Surah al-Tawbah (1-37) (2/2)

Surah al-Tawbah (1-37) (2/2)

Qur'anic Exegesis

وَ قَالَتِ الۡیَہُوۡدُ عُزَیۡرُۨ ابۡنُ اللّٰہِ وَ قَالَتِالنَّصٰرَی الۡمَسِیۡحُ ابۡنُ اللّٰہِؕذٰلِکَ قَوۡلُہُمۡ بِاَفۡوَاہِہِمۡۚ یُضَاہِـُٔوۡنَ قَوۡلَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا مِنۡقَبۡلُؕقٰتَلَہُمُ اللّٰہُۚ۫اَنّٰی یُؤۡفَکُوۡنَ﴿۳۰﴾ اِتَّخَذُوۡۤا اَحۡبَارَہُمۡ وَ رُہۡبَانَہُمۡ اَرۡبَابًا مِّنۡدُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ وَ الۡمَسِیۡحَ ابۡنَ مَرۡیَمَۚوَمَاۤ اُمِرُوۡۤا اِلَّا لِیَعۡبُدُوۡۤا اِلٰـہًا وَّاحِدًاۚلَاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ہُوَؕسُبۡحٰنَہٗعَمَّا یُشۡرِکُوۡنَ﴿۳۱﴾ یُرِیۡدُوۡنَ اَنۡیُّطۡفِـُٔوۡا نُوۡرَ اللّٰہِ بِاَفۡوَاہِہِمۡ وَ یَاۡبَی اللّٰہُ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ یُّتِمَّ نُوۡرَہٗوَ لَوۡ کَرِہَ الۡکٰفِرُوۡنَ﴿۳۲﴾ ہُوَ الَّذِیۡۤ اَرۡسَلَ رَسُوۡلَہٗ بِالۡہُدٰی وَدِیۡنِ الۡحَقِّ لِیُظۡہِرَہٗعَلَی الدِّیۡنِ کُلِّہٖ ۙوَ لَوۡ کَرِہَ الۡمُشۡرِکُوۡنَ﴿۳۳﴾

[Their religion is only that] the Jews say that Uzayr is the son ofGod[51]and the Nazarenes say that that the Messiah is the son of God. These are but words of their mouths. They are saying the same words as the disbelievers before them.[52]The curse of God be on them. From where do they turn away. They have made their scholars and their rabbis as their Lord besides God and Jesus, son of Mary, as well[53]even though they had been asked to worship one God only. There is no god except Him. He is exalted[54]above the partners they associate with Him. They want to extinguish this light of God with the blows of their mouths and God has decided to complete His light, however much these disbelievers may dislike it.[55]It is He Who has sent his rasul with guidance and the religion of truth that he may make it sovereign over all religions [of this land], even though the Idolaters may detest this.[56](30-33)

یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اِنَّ کَثِیۡرًا مِّنَ الۡاَحۡبَارِ وَالرُّہۡبَانِ لَیَاۡکُلُوۡنَ اَمۡوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالۡبَاطِلِ وَیَصُدُّوۡنَ عَنۡسَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِؕوَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَکۡنِزُوۡنَ الذَّہَبَ وَ الۡفِضَّۃَوَ لَا یُنۡفِقُوۡنَہَا فِیۡسَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِۙفَبَشِّرۡہُمۡ بِعَذَابٍ اَلِیۡمٍ﴿ۙ۳۴﴾ یَّوۡمَ یُحۡمٰی عَلَیۡہَا فِیۡنَارِ جَہَنَّمَ فَتُکۡوٰی بِہَا جِبَاہُہُمۡ وَ جُنُوۡبُہُمۡ وَ ظُہُوۡرُہُمۡؕہٰذَا مَا کَنَزۡتُمۡ لِاَنۡفُسِکُمۡ فَذُوۡقُوۡا مَا کُنۡتُمۡ تَکۡنِزُوۡنَ﴿۳۵﴾

Believers![57]Most among these scholars and rabbis are those who devour the wealth of people through illegal means and stop [people] from the path of God.[58]So, give glad tidings of a painful torment to those [among them] who are hoarding up gold and silver and do not spend it in the path of God.[59]On the day when this wealth [of theirs] shall be heated in the fire of Hell. Then their foreheads, sides, and backs will be branded with them – "These are the riches which you hoarded. So, taste then what you have been hoarding."[60](34-35)

اِنَّ عِدَّۃَالشُّہُوۡرِ عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ اثۡنَا عَشَرَ شَہۡرًا فِیۡ کِتٰبِ اللّٰہِ یَوۡمَ خَلَقَ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضَ مِنۡہَاۤ اَرۡبَعَۃٌ حُرُمٌؕذٰلِکَ الدِّیۡنُ الۡقَیِّمُ۬ۙ فَلَا تَظۡلِمُوۡا فِیۡہِنَّ اَنۡفُسَکُمۡ وَ قَاتِلُوا الۡمُشۡرِکِیۡنَ کَآفَّۃً کَمَا یُقَاتِلُوۡنَکُمۡ کَآفَّۃً ؕوَاعۡلَمُوۡۤا اَنَّ اللّٰہَ مَعَ الۡمُتَّقِیۡنَ﴿۳۶﴾ اِنَّمَا النَّسِیۡٓءُ زِیَادَۃٌفِی الۡکُفۡرِ یُضَلُّ بِہِ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا یُحِلُّوۡنَہٗعَامًا وَّ یُحَرِّمُوۡنَہٗعَامًا لِّیُوَاطِـُٔوۡا عِدَّۃَمَا حَرَّمَ اللّٰہُ فَیُحِلُّوۡا مَا حَرَّمَ اللّٰہُؕزُیِّنَ لَہُمۡ سُوۡٓءُ اَعۡمَالِہِمۡؕوَ اللّٰہُ لَا یَہۡدِی الۡقَوۡمَ الۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ﴿۳۷﴾

[Believers! Fight them and remember that] God ordained the months twelve[61]in number from the day He created the heavens and the earth.[62]Of these, four are sacred. This is the true religion.[63]Therefore, do not be unjust to your selves [by attacking someone] in these [four months]. And fight while being united [in particular] with the Idolaters the way they fight with you united. And bear in mind that God is with those who abstain[64][from crossing the bounds set by Him. In reality,] changing the months[65]is an addition to their disbelief through which these disbelievers are led into error.[66]In some year, they convert a sacred month to an allowed one and in some year regard it to be a sacred one in order to make the one regarded sacred by God to be allowed [for themselves] by completing the count of the months regarded sacred by Him. Their foul deeds are made fair to them.[67]It is the verdict of God that He will not guide such disbelievers. (36-37)

(Translated by Dr Shehzad Saleem)

[51]. He is the same Ezra whom the Jews regarded as revivalist of their religion. It is said that he lived around the fifth century BC. The Jews had lost the Torah in their period of trial and tribulation. It is said that it was Ezra who re-compiled the Torah from his memory. Thus the Israelites revered him a lot. It is evident from this statement of the Qur'an that among the Jews of the Arabian peninsula this reverence had increased to such an extent that they made him the son of God.

[52]. This is a reference to the polytheistic nations who in their mythologies had made the sun their god and ascribed a son to him. The Jews and the Christians were influenced by them and by severing certain words of their Books from their context and occasion, began attributing meanings to them which could provide grounds to their polytheistic beliefs

[53]. Ie., gave him the same status as the one that should be understood for the Lord of the worlds. Thus by granting them the divine authority of allowing or disallowing things regard all their directives and decisions to be mandatory the way the directives and decisions of God are regarded as mandatory. Even if a clear verse of the Qur'an and a distinct directive of the Prophet (sws) is presented to contest their view, they do not give them any significance.

[54]. The actual word is: سُبْحَانَهُ. It absolves negative attributes in the noun it qualifies. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... Found in this word is also a very clear logical argument in favour of monotheism: it is obviously totally illogical to associate an entirely opposite attribute to someone's established and fundamental attributes. According to this principle, associating any partner to God is against His attribute of divinity because it necessitates a refutation of His universally acknowledged attributes. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 563)

[55]. This is a parable of completion of religion. The implication is contrary to the desire of the Jews and the Christians, the religion which the Almighty began giving His Prophet (sws) in the first revelation will necessarily be brought to completion by Him and make his message reach far and wide to areas that have become destined for it.

[56]. This dominance was to be achieved through Muhammad (sws) in spite of the desires of the idolaters who were his foremost addressees and which are mentioned by the words وَ لَوۡ کَرِہَ الۡمُشۡرِکُوۡنَ. Hence it is essential that the word کُل(all) be understood in this background in the specific sense that this writer has stated in the translation. History shows that this prophecy of the Qur'an was fulfilled word for word and in the very lifetime of the Prophet (sws), the religion of truth prevailed in the whole of the Arabian peninsula. This was a manifestation of an established practice of God that has been mentioned at various instances by the Qur'an regarding His messengers: after the truth is conclusively communicated by God's messengers, God grants them dominance and punishes those who disbelieve their respective messenger. The purpose is to validate the concept of reward and punishment in the Hereafter to the same extent as scientific facts are validated through laboratory experiments. It has no relation to any revolutionary struggle, as understood by some thinkers of current times. Here it has been mentioned to inform Muslims that it is a decision of God and the directive of the last onslaught given against the idolaters and the People of the Book was to implement precisely this decision.

[57]. Earlier the wrongdoings committed by these people against their Creator are mentioned. Now those wrongdoings are mentioned which they were guilty of perpetrating against their fellow human beings. In this regard, their scholars and sages are mentioned in particular. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... A special feature also to be kept in consideration is that instead of the character of the masses that of the scholars and sages is referred to. The purpose is to highlight the fact that a nation whose scholars and sages have such an evil character, says much for the character of their masses. In this situation, how can any reformation be expected? These scholars and sages could have been the sole means of reformation. When they have become slaves to their wealth, who will reform the masses? (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 565)

[58]. Ie., when a movement for reformation is launched, it is they who take the initiative in casting aspersions, raising objections and pronouncing edicts against it to halt its way.

[59]. After paying zakah, accumulating wealth for current and future personal and business purposes is not prohibited. However, if any requirement of its spending for God or His creation comes before a person and he refuses to comply, then its punishment is what is stated ahead in the Qur'an. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... It is this spending which grants the treasure of wisdom to a person and through it radiance of the heart increases. If a person in spite of having abundant wealth at his disposal is indifferent to the needs of the orphans, the needy and the destitute living nearby or becomes oblivious to spending for the preaching, patronage and education of God's religion and for waging jihad for His cause, he cannot be absolved from God's accountability even if that person has fulfilled his legal obligation towards his wealth. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 566)

[60]. This punishment is in consonance with the nature of the crime. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi has explained it. He writes:

... Two things play a major role in the whole enterprise of accumulating wealth: firstly, the desire to become superior among one's contemporaries and secondly, the desire for personal comfort and relief. The verse states that those who accumulate wealth in this world to arrogantly pose themselves, will find their wealth branding their foreheads on the Day of Judgement. Similarly, those who deprive themselves of spending for the cause of God by going after soft silky bedding, rugs, carpets and sofas, will find this saved wealth injuring their sides and backs. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 3, 567)

[61]. This is stated because in deference to the custom of nasi the Arabs would increase the count of the months to 13 or 14 whereas it is only once that a moon becomes full in one month and in view of this, the months can only be 12.

[62]. Ie., Dhu al-Qa'dah, Dhu al-Hijjah and Muharram for the purpose of offering hajj and Rajab for offering 'umrah.

[63]. Ie., the directive that in each year waging war will be prohibited for four months so that people can offer hajj and 'umrah. It is stated that this is precisely the same religion which God revealed through His messengers – in particular Abraham (sws) and Ishmael (sws) – to its followers.

[64]. The implication is that the directive of waging war given earlier, was though a directive of God, yet due consideration of the sacred months was essential. However, while keeping in consideration the limits of this sanctity, war was still to be waged at all cost. This was to be a war with the idolaters in their collective capacity: no distinction was to be made in it with regard to any familial ties, friendship or political, social or economic interest. This war was to uproot disbelief. All such relations were not to be given any weight in it. This is precisely what the requirement of faith and religion is.

[65]. The actual word is نَسِيْء. It is a term of the Arab jahiliyyah. It was carried out in two ways: firstly, if the intention was to launch an attack on someone, the sacred month would be replaced by a month of allowance and thereby war would be justified; second, in order to achieve trade benefits, the lunar calendar was equated to the solar one by adding a month of kabisah so that hajj would fall in the same season always.

[66]. The Arabs would apply this principle of نَسِيْء to safeguard their trade interests while also honouring the count of the sacred months that was a requirement of religiosity. Yet the Qur'an regarded this to be another increase in disbelief. This is because this subterfuge would further add to their deviation from the religion of Abraham (sws), something which they were already guilty of to a great extent. It is stated that they want to deceive God through this but on the contrary enter the sphere of application of a divine law and are consigned to error. The law of God is that people who take to tricks and subterfuges are never guided. God leaves them to wander in the darkness they themselves have created.

[67]. Ie., they regard these tricks to be great feats of intelligence. Yet they do not know that this is the most evil of deeds that Satan has made it seem fair to them.


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