(Tr. by Dr Shehzad Saleem)
Tone of the Sūrah and its Relationship with the Previous one
This sūrah is the addendum and supplement of the preceding sūrah: Sūrah Fath. The last verse of the previous sūrah mentions with reference to the Torah the following attribute of the Prophet (sws) and his companions (rta):مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ اللهِ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاء عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاء بَيْنَهُمْ (48: 29) (Muhammad, the Messenger of God and those who are with him are stern to the disbelievers but merciful to one another, (48:29)).This whole sūrah is an explanation of this verse. The importance of this verse has already been elaborated upon in the tafsīr of the previous sūrah. It was this importance of this verse which required that all of its implications and insinuations be elucidated here and which were essential for the reformation of the Muslim society. I have already explained this at a relevant place in this tafsīr that these directives were revealed in the Qur'ān in accordance with the requirements of the circumstances so that people become aware of their importance. Thus this sūrah too was revealed in circumstances when certain things emanated from converts that showed that neither were they fully aware of the status and position of the Prophet (sws) nor of their responsibilities in an Islamic society. Thus important directives, which were necessary for the circumstances of those times, were revealed in this supplementarysūrah. All these directives relate to the mutual rights of the Prophet (sws) and the Muslims. The matter of the disbelievers is not discussed in it. The attitude which Muslims should adopt towards them has been alluded to in the previous sūrahs.
The nature of relationship of Sūrah Nūr with Sūrah Mu'minūn in the third group of sūrahs is the same as the relationship of this sūrah with that of Sūrah Fath. Both sūrahs also have a similar tone.
Analysis of the Meanings
Verses (1-5): Muslims are warned that Muhammad (sws) is a Messenger of God. Muslims are not allowed to give priority to their own views over the views and directives of the Prophet (sws). They must not raise their voice above his, and also must not address him as they address one another. The Almighty nurtures the seed of piety in only those hearts which have regard and respect for the Prophet (sws). Those who express their superiority while talking to him because they think that they have done Allah and the Prophet (sws) a favour by accepting Islam should be aware that this attitude might render in vain all their deeds whilst they may not even realize this loss.
Verses (6-10):The dealings of Muslims with one another should be based on brotherhood and fraternity and not on the basis of association with a particular party or group. It is totally forbidden for a Muslim faction to launch an assault over another Muslim faction by trusting the account of an evil doer, something upon which they would themselves feel ashamed later on. In all important affairs, they should leave the decision-making to the Prophet (sws) and follow his directives. To obtain the support and sympathy of the Prophet (sws), no party should unduly pressurize him. This would be showing disregard to the blessing of faith the Almighty has bestowed them with. After tasting the flavour of faith, any deed unworthy of it would be tantamount to a return to disbelief and disobedience. The Almighty has endeared faith to them and made disbelief and wrongdoing abhorrent to them precisely to prevent this return. The sūrah further gives guidance to the believers when two of their parties take up arms against one another. They must not support either of these parties because of their association with it; instead they should view the whole affair with justice and fairness and try to make peace between them. If one of the parties refuses to submit to what has been ascertained as justice, then Muslims should forcibly make it submit to it.
Verses (11-13): Muslims are advised to refrain from all activities which create hatred among them and which ignite the flames of disorder and disruption in the society. No Muslim should mock or make fun of another Muslim or defame him or call him by insulting names. Muslims should avoid immoderate suspicion, and also refrain from hunting down each others' mistakes. Moreover, they must abstain from backbiting. Pride and vanity about one's clan, family or creed are relics of the period of jāhiliyyah before Islam and must not be continued. The Almighty has created all mankind from a single pair of man and woman: Adam and Eve. The real aim behind dividing mankind into various groups and tribes is merely to identify each separately. The basis of honour in the sight of Allah is piety and not association with a particular clan or tribe.
Verses (14-18):The concluding verses, in essence, reiterate what had been hinted at the beginning of the sūrah. It becomes clear from these verses that the people who are under discussion in the initial verses of the sūrah are the Bedouins who lived in the vicinity of Madīnah and who had accepted Islam only because they were over-awed by its increasing political strength. Therefore, the true essence of faith had not found its way into their hearts and they arrogantly reckoned that they had done the Prophet (sws) a great favour by accepting Islam. As a result, they had developed a conceited attitude and behaviour, about which they have been warned in the beginning of the sūrah. Here, at the end, the Almighty has asked the Prophet (sws) to convey to these people that they must not think that Islam is indebted to them; the Almighty has full knowledge of their inner and outer selves. Though they have submitted, yet faith has not found its roots in their hearts. They have done Islam no favour by accepting faith; rather the Almighty has done them a favour by guiding them to faith. If they now fulfil the obligations which their faith now imposes on them, they shall be duly rewarded, for the Almighty is watching all their deeds.
Section I: Verses (1-10)
Text and Translation
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَاتَّقُوا اللهَ إِنَّ اللهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ (1) يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَرْفَعُوا أَصْوَاتَكُمْ فَوْقَ صَوْتِ النَّبِيِّ وَلَا تَجْهَرُوا لَهُ بِالْقَوْلِ كَجَهْرِ بَعْضِكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ أَن تَحْبَطَ أَعْمَالُكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَشْعُرُونَ (2) إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَغُضُّونَ أَصْوَاتَهُمْ عِندَ رَسُولِ اللهِ أُوْلَئِكَ الَّذِينَ امْتَحَنَ اللهُ قُلُوبَهُمْ لِلتَّقْوَى لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ (3) إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُنَادُونَكَ مِن وَرَاء الْحُجُرَاتِ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ (4) وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ صَبَرُوا حَتَّى تَخْرُجَ إِلَيْهِمْ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَّهُمْ وَاللهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ (5) يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَأٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَى مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ (6) وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ فِيكُمْ رَسُولَ اللهِ لَوْ يُطِيعُكُمْ فِي كَثِيرٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْرِ لَعَنِتُّمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللهَ حَبَّبَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْإِيمَانَ وَزَيَّنَهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَكَرَّهَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكُفْرَ وَالْفُسُوقَ وَالْعِصْيَانَ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الرَّاشِدُونَ (7) فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللهِ وَنِعْمَةً وَاللهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ (8) وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَى فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّى تَفِيءَ إِلَى أَمْرِ اللهِ فَإِن فَاءتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا إِنَّ اللهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ (9) إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ (10)
Believers! Do not give preference to your view over that of God and the Messenger. And have fear of God. Indeed, God hears all and knows all. (1)
Believers! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor call him the way you call one another lest your deeds should come to nothing without you even being aware of it. Remember that those who speak gently in the presence of God's Prophet are the men whose hearts God has selected to nurture piety. For them are forgiveness and a great reward. (2-3)
Indeed, most of those who call out to you while you are in your chambers are naive. If they waited with patience until you went out to them, it would have been better for them. And God is Forgiving and Merciful. (4-5)
Believers! If a defiant person brings you a piece of news, investigate it thoroughly lest you assail someone unknowingly then regret your action. And fully bear in mind that God's Messenger is among you. If he follows you in many matters, you would encounter many difficulties. But God has endeared faith to you and ingrained it in your hearts and made disbelief, defiance, and disobedience abhorrent to you. These are the people who are rightly guided through God's grace and bounty. And God is All-knowing and Wise. (6-8)
And if two groups from among the believers take up arms against one another, make peace between them. Then if one of them unjustly attacks the other, fight against the aggressor till it submits to God's judgement. So if it submits, reconcile them with fairness and administer full justice. Indeed, God loves those who exercise justice. Muslims are brothers to one another so reconcile your brothers and fear God that you may be shown mercy. (9-10)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَاتَّقُوا اللهَ إِنَّ اللهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ (1)
Though common Muslims are addressed, yet the attitude of the Muslim Bedouins of the environs of Madīnah is discussed in this sūrah, as will gradually become evident from the later verses; they had accepted faith after having witnessed the emerging strength of Islam, and faith had not fully found its roots in their hearts. The first reason for this was that they had not embraced Islam after understanding it but because they were over-awed by it. Secondly, since they were cut off from the centre, they could not be properly educated and instructed. They were also afflicted with the conceited notion that since they had showed obedience to the Prophet (sws) without being attacked, they had done him a great favour. As a result of this notion when their leaders came to Madīnah they would talk to the Prophet (sws) as though they had a done a great favour and service to Islam. Even without being asked for advice, they would take the initiative to assertively give suggestions. To express their own superiority, they would raise their own voice above that of the Prophet (sws). Whenever they came, they would desire that the Prophet (sws), leaving aside all his activities, immediately attend to them and in case of any delay, they would shout unhesitatingly near his chamber to call him the way one calls an ordinary person. Each person would try to win the support of the Prophet (sws) in their various rifts and jealousies against each other prevailing ever since the days of jāhiliyyah. To achieve this end, they would at times try to give such information to the Prophet (sws) regarding their adversaries which would create a wrong perception about them in his mind. If, on the basis of this information, the Muslims of Madīnah had taken some step, it could have been very harmful to the collective life of the Muslims.
It is these circumstances in which this sūrah was revealed. Though the attitude of a specific group of Muslims is discussed in it, as was indicated earlier, the words of address of the Qur'ān are general so that this group is not put to too much disgrace and all doors are closed for Satan to ignite mischief and nuisance in the society.
It needs to be kept in consideration that the prohibition stated here is to take the initiative before the Messenger of God in presenting one's view or to give preference to one's view to that of God and His Messenger; the prohibition does not relate to mere presentation of one's opinion to the Prophet (sws). The Prophet (sws) would often ask for the opinions of the Companions (rta) in various affairs and they would also present them to him. Similarly, at times, the Companions (rta) would say to him that in case a certain measure of his was not based on divine revelation, then in their opinion, a certain other plan would be better. At times, the Prophet (sws) would even accept their opinion. This verse does not forbid such things. The Prophet (sws) through his very attitude has encouraged this. It is mentioned in certain narratives that the Prophet (sws) was one who would seek consultation from people the most. The Almighty too, as is evident from:وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الأَمْرِ (159:3)(and consult them in affairs, (3:159)), had directed the Prophet (sws) to keep consulting people.
The prohibition relates to what we have referred to earlier: a person while regarding the Messenger of God to be a common person or a mere leader and regarding his own self to be superior to him tries to influence the Messenger with his opinion which was not asked for in the first place and to give preference to it over that of the Messenger. If someone does this, then his attitude bears evidence to the fact that he is absolutely unaware of the real position and status of the Prophet (sws). A messenger of God is His representative and whatever he does or says is at the bidding of God. If a person is bold enough to give preference to his own views over his, then this, in other words, would mean that he regards his own view to be superior to that of God; this will lay waste all his beliefs and deeds without him even knowing it.
The words بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللهِ وَرَسُولِهِshow that the matters of God and His Messenger are not distinct from one another. A messenger of God is His representative and envoy. Giving him unasked for advice is like giving advice to God; giving preference to one's own opinion over his is like giving preference to one's own opinion over God's opinion and to regard oneself to be more wise is to regard one self to be wiser than the all-knowing God. These are the necessary consequences of this attitude of a person. It is possible that because of foolishness a person does not realize these consequences, but it cannot be refuted that these are the necessary consequences.
The words وَاتَّقُوا اللهَ إِنَّ اللهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌsound a warning to these people that they should keep fearing God and not be in the craze of regarding themselves to be wiser and more sagacious than God and His Messenger. God is all-hearing and all-knowing; He is listening to what they are saying and is also fully aware of the motives behind them. What is implied is that when He sees and knows all, then the law of retribution will definitely come into play. The succeeding verse mentions this law.
This verse warns the people of our times as well who, while claiming to serve Islam, are distorting its values and tampering with its laws. They are of the view that the form in which God and His Messenger has given Islam has gone obsolete and that it is essential that it be adapted to the needs of the current era. Thus they are changing the directives of the sharī'ah as per their own view. The only difference is that the verse mentions people who wanted to take the lead in presenting their suggestions to God and His Messenger, while the claimants to Islam of this era did not get this chance so they are now, God forbid, correcting the mistakes made by God and His Messenger regarding religion.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَرْفَعُوا أَصْوَاتَكُمْ فَوْقَ صَوْتِ النَّبِيِّ وَلَا تَجْهَرُوا لَهُ بِالْقَوْلِ كَجَهْرِ بَعْضِكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ أَن تَحْبَطَ أَعْمَالُكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَشْعُرُونَ (2)
This verse alludes to another aspect of what is said above: those who were inflicted with the satanic thought that they were in a position to give advice to God and His Messenger or those who vainly reckoned that they had done a great favour to Islam and the Prophet (sws) by embracing faith could not be humble and courteous in their conversation with the Prophet (sws). In fact, a reflection of this vanity in their conversation was quite natural. Thus when these people spoke to the Prophet (sws) it would become evident from their style that instead of learning from the Messenger of God they had actually come to teach him. Consequently, just as they would take the lead in presenting their views, they would also try that their voice be loud and imposing on the Prophet (sws) and when they would address him, then instead of respectfully addressing him by the words "O Messenger of God!", they would say "O Muhammad!" as if they were conversing with some of their own common compatriots. Here, they are stopped from addressing the Prophet (sws) in such a disrespectful way because this attitude clearly showed that they had not yet recognized his true position and status; moreover, hidden in them was the pride of their own superiority which will ultimately lay waste their deeds.
I have been referring to the fact that the words to the effect كراهةor مخافةare suppressed beforeأَن تَحْبَطَ أَعْمَالُكُمْ. If this suppression is unfolded, the discourse would be something to the effect: You are being stopped from this disrespectful behaviour lest this lay waste all your deeds before God.
The implication of the words وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَشْعُرُونَis that though these people conceitedly reckoned that they had done a great service to Islam and their anxiety to benefit the Prophet (sws) from their opinion was due to their zeal to serve religion, yet all the deeds which they reckoned to have done for the cause of religion will be of no use to them and they will not even be aware of this.
It is evident from this that at times a person in his own view does a lot of things which he thinks are a service to religion, however, if he has the conceited notion that he is doing a favour to God or His messenger or His religion and as a result he neither pays true regard to the exaltedness of God nor show the true respect His Messenger deserves, then all his deeds will come to nothing and he will only come out of this unawareness in the Hereafter. God is not dependent on anyone for the service of His religion so that a person thinks himself to have done a favour to Him and His Messenger. Only the deeds of those people will be blessed enough to be accepted by Him who serve the cause of His religion only to please Him in accordance with the bounds and limits set by Him; at the same time, they acknowledge wholeheartedly that by doing this service they do not do any favour to God or His Messenger; on the contrary, God has done them a favour in that He gave them the urge to be of some service to His religion.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَغُضُّونَ أَصْوَاتَهُمْ عِندَ رَسُولِ اللهِ أُوْلَئِكَ الَّذِينَ امْتَحَنَ اللهُ قُلُوبَهُمْ لِلتَّقْوَى لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ (3)
This verse teaches the right etiquette essential for every believer to adopt regarding the Prophet (sws). The verse says that those who keep down their voices before the Prophet (sws) are the ones whose hearts the Almighty has selected to nurture the seeds of piety. The word امْتَحَنَencompasses the meaning of the word إِصْطَفَى or some word of similar meaning. It is evident from this that not every heart is appropriate for sowing and nurturing the seeds of piety; the Almighty selects such hearts by making them pass through a test. The real thing which becomes a reason for preference in this is whether a person has true zeal to submit before God and His messenger and the awareness of being humble before them. The more a person has this the more he is blessed with piety and the more a person is devoid of it the farther away is he from piety. Raising one's voce is mentioned here as a reflection of a person's inner self, as has been indicated earlier. A person who tries to raise his voice over that of another shows by this very act of his that he regards himself to be superior to him. This attitude closes doors to gain and to acquiring more. Anyone who adopts this attitude with the Messenger of God will not only be deprived of the blessings and benefits of the Messenger but also of the urge from God because the Messenger is God's Messenger.
The same status is occupied by God's Book and the Sunnah of the Messenger. Only those hearts are selected by God for nurturing piety which are humble and submit themselves before the Book and Sunnah the way Muslims have been directed to be humble in the presence of God's Messenger. A person who has the sincere zeal of submitting himself before every directive of God and His Messenger will find before him many opportunities to grow in his piety as well as divine help at every step. If a person conceitedly reckons that he is in a position to reform the Qur'ān and the Hadīth, then this vanity of his will lay waste his deeds and lead him to a grievous fate in the Hereafter.
Consider now the next part of the verse: لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ.In the earlier verse, it was stated that those people who raise their voice above that of the Prophet's voice will find their deeds going waste. Now, here, in contrast, the fate of those people is mentioned who keep down their voices before that of the Prophet (sws): for them is forgiveness and great reward. In other words, God will forgive their faults because they remained humble before God and His Messenger. Their vanity and haughtiness did not make them bold enough to regard themselves to be superior to God and His Messenger. The reward they got for this attitude was that God chose their hearts to nurture the seed of piety in them – something whose reward in turn is great in the eyes of God.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُنَادُونَكَ مِن وَرَاء الْحُجُرَاتِ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ (4)
Just as these people were disrespectful to the Prophet (sws) in his gatherings, they were also discourteous in shouting to him from outside his chambers to call him to gatherings where he had not come. Such behaviour is disrespectful in itself; however, its inner motive was even more ignominious than its outer expression. These people, as I have alluded to earlier with more details forthcoming, thought wrongly, that since they had embraced Islam without any war or armed struggle they had done a great favour to Islam and the Prophet (sws). For this reason, they thought that it was their right that when they come to the Prophet (sws) should greet them without any delay. If he was not present at that moment, they would not wait for him and start encircling the chambers of the wives of the Prophet (sws) and call out his name in a very disrespectful manner. The verse says that most of them have no sense. The words أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ harbour in them a rebuke on their foolishness and also very subtly hint to the Prophet (sws) to overlook this foolishness of theirs: even though they are guilty of doing something very ill-mannered yet their majority is neither aware of the status of the Prophet (sws) nor of the fate of this behaviour; so they need instruction and training and should be ignored.
The word وَرَاء (behind) in the expression مِن وَرَاء الْحُجُرَاتِ does not necessarily say that they used to call out from behind the chambers and this was the reason for the rebuke. This word does not specifically mean "behind". In the Arabic language, the expression نَادَانِي مِنْ وَرَآ الدَّار would only mean "he called out to me from outside the house" regardless of whether from the back of the house or from the front. What made this act objectionable was the way in which they would address the Prophet (sws). It needs to be kept in consideration that it is against respect to call even a common person in this manner not to speak of the Prophet (sws). The proper way of addressing people to meet them has already been delineated in Sūrah Nūr.
وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ صَبَرُوا حَتَّى تَخْرُجَ إِلَيْهِمْ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَّهُمْ وَاللهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ (5)
This verse informs them of the correct etiquette they should have adopted: had they been patient enough to wait for him to come out, this would have earned them great blessings. The style of the verse is to express sorrow at their deprivation. The implication is that had they recognized and valued the fountain that they had reached, their thirst would have been quenched; it is their deprivation that because of not duly honouring this opportunity they lost what they had, much less gaining something from it.
By the words وَاللهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ the Almighty has reminded the Prophet (sws) of His attributes of forgiveness and mercy and the purpose is to subtly direct his attention to the fact that even though these people are guilty of such unworthy acts, they are people bereft of sense and reason; so, at present, he should ignore these acts. God is forgiving and merciful and it is but appropriate that His Prophet too should be forgiving and merciful.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَأٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَى مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ (6)
This verse informs the Muslims of Madīnah of a certain political threat: I have referred to earlier that the behaviour of the leaders of certain Bedouin tribes of the environs of Madīnah is discussed here. Just as these people were bereft of the awareness of the high stature of the Prophet (sws), they were also until then bereft of the sentiments of Islamic brotherhood. The effects of the jealousy and hate they harboured for one another in the days of ignorance were still found in them. When they would come to Madīnah, some of them would give all kinds of right and wrong news about their adversaries in order to influence the Prophet's opinion about them. They would also try to win the support of the Companions (rta) they could influence in this matter so that they were able to use the central power of Madīnah in their favour. This was a very precarious situation. The government of Madīnah in the first place was not yet fully stable. Secondly, any action on the basis of these baseless rumours, especially against some Muslim faction would have been against both justice and collective welfare. This situation necessitated that the centre of the Muslims be directed that in all such important affairs they altogether leave the decision to the discretion of the Prophet (sws); they should also not trust the reports of unreliable people thereby influencing the opinion of the Prophet (sws) in accordance with their own. Consequently, they were directed that if an insolent person brought news of some important event, then without thoroughly investigating the matter they should not take any step by relying on this news lest being over-awed with zeal they end up attacking an innocent faction and then later regret it.
The word فَاسِقٌ (insolent)here refers to people who are indifferent to the bounds and limits of the sharī'ah. I have already presented my research on the word نَبَأat a relevant place in this tafsīr that it refers to important news accepting which or acting on which may have far reaching consequences. If such important news is given by someone who is not reliable as regards his faith and morals, then both sense and morality entail that his piece of information not be believed until both the information and the person giving it are thoroughly investigated. It may be that such a person gave the information because of evil motives and the information may either be totally baseless or because of some ill-intention has been changed and adapted to inflame the emotions of the listeners. The word جَهَالة is used in the meaning of emotional frenzy and rage. I have presented research on this word as well at a relevant place in this tafsīr.
وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ فِيكُمْ رَسُولَ اللهِ لَوْ يُطِيعُكُمْ فِي كَثِيرٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْرِ لَعَنِتُّمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللهَ حَبَّبَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْإِيمَانَ وَزَيَّنَهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَكَرَّهَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكُفْرَ وَالْفُسُوقَ وَالْعِصْيَانَ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الرَّاشِدُونَ (7) فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللهِ وَنِعْمَةً وَاللهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ (8)
These verses further emphasize the warning meted out earlier to the Muslims: the Messenger of God is present among them; hence they should not give so much importance to their opinions that they try to convince him into following them; on the contrary, they should follow him. Whatever steps he takes, he takes in the guidance of God. Hence their success both in this world and in the next is in following him and not in following their own feelings and emotions. If they want to present their opinion, they should respectfully do so and leave the decision to his discretion and not desire that all their opinions be necessarily accepted. They should fully bear in mind that a lot of their opinions are raw; if the Messenger of God accepts these opinions, they will end up in a lot of bother; he only accepts those opinions they put forth which are correct. Because of the Messenger of God they are lucky enough to be divinely guided at every step; hence they should duly value this favour and show gratitude to God.
The word عَنِت means "difficulty and hardship". Thus لَعَنِتُّمْ would mean "you will get caught in great difficulty and hardship". If a patient instead of following the doctor wants that the doctor follow his opinion, then it is very obvious that such a patient will end up in a lot of danger.
The words وَلَكِنَّ اللهَ حَبَّبَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْإِيمَانَ وَزَيَّنَهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَكَرَّهَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكُفْرَ وَالْفُسُوقَ وَالْعِصْيَانَ say that precisely to save them from difficulty and hardship has the Almighty endeared faith to them and made it find roots in their hearts and has made disbelief and disobedience hateful and odious to them. The obligation they owe to this arrangement is that they should continue to love and hold dear their faith and none of their words and deeds be stained with disbelief and disobedience.
The preposition إِلَي after حَبَّبَ and كَرَّهَ refers to the special arrangement made by the Almighty through His Messenger to endear faith to them and to engender in them an abhorrence of disbelief and defiance. In the age of jāhiliyyah, all moral values had been muddled. Satan had made faith hateful and endeared disbelief and disobedience to people. Faith was so deeply concealed beneath multi-layers that to unveil its true beauty and radiance to people by slicing away these layers had become an onerous task. Similarly, Satan had made disbelief so deceptively beautiful by various lures that to show its real horrendous face had become virtually impossible. It was a blessing of God that He sent His Messenger who after a long struggle and jihād unveiled faith in its true attractive form and made its majesty take root in their hearts. Similarly, he scraped away the artificial embellishments from the horrible face of disbelief and showed them its real hideous and abhorrent face and made them detest it. This topic is discussed here by the words إِلَي حَبَّبَ and إِلَيكَرَّهَ. In other words, he presented belief and disbelief in their original form to them as a result of which they became desirous of belief and hated disbelief. It is as if both these verbs comprise the meaning of إِلَيand the preposition is pointing towards this meaning.
Here the object of the verb حَبَّبَ is faith alone while there are three objects of the verb كَرَّهَ: كُفْرَ (disbelief) andفُسُوقَ (defiance) andعِصْيَانَ (disobedience)The reason for this, as is indicated earlier, is that the people whose character is under discussion here were the ones who had till then not yet become fully aware of the opposite of disbelief. As a result, it required that they be told that it is not merely كُفْرَ (disbelief) which was contrary to belief; things belonging to the category of فُسُوقَ (defiance) and عِصْيَانَ(disobedience) are also the off shoots of disbelief and for this reason the Almighty has regarded them to be detestable as well.
Though the word فِسْق has been used in the Qur'ān to connote كُفْر, yet since here it is used with كُفْر, it would refer that defiance shown to God by a person while laying claim to belief. The word عِصْيَانَas per its context and occasion refers to the disobedience of the Messenger. Since disobeying his representatives is also an act of indirect disobedience to him, hence this thing is also included in its meaning.
The words أُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الرَّاشِدُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللهِ وَنِعْمَةً وَاللهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ state that it is these people in whose hearts the majesty of faith has taken roots and who abhor the slightest trace of كُفْرَ (disbelief) andفُسُوقَ (defiance) andعِصْيَانَ(disobedience). They are, in reality, rightly guided and they received this guidance as a favour and blessing of God. Thus, they should remain thankful to God alone. Like the naïve, they should not think that these favours are the result of their own endeavours and that they have done a favour to God and His Messenger. The attributes are meant to emphasize that every act of God is based on His knowledge and wisdom. He does not blindly apportion things. He blesses only those with the gift of faith whom He finds worthy of it.
This verse showers praise on the Muslims of Madīnah who were continuously benefiting from the companionship of the Prophet (sws) and were fully devoted to God. Moreover, the context bears witness that the verse is a slant on the raw Muslims whose shortcomings are being discussed since the initial verses of the sūrah and who belonged to the nearby tribes of Madīnah.
Our exegetesas per their customary practice have also mentioned an occasion of revelation related to verse six: the Prophet (sws) sent Walīd ibn 'Uqbah to collect zakāh from the tribe of Banū Mustaliq; when he reached there, the tribesmen came out in the form of a procession to greet him; Walīd thought that these people had come out to fight him; fearing an attack, he ran back home and informed the Prophet (sws) that these people had become apostates and had refused to pay zakāh;on hearing this news, the Prophet (sws) was very annoyed at the tribe of Banū Mustaliq; he sent an army contingent or decided to send one; when the Banū Mustaliq tribe got news of this.. their leader immediately came over to the Prophet (sws) and assured him on oath that they had not even seen the face of Walīd much less refused to pay zakāh. After this explanation, the matter was resolved. In the opinion of our exegetes, this verse was revealed because of this narrative attributed to Walīd; Muslims were directed not take a hasty step by believing in the narration of a fāsiq person.
It is customary for our exegetes to cite an occasion of revelation for almost every verse. They have also cited an occasion of revelation for verse four earlier. I have not dealt with it because some authorities have criticized it; however, as far as the occasion of revelation of the verse under discussion is concerned, there is a consensus of the exegetes on it. Thus, analyzing it was essential.
The principle premise regarding narratives on occasion of revelation should always remain in consideration is something which I have mentioned in the preface to this tafsīr: if our early authorities mention an incident as an occasion of revelation for a verse, it does not necessarily mean that that exact incident was the cause of revelation of that verse; they mean that this verse also guides us regarding that incident. This is the opinion of the scholars of exegetical interpretation, which is why I have cited it. Moreover, it is also known that most narratives which mention an occasion of revelation are da'īf, in fact, baseless. Hence it is essential that they be analyzed in the light of criteria based on both reason and revelation lest this lead to an untoward situation which this verse had stopped Muslims to end up in.
If this occasion of revelation is analyzed in the light of reason, one will see that it has many flaws.
Firstly, the verse has asked Muslims not to trust a piece of news given by a fāsiq (defiant person). Before this incident there is nothing known to people from Walīd which could, God forbid, regard him as a fāsiq. Not only this, such was the nature of his reliability and trustworthiness that the Prophet (sws) entrusted him with the responsibility of collecting zakāh. If there had been some issue with his character, the Prophet (sws) would never have selected him for such an important service.
Secondly, if this occasion of revelation is accepted, then it will have to be conceded that the Prophet (sws), God forbid, was so unaware of his Companions (rta) that he would select from among them for such important positions those, who because of their dishonest misconduct, would endanger both the citizens and the government. Such short-sightedness is not expected even from a common sane human being not to speak of the Prophet (sws).
Thirdly, if Walīd ran away from the tribe thinking the group who had come out to receive him to be armed in order to attack him and if he conveyed this impression of his to the Prophet (sws), then though this could be regarded as a naïve act on his part, as per the sharī'ah, it cannot be regarded as fisq. Had this been the case, the verse should have been something to the effect: "Believers! Do not entrust your responsible positions to simpletons who are not even able to distinguish between a welcoming faction and a warring faction." What needs to be kept in consideration is that had Walīd been such a simpleton, would the Prophet (sws) have entrusted him with such a political and fiscal position? Can the trait of being a simpleton suddenly emanate from a person and the people around him not know about it? Even a person like the Prophet (sws) was not able to discern it?
Fourthly, it is Walīd who was made the governor of Kūfah by the caliph 'Uthmān (rta) in his times. Was he not aware of the fact that as per a Qur'ānic verse, this person had been classified as a fāsiq and was not even eligible to narrate a report or to bear witness not to speak of governorship? If he was not aware, then it should be accepted that a rightly guided caliph as 'Uthmān (rta) who is also known as the collector of the Qur'ān, God forbid, did not have even as much knowledge of the Qur'ān as the narrators of reports of occasions of revelation.
I have referred to only a few aspects of this occasion of revelation; otherwise it has problems at every step. Some variants say that the Prophet (sws) had sent the army contingent; others say that he had decided to send it and had given an ultimatum to the Banū Mustalaq that if they did not abstain, he would send someone who is like him (عندي كنفسي) and at the same time while patting 'Alī (rta) on his back to encourage him indicated that he would be sent for this campaign.In some other narratives, it is said that he had sent Khālid ibn Walīd (rta) for the campaign.In short, contradictions abound even though it is evident from the words لَوْ يُطِيعُكُمْ فِي كَثِيرٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْرِ that if such a thing came to the Prophet (sws), he ignored it and people were warned that they should not try to influence him with their opinions.
In my opinion, this occasion of revelation has been concocted by the rawāfid through which they not only wanted to bring Walīd's name into disrepute but also that of 'Uthman (rta) that deliberately patronizing his relativethe appointed a fāsiq as governor of Kūfah. Even during his tenure as governor of Kūfah, these horrible people did not spare Walīd and narrated such incidents reflecting his fisq which bring both laughter and tears: laughter at their intelligence and tears at the simplicity of our exegetes who cite such baseless reports in their exegesis even though they have no relation with the words and context of the verse.
وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَى فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّى تَفِيءَ إِلَى أَمْرِ اللهِ فَإِن فَاءتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا إِنَّ اللهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ (9)
It was said in the previous verse that it is not allowed for Muslims to attack any faction of Muslims by relying on the report of a fāsiq. In this verse, Muslims or their government are guided on what to do when two factions of Muslims are at war: they should try to resolve the issue. If either of the two is not ready for a reconciliation or after reconciliation commits an excess against the other by violating the terms of the reconciliation, then in this situation other Muslims or their government should wage war against the perpetrators of excess until they submit to the truth.
The words حَتَّى تَفِيءَ إِلَى أَمْرِ اللهِ mean to submit to the decision of the adjudicator. If a faction evades this decision, it is as if it evades submission to the decision of God. This is because in order to resolve this situation this is what the Almighty has ordered and when God had commanded thus, then its status is that of God's decision.
The words فَإِن فَاءتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا refer to the fact that if after this collective action by the Muslims they submit, then no further action should be taken against them on the grounds that they had adopted a rebellious attitude; on the contrary, peace should be made between the two parties on the basis of justice, and the party which has been inflicted with damage should be compensated.
The word أَقْسِطُوا has come to fulfil the consequences of justice. The implication is that neither should unfair concession be granted to anyone nor should anyone be oppressed: whatever is the need of justice should be implemented fairly and squarely. It is such just people whom the Almighty keeps as friends.
The following collective principles can be derived from this verse:
1. If two groups of Muslims are engaged in a fight with one another, other Muslims should not remain indifferent to this state of affairs and should not think that this matter does not concern them. Similarly, it is improper to support a group merely on the basis of familial or tribal bias without finding out which of the two is right. They must support the group which in their opinion is right, and, in no way, let biases form the basis of their support or otherwise. They must try to fully comprehend the situation, and, then, try to reconcile the two groups.
2. If one of the groups is not willing to reconcile, or, insists on war or after reconciliation presents conditions which are against justice, then, in this situation, it would be the duty of the Muslims to use force to make it submit to these conditions.
3. In such disputes, obeying the conditions of reconciliation presented in accordance with the directives of God and His Prophet (sws) by the neutral Muslims will be mandatory on the two factions the way it is mandatory to obey the directives of the sharī'ah. So much so, war will be declared on the faction which deviates from them.
4. If after reconciliation a faction violates the conditions of reconciliation, then it shall be regarded as a transgressor. It is obligatory on the Muslims to curb it from this act.
It should be kept in consideration that this directive relates to a situation when there is a central power of the Muslims which has the authority to intervene between two such factions or groups. In this age, the complex situation has arisen that many small and large Muslim states have been set up. If a war is, God forbid, waged between them, then it is not allowed for other Muslims states to ignore this situation. Every one of them should make efforts to make the warring states reconcile as is directed in this verse; however, practical intervention depends on the situation which relates to the political needs of the time. If the situation allows, use of force against the transgressing faction to make it submit to the truth will be totally justified. But if this is liable to cause further complexities in the international situation, then practical intervention should be abstained from; however, there can be no abstention from the efforts to make the two reconcile through diplomatic means.
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ (10)
All Muslims are brothers to one another. A dispute between them is, in the very first place, against their brotherhood; however, if Satan is able to instigate a dispute, then other Muslims should try to make peace between them and not to further ignite this enmity. The words وَاتَّقُوا اللهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ say that Muslims should keep fearing God. If they become a means of death and destruction for their brethren or if they are involved in a brawl on the basis of some national, tribal, geographical or political expediency, then they should remember that they will not be able to save themselves from the grasp of God. Only the people who always try to strengthen the brotherhood established by God will be regarded worthy of His mercy; those who neither do anything to weaken it nor, as far as they can, give an opportunity to anyone else to do so.
The dual used in بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ does not imply that the war is only between brothers; in fact, this is used for two factions of Muslims. Such usage of the dual is common in Arabic; examples can be seen in the previous sūrahs.
The Source of Jarh and Ta'dīl in the Qur'ān
Our scholars of Hadīth regard verse six of Sūrah Hujurāt: ...
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءكُمْ فَاسِقٌ to be the source for verifying the reliability or unreliability of the narrators of Hadīth as a result of which the great science of rijāl was born – which is one of the sciences of which the pioneers are Muslims.
This verse directs Muslims to fully investigate news given to them by a fasīq. This directive is indeed a general one for it is essential to investigate all news likely to have far-fetched consequences. However, if someone attributes a report to the Prophet (sws), then it is even more important that it be scrutinized. The Prophet (sws) is a divinely appointed guide: each of his directives and practices is the best exemplar for the Muslims. If something is wrongly ascribed to him and it is accepted without inquiry, then this can result in a loss not only in this world but in the Hereafter as well.
Though the verse only asks Muslims to investigate the news given by a fāsiq, yet it is obvious that if a narrator is majhūl (not known) such that neither is he known to be trustworthy nor untrustworthy, then it is essential that he too be researched into. This is because there is a chance that in accepting the report of an unknown narrator that person turns out in reality to be a fāsiq. Thus scholars of Hadīth have always investigated majhūl narrators so that their reliability or unreliability can be ascertained. If they were not able to find out the details of a narrator, they rejected him by regarding him to be majhūl.
It is also evident from the verse that this investigation is essential when a fāsiq gives a piece of news that has far reaching consequences. This is because the word used is نَبَأwhich is used for a piece of news that is important and has far reaching consequences. This word is not used for a common piece of news or incident. Thus in general matters of every day life there is nothing wrong in accepting the information of a fāsiq.
The verse asks Muslims to investigate both the narrator and his narration since the words used are: "Believers! When a fāsiq brings a piece of news to you, investigate it." It is obvious that the object of the verb فَتَبَيَّنُوا is both the narrator and his narration; in fact, that the narration is the object of the verb is even more evident. This is because it is already known that the narrator is fāsiq. In the investigation of a report, just as the reliability and trustworthiness of a narrator is important, even more important is to critically evaluate the words of the report, its context and background, its accordance or discordance with other reports, its analysis in the light of reason and revelation and, most important of all, its harmony with the Book of God and related things. If only the narrator is scrutinized and all these aspects are disregarded, then it cannot be said that research has been thoroughly done. Our scholars of Hadīth mostly stress on scrutinizing the narrator and do not give much importance to scrutinizing the content of the report with regard to the aspects I have just referred to. This is in spite of the fact that without researching into these aspects we cannot say that the investigation is thorough. It is for this reason that our jurists have enunciated principles to scrutinize the contents of a report and this process is called darāyah. The greatest share in this service is that of Imām Abū Hanīfah (ra). By contributing in this regard, he has not only done a great favour to fiqh, he has also done a great service to the discipline of Hadīth. Had our scholars of Hadīth properly applied these principles, the great propaganda and uproar against Hadīth would never have originated by mischief-mongers which opened the way to many interventions in religion by many misled sects. If God gives me the urge and time to write my proposed book on the principles of deliberation on Hadīth, I will inshā'Allāh try to elaborate upon the value and importance of these principles.
It is evident from the above details that it is in accordance with this explicit directive of the Qur'ān that our scholars of Hadīth have exposed fāsiq and majhūl narrators. However, in these times, some well-wishers of such narrators have asserted that exposing the blemishes of these narrators amounts to backbiting which the Qur'ān has prohibited in verse twelve of this very sūrah and regarded it to be equivalent to consuming the meat of one's dead brother. In their opinion, because of a certain "strategy", the scholars of Hadīth legalized this prohibition in order to save religion from the narratives of fāsiq narrators. From this point, they postulated an even deeper and subtle point that none of the prohibitions of the sharī'ah is eternal. Hence, the leader of an Islamic Movement (Tahrīk-i Islāmī) has the right under the requisites of this "strategy" to legalize a prohibition. I have already humbly commented on these views in some of my articles;there is neither need nor requirement to repeat this critique here. It suffices to say that would the scholars of Hadīth legalize a thing as filthy as backbiting as part of this so called "strategy" when the Qur'ān has so explicitly directed to expose the fāsiq and majhūl narrators.
It also needs to be kept in consideration that regarding the impugning of narrators to be backbiting is the work of the exponents of tasawwuf. Since the whole edifice of tasawwuf stands on weak and baseless narratives, when the scholars of Hadīth began researching into the narrators of a report, these people thought that if this work continued fearlessly the whole edifice of tasawwuf would be razed to the ground. In order to safeguard themselves from this danger, the exponents of tasawwuf started to allege that the scholars of Hadīth were indulging in backbiting. This point became very popular among the circles of tasawwuf. This point was adopted by some minds of the present age who dubbed it as "strategy", and, on this basis, enunciated such a principle which could disfigure the whole religion.
In the end, another thing about this verse should be kept in mind. Some scholars of Hadīth and fiqh, while investigating the narratives of a fāsiq person, gave importance to the practical fisq which emanated from him while disregarding the fisq of his belief and ideology. It is their opinion that if a person is guilty of some practical fisq like telling a lie or has a bad moral conduct, then his narrative and testimony shall no doubt not be accepted; however, if he has belief which can be regarded as fisq, then merely on this basis his narrative or testimony shall not be rejected. In my opinion, this view is absolutely wrong. Experience shows that the number of narratives fabricated by people having beliefs which reflect fisq are much more than those fabricated by people whose deeds reflect fisq. It is their narratives which are found in great numbers in books of sīrah, tafsīr, tasawwuf and history and which have been misused by innovators and misguided sects. May God have mercy on the scholars who have given this concession to narrators having fisq in their beliefs and in this manner set this ummah on a trial which is not at all easy for the upright.
In my opinion, this division between fisq in belief and fisq in practice is meaningless. There is nothing in the Qur'ān and Hadīth which supports this view. The general principle stated earlier regarded fāsiq people is in accordance with reason and revelation if it is applied to the people who have fisq in their beliefs: their report and testimony shall be accepted in all matters in which the report of a disbeliever is acceptable; however, important, in particular religious matters, their report and testimony cannot possibly be accepted.