obligations that are imposed on them as a result. 57. These glad tidings are meant to encourage the poor. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: ... As long as a person does not have a wife, his life is more like a nomad and many of his abilities remain shrunk and dormant. Similarly, as long as a woman is unmarried, she resembles a creeper which is not able to grow and flourish owing to want of support. But once a woman has a husband and a man has a wife, their abilities develop and increase, and when both of them start to strive in life together, the Almighty blesses them in their struggle and their circumstances also change [for the better]. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 5, 400) 58. Ie., they want to marry but because of being poor no woman wants to marry them. 59. This is because if marriage is not possible then this does not give them any license to satisfy their sexual desires through other women. 60. Concealed in these words are glad tidings that a person who exercises self-control to protect his faith and conduct should expect that his Lord will definitely open up a way for him or her. 61. This is a term. It means that a slave makes a contract with his master according to which he would be required to pay a certain sum of money in a specific time period or would carry out a specific service for his master; once he successfully fulfils either of these two options, he would stand liberated. 62. The Almighty has directed the Muslims to necessarily accept this contract made by a slave if he wants to make it and has the required ability to become financially independent. This is because slavery in itself becomes a source of mental contamination and moral degradation. Here it may be kept in mind that at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an, the institution of slavery was as essential to the economic and social needs of the society as the institution of interest is considered in present day societies. In markets, slave-men and slave-women were bought and sold, and affluent houses had slave-men and slave-women of all ages. In such circumstances, a sudden directive for their emancipation would have resulted in many evils: for livelihood, men would have been forced to resort to beggary and women to prostitution. For this reason, the Qur'an adopted a gradual way to eradicate this evil from the society and after many gradual measures of eradication, the above quoted verse revealed a directive for their liberation. This, in other words, was in fact a declaration that slaves could now be masters of their destiny and could obtain liberation whenever they wanted. Before this last directive, various other measures that were adopted to eradicate slavery can be seen in my book Mizan (Islam: A Comprehensive Introduction) in its chapter Qanun-i Mu'asharat (The Social Shari'ah). The most important of these directives is given in verse 4 of Surah Muhammad. There the Qur'an made it clear that in future those captured in battles were not to be kept as slaves and were to be kept as prisoners of war. After this, if they were to be released, there were two possibilities: they could be freed either by accepting ransom or as a favour by not taking any ransom money. 63. This directive is given to the society and the words مِّنۡ مَّالِ اللّٰہِ الَّذِیۡۤ اٰتٰىکُمۡ in the verse are meant to stimulate sentiments of gratitude in people: they should not hesitate in spending what they have been given by God for His cause. This same directive obviously would also be for those in authority that they should help the slaves from the public treasury. Thus the head فِي الرِّقَابِ (to release necks) has been placed in heads in which zakah has to be expended for this purpose. 64. The actual word is فَتًيَات, which is the plural of فتاة. It means "girl." The Qur'an has used this word for slave-women instead of (أمة) so that the psychological approach towards slave-men and women should change, and centuries-old concepts should be transformed. It is because of this purport of the Qur'an that the Prophet (sws) has directed people not to call their slave-men and slave-women by the names عبد (slave-man) and أمة (slave-woman) respectively; in fact, they should be called as فتي (boy) and فتاة (girl). (Muslim, no. 5875, 5877). This was a significant reformatory measure to raise the status of slaves. It was undertaken to gradually root out slavery. 65. This realization arose in the minds of slave-women as a result of the reformatory measures that have been mentioned earlier. Thus it is stated as a warning that no one should force these girls to prostitution. Otherwise, they should remember that if they do so, God will forgive the girls but those who force them to prostitution should contemplate their fate. They will not be able to run away from God's grasp. This warning was sounded because in those times mostly slave-women were used for prostitution and their masters would not have easily given up what they earned through them. Thus it was feared that they would use all kinds of ploys to stop their slave-women from leading chaste lives. 66. This parable is stated ahead. 67. Ie., only God's comprehension and faith in Him is the light of this universe. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: ... These heavens and the earth, in fact the whole universe is a place of darkness for him who does not believe in God or does believe in Him but does not accept His attributes and the corollaries of these attributes. Such a person can neither know the origin of this universe nor the purpose of its creation. He is not able to decide his own purpose of existence either: does he have absolute powers in this world without any accountability or is he governed and controlled? Is he accountable or unaccountable? What is good and evil for him? Should he adopt the path of oppression or that of justice? Should he merely follow his vested interests and desires or some higher mission in life? A successful and true life is based on the correct answer to these questions. However, he who does not believe in God cannot correctly answer these questions. He roams in the darkness like a blind animal and ultimately one day falls in the pit of destruction and reaches the fate he deserves. However, a person who believes in God with His true attributes is able to solve the riddle of this universe and its fate is also evident to him. All those questions become clear to him as well which can never be answered by someone who does not believe in God. For this reason, this world does not remain a place of darkness for him; in fact, the radiance of faith lights up everything for him and each of its aspects becomes evident to him. Whatever step he takes, he takes in broad daylight and in whichever direction he walks, he is guided by the light of belief in God. It is this reality which is explained in this part of the verse by stating that God is the light of the heavens and the earth. He who has this light has the light of guidance and is treading the straight path. And he who is deprived of this light is wandering in a world of darkness and no one else can give him light: وَمَن لَّمْ يَجْعَلِ اللَّهُ لَهُ نُورًا فَمَا لَهُ مِننُّورٍ. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 5, 409) 68. This is a compound parable. The niche here refers to the heart of a person which is like a place which houses a lamp. If the fire of God's faith is made to burn in it, then the inner and outer self of a person lights up in much the same way as when a lamp is placed at a high level in a house it lights up the whole house. 69. Ie., it is fully protected from external influences. Neither is its flame scattered about by some deviant philosophies nor by the gusts of wind of base desires. Also there is no dust of deviation on the crystal that can make it dirty and cause obstruction in the light that is given out. It is clear and luminous like a shining star. 70. Ie., the oil of natural demand and ability with which this lamp of faith is lit up is the oil obtained from trees planted in the middle of orchards, which are more lush. On the other hand, trees which are planted on the eastern and western borders are always prone to heat and wind. For this reason, they do no bear good fruit. A little deliberation shows that there is also an indication in it of adhering to the exact medial point of demand and ability. 71. The implication is that so powerful is the ability of accepting the truth, it is as if it is anxiously waiting for the truth to dawn before it so that it accepts it immediately without any hesitation. 72. Ie., the light of faith on the light of human nature which makes the whole existence of a person to be: نُوۡرٌ عَلٰی نُوۡرٍ (light upon light). 73. In the verse, the preposition of the verb يَهْدِي is ل. This has incorporated in it the meaning of blessing a person with the urge. The implication is that when God observes this ability of accepting the truth in a person, He blesses him with the urge of accepting the true call of a God's messenger and lights up his chest with the radiance of faith. The law in accordance with which this urge is granted is mentioned at many places in the Qur'an: God grants this urge only to those who value the urge they have already been blessed with. 74. Thus He deals with everyone in a manner a person is worthy of it. 75. This is a reference to the places of worship which were built at the direct command of God ie. the Baytullah and the Bayt al-Maqdis. For them, the word رَفْع is used in the same meaning as it is used in the following verse of Surah al-Baqarah: وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ. 76. The word ذِكْر here embraces all forms of remembrance to reminding others of it. 77. Earlier the light of faith had been mentioned. Now people who have it are highlighted. In verse 34, the words الَّذِيْنَ خَلَوْا مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ are used for them. The implication is that the niche of hearts in which the lamp of faith is placed is not found in temples and places where liquor is consumed. These niches are found in the places of God's worship. Thus people having such hearts are also not found everywhere. The places where they can be found are mosques and abodes of worship. This is a statement of the affectee (deeds) after the explanation of the affect-producer (faith): when hearts light up with the radiance of faith not only a person's knowledge but also his actions are guided by this radiance and these places of worship set up by God become inhabited with those servants of His who for centuries are kneeling and prostrating in them. These words obviously counsel the addressees that they too should try to acquire this purity of thought and actions. This parable of their pious predecessors has been stated for precisely this purpose. 78. The actual words are: لِيَجْزِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنَ مَا عَمِلُوا . Here the particle ل is not for causation; it denotes the consequence of a verb. 79. It becomes further evident from this that the light in the above mentioned parable in fact refers to the light of faith. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: ... In the parable of the believers first the affect-producer (ie. faith) is highlighted and then the affectee (deed). In the parable of the disbelievers it is the opposite. The reason for this is that faith is a very deep reality whose roots have penetrated deep into the nature of a human being. It is the blessed consequences of faith which become apparent in deeds and conducts. On the other hand, disbelief is like a tree that has sprouted on filth and garbage whose poisonous fruits are before the eyes in the form of deeds and conduct but does not have any roots in human nature that need to be highlighted. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 5, 413) 80. From here, in accordance with its special style, the Qur'an has turned the direction of the parable to the reality for which it is stated. Thus the words حَتَّي إِذَا جَاءَهُ actually imply: حتي اذا جاء الكافر أعماله يوم القيامة and the accusative pronoun occurs in deference to the object with which the comparison is made ie. mirage. The implication is that when the disbelievers reach their deeds on the Day of Judgement they will be confronted with much the same situation as when someone thirsty reaches a mirage. They will see that disbelief and polytheism have totally obliterated all their deeds and their deeds which they apparently regarded as virtuous do not have any weight. Instead of their deeds, they will find their Lord there who will take their account in the blink of an eye. 81. This is a mention of the darkness which arises once a person is deprived from the radiance of faith. 82. This is a portrayal of birds bowing down before God. If a person has insight he can see this submission in the apparent form of everything. The Qur'an has informed us that the inner form of every object of the heavens and the earth also prostrates before their Lord in a similar way and glorifies and extols Him. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: ... All these objects by their very existence invite human beings to unite with them in this glorification and praise and like them, worship only their Lord. If a person adopts some other way than this, then he adopts a way which is entirely different from the rest of the world. He plays a tune which is in total dissonance with the collective tune of the universe. Also found in this is encouragement for those who adopt God's way: they are not to regard themselves to be alone or in minority. A traveller who treads this path is never alone. This path is full of caravans. All the universe is with him in this journey. Why should he despair and feel disappointed if a handful of individuals are treading a different path. The fact is that God's heavens and the earth, His sun and moon, His seas and mountains and all His animals and birds are with this person. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 5, 419) 83. Stated here is the reason as to why every object glorifies God alone and why everyone should glorify and extol Him only. 84. It is stated earlier that the kingdom of the heavens and the earth belongs to God alone. From here onwards, this premise is substantiated. 85. Ie., if frozen clouds are viewed from the top, they appear as mountains and when they unleash hail, it is as if mountains after mountains come down on earth. 86. This is a parable of torment. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: ... In it is a reference to winter clouds which appear with stormy winds and intense lightning and thunder and such is the extent of the hail storm they unleash that whole settlements below them get covered with hail. It is as if they contain mountains of hail. Some of the nations which were destroyed through divine punishment as mentioned by the Qur'an were destroyed through this calamity. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 5, 421) 87. Ie., a lesson which eyes can access by penetrating the apparent that this universe is the creation of a wise and knowledgeable God Who also solely governs it. Thus only He is worthy of being shown submission to and being worshipped. 88. Ie., He is so powerful and wise that He creates living beings of all kinds from the same water. 89. This is the reason for their hypocrisy and lack of faith mentioned earlier. 90. This doubt can be about the prophethood of Muhammad (sws) and about the future of Islam as well. 91. Here the word ظَالِم connotes ظالم لنفسه (those who are unjust to their souls). 92. The actual word is يَتَّقْهِ. Its shape has changed because of diminution. However, scholars of the language know that such diminution is common is Arabic. The word خَشْيَة is used along with it. When both these words – ie. خَشْيَة and تَقْوَى – are used together, then generally the first one specifies the inner self and the second the outer self. 93. The actual words are: طَاعَةْ مَعْرُوْفَةٌ. It can be the inchoative (mubtada') of a suppressed enunciative (khabar) and vice versa as well. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: ... In both cases, there will not be much difference in meaning because the purpose of such suppression is to fully focus the attention of the addressee to what is stated and this purpose can be achieved in both cases. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 5, 425) 94. Ie., the responsibility of faith, guidance and obedience which is being demanded here. 95. Ie., in the land of Arabia. 96. This is a reference to those who accepted the call of the messengers sent to them and the Almighty, in accordance with His established practice, granted them dominance over the disbelievers. The direction of address, a little deliberation shows, is towards the hypocrites about whom it is mentioned earlier that they had doubts about the future of Islam. It is stated that in accordance with the persistent established practice of God regarding His messengers, He has promised Muhammad (sws) and his companions that He will grant them political authority in the land of Arabia. It is further explained that as a result of this, the rule of the religion of truth will be set up here, danger will cease for the believers and worship will become specific to God alone. History bears witness that this promise was fulfilled with such majesty that no one can deny it now. 97. This word connotes its consequence. Ie., if they are disobedient, very soon they will meet their fate. 98. Earlier, believers have been directed to seek permission when they enter a house. Here it is explained that it is not necessary for slaves and sexually immature children who frequent a house to seek permission every time they enter. It is sufficient for them if they ask permission in these three times only. 99. This is the reason for the earlier directive: if someone suddenly enters a private room in these times, he may see the residents in an inappropriate state. 100. Why are slaves and children exempt? Stated here is its wisdom. 101. Ie., because children have been frequenting the house ever since their childhood is not reason enough for them to continue with the exception granted to them. Consequently, once they reach this age, they must follow the regulations that pertain to all. 102. Earlier it was stated that women should cover the embellishments of the chest and the neckline in front of non-mahram relatives. Here it is explained that this directive of covering the embellishments of the chest and the neckline does not pertain to old women have lost their sexual urge and towards whom men feel no attraction. If they want, they can dispense with the cloth. There is no harm in it. 103. Ie., they no longer have the desire to be embellished and show themselves to others. 104. Ie., what is desirable for them too is that in the presence of men they do not dispense with their shawls and follow these directives in their essence. This is because the Being from whom these directives are being given hears and knows all. Nothing can be hidden from Him. 105. This is a reference to houses which are under the benefaction of someone like those of the orphans under their guardians. 106. The implication is that the purpose is not to prohibit any of these things. If people have understood something different than this, then it is wrong. The norms of gender interaction that are being delineated are not meant to deprive people of those who are in contact with them or to impose restrictions on their social freedom. If they are sensible, all these relationships can also be maintained while giving due regard to these norms. 107. The actual verb used is: آمَنُوْا. Concomitant indications show that here it is used in its complete meaning. 108. It is evident from this that such permission should only be sought from God's messenger for some essential need because this is not something desirable. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: ... This is because there can be nothing greater than supporting and helping God's messenger particularly when some collective task is at hand. However, giving regard to human weaknesses a messenger has been given permission that if he wants to give permission to someone he can and seek his forgiveness from God for this weakness of his. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 5, 434) 109. The actual words are: قَدْ يَعْلَمُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ يَتَسَلَّلُونَ مِنكُمْ لِوَاذًا. An incomplete verb is suppressed before this sentence. Every person having a literary taste can see the extent of anger and reprimand concealed in this style. 110. The opposition which is mentioned here is in reality of the nature of evasion and avoidance. Thus the preposition of عَنْ is used with يُخَالِفُوْنَ, as a result of which the verb encompasses the meaning of evasion and avoidance. 111. It is evident from the change in style that this statement is uttered while turning away from the addressees. ____________




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